MOSCOW (Sputnik) – Polish member of the European Parliament Janusz Ryszard Korwin-Mikke is following in the footsteps of a French delegation that visited the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea last month, the Russian Izvestia newspaper reports.
"I consider the French parliamentarians’ trip to Crimea the right step because it recognizes the current legal status of Crimea, since the peninsula has indeed become part of the Russian Federation. I am all for such a trip and I will try to carry it out," Korwin-Mikke told Izvestiya on Friday.
"Our party regards Russia as a strong counterbalance to the European Union. We would like to develop trade ties with Russia and China more actively," Korwin-Mikke said, adding that Poland’s economic expansion should aim eastward.
Crimea split from Ukraine to rejoin Russia in March 2014 following a referendum in which over 96 percent of voters supported the move. The West labelled the vote an illegal "annexation." Moscow has stated that the referendum fully complied with international law.
Western countries, as well as Japan, have imposed sanctions targeting Russia's banking, energy and defense sectors after Crimea's reunification with Russia.
A group of French lawmakers, led by lower-house National Assembly Foreign Affairs Committee member Thierry Mariani, visited Crimea in July, reporting afterwards that the Black Sea peninsula residents, who are predominantly ethnically-Russian, appear to be happy to have "returned" to Russia. The lawmakers said what they saw in Crimea was completely different from what Western media portray.