DONETSK Ukraine (Reuters) - Russia said it "respects the will of the people of southeast" Ukraine following elections on Sunday for rebel leadership in the separatist regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, Interfax reported the foreign ministry as saying.
"The elected representatives received a mandate to solve the practical tasks regarding the restoration of normal life in the regions," Interfax quoted the ministry as saying.
Kiev says the elections violate the Minsk agreements which underpin a fragile ceasefire deal between Ukraine and the pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, known as the Donbass region.
"It is extremely important to undertake active steps to establish sustained dialogue between the central Ukrainian authorities and the representatives of the Donbass in line with Minsk agreements."
(Reporting by Thomas Grove; Editing by Eric Walsh)