US voices 'deep concern' over Bulgarian president's comments about Crimea

The U.S. Embassy in Bulgaria voiced concern on Monday over Bulgarian President Rumen Radev's comments about Crimea belonging to Russia.

"The United States is deeply concerned by the recent statements of Bulgarian President Rumen Radev in which he referred to Crimea as 'Russian,'" the embassy's statement said.

Radev recently won a second term in his country's runoff election, and the U.S. statement was in response to comments he made during a debate, according to The Associated Press.

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"The sanctions that were imposed because of Crimea and Ukraine are not yielding results," Radev said, per the AP, calling Crimea "currently Russian" and even adding, "What else can it be?"

In 2014, Crimea was annexed by Russia from Ukraine. However, both NATO and the European Union continue to recognize it as part of Ukraine. Though Bulgaria belongs to NATO and the EU, it still harbors a cultural connection to Russia, the wire service noted. 

"The United States, G7, European Union, and NATO have all been clear and united in our position that, despite Russia’s attempted annexation and ongoing occupation, Crimea is Ukraine," the embassy's release said.

The U.S. Embassy also added that it had communicated its concerns to the Bulgarian government and called Crimea "an integral part of Ukraine." The statement went on to say that "we do not and will not recognize Russia’s efforts to legitimize its illegal seizure and occupation of the peninsula."