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Russia dismisses US Crimea declaration

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Moscow (AFP)

Russia scoffed at a US declaration saying that Washington would not accept Moscow's annexation of Crimea, suggesting Washington's Ukraine policy could change in the future.

"We know the worth of these 'fateful declarations'," Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakarova said in a sarcastic comment on Facebook.

She suggested that Washington's Crimea policy could still change -- perhaps even under a new leader in the future.

She said that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran and the Paris agreement for slowing climate change "were also official US policy not long ago" because Trump's predecessor Barack Obama "personally decided so."

"And then Trump came and decided differently," she wrote late Wednesday.

The US government said Wednesday it would not accept Russia's annexation of the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine, as Trump stepped up his damage control operation after a hugely controversial summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki.

Trump on Wednesday also delayed a new summit with Putin to next year, just a day after the Kremlin said Putin and Trump agreed in Helsinki to continue their "useful contacts."

The US declaration slamming Russia's annexation of Crimea came after the Russian ambassador to Washington said Putin had made a concrete offer on Ukraine to Trump.

The ambassador, Anatoly Antonov, spoke after a report said that at the Helsinki summit, Putin called for a referendum to be held with the help of the international community in Ukraine's breakaway regions of Donetsk and Lugansk, which Russia-backed separatists control.

In the declaration, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called on Russia to "end its occupation of Crimea," and said Moscow had sought to "undermine a bedrock international principle" shared by democratic states, that no country can change the borders of another by force.

After a Western-backed popular uprising in Kiev in 2014 ousted a Kremlin-backed regime, Russia annexed Crimea and moved to support a separatist insurgency in Ukraine's Russian-speaking regions of Donetsk and Lugansk.

Moscow made Crimea part of Russia after a hastily conducted referendum whose results were rejected by the international community.

Putin has said the results of the vote would not be revisited.

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