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Former Ukraine leader calls for 'strongest means' against Russia if diplomacy fails

March 3rd, 2014
02:43 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

(CNN) - If diplomacy fails to persuade Russia to withdraw its forces from the Ukrainian region of Crimea, the world should apply the "strongest means" on Russia, former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko told CNN's Christiane Amanpour in an exclusive interview Monday.

Amanpour asked Tymoshenko if she was calling for the West to use military force against Russia.

She would not directly answer the question, saying that she "cannot solve this issue," but she issued an appeal to help Ukraine.

"I am asking all the world, personally every world leader, to use all the possibilities in order to avoid Ukraine losing Crimea."

Ex-prime minister calls on world to act

Russia has complete "operational control" over Crimea, a senior U.S. official has told CNN.

This was Tymoshenko's first international interview since her release from prison just over a week ago, following a truce between then-President Viktor Yanukovych and the opposition. She spent
the last years behind bars on what the West called politically motivated charges.

Ukraine is just "one step" away from war, Tymoshenko said.

The Russian Duma, or parliament, has started debate on "the draft of the law of annexation of Crimea from Ukraine," she told Amanpour.

The Duma website confirms that a draft law has been put forward on defining the process whereby a country or territory can seek to be annexed by Russia.

Tymoshenko on Russian draft annex bill

If "Ukraine is left on its own and is given to Russia," Tymoshenko said from Kiev, "then the world will change."

"Not only politics and life in Ukraine will change - the politics and life will change practically everywhere in the world."

She called on the world's superpowers to bring a solution to the crisis.

Russia issued an ultimatum to Ukrainian forces in Crimea to clear out by Tuesday morning or face a "military storm," Ukrainian officials said Monday. But a spokesman for the Russian Black Sea Fleet said there are no plans to storm Ukrainian military units in Crimea, according to the Interfax news agency.

Earlier, Russia rejected accusations that it was acting aggressively toward Ukraine.

"We call for a responsible approach, to put aside geopolitical calculations, and above all to put the interests of the Ukrainian people first," Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said at a U.N. human rights meeting in Geneva, Switzerland.

Ukraine's new interim government has mobilized troops and called up military reservists, but Tymoshenko said her country did not want a repeat of Russia's 2008 war with the country of Georgia over the separatist territories of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

"We are perfectly aware of the balance of forces between Russia and Ukraine," she said. "We cannot put people to death."

Russia's military dwarfs Ukraine's - with 845,000 total troops in 2012 versus Ukraine's 130,000 - and Russia spends nearly 50 times as much on its military.

"Every response to Russian aggression will be used by the aggressor just to destroy Ukraine," Tymoshenko said.

She said Russia was issuing an ultimatum to Ukraine to reinstall the former, Russia-sympathetic President Yanukovych in order to stop the aggression.

She said that the return of the "corrupted" and "blood-stained" leader was "not acceptable."

"All Ukraine is against it," she said. "All Ukraine will not support it."

Even those in eastern Ukraine, she told Amanpour, are against the aggression.

"Both east, west - they're united. They don't want war. They want stability and peace, and they're against the aggression."

Amanpour asked Tymoshenko, arguably the most powerful politician in Ukraine right now, whether she plans to once again run in an election to lead her country.

"Every day, every minute, we live with one thing: We're losing Ukraine. Nobody is talking politics here. Nobody talks about elections here."

Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Latest Episode • Ukraine
soundoff (50 Responses)


    March 3, 2014 at 3:44 pm | Reply
    • Elena

      Why Tymoshenko is now Ukraine and does not support his people at this difficult time?Why not toured the region to resolve the crisis?" you can imagine that the US President Barack Obama was in another country in the crisis situation in their country?

      March 4, 2014 at 2:10 am | Reply
      • Matthew

        Tymoshenko is no more official Ukrainian authority.She is no more PM she is no more government member.
        And i have doubts about Ukrainians trust to Tymoshenko.

        March 8, 2014 at 8:59 am |
  2. Daniel

    Ukraine are not fighters. During world War 2 they got taken over by Germany. Only way they survived was by being very good "hosts" to the Germans. Till Russia finally showed up and drove the Germans out.

    March 3, 2014 at 3:53 pm | Reply
    • Brian

      You do know that Ukrainians fought both the Nazis and Soviets, the latter into the 1950s? And after WWI they fought against the Poles, White Russians, Reds and the French. They know how to fight, unfortunately they are always sandwiched between super powers and rarely have allies.

      March 3, 2014 at 10:01 pm | Reply
    • jeffrey oviatt

      are you kidding? Ukraine fought with Germany! Germany liberated Ukraine from the the communists. there was an entire Waffen SS legion of Ukrainians. to this day the Ukrainians still keep up the SS and German graves.the Ukrainians fought the Russians until the mid 50s alongside over 10,000 germans who stayed behind after the war.Stepan Bandera led these men.

      March 4, 2014 at 2:46 pm | Reply
  3. Yalom

    Daniel, use Wiki and teach yourself some history.

    March 3, 2014 at 4:17 pm | Reply
    • Mike

      no university professor in the world would allow wiki as a research tool. Automatic F

      March 3, 2014 at 4:29 pm | Reply
      • Clavers

        Wiki is fine as long as you use it intelligently. There is all sorts of stuff on there from all sorts of people, but in most cases you can go to the source material and check the evidence behind the opinions.

        March 4, 2014 at 4:27 am |
  4. Mike

    Tymoshenko is almost as big a liar as Amanpour. just disgusting.

    March 3, 2014 at 4:28 pm | Reply
    • Bob C.

      Think on the Russian Navy in San Diego harbor

      March 3, 2014 at 4:44 pm | Reply
    • barney

      You are right. This woman is not for Ukraine. She has been compromised by the US in their bid to thwart diplomatic relations between Russia and Ukraine. The private interests who control politicians in America are very strategic and have been using espionage and buying rebel factions to overthrow governments for them throughout the middle east and europe. It is the perfect smoke screen to use "liberation of people" as an excuse to take over a country from within.

      If most of the citizens were interviewed you'd realize that it is a small faction who have been staging these rebellions. The Syrian crisis is no different with the US arming and training terrorists in order to oust the government under the guise of freedom and liberation of oppressed people.

      March 7, 2014 at 9:45 am | Reply
  5. Bob C.

    A brief history, the mid-east, Georgia, Iran, Syria, demographics and politics be damned. When can human beings just live their lives in peace. Governments elected or otherwise care for and secure that state, peace and maintain it. Ever wondered what governments spend each year on the military hardware and technology? You don't want to know. Government brinkmanship against government brinkmanship protecting government brinkmanship. Ever wondered what it would be like if they had all their balls in one basket and the people said, 'That's Enough'. Think on that!
    Bob C.

    March 3, 2014 at 4:41 pm | Reply
    • Clavers

      When all countries are controlled by their people. Have you noticed that virtually of the armed conflicts around the world are wars between two democracies? War between the US and Canada is unthinkable. Similarly among the countries of the EU.

      Look at all the wars and you will find one side, or perhaps both sides, a dictator who seeks power at the expense of his people, or a terrorist organisation that aspires to be dictators.

      March 4, 2014 at 4:34 am | Reply
    • barney

      Bob the biggest profiteers of war and military arms are America and Russia. Don't be fooled the very same weapons used to oppress people in africa and the middle east are sold to tyrants with the full knowledge of the american and russia governments. When there are human rights violations that make the news. The same american businessmen loan the government the money they made in weapons sales to fund relief efforts at exhorbitant interest rates at the taxpayers expense. We live in a world controlled by very greedy and heartless people. Elections allows us to pick the lesser of the evils but it doesn't change the system or who controls it.

      Did you know that old man Rockefeller funded the German war machine during WWII? Did you know that he was instrumental in forming the UN which was supposed to prevent that kind of war from ever happening again? DO you realize the the news media owned by his family only tells the population what they want them to know and that the US has been the biggest terrorist in the world for decades unbeknownst to it's citizens?

      When the US moves into a sovereign country where they have geopolitical interests the "corporate" news media calls it protecting freedom and US interests. When Russia or anyone else does it it's called an act of agression. I'm a US citizen but I am also honest when I say I don't believe that we had any right interfering in Iraq, Afganistan, Syria, Libya and we sure had no right interfering in Ukraine and helping rebels overthrow a duly elected government whose only crime was to be sympathetic to Russia (the US archenemy).

      March 7, 2014 at 9:54 am | Reply
      • Harvy Xu

        You have said something that's very realistic to the truth, the same thing happened in Tibet, China, when CIA trained a bunch of Tibetans into fighting against the Chinese communist rule over Tibet. I don't support CCP, but the territorial issue in China had nothing to do first with that terrible and hateful regime and it had everything to do with the old British people who wanted to separate China and Tibet. So there is always something you don't like about U.S. politics I guess.

        March 9, 2014 at 12:15 pm |
  6. Sam the Sam

    Tymoshenko is, as the other Ukrainian politicians, first of all a clan leader, not a party leader and a politician. She was imprisoned for similar reasons as the now ousted president is accused of. They are in first place looking for financial benefits for their own clan. And fight between "politicians" is fight between clans. Here Tymoshenko attempts to affect listeners with her looks and lies about "all Ukrainians" standing against Russians. This simply isn't the case. What she should do is to call Russia for talks, and solve issues peacefully. Now she just throws gasoline into fire. Do that to Russians and they answer the same way.

    March 3, 2014 at 4:43 pm | Reply
  7. Matt

    Russia shape the narrative and in many ways it is a self fulfilling prophecy, the more brutal the conflict the more brutal the players. You can see this in Syria, they cry wolf or shape the narrative al-Qaida and now al-Qaida is there and Assad is seen the lesser evil by many. Foreign fighters is another issue. All these will happen in Ukraine maybe some Nazi's, regardless mass graves, expats foreign fighters returning to fight. All of a sudden Vladimir is seen as the lesser evil and the west dump Ukraine. You can see where all this going.

    March 3, 2014 at 5:12 pm | Reply
  8. Roelof

    That corrupt biaatch should be hanged. Russia is completely depending on Europe and European way of energy consumer behavior. There's nobody living in the East of Russia and China prefers using oil from countries like SA, Iran, Angola and others. No way Russia is going to compete over there. Means the ONLY customer is Europe. The big mistake Putin is making, is by thinking EU-citizens don't have any alternatives for Russian gas (microwaves, electric cooking plates/ovens, electric cars, electric boilers etc). I hope Russian would cut off the EU (at least for 2 weeks), that would create an enormous amount of jobs in the EU. Of course I'm telling that from a country that has it's own gas-supply. The only one that's isolating themselves are the Russian. We European are the only customer (also world wide innovative continent), that already has got alternatives. But hey a switch like that, that would leave Crimea and the Middle East worthless.

    March 3, 2014 at 5:37 pm | Reply
  9. Roelof

    The only way to fight Russia, is by building thorium reactors in Europe and tax gas to the limit. Force consumers to change their consumer habits in something less Russia and ME political pressurious.

    March 3, 2014 at 5:45 pm | Reply
  10. Roelof

    Crimea is only worth something, because of the European energy consumer behavior. Same as Syria. Without our interests, we even would turn SA stock in Western companies into toiletpaper.

    March 3, 2014 at 5:54 pm | Reply
  11. Roelof

    Little bit oard that Putin cut Crimea off gas, and let them freeze to death, while they're now supporting them as "ethnic" Russian that need their protection (Black fleet and ME strategic position).

    March 3, 2014 at 6:06 pm | Reply
  12. Demo

    Tymoshenko is a criminal

    March 3, 2014 at 6:27 pm | Reply
  13. BOMBO

    I'm not usually an alarmist, but this could be the beginning of the end. Putin already got a free pass after the Georgia incursion a few years ago. Now he thinks he can do it any time he wants.

    March 3, 2014 at 8:46 pm | Reply
  14. BOMBO

    What will be the tipping point? Poland or Finland maybe? The Russians won't stop on their own.

    March 3, 2014 at 8:49 pm | Reply
  15. Lori

    Hopefully Russia will screw themselves as their economy continues to plummet, their companies continue to lose billions per day and their banks continue to close due to panic. In the meantime the US and all Western allies need to band together immediately, imposing sanctions and other non military resolutions in order to keep pounding Russia economically and force peace talks - someone needs to stand up with a big stick and knock the hell out of Putin since Obama appears to be a weakling.

    March 3, 2014 at 9:54 pm | Reply
  16. Roland

    It sounds like Tymoshenko is much more aggressive then Putin. In her speech I hear only negativeness, which is very bad from political point of view. How this woman could make decision for army? Why she points us, that it is our problem and makes threatens US that she will send troops to fight with Russia? So this woman has right to send people kill their brothers? There are 0 deaths in Crimea, people having referendum and nobody wants war. Basically this woman is ready to add 10000 more deaths for Maidan. Maybe it is time to stop this?

    March 3, 2014 at 10:28 pm | Reply
  17. George

    Timoshenko is billionaire , she was on Forbes list in 90's . All Russian gas in 1994-96 to Ukraine was going through
    her company . Russian Black sea flee is in Crimea for more than 200 years. it's Russians who fight with Osman Empire, France and England (Crimea war 1855 -56 ), Germany .... Ukraine had Crimea as a gift in 1954 from Nikita Khrushchev. Why Amanpour didn't ask Tymoshenko about Ukrainian nationalists patrolling Kiev and other cities
    in west Ukraine, or why new rulers on second day in power , passed law that removed Russian language as second
    official language , or why mob start to destroy Russian monuments (not just Lenin's ).
    An why people in Crimea are welcomed Russian army ?
    What will happened when people in Crimea will voted for union with Russia ?
    USA and Nato bomb Yugoslavia, chop off Kosovo from Serbia and give it to Albania Muslims.

    March 4, 2014 at 12:13 am | Reply
    • Roberto

      thank you for your comments and knowledges

      March 6, 2014 at 2:59 pm | Reply
    • Mariy


      March 8, 2014 at 10:26 am | Reply
  18. David Adamson

    People who used violence to over-trough the legitimate president now beg for diplomacy. Diplomacy will be served in a form of REFERENDUMS for INDEPENDENCE.

    March 4, 2014 at 1:58 am | Reply
  19. john g

    March 4, 2014 at 2:51 am | Reply
  20. dAVIF

    The West should be careful what they wish for ...this woman is a criminal...the blind hatred of the US towards Russia is going to result in an even worse situation for all concerned...

    March 4, 2014 at 3:21 am | Reply
  21. Reality Check

    Dear Christiane, next time you are on the subject, please ask:
    1. Why Timoshenko is the only one talking about war? No one else wants it.
    2. What does the international community think about a brewing humanitarian crisis caused by exodus of hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians to Russia? What aggressor are they running from?

    March 4, 2014 at 3:49 am | Reply
  22. Epie manfred

    Russia and china are all leaving in same shrine because their thoughts are full of evils.

    March 4, 2014 at 8:34 am | Reply
  23. Klaus Hu

    This time I had the feeling listening to an ultranationalist voice, and I claim some part of all media coverage, for not making the ultranationalist and mya be even fascist participation in the turmoils of Ukraine make transparent.

    March 4, 2014 at 4:20 pm | Reply
  24. gordon sherriff-smith

    I think Yulia Tymeshenko is the most brave, patriotic woman. She made a statement that America signed and made promise to, that it would militarily defend Ukraine if under threat. Well Mr Obama and EU where is you fullfillment of this signed agreement? I am so ashamed that we are going to stand by and do nothing that we promised our friends and allies. I hope the rest of the world is watching and learns they cannot trust their allies when in need due to fear.

    March 4, 2014 at 7:31 pm | Reply
  25. Elviv Son

    The situation is much more complex than the one you listen on TV and the one that Tymochenko explains. Actually there is no a black or white about the ethnics of Ukraine. Many people from the east do not speak Ukrainian and were brought to this region during Soviet times in order to work in mines, production sites, etc. Many of them have tight relationships with Russia. From the other side in the west, people are more Europeans even since the Austro-Hungarian empire times. If you compare even fiscally, people from the east and west look different, not to talk about religion that is different too.
    So what you are commenting above, you are all partly right. Many people from the west fought against the Nazis and many people from the west hosted them.
    As it comes to Crimea, it is even more complex. It was historically land of the Ottoman Empire and since back then, tribes of tartars were established there. The Soviets fought many fights to get Crimea due to its strategic point, and Russian military bases were established there since many years. During Stalin’s times, most of the tartars were expelled to Siberia. Khrushchev’s decided in the 50’s to give the autonomic control of Crimea to Kiev. That didn’t mean that Crimea had to become Ukrainian.
    Right now is a fight of power. You can see in many many interviews that the local people just want peace and respect to whatever their traditions are.

    March 5, 2014 at 4:53 am | Reply
  26. babazas

    she's only a pupet

    March 5, 2014 at 5:22 am | Reply
  27. franco

    Where are the US now, I forgot.. there is no petrol interests in Ukrania.

    March 5, 2014 at 10:32 am | Reply
  28. Max

    Timoshenko is a devil. She was accused of organization of murders, money laundering etc etc. People like her are the true enemies of the Ukrainian people.

    March 6, 2014 at 5:31 pm | Reply
  29. Trần Chí Thanh

    -Đại biểu nhân dân phải kêu gọi Nhân dân, không kêu gọi ngoại bang!
    -Hai nền kinh tế trong một thể thức chính trị.
    -Đề ra thông điệp rỏ ràng về một nhà nước liên bang.
    -Tẩy chay viện trợ quân sự ,nhận nhanh viện trợ kinh tế vận động.

    March 6, 2014 at 10:04 pm | Reply
  30. Trần Chí Thanh

    Sứ mệnh của Yulia Tymeshenko là nắm lấy vận mệnh của thỏa thuận bên trong do Bà khởi xướng và dẫn dắt ,chứ không phải là những thỏa thuận bên ngoài ,nơi Bà không có mặt.

    March 6, 2014 at 11:21 pm | Reply
  31. maksun

    Goblin News: Ukraine's Brown Revolution.

    March 8, 2014 at 6:50 am | Reply
  32. NNM

    She's a danger not only to Ukraine, but the world.
    She's basically asking for WW3.
    Why is EU & USA completely ignoring the fact that the "acting Ukrainian government" has not been elected, and has no legitimate democratic power? Just wait for the elections, Ukrainian majority must decide. Not Obama, not Hollande, not Kerry, and absolutely not the EU banks who just ruined Ukraine for the next 200 years.
    The "ousted" president is not a saint, but he would still win over these dangerous thugs. She's also ignoring the fact that if this referendum goes through, it would be a smashing victory for the people of Ukraine, who want to join Russia. The percentage would be so crushing... You can't ignore what the people want: to join Russia, and be rid of all these political gangsters. After Crimea, other regions would follow.
    EU, USA, if you really believe in democracy: WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!

    March 9, 2014 at 12:22 am | Reply
    • NNM

      Most of the people were born Russian; if not, their parents; if not, their grandparents were WW2 heroes from Russia,...
      Please, EU, USA, Russia: just – let – them – have – elections.
      Stop pretending this "acting government" has ANY democratic value whatsoever. And stop the banks from lending them money, until this is resolved. You're destroying Ukraine, beyond any hope of recovery.

      March 9, 2014 at 12:38 am | Reply
  33. ButtHead

    Just recently ethnic Ukrainian woman Valentina Matvienko who is now the head of the Russian Senate signed the approval to use Russian troops on Ukrainian territory and ethnic Russian Woman Yulia Timoshenko called for American military intervention in support of Ukraine. The world is crazy.

    March 9, 2014 at 5:29 am | Reply
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