Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs Angelino Alfano has called Crimea’s status an “open sore” in relations between Russia and the West. He made this statement on Tuesday in an interview with TASS ahead of his trip to Ukraine and Russia as an OSCE observer.

“Crimea remains an open sore in relations between Russia and the West,” Alfano said.

On March 11, 2014, amid a political crisis and a change of power in Ukraine, Crimea’s Supreme Council and the Sevastopol City Council adopted a declaration on independence of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol. On March 16, a referendum was held on the peninsula with a 80% turnout, in which 96.77% of Crimean residents and 95.6% of Sevastopol residents voted for reunification with Russia. On March 18, an agreement on accession of new regions in Russia was signed.

Ukraine, the US and the European Union refused to recognize Crimea’s independence and its reintegration into Russia. Accession of Crimea and Sevastopol to Russia was used as pretext by the EU and the US for introduction of sanctions against some officials, as well as Russian financial, oil production and defense companies.

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