Sanctions against Russia to remain in place until it returns Crimea to Ukraine
Crimea-related sanctions against Russia will remain in place until it returns control of the peninsula to Ukraine, U.S. Department of State Spokesperson Heather Nauert has said in a statement on the occasion of the fourth anniversary of Russia's annexation of Crimea.
"We reaffirm our commitment to Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders. Crimea is part of Ukraine and our Crimea-related sanctions will remain in place until Russia returns control of the peninsula to Ukraine," she said in a statement on March 14.
It notes that "four years ago this week, Russia held an illegitimate, fabricated 'referendum' in Ukraine in a futile attempt to legitimize its purported annexation of Ukrainian territory" and "Crimean residents were compelled to vote under scrutiny by heavily armed Russian troops."
"Russia's claim that Ukrainians made a free choice in that sham 'referendum' has always lacked credibility," reads the statement.
The Department of State said that "Russian occupation authorities have subjected Crimean Tatars, ethnic Ukrainians, pro-Ukrainian activists, civil society members, and independent journalists to politically motivated prosecution and ongoing repression, while methodically suppressing nongovernmental organizations and independent media outlets."
Nauert said, while commenting on Russian President Vladimir Putin's visit to the peninsula, that he "reiterated Russia's false claims to Ukrainian territory in another open admission that the Russian government disdains the international order and disrespects the territorial integrity of sovereign nations."