The United States has announced that it does not recognize the legitimacy, and will not recognize the outcome, of Russian Duma elections scheduled on September 18 in Crimea.
"Our position on Crimea is clear: the peninsula remains an integral part of Ukraine. Crimea-related sanctions against Russia will remain until Russia returns control of Crimea to Ukraine," U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby said on September 16.
"We also continue to be deeply concerned about the humanitarian situation in Crimea, including the status of the ethnic Tatar community and widespread reports of missing persons and human rights abuses," he said.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko earlier in the day accused Russia of transforming Crimea into a "concentration camp."
Russian President Vladimir retorted in kind later at a forum in Kyrgyzstan, declaring that Russia did not annex the Ukrainian peninsula in 2014, but rather "reunified" it with Russia.
With reporting by TASS and Interfax