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Russia Says This One Topic Is Off the Table for Trump’s Meeting With Putin

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At least one topic of discussion appears off the table for President Donald Trump’s upcoming summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin: Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine. Putin spokesman Dmitri Peskov told reporters Monday that the status of Crimea “can not and will never be on the agenda because it is an inseparable part of Russia,” according to Agence France-Presse.

Trump and Putin are set to meet on July 16 in Helsinki, Finland, marking the pair’s first formal bilateral meeting.

Peskov told reporters that, besides Crimea, “all other issues” were open to discussion and finding compromise, and hoped the summit would lead to a deeper understanding between the two nations.

For his part, Trump has left open the question of changing the U.S. position on Crimea. When asked by reporters Saturday whether he would consider recognizing Russia’s annexation of Crimea, Trump said that “we’ll have to see.” Trump also suggested he would bring up the matter as part of his discussion with Putin. “I’ll talk to him about everything,” he said, according to Bloomberg, specifying topics including Crimea, Syria and Russian election meddling.

Trump National Security Advisor John Bolton said Sunday that he had already spoken to Putin about Crimea, telling CBS’s Face the Nation that he told him “we’re going to have to agree to disagree on Ukraine.” Pushed on whether the U.S. was likely to recognize Russia’s position, Bolton said he thought the “U.S. position is clear,” but added that “the President makes the policy.”

The U.S. has been strongly opposed to Russia’s actions in Crimea. Russian-backed troops seized control of the region in 2014, and later held a referendum on becoming a part of Russia that was heavily criticized by the international community. The U.S., alongside the European Union, placed tough economic sanctions on Russia in response. Any change to the U.S. stance on Crimea by Trump would likely further alienate his European allies.

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