US Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday urged Russia to keep its word and respect the territorial integrity of Ukraine as Moscow said it was boosting security measures in southern Crimea.
"We are making it clear that every country should respect the territorial integrity here, the sovereignty of Ukraine. Russia said it will do that, and we think it is important Russia keeps its word," Kerry said.
He stressed that Washington was not looking for confrontation amid the political upheaval in the former Soviet satellite, denying that the US was meddling in the country's internal politics.
"The key here is to give the people of Ukraine the full space within which to make their decisions about where they want to go. That's what we're trying to do," the top US diplomat told MSNBC television in an interview.
"We're not putting pressure on them. We're not urging something that they haven't themselves expressed as a desire," Kerry said
"We are trying to honor their intentions of putting together a democratic pluralistic government that breaks away from this kleptocracy that existed there."
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Wednesday that Moscow was taking measures to ensure the security of its Black Sea naval fleet based on Ukraine's Crimean peninsula.
Sevastopol, which has hosted the Black Sea fleet since tsarist times, has witnessed several pro-Russian demonstrations in recent days with hundreds rallying outside city hall on Tuesday.
"Russia does not need or want a Ukraine that is unstable and more violent going forward. And economically a basketcase," Kerry insisted.
"What we need now is not to get into an old Cold War confrontation. We need to work together in what does not have to be a zero sudden game to provide the capacity of the people of Ukraine to choose their future. That's all that's at stake."