Ukraine crisis: Vladimir Putin says Russia 'will respect' Ukrainian vote
Russian leader blames Washington for backing 'coup' against Yanukovych
Russian president Vladimir Putin has said the crisis in Ukraine has descended into a full-scale civil war, but insisted that Moscow will "respect" the outcome of Sunday's presidential elections.
Speaking at the annual St Petersburg economic forum, Mr Putin blamed the United States for backing the ousting of former president Viktor Yanukovych, which, according to the Russian leader, has plunged Ukraine into "chaos and full-scale civil war".
His comments come just a day after Ukrainian government troops suffered the worst losses against pro-Russian insurgents in a deadly attack on Thursday morning in the east of Ukraine, where pro-Moscow militiamen have seized government buildings and clashed with Kiev forces.
At least 14 Ukrainian soldiers were killed in the raid and more than 30 wounded at a checkpoint in the village of Blahodatne, 20 miles from the city of Donetsk, with tensions running high ahead of presidential elections on Sunday.
On the same day, up to 500 insurgents attacked a convoy of government troops outside the eastern village of Rubizhne.
According to Ukraine's Defense Ministry 20 insurgents were killed and one soldier was killed on Friday in a separate clash in the same area.
Speaking on Friday Mr Putin said Russia will "respect" the outcome of the vote and "the voice of the Ukrainian people", but insisted that Mr Yanukovych was forced to resign and remains president under the current constitution, adding: "It would have been better to hold a referendum and adopt a new constitution."
Polls show chocolate billionaire Petro Poroshenko with a commanding lead but falling short of the absolute majority needed to win in the first round on Sunday; his nearest challenger is Yulia Tymoshenko, who is trailing by a significant margin.
Western leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande, have warned that a new round of economic sanctions would follow if the 25 May elections fail to go ahead as planned.
- 1 What happens to your body when you give up sugar?
- 2 Japanese island overrun with cats after population explodes
- 3 Delhi bus rapist blames dead victim for attack because 'girls are responsible for rape'
- 4 Have sex with your iPad thanks to the new sex toy no-one asked for
- 5 Average penis size revealed: Scientists attempt to find what is 'normal' to reassure concerned men
California teacher appears to have hanged herself in her classroom
The City of the Monkey God: Archaeologists claim to have found city lost for 1,000 years in remote Honduran jungle
Japanese island overrun with cats after population explodes
Delhi bus rapist blames dead victim for attack because 'girls are responsible for rape'
Bubonic plague-carrying fleas found on New York City rats
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Durham Free School: 'Creationism taught at' free school facing closure
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
Ukraine crisis: Top Chinese diplomat backs Putin and says West should 'abandon zero-sum mentality'
£40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a critical role within the secur...
£20000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The company is an established, ...
£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Exciting new position available at an independ...