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Interview with Carnegie Moscow Center Director Dmitri Trenin; Interview with Dale Weeks' Daughter Julie Simanski. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired January 13, 2022 - 13:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Hello, everyone, and welcome to AMANPOUR.
Here's what's coming up.
MICHAEL PHELPS, OLYMPIC GOLD MEDALIST: The Olympics has always been an amazing part of my life and an amazing thing for sports.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): The most decorated Olympian of all time, Michael Phelps, joins us to talk about the Beijing Winter Olympics, mental health,
and Novak Djokovic.
ZBIGNIEW RAU, POLISH MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS: The risk of war in the OSCE area is now greater than ever before in the last 30 years.
AMANPOUR: As tensions between Russia and the West rise after recent talks over Ukraine, we ask, what will Putin do?
JULIE SIMANSKI, DAUGHTER OF DALE WEEKS: I am at a loss as to why people are not getting vaccinated.
AMANPOUR: Michel Martin speaks to Julie Simanski, a woman who says her father couldn't get the emergency treatment he needed because Iowa
hospitals were filled with COVID patients.
AMANPOUR: Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
More than 20 million people in cities across China are under strict lockdown, as the country battles Omicron. And it couldn't be happening at a
worse time for Beijing, because world top athletes are beginning to descend there for the Winter Olympics. And the United States is leading a
diplomatic boycott of the Games over China's abuse of its Muslim minority, the Uyghurs.
Now, the crisis over health and human rights only adds to the immense pressure that is on those athletes and their dream of gold.
It's the kind of pressure my first guest knows all too well. He is the American swimmer Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian ever, with 28
medals, 23 of them gold, competed in his first Olympics at the age of just 16 -- 15, rather, in 2000 in Sydney.
And we have been having a frank discussion the upcoming Olympics and his own struggles with mental health.
AMANPOUR: Michael Phelps, welcome to the program.
PHELPS: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: What do you make, as the world's greatest, most decorated Olympian, of the sort of brouhaha around China? Many people feel
uncomfortable about its human rights record, athletes as well.
I have spoken to Dick Pound of the IOC. He's probably well-known to you as a former swimmer. He said, the IOC is pretty careful about
compartmentalizing the organization at the Olympics.
People like the NBA star Enes Kanter have said they want to boycott and all athletes should boycott China because of the treatment of the Uyghurs, the
People like the WTA, the Women's Tennis Association, have said they won't play there anymore because of a MeToo potential incident with the tennis
staff Peng Shuai.
Does the human rights aspect of it weigh on you or any of the other athletes in terms of their preparation, their mental health, as they get
ready for the sports events of their lives?
PHELPS: I'm sure it does.
I mean, if you look at it, an athlete really prepares for four years for an Olympic Games. And when you throw a couple curveballs in there, it gets
kind of weird. It gets kind of quirky, because we're creatures of habits.
That's something that I know very well. If my habit gets thrown off, I'm a completely different person. Then I don't know really what I'm doing and I
get lost. So I think it's -- some of these athletes who are preparing to go over there, I think the only thing they can do is figure out what they can
There's so much that's out of our control. And, look, for me, going -- being able to represent my country is something that I was always very
proud of, and especially at the highest level. So, again, I hope that the Olympics happen. I don't know if, when, where they will happen. But the
Olympics has always been an amazing part of my life and an amazing thing for sports.
AMANPOUR: Yes, well, I think it is a short three weeks away in Beijing, and it will be even more tightly controlled and bubbled than even Tokyo
And I just want to ask you, because you said when -- habit, when your routine and rhythm gets thrown off, you get a bit lost. That's what you
just said. And you have spoken very openly now for a couple of years about your own mental health issues, trying to help others. And you said that
actually the COVID period of lockdown has been an incredibly difficult period for you.
Tell me a little bit about that and how you think the incredible bubble might affect the athletes, who are going to be very tightly controlled, I
guess for their own safety, in Beijing.
PHELPS: I mean, for me, I have I have been openly -- I have spoken openly about it.
I have had struggles through the pandemic, some of the scariest moments of my life, just, again, the uncertainty., for me, I'm very fortunate that I
have been able to build my sort of network that I can kind of reach to when I go through a difficult time.
I think we have seen a lot of people open up about mental health over the last five years. We have been able to see mental health on the forefront of
a lot of conversations. And that's something that we never saw before. And I think it's been pretty incredible to see the movement, see the movement
grow as it has, but also just being able to share the stories and read other people's stories that we're hearing, because I think that's the
biggest way that we're going to be able to help one another to get through these difficult times.
My dark days look like dark days. They look like I want to climb into a black hole and be left alone. And there are times where I feel like I am
all alone. But, in reality, we all know that now, that we're not alone. Mental health is real. And it's OK to not be OK.
AMANPOUR: You have a foundation. And you have made it now your life's work.
You have even said that it might be more important to you than winning all those Olympic medals if you can help people go through the mental health
challenges that you went through and that too often are dismissed and not taken seriously and not looked after.
Talk to me a little bit about that, and how that compares or stacks up for you against being the greatest or the most heavily decorated Olympian of
PHELPS: Well, I mean, for me, I think it's as easy as -- saving a life is more important than winning a gold medal.
I was able to win gold medals while struggling through the darkest points of my life. I realized that I wasn't alone and there are other people out
there that are going through the same exact thing. So, yes, I mean, it's -- yes, I think it's just understanding that it's real.
That's the biggest thing, because I want to help people try to be their authentic self every single day. That's something that I try to do in my
mission sort of every day too, because, for a period of my life, like, I looked at myself as strictly an athlete and a swimmer and not a human
And, for me, going through some of the work that I have done, I have been able to learn about my emotions and my feelings and kind of nurture them
and care for them, because they rise for certain reasons.
And I have been so used to compartmentalizing and stuffing them down because of me being me and being an athlete and a competitor and can't show
that vulnerability side. So, yes, just trying to live your authentic self, your authentic, best self every single day is what I try to do.
And, yes, as you heard, there are days that aren't very good. There are days that are really scary. But the good days are so much better than I
could ever imagine and ever dream of, that I just love being able to talk and share about mental health more.
AMANPOUR: I want to play a sound bite from the former world number one tennis player Chrissie Evert.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS EVERT, FORMER PROFESSIONAL TENNIS PLAYER: There are times in my life when I lost a final to Virginia Wade and -- at Wimbledon and I went into my
hotel room and didn't leave my hotel room for three days and just ate and just was in my robe, and I was totally depressed.
There is a time in 1976 when I won Wimbledon, and I went back to a hotel room and I laid down the ground and I couldn't get up, because I felt so
lonely and so isolated. I took four months off in the middle of my career because I was burned out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, Michael, you obviously relate to that, because you spoke about coming back with all that -- quote, unquote -- "hardware" from your
various Olympic Games, and yet feeling pretty much the same as she is describing.
Tell us why, because most people out there would think, oh, my gosh, you guys are great, you're winners, you're champions, you're the greatest, and
yet you have these terrible dark moments as well.
PHELPS: I mean, I think the easiest way to say it is, we're human beings.
Like, that's the easiest way of saying it, because it's like, we all go through those ups and downs and those emotions and those roller coasters
like everyone else does. And you -- like, that sound bite brought up a good point, because I feel like loneliness has become more of a factor to
everybody's daily life now because of the pandemic.
And that scares me, because loneliness can trigger so many different things and can lead to depression. So, for me, this is a scary moment. It's a
scary moment in our world, in our society. And we really need to take a more serious look and a serious approach of how we're going to help people
get the help that they need for their mental health, because, like, loneliness -- loneliness typically comes into your life when you're older
But you see those things creeping into younger generations, and that's scary.
AMANPOUR: And, again, as an athlete, you would be surrounded by your team. One wouldn't expect an athlete like yourself to feel lonely in the, I
guess, dictionary definition of the word.
So I'm really interested about that, but also fascinated by what you say, because you have spoken sympathetically about Naomi Osaka, Simone Biles,
the gymnasts and the tennis stars, who came out over the last couple of years about their struggles with mental health.
They're women. You say -- I think I have heard you say that it's more difficult for men to express these feelings, particularly as an athlete.
You said you never want -- you always wanted to shove them down because you didn't want to give your opponent any advantage.
PHELPS: Yes, I mean, you never want to show that sign of weakness, right?
So you don't want to become vulnerable, because, in a combat or like kind of an intense situation like that, you just don't want to give your
competitors any edge. So, yes, nobody would talk about that stuff back then. And I look back at it now, and I wish we would have, because I know
my teammates today are struggling, and we probably could have helped each other back then.
So -- but I think the one thing that's really cool now is that kids are excited to talk about it. Kids are excited to share their stories. I had an
athlete that was on the Olympic team this past summer, and she was telling me there were five girls, six girls that were sitting in a room after the
meet, and all they were doing, were talking about the struggles that they were having.
And I -- to your point, I believe that men are opening up more. And I think we're going to see this thing really kind of take off even more than I
believe we have over the last five years. But, again, I think it's just that weakness, that vulnerability that we don't want to show. We don't want
to give anybody that edge. That's just something that we can't do as athletes.
AMANPOUR: And it's no secret, because you have been public about it and it was public, that you had a few brushes with DUI. Also, you have talked
about how you contemplated suicide at one point.
The DUI stuff, were you trying to self-medicate? What were you doing? Why did it lead you to that length?
PHELPS: Yes, I mean, for me, back then, I was just running away because I didn't know -- like, I didn't know how to ask for help. I didn't know who
to ask for help.
So I was just doing whatever I could try to, I guess, maybe message and sign that I needed help. And, luckily, I'm alive. Luckily, no one was
injured. And, yes, after that -- after my second DUI, for those three days, I didn't know if I was going to make it. I didn't know what was going to
happen. I didn't want to be alive.
At the time, I was taking Ambien. I took Ambien throughout my whole entire career. And, to be honest, I was very lucky that I only had a few pills
left, because who knows what would have happened.
PHELPS: So, for me, being able to go through the journey that I have gone through to be able to look at myself in the mirror and like who I see, it's
been hard, it's been challenging, for sure, but it saved my life.
And I'm able to now have three kids, have a family and like who I am. Again, I still have struggles, but that's part of life. And I think, with
the things that I have gone through, I have been able to pick up tools that have helped me when I'm in those dark, scary moments.
AMANPOUR: Give a few tools, just a few, for anybody who may be listening.
PHELPS: I work with a therapist.
Look, I'm on Talkspace. You can go on your phone, you can go on your computer, your iPad wherever you want whenever you want and talk to
I have somebody here in Arizona that I can see face to face if I want. I journal a lot. And, honestly, my wife is somebody who is my biggest support
system. She's been with me through the good, bad, the ugly. She's seen every which side of me. And we love each other to death.
So, being able to always have a hand through the pandemic when I was struggling as much as I could -- as I was, was a lifesaver.
Another thing for me is exercise. That's one thing that it's a good outlet for me. It helps me kind of stay relaxed, just because of what I have done
throughout my career. But I think it's different for everybody. And I think being able to find that self-care is so important.
AMANPOUR: And deep breaths, I'm sure, as well, help to center you.
AMANPOUR: Can I ask you about...
AMANPOUR: ... the flip side of the coin a little bit?
AMANPOUR: You have obviously been watching the hullabaloo over Novak Djokovic, the world number one tennis player, male tennis player right now,
in Australia essentially over what now is very public discrepancies over his claims to have contracted COVID, discrepancies over the accuracy of his
testimony over what countries he visited before going to Australia, and about appearing non-masked, et cetera, et cetera.
There seems to be amongst some in the elite world a view that what's good for you all is not necessarily good for me. I'm all right. I can make my
own rules. I can do this, that, and the other.
What is your view on the job of Djokovic debacle and in general about athletes as role models and rule followers?
PHELPS: I mean, I think, as athletes, we're -- we are role models.
And when it comes to COVID and everything that we're all going through, I will be the first admit I have had COVID, and it was terrible. I literally
thought I was going to die for 36 hours. It was the most miserable experience I have really had.
So I don't take that lightly. It's something that has killed a lot of people. And we all need to be on the same page if we're all going to get
through this together.
So, for me, I just -- I hope that we can all agree on something and make it through this without losing more lives, because I think we can all work
together and follow certain guidelines and stay healthy. And we can fight through this.
I mean, there's so many things that are going around in the media about COVID. And it's overwhelming. Honestly, like, it is kind of scary at times.
And I think we -- some of us probably need to take it a little bit more seriously than we do. There are a lot of people that are suffering. And
there are a lot of families that have lost loved ones.
AMANPOUR: There is, as you know, a certain amount of controversy around a University of Pennsylvania College swimmer by the name of Lia Thomas.
And there are some people who are questioning her -- I'm not sure what the right word is -- her right to swim on a woman's team. She's transgender.
What do you make of that? And she's obviously doing exceptionally well. She also has been taking testosterone suppressants, but nonetheless does much
better, according to the records, than her female contestants.
What do you make of this particular situation?
PHELPS: I mean, look, like, I will say I can talk from a standpoint of doping.
I don't think I have competed in a clean field in my entire career. So, I think this leads back to the organizing committees again, because it has to
be a level playing field. I think that's something that we all need, because it's -- like, that's what sports are.
And, for me, I don't know where this is going to go. I don't know what's going to happen. I believe that we all should feel comfortable with who we
are in our own skin. But I think sports should all be played an even playing field. I don't know what that looks like in the future. But it's
It's a really -- honestly, I don't know what to say.
AMANPOUR: It's complicated.
PHELPS: It's very complicated.
And this is my sport. This has been my sport my whole entire career. And I -- honestly, the one thing I would love is everybody to be able to compete
on an even playing field. That's all I can say.
AMANPOUR: Well, Michael Phelps, thank you so much indeed for joining us.
PHELPS: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: Amazing, the really constructive openness and frankness from Michael Phelps on all sorts of important issues for so many people around
Now, though, we turn to a royal drama taking place right here in the U.K. It comes just one day after a New York judge ruled that a civil lawsuit
against Prince Andrew could precede.
Now his own mother, the queen, has reacted swiftly and pretty harshly.
For the very latest we get, we get -- we go now to correspondent Max Foster for the details.
Max, what more can you tell us?
MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, extraordinary, as you say, this statement, the queen effectively stripping Prince Andrew off his existing
titles, military ones, but also the other patronages.
A source also at Buckingham Palace telling us that he's no longer allowed to use his HRH title, His Royal Highness. The last time that was tang was
for the Sussexes, you remember, Diana as well.
And what it effectively means is, you're out of the firm, out of the monarchy. Of course, you're still part of the family. He's still Prince
Andrew, but he no longer represents the queen or the monarchy.
And the queen, in a statement, has led on this, the queen's approval and agreement. The duke of York's military affiliations have been returned to
the queen and they will now be distributed, Christiane, to other members of the family.
This is a permanent move, and it's off the back, of course, of the trial in New York.
AMANPOUR: So what is going to happen? What do you know about that. He's obviously constantly denied he's had anything to do with these allegations.
He denied even knowing the defendant herself or ever taking a picture with her, which, of course, has been broadcast around the world for years, this
picture of the two of them together.
He denies remembering that. What does it mean for his case, do you think? He's not got the royal family behind him.
FOSTER: Well, what's interesting is that, as we got these statements from Buckingham Palace, which no longer represents Prince Andrew because he's no
longer part of the monarchy, I got a separate comment from a source close to Prince Andrew, so outside the palace.
And what they said to me was: "Given the robustness with which Judge Kaplan," the judge in New York, "greeted our arguments, we are unsurprised
by the ruling," this ruling to basically take the case to the next stage.
The judge basically said, Prince Andrew does have a case to answer. "However, this -- it was not a judgment on the merits of Ms. Giuffre's
allegations." So they're questioning the judge's ruling here. "This is a marathon, not a sprint, and the -- will continue to defend himself against
So there was talk yesterday about him possibly reaching a settlement with Giuffre, which would have been very expensive. And that would have been the
best-case scenario probably for the royal family, because it would end it sooner, rather than later. But then we had Giuffre's phrase lawyer coming
out last night on the BBC, saying she's not minded to take a settlement. She wants her day in court.
And also from the statement it appears that Andrew wants his day in course as well. So he is looking as if he's going to fight this. And he's not
going to ignore the case. He's not going to go for a settlement. It's going to go on for months.
And it's very embarrassing for the monarchy, which is why they had to do something, and why the military were really pushing hard for the queen to
do something here and get rid of those titles, because it was embarrassing to the military, frankly, that he had these titles.
AMANPOUR: And not only that. It went against their code of conduct. I mean, any sexual allegations, they have to abide by certain rules. And, of
course, they were saying, we can't be led by somebody who has these allegations of over his head.
But, Max, finally, it is the queen's jubilee coming up, 70 years on the throne. She has had, I mean, Andrew, and, before that, the Sussexes, and,
as you mentioned, Diana before that. It's very hard for her, but it does show that women's complaints, accusations are being taken seriously even
against a member of the royal family.
FOSTER: That's right.
We have to remember that Prince Andrew hasn't been found guilty of anything here, which is why I think a lot of this is quite extraordinary, because
this is a permanent move to take away his titles and redistribute them to other members of family.
So he's not coming back. He is now a private citizen. And this was before he's been found guilty. I think there would have been discussions here, as
you can imagine, Christiane, between the queen and William and Charles. And I think that's probably where this decision came from. And what sort of
discussions would they have?
Away from the legal arguments here, you have got the P.R. arguments, that disastrous interview that he did for the BBC in 2019, where he didn't show
any remorse for the victims of Epstein.
FOSTER: He hasn't shown any sympathy for the victims of Epstein.
He constantly is defensive, constantly trying to get the case thrown out of court. And all the optics of that are very unsympathetic to women that may
well have had a case. No, he hasn't been found guilty. But we don't know that Giuffre doesn't have a case either.
There's the lack of sympathy there. And none of it reflects very well on the palace. And I suspect that's the sort of discussion that people have
been having within the monarchy. He's not guilty in a court of law, but, frankly, in the wider public, he's done something wrong here.
AMANPOUR: It is an extraordinary situation, but one many women's rights activists will be looking at very, very closely.
Max Foster, thank you so much indeed.
Now, as we were discussing about the Olympic Games, Russian President Vladimir Putin will actually attend those Beijing competitions, although
President Biden is leading a diplomatic boycott by Western leaders. It's fair to say that Putin will probably get much more satisfaction from
Beijing and that sports arena than he has done after a week of talks between Russia and the United States and its allies over Ukraine.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken says the jury is out on whether Putin will choose aggression or diplomacy.
The head of the main European security alliance says the continent is closer to war than at any time in the past 30 years. This is very serious
stuff. And Russia says that, unless the West agrees to its demand, including barring Ukraine from joining NATO, the consequences will be --
quote -- "catastrophic."
Yesterday, on this program, the deputy secretary of state, Wendy Sherman, told me that she hopes a process to defuse the crisis has begun. Today, her
Russian counterpart says the process seems to have hit a dead end.
So, for some insight into Russia's next moves, we go to Dmitri Trenin. He is the director of the Carnegie Center in Moscow.
Mr. Trenin, welcome to the program.
DMITRI TRENIN, DIRECTOR, CARNEGIE MOSCOW CENTER: Thank you very much.
AMANPOUR: From where you sit, what do you make of this kind of escalating, if I can use this term, war of words between Russia and the West, since the
talks ended, essentially?
TRENIN: Well, I think there's more to it than a war of words.
What Russia can certainly regard as a tactical win is precisely the three rounds of talks, but primarily the first one, between the U.S. and Russia,
on the issues that are at the center of the Russian security agenda.
So I don't think anyone in Russia actually expected the United States to accept Russian demands, but at least they discussed them, there will be an
answer coming from Washington. And although this diplomatic round has come to an end, more or less the way it was supposed to be. This is not the end
of the story. I think it's the beginning of the story.
AMANPOUR: So, your analysis, again, from Moscow.
What is being told to the people of Russia on the state media? Putin is very good at preparing his people for war. He's done it several times over
the last few years. Is that what's happening right now? Or how are these talks being described for public consumption?
TRENIN: Well, Mr. Putin is very careful with using military force.
The operation in Crimea was successful without a shot being fired. The war in Syria basically is fought by professionals on the Russian side with
minimal casualties. The very recent peacekeeping operation in Kazakstan has been declared a victory. And withdrawal has been announced just today.
So I think that this talk of war is more done on the Western side. On the Russian side, there is none of. That there is no feeling of a of an
impending war in Ukraine. But military pressure is certainly there. Military pressure is certainly to continue. Military pressure may increase.
AMANPOUR: What do you mean by that?
Because, obviously, you say that it's comes from the Western side, but there are actual troops on the ground, Russian troops surrounding Ukraine
by -- on three sides.
AMANPOUR: What do you think Putin's aim is with those troops?
TRENIN: Christiane, I said that the talk of war is on the Western side.
AMANPOUR: Yes, I know. I know.
TRENIN: That's what I said.
Basically, as I see it, Mr. Putin is using military tools, in this case, a military buildup, as leverage to get the United States to listen to what
the Russians demand, and ultimately negotiate on those demands.
So, the troops there are used as leverage in a diplomatic -- military, diplomatic campaign to change the dynamic of European security development.
AMANPOUR: OK, so, your judgment, knowing, as you do, the Russian perspective, and you know very well the immutable U.S.-led alliance and
European security perspective -- they have said over and over and over and over again that Russia has no veto on who joins NATO or how the West seeks
to protect European security.
Where do you see or do you see any light that can take Vladimir Putin's back from against the wall and resolve this diplomatically, if he's not
going to get what his foreign minister has demanded now, written responses to every single one of their demands?
TRENIN: Well, let's get beyond the rhetoric.
TRENIN: Let's get beyond the rhetoric.
I think you and I and the world knows that Ukraine is not going to be a NATO member in the foreseeable future, or perhaps ever, for the simple
reason that the United States will not fight for Ukraine against a nuclear- armed neighbor, Russia. So, that's clear.
What Putin wants is to have that in writing. Another thing that Putin wants is no U.S. INF intermediate range nuclear forces -- or nonnuclear forces in
Europe. Again, it would be not in the U.S. interest right now to deploy -- or in the foreseeable future to deploy such systems in Europe knowing that
Russia can reciprocate by deploying similar missiles on board submarines patrolling the Eastern Seaboard of the United States.
So, I think that a basis of a compromise is essentially in existence, but it's a long and twisted road to get there. I hope we'll get there at some
point. But there will be a lot of twists and turns.
AMANPOUR: Do you think -- I mean, you know, you heard, obviously, NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg yesterday say that the alliance is ready
to support Ukraine's big, in other words, help them through all the necessary reforms. I consider that a strangely timed statement. Wendy
Sherman said it's the position as per normal. Did that make any reverberations in Russia?
TRENIN: Well, I think it did at some level. On the other hand, as I've said, it is accepted in Russia that the United States will not underwrite
Ukraine's security with its own military forces and put its own security at stake in the conflict between Ukraine and Russia. And that's all we need to
know about NATO's enlargement to include Ukraine.
AMANPOUR: So, basically, Russia -- President Putin, you're saying, is banking on the U.S. not putting -- or NATO putting its "money" where its
mouth is. I wonder whether we really know that and what President Putin is thinking. This is what Deputy Secretary Sherman told me about when I asked
her what she thought President Putin's motives were or what his next move would be. This is what she said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WENDY SHERMAN, U.S. DEPUTY SECRETARY OF STATE: You know, Christiane, there was a "New York Times" piece today that quoted a Russian analyst in Russia
who was asked that question and he said, who the heck knows. I think there's only one person who knows what Vladimir Putin, the president of
Russia, wants to do, and that's the president of Russia.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: I mean, that's pretty extraordinary, right? It's an extraordinary way to, I don't know, characterize these incredibly important
decisions. Do you think that is how it works, that even know President Putin is aiming (ph) out what's best for him and only he knows?
TRENIN: Well, I think that decisions of that kind, decisions of war and peace, essentially taken in Russia by President Putin. And no one can read
his mind. Certainly, that includes me and the whole analytical community in Russia and elsewhere.
But we also have been tracking Mr. Putin's actions over maybe years, and I would say a couple decades or more. And you will I think have some
impression, some conclusion about what Mr. Putin can do, will do. I don't think he will do things for him. He will do things that he believes are in
Russia's interest. And what he is aiming to do is to reverse the dynamic of an exorable march by NATO and what he calls NATO's military infrastructure
all the way to the Russian border. And Ukraine is his last stand.
And I think that he's serious. He's not bluffing. Not only Ukraine in NATO is something that he has resolved to prevent and have a written guarantee
of that from the United States, but he also wants no NATO in Ukraine, meaning no U.S. systems, strike weapons and military bases that can hurt
Russia from the Ukrainian territory. So, that's -- the stakes are pretty high for Mr. Putin.
AMANPOUR: They're very high. And the U.S. said that these are nonstarters. Let me ask you a quick question about translating what they have said. The
Kremlin has said, if we don't get this, that and the other, we have ways of responding. And, of course, you know, the U.S. has threatened a massive new
load of very harsh, as they say, sanctions, economic sanctions and the like. And from your side, they have threatened military technical response.
Do you know what that means?
TRENIN: Well, military technical response as opposed to military response does not mean military action. What it means is deployments of new weapons
systems in areas where they did not exist before. Well, I mentioned a few minutes ago the possibility of Russia deploying a nuclear INF systems on
board submarines in close proximity to the United States. So, that's one example.
Another example in a very different category would be closer military coordination between Russia and China. You mentioned at the beginning of
this segment that Mr. Putin is going to China soon, and he is not going there simply to attend the opening ceremony of the Winter Games. He is
there to have a very substantiative discussion with President Xi Jinping. And that discussion will be built on Putin's part also by his assessment of
the first round of negotiations with the United States.
AMANPOUR: Well, we look forward to following this process and to calling on you again for your excellent analysis. Dmitri Trenin of the Carnegie
Center there in Moscow. Thank you for joining us.
TRENIN: Thank you, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: And next, Omicron has sent hospitalizations in the United States to record levels. President Joe Biden says that his administration will
order another 500 million at-home tests and distribute free masks. But another issue has also been surfacing, 78-year-old Dale Weeks was fully
vaccinated and boosted but recently he passed away not from COVID, but from a series of events in local hospitals that were overwhelmed with COVID
His daughter, Julie Simanski, sat down with Michel Martin to share her frustrations.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHEL MARTIN, CONTRIBUTOR: Thanks, Christiane. Julie Simanski, thank you so much for talking with us. I'm sorry for your loss.
JULIE SIMANSKI, DAUGHTER OF DALE WEEKS: Yes, it's been difficult this December, especially with the holidays and not having our dad around. I
think what makes it all the more tough is that you have this nagging feeling that perhaps if something had been done differently, he might still
MARTIN: Just tell me about him it for a minute, would you? I never got to meet him. So, can you just tell me about him?
SIMANSKI: My dad was kind man. He was an educator. He was a craftsman. He was a dad, a grandfather. And I think what strikes me most about my dad is
he was a good neighbor. He was always trying to help the community, help the people around him. If there was a flooded basement, dad was there to
help. If there -- he was the parade master in his little town that he was from for several years. He was just a kind yet very humble man.
MARTIN: So, he started feeling poorly, as I understand, the night of the beginning of November of last year. Is that right? What was going on?
SIMANSKI: So, every year we have a big birthday party for my daughter. She's disabled. And so, we've kind of made it a family tradition to have a
costume Halloween party around her birthday time. And so, we were going to have that the weekend of Halloween. And he had called me a day or two
beforehand and said that he just hadn't been feeling well. He had just gotten boosted. So, he thought perhaps that maybe it was that was that he
was just feeling wonky because of the booster.
And his COVID test was negative. So, it really wasn't until the night of November 1st that his wife had called us and said that he had been shaking
like chills and he had fallen a couple times. And so, she was very concerned.
MARTIN: So, the night of November 1st, as I understand it, his wife took him to the hospital. Where did she take him?
SIMANSKI: Yes, she was concerned enough that she thought she needed to bring him over to the emergency room in Centerville. And Centerville is a
small hospital. And at that point, they were having some pretty dramatic staffing issues. The doctors had done a CT scan at Centerville and had also
done a blood culture. They said he was septic and that he needed to have IV antibiotics to at least start the preliminary treatment.
The thing of it was, they weren't -- they didn't have the staffing nor did they think that they could put the right mix of the antibiotics together.
So, that's when he was sent to Newton. At Newton, it is a very small hospital. And so, nurse practitioners were on the hospital. But I will give
them credit, the nurse practitioner that initially treated him said that she thought that he was septic and that they were going to start giving him
some broad-spectrum antibiotics and that she thought that perhaps the source of the infection was a stint that he had put in at Iowa City about
five or six years ago.
MARTIN: Do I have it right that they then started looking for a more advanced hospital setting to transfer him to. Is that right?
SIMANSKI: That is correct. And so, in Iowa, we have Iowa City, which is the university hospitals, and we also have Des Moines, which has three
major hospitals in it. And when the nurse practitioner was looking to send him out for a more specialized care, her response from all of those
hospitals was they were full and they it could not take him at this time.
MARTIN: And why were there no beds available?
SIMANSKI: We in Iowa have not done well in mitigating the virus. And so, currently, in Polk County, where I live, the positivity rate is 23 percent.
We do not have mask mandates in the schools, in the communities. We -- the legislator just announced yesterday that they were it going to push back on
the vaccine mandate being suggested by the Biden administration. And so, consequently, we have a great number of people in Iowa who are not
And if you look at the breakdown of the numbers, 80 percent of people in hospitals right now are unvaccinated and 83 percent in the ICUs are
unvaccinated. So, I contend that it was the COVID patients that were needing to breathe, that needed a bed because their conditions had
deteriorated so greatly that were taking the resources away from my dad.
MARTIN: How long did it take before he finally got to a higher-level hospital that could offer a higher level of care?
SIMANSKI: It took 15 days. So, every day we would call. So, are you going to be moved, dad? No, they still don't have any beds. He was told at one
point that he was 22nd on the list to get into the hospital.
MARTIN: So, he waited 15 days before he was finally -- before he finally went to the University of Iowa. And then, I -- it's my understanding that
he had to wait even after that to finally have the surgery. What were they saying to you during all this time? Was anybody saying anything to you
SIMANSKI: Well, we had questioned the hospital and said, how is it that this man has a life-threatening illness and he's not a priority? And the
hospital responded to us and said that they considered dad's condition stable. Because he was on an IV antibiotic, he wasn't having a heart
attack, he heavy wasn't having difficulty breathing, that they considered that stable.
And so, once that he got to the hospital, primarily because Newton had a different tracking system than the University of Iowa did, it took the
University of Iowa at least four to five days to get up to speed. So, the surgery was typically an eight to 10-hour surgery. What they needed is they
needed to go into the aorta clip out the infected tissue and then replace it with cadaver aorta.
And the surgery ended up lasting 17 hours. In fact, the surgeon said that in her 16 years of practice, it was one of the worst infections that she
had ever seen.
MARTIN: And then, what happened?
SIMANSKI: My sister and I drove over to Iowa City and when we got there, the nurse was fairly optimistic about him. He was on a ventilator. He was
sedated. And -- however, by afternoon, his numbers started not looking good and that they thought the infection had gotten into another part of his
body. We left the hospital around 5:00 after visiting hours. And within an hour, the hospital called us back and said that he would need to have
surgery again. That was a rather quick surgery.
But by about 6:00 that morning, the hospital had called again and said that through the evening, he had deteriorated and they were anticipating having
to open him up again to see if there was more infection. And at that point, we had asked our stepmother if my dad had a DNR because we just didn't know
if this was something that was going to be able to be remedied.
It did not appear like it was a good situation. And so, she called the priest and they did his last rights. We let him go a little before noon on
MARTIN: I'm sorry.
MARTIN: Julie, do you feel that had he gotten the care he needed sooner, that this would not have happened?
SIMANSKI: Granted. Sepsis is a life-threatening condition and especially for someone who is 78 years old. It is not always something that can be
solved. What nags at my siblings and I most is when you look at -- I'm a professor, so I do a lot of reading and research and I had looked up
everything I could about dad's condition, and one of the articles specifically say -- stated that if this was treated early, the mortality
rate goes down significantly. And so, I just -- I think that had he gotten that opportunity to have specialized care earlier rather than two weeks
into the illness, and then another week getting up to speed that thing may have turned out differently. It's a matter of what ifs.
MARTIN: Do you blame the hospital for this? I mean, do you think they did all that they could dos?
SIMANSKI: I was frustrated with the hospital. Shortly after my dad had passed, one of the surgeons came into his room and said, I'm really sorry
about your dad, but he really needed specialized care. And that just kind of hit me in the gut because that is something that we had been pressing
and arguing for for two weeks.
Later, we talked to the second surgeon and she was very sympathetic and said, you know, your dad's condition is something that we typically would
be able to transfer in and treat almost immediately two years ago. But within the last 18 months to two years, we have not been able to take on
the cases that we normally do.
MARTIN: Well, as you might imagine, you know, people have -- outside of your community have heard about this. And a number of major news
organizations have written about this. And a spokeswoman with MercyOne, that's the hospital system that cared for your dad in Newton, issued a
statement to "The Washington Post," for example, who said that -- she said, look, she didn't want to get into the specifics of the case, but she said
that a large percentage of COVID-19 patients at MercyOne Hospital are unvaccinated.
She said, in addition to an increased number of COVID-19 cases and spread of the Delta and Omicron variants, hospitals across the country are dealing
traumas and experiencing multiple types of illness and this is coupled with reduced number of staff to care for patients and that this is straining
available resources and contributing to the delays in care or other complications for patients.
And as you pointed out that 80 percent of the hospitalized COVID-19 patients in the state are unvaccinated and an even larger percentage are in
these intensive care units. And so, I mean, I don't want to put words in your mouth, but I'm just saying, you have to have feelings about that.
SIMANSKI: I call it maddening grief. It is -- it angers me. Iowa claims to be the State of Iowa nice. Where we will reach out, stops, if someone is on
the side of the road. Yet, this situation does not describe Iowa nice in the least. And I always say my dad was a good neighbor. My dad helped
people. And people are not being good neighbors to one another.
At times I am at a loss as to why people are not getting vaccinated. It -- I just can't get in that mind set of being that self-centered that you
can't think beyond yourself and know that if you get sick, it's going to impact some other people, whether directly or indirectly.
MARTIN: I understand that you have been hearing from other people who have gone through similar things. For example, there's a young lady in Cullman,
Alabama, Raven DeMonia, whose dad, back in August. suffered a cardiac event and went to the local regional hospital who also couldn't give the level of
care that he needed. I understand that the hospital there called 43 hospitals in three states and finally had to air lift him 200 miles away to
Mississippi and he didn't make it either.
And Alabama also has, you know, one of the worst vaccination rates in the country. It's under 50 percent, right? And Iowa is also trailing. Are you
hearing from families, families like Raven's, about their experiences?
SIMANSKI: Raven reached out to our family shortly after the article in "The Washington Post." And so, we have been corresponding with her since.
And we were sharing the idea that, you know, her father's death happened in August. And it was at that point that you thought, really, this was
unimaginable. That a family would need to reach out to 43 different hospitals to find their loved one care. And this was in August.
And then, my dad's death was in November and still things haven't been remedies, still things haven't been set into people yet, which is really
MARTIN: You have a chance -- and I understand that this is still kind of very fresh with the family, but I just wondered if you had a chance to talk
to anybody who is still resisting getting vaccinated. What do you think you might say?
SIMANSKI: You know, on my social media page, I have tried to not be political. I have tried to make it all happy and dogs and family and
whatever. But I have decided now that I'm not holding back anymore. That this is something that needs to be stated. That people need to be aware of
it. Perhaps it's actually knowing a person that's gone through this that will change someone's mind.
I know that when I posted, I have a Twitter account, and when I posted after this about my dad's death and my frustration with the hospitals being
clogged up, I got over 8,000 responses. And a lot of people were like, yes, something needs to change. And I concur. We need to think about how are we
giving care to people, how are we triaging care, is it really fair that my dad and Raven's dad were sacrifices to those people who make the choice not
to get vaccinated.
I just hope and pray that people will take our story to heart and will re- examine why it is that they have chosen not to be vaccinated knowing that it could impact themselves, their family members, that it could indirectly
impact members of their own community.
MARTIN: Julie Simanski, one of the daugthers of Dale Weeks, thank you so much for talking with us.
SIMANSKI: You're welcome.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: It is so important to hear that first person testimony of what happens when the unvaxxed put the rest of public health at risk.
Now, we reached out to the University of Iowa, the hospital group, for a response. None of them would comment on the individual case. But a
spokesperson for university hospital spoke to the Des Moines Register, the local newspaper, last month saying that her facility is often close to
full. Even prior to the pandemic, it was not uncommon for us to operate at 90 to 95 percent capacity on average.
She noted that to address this, the University of Iowa recently gained approval to build additional facilities. Well, that's good news.
And finally, in Beijing, Olympic athletes craving a post workout snack will be fed by robots. Noodles, burgers and rice dishes will descend from above
after being prepared by the computer cooks in charge. China has a strict closed loop (ph) COVID strategy in the Olympic Village, which limits
contact to designated bubbles. There's one more thing for the athletes to think about.
That's it for now. Remember that you can always catch us online and on our podcast. Thank you for watching and good-bye from London.