According to CNN, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo released a statement on Wednesday declaring that the U.S. does not recognize Crimea as part of Russia.
In his statement, Pompeo said that the United States “rejects Russia’s attempted annexation of Crimea and pledges to maintain this policy until Ukraine’s territorial integrity is restored,” and added that the U.S. expects Russia “to respect the principles to which it has long claimed to adhere and to end its occupation of Crimea.”
“Through its actions,” Pompeo added, “Russia has acted in a manner unworthy of a great nation and has chosen to isolate itself from the international community.”
During his congressional testimony on Wednesday, Pompeo also went on to reiterate this statement, according to a European diplomat.
Pompeo’s statement contradicts President Donald Trump’s ambiguity and uncertainty of ownership of the region. When asked last month on Air Force One whether or not he believes Russia has a hold on Crimea, Trump responded, “We’re going to have to see.”
Pompeo told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. on Tuesday that the president and Vladimir Putin were unable to reach an agreement on the matter during their summit in Helsinki.
Trump has previously blamed former President Barack Obama for Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, claiming that Obama “allowed” it to happen.
Pompeo also proceeded to vindicate the Trump administration’s handling of the Helsinki summit by listing the ways in which Trump has been strict and difficult on Russia.
In his prepared statement, Pompeo claimed that President Trump and his administration attempted to build a relationship with Russia, giving Russia the reigns.
“In Helsinki,” Pompeo said, as cited by CNN, “we sought to explore whether Russia was interested in improving the relationship.”
“We defended America’s fundamental strategic interests in Syria and Ukraine,” he continued, “and I personally made clear to the Russians that there will be severe consequences for interference in our democratic processes.”
Pompeo also touted administration’s progress with North Korea, noting that they are both patient and diplomatic, but will not let the process be prolonged.
Appearing before the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, Pompeo also commented on the passage of the Magnitsky Act, adding, “Let me make clear, the United States will defend our team in the field. And the team that’s been in the field when it retires, that’s been in the field. We understand that Americans deserve the protection in the United States of America both during their time in service and after.”