Donetsk: A presidential election in Ukraine set for May 25 seen by the West as vital to restoring order "will not happen" in the Donetsk region, the self-styled governor of the province said Monday.
Speaking to reporters a day after a referendum considered a farce by Kiev and the West, Denis Pushilin from the "People`s Republic of Donetsk" also said there would not be a vote on joining Russia next week as many had suspected.
Led by US President Barack Obama, Western powers have threatened to step up sanctions against Russia, which they blame for stoking unrest in eastern Ukraine, if the presidential election does not go ahead as planned.
Pushilin claimed he now had a mandate from the people after a "referendum" he said delivered a 89-percent result in favour of independence with a voter turnout of 75 percent.
"We have received sovereignty, the right to decide independently to enter into a confederation or federation with any country," he said.
"Which country that could be will be decided after consultations with our experts," he added.
Only Russia is likely to recognise the "People`s Republic of Donetsk" and the Kremlin has already said it "respects the expression of the people`s will" there.
Ominously, Pushilin said he reserves the right to call for a "peacekeeping contingent" if the security situation in the region deteriorated although he did not specify from where.
Moscow has also reserved the right to take military action to protect what it sees as the interests of Russian speakers in Ukraine.