By By Tim Devaney - 02/23/14 12:55 PM EST
National Security Adviser Susan Rice said Sunday that Russia does not have a "mutually exclusive" relationship with Ukraine, which should be allowed to join the European Union without repercussions.
This comes as violence has erupted in Ukraine over the last week, killing 82 protesters who were upset that former President Viktor Yanukovych blocked the country from joining the European Union amidst pressure from Russia.
"They protested peacefully, and they were met by violence," Rice said.
She called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to step aside and let the Ukrainians decide for themselves whether they want to join the EU.
"It's in nobody's interest to see violence return and the country split," she warned.
Rice said the best way to resolve the situation in Ukraine is through a new round of democratic elections.
"From the U.S. point of view, our interests have been clear all along," Rice said. "We want to see a deescalation of the violence, we want to see constitutional change, we want to see democratic elections in very short order, and the opportunity for the people of Ukraine to come together in a coalition unity government."