Speaking on Monday at the Crimean Platform, a summit in Kiev designed to keep international attention on Russia’s annexation in 2014, Zelenskyy said Ukraine will use “all political, legal and above all diplomatic possible ”to pursue its objective.
Russia’s seizure of Crimea was denounced as illegal by most countries around the world and brought Moscow’s relations with the West down to post-Cold War lows in the years that followed.
“I will personally do all I can to make Crimea part of Europe with Ukraine,” Zelenskyy said.
He told the forum that Kiev needed “effective international support” on the issue.
Senior officials from 46 countries and blocs attended the summit, including the United States, the European Union and Turkey.
All 30 member states of the NATO Transatlantic Security Alliance were represented.
Senior Western officials relayed messages of support to Ukraine.
“Ukraine will never be alone as Crimea is Ukraine,” said EU Council President Charles Michel.
“Unfortunately, Russia continues to act in such a way as to multiply the negative impact of annexation,” he added.
“The continued militarization of the peninsula strongly affects the security situation in the Black Sea region. “
But Moscow was quick to denounce the rally, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov calling it “an anti-Russian event”.
“Victim of occupation”
Zelenskyy accused Russia of having made Crimea a “military base” and “a fulcrum for Russia in order to strengthen its influence over the Black Sea region”.
He said Moscow had tripled its military presence in Crimea.
In April, Russia increased its troops near its borders with Ukraine, including in Crimea, sparking international outrage.
Two months later, on June 23, Russia declared that one of its warships in the Black Sea had fired warning shots and that a warplane had dropped bombs on the way to HMS Defender, a destroyer of the British Royal Navy, to drive it out of an area near Crimea which Moscow claims its territorial waters.
The UK, which like most other countries did not recognize the annexation of Crimea, insisted the Defender was not fired and said it was sailing in Ukrainian waters.
Summit participants signed a joint declaration, which, Zelenskyy said in his closing remarks, “clearly states Russia’s non-recognition of the illegal annexation of Crimea and contains commitments to consider imposing sanctions. additional policies and diplomats to Russia in the event of further aggression. ”.
“The occupation of Crimea casts doubts on the effectiveness of the entire international security system,” he said.
“Without restoring its confidence, no state can be sure that it will not become the next victim of the occupation.
Separately, on Monday, Peskov criticized German Chancellor Angela Merkel for her recent remarks on the ongoing conflict in Ukraine’s Donetsk and Lugansk regions.
Government forces have been fighting Russian-backed separatists in those areas since April 2014, after rebels seized a swath of territory.
Peskov strongly rejected Merkel’s claims on Sunday that Russia was “intensely involved” in the conflict.
“Russia has no connection with the parties to the conflict,” he said.
Peskov stressed that Russia was not on the list of parties to the conflict in the peace plan negotiated by Germany and France.