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Russian Shelling Escalates; Interview With Polish Ambassador to the United States Marek Magierowski. Aired 1-2p ET

Aired March 10, 2022 - 13:00:00   ET




Here's what's coming up.


KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The United States and Poland are united in what we have done and are prepared to do to help


AMANPOUR (voice-over): Amid U.S. warnings Russia could resort to chemical weapons, Poland, a front-line NATO state, is pushing for tougher action.

And the Polish ambassador to Washington joins us.

Then: Kyiv prepares for an attack, as Russia continues to shell civilians and hospitals. The former commander of the American army in Europe explains

the latest military moves.

Also ahead:

YEVGENIA M. ALBATS, RUSSIAN INVESTIGATION JOURNALIST: We live now in this Orwellian world, where everything is opposite. People say words and, in

fact, they mean exactly the opposite.


AMANPOUR: Fighting Russia's propaganda machine. The editor in chief of a blocked Russian new site, The New Times, talks to Michel Martin.


AMANPOUR: Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.

The White House is warning that Russia may up the ante in Ukraine. It is declassifying intelligence in a bid to deter President Vladimir Putin from

using chemical weapons, this as global outrage swells after the Russian bombing of a maternity hospital in the besieged southern city of Mariupol.

Here's President Zelenskyy asking Russia why they did it.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): A children's hospital, maternity ward? Why were they a threat to Russian

Federation? What kind of country is Russian Federation that is afraid of hospitals, afraid of maternity wards and destroys them?


AMANPOUR: Russia denies targeting civilians.

Listen to the Russian foreign minister's alternative reality.


SERGEY LAVROV, RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): At the meeting of the U.N. Security Council, our delegation presented facts about

this maternity hospital having long been seized by the Azov Battalion and other radicals. And they have driven all the pregnant women and the nurses

out of it, and set up a base for the ultra-radical Azov Battalion of Ukraine.


AMANPOUR: So the Russian propaganda machine in high gear. Lavrov was speaking in Turkey, where he had met with the Ukrainian foreign minister,

but no progress was made on any cease-fire.

Meantime, Vice President Kamala Harris is in Poland, using her president to shore up Western support for Ukraine and refugees.

I have been speaking to the Polish ambassador to the United States, Marek Magierowski. He tells me that Moscow is losing this war, but the world will

live with the Russian threat for years to come.


AMANPOUR: Ambassador Magierowski, welcome to the program.


AMANPOUR: Can I first start by asking you what you must have heard, being in Washington? The United States has declassified intelligence that

suggests the Russians may want to use chemical weapons and other nonconventional weapons in Ukraine.

Can you tell me what you know about that and what would be the point of releasing this intelligence at this time?

MAGIEROWSKI: I have to tell you this.

We have been witnessing acts of barbarism in Ukraine committed by the Russian troops and ordered by the Russian political elites, atrocities, war

crimes. By the way, a few days ago, a special institution was established in Poland, which has already started gathering evidence of war crimes

committed by the Russians in Ukraine named after Raphael Lemkin, a Polish lawyer and diplomat who coined the term genocide.

So, no wonder that this kind of news are popping up right now in international media. And I have no doubts whatsoever that, even if we

witness a chemical attack, for example, that you have just mentioned, I do believe and I'm confident that Mr. Putin and his cronies and all his

closest aides will end up in the dock in The Hague, in the International Criminal Court, because this is what he has already fully deserved.

AMANPOUR: So, since you say that, I want to ask you whether you agree.

Some have suggested that these accusations against Putin, they might not affect him at all right now, but some have suggested that these accusations

or charges should be leveled, or indictments, indeed, at all his generals and colonels, and that that might make a difference. The fear of being

indicted by an international war crimes tribunal might make a difference.


Do you agree?

MAGIEROWSKI: Well, this might make a difference, because we're all thinking about the ambience right now in the Kremlin, to what extent all

these generals and the closest aides of Mr. Putin feel right now, whether they feel comfortable being dragged actually into this war, and to what

extent they support Mr. Putin, and whether we should expect a kind of a coup in the Kremlin.

I am not entitled to comment on these rumors and expectations. But, of course, we are now in a very particular phase of this war, because I think

the Russians have not yet felt the pinch after the sanctions which have been imposed over the last week. More are to come. And many more sanctions

are being activated right now.

And I think that, if we want to retaliate for that invasion against Ukraine with punitive measures, and by crippling the Russian economy, we have to be

determined and ready to uphold these sanctions in a longer term. Maybe they should last for a decade, maybe 15 years, because I'm afraid we are going

to live with Mr. Putin for many years to come.

And I believe that the Russian society and the Russian -- not only the army, but also the Russian society, which is supporting this war so

overwhelmingly, will feel that this was a wrong decision to attack Ukraine, because it will have long-term and very nasty consequences for the Russian

economy and for the Russian society.

AMANPOUR: Look, you say that, then. Then what would your country's stance be on cutting itself off from Russian oil and gas? You have seen what the

U.S. and the U.K. have done. They're not going to be buying any more Russian oil, apparently. They have completely banded and gas imports as


The E.U. is not there yet. What is your view on that, given what you just said? Would Poland agree to that?

MAGIEROWSKI: A commendable decision of the current U.S. administration to ban oil imports from Russia.

By the way, Poland played a very -- took a very bold decision many years ago to render Poland independent of imports of Russian gas. We are now

completing the construction of the so-called Baltic Pipeline, which will deliver gas from the Norwegian continental shelf via Denmark to Poland. We

built an LNG terminal six years ago on the Polish stretch of the Baltic coast.

The long-term contract with the Gazprom company expires this year. And Polish is -- will be shortly on the safe side, unlike many other European

countries. So the issue of energy security has always been vital in terms of our strategic vision. So we have undertaken some important measures in

the past. And we expect other European countries to do likewise.

And I believe this is the step in the right direction. Unfortunately, not all E.U. countries are on the same page in terms of the nature of the

economic sanctions which should be imposed on Russia. But I do believe that many of those countries will change course. And these sanctions will be --

I mean, all the loopholes which still exist in the sanctions package will be closed.

And these sanctions should be as effective as possible in the longer term.

AMANPOUR: Ambassador, as you know, obviously, there's still hopes for diplomacy. It hasn't got anywhere yet. But there have been meetings between

Russian and Ukrainian delegations.

We saw the Russian and Ukrainian foreign ministers. Nothing came out of it. But I wonder whether you were struck by an interview that President

Zelenskyy of Ukraine gave earlier this week to an American network, in which he said and he seemed to put the issue of NATO off the table, in

other words, saying that he had cooled down to the whole idea.

He recognized that NATO wasn't coming to the rescue. And, therefore, the way he put it was cooling down to the idea or cooling off the idea that

NATO was even on the agenda for Ukraine. He talked about needing security guarantees. That seemed to be a very big statement from him at this point.

How did you read it?

MAGIEROWSKI: It is. It is, definitely. And, of course, we don't rule out a diplomatic solution to this war. But now the ball is in Russia's cold,



It's them who don't want to negotiate. It's them who don't seem to be willing to downgrade their expectations and their requests and their

demands, which are -- many of them are just outlandish, to be honest.

But, again, Poland is in favor of a diplomatic solution. But it's very hard to foresee a situation in which Russia would start making serious

concessions. My -- in my humble view, Russia has is losing this war right now, not only in the hearts and minds of Europeans and Americans, all the

societies of the so-called free world.

Russia is losing this war literally. So, I believe that many of those families who have fled Ukraine, mostly to Poland, will be able to return to

their homes shortly. And I don't know whether we will find a diplomatic solution, but maybe the military solution and defeating the Russian army in

Ukraine is the way out.

AMANPOUR: OK. Well, Ambassador, that is very bold talk, defeating the Russian army. That's exactly what NATO says it doesn't want to do, which is

exactly the conundrum you all got embroiled in yourselves, as Poland and the United States, over the issue of fighter jets.

MAGIEROWSKI: Yes, we have been very adamant.

The Polish -- the Polish government has been very adamant on this issue. We should not engage in a direct military confrontation in Russia. That's why

what I am saying is that I believe that the Ukrainian army is capable of defeating the Russian army right now.


So let's talk about the planes issue, then, the on-again/off-again idea that these Polish MiG planes would go somehow to Ukraine, and then that was

turned on its head by the U.S. They decided they didn't want to take ownership of these in order to transfer them.

What is the net result of that? Will Ukraine get any aircraft?

MAGIEROWSKI: The Polish president, as well as the Polish prime minister, were opposed to the very idea from the beginning of the hostilities in


And they were reiterating that message on multiple occasions. First of all, we could not and we cannot deplete the arsenal of our combat aircraft by

one-third without any backup and compensation. On the other hand, we have been under tremendous pressure on the part of the public opinion also here

in the United States, on the part of some of our allies, to deliver these airplanes to Ukraine.

But we were acutely aware of all the diplomatic, technological and legal issues and obstacles which we would face in such a case. So, we had to

finally come up with a logical and conscionable solution.

We decided to put those aircraft at the disposal of the U.S. government and transfer them. We are -- we announced our willingness and our readiness to

transfer these aircrafts to the NATO air base in Germany. The proposal has been rejected by our American partners, who have come to the conclusion

that it would be too escalatory and too risky.

And, actually, this is what we were saying from the beginning of the debate about Soviet-made fighter jets at our disposal. So I believe that we can

now move on, keep coordinating our joint efforts in order to help the Ukrainians defend themselves, again, without engaging in a military clash

with Russia, because this is what NATO definitely doesn't need.

But we have means at our disposal which would allow us to keep arming the Ukrainian forces in order to help them repel that unjustified, unprovoked

and brutal aggression the part of the Russian Federation.

AMANPOUR: Given where you are, Ambassador, in Poland, right on that very, very strategic border, do you believe that NATO is winning the race against

time to replenish and help Ukraine defend itself with all the military requirements as Russia closes in?


What is in the long-term perspective, of course, we have to think about long-term deterrence. And that's why we have been insisting on the

necessity to increase our defense capabilities, not only Poland, but also in the Baltics, in Romania, and all the other countries which are

geographically located on NATO's eastern flank.

And I would like to reiterate we are going to live with the Russian threat for many years to come, even after the war in Ukraine eventually ends. So,

we need more American visibility in Poland and in other Eastern European countries, more U.S. troops on the ground.


This is, I believe, one of the most important priorities now in terms of our strategic vision among all these countries that I have just mentioned.

And this is -- this should be a priority for all NATO member states.

AMANPOUR: To that end, we understand that Poland is getting at least two batteries of Patriot anti-missile defense. Is that because you fear a

Russian missile could head towards you?

MAGIEROWSKI: To put it frankly, we have always been right about contemporary Russia and Putin's intentions since the invasion of Georgia in

2008, actually.

Our late President Lech Kaczynski, as you know, attended a rally in August 2008, in the middle of the Russian invasion of that country. He was in

Tbilisi with some other presidents of Eastern European countries. And he said at the time, today, it's Georgia, tomorrow, it will be Ukraine, and

perhaps time will come for my country, Poland.

I do hope that Putin will not be as mad as to attack one of NATO member states. He fears NATO, and he fears NATO's military strength and might. So

I believe Poland and the Baltic countries and Romania and Slovakia, we are all safe right now.

But we should brace ourselves for what might happen in the future. We don't know. He is really unpredictable. So we have to be very cautious, and very

well prepared for any political or military moves that Putin might have in mind.

AMANPOUR: So, given that, I want to ask you a slightly expanded question, because, clearly, this common threat is now uniting a lot of you Europeans

in a way that simply hadn't happened before.

You don't need me to tell you that the E.U. has recently withheld funds to your country on rule of law principles and other such issues. They

complained about your commitment to liberal democracy, so to speak, over a while. And you haven't always taken in refugees. We saw what happened in

the Belarus instance.

But you have gone almost, as they say in the West, from zero to hero. You have taken more than a million refugees. You're doing your bit and more. Is

this -- is this a new moment for Poland and the E.U.? Is this something different and more aligned that can come out of this crisis?

MAGIEROWSKI: You know, I have been following the American media for decades now, also in my previous capacity as a journalist, and I have never

expected Poland to be front and center in all American headlines in -- in newspapers and on Web sites right now.

It's a bad sign and a good sign at the same time, of course. Yes, we have already absorbed more than 1.4 million Ukrainian refugees in Poland. Many

of them -- most of them have been hosted in Polish homes, and enormous and commendable effort of thousands of ordinary citizens, volunteers, state

authorities, municipalities.

This is really extraordinary and remarkable. This is definitely a new moment for Poland. I can't tell you whether this will -- this is permanent.

But, without a shred of doubt, this outpouring of solidarity and sympathy towards our Ukrainian brothers is something that I don't know whether I did

not expect this, because I always knew that our -- that Poles are remarkably hospitable and friendly towards other nations.

As you probably know, we had even -- before the war, we had more than 1,200,000 Ukrainian migrants who lived and worked in Poland. And they have

integrated so smoothly, impeccably. We are doing now for Ukraine and for the Ukrainians what many other nations did not do for us in 1939, when we

were invaded by Germany and the Soviet Union.

This is our moral and human and Christian obligation.

AMANPOUR: Ambassador, thank you very much for joining us.

MAGIEROWSKI: Thanks a lot. Thank you.


AMANPOUR: And just to note, the French president, Emmanuel Macron, also says that Putin's conditions for a cease-fire are not acceptable to anyone,

and he too doesn't see a diplomatic solution, at least in the coming days.

That dark assessment as Kyiv sees heavy fighting, with the conflict intensifying. What could happen next?


Joining me with answers is Lieutenant General Ben Hodges, who was a brigade commander during the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, and later commander of

all U.S. Army forces in Europe.

General, welcome to the program.

Can we start by asking, first and foremost, about the no-fly zone that President Zelenskyy and all the Ukrainian officials ask for over and again

in every public utterance? As far as you know, as far as what we can see, how much of the civilian and other assault on Ukraine is coming from

aircraft, coming from the air?


Of course, what we're all watching on television now and online, the murder of Ukrainian -- innocent Ukrainian civilians is gut-wrenching. But, of

course, this is intentional by the Russian Federation to put millions of refugees on the road, to flatten the cities, to put pressure on the

Zelenskyy government and on all of our governments to want to do something to say, for the love of God, please stop this.

Well, they're -- and they're hoping that we will crack. I don't see that happening.

But what is causing all of this? For sure, Russian aircraft are part of it. But my assessment is that the vast majority of the damage is being caused

by Russian artillery, Russian rocket fire, and missiles that are launched from ground sites as well, as from a Russian Black Sea fleet in the Black

Sea and in the Sea of Azov. So the majority of it is actually not caused by the Russian air force.

AMANPOUR: So, the other question then would be, are the Ukrainians getting enough or do they have enough defensive weapons against the missiles, the

artillery, the long-range weapons you have just described?

HODGES: Not yet.

This is where I think our main effort should be in terms of support, giving them the capability to locate these sites and then the weapons with which

they can destroy them, whether they're inside Ukraine, firing from inside Russia, or, of course, firing from Russian navy ships.

We provided counterfire radar, Q-36 counterfire radar back in the beginning, and I was impressed with how quickly Ukrainian soldiers adapted

to this piece of equipment. To be candid, it's better than I realized. And so there's no doubt that they can handle technology very quickly and adapt.

We can get more radar to them that helps identify -- provides early warning, and it also provides a point of origin. Where did that missile or

rocket come from? And then, of course, they need the weapons that can reach far enough to strike back. I think we could also provide more intelligence.

Certainly, we have the capability to identify whenever somebody is firing a weapon a distance that's going towards a city.

Obviously, anti-ship missiles are something that we can help with. And, also, I think that it's time to consider sea mines, maritime mines, in the

Black Sea and the Sea of Azov that would really disrupt Black Sea fleet operations and make the commander of the Russian Black Sea fleet very

uncomfortable in his illegal base in Sevastopol.

AMANPOUR: OK, that's really interesting.

So, let me ask you, do you -- from what you see on the maps and from your experience as a ground commander and commander of all forces Europe, is

there the time, and is NATO doing it fast enough, to get this stuff to the Ukrainians, so that it's useful, before it's too late?

So there's two questions there, that, and what do you see Russia doing on the ground right now, in terms of speed of attack?

HODGES: So, let me frame it first by saying, I believe that Ukraine is going to win in the end here.

Of course, there's no guarantee. But, based on what I have seen of Ukrainian soldiers, the Ukrainian population, they're defending their home

country. They know the terrain. As long as we continue to provide the weapons and ammunition, the things that they need, I believe that they can

stay in the fight until it -- until they have won, until the Russians have finally culminated.

Now, I don't imagine someday there's going to be a big Russian surrender ceremony, nothing like that. But what we're after is culmination of the

Russian military effort. And I actually believe that time is on our side.

The Russians have chosen a war of attrition, because their original plans were unsuccessful. And, by the way, before I go any further, clearly, there

are going to be weeks and weeks of destruction, more innocent people killed. This is going to be nasty for several more weeks.

But if we think long term, you need -- to win a war of attrition, you need three things. You need time, you need endless amounts of ammunition, and

you need manpower. And the Russians do not have enough of any of those three.


The sanctions that are going to be taking place here are taking effect over the next few weeks. And that's going to shorten the amount of time that the

Russians have. And, also, the Russian population is a part of this. And I think, at some point, I'd like to come back to that. This is going to cut

short the amount of time that the Kremlin has.

The second thing, we put resources, ammunition. We are starting to get reports that the Russians are running low on critical what we would call

preferred munitions, Iskander caliber, some of the more destructive weapons. They don't have unlimited amounts. I can tell you that we don't

have enough ammunition. These things are very expensive.

And so the Russians have been consuming ammunition at a much faster rate than they would have ever planned to do. And when they switch to the tactic

of smashing cities, this really burns out a lot of your ammunition. I think they're going to run out of ammunition, and then manpower.

AMANPOUR: So, then what are you seeing in terms of any kind of strategic movements?

We have seen that they have consolidated around the east, that they have gone from Mariupol. They want a land bridge. They want to -- that's what

Mariupol, I guess, is all about. But what about Kyiv? Do you think they're still -- that Kyiv is still an objective?

HODGES: I'm sure it is. They have got about 10,000 trucks parked north of it.

But, in my view, my professional assessment, Russia will not be able to encircle Kyiv, let alone clear it. This is a massive city. I was there just

four weeks ago. It is a very large city, very complicated, complex urban terrain (AUDIO GAP) people (AUDIO GAP) still a massive population.

The Ukrainian army actually outnumbers the Russian army. So I just don't see it as mathematically feasible that they could get in there and capture

Kyiv. For sure, if they can get close enough, they will try to fire -- destroy buildings and that sort of thing.

But, I mean, Mariupol, after two weeks is still standing, Kharkiv, after two weeks, still standing. Those two should have been the easiest for the

Russians. And after two weeks, they have not been successful. So this is why I think time is on the side of Ukraine, as long as we continue to

provide the support.

The Russian manpower shortage, I think they have a real problem. They have a real problem with having enough troops.

AMANPOUR: So, let me ask you. You say they have a manpower shortage and even less forces than the Ukrainians. I assume you're meaning those forces

that are in Ukraine right now.

Apparently, it's somewhere around 190,000, according to U.S. intelligence, but they have a massive reserve. I mean, they have got something like a

900,000-person military. Can they reinforce? Can they bring more armored vehicles, rockets, missiles, all the things that they're using, in time to

make any kind of material difference?

HODGES: Well, for sure, they have thousands more troops across their country. But they have pulled most of their combat units already. About 50

percent of their combat units are already engaged.

That is huge, especially...


AMANPOUR: That is huge.

HODGES: That is right. That's right.

And there's a big difference between combat power and saying we have 900,000 troops. What we're also seeing on display is the result of decades

of corruption and false reporting inside the Russian defense industry and inside the Ministry of Defense.

I bet that there are people in the Kremlin who thought, hey, we spent all this money modernizing since 2007. We must be really good.

I think that, based on what I have seen, they did not get what they thought they paid for. They don't train, they have not trained at the level that

U.S. forces and NATO forces have been trained. They don't have experience in doing something like this at this scale.

All of this is on full display. And, Christiane, they don't have the secret sauce that we have, which is sergeants, sergeants down in the ranks that

enforce discipline to keep trucks -- to keep trucks apart from each other, that make sure soldiers are doing maintenance on equipment. They don't have


AMANPOUR: So, are you then surprised? The world does seem to be surprised that this highly feared military, the third largest in the world, is so

stymied. It just seems strange, including, why are they not using their aircraft more?


So, you're right. I was wrong. I thought that -- I expected them to be more effective. But, as I have tried to figure out, why have they not been more

effective, and I thought back over what we watched them do, almost everything they have done since Georgia, where they really stumbled around

and did not do very well, yet they eventually overwhelmed Georgia, and then they're in Syria.


And it was always a very small sliver of Russian forces that were actually doing the fighting. And it was the same guys on the airborne division,

Spetsnaz, and then, of course, mercenaries. This is a very thin sliver of the overall Russian force. That's a very different fight they're in now,

versus what they were doing in Syria, in Africa, and even in Crimea back in 2014.

Now, they are running into a buzz saw of determined Ukrainian defenders with really good weapons. And it's hard. So, it's hard to bring together

air, land, sea, special forces, cyber, all of these things, and I think the air force, sure they have several top-quality airframes, and I would

imagine that the pilots are generally speaking, well trained. But there's a big difference between knowing how to fly your aircraft and knowing how to

fight your aircraft, as part of an operation where you're suppressing air defense, hitting targets based on intelligence. And what's happened is that

Ukrainian air defense is much better than, I think, many of us expected, and the Russians are worried. They're losing a lot of aircraft to Ukraine.

AMANPOUR: Wow. So, the next step, you know, you said that this is very different from what they have been used to in other combat zones, where

they haven't really had to face this kind of opposition at all, and certainly, not the entire population hating them and turning against them,

and being willing to take up any kind of arms.

So, what about the U.S. warnings and declassified information and intelligence about the potential of using chemical or biological weapons,

and indeed, the Russians themselves, apparently, according to the British MOD have admitted to using thermobaric weapons?

HODGES: Well, look, first of all, I love what the administration has been doing of sharing intelligence. I've never seen us do it like this before,

and I think from the very beginning, this is done a lot to help build the cohesion of the alliance of the United States and U.K. are sharing so much

intelligence. And, at least, for the first couple of weeks, we had the initiative in the information space.

It seemed like in the last couple of days, we might have faltered a little bit, but now, let's get it going again, I think it's important so that

nobody is confused or fooled when somebody like Lavrov or another Russian official comes out or Ms. Shaparova (ph) says, we have evidence that the

Ukrainians and Americans have biological weapons, nobody believes that. It's a total false flag. And I think the way we have approached this from

an information standpoint is good.

However, there's no doubt that the Russians have the capability to employ chemical munition. They certainly, along with the Assad regime, employed

them in Syria. So, we cannot discount that. And I would imagine that the joint staff and the White House are working through a list of options for

how they might respond. And no doubt, they will be communicating that to the Kremlin, warning them not to do that.

AMANPOUR: And finally, President Macron has said, you know, Putin's condition aren't acceptable to anyone, those were his words, doesn't see

any diplomatic or negotiated solution now or in the near future. But he did say that, what is happening will lead to completely redefining the

architecture of Europe. So, as former commander of forces in Europe, what will that look like?

HODGES: Well, I think we've all been reminded that if you want to prevent war, you have to prepare for war. You have to be prepared. You have to

demonstrate. That's what deterrence is all about. That's why we didn't have a conflict during the Cold War despite both sides having massive amounts of


Russia's aggression started in 2008, about the time that the U.S. army had pulled most of its capability out of Europe, the German (INAUDIBLE) has

disarmed, the British army began to pull off the continent, and all of us really thought, OK, Russia's going to be our partner. And we were not

prepared and we had to re-learn this.

Let me say this, I think the ultimate solution for this is going to be a combination of unity of our alliance, all of us providing continuous

support to Ukraine, everything that they could possibly use on the scale of the Berlin Airlift. But it's also going to be an organic solution inside


On the first of April, 130,000 Russian men at the age of 19 and 20 are required to report to conscription centers to begin their life as private

in the Russian army.



HODGES: If we ought to be able to communicate to those 130,000 families, somehow, don't send your son to be cannon fodder in Putin's war in Ukraine.

Only 10 or 20,000 families said no, that would be an earthquake.

AMANPOUR: That's amazing to think about. It's really important because Putin has said to the mothers, we're not sending conscripts to ukraine, and

oops, all of a sudden, they admit that actually, there are conscripts in Ukraine. So, we'll see how that plays out.

General Hodges, thank you so much for joining us with that incredible perspective.

HODGES: Thank you.

AMANPOUR: Now, as we've talked about the propaganda war and what information people are getting, independent journalism has been all but

silenced in Russia under new censorship laws, that do make it a crime to call the war a war or to say that Russia is attacking civilian


Yevgenia Albats continues to defy the government's draconian restrictions. She's editor-in-chief of "The New Times" magazine and radio host at Echo

Moskvy, both are independent media organizations recently shut down by the Kremlin. Despite risking imprisonment, she's joining Michel Martin from

Moscow to discuss the dangers of a misinformation war.


MICHEL MARTIN, CONTRIBUTOR: Thanks, Christiane. Yevgenia Albats, thanks so much for talking to us once again.


MARTIN: And I'm very sorry about the circumstances, as delighted as I am to speak to you. I mean, you're the editor and CEO of the "The New Times."

That's a Russia based independent political site. You are also a talk show host at Echo Moskvy, an independent radio agency, the largest in Russia.

And over the past two weeks, both were shut down by the Russian government and accessible to people who have VPN.

Do you know why they were shut down? Did anyone say anything to you? Was anything said?

ALBATS: First of all, I have to say that I feel ashamed that I'm a citizen of the country that started the war of choice and of conquest, and that my

friends and people whom I don't know in Ukraine, and hundreds of them are dying right now under the Russian bombs. And I feel very, very sorry that

my country is doing that.

As for the Russian media and the Echo Moskvy broadcasting and "The Times," in particular, the problem was that a Russian minister of truth, you know,

the special agency which oversee all communications in my country, they pronounce the words war, offense, and invasion with the respective events

in Ukraine as forbidden for us to use. And, of course, at Echo Moskvy, we were using the words that we were supposed to use, that's exactly what's

happening in Ukraine. There is a war.

However, now, in this (INAUDIBLE) where everything is opposite, you know, people say words and, in fact, they mean exactly the opposite. It's not,

they say war and they mean peace or they say peace and they mean war. They say truth and that means lies. So, that's why we got shut down. It's not

just us. 16 different independent publications and websites were closed. More than 160 reporters and advocates immigrated. Basically, nothing but

blogs on YouTube. That's it.

MARTIN: When they shut you down, did they say anything? What happened?

ALBATS: They just sent us a letter then, you know, they send the letters saying that no war happens, and you know, there is no invasion, no war, no

assaults, and it's just the special operation by the Russian troops. And what Russian troops are doing in Ukraine, of course, they're liberating

Ukrainians from nationalists and Nazis.

And, of course, you know, they are preventing -- you know, it's a preventative operation because basically, NATO is standing by the Russian

borders and about to start an offense on Russia. Listen, you know, it's all kind of lies.

MARTIN: So, here in the United States, where I am now, we see footage from our correspondents every day. We see that, for example, a maternity

hospital was bombed yesterday. We've seen civilian cars fired on. So, in Russia, what would people see? People wouldn't see any of that? They have

not seen any of that?

ALBATS: There is a state propaganda machine. These are all networks which cover all Russian 11 time zones. Of course, they don't show any of that.

War doesn't exist on the Russian propaganda channel. However, there is also internet and those people who have VPN, this is -- it is virtual private

network, all of us would have it, that would allow us to still read Facebook, to read Twitter, and to get on the websites, and see the footage.

There's also Telegram channels where you can get all kind of footage from Ukraine.


Those people who want to know, who are looking for the information, they can get the information from the web. However, a large majority of

Russians, you know, they are accustomed to believe in the propaganda machine. I would suspect that about half of those polled, they watch

Russian propaganda TV channels. And therefore, they would support the war.

MARTIN: How are people understanding what is happening, the fact that the value of a ruble has fallen so dramatically, the fact that a number of

western -- you know, highly visible western companies are shutting down their operations, how is this being explained to the public?

ALBATS: Russian currency lost about 30 percent. People's savings in hot currency, they are frozen on their accounts. They can get only, you know,

$10,000 for a period of six months. A lot of companies, you know, yesterday, it was announced that McDonald's, which was the manifestation of

the new Soviet Union of terrorist (ph), and McDonald's is about to close all their 850 stores, and 62,000 people will be out of jobs.

It's true for -- but it's the same, there is a problem for professionals. For instance, you know, all, you know, five big audit companies, Aniston

Young (ph), PricewaterhouseCooper and others, they have also announced that they are going to shut down in the country, and it means only -- there are

3,600 people work. So, people will be out of jobs. Starbucks, both -- everything, you know. I believe something like about 265 different

companies, western companies are walking away from Russia, and that means that thousands and thousands of people will be off the jobs.

And it -- but also, it suggests that, you know, because of the ruble degradation, poor people are going to be even poorer. You know, we know the

conflation and it's already over 20 percent, inflation has effects on poor. So, people will be suffering. It's just, you know -- we are just two weeks

into the war. So, it's too early for many to feel the burden of this war.

MARTIN: What do you think Putin's end game is?

ALBATS: Boy, you know, I'm sorry, you know, I cannot read the crystal ball. I think that we are dealing with a sick man, with a sick mind, and I

think that he has his own view of the world, and this world, he would like to -- you know, he would like to leave a legacy of guy who recreated, at

least, in small part the Soviet Union.

So, I guess the whole idea is to occupy Ukraine, to conquer Ukraine, to install their puppet government and to make, you know, Ukraine, Belarusian,

Russia, you know, these Pan-Slavic state. Whether he will go further north, it's very hard to say.

However, having said that, just keep in mind that according to the sources, Russian government, Kremlin was planning to conquer Kyiv, the Capital of

Ukraine, in a matter of three days. We're already 14 days into the war, and we see that Russian troops are having problems getting supplies, getting,

you know, gasoline, getting food. And, you know, there are not enough resources that are -- and Putin doesn't want to announce mobilization.

I wouldn't be surprised if that -- if, you know, 10 days from now, Putin announced that Russian army fulfilled its goals and the war is over. And so

-- and Russia will withdraw. It could go like that. But, you know, once again, I'm not good enough to read the crystal ball. It may go much worse,

and I don't want even to predict the big war in Europe as some analysts say. So, it can go different ways. And we have yet to know now.


MARTIN: You've just described a situation that's become very difficult for Russians. Is there any sense that the frustration that Russians feel will

be directed towards the regime and that they will, in some way, seek their own regime change if that's even possible?

ALBATS: Unfortunately, in this type of regimes and dictatorships, regimes rarely fail because of the popularization (ph). It's dispute of the elites

that may lead to the change of the regime. So, I think that a lot of rich people in this country, people who were -- Putin's constitutes, Putin's

supporters, people who became billionaires and millionaires over the last 20 years of Putin's rule, these people are extremely upset and extremely

frustrated because they lost millions of dollars.

(INAUDIBLE) and the Soviet Union where there was some certified ideology, which was called communism or you can call it religion, but it doesn't

matter, there was an ideology, there is no ideology in the contemporary Russia. They are opportunists (ph). They believe in the power of dollars.

That's their biggest belief.

And so, now, you know, they are losing their offshore accounts, they are losing their savings. Russian stock market went down the hill and Russian

blue chips just became a piece of paper. They got accustomed to live in Russia and make money in Russia, however they got accustomed to spend this

money outside Russia.

So, for these people, it is a disaster. They are not ready to live in the golden cage as Soviets. Didn't -- so, I'm absolutely aware that these

people, sooner or later, will start to push back and in order to return back the kind of life that they got accustomed during the last 30 years of

post-Soviet Russia.

MARTIN: Yevgenia, I'm working my way up to asking how are you doing? How are you doing?

ALBATS: I'm doing --

MARTIN: This is not just your career, this is something you've dedicated your life to, even to the point -- I must say, for people who may have

heard our earlier conversation on this program, even to the point of your sending your daughter out of the country so that you could -- did not have

to worry about her safety while you were pursuing this work. You've had opportunities to work in the United States. You've chosen to go back to

your country in order to serve the public there, and I just cannot imagine what this is like for you right now.

ALBATS: You know, the worse -- thank you very much, I really appreciate your concern. I am -- you know, I should tell you that it is my choice and

I love it here, to be honest with you. I love, you know, writing in Russian. I love Russian language around me. You know, it's very interesting

to observe the development of the regime in Russia. I wrote about that, you know, so many times in my life. And now, I see, you know, where I was right

in my predictions and where I was dead wrong.

So, it's very interesting. It's very -- it's not -- you know, I don't feel, of course, you know, happy. As I said, I feel very, very ashamed. It just

boggles my mind that Russian troops are killing our Ukrainians. You know, I travel to Ukraine so many times. My father, Mark Albats, was part

(INAUDIBLE) when Nazi occupied Ukraine back during the World War II in September of 1941. You know, he fought along -- you know, he was in the

same trenches with Ukrainians and they fought the same enemy.

And now, all of a sudden, I got to know that my -- I'm a taxpayer of this country, and I pay taxes, you know, a lot of taxes in this country, and I

understand that now, my taxes are going to the army, which conducts a war of choice. And that makes me absolutely sick. Soviet Union lost 27 million

people during the World War II. And I just couldn't believe that we are doing this, you know.

There is all the famous coins, do Russians want the war? And all -- the answer was always, no, of course no. We cannot be wanting the war because

Russia is just Russian roads, Russian streets, all but dreams.


So, this is awful, you know, you feel awful because you are unable to stop this. What can I do? I cannot stop this. You know, and the majority of my

fellow colleagues, they immigrated. And so, I'm trying to do stories so not to get jailed because Russian government passed new repressive laws that

make anyone who write what they consider fake news, the punishment is 15 years in jail.

MARTIN: Do you think you might get arrested? Do anticipate that you --

ALBATS: I don't want to be arrested. I don't want even to guess about this. But, you know, if it's going to happen, then it will happen. You

know, I'm prepared, of course, for that. You know, I have a bag ready. It's standing by the door. But, you know, I mean, I don't want to end up in

jail. Absolutely not. I'm not suicidal. I am not martyr. And, you know, I just -- it just happens. It's unfortunate development (INAUDIBLE).

AMANPOUR: Yevgenia, can you explain just how close Russia and Ukraine are, or how close Russians and Ukrainians are? Aren't some of your grandparents


ALBATS: My grandparents lived in the staple (ph) in Ukraine. My grandparents were Jewish. But three Slavic nations, Russians, Ukrainians

and Belarusians, they -- the absolute majority -- the majority of them are Russian orthodox, they speak the same language. They culturally are very

close. They are logistically very close.

There is a city, Kharkiv, just 35 kilometers from the border with Russia, it's down totally -- it's downtown, totally destroyed. However, 95 percent

of those who live in Kharkiv, they do speak Russian. So, that's why it sounds so implausible that Russian troops are fighting in Ukraine.

Once again, we are a country which are culturally, religiously and linguistically, extremely close. However, Ukraine -- you know, Ukraine has

been trying very hard to gain its statehood, to gain its status as a sovereign nation. For centuries, Ukrainians were fighting for that. And

now, you know, when they finally became a nation and we can see they fight as the nation, as people who are ready to defend their land, and to defend

their statehood, you know, they -- my troops, Russian troops came and they're trying to destroy whatever Ukrainians managed to build over the

period of 30 years of their independence that they gained after Soviet Union collapsed.

MARTIN: So, before we let you go, what -- is there anything that would make a difference now?

ALBATS: There are quite a few things, but let me tell you that, I am a citizen of the Russian Federation. I cannot wish the defeat my own country.

I don't want my fellow citizens to suffer more than they already do, even though we are responsible for what's happening in Ukraine.

Still, you know, I think that are different minds in your part of the world who know what to do. Yes, there should be much more to be done. And there

is, you know, all kind of steps that can be taken in Ukraine, but once again, I don't want to devise on that, because it means killing of my

fellow citizens, those troops in Ukraine. And once again, I should say that I feel ashamed and I am so sorry that Ukrainians are suffering from the

deeds of those who do what they do at my expense, at the expense of the taxpayer.

MARTIN: Yevgenia Albats, thank you so much for speaking with us, and thank you for your important work.

ALBATS: Thank you.


AMANPOUR: What a tragedy for everybody and what a gutsy journalist is Yevgenia Albats.

And finally, tonight, a concert for peace in that city surrounded by the sounds of war. Kyiv Symphony Orchestra has gathered in Maidan Square in a

display of musical solidarity.





AMANPOUR: Only 20 of the symphony's 70 members are still in the capital, but those remaining performed the Ukrainian and the E.U. anthems in front

of a supportive crowd. The concert called Free Sky was broadcast across the country on Ukrainian television.

And that is it for now. Thank you for watching and we're going to leave you with more from that Kyiv Symphony Orchestra. Bye-bye from London.