Ukraine is set to take diplomatic measures against Kazakhstan after the country’s president said he did not view Crimea’s reunification with Russia as "annexation," Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Yekaterina Zelenko said.
"We are deeply concerned by media reports about Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev’s denying the annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea by Russia," she said on the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry’s Facebook page.
In her words, the Kazakh president’s statement contradicts "the established principles of relations between the two states" and the UN General Assembly resolution on the issue.
"Relevant demarches will be issued to the Kazakh side," TASS quoted the ministry as saying.
In his interview with Deutsche Welle, Tokayev said that his country does not view Crimea’s reunification with Russia as annexation. "What’s done is done. Annexation is too harsh of a word regarding Crimea," Tokayev said in an interview with Deutsche Welle when replying to a question on whether the Kazakh government had been "frightened" by the events in Ukraine, namely the "annexation" of Crimea.
Meanwhile, Crimean leader Sergei Aksyonov on Wednesday described the Kazakh leader’s statement as "a landmark statement that will undoubtedly help to dispel myths about Crimea, created by anti-Russian propaganda."
"We, residents of Crimea, are thankful to the leadership of Kazakhstan for their frank and unbiased stance, for profound understanding of the situation," he wrote on his VKontakte page.
After Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich was ousted in a coup in February 2014, mass protests erupted in Crimea and eastern Ukraine. On March 11, 2014, Crimea’s Supreme Council and Sevastopol City Council adopted a declaration of independence.
On March 16, 2014, Crimean authorities held a referendum on reuniting with Russia. Over 80% of voters participated in the plebiscite, most of them supporting the idea (96.7% in Crimea and 95.6% in the city of Sevastopol).
On March 18, 2014, President Vladimir Putin signed the treaty on Crimea’s reunification with Russia and the Federal Assembly (parliament) approved the document on March 21. However, Kiev has so far refused to acknowledge Crimea as part of Russia.