Western leaders warn Russia against new annexations

1. Ukraine Annexation
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky (right) and Poland’s President Andrzej Duda pose for a photo to inaugurate the Alley of Bravery prior to their joint press conference in Kyiv on August 23, 2022. (Photo: AFP)

KYIV — Western leaders on Tuesday warned Russia against annexing other parts of Ukrainian territory after Crimea amid rumors Russia is planning to do so in various occupied areas.اضافة اعلان

The leaders sent video addresses to the Crimea Platform conference in Kyiv which was attended in person by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and his Polish counterpart Andrzej Duda.

The Crimean peninsula was seized and illegally annexed by Russia in 2014, after a referendum widely deemed illegitimate.

Duda said the West’s muted reaction to the annexation constituted “appeasement” of Russia, adding there could be no more “business as usual” in the West’s relations with Moscow.

The 2014 annexation of Crimea led to a “clear deterioration of the humanitarian situation and of human rights in the peninsula,” said French President Emmanuel Macron, who vowed EU support to Ukraine “for the long term”.

Since February, Moscow has been using Crimea as a staging post for attacks on Ukraine as well as “a testing ground for the brutal methods Russia is now applying across the other occupied parts of Ukraine,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told the conference.

“Putin is planning to do to parts of Ukraine, indeed, to all of Ukraine, what he’s done to Crimea,” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said.

“He is planning more annexations and more sham referendums, so it has never been more important to stand together” Johnson added.

The Kremlin has led a Russification campaign in the territories it occupies, which includes giving out passports to residents.

Kyiv also fears Moscow may try to organize referendums on territories it has seized since the beginning of the war.

In Russian-occupied parts of Zaporizhzhia, Moscow-installed officials announced in early August that they were planning a referendum.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Western leaders “condemn Russia’s attempts to forcefully integrate parts of Ukrainian territory. Any sham referenda or other attempts to alter the status of parts of Ukrainian territory will never be recognized.

“Such steps preclude any negotiations,” Scholz said.

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