SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Hello, everyone.  Thank you, President Zelenskyy, for convening us for the third Crimea Platform Summit.

We meet at the 18-month mark of Russia’s brutal full-scale war against Ukraine.  For 18 months, the Ukrainian people have endured a constant assault against their lives and their country’s future.  They’ve seen their homes, their schools, their houses of worship destroyed.  They’ve suffered atrocities, horrific human loss.

And over those same 18 months, the Ukrainian people have demonstrated extraordinary resilience and resolve.  Governments and people around the world – the United States proudly among them – have rallied to Ukraine’s side in defense of the principles at the heart of the United Nations Charter: sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity.

Russia’s aggression against Ukraine began when President Putin invaded Crimea and tried to redraw Ukraine’s borders by force in 2014.  Russia militarized the peninsula, seized the parliament, orchestrated a sham referendum – the blueprint for its attempted annexations in eastern and southern Ukraine last year.

And since then, the Kremlin has subjected Crimeans to a campaign of brutalization and repression.  It has detained, tortured, and disappeared journalists, activists, religious and political leaders.  It’s destroyed independent media outlets, wielded pro-Russia propaganda to turn neighbor against neighbor, and attempted to militarize Ukrainian children at Crimean so-called summer camps.

Moscow continues to target Crimean Tatars – raiding mosques and homes, criminalizing peaceful groups, detaining civic activists in Russian prison colonies, conscripting young and old to fight their own homeland.

Crimea is Ukraine.  We do not – we will not – recognize Russia’s illegal attempted annexation.

The international community will continue to work through the Crimea Platform to support the restoration of Ukrainian control over all its territory, including Crimea; to shine a spotlight on Russia’s abuses in Crimea; to address the security risks and economic harm caused by Russia’s invasion and occupation; to call for the release of all political prisoners held by Russia.

That includes Crimean Tatar Deputy Mejlis head Nariman Dzhelyal – sentenced to 17 years of hard labor after participating in the inaugural summit of the Crimea Platform.

And we, together with countries around the world, will continue to work to bring about a just and lasting peace – one that upholds the principles at the heart of the UN Charter.

Tomorrow is also, of course, Ukraine’s Independence Day – a day of strength, of pride.  Thirty-two years ago, the Rada declared, and Ukrainians in every region affirmed, and I quote:  “The territory of Ukraine is indivisible and inviolable.”

That’s the principle that brings us together today.  And that’s what we’ll keep defending together.

Thank you.  Slava Ukraini.

U.S. Department of State

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