WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Denouncing Russia’s actions in Crimea as nothing more than a “land grab,” Vice President Joe Biden warned Russia on Tuesday that the U.S. and Europe will impose further sanctions as Moscow seeks to annex the Ukrainian territory.
Meeting with anxious European leaders in neighboring Poland, Biden said the world sees through Russia’s actions. He said virtually the entire world rejects the referendum in Crimea that cleared the way for Russia to annex the peninsula in Ukraine.
“The world has seen through Russia’s actions and has rejected the flawed logic,” Biden said.
Biden, who arrived Tuesday morning in Warsaw, said the U.S. joins Poland and the international community in condemning the continuing assault on Ukraine’s sovereignty, calling it a blatant violation of international law.
Biden spoke Tuesday after meeting with Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk, just after Russian President Vladimir Putin was moving fast ahead with plans to absorb Crimea into its orbit, flouting fresh sanctions the U.S. and Europe imposed a day earlier.
Russia’s move in clear defiance of its neighbors and the U.S. ups the pressure on Biden to convince its NATO allies that the U.S. won’t stand idly by.
Biden’s visit to the region is part of a broader U.S. campaign to send a clear signal to Putin following Sunday’s referendum in Crimea, which the U.S. has dismissed as illegal. In coordination with Europe, the Obama administration has frozen the U.S. assets of nearly a dozen Russian and Ukrainian officials. But Putin appears to have reacted with a shrug, and Obama’s critics contend the U.S. steps thus far amount to a slap on the wrist.
In meetings Tuesday in the Polish capital and later in Lithuania’s capital, Vilnius, Biden was to discuss the crisis with the leaders of Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia — three Baltic nations that are deeply concerned about what Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula might portend for the region. All four countries share borders with Russia; Poland also borders Ukraine.
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