Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Biden arrives in Ukraine to show U.S. support for Ukraine --- KIEV, Ukraine — Vice President Biden arrived here Monday at a crossroads moment in Ukraine’s conflict with Russia, bringing U.S. economic assistance and warnings to Russian President Vladimir Putin that future intervention in the country’s volatile east will come at new costs. -- Biden will meet here with Ukraine’s political leadership, civil society groups and U.S. diplomats over two days. He is the most senior administration official to visit Kiev since Ukraine’s crisis with Russia began two months ago, leading to Moscow’s annexation in March of Ukraine’s autonomous Crimea region. -- A senior administration official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the trip in advance, said the vice president would announce a new U.S. support package to benefit Ukraine’s economy, energy sector and political reform efforts in the run-up to national elections next month. --- The official said Biden will emphasize national unity as Ukraine heads into the May 25 vote, which may help settle a constitutional crisis over the presidency, as violence between pro-Russian groups and Ukraine’s security forces in the east remains a threat to the country’s “territorial integrity.” The visit comes just four days after Russian and Ukrainian officials agreed in Geneva to defuse the standoff in the east, although its viability remains uncertain on the ground. -- “He will call for urgent implementation of the agreement reached in Geneva last week while also making clear, as we have done in recent weeks, the cost to Russia if it fails to de-escalate,” the official said. “There are currently ongoing threats to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and the most effective response to that is for all of Ukraine to pull together.” -- Biden in recent weeks has become the administration’s highest-ranking emissary to Eastern European governments worried suddenly over Putin’s ambitions in the region. Last month, he visited Poland and Lithuania, NATO member nations, where he reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to the pact’s essential collective security pledge. - More, Scott Wilson, Washingtonpost


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