Act now to reduce tension, Putin told

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US vice president Joe Biden has warned Russia on that it is “time to stop talking and start acting” to reduce tension in Ukraine.

Standing alongside acting Ukrainian prime minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, Mr Biden called on president Vladimir Putin to encourage pro-Russia separatists in eastern Ukraine to vacate government buildings and checkpoints, accept amnesty and “address their grievances politically”.

Mr Biden said Russia needs to act “without delay”, adding: “We will not allow this to become an open-ended process.”

The vice president also announced the United States will provide an additional $50m (£30m) to help Ukraine’s beleaguered government with political and economic reforms.

The money includes $11m (£6.5m) to help conduct the May 25 presidential election, including voter education, administration and oversight. It also will help fund expert teams from US government agencies to help Ukraine to reduce its reliance on energy supplies from Russia. Other technical advisers will help fight corruption.

The White House also announced $8m (£4.7m) in non-lethal military assistance for the Ukrainian armed forces, including bomb-disposal equipment, communications gear and vehicles.

In the most high-level visit of a US official since crisis erupted in Ukraine, Mr Biden met privately with Mr Yatsenyuk and acting Ukrainian president Oleksandr Turchynov.

Earlier, he told leaders from various political parties that he brings a message of support from President Barack Obama as they face a historic opportunity to usher in reforms.