Meet the Press   |  April 20, 2014

Ukraine PM talks Russia, Putin

The full Meet the Press exclusive interview with Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> we wanted to get the latest from ukraine . there's been more bloodshed with at least two people killed in fighting this morning in eastern ukraine . armed pro-russian separatists there refusing to stand down, ignoring the terms of a deal broker in geneva. two key voices from the senate foreign relations committee will join me in just a moment, but first i spoke this weekend with the country's prime minister who joined me from kiev. prime minister yatsenyuk, welcome to "meet the press." we thank you very much for your time, sir.

>> my pleasure, sir.

>> the west, including ukraine , the united states , and russia struck a deal to calm the violence in eastern ukraine . what's it going to take for this deal to hold?

>> well, much depends on the russian federation . as russia triggered this violence and russia supported these terrorists and russia was obliged in the geneva meeting to condemn terrorists and to condemn those so-called peaceful protesters with ak-74 in their hands shooting into civilians and shooting into ukrainian riot police , and if russia pulls back its security forces and former kgb agents, this would definitely calm down the situation and stabilize the situation in the eastern ukraine .

>> when you hear president vladimir putin talk about new russia where he talks about ukraine being part of russia , does that tell you that putin will not stop until ukraine is part of russia ?

>> president putin has a dream to restore the soviet union , and every day he goes further and further, and god knows where is the final destination, and he was very clear saying this in his state of the union two years ago, and i believe that you do remember his speech, famous munich speech, saying the biggest disaster of the former century is the collapse of the soviet union . i consider that the biggest disaster of this century would be the restoring of the soviet union under the auspices of president putin .

>> there is discussion that nato might even commit ground troops in the baltic states to make it very clear to putin that he cannot go further. do you think the baltic states , even poland, have a reason to be concerned about putin 's intentions?

>> the world has a reason to be concerned about putin 's intentions because what russia federation did, they undermined the global stability. they actually eliminated a nuclear nonproliferation program just to remind you that ukraine , when we gave up our nuclear arsenals in 1994 , and we got a number of guarantors of our territorial integrity . it was the united states , the uk, and russia , and actually russia violated this deal, and russia undermined the entire program of nuclear nonproliferation, and it's crystal clear that for today russia is the threat, is the threat to the globe and the threat to the european union and the real threat to ukraine .

>> vice president biden will be in ukraine this coming week. my question to you, prime minister, is ukraine strong enough militarily to stop russia in the east? if not, what specifically will you ask the obama administration for? do you need modern weaponry, advanced lethal wep upaponry to stop the russians?

>> we need a strong and solid state . we need financial and economic support. we node to overhold ukrainian military . we need to modernize our security and military forces . we need the real support . you know, it's easy to answer the question you just asked me. how can you stop the nuclear powers state which is russian federation that spent billions of dollars to modernize their military instead of ukraine as in the last four years the former president together with the russian supporters, what they did, they just dismantled ukrainian military and ukrainian security forces . so we need to be in a very good shape in order to stop russia , and for this shape, we need to have and to get the real support from our western partners.

>> so you need weapons?

>> we need financial, economic support. we need to modernize ukrainian military and to overhaul all structures of ukrainian defense system.

>> are you prepared to let eastern ukraine become autonomous, which would effectively mean it would be part of russia 's orbit?

>> russia made a number of offers starting with so-called federalization and then with a new constitution, and they strongly recommend us how to govern ukraine . my recommendation to russia is that we believe that they need to change their constitution, too, and to make ukrainian language as the state one because we have a huge ukrainian speaking minority in russia , and they need to empower their federal states with more autonomy, too. so the question is that they have their own country, we have our own country. and we can fix our problem inside with any kind of russian support. the more russians support us, the more problem we get. so if russia pulls back, we will have ukraine as one united territorial integral sovereign and independent state . any russian ideas related to federalism or to autonomous status of southern or eastern ukraine are aimed at only one thing, how to eliminate ukrainian independence.

>> final question, there have been ghastly reports coming out of eastern ukraine this week about some kind of forces forcing jews in the eastern part of the country to register with local authorities. what do you make of this? are these accurate? are jews particularly at risk?

>> we got an information that these so-called peaceful protesters with the live ammunition in their hands that defend a number of bulletins saying that everyone who is a jew to be indicated as a jew, and today in the morning i made a clear statement and urged ukrainian military and security forces and ukrainian department of homeland security urgently to find these bastards and to bring them to justice.

>> prime minister, thank you very, very much for your time. we appreciate it.

>> thank you, sir.