Tag Archives: Ukraine

Crimea: EU stands for Ukraine territorial integrity

“Continued efforts by the Russian Federation to undermine Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, with further attempts to forcibly integrate the illegally-annexed Crimea and Sevastopol into Russia, represent a violation of international law” reads the statement by the European External Actions Service (EEAS) spokesperson on recent developments in the Crimean peninsula.

“The recent keel-laying ceremony of two assault ships in Kerch is yet another clear step in the ongoing militarisation of the peninsula, with a considerable negative impact on regional security in the Black Sea.

“Another concern is the latest restrictions of the freedom of movement for Ukrainian citizens to and from the Crimean peninsula. Access to mainland Ukraine and the right to return to the place of residence has to be granted unconditionally and should not require a Russian passport.

“The European Union continues to expect Russia to stop all violations of international law in the Crimean peninsula. The European Union is unwavering in its support for Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognised borders”.

Two latest universal amphibious assault ships were laid down for the first time at the Zaliv Shipyard in Kerch, Crimea, on July 20.
The ceremony was attended by Russian President Vladimir Putin who attached the keel-laying plaque to the Project’s first ship.

“Today three leading Russian shipyards are simultaneously laying down six new ocean-going ships. Here, in Kerch, these are two universal amphibious assault ships. At the Severnaya Shipyard in St. Petersburg, these are two frigates and at the Sevmash Shipyard in Severodvinsk, these are two nuclear-powered underwater cruisers,” the President said.

Ukraine National Bank independence in jeopardy

“Establishing a strong and independent National Bank has been a fundamental achievement for Ukraine, and remains crucial to the country’s future success. Over the past years, the National Bank of Ukraine has taken bold and much needed steps to ensure Ukraine’s macro-financial stability and facilitate a sustainable economic recovery. The Bank’s policies have served the Ukrainian economy and Ukrainian people well, by stabilising the national currency, reducing inflation and increasing foreign reserves, restructuring the entire banking sector and recovering assets lost in cases of bank fraud” reads the text of the statement of the European External Action Service, attributed to the spokesperson.

“The announcement of the resignation of the Governor of the National Bank of Ukraine, Yakiv Smolii, against the backdrop of alleged political pressure sends a worrying signal. The Bank must maintain its ability to fulfil its role independently. Undermining this important institution jeopardises the credibility of and support for Ukraine’s reform agenda.

“Ukraine’s path to reform is challenging, in particular in the current exceptional circumstances of the coronavirus pandemic. The European Union will continue to support Ukraine in the implementation of much needed reforms, and counts on the Ukrainian authorities to maintain their level of commitment”.

EU renews Russia sanctions

EU Council today decided to renew the sanctions targeting specific economic sectors of the Russian Federation for a further six months, until 31 January 2021.

This decision follows the latest assessment of the state of implementation of the Minsk agreements – foreseen to take place by 31 December 2015 – at the video conference of the members of the European Council of 19 June 2020. Given that full implementation has not yet been achieved, EU leaders took the political decision to roll-over the economic sanctions against Russia.

Such restrictive measures were originally introduced in 2014 in view of Russia’s destabilising actions against Ukraine, and target the financial, energy and defence sectors, as well as the area of dual‑use goods.

The sanctions limit access to EU primary and secondary capital markets for certain Russian banks and companies and prohibit forms of financial assistance and brokering towards Russian financial institutions. The measures also prohibit the direct or indirect import, export or transfer of all defence-related materiel and establish a ban for dual-use goods which may have military use or be used by military end users in Russia. The sanctions further curtail Russian access to certain sensitive technologies that can be used in the Russian energy sector, for instance in oil production and exploration.

Image: Saint Petersburg, Russia

EU Crimea sanctions «tradition»

European Council today decided to renew the sanctions introduced in response to the illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol by the Russian Federation until 23 June 2021.

The restrictive measures currently in place include prohibitions targeting the imports of products originating in Crimea or Sevastopol into the EU, and infrastructural or financial investments and tourism services in Crimea or Sevastopol. Furthermore, the exports of certain goods and technologies to Crimean companies or for use in Crimea in the transport, telecommunications and energy sectors or for the prospection, exploration and production of oil, gas and mineral resources are also subject to EU restrictions.

As stated in the declaration by the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy on behalf of the EU on 16 March 2020, the EU still does not recognise the illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol by the Russian Federation and continues to condemn this violation of international law.

Sanctions against Crimea, despite the diligent attempts of their authors and ideological inspirers, did not become an instrument of manipulation, did not drive us into a corner, but exactly the opposite made us strong and self-sufficient. Their next extension is only a tribute to the “tradition“, because in fact they can do nothing else. False accusations, vile incitements and reckless sanctions are the whole “arsenal” of the EU’s foreign policy instruments,” the Head of the Republic of Crimea Sergei Aksyonov wrote on his page in Russian social media.

The escalation of “anti-Russian hysteria” around the Crimean Repubic has become for the West a familiar form of hiding their own problems and a way to shift the focus of public attention from important topics, he continues. The head of the Republic emphasized that large infrastructure facilities on the peninsula were successfully implemented under the conditions of sanctions.

Of course, their absence would create more favorable conditions for Crimea for economic development, in particular, to attract investment. But this is not direct damage, but rather a lost opportunity, which we compensate for in other available ways,” he added. – “In short, my perception of Western sanctions is best demonstrated by the proverb “a dog barks, while caravan goes.”

There is a lot of work ahead! … The Russian Crimea is destined to successful development and prosperity” the Crimean leader concluded.

Borrell-Pompeo transatlantic dialogue

“Today we have had an important Foreign Affairs Council with a video conference with the Secretary of State of the United States, Mike Pompeo.

“The main point of the agenda was this: transatlantic relations.

“We engaged in a strategic dialogue with Mike Pompeo on our relations and on the key foreign policy issues both for the European Union and the United States.

https://twitter.com/eu_eeas/status/1272551225947537413?s=21

“…It is unnecessary to stress it, but let me do it – the transatlantic partnership is one of the key pillars of the world order and today’s video meeting reaffirmed the commitment of the European Union Member States to continue this close transatlantic cooperation. Maybe we do not agree on everything, but our commitment to transatlantic cooperation is as strong as ever.We focused on three main issues: China, the Peace Process in the Middle East, and the Eastern neighbourhood, with an emphasis on Ukraine. And we discussed as a cross-cutting issue, the problem of disinformation, which is affecting the three of them – and mainly the ones related to the Eastern neighbourhood and China.

“…We exchanged views on China and its growing assertiveness on many fronts. There are issues that we face together in the relationship with China and where our close cooperation is very important to address them jointly. This includes, for sure, the situation in Hong Kong. I suggested to launch a distinct, bilateral dialogue focussing on China and the challenges its actions and ambitions mean for us – the United States and the European Union.

“On the Middle East Peace Process, we made it clear that it is important to encourage the Israelis and the Palestinians to engage in a credible and meaningful political process.We recognise that the United States’ plan created a certain momentum about a political process that had stopped for too long, and this momentum can be used to start joint international efforts on the basis of existing internationally-agreed parameters. We, from the European Union, stand ready to help and to facilitate such a process.We were also clear about the consequences of a possible annexation for the prospects of a two-state solution, but also for regional stability. On that I think that many Member States were very clear about it.

On the Eastern Neighbourhood, which was the third pillar of our conversation today, we confirmed that the strong European Union-United States partnership will remain crucial – particularly on Ukraine.

Of course, we still need Russia to do its part in the full implementation of the Minsk agreements, and our position remains clear and unchanged.

Some Member States also raised the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean, where we are increasingly concerned about the recent escalations from Turkey. We agreed on the need for de-escalation and to return to a true partnership. There have been some incidents during the last days around Operation Irini. We are aware of that and tomorrow we will talk about it in the Council of Defence Ministers.

I also recalled that we are organising the Brussels Syria Conference [Supporting the future of Syria and the region – Brussels conference] on the 30th of June. It will be the fourth time that we do that, and I asked for the United States’ participation.

Finally, disinformation – this is a shared challenge. External disinformation actors are targeting both of us and we agreed to look at ways to reinforce our partnership in responding to this growing problem. Truth has to prevail. Democracy is a system that works on the basis of free and fair information. If citizens do not have access to free information or if citizens are poisoned with fake news, then their participation in democratic processes can be jeopardised”.

EU provides €3bn assistance to partners

The Council today adopted a decision to provide up to 3 billion euros of macro-financial assistance to ten enlargement and neighbourhood partners to help them cope with the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Financial assistance will be provided in the form of loans on highly favourable terms and allocated as follows:

Albania: €180 million
Bosnia-Herzegovina: €250 million
Georgia: €150 million
Jordan: €200 million
Kosovo*: €100 million
Moldova: €100 million
Montenegro: €60 million
Republic of North Macedonia: €160 million
Tunisia: €600 million
Ukraine: €1200 million.

EU assistance will help these jurisdictions cover their immediate financing needs which have increased as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. Together with the support from the International Monetary Fund, the funds will help enhance macroeconomic stability and create space to allow resources to be allocated towards protecting citizens and to mitigating the negative socio-economic consequences of the coronavirus pandemic.

Ukraine jet crash probe continues

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba renied media reports claiming that Iran is allegedly insisting Ukraine to drop legal action regarding the case of the Ukraine International Airlines Boeing 737 plane that was by accident destroyed near Tehran in January, confirming that talks on the crash investigation continue.

Media reports about Iran’s memorandum should be viewed as … media reports. Negotiations are continuing. We are working to get black boxes. The key for us is to establish justice, pay compensation to families, and ensure accountability in accordance with international law”, Kuleba wrote on Facebook.

On April 15 earlier in the day , media reported that Iran sent a memorandum of understanding that would oblige Ukraine and families of the victims of the crash not to pursue judicial action against Tehran in return for compensation and revealing contents of the jet’s black boxes.

Last week, during a meeting with Canadian Ambassador to Kiev Larisa Galadza, Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said that the flight recorders from the Boeing 737 plane could be returned to the country.

Putin arrives to Crimea

President Vladimir Putin arrived to Crimea for a working visit, which will last two days, Russian media reports.

Russian President has a meeting with representatives of the public of the Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol.

The head of state also awarded to the builders of the Crimean bridge with distinctions and medals.

There are also scheduled working meetings with the head of the Republic of Crimea Sergey Aksenov and interim governor of Sevastopol Mikhail Razvozhaev.

March 18, Crimea marks the sixth anniversary of reunification with Russia, which is regarded as “annexation” by the European Union, supporting the territorial integrity of Ukraine after Maidan Revolution, ousting President Yankovich.

In March 2014, a referendum was held in the Republic of Crimea, following which the peninsula became a territorial part of Russia, and Sevastopol became a city of federal significance.

Catherine the Great invested a year GDP of Russia to conquer the peninsula responding to complaints of her subjects against Crimea Khanate kidnapping people and slave trafficing to Ottoman Empire. The successful military campagne ended with Crimea joining Russian Empire under name of Tavria in 1783, and closure of all slave markets on the peninsula. Traditionally this historic day of issuing the Manifest of Catherine II is celebrated on April 19.

Crimeans denounce EU «hypocrisy»

The speaker of the Crimean parliament, Vladimir Konstantinov, defined the position of the European Union, which continues to refuse to recognize the Russian status of Crimea as “hypocrisy“.

Earlier, the head of EU diplomacy, Josep Borrel, made a statement on the Crimea, in which he recalled that the EU does not recognize the Russian peninsula. In addition, he said, “the increasing militarization of the peninsula continues to negatively affect the security situation in the Black Sea region.”

“Any references to international law on their behalf sound hypocritical. The right to self-determination is enshrined in the UN charter, as well as in the UN Declaration on the Principles of International Law of 1970,” Konstantinov said to reporters.
According to him, Crimeans pay no more attention any longer to such statements issued by Western politicians.

Meanwhile the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement on the six anniversary of Crimea Republic and Sevastopol “re-unification” with Russian Federation:

“Today we celebrate the 6th Anniversary of the 2014 referendum in Crimea: 96,77% votes were cast in favour of reunification with Russia. This historic choice of the people of Crimea must be respected; celebrated as a triumph of true democratic processes #CrimeaIsRussia” read the issued Tweet.

Crimea anniversary EU declaration

Today the Declaration was issued by the High Representative Josep Borrell-Fontelles, on behalf of the European Union, on the Autonomous Republic of Crimea (pictured) and the city of Sevastopol.
Six years on from the illegal annexation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol by the Russian Federation, the European Union remains steadfast in its commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

The European Union reiterates that it does not recognise and continues to condemn this violation of international law. It remains a direct challenge to international security, with grave implications for the international legal order that protects the territorial integrity, unity and sovereignty of all States.

“The European Union remains committed to fully implementing its non-recognition policy, including through restrictive measures. The European Union calls again on UN Member States to consider similar non-recognition measures in line with the UN General Assembly Resolution 68/262. The European Union does not and will not recognise the holding of elections by the Russian Federation in the Crimean peninsula.

“The increasing militarisation of the peninsula continues to negatively impact the security situation in the Black Sea region. In violation of international humanitarian law, Russian citizenship and conscription in the armed forces of the Russian Federation have been imposed on Crimean residents. The unjustified use of force by Russia against Ukraine on 25 November 2018 is a reminder of the negative effects of the illegal annexation on regional stability. The return of the illegally-captured Ukrainian servicemen and vessels, as requested by the Order of the International Tribunal of the Law of the Sea and called by the EU, was long overdue when it eventually took place in the second half of 2019.

“The European Union condemns the construction of the Kerch Bridge without Ukraine’s consent and the recent opening of a railway section. These are yet further steps towards a forced integration of the illegally-annexed peninsula with Russia, and a further violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. The EU expects Russia to ensure unhindered and free passage of all ships through the Kerch Strait to and from the Azov Sea, in accordance with international law. The illegal restrictions to such passage are still ongoing and have negative economic consequences for Ukraine’s ports in the Azov Sea and the whole region.

“Since the illegal annexation by the Russian Federation, the human rights situation in the Crimean peninsula has significantly deteriorated. Residents of the peninsula face systematic restrictions of fundamental freedoms, such as freedom of expression, religion or belief and association and the right to peaceful assembly. In accordance with UN General Assembly resolution 74/168 of 18 December 2019, it is crucial that the regional and international human rights monitoring mechanisms as well as the non-governmental human rights organisations have unimpeded access to Crimea and Sevastopol.

“The rights of the Crimean Tatars have been gravely violated through the shutting down of Crimean Tatar media outlets, and the banning of the activities of the Mejlis, their self-governing body, and the persecution of its leaders and members of their community. The EU expects Russia to reverse these decisions and to end the pressure on the Crimean Tatar community. Crimean Tatars, Ukrainians and all ethnic and religious communities in the peninsula must be ensured the possibility to maintain and develop their culture, education, identity and cultural heritage traditions, which are currently threatened by the illegal annexation.

“Furthermore, Russian Federation should stop changing the demographic structure of the population by transferring its own civilian population to the peninsula. Russia must also take measures to improve the environmental situation, which has considerably worsened since the illegal annexation.

“The EU reiterates its call for the immediate release of Emir-Usein Kuku and his five co-defendants, Oleh Prykhodko and all others who have been detained in the Crimean peninsula and sentenced in breach of international law. The EU calls for full compliance with international human rights standards in the peninsula. Journalists, human rights defenders and defence lawyers should be able to work independently and without undue interference and intimidation. All pending cases of human rights violations and abuses, such as enforced disappearances, torture and killings, violence, politically motivated prosecutions, discrimination and harassment should be thoroughly investigated. Full, free and unrestricted access for international human rights actors to the whole territory of Ukraine, including Crimea and Sevastopol, continues to be paramount. The EU recalls UNGA Resolution 74/168 of 19 December 2019, and calls for its full implementation, including the Russian Federation’s obligations under applicable international humanitarian law.”

Illustration: Crimea, Livadia Palace

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