WASHINGTON, Feb. 24 (Xinhua) -- The U.S. State Department is sending its No. 2 official to Ukraine amid uncertainty following a series of dramatizing events over the weekend in the East European country, the agency said on Monday.
Deputy Secretary of State William Burns will be in the Ukrainian capital Kiev from Tuesday to Wednesday to discuss U.S. support for the country's efforts to "secure a stable, democratic, inclusive, prosperous future," the department said in a statement.
Events have rollercoastered in Ukraine since President Viktor Yanukovych and opposition leaders signed a deal on Friday meant to quell violence that had flared up since Tuesday and killed at least 82, the worst since protests started in November over Yanukovych's refusal to sign a trade deal with the European Union.
The next day, the opposition took control of the parliament, and voted to release former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, dismiss Yanukovych from his office and hold early presidential elections on May 25. An arrest warrant was issued on Sunday for fugitive Yanukovych. Russia has called back its ambassador to Ukraine for "consultations."
U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice on Sunday publicly warned Russia against sending in forces to Ukraine, saying "It's in nobody's interest to see violence return and the situation escalate."
During his talks in Kiev, Burns will urge the new government to take "all steps necessary" for "free and fair" elections in May, call for the rapid formation of a national unity government, and encourage "immediate steps" to undertake the reforms necessary to restore Ukraine's political and economic health, the State Department said.
Prior to his Kiev trip, Burns travels to Istanbul, Turkey on Monday.