US Vice President Joe Biden is in Kiev where he is expected to meet Ukrainian leaders and announce a raft of measures in support of the country's economy. Biden's visit is however primarily of political importance and comes at a crucial moment when the Ukraine crisis seems to be entering a decisive phase. The visit of the highest ranking US official to Ukraine since the crisis erupted last year indicates that the United States has now decided to throw its weight fully behind the Ukrainian authorities as they attempt to keep the country together in the face of blatant attempts by Russia to dismember it. After Russia invaded and annexed Crimea in March, throughout the last days the world has seen thinly veiled Russian attempts to repeat the same scenario in Ukraine's eastern region of Donetsk.
There is widespread anger and dismay in Western capitals that Russia has taken no steps to implement an agreement that it reached last Thursday in talks in Geneva with representatives of Ukraine, the United States and the European Union. Instead Foreign Minister Lavrov has on Monday said that the Ukrainian authorities have lost control of the situation, in a further attempt to try to undermine their right to represent the Ukrainian nation.
Commonspace.eu political editor said in a comment that it is becoming clear that the Obama administration has come to the conclusion that Putin's Russia is no longer a reliable partner in the international system and needs to be contained rather than engaged. Whilst the confrontation is currently being played out in Ukraine the issue has now become even bigger. New sanctions are likely to be announced within days and this will be accompanied by moves to bolster NATO's presence in Eastern Europe. In Ukraine itself things will get worse before they get better. There is still a month to go before the May 25th presidential elections which are seen as being of crucial importance to re-affirm the legitimacy of the country's leadership. It is clear that what the Russians are trying to do is to create enough instability in Eastern Ukraine in order for these elections to fail in at least part of the country.
photo: US Vice President Joe Biden (archive picture).