Washington supports Ukraine’s position regarding the immediate release of Ukrainian citizens who were detained in the occupied Crimea and who, according to a recent decision by a Moscow court, continue to be behind the bars.
U.S. State Department Press Office Director Jeff Rathke said this on Monday in response to the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry’s call to condemn this decision, an Ukrinform correspondent reported.
“The United States does not recognize the attempted annexation of Crimea by Russia, and so naturally we would oppose any such steps [on extending the detention of Ukrainian citizens”, he said, answering the question of an Ukrinform correspondent.
He noted that the United States supports the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine and would call on “any Ukrainian citizens who were detained in Crimea during Russia’s invasion to be released.”
In this regard, Rathke stressed the need for the implementation of the Minsk agreements by the Russian side and pro-Russian militants. He drew particular attention to the cases of Oleh Sentsov and Nadiya Savchenko, confirming that the State Department believes that they are hostages, who are kept in Russia.
“We understand that Ms. Savchenko is suffering health problems as a result of her detention,” he added.
In addition, the State Department spokesman called on Russia to use its leverage and influence with the separatists that it supports to implement the commitments of the Minsk agreements immediately, including returning control of the international border to Ukraine and working towards a peaceful resolution.
At the same time, Rathke described the recent prisoner exchange between Ukrainian forces and the Russia-backed separatists as “a positive step” that is also “an opportunity to advance the prospects for a lasting political solution consistent with the Minsk agreements.”