When Vice President Joe Biden spoke before the parliament in Kiev last week, he invoked the violent path towards democracy the United States had to travel from its inception until the completion of the Union after the American Civil War. He made the case that Ukrainians and their leaders now faced a similar challenge, namely putting the public good ahead of ones individual interest.

“I respectfully suggest this is a standard by which each of you will be judged…Whether or not you have moral courage to put the general good above local prejudice. This is all within your power. It is in your hands, nobody else’s.”

Biden also ade clear that in order to reach a truly free and fair society, Ukrainians had to overcome decades of corruption and cronyism.

Regarding Russia he guaranteed the United States support for the young democracy, and sharply rejected Mr Putins campaign against Ukraine. The Russian President, Biden said, was fearful of the country’y success as part of the Western world.

He guaranteed that sanction’s on Russia would only be lifted if and when the country made good on all its committments under the Minsk agreement.
This means:

1. Heavy weapons must be withdrawn from the front lines

2. The OSCE must be granted full access

3. Russia must press the separatists to hold elections according to Ukrainian law and OSCE standards

4. Russia must disavow the illegal election that has taken place

5. Hostages held by Russia and its proxies must be returned

6. Russian troops must leave

7. The Ukrainian side of the border must be returned to Ukrainian control

If Russia does all that, Ukraine should grant amnesty to all rebels that have not committed capital offenses, and granting devolved administration to the Donbass.

If this ever happens, however, remains doubtful. There is one big obstacle to a truly democratic process and Biden clearly articulated it in his speech:  “Truly free elections are what the Kremlin fears the most.”