Biden warns Russia over Ukraine on Maidan anniversary

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US Vice President Joe Biden tells Russia it faces paying an ever-higher price over Ukraine as tensions ratcheted up on the first anniversary of mass protests which unleashed a year of turmoil. Duration: 00:42

Biden warns Russia over Ukraine on Maidan anniversary

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Biden warns Russia over Ukraine on Maidan anniversary

by Katherine HADDON

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ATTENTION – RECASTS throughout with Biden comments ///

KIEV, Nov 21, 2014 (AFP) – US Vice President Joe Biden told Russia Friday it faced paying an ever-higher price over Ukraine as tensions ratcheted up on the first anniversary of mass protests which unleashed a year of turmoil.

Biden described as “unacceptable” the Kremlin’s role in the crisis in eastern Ukraine, where Moscow denies giving military assistance to pro-Russian separatists in a seven-month conflict which has killed 4,300 people.

Hinting at possible new sanctions, he warned Russia had failed to fulfil its commitments under a September peace plan, adding: “So long as that continues, Russia will face rising costs, greater isolation.”

Meanwhile, crowds gathered in Kiev’s Independence Square, known as Maidan, to remember the more than 100 people who died in demonstrations that started on November 21 last year.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko was heckled by relatives of the dead shouting “Shame!” over the authorities’ failure to convict anyone over the deaths as he laid a candle at the shrines.

Mourners left flowers and wept or crossed themselves, while others said fresh protests were needed to bring real change to Ukraine, where corruption is rife.

“Of course, we are disappointed. Nothing changed,” said Petro Runkiv, a 58-year-old civil engineer who took part in the protests.

“We need reforms and we are here to let our government know that we are ready for one more Maidan.”

On a frantic day of diplomacy, Ukraine’s leaders also announced the formation of a five-party parliamentary coalition comprising the groupings of President Petro Poroshenko, Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk and former premier Yulia Tymoshenko.

The coalition will, for the first time, be strong enough to pass amendments to the constitution and comes after elections in October.

— Ukraine hoped for more US aid —

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As Biden met Poroshenko and Yatsenyuk, Kiev claimed that shelling was taking place from across the Russian border for the first time since a tattered ceasefire was signed in September.

Ukrainian military spokesman Andriy Lysenko said that in the past day, artillery was fired at a border post in the Lugansk area from the direction of Manotsky in Russia’s Rostov region.

Ukraine’s government has for months urged the US to give it weapons and ammunition to fight pro-Moscow forces in the east.

Ministers had hoped Biden would use his visit to announce further US assistance for its forces but his office announced only $23 million (18 million euros) to support justice reforms and food rations.

That brings to nearly $320 million the US has committed this year, including $46 million of non-lethal security assistance for equipment such as night vision goggles, body armour and radios announced in September.

Russia has warned against the US arming Ukrainian forces, with the secretary of its national security council, Nikolai Patrushev, saying the conflict in eastern Ukraine “will grow” if this happened.

Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby told reporters Thursday that the US was “still focused on non-lethal assistance right now”.

The ceasefire in place in eastern Ukraine since September 5 has failed to prevent almost 1,000 people from dying in fighting since, according to the United Nations.

One more Ukrainian soldier and two civilians were killed in the region in the last 24 hours, Ukrainian security officials said Friday.

The unrest in Ukraine’s industrial east dates back to April and follows Russia’s annexation of Crimea earlier this year.

That in turn came after Ukraine’s pro-Moscow president Viktor Yanukovych was ousted in February following the deaths at Maidan.

Tags : anniversary, Maidan, Ukraine, over, russia, warns, Biden

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