Poroshenko seems to be the right man for the times: a billionaire chocolate manufacturer and media mogul who has aspirations of an alliance with the European Union but also huge commercial interests in Russia. He’s a dealer; he’s pragmatic. He recognizes that no Russian leader, least of all Vladimir Putin, will let Ukraine spin entirely out of the Kremlin’s orbit and that, therefore, a healthy Ukraine must pay obeisance to Moscow even while leaning westward.
Putin seems to see things the same way. “We will, by all means, respect the choice of the Ukrainian people and will cooperate with the authorities that come to power as a result of the election,” he told foreign journalists the day before the vote, when polls put Poroshenko in a clear lead.
In eastern Ukraine, the Russian-ethnic separatists are still a source of intense political strain, but Sergei Naryshkin, the speaker of Russia’s parliament and a key Putin loyalist, tweeted that the issue of their status was now an internal Ukrainian problem, adding, “It is Ukrainian society that must find within itself the strength to solve this.” Or, as the New Republic’s Julia Ioffe, put it, Putin “has thrown them all under the bus.”
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