Ukraine protests
Ukrainians react to a speech in Kiev's Independence SquareReuters

The newly-installed interim head of state in Ukraine, Oleksandr Turchinov, has vowed to seek closer ties with the European Union as Russia recalled its ambassador to Kiev for consultation over the situation.

Turchinov, the former speaker of the Ukrainian parliament who was appointed interim president following the dramatic exit of Viktor Yanukovich, has said Ukraine's integration with the EU and bringing immediate stability to the country are the top priorities.

"The return to the European integration course, the rejection of which had sparked the uprising, is our priority. We must return into the family of European states," Turchinov said in a statement posted on the website of his Fatherland party.

He also hinted that Ukraine's move towards European integration should not become a thorny issue for Russia and pledged a fresh relationship with its neighbour.

"We are ready for a dialogue with Russia... on a new, fair, equal and neighbourly basis, acknowledging and taking into account Ukraine's European choice," he said.

Meanwhile the EU's foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, has embarked on a trip to Ukraine to meet the interim authorities.

"In Kiev she is expected to meet key stakeholders and discuss the support of the European Union for a lasting solution to the political crisis and measures to stabilise the economic situation," Ashton's spokesperson said.

Britain has also offered to help Ukraine with financial aid to "rebuild" its economy, which has taken a bad hit in recent weeks because of the anti-government protests.

Amid the fast-changing scenario in which western governments are extending a helping hand to Ukraine, the Russian foreign ministry said: "Due to the escalation of the situation in Ukraine and the necessity of analysing the existing situation from all sides, a decision has been made to recall the Russian ambassador to Ukraine [Mikhail] Zurabov to Moscow for consultations."

The three-month-long protests which culminated in Yanukovich's expulsion by parliament initially began as a campaign against the government for failing to secure a key deal with the EU, siding with Russia which does not want to let Ukraine out of its orbit.