MOSCOW, May 12 (UPI) -- Russia said Monday the eastern Ukrainian referendums called for dialogue between easterners and the Kiev government, offering no recognition of the outcome.
The Ukrainian government branded Sunday's contested referendums illegal, in which voters in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions voted overwhelmingly for annexation with Russia. The results received only reserved approval from Moscow.
A statement from the Kremlin said it "respects the will of the population," and suggested the outcome of the turmoil in Ukraine should be greater autonomy for the eastern regions, to be brought about through dialogue with Kiev. The statement did not say it recognized the results of the referendums. Prior to the vote, Russian President Vladimir Putin urged the referendums' postponement.
By comparison, Russia announced an annexation of Crimea within 48 hours of an approving referendum in March.
The statement came as Ukraine prepares for national elections May 25, and diplomatic efforts have increased to find a solution to the crisis. The European Union intensified its efforts to obtain Russian approval of the election, with EU Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier of Germany announcing he would travel to Kiev and then Paris on Tuesday.