WASHINGTON, May 26 (UPI) -- The European Union and the United States congratulated Ukraine on holding "historic elections" on Sunday.
The EU heralded the presidential election as "a major step towards the objective of de-escalating tensions and restoring security for all Ukrainians."
According to the OSCE's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights preliminary report, there was high voter turnout on Sunday and that despite a hostile security environment, Ukrainian authorities demonstrated a "clear resolve... to hold what was a genuine election."
With election results still to be finalized, the EU encouraged Ukrainians to "take these polls as an opportunity for a fresh start for the country, and commence by accepting the outcome of the vote once the final results are known."
Exit polls suggested Petro Poroshenko, 48, a billionaire chocolate magnate with business interests in Ukraine that include television stations and manufacturing facilities, received 55 percent of the vote. If that prediction holds, there will be no need for a runoff election, required only if the leading candidate receives fewer than 50 percent of the total vote.