REUTERS

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said the United States welcomes Ukraine's new initiative on the Crimean Platform.

"The United States welcomes Ukraine's new initiative, the Crimean Platform, and looks forward to continuing to work with Ukraine and our allies and partners to end Russia's occupation of the Crimean Peninsula and aggression in eastern Ukraine," he said in a statement on February 25, as reported by the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine.

Crimean Platform to end Russian occupation of the peninsula

On September 23, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who participated in the general debate of the 75th session of the UN General Assembly, called on partners to join an international platform for the end of the Russian occupation of Crimea.

Read also"Fierce resistance" by Russia ahead of Crimean Platform summit, FM Kuleba saysIn December, Zelensky announced that the creation of the Crimean platform had already been backed by powers on both sides of the Atlantic.

The platform will operate at several levels. The first, the highest one, is the political level, which will involve heads of state and government. The second level is that of top diplomats and defense chiefs, the third is the inter-parliamentary level, and the fourth will involve non-governmental experts. An expert network will be created to enhance the effectiveness of government action, as well as engage additional intellectual resources in the platform's work.

The Crimean Platform Summit is scheduled for August 23, 2021.

Russian occupation of Crimea

Russia annexed Ukraine's Crimea in March 2014 after its troops had occupied the peninsula. An illegal referendum was held for Crimeans to decide on accession to Russia. De-facto Crimean authorities reported that allegedly 96.77% of the Crimean population had voted for joining Russia.

On March 18, 2014, the so-called agreement on the accession of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol to Russia was signed in the Kremlin.

The West did not recognize the annexation in response to which sanctions against Russia were introduced.

Ukraine's parliament voted to designate February 20, 2014, as the official date when the temporary occupation of Crimea began.