Election Troubles: Poroshenko ‘Running Against Putin’, but Fears Negotiations with Russia Without NATO Support

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KIEV – Mar 28, 2019 @ 10:40 – As elections loom, president of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko has said he is now open to bilateral negotiations with the Russian leader Vladimir Putin, but only with the participation of international partners. He stated this in an interview with Ukrainian television on March 27th.

According to the Ukrainian president, a meeting with Moscow without the support of Kiev by world partners will “weaken Ukraine’s position.” Poroshenko also discussed the topics of possible negotiations – the fate of the Ukrainian sailors and Ukrainian naval vessels detained in Russia, as well as shipping issues in the Sea of ​​Azov.

“But a complex position must be decided upon only when there is a big force behind us. That is why we are going to NATO, ” Poroshenko was quoted by Interfax .

The Ukrainian leader strangely pointed to the importance of the Minsk process and the “Normandy format,” stating that if Kiev refuses to negotiate, “sanctions will be lifted – this is what Putin is striving for, Ukraine will not achieve anything.” At the same time, the ability to adhere to the Minsk process and to open further dialogue with Russia has been within the authority of Poroshenko during his entire tenure. Seeing now that both the EU and US have lost confidence in his ability to push Moscow into various, if conflicting, actions, Poroshenko is running short on time.

“Anyone who offers something else – the Budapest, Warsaw, Moscow formats – this is done only for one purpose: to let Putin escape from his obligations,” Poroshenko believes.

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Poroshenko is running against Putin

This is not the first time that Poroshenko mentions the Russian president prior to the elections. On March 26th Poroshenko said that Putin is his only opponent in the upcoming presidential elections in Ukraine. Prior to that, he called on Ukrainians not to “kneel” before the Russian leader and not to ask his forgiveness “with tears in their eyes.”

Another contender for the position of leader of Ukraine – the head of the Batkivshchyna party, Yulia Tymoshenko, expressed her willingness to meet with the Russian president in the “Budapest format” in the event of an election victory.

Presidential elections will be held in Ukraine on March 31st. According to opinion polls, Poroshenko is fighting for access to the second round of voting, which will be held on April 21st, with Yulia Tymoshenko and showman Vladimir Zelensky.

On November 25th, three ships of the Ukrainian Navy invaded the Russian territorial waters in the Kerch Strait. The ships made dangerous maneuvers and ignored the demands of the FSB border guard service to stop. As a result, both ships and sailors were detained. A criminal case of violation of the state border ensued. The sailors admitted during the interrogation that the provocation was deliberate. At the same time, this admission was made while in foreign captivity, and holds little weight by international norms. Currently, they are under arrest in Moscow detention centers.

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