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‘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.”

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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.”

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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

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.”

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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."

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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."

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Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Russia • Ukraine

Would a referendum vote end Ukraine crisis?

April 14th, 2014
05:49 PM ET

In Russia's parliament there was just one lone voice who stood against the annexation of Crimea. Now lawmaker Ilya Ponomarev tells CNN's Christiane Amanpour a national referendum in Ukraine is the answer to the crisis.

Click above to watch the full interview.


Filed under:  Latest Episode • Russia • Ukraine

Ukraine: We need world's help

April 14th, 2014
05:22 PM ET

Ukraine's ambassador to the United Nations, Yuriy Sergeyev, tells CNN's Christiane Amanpour that an anti-terrorism operation is underway in eastern Ukraine, and says it's "very difficult" to predict Russian president Vladimir Putin's behavior, because "we are operating within the frames of human logic... but he performs in a different way".

Click above to watch the interview in full.


Filed under:  Russia • Ukraine

Russian Senator: West always thinks the worst of us

April 10th, 2014
02:49 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

As pro-Russian unrest flares in eastern Ukraine, a Russian senator took his country’s case to the international stage on CNN Thursday, saying Moscow has a “very different” vision of the situation than the West.

“Of course somebody in Western countries maybe prefer to see just bad grace from Russia,” Andrey Klimov, member of the Russian Federation Council, said. “But the situation is quite different.”

“We are thinking only about peaceful exit from this situation, which now happened unfortunately in Ukraine.”

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Russia defends intervention

CNN's Fred Pleitgen, in for Christiane Amanpour, speaks with Russian Senator Andrey Klimov.

Pro-Russian protesters are occupying a government building in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk, demanding more independence from Kiev.

Some are concerned that after Russia’s annexation of Crimea, the country may intervene in eastern Ukraine as well.

“Well, first of all, we are looking at this country as our neighbor country,” Klimov said.

In a telling exchange, though, Klimov emphasized the fact that Ukraine – a former Soviet republic – does not have a long history as a sovereign country.

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Filed under:  Latest Episode • Russia • Ukraine

Russia ‘financing subversion’ in Ukraine, Poland accuses

April 8th, 2014
03:09 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

Russia is “financing subversion [in Ukraine] using the pretext of ethnic problems,” Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski told CNN’s Fred Pleitgen, in for Christiane Amanpour, in an interview on Tuesday.

Those alleged ethnic problems, Sikorski said, “are non-existent.”

Pro-Russian protesters seized government buildings in three eastern Ukrainian cities – Donetsk, Luhansk, and Kharkiv – on Sunday.

Rebels occupying Donetsk's regional government building Monday declared a "people's republic" and called for a referendum on secession from Ukraine to be held by May 11.

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Strong talk from Poland on Ukraine

CNN's Fred Pleitgen, in for Christiane Amanpour, speaks with Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski about Ukraine.

“In Crimea and in east Ukraine everybody speaks Russian. The media are Russian and until now there were no ethnic problems there.”

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Filed under:  Latest Episode • Russia • Ukraine

FIRST ON CNN: Ukraine warns Russia in phone call: Don’t invade

April 7th, 2014
03:34 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

Ukraine’s Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs, Andrii Deshchytsia, warned Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in a phone call on Monday not to invade his country.

“I expressed our concern about the situation,” Deshchytsia told CNN’s Fred Pleitgen, sitting in for Christiane Amanpour. “I also warned him not to use any military force to protect Russians in eastern Ukraine, since we have enough power to protect Russian-speaking [people].”

“We both agreed that we have to deploy all necessary means to deescalate [the] situation.”

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Ukraine envoy details talks with Russia

CNN's Fred Pleitgen speaks with Ukraine's Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs Andrii Deshchytsia.

Pro-Russian protesters have seized state buildings in several eastern Ukrainian cities, prompting accusations from Kiev that Moscow is trying to "dismember" the country and carry out a replay of Crimea.

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Filed under:  Latest Episode • Russia • Ukraine
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