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Russia not to discuss Crimea’s return to Ukraine with foreign partners — Kremlin

February 15, 12:36 UTC+3
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A view of a bay in Balaklava, Crimea

A view of a bay in Balaklava, Crimea

© Stanislav Krasilnikov/TASS

MOSCOW, February 15. /TASS/. Russia is not going to discuss the issue of Crimea’s return to Ukraine with foreign partners, including the US, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Wednesday.

"As for Crimea’s return, this issue will not be discussed as it cannot be discussed. Russia does not discuss its territorial issues with foreign partners," Peskov said, commenting on the White House statement that US President Donald Trump made it clear he expects Russia to return Crimea to Ukraine.

Peskov also said that issue of Crimea’s status was not discussed during the phone conversation between Russian and US Presidents Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump in late January.

When asked if Trump raised the issue of the Crimean status during this contact, Peskov said: "No, he didn’t."

Peskov gave no new comments on whether the Russian leader gave explanations on the situation in Ukraine during the conversation with the US president. "We (earlier in an official statement) said everything what we wanted to say on the outcome of the phone conversation that you mentioned," Peskov told reporters.

The Kremlin’s press service earlier said that during their phone conversation on January 28, Putin and Trump showed determination to conduct an active joint effort on stabilizing and developing Russian-US cooperation. The sides discussed vital international issues and also major aspects of the Ukrainian crisis. The leaders agreed to establish partner-type cooperation in those and other areas. Putin and Trump placed a special emphasis on the fight against terrorism.

Russia will keep explaining its arguments regarding Crimea to its partners

Russia will go ahead with systematic efforts to explain its arguments regarding Crimea to its partners, including the United States, Peskov told the media, when asked about the likely effects the White House spokesman’s statement the US president made it quite clear that he was expending Crimea’s return to Ukraine would have on Moscow-Washington relations.

"The Russian president is patiently and systematically explaining to its partners the causes that brought about a situation in which the people of Crimea had made a decision to seek protection from Russia and to become its part. He is patiently and systematically telling the story of the government coup in Ukraine, largely sponsored from outside the country," Peskov.

He added that "at very different levels Moscow will continue to systematically explain in detail its arguments to its partners, including our partners in Washington."

"Russia as one of the guarantors of the Minsk process has exerted the maximum efforts in cooperation with its partners in Berlin and Paris for the sake of de-escalation of the conflict in Ukraine and for identifying a political solution," Peskov stated.

Russia hopes, he went on to say, that contacts with the United States will be established and we will have an opportunity to convey its arguments to the US partners constructively, calmly and in a business-like fashion.

The Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol, a city with a special status on the Crimean Peninsula, where most residents are Russians, refused to recognize the legitimacy of Kiev authorities brought to power amid riots during a coup in Ukraine in February 2014.

Crimea and Sevastopol adopted declarations of independence on March 11, 2014. They held a referendum on March 16, 2014, in which 96.77% of Crimeans and 95.6% of Sevastopol voters chose to secede from Ukraine and join Russia. The Russian president signed the reunification deals March 18, 2014. Despite the convincing results of the referendum, Kiev refused to recognize Crimea as part of Russia.

Russia-US relations will be built with first official contacts

Russian and US relations have not yet started being built and there is the need to wait until Donald Trump’s administration is finally formed and the first official contacts take place, according to Peskov.

"Nothing is emerging for the time being. There has been just an exchange of declarations of intention to build relations, which are in a deplorable condition at the moment. For now it would be wrong to anticipate events. The US president is in the process of finalizing the makeup of his administration, so there is nothing to be done but wait for the first contacts to follow," Peskov said.

He recalled that plans for the first contacts between the two countries’ foreign ministers had been announced already. Russia’s Sergey Lavrov and his US counterpart Rex Tillerson will meet on the sidelines of the G20 meeting in Bonn on February 16-17.

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