BRUSSELS, March 12. /TASS/. Russia's envoy to NATO said on Thursday the alliance’s member states and partner nations had not contested Russia’s remarks that Crimea’s referendum on joining Russia a year ago complied with international law.
Alexander Grushko, who met ambassadors from the 50-nation Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC) on Wednesday, said: "No-one at the meeting challenged our statements that Crimea's vote was in compliance with international law."Conflict in Ukraine and the one-year anniversary of Crimea’s reunification with Russia featured high on the agenda at the NATO headquarters meeting, bringing together ambassadors from the 28 NATO allies and 22 other countries from Europe and central Asia.
"I noticed a press release published by NATO after the meeting, saying that all EAPC members had allegedly condemned the ‘annexation’ of Crimea," Grushko said, noting that such announcements "looked strange, to say the least", considering that "far from all council members spoke at the meeting, and no-one at all during the meeting challenged our statements that Crimeans’ vote was in compliance with international law."
Established in 1997 as successor to the North Atlantic Cooperation Council, the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council is a multilateral forum for consultation and co-operation among the allied nations and their partners. EAPC members regularly exchange views on current political and security-related issues.
Crimea, where most residents are ethnic Russians, refused to recognise the legitimacy of authorities brought to power amid riots during a coup in Ukraine in February 2014.
In mid-March last year, the Black Sea peninsula rejoined Russia following a referendum. More than 82% of the electorate took part in the vote. Over 96% backed splitting from Ukraine and spoke in favour of reuniting with Russia.
Results of the referendum were celebrated by many Crimeans but the vote was widely criticised by Western leaders and at the United Nations.