Putin has changed a bit his discourse on Ukraine and now says that “the presidential election the Kiev authorities plan to hold is a step in the right direction”. He said so in a press conference after a meeting with the President of Switzerland and OSCE Chairman-in-Office Didier Burkhalter in the Kremlin. Putin urged also to the pro-Russian separatists in southeast Ukraine to “hold off” the referendum they had scheduled for May 11, next Sunday, before the presidential election set for May 25.
This came a day after US Secretary of State John Kerry said in a joint press conference with the EU Foreign High Representative Catherine Ashton that “if Russian elements continue to sabotage the democratic process and prevent Ukraine from holding a free and fair election 19 days from now on the 25th, then we stand ready to implement additional sanctions. And the “we” is Europe and the United States together.”
Putin considers that postpone the referendum in Donetsk and Luhansk would give a chance to the dialogue. “We think the most important thing now is to launch direct dialogue, genuine, full-fledged dialogue between the Kiev authorities and representatives of southeast Ukraine. This dialogue could give people from southeast Ukraine the chance to see that their lawful rights in Ukraine really will be guaranteed.” he said.
Too late for a call when the situation on the ground is a military operation going on against self-proclaimed popular republics that have all ready for the referendum to be held in just four days.
In fact, the separatists said today they will go ahead with the referendum of auto determination in Donetsk and Luhansk this Sunday anyway, according to the agency RIA Novosti.