Ukraine condemns Slovak minister’s statement on Russian sanctions and failure to regain Crimea

20 January 2022, 05:41 PM

The statement by a top Slovak government official – that Russia “will never return” Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula – is unacceptable, Ukrainian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Oleg Nikolenko told the NV weekly news magazine in a comment on Jan. 19.

Earlier, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Economy of Slovakia Richard Sulik, in an interview with the Slovak newspaper Pravda, said that “the Russians will never return Crimea.”

He added that sanctions imposed on Russia “harm” the Slovak economy, in particular some Slovak exporters, and Ukraine must “look forward and build relationships.”

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Nikolenko shot back that Sulik’s statements cast doubt on Ukraine’s territorial integrity. He stressed that the minister’s words contradict the official position of Slovakia and “do not contribute to the development of friendly relations between the two countries.”

“It’s a shame that a member of the government of a friendly state, with which we have a high level of relations, demonstrates such a distorted perception of reality of Crimea’s ownership and understanding of the sanctions imposed on Russia,” the spokesperson said.

“Talks about returning to business as usual with Russia, which has grossly violated international law, seized Crimea by force, and launched armed aggression in the Donbas, only promotes impunity and encourages Russia to further aggression,” he said.

Nikolenko added that Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry demands that the Slovak minister publically retract his statement.

Russia invaded and started to occupy Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in March 2014.

On March 16, the occupational authorities organized an illegal, sham referendum, held under the oversight of armed Russian soldiers, which was reportedly subject to multiple irregularities. The Russian occupying forces declared that 96.77 percent of Crimeans had voted favor of joining Russia. The Ukrainian government was not allowed to verify this claim.

An agreement on the accession of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol to Russia was signed in the Kremlin on March 18.

Most world nations have not recognized the Kremlin’s claim to have annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula, and some have applied economic sanctions against Russia.

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