Biden warns Russia ahead of Ukraine vote

Vice President Biden on Wednesday reiterated a warning that Russia would be hit with increased costs if it undermines the Ukrainian elections over the weekend. 

During a trip to neighboring Romania, Biden said "all countries should use their influence" to promote a stable environment so Ukraine can have a smooth election on May 25. 


"The president and I have agreed that if Russia undermines these elections on Sunday, we must remain resolute in imposing greater cost on Russia. And we must be equally resolute in reinvesting in the NATO alliance," Biden said during remarks in Romania.

Biden said Russia's aggression in Ukraine is a reminder why NATO is essential, and said there is "no doubt" about the United States' commitment to defend its allies according to Article 5 of the NATO treaty. 

"It is a sacred obligation," he said.

Romania and other countries in the region are part of NATO, but Ukraine is not. 

Biden also spoke about energy security in the region and the need to cut the region's dependence on Russian energy, which Biden described as being used as "a weapon against anyone in this region."

Biden commended Ukraine for engaging ethnic Russian populations in the East and South.  

"We commend the Ukrainian government for the steps they have taken to engage Ukrainians from all parts of their country, including the East and South on the issues of constitutional reform," Biden said.

The vice president met with Romanian President Traian Basescu and Prime Minister Victor Ponta.

The White House on Wednesday released a list of military measures the United States has taken to reassure its NATO allies in the region amid the turmoil with Russia and Ukraine. 

They include an increased naval presence in the Black Sea and refueling missions with flights over Poland and Romania. The White House noted there are 1,000 U.S. troops stationed in Romania and 67,000 service members in Europe. 

Biden noted that Romania is on track to open its missile defense site in Deveselu next year. Biden said he is impressed with the country's progress in the 10 years since it became a NATO ally.

The United States, along with the European Union, has imposed sanctions on a number of Russian officials, after Russia annexed Crimea earlier this year. The administration has threatened further sanctions on the country’s economy if Russia interferes in Ukraine's elections.

— Updated at 9:50 a.m