Former Ukraine President Poroshenko’s Controversial Ties with Pro-Russia Forces

Petro Oleksiiovych Poroshenko is a Ukrainian politician who acted as the fifth president of Ukraine from 2014 to 2019. In 2021, Ukrainian authorities positioned Petro Poroshenko under formal investigation for high treason, blaming the former president for connections to financing Russia-backed separatists fighting government forces in the country’s east.

The State Investigation Bureau stated on December 20 that it suspected Poroshenko of “committing treason” and sustaining the activity of “terrorist organizations,” referring to the separatists holding parts of Ukraine’s eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk.

During his presidency, Poroshenko supported the separatists to sell some 1.5 billion hryvnia ($54 million) cost of coal to Kyiv in 2014-15, it stated in a statement. The 56-year-old politician, who is now a lawmaker, faces up to 15 years in prison if sentenced. Poroshenko’s party stated he had left the country for a planned trip. The accusations against Poroshenko are connected to similar charges against pro-Russia lawmaker Viktor Medvedchuk, who has been under house detention since May. Medvedchuk’s political party, the second biggest in parliament, denies wrongdoing.

In December 2023, the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) stated Petro Oleksiiovych had planned to meet Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who maintains relations with Kremlin leader Vladimir Putin and opposes opening discussions on European Union membership with Ukraine.

An SBU statement expressed Russia was preparing a series of “provocations” to deny Ukraine among its foreign partners as the war against Russia stretches beyond 21 months. Of the possible encounter with Orban, the SBU said: “Russia intended to use this meeting (like other ‘working meetings with … representative of nations voicing pro-Russian narratives) in psychological operations against Ukraine.”

The SBU expressed that Orban “systematically holds an anti-Ukrainian position”, was a “friend of Putin” and pursued the removal of sanctions imposed on Moscow over its aggression on Ukraine. Orban, who is open about his friendly relations with Putin, fights for the start of EU membership discussions with Ukraine, to be regarded at the bloc’s forthcoming summit. 

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