News / Europe

Ukraine's Poroshenko Plans New Team to Take on Putin

Ukraine's President-elect Petro Poroshenko shows the presidential seal during his inauguration ceremony in the parliament hall in Kyiv, June 7, 2014.
Ukraine's President-elect Petro Poroshenko shows the presidential seal during his inauguration ceremony in the parliament hall in Kyiv, June 7, 2014.
Reuters
Ukraine's newly-installed President Petro Poroshenko is set to remake a governing team which will handle the crisis with Russia, with talks on gas prices on Monday providing an early test of his new relationship with Russia's Vladimir Putin.

Poroshenko's swearing-in as president at a pomp-filled, but relaxed, ceremony on Saturday conveyed the feeling that a line had been drawn under six months of unprecedented and bloody upheaval which toppled his predecessor, Viktor Yanukovich.

But behind the euphoria that Ukraine might now, at last, start to "Live in a new way", as Poroshenko's campaign slogan has promised, lies the reality of seething separatism in the east in which Ukraine sees Moscow's hand, and Russia's opposition to his plans to lead Ukraine into mainstream Europe.

Poroshenko's blunt refusal to accept the loss of Crimea in a combative inaugural speech puts him further at odds with Putin.
 
Ukraine's President-elect Petro Poroshenko, left, walks past Russian President Vladimir Putin during the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the D-Day in Ouistreham, western France, June 6, 2014.Ukraine's President-elect Petro Poroshenko, left, walks past Russian President Vladimir Putin during the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the D-Day in Ouistreham, western France, June 6, 2014.
x
Ukraine's President-elect Petro Poroshenko, left, walks past Russian President Vladimir Putin during the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the D-Day in Ouistreham, western France, June 6, 2014.
Ukraine's President-elect Petro Poroshenko, left, walks past Russian President Vladimir Putin during the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the D-Day in Ouistreham, western France, June 6, 2014.

An indication of whether Putin is ready to give the 48-year-old businessman-politician some early breaks or test him in his first days in office may come in trilateral talks in Brussels on Monday aimed at solving a dispute over the price of Russian gas.

Russia has threatened to cut off supplies to its neighbor, a major gas transit route to the European Union, if it fails to pay its debts to Gazprom by Tuesday.

In early steps to install key allies, Poroshenko is expected in the coming days to name new foreign and defense ministers.

The rebellions, in which pro-Russian separatists have declared "people's republics", have claimed scores of lives in clashes between government forces and armed militias. Militia leaders declared on Saturday they would not give up their fight.

These are not the only challenges facing Poroshenko. He inherits a country on the verge of bankruptcy which is rated by monitoring agencies as one of Europe's most corrupt and ill-governed.

Crimea

Poroshenko, a billionaire from a confectionery business with big experience in government, says he is pen-poised to sign an association and trade agreement this month with the EU.

His pledge to stick to West-leaning policies was quickly rewarded in the shape of aid worth $48 million from Washington to go towards economic reform.

The EU agreement - which Yanukovich spurned, sparking street protests that finally drove him from office - will take Ukraine into a free-trade zone with the European Union, thwarting Putin's ambition of keeping Kyiv in his sphere of influence.

Putin, who is under threat of further Western sanctions over his Ukraine policies, warned on Friday that as soon as Ukraine signed the agreement and it came into force Russia would be obliged to take steps to defend its economy and its markets.

In his inaugural speech, Poroshenko vowed he would never accept the loss of Crimea which Russia annexed in March following the fall of the Moscow-backed Yanukovich. He declared: "Crimea was, is and will be Ukrainian soil". But the reality on the ground is that there are few, if any, forces that can persuade Russia to hand the territory back.

A greater priority, analysts say, must be to end the rebellions which threaten Poroshenko's vision of a unitary state.

He reached out to the people of the east on Saturday promising to guarantee their Russian-language rights and the prospect of a bigger say in running their own affairs.

He offered rebels an amnesty if they laid down their weapons and a secure corridor back to Russia for Russian fighters.

But - as with almost all the problems facing Poroshenko - ending the rebellions requires the goodwill and cooperation of others, in this case that of Putin.

New ministers

In what might be a positive signal from Moscow, Russian news agencies reported Putin had ordered the Federal Security Service to strengthen protection of the border with Ukraine and prevent people crossing illegally.
 
An armed pro-Russian separatist guards a border post abandoned by Ukrainian border guards at Chervonopartyzansk along the Ukraine-Russia border, June 7 2014.An armed pro-Russian separatist guards a border post abandoned by Ukrainian border guards at Chervonopartyzansk along the Ukraine-Russia border, June 7 2014.
x
An armed pro-Russian separatist guards a border post abandoned by Ukrainian border guards at Chervonopartyzansk along the Ukraine-Russia border, June 7 2014.
An armed pro-Russian separatist guards a border post abandoned by Ukrainian border guards at Chervonopartyzansk along the Ukraine-Russia border, June 7 2014.

The move was potentially significant because Ukraine and Western governments have been pressing Moscow to stop what they say is a flow of Russian arms and fighters into eastern Ukraine.

First steps for Poroshenko, whose confectionery business earned him the nickname of the "Chocolate King", will be to name some key members of his team.

He is expected soon to name a new foreign minister - possibly Valery Chaly who has been in charge of foreign policy issues in his campaign. He has the right also to name a defense minister - another key post given the army's involvement in quelling the eastern rebellions and the perceived need to stop Russian fighters crossing the border.

Other key allies will be Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk, who is at the forefront of the sensitive gas talks with Russia over pricing. The liberal prime minister, himself a former economy minister, has already pledged to work "as a single whole" with the president and parliament.

You May Like

Turbulent Transition Imperils Tunisia’s Arab Spring Gains

Critics say new anti-terrorism laws worsen Tunisia's situation while others put faith in country’s vibrant civil organizations, women’s movement More

Burundi’s Political Crisis May Become Humanitarian One

United Nations aid agencies issue warning as deadly violence sends tens of thousands fleeing More

Yemenis Adjust to Life Under Houthi Rule

Locals want warring parties to strike deal to stop bloodletting before deciding how country is governed More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Serge from: SPb
June 09, 2014 8:53 AM
Poroshenko don't want a peace in his country, he want to win, he has blood on his hands. People of Donbass never forgive him.

by: gen from: japan
June 09, 2014 8:44 AM
Ukraine is a nation? They can't protect their boder from the foreigners by their own.They can't pay the gas to Russia.then They ask Russia to prevent the foreigner from getting into the country.They ask US and Europe to protect their country.They ask US to donate money.But they say Ukraine is independet country.What a shameful country! It is natutal that the Crimea people wanted to choose in Russia. The Crimea people will not live in such a shameful nation like Ukraine.

by: Artur from: Kiev
June 09, 2014 6:00 AM
We,Ukrainians are a bit frustrated with the West's policy toward Russia's aggression against us. We feel betrayed by EU and USA,because we paid big price to turn our country towards the West but we are not protected. Russia must be punished by what it does with Ukraine.

by: Ivan from: Russ
June 09, 2014 3:33 AM
How could thay say "Russians crossing the border" when don't even have any proof?

Russian-speaking doesn't mean "citizen of Russia". There are about 50% if not more russian-speaking ukranians on the East.

by: Mark from: Virginia
June 08, 2014 5:34 PM
Okay, the U.S. has given them money, 48 million hard-earned tax-payer dollars. That is ALL we Americans need to do now. Keep our noses out of it from here on out. Ukraine has a new president, and whatever decisions need to be made now, are to come from Ukraine and Russia, NOT the U.S.
Their elections are over, now let the new government in Kyev do what they need to do for their own country. It should no longer be a concern for America. End of story. Period. Done. Finished.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threati
X
Greg Flakus
May 29, 2015 11:24 PM
Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threat

Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video New York's One World Trade Center Observatory Opens to Public

From New Jersey to Long Island, from Northern suburbs to the Atlantic Ocean, with all of New York City in-between.  That view became available to the public Friday as the One World Trade Center Observatory opened in New York -- atop the replacement for the buildings destroyed in the September 11, 2001, attacks.  VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs