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Putin to visit Russian-occupied Crimea


Putin to visit Russian-occupied Crimea

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Photo: Sputnik/Alexei Druzhinin/Kremlin via REUTERS

Russia President Vladimir Putin will visit the Russian-occupied territory of Crimea today to attend the keel-laying ceremony of warships, a formal recognition of the initiation of a ship’s construction.

The trip comes as a group of Russian lawmakers are pushing an expanded extremism bill targeting domestic criticism of Russia’s annexation of Crimea, which is disputed by Kyiv. The bill would supplement current federal laws which consider any violation of Russia’s territorial integrity an act of extremism. The bill requires additional approvals by two more readings in the State Duma, the parliament’s upper chamber, the Federation Council and President Putin himself.

Ukraine has insisted that any ‘de-occupation’ of the peninsula will not be stopped by the bill or other constitutional amendments preventing the re-demarcation of Russian border with neighbouring states. Kyiv intends to pursue de-occupation via the creation of an international negotiation group, which would advocate for policies of non-recognition throughout the international community and the protection of human rights in the occupied peninsula.

Russian lawmakers are poised to approve the expanded extremism bill by the end of July. Even if it is passed, Ukraine will refuse to acknowledge its legal authorities over Crimean residents and will likely call upon the US, EU and other international partners to support non-recognition of the law. Moscow and Kyiv’s opposing stances will continue to complicate the issues of prisoner swaps and economic development in the region.

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