U.S. State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert has reacted to the Russian President's statement that the Crimean peninsula was illegally given to Ukraine during the Soviet Union. "Four years ago, the Crimean residents had to take part in an illegitimate referendum, being under control of the Russian armed forces. Russia's statement that residents have made a free choice is wrong" the State Department spokesman said. "We reinstate our position and respect Ukraine's territorial integrity. The Crimea is part of Ukraine. Our sanctions will stay in force until Russia returns to Ukraine's control over the Crimea" he said.