The European Union has called a rare meeting of the group’s 28 foreign ministers for Thursday in response to the deteriorating crisis in Ukraine.
The anti-government protests descended into bloodshed Tuesday, with at least 25 killed and hundreds injured as protestors clashed with police forces in Kiev’s main square. The day of fighting was by far the bloodiest since protests against the Ukrainian government of President Viktor Yanukovych began in November. Clashes were expected to resume Wednesday.
The emergency E.U. meeting called on Wednesday is expected to consider sanctions against the Ukrainian government, with Poland, France and Latvia calling for immediate E.U. action, reports Reuters. “We…expect that targeted measures against those responsible for violence and use of excessive force can be agreed by our member states as a matter of urgency,” said the European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso.
Other western governments have called for restraint. U.S. Vice President Joe Biden called Yanukovych to urge him to push back government forces and address the “legitimate grievances” of protestors. British foreign minister William Hague tweeted that “violence against peaceful protestors is unacceptable” and German Chancellor Angela Merkel was “deeply saddened” by the violence.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry also said in a statement on Wednesday that Ukrainian opposition leaders should “stop the bloodshed.”
President Yanukovych posted an online statement on Wednesday accusing the opposition of trying to usurp him. “Without any mandate from the people, illegally and in breach of the constitution of Ukraine, these politicians—if I may use that term—have resorted to pogroms, arson and murder to try to seize power.”
He declared Thursday an official day of mourning for the dead.