Ukraine's new pro-Western leaders have disbanded the country's feared riot police as they seek to win confidence in their efforts to forge a unity government.
The interim authorities are grappling with the dual threats of separatism and a looming debt default as they try to piece the former Soviet nation back together following the weekend ouster of pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych.
Protests that started in November over Yanukovych's decision to ditch a historic European Union trade deal in favour of closer ties with former master Russia culminated in a week of Kiev carnage that claimed nearly 100 lives.
Yanukovych and his tight clique of security chiefs and administration insiders are widely believed to have gone into hiding in the Russian-speaking southern peninsula of Crimea, which is now threatening to secede from Ukraine.
The interim leaders' headaches are compounded by Moscow's decision to freeze payments on a massive bailout package that Russian President Vladimir Putin promised to Yanukovych as his reward for rejecting closer EU ties.
The Ukrainian government faces foreign debt payments of $US13 billion ($A14.46 billion) in 2014 and has less than $US18 billion in its fast-depleting coffers. It's a grim equation that has forced it to seek as much as $US35 billion from Western states.
Both the United States and Britain have publicly backed the idea of putting together an economic rescue for Ukraine, which would be overseen by the International Monetary Fund.
US Secretary of State John Kerry and Foreign Secretary William Hague also rejected Russia's claim on Tuesday that Ukraine was being forced to make a historic choice between the East and West.
"This is not a zero-sum game. It is not a West versus East," said Kerry after hosting Hague in Washington.
But EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton wrapped up a two-day visit to Kiev on Tuesday by mentioning only a short-term economic solution for Ukraine, while saying nothing about extending the billions of dollars in credit requested by interim leader Oleksandr Turchynov.
Little appears to unite the vast nation of 46 million - splintered between the Ukrainian-speaking west, where pro-European sentiment runs high, and a heavily-Russified southeast - more than a shared aversion for the Berkut riot police.
The elite units carried shields and Kalashnikov rifles as they cracked down on protesters in Kiev and brutally beat those detained. In one incident that spread on the internet, they forced one man to strip naked in the freezing cold and parade in front of a police camera.
But acting interior minister Arsen Avakov announced on his Facebook page that he was dissolving the feared unit, effective immediately.
"The Berkut is no more," the 50-year-old wrote.
Avakov promised to disclose further details on Wednesday and said nothing about how he would deal with a possible insurrection from one of the country's best-armed and trained forces.