Rioters and police in central Kiev are exchanging smoke and stun grenades, as a fresh wave of violence is gripping the Ukrainian capital. While the rioters have no clear demands, the opposition keeps pushing for the president’s resignation.
18:00 GMT: Rebecca Harms, a German MEP for the Greens, told RT that she would be supporting the call for sanctions against Ukraine.
I have since a long time advocated to go for those sanctions. Because I think it’s really a provocation that some of the political elite in Kiev bring their country back to Moscow and at the same time they are doing big business in European member states with money, which results from several waves of privatizations, so-called privatizations in Ukraine. This must end and this is also something that those brave people fighting for the rule of law and against corruption want us to do.
NATO's top military commander appealed to Ukraine's leaders on Wednesday to avoid using military force against their people and called for dialogue with the country's new military leadership.
In Twitter messages, US Air Force General Philip Breedlove, NATO's Supreme Allied Commander Europe, asked that "responsible leaders avoid the use of military force against the people of Ukraine."
"I am calling upon the new military leadership in Ukraine to open a dialogue with us to bring this situation to a peaceful resolution," Breedlove said. (Reuters)
US President Barack Obama has threatened the Ukrainian government with“consequences” if the violence continues and the Ukrainian military steps into the conflict, Reuters reports.
Obama condemned the violence in Kiev in the strongest possible terms, saying he believes a peaceful resolution is still possible.
Pentagon spokesman Colonel Steve Warren also said the Ukrainian army’s participation in quelling riots “would have consequences in our defense relationship.”
“The Department of Defense is encouraged that the Ukrainian armed forces have not been brought into this crisis. We urge them to remain on the sidelines,” he said, adding that US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned his Ukrainian counterpart, Pavlo Lebedyev, of unspecified “consequences” in December.
At least 426 people have sought medical help following the violent riots in Kiev, the city’s health department said. There are currently 277 people being treated in hospitals for injuries, including gunshot wounds and burns.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have “agreed to continue to do everything so that there is no escalation of violence” in Ukraine, Merkel said as quoted by Reuters. The German Chancellor spoke with the Russian President over the phone.
“I informed him that French, German and Polish foreign ministers planned to go to Kiev tomorrow [Thursday]. We decided to keep very close contact with Russia,” Merkel said on the sidelines of a meeting with French President Francois Hollande in Paris.
Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich has fired Armed Forces head, Lieutenant-General Vladimir Zamana, and appointed Admiral Yury Ilyin as the new Army chief, Itar-Tass reports citing presidential press-service.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has urged EU officials to use their contacts with the Ukrainian opposition to push it to negotiations with the government. The opposition should distance itself from radical groups, Lavrov said.
British Prime Minister David Cameron said that violence from all sides of the Ukrainian conflict is “completely unacceptable,” at the same time urging President Viktor Yanukovich to call off government forces.
“I am deeply concerned by the scenes we are witnessing in Ukraine. The violence on all sides is completely unacceptable and President Yanukovich has a particular responsibility to pull back government forces and de-escalate the situation,” Cameron said in a statement.
“President Yanukovich should be under no doubt that the world is watching his actions and that those responsible for violence will be held accountable,” the British PM added.
Rioters in central Kiev’s Independence Square (Maidan) are placing fires around the square in anticipation of a police assault. Thick black smoke from burning tires is covering part of the square. There is no sign of any active police action and people are chanting and singing together with stage speakers.
The buildings of state television and radio (Gosteleradio) and the Central Post Office have been seized by Kiev rioters. According to the UNN agency, the post office building is being used as a headquarters by the radical Right Sector group. Several cafes have also been seized on the main central Khreshchatyk street, in some of which rioters are enrolling people for “self-defense.”
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