MOSCOW, November 30. /TASS/. US President-elect Donald Trump should restore cooperation between Washington and Moscow by recognizing the referendum on the status of Crimea, Italy’s former Prime Minister and former Foreign Minister Lamberto Dini said on Wednesday, speaking at the Primakov Readings International Forum in Moscow.
"Nowadays, tensions between Russia and the United States has reached, possibly, the highest level since 1998," Dini said, emphasizing that the policy of sanctions "the US and European countries imposed on Russia" was to be blamed for this.
"President-elect Trump has a unique opportunity to restore relations with Russia, in particular by recognizing the referendum in Crimea and cooperating with Russia against international terrorism in Syria," Dini said, expressing hope that Russian-US cooperation should be resumed to make progress on international issues.
Crimea, where most residents are ethnic Russians, refused to recognize the legitimacy of authorities brought to power amid riots during a coup in Ukraine in February 2014.
On March 16, 2014 more than 82% of Crimea’s electorate took part in the referendum, when 96.77% in the Republic of Crimea and 95.6% in the Black Sea naval port of Sevastopol backed splitting from Ukraine and spoke in favor of reuniting with Russia. On March 18, the treaty on Crimea’s reunification with Russia was signed.
Results of the referendum were celebrated by many Crimeans but the vote was widely criticized by Western leaders and at the United Nations that alongside Ukraine refused to recognize the referendum was legitimate. In July 2014, the European Union and the US imposed sanctions against Crimea and Russia and have repeatedly extended and expanded them.