World Bulletin / News Desk
Russia will respect the outcome of Ukraine's upcoming presidential elections, President Vladimir Putin said Friday.
He expressed Russia's readiness to work with Kiev's new administration and added that he expected the new leadership to end the military operations in the eastern and southeastern Ukraine.
Speaking at an economy forum in St. Petersburg, the Russian leader said his country would have maintained a firm support to Ukraine if Kiev's current leadership had come to office not by a coup but by democratic elections.
The Ukrainians will go to polls on Sunday to choose their new president in the first round of elections that will see 21 candidates competing. Separatist forces in Donetsk and Luhansk vowed to prevent voting in rebel-held areas.
Regarding the annexation of Crimea in March, Putin said Russia's move prevented the peninsula from being gripped by uncertainties similar to the ones seen in Ukraine's east.
"If the Crimea's annexation had never occured, the incidents in eastern Ukraine would have happened in Crimea too. We have avoided this," he said.
Angered by the overthrow of Ukraine’s former President Viktor Yanukovych, Moscow-backed pro-Russia groups quickly seized and took control of the peninsula in late February.
A controversial referendum held on March 16 saw pro-Russia residents vote overwhelmingly in favor of joining the Russian Federation.
In another development, pro-Russian separatist leaders in Donetsk have announced a mobilization of their forces.
Denis Pushilin, one of the leaders of self-declared Donetsk People's Republic, reiterated that they would not allow the elections to be held in the region.
The country’s rebellious Donetsk and Lugansk regions, where heavily-armed, pro-Russia militants have fortified themselves in dozens of the regions’ cities see increasingly intense fighting as Ukrainian troops attempt to restore federal authority in areas held by separatist forces.Last Mod: 24 Mayıs 2014, 10:13