Ukraine Crisis: Bullets and Bloodshed

Dozens dead as Kiev assault on protesters continue.
3:00 | 02/20/14

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Transcript for Ukraine Crisis: Bullets and Bloodshed
This is a special. Report from ABC. I'm Michelle Franzen a New York with his ABC news digital special report. Broken promises and a barrage of bullets dozens dead and Kiev today as the clashes between protesters and police. Lead to casualties on both sides Ukraine's interior ministry says as many as 67 policemen have now been captured by protesters. And this is what the situation looks like on the ground right now. -- independence square is the center of conflicts and protesters have taken control much of the area. South of the square police gathering north of the barricades both sides entrenched and getting ever more violent. It all started because of a trade deal a year in the making Ukraine was supposed to sign a trade pact with the European Union. The latest moment but that last minute the president. Yanukovych -- -- and made a deal with Russia instead and that was back in November. For this protesters the issue has changed from trade deal to the power -- of president Yanukovych and now they are demanding constitutional reforms to take. Some of his powers away. But that has resulted in what you see now buildings and barricades. On fire ABC's -- Roddy has been following the latest and has this report from Moscow. Kiev erupted in violence again today. The deadliest day so far as shaky truce just hours old. And did -- at -- of Molotov cocktails and gunfire. Masked protesters began an assault that debris. Police returned fire with stun grenades and live ammunition and good -- this is what they mean by treason. We don't trust them. Protesters took dozens of riot police hostage. -- hotel lobby turned into a field hospital soon filled with the dead and wounded. It's horrible. And it's incredible it's hard to understand. How in the -- for a century. People could be just sentence directly and someone. Told them to should keep. Dozens are confirmed dead from both sides many more are injured. Anti government protesters have occupied the square for months angry at the president's embrace of Russia. They speak for many Ukraine were also tired of government corruption. -- -- with. Today protest leader Vitaly Klitschko a former boxing champ -- Issued an urgent appeal for peace and demanded that president Yanukovych schedule early elections. European ministers are trying to negotiate a resolution the US ambassador warned of more sanctions -- violence continues back in the square. Thousands remain -- many more are arriving. More violence is expected and with likely more -- -- -- ABC news Moscow. And ABC's Jim Matalin joins us now live from the White House Jim you've been traveling with President Obama who along with the State Department. Has been talking tough about Ukraine but is there really at this point much the US can do to slow down the violence. Also far what they've done is is a job owning really sending over messages today this morning -- Press Secretary sent out another. A message saying. To the Ukrainian government. That they must stand down in in in the square take the security forces away. And that the United States is outraged at what happened overnight. But not much else there are so there have been some sanctions that were announced yesterday. There are. Really not a big sanctions and they're not widespread there's -- twenty. Visas. That will be not honored. From the Ukraine to the United States that really doesn't mean much. But -- the government has now been saying that they know what promises that there are more going to be more sanctions along with. The Europeans. And -- -- the -- European leaders we'll get together with the United States an announcement of sanctions that could come today. At this briefing we could hear some more about that there's some of the questions. About sanctions today. Well let's talk a little bit about the violence in independence square have seen reports of protesters firing. They -- and sniper rifles. Do we know evolved they have access to those weapons that they do who might be supplying them. Will we don't know who -- -- -- supplying them well in the eyewitness reports there in fact. There eyewitness -- in both sides who say. -- -- the protesters started at today's. The violence or the government started today's violence it's clear that there was fighting and that's about all. Reports in the ground do say that. It that the truce may have been broken today by the protesters who. We're trying to reestablish lines. So it's a tricky situation for the United States which must have condemned the violence of the protesters who they support. And also the same time. Condemn even stronger. The government's action. Now the White House -- been trying to sort all of this out they've been very careful to keep. Describing the situation there as a protest. -- there awaiting a briefing right now what point might the White House have to consider changing that language. Well I think they're going to be very careful about the language -- they use. That probably preparing statements now within that I don't think -- will call this a civil war -- anyway I think that there be very careful about. -- calling this a protest and in asking the government. Of the Ukraine. Two in fact it except peaceful protest and to allow it to go on in not to have. The police officers in the square as a provocation. That that they believe the United States government has been saying. That if the Ukrainian government -- to remove. The police which are civilian. That that would remove the problem. The other thing the other focus of the United States has been to say. To the YouTube government of Ukraine do not bring the military do not use the military. The president was emphatic in saying yesterday. That he was keeping an eye on what was going on there and was urging. The ukrainians and not to use of military to saw the civilian problems. Of course this recent dispute months in the making it began when Ukraine's president Victor Yanukovych shot down a trade pact with the EU. He made that decision under pressure from Russia. Is there any way to turn back the clock on that. Well the United States is hoping that there will be some kind of joint government in the Ukraine is what they're put they're pushing what they're asking for. -- government that is not. Solely run by the current president but except some kind of a joint coalition type of government. That's a whole put so far there have been no indication that the ukrainians are well willing to do that or that Russia would do support that kind of thing. The president did talk about Russia yesterday at a late night press conference where he. Said that the Russians. This this was not a game. And that this was not about the United States and Russia and spheres of influence of anything like that the United States wants to focus this on. The people of the Ukrainian claiming that. The people of Ukraine are not supporting the government and are protesting and they should be protected from doing that protecting allowed to do that. And -- -- not president clearly did not want to get into. A situation where he was staring down President Putin president -- Two during this situation in -- said that this was not about the United States and Russia. Jim with that said we've also heard that Vice President Biden has a strong relationship with the Ukrainian president. What has that relationship -- Wants -- lot of phone -- so far Vice President Biden almost in daily contact with the Ukrainian president. We're told by telephone. To urge him to -- urge restraint. There seem to be a break -- seem to be a glimmer of hope yesterday afternoon. Late in the afternoon when -- president announced the president of Ukraine announced. There was a truce and that he had met with protesters and then they have decided to have to have a -- the president of the United States said last night. But he hopes the truth the truth would hold for them give them some space to work things out but immediately within hours the truce was brokered. -- -- -- you have to get ready for this -- as well one quick question we've seen those clashes have. What do we know -- about different parts of the crane has -- this is going. Let's not just -- a bouquet of his words senator there are protest outside and outside of Ukraine -- -- you'll notice people coming in now because we had the two minute warning. -- in the rest of the group of reporters becoming and it's filling up these seats. Before Josh Earnest the principal deputy Press Secretary comes out to address the media. He should be coming in just a few moments. ABC's Jim -- at the White House thank you very much for joining us and adding perspective to this.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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