Biden in Europe to assure allies of U.S. commitment on Ukraine

March 18, 2014 at 10:52 AM
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WARSAW, Poland, March 18 (UPI) -- U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk met in Warsaw, discussing what Tusk called Russia's "unacceptable" annexation of Crimea.

"The actual annexation of Crimea by Russia, an annexation that is unacceptable to the international community including Poland, changes overnight the borders" of Ukraine and Russia, Tusk said Tuesday during a media availability with Biden. "It increases the risk in Eastern Europe but it also has global implications."

Biden was traveling to Warsaw and Vilnius, Lithuania, to "reassure our allies who are deeply concerned about Russia's aggressive actions in Ukraine and what the broader implications of those actions might be," a senior Obama administration official said Monday during a background briefing on Biden's trip.

In Warsaw, Biden said NATO was committed to help Ukraine, respecting its cultural affinities and history with its neighbors.

"Unfortunately, Russian leaders have responded with a brazen, brazen military incursion," Biden said, condemning President Vladimir Putin's "blatant, blatant disregard of international law."

Biden said the United States would honor the NATO agreement that guarantees a collective response to a threat to member state and sent a dozen F-16s to a Polish base and will expand military trainers to help Poland modernize its army.

Biden said he and Tusk discussed ways to make Poland less reliant on Russian gas and that the prime minister informed him about efforts to "reverse natural gas flows" and find new sources of natural gas.

The administration official said energy security in Europe would be discussed and include topics such as diversification of supply and creating conditions in which energy "can't be a tool or a lever for any kind of political gain or political cost by another country." Europe relies on Russia for energy supplies.

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