The White House said Friday that President Trump is “not considering supporting” Russian President Vladimir Putin’s proposal to hold a referendum in eastern Ukraine.
“The Administration is not considering supporting a referendum in the eastern Ukraine,” National Security Council spokesman Garret Marquis said in a statement.
Marquis said the Minsk Agreements, a 2015 deal on the conflict in eastern Ukraine, is the process that should be followed to achieve peace in the region, and that “these agreements do not include any option for referendum.”
“Furthermore, to organize a so-called referendum in a part of Ukraine which is not under government control would have no legitimacy,” he said.
Bloomberg first reported Thursday that Putin had raised the possibilityof a such a referendum during his meeting with Trump on Monday.
Russia’s ambassador to the U.S., Anatoly Antonov, confirmed Friday that Putin had raised the topic with Trump, saying Putin made “concrete proposals” on how to handle the ongoing conflict.
Fighting broke out in the Donbas region in eastern Ukraine in 2014 after Russia annexed Crimea.
Rebel leaders in the region held referendums on independence that year, but they were not recognized. The Ukrainian government has offered the area autonomy while officially remaining a part of the country.
BY JACQUELINE THOMSEN – 07/20/18