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NEW DAY SATURDAY
Ukrainian President Speaks At Munich Security Conference; Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky Speaks With CNN's Christiane Amanpour; Zelensky: I'm Ready For My Next Call With President Trump; Zelensky On White House Visit: The Ball Is In The Court Of The U.S. Aired 6-7a ET
Aired February 15, 2020 - 06:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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WILLIAM BARR, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: I'm not going to be bullied or influenced by anybody.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What the Attorney General's really saying is I'm going to do exactly what Trump wants. I just wish he wouldn't tweet about it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Justice Department announced Friday it won't bring criminal charges against McCabe.
ANDREW MCCABE, FORMER DEPUTY DIRECTOR OF THE FBI: We are guilty of doing our jobs and nothing else.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: McCabe, certainly what he's done is just despicable.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As Attorney General William Barr's privately called on prosecutors to review the case against former national security adviser Michael Flynn.
TRUMP: What they did to him is very unfair in my opinion.
BARR: I'm going to handle each case as I think the law requires.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: With just eight days until the Nevada caucuses, growing questions about whether there is any risk of an Iowa debacle repeat.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Nevada Democratic Party I have great confidence in. They're not going to be using an app. Let me be clear.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Hello. Welcome to our viewers here in the U.S. and around the world. I'm Victor Blackwell.
AMARA WALKER, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Amara Walker. BLACKWELL: We're starting this hour with breaking news. This is coming out of Germany. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is there speaking right now, this is live, at the Munich Security Conference. Right after, he's sitting down to talk with CNN's chief international anchor Christiane Amanpour. Now, the interview, as you know, comes just a little more than a week after President Donald Trump was acquitted in an impeachment trial in the Senate.
WALKER: Now, President Zelensky unwittingly found himself in the middle of a massive political scandal after a July phone call with President Trump. Trump stood accused of withholding much-needed aid to Ukraine unless it announced an investigation into Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden as well as his son Hunter who sat on the board of a Ukrainian energy company while his father was the vice president. President Trump repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.
BLACKWELL: Joining us from Munich now is CNN national security correspondent Vivian Salama. Vivian, hello to you. First, before we get into the specifics of Zelensky and his role in U.S. domestic politics and international politics, give us an idea of what is happening here at this security conference at the stage.
VIVIAN SALAMA, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: So this is the big annual event here in Munich where leaders from around the world as well as policymakers come to talk about the issues of the day and one of the big themes of this year's conference is Westlessness, essentially the world turning away from the West and seeking other alternatives. And so today we heard from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo as well as Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and both of them touting very different messages, but also sticking to that theme.
Mike Pompeo actually rejected the idea that the world is turning away from the West. He said that the West is winning and that the U.S. and European allies need to work together to assure that. He talked a lot about NATO and other multinational alliances and how important they are, especially with the rising threat of countries like China and Russia.
Secretary Esper really touched upon the China issue and the administration here this whole weekend has continued to really push European allies to pressure China especially with regard to its technologies, Huawei being a key topic at this forum this weekend, the U.S. trying to pressure Europeans essentially to issue full bans on that, but we've seen in the U.K., they're refusing to do that. Germany is also grappling with that issue right now and so it's definitely been a very, very hot topic.
[06:05:02] And now, as you said, we're waiting to hear from the man himself who's been at the center of the impeachment trial back home and that is President Zelensky of Ukraine. Our own Christiane Amanpour is going to be speaking with him any minute now and of course this was a newcomer to politics in Ukraine.
Last year when he won the election, he was a comedian turned politician and now he's almost a household name in the United States because of the fact that that phone call that you mentioned with President Trump last July became a center. It essentially is what triggered the House to announce its impeachment inquiry into the president. Of course he became the third president in U.S. history to become impeached by the House of Representatives.
And so there you have it and we're going to be hearing from Christiane Amanpour who's going to ask him a few questions after he delivers a speech to the forum and it's going to be very interesting for sure.
WALKER: Yes. We can see these live pictures right now as Christiane Amanpour has sat down right next to Volodymyr Zelensky. We don't have the audio yet, but once we get that, we'll bring this to you. It's going to be very interesting to, of course, hear from Zelensky. As we were saying, it's going to be the first one-on-one interview since Trump's impeachment trial ended and he's going to have to strike a delicate balance on how he says things, what he says because again, we can't forget how much Ukraine depends on the United States when it comes to security assistance.
So the Ukraine definitely needs the United States and Zelensky wants to be very cautious over angering or upsetting President Trump in any way. Correct, Vivian?
SALAMA: That's right and one of the issues that you're probably going to hear about in the course of the next few minutes is the issue of corruption. Zelensky came to power essentially promising to tackle corruption and that's something that President Trump and his administration were also pushing for as well.
That was one of the key issues, that, you know, in the investigations we discovered that the president, beyond the political demands that he made on the phonecall of investigating Joe Biden and his son, he was really saying that he didn't want to deal with Ukraine anymore and he was thinking of withdrawing the military aid on the basis of the fact that they weren't tackling corruption.
It is a very real problem in Ukraine and the president has been insisting -- President Trump has been insisting that European allies do more to help Ukraine, that it shouldn't be on the U.S. to have to give all that military aid to Ukraine. The Europeans should step up. He especially targeted Germany in that criticism --
BLACKWELL: All right, Vivian. Vivian, if I can jump in here --
SALAMA: -- so we'll see.
BLACKWELL: -- Christiane has begun the interview, so let's listen.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: I just want to say, look, your political journey which you spoke about in your speech is about as amazing as President Trump's. It's very, very unusual. He was a businessman, a very successful reality television host, very high ratings. You, yourself have been a comedian and an actor, and you played the President on a show in your homeland. Do you sometimes wish you had stayed in television? No?
VOLODYMYR ZELENSKY, PRESIDENT OF UKRAINE: I think many people will see my answer.
(THROUGH TRANSLATOR) Sometimes, I think about that, right. Sometimes, I think how my life has changed. And frankly speaking, yesterday, I had a meeting. And I was supposed to -- that I will make a statement about -- to say about something, and I remembered the story. If we have the time, I can tell you the story.
AMANPOUR: OK, can you do it in 30 seconds in English.
ZELENSKY: No, it's so long. I mean --
AMANPOUR: All right. I'm just trying to break the ice.
ZELENSKY (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): I would like to tell you that when I see the results that me and my team is achieving every day, for example, when we get back our people back home and when people are crying saying that, well thank you, I can say my children now, my mother, you come to understand that it was not in the way that you lived through this day, and that was correct that I decided to run for the President.
And during these five years, we will manage to end this war. And honestly speaking, I am confident about that, talking in between us. But if we manage to return our people back home and our territories, that was not in vain (ph), my effort, that's my aim, and that's what I think.
AMANPOUR: How much has this domestic American situation with the impeachment and the call to you affected your key aim of bringing people home and ending the war?
How much has it affected your ability to focus on what you need to focus on?
ZELENSKY: In my previous life -- no, I mean that I was waiting this question, of course. I have many questions about impeachment everywhere. In my previous life, in my previous profession, I truly say when I was producer, script writer and actor, I wanted to get Oscar. I wanted to be very popular in USA. Now, I'm very popular in USA.
ZELENSKY: But I didn't want to find such way.
But you know, but if this way will help Ukraine, I'm ready for next call with Mr. Trump.
But truly say, I can wait -- it was -- everything was truth. I mean that we have -- now we have very good relations with USA. And I want to thank you guys, thank everybody and President and USA, just ordinary American people, first of all, for support, support Ukraine especially now when we have war.
Thank you for your help and applause to every American people. We feel it, feel it with our hearts, with our bodies. And I always say to everybody, to USA and to Europe, everybody helped, but help more.
AMANPOUR: So to that end--
ZELENSKY (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): And the second part of your question was --
AMANPOUR: Don't worry about the second part.
ZELENSKY: I'm speaking -- OK.
AMANPOUR: Don't worry, I'm going to carry on.
ZELENSKY: OK, not interesting.
AMANPOUR: No, it's interesting. But, I forgot --
ZELENSKY: No, I know the answer was not interesting.
AMANPOUR: No, it will be. I'll come back to it. Given the fact that you've just fulsomely thanked the United States and the people of Europe for helping you--
ZELENSKY: All right. Just a second.
AMANPOUR: OK. You know what, if it is better, put that back on.
ZELENSKY: We're better, yes.
AMANPOUR: So take the other one off.
ZELENSKY: So many.
AMANPOUR: Yes, there we go.
AMANPOUR: Is that better?
ZELENSKY: Always with me such technical problems.
AMANPOUR: Is that better?
ZELENSKY: Yes, better.
AMANPOUR: You can hear now. OK, great.
AMANPOUR: You just said in your speech that this is not a war in Ukraine, it's a war in Europe. And you've just thanked America and Europe for trying to help you. But you also pointed out that, you know, Ukraine was named the fewest times in this document than -- since 2014 when the annexation and the invasion started.
You may also have heard a report that the U.S. Secretary of State was very angry with a U.S. reporter, and at one point shouted apparently -- I mean I wasn't in the room but that's the report, do you really think Americans care about Ukraine?
I guess what I want to ask you is, do you believe that Americans, your biggest backers, your most important supporters, care enough about Ukraine right now?
ZELENSKY (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): Well, it's difficult for me to comment on what the Secretary of State said because this is the Secretary of State of another country, of the United States of America. If it was for our Secretary of State or a person with the same authorities, I would have an answer to the question, to him personally.
I talked to Mr. Pompeo after it happened, and I really feel that -- and we met many times. And he is very proud of the new level of our relations. I don't know what he answered and in what conditions. But, frankly speaking, we have contracts now with the United States. And we got the speed belts (ph) and we are purchasing javelin arms systems.
And even now, we are talking not only about armaments. One should not just imagine that. Every day, Ukraine is talking only about war. Believe us, we have a strong army, one of the strongest. And I would like to thank our military servicemen. This is the strongest in Europe, 200,000 servicemen. But we want peace on our terms, on the terms of the strong army.
And I want to say that it's not only the story about war in Ukraine. We're talking about investments, the gas extraction, about the L&G supply contracts. And we have many good ties and investment programs for Ukrainian businessmen for companies, as well as for Western investors for the European partners.
And I see that we have good relations. One day, there was the Nord Stream, and the United States imposed sanctions. And United States sided with Ukraine. It seems to me that it's not about words on the whole. Sometimes, they're contradictory. Sometimes they're offensive. But it is steps that matter.
AMANPOUR: I know you've been asked a million times about quid pro quo, and you say there wasn't a quid pro quo. But you have also talked about the necessity of having aid and for it not to be held up in any form or fashion. To the Time magazine and a bunch others you said, we're at war. If you're our strategic partner, then you can't go blocking anything for us. I think that's just about fairness.
ZELENSKY (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): That's right. And you see now there is no blocking. Nobody blocks nothing. And at present, we are talking about a different level of military assistance and support. On the whole, this is a very substantive program for the sum of $700 million. And this is the priority -- one of the priorities.
AMANPOUR: When you heard first that aid was being blocked, what went through your mind in terms of your fight against the Russians, in terms of your actual political, psychological, military position, vis- a-vis a very strong opponent, and that is Vladimir Putin?
ZELENSKY (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): I don't have time, honestly speaking, to think about something. That was a tactical moment. We needed that aid. Tactically, we had to win to have an upper hand in this story and not to damage our relations with the United States.
Why? Because tactically, I'm thinking about Ukraine. And frankly, I say not as I want, but as Ukraine needs, because today, my body, my brain, my eyes belong to the people of Ukraine. And even the heart. But there is a small portion for my family and children, I would tell you.
AMANPOUR: You've said you --
ZELENSKY: OK, it's enough. It's enough.
AMANPOUR: You've said that you don't think Ukraine should be a chess board of the big global players, so that someone could toss us around, use us as cover as some part of a bargain. As for the U.S., I would really want for them to help us, to understand us, to see that we are a player in our own right. Do you think you've achieved that now?
ZELENSKY (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): No. Well, you brought three questions this way or the other, asking about the impeachment topic.
AMANPOUR: This is about Ukraine as a chess player, as a chess piece.
ZELENSKY: No, no, no. Yes, I understood. I mean, the questions before, I mean the questions before.
(THROUGH TRANSLATOR) Then if we ask too many questions about this topic, then Ukraine is a chess player in this case.
That's what I mean.
AMANPOUR: OK. So how did that affect you when you went into the talks in December with President Putin, which were meant to be sort of ceasefire talks? I mean, you were trying to achieve something. Chancellor Merkel was there. President Macron was there. President Putin was there. And we understand that it was quite a chilly atmosphere.
Can you describe what it was like and what you think you achieved? Did you shake hands? Did you have any areas of agreement?
ZELENSKY (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): First, we had a direct dialogue on the phone with President of the Russian Federation. I wanted just to start -- to kickstart the dialogue with a first step and to achieve the result and not just a diplomatic meeting without any specific result.
We started our conversation on the phone. But many people who are against that domestically and internationally, many people said this is the betrayal of the Ukrainian interests. But, for me, it's all about people. Even territories around, we are talking about their return, these are also territories, not just the land, the factories, the infrastructure. These all are (inaudible).
So during our first conversation, there was the -- we made agreements. And we returned our sailors back. And we returned the political prisoners back home, Oleg Sentsov. You remember we got our 35 people back home. And we returned our ships. This was the first attempt to de-block the dialogue. Of course we were assisted, but our (ph) -- the President of Russia.
And this opened the possibility. For three years, there was no meeting in the Normandy Format. And I was not able to understand if there is no Normandy Format anymore, if nobody is talking to Russia about the return of the sailors, then what are we talking about at all? How do we want -- how can we stop the war?
Just to take to the streets and cry out, we want to stop, and close your eyes. And in the morning, you open your eyes, and the war is over, no. For three years, there was no meeting in the Normandy Format. We met and it was quite cold and not only in the streets.
But finally, we've got 75 people in two weeks after the Normandy meeting. I think that was great result. And we decided to have meeting in April and to speak now -- and now, we are preparing for this meeting and not -- it's very difficult when they translate Ukrainian --
AMANPOUR: I don't know why they're translating Ukrainian into --
ZELENSKY: I think that Ukrainian has to be national language, and everybody will understand each other.
So we -- and now we speak, you see the result. I think that is good, that's very good. Now, we'll speak about (inaudible) 200 people to get them back. And most of them, nobody even knows that we have these people alive. That is the result. But it's so small.
AMANPOUR: I wonder -- you know, you just said, and it was quite interesting to hear you just say that, over the last period, something like 125,000 new Russian passports have been issued to people in the Donbas in your Eastern Ukraine.
I'm sure that doesn't thrill you. And I just want you to respond to something that President Obama said just before he left office in 2016. The fact is the Ukraine, which is a non-NATO country, is going to be vulnerable to military domination by Russia no matter what we do. Respond to that?
ZELENSKY (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): And you know, there is a portion of truth to everything. And we talked about the direction of Ukraine to the European Union and on its way to the NATO. But despite this fact, and our partners know about that, in my heart and mind, I always took offense that Ukraine cannot constantly say that we won't, we see ourselves in this alliance or in a different union. We cannot do and cry out but get the answer only in words.
As an ordinary person, when I still was not the President, I could not understand why we talked about this, because I'm a person of -- a result-oriented person. We just talk, and no result is coming.
We have to make mutual steps, reciprocal steps.
And we have our Minister of Defense here and we have many meetings. And our main objective is that our army complies with the NATO standards to be exceptionally strong. And my objective has always been a strong, independent Ukraine, which can be in any union or alliance.
Before you asked me what player -- what chess player do you see yourself? This is the player that everyone is waiting for. And not just the one who is coming and knocks on the door, and behind the door they say, yes, well, we wait you, we will invite you now, just but -- but wait a little bit, on hold.
AMANPOUR: I was quite moved when you --
ZELENSKY: Not interesting.
ZELENSKY: Thank you so much.
AMANPOUR: Called out by the President of Ukraine --
-- on global television. Mr. President, I was very moved when you recalled the Budapest, Bucharest -- is it Bucharest or Budapest?
AMANPOUR: Thank you. Memorandum of 1994. In other words, your country as part of the Soviet Union had the world's third largest stockpile of nuclear weapons. And you gave them up, in return, including from Russia, for a guarantee of your independence and your territorial integrity.
And there were other powerful signatories to this, I believe the United States, Britain, France. This was a promise to Ukraine to defend Ukraine by Russia, as well. Do you think it's ever going to happen? Yes, there are sanctions, but your territory is still occupied. As you just said, temporarily occupied. How temporarily do you think it's going to be occupied for?
ZELENSKY (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): First, how temporarily occupied, well, I have my internal feeling. And it's not only the feeling, but it is based on the steps that we are making that virtually we will be able to secure the ceasefire and ensure the return of our territories. I don't know how much time we will need for that.
And I will be candid by saying that Europe wants it. And I know in the Normandy Format that the main thing is that Russia wants it. Honestly, Russia should want it to give our territory, our land back to us. Why Budapest Memorandum?
Why all these treaties, arrangements? No one could think there would be the annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation, because we used to live in the Soviet Union. We came to understand each other perfectly well. We celebrated our common holidays. We had common families. You do not expect from somebody who you have been so many years next to.
You don't expect such steps. And considering the Budapest Memorandum, unfortunately the civilized world, the civilized people but -- unfortunately, we are all aware that the strong army or the nuclear weapons or NATO as a protection of independence and territorial integrity or one or the other country, no other documents, no signatories, no memorandums will defend and able to defend. We are telling you this as Ukrainians, from our experience and example, no protection. I do not believe whatsoever in any papers.
And honestly, to all countries, this is my proposal from our personal experience. No confidence, no trust in any kind of documents. No one is going to guarantee you anything, though we are talking a lot about international law. The 21st century, the law of the strong -- where are we with you now?
AMANPOUR: Well, I think that you're under quite a lot of pressure in certain quarters at home to take the fight to the Russians in the East. And you don't want to do that because you don't want to lose more people. Is that correct?
ZELENSKY (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): We do not want the escalation of the conflict. When you understand the price of each dialogue, how much does it cost? Not time, not -- but in people lives. How many meetings took place and Minsk (ph) four months, on Normandy Format, how many meetings were for these six years? It's not in time that you can measure. We measure it in destinies of the people.
And I have such a figurative opinion that in Ukraine, a clock in Ukraine, it's not ours. The people, 14,000 people are no more with us. Hundreds of thousands of people got wounded, casualties. These are the hours and the time. Is there any pressure from anyone on us? I'm thinking about our army on one side, 200 and we will be ready. There will be 300,000 military servicemen.
We are defending our country, our land. We are not attacking anyone, because it's immoral. It's not up to date. It's not civilized. That's why we are addressing everyone. And I want to say candidly, what does Europe or United States have to do in our case?
They have to decide themselves why it will not happen if there is no Ukrainian strong army, there will be no Ukraine. And that will be the case when everyone will understand. That's why I said it's not the war in Ukraine, it's (ph) the war in Europe.
We thank you all. All of you defend yourself, believe me. I have this feeling. Not just on the level of my perception, but I clearly understand what's going on in our country in Ukraine.
AMANPOUR: I just want to take you back to President Trump, because it (ph) is your strongest path here (ph).
ZELENSKY: Of course. Of course.
Like Santa Barbara, you know, yes.
AMANPOUR: Santa Barbara?
ZELENSKY: You don't remember this? It's very popular American --
AMANPOUR: Oh, that's right, sorry, yes, television. So to your reputation --
ZELENSKY: Oh, no. Oh, no. OK, Dallas (ph).
AMANPOUR: I don't have my Dallas (ph) shoulders on.
ZELENSKY: (LAUGHTER) Yes.
AMANPOUR: Mr. President, as you know, because of all of this, Ukraine has been labeled one of the most corrupt countries in the world. That -- that is one of the reputational damages to your country in the wake of all of this.
And recently, I mean, you know, really recently in November, around Thanksgiving, President Trump told Fox News: Why should we give money to a country that's known corrupt? It's a very corrupt country. I mean, I love the people in Ukraine. I know Ukrainian people. They're great people. But it's known as being the third most corrupt country in the world.
ZELENSKY (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): That's not true.
ZELENSKY: That's not true. When I have -- when I have meeting with Mr. President Trump and he said about that -- he said that previous years, it was so corrupt, this country, Ukraine. I told him very honestly, and I was very open with him. I told him that we fight this corruption. We fight with this, fight each day.
But please, please, stop to say that Ukraine is corrupt country. Because from now, it's not truth. We want to change this image. And all of our guys, all of our team, look at our team, please. You have everything. You can check.
ZELENSKY (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): What did we steal?
ZELENSKY: What was stolen?
What I did in my previous life, in my today life, what I did, all money I have, I've got it with my talent, that's it. And we have the same team, new, young team, different, not all of them young, you see.
We have another team in Ukraine now. And nobody from us took nothing from government.
So we paid all these taxes. What we did? So you have to stop do this image for Ukraine.
AMANPOUR: So finally, Mr. President --
ZELENSKY: Thank you so much.
AMANPOUR: -- finally, Mr. President, in your first call with the President after your election, after your victory, the President invited you to the White House. Do you think it's going to happen? Do you have any date on the calendar?
ZELENSKY (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): I'm sure it will happen. You are too far from us, distant. Well, you know, it seems to me that the last time that I met the Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, we talked about that. And I said I would very much like that my visit to the United States would be something special for both countries, where there's an important and substantive outcome and result for both countries, something beneficial for both countries.
After all these TV series, "Santa Barbara," "Dallas," about impeachment, about all these series, I want to come and start it from scratch. Our relations to agree on some contracts, to sign some arrangements, to agree on the strategic things, investments, let's prepare the package of the documents and arrange the meeting.
So the ball is in the courtyard of the United States of America. But we are always happy to see everyone in Ukraine, so I'm ready to invite President Trump to come to Kiev. And I'm ready to welcome him to Kiev earlier than he is available.
AMANPOUR: President Zelensky, thank you very much, indeed.
ZELENSKY: Thank you so much.
AMANPOUR: I appreciate it. Thank you.
ZELENSKY: Thank you so much, everybody. Thank you so much.
AMANPOUR: And now, we have some distinguished guests in the audience --
ZELENSKY: Yes, it's pleasure --
AMANPOUR: Who have traveled to Ukraine and who have traveled here.
BLACKWELL: A 30-minute conversation here between CNN's Christiane Amanpour and the president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky. His first one-on-one conversation. We've got senators here who are asking questions. Let's listen in.
AMANPOUR: You don't yet think that the president has said, reaching out, you know, very strongly, and with the amount of heart for continued U.S. help and how incredibly important it is. I just wonder what you want to say after your visit to Kiev and after what you've just heard from the president?
SEN. RON JOHNSON (R-WI): Well, Christiane, Mr. President, you know, words have meaning. And if you take a look at the name of President Zelensky's party, servant of the people. If you take a look at the name of their latest revolution, revolution of dignity. The reason America, the reason I support -- the reason it's on a bipartisan basis, we support Ukrainians is because of the courage of the Ukrainian people.
You mentioned music early. I've got a favorite line of a lyric of a folk song, the birthing of a nation like the birthing of a child begins somewhere between dreams and passion running wild. You know, we're seeing in the heart of the Ukrainian people, the courage of the Ukrainian people and at Maidan -- Senator Murphy was there.
I came a couple of months later where we walked to Maidan, I saw the memorial to the 100 Ukrainians slaughtered by their own government. And now, we've seen the Ukrainian people in multiple elections, true democracy, support President Zelensky who's -- it's his soul -- his soul platform. His mandate was to not only fight corruption but defeat it. And so, what we have seen -- certainly, when I met him on his inauguration day, September 5th. And again just yesterday when we were in Ukraine on a bipartisan basis, I'm seeing him dedicated to fulfilling that mandate for the Ukrainian people.
You know, I've heard so many times in this conference already, the word, "crisis". We have to have confidence in ourselves. I mean, you take a look at the western democracies, it's $35 trillion worth of economic power, Russia is a couple trillion. We have to have confidence in ourselves, but we have to stand by our principles, the ever-enduring values we share of individual liberty and freedom.
And that is why we are supporting President Zelensky. We're confident in him, his team. It's going to be tough. It's shark-infested waters he has to navigate, but we have to be patient, we have to give him time. I personally -- and this is what I'm trying to convey. Whether it's President Trump or to the American people -- have confidence, support the courage of the Ukrainian people.
And just one final thought because you talked about impeachment. I think in the end, this has been beneficial to Ukraine. And I've taken to heart, you know, we are moving beyond corruption, hopefully, we can get beyond the air of the oligarchs for the benefit of the Ukrainian people, so they have the dignity of standing along as a sovereign nation, and standing up for their own personal freedom and liberty.
So President Zelensky, I salute you and God bless you.
SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D-CT): I was -- I was very glad to be with Senator Johnson and Senator Barrasso just yesterday with you, Mr. President. And we didn't get the chance to talk enough about your reform efforts. But they are absolutely extraordinary. It is extraordinary what is happening today inside Ukraine, the pace of reform, economic reform, political reform, law enforcement reform.
And we need to all be able to tell that story more effectively for you. But to -- to put a, I think a finer point on the bipartisan support for Ukraine that exists, you mentioned the legislation passed in Congress to sanction Nord Stream 2, and the leverage that, that provided Ukraine in order to get a better deal with Russia. That's a piece of legislation that passed in the middle of the impeachment trial. That happened in the middle of that controversy.
Which I think stands for this proposition that I think despite the damage that may have been done at the time by the crisis that our country went through, the American people stand with you, Republicans and Democrats stand with you. And in every challenge I think comes an opportunity. And our opportunity here is, as you mentioned, to increase the amount of support, economic, political and security support that comes from Congress to you.
And I think we are standing in league together. Despite our different votes on impeachment in our effort to support you -- and by the way, the guy that left early, that's Senator Merkley, and he's a 100 percent behind you, too. So --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As is Senator Portman.
AMANPOUR: Can I ask former Swedish Foreign Minister Karl Built. As you all probably know, he's one of the main architects of the E.U.'s Eastern Policy, right?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Once upon a time --
AMANPOUR: Yes, and I just wanted to ask you --
BLACKWELL: We heard there from two U.S. senators who were there at the Munich Security Conference, heard from Democrat Chris Murphy, also Republican Ron Johnson. A bipartisan show of support for Ukraine which is really the -- what we're hearing from most members of Congress despite as Senator Murphy said, their differing votes on impeachment. We'll, of course, talk more about this interview -- went for about 30 minutes.
WALKER: It did, I mean, obviously, that is going to be something that Zelensky very much welcomes because as you heard in that interview with Amanpour which was a wide-ranging interview, he did continue to stress the importance, at least the strategic importance of having the U.S. on his side, having that military aid to continue.
And obviously, wanting to maintain strong relations with President Trump, inviting him to Ukraine, but also saying that he is --
BLACKWELL: Yes --
WALKER: Sure that a meeting with Trump at the White House will happen. We'll discuss this more after the break. We'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ZELENSKY: Now, I'm very popular in USA.
But I didn't want to find such way. But you know -- but if this way will help Ukraine, I'm ready for next call with Mr. Trump.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLACKWELL: One of the lighter moments of Christiane Amanpour's conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky there at the Munich Security Council -- Conference, I should say. Now, this was -- there were a few light moments, but --
WALKER: Yes -- BLACKWELL: Packed with news, and Zelensky says he's ready for his next
call with President Trump. Let's bring in now, CNN National Security Correspondent Vivian Salama, she's there in Munich. Sarah Westwood is in West Palm Beach covering the president. Also Toluse Olorunnipa; CNN political analyst and White House reporter for "The Washington Post". And Vivian, let me start with you, you're there in Munich.
And it's interesting, the juxtaposition of the theme of this conference, westlessness, and the angst over what's happening with the disunity in the west. And hearing from President Zelensky, who is so reliant on support from the west. What was your take-away from the conversation?
SALAMA: That's right. Like you said, he began his remarks with a few light moments, obviously, he was a comedian before he became president. And so, he tends to do that. But the conversation shifted very quickly to more serious topics, including his reliance on the United States for things like military aid.
He even commented at one point that he's hoping for essentially a reboot of the relationship with the U.S., now that the impeachment trial has ended, that they can focus on important policy issues. And one of the major issues that he talked about was the conflict with Russia and its incursion of territory in Ukraine. And where he said that, it is such a tense time for Ukraine, that they are so reliant on outside help.
That they, you know, they want to strengthen those relationships, but at the same time, he also noted that his priority is the Ukrainian people, and he doesn't obviously want to sell the people of Ukraine for that help. Corruption was another big issue where he talks about the president, President Trump's remarks about Ukraine being one of the most corrupt countries in the world.
He really pushed back on that, especially he said, you know, yes, we have corruption, we have to acknowledge it, but that's too extreme, and it's not fair for Ukraine to be characterized that way. And he really said that he asked President Trump to stop saying those remarks in public because it really does not help Ukraine's case on the international stage as far as trying to get outside support.
And so, a lot of the themes that we've seen here in this conference for the last two days very much touching upon Christiane's conversation with President Zelensky.
WALKER: And remember that meeting at the White House that was supposed to happen between President Trump and Zelensky, well, Christiane did ask Zelensky about that if there is a date in the works. Here was his response.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ZELENSKY (through translator): I want to come and start it from scratch. Our relations to agree on some contracts to sign some arrangements, to agree on the strategic things, investments, let's prepare a package of the documents and arrange the meeting. So, the ball is in the courtyard of the United States of America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALKER: And Sarah, to you, who's with the president in West Palm Beach. I mean, this is a theme that we've heard from Zelensky throughout the interview, where he's been stressing the importance, the critical importance of Zelensky's relationship with President Trump. He's saying that he wants a reset in that relationship. He wants to move beyond all the drama that surrounded impeachment and start over, putting the ball in the U.S. court.
I mean, first off, how strong is this relationship between the Ukrainian president and Trump? Is it as strong as Zelensky says?
SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, of course, Amara, what you heard from Zelensky there is Zelensky trying to sort of define the U.S.-Ukraine relationship outside of the context of impeachment where it has sort of been talked about in that context for the past six months-plus. So, that is something that obviously Zelensky is very interested in, saying that he wants to sort of start from scratch that relationship with President Trump.
We heard him say, he's ready for his next call with the American president. And obviously, Zelensky is very interested in that relationship with the U.S. because it is so critical to Ukraine, Ukraine is reliant on the U.S. for a lot of security aid, particularly military aid, obviously President Trump withholding that aid was at the heart of the impeachment inquiry.
That's something that Ukraine needs for its security. Zelensky also saying that the ball is in the U.S. court --
BLACKWELL: Yes --
WESTWOOD: So, that's something that he wants to put on the White House. Recall that Zelensky wanted that White House meeting with President Trump, something that he was seeking because it would have offered him legitimacy. He was then newly elected to be president of Ukraine, and he wanted to have that White House meeting because he thought that would legitimize his presidency, but also Ukraine's independence on the world stage.
That's something he says he's still interested in. We also, Amara, heard Zelensky extend an invitation for President Trump --
BLACKWELL: Yes --
WESTWOOD: To visit him in Ukraine.
BLACKWELL: And Toluse, let me ask you about the exchange over Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, and that spat, the angst, that discussion with "NPR" reporter in which he reportedly said something to the effect of -- I'm paraphrasing here, Americans don't care about Ukraine, or do you think Americans care about Ukraine? His response here was, it's not about words, it's about steps that matter. And we saw a bipartisan pair of U.S. senators try to reassure President Zelensky that those steps will continue.
TOLUSE OLORUNNIPA, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yes, that's exactly right. President Zelensky does not want to be in the middle of U.S. political domestic drama. And we heard that throughout this interview. He did not want to really take the bait in saying that Mike Pompeo was wrong, saying that Americans don't care.
He said, let me focus back on the issue of what kind of investments and actions the U.S. can do to show that they actually care, to show that the government cares, to show that the people of America care about what's happening in Ukraine. So he was very careful and tentative within this interview. He did not want to be drawn back into the political firestorm that was impeachment and that has been President Trump's issues when it comes to Ukraine.
And I think even when he was talking about the White House meeting, now he's talking about not just in terms of legitimacy which Sarah rightly pointed out, but now, he's also talking about documents and signing some kind of an agreement, having something tangible to come out of that meeting. So, it does seem that every time he was asked sort of about the politics going on in Washington, he tried to draw it back to something concrete and actions that can be taken by the U.S. government to help Ukraine.
And it seems like he is trying to push and put everything associated --
WALKER: Yes --
OLORUNNIPA: With the impeachment behind and in the past. And as he said, turn a new page with the U.S.-Ukraine relationship.
WALKER: We have about a minute left in show, and again, it was all, you know, interesting how he pushed back pretty hard, Zelensky, when Christiane talked about Ukraine being one of the most corrupt nation in the world. And he said, look, you know, that may have been the case in the past with other governments, but now that I'm in office, we are trying to change this image. We have a few seconds, Toluse, just a quick yes or no, I guess.
Because Trump has said in the past, Ukraine is quite corrupt, he's criticized the country in recent weeks. Can the relationship start from scratch?
OLORUNNIPA: It's possible. We'll have to wait and see. A lot of it is in President Trump's court, and we'll see if he continues to call Ukraine corrupt, and continues to call his phone call perfect.
BLACKWELL: Yes --
OLORUNNIPA: Seems like he's likely to do that. BLACKWELL: Yes, and we can tell from the conversation that Zelensky is
-- doesn't want to talk much about it. He keeps calling it "Santa Barbara", referencing a soap opera. So --
WALKER: Just googling "Santa Barbara" --
BLACKWELL: We'll continue to analyze. Next hour starts in a moment.
WALKER: Did you know that TV show?