Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council Secretary, Oleksiy Danilov, has presented a plan for the government’s course of action following the country’s hoped-for reclaiming of control over Crimea. The plan includes several measures aimed at restoring Ukrainian sovereignty and punishing those who collaborated with the Russian-appointed administration in the area.
The measures include the dismantling of the strategic bridge that connects the Black Sea peninsula to Russia, the expulsion of Russian citizens who moved to Crimea after 2014, nullification of all real estate deals made under Russian rule, and renaming the city of Sevastopol, which has been the main base for the Russian Black Sea Fleet since the 19th century.
In addition, Danilov suggested prosecuting Ukrainians who worked for the Moscow-appointed administration in Crimea. Some of these individuals may face criminal charges, while others will lose their government pensions and be banned from public jobs.
These measures are part of Ukraine’s military preparation for a spring counteroffensive to make decisive gains after over a year of war with Russia. Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, but most of the world does not recognize it as Russian territory, and its future status will be a key feature in any negotiations on ending the current fighting.
Moscow has demanded that Ukraine recognize Russia’s sovereignty over Crimea and acknowledge other land gains made by Moscow as a condition for peace. Kyiv has ruled out any peace talks with Moscow until Russian troops leave all occupied territories, including Crimea.
Russian troops are currently attempting to capture the key Ukrainian stronghold of Bakhmut as part of their efforts to take all of Donetsk province, which is part of Ukraine’s eastern industrial heartland of the Donbas. The eight-month campaign for Bakhmut is the longest and potentially deadliest battle of the war.
Russia’s latest rocket and artillery attacks killed four civilians and wounded 15 others since Saturday, according to the Ukrainian military. Ukrainian Sports Minister Vadym Huttsait reaffirmed Kyiv’s call to bar Russia from the Olympics, saying the death toll included 262 Ukrainian athletes, including four-time world kickboxing champion Vitalii Merinov, who died Friday of wounds sustained in action.
The situation in Ukraine remains tense, with both sides continuing to exchange fire and engage in military operations. The international community has called for an end to the violence and a peaceful resolution to the conflict. However, with Russia and Ukraine still at odds over the issue of Crimea, a lasting peace agreement may be difficult to achieve.