Outgoing US Vice President Joe Biden has used a final official visit to Kiev to urge the Ukrainian government to step up its crackdown on institutionalised corruption.
Just days before he is due to leave office, Biden said Ukrainians must continue their fight against corruption, demand transparency from their leaders and insist that crooked officials who are found to have illegally embezzled public money to enrich themselves are properly investigated and prosecuted.
Biden also urged the country to fulfil the requirements of its borrowing from the International Monetary Fund, press ahead with reform of its energy sector and clean up its banking system. He added that the government must ensure the privatisation of state assets is fully transparent.
During his sixth visit to the country since President Barack Obama entered the White House eight years ago, Biden praised Ukraine’s pro-Western government for taking steps to tackle rampant corruption, but said more action was needed.
“Thanks to the vital steps you have taken, your economy is now growing again. But there remains much work to be done,” he said.
“You are fighting both against the cancer of corruption… and the unrelenting aggression of the Kremlin.”
“I wanted to come here one more time in my last trip as Vice President to honour how much progress the people of Ukraine have achieved,” he said. “Americans and Ukrainians are united by deep bonds.”
Alluding to President-elect Donald Trump’s suggestion that the US will seek closer ties with Russia when he assumes office on Friday, Biden said he hoped the incoming administration would continue to work with the Ukrainian government as the country make further progress in battling corruption.
Biden’s visit comes days after reports emerged that Ukraine attempted to sway the result of last November’s US Presidential election in favour of Hillary Clinton. Politico last week reported that Ukrainian officials sought to damage Trump by publically briefing that he was unfit for office and releasing documents that they said implicated him in corruption.
Commenting on Politico’s revelations, David Merkel, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council who helped oversee US relations with Russia and Ukraine under President George W Bush, said: “Things seem to be going from bad to worse for Ukraine… Now, it seems that a US election may have been seen as a surrogate battle by those in Kiev and Moscow.”
Since Trump won the November poll, Ukrainian officials have been desperately attempting to reverse any damage done by their attempts to undermine his campaign for the White House. Politico claims government operatives from Kiev are now looking for ways to ingratiate themselves with Republican organisations close to the incoming President.