MOSCOW (Reuters) - Moscow has received no formal request from separatists in the eastern Ukrainian region of Donetsk to bring it into Russia following a referendum for self-determination last weekend, the Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman said on Thursday.
The remark may have been aimed at assuaging concerns in Kiev and the West that Moscow could seek to annex the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, as it did with Crimea following a March referendum vote there in which a majority voted to join Russia.
Asked at a news conference whether Russia has received a request to absorb the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, Lukashevich said: “I have not heard about any official request that has been received.”
After the referendums in eastern Ukraine on May 11, the leader of pro-Moscow separatists in Donetsk said: “We ask the Russian Federation to consider the absorption of (the region).” Separatists in neighboring Luhansk province said they might hold a second vote on joining Russia.
The Russian government has stopped short of endorsing independence for Donetsk and Luhansk or their absorption into Russia, but has said the interim government in Kiev cannot ignore the results and must enter talks with representatives of the regions.
Reporting by Thomas Grove, Writing by Steve Gutterman