As it happened: Ukrainian police storm Kiev protest camp

Key Points

  • Kiev sees the worst violence since demonstrations began as police renew their assault on the main protest camp in the capital
  • At least 26 people dead, officials say. The dead include at least 14 protesters, 10 police officers and a journalist
  • Several hundred people have been injured on both sides
  • After failed late-night talks with opposition leaders, President Viktor Yanukovych blamed them for the violence
  • The protests began in November, when Mr Yanukovych rejected a deal with the EU in favour of closer ties with Russia
  • All times in GMT

    Hello, and welcome to our live coverage of the unrest in the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, where anti-government protesters are clashing with police.


    Police have used rubber bullets and stun grenades as thousands of protesters march on parliament.


    Police have begun storming the Maidan square, the focus of weeks of anti-government protests in central Kiev, local television is reporting.


    This image shows a protester throwing stones as a car burns in central Kiev:

    A protester throws stones as a car is on flames during clashes with police in Kiev

    The Maidan, also known as Independence Square, has been the site of the main protest camp since November.

    18:39: Maxim Eristavi

    tweets: While Independence square is burning and stun grenades are exploding, protesters are signing national anthem. It's like a doomsday


    Police officers have been throwing bricks back at protesters.

    A riot police prepares to throw a brick at anti-government protesters

    The unrest in Ukraine has been going on for months. It started in November when President Viktor Yanukovych rejected a deal with the EU in favour of closer ties with Russia. To understand all the background to the story, read our explainer here.


    The protest camp in the heart of Kiev is reported to be engulfed in flames as police advance on protesters.


    This image shows a masked protester in front of flames and thick smoke from burning vehicles.

    A masked protester is seen in front of thick smoke from burning vehicles
    18:46: Irina Galushko

    tweets: flames seem to come from Molotovs that don't reach the police, but make a circle of fire around protesters on #euromaidan


    During the day, at least nine people were killed, including two policemen, as protesters and security forces clashed in the worst violence in weeks.

    Editor at Kyiv Post, Christopher Miller,

    tweets: More protesters entering #EuroMaidan camp right now, many carrying tires. They've burned tires during these clashes to create a smokescreen.


    Rinat Akhmetov, Ukraine's richest oligarch, who is usually seen as an ally of Mr Yanukovych, has released a statement calling for an urgent end to the crisis.

    He said "there are no circumstances that justify the use of force against the civilian population", according to a report by Interfax news agency.

    Rinat Akhmetov
    Johann Kwan

    tweets: I just got a translation of the police megaphone. They're asking women and children to leave, as they're starting an anti-terror op.


    Incoming traffic to Kiev will be restricted from midnight to prevent an escalation of the protests, the government press agency says. "To prevent human casualties and the escalation of conflict, we ask the citizens of Ukraine to take into account that transport in the direction of Kiev will be restricted from midnight," it said.

    Nataliya Gumenyuk

    tweets: 5th channel - the biggest news channels which show the protest on TV shut down around the country


    A member of the security forces is seen on a roof, carrying a gun, during clashes with anti-government protesters in Kiev

    A member of the security forces is seen on a roof during clashes with anti-government protesters in Kiev

    Several tents pitched by anti-government protesters in Independence Square have been set on fire, according to images on Ukrainian television. Security forces are said to be circling the square in an apparent bid to clear the protesters.

    David Stern BBC News, Kiev

    tells BBC World this is a key moment for people in Ukraine. He says many people are scared of an escalation beyond what the country is seeing tonight. Although this does not necessarily mean a civil war - as previously suggested by some - Ukraine remains dangerously divided.

    Olga, in Kiev,

    emails: At the moment the police at the Independence Square in Kiev are announcing the start of what they call 'anti-terrorist operation'. Against more than 20,000 anti-government protesters - they are students, retired, men and women, who are just fighting for their right to live in a country, free of corruption and dictatorship. People keep coming to the main square despite the closed tube, they are scared, but they feel they have nothing to loose.


    The UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has appealed for restraint and a "genuine dialogue" in Ukraine, saying he is "extremely concerned" by reports of a resumption of violence, his spokesman Martin Nesirky said. Mr Ban "reiterates his appeal to all concerned to act with restraint in order to avoid any further violence," Nesirky said.


    Some 25,000 protestors remained on Independence Square after the expiry of the 18:00 local time (16:00 GMT) ultimatum to leave, according to news agency AFP.


    The White House has released a statement saying the US is "appalled" by the violence in Kiev, and that force will not resolve the crisis, according to Reuters news agency.


    Television images showed large fires burning in the main protest camp.

    Large flames and tents seen in the main protest camp in Kiev
    The Telegraph's Roland Oliphant

    tweets: FSB border guard: "going to Kiev?" Yes. "With what purpose?" Journalism. weary, 'you idiot' shake of head, but stamps passport.


    EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton has said she is "deeply worried about the grave new escalation", and urged politicians to "address the root causes".


    German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier has warned that the clashes could lead to EU sanctions against individuals responsible for the violence. "Whoever is responsible for the decisions which have led to the bloodshed in Kiev and other parts of Ukraine, should expect Europe to reconsider its position on imposing sanctions on individuals," he said in a statement.


    Ukrainian television presenter Artem Ovdiyenko has posted on Facebook saying that Ukraine's private news channel 5 Kanal TV is now only available on the internet.

    "5 Kanal is now available only online, live broadcasting has been completely shut down across the country", he said.


    "Unidentified persons" have attacked the Canadian embassy in Kiev, according to Russian news agency Itar-Tass, quoting a Ukrainian interior ministry official.


    Opposition leader and former world boxing champion Vitali Klitschko called on women and children to quit the protest camp as riot police began their assault.


    Taking aim: a police officer in Kiev

    A police officer aims his rifle at protesters
    Ksenia, in Kiev

    emails: All roads leading to Kiev are blocked by police to prevent more Ukrainians from joining the protests. The metro is still closed. It is impossible to get to the city centre by car. 5th channel - the channel which broadcasts the protests - has been blocked.

    Gorshenin Institute

    tweets: national anthem sung by protesters while being attacked by police and other detachments impresses


    Police have been coming under a hail of rocks thrown by protesters.

    Riot police protect themselves from a hail of rocks thrown by protesters

    tweets: #Ukrainian govt restricts road traffic to #Kyiv starting midnight


    A large number of police have been involved in the operation to clear the protest camp in Kiev.

    A huge number of police, moving in on the protest camp in Kiev

    Opposition leaders are addressing the protesters, urging them to remain in the square.

    Dan Peleschuk

    tweets: Defiant #euromaidan protesters belting heart-wrenching patriotic, wartime songs as fighting and flames rage around them.


    The US embassy in Kiev is advising its citizens "to avoid all protests, demonstrations, and large gatherings and to remain inside in the evening," adding that "US citizens whose residences or hotels are located in the vicinity of the protests are cautioned to leave those areas or prepare to remain indoors, possibly for several days, should clashes occur." It is also warning of increased risk of travel to the country, as "the situation in Ukraine is unpredictable and could change quickly."


    Several thousand protesters have seized the state regional administration building in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv, reports news agency Interfax.


    Profiles of the key figures supporting the anti-government protests in Ukraine.


    Opposition leader Vitali Klitschko has urged the protesters to defend the camp. "We will not go anywhere from here,'' Mr Klitschko told the crowd, speaking from a stage as fires burned around him. "This is an island of freedom and we will defend it,'' he said.

    20:33: Kateryna_Kruk

    : protesters bring everything that burns to barricades to create smoke and fire shield

    20:32: Breaking News

    Ukrainian police say four police officers died in Tuesday's clashes, 39 sustained gunshot wounds and more than 100 others were injured - Reuters reports

    20:38: Breaking News

    Attacks on government offices, police and the security service, SBU, are reported in several cities in western Ukraine, including Lviv, Ternopil and Ivano-Frankivsk, according to the opposition-supporting Fifth TV channel, which has been switched off across Ukraine and is available only on satellite and online.


    Mykhailo Dobkin, governor or Kharkiv, Ukraine's second-largest city and like many parts of eastern Ukraine, firmly supportive of the president, has tweeted: "There can be no compromise with extremists! They are militants. They must be dealt with firmly and according to the law. They kill, so they should be no pity towards them."


    President Viktor Yanukovych is not seeking a violent dispersal of the protest camp in Kiev's Independence Square, his representative in parliament, Yuri Miroshnychenko, has said. The news and analysis website Ukrayinska Pravda also reports that Mr Miroshnychenko confirmed that Viktor Yanukovych met the deputy head of the opposition party Fatherland, Oleksandr Turchynov, as the president is "against confrontation and conflict."

    21:04: Breaking News

    At least 13 people are now believed to have been killed in the violence today. Police say six policemen have been shot dead.


    About 150 people have been injured during the day's clashes, according to reports.

    An ambulance arrives to help injured people in central Kiev

    Ukraine is divided between its largely Russian-speaking east and south, which, with exceptions, is more supportive of the president; and its western and central regions, where resentment of former Soviet master Russia, runs more deeply. Read more about the contrasting faces of Ukraine.

    Mike Pheonix, in Kiev,

    emails: I'm an American living here 14 years. The situation is getting worse by the minute. BBC TV was cut off last week. Tonight channel 5 - The opposition network owned by Poreschenko had their TV and internet sites cut off. We fear a blood bath.


    Thousands of anti-government protesters are still gathering in the centre of the capital.

    Protesters in central Kiev

    Ukrainian opposition leader Vitali Klitschko has arrived at President Viktor Yanukovich's office for talks, Reuters quoted Mr Klitschko's spokeswoman as saying.


    Protesters have hurled petrol bombs at two armoured personnel carriers moving towards Independence Square, Reuters reports.


    President Yanukovych plans to make an address to the nation, according to pro-government MP Hanna Herman. She said there have been some meetings with the opposition but didn't give any details.

    Carl Bildt Swedish Foreign Minister

    tweets: Only person who can now stop catastrophe in Ukraine is President Yanukovich. His vacillation and violence responsible for situation.

    Nataliya Gumenyuk

    tweets: stones, molotov cocktails are used by police as well. city is shut down, but people are ready to come. president silent. waiting for more


    The Canadian embassy in Kiev has tweeted that its personnel are safe and accounted for after earlier reports that "unidentified persons" had attacked the building.

    21:41: Carl Bildt Sweden's Foreign Minister

    tweets: EU will not hesitate on measures against interests of persons associated with repression and violence in Ukraine.

    Christopher Miller

    tweets: Much of city lights out in #Kyiv. Most of Maidan closed off by barricades. Lurking in only open side streets are titushki. Very dangerous.


    Fireworks are pictured exploding over anti-government protesters in Independence Square.

    Fireworks explode near anti-government protesters during clashes with riot police at the Independence Square in Kiev, on 18 February 2014

    Good evening, of you are just joining us here is a round-up of events so far...

    Ukrainian police using stun grenades and water cannon have been trying to clear thousands of anti-government protesters from their camp in central Kiev. Demonstrators have been fighting back, throwing stones and petrol bombs and setting fires to piles of tyres. Opposition leaders have urged protesters to remain in the square, while a spokeswoman for one senior opposition figure, Vitali Klitschko, says he's meeting President Viktor Yanukovych for talks.

    At least 13 people - including six policemen - have been killed today. The pro-opposition Ukrainian news channel, 5 Kanal TV, has gone off air nationwide. Foreign governments have appealed for restraint.

    5 Channel's Myroslava Petsa

    tweets: Street light outage in central #Kyiv. Police shoot at #Euromaidan protesters with UV paint, making them easy targets in darkness


    Oksana Zinovieva, spokeswoman for Vitali Klitschko, says Mr Klitschko and Mr Yatsenyuk are still waiting to meet the president after almost an hour.


    Riot police have tried to charge into Independence Square but protesters resisted, according to reports.

    22:21: max seddon

    tweets: Multiple reports of explosions, gunshots at Maidan, renewed police attack on Kiev protesters


    Ukraine's Hromadske TV has aired live pictures of protesters escorting a captured riot policeman to Maidan's main stage.


    The leadership of the parliament of the autonomous Ukrainian republic of Crimea, believes that civil war is starting and demands that President Yanukovych use "emergency measures", according to Ukraine's Unian news agency.

    David Stern BBC News, Kiev

    says the divide between the two sides is wide and growing ever wider as these clashes continue. He says the fighting is intensifying.


    Anti-government protesters have been tearing up paving stones to throw at police in Independence Square.

    Anti-government protesters tear up paving stones to throw at police in Kiev on 18 February 2014.
    Myroslava Petsa

    tweets: Protesters capture a Berkut policeman. Man on #Euromaidan stage asks protesters to treat the captured with respect and dignity


    Former Ukrainian Foreign Minister Volodymyr Ohryzko has made an impassioned appeal for the US and EU to support the opposition, declaring that "'the policy of non-interference' of the EU and the US feels like an obvious betrayal", and warning that if they do not, they face "a real collapse of the European dream and a new terrifying East Asian Empire that will eventually swallow you". Calling for sanctions against those responsible, he demands to know, "What is now the price of the 'European dream'? Or should one ask Kremlin?"

    Kyiv Post's Christopher Miller

    tweets: Confirmed: Riot police on 6th floor of Trade Unions bldg. Got inside through 2nd floor window.


    The Institute of Mass Media in Ukraine, an organisation positioning itself as independent, says 21 journalists have been injured in clashes in Kiev today. Most have been beaten up by riot police, or received injuries from rubber bullets and stun grenades, the group says.


    Ukraine's leading opposition-supporting TV news channel, 5 Kanal, has resumed broadcasting in Kiev after going off-air earlier on Tuesday evening, BBC Monitoring reports.

    Vitaly Portnikov Ukrainian journalist

    People are just being shot dead on Kiev streets. It's an (ordinary) occupation, like in 1941.


    EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fuele tells Reuters news agency he is "shaken" by the latest outburst of violence in Ukraine and that the country's acting prime minister told him by phone he would do everything to silence the weapons.


    Olexander Turchinov, of Ukraine's opposition Fatherland Party, has been injured in Independence Square. He has tweeted to say that he is ok but pieces of shrapnel have cut his face. He says the battle is so close that the shrapnel now can hit the stage in the centre of the square.

    Maxim Tucker

    tweets: The #Kiev trade union building, #euromaidan /opposition HQ for months, is now burning. Is #Ukraine 's government fighting fire with fire?


    The Ukrainian Health Ministry says that 221 people have required medical assistance and 114 have been taken to hospital in Kiev on Tuesday, says BBC Monitoring.

    Carl Bildt, Swedish Foreign Minister

    tweets: Reports now that nine persons have been killed in Kiev today. Everyone has responsibility to take country back from brink of catastrophe.

    Carl Bildt Swedish Foreign Minister

    tweets: Only person who can now stop catastrophe in Ukraine is President Yanukovich. His vacillation and violence responsible for situation.


    Ukraine's Hromadske TV is showing dramatic pictures of people being rescued from the burning trade union building in Kiev's Independence Square.


    Ukraine's interior ministry says on their website that seven police officers have been killed.


    The US Vice-President Joe Biden expresses "grave concern regarding the crisis on the streets of Kiev," and calls on President Yanukovych to withdraw government forces from Independence Square.


    In a statement, Ukrainian tycoon Victor Pinchuk says: "A peaceful solution must be found, it is imperative to refrain from the use of force and find a compromise." He adds: "It is time for all sides to take courageous steps towards compromise."


    One of Ukraine's main protest leaders, Oleksandr Turchynov, says he was hit in the face by shrapnel while standing on the Maidan stage.

    Kateryna Kruk,

    tweets: boy has saved girl from house of trade unions, climbed a wall to get to her, ppl are shouting hero to him


    As flames engulf the trades union building, one of the last remaining opposition strongholds in the square, protest leaders on stage call on demonstrators to find groundsheets to help catch anyone who might have to jump from the building.

    Maxim Eristavi,

    tweets: Suddenly I'm cut off from Independence Sq.A line of what seems like riot-policemen on the way to the sq, shoot ppl who are trying 2 approach


    The head of the medical team in the protesters' main camp says 20 demonstrators have died during the day, according to Ukrainian Truth news website.

    Maidan HotSpot,

    tweets: More than 30 000 people are at the #Maidan right now. They are surrounded by more than 10 000 riot police and internal troops #Ukraine

    Christopher Miller,

    tweets: Some protesters forced to jump from several floors up in Trade Unions bldg to safety. Protesters caught them using tents. #euromaidan

    BBC's Daniel Sandford,

    tweets: Fact 1. The Trades Union building is now definitely on fire on the Kreshatik side

    Moscow Correspondent for the Telegraph,

    tweets: Watching people trying to punch their way out of top floor windows of burning protest hq trade union house. Horrific


    Activists in Britain call for round-the-clock picketing of the London flat of Ukrainian oligarch and Yanukovych confidante Rinat Akhmetov.


    Vitaly Klitschko says opposition leaders have failed to reach agreement during talks with Mr Yanukovych. The president only called for protesters to leave the Maidan, Mr Klitschko is quoted as saying by Ukraine's Hromadske TV.


    A number of injured people during clashes are being treated in St Michael's Cathedral. Several dead bodies are also inside. The gold-domed cathedral famously rang its bells to call Kievites to defend the Maidan when the riot police tried to clear the camp last month.


    Fires continue to burn late into the night on the perimeter of the main protest camp in Kiev, the Maidan.

    An anti-government protester throws a tyre in a burning barricade in Kiev
    Ilya, in Kiev,

    emails: It is just very bad! My friends and I want to live in a good country but the government doesn't want this, they have forgotten about the people and that is why they were elected. It is very sad for our country.


    Activists say big crowds of supporters are heading from western Ukraine and will join the protesters at Kiev's Maidan within hours.


    Two traffic officers have been shot dead by unknown gunmen in Kiev, the interior ministry says. It says another was seriously injured.

    Maxim Eristavi, in Kiev,

    tweets: The neighborhood around Independence Sq is patrolled by pro-govt thugs, I hear gun-shots time to time. That's a safari on protesters


    Activists on the Maidan are regrouping, bringing more tyres to throw into burning barricades and also cobblestones to defend the camp, Ukraine's Hromadske TV reports.


    Dramatic pictures have emerged showing how some trapped activists climbed down from a burning building adjacent to the Maidan.

    Activists try do escape from a burning building in Kiev
    SOS Maidan website

    tweets: "Maidan needs food. Simple and nutritious."


    More protesters' tents are burning now on the Maidan, amid reports that the police are launching a new assault.

    Maxim Eristavi,

    tweets: It's past 4AM in the Kyiv, the Independence Sq is still burning, clashes are on for almost 20 hours now


    The reported renewed police assault (see 02:36 entry) began shortly after 04:00 local time (02:00 GMT).

    Protesters gather near fires at a tent encampment during clashes with riot police in Kiev
    Arseniy Yatseniuk, opposition Fartherland party,

    tweets: "Yanukovych has offered us actually to surrender. But people have the right to stand on the Maidan, and we will stand with the people."


    Traffic officers are searching vehicles moving towards central Kiev. Even taxis are being stopped, Ukrainian Truth news website reports.


    Ukraine's "We are Europeans" movement urges the country's Olympians at the Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, to stop competing to show solidarity with the protesters, Radio Liberty reports.


    In a statement, President Viktor Yanukovych blames opposition leaders for the latest violence in Kiev, urging them to "distance themselves from radical forces".

    Euromaidan PR,

    tweets: Near Instytutska Street militia and Berkut look very sleepy. Some of them are sleeping straight on the streets |PR News #Euromaidan #Kyiv

    Walter, in Canada,

    emails: "You know what, when you start killing police it is time to bring in the army. If it is OK for protesters to use force, well it's also OK for the state that has a democratically elected government to use force."

    Paul, from Lviv,

    emails: The government in our country keeps functioning mostly on an atmosphere of fear, special forces (paid thugs) and money from Putin.

    Steve, in Kiev,

    emails: I'm a British expat living in Kiev. Today, will be a key day in the future of Ukraine and Ukrainians. We wait to see which path events will take today. Make peace not war.


    Ukrainian journalist Vyacheslav Veremiy has died in hospital after being beaten and shot by unknown attackers in Kiev, his colleagues say.


    This is one of the first morning pictures of the Maidan after the fierce overnight clashes.

    Maidan and adjacent buildings. Photo: 19 February 2014
    Joe in Kiev,

    emails: Democratically elected government is a stretch when you consider that the president chooses the PM and cabinet - a change to the law that came in under Yanukovych. I support the Euro Maidan movement (Russia versus the EU). It is not a plain choice but one is significantly better for the people than the other, although I don't believe either side is above dirty tricks.


    Health ministry now says 25 killed in clashes.

    Ihor Oleksiv, in Lviv,

    emails: No more Yanukovich power in the city of Lviv. State administration, prosecutor's office, regional militia office are occupied by the protesters.


    Health ministry says that 241 people have been hospitalised, including 79 policemen and five journalists.


    A wall of smoke and flames rose into the dawn sky as the encampment of the protesters continued to burn, AFP reports, while lines of police and protesters - both clutching shields and wearing helmets and body armour - face off in an apocalyptic scene.

    Oksana Yurina by in Kiev

    by email: To Walter in Canada - the conflict between the people and authorities in Ukraine has escalated due to provocations of paid thugs and inadequate application of force by police and riot police after Yanukovych's party in Parliament refused to consider changes to the Constitution. Thus, it was the president of Ukraine who broke the armistice with the opposition and initiated this horrible violence.


    Asked by the BBC whether civil war could break out in Ukraine, Robert Brinkley, a former British ambassador to the country, said that "there are very great risks in this situation". He said that it was "very important that all sides - the government and the opposition - make every effort to get back into talks and stop the use of force".


    Protesters, many of them masked and in battle fatigues, are pouring into Independent Square from different directions and preparing to take on police for a second straight day, Reuters says.


    The unrest has spread to at least three cities in the western part of the country, Reuters reports, quoting police sources. Protesters are reported to have seized the regional administration headquarters in the cities of Ivano-Frankivsk and Lviv in addition to torching the main police station in the city of Ternopil.


    As priests intoned prayers from a stage on the part of the square still held by protesters, young men in hard-hats are constructing elbow and knee pads. Others were pouring inflammable liquid into bottles - apparently to be used as petrol bombs.

    Viacheslav I in southern Ukraine

    emails: Current protests in Ukraine are the result of a miserable life under a corrupted and criminal post-Soviet government. There is no division in Ukraine on this whatsoever. The only division is the means of achieving a better life. I live in Donetsk and you can take my word that people do not support the government, they only hope to live a peaceful life as they have lost all hope that anything will ever change.


    Kiev's Maidan is reasonably quiet this morning, the BBC's Daniel Sandford Tweets. "A complete mess, and black smoke towering over it. But not much fighting."

    Viktor in Kiev

    emails: We really need HELP here, it is unbelievable that people whose major duty is to protect people, beat them up instead. Police officers have rules, that they MUST follow, despite the hatred they feel towards people. Instead, they get awarded for beating and torturing people in many ways.

    Violence in Kiev

    "Any negotiations, early or scheduled elections as well as any political process will be out of the question in the country until the people armed by the money of Western countries leave the country and are disarmed," Crimean parliament speaker Volodymyr Konstantynov told Russian state news channel Rossiya 24 . The Republic of Crimea, a part of Ukraine, lies on a peninsula stretching out from the south of Ukraine between the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov.


    The Trades Union building is pretty much gutted by fire. So no opposition HQ any more, The BBC's Daniel Sandford Tweets

    Protestors have lit fires in Independence Square Chris Collison watched events unfold as demonstrators set fire to tyres and scraps of wood in desperate attempts to prevent police from advancing on their main encampment.
    08:42: Kal in Sevastopol

    emails: The police (and authorities) have shown remarkable bravery since being confronted by violent extremists in personal body armour wielding baseball bats and throwing petrol bombs since day one of this conflict three months ago. The authorities in Washington, London, Berlin, Paris would NOT have allowed people to build the barricades that they built in Kiev or threaten the rule of law and order in this violent/extremist manner.

    08:42: Michael in Kiev,

    emails: from an insider's point of view, I can tell you that there is no divide, just the government who are thugs, trying to stay in power by all means. They have no ideology behind them, no support, just slaves and mercenaries.


    Tuesday was Ukraine's worst day of violence in 70 years, the BBC's Daniel Sandford reports


    It has been reported that pole vault great and Ukraine Olympic head Sergei Bubka has called for a halt to violence in Ukraine.

    08:49: Simon Bailey in Preston, UK

    emails: The opposition is using the anger of youths at the economic hardship to push a political agenda. On the other hand the government of Ukraine is under the thumb of Russia and can't give the protesters what they really want, which is to join the EU. This crisis is not black and white but a nasty shade of grey.


    For the latest updates on #Ukraine violence, go to, or follow our correspondent, Daniel Sandford, @BBCDanielS


    Lone bagpiper plays on amid #Kiev clashes


    Read a profile about Ukraine's key protest figures here at


    The clashes have drawn sharp reaction from around the world, AP reports. US Vice President Joe Biden has expressed grave concern, calling on the government to "de-escalate the situation". But the Russian foreign ministry has blamed the "conniving politics of Western politicians and European bodies" for the violence. German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said his country and its 27 EU partner countries may implement unspecified sanctions against individuals "responsible for decisions that led to the bloodshed". UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon meanwhile has expressed his shock at the "unacceptable" violence and called for "the immediate renewal of genuine dialogue leading to rapid results".


    Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk says that he will be pressing European Union leaders to impose sanctions on Ukraine's government.

    Smoke in Independence Square

    The devastation in Independence Square after continuing protests was clear to see on Wednesday morning. This picture appeared on BBC correspondent Daniel Sandford's Twitter page @BBCDanielS


    Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt in a Tweet accuses President Yanukovych of having "blood on his hands".


    Sergey Bubka, the Ukrainian pole vault great, and head of his country's National Olympic Committee, said he was "shocked by what is happening" in Ukraine.

    He said: "... the violence is taking place during the Olympic Games - the world's most peaceful and democratic event....I am once again urging all parties to stop the violence!

    "There is no 'their' Ukraine, or 'your' Ukraine. It is OUR Ukraine."

    09:35: BBC Correspondent Steve Rosenberg

    tweets: Our car has just been stopped by a #Kiev policeman; he's polite but checks the car boot. Now we're on our way again.


    French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius says he will discuss action over the Ukraine crisis with Germany, warning that "individual sanctions" are "probable", Reuters reports.


    Russia is sticking to its policy of not intervening in Ukraine - President Putin's press secretary has been quoted by Reuters as saying.

    09:41: VK in Kiev

    emails: All metro stations remain closed for today. Buses are too crowded to board. Traffic checkpoints in and out of Kiev. Sounds like martial law, but without the proclamation.


    Ukraine Defence Minister Pavel Lebedev has confirmed he has ordered the despatch of 500 paratroops to Kiev from Dnipropetrovsk (in the east), to guard ammunition dumps, it has been reported.


    "The most calm and peaceful part of the Ukrainian population (students, doctors, etc) have turned to protest, because they can't stand it anymore - small salaries and no protection," unemployed computer programmer Viktor Barreto from Kiev told the BBC. "They also have to pay for a lot of things they don't get: security, roads and medical attention. And all this, when the president and his politicians live in villas that EU political representatives would be jealous of. This is sad! Very sad!"


    France and Germany "are not going to remain indifferent" to the Ukraine crisis, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said ahead of talks with Germany on the issue later on Wednesday. "(There will be) deliberations with the German delegation and probably sanctions," he was quoted by Reuters as saying. "There can be a range of sanctions, notably individual ones against those behind the violence," Mr Fabius said.

    09:58: Christopher Jeffery in Derby

    emails: Returned from Kiev yesterday, 18 February after walking through blockades during the last week, and I have to ask the question: what would happen here if tents were erected in Whitehall and tyres were set burning in Parliament Square as a form of protest? We need to understand that Ukraine is a democracy of some twenty years!

    10:02: BREAKING:

    European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso calls on all sides to immediately put an end to violence in Ukraine and engage in meaningful dialogue, Reuters report.


    Russia's foreign ministry quoted by Reuters says it will use all its influence to bring peace and calm to Ukraine.

    10:07: European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso

    has said: "We have ... made it clear that the EU will respond to any deterioration on the ground. We therefore 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."


    The Institute of Mass Media in Ukraine has provided the latest on journalists who have been killed or injured.

    10:12: Pavlov Sodomora

    emails to say: We are struggling for democracy in Ukraine but it's highly likely that it is going to perish. The big difference between the Orange Revolution (2004) and events in 2013-14 is that the army is NOT with the people any more.


    "Ukraine has paid dearly for the delaying tactics of president Yanukovych," German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier was quoted by AFP as saying. He added: "His refusal to hold serious talks about a peaceful conflict resolution and constitutional reform is a big mistake."


    President Yanukovych declares 20 February a day of mourning for victims of "mass unrest" - Interfax-Ukraine report seen by BBC Monitoring.


    "Concerned" Pope Francis calls for end to Ukraine violence, according to AFP news agency.


    President Hollande of France is the latest European leader to urge the EU to consider sanctions against Ukraine's leaders, AFP reports


    The EU has called for an extraordinary meeting of bloc's 28 foreign ministers to discuss the violence in Ukraine on Thursday, AP reports.

    Interior Ministry officers walk in formation as smoke rises above Independence Square in Kiev

    Interior Ministry officers walk in formation as smoke rises above Independence Square in Kiev today.


    Ukrainian Interior Ministry Vitaliy Zakharchenko says in a statement that police did not use firearms during Tuesday night's attack on the main protest camp, only "special devices for shooting plastic bullets" - BBC Monitoring.

    Riot police officers rest around a fire near Independence Square, Kiev. Riot police officers rest around a fire near Independence Square, Kiev, today.

    Here is more detail from the statement by European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso. He said: "It was with shock and utter dismay that we have been watching developments over the last 24 hours in Ukraine.

    "There are no circumstances that can legitimise or justify such scenes. We extend our deepest condolences to the victims and their families.

    "We condemn in the strongest terms the use of violence as a way to solve a political and institutional crisis. It is the political leadership of the country that has a responsibility to ensure the necessary protection of fundamental rights and freedoms."


    While making his call for sanctions against Ukraine, Polish PM Donald Tusk called the events in Kiev unprecedented and said the Ukrainian authorities were responsible for them, the BBC's Adam Easton in Warsaw reports.

    Mr Tusk said the authorities had lost their democratic mandate. He said that while sanctions were unlikely to lead to a peaceful resolution to the crisis, they were "a gesture of solidarity with the Ukrainian people and a clear signal to the Ukrainian authorities that their actions are unacceptable".


    President Putin's spokesman warns that second instalment of Ukraine's financial bailout from Russia "cannot come", Reuters reports

    Independence Square, Kiev

    Smoke still rising from Independence Square in Kiev.

    10:37: Dan Damon, presenter of BBC World Service programme World Update

    tweets: Hospital doctor in #Kiev tells me "right now the hospitals are full..We are moving them to Lviv where they can feel safe."


    President Putin discussed the Ukraine crisis with his counterpart Viktor Yanukovych on Wednesday night, spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Russian news agencies. But Mr Peskov stressed that the president "does not advise" President Yanukovych on what to do, and had no intention of doing so in the future.

    10:38: Kateryna Kruk in Kiev

    tweets: "God is with us, yes, God and truth are with us, that's why we'll survive and will win!"

    People lay down flowers and light candles in front of the Ukrainian embassy in Vilnius, Lithuania

    People lay down flowers and light candles today in front of the Ukrainian embassy in Vilnius, Lithuania, to commemorate the victims of the violence in Kiev.


    President Hollande of France says he agrees with Poland PM Donald Tusk on the need for rapid, targeted EU sanctions on Ukraine, says Reuters.


    Acting Ukraine Defence Minister Pavlo Lebedyev tells the Leviy Bereg website that airborne troops have been sent from Dnipropetrovsk to Kiev "to reinforce the guarding of the bases where weapons are kept, as well as the arms depots".


    Protesters in western Ukraine have seized the Trans-Carpathian region regional administration, according to the UNIAN news agency


    Two Ukrainian female skiers have failed to appear for their semi-final at the Sochi Olympics today, the Ukrainian news agency UNIAN reports. Marina Lisogor and Katerina Serdyuk were due to compete in the women's cross-country skiing Team Sprint Classic semi-finals.

    A water canon from Kiev's Independence Square.

    BBC correspondent Daniel Sandford tweets this picture of a water canon from Kiev's Independence Square.


    More on uncertainty surrounding the Russian bailout of Ukraine: President Vladimir Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, deflected questions on Wednesday about when Russia would release the second instalment of a $15bn package, Reuters reports.


    Chancellor Angela Merkel is the latest world leader to express disquiet over the violence. "The escalation of the situation in Ukraine deeply saddens her," government spokeswoman Christiane Wirtz said on Wednesday. When asked if now was the time to impose sanctions, he said that the situation has to be re-evaluated from today. "There will be further steps in that regard, he said, but we are not yet there."


    More reaction from President Putin to the recent violence: His spokesman Dmitriy Peskov was quoted by Intrfax as saying that "extremists" were responsible.

    He was also quoted as saying in another report that their actions amounted to an attempted coup. "According to President Putin, it is the exclusive prerogative of the Ukraine's legitimate leadership (to decide) how and in what way to achieve the settlement of this situation," Mr Peskov said.


    The French and Polish governments are looking for quick and targeted sanctions against those "responsible" for acts of violence in Ukraine, the BBC's Europe Editor Gavin Hewitt has tweeted.

    11:16: BBC Correspondent, Duncan Crawford,

    reporting live from Kiev he said the plumes of black smoke rising in Independence Square had been caused by tyres that had been set alight. He described the area as a "battle-zone" and said that there were "clashes still taking place sporadically" and that there was "no sign these clashes will die down".


    Ukraine, a sprawling nation of 46 million people with an ailing economy and endemic corruption has become the object of a geopolitical tug-of-war between Moscow and the West, Reuters comments. "That was played out in hand-to-hand fighting through the night, lit by blazing barricades on Kiev's Independence Square."


    The EU must put sanctions in place on Ukraine by Thursday, President Hollande of France is quoted by AFP as saying.

    Kurt, Kiev

    emails: As an American in Kiev, ordinary Ukrainians are angry as opposition seem to push the current government too far initiating violence for unmet demands causing disruption in daily life in Kiev (whole metro system closed).

    An Orthodox priest stands at the barricades during clashes with riot police in Kiev"s Independence Square

    An Orthodox priest stands at the barricades during clashes with riot police in Kiev's Independence Square today.


    President Yanukovych urged opposition leaders to "distance themselves from the radicals", saying it was "not too late to stop the conflict".

    11:24: Thomas in Luxembourg

    emails: The President refuses to issue elections. If he is so sure he acts on behalf of the people why not run elections and demonstrate his support from the people? Because it's not true, that's why. This is no democracy! Where is the EU and the personal sanctions?

    Independence Square, Kiev

    Another scene of the devastation at Independence Square, Kiev.


    The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) has called on the Ukrainian authorities to ensure journalists' safety following Tuesday night's violence in Kiev in which Vesti daily journalist Vyacheslav Veremyi was killed.

    "Veremyi's death is the worst act of violence suffered by media members since the start of the protests in December. Journalists' safety must be ensured, especially during disturbances," OSCE media freedom representative Dunja Mijatovic said.


    Polish border guard service says Ukrainian opposition protesters are blocking access at the border crossing between the village of Korczowa in Poland and Ukraine, Reuters has reported.


    The EU had been divided in the last weeks over calls for sanctions, such as asset freezes or visa bans, with some countries fearing the political risks, Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders has said.

    "There is no unanimity on sanctions, with several of Ukraine's neighbours fearful that this would risk pushing the regime to even tougher action against the opposition," he was quoted by AFP as saying.


    EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton has summoned the bloc's foreign ministers for emergency talks on Ukraine on Thursday and "all possible options will be explored", she said.

    These include restrictive measures against "those responsible for repression and human rights violations", she said in a statement.


    One of the opposition leaders, Vitali Klitschko, has told a German newspaper that President Viktor Yanukovych wants more talks, today, and that he's prepared to attend, provided the police lay down their weapons, it has been reported.


    Anti-government protesters have broken into the police headquarters in the main city in western Ukraine, Lvov, the Ukrainian news agency UNIAN reports. Activists told the agency that they had released all prisoners held in the building. The police are apparently not intervening and are removing technical equipment. In Ivano-Frankivsk, south of Lvov, protesters have seized the regional police directorate, the headquarters of the security service and the prosecutor's office, according to UNIAN.


    Any EU sanctions against Ukraine would at first include banning leading officials from travelling to the 28-nation bloc, and freezing their assets there, AP comments.


    UN human rights chief Navi Pillay has called for restraint in Ukraine, in addition to an investigation into possible use of excessive force.

    Ukranians protest in front of the European Parliament building in Brussels.

    Ukrainians protest in front of the European Parliament building in Brussels today following deadly clashes in Ukraine's capital.

    12:01: BBC's diplomatic correspondent Jonathan Marcus

    says in response to the escalating violence in Ukraine the West has struggled to come up with a coherent policy; one that might apply real leverage to help resolve the situation.

    He said: "There have been divisions between the EU and Washington over how best to proceed; Washington's frustration with its European allies were revealed in a recording of a telephone conversation among senior US officials almost certainly leaked by the Russians.

    "The fundamental difficulty is that any western involvement plays to Moscow's narrative of sinister intrusion into Ukraine's affairs.

    "And when it comes to playing hard-ball the EU cannot muster the same economic influence or network of contacts on the ground."


    Ukraine's sovereign dollar bonds hit record lows across the curve on Wednesday as concerns intensified over the country's ability to repay its debt, Reuters reports.

    Anna in Wroclaw, Poland

    emails: Where's democracy! Where are world's officials to call for justice! It is not a democratic government if it needs to turn violent against its own people! It's not democracy if people need to live in poverty, fight and die on the streets to be heard. Yanukovych needs to get a clear message that he cannot send Ukrainians to kill each other. And the rest of the world cannot remain silent!

    Independence Square, Kiev

    Riot police attempt to extinguish fires in Kiev today.


    Polish Foreign Minister Radosłav Sikorski is to visit Kiev at the request of the EU's foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton, the BBC's Adam Easton reports from Warsaw. "I will start a mission to Kiev soon," Mr Sikorski tweeted.

    Protesters in Independence Square, Kiev.

    Some anti-government protesters seize the opportunity, during lulls between clashes with police, to sleep wrapped in blankets in Independence Square, Kiev.

    12:19: Statement from Ukraine Olympic athletes

    posted on their national Olympic committee website: "We are shocked by the events that occurred yesterday in Kiev.

    "We are thinking about our families and loved ones back home in Ukraine, and we are doing our best to honour them on the fields of play here in Sochi. "We also deeply mourn and express our sincere condolences on the death of our fellow Ukrainians."


    "Violence against peaceful protestors is unacceptable and the Ukrainian government should be held accountable," British Foreign Secretary William Hague Tweets. "I will attend emergency meeting of EU Foreign Ministers on Ukraine (on Thursday)."


    Shaun Walker Moscow Correspondent for The Guardian ‏@shaunwalker7 tweets: "Reports IOC [International Olympic Committee] wont allow Ukrainian athletes to wear black armbands at Sochi for Kiev dead. Presumably would dilute the McDonalds message too much."

    12:27: The Ukrainian defence ministry

    website says that reports of a "forced dispersal" of the protestors in Kiev "do not correspond to reality." But it says that "the deterioration of the socio-political situation in the country" and the necessity to stop the theft of weapons has meant that "the armed forces are now undertaking steps which enhance the guarding of military arsenals, bases and warehouses".

    A man who was injured during clashes between anti-government protesters and Interior Ministry members in Kiev

    A man who was injured during clashes between anti-government protesters and Interior Ministry members and riot police receives medical treatment inside Mikhailovsky Zlatoverkhy Cathedral in Kiev earlier today.


    About 5,000 people remain in Kiev's Independence Square at noon on 19 February, the Interfax-Ukraine news agency has reported.


    Ukraine's state security service (SBU) has begun an investigation into illegal attempts by "individual politicians" to seize power, its website said. "Ukraine's security service has begun a pre-trial investigation into illegal actions being carried out by individual politicians aimed at seizing state power," a statement by the SBU said.


    The Ukrainian Interior Ministry has said that 59 protesters had been detained as of 0800 GMT on 19 February "in connection with clashes between riot police and anti-government protesters over the previous 24 hours", the Interfax-Ukraine news agency quoted the ministry's press service as saying.


    "What strikes me most is the unrequited love affair for the European Union that large parts of the Ukraine have" - listen to World Service Europe editor Paul Henley explain on BBC's Outside Source programme here.


    UPDATE: A total of 263 protesters and 342 police officers are currently in hospital, most of them with gunshot wounds, Ukraine's acting Health Minister Rayusa Bohatyryova says, according to Interfax-Ukraine news agency - BBC Monitoring

    Philip Larmett in Kiev

    emails: Kiev is a city under siege. The main roads into the city are all blocked at strategic points. Traffic in the city is being diverted around the centre. The metro has not been operating since 5pm yesterday, when the police assault on the protestors began. Lviv, Ternopil and other regional capitals have joined the uprising. Many government buildings and police stations have been occupied. The whole of western Ukraine is no longer under control.

    12:54: BBC Europe correspondent Matthew Price

    says that Brussels will have to tread carefully when it comes to imposing sanctions against Ukraine. While it will want to cut off all communication with President Yanukovic and his government, imposing sanctions on him and his officials would send a clear message that the EU holds his administration alone responsible for the violence - while in Ukraine many blame radical elements among the opposition.

    Activists hand out food to anti-government protesters on Independence Square in Kiev.

    Activists hand out food to anti-government protesters on Independence Square in Kiev. Picture taken today.

    Kiev, Independence Square

    BBC correspondent Daniel Sandford takes this photo of police in Kiev using a burnt out shack as a resting place in Kiev.


    "Ukraine is paying attention to the world community's reaction to the recent dramatic events in Kiev," The foreign ministry says on its website. "We are calling on all the foreign partners of our state to be as impartial as possible in their assessment of the developments and to determine their stance exclusively on the basis of verified facts."

    13:02: BREAKING:

    Three people wounded as security forces open fire at protesters outside the Security Service building in Khmelnytskyy, western Ukraine, Den newspaper website reports. One of them, a middle-aged woman, reportedly died in hospital, says local website - BBC Monitoring.


    "A former British ambassador to Kiev, Robert Brinkley, told the BBC World Service he was "horrified" by the violence. "Now is the time for the European Union to get serious about sanctions," he added. But Mr Brinkley said suggestions the crisis could lead to the country splitting were exaggerated.


    Any imposition of sanctions on Ukraine would be a policy U-turn for the EU, AFP comments, as alarm bells ring across the international community. Until Tuesday's bloody upsurge in violence, the EU resisted US calls for reprisals, preferring to keep channels of communication open with embattled President Viktor Yanukovych. But unanimity is required to agree sanctions, AFP says, and not all member states are backing punitive measures against the Ukraine regime.

    13:08: Rud Logan in Kharkiv

    emails: It's business as normal in the east of the country - but there is such a large student population here it would be easy for it to go the same way, as the students here will sympathise with student demonstrators in the west.

    13:11: Alex in Kiev

    emails: Kyiv is divided into two regions by the Dnieper river. The right one is business, Maidan etc, and the left bank is the "dormitory" area. Kievan metro is for some the only way to pass from one to another. It is the second day the metro operation is suspended leaving zero chance for the majority of individuals to cross the river and transit over the city. Travelling by car is not an option here any more. Panic and fear has expanded from the centre of the capital now


    After several hours of relative calm, confrontation flared up again in Kiev on Wednesday afternoon, AP reports, with hundreds of police amassing on the edges of Independence Square throwing stun grenades and using water cannons in a bid to disperse protesters.

    13:38: Max Seddon

    tweets: Ukrainian opposition HQ says a fresh police attack on Maidan is planned for 6 p.m.


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