Day 359: Mixed US Signals on Crimea, Zelenskyy Rules Out Land Concessions

    Day 359: Mixed US Signals on Crimea, Zelenskyy Rules Out Land Concessions
    Last updated Feb 17, 2023
    Image credit: Reuters [via Reuters]


    • US Sec. of State Anthony Blinken reportedly told experts in a private call on Wednesday that any Ukrainian attempt to retake Crimea would be a red line for Russian Pres. Vladimir Putin, and could lead to a wider escalation of the conflict.[1]
    • According to four people with knowledge of the call who spoke to Politico, Blinken said the US is not actively encouraging Ukraine to retake Crimea, but stressed that the decision was Kyiv's alone.[1]
    • Although Under Sec. of State of Victoria Nuland was reportedly present on the call, she told a meeting of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace on Thursday that the US considers Crimea a legitimate target for attacks by Ukraine. "No matter what the Ukrainians decide about Crimea," she said, "Ukraine is not going to be safe unless Crimea is at a minimum ... demilitarized."[2]
    • Responding to a question about Russian military fortifications in Crimea, Nuland said: "Those are legitimate targets, Ukraine is hitting them and we are supporting that."[2]
    • Nuland's comments prompted angry responses from a range of Russian lawmakers and officials on Friday. Igor Girenko, a spokesman for the Russian embassy in the US, said the remarks were, "a clear confirmation of Russia's position that the United States is directly involved in the conflict." He added: "Inciting Kyiv criminals to attack Crimea is the same as pushing them to attack Moscow or Vladivostok."[3]
    • Elsewhere, in an interview with the BBC ahead of the one-year anniversary of the beginning of the conflict, Ukrainian Pres. Volodymyr Zelenskyy ruled out making any territorial concessions in exchange for a potential peace deal. "Any territorial compromises would make us weaker as a state," he said.[4]
    • On the ground, Russian attacks continued to be reported in the regions of Donetsk, Kharkiv, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia in the past 24 hours. In Donetsk, five civilians were recorded killed and 10 more were injured, while three people were reported killed and seven more were injured in Kherson. One civilian was reported killed and seven more were injured in Kharkiv.[5]


    Pro-establishment narrative

    Putin's unprovoked invasion of Ukraine was launched on the pretext of multiple lies, including that Russian speakers in Donetsk were facing a "genocide" and that NATO expansion was threatening Moscow. America and the West must continue to push back against these falsehoods and protect Ukraine's sovereignty from Putin's anti-democratic aspirations.

    Establishment-critical narrative

    Numerous diplomats through the years have warned that bringing Ukraine into the NATO sphere of influence was an unacceptable prospect for Russia and that it would lead to a conflict with disastrous consequences. Russia's concerns must be listened to if we're ever going to reach a negotiated settlement for this tragic conflict.

    Nerd narrative

    There is a 1% chance that Ukraine will join NATO before 2024, according to the Metaculus prediction community.

    Establishment split



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