Ukrainian police and protesters clashed again outside Kiev\’s city hall after security forces attempted to re-take the building occupied by hundreds of protesters.
Police on Wednesday used truncheons while protesters responded with sticks and demonstrators inside the building sprayed the police with extremely cold water from a fire hose, forcing security forces to retreat to police buses in the sub-zero temperatures.
Police ended up moving away from the building, having failed to wrest it from the hundreds of protesters inside.
Ukrainian opposition leader Vitaly Klitschko said that this action taken against the protesters showed President Viktor Yanukovich was not interested in compromise.
"With what happened last night, Yanukovich closed off the path to any kind of compromise," Klitschko told a news conference, adding that they "had planned to have talks with Yanukovich. We understand that Yanukovich has no wish to talk to the people and only understands physical force, which he uses against the protesters."
Meanwhile the interior minister said Independence Square, where protesters remained through the night, will not be stormed again and urged for calm.
In an escalation of the protests that have been going on for weeks, security forces in the Ukraine did storm a protest on Tuesday night and in to Wednesday morning, ripping down barricades and tents in the capital Kiev.
The U.S. State Department issued a statement expressing "disgust" with the actions of Ukrainian authorities for introducing bulldozers and riot police to the scene, rather than exercising what Secretary of State John Kerry termed, "respect for democratic rights and human dignity."
Kerry said that "respect for democratic principles, including freedom of assembly," is fundamental to the United States\’ approach to Ukraine. He said these values are universal, not just American. He also called for the "utmost restraint" and said human life must be protected.
The protests began in late November, after the Ukrainian president backed away from a long-anticipated trade deal with the European Union in favor of repairing and improving economic and political ties with Russia.
On Wednesday, Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov announced that Ukraine is requesting $27.5 billion in financial assistance from the European Union before it signs an association agreement with the 28-nation bloc.
Azarov said Ukraine is inviting the European Commission to consider under what conditions Ukraine\’s industry and economy will work.
On Tuesday, European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland met in the capital with senior government and opposition leaders in a push to ease the crisis. Later, Ashton walked through the square to view the protests and speak with reporters.
Also on Tuesday, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych met with three former Ukrainian presidents, launching so-called round table talks reportedly aimed at the same objective.
In a nationally televised address following his meeting with his predecessors, Yanukovych called for the release of protesters arrested after a violent police crackdown November 30. He also said that good relations with both Russia and the European Union are necessary to protect the country\’s interests.
Moscow is seeking to form a trade bloc of former Soviet republics and satellite countries to rival the European Union, and has in recent months exerted strong economic pressure on its impoverished neighbor to scuttle the EU deal.
Earlier this year, it imposed restrictions on goods from Ukraine, cutting Ukrainian exports by 25 percent and dragging the country into recession.
Russia is Ukraine\’s largest foreign investor, trading partner and chief natural gas supplier. Moscow is reported to be attempting to reach a deal with Ukraine that would include a $9 billion annual discount on gas pipeline shipments.
Source: VOA and agencie