Joe Biden vows to Ukraine: ‘We want to be your partner and friend’

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Vice President Joseph R. Biden said to Ukrainian political officials on Tuesday that the United States has their back when it comes to defending themselves against “humiliating threats” from Russian aggressors.

“The opportunity to generate a united Ukraine and getting it right is within your grasp,” Mr. Biden said, during the most high-level visit of a U.S. official to Ukraine since the military standoff with Russia started, CBS News reported. “And we want to be your partner and friend in the project. We’re ready to assist.”

SEE ALSO: ‘Reverse flow’ — pushing gas from EU — seen as way to aid Ukraine, hit Russia

Mr. Biden made the remarks to nine leading Ukraine government officials — some of whom are seeking political office in the May 25 elections — while standing in a hearing room at the parliament building, called Rada, CBS said. A few hours earlier, the U.S. vice president had met with acting Ukrainian President Oleksandr Turchynov.

He also made the remarks as various U.S. polls show Americans by and large don’t want the United States to inject itself too deeply into the Ukraine-Russia affair.

After his meetings are concluded, Mr. Biden said he’ll announce the specifics of what that U.S. promise of support means in terms of helping Ukraine with its energy and economic reforms, CBS said. But one U.S. priority: To help Ukraine wean itself off Russian energy sources, Mr. Biden said.

“You face some very daunting problems and some might say humiliating threats are taking place,” he said, CBS reported. “Imagine where you’d stand today if you could tell Russia to keep your own gas.”

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