German Chancellor Angela Merkel told Russian President Vladimir Putin on the phone that elections planned for Sunday in eastern Ukraine were illegitimate and would not be recognised by European leaders, a Berlin government spokesman said on Friday. Ms Merkel and Mr Putin held a joint telephone conversation with French President Francois Hollande and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, Ms Merkel’s spokesman Georg Streiter said at a government news conference. He said in the call there were diverging opinions on Sunday’s “so-called elections” in the self-proclaimed people’s republics of Donetsk and Luhansk. “Merkel and Hollande underlined that there can only be a ballot in line with Ukrainian law,” he said, adding that the vote would violate an agreement endorsed by Russia and further complicate efforts to end the crisis in eastern Ukraine. Sunday’s separatist poll is aimed at electing leaders and a parliament in a self-proclaimed autonomous republic.
“The German government will not recognise these illegitimate elections,” Ms Merkel’s spokesman said. European leaders were united on this issue and had agreed on this at a summit last week in Brussels.
More than 3700 people have been killed in fighting in eastern Ukraine, where pro-Moscow rebels seek union with Russia. A ceasefire has been in force since September but there have been isolated flareups of fighting.
A 12-point protocol, issued after talks in early September in the Belarussian capital of Minsk involving Russia, Ukraine, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe and separatist leaders, foresees the holding of “early local elections” in the east in accordance with Ukrainian legislation.
Full Article: Europe, Russia at odds over early eastern Ukraine elections.