Joe Biden Offers $50 Million U.S. Aid Package to Kiev, Warns Russia To Back Off Already
Vice President Joe Biden told Ukrainian leaders Tuesday that the United States sides with Kiev, extending additional monetary aid to help the country's government with reforms. "...We want to be your partner and friend in the project," he said to politicians as he encouraged them to target corruption and rebuild amid escalating chaos. The United States will provide an additional $50 million in assistance, as well as another $8 million in nonlethal military aid for Ukraine's armed forces.
Biden's visit couldn't be more timely — Ukraine could use all the help they can get. Violence and tensions have only continued to rise in the standoff with pro-Russian forces following the shattering of an Easter truce that left as many as five dead in a gunfight, and photos of armed men storming government buildings have been linked to members of Russian intelligence and military agencies.
The VPOTUS had some strong words for President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday. During a press conference with Ukraine's interim Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, Biden urged Russia to "stop talking and start acting." He called on Moscow to encourage pro-Russia separatists to leave Ukraine's government buildings and “address their grievances politically,” saying the United States won't allow the situation "to become an open-ended process."
It's been months of international warnings for Putin, who still vehemently denies his country's involvement in the crisis. On April 17, Russia, Ukraine, the United States, and the European Union reached an agreement to ease the issue sparked by Russia’s annexation of Crimea. It seems to have had little effect, however, as separatists refuse to pull out of occupied areas. Still, support for Ukraine has been unwavering, with the U.S. planning to increase its military presence in Eastern Europe.
Biden touched on the country's upcoming presidential elections in May while speaking at the parliament, addressing the group which included three candidates. In typical Biden fashion, he told the presidential nominees that he hoped they have more luck than he did in his two presidential runs, NBC reports.
Still, the meeting had an overall grave tone, as the vice president said leaders faced "some very daunting problems and some might say humiliating threats."
Though the U.S. is focused on helping Ukraine gain independence from Russian energy supplies, the May 25 election is critical to the country's future stability. Biden focused on the importance of government officials, telling them, "you have to fight the cancer of corruption that is endemic in your system right now.”