Sat Feb 7, 2015 4:35PM
US Vice President Joe Biden has questioned Russia’s commitment to peace, urging President Vladimir Putin to show by actions that he desires a political resolution to the conflict in Ukraine.
“Given Russia’s recent history, we need to judge its deeds not its words. Don’t tell us, show us, President Putin,” Biden told a global security conference Saturday in Munich, Germany.
The vice president made the comments shortly after President Putin indicated that he did not want war.
Biden stopped short of indicating that Washington would send in lethal weaponry to shore up the Ukrainian army, but he insisted Kiev had the right to defend itself.
“Too many times President Putin has promised peace and delivered tanks and troops and weapons,” he said. “So we will continue to provide Ukraine with security assistance. Not to encourage war but to allow Ukraine to defend itself.”
The vice president said the White House did not believe there was a military solution to the Ukrainian conflict. “But let me be equally clear: We do not believe Russia has the right to do what they’re doing,” he told the Munich conference.
Russia’s ‘little green men’ in Ukraine
On Friday, Biden accused Moscow of sending unmarked soldiers and military equipment into Ukraine in support of the pro-Russian forces operating in the volatile east.
“Russia continues to escalate the conflict by sending mercenaries and tanks and, as we euphemistically say in the United States, little green men without patches, who are very sophisticated, special-operations soldiers,” he said at the European Union headquarters in Brussels.
“President Putin continues to call for new peace plans as his troops roll through the Ukrainian countryside,” he added.
Washington is considering providing Ukrainian forces with lethal weapons, according to US officials.
The New York Times reported on Sunday that Secretary of State John Kerry and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey were open to discuss sending arms to Ukraine.
Russia warns against lethal arms
Russia has warned the US against sending weapons to Ukraine, saying the move would cause “colossal damage” to ties between the two countries.
“Without a doubt, if such a decision is realized, it will cause colossal damage to US-Russian relations, especially if the residents of Donbass (Donetsk and Lugansk regions) start to be killed by American weapons,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman, Alexander Lukashevich, said on Thursday.
Ties between Washington and Moscow deteriorated last year after pro-Western forces ousted Ukraine’s President Viktor Yanukovych in February 2014.
The United States and the European Union have imposed several rounds of sanctions on Russia, including visa bans and asset freezes over the crisis in Ukraine.