MOSCOW, April 22. /TASS/. New points of tension between Moscow and Kiev may emerge following the Ukrainian presidential election, head of the Russian Center for Current Politics Alexei Chesnakov told TASS on Monday.
"The parties have not yet used up their arsenals of sanctions against each other and may take various symbolic steps to show their determination to go all the way," he said.
According to the expert, both in Moscow and Kiev, there are "influential groups that consider raising the stakes to be an effective tool for maintaining the standoff."
"Russia values the existence of the DPR and LPR [the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics - TASS] because they keep Ukraine from joining NATO and the European Union," Chesnakov pointed out. "There is no other leverage left. Facing the risk of losing this asset, Moscow may start issuing Russian passports to Donbass residents or make other decisions aimed at either forcing Kiev to agree to a compromise or at making the West admit that Ukraine cannot be integrated in the long run, as long as the risk of escalating tensions remains in the country’s east," he emphasized.
The expert did not rule out that Ukraine might also up the stakes, particularly "by provoking local clashes in Donbass, in the Black Sea or the Sea of Azov, seeking to increase the West’s involvement in its standoff with Russia."
However, in Chesnakov’s words, escalating tensions do not mean a war between the two countries. "Such devastating developments are unlikely to happen although the risk is still there," he noted.
Ukraine’s presidential runoff took place on April 21. With over 97% of the vote counted, leader of the Servant of the People political party Vladimir Zelensky has received 73.14% in Ukraine’s presidential runoff, while incumbent President Pyotr Poroshenko gained 24.53%.