Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has declared the clock is ticking for Russia’s control of Crimea, arguing Kiev’s claims over the disputed peninsula have international backing, and that the West is simply afraid to act.
Speaking on Monday at the opening of the ‘Crimean Platform’ conference, designed to bring dignitaries together to discuss the future of the region, Zelensky announced that “the countdown to the liberation of the peninsula” has already begun. According to him, “August 23, 2021 will likely go down in history as the start of the de-occupation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol.”
The president acknowledged that “our independent country, Ukraine, will never be able to return Crimea alone,” adding that pressure from abroad was required to “force Russia to sit down at the negotiating table.”
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However, at the same time, Zelensky has expressed frustration at the decision of some of the most significant Western leaders not to attend the ‘Crimean Platform.’ While the Baltic nations, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Moldova, announced they would be represented at presidential level, most other European states elected to send a foreign minister instead.
In the case of both Germany and the US, delegates were taken from even lower down the diplomatic pecking order. Berlin and Washington will both be represented by their energy ministers.
“Many leaders are very afraid,” Zelensky said. “You know all the leaders who support Ukraine… sympathize with this cause. But for the Crimean Platform, we invited these leaders to attend. And so you can see they are afraid, they are afraid of Russia… This must be recognized,” he said.
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Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has previously criticized the conference, saying that by supporting Kiev’s focus on regaining Crimea, the West “will continue to nurture the neo-Nazi and racist mentality of the current Ukrainian government.”
Speaking later on Monday, Kremlin Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov told journalists that “we regard this event as extremely unfriendly towards our country. We categorically do not accept such statements.”
Crimea was reabsorbed by Russia in 2014 after a peninsula-wide vote that most countries across the world refuse to recognize. Moscow insists that the region is its sovereign territory and, under the terms of new amendments to the country’s constitution, can never be traded away.
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(This story has been published from RT News Network feed without modifications to the text)