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EXCLUSIVE: Rasmussen: Separatist Ukraine referendums ‘don’t count,’ pledges ‘further steps’ if needed

May 12th, 2014
03:02 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

Referendums by separatists in Ukraine, such as Sunday’s in Donyetsk, “don’t count,” NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Monday.

“These referendums are illegal, they are organized in a chaotic manner with dubious and ambiguous questions.”

Pro-Russian separatists claimed victory in a vote in the eastern Ukrainian region; they say that 90% of voters wanted independence from Ukraine.

The acting Ukrainian president called the referendum a “propagandist farce.”

“The only thing that counts is the presidential election on the twenty-fifth of May. And I urge all actors to make sure that those general elections can be conducted in an orderly manner,” Rasmussen told Amanpour.

NATO has tried, through limited troop deployments, military exercises, and air flights to present an enhanced deterrent to Russia, its erstwhile Cold War foe.

Amanpour challenged Rasmussen on whether that was enough.

“The allies say they’d like to see a little bit more – if not reassurance, heft,” Amanpour said. “I don’t know what you think, but a hundred and fifty U.S. soldiers to Poland? I mean, is that really enough to tell Mister Putin – who’s got forty-thousand troops massed on the borders there – to step back?”

“We are right now in the process of considering further steps,” Rasmussen said. “Those further steps might include an update of existing defense plans, development of new defense plans, enhanced exercises, and also appropriate deployment.”

“However, it’s a bit too early to tell exactly how to do it and where to it, but we will not hesitate to take further steps if needed.”

NATO pledges further steps if needed

Russia, he told Amanpour, “obviously” has a “strong influence on the separatists.”

“So no doubt that if Moscow took the decision to encourage separatists to lay down their weapons and let the presidential elections go forward in an orderly manner, that would also happen.”

Amanpour asked if Russia could move against the Ukrainian port of Odessa or the surrounding area in an effort to land-lock the country.

“Well at least they have the capacity to do so. They have massed armed forces along the Ukrainian borders – around 40,000 troops. And in addition to that 25,000 troops in Crimea.”

NATO chief talks Ukraine, Afghanistan

“We have seen that Russia is able to – or the Russian armed forces are able to act within a few hours if the political decision is taken. What I don't know is whether the political decision has been taken or will be taken. But at least they have the capacity to do that.”

NATO has seen no evidence of Russian withdrawal from the Ukrainian border, as Russian President Vladimir Putin has claimed, he told Amanpour.

Rasmussen also, of course, has much responsibility in Afghanistan, which just held the first round of presidential elections.

President Hamid Karzai has refused to sign a security agreement, which he negotiated, to keep foreign security forces in the country past 2014. All of the major Afghan candidates, including the front-runner Abdullah Abdullah, have pledged to sign an agreement in interviews with Amanpour.

“We will establish a training mission to continue to train, advise, assist the Afghan security forces after 2014,” Rasmussen said. “I am confident that we will get a signature on the necessary security agreement.”

He praised the Afghan security forces’ performance securing the country for the presidential elections.

“We have seen them address that in a very professional manner.”

“Of course we are alert, but the fact is that the Afghan security forces took the lead in ensuring a secure environment for the conduct of presidential elections, and they will continue to be in the lead.”


Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Russia • Ukraine
soundoff (53 Responses)
  1. Joe

    Quite right, voting doesn't count. Instead, Russia should hire some mercenaries to overthrow the nazis in kiev using a bit of peaceful protesting.

    May 12, 2014 at 12:06 pm | Reply
    • Yuri

      Surely you must mean fascists, nationalists, and imperialists in Moscow? They would do it in a second, my friend, were it not for fear of real sanctions (which surely would follow).

      May 13, 2014 at 12:00 am | Reply
      • Joe

        Why sanctions ? Why nato not put no fly zone on Russia ? Surely they fear that even more ?

        May 13, 2014 at 12:24 am |
  2. Madex

    Democracy and polls must be according to the way dictated by NATO.
    Waoh! Seems like Putin has played this guys around to where he actually wants them all.
    Without sentiment I think Russia has got some smart and intelligent leaders and I am sure even many who hate Putin acknowledges that.

    May 12, 2014 at 12:18 pm | Reply
  3. qryber

    so, it is ok for Kosovo to gain independence without referendum (gotcha, Obama lied!) and with NATO forces on the ground, and it is not ok to gain independence by taking referendum, without Russian Army forces anywhere near? ok, there is something wrong here..?

    May 12, 2014 at 12:23 pm | Reply
  4. putin

    Does anyone here not know that I can ride a horse with my shirt off?!?!

    May 12, 2014 at 12:35 pm | Reply
    • Putin

      And, while doing such I marked my territory - One hand on the horse...

      May 12, 2014 at 5:05 pm | Reply
  5. kosovo polje

    What about Kosovo,double standards,hypocrisy is the amerian way

    May 12, 2014 at 12:44 pm | Reply
    • John Doe

      Kosovo? Mass graves are still being examined. Not one Russian was ever harmed by a Ukrainian before Putin moved in an took the Crimea and stirred up trouble in Donbas. This is just one example. Not double standards, two completely different situations. But then again, sheep tend to graze things over.

      May 13, 2014 at 8:18 am | Reply
  6. antonovdj

    Shows exactly how much the west loves democracy.

    May 12, 2014 at 12:52 pm | Reply
  7. Brodsky Izya

    Such message from NATO chief is a direct way to a civil war because many-many thousands of peoplewho give their votes believe that thay are right.

    May 12, 2014 at 12:53 pm | Reply
    • Kelly

      You're right, they left their votes. More than one, by many accounts. That is not a fair and accurate representation, that is rigged to one outcome only. Russian democracy. Vote for me as much as you like, vote for him and never see the light of day again.

      May 12, 2014 at 2:20 pm | Reply
  8. Marjeta

    Ja, ok, but, hej, who is NATO?! Is any NATO country attacted? I think it is not. Dear friends, so many years, mostly NATO is attacting other countries. Yes? No?

    May 12, 2014 at 12:54 pm | Reply
    • Marcin

      In 2000 NATO attacked Yugoslavia.

      May 12, 2014 at 2:33 pm | Reply
  9. olotata

    Thank you Nuland for the cookies. They were nice !!!!!!!.
    You should have given to the Eastern Ukraine also.
    Will you Nuland , Obama, Kerry and Kiev make silly claim that the 90% of eastern Ukrainians who voted for independence are terrorists?

    May 12, 2014 at 12:56 pm | Reply
  10. Scott B

    I'd take a bit of glee in the west having its hypocrisy thrown in its face if there weren't a lot of real people being hurt by these worthless games.

    May 12, 2014 at 1:07 pm | Reply
  11. bijonsinzweden

    Looks like the Kremlin trolls have taken over the CNN comment boxes too. And if they're no Kremlin trolls, then their ignorance about Russia and the concept of democracy is downright scary.

    A referendum without electoral register is a joke. A referendum that is so badly organized that anyone can vote as often as one likes is a joke. A referendum with five ballot stations in a town of 500,000 is a joke.

    Anyone who defends a referendum like this is a joker.

    May 12, 2014 at 1:09 pm | Reply
    • Scott B

      This all started because of how much the west values "democracy". By inciting the overthrow of the existing government. When Russia then decides to interfere themselves, the west cry foul. The only difference I see is that most western nations are much more slick about it. They don't make it quite as obvious.

      May 12, 2014 at 1:29 pm | Reply
      • Kelly

        The difference is they threw a corrupt dictator out of Kiev through peaceful demonstrations. Then a corrupt dictator came right back in with guns and took what he wanted. If you can't tell the difference, you probably shouldn't be voting. Democracy means fair and transparent elections, not the kind with armed gangsters driving around with ballot boxes already stuffed full of yes votes.

        May 12, 2014 at 2:22 pm |
      • Scott B

        Wish I could reply to the right comment, but I guess you completely forgot the "F the EU!" video. The US selecting the next leader of Ukraine sure doesn't sound like democracy to me. Yeah, just peaceful demonstrations threw out this corrupt "dictator" (means "we don't like you" it seems since Yanukovych was elected). This is what I mean. You buy the US and other western nations' propaganda because it's slicker. They are playing the exact same games.

        May 12, 2014 at 3:07 pm |
    • Brodsky Izya

      Why do you ask about persents, about regisrers etc.? Even if one person say that he/she disagree with current goverment he/she must be listened and usderstood. But in the referendun there were many-many thousands of such persons. So, is Rassmusen's (who lives far away from Ukraine) single vote more than votes of the thousands Ukrainians? Is it democracy? LOL.

      May 12, 2014 at 3:05 pm | Reply
    • Yuri

      Sadly, you're right, Bijon. These people have no concept of what democracy is.

      May 13, 2014 at 12:07 am | Reply
  12. Ariel

    Yes, he should probably write Putin a stern letter in the strongest terms.
    Somehow these NATO dudes do all look like longing for the old days when SS goosestepped across Europe and Russians were killed by the hundred thousands. Bunch of stupid losers.

    May 12, 2014 at 1:11 pm | Reply
  13. Dirk

    I guess that's it! NATO Sec says it doesn't count so suck it up guys. Lol

    May 12, 2014 at 1:13 pm | Reply
  14. jeremiah ajao

    How come the Kosovo referendum counted but the Separatist Ukraine referendum don't count? Were people not killed in both instances? Don't the East Ukrainians have a right to self determination? Should selective democracy be practiced?

    May 12, 2014 at 1:15 pm | Reply
    • Krakalakin

      Do you mean like in chechnya? How did that referendum go btw, I forget.....

      May 12, 2014 at 2:43 pm | Reply
      • Paul

        what's the problem with the referendum in Chechnya? It was in 2003, and 95% of Chechens voted for to stay in Russia. It was recognized by the EU and U.S. observers as fully legitimate.

        May 13, 2014 at 12:21 am |
  15. menisino

    Don't bother sending troops from E.U. countries like Portugal, Spain, Italy, France . These countries like others to do the heavy lifting & cover their butts .. Some of these free-loafers are an embarrassment to the free world . As for Germany, Merkel sides with her "foe" Schroeder in denying any real sanctions on their buddy Putin. Schroeder even mocks the west with his hugging & kissing of his master, Putin. How quickly they forget, even about who freed East Germany. It certainly wasn't Merkel, Schroeder, & not even Germany, itself. Shame on Germany, once again. As for Schroeder, sanctions should be put on him as well when entering N.America....not welcomed, period.

    May 12, 2014 at 1:18 pm | Reply
  16. aleh

    Most of European leaders , including NATO Secretary General Rasmussen have no their own brains . And some have no guts.. Just repeating all ,what media channels tell to them .

    May 12, 2014 at 1:39 pm | Reply
  17. menisino

    Putin's next move? That is how Obama,/Biden, E.U./Merkel/Cameron/Hollande.//NATO "lead"...by hanging unto Putin's. tail. Obama's DNA...."leading" from behind just as he has always done...that's his legacy....hanging unto Putin's tail, going with the swag ,barely hanging on as his toes keep touching the ground...almost where the great American flag is today under his " leadership".

    May 12, 2014 at 1:39 pm | Reply
  18. Marty

    The good years of socialism never get a honest vote...

    May 12, 2014 at 1:53 pm | Reply
  19. elena

    Will MrRassmussen and Co ever admit the obvious fact that it is Kiev'who is actually killing people? Odessa, Slavyansk, Mariupol – murders there were carried out NOT by Russians. And now instead of ordering Kiev to stop the massacre Rasmussen is talking about further weapon deploying. Is he sane?

    May 12, 2014 at 2:15 pm | Reply
  20. noneofdabove

    I had respect for Amanpour up to this Ukraine affair. She has just shown to be another propaganda head attempting to justify the Kiev putsch and then the stoking of warmongering in the US and EU. Russia could have been a firm ally of the West. Instead, we just created another enemy.

    May 12, 2014 at 2:20 pm | Reply
  21. Hector

    Amanpour has always been a propaganda tool for CNN's agenda, she's just an image. And NATO are the real TERRORIST, this guy is just part of the MAFIA. Seeing this two talking is like going to the THEATHER.

    May 12, 2014 at 2:32 pm | Reply
  22. bob

    Referendums count if they've been conducted without massive cheating. This vote was a complete farce. To think otherwise you'd either have to be braindead or brainwashed by russian propaganda. Lots of evidence of people voting several times at different polls, with no control. It's hilarious!

    May 12, 2014 at 2:34 pm | Reply
    • Joe

      You have no evidence. All you have is BS.

      May 12, 2014 at 2:59 pm | Reply
      • Julia

        http://www.spiegel.de/politik/ausland/ukraine-krise-400-us-soeldner-von-academi-kaempfen-gegen-separatisten-a-968745.html

        May 12, 2014 at 3:31 pm |
  23. Julia

    How dare you lie so brazenly! Nazis kill people and no sane person wants to live in a country where it is waiting genatsid and bezpredel! REMEMBER WHAT DID NATO against Yugoslavia! ! Are you so afraid Russia that can't accept the facts of terrorism by the Kiev authorities?????? Is all that can the media and politicians in the 21st century is to fool people's heads instead of not stack deaths and abuses of ALL people whether Ukrainian, Russian or American?
    YOU THE WAR IN IRAQ IS NOT ENOUGH????? Stop lying!

    May 12, 2014 at 2:58 pm | Reply
  24. saladin

    So this Ratmonger guy was happy with a fascist coup that removed a democratic government. Polls obviously don't count unless they deliver a pro Nato result.

    May 12, 2014 at 2:59 pm | Reply
  25. Chris

    Who are you NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen to count or no count the wish of millions people

    May 12, 2014 at 3:36 pm | Reply
  26. Vojin

    Kosovo, Kosovo and Kosovo..

    May 12, 2014 at 4:32 pm | Reply
  27. Factsseeker

    Rasmussen and NATO leaders seem to have an obsession with Putin because NATO is the most powerful military force in the world and yet Putin does not bow down to them. The hypocrisy is now so blatant that even European and American citizens are starting to question NATO's blind obsession and particularly, that it could lead to a very destructive world war. Everybody in the world has seen how loudly NATO has supported separatist votes in Sudan, Yugoslavia, Kosovo yet now that the Donetsk region aspires to freedom from what they see as Ukrainian government with fascist partners. Rasmussen calls the move illegal. This is a clear double standard and suggests an emotional obsession with Putin. One positive thing about recent events is that the Ukrainian government forces have not gone in and simply shot the protestors like has happened in Egypt and other countries. This is very encouraging. It suggests that, if left alone, the Ukrainians can sort out their differences because they are both Slavic people. Rasmussen must stay out of their affairs because he and NATO, seem only to understand the use of force and violence. Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan are all examples of why NATO should stay out of conflicts. But then NATO would argue that having such a massive military force would be pointless unless it could flex its muscles and go and use their might on a regular basis ? So maybe the world just has to let Rasmussen have his say. Nobody can stop NATO.

    May 12, 2014 at 5:31 pm | Reply
  28. Agapi

    NATO, US, Ms Amanpour, and CNN reporters demand democracy in Afghanistan but not in Ukraine where the wish of the people doesn't count in their eyes (yes, including Ms Amanpour's and CNN's reporters whose interviews and reporting are so warmongering that one wonders whether they have an interest in the arms industry). Why blame Putin for the wish of the majority of the Russians in the Ukraine wanting to wash their hands of the extreme right wing faction in Kiev which seems to be under the direct influence of the US?

    May 12, 2014 at 6:03 pm | Reply
  29. Edward

    All those stupid russian comments don't influence educated people. With these kind of comments you can probably brainwash your own fogy people.

    May 12, 2014 at 6:08 pm | Reply
  30. JJ

    The US/Eu/NATO just created 5 million "terrorists" in East Ukraine. Pathetic. A coup counts, but not the polls. The USA / EU pathetic coward hypocrites. Rasmussen is a piece of feces I really had no opinion before, but this is pure propaganda. Hopefully Russia starts operations in The baltics. Any citizenry who would elect an american as president of Estonia deserves to be flattened.

    May 12, 2014 at 6:47 pm | Reply
    • Yuri

      I recommend you move to Russia for a "working vacation" for a few years. Maybe that'll bring you to your senses.

      May 13, 2014 at 12:11 am | Reply
  31. Mike Moore

    I take it he refers to CNN's hilarious after-the-vote one-thousand-responder undisclosed details poll? I agree with him.

    May 12, 2014 at 7:04 pm | Reply
  32. Dervid

    Europe for Regions and Peoples – ethnic Russians have the right to seperate if they wish. The nation state is dead: long live the people!

    May 12, 2014 at 7:38 pm | Reply
  33. eyeonukraine

    Uh, NATO chief made big, tough statements : votes don't count, we will take further actions. Now what? Send NATO troops to these 2 states and squash the people there, that is right. Just leave the US troops out of it. You Euros want war? Go ahead. Ukraine is not NATO member so why in the world NATO chief makes these threatening, tough statements? And since Uk is not NATO, we (US) don't have to get involved.

    May 12, 2014 at 10:41 pm | Reply
  34. ramgo

    the only problem is you can not believe a word anyone says,\
    put the war criminals in jail, let actions talk

    May 12, 2014 at 10:53 pm | Reply
  35. eddie2010

    Since when is NATO involved in politics at all? Rasmussen just needs to stfu. I don't expect my gardener to give me medical advice and if he does, I ignore it.

    May 12, 2014 at 10:56 pm | Reply
  36. amanpor

    America is the no.1 problem for entire world
    ---–
    American foreign policy now :
    Sack The Dungeons Loot the Gold
    Dungeons= Developing /poor countries
    ---------–
    How to sack dungeons (developing & poor nations) and collect Gold just like in the game Elder Scrolls:Skyrim
    -------
    Print free money – dollars
    give this money via CIA-frontends to NGOs of developing nations who have 'assets'
    (gold, petroleum you know what)
    Ask NGOs to protest & demonstrate in streets
    Restrain local govt not to be violent
    Let US funded NGO demonstrations become violent
    Let them capture a building
    Drop a couple of sharp shooting sniper gunners from stealth/spy planes
    Lets these snipers shoot people dead on BOTH sides
    to make it look like a government job
    Slam the government for mass murders
    And declare its head of govt. as a mass murderer
    possibly bring him to ICC international criminal court
    and jail him for crimes against humanity
    (if they survived the remote controlled 'uprising' by CIA
    else let them be like col. Gaddafi of libya )
    While let the CIA funded NGOs people overturn the government
    and let them declare themselves as rulers
    Recognize these crooks as the new legitimate govt. under a secret deal
    The deal for power for them and & no harm in return for what?
    land a secret plane at night and ask them to load the plane with tons of Gold or paintings or whatever 'assets' and fly the treasure to America.
    America has recently looted 33 tonnes of Gold from Ukraine this way.
    America is proving itself as a street criminal who stays in shadows , puts a gun on you and asks you to hand over all your money .
    UN, ICC, ICJ, NATO, west all are puppets , parrots & poodles .
    Developing & poor countries, BEWARE, ban all the NGOs, stop trading in dollars & Euro, withdraw your Gold from federal reserve bank(New York).

    May 13, 2014 at 8:03 am | Reply
  37. hoyal09

    Reblogged this on orhun hakan yalincak.

    May 14, 2014 at 10:27 am | Reply

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