Ukraine crisis: 'Chocolate King' Petro Poroshenko prefers a whisper to a breakaway

 

defence correspondent

On the day it became clear that Petro Poroshenko – the “Chocolate King” – may well become the next president of Ukraine, he was careful about proposed new sanctions on the Kremlin: “One shouldn’t rush into things. We don’t want to hurt Russia: that is not our aim.”

Vitali Klitschko had just stood down as a presidential candidate, pledging his support for Mr Poroshenko. The former boxer pledged his support to the billionaire who had made his fortune from confectionaries, resulting in banners proclaiming: “Willy Wonka and Rocky – The Dream Team.” That was two months ago, after Crimea had been annexed by Vladimir Putin, but before the separatists began to take over swathes of the east of the country. Mr Poroshenko condemned the destabilising role Moscow was accused of playing but was less vitriolic than others.

Now polls say Mr Poroshenko, 46, is on the verge of winning tomorrow’s election outright without the need for the hitherto expected second round scheduled for 15 June; and the daunting task he would face would be try to bring an end to the strife tearing his country apart.

That is unlikely to happen without the help of the Kremlin and today, for the first time, Mr Putin explicitly stated that he will respect the outcome of the election: a fundamental change from his previous stance. Mr Poroshenko may not be the dream candidate for the Kremlin, but the two who are seen as overtly Russian leaning, Serhiy Tigipko and Mykhailo Dobkin, should finish well back. And Yulia Tymoshenko, the former heroine of the Orange Revolution, whose star has plummeted as the Chocolate King’s has risen, is now held in wide distrust by many, including Moscow.

 

Mr Poroshenko had, like some other politicians, appeared in the barricades of the Maidan, often at personal risk to himself from thugs supporting Mr Yanukovych’s government, confirming his solidarity with the protest movement. But he had also urged Ukrainians to settle their differences peacefully and told Moscow newspaper, Novaya Gazeta: “Russia isn’t our opponent, but our partner. Understand, Euro-Maidan is not a movement away from Russia, but... the Soviet Union.”

With anxiety and anger among Ukrainians outside the east at the dismemberment of the country, Mr Poroshenko has, unsurprisingly, been talking tough: “My first step will be to go to the army headquarters and assume the role of supreme commander. We cannot negotiate with terrorists who rob banks, kill and kidnap innocent people.”

Any accommodation Mr Poroshenko makes with Moscow will not, however, mean turning away from the EU. He has pledged to sign an association agreement – the step which Mr Yanukovych failed to take, triggering the protests which led to his downfall.

He has been more cautious about joining Nato, something which would be opposed virulently by Mr Putin, saying only that there may be the need to form a “security arrangement” with the organisation.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
sportSo, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Arts and Entertainment
Dennis speaks to his French teacher
tvThe Boy in the Dress, TV review
News
One father who couldn't get One Direction tickets for his daughters phoned in a fake bomb threat and served eight months in a federal prison
people... (and one very unlucky giraffe)
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
The Plaza Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia was one of the 300 US cinemas screening
filmTim Walker settles down to watch the controversial gross-out satire
Arts and Entertainment
Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz in Tim Burton's Big Eyes
film reviewThis is Tim Burton’s most intimate and subtle film for a decade
Life and Style
Mark's crab tarts are just the right size
food + drinkMark Hix cooks up some snacks that pack a punch
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant- NY- Investment Bank

Not specified: Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant Top tier investment bank i...

Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Day In a Page

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
Sports Quiz of the Year

Sports Quiz of the Year

So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect