Joe Biden, Vladimir Putin met, no election talk

This article was updated on January 31 at 7:30 p.m. ET.

By Ryan Browne, CNN

Vice President Joe Biden, who visited Kiev last week, met with Russian President Vladimir Putin Monday.

The two men reportedly discussed the Syrian crisis and Ukraine but did not talk about the Trump administration’s recent efforts to penalize Russia for its alleged interference in the 2016 election.

Ukraine also has received a very different message from the US on the subject.

The State Department has recently highlighted the uptick in fighting in eastern Ukraine between pro-Russian separatists and government forces and warned that Washington would take further steps against Moscow and its proxies if fighting escalates.

Earlier this month, the US, Ukraine and the European Union announced they would impose new economic sanctions on Russia in response to the alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

Since then, the US has accused the Russian government of waging a sustained cyberattack on the country and is considering legal steps to try to prevent meddling in the 2018 midterm elections.

These new sanctions were described as “administrative measures” by a US official in Kiev, according to Kyiv Post, the paper reported. It said the Americans explained that they were similar to measures imposed on the oil companies Rosneft and Gazprom.

The official said the measures were a reaction to “recent military aggression in Ukraine.”

Meanwhile, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin told CNN Sunday he was “satisfied” with the performance of the American ambassador to Ukraine, John Tefft, during Biden’s visit.

“He (Tefft) and his staff tried to engage us. They were very sympathetic with the position we have on Ukraine and the terrible events taking place on Ukrainian territory,” he said.

Tefft — who signed a statement Sunday alongside Klimkin condemning Russia’s “aggressive cyberattack” on Ukraine — also briefed Klimkin about some of the latest sanctions against Russia, Kyiv Post reported.

“Both I and my entire team were very happy and satisfied with the manner in which Ambassador Tefft conducted the visit and the constructive contacts that we held with the Americans,” Klimkin said.

“Of course he (Tefft) had another mission as such,” Klimkin added. “To act as ambassador of all the nations, not only of Ukraine. He is acting in line with that mission.”

Tefft said he discussed with Klimkin “his plans for additional dialogue,” Kyiv Post reported.

Klimkin reportedly told CNN that on his second day in Kiev, Biden had told him that Kiev would receive aid from the US and EU, and would not be cut off.

Biden had visited the region last week and later met with Ukraine’s acting President Alexander Turchynov, but did not meet with any opposition figures.

In the past, the Trump administration has not actively sought to pressure Russia on Ukraine.

The two countries have been locked in a simmering war for several years. Relations between the US and Russia took a hit after the annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, and Moscow began supporting pro-Russian separatists in the east of the country, in open conflict that has killed more than 10,000 people.

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