Electorate in Ukraine gives pro-West mandate

Pro-Western parties will dominate Ukraine’s Parliament after an election handed President Petro Poroshenko a mandate to end a separatist conflict and steer the country further out of Russia’s orbit into Europe’s mainstream.

Poroshenko held preliminary power-sharing talks with Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk after their political groups led other pro-Western forces committed to democratic reforms in sweeping pro-Russian forces out of Parliament.

International observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe gave a further lift to the pro-Western Kiev leadership, saying that the election had “largely upheld democratic commitments” despite the conflict in the east.

However, President Poroshenko faces huge problems: Russia opposes his plans to one day join the European Union, a ceasefire is barely holding between government forces and pro-Russian separatists in the east, and the economy is in dire straits.

Russian President Vladimir Putin can also still influence events, as the main backer of the rebels in the east and through Moscow’s role as natural gas supplier to Ukraine and the EU. He could also remove trade concessions from Kiev if it looks West.

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