Military action by US is not among the options being considered, deputy spokesman Josh Earnest said.
"The options available to the president are being considered with some urgency," he told reporters, adding that sanctions were the only measure under active consideration.
In Brussels, the 28-nation European Union decided on Friday in an emergency meeting to impose sanctions against those behind the violence, including a travel ban and an asset freeze against some Ukrainian officials.
President Barack Obama discussed the situation by telephone with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the White House said.
The White House has urged President Viktor Yanukovych to withdraw forces from downtown Kiev immediately.
Earnest said the Ukrainian government has the primary responsibility for keeping the peace, but that the Ukrainian people must also respect their right to peaceful protest. He said "having those rights trampled" is a source of some concern to US, and again called on the government and the opposition to negotiate a political solution to restore order.
"Basic human rights that we hold so dear in this country are not being respected in that country," Earnest said.
Ukrainian government snipers fired upon advancing protesters in the capital of Kiev on Friday, killing at least 70 people and wounding hundreds of others.
At least 101 people have died this week in the clashes, according to protesters and Ukrainian authorities, a sharp and deadly turn in three months of mostly peaceful activity.

Obama calls Merkel to discuss Ukraine

US President Barack Obama called German Chancellor Angela Merkel to discuss the fast deteriorating situation in Ukraine, as both the European Union and America ramped up the pressure on the Ukrainian government.
"They agreed that it is critical that United States, Germany and the European Union continue to stay in close touch in the days ahead on steps we can take to support an end to the violence and a political solution that is in the best interests of the Ukrainian people," the White House said.

Expressing concern, Earnest said it is not necessarily related to any effort by former Cold War adversaries to try to gain a foothold in one country or another.
"This shouldn't be a zero sum game, it's in the interests of the international community for peace and stability to be restored in Ukraine and that's what we're striving for," he said.
"It's the view of the president and it's the view of this administration that that stability and peace will only be achieved through conversations and through talks and through a willingness of both the government and the opposition to sit across the table and try to find some solutions," Earnest said.


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