In a read-out of the phone call between the two leaders, the White House reported that:
Vice President Biden called Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych today to urge an immediate de-escalation in the standoff between protesters and security forces in downtown Kyiv. The Vice President urged President Yanukovych to take steps to end violence and to meaningfully address the legitimate concerns of peaceful protesters, stressing the importance of the ongoing dialogue with the opposition and the need for genuine compromise as the only solution to the crisis. The Vice President underscored that freedoms of assembly and expression are fundamental pillars of a democratic society and must be protected. While emphasizing that violence by any side is not acceptable, the Vice President underscored that only the government of Ukraine can ensure a peaceful end to the crisis and further bloodshed would have consequences for Ukraine’s relationship with the United States. Vice President Biden encouraged President Yanukovych to find a peaceful resolution to the crisis.
At least three protesters died Wednesday. Two protesters were shot to death, allegedly by police. A third person's body, reportedly bearing signs of torture, was found in a forest outside Kiev. That activist was believed to have been abducted days earlier.
The Ukrainian president reacted to the escalation by meeting directly with opposition leaders on Wednesday and Thursday, a meeting he had previously rejected. The president also called for an emergency parliamentary meeting to be held next week to discuss the political crisis. The opposition is seeking the removal of the current government.
More than 1,400 people were injured in clashes with security forces between Monday and Tuesday. Approximately 300 were injured Wednesday.
Protests began in November 2013 following Ukrainian President Yanukovych's announcement that Ukraine would not join the EU. Pro-EU rallies have continued since November, with protesters voicing opposition to Ukraine's economic ties to Russia.
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