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Ukraine's Interim Leader in the U.S.; Pakistan's Foreign Policy; Imagine a World

Aired March 13, 2014 - 06:00:00   ET


(Transcript completed from 3/14 6:00am EDT airing)

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

Ukraine's new interim prime minister stepped onto the world stage in a final plea before Russia's referendum in Crimea this weekend. He spoke to the United Nations Security Council in New York.

ARSENIY YATSENYUK, INTERIM PRIME MINISTER, UKRAINE (through translator): My country has faced a military aggression of a neighboring country, which is a D5 member. This aggression has no reasons and no grounds. This is absolutely and entirely unacceptable in the 21st century to resolve any kind of conflict with tanks, artillery and boots on the ground.

AMANPOUR (voice-over): The West has heaped yet more condemnation on Moscow over what it calls an illegal plebiscite setting Crimea for Sunday. The U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who is also aiming for last-minute diplomacy with the Russian foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, here in London tomorrow, also issued this warning.


JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: If there is no sign of any capacity to be able to move forward and resolve this issue, there will be a very serious series of steps on Monday in Europe and here with respect to the options that are available to us.


AMANPOUR: And at the bundestag in Berlin, Chancellor Angela Merkel rammed that threat home, saying the Russian president's actions would just lead to catastrophe.


ANGELA MERKEL, CHANCELLOR OF GERMANY (through translator): If Russia continues its way of the last weeks, it wouldn't only be a catastrophe for Ukraine. It wouldn't only be as neighbors of Russia in danger. That would not only change Europe, the E.U. and Russia, it would also change Russia economically and politically and I can't say it often enough. We can't turn the clock back.


AMANPOUR: Ah. But President Vladimir Putin also can't say it often enough. He said it again: Russia isn't to blame for this crisis.


VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA (through translator): I would like to assure you that Russia was not the initiator of the circumstances we are talking about now.


AMANPOUR: Speaking in Moscow to security chiefs, he did say, though, that Russia needs to build relations with friends and partners in Ukraine as well as in Europe and the United States.

So might there be a glimmer of life at the end of this tunnel? Ukraine's new leaders are looking west for help, especially to the United States. The interim prime minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk was in Washington just before he came to New York to the United Nations for talks with President Obama and he was also on Capitol Hill.

Senator Chris Murphy took part in those meetings and he is actually heading to Kiev tomorrow, the eve of the Crimea referendum.

Senator Murphy, thank you for joining me from Washington.

Let me ask you, do you see any glimmer of hope, even at this last hour before this referendum?

SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D-CT): Well, first of all, this referendum is so obviously a sham, that you're going to have an election while Russian guns are literally being held to the heads of Crimean voters. They've taken down Ukrainian television, replaced it with Russian propaganda. I don't think anybody in the international community is going to pay much attention.

But the question of whether there's a light at the end of the tunnel is really connected to whether or not we can enact sanctions with Europe that will make this hurt.

And I'm heartened to hear the comments of Angela Merkel because if the United States and Europe together next week move forward on a round of crippling sanctions, not just against the individuals in Putin's government that launch these attacks, but against his state-owned banks, his state- owned petrochemical companies, there is a possibility that he will think twice about this.

I just think he fundamentally didn't believe that there would be any serious economic reaction from Europe and the United States. Hopefully we'll prove him wrong.

AMANPOUR: Senator, you're heading off to Ukraine and we'll talk about that in a moment. But first I want to ask you what you made of the interim prime minister, Yatsenyuk, who came to Capitol Hill.

Does he think that somehow Ukraine can ride this wave, can somehow survive this? Does he think Crimea is gone? What kind of help was he asking from you?

MURPHY: Well, I think he's very pleased with the words that he's hearing and some of the initial steps on sanctions. But you know, he told us privately what I think he said publicly, which is that words are one thing; he needs actions. And ultimately Russia needs to feel this in a very real way with very real economic hurt.

And I think he does believe that there is a point of return if we are able really change Russia's economic calculus. But you know, his military is not substantial enough to resist continued incursion of Russian troops. And he knows that we're not initially talking about military help coming. He just wants to see some substantial economic sanctions on Russia. And hope we'll deliver.

AMANPOUR: Now as we're talking to you, we're also showing pictures of Yatsenyuk in New York. He's meeting obviously a very pro-Ukraine crowd outside the United Nations and that was clearly a moment of sort of emotion for him on his trip to the United States.

You know, they're looking for action. You've just said clearly that the U.S. and NATO is not going to step in to push Russia back militarily. Do you believe that the U.S. has the levers at hand, even with the Europeans, to actually hurt Moscow? Because Moscow is saying, hey, this isn't going to hurt us; it's going to hurt you more. You all do business with us.

MURPHY: Well, that's clearly the rhetoric that they're going to us. But they know the opposite to be true. If Russia can't sell their gas to Europe, their economy evaporates. If their oligarchs and billionaires can't stash their money in European banks, then they have a dramatic reversal of fortune.

So this will hurt Russia much more than it will hurt our partners in Europe. But there is a legitimate question as to whether we're going to be able to move forward under those tough sanctions, because if Germany decides to stop taking Russian gas, that won't be easy.

But ultimately I think Germany and others understand that this is a matter of their territorial integrity as well, that you know, five years ago is ridiculous to think that Russia would march on Ukraine. Five years from now, who knows what those guys' ambitions will be, if this goes unchecked.

AMANPOUR: Senator Chris Murphy, thank you so much for joining me there from Capitol Hill.

MURPHY: Thank you.

AMANPOUR: And turning -- thank you so much.

And turning now to a former adviser to the Kremlin, Alexander Nekrassov. Thank you for joining me here in the studio.


AMANPOUR: You just heard what Senator Murphy said, that ultimately this is going to hurt Russia and this is about territorial integrity.

Is it really -- can you really see a Russian president taking by force a piece of territory whose sovereignty is guaranteed?

NEKRASSOV: Well, first of all, it's a referendum. It's not a --

AMANPOUR: But you know it's not.

NEKRASSOV: Well, it is, actually.

AMANPOUR: But you know it's at the barrel of a gun.

NEKRASSOV: The point is that this is this, that Moscow does not accept the new regime in Kiev and by legal standards, it's not really acceptable regime because they did not really confine (sic) by all the rules, for example, even the impeachment. By the constitution, they broke all the rules. They just beset (ph) President Yanukovych, however good or bad he was.

Now there is what we're seeing now is the West trying to show a united front before that referendum. And there's only two days left. And so they're trying to show that they're together on this. It's not -- it's not the case, by the way.

AMANPOUR: Well, they're putting a very good show right now, the United States, also Angela Merkel, who's the big leader on this in Europe. She was very clear in the bundestag today.

And you know, you told me the last time we spoke that actually Vladimir Putin didn't have to do anything. This was before the incursion into Crimea. But he could sit there and watch the interim Ukrainian authorities sort of, you know, fail themselves.

You must be surprised, having even been a Kremlin adviser, at his moves.

NEKRASSOV: Well, I think the situation was getting out of control. I don't think he expected that the crisis in Crimea -- sorry, in Ukraine -- will take this form when there would be hostilities, there would be violence, there would be threats against the ethnic Russians in the --


AMANPOUR: But Mr. Nekrassov, you know that there has not hardly been any violence against, if any against the ethnic Russians and it is totally manufactured. Now I know you're speaking for the Kremlin position, for the Russian position.

But just as Senator Murphy said, what is this going to do? Is it going to embolden Putin? Are there going to be other grabs? Is it going to take Northern Kazakhstan, I don't know, Uzbekistan, other places that have ethnic Russian big populations?

NEKRASSOV: Well, I think that this is a very strange concept, you know, that people are saying that, for example, the Baltics are in danger and other parts are in danger. This was a drastic situation, dramatic situation in the Ukraine. We have seen basically an armed coup.

Now people say, no, it was not, but it does look like an armed coup. The legality of that regime in Kiev is very --


AMANPOUR: They're going to have elections and then somebody's going to have to deal with them.

NEKRASSOV: But the point is this: the situation got out of control. There was no way Russia could afford to have a sort of a semi-simmering civil war in Ukraine. The situation in Crimea, there would have been a bloodbath there. There would have been -- there was no choice for Putin and he had to act.

Now --

AMANPOUR: But you make that assertion and there was no basis for that assertion. Nobody was being aggressed by the Ukrainians.

NEKRASSOV: What the world wants to hear now is that whether this referendum will go on or not, it will.

AMANPOUR: Right. It will.


AMANPOUR: And they will vote to join Russia.


AMANPOUR: By the way, there's a -- there's no alternative on the paper to stay in Ukraine.

NEKRASSOV: Well, (INAUDIBLE) because they might not join Russia tomorrow. It will --

AMANPOUR: Yes, but there's no real (INAUDIBLE), real referendum has to give --


AMANPOUR: -- a black-and-white choice.

NEKRASSOV: But the point here is this, that the referendum cannot stop. You can't stop this process. Now what we see now is a last sort of attempts to do something, but they put -- know perfectly well, the G7, this will not happen.

AMANPOUR: So what do you think is going to happen? Secretary Kerry is coming here; he wouldn't be traveling all the way across the Atlantic; Sergey Lavrov is coming from Russia. Is there some kind of political solution, even after the referendum, that could pull this back from the brink?

NEKRASSOV: Well, obviously tomorrow's talk -- at talks I don't really think anything will happen in London. But after the referendum, we need to wait and see.

But I don't really see united support of the West. I don't really see that. Angela Merkel talking on the phone to President Putin sounded much different from what she was sounding today. So it's not -- it's very confusing on all sides. I think we need to wait until next week.

AMANPOUR: On that note, Mr. Nekrassov, thank you very much indeed for joining me.




AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program. And we turn now to Pakistan and the pressing question: when it comes to the Taliban, should the government talk peace or wage war?

A rash of brazen attacks in Pakistan and Afghanistan ahead of the U.S. pullout, make the need to resolve the insurgency all the more urgent.

But is Pakistan up to this task? I asked Sartaj Aziz, who's Pakistan's new national security adviser and de facto foreign minister. Here in London, he tells me that Pakistan is promoting a new policy of non- interference after supporting the Taliban's rise in Afghanistan back in the '90s.

And, he says, his country is willing to pay the price of taking on the Taliban if they don't come to the peace table.


AMANPOUR: Mr. Aziz, welcome to the program.

Afghanistan is about to see the end of the NATO involvement. How will that affect Pakistan? Will that be more dangerous for you?

SARTAZ AZIZ, PAKISTAN SECURITY ADVISER: Yes, in a way, it depends. If there is instability and large fighting, that's bad for us. But if there's a reconciliation and therefore some political understanding we reach, then, of course, it will be very good for us.

AMANPOUR: And do you see that happening in Afghanistan? We see the Taliban stepping up its attacks, not just against Afghans but against foreigners as well, scores of people being killed. And even in your own country, in Pakistan, some 500 people have been killed since September.

AZIZ: It's too early to predict; the hope is that there is some (INAUDIBLE) conflict going on and there are elements in Taliban who know that there is no longer the situation of the '90s when they could all run Afghanistan, as you remember at that time, between '94 and '98. They were able to capture 90 percent of Afghanistan.

So these pressures could persuade them to come to the negotiating table, provided the government in Afghanistan, the present one or the new one, and high peace council are able to offer them some participation, some power sharing, which is more than they can get in the battlefield.

So I think if you ask my -- as of my objective assessment, I don't see major reconciliation and I don't see a very large-scale civil war. But the middle alternative of the status quo continuing.

AMANPOUR: In the immediate future, after the NATO forces pull out, you envision some kind of manageable insurgency in Afghanistan, do you?

AZIZ: Our policy, Pakistan's policy is non-interference and no favorite, so that (INAUDIBLE) decide their truth (ph) for themselves. Afghan (ph) has been dictated a great power rivalry, great gains for a long time. So right now, the situation has happened when we want Afghanistan to find their own solution.

And if we follow a policy of non-interference because one of the apprehensions of the Afghan government and President Karzai was the Taliban have a better chance because Pakistan is supporting them. And we have convinced him that is not in our security interest. So therefore, we want them to find a peaceful solution and find a reconciliation solution.

So with that, I think we are now persuading other countries, regional countries, to follow the same so that none of us try to fill the power vacuum created by the ISAF forces, none of us have favorites.

We are non-interference. If we throw Afghanistan of one stakeholders together, and they find a solution, we can all compete in reconstruction, development and all that, but not in power gaming and in the proxy wars.

AMANPOUR: I want to ask you about drone strikes. You obviously are very well on record as opposing drone strikes.

AZIZ: Our basic point to President Obama when prime minister met him was that it is becoming counterproductive, the damage, the negative fallout of drone attacks far exceed any advantage you may get in getting a high- value target. So they have now tapered off the attacks. They have 110 attacks in 2010, then 70 in '11, then 50 last year and only last year probably 20 and no more.

So it is tapering off as far as -- but they will not formally say that we are ending our drone strikes, but they realize that is no longer --

AMANPOUR: So they're buying what the Pakistani government is saying about it?

AZIZ: Buying our arguments, but also international.

AMANPOUR: There's only one problem here, and that is the United States says that it can't count on the Pakistani authorities and the Pakistani government to go after these terrorists.

AZIZ: There may have been some suspicions in the past. But now I think our understanding on these things is much better and we have convinced them that we are equally concerned about people who are posing a threat to people in Afghanistan.

So I think the dismissed understanding, a lack of lost, is diminishing.

AMANPOUR: At what point will you say these peace talks aren't working; we've got to try something else?

How long do you give peace talks with the Taliban to succeed before you give up and try something else?

AZIZ: You see, in these things you can't fix a time limit because they are a mark for a group of -- several groups who are involved. So the normal policy of talk-talk, fight-fight, is a -- is something which has been tried in the past and has worked well because --

AMANPOUR: You say it's worked well?

AZIZ: In many cases.

AMANPOUR: Except in Pakistan, for the last several months, as I said, 500 people have been killed since September. People are calling it an emergency and saying actually the government is failing its citizens, failing to protect them.

AZIZ: You see, when you want to launch an attack, you have perceived the situation and the capacity of them to launch a blowback, not just in the tribal leaders, but in the rest of Pakistan. So you need a large political consensus that you have tried all options and now this is the way to do it.

I think we have achieved now that large consensus and in the past few months.

So my own expectation is that in this case, at least we will be able to distinguish those who want to talk versus those who don't want to engage in dialogue. So then those who don't will become much easier to handle than all of them put together.

But in the short run, they are not at peace in the sense that the blowback can be quite strong, large capacity to create mayhem in many cities. But that is something -- price that we'll have to pay to restore peace.

AMANPOUR: One of Pakistan's great preoccupations is the relationship with India and what you always perceived to be the threat from India. What is Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif doing to try to make a better relationship between India and Pakistan?

AZIZ: First of all, I think, you know, there are three basic focuses while of the economy because our economy has slowed down in the last 6-7 years; people seen growth rate which is hardly any per capita income increase. And if the economy is weak, you can't achieve anything else.

Now unemployment can't be solved; poverty can't be solved. Your sovereignty cannot be protected and your position gets much weaker. And that requires a powerful energy crisis and so on, so forth. Peaceful neighborhood. Their side, the policy of having peace with Afghanistan and peace with India are political priority.

AMANPOUR: Mr. Aziz, thank you very much indeed for joining me.

AZIZ: My pleasure.




AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, imagine a world where two very different popes rely on one trusted adviser.

It was one year ago that white smoke rose over the Vatican, the curtains parted and a new pope named Francis stepped onto the world stage, with breathtaking speed and a common touch worthy of his namesake, Francis brought a new vision and vigor to a Catholic Church that had been mired and still is in sexual and financial scandals.

And yet even in retirement, his predecessor, Benedict XVI, still resides in Vatican City and the two popes share more than a postal code.

They also depend on this man, Archbishop Georg Ganswein, lives with the former pope and remains his personal secretary. At the same time, he serves the new pope as prefect of the papal household, arranging his private and public audiences as well as his travel plans.

With what some call his movie star looks, he's been labeled Gorgeous George by the Italian media. And even appeared last year on the cover of the Italian edition of "Vanity Fair."

If two popes under one roof is unprecedented, Archbishop Ganswein has made his own mark and in a changing church, remains a bridge between what was and what's to come.

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