Joe Biden warns Ukraine to cut corruption as US provides $190m in aid

US Vice-President's comments reflect growing international impatience at the slow pace of reform

Dmitry Vlasov
Tuesday 08 December 2015 19:19
US Vice President Joe Biden addresses the Ukraine parliament in Kiev
US Vice President Joe Biden addresses the Ukraine parliament in Kiev

The US Vice-President, Joe Biden, warned Ukraine against backsliding in the fight against the corruption that “eats Ukraine like cancer”, hours after announcing an additional $190m (£127m) tranche of American aid to help conduct structural reforms.

In a speech to the Ukrainian parliament, Mr Biden told MPs that Ukraine should do more to fight corruption or it will lose international support.

His comments reflect growing international impatience at the slow pace of reform in Ukraine. The previous President, Viktor Yanukovych, fled the country in February last year after months of anti-government protests in Kiev that were fuelled by anger over corruption.

“We saw oligarchs ousted from power, only for them to return,” Mr Biden said. “We understand how difficult some of the votes for reforms are but they are critical for putting Ukraine back on the right path.”

Nearly two years after the February 2014 revolution ushered in a new government, Ukraine still has hardly embarked on judicial and police reforms. President Petro Poroshenko has been criticised for not doing enough to fight oligarchs, many of whom have remained powerful brokers and have taken on roles of managing crucial eastern regions bordering on the separatist-controlled areas.

The country’s Prime Minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, is under growing pressure to step aside from Mikheil Saakashvili, the former President of Georgia who was appointed Governor of Ukraine’s Odessa region by Mr Poroshenko and has been given the task of taking on the country’s oligarchs. Mr Biden urged Ukraine to carry out painful but crucial reforms to make governance more transparent, noting that “corruption eats Ukraine like cancer”.

Earlier, he emphasised the need for Russia to meet its obligations under February’s Minsk agreement that was intended to end the fighting in eastern Ukraine. “The United States stands firmly with the people of Ukraine in the face of continued – I emphasise, continued – aggression from Russia and Russian-backed separatists,” he said, underlining that the US would never accept Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula. “Moscow eventually has to end its occupation of Ukraine’s sovereign territory.”

Ukraine restored electricity to the Russian-occupied Crimean peninsula yesterday, after it was cut off on 22 November when powerlines leading to Crimea were blown up by unknown attackers.


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