A new era dawned in the ex-Soviet state when parliament appointed a pro-Western interim leader after impeaching a defiant president Viktor Yanukovych, whose whereabouts remain a mystery following a week of carnage that capped three months of mostly peaceful protests.
"It's not in the interests of Ukraine or of Russia or of Europe or of the United States to see the country split," Rice yesterday told NBC's "Meet the Press" talk show. "It's in nobody's interest to see violence return and the situation escalate."
She warned that it would be a "grave mistake" for Ukraine's old master Russia to send in forces to restore the kind of government it would like to see in Kiev.
"There is not an inherent contradiction... between a Ukraine that has long-standing historic and cultural ties to Russia and a modern Ukraine that wants to integrate more closely with Europe," Rice said. "It need not be mutually exclusive."
In a phone call 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.
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.
Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew, meanwhile, pointed to "broad support" at the G20 meeting of finance ministers in Sydney this weekend for an international aid package based out of the International Monetary Fund, once a transitional government formally takes power.
"The United States, together with Europe and others in the international community, are ready to supplement an IMF program to cushion the impact of reforms on low-income Ukrainians," a Treasury official said, citing Lew.
Lew, who spoke by telephone with Ukrainian opposition leader Arseniy Yatsenyuk as he flew back to Washington, urged Ukraine to initiate talks with the IMF "as quickly thereafter as possible," the official added.