British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson marks four years since the events, which led to the illegal annexation of Crimea, in his opinion article released on the website of UK’s Foreign & Commonwealth Office.
In his article Johnson recalls how Putin says in the documentary Crimea. The Way Home, broadcast in 2015, that the decision to seize the peninsula was made at a meeting in the Kremlin on February 22, 2014. Thus, a decision on the annexation of Crimea was made three weeks before a “bogus” referendum, which the Kremlin held to give the decision a veneer of legitimacy. “All those claims about how he acted to protect the region’s people or uphold their wishes were, by Mr Putin’s own account, utterly mendacious,” Johnson notes.
Russia annexed the Crimea from Ukraine on March 18, 2014. This was the first case of forceful change of borders in Europe after 1945, reminds the head of the British Foreign Office.
“Russia at the same time violated so many international legal acts that listing everything is a real challenge. As an example, you can name 2 articles of the Charter of the United Nations, the Helsinki Final Act of 1975, the Russian-Ukrainian Treaty of Friendship and the Budapest Memorandum of 1994,” Johnson writes.
“Mr Putin formally annexed Crimea into the Russian Federation on 18 March 2014. Russia’s land grab in Crimea amounted to the first forcible annexation of the territory of a European country – and the first forcible redrawing of a European frontier – since 1945. In the process, Russia broke so many international agreements that listing them all is a challenge. To select a few examples, Mr Putin trampled upon Article 2 of the United Nations Charter, the Helsinki Final Act and the Russia-Ukraine Treaty of Friendship,” the British Foreign Secretary notes.
After annexing Crimea Mr Putin went still further, igniting and vigorously fanning the flames of conflict in eastern Ukraine. To this day, Russia continues to deploy troops and tanks in a conflagration that has claimed over 10,000 lives and driven 2.3 million people from their homes.
Flight MH17 became another victim of this tragedy when a Russian missile launched from an area controlled by Russian proxy fighters blew this passing airliner out of the sky, killing 298 innocent people, including 10 Britons.
All the while, reports have emerged from Crimea of the oppression of the indigenous Tatar population and the harassment of those opposed to Russian annexation. Despite repeated calls from the UN General Assembly, Russia has refused to allow international human rights monitors to enter the peninsula.
According to Johnson, it is necessary to stand up to Russia in a measured and resolute way. That means sustaining Crimea-related sanctions against Russia for as long as the region remains under Kremlin control, and keeping further sanctions in place whilst the Minsk Agreements in eastern Ukraine go unheeded. These measures are intended to demonstrate that “no country, however large, can dismember its neighbour and break international law without consequence.”