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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.”

Russia's red line for intervention

“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.”

Ukraine: The Russian perspective

In the southeastern Ukrainian city of Mariupol, a gang of 300 attacked a Ukrainian military base Thursday, leading to gunfire between the two sides. And in Slaviansk, pro-Russian militants are firmly in control.

Kiev and the West accuse Moscow of backing the pro-Russian protesters, and point to the 40,000 Russian troops that NATO says are assembled near the Ukrainian frontier.

“Ukraine now is not a functioning state. It doesn't have a real government. It doesn't have any law enforcement structures. It doesn't have the army because, you know, the army is now switching sides.”

The only chance to maintain unity, he said, is to enact constitutional reform to give eastern and southern Ukraine more autonomy.

“People in [the] south and east should be provided some very serious arguments why they should stay inside Ukraine because, you know, thirty miles from Kharkiv or from Donetsk or from Lugansk there is Russia, where pensions are paid, where salaries are paid, where living standards is four times higher than in Ukraine, and where people speak freely their Russian language.”

Those people “just want to live,” he told Amanpour, and have their rights respected.

The current interim president and prime minister “are nobody for the people in east and south,” he said.

A recent poll of Ukrainians, however, does not seem to back up Russia’s arguments.

According to a poll by the International Republican Institute, among Russian-speaking Ukrainians, 85% say they do not feel under threat because of their language.

And throughout the country, Ukrainians oppose having the Russian army protect Russian-speaking citizens – 61% in the east, 67% in the south, and 81% overall.

“We did not start this whole mess in Ukraine,” he said. “That was a regime change operation, with some American assistance, at least.”

“Victoria Nuland” – U.S. Assistance Secretary of State – “said about five billion U.S. dollars [was] spent to promote democracy in Ukraine, which is oftentimes a code word for regime change.”

Ethnic Russians living in Ukraine are not “puppets of the Russian Federation,” Nikonov said.

“They are threatened. They feel their families threatened, their lives threatened. And so at this situation, tell the people in the east to calm down? They will not do it.”

Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Latest Episode • Russia • Ukraine
soundoff (19 Responses)
  1. ashok

    A civilised separation may be better than prolonged conflict.

    April 17, 2014 at 4:42 pm | Reply
  2. Andre Boucle

    It's not a civilized separation, it's a separation at gun point. The gun in this case is the Russian propaganda machine (which is limitless considering the autocratic control the Kremlin has on Russian media) coupled with a looming military threat if the people of Ukraine do not give in to Putin's demands. The majority of Ukrainians, including those in the East and South, do not favor Russian intervention. Of any kind. Mostly because Russia is the main force insidiously at work toward destabilizing their homeland. That's a fact. Putin can call the sky purple until his face turns blue (erm, excuse me, purple) but he's still chock full of excrement. The only humanitarian issue he's ever cared about is how to line his coffers and those of his crony supporters. In this case by keeping Ukraine, and all former Soviet satellites, out of the EU and NATO.

    April 17, 2014 at 8:40 pm | Reply
    • You are not there

      You have no idea, because you are not from there. So why you don't shut up!
      Putin will pay for Criemea, but US and EU will pay for rest of Ukriane – good luck with this corrupt folk.

      April 20, 2014 at 7:10 pm | Reply
  3. Kelly

    So let me get this straight. After hours of talks, Russian propaganda is still trolling, re-enforcing their lies? Well I guess Russia has miscalculated the newest Pro-Russian moves coming out of Eastern Ukraine, where Jews have to register... Apparently because of some vote back in the 1940s.. There are very few people alive, that would actually remember this voting, and the only ones who would know about it would have been in the USSR... The youngest would be 90 years old now...

    I think it is high time to stop listening to Russia's mouths... They talk out both sides and haven't made any sense in the past 6 months..

    Ukraine will not split up because the people of Ukraine do not want it split up.. Oh and why do all these "Pro Russians" have to keep wearing balaclavas? It isn't that cold there...

    April 17, 2014 at 9:17 pm | Reply
    • Elis

      come to kharkov, Donetsk, Lugansk. andu will understand how thingsgo on and who lies. wish u not to taste facsism and nazi at your home. we in ukrania dont want to liveunderthem...they have already started to kill people just because they speak russian... they in Kiev started war against millions of their citizens!!!

      April 18, 2014 at 6:51 am | Reply
    • amanpourlies

      You Americans love to speak of 'Russian propaganda' yet have no clue that there is plenty of American propaganda being thrown around too, this whole "Jews need to register" thing is just one example. It is a lie that has already been proved as such by a PRO-JEWISH GROUP LOCATED IN EASTERN UKRAINE. Notice how the story is gone from CNN as quietly as it appeared? The aim was for people to associate Russia with the Nazis. What has been one of the biggest criticisms of the U.S in all this so far? That they are supporting Neo-Nazis in the new Ukrainian 'government'. Now suddenly John Kerry says that the Pro-Russians want Jews to register? This is said after Putin has already been compared to Hitler by the west more than once. It is all just a little convenient, don't you think? Six companies own almost all news in the U.S.A, and individuals within those organisations are capable of dictating what will and will not be reported (Rupert Murdoch is a fine example of this). You really think in this day and age of politicians looking out for big business that propaganda isn't at play in America? In the West? Do you really believe that America is always the honest to goodness hero and that these other nations are always the evil that the U.S government portrays them to be? Amanpour is married to an ex-Presidential advisor and has never ever taken a stance that differs from the official U.S position on a given issue. Read closely at the way the writers on sites like CNN word their articles e.g. pro-Russian protestors are ALWAYS described as being armed (which may well be true) but there is always an emphasis on 'unarmed' when the Maidan protestors are mentioned (which isn't true). That's just one tiny example. Wake the hell up people. America is guilty of everything it accuses Russia of. Both are as bad as each other, and the sooner the citizens wake up and stop blaming the other side but rather hold their own accountable, the better off this world will be.

      April 18, 2014 at 10:44 am | Reply
  4. sikander

    I think the people from Lgansk,Donetsk, Kharkov have the right to decide for themselves whom the want to be governed by.Kiev should first get rid of Nazis,fashists from (their govt? )because not only the ordinary citizens dont want them but also EU has realised that these kind of people have no place in a democratic govt.

    April 18, 2014 at 7:31 am | Reply
  5. Uncle Sam

    Since the deal was signed with Russia for protestors to leave buildings, Once the Air force is given orders to start dropping bombs on buildings. Din't none of you protestors claim inacent people were killled because you refused to get out of the buildings. It's just called putting you in your place!

    April 18, 2014 at 2:55 pm | Reply
    • Sukhoi

      So your saying that Yanukovich should've bomb the protesters and put them in their place at the beginning becouse they refused to leave the streets ?

      April 18, 2014 at 4:16 pm | Reply
    • Awabnavi

      So then the Syrian Government is JUSTIFIED in bombing the "rebels" (terrorists)?

      April 20, 2014 at 11:09 am | Reply
  6. Людмила Бородейко

    Написано интересно. Но немного и о себе. Не секрет, в Белоруссии -видеонаблюдение. Я так и живу, глотаю слюну.В 2007 году я попала в эту "ловушку" – стала неугодной – впрочем, многе не могу доказать, потому что у меня редкие эпилептические приступы. Но по энцефалограмме в 2007 году была норма. Теперь болит даже иногда сердце, в день пью шесть таблеток – из них четыре валерьянки. Ведь я не выдумала о прослушках – читала Дж. Буша Законы о прослушивании и писала ему тоже. Вот что: Достоевский тоже писал при эпилепсии, почему не могу помнить и писать я, за что мне такая каторга, при которой сразу предупредили в кавычках по прослушкам – при этом такая беда: пью таблетки – попадаю в больницу, не пью – попадаю в больницу тем более. Запретила доктор пить кофе – даже очень слабый. Что еще: угрожают, что при прослушивании, видеонаблюдении таблетки пить нельзя, все – сайентологи. Но ведь пила таблетки и была нормальной, в газете работала, на телевидении, пишу, хоть знаю, что был в Лепеле инвалид-юноша Романовский, ему не дали учиться в институте, потом он умер – у меня с компьютера на рабочем столе пропала книга фантастики "Разноцветный город. Планета Альфа-Зэт. Пропадают рассказы. Даже на Самиздат не найти одной главы из этой книги и не найти рассказа Морзянка в зоне, в котором я писала о жизни людей в чернобыльской зоне. У меня в компьютере пять файлов, которые попали в него непонятным образом с названием Стратегия, где рассказ об американской экономике и секретаре Клинтон. Я уже не знаю, что это за такой "автономный интернет", почему , когда я пишу Альфа-P'n -вот что появляется даже на сайте этой газеты... С уважением, член Союза белорусских писателей, Сташка Гринич.

    April 19, 2014 at 10:15 am | Reply
    • Greg

      What a hideous language. Reminds me of Stalin and the gulag. Eh, Vlad, you thug!

      April 21, 2014 at 9:27 pm | Reply
  7. Людмила Бородейко

    Written interesting. But a little about myself . It is no secret in Belarus – surveillance . That's what I live, swallow slyunu.V 2007 I got into this " trap " – became inconvenient – however, many can not prove it , because I have a rare epileptic seizures . But on the electroencephalogram in 2007 was the norm . Now even hurts sometimes heart , the day I drink six tablets – four of them valerian . I'm not invented on wiretapping – read Bush Laws listening and wrote to him too. That's what Dostoevsky also wrote in epilepsy , why can not remember and I write for me so that servitude in which immediately warned quoted on Wiretapping – with such a disaster : the pill – I get to the hospital , I do not drink – I get to the hospital especially. Doctor banned drinking coffee – even very weak . What else : threatened that when listening , surveillance tablets can not drink all – Scientologists . But Saw pills and was normal in the newspaper worked on television, write, although I know that was in Lepel disability Romanovsky boy , he was not allowed to study in college, then he died – I have a computer on the desktop disappeared fiction book "Colorful city . Planet Alpha – Zet . Disappear stories. Even Samizdat not find one chapter of this book and did not find the story of Morse code in the area in which I wrote about the lives of people in the Chernobyl zone . I have five computer files that were it inexplicably called strategy , where the story of the American economy and Secretary Clinton. I do not know what kind of a " stand-alone Internet," why when I write Alpha -P'n- that's what appears on the site even this newspaper ... Sincerely, member of the Union of Belarusian Writers , Staszko Greenwich .

    April 19 , 2014 at 10:15 am | Reply

    April 19, 2014 at 10:17 am | Reply
  8. Awabnavi

    The US aided the "rebels" (not "terrorists" since they are pro-western) in Syria, Libya, etc. Those "rebels" were not Westerners yet the West aided them. Now if Russia is providing aid to FELLOW RUSSIANS why the huge UPROAR?

    April 20, 2014 at 11:08 am | Reply
  9. Prince Fabian

    Let Russia do the thing it must do, arm the rebels to the teeth. We know the west is more rotten and evil. We know what weapons for mass destruaction propaganda mean.

    April 20, 2014 at 9:32 pm | Reply
    • Greg

      FSB thug. Liar.

      April 21, 2014 at 9:26 pm | Reply
  10. Greg

    Move against the Russian federation itself. Destroy this cancer of the body politic.

    April 21, 2014 at 9:26 pm | Reply
  11. Greg

    Cut off the head of the snake, this corrupt thug and poisoner, Vladimir Putin.

    April 21, 2014 at 9:28 pm | Reply
  12. Moss

    why is it that the US has never taken action against Israel over Jerusalem?

    April 23, 2014 at 1:56 am | Reply

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