Russia Will Work WIth Ukraine's New Leader, So Is This The Beginning of a New Chapter?
The Kremlin voiced its support for Ukraine's"Chocolate King" Monday, with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov saying Russia was ready to talk with Ukraine's next president Petro Poroshenko, no mediators necessary — though he also pointed out that Kiev's continued military crackdown in eastern Ukraine was "a colossal mistake." For his part, the candy tycoon wasted no time Monday telling his constituents that he would be "changing the format" of the military operation, saying that it "should and will last [only] hours." Optimistic, perhaps, considering that the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic in East Ukraine declared martial law on Monday and took over the city's airport, forcing the government respond with an air strike.
Although Lavrov was quick to point out that Ukraine's elections were definitely not problem-free, saying that "far from all candidates were able to go the distance" and "many had to quit the race, in some cases physically fearing for their lives in the face of threats," the foreign minister nonetheless signaled his willingness for dialogue with Ukraine. "As the president has said more than once, we are ready for dialogue with representatives of Kiev, we are ready for dialogue with Petro Poroshenko," he said to reporters. Without any Western "middlemen," he added.
It was warm on fuzzy on both sides, in fact. Said Poroshenko:"I think that Russia is our neighbor. And without Russia it would be much less effective or almost impossible to speak about the security in the whole region or maybe about the global security."
But in spite of Lavrov's warning that continuing Kiev's military operation to remove pro-Russian militants in the east would be "a colossal mistake," Poroshenko said he would keep supporting the military effort for as long as would be needed to secure the region. "I support the continuation of this [army operation] but I demand a new format," Poroshenko said at a press briefing on Monday. "The anti-terrorist operation cannot and should not last two or three months. It should and will last hours."
His statement came just as separatists in eastern Ukraine declared martial law, and Donetsk airport was forced to close down after separatist gunmen showed up. “The main task is to cleanse the republic’s territory of the Ukrainian military,” Denis Pushilin, the leader of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, said to Russia’s Itar-Tass state news agency. In response, Ukraine's military launched airstrikes in the eastern capital, with troops struggling to take back control of the airport.