Return to Transcripts main page
China and Russia; World Order Under Threat?; Interview with CCG Vice President Victor Gao; Interview with The New York Times Photojournalist Lynsey Addario. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired March 18, 2022 - 14:00 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.
FRANCIS FUKUYAMA, STANFORD UNIVERSITY: I think what's happened in the 30 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall is that people living in
democracies have gotten complacent.
AMANPOUR: Though Putin's unprovoked invasion of Ukraine has jolted the West into decisive action, will the American-led liberal world order remain
Scholar and author Francis Fukuyama joins me.
VICTOR GAO, VICE PRESIDENT, CENTER FOR CHINA AND GLOBALIZATION: China as a very rare opportunity to play the role of a mediator.
AMANPOUR: Will China replace the U.S. as the dominant world power? And how will it handle Putin's aggression? I discussed Beijing's strategy with
former Chinese Foreign Ministry official Victor Gao in Beijing.
Plus, photo journalist Lynsey Addario talks to Hari Sreenivasan about capturing some of the most searing images of this war.
AMANPOUR: Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
Vladimir Putin's war on Ukraine is grinding into its fourth week. Civilian casualties are mounting. Families have been ripped apart. And vast areas of
the country are destroyed. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says that Putin has turned his country's sky into a source of death and crossed all sorts
of red lines.
But whether Putin wins or loses, it is clear there will be no return to the status quo ante. So what will emerge from what's happening in the center of
Europe right now? With so many lives and the fate of liberal democracy at stake, what will this new world order look like?
I will have perspectives from both the West and the East.
President Biden is rallying allies to counter Putin's aggression, to shore up democracy, and to fend off rising autocrats. But the United States has
in recent years been withdrawing from the world, and it's mired in poisonous political warfare at home. So the world's democratic leader
itself is imperiling democracy.
Will the postwar U.S. liberal world order survive this? And does it have the moral authority and the will to still lead?
For answers, I turn to scholar and author Francis Fukuyama in North Macedonia, where he was teaching a leadership course from Stanford
AMANPOUR: Francis Fukuyama, welcome to the program.
FUKUYAMA: Thanks for having me.
AMANPOUR: So everybody wants to talk to you and get your take on what comes out of this shredding of our world order by Putin, because, of course, the
term was coined end of history.
What do you see as the post-post-Cold War reality in our world after this invasion, this war?
FUKUYAMA: Well, unfortunately, this sounds like a cliche, but I really do think there's a fork here, where we could go in two very different
If Putin is successful in his plan of basically unseating the democratically elected regime in Kyiv and putting a puppet government in
there, and, if nothing really happens to him to stop that, then we are going to be back in the situation of the 20th century, where military force
is used to forcibly change borders.
On the other hand, if he gets bogged down, if he starts taking casualties at a rate that is unsustainable for him, he may actually have to pull back
in a very humiliating way. And that would demonstrate the solidity of the NATO alliance, the ability of democracies to push back, the weakness of
this authoritarian regime.
And that might give actually a second boost to the spirit of 1989 and the spirit of democracy. And, unfortunately, at the moment, we don't know which
of these two futures is really going to unfold.
AMANPOUR: So, let's take them both, first the latter one, if he gets bogged down, and, frankly, if he loses.
Most people are saying that he will lose whatever, and that he has torn up our world order. We live in a Putin world right now, win or lose, and there
is no return to the status quo ante, which I take to mean there may be no return to a U.S.-led liberal world order, as was created out of the ashes
of World War II.
FUKUYAMA: Well, if the second scenario unfolds, I don't know that that's really what's going to happen.
It may not be U.S.-led in the way that it was during the Cold War, because I think that our polarization and -- leads to a kind of political weakness
that hurts our credibility.
But Germany, for example, has turned around completely. It's now got a strong foreign policy. They're going to double their defense expenditures.
There's a lot of agreement within the NATO alliance to push back. And that could do a lot to restore a kind of rules-based liberal democratic world
And that is not going to be one that Vladimir Putin determines, and we don't have to live in his shadow. So I think that there could be some
optimistic outcomes. But, again, it really depends on the outcome on the battlefield.
AMANPOUR: You know, I think many who actually read your book "The End of History and the Last Man," I think the full title, think that maybe the
title was a little bit misleading.
It was -- what you were trying to say was, or what you were saying, was that liberal democracy as an idea and as an underpinning of a liberal
economic market was triumphant. And, of course, it was, but it has been getting weaker over the last several years.
And it's not clear. Even President Biden, in his inauguration, said, liberal democracy is fragile. Putin has said over the last couple of years
that it's, frankly, outlived its purpose and that it's on the way out. And,as you know, Xi Jinping has talked about total self-confidence in their
So do you think that, in the case of a resurgence of liberal democracy, it's just a case of winning this battle against Putin? Or does there need
to be a huge amount of extra thought put into that?
FUKUYAMA: Well, there, there certainly needs to be extra thought.
So, in my view, the way that history works is not it's some automatic machine that just goes on autopilot in a certain direction. It's the result
of human agency. And I think what's happened in the 30 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall is that people living in democracies have gotten
They assumed that the peace and prosperity that they were enjoying would somehow always be there, and they didn't have to work very hard for it. And
so they could confuse a mask mandate with authoritarian dictatorship. And that's something you can only do in a very, in a way, complacent and safe
And I think one of the things that may change -- I mean, if my optimistic scenario actually pans out, one thing that really is going to be different
is I think people that live in democracies are going to realize that they have got to be vigilant, and if they don't fight for it, and if they don't
continue to struggle, that fragile democracy is going to be taken away from them.
And, in that sense, I think Putin has taught people a lesson, that they can't be -- they can't just assume that the world will go on in that
peaceful manner, and that they can take democracy for granted.
AMANPOUR: Yes, but just your own country, the United States, has seen -- and certainly some European countries, and particularly in Eastern Europe,
illiberal democracies, even a tendency towards a slight autocracy, even in our democracies.
And this was happening in the United States. And a lot of it is a result of or built on the incredible partisan division inside the United States. You
touched on it right now, with the fight over vaccine mandates and the rest.
But there seems to be no sense of the commons in countries like the United States and other illiberal democracies. So, even if we win this battle
against autocracy in Ukraine, it seems to me that the table has to be reset at home, in the homes of democracies, in a very, very deep way, serious
FUKUYAMA: Oh, absolutely.
Look, there's one battle going on that has both external manifestations, like Ukraine, but it has internal ones. And what's really different about
this battle, compared to the Cold War, is that it reaches into the heart of our democracy, because you have populist politicians, like our former
president, or Matteo Salvini in Italy, or Viktor Orban in Hungary, who are really allies of Putin, who like that kind of strongman rule.
And they all work together. They all support one another. They support non- democratic regimes. They're all gathered in Venezuela to keep Nicolas Maduro in power. And so it is, first of all, an international network of
anti-democratic forces. And it's one that, unfortunately, has allies that are burrowed deep into our democracies.
And so when I'm saying we have to exercise some agency in order to fight back, that has both an international dimension, as in the battlefield in
Ukraine, but it also has a domestic dimension, where we need to protect our democratic institutions against this erosion by people that really don't
value democracy in the way it should be valued.
AMANPOUR: And, Francis Fukuyama, you just alluded to this coalition of autocrats and strongmen who have no democratic instincts whatsoever.
And if Putin wins, that obviously, many are saying, would create the new era of the strongman. How do you see that shaping up, particularly because,
before this, you know that the United States identified Russia as kind of an annoyance, and China as the major competitor, major threat?
Russia has taken that annoyance to a -- I mean, it's torn up the idea of a rules-based order right in front of our nose. And China's still lurking out
there and all these others who you just mentioned. What does that look like if Putin wins? How much of a challenge does that coalition pose to a
Western-led democratic order?
FUKUYAMA: Well I'm sitting here in Skopje, North Macedonia, teaching a course.
In the Balkans, you have a very fragile piece. There was a terrible war here in the 1990s. And a lot of those hatreds are still there. And there's
actually a lot of support for Putin among many people in this region. And I think that, if he gets away with subduing Ukraine, a lot of people locally
are going to take a cue from that.
But they're also going to be doing it in Latin America, in parts of Asia, in the Middle East. So it really is one fight. And I would actually refer
back to something you said earlier, or pointed to earlier. The -- it's not just the success of Putin. It's also the weakness of the United States.
And if the United States really cannot get its act together and do something to overcome this crippling polarization, then the country that's
been at the core of the pushback in -- throughout the whole Cold War and through most of the post-Cold War period, it's going to be missing in
And that is going to be the other big cue for all these autocrats that they can push and they won't get any -- they won't get any response.
AMANPOUR: So, let's take that worst kind -- worst-case scenario, and perhaps rewind to the Cold War, when there was two entities facing off
against each other on all the ideological issues.
Now our world is much more interconnected, whether it's trying to fight off climate change, whether it's trying to deal with viruses, inequality, all
of that kind of stuff. Even in a worst-case scenario, where you have got the strongmen coalition and the liberal democratic coalition, do you see
any areas of commonality that both sides could come together around in these issues that I just mentioned?
FUKUYAMA: Well, those hopes, I think, are ones we all have, but I really do think that -- I mean, if you just look in the United States right now, can
the Republicans and Democrats come together around this huge existential challenge that's posed by climate?
No. I mean, there's no evidence that they're going to do that. And when you think about the passions that are being generated in the Ukraine war,
there's not going to be a whole lot of cooperation between Russia and any democratic country for a really long time.
So I'm really afraid that that big fight, which is really the fight of our generation, which is to preserve democracy against these threats, is really
the condition for dealing with some of the other threats, because, quite frankly, if we're preoccupied fighting ourselves, which, in the United
States, I'm afraid we are, we're never going to get around to fighting these other battles, pandemics.
And you saw this in the pandemic we have just gone through, that a lot of countries used this as a weapon, their distribution of viruses and the --
the fighting over vaccinations and so forth.
So, I really think we have got to win this larger, in a way, the ideological battle in favor of democracy before we can take on the global
AMANPOUR: And so, given that, given what you have just said, there is a question, a debate, an argument raging, even right now, over how to respond
to Putin's war, his invasion, his tearing up the idea of borders, his use of blood and force and might makes right.
So does NATO bite the bullet and fight him back now, or does NATO wait and let Putin potentially get strengthened by this and try it out on a NATO
I know it's a really sensitive issue, but I just wonder whether you think about that argument that is flying around.
FUKUYAMA: Well, I think that, with the weapons that are pouring in to Ukraine right now, there is a chance that Ukrainians can fight the Russians
to a draw and maybe even defeat them on their own. I think it would be better if they did that without any direct support from NATO.
And I think people should recognize that this is a pretty dangerous situation, because both the Russians and the United States and its NATO
allies have a lot of escalatory capabilities, and it could get very dangerous for everybody if that's allowed to happen.
So I think that we should do everything we can to support Ukraine, I think we should be extremely careful about entering into this battle ourselves
directly. But I will admit that, if this really looks like it's going to be a slaughter and Ukraine is really going to go down, we will have to rethink
AMANPOUR: And, in the meantime, obviously, economic meltdowns have fueled wars throughout history. Russia is being hit very hard by the West.
And the Russian president's spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, has called it a war against Russia, an economic war against Russia. Is that just
sloganeering? Or do you have some thought about what this financial strangulation of Russia could lead to?
FUKUYAMA: Well, it's -- the hope is that once ordinary Russians and the Russian elite like these oligarchs around Putin begin really feeling pain,
there will be some pushback internally.
I think the record on that is pretty mixed. And I'm not sure that that's going to do the job in any short period of time. And, oftentimes, the
sanctions actually strengthen the leader, because there's a certain rallying around. And we have seen a little bit of evidence that that's
On the other hand, you're taking resources away from him, resources that he needs to pay for his army and for the aggressive policies that he's
pursued. And so that, in itself, I think, is one benefit.
But, again, I really think that it's the military action in Ukraine that is the only thing that can really force Putin to pull back. The sanctions, for
all that they're really going to hurt Russia, will be slow-acting, and I don't see that that's really going to be the short-term way out of this
AMANPOUR: Do you think liberalism will ultimately prevail?
FUKUYAMA: I have this book coming out in a couple of weeks. It's a defense of classical liberalism.
And I point out that it's actually survived for about 300 years. It's gone down periodically, but the alternatives just looks so awful, once people
experience them, that they keep coming back to it.
So I think it'll be around.
AMANPOUR: Francis Fukuyama, thank you so much, indeed, for joining us with your massive perspective there. We really appreciate it.
FUKUYAMA: Thank you very much.
AMANPOUR: So that's perspective from the West.
Now we turn to the East. Relations between the United States and China have soured in recent years. But, today, Presidents Biden and Xi speak about
what the White House calls issues of mutual concern, especially Russia's war in Ukraine.
Beijing has offered to mediate the conflict, but its state TV is parroting lines from Russian media.
Correspondent David Culver has more.
DAVID CULVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): China's national broadcaster, CCTV, looking increasingly like Russian state television, these days, its
anchors parroting the Kremlin, calling the invasion of Ukraine, a special military operation, its stories highlighting Moscow's grievances, against
Kyiv and its Western allies, along with Russia's military progress on the battlefield.
They rarely mention the fierce resistance and growing suffering in war-torn Ukraine.
Publicly, Beijing stresses its impartiality in the conflict, even indicating its willingness to be a mediator. Coverage in its strictly-
controlled state and social media tells a very different story.
CNN, combing through Chinese TV and digital news reports in the first eight days of the Russian attack, along with thousands of social media posts from
(on camera): Our findings? China has largely adopted Russia's talking points, actively helping the Kremlin disseminate its version Of the bloody
war to millions here and beyond.
CULVER (voice-over): In response to CNN's requests for comment, the Chinese foreign ministry said the country is a victim of disinformation. Some anti-
China forces and media have fabricated too many lies, rumors and disinformation about China on issues that include the situation in
Ukraine," it said in a statement.
"They have smeared the image of China, poisoned the media environment and misled the public worldwide. Such actions are hypocritical and despicable."
Russian President Vladimir Putin's last foreign visit before he launched the invasion was here to China.
Following the 38th meeting between Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping since 2013 and just hours before the opening Ceremony of the Winter
Olympics, the two governments declared a partnership with no limits.
China and Russia's increasingly close ties had included coordinating their message on the global stage. Such coordination, it now appears, has drawn
Beijing into playing an important role in the Kremlin's disinformation campaign.
On February 26, after two nights, of Russian bombardment, Zelenskyy shared a video, of himself on the streets of Kyiv. Russian officials quickly
alleged that Zelenskyy had fled the country and the video was prerecorded.
Less than 15 minutes later, CCTV flashed a news alert, claiming Zelenskyy has left Kyiv, initially without any attribution. More than 160 Chinese
state media outlets reposted the CCTV alert. A hashtag, #RussiaSaysZelenskyyHasLeftKyiv, later got more than 510 million views on
Chinese social media Weibo. And yet it was not true.
Perhaps most damning, an internal memo, purportedly from state-run publication Beijing News, surfaced online two days before the Russian
invasion even started. The memo directed staff not to publish anything negative about Russia or pro-West. It was mistakenly posted on the outlet's
social media account, before being set to private, and eventually deleted.
CNN research has found that China's major state media outlets appear to be following that playbook. Of the most retweeted post on Weibo from February
24 through March 3, more than 46 percent contained pro-Russia comments, compared to less than 5 percent, with pro-Ukraine statements.
Roughly 35 percent of the posts included attacks on the U.S. and its allies. With reports by Russia's state media outlets being banned in many
Western nations, and Moscow enacting its own great firewall to censor dissenting voices domestically, Chinese state media is spreading and
amplifying Putin's narrative on air and online around the clock and across the globe.
AMANPOUR: David Culver reporting that.
So, if Putin does manage to shred the old order, will strongman politics rise from these ruins? And will it be Russia, China, or both?
For that, I turn to former Foreign Ministry official Victor Gao in Beijing.
AMANPOUR: Victor Gao, welcome to the program.
GAO: Thank you for having me.
AMANPOUR: So I just want to ask whether, at the end of the third week of this war, you can describe China's precise position? Because it has been
walking a tightrope, certainly in public.
Is China for this invasion? Does it call it a war? Is it helping Moscow? What is its position right now?
GAO: Well, first of all, whatever that is happening in Ukraine right now, by whatever name you call it, a war, a military conflict, or special
military operations, is causing a lot of damage and loss of human life.
China is pained by what's going on in Ukraine. Why? Because China has very good relations with Ukraine on the one hand, and also with Russia on the
other hand. And from the very beginning of the outstart of this military operation or war in Ukraine, China has called on all parties to de-
escalate, and bring the war to an end as quickly as possible to save as many lives as possible.
China has also provided humanitarian assistance to Ukrainian refugees, and is opening its door very wide to accommodate as many Ukrainian people to
China as possible. And China has a very rare opportunity to play the role of a mediator, if all parties involved would require such service from
AMANPOUR: So that is very interesting.
Look, I hear you distinctly using the word war, and it's similar to what your president used in his conference with Presidents Macron and Chancellor
Scholz. And it's a little different still to what the Chinese state media is calling it, but I hear you officials calling it a war.
And the ambassador to the U.S., your ambassador to the U.S., has just written an op-ed dispelling rumors -- quote -- "that China knew about,
acquiesced to or tacitly supported the war."
And, as you know, there are rules rumors that President Xi asked President Putin to delay the invasion until after the Games. Then there are
accusations by the United States that Putin has asked President Xi for military and economic help. I know your side denies it.
Where are we on that?
GAO: Thank you very much, Christiane.
You're raising several very important questions. First of all, what China promoted before the Winter Olympics was a resolution by the United Nations
calling for a cease-fire during the Beijing Winter Olympics, and almost 200 countries signed off to that declaration.
That doesn't mean that China stands for any country to engage in a war or military operation after the end of the Beijing Winter Olympics. I don't
think anyone should stretch its imagination in that way. China wanted to have peace, rather than instigating any war.
Now, secondly, Russia, as far as I understand, has the most powerful military forces in the world with very lethal and sophisticated weapons. It
would be very surprising if Russia would need any help from China in terms of military assistance. This speculation is completely speculative and
Now, China's government has already made it very clear that, if China had known about Russia's intention to launch the military operation in Ukraine
later, the Chinese leader would have tried his best to prevent this from happening. So I think China's position is very clear.
AMANPOUR: OK, let's just put it into context. You said Russia is the most powerful military. Well, it's not as powerful as yours and it's not as
powerful as the United States. So it's one of the most powerful militaries.
So, now let me ask you this. China clearly must be worried that any perception of tilting to or doing business with Russia at this particular
moment, where there's global sanctions -- I want to just play this sound bite by the spokeswoman for the Biden administration about what might
happen to China if indeed there's any connection economically with Russia at this time.
Here we go.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: If China were to decide to be an economic provider or to take additional steps there to Russia, they only
make up 15 percent or 20 -- 15 to 20 percent of the world's economy.
The G7 countries make up more than 50 percent. So there are a range of tools at our disposal, in coordination with our European partners, should
we need to use them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, Victor Gao, she's basically alluding to possible sanctions, secondary sanctions and the like against China.
Is that a price China is willing to pay for backing up what President Xi called his friend with no limits President Putin?
GAO: First of all, I think that Ms. Psaki's estimation or numbers are not accurate. China now accounts for about 18 percent of the total economy in
Secondly, allow me to remind all of us that China, Russia normalized their relations back in 1989, before the collapse of the former Soviet Union. It
is already 33 years. And over these three decades, China and Russia have been respecting each other. The two peoples have dealt with each other with
equality, with mutual respect.
And China-Russian trade has been in the range of more than 18 -- 180 billion U.S. dollars. It's all comprehensive. It covers a whole range of
things. How could anyone in the world today expect that they could bring this China-Russian trade to a halt? No, this is not the right thing to do.
How can anyone expect that they can disrupt the people-to-people exchanges between China and Russia today? No, this is really not the right thing to
do. Don't sabotage international trade by sanctioning China, especially because China has now the rare asset of having good channels of
communication with Russia on the one hand, and with Ukraine on the other hand.
And China does not have a vested interest at all in the outcome of this war. China is on the side of peace...
AMANPOUR: Ooh, OK.
GAO: ... rather than having a vested interest in promoting war in Ukraine.
AMANPOUR: OK. We're not talking about promoting war, but the vested interest must be in picking up the pieces from this war, given that the
world order, as we know it, has been torn to shreds by Vladimir Putin invading another country and settling or trying to settle a political
dispute through blood and force, and against international law.
But I'm absolutely fascinated first about the economy. You mentioned how much trade you do with Russia. You do 10 times as much with the West, if
you include the United States and the E.U.
This is what the President of Finland told me just this week, that even if governments don't sanction China, any perception of enabling Putin's war
could leave to behavioral sanctions against China. Cancelling, so to speak. Let me play what he told me.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SAULI NIINISTO, FINNISH PRESIDENT: Ordinary people make sanctions, too. And the Chinese reputation, in which, is not that very good in Europe at the
moment by -- amongst ordinary people, consumers, for example. And if they start to think that China is -- well, not doing its best to stop killing,
that might increase that feeling.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: How do you react to that? You know what he's saying, right? I mean, the people will decide whether to buy your products or not.
GAO: First of all, I'm disappointed by what the President has to say about China's position. Now, allow me to emphasize, to prevent killing requires
diplomacy and (INAUDIBLE) and negotiation at the highest level rather than imposing sanctions. It is truly a very important point that imposing
sanctions will not solve the problem. It may just drive Russia more and more into a corner with dire consequences for global peace and stability.
Don't forget, Russia has the largest and most lethal nuclear arsenal, larger than that of the United States. How can anyone expect that there
will be lasting peace in the world by excluding Russia? This is the time to use the greatest amount of wisdom and vision and courage to engage with
Russia so that they will do their best to bring the war in Ukraine to an end. And eventually only peace and negotiation and diplomacy can achieve
that goal. This is the best way to stop killing in Ukraine.
AMANPOUR: Victor Gao, in terms of the bigger picture now, it's obviously a battle on the ground of Ukraine for which world values will emerge intact
or in the lead or whatever. So far, since World War II, as you know, it's been an American-led liberal world order. This may change now. I've heard
it said that China, President Xi, believes that both Russia and the United States are basically two tired global powers. So, how do you think China
will be able to position itself to take advantage of this gap now or potential opening as leader of the new world order? Do you think China
wants that position?
GAO: Well, first of all, I think you are raising a very important question. Purely from the Chinese perspective, allow me to emphasize one point, that
the world order we are living through is created -- was created at the end of the second world war. And the former Soviet Union, China, the United
States, and the United Kingdom, et cetera, made huge contributions to the creation of the international world order that we are now living through.
China wants to defend the international world order as we understand it. China does not want to rock the boat. China has no wedge to throw into the
international world order. China wants to have a multilateral world with the United Nations at the very center rather than a world order to be
dictated and dominated by any one single power.
This is the world order that China wants to embrace, and encourage. This is in protection of the international security order left over created by the
end of the second world war. We all need to treasure this. No one should create a world order to be dictated by any one single country. This is
multilateralism. China stands for multilateralism with the United Nations at the very center of that.
AMANPOUR: It must be in China's interest right now to do much more diplomatically. Clearly, it's seen the very thing that it didn't want to
see Putin's actions has galvanized the West. And you've heard all the countries pledge to up their military spending. That will affect, you know,
how they deal with China and what forces are deployed, especially in the pacific, et cetera. That must be a worry for Beijing.
GAO: Yes and no. Christiane, allow me to emphasize one point. Right now, while the war or the military operations are creating havoc in Ukraine,
which is a tragedy, we need to have the courage to look beyond the horizon. And we need to prepare for the time when the dust will need to settle in
Allow me to emphasize that there will be no lasting and sustainable security framework for Europe if Russia is excluded. There will be no
sustainable and lasting peace in the world if Russia will be excluded. Whether you like Russia or not, that's another issue. But simply you cannot
exclude the largest country with more than 17 million square kilometers of land mass, and the most important, if not one of the most important,
nuclear arsenals in the world.
Whether you like Russia or not, eventually you need to reengage with Russia. And China wants to see an international framework where all these
countries will be very much included rather than any one, or any number of countries to be excluded from the international order. There will be no
lasting peace in Europe if anyone wants to exclude Russia.
AMANPOUR: Well, a Russia that plays by international rules, for sure. And the Russian people, obviously, for sure. Victor Gao, thank you so much for
joining us with that perspective from Beijing.
GAO: Thank you very much for having me, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: So, with all the politics and all the rhetoric, actually documenting war is essential for those around the world to bear witness and
for the history books. And a warning that coming up, you're about to see an image of the disturbing reality of war.
"New York Times", Pulitzer Prize winning photojournalist Lynsey Addario has covered every major conflict in humanitarian crisis of her generation. In
Kyiv, she captured an image will shock the world and it's become one of the defining images of this war. A mother, her two children, and a friend
killed by Russian mortar fire when fleeing Irpin, a village on the outskirts of the Capital Kyiv. In a week where four journalists have been
killed covering the Ukraine war, she joins Hari Sreenivasan to explain what it means to actually witness history.
HARI SREENIVASAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Christiane, thanks. Lynsey Addario, thanks so much for joining us now. As we tape this
conversation, a curfew that had been imposed on Kyiv had just lifted and you've been out there reporting. What have you seen?
LYNSEY ADDARIO, PHOTOJOURNALIST, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Well, we -- this morning we woke up to the similar sounds of explosions. So, we found out
that pieces of a rocket used to shoot down a Russian cruise missile had landed on top of a building in East Kyiv. So, we went over there, and,
again, more lives destroyed. More people's homes totally decimated. People displaced. There were dozens of people being loaded onto buses in the
freezing cold of the morning. We went up into the building, met with some families who were trying to collect whatever they could, salvage family
photos, whatever they possibly could from destroyed apartments.
When I came out of the building that was hit by the piece of rocket, I -- there was a man leaning over a victim, and there was a white sheet over the
victim, bloodied. And he just was leaning over -- you could not see his face. At one moment I think he was almost holding hands or just touching
the victim. And he didn't move for about 15 minutes. And he just wept. And it was the most -- I think it was so devastating, because it was -- he was
just motionless along with the victim. And it was this moment where -- of goodbye, it seemed, and then he just got up and kind of walked about 15
feet away from us, and just put his hands to his face and you can see his body convulsing from the back. And he was limping. So, I imagine he was
injured as well in the mornings' attack and then continued on. And it's just like, this is another life destroyed. And it just keeps happening
every single day.
SREENIVASAN: You have covered so many different conflicts before. Is there something that sticks out to you about what's been happening over the past
few weeks that you've been here?
ADDARIO: I mean, look, war is horrific. You know, I mean, to me all wars have similarities and all wars have differences. You knew -- you see the
most-evil in humanity but you also see the most incredible generosity and kindness that comes out in people when they are vulnerable and when they
are at their most vulnerable moments. So, those things are similar across the board in most conflicts, for me. I think in Ukraine, the difference is
this is a war that we sort of watched unfold in real-time and no one could stop it.
And so, everyone was sort of incredulous when it actually began when Russians entered a sovereign country and just started bombarding civilians.
I think, you know, it's not often that you witness the intentional targeting of civilians that is so obvious that there is absolutely no
denying it. And so, I think that is rare. I've covered conflicts before where I hear both sides of a story and people are trying to tell their
narrative to me as a journalist. And, you know, but I have to be on the ground and do the proper reporting. This is a case where we are watching
civilians be deliberately targeted. Really innocent people just uprooting their lives and fleeing more than, I think, two million people have fled
already from Ukraine in a very short time. So, things are happening very, very quickly as well.
SREENIVASAN: I want to go over a couple of the images that we have probably seen in "New York Times" or maybe even on your Instagram recently. One of
them became quite famous. And it was really kind of an intense image that, you know, viewer discretion advised before we put this on the screen. But
it was an image of people who had just been victims, and they've been killed. And it was a very rare decision by "The Times" to publish this as
you saw it above the fold on the newspaper.
ADDARIO: Yes. I mean, I -- I've been doing this for 20 years, and I know well that just because I've taken an image doesn't mean it will be
published. And this was the situation where I went to the civilian evacuation route out of Irpin, it's a suburb of Kyiv. And I thought I was
going to photograph civilians fleeing. Images that we had seen in the media. It was a very well-documented, well-known evacuation route. And as
soon as I got there, there was incoming artillery and it was sort of bracketed on to the evacuation route. It started further away, got closer
and closer. We were pinned down a lot of the time. I kept diving for cover with my colleague, Andriy Dubchak, and the security advisor for "The New
And eventually a mortar -- I think a mortar round or a tank round landed between me and the family. It was a mother and two children and church
volunteer who were killed -- ultimately killed in -- before our eyes. And, you know, after those initial moments, it was very chaotic. It was very
dusty. Very emotional, of course, because we were trying to figure out if we were injured ourselves. There's a moment in the video where I ask Andriy
if I was bleeding in the neck, because I felt the spray of gravel all over my neck. And I didn't know if it was shrapnel or gravel.
And so, when we were able to run across the street, I -- we came upon these four bodies lying, sort of, almost as if they were spooning with their
luggage. And the little boy, the -- I think the daughter or the son with the backpack still on their back. You know, it just was so -- it was almost
vulgar the way that they were killed before our eyes, these very innocent civilians.
And so, you know, once I photograph an image like that, it then goes to "The New York Times". I send it to "The New York Times" and they have to
make the very hard decision of whether to publish that image. And this was a case where I'm so grateful that they were so brave and took the stand to
publish it, knowing that they were civilians deliberately targeted.
SREENIVASAN: Do you think that we should see everything you see, or do you think that --
ADDARIO: Well --
SREENIVASAN: -- we should be shielded a little?
ADDARIO: I don't think that people should see everything that I see, because I see a lot of things that I think most people couldn't process.
But I do think, in a situation like this image, it was not too graphic. It was not too bloody. There was -- it was a situation where I witnessed the
entire event unfolding, so I could give the back story. It was civilians deliberately being targeted on the days when President Putin was saying he
was not targeting civilians.
So, I think the time was essential. I think the fact that I witnessed the runup, and the fact that it wasn't too photographic. Yes, it was a horrible
decision that the paper and that the editors had to make of whether to put an image out before they knew if the family members knew, and before -- you
know, there are -- there's a lot involved in these decisions. But I think, ultimately, everyone agreed, and Sergey (ph), the husband and father of
those two children, and the husband of Tatiana, his wife, agreed that that image needed to be seen. That the world needed to see what was happening in
And so, that also, you know, really helped in terms of justifying our decision. Not that we need justification as journalists. But for me as a
mother, and for me as a wife, and for me as a photographer, it is reassuring to know that he understood exactly why that image was important.
I think one other point that's really important is, you know, I have two kids, I have a 10-year-old and an almost three-year-old. And my 10-year-old
plays very violent video games sometimes that we, obviously, try to stop him from playing. But I think -- and the movies that are out in the public
are so violent and graphic that I, myself as a war photographer, can't watch most of what comes out of Hollywood.
And so, it's interesting to me that those movies are palatable and those video games are acceptable in society, but reality is not. You know, why is
that okay? Why is it okay that we have such a violent society, and we have films and tv shows that are people killing each other left and right. But
the reality no one wants to see. And so, why is that? Because we need to see this reality so we can act on it.
SREENIVASAN: Some of the images that you made in Kyiv that I want to touch on. One is just an incredibly poignant one of, I think two or three
children in a train, and one of them has a teddy bear. And they have very different looks in their eyes. And while you're making that image, when you
just said to me, that you're still -- you know, you're a mom of two, you can see your own children in there. And yet, there are thousands and
thousands of women and children who are getting on these trains and leaving their loved ones behind.
ADDARIO: Yes. I mean, it's -- yes, every single day is just filled with devastation. And, you know, for every one of these families that's being
torn apart. I mean, an image that I keep seeing over and over is a father or a husband saying goodbye to his wife or his partner, and the children.
And putting them on trains and sending them West, because most of the men are staying to fight. Some of the women are staying to fight. But the
immediate -- the immediate sort of goal is to just get your family, get your children to safety. So. most people are just, sort of, throwing
themselves on any train they can get on moving West.
And so, often you see this, sort of, lonely father or a husband just standing on the tracks as the train pulls away, crying, but trying not to
cry because, of course, he -- you know, everyone feels a bit of shame for feeling so emotional. But it's happening every day and you see these lonely
men on the tracks watching their wives and children depart.
SREENIVASAN: You also made an image of, I think, three or four women sitting in a van with rifles, kind of. getting at the ready. And it was
just a different type of faces that were there. But, you know, I looked at that, I didn't see the caption, but these could have been your
schoolteachers, your nurses, you know, CEOs. I don't know. But they didn't look like people who, were by any stretch of the imagination, you know,
ADDARIO: Yes. And they were not. I mean, in fact, we were trying to get access to this base of volunteers. It was in the first few days of the war.
There was this mass mobilization of civilians offering themselves up to fight. And then I saw, as we were waiting for permission to this base, I
saw, sort of a gaggle of women that were maybe six, and they all had guns in their hand, but they were still behind the fence. And we were waiting
and waiting for permission, and finally it came through. But in that time, they were transported to this van.
So, when we got the permission, we ran on to the van, and I started shooting. And then I paused, and I said, you know, do you speak English?
And the woman said, yes. I said, what's your name? My name is, Julia. I'm a teacher. And she started crying. And I was shooting. And I said, why are
you crying? And she said, I'm crying for my country. And I said, are you crying because you're scared? And she said, I'm crying because I'm scared,
but I'm crying for my country.
And you realize, like, you know, the beauty of Ukrainians is that they -- there is no hesitation. They have come out. They believe they've had a
taste of this freedom of democracy. They are out there. There is no turning back. I have not met a single person who doubts giving themselves to this
fight. And it's amazing.
SREENIVASAN: I don't know how long ago it was, but there's a shot that you have of a small child, and it looks like it is in, what looks like maybe a
makeshift cardboard box/crib, in the middle of a subway car? And, you know, this is at a time when people were taking shelter and refuge underground.
And it's just the -- it's sort of staggering to think that there are literally populations that are, at least at one point, headed underground
for physical safety of their families.
ADDARIO: Yes. I mean, there's an entire, you know, entire swaths of the city are living underground right now. And in most major cities across
Ukraine are just -- have just shifted underground, because the bombardment, generally, starts -- not that it's quiet all day, but it definitely
intensifies at certain points throughout the night. And I think a lot of these families just know they're safer underground.
And so yes, you go underground, and people are on the subway platforms, they're in the cars. Babies, children living in on the subway cars in
boxes. It's unbelievable. Because these are people who, you know, three weeks ago were living in a completely, you know, absolutely normal lives.
SREENIVASAN: Yes. To your point aboveground, you have an image of an apartment building that just looks basically shirred off. And you have one,
I want to say a woman that was in the balcony or what was her balcony, just kind of looking around. And you see just all of the apartments around her
are charred probably from the fires that were caused by whatever missile or rocket attack that hit that building. And that doesn't look like it was a
government building by any stretch. It just looks like a residential condo complex.
ADDARIO: No. I mean, residential buildings are being targeted daily now. Every single day for the past, I don't know, four or five days. We wake up,
we hear several apartment buildings that have been targeted. And there's this rhythm of people, you know, thrust awake in the middle of the night
from an attack. Some people are killed. Some people are injured. Collecting whatever belongings, they can. Trying to figure out where they will go next
to sleep, you know, there are children, there are elderly. People being rescued by firemen, emergency workers who are unbelievable. So, it's just
this -- now it's just repeating every single day.
SREENIVASAN: I also wonder how the refugees, that you're seeing today, are perceived and treated by neighboring countries, elsewhere in Europe, versus
some of the other war zones that you've been to where you realize that some of those refugees are not greeted warmly by the neighboring countries,
right? And it --
ADDARIO: I think that's a great point. I think it's a really good point. I mean, I covered the Syrian refugee crisis. I've covered refugees from
Darfur, from South Sudan, from all around the world. I mean, I've -- you know, if you cover conflict, you cover refugees, because it's a byproduct.
It's -- you know, there is no conflict that doesn't have a surge of refugees, because civilians all want to save their lives. And I think it is
heartbreaking. It's as wonderful as it is that the world has come together to stand behind Ukraine and welcome Ukrainians across Europe.
It's -- it is heartbreaking that the same didn't happen for Syrian refugees. That there were not the same open arms. There was not the same
understanding of the devastation of that conflict. And I think that's a very important point. Because you know, no one chooses to be a refugee. No
one chooses to leave his or her home. You know, it doesn't -- people aren't going to seek a better life. They're going to seek safety for their
families, for their children, and to live out of a war zone. And I think it's important for people to use this opportunity to realize that refugees
should be welcomed, particularly if there's ongoing conflict in that country. And it is, you know, it's not their choice to leave their
SREENIVASAN: What keeps you there? What keeps you doing this?
ADDARIO: I know. I mean, you can ask my mother. She keeps asking, when are you coming home? I, you know, I just believe it's so important to witness -
- to bear witness to this, to document, to provide a document to the world of what's happening. You know, it's a great honor to work for "The New York
Times" because it's such an incredible publication that I know is read worldwide. And yes, I just keep thinking that I have more work to do, and I
can do better work, and so I haven't left yet. But, you know, I -- at some point, I'll have to take a break.
SREENIVASAN: How does it affect you when you hear of some of our colleagues who are injured or killed in these places that you're working?
ADDARIO: I mean, when one of us is killed, it affects all of us. I mean, there -- this is a, you know, it's a very tight community of war
correspondents and photographers. And even if we don't know each other, you know, we're all doing the same things here. So, it's -- you know, a lot of
this is luck. I mean, it's, you know, some take more risks than others. But more or less, we're in the same situation, and we've covered the same wars
for the last 20 years.
And I think, you know, we just realize how it could be any one of us. And it's heartbreaking. And, of course, we think, you know, our condolences to
their families and their loved ones and our gratitude for the work that they're doing, because this is collective work. You know, we each do our
part and it creates a picture for the world.
And I think, you know, we need each other's coverage, and it's tragic.
SREENIVASAN: Lynsey Addario of "The New York Times" joining us from Kyiv tonight. Thanks so much for joining us and thanks for your work.
ADDARIO: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: The courage and commitment of Lynsey Addario. And that is it for you.
If you ever miss our show, you can find the latest episodes shortly after it airs on our podcast. On your screen now is a QR code. And all you need
to do is pick up your phone and scan it with the camera. You can also find the podcast at cnn.com/podcast and on all major platforms. Just search
Amanpour. And remember, you can always catch us online on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Thank you for watching and goodbye from London.