Russia Will Not Return Crimea to Ukraine, Moscow Tells Washington

Trump 'has made it very clear' that he expects Moscow to return Crimea to Ukraine, in a departure from opinions he has previously expressed.

Russian President Vladimir Putin holds a sword on a film set on December 30, 2016.
Mikhail Klimentyev/AP

Russia will not return Crimea to Ukraine, the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday, a day after the White House said U.S. President Donald Trump expects Moscow to do so.

A Kremlin spokesman later said he will not discuss Crimea because Russia does not discuss its territorial integrity with foreign partners.

On Tuesday, White House spokesman Sean Spicer said that "President Trump has made it very clear that he expects the Russian government to de-escalate violence in the Ukraine and return Crimea."

"At the same time, he fully expects to and wants to get along with Russia," he added. 

The new American tone is a departure from opinions Trump expressed last year on the conflict between Ukraine and Russia. In an interview with ABC in July, Trump did not back away from a suggestion he had made earlier to recognize Russia's claim on Crimea, CNN reported.

"I'm going to take a look at it," Trump said. "But you know, the people of Crimea, from what I've heard, would rather be with Russia than where they were."

The statement by the White House came after Trump's national security adviser, Michael Flynn, resigned under scrutiny over his connections to the Russian government.