Group of Seven slams Russia annexation of Crimea, 7 years on

BERLIN (AP) — The Group of Seven major industrialized countries on Thursday issued a strong condemnation of what it called Russia’s ongoing “occupation” of the Crimean Peninsula, seven years after Moscow annexed it from Ukraine.

The foreign ministers of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the U.S. said in a joint statement that Russia’s actions continue to “undermine Ukraine’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence.”

“We unequivocally denounce Russia’s temporary occupation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the City of Sevastopol,” the seven countries said. “Russia’s attempts to legitimize it are not, and will not, be recognized.”

They accused Russia of human rights abuses on the peninsula and called for international monitors to be given access there.

Moscow has argued that Crimea was incorporated after the vast majority of local residents voted for joining Russia, even though most of the world rejected the referendum as illegitimate.

The G-7 statement also cited Russia’s role in the ongoing conflict between pro-Moscow separatists and the government in eastern Ukraine.

“We call on the Russian Federation to stop fueling the conflict by providing financial and military support to the armed formations it backs in eastern Ukraine, as well as by granting Russian citizenship to hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian citizens,” they said.

The G-7 called for a diplomatic solution to the conflict that implements a series of agreements forged in Belarusian capital Minsk.

Russia was suspended from the Group of Eight, as it then was, in 2014, over its actions in Ukraine.

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