East Ukraine's Incorporation 'Hypothetical' - Russian FM
The prospect of annexing the east of Ukraine to the Russian Federation is a "hypothetical question", Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Wednesday.
In an interview for Bloomberg TV, Lavrov explained that what was important in the Ukraine crisis was not about incorporation of territories, but about "how people will feel in this country".
The Foreign Minister made the comment when asked whether Russia could guarantee it did not want to conquer the east of Ukraine. He was also clear Russia had "no intention" of sending troops anywhere.
Speaking of the May 25 presidential elections in Ukraine, Lavrov said the vote could not hold legitimacy if impeded by fighting and stressed the situation was not favourable for having such a poll. It would be results of the elections that will help Moscow assess their legitimacy, he added.
He also spoke of a "real war" between Kiev government forces and pro-Russian separatists, adding the Ukraine was "as close to civil war as it can be".
Russia's Foreign Minister warned against attempts to grant NATO membership to Ukraine, describing any similar move as "an issue for Russia" and would substantially harm European security.
His words came days after a "self-government" referendum in Ukraine's Donetsk and Luhansk regions reportedly showed support for independence from Kiev, amid weeks-long occupation of government buildings across the country's east and south organized by pro-Russian rebels.
Leadership representatives from the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic and Luhansk People's Republic have announced another poll is to later determine whether their regions should join Russia.
After the referendum results were announced, Lavrov called for urgent talks between Kiev and the east of Ukraine.
Round-table talks brokered by the OSCE were scheduled in Ukraine's capital between government and regional representatives are under way, but without protesters' participation.
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