Will Russia respect Ukraine vote?
Fox News Sunday
This is a partial transcript from “Fox News Sunday,” May 25, 2014.
WALLACE: All right. This show, we are kind of making it up as we go along. We now hear that the rain has stopped and the satellite is working in Kiev. Senator Ayotte, I hope you are there, and I’m going to get you very quickly before the wind changes. From the reports that you’ve received — as we mentioned you’re part of an international observer group. How is the election going today in Ukraine and are Ukrainians getting the chance to vote for a new president in a way that you think will be seen as a widely legitimate election?
SEN. KELLY AYOTTE (R-NH), ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE: Well, what we’ve seen, Chris, is high turnout throughout Ukraine. Obviously, Donetsk, Lugansk, the security situation there is preventing many people from voting in those two regions. And I just want to make clear there is one person to blame for that security situation and that is Vladimir Putin. Because he has had strategic control of what is happening there. It paid mercenaries. It is also the violence and intimidation and the fear for the people that live in that region.
WALLACE: As you mentioned, there was a lot of talk and considerable violence from pro-Russian separatist who’s said they were not going to allow this election to take place. I know you’re in Kiev in the western part of the country. But what reports are you getting from the eastern part in how effective the separatists have been in disrupting the election in that part of the country?
AYOTTE: Well, I think, unfortunately, in Donetsk and Lugansk we don’t have observers there because of the security situation. They have disrupted the elections there. But in the rest of Ukraine, particularly here in Kiev, the polling stations that I visited, high turnout. People are waiting patiently. They want to exercise their right to vote and to elect a new president. And I think what you see here is actually pushback against what has happened with the Russian aggression. So that’s what we’re seeing in this part of the country. But make no mistake, obviously in the eastern part of Ukraine, in Donetsk and Lugansk those elections are being disrupted for many Ukrainians. And Putin is the one that can dial this up or dial this down.
WALLACE: The big favorite to win this election as we mentioned with the panel in the last segment is the candy tycoon Petro Poroshenko who is known as the chocolate king. Now if he gets more than 50 percent of the vote, he avoids a runoff. Otherwise, he and the other top finisher have a runoff in mid- June. Not to prejudge the election, but if Poroshenko were to win and he is seen as someone who can do business with both the East and the West, where would that leave Ukraine, do you believe?
AYOTTE: Well, I actually met with Poroshenko yesterday along with our delegation. I think it leaves Ukraine, he was very clear, actually, that he would not accept the annexation of Crimea. He would actually like us to increase our support in terms of their military. He would also, I think that as you look he will try to reach out to eastern Ukraine to establish more communication and ties there for the people who are there. But he also wants us to continue and I think there is a general feeling here of pushing back on Putin so they can have security in that area because, obviously, the violence that’s being fermented interferes with unifying the country.
WALLACE: Senator Ayotte, I’m glad the rain stopped. I’m glad we’ve got a chance to talk with you. Safe travels back home. Thank you so much for talking with us, senator.
AYOTTE: Thanks, Chris. Appreciate it.