Obama shows support for Poroshenko

The US president met Petro Poroshenko for the first time since his election last month.

US President Barack Obama.Picture:AFP.

WARSAW - US President Barack Obama endorsed Ukraine's president-elect Petro Poroshenko on Wednesday, offering Kiev financial and security help and saying he was the right choice to lead the country through its stand-off with Moscow.

With the death toll mounting from fighting between Kiev's forces and pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, Obama met Poroshenko for the first time since his election last month and said he was impressed with what he found.

Obama described Poroshenko as a "wise selection" by the Ukrainian people and said: "I have been deeply impressed by his vision."

Poroshenko, a billionaire confectionary magnate, told reporters he was preparing to unveil a plan for "the peaceful resolution of the situation in the east" soon after his inauguration on Saturday.

He said a gathering of world leaders in Normandy, France, on Friday to mark the 75th anniversary of the World War Two D-Day landings would be crucial for the plan.

Obama, Russia's Vladimir Putin, and Poroshenko will all be at the Normandy commemorations - the first time they have been in the same location since the crisis in Ukraine began - though there is no plan at the moment for them to have a meeting.

Poroshenko won a landslide victory on 25 May to fill the office left vacant after a pro-Russian president fled an uprising in late February, the start of a crisis that saw Moscow seize Ukraine's Crimea peninsula and pro-Russian separatists rise up in Ukraine's east.

In the days since Poroshenko was elected, Ukraine has ramped up a crackdown against pro-Russian separatists in the east of the country, leading to the heaviest fighting of the conflict.

Ukraine said on Wednesday as many as 300 fighters had been killed in the past 24 hours of fighting, although the rebels denied they had suffered such heavy losses.

Obama flies on from Poland to Brussels for a meeting of leaders of the world's biggest industrialised economies minus Putin, who was excluded over Ukraine. Obama said he would urge those leaders to also stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Ukraine in the face of Russian intervention.