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MOSCOW, May 26./TASS/. The return of former Ukrainian pilot Nadezhda Savchenko to Ukraine is unlikely to contribute to the improvement in Russia-Europe relations, Russian presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov said on Thursday.
"The return of our guys [Yevgeny Yerofeyev and Alexander Aleksandrov] to Moscow and Savchenko’s pardoning and her return to Kiev can hardly be regarded as something capable of cardinally changing the current atmosphere [in Russia-Europe relations], which we would like to be more constructive," the Kremlin official told reporters.
Answering a question whether a thaw in Russia’s relations with the West should be expected, Peskov said: "We prefer to be always optimistic, but this optimism should be well-informed." "Certainly, President Putin has consistently and constantly spoke in favor of the restoration of our relations and their further development, he always notes the priority of Europe, the EU and European countries separately for our interests, meaning the trade-economic and investment ties, as well as cooperation in the field of security on our continent," the official said. He added that "President Putin always expresses regret and disappointment over the fact that, unfortunately, our European partners have so far chosen a rather non-constructive path, in our view."
"Nevertheless, we, of course, remain hopeful that such normalization will happen sooner or later, because it actually meets the interests of both Europe and Russia," Peskov said. He added that Putin's article published by the Greek newspaper Kathimerini on Thursday is devoted to this issue.
According to the official, Moscow and Kiev hold consultations on extradition to Ukraine of other detained citizens, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Thursday.
"Of course, the Ukrainian side brings up the issues of concrete names in contacts. This is discussed," he said.
Peskov said he referred to Ukrainian nationals serving sentences in Russia. "These citizens, actually like Savchenko, could in no way be regarded under the category of persons mentioned in the Minsk agreements," he went on.
Peskov has pointed out that the Kremlin approves Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko’s wish "to return Donbass" for humanitarian reasons but does not accept any claims on Crimea.
"If he meant returning Donbass for humanitarian reasons, this statement can be supported. That’s what Moscow hopes for. As for Crimea, we do not comment on claims on Russian regions," Peskov said when asked by TASS how the Kremlin responded to Poroshenko’s statement he wants to bring back Crimea and Donetsk the way Nadezhda Savchenko had been brought.