20:20 Mar. 19, 2016
U.S. Ambassador to U.N. addresses Ukrainians, two years after Russia illegally annexed Crimea
US Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, is sending a message to Ukrainians on ‘the two-year anniversary' of Russia's illegal annexation of Ukraine's Black Sea peninsula - Crimea.
In February 2014 armed Russian units dubbed ‘little green men' stormed the regional parliament building in Crimea. Soon after, unmarked forces began appearing near Ukrainian military bases in the peninsula.
On March 16, 2014 Russian authorities held a so-called referendum in Crimea which violated international law. That led to the US and EU imposing a number of economic sanctions targeting key sectors of the Russian economy.
"Since that terrible referendum and Russia's attempted annexation that followed people in Crimea and people beyond Crimea, in the rest of Ukraine, have been living daily the violation of this act of aggression by Russia. This is not a one-time violation", says Samantha Power.
After two years of Russia's occupation, a number of deterioration of human rights violations were recorded in Crimea, including the denial of freedom of expression, freedom of peaceful assembly, freedom of religion and belief, and the persecution of persons belonging to minorities, in particular the Crimean Tatars.
"Two years ago we at the U.N. were able to mobilize a large coalition - over 100 countries that voted very clearly to say to Russia, to say to the world, this phoney referendum, this attempted annexation will never be recognised by the United nation it will be seen for what it is - a violation of international law, an affront to the U.N. Charter, an abuse by the permanent member of the Security Council of the privilege as we have as permanent members, namely the veto," says Samantha Power.
"Crimea is part of Ukraine, Ukraine is sovereign, its territorial integrity is sacrosanct. We will never give up, it is not just the maps that will never change, - our commitment to people of Crimea will never change", Power says in closing her address.
Samantha Power (AP Photo)