Russia Digs In Heels On Crimea After Trump Demands Its Return

REUTERS/Alexei Druzhinin/RIA Novosti/Kremlin

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Saagar Enjeti White House Correspondent
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Russia’s Foreign Ministry pushed back Wednesday against the White House’s demand for the return of Crimea to Ukraine.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told reporters Tuesday that President Donald Trump expected Russia to return Crimea to Ukraine, as a condition for lifting Obama’s sanction. Spicer’s comments echo the demands of US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley on Feb 3. Russia illegally occupied and annexed Crimea in 2014, and remains under international sanction.

“The United States continues to condemn and call for an immediate end to the Russian occupation of Crimea,” Haley told the UN Security Council. She continued, “Crimea is a part of Ukraine. Our Crimea-related sanctions will remain in place until Russia returns control over the peninsula to Ukraine.”

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Maria Zakharova protested the White House’s claim telling reporters in Moscow, “We don’t give back our own territory. Crimea is territory belonging to the Russian Federation.” She continued, “The theme of returning Crimea will not be discussed … Russia does not discuss its territorial integrity with foreign partners.”

Trump also accused the Obama administration of displaying weakness for allowing Russia to take Crimea.

Crimea’s economy has tanked under Russian occupation. “People are naive. They thought that if we were part of Russia, everything would be Russian. Prices have now jumped to the Russian level, but wages have stayed the same. That’s the main problem,” a Crimean factory worker told Reuters in August. “We joined Russia and they stopped giving a damn about us,” he elaborated.

When Crimea was part of Ukraine, goods were generally affordable. After Russia’s annexation, Kiev stopped its regular shipments, which caused prices to soar. Russia has yet to integrate Crimea into its supply chain, causing local prices to skyrocket. An examination of official statistics by Euromaidan Press revealed that Crimea’s unemployment rate has risen by 7% since its annexation by Russia.

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