(Adds quotes, context)
MOSCOW May 20 Sunday's presidential election in
Ukraine will deepen political divisions in the country if there
is no end to hostilities and a "road map" to end the crisis is
not implemented, a senior Russian official was quoted as saying
Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin's remarks were the
latest from Moscow to cast doubt on whether Russia will consider
the election legitimate.
In a report on talks between Karasin and British ambassador
to Russia Tim Barrow, the Foreign Ministry underlined the
importance of the "road map" drawn up by the Organization for
Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and constitutional
reforms following an agreement reached at talks in Geneva.
"Without the implementation of these agreements, and the
immediate cessation of hostilities by (Ukrainian) army units
southeastern regions, the May 25 election can only worsen the
differences in the country," the ministry said.
At the talks in Geneva, the United States, Russia, Ukraine
and the European Union agreed moves to ease tensions in Ukraine,
following Russia's annexation of the Crimean peninsula and the
seizure of buildings in the east by pro-Russian forces.
President Vladimir Putin has said Sunday's election could be
"a step in the right direction" but other Russian officials have
signalled Moscow may not recognise the outcome, especially if
Kiev continues to use the armed forces in eastern Ukraine.
The pro-Western authorities in Kiev, who are not recognised
by Moscow, have deployed military and security forces in the
east to try to regain control of buildings seized by the
The Russian Foreign Ministry said these operations "block
any real steps towards de-escalation of the situation".
Russia also wants constitutional reforms to give more
autonomy to mainly Russian-speaking regions in the east.
(Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin and Timothy Heritage, Editing
by Steve Gutterman)