| 20 April 2024, Saturday |

Crimea will never again be part of Ukraine, says Croatian president

The Black Sea peninsula of Crimea, which Russia took in 2014, will never once more be a part of Ukraine, declared Croatian President Zoran Milanovic in statements outlining his opposition to Zagreb offering military assistance to Kiev.

Deep rifts between Milanovic and Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic were evident in December when Croatian MPs rejected a plan to join an EU mission supporting the Ukrainian military.

A vocal critic of Western policy in Ukraine, Milanovic has said he does not want his country, the EU’s newest member state, to face what he has called potentially disastrous consequences over the 11-month-old war in Ukraine.

What the West is doing about Ukraine “is deeply immoral because there is no solution (to the war),” Milanovic told reporters during a visit to military barracks in the eastern town of Petrinja, referring to Western military support for Kyiv.

He added that the arrival of German tanks in Ukraine would only serve to drive Russia closer to China.

“It is clear that Crimea will never again be part of Ukraine,” Milanovic added.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has vowed to restore Ukrainian rule over Crimea, seized and annexed by Russia in 2014 in a move not recognized by most other countries.

Russia says a referendum held after Russian forces seized the peninsula showed Crimeans genuinely want to be part of Russia. The referendum is not recognized by most countries.

Milanovic criticised Western countries for using double standards in international politics, saying Russia would invoke what he called the international community’s “annexation of Kosovo” as an excuse for taking parts of Ukraine.

Milanovic was referring to Kosovo’s declaration of independence in 2008 following a 1998-1999 war in which NATO countries bombed rump-Yugoslavia, comprising Serbia and Montenegro, to protect Albanian-majority Kosovo.

“We recognised Kosovo against the will of a state (Serbia) to which Kosovo belonged,” he said, cautioning that he was not questioning Kosovo’s independence but the concept of Western double standards.

Milanovic, a Croatian former premier from the Social Democratic party (SDP), has embraced an anti-EU stance since he took the mostly ceremonial job of president, aligning his policies with those of Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban and Bosnian Serb secessionist leader Milorad Dodik.

  • Reuters