Update as of 7:00 a.m.: Britain summoned Ukraine's ambassador to London on Thursday, Reuters reported, after violent clashes resumed for a second day in Kiev, killing at least 22 civilians. "We are calling in the ambassador and calling on him to stop the violence," a foreign ministry spokeswoman said.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said, according to BBC, that Ukrainian "extremists and hardliners are seeking to spark a civil war.” Lavrov had earlier equated the EU’s threat of sanctions to blackmail, Reuters reported, adding that it would only aggravate the confrontation, Reuters reported.
As protests raged on Thursday, the Ukrainian Interior Ministry and the Kiev city-state administration urged people not to travel to the center of the city for security reasons, Interfax-Ukraine, a local news agency reported. The agency also reported that seven dead protesters were lying side by side under white sheets on the marble floor in front of the reception desk of the Ukraine Hotel.
All bridges and gas stations are being closed down by military forces in Ukraine, according to Euromaidan PR, the public relations organization for the resistance. It also reported that President Viktor Yanukovych wanted to introduce an emergency state for the country in which televisions, phones and the Internet may be blocked. The agency estimated Thursday's death toll to be 35.
According to Associated Press, 22 people have been killed so far, taking the casualty total to 50 people over the past two days, including protesters and police troops.
Update as of 5:10 a.m.: The BBC reported, citing a Reuters report that quoted eyewitnesses, that at least 21 civilians were killed near Independence Square on Thursday in fresh clashes between protesters and government forces. Fighting moved from Independence Square to the Ukraine Hotel, where five bodies were reported lying in the reception area, BBC reported. An Al Jazeera report, on the other hand, reported that fighting had intensified at the hotel and 12 bodies were seen in the hotel lobby.
The BBC report added that trains carrying military servicemen were on their way to Kiev. And, in a statement released Thursday, President Viktor Yanukovych reportedly said: "They (the protesters) went on to the offensive. They are working in organised groups. They are using firearms, including sniper rifles. They are shooting to kill."
A joint opposition statement, reportedly posted on the website of Vitali Klitschko, read: "The resumption of clashes on the Maidan (Independence Square) at a time when a truce was called is a planned provocation by the authorities against peaceful protesters."
Ukrainian skier Bogdana Matsotska and her coach and father, Oleg Matsotskiy, pulled out of the Sochi Winter Olympic Games in protest against the Ukrainian authorities' use of deadly force, the BBC report said, citing Agence France-Press reports.
The U.S. has imposed a ban on visas aimed at 20 senior Ukrainian officials and a few other individuals, holding them responsible for human rights abuses during violent protests over the past two days, even as President Viktor Yanukovych called for negotiations to stop the bloodshed in the country.
A statement released by the U.S. Department of State said that amid calls for negotiations from several countries including the U.S., and the European Union, or EU, violence still continued on the streets of Ukrainian cities. In response, a senior State Department official announced that the U.S. will "ban visa issuance to some 20 senior members of the Ukrainian Government and other individuals who we considered responsible for, complicit in, or responsible for ordering or otherwise directing human rights abuses related to political repression in Ukraine.”
Meanwhile, President Barrack Obama reportedly welcomed the effort by Yanukovych to call a “truce” and defuse the clash.
"The sides announced a truce and the start of a negotiations process aimed at ending the bloodshed (and) stabilising the situation in the country for the benefit of civil peace," Yanukovych reportedly said in a statement after talks, Agence France-Presse reported. However, Yanukovych was seen to be sending mixed signals after he sacked the country's army chief who was backed by the opposition for refusing to attack protesters.
According to the AFP report, the Ukrainian government is facing diplomatic isolation after clashes between local police and protesters left 26 people dead in the last 48 hours.
The state department official, in a call with the media Wednesday, said that the U.S. would continue to collaborate with the EU in the coming days to try and end the violence in Ukraine. Meanwhile, foreign ministers of Germany, Poland and France tried to hold urgent talks with President Yanukovych, before the EU could make a decision about imposing sanctions.
The U.S. official also expressed concerns over Russia's stance after the country announced that it would send Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozing to Kiev on Thursday to “give a corresponding impulse to our (Russia-Ukraine) relations.”
Earlier, Russia had blamed the violence on “extremists (whose) actions can be seen and are seen in Moscow exclusively as an attempted coup d'etat,” prompting a telephone conversation between German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss a joint solution to the crisis, AFP reported.