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Joe Biden to Ukraine's Yanukovich: 'De-escalate the Situation'

<p>Ukraine's government bears responsibility for de-escalating the situation, the vice president said.</p>
Image: Anti-government protesters take cover behind shields in Kiev on Wednesday
Anti-government protesters take cover behind shields as they gather in Independence Square in central Kiev February 19, 2014. Ukraine's interim prime minister said on Wednesday that protests which brought violent clashes with police on Tuesday amounted to an attempted coup. REUTERS/David Mdzinarishvili (UKRAINE - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST)DAVID MDZINARISHVILI / Reuters

Vice President Joe Biden called Ukraine's President Viktor Yanukovich late Tuesday to express “grave concern” over the deadly protests, the White House said.

He urged Yanukovich to pull back government forces and exercise maximum restraint, according to a statement.

“The vice president made clear that the United States condemns violence by any side, but that the government bears special responsibility to de-escalate the situation,” the statement said.