Washington, DC (STL.News) Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken released the following statement:
The United States joins Ukraine in marking the seventh anniversary of Russia’s invasion and seizure of Crimea — a brazen affront to the modern international order. We affirm this basic truth: Crimea is Ukraine.
Russia’s occupation and increasing militarization of the Crimean Peninsula have implications far beyond Ukraine’s borders, threatening the world’s common security. This occupation comes at significant human cost. Russian occupation authorities have sustained a brutal campaign of repression against Crimean Tatars, ethnic Ukrainians, and members of other minority ethnic and religious groups in Crimea. Russian occupation authorities have raided mosques and homes, driven independent media off the peninsula, and handed down lengthy prison sentences to those who dare to speak out against the occupation. Russia’s repression has left Crimean residents in a constant state of fear, unable to live their lives freely.
We call on Russia to immediately end its occupation of Crimea, release all Ukrainian political prisoners it unjustly holds, and return full control of the peninsula to Ukraine. We likewise call on Russia to end its aggression in eastern Ukraine. U.S. sanctions on Russia in response to its aggression in eastern Ukraine and seizure of Crimea will remain in place unless and until Russia reverses course.