KIEV/DONETSK, Ukraine (Reuters) – Ukrainian President Petro Poro-shenko called an emergency mee-ting of his security chiefs for Tues-day to discuss new ways of dealing with the separatist challenge in
the east after rebel elections that were denounced by Kiev and the West.
The rogue votes, which Kiev says Russia encouraged, could create a new “frozen conflict” in post-Soviet Europe and further threaten the territorial unity of Ukraine, which lost control of its Crimean peninsula in March when it was annexed by Russia.
Organisers of the twin ballots said insurgent leaders had emer-ged victorious in both Donetsk and Luhansk – two Russian speaking areas of eastern Ukraine – throwing down the gauntlet to Poroshenko, who vehemently opposed the elec-tion.
In a statement, the Ukrainian president denounced the vote as an “electoral farce”, repeating that it violated a bedrock deal struck in the Belarusian capital Minsk on September 5 intended to pave the way for a settlement of the separatist problem.
His sentiments were echoed by the White House, which condem-ned what it called “illegitimate, so-called ‘elections’” and warned economic penalties on Russia “will rise” if Moscow continues to violate the Minsk deal.
“We are concerned by a Russian Foreign Ministry statement today that seeks to legitimise these sham ‘elections’,” Bernadette Meehan, spokeswoman for the White House National Security Council, said in a statement on Monday.
Calling for “adjustments” to be made in the way he handled the east, Poroshenko said he intended to scrap a law that would have offered “special status” to areas in the east including those controlled by the rebels.
This would be among points to be discussed on Tuesday in a meeting of Ukraine’s security and defence council, he said.
The “special status” law envisaged allowing the Donetsk and Luhansk regions to run their own affairs and also offered separatist fighters freedom from prosecution.
Kiev says the Minsk agreement provided only for election of local officials under Ukrainian law, and not for separatist ballots aimed at bringing in leaders of breakaway entities who seek close association or even union with Russia.