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Interview With Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly; Interview With Prime Minister of Estonia Kaja Kallas. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired February 23, 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.
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The United States, together with our allies, will defend every inch of NATO territory and abide by the
commitments we made to NATO.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): As President Biden moves to strengthen NATO allies on the front line, I ask the Estonian prime minister if the alliance is
doing enough to deter Putin's aggression.
VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): Russia's interests and the security of our citizens are non-negotiable for us.
AMANPOUR: As Putin makes his case for a war against Ukraine, Kremlinologist Dmitri Trenin weighs in on the mood in Moscow.
MELANIE JOLY, CANADIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: Our position has been here, and we haven't changed it, which is, since 2008, we have been in favor of
Ukraine joining NATO.
AMANPOUR: Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly joins me on how to bolster Ukraine economically and militarily.
And, later, Hari Sreenivasan speaks with the Russian-American journalist Masha Gessen about how this thread is forging Ukraine's identity
AMANPOUR: Welcome to the program, everyone.
I'm Christiane Amanpour in London, where the world remains on watch and on guard against a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. The United States points to
Russia doing that imminently.
Meanwhile, the first tranche of sanctions are hitting Moscow in a coordinated response from the E.U., Britain, the United States, Canada,
Australia, and Japan, and the U.S. has canceled high-level meetings with the Kremlin.
In Ukraine itself, President Volodymyr Zelensky has called up military reserves, and he said the country would not cede any territory, but the
impact of Russia's aggression is already being felt.
Correspondent Sam Kiley is in the Donetsk region. He filed this report on damage from an artillery attack on the Ukrainian side of the border.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: These were stud walls, all gone. The structure is very wobbly. There is a limited amount of
masonry holding this place together.
A family study. And this is the bedroom of a 9-year-old. This is the bedroom of Veronica. Luckily, she was in the kitchen lying on the floor
when these shells landed. But it could have been so much worse.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Meantime, the prime minister's of Poland and Lithuania, states on the front lines of potential Russian aggression, stood in solidarity
with the Ukrainian president, who warned the world.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VOLODYMYR ZELENSKY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): The future of European security is being decided right now, here, in our home, in
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Estonia is another front-line state.
Of course, its prime minister, Kaja Kallas, is urging NATO to beef up its defenses in Eastern Europe. And she's joining me now from Tallinn, the
Welcome to the program, Prime Minister.
Let me get your -- well, ask you first about this alarming new intelligence that the United States has publicly revealed to you all that they believe a
full-scale invasion is imminent. What can you tell us about that?
KAJA KALLAS, PRIME MINISTER OF ESTONIA: It is true that we see the buildup of tensions around Ukraine.
We see cyberattacks. We see different provocations going on. So, definitely, they are preparing for additional aggression.
AMANPOUR: Do you believe, does your intelligence show you or intelligence that you are privy to from NATO whether Russian forces have already moved
into that part of the eastern Donbass area that Putin just recognized as independent?
KALLAS: Well, they don't really have to do that, because, if you think back to the years where Putin claimed that he has nothing to do with the
little green men invading Ukraine, that it's not Russian army, in fact, we were saying then we are saying now that these were Russian army soldiers.
So they only need to change their uniforms, because they are already there. But, yes, we see also the military buildup, additional military buildup,
which refers to a further strengthening of the aggression.
AMANPOUR: Prime Minister, the president of the United States has again said that he will reinforce, along with NATO allies, you all, you NATO
allies, in terms of troops, I guess ,in terms of self-defense mechanisms.
What have you received recently, if anything, and what are you calling for? How do you feel in terms of security at this moment?
KALLAS: Well, as both President Biden, but also Vice President Harrison and several high officials of U.S. administration have pointed out and said
and emphasized, is that Article 5 of NATO is ironclad, which means that attack on one is attack on all.
And we being NATO members, U.S. commit to defending us if necessary. But I would say we don't see any military threat at our borders right now. And
really moving -- making any moves regarding us would mean really making moves on NATO, which I think it's a bit too big bite for Russia.
AMANPOUR: You think Putin would stop there?
KALLAS: Well, he was very public and very open about his intentions. He was talking about the big Russian empire. So he wishes do not stop there.
But this is also very important that we react to this and say that this doesn't really go, because the appetite increases while he gets the bites
And this is the fight for real values, like democracy and freedom, and the freedom of a country to decide its own fate.
AMANPOUR: You say bites of Ukraine. He has taken great big mouthfuls, and he might gobble the whole thing up, according to the United States.
What on earth can Ukraine do right now to defend itself? What do you -- how do you see the picture playing out if Russian forces come in, in force?
KALLAS: Well, Ukraine is definitely going to defend itself and is making all the steps necessary to be ready to have this fight with Russia, which
is, of course, from their point, the only thing to do to defend their country, because, if they let the troops move on, then we see what is
happening on the international era -- arena -- sorry -- because then it is discussion that, let Russia not move on, and all the pieces that they have
already taken are forgotten.
And we shouldn't allow this to happen.
AMANPOUR: Look, rather alarmingly, your own defense minister has just recently said, I mean, in the last hour or so, to the press, that, yes,
sanctions are effective, but he does not think they will deter Putin.
The Lithuanian your foreign minister said the same to me last night. And even the former U.S. Defense Secretary and CIA Chief Leon Panetta just said
that he doesn't think anything can deter Putin right now.
You live in that neighborhood. Do you share -- well, your defense minister said it. Do you share that view?
KALLAS: Well, sanctions still work. They work two ways.
One is also deterrence effect, but the other one is weakening also the adversary, because, if they have less funds to finance the military
actions, then they're weaker to take any other steps. Therefore, I still believe in sanctions. And we have a package of sanctions that we have
agreed. The first batch of sanctions was put in place very quickly.
And I must say too the European Union was really, really fast in putting in place those sanctions. So, what we see from our intelligence, in the long
term, the sanctions hurt the economy. And if the economy's hurt, then there are also less funds to finance the military actions.
AMANPOUR: And it's very concerning to all of you in the form of, well, the Baltic states, who are both members of E.U. and NATO, to see what's
happening in Belarus.
We have also -- we have already heard from officials from your area who are very concerned, because they believe that what's happening is a de facto
Russian annexation of Belarus, that this referendum that's allegedly going to be held over the weekend is nothing but a sham to just allow Putin to
keep his troops in that.
And they're calling, including, as I said, officials from the Baltic states, on sanctions against Belarus right now. What are your worries about
KALLAS: The same worries that you pointed out.
First of all, they are very close to European borders. But, second of all, Russia is really trying to get the reach of all those regions that they
have been in cooperation with or, even more so, those regions that might be in some way in debt to Russia or to Putin.
There are other countries similar of this type, that they have had very close connections with Russia, and maybe they will want to return their
AMANPOUR: Prime Minister, you have said that the West, I guess, just didn't realize, those who are not on Russia's borders, what it would mean
to be so dependent on Russian energy, on Russian natural gas, et cetera.
And you have said -- well, anyway, we know that about 40 percent of Europe's natural gas is from Russia. The president of the European
commission, Ursula von der Leyen, said this to me yesterday about this very issue:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
URSULA VON DER LEYEN, PRESIDENT, EUROPEAN COMMISSION: If anything is sure, this crisis has triggered the knowledge here in Europe that we have to get
rid of the dependency of the Russian gas, and we have to invest, strategically invest, in our independence and these other renewables.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So you have talked about the need to wean, the West needs to wean itself off Russian commodities.
What have you done, Estonia, over the years to become Russia-proof, so to speak, in this regard?
KALLAS: We have two issues. One is that our electricity grid is right now synchronized with the Russian electricity grid still from the Soviet times.
So we have made a lot of investments, together with the Baltic countries, to desynchronize from Russia and synchronize with Central European grid.
So, this is -- it should be ready in a few years' time. Question is whether we can do it faster. The other side of this is, of course, the gas. Our
region is using gas less than maybe other regions. We also have our own very -- unfortunately, very polluting fossil fuel that we are using for the
But we are also connected to the electricity grid of -- or Nord Pool electricity market, which means that we can also benefit from the Nordics.
But, of course, we have made our own investments in renewables s well to get rid of the dependence on Russian gas.
AMANPOUR: Prime Minister, your own great grandfather was one of the founders of Estonian independence back in 1918, and you are about to -- or
you are celebrating 104 years of that independence.
But your family, your mother, your grandmother, have had direct experience with first the Soviets and now -- obviously now the Russians, in terms of
what that aggression can actually mean personally and for your nation.
How do you feel watching this and wondering whether the West has really got Putin's number and is dealing with him properly, or has been?
KALLAS: We are celebrating our 104th anniversary tomorrow. Yes, Estonia is celebrating.
But I'm giving this interview in this state elders room. And the pictures you see behind me and in this room, they are all pictures of our state
elders. And they all perished during the Soviet time, so, actually, when the Soviets came in. So we have really experienced this losing of freedom
And I come from a generation that was born during the Soviet time. So I very much remember when we didn't have a freedom. And now we have it all.
So we understand what it means to Ukrainians that they definitely don't want to have -- or don't want to lose the freedom that they have really
AMANPOUR: Prime Minister Kallas, thank you so much indeed for joining us from Tallinn. And congratulations on your independence day tomorrow.
Now, it is understandable why Russia's neighbors are on edge, as we have been discussing. Russia sent its troops into Moldova in '92, to Georgia in
2008, into Ukraine and annexed Crimea in 2014, into Belarus, and into Ukraine again.
But how do Russians themselves feel about their government's use of force?
Joining me now, Dmitri Trenin, director of the Carnegie Moscow Center.
And, Dmitri, welcome back to the program. We try to get a little bit of what's happening in the Kremlin through you.
I will say that, the last time we spoke -- and I'm sure you have something to -- will admit this -- you didn't think this was going to happen.
What do you think you misjudged about Putin?
DMITRI TRENIN, DIRECTOR, CARNEGIE MOSCOW CENTER: Well, I think that there have been some important developments.
Like, I'm not reporting from the Kremlin. I sit miles and miles away from the Kremlin. So I can only say what is visible to people like myself.
It's interesting that, even a week ago, President Putin was urging President Zelensky, using fairly colorful language, to implement the Minsk
Agreement, whether he likes it or not. And then, on Monday, he basically took Russia out of the Minsk Agreement and called it dead from -- not from
the beginning, but from early on.
A few things must have happened.
AMANPOUR: So he violated that.
TRENIN: Well, look, from the standpoint of Russia -- and I think you would agree -- Ukraine never really had any intention to implement the Minsk
Agreement, because it was argued in Ukraine -- and you heard it as many times as I have, I'm sure -- that this is an agreement that was signed at
gunpoint, as the Ukrainian army was being decimated in Debaltseve. This is high treason. No Ukrainian government would stand if it tried to implement
There were recent comments that an implementation of Minsk would mean destabilizing Ukraine. And I can go on and on and on. And Russia was
TRENIN: ... pushing for the agreement to be implemented, because it works for Russia.
But I think Putin was really...
Well, look, Dmitri, it might work for Russia in some points. But I have spoken to a lot of independent analysts who say that, actually, it was
Putin and Russia that made it impossible to implement Minsk.
Now, as we know, Minsk is the agreement that they all signed on to try to resolve the very issue that is the flash point right now, the issue of
those separatist republics and how to deal with them.
Let us just move on from -- because it looks like it doesn't matter anymore. That Minsk Agreement has been torn up by Putin himself.
So I want to ask you what you got...
TRENIN: I disagree with that. I think...
AMANPOUR: Dmitri, let me ask you something.
I want to ask you what you got out of Putin's speech, and what was the most alarming parts of it? Because he did that, I'm sorry, very strange speech
on Monday night in which he made up history out of whole cloth and decided that Ukraine wasn't even an entity.
Let me just -- let me just one of the little segments of what he said. And then...
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PUTIN (through translator): I would like to reiterate that Ukraine is just not a neighboring country. It's an integral part of our own history,
culture, and spiritual space. Ukraine from the beginning and in its totality has been created by Russia.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And then he ended the speech, as you know, Dmitri, by saying: "You want decommunization? Well, then that works for us, but don't stop
halfway. We're ready to show what true decommunization means," i.e., eradicate Ukraine's borders and it as an entity.
Do you think that that is now what President Putin is going to do?
TRENIN: Well, I think that President Putin sees that the efforts to solve the Ukraine issue by means of international diplomacy, the issues that
Ukraine presents to Russia -- and I think he enumerated a lot of those issues -- do not work.
And, basically, he said -- and I was as struck as you were by the tone of the speech, by the strong language that Putin used, because it's not an
article in which you sort of set out your views. This is an address to the nation.
And, frankly, after the speech, after he said some of these things in the middle of the speech, it looked as if he was going to announce some pretty
-- pretty dramatic decision. It all boiled down to, in the end, as we all know, to the recognition of Donetsk and Luhansk, but it doesn't -- that
doesn't change much, either in terms of status or in terms of the de facto situation on the ground.
But Putin basically said that he does not regard Ukraine -- there are two things here. One is that he is not -- does not regard Ukraine as the
legitimate owner of all the territory that Ukraine occupies. This is a statement that he has made. And that is a statement that needs to be
The other things that he said was that he regards the leadership of Ukraine as being beneficiaries of a coup d'etat in 2014, Maidan, and he does not
regard it as legitimate. Moreover, he said that some members of the Ukrainian leadership, Ukrainian government, Ukrainian armed forces, leaders
are guilty of crimes, and we will, as he said, chase them down and punish them.
Those were very strong words, very...
AMANPOUR: All right.
TRENIN: ... strong words by the president.
AMANPOUR: They were. They were very strong words.
And, Dmitri Trenin, I know you're sitting in Moscow, but just have to say he might not recognize whatever he might not recognize., but it is
protected under international law. There are borders. And international law calls for those borders to be respected. And President Putin never tells
his people that, in 1994, he signed or Russia signed, along with the U.S., Ukraine, et cetera, a solemn pledge to protect that very territorial
integrity, in return for Ukraine giving up its nuclear weapons.
Boy, what country is ever going to give up its nuclear program or its weapons after a potential full-scale invasion by Russia? I mean, what is he
actually putting on the table for the rest of the world now?
TRENIN: Christiane, first of all, borders have been changed, and you know that as well as I do, by force. Countries are recognized that the former
owner of the place does not accept, say, Kosovo vs. Serbia. We all know all these things.
Let's focus on the current situation in Ukraine. I think that the words by President Putin need to be taken very seriously. And I think that, for him,
solving the problems that Ukraine in its current composition, with its current policies, presents to Russia is something that he has set out to
And what we have just seen is, I don't think this is the last act in that direction. He has set out his conditions with regard to Ukraine, de facto
neutrality, de facto demilitarization, no foreign forces, and a generally loyal attitude toward Russian security interests. That's his condition. So
that's his demands right now.
I think we are coming to some very dangerous, though -- more dangerous than ever before.
AMANPOUR: Again, Dmitri, Ukraine is recognized by the United Nations as an independent and sovereign state. So that's just a fact. And it's not the
17th century. It's 2022.
But what I want to ask you is, do you think that, in this expansive view of his right, that he might also "annex" -- quote, unquote -- Belarus? That is
what the Baltic states have worried about.
What do you think the point of this referendum over the weekend in Belarus is? What is the point of it?
TRENIN: Well, I think that the referendum, first of all, originally had domestic roots and domestic implications. The referendum was President
Lukashenko's response to the mass protests of 2020.
But in the current situation, this referendum has another dimension. Belarus and Russia are coming much closer together. The idea of the union
state, which until now for the last 20 years has been just an empty phrase, more or less, could take more real shape. And we could have -- I just
imagine we could have a union state, a much tighter union state of Russia, Belarus, and maybe Donbass.
This could be a new geopolitical construct in Europe's east.
Can I ask you whether sanctions deter somebody like President Putin? They have put down sanctions against members of his entourage or sons and
daughters of them and against members of the Duma, and all sorts of sanctions are being rolled out.
The U.S. Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin has said that they also need to start sanctioning wives and mistresses and stopping them going to Europe and
getting their hair done or buying their fashions there. What will make a difference and deter Putin, if anything, at this point?
TRENIN: Well, I don't think that sanctions that can do anything, other than having the elite rally around Putin.
Some of the members of the elite may choose to stay in the West, to go to the West, where some of their property is located, where some of their
friends and relatives may be living, but the bulk of them will stay and will become even more dependent on the system. They will be -- some of
them, I'm sure, will be compensated for the losses that they will have sustained the due to the sanctions.
And the sanctions themselves will be seen and are being seen by some members of the Russian political elite as some sort of badge of honor, a
badge of loyalty. So that's how things are going.
And as far as the really drastic sanctions are concerned that will go beyond punishing members of the elite, that will hurt the Russian economy
in a big way, I think Putin said that he was ready for a complete rupture of relations with the United States and, I would say, others in the West.
AMANPOUR: So, very, very isolated. It's -- it does not bode well, does it, Dmitri Trenin?
Can I ask you, just finally, what you detect, if at all, a change in the mood in Moscow, or what you're hearing in your media and the like on what
people are feeling about it?
A snap CNN poll said that about 50 percent of Russians say it'd be right to use military force to prevent Ukraine from joining NATO. What are you
TRENIN: Well, I hear that people are much more concerned than the last time we spoke.
I think it only dawned on many people starting on Monday or starting this weekend that things can go terribly bad, and that war will become a
reality, rather than something to laugh about. And we were talking, as you would recall, about the predictions of an invasion that has not happened
I think that the things that turned Mr. Putin's, maybe -- may have turned, may have changed his behavior....
AMANPOUR: OK. 11
TRENIN: ... were the inefficiency of the Minsk process, the Germans, the French, and the Americans failing to convince Minks -- to convince Kyiv to
fulfill Minsk, the chance remark by the German chancellor about genocide in Donbass being ridiculous, and the comment by President Zelensky of Ukraine
that maybe it's time to revisit the non-nuclear status of Ukraine.
Those things, I think, may have been the proverbial straws that broke the camel's back.
AMANPOUR: Well, it's going to be a dark time for Russia and the rest of the world.
Dmitri Trenin, thank you very much.
Ukraine and the defense of European democracy were front and center at the Munich Security Conference this past weekend. I sat down with the Canadian
foreign minister, Melanie Joly, who told me that, as a key member of NATO, Canada was doing all it could to support Kyiv, both economically and
And I also asked her about the global reverberations of the COVID protests paralyzing Ottawa.
AMANPOUR: Foreign Minister, welcome to the program.
JOLY: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: Can I ask you?
You have somewhere in the region of just over a million Ukrainians living in Canada...
AMANPOUR: ... Ukrainian Canadians.
How much does that impact your government's policy on Ukraine and on this crisis in particular?
JOLY: Well, I think, obviously, it has an impact, in the sense that it has -- we have strong people-to-people tie with Ukraine.
We are close to the Ukrainian government. We understand their perspective. We have been training their military and National Guard since 2014.
So, our own Canadian Armed Forces have been on the ground helping Ukrainians professionalize their approach when it comes to their own
military response. And of course, it gives us a perspective to what is happening in the region for sure.
AMANPOUR: So, you've been training since 2014, your troops and NATO troops, let's just be quite clear. What is your view on President Zelenskyy
said yesterday? You know, on the one hand, we need to be part of NATO, we're not giving up on this dream. On the other hand, to me, he said, well,
it might not be tomorrow or the next year, of whatever, but just give us a timeline. What is your view on that or your government's view on them
joining NATO, and what should be said about it, if anything, now?
JOLY: Well, we -- our position has been clear, and we haven't changed it, which is since 2008, we've been in favor of Ukraine joining NATO. And so --
but at the same time, we know and President Biden even mentioned it, that there's no consensus within NATO. So --
AMANPOUR: And they're not ready?
JOLY: And that's one of the reasons why, Christiane, that we were involved in making sure to train the military, because we know there are still
reforms to be made on the democratic side, but also on the military side in order for them to be ready one day to join NATO.
AMANPOUR: And would it be too much of a stretch to say that NATO does not want Ukraine in there right now, while they're not militarily ready, and
that it could trigger an Article 5 response, and they do not want to go in to face Russian forces.
JOLY: Well, you know, different countries have different opinions. We are in favor, and we think that it is important for Ukraine's stability,
security. But at the same time, in order for them to get at a level of readiness, we need to do our part. And that's why we've been doing that on
the military side, like I mentioned, in our operation unifier, which is the operation that we've been conducting since 2014. We have Denmark and Sweden
that are part of that exercise.
But meanwhile, we know right now that this is a very difficult situation. The threat is real and imminent. And so, we're also providing financial
aid. We've provided, at this point, around $620 million in financial support for Ukraine.
AMANPOUR: Would your government privately, publicly, I don't know, encourage President Zelenskyy to say, that we want to join NATO. But we
know it's not now and that it's a long time in the future, as a way to assuage this immediate crisis?
JOLY: Well, I would say, I see it differently. And Russia has a choice to de-escalate. There's no provocation on the part of the West, there's no
provocation on the part of Ukraine.
AMANPOUR: Some in Canada have been critical of the government for not quickly enough providing Ukraine under this existential threat that it
faces with lethal weapons. How would you answer that and what are you delivering to them right now?
JOLY: So, we've had a phased approach. So, from -- when I was in Ukraine, and I was there, you know, one of the first foreign ministers in Ukraine a
month ago. When I sat down with President Zelenskyy, he looked at me in the eye and said, we need to have financial support. That was his main ask.
Because we know that the security threat is creating a lot of financial instability. And so, that's what we delivered within three days.
And he also asked me and Prime Minister Trudeau and our government to make sure that we would launch a movement to make sure that other allies would
come up with financial aid, and that's what happened, the European Union announced three days later $1.2 billion, the Americans have also answered
with $1 billion. So, that was the main ask at the time.
And as the situation was evolving and as the security threat was becoming even more imminent, we decided, of course, to go ahead and provide lethal
weapon, which are in forms of ammunitions.
AMANPOUR: Some military analysts in your country have said that they're concerned that over the last years, your country's been paying less and
less into the defense budget. And therefore, into the NATO budget. Can you talk about that? Is it something your country plans to increase given the
very real situations that we're finding on the ground right now?
JOLY: Well, obviously, we know there is a security threat, like I mentioned, and it is important to reinforce the eastern flank. And so,
obviously, Prime Minister Trudeau will take good decisions and at timely manner. But we know that the security of Ukraine, the security of Europe is
our own security. And therefore, we need to be --
AMANPOUR: So, no decision has been made on what to do about the proportion of the budget going to defense as (INAUDIBLE)?
JOLY: Well, when we became a government in 2015, we decided to increase the budget, and we have a strategy, which is over 10 years, which increase
defense support and investments.
AMANPOUR: Can I turn to your own country now? The seat of government, Ottawa, has been practically paralyzed by this unbelievable, whatever they
call it, freedom protest. A lot of people have said that it's been organized from the United States. Can you first tell me who you think
JOLY: Well, first and foremost, when you look at the situation in Canada right now, the vast majority of Canadians are vaccinated, 80 percent of
Canadians have been vaccinated. But we're entering the third year of the pandemic. People are tired and I would say they're fed up. And it is winter
in Canada. It is always a time where it is difficult. And I'm preoccupied with the mental health of my citizens, of our citizens.
And so, of course, there's a right to peaceful protest. But at this point, the question of the blockades that affected our capital and also border
crossings are past that. And we are preoccupied with the funding of these blockades. We've launched inquiries to see whether there was foreign
influence. I've raced the issue with Secretary Blinken, my counterparts also within Canada have raised the issues because we're very preoccupied
with the financing through crowdsourcing, first, and also, the disinformation campaign linked to it.
AMANPOUR: But this is sensible Canada, and the place has been paralyzed and it's creating ripple effects, at least everybody is looking at our
country right now, like whoa, how can this happen in Canada?
JOLY: Well, we have a very resilient democracy. That's exactly why we decided to respect the right for peaceful protest. But at this point, like
I mentioned, and we passed that and we're past that moment. And we decided to enact the emergencies act for the first time in our history since it was
created in --
AMANPOUR: Really? The first time? I mean, is there a deadline by which your government will then forcibly disperse these people
JOLY: It is -- well, you know, the emergencies act is time limited. And also, right now, the goal is to make sure that the blockades stop.
AMANPOUR: Deadline? What's the time limit?
JOLY: You know, the attorney general has the entire information about that.
AMANPOUR: I mean, Canada has such an amazing reputation around the world. And some people have said that this is like a carnival of chaos at the seat
of government in Canada. How could it be happening? Do you feel it's damaged your reputation around the world?
JOLY: Well, I know that democracies are facing a lot of difficulties. We know that all our populations are undergoing difficulties because of the
pandemic. It's now our third year. It's true in Canada, it's true in the U.S., it's true throughout Europe, around the globe. And so, that's
affecting, you know, the collective psyche. That's the reality.
Now, at the same time, we know that crowdsourcing and disinformation is a very powerful tool to undermine democracy. And that is one of the biggest
threats that we have to deal with in the 21st century. And as a foreign minister, that is certainly something that I want to look into. My
colleagues and I have made many -- have had many conversations about and we need to find solutions. Because it is the very resilience of our
democracies that are at stake.
AMANPOUR: Foreign Minister Melanie Joly, thank you very much indeed.
JOLY: It's a pleasure. Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Continuing our coverage on Ukraine now. Journalist Masha Gessen's latest article in the "New Yorker" tells the story of residents on
the Ukraine-Russian border, where locals talk of misleading propaganda and language divides. He sat down with Hari Sreenivasan to discuss the current
situation, and what the media gets wrong about Vladimir Putin.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARI SREENIVASAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Christiane, thanks. Masha Gessen, thank you so much for joining us.
So, we are now past the point of semantics, of whether or not it's an invasion. What is now happening is explicit versus the last eight years
where Russian forces were surreptitiously invading Ukraine. Is there a difference today when you hear the president of the United States say that
an invasion has begun?
MASHA GESSEN, AUTHOR, "SURVIVING AUTOCRACY": Yes, there's certainly a different. And I'm glad you're framing it that way because a lot of the
time, we hear American politicians and Western politicians talking about an imminent invasion as though Ukraine hadn't been contending with the Russian
invasion and the Russian occupation of Crimea over the last eight years. That is a shooting war that has claimed casualties almost daily.
But what we're facing, judging from Putin's speech on Monday is something on a much greater scale, with their project of changing the regime in Kyiv.
SREENIVASAN: Is this partly to show how weak the West is? I mean, in a way, nation after nation have tried to book appointments with Putin and
tried to get him to talk with them. But here he is, able to carry out his plan, besides the fact that we have essentially forecast what he was going
to do to the world.
GESSEN: I think that this is Putin's -- he feels like this is his hour. And this is something that he has been preparing for, in one way or
another, for the last 23 years. The reference point here is the air war in Kosovo in 1999.
In 1999, a U.S.-led alliance of NATO forces, without the sanctions of the U.N. Security Council started bombing first Kosovo and the rest of
Yugoslavia in order to get then President Slobodan Milosevic to withdraw Serbian military and police from Kosovo, and effectively give Kosovo
autonomy. It then became an independent country in response to sustained violence against ethnic Albanians in Kosovo.
What Putin has been -- and what happened then was basically, the message that Russia got was that in the post-Cold War order, international law was
for the weak and Russia was weak. And the fact that NATO bombed without not only receiving but even seeking a resolution in the Security Council of the
United Nations, and made it very clear to Russia by the prime minister at the time, (INAUDIBLE), on his way to the United States for negotiations.
It was made clear to him that he didn't have a say in a what was going to happen with Serbia and with Kosovo. Russia was put in its place. It was a
profoundly humiliating experience. But it was also an experience of learning that in the new world order, in a unipolar world, the United
States was going to do what it felt was right, not what was legal, not what was on paper. And that actually, believe it or not, came as a shock.
SREENIVASAN: So, if he has that in the back of his mind or in the front of his mind that, listen, NATO didn't have to ask permission and here's what
they were able to do to Belgrade, does he use that in a way as justification for doing the same thing to Kyiv, or having this invasion,
saying, you know what, we are back on the world stage, we are a power, we are not as irrelevant as you think?
GESSEN: So, there are two things are happening. One is Putin is very clearly sort of -- it's -- I don't even know what to call it, it's like a
cosplay of Kosovo, that everything that was in place in 1999 is being imitated in 2022. Putin has been throwing around the word genocide after
his press conference with Olaf Scholz, the German chancellor, I believe, they filled a complaint in the U.N., alleging genocide against ethnic
Russian and Russian speakers in Ukraine. There's absolutely no evidence for this.
They have recognized these manufactured separatist regions in a symmetrical move to what the United States and allies were doing with Kosovo. And so,
they're saying, look, here they are, there's a separatist movement, there are breakaway regions and there's sustained ethnic violence, we're alleging
there's genocide. So, now, we're going to intervene and force regime change, just like the Americans did with Kosovo.
The other thing is going on is I think there's a genuine desire to create a bipolar world again. You assert that Russia is a world power that it will
behave exactly as the other world power does. But also, yes, to put the NATO in its pace, to put the West in its place. It's like, OK, you didn't
ask us, we're not going to ask you. And you what, we were helpless to do anything about Serbia at the time, and you're helpless to do anything about
SREENIVASAN: Is primarily a response with just economic sanctions going to have any of the deterrent effects that the West thinks? This is a former
KGB agent. I'm sure that he's though through what are the consequences. Doesn't he just plan for this and say, all right, so my buddy oligarchs are
going to have a tough day, and some more banks are going to frozen, so what?
GESSEN: In his speech on Monday, Putin said, the West will impose sanctions on us no matter what, whether we go to war or we don't go to war,
they're going to use sanctions. Because, of course, the whole world is against us, that's the message.
The West, the United States and European countries act like an insane person with sanctions. An insane person who keeps doing the same thing,
expecting different outcomes. Sanctions have not worked as a deterrent or a way to force Russia to change its behavior in the last -- you know, how
long have there been sanctions? I think it's going on 15 years. And they never act -- they never function as a deterrent.
So, continuing to frame them as a deterrent is counterfactual. That doesn't mean that there shouldn't be sanctions, right? Sanctions are probably the
right thing to do. It is wrong for the West to be enablers of Putin's aggression. It is wrong to do business with Putin. It is wrong to give
Putin and his cronies access to western financial networks, because that is in fact enabling.
But that's a very different way of thinking than saying, this is going to act as a deterrent. And it affects the way that sanctions are imposed,
right? This whole idea that they will be imposed gradually, you know, this is the first tranche, then if he behaves even more badly, we're going to
impose a second trend is insanity because that has never before and it will not work now.
Putin is not afraid of sanctions because he's not afraid of his population getting poorer. It's not going to affect him personally. And it's not --
and this is a trope that, again, is a kind of insanity, because there's no evidence for it. The trope that Putin's inner circle is going to rebel
against him because they will feel financially squeezed. They feel financially squeezed together, and they depend on Putin and their closer to
Putin to be less financially squeezed. So, there's no possibility of solidarity in those circumstances.
SREENIVASAN: Has this made him stronger or weaker?
GESSEN: I think that, what we know from history, is that totalitarian leaders actually benefit from widespread hardship. When people are worried
about survival, they fear change. They -- and they don't -- they just don't have time and energy to think about whether they're being governed well.
They're really just worried about getting the next meal on the table for their families. So, in a very poor economy, in general, has strengthened
SREENIVASAN: What does Putin not understand about the Ukrainian people or what is he taking for granted here?
GESSEN: So, I think there are two parts to Putin's plan. Or in fact, In Putin's plan, there's in fact one part, which is a (INAUDIBLE) force. I
think he is -- he has plentiful information about his own military, and probably quite a bit of information about the Ukrainian military, and knows
he can overwhelm the Ukrainian defense forces.
What I think he doesn't understand, he can't understand is just what kind of resistance he is going to get from Ukrainian society. I think an attempt
to install a puppet regime in Kyiv will draw is going to draw an extraordinary amount of resistance. I mean, we're talking about a country
that has built a contemporary mythography on being -- people being willing to die for their freedom, not on one, not on two, but on three different
There have been two revolutions in Ukraine. The revolution, the Revolution of Dignity in 2013 and 2014. People stayed in a central square in Kyiv
through the dead of winter, day and night, and they stayed there when the government opened fire on them. And so, this idea that they won their
freedom, they won their basically functioning democracy, right, with lots of flaws, but a functioning democracy. They won it through the loss of
life, and through being willing to sacrifice their lives. That's not just a story, that's a lived experience of history from the Ukrainians.
And to that, the popular resistance to the Russian invasion. The Ukrainian military basically dissembled in the face of the unexpected Russian
invasion in 2014. And people, you know, (INAUDIBLE), young historians, (INAUDIBLE) students, journalists, volunteered to fight for their country.
And many, many more people, hundreds of thousands, possibly millions of people were part of this incredible effort to get supplies to the front, to
get food, to get blankets and clothes to the people that were being displaced. This a volunteer effort of an incredible scale that lasted
So, we're talking about the kind of civic cohesion (ph) that, I think, is difficult for us in the United States to imagine and it's certainly
possible for Putin to imagine. And his experience, the threat of forces is effective against even his bravest opponents.
SREENIVASAN: You picked up on something that he started to say in his speech the other night, and that was really kind of questioning the
underpinnings, the sort of legal basis for the disillusion of the Soviet Union, which has, I think, bigger implications than just Ukraine.
GESSEN: Honestly, that is the most shocking part of his speech to me. What he talked about was that Russia has always been a unitary state. It has
always been a centralized empire. And that the soviet laws, which on the basis of which the Soviet Union was dissolved in 1991. The Soviet laws that
are on paper gave every constituent republic the right to secede.
And on paper, the Soviet Union was a federation. It was a federation of independent states. He is right that it was never actually governed as one.
That until 1991, that was the legal fiction, and then suddenly, those laws were enforced. But what he is saying is that the legal fiction was never
legitimate. And therefore, the dissolution of the Soviet Union, it was not legitimate.
So, he is creating this whole new narrative of Russian imperial history as it continues, without a recognizable legal change in October of 1917, after
the Bolshevik Revolution, when the Empire technically stopped existing and then, was reconstituted as a federation. He is saying, no, it's been a
unitary empire all along. And that means that he is refusing to recognize the dissolution of the Soviet Union, but really is reserving the right to
claim any land that belonged to the Russian Empire that puts not only places like Kazakhstan and other Central Asian countries unnoticed, but the
Baltics, Finland, Poland, right?
This is Putin announcing that Russia is now an expansive power that does not recognize the current map of Europe.
SREENIVASAN: I want to also ask a question about what this does in American political terms. Because we've seen the right and conservative
wing in the United States essentially praise Putin throughout this. We had -- I'm just going to look at notes here -- Mike Pompeo, who said on Fox
News said in January, Putin is a talented statesman, he has lots of gifts. He was a KGB agent for goodness sakes. He knows how to use power. We should
And just the other night on Tucker Carlson, on his show, said, what is this really about? Why do I hate Putin so much? Has Putin ever called me a
racist? Has he threatened to get me fired for disagreeing with him? Has he shipped every middleclass job in my town to Russia? Is he teaching my
children to embrace racial discrimination? Is he making fentanyl? Is he trying to snuff out Christianity? Does he eat dogs?
I mean, there seems to be a different threshold for how we perceive Russian aggression if you are a member of the American Republic Party. 62 percent
of Republicans who say that Putin is a stronger leader than Biden.
GESSEN: This is terrifying. I mean, we're in uncharted territory in American politics where we don't have the two parties arguing about
strategy, we don't have the two parties arguing about values or what strategy is a better expression of agreed-upon values, which is really, you
know, the way that we're used to seeing American politics.
You know, that Tucker Carlson monologue is really about viewing politics in an entirely different way. Seeing it as always transactional, always a
function of personal grievances, and never having anything to do with values, right, or with law, or any of the things that we rely on to create
a common political space.
And so, this crisis in Europe has also forced or is forcing a reckoning with what's happened to American politics, right? The party that is not in
power, the Trump-led Republican Party has refused to recognize the Biden administration as legitimate. Which is a very different idea than the
things that they're doing are bad, and we disagree with them, right?
If the administration is illegitimate, then everything it does is illegitimate. Its entire politics belongs in the trash sheet. And that is
their starting point, which is, of course, why they're saying is not an argument in substance, but an entire -- a complete rejection of everything
the Biden administration is doing in this situation.
SREENIVASAN: Marsha Gessen, thanks so much for your time.
GESSEN: Thank you for having me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: That's it for now. Thank you for watching, and good-bye from London.