US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said the United States will “never recognise Russia’s annexation of Crimea” and that the US “will continue to insist that Ukraine‘s territorial integrity be restored.”

Pompeo said in a statement made on Wednesday that the US “upholds its commitment to the international principle of sovereign equality.”

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 statement by Pompeo read.

“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,” it continued.

“Through its actions, Russia has acted in a manner unworthy of a great nation and has chosen to isolate itself from the international community.” 

The statement was released shortly before Pompeo was to testify before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, where he is expected to face tough questioning about President Donald Trump’s summit with Russian leader Vladimir Putin on July 16.

Ukraine conflict

The US and Russia have disagreed on the status of Crimea since Russia annexed the peninsula in March 2014.

According to Russia, Crimea became Russian territory after a legitimate referendum in which the population of Crimea chose to become Russian.

The US, however, has always said the annexation of the peninsula was illegal.

Despite Crimea not being mentioned at a joint press conference held by the two leaders during the Helsinki summit, Putin said in an interview with US TV channel Fox News following the summit that he and Trump disagreed about Crimea’s status.

The annexation of Crimea followed a the ousting of pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovich after weeks of protests.

Following the annexation of Crimea, when pro-Russian separatists took over parts Donbass.

Since then, fighting has been going on in eastern Ukraine, where more than 13,000 people have died, including about 3,000 civilians.

The so-called Minsk agreements – brokered by Germany and France and signed by Russia and Ukraine in 2015 – have slowed the conflict, but sporadic fighting continues.

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