Return to Transcripts main page
Crisis In Ukraine; Day Two Of Oscar Pistorius Trial; Leading Woman: South Korean President Park Guen-hye
Aired March 4, 2014 - 8:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PAULINE CHIOU, HOST: I'm Pauline Chiou in Hong Kong. Welcome to News Stream where news and technology meet.
Standoff in Crimea. Warning shots at a military base as Russian and Ukrainian troops come face to face.
Russian President Vladimir Putin lashes out at the west and says Moscow's moves in Crimea are legitimate.
And we'll have the latest testimony from day two of the Oscar Pistorius trial.
Our correspondents are on the ground covering the crisis in Ukraine. We want to go straight to Kiev where we have Matthew Chance live there in Independence Square -- Matthew.
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Pauline, thanks very much.
Well, as you join me here on the road adjoining Independence Square, you can see that John Kerry, the U.S. secretary of state, has just arrived in his motorcade and is meeting with officials of the new interim Ukrainian administration. On his way here to the center of the city, the square where those protests were held, pitched battles, of course, over the course of the past couple of weeks, couple of months between protesters and the Ukrainian authorities -- the then Ukrainian authorities in an effort to oust the government of Viktor Yanukovych the now ousted former president of Ukraine.
You see John Kerry over there. He's expected to make his way this way actually. There's a lot of media, a lot of people here that are waiting for John Kerry to come this way.
A lot of people running over the right now. Perhaps he's going to give a statement. We're going to stand by right here waiting for that.
I can tell you there's a -- I can tell you these barricades here you can see behind me around here, these were where the pitched battles were fought. You can see they've now turned into memorials for the people who died as a result of those protests. People have laid flowers, they've lit candles. They've put mementos in tribute to the dead as well.
And the expectation now is that John Kerry, secretary of state, will be heading this way and paying his own tribute to the people that died in these protests before -- ahead of his meetings with members of the interim government to discuss ways in which the United States can help them in dealing with the crisis that they're having to do deal with, with the Russians right now.
See, John Kerry is going to be heading over here in a second. And I'm hoping that we're going to be able to get a word with him.
John Kerry, of course, has been at the forefront of international criticism of Russia for its military action inside Crimea calling on international community, the Europeans in particular, to consider economic sanctions against Russia, political and diplomatic sanctions as well.
What's not clear is precisely what action the United States can take that may have an impact on the Kremlin, particularly after the defiant words that we heard from Vladimir Putin earlier today.
OK, we're going to see if we can get a quick word.
Mr. Kerry. Matthew Chance from CNN. Is there anything the United States can do to force Russia out of Crimea on CNN?
JOHN KERRY, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: And this is what, this is where the...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These are -- secretary, what's happened. The shrines where everybody has been shot.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, what do you think, Mr. Kerry? Should...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You'll see as we go down, there are these -- just rows and rows, thousands of flowers...
CHANCE: Mr. Kerry, what do you think when you see these scenes?
KERRY: Let me have a chance to see it here.
CHANCE: Well, there you have it. Secretary of State John Kerry not giving much of a statement here, obviously hasn't had a chance to really get a picture of what the scene here is on the ground. There's a lot of people around him as you can see crowding around him as he tries to sort of get a sense of what took place here over the last couple of weeks that led to the overthrow of that government of Viktor Yanukovych and has of course led to the crisis in Crimea that the international community is so concerned with right now -- Pauline.
CHIOU: And Matthew, we understand that Kerry may have details of some financial assistance for Ukraine. The Ukrainian economy has been devastated. And it only has about 12 weeks left of international reserves to work with.
We do understand that the U.S. is offering $1 billion in loan guarantees. And diplomacy has to be very delicate, doesn't it Matthew, because Ukraine desperately needs the gas that comes from Russia, yet Russia also desperately needs the EU, their major trading partners. So how could this all play out? How delicate does NATO have to be, does the U.S. and the UK as we head towards talks this week?
CHANCE: Yeah. I mean, it is, you're right, a very delicate diplomatic situation. I mean, nobody wants to see this already bad situation become any worse.
And I think there's a sense in which all the players here -- the international community, the United States, the UN, the European Union, they have to sort of remember that Ukraine is just one square on the chessboard, it's not the entire board. And there are other areas in which there is cooperation with Russia -- areas like Syria, areas like Iran and its very controversial nuclear program, even in efforts to bring North Korea to the negotiating table as well.
And -- you know, I think that there has to be a measure of delicacy in making sure that this doesn't overshadow all of those issues. At the same time, there's obviously a great deal of anger not just here in Ukraine, but a great deal of concern as well in the international community that this action by Russia does not go without any punishment, or without any kind of response from the international community.
The big question is what are they going to do to issue that response, what the terms of that response are going to be. And that's not altogether clear what levers they can pull that would actually exert real pressure on the Russians to reverse their position in Crimea, particularly after the defiant remarks, as I mentioned, from Vladimir Putin earlier.
So, yes, there's a great deal of anger. The Ukrainians want action from the international community for something to happen, for pressure to be put on Russians, the Russians to withdraw.
But despite the defiant words from John Kerry and his calls for sanctions and other sort of measures against the Russians -- again it's going to be very difficult for him to balance that with all the other concerns that they have regarding Russia -- Pauline.
CHIOU: Yes, with all the other foreign policy issues that they need Russia for.
All right, Matthew, thank you very much. Matthew Chance covering the secretary of state's visit there to Independence Square as John Kerry has just landed in Kiev and is also there paying tribute to some of the protesters who had died in the protest from the last three months.
Let's get the perspective now from Moscow. Russian President Putin is defending his country's actions in Ukraine. He told journalists today that Moscow is not trying to make Crimea part of Russia, he also blamed the west for the crisis that is unfolding in Ukraine.
For more now, Phil Black joins me live from Moscow.
Now, Phil, we just saw the U.S. Secretary of State there in Kiev with the interim government officials from the interim government in Kiev.
Now President Vladimir Putin just a few hours ago had called that interim government unconstitutional and the result of a coup.
What were some of the other major points that he made in his news conference?
PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Pauline, he made a couple of points that I don't think are going to be easily accepted by the United States and western countries, because they've already indicated they don't really believe them.
Firstly, President Putin continued to say that these are not Russian soldiers that we are seeing on the ground in Crimea. He referred to them specifically as local self-defense force units.
He was asked a number of times by journalists if Russian soldiers were involved in securing the Crimean region. And he said, no.
And he continued to speak about the use of force by Russia in Ukraine in something of a hypothetical way. He said as for the use of military force, there is no need for this so far, but there is such a possibility. And he did speak about the possibility of force, and particularly what in his view would sanction its use. Take a listen now to what he said on that point.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA (through translator): So what can cause the use of military force? Of course it is extraordinary.
First, it is legitimacy. Firstly, we have a request of the legitimate president to protect the welfare of the local population. We have neo- Nazis and Nazis and anti-Semites in some parts of Ukraine, including Kiev.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLACK: And President Putin certainly made it clear that that option still remains on the table. And he was specifically talking about the east of the country. And in his words he said that if he sees the chaos, the mayhem, the threat to ethnic Russians in that region, if he sees that, if people in that region call to Moscow for help, then under those circumstances Russia will do everything within its means to come to help those citizens. And he believes that that will be legal and right and it is something that Russia would have the right to do under those circumstances, Pauline.
CHIOU: All right, thank you very much for the update and the perspective there from Moscow. That's Phil Black in our Moscow bureau.
And still to come right here on News Stream, a look at the Russian mindset. We'll be speaking to journalist Vladimir Pozner about the ongoing crisis on the Crimean peninsula.
And out of prison and back into politics, Ukraine's former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko calls on the world for help. She speaks exclusively with our Christiane Amanpour.
CHIOU: Russian President Vladimir Putin says the west is to blame for the crisis in Ukraine. He says Moscow is not trying to make Crimea a part of Russia. Despite that, Ukraine says an estimated 16,000 Russian troops are in the Crimea right now.
Further north, in Kiev, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has arrived to discuss funding for the cash strapped nation. He'll announce a $1 billion loan guarantee to help protect the Ukrainian economy from the effects of reduced energy subsidies from Russia.
Well, Moscow based journalist Vladimir Pozner has spent years focusing on politics in this region and he joins me now live from the Russian capital.
Vladimir, thank you very much for speaking with us today.
Now, we see the U.S. secretary of state there in Kiev, other western countries are also rallying around Kiev.
NATO is planning an emergency meeting on Thursday. In your mind, is any of this having an impact on Vladimir Putin? And is there room for diplomacy to work?
VLADIMIR POZNER, JOURNALIST: You know, it's very difficult to go into the mind of someone else, in this case Vladimir Putin. I think that he's a very proud man, that this is a nation of proud people. And threatening them is usually is counterproductive. Saying, well, we're going to punish you for what you did, it does not usually lead to any kind of positive change. That's been the case in the past. And I think it probably is true for today.
Rallying around -- you say, Ukraine says. It's not Ukraine says, the present interim government says. And that's not the same thing as Ukraine. There are lots of people in Ukraine, especially in eastern Ukraine and in Crimea who say very different things.
So, I feel that the picture that is being given in the west is a very one-sided picture, not totally untrue, but one-sided. And you only get one part of the story. There is another side to that story. And I think that what President Putin said today, that the threat of any kind of armed conflict in Crimea did no longer exist. I think that's a very important statement. And the fact that Russia had no territorial ambitions vis-a-vis Ukraine I think also that's very important.
And those soldiers in black, or in green -- now when Mr. Putin says they are not our soldiers, I think you should pay attention to that.
CHIOU: OK. Now Vladimir, our correspondent there in Crimea at one of the military bases was there when he saw the Ukrainian troops moving closer to the base. And they had told his translator that they had just spoken with Russian soldiers there. They were saying that those soldiers in camouflage were Russian.
It's unclear exactly what was spoken about, but our correspondent was saying the atmosphere was quite tense.
And this is a situation that has been going on. Earlier there were warning shots there.
So, in your opinion, what is the best solution to settling this?
POZNER: I think the best solution is to sit down and talk. I think that there should be some kind of international representation that would go to Crimea, for instance -- I don't know that it's possible in Kiev -- where there would be the Russian side involved, the Ukrainian interim government involved, the Yalta representatives involved, western Europe, the United States. I think this calls for some serious discussion, not tainted or tinged by reports from journalists who have opinions, who are not always -- and I'm putting it mildly, objective on both sides of the fence. It calls for a cool, calm head not for hotheads, because it is a very dangerous, explosive situation. And Ukraine is a divided country. It's about 50/50 in ethnicity -- 50 Russian, 50 Ukrainian. That does not help out a situation where you have now an interim government that seems to be very anti-Russian.
As you'll probably know initially they even passed a law, which they then repealed, but banning the teaching of Russian in schools. They were quick to repeal it because they realized what that would lead to.
But that gives you the flavor of what's going on there.
CHIOU: Yeah. And you describe it as a very explosive situation. And we see Russian troops and Ukrainian troops there on the Crimea.
Do you feel that if there is one slight miscalculation in the next couple of days that we could actually see a civil war?
POZNER: You know, that's the thing I fear most of all, a civil war. They are the worst kind. You know, the United States had a civil war back in the 1800s, probably the worst war that it ever had. This country, Russia, had a civil war in the -- in the early 1920s -- 1918 to 1922, the most brutal, the most violent of all wars are civil wars when brother fights brother and father fights son. And I think that is the greatest danger, quite frankly.
CHIOU: Now, Vladimir, Crimea is an autonomous region of Ukraine. So why is Moscow so adamant about flexing its muscle there on the peninsula?
POZNER: Well, I think the feeling was -- and this is something I've - - you know, I've gotten a lot of letters from people in the Crimea, in Ukraine in general, because I have a television show. And I'm -- it's watched there as well as in Russia. And it's very interesting that the letters are 180 degrees opposite each other. Some say nobody is hurting Russians. Nobody is attacking the Jews. Please say this, please help us. We're afraid that something is going to happen.
The other letters say, please help us. We're being -- we're being manhandled. We're being beaten up by these brutes because we're Russian, because we're Jewish. It's really a complicated situation. And I think the feeling in Russia is, let me put it this way, Mr. Putin feels -- and I guess the government feels -- that there is a threat to the Russian population in the Crimea -- and it's 60 percent of that population -- that is issued from the present government in Kiev where you have a small segment of that government that most people would call fascist.
Now these are -- it's not the majority, but they're very loud, very active and extremely violent. And I think that there is this fear that if should they get the upper hand, and sometimes when you have revolutions, you know what comes out is not what the revolution actually wanted -- if they get the upper hand, then that's a serious danger. And I think the move was to make it quite clear that Russia would not allow that to happen to Russians living in Crimea.
Now, could it be that it was -- they misjudged? I guess it's possible, but that was the reaction.
CHIOU: Let me ask you about the big picture of Russia's status in the world. Russia was able to pull off a very successful Winter Olympics in Sochi where Vladimir Putin was able to showcase Russia. Russia is also the host nation of the G8 this year, but because of what has happened this past week, the G7 have pulled out from the preparatory talks of the G8 that's supposed to happen in June. So we're seeing the west rally around Ukraine and around Kiev. Do you worry that Russia is isolating itself on the world stage?
POZNER: I do. I worry that the attitude in the west towards Russia is very much -- how should I put this -- formed by old Cold War mentality. You talk about the Olympic games. You know as well as I do the kind of reporting that was done prior to the games.
Larry King of CNN fame was supposed to come with me to Sochi to talk to a group of people, to a group of Americans. At the last minute, he got cold feet. He was afraid watching his own media that something would happen to him, that there would be some kind of terrorist thing going on there. That was the atmosphere that was created by the western media about the Sochi games.
Later on, once the games were over, people realized that, well, perhaps we weren't right and they said, oh, the games were successful. Not everybody did, but they did. And I feel that this is pretty much the case no matter what Russia does. Basically it's scene as negative, even stepping in, in the Syrian issue and in the Iranian issue it's still, oh, that's Putin trying to do something. It's never seen as positive. And that's really too bad, because if that's -- if that's the mentality, then it's very hard to have any kind of normal relationship.
And yes I do fear the isolation of Russia, but I cannot say, in all honesty, that it would be all Russia's fault.
CHIOU: OK. We will see what happens in the next couple of days as world leaders are coming to Kiev. World leaders also meeting at the NATO on Thursday and we'll see what unravels in the next couple of days.
All right, Vladimir Pozner, a journalist based in Moscow, thank you very much for your thoughts today. We appreciate it.
POZNER: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
CHIOU: Just ahead on News Stream, an exclusive chat with Ukraine's former Prime Minister as chaos unfolds in her own country. She has an urgent message for the international community.
And more from our other big story today, the trial of Oscar Pistorius. We will take you live once again to South Africa for the latest on today's court hearing. We'll be right back.
CHIOU: Former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko is calling on the international community to monitor Russia's move into Crimea closely. In her first international television interview since being released from prison just over a week ago, she told our Christiane Amanpour that Russia cannot be allowed to expand its influence there.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN INTERANTIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Let me ask you first, Ms. Tymoshenko, you know, diplomacy is going into overdrive. Secretary Kerry is on his way to Kiev.
Your acting prime minister, Mr. Yatsenyuk, has said that Ukraine will never get rid of Crimea. It will hang onto Crimea and the Russians are saying that their troops will stay in Crimea until this crisis is resolved.
What is going to be the next move?
YULIA TYMOSHENKO, FORMER PRIME MINISTER OF UKRAINE (through translator): The next move of Russians is known today, literally several minutes ago the Russian Duma has started listening to the draft of the law of annexation of Crimea from Ukraine. It's only a question of time when it will be voted.
We all know that votes in Duma will be found. That's why Russia is escalating the crisis now. And the world should understand, should realize that Ukraine on its own won't be able to solve this issue with Russia on its own, absolutely not possible.
And only the world, at the highest possible level, using the highest possible means can stop this unprecedented for our time aggression.
AMANPOUR: You say that the Russian parliament is now discussing annexing Crimea.
What do you expect from the world, which has already said that there is no military solution to help Ukraine?
TYMOSHENKO (through translator): We all well remember that when Budapest Memorandum was signed and when Ukraine was giving up with its nuclear weapons, then the United States, the United Kingdom and Russia was providing guarantees, guarantees of peace and independence, integrity of its territory.
And now, when it's the crisis is happening, Ukraine is relying on its partners. And if Russia in such a cynical and rude way violated this memorandum, then every person in Ukraine believes that the United States and the United Kingdom, that they will stick to their guarantees.
And when Russia is allowed to take away Crimea, then the world will change. And then not only politics and life in Ukraine will change. The politics and life will change practically everywhere in the world.
And then we have to accept to states that in 21st century, one country, an aggressor can violate all the international agreements, take away territories whenever she likes.
We can't afford this in the world. That's why if the instruments of diplomacy won't work, if all negotiations or instruments won't work and personal relations with Mr. Putin won't work, the world has to apply strongest means.
If Ukraine loses Crimea, it will be a signal for all people who are under threat of aggression from Russia. They will signal that they are not protected and they will have to go and subordinate to Russia.
I don't believe that the United Kingdom and the United States and also the European Union as a whole will do this to Ukraine. And let's please do your consultations and choose adequate instruments in order to -- not to allow the tragedy to happen on the territory of the -- of Ukraine.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHIOU: That's Yulia Tymoshenko the former Prime Minister of Ukraine speaking with our Christiane Amanpour.
And still to come on News Stream, we'll show you confrontation in Crimea. We'll show you what happened when these unarmed Ukrainian soldiers met their armed Russian counterparts at a military base.
CHIOU: I'm Pauline Chiou in Hong Kong. You're watching News Stream. And these are your world headlines.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has landed in Kiev. He's brought with him an offer of $1 billion loan guarantee to cushion Ukraine's ailing economy. Speaking at a news conference a little bit earlier, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the west is to blame for this crisis in Ukraine. He also insisted Moscow has the right to protect Russians in Crimea, but a NATO official rejects Mr. Putin's claims and says there is no threat to Russians there.
U.S. President Barack Obama discussed Middle East peace with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday and called for compromise from both sides. The U.S. has set an April deadline to reach a deal with the Palestinians. Mr. Netanyahu said Israel is doing its part, but Palestinians are not.
An Egyptian court has banned all activities of the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, labeling it a terrorist organization. It also ordered all of the group's assets to be seized. Now Hamas has condemned this move. Hamas rules the Gaza Strip, which borders Egypt and is an offshoot of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood movement.
Meanwhile, Egypt's state news agency says General Abdel Fatal El-Sisi will announce his presidential bid in the next few days. The army chief is quoted as saying he cannot turn his back when the majority of the Egyptian people are asking him to run for office.
Let's go back to the crisis in Ukraine right now. As we mentioned, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is in Kiev. He landed about an hour ago. Our Elise Labott is traveling with him. And she joins us on the phone.
Elise, as we talk to you I just want our viewers to know that we'll be seeing video of John Kerry with a scrum of reporters about a half an hour ago. What is Kerry's goal there while he's on the ground?
ELISE LABOTT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Pauline, his main goal is to show support for the fledgling government in Ukraine. Not only does that send a message to Ukrainian people that the U.S. support, but it also sends a strong message to Moscow with all of their aggressions towards Crimean area that the U.S. supports Ukraine and that Ukraine's future lies with the west.
CHIOU: Now, Elise, speaking of Moscow, the U.S. needs Russia on other issues like Syria and Iran. So how delicate does this Ukraine situation need to be handled from the U.S. point of view?
LABOTT: Well, I mean, you know, it's very delicate, because the -- as you rightly put it, the U.S. does need Russian support on -- in areas like the Iran nuclear deal and Syria, but what U.S. officials point out is that Russia has not been that much -- that very cooperative on the Syrian issue. They've continued to support the Assad regime and are refusing to help in terms of getting access on humanitarian aid and so forth. And so they feel as if, you know, maybe they're not losing all that much and the issue of Ukraine is also very important. They can't trade one for the other.
CHIOU: Now, Elise, just quickly. I want to ask you about the loan package that Kerry has brought with him. As we know, the Ukrainian economy is quite desperate. It desperately relies on discounted gas from Russia.
Sorry, can you -- Elise if you can still hear me, can you give us any more details about what kind of financial aid the U.S. is offering to Kiev?
LABOTT: Well, so first it's this billion dollar in loan guarantees to help the Ukrainians -- it helps them because they're getting reduced subsidies from Russia on oil and gas and so forth. They're also going to be sending a lot of technical advisers to Kiev to help with the government in terms of reforms that it needs to work with the IMF and also helping it -- Ukrainian businesses.
They will also be sending a team of advisers on areas such as energy structural reform, other types of economic reforms and anti-corruption and helping them recover stolen assets.
So, it's the billion dollars in loan guarantees is really the main type of aid, but it's also helping this government, this new government with this economy that's very fragile rebuild itself, work with the IMF who will really be taking a lead here, Pauline.
CHIOU: All right, very good. Thank you for all those details. Elise Labott there joining us on the phone. She's traveling with the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry who landed in Kiev just a short while ago.
Let's head back to Crimea now where a Ukrainian commander told CNN he received a demand for his troops to put down their weapons. Ben Wedeman is there.
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN INTERANTIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm inside the Belbek Ukrainian military base north of Sevastopol and here as in many other locations around the Crimea, there's a standoff.
Now inside, we have Ukrainian soldiers, arms at the ready -- in fact, we were watching earlier as some of their relatives, their wives came to give them food and refreshments. We spoke to the commander of this base, who told us that he had been ordered by, we presume, a Russian commander, to surrender the base by noon, but that deadline has passed and so far nothing has happened here.
Now up the road from here to the main entrance to the base, essentially local pro-Russian civilians are blocking the entrance to journalists just on the other side of a very simple barricade there are Ukrainian soldiers and beyond them we're told are Russian forces at the main entrance to this base.
So far it's not clear where this situation is going over the last 24 hours. We've heard of ultimatums and deadlines to the Ukrainian forces to surrender, but so far there's no case where the Russians have actually taken over a base in this part of the Crimea.
CHIOU: And that was Ben Wedeman there. He does join us right now from that airbase with more details on what he's been seeing.
Ben, in the last hour when we were speaking with you, there was a lot of movement where Ukrainian troops are moving closer to the base. They said they had just spoken with Russian troops.
What else have you heard? What's the latest from where you are?
WEDEMAN: Well, what we understood from speaking with them and some of their commanders was that they went to a spot and sort of faced off the other side, the men in uniforms without insignia, presumably Russians. And they tried to open a dialogue. Now hey seem to be having a good deal of trouble.
The commander told us that he's been on the phone speaking occasionally with an intermediary between him and the Russian forces. And they're trying to arrange a proper sitdown meeting with the Russian commander to try to defuse this situation.
The situation is very complicated, keeping in mind that on this base it's not just service men and women it's also families, children, wives and so the soldiers here are quite concerned the longer this standoff goes.
Now one of the commanders did tell us something somewhat disturbing. He said that he's been receiving anonymous phone calls threatening him and his family if they do not surrender to the Russian forces. He didn't know if that -- those anonymous phone calls where they're coming from. But that seems to indicate that there are a variety of levels of pressure on the officers and soldiers on this base to surrender and surrender very soon.
CHIOU: It seems very confusing, Ben. These soldiers in camouflage, as you mentioned they don't have any signage on them, but you can only presume they're Russian troops. Have they said exactly what they want and whether Moscow sent them? And what have the Ukrainian soldiers said that they're asking for?
WEDEMAN: Well, we -- we actually did have an opportunity in another location to speak with a commander of these, shall we say, anonymous forces. And actually he was quite frank. He was wearing a hat with the insignia of the Russian Black Sea fleet. He said that he came from (inaudible), which is a Russian city not far from the Crimea and that he was dispatched by his commanding officer from Sevastopol where I am to this ferry port on the far eastern side of the Crimean peninsula.
So it's clear that these forces, despite, you know, all the ambiguity in our descriptions, it's clear that they are Russian and they have been dispatched by the senior command in Moscow to make their presence felt, so to speak. And from what we're hearing from the Ukrainian counterpart is that it's quite clear that they expect them to hand over their arms.
Now one of the commanders here at Belbek base told us also that he had been told to sign a document swearing allegiance and loyalty to these Crimean autonomous authority, the local government that exists here. He obviously said he's unwilling to do so, that he continues to take orders from his superiors in Kiev, but on the ground it's very difficult to understand how much longer this standoff can continue, not just here but in a variety of military bases around the Crimea -- Pauline.
CHIOU: Right, exactly. There are about 10 military bases that are under similar circumstances.
Ben, thank you very much for trying to clarify the situation there. That's Ben Wedeman our senior international correspondent at the Belbek Airbase in Crimea.
Well, this photographer has been participating in the protests in Kiev and she filed an iReport to address the divisions reported in her nation. She says she grew up in a Russian speaking area of Ukraine, but now lives in the capital. And she blames Russia for fostering what she called fear of force Ukrainization over the years.
Now in reality, she says that there has not been any language or ethnic persecution of Russian speakers. And she writes "putting troops on Ukrainian land is going to bring the very opposite result from what Putin expected. I believe it's actually uniting Ukraine," she says.
You can read the rest of her account at CNN.com.
Now to our other big story today, to South Africa where Paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius is on trial for the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. Court is now done for the day. It's the second day after the prosecution called up the husband of the first witness Michelle Berger.
Now earlier the defense cross examined Berger, a neighbor who said she heard screams followed by gunshots. The judge briefly adjourned the court after a local news station showed a picture of that witness who asked not to be shown on television
Now this is the first time a criminal case is being televised in South Africa.
Let's go live to Pretoria now. Robyn Curnow joins us from outside the high court where the trial is being held.
So, Robyn, we heard from that first witness and also another neighbor, a second witness today. Tell us what happened in court.
ROBYN CURNOW, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's the end of day two, as you said. And it's -- the pace has really picked up. In fact, we've heard from three witnesses throughout this day. I was in court for much of the day. And at times, it was quite dramatic, quite emotional. Michelle Berger, that first witness you were talking about, actually broke down in tears at one point when she kind of tried to convey the sense of trauma she said she felt when she heard the screams that she says were Reeva's and that they were bloodcurdling if you remember the testimony from yesterday.
So she felt very emotionally affected by it, saying she kept on relieving that -- the sense of these screams. So that was very powerful.
But just remember her testimony has been to a large extent picked apart by Pistorius' defense team.
So then we were moved on to witness number two, another neighbor, another woman who actually lived closer to Oscar Pistorius, diagonally opposite his house. She also then described how she had woken up in the night, how she had heard an argument, she said, for about an hour before this incident, this shooting incident where she then said she heard screams, shooting and more screams.
Now what is interesting about her testimony that it didn't last very long, because a combination of interpretation between Afrikaans and English and also confusion about what she was trying to say. And also, more importantly, she kept on saying something to the effect in Afrikaans (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE) which means I can't remember. So a lot of her testimony involved I just can't remember those details
So it appeared for both the prosecution and the defense side that she wasn't very helpful, in fact quite useless and she wasn't really on the stand for very long.
But what has come out from both of those testimonies of those women is this sense that they were trying to get a sense of the screams and whose screams and when they screamed and when it fitted in with the shots. And what we're getting from the cross examination is this repetitive sort of theme that perhaps Oscar Pistorius' screams for help that he says he made in his affidavit sounded like a woman's, were high pitched enough to make these women think it was a woman screaming for help, but in fact it was Pistorius.
So that's the kind of angle we're going to be seeing as perhaps the thread of the defense argument is that there must not be confusion over whether it was a man or a woman. You know, this is going to be perhaps the crux of what all of that means in terms of what the screams and the shots.
CHIOU: Yeah. the prosecution really hammering home also the distance between the witnesses homes and actually Oscar Pistorius' home. And the quality of what they could have heard in terms of audio. It's been very interesting. And these are just the first two of possibly 80 or so witnesses.
Robyn, thank you very much for recapping day two of the Oscar Pistorius trial there in Pretoria.
And News Stream will be right back after this break.
CHIOU: Although she grew up in a political family, this month's Leading Woman didn't plan on a career in politics, but a tragic turn of events changed her path. Paula Hancocks caught up with South Korea's first female president.
PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: She's one of the world's leading political figures and presides over the 15th largest GDP in the world.
And so was this building here when you were here as a teenager? This part of the Blue House?
PARK GEUN-HYE, PRESIDENT OF SOUTH KOREA: Completely changed.
HANCOCKS: Oh, is it?
South Korean President Park Geun-Hye is making her mark on the global stage as South Korea's first female president.
Park was elected to the Blue House in 2012, an achievement that surprised some as the country has one of the highest levels of gender inequality in the developed world.
Now this is a very male dominated society. And many smart, well educated women are struggling against a very entrenched glass ceiling. How can you ensure there is equality rather than simply being a symbol of equality.
GEUN-HYE (through translator): I believe the very fact that I was elected as the first female president of the Republic of Korea is testament to the dynamism of Korean society and thus I am confident that as long as women really continue to hold onto their dreams and work hard, they will gradually be able to ebb away at the glass ceilings confronting them.
Whether it being the political circles or other fields, we will seek a society where women can actually live out their potential and build up their careers.
HANCOCKS: Park's career path began outside of politics, even though her father, Park Chung-hee was president for 18 years.
You were here in the Blue House as a teenager. Did you always know that you wanted to be president of South Korea, or did you have a very different dream when you were a child?
GEUN-HYE (through translator): When I was a child I longed to become a teacher. And after I got into college I had hoped to be able to contribute to the industrialization of my country by being involved in research in science and technology. And that is why I subsequently chose my major in electrical engineering in college.
But my life took a completely unexpected turn.
HANCOCKS: That turn took place in 1974 when Park's mother was killed during an assassination attempt on her father. At 22 years old, Park became the first lady of South Korea with duties like receiving first ladies from other countries. All this thrusting her into politics.
30 years later, she solidified her political ambitions when she became the head of South Korea's Grand National Party in 2004.
Throughout her career, Park says she's viewed herself as a voice of the people.
GEUN-HYE (through translator): I would say that my greatest mentor from whom I seek council is the citizens of this country.
CHIOU: And that is our Leading Woman this month.
News Stream will be right back after this short break.
CHIOU: We want to bring you back to Ukraine now. One of the reasons Crimea is so important to Russia is because much of Russia's Black Sea fleet is based on a base on the peninsula. Our Ivan Watson joins us live now from a private boat on the Black Sea. Ivan, tell us what you're doing and what's going on where you are.
IVAN WATSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Actually, I'm in Istanbul's Bosphorus strait. And the reason that's important, Pauline, is this is the only route that ships can use to get to the Black Sea to get to Crimea. It is something that powers, that governments in the region have fought over for centuries. And it's become important with this standoff, with this crisis in Crimea right now.
Earlier this morning, two Russian warships steamed up this channel of water through Turkey's largest city on their way to the Black Sea presumably on their way to Crimea where Russia maintains the headquarters of its Black Sea Fleet.
Now I just got off the phone with the ambassador of Ukraine to Turkey. And he tells me that the flagship of Ukraine's Black Sea Fleet, it's a frigate known by the name The Hetman Sahaidachny, it is now also on its way and expected to come within the Bosphorus Strait within the next hour also on its way to the Black Sea and to Ukraine's coast.
Now the question of where it will go is important, because we know that Russian forces and that (inaudible) to be united with Russia have fanned out across the Crimea. That's where the Ukrainian navy warship would normally go. The ambassador tells me that it's likely that this flagship of the Ukrainian navy will probably have to go to another naval base on Ukraine's coast, one that is not being threatened and encircled by Russian military forces at this time.
And this is how we can see the buildup of forces and how the two militaries and their navies are positioning themselves right now around this contested area -- Pauline.
CHIOU: And we can also see how this could very much ratchet up the tensions between Russia and Ukraine.
Ivan, thank you very much for giving us an update on what's going on there in the Bosphorus Strait. Ivan saying that he's waiting now for the flagship of the Ukrainian naval fleet after two Russian warships had passed by earlier today.
Now before we go, let's update you on the standoff in Ukraine one more time. Vladimir Putin says he has the right to protect ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine, but a NATO official rejects claims by the Russian President and says there is no threat to Russian speakers there.
President Putin also blamed the west for meddling. And he slams sanctions against Russia, warning they would do multilateral damage.
Washington is moving to isolate Russia and support Ukraine's new government. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry visited Kiev's Independence Square just a couple of minutes ago.
Now officials traveling with Kerry say the U.S. will give Ukraine a $1 billion loan guarantee. It would also send advisers to help Kiev deal with its economic challenges and energy sector reforms.
So, a lot going on with the Ukraine story. We'll keep on top of that.
This is News Stream, but the news continues at CNN. We'll join special coverage of the crisis in Ukraine on CNN USA coming up next.