News

Biden offers Kiev U.S. help, condemns corruption

Biden offers Kiev U.S. help, condemns corruption

KIEV:U.S. Vice President Joe Biden (L) shakes hands with Ukraine's Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk during a meeting in Kiev, April 22. Photo: Reuters/Valentyn Ogirenko

KIEV (Reuters) – U.S. Vice President Joe Biden told Ukrainian presidential candidates and members of parliament on Tuesday that Washington was ready to help Ukraine’s economy but warned them they must fight the “cancer” of endemic corruption.

In Kiev to offer a symbolic show of U.S. support, Biden said the presidential election on May 25 would be an opportunity to lay the groundwork for a more unified and prosperous country.

Washington, he said, was ready to assist in holding it.

“You’re a month away from what I would respectfully suggest … may be the most important election in Ukrainian history,” Biden said during a meeting at the parliament building.

Biden’s visit to Ukraine follows the signing in Geneva last Thursday of a four-way peace deal to de-escalate tension in eastern Ukraine where pro-Russian separatists have seized towns and key facilities.

The Kiev leadership says the rebellions in the east are inspired and directed by Russia, one of the signatories of the Geneva accord, which annexed Crimea in March.

The Geneva accord is having only limited effect, however, with separatists refusing to put down their arms and pull out of key occupied points in line with the agreement.

Saying Ukraine faced humiliating threats and daunting problems, Biden said the United States was ready to assist its leaders in seizing a chance to create national unity.

“The opportunity to generate a united Ukraine, getting it right, is within your grasp. And we want to be your partner and friend,” he said.

A U.S. official told reporters on Monday that Biden would discuss energy security with Ukraine’s leaders, including ways to increase domestic production of natural gas. Kiev currently relies heavily on gas supplies from Moscow.

Biden told the legislators it would take time for Ukraine to achieve energy security but it was within the country’s power to do so.

“Imagine where you’d be today if you were able to tell Russia: keep your gas. It would be a very different world,” he said.

Biden said the United States was ready to help Ukraine stabilize and strengthen its economy, but he warned the leaders they needed to crack down on abuses within the political system.

“To be very blunt about it … you have to fight the cancer of corruption,” he said.

Billionaire confectionary oligarch Petro Poroshenko, who with former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko is one of the front-runners in the May election, was present at Tuesday’s meeting.

(Writing by Jeff Mason; Editing by Richard Balmforth and Andrew Heavens)

Recent Headlines

in Entertainment

Catherine Zeta-Jones to play drug kingpin in new biopic

Fresh
zetajones

The actress will play Griselda Blanco, the first and only woman to rise to the high ranks of Colombia's Medellin drug cartel.

in Music

Eddie Vedder covers John Lennon for charity

Fresh
vedder

The rocker released a cover of the peace anthem "Imagine" in a bid to raise funds for a charity supporting unity in the Middle East.

in Entertainment

Mila Kunis is a mom

kunikutcher

Former "That '70s Show" co-stars Kunis and Ashton Kutcher have become parents for the first time.

in Music

Tony Bennett sets record for oldest artist to top Billboard

tonybennett

At 88, the veteran performer is the oldest living artist to land a No. 1 record, with his latest compilation of duets with Lady Gaga.

in Sports, Trending, Viral Videos

TODAY’S MUST SEE: Team’s ‘Ugly Kardashian’ trick play

17-overlay2

Lewis and Clark Middle School's football team gets tricky with a special play called the "Ugly Kardashian."