Ukraine protests ignite, leaving many dead

Kiev, Ukraine
Kiev, Ukraine

KIEV, Ukraine (CNN) – At least 25 people are now dead in an escalation of the protests in Ukraine.

As hundreds of others are hospitalized, there is no end in sight to the division between the demonstrators and their government.

Smoke filters the sunlight in independence square, after a bloody day in Kiev and a night of continued protests.

Standing behind walls of fire, demonstrators separate themselves from government forces using whatever wood they can find to fan the flames, holding shields on what is presumably the front line.

The makeshift weaponry includes more than just Molotov cocktails. Simpler weapons pass up the line: bits of stone ripped from the streets of Kiev.

On Wednesday, Ukraine’s president Viktor Yanukovych pinned the blame for the violent clashes on anti-government groups, demanding protesters disentangle themselves from what he called “radical forces” provoking bloodshed.

This is an escalation of protests that began months ago, when Yanukovych backed away from a trade pact with the European Union, opting for closer relations with Moscow.

“This is all about whether Ukraine is a European nation or part of Russia. That’s what this is really all about, and the overwhelming majority of Ukrainians want to be part of Europe,” Sen. John McCain
(R) Foreign Relations Committee said.

For now, the on-again, off-again talks between the government and opposition leaders remain stalled.

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