Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Putin In Crimea Five Years After Moscow Seized Peninsula As West Denounces 'Illegal' Takeover

March 19, 2019 (RadioFreeEurope) President Vladimir Putin has marked the fifth anniversary of what Moscow considers the day Crimea became part of Russia by visiting Ukraine's Black Sea peninsula, as NATO, the United States, and the European Union again condemned what they called the "illegal" land grab. On March 18, 2014, Putin signed a treaty that Moscow claims made Ukraine's Crimea region part of Russia, after Russian forces seized control of the peninsula and organized a referendum that was not recognized by the international community. Ukraine and the West have slammed Russia's move as an "illegal" annexation, leading to sanctions against Russian individuals and entities. The annexation of Crimea and Russia's role in the ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine, where government forces have been fighting against Russia-backed separatists since April 2014, sent ties between Moscow and the West plunging to post-Cold War lows. The conflict in eastern Ukraine has left around 13,000 people dead, some 30,000 injured, and uprooted well over 1 million Ukrainian citizens, according to UN and Ukrainian officials.

Russian President Vladimir Putin at the launch of two thermal power plants in Crimea on March 18.

The Western military alliance's North Atlantic Council criticized Russia's "ongoing and wide-ranging military build-up" in Crimea, and raised concerns over its "efforts and stated plans for further military build-up" in the Black Sea region. The allies also accused the "Russian de facto authorities in illegally annexed Crimea" of carrying out human rights abuses against "Ukrainians, the Crimean Tatars, and members of other local communities," including "extrajudicial killings, abductions, enforced disappearances, violence, arbitrary detentions, arrest, and torture."
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