Zelensky: Russia's war on Ukraine must end with Crimea's liberation
The focus of the war in Ukraine appears to be returning to Crimea, the region Russia annexed in 2014.
Driving the news: President Volodymyr Zelensky said Tuesday that Ukraine must retake Crimea for the war with Russia to end.
What he's saying: "This Russian war against Ukraine and against the entire free Europe began with Crimea and must end with Crimea — with its liberation," Zelensky said.
- "Crimea is Ukrainian, and we will never give it up," he added.
Worth noting: Zelensky said in May that Ukraine could accept peace if Russia returned to its pre-war positions, though he did not mention Crimea at the time.
Context: A series of explosions hit a Russian airbase in Crimea on Tuesday, killing at least one person and destroying nine Russian warplanes.
- Zelensky said Wednesday that Russian forces had lost nine combat aircraft in Crimea "and one more in the direction of Zaporizhzhia."
Between the lines: Ukraine hasn't officially claimed or denied responsibility for the blasts, but an unnamed Ukrainian official told the Washington Post the attack was carried out by special forces operating behind the Russian lines.
- Although this would be a significant escalation in the war, the Kremlin has denied that any aircrafts were damaged in the blasts — or even that an attack took place, AP notes.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian officials have been pushing their U.S. counterparts for assistance in hitting the Russian military's supply chains, which have strengthened its occupation of Kherson, Foreign Policy notes.
- "All of the supply chains come from Crimea, and that’s where they’re shooting from," Ukrainian lawmaker Sasha Ustinova told the outlet. "Our focus right now is a counterattack in the south to get Kherson back and to keep."
Go deeper... Dashboard: Russian invasion of Ukraine
Editor's note: This article has been updated to correct that Zelensky was commenting on Russia's aircraft losses in Crimea without mentioning who was responsible. He did not say Ukraine was behind the explosions.