Russian officials are throwing their support behind Ukrainian separatist rebels’ planned elections for their own parliaments after warnings from Ukrainian leaders in Kiev that no power in the world will recognize the proclaimed independence of the Donetsk and Luhansk “people’s republics.” “It is necessary to create conditions for the elections rather than to dissuade people from them,” said Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich. He was responding to Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin’s appeal Thursday for the Kremlin to dissuade its eastern Ukraine proxies from going through with the divisive vote. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko disbanded the Supreme Council in late August and set early nationwide elections for Oct. 26 so that Ukrainians could elect representatives whose political leanings reflect the dramatically changed situation in the country over the last year.
Since Kremlin-allied President Viktor Yanukovich was driven out of office in February by protesters who viewed his policies as subjugating Ukraine’s economy and independence to Russia, the ousted leader’s allies have been occupying government buildings and security compounds and proclaiming independence from Kiev’s rule.
Six months of fighting between the Russia-backed separatists and Ukrainian forces has left more than 3,600 people dead and much of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, home to 6.5 million people, under rebel control. Poroshenko offered the separatists a more autonomous relationship within Ukraine last month but they rejected it, saying they want independence.