kyiv has agreed not to attack most Russian territory with US weapons, but that does not apply to the peninsula, insists Dmitry Kuleba
The United States has not banned Ukraine from using US-made weapons to carry out strikes on the Crimean peninsula, Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba said Thursday.
Speaking to The Wall Street Journal, Kuleba described the peninsula, which voted overwhelmingly to become part of Russia in 2014, as internationally recognized Ukrainian territory. While Kiev had promised Washington to refrain from hitting Russian soil with US-supplied weapons, this agreement does not apply to Crimea, the minister said.
“Crimea is no different from the rest of Ukraine”, he said, adding that kyiv will “take all its territories” return, including the peninsula, either by military means or by diplomatic means.
“It is too early to make predictions about the balance between the two,” Kuleba added.
He also accused Russia of not being interested in the peace talks, arguing that Moscow is “preparing for new battles” In place. Russian officials have repeatedly said they are open to diplomatic engagement with Ukraine. “without any preconditions” except that kyiv is showing goodwill.
Last week, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov also dismissed accusations that Moscow was seeking peace talks with Ukraine as a ploy for a military buildup as a “shameless lie”.
After the start of the Russian military offensive in Ukraine in late February, the United States and its Western allies supplied Kyiv with massive amounts of weapons. However, Washington has been reluctant to support Ukraine with long-range weapons, especially ATACMS missiles with a range of 300 kilometers, fearing such a move would escalate the conflict.
To avoid possible complications, Washington secretly modified its High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) sent to Ukraine to prevent Kiev from carrying out deep strikes into Russian territory, the WSJ reported earlier this week.
In mid-September, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova warned the United States that if it supplied Kiev with long-range weapons, it would cross a “Red line” and make America “a direct party to the conflict”.
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