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Ukrainian forces are unlikely to retake the Russian-occupied Crimean peninsula in the near future, four senior Defense Department officials told House Armed Services Committee lawmakers during a classified briefing, Politico reported.
The four did not disclose why exactly the Pentagon does not think Ukraine can recapture Crimea. According to three people familiar with the briefing who spoke to Politico, the Pentagon does not believe Ukraine has what it needs to push Russian troops out of the peninsula, nor will it have what it needs in the near future.
Another unnamed person added that Ukraine's victory in any offensive to retake Crimea, illegally annexed by Russia in 2014, was not assured. All of the officials agreed to speak on condition of anonymity.
The Pentagon responded by saying it would not comment on classified briefings, nor would it "talk about hypotheticals or speculate on potential future operations,” Pentagon spokesperson Sabrina Singh said, Politico reported.
“In terms of Ukraine’s ability to fight and take back sovereign territory, their remarkable performance in repulsing Russian aggression and continued adaptability on the battlefield speaks for itself,” she said.
Russia illegally annexed and occupied Crimea in 2014 in the wake of Ukraine's Euromaidan Revolution. The peninsula is also home to Russia's Black Sea Fleet.
Since the start of the full-scale invasion in February 2022, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has vowed to return Crimea to Ukraine.