Crimea belongs to the regions with the oldest history. Some archaeological finds indicate its possible settlement a million years ago. Crimea was first mentioned in written sources three thousand years ago.
The Crimean steppes (as well as in the bigger part of Ukraine’s South) were populated by the nomads: the Cimmerians (from the 9th century BC), the Scythians (from the 7th century BC as nomadic and from the 3rd century as settled people), the Sarmats (from the 1st century AD) and Alani (from the 3rd century AD), the Huns and Ancient Turks (from the 4th century AD), the Khazars (from the 7th century AD), the Hungarians (from the 9th century AD), the Pechenegs (from the 9th century AD), the Polovtsy (from the 11th century AD), the Mongols (from the 13th century AD) and the Nogai (from the 16th century AD).
The first autochthonous people – the Tauri or Taurians – settled down in the Crimean Mountains in the 8th century BC. The Goths (and some Alani tribes) settled down here in the 3rd century AD after adopting Christianity, but preserving their native tongue.
In 610 BC Pantikapei was founded - the first Hellenic city (and the oldest still existing in Eastern Europe), modern Kerch. Today it is known as Kerch. In the following century, many other towns were founded along the peninsula’s entire coastline. In 480 BC these Eastern Crimean towns formed the Bosporan Kingdom. Founded between 528 BC and the early 5th century, the city of Chersonese preserved its republican form of government.
In 110-46 BC Crimea was part of the Hellenistic Kingdom of Pontus ruled by Mithradates VI Eupator. Later, until the 220s AD it was within the orbit of the Roman Empire. By the year of 534 the city of Chersonese, the South Coast and partly the Kerch Peninsula became part of the Byzantium Empire, with the mountainous peoples of Goths-Alani tribes (“The Doros County”) serving as allies.
In the 11th century the Crimean steppes were conquered by the Polovtsy tribes. The remaining local settlers, primarily the Turks, were slowly assimilated by the new rulers.
The unique character of the Crimean Polovtsy tribes was explained by the geographic isolation of the peninsula from the other large nomadic peoples of the Dnipro steppe region. As a result of the Mongol invasion, Crimean Turks obtained the ruling dynasty – the ancestors of Genghis Khan (analogous processes took place in the entire Eurasia, particularly in the lands of Rus’). In half a century Islam became the state religion of the Crimean Ulus of the Golden Horde, thus differentiating its inhabitants from their Christian and Pagan neighbours. That is how the nucleus of the new ethic group – later to be known as the Crimean Tatars – was formed.
Starting from the 1260s the larger part of Crimea’s Southern Coast fell under control of the Republic of Venice and the Republic of Genoa.
At the turn of 14th and 15th centuries the Golden Horde fell into decay. The mountain settlers of Greek, Goth and Alani origin established the Principality of Theodoro. In 1441 the Crimean beys chose Hacı Geray as their ruler, paving the way to the independent Crimean Khanate. In 1475 the Osman Empire seized control of the Crimean territories previously belonging to the Republic of Genoa and the Principality of Theodoro. The Crimean Khans fell under the authority of the Ottoman Sultans, but preserved their sovereign rule over the respected territories.
Due to this development, the peninsula’s other peoples partially converted to Islam, started speaking Crimean Tatar and observing Crimean Tatar traditions. The ancestors of the Theodoro dynasty and many immigrants from Europe and the Caucasus, who settled at the coastline, merged with the new Crimean Tatar people. The long process of the Crimean Tatar ethnic group formation explains why at least three large sub-ethnic groups emerged within one ethno group: the Noğays (inhabitants of the steppe areas), the Tats (inhabitants of the mountainous Crimea) and the Yaliboylu (inhabitants of the South Coast).
In 1771, after decades of wars, the tsarist Russian army occupied the Crimean Khanate. In a few years the last Crimean Khan Şahin Giray ascended the throne. In 1783 the Tsarist Russia annexed the Khanate territories. In 1802 the Taurida Governorate was established within the Russian Empire.
In 1917 several processes were taking place in Crimea – those of democratic revolution, Ukrainization and the revival of the Crimean Tatar national statehood. In December, the First Kurultai ruled to establish the Crimean Tatar People’s Republic and form the Crimean Tatar national government. However, in January 1918 the Bolshevik army gained control of the peninsula’s territory and launched the Red terror. The Bolsheviks lost control over Crimea in April 1918 as a result of the joint military effort of the Ukrainian army led by Petro Bolbochan, the German army and Crimean Tatar protesters. The Black Sea fleet raised the Ukrainian flag on April 29, 1918. The negotiations about Crimea joining the Ukrainian State continued until the fall of 1918. In 1919-1920, the peninsula’s territory turned into a battlefield between the Red and White Armies. The Red Army won.
In 1921 Crimea was turned into the autonomous administrative unit of Russia.
During the World War II from 1941 until 1945 Crimea was under German occupation. Having expelled the Nazi Army, Moscow baselessly accused the all Crimean Tatar people of collaborating with the Nazis. Starting from May 18, 1944, the Kremlin deported more than 200,000 people, including new-born children, to Central Asia and other inland Soviet territories. This deportation turned into the Genocide, as during the first years of deportation 20-25% of Crimean Tatars perished. The representatives of other ethnic groups – Germans (since 1941), Italians (since 1942), Bulgarians, Armenians, Greeks and foreign subjects (1944) were also subjected to deportation in their entirety.
In place of the deported indigenous people, the Soviet authorities began to massively relocate to Crimea a population loyal to them, mainly from Russia, which completely changed the ethnic structure of the peninsula. Even the very memory of the former owners of this land was being destroyed: more than 80% of autochthonous Crimean Tatar geographical names were replaced by Russian-Soviet names.
The year of 1954 was also important for Crimea’s history, as Moscow decided to transfer it to Ukraine. The decision was logical and based on real needs. Russia could not provide for the normal economic life on the peninsula, as almost all supplies were provided from Ukraine. The Soviet leadership explained its decision by the following logic: “with consideration of economic proximity, territorial proximity and close trade and cultural ties between the Crimean oblast and the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic.”
It should be underscored that the 1954 process of Crimea joining the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic was documented in accordance with all legal norms. The governments and parliaments of the Soviet Union, Russia and Ukraine consequently adopted the necessary legal rulings. The republican constitutions were also amended with the necessary provisions.
Although the Russian propaganda attempts to convince the entire world community that Crimea was “eternally Russian”, this is a false stereotype. The peninsula was part of Russia for a relatively short time period. Crimea was part of the Russian Empire from 1783 until 1917. During the same period Russian emperors gained control of several European countries, some of which are EU and NATO members at the present moment. Crimea was part of Russia (as Russian Soviet Socialist Republic) only from 1921 until 1954 (the 1941-1944 German occupation excluding). In other words, Crimea was part of Russia for about 30 years. Consequently, the myth about the so-called ages-long “Russianness” of Crimea simply does not stand.
Similarly, the Crimean Tatars made the peninsula’s ethnic majority until the early 20th century. The Russians became the ethnic majority as a result of repressions, persecutions and deportation of Crimea’s indigenous people.
Although in 1967 the Crimean Tatars were rehabilitated from the “mass betrayal” (of the Soviet state power) accusations, they were not allowed to return to their native land. The mass return of Crimean Tatars to Crimea was not made possible until 1989. The country that took upon itself the key role in accommodating the Crimean Tatar repatriates and assisting them in settling down was independent Ukraine.
20 February 2014 marks the beginning date of the armed aggression when the first cases of illegal crossing of the Ukrainian state border near the Kerch Strait by the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation and its use of military formations deployed in Crimea to block Ukrainian military units were recorded. Later this date was incorporated in the Ukrainian legislation.
On 23 February 2014, the biggest pro-Russian demonstration took place in Sevastopol. For the first time, the appeal not to recognize the Ukrainian authorities was announced publicly. Also, the so-called "people's mayor" of Sevastopol, Russian businessman Aleksei Chaly, was "elected". On the same day, a demonstration was held in Moscow calling for the division of Ukraine into three parts and the sending of Russian "volunteers" to proclaim "Novorossiya" with its capital in Kharkiv. In the morning of that day in Sevastopol, near the building of the former prison, the mourning meeting of Crimean Tatars was held to pay tribute to the event that took place on February 23, 1918, when the Bolsheviks tortured Noman Çelebicihan, a politician and statesman, Prime Minister of the Crimean People's Republic and one of the organisers of the first Qurultay of the Crimean Tatar People. At the event, both the Crimean Tatar national flags and the state flags of Ukraine fluttered together. Upon its completion, the participants moved forward to the city of Simferopol, where at 13.00 a rally gathering 15,000 people in commemoration of Noman Çelebicihan and against pro-Russian separatism began.
On 24 February 2014, ships of the Russian Navy, which guarded the offshore zone in the area of the Sochi Olympic Games, took on board in Novorossiysk operational hardware and units of Russian servicemen, which were used to seize administration buildings and blockade Ukrainian military units on the territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea (ARC) and Sevastopol, and held a course for Sevastopol.
On 26 February 2014, meetings under the Verkhovna Rada of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea took place. One of them was held by pro-Russian organisations demanding the autonomy of Crimea within Russia (approximately 2,000 people); another one, which was attended by about 12-15 thousand people, mainly Crimean Tatars and ethnic Ukrainians, was convened by the decision of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people aimed to support the territorial integrity of Ukraine. It was able to prevent the session of the Verkhovna Rada of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, where, according to the plan of the Russian side, a separation from Ukraine should have been announced.
On 27 February 2014, the Russian military without identification marks seized the buildings of the Verkhovna Rada of the ARC and the ARC government in Simferopol.
On 27 February 2014, at gunpoint of Russian servicemen from the 31st Air Assault Brigade of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, the Verkhovna Rada of the ARC "voted" for the so-called "referendum on the status of Crimea" and appointed a representative of the party “Russian Unity” Sergei Aksyonov as the so-called “Head of the Government” of Crimea.
Russian Armed Forces units were blocking Ukrainian military units and facilities on the peninsula. On the night of February 27th to 28th, Simferopol and Belbek airports and land entrances to Crimea from the Kherson region were blocked. On the same day, the checks of combat readiness of the Southern Military District troops of the Russian Federation took place, in which up to 150,000 personnel, 90 aircraft, 120 helicopters and 880 tanks were involved.
On 1 March 2014, Russian President Vladimir Putin submitted to the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation a proposal to send Russian troops to Ukraine "to eliminate threats to the lives of citizens of the Russian Federation, compatriots, personnel of the military contingent of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation which deployed … on the territory of Ukraine ". The Federation Council unanimously supported the proposal. On the same day, Russian storm troops were deployed in Rostov, Voronezh, Kursk, Belgorod, and Bryansk regions. On Polissya, Slobozhanskyi, Donetsk and Crimean operational directions, a strike force was created, which was held in full combat readiness prior to Russia invading Ukraine in the end of May 2014.
In early March 2014 Russian occupation forces shut down Ukrainian television broadcasting.
On 16 March 2014, the so-called “referendum on the status of Crimea” was held, which contradicted the Constitution of Ukraine and fundamental norms of international law and was not recognized by the international community. Upon the decision of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people, the Crimean Tatars and the pro-Ukrainian population of the peninsula completely boycotted this Russia-orchestrated event. On 14 March 2014, the Constitutional Court of Ukraine declared unconstitutional the decree of the Verkhovna Rada of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, according to which a "referendum" was held.
On 18 March 2014, in Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin, the so-called "head of the State Council of the Republic of Crimea" Sergei Aksyonov, the so-called "Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada of the Republic of Crimea" Vladimir Konstantinov and the so-called "Chairman of the Coordination Council for the Establishment of the Department of Life Support of the City of Sevastopol” Alexei Chaly signed the so-called "Agreement on the Admission of the Republic of Crimea to Russia".
On 21 March 2014, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree ratifying this "agreement".
On 25 March 2014, the last military unit holding the Ukrainian flag in the Crimea was seized - a minesweeper of the Ukrainian Navy "Cherkasy". The Autonomous Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol were completely occupied by the Russian Armed Forces.
On 24 February 2022, Russial launched its full-scale military invasion in Ukraine, including from the territory of the temporarily occupied Crimea.
Violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms
Despite the efforts of the international community, the situation in Crimea temporarily occupied by Russia deteriorates in all aspects, most notably in the spheres of human rights and international humanitarian law.
Criminalization of freedom of expression on social networks, interference and censorship of the media and human rights organisations, torture and ill-treatment, inhumane jail and harsh prison conditions, and impunity of Russian law enforcement officers for these crimes have already become the "new reality" in the temporarily occupied Crimea.
Russia systematically persecutes human rights defenders, journalists and activists. Among the prisoners are representatives of media, in particular journalists Vladyslav Yesypenko and Oleksiy Bessarabov as well as 11 citizen journalists: Server Mustafayev, Timur Ibragimov, Marlen Asanov, Seyran Saliev, Remzi Bekirov, Ruslan Suleymanov, Osman Arifmemetov, Rustem Sheikhaliev, Amet Suleymanov, Asan Akhtemov and Iryna Danylovych.
Russia continues to illegally detain more than 120 Ukrainian citizens under politically motivated charges in temporarily occupied Crimea and Russia. Most of them are Crimean Tatars. Among them, in particular, the First Deputy Head of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People, Nariman Dzhelyal, who was detained and subsequently arrested in Crimea in September 2021 - shortly after his participation on 23 August 2021 in the Inaugural Summit of the International Crimean Platform.
Many more Ukrainians are deprived of their freedom due to stay-at-home orders, house arrest or administrative detention.
The Russian Federation trespasses its antiterrorism legislation and uses military courts to illegally convict Ukrainian citizens under the bogus charges of extremism and terrorism activity. There are also documented cases of non-admission of independent lawyers to illegally detained citizens of Ukraine. In addition, administrative pressure is also applied to lawyers in Crimea, administrative fines are imposed and their detention is practiced.
Entire families of Crimean Tatars are politically persecuted. Examples include brothers Teymur and Uzeyir Abdullayev (sentenced to 17 and 12, respectively); brothers Seytumer and Osman Seytumerov and their uncle Rustem Seitmemetov (under investigation); father and son Enver and Riza Omerov (on January 12, 2021, they were sentenced to 18 and 13 years in prison respectively), together with their relative Rustem Ismailov (sentenced to 14 years), cousins Asan and Aziz Akhtemov and others.
According to human rights defenders, about 200 children of illegally detained human rights activists and citizen journalists are brought up without their fathers’ care. A number of them have never seen their fathers because they were born after their arrests. Many children developed severe medical diseases because of stress and moral suffering.
The occupation administration is persecuting for Ukrainian symbols or use of Ukrainian language. The most high-profile cases are the imprisonment of Volodymyr Balukh and Oleh Prykhodko, who were sentenced to up to five years in prison for their pro-Ukrainian stance. In September 2019, V. Balukh was released. O. Prykhodko has been behind bars since October 10, 2019. From July 2021, he is kept in prison for dangerous criminals - “Vladimir Central.”
The Russian Federation also practices opening new criminal proceedings against Ukrainian citizens who are already serving sentences for politically motivated cases. Thus, on 27 April 2022, the court in Rostov-on-Don announced a new sentence for one of the participants in the so-called "cases of Crimean saboteurs" Dmytro Shtyblikov - 19 years and 6 months of imprisonment for so-called "treason". He could be released at the beginning of November 2021, as the term of his first illegal sentence in the Russian Federation has ended. But this did not happen, because at that time Dmytro Shtyblikov was already under investigation in a new criminal case.
In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, the illegally imprisoned Ukrainian citizens were particularly vulnerable, as they were deprived of adequate medical care. Russia ignored complaints on seriously deteriorated health conditions, even despite the obvious symptoms of COVID-19, it did not provide the necessary examination and treatment The Russian occupation administration did not provide the necessary treatment for the detainees.
Russian prison administrations continue practicing psychological and physical pressure on the detainees (Valentyn Vyhivskyi, Teymur Abdullaev, Oleh Prykhodko, Nariman Dzhelal, Iryna Danylovich and others) in the absence of monitoring by human rights organisations.
Illegal movement of protected persons
According to the Russian law forcibly imposed in Crimea, all the so-called “terrorist cases” are trailed in the “Southern District Military Court” (Rostov-on-Don). Even at the stage of judicial investigation, detainees are transferred to trial on the territory of the Russian Federation. They are often not returned until the court verdict. Even if the case was heard in Crimea, after the sentence comes into force, people are transferred to Russian prisons, especially in political cases. Furthermore, Russian authorities try to send them as far as possible. For example, Oleg Sentsov was sent to Labytnangi, Alexey Syzonovych to Irkutsk (both released on September 7, 2019), Emir-Usein Kuku, Ruslan Zeitulaev, brothers Teymur and Uzeyir Abdullayev to Salavat, Republic of Bashkortostan. Russia intentionally cuts dissent’s ties with their relatives to increase the psychological pressure both on detainees and on their families. Such treatment of Ukrainian citizens - their illegal movement from Crimea is a war crime under international law.
Russia does not effectively investigate cases of enforced disappearances and missing persons. During 2014-2021, 44 people became victims of enforced disappearances in Crimea. Six of them were found dead. The fate of 15 people remains unknown.
The violation of the right to education in native language
Russia deprives ethnic Ukrainians and Crimean Tatars of a right to education in native language. The most dramatic is the decline of Ukrainian language learning. From 2013 to 2021, the number of students who studied in the Ukrainian language decreased 63 times - from 13,589 to 214, which is 0.1% of schoolchildren. The pre-school education in the Ukrainian language is absent completely.
Only 6700 pupils are actually studying the Crimean Tatar language – that’s only 3 % of the 200 000 pupils.
The Ukrainian language declaratively retains the state status in the temporarily occupied Crimea along with Russian and Crimean Tatar on the basis of the so-called "Constitution of the Republic of Crimea". Although this “document” formally declares the provision of equal use of the Russian, Crimean Tatar, and Ukrainian languages, in practice, since 2014, the process of total displacement of the Ukrainian language from public space, culture, and education has been ongoing. On 7 March 2014, the use of the Ukrainian language in official paperwork was banned in the city of Sevastopol. Starting from the 2014/2015 academic year, general educational institutions located on the territory of the temporarily occupied Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol have been transferred to Russian educational standards, which are significantly different from Ukrainian ones and do not include mandatory study of the Ukrainian language.
Education in higher education institutions in Crimea is conducted exclusively in Russian. In September 2014, at the Tavrida National University named after V. I. Vernadskyi in Simferopol the faculty of Ukrainian philology was liquidated by transforming it into a department. Later, the University was liquidated by the Russian occupation administration and merged into the so-called "Crimean Federal University". From 1 February 2016, Tavrida National University named after V. I. Vernadskyi resumed its work in Kyiv.
Russia is limiting the functioning of the Ukrainian language and displacing it from all spheres of public life in order to integrate the residents of the temporarily occupied territory into the Russian linguistic and cultural space.
The Russian occupation administration considers the Ukrainian language as one of the integral attributes of Ukrainian statehood and tries to narrow its scope as much as possible in order to make the process of reintegration of the occupied territory population’ impossible.
In 2017, Ukraine filed a lawsuit against the Russian Federation at the International Court of Justice of the United Nations, in particular on the basis of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination in relation to Russia's actions in the temporarily occupied Crimea and the city of Sevastopol.
In its decision of 8 November 2019, the International Court of Justice of the United Nations recognized its jurisdiction in the case Ukraine v. Russia and obliged Russia to ensure the right of Ukrainians in Crimea to study in the Ukrainian language. The court, in particular, took into account the 2016 UN Report on Human Rights in Ukraine, which states the pressure on students and teachers of Ukrainian schools to stop teaching in the Ukrainian language and recognized that the oppression of Ukrainian education on the occupied peninsula violates the requirements of the Convention on the Prevention of Racial Discrimination.
The violation of freedom of religion or belief
Russia provides the systematic policy of oppression of all religious communities, not controlled by Moscow: Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Jehovah’s Witnesses and Muslim communities.
Since 2014, the functioning of religious organisations in the temporarily occupied Crimea has become impossible without confirmation by the leadership of such organisations of support for the Russian occupation administration. Cases of murders and abductions of priests by the occupying forces have been recorded. According to official data, at least 2,220 religious organisations representing at least 43 denominations were active on the Crimean Peninsula before the temporary occupation. Meanwhile, as of the end of 2020, the Russian Federation reported there were 907 religious organisations representing about 20 religious. Thus, both the number of religious organisations and the number of denominations they represent have more than halved.
The Ukrainian Orthodox Church is the most persecuted religious organisation in Crimea. Its oppression is an element of the policy of eradication of Ukrainian identity in temporarily occupied territories and a component of the policy of displacement of those who disagree with the occupation.
As of the beginning of 2014, the Crimean Diocese of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine had 45 parishes and 14 priests, while at the beginning of 2022, only 7 parishes and 4 priests remained in the Crimean Diocese of the OCU.
The prosecution on charges of "illegal missionary activity" was an alarming trend on the temporarily occupied territories of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol in 2020 – 2022. In Ukraine, religious communities freely carry out preaching activities. Instead, the Russian occupation administration opened a number of administrative proceedings under Art. 5.26 of the Code of Administrative Offences of the Russian Federation (violation of the legislation on freedom of conscience, freedom of religion and religious associations) against believers and representatives of the clergy who practice Christianity, Islam and Judaism.
Muslims and Muslim communities, who are not connected with so-called "Spiritual Muslim Administration of the Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol" (controlled by Russian occupation authorities), are systematically persecuted. There are reports from Crimea about the impossibility of free sermons in mosques, the text of which must be agreed centrally.
Russia illegally extended its legislation to the territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol and prohibited the activity of the religious organisation "Jehovah’s Witnesses", which is determined as extremist in Russia. At the same time, the religious organisation freely carries out its activities in Ukraine and many other countries of the world, and there are no reasonable grounds to consider it an extremist organisation. At the end of January 2022, 5 people who belong to "Jehovah's Witnesses" were deprived of their freedom in Crimea. The rights to free movement of another 9 persons are restricted: 7 of them are under house arrest, 2 - under a restraining order.
The violation of the freedom of expression
More than 300 violations of journalists´ rights have been recorded by human rights activists from the beginning of the temporary occupation. The large-scale process of rollback of the freedom of expression on the peninsula is carried out with the help of: legislation of Russian Federation on counteraction of extremist activity; criminal prosecution for calls for separatism; administrative prosecution of journalists; arbitrary detentions; physical attacks; threats; liquidation of independent media; blocking of alternative sources of information.
Only 232 of 3000 media registered before the occupation sources were able to overpass the re-registration procedure in accordance with Russian legislation. At the same time all 12 independent Crimean Tatar media outlets were forced to leave the peninsula due to the persecution.
Having displaced independent media from Crimea, Russia began to illegally persecute activists who spread information about the real state of affairs on the peninsula. As a result of the persecution, 10 citizen journalists were imprisoned, and one more is under house arrest.
In May 2022, the Prosecutor General's Office of the Russian Federation recognized the NGO "Crimean Human Rights Group" as an organisation whose activities threaten the security and constitutional order of the Russian Federation, and therefore it is undesirable on the territory of Russia.
Almost every political prisoner undergoes a month-long forced psychiatric examination.
On 14 October 2020, the occupation administration ordered a compulsory in-patient psychiatric examination for Oleksandr Sizikov, who has a visual disability (complete blindness) and is persecuted by Russian occupation administration for political reasons. The same measure was applied to Narim Dzhelyal in October 2021.
Ban of the Mejlis
Ban of the Mejlis and systematic oppressions of the Crimean Tatars structures, religious and cultural organisations as well as media have ruined the entire system of national institutions of the Crimean Tatars in the occupied Crimea.
These actions of Russia constitute a blatant violation of international humanitarian law and human rights, a manifestation of racial discrimination. They are an element of the large-scale intimidation and harassment campaign against those who did not agree with the occupation of the Autonomous Republic Crimea and the city of Sevastopol.
The above-mentioned steps of the occupation authorities have become an element of the discredit campaign against the Crimean Tatars aimed to describe them as potentially dangerous social group inclined to extremist actions, while the Crimean Tatar representative institutions as criminal communities that try to destabilise the situation in the peninsula. It was made to ruin the system of Crimean Tatar national institutions and to outlaw their national leaders as well as 2,500 members of local mejlises.
Ban of the Mejlis in April 2016 has “legitimized” the oppressions of civil, political and cultural rights of the Crimean Tatars.
The Russian occupation authorities regularly fabricate political motivated criminal cases to display the Mejlis as allegedly extremist organisation. The oppressions of representatives of national institutions of the Crimean Tatars are based on fabricated charges such as harbouring of extremists, acts of sabotage, extortion, possession of drugs and weapons etc. During the occupation, hundreds of citizens have been persecuted for taking part in the events dedicated to the Crimean Tatar Flag Day or to the anniversary of the deportation of the Crimean Tatars on 18 May. The freedom of speech and assembly of the members of the Mejlis that is foreseen by international instruments for ensuring the human rights is widely violated.
Ban of the Mejlis activities combined with mass persecutions of political leaders, activists, human rights defenders, journalists, lawyers, as well as other representatives of the Crimean Tatar people is an open manifestation of discrimination.
In 2017 Ukraine initiated the case against the Russian Federation in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and asked the ICJ to adopt respective provisional measures. On 19 April 2017 the ICJ has adopted the order that required Russia, among other things, to “refrain from maintaining or imposing limitations on the ability of the Crimean Tatar community to preserve its representative institutions, including the Mejlis". Russia ignores this order for more than 5 years.
Militarization of the peninsula
Since the temporary occupation of Crimea by Russia, the process of militarization of the peninsula and the region of the Black and Azov Seas has started. Crimea gradually turned into a militarized outpost for aggression against Ukraine.
The militarization of Crimea had a negative impact on the security situation in the Black Sea, the Sea of Azov and the Mediterranean.
After 2014, an excessive number of weapons systems were deployed on the territory of Crimea, including ships and aircraft capable of carrying nuclear charges, as well as manpower, the number of which reached 41 thousand people in 2021 (compared to 12.5 thousand in 2014).
The UN General Assembly has repeatedly expressed concern about such a situation. Since 2018 the UN GA has adopted annual resolutions "The problem of militarization of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol (Ukraine) as well as parts of the Black and Azov seas".
As a party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and as a non-nuclear state, Ukraine draws the attention of the international community to the possibility of Russia deploying such weapons and their carriers in Crimea.
The illegal construction of a bridge across the Kerch Strait significantly increased the level of threats in the region, as it provided new infrastructural opportunities for further militarization of the Crimean Peninsula.
Starting from 24 February 2022 Russia is using the territory of the Crimean Peninsula as an outpost for a full-scale military invasion of the southern regions of Ukraine.
Russia also systematically impedes the freedom of commercial navigation in the Sea of Azov and the Kerch Strait, which has a negative impact on the economic and social development of the coastal regions of Ukraine, as well as on the state of global food security.
Violation of international humanitarian law
Changing the demographics of the occupied Crimea
From the first days of the occupation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, Russia has been pursuing a systematic and large-scale policy aimed at changing the demographic composition of the population of the occupied territory.
On the one hand, through systematic political repression against opponents of the occupation, primarily ethnic Ukrainians and Crimean Tatars. Russia is forcing out from the occupied territories everyone who could potentially resist. About 64,000 people left the occupied Crimea (according to information of December 2021).
On the other hand, Russia is actively colonizing the peninsula. During the occupation, the Russian Federation moved from its territory to the occupied Crimea according to various estimates more than 1 million of their own citizens.
Forced issuing of passports
After the attempt to annex Crimea, the Russian occupation administration forcibly issued Russian passports to the population of the peninsula. In case of refusal of citizens to obtain Russian passports, their rights to medical protection, social and pension assistance, work, etc. were artificially limited. Ukrainian citizens were forced to obtain Russian passports in order to remain owners of their own homes, property and business on the occupied peninsula.
Russian citizenship was imposed on some Crimeans even without their formal consent. In this regard, Ukrainian consuls did not have access to Oleg Sentsov and Olexander Kolchenko for a long time (in the process of exchanging prisoners, they returned to Ukraine), as Russia forcibly issued them Russian passports after their imprisonment.
Illegal expropriation of property of Ukraine and its citizens in Crimea
After the illegal annexation of the territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, the Government of the Russian Federation introduced large-scale expropriation and nationalisation of state property, which was administered by state authorities and local governments. In most cases, the illegal nationalisation of state property of Ukraine in the territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea was carried out by adopting resolutions of the so-called “State Council of the Republic of Crimea” and orders of the so-called “Council of Ministers of the Republic of Crimea”. In particular, in the period from 17 March to 3 September 2014 “State Council of the Republic of Crimea” has adopted 15 resolutions, according to which the property of the Ministry of Infrastructure of Ukraine, the Ministry of Agrarian Policy and Food of Ukraine, the State Emergency Service of Ukraine, the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources of Ukraine, Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine, property of many state enterprises such as "Administration of Seaports of Ukraine", PJSC "National Joint Stock Company "Nadra of Ukraine", the property of state services and inspections of Ukraine, property of enterprises, institutions and organisations of the agro-industrial complex, etc. was expropriated.
In addition, during 2014, the property of the largest enterprises and financial institutions, operating on the peninsula was also nationalized. Thus, as a result of the adoption of 28 resolutions by the so-called "Parliament of the Republic of Crimea" the following state enterprises were nationalized: PJSC "Joint Stock Company" Krymavtotrans ", Crimean branches of PJSC "Ukrtelecom", PJSC "Kyivstar", PJSC "East Crimean Energy Company", PJSC "Krymenergo", PJSC “Kerchgaz”, private enterprise “Ukrgazprom”, PJSC “Privatbank”, etc. The nationalization was carried out without providing the owners with any guarantees, including compensation, and was in fact an expropriation of private property. None of the decisions on nationalization was justified by military necessity.
For example, in December 2020, the National Production and Agrarian Association "Massandra", which is state owned in Ukraine, was illegally acquired by a subsidiary of the bank "Russia" "Southern Project" for 5.327 billion rubles ($ 73 million). One of the bank's founders and the largest shareholder is a friend and ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Yuri Kovalchuk.
The expropriation also affected the private property of individuals and legal entities. During 2014-2017, at least 3,800 land plots were confiscated in the territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol due to the fact that the occupation authorities reconsidered the decisions of the state authorities of Ukraine to grant them ownership, including under the pretext of building infrastructure facilities by the occupying power. An example of such policy was the Decree of the President of the Russian Federation dated 20.03.2020 № 201, which included almost the entire territory of the occupied peninsula in the "list of border areas where foreign citizens, stateless persons and foreign legal entities cannot own the land, approved by Decree of the President of the Russian Federation of January 9, 2011 No 26".
In order to protect the property rights of Ukrainian citizens in the temporarily occupied territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine acts in accordance with the Directives of the delegation of the Government of Ukraine on participation in dispute resolutions regarding the interpretation and application of the Agreement between the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine and the Government of the Russian Federation on encouragement and mutual protection of investments, approved by the order of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine “On the delegation of the Government of Ukraine to participate in dispute resolutions regarding the interpretation and application of the Agreement between the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine and the Government of the Russian Federation on encouragement and mutual protection of investments” dated February 29, 2016 No 126.
According to available information, a number of individuals and legal entities of Ukraine has already used the dispute resolution mechanism provided in the abovementioned Agreement. Among them are PJSC “Privatbank”, PJSC “Finilon”, PJSC “Ukrnafta”, Ltd “Stabil”, Ltd “Everest Estate”, Ltd “Airport Belbek”, Ukrainian citizen Ihor Kolomoyskyi, JSC “Oschadbank”, NAK “Naftogaz of Ukraine” and 6 its PJSC subsidiaries “Chornomornaftogaz”, PJSC “Ukrtransgaz”, JSC “Likvo”, PJSC “UkrGasVydobuvannya”, PJSC “Ukrtransnafta” and JSC “Gas of Ukraine”, DTEK Krymenergo, PJSC “Ukrenergo”, Sea Ports Administration, SE “NAEK “Energoatom” etc.
Conscription to the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation
The Russian occupation administration began to introduce the practice of conscription of the population of the Crimean Peninsula to the ranks of the Russian Federation Armed Forces in the spring of 2015. Contrary to the norms of international humanitarian law, the occupying authorities until mid-2022 conscripted more than 35,000 Ukrainian citizens - residents of Crimea for service in the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation.
Russia has also extended its legislation to the Crimean Peninsula that criminalizes conscription evasion. From 1 April to 15 July 15 2022 the RF conducted its 15th illegal conscription campaign in Crimea. In addition, residents of Crimea are involved in Russian armed forces to conduct military operations against Ukraine.
Militarization of education and propaganda of war among minors
The comprehensive militarization of education and the propaganda of war among minors is of particular concern. This process involves 200,000 children, which is almost equal to the total number of school-age children on the peninsula. In April 2020, the Russian occupation administration approved a new five-year program aimed, among other, to prepare children for service in the Russian Armed Forces and promoting such service, amounting to more than $ 23 million.
After 24 February 2022 the militarization of youth in Crimea intensified. The rapid expansion of the network of "Yunarmiya" movement centers in the temporarily occupied territory of Crimea has begun. The agitation of young people for service in the security forces of the Russian Federation continues.
The unique natural reserve fund of the peninsula is being brutally and methodically destroyed by the occupying power for over the last eight years.
Aggressive militarization of the peninsula, its transformation into a solid military base stuffed with all possible types of weapons, including nuclear and prohibited by international conventions – chemical weapons, is the source of constant ecological threat not only for the peninsula, but also for the entire Black Sea Basin. Exploitation of conservation areas for military exercises with combat firing is a common phenomenon under temporary occupation of the peninsula by the Russian Federation.
Ecologists register irreparable damage caused to the offshore of the Azov and Black Seas as a result of the rapid construction of the bridge over the Kerch Strait and the federal highway "Tavrida". The consequences are shoaling of the water area in the locations of load-bearing structures.
Also, illegal extraction of resources gradually leads to irreversible damage to the ecosystem, especially to endangered flora and fauna.
Since the beginning of 2022 zoo activists of Crimea have noticed 282 dolphins ashore, from which 41 animals were found alive. The infection has resulted the main cause of these events. It was also fixed the mass deaths of freshwater crabs, from the Potamidae family, listed to the Red Book. That was caused by the barbaric clearing of the mountain rivers of Crimea in 2021, namely on the Belbek upper reaches. The largest population of these crustaceans was previously observed in the area of the Kokkozka river confluence.
Additionally, the Russian occupation administration extracted toxic sand for the construction of the Tavrida highway near the city of Kerch in the Upper-Churbash and Lower-Churbash tailings ponds.
Under the pretext of reviewing the status of reserves, their areas are reduced, and active construction instantly begins in the respective territories.
40 out of 48 valuable objects of national significance of the Ukrainian natural-reserve fund at the Crimean Peninsula were downgraded to regional significance. Thus, it makes them extremely vulnerable to becoming a part of industrial and recreational projects.
The total area of reserves that have been damaged is 153 ha, and more than 110,000 ha of forests have been affected detrimentally by the occupation authorities in Crimea.
The Russian occupation administration overuses water resources for the construction of military infrastructure on the peninsula, which caused depletion and mineralization of water. As a result, the civilian population suffered from a lack of fresh water.
Due to the armed aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine, the occupation of administrative, economic and other facilities of the North Crimean Canal, as well as the destruction by the occupiers of the hydrotechnical construction that regulated the water supply from the Kakhovka reservoir of the lower basin of the Dnipro River to the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, in violation of the legislation of Ukraine, the Russian Federation from 27 February 2022 arbitrary uses of water resources which are the national property of the Ukrainian people. This causes significant damage to the sectors of the economy and creates a threat to the normal supply of drinking needs of the population, household, medical, health, agricultural, industrial, transport, energy, fishing and other state and public needs of Ukraine. According to the information of the State Environmental Inspectorate of Ukraine, the amount of damages caused to the State as a result of the unauthorized use of water resources of the Kakhovka reservoir is about 33 million hrn. per day.
Russian occupation administration carries out illegal activity towards material cultural heritage in the temporarily occupied Crimea. The Russian Federation transfers cultural values from the peninsula to Russia and excavate historical places all around Crimea. The Russian occupation administration also carries out underwater archaeological excavations near the city of Sudak and the Kerch Strait.
Museum objects, including the Khan's Palace in Bakhchisaray, are being destroyed. In order to achieve instruments to protect abovementioned objects, Ukraine has acceded to the Second Protocol to The Hague Convention of 1954 for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict.
One of the main aspects of this document, which the Russian Federation violates constantly, is Article 9 that deals with cultural values’ protection on the occupied territories. According to this article, the occupying authorities which have a full or partly control of another party’s territory, has no right to a). any illicit export, other removal or transfer of ownership of cultural property; b). any archaeological excavation, save where this is strictly required to safeguard, record or preserve cultural property; c). any alteration to, or change of use of, cultural property which is intended to conceal or destroy cultural, historical or scientific evidence.
Ukraine has initiated a new international coordination and advisory initiative - the International Crimea Platform - as an element of its strategic vision of de-occupation of Crimea. The Platform is also aimed at consolidating international attention and resources on the Crimean track and synergize relevant efforts at the intergovernmental, interparliamentary and expert levels.
The efforts of the international community aimed at de-occupation of Crimea are intended to promote the restoration of respect for the established norms and principles of international law, as well as the non-recognition of any attempts to change internationally recognized borders through the use of force.
Activities of the International Crimea Platform:
In pursuit of the primary goal of de-occupying Crimea, the International Crimea Platform's endeavors are concentrated on three levels: heads of state and government, parliaments, and experts. These efforts revolve around five priority tracks:
1. Consolidation of the policy of non-recognition of the attempted annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation.
2. Strengthening the effectiveness of sanctions against the Russian Federation.
3. Ensuring regional security and protecting freedom of navigation.
4. Protection of human rights and international humanitarian law.
5. Overcoming the negative impact of the temporary occupation of Crimea on the economy and the environment.
The International Crimea Platform was officially launched at its Inaugural Summit in Kyiv on 23 August 2021, which was attended by 47 states (including Ukraine) and international organizations (Albania, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Moldova, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, North Macedonia, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, the United States, Turkey, Ukraine, the EU, NATO, the Council of Europe and GUAM).
At the Summit, the participants approved a Joint Declaration acknowledging the establishment of the Platform with the purpose of ending the temporary occupation of the territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol by the Russian Federation and restoring Ukraine's control in full compliance with international law.
On 23 August 2022, on the occasion of the first anniversary of the establishment of the International Crimea Platform, the Second Summit of the Leaders of the Member States of the International Crimea Platform took place in an online format in Kyiv. The Summit witnessed the participation of 60 foreign countries and international organizations from 5 continents. Following the Summit, a Joint Statement was adopted, reaffirming the values that unite the members of the International Crimea Platform, condemning Russia's armed aggression against Ukraine, and expressing readiness to continue to take joint steps aimed at de-occupying Crimea.
On 25 October 2022, Ukraine, in cooperation with Croatia, held the First Parliamentary Summit of the International Crimean Platform in Zagreb, launching its parliamentary dimension. The Summit was attended by representatives of 42 national parliaments and 5 parliamentary assemblies of international organizations (NATO PA, OSCE PA, EP, PACE, and the Interparliamentary Union). The event resulted in the adoption of a Joint Declaration, which demonstrated the readiness of the countries to continue to provide Ukraine with political, diplomatic, economic and humanitarian support to restore the territorial integrity of Ukraine, as well as non-recognition of the temporary occupation and annexation of Crimea, parts of Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions by the Russian Federation.
On 26 October 2022, an online conference titled "Battle for Human Rights: Crimea, Ukraine, The World" was held, bringing together ombudsmen and heads of national human rights institutions. The conference was jointly organized by the Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights and the Ombudswoman of the Republic of Croatia.
On 12-13 April 2023, the First Black Sea Security Conference took place in Bucharest, Romania. The conference was initiated by the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Defense of Ukraine and Romania, in collaboration with the Center for Defense Studies. The event, which was attended by approximately 180 participants from 50 countries and international institutions, finalized the formation of architectural framework of the ICP.
During the conference, both Ukrainian and international experts presented a discussion paper entitled "Vision of a Peaceful, Secure, and Prosperous Black Sea Region." The paper focused on the future of the region and outlined comprehensive measures aimed at restoring security in the Black Sea area.
Within the framework of the ICP, there is an Expert Network that brings together Ukrainian and foreign experts from analytical institutions and non-governmental organizations that provide information, analytical and communication support to the platform. There are 7 working groups within the Expert Network: "Non-recognition policy and sanctions", "Human rights and international humanitarian law", "Security track", "Economy and ecology", "Cultural heritage of Crimea", "Humanitarian policy", "Restoration of indigenous peoples' rights as a tool for de-occupation of Crimea".
Ukraine is constantly working to expand the number of ICP members. In 2022, Liechtenstein, Liberia, Niger and Guatemala joined the declaration of the Inaugural Summit of the International Crimea Platform. In 2022-2023, more than 63 states and international organizations took part in the ICP events.
With the beginning of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the members of the International Crimea Platform expressed their full support for our country by approving both in February 2022 and February 2023 Joint statements on the occasion of the Day of Resistance to the Occupation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the City of Sevastopol.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is engaged in active communication with the members of the International Crimea Platform on issues related to Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine and its aftermath. To facilitate the swift exchange of information regarding the situation in the temporarily occupied Crimea, the focal points network was established in the ICP. This network comprises representatives from foreign ministries and secretariats of international organizations.
In the eight years since the beginning of the Russian occupation of Crimea significant progress has been made in consolidating the international policy of non-recognition of the attempted annexation of the peninsula.
International organisations whose competence includes issues of global and regional security, including the UN, the EU, NATO, Council of Europe, as well as UNESCO have adopted basic political decisions to support Ukraine's territorial integrity, condemn the occupation of Crimea, and state the non-recognition of its attempted annexation.
The international coalition of states has been formed within the UN to actively support Ukraine on the Crimea issue, as evidenced by the annual resolutions of the UN General Assembly condemning violations of fundamental human rights in the occupied Crimea and the militarization of the peninsula.
Key international partners of Ukraine, including the EU, the United States, Canada, Australia, and Japan have adopted Crimean packages of personal and sectoral sanctions against Russia and members of the illegal Crimean occupation administration, which exerts significant political and economic pressure on the occupying power and complicates the occupation regime on the peninsula.
Active work has begun within international courts, including the United Nations International Court of Justice, the European Court of Human Rights, the International Criminal Court, and the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, which demonstrate consistent support of Ukraine in the Crimean issue.
On 27 March 2014, the UN General Assembly adopted the Resolution A/RES/68/262 "Territorial Integrity of Ukraine", which reaffirmed the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders, emphasizing the illegitimacy of the so-called "all-Crimean referendum", which was organised on 16 March 2014 by the Russian occupation authorities. Moreover, in paragraph 6 of this document, the Assembly called on States, international organisations and specialized agencies not to recognize any alteration of the status of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol on the basis of the above-mentioned referendum and to refrain from any action or dealing that might be interpreted as recognizing any such altered status. Thus, the UN General Assembly introduced the policy of non-recognition in relation to the Russian-occupied Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol.
The call not to recognize the attempted annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation, condemning Russia's failure to fulfil its international obligations as an occupying power, including systemic violations of fundamental human rights and freedoms and militarization of the peninsula, was consistently reaffirmed in the following UN GA resolutions: “Situation of human rights in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol (Ukraine)”(A/RES/71/205 of 19.12.2016, A/RES/72/190 of 19.12.2017, A/RES/73/263 of 22.12.2018, A/RES/74/168 of 18.12.2019, A/RES/75/192 of 16.12.2020, A/RES/76/179 of 16.12.2021; “Problem of the militarization of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, Ukraine, as well as parts of the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov” (A/RES/73/194 of 17.12.2018, A/RES/74/17 dated 09.12.2019, A/RES/75/29 dated 9.12.2020, A/RES/76/70 dated 09.12.2021.
It should also be noted the resolution of the 11th Extraordinary Special Session of the UN General Assembly A/RES/ES-11/1 dated 02.03.2022 "Aggression against Ukraine", which once again confirms the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.
Also, starting from 2018, at the initiative of Ukraine, the UN General Assembly annually decides to keep the item "Situation in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine" on the agenda of its sessions (73-76), which allows full-fledged debates to be held every year (usually in February) from the entire complex of Russian aggression against Ukraine in the UN General Assembly.
No less important in the context of the protection of human rights in occupied Crimea are the reports of the UN Secretary General (A/74/276 – August 2019, A/HRC/44/21 – June 2020, A/75/334 – September 2020, A /HRC/47/58 of May 2021 and A/76/260 of August 31, 2021) entitled "Situation of human rights in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, Ukraine", which documents numerous facts of mass violations of human rights in the occupied territories.
Every year since 2014, our partners in the UN Security Council organise the high level informal meeting "Arria formula" within the UN SC on the situation in the temporarily occupied Crimean Peninsula.
UN Human Rights Council
As of June 2022 the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine (UNHRM), deployed since 15 March 2014 at the invitation of the Ukrainian Government, has prepared:
- 32 reports of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on the state of human rights in Ukraine;
- general report of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights;
- 7 thematic reports.
Considerable attention is paid to the human rights situation in the ARC in the aforementioned documents. The UN Human Rights Council reviews relevant documents on a regular basis. A number of reports were presented at the meetings of the UN Security Council.
Since 2014, the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) has adopted six resolutions "Cooperation and assistance to Ukraine in the field of human rights", which confirm the territorial integrity of Ukraine and recognize the negative impact of Russia's occupation of the ARC on the ability of the population to exercise human rights. According to these resolutions, the HRC conducts an interactive dialogue on the situation in the field of human rights in Ukraine on an ongoing basis. Particular attention is paid to the situation in Crimea.
At the initiative of Ukraine, 7 joint statements of the delegations were prepared and delivered in the HRC regarding the situation in the field of human rights in Ukraine in the context of Russian aggression and the situation with human rights in Crimea.
Since 2017, within the framework of the high-level segment of the UN Human Rights Council, on an annual basis (February-March), parallel ministerial-level events "The State of Human Rights in Crimea" have been held.
In March 2014, the European Union adopted a policy of non-recognition of the attempted annexation of Crimea and imposed sanctions regimes against the Russian Federation. This EU policy was reiterated in multiple EU documents, in particular in the European Council Conclusions of 21 March 2014, 20 March 2015 and 14 December 2018.
The EU high-level contacts with Russia were limited: the EU-Russia summits which were conducted twice a year before, were cancelled; EIB and EBRD suspended the financing of new projects in Russia; bilateral and regional projects of cooperation with the Russian Federation, in particular “Creative Europe” (EU program to support creativity and culture), “Horizon-2020” (EU program in the area of research and innovations) and “Erasmus+” (EU program to support education, youth and sport) programs. The European Commission and the EU Member States have suspended all projects in Crimea, with the exception of small-scale projects and exchanges aimed at improving people-to people contacts.
Consulates and embassies of the EU Member States in Ukraine and in the Russian Federation follow the EU guidelines regarding applications for Schengen visas by residents of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol. According to the guidelines, residents of Crimea and Sevastopol must obtain visas at the consulates of the Schengen countries located in Ukraine.
Finally, the policy of non-recognition also applies to agreements between the EU and the Russian Federation. The EU has officially informed Russia that bilateral agreements concluded with the Russian Federation are valid only on the territory of Russia, which is recognized by the international community.
Since 2014, the EU has repeatedly reaffirmed its support for Ukraine's territorial integrity in its decisions and declarations, condemned Russia's aggression, and reaffirmed its determination to pursue a policy of non-recognition of the attempted annexation of Crimea until de-occupation of the peninsula. The EU underlined that holding “elections” and conscription of the Crimean residents into Russian Armed Forced are illegal. It furthermore emphasized on unacceptability of violation by the occupation administration of human rights and norms of international humanitarian law in Crimea, condemned the ongoing militarization of Crimea and adjacent waters, impediments to freedom of navigation, illegal construction of Kerch bridge, artificial change of demographic structure of the peninsula by resettling people from the territory of the Russian Federation etc.
The European Parliament has taken an active position in support of Ukraine in the context of Russian aggression. Since March 2014, the European Parliament adopted 8 resolutions: on Russia's invasion of Ukraine (2014/2627 (RSP) of 13 March 2014; on Russia's pressure on the Eastern Partnership countries and, in particular, the destabilization of eastern Ukraine by 2014/2699 (RSP) of 17 April 2014); regarding the situation in Ukraine 2014/2717 (RSP) of July 17, 2014; 2014/2841 (RSP) of September 18, 2014; 2014/2965 (RSP) of January 15, 2015); on the human rights situation in Crimea, in particular the Crimean Tatars (2016/2556 (RSP) of 4 February 2016; 2016/2692 (RSP) of 12 May 2016); concerning Russia, including the situation with environmental activists and Ukrainian political prisoners of July 18, 2019.
Given the principle of consensus of the OSCE, despite the constant discussions of the situation in Crimea and Donbas at the Permanent Council’s meetings, OSCE did not adopt any political decisions in this regard. However, the role of OSCE in the process of resolution of the Ukraine-Russia conflict in Donbas was quite significant, in particular, due to OSCE participation in the work of the Trilateral Contact Group as well as activities of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM), launched on 21 March 2014 based on the request of Ukrainian Government and consensus decision of all 57 OSCE Participating States. SMM has been terminated on 31 March 2022 due to blocking by Russia of continuation of the mandate of the Mission.
At the same time the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, where decision is being adopted without the consensus rule, has repeatedly expressed its support for Ukraine, in particular in following resolutions:
Since the beginning of Russian aggression in 2014, NATO consistently supports the territorial integrity and state sovereignty of Ukraine, condemns Russian aggression against Ukraine and the temporary occupation of part of its territory, and does not recognize the illegal and illegitimate attempt to annex Crimea by the Russian Federation.
After the temporary occupation of Crimea in 2014, NATO helped to reform the Armed Forces and defence structures of Ukraine, in particular by providing equipment and allocating financial assistance. The NATO member states also provided the training of tens thousands of Ukrainian servicemen. Since 2016, NATO assistance has been delivered in the framework of the Comprehensive Assistance Package for Ukraine, which includes a wide range of defence capability building initiatives and trust funds targeting key areas such as cyber defence, logistics and countering hybrid warfare. Ukrainian military also strengthened its capabilities by participating in NATO exercises and operations.
With aim to increase security in the Black Sea region, on April 4, 2019, during the events on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the founding of NATO, the Package of Measures on the Black Sea Security was approved, which, in particular, provides:
• launch of the Enhanced Maritime Situation Awareness for Ukraine;
• training of naval forces and coast guard;
• port visits and training;
• establishment of communication lines between the naval command of Ukraine, NATO and member states;
• expansion of information exchange between Ukraine and NATO.
In April 2020, during NATO events at the level of foreign ministers, additions to the Package of Measures on Black Sea Security were approved, which crystallized into separate areas of cooperation already outlined, which are important for our country, in particular in terms of their expansion and strengthening.
On June 12, 2020, according to the decision of the North Atlantic Council, Ukraine was granted the status of Partner with enhanced opportunities (EOP).
NATO strongly condemns the brutal and unprovoked war unleashed by Russia on February 24, 2022 against Ukraine.
Alliance member states and partners have taken unprecedented measures against Russia, including severe sanctions. Thanks to these efforts, it will be increasingly difficult for Russia to finance the war.
Against the backdrop of Russia's full-scale military invasion of Ukraine at the NATO Madrid Summit, held on 28-30 June 2022, in which the President of Ukraine V. Zelenskyy took part in the video-format, the allies agreed:
NATO Parliamentary Assembly also provides consistent support for Ukraine, condemned Russia's aggression against Ukraine, terminated the mandate of the Russian delegation's associated participation in NATO Parliamentary Assembly and has not supported the institutional dialogue with Russia since 2014. During the autumn session of NATO Parliamentary Assembly in October 2019, the Assembly emphasized its support of Ukraine as the strategic partner.
During the spring session of the NATO PA in May 2022 in Vilnius, the Declaration in support of Ukraine was adopted with a call on the governments and parliaments of the member states of the Alliance to support initiatives aimed at establishing the responsibility of the Russian Federation for crimes committed as a result of its unprovoked and unjustified full-scale invasion of Ukraine on 24 February 2022.
Council of Europe
In 2014 and 2017, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe adopted 11 decisions “Situation in Ukraine”, on 3 May 2018 - “Situation in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol”, and on 11 May 2021 - decision “Situation with human rights in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city Sevastopol (Ukraine)". They declared full support for the territorial integrity of Ukraine, condemned Russia's violation of fundamental norms of international law, international humanitarian law and international human rights law in the temporarily occupied territories.
On 15 June 2022, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe adopted the decision on the human rights situation in the is based made on the basis of the first report of the Secretary General prepared pursuant to the decision of the Committee "The human rights situation in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the City of Sevastopol, Ukraine" (of 11 May 2021 and initiated by Ukraine). This CMCE’s decision includes, in particular, provisions condemning Russia’s unprovoked armed aggression against Ukraine. It also urges Russia to immediately, completely and unconditionally withdraw its military formations and weapons from the territory of Ukraine.
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe has repeatedly addressed the issues of Crimea and certain areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine. Among its key documents are the following resolutions:
• “Recent developments in Ukraine: threats to the functioning of democratic institutions” 1988 (2014) of 9 April 2014
• “Reconsideration on substantive grounds of the previously ratified credentials of the Russian delegation” 1990 (2014) of 10 April 2014. The Russian delegation was deprived of: the right to vote in the Assembly, the right to be represented in PACE governing bodies, the right to participate in PACE election observation missions. The grounds for appealing credentials of the Russian delegation were the annexation of Crimea, further threats of force, and interference in the internal affairs of Ukraine.
• "Consideration of the cancellation of the previously approved credentials of the delegation of the Russian Federation (follow-up to paragraph 16 of Resolution 2034 (2015))" 2063 (2015) of 24 June 2015. The PACE recognized the presence of Russian troops on the territory of Ukraine, noted Russia's crucial role in supporting illegal military formations, including with armaments.
• Resolution 2067 (2015) and Recommendation 2076 (2015) “Missing persons during the conflict in Ukraine” of 25 June 2015, which state the fact of Russian aggression against Ukraine as a precondition for the problem of missing persons.
• “Political consequences of the Russian aggression in Ukraine” 2132 (2016) of 12 October 2016. The Assembly condemns the illegal elections to the Duma of the Russian Federation held on 18 September in the occupied Crimea and considers their results invalid.
• “Legal remedies for human rights violations on the Ukrainian territories outside the control of the Ukrainian authorities” 2133 (2016) of 12 October 2016. This Resolution is the first international instrument to recognize the Russian Federation as a party to the conflict and to use the term “effective control".
• “Ukrainian citizens held by the Russian Federation as political prisoners” 2231 (2018) of 28 June 2018.
• "The escalation of tensions around the Sea of Azov and the Kerch Strait and threats to European security" 2259 (2019) of 24 January 2019. The main requirements of the Resolution to the Russian Federation: immediate release of captured Ukrainian sailors; use international legal and diplomatic opportunities to resolve and de-escalate the conflict; to ensure freedom of passage through the Sea of Azov and the Kerch Strait.
• “Human rights violations committed against Crimean Tatars in Crimea” 2387 (2021) of 23 June 2021.
On 16 March 2022, the CMCE adopted historic decision to exclude Russia from the Council of Europe. It also includes Russia's withdrawal from the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (European Convention on Human Rights), for the implementation of which the European Court of Human Rights was created. At the same time, Russia bears legal responsibility for the implementation of decisions of the European Court of Human Rights, adopted before its exclusion from the Council of Europe.
Since the beginning of the occupation of the peninsula, the UNESCO Executive Board has adopted thirteen decisions "Monitoring the situation in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea (Ukraine)", which allowed to ensure the issue of the Russian-occupied Crimea in the list of priority issues on the agenda of this governing body. It also allowed for establishment of the comprehensive UNESCO monitoring mechanism on the human rights situation in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol within the areas of responsibility of this Organisation.
At the initiative of the Ukrainian side, the Director-General of UNESCO regularly holds information meetings on human rights issues in the occupied Crimea with the participation of a wide range of permanent representatives of UNESCO member states, representatives of international and non-governmental partner organisations. As of July 2022, thirteen information meetings have been held. During the events, detailed information on human rights violations on the peninsula in the areas of national minority rights, including education and cultural needs, preservation of cultural heritage, the rights of journalists, religious communities, etc. is provided.
EU and US sanctions
Among the international partners that provide support to Ukraine, the USA with its most powerful package of restrictive measures against the Russian Federation occupies a special place.
In March 2014, the US President signed the Executive Orders 13660, 13661 and 13662 that imposed sanctions on individuals and legal entities of Russia and Ukraine, whose actions led to violation of sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, and contributed to the Russian temporary occupation and subsequent attempted annexation of Crimea. In December 2014, by the Executive Order 13685 economic activity of US citizens and companies in Crimea was prohibited.
Later further individuals and legal entities were included into the sanctions lists. In this regard, a number of US regulatory acts should be noted.
On 2 August 2017, President Tramp signed “Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act” (CAATSA), the adopted by Congress. It is aimed at supporting sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, as well as at codification and strengthening of sanctions against the Russian Federation. The law defines the policy of the United States to support the Government of Ukraine in restoring sovereignty and territorial integrity, condemning and opposing all destabilizing efforts of the Russian government in Ukraine in violation of its [Russia's] international obligations, as well as non-recognition of the illegal annexation of Crimea by the Russian government or rejection of any part of the territory of Ukraine with the use of military force.
The law stipulates that the US President must continue to maintain unity with European and other key partners on the issue of implementing sanctions against the Russian Federation.
On 15 March 2019, the US Treasury Department introduced the additional package of sanctions in response to the Russian aggression, including the act of aggression against Ukrainian ships near the Kerch Strait.
On 29 January 2020, the US, in coordination with the EU and Canada, introduced additional sanctions against 8 persons and 1 Russian company for their illegal activity in Crimea.
It should be noted that the updated "Charter on the Ukraine-USA Strategic Partnership", signed by Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Kuleba and US Secretary of State Blinken on 10 November 2021, clearly states that the USA does not and will never recognize the attempted annexation of Crimea by Russia. The Charter furthermore enshrines the intention of Washington, together with Ukraine, to hold Russia accountable for the aggression and violations of international law, including the seizure and attempted annexation of the Ukrainian Crimea.
In March 2014, the European Union for the first time introduced personal sanctions for the actions that undermine the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. This sanctions list, which is common to Crimea, Donbas and the large-scale aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine, was repeatedly supplemented during the years 2014-2022. As of the beginning of July 2022, the EU personal sanctions regime has been extended to about 1,200 individuals and 98 legal entities. It foresees freezing assets and limiting the right to enter and move through the territory of EU Member States.
In June 2014, with the aim of ending trade, tourism and investment cooperation with the temporarily occupied Crimea, the EU introduced the "Crimean" package of economic sanctions, which limited the import of goods produced in Crimea, prohibited investments in Crimea's infrastructure, export of technologies, etc. The package has also been expanded several times in recent years, and its validity has been extended.
As for today, the EU economic sanctions related to Crimea include a ban on:
• import into the EU of products produced in Crimea or Sevastopol;
• investments in Crimea and Sevastopol, acquisition of real estate in Crimea by European or EU-registered companies, financing of Crimean companies or provision of relevant services to them;
• tourist services in Crimea or Sevastopol, in particular the entry of European cruise ships into all ports of the Crimean Peninsula, except in emergency situations;
• supplies of certain goods and technologies to Crimean companies or for use in the transport, telecommunications and energy sectors of Crimea, as well as in the sector of exploration, production and processing of oil, gas and mineral resources;
• provision of technical assistance, construction and engineering services related to the infrastructure of the above-mentioned sectors.