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Foreign Minister Sven Mikser: Crimea is Ukraine

16.03.2018

Statement by Foreign Minister on the occasion of upcoming anniversary of Crimea annexation

Foreign Minister Sven Mikser: Crimea is Ukraine

Four years ago today, 16 March, the Russian Federation stage-managed a farce on Ukrainian soil that was billed as a referendum. Two days later, on 18 March, Crimea was illegally annexed by Russia. We condemn the unlawful annexation perpetrated by the Russian Federation four years ago, which ignored the Ukrainian constitution, the will of the Ukrainian people and internationally agreed rules. Crimea is, and will remain part of Ukraine.

Estonia also denounces the serious breaches of international law committed by Russia as an occupying power since the annexation: forced conscript of locals into the Russian armed forces; imposed adoption of Russian citizenship; seizure of property; and restriction of freedom of speech and religion. The situation of the residents of the peninsula has worsened in the last four years, and almost 40,000 locals have fled the region as a result of both psychological and physical intimidation. The occupying power continues to breach human rights and fundamental freedoms: Ukrainian citizens have been unlawfully detained; there have been reports of torture and mistreatment; and the situation of the indigenous people of Crimean Tartars is particularly deplorable. Annexation has also made it more difficult to keep relations with Crimean Estonians as close as before.

Russia continues to integrate Crimea into its political and economic space. Significant efforts are also being taken to militarise the peninsula, threatening security in the Black Sea region as a whole. Estonia denounces the construction of the Kerch Strait Bridge, which has not been authorised by Ukraine and which will not only have a negative impact on security but also restrict the access of cargo vessels to Ukrainian port cities.

Breaches of international law must have consequences.  Estonia continues to support the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. We shall continue to raise the issue of Crimea in the international arena. We strongly support the continuation and updating the non-recognition policy of the illegal annexation of Crimea, including sanctions, and call for the release of those illegally imprisoned. It is of utmost importance that international organisations would be given access to Crimea.

Estonia condemns the holding of elections by the Russian Federation in Crimea and Sevastopol and does not recognise their results.

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