BRUSSELS — The deadly clashes in Ukraine’s capital have drawn sharp reactions from Washington, generated talk of possible European Union sanctions and led to a Kremlin statement blaming Europe and the West. A roundup of some of the international reactions:
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden called Ukraine’s president, Viktor Yanukovych, to express “grave concern” and to request the pullback of government forces and the exercise of maximum restraint. The White House said Biden made clear that while the United States condemns violence by all parties, the government bears “special responsibility to de-escalate the situation.” Biden also called on Ukraine’s government to address the protesters” ‘’legitimate grievances” and put forward proposals for political reform.
The Russian Foreign Ministry blamed the West for the escalation of violence and called on the Ukrainian opposition to work with the government to find a way out of the crisis. “What is happening is a direct result of the conniving politics of Western politicians and European bodies,” the ministry said in a statement.
Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt said in a Twitter post on Wednesday: “We must be clear: Ultimate responsibility for deaths and violence is with President Yanukovych. He has blood on his hands.
Sweden’s Foreign Minister Carl Bildt told Parliament on Wednesday that “President Yanukovich has blood on his hands. And I fear that the way he has now embarked on will lead to even more of suffering and violence. He was the one who now could have prevented the killing. (...) I fear that Ukraine is now moving toward dark days. The crisis for the country will be deepened and extended. I feel deeply concerned.”
Germany’s leaders had refused to back Washington’s calls for sanctions against Ukraine’s government to pressure it into accepting opposition demands for reforms. But after Tuesday’s explosion of violence, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said Germany and its 27 EU partner countries might resort to unspecified sanctions against individuals. “Whoever is responsible for decisions that lead to bloodshed in the center of Kiev or elsewhere in Ukraine will need to consider that Europe’s previous reluctance for personal sanctions must be rethought,” he said. On Wednesday, a senior lawmaker with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative party, Andreas Schockenhoff, said EU sanctions such as the freezing of bank accounts and entry bans are now necessary. Schockenhoff also said “Yanukovych clearly bears responsibility for the escalation of violence.”
Foreign Affairs Minister Laurent Fabius said that there will be “deliberation with our German friends and probably sanctions.” Added Fabius: “We are not going to remain indifferent.”
Prime Minister Donald Tusk told his country’s parliament Wednesday that the time has come to impose sanctions on Ukraine, news reports from Warsaw said.
“The Ukrainian government must take responsibility to immediately enter a serious dialogue with the opposition on the need for constitutional amendments, a new broad-based government and the preparation of democratic and fair presidential elections,” Foreign Minister Martin Lidegaard said.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed shock at the “unacceptable” violence and called for “the immediate renewal of genuine dialogue leading to rapid results,” U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky said. “Preventing further instability and bloodshed is a paramount priority.”