Kiev: US Vice President Joe Biden arrived in Kiev on Monday in a show of support for the pro-Western government, as Russia accused Ukraine of reneging on an international accord meant to defuse tensions over its separatist east.
Biden`s two-day visit comes with the clock ticking on a White House warning of further sanctions against Moscow if it fails to implement the agreement hammered out last Thursday in Geneva with Ukraine, the United States and the European Union.
Russia has lashed out at claims that it is dragging its feet on implementing the deal, laying the blame squarely on Kiev for violating the agreement.
"The Geneva accord is not only not being fulfilled, but steps are being taken, primarily by those who seized power in Kiev, that are grossly breaching the agreements reached," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said at a Moscow press conference.
The pact has been badly undermined by a deadly weekend shootout in Ukraine`s restive east yesterday, and an obstinate refusal to stand down by pro-Kremlin militants who have seized control of nearly a dozen towns in the region.
The accord calls for all "illegal armed groups" in Ukraine to surrender their weapons and halt the occupation of public buildings and other sites.
Washington has warned Moscow -- which it believes is pulling the strings in Ukraine`s insurgency -- that time is running out for the accord to be put into practice.
The White House said Biden -- who has emerged as the Obama administration`s top pointman on the crisis -- would "consult on the latest developments in east Ukraine" during his trip, which comes amid the worst East-West crisis since the Cold War.
Today, he was due to speak with US embassy officials in the Ukrainian capital.
Tomorrow he was to meet with the country`s interim president, Oleksandr Turchynov, Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk and lawmakers.
The United States and its NATO allies have bolstered military deployments in eastern Europe. Washington and Brussels have also pledged billions to shore up Ukraine`s battered economy.
Moscow though has cautioned that it will not tolerate further US sanctions if the deal falls apart, while stressing that it has tens of thousands of troops massed on Ukraine`s doorstep.