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VP Joe Biden arrives in Ukraine amid ongoing tensions

VP Joe Biden arrives in Ukraine amid ongoing tensions

Vice President Joe Biden arrived in Ukraine Monday, where he planned to meet with the acting prime minister and president, as well as various members of Parliament and representatives from non-governmental organizations over the next two days.  Biden’s trip comes on the heels of yet additional escalations in the conflict in eastern Ukraine over the weekend.

From Reuters:

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden will announce a package of technical assistance focused on energy and economic aid distribution during a two-day visit to Ukraine that began on Monday, a senior administration official said.

Biden is the highest ranking U.S. official to visit the country since the crisis with Russia erupted months ago.

His trip is largely symbolic. But during talks with Ukrainian leaders on Tuesday he will announce U.S. assistance, primarily of technical know-how to boost energy efficiency as well as production in Ukrainian natural gas fields and extraction of “unconventional” gas resources, a senior administration official told reporters traveling on board the vice president’s plane.

A U.S. team was also in Ukraine to help deal with the issue of securing gas flows from EU countries such as Slovakia and Hungary in the event that Russia cuts off Ukraine’s supply, the official said.

Kiev gets about half of its gas from Moscow and a large proportion of Europe’s gas is pumped from Russia via Ukraine. The United States is pushing Ukraine and the European Union to diversify their energy supplies and become less reliant on Russia.

Biden arrived in Kiev as an agreement reached last week to avert wider conflict in Ukraine began to falter.

Foreign ministers and officials from the United States, Europe, Russia and Ukraine agreed in Geneva Thursday that separatists would disarm and vacate occupied government buildings in exchange for amnesty as well as guarantees of rights for ethnic Russians in Ukraine, according to NBC News.

But Reuters reported Monday that both sides in the conflict soon after accused the other of breaking the agreement, while pro-Russia separatists showed no signs of relinquishing control of government buildings.

Tensions also escalated further in eastern Ukraine on Sunday after a shootout at a security checkpoint near Slovyansk, despite what was supposed to have been a truce.

From the NY Times:

A shootout at a checkpoint run by pro-Russian militants near the town of Slovyansk left at least three people dead on Sunday, highlighting the fraying here in eastern Ukraine of a truce reached days earlier by diplomats in Geneva.

Around 2 a.m. on a road lined with blossoming apricot trees, four cars drove toward the checkpoint and their occupants opened fire, killing three local men who were standing guard, according to pro-Russian militants who control this town.

“We thought nothing would happen because it was the holy night,” said Yevgeny Bondarenko, 62, who said he had been there to celebrate Easter with the people at the checkpoint. “Who can we trust now?”

It was unclear whether the shooting was an event staged by provocateurs, an accident or an attack on pro-Russian militants. The difficulty in sorting out what happened will resonate far beyond Slovyansk, which is the linchpin of a string of midsize towns north of the regional capital, Donetsk, that are controlled by the militants.

A diplomatic settlement reached on Thursday by the European Union, Russia, Ukraine and the United States called for illegally armed groups to lay down their weapons, though the chances of this formula for peace succeeding seemed slim from the beginning.

Russia spoke out about the incident, accusing a right-wing nationalist group of carrying out the attack, while Ukraine blamed it on a staged provocation, according to the Washington Post.

Moscow quickly took the side of the pro-Russia activists. In a statement, the Russian Foreign Ministry said “innocent civilians” were attacked by “militants” from an ultra-nationalist, far-right organization called Right Sector, which emerged as a paramilitary group during protests in Kiev that ousted Viktor Yanukovych from the presidency in February and ushered in a pro-Western government.

“The Russian side is enraged by the militant provocation,” the Foreign Ministry declared, accusing Kiev of failing to disarm “nationalists and extremists.”

The Russians said locals had discovered weapons, aerial maps and Right Sector paraphernalia at the scene.

A spokesman for the group said it played no part in the clash and accused Russian special forces and intelligence officers of staging a provocation.

In a statement, the Security Service of Ukraine said the violence was orchestrated by pro-Russia elements trying to stir up trouble. It said evidence was planted at the scene, including new $100 bills, the business card of an ultra-nationalist leader and a World War II-era gun.

Video report below from Sunday via ABC News.


ABC US News | ABC Business News

[Featured image: AP video via USA Today]

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Comments

legacyrepublican | April 21, 2014 at 9:20 pm

Don’t be afraid to show them how they can stop the Russian takeover with just a shotgun.

Oh come on!

They were having a nice little conflict. There’s no need to escalate things and send something like BIDEN over there!

I think that might violate the Geneva Conventions.

2nd Ammendment Mother | April 21, 2014 at 9:50 pm

Yep, this is going to go swimmingly well! Kerry just chased the Russians around France, now Biden is heading to a war zone…. Please tell me that a Secret Service Agent has his hand firmly planted over Biden’s mouth!

BannedbytheGuardian | April 21, 2014 at 10:54 pm

The politico inspired death toll ( not many injured ) was significantly less over Easter Weekend in all of Ukraine than Chicago.

What I don’t get is the blurb about the US being some sort of natural gas experts. .Many regions on earth have been laying pipelines for 30+. years for thousands of kilometres or transporting via vessels to purpose built ports. Even for Ukraine there will be significant costs in trying to replace Russian supplies . For instance a new contract via Germany consists 30% of Russian gas itself. Not to forget they will lose the $3 billion transport fee.

There are some contracts eg by Chevron to explore but firstly US taxpayers must demand to. know where the billions have gone already & into whose pockets – if indeed these have commenced legally . Are companies going to invest in a probable non country? Btw The Possession of acrimea by Russia has taken out the surrounding ocean rights from Ukraine. BP is very interested here to balance Chevron ‘s land

It is not so strange to have old. mining rights to manouvre . In WV companies bought rights into perpetuity for a song from West Viginian farmers in the 19th century. It is an odd fact that a significant coal mining industry in the East Uke is stealth mines dug in backyars & in forests .Hence no taxes to Kiev.

As to the agriculture assistance , what of the 20% of arable land leased to the Chinese? Well that is going to be interesting .

First, Ukrainians ask the US for money, and all they get is $1 billion loan guarantees. And now, to add insult to injury, we send in Joe Biden.

There is less danger of Russian cutting off gas to Ukraine that it appears. Ukraine is already over $3 billion in arrears to Moscow, and they haven’t cut them off yet.

It’s because of the pipelines through Ukraine. If they try to cut off Ukraine, the Ukrainians could just tap into the pipelines anyway. Russia would also have to cut off Europe, too, so there was nothing going through Ukraine, and they can’t afford to do that.

Sending Biden just reminds everyone in the region that the US is now the “paper tiger” the communists used to imagine we were, with a girly-man for President who has no clue about international relations or policy.

1004 days left. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.

    BannedbytheGuardian in reply to Estragon. | April 22, 2014 at 2:57 am

    Ths theft & cut off occurred in jan 06 & 09 . You just cannot decide to steal gas. So when Timochenko signed the conciliation deal the price was lowered but. acompensatory payments were included 5 years hence.

    Tralaah November Maiden begins it ‘s campaign . They. see,ed tobe. abit caught when Yankuvich actually went , so I am guessing they indeed wanted toget out of paying the new price.

    The price to Germany is $399 & Ukraine’s is $468 . Whilst the EU can buy Russian gas & ship it in cheaper to Ukraine it can only supply 10-20% at the best most optimistic . However there is a legal hitch in that the mass of pipeline usage is contracted as an East To West .Russia may let it get to western Uke & Kiev but it cannot supply the East . If Kiev cannot supplyGas to the East. , it will have no legitimacy in practice. Further Russia can demand Ukraine pay in US $ rather than trade credits.

    The Nordstream pipeline goes direct to Germany under the Baltic Sea. Turkey is supplied by the South. If the uke pupeline is stopped ,germany will prosper at the expense of the other receptor nations.

    Also I read today that the Black Sea Dolphin fleet have gone back to Russia after a 20 years of Ukrainian control . Ukraine is dolphinless.

    Come winter Europw will have. to throw in the towel or no saunas.

Gosh, it would appear that the Vice President’s hair plugs are coming out. We will soon have to find a new nickname for him.

The conflict was in need of a few ‘blue’ jokes AND a union organizer -so they sent Biden instead of Obama, who’s just a community organizer.

Good thing Bill Clinton and Obama both signed agreements supporting Ukraine if Ukraine disarmed their nuclear weapons.

Now the Ukraine is a sitting duck.

From a 2009 article:

“Pifer concluded that important lessons can be drawn from the trilateral process about the importance of pragmatism, high-stakes deadlines, and money. Whether the process can serve as a model in the future to address Russian-Ukrainian tensions is questionable, given the unique circumstances of the first experience. “These things aren’t going to work unless you have all three parties seeing value [in them]; and the circumstances in which that might happen in the future are limited.”

http://www.wilsoncenter.org/event/the-trilateral-process-washington-kyiv-moscow-and-the-removal-soviet-nuclear-weapons-ukraine

They must be hoping for a stray bullet.

It should be against international law to introduce weapons-grade stupid into a conflict zone.

I hope to God that Biden isn’t Obama’s ‘secret weapon’.

Henry Hawkins | April 22, 2014 at 3:29 pm

Obama: “Stern words spoken with a stern face have failed. That tears it….

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