Vice President Visits Ukraine: ‘You Will Not Walk This Road Alone’

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden headed to Kiev on Monday, and his arrival is a signal of many things. Firstly, it was a showing of support from the U.S. to Ukraine; secondly, it was a reminder to Russia that increased sanctions would result in further intimidation for the country both politically and militarily.  The latter follows what were ultimately less than successful negotiations in Geneva last week between Russia, the U.S., the EU, and Ukraine.

Russia ultimately insisted that it was not to blame for the crisis in Ukraine, and that further sanctions would be useless. “Before giving us ultimatums, demanding that we fulfill demands within two or three days with the threat of sanctions, we would urgently call on our American partners to fully accept responsibility for those who they brought to power,” said Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. “Attempts to isolate Russia have absolutely no future, because isolating Russia from the rest of the world is impossible,” he said, according to The Christian Science Monitor, saying that Russia is “a big, independent power that knows what it wants.”

Ukraine is presently facing instability in the form of armed separatists in various cities, many of which are thought to be motivated by Russian insiders — something Russia firmly denies. “We have been very clear that we firmly believe that Russia has supported the so-called separatists in eastern Ukraine that have popped up with arms to seize buildings, to stockpile weapons, to erect roadblocks. And Russia needs to abide by the agreement signed in Geneva and to take steps to stabilize the situation,” said Press Secretary Jay Carney at a press briefing Monday.

The opportunity to generate a united Ukraine, getting it right, is within your grasp. And we want to be your partner and friend in the project. We want to assist,” said Biden, “You have to fight the cancer of corruption that is endemic in your system right now,” he said, speaking with members of the Ukrainian parliament, the Rada — according to Time. “No nation has the right to simply grab land of another nation,” tweeted Biden. “You will not walk this road alone. We will walk with you.”

Ukraine’s Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk was slightly more harsh, saying, according to The Washington Post, “No country should be able to behave like an armed bandit. Russia should stick to its international commitments and obligations. They should not behave as gangsters in the modern century.”

Jen Psaki, U.S. State Department spokesperson, said that continued sanctions could eventually include Putin specific measures, tweeting, according to Times, “Yes. [Important] to lay out consequences. U.S. able to sanction people. companies, and sectors. Goal not sanctions. Goal de-escalation. Range of officials under consideration. Plenty to sanction before we would discuss President #Putin.”

“If there is not progress within days,” said Carney. “We remain prepared, along with our European and G7 partners, to impose additional costs on Russia for its destabilizing actions.”

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