“We must follow the general principles of the international law, and the people of Novorossiya have the right to decide their own fate,” he said.
Luhansk and Donetsk, two regions in the southeast of Ukraine, held independence referendums in April in a bid to split from Ukraine after it went through a painful coup two months before. The separation bid came in the wake of Crimea's successful vote to break away from the country and reunite with Russia in March.
Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov assused Kiev on Tuesday that Moscow never regarded Donetsk and Luhansk provinces – the self-styled people's republics, or DPR and LPR – as yet "another Crimea". He vowed that Russia respected Ukraine's integrity, but added that Crimea, historically a Russian territory with a majority Russian population, was a "unique" case.
Donetsk and Luhansk created an alliance called Novorossiya in spring to present a united front against Kiev, prompting it to launch a violent military operation to crack down on independence supporters.