The White House on Thursday said that former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych had “abdicated” his powers and expressed support for the interim government that replaced him ahead of new elections.
“Mr. Yanukovych abdicated his responsibilities when he packed up and left the capital of his country,” said White House press secretary Jay Carney. “He fled Kiev and has only been seen once on video tape since Saturday.”
“Those actions undermined his legitimacy,” Carney added.
Yanukovych was deposed after months of protests by opposition groups that rejected his push for closer ties with Russia. The former president fled the capital of Kiev and was voted out of office by the Ukrainian parliament after a peace deal brokered by European nations installed a caretaker government following days of violence.
But Yanukovych resurfaced on Thursday, saying he was still the “legitimate” leader of his country and calling for Russian protection.
Carney said “Ukraine's lawmakers in the parliament are fulfilling their obligation to the Ukrainian people by forming a government that can tackle the pressing economic and political issues facing the country until new presidential elections can be held,” showing support for the interim government.
Fears have grown that Russia, a close ally of Yanukovych, may seek to reassert their influence in Ukraine or destabilize the interim government.
Tensions in the region rose after Russia's military announced they would conduct training and preparedness exercises near their border with Ukraine.
Carney said that the administration expected Russia to be "transparent about these activities they announced yesterday and to avoid provocative actions."
"We have made abundantly clear, I think Ambassador Rice and others have, that we expect Russia to be transparent in the way that it's handling these issues and that it is not in anyone's interests to see further destabilization and certainly not in anyone's interest to see a return to violence of any kind," Carney added.
He also added that the international community would seek to build an “economic assistance package” to help Kiev.