Thick, dark smoke rose above the center of the Ukrainian capital amid the boom of police stun grenades yesterday, as officers in riot gear sought to push demonstrators away from the city’s main square following deadly clashes between police and protesters that have left at least 25 people dead, hundreds injured and raised fears of a civil war.
After several hours of relative calm, confrontation flared up again yesterday afternoon, with hundreds of police amassing on the edges of Independence Square — known as the Maidan — throwing stun grenades and using water cannons in a bid to disperse protesters.
Thousands of activists armed with fire bombs and rocks held their ground, defending the square which has been a bastion and symbol for the demonstrators.
The violence on Tuesday was the worst in nearly three months of anti-government protests that have paralyzed Ukraine’s capital in a struggle over the identity of a nation, and the worst in the country’s post-Soviet history.
It prompted the EU to threaten sanctions against the Ukrainian officials responsible for the violence and triggered angry rebukes from Moscow, which accused the West of triggering the clashes by backing the opposition.
The Kremlin said it put the next disbursement of its bailout on hold amid uncertainty over Ukraine’s future and what it described as a “coup attempt.”
Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych yesterday blamed the protesters for the violence and said the opposition leaders “crossed a line when they called people to arms.”
The EU appears poised to impose sanctions as it called an extraordinary meeting of the bloc’s foreign ministers today.
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso yesterday called for “targeted measures against those responsible for violence and use of excessive force can be agreed ... as a matter of urgency.”
“It is the political leadership of the country that has a responsibility to ensure the necessary protection of fundamental rights and freedoms,” Barroso said. “It was with shock and utter dismay that we have been watching developments over the last 24 hours in Ukraine.”
The center of Kiev was cordoned off by police yesterday morning, the subway was shut down and most shops on Kiev’s main street were closed, but hundreds of Ukrainians still flocked to the opposition camp, some wearing balaclavas and armed with bats, others, in every-day clothes and with make-up on, carrying food to protesters.
Yanukovych was defiant yesterday in a statement: “I again call on the leaders of the opposition ... to draw a boundary between themselves and radical forces which are provoking bloodshed and clashes with the security services.”
SCHEDULE: The delegation is due to meet with President Tsai Ing-wen this morning and witness the signing of an MOU on bilateral health cooperation in the afternoon US Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Alex Azar yesterday arrived in Taipei aboard a US government plane at the head of a delegation that is the highest-level visit by a US official since Washington switched diplomatic recognition to China in 1979. Azar’s flight landed at Taipei International Airport (Songshan airport) at 4:48pm, nearly one hour earlier than scheduled, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said. The apron where it landed is reserved for military aircraft, the Songshan Air Force Base Command said. The members of Azar’s delegation included HHS Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Robert Kadlec, HHS Chief of Staff Brian
CHINESE FIGHTERS: Beijing marked the US Cabinet member’s visit by briefly sending two warplanes across the median line of the Taiwan Strait yesterday morning President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday met with US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar in the highest-level official meeting between the two nations since 1979. “It is a true honor to be here to convey a message of strong support and friendship from [US] President [Donald] Trump to Taiwan,” Azar said during the open portion of his courtesy call to the Presidential Office, which was streamed live online before Tsai and Azar held a closed-door meeting. “Taiwan’s response to COVID-19 has been among the most successful in the world, and that is a tribute to the open, transparent,
PARTNERSHIP AND LEARNING: A Princeton University health policy researcher said that the nation would be a ‘treasure trove’ of information for the US health chief US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar on Friday said he wants to learn about Taiwan’s “incredibly effective” response to COVID-19, even though the nation did things that the US has fumbled, such as having a unified strategy and citizens willing to wear masks. Azar leads a US delegation arriving today for a three-day visit to Taiwan. They are to meet with President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and health system leaders, and Azar is to give a speech to public health graduates. “The message of this trip is about Taiwan,” Azar said in an interview, deflecting a question about China.
Taiwanese-independence advocates yesterday accused former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) of breaking national security laws and called on the judiciary to investigate after his statement that “China will wage a battle, which will be quick and will be the last battle for Taiwan.” Ma showed his true colors “as a mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party” in his speech on Monday when he said the “first battle will be the last,” Taiwan Republic Office (台灣國辦公室) director Chilly Chen (陳峻涵) said. “Ma is threatening Taiwanese by claiming that Beijing will launch a quick invasion of Taiwan, but that the US military will have no