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Selling America to the world

April 18th, 2014
03:32 PM ET

From Kiev to Damascus, Moscow to Caracas, there are very few international conflicts and debates where the actions and position of the United States is not influential.

In Ukraine, the United States stands solidly behind the interim government, and slapped some sanctions on Russian officials after Moscow annexed Crimea.

But as Moscow continues to play out a similar drama in eastern Ukraine now, the nation and its neighbors want to know what the U.S. is going to do, if anything, to prevent any further land grabs.

The people of Syria of course have been asking that sad question for three years now; despite laying out a red line over chemical weapons, the White House has kept a hands off policy there.

And then there's the tricky question of how the United States stretches over the head of governments to reach the people in countries such as Iran and Cuba.

In a world increasingly consumed by a war of words and polarizing propaganda, the art of public diplomacy is paramount, and the new U.S. Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs has his work cut out for him today.

Rick Stengel, who was sworn in by Secretary of State John Kerry this week, is actually a former journalist and managing editor of Time Magazine. He now steps into the powerful role of telling America’s story and laying out its foreign policy goals for the world.

CNN’s Christiane Amanpour spoke with Stengel on Friday – his first TV interview.

Click above to watch.

Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Latest Episode • U.S. Politics

The ‘degenerate’ art that Hitler hated

April 18th, 2014
07:57 AM ET

The use of propaganda and the willingness to re-shape history is hardly unique to the conflict brewing in eastern Ukraine.

In fact, the modern art of propaganda reached new heights, or depths, back in the 1930s by Adolf Hitler and the Nazis, when they declared war on modern art itself.

An extraordinary exhibit at the Neue Galerie in New York is drawing huge crowds to see the kind of artwork the Nazis admired – hanging side by side with the kind they despised, what they called "degenerate art."

Acclaimed historian Simon Schama, author most recently of "The Story of the Jews," took CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on a tour, and offered a chilling reminder: First they came for the art, and then for everyone else.

Click above to watch.

Plus, with rare footage, Amanpour takes a look at back the 1937 Nazi exhibition of 'degenerate' art:


Rare footage of Nazi art exhbit

With rare footage, Christiane Amanpour takes a look at back the 1937 Nazi exhibition of 'degenerate' art.

‘Very few things’ Ukraine can do to keep country together, Putin ally warns

April 17th, 2014
02:57 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

The Ukrainian government has little possibility of keeping its country from falling apart, a top member of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s party told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Thursday.

“There are very few things the Ukrainian government can do now to keep their country together,” Vyacheslav Nikonov said.

President Putin on Thursday denied that there are Russian forces inside eastern Ukraine, but maintained his country’s right to intervene if necessary.

Nikonov warned that Russia would move in militarily if there were “full-scale civil war in Ukraine and government forces using artillery and aircraft against their own people.”


Russia's red line for intervention

Putin-ally Vyacheslav Nikonov says that Russia would intervene in Ukraine if there were "full-scale civil war."

“I would not expect that [to] happen,” he said, but added that the Ukrainian government is “not very adequate” and he is unsure “what are they going to do.”

“I would not see any restraint on the side of the authorities in Kiev. There are not just tanks, which are moving, but also artillery. And there are bombers, which are flying over the protesting people.”


Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Latest Episode • Russia • Ukraine

Web extra: What's it like to be Molotov's grandson?

April 17th, 2014
01:55 PM ET

Russian politician Vyacheslav Nikonov was on Amanpour on Thursday to talk about unrest in eastern Ukraine.

Nikonov happens to be the grandson of Vyacheslav Molotov, who served as Soviet foreign minister for Josef Stalin during World War II. Molotov, of course, was also the namesake of the Molotov cocktail - that infamous home-made incendiary weapon.

Christiane Amanpour asked Nikonov what it's like to be Molotov's grandson.

Click above to watch his reply - and hear how he prefers his liquor.

Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Russia • Ukraine

Kidnapping children for battle, from Nigeria to Uganda

April 16th, 2014
03:18 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

They come in the night.

Armed militants take young children from their beds, as they sleep: Young recruits for extremist causes.

It happened this week in Nigeria, when heavily armed Boko Haram Islamists kidnapped 200 girls from their boarding school.

And it has been happening in northern Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, and other neighboring countries for decades – the work of Joseph Kony and his Lord’s Resistance Army.

CNN’s Christiane Amanpour covered Kony’s sick work 16 years ago, for 60 Minutes, when she reported on the abduction of 139 girls from their school.

She spoke with their teacher, Sister Rachele Fassera, who begged for the children’s return.

“He bent down and on the ground he wrote, ‘The girls are 139. I will give you a 109.’ He wrote, ‘I keep 30,’ Sister Raquelle told Amanpour at the time.”

“I knelt in front of him,” she said. “And I said, please give me all the girls. He said, ‘No.’ [crying] Then they started, ‘Sister, they will rape us tonight. Sister, will you come back tonight?’”

“That was the last time I saw them.”


Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Latest Episode • Nigeria • Uganda

Russia: No plans to intervene, says ‘hysteria is becoming contagious’

April 16th, 2014
01:52 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

Russia will not invade Ukraine, Russian Ambassador to the EU Vladimir Chizhov told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Wednesday.

“Russia has no plans to intervene militarily, no plans to invade anybody – not Ukraine, not any other country; or to annex anything.”

Amanpour asked the ambassador whether Russian would also stay out of Transnistria, the breakaway state - recognized by no sovereign nation – sandwiched in between Moldova and Ukraine.

Authorities in Transnistria asked Russia to recognize the enclave as a sovereign independent state on Wednesday.

“Hysteria is becoming contagious,” Chizhov said. “It’s not Russia’s intention to annex Transnistria or any other territory in any other place of the world.”


Russia's next move

CNN's Christiane Amanpour speaks with Russian Ambassador to the EU Vladimir Chizhov about unrest in eastern Ukraine.

Pro-Russian militants appeared to tighten their grip on Ukraine's eastern town of Slovyansk on Wednesday as Ukrainian military forces massed nearby in an uneasy standoff.

In Donetsk, six armored vehicles sent into the nearby city of Kramatorsk in the morning later showed up carrying Russian flags in Slovyansk.


Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Russia • Ukraine

EXCLUSIVE: UN issues stark warning against arming Ukraine protesters

April 15th, 2014
03:57 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

“Whoever arms protesters can be held accountable for potential tragic consequences.”

That is the stark warning issued on Ukraine by the U.N. Assistant Secretary General for Human Rights, Ivan Simonovic, in an exclusive interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Tuesday.

“What is at the moment, I would say, most important, it is to prevent arming of protesters and transforming them into paramilitary troops.”


U.N. releases report on Ukraine

CNN's Christiane Amanpour speaks with U.N. Assistant Secretary General for Human Rights Ivan Simonovic.

Simonovic is the author of a new U.N. report, out Tuesday, that details the protests and incursions that lead up to Russia’s annexation of Crimea.

The report comes as worried residents and onlookers around the world shudder at the similarities between Russia’s annexation of Crimea last month and what is happening today in eastern Ukraine.


Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Latest Episode • Russia • Ukraine

Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves calls for ‘physical presence on the ground’ in region as deterrence against Russia

April 15th, 2014
11:15 AM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

In an interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour on Tuesday, Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves called for a "physical presence on the ground" in the region as a deterrence against Russia.

Estonia, a former Soviet republic that shares a border with Russia, is now a member of NATO. Its leadership has been outspoken expressing concern about Russia's incursion into Ukraine.

"We need more exercises," President Ilves said. "We think that the decision to increase the number of planes providing air policing in the region is a very good one."

"But given the uncertainty that we see to the east and the kinds of actions that we’ve seen in the east, we need to make sure that others understand that this is not something to play around with."


Estonia's plea on Russia

CNN's Christiane Amanpour speaks with Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves about Russia and Ukraine.

Amanpour asked President Ilves what he thought Russian President Vladimir Putin's "goal" was.

"We are in new territory right now. The rules have been broken."


Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Russia • Ukraine

The courage to imagine the other

April 15th, 2014
10:45 AM ET

By Lucky Gold and Christiane Amanpour, CNN

The showdown between Russia and Ukraine demonstrates how hard it is understand the story of “the other.”

The struggle over narratives dates back at least to the time of the Passover – which began on Monday – when Pharoah kept the people of Moses in bondage.

Now imagine a world where imagining the other could mean deliverance for warring sides such as Israelis and Palestinians.

In what may be a first, Mohammed Dajani, a Palestinian professor at al-Quds University in east Jerusalem, recently took 27 of his students to Auschwitz, the notorious concentration camp in Poland.

The idea was to promote greater understanding between peoples.

And yet Professor Dajani was branded by many of his own people as a traitor.


Amanpour asks Venezuelan President Maduro about mediation

April 10th, 2014
11:49 AM ET

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has agreed to talks with the opposition – with the Vatican as mediator, Reuters reports.

CNN's Christiane Amanpour asked President Maduro about this very idea - of having the pope as mediator - when she interviewed him exclusively last month in Caracas.

Click above to watch.

And you can see the rest of Amanpour's interview with President Maduro here.

Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Venezuela
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