Former Ukraine Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko will run for president in May’s elections, according to AP.
Ms Tymoshenko, who was seen as a figurehead for opposition to ousted president Viktor Yanukovich, was released from prison last month following his downfall.
She was a major figure in 2004’s “Orange Revolution”, which toppled Yanukovich’s first administration after claims of electoral fraud and voter intimidation.
Announcing her bid for the presidency, Tymoshenko told a news conference that Ukraine may be powerless to stop Putin invading Ukraine: “I think that the level of aggression from the Kremlin cannot be regulated by negotiations with Ukraine.
She added that Putin is “enemy number one for Ukraine. And I think we have to do everything to stop the aggressor, and also return Crimea. I think this is the first honest presidential election in Ukraine. Also, in this election there will be no competition between a pro-Russia and pro-European candidate.”
She then struck a defiant tone by pledging to rebuild Ukraine’s defences in order to fight any potential invasion, and even return Crimea to Ukrainian control: “Most Ukrainians feel anxious about war, and want to feel safe in their country. I think I can create a powerful system of national defence, a modern and effective army, and take all steps to arm the army with the most modern weapons. I am convinced that I can take all actions to stand up to aggression and return Crimea.”
Tymoshenko served as Prime Minister from 2007 to 2010, and finished second in the last presidential election, losing to Viktor Yankukovich by 3.5 percent.
After the election she was convicted of embezzlement and abuse of power regarding a gas deal she brokered with Russia in 2009. Her trial and imprisonment were widely regarded by the opposition to be politically motivated.
The former boxer Vitaliy Klitschko and chocolate tycoon Petro Poroshenko are also expected to contest the presidential race, with Mr Poroshenko currently leading the polls.
The election will take place on 25 May, and if no candidate receives more than 50 percent of the vote, the two highest polling candidates will go forward to a run-off vote the following week.