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Wednesday, February 19th, 2014 | Author:

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REUTERS/Vasily Fedosenko

An anti-government protester walks in Independence Square in central Kiev February 19, 2014. Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich accused pro-European opposition leaders on Wednesday of trying to seize power by force after at least 26 people died in the worst violence since the former Soviet republic gained independence.

The European Union has called an extraordinary meeting of the bloc’s 28 foreign ministers to discuss the ongoing crisis in Ukraine. Sanctions “against those responsible for violence and use of excessive force” are expected.

Anti-government protests in Ukraine reached their most violent point on Tuesday as at least 25 people were killed and hundreds injured amid violent clashes between police and citizens.

The protests have evolved into a full-blown crisis on the ground. What happens now is critical to the geopolitical struggle between Russia and the West.

The crisis began in late November when Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych snubbed a plan to sign an Association Agreement and trade pact with the EU after Russia persuaded the most populous former Soviet republic to stay in the Kremlin’s orbit.

Citizens subsequently flooded the streets and made Independence Square, aka Maidan, their base in central Kiev. The confrontations between the opposition and Yanukovych’s government have been escalating since.

On Wednesday, people poured back into Maidan to prepare for fresh clashes with police. (Here’s a Maidan live stream.)

From riot police using ancient military tactics to defend against attacks to streets engulfed in flames, the photos coming for the heart of the standoff are incredible.

The anti-government protesters remain defiant, with one man telling Reuters: “They can come in their thousands, but we will not give in. … We will stay until victory and will hold the Maidan until the end.”

The anti-government protesters remain defiant, with one man telling Reuters: "They can come in their thousands, but we will not give in. ... We will stay until victory and will hold the Maidan until the end."

REUTERS/Konstantin Chernichkin

An anti-government protester gestures towards riot police during clashes in Independence Square in Kiev February 18, 2014. Ukrainian riot police advanced on Tuesday onto a central Kiev square occupied by protesters, after at least 14 people died in the worst day of violence since demonstrations erupted against President Viktor Yanukovich 12 weeks ago.

Source

Kiev streets have been burning throughout the protests. On Tuesday, the Maidan was particularly alight.

Kiev streets have been burning throughout the protests. On Tuesday, the Maidan was particularly alight.

REUTERS/David Mdzinarishvili

Anti-government protesters take cover behind shields during clashes with riot police at the Independence Square in Kiev February 18, 2014. Ukrainian riot police started to move into Kiev’s Independence Square late on Tuesday, pushing back anti-government protesters whose tents were burning, local television showed.

Leading to some incredible fireworks amid the violence.

Leading to some incredible fireworks amid the violence.

REUTERS/Vasily Fedosenko

Fireworks explode near anti-government protester during clashes with riot police at the Independence Square in Kiev February 18, 2014. Ukrainian riot police advanced on Tuesday onto a central Kiev square occupied by protesters, after at least 14 people died in the worst day of violence since demonstrations erupted against President Viktor Yanukovich 12 weeks ago.

Protesters have used rocks, slingshots, catapults, and Molotov cocktails.

Protesters have used rocks, slingshots, catapults, and Molotov cocktails.

REUTERS/Konstantin Chernichkin

A protester throws stones as a car is on flames during clashes with police in Kiev February 18, 2014.

While crude, the mixture of flammable liquid inside the bottle of a Molotov cocktail has proven very effective.

While crude, the mixture of flammable liquid inside the bottle of a Molotov cocktail has proven very effective.

REUTERS/David Mdzinarishvili

Anti-government protesters throw missiles during clashes with riot police at the Independence Square in Kiev February 18, 2014. Ukrainian riot police started to move into Kiev’s Independence Square late on Tuesday, pushing back anti-government protesters whose tents were burning, local television showed.

And there appears to be a steady supply.

And there appears to be a steady supply.

REUTERS/Vasily Fedosenko

Ukrainian women prepare Molotov cocktails at Independence Square in Kiev February 19, 2014.

They need to be thrown fast, otherwise it could blow up in someone’s hand.

They need to be thrown fast, otherwise it could blow up in someone's hand.

REUTERS/Vasily Fedosenko

An anti-government protester prepares to throw a petrol bomb during clashes with riot police at Independence Square in Kiev February 18, 2014. Ukrainian riot police advanced on Tuesday onto a central Kiev square occupied by protesters, after at least 14 people died in the worst day of violence since demonstrations erupted against President Viktor Yanukovich 12 weeks ago.

And then there are the direct clashes.

And then there are the direct clashes.

AP/Efrem Lukatsky

Anti-government protesters clash with riot police outside Ukraine’s parliament in Kiev, Ukraine, Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014.

Riot police include special forces known as ‘Berkut,’ which was first formed in 1988 as part of the Soviet OMON (Special Purpose Police Unit), a vicious riot police and paramilitary force.

Riot police include special forces known as 'Berkut,' which was first formed in 1988 as part of the Soviet OMON (Special Purpose Police Unit), a vicious riot police and paramilitary force.

REUTERS

Riot police beat an anti-government protester during clashes in Kiev February 18, 2014. Ukrainian riot police charged protesters occupying a central Kiev square early on Wednesday after the bloodiest day since the former Soviet republic, caught in a geopolitical struggle between Russia and the West, won its independence.

It’s hard to imagine that these men are countrymen.

It's hard to imagine that these men are countrymen.

REUTERS//Vlad Sodel

Wounded people are seen after clashes with riot police in central Kiev February 18, 2014.

So far, hundreds have been injured.

So far, hundreds have been injured.

REUTERS

Riot policemen detain wounded people after clashes in central Kiev February 18, 2014. Ukrainian riot police charged protesters occupying a central Kiev square early on Wednesday after the bloodiest day since the former Soviet republic, caught in a geopolitical struggle between Russia and the West, won its independence more than 22 years ago. At least 18 people, including seven policemen, died on Tuesday during hours of violence between security forces and civilians who have staged protests against President Viktor Yanukovich since last November.

By the end of Tuesday night, citizens set up a makeshift hospital in St. Michael’s golden-domed cathedral.

By the end of Tuesday night, citizens set up a makeshift hospital in St. Michael's golden-domed cathedral.

Anti-government protesters receive medical treatment inside Mikhailovsky Zlatoverkhy Cathedral (St. Michael’s golden-domed cathedral) in Kiev during the early hours February 19, 2014.

Anti-government protesters receive medical treatment inside Mikhailovsky Zlatoverkhy Cathedral (St. Michael’s golden-domed cathedral) in Kiev during the early hours February 19, 2014.

Riot police use ancient military tactics and shields to defend themselves.

Riot police use ancient military tactics and shields to defend themselves.

REUTERS/Vlad Sodel

Interior Ministry members take cover behind shields during clashes with anti-government protesters in Kiev February 18, 2014. Several thousand anti-government protesters clashed with police near Ukraine’s parliament on Tuesday, torching vehicles and hurling stones in the worst violence to rock the capital Kiev in more than three weeks.

Protesters protect themselves behind anything they can.

Protesters protect themselves behind anything they can.

AP/Efrem Lukatsky

An anti-government protester finds cover during clashes with riot police outside Ukraine’s parliament in Kiev, Ukraine, Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014.

Nothing has deterred flames.

Nothing has deterred flames.

REUTERS

Riot policemen stand guard as they are hit by fire caused by molotov cocktails hurled by anti-government protesters during clashes in Kiev February 18, 2014. Ukrainian riot police charged protesters occupying a central Kiev square early on Wednesday after the bloodiest day since the former Soviet republic, caught in a geopolitical struggle between Russia and the West, won its independence more than 22 years ago. At least 18 people, including seven policemen, died on Tuesday during hours of violence between security forces and civilians who have staged protests against President Viktor Yanukovich since last November.

As both sides can attest.

As both sides can attest.

AP/Efrem Lukatsky

An anti-government protester is engulfed in flames during clashes with riot police outside Ukraine’s parliament in Kiev, Ukraine, Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014.

Tuesday’s protest escalated after the Ukraine government gave protesters an ultimatum to disperse or face “tough measures.”

Tuesday's protest escalated after the Ukraine government gave protesters an ultimatum to disperse or face "tough measures."

REUTERS/Konstantin Chernichkin

Ukranian riot police take cover behind their shields during clashes with anti-government protesters near Independence Square in Kiev February 18, 2014. Ukrainian riot police advanced on Tuesday onto a central Kiev square occupied by protesters, after at least 14 people died in the worst day of violence since demonstrations erupted against President Viktor Yanukovich 12 weeks ago.

In response, the Right Sector, a radical far-right group, called for protestors to arm themselves.

In response, the Right Sector, a radical far-right group, called for protestors to arm themselves.

REUTERS/Vasily Fedosenko

Anti-government protesters aim their weapons during clashes with riot police at Independence Square in Kiev February 18, 2014. Ukrainian riot police advanced on Tuesday onto a central Kiev square occupied by protesters, after at least 14 people died in the worst day of violence since demonstrations erupted against President Viktor Yanukovich 12 weeks ago.

Riot police stormed the square and took over about a third of it overnight.

Riot police stormed the square and took over about a third of it overnight.

REUTERS/David Mdzinarishvili

Riot policemen approach anti-government protesters during clashes at the Independence Square in Kiev February 18, 2014. Ukrainian riot police charged protesters occupying a central Kiev square early on Wednesday after the bloodiest day since the former Soviet republic, caught in a geopolitical struggle between Russia and the West, won its independence.

Water cannons put out fires while tear gas and stun grenades were used on protesters.

Water cannons put out fires while tear gas and stun grenades were used on protesters.

REUTERS/Konstantin Chernichkin

A masked protester is seen in front of thick smoke from burning vehicles during clashes with police in Kiev February 18, 2014. Ukrainian riot police advanced on the heart of 12-week-old protests against President Viktor Yanukovich on Tuesday and security forces set a deadline to end disturbances after at least five protesters were reported killed in a day of clashes.

Protesters held their own through the morning.

Protesters held their own through the morning.

AP/Sergei Chuzavkov

An anti-government protester relaxes during clashes with riot police in Kiev’s Independence Square, the epicenter of the country’s current unrest, Kiev, Ukraine, Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014. The deadly clashes in Ukraine’s capital have drawn sharp reactions from Washington, generated talk of possible European Union sanctions and led to a Kremlin statement blaming Europe and the West.

And reinforcements poured into a smoldering Maidan.

And reinforcements poured into a smoldering Maidan.

REUTERS/David Mdzinarishvili

Anti-government protesters gather in Independence Square in central Kiev February 19, 2014. Ukraine’s interim prime minister said on Wednesday that protests which brought violent clashes with police on Tuesday amounted to an attempted coup.

As both sides dig on Wednesday, it doesn’t look like the crisis will end peacefully.

As both sides dig on Wednesday, it doesn't look like the crisis will end peacefully.

AP/Sergei Chuzavkov

Anti-government protesters gather stones during clashes with riot police in Kiev’s Independence Square, the epicenter of the country’s current unrest, Kiev, Ukraine, Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014.

Citizens are working together to stockpile rocks for building and throwing.

Citizens are working together to stockpile rocks for building and throwing.

REUTERS/Vasily Fedosenko

Anti-government protesters gather and break stones during a rally in central Kiev February 19, 2014.

So Independence Square remains a warzone.

So Independence Square remains a warzone.

REUTERS/Olga Yakimovich

An aerial view shows Independence Square during clashes between anti-government protesters and Interior Ministry members and riot police in central Kiev February 19, 2014.

And the struggle for Ukraine continues.

And the struggle for Ukraine continues.

REUTER

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/ukraine-protest-pictures-2014-2?op=1#ixzz2tpR5atjV

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