US condemns Russian elections in Crimea

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The United States "does not recognise the legitimacy" of upcoming Russian parliamentary elections planned for Crimea, the State Department said Friday (Sept 16).

"The United States does not recognise the legitimacy, and will not recognise the outcome, of the Russian Duma elections planned for Russian-occupied Crimea on September 18th," said State Department spokesman John Kirby in a statement.

Two-and-a-half years after Moscow annexed the strategic peninsula from Ukraine, residents are gearing up to vote Sunday in their first polls to elect deputies to Russia's national parliament.

"Our position on Crimea is clear: the peninsula remains an integral part of Ukraine," Kirby said. "Crimea-related sanctions against Russia will remain until Russia returns control of Crimea to Ukraine."

The US State Department also expressed concern "about the humanitarian situation in Crimea, including the status of the ethnic Tatar community and widespread reports of missing persons and human rights abuses."