February 27 will mark the sixth anniversary of Russia’s attempted annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula, and the United States reaffirms: Crimea is Ukraine. As underscored in our July 2018 Crimea Declaration, the United States does not and will not ever recognize Russia’s claims of sovereignty over the peninsula. We call on Russia to end its occupation of Crimea.
Russia’s occupation of Crimea and its increasing militarization of the peninsula is a threat to our common security. Russian occupation authorities continue their assault on human rights and fundamental freedoms, brutally silencing critics in civil society and the media, and curtailing religious freedom. Over 80 individuals from Crimea, including members of the Crimean Tatar community, have been imprisoned by Russia – and some subjected to torture – for peaceful opposition to the occupation. Members of the Crimean Tatar community continue to experience unjustified raids on their homes and mosques, surveillance and intimidation by occupation authorities, restrictions on cultural events, and the criminalization of their representative body, the Mejlis. Russia has forcibly conscripted nearly 20,000 Crimean men, in violation of international law. Occupation authorities severely limit religious freedom, target religious believers with bogus terrorism charges, and seized the Orthodox Church of Ukraine cathedral in Simferopol. The United States calls on Russia to free all Ukrainians it has wrongfully imprisoned in retaliation for their peaceful dissent and to end Russian abuses of fundamental freedoms in Crimea.
Six years on, Russia continues to rely on lies and disinformation in its failed attempt to legitimize the illegitimate. Its efforts are doomed to failure. The world will never forget Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. The United States condemns Russia’s illegal actions in Crimea and its continued aggressive actions against Ukraine, including in the Donbas, and will maintain sanctions against Russia until it returns control of Crimea to Ukraine and fully implements its commitments under the Minsk agreements.