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

Sydney Hostage-taker Failed to Manipulate Social Media

Gunman forced captives to use personal Facebook, YouTube accounts to issue his demands; online community helped flag messages, urged others not to share them More

UN Seeks $8.4 Billion to Help War-Hit Syrians

Effort aimed at helping Syrians displaced within their own country and those who've fled to neighboring ones More

Who Are the Pakistani Taliban?

It's an umbrella group of militant organizations whose objective is enforcement of Sharia in Pakistan 'whether through peace or war' 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.
Putin: Russian Economy to Rebound in 2 Yearsi
X
December 18, 2014 5:13 PM
Russian President Vladimir Putin held his annual end-of-the-year news conference Thursday, tackling questions on the Russian economy, the crisis in Ukraine and Russian relations with the west. VOA's Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Putin: Russian Economy to Rebound in 2 Years

Russian President Vladimir Putin held his annual end-of-the-year news conference Thursday, tackling questions on the Russian economy, the crisis in Ukraine and Russian relations with the west. VOA's Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid