Pelosi Has a New Plan That’s Going to Make Putin Really Pissed

(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is slated to attend the Crimea Platform parliamentary summit in Croatia this week as part of a forum to discuss kicking Russia out of Crimea and returning the peninsula to Ukraine.

Her visit is meant to show the United States’ “ironclad solidarity” with Ukraine, the Democrat said in a statement. But while it may seem like just the latest expression of support from the West, the trip could reverberate all the way to the Kremlin.

“I look forward to discussing how we can further support Ukraine—because the fight for Ukraine is the fight for democracy itself,” she said. “As Speaker, it is my privilege to join our European allies and other partners from around the globe in Croatia to deliver an unmistakable statement of our solidarity with the Ukrainian people.”

Pelosi’s attendance, which comes nine months after Russia’s latest invasion, proves that helping Ukraine seize back the long-contested territory is in the political mainstream in the United States.

“Her participation is a direct confirmation that the issue of de-occupation of Crimea is high on the agenda in Washington,” First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Emine Dzheppar said Monday. “With such support, the return of Crimea is closer than ever.”

Russia illegally invaded and annexed Crimea in 2014, a move the United States and other western allies lambasted. The United States and the West have refused to recognize the annexation ever since.

Nonetheless, Russia has steadily occupied Crimea, and has been using it as a key staging ground this year to carry supplies, arms, and ammunitions to feed into Russian forces attacking southeast Ukraine. If Ukraine were able to seize back Crimea, it would render a major blow to Putin’s grand plans to capture all of Ukraine.

Pelosi’s support for the Crimea summit could rankle Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has previously deployed his cronies to criticize Pelosi’s other visits abroad, which have sparked tensions over territorial claims. When the speaker visited Taiwan this summer, China responded by announcing military exercises and promising a forceful response, as it considers Taiwan a breakaway province. (The United States doesn’t recognize China’s claim to Taiwan.) Kremlin Spokesperson Dmitry Peskov warned that Russia viewed Pelosi’s visit as a “pure provocation,” siding with China. Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova added that Pelosi was bringing “destabilization” to the world.

Pelosi’s symbolic visit comes just weeks after an explosion damaged a key bridge to Crimea that facilitated crucial Russian supply routes, and underscores a dramatic shift in momentum in the war.

<div class="inline-image__caption"><p>Nancy Pelosi and Croatian Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandrokovic give a press conference in Zagreb, on October 24, 2022.</p></div> <div class="inline-image__credit">Photo by Damir SENCAR / AFP</div>

Nancy Pelosi and Croatian Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandrokovic give a press conference in Zagreb, on October 24, 2022.

Photo by Damir SENCAR / AFP

In the early days of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine this year, western nations suggested Kyiv might fall to Russia within 72 hours. But the conversation has since transitioned not just into one about whether Ukraine can kick Russia out of pre-February 2022 lines, but whether Russia might be expelled from territory it seized in 2014.

Russian forces have failed to achieve key military objectives throughout the offensive this year. They failed to take Kyiv due to a series of logistics and planning errors, and have been forced to retreat while Ukraine wages counteroffensives. In Russia’s latest attempt to make gains, its forces are resorting to information operations in an attempt to trick Ukraine, according to Ukrainian intelligence assessments. Russia is bringing in new military units to Kherson—even though Moscow has tried to make it look like Russian forces are leaving the area—in a psychological fake-out attempt, Ukraine’s military intelligence chief, Kyrylo Budanov, said, according to Ukrainska Pravda.

And though Ukraine hasn’t taken credit for the attack on the bridge to Crimea, whispers have been circulating that Ukraine might be able to take back Crimea next. Anti-war flyers comparing Russia’s invasion to attacks by Nazi Germany have been posted by unidentified groups in Crimea, according to Injir Media. Ukraine claimed responsibility for air strikes against Russian military assets in Crimea, including on Saki air base, in August.

“Crimea is the key base for their army reserves. It’s where they have their bases for ammunition, hardware, and soldiers, so of course, destroying these bases is a major part of de-blockading our territory,” Mykhailo Podolyak, a Zelensky aide, told the Guardian.

The prospect of seizing back Crimea is more plausible than it ever has been before, according to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s top representative for Crimea, Tamila Tasheva.

“This is moment X. Right now everything is happening in a way that it feels inevitable,” Tasheva told the same outlet. “It may not happen tomorrow, but I think it will be much quicker than I thought a year ago.”

Zelensky himself has promised that his forces will retake Crimea.

Shadow Government in Putin’s Own Backyard Plots Against Him

“Crimea is Ukraine. Crimea is an integral part of our people. And we will certainly come to our cities in Crimea, to our people in Crimea, and return to them the freedom that belongs to them by right, as well as to all our other people,” Zelensky said in a speech in August. “Russian aggression began in Crimea, and its finale will be in Crimea as well.”

Pelosi and the United States are not alone in supporting the Crimea Platform summit this week. Over 40 delegations and over 55 representatives of parliament are set to attend the forum. Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA), who serves as president of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Parliamentary Assembly, has also been invited.

But the visit comes at a time when some politicians are beginning to question the United States’ commitment to Ukraine in the long term. Lawmakers are warning Ukraine aid might get clobbered in a GOP-controlled Congress if they win in the midterm elections in two weeks.

Some Republicans previously told The Daily Beast they would “absolutely not” be supporting more Ukraine aid in a new Congress. And House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy affirmed last week that he thinks the path forward for military support will be difficult when Republicans are concerned with inflation and other domestic issues.

“I think people are gonna be sitting in a recession and they’re not going to write a blank check to Ukraine. They just won’t do it,” McCarthy told Punchbowl News.

Democrats may need to plan ahead for eroding support for Ukraine in the weeks between the elections and the date a new Congress is sworn in in 2023, Connolly pointed out last week.

“I would be in favor of any legislative initiative that commits the United States and its allies to a long-term commitment,” Connolly said.

For her part, Speaker Pelosi is expected to deliver an address covering America’s “unbreakable commitment to Ukraine,” according to her office.

“Vladimir Putin is waging an unprovoked, all-out assault on Ukraine: from the ongoing occupation of Crimea to his attempt to annex additional territories to his desperate and escalating targeting of civilians and civilian infrastructure,” Pelosi said. “This week, America joins our democratic partners to reaffirm our pledge to stand with the Ukrainian people in their fight for freedom and to hold Russia accountable—until victory is won.”

Read more at The Daily Beast.

Get the Daily Beast's biggest scoops and scandals delivered right to your inbox. Sign up now.

Stay informed and gain unlimited access to the Daily Beast's unmatched reporting. Subscribe now.