Kremlin rules out handing back Crimea to Ukraine

March 17, 2015 12:06

Russia said on Tuesday it would not hand back Crimea to Ukraine, despite warnings by the United States and European Union that they will not drop sanctions over the Black Sea peninsula's annexation a year ago.

"There is no occupation of Crimea. Crimea is a region of the Russian Federation and of course the subject of our regions is not up for discussion," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters during a conference call.

Russia's parliament approved the annexation of Crimea on March 21 last year after residents of the peninsula supported the move in a referendum. Moscow has said repeatedly it will not return it to Ukraine.

Russian forces had already seized control of Crimea after the overthrow of a Ukrainian president backed by Moscow, a move described by Russian officials as a coup which threatened the safety of Crimea's mainly Russian-speaking population.

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