NATO urges the Russian Federation to return control over Crimea to Ukraine. The North Atlantic Council reported this in the statement on the fifth anniversary of the Crimea annexation.
“The Russian Federation used forces against Ukraine in order to illegally annex Crimea. This violation of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity is a serious breach of international law and a major challenge to Euro-Atlantic security. We strongly condemn this act, which we do not and will not recognize. We call on Russia to return control of Crimea to Ukraine”, - the report said.
Thus, NATO confirmed their full support for Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders and territorial waters. “Crimea is the territory of Ukraine”, - the report outlined.
Besides, the NATO representatives expressed their deep concern by the human rights abuses and violations being carried out by the Russian de-facto authorities in illegally annexed Crimea against Ukrainians, the Crimean Tatars, and members of other local communities.
“These violations include extrajudicial killings, abductions, enforced disappearances, violence, arbitrary detentions, arrest, and torture. Despite the 2017 Order of the International Court of Justice, the Mejlis, the Crimean Tatars' self-governing body, remains under persecution and is banned in its homeland”, - NATO members stressed.
NATO urges Russia to put an immediate end to all violations and abuses in illegally annexed Crimea, to release Ukrainian political prisoners, and to grant international monitoring organizations the access to the Crimean peninsula. According to the North Atlantic Council, any attempts to legitimize or normalize the illegal and illegitimate annexation of Crimea must end, including the automatic imposition of Russian citizenship, forced population movements, conscription in the armed forces of the Russian Federation, and illegal holding of Russian election campaigns.
"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. Russia's unjustified use of military force against Ukrainian ships and naval personnel near the Sea of Azov and the Kerch Strait in November 2018 is part of the larger pattern of Russian aggressive actions in the region”, - NATO added.
In accordance with the resolution of the UN General Assembly from December 17, 2018, NATO called on Russia to release the Ukrainian crewmembers it detained, to return the captured vessels and to comply with its international commitments by ensuring unhindered access to Ukrainian ports in the Sea of Azov and allowing freedom of navigation.
“NATO's reaction to the illegal actions by the Russian Federation in Ukraine has resulted in international effort, which has included sanctions. It is impossible to return to the normal cooperation until there is a clear, constructive change in Russia's actions that demonstrate compliance with international law and its international obligations and responsibilities”, - the members of the North Atlantic Council stated.