Damien McElroy
September 6, 2008

After separate meetings with Ukraine’s pro-Western president Victor Yushchenko and reformist Prime Minister Julia Timoshenko in Kiev, Mr Cheney made clear the depth of Washington’s concerns over Moscow’s spreading influence among its eastern neighbours.

“We believe in the right of men and women to live without the threat of tyranny, economic blackmail or military invasion or intimidation,” Mr Cheney declared. “Ukraine’s best hope to overcome these threats is to be united – united domestically first and foremost, and united with other democracies.”

Ukraine was the third stop on Mr Cheney’s tour of Russia’s “near abroad”.

On stops in Georgia and Azerbaijan, the Vice-President focused on important energy corridors to the West and unveiling an American assistance package to bolster the weakened Georgian president, Mikheil Saakashvili. But in Ukraine his mission was explicitly political.

The already fractious relationship between Mr Yushchenko and his prime minister descended into open warfare on the eve of Mr Cheney’s visit, as the president withdrew his supporters from the governing coalition.

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