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Crimea Blockade to Continue Until It Becomes Part of Ukraine - US Senators

© AP Photo / Cliff OwenSen. John McCain
Sen. John McCain - Sputnik International
US Senators John McCain and Chris Murphy are determined to continue the economic blockade of Crimea until the region becomes part of Ukraine.

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — There will be no let-up on the economic blockade of Crimea until it becomes part of Ukraine again, US Senators John McCain and Chris Murphy told Sputnik.

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On March 11, 2014, following a coup in Kiev, Crimea and its special-status port city of Sevastopol adopted a declaration of independence from Ukraine, asking for reunification with Russia. On March 16, the overwhelming majority, 96 percent, of Crimean residents voted to join Russia in a referendum.

Washington, which refused to recognize the results of the referendum, imposed an economic embargo against Crimea in 2014, as well as a series of sanctions against Russia. The United States blamed Moscow for meddling in Ukraine's internal affairs and violating the country's territorial integrity. Meanwhile, the Kremlin said that it had simply protected the ethnic Russian population residing in Crimea, while not being a party to Ukraine's internal affairs.

"I don't intend on supporting the sanctions relief until not only the Russian invasion of Eastern Ukraine has ended, but they withdraw from Crimea as well," Senator Murphy, who is a member of the US Foreign Relations Committee, said.

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Murphy added he is "hopeful, ultimately, that Crimea will become part of Ukraine."

Murphy acknowledged that Crimea's economy is "in trouble" and the conflict in Ukraine has not been good for the people of Crimea.

However, Murphy stated he will not support an easing of the economic embargo on Crimea until the result of last year's Crimea referendum to reunite with the Russian Federation is reversed.

McCain, who is Chairman of the US Senate Armed Services Committee, told Sputnik that the West's economic blockade of Crimea will not be reversed until Russia leaves the territory.

Asked what conditions would be necessary to relieve the trade embargo on Crimea, McCain said, "for [Russian President] Vladimir Putin to leave."

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Asked if the United States would consider any specific, targeted relief for Crimea, Murphy commented it was unlikely.

"I would be hard pressed to believe that the Russians are going to allow American relief into Crimea any time soon," he said.

Meanwhile, Russian Minister for Crimean Affairs Oleg Savelyev said Monday that many countries want to invest in Crimea, adding that the region's economy is recovering.

In the documentary "Crimea. Way back home," which was broadcast on Sunday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the people of Crimea should have had the "opportunity to express their will" at the March 16, 2014 referendum on secession from Ukraine and joining Russia. Putin added that Crimea is historically part of Russia, and the country could not have left ethnic Russian people in danger following the coup and allow them to "be thrown under the wheels of this nationalist bulldozer."

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