Finland criticises Russia on 5th anniversary of Crimea invasion

The strongly worded statement criticises Russia's human rights record in the region, and supports continued sanctions against Russia.

Map of the region showing Crimea / Credit: Google Maps

The Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs has issued a strongly-worded rebuke of Russia, reaffirming support for sanctions and criticising the country’s human rights record.

The statement comes on the fifth anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and illegal annexation of Crimea.

“Finland condemns Russia’s actions” reads the statement, which has also been published in Russian and Ukrainian, and re-affirms Finland’s position alongside other EU countries of supporting Ukraine’s independence, and territorial integrity.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs also calls on Russia and Ukraine to make sure the situation in the Sea of Azov doesn’t escalate any further. Previously, the Finns said they were “deeply concerned” after an incident in the Kerch Strait which resulted in Russian military forces detaining 24 Ukrainian Navy personnel.

“The 24 Ukrainian crew members, detained by Russia, should be released without delay. The increasing militarisation of Crimea further aggravates the tense security situation in the Black Sea region” says the official statement.

Finland also criticises the “weakening human rights situation” in Crimea, and calls Russian authorities to allow international organisations to have access to some 70 detained civilians.

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Sanctions intrigue over senior Russian official 

The official statement comes after a US government-funded media outlet reported that Finland had blocked the addition of a senior Russian official on a new sanctions list.

The European Union, Canada and USA approved a new round of sanctions last week, targeting a number of Russian businesses and officials in connection with the invasion of Crimea and Russia’s ongoing interference in Ukraine.

But Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty says Finnish diplomats objected to one particular Russian general being included among other officials facing travel bans.

General Gennady Medvedev is said to be a key partner with Finnish officials when it comes to day-to-day relationships over the 1300km border between the two countries.

Finnish Foreign Minister Timo Soini has refused to comment on the report, either to confirm or deny its veracity.