CHISINAU (AFP) - Ukrainians should be allowed to choose their own future, US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Wednesday, after Kiev's decision to put a key EU pact on hold sparked mass street protests in the former Soviet state.
Mr Kerry praised Moldova for initialling an EU agreement during a visit to that country, saying that "The United States believes deeply that European integration is the best road for both security and prosperity for Moldova."
Moldova, a tiny former Soviet state, along with Georgia opted to sign partnership deals with the EU last week despite warnings from Moscow not to do so.
Mr Kerry added: "To the Ukrainian people, we say the same thing: you too deserve the opportunity to choose your own future."
Ukraine made a last-minute U-turn on a deal for closer ties with the European Union with President Viktor Yanukovych citing pressure from Moscow after a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Ukraine's decision have prompted the biggest protests since the 2004 Orange Revolution with thousands of demonstrators barricading themselves on Kiev's main square amid police violence.
Mr Kerry criticised outside pressures on countries' decision-making in an apparent reference to Russia.
"We are convinced that any country ought to be able to make a choice of where it wants to affiliate, where it wants to conducts its economic activities and in what way it conducts its affairs without external interference, and certainly without external pressures that have a profound impact on your people," Mr Kerry said.