Ukraine PM: Crimea Situation Resembles 'coup'

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In his first international interview Ukraine's new prime minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk insists that Crimea is an integral part of Ukraine and denies that he is negotiating for deployment of U.S. missile defenses in exchange for financial aid. (March 5)

AP TELEVISION - AP CLIENTS ONLY

Kiev, Ukraine - 5 March 2014

1. SOUNDBITE (English) Arseniy Yatsenyuk, Ukrainian Prime Minister:

"Crimea was, is, and will be an integral part of the state of Ukraine."

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2. SOUNDBITE (English) Arseniy Yatsenyuk, Ukraine's Prime Minister:

"We have no talks with the government of the United States of America on any kind of deployment of any military forces. "

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3.SOUNDBITE (English) Arseniy Yatsenyuk, Ukraine's Prime Minister:

"A number of military forces of (the) Russian Federation are deployed in Crimea. So we cannot figure out the reason why Russian boots are on Ukrainian ground. And it's crystal clear that it was ordered personally by (Russian) President (Vladimir) Putin. This is Ukrainian territory and Russia wants to grab control over Crimea. But I would underline again, we will do our best in order to regain control over Ukrainian territory. Russian military is to be back in the barracks."

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4. SOUNDBITE (English) Arseniy Yatsenyuk, Ukraine's Prime Minister:

"What happened in Crimea is unconstitutional and resembles me (sic) a coup supported by the Russian government and the Russian military. "

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5. SOUNDBITE (English) Arseniy Yatsenyuk, Ukraine's Prime Minister:

"The state treasury is empty. And, you know, due to unbelievable and unlimited corruption in my country we cannot collect the revenues in order to execute our social obligations."

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6. SOUNDBITE (English) Arseniy Yatsenyuk, Ukraine's Prime Minister:

"A good gesture made by the United States government to support the state of Ukraine with one billion dollars of guarantees is a first sign that Ukraine could be back on track in terms of economic stability. "

STORYLINE:

Ukraine's new prime minister says that embattled Crimea must remain part of Ukraine, but may be granted more local powers.

In his first interview since taking office last week, Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk told The Associated Press that a special task force should be established to consider what kind of additional autonomy the Crimean Republic could get.

Since last weekend, Russian troops have taken control of much of the peninsula in the Black Sea, where Russian speakers are in the majority.

Yatsenuk denies that his country was negotiating with the United States for deployment of US missile defenses in exchange for financial help.

"This is not true," Yatsenyuk told the AP.

"We have no talks with the government of the United States of America on any kind of deployment of any military forces. The only negotiations we have is to get financial support, financial aid from the United States government in order to stabilize the economic situation in my country. It's absurd."

On Tuesday, Putin said Ukraine's current leaders had come to power as the result of an unconstitutional coup, but Yatsenyuk blamed Russia's leader for the ongoing crisis and said Putin was the one acting outside the law and that Russian actions in Ukraine were akin to a coup.

"A number of military forces of the Russian Federation are deployed in Crimea. We cannot figure out the reason why Russian boots are on Ukrainian ground. And it's crystal clear that it was ordered personally by President Putin. This is Ukrainian territory and Russia wants to grab control over Crimea. But I will underline again, we will do our best in order to regain control over Ukrainian territory. The Russian military is to be back in the barracks."

A spokeswoman for Yatsenyuk said it was the prime minister's first sit-down interview since he assumed the post.

Yatsenyuk, who spoke in English, said he hadn't talked personally to Putin, "but it's in the interests of our countries to start a dialogue."

Yatsenyuk admitted that his country's treasury was "empty", but assistance from the IMF and and the US - which on Tuesday pledged 1 billion US Dollars in aid - was a sign that Ukraine's economy could get back on track.

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