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US vice president to visit Ukraine

Washington (AFP): US Vice President Joe Biden will visit Ukraine before leaving office, the White House said Thursday, a show of support amid concerns that Donald Trump will usher in more icy relations with Kiev.

“The vice president’s trip to Ukraine will underscore US support — and highlight his personal involvement in providing support — for Ukrainian independence, democratic development, prosperity and security,” the White House said.

Trump’s refusal to criticize Russian President Vladimir Putin has raised questions about US support.

Barack Obama is the only president since George H W Bush not to visit independent Ukraine.

Bush was pilloried for visiting the country and cautioning Ukrainians about independence, dubbed his “Chicken Kiev” speech by conservatives at home.

Biden has spearheaded the Obama adminstrations effort to push Ukraine toward reforms as the country struggles with Russia’s annexation of Crimea and support for separatist fighters in the east of the country.

Obama’s adminstration has broadly supported the government in Kiev but has held off supplying lethal assistance.

Biden will meet President Petro Poroshenko and Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman.

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