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Speeches and Interviews by Ambassador Geoffrey R. Pyatt

Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt’s Interview with CNN

Aired February 18, 2014 - 14:00   ET



GORANI: All right. Thanks very much, Phil Black reporting there from Kiev, not too far from that dramatic demonstration and you're seeing some of the images coming to us from the square there. We are hoping to connect with the U.S. ambassador as we mentioned at the top of the program to Ukraine who is hopefully going to be able to join us in the next few minutes. And as I mentioned earlier as well we are going to be discussing what is going on in Venezuela with some of these dramatic demonstrations and clashes taking place in Caracas.

Once again I want to bring your attention to what you're seeing on this screen now in Ukraine, just a few days after it appeared as though a lull was taking hold between the two sides there in Kiev. What we're seeing now has developed over the last several hours. Phil Black was mentioning up to nine people reported killed, some of them police officers, other demonstrators just as what appears to be once again sort of a scenario that is reminiscent of some of the Cold War scenarios between Russia on the one hand and Western countries on the other is taking shape.

I understand we have on the phone from Kiev the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt. Thanks for joining us, sir. What's your reaction to what's going on right now in Kiev?

GEOFFREY PYATT, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO UKRAINE: Hi, Hala. Well, obviously we're appalled by the violence that's unfolding. It's been a terrible day in Ukraine's history. We're hoping that the parliament and the opposition will take immediate steps to deescalate. You can hear in the background right now the bells at St. Michael's monastery, where they're calling people to come to the defense of the Maidan. It's clear there are still thousands of people out on the plaza right now. And any effort to take that ground by violence would produce atrocious casualties. 

We are encouraging the quickest possible return to political dialogue. And we hope that that will happen this evening.

GORANI: And what is the U.S.' role in all of this?

PYATT: Well, we are -- first of all, we are -- we are friends of Ukraine. We want to see a Ukraine that is stable and democratic and economically successful. So we've been involved closely with our European partners throughout  this crisis, helping to encourage dialogue, making clear to all sides that violence is unacceptable and making clear our preparedness to work closely with a new Ukrainian government which we hope they'd be able to put together with a focus on getting the country healthy economically and building a broad -- kind of broad dialogue that's going to be necessary to rebuild democratic politics here.

GORANI: And on the government side, there have been accusations, especially after that leaked phone call between you and Victoria Nuland, the assistant undersecretary of state, regarding possible scenarios in which the U.S. could get itself involved, try to exert pressure to try to find the solution to end this crisis.

You know, how do you respond to these accusations that the U.S. is meddling, essentially, and clearly taking sides?

PYATT: Yes, well, again, I'm not going to talk about any phone calls. But I'll say, you know, our role has been an appropriate diplomatic one working closely with our European partners. And engaging closely with the government. We are Ukraine's friend in this exercise and we have made clear our view that the solution at this point is a new political compact and the creation of a new, broad, multiparty government that can begin the process of political healing here.

We -- I don't consider it -- I don't consider it meddling when we're in the business of helping to build bridges between the government and the opposition. And in fact, I'm standing in front of the foreign ministry right now. The government has, on several occasions, publicly welcomed the role of the United States has played in helping to encourage communication here.

The United States has invested a great deal of money and political capital over the years, helping to build a Ukraine which is sovereign and independent and democratic and we certainly don't want to see that slip through our fingers now.

GORANI: Lastly I want to ask you about something you tweeted. We believe Ukraine's crisis can be solved via dialogue, but those on both sides who fuel violence will open themselves to sanctions.

What does that mean exactly?

PYATT: What it means is that all policy instruments are on the table for the United States at this point. And we have already -- we have already exercised authorities here to revoke the visas of several officials directly involved in violence. And we've made clear that additional steps will be taken by the United States to the extent there is grave violence against people, demonstrators.

Obviously we're still in the process of picking up the pieces of what's happened today and as you've reported, it's an extremely dynamic and delicate situation still. But the United States wants to see the politics off the street back in Ukraine's democratic institutions.

GORANI: All right. Thank you very much, Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt, the U.S. ambassador to Kiev right now, discussing a very volatile situation in Kiev as well, with authorities asking people not to head to the center of town to avoid, quote, "casualties."