Vice President Joe Biden went to Kiev this week to offer a message of support ... and money. The veep told telling the Ukrainian people that Washington wants "to be your partner and friend," and is willing to shell out an extra $50 million to show it.
In his speech, Biden focused on Ukraine's internal politics. Conceding that "you face very daunting problems, and some might say, humiliating threats,” he added that "the opportunity to generate a united Ukraine, getting it right, is within your grasp." According to Biden, Ukraine must work to exorcise “the cancer of corruption that is endemic in your system right now.”
Biden's speech comes ahead of Ukraine's approaching May 25 elections, which he said "may be the most important election in Ukrainian history." With this in mind, $11.4 million of the additional $50 million the U.S. is offering to Ukraine to promote political and economic stability in the country, will be set aside specifically for voter education and oversight and administration of the election itself. The White House has also promised Ukraine $8 million in non-lethal military aid for troops and border guards, on top of $10 million worth of meals and health and welfare assistance for the Ukrainian army.
In addition to stressing the importance of free and fair elections, Biden hit all of the notes we've come to expect from Western statements on Ukraine. He referred to the importance of energy independence, scolded the Kremlin for its actions, and warned Moscow that it could face more sanctions if it doesn't de-escalate soon.
Russia, meanwhile, argued that Ukraine is not holding up its end of the deal, per the Washington Post:
[Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov] lashed out at the new Ukrainian government for “flagrantly” refusing to dismantle the protest camp at Kiev’s Independence Square, known as the Maidan, about 350 miles west of the disputed regions. It was the epicenter of the months-long protests that led to the ouster of Yanukovych. Lavrov demanded that the camp be dispersed at once as a prerequisite for further de-escalation.
That's a bold claim, considering Russia has apparently done nothing to help clear Ukrainian government buildings of pro-Russia separatists (who are most likely Russian soldiers) as it had agreed to in Geneva. Or give back Crimea.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.