A Ukrainian Official Proposes A Crimea Without Russia
- Since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022, tens of thousands of people have been killed and whole cities have been destroyed in the war.
- Ukrainian Sports Minister Vadym Huttsait said that 262 Ukrainian athletes were among those who died. He said this to back up Kiev's call to ban Russia from the Olympics.
On Sunday, a top Ukrainian official outlined a number of steps that the government in Kyiv would take after regaining control of Crimea. One of these steps would be to take apart the strategic bridge that connects the seized Black Sea peninsula to Russia.
Oleksiy Danilov, the secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, released the plan as the country’s military prepares for a spring counteroffensive. After more than 13 months of war, they want to end Russia’s full-scale invasion by making new, decisive gains.
In 2014, Moscow took Crimea from Ukraine, but most of the rest of the world doesn’t recognize it as a part of Russia. How the peninsula will be used in the future will be a key part of any talks to end the fighting.
As a condition for peace, the Kremlin has told Ukraine that it must recognize Russia’s control over Crimea and other land gains it has made. Kyiv has said that it won’t talk to Moscow about peace until all Russian troops leave all occupied areas, including Crimea.
Danilov said that Ukrainians who worked for the government in Crimea that was put in place by Moscow should be prosecuted. He said that some of them should face criminal charges, while others should lose their government pensions and be banned from getting public jobs.
Danilov wrote on Facebook that all Russians who moved to Crimea after 2014 should be kicked out, and all real estate deals made while Crimea was under Russian rule should be thrown out.
As part of the plan, he also wanted Russia’s 19-kilometer (12-mile) bridge to Crimea to be taken apart. In October, a truck bomb badly damaged the bridge, which is the longest in Europe and a sign of how Moscow took over the peninsula.
Russia fixed the broken part of the bridge and got supplies back to Crimea, which was a key base for the Russian army during the war. Moscow said that the attack was done by Ukrainian military intelligence. Kyiv didn’t say it was their fault, but Ukrainian officials had threatened to hit the bridge many times before.
Danilov also argued for changing the name of Sevastopol, which has been the main base for the Russian Black Sea Fleet since the 1800s. He said that it could be called Object No. 6 until the Ukrainian parliament decides on a different name. He suggested Akhtiar, which was the name of a village that used to be where the city is now.
Mikhail Razvozhayev, who was put in charge of Sevastopol by Moscow, said that Danilov’s plan was “sick.”
“It would be wrong to pay attention to what sick people say. “They need to be cured, and that’s what our military is doing right now,” Razvozhayev told the Russian state news agency Tass.
Danilov released his plan as Ukrainian troops were getting ready to use new Western weapons, like dozens of battle tanks, to break through Russian defenses and take back occupied areas in a counteroffensive that could start as soon as this month.
As part of their plan to take over all of Donetsk province, which is part of Ukraine’s industrial heartland in the eastern Donbas, Russian troops are trying to take over Bakhmut, a key Ukrainian stronghold. The campaign for Bakhmut, which lasts 8 months, is the longest and possibly deadliest battle of the war.
The Ukrainian military says that Russia’s latest rocket and artillery attacks have killed four civilians and hurt 15 others since Saturday. Two men were killed when a milk truck hit them early Sunday morning in the northern Sumy region.
Six more civilians were killed by Russian shelling late Sunday in Kostiantynivka, a small city in Donetsk province, according to the Ukrainian government. Officials say that the Russian barrage also damaged a number of homes and hurt eight people.
The Moscow-installed local government in Melitopol said that on Sunday, a Ukrainian rocket barrage hit a locomotive depot and damaged an apartment building in the southern city. Six civilians were hurt.
Officials in Ukraine also didn’t take direct blame for that attack. But Ivan Fedorov, who was put in charge of the city by Kyiv, called the explosions at the locomotive depot the climax of a “explosive week for the occupiers” that had already seen other hits over the past few days.
Since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022, tens of thousands of people have been killed and whole cities have been destroyed in the war.
Ukrainian Sports Minister Vadym Huttsait said that 262 Ukrainian athletes were among those who died. He said this to back up Kiev’s call to ban Russia from the Olympics.
Vitalii Merinov, who has won the world kickboxing title four times, is one of them. Merinov joined the Ukrainian military and died Friday from wounds he got in battle, according to the mayor of Ivano-Frankivsk, a city in the west of Ukraine.