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Letting Ukrainian people freeze 'is out of the question', says Russian ambassador

October 29th, 2014
05:15 PM ET

By Madalena Araujo, CNN

Russia will not let the Ukrainian people freeze, Russia's Permanent Representative to the OSCE, Andrey Kelin, told CNN’s Michael Holmes, in for Christiane Amanpour, on Wednesday.

Russia cut off gas supplies to Ukraine in June citing unpaid bills and exacerbating already existing tensions between the two countries, triggered by Russia’s annexation of Crimea in February. The time to resolve the gas dispute is now running out with temperatures in Kiev already falling below zero.

“What I can absolutely guarantee is that Russia will never stop supplying gas to Ukraine because we have a lot of people from Ukraine in Russia, and it is impossible that we let Ukrainian people freeze. This is out of the question,” Kelin said.

“On the other hand,” the Ambassador warned, “we cannot always supply gas for credit to Ukraine, which happened in the past. Ukraine still did not pay, for instance, last three months or the year and we expect this payment.”

Ukraine’s parliamentary elections took place on Sunday and, for the first time since the country’s independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, the Communist Party will be left out from parliament.

Despite the “omissions and violations” committed during the election, Kelin remarked, “I think that we are going to recognize the outcome when all calculations will be finalized.”

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

Estonia faces standoff with Russia

October 15th, 2014
09:47 AM ET

While the world is pre-occupied trying to find a way to stop ISIS, on Russia's border, war games and psychological warfare continue.

Apart from its obvious attempt to halt Ukraine's tilt westwards, worrying new questions now about Russia’s aim – and game – in the Baltic States.

What happened in Estonia last month reads like a John le Carre novel. One of their intelligence agents was snatched in a cross border raid by Russian FSB agents, and recently paraded on Russian TV as a spy.

Is President Vladimir Putin testing NATO? Seeing how far he can probe one of its own?

CNN’s Christiane Amanpour spoke with Estonian Foreign Minister Urman Paet on Wednesday about whether the country feared the "Ukraine treatment."

Click above to watch.


Filed under:  Estonia • Latest Episode • Russia • Ukraine

Paintings celebrate Putin's birthday

October 7th, 2014
03:30 PM ET

A Moscow art exhibit is celebrating President Vladimir Putin's birthday by portraying him as a hero of mythic proportions.

Click above to watch.


Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Imagine a World • Latest Episode • Russia

New NATO chief touts relationship with Russia as he takes office

October 2nd, 2014
03:11 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

The new NATO Secretary General, Former Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, emphasized his long and productive relationship with Russia in an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, a day after he took office.

“As a Norwegian politician in Norway, a country bordering Russia, I have developed a working relationship with Russia,” he said. “And we were able also during the coldest period of the Cold War to work with Russia on issues like fishery, energy, environment.”

When Stoltenberg was chosen for the position earlier this year, Russian President Vladimir Putin told Russian State TV that he had “very good relations, including personal relations” with the former Norwegian premier.

“This is a very serious, responsible person,” President Putin said, “but we’ll see how our relations develop with him in his new position.”

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

Russian ambassador anticipates ‘liberation’ of Mariupol in Ukraine

September 5th, 2014
03:12 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

Pro-Russian separatists will “liberate” the eastern Ukrainian city of Mariupol, Russia's Permanent Representative to the OSCE, Andrey Kelin, anticipated in an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour Friday.

Ukrainian forces are working to fortify the city; they claim that Russian intelligence groups have been spotted in the area.

Mariupol is “the second-biggest city in Donetsk Oblas, probably, and I believe that they are going to liberate,” Kelin said.

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

NATO: Judge Russia by actions, not words

September 5th, 2014
02:00 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

As Ukraine and Pro-Russian separatists agreed to a ceasefire in eastern Ukraine, the deputy NATO military commander said Moscow must be judged by its actions, not its words.

"If [the ceasefire] is the portent of a peaceful solution to this conflict in eastern Ukraine that's welcome news. But I think we need to judge things by actions and not by words,” General Adrian Bradshaw told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Friday.

“I'm afraid during this crisis in the past we've heard words said which haven't been reflected by actions on the ground. So we need to just ensure that people are being genuine here."

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Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Iraq • Russia • Ukraine

New Russia sanctions to be ‘deeper and more significant’

September 4th, 2014
02:38 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

A new round of Western sanctions against Russia, yet to be approved, will “be deeper and more significant” than those already on the books, Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Thursday.

The sanctions being discussed are “fairly substantial measures that are going to have fairly substantial impact on critical sectors of the Russian economy.”

Bildt would not go into further details about the measures, because they are still under discussion.

He spoke with Amanpour from Wales, where NATO is holding what is likely its most significant meeting since the end of the Cold War.

The military alliance is getting back to its roots – collective defense – as the West grapples with how to deal with a Russian intrusion into Ukraine and ISIS radical militants.

“We are trying to understand what can be done in order to stop the Russians,” Bildt said.

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Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Latest Episode • Russia

Russia is emotionally in Ukraine, its troops are not, says Russian MP

September 1st, 2014
03:33 PM ET

by Henry Hullah

NATO satellites, journalists on the ground and Ukrainian officials have all reported Russian troops in Ukrainian territory, but how much longer can Russia claim it has no military presence in Eastern Ukraine?

"Russia will say that until it really has some forces on the ground. As at this point, definitely we don’t have any." answered Russian Member of Parliament Vyacheslav Nikonov.

He told Michael Holmes, sitting in for Christiane Amanpour, that the Russian government had not been providing weapons, such as T-72 tanks which the MP insisted came from Hungary, to separatists and also had nothing to do with the current state of Ukraine.

"It is a completely domestic Ukrainian mess and people living there, in the eastern part of Ukraine, are mostly Russian. So I think it’s very understandable why Russia emotionally is there. Though Russian troops are definitely not there."

With high stakes and emotional investment in the dire situation of those in the Eastern Ukraine, the program asked what is the Russian Endgame here, do they want, as some believe, a land bridge to Crimea?

"The end game for Russia is of course a peaceful Ukraine, and Russian national security."

"In case of the Crimea, it was an immediate reaction of the people of the Crimea for reunification with their mother country, with Russia. "

"Crimeans never had any Ukrainian identity whatsoever. The people in Donetsk and Luhansk have maybe a little bit stronger Ukrainian identity, but it would be very hard for Kiev to convince them that they should stay inside Ukraine."

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Filed under:  Russia • Ukraine

Russia has 'imperial ambitions' says the top Ukrainian representative in London

August 28th, 2014
04:03 PM ET

by Henry Hullah

As the United Nations held an emergency meeting over reports of Russian troops in Ukrainian territory, Christiane Amanpour was joined by the top Ukrainian official in London, Andrii Kuzmenko, for analysis of what this could mean for his nation.

Amanpour asked what the diplomat was hoping for from the U.N meeting in New York.

"Since the sanctions that are already imposed against Russia we do have the terrible aggravation of the situation, it means that those sanctions are weak and insufficient. We are calling for a full stop of cooperation with the aggressor, for further tougher sanctions and further support of Ukraine."

"We are not at this stage asking for military assistance"

After what happened to Georgia in 2008, was he confident that Ukraine could defend itself against a potential Russian attack?

"This is a very new stage of conflict. We will halt the aggressor and I have no doubt we will defeat them but, for that reason we will need assistance from the West since we are fighting not just for territorial integrity of Ukraine."

"We are fighting against the war in Europe that could explode the continent."

'It is inappropriate to tolerate the use of force in the 21st century'

Kuzmenko  was  unrelenting in a powerful attack on the Russian government's behavior in this conflict. He told the program that he believed Putin's Russia was acting in a manner befitting the "19th century."

"We are witnessing another war crime," he told Amanpour. "Just due to the certain imperial ambitions."

Summing up Russia's actions, the diplomat said, "We should remember the war started with imperial ambitions and will end with shame for the nation."


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

Aid or invasion? Russia and Ukraine officials battle it out over convoy on live TV

August 13th, 2014
04:21 PM ET

By Henry Hullah

A convoy of 280 Russian trucks are heading towards Ukrainian border. Russian officials say they are full of aid desperately needed for relief efforts in Eastern Ukraine, officials across the border are not so optimistic.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk has come out strongly against the convoy said the move is "cynical," and that "it would be better for Russia to send 300 empty Kamaz trucks to take their bandits back. Then there would be no need to send humanitarian aid."

Russian officials have insisted the move is to deliver humanitarian aid to areas in need.

Oleksandr Scherba, the Ambassador-at-Large to the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry, echoed the view of his Prime Minister on the program:

"Of course we are very distrustful of Russia's intentions from the very beginning Russia didn't show any goodwill whatsoever."

"But on the other hand," Scherba stated, "The humanitarian situation on the ground is very desperate, very difficult. We are not in the kind of situation to be very adamant about sending back anything we receive even from the nation that is behaving in a really hostile manner."

When questioned by Hala Gorani, sitting in for Christiane Amanpour, about why there has been no coordination with red cross, Konstantin Dolgov, the Russian Foreign Ministry's Special Representative for Human Rights, rebutted "I am amazed to hear that it hasn't been coordinated. From what has been said many times, not just by Russian officials, all the details, all the parameters of this humanitarian convoy have been meticulously discussed and agreed upon by: Russia, Ukraine, the International Committee for the Red Cross."

"As far as I understand he [Scherba] works in the Foreign Ministry" the special representative went on to say. "The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry has officially, by sending a reply note to the Russian Foreign Ministry, has confirmed that all the details of that humanitarian convoy have been agreed upon. Once they have confirmed that all the details have been agreed upon. This was a very precise official reaction."

"The green light was on in Kiev."

Ukraine's Ambassador-at-large responded: "Nobody except for Moscow knows about that meticulous discussion."

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Filed under:  Latest Episode • Russia • Ukraine
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