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Poland Leads Call for Ukraine Sanctions After Deadly Clashes

February 19, 2014

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk led calls for sanctions against Ukraine after clashes in Kiev between police and anti-government activists killed 25 people and left hundreds injured.

“The moral judgment here is black-and-white, there are no gray areas,” Tusk said today in a speech in parliament. “Responsibility for the violence in Kiev rests with the government, not the opposition.’

Sanctions from the European Union should target Russia-backed President Viktor Yanukovych and avoid hurting ordinary citizens, he told reporters in the legislature. Measures against the regime could be imposed in days, Tusk said.

In the bloodiest episode of the country’s three-month crisis, 10 security officers and a journalist were among the fatalities since yesterday as security forces moved to clear the makeshift protest camp in central Kiev. The standoff began when Yanukovych pulled out of a free-trade deal with the EU, opting instead for President Vladimir Putin’s offer of $15 billion of aid and cheaper gas.

‘‘Restrictive measures against those responsible for repression and human-rights violations” are among options to be explored as European Union national representatives hold an emergency meeting this morning in Brussels, EU foreign-policy chief Catherine Ashton said in an e-mailed statement.

Civil War

Tusk said Ukraine may be in the “first hours” of a civil war and urged the 28-member bloc to come up with a “realistic and thought-out” plan to deal with a protracted crisis on its southeastern border. The crisis in Ukraine could “determine the course of the whole region” and requires the EU to prepare for commitments lasting “not for hours, days or weeks, but for many years,” Tusk told lawmakers.

Poland is ready to accept “larger numbers” of Ukrainian refugees and injured, 11 of whom are already being treated in Polish hospitals, according to Tusk. A border crossing at a road in Korczowa-Krakowiec was blocked on the Ukrainian side and traffic is being directed elsewhere, Joanna Rokicka, a spokeswoman for Poland’s border guard service, said by phone from Warsaw.

Ukraine’s government yesterday banned protests and vowed to use “all means” necessary to restore order. U.S. and European leaders condemned the violence, and some officials joined Tusk in urging sanctions.

Yanukovych has “blood on his hands” and is ultimately responsible for Ukraine deaths, Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt said on his Twitter Inc. account.

To contact the reporter on this story: Piotr Skolimowski in Warsaw at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Balazs Penz at

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