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US warns Ukraine against lapsing on corruption

US Vice President Joe Biden has urged Ukraine to do more to fight corruption. He warned that Kyiv risked losing international support if it fails to implement crucial reforms.

Speaking at the Ukrainian parliament on Tuesday, Biden said it was imperative that Kyiv makes its governance more transparent, adding that "corruption eats Ukraine like cancer."

"It's not enough to set up an anti-corruption bureau and establish a special prosecutor in fighting corruption. Your office of the general prosecutor desperately needs reform," he said.

The warning on Tuesday came just a day after Biden released an additional $190 million (175 million euros) in aid to Ukraine, to help the economically embattled government implement the necessary reforms.

Corruption still a primary concern

Anti-government protests in February 2014 were largely fueled by the country's widespread corruption. As a result, pro-Russian former President Viktor Yanukovych fled Ukraine.

As well as corruption within its judiciary, Ukrainian authorities are also known for violations of freedom of speech. Critical blogger Ruslan Kozaba has been in custody since February on account of speaking out against the civil war in eastern Ukraine.

Almost two years, since Yanukovych's exit, recent polls have shown that corruption remains the main concern for many Ukrainians.

US pressure on Russia to continue

Biden also shared some warning words with Moscow on Tuesday, saying that Western pressure on Moscow would continue if Russia keeps up its "aggression" against Ukraine.

The US vice president warned that there would be "no sanctions relief" until Russia fulfills its commitments to February's Minsk agreement.

Lull in conflict

Russia annexed Crimea last year in a move that seriously damaged relations between Moscow and Kyiv, as well as many Western countries, and was followed by a military conflict in eastern Ukraine between pro-Russian separatists and government forces.

A ceasefire reached in September between Russian-backed rebels in eastern Ukraine and pro-government forces has created a relative lull in fighting, but occasional clashes continue to erupt.

ksb/jil (AFP, AP)

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