Ukraine has military brawn to retake Crimea, Biden official tells Congress

Russia Ukraine War
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky gives a speech to the media in Kherson, southern Ukraine, Monday, Nov. 14, 2022. Ukraine’s retaking of Kherson was a significant setback for the Kremlin and it came some six weeks after Russian President Vladimir Putin annexed the Kherson region and three other provinces in southern and eastern Ukraine — in breach of international law — and declared them Russian territory. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue) Bernat Armangue/AP

Ukraine has military brawn to retake Crimea, Biden official tells Congress

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Ukraine likely has the military power needed to retake Crimea from Russian control, a Biden administration official reportedly told members of Congress.

The official made the assessment during a briefing with members of Congress in late November, but United States national security experts fear that if Ukraine pushes too hard, it could drive Russian President Vladimir Putin to deploy nuclear weapons to avert such a devastating loss on the battlefield, NBC reported.

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Relations between Russia and Ukraine took a sharp downturn in 2014 when Moscow annexed the Crimean Peninsula following the Revolution of Dignity that put pro-Western leadership in charge in Kyiv. The move got Russia booted from the Group of Eight countries, now the Group of Seven, and slapped with sanctions. Additionally, Ukraine moved to cut off the water supplies.

During the briefing, the official also emphasized that the United States has no immediate ambitions to see Ukraine retake Crimea, according to the report. However, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has vowed to “liberate” Crimea. This has reportedly led to private discussions among the top U.S. national security brass over how to handle a Ukrainian offensive in Crimea.

Since July, there have been multiple unclaimed attacks in Crimea, such as a strike on Russia’s Black Sea fleet in Sevastopol and a fiery attack on the Kerch Bridge, which connects Crimea to mainland Russia — a development Ukraine cheered.

On occasion, Ukraine has taken provocative actions in the war without informing the U.S. or other allies in advance, but officials are optimistic that it will not initiate a dramatic escalation such as an offensive in Crimea without apprising its allies, according to the report.

Although U.S. officials have not seen evidence that Russia is gearing up for a nuclear strike, Putin fueled fears in September of the war in Ukraine turning nuclear when he pledged to defend the “territorial integrity of our Motherland” by “all the means at our disposal,” comments that were widely interpreted as a nuclear threat. Some top Russian figures have also openly toyed with the prospect of using nuclear weapons in Ukraine.

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Throughout the war, Ukraine has managed to recover large swaths of land seized by Russia, but recently, it has incurred losses near Bakhmut in the east. On Friday, Russia unleashed a barrage of missiles into Ukrainian territory, dealing damage to the country’s energy infrastructure.

The U.S. and its allies have funneled billions of dollars worth of weapons and other aid to Ukraine since the war broke out in February. Initially, expected to get toppled by Russia within days of the invasion, Kyiv has managed to defy expectations in the fight against Russian invaders.

© 2022 Washington Examiner

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