and rightly so.

Primer: 75 years since the US refusal to accept annexation of ...

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday the United States would never recognize Russia’s annexation in 2014 of Ukraine’s Crimea. “As we did in the Welles Declaration in 1940, the United States reaffirms as policy its refusal to recognize the Kremlin’s claim of sovereignty over territory seized by force in contravention of international law … [T]he United States rejects Russia’s attempted annexation of Crimea and pledges to maintain this policy until Ukraine’s territorial integrity is restored,” Pompeo said in a statement.

The remarks will almost certainly dispel any ambiguity over whether the Trump administration was planning to recognize Moscow’s annexation of Crimea, a Ukrainian territory with close cultural and historic relations with Russia. Pompeo rooted his remarks in the Welles Declaration, which refused to recognize the then-Soviet Union’s invasion of the Baltic states, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. The declaration, named for Sumner Welles, the U.S. diplomat who crafted it, remained a cornerstone of U.S. policy toward the Soviet Union for the next five decades, and empowered Baltic citizens who wished for independence from the Kremlin.

The Soviet invasion of the Baltic states came after the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, the 1939 nonaggression accord between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany. Following that agreement, the Soviets gained influence in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, three countries that the Soviets feared Germany would use as a staging ground for an invasion of the USSR. At first, the Soviet Union only signed mutual-assistance pacts with the three countries, but a year after those accords were signed, Stalin annexed the Baltic states. (Hitler ultimately betrayed Stalin, who joined the Allied nations to defeat the Nazis.) More here.

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Office of the Spokesperson
For Immediate Release
STATEMENT BY SECRETARY POMPEO
July 24, 2018

Crimea Declaration

Russia, through its 2014 invasion of Ukraine and its attempted annexation of Crimea, sought to undermine a bedrock international principle shared by democratic states:  that no country can change the borders of another by force. The states of the world, including Russia, agreed to this principle in the United Nations Charter, pledging to refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any State.  This fundamental principle — which was reaffirmed in the Helsinki Final Act — constitutes one of the foundations upon which our shared security and safety rests.

As we did in the Welles Declaration in 1940, the United States reaffirms as policy its refusal to recognize the Kremlin’s claims of sovereignty over territory seized by force in contravention of international law.  In concert with allies, partners, and the international community, the United States rejects Russia’s attempted annexation of Crimea and pledges to maintain this policy until Ukraine’s territorial integrity is restored.

The United States calls on Russia to respect the principles to which it has long claimed to adhere and to end its occupation of Crimea.  As democratic states seek to build a free, just, and prosperous world, we must uphold our commitment to the international principle of sovereign equality and respect the territorial integrity of other states.  Through its actions, Russia, has acted in a manner unworthy of a great nation and has chosen to isolate itself from the international community.

Denise Simon