The Ukrainian parliament refused to pass a vote of no confidence against the government on Tuesday, confounding opposition plans to bring down the regime and putting the country into deadlock over its European future.
After a fractious morning of debate during which deputies often struggled to make themselves heard over catcalling and shouting, just 186 MPs voted for the opposition motion - 40 short of the 226 vote threshold needed to bring down Mykola Azarov's government.
The vote came as Nato foreign ministers called for a solution to the unrest caused by the government's failure to sign a trade and association deal with Europe.
"We condemn the use of excessive force against peaceful demonstrators in Ukraine," the ministers said in a statement. John Kerry, the US secretary of state, urged the government to "listen to the voices of its people who want to live in freedom", insisting: "Violence has no place in a modern European state."
Mr Azarov, the prime minister, who has become a hate figure for the opposition since bowing to Russian pressure to postpone the deal with Europe, showed no sign of giving way to calls for his resignation.
Struggling to speak over the deputies shouting at him to talk in Ukrainian - Mr Azarov only speaks Russian - he insisted that the government had acted in the national interest and even blamed the crisis on the jailed former prime minister, Yulia Tymoshenko, for "selling out" the country to Russia during her office.
But he reiterated his promise to send a delegation to Brussels to continue negotiations, and said that Viktor Yanukovych, the Ukrainian president, had been in touch with the European Commission.