Top officials from 46 countries and blocs are taking part in a summit to discuss the issue of Russia's Crimea's annexation in 2014.

Top officials from 46 countries and blocs are taking part in a summit to discuss the issue of Russia's Crimea annexation in 2014.
Top officials from 46 countries and blocs are taking part in a summit to discuss the issue of Russia's Crimea annexation in 2014. (AP)

Ukraine's president has vowed to do all he can to bring back the peninsula of Crimea, annexed by Russia seven years ago, and urged international allies to support the effort.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy spoke at the Crimean Platform summit in Kiev on Monday, called by Ukraine to build up pressure on Russia over the 2014 annexation that has been denounced as illegal by most of the world. Russia's relations with the West have sunk to post-Cold War lows as a result.

In his opening remarks, Zelenskyy promised to "do everything possible to return Crimea, so that Crimea, together with Ukraine, becomes part of Europe.”

“For this we will use all possible political, legal and first and foremost diplomatic means," Zelenskyy said, adding that Kiev needs “effective support at the international level.”

Top officials from 46 countries and blocs took part in the summit in person or online, including from the United States, the European Union and Turkey. 

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov denounced the summit as an “anti-Russian event.”

Zelenskyy charged that Russia has turned Crimea into a “military base" and "a foothold for Russia to boost its influence on the Black Sea region.” He said Moscow has tripled its military presence in Crimea.

Turkey supports Ukraine's territorial integrity

Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said in his remarks that the international community should speak in one voice against Crimea’s annexation.

Ankara strongly supports the "territorial integrity" of Ukraine. 

"Unfortunately, the international system, including the UN mechanism, is not well designed to resolve Crimea problem ... and this summit marks a start to achieving a lasting solution," Cavusoglu said.

READ MORE: How Putin continues Stalinist push to Russify, militarise Crimea

In April, Russia increased troops near its borders with Ukraine, including in Crimea, eliciting international outrage.

On June 23, Russia said one of its warships in the Black Sea fired warning shots and a warplane dropped bombs in the path of the HMS Defender, a British Royal Navy destroyer, to chase it away from an area near Crimea that Moscow claims as its territorial waters. 

Britain, which like most other nations didn’t recognise the annexation of Crimea, insisted the Defender wasn’t fired upon and said it was sailing in Ukrainian waters.

All 30 NATO member states were represented at the summit.

“Occupation of Crimea casts doubts on the effectiveness of the entire international security system,” Ukraine's president said. 

“Without restoring the trust in it, not a single state can be sure that it wouldn't become the next victim of occupation.”

Leaders of the Crimean Tatar community attended the summit.

The summit was opened by a Ukrainian singer of Crimean Tatar descent, Susana Dzhamaladinova, known as Jamala

“We need to show the world that ethnocide of Crimean Tatars continues in Crimea,”Jamala told The Associated Press. 

“People in the world should know that we're barred from congregating even for honouring our ancestors.”

Ethnic Russians, who form a majority of Crimea’s 2.3 million people, widely supported the Russian annexation, but Crimean Tatars, who accounted for nearly 15 percent, opposed it. An estimated 30,000 Crimean Tatars have fled Crimea since 2014.

Some who stayed have faced a crackdown by Russian authorities, who banned the Crimean Tatars’ main representative body and some religious groups.

About 80 Crimean Tatars have been convicted and 15 activists have gone missing, according to Amnesty International.

"Ukraine will never be alone in that Crimea is Ukraine," EU Council President Charles Michel said. "Unfortunately, Russia continues to act in ways that multiply the negative impact of the annexation. The continued militarisation of the peninsula heavily affects the security situation in the Black Sea region."

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Source: TRTWorld and agencies