The fighting will go on until Kiev takes back Crimea, the president claims
Ukraine will keep fighting against Russia until it regains control of the Crimean Peninsula, President Vladimir Zelensky has promised.
"This Russian war against Ukraine, against the whole of free Europe, began with Crimea and it should end with Crimea - with its liberation," Zelensky said in a video address on Tuesday.
"Crimea is Ukrainian, and we'll never give up on it," the president vowed, insisting that the peninsula, which overwhelmingly voted to reunite with Russia in a 2014 referendum in response to a coup in Kiev, has been "occupied" by Moscow all those years.
There will be no peace in the Black Sea and the Mediterranean regions "as long as Russia is able to use our peninsula as a military base," he claimed.
However, Zelensky acknowledged that it was currently "impossible to say" when exactly will Ukraine be able to reclaim Crimea. "But we're constantly adding new components to the formula of liberating" the peninsula, he added.
Last month, Ukrainian deputy defense minister Vladimir Gavrilov claimed that Kiev is going to use Western-supplied weapons to destroy the Russian Black Sea Fleet, which is based in the Crimean port city of Sevastopol, and take the peninsula back. Such an operation is going to be carried out "sooner or later," he told the UK media.
Other Ukrainian officials issued threats against Crimea recently, including Zelensky's top aide Alexey Arestovich, who said that Kiev could strike the 19-kilometer-long Kerch Bridge connecting Crimea to Russia's Krasnodar Region as soon as it gains technical capability to do so.
Moscow has been insisting that Crimea is well-protected from any attack by the Ukrainian side.
However, former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who is now deputy chair of the country's National Security Council, warned that if the leadership in Kiev really decided to use force against the peninsula "the Day of Judgment will come to them all simultaneously - a swift and hard one."