European Integration 'Priority' for Ukraine
TEHRAN (Tasnim) - Oleksander Turchinov, Ukraine's acting president, said his country is ready for talks with Russia to try to improve relations, but made clear that Kiev's European integration would be a priority.
Turchinov said that Ukraine's new leadership was ready to put Kiev-Moscow relations on a "new, equal and good-neighborly footing that recognises and takes into account Ukraine's European choice".
"Another priority ... is the return to the path of European integration," he said, in an address to the nation on Sunday, one day after the removal of Viktor Yanukovich from the presidency.
Hours later, Russia recalled its ambassador in Ukraine to Moscow for consultations on the "deteriorating situation" in Kiev.
"Due to the deteriorating situation in Ukraine and the need for a comprehensive analysis of the situation, the decision was made to recall the Russian ambassador to Ukraine for consultations in Moscow," the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement.
In a phone call on Sunday with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov, US Secretary of State John Kerry "underscored the United States' expectation that Ukraine's sovereignty, territorial integrity and democratic freedom of choice will be respected by all states".
According to a senior State Department official, Kerry also expressed Washington's "strong support" for the Ukrainian parliament's move to name an acting president and acting prime minister, AFP reported.
These actions "offer the best and most promising path forward to restore peace and stability to Ukraine quickly, and to address Ukraine's pressing financial challenges in the coming weeks and months," Kerry said, according to the official.
Earlier in the day, Ukraine's parliament voted to temporarily hand over the duties of president to Turchinov, the speaker of the assembly, who told deputies to agree on the formation of a national unity government by Tuesday.
The development comes one day after parliament voted to oust Yanukovich from the presidency, setting May 25 as the date for new presidential elections, and two days after an agreement was reached with Yanukovich on the need to form a national unity government.
Turchinov is a close ally of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, the president's main rival.