Statement by the North Atlantic Council on Crimea
- Five years ago, Russia used force against Ukraine to illegally and illegitimately
annex Crimea. This violation of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity is a serious
breach of international law and a major challenge to Euro-Atlantic security. We strongly
condemn this act, which we do not and will not recognise. We call on Russia to return
control of Crimea to Ukraine. We reiterate our full support for Ukraine's sovereignty and
territorial integrity within its internationally recognised borders and territorial waters.
Crimea is the territory of Ukraine.
- Allies are deeply concerned by the human rights abuses and violations being
carried out by the Russian de-facto authorities in illegally annexed Crimea against
Ukrainians, the Crimean Tatars, and members of other local communities. These
violations include extrajudicial killings, abductions, enforced disappearances, violence,
arbitrary detentions, arrest, and torture. Despite the 2017 Order of the International
Court of Justice, the Mejlis, the Crimean Tatars' self-governing body, remains under
persecution and is banned in its homeland.
- NATO calls on Russia to bring an immediate end to all violations and abuses in
illegally annexed Crimea, to release Ukrainian political prisoners and hostages, and to
grant international monitoring organisations access to Crimea. Any attempts to
legitimise or normalise the illegal and illegitimate annexation of Crimea must end,
including the automatic imposition of Russian citizenship, forced population
movements, conscription in the armed forces of the Russian Federation, and illegal
holding of Russian election campaigns.
- We condemn Russia's ongoing and wide-ranging military build-up in Crimea,
and are concerned by Russia's efforts and stated plans for further military build-up in
the Black Sea region. We also condemn Russia's construction of the Kerch Strait bridge,
which represents another violation of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity and
is imposing additional hardship on Ukraine's economy. Russia's unjustified use of
military force against Ukrainian ships and naval personnel near the Sea of Azov and the
Kerch Strait in November 2018 is part of the larger pattern of Russian aggressive
actions in the region. In line with United Nations General Assembly Resolution 73/194
from 17 December 2018, we call on Russia to unconditionally release the Ukrainian
crew members it detained, to return the captured vessels and to comply with its
international commitments by ensuring unhindered access to Ukrainian ports in the Sea
of Azov and allowing freedom of navigation.
- NATO's response to address Russia's illegal actions in Ukraine has been alongside and in support of an overall international effort, which has included sanctions. There can be no return to "business as usual" until there is a clear, constructive change in Russia's actions that demonstrates compliance with international law and its international obligations and responsibilities.