Thursday

24th Jun 2021

Opinion

Three years of illegal occupation of Crimea

  • It is high time to elaborate and launch international negotiation mechanism for de-occupation of Crimea to restore Ukrainian sovereignty over the peninsula. (Photo: blu-news.org)

It's now been three years since Russia's illegal occupation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol.

Human rights in Crimea has deteriorated at an alarming rate in just a few years.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

Russia disregards not only the very fabric of international law but also the basic rights of thousands of Ukrainian citizens in Crimea.

Such actions are part of the Kremlin’s broader pattern, which has also manifested itself in Eastern Ukraine, where Russian forces continue to target civilians as well as strategic infrastructure and have failed to implement the Minsk Agreements.

Despite the repeated calls by Ukraine and the international community demanding the immediate release of the illegally detained Ukrainians, the Russian leadership continues its shameful practice of using Ukrainians as hostages of its aggressive policy against our country.

Repression is rife

Crimean Tatars and ethnic Ukrainians continue to face constant discrimination and in many cases murders, tortures, harassment and arrests under fabricated charges.

For the first time since Stalin’s rule, Russia has started targeting dissidents with punitive psychiatry.

Russia has persecuted journalists, human rights defenders and activists as it seeks to eliminate public opposition to the illegal occupation of Crimea.

Local independent media have nearly all been coopted, pushed out, or forced to flee.

Russian forces regularly carry out illegal raids on mosques and Islamic schools under the pretext of confiscating banned Islamic literature.

Perhaps most worryingly of all, the Russian Supreme Court has moved to ban Mejlis, elected, self-governing body of Crimean Tatars, under false accusations of extremist activity.

With this act of repression against pro-Ukrainian communities, the Russian Supreme Court has endorsed a systemic violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms.

This decision threatens around 3,000 members of the almost 250 central and local Mejlis structures, adding to the almost 40,000 Ukrainian citizens – around half of whom are of Crimean Tatar descent – who have already been forced to leave their homes in occupied Crimea and settle in other areas of Ukraine.

The situation shows no signs of improving, on the contrary, the unprecedented militarisation of the occupied Crimea has changed the security landscape in the region and constitutes a direct threat to the whole Europe.

Russian military forces have been nearly doubled and potential carriers of nuclear weapons, including warships, missile systems, and combat aircraft have already been deployed in the Crimean Peninsula.

Russia is clearly signalling that it does not intend to back down.

But this is more than a mere show of strength; its actions are indicative of far more sinister undertones.

Russia tries to persuade all of us that essential principles of international law and our common values - democracy, rule of law, good governance, human rights and fundamental freedoms – are no longer universal.

If we give in it would be a threat to human liberty as a whole.

it is time to act

After three years of the occupation and military aggression against Ukraine, it is high time for the international community to find a proper political response to Russia’s behaviour.

The UN GA Resolution “Situation of human rights in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol (Ukraine)” (2016) supported by the majority of UN Member States should be upheld and serve as guiding principles.

The EU should be ready to step up diplomatic and political pressure on Russia, including by strengthening its sanctions policy, to show that it won’t stand by and allow further severe human rights abuses on its doorstep.

We should spare no effort to make Russia urgently release all Ukrainian citizens who were illegally detained for political reasons at the territory of Russia or occupied Crimea as well as ensure unhindered access to Crimean peninsula for international human rights organisations and conventional mechanisms to put an immediate end to violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the occupied territories.

It is high time to elaborate and launch international negotiation mechanism for de-occupation of Crimea to restore Ukrainian sovereignty over the peninsula.

Russia should abolish all its illegal decisions, which lead to the occupation of the Crimea.

It is only Russia’s return to the tenets of international law that will ensure peace and stability on the European continent and will lift the threat of chaos and domination of force in the international relations.

Mykola Tochytskyi is chief of Ukraine's mission to the EU

Disclaimer

The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author's, not those of EUobserver.

West told Ukraine to abandon Crimea, document says

US moved warships out of Russia's way. Germany urged Ukraine not to fight - newly-published minutes of a Kiev crisis meeting in 2014 show how the West let Putin seize Crimea out of "fear."

How NOT to frame debate about Hungary's toxic anti-gay law

Politicians use clever framing of issues to convince voters to support laws that harm their own interests. Viktor Orban's new hate law vilifies people for who they love. But its opponents may have unwittingly helped by repeating its framing.

What a post-Netanyahu Israel means for EU

Under Benjamin Netanyahu, the EU-Israel Association Council meetings, supposed to be held at regular intervals and set the tone for progress on political and economic issues, have not convened since 2013.

News in Brief

  1. Gay-rights activist storms pitch at Hungary's Euro game
  2. UK defies Russian military over Crimea
  3. Delta variant to be 'predominant in EU by end-August'
  4. EU domestic banks need climate-risk plans
  5. Report: France and Germany want EU-Russia summit
  6. New EU rules on shipping fuels dubbed 'disastrous'
  7. Japan government proposes four-day working week
  8. US: Nord Stream 2 undermines Ukraine's security

Next week is time for EU to finally lead on rule of law

The EU Commission still has to prove they are ready to stand up for the rights of every citizen in the EU. Throwing the towel in would send a terrible signal to European leaders tempted to emulate Hungary and Poland.

Why the EU renewables target needs to be (a lot) higher

The revamped Renewable Energy Directive next month should set an EU binding renewable energy target of at least 50% by 2030, paving the way towards transition to a 100 percent renewable-energy based system by 2040.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNineteen demands by Nordic young people to save biodiversity
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable public procurement is an effective way to achieve global goals
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council enters into formal relations with European Parliament
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen more active in violent extremist circles than first assumed
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersDigitalisation can help us pick up the green pace
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID19 is a wake-up call in the fight against antibiotic resistance

Latest News

  1. EU talks migration over dinner, as NGO rescue-ship sets sail
  2. EU enlargement still 'hopelessly stuck'
  3. EU creates new cyber unit, after wave of online attacks
  4. How NOT to frame debate about Hungary's toxic anti-gay law
  5. What a post-Netanyahu Israel means for EU
  6. EU Commission warns Hungary over anti-LGBTIQ measures
  7. Fourteen EU countries condemn Hungary over anti-LGBTIQ law
  8. EU preparing to lift Burundi sanctions, despite warning

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us