Ukraine crisis: Biden says Russia must 'start acting'


Joe Biden: "Ukraine faces a struggle for its very future"

US Vice-President Joe Biden has said Russia must "stop talking and start acting" to defuse the Ukraine crisis.

He was speaking after meeting interim PM Arseniy Yatsenyuk in Kiev.

Mr Biden warned Russia that further "provocative behaviour" would lead to "greater isolation" and urged Moscow to end its alleged support for pro-Russian militants in eastern Ukraine.

Separately, a Ukrainian military plane was hit by small arms fire over eastern Ukraine, the defence ministry says.

Funerals in Sloviansk, eastern Ukraine, 22 April Funerals for those killed at a pro-Russian checkpoint near Sloviansk took place on Tuesday

At the funerals

In the Church of the Holy Spirit in the centre of Sloviansk, an Orthodox priest chanted prayers for the dead. The bodies of three pro-Russian activists, shot dead at a makeshift checkpoint on Easter Sunday, lay in open coffins.

When the coffins were carried out of the church, the crowd outside shouted "Glory to the Heroes of the Donbass!" over and over again - Donbass being the name for the Don River basin. Church bells rang out.

The people I've been speaking to here are convinced that it was Ukrainian ultra-nationalists who carried out Sunday's attack. One woman told me she was proud to be Ukrainian, but that instability and violence was pushing people here to want closer ties to Russia.

The aircraft suffered minor damage over Sloviansk, which is held by pro-Russian militants, when it was targeted by automatic gunfire, according to the ministry. No-one was hurt and the plane returned safely to Kiev.

"Thanks to professional actions, military pilots managed to land the plane at the airfield without consequences," the ministry's statement said.

The Antonov An-30 aerial survey plane was carrying out surveillance at the time.

The funerals have meanwhile taken place of three men shot on Sunday during a raid on a checkpoint manned by pro-Russian separatists near Sloviansk.

The local separatists said the attack was carried out by ultra-nationalist Right Sector militants but Kiev called it a "provocation" staged by Russian special forces.

The bodies of those killed lay in open coffins at the funeral ceremony at the Church of the Holy Spirit in the centre of Sloviansk.

'Endemic' corruption

Earlier in remarks to Ukrainian MPs, Mr Biden said the US stood with Ukraine's new leaders against "humiliating threats" - an apparent reference to Russia.

The vice-president called on Moscow to urge the pro-Russian separatists to leave the buildings they are occupying in eastern Ukraine, and to abandon checkpoints.

Mr Biden also stressed the need for the new authorities to tackle corruption, adding: "The opportunity to generate a united Ukraine, getting it right is within your grasp."

The US is to provide an additional $50m for political and economic reforms in Ukraine, including $11m to help run the presidential election due on 25 May.

An further $8m is being provided for non-lethal military assistance, such as bomb disposal equipment and radios.

After meeting Mr Biden, interim PM Yatsenyuk accused Russia of behaving "as gangsters in the modern century".

The BBC's Natalia Antelava visited a protest camp in Luhansk

Flowers lay in the road as a memorial to three men shot on Easter Sunday at a checkpoint near Sloviansk Flowers lie on the road near the site of Sunday's fatal shooting
A pro-Russian militant looks out from the barricaded entrance of the city council building on 21 April 2014 in Sloviansk Pro-Russian militants are still holding official buildings in at least nine towns and cities in the Donetsk region
'Tatars banned'

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday signed a decree to rehabilitate Crimea's Muslim Tatars and other ethnic minorities who suffered during the rule of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin.

After a referendum in Crimea last month, the territory was incorporated into Russia, something Mr Biden said the US would never recognise.

Crimea's Tatar community opposed the peninsula's takeover by Russia. On Tuesday, the Tatar assembly said the leader of the community, Mustafa Dzhemilev, had been banned from returning to Crimea for five years, along with his deputy.

'Men in masks'

Moscow and Washington are accusing each other of breaking last week's Geneva accord on resolving the Ukraine crisis, and the US is planning further sanctions should Russia fail to fulfil its Geneva commitments.

But Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev told the Russian parliament on Tuesday that Russia would be able to "minimise the consequences" of any further sanctions.

The 17 April Geneva accord stipulated an immediate end to violence in eastern Ukraine and called on illegal armed groups to surrender their weapons and leave official buildings.

Sergei Lavrov: "All signs show that Kiev can't, and maybe doesn't want to, control the extremists who continue to call the shots"

Pro-Russian militants are still holding official buildings in at least nine towns and cities in the Donetsk region.

In Kramatorsk, another building - a police station - was seized on Tuesday.

Mr Biden again accused Russia of supporting "men in masks in unmarked uniforms" who the US says are directing pro-Russian activity in the East.

Moscow denies being behind the protests and seizures of buildings.

However, Ukraine says photos released by the Ukrainian government and distributed by the US State Department show Russian soldiers among militants holding official buildings in eastern Ukraine.

Five photos provided by the Ukrainian government appear to show the same soldier (circled in red) in operations in Kramatorsk and Sloviansk in Ukraine, as well as a group photo showing a sabotage-reconnaissance group in the Russian Special Forces Photos released by the Ukrainian government purport to show a soldier, circled in red, in both Kramatorsk and Sloviansk, and in a photo (centre) showing a group in the Russian Special Forces

There was no immediate response to the pictures from the Russian government.

Ukraine has been in turmoil since last November, when Kiev was gripped by protests over whether the country should lean more towards Russia or Europe.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 881.

    Love Obama, watch this.

    Is this HYS IT department in Mumbai?

  • rate this

    Comment number 880.

    Indeed I can. So can Russians.

    If I suspect the US has special forces in Ukraine, you say I have no evidence. But if you suspect Russia has special forces in Ukraine, no evidence is needed.

    And no country ever announces the deployment of special forces at the time. It took the US 60 years to admit that it sent the CIA to Iran to organise a coup in 1953.

  • rate this

    Comment number 879.

    @ 873 Skywatchman

    please can i have next weeks lotto numbers? I ask because your prophetic knowledge for what Putin has, will or could have done is nothing short of a miracle :)

  • rate this

    Comment number 878.

    836 Lucy

    "What ultimately took down the Native Americans was European diseases"

    I wasn't aware that Fox News ran the American news organisations during the 19th century already

    You'll tell us next that they went into 'reservations' (concentration camps in all but name) of their own free will proceeding to starve themselves to death

  • rate this

    Comment number 877.

    This could start a world war - which is why America is chomping at the bit - they can't wait, or so it seems. Having failed in Syria, they are looking for another bloodletting fest.

    Please - ALL war is wrong because it hurts the innocent, the young and the old.

    So pressure on the USA please via your MPs:

    1) Tell Cameron and crew to keep out
    2) Tell the USA likewise

    Please,for us all

  • rate this

    Comment number 876.

    The similarities to the Nazi German annexation (invasion and occupancy) of Austria in 1938 should not be overlooked. Internal Nazi factions in Austria undertook a coup shortly before a legal referendum which was then cancelled and German troops invaded to 'support and protect'. The 'vote' to ratify the annexation seemingly polled 99.7% in favour...

    Putin is the only one who can stop this.

  • rate this

    Comment number 875.

    When EU-US TTIP trade agreement is signed - this will allow American corporations to take over running Ukraines borders (as every outsourced public sector contract can be taken over by American corporations using this "trade agreement"

    Also Monsanto can flood Ukraine with GM crops using the proposed EU-US trade agreement - as the CIA states Ukraine is the bread basket of Europe

  • rate this

    Comment number 874.

    @850Steve that is a lie. The legally appointed government voted to remove the former president after he fled abandoning his post leaving a vacuum that Putain was expecting to be able to exploit. The presence of undeclared Russain forces on sovereign Ukrainian territory under the pretence of "protecting" Rusaain speakers from a non existant threat shows that Putains plan did not quite work.

  • rate this

    Comment number 873.

    No matter what the people of Ukraine think and wish for Putin has already made up his mind that he wants at least the eastern part of the country under his control

    If he can achieve the split of east and west Urkaine he will have his buffer zone between the EU/Nato/US and his power base

    If the EU had been slower Putin would have manipulated the situation so he could annex the whole of Ukraine

  • rate this

    Comment number 872.

    Do we really have the thing called democracy for everybody in real life? Who define the democracy according to what?

  • rate this

    Comment number 871.

    I do not know who as at fault here but I suspect the truth will be murky, grey and indeterminate.

    I do know that two major wars nearly destroyed Europe and certainly left us badly, perhaps permanently, damaged.

    The thought of another war with another major European power is heartbreaking.

    With the rest of the world encroaching on Europe this would be the final nail in our coffin.

  • rate this

    Comment number 870.

    842. Global Yawning

    I don't think you do either you're just obsessed with EU/US. I could also say that it was Putin who threw his toys out and basically had to resort to invading Crimea when a section of Ukrainian society (with or without West's backing, which was more subtle than invasion, therefore arguably more successful) rejected his power play and toppled the government.

  • rate this

    Comment number 869.

    Old Muso

    Like most lovers of the BBC you've missed the point. None of these articles highlight the real issue, the truth. They play a lip sink service in the first few lines, then go into great detail persuading the reader they are anything but neo-Nazis.

    It's pathetic, and a long standing BBC tactic. Just like their choice of pictures in every article.

  • rate this

    Comment number 868.

    854. annieavatar
    You trust Russia to resolve things in the interests of the Ukrainian people?

  • rate this

    Comment number 867.


    Dear Margaret,

    I'm talking about the actions of the superpowers in Ukraine, so let me put it another way: Why is it OK to support street mobs in western Ukraine but not in eastern Ukraine? Surely we should not be supporting street mobs anywhere, including both Kiev and Crimea.

  • rate this

    Comment number 866.

    Moderators should be renamed 'Manipulators'.

  • rate this

    Comment number 865.

    Most of people in Ukraine are stupid enough to believe that EU membership is within their reach and pretty much soon they will be able to join other Eastern European nations who considered to be dead cheap labor in the EU. Unfortunately for them, in my opinion EU membership is at least 10 years, more likely 15 years away....
    What EU/UK/US will do in 5 years time when when everybody realizes that?

  • rate this

    Comment number 864.

    The ratings on this site have been nobbled you try and give a negative comment on a pro russian comment and it shows a positive. Come on BBC get your IT people to stop this.

  • rate this

    Comment number 863.

    We all know that the only action Russia will take is to use force to gain control of a large chunk of Ukraine.
    Russia taking control of Crimea by armed force just like they refused to allow Chechnya independence although the majority wanted independence.
    It appears Stalin has been reincarnated as Putin.

  • rate this

    Comment number 862.

    @834 Badon1
    Dear Hamish,
    Check your history when Briton was close to being invaded Stalin was mates with hitler

    Dear Badon, selective use of history is what I just warned you against, it distorts reality, poisons brains and ruins lives.

    Do you remember an incident involving a gentleman waving a white hanky?

    PS. Which particular Briton was Germany planning to attack?


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