A new report from Bloomberg claims that Russian President Vladimir Putin made a proposal to President Donald Trump to resolve the dispute over the annexed territory of Crimea — and that Trump was receptive to it, so long as Putin kept it under wraps.
Sources tell Bloomberg that Putin pitched holding a popular referendum in Crimea so that its citizens could decide if they wanted to stay as part of Russia or return to Ukraine, which held the territory until Russia annexed it in 2014.
During the discussion, Putin “agreed not to disclose the plan publicly so the U.S. president could consider it,” according to Bloomberg’s sources.
The publication writes that Ukrainian officials will likely be “alarmed” by Putin’s proposal — and even more so by Trump’s willingness to consider it. As the report notes, Ukrainian officials in the past have accused Russia of rigging elections in the disputed territories to make it seem as though there is more popular support for the Russian annexation than there really is.
“Leaders of so-called rebel republics in Donetsk and Luhansk held referendums in May 2014 that declared independence,” Bloomberg explains. “The votes were rejected as illegal by the U.S. and the European Union, while Ukraine called them a “farce.” Russia said at the time that it “respects” the votes, which showed as much as 96 percent support for breaking away from Ukraine.”