Fighter jets and attack helicopters today pounded pro-Russian separatists who had taken control of the airport in Eastern Ukraine’s biggest city, Donetsk.
Rebel fighters responded with machine and anti-aircraft gun fire, taking up positions in the wooded area around the airport.
The separatist insurgency will be the first test for candy mogul Petro Poroshenko, who claimed victory in the presidential election held on Sunday and who exit polls show winning an outright first round victory.
“In no civilized country of the world, nobody have a negotiation with the terrorists,” he told reporters at a Monday press conference.
Poroshenko, who has promised to move Ukraine closer to Europe, said today hoped to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin in June for talks. Moscow’s foreign minister said Monday that they will work with Poroshenko and his government but warned that if Ukraine stepped up its crackdown on the pro-Russian separatists, it would be a “colossal mistake.”
Before inheriting a country in turmoil, Poroshenko was known as the “Chocolate King,” for his candy empire. After starting out selling cocoa beans, he bought state confectionery factories being privatized and started building his business that has netted him an estimated $1.3 billion, according to Forbes Magazine.
But he’s not just a businessman, he’s an experienced and wily politician who has often switched loyalties.
Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright told ABC News today Poroshenko could be the man to stabilize Ukraine.
“He has a hard job, there’s no question about it,” she said. “In my meeting with him I had the sense that he understood what had to be done, that he had the energy to do it. That he was pretty determined about it.”