Ukraine is not involved in an East-West battle, say US and Britain

John Kerry and William Hague called for international cooperation following the ousting of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych

Ukraine is not caught up in a Cold-War era East-West divide, the United States and Britain said on Tuesday.

US Secretary of State John Kerry and British Foreign Secretary William Hague disputed the idea that the situation in Ukraine is a "zero-sum game" between Russia and the West, following the ousting of Russia-backed President Viktor Yanukovych.

And they called for all nations to work together to help Ukraine peacefully achieve its democratic aspirations.

"Both of us are committed to doing our part to support the efforts of people in Ukraine who have spoken out on their own with passion for their ability to have a pluralistic, democratic future," Kerry said.

"This is not a zero-sum game, it is not West versus East. It is not Russia or the United States or other choices. This is about the people of Ukraine and Ukrainians making a choice about their future. We want to work with Russia, with other countries, with everybody available to make sure this is a peaceful from this day forward," he said. 

His comments were echoed by Hague. 

"This is about the rights of a free people, a free democratic people to make their own decisions and we don't see it in a zero-sum way in international affairs. Our national interests are in the people of Ukraine being able to make their own decisions about their future," he said. 

Speaking at the start of a State Department conference in Washington on sexual violence in conflict, both men also said their countries oppose any attempt to partition or divide the former Soviet republic into pro-Western and pro-Russian territories.

"The independence and territorial integrity of the Ukraine is extremely important," Hague said.

He added that it is “urgent” for Western nations and international lenders to prepare financial packages to help support Ukraine's transition, but equally urgent that the country's interim leaders "prepare themselves to meet the necessary conditions for that financial support."

He did not elaborate on those conditions.

 

A spokeswoman for Kerry, Jen Psaki, said maintaining a "unified and whole Ukraine" should be of critical importance for all concerned. 

"We don't feel that succession or partition is in the interests of anyone, whether the Ukrainian people or the United States, Europe or Russia. We feel strongly that Ukraine should remain united," she said. 

Some Russian officials have denounced the ousting of President Yanukovych as a Western-backed plot.

Earlier Tuesday dozens of pro-Russian protesters rallied in the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea against "the bandits" in Kiev who are trying to form a new government — with some even speaking of secession.

A lawmaker from Russia stoked their passions further by promising them that Russia will protect them. 

Additional reporting by Associated Press

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