In a statement published Wednesday, the State Department issued a stern warning to Russia over its claims regarding the disputed territory of Crimea.
The statement — signed by President Donald Trump’s Secretary of State Mike Pompeo — criticizes Russia’s occupation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula, describing it as an “escalation” of Vladimir Putin country’s “aggression.”
The State Department’s statement accuses Russia of weakening security and of “upending” the international order, as well as of “undermining” basic freedoms. “The world has not forgotten the cynical lies Russia employed to justify its aggression and mask its attempted annexation of Ukrainian territory,” it reads.
“Russia’s use of force against a peaceful neighbor must not be tolerated by reputable states. The United States reiterates its unwavering position: Crimea is Ukraine and must be returned to Ukraine’s control.”
According to the State Department, Russia’s “occupation regime” has been repressing the people of Crimea. Over the past five years, the Russian government has reportedly engaged in “an array of abuses” in an effort to “eliminate” opposition to its control over the peninsula.
Furthermore, the State Department urges Russia to release all individuals detained for peacefully opposing Russia’s annexation of Crimea. Ruslan Zeytullayev, Volodymyr Balukh, Oleh Sentsov, Oleksandr Kolchenko, and “approximately 70 others” must be released immediately, according to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
“We call on Russia to cease all its abuses immediately, to end its occupation of Crimea, and, in the meantime, to comply with its obligations under international law, including the law of occupation,” the statement concludes, before once again expressing the United States’ “unbending” support for Ukraine’s sovereignty.
The State Department and Mike Pompeo’s warning to Russia is only the latest in a line of aggressive maneuvers the Trump administration has directed at Moscow.
As previously reported by The Inquisitr, President Donald Trump — who is being accused of conspiring with the Kremlin to sway the 2016 presidential election in his favor — often points out how “tough” he is on Russia.
“I have been tougher on Russia than any president, maybe ever,” he said in a recent interview.
Congruent with Trump’s statement is, for instance, the administration’s decision to withdraw from the landmark INF treaty. The withdrawal was unequivocally backed by NATO.
Furthermore, the Trump administration imposed tough sanctions on Russian oligarchs, expelled 60 Russian diplomats from the United States, and refused to recognize the Kremlin’s annexation of Crimea.
Moreover, unlike former President Barack Obama, Trump sent military aid and weapons to Ukraine, supplying the Eastern European country with lethal anti-tank systems to be used against Russia.
Making the Trump administration’s decision to urge Russia to return Crimea to Ukraine perhaps even more significant is the fact that President Trump has been rumored to support Russia’s annexation of the peninsula.
In June of 2018, following the Group of 7 summit in Canada, BuzzFeed News reported that Trump told other world leaders during an informal dinner that Crimea belongs to Russia because “everyone who lives there speaks Russian.”