11:47 GMT31 October 2020
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    MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Former US diplomat Dennis Ortblad has called on Washington to reconsider sanctions against Russia as well as its position on Crimea with the aim of improving relations with Russia.

    "We need to deal with Russia as it is, not as we wish it to be. And our enemy is not Russia", Ortblad wrote in a Tuesday article for The National Interest magazine.

    According to the ex-diplomat, Washington should first and foremost change its stance on Crimea's status so that it can review its sanction policy against Russia.

    "To recalibrate our sanctions, we must recognise that Crimea will remain Russian. Its population was always heavily Russian ... Crimeans identify with the historic struggles of Russia against invasion from the West ... It was clear to us [during the recent visit to Sevastopol] that the people of Crimea would not relinquish their pride in their traditional Russian identity to accept a return to Ukraine", he said.

    In addition, Ortblad offered two solutions for how to heal ties with Russia: reducing the nuclear threat and reconsidering the role of NATO, as well as increasing student exchanges.

    "It is time to improve relations between Russia and the West with a policy of realism about Russia. It will yield benefits in the long term that our sanctions will not. The time to act is now", he wrote.
    Crimea, Russia
    © Sputnik / Alexey Malgavko
    Crimea, Russia

    Relations between Russia and the West deteriorated after Crimea rejoined Russia following the 2014 referendum, where over 96 percent of voters supported the reunification. Western countries have accused the Kremlin of interfering in the vote and introduced sanctions against Russia. Moscow retaliated by switching over to an import phase-out and imposing countersanctions.

    US, Russia, Crimea
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