Russian President Vladimir Putin is ready to discuss cooperation on Crimea with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky not the ownership of Crimea, said the press secretary of the Russian President Dmitry Peskov on air of Rossiya 1 TV channel.
"If we discuss Crimea in terms of the development of cross-border cooperation, you know, Russia has cross-border cooperation with other countries, in this regard, I am sure that Putin will be ready," Peskov said.
Peskov added that "no one will ever discuss" who owns Crimea.
At the end of March, Zelensky put into effect the decision of the Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council (NSDC) to approve the country's military security strategy, which includes Ukraine’s regaining control over the peninsula and the country's accession to NATO. Later, Zelensky invited Putin to hold a meeting to discuss the situation in Crimea and Donbass.
In response, the Kremlin said that they are ready to discuss bilateral relations with Ukraine, and suggested holding talks on the Donbas with representatives of the unrecognized Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics.
In February 2014, armed people in uniforms without insignias appeared in Crimea and captured the Supreme Council of Crimea, the Simferopol Airport, the Kerch ferry crossing and other strategic objects, and prevented the Ukrainian army from taking action. Initially, the Russian government refused to acknowledge that these armed people were Russian soldiers, but President Vladimir Putin later admitted it.
On 16 March 2014, a referendum on the status of Crimea was held in Crimea and Sevastopol, in which the inhabitants supposedly voted for the peninsula to become part of Russia. The outcome of the so-called referendum is not recognized by Ukraine, the EU or the US. On 18 March, Putin announced the “annexation” of Crimea to Russia.
International organizations have declared the annexation illegal and condemned Russia’s actions. Western countries have imposed economic sanctions on Russia in connection with the annexation. Russia claims to have “restored historical justice”. Ukraine’s parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, declared 20 February 2014 the start of Russia’s temporary occupation of Crimea and Sevastopol.