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On Eve of Russia Invasion Anniversary, US, EU Reaffirm Crimea Belongs to Ukraine

FILE - US Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks at the State Department in Washington.

On the eve of the seventh anniversary of the Russian invasion and seizure of Crimea, the United States and European Union have reaffirmed their positions that Crimea belongs to Ukraine.

“Russia’s invasion and seizure of Crimea” is “a brazen affront to the modern international order,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement. “We affirm this basic truth: Crimea is Ukraine,” Blinken said.

The U.S. “does not, and will never, recognize Russia’s purported annexation of Crimea,” the statement added.

The United States is repeating its call for Russia to immediately end its occupation of Crimea, to release all Ukrainian political prisoners, and return full control of the peninsula to Ukraine. The U.S. is also calling on Russia to end its “aggression” in eastern Ukraine.

Until Russia reverses its course regarding Ukraine and Crimea, U.S. sanctions on the country will remain in place, Blinken said.

In his capacity as the president of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas reiterated EU’s condemnation of the annexation of Crimea, which it says constitutes a violation of international law.

The Council reaffirms its “unequivocal and unwavering support for the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognised borders,” Maas said in a statement.

The statement calls on Russia “to fully comply with international humanitarian law and international human rights standards, including by granting unimpeded access to regional and international human rights monitoring mechanisms, as well as non-governmental human rights organisations, to Crimea and Sevastopol.”

On February 27, 2014, masked Russian troops moved in and captured strategic locations in Crimea, as well as Crimean institutions, including the Supreme Council or Crimean Parliament. The council of ministers was dissolved and a new pro-Russian prime minister installed.