Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is expected to respond to a flurry of pro-Russian moves by Ukraine's new leadership by signaling renewed U.S. interest in the ex-Soviet republic during a visit on Friday.
Kicking off a five-country regional tour, Clinton arrived in Kiev in the early morning hours of Friday, the first trip to Ukraine by a top U.S. official since President Viktor Yanukovich was elected in February, ousting pro-Western leaders and tilting policy toward Moscow.
Unlike ex-Soviet Georgia, which Clinton will also visit, the Yanukovich leadership sees little danger in U.S. President Barack Obama's efforts to "reset" relations with Russia, Reuters reports.
Washington wants to "go beyond the notion" that central European countries "need to choose whether they're going to be pro-Russian or pro-American," Phil Gordon, assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian Affairs, said ahead of the trip.
In Kiev Clinton is to open the US-Ukrainian Strategic Partnership Commission, which provides for increased cooperation on a range of issues including energy and trade, security and defense, and cultural exchanges, AFP says.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is confident that the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Authority directly threatens Russia's security