The President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko speaking before the country's parliament, Verkhovna Rada (Photo: The Ukrainian Presidential Administration, 2019)
Just as British voters rejected Winston Churchill after he had led the country to victory in World War II because they wanted a new leadership for peacetime, so too Ukrainian voters have rejected Petro Poroshenko after he led his country in standing up to Russian aggression over the last five years, Dmytro Khandurin says.
The Ukrainian commentator says that he has “no doubt” that “after a certain time, “the overwhelming majority of Ukrainians will be grateful and the people will be ashamed of their criticism of him just as was the case in Great Britain nearly 75 years ago and allow him to return.
This analogy is not exact, of course. Poroshenko did not defeat the aggressor and win the war as Churchill did; but he did do something that few thought possible at the start of his term: he rallied Ukrainian forces and kept Moscow from following through on its aggression in Crimea and the Donbas with further and deeper attacks into Ukrainian territory.
Moreover, the just defeated president played a major role in the development of a military now far more capable of resisting any Russian attacks and thus giving pause to anyone thinking about attacking Ukraine – it would be extremely costly in lives and treasure – and allowing Ukrainians a chance to focus more on domestic affairs.
Poroshenko only strengthened his reputation by the dignified way he conceded defeat – see the complete text of his concession speech at belaruspartisan.by – and by the way he has behaved since the vote, with a manner that sets him apart from many others who try to hold on to power no matter what.
President Poroshenko did not do everything right: he can be justly criticized on many grounds. But his role in strengthening Ukraine both militarily and culturally, especially by his successful effort to achieve autocephaly for Orthodoxy, is something that made the rise of someone like Volodymyr Zelenskyy possible.
Many in these days will see that as his ultimate failure, but in fact, it was Poroshenko’s successes that allowed Ukrainians to believe that they could and should now focus more on domestic affairs. Moscow could act in ways that will lead them to change their minds and soon, but Poroshenko must get credit for having created a situation where they have a choice.
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