Ukraine’s president says the nation needs to join the European Union and NATO to protect itself from Russia’s expansionist actions.

President Petro Poroshenko, who is seeking a second five-year term in the March 31 vote, accused Russia on Saturday of planning to meddle in the election. He described the election as a “general battle for Ukraine.”

Opinion polls show Poroshenko trailing behind comedian Volodymyr Zelenskiy and former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko.

Ukraine has struggled with economic woes following Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea and its support for separatists in eastern Ukraine, leading to a sharp decline in living standards. The government’s failure to combat corruption has also fueled public dismay.

Poroshenko has sought to shore up his sagging support by spearheading the creation of a new Ukrainian Orthodox Church independent from Moscow Patriarchy.

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