Vice President Biden Visits Ukraine To Show Support
— AJE News (@AJENews) November 21, 2014
In an event today in Ukraine Vice President Joe Biden stood next to Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko to announce, on the one year anniversary of the overthrow of the previous government, that the US would continue its commitment to the ruling group in Kiev. The US supported the overthrow of the former Ukrainian president, Viktor Yanukovich, and now has promised to stand behind the new government, for now.
Biden said he had spoken to President Obama about US continued support and the threat posted by Russia. Biden said it was unacceptable in the 21st century for countries to redraw maps or “intervene military because they don’t like a decision their neighbor has made.” Biden also said he and the US government would not accept elections in East Ukraine calling them a “farce” and will never accept the annexation of Crimea as legitimate.
What Biden said he did support was the so-called Minsk Agreement and also claimed that if Russia respected the agreement Biden would be interested in having a “rational discussion on sanctions.” Otherwise, Biden warned, Russia will face sanctions and “isolation.” Something that would surprise China – among other countries – which is continuing to do extensive business with Russia.
Biden then went on to say what he was pleased about Ukraine’s move towards integrating with Europe and the initiation of reforms to fight corruption in Kiev saying that there was a “resolute effort to root out the cancer of corruption that has hobbled Ukraine for a long long time.” An interesting statement to make next to Ukrainian oligarch turned president Poroshenko.
Obama, Biden, President Poroshenko and Prime Minister Yatsenyuk had all met with the IMF according to Biden to assist with Ukraine’s economic development. Biden promised that “as Ukraine continues on this course international partners will step up and help, starting with the United States.” The US would, according to Biden, help Ukraine improve its business climate.
Biden also announced US Peace Corps volunteers would be coming to Ukraine soon to help “build democracy” and that he would be meeting with people in Ukraine that are part of the country’s “civil society.” Whether that will include the far right militias and organizations is unknown.
While the Ukrainian revolution has moved much of Ukraine out of Russia’s orbit and into the EU’s, it remains to be seen how this will ultimately play out for East Ukraine. Though the US and EU claim they will not even accept Crimea’s annexation to Russia, there is little evidence that they are willing to go all in for the government in Kiev to take back territory in the east. NATO membership, though sought by Poroshenko and Yatensyuk, has so far remained out of reach with US support for Kiev’s war effort relatively small. Kiev may be as far east as The West goes which is quite an achievement from a Cold War perspective given the next capital over is Moscow.