BRUSSELS The European Union moved quickly on Wednesday towards agreeing sanctions on officials who used excessive force during Ukraine protests that killed at least 25 people.
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said he expected EU governments to urgently agree on targeted sanctions "against those responsible for violence and use of excessive force" in Ukraine.
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton called an emergency meeting of EU foreign ministers to discuss the situation in Ukraine in Brussels on Thursday, where sanctions are expected to be discussed.
Under sanctions, the EU typically freezes the assets of officials and bars them from travelling to the 28-nation bloc.
EU ambassadors were holding a special meeting on Wednesday to discuss "all possible options" to respond to the crisis, including sanctions on people responsible for repression and human rights violations, Ashton said in a statement.
"We have ... made it clear that the EU will respond to any deterioration on the ground," Barroso said in a statement.
"We call on all sides to immediately put an end to the violence and engage into a meaningful dialogue, responding to the democratic aspirations of the Ukrainian people," he said.
Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich's decision to spurn a trade agreement with the EU last November sparked months of protests in Kiev which culminated in the overnight violence.