On the second anniversary of Russia’s occupation of Crimea, world leaders are reaffirming their commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and their concern for the well-being of residents, particularly members of minority groups.

In a March 15 statement, State Department spokesman John Kirby reiterated that the United States does not recognize Russia’s “referendum” of March 16, 2014, or its attempted annexation of Crimea, which violates international law. Kirby’s statement notes that the U.S. remains “deeply concerned” about the human rights situation in Crimea, “where occupation ‘authorities’ suppress dissent” and repress ethnic and religious minorities, especially Crimean Tatars and ethnic Ukrainians.

In remarks on March 17, U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power urged the United Nations to not get used to a “new normal” in which one U.N. member is not held accountable for threatening the sovereignty and territorial integrity of another U.N. member state. Power emphasized that Russia’s action “represents an ongoing, continuous violation, one that persists for every day that Russia continues to occupy the peninsula.” She called attention to the occupation authorities’ recent request to ban the Mejlis (the Crimean Tatars’ self-governing body) and to abductions of several Tatar and pro-Ukrainian activists in Crimea.

The Canadian and several European foreign ministers also denounced Russia’s ongoing occupation.

From Canadian Foreign Minister Stéphane Dion:


From British Foreign Minister Philip Hammond:

From Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström:

Sanctions will remain in place

On March 2, the United States extended for another year sanctions against those accused of supporting the purported annexation of Crimea and the conflict in eastern Ukraine. The European Union followed suit on March 10, extending sanctions and repeating its nonrecognition of Russia’s occupation.

In testimony before the U.S. Senate, U.S. State Department Assistant Secretary Victoria Nuland stated that Russia’s ongoing occupation of Crimea remains one of Ukraine’s greatest challenges as the country works to build a more prosperous, democratic future. She emphasized that U.S. sanctions related to Crimea “must remain in place so long as the Kremlin imposes its will on that piece of Ukrainian land.”

Join the Twitter conversation on Russia’s occupation of Crimea by following @UnitedforUkr and #CrimeaisUkraine.