Ukraine crisis: Joe Biden warns Russia ‘time is short’ for it to ease tensions

US Vice-President threatens Moscow with further sanctions if it does not comply with Geneva Accord

US Editor

The sparring between Russia and the West over the turmoil in eastern Ukraine intensified as United States Vice-President Joe Biden told Moscow that “time is short” for it to comply with an accord reached in Geneva last week on lowering tensions in the region if it is to avoid new punitive sanctions.

Worsening the tensions, the acting Ukrainian president, Oleksander Turchynov, vowed to intervene after the discovery of the body of a politician from his own party in the city of Slovyansk. The victim, he said, had been “brutally tortured”. “These crimes are being carried out with the full support and indulgence of the Russian Federation,” he said. “I call on the security agencies to relaunch and carry out effective anti-terrorist measures, with the aim of protecting Ukrainian citizens living in eastern Ukraine from terrorists.”

As Mr Biden made his remarks on a high-profile visit to Kiev, the Russian Prime Minister, Dmitry Medvedev, told parliament in Moscow he was confident the country could “minimise” the impact of additional sanctions. “We will not allow our citizens to become hostages of political games,” he added.

 

The accord hammered out in Geneva by Western powers, Russia and Ukraine last week appeared to be on life-support. Pro-Russia militants in several cities in eastern Ukraine have refused to lay down their arms and remain in control of several government buildings. Kiev said that one of its spotter planes in the area had been struck by bullets but had landed safely.

While Moscow denies it is encouraging the rebellion, Mr Biden, who has returned to Washington, insisted the onus was on Moscow to end the crisis. “We’ve heard a lot from Russian officials in the past few days. But now it’s time for Russia to stop talking and start acting,” he told reporters. “We will not allow this to become an open- ended process. Time is short in which to make progress.”

He also called on President Vladimir Putin to pull back Russian troops deployed close to Ukraine’s border in Russia. “No nation should threaten its neighbours by amassing troops along the border. We call on Russia to pull these forces,” he said after meeting the Ukrainian Prime Minister, Arseniy Yatseniuk.

Tonight the US said it was sending troops to eastern Europe. On Monday officials in Washington said they would act “within days” to intensify sanctions on Russia if progress on implementing the Geneva pact is not made. But in Brussels, top European Union diplomats signalled that new sanctions, though under preparation, were not imminent. “We are still thinking about giving the Geneva Accord a little bit more time,” one diplomat said.

Michael Mann, a spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, confirmed the delay. “Clearly throughout this discussion, what happens in terms of sanctions is very much dependent on what is happening on the ground in Ukraine.”

Even as Mr Biden used his trip to offer symbolic support to the Ukrainian interim government, including pledging $50m more in aid, some of which will be earmarked to fund the elections next month, he also had strong words for its shortcomings, notably regarding endemic graft in the system.

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

In a meeting with leading members of parliament, including several candidates for the presidency, Biden spoke of the “heroism” of Ukrainians and of the “humiliating threats” they face in trying to create a united nation: “Getting it right is within your grasp,” he said. “And we want to be your partner, your friend in the project. And we’re ready to assist.”

Mr Medvedev confirmed during his parliament speech that Russia is bracing itself for new sanctions from the West over Ukraine. “We will not give up on co-operation with foreign companies, including from Western countries, but we will be ready for unfriendly steps,” he declared.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
Buttoned up: Ryan Reynolds with Helen Mirren in ‘Woman in Gold’
filmFor every box-office smash in his Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. Now he says it's time for a reboot
News
people
News
Actress Julianne Moore wins the Best Actress in a Leading Role Award for 'Still Alice' during the 87th Annual Academy Awards in Hollywood, California
people
Sport
Ross Barkley
footballPaul Scholes says it's time for the Everton playmaker to step up and seize the England No 10 shirt
News
'We will fix it': mice in the 1970s children’s programme Bagpuss
science
Life and Style
2 Karl Lagerfeld and Choupette
fashion
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Executive

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Retail Buyer / Ecommerce Buyer

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Working closely with the market...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - CAD Software Solutions Sales

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A reputable company, famed for ...

Ashdown Group: Client Accountant Team Manager - Reading

Negotiable: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group has been engaged by a highly resp...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria's capital

War with Isis

Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria
Scientists develop mechanical spring-loaded leg brace to improve walking

A spring in your step?

Scientists develop mechanical leg brace to help take a load off
Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock: How London shaped the director's art and obsessions

Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock

Ackroyd has devoted his literary career to chronicling the capital and its characters. He tells John Walsh why he chose the master of suspense as his latest subject
Ryan Reynolds interview: The actor is branching out with Nazi art-theft drama Woman in Gold

Ryan Reynolds branches out in Woman in Gold

For every box-office smash in Ryan Reynolds' Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. It's time for a rethink and a reboot, the actor tells James Mottram
Why Robin Williams safeguarded himself against a morbid trend in advertising

Stars safeguard against morbid advertising

As film-makers and advertisers make increasing posthumous use of celebrities' images, some stars are finding new ways of ensuring that they rest in peace
The UK horticulture industry is facing a skills crisis - but Great Dixter aims to change all that

UK horticulture industry facing skills crisis

Great Dixter manor house in East Sussex is encouraging people to work in the industry by offering three scholarships a year to students, as well as generous placements
Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head

Hack Circus: Technology, art and learning

Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head. Rhodri Marsden meets mistress of ceremonies Leila Johnston
Sevenoaks is split over much-delayed decision on controversial grammar school annexe

Sevenoaks split over grammar school annexe

If Weald of Kent Grammar School is given the go-ahead for an annexe in leafy Sevenoaks, it will be the first selective state school to open in 50 years
10 best compact cameras

A look through the lens: 10 best compact cameras

If your smartphone won’t quite cut it, it’s time to invest in a new portable gadget
Paul Scholes column: Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now

Paul Scholes column

Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now
Why Michael Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Why Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Manchester United's talented midfielder has played international football for almost 14 years yet, frustratingly, has won only 32 caps, says Sam Wallace
Tracey Neville: The netball coach who is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

Tracey Neville is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

The former player on how she is finding time to coach both Manchester Thunder in the Superleague and England in this year's World Cup
General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?