All-Star Panel: What's the next step in Ukraine?

Reaction from the 'Special Report' All-Star panel


This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," May 26, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


PETRO POROSHENKO, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT-ELECT (via translator): I can assure that I'll be a very active president. We've already established goals to modernize the country. First of all we will start by fighting corruption, building an independent justice system, and establishing fair trials. I'm confident that the country and the voters will feel the advantages of the new authority very soon.

SERGEY LAVROV, RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: We hope that Petro Poroshenko, if his win is confirmed, will do everything to prevent extremists and radical views from prevailing in Kiev towards the east and the south of Ukraine and towards any other region of that country.


SHANNON BREAM, ANCHOR: Hearing first there from Ukraine's president elect and then of course Russian's foreign minister Sergey Lavrov. Let's talk about it with our panel. Fresh off the elections yesterday, and, Charles, our own Greg Palkot you have seen his reporting there on the ground. Yesterday, as this was playing out, he was telling us there were entire areas where not a poll was open in the eastern part of country. Nobody was voting or attempting to vote. How much do you think that will factor into the acceptance of Poroshenko or whether this was a legitimate election or not?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Look, I think this will be used by the Russians, by the separatists in the East and by others to say that the eastern part or the southern parts of the Ukraine did not legitimately elect the president. He perhaps represents the western Ukrainian-speaking part. And I think that will militate for a very radical loosening of the bonds in the east of the central government.

Poroshenko himself appears to be prepared for very great autonomy for the provinces, which means that Putin has succeeded in breaking Ukraine to his saddle. He absorbs the Crimea, he dominates the Black Sea, is he going to get tremendous autonomy from the eastern parts, who will then become essentially affiliated with Russia if not in law but in practice, and Western Ukraine will be a basket case that will receive aid from the West, a lot of which is going to end up in the treasury in Moscow because Putin has raised the price of natural gas, so it's kind of a suction of the money out of the West through Kiev into Moscow. That's quite a win.

BREAM: You sound less than optimistic about how things are going to go for the Ukrainians and those who want --


KRAUTHAMMER: But I'm not cynical enough. It's actually worse than that.

BREAM: That's Charles hedging his bets. Kirsten, what do you make of this, because Poroshenko has talked a lot about I'm going to unify the country, I'm going to stop the chaos, I'm going to stop the war. He's got a large task in front of him.

KIRSTEN POWERS, COLUMNIST, USA TODAY: Well, I guess he seems like the best possible person to do it. If there's someone that could be successful he seems like someone who probably could. He has enough of a relationship in both directions.  He is -- one of the main complaints of Ukrainians is they want to have a better relationship with the West. They want to have, you know, their economy more liberalized and a more successful Western style economy.  That's something that he seems in a position to do. So if you want to look at the possible positive sides, there are possible positive sides. And I think he is probably the best person to get them there, assuming that, you know, your parade of horribles doesn't occur.

BREAM: Well, time will tell. George, Russian President Putin has talked a lot about whatever happens with the elections we are prepared to work with the person that the Ukrainians elect and place into authority. But there are all these things that go on that seem in conflict with what he says, his actions and the strong-arming over the gas lines, the debt, making what appear to be veiled threats about those issues. Where do you think he sees this playing out?

GEORGE WILL, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: He has an out, because, in the East, where his people are people who want to be his people and go back to mother Russia, created enough disturbance that there were only one in six polling places was open. In the city of Donetsk, which is a city of a million people, there were zero polling places open. So Putin can say with some truth that this legitimacy did not acquire from the really felt consent of the people.

The president, the candy king who is now the head of Ukraine, say he wants he wants a unified, unitary Ukraine, and he seems to include Crimea. He must be the last man on the planet that doesn't understand that Crimea is almost certainly gone for good. He also says what they really want is fair trials to begin with and an independent justice system. That tells you -- just 25 years after communism is gone, and communism's success in destroying civil society is still what we're left dealing with.

And finally, finally, this all began in the Ukraine in October when the government essentially fell from demonstrations because they wanted to pull closer to the EU. Last weekend, in placid Denmark, France, Greece, Britain, and elsewhere, people were going to the polls saying we are sick and tired of the EU. So Europe is suddenly becoming interesting again.

KRAUTHAMMER: Poroshenko is the best of the choices that were available. He says the right stuff. I think he wants to attach himself with the West. And I think he is the man given the fact that he won without a run-off with a huge majority who has a mandate. The problem is not him. The problem is the situation that the Russians have created, cleverly, and with tremendous cynicism, as we saw in the foreign minister who is pretending that the problem in the East is a problem that was started by Kiev. Of course, it started in Moscow. But, given the circumstances, I think they probably elected the right guy. He is an oligarch and therefore he doesn't have to be corrupt.

BREAM: Quick final word to you, Kirsten.

POWERS: I said everything I have to say, Shannon.


BREAM: All right, well, we'll have to watch and see how it plays out because we have a lot of statements from the president on down saying we he respect the people of Ukraine, we admire those who did go to the polls or had a chance to go to the polls. The president also saying they don't recognize what happened in Crimea, so maybe that makes two, he and Poroshenko.

All right, that's it for the panel. But stay tuned. On this Memorial Day we want to bring you the sights and sounds of the tributes to the men and women who gave all in service to our country.

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