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Interview With Andrew Forrest; Interview With Rep. Seth Moulton (D- MA); Interview With Russian Journalist Marina Ovsyannikova. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired March 16, 2022 - 14:00:00 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.
MARINA OVSYANNIKOVA, FORMER EDITOR, CHANNEL ONE (through translator): I wanted to show to the world that the Russians are against the war, the
majority of Russians are against the war.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): Will her courageous protest on Russian state TV crack the Kremlin propaganda machine? Marina Ovsyannikova tells me why she
risked her safety to denounce Putin's war.
VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): In the darkest time for our country, for the whole Europe, I call on you to do
AMANPOUR: President Zelenskyy's passionate address to Congress, as President Biden vows to step up U.S. military assistance.
I get reaction from Congressman and former Marine Seth Moulton.
Then, billionaire mining titan Andrew Forrest on how big energy can pressure Moscow and accelerate the global shift to renewables.
JULIA IOFFE, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, PUCK NEWS: It's Putin who cooked this crazy idea up in his head, based on profound miscalculations and
misreadings of the reality on the ground, as well as of history.
AMANPOUR: Journalist Julia Ioffe tells Walter Isaacson about the future of Russia with or without Putin.
AMANPOUR: Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
It was impossible to stay silent. That is the powerful reason for an editor for Russian state TV gives for risking everything to speak out against
Vladimir Putin's war.
Marina Ovsyannikova has already been fined about $300 for what Putin himself today denounced as Russians with a Western mind-set acting as --
quote -- "national traitors." You see here how Russia's independent newspaper reported of Ovsyannikova's protest, blurring the word war because
of Kremlin censorship rules.
Her defiance was cheered around the world as an act of bravery, puncturing a small, but important six-second hole into the relentless propaganda
besieging the Russian people.
In her first major TV interview since the protest, Marina tells me that her own mother believes all that disinformation and about how she overcame her
fears to act.
AMANPOUR: Marina Ovsyannikova, welcome to the program.
Listen, you made a protest on state television this week that reverberated around the world. I just want to know, on a human level, how do you feel?
Are you feeling scared right now?
OVSYANNIKOVA (through translator): No, I don't feel scared.
But at the moment, of course, I feel a huge burden of responsibility. And I realize that my life has changed irrevocably. I don't think I'm -- there's
some sort of sad fate in store for me for the demarche on air, but I'm hoping that I won't face criminal charges.
AMANPOUR: Marina, you were fined this week some 30,000 rubles for an unauthorized public event is what the court said.
Do you think he will get more punishment? Obviously, the idea of disrupting Kremlin propaganda with this new law could carry 15 years in jail, much
more punitive sanctions in terms of fines. Are you concerned about that? Or you think they won't do that to you?
OVSYANNIKOVA (through translator): At the moment, I'm not too worried about it, because it was an administrative offense. And I was handed a
sentence, an administrative sentence.
And there is a criminal investigation under way. It's still ongoing. And I don't know what will happen next.
AMANPOUR: Marina, can I just ask you?
You are an ordinary Russian woman who worked for state television. You have two children. What on earth made you do this? How did you decide to do it?
OVSYANNIKOVA (through translator): I decided to do it spontaneously, but the decision was brewing for quite a long time.
Lately, I have been feeling a cognitive dissonance more and more between my beliefs and what we say on air. It was a growing sense of dissatisfaction
that kept increasing every year. And the war was the point of no return, when it was simply impossible to stay silent, and I realized that I would
either need to do something, or we will reach a point of no return, and it will be more and more difficult to do anything.
AMANPOUR: Marina, tell me physically how you were able to do it.
I mean, could you just freely walk onto the set? Were you part of the nightly broadcast as a producer? How did you actually physically get access
to the anchor set?
OVSYANNIKOVA (through translator): Let's say that I was afraid until the last minute that I won't be able to do it, that it won't have the effect
that I was expecting, because the newsroom on Channel One is a huge open space, open plan area.
And I was planning to stand back. But then I realized that I would not be visible, and the directors will change the layout very quickly, I will be
arrested, and it will -- over at once.
But, eventually, I watched the scene technically, and thought how to organize it correctly. And right in the last minute, I decided that I would
be able to overcome the guard who stands in front of the studio and stand behind the host.
So, I moved very quickly, and I passed by the security and showed my poster.
AMANPOUR: Marina, do you think that other journalists will follow what you did? What reaction have you had from colleagues?
OVSYANNIKOVA (through translator): I have not spoken to any of my colleagues yet, because I was -- I had to give up my phone as part of the
administrative offense. And so I haven't been in touch with my colleagues yet.
But as far as I can see on the Internet, some of my colleagues have begun to resign from federal TV channels. And I think this is becoming a public
demonstration, because many are feeling a disconnect between the reality and what we say on air.
AMANPOUR: So, look, we have talked to a lot of people inside Russia, journalists, who say that something like 70 percent of the Russian people
actually watch state television.
And these are the people who believe the Kremlin propaganda, who believe that there's no war in Ukraine, who believe that no civilians have been
killed. I wonder whether you think your protest can change what they thought -- I mean, it was five seconds -- can change what people believed.
OVSYANNIKOVA (through translator): Indeed, society in Russia is divided in two. One-half supports the war and the other doesn't. Those who support the
war, of course, they watch state TV in Russia.
And, yes, they are rather brainwashed by the propaganda, because state propaganda is blaring from every state TV channel from morning until night,
especially now there is an information war.
And I'm watching my elderly mom, who watches and listens to this propaganda from morning until night. And she is so brainwashed, that I can't -- I
can't talk to her for five minutes, because these phrases -- she keeps repeating the phrases she hears on TV, the phrases that our propagandists
And I think 50 percent of our society are like my mom. But I wanted to show to the world that Russians are against the war. The majority of Russians
are against the war. And even if they support the Kremlin policy, they are pacifists. They hate war inside themselves.
Everybody in Russia is scared by what's going on. Everybody's confused. Our life changed overnight. Russians are really scared by what is on. And their
faces show fear and confusion.
AMANPOUR: Marina, what is next for you? What will you do?
OVSYANNIKOVA (through translator): I can't tell you what I'm going to do tomorrow, because the times are such that our lives have changed overnight
with this war.
And it's difficult to plan anything, because everybody is living in a way that we're thankful for today, and we don't know what will happen tomorrow,
what tomorrow will bring. It's just something that scares us a lot.
AMANPOUR: And just another personal note about your own safety.
Do you fear for your safety? Do you -- have you received any harsh criticism?
OVSYANNIKOVA (through translator): I'm -- it's the first day that I am at home -- or not actually at home, but in my friend's -- at my friend's
So I haven't yet read all the commentaries and all the news. So I have not yet sunk into this world, this contradictory world of the information war.
I'm saving myself.
AMANPOUR: And how about your children? Are you able to protect them? Do they understand what their mom did?
OVSYANNIKOVA (through translator): I don't know yet what to do next, what my steps will be. At the moment, my children are safe. And, of course, I
fear for them very much. But I hope they will be OK.
AMANPOUR: Marina, I do appreciate it. And thank you so much for being with us.
OVSYANNIKOVA: Sorry. I want to talk in English.
I want to tell you a story about what I -- why I had -- because, when I was 12 years old, in 1991, the war began in Chechnya. And we live in Grozny.
And airstrikes began to explode there right on the -- our windows. And we feel the -- from there leaving. We fled from there, leaving all our things,
And now I understand perfectly what the Ukrainian refugees are feeling now. And I'm really worrying about the Ukrainian refugees. And, also, I'm
worrying about the Russian soldiers. It's so young boys. And I think they really don't understand why they have to do it, why they have fighting.
AMANPOUR: That is such an important story. You grew up with this war that was created in your home, hometown in Chechnya.
AMANPOUR: I understand.
Thank you very much for being so brave.
OVSYANNIKOVA: Thank you very much for -- invite me.
AMANPOUR: Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is appealing to the U.S. for a different act of bravery.
In an urgent address before Congress, he said that we need you right now. And he crafted a plea tailored specifically to an American audience. He
mentioned Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He invoked Pearl Harbor on September 11, two deadly attacks from the skies. And he renewed his call for a no-fly
Indeed, Zelenskyy said Ukraine has endured a 9/11 every day for the last three weeks. He delivered this direct message to President Biden in
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ZELENSKYY: I'm almost 45 years old. Today, my age stopped when the heart of more than 100 children stopped beating. I see no sense in life if it
cannot stop the deaths.
And this is my main issue, as the leader of my people, brave Ukrainians.
And as the leader of my nation, I am addressing President Biden. You are the leader of the nation, of your great nation. I wish you to be the leader
of the world. Being the leader of the world means to be the leader of peace.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: But Biden isn't budging on the no-fly zone, though he is sending Ukraine an additional $800 million in security assistance.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are united in our abhorrence of Putin's depraved onslaught.
And we're going to continue to have their backs as they fight for their freedom, their democracy, their very survival. And we're going to give
Ukraine the arms to fight and defend themselves through all the difficult days ahead.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: My next guest joined the Marines just months before 9/11.
Seth Moulton went on to serve for tours in Iraq, and he now serves in Congress as a Democrat from Massachusetts. He was at the Capitol for
President Zelenskyy's speech. And we spoke as President Biden addressed the situation in Ukraine.
AMANPOUR: Congressman Moulton, welcome to the program.
REP. SETH MOULTON (D-MA): Christiane, it's good to see you.
AMANPOUR: It must have been quite something, chills down your spine, to listen to President Zelenskyy address the House.
MOULTON: Chills down your spine when he spoke, but when they showed the video of Ukrainian children wounded and dead in the street, just about
every eye in that room filled with tears. It was heart-wrenching, especially as a father myself.
AMANPOUR: So, do you think -- I mean, they have been incredibly courageous. They have literally fought back in a way that nobody imagined
they would be able to take on the Russian military.
But they're also extremely good at telling their very, very unique and brave story. Do you think that video, which I watched, which is really
difficult, could it have swayed any minds in Congress, if there were any on the on the fence still?
MOULTON: Actually, I don't think that there are minds that need to be swayed in Congress.
What I want to see is videos like that shown to the Russian people, and even to the Russian troops. One of my consistent criticisms has been all
along that the Biden administration needs to conduct more of an information war campaign. You're right. The Ukrainians are doing an extraordinary job
with this. But there's more that we can do. There's more that we can do to help.
In fact, Putin has no problem telling lies directly to American voters through Facebook to undermine elections. We shouldn't hesitate to tell the
Russian people the truth about this war.
AMANPOUR: You know, President Zelenskyy, again, he used language and imagery and history that Americans could understand. He brought up Pearl
Harbor. He brought up 9/11.
And he continued his demand or his request for a no-fly zone. I know you don't support it. I know the president doesn't support it. But I just want
to play this for a second.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ZELENSKYY (through translator): This is a terror that Europe has not seen, has not seen for 80 years, and we are asking for a reply, for an answer to
this terror from the whole world.
Is this a lot to ask for to create a no-fly zone over Ukraine to save people? Is this too much to ask, a humanitarian no-fly zone, something that
Ukraine -- that Russia would not be able to terrorize our free cities? If this is too much to ask, we offer an alternative.
You know, what kind of defense systems we need, S-300 and other similar systems. You know how much depends on the battlefield on the ability to use
aircraft, powerful, stronger aviation to protect our people, our freedom, our land, aircraft that can help Ukraine.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, Congressman, it's very clear that he obviously still wants to no-fly zone. You're not going to give it nor is NATO. But it's the last
paragraph that's the issue, right?
He wants much more sophisticated anti-aircraft, including the S-300s. And I understand that debate is under way in Congress. Would you support that?
MOULTON: Yes. This is an alternative that I fully support.
And in many ways, the United States has been supporting this all along. We have been giving them Stinger anti-aircraft missiles since the very
beginning. There are different, more advanced anti-aircraft systems that we can give them in addition. In essence, there are different ways to enforce
a no-fly zone.
Zelenskyy has always is asked for American pilots to be flying over Ukraine. I do not support that, because it will put Americans in direct
conflict with Russians. And that does absolutely raise the risk of escalating the war, of this perhaps turning into World War III.
In some ways, that's exactly what Putin wants. Escalating the war will play into his hands. His war in Ukraine is going badly. He wants to turn this
into a Russia vs. NATO war. We should not let that happen. But there's a lot more that we can do to get Russian planes out of the sky.
There's one other thing, Christiane. A lot of the danger -- a lot of the damage that we're seeing in Ukrainian cities right now is not due to bombs
dropped from aircraft, although that's a problem. It's due to artillery. And there are counterartillery. They're called counterbattery systems that
we can provide the Ukrainians to take out this Russian artillery when it fires on Ukrainian cities.
Those are additional weapons that we should provide to the Ukrainians today.
And, I mean, look, you're a former Marine. You get it. You understand the battle zone. We do understand that a lot of that damage to the civilian
infrastructure has been long-range artillery, but, in the recent days, aircraft have played an increasingly and devastating role.
So you say we can do this and that. Why aren't you doing it, then? Why isn't more of those anti-missile batteries getting there? And,
specifically, what you just said, why aren't more of the more sophisticated anti-aircraft missiles not being deployed?
MOULTON: Those are great questions.
And I think the answer is that, all along here, we have been doing the right things, but we have been doing them too slowly. I think there's
interest in Congress and there's probably interest in the administration in providing these systems. But from the very beginning, we have just moved
too slowly to provide the support to Ukraine.
When I was last in Kyiv in December, I came back and I wrote a private memo to the administration, then published an op-ed in "The Journal" saying
exactly this. We need to move more quickly. You win wars by moving more quickly than your opponent, by outfoxing your opponent, by making decisions
more quickly than the opponent can respond.
We can't be playing defense here. We can't be always responding to what Putin does. We need to take the initiative. And I think weapons delivery is
one example of a way in which we can move more quickly to support the Ukrainian cause.
AMANPOUR: OK, but why hasn't it happened then? Because this is now three weeks of the actual war. Before that, the president and his U.K. colleagues
put out fantastic intelligence saying exactly what was going to happen. It happened.
Why -- as you say, it's a race against time. So far, the victim has shown the most alacrity and the most ability to react to this. Why is it taking
so much time?
MOULTON: Look, this is a question that many of us are asking in Congress as well. And we have asked this in private classified briefings to the
administration for months now. Why is this taking so long?
I think part of the answer is that what the administration is trying to do is walk a careful line, where they support the Ukrainian effort, we put
more pressure on Putin, but we do it without escalating the conflict.
The problem is, that is a tough line to walk, but we need to walk it more quickly. We still need to provide more support more quickly to the
Ukrainians. I think you're going to hear this phrase refrain consistently from Congress, pushing the administration to do more.
I have been very happy with how the administration has handled this effort, by and large, over the past few weeks. I mean, their ability to get
together this unprecedented international coalition sanctions represent a lot of hard work that they have put in diplomatically to this effort. So
there are many things the administration is doing right.
But, again, from the very beginning, they have been moving too slowly. And there will be increasing pressure from Congress to speed it up.
AMANPOUR: Well, we're just hearing -- as we speak, in fact, President Biden is speaking. He has promised -- I guess you all knew this -- some
$800 million more in funds and help in that way, but also hundreds more anti-aircraft systems and anti-missile systems.
So that's going in. Do you know what kind they are? And is it the stuff that we have just been talking about?
MOULTON: I have not seen what the president is -- I mean, he is literally speaking right now. So I'm not sure exactly what he's specifying.
But, clearly, we have had these discussions on the Armed Services Committee. One of the challenges is getting the Ukrainians systems that
they can use. So one option is actually sending them systems that are former Soviet technology from Eastern Europe held by some of our Eastern
European allies that can be transferred to the Ukrainians.
They may not be the latest and greatest American systems, but they're systems that the Ukrainians know how to use and can start using as soon as
they receive them. We can then backfill these systems into the Eastern European countries, like Poland and Romania, with our own more advanced
So there are ways to do this. And we need to make sure we get the Ukrainians stuff they can use, and we need to make sure we get it to them
as soon as possible.
AMANPOUR: Congressman, I want to ask you a question, again, as a military person that you are.
I understand that none of you want to engage because you think is going to trigger World War III. However, does the president have to and NATO and --
keep saying to Putin, we're not going to, we're not going to, we're not going to, kind of, don't worry, you get away with what you get away with in
Why? Why keep telegraphing that message? Why can't one keep that -- keep that ambiguity?
MOULTON: It's a great question, Christiane. And, honestly, I don't know. I don't think that has been wise.
I think, actually, what we have done is, we have allowed Putin to define the terms of this debate. We have allowed him to say what counts as
escalation, rather than defining it ourselves.
There's an interesting analogy here to the Cuban Missile Crisis. As we know, President Kennedy decided to put in what was essentially a naval
blockade of Cuba to prevent Russian weapons from coming into the island. But they had a lot of concern about the term blockade, because it's been
called an act of war in the past.
So they had long debates about literally word choice, and they came up with quarantine. And then President Kennedy came out and told the world, we're
establishing a quarantine. It is not an act of war. Imagine, if just before that, Khrushchev had come out and said, if U.S. ships interdict Soviet
ships, that will be an act of war. We would have been at a loss.
President Kennedy during the Cuban Missile Crisis got ahead of the Russians. He defined the terms of the debate. We're still in response mode
to Putin. We have got to get ahead of him. We have got to set the terms. We have the international coalition, the -- basically, the entire world behind
us. President Biden should be saying what counts as war, what counts as escalation and what does not count. He shouldn't let Putin say that for us.
Congressman Moulton, thank you so much, indeed.
MOULTON: Thanks, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: So, let's further explore that point, because Putin's war has already produced multiple unintended consequences. One is reframing the
conversation on climate change to make it as much about global security as about the environment.
The Australian mining titan Andrew Forrest says now is the time to reject Russia's oil and gas. He's also pulled back his own renewable energy
interests in that country, saying that any profits to be made there would be blood money.
And Andrew Forrest joins me now from Morocco, where he's holding meetings on green energy, as he travels around the world.
Welcome back to the program.
So let me just start by asking you. My previous guest, Congressman Moulton, said we have to be ahead and to be setting the agenda. Do you think that
this is a moment where the West and everybody who's interested in renewables and a different kind of energy can set the agenda because of
what's happening in Russia?
ANDREW FORREST, AUSTRALIAN MINING MAGNATE: Christiane, yes, I do.
I think now's not the time to take a backward step into the Dark Ages. It's not the time to take a backward step into fossil fuels. Now's the time that
we know to adopt a practical, implementable solution. Pollution-free fuels which can be made in enormous quantity, can satisfy Europe, can satisfy
North America and can stop our planet cooking.
And, of course, Christiane, it disempowers the next despotic dictatorship, which we have seen come out of Russia. It's trampling on the Russian soil,
trampling on, I believe, the people of Russia, the people of Ukraine. Let's disempower that dictatorship.
AMANPOUR: Because President Putin still believes that his incredible position, Russia's incredible position, as such a major producer of oil and
natural gas is eventually going to crack the resolve against him.
So it's a really important moment right now. You have met him. Do you think the sanctions and the attempt to disassociate from Russian fossil fuel will
actually harm him or influence him, rather?
FORREST: Look, I think that -- look, I have met him. He is an extremely intelligent guy. He got across his brief immediately.
But I think the most dangerous position for someone who's feeling in power, as opposed to respecting in power, is that you get told what people fear
you want to hear. And that is what's happened to President Putin. He's been told a raft of total exaggerations about the weakness of Ukraine, a raft of
total fallacies about the response of the world.
And he's believed that, actually, the world has precisely no choice. Well, he's late on that. And his advisers are way late on that. The world does
have a choice. It's green energy. Electricity, ammonia and hydrogen, all made from renewable electricity, can answer 100 percent of the global
economy's needs for fuel and industrial products made from fossil fuels.
So, now's the time
AMANPOUR: Andrew Forrest, you did, and I mentioned it, basically in pulling back from your renewable investment in Russia. You called it blood
money. It's strong. It's strong from somebody who is a businessman, a billionaire who's made, you know, his fortune in the cold hard world of
capitalism. You seem to -- tell me about that, about why you said blood money.
FORREST: Well, Christiane, you've been with me on this campaign, the global campaign to defeat modern slavery, to finally send it back to the
dark ages so it never raised its head. It's attack on women, 130 -- one in 130 women across the world are enslaved or have been seriously enslaved.
I've been to Russia, you've known all about that, that I've spoken to the Russian leadership. I've spoken to the Russian people. Also, my most recent
campaign to stop single use plastic, to stop poisoning our environment. I've worked a lot in Russia. I've spent a lot of time in Crimea, across the
Ukraine, in Kyiv. My own daughter had education and work experience in Kyiv. We know Russians and we know Ukrainians, and we know there is no
point to this war.
Now, intelligent people, business people across Russia have tried to justify it to me. They point out, well, what happened in Syria, what
happened in Afghanistan, I'm afraid it pales into insignificance of a dictator trying to take an entire another country for his personal
ambition, his fixation with Peter the Great. His worship of that entity in history, which is a very topical figure. There's incredibly mixed views
about that individual.
Putin has fixated on that individual. He cast himself in that mold. And I'm saying to every business person, there's still 300 odd companies which are
active in the Russian economy, which are foreign companies, I'm saying to them, hey, listen really carefully to world opinion. Shareholders, if
you're reaping rewards from Russia, you need to wait, because right now those rewards from feeding an army, and feeding a military which is
persecuting and killing an entire civilian population. We have to pull out of Russia.
I'm saying to my fellow chairman, my chief executives, my fellow investors, get out now. It is blood money. There's no other way you can call it. You
can try and justify it any which way you like, but there is a murderer at the helm, and we need to do everything to not support that murderer.
AMANPOUR: Do you know, that's very strong stuff. So, I wonder what you think. There are obviously pictures which we're going to air right now. The
prime minister of Britain, Boris Johnson, has gone to Saudi Arabia and he will be around in the Gulf trying to get people like Mohammed Bin Salman,
who has been sanctioned, you know, by the world's opprobriumfor being accused of murdering in a terrible way, journalist Jamaal Khashoggi, gone
there, in order to, I assume, get them to up their fossil fuel, i.e., their oil production, because of the situation we're in right now with oil prices
spiking, et cetera.
What do you think when you see that?
FORREST: Look, I'm confused by it. I can only think that maybe it is the West trying to get closer to Saudi Arabia. Obviously, Russia has always
been close to Saudi Arabia. Part of OPEC. They have been in this fossil fuel sector. But MBS, the leader of Saudi Arabia, has done something which
Russia has not. He's gone hard into renewable energy. He's gone hard in green hydrogen.
I've had these discussions with him. He's committed to it. I've had this discussion with the UAE, the crowned prince of Abud Abi, said to me he will
celebrate when the last bowel of fossil fuel is exported from the UAE. They see the future unfolding in front of them.
I would say to the prime minister of Britain, not that I should have any vote in this, but if you're going to Saudi Arabia to strengthen the ties of
Saudi Arabia with the West, to weaken the ties that they may have with an OPEC member of Russia, then I think that's a great thing. But if you're
going to encourage fossil fuel, then I would say please do not do that.
MBS is perfectly capable of ramping up his green energy, his wind, his solar. He's in a perfect position to be a power in there, and of course, so
is almost every other country in the world. But I would say to Prime Minister Johnson, please take leadership in green energy. The world wants
it. The world does not want to empower dictatorship. Does not want to empower despotic fascist governments. I see fascist fossil fuel really in
most places I look. And now is the time to stop it.
Let's give energy sovereignty to the world. Renewable energy is everywhere. Every country can produce it. It is now the time to capture it and have
full energy freedom.
AMANPOUR: I mean, it would be an unbelievable, you know, side effect if, in fact, this did galvanize world leaders who have been pledging all of
this renewable energy but not really moving fast enough. And you know what happened at COP, yet more promises. So, let me just read -- you know, read
you a couple stats.
As you know, Germany was one of the biggest European nations' dependent on Russian oil. It says it was to get 100 percent of its energy from
renewables by 2035. The E.U. wants to win itself off Russian fossils by 2030. You know, the U.S. has banned and so as the U.K. for the moment.
Germany though has also banned, under the previous government of Angela Merkel, nuclear power. How will Germany be able to, you know, do what it
says it wants to do now in terms of renewables?
FORREST: Look, I fully applaud the progress of E.U. and the direction of the U.E. As Frank Timmermans said, life will never be the same again.
Everything has changed. Once those Russian tanked rolled across a free civilian Ukrainian border, everything changed. I applaud the government of
Germany. I know how difficult it is for my company, we've had to invent ship engines, train engines, truck engines. We've have to make technical
breakthroughs everywhere just so we can get our company completely green by 2030.
They've given themselves only another five years. This is a herculean effort, but I would not stand in the way of the E.U. or of the German
people. They are determined to do this. And we are determined to support them.
AMANPOUR: Yes. It's really an amazing moment in this regard. Thank you so much, Andrew Forrest.
Now, as efforts continue to find diplomatic solutions for the war in Ukraine, President Zelenskyy said today as well that Russia's negotiating
position is "sounding more realistic." And there's a similar kind of sounds from Russia about that. A Russian born American journalist, Julia Ioffe, is
a founding partner at Puck News and she joins Walter Isaacson to discuss the future of Russia
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WALTER ISAACSON, CNN HOST: Thank you, Christian. And Julia Ioffe, welcome to the show.
JULIA IOFFE, FOUNDING PARTNER AND WASHING CORRESPONDENT, PUCK NEWS: Thanks for having me, Walter.
ISAACSON: You just interviewed one of the few independent pollsters in Russia who said about two-thirds of the people there support this war. I'm
not sure what to believe about what people tell pollsters here or especially in Russia, but, you know, you were born in Russia. You studied
in Russia. You speak Russian. Tell me about your sense of the Russian people and what they feel about the war?
IOFFE: It's very hard to gauge now more than ever because Russia has become kind of a black box with the shutting down of the last vestiges of
Russian independent media, and because now people can be fined or go to jail for up to 15 years for even calling this war a war or deviating from
the lines about the war set by the Kremlin.
So, if it was hard to poll people in Russia before, now, it's gotten that much harder. You know, especially if you're polling older people who were
born and lived in the Soviet Union and you have somebody from an official sounding organization calling and asking, do you like Vladimir Putin? You
know, what are you going to say?
The other thing though that's important to note as Denis Volkov pointed out in our interview, is that Russians support the war that they're being told
about, but it's not the war that's actually happening. The war they're being told about, again, in this informational vacuum is one that is very
limited to the East. It's a liberating these breakaways, these AstroTurf breakaway republics. They're being told that Russians are being greeted as
liberators. They're being told that there are no casualties, that the Russian army is purposely avoiding targeting Ukrainian civilians, that
they're being extremely careful and kind to them. They're being told that there are minimal losses in the Russian army.
They're not being told that the Russian army is purposely targeting civilians in this kind of punitive Chechen-Syrian style campaign. They're
not being told that there's stiff Ukrainian resistance, not just from the military but from the population, that Ukrainians are telling pretty much
every Russian soldier they encounter, we didn't want you here. We didn't invite you here. And so, I wonder what their impression would be if they
knew what was actually going on which is, of course, the point.
ISAACSON: Well, you know, initially, we saw some anti-war protests. Do you think there could be more of these, or is this crackdown effective?
IOFFE: You know, I think the crackdown is pretty effective, at least for now. I think those protests were probably expected by the Kremlin. Again, a
lot of them were in St. Petersburg and Moscow. Although, there were some all over the country, but those are two cities who don't like Putin and
don't like his policies and always protest, have always protested. And, you know, although something like 14,000, 15,000 Russians have been detained in
anti-war protests, that's still out of a country of, you know, 144 million. It's a drop in the bucket.
ISAACSON: You've said that in order to get Russia, to understand Russia, you have to go to the worst-case scenario. What is the worst-case scenario
here? Is it biological and chemical weapons? Is it nuclear weapons? Is it mass bombing of populations?
IOFFE: I think it could be all of those things. I think we don't know. And the worrying thing is that there are so many different worst-case scenarios
that are all equally plausible. You know, we currently see the Russian government laying the groundwork. It seems for a false flag chemical
ISAACSON: Yes. Which means that they would claim the Ukrainians did --
IOFFE: Right. They did something similar in Syria, where they carried a lot of water for the Assad regime when it bombed its civilian population
with chemical weapons. And they said, oh, it was a Syrian opposition bombing themselves to get sympathy from the West. And now, they're claiming
that Ukraine has all these chemical and biological weapons and that they would bomb themselves to get sympathy from the West and to make Russia look
So, it feels like they're preparing the ground for something. He could use a tactical nuke in Ukraine. Another worst-case scenario is that this goes
on like this for months or even years. And Ukraine is just totally flattened and decimated. In Syria, something like half the population was
displaced and fled. So, in Ukraine, that would be something like 20 million people, which means, you know, it would be profoundly destabilizing for the
rest of Europe.
ISAACSON: You just said something interesting about a false flag chemical or biological attack and that they're preparing for that. We see even here
in the United States some people on real cable TV shows or whatever saying sort of parroting the Russian line that Ukraine has these, you know,
weapons labs and they may use them or something. How -- is that Russian propaganda? How does that spread that way?
IOFFE: So, that's a super interesting case, and it is a perfect distillation of how this disinformation system works. So, this claim
actually originated on a far-right social media network called GAB. And then, it was picked up further by the right wing. Then picked up by the
Kremlin. Then amplified by people like Tucker Carlson and Tulsi Gabbard. Then amplified again by the Kremlin. It's this ecosystem of, you know,
mutual amplification. But it is interesting that it started on an American far right, you know, there's now a report that indicates to us that this
claim started on an American far right social network.
ISAACSON: So, do you think this is just Russian propaganda that they're able to find willing dupes or something for their propaganda?
IOFFE: I think that's part of it. I think part of it is that the American far left and American far right are more than happy to, you know, just be
against whatever the kind of status quo is or whatever the party in power is saying. For their own ideological reasons, this kind of lines up, and
they're more than happy to ride that horse.
ISAACSON: The great Russian scholar, Steven Kotkin, once said that Stalin, how could one man kill millions of people? And I think his point was, and
you can correct, because you took class and I didn't, I think his point was, no, Stalin couldn't kill a million people. It took a lot of willing
executioners and Russian to follow his orders for that to happen. So, I ask it about this case. Is this Putin's war, or is this Russia going to war
IOFFE: I think it's both. It's Putin who cooked this crazy up in his head based on profound miscalculations and misreading of the reality on the
ground as well as of history. But it's also Russia's war in that millions of Russians support it, whatever version of it they're hearing about. And
tens of thousands of Russian soldiers and intelligence operatives are carrying out these orders. They're pulling the triggers. They're firing on
civilian buildings and infrastructure.
At this point, you know, the army knows, right? They're on the ground. They know what they're firing on. They know that Ukrainians don't want them.
They know they're not neo-Nazis, and they continue to execute these orders. So, I think it started with Putin, but he has millions of willing
executioners, as we said.
ISAACSON: And so, if Putin were to get deposed or something were to happen to him, is it possible this war continues?
IOFFE: It's very possible. And there are examples of it in not-too-distant Russian history. Leonid Brezhnev started in Afghanistan, died three years
into it, but the war went on for seven more years and was carried on by three of his successors. The Bolsheviks, for example, when they seized
power, their stated aim was to get Russia out of World War I. But it took them many months to agree to do so. As the U.S. now knows full well, it's
very easy to start a war, but it's very, very difficult to end one.
ISAACSON: You wrote a piece titled "Europe 9/11" recently. Let's start with the title. What did you mean by that title?
IOFFE: This is something that was a quote from European officials. And this was something they were telling officials in the Biden administration,
which itself was extremely surprised by how quickly and fiercely Europe rolled out sanctions. And not just sanctions against Russia, but started
shipping arms to the -- to the Ukrainians. I mean, the fact that Germany did this, the fact that the E.U., for the first time in its history, was
shipping weapons to Ukraine.
And the way they explained it to American officials was, this is our 9/11. This is a profound cataclysm, and it's kind of what woken Europe up to the
fact that, yes, even after World War II, even after the disillusion, the violent disillusion of the former Yugoslavia, war and land war is still
possible in Europe on the European continent.
ISAACSON: In that piece you asked a question, is the idea of an off ramp, in other words, and exit strategy, a way we can get out of this mess, is
that a delusion of the ever-optimistic American mind set? So, what is your answer to that question?
IOFFE: I think it is. And the people who talk about an off ramp are offering Putin an off ramp seem to have not been paying attention to the
three-month leadup to the war where Putin blew past every off ramp that had been offered to him.\
At this point, I think given his stated aims, which say he will not settle for anything short of the full dismemberment of Ukraine and basically,
Ukraine giving up its own sovereignty, it's hard to see how he climbs back from that and doesn't lose a lot of face both at home and in the world. And
one of his aims in the world has always been to restore Russia's stature, and his own stature to be seen as the leader of a great superpower.
So, how do you still look like the leader of a great superpower if you didn't achieve any of your stated aims? And that's where you get back to
the worst-case scenario. It's not just you're imagining the worst-case scenario in a vacuum, it's because we know what Putin is like. We know what
aims he has stated. He wants to achieve in this war. They are extreme. And it would take a lot more brutality and force and time for him to achieve
them if they're even achievable.
ISAACSON: Is there any way to stop him from continuing to ramp up and become more brutal in pursuit of these aims?
IOFFE: There might be a way to stop him/ But I don't know that the West is willing to do this. And --
ISAACSON: Explain. Do you mean we would have to send in military?
IOFFE: Yes. But I don't -- I think the West and, you know, NATO, the U.S., are hesitating I think with good reason. Because of direct war with Russia
is -- you know, can take on a frightening momentum of its own and lead us to horrible, horrible places that we can't even imagine right now.
ISAACSON: What would happen if Russia just continues this war for the next two or three years, four or five years or indefinitely as it was in
Afghanistan and other places? Might they ever subdue Ukraine or is this just a never-ending struggle?
IOFFE: They might subdue Ukraine. It's happened before. Nikita Khrushchev, one of the ways one cut his teeth in route to becoming general secretary
was putting down a violent Ukrainian insurgency in Western Ukraine after World War II, but you know, I think it's important to note that yesterday
was the 11th anniversary outbreak of the civil war.
11 years. That war went on for a very, very long time, and the world moved on, forgot about it, didn't want to help too much after a certain point.
And that could very easily happen here at which point, this turns into a grinding war for several years, or for example, Putin takes Kyiv, manages
to install a puppet regime but then has to keep his army there to make sure that the second he withdraws, Ukrainians don't topple that puppet regime,
and that could mean a bloody, violent insurgency that grinds on for years.
ISAACSON: You say this is Europe's 9/11. If that's the case, is Biden and the Biden administration, are they not taking this seriously enough? And
what should President Biden do when he goes to Europe now?
IOFFE: I think they're taking it very seriously. They've been taking it seriously ever since the buildup started in the fall. And I think they've
actually done a tremendous job both in rallying allies to impose stiff consequences on Russia, to help the Ukrainians, to keep the eyes of the
world focused on this. To work with the Chinese government, to get them to try to get them to peel off from Russia and not support Russia.
So, I think they've done a tremendous job. I think his task in Europe will be to keep that alliance strong and to make sure that everybody's still on
the same page, because NATO is dozens of different countries. The European union is dozens of different countries with their own prerogatives and
priorities. There have always been countries like Hungary, like Italy who are not always willing to go along with things like sanctions against
Russia, and keeping them on board, not allowing Putin to divide and conquer is very much on the agenda, and very important to do.
ISAACSON: Do you think that President Biden and his administration can wean China away from it recent closer embrace of Russia?
IOFFE: I don't know if they can, but they should certainly try. And they should make sure that there are -- there would be consequences for
supporting Russia. We know now that Russia has asked for military and financial aid from the Chinese government. But it's much harder with China.
China is a massive economy. It has stated that it -- that they're a rival of the U.S. the same way Russia has. Russia is a very small economy. It's
not as -- it was before this it was not as integrated into the world economy the way China is. And there's not that much we can offer the
Chinese government in terms of why they should not support Russia.
ISAACSON: Putin recently, in the past year, dismantled Memorial International, the NGO that tries to look at history. Tell me the
significance of that.
IOFFE: It is massively and tragically significant. Memorial was the very first NGO founded in the Soviet Union during the prehistoric (ph) era. And
it was founded in order to document the crimes of the Soviet Union against its own citizens. Specifically, the great terror that began in the 1930s
under Stalin. And it was a way of fighting back against the Soviet regime's erasure of history and warping of history for political aims. It was a way
of documenting what really happened and telling Russians and Soviets at the time what their history actually was.
It's kind of poetic, and I'm sure not totally coincidental that Putin dismantled Memorial, which had also taken on a lot of other functions and
fighting for human rights and documenting human rights abuses. That he did this before invading Ukraine. It was one of the only organizations that was
honest with Russians about their own history, and was honest and unflinching in documenting it. And in documenting human rights abuses.
The fact that we don't have them now as a voice in Russia is -- you know, the silence is deafening.
ISAACSON: Julia Ioffe, thank you so much for joining us.
IOFFE: Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And finally, on the issue of human rights elsewhere, some good news. Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Anoosheh Ashoori are heading home. Both
British Iranians were unjustly detained for years in Tehran. And today, they boarded a flight back to the U.K.
In 2016 Nazanin was imprisoned after being falsely accused of trying to overthrow the government. She had been in Tehran introducing her 22-month-
old daughter to her Iranian family. Her husband, Richard Ratcliffe, campaigned for her release for years and even went on hunger strike and
solidarity with his wife in prison. She will now be reunited with him and their daughter, Gabriella, who is seven years old.
67-year-old Anoosheh was held on trumped up charges of espionage, when also visiting her family in 2017. But they were pawns in a geopolitical drama
and they were released after the U.K. finally settled an outstanding debt to Iran for military purchases that were delivered.
And that's it for now. If you ever miss our show, you can find the latest episode shortly after it airs on our podcast. On your screen now is a QR
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Thanks for watching and good-bye from London.