September 2014 – UKRAINE – As the European Union announced a fresh wave of sanctions against Moscow, Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko vowed Friday to reunite the Russian-held region of Crimea with the rest of the country. The annexation of Crimea, which sparked a diplomatic crisis with the West, will be reversed not by military force, but by an “economic and democratic petition” Poroshenko declared. “We have a significant problem. They said we lost the Crimea. No, we had an invasion in Crimea – but Crimea will be back together with us,” he said, speaking at the 11th Yalta European Strategy (YES) conference in Kiev. Speaking to CNBC, Poroshenko said the key issue for Ukraine is its “independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity” as he called for the total withdrawal of Russian troops from the border.
Viktor Yushchenko, the pro-Western former president of the Ukraine, added that current relations with the Kremlin were in tatters as President Putin refuses to take part in discussions himself. “It is impossible to negotiate with Putin, he is not even participating in the discussions. His puppets are talking instead of him,” he told CNBC through an interpreter at the conference. The EU put new sanctions into effect against Russia on Friday, including restrictions on financing from some Russian state-owned companies and asset freezes on leading Russian politicians. Poroshenko said the sanctions showed Europe’s level of solidarity with Ukraine in the face of confrontation with Russia. Last week, former presidential candidate Senator John McCain urged NATO leaders to arm Ukraine and equip the country with intelligence and defensive weapons, branding the West’s efforts to support the country’s fight against Russian separatists so far as “shameful.” Current U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt defended the Obama administration’s stance and said the U.S. had given Ukraine $70 million in “security sector assistance” to date, but the solution to the crisis had to be diplomatic. –CNBC