Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has said that the ongoing war with Russia will not end until the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea, which was annexed by Moscow, is liberated.
“Crimea is Ukrainian, and we will never abandon it,” the president was quoted as saying by the dpa news agency in his late-night video address on Tuesday.
In his evening speech, President Volodymyr Zelensky said that the Russian war against Ukraine began with the occupation of Crimea and must end with his release.
“Russia has turned our peninsula, which has always been and will be one of the best places in Europe, into one of the most dangerous places in Europe. Russia brought large-scale repression, environmental problems, economic despair and war to Crimea.”
Zelensky added that “it is impossible to say” when the liberation will take place, but Ukraine is constantly “adding the necessary components to the Crimean liberation formula.”
Crimea is internationally recognized as part of Ukraine, but the Black Sea peninsula was annexed by Russia in 2014 after a referendum deemed illegitimate by the world community. Many Ukrainians see this as the beginning of their war with Russia.
On Tuesday, a series of explosions rocked the Saky military base near Novofedorivka in western Crimea, near seaside resorts popular with Russian tourists.
Novofedorivka and Saky are about 50 kilometers (30 miles) north of the port of Sevastopol, home to Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, which has been leading a blockade of the Ukrainian coast. The air base had been used by Russia to launch strikes against targets inside Ukraine.
Images on social media showed beachgoers running when the explosions occurred, with witnesses saying they had heard at least 12 explosions. The Russian-appointed health department in Crimea said one civilian had been killed and eight others injured.
Russia annexed the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea in 2014 after sending troops and then organizing a referendum there, in a move not recognized by most other countries. Many Ukrainians believe that it was the beginning of the war with Russia.
Crimea, a vacation destination for many Russians, had so far been spared the shelling and artillery shelling seen by much of the rest of Ukraine.
While other areas in eastern and southern Ukraine have come under relentless attack, this was the first time the region had been attacked since Russia invaded the country in February.
Neither party has officially claimed responsibility for these explosions. Russia’s Defense Ministry said the “detonation of several aviation ammunition stores” had caused an explosion, local news agencies reported, but there were no injuries.
Asked if Ukraine was taking responsibility for the attacks, presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak told the Dozhd online TV channel: “Of course not. What do we have to do with this?”
But a Kyiv official told the Washington Post that Ukrainian special forces were behind the explosions in Crimea. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, did not reveal how the attack was carried out.
A US official told the newspaper that the attack was carried out without using weapons provided by Washington.
On February 24 this year, Moscow launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, using Crimea as a springboard to move Russian troops deep into Ukraine.
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