Photo Essay

  • A man and a young girl walk on the Independence square in Kiev on February 27, 2014.
  • Boots belonging to a protester are left on a makeshift memorial at the Independence square in central Kiev on February 28, 2014.
  • A young couple shares a light moment while waiting at a bus stop in central Kiev on February 28, 2014.
  • Tens of thousands gather in Kiev’s Independence square to hear the line-up of the new pro-Western cabinet on February 26, 2014.
  • Maidan protesters are seen through the holes in a police shield in central Kiev, on February 26, 2014.
  • Doctors provide medical assistance to wounded protesters inside a makeshift hospital in the Mykhaylo Gold Domes cathedral in Kiev, on February 26, 2014.
  • Doctors provide medical assistance to wounded protesters inside a makeshift hospital in the Mykhaylo Gold Domes cathedral in Kiev, on February 26, 2014.
  • Volunteers scan financial documents at the residence of former President Viktor Yanukovych for further investigations, Feb. 26, 2014, in Kiev, Ukraine.
  • Volunteers scan financial documents at the residence of former President Viktor Yanukovych for further investigations, Feb. 26, 2014, in Kiev, Ukraine.
  • People look on from a public transport bus in central Kiev on February 28, 2014.
  • A boy carries a flak jacket, taken from a police water canon vehicle that was seized by protesters, on the Independence square in central Kiev, Feb. 28, 2014.
  • Ukrainians laid flowers in between tires in memory of those killed during the recent protests, in Kiev,  Feb. 26, 2014.
  • A woman looks at the Independence square in central Kiev on February 28, 2014.
  • A priest walks on Kiev’s Independence square on February 27, 2014.
  • A customer sits in a bar during the televised news conference of ousted Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych, in central Kiev on February 28, 2014.
  • A couple and a child walk between barricades in central Kiev on February 28, 2014.
  • People walk past flowers placed on the ground near a memorial for the people killed in clashes with the police, at Kiev’s Independence Square, Feb. 27, 2014.
  • A young boy and a child sit by a fire on Kiev’s Independence square, on February 28, 2014.
  • Anti-government protesters carry an injured man on a stretcher after clashes with riot police in the Independence Square in Kiev Feb. 20, 2014.
  • A hospital tent treats those injured in the anti-government protests in Kiev on Feb. 20, 2014.
  • Anti-government protesters hold a riot policeman captive during clashes in central Kiev on Feb. 20, 2014.
  • Anti-government protesters run with an injured man on a stretcher in Independence Square in Kiev.
  • Anti-government protesters clean the Independence Square after clashes with riot police in Kiev Feb. 20, 2014.
  • An injured man struggles to breathe as he is carried on a stretcher by anti-government protesters after clashes with riot police in the Independence Square in Kiev Feb. 20, 2014.
  • Anti-government protesters continue to clash with police in Independence square on Feb. 20, 2014 in Kiev, Ukraine.
  • A protestor stands near the barricades during clashes with riot police in central Kiev on Feb. 20, 2014 in Kiev.
  • Protesters catch fire as they stand behind burning barricades during clashes with police on Feb. 20, 2014 in Kiev.
  • Anti-government demonstrators stand behind a barricade near Kiev’s Independence Square on Feb. 19, 2014.
  • An anti-government protester guards the barricades on Independence Square on Feb. 19, 2014 in Kiev, Ukraine.
  • Anti-government protesters stand on Kiev’s Independence square during clashes with riot police on Feb. 19, 2014.
  • Anti-government protesters smoke at a barricade in central Kiev Feb. 19, 2014.
  • Anti-government protesters carry a wounded policemen during clashes with riot police in Kiev’s Independence Square on Feb. 19, 2014.
  • Anti-government protesters walk amid debris and flames near the perimeter of Independence Square on Feb. 19, 2014 in Kiev, Ukraine.
  • Anti-government protesters sleep on the floor inside the Mikhailovsky Monastery, which has been converted into a makeshift hospital, on Feb. 19, 2014 in Kiev, Ukraine.
  • An auditorium inside the Trade Unions Building, which has served as the de facto headquarters for the anti-government protest movement, is filled with smoke and flames as the building burns on Feb. 19, 2014 in Kiev, Ukraine.
  • Anti-government protesters guard the perimeter of Independence Square, on Feb. 19, 2014 in Kiev, Ukraine.
  • Anti-government protesters guard the perimeter of Independence Square, on February 19, 2014 in Kiev, Ukraine.
  • Anti-government protesters throw cobblestones as they clash with the police on Independence Square in Kiev early on Feb. 19, 2014.
  • Riot police face anti-government protesters during clashes during the storming of Independence Square in Kiev on Feb. 18, 2014.
  • Anti-government demonstrators stand on barricades during clashes with riot police in Kiev on Feb. 18, 2014.
  • Anti-government demonstrators clash with riot police in central Kiev, Feb. 18, 2014.
  • Smoke from exploding fireworks and fires billows into the night sky as Ukrainians gather on the Independence Square during continuing protests in Kiev, Feb. 18, 2014.
  • People speak near a burning barricade during clashes between anti-government protesters and Interior Ministry members in Kiev, Feb. 18, 2014.
  • Riot police take cover behind shields during clashes at Kiev’s Independence Square, Feb 18, 2014.
  • Anti-government demonstrators stand among the smoke of burning barricades during clashes with riot police in Kiev, Feb. 18, 2014.
  • A protester throws a device at riot police during continuing protests in downtown Kiev, Feb. 18. 2014.
  • An anti-government protester is engulfed in flames during clashes with riot police outside Ukraine’s parliament in Kiev, Feb. 18, 2014.
  • Riot policemen in flames clash with protesters in downtown Kiev, Feb. 18, 2014.
  • Anti-government protesters carry a wounded man during clashes with riot police in Kiev, Feb. 18, 2014.
  • Anti-government protesters clash with riot police outside Ukraine’s parliament in Kiev, Feb. 18, 2014.
  • A woman carries stones during clashes between anti-government protesters and Interior Ministry members in Kiev, Feb.18, 2014.
  • An anti-government protester takes cover during clashes with riot police outside Ukraine’s parliament in Kiev, Ukraine, Feb. 18, 2014.
  • An Interior Ministry member, who was injured during clashes with anti-government protesters, receives medical treatment as he lies on a stretcher in Kiev, Feb. 18, 2014.
  • Interior Ministry members take cover behind shields during clashes with anti-government protesters in Kiev, Feb. 18, 2014.
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Standoff in Ukraine intensifies

Updated

President Obama said he was “deeply” concerned by reports that Russia deployed forces into the Crimea region of Ukraine, and warned “there will be costs” for any military action in the ongoing crisis.

“Any violations of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity would be deeply destabilizing,” said Obama to reporters on Friday. “It would represent a profound interference in matters that must be determined by the Ukrainian people.”

The president did not specify what the costs would be, but noted that the United States would continue to communicate with the Russian government. He said he had spoken with President Vladimir Putin days ago, and made clear that Russia could be part of the international community’s effort to support the success of a united Ukraine.

“Throughout this crisis we have been very clear,” said Obama. “The Ukrainian people deserve the opportunity to determine their own future.”

Shortly before the president’s remarks, U.S. officials confirmed to NBC News that uniformed Russian forces – a hybrid of military and paramilitary – were still flying into Simferopol, the regional capital of Crimea in southern Ukraine. The country, once a Soviet satellite, has been gripped by anti-government protests since last November that turned violent in recent weeks. Ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych fled to Russia, where he declared on Friday that he was “not overthrown,” but compelled to leave the country due to threats on his life.

Police cut off all traffic to the center of the capital, blocking even diplomatic vehicles–a highly unusual move, according to a diplomat at the U.S. embassy in Kiev, who spoke with NBC News’ Ayman Mohyeldin.

U.S. officials condemned the violence Tuesday and called on government officials to resume talks with the opposition.

“Force will not resolve the crisis,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said during his press briefing. “To restore peace and stability, we urge President Yanukovych to de-escalate immediately the situation and end the confrontation.”

Secretary of State John Kerry added in a statement: “We condemn the use of force or violence by any party. We call on the government and protesters to take immediate steps to de-escalate the situation and to resolve political differences through high-level dialogue. Rather than issuing ultimatums, the Government of Ukraine should immediately resume talks with senior opposition leaders and support dialogue through Ukraine’s democratic institutions, including parliament, the Rada.”

The standoff began in November, when Yanukovych bucked a trade deal with the European Union, turning instead to one with Russia. Unrest continued to grow after an anti-protest law went into effect. More than 2,000 people have been injured so far during the clashes, CNN reports.