RIA Novosti reports that Russian President Vladimir Putin has expressed Russia’s position towards the presidential elections in Ukraine due this weekend at the St.Petersburg Economic Forum. He stated that Moscow will respect the choice of the Ukrainian people and is ready to cooperate with the newly chosen authorities. He also expressed hope that the two countries will reach an agreement on the gas supply to Ukraine despite the still outstanding debt.
Kiev welcomed these statements and experts agreed that they constitute one of the major results of the Forum. Despite the wide range of subjects covered by President in his speech, the discussion centered on the situation in Ukraine.
The Ukrainian presidential elections are scheduled for the 25th of May. The elections will have an appalling backdrop consisting of a deep political crisis and a large scale military operation against civilians in the east of the country.
“We will respect the choice of the Ukrainian people although we will, of course, see where things are going”, said Putin at the plenary of the Forum on Friday.
He mentioned that it would have been much smarter for Ukraine to hold a referendum, change the constitution based on the results and base the government on the new constitution, including a new parliament and a new president. Russian President also mentioned that, according to the constitution of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych still remains the acting President of the country.
According to Putin, Russia will cooperate with the newly elected government after the May 25th elections and is hopeful that the military actions will cease. “We are working today with people in power (in Kiev) but after the elections we will certainly work together with the newly elected bodies”, said Russian President.
Russian Head of State also stated that he hopes new government in Ukraine will be able to start a dialogue with its own citizens. “Try to imagine, how can we discuss things, meet, talk peacefully and at the same time there are tanks shelling civilians? They must do something about the situation there”, said Putin.
Putin evaluates the situation in Ukraine as an anti-constitutional coup, supported by Western countries, that led to deep chaos and civil war. In his opinion, the power in Kiev could have been changed peacefully through elections, in which case Russia could continue supporting Ukrainian economics.
“They should have gone for elections and the same people would have been in power now, only legally. We would be still paying them 15 billions (dollars) that we promised and kept the low gas prices supporting their economy like the idiots that we are”, he said.
Russia decided to support Ukraine back in 2013 and started to invest $15 billion into Ukrainian government securities but has stopped after the coup in Ukraine. Russia has lowered the prices to $268,5 per thousand cubic meter from the original $404 average in 2013 but cancelled the discounts after Ukraine failed to uphold its side of the agreements.
Putin mentioned that the situation in Ukraine is important for Russia and said he was sure that the situation will calm down and Ukraine and Russia will be able to normalize the relationship once again.
“I am an optimist, I am not losing my certainty that the situation in Ukraine will calm down one way or another and we will find resources to normalize our relationship”, said he.