21:53 GMT +321 July 2019
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    Michael McFaul, the US Ambassador to the Russian Federation, gives an interview at the US Embassy in Moscow (File)

    Trump Still Trying to 'Figure Out Russia Policy' – Ex-Envoy to Russia McFaul

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    Vice President Mike Pence’s remark that the US lays responsibility on implementation of the Minsk deal solely on Moscow and at the same time trying to find common ground with Russia indicates that Washington is still considering how it should deal with Moscow, former US ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul told Sputnik.

    MUNICH (Sputnik) — US Vice President Mike Pence said earlier in the day in Munich the United States would continue to hold Russia accountable for the crisis in eastern Ukraine even as Moscow and Washington search for new common ground, although he added President Donald Trump believed this could be done.

    "I think Trump administration did not figure out Russia policy yet so you have a contradictory set of ideas. On one hand, they want to cooperate in fighting terrorism, on the other hand they talk about that Russia has to return Crimea to Ukraine and echo many things that sounds like Obama administration. I don't think they figure it out. They need more time," McFaul said on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference.

    On February 14, the White House spokesman said that US President Donald Trump expects Russia to "return Crimea" to Ukraine. Later, Trump reaffirmed this stance, suggesting that Obama was "too soft" on Russia.

    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.

    Commenting on the White House statement, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that Russia does not intend to return Crimea to Kiev as it is Russian territory. The Kremlin said that Russia does not discuss issues related to its territory with foreign partners.

    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.

    Former US Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff told Sputnik on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference earlier in the day that the United States should be respectful of a role that Russia plays as a major power, however, given different goals, the two countries are unable to cooperate in certain areas.

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    Donald Trump, Michael McFaul, Russia, United States, Ukraine, Crimea
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