— This is the script of CNBC's news report for China's CCTV on March 19, Wednesday.
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Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a treaty returning Crimea to Mother Russia, all the while vowing not to push any further into Ukraine. This as a Ukrainian soldier died defending a military base from Russian forces in Crimea.
CNBC's Steve Sedgwick spoke to US Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey R. Pyatt to get his view on the situation in Crimea:
Pyatt: We do not see this referedum as changing anything about the legal status of Crimea, Crimea is part of Ukraine.
Sedgwick: Does the US show more support to this government here in terms of just good words of support. Is there something militarily that potentially comes next? I noticed a tweet that has been attributed to Mr.Yatsenyuk saying: "This crisis is moving from a political crisis to a military crisis."
Pyatt: Our view is, this crisis needs to be resolved through diplomatic tools. We have also made very clear our strong support to Ukraine, to the Ukrainian people and to this government. We'll manifest that through our economic assistance, a billion dollar credit line, credit guarantees that are being worked through Congress right now, as well as lots of technical assistance to help this government meet the considerable economic and political challenges it confronts.
Sedgwick: But when we look at what's happened practically, practically there has been a Russian annexation already – even if the final paperwork hasn't been done and will be done by the end of this week. The troops, Russian troops are in Crimea as well. Practically, there's nothing the world can do about getting Crimea back to Ukraine.
Pyatt: Well, first of all, it's outrageous that Russia has sent in its troops, has used a military occuption and then a bogus referendum process to basically take away Crimea from Ukraine. But from a practical and policy purpose, the United States is not going to recognize the referendum, is not going to recognize the papers that were signed today in Moscow. We're going to continue to work with this government, and hopefully, over time identify a diplomatic track that will resolve the situation. Prime Minister Yatsenyuk has leaned very far forward in terms of his demonstration of willingess to use constitutional measures to enhance Crimea's autonomy, but as part of Ukraine, and not under the barrel of a gun.
Sedgwick: Sir, you've been wrapped up as well in the whole debate about Western designs into what kind of government we have in Kiev. There hasb been an intercept of a conversation between you and Victoria Nuland about which politicians you thought were suitable for government in Kiev as well. Has President Putin got a point when he says that the West has been playing power games and working out what it wants for Kiev in terms of government here?
Pyatt: Not really. And first of all, I can't talk about any alleged conversations, but I'll make it very clear. Our role has been to support the will of the Ukrainian people. That's what the Maidan demonstrations were about, 3 months of people standing out in the bitter cold, with the desire to reset their democracy, to reaffirm their democracy, and going forward we are going to support whatever outcome emerges from Ukraine's democratic processes.
Sedgwick: Everyone wants to know sir, does this crisis take on another leg? Do we see intervention in the east, in the south? What are your thoughts sir?
Pyatt: It's very hard to make any predictions at this point about what Moscow's next move will be, but I've been impressed by what Prime Minister Yatsenyuk has been doing in terms of reaching out to the east. The statements that he made in his speech today aimed at reaching out to Eastern Ukraine were very important and I think it's been striking that if you also talk to political and business leaders from the east, they too say the same thing – that Ukraine needs to stay as a single country.
Sedgwick: Mr. McCain was here, a bipartisan delegation came to Kiev this weekend as well. He was pretty strident against Putin, but also saying US foreign policy has been too weak. Too many presidents have tried to deal with Mr. Putin as well. Does your boss, sir, go on the front foot against Russia?
Pyatt: I think the important message from the senators this week was the strong bipartisan support for the Ukrainian people. They've built on what President Obama did with Prime Minister Yatsenyuk in the Oval Office on Wednesday, and it's an effort that we're going to sustain with both Republicans and Democrats standing behind it.
Li Sixuan, reporting from CNBC's Asian headquarters.
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