If Ukraine Takes Crimea, Putin Will Escalate Ukraine War, U.S. Says – United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned on Wednesday that, should Ukraine go ahead with rumored plans to retake the Crimean peninsula from Russia, it could prompt the Kremlin to broaden the scope of the invasion of Ukraine.
Blinken made the comments during a virtual conference with experts on Wednesday, and his suggestion could reveal another reason why the White House remains hesitant to provide long-range missile systems and F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine.
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According to Blinken, the retaking of Crimea is a red line for the Russian president – and if that redline is crossed, Putin could escalate the war and consider taking dramatic action against the West.
Whether that would involve military action against the West, which would prompt a collective NATO response and effectively trigger a third world war, or whether it would see Russia seek other avenues to hurt the West is unclear.
What is more certain, however, is how Kyiv will respond to the comments.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has repeatedly promised to take back control of Crimea since he took office in 2019, and he has repeated those promises several times since the outbreak of the war.
Zelenskyy’s calls for the United States’ longest-range missiles and missile systems reflect that desire, too, given that those systems would make it easier for Ukrainian forces on the front lines to fire deeper into Russian territory, including Crimea.
Did the White House Tell Kyiv Not To Attack Crimea?
Blinken’s comments about the future of Crimea came in response to a question about whether the United States is willing to specifically help Ukraine achieve its goal of reclaiming the territory, which was lost to Russia in 2014.
Blinken said that the decision ultimately lies with Ukraine and that the White House’s focus is helping Ukraine make gains where the fighting is taking place, meaning the eastern Donbas region.
If Blinken did in fact tell reporters that the decision to retake Crimea is a decision Kyiv must make on its own, it doesn’t mean the White House hasn’t expressed concern about it.
The comments, if anything, could indicate that the White House has already expressed its concerns to Kyiv that attempting to reclaim Crimea using western weapons risks a broader and more aggressive response from Russia.
At this stage of the conflict, and with so many metropolitan regions of Ukraine completely flattened, however, Kyiv may not share quite the same concerns as the White House.
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Jack Buckby is 19FortyFive’s Breaking News Editor. He is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and reports on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.