“Stand up to Russia” — VP Joe Biden makes final trip to Ukraine; what will be the fallout?

From Washington Examiner

Joe Biden to jet over to Switzerland and Ukraine his last week in office

By Alex Pappas
January 12, 2017

Vice President Joe Biden is spending his last few days in office by taking Air Force Two over to Switzerland and Ukraine, the White House said Thursday.

Biden will be out of the country in Kyiv, Ukraine and Davos, Switzerland from Sunday to Wednesday. President-elect Trump will be sworn in on Friday.

According to the White House, “In Ukraine, the vice president will participate in bilateral meetings with President Poroshenko and Prime Minister Groysman. The vice president’s trip to Ukraine will underscore U.S. support — and highlight his personal involvement in providing support — for Ukrainian independence, democratic development, prosperity and security. The trip will also celebrate 25 years of diplomatic relations, and look forward to a steadfast partnership over the next 25 years.”

“While in Switzerland, the vice president will attend the World Economic Forum in Davos,” the White House said. “The vice president will deliver remarks on the cancer moonshot and deliver an address on foreign policy. The Vice President will also participate in several bilateral meetings.”

From VOA News

January 12, 2017

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden will fly to Kyiv on Sunday on a farewell visit by one of Ukraine’s strongest political supporters, as the country looks forward with apprehension to the new administration of Donald Trump.

Biden, whose visit was announced by the office of President Petro Poroshenko, has been the front man for U.S. policy towards Ukraine since street protests in 2013-2014 forced a Russian-backed leader to flee and the pro-Western opposition took over, promising sweeping reforms whose delivery has been patchy.

The United States has invested heavily in the reform process, providing over $3 billion in economic assistance. It has imposed sanctions against Russia for annexing Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula and backing separatists in a conflict in the east of the country.

Biden has been closely involved, visiting Ukraine four times since the change in power and maintaining regular telephone contact with Poroshenko and the prime minister.

Officials in Ukraine have expressed concern that U.S. support could wane following the Jan. 20 inauguration of Trump, who has voiced admiration for Russian President Vladimir Putin and a desire to improve ties with Moscow.

Biden, who last year promised the “unwavering support” of the United States for Ukraine, has nevertheless chastised officials for lacklustre reform efforts, warning that endemic corruption risks undermining international will to maintain sanctions on Russia.

During Biden’s last visit to Kyiv in December 2015, he made an impassioned speech to the Ukrainian parliament, saying lawmakers needed to do more in “a historic battle against corruption.”

From IBTimes

By Brendan Cole
January 16, 2017

The US vice-president was on his sixth visit to Ukraine since the Euromaidan protests.

In his final official visit to a foreign government, US Vice-President Joe Biden has told reporters in Kiev that the “international community” must resist Russian aggression and issued a plea to the incoming US administration to help Ukraine tackle the threat it faces from its neighbour.

Standing next to Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko, Biden said: “You’re fighting both the cancer of corruption… and the unrelenting aggression of the Kremlin.”

Since the Euromaidan protests in 2013 and 2014 that led to the ousting of Viktor Yanukovych from the presidency, Biden has visited Kiev six times, and he said that sanctions against Russia for seizing Crimea must stay in place until Moscow follows the terms of the Minsk accords peace deal.

President-elect Donald Trump suggested that the US should end its sanctions against Russia if Moscow were to agree to a deal to cut nuclear weapons and that he wanted the nuclear arsenals of the United States and Russia to be “reduced very substantially”.

Biden said, according to Reuters: “The international community must continue to stand as one against Russian coercion and aggression. It is Ukraine’s best hope to move forward as a united country.”

The conflict in the eastern Donbas region has claimed 10,000 lives and there are daily reports of shelling and mortar fire on both sides.

Meanwhile, a debate has been raging in the country after Ukrainian oligarch Viktor Pinchuk called on Kiev to accept the annexation of Crimea as part of a series of “painful compromises” for peace with Russia. He also said Kiev should also abandon, in the medium-term, any chance of joining the European Union or Nato if it wants to see peace in Donbas.

“We should also make clear that we are ready to accept an incremental rollback of sanctions on Russia as we move toward a solution for a free, united, peaceful and secure Ukraine,” he wrote in the Wall Street Journal.

“The Ukrainian lives that will be saved are worth the painful compromises I have proposed,” he added.

However Euromaidan Press described that there was a “concerted media campaign” to make Ukrainians accept their country without Crimea and the Donbas “which might bring painful consequences to Ukraine and the West alike”.

It said that appeasing Russia would further embolden Moscow, spark protests in Ukraine and “provoke a spillover effect of illegal annexations and interventions in many other parts of the world”.




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