Thursday, February 20, 2014

EU Envoys Meet Ukrainian President as Violence Rocks Capital

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych met with a group of EU foreign ministers on Thursday afternoon as renewed violence gripping the capital reportedly claimed at least 10 deaths. A presidential administration spokesman said envoys from France, Germany and Poland were attending the meeting. The talks took place against the backdrop of increasing talk in Western capitals of imposing sanctions against Kiev over the unrest. US President Barack Obama on Wednesday urged the Ukrainian government to stem the surge of violence in the ex-Soviet country and warned that there would be “consequences” if the deadly clashes continued. “We are going to be watching very carefully, and we expect the Ukrainian government to show restraint, to not resort to violence in dealing with peaceful protesters,” Obama said during an official visit to Mexico. Ukrainian authorities have defended themselves against accusations of undertaking excess force, arguing that rioters have been attempting to violently seize power. The increasingly intransigent standoff between the government and the opposition took a bloody turn Tuesday after a crowd marching on parliament was confronted by law enforcement officers. Pictures from the front lines showed rioters ripping up cobblestones to hurl at police. Riot police pushed the crowd back to barricades surrounding Independence Square. A section of the square had until Thursday morning been occupied by police. As of Thursday morning, authorities said 28 people, including at least 10 police officers, had been killed in clashes that lasted into Wednesday morning. Most of the officers killed reportedly bore gunshot wounds. More than 800 people have been injured in the unrest. Authorities and opposition representatives have traded accusations over who was responsible for escalating the violence. Police say radical protesters have secured hundreds of firearms. (video) (video)

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