Ohio senator calls Ukraine elections legitimate


Saying Ukraine’s election provides a chance “for the country to have a fresh start,” U.S. Sen. Rob Portman said today the apparent election of Petro Poroshenko as president helps “put in place a legitimate democratic government” to reform the country’s collapsing economy.

Portman, R-Ohio, who visited six polling places in the Kiev area Sunday during the election, said it was a “very inspiring experience because the Ukrainian people were determined to vote,” adding that they “came to the polls in big numbers” and “wanted to make sure they could chart their own future.”

In a conference call with Ohio reporters, Portman said it would be critical for the United States and its European allies to “remain firm” to give a chance for the new government to spark the economy and discourage Russian President Vladimir Putin from interfering with eastern Ukraine.

“Poroshenko has some big challenges ahead,’’ said Portman, who spoke by telephone from Poland where he visited U.S. troops and Polish government officials today. Mon

Portman acknowledged that “there were real problems” voting in two areas of eastern Ukraine “because of violence” sparked by pro-separatists backed by Russia. But he insisted that at least 90 percent of Ukraine had a chance to vote and it was “a legitimate election and ought to be treated as such.”

Twenty-one candidates competed Sunday to become Ukraine’s next leader. With votes from 80 percent of the precincts counted Monday, Poroshenko was leading with about 54 percent of the vote, according to the Associated Press.

Portman, mentioned as a potential Republican presidential candidate in 2016, adopted a much tougher stance on Ukraine than President Barack Obama, declaring that Ukrainian membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization should be “a goal,” although he conceded that Ukraine is “probably not ready yet to meet the criteria that NATO has for membership.”

He also called on Russia to return Crimea, a province on the Black Sea annexed last March by Putin. And he spoke of a bill he is sponsoring to send anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons to Ukraine, a move the Obama administration has so far rejected.

Poroshenko, a wealthy businessman who made a fortune estimated at $1.3 billion by selling chocolate and candy, has said he wants to join the European Union and appears open to market reforms demanded by the West in return for financial aid.

Former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych fled Kiev for Russia in February after he rejected a trade deal with the European Union. Portman said he left the “left the country as an economic basket case.”

“People who are eager to see a change and believe as I talked to them that Poroshenko would be a good manager of the economy and also would stand up to Russia,” Portman said.

Portman, who joined Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., on the trip, said they had a chance to meet with Poroshenko the night before the election. But they chose not to because they believed “it was important that the United States contingent not take sides in the election.”

Instead, they met with Ukraine Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, a pro-Western politician who assumed the post earlier this year after Yanukovych’s fall.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in News

USS John S. McCain collision: Commander of Navy's 7th Fleet to be relieved of duty, officials say
USS John S. McCain collision: Commander of Navy's 7th Fleet to be relieved of duty, officials say

The commander of the U.S. Navy's 7th Fleet will be relieved of duty following the USS John S. McCain collision and other recent ship accidents, officials told The Associated Press.
Katy Perry addresses rumors she and ex Orlando Bloom rekindling their romance
Katy Perry addresses rumors she and ex Orlando Bloom rekindling their romance

While speaking with “The Morning Mashup,” singer Katy Perry made it clear that she doesn’t want to define her relationship with ex Orlando Bloom after fans spotted them enjoying a recent night out together. “Well, you know, I think people are in and out of your life. It’s nice to keep people you love around you...
Texas mother upset, says 4-year-old son could not attend school because of long hair
Texas mother upset, says 4-year-old son could not attend school because of long hair

A mother in the Houston, Texas, area is upset after she says her 4-year-old son was not allowed to go to school because of his long hair. Jessica Oates told Inside Edition on Tuesday that Barbers Hill Kindergarten Center in Mont Belvieu, Texas, would not let her son, Jabez, in school because of his hair. “When I went to enroll my child...
Wittenberg president: School must accept change, seek progress
Wittenberg president: School must accept change, seek progress

The new president of Wittenberg University spoke to faculty and students and welcomed them back to campus during convocation Tuesday. Mike Frandsen, who started as the liberal arts college’s 15th president on July 1, said he still believes liberal arts is important to higher education. “I believe what we do in liberal arts education is...
Couple to receive $3.4 million in ‘satanic day care’ case
Couple to receive $3.4 million in ‘satanic day care’ case

Dan and Fran Keller, who spent more than 21 years in prison after they were accused of sexually abusing children during satanic rituals at their South Austin day care, will receive $3.4 million from a state fund for those wrongly convicted of crimes. Shortly after receiving the news Tuesday, an ecstatic Fran Keller said they will no longer have to...
More Stories