At 1:26PM Kyiv time, President-elect Petro Poroshenko held the lead at 53.75% with 75% of the votes counted. He also gave a press conference on Monday where he vowed to keep Ukraine’s anti-terrorist operation in the east and open dialogue with Russia.
“I am not going to hold any dialogues with the criminals. You don’t talk to terrorists,” he told reporters. “The anti-terrorist operation will not and cannot last for months, it will last just for hours.”
“From now and on our soldiers will be much better equipped and much better supplied, all of them will have life insurance and high salaries,” he continued.
The east is Poroshenko’s first stop and he repeated those who are not criminals will receive amnesty from Kyiv. The “Donetsk People’s Republic” do not consider Poroshenko their president since the region declared independence from Ukraine after a May 11 referendum. The leaders claim 90% of the people voted to break away, but the referendum was filled with voting violations. However, Poroshenko considers himself their president.
“A president should be a president of all people regardless their political position. And I am strongly determined to held a dialogue with everyone there no matter they voted for me or not,” he said at the press conference.
The Kyiv Post reported the DPR spoke to Interfax and said the region is ready to speak with Poroshenko.
“We are ready for dialogue provided that there are mediators, that it, a third party, and Russia’s participation is compulsory,” said self-proclaimed President Denis Pushilin. “People made their choice on May 11. It’s the people’s right. Hundreds of our people have been killed, very many have been wounded, and some 200 people have been abducted by Ukrainian troops. Ukraine is now an aggressor to us, we are at war with it. What dialogue on the return to it can take place? We can only conduct dialogue with mediators and, for example, on the exchange of POWs.”
Poroshenko wants to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin within a few weeks and Moscow agreed to dialogue, but told him he needs to “scale back” the operation in the east.
“As the president (Putin) has said more than once, we are ready for dialogue with representatives of Kiev [sic], we are ready for dialogue with Petro Poroshenko,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters.
“Taking into account the expression of will that has taken place, which we respect, we will be prepared to establish pragmatic, equitable dialogue on the existing foundation – by which I mean the fulfillment of all existing agreements, including in trade and the gas sector,” he continued.
Russia promised to recognize the vote, but Lavrov did not tell reporters if Moscow considered it a legitimate election. After parliament ousted Russia-backed President Viktor Yanukovych in February, Russia refused the West’s request to speak to Kyiv until a legitimate leader was in place.