Joe Biden to visit Ukraine to confirm US support
US Vice President Joe Biden is scheduled to visit Ukraine to reassure Kiev that Washington remains committed to its pro-Western government despite stepped-up efforts to work with Russia against Daesh terrorists in Syria.
Biden, making his fifth visit to Ukraine as vice president, will arrive in Kiev on Sunday for a three-day visit.
He will meet with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk and deliver a speech to the country’s parliament.
Biden is the highest-ranking US official to speak before the Ukrainian parliament since former President George H.W. Bush in 1991, during the last days of the former Soviet Union.
Biden’s visit is expected to focus on resolving the conflict in eastern Ukraine even as world leaders have turned their attention to fighting Daesh (ISIL) terrorists, a senior US official said.
The conflict in eastern Ukraine broke out last year following a referendum in the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea, in which people voted overwhelmingly for reunification with Russia.
“I think that is going to be a major theme of the trip — that nothing that is going on in the Middle East has changed one iota of our commitment to the Ukrainian people and to their security,” the US official told reporters.
The visit comes on the heels of US President Barack Obama’s discussion with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Paris. Obama urged Putin to honor the Minsk cease-fire agreement in Ukraine.
US and European officials say Russia, and pro-Russia forces in eastern Ukraine, continue to violate the Minsk peace accords.
Moscow, however, has accused Ukrainian forces of violations, and says Poroshenko’s government is not moving fast enough to implement some of the accord’s provisions.
Both the US and European Union have imposed tough economic sanctions on Russian companies and have provided Ukraine’s army with weapons and training.