Authoritarian Belarusian ruler Alexander Lukashenko has recognized the annexed Ukrainian Black Sea peninsula of Crimea as Russian for the first time after a long period of hesitation.
“Crimea is … de facto a Russian Crimea,” Lukashenko said in an interview with the Russian state agency Ria Novosti, excerpts of which were published on Wednesday.
“After the referendum, Crimea also became Russian by right,” the 67-year-old said, referring to a controversial referendum in 2014 after which Russia annexed Crimea against international protest.
Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stressed that “nothing has to be done and no laws have to be passed” for recognition. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, on the other hand, said that Lukashenko’s actions were what mattered – and warned Minsk against official recognition.