Top priority is peace, says Ukraine’s Poroshenko

Reporting by Steve Sedgwick, writing by Dhara Ranasinghe
Poroshenko: 'My top priority is restoring peace'

Petro Poroshenko, the confectionary magnate that has declared victory in Ukraine's presidential election, tells CNBC his priority as president would be restoring peace to the troubled country.

"We should bring peace. We should bring law and order. We should not allow the build-up of Somalia-style objects that can be dangerous for global security," Poroshenko said, referring to the African nation that has been destabilized by war in recent years.

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Exit polls gave Poroshenko, who has long experience in government having served as a minister in previous administrations , more than 55 percent of the vote in Sunday's presidential election.

Voting, however, was marred as millions were unable to go to the polls in eastern provinces where pro-Russian militants blocked access to polling stations, highlighting the challenges that await the new leader.

Petro Poroshenko.
Ssergei Gapon | AFP | Getty Images

Asked about his relations with Moscow, which annexed the Crimea peninsula earlier this year, Poroshenko said the real issue was not bilateral relations between Russia and Ukraine but one about regional and global security.

"After the Crimea aggression, the whole post-war global security architecture was ruined," he said. "That is our responsibility to keep the world stable and predictable…This is the main topic of our negotiation with the participation of the Russian president."

Ukraine has been in turmoil for months, with street protests toppling former pro-Moscow President Viktor Yanukovich in February following by an uprising by pro-Russian rebels in the industrial eastern regions.

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Poroshenko has claimed a popular mandate for resuming efforts to bring Ukraine closer to the European Union, a contentious issue for neighboring Russia, and has said he is ready to negotiate with Putin. He has insisted that Crimea should be returned to Ukraine.

Russia's annexation of the Crimea peninsula has soured relations with the West, which has imposed sanctions on Moscow for its action.

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"Sanctions are a method, not a purpose; I hate the idea that it would be painful for the Russian people under sanctions," Poroshenko said when asked whether Russia should face further sanctions from the West.

"A sanction is just the reason to put everything on the table… If any country violates international law, if any country doesn't recognize territorial integrity and the sovereignty of the independent country, we should act while coordinating our actions in all international organizations," he said.

Asked what he saw as the biggest obstacle to peace in the Ukraine, the billionaire businessman referred to as the "chocolate king" replied: "We will have peace. We will stop the war. Nobody and nothing can stop us."