Ukrainians are now psychologically ready to retake the Crimean Peninsula from Russia by force, President Vladimir Zelensky told French broadcaster TF1 in an interview on Sunday. “The Reconquest” of Crimea has supposedly already started in Ukrainians’ heads, the president claimed, hinting that he could visit the “de-occupied” peninsula as early as 2023.
“The operation itself has not started yet,” Zelensky said, when asked about Kiev’s plans for Crimea. “When it starts, you will definitely hear about it,” he told TF1, adding that he personally believes “the reconquest of Crimea has started in people’s heads, and that’s very important.”
According to Zelensky, it was not enough for Kiev to just repeatedly state that the peninsula is a part of Ukrainian territory. Ukraine should be ready to retake it by force, he said, adding that Russia would hardly give up on it.
“One should be ready and go [to Crimea],” Zelensky said. “No one would just surrender Crimea for no particular reason. Reconquest always starts with society: with its will and readiness. I believe the start has been made,” the president explained.
Zelensky didn’t provide any details about the timing of the purported operation but said that he “loves Crimea” and would be “glad to come to our de-occupied Crimea,” adding that it would be “nice” to get there in summer 2023.
Earlier this week, Aleksey Danilov, the head of Ukraine’s national security and defense council, also said that Ukraine plans to take the peninsula back. “We will fight for Crimea if needed,” he said, adding that Kiev would not ask for permission to do that.
Crimea has been a part of Russia since a 2014 referendum in which residents there voted overwhelmingly to join Russia in the wake of the Maidan coup in Kiev. Zelensky has repeatedly stated that he intends to seize control of Crimea, along with the four former regions of Ukraine that recently voted to join the Russian Federation.
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