WASHINGTONFeb. 26 (UPI) -- The Obama administration reiterated Ukraine's right to territorial integrity on Wednesday while its influential Russian neighbor flexed its military muscle as it commenced combat readiness drills.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney stated America's support for Ukraine as it undergoes political transition post-President Viktor Yanukovych as it forms a national unity government and prepares for May elections, and seeks to rebuild its economy. Carney called upon not only Ukraine's leaders to commit to progress but also called upon regional actors "to respect Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity, to end provocative rhetoric and actions..."
Despite Russian President Vladimir Putin's assurances to President Barack Obama on Tuesday that Russia would respect the territorial integrity of Ukraine, Mitchell noted Russia had dialed up its rhetoric within the last 24 hours.
Also Wednesday, Putin ordered snap combat readiness drills for Russia's armed forces.
Kerry responded to the uncertain role of Russia in Ukraine's political transition, saying "we’re hoping that Russia will not see this as sort of a continuation of the Cold War."
Rather, the secretary of state observed, "We see this as an opportunity for Russia, the United States, and others to strengthen Ukraine, help them in this transition, and there’s no reason that they can’t look east and west and be involved as a vital cog in the economy of all of us going forward. And that’s what our hope is -- that there’s a transition government, that there are reforms put in place, that the IMF becomes involved, and that the Ukrainian people have an opportunity to decide their future after they’ve formed a new government."