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World Leaders Call for De-Escalation of Violence in Ukraine

  • Zlatica Hoke

World leaders have called on the Ukrainian government and protesters to stop the bloodshed in Kyiv after clashes between police and protesters in the capital left a number of people dead on both sides. The confrontation escalated late Tuesday after police moved in with stun grenades and water cannon to remove a protest camp in central Kyiv.

Central Kyiv was in flames late Tuesday after police advanced to dismantle protester camps. The clashes have been the deadliest in the three-month long confrontation. Some Ukrainians are demanding the resignation of President Viktor Yanukovych for choosing closer ties with Russia instead of the European Union.

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton called for an immediate end to the bloodshed.

"I call upon President [Viktor] Yanukovych, the government, the leaders of the opposition, to find an immediate way out of this deepening crisis and to continue the work to find a way to solve the political crisis through dialogue. As I've said on each of the visits I've made, the European Union stands ready to help in any way that we can," said Ashton.

The U.S. government sent a similar message to Kyiv Tuesday. German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said it is up to the security forces to defuse the situation.

"I say explicitly: those who are in these hours responsible for decisions which lead to more bloodshed must also know, that the restraint that Europe has imposed on itself with regard to decisions about personal sanctions, that this decision will definitely be reconsidered," said Steinmeier.

Analysts said Moscow's financial aid to Ukraine is an important reason that President Yanukovych has sided with Russia, noting the European Union has not yet provided assistance.

Klaus Larres, a professor of international relations at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said the EU would have to make some sort of financial offer if they wanted Ukraine to come closer to its orbit.

"Until now, the EU has talked nicely, has promised all sorts of things, but has not actually offered hard cash, while Russia, of course, has offered $2 billion to Ukraine and they've bought Ukrainian bonds worth $2 billion and that's something Ukraine desperately needs. So I think money needs to come forward from the EU if they want to stand a chance to turn the country more towards the EU," said Larres.

Larres said talks between the government and opposition are important because the protests alone are not likely to bring about Yanukovych's resignation.

"We should not overlook and sometimes the Western media overlook that [President] Yanukovych is a democratically elected leader. He was elected by free elections in 2010. He has -- admittedly -- he has changed the constitution in his favor and he has today he has balked on going back to a more parliamentary system," said Larres.

Larres said that despite last month's resignation of Ukraine's pro-Russian prime minister, Mykola Azarov, Russia will continue to play a role in cash-strapped Ukraine. He said Moscow's latest $2 billion credit will go a long way to ensuring that happens.
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