The United States “does not recognize the legitimacy” of upcoming Russian parliamentary elections planned for Crimea, the State Department said Friday.


Russian embassy in Kiev


“The United States does not recognize the legitimacy, and will not recognize the outcome, of the Russian Duma elections planned for Russian-occupied Crimea on Sept. 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 U.S. 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.”