"Ukraine has always been viewed as important, but in 2014 turned into a strategic partner”, State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Latvia Andrejs Pildegovičs said at a meeting with Deputy Foreign Minister for European Integration Olena Zerkal at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine on 22 March.
Four years ago, on 18 March 2014, Russia took the final step to illegally occupy Crimea, a part of Ukraine’s sovereign territory that Russia had recognised as such in several international treaties. The Russian takeover comprised a series of equally illegal actions: from using disguised Russian elite troops to the hasty organisation – in breach of Ukrainian and international law – of an illegitimate “referendum”. President Putin initially claimed that those troops had no association with Russia, but then admitted that he had ordered the entire takeover in late February 2014. He later generously decorated Russian servicemen with medals for carrying out the occupation.