I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union and its Member States.
The Candidate Countries the Republic of North Macedonia*, Montenegro* and Albania*, as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova and Georgia, align themselves with this statement.
The European Union remains steadfast in its commitment to Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders.
The European Union reiterates that it does not recognise the illegal annexation of Ukraine’s Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the City of Sevastopol by the Russian Federation and continues to condemn this violation of international law. It remains a direct challenge to international security, with grave implications for the international legal order that protects the territorial integrity, unity and sovereignty of all States.
The European Union remains committed to fully implementing its non-recognition policy, including through restrictive measures. The European Union calls again on UN Member States to consider similar non-recognition measures in line with the UN General Assembly Resolution 68/262.
The increasing militarisation of the peninsula continues to impact negatively the security situation in the Black Sea region. The EU condemns that Russia, in violation of international humanitarian law, imposes automatically Russian citizenship on Crimean residents as well as conscripts them in the armed forces of the Russian Federation.
Russia's violations of international law have led to a dangerous increase in tensions at the Kerch Strait and the Sea of Azov. The unjustified use of force by Russia against Ukraine on 25 November 2018 is a reminder of the negative effects of the illegal annexation of the Crimean peninsula on regional stability.
The European Union noted the release of unlawfully detained Ukrainian seamen and the return to Ukraine of the three vessels seized a year ago in the Black Sea near the Kerch Strait. The EU has repeatedly stressed that Russia needs to comply with the order of the International Tribunal of the Law of the Sea of 25 May 2019 and to return the seized vessels to Ukraine. However, we were deeply disappointed to read reports about the dismantled state in which the vessels were returned to their legitimate owner.
The European Union condemns the construction of the Kerch Bridge without Ukraine's consent which constitutes a further violation of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity. The EU expects Russia to ensure unhindered and free passage of all ships through the Kerch Strait to and from the Azov Sea, in accordance with international law. The illegal restrictions to such passage have negative economic consequences for Ukraine's ports in the Azov Sea and the whole region.
* The Republic of North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Albania continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.