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Europe

EU weighs sanctions against Ukraine amid unrest

© AFP

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-02-19

The European Union weighed imposing targeted sanctions on Ukraine on Wednesday as the country’s Health Ministry reported that 25 people had been killed and hundreds injured in clashes between police and protesters in the capital Kiev.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said that EU member countries were expected to agree on the sanctions.

“We have ... made it clear that the EU will respond to any deterioration on the ground. We therefore expect that targeted measures against those responsible for violence and use of excessive force can be agreed by our member states as a matter of urgency,” Barroso said in a statement.

“We call on all sides to immediately put an end to the violence and engage into a meaningful dialogue, responding to the democratic aspirations of the Ukrainian people,” he said.

An EU official later said that European Union foreign ministers had been called to Brussels for an emergency meeting Thursday on the situation in Ukraine.

At least 26 people have been killed during clashes in Kiev over the past day, while another 240 people have been reported injured. Ukraine’s Health Ministry initially announced that 25 people had died, nine of whom were officers, but the police later said that a tenth had died of his wounds.

It is the worst violence the country has seen since demonstrations against President Viktor Yanukovich first erupted in November, after he backed out of a trade deal with the EU to negotiate a $15 billion financial aid agreement with Russia instead.

Unrest continues in Kiev

Kiev’s Independence Square, which has been at the heart of the protest movement for the past three months, looked like a battle zone on Wednesday with thick black smoke rising up from fires and makeshift barricades erected to protect the demonstrators.

Thousands of people remained camped out on the square, which is also known as the Maidan, despite a heavy police presence.

“It does look as though low-level clashes have just started up again, I wouldn’t call it anything like a new wave of storming of the square by the police,” FRANCE 24’s correspondent in Kiev, Gulliver Cragg, reported. “Protesters are protecting the part of the square that has not been destroyed by the police with a line of actual fire.”

In a statement posted online earlier in the day, Yanukovich said he had refrained from using force since unrest began but was being pressed by “advisers” to take a harder line.

“Without any mandate from the people, illegally and in breach of the constitution of Ukraine, these politicians - if I may use that term - have resorted to pogroms, arson and murder to try to seize power,” the president said.

He also declared Thursday a day of mourning for those who had been killed in the violence.

(FRANCE 24 with AP, REUTERS)

Date created : 2014-02-19

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