Fighting between Ukrainian government and opposition forces started once more in Kiev only one day after President Viktor Yanukovich announced a truce between the two sides. Reuters reports that, as of Thursday afternoon in the city, at least 51 people had been killed since Tuesday, including 12 police in all and 30 protesters just in Thursday’s clash.
It was only Wednesday when Yanukovich announced a truce and the intent to begin negotiations after he met with the Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, Volodymyr Rybak, and members of the Working Group on the Settlement of Political Crisis. The Verkhovna Rada is Ukraine’s parliament and the Working Group is a government-run organization created with the intention of dissolving political tensions.
Any established modicum of peace fell however, according to Reuters, when fighting again broke out in Independence Square, with government opponents staging off with police in riot gear only hours following the announcement. Opposition leader Vitaly Klitschko called for lawmakers to convene parliament to establish an immediate presidential election, noting that “Today [Thursday] is a crucial day. The authorities are resorting to bloody provocations in full view of the world.”
Fighting between the sides began in November when Yanukovich rejected a trade treaty with the European Union and instead accepted monetary support from Russia. The New York Times said, earlier this week, that Russia recently agreed to honor its promised purchase of $3 billion in Ukrainian bonds — money that will help Ukraine pay off foreign debt that is coming due in the next several months. To help the country avoid default, Russian President Vladimir Putin initially agreed in December to loan Yanukovich $15 billion in total. The recent purchase of bonds is but one part of that whole.
The rejection of the EU and adoption of help from Russia is causing some to fear a moral indebtedness of Ukraine to its financial backer. In addition, Reuters explains, continued fighting could lead to a civil war between a west, which is largely pro-European, and east, which primarily speaks Russian.
Yanukovich reportedly began talks with EU ministers from Germany, France, and Poland to discuss EU-backed sanctions against Ukraine and enticements for the country to end its crisis. Russia called possible sanctions a form of blackmail, insisting that Ukraine restore order to its country if it wants to continue receiving financial aid.
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