US, EU to coordinate response to Ukraine violence: White House

Washington, Feb 20: The US will coordinate with the European Union in response to ongoing violence in Ukraine, with sanctions being considered, the White House said Wednesday.

President Barack Obama was expected to address the violence in his Wednesday talks with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper in Toluca, Mexico, Xinhua quoted Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes as telling reporters aboard Air Force One en route to the city.

“We continue to watch events very closely, including who we believe is responsible for violence, and we’ve made clear that we would consider taking action against individuals who are responsible for acts of violence in Ukraine,” Rhodes said. “We have a toolkit for doing that that includes sanctions.”

“Events like what we saw yesterday are clearly going to impact our decision making,” he added, noting the US and EU would change their calculus if the Ukrainian government pulls back riot police from Independence Square in Kiev, the capital, releases prisoners and pursues dialogue with the opposition.

Early Wednesday, riot police continued a massive assault on protesters camped on Independence Square, after the bloodiest outburst of violence in nearly three months of demonstrations killed at least 26 people and injured 388 overnight there.

“I think the scenes that we saw in Kiev yesterday were completely outrageous and have no place in the 21st century,” Rhodes said.

In his phone conversation with Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych Tuesday, US Vice President Joseph Biden urged the government to de-escalate the situation by pulling back riot police and starting an “immediate” dialogue with the opposition.

The standoff had begun in November when Yanukovych backtracked on a trade deal with the EU and instead tilted toward Russia.

IANS