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Interview With Pres. Zelenskyy Adviser Ihor Zhovkva; War in Ukraine Escalates; Interview with Former U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Evelyn Farkas; Interview with "Flee" Director Jonas Poher Rasmussen. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired March 21, 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.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): There are lots of people dying on the streets. Dead bodies were lying in the streets.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): Trapped in hell. Russian bombs pound the besieged city of Mariupol, but Ukraine refuses to surrender it.
Then: the heavy cost of resistance, our correspondent on the road to occupy Kherson, as Ukrainians continue their fight back there.
Plus: The NATO powers face a tense balancing act over Putin. Evelyn Farkas, former top Pentagon official, joins me.
JONAS POHER RASMUSSEN, DIRECTOR, "FLEE": Having a home, having someplace where you feel safe, where you don't have people chasing is so crucial.
AMANPOUR: The harrowing trauma for any refugee. Hari Sreenivasan speaks to Jonas Poher Rasmussen, director of the Oscar nominated film "Flee" about
AMANPOUR: Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
Civilians trapped in the besieged city of Mariupol continue to face a hellish reality, as Russia's relentless bombing and shelling ramps up.
Moscow's ultimatum for the city to surrender was rejected by Ukraine. Home to 450,000 people before the war, it's now facing total collapse, with the
dead simply left in the street.
If Russia takes Mariupol, it would have a continuous land corridor, connecting territory it already seized back in 2014 to Russia itself. The
Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, has also come under renewed attack. A Russian missile hit a shopping center, killing at least eight people.
President Biden travels to Brussels for an emergency NATO summit this week, while a senior NATO intelligence officer says the war is approaching a
So is there room for real diplomacy now?
Ihor Zhovkva is deputy head of President Zelenskyy's office, and he's his chief diplomatic adviser. And he's joining me now from Ukraine.
Mr. Zhovkva, welcome to the program.
Can we just talk about Mariupol first? What is the situation there? And how close is it to falling?
IGOR ZHOVKVA, CHIEF DIPLOMATIC ADVISER TO PRESIDENT VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY: Well, first of all, the situation is really terrible as far as the
humanitarian conditions are concerned.
Over -- through several weeks, they are encircling Mariupol, and they managed to encircle it. But, at the same time, practically, throughout all
this time, they were not letting people evacuate from the city. We proposed several times to have humanitarian corridors working established, like it
was agreed during the negotiations, but they were never implemented.
Now people are trying and managing to escape from the city, but they practically do it on their own, sometimes, only by -- even by foot. And
they are being collected by Ukrainian buses and in nearest cities and then taken to safer cities, like Zaporizhzhia and others.
They want all the population to stay in Mariupol and one reason. They want the symbolic surrender and symbolic capitulation of the city. That's why it
was this ultimatum which they did -- which they told us about yesterday, and it was severely rejected.
Previously and every day, day by day, hour by hour, they're bombarding civilian objects. Yesterday, it was an art school where 400 people were
having a shelter. Before that, it was a drama theater where 1,500 people were sheltering. Before that was a maternity hospital. They started to
bombard it from the sea.
So, they want practically to wipe out this city from the map, from the ground. Yes, it's symbolic for them. Yes, it's a part of so-called corridor
they wanted to achieve back from 2014. But they will need to shed the last blood of Ukrainian population, the population of Mariupol, in order to have
They will never capitulate, despite that they're kidnapping the mayors in the neighboring city, despite that they are arresting the people who are
coming at the protests carrying national flag and singing anthem, despite that they forcefully let some people go to the occupied parts of Ukraine
onto the Russia. So, forcefully, they are doing this with the citizens of Mariupol.
Never, ever Mariupol will surrender.
AMANPOUR: Ihor Zhovkva, can I just ask you a humanitarian question first before going to the most strategic one?
You said and we have reported all these civilian areas where children and others were sheltering. Have you rescued everybody? Do you know the
situation? We haven't heard whether everybody's out of, for instance, that place which was clearly marked "Children."
ZHOVKVA: Yes, that -- you mean drama theater.
ZHOVKVA: The situation there was that people were -- were hiding partially in the shelter, but part of them were on the ground floor.
And when the people was -- the building was severely bombarded and ruined, we managed to rescue only 130 women and children, mostly from the shelter.
ZHOVKVA: The whereabouts of rest is still undisclosed, because, I mean, they are bombarding the city, like I tell you, hour by hour. The rescue
teams could not even approach to the side.
And the same goes with our objects. So they fight against not Ukrainian military. They fight against children and women. They fight against
civilians. They bombard civilian objects in all the cities, but Mariupol, for them, is somehow a symbol. And this is a blockade. This is a blockade
they used to have during the World War II in Leningrad.
So now they are repeating the same situation against the city of Mariupol.
AMANPOUR: So, basically, you're saying that there could still be people trapped in that rubble, which would be...
ZHOVKVA: Unfortunately, this is the case, yes.
AMANPOUR: Which would be very, very bad after all these days, obviously.
What is your reaction to a NATO intelligence official basically briefing reporters that it appears to be stalemated in general, certainly in the
north, the stalled attack on Kyiv, et cetera? Clearly, they're really pushing hard for the south to do the strategic hookup that you have just
What is the rest of the situation the battlefield?
ZHOVKVA: Well, in the north around Kyiv, the situation used to be difficult, because they -- really, they try to encircle Kyiv practically
three or four days of the war. They wanted to have a blitzkrieg -- blitzkrieg over Kyiv to conquer the capital and to gain the victory.
They failed. And now, during the 26th day, there are positioning battles around some smaller cities. So, some of them are encircled and captured by
Russian armed forces, but then Ukrainian armed forces manage to make a counterattack and to clear some cities.
I would not name now the names, because the situation changes. But, again, a stalemate, there may be a word which would describe the situation more or
less, because they are running out of manpower. They are running out of their missiles which they use to bombard the outskirts of Kyiv and Kyiv
itself, right you are. Just in the night, the shopping mall was bombarded.
So, if we manage -- if they manage to double or triple the number of their armed forces, they may gain the capital, but for the time being, this is
not the case. They are running out of manpower. So, for them, the victory over Kyiv is far away from possible.
AMANPOUR: Do you -- and are you getting enough help to prevent or to stand against any reinforcement of the type you just said?
ZHOVKVA: Well, Kyiv is well-defended, as far.
As the other big cities which are -- which they wish they want to conquer, like Kharkiv or the city of Odessa in south, they also want to have it. But
they will not manage to have it simultaneously. Again, their forces are running out.
As far as Ukrainian armed forces are concerned, we are having enough manpower. Just to remind you, we are defending our country, we're not
making an offensive.
ZHOVKVA: Plus, really what matters is the equipment, is the military equipment and weapons we are getting from our partners.
This is also very important.
AMANPOUR: So I want to ask you, because you are the president's diplomatic chief diplomatic adviser as well. And he's obviously made a really dramatic
tour of many countries, dialing into their parliaments.
And the latest one was the Israeli Knesset. He seemed to criticize them somewhat for remaining -- quote, unquote -- "neutral," for not sanctioning
I just want to play a little snippet of what he told the Knesset.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): I can only mention that indifference kills and that calculations are often mistaken.
You can mediate between countries, but not between good and evil.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So that seemed to me like a pretty -- a pretty sharp comment. Indifference kills. You cannot mediate between good and evil.
What was he saying? And how important are the mediation efforts of the Israeli prime minister?
ZHOVKVA: Well, the mediation important and meaningful when it ends up with a result. And the result of the mediation, obviously, is the negotiations
or in the end the -- bringing peace to the country.
Yes, we appreciate the efforts of Prime Minister Bennett, but, for the time being, unfortunately, they are without any success.
So you heard my president, who said that, yes, if you are good mediator, you need to have a result. Or if you're hiding your mediation -- or you're
hiding the opposition behind the mediation, it's another story.
Unfortunately, we feel the lack of enough support from Israel to Ukraine. I mean, even sent in like, body armor and helmets is a problem for Israel or
send in hospitals, field hospitals to my country is a problem. Otherwise, or vice versa, they are preventing Ukrainian refugees to come in freely to
the country of Israel.
You understand that we have a huge Jewish community in Ukraine, and some people might want to go to Israel, but they're practically denying every
Ukrainian citizen who doesn't have relatives in Israel to enter the country.
So, yes, my president is saying to Israel people. He was appealing yesterday not only to the government, but to Israeli people. Yes, please be
with us. Please be helpful as soon -- as much as possible. Please introduce sanctions. Please stop regular aviation connections between Moscow and Tel
Aviv. When you say about Russian Jewish community, why don't you think about Ukrainian Jewish community?
Let me ask you again, on a diplomatic level, the Chinese, they seem also to be playing a typical sort of careful game, if I can call it that. Do you
feel that they are -- do you feel that they're -- because they also have a lot of commerce, of ties with Ukraine.
Do you feel that they could be a powerful, successful mediator?
ZHOVKVA: I would tell you even more, China was the biggest trade partner of Ukraine the last year. So, we had a very big trade volume with China.
Yes, China has lots of economic interests in my country. That is why right you are. The position of China now in these times is very important. And we
count on the wisdom of Chinese leadership in this -- in this war against Ukraine.
We do know that Russians appeal to China in order to get some assistance and help. Again, we see that the position of China is rather wise. They are
staying neutral, as they call it. But, again, they are in good economic connections with Russia and are not going to break it, as I understand.
But, yes, being one of the global leaders, the role of China now today is very important. We have our channels of communication with China. Our
foreign minister spoke several days ago. And, yes, communication on the level of leaders of Ukraine and China would be very important.
So, yes, there should be one of the most helpful for us.
AMANPOUR: Mr. Zhovkva, I just want to play a sound bite from the Chinese ambassador to Washington, D.C., speaking to CBS News yesterday, one of the
morning shows on Sunday. This is what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QIN GANG, SPOKESMAN, CHINESE FOREIGN MINISTRY (through translator): Condemnation only doesn't help. We need wisdom. We need wisdom. We need
courage, and we need good diplomacy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So he was saying, we're not going to go out and just condemn Russia, because, otherwise -- I'm just reading into what he says -- that we
probably wouldn't be able to help in the diplomatic vein.
What would you like to see China do practically to try to bring an end to this?
ZHOVKVA: Well, understanding the level of cautiousness from China, we would say that China, again, being one of the wisest countries in the
world, should probably bring some wisdom to President Putin.
No one in the world, China including, does want this conflict, this war to be prolonged. No one, except one country, Russia, wants more Ukrainians to
be killed. No one wants to have genocide against Ukrainians.
Hopefully, Chinese leadership will share their wisdom with the aggressor.
AMANPOUR: And I guess, finally, what are any parameters emerging round these so-called negotiations between the two delegations?
Are they actually making progress or, as some, like the United States, for instance, fear, that it is just a device by Russia to string Ukraine along
to show that they're actually negotiating, while they may be reinforcing or whatever? I don't know.
Do you get the sense that these negotiations are actually serious?
ZHOVKVA: Well, at the beginning, we thought so. We reached some agreements, like on the humanitarian corridors, for instance.
But then, once -- when those agreements were not delivered, and when they started to drag on, to play with the time, it seems to be the case. They
thought that their victories on the ground will let them be stronger in their negotiation positions. For the time being, they have no major
victories on the ground.
So, yes, the experts may be right saying that they're starting -- they're trying to prolong the time, to drag on, in order to get some more
But the only serious negotiations can be only on the level of presidents. My president, like he said several times, reiterated, is ready for a
dialogue with President Putin, possibly with the participation of other foreign leaders? Why not? Why not U.S. president or some other leaders?
But, please, let's, all us together, make all efforts to put President Putin on the negotiation table. Otherwise, I mean, that's the continuation
of the war, and not only in Ukraine, unfortunately.
AMANPOUR: Well, yes, I mean, I hear what you're saying, that you think that it might be broadened beyond Ukraine.
AMANPOUR: What do you expect for the NATO summit? President Biden's coming to Brussels. He will go to Poland. Would do you -- what would you like to
see come out of that? What do you expect?
ZHOVKVA: Well, we wish him to come to Ukraine. But, unfortunately, this is not the case this time.
We are thankful to the U.S. president for the level of assistance he is now rendering, really, really. This is a clear sign of support, not only
politically, not only by words, but in terms of military equipment, in terms of weapons and ammunition, in terms of sanctions. U.S. are very good
and swift in making immediate sanctions to Russia, because immediate sanctions is what mattered.
As far as NATO is concerned, the demand is well-known from Ukraine, is the no-fly zone, or at least partially no-fly zone over parts of Ukraine,
humanitarian no-fly zone.
Unfortunately, again, this is not the case. But in this case, we have the demands which also can be satisfied, where I'm talking about anti-missile
warfare system, anti-aircraft warfare systems, fighter jets. And this is where the political position, the political will of the U.S. is -- matters.
We do know which countries do possess this weapon. But, sometimes, they look at the U.S., they look at the position. They try -- they start to play
Again, the will and courage of U.S. president is what matters now.
AMANPOUR: We really appreciate you joining us.
Ihor Zhovkva, thank you so much, indeed.
Now, Russia's relentless attacks have pummeled the southern city of Kherson, and they have occupied it for about two weeks now, but it is the
only city that Moscow controls nearly a month since the invasion began.
Correspondent Nick Paton Walsh got rare access to the front line, as Ukrainian forces fight to retake Kherson.
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR (voice-over): This is what the slow route of Russia in southern Ukraine looks like.
Kyiv's forces are pushing close to Kherson, the first city the Kremlin took.
(on camera): Here, so many people being evacuated day by day, and the eerie quiet in contrast to these impacts we see all around in the fields,
just constant barrage over the past days.
(voice-over): The bus is the last way out of here, going from door to what is left of every door.
The village of Posad Pokrovsky has been Ukraine's last position for days. And so this is what Russia left of it. The noise is the village gas main
leaking furiously. Putin's war of annihilation was sure not to overlook this school, its front torn off by a missile.
It is hard to imagine life returning here, even when the shelling stops, which just now it has not. We run down for cover. The marines here are
mobile, pushing forwards where they can, Kherson's nearby airport their prize.
DANIYEL SALEM, FORMER LEBANESE SOLDIER: Now we have a little mission...
WALSH: You're on your way to the airport?
SALEM: ... to kill the mother (EXPLETIVE DELETED).
WALSH: Daniyel is a former Lebanese soldier working in TV, married to a Ukrainian.
SALEM: Two weeks ago, this place had life, and now nothing.
WALSH: The bus has filled with anyone left who wants to leave, anyone who can move themselves. We are asked to take those who cannot...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go, go, go, go.
WALSH: ... and who remember the last time war came to Europe.
As we leave, shelling hits the village. It had become a deathbed riddled with cluster munition mines, this man said.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Civilians. They killed all the civilians. These are bastards, reptiles, parasites. They don't fight
troops. They fight people. Worse than the fascists. Yes, worse, worse.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I remember how the Germans attacked us. They didn't mess with us like this.
WALSH: Over days, the road out of there has been fought over, its pockmarked concrete lined with these tiny, peaceful worlds ripped open.
This woman was in Poland when Russians took her hometown, Kherson, where her children are.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I need to go home.
WALSH: Nicholai can't really hear the blast at his age, but sent his wife to live with his daughter in the city. He has stayed to protect whatever
they have left.
Shelling hits the road out again. And we drive past the earth Putin shells have happily scorched as his army slowly loses whatever ground here it
gained, Ukraine's guns pushing them back.
But Moscow imposes a cost, these barracks torn in two, reduced to rubble by missile strikes that killed dozens of Ukrainian soldiers, some as they
slept Friday morning in one of the worst known losses of the war.
This trauma unit struggles with some of the 40 injured.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Girls, I need the anesthetist here!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Where are my people? Yaroslav?
WALSH: One soldier asking for his friends by name.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Varya?
WALSH: Not all injuries involve blood. This soldier was in bed on the third floor when the blast hit, and he found himself on the second with
both legs smashed, losing consciousness.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We know the enemy. In the end, the world must see and hear this. I don't know. How many deaths will it take
for everyone to see?
WALSH: That night, the Kremlin's blunt force hits another target around Mykolaiv. Moscow may be losing ground here, but does all it can to crush
and stifle what it cannot have.
AMANPOUR: President Zelenskyy continues to plead with NATO leaders to implement a no-fly zone over his country, as you heard from his deputy head
of office just a few minutes ago.
But the U.S. and other major powers have so far ruled that out, as they seek to avoid a wider war with even greater bloodshed. Meanwhile, the
escalating deaths of civilians does ramp up pressure on Western leaders, especially the United States, to do more to rein Putin in.
Evelyn Farkas is the former deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia under President Obama. And she's joining me now
Evelyn Farkas, welcome back to the program.
I don't know whether you heard President Zelenskyy's chief diplomatic adviser. But he was talking about the -- I mean, just the horrible
conditions in Mariupol. We don't even know how many people are still buried under the rubble of those civilian structures that were bombed over the
last several days.
What kind of -- you're in Washington. You have got the defense on one hand, but you have got public opinion on the other hand. What kind of pressure is
this putting on the president?
EVELYN FARKAS, FORMER DEFENSE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Yes, well, thanks for having me on again, Christiane.
The pressure, of course, is immense, because what we have is a situation where the Ukrainian population is being targeted by the Russians, because,
of course, their effort on the land has stalled. And they're violating the Geneva Conventions. Human rights violations are all over the place.
As you say, they targeted these buildings, and there may be civilians now being buried alive, unfortunately. And so, for President Biden, though he
just authorized another tranche of military support to be sent to Ukraine, about $800 million worth of it, including some very important weaponry,
more Javelin missiles for hitting tanks, more Stingers for hitting lower flying aircraft, and then maybe some S-300s, which could address the
higher-altitude threats coming at the Ukrainian civilians.
But all of this has to happen very quickly because, of course, every minute we waste or every minute that goes by is a minute that more lives are being
taken. So that's the real pressure on President Biden.
AMANPOUR: And just from a U.S. perspective, you heard us talk about the strategic value of Mariupol.
What is it, in your view?
FARKAS: Well, it's important, clearly, because what the Russians want to do is create a corridor from the Donbass region, which is close to Russia,
of course. They want to link that all the way to Crimea, so they have a corridor that -- where they can go without having to go through, transit
through Ukrainian territory.
So, if they capture Mariupol, I suppose that will be something of a gain for them. But, frankly, Christiane, as we have seen week after week,
they're not very good, the Russians, that is, at holding these areas. Even Kharkiv, where they ostensibly are in control, the Ukrainian people are not
succumbing to the authority -- to any new authority there.
And so they will have to be constantly looking over their backs. They don't have enough troops to secure the area. So I think President Putin is still
counting on the Ukrainians capitulating, and, as we know, as you have reported all day, that President Zelenskyy is not in a mood to surrender.
AMANPOUR: From what from your position in the Pentagon specifically to dealing with Russia, Eurasia, Ukraine, why do you think Russia got it so
FARKAS: Well, it's a combination of intelligence failures. So, clearly, the intel the heads of intelligence were telling President Putin what he
wanted to hear, or maybe they misunderstood the mood in Ukraine, that the Ukrainian people are truly nationalistic.
And, also, they underestimated what the West has done in terms of arming and training the Ukrainian military these last eight years. So there was an
element of miscalculation. There was an element of hubris. Clearly, President Putin, though he massed a lot of forces, it still wasn't
if you remember the time in the run-up to the actual invasion of Ukraine, the Ukrainian officials actually were saying, no, this isn't really war
because they don't have enough troops. So the mass was never there. And whatever mass they had, they then divided. And what I mean by that is, the
number of troops they had, they divided.
And so they weren't attacking from one area, which looked like that they could win coming from different sides. But now, in retrospect, it looks
like it wasn't a good idea. And then, of course, they have logistics problems, communication problems.
So all of the modernization that they spent on fancy weapons like that hypersonic missile and other doomsday weapons they have come up with,
oddly, they omitted the real lessons of their botched attempt at gaining more territory in 2008 in Georgia, though they still have some territory
there, but they wanted to get more. And their logistics and communication problems at that time got in the way.
It seems, all this time later, they haven't changed anything. I mean, they still have those problems.
AMANPOUR: So, given the Putin's demands don't seem to have changed at all according, to his interlocutors from abroad, according to his own people,
it is still denazification, demilitarization neutrality, and, by the way, global acceptance of the occupied territories that are already seized.
Given that, what do you think is the Russian plan B, if you agree with the NATO intelligence briefing that is given to some reporters that it looks
like if we're not at a stalemate right now, we're fast approaching it because of Russian's stalled offensives?
FARKAS: Well, Christiane, I'm worried here, because, as you know from covering wars in the Balkans and elsewhere, if both sides still think they
can win, you're looking at more war.
And that's the case with Putin and with the Ukrainians. Certainly, the Ukrainians don't want to surrender and the Russians still think they can
win. And plan B, unfortunately, could involve use of chemical weapons. That is what the Russians did in Syria. They have not comported themselves any
differently in their neighboring country with their fellow Slavs.
So, unfortunately, I think we have to be really on the lookout for them potentially using chemical weapons. And then, of course, the pressure you
mentioned before on President Biden increases exponentially. What will we do then?
And that's why we shouldn't take things off the table, like humanitarian no-fly zones or providing other kinds of equipment.
AMANPOUR: OK, so what is that? What is a humanitarian no-fly zone that does not involve the NATO allies having to take out the air defenses, which
are based in Russia?
FARKAS: Right. So...
AMANPOUR: What is a humanitarian and no-fly zone that doesn't do that?
So, a regular military no-fly zone does require you to take out anything you see on the ground that could threaten your aircraft or your no-fly
But if you have a humanitarian no-fly zone, you either come -- you have an agreement with the other side, with the Russians that they won't fire those
artillery pieces, that they won't use that weaponry so we won't target it. And therefore, the civilians could transit there safely. And we could bring
in resupply. And you have to trust the Russians. That is, of course, a tricky proposition.
The other -- there's a third variant, which is a humanitarian no-fly zone where you don't get the Russians to agree ahead of time on the no-fly zone
component, but they've already agreed to a corridor. And so, you say, and we're going to go in and enforce the corridor. Again, these are risky
things, Christian. I'm not advocating for them today. But I don't think they should be taken off the table, because at a certain point, if we're
looking at a potential calamitous genocide -- you know, genocide or quasi genocide, use of chemical weapons, I don't think the international
community can stop and do nothing.
Then we have to assume more risk and we may have to put aircraft in. And again, hope or dare the Russians. It won't result in automatic nuclear war.
So, I think we shouldn't be too alarmist about it. But again, it's nothing we want to do unless we're forced to. So, that's why it's really important
to get more weapons into Ukraine as fast as possible, S-300s and other items that can help deflect and eliminate the air component of this war.
AMANPOUR: OK. So, let's just take the second part of that, get as many weapons in as possible. The U.S. clearly seems to be really trying to
manage this and thread this needle really, really carefully. Everything they give, not to be a direct threat to Russia. In other words, not to
provoke them. But we've already heard Sergey Lavrov say that, you know, we might decide or we have decided that arms convoys and the like, you know,
are an act of war and we'll do something about it.
Just describe to us whether it's possible to continue this, to continue Ukraine -- sorry, helping Ukraine defend itself by threading this needle
FARKAS: Well, I -- so, here's the thing. I hate the word provoking Russia. If anyone is being provocative, it's Russia. Russia chose this war and
Russia chose to slaughter innocent Ukrainians in this fashion. So, they are clearly the provocateurs.
Now, there is a question of escalation, and yes, I like that word better. We don't want to escalate. We don't want to do something that would cause
Russia to escalate, and we don't want to escalate the situation. Having said that, we can't be so afraid of escalation that we rule out things that
might actually help the Ukrainians. So, we need to really assess the risk carefully. But we need to be willing to accept some risk, because,
Christiane, if we lose in Ukraine, if the Ukrainians lose, Vladimir Putin, if he has enough strength to go and do anything else, he'll turn to Georgia
and take Georgia. Take control of Georgia. He'll turn to Moldova and take control of Moldova, and then, he will challenge NATO. He will try to break
NATO. He will challenge our democracy. He's not going to stop unless he's stopped in Ukraine.
AMANPOUR: Evelyn, the leaders of the major European powers in the United States president just had a call ahead of the NATO Summit, which is coming
up this week in Brussels. And they have reaffirmed their unity and their shoulder to shoulder in exactly what you're saying, in standing up to this
threat, which is Ukraine, but it's a wider threat, obviously.
Firstly, what do you expect to come out of this summit? What can come out of this summit that's meaningful?
FARKAS: Yes. I mean, it's a very good question. Hopefully, more assistance to Ukraine. Economic, military. I do find it interesting that the polls
have this idea for a peace-keeping operation. Again, I think all options should be considered. All options should be on the table.
I'm really disappointed, frankly, in the United Nations. I understand that the Security Council, you know, includes Russia. So, there are some limits
to what the United Nations can do. But the General Assembly voted 141 countries to condemn what Russia is doing in Ukraine today. So, I think the
United Nations should be called upon to do more certainly on a humanitarian front.
And so, NATO should also call on the United Nations. I think NATO needs to make sure that S-300s and other critical military pieces of equipment get
over to Ukraine as fast as possible. Frankly, I would also give them the MiG fighters. I don't know the background there of why they got -- they
didn't -- they were eliminated in terms of their feasibility or their -- they were considered it wasn't -- it was a term the Pentagon use the for
it, it wasn't doable.
The reality is it's doable. For some reason it was deemed undoable. But I think we should continue -- go ahead.
AMANPOUR: No, no. It was because they didn't want it to come from a NATO country. Then they said, well, maybe the Ukrainians can't even fly them.
So, there was all going on. But clearly it was, as you said, not to provoke -- you know, not to provoke the Russians. But the humanitarian thing is
very interesting. Because in Bosnia, we did have that. U.N. mandated. It was called UNPROFOR. They created an airlift to bring in, you know, food
and supplies to besieged cities like Sarajevo. That is something that could happen, but it would, as you say, probably have to be approved by Russia,
which is pretty unlikely.
FARKAS: Yes. Unfortunately, we've reached the point where it's unlikely, but I think we have to continue putting these options on the table. I mean,
the one thing I fear is that we will have talked ourselves out of all options, and then we will have to watch, witness on television, you know, a
horrendous slaughter by the Russian government.
AMANPOUR: Well, we're witnessing it now. We're witnessing it in Mariupol. You know, it's like Srebrenitsa. Yes.
AMANPOUR: Evelyn, I wish we could go on, because, you know what, you were an officially in the Obama administration, and many people say, you know,
not crossing the redline then than one was set was yet another green light to Putin. And there's just so much one can talk about, having not stood up
to his previous military adventures around the world.
Evelyn Farkas, thank you so much, indeed.
FARKAS: Thanks, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: Now, the United Nations says 10 million Ukrainians have fled their homes either internally displaced or across borders. It seems an age
ago now, but only seven months ago NATO pulled out of Afghanistan. It fell to the Taliban. And over 300,000 became refugees and many more are trying
Indeed, wars have forced Afghans to plea for the past 40 years. Now, there's an animated movie called "Flee" about a young man called Amin and
his journey to Denmark. And it's won three Oscar nominations. The Danish director Jonas Poher Rasmussen talks with Hari Sreenivasan about his film
and the similarities and also the stark differences with today's European refugees.
HARI SREENIVASAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Christiane, thanks. Jonas Poher Rasmussen, thank you for joining us.
First, for people who might not have heard of or seen the film, give us kind of a nutshell summary, if you can.
JONAS POHER RASMUSSEN, DIRECTOR, "FLEE": So, "Flee" is an animated documentary about a very different man who I met when I was 15 and he was
16. And he arrived to my Danish hometown all by himself from Afghanistan and stayed in foster care family, just around the corner from where I
And I was, of course, already been thinking, curious about how and why he had come, but he didn't want to talk about it. And this story kind of
became this black box in our friendship and within him. And it stayed like that until nine years ago when he finally started talking about it. And
that's what you see in the film.
SREENIVASAN: And so, when was that moment where you figured out that not only is this good for a film, but there's just been this huge part of your
friend's life that you've never known?
RASMUSSEN: I knew all along that there was a huge part of his life that I didn't know anything about, because I had asked him, and he just didn't
want to talk about it. But if it was going to be a film, you know, that was a process of him starting to open up. And slowly, you know, I would
experience his testimony and see, OK, oh, my God, this is -- he went through so many things in his childhood and his youth that he hadn't told
anyone, and here also, I have it, and he helped to, you know, make it into an animated film.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Where is your father? Can we just talk about we start?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Yes, of course."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Some things are to talk about. It's still tough, but I need to come to terms with them. It's my past, I
can't run away from it, and I don't want to. I might be ready in half a year, a year.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Of course. We'll take it at your pace.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SREENIVASAN: My question is why decide to do this as an animated film?
RASMUSSEN: Just different reasons. You know, one thing was what your hand of thumb is Amin telling these stories for the very first time, and it's --
you know, it's his life trauma and these things are not easy for him to talk about.
So, he wasn't able to be, you know, in the public eye with these stories. So, the fact that he could be anonymous behind the animation was really
what enabled him to start opening up. But also, you know, it's a story that mostly takes place in the past. So, how do you make the past come back to
live? And here, the animation was really a good tool to kind of revitalize his childhood at home and (INAUDIBLE) in the '80s and Moscow in the '90s.
And also, it's really sort of about memory and trauma. And with the animation, we could really go into these experiences, these very traumatic
experiences and be a lot more expressive and surreal about these things where, you know, it's not about what things look like what happened, it's
about the emotion he has inside and what the animation would really go into that.
SREENIVASAN: And we've witnessing refugee outflows from Syria for the past several years as people try to cross the Mediterranean. Here in this film,
there's a scene that I want to play here of the family getting on a boat that should not be holding as many people to try to go cross the Baltic
Sea. Let's take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): So, you're bailing out water in the pouring rain.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We need to keep bailing it out, because it keeps getting in. The boat doesn't even have a radio. So, we
can't call for help. No one knows how to swim either. I think it would have been easier if it was just me. My mother was terrified. Whenever she talked
about death, she always mentioned water. Dying in water, drowning was her worse nightmare.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): What's going through your head?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Who do I save first, if the boat goes down?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SREENIVASAN: When he was telling you about what it was like on that boat, what he was going through, was that a particularly emotional and traumatic
event for him to retell?
RASMUSSEN: It was. It really was, and you can also sense it in the scene in a sequence that, you know, things start to kind of stop making sense to
him, you know? He's on that boat with his mother and there's so much going on, and the ship is sinking and he's there. He's been a young teenager and
he's thinking like, who do I save? But he that knows he can't swim, you know,
But things just don't make any sense anymore, and that's kind of where we - - like, we could use the animation really to just kind of show these experiences of where we (INAUDIBLE) kind of collapses and you're just kind
of inside a very traumatic experience. And it was definitely very difficult for him to talk about and it was also hard, you know, for me being a friend
sitting next to him and listening to these stories.
SREENIVASAN: There's also a lot of layers of just plain old power dynamics at work, throughout the different societies he's inhabiting, throughout the
transit that he's going through, whether it's corrupt police officers or, you know, institutions like passport control, et cetera, the amount of
power that comes with a tiny piece of paper, whether you have this piece of paper or not, and what kinds of rights and privileges you're afforded as
you cross these invisible lines.
RASMUSSEN: Yes. And, you know, I mean, he's been through all this in an -- at an age where, you know, having a home, having someplace where you feel
safe, where you don't have people chasing you, you know, is so crucial. But he didn't have that. And to always feel unsafe in this very kind of
formative years has really impacted him in such a profound way. And, you know, he's been afraid for many, many years afterwards, and carried these
things around with him ever since.
SREENIVASAN: He also seemed to have, at least in portions of the film, a layer of kind of almost survivor's guilt, that look at what my brother has
done for me. Look at what these other people have done, and should I allow myself the freedom to enjoy something?
RASMUSSEN: Yes. And that's very prominent, and I think especially, you know, with what happened in Afghanistan and somewhere else and what's going
on in Ukraine right now, to see that, you know, millions and millions of people are experiencing the same things he did, like the sense of guilt is
always there, and it is difficult for him to enjoy certain things, and there's always this kind of this voice in his head saying, you should be
able to do something more to help people, do something else, because there were people who helped you out. Your family helped you out. So, it's always
there. It's always going to be there.
SREENIVASAN: How much do you think that the difficulty he had crossing from Afghanistan, concealing his geographic and national identity fused
with concealing that he was gay? I mean, it seems like there were so many layers of secrets that this young man had to keep.
RASMUSSEN: No, but I think they're very -- they kind of mirror each other, those two stories, you know, of him always having to hide parts of himself,
you know, having to flee parts of himself, not being able to be honest. You know, when you keep secrets, you tend to keep people at a certain distance.
And because you're afraid of getting exposed. And when you keep people in the distance, it's difficult to like create close connections. And I think
it's so important for human beings to have close connections. So, it's -- I think those stories are totally aligned.
SREENIVASAN: As Kabul fell, and you saw this massive exodus of Afghans again, what went through Amin's mind or what have you been talking about?
RASMUSSEN: No, but we were in touch all the time at that point and he was very affected by it. You know, he still had relatives in Kabul at the time.
So, of course, that. But also just being reminded of his own journey again and seeing a new generation of Afghans getting pushed out of the country
and probably having to go through the same limbo he was in and not being able to choose their own path in life. It affected him profoundly.
SREENIVASAN: Now, there's a scene that when they're, well, not quite rescued, but basically the equivalent of a cruise liner shows up next to
the rickety boat they're on, and you see the passengers there taking photos and looking at them, but there's this moment where once their fate has been
sort of decided that they'll be sent back to Estonia or the Estonian border patrol is going to come for them, that those tourists just kind of walk
away from the rails.
I wonder if we aren't those passengers on this cruise ship as we see these images over and over again for the past several years of migrants crossing
on boats across the Mediterranean or elsewhere.
RASMUSSEN: No, but totally, and I felt the same one when Amin told me that story, you know, I felt like being one of those -- the tourists on the
cruise ship, and it really crystallizes the situation of refugees on the second boat and kind of the West, you know, on the cruise ship sailing by.
And I really hope, you know, right now, it's wonderful to see how the West and Europe kind of brought us open and arms and hearts opened to the
Ukrainian refugees, and I hope this is going to be a general change in how we perceive refugees in the future, if they're from Ukraine or Afghanistan
or Syria or wherever people are in need of help and in need of a place to go home.
SREENIVASAN: I'm careful how I say this, not to take away from any of the trauma that the Ukrainian refugees are going through right now and that --
in any way diminish how other countries receive them. But I wonder also if Amin, yourself and others noticed the difference in how the world is
perceiving refugees from Ukraine versus the refugees that are fleeing everywhere else? You know, that there's kind of maybe -- I don't know how
it is. Is it a different perception of humanity, their humanity and ours?
RASMUSSEN: I think there's something about when it feels like it's in your backyard. I think people relate to it more. But they shouldn't, of course.
You know, its universal story, and just to understand how alike we are in the -- from -- if you're from Ukraine or the Middle East, or Myanmar, you
know, it's kind of -- people are -- have the same needs, hopes and dreams for the future, and hope for having a home. Wanting to feel safe no matter
where they come from.
And so, I really hope that because -- you know, to try to see right now in Ukraine and a new surge of refugees coming there and to see how people open
their doors to that, I hope it's going to change people's perspective on. OK. But this is -- you know, we are fellow human beings, we're all
connected and we need to help each other
SREENIVASAN: Yes. I mean, you know, it's -- you juxtapose the hardships that Amin and his family went through to try to cross into a border, and
you see these amazing and wonderful and heartfelt stories about Ukrainian nationals going into Poland and being met with open arms. And even today,
you see there are some stories -- there was one in the New York Times recently about kind of two different refugees. One from Sudan in Ukraine,
another one from Ukraine, was Ukrainian, trying to get into Poland and how difficult and how different the processes were and how they were treated.
RASMUSSEN: Yes. And, you know, it's -- I don't know what to say to that really, you know. It becomes very obvious what it is, you know. And I just
-- I really hope that -- because what's going on with how people accept refugees from Ukraine right now is so wonderful, you know, and I hope that
people understand that we need to do this to every refugee.
SREENIVASAN: How is Amin now? I mean, as you watch the film, you realize that his family exists, but they're all split up. Have they stayed apart?
RASMUSSEN: Yes. You know, they all have different stories. They have to stick to. So, they all kind of live different lives. And, you know, it's so
many years ago now. So, now, to have their separate lives in different countries, but they do meet up, you know. They can meet up and do
celebrate, you know, birthdays and weddings and what not.
And you know, Amin is in a good place now. He succeeded in building a good life for himself and his husband and his family, and he's -- all these
things, he will, of course, always carry around, and it would always affect him, but he feels safe now and he's in a good place
SREENIVASAN: How do you get people who are watching this film not to take for granted that we are probably watching this in a safe place? That we --
that there are so many people who are struggling just to have a sense of home?
RASMUSSEN: I think, you know, what I want to see with this film is really for people to understand that you shouldn't take this for granted. That
there are people around the world who don't have that and who are looking for it. So, for me, I think the act of sharing Amin's story, first of all,
for Amin to share his story and for people to get a nuanced idea of what the refugee experience is and to understand how important it is to have a
sense of belonging, of a sense of -- a place in the world where you can be who you are with everything it entails.
Because, you know, "Flee," is, of course, about physical fight, going from Afghanistan to Denmark, but it's about a guy who always had to flee parts
of himself, you know, being young and gay in Afghanistan, he couldn't be openly so, and then, arriving in Denmark, and he couldn't be honest about
his past. So, he always had to, you know, flee parts of himself.
So, the fact, you know, that this is a story about finding home, finding a place in the world where you can be who you are, with everything, with your
sexuality, with your past and everything else, I think it's quite universal story and something that most people can relate to.
SREENIVASAN: You know, here we are right now seeing these people from Ukraine fleeing by any means possible, by foot, by car, often just taking
the clothes on their backs and maybe a couple of items. As you watch this film of these traumatized families, how do you think that these experiences
are going to be affecting them five years out, 10 years out? Because as you show in this film, this is a 30-yearlong story, and the central character
is still living with it for most of his life.
RASMUSSEN: I really think it depends on how they are received. You know, if they are received with open arms and feel like they are welcomed, I
think there's a possibility for them to share and heal. You know, "Flee" is really a story about, you know, listening and sharing and healing, and if
people are welcomed with open arms, allowed to be themselves and allowed to share their experiences, I think there's a pathway to kind of move on. I
think that's really crucial.
SREENIVASAN: Jonas Poher Rasmussen, director of the film "Flee," which is Oscar nominated, thank you for joining us.
RASMUSSEN: Thanks for having me.
AMANPOUR: And it's really important. Who knows when any of us are going to find ourselves in this kind of situation, and the kindness that's being
shown to refugees certainly from Ukraine really we hope it spreads around the world to refugees from all the wars who are fleeing.
And finally, in her first public appearance since being freed last week from six years of detention in Iran, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe walked to
parliament here in Britain with her family wearing bright blue and yellow in solidarity with Ukraine. She was eventually freed from Iran after
Britain $526 million debt dating back to the 1970s.
Visibly delighted to be out, but also unafraid to voice her frustration with the successive British governments for the delay in securing her
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NAZANIN ZAGHARI-RATCLIFFE, BRITISH-IRANIAN AID WORKER: I was told many, many times that, oh, we're going to get you home. That never happened. So,
there was a time that I felt, like do you know what? I'm not even going to trust you, because I have been told many, many times I'm going to be taken
home, but that never happened. I mean, how many foreign secretaries does it take for someone to come home? Five? It should have been one of them
eventually. So, now, here we are. What's happened now should have happened six years ago.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British-Iranian aid worker, she was accused of plotting against the government in Teheran which, of course, she
denies. She thanked her husband for his tireless campaign to free her. And spoke of finally reuniting with her now eight-year-old daughter, Gabriella.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ZAGHARI-RATCLIFFE: Lots of catching up. It was lovely to -- you know, to get to hold her, to braid her hair and to brush her hair. That was a moment
that I really, really missed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And now, the process of family healing can begin. All of this around the Novruz Holiday, the Persian and Afghan New Year.
That is it for now. Remember, you can always catch us online, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Thank you for watching and good-bye from London.