July 2 (UPI) -- The Russian government said Monday political will power has succeeded in improving relations with the United States ahead of this month's summit between President Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters although there's "no doubt" about differences between Moscow and Washington, American "political will" has shifted the landscape in a positive direction.
"Political resolve has prevailed and at the moment, understanding is growing that such issues for discussion should not be an obstacle on the path to establishing and expanding bilateral dialogue, in this case at the top level," Peskov said.
Peskov, however, stopped short of saying there's been a "thaw" in relations.
"Let us not rush to speak about thaws," he said, adding the two sides must still "discuss and review the differences and sources of major concern in bilateral relations."
Trump and Putin are scheduled to meet on July 16 in Helsinki, Finland, to discuss "a range of national security issues."
One issue that won't be on the table, Peskov said, is Russia's 2014 annexation of Crimea -- a move that created tensions with a number of Western governments.
"The Russian president has stated many times and explained to his interlocutors that such an issue as Crimea cannot be and will never be on the agenda, as Crimea is an inalienable part of Russia," Peskov said. "All other issues are a matter of a consensus, for discussions and a search for possible common ground."
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders on Monday said the United States' stance on Crimea has not changed and that sanctions against Russia would remain in place until the territory is returned to Ukraine.
"We do not recognize Russia's attempt to annex Crimea," she told reporters during a daily press briefing.
Her comments came after Trump said he wouldn't rule out recognizing Crimea as a territory of Russia on Friday.
"We're going to have to see," Trump told reporters on Air Force One after asked whether opposition and sanctions would be dropped.
National security adviser John Bolton, though, said the administration would not change it's position.
"I think the president often says 'we'll see' to show that he's willing to talk to foreign leaders about a range of issues and hear their perspective," Bolton told CBS' Face the Nation on Sunday.
"I don't think Assad is the strategic issue. I think Iran is the strategic issue," U.S. national security adviser John Bolton said Sunday.