Ukrainian military forces will liberate the entire territory of the country from Russian invaders, including Crimea.

“We are going to liberate all our territories, all of it all, including Crimea. Crimea is a strategic objective for Ukraine because it’s Ukrainian territory. But we will move step by step,” Defense Minister of Ukraine Oleksii Reznikov told CNN in an interview.

Reznikov said the first step would be stabilization of the situation on the ground to prevent further losses against Russian forces. The second stage, he said, is to push Russian forces back to their positions before the invasion on February 24.

Only in the 3rd stage, the minister stressed, would there be discussions with Ukraine’s partners on how to liberate territories, including Crimea.

When asked if attempting to recapture Crimea by military means would further provoke Russia – which considers Crimea to be part of the Russian Federation – Reznikov said that was not a consideration.

“It doesn’t matter. Because they [Russians] will see that in Kherson, they will see it in Zaporizhzhia, they will also see it in Mariupol…. but these are Ukrainian lands, and Crimea is also Ukrainian land, no matter what,” he said.