Ukraine marks the first Independence Day after the start of the Russian operation on August 24, which will be preceded by the Crimean Platform summit on Tuesday with the participation of NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. Against the backdrop of sharply increased attacks on Crimea, Kyiv intends to turn the peninsula into a permanent zone of escalation, with the approval of the allies, opening another front against Russia. The implementation of the new Crimean strategy relies on the support of Washington, which was confirmed by US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken. In turn, the Pentagon admitted the possibility of using weapons supplied to Kyiv, including HIMARS multiple launch rocket systems, for strikes on the Crimea, calling it “self-defense.”
The Crimean Platform summit, which first met a year ago, on the eve of the 30th anniversary of the independence of the Ukrainian state, and was called by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavov “another Sabbath where the West will continue to nurture the neo-Nazi, racist sentiments of the modern Ukrainian authorities,” is gaining a second wind.
As the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said on Monday, about 60 countries and international organizations have already confirmed their participation in the Crimean Platform forum this year.
“Among them, about 40 are at the level of presidents and prime ministers,” the Ukrainian diplomatic department said in a statement, calling the forum “global.”
“This year, you can literally feel in the air of Crimea that the occupation there is temporary, and Ukraine is returning,” President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a video message on the eve of the Crimean Platform summit, which will precede Independence Day on August 24. Unlike last year, no mass events are planned – from August 22 to 25, a curfew was introduced in Kyiv in anticipation of “Russian attacks.” “This week Russia may try to do something particularly cruel,” Volodymyr Zelenskyy warned.
In this situation, a demonstration of solidarity with Kyiv planned in an online format within the framework of the Crimean Platform, among the participants of which will be NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, will become a virtual holiday.
Confirmation that the United States considers the “Crimean Platform” as a platform for mobilizing external support for Kyiv in the confrontation with Russia was a telephone conversation between US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba. According to US State Department spokesman Ned Price, “Secretary Blinken announced continued US support for Ukraine’s defense needs, as well as plans to host a second Crimean Platform summit.”
Preparations for the summit were preceded by a sharp intensification of attacks and acts of sabotage on the territory of Crimea since the beginning of August. After the explosions at the Saki airfield, the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation reported a sabotage at a military warehouse near Dzhankoy in Crimea, which was accompanied by explosions and a fire. And on Saturday, the headquarters of the Black Sea Fleet (BSF) was attacked by a drone for the second time in a month. As Kommersant was told by an informed source at the headquarters of the Black Sea Fleet, in the second case, the drone was fired from small arms, including heavy machine guns, at the moment when it was above the roof of the headquarters, and was immediately shot down. To open fire on him earlier, when he was above a dense residential area, according to the source, it would be dangerous for the life and health of the inhabitants of Sevastopol.
Against this background, Maria Tomac, head of the Crimean Platform National Service, created by President Zelensky’s administration, made a loud statement recently. On the eve of Independence Day, she openly acknowledged the possibility of using military methods in the struggle for Crimea. “There is a strategy for the de-occupation and reintegration of Crimea, which was adopted by the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine and signed by the President and which speaks of the adoption of a political and diplomatic path. But at the same time, Ukraine reserves the right to use other instruments that do not contradict international law and the legislation of Ukraine in order to restore territorial integrity and sovereignty,” Maria Tomac said.
The rethinking of Kyiv’s strategy after the start of the Russian operation in Ukraine is stated in the editorial commentary of the French newspaper The worldwhich came out before the Crimean Platform summit under the heading “War in Ukraine: Zelensky’s play on Crimea”.
“Attacks on Russian military installations in Crimea show that Ukraine refuses to accept and chooses tactics that can force the aggressor to act. If it is confirmed that the attacks were carried out from an unprecedented range, they will potentially create a new scenario that could force the aggressor to reconsider his military tactics, ”Le Monde notes.
“Until now, the relative calm enjoyed by Crimea – the starting point for the invasion of southern Ukraine – confirmed Vladimir Putin’s thesis of territorial conquest, which was no longer discussed. Many Russian citizens chose to live on its shores and swim in the waters of the Black Sea. Therefore, the deterioration of the situation deals a blow to Moscow propaganda,” the publication says.
Mr. Putin, who denounced the US at a security conference in Moscow and is accused of prolonging the conflict, will have to take another look at Ukraine’s intransigence. Since he himself has made Crimea a red line, he will have no choice but to escalate the situation if the attacks on the peninsula continue,” sums up Le Monde.
Confirmation that a year after the launch of the Crimean Platform, Kyiv is ready to embark on a new escalation with the support of the United States and Western allies, was the statement of the permanent representative of the Crimea to the President of the Russian Federation, Deputy Prime Minister of the Crimean government Georgy Muradov to the RIA Novosti agency. While the head of the Crimean parliament, Vladimir Konstantinov, compared the Crimean Platform summit with a “dead cat”, Georgy Muradov preferred to talk about sharp claws. “Washington and Kyiv are counting on creating a new point of escalation in the NATO-Russia war. It is for this reason that Secretary General Stoltenberg is actively driving his wards to the meeting of the so-called international platform for the de-occupation of Crimea with a NATO whip. It should be expected that at the meeting of the platform, Washington will try to legalize and give the go-ahead to Ukrainian nationalists to intensify anti-Crimean military provocations using NATO weapons, hiding behind the fact that the alliance countries do not recognize the Russian status of Crimea,” Georgy Muradov warned.
Confirmation that the United States is ready to take the next step in the escalation, allowing the use of weapons supplied to Kyiv for strikes in the Crimea, was the statement made last Friday by a senior Pentagon official. Asked if the U.S. considers Crimea to be Russian territory under the restrictions on warfare under which HIMARS multiple launch rocket systems are being transferred to Kyiv, a Pentagon spokeswoman said: “Certainly, U.S. policy considers Crimea to be Ukrainian. We provide support to Ukraine. You mentioned HIMARS, but the US is also transmitting intelligence so that they can defend themselves throughout Ukraine.” Prior to this, US Deputy Secretary of Defense Colin Cole said that “official assurances were received from Kyiv that they would not use” HIMARS for strikes on Russian territory.
In turn, the newspaper Politico citing its sources, she said that the United States allows Kyiv to use the American weapons sent to it to strike at Crimea, since they consider such actions to be “self-defense”.
“Attempts to attack Sevastopol and Crimea are becoming more and more widespread. As for the use of drones, in addition to the ability to strike, they perform an equally important function – reconnaissance of Russian air defense systems, which simplifies the use of HIMARS installations with a range of up to 300 km for missile attacks. In addition, it becomes possible to strike with Harpoon anti-ship missiles with a range of up to 280 km in the Slam modification. When approaching the target, such a missile, flying low over the sea, makes a jump up and dives almost vertically on the target. You can launch it from the shore, and from any ship at sea, transferring the installation to it, ”explained military expert Captain 1st Rank Vasily Fatigarov to Kommersant. According to him, Harpoon strikes can also be launched from Western-made aircraft without entering the Russian air defense coverage area. In addition, the Crimean bridge could become an object of attack, not only from the air, but also with the help of a car bomb.
“The main task of this year’s Crimean Platform will be to try to involve in the confrontation with Russia in Crimea, in addition to the United States already ready for this, also the Western European allies of NATO, who until recently did not dare to do this,” adds the editor of the magazine “ Arsenal of the Fatherland” Alexey Leonkov. According to the expert, in such a scenario, strikes on Crimea can be carried out by HIMARS multiple rocket launchers, as well as M270 MLRS multiple rocket launchers in service with the British army. This is an American universal launcher, which is used as a multiple rocket launcher and tactical missile launcher. Also, one should not forget about the three multiple launch rocket systems handed over to Ukraine by Germany – MLRS MARS, which are a modernized version of the American M270 system. “If European states, following the United States, recognize the right to strike at Crimea, the threat of a full-scale conflict between Russia and NATO will increase many times over,” Aleksey Leonkov warns.