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Pompeo: US won't recognize the Kremlin's annexation of Crimea

In prepared remarks, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the US will not recognize Russia's annexation of Crimea. (Al Drago/Getty Images)

In a statement released Wednesday by the Trump administration, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo proclaimed that the U.S. will not recognize Russia's annexation of Crimea from the Ukraine.

The State Department shared its top diplomat's prepared remarks before Pompeo's testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

What does the statement say?

Pompeo was expected to face questions from the committee regarding President Donald Trump's foreign policy practices, and particularly regarding the commander-in-chief's recent summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Addressing the administration's position regarding Russia, Pompeo's statement read: "I want to assure this Committee that the United States does not, and will not, recognize the Kremlin's purported annexation of Crimea. We stand together with allies, partners, and the international community in our commitment to Ukraine and its territorial integrity.

"There will be no relief of Crimea-related sanctions until Russia returns control of the Crimean peninsula to Ukraine," the statement said.

Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine in 2014, to the dismay of the international community.

How did the hearing go?

Prior to questioning, Pompeo told the senators, "I want you to know, President Trump has stated that he accepts our intelligence community's conclusion that Russia meddled in the 2016 election. He has a complete and proper understanding of what happened. I know, I briefed him on it for over a year."

But in his opening statement, Committee Chair Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) told Pompeo, "You come before a group of senators here today that are filled with serious doubts about this White House and its conduct of American foreign policy. ... I can't say it more forcefully, we really need a clear understanding as to what is going on, what our President is agreeing to and what our strategy is on a number of issues."

The secretary of state went on to explain the U.S. envoy's controversial meeting with Putin.

"In Helsinki, we sought to explore whether Russia was interested in improving the relationship, but made clear that the ball is in Russia's court," Pompeo said. "We defended America's fundamental strategic interests in Syria and Ukraine, and I personally made clear to the Russians that there will be severe consequences for interference in our democratic processes."

Responding to Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), who asked what agreements were reached at the meeting in Helsinki, Pompeo told the committee that President Trump had asked him to follow up on re-establishing both a business-to-business leadership exchange between Russia and the US, and a counterterrorism council.

Pompeo said the Trump administration is seeking to get Russia to cooperate in working toward a political solution to the violence in Syria. He also told the lawmakers that sanctions against Russia were not discussed during the summit with Putin.

One last thing…
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