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US congressman believes Ukraine will not try to retake Crimea militarily — newspaper

The top Democrat on the US House of Representatives Armed Services Committee Adam Smith believes that talks on ending the conflict should begin at some point

WASHINGTON, February 18. /TASS/. The top Democrat on the US House of Representatives Armed Services Committee, Adam Smith, believes some form of consensus exists that Ukraine will not try to retake Crimea by military means, the Politico newspaper reported.

"I think there’s more of a consensus out there that people realize that Ukraine is not going to militarily retake Crimea," the newspaper quoted the lawmaker as saying on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference.

Smith believes that talks on ending the conflict should begin at some point.

"The real question is, can we get security guarantees for Ukraine," he said, adding that such guarantees should give the US and its allies an opportunity to "continue to train and arm Ukraine so that Russia doesn’t just do this again, once they’ve caught their breath and a couple of years."

According to the report, the US lawmaker does not rule out the Kiev government’s attempt to retake Crimea, but it would be the Ukrainian government’s decision.

US stance on Crimea

US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland said on Thursday that the Ukrainian army had a legal right to strike in Crimea. The US diplomat said at the Washington-based Carnegie Endowment for International Peace that the US considered the military facilities in Crimea legitimate targets for Ukraine’s attacks. Ukraine is hitting them while the US is supporting that, she said, adding that Ukraine was not going to be safe "unless Crimea is at a minimum militarized." This is part of ensuring that there is a sustainable deterrent of Russia, Nuland added.

Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Nuland’s remarks were "inciting the Kiev regime to further escalate."

In turn, Politico quoted sources familiar with the matter as saying that during a conference call between US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and a group of experts on Wednesday, the US top diplomat said Washington was not actively encouraging Ukraine to try to retake Crimea. In his opinion, it would be a red line for Russia.

Following a coup in Ukraine in February 2014, the governments of Crimea and Sevastopol held a referendum to join Russia, in which 96.7% of Crimeans and 95.6% of Sevastopol voters chose to secede from Ukraine and join the Russian Federation. Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the reunification treaties on March 18, 2014. The documents were ratified by Russia’s Federal Assembly, or bicameral parliament, on March 21. Despite the overwhelming results of the referendum, Kiev and Washington still refuse to recognize Crimea as part of Russia.