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May 26, 2014 AT 5:18 AM
President Obama congratulated Ukraine on its election Sunday, particularly citizens in the east who voted despite the efforts of "Russian-backed separatist groups" that "sought to disenfranchise entire regions." In a written statement -- issued while Obama was making a trip to Afghanistan -- Obama said that "we commend the resolve of all those who participated, as well as the efforts of the Ukrainian government to conduct these elections in the face of those threats."