Truce crumbles amid gunfire in Ukraine, dozens dead

Live rounds, petrol bombs and water cannon at the main protest site, over 100 dead. Opposition leaders called the violence “an act of provocation” by the authorities. EU sanctions likely. The head of the Kiev city administration resigned from Mr Yanukovych’s Party of the Regions. Parliament and cabinet buildings have been evacuated.

A shaky truce crumbled Thursday as gunfire erupted at Independence Square, the center of anti-government protests and an increasingly violent crisis that has left dozens dead and hundreds injured in recent days.
At least 100 people have died and 500 have been injured since Thursday morning, the head of the protesters’ medical service told CNN.
The Ukrainian government has not released an updated figure, but the interior ministry said earlier that one police officer was among the dead.
It’s unclear what prompted the gunfire just hours after the government declared a truce. But CNN crews at the scene reported that as security forces were moving away from the area, a group of protesters pursued them, throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails.
“Protesters broke the truce,” said a statement from President Viktor Yanukovych’s office. “The opposition used the negotiation period to buy time, to mobilize and get weapons to protesters.”
When the bullets flew, several demonstrators fell to the ground. Protesters grabbed the wounded by their clothes or limbs, and carried many of them to a hotel lobby at one end of the square that had been converted into a triage center.
Bodies, covered in bloodied sheets, lay on the floor. Orthodox priests prayed over them. Medical workers had no chance to save many of those who died, said Olga Bogomolets, a doctor. “They were shot directly to their hearts, their brain and to their neck,” she said.
European Union officials were scheduled to meet Thursday in an urgent session to discuss possible sanctions against the Ukrainian government, which could include freezing assets and restricting the visas of officials deemed responsible for violence in that country, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said on Twitter.
He was in Ukraine’s capital Thursday, along with foreign ministers from Germany and Poland, meeting with various opposition leaders and Yanukovych (photo) ahead of the emergency session in Brussels.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged the Ukrainian President to accept European help in talks with the anti-government opposition, Merkel’s office said Thursday.
Russia’s foreign ministry appeared to criticize Western diplomatic efforts, according to a report by Russian state news agency RIA Novosti.
“The ongoing attempts to obtrusively intervene from outside, threat with sanctions or trying to influence the situation in any other ways are inappropriate and can’t lead to anything good but can only aggravate the confrontation,” the report quoted spokesman Aleksandr Lukashevich.

Traian Basescu: Romania is ready to take over immigrants from Ukraine

Romania is prepared to take over immigrants from Ukraine, in case it will come to this, President Traian Basescu on Wednesday evening told a press conference held at Cotroceni Palace, Agerpres infoms.
‘With respect to Ukraine, I discussed the matter today with the intelligence services, the border police, those in charge of accommodation facilities for the refugees, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and so on. The general opinion is first of all, Romania must show absolute stability right now; secondly, Romania is ready, in case it will have to deal with an inflow of immigrants, to take them over and offer them accommodation. Of course, we are talking about approx. 3,500 immigrants, at least in the beginning, after which, if the need be, we will create other accommodation facilities,’ Traian Basescu stated.
He added that, in the case of Ukraine, ‘certain boundaries’ were crossed and that the reaction of Kyiv authorities to this was disproportionate.
‘It is very true that the law enforcement forces were being provoked, but the reaction was still disproportionate. The 25 people who died on both sides, according to the Ukrainian authorities, show the fact that both sides crossed certain boundaries, while the main responsibility rests with the State, which reacted to provocations in a disproportionate manner,’ said Basescu.
He also mentioned his urgent message to Ukrainian President, Viktor Yanukovych, to stop using excessive force.
‘I also want to send a message to the three leaders of the opposition not to get involved with the extremist groups, which, in fact, were the very ones that provoked the law enforcement forces in the first place,’ Basescu also said.
Romania will agree on individual sanctions being applied against those responsible for the excessive use of violence in Ukraine, President Traian Basescu also said on Wednesday. ‘Today I am voicing my concern over the situation in the region, as I have also done in my conversations with President Van Rompuy and in my conversations with Germany’s president and with the European Commission president and in those with US Vice President Biden. We are facing a major risk of destabilisation in the region,’ Basescu underscored.
FM Corlatean, EU counterparts discuss situation
Titus Corlatean participated yesterday evening to an extraordinary meeting in Brussels of the Foreign Affairs Council of the European Union concerning the situation in Ukraine. Romania’s Foreign Ministry (MAE) reports in a press release that at the ministerial meeting there was be a wide debate on the most recent developments and the European Union’s approach on the situation of Kyiv. MAE says the Romanian chief diplomat will reiterate deep concern with the recent developments, as well as firm disapproval of violence.

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