BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Violent outbreak in Ukraine. Twenty thousand protesters clashed with riot police in the nation’s capital. The anti-government protesters want the country to align with Eastern Europe as the country’s leaders strengthen ties with Russia. Ukrainians in Maryland are reacting to the bloodshed.

Meghan McCorkell has their pleas for peace.

This was the bloodiest day in the Ukraine since 1991, when the country gained its independence from Russia.

Fires rage outside the Ukrainian Parliament building in Kiev.

“What you hear there are the fireworks that the protesters are apparently firing out toward police lines,” said news correspondent Katie Stallard.

At least 18 people are dead after riot police clashed with anti-government protesters. Police used stun grenades, water cannons and tear gas to try and push back the crowds.

But protesters–who have remained in the square since October–fought back with rocks, bats and even firebombs.

Some Ukrainians in Maryland have been raising money to send to protest groups. They want Ukraine to align with the European Union, not Russia.

“We do not want to go back into the Soviet Union,” said Andrij Chornodolsky.

Chornodolsky–a Ukrainian living here in Maryland–has a friend injured in the uprising. He believes the protesters will hold their ground.

“I think we have a revolution in place and I believe that there will be a general strike,” he said.

But watching Tuesday’s escalation of violence has been difficult.

“Today we see a war going on in the capital city. We see fire; we see explosions; we see injured people,” said Dr. Nazar Kalivoshko.

Now, those living here are praying for peace and change in their homeland.

The money raised by groups here in Maryland went to fund a field hospital for the protesters.

Vice President Joe Biden has called the Ukrainian president, urging him to pull back on the violence.

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