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Ukraine’s billionaire president: the $64,000 question

Steve Sedgwick, CNBC anchor

Confectionary magnate Petro Poroshenko claimed victory in Ukraine's presidential elections on Sunday after exit polls gave him 55 percent of the vote. But key questions remain. In a nutshell, here are the 64,000 hryvnia questions which Poroshenko needs to answer:

Sergei Supinsky| AFP | Getty Images

1. Can the new president work with Russia? Russian President Vladimir Putin has been questioning the legitimacy of the presidential elections but Poroshenko and Putin will need to find some accord for the crisis between Russia and Ukraine to abate. A dispute over gas prices and an unpaid gas bill by Ukraine have further soured relations. The European Union will aim to resolve the row by June 1 with more talks planned on Monday.

2. Can Poroshenko reunite what's left of Ukraine? Crimea looks to have been lost to Russia. Can the new president get the rebellious eastern and southern regions back under control?

3. Can he persuade those skeptics of the Euromaidan movement that ousted Yanukovich that he is not just another oligarch and part of the old, corrupt regime? This is the man who worked in government under Yanukovich and has been a major part of the internal politics of Ukraine throughout the troubled two decades since independence from the Soviets.

4. Do the Ukrainian oligarchs back him? They will be needed, especially in the east of the country. Billionaire Rinat Akhmetov for one has only just recently come out against separatism. Poroshenko will need him, Ihor Kolomoisky as well as Julia Tymoshenko to stay on side. But will economic reform and new EU association rules of trade alienate them at some stage?

5. Can he get the economics right? The Ukrainians have a woeful economy. And the prescription for recovery from the EU and IMF is painful expensive (gas prices are going up regardless of what the Russians do with the taps). How long can he persuade a population that has seen 20 years of economic failure to take more pain?

6. What about corruption? Vitali Klitschko, who pulled out of the presidential elections to back Poroshenko, told CNBC his country is the most corrupt in Europe. Quite a task to turn that around when institutions are too weak to prevent it at all levels of society.

7. Can he stick to the bargain with the IMF and the EU? In order to get Western economic support the country has to jump through a lot of hoops economically. Ukraine has failed under both pro-western and pro-Russian governments to stick to IMF terms in the past ten years. Will this time be different?

8. How does it approach self-defense? The Kremlin clearly does not want Ukraine in NATO and yet the country is clearly unable to defend itself at the moment. So does it militarize with Western weapons but stay out of NATO per se? U.S. Senator Portman told CNBC the U.S. should move quickly to get weapons but not 'boots on the ground' to Ukraine quickly so it can defend itself.

In short, this country has some of the worst economic, demographic, geopolitical and social problems on this planet. We are a long way from solving this crisis even with a clear mandate for the Chocolate King Petro Poroshenko.

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