German Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman said Monday Berlin found it incomprehensible that "official Russian voices" should recognize an election held by pro-Russian separatists in east Ukraine.
Sunday's elections have been condemned by Kiev and its Western allies as illegal. Russia's Foreign Ministry was quoted on Monday as saying Moscow "respects" the outcome of the vote.
"It is all the more incomprehensible that there are official Russian voices that are respecting or even recognizing these socalled elections," spokesman Steffen Seibert told a regular government news conference.
The current developments in east Ukraine rule out any premature lifting of EU economic sanctions against Russia, he added. If the situation worsened, further sanctions may be necessary, Seibert said.