Sullivan dodges questions on Ukraine retaking Crimea
National security adviser Jake Sullivan dodged questions on whether the Biden administration would support Ukrainian efforts to retake Crimea, which was illegally annexed by Russia in 2014, as some Republican lawmakers criticize U.S. support of Ukraine.
Sullivan, when asked on NBC’s “Meet The Press” on Sunday, would not say whether the U.S. would support Ukrainian efforts to retake Crimea.
“The critical thing right now is that they need to take back the territory in the south and the east that they are currently focused on and we need to give them the tools to be able to do that,” Sullivan said.
“The question of Crimea, and the question of what happens down the road, is something that we will come to,” he added.
The Biden administration has faced growing calls by some GOP lawmakers to provide an outlook for what the end of the war between Russia and Ukraine might look like. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has said that victory for Ukraine would mean regaining all of the territory occupied by Russia — including the Crimean Peninsula.
The ramped-up pressure on the administration to clarify the lengths of its support of Ukraine comes after President Biden’s surprise visit to the country last week. While Biden administration officials have said that the U.S. will support Ukraine for however long it takes, detractors in Congress argue restraints on American support are needed.
One of the main issues raised by Republicans who question the U.S. backing of Ukraine is the amount of money that the federal government has spent to help fund the war. Biden committed at least $10 billion more in support to Ukraine during his visit last week.
Sullivan said on NBC that the administration’s goal is to strengthen the Ukrainian military to force Russia into a diplomatic phase of the conflict.
“We’re going to have to ultimately get to a diplomatic phase of this conflict,” Sullivan said. “Our goal is to strengthen the hand of the Ukrainians on the battlefield so that they are in the strongest position with the most leverage when they get to the negotiating table.”
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