Ukraine's Foreign Affairs Ministry marked the anniversary of Russia's annexation of Crimea on Saturday, saying the peninsula has been "suffering" under the Kremlin for nine years and calling for Russia to leave all occupied Ukrainian territories.
In 2014, Russia invaded the Black Sea peninsula and completed its annexation within days, holding a referendum that was slammed by Ukraine and most of the world as illegitimate.
"For nine years in a row, the Crimean peninsula has been suffering under the criminal regime of the Kremlin, which has turned it into a military outpost, a zone of unfreedom and harassment, aggression and terror against everything and everyone who has found the courage to resist and defend their democratic rights and values," according to the Ukrainian statement.
The ministry also condemned the so-called referendums held last year in the occupied portions of Ukraine's Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, Luhansk and Donetsk regions. That process has also been denounced by Kyiv and Western governments as violating international law.
"Both in 2014 and in 2022, the referendum theater has no consequences for the administrative-territorial structure and internationally recognized borders of Ukraine," the statement said. "The liberation of all other temporarily occupied territories will also happen. It is only a matter of time."
The ministry thanked Ukraine's global allies for helping it move toward regaining territory, including in Crimea, and said Ukraine will make every effort to punish Russia and its leadership.
In Crimea, Russian President Vladimir Putin attended an event Saturday in the peninsula's largest city, Sevastopol, to mark the anniversary.