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Putin phone call convinced Yanukovych to change attitude, says Polish foreign minister

February 26th, 2014
03:19 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

A phone call between former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and Russian President Vladimir Putin may have been the deciding factor in the Ukrainian leader changing his "attitude" towards the protests in Kiev, Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Wednesday.

Sikorski was intimately involved in the negotiations that brought a truce between Yanukovych and the Ukrainian opposition, and gave Amanpour an insider’s view of the talks.

“President Yanukovych left us several times to talk to [U.S.] Vice President Biden, [German] Chancellor Merkel, and indeed President Putin,” Sikorski said. “One of the breakthroughs was when we said, ‘Well look, Mr. President, you have to declare to the opposition by when you agree for new presidential elections to be held, by when do you intend to shorten your term of office.’”

“He was very reluctant, as you might imagine,” Sikorski said. “His attitude changed after one of the conversations, we think, with President Putin.”

Polish FM on Ukraine future

Sikorski told Amanpour he was “not privy” to the conversation, and does not know what Putin said to convince Yanukovych so suddenly.

The Ukrainian opposition leader Arseniy Yatsenyuk was named as the nominee for Ukraine interim prime minister on Wednesday, just days after Yanukovych fled the capital.

Sikorski called Yatsenyuk, a former foreign minister, “experienced,” “respected,” and “very competent.”

He is “certainly someone we can do business with, and someone who will have the confidence of the West, but also the ability to speak to Russia, which is very important.”

Ukraine’s interim government will face a slew of problems, including unrest in the Russia-sympathetic east and south of the country, and a financial situation that the acting president described Tuesday as “sliding into the abyss.”

“Ukraine is definitely in a crisis. Let’s hope it doesn’t deepen.”

“But Ukraine now has a chance to stabilize its institutions, to start reform, get the second tranche of IMF money, elect a new president, sign an association agreement with Europe, and become a better country.”


Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Latest Episode • Russia • Ukraine
soundoff (58 Responses)
  1. joe

    That coward needed no convincing to run away at the first opportunity.

    February 26, 2014 at 4:45 pm | Reply
    • Mike Mangas

      I agree Joe yet I think Putin really authorized the murders of the Ukrainian citizens that is a Putin move ! just my opinion but check the phone records , he ran right to Putins arms

      February 27, 2014 at 8:21 am | Reply
      • marsilius

        Why would Putin first "authorize" a murderous crackdown against the protesters, and then turn around and convince Yanukovych to yield to the protesters a truce that actually was very favorable to them?

        February 27, 2014 at 10:02 am |
    • Joline

      A Blog says that he was being accused of war crimes and they attempted to arrest him, He left his country to avoid having to face charges, he is a coward.

      However , my theory is that Putin told him to run away so that he (Puin) would cunjure up an excuse to invade Crimea.

      March 18, 2014 at 7:31 pm | Reply
  2. Bob

    right putin told him he was a dead man if he didn't listen

    February 26, 2014 at 5:17 pm | Reply
  3. Jesse Franklin

    It's all about Putin protecting Crimea and Sevastopol, Russia's Black Fleet home turf which Russia leases from the Ukraine. it would be a terrible setback to Russia's Black Sea Fleet, if they lost this unique territorial waters which their ships can navigate through the Bosphorus Straits, then onto the Sea of Marmara then through the Dardanelles Straits, into the Aegean Sea and then into the Mediterranean Sea and onto the coast of Turkey, Lebanon, Syria, Israel Libya and to Egypt and to other places in North Africa and other Mediterranean Sea nations. This invaluable route give Russia's Black Sea Fleet quick access to the Suez Canal too.

    February 26, 2014 at 5:49 pm | Reply
    • sachin

      I think u are mistaken. Novorossisk, sochi are all on the black sea nd provide the same access u have mentioned. Sevastapol and the crimea have more historical and sentimental attachment to Russia.... 70 percent of people living in the crimea are ethnic russians

      February 26, 2014 at 10:05 pm | Reply
      • Oskar

        The problem is, that Novorossisk, Sochi have no naval bases. Until a new one in Novorossisk is built, Russia will not leave Crimea.

        February 27, 2014 at 3:57 am |
    • John

      Why is Sevastopol and Ukraine crucially important to Russia? Russia has its own coastline on the Black Sea. Why can't they use that for their Naval bases?

      February 27, 2014 at 10:00 am | Reply
      • John

        OK. I see your other reply. I understand. This really does explain more about why Russia needs Ukraine. Do you think that Russia will start building a base soon?

        February 27, 2014 at 10:03 am |
  4. yep

    Putin told him he was on his own, I guess. Then the dude ran.

    February 26, 2014 at 6:49 pm | Reply
  5. RLTJ's

    "But by Wednesday, the ambassador was more adamant about the conflict in his country. He told CBS News, through his spokesman, Ehor Pivovarov, that "all attempts by Russia to destabilize the Crimean peninsula are a waste of time"

    I think that further defines what he is, or who he works for, or who he thinks he works for, without him conflicting his earlier statements. A conflict in his earlier statements with the new Ukrainian powers might probably be a recall.

    Quotation is from CBS report. I seem to have trouble with their comment system.

    February 26, 2014 at 8:07 pm | Reply
  6. zzzzzzzzzzz

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=azjldwmIyOE

    February 26, 2014 at 8:10 pm | Reply
  7. necronicus

    " financial situation that the acting president described Tuesday as “sliding into the abyss.”"

    Nothing new there. Despite media disinformation to the contrary, Yanukovich was honestly intent on a deal with the EU (and was going to ignore Russias' protests) but the EU insisted in allowing the IMF to impose its "structural reforms" prerequisite before much-needed aid could be delivered, and the aid itself way much less in value that the costs to Ukraine from implemented the demanded reforms. Russia offered 3x the cash, plus gas price reductions, and with no strings attached. Yanukovich had no choice but to accept.

    Things have not changed. Ukraine is still in huge financial trouble, and the Russian lifeline is on hold awaiting the conduct of the new regime. I cannot see the EU/IMF forgoing its usual demagoguery and handing out cash without strings, and the US is in no better position.

    Out of the frying pan, and into the fire.....

    February 26, 2014 at 9:36 pm | Reply
  8. olim

    Amanpour just needs to s...up!! So much propaganda regarding Sochi olympic, Russia and putin, CNN needs some break and fresh journalists to remain floating!! Just relax!!

    February 26, 2014 at 10:47 pm | Reply
    • Jeff

      There are no real journalists today. They're all tabloid fodder with no integrity or credibility.

      February 27, 2014 at 10:05 am | Reply
  9. KEVIN

    Why would Putin do this? It is either not true or he has something up his sleeve

    February 27, 2014 at 1:03 am | Reply
  10. Bob

    oh please, it's always that phone call. its not like hundreds were killed.

    February 27, 2014 at 1:20 am | Reply
  11. jianfei

    yeh! right, that's just propaganda to save face. either way Russian troops are massing in Crimea.

    February 27, 2014 at 2:40 am | Reply
  12. Eurocinik

    http://www.eurocinik.com/yanukovych-crapped

    February 27, 2014 at 4:48 am | Reply
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    http://www.eurocinik.com/%D1%8F%D0%BD%D1%83%D0%BA%D0%BE%D0%B2%D0%B8%D1%87-%D0%BF%D0%B0%D1%81%D0%BA%D1%83%D0%B4%D0%B8%D0%B2

    February 27, 2014 at 4:49 am | Reply
  14. alberto

    Maybe President Putin should have a talk with Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela to help in this way his goverment find avenues to reach an agreement with the opposition,and put this country on the right track again.

    February 27, 2014 at 6:27 am | Reply
  15. thupa

    Is the Bear really back? Let it rip!

    February 27, 2014 at 8:38 am | Reply
  16. brian

    and "...sign an association agreement with Europe"

    That is at the heart of these so called protests. Europe wants Ukraine's resources and a source of cheap labor. Next step will be austerity measures and in a year or two the people who blindly supported the protesters will be wondering why their pants are around their ankles.

    February 27, 2014 at 9:20 am | Reply
  17. Zappo15

    Good luck to Ukraine. Another Syria in the making. A country full of hate and dissatisfaction. If Obama were smart, and he isn't, he would stay out of this conflict.

    February 27, 2014 at 9:50 am | Reply
  18. Jeff

    It's a complete sham that all these countries that have been around for centuries have to do this BS called reforms, fresh starts and ETC. The citizens of the countries should be going after the heads of the past governments for raping their countries.

    February 27, 2014 at 10:04 am | Reply
  19. rupert

    Da bears

    March 1, 2014 at 5:05 am | Reply
  20. mahendra

    Already Senate approved Putin unanimously to use military in Ukraine and request of running Anterior Minister a day before to Moscow be also seen.Putin has also sought approval for military use in Crimea and Russian are already in place.Yanukovych was in Sanatorium near Moscow and still defiant. to say that he is the President. & he didn't order shooting.

    March 1, 2014 at 11:46 am | Reply
  21. Christopher Roy Tower

    Hello, first I want to thank Putin for following the declaration road in starting his guard in a different country. However war is silly and if leaders of the world have not yet learned a way to avoid them well its time for massive change. If anything they should have declared it should have been done years ago on the one country that time and time again enters countries without declarations of war to look for "terrorists". Souloutin, the solution to all war and all crime really is providing a thriving situation for all occupants of Earth.
    Sincerely
    Chris T.

    March 3, 2014 at 2:13 pm | Reply
  22. jeffersonchenko

    Just watched a CNN broadcast with Christine Amanpour, Blitzer and in my opinion, some idiot guy who thinks he knows something about Ukraine.
    Christine is the only one of the three that knew what she was talking about. She pointed out that the Ukrainian people had decided what they wanted. The other two, complete idiots, keep making the Ukrainian change in government to be a U.S./West versus Russian struggle. I lived and worked in Ukraine for over 10 years. That struggle of Ukrainian people was SIGNIFICANTLY only a struggle by the Ukrainian people to be, and live free.

    March 3, 2014 at 6:12 pm | Reply
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