The White House on Thursday said Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych had "abdicated his responsibilities" and "undermined his legitimacy" by fleeing Kiev.

"He was elected president," White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters. "He has abdicated his responsibilities by — shortly after signing an agreement to bring an end to the violence and take the actions that so many in the world had called on him to take, which was to establish a unity government, to end the violence and move towards early elections — he packed up his belongings and disappeared."


Carney added that "the country has to be governed," and he applauded the Ukrainian government for taking steps to ensure that happened.

Multiple Russian news agencies said Thursday that Yanukovych plans to hold a news conference on Friday in the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don.

Russian news agency RBK reported the Ukrainian leader had flown to Moscow on Tuesday, although that report has been disputed by Russian and Ukrainian officials. Yanukovych has not been seen in public since filming a video over the weekend.

Carney also again cautioned Russia, which has reportedly placed its troops on alert amid the Ukrainian unrest. The White House spokesman called for "transparency" and said it was "not in anyone's interests to see further destabilization and certainly not in anyone's interest to see a return to violence of any kind."

"We expect Russia to be transparent about these activities they announced yesterday and to avoid provocative actions," Carney said. "That is an expectation we have, and we are conveying because it is in Russia's interest, and of course in the interest of the Ukrainian people, that there not be provocations, that Ukraine's territorial integrity be maintained, and its sovereignty be maintained."