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In an interview with CNN, President Volodymyr Zelensky said that Ukraine's ultimate goal is to liberate Crimea and any "peace scenario" with the peninsula remaining under Russian control would "not be victory."
"We cannot imagine Ukraine without Crimea. And while Crimea is under Russian occupation, it means only one thing: the war is not over yet," said Zelensky.
Russia occupied the Crimean peninsula following the EuroMaidan Revolution in 2014, which ousted pro-Russian leader Viktor Yanukovych.
Since the start of the full-scale war, Russia has been using Crimea to launch missiles against Ukraine and as a logistic route to transfer equipment to the southern battlefield. Kyiv has repeatedly vowed to return Crimea to Ukraine.
In the CNN interview, Zelensky also commented on Wagner Group's short-lived rebellion, calling Russian dictator Vladimir Putin's reaction "weak."
"Firstly, we see he doesn't control everything. Wagner's moving deep into Russia and taking certain regions shows how easy it is to do. Putin doesn't control the situation in the regions," Zelensky told CNN on July 2.
"All that vertical of power he used to have is just crumbling down."
Zelensky also cited Ukrainian intelligence reports, saying the Kremlin was measuring support for Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin, which has allegedly shown that half of Russia backed Prigozhin and his group's insurrection.
Prigozhin launched a "march for justice" against Russian military leaders on June 23 after the Russian army allegedly targeted Wagner troops in Ukraine. His mercenaries occupied Rostov and marched 200 kilometers to Moscow, only to abruptly end the rebellion less than 24 hours after its start.
As a result of an undisclosed agreement between Wagner's leader and the Kremlin, Prigozhin and his contractors were allowed to leave for Belarus to avoid persecution.