May 26, 2014

By Scott Walker

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A day after people in Ukraine cast their ballots for a new President, there are reports of heavy fighting between Ukraine’s military and separatist rebels at the airport in the eastern city of Donetsk.

Ukraine’s ministry of defence says it has launched an anti-terrorist operation.

Earlier, Ukraine’s new president-elect promised to negotiate an end to pro-Russian insurgency in the east and said he was willing to begin talks with Moscow.

With about a quarter of the ballots counted, billionaire Petro Poroshenko has 56 per cent of the votes. If he wins an outright majority, Ukraine will not have to face a run-off vote that the nearly-bankrupt country can ill afford.

A quick resolution would also bring some stability to a country that has been rocked by political instability, the annexation of Crimea by Russia, and violence by Russian-back insurgents.

Both Prime Minister Stephen Harper and US President Barack Obama are praising the people of Ukraine for their resilience in recent months. And the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe are hailing the vote as a “genuine election.”

Even Moscow is viewing the results favourably. Russia’s foreign minister says Moscow is ready for a direct dialogue with the new president. Sergey Lavrov says Russia views Poroschenko’s election as a positive development. He says he looks forward to holding talks with Poroshenko, but adds there is no need for the United States and the European Union to be at the table.

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