WASHINGTON — U.S. President Barack Obama was nowhere to be found as the country of Ukraine blew up in a literal fireball of violence.
The British newspaper The Guardian reported that Ukrainian policemen stormed a protest camp in the capital city of Kiev and resulted in at least 25 dead Ukrainians. The paper documented the violence in an impressive series of photos.
An estimated 200 people were injured in the clashes, where riot police tried to storm and take most of the occupied Independence Square. They failed to do so yesterday. But, protesters set the square on fire to deter police from completely seizing the square. The police managed to take 1/3 of the square.
Protesters, armed with makeshift shields, armor and molotov cocktails, are upset with the authoritarian government under Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich. The protesters want closer ties with the European Union, which would have happened if Yanukovich signed a historic trade pact with Europe. But, he pulled out under pressure from Russia and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Yanukovich’s supporters in parliament passed a ban on protests, which only reignited the protests, as well as a brutal beating of a female opposition journalist. Yanukovich even took a sick day when the protests reached a fever pitch. But, a judge was murdered by unknown assailants and the government blamed the protesters, a charge the protesters deny.
Russia, the E.U. and the U.S. have traded barbs over the protests. But the U.S. was embarrassed when a phone call was leaked, which recorded a top U.S. State Department official Victoria Nuland offered unflattering and critical words about the protesters and the European Union.
While the violence raged last night, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden called Yanukovich to express his reservations over the government’s repressive tactics. But, as some noted, Obama was noticeably absent.
Obama did present some remarks on the situation in Ukraine, but not until earlier today (as USA Today reported).
But, earlier today, a truce was declared after Yanukovich met with opposition and protest leaders, reported Sky News.