Russia plans to send wheelchair-bound singer Julia Samoylova, 27, to the Eurovision Song Contest in the Ukrainian capital Kiev in May, despite a potential ban because she has performed in Russian-annexed Crimea.
Samoylova, who suffers from a rare muscular disorder, performed in the Crimean city of Kerch in mid-2015, more than a year after Russia occupied and annexed the Ukrainian region, the site of a major Russian naval base on the Black Sea.
Samoylova has also performed at the 2014 Winter Paralympics in the Russian city of Sochi and has won much acclaim in Russia, including being presented with an annual award by revered veteran singer Alla Pugacheva.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Monday that sending Samoylova is "not a provocation."
"Practically everyone has been to Crimea. There is hardly anyone who has not travelled there," Peskov said in comments carried by state news agency TASS.
Ukraine, which won last year's Eurovision contest with a song about Soviet-era repressions in Crimea, has refused to allow Russians to enter the country if they have supported the annexation of Crimea.
Russia annexed the peninsula in early 2014 in response to Ukraine ousting its pro-Russian president amid mass protests calling for closer ties with the West. Russia has denounced the ouster as a Western-backed coup.