Russian President Vladimir Putin has called on separatists in eastern Ukraine to postpone plans to conduct referendums on self-determination planned for May 11, RFE/RL reports.
Speaking after meeting today with Swiss President Didier Burkhalter, whose country currently holds the rotating chairmanship of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Putin called on the pro-Russian separatists to hold their referendums at a later date.
At the same time Putin called on authorities in Kyiv to immediately halt security operations in eastern Ukraine aimed at wresting control of several cities and towns from the pro-Russian separatists.
Putin also said the planned presidential elections in Ukraine, set for May 25, were a "step in the right dircetion" but would not help solve that country's problems and he blamed the "organizers of the February coup [in Ukraine]" for allowing the situation in their country to get out of control.
Putin said Russia's approach to resolving the conflict in Ukraine, and the approach of the OSCE coincide "to a substantial degree."