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Admin. briefing suggests Ukraine could launch Crimea reclamation campaign

By Sarah May
|
December 17, 2022

With ongoing conflict in the region showing no sign of abating, news has emerged of a November Biden administration briefing to Congress suggesting that Ukraine may be poised to reclaim Crimea from Russia, a development which many suspect could prompt President Vladimir Putin to retaliate with nuclear weapons, as The Hill reports.

As such, there is growing concern that the war could get worse before it gets better. As Ukraine's chances of taking back Crimea increase, so too do the chances of Russia making desperate moves to try to avoid losing territory they've held since 2014.

Briefing raises alarm

According to NBC News, in last month's briefing, an official from the Biden administration covered topics that included the rationale for continued U.S. funding of equipment and weaponry for Ukrainian forces as well as predictions about the fate of Crimea and whether control of the region could be wrested from Russia.

Reports indicated that the briefing revealed that while Ukraine has evinced no imminent plan to retake Crimea, its military capability to do so if desired is stronger than many might have assumed.

As an unnamed U.S. official reportedly opined, Ukrainian forces “continue to shock the world with how well they're performing on the battlefield” despite going up against a larger, more heavily fortified army.

Even so, according to NBC News, experts do not believe that the current state of play in the conflict would necessarily support an attempt to retake Crimea.

“A lot would have to happen militarily first” for Ukraine to credibly pursue a reclamation of Crimea,” a U.S. official declared.

Poking the bear

NBC News further noted that some inside the administration are voicing concerns about the potential reaction from Putin if Ukraine does press ahead with an effort to retake Crimea.

“Putin may react more strongly to Crimea,” a U.S. official opined, echoing the worries of other officials that the Russian president might view such an attempt as provocation sufficient to justify the use of a nuclear device or dirty bomb.

“That's the red line,” a former U.S. government official

Yars rocket installed

Perhaps adding to the tension surrounding Putin's intentions under a host of scenarios were reports last week of the Russia's installation of a massive rocket into a silo in the Kaluga region to the southwest of Moscow, as the New York Post noted.

Reports indicate that the Yars rocket has the capacity to reach the United States as well as the United Kingdom and represents a real flexing of muscle from Putin.

According to Russian newspaper Komsomoloskaya Pravda, the Yars missile brings to bear destructive capabilities “12 times greater than the American bomb that destroyed Hiroshima.”

Russian Col. Alexi Sokolov explained that the missile movement drill was designed to communicate a clear message to the West, saying, “The importance of this operation lies in the fact that the missile will be put on combat duty on schedule.”

“The homeland will get another nuclear missile weapon, which will make it possible to solve any tasks at the strategic level,” added Sokolov.

Putin's future unclear

Putin's willingness to bring the world to the brink of nuclear war has been a topic of much speculation ever since the war in Ukraine began early last year, and it has also spurred recent suggestions that he could be the target of a coup from within his own country.

Intensifying talk of a possible mutiny are rumors of Putin's worsening health and reports of plummeting morale among the troops sent to do battle in Ukraine.

Investigative journalist Christo Grozev has hypothesized that the Russian leader may even face a coup attempt in the new year led by top Kremlin official Yevgeny Progozhin, saying, “This pressure cooker has to explode in one direction or another. Either it will be a bloody revolution or something else.”