President Zelenskyi did not make any statements about Crimea belonging to Russia. What he actually said was that Russia can be forced to withdraw its troops from the occupied Crimea by political pressure. This option will help Ukraine save the lives of its citizens.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy gave a long interview to the Ukrainian TV channel 1+1, in which he made a number of statements regarding the Ukrainian counteroffensive and the de-occupation of Ukrainian regions captured by Russia. The Russian media, by taking quotes out of context, concluded from an hour-long interview that Zelenskiy is afraid to extend hostilities to Russian territory and therefore will not attack Russian Crimea. With this statement, Russian media added, Zelenskiy hinted that he is ready to give up the peninsula.
“If we are on the administrative border with Crimea, I believe that it is possible to push for the demilitarization of Russia politically,” pro-Kremlin media quoted Zelenskiy as saying about “Russian Crimea”.
The Russian media fabricated the statements of the Ukrainian President about “Russian Crimea ” and “Ukrainian Armed Forces being cautious about extending hostilities to Russian territory”. They combined two completely different and unrelated excerpts of Zelenskyi’s interview. In reality, President Zelenskyi did not make any statements about the alleged Russian status of Crimea and Ukraine’s refusal to invade it. Besides, Zelenskiy never talked about Ukraine being ready to give up Crimea.
Commenting on the possibility of extending hostilities to the Russian territory, Zelensky noted that Ukraine does not need it, as only the deoccupation of Ukrainian lands is important for the Armed Forces. In case of hostilities extending to Russian territory, Zelensky is sure that international partners may turn away from Ukraine (see video from 01:03:10).
Answering a question about why Ukraine is thinking about the non-military option of deoccupying Crimea, Zelenskiy noted that the liberation of the peninsula and its demilitarization through political means will help Ukraine save the lives of its citizens.
The question of liberating Crimea was in no way related to the topic of extending the hostilities to Russian territory. Thus, this is a manipulation by the pro-Kremlin media. Zelenskyi said that Russia should be forced to withdraw its troops from the occupied Crimea by political pressure in the context of the value of Ukrainian lives. This is the priority way of liberating the Ukrainian Crimea, the President emphasized.
“Fewer victims. If we are on administrative or conditional borders with Crimea, I believe that it is possible to politically push for the demilitarization of Russia on the territory of Ukrainian Crimea. I think it would be better. The best, first of all, for those who will carry it out,” Zelenskiy emphasized (see video from 01:09:45).
At the same time, Volodymyr Zelenskyi, smiling, noted that the head of Ukrainian intelligence, Kyrylo Budanov, “sometimes makes business trips” to the occupied Crimea, conducting military operations to demilitarize the Ukrainian peninsula.
Earlier, the Ukrainian Intelligence head Kyrylo Budanov said that Ukraine will liberate Crimea through a combined approach, including methods from diplomacy to military operations.
Russian media constantly manipulates the Crimean issue, creating new fakes about “bloodthirsty” Ukraine and Western countries, who allegedly intend to destroy the peninsula, while Russia protects it. Read more in the StopFake stories Fake: Ukraine Ready to Sell Crimea to Russia for $135 Billion, Fake: Zelenskyi’s Office Talks About Dismembering Ukraine, Manipulation: Ukraine and the West Preparing Terrorist Acts in Crimeа.