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Putin says Russia will respect the outcome of Ukraine's presidential election

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Moscow's biggest concern over the crisis in Ukraine was that the former Soviet republic would join NATO.

Putin economic forum may 23 2014Enlarge
Russia's President Vladimir Putin speaks at an economic forum in St. Petersburg on May 23, 2014. (MIKHAIL KLIMENTYEV/AFP/Getty Images)

Russian President Vladimir Putin told an investment forum on Friday that the Kremlin will respect the outcome of the presidential election in Ukraine scheduled for May 25.

"We will treat the choice of the Ukrainian people with respect," he said.

He said he was upbeat on the prospects for resolving the crisis in Ukraine and that doing so would help improve relations with the United States.

"I'm an optimist. I am not losing faith that the situation in Ukraine will at some point become normal and we will find the inner strength to normalize relations (with the United States)," Putin told the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum.

He also said that Russia did not want to isolate itself from the rest of the world and that it wanted to work with the United States on many projects.

"We are not planning any self-isolation," Putin said. "We hope that common sense ... will prompt our European and US partners to work with Russia."

Putin said that Moscow's biggest concern over the crisis in Ukraine was that the former Soviet republic would join NATO.

"Tomorrow Ukraine may join NATO, while the day after tomorrow parts of the US anti-missile system could be deployed there," he told an investment forum.

Russia has long been wary of the expansion of the military bloc into eastern Europe, and in particular former Soviet republics. Putin said last month Russia's decision to annex Crimea from Ukraine was partly influenced by concerns over NATO enlargement.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/140523/putin-says-he-will-respect-the-outcome-ukraines-presidential-ele