Ambassador Gilmore Condemns Russian Conscription in Crimea as Violation of International Law
PRESS RELEASE | May 21, 2020
Vienna – At a meeting of the Permanent Council of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) on May 21, U.S. Ambassador James S. Gilmore III condemned Russia’s continued use of conscription in Crimea as a violation of international humanitarian law. “Compelling persons protected by the Fourth Geneva Convention to serve in the forces of a hostile power is a grave breach of the Geneva Convention, and a violation of the obligations that the Russian Federation owes under its subscription to the Geneva Convention.” Gilmore stated.
Gilmore pointed to an August 2019 report by the UN Secretary General that proclaimed “that at least 18,000 men in Crimea had been conscripted under threat of criminal prosecution into the Russian Armed Forces, some of whom were assigned to military bases in the Russian Federation.” Gilmore said that Russia did not stop its illegal conscription at that point, drafting another 2,600 in fall 2019 and 3,300 in spring 2020, bringing the total to almost 24,000.
Preempting the Russian argument that its actions were lawful as they occurred on Russian territory, Gilmore stated, “Although Russia attempted to disguise its military occupation of Crimea with a hastily organized sham referendum in March 2014 and other efforts, States have overwhelmingly rejected this charade, including in multiple UN General Assembly resolutions. Crimea is part of Ukraine, despite the Russian Government’s efforts to pretend otherwise.” He went on to highlight that “under Article 47 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, a sham referendum and a purported annexation cannot deprive persons protected by that Convention from its protections while that Convention continues to apply,” Gilmore concluded.
At the end of his statement, Gilmore again demanded Russia stop this practice. “It is clear from this record that Russia’s conscriptions of residents of Crimea into its armed forces are inconsistent with international humanitarian law applicable to belligerent occupation. We call on Russia to end immediately its campaign of conscription of residents of Crimea, cease its other abuses, and return control of the peninsula to Ukraine.”
Read the full statement here.
For additional information, please contact:
U.S. Mission to the OSCE
G. Michael Snyder, Counselor for Public Affairs