The Kremlin said on Thursday that Ukrainian strikes on Russian-annexed Crimea would be “extremely dangerous,” after the New York Times reported that U.S. officials were warming to the idea of helping Kyiv attack the peninsula.
Crimea, which is internationally recognized as part of Ukraine, was seized by Moscow and declared annexed in 2014. President Vladimir Putin says the peninsula, like much of the Ukrainian land seized since February, is historically Russian.
Soon after launching its invasion of Ukraine in February, Russia seized swathes of southeastern Ukraine that enabled it to create a land bridge from Russia to Crimea, one of the staging areas for the invasion.
In a briefing on Thursday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters:
“The mere discussion of allowing Ukraine to be supplied with arms that would allow it to attack Russian territory … is extremely dangerous.
“It would mean taking the conflict to a new level, which would not bode well for global and pan-European security.”
The peninsula is the historical base of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet and a popular summer holiday destination.
Attacks on Russian air and naval bases in Crimea and on the Russian-built road and rail bridge linking it to Russia across the mouth of the Azov Sea – which Ukraine has welcomed, while refraining from claiming responsibility – suggest Kyiv already has the ability to put pressure on Russian forces there.
Long-range HIMARS missile systems are among the U.S.-supplied weaponry that has already helped Ukraine to stem Russia’s advances and reclaim around 40 per cent of the territory it had seized since February.
Asked whether Washington would seek to bar Ukraine from using U.S. weapons in Crimea, State Department spokesperson Ned Price said on Wednesday that the peninsula was part of Ukraine, and that Washington was providing Kyiv with the supplies it needed to defend its territory.