Ukraine's ambassador to the UN said Thursday he was "almost sure" that if elected, US Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump would not recognize the annexed Crimean peninsula as part of Russia.
The comment came after Trump left open a question on whether he would consider recognizing Crimea as Russian territory and lift sanctions on the country during a press conference on Wednesday.
"We'll be looking at that," Trump said. "Yeah, we'll be looking."
The evasive answer seemed to create an opening for Russia, whose March 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine led to fierce condemnation from the international community and heavy sanctions from many countries, including the US.
The UN General Assembly condemned the annexation and reaffirmed Crimea as part of Ukraine in a 2014 resolution.
"I'm pretty sure that any US government would pay full respect to those decisions," said Volodymyr Yelchenko, the Ukrainian ambassador.
Yelchenko stressed Trump was not US president - "at least yet."
"If this is his opinion as a candidate for the president of the United States, well, this is his opinion," he said. "I hope and I'm almost sure that this opinion will change."
The White House reiterated Thursday that US policy on the Crimea was clear and that there was broad international condemnation of Russia for its actions.
"The United States has been very direct about our view that the attempted annexation of Crimea by Russia is a flagrant violation, an egregious violation of international norms," spokesman Josh Earnest said. "And it's not a violation that the United States is prepared to tolerate."