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Interview With French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire; Interview With Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs Dmytro Kuleba. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired March 01, 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.
VOLODYMYR ZELENSKY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): I am happy that we have unified today, all of you, all of the countries of the
European Union, but I did not know that this is the price we have to pay.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): President Zelensky pleads with the E.U. for more help, as a 40-mile Russian armored convoy heads towards him in Kyiv. The
Ukrainian foreign minister joins us.
BRUNO LE MAIRE, FRENCH FINANCE MINISTER: We want to inflict severe damages to the Russian economy and to the Russian financial system.
AMANPOUR: My interview with the French finance minister, Bruno Le Maire, on unprecedented sanctions designed to stop Putin's war machine.
And Putin puts Russian journalists in a straitjacket. The editor in chief of TV Rain joins us, Russia's last independent news channel.
Also ahead: Congress gets a chilling timeline of Putin's next move on Ukraine. Analysis with former U.S. Secretary of Defense William Cohen.
AMANPOUR: Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in Paris, where the French finance minister is vowing, the unprecedented
Western sanctions will bankrupt the Russian economy, unless Putin stops his war in Ukraine. And I will have that interview in a few minutes.
But, first, the latest on the ground in Ukraine. The Kyiv television tower has been attacked by military strikes, killing five people, as Russia warns
of further escalation. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky tells correspondent Matthew Chance what he wants to see from talks with Russia.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ZELENSKY: Everybody has to stop, stop fighting, and to go to that point from where it was beginning.
Yes, it began five, six -- today, six -- six days ago.
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes.
ZELENSKY: I think there are principal things. You can do it.
And that is very important moment. If you will do these, and if those site is ready, it means that they are ready for the peace.
If they don't ready, it means that you're just -- just -- how...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wasting your time.
ZELENSKY: Wasting time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHANCE: And do you think you're wasting your time? Or do you think they're ready?
ZELENSKY: We will see.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: After days of setbacks, Russian forces are now aggressively bombing cities full of civilians.
A strike on a local administrative building in Kharkiv killed 10 people today, and President Zelensky told the E.U. that at least 16 children have
been killed in these bombings. More than half-a-million Ukrainians have fled the country. Most of them are going to Poland.
But the United States warns that Putin's worst may yet be to come, as a 40- mile-long Russian military convoy is moving towards the capital city, Kyiv.
Now, we have reached the country's Foreign Minister, Dmytro Kuleba, inside Ukraine. And he's joining me.
Welcome to the program, Foreign Minister. You must be under such huge pressure. And we are grateful for you talking to us.
What is the actual current military situation around you right now? What is the advance that you can tell us about of this Russian column?
DMYTRO KULEBA, UKRAINIAN MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS: Well, Russia recently changed its tactics.
It failed to conquer us, our cities from the ground. We destroyed many of their tanks, armored vehicles heading to the big cities like Kharkiv and
Kyiv. So now they launched indiscriminate shelling of our cities to break us down, to destroy the will to fight, to demonstrate that they are
stronger than us.
And this is the current state of affairs. Shellings continue. Bombings continue. But on-the-ground fighting allows us to sustain the pressure at
high cost, but we are not letting them through.
AMANPOUR: Do they control any of your major cities? I mean, they bombed Kharkiv, as we said today. There are civilian casualties. And the great
fear is that there will be more civilian casualties.
Do they have any of your cities in their hands?
KULEBA: No, not a single major city of Ukraine has fallen under control of Russia.
The residents, civilians, the residents of these cities, they provide -- they fight shoulder to shoulder with the armed forces of Ukraine.
Territorial defense units do their best and sacrifice their lives to burn down tanks, to destroy Russian columns, not -- in order not to allow them
And it's a big failure for Russia, because Putin's plan was to conquer at least one of the big cities in the very first day of war. It was supposed
to be Kharkiv or Kyiv, but both stand as strongholds.
AMANPOUR: Foreign Minister, the TV tower in Kyiv was struck and around it.
And the Russians had put out a warning that they were going to do that, and also some state, I think, information segments or sector there, and they
have done it. And there is worry that they will escalate precisely because of the setbacks that your forces and your civilians have inflicted.
How concerned are you about that? Do you have what it takes to keep holding them off?
KULEBA: This is our -- these are our people. These are our cities. We are fighting on our soil against an aggressor who came to destroy and kill us.
So, whatever it takes, we have no other choice but to continue fighting until we prevail. And, by the way, the TV station, the TV tower is located
right near the Babi Yar, the place where the Nazis massacred thousands of Jews, Ukrainians and other nationalities during the occupation of Kyiv.
And now Russia is bombing exactly the same place and kills Ukrainians. What a striking parallel.
AMANPOUR: Indeed, Foreign Minister, indeed. And the whole world is watching you, and so moved really by the heroic courage that you and your
forces and your president is showing.
Your president has spoken to some journalists, including Matthew Chance, inside wherever he is right now, saying that he doesn't really have a huge
amount of hope for these talks with the Russians. And I think most people don't have much hope.
Do you have any hope? And do you know what you think they want? Are they actually coming for you all to try to have regime change?
KULEBA: Definitely, that's the goal of President Putin, to change the regime, to install someone who would be loyal to him and who would return
Ukraine back into the Russian sphere of influence.
The problem that he faces is that the entire -- the people of Ukraine are fighting against him. And politicians in Ukraine, they set aside their
differences, their domestic conflicts, and they are all united as ever in repelling the Russian aggression.
What is happening in Ukraine now is a true people's war, and I'm proud of my compatriots. We are fighting on different fronts. As a diplomat, I
always have hope in diplomacy and negotiations. But I want my country to approach any negotiations in the strongest position possible.
And this is why we have been fighting fiercely on diplomatic front to roll out sanctions against Russia, to inflict as much damage on them as
possible. After destroying our cities, after massive shelling of civil infrastructures, I do -- infrastructure, killing children, innocent
civilians, I do believe that the world has to recognize that Putin made a very -- a very ugly achievement.
Russian means barbarian now, and we should stop him.
AMANPOUR: Well, the French foreign minister -- or, rather, the finance minister and many of the allies are saying that these sanctions are going
to cripple and bankrupt the Russian economy.
But, still, Putin, according to the conversation between President Macron and Putin yesterday, shows no sign of bending and simply wants the West to
accept the playbook that he wants them to accept for Europe.
I want to know whether you got any hope or any support or solidarity from the Chinese foreign minister, who you spoke to today. What did he say about
KULEBA: He assured me that China is not interested in this war and is ready to seek peaceful solution of this conflict through diplomacy. We had
a very long conversation with my Chinese counterpart. So, we will see how it goes after that.
But the problem is that many, many countries, they suffer. They have nationals living, studying in Ukraine. They suffer because of the Russian
aggression. And, unfortunately, they also get killed by Russian shells and bullets.
So I appealed to the Chinese foreign minister and also to the Indian foreign minister to take their -- to take advantage of their leverage on
Putin, of their relations with Russia, and urge Putin to stop this war immediately.
AMANPOUR: And did you get a sense that the Chinese would? Because most of the analysis around the world is the China maybe is not overtly supporting
Putin, but it is hedging its bets, let's say.
KULEBA: Well, Chinese foreign policy is very nuanced.
And I can recall two elements which indicate that the constructive involvement of China is possible. First, China abstained during the vote on
the United Nations Security Council resolution Ukraine. And, therefore, Russia was the only country that used veto on this resolution. Russia was
And, second, when President Putin announced that he had ordered bringing his nuclear army on (AUDIO GAP) calling for a reasonable -- reasonable
behavior when it comes for the use of nuclear weapons.
So, of course, we understand that President Putin is just raising stakes by all means, trying to put pressure on us. And I, as diplomats, I -- my job
is twofold, on the one hand, to mobilize as much pressure on Russia as possible, and, on the other hand, to use every possibility in the countries
who enjoy special relations or good relations with Russia, so that they also try to convince President Putin to stop this war, because this war is
against the interests of everyone in this world, except him.
No one is interested in living in a world where rules do not work, where anyone can attack anyone.
AMANPOUR: Foreign Minister, your Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, addressed the U.N. Special Human Rights Council today, like many world
leaders did, and, of course, put the blame squarely back on your government.
And this is a little bit of -- as you know, they're building their case as to why they say you are violating the human rights of the Russian
separatists. Let's just play you what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SERGEY LAVROV, RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): The Ukrainian regime has pursued a course of aggressive de-Russification and
forced assimilation throughout these years.
People who consider themselves Russians and would like to preserve their identity, language and culture are told they are strangers in Ukraine.
Zelensky called them specimens and advised them to move away to Russia.
He initiated the adoption of a law on indigenous peoples, amongst which -- amongst whom there is no place for the Russians who have been living on
these lands for centuries.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, you know what he's doing, right? I mean, he's laying the groundwork for their rationale for this. What is your response to that?
KULEBA: Sergey Lavrov is Joachim Ribbentrop of his time. He serves his boss. His hands are covered with blood of Ukrainian children. And he will
bear responsibility as an accomplice in the crime of aggression and war crimes committed by Putin in Ukraine.
As someone who believes in international law and graduated from international law faculty, I have absolutely no doubt about that.
AMANPOUR: Former Minister Kuleba, again, just to ask you about the steadfastness of yourself, and, of course, your president and your whole
government, and, of course, your people, President Zelensky spoke again today with President Biden. Apparently, it was a quite long call.
And Biden has offered, apparently, several times to airlift him and I guess any of you out to safety. And, again, in the inimitable words of your
president, he said: Actually, I don't need a ride. I need ammunition.
What are you still asking the United States and NATO for at this particular time?
KULEBA: Air force and anti-missile defense and weapons.
The problem is that Russia dominates in the sky. Our pilots are fighting fiercely and courageously against them, but we also have losses. So, the
Russians use their fighting jets and bombers to attack our cities. And we need to counter this threat.
So these are the two most urgent requests that we launched with our partners and friends.
AMANPOUR: Can I just ask you a very quick last question?
You do have some air assets. We have seen them. They don't -- the Russians do not dominate the skies, apparently, according to most military analysts
and observers and the intelligence. Are you attacking from the sky this 40- mile-long convoy?
KULEBA: Well, I cannot speak specifically about this convoy.
But, yes, we are using our air forces to destroy columns heading to our cities. Yesterday, President Zelensky decorated 12 Ukrainian officers, and
eight of them are Ukrainian pilots, and at least half of them had been killed already. So, yes, we are fighting in the air.
But, physically, Russia has more planes to deploy to Ukraine than we have. So that's why we put such an emphasis on air defense and air force, and
also missile defense, because missiles are extremely, extremely dangerous. They hit civilian neighborhoods. They hit indiscriminately. They kill a lot
of people. They destroy our cities.
And we need better protection from the sky.
AMANPOUR: Foreign Minister Kuleba, thank you so much for joining us.
Now, here, in France, as I said, President Macron is continuing his efforts for a diplomatic resolution. But it looks unlikely at this time. So the
E.U. and the United States are aggressively going after Putin's economy.
Today, the ruble is worth less than a single cent. And the stock market in Russia has closed.
I visited the French finance minister, Bruno Le Maire, at the Treasury Department here in Paris to hear about this economic retaliation for this
AMANPOUR: Minister, welcome back to the program.
This is an extraordinary moment. As we speak, massive columns of Russian armor and artillery are bearing down on the capital, Kyiv. Your government
is very concerned that many, many civilians will be killed.
Just tell me what your major concerns are right now about this offensive.
LE MAIRE: Our major concern is, of course, for the Ukraine population, for the Ukraine people.
I think that we are all upset, but also very much concerned and worried by the future of the Ukraine population. And President Macron and all the
European leaders want to say to the European -- to the Ukraine people, we stand by you, we are supporting you, and we are supporting your nation.
AMANPOUR: Your president spoke to President Putin last night as the talks were going on the Belarus border.
He demanded an immediate cease-fire and for Russia not to target civilian infrastructure. But we also understand that Putin remained firm on his
original demands, recognize the annexation of Crimea, recognize a completely new Putin-led European security format.
Is that your understanding?
LE MAIRE: I think that the key point is to keep discussing with Vladimir Putin.
And that's exactly what President Macron is doing. It's very important to continue having discussions with Vladimir Putin and to pave the way for a
diplomatic solution, because, at the end of this conflict, the only solution will be a diplomatic one.
And that's why President Macron is so much engaged in those discussions with all the European leaders, with the president of the United States,
and, of course, with President Putin. But for the time being, the starting point is an immediate cease-fire. This is the starting point for any
negotiation and for any solution to that conflict.
AMANPOUR: So, you say a diplomatic solution.
In the meantime, we have witnessed unprecedented European and U.S. solidarity in terms of support for Ukraine and also, obviously, the
economic sanctions. What is your aim with these economic sanctions?
LE MAIRE: The aim of the economic sanctions is quite clear. We want to inflict severe damages to the Russian economy and to the Russian financial
That's why we have decided, first of all, a total freeze of all the assets of the Russian Central Bank. This means not far from 1,000 billion dollars
that will be freezed by the decision taken by both the European countries and the United States. And the United States and the European countries
stand together vis-a-vis Vladimir Putin and vis-a-vis the aggressive behavior Vladimir Putin.
The second decision that we have taken is also to freeze the assets of all the oligarchs. And I think that it will be also very efficient against the
power of Vladimir Putin. And the third set of decisions that we have taken is on some of parts of the Russian economy, on some strategic assets, on
some technological devices.
On all those points, we stand very firm, and we stand united. And the goal, once again, is to inflict severe damages to the Russian economy.
AMANPOUR: You're the finance minister, severe damages, you actually said to collapse the Russian economy, and to enact a war against Russia's
economy and its financial system.
LE MAIRE: We just want to say stop to Vladimir Putin. We don't want to use weapons. We don't want to have any kind of military intervention.
But we have the economic and the financial power. And we are totally determined to use all the economic and financial powers that we have in our
hands. And when you are looking at the current situation, sanctions prove to be effective. Sanctions are effective. Let's have a look at the
situation of the ruble.
There has been a devaluation of the ruble by 30 percent. Let's have a look at the Russian markets. There has been a decrease on the Russian market by
30 percent. Let's have a look at the risk of having bank runs in Russia. We are already inflicting severe damages to the Russian economy, severe
damages to the Russian financial system.
And we will stick to the climb, which is a very strong one, for the view of making understand our determination to say stop to Vladimir Putin.
AMANPOUR: One thing that President Zelensky wants, as well as lots of help, obviously, is to be immediately accepted into the E.U. We have seen
at least eight and there probably will be more European presidents and heads of state and government saying that this process should be started
He's addressing the E.U. today from his brave resistance in Kyiv. Is that a good thing for that to happen right now?
LE MAIRE: I think that, right now, the key point is the sovereignty of Ukraine, that the future of Ukraine isn't a question, and it will be up to
the leaders to decide what they want to offer to Ukraine.
But the starting point, and the immediate question is to protect the sovereignty of the Ukraine nation. And that's exactly what we are doing.
Then will come the future of Ukraine and the relationship with the European countries.
But I think that this is questions that will come in the future. The question that comes first, clearly, is the cease-fire, the protection of
the Ukraine people, and the protection of the Ukraine president.
AMANPOUR: This seems, in fact, quite contrary to a cease-fire. Putin has seen his setbacks in the first five, six days. And he's increasing his
power, and he has more power than Ukraine, no matter how much help you give them in the immediate present.
He has also threatened -- I mean, he has -- he's conducted a global nuclear blackmail threat by putting his deterrence forces on alert. And your
president has appealed to the French military to protect France.
It's scary. Are you scared?
LE MAIRE: I think that many of the French people and many European people are scared by what is happening when you are discussing with your children,
with your family, with your friends, if we were in France. And I think it's the same in all European countries.
People are scared by what is currently happening in Ukraine. They're not worried. They're scared. And that's why I think that we must show our total
determination to face the threat by imposing these sanctions and by inflicting these damages on the Russian economy, because that's the current
weapons that we have in our hands.
And I really think that the Russian power has been surprised by the total determination of the European countries, by the unity of the 27 members of
the European construction, and by the close coordination between European countries and the United States.
I have been talking very longly with the secretary of the Treasury, Janet Yellen, yesterday, just to coordinate our response, to think about the next
steps and to have a look at the better and the quicker implementation of the sanctions that we have all together decided.
And I really think that this is the best response to face the current crisis.
AMANPOUR: So you just spoke about the endgame would have to be a diplomatic solution. But Putin has more firepower. He's shown that he's
willing to change European borders in 2022 with blood and force.
And when he's finished, there will be a new border in Europe. You will be forced to conduct diplomatic negotiations with him, creating facts on the
ground, having created facts on the ground. How do you reverse that?
LE MAIRE: I agree, but we are also creating facts on the ground in Russia, thanks, once again, to the European and to the American sanctions.
We are creating facts. We are creating the total disorder in the Russian financial system. We are creating difficulties for the Russian companies
that will have very important difficulty to borrow money. When you have an interest rate that comes from 10 percent to 20, 22 percent, it becomes more
and more difficult to borrow money, to invest, and to have a growth in your economy.
So I really think that we have all demeans to say, stop, Vladimir Putin, to change the course of the situation. But, of course, we must also recognize
that the military option is not the best way of putting that conflict to an end.
The best way to put that conflict to an end is to stand very firm on our principles and on our economic and financial sanctions.
AMANPOUR: He has boasted to his people that, for years, he's been sanctions-proofing his economy, and apparently had built some kind of war
chest that amounts to some $630 billion.
Is that neutralized by your sanctions?
LE MAIRE: I think that is partly, but at a very important level, neutralized by the sanctions that we have been -- taken on the Russian
Vladimir Putin was always speaking about his Treasury of $650 billion, thanks to the revenue of the natural gas and oil. But the fact is that we
have frozen a large part of those $650 billion. And the fact is that, when the Central -- Russian Central Bank wants to protect the ruble, they do not
have the possibility of doing it, because we decided to freeze the Russian Central Bank.
So, once again, sanctions are effective.
AMANPOUR: Because, as I say, his spokespeople and himself, they said: "For a long time, Russia has been methodically preparing for the event of
possible sanctions, including the most severe ones that we're currently facing. So there are response plans, and they are being implemented now as
This is Dmitry Peskov, who's also just been sanctioned by you all.
LE MAIRE: But the fact is that -- the fact is that there are major loopholes in the protection that Vladimir Putin wanted to give to his
Of course, we don't want to harm the Russian population.
AMANPOUR: And you have closed those loopholes?
LE MAIRE: But we have closed those loopholes.
We have been effective. And we have taken the right decisions, the strong decisions at the right time. And our bet is that Russia is not a bloc. You
have Vladimir Putin. But you also have oligarch that might be a little bit upset by what is happening in the Russian economy. You also have the
And we are not against the Russian people. We see the reactions of very courageous parts of the Russian people opposing the war against Ukraine.
And we want to put the division in Russia between Vladimir Putin, the Russian government, on the other hand, parts of the Russian population,
parts of the elite, the economic and political elite, which is aware that there is no positive outcome for Russia in that fight against Ukraine.
AMANPOUR: And you have acknowledged in your statements that the Russian people will pay the consequences. So you may not want to hurt them. But
they will be.
LE MAIRE: Yes, that's a fact. We don't want to hurt the Russian population.
But by imposing economic and financial sanctions, of course, Vladimir Putin will be directly and personally responsible for the difficulties of his own
population. The consequences of the sanctions will be, first of all, on Vladimir Putin, first of all, on the oligarchs, first of all, on the
financial and economic Russian system, but, also, there will be side effects on the Russian population.
AMANPOUR: Mr. Minister, thank you so much, indeed, for joining us.
LE MAIRE: Thank you so much.
AMANPOUR: In response, Russia's former President Medvedev has warned that economic wars often turn into real ones.
But what are the Russians watching and reading in their own media? Kremlin propaganda dominates and journalists have to parrot the party line. TV Rain
has been operating as the only independent TV news channel in Russia. After being forced off the air waves and labeled a foreign agent, it's been
And joining me now is the channel's editor-in-chief, Tikhon Dzyadko. And he's joining me from Moscow.
Tikhon Dzyadko, welcome to the program. I need to ask you the very first question --
TIKHON DZYADKO, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, TV RAIN: Hello. Thank you for having me.
AMANPOUR: -- because we're just hearing the news that the Russian prosecutor general's office is trying to get you -- trying to close you
down. What can you tell us about that? What have they told you?
DZYADKO: Well, that's correct. And I'm very pleased to announce this information to the audience of CNN that I just got information, the
information from Russian prosecutor's office that they are shutting down the website of TV Rain. Also, they are shutting down the website of Radio
Echo of Moscow. It is one of the most popular and independent radio stations in Moscow. Also, they turned off the radio.
I think it -- maybe we were expecting something like this because what we are experiencing now here, it is a military censorship. That's the only
word I could find to explain what is going on.
AMANPOUR: So, let's talk just about that military censorship because, indeed, they have said to you, the government, on to all the Russian press
that you cannot use the word invasion, you cannot use the word war.
DZYADKO: That's correct.
AMANPOUR: Tell me what rules they've set for most of the other press.
DZYADKO: Well, it's absurd. Like we have a military censorship, but we don't have a war. Because the Russian government and Vladimir Putin and
Russian state TV, they are using words special military operation, like it's not a big deal. Like it is just a small special operation. And what
they ask from media, what they tell to media to do is to use only information from Russian Defense Ministry.
Of course, we as other independent and normal media, we are using information from Russian Defense Minister, but as well we are getting
information from Ukraine Defense Ministry, from Ukrainian president, from politicians all over the world. And that's why they are so angry with us.
They don't want us to spread real information about deaths among civilians, about deaths among Russian soldiers and then about all this terrible war,
which is happening now in Ukraine. And it's a real war. It's not a special military operation, as they say.
AMANPOUR: Tikhon, tell me, what do you think most Russians understand about what's going on? Where do they get most of their information?
DZYADKO: Well, it's very hard to say because as in every authoritarian state, we don't have a true sociology here. For example, one of the poll
stations -- one of the organizations, which is conducting polls, it said yesterday that 62 percent of Russians supports the war, support this
operation. I don't trust these numbers. I don't think that the support of this war is lesser than 62 percent because people, they are using social
media. They get all these terrible footages and videos from Ukraine.
And one of the main things is that, for example, in 2014 when Crimea was annexed, it was supported by a lot of people because there was no war and a
lot of people really thought that Crimea should be Russian territory. Now, this war has no sense. Vladimir Putin is talking about denazification,
demilitarization, et cetera, et cetera, but if you are -- also, he's telling wars about protecting people of Donbas, of eastern regions of
Ukraine, but how can you protect people in eastern regions of Ukraine by bombing Kyiv or (INAUDIBLE) or some territories in the Western Ukraine. So,
it has no sense. And I think that's why not the majority of Russians support it.
AMANPOUR: And, Tikhon, obviously, this is a war of Slav against Slav. I mean, it's not like some foreign enemy that Putin can talk about. And he
talks about brotherly nation. So, there's so many Russians who have so many friends and family in Ukraine. Are they -- I mean, are they talking on
social media? Do they have access to social media? What are they saying about the rational for this?
DZYADKO: Well, that's one of the most terrible things of this war and of this conflict, which is being -- going on over last eight years. Because,
for example, when we are looking at the bombing of the City Kharkiv today, when there were two rockets that fell on the main square, Square of Freedom
in Kharkiv, Kharkiv is just 40 kilometers away from Russian border, I guess. And over the years, they were like a lot of friends, a lot of
relatives, families divided by the border. And they knew each other.
And because of this war, since 2014, these connections, they are broken. And families are broken and families in Russia are broken because, for
example, some of my young colleagues here at Dortsch, they are not agreeing with their parents because their parents, they watch state TV and they
supported this war and they support Putin and they don't want to talk with their kids, my colleagues. So, this is just terrible. I think it's a huge
crisis. The consequences of which we cannot understand now.
AMANPOUR: Tikhon, how are you putting out your program now, given this new intervention by the prosecutor general who wants to close you down, close
DZYADKO: Well, as you can see, I am in a tie with makeup because I just had my own show. And it is still going on. Well, if we are looking at the
law, we know that they only block the website, which means that our broadcasting and cable networks and on YouTube and -- is continuing. But we
understand that it is a political decision. It is a political decision to destroy independent media in Russia. It is a political decision not to let
Russian people know the truth about the war.
So, of course, we expect that it is just the beginning and that then, they will come after our social media accounts, our YouTube account, et cetera,
AMANPOUR: Tikhon, you know, we have watched with horror from abroad as so many brave and independent journalist in the Russia have been silenced,
have been disappeared, have been killed. And I wonder whether you are concerned about your own safety right now and for your colleagues?
DZYADKO: Of course, I am concerned. I am concerned about my safety. I'm concerned about safety of my wife, who is the news director here at TV
Rain. I'm concerned about safety of something like 200 people who work for Dortsch.
So, now, we have to sit and to think what to do next. On the one hand, we have our responsibility for our viewers. We have a -- now, we only on
YouTube, every day we have around 24 million views. And our audience is huge. And we have a responsibility for them. But also, we have
responsibility for our families. So, we need to think. I don't have an answer.
Now, we decided to continue working on every and each platform where we could, YouTube, Telegram, et cetera, et cetera. But, no one knows what will
happen tomorrow morning.
AMANPOUR: And meantime, as you know, RT and Sputnik, they are the Russian state organs --
AMANPOUR: -- have been heavily restricted and banned in parts of Europe and the United States. And here is one of his deputy editors told CNN. When
it comes to the Russian voice or just a different perspective, it's not allowed to exist in the free media space. What do you make about -- what do
you make of RT's complaints?
DZYADKO: Well, I'm a huge adversary of any restrictions. That's why, for example, I don't like American law on foreign agents because Russian
government made its own law on foreign agents, saying that United States have -- has foreign agents law. We will do the same. And that's why Dortsch
and more than 100 media outlets and journalists were designated after foreign agents as RT was designated as foreign agent in the U.S.
The same thing, I think about restrictions on RT and Sputnik. I don't think it's the best way to fight the propaganda. I think you should fight -- I
mean, you, me, everyone, we should fight the propaganda by making nice journalists. That's how we should fight propaganda because I know how my
government -- I mean, the Russian government, how it responds to the restrictions against RT and Sputnik in Europe, for example.
Now, RT and Sputnik are banned from YouTube and Europe. That this thing -- this means that soon, I think, YouTube will be blocked in Russia. And it
will be a huge problem, not for the European Union, but it will be a huge problem for Russian citizens who will lose this free space. So, I think
it's the only topic where I agree with RT because RT is a terrible propaganda, but -- and they're hypocritical, but I think that blocking of
them in YouTube is a mistake.
AMANPOUR: Can I just ask you whether you know how Russians are going to take, ordinary Russians, the economic pain that you just heard the French
finance minister talk about, you know, in these terribly unprecedented, fierce sanctions against Putin, his regime, the oligarchs, et cetera?
DZYADKO: I think it's very hard to predict. Of course, the Russian government will try to do everything to make people's life easier, not
because the Russian government thinks about people's life, but because it is afraid of their reaction. It is the first thing.
The second thing I think state propaganda will work now more and more, saying that Russia is in a very terrible situation, that all our -- all
other countries are enemies and that we have to be together and fight, et cetera, et cetera. But, pretty soon, I think, the wallets of Russian
citizens will become smaller and smaller. And maybe one day they will think that there is a person who made it possible, the person at the top of the
Russian government. But I'm not sure whether they will protest or not.
AMANPOUR: Tikhon Dzyadko, you're a very brave man. You and all your colleagues and anyone who is trying to get the truth out there.
DZYADKO: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: And one journalist to the next, we really support you. Thank you for being with us.
DZYADKO: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: And, indeed as we move on, just to note that TV Rain is the subject of a film, a documentary that's getting a huge amount of attention
right called "F This Job."
Thank you so much.
And now, let's get the U.S. perspective. Joining me is the former Republican senator and defense secretary, William Cohen.
Senator Cohen, Defense Secretary Cohen, the U.S. has had its special intelligence briefings. I'm sure you've heard a lot about it, maybe to some
of the members of Congress, and they seem to be very worried about what Putin's next moves in Ukraine will be. Tell me what you know and what you
can assess given your experience.
WILLIAM COHEN, FORMER U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY: Well, I don't have access to that briefing. But I can tell you based on past experience looking at how
President Putin has operated, I think most of them have now been briefed to the extent that our intelligence community believes that he is going to lay
siege to Kyiv. He's going to unleash holy hell, I think, in terms of hitting civilian areas, killing hundreds, if not thousands of innocent
civilians. I think that is what he has done in the past. Chechnya comes to mind.
But he -- it also comes to mind in Syria, where he was supporting Assad dropping barrel bombs on innocent people below. So, I think, when it comes
to waging war, he is not bound by any sense of priority of concern about how many or who are killed.
AMANPOUR: And so, what does the U.S. do? I mean, we've heard from NATO, we've heard from the United States, we've heard from the E.U., all the
allies. I mean, they keep saying, we cannot offer any military help because this would set off, you know, the Third World War? But you heard -- perhaps
you heard at the beginning, the foreign minister of Ukraine who we reached in his bunker there, they need help even from the air to try to damage and
slow the advance of this convoy on Kyiv.
COHEN: Well, I think that we can continue to give them the kind of weaponry looking for air defense systems, stingers, the ability to take out
tanks, the javelin and other types of equipment, but I think President Bush has acted responsibly in the sense that we got to find ways, can we bring
about a cessation of hostilities without going face to face with the Russian military, something that we have avoided over the past 70 years and
something we want to try to avoid, if at all possible.
But I think to the extent we are to provide air cover, that means we're at war with Russia, certainly aircraft to aircraft and that would then set off
a whole reaction, chain reaction and such in terms of how do we control it at that point. And the one thing we have learned from our past endeavors is
that predictions are difficult, especially about the future, and Yogi Berra comment, and that is particularly true in this case here.
We don't know what the reaction will be if we start upping the ante and taking out all of that convoy, that 40-mile convoy of military vehicles
along the way. They would be sitting ducks, as others have said. They would be easy to take out, but in taking them out, we would basically be
declaring war against Russia.
AMANPOUR: And, of course you, said President Bush, but you meant Biden. But even President Bush's officials like Condoleezza Rice has praised
President Biden for his leadership and for really gathering this coalition and doing what the United States historically does, and that is gather a
coalition to face down these kinds of threats.
But I want to put to you this soundbite, which was early on, the Monday, before all this happened from Putin who threatened the West with a veiled
threat that now we know what he means. And then, we'll talk about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): Whoever tries to interfere with us, and even more so to create threats for our country, our
people should know that Russia's response will be immediate and will lead you to such consequences that you have never experienced in your history.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: How did you read that, such consequences that you've never experienced in your history? What did you take from that?
COHEN: Well, I take it he's threatening the use of nuclear wars. He's been talking about this for some time now. Actually, training with tactical
nuclear weapons. So, he has sent this signal before that he's prepared to use nuclear weapons under certain circumstances. And I think that would be
to put the United States in position, what do we do if he uses a "small nuclear weapon" on the battlefield? How do we respond to that?
Conventionally, cyberattack, or would we then be pushed to use nuclear weapons against him?
And then, once you start talking in those terms, you're going up the nuclear chain reaction. And that's something, as I said before, is sort of
what T.S. Eliot talked about, I'll show you fear and a handful of dust. It will be radioactive dust, it will be spread all over Russia, Europe, the
United States and China as well.
Which is one reason I have suggested, Christiane, that there has to be some kind of outside intervention. Countries like China, India Israel have to
give counsel and send the signal to Russia that -- I'm hearing all the activity in the background, it's a little disorienting, but they have to
send the signal that they're prepared to take action, to cut off certain relationships with Russia. Israel is in a position to do that. So is China.
And China has to understand that if this thing does deteriorate and we're on the edge of potentially nuclear weapons and war, then we're all at risk
at that point. The planet is at risk. So, we would go from Francis Fukuyama's end of history to end of civilization. That's not an
exaggeration when you're talking about the power of the nuclear weaponry that we have, then I think we're all in danger at that point, which is why
I've asked all these other countries, even you're friendly, especially if you're with Russia, go to President Putin, ask him for a way to move
office. And there are ways that you can settle this without war. You can take into account Putin's security needs without killing thousands of
So, we're going to wage an information war, if we can, and certainly, an economic war, which we have already undertaken. And that will drive -- I
talk about communication from without, that will be rebellion from within. Because once the Russian people understand that they no longer have the
same bank accounts they had yesterday, no longer travel as easily as they have, that the Russian people will be seen somehow as being criminals on
the international scene. And so, I think once they understand that and who is the cause of that, I think President Putin has cause for concern from
what happens from within.
AMANPOUR: Yes. I mean, dictatorships, it took a long time and outside intervention to get rid of Saddam Hussein, but as you say, we'll see. Maybe
it's different in Russia. And with the amount of money and desire that the oligarchs and others have.
But look, you know, we just talked to the Ukrainian foreign minister who had a talk with the Chinese foreign minister, and he did try to appeal to
him to appeal to Putin, et cetera. And, you know, there was -- he hoped, some hope, some movement on that. But you just mentioned Israel and you
obviously named all the nuclear states. You mentioned India.
Israel is a nuclear state, but Israel is also a U.S. ally and did not support the United States-backed resolution in the Security Council after
all the times the U.S. has bent over backwards to support Israel, all the time at the U.N. and in all global forums. I mean, can you even understand
why Israel has not gone precisely for the reasons you have said, to read Putin the riot act? Why not? And shouldn't the United States be urging them
to do that?
COHEN: Well, I can say that I'm disappointed, deeply disappointed that they have not supported the United States in what we're seeking to do. I
also understand they find themselves in something of a conflict of interest. They've been able to take out certain Syrian targets with the
Russian turning a blind eye. So, they have been cultivating a relationship with Russia in order to protect "their security interest."
But now, it comes down to, are you with the Russians or are you with the United States and the West? And I think they do have to make a decision
here. We have been with them. We have provided financing for the Iron Dome, for the Arrow Missile System and so much other type of military equipment.
And billions of dollars economically.
So, even though I understand that they don't want to upset the Russians because they were given some leeway in Syria, time is for you to decide
whether you're going to be Russia on this or with the United States. We understand that this is a security interest to you. We're now looking at
the potential for the world to spin out of control with Putin now turning a or threatening to turn to nuclear weapons.
AMANPOUR: Exactly. Those stakes have been raised so high and the Russians, Putin has talked about denazifying. I have to say I'm really stunned like
you that this hasn't really, you know, affected Israel, where their morality is.
But I -- you know, we have seen Germany, because of this, has turned its military policy on a dime. It also had, you know, very severe post World
War II concerns because of its history. And it is now changed its military and defense policy in the face of this threat. Can I ask you, though,
because you are always very concerned about the -- you know, the relative influence of democracies versus dictatorships and autocracies, where do you
see this ending?
I mean, this is a direct assault on President Biden's pledge to bolster democracies against autocracies throughout his presidency. There could be a
new Iron Curtain, a new Cold War. Where do you see it landing in the big contextual, historical picture?
COHEN: Well, I don't see a happy ending to this unless these other powers, China in particular, India and I mentioned Israel, there are others that
could, who are doing business with Russia, saying, we're not going to do business with you anymore. We're not going to buy the S400. We're going to
cut down all of our purchases and the military field from you. They could do that and send a signal to Putin that he's lost even those he's doing
business with, not to mention the West.
But absent that, I don't see a happy ending to this because I think that Putin is not mad in the sense of being King Leer. But I think his anger has
turned to real madness in terms of, I'm determined to crush my opponents now. And that can only lead to heart break for the world, I think, because
his people -- the Russian people will suffer, the economy is going to suffer globally. We're going to see ourselves hit as well. And so, I don't
see a happy ending on this unless his friends can persuade him there's a way out of this. Some form of neutrality, but there are ways out of this
without going to a total war.
AMANPOUR: Right. Let's hope you're right. Secretary Cohen, thank you very much for joining us.
And that is it for now.
And we do want to leave you with a taste of the support Ukraine is getting around the world. A long, standing ovation for President Zelenskyy after
addressing the European parliament from his bunker today, defiant in the face of Russian aggression.
Thank you for watching. Good-bye from Paris.