With a 12-point plan, Ukraine reaffirms its ambition to recapture Crimea

With a 12-point plan, Ukraine reaffirms its ambition to recapture Crimea

Ukraine unveiled a 12-point plan on Sunday outlining steps it will take once Crimea reintegrates into its national territory. kyiv has repeatedly declared in recent months that the return of the peninsula to Ukrainian territory is one of its main war objectives. An objective that Washington no longer rejects so categorically in recent months.

Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, has a twelve-point plan for Crimea. In this document, posted on sunday april 2which describes how to “vacate” the peninsula, even goes so far as to rename Sevastopol, Russia’s main military port on the Black Sea for 200 years, as “object number 6”.

For the rest, Oleksiy Danilov also promises to be implacable with the Ukrainians who have “cooperated with the Russian occupier” and foresees criminal actions and sanctions such as the deprivation of civil rights for these “collaborators”.

Posted on Facebook by the top Ukrainian official, the plan also calls for the demolition of the Kerch Strait Bridge (which connects the peninsula to the mainland on the Russian side), the expulsion of all Russian citizens who settled in Crimea after 2014 and the annulment of all real estate transactions carried out under Russian rule.

Crimea and Donbass, the same battle

This is an unpublished document that for the first time forecasts in detail how Crimea could be after the Ukrainian reconquest. A projection of the future that may seem disconnected from the realities on the ground and the state of the front. The Ukrainian army continues to try to repel Russian assaults on the city of Bakhmut. The hypothesis of a victorious push by Ukrainian forces towards the outskirts of Sevastopol – the capital of Crimea – can hardly figure on the immediate agenda of the Defense General Staff in kyiv.

In fact, Oleksiy Danilov’s statements mainly serve internal political purposes. “These twelve points include many elements of the plans for the Donbass regions. They are all programs that allow the government to reiterate its commitment to maintain or restore the territorial integrity of all of Ukraine in order to reassure public opinion,” says Huseyn Aliyev, a specialist in The Ukrainian-Russian Conflict from the University of Glasgow.

More than a year after the start of the big Russian offensive, kyiv is also taking more responsibility for putting Crimea at the top of its list of war targets. “At the beginning of the war, it was a taboo subject. It was all about defending the country,” says Huseyn Aliyev.

But “since the failure of the Russian attack on Kiev and the early successes of the Ukrainian counter-offensives, the idea of ​​recapturing Crimea has slowly entered official discourse,” says Jeff Hawn, a Russian security specialist and outside consultant to the New Lines Institutean American geopolitical research center.

Washington to the rescue?

At the end of August, Volodimir Zelensky stated that “everything started with Crimea [en 2014]and everything will end with Crimea.” Six months later, at the Davos (Switzerland) summit, the Ukrainian president called for more Western weapons to, among other things, “recover all our territories, including Crimea.”

It is a way for the Ukrainian leader to show his people “that the Ukrainian army, strengthened by its successes on the ground, is in prospect of conquest,” said Nicolo Fasola, a specialist in Russian military issues at the University of Bologna.

kyiv feels all the more free to flaunt its ambitions in broad daylight as the idea is gaining traction in Western capitals as well. Starting with Washington. In December 2022, Secretary of State Antony Blinken he did not want to hear about Crimea and stated that US support should only allow Ukraine “to reconquer the territories lost since February 24, 2022 (beginning of the Russian invasion war)”. Three months later, Victoria Nuland, number three in the State Department and nicknamed Joe Biden’s “Mrs. Ukraine”, stressed that kyiv “I would only be safe if Crimea were, at the very least, demilitarized”.

Easier said than done? A Ukrainian offensive against Crimea would present an unprecedented military challenge to kyiv. “Until now, the Ukrainian army has only attacked unfortified Russian positions. It will be completely different in Crimea, where Russia has had a whole defense system for almost eight years,” says Nicolo Fasola.

“Ukraine is missing one element to have a chance: long-range missiles,” says the ‘Politico’ website. That is why kyiv has been asking for US ATACMS (Army Tactical Missile System) missiles since the end of 2022. with a range of more than 300 km. “The Ukrainian army will hardly be able to approach the Crimean border without destroying part of the Russian defenses with long-range missiles,” analyzes Jeff Hawn.

Washington is reluctant to supply this type of weapon to kyiv. In the first place, “because the United States fears that Ukraine will use them to attack another part of Russian territory, and a missile of American origin that falls on Russian soil could cause a serious escalation of the conflict,” says Nicolo Fasola.

The United States also believes it “doesn’t have enough ATACMS to afford to send them to Ukraine,” adds Glen Grant, an analyst at the Baltic Security Foundation and an expert on the Ukrainian conflict. In fact, “it would probably take hundreds of ATACMS missiles to break through the Russian anti-aircraft defenses in the Crimea,” confirms Nicolo Fasola.

Threat of nuclear escalation?

However, the calls to recapture Crimea are not just political mumbo jumbo. “There will certainly be a battle for control of the Crimea before the war is over,” says Glen Grant. A confrontation that is not likely to occur in the immediate future. “Ukraine will want to liberate the Kherson and Zaporizhia provinces first and the army will need all its forces to achieve this, so Crimea will have to wait,” says Huseyn Aliyev. For him, the fighting will not reach the peninsula for at least a year.

The great unknown for these experts continues to be the reaction of the Kremlin. “There is a risk that Vladimir Putin decides to use nuclear attacks to counter an offensive in Crimea. And that is why some Western countries are reluctant to openly support the recapture of Crimea,” says Nicolo Fasola. Especially if kyiv uses missiles made in usa to make it.

*Analysis adapted from its original in French

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Written by Editor TLN

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