US, EU Condemn Violence in Ukraine

The Ukrainian government’s rejection of closer economic ties with the European Union in November served to mobilize what have become the largest demonstrations since the 2004 Orange Revolution. Riot police descended upon pro-EU protestors gathered in Kyiv’s Independence Square on the evening of November 30, triggering condemnation from both the US and EU and increased concerns about Ukraine’s trajectory.

The European Union condemned the violent police crackdown and called on the Ukrainian government to investigate the matter. EU officials have praised the demonstrations for their mostly peaceful nature and saw them as an affirmation of popular demands for Ukraine to develop closer ties with the EU.

In a November 30 statement, EU High Representative Catherine Ashton and Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighborhood Policy Štefan Füle said

The European Union strongly condemns the excessive use of force last night by the police in Kyiv to disperse peaceful protesters who over the last days in a strong and unprecedented manner have expressed their support for Ukraine’s political association and economic integration with the EU.”

US State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki echoed this sentiment in a statement noting that the US will

“Continue to support the aspirations of the Ukrainian people to achieve a prosperous European democracy.  European integration is the surest course to economic growth and strengthening Ukraine’s democracy.”

On December 1, the United States and EU Ambassadors praised both sides for relatively calm protests and reserved police behavior, with the exception of violence near Bankova and attacks on public buildings there.

Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych initiated a thirty-minute call to the president of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, on December 2 in which the two agreed on the need for a peaceful resolution to the crisis. Yanukovych, according to the EU statement, also “asked the European Commission to receive a delegation from Ukraine to have a discussion on some aspects of the Association Agreement and the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area,” a proposal to which Barroso was receptive.

Official Statements and Resources

November 30: Statement on Violence in Ukraine—US Department of State Spokesperson Jen Psaki
November 30:  Statement on Violence Against Protestors on Independence Square—US Embassy in Kyiv, Ukraine
November 30:  Statement on Events in Ukraine (PDF)—EU High Representative Catherine Ashton and Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighborhood Policy Štefan Füle
December 1: Joint Statement on Events in Ukraine—US and EU Ambassadors
December 2: Statement on Ukraine— Spokesperson for the Secretary-General
December 2: Results of phone conversation between the President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych and the President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso