The White House said Saturday it is closely monitoring events in Ukraine and said it would work with Russia to support a “unified” nation amid concerns the country could split in two.
“The unshakeable principle guiding events must be that the people of Ukraine determine their own future,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said in a statement. “Going forward, we will work with our allies, with Russia, and with appropriate European and international organizations to support a strong, prosperous, unified, and democratic Ukraine.”
The administration urged Ukraine’s legislature, the Rada, to pursue “the prompt formation of a broad, technocratic government of national unity.”
Protesters took control of the capital of Kiev Saturday and seized control of the president’s office. President Viktor Yanukovych, who fled to the country’s Russian-speaking east, called the protesters’ action a coup and said he will not step down.
The White House urged an end to the violence that killed at least 70 protesters and security officers this week, and said Ukrainians should focus on “democratic dialogue.”
“Going forward, the Ukrainian people should know that the United States deeply values our long-standing ties with Ukraine and will support them as they pursue a path of democracy and economic development,” the White House said.
PHOTOS: Ukraine protesters take Kiev; president says coup
Mr. Carney also said the Obama administration welcomed the release from a prison hospital Saturday of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko.
“We wish her a speedy recovery as she seeks the appropriate medical treatment that she has long needed and sought,” he said.