I have a good feeling about Ukraine's new president, Petro Poroshenko. He's only 48 years old, was born in Odessa oblast and grew up in Vinnytsia in central Ukraine, went to the University of Kiev, became a business man, politician and billionaire in Ukraine. I feel confident he loves his country, has a sense of healthy patriotism, and will put its interests and well-being first. This alone is an enormous change.
This is kind of how I felt after the new pope was selected. When I learned about his Italian heritage and his experiences as a priest in Argentina, I was excited to think of the compassion and humanity he would bring to the position. A down-to-earth guy. When he chose the name Francis I felt even better, because his namesake was a peace-loving man. And his evolution as Pope, his deepest concerns, his openness and kindness, has affirmed my initial impression. I have faith in Pope Francis, and his tremendous influence for good all over the globe.
He cares about Ukraine. He loves Ukraine. He's not in the pockets of the Russians, or anyone. He's not an apparachik; he is moderate, and yes, he seems honest. Poroshenko embodies the aspirations of the Ukrainian people.
He wants a strong united Ukraine, east and west, north and south. He said he will defend his country's territorial integrity, all of it, including Crimea. "Crimea is, was and will be Ukrainian soil." He knows Ukraine must strengthen itself and defend itself, because no one else can do it. He understands that Ukraine is responsible for its own destiny. Poroshenko's loyalty to Ukraine seems strong, unshakeable.
This was not so with his disgraced predecessor. It is such a different feeling than when Yanukovich was elected, in 2010. I went to the polls with friends. They questioned, as did many people in the east, Yanukovich's loyalty to Ukraine. They wondered how much he would focus on uniting the country, not dividing it. And they were right. But they gave him a chance, and he blew it. Just like happened in Egypt with Morsi and the Brotherhood. Yanukovich was a Soviet-style thinker who put the interest of Ukraine as a nation last, who stole shamelessly from the people, as did his son and his cronies. The corruption was rampant and out of hand, to the point he was willing to sell Ukraine itself down the river, hand it over to another country. It is shameful and unbelievable his willingness to destroy the self-determination of his own country, to violate it's territorial integrity. I view him as a traitor. I view those officials in the East that he paid, in Lugansk and Donetsk, whose disloyalty to Urkaine he encouraged and condoned, as traitors to Ukraine.
I am glad that Poroshenko shares the outrage of the majority. How dare another country march into his county, occupy it and take it over, piece by piece, with such advanced military weapons that the "thugs and killers" can down helicopters and launch missiles. How dare armed foreigners and vigilantes just march in without regard for territorial boundaries and take over buildings, block roads, barricade major highways in and out of cities, halt the mail, take over an airport, take over a hospital and murder, yes, murder, Ukrainian soldiers and civilians at will.
Poroshenko will not allow this, not for long. Ukraine will belong to Ukraine under his leadership. I believe his devotion to Ukraine will put the country on the right path, at last. Pride in Ukraine, a healthy does of positive Ukrainian nationalism, is what Ukraine needs now. Poroshenko will provide it.
"We're not naive...but we are all very hopeful," John Kerry said. "We want the people of Ukraine to choose their own future, not Russia, not the United States." Viva Ukraine.