Riot police clash with pro-EU protestors on Independence Square in Kyiv early on December 11, 2013. Elite Berkut anti-riot police and interior ministry special forces moved against the protestors at around 2:00 am (midnight GMT).
Credit: AFP

Thousands of police in riot gear attempted to wrest back control of key spaces in Kyiv from protesters overnight.

By Wednesday morning, the police had pulled back, after hours of tearing down barricades and attempting to shove protesters from Independence Square.

The police action prompted exactly the opposite: the crowds swelled to more than 10,000 people, with protesters forming human chains to block riot police access to the square.

Security forces then had to make a humiliating retreat, though several dozen protesters were reportedly injured, first.

"We have not won the war yet but we've decisively won this battle. The authorities are panicking," a protester told Agence France-Presse.

The protests began over President Viktor Yanukovych backing out of a pact with the European Union, but have expanded to include calls for his government to step down.

More from GlobalPost: Protesters in Kyiv declare victory as police stand down

  • A general view shows Independence Square in Kyiv on December 10, 2013. Ukraine's President Viktor Yanukovych accused the pro-European opposition of posing a threat to national security, in a show of defiance as he held talks with EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton to seek a way out of an explosive stand-off with protesters.
    Credit: AFP
  • Riot police clash with pro-EU protesors on Independence Square in Kiev early on December 11,2013. Ukrainian security forces stormed Kyiv's Independence Square which protesters have occupied for over a week.
    Credit: AFP
  • Riot policemen wait prior to launching an assault on a barricade held by protesters on Independence Square in Kyiv late on December 11, 2013. The demonstrators defiantly refused to leave and resisted the police in a tense standoff.
    Credit: AFP
  • Riot police clash with pro-EU protestors on Independence Square in Kyiv early on December 11, 2013. Elite Berkut anti-riot police and interior ministry special forces moved against the protestors at around 2:00 am (midnight GMT).
    Credit: AFP
  • A protester stands next to riot policemen getting ready to launch an assault on a barricade held by protesters on Independence Square in Kyiv early on December 11, 2013. US Secretary of State John Kerry to express "disgust" over the crackdown.
    Credit: AFP
  • Riot policemen clash with protesters on Independence Square in Kyiv, on December 11, 2013. Ukrainian security forces on December 11 moved away from the Kyiv city hall after a failed bid to retake the building.
    Credit: AFP
  • Riot policemen clash with protesters on Independence Square in Kyiv, on December 11, 2013. Demonstrators defiantly refused to leave and resisted the police in a tense standoff.
    Credit: SERGEI SUPINSKY
  • Riot policemen clash with protesters on Independence Square in Kyiv, on December 11, 2013.
    Credit: SERGEI SUPINSKY
  • Riot policemen clash with protesters on Independence Square in Kyiv, on December 11, 2013. The tense standoff lasted overnight and almost into the morning before the police pulled back.
    Credit: SERGEI SUPINSKY
  • Ukrainian security forces on December 11 stormed Kyiv's Independence Square, but the demonstrators defiantly refused to leave and resisted the police in a tense standoff.
    Credit: SERGEI SUPINSKY
  • Anti-riot police gather on Independence Square in Kyiv, early on December 11, 2013. Ukrainian security forces pulled out of the epicenter of mass protests in Kyiv after a nine hour standoff with thousands of demonstrators, in a major boost for the opposition to President Viktor Yanukovych.
    Credit: VIKTOR DRACHEV
  • This picture taken early on December 11, 2013 shows tents on Independence Square in Kyiv.
    Credit: AFP
  • A wounded protester walks after clashing with the riot police at City Hall in Kyiv on December 11, 2013.
    Credit: AFP
  • Anti-Yanukovych protesters defend their barricades in front of anti-riot police on Independence Square in Kyiv, on December 11, 2013.
    Credit: VIKTOR DRACHEV

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