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Tri-State Area Ukrainians Follow Nation’s Unrest, Hope For Quick Resolution

Protesters stand on  barricades at Independence square in Kiev on February 19, 2014.  Protesters braced on February 19 for a fresh assault by riot police in central Kiev after a day of clashes left at least 25 people dead in the worst violence since the start of Ukraine's three-month political crisis. (Credit: LOUISA GOULIAMAKI/AFP/Getty Images)

Protesters stand on barricades at Independence square in Kiev on February 19, 2014. Protesters braced on February 19 for a fresh assault by riot police in central Kiev after a day of clashes left at least 25 people dead in the worst violence since the start of Ukraine’s three-month political crisis. (Credit: LOUISA GOULIAMAKI/AFP/Getty Images)

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — As deadly violence spreads in Ukraine many living in the Tri-State area with ties to the country say it’s hard to watch the developments from so far away.

Protesters advanced on police lines in the heart of the Ukrainian capital on Thursday, prompting government snipers to shoot back and kill scores of people in the country’s deadliest day since the breakup of the Soviet Union a quarter-century ago.

Andy, who has been living in the United States for 25 years, told 1010 WINS’ Al Jones that what’s happening in Ukraine is heartbreaking. “This is very sad, what the people did over there. What I see what’s going on over there, it’s breaking our hearts. It’s very sad what’s going on over there.”

Irene Goydich said she understands why there’s so much anger toward the Ukrainian government. “They got their independence and now it seems like they’re going back again to being under the Russian rule, and Communism almost.”

Goydich told Jones she finds the images on TV disturbing. “It is very sad to see that. My kids are born here and they’re very upset about it. They’re angry about it.”

As violence between security forces and anti-government demonstrators spreads through central Kiev and beyond, Andy said he hopes that other countries can convince both sides of the conflict to calm down.

The European Union has imposed sanctions on those deemed responsible for the violence, and three EU foreign ministers held a long day of talks in Kiev with both embattled President Viktor Yanukovych and leaders of the protests seeking his ouster. But it’s increasingly unclear whether either side has the will or ability to compromise.

The two sides are locked in a stalemate over the identity of this nation of 46 million, whose loyalties are divided between Russia and the West.

The protests began in late November after Yanukovych turned away from a long-anticipated deal with the EU in exchange for a $15 billion bailout from Russia.

Despite the violence, defiant protesters seemed determined to continue their push for Yanukovych’s resignation and early presidential and parliamentary elections. People streamed toward the square Thursday afternoon as other protesters hurled wood, refuse and tires on barricades.

In an effort to defuse the situation, the national parliament late Thursday passed a measure that would prohibit an “anti-terrorist operation” threatened by Yanukovych to restore order, and called for all Interior Ministry troops to return to their bases.  But it was unclear how binding the move would be.

At least 101 people have died this week in the clashes in Kiev, according to protesters and Ukrainian authorities, a sharp reversal in three months of mostly peaceful protests. Now neither side appears willing to compromise.

Saying the U.S. was outraged by the violence, U.S. President Barack Obama urged Yanukovych in a statement to withdraw his forces from downtown Kiev immediately. He also said Ukraine should respect the right of protest and that protesters must be peaceful.

The White House said U.S. Vice President Joe Biden spoke by telephone with Yanukovych on Thursday afternoon and made clear that the U.S. is prepared to sanction those officials responsible for the violence.

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