[Ed. – For reference, Russia has about 40,000 troops massed on Ukraine’s border.]
Vice President Joe Biden, in a visit to Kiev, warned Russia to pull back its troops and abide by last week’s international agreement or face the certainty of swift new sanctions. Mr. Biden also urged Ukraine’s leaders to adhere to democratic principles and respect cultural differences, reassuring them, “You will not walk this road alone.”
Despite Washington’s efforts, tensions flared as Kiev accused pro-Russian separatists of torturing and killing two people and of shooting at one of its military planes, prompting a call by the country’s interim president for a resumption of what he termed counterterrorism actions to uproot militants. …
Mr. Biden, who met in Kiev with Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk and other Ukrainian officials, said the U.S. won’t allow last week’s Geneva deal, intended to immediately begin easing tensions, to instead become “an open-ended process.”
“It is time for Russia to stop talking and start acting—act on the commitments they made,” Mr. Biden said. “Time is short in which to make progress.”
In Washington, Secretary of State John Kerry reinforced the message in a call to his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, expressing what the State Department said was “deep concern over the lack of positive Russian steps to de-escalate.”
Meanwhile, U.S. defense officials described plans to send 600 troops to four North Atlantic Treaty Organization member countries for exercises close to Russia.
Four U.S. military companies from the Italy-based 173rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, each numbering about 150 troops, will begin arriving this weekend in Poland, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, said Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary.