The United States is calling on Russia to release illegally imprisoned Ukrainians in Crimea annexed by it and promising to retain sanctions until the peninsula returns to Ukraine. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced this on the occasion of the 6th anniversary of the annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation, Ukrainian News Agency reports. "The United States is calling on Russia to release all Ukrainians whom it illegally imprisoned in connection with their political dissent, and put an end to Russia's violations of fundamental freedoms in Crimea," the statement reads. It is noted that in Crimea severely suppressed criticism in civil society and the media, religious freedom is limited. "More than 80 people from Crimea, including members of the Crimean Tatar community, were imprisoned by Russia - and some were tortured - for peaceful resistance to occupation. Members of the Crimean Tatar community continue to be subjected to unwarranted intrusions into their homes and mosques, surveillance and intimidation by the occupation authorities, restrictions their cultural events and the criminalization of their representative body - the Mejlis," the statement reads. It is also noted that Russia forcibly conscripted almost 20,000 Crimean men in violation of international law. "The occupation authorities severely restrict religious freedom, persecute believers on far-fetched terrorism charges and seized the cathedral of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine in Simferopol," the statement said. The U.S. Department of State believes that Russia's occupation of Crimea and increased militarization of the peninsula pose a threat to general security. "The United States confirms: Crimea is Ukraine. The United States not and never will not recognize Russia's claims to sovereignty over the peninsula. The United States condemns Russia's illegal actions in Crimea and its ongoing aggressive actions against Ukraine, including in Donbas, and will support sanctions against Russia until it regains control of Crimea to Ukraine and fully fulfills its obligations under the Minsk Agreements,” the statement reads. U.S. calls on Russia to end the occupation of Crimea. As Ukrainian News Agency earlier reported, Zelenskyy established February 26 as the Day of Resistance to the Occupation of Crimea.