After Polish President Andrzej Duda sparked controversy for his remarks that Ukraine may not be able to reclaim Crimea from Russia, he has come out and said that Russia’s occupation of Crimea is a crime but it still remains unclear whether he believes Ukraine can retake Crimea.
Duda, in addressing his comments from a Friday interview, said, “The Russian assault on Ukraine and the occupation of its internationally recognized territories, including Crimea, constitutes a crime.”
Duda was responding to his Friday interview on a new streaming internet news site called “Kanal Zero,” in which he expressed some doubt about Kyiv’s chances of regaining the occupied peninsula while discussing the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine.
“It’s hard for me to answer that question. I don’t know if Crimea will be regained, but I believe that Donetsk and Luhansk will be. Crimea holds a special place, also for historical reasons, as historically, it has been under Russian control for a longer period,” Duda explained.
The president’s remarks sparked controversy on social media. Some commentators criticized Duda for seemingly doubting the possibility of Crimea’s recovery, while others noted his reference to the peninsula’s prolonged history under Russian control.
Members of the Law and Justice Party (PiS) defended the president’s stance.
“Everything is fine, but the president said something completely different. He didn’t say ‘it’s uncertain with Crimea’ but directly answered the question about Crimea’s recovery by Ukraine, stating he doesn’t know,” observed the former PiS spokesperson Radosław Fogiel. “The response to both Crimea and Donbas was that ‘Russia must be pressured. Ukraine must not be allowed to give up, nor the West to surrender.’ The further part of the statement then explains why it’s uncertain — because, among other reasons, Russia’s determination on this matter could be very strong. This isn’t a denial of Crimea’s statehood,” the Law and Justice (PiS) politician highlighted.
Vasyl Zvarych, the Ukrainian ambassador to Warsaw, also responded to the president’s comments. “Crimea is Ukraine: It was and will remain. International law is the foundation. The temporary occupation of Crimea by Russia is a war crime, for which it will be punished. The de-occupation of Crimea is our common task and duty with the free world. We will undoubtedly do it. We believe and act together,” the diplomat wrote on X.
Duda revisited his comments on Saturday morning with a post, writing: “My actions and stance on Russia’s brutal aggression against Ukraine have been unequivocal from day one: Russia violates international law, is the aggressor and occupier,” he wrote.
“The Russian attack on Ukraine and the occupation of its internationally recognized territories, including Crimea, is a crime. This war cannot end with a victory for Russia. It is necessary to stop, defeat, and block Russian imperialism for the future. Ukraine must win because the Free World must win this war,” the head of state’s X post read.
“We all stand shoulder to shoulder with a free, sovereign, and independent Ukraine against aggression and brutal imperialism!” Duda concluded in his post.
Echoing a similar message, Polish Foreign Minister Radosław Sikorski also commented on the situation via Twitter. “Poland recognizes Ukraine’s independence within its internationally established borders, repeatedly confirmed by the Russian Federation: starting from the treaty of November 19, 1990, through the Budapest Memorandum of December 5, 1994, and the border treaty of January 28, 2003,” Sikorski stated.