WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo preceded his appearance before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee today with a statement declaring that Crimea does not belong to Russia.
At the White House, the administration announced that it would delay the invitation to Russian President Vladimir Putin to visit D.C. — originally intended for fall — until after midterm elections, sometime next year. The Kremlin had not yet accepted the offer, but congressional leaders made clear that Putin would not be welcome at the Capitol.
“The president believes that the next bilateral meeting with President Putin should take place after the Russia witch hunt is over, so we’ve agreed that it will be after the first of the year,” National Security Advisor John Bolton said in a statement.
In a statement released by the State Department, Pompeo said that Russia, “through its 2014 invasion of Ukraine and its attempted annexation of Crimea, sought to undermine a bedrock international principle shared by democratic states: that no country can change the borders of another by force.”
“The states of the world, including Russia, agreed to this principle in the United Nations Charter, pledging to refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state. This fundamental principle — which was reaffirmed in the Helsinki Final Act — constitutes one of the foundations upon which our shared security and safety rests,” he continued.
“As we did in the Welles Declaration in 1940, the United States reaffirms as policy its refusal to recognize the Kremlin’s claims of sovereignty over territory seized by force in contravention of international law. In concert with allies, partners, and the international community, the United States rejects Russia’s attempted annexation of Crimea and pledges to maintain this policy until Ukraine’s territorial integrity is restored.”
Pompeo added that the United States “calls on Russia to respect the principles to which it has long claimed to adhere and to end its occupation of Crimea.”
“As democratic states seek to build a free, just, and prosperous world, we must uphold our commitment to the international principle of sovereign equality and respect the territorial integrity of other states,” he said. “Through its actions, Russia has acted in a manner unworthy of a great nation and has chosen to isolate itself from the international community.”
Trump reportedly told fellow leaders at the G7 summit last month that Crimea was Russian because people there speak Russian, and said “we’re going to have to see” when asked by reporters at the end of the month whether the administration would maintain its opposition to Russia’s Crimea annexation.
At the joint press conference in Helsinki with Putin last week, the Russian president said Trump “continued to maintain that it was illegal to annex it.”