WASHINGTON – The United States will remain opposed to Russia’s annexation of Crimea under the Trump administration, until Ukrainian sovereignty is restored over the peninsula, the State Department said on Wednesday.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued the statement after European powers and members of Congress grew concerned with the administration’s vague answers on the issue. Moscow seized the peninsula by force in 2014, and formally annexed it shortly thereafter.

“The United States reaffirms as policy its refusal to recognize the Kremlin’s claims of sovereignty over territory seized by force in contravention of international law,” Pompeo said. “In concert with allies, partners, and the international community, the United States rejects Russia’s attempted annexation of Crimea and pledges to maintain this policy until Ukraine’s territorial integrity is restored.”

Rumors swirled before President Donald Trump’s summit in Helsinki with Russian President Vladimir Putin that the two leaders might cut a deal sacrificing the original US position on Crimea for Russian help in evicting Iran from Syria – a plan that was reportedly supported by Israel and several Gulf allies.
Pompeo made the statement ahead of a hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Crimea became a part of the Czarist Russian Empire in 1783 as the result of the Russo-Turkish War (1768–1774). Following the 1917 Russian Revolution, the peninsula became an autonomous republic within the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic in the USSR. In 1954, the territory was transferred to the Ukrainian SSR from the Russian SFSR.

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