Biden Calls Ukraine's Prime Minister Amid Complete Chaos In Kiev

UkraineAP/Efrem LukatskyAn anti-government protester is engulfed in flames during clashes with riot police outside Ukraine’s parliament in Kiev, Ukraine, Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014.

Vice President Joe Biden called Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych on Tuesday amid total chaos in the country, where at least 18 people have died.

Here’s the full White House readout of the call:

Vice President Biden called Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych today to express grave concern regarding the crisis on the streets of Kyiv. He called on President Yanukovych to pull back government forces and to exercise maximum restraint. The Vice President made clear that the United States condemns violence by any side, but that the government bears special responsibility to de-escalate the situation. The Vice President further underscored the urgency of immediate dialogue with opposition leaders to address protesters’ legitimate grievances and to put forward serious proposals for political reform. The United States is committed to supporting efforts to promote a peaceful resolution to the crisis that reflects the will and aspirations of the Ukrainian people.

Anti-government protests reached a boiling point on Tuesday, as protesters and riot police clashed in the streets of the capital city of Kiev.

Earlier on Tuesday, the White House said it was “appalled” by the uptick in violence, which came after weeks of relative calm in Ukraine.

“I can tell you we are appalled by the violence that was already taking place in downtown Kiev, and reports of armed riot police amassing on the edge of Maidan,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said.

“We continue to condemn the street violence and excessive use of force by either side. The force will not resolve the crisis. To restore peace and stability we urge President Yanukovych to deescalate immediately the situation and end the confrontation at Maidan. We also urge him to restart a dialogue with opposition leaders today to develop a consensus way forward for Ukraine.”

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