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KIEV, May 28. /ITAR-TASS/. Ukraine needs direct US military aid, leading presidential candidate in the country’s elections told The Washington Post.
“Now we should create a new security treaty exactly like Lend-Lease,” Poroshenko said. “We should cooperate in military technical assistance and in advising assistance. We are ready to fight for independence, and we should build up the armed forces of Ukraine,” he stressed.
He also made it clear that he is ready to hold talks with Russia.
“I know [Russian President Vladimir] Putin quite well,” he said, adding that he is prepared for compromise over all issues except for Ukraine’s claim to Crimea and Kiev’s decision to strike an economic association deal with the European Union.
The US newspaper also quoted Poroshenko as saying Western sanctions against Russia over its position on events in Ukraine “are not strong enough”.
“His first challenge will be to rebuild a demoralized and decrepit Ukrainian army on the fly while trying to eliminate the threat” Poroshenko claims is presented by what he calls Russia’s involvement in events in Ukraine’s east, The Washington Post wrote.
An early presidential election, set by Ukraine’s provisional authorities in Kiev who came to power amid riots during a coup in the country in February, was held in Ukraine on Sunday, May 25.
With 99.42% of electronic vote protocols processed, billionaire businessman and politician Poroshenko is leading with 54.71% of the vote, the Ukrainian Central Election Commission (CEC) reported Wednesday.
Poroshenko’s closest rival, ex-premier Yulia Timoshenko, has 12.81% and Radical Party leader Oleg Lyashko is in the third place with 8.32%
Russia does not recognize the legitimacy of the February coup-imposed Ukrainian authorities in Kiev. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Wednesday that Sunday's presidential election in Ukraine should put an end to Kiev’s punitive operation against pro-federalization activists in Ukraine's Southeast.
Lend-Lease was a US program during World War II to supply Allied nations, including the Soviet Union, with materiel in 1941-1945.
The situation in Ukraine has been far from calm after February’s coup. President Viktor Yanukovich had to leave the country the same month citing security concerns.
The Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol, a city with a special status on the Crimean Peninsula, where most residents are Russians, refused to recognize the legitimacy of the new Ukrainian authorities, brought to power by the coup.
Crimea and Sevastopol adopted declarations of independence on March 11. They held a referendum on March 16, in which 96.77% of Crimeans and 95.6% of Sevastopol voters chose to secede from Ukraine and join the Russian Federation. Putin signed the reunification deals March 18.
Despite Moscow’s repeated statements that the Crimean referendum on secession was in line with the international law and the UN Charter and in conformity with the precedent set by Kosovo’s secession from Serbia in 2008, the West and Kiev have refused to recognize the legality of Crimea’s reunification with Russia.
Some Russian and Crimean officials and companies have been subjected to sanctions by Western nations, including visa bans and asset freezes, after Crimea’s incorporation by Russia.
Russia has dismissed the threats of further penalties, including economic ones, against it, saying the language of punitive measures is counterproductive and will have a boomerang effect on Western countries.
In the Soviet Union, Crimea used to be part of Russia until 1954, when it was gifted to Ukraine by Soviet Communist Party leader Nikita Khrushchev.
After Crimea’s incorporation by Russia in March, massive protests against the new Ukrainian authorities in Kiev erupted in Ukraine’s Russian-speaking southeastern territories. Kiev has been conducting a punitive operation against pro-federalization activists that has already reportedly claimed dozens of lives, including civilian.
The eastern Ukrainian Donetsk and Lugansk regions held referendums on May 11, in which most voters supported independence from Ukraine. Kiev wants to crush protests held by its opponents in the breakaway territories.
A month ago, Putin dismissed Western claims that Russia could in any way be involved in pro-federalization protests in southeastern Ukraine.
“People say our special forces are present there [in Ukraine], say we have sent instructors there. Let me say in all responsibility that there are no Russian instructors, special forces or troops of any kind there. We have no one there,” Putin said in late April.