Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said he will not give up on Crimea and that the Black Sea peninsula will always be Ukrainian. The new Crimean leaders shot back and said the peninsula will not return to Ukraine.
“Crimea will never again be part of Ukraine,” said Crimea’s acting head of administration Sergei Aksyonov. “That is undoubtedly a thing of the past. We have the Crimean self-defense force; it is due to receive official status on Wednesday and will stand ready to fulfill any orders from the supreme commander-in-chief of the Russian Federation.”
After Parliament ousted Russia-backed President Viktor Yanukovych on February 22, Russia moved in on Crimea. The majority of the Crimean population are ethnic Russians, and Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed he needed to protect them and Russian speakers within the peninsula. Moscow annexed Crimea on March 22, but Ukraine and the West do not recognize the move.
Poroshenko was elected president on May 25 with over 50% of the vote. He was inaugurated on June 7 and said a united Ukraine was the only way to prosper.
“Citizens of Ukraine will never enjoy the beauty of peace unless we settle our relations with Russia. Russia occupied Crimea, which was, is, and will be, Ukrainian soil,” he said. “There can be no trade-off about Crimea and about the European choice and about the governmental system. All other things can be negotiated and discussed at the negotiation table. Any attempts at internal or external enslavement of Ukraine will meet with resolute resistance.”