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Interview With Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-MI); Interview With Ukrainian Ambassador to the European Union Vsevolod Chentsov; Interview With European Council President Charles Michel; ; Interview with Resolve to Save Lives President and CEO Dr. Tom Frieden. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired March 23, 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.
CHARLES MICHEL, PRESIDENT, EUROPEAN COUNCIL: We must make sure that Putin will be defeated. It must be the common goal.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): European Council President Charles Michel promises a united front and a clear goal against Vladimir Putin. My interview, as
President Biden heads to Europe.
Then, Ukraine's ambassador to the E.U. weighs in on whether the allies are doing enough to help them stop this onslaught.
REP. ELISSA SLOTKIN (D-MI): I do think people are moved by the conflict. They're moved by the struggle of the Ukrainian people. But I also think
they want to know that their government has a plan.
AMANPOUR: With Europe and the United States having to weigh economic pain on Putin and their own people, U.S. Representative Elissa Slotkin joins me,
calling for the most aggressive push possible to help Ukrainians.
DR. THOMAS FRIEDEN, FORMER DIRECTOR, CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION: We see it happening in other parts of the world, and, somehow,
we think it's not going to come here.
The CDC Director Tom Frieden tells Walter Isaacson the next COVID wave is already on its way.
AMANPOUR: Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in Brussels.
And President Joe Biden is on his way here for emergency summit meetings with NATO heads of state, the European Union and the G7. Biden plans to
highlight allied unity, as leaders wrestle with what more they can do to deter Vladimir Putin.
Now, before leaving for Europe, President Biden warned of the real threat of Russian escalation using chemical, biological, or even tactical nuclear
weapons on the battlefield.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Now, Putin's back is against the wall. He wasn't anticipating the extent or strength of our unity. And
the more his back is against the wall, the greater severity of the tactics he may employ.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: There's a very, very huge worry, and it's very rare for an American president to be invited to join a gathering of E.U. leaders.
But that won't stop Joe Biden from urging them on, European allies, to accelerate their energy independence, even while some call for a pause to
assess the effect of the current sanctions.
Now, host and European Council President Charles Michel tells me the tactic is to impose intelligent sanctions that hurt Russia more than they hurt
Europe. And he says the ultimate goal is to defeat Vladimir Putin.
AMANPOUR: President Charles Michel, welcome to the program.
MICHEL: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: So this is an extraordinary summit, and you're welcoming the president of the United States.
We know that he wants to urge allies to strengthen the sanctions against Russia. Will that happen at the summit?
MICHEL: We have decided unprecedented sanctions against Russia together with United States, Canada, United Kingdom.
It's the first package of sanctions. And to be concrete, we are targeting oligarchs. We are targeting the economic sectors in Russia, the financial
sector in Russia. And, of course, we are ready to see what we need to do in order to strengthen the pressure against Russia.
But, to be clear, we do not have exactly the same situation in Europe and in the United States. Let me give you one example. The oil or the gas
sector, for instance, we are much more dependent in Europe, in comparison with the situation in the United States.
It's why we must be intelligent. The goal is to target Russia,. The goal is to be painful against Russia. The goal is not to be painful for ourselves.
And it is important for us at the European Union level to protect our economic strength, our economic power. This is the key condition in order
to be able to support Ukraine and to take painful measures against Russia.
AMANPOUR: Can you do that? Can you, as they say, thread that needle?
MICHEL: I have the impression that, of course, we will have the debate with the 27 European leaders.
But I feel that all the European leaders, they understand that what we are facing today is so, so, so important for the future. And we built this
European Union project after the World War II in order to make this promise, peace and prosperity.
And with this war launched by Russia against Ukraine, peace and prosperity are put into danger by Russia.
AMANPOUR: On this business of sanctions, the tricky one is energy.
The U.S. and the U.K. have taken much more hard decisions than Europe has. We understand, precisely because of what you're saying -- you're much more
dependent. Probably a mistake now, in hindsight; 40 percent of your energy comes from Russia.
They potentially want to do a pause in these sanctions. Is that going to be allowed, a pause to see how it's working?
MICHEL: Well, I think that this is true that we are too much dependent on Russian gas. And we do not have -- we have not discovered this weakness a
few weeks ago.
This is why we took the decision a few years ago to launch what we called the Green Deal. This is also the way to be less dependent in the future.
And, by the way, we do not have many gas feeds on our European Union soil.
I will give you another example, because energy is important, but the dual- use components for the military equipment, for instance, we would like to have this debate and to see if it's possible to strengthen the measures
against Russia in order to make sure that we don't provide to the Russian government, to the Russian army the components that they need in order to
use military treatment against Ukraine. It's another concrete topic.
And it shows that we must be effective, we must be concrete in order to have tangible effects as soon as possible.
AMANPOUR: So, no dual-use military components.
But, as you can see, even your tough sanctions, the unprecedented sanctions that the world has put on Russia, has not yet changed the Kremlin's
calculus. We had the spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, very close confidant to President Putin, on the program last night, who said that it's going
according to plan, maybe a little slower. We haven't finished yet, i.e., we're going to continue this military offensive, and repeating the
So it hasn't affected their calculation yet.
MICHEL: Yes, one first element, we don't think that, in fact, it is going like they thought when they decided to launch the war.
I will give you a few examples. They probably thought that Ukraine would be defeated in a few hours or in a few days. It's not the case. Ukraine is
resisting. Probably, they thought that the E.U. would be immediately divided, and that you -- we would not be able to take united decisions.
This was also a mistake.
Probably, they would have thought that the United States and the E.U., we would not be able to be exactly on the same page and to strengthen this
It means that what's important, we must make sure that Putin will be defeated. It must be the common goal. This is a question of security for
the future of Europe and for the future of the world. We have two tools, Christiane. And the two tools we have in our hands, on the one hand, is the
That's why it's paramount to support, as much as possible, the Ukrainian authorities with military support, with humanitarian support, with funding
Two examples. We have proposed, I have proposed to launch a trust fund solidarity with Ukraine in order to make sure that Ukraine has the money
they need urgently in order to resist and in order to run the country in those challenging times for them, point one.
And, point two, we have the sanctions that we can decide and that we have decided. And it's why we are cooperating, we are coordinating. Coming back
to the energy sector, it's paramount for us at the European Union level to coordinate with the United States and with some other friends in the world
in order to be less dependent on Russian gas as soon as possible, because, by being less dependent, it means that we protect the European market, we
protect the European economic strength.
And this is fundamental in order for us to be a loyal, a strong partner for all our allies.
AMANPOUR: Just quickly, this summit, will it announce more and stronger sanctions or not?
MICHEL: We will discuss.
I do not intend to have the debate today only with you.
MICHEL: It's a pleasure to have to the debate with you. But we will discuss this all the -- but the global mood, the global trend is, we want
to be serious. We want to take strong decisions.
But, at the same time, you can understand we want to be intelligent. And we don't want to take decisions with immediate negative collateral effects for
us. And from the very beginning, we were able to fine-tune the sanctions in order to be painful against Russia and to reduce, to reduce the collateral
negative effects for the European economy.
AMANPOUR: The other part of this, as you mentioned, is the Ukrainian resistance that actually none of you saw coming.
You have got a fund where you have already devoted two tranches, nearly a billion dollars' worth of lethal aid. This is a first for the E.U. Are you
convinced that that will be enough to help them, because you're not going in on the ground?
MICHEL: Yes, we understand.
AMANPOUR: Are they getting the weapons they need?
MICHEL: No, you are right. We understand that we are facing a very difficult situation, because, on the one hand, we want to support Ukraine
and we supporting Ukraine.
On the other hand, we don't want to face an escalation of the conflict. And we want to avoid World War III. This is extremely clear. And it's why we
have decided to provide military equipment, lethal military equipment...
MICHEL: Lethal military equipment to Ukraine. This is the first time in the European Union's history...
AMANPOUR: Is it enough?
MICHEL: ... it has made such a decision.
And we have already dedicated one billion euros for military equipment. And it comes in addition to the support by many European Union member states.
It's one first element.
I think it's not enough. And it's why I propose this trust fund solidarity with Ukraine in order to mobilize a lot of money immediately, not only the
E.U., the United States, but also to mobilize the international community.
Why? Because it's important also to maintain the efforts for this anti-war coalition. It's fundamental to demonstrate it's not a confrontation Russia
against the E.U. against NATO. This is a confrontation Russia against the international community, because Russia doesn't respect the international
law, doesn't respect the U.N. Charter.
AMANPOUR: You know, you just mentioned that you guys have made a calculation that you're not going to go to war with Russia. Presumably it's
because you're worried about the nuclear element of this.
And last night on my program, Dmitry Peskov, when I asked him three times whether they would use any kind of nuclear weapon, he gave a whole load of
answers that didn't rule it out, that did not rule it out.
Are you all planning for that now?
MICHEL: Yes, this is again an explicit threat by Russia.
And it is not acceptable and it is not responsible. And it's why the situation is so serious. And it's why this is so important to take the
right decisions, because the decisions that we are taking today will have an effect in the midterm, in the long term. It's one first element.
And it's why it's important also to support the efforts made by President Zelenskyy in the field of the direct talks with Russia. I have the occasion
on a constant basis to be in constant contact with Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
AMANPOUR: You talk to him a lot?
MICHEL: I had -- yes, and, of course.
And I had also the occasion to speak several times with Vladimir Putin also since the beginning of the war. And we are trying to identify, in support
of the Ukrainian authorities, what are the elements in order to make possible, as soon as possible, a cease-fire and to make possible a sincere
track in order to negotiate.
AMANPOUR: So, what are the elements?
MICHEL: And it's extremely difficult, because we are not certain that the Russian government is sincere.
And even -- we are not naive. We think that they are trying to attack militarily in order to strengthen their positions in the negotiation talk.
But on the other hand, we must change the balance of power in order to give to President Zelenskyy a better position in those direct talk with Russia.
AMANPOUR: Can I ask you a question? You said you speak to Vladimir Putin as well.
Do you sense that he is back against the wall? Does he need something to pull him away from that wall? Or is he completely committed to this?
MICHEL: Well, this is difficult to assess, because, like I said just before, we are totally convinced that it's not happening like he thought it
would happen, this one first element.
On the other hand, this is extremely difficult to find a common ground between Ukraine and Russia on the security guarantees, on the question of
the sovereignty of Ukraine. And it's an important point.
Let's be clear. We want to protect and to defend the sovereignty and the territorial integrity of Ukraine. And only the Ukrainian government and
Ukrainian people, they are allowed to decide what will be their own future. And they're able and allowed to decide what's acceptable and what's not
And our role, the European Union, and the friends and partners of Ukraine, we must support them in order for them to be able to choose their own path,
their own destiny. This, I think, very important to be clear on this question.
AMANPOUR: Finally, on the issue of refugees, again, Europe has opened its doors like it's never done before, with offers of residency, temporary
working, health, all the things that refugees need and have never seen this kind of welcome before.
How long is this going to continue? And can you afford it? There's some estimates that it's like $30 billion in the first year alone.
MICHEL: This is also another important topic, and I think that it's also a question of our values and principles.
And I'm confident. Why? Because I felt the recent weeks everywhere in Europe, the national governments, the local authorities, the people, the
citizens in Europe, they understand that this is very important for us to welcome, to host those people, women, children fleeing the bombings in
And we will do everything in order to maintain this European Union solidarity. And, especially, I would like to commend countries like Poland,
like Romania and some others at the front line, because they took...
They took immediately very important decisions. And we want to support them as much as possible.
AMANPOUR: European Council President Charles Michel, thank you very much for joining me.
MICHEL: Thank you. Thank you.
AMANPOUR: A fight to take back territory from Russian troops appears to be making some headway on the ground. Ukrainian forces report that they have
recaptured the town of Makariv -- that's outside Kyiv -- though we cannot confirm it independently yet.
Ukraine's ambassador to the E.U. here, Vsevolod Chentsov, is with me now in Brussels.
And we're going to discuss what's going on, on the ground, what's going on in terms of the diplomacy and the aid to your country.
First and foremost, I want to tell you that the U.S. government has formally now accused some Russian forces of committing war crimes in
Ukraine. Obviously, this is something that has to be adjudicated in a court of law. But that is what they're saying.
What does that mean to you? How do you think -- could that be a game- changer? And what is happening, as far as you know, places like Mariupol?
VSEVOLOD CHENTSOV, UKRAINIAN AMBASSADOR TO THE EUROPEAN UNION: Look, Russians, they continue to -- bombarding our cities, not only Mariupol, but
Mariupol, it's a disaster.
And we still -- we are capable to defend it. But also cities around Kyiv -- and you just mentioned one of them is Makariv. It's -- we have a success
there. So we are capable even to counterattack in certain areas.
So it shows that our army is able to fight the bigger army, one of the biggest in the world. But this is not about only Ukrainian army. This is
real patriotic war of Ukrainian people against Russia, against Russian invasion.
And all those myths about fascists, about Ukrainian fake state, failed state, so forth, now they just prove just null and void, because Ukrainian
nation exists as a political nation. And it doesn't matter which language we speak, Russian, Ukrainian, Hungarian.
AMANPOUR: Let me get to the language and all of that in a moment.
But, first, these successes that you're having, is it also because you are now getting the reinforcements that you need? We understand that part of
that -- the latest promise and pledge from President Biden, from the United States, the $800 million, plus the anti-tank missiles and other such
things, that there's a steady flow of allied weapons to you?
Are you -- is that what you're seeing now, and you're being able to use them on the battlefield?
CHENTSOV: Look, there are several factors.
First, our army is already eight years fighting basically Russia and Russian proxies. So we are trained.
AMANPOUR: You mean since the first invasion of 2014.
CHENTSOV: Exactly. Exactly.
And, secondly, you're right. We are getting reinforcement, both from United States, from European Union. And, well, it's -- we don't have to tell where
and what we are getting. But we can use this equipment now quite efficiently. That is true.
AMANPOUR: I just when you get back -- which is really interesting.
AMANPOUR: Because also, in the air, I know that you keep calling for no- fly zone. You know that it's not going to happen anytime soon. And you know that your fighter pilots are outnumbered by the Russians, something like
potentially even 10 to one in terms of numbers and even higher in terms of daily sorties.
But they're doing quite well in the air. The dogfights are happening. They seem to be doing quite well, and that Russia has not been able to gain
superiority of the air.
And we need more jets. We need more anti-aircraft weapons, and we need it now, because what Russians are doing, they want to destroy all airfields
just to complicate job for our for our pilots. That's true. And we drastically need that type of support.
AMANPOUR: You just mentioned the issue of languages and this and the. You know, obviously, that's what the Russians keep saying, that you don't let
Russian speakers or pro-Russian people speak their language. They say there are Nazi signs in the east, in Kyiv, and other such places.
They say that they want you to demilitarize. This is what Dmitry Peskov, the spokesman of President Putin, told me last night, neutral.
What parts of that can you accept of those four things that I just said?
CHENTSOV: Look, I'm not in the negotiating team. As a citizen, I cannot accept any of those elements.
But, look, language. My mother tongue is Russian. And I never -- and I never asked for Russian protection. And, as I said, both Ukrainians,
Ukrainian-speaking, Russian-speaking soldiers, they're fighting shoulder to shoulder. So, all those myths, they are non-central.
Regarding negotiations, look, in any conflict, you need to talk. And what is possible, it depends how hard we can hit Russian economy now and how
much support we can get to reinforce our army and make sure that Russia will choose negotiated solution vs. military solution.
And also about diplomatic and political isolation of Russia, because now Russia is reaching out to Asia, to China to lead this kind of alternative.
AMANPOUR: Can China be a mediator, an honest broker? It does a lot of business with Ukraine.
CHENTSOV: Look, China is a strategic partner of Ukraine.
And I think that China -- China should play a really important role here to keep, if not neutrality, but real neutrality, not pro-Russian neutrality.
And this is something we also want to -- our E.U. partners here to discuss with China during summit on the 1st of April.
AMANPOUR: You just heard the European Council president, Charles Michel, talk about sensible and intelligent sanctions to create maximum pain for
Putin, but not maximum pay for their own citizens.
Talk to me about that. Do you feel that they have been effective, these sanctions, so far?
CHENTSOV: Look, the sanctions are really massive.
But what we need now, it's not to have -- not only intelligence, but really bold sanctions that are felt today, not tomorrow or in a year. And I think
this is a crucial moment and having United States president here, having prime minister of Canada sometimes leading on difficult issues, including
So I think we could expect from this summit clear guidance, so, it's -- if not decisions, so which could be those guidelines. They could be, should be
implemented here on the next stage.
AMANPOUR: President Biden and the administration have been raising this concern for a while, the potential use by President Putin of weapons of
mass destruction, chemical, biological, maybe even tactical nuclear, because they say that, as what people can see, that the ground offensive is
not going well, hence the fight against civilian targets and the bombardment of civilian targets.
Do you do you think that that's a possibility? Do you think they would go that far?
CHENTSOV: Look, I think this message is prepared not for Ukraine, but for United States and NATO allies.
The strategic dialogue was relaunched last summer between Russia and United States. And I think this is something to discuss on this level.
AMANPOUR: Again, Dmitry Peskov, when we ask and talk about why are they bombarding civilians, he told me yesterday that they believe that your
forces are using civilians as human shields.
Let us just play this sound bite.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DMITRY PESKOV, KREMLIN PRESS SECRETARY: To get rid of the nationalist battalions and nationalist regiments who are now actually, who are now
opposing Russian troops, who are now trying to cover themselves under the shield of civilians, thus paving a way for civil casualties.
They're simply not letting people out from the city, from the town. And this is a problem, because now we're receiving lots of refugees coming from
there. And they simply tell us -- they're eyewitnesses. They simply tell us that they were used like a shield. They were used under heavy bombardment.
And then those nationalists, they were -- they were killing people who would want to leave the city.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: What is your reaction to that?
CHENTSOV: Well, I see Mr. Peskov quite frustrated.
And it's a good sign, because they cannot continue lying like that. So, what they created in Mariupol, it's a sheer war crime. It is a humanitarian
catastrophe. And they should just look at those images of the Russian missiles hitting residential areas, and just analyze what they're doing and
what they're talking.
AMANPOUR: There's been a Greek diplomat who's one of the latest to emerge from Mariupol. And he came out and he basically said, Mariupol is no more.
I mean, some estimates say 90 percent of the buildings there have been flattened, and even that there may be people still buried, probably no
longer alive, but on the attacks on the theater and the other shelters.
AMANPOUR: When you look to the future, how do you see and who do you see rebuilding your country?
I know that you're in the middle of a war now. But what do you think of in the future, and all those millions who have fled as well?
CHENTSOV: Look, we are going to rebuild our country, Ukrainians, definitely with the help of our partners.
And this idea of Charles Michel, which I hope will be supported tomorrow at the summit, about the solidarity fund for Ukraine is exactly to serve this
goal. It's to help to cover existing needs, current needs, but also for reconstruction.
And one word about IDPs. Definitely, Poland is doing great job receiving our people, but the majority of people fleeing Central and Eastern Ukraine,
Southern Ukraine are concentrated in Western Ukraine. And we need to help them now.
And I'm calling organizations like Red Cross and other organizations receiving millions of donations, use them now to help Ukrainians, not in
one year. So, this is my simple message.
AMANPOUR: And in the last 20 seconds that we have, what do you see in the next weeks, two weeks? How long do you think this can go on and that your
country can hold out?
CHENTSOV: Look, the morale is very high. And Ukrainian spirit is high. And we proved that we can fight.
And, definitely, it depends on Ukrainian stamina, but it depends on our other two pillar, as we discussed, assistance, and diplomatic and political
pressure and isolation of Russia.
AMANPOUR: You know, this, Ambassador is an epic struggle between East and West, between dictatorship and democracy.
And we're just hearing that it has been confirmed in the United States that Madeleine Albright, the former secretary of state, has died. And she worked
very, very hard to face down the forces of dictatorship and communism, and certainly during the Balkan Wars, which we see replaying out in your
country right now.
But it's not about East and West. It's about good and evil.
AMANPOUR: Exactly. Exactly. And that's what she stood for too.
Thank you, Ambassador, for being with us.
CHENTSOV: Thank you very much.
AMANPOUR: That is very sad news, indeed.
I covered her a lot during the wars in the Balkans, and she always stood for what was right. And she came at it with her own experience, as a child
of communism, as a Jew whose family had to flee Nazism as well.
And she brought all of that to her work as secretary of state. When it was her time to face down the forces of fascism in Europe during the Balkan
Wars, she did that, and she brought the United States to confront them and to beat them.
May she rest in peace.
Now, as a veteran intelligence official, Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin is pushing for an aggressive response to Russia's invasion. But, as a
Democratic representative in a Republican-leaning district, she has had to convince her voters to support tough sanctions, even if it means higher
prices at home.
I asked her about that and about the threats of escalation in Ukraine when we spoke earlier.
AMANPOUR: Congresswoman Slotkin, welcome to the program.
SLOTKIN: Thanks for having me.
AMANPOUR: So, the president is en route here to Brussels. There will be the NATO summit. There will be the E.U. summit.
What do you expect? What do you want him to say, to do here with his allies to shore up the defense of Ukraine?
SLOTKIN: Yes, well, a couple of things.
First of all, obviously, it's always good when our senior most leaders get together and have that visual of strength and unity. And NATO is more
united now than I think it's been in a long, long time.
But specifically, I'm looking at what additional weaponry we can give the Ukrainians from the stores of some of our NATO allies, particularly
Russian-made equipment. But then, also, I'm really interested in forced posture. What are we going to see in terms of American forces, NATO forces,
being positioned closer to the front, making sure we reinforce our allies, of course, but just demonstrate that we're in it, and that NATO -- crossing
into NATO territory is a clear red line for us?
Looking for more economic sanctions, and there's some painful ones I think on the docket. I'm looking at members of the Russian parliament, the
Russian Duma. And then, lastly, we have to have some sort of united plan on the humanitarian response. And here, Poland, Romania have been doing, you
know, a huge amount of work along with a lot of other countries, but I think the United States could make some important announcements at the
AMANPOUR: So, let's just take first -- well, let's take the humanitarian, because that is, obviously, about people, and they are fleeing. The U.N.
said that 10 million at last count, Ukrainians have been displaced. We know that 3 million plus have left the country. The rest inside trying to go
from dangerous to safer towns, cities areas of the country. What should be done to relieve this humanitarian burden?
SLOTKIN: Well, obviously, we have to provide resources to the countries that are on the frontlines of receiving the refugees. So, that's Poland and
Romania. A few other countries that are really stepping up. And, you know, we passed lot of money, $13 billion in order to help with that. But then,
also, I think the United States needs to do its part. Family reunification. We have a lot of Ukrainian Americans who would be happy to host their
family for a couple of years if that's required. I think we need to allow that.
And then, taking in refugees. You know, Canada and others are taking in refugees. So, I think that it's about burden sharing, right? And making
sure that every country is doing its part in proportion to their population.
AMANPOUR: Well, certainly, the German foreign minister has been calling for that, not just here in Europe but including to the United States. Why
is that not happening when you see the open arms that most E.U. countries are extending? I mean, literally, they provided temporary -- for an
indefinite period, housing, work, health care, all the kinds of things, social care, that these mostly women and children might need. Why is the
United States not doing the same?
SLOTKIN: Yes. I think that -- frankly, I don't have any special knowledge on the decision-making inside the White House, but it is obvious that we
have taken in, you know, quite a number of Afghans since the end of our presence in Afghanistan, since the fall of Kabul.
And I think, frankly, I know from personal experience that that is really been a surge on our refugee organizations. You know, those who helped those
folks. I think there's caps that we have to deal with, and have to decide to raise in order to bring in Ukrainians. But the truth is, I mean, as long
as they're vetted and we understand, you know, who it is, who is coming to our shores and they pass all our vetting, we have the job market for them.
We have the opportunities for them here, and I think many of them would be eager to work.
So, I don't totally understand. I just assume it's the pressure from the Afghans that came in September.
AMANPOUR: Let's get back to the battlefield. I spoke to President Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov. He's been at his side for decades. He's a
confidant. And I asked him many things, including why President Putin seems to have put a nuclear option on the table without saying he's going to use
a nuclear weapon.
You remember he said that he had put his combat forces, deterrent forces on high alert. You remember he threatened in his very first speech just before
the invasion, saying that anybody who dared interfere with Russia would face the worst kind of consequences seen in history. And he has, again,
said the same thing to the French -- sorry, to Finnish president that if there was any effort to deter him and his military in Ukraine, the
consequences would be very, very bad.
And last night, Dmitry Peskov refused to rule it out and said that, you know, if they face an existential threat, they would use nuclear weapons.
How do you respond to that? What should the United States do?
SLOTKIN: Yes. You know, I watch that clip of that and it was really sort of riveting, a riveting interview. I think that truth be told, nuclear
weapons, you know, the whole reason we have them is because countries have felt like, you know, if there was an existential threat to them, that they
needed to have that, you know, in their back pocket. There's a whole history of why people -- why countries have nuclear weapons.
I think the fundamental question that I really took from that interview you did was, what is their definition of existential, right? They've already
made the point of invading a neighbor, right? A democratic neighbor that was not posing them a threat. They created a false narrative of Ukraine
because they were somehow threatened by Ukraine on their, you know, doorstep.
And I think that's what concerns me is that, you know, nuclear weapons, in theory, are used when your country has no other option. But what bothers me
is Putin is clearly thinking differently than we are thinking. And he's getting further and further cornered, right? His military isn't doing as
well as he would have hoped.
So, I think their doctrine, particularly on tactical nukes, right, short- range nukes, is very different than ours and that's why we really have to be level-headed when it comes to this issue of WMD'ing.
AMANPOUR: Can we just take a pause and ask what is a tactical nuke in terms of what it does it do? It's obviously smaller than Hiroshima, the
only baseline that we have to judge. But what would it do if it was deployed against forces, against a built-up population in Ukraine?
SLOTKIN: Well, make no mistake, just because it says the word tactical in front of it, a tactical nuclear weapon is still devastating weapon. This is
why we're watching very, very closely what Russia is doing. What weapons they're moving around, what do they put in Belarus, right? Because those
are the kinds of nuclear weapons with the telemetry that could attack in Ukraine. They could hit in Europe. And they are devastating.
We're talking destruction of cities, right? This isn't just a small little explosion. It's different than the strategic nuclear weapons that would fly
from a place like Russia to the United States, you know, that we've had aimed at each other for a very long time. But it's still devastating. So, I
think that's what we're watching very closely, and we've been receiving a bunch of briefings in Congress about how Russia's nuclear doctrine is
They are -- I would not be surprised if they have kept making noise about putting in tactical nukes into the theater, and that, to me, is a very,
very important new chapter in this crisis we have to ward off almost at all costs.
AMANPOUR: Well, absolutely. Can I ask you as a Congresswoman first, do you notice, certainly, over this issue and the issue of security, do you notice
potentially a bringing together of Congress? Obviously, all we've talked about over the last four or five years has been the poisonous and partisan,
you know, politics that exist there with no ability to connect at all between Democrat and Republican. Has anything shifted in the response to
SLOTKIN: Absolutely. I mean, I've been in Congress for a little over three years, and this is the most bipartisan topic that I have seen. And frankly,
you know, I went on a congressional delegation to the Munich Security Conference, it was very bipartisan. And you could feel kind of an energy in
the delegation because after many, many years of disagreement on pretty much everything, we now were going into meetings with foreign leaders and
working off the same sheet of music. We were tag teaming.
It was, you know, Democrats and Republicans on the same page about the threat from Putin and from Russia, and that has continued in Washington
with these sanctions' packages, with all the aid that we've supported. And then, frankly, even just hearing from President Zelenskyy. We were all in
the same room, Democrat next to Republican. I don't think there was a dry eye in the house, and you could hear a pin drop, and I just -- I think, I
hope that it's an important moment for us to remember that we are all still Americans. That some of the fights that we have between us make us weaker.
And that, you know, we are privileged to live in a system that allows us to have, you know, our freedoms and our lives. And so, I'm hoping this crisis
kind of reinvigorates that.
AMANPOUR: And finally, you are a congresswoman. You're an elected official. You have, you know, tough reelection battle ahead. We've already
heard from European leaders how these sanctions, you know, could also hurt their own people, with the rising prices of energy, rising prices of food
and all of that. How long do you think the American people will tolerate this? Although a huge and overwhelming majority of them right now want to
do what it takes to help Ukraine?
SLOTKIN: Yes. Well, I think we're already feeling the effects, right? I live in Michigan. Some people in my district drive 40 miles one way to work
and the price of gas is about $4.15. So, that's a record high for us. The price of food is going up, and will continue to go up if Ukraine can't
plant, you know, during the planting season here. So, I think we're already feeling it.
The other thing is threat of cyber-attack, right? I don't think we're done seeing what Russia does to retaliate against the United States proper. And
I think there's a whole thing about preparedness around cyber-attacks.
I had a town hall yesterday where we talked -- I mean, the topic of conversation was Russia and Ukraine and then, the fallout in the United
States and other places, and I do think people are moved by the conflict. They're moved by the struggle of the Ukrainian people. But I also think
they want to know that their government has a plan to protect them from, you know, things that get -- prices that get too out of control.
So, we have to balance. We have to balance our care and concern with things that we -- policy we can implement here at home that actually helps
insulate some of our population from the rising costs.
AMANPOUR: And as you say, there's a long way to go before this is resolved. Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin, thank you so much for joining us.
SLOTKIN: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: So, our conversation a few hours ago when it was still daylight. And as I mentioned, Madeleine Albright, the first female secretary of state
of the United States has died at the age of 84. She was a strong diplomat known to never mince words and remembered for the unique pins she would
wear to send subtle messages to world leaders.
According to a family statement, the cause was cancer. She was surrounded by her family and her friends. Correspondent Richard Roth looks back at her
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICHARD ROTH, CNN SENIOR U.N. CORRESPONDENT (voice over): As a diplomat where tact and treading gingerly on contentious issues are the norm,
Madeleine Albright was never one to mince words.
MADELEINE ALBRIGHT, FORMER UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF STATE: This is not cajones. This is cowardness.
ROTH (voiceover): Whether it was her colorful use language condemning Cuba for shooting down U.S. pilots or her strident assessment of the leader of
ALBRIGHT: I don't think the world has seen, except maybe since Hitler, somebody who is quite as evil as Saddam Hussein.
ROTH (voiceover): The Iraqi dictator was said to be so incensed by Albright's verbal attacks he published a poem in Iraqi newspapers calling
her an unrelenting serpent. Albright's response was one of quiet defiance. From that moment forward, she wore a brooch in the shape of a serpent at
every meeting with the Iraqi leadership and she began using her pins, as she call them, as a way of sending subtle messages without saying a word.
Born Marie Jana Korbelova to a Czechoslovakian diplomat, Albright and her family fled the former Czechoslovakia after the Nazi invasion in 1939 and
later found safe haven in the United States in 1948. She became a U.S. citizen, married a media tycoon Joseph Patterson Albright and had three
children, all while working on her Ph.D. and learning multiple languages.
In 1982, Albright she took a prestigious position as professor of international affairs at Georgetown University. But it was the shock of her
husband asking for a divorce around that same time that changed the course of her life.
ALBRIGHT: There was an identity crisis. As it turns out, I think those next 10 years were the ones that were the most influential.
ROTH (voiceover): She poured herself into her work, becoming foreign policy adviser to then presidential candidate Bill Clinton in 1992. Clinton
in turn tapped her for the post of U.S. ambassador to the United Nations after he won the White House. As U.N. ambassador, Albright became known for
her tenacity and determination to elevate U.S. interests at the U.N. through what she called aggressive multilateralism.
ALBRIGHT: We must summon the spine to deter, the support to isolate, and the strength to defeat those who run roughshod over the rights of others.
ROTH (voiceover): She pushed hard for U.S. boots on the ground in the Balkans. The U.S. administration chose diplomacy instead, a decision that
came at a costly human price. An even bigger regret, the failure of the U.S. to intervene to stop the Rwandan genocide in 1994.
ALBRIGHT: I, Madeleine Korbel Albright.
ROTH (voiceover): Lessons learned from her past and the present as Albright cemented her place in history becoming the first ever U.S. female
secretary of state on January 23, 1997.
When the Kosovo conflict erupted in 1998, Albright lobbied forcefully for NATO intervention. The NATO-led effort helped Kosovo gain independence from
Serbian control. And the ICC indicted the Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic for war crimes.
ALBRIGHT: Never again will there be massacres and mass graves.
ROTH (voiceover): Through it all, Albright's experience as a refugee who found the American dream was omnipresent in her life.
ALBRIGHT: My life reflects both the turbulence of Europe in middle of this century and the tolerance and generosity of America throughout its
ROTH (voiceover): In her later years, Albright's comments in support of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton backfired.
ALBRIGHT: And just remember, there's a special place in hell for women who don't help each other.
ROTH (voiceover): She apologized for the timing of her so-called undiplomatic moment in "New York Times" op-ed and seized the opportunity to
make a passionate case for gender equality by saying, my hope is that young women will build on the progress we have made. But that will happen only if
women help one another. And for those who do that, there will always be a special place of honor.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And she was absolutely right. Madeleine Albright was a great friend of this show, she was a great friend of ours, all of us who covered
the Balkan. And it is incredible to hear and remember her legacy when we're right in the middle of another fight in Europe, which pits the forces of
fascism, of dictatorship against the forces of democracy and those who just want to be free.
Now, in some of her last words, she wrote an op-ed for the "New York Times" in late February, and she said that Ukraine is entitled to its sovereignty
no matter who its neighbors happen to be. In the modern era, great countries accept that and so, must Mr. Putin. That is the message
undergirding recent western diplomacy. It defines the difference between a world governed by the rule of law and one answerable to no rules at all.
That was at the end of February, just a few weeks before she died. She will be sorely missed. She was a great American, a great patriot, and a great, a
great champion for freedom.
COVID-19 is back in the news again. A new wave of infections from the Omicron subvariant BA.26 is happening in places like the USA and the U.K.
that have actually loosened restrictions but also, in places like Hong Kong with very strict restrictions still.
Dr. Tom Frieden is the former director of the CDC and he joins Walter Isaacson now to discuss this incoming surge and why now is the time to pick
up the pace on public health matters.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WALTER ISAACSON, CNN HOST: Thank you, Christiane. And, Tom Frieden, welcome to the show.
DR. TOM FRIEDEN, PRESIDENT AND CEO, RESOLVE TO SAVE LIVES: Great to be here, Walter. Looking forward to speaking with you.
ISAACSON: Besides running the Centers for Disease Control, way back you were the commissioner of health for the City of New York. I just saw this
morning that cases in New York have gone up 47 percent on average in the past 14 days. Are we starting to see a resurgence in New York City and
maybe other places?
FRIEDEN: I think it's highly likely that we will see a resurgence. What's been happening for the past two years is we see it in other parts of the
world, and somehow, we think it's not going to come here. What we're seeing is that the so-called BA.2 variant of the Omicron strain is extremely
infectious, much more infectious than even the BA variant, and that was even more infectious than prior variants.
ISAACSON: And if it's more infectious, does that mean it is a little bit less deadly as happened with previous Omicron variants or do we know?
FRIEDEN: No. It's no less deadly. I think there's a misconception here. How deadly a virus is and how rapidly it spreads are somewhat independent.
There are some people who will think, oh, it will get milder with time and kind of be just a common cold coronavirus. That's possible. But we don't
The only constant here is change. And the best we can do is to adapt rapidly by learning quickly and acting quickly. It's likely we will see
another surge in the U.S. how deadly that surge is, is up to us, because it's mostly among the elderly, unvaccinated, and medically vulnerable
unvaccinated that we're seeing severe disease.
ISAACSON: Well, you say it's up to us, but I assume it's also up to the virus in a way. The variant of the virus, especially for people who are
vaccinated and are -- don't have underlying conditions. Do you think this new variant from what we've seen so far, especially in Europe and the
United Kingdom, is not a big problem to people with no underlying conditions, who have booster shots and vaccines?
FRIEDEN: I think that if you're healthy and up to date with your vaccination, very important concept, not fully vaccinated or boosted, but
up to date, which means you've gotten the vaccine when you should have gotten it, then you're pretty safe.
Now, you could get unlucky and get long COVID. You could get unlucky and get severe COVID, and you could infect someone who is vulnerable and might
get severely ill or die. The data from Hong Kong is really striking. Hong Kong was essentially what we call a natural experiment. This was a
population that had zero natural immunity. Immunity from prior infection. And way too low levels of vaccine-induced immunity, because the elderly had
not been highly vaccinated, and we saw a death rate in Hong Kong 100 times higher than the death rate in New Zealand at similar case rates. That shows
how stunningly effective the vaccines are, but also how deadly even the Omicron variant is.
ISAACSON: How do we really know how effective the vaccines are over time? I've been booster shotted. I was very early on. I actually have the second
booster shot because I was in one of the clinical trials, but they tell me it's really unclear when it starts to fade.
FRIEDEN: There are some things that will only be determined with time. To know how long immunity is going to last, we have to wait to see if it
wanes. That's frustrating. We wish we had a perfect test to tell us, oh, now, is the time to do a booster. It's highly likely that people will need
an additional booster, but who, when, and whether it makes sense to mix and match vaccines, that we don't know.
It's certainly the case that there was no rushing on safety or efficacy to prove that these vaccines save lives and are safe. But it is true that
figuring out the exact vaccine schedule, how often, with what interval, which doses, that takes more time.
ISAACSON: Is there any downside to getting booster shots after four or five months?
FRIEDEN: There is a theoretical risk that if you boost too much, it's going to blunt your immune system's response to the vaccine. I think we
should wait, see what the data shows. We're going to learn from around the world, Israel has been giving fourth boosters. And so -- or fourth shots
with additional boosters. And so, we should be able to get information from other countries and from here in the coming months.
But yes, I think for people who are vulnerable, getting a fourth shot, five or six months after your third shot makes a lot of sense.
ISAACSON: How many people in the United States do you estimate have some immunity now from either vaccines or exposure to the virus?
FRIEDEN: I would think that we're pushing 90 percent of people who have either been vaccinated or had an infection with the virus. On the other
hand, only about 60 percent of Americans are up to date with their vaccination. And shockingly, about a third or more than a third of people
over the age of 65 are not up to date with their vaccinations. That's more than 15 million seniors.
And you know, unfortunately, this new variant could be coming for them. That's why it's so important to scale up vaccination if you're vulnerable,
up your masking to an N-95. And we all need to see if we can get test and treat much more widely done. Because some of the medicines out there are
very effective. Decreasing the risk of severe illness by 80 percent or more, but they have to be given quickly and scaling that up in our
country's fragmented and inefficient health care system is not going to be easy.
ISAACSON: You say that there's an increased risk among the elderly because they haven't been boosted most recently, or some of them aren't boosted.
When you look at hospitalization rates of people who went into the hospital because they had COVID. How much worse is it for people who did not have
booster shots and people who did have booster shots?
FRIEDEN: In Hong Kong where the government has published very informative data, people over the age of 60 who had been vaccinated were 25 times less
likely to get hospitalized or have severe illness than those who had been vaccinated at all. And what we've seen from a series of studies is boosting
reminds your immune system how to fight the virus and keeps you out of the hospital. So --
ISAACSON: Well, and you tell me we've seen that from a lot of studies. I've not seen those. Tell me what studies we had that show that booster
shoots, people who do have them go to the hospital less than those who don't.
FRIEDEN: Oh, it's very clear from studies in the United Kingdom, in the U.S., in Israel and elsewhere that getting a booster kind of restores your
immunity, and gets it back to an earlier level of protection from hospitalization, which is extremely high. We're talking 80, 90 percent plus
protection from severe illness.
ISAACSON: You talked about long COVID, and you've studied that. A new report just came out saying diabetes is something that could happen with
long COVID. Tell me how serious and how prevalent long COVID really is. How much should I worry about it? How much should an older person, like myself,
worry about having long COVID?
FRIEDEN: There is still a lot we don't know about long COVID, and part of that is that the studies haven't been completed. The NIH has a huge amount
of money to do these studies. So, I'm looking forward to seeing the results coming out of those studies. Other countries are looking at this as well.
When we reviewed it in detail, we found it was strikingly common for people not to feel fully themselves for months afterwards. That might be shortness
of breath, a sense of brain fog, loss of sense of smell or taste that can persevere or weakness. We actually, at my organization, Resolved to Save
Lives, interviewed people with long COVID and produced a public education series called "Voices of Long COVID" that the U.S. government is now
And it's quite striking. You have people jogging five miles before and can't walk up a flight of stairs. So, Long COVID is a serious phenomenon.
We don't understand well enough what's causing it. How common it is, or how to treat it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Walter Isaacson with the former CDC director, Tom Frieden.
And that is it for now. Thank you for watching and good-bye from Brussels.