“The message that we delivered to the Russians is that, again, we are not in some competition for the future of Ukraine,” said deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes, when asked if Moscow had a role in ending the crisis.
Ukraine erupted into violence on Tuesday after security forces attacked protesters who have been massed in Kiev's Independence Square for the last two months. Opposition groups are protesting President Viktor Yanukovych's move to scuttle a European Union trade deal in favor of closer ties with Russia.
The government has vowed to continue their crackdown on protesters, despite calls for restraint from the U.S. and EU after Tuesday’s violence left at least 25 dead, according to reports.
Reports on Wednesday said that Russia was sending financial aid to Kiev to help bolster Yanukovych’s government.
“Frankly, our interest is that the people of Ukraine are able to determine their future, not any external actor,” Rhodes told reporters aboard Air Force One, en route to Toluca, Mexico, where President Obama is participating in the North American Leaders Summit.
“The role we would like to see Russia play is of constructive support for reducing these tensions and allowing the Ukrainian people to determine their own future, and that we don’t think that there should be, again, a situation where Russia is viewing this as some competition with the European Union or the United States,” he added. “We all have an interest in a Ukraine that is stable.”
Obama in Mexico on Wednesday addressed the violence in Ukraine, condemning it in the “strongest terms” and warning of “consequences” if the situation worsened.
The president said the U.S. held the Ukrainian government “primarily responsible” but urged restraint on both sides.
“There will be consequences if people step over the line,” said Obama.