New Ukraine President sworn in

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By The Telegraph Online
  • Published 8.06.14

Kiev, June 7 (Reuters): Ukraine’s new President Petro Poroshenko said his country would never give up Crimea and would not compromise on its path towards closer ties with Europe, spelling out a defiant message to Russia in his inaugural speech today.

The 48-year-old billionaire took the oath of office before parliament, buoyed by western support but facing a crisis in relations with Russia as a separatist uprising seethes in the east of his country.

Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula in March, weeks after street protests ousted Poroshenko's pro-Moscow predecessor Viktor Yanukovich, in a move that has provoked the deepest crisis in relations with the West since the Cold War.

“Citizens of Ukraine will never enjoy the beauty of peace unless we settle our relations with Russia. Russia occupied Crimea, which was, is, and will be, Ukrainian soil,” Poroshenko said in a speech that drew a standing ovation.

He said he had delivered that message to Russian President Vladimir Putin when the two met on Friday at a World War II anniversary ceremony in France.

There is no prospect of Russia reversing its takeover of Crimea, but in what could be a positive signal from Moscow, Russian news agencies reported Putin had ordered the Federal Security Service to strengthen protection of the border with Ukraine and prevent people crossing illegally.

The move was potentially significant because Ukraine and western governments have been pressing Moscow to stop what they say is a flow of Russian arms and fighters into eastern Ukraine. Russia denies it is backing the uprising but journalists have encountered Russian nationals among the separatist ranks.

Poroshenko won a landslide election on May 25 after promising to bridge the east-west divide that has split the country and thrust it into a battle for survival.

Many Ukrainians hope the election of the former government minister, who is married with four children, will bring an end to the most tumultuous period in their post-Soviet history.