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NATO calls on Russia to return Crimea to Ukraine

BRUSSELS, March 18 (KUNA) -- NATO Monday reiterated its condemnation of the annexation of Crimea by Russia five years ago saying it is a "serious breach of international law and a major challenge to Euro-Atlantic security." "We strongly condemn this act, which we do not and will not recognise. We call on Russia to return control of Crimea to Ukraine. We reiterate our full support for Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognised borders and territorial waters," NATO said in a statement.
It voiced "deep concern by the human rights abuses and violations being carried out by the Russian de-facto authorities in illegally annexed Crimea against Ukrainians, the Crimean Tatars, and members of other local communities." It noted that despite the 2017 Order of the International Court of Justice, the Mejlis, the Crimean Tatars' self-governing body, remains under persecution and is banned in its homeland.
The Alliance also condemned "Russia's ongoing and wide-ranging military build-up in Crimea, and are concerned by Russia's efforts and stated plans for further military build-up in the Black Sea region." (end) nk.mt