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'Donbass has always been and is part of Ukraine,' says former Ukrainian official

December 19th, 2014
06:03 PM ET

By Madalena Araujo, CNN

A key minister under Ukraine’s ousted President Viktor Yanukovych told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour in an interview that aired Thursday that “Donbass has always been and is part of Ukraine.”

The now self-proclaimed republics of Donetsk and Luhansk in Ukraine’s eastern Donbass region have been the worst hit areas by the conflict in the country, which started after Russia annexed Crimea in March.

“I think the Eastern Donbass should decide for themselves where they should belong. What is important is to hear Donbas today, its decision, its voice should be important,” Oleksandr Klymenko, Former Ukrainian Minister of Revenues and Duties, told Amanpour.

“But it's important to note that Donbas is not against Ukraine. But Donbass is not happy with the government in the last 23 years. The government has been - is the key perpetrator of everything that's happened. This is what they should be held responsible for.”

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

War of words over Russian policy

November 20th, 2014
03:35 PM ET

There is ostensibly a ceasefire in Ukraine, but since the Minsk Accord was signed in September, the OSCE says it's been breached some two and a half thousand times. There have been more than 4,000 deaths since April, according to the U.N..

As the deadly battle unfolds on the ground, a heated propaganda war is also being waged. Russia recently launched its “Sputnik” offensive, a new state-run international media outlet named after the soviet space program. This follows long time Kremlin-funded RT and other, state-run TV.

Christiane Amanpour on Thursday spoke with opposing views on the subject – Former Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov and RT Host Anissa Naouai.

Click above to watch.


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

Lithuania appeals for stronger stance against Russia

November 18th, 2014
06:51 PM ET

By Henry Hullah, CNN

NATO and Western sanctions are not doing enough to deter the Russian policies that they were made to target, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius told CNN's Christiane Amanpour on Tuesday.

“We are reacting, in my view, a bit too slowly and missing targets because we have this list of so-called targeted persons - but more than half of them have nothing to do with the decision making process in Russia.”

“We’re really not acting enough in my view.”

The Baltic nations of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia are a lot closer to the issue than other NATO members. They are tiny neighbors to a giant, and increasingly aggressive, Russia.

Even as the interview came to air there was news of Lithuanian fighter jets having to scramble to intercept Russia fighter jets that flew close to Baltic air space.

“Yes, they scramble, they react when it’s necessary,” Linkevicius told the program.

“Often the Russians are not violating any rules,”

“They can fly over the neutral waters, they can fly by the border - but look, I would compare it with the car moving along the highway without lights at two hundred miles per hour.”

“It’s really very dangerous. It’s not just increasing tensions but also a threat to civilization.”

With incidents requiring the scrambling of Lithuanian jets becoming no less frequent, what action can be taken to encourage Putin to abandon these policies?

So far sanctions have punished the Russian economy, fueling the dramatic fall of the Ruble, but they haven’t deterred the Russian policy that they’ve been targeting. What can be done in the Baltics and beyond?
“We have to stay united.”

“It’s really the only way to keep the pressure, and on the other hand we have to help the Ukrainian government because they are facing aggression from the outside. It’s a not a civil war as some are trying to present. It’s from outside. It wouldn't help them to seal the border.”

“It’s very difficult to discuss these issues, to negotiate, when you are denying what is obvious and sometimes some lies are spread and this is dangerous.”

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Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Latest Episode • Russia

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
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