Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov sat down with Bloomberg Television and said that Ukraine “is as close to civil war as you can get” and the situation in east Ukraine will make it hard for Kyiv to hold presidential elections on May 25.
“When Ukrainians kill Ukrainians I believe this is as close to a civil war as you can get,” Lavrov said in an interview with Bloomberg television.
Lavrov added that “in east and south of Ukraine there is a war, a real war, with heavy weaponry used.
“And if this is conducive to free and fair elections then I don’t recognise what free and fair is.”
On May 11, the “Donetsk People’s Republic” held a referendum in Donetsk and Luhansk to vote on freedom from Ukraine. The DPR announced over 90% of the people voted for the self-reliant “state” and hours later asked Moscow to join the Russian Federation. However, Ukraine and the West did not recognize the referendum. The ballots were printed on regular paper with no watermark to prevent fraud and there were no electoral rolls at the polling stations. Journalists noted voting violations, including one man who left a booth with five ballots. The day before the referendum a car was found with 100,000 ballots marked YES.
While Lavrov and Russia hints the May 25 presidential elections will not be fair and free, Moscow was quick to accept the DPR referendum despite the obvious fraud.
Lavrov also said the pro-Russians should be invited to the round table talks taking place in Kyiv. These talks began Wednesday and included politicians, religious leaders, and regional politicians. Interim President Oleksandr Turchynov said Kyiv is ready to hold talks with people in east Ukraine, but not the “terrorists” responsible for capturing government buildings and bloodshed. On Tuesday, seven soldiers were killed by pro-Russians at a checkpoint outside of Kramatorsk.
There are over 40,000 Russian troops on Ukraine’s border and Lavrov once again promised Moscow will not invade Ukraine. He did note, though, if NATO even tried to provide membership to Ukraine “it would be an issue for Russia” and “its inclusion in the alliance would hurt European security.”