Russia will not be giving Crimea back to Ukraine a Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said in response to White House comments saying that Donald Trump expected Moscow to “return” the peninsular.
Maria Zakharova told a weekly news briefing “We don’t return our territories. Crimea is a territory of the Russian Federation”
White House spokesman Sean Spicer told reporters on Tuesday that the US president expects Moscow to “return” Crimea to Ukraine.
Trump later reiterated his position on Crimea on Twitter.
Crimea was TAKEN by Russia during the Obama Administration. Was Obama too soft on Russia?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 15, 2017
Earlier in February, the Trump-appointed ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, strongly denounced “the Russian occupation” in Crimea.
“Crimea is a part of Ukraine. Our Crimea-related sanctions will remain in place until Russia returns control of the peninsula to Ukraine,” Haley said.
Crimea became part of the Russian Empire back in the 18th century, but was reassigned to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic in 1954 by the Soviet Union’s ruling presidium. Following the 2014 coup in Kiev, Crimeans overwhelmingly voted in a referendum to rejoin Russia.
The majority of those living in Crimea today are ethnic Russians – almost 1,200,000 or around 58.3 percent of the population, according to the last national census conducted back in 2001. Some 24 percent are Ukrainians (around 500,000) and 12 percent are Crimean Tatars.