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Ukraine's Foreign Minister Says Russia-Annexed Crimea's 'De-Occupation Is Inevitable'

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba (file photo)
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba (file photo)

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba says Russia's departure from the Black Sea Crimea Peninsula, which it annexed in 2014, is "inevitable."

In an interview with RFE/RL, Kuleba said that Crimea's "de-occupation" won't be stopped, even by the controversial constitutional amendments -- one of which reiterates the "inviolability of Russian borders" -- approved in a vote in Russia on July 1.

"We insist that this [annexation] is temporary, that an illegal occupation is taking place, emphasizing that this is a temporary phenomenon, it is illegal, and under international law, this is an act of occupation," Kuleba said.

He added that it was very unlikely Russia will agree to take part in talks directly focusing on Crimea's de-occupation, so the notion of the peninsula returning to Ukrainian hands must be gradually included to the agenda by Ukraine and the international community.

"Russia, as the occupying power, should strictly meet its obligations, in accordance with international law.... Namely, they should not violate human rights in Crimea, they should not militarize Crimea, they should not draft local Crimean youth to the Russian Army, they should not block any media outlet expressing thoughts that differ from those of the Kremlin," he said.

"One must understand that if Russia fulfills all these obligations -- it would be a very serious contribution to de-occupation of the peninsula," Kuleba added, stressing that the international community should help bring such issues into focus when dealing with Russia.

Kuleba also said that after becoming a member of NATO's Enhanced Opportunities Partner program last month, Ukraine will take part in core military exercises with the alliance's troops and have more access to intelligence data on developments in Crimea, which are also crucial elements for the peninsula's de-occupation.

RFE/RL has been declared an "undesirable organization" by the Russian government.

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