- The Washington Times - Monday, April 21, 2014

With violence still flaring in eastern Ukraine, Vice President Joseph R. Biden touched down in Kiev on Monday and will discuss a new aid package from the U.S., according to White House officials.

Mr. Biden is the highest-ranking American official to visit Kiev since protests and violence broke out months ago. His visit is designed to show U.S. solidarity with the new government in Kiev, which is trying to fend off further Russian aggression and prevent more violence.

Specifically, the vice president will discuss with Ukrainian leaders a new package of economic and energy assistance. A team of American experts already is on the ground in Ukraine working to help the country take advantage of its own natural gas resources rather than continue to rely on Russia for fuel.

On the economic front, new economic assistance from the U.S. doesn’t necessarily mean more money. Instead, the White House said assistance can come in the form of American personnel on the ground in Ukraine to ensure previous aid packages — such as the $1 billion loan guarantee from the U.S. — are allocated fairly and effectively.

Meanwhile, violence in eastern Ukraine remains a chief concern. Despite a peace deal struck last week, three people were killed Sunday in the city of Slovyansk.

Russian leaders blamed Ukraine for the bloodshed and vowed to intervene further if the situation worsens.

The White House said the details of the violence remain “very murky.”

Moving forward, the administration is prepared to impose further “costs” on Russia, should Moscow continue to undermine peace in Ukraine, White House officials said.

The administration already has put in place economic sanctions on a number of high-ranking Russian officials.

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