During U.S. Vice President Joe Biden's fourth visit to Ukraine Monday since the Russian annexation of Crimea, he announced the U.S. will provide the financially battered Eastern European country with $190 million in financial assistance, Reuters reported. The announcement comes as Ukraine works to reform its political and economic systems and continues a territorial battle with Russia.
"It is absolutely critical for Ukraine to root out the cancer of corruption ... Ukraine is on the cusp -- what happens in the next year is likely to determine the fate of the country for generations," Biden said.
Biden reassured the Ukrainian people that the U.S. has not forgotten about Russia's annexation of Crimea in March 2014 that triggered the war in Eastern Ukraine, which has pitted Russian-backed separatists against Ukrainian government forces and devastated Ukraine's industrial heartland. Over 8,000 people have died in the conflict and over 1.4 million have been displaced.
— The Bankova (@TheBankova) December 7, 2015
Biden said the U.S. would never accept Russia’s annexation of the peninsula and emphasized that Russia must meet the demands agreed to in the February Minsk agreement that officials from both Moscow and Kiev signed in hopes of ending the conflict.
The American leader stressed during his remarks that Ukraine must continue to fight corruption with civil society playing a key role. Biden’s own son, Hunter, is on the board of a Ukrainian energy company that has faced allegations of corruption.
Biden’s remarks come as Ukraine works with the International Monetary Fund to bail out its economy. Ukraine was able to negotiate a 20 percent write-down on $18 billion worth of bonds in August. Russia holds $3 billion worth of bonds and has refused to take part in the write-down. The bonds are due Dec. 20 and Russia has said it will sue Ukraine if payments are not made.
“We have no choice but to file a lawsuit against Ukraine in case of the borrower’s non-fulfillment of its obligations in full by Dec. 20 of this year, which will mean a sovereign default in Ukraine,” Russia’s Finance Ministry said in a statement.
Biden is scheduled to address the Ukrainian parliament Tuesday.