As Poroshenko takes office, his new role saddles him with political and economic turmoil, conflict and international pressure that started five months ago. CCTV’s Stephanie Freid offers a look at the events leading up to the presidential inauguration.
On the eve of the inauguration, separatists shot down a Ukrainian army plane. The plane was downed in Sloviansk, in eastern Ukraine – where heavy fighting is reported.
The Ukraine crisis up until the inaugurationAs Poroshenko takes office, his new role saddles him with political and economic turmoil, conflict and international pressure that started five months ago. CCTV's Stephanie Freid offers a look at the events leading up to the presidential inauguration.
The turmoil began in Ukraine’s capitol Kiev last November when protestors, up in arms over former president Viktor Yanukovich’s decision to abandon a trade deal with the EU in favor of closer ties with Russia, took to the streets and occupied city hall. Clashes turned deadly and in February, President Yanukovich fled to Russia. At the same time, armed pro-Russia gunmen in the militarily strategic, majority Russian ethnic southern peninsula Crimea seized government buildings and the main airport.
Russia amassed “self defense” troops along Ukraine’s border, drawing criticism from Western leaders. Then, on March 15, Crimea held a referendum to secede from Ukraine. The results: a reported ninety-seven percent of voters favored joining Russia. As Russian president Vladimir Putin signed a bill to absorb Crimea into Russia, the EU and U.S. responded by freezing Russian assets and imposing travel bans on Russian officials.
In April, Eastern Ukraine protesters demanded independence from Ukraine-occupied government buildings. Kiev’s interim government, alleging Russia was sending armed militia to the country’s east, responded by launching an anti-terror campaign that turned violent. In mid-May, following referendums, self-appointed leaders of People’s Republics of Donetsk and Luhansk declared independence from Ukraine. The referendums were not recognized by Kiev or the West.
On May 25, Ukraine elected billionaire businessman Petro Poroshenko as the next president. A majority of residents in the east boycotted the election and less than twenty four hours later, armed militia attempted a takeover of Donetsk International Airport. The move was met with an Ukraine military air and ground assault.
Fighting between Ukraine military and pro-Russia militias in the cities of Sloviansk and Luhansk rages on. Meanwhile, Ukraine’s interior minister announced a new campaign to drive out militia. Locals terrorized by relentless heavy artillery and assault helicopter campaigns now live in constant fear.
Close to Ukraine’s border with Russia, militia seize Ukraine border guard bases and there are widespread reports of weapons and fighters pouring across from Russia into Ukraine. As Ukraine’s new president takes office, the East is on fire. He will undoubtedly be relying on Western support to back the current military campaign.
U.S. President Obama has delivered a one-month deadline to Russia’s Vladimir Putin: Reverse Ukraine intervention and stop opposition in the East or face tougher sanctions. Opposition leaders here say it’s too late to reverse the tide of events. All eyes are now on Donetsk, the capital of Eastern Ukraine’s most populated province, as speculation grows that the next assault on militant strongholds will happen here.