US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has accused Russia of “occupying” the Crimean Peninsula, saying Washington “rejects” the move by Moscow.
“In concert with allies, partners and the international community, the United States rejects Russia’s attempted annexation of Crimea and pledges to maintain this policy until Ukraine’s territorial integrity is restored,” the top American diplomat said in a statement on Wednesday, a few hours prior to his appearance before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Crimea — then territory of Ukraine — voted in a referendum to join Russia on March 17, 2014. In the referendum, which was held a month after the overthrow of the then-president Viktor Yanukovych, 96.8 percent of participants voted in favor of unification with Russia.
At about the same time, an armed conflict broke out in the eastern regions of Ukraine when Kiev launched military operations to quell pro-Russia protests there….