U.S. Vice President Joe Biden says that ''the international community'' must stand up against Russian aggression and urges the incoming Trump administration to be a strong supporter and partner of Ukraine. Harvey Biggs reports.
With just days left as America's vice president, Joe Biden made Ukraine his final foreign destination. And, speaking in the capital Kiev, called on the world to continue to stand up to Russia. "Ukraine, like every country in Europe, has a right to determine its own path, yet Russia seeks to deny that choice. And the international community must continue to stand as one against Russia aggression and coersion," said Mr Biden. The outgoing-VP has joked that he spent more time talking to the Ukraine administration than he does to his wife. He has led Washington's policy towards the Eastern European country, visiting five times since the uprising in 2013-14 which installed a pro-western government, backing tough sanctions against Russia after it annexed the Crimea peninsula, and supporting efforts to end Russian-backed separatist violence in the country's east. But Donald Trump, who will be inaugurated on Friday, has mooted ending the sanctions in exchange for a deal to reduce the Kremlin's nuclear arsenal. "If you continue to carry your progress forward, then not only will you continue to build a more open, more democratic future that Ukrainian people deserve, you will keep the international community united behind you in that effort. And I hope the next administration will also want to be supporter and a partner in your continued progress." said Mr Biden. Biden saying sanctions shouldn't be lifted until Russia has fully co-operated with the deal to end separatist violence in the east, and handed back full control of Crimea. But, with the Trump-era fast approaching, there is concern about the role the U.S will now play, as Reuters' Alessandra Prentice in Kiev explains. "The problem is no body knows. His open admiration of Vladimir Putin and his suggestion that he might ease sanctions against Russia have definitely raised concerns that international resolve to hold Russia to account for its actions against Ukraine could waver," said Ms Prentice. Asked by a reporter on the way out of the press conference if he thought the next administation will place the same priority on the US/Ukraine relationship as he had, Mr Biden quipped, "Hope springs eternal."