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Ukraine freedom hinges on energy independence: Biden

Vice President Joe Biden This article is about the United States Senator from Delaware, for other uses of the name, see Biden.
Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr. (born November 20, 1942) is an American lawyer and politician from Wilmington, Delaware.
 told Ukraine Wednesday that its economic future depended in large measure on freeing itself from dependence on Russian energy and pledged US help in finding solutions.

"Your economic freedom depends more on your energy freedom than on any other factor," Biden said in a speech as he wrapped up a two-day visit aimed at assuring Ukraine of continued US support despite plans to fix ties with Russia.

He described Ukraine as "one of the most free and democratic countries" in eastern Europe Eastern Europe

The countries of eastern Europe, especially those that were allied with the USSR in the Warsaw Pact, which was established in 1955 and dissolved in 1991.
 but underlined the direct link between its management of energy and its room to manoeuvre on broader issues of state policy.

Ukraine still relies almost exclusively on Russia for natural gas supplies crucial to its own industry and is also the primary transit country for Russian gas shipments to European countries further downstream.

That reality, a result of a unified energy infrastructure built when Ukraine and Russia were part of one country, the Soviet Union, is at the root of energy crises in recent years which have had broad international implications.

Biden also took aim at the notorious waste of energy in Ukraine, where dwellers in many homes are forced to fling windows wide open in the winter since they cannot reduce the heat from centralised Adj. 1. centralised - drawn toward a center or brought under the control of a central authority; "centralized control of emergency relief efforts"; "centralized government"
 sources being pumped in.

"It's time It's Time was a successful political campaign run by the Australian Labor Party (ALP) under Gough Whitlam at the 1972 election in Australia. Campaigning on the perceived need for change after 23 years of conservative (Liberal Party of Australia) government, Labor put forward a  for action," Biden said.

"We can look together for a solution" to Ukraine's glaring energy problems, Biden said, which had to be resolved both to boost the country's economy and, by extension, diminish Russia's ability to leverage energy for political ends.

Biden was due later Wednesday to arrive in Tbilisi for dinner with Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili Mikheil Saakashvili (Georgian: მიხეილ სააკაშვილი) (born December 21, 1967) is a Georgian politician and the current President of Georgia.  ahead of formal talks, and an address to parliament, on Thursday.

Biden's boss, President Barack Obama, has placed efforts to repair damaged US relations with Russia at the centre of his foreign policy agenda. Obama visited Moscow earlier this month to emphasise that priority.

Biden was expected to offer assurances of continued support for Georgia, where US and Russian strategic interests have clashed with growing intensity in recent years, igniting tensions reminiscent of the Cold War.

Those tensions spiked a year ago when Russian forces stormed into Georgia, a key US ally in the Caucasus, ostensibly os·ten·si·ble  
Represented or appearing as such; ostensive: His ostensible purpose was charity, but his real goal was popularity.
 to repel a drive by Georgian forces to re-take control of a rebel region supported by Russia.

The intense, five-day war that ensued was strongly condemned by the United States United States, officially United States of America, republic (2005 est. pop. 295,734,000), 3,539,227 sq mi (9,166,598 sq km), North America. The United States is the world's third largest country in population and the fourth largest country in area. , which dispatched warships to the Black Sea saying they were delivering humanitarian aid Humanitarian aid is material or logistical assistance provided for humanitarian purposes, typically in response to humanitarian crises. The primary objective of humanitarian aid is to save lives, alleviate suffering, and maintain human dignity.  to Georgia but drawing Russia's wrath.

Biden's mission to Ukraine and Georgia, coming on the tails of Obama's trip to Moscow, was characterised as a "balancing trip" to reassure those countries that US efforts to "reset" ties with Russia will not occur at their expense.

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal published on Monday, the Georgian leader, Saakashvili, admitted that his country's drive to join NATO NATO: see North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
 in full North Atlantic Treaty Organization

International military alliance created to defend western Europe against a possible Soviet invasion.
 was "almost dead."

He said that if the Kremlin succeeded in its efforts to "kill" Georgia's NATO membership bid -- many analysts say it already has -- this would prove that Russia "fought for the right reasons" last summer in Georgia.
Copyright 2009 AFP American Edition
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Publication:AFP American Edition
Date:Jul 22, 2009
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