Biden to test US face-saving retreat plan for Ukraine
During his two-day visit, Biden will meet with senior Ukrainian officials to discuss efforts to help stabilize and strengthen Ukraine's economy and assist Kiev in moving forward on constitutional reform, decentralization of government power, energy independence, anti-corruption efforts and free and fair presidential elections scheduled for May 25.
Washington's repeated policy failures in Ukraine have necessitated a US retreat without losing face, Rostislav Ishchenko, President of the Kiev-based Centre for Analysis and Prognosis, said. "I think that he [Biden] will now head to Ukraine to understand if the US still has a possibility to leave without losing face and how the Kiev authorities can perform the duty not to protect US interests in Ukraine, but the duty to cover up the retreat," Ishchenko said.
According to the expert, it has now become clear that the Kiev regime is unable to comply with the Geneva agreement signed with the United States and Russia last Thursday. In a bid to de-escalate the conflict, top diplomats from Russia, Ukraine, the United States and the European Union approved a statement calling on the sides to refrain from violence, extremism and provocations, disarm militants and launch a national dialogue on constitutional reform.
"We also understand that [Kiev] cannot suppress riots in the southeast, which has more chances to suppress Kiev," he said.
Federalization supporters in Kharkiv, Donetsk, Gorlovka, Slaviansk and Kramatorsk have refused to recognize the legitimacy of the current Ukrainian government and are urging interim authorities to hold referendums similar to the one held in Crimea last month, which led to the republic's reunification with Russia.
Ukrainian authorities have launched a special operation to crack down on the protests in the country's southeast, involving military forces.
The city of Slaviansk, in northern Donetsk region, has become a flashpoint for tensions between Ukraine's rival camps. Slaviansk is currently under the control of self-defense forces. At least three people died early on Sunday as unknown gunmen attacked a checkpoint near the city. Shells and foreign-made explosives, as well as the insignia of the Ukrainian far-right radical group Right Sector, were reportedly found at the scene. Self-defense forces later detained one of the suspected attackers, who is a member of Right Sector.
Director General of the Institute for Foreign Policy Research and Initiatives, Veronika Krasheninnikova, said Biden's visit shows that events in Ukraine still dominate the attention of the United States. "Just a week ago, CIA Director John Brennan visited Kiev, now the vice president will do the same. The high-ranking positions of the US visitors demonstrate that Washington is paying serious attention to the situation in Ukraine," Krasheninnikova said.
Brennan's visit to Ukraine on the weekend of April 12-13 coincided with the decision by the Kiev authorities to crack down on pro-federalization protests in eastern Ukraine. Krasheninnikova said Brennan's visit showed "to what extent the self-imposed Kiev authorities depend on Washington and prove their dependence." She raised hope that Biden's visit to Ukraine would pressure Kiev to fulfill obligations under the Geneva deal, while adding that this is "highly unlikely".