The Russian View On The Current Ukrainian Presidential Election

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko reacts during a session of parliament, after lawmakers supported his amendments to the constitution regarding the country's intentions to join the European Union and NATO, in Kiev, Ukraine February 7, 2019. REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko

Reuters: For Kremlin, Ukrainian election a choice between lesser of three evils

MOSCOW/KIEV (Reuters) - Before Russia annexed Crimea and backed separatists in east Ukraine, Moscow had a Ukrainian president who did much of what it wanted. Now, as Ukraine readies to elect a new leader, none of the main candidates look that enticing to Russia.

Viktor Yanukovich, the last Moscow-friendly Ukrainian president, was toppled by protests in 2014 and fled to Russia, and Petro Poroshenko, his successor, has put fierce opposition to Moscow at the heart of his re-election campaign.

Challenger Yulia Tymoshenko, third in the polls behind Poroshenko, calls Russia an “aggressor country”. And Volodymyr Zelenskiy, a TV comedian leading the polls, says the two countries are at war and wants Ukraine to join the EU.

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WNU Editor: If there is a pro-Russian candidate in this election, it is Yuriy Boyko, a former ally of ousted Russia-friendly president Yanukovich who is now trailing fourth in the polls. His problem is that his base of support is in eastern Ukraine where 6 million people cannot vote because they are living in either in Crimea or the separatist controlled regions, as well as the 3 million Ukrainians who live in Russia (who are mostly Russian-Ukrainians) and who are also prohibited from voting. In an election where there are about 35 million registered voters and identity politics play a big role, having 9 million of them not being able to vote will kill your election prospects. And this is the rub, and why I feel there is no political will or desire among the current Ukrainian political establishment to reach a peace agreement with the separatist forces in the east. If there was peace, these voters would be voting for a pro-Russian candidate, and the current batch of Ukrainian Presidential candidates will lose. I am sure the Kremlin knows that, I know that many Ukrainian politicians know that, and I am willing to bet that those in the West who support the current status quo in Ukraine are aware of that also.

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