White House Says Not Considering Supporting' Putin's pitch to Trump for Referendum

White House Says Not Considering Supporting’ Putin’s pitch to Trump for Referendum

The White House said Friday it “is not considering supporting” a Vladimir-Putin-backed call for a referendum in eastern Ukraine in the aftermath of President Donald Trump’s meeting with the Russian president.

Russia’s ambassador to the U.S., Anatoly Antonov, revealed Friday that the two leaders had discussed the possibility of a referendum on separatist-leaning eastern Ukraine’s future during their Helsinki summit.

National Security Council spokesman Garrett Marquis said agreements between Russia and the Ukrainian government for resolving the conflict in the Donbas region “do not include any option for referendum.” He added any effort to organize a “so-called referendum” would have “no legitimacy.”

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The White House announcement comes as it laid out the agenda for an autumn summit between Trump and Putin in Washington that would focus on national security. Moscow signalled openness to a second formal meeting between the two leaders, as criticism of Trump over his first session with his Russian counterpart continued to swirl.

A White House official said the next Trump-Putin meeting would address national security concerns discussed in Helsinki, including Russian meddling. The official did not specify if that meant Russia’s interference in U.S. elections.

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