News / Europe

White House Considers Sanctions on Ukraine as EU Talks Continue

  • Anti-government protesters shout "Glory to the Ukraine" as they man a barricade at Independence Square in Kyiv, Feb. 21, 2014.
  • A fire burns at the barricades on the outskirts of Independence Square in Kyiv, Feb. 21, 2014.
  • An anti-government protester sits and rest on a barricade at Independence Square in Kyiv, Feb. 21, 2014.
  • An anti-government protester stands atop a barricade at Independence Square in Kyiv, Feb. 20, 2014.
  • Activists pay respects to protesters killed in clashes with police, Independence Square, Kyiv, Feb. 20, 2014. 
  • Activists pay respects to anti-government protesters killed in clashes with riot police in Kyiv's Independence Square, Feb. 20, 2014.
  • Anti-government protesters climb a barricade in central Kyiv, Feb. 20, 2014. 
  • Activists reinforce the barricades in Kyiv's Independence Square, Feb. 20, 2014. 
  • Anti-government protesters build barricades around Independence Square during clashes with riot police, Kyiv, Feb. 20, 2014. 
  • An anti-government protester holds a firearm as he mans a barricade on the outskirts of Independence Square, Kyiv, Feb. 20, 2014. 
  • An anti-government protester wounded by firearms is carried to a makeshift clinic in central Kyiv, Ukraine, Feb. 20, 2014. 
  • An anti-government protester prepares to throw a car tire into the flames lit by protesters, Independence Square, Kyiv, Feb. 20, 2014.
President Obama is considering a range of sanctions options in response to mounting violence and deaths in Ukraine. 

The White House Thursday expressed outrage at what it called "images of Ukrainian security forces firing automatic weapons on their own people."

A White House statement called on President Yanukovych to immediately withdraw security forces and respect the right of peaceful protest.  Washington also is urging protesters to express themselves peacefully.  

There are strong indications the Obama administration will announce additional steps, including possible financial sanctions, which the president would impose through executive order.  

WATCH: Related video from VOA's Zlatica Hoke
Western Leaders Blame Ukraine Government for Violencei
X
February 21, 2014 2:39 AM
The United States and the European Union have agreed to impose sanctions on the Ukrainian government officials considered to be responsible for the excessive use of force against anti-government demonstrations. Clashes between police and protesters in Ukraine's capital have continued despite a truce aimed at preventing further bloodshed. Some analysts say sanctions may not have a serious impact on the Russian-supported government. Zlatica Hoke reports.

This would be on top of visa restrictions announced on Wednesday targeting 20 Ukrainian government officials.

Deputy press secretary Josh Earnest said the latest violence in Ukraine added a sense of urgency.

"Making a decision about sanctions, it can't just be knee-jerk action.  It is important for us to consider the range of consequences that could ensue from applying sanctions.  But again, there is a sense of urgency that is being felt because of the terrible violence we saw overnight," said Earnest.

Obama discussed the situation in Ukraine with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.  They agreed, according to a statement, that it is critical for the United States, Germany and EU to stay in close touch on steps to support an end to the violence and a political solution.

Earnest indicated Obama would be having conversations with other world leaders "with a vested interest in peace and stability in Ukraine."  He said the U.S. and Russia share a common interest in this.  So far, Obama has not called Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss the situation.

EU Efforts Continue

Three foreign ministers from the EU are in talks again with President Viktor Yanukovych on finding a way out of Ukraine's crisis.

France's Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius described the talks in Kyiv as "very difficult."

Fabius, along with the foreign ministers of Germany and Poland, arrived in the Ukrainian capital earlier on February 20 for talks with both the opposition and government.

After meeting with opposition leaders, Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski said progress was being made on a proposed road map to ease the crisis, which diplomats say would include forming a temporary government.

Ukrainian opposition members celebrate during the voting in parliament in Kyiv, Feb. 20, 2014.Ukrainian opposition members celebrate during the voting in parliament in Kyiv, Feb. 20, 2014.
x
Ukrainian opposition members celebrate during the voting in parliament in Kyiv, Feb. 20, 2014.
Ukrainian opposition members celebrate during the voting in parliament in Kyiv, Feb. 20, 2014.
Late Thursday  Ukraine parliament voted for all Interior Ministry forces to withdraw from Independence Square return to their bases but there was no indication of when the measure would take effect because it would have to be implemented by the president's office and the Interior Ministry. 

​The EU foreign ministers will continue negotiations on Friday.

The European Union announced sanctions, including visa bans, asset freezes and restrictions on the export of anti-riot equipment, aimed at those who ordered or were involved in orchestrating violence.

Russia has criticized the European and U.S. moves, calling them “blackmail.”

Mounting casualties

The call came amid reports that dozens of people were killed in a new escalation of clashes between anti-government protesters and security forces in central Kyiv on Thursday.

Quoting the protesters' top medic, the Associated Press is reporting that up to 70 activists have been killed and 500 injured so far. Some of those killed were reportedly shot by government snipers.

Ukraine's Interior Ministry, meanwhile, reported that three police officers were killed Thursday. It said more than 50 police personnel had been hospitalized during the day, 30 of them with gunshot wounds. The ministry also said that protesters had captured 67 policemen.

Elsewhere, television footage from the western city of Lviv showed scenes of chaos, as anti-government protesters firebombed government buildings and some police declined to intervene.

Thursday's violence erupted just hours after President Viktor Yanukovych announced a truce with opposition leaders.

Interior Minister Vitaly Zakharchenko said Thursday that police have been issued "combat weapons" to protect citizens and property from attacks, and for self-defense.

He called on "extremists" among the protesters to hand over their weapons and called on opposition leaders to "disassociate themselves" from "the radicals."

WATCH: US/Europe Condemn Ukraine Violence

US, Europe Condemn Violence in Ukraine, Consider Sanctionsi
X
February 20, 2014 12:24 PM
Witnesses in the Ukrainian capital say at least 17 people have been killed in fresh clashes that erupted between anti-government protesters and police, hours after President Viktor Yanukovych announced a truce with opposition leaders. Zlatica Hoke reports

In Moscow, the Kremlin announced that President Vladimir Putin was sending his human rights ombudsman, Vladimir Lukin, to Ukraine to mediate talks between President Yanukovych and the opposition. According to the Kremlin, the step was taken at the Ukrainian president's request..

President Yanukovych and the leaders of anti-government protests had agreed on a truce Wednesday. A statement on President Viktor Yanukovych's website said it is aimed at "ending the bloodshed and stabilizing the situation ...in the interests of social peace."  It did not provide details. The opposition claims Yanukovych was trying to use the truce to allow for more security forces to be moved into Kyiv.

Army chief replaced

Hours before Wednesday's truce had been announced, the president fired his army chief and Ukraine's military declared a nationwide crackdown on what it called "extremist groups."  Yanukovych - the target of the protests - offered no explanation for the dismissal.

Separately, the Security Service of Ukraine announced an "anti-terrorist" operation, saying "radical elements" in the country had overrun government arms depots and seized weapons and munitions.  Local media quoted officials as saying they fear those stockpiles are being transported to the capital for use by protesters trying to force Yanukovych from power.

Security Service chief Oleksandr Yakymenko said municipal buildings, security offices and arms depots had been raided around the country.  He said 1,500 firearms and 100,000 rounds of ammunition had wound up "in the hands of criminals" over a 24-hour period.

Call to switch sides

Meanwhile, opposition leader Vitali Klitschko has called on police and soldiers to join the protesters.

"All who will switch sides and join the people, will have security guarantees," said he.

In a YouTube video statement, the former world boxing champion-turned politician also called on those in uniform to remember the oath they took.

"Don't allow yourselves to be used as tools in this war against the people, whom you swore to serve and protect. Show your human side! Refuse to execute unlawful orders by the authorities, against whom the country has risen up," said Klitschko.

He added that Yanukovych is not worth such sacrifice.

In an apparent sign of Yanukovych's eroding support, his hand-picked acting mayor of Kyiv, Volodymyr Makeyenko, announced Thursday that he was resigning from Yanukovych's ruling Party of Regions in protest over the 'bloodshed' in the capital.

Anti-government protests have been rocking Ukraine since late November, with activists calling for Yanukovych's ouster after he backed away from a trade deal with the European Union in favor of closer ties with Russia.

In Moscow, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov condemned the deadly Ukraine protests as a "coup attempt."  He denied claims President Vladimir Putin was giving advice to Ukraine's president on how to handle the crisis and reiterated Moscow would not interfere with Ukraine's internal affairs.

With reporting by RFE/RL, Reuters, AP and AFP.

You May Like

FIFA Indictments Put Gold Cup Tournament Under Cloud

Experts say US indictments could lead to charges of other world soccer officials, and lead to major shakeup in sport's governance More

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

At a recent even in Seoul, border communities promoted benefits of increased cooperation and North Korean defectors shared stories of life since the war More

Video VOA EXCLUSIVE: Iraq President Vows to Fight IS 'Until They Are Killed or We Die'

In wide-ranging interview with VOA Persian service reporter, Fuad Masum describes conflict as new type of fight that will take time to win More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments page of 2
    Next 
by: Ross Nicholson
February 21, 2014 1:38 AM
Clogging up the capital and occupying government buildings is no way to behave in a democracy. The American government should never condone such tactics, either.
That being said, Europe should include both Russia and Ukraine, since they are all European people. We have a Eurasian Union in our collective future, too. We have all got to live together on this earth, or we will all die killing each other on this earth.

by: Ryk van Donselaar from: Canada
February 21, 2014 12:29 AM
Sanctions don't work and usually punish the people they're intended to help. They haven't worked with Syria, Iran, North Korea, Libya and the list goes on. They are simply an easy way out instead of concrete actions. I'm sure that having his travel plans threatened isn't high on the Ukrainian President at this moment.

by: screw you china from: USA
February 21, 2014 12:09 AM
Huang Jun of course you'd side with Russia. As if your country, aka industrial sector of the USA, is any better than Russia.

by: YangShihao from: China
February 20, 2014 10:43 PM
I guess the opposition leader is a careerist,or he would prevent other protesters from protesting goverment by violence,he know that use violence would be suffered from more violent revenge,but the fact is that he does not do this,he just wants to make use of people's blood to get more sympathy from the world and use western power to overthrow the goverment,than he would be the next ruler of Ukraine .

by: Huang Jun from: China
February 20, 2014 9:09 PM
Obama and the EU have proved themselved to be hypocritical and doubled-standard when they decided to impose sactions against Ukraine government. They have taken sides with the extremists and terrorists who are resorting to force, blackmailing and killing to grab power. Those criminals, who are shooting governent officers and policemen, robbing state properties and shooting reportes, must be punished right away! The extremist leader must be arrested and put on trial. We are on your side, Ukraine!
In Response

by: Anonymous
February 21, 2014 2:14 AM
What you say is dead on but despite the hypocrisy, they are right to impose sanctions on Ukraine if the government is opening fire on its people. We are certainly not on the side of Ukraine, we are on the side of the protesters who are being shot.

by: Kelly Brown from: CA
February 20, 2014 6:10 PM
RUSSIAN THUGS KEEP YOUR DIRTY MITS OFF UKRAINE!!!

Where are the true men of Russia? Where are the likes of Gorbachev and Yeltsin? Putin has returned Russia back into the evil empire. It didn't take long, did it?

Obama is a joke. He is visibly afraid of Putin. I pray for the good people of Ukraine that wish not to be enslaved again by evil.
In Response

by: Anonymous
February 21, 2014 2:16 AM
It could equally be argued that the US is an evil empire too which is a great threat to world peace, with its neo-imperial drone strikes and military invasions of foreign nation states such as Iraq who never posed a threat to the US.
In Response

by: Peter from: NY
February 21, 2014 12:34 AM
It is sad to see how naive Americans can be. There's no evil empire. One group of thugs is fighting another for land rights using nationalists and extremists of all sorts that are organized, trained and even armed. Freedom. As soon as this word is used you start seeing body bags. The sad part that Americans also pay for this

by: JKF2 from: GREAT NORTH (Canada)
February 20, 2014 3:19 PM
The media indicates that it has now clear evidence that the criminal gvmt has been using snipper; it is now completely clear that the intention of the criminal gvmt of Yanukovych was in fact to kill protesters; it was suspected for well over 5 or 8 days that the gvmt was using snippers to kill protesters, now evidence, claimed by the press, indicates that the criminal gvmt has been using snippers all along, no ifs or buts. The many people over the last two weeks, shot in the head/thorax, were all probably killed by the snippers. Although for over a week, the work of snippers was suspected, but due to lack of clear evidence, it was dismissed notwithstanding the nature of the wounds shown on some of the dead civilian demonstrators, resulting in their killings. It is now clear that the killings were initiated by the criminal gvmt. It is too bad that the forensics were not carried out, by credible independent international specialists, to see how many and for how long the snippers were in action, not a good turn of events for human rights; It is a very bad situation. On the balance, if media reports are true, the evidence now shows that the criminal gvmt initiated the policy of using live ammunition and snippers; this criminal Yanuk... Ukrainian gvmt needs to go! the sooner the better.

by: Anonymous
February 20, 2014 2:45 PM
What has to happen now is a complete uprising in Russia. No better time, it would be the best thing to happen in Russian history, and put Putin where he deserves to be, OUSTED. He is the reason of many many thousands of death across europe and the middle east.

by: Misha from: CA, USA
February 20, 2014 1:10 PM
There is nothing peaceful about these protesters. I'd like to see any law enforcement agency in the US leave their post and let molotov-throwing rioters continue to "protest peacefully". The White House is full of hypocrites, that have nothing to do with what the majority of the well informed public in the US thinks.
In Response

by: jason from: san diego
February 20, 2014 7:19 PM
Wrong

by: HUANG JUN from: China
February 19, 2014 11:45 PM
Those extremists and rioters back by the US and the EU must be punished and cracked down to restore peace and order. They are not peaceful demonstrators as described by Obama. They have been used military guns to shoot dead policemen. They have been robbing military weapons to attack government officers. They have been blackmailing the government by illegal means. They are supported by the US and the EU because they are the products of those countries. Crush them down by military force! Obama dare not take any military action against you because you have Russia, China... by your side.
In Response

by: Liberman from: USA
February 20, 2014 2:34 AM
Chinese Bloody-Commi, It is strange that you write this nonsense on the VOA site .
You got the wrong address. You need "Russia Today" for your stupid propaganda cliches.
You are a mistake of nature.
Comments page of 2
    Next 

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs