March 9, 2014
US urges Ukraine to listen to people
US Secretary of State John Kerry urged the Ukrainian government to "listen to the voices of its people" after President Viktor Yanukovich's decision to spurn a pact with the European Union sparked mass protests.
Kerry said Ukrainians had demonstrated "in unbelievable numbers" in favour of the accord on closer ties with Europe, which Yanukovich rejected last week in favour of Russian incentives.
"Mr Yanukovich has obviously made a personal decision and the people don't agree with that decision," Kerry said after a meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Brussels.
"Clearly there is a very powerful evidence of people who would like to be associated with Europe ... we stand with the vast majority of the Ukrainians who want to see this future for their country," he told a news conference.
"We urge the Ukrainian government to listen to the voices of its people who want to live in freedom and in opportunity and prosperity. We urge all sides to conduct themselves peacefully. Violence has no place in a modern European state."
Earlier, NATO foreign ministers condemned the use of "excessive force" against protesters in Ukraine and urged all sides to refrain from provoking further clashes.
Ukrainian police used batons and stun grenades at the weekend to break up pro-Europe protests.
Kerry said he saw no role for the 28-nation NATO in resolving the crisis, despite the ministers' statement.
"This is really something the people of the Ukraine need to work out with their leadership and the leadership needs to listen to the people," he said.