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Interview With German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock; Interview With Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs Dmytro Kuleba; Interview with The Atlantic Staff Writer Anne Applebaum. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired April 01, 2022 - 13:00 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 live from Kyiv. Here's what's coming up.
As the war rages on, and talks between Russia and Ukraine resume, I speak to two crucial foreign ministers, first Ukraine's Dmytro Kuleba on whether
there's any progress on a negotiated settlement, and Germany's Annalena Baerbock. Can Western countries continue to hold the line?
Plus, the writer Anne Applebaum joins Michel Martin with a warning, that unless democracies defend themselves, the forces of autocracy will destroy
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in Kyiv.
Another week of war here in Ukraine, and still no end in sight, but is there a shift in Russia strategy? Talks between the two countries'
delegations resumed virtually today. Meanwhile, a bold Ukrainian strike across the border in Russia? Video shows helicopters striking a fuel depot
in Belgorod. Russia says the Ukrainians were behind it, but Ukraine's Ministry of Defense said that it will neither confirm nor deny.
As the alliance supporting Ukraine seeks to hold firm against Putin, I will be speaking to the German foreign minister.
But, first, just moments ago, I reached Ukraine's foreign minister, who's on a diplomatic mission in Poland. He told me any Russian redeployment
around Kyiv is not, as they claim, a gesture of goodwill for the talks, but because they have been forced to regroup.
AMANPOUR: Foreign Minister Kuleba, welcome to the program.
DMYTRO KULEBA, UKRAINIAN MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS: It's my pleasure to be with you.
AMANPOUR: Can I ask you? On this day where there was a Zoom negotiation between the two sides, President Erdogan of Turkey has said that he's
spoken to President Putin, and he would like to get Putin and your President Volodymyr Zelenskyy together.
Do you see any reason for optimism that might happen and is now the right time for that to happen?
KULEBA: Well, since 24th of February, when Russia launched its large-scale aggression against Ukraine, the only optimism that I have is that Ukraine
will eventually win this war.
When it comes to Russia's actions, I remain extremely cautious on every word they say and every move they make. So, we want to see their words
match their needs. And, therefore, we have to follow very closely every development. I haven't received the feedback from negotiators as of now, as
But, by the end of this conversation, I may know more how today's talks ended. If Russia was acting in good faith in those talks, and I see that,
instead of putting ultimatums it really started to negotiate. Then we can move forward.
AMANPOUR: Foreign Minister, can you give us an outline of your positions at these talks? Have you officially put on the table neutrality in return
for security guarantees, for instance?
KULEBA: You know, nothing is agreed until everything is agreed. This is what we diplomats say. So, this agreement, it consists of different
elements. Some are put forward by Russia. Others are put forward by Ukraine.
So, for the time being, yes, I can confirm that we are discussing security guarantees. And we will be ready to consider the issue of neutrality if we
see that all pieces of this puzzle, they match together. But it's still premature to say that we agreed to anything at this point.
AMANPOUR: OK, given those parameters, and understanding that nothing's agreed until all is agreed, what is the Russian position on the table? What
are they asking now?
KULEBA: Well, officially, Russia keeps asking what President Putin voiced in his bizarre address on the eve of the aggression, neutrality,
demilitarization, denazification, some other issues related to the respect to Russian language in Ukraine.
All of this -- we had -- in the very beginning of this talks, we had two options. We could simply reject all the demands that they put forward, by
definition, because some of them are clearly absurd, or we could stop talking to them and explain to them what is feasible, what is not, and
where they are mistaken.
So, we went for the second option, and we engaged in a meaningful conversation with them. But some of the things -- for example, the respect
for Russian language -- is a pure propaganda thing, because Russian language is respected and widely spoken. But there are no restrictions on
Russian language in Ukraine.
Or denazification, I mean, even some members of the Russian delegation, as far as I know, failed to explain what it meant by denazification.
AMANPOUR: So, obviously, this is an issue right for everybody that nobody quite knows what Putin's endgame is, what his aim is.
Now that you are hearing what they're saying -- and you have your own intelligence, obviously. You're hearing from the U.S. and the U.K. You see
some kind of Russian troop movement. Do you believe, for instance, around Kyiv and elsewhere that they are regrouping to redeploy to fight another
day, despite their current setbacks?
And do you think that's focused on the Donbass region? How do you see the state of play right now?
KULEBA: First of all, we should remember that the day Russia announced they would, as I quote, significantly decrease military activity around
Kyiv and Chernihiv, they did it at the moment -- they said it at the moment when Ukrainian forces started to successfully push them back from villages
and small towns in vicinity of Kyiv.
So the reason they said it was because they felt they cannot sustain the pressure, they cannot keep the front line around Kyiv. This is one thing,
and it must be remembered.
Second, yes, we see that some of their military units are withdrawing back into the territory of Belarus. But, at the same time, we hear consistent
messages and we also receive intelligence that they're still looking at Donbass as a low-hanging fruit, according to them. We have a different
But I do not exclude the option that this withdrawal is -- has two reasons. The first one is the active -- active movement forward of our forces and
liberation of villages and towns, and, second, they need to regroup resources and to prepare for the battle for Donbass.
AMANPOUR: Foreign Minister, you obviously see the video of the helicopters that struck a fuel depot just across the Russian border from Ukraine in
Is that the work of Ukraine's helicopters? And did you guys do it?
KULEBA: I saw the video, but the quality is insufficient for me to identify whether it was Ukrainian helicopters or not.
AMANPOUR: Right. But have you been told by your -- I mean, have you asked your military, intelligence, whoever you need to ask?
KULEBA: I haven't yet. I didn't have a chance to call our military people.
I have -- I'm in Poland now. And I have a very busy schedule meetings with Polish counterparts. But I will try to find out later in the day.
AMANPOUR: Now, the reason I asked you is because your authorities here are not confirming or denying.
But just to say, if it was you, is that a game-changer in terms -- Dmitry Peskov, the presidential spokesperson in Moscow, says, oh, that might
negatively impact the talks. What do you say to that?
KULEBA: Well, the only real factor that has negative impact on talks is Russian aggression as a whole and Russian war crimes committed in the
territory of Ukraine.
And do you -- are you surprised that your forces seem to have such ability to maneuver in the skies in -- over your own country, but also across the
KULEBA: I'm Ukrainian. I have trust in the people of Ukraine and in our armed forces, and, of course, as foreign minister now, diplomacy.
This is a war. They attacked us to destroy us. They reject our right to exist as a nation. So, it means that we will be fighting back by all means
available to us within existing law, international laws of warfare, of course, because we're a civilized nation, unlike them.
AMANPOUR: Can I just play for you -- you're in Poland. Yesterday, I had the opportunity to speak to the Polish prime minister, and he was quite --
he urgently said that the West must stick together, that sanctions needed to run really be maintained, and that, as much military infrastructure as
possible, defensive weapons and stuff you need, needs to be developed as soon as possible.
I just want to play this little sound bite from our interview, get you to react to it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MATEUSZ MORAWIECKI, POLISH PRIME MINISTER: Our public opinion will get tired with this war, as we already observe.
This is why I'm making this appeal to all the good people in the United States not get -- do not get tired with this, because it is the focal point
in our -- this is a turning point in our history. And we cannot allow Putin to conquer another country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, he's basically saying that -- well, you heard what he says, that we -- in the West, you have a public opinion. In Moscow, you don't.
Are you convinced that the public opinion and, therefore, the allies' stance, will remain solid, no matter how long this goes on for?
KULEBA: Well, first of all, I want to be straight on one issue.
Whatever happens at the table of negotiations, more sanctions have to be imposed against Russia and more weapons have to be supplied to Ukraine,
because these are the real arguments in talks. The stronger Ukraine is, the more painful the pressure on Russia is, the stronger our position in talks
is, and, therefore, the better are the chances to get a good agreement, an agreement that would respect Ukraine.
And this is -- this must be absolutely clear. No one should be using an argument that, since people are talking, sitting at a table and talking to
each other, let's put sanctions on hold or let's not supply certain weapons to Ukraine. This is a war, again, I would like to remind it.
And I think it makes sense for our friends and partners to continue supporting us.
When it comes to the public perception of the war, of course, we live in the real world. And I understand that many other events may be taking place
in the coming weeks that will distract the attention, but -- of the world public opinion.
But this Russian aggression against Ukraine is a threat to entire world -- global security. So, we are not getting tired of fighting for freedom, for
independence and for values. So I hope that people in the West will not get tired of supporting us as well.
The only fatigue that I have observed so far is the sanctions fatigue in some European capitals, who try to not -- not to avoid imposing the tough -
- the additional tough sanctions on Russia. But we are working with them. And I hope -- I believe we will overcome that. We will help them to
overcome that fatigue.
AMANPOUR: Do you -- can you tell me which countries you're specifically talking about?
KULEBA: I'm very honest with you, but, at this point, I will remain a diplomat.
So let me ask you this, then, because I guess you have seen obviously all the intelligence that has been broadcast in the last couple of days
suggesting that President Putin has been misinformed about the state of his of his military on the ground here, along with a whole load of other
expectations of his that haven't come to bear.
If that is the case, and you have just said that he keeps repeating the maximalist original demands at the negotiating table, what is it going to
take, do you think, for him to get more real in terms of a negotiating tactic from his side?
KULEBA: I believe he already became more real, since I cannot imagine that the withdrawal of Russian forces from the north of Ukraine was not ordered
If we translate this recent movement into the human language, it literally means: I do not have sufficient power to continue attacking Ukraine from
three directions simultaneously, so I have to move part of my military strength to another direction to reinforce my army in that area.
So, we always have to -- we will -- I cannot imagine a moment when Putin will come out and say, OK, we lost it. It was a mistake. This is never
going to happen. They will always claim that they are winning, that everything is fine, and going according to the plan.
I can recall at least three or four times then when Russian officials said that Ukraine's air defense has been effectively destroyed. And yet we keep
shooting down their planes and helicopters.
So, whatever his picture of reality is, from the steps they're making on the ground, I can conclude that he has an understanding that his power,
that he is not strong enough to continue attacking Ukraine from all corners. And that's clear now.
AMANPOUR: And yet we do have reports that your government is very concerned about the step-up in Russian shelling and bombardment of the
Donbass region. So that is where they said they're going to be refocusing.
But the question I have to you is, President Zelenskyy has just said that he has relieved two former top generals of their command and their
positions. And he said that: "I do not have time to deal with all the traitors."
What does he mean by that? Is there a fifth column in your group? Do you think you have identified potentially even military or former military
working with and for the Russians?
KULEBA: War is always a moment of truth. And people demonstrate their best and their worst.
Someone who seemed to be strong in times of peace becomes weak in times of war, and vice versa. So, of course, Russia had its agents in Ukraine at
different levels. Of course, we have been going after them, and we continue doing so.
But the dismissals are not -- are taking place not only because someone allegedly -- I am not the judge, so I cannot -- I cannot make the final
judgment -- but someone was a traitor, but also because someone was not effective enough or not resolved enough in protecting the country, in
I have the same -- the same story in the diplomatic service. Some ambassadors are acting well and demonstrate great efficiency. Others are
not as strong. And I had to make my decision. So it's a normal thing.
KULEBA: War is a moment when everyone understands who is worth what.
Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, thank you so much, indeed, for joining us again.
KULEBA: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: Now, Ukraine is relying on the United States and Europe for its very survival, but can these countries actually hold the line, no matter
Earlier, I spoke to the German foreign minister, Annalena Baerbock, and asked her whether she and the other E.U. nations were committed to keeping
the sanctions and keep the cost on Putin for his aggression.
AMANPOUR: Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, welcome to the program.
ANNALENA BAERBOCK, GERMAN FOREIGN MINISTER: Hello, and good evening.
AMANPOUR: So, it's been about 36 days of this war. Can you and your government assess where we are at the moment? What do you think is the
endgame for Putin?
BAERBOCK: Unfortunately, I would say nobody knows, because nobody could have imagined that a president from a European country would attack so
brutally its neighbor, because it's not only a neighbor. There are so many families, friends, relationships between Ukraine and Russia.
We have also seen that this is not only an attack on Ukraine, but it's also an attack on the European peace order. So that's why we have answered as we
did, together with the United States, together with Canada, together with many other countries aboard, but especially together as the European Union
with the strongest sanction package we have ever had to make sure that this breach of fundamental international law and of the European peace and
security order is not being tolerated in any way, and that we will stop Putin with whatever we can do.
AMANPOUR: Let me ask you about that, then, because the French prime minister, your counterpart, has said that winning this is a strategic
necessity for the West. That's a big, big aim, a strategic necessity.
If that's the case, and whether you agree if that's the case, do you believe you're doing enough to actually achieve your strategic ends? Your
Polish compatriot, the prime minister opponent, I spoke to yesterday, and he said, look, the Russian ruble has -- is doing fairly well against the
dollar. It's not really yet impacting Putin. He is getting oil revenue.
How do you expect to influence him going forward?
BAERBOCK: Well, I think we have to be very honest in this so difficult situation, because we are all humans. And everybody from us is a mother, is
a grandmother, is a sister, is a father, is a nephew.
And everybody from us wishes that peace would be there tomorrow. But the brutal reality is that Putin himself has chosen to do the opposite, to
fight a war against civilians, and to fight a war against the European peace order.
And this is why we have answered with the sanction package. But we have to face reality also that we are in a situation that NATO is standing there in
solidarity with Ukraine, and, on the other hand, Russia, which has made clear that there are no red lines for themselves.
So, this is why we support military-wise with weapons as Europeans. We are supporting also from Germany with weapons, which we haven't done in the
past, because the reality has changed so brutally. We have set up this sanction package, but it is in Putin's hands, because he's the one who
started the war without any region -- reason.
And this is now his responsibility to end the war. And we pressure the system of Putin by the sanctions, so that he's being isolated. And we, as
an international community, are making very, very clear that these are heavy costs on his own society, on his own citizens. But, unfortunately, in
this world, in the 21st century, we are all in dependence -- we are all connected to each other.
So, therefore, the question you were raising about fossil fuels, oil, and energy, Europe is connected with Russia, and, therefore, we are working
every day to phase out also with regard to our fossil dependency on Russia.
AMANPOUR: I'm going to get into that in just a second.
But, first, I want to -- I mean, you can see probably -- anyway, everybody can see behind me that it's foggy. The fog of war literally is
demonstrating itself here in Kyiv. And the reason I mention it is because there seems to be a fog about what Putin knows and what he doesn't know,
how much he's being made aware.
U.S. and other intelligence say he's being misled. Your chancellor has been speaking to him. I don't know whether you have had a recent readout,
whether he's talked to Putin recently. But what are you getting from any kind of interaction with Putin right now? What is he saying to you?
BAERBOCK: Well, obviously, he's totally isolated, or he -- other way around. He isolated himself, and not only within the last week, within this
war, but even in the times before, because, obviously, he had a scenario that he would just invade Ukraine within a couple of days, that there
wouldn't be any resistance from Ukrainian.
He entered in this war with a false narrative, with lies, saying that he would have to free Ukraine .But he was actually attacking Ukrainians,
Russian-speaking Ukrainians. He was attacking innocent people. And this belief, this wrong narrative he has been telling to the world is obviously
also something what he's believing himself.
When my chancellor, when the president of France, when others are speaking to Putin, obviously, they are telling him that he started the war on lies,
that he broke with international law, with everything we are standing for together in this world.
But he is obviously not only not listening to my chancellor, to other international partners, but, obviously, also the few people who are left
behind him or around him who can actually speak to him do not even dare to tell him the truth also about the reality in Ukraine that his troops are
not being as successful as he obviously thought in the past.
And I think this is so important that we not only answer with sanctions, but that we all together, as an international community, tell the truth
around the world, because we can see that he is spreading his narrative, his lies also around the world about the aggression in Ukraine, but also
with regard to food security.
And we have to ensure that the world knows about the true facts, that it was Russia attacking Ukraine, and that the problems we are facing now
around the world with regard to food security, but also with regard to energy prices, which are hitting many, many countries in Africa and Asia,
but also in Europe, very, very heavily, that this is a fault of President Putin.
AMANPOUR: So, let me ask you about that, because one of your own ministers has said -- and let me just quote your economy minister -- that Germany
will be poorer because of Russia's assault on Ukraine, but that he believes -- quote -- "We are ready to pay that price."
Do you share that optimism about the solidarity of your people, not to mention your government, if it starts really hitting them in the pocket?
BAERBOCK: Well, I'm part of the government.
And therefore, yes, I definitely not only believe it, but we are working every day on hitting the Russian regime, because he breached with
everything we are standing for. And this is also a price on our own economy, on our own citizens, because we have a such high dependency on
There, we can also see the mistakes in the past from Europe, but also from my country, from the former government, because we had a such high
interconnection, especially in the field of energy. And we all remember that the former government have said that Nord Stream 2, for example, is
only an economic project.
But everybody knew -- and I was always addressing this -- that this has not only geopolitical consequences, but also it's a security question for
Ukraine. But this is spilled milk right now. And we have to learn for the futures.
And that is why we are totally disconnecting now all our dependency on energy with Russia. We are phasing out oil, coal and also gas in the
upcoming months. With gas, it's very, very difficult because we have such a high dependency, but we have made clear that we are phasing out totally.
And, yes, this has effects on the prices in Germany.
But this is nothing compared to the price Ukrainians are paying because people are dying in this minute.
AMANPOUR: So you indirectly swiped at the chancellery of Angela Merkel. Do you think that she was too soft? She was known as the only person in
Europe, frankly, that President Putin respected.
Do you believe she was too soft on Nord Stream, on reaction after the 2014 invasion of Eastern Ukraine, Crimea annexation?
BAERBOCK: Well, I think this is not the time for finger-pointing, because every politician, every responsible politician in Europe has now the
responsibility to do everything to end this war.
But what I have said already a minute ago is that we should never face this again, that we are having such a high dependency on other countries,
especially on other countries which do not share our values, which are not standing on our common values and common rules. And this is a lesson we
have to learn.
We had it not only with regard to Nord Stream 2. We had also debate within the European Union on the question, for example, critical infrastructure
with regard to telecommunication. We have said, in 2014, as European Union -- you mentioned Crimea -- that we have to be independent from Russia.
But, obviously, we didn't do enough, or we actually did the contrary. So, this is why we have to learn now from the past. And, on the other hand, we
have to see what was good. And this was that we actually kept the sanctions from 2014. And this is why, for me, it's now also so important when we are
talking about sanction packages right now that these sanctions do not only work for a couple of days or even a couple of weeks, but these sanctions
have to stay in place until Ukraine is free and in peace again.
And that's why it's so important that, when we formulate a new sanction package -- and I totally agree with my French colleague -- that we are
having -- we have to prepare a new sanction package, but this sanction package has to be not only strong; it has to also stay as long as it has to
AMANPOUR: Foreign Minister Baerbock, let me ask you whether you feel you have faced Putin down over this oil.
You have all been saying that he's been extorting you and blackmailing you with demands to be paid for oil and gas in rubles and not euros, and then
saying that he was going to cut off the exports. This has not transpired. He hasn't and they're still running. And he will continue to accept euros.
Do you feel that you faced him down?
BAERBOCK: Well, I wish I could say yes to this question, but this will be only the case when Ukraine is free again and when people in Ukraine can
live in peace again, because the overall goal is that this bombing ends, and that citizens of Ukraine can live safety in their country again.
So, unfortunately, even though it was very important that we gave a strong answer on this ruble question, that we are not being blackmailed, and that
we are not playing games, but this is only one minor part, because the most important thing is that this bombing of civilians end.
And you're Kyiv right now, you know how the situation is, for example, in Mariupol, that there are still more than 100,000 civilians in the city. And
even though Putin is saying every other day that he is having, as he is calling it, peace negotiations, but on the same moment, he is bombing
Mariupol, he is bombing so-called humanitarian corridors. He's not allowing medicine and food inside the cities, which is obviously a violation of
humanitarian law. So, it's war crimes.
So, you cannot say on the one hand that you are having so-called peace negotiations and on the other hand, you are bombing hospitals. And
unfortunately, we see that his game is not only about ruble or euros being paid for gas, but it is still the question that we need an end to these
AMANPOUR: In the meantime, Germany has just announced, your country has just announced that it will be delivering some 56 tanks to the Ukrainians.
This, again, would be a first. You've delivered lethal aid for the first time in Germany's post-war history. And, you know, it's been observed
around the world that since the beginning of this war, you have, as a nation, turned your foreign policy and your defense policy essentially 180
degrees from what it was post-World War II. Talk to me about that, and how important that is for you.
BAERBOCK: Well, frankly speaking, I wished we wouldn't have the need for doing these steps because I am a generation who grew up in peace in Europe.
We thought in Europe that facing war would never address us again. We saw it at the Balkans at the beginning of the '90s.
Also, those days, it was a government in Germany, also a green foreign minister who said, we have to end these atrocities. And engaging back then,
first time, a German military, again, in war. And after that we worked on building a peace structure also with regard to Russia. But obviously, we
have been lied to. And therefore, as you have said, yes, we had to change our course in Germany by 180 degrees because Ukraine needed our also
military support. We tried everything to win this war but it was Putin's decision to do the opposite. And that's why, now, we are also delivering
weapons to Ukraine in compliance with Article 51 of the U.N. Charter that Ukraine can defend itself.
AMANPOUR: And, Foreign Minister, I'm sure you didn't expect to become foreign minister as a member of the Green Party at a time of war. And, yet
you are. And your own chancellor said that the security of the nation right now rests in the hands of three women, yourself as foreign minister, your
defense minister who is a woman and indeed, the minister of Homeland Security. A sort of a feminist foreign policy.
Do you agree with him? And how do you think that strategically changes and, you know, your foreign policy and your security policy as a nation?
BAERBOCK: Well, we are definitely at a crossroads because we have never formulated actually a national security policy. But as a world and as the
reality has changed, we also have to change politics. This is why we actually do politics to address challenges ahead.
And maybe it's a chance that this will show us a line now in the hands of women because we are formulating now a security policy with the concept of
human security addressing to everybody. And I can -- I think that, especially in those days when we are saying, we are speaking about
security, this means not only being secure against war, but also having the choice to live in freedom.
This is what the Ukrainians have been fighting for in the last years. And also, security meaning, for example, food security or even with regard to
the climate crisis. So, it's a human security with three dimensions addressing every person in society. And we can see now, also, in war how
important it is to have agenda look at this, and this is why I'm saying, this has also a feminist foreign policy dimension. For example, addressing
the situation that also rape is being used as a weaponry within the war.
We have experienced this at the war at the Balkans. And now, we are facing it, unfortunately, again in Ukraine when we are hearing reports of women
being raped. So, this is a comprehensive security approach we are addressing right now not only as Germany, but together with our European
friends and neighbors.
AMANPOUR: Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, thank you so much for joining us from Berlin today.
BAERBOCK: Thank you. All the best.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And Germany is not just stepping up militarily, it is also doing its part to help the many people who are fleeing this crisis. It has
registered nearly 300,000 Ukrainian refugees so far.
Now, earlier this week, Andriy Yermak, President Zelenskyy's chief of staff, told me that Ukrainians are "fighting for our land, country and for
all of democracy." That is an issue our next guest tackle. Anne Applebaum is staff writer for "The Atlantic" and she's a Pulitzer prize-winning
Her latest article, "There is No Liberal World Order" argues that unless democracies defend themselves together, the forces of autocracy will
destroy them. And she joins Michel Martin to discuss this existential struggle.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHEL MARTIN, CONTRIBUTOR: Thanks, Christiane. Anne Applebaum, thank you so much for joining us.
ANNE APPLEBAUM, STAFF WRITER, THE ATLANTIC: Delighted.
MARTIN: You've been writing with some urgency for some time now about what you see as threats to democracy, democratic institutions worldwide. In
fact, you've said very bluntly that the autocrats are winning. Why do you say that?
APPLEBAUM: Our idea of an autocracy that it is a strong man, you know, maybe he controls the police, maybe there are a few dissidents, you know,
he has some propaganda newspapers is very outdated. Nowadays, autocracies work together. The state-owned oligarch-controlled companies in one country
invest in the state-owned oligarch-controlled companies in another.
They share surveillance technology. They share intelligence information. They work together and help one another in different parts of the world.
They help one another evade sanctions. They have similar goals namely to push back against the democratic activism in their own countries. And very
often, to undermine or attack democracies around the world, especially America and Europe, but also elsewhere.
And so, what we're really dealing with now is it's not a formal network, it's not a block, but it is a semiorganized almost like a corporation, you
know, autocracy.inc, which is now putting up barriers to democracies trying to undermine them, trying to, you know, alter the rules of the game,
really, in the world. And you know, of course the most blatant and grotesque and violent evidence of this is the war in Ukraine.
MARTIN: How is what we're seeing in Ukraine fit into this broader pattern? Because I think that people have been, you know, appropriately so, very
focused on the immediate, physical suffering of the people of the country, the huge refugee outflow as a consequence of this sort of onslaught. But
how does the Ukraine campaign, how does Russia's attack on Ukraine fit into this broader pattern?
APPLEBAUM: So, Russia's attack on Ukraine is really just the most egregious example of something we've seen a lot of in the last few years,
namely the fact that autocracies no longer believe that there are any rules to follow or any norms that need to be met. So, whether it's hijacking
planes, whether it's poisoning their citizens and other citizens, whether it's kidnapping or whether it's really assaults on their own people as
we've seen, for example, in Venezuela or in Burma. Whatever the offense is, they no longer feel any restraint.
There's no -- human rights norms don't interest them. International law doesn't interest them. They're willing to defy all of that. And this -- the
Russian invasion of Ukraine is just the most blatant version of, you know - - of that. I mean, look what Russia has done over the past several years. It's poisoned dissidents both at home and outside the country. It's -- you
know, it's kidnapped people. It's murdered people. It's -- you know, the Russian state is -- has no qualms about assaulting anybody. And now, you
know, having met no real resistance, they're now -- you know, they've now carried that to a much higher level in the invasion of Ukraine.
MARTIN: And also, I guess, I think what you would point out, assaulting people, poisoning people beyond their borders.
APPLEBAUM: This is something that some have called transnational repression. In other words, when the organs of an autocratic state reach
across borders and attack either their own citizens or foreigners and violating local laws, violating national law, and this is something that's
been happening repeatedly in a number of countries around the world. And have so far met no real resistance from the West or from the Western
And so, you know, they feel kind of impunity. You know, they're able to continue committing these crimes and nobody is particularly bothered by it.
MARTIN: Well, that, of course, invites question is, why are they facing no real resistance from democracies? I mean, obviously, in the United States,
we became well acquainted with the former president's seemingly infatuation with the Russian president. But your writing recent -- especially in your
most recent article, you say that this actually goes beyond that, it actually pre-dates this, this refusal of the West to take this seriously.
Is there a moment that you could identify where this sort of refusal to take this seriously became most obvious? And why do you think that is?
APPLEBAUM: There are two phenomena. One is the phenomenon of actual fascination with autocracy that we saw in the Trump administration but we
also see in some politicians in other democracies. And in addition to that, there is, on the other side of the political coin, there is a refusal to
believe that this is real.
I think it really dates back, in fact, to the 1990s when you had the beginnings of -- very soon, actually, after the collapse of the Soviet
Union, the beginnings of a revivals of Russian imperialism which got no reaction in the West. You saw it, you know, when there was a kind of theory
in that era and it continued in the 2000s that if we just trade with Russia, if we trade China, we will somehow -- you know, we'll convinced
them to became part of our institutions, we'll democratize them by helping them get rich.
And all throughout that era, there was this illusion that if we just trade with them, things will get better. And actually, the opposite happened. It
turned out that trading with autocracies makes the ruling parties or the leaders wealthy and it doesn't make them more democratic or more liberal or
more likely to abide by international law at all.
And so, really, this dates back quite a long way. I mean, maybe an important break also probably happened during the Obama administration when
Obama didn't take the first invasion of Ukraine, the invasion of Crimea quite as seriously. He thought it was a regional problem. It was something
that -- you know, it was Russia's problem with Ukraine and it didn't look to him. And to be fair, it didn't look like to most people yet like it was
a part of a larger pattern. And I think the pattern has become clear, though, over the last eight years.
MARTIN: Talk about Hungary. I mean, it's just been fascinating to watch Hungary's leader -- I don't know what you want to call it, sort of this
sort of goodwill missions around the world, even -- he was even warmly received in Israel by the prior administration of Benjamin Netanyahu. What
-- and there are elections now coming up in which, you know, reporters are noting how even though in the past Viktor Orban has won elections, which
were reasonably free and fair, he has now changed the rules -- he's been changing the rules aggressively to advantage his own party. Would you just
talk about that? And this has been happening in plain sight. None of this is a secret.
APPLEBAUM: Yes. I would say it has been a while since there were free and fair elections in Hungary, and the playing field gets more and more skewed
all of the time. But, yes. I mean, Viktor Orban offers to many Democrats who are tired of their own democracies or they dislike some aspect of their
own countries or they are simply hungry for power, he offers a model.
Here's how, as an elected Democrat -- and the first time he was certainly elected, here's how you can take control of your country's institutions,
undermine the media, undermine the courts, change the constitution, change the electoral laws, you know, manipulate the results of elections and
here's how you can stay in power indefinitely.
And that's a model that many people admire, many Americans -- members of the Republican Party admire it. Many people admire it in Poland or in
France or in Germany. You know, it's an appealing model if you're a Democratic politician who doesn't think, you know, democracy, who doesn't
think much of your own country or much of your political system.
And so, you know, the result in Hungary is going to be interesting to watch. I find it hard to believe that Viktor Orban would allow anyone else
to win. I don't think that was ever really on the cards, but it will never be interesting to watch how it plays out.
MARTIN: And when you say taking over the media, taking over these institutions changing, could you just be a little bit more specific? You
mean, literally taking -- has literally taken over media institutions or rather his sympathizers have. Can you just be more specific about the way
in which he's really bent on what were independent institutions to his own purpose?
APPLEBAUM: So, what Orban has done, for example, to the media in Hungary is complicated, it's not the same thing as an outright nationalization.
It's not censorship. Instead, what he did was he manipulated the advertising market so that, you know, particularly, you know, government
companies with state-owned companies would spend a lot of money on newspapers that were favorable to him, newspapers that were unfavorable to
him or television stations would find the advertising market dried up, you know, companies who advertise in those media or would lose government
contracts or would suffer in other ways and would have tax inspections or something like that.
And so, essentially, he starved out the independent media. And then, as they began to go bankrupt, he arranged for his cronies for people who were
close to him political to buy up those properties. So, it was all legal, sort of, but it was a way of manipulating the market. And it was possible
to do that because it's a relatively small country. And -- you know, and because, you know, the business community was quite craven and eventually,
they became quite afraid. So, a lot of businesses eventually moved out of the country.
I mean, at the same time, he was creating his own set of oligarchs. So, a set of business people who were essentially dependent on him and on his
party for their business. They were -- they got subsidies. They got contracts. They got deals. And some of them -- these were private
companies. Nevertheless, they benefited from their relationship to him and those who didn't have that relationship suffered.
So, he twisted the economy. He twisted the media market. And in that way, took it over. So, in practice, in Hungary, there is no real independent
television, nobody watches television news that isn't pro-government. And by pro-government, I mean, viciously partisan, not just kind of bias, but
viciously, viciously and aggressively partisan.
And there -- it's very difficult to find any media at all that's in the opposition. There are a few websites run by very brave journalists but it's
certainly not a balanced market, and most Hungarians wouldn't see anything that's in opposition to the government at all. And that --
MARTIN: And, of course, the voter rules. And the voter rules, too, sort of manipulating the rules around voter access is also good.
APPLEBAUM: Yes. So, the other thing that Orban did was he manipulated the constitution. He kept changing the rules about voting. He changed, you
know, the rules about how you count the majority in Hungary. They have parliamentary politics, which is different from the U.S.
But essentially, he manipulated the system so that even when he had a little tiny majority of, you know, a couple of percentage points in the
polls, he would have a huge majority in parliament, which then gave him, you know, the constitutional majority, you know, and enabling him to enact
all kinds of deep changes. And so, that was also a part of his system, to change the political system in order to give his political party
MARTIN: Now, you know, you cannot help but notice the similarities to some of the initiatives taking place in the United States. In the United States,
we are seeing similar movements. We are seeing people who are inventing, you know, fraud that doesn't exist in order to create a rationale for
making it harder for people to vote, sort of certain people to vote but not others, you know, changing the forms of identification that people can use.
I understand that you spend a good deal of your time overseas. But you're looking at both countries. I mean, you travel back and forth, and I wonder,
do people see these similarities as part of a larger trend?
APPLEBAUM: So, not only do people see these similarities -- and by the way, I do spend a lot of time in the U.S. But not only do people see these
similarities, there is a part of the Republican Party and particularly, a part of the conservative establishment, that now sees Hungary as a model.
You know, CPAC, which is one of the most important conservative conferences, is being held in Budapest for a reason.
You know, the, you know, leading conservative commentators, you know, Tucker Carlson from Fox News go to Budapest to broadcast for a reason. They
go there because they see the manipulation of democratic institutions as something they would like to do in the United States.
So, I think not only are they similar, I think they aren't -- you know, the Americans are modeling themselves on what happened in Hungary or some
Americans. I don't want to say everybody. It's not the entire Republican Party, but part of the Republican Party sees that as their goal. They also
want to create a system whereby they have a part with the minority -- support of a minority of the country that nevertheless controls everything
indefinitely or at least, you know, for a very long time.
So, yes, I think there is a direct relationship. I think it's a causal relationship. I think what Orban has done has been very influential on the
part of the Republican Party.
MARTIN: So, in your latest piece you say, there is no natural liberal border. And there are no rules without someone to enforce them. Unless
democracies defend themselves together, the forces of autocracy will destroy them. These are very strong words. Talk a bit more about what are
the steps the democratic nations need to embrace now with urgency to fight autocracies, not just here in this instance, but around the world and going
APPLEBAUM: So, I think the immediate recognition that this liberal world order or these norms that we talk about, you know, aren't real unless we
defend them and unless we're even willing to militarily defend them is a very important realization, and I don't think it's quite dawned on anybody
yet. That -- you know, that's the first piece of it.
The second piece of it is, the way in which we've enabled kleptocracy, we've allowed corruption to grow around the world and we've allowed corrupt
people and politicians to infiltrate our systems, to use our banking system to hide their money, our property markets. You know, we've allowed their
money to manipulate even our political systems.
Understanding that and fighting back. You know, ending tax havens, you know, ending the -- you know, the shell company. Why do we need to have
anonymous companies, for what reason? Ending some of those practices, I mean, those are legal practices, they exist because some legislature pass a
law, they can also be de-existed I mean, they can be abolished in the same way.
I would say, thirdly, thinking in a much deeper and more profound way about how we communicate to the rest of the world, you know, the idea that there
is a marketplace of ideas and the best ideas will win, that's not true in a world in which, you know, Viktor Orban owns all the newspapers and Vladimir
Putin controls all of his television channels. So, beginning to think about how we communicate our values, how we speak to the inhabitants of
autocracies and indeed of other democracies, that would be the third thing.
I mean, the fourth thing, you know, is usually discussed in a different context. But, you know, there now is a double reason to end our dependence
on carbon, on oil and gas, because oil and gas not only are polluting the planet, they are also the source of funding for, you know, several major
autocracies, you know, some of the most difficult, bloody and disruptive countries in the world, you know, Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela,
these are all countries that exist and thrive because a small of click of people have got hold of natural resources and are able to exploit them
because the rest of the world is dependent on them for energy use. You know, time to move rapidly away from those sources of energy and to find
something different both because of climate change and because, you know, those things enable democracy.
And then, finally, I would say for the inhabitants of democracies, taking this seriously. You know, maybe democracy isn't just a thing that's like
tap water, you know, you just turn it on and it's always going to be there or maybe it's something that's going to require you to participate in local
institutions or to join a party or to help a campaign or to, you know, work even in your local co-op board. I mean, whatever it is, being engaged in
public life is not, I think, optional anymore.
You know, more people need to do it. They need to understand that democracy only works to the extent that citizens are motivated to support it and
participate in it.
MARTIN: Anne Applebaum, thank you so much for speaking with us.
APPLEBAUM: Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And finally, tonight, as I mentioned, the day-long fog that has descended over Kyiv all day seems to match the unclear nature of what
people understand of Putin's intentions and where his war is headed.
Five weeks in, there are still so many unanswered questions, like, will Moscow's aggression result in a stalemate? Will this be an ongoing war of
attrition, with Russian forces repositioning and reassessing their strategy, are they digging in for the long haul or will the stiff Ukrainian
resistance crack Russia's resolve? We'll be watching and we'll be reporting from here as this massive crisis intensifies.
That is it for now. And if you ever miss our show, you could find the latest episode shortly after it airs on our podcast. Thanks for watching
and good night from Kyiv.