The United States insists Russia must release Ukrainian political prisoners / Photo from UNIAN

Acting Deputy Permanent Representative at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, U.S. Ambassador Cherith Norman Chalet has urged the Russian Federation to immediately free over 80 Ukrainian political prisoners.

"We condemn the abuses taking place under Russia's repressive occupation and call on Russia to release the more than 80 Ukrainian political prisoners it is holding, and to end its campaign of intimidation against Crimean Tatars and opponents of the occupation," she said at a UN Security Council meeting in New York City on February 18.

Read alsoU.S. Ambassador to UN: Russia continues to arm, train, lead, fight alongside its proxy forces in Donbas

The American diplomat assured that the United States would never recognize the annexation of Ukraine's Crimea by Russia and sanctions against Russia would remain in force.

"We do not, and will not, recognize the Kremlin's purported annexation of Crimea. Our sanctions against Russia will remain in place until Ukraine regains control over its territory. In the name of international peace and security, we call on Russia to respect Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders, extending to its territorial waters," she said.

"We will never accept anything less than the full restoration of Ukraine's control over its own territory, whether in eastern Ukraine, Crimea, or its territorial waters," she added.

As UNIAN reported earlier, the latest swap of prisoners between Ukraine and Russia-controlled Donbas took place on December 29, 2019, when 76 Ukrainians were freed in exchange for 124 people listed by the self-proclaimed Donbas republics, the "Donetsk People's Republic"("DPR") and the "Luhansk People's Republic" ("LPR").