The Chairperson-in-Office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde, says that territorial integrity of Ukraine must be restored including with the territory of the temporarily occupied Crimea.
That's according to Linde's address delivered at the OSCE Permanent Council meeting held via video conference on Thursday, January 14, an UNIAN correspondent reports.
Read alsoAnn Linde to pay first foreign visit to Ukraine as OSCE new head – foreign ministry"The most blatant example of violation of our common commitment and international law remains the crisis in and around Ukraine," Linde said.
As Chair, Sweden, she added, "recognizes the vital importance" of the Special Monitoring Mission and the Normandy format of talks on Donbas settlement, involving Ukraine, Russia, Germany, and France, as well as the Trilateral Contact Group "to find a sustainable political solution to the conflict."
"This must be done in line with the OSCE principles and commitments in full respect of the sovereignty, territorial integrity, unity, and independence of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders, including the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the City of Sevastopol," said Linde.
The official said Sweden, as the current OSCE Chair, will "continue to reaffirm strongly that SMM is mandated to have safe and secure access without restrictions throughout Ukraine and recall that the SMM must be provided with the conditions necessary to implement its mandate."
Read alsoECHR rules Ukraine's claim against Russia "partially admissible"Crimea occupation: Background
In February 2014, armed men without insignia seized the building of Crimea's parliament, the Council of Ministers, as well as the Simferopol Airport, the Kerch ferry crossing, and other strategic facilities, as well as blocked Ukrainian troops at their bases.
Russian authorities initially refused to acknowledge that the armed men in question were in fact Russian soldiers on active duty. Eventually, Russian President Vladimir Putin admitted that they had in fact been Russian military servicemen.
On March 16, 2014, a sham "referendum" was held, mostly unrecognized by the international community, on the status of the peninsula, as a result of which Russia went on for the accession of the peninsula. Neither Ukraine, nor the European Union, nor the United States recognized the results of the vote. On March 18, Putin declared that Crimea was officially part of Russia.
International organizations recognized the occupation and annexation attempt in Crimea as illegal and condemned Russia's actions.
Western powers have imposed economic sanctions on Russia and the occupied Crimea.
The Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine formally announced February 20, 2014, the date marking the start of the temporary occupation of Crimea and the naval base city of Sevastopol by Russia.