Statement by Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Lithuania on the 5th anniversary of Crimea’s occupation
Lithuania strongly supports Ukraine’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity. We condemn the ongoing military aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine that flagrantly violates international law, the Charter of the United Nations, the provisions of the Helsinki Final Act, and bilateral agreements between Ukraine and Russia. We will continue to support Ukraine and coherently implement the policy of non-recognition of the illegal annexation and occupation of Crimea five years ago.
The illegal actions of the Russian Federation not only undermine bilateral and multilateral agreements on the assurance of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, but also pose a threat to security and stability in Europe. On 27 March 2014, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Resolution 68/262 on the territorial integrity of Ukraine. The resolution condemns Russia’s actions in violation of international law, affirms Crimea as an integral part of Ukraine’s territory, and underscores that Russia's fake ‘referendum’ in Crimea has no validity.
In 2016, 2017, and 2018, the United Nations General Assembly adopted resolutions on the situation of human rights in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol; on 14 November 2016, the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued its preliminary finding, confirming an international armed conflict in Crimea; on 3 May 2017, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe took a decision on the situation in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, clearly recognizing that the Russian Federation’s military aggression against Ukraine’s Autonomous Republic of Crimea had started five years ago and was still continuing in eastern Ukraine in rough violation of international law, the Charter of the United Nations, the provisions of the Helsinki Final Act, and the Budapest Memorandum of 1994.
Lithuania will continue to aim at having the international community strengthen its response to flagrant violations of international law by the Russian Federation in Ukraine’s Autonomous Republic of Crimea, the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in Ukraine, the Kerch Strait, and the Sea of Azov. Thus, international and EU sanctions against the Russian Federation must stay in place until Russia completely withdraws from the illegally occupied territory of Ukraine.
At the same time, we have to respond to the current attempts of the Russian Federation to destabilize the situation in Ukraine, such as abridging the freedom of navigation in the Sea of Azov, as well as to provocative actions by Russian forces that rammed, shot at, and seized Ukrainian navy vessels and their crews in the Black Sea.
We condemn these grave violations of international law and call on the Russian Federation to immediately release the sailors and all other Ukrainian citizens it illegally detained, to ensure unhindered access to Ukrainian ports and to allow freedom of navigation in the Azov Sea and the Kerch Strait, to put an end to all human rights violations, to respect all fundamental freedoms in Crimea, including freedom of the media, freedom of peaceful assembly, freedom of thought, belief, and religion, as well as to end persecution of Crimean Tatars.
Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Canada, Estonia, Finland, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Romania, Sweden, Ukraine, United Kingdom and the United States of America do not recognize the legitimacy of the so-called “presidential elections” held in Georgia’s Abkhazia region on March 22, 2020.
This statement is delivered on behalf of Bulgaria, Canada, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Romania, Sweden, Ukraine, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs welcomes the return of Ukrainian citizens who were illegally captured and detained by Russia. Among the released prisoners is Oleh Sencov, winner of the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought 2018, Edem Bekirov, a Crimean Tatar activist and other political prisoners, as well as 24 sailors captured during the aggressive actions of Russia in the Strait of Kerch in 2018. We share the joy of the families of those released and wish them a prompt recovery.
On 26 April, Lithuanian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Linas Linkevičius, continued his visit in Kiev, Ukraine, and met with Prime Minister of Ukraine, Volodymyr Groysman, and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Pavlo Klimkin. A day before, on 25 April, Linas Linkevičius had a meeting with President Petro Poroshenko, whose term as president is coming to an end.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs strongly condemns the decree by the Russian President Vladimir Putin on a simplified procedure for granting Russian citizenship to Ukrainian citizens, who reside in temporarily occupied Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine. Lithuania maintains that such a move is an illegal interference into Ukraine’s internal affairs and a violation of its territorial integrity.
The Lithuanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, on 17 April, received a response to its note of 12 April over safety and security of the staff of the Lithuanian diplomatic representation and their family members in Moscow from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation.