Vice President Jo Biden's show of support arrival in Ukraine started with a somewhat back-handed statement that left some questioning Biden's diplomatic skills once again. "You face some very daunting problems and some might say humiliating threats are taking place," Biden spoke to Ukraine officials, pledging an additional $50 million to help Ukraine's beleaguered government with political and economic reforms. As CBS reports, The White House has also announced $8 million in nonlethal military assistance for the Ukrainian armed forces, including bomb-disposal equipment, communications gear and vehicles. Biden concluded his oratory with a threat - that seemed oddly worded given the 'actions' of the last few days, warning Russia that "it's time to stop talking and start acting."
As CBS reports, in the most high-level visit of a U.S. official since crisis erupted in Ukraine, Biden earlier told leaders from various political parties that he brought a message of support from President Obama as they face a historic opportunity to usher in reforms.
"The opportunity to generate a united Ukraine and getting it right is within your grasp," Biden said. "And we want to be your partner and friend in the project. We're ready to assist.
Biden met acting Ukrainian President Oleksandr Turchynov and acting Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk and democracy activists before announcing the new aid.
"You face some very daunting problems and some might say humiliating threats are taking place," Biden said.
And promised more aid - to help the Ukrainians deal with their humilation?
The vice president also announced the United States would provide an additional $50 million to help Ukraine's beleaguered government with political and economic reforms.
The money includes $11 million to help conduct the May 25 presidential election, including voter education, administration and oversight. It also will help fund expert teams from U.S. government agencies to help Ukraine to reduce its reliance on energy supplies from Russia. Other technical advisers will help fight corruption.
The White House has also announced $8 million in nonlethal military assistance for the Ukrainian armed forces, including bomb-disposal equipment, communications gear and vehicles.
But the anti-Russia rhetoric was strong...
In a very loosely veiled reference to the alleged Russian troops in eastern Ukraine, Biden urged Russia to "stop supporting men hiding behind masks." Russian President Vladimir Putin flatly denied that any of his special forces were in eastern Ukraine in a live television appearance last week, dismissing the claims as "nonsense."
Biden told the lawmakers a priority for the U.S. is to help them become independent from Russian energy supplies. "Imagine where you'd stand today if you could tell Russia to keep your own gas," Biden said.
Biden added, "You have to fight the cancer of corruption that is endemic in your system right now."
"I want you to know I do not underestimate the incredible pressure you all are under," Biden said. "I do not underestimate the challenges you all face. And I do not underestimate the frustration you all must feel when someone like me comes along to say what a great opportunity this is for you all."
Frustration indeed. But his final words were for Putin...
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden warned Russia on Tuesday that "it's time to stop talking and start acting" to reduce tension in Ukraine.