Liberating Crimea is key for Ukraine resuming Black Sea trade, expert says

16 February, 10:33 PM
Hodges warns against making deals with Russians (Photo:Kyiv Jewish Forum)

Hodges warns against making deals with Russians (Photo:Kyiv Jewish Forum)

Russia-occupied Crimea is a military base, and Ukraine won’t be able to resume economic activity in the Black Sea region until the peninsula liberated, former commander of U.S. Army forces in Europe, retired Lieutenant General Ben Hodges, said at Kyiv Jewish Forum on Feb. 15.

He noted that the Russian Black Sea Fleet is capable of interrupting or blocking maritime trade traffic from Odesa. And when it comes to security, Crimea is already a launch pad for Russian aircraft.

“Mariupol or the liberated ports will never be able to recover and become functional as long as Russia controls access to the sea,” said Hodges.

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“And we know that they (Russia) will never keep a single agreement.”

He added that potential negotiations on the status of Crimea are a Russian trap.

“If Ukraine agrees or is pressured to give up Crimea as part of the negotiations, the Russians will simply wait for a couple of years until we (the allies) lose interest, and then launch a new offensive,” Hodges said.

“So, I believe that Crimea for this reason is a decisive platform. When Ukraine liberates Crimea, Donbas will follow."

He also stressed that for the long-term protection of its sovereignty, Ukraine must return all lost territories and join NATO and the EU. At the same time, Russia must be held accountable for the war crimes it committed.

“And then, of course, you need a long-term security agreement with Ukraine that will help it to prepare for any future Russian attack, and make it able to deter it,” the retired general concluded.

Previously, Swiss newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung wrote that CIA chief William Burns made a secret trip to Moscow in January. He reportedly offered Russian dictator Vladimir Putin a fifth of the territory of Ukraine to end the war. U.S. officials have subsequently contested the accuracy of the report.

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