The White House reconsiders its attitude to Ukraine's liberation of Crimea

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Biden administration ready to change its stance on Crimea's return to Ukraine
Word and deed

The Biden administration is leaning towards the idea that Ukraine should hit the Russians' military in Crimea. But no long-range weapons have been given so far.

A new story in The New York Times says this.

According to the journalists, attitudes in the Biden administration are beginning to change towards Ukraine striking at the annexed peninsula.

Official communications also acknowledge that Crimea belongs to Ukraine.

Throughout the war, we have said that Crimea is Ukraine and Ukraine has the right to defend itself and its sovereign territory within its internationally recognised borders," said Adrienne Watson, a spokeswoman for the National Security Council.

That said, privately, military and administration officials questioned whether it was appropriate for Ukraine to focus its attacks on Crimea.

But the Biden administration has come to believe that if the Ukrainian military can show Russia that its control of Crimea could be threatened, it would strengthen Kiev's position in any future negotiations. In addition, fears that the Kremlin would retaliate with tactical nuclear weapons have diminished, US officials and experts say, though they warn the risk remains.

That said, Bajde is not yet ready to provide Ukraine with the long-range missile systems Kiev would need to attack Russian facilities on the peninsula.

Ukrainian officials have long insisted that Crimea is an important target for their attacks, and that continuing military attacks on Russian bases there is an important part of their strategy. Ukrainian military officials have also discussed with U.S. officials the importance of increasing pressure on the Russian rear echelon in Crimea, which supports military operations in other parts of Ukraine.

By deciding to hand over the Bradley to Ukraine, the Biden administration came close to providing Kiev with what senior Ukrainian officials had been asking the United States for months: direct American assistance to Ukraine to go on the offensive - including attacks on Crimea.

Yet despite the additional weaponization, the Biden administration does not believe Ukraine can take Crimea militarily - and, indeed, there are still concerns that such a move could encourage Putin to escalate in response. But officials say they now believe Russia needs to believe Crimea is under threat, in part to bolster Ukraine's position in any future negotiations.

"Without Crimea, everything will fall apart," said Evelyn Farkas, the Pentagon's chief spokeswoman on Ukraine in the Obama administration.

Last month, Secretary of State Anthony J. Blinken reiterated the permanence of US policy towards Ukraine - with the Biden administration seeking to help the country regain territory seized during and after the Russian invasion last year.

"Our focus is to continue to do what we have been doing, which is to make sure that Ukraine has in its hands what it needs to defend itself against Russian aggression in order to regain the territories it has seized since February 24," Mr Blinken told the Wall Street Journal Leadership Council summit.

By Blinken's definition, that territory does not include Crimea.

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