11:48 May. 28, 2016
Russia's president rules out return of Crimea to Ukraine
Sanctions against Russia are not productive according to the Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras. He made the statement after meeting Russia's President Vladimir Putin in Athens.
Weeks before the European Union is set to renew the punitive measures imposed on Russia over its aggression in Ukraine, Tsipras called on the West to lift them and start dialogue with Moscow:
"The vicious circle of militarisation, of Cold War rhetoric and of sanctions are not productive. The solution is dialogue," he said at a joint press conference with Putin.
The EU slapped sanctions on Russia after Moscow annexed Crimea from Ukraine in March 2014. The 28-strong EU needs unanimity to keep the sanctions in place and the bloc's unity has been increasingly tested on that.
Speaking about Crimea, Putin ruled out the return of the occupied peninsula:
"As far as Crimea is concerned, we consider this question is closed forever. This was a historical decision taken by the people that live in Crimea. Russia will not conduct any discussions with anyone on this subject," he said.
In response to Poroshenko's pledge to return Crimea to Ukraine, Putin says question of Crimea "is closed forever" pic.twitter.com/ryiUHjZDw9— Steve Rosenberg (@BBCSteveR) May 28, 2016
Crimea was annexed by Russia after a sham referendum. Despite Moscow's claims it was acting on the will of the Crimean people, who voted to join Russia, Western governments and Ukraine consider the annexation an illegal land grab.
Based on reporting by Reuters