A senior Kremlin aide has reiterated Russia's "respect" for elections held by pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine but said Moscow has deliberately stopped short of saying it "recognizes" the votes.
Yuri Ushakov, President Vladimir Putin's foreign policy aide, told reporters on November 7 that Russia set out its position in a Foreign Ministry statement on November 3 that said it "respects the will" of residents who voted in the elections, which were condemned as illegitimate by Ukraine and the West.
Asked whether that was the same as recognizing the elections, Ushakov said it was not.
"These are different words. The word 'respect' was chosen deliberately. We fundamentally respect the voters' expression of will."
Ushakov said Russia remains committed to a September 5 cease-fire in eastern Ukraine and wants further talks to be held to build on peace moves.
Ushakov said that there was no specific plan for a meeting between Putin and U.S. President Barack Obama during upcoming summits in Asia, but that they would have good opportunities to meet "on their feet."