Ukraine Warned of 'Consequences' as Violence Rages
President Barack Obama is condemning the violence in Ukraine, warning there will be consequences if something doesn't change soon.
That warning comes as the Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych takes measures to restore peace in his country. He's replacing the army chief tonight after violent clashes left the capitol city Keiv on fire and at least 25 dead.
Ukraine had declared a day of national mourning after 25 people were killed in the chaos. Thousands of security forces continue their crackdown as protesters dig in for another day of confrontation.
Stunning images of violence, which haven't been seen since the days of independence more than 20 years ago, are emerging from Kiev, the capital city. Many are worried about a bloody civil war.
Why is Russia central to what's happening in Ukraine? CBN News Sr. International Reporter George Thomas, who was recently in Ukraine, explains this and more, on CBN Newswatch, Feb. 20.
Overnight, large sections of the protest camp in the heart of Kiev were ablaze.
"I think that today, after all this, people will rise up for real," one protester said.
Some 10,000 government forces surrounded the demonstrators, eventually pressing in to seize control of about a third of Independence Square.
"It is really scary," another protester said. "We can't understand how the government can hate its people so much. But on the other hand, it is not scary here because when you come to Independence Square, it is obvious that people are united here and they are staying until the end."
Throughout the night, anti-government demonstrators battled with stones and Molotov cocktails against police armed with stun grenades, rubber bullets, and water cannons.
Today, protestors are back at the square, digging in for another day of confrontation.
"This is the last war, the last chance for us," a demonstrator named Mykola said. "If we leave now everything, everything will be broken."
The crisis began last November when Ukraine's president rejected a trade deal with the European Union. The protestors want closer ties with Europe, while the president wants to side with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
"I think Putin would love to have Ukraine under his leadership," said CBN's Steve Weber, who heads the office in Ukraine.
Weber said from the Kremlin's perspective, Russia has no borders.
"There is a union between Kazakhstan and Belarus and Russia, kind of like an economic consolidation, but he wants Ukraine in there," he explained.
Ukraine gained its independence from the former Soviet Union in 1991 and since then, the nation has been searching for its true identity.
The eastern half of the country is largely pro-Russian. The western side is pro-European, and this current crisis has only deepened those divisions.
Churches spanning denominations are using the protests to speak truth and hope into the nation's political crisis. They've held 24-hour prayer vigils and conducted numerous evangelistic outreaches.
"We are not embarrassed to name the name of God, not embarrassed to name the name of Jesus Christ. We've got placards down there on Maidan, saying, 'Pray to Jesus' [and] 'Jesus has the future of our nation.'"
Weber issued an international call to prayer for Ukraine on Facebook Wednesday morning.
"We just need to pray they'll be a whole new generation of people who really want to serve and be leaders in the government, not for personal benefit, but for the good of the people," he said.