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US & Europe react to Poroshenko’s defeat by comedian Zelensky in Ukraine

US & Europe react to Poroshenko’s defeat by comedian Zelensky in Ukraine
As early results show West-backed President Petro Poroshenko looks certain to be defeated by comic Volodymyr Zelensky, US and EU officials have queued up to congratulate the political rookie, all looking for “strong partnership.”

The US embassy in Ukraine was apparently the first western mission that rushed to address Zelensky as exit polls showed the comedian leading with 72-74 percent of the vote.

“We congratulate President-elect Volodymyr Zelensky,” the American diplomats tweeted. “We look forward to continuing the strong U.S.-Ukraine partnership with President-elect Zelenskyy.”

The US mission then thanked its staunch anti-Russian ally Poroshenko “for his efforts over the past five years to strengthen Ukraine’s security, prosperity and democracy.”

A string of reactions from other western nations followed soon after.

The UK Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt also congratulated Zelensky on his election success. The top British diplomat said that the comedian-turned-politician would now “truly be the Servant of the People” – a pun on the Ukrainian TV series, in which Zelensky played a school teacher who accidentally becomes president. Hunt then assured the president-elect of the UK’s support for Ukraine on what he called “its chosen Euro-Atlantic path.”

French president Emmanuel Macron – the only European leader who has met Zelensky as well as Poroshenko ahead of the run-off – called the president-elect to congratulate him on his victory. Meanwhile, local media reported that ambassadors of France and Estonia have even visited the campaign office of the president-in-waiting.

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Poland’s Andrzej Duda called Zelensky to congratulate him on his victory even earlier and has already invited him to Poland, tweeted the Polish president’s office.

The head of the European Council, Donald Tusk, has assured the maverick Ukrainian president-elect of the EU’s support, praising his victory as a manifestation of a “strong Ukrainian democracy.”

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg was not far behind and said he expected Ukraine to continue to cooperate with the alliance.

Moscow, meanwhile, took a more reserved stance. The Russian Foreign Ministry’s spokeswoman Maria Zakharova expressed her hope that Zelensky’s victory would help Ukraine to unite as a nation not by force but on the basis of a new common agenda. 

READ MORE: Comedian Zelensky celebrates win over Poroshenko in Ukraine presidential vote

The reactions came as Ukraine’s Central Elections Commission had counted less than five percent of the votes, although the preliminary figures have all but confirmed that Zelensky is winning by a landslide. So far he has secured some 72 percent of the vote against the 25.5 percent obtained by Poroshenko.

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