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Interview With Belarusian Opposition Leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya; Interview With Ukrainian Parliament Member Lesia Vasylenko; Interview with "Putin's World: Russia Against the West and with the Rest" Author Angela Stent; Interview with "The Great Wager" Host Jane Perlez. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired February 25, 2022 - 13:00 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.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): The fate of Ukraine hangs in the balance, as Russian forces encircle the capital.
I discussed the latest with Ukrainian M.P. Lesia Vasylenko, hunkered down in Kyiv.
And Putin attacks with support from Belarus. Its leader in exile, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, joins with a warning.
ANGELA STENT, DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR EURASIAN, RUSSIAN AND EAST EUROPEAN STUDIES, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY: But he apparently sincerely believes that
Russia can only exist as a great power if it can dominate its neighborhood.
AMANPOUR: Foreign policy expert Angela Stent talks to Walter Isaacson about the global ambitions of Vladimir Putin.
JANE PERLEZ, HOST, "THE GREAT WAGER": Nixon had a real vision. He wanted to get China away from the Soviet Union, so it would be two against one.
The China angle. Veteran foreign correspondent Jane Perlez on the Russia- China alliance against the United States, and what Richard Nixon did to pull them apart 50 years ago this week.
AMANPOUR: Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
NATO leaders held an emergency summit today. They're deploying more forces and calling on Russia to withdraw theirs.
Western officials warn the Ukrainian capital could fall within days, as Russian forces tried to encircle Kyiv. And, from Moscow, Putin called on
the Ukrainian army to overthrow its own government.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): Do not let Banderites and neo-Nazis use your children, wives and old people as human
Take power into your own hands. It looks like it will be easier for us to come to an agreement than with this gang of drug addicts and neo-Nazis that
have settled in Kyiv and taken hostage the entire Ukrainian people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Using false and, as historians remind us, frankly, obscene references to denazification, when Ukraine's president is, in fact, Jewish.
Volodymyr Zelensky remains courageously in Kyiv amid warnings from the allies that Putin's goal is to install a pliant puppet regime.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VOLODYMYR ZELENSKY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): Good evening, everyone. The leader of the fraction is here. The head of the
president's administration is here. Prime Minister Shmyhal is here.
Podoliak is here. The president is here. We are all here. Our military are here. Citizens and society are here. We are all here defending our
independence, our state. And it will remain so. Glory to our defenders. Glory to our women defenders. Glory to Ukraine.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Standing in the street there as night falls, while European leaders say the Ukrainian forces are putting up a valiant fight, and at
least the first 48 hours of the Russian invasion have not gone as fast as Putin might have hoped, with the British defense minister saying that
Russia has suffered about 450 casualties already.
Reporter Nick Paton Walsh was at the side of the most serious fight-back. That's the Kherson Bridge in the south, where the Ukrainians had some
success in pushing the Russians back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: I was told of dead bodies brought out from here. We have seen two, one man unfortunately
left just in the middle of the road there.
But the damage is pretty significant here. And we keep walking up towards this petrol station. You see the sort of bizarre local landmarks that have
not been the focus of fighting. And it's clear the Ukrainian army made a significant stand here and took quite a lot of certainly damage to their
vehicles, possibly military as well.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Ukrainian forces also heroically stood their ground on Snake Island, which is a small island in the Black Sea.
Listen to this ship-to-shore audio recording.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am repeating, I am Russian military ship. Propose to put down arms, or you will be hit.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Russian warship, go (EXPLETIVE DELETED) yourself.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And, for that, President Zelensky says all his men there were killed.
Joining us now from Kyiv is Lesia Vasylenko. She's a member of Ukrainian Parliament. And she is there hunkered down. And she's determined to stay.
Welcome to our program.
Tell me the very latest. We have heard all these military reports all day. Are you expecting any further advances on the capital?
LESIA VASYLENKO, UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT MEMBER: We are.
As we speak, I was just checking the messages. We parliamentarians get operative information about what is happening. And now they're checking
information about a dozen also Russian aircraft planes being directed towards Kyiv for further airstrikes.
AMANPOUR: Can I just ask you, Madam Vasylenko?
Your foreign minister has already called out what he calls a war crime. He said Russian artillery all from the air have taken out a kindergarten and
some other civilian targets on the outskirts -- on the outskirts of Kyiv. Do you have any confirmation of that?
VASYLENKO: Not just the outskirts of Kyiv.
Through the night, over 30 civilian targets have been hit, 33, to be exact, three kindergartens in Ukraine. One children's hospital in Kharkiv region
was targeted, thankfully, no casualties there. The medical staff were able to get the children down to the bomb shelter in time.
Cars get run over by tanks in Kyiv, for example. And down in Kherson, a car was shot at which had a family, a husband and wife and child, as far as we
know. And, finally, just very close to Kyiv, an aircraft was shooting at civilians. This is a town just around 30, 40 kilometers from Kyiv. And as a
result of that shooting, there are four civilian casualties.
AMANPOUR: Do you have a sense of how many casualties altogether around Ukraine your forces or your civilians may have suffered?
Because we hear from the British defense minister the number 450, which is an extraordinarily high number on the first day of an invasion by a hugely
more sophisticated army, I'm sorry to say, but the Russians have had so much force. And they seem to have suffered a lot of casualties.
Can you talk to that and what your forces are doing?
But you are telling the truth. The Ukrainian army is honestly up against a force much bigger than it ever had and that it will ever have probably.
We're talking about a top three global military power, the biggest army in Europe and a nuclear state. And the Ukrainian army has to fight all of that
itself on the ground.
So, what we have -- what we are facing is actually having to withstand all kinds of attacks.
AMANPOUR: And what are you precisely yourself doing -- yes, go ahead.
VASYLENKO: And so, in terms of what you were just saying, in terms of the number of casualties, we have confirmed numbers of Ukrainian casualties. We
have 137 dead soldiers, Ukrainian soldiers, over last night.
And then we have over 380 wounded. This is just military casualties. In terms of civilian casualties, we are still counting the numbers. And as for
the Russian military, the numbers that we have -- just have come in, their losses are 2,800 men and even more weapons, even more vehicles, military
vehicles, which they are losing in Ukraine.
So, the question here is, why -- what are they fighting for? What are families losing fathers for? What are mothers losing sons for?
AMANPOUR: Well, that's an extraordinarily high number that you report there. And I'm assuming you have obviously all your sources.
Can I ask you about some of the stuff that's coming out of Moscow? Putin has -- well, you heard him talk about a bunch of thugs and neo-Nazis in
Kyiv, and that he's called on the Ukrainian army itself and your military to overthrow your own government. I mean, he said that from the Kremlin
Clearly, they're trying to wage their own psyops and trying to get in the heads of your military, trying to tell them that there's -- they have no
Do you fear that your military could be turned at all?
VASYLENKO: I have a very high respect and regard for our military. They are doing the best that they can. And they are doing more than ever was
expected of them.
They are loyal to their people. They are loyal to their country. And because they are Ukrainian, they are fighting for the freedom of our
country and the independence of our country. And they will be doing so until the very end. There is not one Ukrainian soldier who will betray the
oath which he or she has given to serve this country until the end.
And Putin's destabilizing speeches are only doing the reverse. They are uniting the army. They are uniting the people. And they are making anger
grow towards this hostile invader, this aggressor, who we are determined to push out from Ukraine.
AMANPOUR: Can I ask you, Lesia Vasylenko, how you plan to protect yourself?
We have heard your president call on civilians to use Molotov cocktails if they come across Russian units. And we have heard members of Parliament say
they have armed themselves with Kalashnikovs for their own protection.
What do you have? And how do you hope to stay safe, along with your with your family?
VASYLENKO: I have an AK-47. I have a PM.
And I have in my home with my family a number of other weapons, which we intend to use for self-protection, for defense of our home of our land and
of our children. I have all my family with me, both my parents and my husband's parents. All three of my children are with me. We have a lot to
protect, not just the values that we are fighting for, not just the freedom, not just the democracy, not just the principle of a sovereign
state, but also I have my family to protect and to take care of.
As many other M.P.s, I have received the weapons officially, because the whole country is in a martial law and lives under martial law, which also
means total mobilization of the population.
Total mobilization means that anyone who has two legs and two arms or other possibilities to carry a gun carries that gun and defends himself, herself,
the families, the close ones, and the people around them until the very end, until the aggressor is out of our country, and until our borders are
restored, and until Ukraine has fought and stood up for its right to remain an independent sovereign state.
AMANPOUR: You have obviously have been watching, like the whole world, these extraordinary pictures that have been coming out of the Kremlin just
before the invasion started, with Putin sitting at these massively long tables, and then that strange so-called national security meeting he had,
again, very, very far away from whoever he's talking to.
It just -- it just solidified the image of an isolated person making these decisions. And some have speculated that he may have thought he was going
to be welcomed, as they say, with rose petals when his forces came into Ukraine.
What do you think his actual aim is? Is it to occupy? Is it regime change? What do you think his military objective is right now?
VASYLENKO: The military objective is to get hold of Kyiv, to -- before he goes all in with a military coup, he's going to try to legitimize his
So his ideal world is getting the Parliament into session, and making all of us 126 Ukrainian M.P.s make a decision under -- being -- while being
pointed at always guns. And that decision that he wants from us is to recognize that Crimea is Russian, is to recognize these so-called
republics, to put in writing that Ukraine will never become a NATO member or an E.U. member, to make sure that we remain a neutral demilitarized
country and a neutral demilitarized people.
And also, as far as I know, from his plans is to get rid of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. So this is a big list of very strange, perverted fantasies
which will never happen, not under this president, this Ukrainian president, not under this Parliament of the Ninth Convocation, of which I'm
We have done everything for this decision not to be able to ever become real. So, without the possibility to legitimize his rule and his hold over
Ukraine, it is likely that he will go in for a full-on military occupation, for a destabilization, a military coup, resulting in ousting of the present
president, and bringing back someone of the likes of ex-President Yanukovych or maybe some kind of other Muppet personality, who he will rule
over from Moscow.
But, essentially, all these scenarios, there's the end goal which Putin pursues, and the end goal is to wipe independent Ukraine off of the face of
the earth. He does not see his perfect picture of a big Russian empire without Ukraine integrated into it.
He needs Ukraine for so many reasons, starting from historically explaining to the people how Moscow is great and the greatest power in Eastern Europe,
and ending with just showing the magnitude of Russia as also a European empire, because, without Ukraine, he has not so many territories in Europe.
AMANPOUR: Lesia Vasylenko, M.P. in Kyiv, thank you so much for joining us and standing courageously for your country, along with all your troops and
your president and your civilians.
In his attack on Ukraine, Putin is relying heavily on his friend and neighbor the Belarusian strongman Alexander Lukashenko, using his land to
base Russian troops and move them from there into Ukraine.
Today, the NATO secretary-general strongly denounced both nations.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JENS STOLTENBERG, NATO SECRETARY-GENERAL: The world will hold Russia and Belarus accountable for their actions, Russia as the aggressor, Belarus as
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Now, before Putin's invasion of Ukraine, Lukashenko was called Europe's last dictator. And a referendum on Sunday could further cement his
grip on power, potentially keeping him in office until 2035, but even more worrying, putting his country closer to Putin.
Belarus' opposition leader in exile, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, is deeply alarmed.
And she's joining me now from Paris, where she's trying to rally support for Ukraine in this moment.
Welcome back to our program, Ms. Tikhanovskaya.
Just tell me how you think this is going to unfold, particularly after the referendum on Sunday? What will happen to your country, Belarus, as you
have heard the secretary-general calling it the enabler that will have to be held to account?
SVETLANA TIKHANOVSKAYA, BELARUSIAN OPPOSITION LEADER: Yes, actually, this Sunday in Belarus will be so-called referendum, so-called because the
Belarusian people don't recognize it as legal and legitimate, because Lukashenko lost his legitimacy in fraudulent election 2020.
And this is a referendum about amendments in constitution. And the constitution draft that Lukashenko proposed is very weak and Venice
Commission harshly criticized the draft. It states that the constitution only strengthens Lukashenko.
But what's most worrying is that the regime wants to exclude neutrality and non-nuclear status from the constitution. And regime really wants nuclear
weapons in Belarus. So, it will put the whole of Europe in danger.
So we call for our international allies not to recognize the results of this referendum and not even to mention this.
AMANPOUR: We have just heard that President Biden and President Zelensky of Ukraine have again talked today about defensive weapons, about
From your perspective, from that region, and knowing firsthand how these strongmen operate, what do you think is going to stop Putin now?
TIKHANOVSKAYA: I think that, with dictators, normal democratic tools are not working.
It's a (INAUDIBLE) course, because, in the 21st century, everything can be sold through diplomacy, through negotiations. But Western countries have
sanctions as a very impactful tool to influence dictators' behavior. And I think that Lukashenko shares the responsibility for this unprovoked war, as
the Kremlin's ally.
And I hope that West has learned from its own mistake and will take the toughest measures, not just the words of condemnation, but real sanctions,
no more flirting with the dictator. We need sanctions on banks, oil, portage, all the state enterprises that provide Lukashenko with money.
And I suppose that the same scheme should be done towards Russian aggression as well.
AMANPOUR: Ms. Tikhanovskaya, you know, obviously, better than I do, that Belarus borders the Baltic states, and that those are both E.U.states and
Do you think that a vassal state of Moscow, if he abandons neutrality, will be a threat, will allow Putin to threaten NATO countries? Do you think
Putin understands that that is a red line?
TIKHANOVSKAYA: No, absolutely.
While Lukashenko is keeping his power, thanks to violence in support of Putin, he will be -- our territory will be a threat to European countries.
And who knows what dictators keep in mind, what -- whether they are going to move forward with their era of influence or they want just to return the
territories of past Soviet Union into their sphere of influence?
Who knows? But it's a very important moment in our history, in the history of the whole Euro, that we have to defend countries that want changes in
their republics, who want to stand on the way of democratic changes, because the history could change really differently, and who knows what
consequences Europe will have if we allow dictators to rule in our region.
AMANPOUR: And finally, Ms. Tikhanovskaya, there is some word that we're not sure of the full details, but one of Presidents Zelensky's advisers has
said that he, the president, is considering a proposal from the Kremlin to hold more talks on the Minsk accords in Minsk in Belarus.
And Putin apparently has phoned your president -- well, Alexander Lukashenko, and agreed that the Belarusian side and the president would do
everything to best organize the arrival of delegations and ensure their safety.
Would you recommend that Zelensky or his delegation go to Minsk at any time now?
TIKHANOVSKAYA: So, first of all, Lukashenko is not president of our country. He lost his legitimacy.
But, today, for example, I was in the French Senate, and I announced that Kremlin called for negotiations in Minsk. And I warned people, senators
that Belarus, Belarusian regime, made Belarus a country of oppression, and another city, another neutral country should be chosen for negotiations.
AMANPOUR: OK, all right.
Well, we will wait and see how that develops, and, indeed, how the whole situation in both your nations develop.
Thank you so much for joining us.
And next, in 2019, the renowned foreign policy expert Angela Stent wrote a book entitled "Putin's World," and it looks at how the dictator created a
paranoid and polarized world view. Now her latest article in "Foreign Affairs" outlines what she calls the Putin doctrine, getting the West to
treat Russia as if it were the Soviet Union, a power to be respected and feared.
Stent sat down with Walter Isaacson to discuss what she meant by this and much more on the crisis in Ukraine.
WALTER ISAACSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Thank you, Christiane.
And, Dr. Angela Stent, welcome to the show.
You wrote a really prescient article in "Foreign Affairs" a couple of months ago called "Putin's World" or "Putin's Doctrine."
And you said that making a move on Ukraine was always part of the plan. Why is that?
STENT: It's because Putin believes that, in the 1990s, a Euro-Atlantic security system was set up that was disadvantageous to Russia, because he
believes that the collapse of the Soviet Union, as he has said, was the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century.
He believes that Russia has a right to dominate the countries in its neighborhood, to a sphere of influence. And so he's really been determined
really. He's been president for 22 years. He's seen five U.S. presidents come and -- well, he's on fifth now.
And he decided that, at this point, this was the time to strike. And he apparently sincerely believes that Russia can only exist as a great power
if it can dominate its neighborhood, and particularly if it can dominate Ukraine.
ISAACSON: In "Putin's World," your book, you talk about how Russia was able to reemerge, even despite its really bad economy.
How did Putin play such a poor hand so well?
STENT: So, Putin is trained, first of all, as a KGB case opposite. And, secondly, he was a judo champion in his youth.
And so he has been very adept at taking advantage of the weakness, the distraction of his opponents, as he sees them, of a distracted West, even
though Russia was much weaker, and he seized opportunities where he saw them. And he has now -- Russia has now gone back to parts of the world from
which it withdrew after the Soviet collapse, and it's rebuilt its military.
And even though, of course, it's much weaker than the United States, it can still dominate its neighborhood. And it can certainly project power beyond
ISAACSON: You're on the senior advisory committee of the NATO Supreme Command. You advised them for a while. How effectively do you think NATO
STENT: I think NATO was responding quite effectively now.
I think people have been surprised by how unified NATO was. And when I was on the senior advisory panel, particularly to General Breedlove -- and this
was during the Obama administration -- I think that he was frustrated after 2014, when Russia annexed Crimea and began this war in southeastern
Ukraine. He was frustrated that NATO didn't do more, that the U.S. didn't do more.
And I think, this time, some lessons have been learned from that. At least NATO has presented a united front. And we have -- are now sending thousands
and thousands more troops back in -- not only to Europe, but particularly to those front-line NATO members who -- which border Ukraine.
So there is a show of strength there. And I think one of the dangers of this ongoing war is that it could inadvertently spread beyond Ukraine to
some of its neighbors that are NATO members. And that would, of course -- that you would create a situation where NATO and Russia would be directly
confronting each other, which is an extremely dangerous thing to ponder.
ISAACSON: Well, that's pretty shocking.
You think that this could go into Poland or someplace like that?
STENT: I think not deliberately.
But once wars break out -- and we now the Russians closing on Kyiv -- would there be a cyberattack that would affect Poland? Would that be some
inadvertent incident which could affect these NATO members? And I think everyone's very aware about this now. And they clearly don't want this to
But NATO is now reinforced. I mean, ironically, of course, Vladimir Putin has given NATO yet another purpose. After the withdrawal from Afghanistan,
there was a question, what does NATO do next? The withdrawal, as we know, was quite chaotic.
And the answer is, NATO goes back to its original mission, which is to contain -- it was then the Soviet Union, and now Russia.
ISAACSON: You said that he's dissatisfied with the world order. That happened after the collapse of communism and the end of the Cold War. And
one of the things that happened, especially in the past 20 years, has been the expansion of NATO.
It expanded into Poland and to the Czech Republic, and now even to the Baltic states and Romania. Was that a mistake?
STENT: Well, you have to go back to the early 1990s, in the Clinton administration.
The Soviet Union had collapsed. The Warsaw Pact collapsed. And you had all of these countries in Central Europe, some of whom had territorial claims
against each other, for instance, Hungary and Romania. These countries had not known sort of democracy since the 1930s or before.
And there was real concern about what would happen to them. And, of course, they had had centuries of domination, either by Russia or by the Soviet
Union. So, the Clinton administration made the decision to use NATO, which was a successful institution, to order really European security.
And they decided not to sort of abandon NATO and create some new all- European structure, although some people wanted it at the time. But that was their choice. And they also offered Russia a special relationship with
NATO, the NATO-Russia Council.
But, of course, the problem with that system was that Russia never really had a stake in it. And then you had the original enlargement of NATO to
Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary, and then, in 2004, to a larger number of countries, including the three Baltic states.
But, at the time, even in 2004, Putin didn't really object. The Russians weren't thrilled about it. So, some of the narrative that you hear now,
that NATO is a major threat to Russia, is something that has really been there, well, certainly since 2007, when Putin made his infamous speech at
the Munich Security Conference and accused the United States of trying to dominate the world in a nefarious way.
So, we come back to the question, could it have been done otherwise? But at the time, I don't think anyone had the stomach after this upheaval through
the collapse of collapse of communist to create an entirely new organization for European security, which would have included Russia as a
ISAACSON: But, you know, Russia has been attacked, at least, two or three times in the past century from the West. You go back to Napoleon. It's
always being attacked from the West. Is it unreasonable for Putin and Russians to want a security corridor of, at least, neutral nations on their
STENT: You know, in the 20th century, yes. Russia was invaded twice by Germany. The Soviet Union lost 27 million people in World War II, which
was, you know, obviously, it left it with feeling very vulnerable.
You know, when you look at Russia today, it's the nuclear superpower. It's an energy superpower. It's a geographic superpower. None of its neighbors
would have the capacity to invade Russia or attack it, they're all much weaker. And the United States and Russia, which have never been at war with
each other, United States would never think about attacking or invading Russia because we're both nuclear superpowers and the result would be --
could be Armageddon.
So, if you look at the reality, it's hard to understand why Russia believes that today, again, in the 21st century needs buffer states. On the other
hand, those historical perceptions and memories, of course, run very deep.
ISAACSON: Everything you said makes it seem like this invasion was in inevitable. Was there anything we could have done, the West could have
done, or some arrangement we could have made that would have prevented what's happened in the past week?
STENT: I mean, it's hard to say. On the one hand, I would go back to the 2008 NATO Bucharest Meeting. Now, at that meeting, the Bush administration
really wanted its allies to provide Ukraine and Georgia with a membership action plan, which is a preliminary agreement which eventually does lead to
membership. And the major NATO allies, France, Germany, were very much against that, precisely because they thought it would provoke Russia.
And so, in a very hastily profit (ph) compromise, the communique from that summit says, Ukraine and Georgia will join NATO. But there is no timetable.
There was never any plan. Since 2008, no steps have been taken to give either Georgia or Ukraine a membership action plan. And of course, it was
at that summit that Putin then attended the next day, the only NATO summit he's ever attented, and he said to President Bush, you have to realize,
George, Ukraine isn't even a country. Most of it belonged to Russia. And the Western part of it was given to us after World War II.
So, I think that was a mistake. It was a mistake to have that clause in there, that sentence, which the Russians can then point to and say,
Ukraine's going to join NATO. And the NATO can say, yes, but that's all very vague and it's in the future. So, I think this was a mistake. I still
think that Russia under Putin would have wanted to dominate Ukraine even absent of the NATO question. But certainly, having that sentence there has
made it easier for Russia to justify what it's doing there.
ISAACSON: Could this have been resolved recently, or could it even be resolved now if there were just a clear statement that Ukraine is not our
candidate for NATO membership?
STENT: I do not believe that that really would have staved off the Russian attack. Don't forget, in the two treaties that were presented to the United
States and NATO in December of last year, Russia demanded not only that NATO not expand anymore but that it withdraw to the military posture of
1997. In other words, all of the new members of NATO, starting with the 1999 enlargement, would no longer have had any, you know, military
connection really to NATO.
So, you know, the U.S. and NATO, we did respond. We made a lot of offers to negotiate with Russia about issues that do concern Russian security, having
to deal with missile defense and troop deployments in Central Europe, confidence building measures, a number of other things. And the Russians
rejected them because we had rejected their major demand.
Maybe if the -- you know, NATO would have said, NATO will never enlarge anywhere, it wasn't only about Ukraine, it was to say never -- there will
be no more enlargement to include, for instance, both Sweden and Finland, who would like to keep that question open. Maybe that would have stopped
Russia from doing what it's doing. But I -- if -- as I believed that Putin is relaying is to have a subservient Ukraine, Russia probably would have
gone ahead and done this anyway. It was planning -- it's been planning to do this at least, what, from U.S. intelligence says really beginning in
March of 2021.
ISAACSON: So, if Russia is able to install a puppet government in Kyiv, how does that play out?
STENT: Well, you know, talking to Ukrainian friends and colleagues, the majority of Ukrainians do not want to be under Russia's thumb, even those
in the East, even those who speak Russian. And they want to have an independent and a free Ukraine. So, there will be resistance. An insurgency
is difficult in a country like Ukraine who is flat. There aren't any mountains in the (INAUDIBLE) and, you know, it would be hard to carry out
such an insurgency. But people believe there will be resistance.
And so, it's hard to see how this plays out. But of course, Russia has the dominant force. And if it wants to keep government in power that's pro-
Russian, it will be able to do this. What Russia really can't do is occupy Ukraine. It would take, people estimate, about 1 million soldiers to do
that. And of course, and a lot of resources, and I don't think that's what the Russians want to do. They want to have a government there that will
essentially do their bidding. And, again, we'll just have to see how this plays out.
ISAACSON: So, could the world order, as we know it, now survive if Russia's successful in imposing a puppet government and that's how this
STENT: So, I mean, I think the European Security System that we've had for the past 30 years is broken. And something -- you know, it'll have to be
reimagined, revised. We will have to have, you know, much more resilient countries, if you like, in that area, if they don't want to be dominated by
Russia. It's a different world order. I mean, Putin has talked about the need for a post-West order, of course, so has President Xi Jinping.
And there are two models for Putin, one of them would be a tripartite Yalta, going back to 1945 and you would divide the world into an American,
a Russian and a Chinese served influence. Well, these three great powers would dominate and enable it. And the thing about a system like this is
that there might still be some rules.
I mean, during the Cold War, there were rules. The Soviet Union and the United States didn't interfere with each other's spheres of influence most
of the time. But what I think Putin is looking at more is a sort of disordered world order, a Hobbesian world order, a disruptive world order,
where there are no rules. And that's, by the way, I think not what the Chinese want and I think they look at some of that as (INAUDIBLE) from the
Russian point of view, that is the kind of world order that they would like, a disruptive world order. I think that's what we're going to have to
contend with and push back from in the future after this war is over.
ISAACSON: A tenet of American foreign policy for the past 50 years is that we should be closer to Russia or closer to China than they are with each
other. This situation seems to be pushing Russia and China into an alliance of convenience. Is that possible? And how does Putin feel about being
aligned with President Xi in China?
STENT: Putin made a choice in 2014 after the annexation of Crimea that he would move closer towards China. China supported Russia after the
annexation and after the sanctions were imposed on Russia. The West tried to isolate Russia, and China stepped in.
And since 2014, you've seen an increasingly close military relationship. The economic ties are greater than they were before. Although, for China,
the U.S. and Europe are much more important. And these are two authoritarian leaders who support each other domestically, they have
grievances against the United States, they believe that their interests haven't been listened to, attended to by the United States and its allies.
So, that's the choice that Putin has made, that Russia is going to be, you know, the junior partner to China, since China clearly is a rising power,
economically and otherwise, and Russia is not.
Now, we're faced with these two countries who are increasingly closely aligned, even though it is, to some extent, a marriage of convenience. And
the question is, if our relationship with Russia is so antagonistic, should we be, again, going back to the 1970s, and try to align more with China?
But, of course, that's not what the Biden administration or, for that matter, the Trump administration's policies were since China is seen as a
So, that -- you know, for the U.S. going forward, the challenge is not only dealing with Russia and dealing with China separately but dealing with the
two of them together.
ISAACSON: Dr. Angela Stent, thank you so much for joining us.
STENT: Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And that's our next focus because many parts of the world are watching Putin's military adventurism, not least China. The Moscow/Beijing
relationship is something Americans have long been worried about. President Nixon worked hard to ensure the axis of Russian and Chinese communism did
not make an alliance against the USA.
50 years later, Nixon's bet on strategic diplomacy with Mao Zedong is filled with lessons for our time now. And for that, we turn to veteran
correspondent Jane Perlez, who is a young Australian student, visited China even before Nixon landed there. And I spoke to her earlier this week about
her deep dive into the question for her podcast, "The Great Wager." We spoke, as I said, earlier this week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Jane Perlez, welcome to the program.
JANE PERLEZ, HOST, "THE GREAT WAGER": Great to be with you, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: It couldn't be a more timely podcast, the notion that 50 years ago, the U.S. president, y9ou know, made relations with China. And
actually, to try to be a bull work against the then Soviet Union. It has a lot of lessons for today.
PERLEZ: It does in a way because it was such adventurous diplomacy back then. Nixon had a real vision. He wanted to get China away from the Soviet
Union, so it would be two against one, i.e., China and United States against the Soviet Union.
AMANPOUR: How well did that work?
PERLEZ: It worked really well. In a way because Mao Zedong who was the then leader then headed up to here with the Soviets, and they were having a
real -- they were actually nearly fighting the Soviets and the Chinese. So, it wasn't so difficult for Nixon to pull the Chinese away. And the Chinese
were actually looking around for the Americans. Mao Zedong had asked some of his generals to come up with a solution for what to do about the Soviet
Union because the Soviets were firing and fighting the Chinese on their border.
And one of the generals, the foreign minister, Chinese, said, play the America card. So, Mao Zedong, who had actually been, you know, screaming at
the Americans for two decades, was in a mood to greet Nixon. So, in a way, Nixon, although, he was very imaginative, had an open door.
AMANPOUR: Well, OK, that's really interesting because your podcast is called "The Great Wager," ie, Nixon's great wager on going through that
door. And most people think it was, you know, the Nixon-Kissinger initiative. But you're saying it's as much something that China wanted as
America at that time.
PERLEZ: Almost, almost as much. And as far as Nixon-Kissinger, it was -- Nixon was really the visionary, and Kissinger was the -- what I like to
call the operator. He's the guy who organized it. He actually didn't know that much about China. He went on "The Dick Cavett Show" a couple years
later and said to Dick Cavett when he was promoting his book, I didn't know anything about China. Great attributes for someone put in charge of the
policy. But together, they worked on it very closely.
AMANPOUR: So, tell us a little bit, because your podcast is really listenable, it's really digestible and acceptable. And it's full of amazing
anecdotes that many people will either have never known or forgotten. So, talk to us a little bit about some of the anecdotes that you -- you know,
you bring up again, you know, the secret visit of Kissinger's, the sort of, you know, hide in the boot of the car over the -- you know, to get to the
airport to go to China so nobody -- just walk us through some of the skullduggery that went into him just going to China the first time,
PERLEZ: Yes. Well, Kissinger had to figure out how to get to China secretly because Nixon was absolutely insistent that this will secret
because he had a right-wing Republican Party that was totally still very anticommunist. And though Nixon had been very anticommunist, he saw opening
to China as being more important.
So, to get there secretly, they landed on the Pakistanis. The Pakistanis had good relations with China and they had good relations with the United
States, and their diplomats were incredibly discreet. So discreet that the foreign secretary of Pakistan had a son who had a 1960s VW Bug. So, when it
came to getting Kissinger to the airport in Pakistan to go to Beijing, the foreign secretary borrowed his son's VW Bug, put Kissinger in the backseat,
and Kissinger had already come up with this disguise, a fedora and sunglasses. And that's the way he went to the airplane at the Islamabad
Airport to fly to Beijing.
AMANPOUR: And when he came back, President Nixon went on television. He was quite energized and excited about what had just happened, and then, he
would announce that he was going to go and visit China several months later. This is what the president, Nixon at the time, told the American
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICHARD NIXON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: I have requested this television time tonight to announce a major development in our efforts to build a
lasting peace in the world. As I have pointed out on a number of occasions over the past three years, there can be no stable and enduring peace
without the participation of the people's Republic of China and its 750 million people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, Jane, you know, he went on national television, he requested special time just to announce that. I mean, that's pretty amazing. And
you've spoken about why it was so -- such a daring move at that time given his, you know, anticommunism and his right-wing and the right flank. But I
just want to ask you, in retrospect, do you think, like some have suggested, that maybe Kissinger, I don't know, did he take the right
gamble? Did he ever come to wonder whether he had done the right thing given the rise of China and how it steadily grew to, you know, contest and
compete United States economically, militarily?
PERLEZ: I do think it was the right thing to do. I mean, you have to look at this at the moment, at the time -- in the time, it was absolutely right.
And I know that there are a lot -- there's a lot of sniping in Washington right now saying it was the wrong thing to do, that Nixon enabled the
Chinese Communist Party to survive, that China wouldn't be such a competitor if Nixon hadn't gone there. But look at the alternative. It
would have been an angry China, a China with nuclear weapons, which quite possibly could have become another version of North Korea.
So, I think it was a gamble worth taking. The mistakes that were made were made down the road after 2000 when we admitted China into the World Trade
Organization and were not tough enough with its transgressions, with it's getting away with murder, frankly, with some of the rules of WTO. And the
United States just chose to look the other way because everything was so jolly between the United States and China commercially in particular.
AMANPOUR: And let's not forget that even President Clinton, I mean, many years after that visit, said something to the effect that, you know, it's
like Jell-O. You can't nail it to a wall. Basically, saying that the more China opened, the more democratic it would become. But that clearly has
patently been proven false over the years.
PERLEZ: Well, I -- you know, Nixon never thought that China was going to become democratic. That was not the reason that he went to China. He went
for pure hard-headed strategy. He used to say that people-to-people programs, that's for the liberals. Democracy in China, I think he
questioned that it would ever happen. And I think people who knew China well questioned that it would ever happen.
United States has always had this dream going back 150 years that China would become democratic. For better or worse, it's become even more
authoritarian than it was, and people didn't quite understand what the new leader, Xi Jinping, would be like. But that's a different question from
what Nixon did.
AMANPOUR: Exactly. And I mean, let's face it, it is the first power in 100 years to be nipping at America's heels and challenging it economically and
militarily. But let's go back to 1972, and it was on February -- it was February 21, 1972 that this week that changed the world, as it was dubbed
then, took place.
I'm already struck that Nixon spent eight days in China. I don't know whether world leaders spend that amount of time anywhere these days. And
Zhou Enlai, the very famous and pragmatic Chinese premier, he said to Nixon, your handshake came over the vastest ocean in the world, 25 years of
no communication. And then, this is what he said at the banquet for the Nixons in the Great Wall.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ZHOU ENLAI, CHINESE PREMIER (through translator): In conclusion, I propose a toast to the health of President Nixon and Mrs. Nixon, to the health of
our other American guests, to the health of all our friends and comrades present, and to the friendship between the Chinese and American people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Golly, it's quite nostalgic to see that tone, isn't it? And I just was interested, how did Mao himself greet President Nixon?
PERLEZ: It was quite a scene. You know, when Nixon got to the airport in Beijing, he was actually quite nervous because the welcoming party was
quite modest, you know, a couple of months before Haile Selassie of Ethiopia had come to Beijing and, you know, hundreds of thousands of
people, it was a very modest welcome. And he had really no word that he was going to see Mao Zedong. He was the leader of the free world, the president
of the United States. He's used to it, everything happening like snap, snap, snap.
So, he gets to his guest house and he's about to take a shower and doesn't know whether he's going to see Mao or not. And all of a sudden, Kissinger
barges in and says, you've got to get ready, we're going. So, they get to Mao's study, just 10 minutes away by drive. And Mao's doctors had had to
stuff Mao into a new suit. They had to comb his hair down properly. They had to give him a shave. They had to get him into shape because he's been
incredibly ill. He'd almost died a month before from pneumonia. So, they hid the respiratory equipment in the potted plants.
So, Nixon saw Mao, for sure, and they had, you know, 60 minutes or so together. And Mao humored him a great deal. But it was kind of touch and go
about whether they would really get together because of Moa's illness.
AMANPOUR: Wow. I love the potted plant aspect of that. That -- I mean, that's serious. I had never really read enough to know about that. It's
amazing. Everything is so vile and vicious right now, even and including the idea between the U.S. and China of Taiwan. And I wonder, because it
strikes me, as Putin yammers on about, you know, Russia's historic claim to Ukraine, which we know is his own myth making, the Chinese have given the
United States no uncertain terms that Taiwan is theirs, it's part of China, and they will defend it and incorporate it by all means.
PERLEZ: I think Kissinger just sort of tidily swept it under the table, under the table cloth, under -- you know, just sort of swatted it away, in
a way that sort of satisfied (INAUDIBLE). And that's what happened at the end of weeklong visit, they had a joint communique. And it was just kind of
a giant fudge. I mean, there's a reason that sometimes people back them called the State Department the fudge factory because the State Department
guys came in at the last minute and they were furious at the draft communique, which they felt had given away way too much on Taiwan.
And they came up with some different language that basically left Taiwan's future ambiguous for the future and left it for China and the United States
to sort out later. Although, the United States, at the end of the Nixon visit, did recognize that Taiwan, that there was one China. But exactly how
it was going to be one China was left for future negotiations.
AMANPOUR: And, Jane, you know, you have been, among many things, "The New York Times" China correspondent, "The New York Times" State Department
correspondent. When you see the state of affairs right now between United States and China and between the United States and Russia and between China
and Russia, it's as if Nixon's worst nightmares were coming true, that China and Russia seem to be ganging up in what some are now calling an axis
of autocracy against the United States and Biden's, you know, much-wanted, you know, pledge to stand up and defend democracy.
How do you think this is going to play out? And where was the worst moment of rupture?
PERLEZ: I think that Nixon really -- I'm not sure that he saw that China and Russia would be together 50 years from now. He did see that China and
the United States would be in conflict, that China would get much, much, much, much stronger. And that he said to his biographer, Richard Reeves,
who I think we both knew, that there would be conflict between the United States and China. He didn't know whether it would be economic or military
or both. But he told Dick Reeves, it was up to his successors to try and delay that conflict for as long as possible, to try and fix it so that the
conflict didn't happen for as long as at all possible.
Because, he said, the Far East, as he called it, would win. And that's a very, very chilling note from Nixon. He said this some years after he
visited China. He was, by the way, quite an admirer I think of the Chinese will to work, of the Chinese capacity, of the size of China. I think that's
the reason he went in the first place.
AMANPOUR: It's really fascinating, and it's an amazing history to recall 50 years later and at such a time right now. Jane Perlez, thank you so much
PERLEZ: Thank you, Christiane.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Our conversation earlier this week, and, of course, all eyes are on how China treats this invasion by Putin of Ukraine.
Now, the E.U. and the U.K. have both announced sanctions on Putin himself and on Russian foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov. That's the latest and
that's it for now.
Thanks for watching. Good-bye from London.