US President Barack Obama has released a statement to mark the 25th anniversary of Ukraine’s independence from the Soviet Union.
In the written statement released Wednesday, Obama touched upon the crisis that has gripped the Russian neighbor.
People in Ukraine’s Black Sea peninsula of Crimea voted in a referendum to join the Russian Federation in March 2014. The move angered the West and the Ukrainian government, which branded it as Moscow’s annexation of the territory.
“On behalf of the American people, I’m proud to join the Ukrainian people in marking this historic anniversary.  As we have been reminded in recent years, Ukraine’s path has not always been easy,” he said.
Ukraine's eastern provinces of Donetsk and Lugansk have also witnessed deadly clashes between pro-Moscow forces and the Ukrainian army since Kiev launched military operations in April 2014 to crush pro-Moscow protests there.
In his statement, the US president reiterated Washington’s stance on the situation, urging Kiev to tread in the path of “a strong and united Europe.”
“Today, we reaffirm that the United States will continue to stand with the Ukrainian people as they protect their sovereignty and territorial integrity, embrace the vision of a strong and united Europe, and deepen their commitment to democracy, anti-corruption, and respect for human rights,” Obama said.
Since 2009 when he became the US president, Obama has not visited Ukraine unlike his two immediate predecessors.
The United States and its European allies accuse Moscow of destabilizing Ukraine. Moscow, however, rejects having a hand in the crisis gripping the Eastern European state.
The crisis has left more than 9,000 people dead and over 20,000 others injured, according to the United Nations.

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