Dozens of foreign dignitaries made the journey to Kyiv for the
inauguration of Ukraine’s new President, Petro Poroshenko.
Among them was Alexander Lukashenko, the President of Belarus, a key ally of the Kremlin.
He has previously criticised Moscow’s annexation of Crimea as setting a “bad precedent” but also said the territory is now “de facto” a part of Russia.
Speaking outside the ceremony on Saturday, he said: “Ukraine should be a united, integral state and remain so.”
To a journalist asking about Crimea, he replied: “You should go to Crimea and negotiate how to make it Ukrainian yourself. Don’t lose Crimea.”
Other VIPs present included US Vice President Joe Biden, European Council President Herman Van Rompuy and the Swiss President Didier Burkhalter, also representing the OSCE.
“I’d like to welcome the willingness of finding the solution for a ceasefire at first, which is what we advocated for a long time,” said Burkhalter, the Chairman-in-Office of the OSCE, Europe’s leading human rights and democracy watchdog.
“We understand now that there is more chance for having practical results in that direction.”
As for those in Independence Square, known as Maidan, some feel that amid ongoing strife in the east, it is too soon for any jubilation.
“We should not be celebrating much, because we are in a situation in which so much needs to be done to keep Ukraine united and strong in the future,” one Maidan activist told euronews.
The most tumultuous period in Ukraine’s post-Soviet history is, after all, not over yet.