Five years on from an irregular and highly-disputed referendum which confirmed the annexation of Crimea by Russia, NATO has strongly condemned what it calls “a violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity [which] is a serious breach of international law and a major challenge to Euro-Atlantic security.”
“We call on Russia to return control of Crimea to Ukraine. We reiterate our full support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognised borders and territorial waters. Crimea is the territory of Ukraine,” said NATO in a sternly-worded statement.
“We condemn Russia’s ongoing and wide-ranging military build-up in Crimea, and are concerned by Russia’s efforts and stated plans for further military build-up in the Black Sea region. We also condemn Russia’s construction of the Kerch Strait bridge, which represents another violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and is imposing additional hardship on Ukraine’s economy,” continued the statement.
NATO’s response to address Russia’s illegal actions in Ukraine has been alongside and in support of an overall international effort, which has included sanctions. The alliance made it clear that there can be no return to “business as usual” until there is constructive change in Russia’s actions that demonstrates compliance with international law and its international obligations and responsibilities.
Russia is expected to use the fifth anniversary of its annexation of Crimea to start operating two new power stations in Crimea at full capacity. The Moscow Times has reported German engineering firm Siemens as saying that Russia has clandestinely delivered several of its turbines to Crimea despite European sanctions which ban the supply of energy technology to the region. Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected to visit the region on March 18 or 19.