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Seventh Anniversary of Start of Occupation of Crimea: Ukraine Calls for Increased Pressure on Russia

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The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine has issued a statement dedicated to the seventh anniversary of the beginning of the occupation of Crimea.

“26 February has become a symbol of resistance to the occupation, which has been going on for seven years. Russia seized Crimea by armed aggression and attempted its illegal annexation on the pretext of an unlawful and rigged referendum,” the document reads.

The Ministry noted that Russia had been pursuing an active policy of colonisation and assimilation of the peninsula since the very beginning of the occupation. The persecution of Crimean Tatars continues in Crimea.

“The peninsula, known as Ukraine’s resort area before the occupation, has been transformed into a Russian military base, which poses a threat not only to Ukraine but also to other countries in the region, including NATO and EU member states,” the statement says.

The Ministry urged the international community to strengthen sanctions against Russia due to the occupation of Crimea and called on all partners to join the Crimean Platform.

A separate statement was made by President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky, who noted that the de-occupation of Crimea is a common task of the world community, which unites through the Crimean Platform.

In a video address, the Head of State said that he had signed a decree on measures to develop and support the Crimean Tatar language and culture and protect the rights of residents of the Russian-occupied peninsula.

The day before, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell made a statement on behalf of the European Union. The document once again calls on the Russian Federation to fully comply with international humanitarian law, international human rights standards, and relevant UN General Assembly resolutions.

The statement underscores that the EU does not recognise and continues to condemn Russia’s occupation of Crimea as it is a violation of international law. According to the High Representative, Russia’s invasion of Crimea is a direct challenge to international security, with grave implications for the international legal order that protects the territorial integrity, unity, and sovereignty of all States.

A similar statement was made by the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine. U.S. diplomats called on Russia to end its occupation of the peninsula, release all Ukrainian political prisoners it unjustly holds, and return full control of the peninsula to Ukraine.

“We call on Russia to immediately end its occupation of Crimea, release all Ukrainian political prisoners it unjustly holds, and return full control of the peninsula to Ukraine. We likewise call on Russia to end its aggression in eastern Ukraine. U.S. sanctions on Russia in response to its aggression in eastern Ukraine and seizure of Crimea will remain in place unless and until Russia reverses course. The United States does not, and will never, recognise Russia’s purported annexation of Crimea,” the statement reads.

It also emphasises that Russia’s occupation and increasing militarisation of the Crimean peninsula threaten the world’s common security.

Bohdan Marusyak

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