GENEVA, November 28. /TASS/. Western powers regret that they did not have enough time to build a NATO naval base in Crimea before the 2014 referendum, when the Crimean people expressed their desire to become of Russia, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stated on Wednesday after talks with his Swiss counterpart Ignazio Cassis.
"I understand that some of our Western colleagues deeply regret that they failed to build a NATO naval base in Crimea, but there’s nothing to be done: such is the course of history, such is the will of the Crimean people," Lavrov stressed.
He noted that the Crimean referendum took place in full accordance with the principle of national self-determination. Foreign observers monitored the referendum process, although they did not represent official governments. "However, they were the people that genuinely wanted to know what is going on there, and they declared the self-determination process to be lawful, and the Crimean people had chosen the path of reuniting with Russia," the Russian foreign minister noted.
"Consequently, the Kerch Strait became part of Russia’s territorial waters," Lavrov stated.
After the coup in Ukraine in February 2014, officials in Crimea and Sevastopol organized a referendum, in which 96.77% of Crimeans and 95.6% of Sevastopol voters chose to secede from Ukraine and join Russia. Eighty percent of the voting population participated in the referendum. The Russian president signed the reunification deals on March 18, 2014, which the Federation Council (upper house of the Russian parliament) ratified on March 21. Despite the referendum results, Kiev refused to recognize Crimea as part of Russia.