WASHINGTON (AFP) - Ukraine's Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk arrived at the White House on Wednesday to accept President Barack Obama's personal stamp of approval for the government in Kiev.
Mr Yatsenyuk's sports utility vehicle, bearing US and Ukrainian flags on the front, drew up at the West Wing of the White House for talks likely to anger Russia, which views his government as illegitimate.
The Ukrainian leader enjoyed the same treatment as other foreign leaders who typically are received by Mr Obama in the Oval Office.
The leaders were to make remarks to the press after their talks, billed by the Obama administration as a sign of support for the "responsible" role Washington sees the Kiev government as playing.
The talks take place as Washington ups pressure on Russia to agree a diplomatic solution to the crisis sparked by its incursion into Crimea and on the eve of a trip by Secretary of State John Kerry to confer with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in London.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said the talks would "demonstrate the fact that we strongly support the Ukrainian people, we strongly support Ukraine's territorial integrity and sovereignty."
"We strongly support and urge the effort underway in Congress to pass legislation that would provide bilateral assistance to Ukraine, and that's a stance taken not just by the United States but by countries throughout the region and the world."
Before heading to the White House, Mr Yatsenyuk met Mr Kerry at the State Department, and pledged to give his views on a referendum on joining Russia and seceding from Ukraine scheduled for Sunday in Crimea after meeting Mr Obama.