UK & World News
Putin Vows To Respect Ukraine Poll Result
Vladimir Putin has said Russia will recognise the outcome of Ukraine's presidential election, but slammed the West for imposing economic sanctions on his country.
He also blamed the West for plunging Ukraine into what he described as "chaos and a full-scale civil war" since the country's former president was overthrown months ago.
But Mr Putin tried to strike a more conciliatory note when he said he is ready to work with the new Ukrainian leadership and insisted Moscow wants peace and order restored in its neighbour.
Speaking at an investment forum in St Petersburg, the Russian president said: "We will treat the choice of the Ukrainian people with respect."
His comments came a day after pro-Russian insurgents attacked a military checkpoint in eastern Ukrainian town of Volnovakh, reportedly killing at least 13 troops and wounding more than 30.
Militants have been seizing government buildings in eastern Ukraine and fighting government troops for more than a month.
Mr Putin also said Russia does not want to isolate itself from the rest of the world and wants to work with Washington on many projects.
"We are not planning any self-isolation," Mr Putin said.
"We hope that common sense ... will prompt our European and US partners to work with Russia."
He said Washington's "unipolar" vision of the world had failed and sanctions imposed on Russia over the Ukraine crisis would have a "boomerang effect" on the West.
"Isn't it obvious that economic sanctions as a tool of political pressure in the modern interdependent world have a boomerang effect and finally will affect the businesses and economies of the countries that initiated them?" he said.
The EU and the US have imposed sanctions on some of Mr Putin's aides and other officials, freezing their assets and imposing visa bans.
Twenty-one candidates are competing on Sunday to become Ukraine's next leader.
However, it will be impossible to hold the vote in some areas in the east - especially in Donetsk and Luhansk, where insurgents have declared independence and pledged to derail the vote.
Polls show billionaire candy-maker Petro Poroshenko with a commanding lead but falling short of the absolute majority needed to win in the first round.
His nearest challenger is Yulia Tymoshenko, the divisive former prime minister.
Russia annexed Ukraine's southern Crimea Peninsula in March, triggering the worst crisis in relations with the West since the Cold War.