By Talha Yavuz
Kyiv, UKRAINE (AA) - On the seventh anniversary of the illegal annexation of Crimea, Ukraine called on the international community to put more political pressure and sanctions on Russia.
Feb. 26 is a “symbol of resistance” for Ukraine, Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry said in a written statement, citing the 2014 protests by Crimean Tatars in front of the Crimean Parliament.
The statement said that Russia violated international law by annexing Crimea in an illegal and fraudulent referendum, adding: "Russia has been systematically pressuring those who oppose the occupation since then."
Ukraine also called on the international community to increase political pressure and sanctions for Russia to withdraw from Crimea and release political prisoners.
On Facebook, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky said that seven years ago Crimeans held the biggest demonstration on Feb. 26 to support Ukraine’s territorial integrity.
"They took our hearts out 7 years ago. We will never forget who did this and who allowed it,” he wrote. "The heart of Ukraine must return. The Crimean peninsula must return.”
Russian forces entered the Crimean Peninsula in February 2014, with Russian President Vladimir Putin formally dividing the region into two separate federal subjects of the Russian Federation the following month.
Crimea's ethnic Tatars have faced persecution since Russia's 2014 takeover of the peninsula, a situation Turkey has decried.
Turkey and the US, as well as the UN General Assembly, view the annexation as illegal.