Dec. 31 (UPI) — Russia has finished its fence on the Ukraine-Crimea border four years after it illegally annexed Crimea from Ukraine despite several European leaders’ concerns.
Russians completed the border fence Friday, equipped with hundreds of sensors, sealing off Crimea, to prevent the breakthrough of Ukrainian saboteurs and smuggling of weapons, fuel, alcohol, and drugs, according to state-run Ria Novosti news agency.
The wall stretches nearly 40-miles long and is re-enforced with remote cameras and regular patrols.
The tightening of pressure on Ukraine has been condemned by several European leaders, who have called for a definitive end to the conflict that came about after Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, violating international laws.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron issued a joint statement of concern about human rights in Crimea, especially concerning the Tatar minority, along with the capture of Ukrainian sailors and recent illegal interference in maritime navigation in the Sea of Azov.
“The human rights situation in Crimea, illegally annexed by Russia, Russia’s use of military force in the Kerch Strait, as well as the excessive inspections carried out in the Sea of Azov, are also … ‘a deep concern,” the joint statement said. “We call for all vessels in the Kerch Strait to have a safe, free and unhindered passage and for the immediate and unconditional release of Ukrainian seamen. They too must be able to spend the holidays with their families.”
There have been several cease-fires since Russia annexed Crimea, including one that was due to begin Saturday, but the Ukraine military violated the ceasefire, shelling the militia’s positions in the self-proclaimed Lugansk People’s Republic in eastern Ukraine, the LPR mission to the Joint Center for Control and Coordination said in a statement Saturday.