Russia Will Respect the Choice of Ukrainian People, Putin Says

May. 23 2014 — 16:33
Russia's President Vladimir Putin (L) attends a session of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum 2014 (SPIEF 2014) in St. Petersburg, Russia.

St. Petersburg — Russia will respect the choice of the Ukrainian people in a presidential election on Sunday, Russian President Vladimir Putin told a crowd of top government officials and business executives at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum on Friday.

"We want to calm the situation and we will respect any choice Ukrainian people make," Putin said.

Animosity between Russia and the West has spiked over the ongoing political crisis in Ukraine. Russia's annexation of Crimea has prompted Western nations to sanction dozens of Russian individuals and companies since March in an effort to strong-arm Russia to fall into line with Western policy.

Putin said Sunday's vote will still be illegitimate in accordance with the Ukrainian constitution, but that Russia will respect it in order to mitigate ongoing violence in the former Soviet country.

"I just hope the violence will halt after these elections. We will work with the new Ukrainian authorities," Putin said.

Unlike for the U.S., Putin said, Ukraine is a vital country for Russia, and this is why the crisis is not subsiding.

"I personally deal with the Ukrainian crisis, while in the U.S. it is treated on a technical level," Putin said.

Russia Wins Gold at Rio Olympics
The flame for the 2016 Summer Olympics was extinguished in Brazil's Rio de Janeiro on Sunday, symbolizing the end of the Games. Russia finished fourth ...
Best of Moscow: Eight Ways to Enjoy the Last Gasp of Summer
A Moscow winter may not carry quite the same connotations as one in “Game of Thrones,” but it certainly signals the end of ...
Best of Moscow: Eight Ways to Enjoy the Last Gasp of Summer
A Moscow winter may not carry quite the same connotations ...
Russia Puts Privatization on the Back Burner
The privatization of shipping company Sovcomflot has been postponed to 2017, according to a Federal Property Management Agency ...