KYIV (Reuters) -Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy vowed on Wednesday to end Russia’s occupation of the Crimea peninsula and all other areas that Moscow controls in his country.
Russia seized and annexed Crimea in 2014 in a move not recognised by most other countries, and has occupied other parts of Ukraine since its full-scale invasion in February 2022. Kyiv has begun a counteroffensive to try to regain the lost land.
“Crimea will be de-occupied like all other parts of Ukraine that are unfortunately still under the occupier,” Zelenskiy told an international conference on Crimea in which he said representatives of more than 60 countries and international organisations were participating.
He said Ukrainian troops were moving ahead in the counteroffensive launched by Kyiv in early June, but gave no details. He set no time frame for Ukraine to regain control of Crimea.
Russia shows no sign of abandoning Crimea, which it has used as a platform to launch missile strikes on Ukrainian targets. Moscow says a referendum held after Russian forces seized the peninsula showed Crimeans genuinely want to be part of Russia. The referendum is not recognised by most countries.
Participants at the Crimea Platform conference heard speeches delivered by video by foreign leaders including Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and French President Francois Macron.
Erdogan reiterated that Ankara does not recognise Russia’s annexation of Crimea and supports Ukraine’s territorial integrity. He said Turkey was working hard to keep communication lines open in the hope that a “fair and durable” peace could be agreed.
Zelenskiy said that when Crimea was back under Ukrainian control, it would be part of Ukraine’s economy and therefore part of the global economy.
“Today we are taking the first such economic step. We are signing the first document with companies that are ready to enter Crimea following Ukraine,” he said.
He gave no details of the document but named several companies that he said were ready to invest in Crimea following after the end of Russian control, including Ryanair, Vodafone, Nokia and EPAM.
(Reporting by Anna Pruchnicka, Editing by Timothy Heritage)