By Mick Krever, CNN
With the worst violence in weeks raging in the Ukrainian capital Kiev, U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt defended America’s role in the country.
“We are friends of Ukraine,” Pyatt told CNN’s Hala Gorani, sitting in for Christiane Amanpour. “We want to see a Ukraine that is stable and democratic and economically successful.”
“The United States wants to see the politics off the street, back in Ukraine’s democratic institutions.”
At least nine people died in clashes on Tuesday, including both civilians and police officers. Protestors set fire to the headquarters of the ruling Party of the Regions.
“We are appalled by the violence that’s unfolding. It’s been a terrible day in Ukraine’s history,” Pyatt said. “We are hoping that the government and the opposition will take immediate steps to de-escalate.”
The U.S. came under fire recently after audio of a private phone call between Pyatt and another top U.S. diplomat was leaked onto the internet, in which the two were allegedly working a behind-the-scenes deal to end the Ukrainian political turmoil.
“I’m not going to talk about any phone calls, but I’ll say, you know, our role has been an appropriate diplomatic one, working closely with our European partners and engaging closely with the government.”
“I don’t consider it meddling when we’re in the business of helping to build bridges between the government and the opposition.”
Nonetheless, Pyatt said that the United States was willing to go to great lengths to ensure stability in Ukraine.
He recently tweeted that “those on both sides who fuel violence will open themselves to sanctions.”
Explaining his tweet, Pyatt told Gorani that “all policy instruments are on the table for the United States at this point.”
“We have already exercised authorities here to revoke the visas of officials directly involved in violence, and we’ve made clear that additional steps will be taken by the United States to the extent there is grave violence against people demonstrators.”