EU Slams ‘Illegal Annexation’ of Crimea, Stands with Ukraine as Russia Celebrates 5th Anniversary of ‘Reunification’

EU Slams ‘Illegal Annexation’ of Crimea, Stands with Ukraine as Russia Celebrates 5th Anniversary of ‘Reunification’

The EU has lambasted Moscow on a number of Crimea-related issues – from the Crimea (Kerch) Bridge to the human rights of the Crimean Tatars.

The European Union has condemned the “illegal annexation” of the Crimean Peninsula by Russia from five years ago, and has reiterated its support for Ukraine, as Moscow celebrates the fifth anniversary from what it calls a “reunification”.

In response to Ukraine’s Euromaidan Revolution in the winter of 2013-2014, which ousted pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin sent troops to occupy the Crimean Peninsula, and then annexed it on March 18, 2014.

This has been followed by a pro-Russian insurgency possibly aided by Moscow in the Donbass region in Eastern Ukraine, with Ukraine and Russia remaining involved in a “cold’ conflict ever since.

Because of Crimea’s annexation and the war in Eastern Ukraine, the EU has introduced sanctions against Russia, and so have the United States, Canada, and other Western nations.

“Five years on from the illegal annexation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol by the Russian Federation, the European Union remains steadfast in its commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” EU High Representative on foreign policy Federica Mogherini said in a statement on Sunday.

“The European Union reiterates that it does not recognize and continues to condemn this violation of international law,” she stated.

“It remains 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,” Mogherini added.

“[The EU] does not and will not recognize the holding of elections [by Russia in Crimea],” she said, seemingly referring to the March 2018 referendum in Crimea organized by Moscow before Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the decree for making the Black Sea peninsula part of Russia.

The EU foreign policy chief further declared that the increasing militarization of Crimea and Sevastopol since Russia took them over had had a negative impact on the security of the entire Black Sea region.

Mogherini also condemned Moscow over the incident in the Kerch Strait between the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov in November 2018, in which Russia captured three Ukrainian military vessels with 24 servicemen off Crimea.

She reminded that last week the EU introduced sanctions against 2 more persons and 6 more entities in response to the Kerch Strait incident.

The EU foreign policy chief also slammed Russia for building the Crimean Bridge over the Kerch Strait thus limiting access to Ukraine’s ports on the Sea of Azov, and for violation the human rights of the Crimean Tatars.

Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin was due to visit Crimea and Sevastopol on Monday for celebrations of the 5th anniversary since the “reunification” of the peninsula with Russia, as Moscow formally refers to it.

“We are further underlining our European unity and commitment to keep Crimea high on our collective agenda. We will continue to implement our non-recognition policy of the illegal annexation. We restate our firm belief that Crimea is Ukraine,” the EU High Representative stated in remarks released on Monday.

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