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President of NATO member state says Crimea will ‘never again’ be part of Ukraine, argues against sending more weapons

  • The President of Croatia said that Crimea, annexed by Russia, will never join Ukraine after leaving NATO.
  • Zoran Milanović added that the additional supply of Western weapons would only “prolong the war.”

On Monday, the Croatian president seemingly broke with his NATO allies by publicly declaring that Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014, is forever lost to Ukraine.

“It is clear that Crimea will never be part of Ukraine again,” Zoran Milanovic said, according to Reuters.

The annexation of the region by Russia has not been recognized internationally, including by the EU, the US or China, and Ukraine has pledged to retake the Black Sea Peninsula as part of its current military effort.

The peninsula was overrun until the recent Russian invasion of Ukraine, which began in February 2022.

According to the Associated Press, Milanovic has also criticized the flow of Western weapons being sent to Ukraine, including the recent decision by Germany, the US and other allies to send advanced tanks.

“I am against sending lethal weapons there,” he told reporters during a visit to a military barracks. “It prolongs the war.”

He added: “What is the purpose? The collapse of Russia, the change of power? There is also talk of tearing Russia apart. This is madness”.

Milanovic’s view that sending weapons to Ukraine would prolong the war is at odds with many Western officials who say giving Ukraine the weapons it needs is the best way to end the conflict as quickly as possible.

Former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in December that providing Ukraine with better weapons would help end the war. “Ukrainians have the valor necessary for success. They showed it. They just need the equipment,” he said.

In recent months, Ukraine has pushed Russian forces eastward, thwarting their attempts to conquer vast areas of the country.

Experts told Insider correspondent John Haltiwanger this month that the battle for Crimea could be the next big phase of the war.

The Croatian President has repeatedly criticized Western aid to Ukraine, Reuters notes.

Milanović said in October that Croatia would not train Ukrainian troops because “I don’t want Croatia to be more involved in this war than necessary.”

But Prime Minister Andriy Plenkovych, who has more political power, has taken a more pro-Ukrainian stance.

On Monday, he said Milanovic’s comments “cause direct damage to Croatia’s foreign policy position,” AP reported.

Plenkovic also said last June that he supported Ukraine’s moves to join the EU, and in September he accused Russia of “violating international law.”

Earlier this month, Plenkovich said that “the main thing is that we support Ukraine in restoring its territories, in preserving their sovereignty, in preserving the constitutional order.”

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