The Crimean peninsula, an integral part of Ukraine, is being occupied by foreign troops. It is an act of aggression. It is an act of violation of all thinkable international conventions.
The legitimate government of Crimea was violently removed from power. A man with criminal background was installed as a puppet prime-minister. Being aware that their time is short-lived, the criminal junta called out a referendum that was conducted on 16 March 2014. 96.77% of votes in favor of detachment from Ukraine. No nation of the world recognized the results. Crimean Tatars boycotted the vote.
Numerous efforts have been undertaken on the top political level of world leaders to deescalate the crisis and seek its peaceful resolution with full respect to sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. Numerous meetings in different formats have been held in the OSCE in view of the urgency to address the evolving conflict in Ukraine’s territory of Crimea that stemmed from violation by the Russian Federation of sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine through illegal aggressive actions there of the Russian armed forces.
We have witnessed broad international condemnation of the actions of the Russian Federation that violate imperative norms of international law, the Helsinki Final Act, bilateral and multilateral agreements signed between Ukraine and the Russian Federation; actions that undermine the very foundation of European and global peace and security. Russia is the only Security Council member opposing the resolution on de-escalation and preserving territorial integrity of Ukraine. US, EU impose massive sanctions on Russian officials.
At present about 40 Ukrainian military sites in Crimea remain under siege, the servicemen and their families sustain constant enormous pressure and intimidation. Military sites in Dzhankoy, Chornomorske, Bakhchysarai and Simferopol were seized by Russian troops and local separatist forces. In Crimea 47 out of 56 sites and facilities of the State Border Service of Ukraine were either blockaded, seized or stopped functioning due to coercion.
We register continuing reinforcement with armaments and fortification of illegal security checkpoints on the roads connecting the Kherson Region and the Autonomous Republic of Crimea in Ukraine. Adjacent to the checkpoints fields have been reportedly mined.
We are seriously concerned about rapid deterioration of situation in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea in the area of exercise of human rights and fundamental freedoms since the military invasion of the peninsula and extention of Russia’s support to separatist forces. In particular, existing evidence demonstrates serious violations of the rights to freedom of assembly, freedom of expression, freedom of the media, freedom of movement and the right to life itself. As an example, over the last week, the television crews and print journalists and their foreign counterparts became subject to aggression, threats and attacks. The signals of Ukrainian television channels have been cut off in Crimea. They were replaced with Russian channels.
The Ukrainian side is seriously concerned over the media policy by Russian TV channels, disseminating deceitful information on Ukraine and labeling Ukrainian people as “neo-Nazi”, “fascists” and “extremists”. There can be no justification for dangerous falsifications, distortions and policies of inciting hatred between the Ukrainian and the Russian peoples.
I would like to reiterate that the so-called “referendum” in Crimea is illegitimate, violating the Constitution of Ukraine and international law, and thus its consequences are legally null and void. The decision of the Verkhovna Rada of Crimea on the so-called “referendum” has been suspended by the Acting President of Ukraine.
I would also like to note that Ukraine has sufficient legal framework and instruments to discuss and decide on devolving more power to the Ukrainian regions. Moreover, it is one of the priorities of the new Government of Ukraine. The Prime Minister of Ukraine Mr. Arseniy Yatseniuk has recently reiterated the Government’s readiness to engage in comprehensive dialogue on additional rights and competencies of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, but this would not happen at the gunpoint of Russian troops.
Ukraine is committed to finding a diplomatic and peaceful solution to this crisis that would provide for full respect of sovereignty and territorial integrity of my country. We call on the Russian Federation to restore full implementation of its international and bilateral obligations, to pull the Russian troops back to the bases of their permanent stationing and to engage in a meaningful dialogue with the Ukrainian authorities on any issues of interest.
I am confident that everything possible needs to be done to preserve close ties and friendship between the peoples of Ukraine and the Russian Federation which is in the long-term interests of our two countries. We appeal to Russia not to destroy the bounds that connect our peoples.
The Ukrainian Side highly appreciates the constructive position of the Republic of Cyprus that supports Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, principles on which the Republic continues to fight its own struggle for a political settlement, which would reunite the country, divided since the 1974 Turkish invasion.