US Vice President Joe Biden has expressed "grave concern" over the escalation of violence in Kiev and called on Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych to pull back government forces and exercise maximum restraint.
"The Vice President made clear that the United States condemns violence by any side, but that the government bears special responsibility to de-escalate the situation," the White House said in a statement yesterday.
Biden underscored the urgency of immediate dialogue with opposition leaders to address protesters' legitimate grievances and to put forward serious proposals for political reform, it said.
"The United States is committed to supporting efforts to promote a peaceful resolution to the crisis that reflects the will and aspirations of the Ukrainian people," the White House said.
State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said Secretary of State John Kerry shares the concerns expressed by Biden directly to Yanukovych.
"We call on President Yanukovych and the Ukrainian government to de-escalate the situation immediately, and resume dialogue with the opposition on a peaceful path forward," Psaki said.
Earlier in the day, the Department of State alerted US citizens of the increased risks in traveling to Ukraine because of the ongoing political crisis.
"US citizens are urged to maintain a low profile and to remain indoors at night while clashes continue," the travel advisory said.
Obama administration is appalled by the violence that's taking place in downtown Kiev, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters.
"We continue to condemn the street violence and excessive use of force by either side. The force will not resolve the crisis. To restore peace and stability we urge President Yanukovych to deescalate immediately the situation and end the confrontation at Maidan. We also urge him to restart a dialogue with opposition leaders today to develop a consensus way forward for Ukraine," he said.
In a separate statement, Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird said Canada is shocked and appalled by the renewed violence and deaths in Kyiv.
"Canada calls on all sides to show restraint and to cease all acts of violence immediately. No act of violence or repression today will go unnoticed by the Government of Canada, and we will work with our allies in the international community to ensure that those responsible will be held to account," he said.
"President Viktor Yanukovych has a solemn responsibility to protect the fundamental right to peaceful assembly," he said.
Updated Date: Feb 19, 2014 08:18 AM