Pro-Kremlin activists rally at the Red Square in Moscow to celebrate the incorporation of Crimea yesterday.
WARSAW: US Vice-President Joe Biden told Nato allies in eastern Europe yesterday that the alliance was unwavering in its commitment to protect them from attack, offering reassurance after what he called Russia’s “land grab” in Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula.
Biden was in the Polish capital at the start of a two-day mission to demonstrate to countries on Russia’s western borders, nervous they could be next in line after Crimea, that the United States stands by them.
After talks with Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk, Biden said they had discussed ways to reduce the region’s dependence on imported Russian gas, which US officials say the Kremlin uses as a lever of political pressure, and reviewed their mutual commitments as members of the Nato military alliance.
Biden spoke moments after Russian President Vladimir Putin, at a ceremony in Moscow, signed a document on Crimea’s admission into the Russian Federation, although Ukraine’s government and Western powers have said they will not recognise the move.
Putin acted after a referendum vote in Crimea, a majority ethnic Russian region of Ukraine, in favour of union with Russia following mass unrest that toppled Kiev’s pro-Russian president. The West called the referendum a Moscow-orchestrated sham.
Russia’s leaders had “rushed an illegal referendum in Crimea that was not surprisingly rejected by virtually the entire world”, Biden, standing alongside Tusk, told a news conference.
“We join Poland and the international community in condemning the continuing assault on Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and the blatant violation of international law,” he said.
“Russia has offered a variety of arguments to justify what is nothing more than a land grab But the world has seen through Russia’s actions and rejected the logic, the flawed logic, behind those actions.”
Biden said that the events in Crimea were a reminder to Nato members that they need to stand together.