Almost 20 countries urge Russia to allow UN, OSCE, CoE envoys' access to occupied Crimea / REUTERS

Diplomats from 19 countries have called on the Russian Federation to allow envoys of the United Nations, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), and the Council of Europe to have access to Russia-occupied Crimea to monitor the human rights situation.

"Russia held an informal meeting at the UN today [March 17] to promote a false narrative about its occupation of Crimea, which it seized in violation of international law in 2014. We condemn Russia's human rights abuses and military build-up on the peninsula. We strongly reject Russia's attempted annexation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol. Russia's actions are of global concern and inconsistent with international law, including the UN Charter, and contrary to the Helsinki Final Act," according to a joint statement posted by the Permanent Mission of Ukraine to the UN on Twitter on March 17, 2021.

The statement was made by envoys of Australia, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, the Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Georgia, Germany, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Slovakia, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Read alsoUkraine to invite Japan to join Crimean PlatformThe diplomats say the event distorted the realities on the ground in Crimea and only served the interests of Russia's occupation.

"If Russia is truly interested in increasing understanding on the situation in Crimea, it would allow UN, OSCE, and Council of Europe envoys, as well as humanitarian workers, international human rights monitoring missions, and human rights non-governmental organizations, immediate and unimpeded access to Crimea," the statement said.

"As we saw during the March 12 High-Level Arria-formula meeting on Crimea hosted by Estonia and with 23 co-sponsors, as well as during the February 23 General Assembly Debate, Ukraine has the support of the international community in defending its sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders," it said.

The diplomats call on Russia to immediately end the occupation of the peninsula, stop human rights abuses, release all Ukrainian prisoners it unjustly holds, cease its aggressive actions in Ukraine, respect its international obligations, and implement its commitments under the Minsk agreements.

"We reiterate our support for the efforts of the Normandy format and our firm commitment to a peaceful resolution of the conflict in eastern Ukraine, in line with the Minsk agreements and with full respect of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity," they said.

Crimean Platform to end Russian occupation

  • On March 12, 2021, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba called on all UN member states to join the Crimean Platform initiative. During a UN Security Council Arria-Formula Meeting on the Situation in Crimea, many countries expressed support for the creation of the Crimean Platform.
  • Germany called on Russia to return Crimea to Ukraine.
  • Canada said it would continue to put pressure on Russia until it regains respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.
  • The United States backed the Crimean Platform initiative.
  • France called on the Russian Federation to end its arbitrary policy of persecuting opponents of the occupation of Crimea.