Remarks at a UN Arria-Format Meeting on Crimea and Human Rights

Ambassador Cherith Norman Chalet
Acting Deputy Permanent Representative
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
March 6, 2020


Thank you, Deputy Foreign Minister. The United States is pleased to join Estonia and other partners in co-hosting this important meeting to highlight Russia and its proxies’ ongoing abuses and violations of fundamental freedoms in Crimea. We thank the briefers for their statements about conditions in Crimea. As we have affirmed numerous times, including Secretary Pompeo as recently as February 26, Crimea is part of Ukraine. The United States calls on Russia to end its occupation of Crimea. We do not and will not ever recognize Russia’s attempt to annex it.

Russia’s occupation of Crimea translates into a grim reality for many Ukrainians living on the peninsula. Occupation authorities have severely restricted fundamental freedoms, including of expression, association, and peaceful assembly. Nearly all independent media and civil society have had to flee the peninsula, and those that remain operate at great risk to their safety and liberty. Occupation authorities have also severely restricted religious freedom, closed schools teaching in Ukrainian and Crimean Tatar, raided homes and mosques, seized property of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, and deemed the Crimean Tatar representative body criminal. There are also credible allegations of widespread impunity for allegations of enforced disappearances and torture by security services.

The United States is determined to hold Russia accountable for its occupation of Crimea, including its repressive actions. Since 2014, successive rounds of sanctions have targeted those who play leadership roles in the occupation authority, including local heads of the agencies spearheading the crackdown on dissent. We have imposed sanctions on specific law enforcement actors, for example, known to be responsible for the torture of Crimean Tatar activists. We urge other countries to impose similar restrictions.

We reiterate our call for Russia to allow UN and OSCE monitors access to the peninsula to observe and document conditions there, especially given that the press freedom environment is now rated by Freedom House as one of the most restrictive in the world. Clearly Russia and its proxies are attempting to hide realities from the eyes of the world.

The United States affirms our unwavering support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Thank you.