tv Inside Story Al Jazeera March 12, 2014 5:00pm-5:31pm EDT
and. naval forces from the u.s. bulgaria are running exercises in the black sea and said they won't recognize sunday's referendum on crimea. more news in the next hour. >> the acts ukrainian prime minister is in washington to see the president. what can he ask for in the way of help and what can he expect to get? that's the inside story. >> hello, i'm ray suarez.
prime minister yatsenyuk was named interim prime minister of ukraine as demonstrators clashed with police and as the old government fell. in the drama filled days that followed president yanukovych fled the country and russian forces took control of the crimea peninsula, and now that former of ukraine, formerly russia, is now heading to its independent status. it is assumed that it will be an interim status before it joins russia. what is at stake for the united states? what american national interests are on the line when people in other countries argue over a territory and in international board changes. prime minister yatsenyuk comes to washington hoping the u.s. will back its threats with action. president obama hosted his first
meeting with ukraine's interim prime minister yatsenyuk wednesday. >> the interests of the united states are solely in making sure that the people of ukraine are able to determine their own destiny. that is something that we here at the united states believe in deeply. we know that you believe deeply in it as well, and you can rest assured that you would have our strong support as you move forward in these difficult times. >> the two leaders discussed peaceful ends. the goal, get russia to accept it's sovereignty and it's new government. >> they cannot dictate to them how they should arrange their affairs. that is not something that can be done with the barrel of a gun
pointed at you. >> with fight for our freedom. we fight for our independence. we fight for our sovereignty, and we will never surrender. >> as the diplomatic wheels turn in washington, russian troops are still firmly in control. the world waits to see what will happened at the ballot box sunday. and the world waits to see if they'll breakaway from ukraine and become part of russia. >> we completely reject a referendum patched together in a few weeks with russian military personnel basically taking over crimea. we reject its legitimacy. it is contrary to international law. it's contrary to the ukrainian
constitution. >> reporter: the crimean government expects the vote to go russia's way. >> after crimea joins the russian federation as a republic all the illegal armed formation which will be soldiers of the ukrainian army which refuse to join the russian army will be given the possibility of leaving this territory and leaving their weapons behind and moving to the continental ukraine. >> reporter: ukrainian forces say the number of russian troops in crimea doubled over the weekend approaching 30,000. no shots have been fired. >> we cannot launch a military operation in crimea as we would expose the eastern border and ukraine would not be protected. the russian military is counting on that. >> n.a.t.o. sent reconnaissance planes over poland and romania. russian forces currently control
the roads leading into crimea leadinfrom ukraine and militarys with rockets launchers were sent in wednesday. secretary of state john kerry will be sent to meet with russian foreign minister lav r rov. >> we'll meet with hopes, i think the hopes of the world, that we'll be able to find a way forward that diffuses this. >> the u.s. has limited options pressuring president vladimir putin compared to its european allies. europe has strong economic ties to russia and those ties go both ways more than a quarter of europe's natural gas comes from russia. so far the european union has acted cautiously but has threatened the possibility of
sanctions. for now the american strategy is to help the new ukrainian government in ways both symbolic and substantive by pledging $1 billion in aid by also talking tough about sanctions which could include asset freezes and visa restrictions. >> reporter: besides loan guarantees and anunsations is the united states ready to back the ukrainian government and strengthen kiev's claim to all of the current at this hour torcurrent--territory. we want to begin our conversation with al jazeera white house correspondent mike viqueira. mike, privately and publicly is the white house talking as if they really believe that the situation that now exists in crimea can be rolled back? that putin and his allies would leave it, and it would remain a part of ukraine? >> publicly they're focusing on
the carrot and stick approach although the sticks are few and far between. sending international monitors into crimea, the russians have shown no interest in that thus far. you talk about loan guarantees. there is no guarantee that congress will pass that. nothing is easy in washington. it's bogged down as this $1 billion package even though the house has passed a version and the senate passed one out of committee today bogged down over a disagreement with the structure of the imf. nothing is certain domestically with the united states and nothing is certain internationally. i might add that russia is now part of the wto and we've seen this integration with russia and the rest of europe, and it's a tool and incentive to create world peace because no one would wasn't to broach or break these economic ties. now no one wants to break them after one member country because
everyone is tied together so closely. >> we saw the same kind of hesitation with libya, with action in syria before removal of the chemical weapons. is collective action really the only action or is the country like the united states ready to move on its own? >> that's an interesting question, and it gets to what has happened over the last 20 years. we talk about a $20 billion loan guarantee package but ukraine has senukraine--the united stats always been trying to pry ukraine away from russia's orbit. this illustrates why this is such a controversy over the last few days because ukraine really is important. >> mike viqueira, thanks a lot. we're going to take a short break. when we come back we'll talk with area experts about the way
>> president putin, mr. putin, tear down this wall. the wall of war, intimidation, and military aggression. let's talk. let's calm down. >> welcome back to "inside story." i'm ray suarez. ukrainian prime minister yatsenyuk just wrapped up a meeting with president obama at the white house, as you saw there, as the united states pledges support for the new government in ukraine. it is pushing a diplomatic solution for russian military action in crimea. on this edition of our program we're discussing the american strategy and the leverage the united states holds as we move forward. joining us now thomas graham
special isn't to george w. bush to russia from 2004 to 2007. and lee feinstein, ambassador to poland from 2009 to 2012, whose incoming dean indiana school of global studies. and in london, tawni leake. fellow on foreign relations. thomas, what vital interests are at stake here and how far is the united states willing to go to defend them. >> the question is whether a country should be able to use their military force to seize a territory of a neighboring state. this goes all against the principles that have guided global security over the past several decades if not longer. and the united states wants to send a signal that there are
rules, they have to be honored, and if a segment of a country wants to secede, there are rules and regulations that regulate that, and that ought to be followed, and that is not the case in the present circumstances with crimea. >> so when president putin uses the example of kosovo prying itself away from serbia with the force of american arms, is that a valid comparison to ukraine? >> i don't believe so. the situations are radically different. you will remember that in a case of kosovo there are, in fact, negotiations that occurred over seven or eight years with the help of the u.n. other organizations. they went back and forth with between the kosovo townshi coas.
and it was only--this is quite difference in crimea. the russians have used force initially and not in this process. and when you look at the referendum the thing that is disturbing about the referendum beyond question of legality is you're talking about a weighty matter that has long-term political economic and cultural consequences geopolitical consequences, and there has been no, in fact, deliberate discussion of this before a decision is taken. so the referendum on sunday, if it, indeed, takes place, and i believe it will, will not only be the considered voice of any set of people. >> ambassador, you heard tom graham talk about how over the last decades we tried to knit
countries into a network of international agreements, covenants, mutual arrangements that would prevent this kind of thing from happening. but don't countries that fancy themselves big powers reserve the right to act in their interest when they see fit? isn't putin doing what big powerful countries have done for a long time? honor the agreements until you don't want to honor them any more? >> well, frankly it's hard to know precisely what putin's motivations are. i mean, in his long-term interests this would seem to have accomplished exactly what he was hoping to avoid, which was to unify a majority of the ukrainian people, a very firmly in orientation that they were headed in any case to the west and closer to europe. the key thing now is to r reinforce the principles tom
graham was talking about. to be able to vie hate those principles without a strong united international response would be to create great instability not only in that part of the world, but much more broadly. >> you've heard everything leading up to this conversation from our white house correspondent, and prime minister yatsenyuk. how far is america going to be willing to stick its neck out in the interest of ukraine? >> well, in europe there is a very big debate going on as far as what europe can do. europe faces a serious situation, and there are many similar potential dangerous points in europe that coul could--europe is trying to find it's own way. a project of sanctions, no names yet, but it was tough by
european standards, which does not mean that it has the potential to reverse the situation on the ground in one night, but i think europe has learned that russia got away too easily in 2008, and if it gets away again, then we'll face even more grave consequences some years down the road. >> well, mr. ambassador, you wonder when you hear putin and other members of the russian leaderships speaking, and you hear president obama today, whether there are positions now this late into the crisis are so mutually exclusive that somebody is going to have to climb down. >> well look, president obama has been very, very firm, and as you said, tough. this meeting in the oval office with the interim prime minister of ukraine sends a very, very strong message of support for ukraine and the people of
ukraine. but at the same time the president has said he's prepared to use sanctions in this g-7 statement that was just referred to. i think that's extremely important because it shows that the united states and europe are prepared to speak with one voice and act together. but i think everybody wants to avoid that circumstance, find an off-ramp for putin so he can save face and we can resolve this issue diplomatically. we talk about time. there is this referendum, and first of all secretary of kerry is going to be meeting with his russian counter part prime minister lavrov later this week, and we hope that illegitimate referendum can be avoid: but if it can't be avoided there may be additional time for diplomacy so long as it coupled with strong, united position of europe and the united states because russia has to take additional steps
before annexation of crimea into russia. >> president obama was sitting across from the interim prime minister, but he wouldn't have been sitting across from ukrainian leaders of similar talent for much of the last 20 years. does it weaken america's hand in this instances that ukraine has been pretty badly run since the break up of the soviet union? >> well look, the problem that the united states faces and europe faces that ukraine at this point is pretty much a basket case, and it needs a tremendous amount of monetary assistance to deal with this set of pressing problems. but you put your finger on a broader issue. what has been problematic in ukraine for the past 20 years
are elites. the elites who have spent much of their time actually in corrupt practices, stealing money from the state, and not building up the institutions of power that would make ukraine governorible. we came to this crisis in the past three or four months for that reason. people did go out into the square initially because yanukovych's decision to back away from an agreement with e.u. but quickly the protest moved beyond that to questions about the government corruption and so forth. yanukovych fled, but ukraine is still left with the same elite that have performed so poorly over the past several years. one of the questions for the united states and our european partners what, if anything, can we do to go to encourage the formation of ukrainian ruling elite, governing elite that puts
the interests of its country ahead of its own parochial interests. >> what can the united states and it's european partners do for a country that is in a weakened state and financially much weaker than it was when this 2058 star all started in tn three months ago. >> i think tom points out exactly the right thing. that's what i've been wondering about ukraine. they have fantastic people, wonderful people who have not managed to produce elite worthy of them. but now there is a strong determination to change that and come up with new ways of government, new economic policies, etc. wishful reform is stronger than ever probably for the first time seriously so. so i think what the united states and europe could do and should try to do is to really provide reasonable amount of security for that transformation
for that to be able to take place. we discussed putins motivation. i don't think putin went lightly into that area. we wouldn't agree with him in many things, but he's conservative, and for him to violate international agreement that way must have been a big thing. i do not know what his plan end game is. if he wants crimea to russia, but he might back down after leverage of ukraine, ukraine political life, ukraine status in the world, membership of different organizations, etc. russia is unlikely to use that
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>> welcome back to "inside story." i'm ray suarez. on sunday crimea hold as referendum on whether to declare independence from ukraine and align with russia. on friday secretary of state john kerry will meet with russian foreign minister lavrov. senator feinstein there has been so much concentration on president obama's alleged
weakness and vladimir putin's alleged strength. but with all of this concentration on whether putin is winning in crimea, are we losing sight of the fact that we just lost ukraine. that this action might be pushing ukraine into the arms of the west? >> well, i think that's an excellent point. and first of all i want to say that this is a very difficult crisis. i think that president obama and secretary kerry have handled this extremely well, making it clear that they're prepared to apply sanctions, already applying sanctions unilaterally while working with the european who is have been reluctant to take that action with the statement we got from the g-7. i think the president has made it clear and this is a no-kidding situation. yes, the calculation for president putin is hard to imagine. if the presidential election and ukraine is now scheduled from
may 25th, if crimea is not part of ukraine, and the russian-speaking majority in crimea is not voting, then the outcome that president putin would want to see and the influence of the parliament is missing. it's very hard to see this. as president obama has said, this is as much a sign of president putin's overall weakness than it is anything else. >> tom graham, do you agree with the ambassador that the united states administration has used what leverage available to it to the best of its advantage? >> well, the point i would make is ukraine is a higher and salient issue for putin and the russian population than it is for the united states. the levers that the united states has pulled, economic
sanctions, personal sanctions in the next few weeks are very weak given the resistence and the pain the russians are willing to endure to push forward with their national interests. the way putin sees this situation unfolding, it is about the government in kiev, and he believes that united states and europe at the end of the day will no make the decision to bring ukraine state into european institutions. that's the outcome he would like to see. to keep ukraine in play for russia over the longer term. >> we have very little time left but i want to hear about the
outcome of the referendum. many around the world said they won't recognize the referendum. what difference would it make? >> if we don't recognize the ref republicareferendums, it will hl effects. if crimea becomes part of russia that will change trade with russia. it will be a new situation. but when it comes to the united states i would also like to stress what is at stake not only world order but the availability of the west and the united states to shape any future world order because it's the united states and if we don't, many other countries will take noti notice. >> to my guests, thank you very
much. that brings us to the end of this edition of inside story. thanks for being with us. join us next time. in washington, i'm ray suarez. >> i'm phil torres, welcome to a special episode of "techknow." we wanted to share a story with you of innovation that brings out the spirit of welcome. >> hello, i'm cara santa maria, and i'm here to talk about innovations that change lines. we explore the intersection between hardware and humanity and we do it in a unique way.