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Kerry's Strong Statement on Ukraine Crisis; Geoffrey Pyatt Talks Russian Control of Crimea; Major Decision Expected on Liquefied Natural Gas Exports; Major Disagreements over Sanctions on Russia; Some in Congress Critical of Obama's Foreign Policy, U.S. Intelligence; Interview with Amb. Geoffrey Pyatt; Interview with Rep. Mike Rogers
Aired March 6, 2014 - 13:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: Secondly, with respect to contact group and where we're proceeding, frankly, I think everybody has been working to put a contact group together. I think it's been a general assumption of all of us in unity that we would like to see if a contact group can be put together. And I think that the key here is whether or not that is going to be something that will work in the context of Russia's willingness to do this, and obviously Ukrainian views about this. Thus far, the Ukrainian government has expressed their desire to have the support of a contact group, providing, of course, that the government -- that Russia is dealing with them in that context. This can't be in lieu of the respect for the existing government of Ukraine and we don't intend for it to be. None of us who have been part of the discussions about a contact group view this as anything except supportive of the process.
But I believe there is a way to structure this. And that is obviously part of what we are now engaged in discussions with Russia through Foreign Minister Lavrov and to Mr. Putin. With respect to relationship with Foreign Minister Lavrov, it's professional, as all my relationships are with any foreign minister. There are moments in the course of the meeting over a year where you may be able to laugh at something, and there are moments where you disagree and disagree very strongly. And we work professionally. Both of us, represent our countries, represent our point of views and try to get the work of diplomacy done. This is obviously a moment where we have disagreement as we do on some other issues. But where we can we try to find a way forward, whether it's been on chemical weapons in Syria or with respect to Iran and P5 Plus One or other issues, Afghanistan and other things. So we will continue to work in a professional manner in order to try to resolve those issues that come to us and to try to do so in a way that advances the global interests of peace and stability and security. And that's what I'm trying to do.
So, another question.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Our final question comes from Oliviero Pergamino (ph) from TG1.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Mr. Secretary, are you satisfied with the way the European Union is dealing with this crisis? There seems to be quite a distance between countries that are close to the position of the United States and countries like Germany and Italy to some extent. They get all of their energy supplies from Russia. They seem to be much softer on the theme of economic sanctions and so on. That's actually the reason why the prime minister might be late for dinner because they're not finding an agreement right now --
KERRY: Actually, they did announce an agreement.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: OK, yes.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: How do you see the attitude of European Union?
KERRY: I think the European Union has been extremely cooperative and has been a partner in this thoroughly. There has been a complete and total communication and sharing of information and sharing of ideas. I do not believe there is a gap. There may be some differences of opinion about timing or about one particular choice versus another. That's not unusual when you have as many countries working together as we do.
But fundamentally, with respect to the question of what has happened and the need to protect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine, there is no difference whatsoever. With respect to the need to have some sanctions as a result of what has happened in Crimea, there is no difference whatsoever. And Europe, on its own tonight, has made its announcement through its own process and own debate that they have taken some steps. Now, Europe joins us in absolutely believing that we are all better served by getting back to a normality and a stability that will come through good diplomacy and good efforts to try to find a path forward that can protect the territorial integrity of Ukraine, protect legitimate interests where they exist of ethnic Russians and/or of other agreements like the base agreement and other things that Russia has that are in law. Those are things that we can deal with.
And our hope is that, together, Europe, the United States and others -- Canada, Japan -- there are a lot of countries interested in what is happening, and I think they all want to be supportive for a process that de-escalates, that reduces tension. We have a lot of things to do together. We do not need to be distracted or split apart by virtue of what is happened in Ukraine. I think it is fair to say, and I have said, that Russia does have some interests in the region. But they need to be dealt with according to law and in a proper way and dealt with in a way that can respect the integrity of the country. And that's what we're trying to do. At the same time, the Ukrainian people have an overriding interest, paramount interest here in having their rights protected, their sovereignty protected, their hopes and aspirations, which they died to achieve, that needs to be respected. And that's the tension here. And that's the -- that's what we're trying to balance as we approach a diplomatic and peaceful resolution of this rather than an escalation that could harm the efforts of a lot of other initiatives that we all are focused on.
Thank you all very much. Appreciate it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you.
KERRY: Thank you.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: So there he is, the secretary of state, John Kerry, also making a strong statement, saying Crimea is Ukraine. There is no difference between Crimea and Ukraine, that any referendum in the coming days to try to wean Crimea away from Ukraine, make it part of Russia or make it an independent nation, if you will, that is unacceptable. It would be a violation of international law. Very strong words from the secretary of state. Earlier, we heard from the president of the United States. He also was very tough on this issue.
Jim Sciutto's here. Gloria Borger's here.
Your quick reaction to what we just heard from the secretary?
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, clearly, the diplomatic path is still his preference because he makes the point, the reason why we have these sanctions in place but haven't activated them is because he wants to keep talks alive, leave the possibility for dialogue. They're still leaving that door open for yet another day even as things drag on.
He talked about unity within Europe. Smart question from the Italian reporter there, is there unity? Clearly, there isn't unity yet. Otherwise, I think they would have acted. Poland, right next to Ukraine, called for Article IV consultations under the NATO charter, which a country can do when it feels its security is threatened. Countries like Poland, they're feeling this just based by their position on the map much more than the countries to the West of them. And that's driving a different reaction to this.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: What I heard today from both the president and the secretary of state is immense frustration about this referendum. And, you know, they're calling it illegitimate, unconstitutional. We heard Nick Burns call it farcical. My question that I have is, are they doing what we call in politics a prebuttal, knowing what the result of any such referendum would be, would be pro-Russia. And are they trying to put the genie back in the bottle here? And will they be able to do it? Or has Russia -- and this is a big question -- effectively, through the kind of ambiguity of where Crimea now is, nixed it one way or another.
BLITZER: Let's ask the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine right now. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt is joining us on the phone from Kiev.
What's the answer, Ambassador, to that question? For all practical purposes, is Crimea under the control of Russia right now?
GEOFFREY PYATT, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO UKRAINE (via telephone): Well, I think, Wolf, you heard the answer to that from Secretary Kerry. It's a strong view of U.S. policy that Crimea is part of Ukraine and we're going to standby Ukraine's territorial integrity, as we have for the past 22 years. Clearly, the events of the past few days are of grave concern. It appears that the Russian hold in Crimea is tightening. You had Nick Burns' characterization of the referendum announcement as farcical. It's very hard to imagine any way in which this -- legitimately, why you have the country under effective military occupation by un-badged Russian forces. So -- but this is an issue on which all Ukrainians are united. I mean, one of the things that's striking to me, here in Kiev, is the agreement you see across the country. And there's been lots of -- but across the country from the East to the West there's a clear desire to see the country stick together.
BLITZER: Well, is it your sense though that, if they go ahead with this referendum -- and presumably the ethnic Russians in Crimea who feel close to Russia may not necessarily trust the government, the new government, in Kiev. Do you think they would vote to secede, in effect?
PYATT: I don't know how the vote is going to turn out but it's very hard to imagine a fair vote under current circumstances, without observers, with Russian troops on the ground, with great deals of political intimidation. You see that already in terms of the kinds of reception that's been given to some of the pro-Ukrainian demonstrators that have surfaced in places. It's hard to predict how this will turn out. But I don't think it matters that much because the important thing is that the Ukrainian government is committed to preserving their relationship with Crimea. The prime minister has talked about steps to grant Crimea greater autonomy under the Ukrainian constitution. You also -- we have to remember the situation of the Crimean Tartars, a historically Muslim population, which is supportive of the authorities in Kiev.
BLITZER: Ambassador, good luck over there. You have a tough job ahead of you. We'll stay in very close touch with you.
Geoffrey Pyatt is United States ambassador to Ukraine.
This crisis in Ukraine could have a substantial economic impact on Russia, certainly on Ukraine -- already has -- Europe and the United States. Fuel exports and imports could be a huge part of this development. Today, the White House announced the U.S. Department of Energy will soon make some major decisions about exports of liquefied natural gas.
Let's go to New York. Richard Quest is standing by.
Richard, what does that mean?
RICHARD QUEST, HOST, QUEST MEANS BUSINESS: What it means is, if Russia decides to use the weapon of its oil and gas exports, not only via and to Ukraine but like Germany, Hungary, Czech republic, even as far as France and U.K., but to those countries in Europe, like Germany, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Belarus, even as far as France and the U.K., if they start denying exports of liquid or natural gas, can the U.S. pick up the slack? Can the U.S., from its vast and growing production of gas, particularly as a result of shale gas, so- called fracking? The U.S. has about 110 different facilities for importing and exporting liquefied natural gas. Now, it's not easy. And it's very expensive. And frankly, if you start getting the gas out in the United States, albeit, at a fairly cheap price because of the sheer amount of production, then sending it to the eastern seaboard, liquefying it, putting it on a boat, sending it across to Europe and then distributing it, you can start to see this is not a cheap or long-term solution.
But, Wolf, if Russia turns off the taps and a crisis ensues, then, yes, the U.S. is now considering whether it can make up some of that shortness in supply.
BLITZER: Richard Quest with that explanation. An important development unfolding.
Thanks very much.
We're going to take a quick break, resume the breaking news coverage on the developments in Ukraine. You heard very strong statements from the president of the United States, the secretary of state. Standby. More breaking news right after this.
BLITZER: We're following the breaking news on the crisis in Ukraine. We heard from the president of the United States. He made an unscheduled visit to the White House briefing room, issued a strong statement, a strong warning to Russia. That was immediately followed up by the secretary of state, John Kerry.
Elise Labott is traveling with the secretary of state.
Elise, when they're talking about sanctions, the U.S. imposes some unilateral sanctions today, but getting all of the U.S. and European allies on the same page imposing tough new sanctions. The secretary of state was diplomatic. Saying they're basically in agreement, although there are disagreements on timing. There are major disagreements.
ELISE LABOTT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Well, Wolf, if you look at what the U.S. did today, these are very symbolic and meaningful gestures. But what the --- the real bit sanctions, the economic sanctions would take some time. And the administration didn't even actually list any Russian individuals or entities sanctions. They just kind of laid the framework to do so if they wanted to, if they got coordinated with the Europeans and they all agreed. Really, what they only did was these visa bans. And Secretary Kerry even said why they did that, because they want to give room for diplomacy to work. If this doesn't work, then they're willing to take these measures. So really saying to the Russians, Wolf, please don't make us do this. We really don't want to do it. We want to get to the table. We want to get some dialogue going.
BLITZER: We'll see what the Russians do. The ball is now in their court.
Elise, thanks very much. Some members of Congress here in Washington have been especially harsh on President Obama's handling of the crisis, including are those who suggest the U.S. intelligence community missed key signals ahead of Russia's invasion of Crimea.
And the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Mike Rogers is joining us right now.
Mr. Chairman, thanks very much for coming in.
So did the U.S. intelligence community screw it up, miscalculate what Putin's intentions in Ukraine, Crimea, specifically, were?
REP. MIKE ROGERS, R-MI, CHAIRMAN, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: I don't think they screwed it up. It's under review now. There were just two different analytical products by two different agencies. One said it was certainly the possibility that they could see more aggressive, meaning troop movement into the Crimean peninsula. One saying they just didn't think it was going to happen. But all the indicators were there. The intelligence was there.
Remember, it's always a lot of science and a little bit of art in the analytical product. You have to take not the complete puzzle and try to put it together. So I've ordered a review just to see why the differences, were there collection gaps, meaning were there pieces of information the intelligence community, from a collection posture, missed or didn't get, and how we might be able to fill those in, and why they came to those two different conclusions. So we're going to go through that review.
I wouldn't say it was a failure or they got it wrong. Again, lots of indicators there. I think even on Friday I came out and said it was clear that the Russians were in the Crimean peninsula and it was all based on intelligence product that I had seen. So I think they were getting a lot of the pieces right. No way to really tell what Putin's intentions were up into the last minute.
BLITZER: There are a lot of reports out there that the CIA basically got it right. The DIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency, missed on misread the situation. Are those the two you are talking about?
ROGERS: I don't want to talk about the two agencies specifically. Again, we are going through the review. There are 16 agencies and two produced the analytical product. We are trying to get through it and make sure we understand all the information we need so I can make a good conclusion. Again, not to try to beat them up. This is a tough call at the end of the day because you are talking about the leadership intent. And if you remember, Wolf, trying to determine leadership intent got America in trouble here not that long ago in the world stage. So they have been tugged and pulled in a lot of different directions. That's why I want to do the review and make sure we have the right resources at the right place, and that they feel free to make the calls in their analytical product.
BLITZER: There was a tough exchange the other day, John McCain, the Republican Senator from Arizona, was grilling Chuck Hagel, the defense secretary, suggesting there were intelligence blunders. And I must point out, last night, CIA director, John Brennan, issued a strong statement, saying this -- I'll put it up on the screen, Congressman: "I am very confident that the appropriate authorities reviewing this matter will determine where wrong-doing, if any, occurred in either the executive branch or the legislative branch. Until then, I would encourage others to refrain from outbursts that do a disserve to the important relationship that needs to be maintained between intelligence officials and congressional overseers."
You want to do this review right now to make sure lessons are learned, that if there were miscalculations, blunders, they are not repeated down the road. Is that right?
ROGERS: That's correct. You may find there wasn't. Remember, in real time, we were receiving information, and the indicators were there. I have been doing this long enough. I can come to my own conclusions. Always better to talk to the analysts who have more experience drilled down in one region. I didn't see any glowing errors. I saw two conclusions. If you are just taking analytical conclusions, somebody might be a little caulked off, if you will. But it wasn't completely inaccurate. You have to whole product and all of the information collected. A lot of the indicators were there, were collected. They came to a different conclusion. As I said, a lot of science and art in the analytical part, based on a lot of experience and lots of education in these areas.
So the review is maybe we didn't properly resource it and maybe we did and it just came down to a disagreement on the art portion of the science that we had and all those collection points, if that makes sense.
BLITZER: Congressman, one final question on Vladimir Putin and the stories out there, that Angela Merkel, the chancellor of Germany, reportedly said he was living in another world in a conversation she had with the president of the United States. The former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, here on "New Day, she said that Putin may be, quote, "delusional." You are privy to the latest intelligence, the estimates on Putin. Is he delusional, is he living in another world or is he savvy, shrewd and smart.
ROGERS: I think he is savvy, shrewd and smart. Remember, this is not an isolated incident. He has been successful in his invasion of South Ossetia, in the country of Georgia. In the last six months or so, he expanded the borders in South Ossetia further into Georgia. He said "for troop protection." That was successful. No real ramifications from the 2007 cyber attack that was just brutal across that area. He has been successful in making us back down on missile defense. We took four base missiles out of Poland and the Czech Republic that caused problems with the allies. He did well on the nuclear negotiations. Tactical nukes taken off the table and a big win for the Russians.
I think he sees this as a long-term game and he is experiencing long- term successes. If anyone thinks he woke up in the morning and decided to do something in the Crimean peninsula, they are fooling themselves. He had the legislature teed up and they said, if any portion of the Ukraine petitions to be part of Russia, they will welcome them. The legislature said Russian troops can go into the Ukraine. All of that was preset. And going into the Olympics, many people, including me, were saying, watch what happens after the Olympics. He's going to get much more engaged in the Ukraine. He telegraphed that significantly.
Again, I think people are fooling themselves. NATO has been cutting their defense budgets and nation states are reducing their contribution rates and have over the last decade. If anyone is living in the wrong world right now, I think it's them. We need to reengage in the notion that the reason NATO is there is to stop, at that time, the Soviet march into the West. And I would argue that Putin has the same designs. He will do it in a different way, but same designs. So we better prepare ourselves for that.
BLITZER: All right, Mr. Chairman, as usual, thanks for your analysis.
ROGERS: Thanks, Wolf. And congratulations on the 42 shows that you are doing across the day.
BLITZER: Thank you very much.
Mike Rogers is the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. Happy he is watching CNN.
But what he said was very significant about Vladimir Putin, the Russian president. He is not delusional and he is not living in another world. He is savvy, shrewd and smart. And if anyone is living in another world, he said, it's the NATO allies who are cutting back on the defense spending right now. We will follow-up the latest news in "The Situation Room" later today.
Samantha Power, the U.S. United Nations ambassador to the United Nations, she is outspoken on these issues and will join me live, 5:00 p.m. eastern.
Until then, thanks very much for watching.
NEWSROOM with Brooke Baldwin -- yes, she's back -- starts right after a quick break.