In a video conference press briefing, Undersecretary of State Victoria Nuland reiterated the US would support Ukraine militarily in as far as it wanted to take Crimea.
The Crimean Peninsula was annexed by Russia after a plebiscite vote saw 97% of Crimeans vote to join Russia. Subsequent opinion polls reflected this general consensus.
Nuland didn’t state outrightly that if Ukraine were to attempt a siege of the peninsula, the US would support it, but she did refer to “all of its land within its international borders,” in response to a question specifically including Crimea.
In response, Russian spokesmen have accused the US of “inciting” Ukraine to escalate the war by condoning attacks on Crimea.
Nuland was one of two or three key organizers in the 2014 overthrow of Ukrainian president Yanukovych, along then-Vice President Joe Biden and her neoconservative husband Robert Kagan, who funneled a reported $5 billion to Ukrainian organizations looking to overthrow the government. Covering all of this in 2014 was legendary investigative reporter Robert Perry.
A recording of a phone call between Nuland and then-US Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt was leaked and released on YouTube on February 4th, 2014. In the call, Nuland and Pyatt discussed who should replace the government of former Ukrainian Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, who was forced to step down on February 22nd, 2014.
In the call, Nuland and Pyatt admit that Russia would be working behind the scenes to “torpedo it,” meaning the regime change, and that they needed someone from “international relations” to give it an “atta’ boy” and “make the deets stick,” settling on Biden by name.
No meaningful questions were directed at Undersecretary Nuland, however one journalist from Bulgaria referred to her as “Your Excellency,” before asking her what her “message was” to leaders in countries like Bulgaria and Romania who aren’t committing weapons packages to Ukraine.
Not everyone is as naive as Nuland was in her assumptions that Moscow would just roll over and accept the cards handed to them by her, Kagan, Pyatt, and Biden.
Nuland’s boss at the State Department, Antony Blinken, mercifully halted his department’s rhetoric on Wednesday, when he told experts over a Zoom call that a meaningful attempt to take Crimea would be seen as a “Red Line,” Politico reports.
According to four people with knowledge of Blinken’s response,Politico claimed he conveyed that the US isn’t actively encouraging Ukraine to retake Crimea, but that the decision is Kyiv’s alone, however he underlined that he didn’t think it would be wise, and didn’t think it could be done.
Several Russian senior officials including the Defense Minister, Prime Minister, and Deputy Defense Minister, have all said that Russia would only use nuclear weapons if Russian territory were under threat. Obviously this doesn’t count the four provinces annexed last April, or the Kremlin would have ordered Kyiv’s annihilation.
Crimea is a different matter. It’s a critically-strategic naval base as well as a historical monument to a heroic yet doomed 19th-century defensive effort by Imperial Russia when 150,000 men perished defending it from a coalition of France, Britain, and Turkey. When a truck bomb struck the Kerch Bridge that leads to the peninsula, Russia greatly escalated the war in response.
Missile strikes, which had been a common, yet footnote-sized aspect of the war until that point, became a debilitating daily reality that targeted civilian infrastructure such as power stations and telecom towers.
From this military planners should be able to infer that Crimea is not to be considered in Putin and his general staff’s mind as an occupied area. WaL
PICTURED ABOVE: Victoria Nuland in Moldova in 2014. PC: U.S. Embassy Moldova. CC 3.0.