The UK calls on Russia to immediately release all Ukrainian political prisoners held in Crimea and Russia.

"The UK has reaffirmed its unwavering support of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity and its support for Ukrainians whose lives have been impacted by Russian aggression, seven years after Russia illegally annexed Crimea and began its ongoing campaign to militarise the peninsula," UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said in a statement on seventh anniversary of illegal annexation of Crimea.

He said Russia is trying to cover up its human rights abuses by preventing access to Crimea for international monitors.

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"The UK calls on Russia to immediately release all Ukrainian political prisoners held in Crimea and Russia – currently known to be over 100 – who are often kept in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions and refused access to proper medical treatment," reads the statement.

Read alsoMFA Ukraine urges Russia to stop aggression, leave Crimea, DonbasThe UK also welcomes the new International Crimean Platform, which will bring together the international community to support the return of Crimea to Ukraine.

It is noted the UK has contributed nearly GBP 700,000 to the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission, which monitors and documents human rights abuses on the peninsula, while also providing human rights expertise to promote the right to a fair trial for political prisoners in Crimea.

Moreover, to mark the seventh anniversary of the illegal annexation, the UK is announcing funding for a new project to improve access to vital services for Ukrainians living in Crimea. The UK will contribute GBP 168,000 to this project, which will support the local authorities in neighbouring Kherson region to help those who are struggling to visit hospitals or apply for Ukrainian passports.

Russian occupation of Crimea

  • Russia occupied Ukraine's Crimea in March 2014 after its troops had seized the peninsula. An illegal referendum was held amid the aggressive takeover on the issue of the peninsula's accession to Russia. De-facto Crimean authorities claimed that 96.77% of the Crimean population had allegedly supported the move.
  • On March 18, 2014, the so-called agreement on the accession of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol to the Russian Federation was signed off in the Kremlin.
  • Western powers never recognized the seizure of Crimea and imposed sanctions on Russia over aggression against Ukraine.
  • Ukraine's parliament voted to designate February 20, 2014, as the official date for the start of the temporary occupation of Crimea.
  • The Russian Federation supplies weapons and sends mercenaries and its regular troops to occupied Donbas.
  • The hostilities in Luhansk and Donetsk regions have been going on since mid-April 2014.