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Western leaders warn Russia against new annexations

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KYIV: Western leaders on Tuesday warned Russia against annexing other parts of Ukrainian territory after Crimea amid rumours Russia is planning to do so in various occupied areas, while Washington warned that Russia could attack Ukrainian government facilities in the coming days as Moscow said it would show “no mercy” over an assassination it has blamed on Ukraine.

The leaders sent video addresses to the Crimea Platform conference in Kyiv which was attended in person by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and his Polish counterpart Andrzej Duda.

The Crimean peninsula was seized and annexed by Russia in 2014. Since February, Moscow has been using Crimea as a staging post for att­acks on Ukraine as well as “a testing ground for the brutal methods Russia is now applying across the other occupied parts of Ukraine,” Euro­pean Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told the conference.

“Putin is planning to do to parts of Ukraine, indeed, to all of Ukraine, what he’s done to Crimea,” British PM Boris Johnson said. “He is planning more annexations and more sham referendums, so it has never been more important to stand together.”

UN concerned Russia preparing ‘unlawful’ prisoner of war trials

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Western leaders “condemn Russia’s attempts to forcefully integrate parts of Ukrainian territory. Any sham referenda or other attempts to alter the status of parts of Ukrainian territory will never be recognised. Such steps preclude any negotiations.”

The 2014 annexation of Crimea led to a “clear deterioration of the humanitarian situation and of human rights in the peninsula,” French President Emmanuel Macron told the participants in a video address.

Six months after the conflict eru­pted, “Our determination has not chan­ged and we are ready to maintain this effort for the long term,” Macron said.

The United Nations also voiced alarm on Tuesday at reports that Rus­sia is preparing to prosecute Ukra­inian prisoners of war (PoWs) under conditions that could amount to war crimes. The UN human rights office said it was concerned by images and footage appearing to show metal cages being built in the philharmonic hall in the shattered Ukrainian city of Mariupol, apparently to hold PoWs during proceedings.

Published in Dawn, August 24th, 2022

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