Kremlin says Ukraine peace plan mooted by lawmaker 'absurd'

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov speaks during a news briefing on the sidelines of the Russia-ASEAN summit in Sochi, Russia, May 19, 2016. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin

MOSCOW (Reuters) - The Kremlin said on Monday it had no prior knowledge of a Ukrainian lawmaker’s peace plan for his country, which was detailed in the New York Times newspaper, and called it absurd anyway.

The U.S. newspaper reported that Andrii Artemenko, a Ukrainian lawmaker, had sent a proposal to associates of U.S. President Donald Trump that was designed to end a simmering conflict in eastern Ukraine between pro-Russian separatists and government forces.

According to the New York Times, the mooted plan would entail Russian forces withdrawing from eastern Ukraine and Ukrainian voters deciding in a referendum whether Crimea, which Moscow annexed from Ukraine in 2014, would be leased to Russia for a term of 50 or 100 years.

Moscow denies it has any troops in Ukraine and has repeatedly said it will not even discuss the status of Crimea.

When asked about the New York Times report, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on a conference call on Monday that Artemenko’s proposal had not previously been known to the Kremlin and that it was absurd.

“There’s nothing to talk about. How can Russia rent its own region from itself?” said Peskov.

The only way the Ukraine crisis could be resolved was through the Minsk peace accords, said Peskov.

Reporting by Aleksandar Vasovic; Writing by Andrew Osborn; Editing by Alexander Winning