MOSCOW - Russian President Vladimir Putin's spokesman on Monday dismissed Western accusations against Russia over the Ukraine crisis and said Washington and Brussels were not doing enough to prevent the raging violence in the country.
Speaking to broadsheet Kommersant in an interview published on Monday, Dmitry Peskov called US and EU accusations of Russia fostering unrest in eastern Ukraine "absolute nonsense".
"Why could the West not prevent the use of armoured vehicles in Slavyansk and Kramatorsk and avoid the shooting of peaceful people? They have not used their influence and they face nothing (for it), but Russia ends up being guilty," he said.
"They don't care how agreements are being implemented, if a dialogue is being conducted, whether the shooting has been halted," he added.
"The most important thing for them is to conduct elections and put an end to the legal issue about the legitimacy of the coup they have organised." Ukraine is gearing up to hold snap presidential elections on May 25 after protests in February forced out pro-Moscow president Viktor Yanukovych.
The West said that if Russia disrupts the vote it would face a new round of sanctions.
Peskov said Putin would issue a public comment on rebel-held referendums in eastern Ukraine held on Sunday once the final results are known.
Pro-Moscow militants in the eastern region of Lugansk and Donetsk held the votes despite Putin's surprise request last week to postpone them.
Peskov said Putin did not ask but merely "recommended" that the rebels push back the votes, saying they had essentially been forced to conduct the referendums by "the situation on the ground".
"Even taking into account the Russian president's authority, it was hard to heed it (the request)," Peskov said.