Vice President Joe Biden said Tuesday that Russia must withdraw its troops from the Ukrainian border, pledging support for Ukraine in the face of what he called “humiliating threats” from Russia.
Biden met with members of Ukrainian parliament and spoke at a joint press conference in Kiev, where he is visiting this week to display U.S. solidarity with the interim Ukrainian government led by Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk. On Tuesday, he announced an aid package totaling $US50 million to help Ukraine through political and economic reform. He also announced an additional $US8 million in non-lethal military assistance.
Russia has amassed tens of thousands of troops on the Ukrainian border, and the U.S. and others have accused Russia’s government of supporting pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine to stir up a pretext for invasion. Biden’s visit to Ukraine comes at a critical time in the crisis — last week, Russia, Ukraine, the U.S., and European Union agreed to a de-escalation deal that is already running into problems.
Biden’s appearance has featured much of the same tough talk on Russia that the U.S. has been ramping up over the past week. Biden said the U.S. would help Ukraine to reduce its energy dependency on Russia, which he said should “no longer use energy as a political weapon.” He warned of additional U.S. sanctions if Russia does not comply with a deal.
Earlier, at the meeting with members of Ukrainian parliament, Biden said the U.S. would stand with Ukraine in the face of “humiliating threats.”
“You are a strong, strong, strong people,” Biden said. “And I’m not being solicitous. I mean it is real. And you face very daunting problems and some might say humiliating threats that are taking place indirectly. But the opportunity to generate a united Ukraine, getting it right, is within your grasp. And we want to be your partner, your friend in the project. And we’re ready to assist.
“I have an expression I use as I’ve gone around the world through my career is you never tell another man or woman what’s in their interest. They know their interest better than you know their interest. And so I want you to know that we are not suggesting we have the answers for you, but we’re merely suggesting that we stand ready to stand with you in every endeavour that you undertake to generate the united prosperous and coherent Ukraine you’re all fighting for.”
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