U.S. Vice President Joe Biden visited Ukraine Tuesday to meet with interim Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenuk and acting President Oleksandr Turchynov to discuss how to unite Ukraine and pull the country out of crisis. It is the first time that either that the President or Vice President have visited the country since the ousting of Viktor Yanukovych, the annexation of the Crimean peninsula, and the resulting conflict with Russia.
Biden vowed that the U.S. would stand with Ukraine to help them through this crisis and the U.S. has made it very clear that Russian aggression is intolerable through economic and political isolation.
In the pro-Russian town of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine, residents harshly criticized Biden's visit and the obvious support for what they consider the "illegitimate" government in Kiev.
"The fact that Joseph R. Biden Jr. came to Kiev means only that he can do nothing, and he will never do this to nobody from east Ukraine," said Galina Gornova. "If he wants to do something in Kiev, then he should do it in Kiev. And if [Biden] wants, he should do it with Kiev's illegitimate, self-proclaimed, so much self-proclaimed power as much as he could."
The pro-Russian residents of Donetsk do not consider themselves as part of Ukraine after they declared themselves an "independent republic." Pro-Russian armed activists in the city have refused to leave until a referendum on May 11 that could allow them to officially secede from Ukraine.
"We don't want to recognize the power that came through blood and that is seeding blood," said Viktor Yevstafiev. "People are dying and America is the first to blame for this. America is doing all of this so that Ukraine doesn't live on friendly terms with Russia."
Ukraine and the U.S. have said that, contrary to Yevstafiev's assertions, Russia is the actor that has been deliberately stirring unrest in eastern Ukraine to push further into the region after the Crimean annexation.
"The opportunity to generate a united Ukraine, getting it right is within your grasp," said Biden to the Ukrainian parliament but this hope may slip further away as unrest and tensions continue in the east.
[New York Times]