The Kremlin on Monday said it was “too early” to say whether it could work with Volodymyr Zelensky, the comedian who was elected to the Ukraine presidency in a weekend vote.
“It’s too early to talk about President (Vladimir) Putin congratulating Mr. Zelensky, or about the possibility of working together. It will only be possible to judge based on real actions,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said.
Peskov said that Moscow “respects the choice of the Ukrainian people.”
But he added that the fact that Ukrainian citizens living in Russia had been barred from participating in the vote “called into question the legitimacy of the election as a whole.”
Ukraine and Russia have been at loggerheads since a 2014 Kiev uprising ousted a pro-Kremlin leader. Russia that year annexed Crimea and has backed separatists in a conflict in eastern Ukraine that has killed some 13,000 people.
Shortly after Zelensky’s landslide victory on Sunday, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said the new leadership could be “a chance for improving cooperation with our country.”
However, he said he was under “no illusions” about the president-elect.
Zelensky, whose sole political experience so far has been limited to playing the role of president in a TV show, has vowed to stick to the pro-European course set by his predecessor.
He has said he will also try to improve ties with Moscow.