The European Union has called a rare meeting of the bloc’s 28 foreign ministers to discuss the ongoing crisis in Ukraine.
European Union governments are expected to urgently agree to sanctions “against those responsible for violence and use of excessive force,” according to European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso.
At least 25 people died on Tuesday as anti-government protesters clashed with the Russian-backed police forces of Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovych in Independence Square (aka Maidan).
“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.”
On Tuesday night, police stormed the square at night and took over about a third of it over time, but protesters remain defiant as dawn broke and the area smoldered.
“We will stay until victory and will hold the Maidan until the end,” a 44-year-old from the western region of Ternopil who gave only his first name of Volodymyr told Reuters after the clashes.
The crisis began in late November when Yanukovych snubbed a plan to sign an Association Agreement and trade pact with the EU after Russia
persuaded the most populous former Soviet republic to stay in the Kremlin’s orbit.
Citizens subsequently flooded the streets and made Maidan their base. The confrontations between the opposition and Yanukovych’s government have been escalating since.
Here’s a look at why the EU, and Russian President Vladimir Putin, is so invested in what happening in Ukraine.
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