On 20 February 2014, under the false pretext of restoring law, order and stability in Crimea, Russian forces entered Ukrainian territory and took control of political institutions and key societal functions. In the course of a few weeks, a part of Ukraine was forcibly placed under Russian administration.
The so-called referendum of 16 March the same year was designed to legitimise Russia's use of force. In the absence of any form of international recognition, the referendum was used to justify the illegal incorporation of Crimea and Sevastopol into the Russian Federation on 18 March.
Since then, the human rights situation in Crimea and Sevastopol has deteriorated. Today, four years later, Russia is still denying international organisations and NGOs access to Crimea.
'We are still hearing claims that Crimea has always been Russian and that Russia was simply taking back an area of territory that was rightfully its own. The fact is that Russia chose to place itself above international law, disregarding a series of legally binding agreements developed in the wake of two devastating world wars to regulate relations between states,' State Secretary Halvorsen said.