'Russia Does Not Return Its Territories' - Moscow on WH Statement on Crimea

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Russia does not return its territories, Russian Foreign Ministry spokewoman Maria Zakharova said commenting on the White House statement that US President Trump is expecting Moscow to return Crimea to Kiev.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Russia does not intend to return Crimea, a Black Sea peninsula that voted to secede from Ukraine and join Russia in early 2014, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Wednesday.

"We do not return our territories. Crimea is Russian territory," Zakharova said at a weekly briefing, reaffirming Moscow's longstanding position that the issue is permanently closed.

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Trump Expects Russia to 'Return Crimea' to Ukraine - White House
On February 14, the White House spokesman said that US President Donald Trump expects Russia to "return Crimea" to Ukraine.

"President Trump has made it very clear that he expects the Russian government to deescalate violence in the Ukraine and return Crimea," White House spokesman Sean Spicer said at a daily news briefing. "At the same time, he fully expects to and wants to get along with Russia."

Crimea rejoined Russia after a 2014 referendum, when almost 97 percent of the region's population voted for the reunification. Sevastopol, which has a federal city status, supported the move by 95.6 percent of votes.

During the election campaign Trump claimed he would "consider" recognizing Crimea as part of Russia following the referendum in the peninsula, adding that the Crimeans wanted to live in Russia.

Donald Trump has repeatedly advocated establishing a political dialogue with Moscow, particularly in regards to the fight against terrorism, and expressed readiness to build positive relations with Russia. Moscow has long been promoting the idea of fruitful cooperation with Washington.

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After the leaders' phone talks on January 28, the Kremlin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the presidents had noted the importance of respect in relations.

Commenting on the claim that US President Trump is expecting Moscow to return Crimea to Kiev, a Russian lawmaker said that the peninsula is an integral part of Russia and cannot be "subject of bargaining" between Russia and the United States.

"The issue of Crimea return is absolutely clear — it is part of Russia and it cannot be subject of bargaining between Russia and the United States, no matter what is at stake," Viktor Ozerov, chairman of the defense committee in the Russian upper house of parliament, told Sputnik on Tuesday.

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