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New Ukraine leader tackles gas, Obama, Putin in crunch week

An elderly woman sells flowers near a barricade outside the regional state building seized by pro-Russian separatists in the eastern Ukrainian city of Lugansk on June 1, 2014Ukraine’s new pro-Western leader enters a defining week Sunday seeking to head off a Russian gas cut and secure US President Barack Obama’s backing with his country threatened by civil war. Confectionery tycoon Petro Poroshenko will also attempt to arrange the first meeting by a Ukrainian leader with Russian President Vladimir Putin since the February ouster of a pro-Kremlin regime in Kiev sparked the worst East-West crisis since the Cold War. The 48-year-old will cap off the pivotal week with his inauguration Saturday as the fifth president of Ukraine after a convincing May 25 election win handed him a mandate to resolve a separatist insurgency threatening the very survival of the ex-Soviet state. “These meetings will be crucial,” said Kiev-based political analyst Volodymyr Fesenko.

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