The Obama administration said Monday that Ukraine’s absent president “has lost legitimacy,” signaling that it no longer recognizes Viktor Yanukovych as the country’s leader.
"Yanukovych left Kiev. He took his furniture, packed his bags, and we don't have more information on his whereabouts," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters. "So there are officials who have stepped in and are acting in response to that leadership gap at the moment."
The comments came as Russia’s Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said he had grave doubts about the legitimacy of Ukraine's new leaders.
"If we consider government the people who were moving around Kiev wearing black masks and holding Kalashnikov machine guns, then it is going to be very difficult for us to work with such government," he said, according to Russian news agency Lenta.ru.
Asked if the Obama administration would like to see Yanukovych arrested, Psaki said that was a matter for “the Ukrainian people.”
“For our part, we encourage steps that lead to the kind of multiparty unity government that speaks for the Ukrainian people. We certainly believe that Yanukovych has lost legitimacy and is not actively leading the country at present.”
She added that the White House didn’t have any further information about Yanukovych’s whereabouts.
The U.S. separately indicated Monday that it was prepared to send financial aid to Ukraine above and beyond a loan program that the International Monetary Fund is offering in the wake of the bloody political crisis.
Ukraine said that it needs $35 billion in foreign assistance by the end of 2015 to stay afloat following the apparent ousting of Yanukovych. An international donor's conference was urged as a way to organize that aid.