US demands ‘immediate end’ to Russian annexation of Crimea

The United States on Thursday reiterated its condemnation of Russia’s annexation of Crimea, vowing to maintain related sanctions until Moscow returns the strategic Black Sea peninsula to Ukraine.

“Crimea is a part of Ukraine. The United States again condemns the Russian occupation of Crimea and calls for its immediate end,” said acting US State Department spokesman Mark Toner in a statement marking the three-year anniversary of Moscow’s takeover of Crimea.

“Our Crimea-related sanctions will remain in place until Russia returns control of the peninsula to Ukraine.”

“The United States does not recognize Russia’s ‘referendum’ of March 16, 2014, nor its attempted annexation of Crimea and continued violation of international law,” said Toner.

“We once again reaffirm our commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

In the statement the US also called on Russia to “cease its attempts to suppress freedom of expression, peaceful assembly, association, and religion” among Crimean Tatars, ethnic Ukrainians, pro-Ukrainian activists and journalists.

Russia’s move to annex Crimea shattered ties between the two ex-Soviet neighbors and sent relations between Moscow and the West plummeting to their lowest point since the Cold War.

The US and the European Union reacted to the annexation of Crimea by imposing economic sanctions on Russia and Putin’s inner circle.

 

Source: The Guardian

Russia deploys warships near Crimea for Ukrainian missile tests

Warships from Russia’s Black Sea Fleet have taken up position off Crimea’s western coastline to help strengthen the peninsula’s air defences.

This is in response to the start of Ukrainian missile tests nearby, a media report said.

Kiev, capital of Ukraine, began two days of missile tests on Thursday, angering Russia, which has put its air defence forces on high alert, saying it hoped the war games would not disrupt international flights.

“Warships of the Black Sea Fleet have taken up positions near Crimea’s western coast for the duration of Ukraine’s planned missile tests from Dec. 1 to Dec 2.

“The ship’s air defence units have been put on a higher state of alert. Their equipment is designed in the first instance to shoot down heavy anti-ship missiles and cruise missiles.

“Together with land-based air defence units on the peninsula, the ships have thrown up a practically impenetrable shield against the enemy’s rockets,’’ a military source in Crimea told newsmen.

Vladimir Krizhanovsky, a Ukrainian military official, earlier said that the exercises had begun adding that everything was going smoothly.

“The tests are being carried out in accordance with international law,’’ Krizhanovsky said.

He said that the tests were taking place at least 30 kilometres from Crimean air space.

“Therefore, it would be wrong to reproach Ukraine,’’ he said.

Report says Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.

Ukraine & Rebels Sign Ceasefire Truce Deal

rebel

Ukraine and pro-Russian rebels in the east have signed a truce deal to end almost five months of fighting. The two sides agreed to stop firing by 15:00 GMT and the truce appeared to be holding. But the rebels said the truce had not changed their policy of advocating splitting from Ukraine.

Meanwhile, NATO has agreed to form a multi-national “spearhead” force capable of deploying within 48 hours.

The takeover – which followed the annexation by Russia of the southern Crimea peninsula in March – prompted a military operation by Ukrainian forces to retake the cities.