Kiev's on Fire: 9 Images of Ukraine Protest's Darkest Hour

Kiev's on Fire: 9 Images of Ukraine Protest's Darkest Hour

Last night's violent crackdown by Ukrainian forces on protesters has been the bloodiest the country has seen since the former Soviet Republic became independent. The death toll is at 25 and at least 241 have been injured. It is the most violent day in the nearly three months of anti-government protests against President Yanukovych, who sparked outrage after rejecting an economic deal with Europe and instead turned to Russia for financial help. 

Burning molotav cocktails, smoking tear gas canisters, petrol bombs and blood stains litter the streets. A life-size statue of the Virgin Mary looks down from a stage where protest leaders speak in central Kiev this morning. 

Last night, thousands of protesters faced armed riot police as they tried to clear the protest camp, storming in with water cannons and armored vehicles. Sniper police are reported to have opened fire on the protesters. In a desperate attempt to keep control of Kiev's Independence Squared, protesters lit a ring of fire surrounding them and threw homemade molaotov cocktails. Extreme right-wing vigilantes of the Pravy Sektor (Right Sector) are attempting to co-opt the liberal uprising, escalating the country's violence. 

"This massacre has been carefully planned in advance and is intended to eventually destroy any hint of democracy in Ukraine," Lesya Orobets, an opposition member of parliament, wrote on Facebook.

Vice President Joe Biden called President Yanukovych warning him that the U.S. condemns the violence, urging him to de-escalate violence against protesters. The EU is moving closer to imposing sanctions on the country, including travel bans and asset freezes. Meanwhile, Ukraine has become a war zone.Ukraine is a war zone.

1. Protests started out nonviolent but have quickly escalated with government crackdown.

2. Protesters clash with riot police in Kiev Square Tuesday night.

3. Riot Police reported to have opened fire on protesters.

4. 25 dead, over 240 hospitalized

5. Protesters have started arming themselves with helmets, stones and Molotov Cocktails.

6. A ring of fire is created to protect Kiev Square from enclosing police .

7. Right wing vigilantes reportedly try to co-opt the uprising.

8. Violence continues.

9. Ukraine is burning.