Vice president of the US Joe Biden has visited Ukraine on April 22. It is the second time in the past five years he comes to our country. Biden is known in the world as the anti-crisis manager. Indeed, the situation in Ukraine now is quite complicated: the annexation of Crimea, the long-lasting Ukraine-Russia crisis, Russia’s interference in the situation in the eastern regions of Ukraine. It is obvious that both Ukrainian and American sides had a lot to discuss in this situation. The meeting between Biden and Ukraine’s Prime Minister Arsenii Yatseniuk lasted for more than two hours. That is why the American vice president’s meeting with a small group of journalists and representatives of the civil society at the Diplomatic Academy started with a 90-minute delay.
Just as expected, Ukraine received signals of support from the second highest-ranked person at the US Administration. In particular, after the meeting with the Ukraine’s prime minister, Biden said that in case of Russia’s support of persons who captured administrative buildings in the east of Ukraine, the Russian Federation will end up in an even greater international isolation. “No nation can threaten another country by massing troops near the border and thus destabilizing the situation in the neighboring country. We want Russia not to support people who hide behind the masks and wear military uniform, who capture buildings in the east of the country, and we would like to say that more provocative Russia’s behavior would entail greater isolation,” quotes Interfax-Ukraine the vice president’s words.
Biden also said that the US is ready to provide significant help so that the election would be carried out in an open manner with an appropriate level of monitoring, so that nobody could doubt the legitimacy of the election. In particular, the US will allocate 11 million dollars for that. And along with that sum, another 50 million dollars will be assigned for the implementation of political and economic reforms.
Besides, Biden stated the US is ready to help Ukraine decrease the dependence on Russia’s energy resources. In his turn, when talking about the cooperation in the energy sector, Yatseniuk emphasized that “the best answer for Ukraine’s energy dependence on Russia would be the presence of European and American investors here.” And of course, he is right.
But it is obvious that corruption must be eliminated in Ukraine, which Biden stressed at all meetings with Ukrainian government officials. He talked about this in his speech delivered in front of the representatives of the civil society, which he called a cornerstone of democracy. According to him, corruption is a cancerous tumor, and in cooperation with Ukraine the US will focus on fighting corruption. And while doing that, attention will be paid to the rational use of natural resources and modern system of state purchases.
He notified that at the end of April, an international conference will take place in US, at which the questions of detection and return of funds that were taken out of Ukraine will be viewed.
It was very indicative that the US vice president met three presidential candidates: Poroshenko, Tihipko, and Tiahnybok. And it seems to be not coincidental that one presidential candidate, BYuT leader Yulia Tymoshenko, was missing from this list.
When talking about the meetings with the three presidential candidates, acting president, prime minister, and some MPs, Biden said that he called on Ukraine’s leaders to build new Ukraine, in which human rights and the freedom of speech would be adhered to, power would be inclusive, it would hear the voices of people who speak different languages, like Russian, Hungarian, Polish, and hear the voices of representatives of various confessions.
He repeated the following example twice: there is a restaurant in Miami with a sign that reads: English is spoken here, not Spanish.
Biden also pointed out that he is not naive and understands what challenges are set for Ukraine. “You work hard, and I appeal to you to work even harder. Do not give up. Democracy is not a destination point, it is a path you have to follow and the US will walk beside you, if you choose to follow it,” he ended his speech.
At the beginning of his speech, Biden remembered the words of the third president of the US, who wrote: “A generation that starts a revolution, rarely ends it.” By the way, Biden cited the same quotation during his speech at the Ukrainian House on July 22, 2009. This time he expressed hope that this revolution will give results. And we also hope for it and think that the current government drew conclusions from the Orange Revolution, and the civil society must constantly remind about this and push Ukraine on the path to democracy.
“THE U.S. NEEDS SOME TIME TO ARRIVE AT FINAL ASSESSMENTS AND CONCLUSIONS”
Volodymyr OHRYZKO, former foreign minister of Ukraine:
“This is a very substantial political and diplomatic support for Ukraine against the background of that insane anti-Ukrainian campaign, which has been unleashed in Russia, and absolutely groundless accusations from the Kremlin.
“Biden’s visit is undoubtedly a symbol of powerful support and it proves once more that the US does not recognize the annexation of Crimea.
“But I see the role of the US in this [in confrontation between Ukraine and Russia. – Ed.] more active. Ukraine, which has made a huge contribution in the strengthening of the US security by giving up its nuclear potential, which was aimed at the US, could have counted on more in the military and political spheres on the US part. I also mean the conclusion of an agreement on guarantees (not like the one in the Budapest Memorandum), which the US gives to its partner states it considers strategically important. I mean the profound military and technical aid from the US, which could clearly demonstrate the practical support of Ukraine. Unfortunately, this is not implemented. The US needs some time to arrive at final assessments and conclusions.
“Of course, the US should have reacted more sharply, that is why this formula seems more provocative to me, rather than such that could scare Russia. Even Putin’s last name is far away [from sanctions. – Ed.]. And the sanctions that would be biting for Russia, in energy and banking sectors, ‘are not suitable.’ I think this indecisiveness on the part of the most powerful country in the world evidently does not suit the role it should perform.”
“IT WOULD BE GOOD TO SIGN A BILATERAL SECURITY TREATY BETWEEN UKRAINE AND THE U.S.”
Aliona HETMANCHUK, director, Institute of World Politics:
“As a rule, American vice presidents do not do political tourism for fun, therefore, I perceive Biden’s visit to Ukraine as an absolutely clear political sign of American support for Ukraine. It is also obvious that it is rather a symbolic political signal, and I am not sure if it has any practical consequences for countering Russia’s aggression in the first place. After meeting with Biden I have an impression that the US is more inclined to pay attention to the mid- and long-term challenges Ukraine is facing. As to the short-term challenges (the defense of Ukraine’s territorial integrity), the US has evidently taken a time out, probably, to gather new forces.
“I, for one, have been trying to get the message across to the American party that there are issues which we are quite capable of solving on our own, as a nation. At the same time now there is one issue where we desperately need America’s help. I mean Russia’s aggression, the necessity of American pressure on Putin and American help not only in political and economic aspects, but also in the sphere of security, on a more conspicuous scale. We all see that the Budapest Memorandum is virtually good for nothing, and now Ukraine needs a speedy and strong assistance from the US on the bilateral level. It would be good to sign a bilateral security treaty between Ukraine and the US, of the kind which exist between the US, South Korea, and Japan. If the US is not capable of doing that, it must at least lose no time and introduce the third stage of sanctions against Russia.”