Today Russia announced that it would not return Crimea to Ukraine. They’ve also made it clear that they would not even negotiate on this matter with their foreign partners. This was when the U.S. President Donald Trump said he expected the annexed Black Sea peninsula to be returned.
Moscow said that in the 2014 referendum the majority of Crimeans voted to become part of Russia. As they wanted protection from what the Kremlin cast as an illegal coup in Kiev.
Ukraine says the referendum was a sham held at gunpoint. After Russian troops illegally annexed the peninsula, that Russia-friendly president Viktor Yanukovych was ousted by people power, and that Moscow should return Crimea.
“We don’t give back our own territory. Crimea is territory belonging to the Russian Federation,” Maria Zakharova, spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, told a news briefing on Wednesday.
The 2014 annexation prompted the United States and the European Union to impose sanctions on Russia. Plunging Western relations with the Kremlin to their worst level since the Cold War.
White House spokesman Sean Spicer said on Tuesday that Trump expected and wanted to get along with Russia, but was expecting Moscow to hand Crimea back.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, when asked about Spicer’s comments, said President Vladimir Putin had already explained why Crimeans had turned to Russia.
Russia told the White House that they will not return Crimea to Ukraine
“The theme of returning Crimea will not be discussed … Russia does not discuss its territorial integrity with foreign partners,” Peskov told a conference call with reporters.
Trump had not raised the Crimean issue in a Jan. 28 phone call with Putin, Peskov noted, saying the Kremlin would try to make contacts with the Trump administration. In order to try to improve ties which he said were in “a lamentable state.”
Vyacheslav Volodin, speaker of the State Duma, the lower house of parliament, told MPs any talk of Crimea’s status amounted to a challenge to Russia’s territorial integrity.
Volodin, a close Putin ally, told the Interfax news agency Trump had promised in his election campaign. However the promise was to work to improve relations with Russia.
“Let’s wait for some first-hand words from the U.S. president,” said Volodin. “When people get elected by voters it’s not merely for warm words and the ability to speak, but for concrete promises … that will be fulfilled.”