The Ukrainian government and opposition leaders reached a truce this evening after a day of deadly clashes between police and protestors in the country's capital. Both sides agreed to continue negotiations toward ending violence and stabilizing the country, though specifics largely did not extend beyond that. The Wall Street Journal reports that President Viktor Yanukovych also promised that police would not storm Independence Square, where protests have been focused for the past several months. Yesterday, police threatened to evict protestors from the square but ultimately entered into a standoff as opposition leaders and Yanukovych entered talks.
"The European Union strongly deplores the human rights situation."
The truce comes after a day of pressure from world leaders for violence to end. Both the United States and the European Union condemned the conflict and offered to work with Ukraine toward some type of resolution. "The United States condemns in the strongest terms the violence that’s taking place," Obama said. "And we have been deeply engaged with our European partners as well as the Ukrainian government and the opposition to try to ensure that that violence ends."
Both the EU and the US came down on the Ukrainian government for its handling of protestors and urged both sides to refrain from violence. "Leaders of the European Union are alarmed over the violent escalation of the political crisis in Ukraine," European Council President Herman Van Rompuy said. "The European Union strongly deplores the human rights situation, including violence, cases of missing persons, torture and intimidation and the deaths and injuries sustained on all sides." The EU and US are now considering targeted sanctions against Ukraine.
Despite the truce, the Journal reports that Yanukovych and Russian President Vladimir Putin — whose country Yanukovych is accused of moving Ukraine nearer to — spoke overnight and denounced the protests as an attempted coup by extremists. Protests began around three months ago after Yanukovych spurned a deal that would have strengthened ties between the EU and Ukraine. Protestors are hoping to see that relationship strengthened, while also shifting power away from Yanukovych and toward the country's legislature.
It's unclear what, if any, agreements will come out of the truce, but following the international reactions and dramatic standoff on Tuesday, both sides will be under more pressure than ever to reach a permanent resolution.