Vice President Joe Biden met with Ukraine’s interim President Oleksandr Turchynov and Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk in Kyiv. He pledged more support from the US and condemned Russia for not acting to end the violence in east Ukraine.
Pro-Russian forces have captured government buildings in the east and demanded referendums to leave Ukraine. On Friday, the US, European Union, Russia, and Ukraine met in Geneva and agreed to work together to stop separatists and end any discord diplomatically.
Biden said Russia needs to act “without delay,” adding, “We will not allow this to become an open-ended process.”
“No country should be able to behave like an armed bandit,” he said. “Russia should stick to its international commitments and obligations. They should not behave as gangsters in the modern century.”
The US told Russia if they do hold up their end of the bargain more sanctions will be placed on them. After Moscow annexed Crimea from Ukraine, President Obama imposed sanctions on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle and his preferred bank. If the US does enact more sanctions on Russia it will be the fourth round and more than likely hit the energy sector of Russia’s economy.
Biden said the US is ready to hand over $50 million. $11.4 million of it is to help with the May 25 presidential election, which he said is “the most important election in Ukrainian history.” The date was set after parliament ousted Russia-backed president Viktor Yanukovych on February 22. However, he also warned Yatsenyuk and Turchynov the new government must stop corruption, which has led to Ukrainian people to lose faith in the government. In 2004, Yankovych won the election, but the people suspected fraud and started the Orange Revolution. After a new election took place under strict eyes it was revealed Yanukovych lost the election. He came roaring back in 2010 and won the election against Yulia Tymoshenko. Before anyone could claim fraud he drew up corruption charges against Tymoshenko and threw her in jail. From Reuters:
“The United States is committed to ensuring that Ukrainians alone are able to determine their country’s future without intimidation or coercion from outside forces,” the statement said. U.S. experts would also work on reducing Ukraine’s dependence on Russian gas and in fighting corruption.
In a meeting with leading members of parliament, including several candidates for the presidency, Biden spoke of the “heroism” of Ukrainians and of the “humiliating threats” they face in trying to create a united nation: “Getting it right is within your grasp,” he said. “And we want to be your partner, your friend in the project. And we’re ready to assist.”
In reference to disenchantment with the lost opportunities of independence and of the Orange Revolution a decade ago that promised a new start, Biden said: “You have an opportunity, a chance to bring about an era of reform and democratic renewal that you all hoped for two, five, 10, 15 years ago, to lay the groundwork for an even more united and more prosperous Ukraine.”
Biden is the highest US official to visit Ukraine since the Euromaidan protests started in November. Senator Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) visited twice; once during the protest and a second time after Yanukovych was ousted.