The annexed by Russia Crimea “will definitely return to Ukraine” the president said Volodymyr Zelensky speaking today at a rally in Kiev held to mark the anniversary of the mass deportation of Crimean Tatars from the peninsula in 1944 during the Soviet period.

The Ukrainian leader set up a reintegration council to advise on the restoration of Ukrainian sovereignty over Crimea.

Zelensky argued that more and more countries are realizing that it is impossible “the return to peace in international relations and the full force of international law” without first returning Crimea to Ukraine.

“We continue our work to liberate Crimea. This will definitely happen – its full reintegration into the state system of Ukraine”Zelensky said addressing leaders of the Tatar community and senior officials.

“We are preparing for the reintegration of Crimea. I signed the decree on the advisory council on the reintegration and the end of the occupation of our Crimea and the city (s.s. port of Crimea), Sevastopol”write down.

Moscow shows no intention of giving up Crimea, the base of Russia’s Black Sea fleet, and from the peninsula it has launched missile attacks on Ukrainian targets since the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Kiev plans to launch a military counteroffensive against Russian forces and hopes it will turn the tide of the war, now entering its 15th month. Ukrainian officials have repeatedly stated that recapturing the peninsula from Russia is one of Kiev’s main goals.

At today’s meeting, the Ukrainian president and other officials observed a minute’s silence in memory of the victims of the 1944 deportation of some 200,000 Crimean Tatars to Siberia and Central Asia, a deportation ordered by Soviet leader Joseph Stalin.

Zelensky said Kiev is working hard to free Crimean Tatars held in Russia.

Moscow denies accusations of human rights abuses in Crimea and says a referendum held after the 2014 seizure of the peninsula by Russian forces showed that the peninsula’s residents want to be part of Russia. That referendum was never recognized by the vast majority of the international community.