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What Now for Ukraine?; Middle East Peace Talks; Imagine a World

Aired March 4, 2014 - 14:00:00   ET


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour.

President Putin breaks his silence, facing a storm of criticism from the West, Vladimir Putin tried to ease some of the tension today, saying that Russia has no intention of annexing Crimea. And he ended the massive military maneuvers on the border.

But he also defiantly insisted that he would keep on the table his right to a full-scale military invasion of Ukraine.


VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA (through translator): If I take the decision to use military force, it will be legitimate and correspondent to international law because we have a request from a legitimate president and it corresponds to our interest in protecting people who are close to us historically.


AMANPOUR: Mr. Putin again called the ousting of Ukraine's former leader, Viktor Yanukovych, a coup. Not so, insisted the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who, a few hours later, landed in Kiev on an emergency diplomatic mission.

He reminded the world that Yanukovych had failed to sign a peace deal last month and had simply fled the country and his people, leaving dozens of dead behind.

Kerry walked through the streets and spoke movingly of the mountains of flowers in memory to the fallen and the bullet-marked buildings and barricades. And he pledged the United States to full square behind the Ukrainian people.


JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: What they stood for so bravely I say with full conviction will never be stolen by bullets or by invasion. It cannot be silenced by thugs from rooftops. It is universal. It's unmistakable. It is called freedom.


AMANPOUR: One of the Ukrainian politicians who met today with Secretary Kerry is Petro Poroshenko. He's the MP and former foreign minister and he's also known as Ukraine's chocolate billionaire because of his vast confectionery empire. He's been touted as a future possible presidential candidate and, importantly, he is now charged with negotiating with the new government in Crimea.

And he joins me live from Kiev.

Mr. Poroshenko, thank you for joining me on this day.

Can you tell me whether, after meeting with Secretary Kerry, you have any vision of an off-ramp for this crisis?

PETRO POROSHENKO, FORMER UKRAINIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: Thank you very much for the invitation today we have very severe fog and you don't see the picture of the Maidan. But Maidan is still behind me.

And exactly the several meters from here that Secretary Kerry today were here meeting with the people of the Maidan and was really impressed by their position, by strong of their spirit.

And I think this is very important to have Secretary Kerry today here in Kiev, because friend in need is a friend indeed.

And just this night, the previous night and this day maybe was one of the most difficult days in the whole Ukrainian history. Because on our territory, we have a invasion of the foreign troops. We have blood by our military units and our soldiers is demonstrate also very strong spirit because it's very difficult to keep the weapons in hand to have your finger on the trigger, having surrounded by provocateurs and keep silence, keep strong position and don't give anyone one single reason to blame Ukraine and Ukrainians.


AMANPOUR: So, Mr. Poroshenko --

POROSHENKO: -- is attacking and start the war.

AMANPOUR: -- Mr. Poroshenko, Secretary Kerry praised what he called the admirable strength of the Ukrainian forces. Secretary Kerry praised your restraint. But I want to know whether you see any possibility of a negotiated end to this.

You are nominated by the interim leaders to contact the government in Crimea and Secretary Kerry called for direct negotiations, I believe, between Russia and Ukraine.

Is that possible?

POROSHENKO: Yes, for sure. We make a parliamentary decision and form the group for negotiation from the site of Crimean parliament. Our governments are constantly trying to find out a contact with the Russian government.

Today we have the first sign of contact between the -- our minister of defense and Russian minister of defense. We have the first contact for other ministers. But it is not the negotiation, unfortunately. We try to do our best to use any opportunity to -- for the peaceful negotiation, but until now we don't have anything of hopes or readiness that will end up from the Russian side.

And that's why the firm position of our American partners, of our European partners and partners throughout the world, because the whole world are now support Ukraine in their peaceful position. It's really very helpful when we try to find out this way for finding out the negotiation process with Russia.

And I -- just two days ago returned from Crimea. We also propose them -- yes. We also propose them for the roundtable for negotiation. But, again, there is no any answer that. This is disturbing me very much and we think that without the negotiation table, the escalation process and the temperature on the Crimea is rising up.

AMANPOUR: So you're presumably going to keep trying to reach out and have these direct negotiations.

In the meantime, President Putin in his press conference today, as I said, insisted that President Yanukovych is still the legitimate president and what happened in Kiev he called a coup.

What is your reaction to that?

And how will you get over that? How will you persuade President Putin that, in fact, that is not the case?

POROSHENKO: I think that President Putin himself today says that Yanukovych are not going to return back in the country. The President Putin understands and says that Yanukovych has no chance to represent anymore Ukrainian people. And under Ukrainian legislation, the only authorities who can invite the foreign troops for any -- for any operation is the Ukrainian parliament, based on their decision of the unanimous decision of creating parliament.

President has simply not this position, not his power to invite anybody here. That's why this is absolutely no any reason for this being any foreign troops on the Ukrainian territory.

And of course, non-Ukrainian can recognize Yanukovych as a president. He is the -- he is -- here is the finished and he is a criminal, especially after yesterday appeal to the Putin to come the foreign troops here and to start the war. I think this is the -- he's a war criminal.

AMANPOUR: Mr. Poroshenko, you know, you talk about trying to reach out and yet I want to know how you react, again, to what Mr. Putin said. He has accused many in the new Ukrainian leadership of being radicals, extremists, terrorists. Today he actually said that we have Nazis and neo- Nazis and anti-Semites in some parts of Ukraine, including Kiev.

What does he mean?

And what is your response to that?

POROSHENKO: We think that the answer would be very simple. We invite here any international mission. We have reached the agreement that all we see mission will start now work in Crimea. But we are open for any observers to come to any part of Ukraine and to be absolutely sure that Ukraine now, outside of the Crimea, is absolutely safe.

The leaders of the several Jewish community introduced the governors on certain regions of Ukraine. We have a lot of the different nationalities including just in our government and I think that this is simply not understandable position.

Today we have a fact-finding mission from the representative of the general secretary (sic) of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, also starting fact-finding mission in Crimea and in Ukraine. And that is our -- would be our very strong answer. Please, come to Ukraine. We are open for any dialogue. We are open for any international organization just to be sure that the dossier (ph) which should be presented to the Security Council of the United Nations, to the OEC is -- should be free and fair. And you don't find any tiny arguments to concern the words of President Putin.

AMANPOUR: Mr. Poroshenko, thank you so much for joining me.

Now NATO held an emergency meeting on Ukraine in Brussels today. It was called by Poland to voice concerns that it feels directly threatened by the unrest in neighboring Ukraine. NATO is not about to use force. So how can the alliance best respond now?

Joining me is Ivo Daalder, who until last year, served as the American ambassador to NATO.

Mr. Daalder, first and foremost, you just heard what Mr. Poroshenko said, a leading Ukrainian politician, that he is trying to reach out to the Russians, that he is welcoming a fact-finding mission and he is sounding incredibly conciliatory.

What do you think the response will be from Mr. Putin?

IVO DAALDER, PRESIDENT, THE CHICAGO COUNCIL ON GLOBAL AFFAIRS: Well, I think we sort of heard that response this morning when Mr. Putin did his press conference. He denies the legitimacy of the government in Kiev. He thinks that the legitimate authorities is a -- is a guy who's sitting in some seaside resort in Russia, who he himself doesn't think has a lot of weight anymore in the country.

The reality is that what Mr. Putin started was a process by which he is trying to maintain the control of and over Ukraine for the foreseeable future. Ukraine needs to part of the Russian orbit. That's what the occupation of Crimea is about. And that's what the intimidation of the rest of the country is about.

AMANPOUR: So therefore, how do you see this changing, given the very strong words by Secretary Kerry in Kiev today and by President Obama in Washington?

And you know, the mechanisms that they're going to try to use to encourage direct negotiation with Kiev but also if that doesn't work to isolate President Putin further, what can they do?

DAALDER: Well, clearly, they need to be open to the prospect of having a negotiation ongoing. And we just heard from the Ukrainian authorities; they're open to it.

But at the same time, the price that Mr. Putin and his country need to pay for what they have done needs to go up. This is very different than 1968 or 1956, when the Soviet Union invaded the Czech -- Czechoslovakia and Hungary and were able to do so without any consequences.

We are seeing the consequences, the stock market with the price of the ruble and on the -- on the financial and economic side each and every day. Mr. Putin doesn't have the economic or even the military strength to outwit the kind of sanctions that are now under consideration in Washington, that need to be talked to between Washington and the European Union and, indeed, the international community. The price that Mr. Putin needs to pay is -- it has to be severe. And because it is an interdependent economy that depends for a large degree on exports of oil and gas that could, over time, be replaced from other sources, we will see that over time, not immediately, but over time the cost of continuing the policy that Mr. Putin has embarked upon are going to vastly outweigh any benefit he may see.

AMANPOUR: And just very briefly and finally, what is the cost to Europe and the West if this doesn't deescalate?

DAALDER: Very severe; clearly, this is an affront to European security and it's an affront to international order, an order based on the notion that countries don't invade other countries. And that's just what we have seen.

So it is very important for the West to stand united, for NATO to reaffirm the importance it attaches to the security of its members and, indeed, to security throughout the region.

And we are seeing, I think, a welcome unification of the Europeans, of the United States, of Canada and, indeed, of other parts of the world, to stand against Mr. Putin and say this is not the way we behave against neighbors.

Ivo Daalder, former U.S. ambassador to NATO, thank you for joining me.

And while Ukraine of course remains a potential time bomb, the clock is also ticking in another volatile corner of the globe.

Benjamin Netanyahu and President Obama discussed U.S.-Middle East peace efforts at the White House on Monday. So what chance of success there? I asked the chief Israeli negotiator, Tzipi Livni, after a break.




AMANPOUR: Before Ukraine erupted in crisis, this week was meant to be for the U.S. to focus on important talks to resolve another longstanding conflict.


AMANPOUR (voice-over): The Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, met President Obama in the White House, who warned him of, quote, "international fallout" if he didn't accept the U.S. framework for peace talks with the Palestinians.


AMANPOUR: And earlier today, I asked Israel's chief negotiator and justice minister, Tzipi Livni, what chance of reaching a deal and coming in from the cold.


AMANPOUR: Tzipi Livni, welcome back to the program. Thanks for joining me from Washington.


AMANPOUR: President Obama is saying that the time that they've worked out for this framework agreement to sort of come to fruition is coming close.

Do you believe that this is something that you're all going to be able to sign up on?

Is this moving in a good direction?

LIVNI: It should be. It is true that we decided, though, that the timeline -- and we are toward the end -- we need this framework because this represents the ideas that we can move forward in the negotiations the day after.

The United States, Secretary Kerry and the president are working hard in order to have something that both sides can live with. I'm sure that not us nor the Palestinians are going to be in love with it. But I hope that all of us can live with it, move forward.

And this is something that can create trust and basis for negotiations.

AMANPOUR: Now Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu again took the opportunity during his press availabilities to basically blame the Palestinians for what he called persistent incitement and not living up to their end of the bargain.

However, President Obama has said in a major interview that he believes -- and he's told Prime Minister Netanyahu -- that Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, is the most moderate Palestinian leader and is the best person to do business with.

You're the negotiator.

Do you believe that?

LIVNI: I'm not the judge. Basically what we see is the realities in a few weeks from now, so the test is ahead of us, and both leaders, Netanyahu and Mahmoud Abbas, would need to make their own decisions and this would be the test. And it will be public.

So it's not about who says what now, who's blaming who, but it's about the bold, courageous decisions that both of them need to make for the sake of their own people, Netanyahu for the future of the Israelis, and Mahmoud Abbas for the future of Palestinians.

AMANPOUR: So tell me what are those brave decisions?

What are we going to see in a few weeks?

Hopefully, we can reach a situation in which the United States put this framework for negotiations, which relates to the core issues, so basically when we are talking about the core issues, everything is so sensitive. It relates to narratives about people's decisions for the future.

So it's not something which is easy just to say, yes or yes, but, or we have reservations. But we are willing to continue. So it's quite a delicate work now that the United States is doing to have then the possibility, even with reservations to say we are moving forward.

But it's not an easy task for any leader, on the Israeli side or the Palestinian side.

AMANPOUR: Are you optimistic?

LIVNI: I cannot say that I'm optimistic or pessimistic. I'm -- you know, praying that this would work. I think that this is only a certain moment and we shouldn't miss it.

I'm focused on this. This is my mission, basically in life, I would say. So.

AMANPOUR: President Obama feels -- and he apparently is going to articulate to Prime Minister Netanyahu that unless is a deal is struck and unless there is progress, the prime minister will be basically presiding over an increasingly isolated Israel and that time would be running out for Israel to remain a Jewish democracy.

Do you buy that?

LIVNI: Listen, I don't need to hear this in English by the President of the United States. We are facing a situation in which Israel is being misunderstood. We have the peace process of BDS, of boycotts and diversion and isolation and delegitimization.

So basically we need to face it. And I believe that making an agreement with the Palestinians is part of the answer that we can give to this trend in the international community.

Me, as an Israeli leader, I cannot turn a blind eye and to say it's not there. I mean, it's there. And for these and other reasons, making an agreement or moving forward in accordance to the framework is not a favor to President Obama or to Secretary Kerry.

But it's a favor that we need to do for ourself. But there is another thing that needs to be said. In the end, the Palestinians need Israel to sign an agreement with them in order to create their own state.

So it's not just as if it were some game in which without framework Israel loses and the Palestinians win. It's a lose-lose situation for both of us.

AMANPOUR: I'm sure that's absolutely true.

But as Israeli justice minister and as the Israeli negotiator, I want to ask you again -- because it's way before the boycott divest and sanctions issue that Israel was facing what many believe was a choice, either to sign a deal with the Palestinians for the good of all sides or not to and face an undemocratic Israel or a sort of an apartheid situation.

LIVNI: I agree. We need or we want to reach an agreement not because of the pressure coming from the international community, but because, as justice minister, we need to keep the values of the state of Israel as a Jewish democratic state, living in harmony.

And in order to do so, the best choice is to divide the land and to keep the state of Israel, maybe smaller, but with the -- our values as a Jewish democratic state living in harmony, a secured state. We need to keep also security as part of the agreement.

But the other choice is one state between Jordan River, Mediterranean Sea, for Israeli-Palestinian. But it's not going to be an answer for the national aspiration of the Jewish people or the Palestinians.

So the best choice for all of us is to find a way to make this deal as long as, as I said, it gives Israel security, because we cannot undermine the nature of the risks that we are facing in our, you know, tough neighborhood.

AMANPOUR: Let me move on to your friendship with the United States.

Obviously the President of the United States keeps reiterating the close ties between Israel and the U.S.

But in this interview, he issued what was perceived as a -- as a sort of a veiled threat, saying that even if the U.S. is willing and would be willing to keep defending Israel, even if it becomes more isolated, as we discussed, with the BDS program, that U.S. would find it increasingly difficult to keep defending Israel in the absence of a peace agreement.

Does that worry you, that unless you do actually come to some negotiated settlement, your ability to be protected and defended by the U.S. diminishes?

LIVNI: I believe in the relations between Israel and the United States, which are based on friendship, deep understanding and not just interest. But I do believe that we need to help those who want to help us.

And the United States cannot do it alone. The way the international community is acting is not only just one state, even though the leader of the free world, but they need the Europeans in order to help.

So basically we need to give the tools to our friends to help, to help us and this is why the more we can make the right decisions, the more we can implement the right policy for the future of the state of Israel.

These can give also tools to the United States to help us against those that are not willing to accept the right of Israel to exist, of those that are, you know, making this process of the delegitimization of the state of Israel.

So we need to make our own decisions. But I believe that making the right decisions can help the United States helping us.

AMANPOUR: Tzipi Livni, Israeli justice minister and chief negotiator, thank you so much for joining me.

LIVNI: Thank you.


AMANPOUR: And regarding security, you heard Tzipi Livni talk about, of course, the Iran nuclear negotiations with the United States, worries the prime minister a lot. See what Tzipi Livni had to say about that online at

And of course living in a land divided by history and hatred is not unique to Israelis and Palestinians. After a break, we'll return to the Crimea. Lots of talk about ethnic Russians pleading for Moscow's help. But we examine even older inhabitants of that peninsula, people once doomed to extinction back from the grave to haunt and halt the Russian juggernaut, when we come back.




AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, while the tense standoff continues in the Crimea, imagine a world where the region's oldest inhabitants are once again caught in the crossfire.

Crimea's Muslim Tartars first arrived in the 14th century riding at the side of Genghis Khan. The Tartars settled there peacefully, enduring the occupation of the Ottoman Empire, the Russians czars and eventually the Bolsheviks.

Then came World War II, when Soviet leader Joseph Stalin accused the Tartars of collaborating with the Nazis and on May 18th, 1944, a day still remembered with flowers and tears, Stalin deported the entire population, some 200,000 people, to Siberia and Central Asia.

Half died on the way and not a single Tartar was left in Crimea. And yet in the 1990s, they returned to their homeland and the population has grown to over a quarter of a million now. Although they have their differences with the Ukrainian government, the Tartars remain fiercely loyal to the land of their ancestors, prepared to take a peaceful stand against the Russian steamroller.

And that's it for our program tonight. Remember you can always contact us at our website,, and follow me on Twitter and Facebook. Thanks for watching and goodbye from New York.