U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is decrying what he calls a disturbing trend of governments in central and eastern Europe — including in Ukraine — trampling on the aspirations of ordinary people.

Kerry spoke Saturday at an international security conference at which the crisis in Ukraine was a prominent topic.

Kerry says the crisis in Ukraine is about ordinary people fighting for the right to associate with the European Union. And he says Ukrainians have decided their futures don't have to lie with one country — an allusion to Russia.

The crisis began after Ukraine's president backed out of an agreement to deepen ties with the EU in favor of getting closer to Russia. Protests quickly came to encompass a wide array of discontent over corruption and other grievances.