Embattled Ukraine: Kiev’s vicious cycle of violence rages on ― RT News

ウクライナ、反政権派がキエフの独立広場を奪回 | Reuters


Ukraine clashes kill 21 more, EU talks shifted | Reuters

At least 21 civilians were killed in fresh fighting in Kiev on Thursday, shattering an overnight truce declared by Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich, and a presidential statement said dozens of police were also dead or wounded.

Activists hurling petrol bombs and paving stones drove riot police off a corner of the central Independence Square, known as the Maidan, and appeared to capture several uniformed officers. Police responded with stun grenades.

The clashes erupted shortly before three visiting European foreign ministers were due to meet the Russian-backed Yanukovich to push for a compromise with his pro-European opponents. The meeting was delayed for security reasons but began an hour late.

A statement from Yanukovich's office said: "They (the protesters) went on to the offensive. They are working in organized groups. They are using firearms, including sniper rifles. They are shooting to kill.

"The number of dead and injured among police officers is dozens," the statement on the presidential website said.

Both sides have accused the other of using live ammunition.

Russia, which has been holding back a new loan installment until it sees stability in Kiev, has condemned EU and U.S. support of the opposition demands that Yanukovich, elected in 2010, should share power and hold new elections.

In an apparent criticism of Yanukovich's handling of the crisis, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said on Thursday that Moscow could only cooperate fully with Ukraine when its leadership was in "good shape", Interfax reported.

A statement on Yanukovich's website announced an accord late on Wednesday with opposition leaders for "the start to negotiations with the aim of ending bloodshed, and stabilizing the situation in the state in the interest of social peace".

Responding cautiously, U.S. President Barack Obama deemed the truce a "welcome step forward", but said the White House would continue to monitor the situation closely to "ensure that actions mirror words".

"Our approach in the United States is not to see these as some Cold War chessboard in which we're in competition with Russia," Obama said after a North American summit in Mexico.

"Our goal is to make sure that the people of Ukraine are able to make decisions for themselves for the future," he said.

Threats of sanctions against Ukraine look like blackmail - Lavrov ― RT News

Threats of sanctions against the Ukrainian government look like blackmail, and a demand for early elections is a way to force Kiev towards the EU, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said. The sanctions will only encourage extremists, he added.

Lavrov on Thursday blasted the sanctions against Ukraine, some of which have already been imposed by the US, and are now being eyed by the EU, as “double standards.” Such actions will only encourage extremists to continue violence in the country, he said.

Not only are such threats “inappropriate,” but also will aggravate the conflict in Ukraine, Lavrov said earlier.

There is “no doubt” there is a “plain coup attempt” going on in Ukraine, with armed rioters widely using firearms, Foreign Ministry spokesman, Aleksandr Lukashevich, has said.

“We strongly condemn the actions of radicals and extremists, who are mostly responsible for violence and bloody riots. Serious responsibility also lies with the opposition, who have been unable to fulfill the agreements reached with the government,” Lukashevich said.

The so-called Maidan leaders must “immediately stop bloodshed” and “continue seeking a peaceful resolution to the crisis without threats or ultimatums,” he stressed.

Moscow is not interfering in the internal conflict in Ukraine, Lukashevich said, adding that there are plenty of “false flag reports,” such as Russian riot police taking part in quelling the riots, which are distributed over social networks and by “some politicians.”

Kiev allows police to use firearms, demands armed rioters to lay down weapons ― RT News

Security forces in central Kiev have been allowed to use firearms in self-defense after gunmen opened fire at the police from windows of a building, the Ukrainian Interior Ministry said.

“On February 20, from the windows of Kiev conservatory, unknown gunmen opened fire at law-enforcement officials. Aiming to save lives and the health of the security forces, it was decided to relocate the troops to safer spots and according to the current legislation, to use firearms as self-defense,” the Interior Ministry said in a statement.