Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyj on Sunday dismissed a high-ranking military commander who had been fighting Russian troops in the east of the country. In a one-line decree, Zelenskyi announced the dismissal of Eduard Moskalev, commander of the Joint Armed Forces of Ukraine. Moskalev has been at his post in Donbass since March 2022 – shortly after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Zelenskyj gave no reason for the dismissal.

Zelenskyj wants to take back Crimea

According to President Volodymyr Zelenskyj, Ukraine wants to bring back all parts of the country occupied by Russia into the state association – including Crimea. This was emphasized by Zelenskyj on Sunday on the anniversary of the occupation of the Black Sea peninsula by Russian troops. On the fronts in eastern Ukraine, however, the situation remains static, while the air force chief asks for more weapons for air defense.

"In 2014, Russian aggression began with the capture of Crimea," Zelenskyi said Sunday in his nightly video address. "It is logical that with the liberation of Crimea, we will put a historic end to all attempts by Russia to ruin the lives of Ukrainians and all the peoples of Europe and Asia, whose subjugation the Kremlin once claimed for itself."

Zelenskyi continued: "Today, February 26, we celebrate the day of resistance against the occupation of Crimea and Sevastopol." He called on the country's media to point out more strongly "that Ukraine does not abandon anyone, leaves no one to the enemy." At the same time, Zelenskyj was confident: "International law will prevail here, on the soil of Ukraine: in Donbass, in Azov, in Kherson and in Crimea."

Russia had brought the Crimean peninsula, which belongs to Ukraine, under its control in the spring of 2014. The first armed clashes between supporters of the Ukrainian government and pro-Russian demonstrators on 26 February 2014 finally led to a military intervention by Russia. A controlled referendum on incorporation into the Russian Federation led to Moscow's annexation of Crimea in March.

International Crimean Platform calls on Moscow to withdraw

On the anniversary of the occupation, the International Crimean Platform once again demanded the withdrawal of all Russian troops from Ukraine. In a statement released on Sunday, participants in the platform reiterated their support for Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders and condemned Russia's "aggression unprovoked." At the same time, they again declared Moscow's annexation of Crimea and the other now annexed areas of Ukraine illegal.

The Crimean Platform was launched in 2021 by the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to reverse Russia's annexation of the Black Sea peninsula through diplomatic channels, if possible. The action is supported by well over 40 states, NATO and the EU are also involved.