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US says Ukraine may have to negotiate territory – RT World News

Washington has generally rejected diplomacy with Moscow in favor of military aid to kyiv since fighting erupted last year

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has suggested that Ukraine may need to start talks with Russia before issues over its borders can be resolved, but insisted that such decisions should be left to Kyiv.

During a congressional hearing on Thursday, the top US diplomat was asked if the White House supports Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky in his wishes to retake the Crimean peninsula by force, offering only an indirect answer.

“I think there will be territory in Ukraine that Ukrainians are determined to fight for on the ground; there may be territory that they decide they will have to try to reclaim by other means,” Blinken said, apparently referring to diplomatic efforts.

However, he went on to say that “These must be Ukrainian decisions about what they want their future to be and how it goes in terms of sovereignty, territorial integrity, independence of the country,” but added that Washington would like to avoid a situation that “simply invite the Russians to reset, rearm and then attack again” following possible negotiations.

The question to Blinken was posed by Republican Representative Chris Stewart, who expressed concern that the United States would be “ask for a world of suffering” if he tried to ensure “no Russian presence in Crimea”, as has been repeatedly proposed by Zelensky.

The region has been in Moscow’s possession since 2014, when its predominantly Russian-speaking residents voted to reunite with the Russian Federation shortly after the Euromaidan coup in Ukraine. It was previously part of Russian territory and was, however, only transferred to the administrative control of Kyiv by the Soviet authorities in 1954.

Crimea has played a role in the current conflict in Ukraine, serving as a staging area for Russian forces concentrated in the south of the country. Earlier this week, Russian Navy ships in the region were attacked by drones but suffered no major damage after the drones were pushed back by air defenses, according to Sevastopol Governor Mikhail Razvozhayev. The city has been the main base of the Moscow Black Sea Fleet since its founding in 1783.

While U.S. officials appeared to back Zelensky’s previous wishes to take over the peninsula and largely avoided diplomacy with Russia, Blinken’s comments on Thursday may signal a softening of that stance. Moscow, however, has said Crimea will not be part of any future negotiations, insisting the region will remain under its control for good.

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