Kyiv, Feb 26 (EFE).- President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that peace would only be restored once Crimea, a territory Russia invaded and annexed in 2014, was returned to Ukraine.
Zelenskyy’s statement via Telegram came on the Day of Resistance to the Russian Occupation of Crimea and Sevastopol, which was first observed in February 2021.
“Nine years ago, Russian aggression began in Crimea. By returning Crimea, we will restore peace. This is our land. Our people. Our history. We will return the Ukrainian flag to every corner of Ukraine,” Zelenskyy said.
United States ambassador to Ukraine, Bridget Brink, addressed Ukrainians in a video message posted on Twitter to pledge her country’s support in the continued struggle to liberate the occupied peninsula.
“On Feb. 26, 2014, thousands of Crimean Tatars and other Ukrainians gathered to declare to their occupiers and to the world: ‘We are Ukrainian. Crimea is Ukraine,'” she said.
“Today, as Ukrainians stand shoulder to shoulder against the full-scale Russian invasion, as you fight for every piece of your land, the US and our allies and partners stand with you,” she added.
The ambassador urged Russia to end its repression and human rights abuses in Crimea, including forcible conscriptions, illegal searches, arrests and torture of Crimean Tartars and other minority groups and activists targeted by the Kremlin.
“We condemn Russia’s despicable attempts to change Crimea’s demographics, including through appalling human filtration operations to forcibly deport and disappear Ukrainian civilians,” Brink added.
The US called on Russia to immediately release all Ukrainian citizens who have been “unjustly imprisoned.”
The Ukrainian news outlet in English, Ukrinform, recalled how nine years ago, Russian sabotage groups began attempts to seize Crimea.
On February 26, 2014, thousands of Crimean Tatars, Ukrainians and community leaders flooded the streets near the parliament of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea to protest the Russian occupation.
The following day, pro-Russian forces stormed the government building.EFE