Russia recently transferred Air Assault elements to occupied Crimea, notwithstanding its announcement of forces withdrawal.
Acting Deputy Chief of the U.S. Mission to the OSCE Elisabeth Rosenstock-Siller said this during an online meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council in Vienna, as reported on Mission's website on May 13.
"The United States continues to monitor closely Russia’s ‘drawdown’ of its military forces along Ukraine’s eastern border and in Russia-occupied Crimea," the diplomat said.
According to her, the situation on the ground in eastern Ukraine remains worrying; Russia’s adventure continues to damage homes, schools, and critical civilian infrastructure.
"As part of its broader efforts to destabilize Ukraine and to disrupt regional security, Russia has engaged in a multi-year military buildup in Crimea. Even as it announced the drawdown of its forces along its border with Ukraine, Russia recently transferred Air Assault elements to Crimea, along with T-72B3 battle tanks, 120mm mortars, 122mm howitzers, and armored vehicles, among other equipment and hardware," the statement added.
Furthermore, the diplomat said, Russia has continued to conscript thousands of young residents of Crimea into its military, some of whom have been transferred to Russian military units assigned to carry out the Kremlin’s agenda in the Donbas.
Rosenstock-Siller reminded that during the last meeting of the Permanent Council, the participating States affirmed that they cannot, and will not, accept this heightened interference as the new normal.
The American envoy also called on Russia to cease its repression in Crimea and to release all Ukrainian political prisoners it holds. "We further call on Russia to end its militarization and occupation of Crimea and remove all its forces and hardware from eastern Ukraine," she added.