Ukraine's President Calls Truce After Chaos In Kiev

Viktor Yanukovych says his government and the protest leaders have agreed to work through their differences peacefully.
Posted at 7:34 PM, Feb 19, 2014

After 24 hours of Kiev's most violent demonstrations yet, Ukraine's president has announced a truce.

"President Yanukovych says that he will begin negotiations to end further bloodshed." (Via BBC)

"A truce, at least for now. That announcement coming down in the last several minutes." (Via Bloomberg)

The announcement came at about 4 p.m. eastern standard in a brief post on the Ukrainian president's website. According to that post, a truce has been called and negotiations are underway to permanently cease bloodshed in the country.

Tuesday evening, 26 people, both protesters and police, died in Kiev, as the demonstrations that have split the city for months turned into something closer to armed conflict. (Via CNN)

Anti-government protests began last November, after Ukraine's government rejected a European trade deal and secured closer ties to Russia — something many Ukrainians aren't happy about. (Via The Guardian)

Details of the reported cease fire remain scarce, and there's still some question as to whether leaders on either side have complete control of forces on the ground in Kiev. Yanukovych fired the head of his army Wednesday. Observers aren't sure if that's a step away from more protestor crackdowns or toward them.

Although experts doubt it was the driving force in Wednesday's cease fire, threats of sanctions from American and European governments have been flooding in throughout the day. (Via The New York Times)

From French President Francois Hollande and Germany's Angela Merkel:

HOLLANDE: "There are unacceptable, intolerable and inadmissible acts of violence. Oppression, brutality."

MERKEL: "We appeal that there be political dialogue again. Only political dialogue can bring progress." (Via Al Jazeera)

And from American President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry:

OBAMA: "We expect the Ukrainian government to show restraint ... There will be consequences if people step over the line." (Via Fox News)

KERRY: "Yanukovych has the opportunity to make a choice: a choice between protecting the people that he serves ... versus violence and mayhem." (Via  CTV)

If the E.U. does follow through on its threat of sanctions, they would likely come in the form of bank account freezes and travel bans for the Ukrainian government's leaders. Russia, meanwhile, has publicly called on Yanukovych's government to crack down on protesters it refers to as extremists.