The European Union has said it will stick to its policy of not recognizing Russia's annexation of Crimea and expressed concern over what it said was a military buildup on the peninsula.
EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said in a March 16 statement that the 28-member bloc "remains firmly committed to Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity."
Mogherini's statement came on the anniversary of a March 16 referendum that Russia used as the main justification for its annexation of Crimea, which has been denounced as illegal by Kyiv, the EU, the United States, and many other nations.
"The European Union does not recognize and continues to condemn this act of violation of international law," Mogherini said.
She said the EU "will remain committed to fully implement its nonrecognition policy, including through restrictive measures."
"The EU reaffirms its deep concern at the continuous military buildup and deterioration of the human rights situation in the Crimean peninsula, including the denial of free speech and the persecution of persons belonging to minorities," she said.
With reporting by Reuters