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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Protesters Remain in Kiev; Obama and Putin Talked over the Phone; Military Move around Ukraine; President Obama Talks With Putin By Phone For About An Hour

Aired March 6, 2014 - 20:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone. There is breaking news tonight. President Obama speaking this evening with Russian President Vladimir Putin. We are getting late details about exactly what was discussed. And we're going to get to all of that in the hour ahead as well as the latest diplomatic and military developments here on the ground.

We are coming to you from Kiev, in Ukraine, from Independence Square as we have been the last several nights. And I want to give you a sense of exactly where we are and what has taken place here.

This is one of the main roads heading into Independence Square. It's just a couple hundred feet in that direction. This is one of the main -- the last barriers, the main battlement that was made.

And I want to show you some of the weaponry and defensive items that still laying all around because as I've said over the last several nights protesters are still here determined to take back up the protest, take back up the fight if the new government here in Kiev doesn't live up to its promises.

Everywhere you go here in Independence Square you run across these basically handmade metal shields. These were used by protesters to try to protect themselves against snipers and against riot police. They actually have holes in them which the protesters could hind behind. They can look through the holes to see what was -- what was in front of them. But not all the shields are even made out of metal.

Protesters were trying to do whatever they could to utilize everything that they could get their hands on. This is actually a wooden shield which obviously would not stop a sniper's bullet. But you can see the handmade handles on it that people would use to try to protect themselves or at least hide behind as best they could.

And when you get up close to this barricade, you get a sense of just the size of it. The sheer size of it. It's made out of metal fencing. There's tires in there. There's steel rods. There's pieces of wood, corrugated tin. Whatever they could find they would try to use to protect themselves. And then protesters would be on the top of those barricades as well, throwing Molotov cocktails.

And what's really interesting is, even though the fighting stopped a little bit more than -- well, about two weeks ago, there are -- there's still weaponry all around ready to be taken up again. These are -- you see these a lot of places. Crates of beer bottles, empty beer bottles. They haven't been -- they're not here for drinking, they're here to make Molotov cocktails if it comes to that again.

I want to show you how they actually used them. This is a pile of beer bottles that they've put metal wires around. And then they were able to use these wires as a sling and basically get some -- get some height with these and really be able to throw these at greater distance just using something like this simple wire.

They would put gasoline in there, they would light the fuse. They'd have about 30 seconds. And they would use these Molotov cocktails, and they could even use them against armored personnel carriers and against tanks. And everywhere this kind of weaponry is all still around.

As I said, there have been a lot of developments to tell you about today. Let's get you updated on what's gone on for the last 12 to 24 hours. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER (voice-over): Tensions in Ukraine at a boiling point and the world is trying to avoid more of this. Video just emerging that was taken two days ago in the eastern sit of Karkiv, showing violent confrontations. Pro-Russia protesters beating supporters of the Western-backed government.

Far different scene today as jubilant crowds took to the streets in Crimea, celebrating a controversial vote by the regional government to join the Russian Federation and hold a public referendum March 16th that could ratify that decision.

The move sharply escalates the stalemate over the contested peninsula and was immediately condemned by the central government in Kiev and into Western supporters.

In a hastily announced address, President Obama saying it violates Ukraine's constitution and international law.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Any discussion about the future of Ukraine must include the legitimate government of Ukraine. In 2014 we are well beyond the days when borders can be redrawn over the heads of democratic leaders.

COOPER: Adding to the tension, the United States is beefing up its military presence in the region, sending an additional six F-15 fighter jets to neighboring Lithuania and deploying a destroyer into the Black Sea as part of a scheduled exercise.

Diplomatic efforts on Thursday with Secretary of State John Kerry meeting with his Russian counterpart for a second day and European leaders gathering to discuss the deepening crisis. Following through on threats made over the last week, the United States issued new sanctions, including barring U.S. entry to those it holds responsible for the current crisis. JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: The United States will not grant visas to those who threaten the sovereignty or territorial integrity of Ukraine, and if they already have one it will be revoked in those individual cases.

COOPER: The European Union also threatened to impose economic sanctions if negotiations with Moscow falter. Russia reacted angrily to the measures, vowing retribution.

SERGEY LAVROV, RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER (Through Translator): Such actions do not promote normal cooperation. It is impossible to act honestly under the threat of ultimatums and sanctions.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, there's a lot of ground to cover tonight geographically, geopolitically in terms of military operations.

Jim Acosta is at the White House joining us, Anna Coren is in Crimea for us, and Jill Daugherty is here with me. She's a longtime CNN Moscow bureau chief, who's currently a senior fellow at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government.

Jim, let me start with you at the White House.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Sure.

COOPER: Tell me more about the breaking news that President Obama's phone call with Vladimir Putin. What do we know about it?

ACOSTA: That's right, Anderson. The White House says President Obama and Vladimir Putin spoke for about an hour this afternoon. The president according to the White House reiterated his position that Ukraine's sovereignty has been violated by Russia. The president talked about the steps that he took today, including that authorization for sanctions against Russian targets.

But, Anderson, the president also talked about this path forward that they'd like to see take shape, that off-ramp that you've heard so much about over the last couple of days. The president is proposing direct talks between the Ukrainians and Russians and international observers on the ground in Ukraine to protect rights of ethnic Russians.

But interesting to read the Kremlin version of this phone call. They say that the president called Vladimir Putin and that Russia, according to this statement from the Kremlin, cannot ignore the calls for help from these regions.

So Vladimir Putin appears to be holding his ground here, Anderson. But he also says -- in that statement of the Kremlin, says in that statement that the relationship between the United States and Russia should not be sacrificed for individual differences. So that is an indication that perhaps Putin is starting to feel the pressure here. And I talked to a senior administration official earlier this evening who said that while the president and Vladimir Putin had their disagreements over Ukraine and Crimea during this phone call, they also agreed that there should be a path forward, a diplomatic path forward. But of course there's a difference between wanting one and finding one -- Anderson.

COOPER: And meetings will continue between Secretary of State John Kerry and --

ACOSTA: That's right.

COOPER: The foreign minister of Russia, Lavrov.

All right. Appreciate the update. Jim, thanks very much.

I want to go to Anna Coren, who's -- you know, we've been broadcasting from Crimea all this week. Anna Coren now on the ground here is being told she can no longer broadcast from her location in Crimea. She joins us now by phone.

So, Anna, what's going on there? Why are you no longer able to actually broadcast?

ANNA COREN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (via phone): Yes, really bizarre, Anderson. Just a couple of hours ago the management of our hotel where we've been staying now for over a week, we've got a team here, told us we basically had to shut down our operation or we'd be kicked out. We asked for the reason. They didn't give us one. Very unusual that basically said stop broadcasting or we'll kick you out.

We get the feeling, very strong feeling that they are getting pressure, whether it'd be from local militia who obviously had that major run in with U.N. special envoy Robert Serry yesterday and basically drove him out of the country or whether it's coming from the new Crimeanen government which as we know is very much pro-Russian.

So obviously we know they don't like the West, they don't like the United States, they do not like, you know, Europe. So obviously working for CNN which is an American news organization, when they hear that there is a great deal of hostility. So, you know, you're either getting the message out that's pro-Russian or, you know, they don't want to hear it.

COOPER: In terms of what you've seen on the ground for the last 24 hours or so, to you what are the mainly developments?

COREN: Definitely the major news today is this referendum. You know, we were outside parliament where they decided to, you know, go ahead with these votes on the 16th of March in 10 days' time. They've brought it forward. And that will basically decide whether Crimea stays with Ukraine or breaks away and becomes part of the Russian Federation.

And every single person that we spoke to today they were celebrating this news. They felt that finally people power had arrived to the Crimea, that this was their opportunity to return to the motherland.

You know, Crimea and Russia had such close historical and cultural ties. And, you know, some of the people that we spoke to, they were born in Crimea when it was part of the Soviet Union. So, you know, as far as they're concerned, they want Russia to be here, the government of Crimea wants the Russian troops to be here. In fact, deputy prime minister said that the only troops that should be in Crimea right now are the Russians. Any other force would be considered to be an occupying force. So they've basically given the Ukrainian troops an ultimatum, swear your allegiance to Russia or leave the country immediately.

COOPER: Anna Coren, you know this better than anybody. And so does your team. But please be careful on the ground there in Crimea. These are dangerous days. Appreciate you being there.

Perspective now on what is clearly a multidimensional puzzle from Stephen Hadley, National Security adviser during the George W. Bush administration. He joins us now. And Jill Dougherty is here as well. She'll probably toss in some questions even to you as well.

But the news that President Obama and Vladimir Putin spoke by telephone earlier tonight -- you know, you have obviously been a key player in similar conversations over the years. How did these conversations go?

I find the idea of -- their spending an hour together on the phone fascinating. And when the president tells Vladimir Putin that he's violating Ukraine's sovereignty, I mean, how does the conversation go?

STEPHEN HADLEY, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER, G.W. BUSH ADMINISTRATION: It's a little unusual, I think. There have been a lot of conversations between President Obama and President Putin. A little unusual in the sense that Putin, for all the discussion of off ramps, doesn't sound like he wants one. They've accelerated the date for the referendum. The referendum will now simply be asked to confirm a decision taken by this Russian-controlled parliament to -- for the Crimea to become part of Russia.

The news today was that the Russian Duma is taking steps to facilitate the admission of Crimea into Russia if or maybe we should say when they so request. So I think one of the -- there may be a bit of a disconnect. A lot of discussion about diplomatic solutions and off- ramps but not much indication that any of this is having an impact on President Putin from this grab of Crimea.

JILL DOUGHERTY, FELLOW, KENNEDY SCHOOL OF GOVERNMENT, HARVARD UNIVERSITY: And, Steve, how do you think this can help President Obama can possibly stop this at this point? It looks as if de facto at least, as you just mentioned, Crimea is moving toward union with Russia. What can U.S. realistically at this point do?

HADLEY: We probably cannot stop it. It seems to me what the administration is trying to do is to delegitimize the referendum. It is after all something that was -- the resolution was adopted by a, quote, "parliament", unquote which was taken over as I understand it about a week ago by some armed thugs. They installed the current prime minister who represents a Russia union party that got less than 10 percent of the vote in the last election in Crimea. So I think what they can do is to try to delegitimize it, to say you can't have a fair referendum when Russian troops are occupying the place, that where you have these kind of referendums that have led to secession as in south Sudan, for example, it has been something that was agreed by the Sudanese government and those forces in South Sudan that wanted to leave. And it was a way of resolving a two-year war. So this is really fairly unprecedented.

I think what the administration will do is one, try to delegitimize it, two make clear that they are not going to accept it, three, do everything they can to get the Ukrainian government on a firm footing, get it on its feet, solve its economic problems, take strong action to try to deter Putin from doing this again, make clear that Western institutions are open to these countries.

And what was hoped would be that Ukraine would become a prosperous part of the West and at some point the people of Crimea may reconsider this upcoming decision. But in terms of stopping the referendum and stopping some kind of formal incorporation into Russia, very tough.

COOPER: Stephen, is it clear to you that Vladimir Putin even wants Crimea to be part of Russia? I mean, there's an argument to be made that he can achieve just as much in fact maybe even more by not alienating other parts of the Ukraine by accepting it as part of Russia. Having it -- have be an autonomous region within Ukraine.

HADLEY: You know, if there is a climb down it might be that because one of the problems that, of course, this kind of thing has is that it really alienates Ukrainians and is going to push them to the West which of course is something that Putin does not want.

But Jill Dougherty said something two nights ago which was absolutely right. One of his strategies may be that if he can grab onto Crimea and make it basically a territorial dispute between Russia and Ukraine, it's going to be -- the Europeans will then be very reluctant to incorporate Ukraine into the E.U., for example, or into NATO or any of the other institutions because they're not going to want to incorporate a territorial dispute with Russia into European institutions.

COOPER: Yes.

HADLEY: So part of the strategy may be to freeze Ukraine in this never, neverland so that Russia will have another shot at getting what it really wants, which is to bring Ukraine into more directly its institutions, its reconstituted empire if you will.

COOPER: And damage Ukraine so that Europe won't touch it essentially.

Stephen Hadley, appreciate you being on again tonight.

Coming up next more on the military options after a number of ominous sounding moves today on both sides. Russian air exercises some American actions as well. The question is what do they add up to exactly?

Retired Major General James "Spider" Marks is standing by to try to help us make sense of it all. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Looking at newly uncovered video of a chase and confrontation between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian so-called self-defense forces on Tuesday. Right now, though, the situation all across Crimea is tense obviously.

We were talking to our reporter Anna Coren on the ground. So tense President Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke again by phone this afternoon for an hour. That is the breaking news. They talked to President Obama offering a diplomatic way out including Russian-Ukrainian talks. International monitors, Russian military stand down as well as Ukrainian elections in May. That said, today military move do not foretell any easing of the crisis.

We want to take a look at capability and possibilities. We're joined by senior national security correspondent Jim Sciutto and CNN military analyst and retired Army Major General James "Spider" Marks.

Appreciate all you being with us.

General Marks, the U.S. is moving assets into the region. We're talking about fighter jets and destroyer. Walk us through what's happening with those assets.

MAJ. GEN. JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Absolutely, Anderson. What we see right now -- Jim, thanks. If you could put the F-15s -- the Air Force is moving additional F-15s up to Lithuania. We're also moving some F-16s into Poland. So we have the positioning of some really what are high speed attack aircraft. And we also have the USS Truxtun, which is a destroyer which has left from the eastern and is about to go through the Bosporus Strait and into the Black Sea for a planned exercise with both the Bulgarian and the Romanian Navies. So that's what we see happening right now with U.S. forces in the region.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: At the same time we have these Russian moves, some of them which are pretty aggressive. I was just going to show you a satellite map of Sevastopol. This is the major port on the southern tip of Crimea and here you have this zeroing in here. These are Ukrainian ships and then you have these three Russian ships that have moved in, in a blockade. Is that right?

MARKS: Correct.

SCIUTTO: You know, the stuff intelligence officer. Is that how a blockade works?

MARKS: It does. The way you have to neutralize naval ships is you either board them, in other words you take control of them, you sink them to the bottom, or you blockade them so their function can't be performed. So this is the least aggressive if you will of the possibilities. SCIUTTO: Well, what's interesting, you mentioned sinking a ship because the other blockade they've been doing is further up the coast of Crimea at another base here where the Russians actually scuttled an old mothball, I think, a cruiser to block the entrance and block some ships inside. I mean, I think you know better than me, is that an act of war?

MARKS: No. No, no, that's not. What they're doing again is they're isolating that portion of the Ukrainian Navy that's in this port so they can't do anything. They can't use those ships. So really what the Russians are doing are saying we really have taken complete control ground, sea, air, space, of Crimea. We own it. And shots aren't being fired.

SCIUTTO: Facts on the ground as they say.

MARKS: That's right.

COOPER: General, there's word of massive air defense drills also going on in Russia not far from the border. What more do we know about it? What are the details?

MARKS: Well, what we know is the Russians are conducting an air defense exercise, and an air defense exercise by its very nature is not offensive. It's not provocative and it's clearly the right thing for Putin to do. This is the message that he is sending to the rest of the international community, which is if you, international community, want to get frisky with me, I'm getting myself prepared for a possible military operation.

This is what the exercise has right now. Up to 3500 troops, 1,000 pieces of kit as we say so that's aircraft and that's radar on the ground, and primarily surface-to-air missiles. That's the real what I would call the pointing tip of this spear in terms of the exercise.

COOPER: And, General Marks, just finally and very briefly, the movements by U.S. forces, the jets, the destroyer, how much is that really geared toward Russia and how much is it really geared to other U.S. allies, to Lithuania, to Poland, to countries which are getting nervous?

MARKS: Anderson, that's the -- that's the question. This is really done by the United States to bolster our relationships with our partners in the region. That's the intended recipient. Russia is looking at this. Putin is looking at this. This does nothing in terms of altering what he's trying to achieve in Crimea. And clearly his strategic efforts in the greater Ukraine. We'll see how that works out later on.

COOPER: All right. General Marks, appreciate it. Jim Sciutto as well.

You can check out more on the story, of course, at CNN.com anytime.

Just ahead, though, in this broadcast the Ukraine crisis from Putin's perspective. We always think it's important to try to look at things from all different angles on this program. And it's very easy to just call Vladimir Putin deranged or whatever some others have called him. But we wanted to look at what his strategy, what his mind frame is, how he sees this conflict.

Russian expert Steven Cohen says Putin did not create the crisis. He says it was imposed on him. We'll talk to him ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Certainly a lot of people in some parts of the Ukraine who would like to have greater relationships with Russia. We may see in Crimea whether or not they even vote to try to join the Russian Federation.

Matthew Chance showed us in a recent report some of those people's opinions.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Not far from Crimea, hundreds gathered in the southern port city of Odessa, demanding unity with Moscow. Ukrainian riot police, loyal to Kiev, look on as the banners of the old Soviet Union fly high.

One protester who gave his name as R-2 told me he was furious with the revolution in Kiev and wanted Russia to take control just like in Crimea.

"We're all standing here for Russia," he told me through the slit in his balaclava. "None of us wants to be part of the European Union."

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Now there have been a lot of voices this week framing this crisis as Vladimir Putin wanting to restore Russia to its former imperial glory.

Steven Cohen does not agree. He's a professor emeritus of Russian Studies at NYU and Princeton University. He's also the author of "Soviet Fates and Lost Alternatives." He says that Putin did not create the Ukrainian crisis. It was imposed on him. He joins us along with Jill Dougherty.

Professor, what do you mean by that? That Vladimir Putin believes that this was imposed upon him.

STEPHEN COHEN, PROFESSOR EMERITUS, RUSSIAN STUDIES, NYU: Well, he looked at what was happening in Ukraine beginning in November. He looked at what was happening in Kiev and he saw NATO coming at him again. Why he saw that we need to roll back to the 1990s. It's been American policy, the policy of the Democratic and Republican Party, to move Western power, spearheaded by NATO, from Berlin to Russia's borders. It is on Russia's borders in the Baltic, it's at Poland.

So stop and think for a minute what we have now. We have moved. We, all of us, have moved the old Cold War divide which was in Berlin, which we survived for 45 years, right to Russia's borders. Imagine what that means. And based on what your military people said in the previous segment, we are one step away for something much worse. And what this means to me is that American policy toward post-Soviet Russia has collapsed.

We need a new policy. Now Putin represents the opportunity for a new policy. But he demands two things. He demands that he be treated as an equal. That means that Russia has a legitimate national security interest at least on its borders and that NATO expansion stop. Once we say and do that, everybody will sit down and sort this out.

DOUGHERTY: Professor Cohen, right now this is going to be debated ad infinitum, but can you actually say how Putin expects to have it both ways because right now he's standing up for his rights, but he is damaging the relationship with the United States and to a certain extent with Europe.

So how does he realistically protect his interests, which he said tonight are very important to have a good relationship? How does he do both at the same time?

COHEN: Jill, since we knew each other in Moscow we can be Jill and Stephen, not professor. Here's the problem as I see it when we move toward negotiation. You've got two completely different narratives, two different stories about what's happened since November. You've got to find the common ground.

Second problem is, Putin doesn't trust our President Obama. He thinks he's weak, irresolute, has a short attention span, and Putin believes he's been betrayed by Obama. Putin trusts the chancellor of Germany, Merkel.

So I think, Jill, that if you're going to reconcile these conflicts, that Merkel has to play a leading role. I think that's absolutely crucial now.

COOPER: There's a lot of -- I just talked to a lot of people on the ground today in Kiev who say that they are starting to feel almost as pawns between Russia and the west. And we don't hear a lot of people talking about what the people of Ukraine actually want. Where did they fit into this?

COHEN: Well, Anderson, you know, I don't mean to criticize you because I do this sometimes myself. But there is no the people of Ukraine. There is no Ukraine. At a minimum there are two. History or God depending on who you think controls our destiny created two Ukraines, one leans toward Russia, one toward the west. They're about equally divided.

The Russian-leaning part is in the south and the east, and of course, Crimea, the western-leading part is in the west and looks to Poland and Lithuania and the European Union. This is a reality. The question is and this is what Putin is asking himself because you asked me why Putin felt this was imposed on him.

Why in November? I don't the answer, but why in November did the United States and the European Union say to the Ukrainians, you must choose between Russia and the west. At that moment, this is little reported, but it's well documented.

Putin said hold on, guys, why does it have to be either or? I, Russia, am willing to join the European Union to bail Ukraine out of its terrible economic crisis. We, the west, said no. Ukrainian must choose. Why would you ask a country profoundly divided by history to make a choice? Why would you do that?

COOPER: Stephen Cohen, appreciate your viewpoints, provocative as they. Appreciate you being on the program.

Coming up, what people in Kiev's Independence Square think of the referendum. You just heard Professor Cohen saying there is no Ukraine, at best there are two. We'll talk to Jill about that later because that's certainly a controversial idea and one that people here find deeply offensive if you say that to people here.

All throughout the day I've been talking to people who are brought to tears by the idea of Ukraine breaking up. We'll talk to some of them ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: As we reported the top of the program, a regional vote could happen in ten days and a referendum for Crimea to split from Ukraine and become part of Russia. The Ukrainian ambassador to the United Nations calls the referendum illegal. In Kiev's Independence Square here, people still mourning the dead, demonstrating. They are remaining here determined to stay here.

I spoke with people today to get their reaction on the idea of the referendum.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER (voice-over): In Kiev's Independence Square, a group of mothers protest for peace. A few dozen women barely noticed by the crowds. The protesters still living in the square pastime with daily chores. The sidewalks are still torn up, cobblestones left in piles in case violence breaks out again.

With word that Crimea will seek a referendum on joining the Russian federation, there is anger and fear, confusion over what happens next.

(on camera): Would it be acceptable for you if Crimea became part of Russia?

My mom is from Russia this, woman says, and she keeps telling me they'll not give up on Crimea. I keep telling her it's impossible breaking up Crime from Ukraine. Impossible just impossible. That's the way it is now. We are used to have Crimea. You cannot imagine it otherwise.

(voice-over): It is hard to imagine for many the pace of events here the last few weeks. I couldn't miss coming here, this woman says, to pay tribute to those who died here. I feel so sorry for those who lost their lives, for those who got wounded and are still recovering. I still can't believe something like this could have happened in Ukraine.

All that's happened here is still not clear. Some still search for answers. This sign says Sasha Kopones was killed here, but his girlfriend is looking for a witness to his death. Dozens who protested are still missing.

Leonid Navitzki has vanished. Misha Borovitz as well. The son says his friend, Andrei is looking for him.

Death is tragic in any case, this man says, but these people were not dying for nothing. They were dying for the idea for Ukraine. I'm a military man. I've seen things in my life. But still people died for their beliefs. This is very emotional.

On the central stage, a young man sings, another stands nearby. He speaks no words, looks straight ahead. His country's flag held tightly in his hands.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Joining me now is Ukrainian activist, Kateryna Kruk. Appreciate you being with us. We just heard in that piece a woman saying it's unthinkable the idea of Crimea breaking away and becoming part of Russia. Previously we heard a professor on, Steven Cohen, said he doesn't think there's a Ukraine.

At best there's two Ukraines, one oriented toward the west, one oriented toward Russia. When you hear that what do you make of it, the idea that there's not a Ukraine?

KATERYNA KRUK, UKRAINIAN ACTIVIST: To be honest I've heard it many, many times in my life and especially when I was traveling abroad and speaking about Ukraine to many people in Europe as well. And everyone was saying that yes, there is western Ukraine and eastern Ukraine. All the time I was trying to convince and bring facts to people that there is one Ukraine, but we have different people who think different way. And it's normal.

It's really very well we have different points of view. Right now, it's really very important to understand that yes, we have people in Ukraine who might have closer relations with the European Union or maybe with Russia, and so on and so on.

But the question right now is not with whom you would like to have closer relations with, but in what country you would like to live in. So it seems to me the question right now is much more bigger, much more important. That's why we don't have to mix them.

And while answering the first question, we might say yes, I want to Ukrainian, just like to have Ukrainian citizenship, but I would prefer my country to have closer relations with Russia. And this is the thing which is right now happening in Crimea, in Donetsk and Luhinz. When people are protesting and they are supporting this idea of staying within Ukrainian borders. There are a lot of people like native Russians just like by origin and Crimean taught us for example saying yes, we aren't Ukrainians, but we're Ukrainian citizens and want to remain them.

COOPER: The tatars ware Muslims who were expelled from Crimea by Stalin, many have returned in the last years and there is a big presence in Crimea. What do you think is going to happen with this referendum? I mean, 60 percent of the people there are Russian- speaking. There are these other groups, the tatars and others, what do you think will happen?

KRUK: To be honest, it's really very hard to predict because Crimea was a very sensitive issue for Ukraine. We also knew that Crimea was more pro-Russian than pro-European or pro-Ukrainian. Obviously because of the people who are living there. A lot of Russians, we have Russian fleet there, which means there are a lot of soldiers and military men.

And to be honest, a lot of tourists just like during vacations are coming to Crimea. So it's normal. It's obvious that they have closer relation to Russia. But to be honest, we don't know what about in political terms how are they going to vote.

The problem with referendum as referendum right now in Ukraine because of laws, central laws in Ukraine they aren't perfect. It's very easy to falsify results. Unfortunately knowing how this scheme works in Ukraine, we are expecting those results -- they won't show the real picture of what people think and what people know.

And also there is very important thing here you mentioned tatars who by Stalin were expelled, taken out from their native land. When Russians say that Crimea was always Russian, it's not true. Basically when we're looking at the history, this is the motherland of Crimean tatars.

Right now when people who have been living there for centuries, when they are saying that we would like to remain within Ukrainian borders, this is very important message for us. Because when we're speaking about minorities and when we're speaking about minorities strides, first of all we have to respect voice of tatars and things they would like to have.

COOPER: Just very briefly, are you frightened now? Are you scared? These are obviously very difficult days, frightening days.

CRUK: It's really very hard. Just in the beginning you've mentioned really very correctly that in Kiev we're still mourning. And still we're basically in Independence Square stopped on the 20th of February when we had those snipers killing people. It's really very hard for us to overcome this moment.

The thing is that we had even bigger threat because everyone understands that what happened here compared to war with Russia, military superpower in the region, there is nothing to compare. And it's huge emotional stress and huge emotional pressure.

And yesterday I was talking to a friend of mine from Poland, and she was asking basically a very simple question. We had different messages in our own media. Please explain me in two sentences what's happening in Ukraine, what might be happening next.

And I said, situation is really very tough and we feel this pressure every time, every day with messages that someone was kidnaped or attempt to be kidnapped, that we have Russian military occupying and now blocking a naval base.

But at this very moment, with this puppet government, which is issuing statements about referendum, about joining Russia, and so on and so on, it looks like that either we're starting some military actions or we have lost Crimea.

COOPER: I appreciate you being on tonight. It's very late. It's about 3:30 a.m. here. Thank you very much. I wish you the best.

KRUK: Thank you.

COOPER: Thank you very much, Katyrina Kruk.

Ahead we have an interview with Vitaly Klitschko, presidential candidate, talk to Ben Wedeman who is just back from Crimea. A lot more stick around.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: You know, it's important to remember when you're watching this on TV and hearing pundits and people talking about this, these are not a game of chess or pieces on the board these are real people whose lives are at stake.

I spoke to Vitali Klitschko, leader of the Ukrainian Democratic Alliance for Reform Party, heavyweight champion boxer as well.

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COOPER: What do you want people in the United States, in Europe to know about what's happening here. What's your message to them?

VITALI KLITSCHKO, UKRAINIAN OPPOSITION LEADER: We appreciate for support, for moral support from all friends of Ukraine and everybody in Ukraine everybody in the world want to see Ukraine as modern and country with stable political economic situation. And that's main goal. We Ukrainian's want to see Ukraine as a country with European standards of life without corruption, with rule of law, ad with human rights.

COOPER: Are you hopeful or do you believe real change can take place here?

KLITSCHKO: Yes, of course. We have huge potential. Ukraine have huge potential. That's why we have to unite to make changes in our country. It's possible. (END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: You can watch the full interview online at ac360.com. I'm joined now by Ben Wedeman who's just gotten out of Crimea and also Jill Dougherty. Ben, you spent the last week in Crimea. As you look back on it what really stands out to you? I mean, where do you see this going?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: What you feel is that on the one hand you have a very vocal minority of Russian- speaking people who are out there in front of the bases, sort of demonstrating, being quite aggressive with people.

On the other hand, you have the Ukrainian-speaking people who are much more subdued. I think they're worried about their loved ones in the military bases. They're worried about the potential for violence. And therefore you have this dichotomy.

At the same time, life is very normal. Today I was watching as cars were being stopped by police for driving too fast. Life on the streets of Sevastopol and other towns seem to be normal. But there's this underlying tension about what comes next. Certainly the idea there's going to be a referendum on the 16th of March to determine the fate of Crimea makes people even more nervous.

COOPER: Jill, you've been here for a couple of days now. What stands out to you? You've been in this region a long time.

DOUGHERTY: You know, for a while I thought like a couple of days ago I thought things were kind of quieting down. Now frankly I'm pretty worried about this referendum that's going to be taking place. Because de facto, whether the Obama administration or anybody else says that it's not legal, there's going to be a vote and it appears that it could go for a vote to join Russia.

And if that happens, I think the potential for violence is very high. And if it is, if it becomes part of Russia, what does Russia do? Do the people, the soldiers, put their insignia back on? Do they send more troops in if it is part of Russia? The implications are really --

COOPER: Ben, also then what the Ukrainian troops on the ground in Crimea do if Crimeans decide to join Russia?

WEDEMAN: That's a question. Many of them actually come from the mainland. So they'll just in theory go back home, but I don't think it's going to be that simple. This is the breakup of a country. And we've seen a few of those happen. And they're always messy. So it's not just them, it's the families. And of course, the other people, the tatars, the 40 percent of the population who are not Russian- speaking.

And I think it's also important to keep in mind that the Russian- speaking majority there are not uniform in their opinion. The real nationalist, Russian nationalist parties didn't actually fare very well in the last elections in the Crimea. So we don't know which way it's going to go. But for everybody it's a time of great uncertainty and worry.

COOPER: And Jill, we don't have really time to speak about it, but you and I were talking to Professor Stephen Cohen earlier. He was saying that the west had forced Ukraine to decide between Russia and the west. Do you think that's true?

DOUGHERTY: I don't really think they forced. I think that Europe, you know, offered a long-term deal. This is going back now seems like a long time ago. But Europe was saying, come to us. Eventually you can become part of Europe. We can help you. There will be cooperation.

But they didn't offer money right up front. And so Yanukovych, who was facing a re-election in a year, said, I need help. I can't have our economy bad and get re-elected. And Russia comes in and says, here, here's $15 billion. We'll help you out. It's that type of thing. I don't think that it was a gigantic in the beginning come east, come west. It appeared to be. But I think it was much more gray area.

COOPER: All right, Jill, I appreciate you being here with us all week as well. Ben Wedeman, great reporting as well from Crimea.

Up next, the so-called "Blade Runner" breaks down. Oscar Pistorius on trial. We'll have the latest on that ahead.

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COOPER: Welcome back. We are joining you from Kiev tonight. Let's get caught up on some of the other stories we're following around the world. Susan Hendricks has a 360 Bulletin -- Susan.

SUSAN HENDRICKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, breaking news in Tennessee. At least one person has been shot at a shopping mall in Memphis. No word on the victim's condition. Police say at least two suspects are in custody.

On day four of his murder trial, Oscar Pistorius, broke down during riveting testimony by the first person on the scene after he shot Reeva Steenkamp. The witness a doctor who lives near the athlete described Steenkamp's injuries in gruesome detail saying she appeared dead. He said Pistorius was crying and praying for his girlfriend to live.

An army general who is being court-martialled for sex crimes today pleaded guilty to engaging in inappropriate relationships and several other charges, but not the most serious. Brigadier General Jeffrey Sinclair still stands accused of sodomy, maltreatment of subordinates and defrauding the government.

And a first look now, pretty amazing, from the tip of the tallest building in the western hemisphere. "Time "magazine got exclusive access inside the spire of One World Trade Center. It used more than 500 pictures to create an interactive image that spans 360 degrees.

Twelve years after the 9/11 attacks, the building is almost complete, and "Time" describes what it took to build it in its upcoming cover story. Really fascinating -- Anderson.

COOPER: Wow, remarkable images. Susan, thanks very much. Appreciate that. Want to give you a programming note now. Premiering tonight right here on CNN, we have a new original series. It's called "Chicagoland" from executive producer, Robert Redford.

That's at 10:00 p.m. Eastern Time. I hope you stick around for that. It's a really fascinating look at life in Chicago and politics there. It's followed by another edition of 360 of course at 11:00 p.m. Eastern Time on the east coast of the United States, that's 6:00 a.m. here in Kiev.

That does it for us in this hour, though. I hope you join us at 11:00 Eastern Time. Another edition of 360. "PIERS MORGAN LIVE" starts now.