WASHINGTON (QHA) -

A statement by Assistant Secretary and Department Spokesperson John Kirby, reaffirming the US’s commitment to a united and sovereign Ukraine and condemning Russia’s occupation of Crimea has been published on the website of the US Department of State.

As Russia’s occupation of Crimea enters its third year, Assistant Secretary and Department Spokesperson John Kirby published a statement on the website of the US Department of State, reaffirming the United States’ commitment to a united and sovereign Ukraine and condemning Russia’s occupation of Crimea.

“The United States does not recognize Russia’s "referendum” of March 16, 2014 or its attempted annexation of Crimea, which violates international law,” says the statement.

John Kirby emphasized that occupation “authorities” suppress dissent and where ethnic and religious minorities - especially Crimean Tatars and ethnic Ukrainians - face serious and ongoing repression. According to Kirby, nongovernmental organizations and independent media are still being silenced or driven out.

“Nongovernmental organizations and independent media are still being silenced or driven out, and international observers are still denied access to the peninsula,” the statement says.

Kirby reaffirmed the US’s commitment to keep the sanctions against Russia in place.

“We will not accept the redrawing of borders by force in the 21st century. Sanctions related to Crimea will remain in place as long as the occupation continues. We again call on Russia to end that occupation and return Crimea to Ukraine,” the statement emphasizes.

It was reported earlier that Russia illegally annexed Crimea and held a referendum on the status of the peninsula on March 16, 2014. Based on the results of the referendum, Crimea was integrated into Russia and given a status of a federal district. Ukraine, the EU and the US did not  recognize the referendum’s results.

QHA