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Polish president unsure if Ukraine can retake Crimea

Poland’s president said he was unsure if Ukraine would be able to regain control over Russian-occupied Crimea but believed it could retake Donetsk and Luhansk, in comments that drew criticism from politicians in the governing coalition.

Warsaw has been one of Kyiv’s staunchest supporters since Russia invaded the country in 2022 and has said Ukraine must regain control over all of its territory in order to deter Moscow from further aggression.

President Andrzej Duda reiterated this position during an interview on YouTube channel Kanal Zero late yesterday.

However, when asked if he believed Ukraine would really be able to retake Crimea, he said, “It is hard for me to answer that question.

“I don’t know if (Ukraine) will regain Crimea, but I believe it will regain Donetsk and Luhansk,” he said.

He said the Crimean peninusla, which Russia seized in 2014, eight years before launching its full-scale invasion, “is a special place… also for historical reasons. Because in fact, if we look historically, it was in Russia’s hands for most ofthe time.”

Parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in eastern Ukraine were also taken by Moscow-backed forces in 2014 and have been embattled during the course of the current war, unlike Crimea.

Ukraine has vowed to recover every inch of its territory including Crimea in the war with Russia.

The Ukrainian Ambassador to Poland, Vasyl Zvarych, wrote on X today that “Crimea is Ukraine: it is and will remain so”.

“The de-occupation of Crimea is our shared task andobligation with the free world,” he added.

Mr Duda’s remarks were criticised by lawmakers from Poland’s ruling pro-European coalition, who are in a different political camp to the president.

The president is an ally of the nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) party which lost power December after failing to build a coalition following the loss of its majority in an October election.

“I would like to remind Mr Duda that there are cities in ourcountry that in their history belonged to Poland for a shortertime than to another country,” Roman Giertych, a lawmaker from the largest grouping in the government, Civic Coalition (KO),wrote on social media platform X.

“What an incredibly stupid statement!”

PiS politician Radoslaw Fogiel said such criticism of Mr Duda’s words was unfounded. “He answered directly to the question aboutUkraine regaining Crimea by saying that he didn’t know,” Mr Fogiel wrote on X.

Ukraine says downed nine of 14 Russian drones overnight

Meanwhile, Ukraine’s air force has said it downed nine out of 14 drones launched by Russia over southern and central regions overnight.

Kyiv said most of the drones were directed at energy facilities in the central Dnipropetrovsk region, where thousands have been without power since Russian strikes yesteriday.

The outages have mainly affected the main city of Krivyi Rig – the home town of President Volodymyr Zelensky.

“Ukraine destroyed nine enemy drones within the Dnipropetrovsk, Odesa, Mykolaiv and Zhytomyr regions,” the air force said, adding that most of the Iranian-made Shahed drones were directed at “energy infrastructure facilities” in the Dnipropetrovsk region.

Regional head Sergey Lysak said 15,000 people were without electricity in the city after the drone strikes.
He said fires caused by the strikes affected “two boiler houses” in the city and said “some families were left without water supply”.

He reported “no deaths or injuries” in the strikes but damage to two private houses.

The head of Kryvyi Rig, Oleksandr Vilkul, said energy companies will “introduce schedules of emergency shutdowns” in the city.

He said the city’s high-speed tram will stop running and that a part of some hospitals will switch to energy generators.

Ukraine’s energy ministry said it was working to restore critical infrastructure.

Russia has targeted Ukraine’s energy infrastructure throughout its almost two-year offensive, leaving thousands of people without heat during an intense campaign last year.

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