Ukraine on the verge of civil war – Lithuanian president
Ukraine is on the verge of a civil war, according to a media statement made by Lithuanian president, Dalia Grybauskaite, on Feb. 19.
“Clashes provoked by the Ukrainian authorities and some of the opposition are not justified anymore because Ukraine appears to be on the verge of a civil war and sanctions can follow not only from the European Union, but also on an international scale,” Grybauskaite said, according to Ukrainian daily Gazeta.ua.
International media has referred to the night of Feb. 18 in Kiev as the “the bloodiest night in the Eastern Europe since the Soviet Union collapse.” Clashes between anti-government protesters and police, which took place on Feb.18, led to the deaths of 26 people. Some 350 individuals asked for medical assistance as the conflict, centered around the Maidan Square in Kiev, escalated.
While the violence continued, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and opposition leaders met to discuss a possible solutions. Negotiations failed and Yanukovych reportedly accused the opposition leaders of trying to take over power.
“[…] The opposition not only refused to wait for the parliament session opening, where new laws on changing the situation were to be discussed, but to the contrary, blocked parliament, eliminating the opportunity to make these changes,” Yanukovych told the media.
Despite the failed negotiations, the president said that he felt confident that the conflict could still be settled peacefully and urged the opposition to come back to the table. He also expressed his condolences to the families of those killed during the clashes, announcing that Thursday Feb. 20 would be a national day of mourning.
Meanwhile, the Deputy Minister of Defense Pavel Lebedev confirmed that he had sent troops from Dnepropetrovsk to Kiev in order to enhance security.
Media sources also revealed that some 500 armed individuals are on their way to the Ukrainian capital. The security force is expected to start operations in a state of emergency only.
Kiev schools and the metro remain closed and the authorities have restricted the amount of traffic allowed into the city, according to media reports. Protestors have also taken over various government buildings in Lvov.
Russian authorities have referred to the events, which took place in Kiev, as a clear attempt at a coup by the opposition.
Photo by Mstyslav Chernov.