Moscow, July 21: Russian President Vladimir Putin told his country's diplomats that he had proposed to his American counterpart Donald Trump at their summit in Helsinki on July 16 to hold a referendum aiming to resolve the problem in eastern Ukraine but decided not to reveal the plan so that Trump could consider it, a couple of sources who were present at his closed-door speech made on Thursday, July 18, said on the condition of anonymity, Bloomberg reported.
Details of the first-ever summit between Trump and Putin remained largely unknown with the focus falling more on the former's pro-Russia words. Now, the revelations about Putin's plan for Ukraine, which the Kremlin invaded to annex Crimea in 2014, have given rise to fresh speculations over Russia's tense relations with Europe over the east European nation.
"While Putin portrayed the Ukraine offer as a sign he's seeking to bring the four-year-old crisis to an end, a referendum is likely to be a hard sell with Ukraine and its backers in Europe, who remain committed to a 2015 European-brokered truce deal for the Donbas region, parts of which are controlled by Russian-backed separatists," the Bloomberg report said.
The report added that the White House officials didn't immediately respond to a request to comment on the issue. It was also said that in Helsinki, Trump agreed to consider a proposal by his Russian counterpart to question a former American envoy to Russia over the US' campaign-finance violations that the critics felt Trump should have rubbished straightaway.
While neither the spokesperson of the Kremlin nor the Russian ambassador to the US gave details on Putin's proposals on Ukraine, the Bloomberg report added, Trump himself also made a touching mention of Ukraine in a tweet about the summit.