Former Reagan Adviser Says Ukraine Should ‘Leave Crimea Alone’

The former aide to US President Ronald Reagan, Doug Bandow, believes the US’ goal in Ukraine should be to contain the effects of the crisis, urging the Biden administration to firmly ground Washington’s Ukraine policy in reality despite Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky’s dream of retaking Crimea.

Ukraine has had a dramatic breakthrough against Russian forces recently, but the war is far from over. While Russia’s forces are badly embarrassed, war analysts say the invading forces still retain an advantage, if in nothing else, than in numbers.

Just this week, Russian President Vladimir Putin declared another  “partial mobilization” by calling up even more reserves. Putin also promised to “use all the means at our disposal,” with analysts fearing this includes WMDs, chemical or nuclear weapons, to defend Russia.

Even with more arms being supplied to Ukraine by the U.S. and allied nations, war analysts question how much territory Ukraine will be able to regain. This has called the fate of Crimea into question. 

Ukraine’s military objectives have expanded rhetorically over the past few weeks to include Crimea. 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky spoke of sending a “signal” to the Crimean people: “we know that these are our people, and it is a terrible tragedy that they have been under occupation for more than eight years. We will return there. I don’t know when exactly. But we have plans, and we will return there because this is our land and our people.”

Crimea is of massive significance for both Ukraine and Russia. Russians view the territory as Russian. Losing it would maximize the political impact of defeat. Some warn that if Ukraine were to retake Crimea, this could send Putin over the edge to use nukes or other massive weapons. 

If Ukraine did take Crimea back, it would potentially force the U.S. and Europe to either up their support, with an increased risk of being dragged into active combat, or abandon Ukraine. So far, the U.S. and European governments have responded to questions about Ukrainian war aims by saying it’s up to Kyiv to decide. 

Bandow believes that Zelensky’s plans are not realistic even with more U.S. arms, so, under these circumstances, he stressed that Washington’s core interests in the conflict are actually making sure that it doesn’t end up with the US getting involved in an unwanted and unnecessary war.   

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