WASHINGTON -- The White House is urging "outside actors" to respect Ukraine's sovereignty, as neighbouring Russia prepares for massive military exercises.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the U.S. is aware of Russia's plans to launch the military manoeuvrs. While Russian officials said the exercises were unrelated to the tensions in Ukraine, these exercise will take place near the shared border between the countries.

Without specifically mentioning Russia, Earnest also called on others in the region to end "provocative rhetoric and actions."

Russia has questioned the legitimacy of Ukraine's acting government, which took charge after pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych fled after signing an agreement aimed at ending his country's three-month political crisis.