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White House says US still rejects Russia’s annexation of Crimea

The White House illuminated pink in honor of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month | October 2, 2017 (Official White House Photo by D. Myles Cullen)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

A White House spokeswoman said the United States continues to reject Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea Peninsula, days after President Donald Trump cast doubt on that position.

Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters on July 2 that the U.S. sanctions imposed on Moscow following the 2014 annexation would remain until Moscow reversed its decision.

“We do not recognize Russia’s attempt to annex Crimea,” Sanders said. “We agree to disagree and the sanctions against Russia remain in place until Russia returns the peninsula to the Ukraine.”

Sanders’ remarks contrast with those of national security adviser John Bolton, who a day earlier suggested that Trump may eventually acknowledge Russia’s seizure.

Both comments come as the White House prepares for a major meeting between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, set for Helsinki on July 16.

Trump has repeatedly voiced support for a more conciliatory approach toward Moscow, which has stated that the Black Sea peninsula is now a full part of the Russian Federation.

On June 29, Trump was asked by reporters whether he planned to drop opposition to the annexation

“We’re going to have to see,” he said.

News reports have cited European leaders as saying that Trump argued privately at a recent Group of Seven summit that Crimea should be part of Russia because, he said, most of the people there speak Russian as their primary language.

With reporting by AP