News / Europe

US, Europe Condemn Violence in Ukraine, Consider Sanctions

US, Europe Condemn Violence in Ukraine, Consider Sanctionsi
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
Zlatica Hoke
The United States and the European Union are considering sanctions against senior government officials in Ukraine in response to Tuesday's bloodshed in the capital.  At least 26 people were killed in clashes between the protesters and police forces sent to dismantle their camps from central Kyiv. 

Many accuse the government of excessive use of force as word comes of a truce between the government and leaders of the opposition.

Images of deadly clashes and Kyiv engulfed in flames Tuesday night shocked the world.  The two sides blame each other for the escalation of violence that caused death and destruction; but, U.S. President Barack Obama and many Western European leaders have made it clear that they hold the Ukrainian government responsible.

"Along with our European partners, we will continue to engage all sides.  And we continue to stress to [Ukrainian] President [Viktor] Yanukovych and the Ukrainian govenment that they have the primary responsibility to prevent the kind of terrible violence that we've seen, to withdraw riot police, to work with the opposition to restore security and human dignity and move the country forward," said President Obama.

German and French leaders condemned the violence at a joint news conference in Paris Wednesday, hours before word came of a truce between Ukrainian's government and opposition.

EU foreign ministers have scheduled an emergency meeting for Thursday in Brussels to address Ukraine's situation and discuss sanctions.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso conveyed a message to Ukraine's leaders.

"We believe the political leadership of the country has the responsibility to ensure the protection of fundamental rights and freedoms," said Barroso.

The French, German and Polish foreign ministers are meeting with members of the Ukrainian government and the opposition Thursday for talks on the unrest.  

Hundreds of people have been injured, some of them brutally beaten.  Among them, U.S. citizen George Sajewych, former VOA producer, who traveled to Ukraine to participate in the protests.

"I just got clubbed all over; on the head, broke my arm in two places.  Finally I fell on the ground, and the rule, is you can't hit a guy on the ground, you're not supposed to, it's against the rule of something or other, maybe even the United Nations," said Sajewych.

United Nations human rights official Ivan Simonovic called the situation in Ukraine extremely disturbing.

"It’s our firm position, that because of possible excessive use of force, there must be credible, impartial and international investigations," said Simonovic.

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych dismissed the head of the armed forces, Volodymyr Zamana, a day after deadly confrontations turned the capital into a battle zone.

The protests started relatively peacefully after President Yanukovych last November refused to sign a political and economic deal with the European Union, saying the bloc did not offer enough assistance to cash-strapped Ukraine.  In December, he reached a $15 billion loan deal with Russia.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has blamed Ukraine's opposition for the Tuesday violence, calling it an attempt by extremists to overthrow the government.

You May Like

Video Debt-ridden Refugees Await Onslaught of Lebanese Winter

Aid agencies are attempting to reduce potentially devastating consequences of freezing conditions and snowstorms that killed eight last year, including three Syrian refugees

Photogallery Belgian Security Measures Foreshadow New Normal for Europe

Rising threat of terrorism, disaffected Muslim populations and open borders, along with refugee, migrant crisis, are creating perfect storm for Europe, which some analysts fear continent is ill-suited to weather

Americans Think About Strange Stuff at Thanksgiving

Tattoos, hookah bars and doughnuts? Google Maps lays out what people really have on their minds during the holiday

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against ISi
November 24, 2015 3:04 AM
The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs