'Chocolate King' hopes for sweet end to Ukraine crisis

Poroshenko: 'My top priority is restoring peace'

After declaring victory in Sunday's presidential election in Ukraine, billionaire chocolate maker Petro Poroshenko may now face an uphill struggle to restore stability to a country wrecked by political and economic crises.

Exit polls showed Poroshenko garnered 55 percent of the vote, although the outcome was marred by the fact that millions were unable to go to the polls in Ukraine's troubled eastern provinces.

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"The ballot is legitimate enough," said Colin Chapman, president of the Australian Institute of International Affairs in Sydney. "He really has a tough fight on his hands because he didn't get the national mandate that he sought and he has no mandate in the separatist areas."

Poroshenko, viewed as a pragmatist, has said he would work with the European Union, negotiate with Russia and fix Ukraine's broken economy. Russia is a major market for Ukraine and a vital supplier of its energy needs.

Ukraine has been in turmoil for months. Street protests toppled former pro-Moscow President Viktor Yanukovich in February, paving the way for an uprising by pro-Russian rebels in the industrial eastern regions. Moscow meanwhile annexed the Crimea peninsula, triggering sanctions from the U.S. and Europe and the worst crisis in relations between Russia and the West since the end of the Cold War.

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"People are very much optimistic," Lyubov Artemenko, a PhD student at the Polish Academy of Sciences, in Ukraine told CNBC. "They think he (Poroshenko) will facilitate necessary reforms and that his first step will be to stop the war and bring peace."

"We should bring peace, we should bring law and order," Poroshenko told CNBC's Steve Sedgwick.

Is Poroshenko dealing with a 'mission impossible'?

Elephant in the room

Analysts will watch how Poroshenko navigates relations with Russia, where President Vladimir Putin said he would be ready to work with a new government in Kiev – Ukraine's capital.

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"The big elephant in the room that everyone is paying attention to is Russia. Putin may say things to the West not to get more sanctions but the reality is Putin is pretty weak but nasty and strong willed to be more obnoxious," said Mikheil Saakashvili, a former president of Georgia, speaking to CNBC from New York.

"The West is stronger but doesn't appear to have the will to confront him," he added.

People queue to cast their vote in a polling booth on May 25, 2014 in Kiev, Ukraine.
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Analysts said there are concerns that Moscow may question the legitimacy of the election given that the vote was unable to take place in large parts of eastern Ukraine.

Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov said on Monday that genuine dialog between Kiev and the east was possible and would be key to resolving its crisis.

Voters in Donetsk and Luhansk, home to nearly 15 percent of Ukraine's population, said they were frustrated at being unable to vote as polling station staff stayed home out of fear or found themselves attacked by pro-Russian militants, Reuters reported.

Ukraine's foreign minister, Andriy Deshchytsia, told CNBC he wanted the international community to continue to pressure Russia by threatening more sanctions until the situation had been de-escalated.

Poroshenko, a businessman known the "chocolate king" and who has served in previous governments, has said his first trip as President would be to Donbass in the east where he would be ready to negotiate a peace with militants.

"Asked whether he would go to Russia or Europe first, he replied he would go to this industrial area. That's important. It will be a test of what kind of reception he is going to get," said Chapman at the Australian Institute of International Affairs.