Ten senior diplomats from the European Union and seven other nations warned Russia Friday it would face “massive consequences” if it attempted to seize the Crimean Peninsula in what they called a “blatant violation” of international law.
During a closed meeting with Russian diplomats at the United Nations, which was obtained by Fox News, the envoys said Russia’s use of force is “illegal and unjustified.”
An international tribunal in the Hague on Friday ruled that Russia was in violation of international law when it annexed Crimea two years ago, saying a 22,000-strong Russian military presence was deployed illegally and unlawfully.
The Hague International Tribunal determined that Russian troops and special Russian forces staged what are called “substantial attacks” and “direct physical occupation” in Crimea.
In a joint statement to U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, the envoys also criticized Moscow’s hostile behavior during the now-crumbling peace process in Ukraine.
“Russia’s systematic violation of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine and its unwillingness to implement the Minsk agreements, severely undermines the prospects for a sustained peace in the region and threatens to perpetuate the scourge of armed conflict in Eastern Ukraine,” they said.
The exact text of the communique was not immediately available.
Before the meeting with Russian diplomats Friday, Ukraine’s Deputy Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin said Russian President Vladimir Putin could not be trusted.
“Putin was systematically abusing this process to take Crimea, which was in return his unconstitutional annexation of Ukraine,” Klimkin said. “I would like to assure you, if he continues any attempts to maneuver … to take Crimea or to violate Ukraine’s sovereignty, Russia will face enormous global condemnation.”
Deputy Foreign Minister Dmitry Rogozin appeared undeterred by the verdict of the tribunal. He said in a tweet that Russia would not recognize it.
Meanwhile, the U.S. and its allies have continued to apply sanctions against Russia over its alleged annexation of Crimea, and in recent days, Russia has threatened a “full-blown war” with NATO if the EU and other nations continue to sanction Russian citizens or goods coming into the European Union from Russia.
Earlier this week, Trump called Putin “very smart,” after the Russian leader called NATO “obsolete” and said that Russia’s desire to be a military force in Europe was not reflected in its force’s ability to “defend all of its interests.”
Trump used the term “stupid” to describe NATO earlier this week.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.