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February 24th, 2014
06:09 PM ET

U.S. Ambassador to Russia: 'Things here remain very tense'

(CNN) – U.S. Ambassador Michael McFaul has served in Russia for two years. Tomorrow is his last day. He leaves the country as unrest in neighboring Ukraine threatens to destabilize the region.

"I can tell you that things here remain very tense," McFaul told CNN's "The Lead with Jake Tapper." "What government officials are saying about what's happening in Ukraine on the television stations here, you see a lot of very heated rhetoric because of what they call their special relationship with Ukraine."

The U.S. does not want Russian soldiers marching into Kiev.

"We've been very clear that ... greater exacerbation, especially violent conflict isn't in anybody's interests," said McFaul. "We saw the tragedy of the streets of Kiev. And as somebody who's traveled many times to that fantastic city, it was shocking to me to watch what happened."

Ukraine is a divided country, the eastern part of the country speaks Russian, and feels a closer heritage with Russia. Russia has already granted thousands of passports to residents from that area.

"I can’t imagine anybody's thinking of this as a Russian national interest. Because let's be clear, if this country is divided or moves down that path, you will have political violence in Europe; and, second, you'll have an economic total meltdown," said McFaul.

For more of our interview with Ambassador Michael McFaul, check out the video above.

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