Obama: Ukrainian vote an ‘important step’

President Obama said Sunday that the election in Ukraine was an “important step forward in the efforts of the Ukrainian government to unify the country.” 

Ukraine was holding a contested presidential election that was won by Petro Poroshenko. 

Obama said he looked forward to working with Poroshenko and he congratulated Ukraine’s voters for ignoring threats meant to keep them from casting ballots. 

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“On behalf of all Americans, I congratulate the people of Ukraine for making their voices heard by voting in their presidential election today,” Obama said in a statement.  

“Despite provocations and violence, millions of Ukrainians went to the polls throughout the country, and even in parts of eastern Ukraine, where Russian-backed separatist groups sought to disenfranchise entire regions, some courageous Ukrainians still were able to cast their ballots,” Obama continued.  “We commend the resolve of all those who participated, as well as the efforts of the Ukrainian government to conduct these elections in the face of those threats.” 

Obama said the elections showed Ukrainian citizens' “desire to choose their leaders without interference and to live in a democracy where they can determine their own future free of violence and intimidation." 

“This election is another important step forward in the efforts of the Ukrainian government to unify the country and reach out to all of its citizens to ensure their concerns are addressed and aspirations met,” he said. The United States looks forward to working with the next president, as well as the democratically elected parliament, to support Ukraine’s efforts to enact important political and economic reforms.” 

Obama added that the U.S. would "continue to support Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, condemn and reject Russia’s occupation and attempted annexation of Crimea, and remain committed to working with Ukraine and other partners to find a peaceful resolution to the conflict.”