Russia’s President Vladimir Putin says Ukraine’s presidential election on 25 May is a step “in the right direction”.
But he said the 25 May vote would decide nothing unless the rights of “all citizens” were protected.
Mr Putin also urged pro-Russian activists in south-eastern Ukraine to call off a series of independence referendums planned for this weekend.
It comes amid high tension between Russia and Kiev, and its allies in the West, over the crisis in Ukraine.
Moscow says it will protect the rights of the largely Russian-speaking people in the south and east against what it calls an undemocratic government in Kiev.
This may mean that he’s about to invade.