President of Ukraine Vladimir Zelensky delivered his annual address to the Ukrainian Parliament, the Verkhovna Rada. During his speech, he said that peace in the Donbass and the "return" of the Crimea were his key priorities.
Zelensky said that the Ukrainian authorities are looking for effective tools to return the lost territories. He recalled that Kiev was creating the "Crimean Platform" format to discuss the "return" of the peninsula to Ukraine.
"I have substantively discussed this initiative with representatives of the EU, Great Britain, Canada, Turkey and others. Many expressed their readiness to join in and take an active part in it," Zelensky said.
The president also said that Ukraine intends to build two naval bases on the Black Sea, since those who gave the Crimea away "without a fight" must be held accountable.
"We are building the Ukrainian army that will be able to defend Ukraine on land, at sea, in the air and in cyberspace, so that no one else would even think to encroach on our sovereignty and territorial integrity, so that no one could think that a piece of territory can be taken away from Ukraine without a single shot," Zelenssky stated, adding that he was talking about justice, rather than revenge.
Putin's official spokesman Dmitry Peskov told RIA Novosti that Ukraine's plans to build army bases on the Black Sea coast could affect the "atmosphere of stability" in the region.
At the same time, Admiral Vladimir Komoedov, who commanded the Black Sea Fleet in 1998-2002, said that Kiev has no money for new bases.
"They are unlikely to be able to build them on their own. It is a matter of not only construction per se - it goes about maintenance, and this is a huge amount of money," Komoedov said.
According to him, Ukraine will have to borrow from the West for the purpose, even though Ukraine should rather focus on its sea borders and their protection.
Admiral Viktor Kravchenko, who commanded the Black Sea Fleet before Komoedov, believes that Zelensky announced the news as a result of his recent visit to the UK.
"The president of Ukraine visited England, where he met with the head of MI6. The latter promised to allocate money for the construction of some small ships in England for their subsequent delivery to Ukraine," said Kravchenko.
Ruslan Balbek, a State Duma deputy from the Crimea, believes that Zelensky overestimated Ukraine's military capabilities. According to Balbek, Zelensky does not even distinguish between the concepts of "military base" and "berth for coast guard boats."
"A fully equipped base will cost several billions of dollars, and the quay wall is a million times cheaper. Ukraine won't frighten the Crimeans with the new berth for old NATO boats," Balbek said.
In late September, Deputy Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine Sergei Krivonos said that Ukraine would not be able to address the issue of Crimea's return by force. In order to do that, the international community should help Ukraine and toughen international sanctions against Russia, he said.