The election of Donald Trump as US President opened new prospects for the restoration of Russia/US relations. Observers and analysts have remained cautious, however, as the policies of the Obama administration could not be easily reversed.
In the days following his inauguration, Trump has made some small steps towards rebuilding proper communication with Russia.
Trump has been rather vague on the issue of Russian annexation of Crimea, and he faced the accusations that he supports Russian takeover of the peninsula.
On Tuesday, White House spokesman, Sean Spicer, said that Trump expects Russia to return Crimea to Ukraine.
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.
Russian annexation of Crimea followed the 2014 revolution in Ukraine, that resulted in the deposition of the democratically elected President Victor Yanukovych, widely seen in the West and his opponents at home as pro-Russian.
Crimea organized a referendum in which an overwhelming majority of its population voted in favor of joining Russia.
According to Moscow, the Crimean referendum was an expression of the will of Crimean people, but the regime in Kiev has rejected the validity of referendum, seeing it as a part of Kremlin’s aggressive, expansionist policies.
For Russia, the Crimea issue has been settled. Maria Zakharova, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman, said on Wednesday that Russia will not return Crimea to Ukraine.
“We don’t give back our own territory. Crimea is territory belonging to the Russian Federation.”
Kremlin spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, reacted in a similar manner. “The theme of returning Crimea will not be discussed … Russia does not discuss its territorial integrity with foreign partners.”