Terras and Raik: Talks cannot return Crimea to Ukraine in the near future

Kristi Raik and Riho Terras.
Kristi Raik and Riho Terras. Source: ERR

MEP Riho Terras and foreign policy expert Kristi Raik said on the "Ukraina stuudio" talks show that Ukraine will not be able to see the return of Crimea by way of talks in the coming years.

Andrii Sybiha, deputy head of the Office of the President of Ukraine, recently told the Financial Times that Kyiv is prepared to negotiate the fate of occupied Crimea after it conducts a successful counteroffensive. The paper pointed out that this is the first time Ukraine has voiced willingness to negotiate following the collapse of talks last April. But Sybiha emphasized that Kyiv does not rule out retaking Crimea by military means either.

Former EDF commander, MEP Riho Terras said that it may prove possible to negotiate the return of Crimea decades from now.

"I see no way of securing the return of Crimea through talks. Maybe in 50, 60, 80 years," he suggested.

Terras said that Western partners are pressuring Ukraine into entertaining the idea of talks.

"There is pressure on Ukraine from the countries backing it, which goes beyond just Europe and USA. However, it is mainly the latter applying said pressure," the MEP suggested.

He said that it is likely Western partners expect Ukraine to negotiate following its upcoming counteroffensive for which Western weapons aid has been provided. "One reason for this is that Europe does not have much more to give – I must admit that Europe has failed to realize there is war at home and that corresponding preparations need to be made also in terms of military capacity. Negotiations can come after. So, this is the first time Ukraine has signaled that perhaps it is ready to talk. They will be hard-pressed if they lose U.S. support," Terras added.

But the former EDF chief said that Ukraine should try and retake Crimea through strength of arms.

"I believe it would be sensible to undertake a Crimean campaign. Russian troops have dug in deep over the years in Donetsk, and progress will be hard there. There are formidable trenches in Vuhledar, Bakhmut, Donbas in general," Terras said, adding that Crimea is suitable for a tank offensive.

"If they take the key region of Melitopol, it would be possible to go on to Mariupol and cut off Russian troops in Crimea – the Kerch Bridge remains vulnerable – in which case I would say retaking Crimea is possible."

Raik: Sybiha's message aimed at the West

Kristi Raik, deputy director of the International Center for Defense and Security (ICDS), suggested that Sybiha's messages are mainly aimed at Western countries who fear a possible Russian reaction should Ukraine succeed in retaking Crimea.

"Unfortunately, Russia's nuclear threats have gotten to Western countries, especially as concerns Crimea. It has affected their willingness to support Ukraine and provide weapons aid. The latter has been limited so as not to promote the retaking of Crimea," Raik said.

"And this message that Ukraine might be willing to negotiate before Crimea is liberated was perhaps sent in the hopes of alleviating the West's fears," he added.

Raik also said that negotiating the return of Crimea will be impossible in the foreseeable.

"We could discuss theoretical long-term scenarios under potential new leadership in Russia that might culminate in a diplomatic solution, while this is pure speculation in the political reality of today, utopian even," Raik suggested.


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Editor: Merili Nael, Marcus Turovski

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