Comment by the Information and Press Department of the Russian MFA on the Declaration by Federica Mogherini

Comment by the Information and Press Department of the Russian MFA on the Declaration by the High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy on behalf of the EU and the Statement by the North Atlantic Council regarding Crimea and Sevastopol

We have taken note of the Declaration on Crimea and Sevastopol made on behalf of the EU by High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini on 17 March on the occasion of the fifth anniversary of the reunification of Crimea and Sevastopol with Russia, subsequent remarks she made on the sidelines of the EU Foreign Affairs Council meeting in Brussels, as well as the Statement by the North Atlantic Council on Crimea of 18 March.

It is notable that these statements largely consist of identical wordings. It appears that in the Brussels of EU and NATO they prefer not to believe their own eyes and only copy-paste their narrative on Crimea each and every year.

Five years ago, residents of Crimea and Sevastopol made a landmark decision expressing their will in a democratic way: to put the historical record straight and return back home, as part of the Russian Federation. By casting their ballots for their own future and the future of their children, the Crimeans showed the world what real, not fake democracy is like. Colossal work has been carried out since then, and much is still underway to complete the integration of the Crimean Peninsula into the common political, social, economic and legal framework of Russia. Everyone who has visited Crimea and Sevastopol, including prominent public figures from the West, can see the achievements of the peninsula on this path.

The problem concerning the power supply has been resolved through the construction and launch of high-capacity thermal power stations. The transportation link to mainland Russian Federation has been ensured through the record-fast construction of the Crimean Bridge, which was opened to road traffic last year and will be opened for railway trains by the end of 2019. Passenger traffic has increased following the construction of a new terminal at Simferopol International Airport. The Tavrida federal highway is being built. Efforts are being taken to settle the problem of fresh water for the region. With this aim in view, 100 kms of new water pipes have been laid, and the construction of multiple water channels to replenish the North Crimean Canal following its disconnection from water sources by Ukraine will be finalised by 2020. Development of social facilities, including schools, kindergartens and hospitals, is proceeding apace.

But all this is of little interest to the EU and NATO. A fresh attempt has been made to score political points from the November 2018 incident in the Kerch Strait, which was provoked by Ukraine. The other day the EU adopted an outrageous decision to add several Russian citizens to its illegitimate sanctions lists, including our border guard officers who helped cut short the provocative border raid staged by the Ukrainian security service. By expressing support for the Ukrainian version of events, the EU and NATO are only fostering militarist sentiments in Kiev and supporting those who are resolved to continue this confrontation. The same is true of allegations of “continued militarisation” of Crimea and obstacles to free passage of all vessels to and from the Azov Sea. It appears that they hastily forgot the numerous explanations we had provided regarding this at various levels.

We would like to remind everyone that it is NATO that is actively militarising the Black Sea region, increasing its military presence in Eastern Europe and modernising the military and civilian infrastructure. US missile defence systems have been deployed in Romania. Patrolling of the sea and airspace as well as intelligence activities are getting more intensive in the region, primarily along the Russian border. In 2018, the aggregate time of the deployment of warships in NATO naval groups in the Black Sea increased from 80 to 120 days. The Alliance makes no secret of its plans to strengthen its military presence in the region.

The EU and NATO continue to repeat allegations of deterioration of the situation regarding human rights in Crimea, in particular violation of the rights of Crimean Tatars. They brush aside the fact that Russian Crimea is becoming ever stronger as a unique “alloy” of cultures and traditions of various ethnic groups. The federal and regional authorities are consistently working to implement cultural, language, religious and other constitutional rights of the minorities, including the rights of Crimean Tatars and ethnic Ukrainians. The residents of the peninsula can freely exercise all these rights. Following Crimea’s reunification with Russia, the Russian, Ukrainian and Crimean Tatar languages have all been declared state languages in the Republic of Crimea. There are conditions in place for learning these languages at schools and universities.

The allegation that acquisition of Russian citizenship and conscription in the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation have been “imposed” on Crimean residents is evidence of total failure to understand the Crimeans’ sentiments. The allegations regarding worsening of the environmental situation look like another failed attempt to invent “negative” examples of life in Crimea.

It is not surprising therefore that the EU and NATO turn a blind eye to the actions undertaken by the Kiev regime and Ukrainian nationalists to shut Crimea off from water and electricity supply. Continuous attempts are being made to “punish” Crimeans for their choice and invent new blanket discriminative measures that run contrary to norms of international law and infringe upon the peninsula’s residents Crimeans’ rights. Outrageous practice of “visa discrimination” of Crimeans continues contradicting not only basic international standards in the field of human rights, but also a number of fundamental documents of the European Union itself. Moreover, having seen with their own eyes that sanctions pressure on Russia is useless, the EU Brussels, however, continues to urge UN member states to run into the same “trap” by imposing illegitimate unilateral restrictive measures against Russia.

We would like the EU and NATO to stop this politicking and listen at long last to the voice of the Crimeans themselves. It is time that they recognised the democratic choice of the people of Crimea and Sevastopol and took notice of the positive changes in their lives as part of the Russian Federation, just as many unbiased members of the Western public and political community have already done. Another anniversary of Crimea’s reunification with Russia is a good occasion for that.