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Fourth Anniversary of the Illegal Annexation of Crimea

Honourable senators, four years ago the international community witnessed a grave violation of international law, the illegal annexation of the Ukrainian territory of Crimea by the Russian Federation.

Today, Russia’s destabilizing presence within the region continues to defy international norms. Russia continues to fuel violent conflict in the east, known as the Donbass, through military and economic support, a conflict in which at least 10,090 people have been killed. Dissent across occupied territories is silenced through arbitrary arrests, detention and torture. In Crimea, the persecution of the Crimean Tartars, Ukrainians and others continues to intensify. Meanwhile, Russian warships continue to amass along the shores of the Black Sea.

Within the context of these realities, parliamentary engagement in advancing support for Ukraine and building stability within the region is crucial.

Earlier this month, the Ukraine-NATO Interparliamentary Council, representing 28 NATO member countries, met in Odessa, Ukraine, to mark this fourth anniversary, a sad one. Iryna Gerashchenko, First Deputy Speaker of the Ukrainian Verkhovna Rada, and I released as co-chairs a statement that said:

We remain firm in our support for Ukraine’s independence and territorial integrity, and convinced that the full implementation of the Minsk Agreements remains the best way forward in the occupied part of Donbas. We call for an urgent end to violations of the ceasefire, the provision of full and secure access to OSCE monitors, and rapid progress toward the release of hostages and political prisoners illegally detained in Russia and in the occupied regions.

Honourable senators, I urge you to join me in echoing these calls as we mark the fourth anniversary of the illegal annexation of Crimea. As President Putin retains control of Russia, let us remain consistent in the application of all the levers at our disposal to denounce and further discourage the Kremlin’s aggressive actions and policies. This includes the application of economic sanctions. Let us continue to call for the reunification of Ukrainian territory, lend our support and encourage the further Euro-Atlantic integration of Ukraine and, above all, speak for our values through NATO.