The violence continued overnight in Kiev, as the Euromaidan protesters held their ground against riot police called in by the government to stop the demonstrations. As of now, a demarcation between the two sides has been re-established as foreign governments urge both sides to return to negotiations. However, the rhetoric has not changed, and Kiev remains on the knife’s edge:
The death toll hit 25 overnight, with 241 injured as a cathedral in Kiev got converted to a hospital. Police started pushing into the square early in the morning, but from the live video below, it appears they have stopped — for now. The EU called an emergency meeting of all 28 foreign ministers, and they may be gathering to demand that Viktor Yanukovych be held personally responsible for the violence:
Deadly clashes between protesters and police in Kiev on Tuesday led to a fire-lit nighttime assault by Interior Ministry troops on the main protest encampment at Independence Square, in what may be a dramatic and irreversible turn in Ukraine’s months-long political crisis.
The 28-nation European Union on Wednesday called a meeting of foreign ministers to decide on its response, including possible sanctions, the Associated Press reported. Sanctions could include travel bans targeting the Ukrainian leadership and asset freezes.
E.U. foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton’s office said the special meeting of foreign ministers would weigh the bloc’s options Thursday in Brussels, according to the AP. …
Police began to push toward the camp early Wednesday. But whether or not they clear the square, Ukraine is heading for an even deeper divide. The hostility that the opposition feels toward Yanukovych is intense and widespread, especially in the western part of the country.
Having turned to Russia for much-needed financial help, Yanukovych may finally have burned his bridges to the West with Tuesday’s developments, leaving him in danger of being a weakened and unpopular supplicant to Moscow.
That will make it more difficult for Yanukovich to reverse his unpopular decision to align himself with Moscow, if that was even a possibility at this late date. Vice President Joe Biden called Yanukovich yesterday to urge him to pull the police back, but that seems to have had little effect. Yanukovich refused further negotiations until the protests disband, while one opposition lawmaker accused the Ukrainian president of having deliberately provoked the confrontation in order to use deadly force against his opponents:
Lesya Orobets, an opposition member of parliament, said the protesters fell into a trap laid for them by Yanukovych. She said he had knowingly provoked the hard-line members of a right-wing group called Pravy Sektor, who have formed the most aggressive element of the opposition and who led the fighting when it erupted.
“This massacre has been carefully planned in advance and is intended to eventually destroy any hint of democracy in Ukraine,” she wrote on Facebook.
The Espreso TV live channel we used yesterday has gone off line today, at least at the moment, but I have it embedded anyway in case it comes back on line. The Washington Post has a live video stream still functioning, where the smoke from burning tires and occasional explosions can be heard: