The United States will not recognize Crimea as part of Russia, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo asserted on Wednesday, unveiling an eagerly awaited hard position from the United States at a time of heightened tensions between the two superpowers.
“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,” Pompeo said in a statement issued on the day he testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker began the high-profile hearing with Pompeo asking him to “convince us that those at the White House know what they are doing and that, to be candid, you know what they are doing.”
Corker said he was looking for a “clear understanding” of what is exactly behind President Donald Trump’s recent eyebrow raising statements on NATO and Russian election interference.
Watch: Pompeo, Menendez Clash on Trump’s Private Meeting with Putin, North Korea in Hearing
Meanwhile, Pompeo also announced at the hearing that American pastor Andrew Brunson was earlier in the day released from jail in Turkey though he is under house arrest on charges that the United States says are unjustified .
Securing Brunson’s freedom has become a high-profile bipartisan rallying cry on Capitol Hill and a growing thorn in the side of U.S.-Turkey relations