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Humanitarian Crisis in Ukraine; Interview With Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired April 05, 2022 - 13:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Hello, everyone, and welcome to AMANPOUR live from Kyiv.
Here's what's coming up.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): As President Zelenskyy makes a desperate call for action at the U.N. Security Council, we see the physical toll of war with a
special report from inside a Ukrainian military hospital.
Then: As Lithuania becomes the first E.U. country to quit Russian gas, their prime minister will join me.
And some of Ukraine's prisoners of war return home. They tell us what their Russian captors did to them.
Plus, the International Red Cross on the desperate effort to get aid in and civilians out.
Also, former U.S. Treasury Secretary Larry Summers tells Walter Isaacson that Russia's war is taking a heavy toll on the global economy.
AMANPOUR: Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in Kyiv.
Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has made an impassioned plea to the United Nations Security Council. It was his first speech to the body since
the war began. Listing the atrocities that took place in the city of Bucha and calling for action, the president went so far as to question whether
the Security Council is even fit for purpose anymore.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): Where is the security that the Security Council needs to guarantee? It's not there,
although there is a Security Council. And so where is the peace?
Where are those guarantees that the United Nations needs to guarantee? It is obvious that the key institution of the world which must ensure the
coercion of any aggressor to peace simply cannot work effectively.
Now the world can see that the Russian -- what Russian military did in Bucha while keeping the city under their occupation, but the world has yet
to see what they have done in other occupied cities and regions of our country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Now, just after that speech, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations called on the assembly to suspend Russia from the Human Rights
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: Russia's participation the Human Rights Council hurts the council's credibility. It
undermines the entire U.N. And it is just plain wrong.
Let us come together to do what is right and do right by the Ukrainian people. Let us take this step to help them to start to rebuild their lives.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Now, the Russian invasion of Ukraine is, of course, taking a brutal toll on the people who live here. The nation, of course, braces for
more horrors to be revealed as more territory is liberated by their army.
Correspondent Ivan Watson talked with some badly injured soldiers and civilians when he visited a military hospital.
War is painful, and it's horrible, and you might find some of the images distressing.
IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Shattered bodies in the intensive care unit of a Ukrainian hospital, men
and women from the Ukrainian military whose war wounds are so catastrophic, they need machines to breathe.
These deeply uncomfortable images a glimpse of the physical toll this conflict is taking on both soldiers and civilians.
(on camera): The general director of the hospital says that, after the first couple of days of this new war, at least 30 medical personnel
resigned because of just the trauma of seeing these kinds of injuries up close.
(voice-over): A soldier named Yuri wants to communicate.
(on camera): He can't speak because he's still on a ventilator. He has regained consciousness after 11 days in a coma.
(voice-over): We won't identify him because doctors say his family does not yet know of his injuries.
(on camera): He has one child.
(voice-over): A daughter, he signals, 13 years old.
Writing in my notebook, Yuri tells me he's been in the military for two years.
(on camera): The doctors say that he has a very good chance of surviving very serious shrapnel injuries to his body.
We were given permission to film here, provided we not name the hospital, nor the city that we're in. And that's because the Ukrainian authorities
fear that that information could lead to the Russian military directly targeting this hospital.
(voice-over): In every room here, there's a patient whose bones and tissues have been ripped apart by flying metal.
(on camera): Vladimir is a volunteer. He signed up on the second day of this war in 2022.
(voice-over): This electrician-turned-volunteer-soldier comes from the Russian-speaking city of Kharkiv. Three days ago, a battle left him with
two broken arms and wounds to the stomach.
(on camera): Vladimir says his sister lives in Russia, and he no longer communicates with her. I asked why. He said that she believes that the
Ukrainians are enemies.
This is a family that is split apart by this war and different narratives of who started it.
(voice-over): Vladimir and the soldier with a fresh amputation lying next to him both insist that only force can stop Russia's war on this country.
Down the hall, I meet a young civilian also horrifically wounded.
(on camera): Deema is 21 years old.
Where are you from?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mariupol.
WATSON (voice-over): Deema is a recent university graduate photographed here with his mother, Natasha.
"My mother died when this happened to me," he says, adding: "I have cried it off already. I'm calmer now."
He says, on the night of March 9, he and his mother were hiding in the bathroom of a two-story house in the center of Mariupol when they heard
warplanes overhead bombing the neighborhood. Mother and son were hiding in the bathroom shortly before 1:00 a.m., he says, when the bomb hit the
house. When he woke up, his legs were gone. He never saw his mother again.
During my visit, a friend gives Deema a phone.
(on camera): This is the first time he's seeing the building where he and his mother were sheltering when they were hit.
The red car here that is destroyed in front of the ruined building was his mother's car.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Of course I get angry. I get sad. I get depressed at times. But I can't lose my cool, because those who did
this to me, they probably want me to sit here crying and weeping.
WATSON (voice-over): Don't let the silence in these halls fool you. There is deep, seething anger in this hospital at the country that launched this
unprovoked war on Ukraine.
AMANPOUR: Now, after the latest atrocities, the European Union is now proposing a ban on Russian coal imports.
But my next guest has already gone a step further. Lithuania has become the first member of the E.U. to cut Russian gas imports to zero. They pulled
the plug this weekend.
And the Lithuanian prime minister, Ingrida Simonyte, joins me now from Vilnius.
Welcome to the program, Madam Prime Minister.
Can I just ask you to react to President Zelenskyy's most impassioned speech to the U.N.? I mean, this is the body that is meant to be able to
help wage peace in the midst of war. And yet he called out the council, and he called out Russia for being a member that is constantly thwarting that.
What is your reaction to him saying that the Security Council may no longer be fit for purpose?
INGRIDA SIMONYTE, LITHUANIAN PRIME MINISTER: Well, just -- I don't know.
I find little argument of disagreement here, because, basically, what we see in this circumstances is that somebody is trying to be a judge in his
own case. And we know that, in a civilized world, this is not the principle that we follow.
And, definitely, we find it a hurdle that cannot be overcome, because Russia will never, ever look objectively at what it is doing. And it does
not even have a purpose of doing this.
Their purpose is to portray the situation exactly the opposite from where it looks like. And we have heard this guy out there, Nebenzia, today with
the slip of tongue when he was actually saying what is happening, that there were no corpses before the Russian invasion. And we all know that.
But what Russia is doing, they are trying to put the things -- their feet up and head down. And, definitely, that doesn't help to strengthen
security, neither in Europe, nor globally.
AMANPOUR: So, as you mentioned, Ambassador Nebenzia basically also called it -- I mean, he directly addressed Zelenskyy afterwards and said,
basically, this is false, that these images are a created.
We all know that's not true, because there is the repeated evidence of it. And they were the only ones there when those corpses ended up in such
terrible -- in such a terrible situation.
SIMONYTE: Yes. Yes. And at the -- I'm sorry.
AMANPOUR: But he also said that he had come just -- go ahead.
SIMONYTE: And, at the same time, they published an article in one of their propaganda resources in how they are going to denazify Ukraine, which is
pretty much -- I have been thinking about Kafka and Orwell, a month-and-a- half ago, when Putin was explaining his views on how the world is arranged, and then the countries have their sovereignty.
But now I must say that they have overbeaten Goebbels by far.
AMANPOUR: So, what do you think? We have heard the -- I mean, the Russian ambassador basically said, we came here not to take over your country, but
to help -- quote -- "the blood-soaked Donbass."
He was accusing the Ukrainian government of encouraging all sorts of crimes in Donbass. So they have essentially alerted and re-alerted what seems to
be their next plan, which is to cut their losses where they have failed and where they have been pushed back, and go to the Donbass. And, also, the
secretary-general said that, too, that we could be of the -- of NATO, in a very crucial new phase.
How do you assess where this war stands right now?
SIMONYTE: Well, I think that, when we speak about Russian retreat and sort of -- some sort of -- I don't know how to call it, maybe a mirage of a
peace deal, we must know that Russia lies. It constantly lies.
So, I think the only thing they want to achieve at this particular moment of time is just to regroup. And I have little confidence in whatever good
will -- in whatever they do, because, basically, they hit the wall in the northern part of Ukraine, due to brave and courageous Ukrainian people.
So, they are trying to lick some of their wounds. But I have no doubt that we will see much more bad footage to come.
AMANPOUR: So you have done what no other E.U. nation has done. And that is, you have stopped all gas imports. As I said, you pulled the plug over
What will be the practical result of that for you and against Russia?
SIMONYTE: Well, basically, none. The practical reason, the practical outcome will be that we will not be paying whatever money to Gazprom for
their gas supplies.
I must say that we were coming to this point for quite many years. It started some 15 years ago, when Gazprom that was having a share in our gas
company actually started manipulating prices. So, what we did, we buy out - - we bought out the share from Gazprom and started to building -- to build alternative gas supplies via sea, the LNG terminal, that started being
operational from 2014.
And now we can fully supply ourselves via sea. Of course, we were sort of diversifying our supplies up to now. But now we decided that we will
definitely stop this minor part of gas that we were getting from Gazprom. And, basically, they also issued this proposal to pay in rubles. And we
offered them to have this proposal together with their warship.
AMANPOUR: Can I just read a tweet from your president, who explained the history of Lithuania and divorcing itself from this energy?
"Years ago, my country made decisions that today allow us with no pain to break energy ties with the aggressor. If we can do it, the rest of Europe
can do it too."
So how would you suggest then to the rest of Europe to do this? And let's not forget that you still, I believe, are bound to an electricity grid that
depends on Russian energy.
SIMONYTE: Yes, but this is technical.
SIMONYTE: And the technical -- we are not depending in terms of electricity supply. It's because of the functioning of the grid that we
cannot disconnect like from day one.
But in terms of commercial interests, we have no commercial interest in this electricity, only the synchronization, that the project of
synchronization takes a little bit of time. And it was started later than the gas, gas supply independence.
So, basically, we cannot change the past. We were suggesting to our good friends in other countries that Europe should not increase its dependency
on Russian gas, but should decrease it, should decouple, because we have learned from our lessons.
And we know that it's always geopolitical when you -- when it comes to dealing with Russia about whatever energy supplies. So, yes, it is
complicated for countries that do not have an alternative route of supply, because if you have, like, LNG terminals or other pipelines coming from
other directions, then it's much simpler.
But I think that Europe needs to wake up to the situation and definitely push the pedal to the maximum speed to get the disconnection, this
decoupling from Russian gas as soon as possible. Times will never be back where they were before this invasion.
AMANPOUR: Prime Minister, obviously, your country and the other Baltic nations are very familiar with the threat that comes from Russia. You share
a border, and you suffered blockade and other political interference, even as the Soviet Union was collapsing.
I think they thought then that they would be welcomed in Lithuania and the Baltics. Their pressure would work and the people would welcome them.
You stared them down. Your country did. Can you just talk about that, particularly with reference to clearly what the Russians thought might
happen here in Ukraine, that they'd be welcomed with open arms?
SIMONYTE: Well, I would say there is a significant difference, unfortunately, because, when it happened here in Lithuania, in my country,
while the Soviet tanks were driving on the streets of Vilnius, and people, innocent people were killed, because they came to protect their Parliament,
their TV center with their sort of bodies, and no guns whatsoever.
It was still the beginning of the USSR collapse. And the leadership of USSR, although I still blame them for what happened, but it was not Putin.
And we have 30 years -- more than 30 from that moment now. For those 20 years, we saw nothing but propaganda and this imperialistic thinking that
was building up within the society of Russia.
And it's a matter of their leaders who started to believe those crazy ideas of Dugin and others are saying about some supremacy that Russia has in
this, as they say, world that is collapsing because of liberal democracy, and this and all this sort of cliches that they usually use.
So, I think that, in terms of aggressiveness, they are even more aggressive than they used to be in 1991. And, of course, in terms of -- but some
things never change, because the people who were responsible for sort of building this propaganda, this support on the ground most probably stole
the money and gave the fake reports to Putin.
AMANPOUR: So, let me ask you about what can be done with President Putin to end this war.
I don't know whether you think he's in a corner, whether you think there's a way that he can somehow be brought to some kind of negotiated end.
But, also, I want to ask, because you have said Russia has ceased to be a civilized country. And you know what President Biden said. For goodness
sake, this man cannot remain in power. They're not -- he's not talking about regime change, but just the thought that this can't happen.
How does one get from here to there, from here to the end of the war, to a negotiated settlement?
SIMONYTE: Well, I think a lot will depend on how principled and how united and how strong the Western world -- and I mean Western world not only
geographically, but in terms of values that we share, including Australia, Japan, and other -- the other democratic countries -- how united they stand
in two things, supporting Ukraine military and all the other ways we can, sort of supporting their fight, but also pressing Russia by adding more and
more very harsh sanctions.
Because you cannot have half-pressed Russia, if I may say so, because then the next bounce-back will be even more brutal then.
AMANPOUR: Can I just ask you about that?
Because many believe that the West essentially brought this on themselves by tolerating and soft-pedaling so much of what's happened over the last 20
years under Putin's Russia. So you, your country did something quite extraordinary regarding China, because that, we understand. China is meant
to have a pretty good hand in trying to talk to Putin, but doesn't seem to be working that yet at the moment.
You, in November, opened an office or allowed Taiwan, under the name Taiwan, to open an office, i.e., embassy, in your capital. And then you got
hit by a lot of Chinese sanctions. What were you doing? Were you trying to be as tough on China as the West should have been on Russia way back then?
What was your purpose in opening that office?
SIMONYTE: Oh, our purpose was to pursue our sovereign interests of strengthening our ties with Taiwan in economic or scientific or culture or
whatever sphere we find fit mutually together with our Taiwanese counterparts.
So, it's not about a particular aim to make a point to Chinese government. But one thing is important in this respect, I must say, because the
boundaries, for me and I think for my country are very clear. We have a civilized set of rules where we operate. And so nobody can come and
And that was exactly what Russia was doing for so many years. They were pushing their red lines wherever they wanted to. And, unfortunately, some
of our partners, some of our friends, some of our allies were accepting this, thinking that, oh, maybe we will give in somewhere, a little bit, and
then we will have -- we will still trade them into a civilized world.
And now we see that it did not happen, and it will not happen.
AMANPOUR: And very finally and quickly, do you have any expectation that China will use its influence with Putin to try to get an end to this war?
We see sort of the opposite, at least in public. They're playing a very pragmatic, very on-the-fence kind of game right now.
SIMONYTE: Oh, in the level of (INAUDIBLE) definitely not, because we see the same and we hear the same blame game about NATO and United States and
other countries of liberal democracy.
But, in practical terms, I think that China will benefit, because the ability to purchase raw materials at very favorable prices most probably
can benefit China. But I think that a lot will also depend on how principled the European Union, the Western sphere of the globe, the liberal
democracies will remain.
And I think that message was sent to Chinese government very well by Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel on their Friday meeting.
AMANPOUR: Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte, thank you so much for joining us from Vilnius.
Now, amid the horror of war crimes, the negotiations between Russia and Ukraine have led to some results. There has been a prisoner of war
exchange, with 86 Ukrainians released so far. And our team gained exclusive access to a group of them who were met here in Kyiv by Ukraine's deputy
And here's what they told us.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): Back home and free, these former Ukrainian prisoners of war, once held by Russian forces are greeted by friends and
colleagues in Kyiv.
Freedom for now is the drag of a cigarette, walking on home turf, even if that means using crutches. Bags of food are handed out to the more than 80
former Ukrainian POWs released in a prisoner exchange with Russia. It's a welcome meal and a moment to decompress and reflect on what many here say
was the physical and mental abuse they endured in Russian custody.
One POW named Gleb says he was captured nearly a month ago while evacuating civilians. He was beaten by Russian soldiers.
GLEB, FORMER POW (through translator): They hit me in the face with machine gun butts and kicked me. My front teeth were also chipped.
AMANPOUR: Anya and Dasha were in the same unit. It was shelled by Russian troops, who they say tried to break them, making them shout "Glory to
Russia." And they shaved their heads, telling them that it was for hygiene purposes.
ANYA, FORMER POW (through translator): Maybe they were trying to break our spirit in some way.
DASHA, FORMER POW (through translator): It was a shock. But then we're strong girls, you know?
AMANPOUR: Dmytro says he was taken by Russian soldiers in Mariupol and suffered daily beatings during his captivity.
DMYTRO, FORMER POW (through translator): They would beat us five to six times a day for nothing. They would just take us into the hallway and beat
AMANPOUR: It's an ordeal, and it will take time to heal, both mentally and physically, though many say they want to go back to their units and
But, before that, Gleb shows us a slip of paper with what he says are the phone numbers of loved ones of prisoners still held captive by the
Russians. He says he will tell the families they're still alive and not to give up hope.
AMANPOUR: Inside the prisoner of war exchange.
Now, getting aid to those in need has been a Herculean task for organizations like the International Committee of the Red Cross. They have
been repeatedly blocked and even detained as they try to reach, for instance, besieged Mariupol, now, despite the fact that the IRC's status is
as a neutral and independent organization.
Joining me now to talk about this is spokeswoman Alyona Synenko.
Welcome to the program.
ALYONA SYNENKO, SPOKESPERSON, INTERNATIONAL COMMITTEE OF THE RED CROSS: Thank you for having me.
AMANPOUR: So, you really do have a difficult task. I know you're trying to get aid into Mariupol. We will talk about that in a moment. But you have
just come back from Bucha.
SYNENKO: Yes, I was in Bucha today.
AMANPOUR: And tell me what you saw and why you went there, as the Red Cross.
SYNENKO: We went there because, for us, a matter of priority is to be close to where people affected by this fighting are.
And we went to Bucha. And what we saw was extremely painful. I saw elderly people, handicapped people alone in unheated apartment with no electricity,
no running water. But, at the same time, there was also a lot of support to each other and solidarity. People get organized. They cook their meals
outside in the street, because there is no gas. They share the little food they have.
And, of course, for us, we try as best we can to bring supplies very quickly, to bring food, to bring medicine to support them in this extremely
AMANPOUR: And do you think they will be able to stay there if they literally have no basics, no utilities? And we have seen, I mean, the homes
and the small town has been devastated.
SYNENKO: The towns are devastated. The amount of destruction is horrendous, especially in Irpin, but also Bucha. In Bucha, many buildings
But when we speak about the elderly, about people who have limited mobility, about people who have other special needs, these people, they
just will not leave. They -- it's impossible for them to leave. So, for us, we try to support them. Our doctor went to see several patients.
We have delivered food supplies. And also now we will work to try to restore some of the essential things like water in these towns.
AMANPOUR: Let's move on to Mariupol, which is just the most horrendous example of siege and constant bombardment and death and killings.
You guys have tried to get in. I mean, that's your job. You're meant to be able to go in. You're independent. You're neutral. You're not meant to be
taking sides. All sides should let you do your humanitarian job. Tell me why you haven't been able to get into Mariupol.
SYNENKO: This is a long and complex operation.
And now we have been trying now for four days to get people out of Mariupol and to get essential supplies into Mariupol. But even before, since the
beginning -- since the beginning of March, we have been trying to organize this operation.
And, unfortunately, the conditions that we're facing just haven't -- are just not there to be able for us to conduct this operation safely and to be
able to facilitate the safe passage for people who wish to leave. This is an ongoing operation, a very complex ongoing operation. So I cannot go into
details about it.
AMANPOUR: I know you don't want to be political.
I mean, it's complex because one side is not letting you go in and get the humanitarian job done. We know the president of the ICRC has been to
Moscow, has talked to the foreign minister there. Do you know whether he's had any success in getting Moscow to actually step up?
SYNENKO: Our president has been to Kyiv. Before he went to Moscow, he came to Kyiv, where he met with authorities here. Then he went to Moscow.
And during this visit, they were not just diplomatic visits, but we did share very concrete proposals on how to alleviate the suffering of people
in this war. But, unfortunately, until now, we have been struggling, because there haven't been concrete agreements that we managed to achieve.
But, as a humanitarian organization, we have no choice but just to keep trying and keep pushing.
AMANPOUR: And what do you think you will find when you get in there, if you get in there?
SYNENKO: I have seen -- what I have seen in Irpin, what I have seen in Bucha -- we are going to Chernihiv tomorrow. Those are scenes of desolation
and scenes of incredible human suffering.
There's just scenes of human pain. People have been through so much. When they start talking to you, they just don't stop -- they start crying
immediately. They all have, like, severe post-traumatic syndrome. They cannot sleep. They cannot eat.
So, I don't want to speculate. But what I see, considering how many weeks now people have been going on with no supplies, with no humanitarian
assistance coming in. I am very concerned about what we might see when we get in.
AMANPOUR: It's been said this government has alleged that the Russians have taken anywhere up to 30 to 40,000 civilians, citizens from Mariupol
and taken them over to the Russian-controlled parts of Ukraine or Russia proper. This government here, Ukraine, says also some 2,000 Ukrainian
children have been removed by the Russian forces.
Do you have any way of verifying that? Is that something that's on your list of to-dos to ask Russians what, you know, they're doing? Have you got
any clarity on those allegations in that situation?
SYNENKO: Our priority is to be close to people affected by this war, by this conflict wherever they are, and this is what we have been trying to
achieve since the very beginning of this escalation and this is why we continue talking to both sides and to make sure that we get the proximity
that we need to be able to do our work.
AMANPOUR: But do you know anything about the forced deportations or just the movement of Ukrainians into Russian territory? Has that come across
SYNENKO: Our work is to protect and to assist.
AMANPOUR: So, you don't want to talk about it?
SYNENKO: Yes. I don't want to talk about it, because the work to protect - - we are protecting civilian population. This work is confidential. It is based on confidential dialect and it is hugely important that we respect
our modalities of work.
AMANPOUR: You know, I understand that. I mean, I've traveled around the world and I've seen the ICRC, and I've seen the neutrality and what -- but
when you don't achieve and when you cannot even get humanitarian convoys into a besieged city, at what point do you have to really start banging
heads together and calling -- you know, calling those people who are forbidding food and aid and medicine to get to desperate people, calling
SYNENKO: We are banging heads together. And because maybe -- because people are not seeing us banging heads together, it doesn't mean that this
is not happening. But a I lot of work and incredible effort is being done to make sure that people get the supplies that they need.
AMANPOUR: I mentioned that some of your own work, some of the ICRC's own workers have been detained. Can you talk about that, whether briefly
detained or permanently detained?
SYNENKO: Again, we are talking about an operation that is ongoing as we speak and I just can't go into the details because it is very sensitive,
volatile, as you have seen, and the priority is to get people out safely.
AMANPOUR: But talk to me about the danger of you doing your work, because it's not just here in Ukraine, it's all over the world that this kind of
work happens. I mean, you are mandated as neutral, independent players and yet, you're often treated as exactly the opposite.
SYNENKO: Neutrality is not a popular concept during the war. During the war where people are hurt, people are being hurt every day, people feel
very strongly, emotions are very strong, and I understand all of this. I am from Ukraine myself. So, I understand. But neutrality is an essential
concept for us to be able to do our work, to be able to go -- to cross the front lines and to bring assistance to people.
And even though it's not always understood, not always accepted we will continue to try to do what we can just to do our work.
AMANPOUR: And good luck to you because everyone wants to see those humanitarian missions succeed.
SYNENKO: Thank you very much.
AMANPOUR: Alyona Synenko, thank you so much indeed for joining us.
SYNENKO: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: So, the shock of what was discovered in territories around this capital is spurring further talk of sanctions against Russia, with this
war, a lingering pandemic and inflation, some economists are warning of an impending recession. Here's the former U.S. treasury secretary, Larry
Summers, talking about the global impact with Walter Isaacson.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WALTER ISAACSON, CNN HOST: Thank you, Christiane. And, Larry Summers, welcome to the show.
LARRY SUMMERS, FORMER U.S. TREASURE SECRETARY AND FORMER DIRECTOR, NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL: Good to be with you.
ISAACSON: You said when you came on the show last time that overheating, over stimulus, too much federal spending was going to cause this inflation.
And unfortunately, you turned out to be right. Do you think we also have to scale back fiscal policy, in other words, not pass more stimulus bills or
COVID spending bills?
SUMMERS: I think we have to pay for any new spending in which we engage. If we have necessary spending, and I certainly think we do. I think it's a
tragedy and a crime that we're not doing more to support international COVID efforts given that disease anywhere is a threat to people everywhere.
I think we clearly, in light of what's happening in Ukraine, are going to need to spend more on national defense.
I think that because we have Ukraine, because we have a pandemic, none of that has made climate change a lesser problem. So, I do think we need to
make fundamental investments, but we need to pay for those investments.
ISAACSON: In other words, we need to raise some taxes?
SUMMERS: We need to raise taxes. Some of the tax increases that we need to implement will be good even if we didn't need the money. It is a tragedy
that we are losing over a trillion dollars over the next 10 years because we don't fund the IRS enough to enforce the tax law. We have had dozens if
not a hundred returns of people or nonreturns of people who earn more than $10 million, never filed taxes, and the IRS didn't even have the resources
to notice in recent years.
We have to invest in the IRS just to get back to where we were and there's the potential to raise hundreds of billions of dollars that way. Secretary
Yellen signed a historic agreement. I think it's a really big deal with other countries designed to make sure that rich, multinational corporations
could run, but they couldn't hide, no matter how they accounted for their income, no matter where they placed it, they would pay taxes to one of the
For that agreement to go into effect, we need to be taking action in the Congress to pass U.S. international tax reform. That needs to take place.
There were other parts of the Trump tax cuts from 2017 that were giveaways. And that is something we should adjust, as well.
So, certainly, we should not be ignoring fiscal policy at this key moment, Walter.
ISAACSON: What has the effect been of the sanctions in the Ukrainian war on our economy? And are those sanctions sustainable? I mean, could we
continue to have rising price of bread because of this war? Rising fuel prices? Isn't that one of the underlying problems we face now?
SUMMERS: Look at the price the people in Ukraine are paying. Look at the price that previous generations of Americans have paid for freedom. Our
problem is not that we have too costly sanctions. Our problem is that the West has cowered and dithered too much with respect to sanctions.
President Putin is deriving as much revenue from the sale of oil today as he was before this war started. The ruble is as strong today as it was
before this war started. The right set of policies would involve the a much more severe ban on oil imports from Russia that has yet been administered.
The right policy would involve forcing Russia into default on its international debts. The right policy would be being less selective than
we've been in which Russian banks that we sanction.
So, we engage the kind of forces that were bank runs and the like that were so destructive to the U.S. economy in 2008. We engage those kinds of forces
to damage the Russian economy today. We have started on that program but we have not gone nearly as far as is possible. And that is what the defense of
And if the consequence of it is that Americans for a few months' pay $5 for gasoline, that is a far, far cheaper price than the price that American
consumers and their children will pay if the world absorbs the lesson that authoritarian aggression is successful.
ISAACSON: You recently published in the academic paper in which you said that high inflation and low unemployment will eventually lead to a
recession. What are the chances you see of a recession starting within the next year or so?
SUMMERS: I think it's probably a bit less than half over the next year and it's probably significantly greater than half, perhaps two-thirds over the
next two years. Over the next two years, Walter. Look, the sample is small and every situation is different. But here's the facts. We have never had a
moment in the United States with unemployment below four and inflation above four when we didn't have a recession start within two years.
Today, unemployment is way below four and inflation is way above four. And that suggests that it's going to be very difficult to engineer a soft
landing. So, I would bet on a recession starting within the next two years.
ISAACSON: Larry Fink said we seemed to be entering the end of the era of globalization. What do you say to that?
SUMMERS: I respect my friend Larry Fink very much, but I think that is a titanic overstatement. And I hope it's a titanic overstatement, and I fear
that it will be a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Is there going to be more emphasis by many companies on just in case relative to just in time? Of course. Are there going to be more limitations
on the flow of technology? Probably there will be. But you cannot uninvent the cell phone. You cannot uninvent the Zoom. You cannot uninvent the kinds
of cameras that are enabling us to see the carnage in Ukraine. And so, I think we are going to live in a much more integrated world than the world
of the year 2000 for the foreseeable future.
So, yes, we may be marching forward toward globalizations and much more rapidly than we did in the past. I think, in general, it's better to know
people than to not know people. So, I am not approving of that trend. But I think to declare that globalization is over and to somehow suggest that we
might go back to some world, like the world of your youth and my youth, Walter, where we thought of American in a certain way and didn't think of
the rest of the world with -- when we thought of America, I think that could happen. But if it happens, it would be a catastrophic scenario where
war becomes that much more likely.
ISAACSON: You've talked about the need for much stronger sanctions, both on oil, banking and everything else. Can we do that without repairing our
relationships with Saudi Arabia and China?
SUMMERS: I think we need to recognize that it's not enough to be right in some abstract sense. You have to have people on your side. And I think we
need to be more pragmatic in our conduct of foreign policy than we have been in recent years in the United States, and that will mean focusing more
on identifying areas of mutual interest with all countries and certainly with Saudi Arabia and with China.
ISAACSON: Do you think that we're trying to be too tough on China now?
SUMMERS: I think we're not being selective enough in our toughness, vis-a- vis China, Walter. We have had a tendency to be overly truculent and shrill in our rhetoric toward China. That does not mean we shouldn't state what
our values are. That doesn't mean we shouldn't stand up for our fairness in trade, but I think we need to be very aware of our need to share a
relatively small planet with China.
And I think we also need to recognize that rather than being the hulking, powerful giant that we tend to see China as, China is beset by financial
problems. China is beset by the problem of exiting from COVID in a largely unvaccinated country. China is challenged by a lack of allies around the
world, that's part of why they have allied so strongly with President Putin.
ISAACSON: The Ukraine war, the pandemic inflation which happening not only here but in Europe and around the world. How is this going to have a
lasting impact on our global relations and on our economies?
SUMMERS: No one knows. You know, the history of the United States is a history of resilience. Winston Churchill never actually said what's
attributed to him, that the United States always does the right thing, but only after exhausting the alternatives. But it captures a deep truth. When
the world changes profoundly, we struggle. We prophecy. Do -- we become alarmed and then, we rally.
And I have the hope that that's going to happen again, that this is going to awaken the next generation of Americans to the seriousness of global
challenges, that seeing our democracy threatened at home is going to remind people of how precious it is. I think the history of the United States is a
history of resilience.
There's an idea of self-denying prophecy. People fear for the worst and then, they do things that make sure that the worst doesn't happen, and even
good outcomes are generated. The new deal at a time of profound darkness about the American economy was formative for the United States. We were
terribly, terribly afraid of the communist threat when World War II ended and terribly, terribly afraid of yet another war in Europe, and we launched
the marshal plan, we created a global order that created the biggest period of peace and prosperity that the world has ever known.
There was enormous fear of the president of the United States to cry a crisis of the national spirit in 1979, Jimmy Carter's famous so-called
malaise speech. But then, we got our confidence back and won the Cold War. So, I believe it's often darkest before the dawn in political life and that
all of this may bring about a new seriousness, a new willingness to sacrifice, a new commitment to a nation and that we may look back on this
period as one in which we were scared into higher levels of greatness. That's certainly what we all need to be wishing for.
ISAACSON: Larry Summers, as always, thank you so much for joining us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Now, optimism there from Larry Summers on the resilience of democracy while also throwing down the gauntlet and warning against
overconfidence and saying the cost of defending democracy can and probably will be painful.
And finally, tonight, few people personified resilience like 82-year-old Margaryta Zatuchna, who as a young girl fled Kharkiv from the Nazis in 1941
and what forced to flee yet again after Russia's brutal inflation.
Correspondent Salma Abdelaziz spoke to Margaryta when she arrived in Krakow, Poland.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm the director of the Jewish Community Center.
SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): This is the moment Margaryta Zatuchna said she finally felt safe. Welcomed by her
Jewish community in Krakow.
MARGARYTA ZATUCHNA, HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR: I am presented with so good flowers and it was -- it smells very well.
ABDELAZIZ (voiceover): We sat down to hear the story from twice a survivor.
ZATUCHNA: I was born in 1940 when the war with Germany began. I was only one year and a half.
ABDELAZIZ (voiceover): In 1941, her family fled their home in Kharkiv where Nazis murdered an estimated 16,000 Jews. She later returned, grew up
and grew old in peacetime. That is until Russian troops invaded, bombing and besieging Kharkiv.
There was no water or power. We couldn't buy food. It was impossible to live, she says. There was explosion after explosion. A real war.
ABDELAZIZ (voiceover): Not even a monument that honors the city's holocaust victims escaped Moscow's so-called denazification campaign. But
Margaryta stayed to care for her sick husband, Valery, as long as she could.
An explosion blew out all our windows, she says. After that shock, he grew weaker and weaker.
ABDELAZIZ (voiceover): After nearly a month of war, Valery passed away. His body still lies in a morgue. There are no funerals because of the
Now age 82, the holocaust survivor knew it was time to go, packed only what she could carry and fled her birthplace.
ZATUCHNA: It is very difficult when my beautiful town where I lived all my life is destroyed.
ABDELAZIZ (voiceover): A driver picked up Margaryta in this vehicle, damaged in an earlier attack. For two days, they travelled out of Kharkiv
and across dangerous territory to Lviv.
ZATUCHNA: It is a very hard road.
ABDELAZIZ (voiceover): From there, she boarded an ambulance and was ferried into Poland. We were tracking her evacuation and met her at the
ABDELAZIZ (on camera): Hi. Welcome to Poland.
ABDELAZIZ (voiceover): But Margaryta still has further to go. She wants to join her brother in New Jersey.
ZATUCHNA: I was not scared.
ABDELAZIZ (on camera): Where is this bravery from?
ZATUCHNA: It comes along to us.
ABDELAZIZ (voiceover): Margaryta hopes to return, bury her husband of 40 years and see her beloved city at peace again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: What a beautiful and poignant story.
Now, the U.S. national security adviser warns that Russia is revising its war aims and shifting its focus to the East. We've heard that a lot from
the NATO chief and even from the Russians themselves. But Russian troops are still hammering southern cities like Mykolaiv. And not far from there,
Correspondent Ben Wedeman and his team wound up just meters away from incoming artillery fire. Here's their report.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is an area where there's been a fair amount of outgoing as well as incoming artillery. Down
the road is a town that has been fought over for several days by Russian and Ukrainian forces.
WEDEMAN (voiceover): In these vast, open spaces the Russians seem far away. They're not.
WEDEMAN (on camera): OK. Down here, John. Down here. Keep on rolling. You see it over there?
WEDEMAN (voiceover): We hug the earth. Two more artillery rounds.
Cameraman john Torigoi (ph) keeps rolling.
WEDEMAN (on camera): All righty. So, we've had two incoming rounds responding to artillery that's been firing in the Russian directions. Those
shells came pretty close to us.
WEDEMAN (voiceover): No one has been injured. The officer tells translator Valery Dubrowska (ph) we need to go now.
VALERY DUBROWSKA, TRANSLATOR: They said go away. Like, hide and run.
WEDEMAN (on camera): OK. OK. I don't think it's safe. I hope the car's OK.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ready to move?
WEDEMAN: Yes. Let's go.
WEDEMAN (voiceover): And so, we run with full body armor to the cars.
One car can't move, peppered with shrapnel.
WEDEMAN (on camera): We're losing petrol.
WEDEMAN (voiceover): No time to lose.
WEDEMAN (on camera): Throw it in the back.
WEDEMAN (voiceover): Driver Igor Tiagno (ph) razor focused on getting us to safety. His car also hit.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go, go, go, go, go.
WEDEMAN (on camera): All right. Right now, we're trying to get out of this area as quickly as possible. Our other car completely destroyed.s
WEDEMAN (voiceover): Crammed into this small car, we approach safer ground.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to go all into that village and then, we'll take a breather.
WEDEMAN (voiceover): The producer Karim Hader (ph) checks the damage to the car. The soldiers we left behind are still out there. We could leave.
Ben Wedeman, CNN, outside Mykolaiv, Ukraine.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Perils for the people here and perils for those of us trying to cover the story, too.
That is it for now. Thanks for watching any good-bye from KYIV.