Since the West doesn’t want to risk World War III over that region, its leaders are willing to informally acknowledge its post-2014 political status despite being reluctant for political and soft power reasons to do so officially, all the while continuing to parrot claims that Ukraine will one day reconquer Crimea.
Polish President Andrzej Duda recently said that he’s unsure whether Ukraine will ever reconquer Crimea despite expressing optimism that it’ll succeed in Donbass because the peninsula is a “special place” that “was in Russia’s hands for most of the time”. He’s since walked back his words under immense pressure, but not before some Polish politicians like Roman Giertych suggested that Duda’s words eroded Polish claims to formerly German-controlled regions due to the historical argument that he employed.
All that he did was let slip what’s on every Western leader’s mind about Crimea, namely that it’ll still remain a part of Russia whenever NATO’s proxy war on that country finally ends. Their rhetoric about militantly restoring Ukraine’s pre-2014 borders has always been nothing but a means for manipulating their people into supporting this conflict and remaining calm as socio-economic pressures upon them increase as a result. They never truly believed that Ukraine will ever reconquer Crimea.
As for Giertych’s point, this former conservative-nationalist who defected to the liberal-globalists that now run parliament and control the premiership (Duda is from the now-opposition “Law & Justice” party) is just trying to score cheap political points against the president. While it’s true that “there are cities in our country that in their history belonged to Poland for a shorter time than to another country” (Germany), they’re no longer populated by that said country’s co-ethnics, unlike Crimea and its cities.
Germans were expelled after World War II and their lands that Poland has always regarded as part of its first political state were returned to that Slavic country’s control, after which they were repopulated by ethnic Poles, including those that left its own former regions (“Kresy”) that came under Soviet control. Many observers have described one or both of these processes as “ethnic cleansing”, though all three countries involved – Germany, Poland, and Russia – have very different views towards this.
Regardless of wherever one stands on these debates, the point is that the “population transfer” processes that took place in the formerly German-controlled regions that became part of Poland after World War II were meant to neutralize any forthcoming claims from Berlin and solidify Warsaw’s. By contrast, Crimea remained overwhelmingly Russian in character after the Soviet Union’s dissolution, thus retaining the specter of Russian claims that eventually came to pass in 2014.
Therefore, while it’s true that the historical argument that Duda employed could be twisted to erode Polish claims to formerly German-controlled regions, there’s no substantive comparison to Crimea like Giertych claimed since ethnic Germans no longer live there unlike the ethnic Russians in Crimea. It’s precisely because Ukraine failed to ethnically cleanse them after “EuroMaidan”, which was prevented by the region’s swift democratically driven reunification with Russia, that it’ll now always remain Russian.
Given this state of demographic affairs, the only theoretical way in which Ukraine could ever reconquer Crimea and hold that territory is if it successfully cleanses all the ethnic Russians from there, but that’s impossible in practice since Russia will resolutely defend the peninsula. In the worst-case scenario of a large-scale conventional invasion threatening the state’s control there, then nuclear weapons could be employed per the country’s doctrine like President Putin has already implied several times in the past.
Since the West doesn’t want to risk World War III over that region, its leaders are willing to informally acknowledge its post-2014 political status despite being reluctant for political and soft power reasons to do so officially, all the while continuing to parrot claims that Ukraine will one day reconquer Crimea. All that Duda did was let slip one of the most open secrets in recent years, hence why he’s been chastised by the Ukrainian and Western elite alike, who are furious that he let the cat out of the bag for all to see.