Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has thanked informants in Russian-occupied Crimea after previewing plans to attack the disputed peninsula.
Zelensky said during a video address on Wednesday that he had met with Ukrainian military leaders to discuss the “situation on the frontline” of the war against Russia. He thanked Ukrainians who had offered “support” for the large and ongoing counteroffensive focused on southern Ukraine. Zelensky also thanked those in Crimea who had provided “information” to military intelligence.
“I will not reveal the details [of the meeting] now,” Zelensky said. “I will say only one thing: on behalf of our intelligence, I want to thank all our people who support us very strongly in the south of our country, and especially in Crimea.”
“The intelligence officers are grateful for the information provided and will use it to the maximum,” he added. “Let the enemies not forget whose peninsula they are staying on. Temporarily staying.”
Crimea, situated to the south of Ukraine and bordered on nearly all sides by the Black Sea and Sea of Azov, was annexed by Russia in 2014. Zelensky has promised that the current military conflict will end after Crimea is taken back, with Russian forces pushed back and beyond Ukraine’s pre-2014 borders.
Zelensky suggested on Tuesday night that the southern counteroffensive, which has initially been focused taking back territory in the Russian-occupied Kherson region, would eventually reach Crimea and leave the Russian army without “a single safe base.”
The Ukrainian president also previewed plans to “destroy” Russian military facilities inside Crimea, including Sevastopol, its largest city and a major port to the Black Sea.
“From Crimea to the Kharkiv region, the Russian army does not have and will not have a single safe base, a single quiet place,” Zelensky said. “Our defenders will destroy all warehouses, headquarters of the occupiers, their equipment, wherever they are located.”
“Near Sevastopol—then near Sevastopol,” he continued. “This is Ukrainian land, and the occupiers can do only two things—flee or surrender. We leave them no other options.”
Zelensky told Ukrainians in Crimea to protect themselves by staying away from Russian military buildings and bases, while also urging them to provide the Ukrainian military with information about Russian military activities on the peninsula.
“All our people in Crimea—please stay away from Russian military facilities, do not stay near Russian bases and military airfields,” he said. “Inform the special services of Ukraine of all the information you know about the occupiers, so that the liberation of Crimea can happen faster.”
Zelensky has repeatedly spoken this week about apparent plans to engage with Russian forces in Crimea. During his televised address on Monday, he said that Ukraine’s military had “kept the goal” of recapturing Crimea during the eight years since Russia took the territory.
Newsweek reached out to the Russian government for comment.
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