Ukraine opposition leaders say President Viktor Yanukovych failed Wednesday to respond positively to their demands, and they warned of an opposition offensive if he does not respond to a second round of talks on Thursday.
In Kyiv, opposition leader Arseniy Yatseniuk told a crowd of supporters "we have 24 hours left to walk this path." He went on to warn that "tomorrow we will march forward together" if the president does not end the government crackdown that left three protesters dead Wednesday in Independence Square.
Boxer-turned-opposition politician Vitaly Klitschko, speaking alongside Yatseniuk, vowed to "do whatever it takes" to end the violence and resolve the two-month political crisis gripping the capital.
Earlier Wednesday, authorities said three anti-government protesters were killed in clashes with police -- two of them from gunshot wounds and a third from a fall.
In Washington, a U.S. State Department spokeswoman condemned the latest violence, and said the Obama administration is considering sanctions against the government, if President Yanukovych "fails to protect the democratic rights of all Ukrainians, including the rights of peaceful protest."
Marie Harf blamed the violence on both the government and far-right extremists. She said the rightists are, in her words, "inflaming conditions on the streets and undermining the efforts of peaceful protestors."
European Commission President José Manuel Barroso said Wednesday he was "shocked" by the deaths of protesters. He said Ukrainian authorities have "the fundamental responsibility" to de-escalate the crisis.
The number of injured protesters reached the hundreds by Tuesday, when anti-government protesters marched through Kyiv for a third straight day. They are protesting President Viktor Yanukovych's November decision to back out of a trade deal with the European Union in favor of closer ties with Russia. The marchers also are upset over laws recently enacted that tighten restrictions on protests.
In Washington, the U.S. Broadcasting Board of Governors expressed outrage for the bloody police attacks on dozens of journalists in Kyiv, including RFE/RL reporter Dmytro Barkar and cameraman Ihor Iskhakov. They were covering the protests on Monday when they were beaten and struck on the head by members of the elite Berkut police force.