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Interview With Former U.S. Forces in Afghanistan Commander General John Allen; Interview With Ukrainian Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova; Interview With U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas- Greenfield. Aired 1-2p ET

Aired April 06, 2022 - 13:00:00   ET



CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Hello, everyone, and welcome to AMANPOUR live from Kyiv, where I have just returned from the devastated

town to Borodyanka.

And here's what's coming up.

As new evidence of Russian atrocity mounts, I report on the devastation, and I ask America's U.N. ambassador, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, about

isolating Putin at the United Nations.

I also speak to Ukraine's prosecutor general about her investigation into alleged Russian war crimes.

Then, even as fighting intensifies in the east, Russia continues it strikes near Lviv and other areas. We break down the strategy with General John


And Hari Sreenivasan looks at the digital battlefield here in Ukraine with the investigative reporter Vera Bergengruen.

Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour reporting from Kyiv.

As NATO foreign secretaries meet in Brussels today to discuss new military aid for Ukraine, the secretary-general, Jens Stoltenberg, has this sobering

assessment of the situation here:


JENS STOLTENBERG, NATO SECRETARY-GENERAL: We have seen no indication that President Putin has changed his ambition to control the whole of Ukraine.

But, at the same time, we have to be realistic and realize that this may last for a long time, for many months, for even years.


AMANPOUR: So the meeting continues tomorrow.

Meanwhile, fresh evidence of Russia's atrocities piles up. Here's Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaking today to the Irish Parliament.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): The fact is that, in the 42 days of the all-out Russian war, at least 167 children were

killed in Ukraine. We don't know yet all the atrocities of Mariupol and the victims in other areas of Ukraine where the fighting is still going on.


AMANPOUR: And the mayor of Mariupol compared his city to a new Auschwitz.

Besieged residents have no light, no heat, no power, and still Russia's airstrikes continue.

Earlier today, I visited one recently liberated town, Borodyanka, which Ukraine says could have a worse death toll than Bucha. And that's because

of the heavy bombardments.

Here's what we found.


AMANPOUR (voice-over): "Welcome to Cassia's (ph) Restaurant," it says only Cassia's is no more. Nor are any of the apartments in this block above.

A dining table and chairs, a jacket blowing in the wind still intact the only visible reminders of the families who lived here. The crows caw above

this city of Borodyanka. Perhaps they sense the death here. It is clear that the heavy destruction is mostly along the Main Street. It appears the

Russian armored columns simply opened up with heavy machine guns and artillery as they rumble through town.

Brick by brick, today, the digging starts, trying to find civilians or their bodies buried beneath the rubble, when even their basement shelters

were turned into graveyards. On this corner, they're looking for at least four missing from this block alone, says Victoria Ruben (ph), who's with

the rescue team.

"We have never seen anything like this. It is very difficult for us," she says, "and not only for us, but for the residents of Borodyanka. It is a

great tragedy because of an ill-disciplined force with a license to kill."

(on camera): So this is what Vladimir Putin calls liberating a fraternal, brotherly nation. So either he's done all this because he loves Ukrainians,

or, as most people think now, because he's motivated by a rising hatred and vengeance, motivated by Ukrainians' Westward-leaning democracy, by their

resistance, and by their refusal to come under Russian control.

(voice-over): And, as an afterthought, a bullet to the head of Ukraine's cultural hero, the great poet Taras Shevchenko. Not even statues are


Amid all this destruction, the summary executions, the Ukrainian flag flies proudly in the central square. For good measure, these Ukrainian soldiers

are pulling out a captured Russian tank that was dug in. They say they will use this and anything else the invaders have left behind to fight them in

the villages, in the towns, in the fields and all way back to the Russian border.



AMANPOUR: Linda Thomas-Greenfield is America's ambassador to the United Nations.

A short time ago, we spoke about her efforts, U.S. efforts to isolate and suspend Russia from the U.N.'s Human Rights Council. Here's our



AMANPOUR: Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield, welcome to the program.


AMANPOUR: You know, it's really important to talk to you about what the world can do.

You know and you have heard President Zelenskyy literally tear into the U.N. and his lack of efficacy, as far as he sees it. So let me start by

asking you something that you called for, the U.S. has called for, the suspension of Russia from the Human Rights Council of the U.N.

Can you actually do that? Do you have the votes, do you think?


We have been working very, very hard since this war started to build a coalition of countries who are prepared to condemn Russia. We got 141 votes

the first time we went into the General Assembly. The second time, we got 140. And I have no doubt that we can defeat Russia here on the Human Rights


They don't deserve to be on the Human Rights Council. Every single country in the General Assembly, they know that. How they vote will be very, very

important. And we're engaging with every single country to encourage them to support this effort.

AMANPOUR: So you believe you will get more than those votes that you just enumerated in the past?

THOMAS-GREENFIELD: We need a majority of those present and voting.

And so I don't know that we will get 140. I know that we will get the two- thirds vote required of those voting to win this.


And what is the practical implication of suspending Russia? And why suspension and not outright expulsion?

THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Well, the practical result of it is continued isolation of the Russians, a strong message from the international community that

we're not going to allow them to sit in the Human Rights Council, declare themselves supporters of human rights while they are committing war crimes

in Ukraine.

And so that's the message that we want to send. And that is the effect of that message. It is to get them off of the council, so that they don't use

the Human Rights Council as a propaganda arm for their actions.

AMANPOUR: As for President Zelenskyy, he addressed the Security Council, and he was pretty scathing, Ambassador.

And he referred not just to this conflict, but many conflicts in which the Security Council has pretty much been unable to act in defense of peace.

And let's just take Syria, where Russia was so heavily, heavily implicated, for more than 10 years could barely get the right resolutions passed.

Can I just play what President Zelenskyy said to the Security Council on this matter?


ZELENSKYY (through translator): Where is the security that the Security Council needs to guarantee? What is the purpose of our organization either?

Remove Russia as an aggressor and a source of war, so it cannot blog decisions about its own aggression, its own war, or, if there is no

alternative and no option, then the next option would be, dissolve yourself altogether.


AMANPOUR: So, dissolve the Security Council, that's what the president of Ukraine is saying.

I think the U.S. says there's very little chance of that happening. But give me your impression of what many people feel too often, in the really

serious moments, the toothlessness of the Security Council to wage peace.

THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Look, Christiane, I understand the frustration that President Zelenskyy is feeling. His country is under attack, and the

Security Council has not been able to stop that attack.

But what we have succeeded in doing and we should be recognized for, we have isolated Russia. Their veto does not veto the ability for us to call

them out. The fact that President Zelenskyy was able to speak to the Security Council with Russia sitting in the room and see that horrific film

that he showed was -- shows the power of the council, that we are able to call them out, to condemn them to isolate them before the world, so that

they don't use this platform as a member, permanent member of the Security Council to press their propaganda.

No one believes it. There were 14 countries speaking yesterday, and all 14 countries called for Russia to cease this effort against Ukraine.


So, while we're -- we can't stop the war, we can make it very, very difficult for Russia to sit comfortably in this council and promote the

lies and the propaganda that they have been promoting. And they're failing at that.

What they have succeeded in doing is unifying us. They have unified Europe, they have unified NATO, and they brought together a strong coalition of

condemnation here in New York.

AMANPOUR: Ambassador, you're absolutely right. They have unified the West. That's absolutely correct.

But people do believe them. People do believe their propaganda. Certainly, the Russian people do, and, certainly, many parts of the world that feel

that there's another narrative. For better or for worse, there are many people in many parts of the world, whether they support Russia or not, tend

to believe its narrative on this.

So, can I ask you, as a diplomat and just personally, what was it like when you saw -- you sat in that chamber and you watched President Zelenskyy. And

then you heard the Russian ambassador basically tell President Zelenskyy that everything he was saying and everything the world was reporting was

untrue and it was fake news and all of these atrocities were just made up.

THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Nobody believes them.

And the Ukrainian ambassador was in the room. And I thought he very effectively responded to that. No one believes that we have fake bodies

that the Ukrainians have somehow staged to show this.

And I have to say, Christiane, what is important is what you were doing. You're there. You're on the ground. You have credibility. The press has

credibility here to report these horrific scenes that we're seeing and to tell the world the truth.

And we're going to continue to promote the truth, to promote transparency, and to encourage others to look at this with -- and see what we're all

seeing. And I don't think Russia is winning this propaganda war. They are succeeding inside their own country.

And we have to make a greater effort to get information to Russians themselves, so that they know that their young boys are in Ukraine fighting

against the Ukrainian people, and their bodies are being left on the streets. They're not being brought home.

That's the message that we have to get to the Russian people, so that they understand what is happening as well.

AMANPOUR: Ambassador, in terms of sanctioning Putin's Russia to try to affect his behavior, or at least to try to affect the funding for this war,

it appears the U.S. is backing the sanctioning of two of Putin's children.

And I just wondered if you can tell me more about that, and what effect you think that would have.

THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Look, we have -- the president made clear that we will ensure that these sanctions are felt by Putin and felt by the oligarchs who

are supporting him.

And we are continuing to look at new tools of sanctions that we can use and put pressure on Putin. So, all I can say is that just -- we will continue

in that effort. And we know, we know that they are feeling the pain of these sanctions.

AMANPOUR: Ambassador, I need to ask you one more time about what happens if you're not successful.

The mayor of Mariupol, besieged under the most ferocious bombardment, people literally, we're told, don't even have the required food, medicine,

water, electricity, nothing right now, the mayor there has called it -- and let me quote -- "the new Auschwitz."

We saw what happened when the U.N. Security Council declared areas like Srebrenica safe, when the U.N. Security Council did not intervene to

prevent a genocide in Rwanda. And we saw secretaries-general and presidents apologize afterwards for their lack of ability to affect these matters on

the ground.

I wonder whether that goes through your mind and what you think about what we might find even worse than what we found around Kyiv.

THOMAS-GREENFIELD: You know, it goes through my mind every single day. And that's why we have been so aggressive in pushing for member states to be on

the right side here.

We cannot make any mistakes here. We have to keep the pressure on Russia. We have to call out what they're doing. We know what they're doing is

committing war crimes. And we need to start the process right now of helping the Ukrainians develop the evidence, collect the proof of these war

crimes, and push this forward in the U.N.

And that's why we're pushing for a vote in the General Assembly tomorrow to kick -- or suspend Russia from the Human Rights Council.


And you had asked me earlier about suspension. The reason a suspension is they have a three-year membership there, and we're suspending that

membership for their three years.

AMANPOUR: And, finally, obviously China is critical to this, also a member of the Security Council, and usually votes with Russia.

Are you having any success getting China to work with the other members of the Security Council to isolate Russia? Because they don't seem to be

inclined to do that.

THOMAS-GREENFIELD: You know, we meet -- because we're in the Security Council together, we meet with the Chinese on a regular basis.

And I can tell you that they are uncomfortable in this position. And you will note that, in most of the votes, they abstained. They did not vote

with Russia. They abstained with other countries. And while some countries' abstentions were a disappointment, a China abstention was seen as an

important message that China is not full-board on Russia's side in this unconscionable war against Ukraine.

AMANPOUR: Ambassador, thank you so much indeed for joining us, Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield.

THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Thank you very much, Christiane. Stay safe.


AMANPOUR: And joining me now to talk more about the war crimes is Ukraine's prosecutor general, Iryna Venediktova.

Welcome to the program.

You just heard the U.N. ambassador say that they are trying very hard to help you gather the evidence, get as much of the necessary equipment and

ability to prosecute these crimes. What are the U.N. and other countries doing for you? Is it enough?

IRYNA VENEDIKTOVA, UKRAINIAN PROSECUTOR GENERAL: At first, Christiane, I want to send you that you are here in Ukraine. We are very appreciative of

American citizens. I know about this support, about this sincerely feeling.

You know that we are now fighting for our independence. And American understand -- Americans understand us very well.

About fixing evidence, of course, today's 42nd day of war. And for prosecutors, the main goal, to fix everything what now is going on in

Ukraine. We have, for today, more than two -- more than 400...

AMANPOUR: Four thousand.

VENEDIKTOVA: I wanted to say 4,500 cases only about war crimes, and 2,500 cases which are connected to the war crimes.

Especially, we understand that these cases are absolutely different in their size. In one case, we have only one, for example, fact, fact of

bombing our kid who -- it was his little sister. His name is Rostislav. He was 14 years old. And we have the case about his death. It was a projectile

-- piece of projectile in his chest.

For us, it's very difficult and important, but it's case only with one fact. In other cases, we have thousands now small pieces of such

circumstances. But, again, we can't say that this one case is more important or less important.

That's why fixing evidence -- of course, sorry that I speak maybe too long, but I want to explain that, from first days of war, we started to fix

evidence on the common hub for whole state agency in our country. And ordinary citizens, journalists, NGOs can ask -- can give statement to this

common hub.

Now we have more than 7,000 claimant which will be acceptable in our courts.

AMANPOUR: So, here's the thing. There seems to be so many people on the ground now, which is a good thing, because people are very motivated to

find and to help you gather the evidence.

And we have seen, as the Russians have been pushed back and retreated, once the curtain is pulled back, what we find on the ground, Bucha, Borodyanka,

Irpin, all these names that are going to go down in history. But it seems like there's just a lot of work going on, on the ground.

Does it have to be collected under one organization? Is it the ICC? Is it a special tribunal? How do you actually prosecute this?

VENEDIKTOVA: Actually, we don't have enough human resources.

What -- you have some -- actually, it's really a lot of people on the ground. But, from other side, you understand that we should de-mine

territories. And after that, our law enforcement agency only can go to the streets, and then we can work.

That's why we don't have enough human resources. That's true. That's why I'm very appreciative that other countries can give us experts. And we will

do everything with international community. We collect this evidence for our national courts for ICC, for courts in other national jurisdictions.


Now 10 states opened their own investigations about war crimes in Ukraine.

AMANPOUR: Now, as you know, the Russians simply refuse to accept that this is what's happened, or they just say that it's not true.

You heard the Russian ambassador to the U.N. criticize President Zelenskyy when he talked about the war crimes that he had seen in Bucha the day

before. So the Russian foreign minister says Ukraine is -- quote -- "whipping up hysteria about supposed proof of Russian war crime," said it's

artificial and mendacious, and others say it's fake.

What is your response to them and, actually, to the Russian people, who believe a lot of what they're hearing on their state media?

VENEDIKTOVA: I have heard about this from other journalists.

And for me, actually, it now -- it's really like a surprise. When people ask me about proof, of course, I can speak about proof this projectile

inside the chest of the kid. I can have a lot of other proofs.

But from other side, we can go to other cities, towns, villages of Ukraine, not only Bucha or Borodyanka. For example, Kharkiv, my native city, I was

in Kharkiv several days ago, and I was the metro, where people now live, actually.

And when Russians -- when Russians speak that it's like a fake, they just - - they can come to us and look at this by their own eyes. And then we can discuss fakes or not.

Every day, every night, Ukraine is bombed, and we are still under attack. And we are still in the aggressive, brutal war.

AMANPOUR: Tell me something. I mean I know you're the prosecutor general. But do you think about -- I guess you have to -- what their military next

moves are.

Do you think Kyiv is safe, now that they have been pushed back from Kyiv, for instance?

VENEDIKTOVA: I think that now we don't have safe place in Ukraine, actually.

That's why, of course, people are worried. Now we have the more hot cities, you know, Eastern Europe -- Eastern Ukraine. It's Luhansk-Donetsk region,

Kharkiv, Mykolaiv region. It's -- really, it's a very hard situation.

What about Kyiv? Who knows, actually, but, for these days, I'm very appreciative that you are here and we can stay in Kyiv and speak about


AMANPOUR: Let me talk about law. Let me ask you about -- one of the most important things, well, the fundamental thing about prosecuting war crimes

is to establish the chain of command and command responsibility, yes.

So, yes, you're seeing what you're seeing, but is it the soldier on the street, or is it the Russian Ministry of Defense, or is it the Russian

presidency? How does one take it to where you believe the direction is coming from?

VENEDIKTOVA: You are absolutely right.

The main purpose of prosecutor's service actually to stop these crimes, and to punish people who are responsible for all of this. Now we have our

anchor case. It's a huge case where we have 1,000 episodes. It is case about Russian aggression, crime of aggression.

Now we have, in this case, 315 suspects. They are top level of militaries, politicians, and peace and top propaganda agents. That's why I understand

315. It's a huge number of war criminals, but not enough.

Actually, I understand that, in this anchor case, we will have thousands of suspects. And I want to show for who are overt. Then I want to demonstrate.

Then Ukrainian prosecutor service is possible -- we can to provide this case to the end, and we want that the main politicians will be responsible.

AMANPOUR: One final question about a specific allegation of a war crime.

Drone footage captured an attack on a civilian car. That was on March 7 on what you call here E-40, the highway. Can you describe what you know about

it, how the drone footage may be helping you, what you may be able to do about this particular incident?

VENEDIKTOVA: Unfortunately, it's not only one case on this road.

And we understand what it was. We have a lot of evidence. But I want to be actually very professional and not speak before. We have not only this

video, and not only about this concrete case. Actually, when we see such cases, when our cars are burned and people inside cars were shooted and

burned, and we -- it's like systematical.

It's not only war crimes. It is crimes against humanity. And we will do everything to prove it.


AMANPOUR: Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova, thank you so much indeed for joining us tonight.

VENEDIKTOVA: Thank you very much.

AMANPOUR: Thank you.

Now, military observers say they expect to see a new Russian push in Eastern and Southern Ukraine. And we have been saying that for quite a

while as the forces are moving there. And while a U.S. -- or, rather, U.S. officials assess Russian forces near Kyiv have now completely withdrawn,

NATO officials say Vladimir Putin has his sights set on this city in the longer term.

General John Allen commanded NATO international security forces in Afghanistan. And he's joining me now from Virginia in the United States.

John Allen, welcome back to the program.


AMANPOUR: I just -- what is your sort of initial response, reaction to what you're seeing from afar, obviously, of the state of military play on

the ground here?

ALLEN: Well, first, Christiane, thank you for being at the front and for witnessing this yourself and reporting live from the locations that you

are. It's enormously important to the world to hear your perspective and to hear your reporting. Please be safe.

I think we have seen the initial phase of this conflict pass. It was clear that Vladimir Putin intended, with a relatively light force, to quickly

seize the capital, Kyiv. There were some subordinate avenues of attack into the country, Kharkiv, out of the Donbass and out of Crimea, but the main

effort was going to be to seize the capital.

I think he believed that the military forces in the Ukraine would be quickly swept aside, the population wouldn't resist, the government would

fall, and he would present the West with a fait accompli.

Well, that didn't happen. The Ukrainians resisted. The Ukrainian army was far more effective that he could have imagined. And so the main effort

stalled short of achieving the principal campaign objective, which was the -- ultimately, the destruction, if you will, of the Ukrainian government.

Sol, now, that having not occurred, what you have seen and what you have heard out of the Russians is a redefinition of their campaign objectives,

which is to, for all intents and purposes, shift their main effort into the east.

And that's problematic, obviously, because, if that campaign objective has as its basis the seizure and control of an arc of Ukrainian territory from

roughly east of Kharkiv all the way around the south and southwest of Ukraine, it does several things.

They may, in fact, push to and past Odessa as well. We could see Ukraine lose complete access to the Sea of Azov and the Black Sea. We could see

Ukraine lose access to its sources of energy. And it's a rich area for natural resources.

And for the Russians ultimately to redefine their campaign objectives, to hold that crescent or that arc of Ukraine and begin to dig in on that, this

means that, of course, to expel them from Ukraine, we will need to see the Ukrainian military mount the capacity for a counteroffensive.


ALLEN: Now, the Ukrainian military has defeated the Russians locally in counterattacks. The bigger issue, though, is, can they carry a

counteroffensive to begin to push the Russians out of that arc of control that we think that they're seeking to complete?

AMANPOUR: OK, so that's very important, that analysis.

And, obviously, we have heard from military experts, former commanders in Europe. You yourself commanded the ISAF forces, NATO-backed, in

Afghanistan. And we're hearing from people such as yourself that now is the moment to strike. This is a very vital -- when I say strike, I mean that

it's a very vital window of opportunity to provide as much military aid to Ukraine, while Russia is regrouping and on the back foot, that this is the

moment to really get serious and to be able to continue to allow Ukraine to defend itself.

Do you see that happening apace? What do you think they should be saying at the NATO summit that -- or, rather than NATO foreign ministers meeting

that's going to be taking place tonight and tomorrow?

ALLEN: Well, clearly, the fact that the meeting is taking place at all is a good indicator that NATO and the global community of democracies does see

this as a window of opportunity.

But, Christiane, I have to be very clear that the difficulty of moving from the strategic defense to a strategic counteroffensive operation that will

require the kind of scale that Ukraine needs to expel the Russians, or at least to begin to recover control of those key areas within that crescent,

if you will, it's going to take a lot of energy.

And when I say energy, I mean the massing of forces, the accumulation of equipment, the kinds of capacity to move the equipment, the forces that

will be engaged in the fight itself, the logistics necessary to support that counter offensive and the necessary control of the airspace above that

counter offensive to prevent the Russians from interdicting their own air power.

So, this is not an insignificant effort. And now, would be the time that we need to be pushing in the kinds of equipment that they'll need more to do


AMANPOUR: So, what? Like, what do they need? Because you are painting a picture of a Russian force that was clearly overextended, it went way too

far out on a limb, couldn't control many of it, including the capital. And now, it's redirecting to what it really wants anyway, what it's always said

that it really wants, and that is to hold on to that territory, as you describe. What now does Ukraine need?

GEN. ALLEN: Well, first of all, it has to have the kinds of planning support necessary to begin this counter offensive, this strategic campaign,

if you will, within Ukraine to deal with the Russian forces that have accumulated there.

Much of the Russian force that came down to Kyiv access towards the main effort is probably going to be combat ineffective for some period of time.

So, the sense that it's going to be withdrawn back into Russia and reinserted, those forces are going to have be -- going to have to go

through a significant amount of refit and rest. So, they're going to be out of the fight for some period of time.

And the Russians have been scraping the barrel trying to find other offensive forces that they can introduce into that eastern portion of

Ukraine to gain some additional control and to improve their positions anticipating that the Ukrainians will counter -- will launch a counter

offensive at some point.

So, the kinds of forces they're going to need, the kinds of equipment will be high mobility equipment. So, additional armor in the form of tanks and

armored personnel carriers. They're going to the kinds of transport necessary to move the logistics that will be -- that will require -- that

will be required to sustain those kinds of forces in the field.

And very importantly, Christiane, we need to make sure that they have the kinds of air defense, the integrated air defense that they would need as

they move these forces forward potentially into contact with Russian forces to both defend the forward elements of those forces in contact but to

control the airspace above, not just the Ukrainian forces now on the counter offensive, but also municipalities within Ukraine that have been

attacked relentlessly by Russian fixed-wing aviation dropping bombs and firing missile, but also, missile artillery that have been raining down on

the cities.

So, what we can do to help them to improve their armored mobility, their own ground fire support but also, the integrated air support that we can

support them with that can protect the forces going forward, deny the Russians airspace over those forces and deny the Russians airspace over the

top of Ukrainian cities. That going to be very important as we shift over from a strategic defense, which the Ukrainians have been fighting to

strategic offense of operations to begin to expel the Russians from key areas in Ukraine and hopefully, expel them from the entire country.

AMANPOUR: Well, do you think they can? The secretary-general of NATO said that perhaps the world is in this for the long haul, maybe for a few years.

Do you see that happening? I mean, given what Russia has demonstrated of its ability on the battlefield so far, do you think that they can muster

the kind of force and the kind of will to carry this on for a long time? And can Ukraine withstand, let's say, it gets all that you say it should


GEN. ALLEN: Well, one thing I learned a long time ago is never attempt to predict the end of a conflict because it can come to an end very quickly or

it could be elongated for a very long period.

First of all, let me acknowledge that the secretary-general of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg, has exerted and exhibited extraordinary leadership in this

crisis. So, we ought to be all listening to him very carefully.

Remember that the counter offensive that the Ukrainians will probably want to launch will be -- will include control of key terrain that they want to

deny to the Russians. So, for example, not permit the Russians to complete a crescent, if you will. That includes Odessa all of the way to the border

of Moldova. Controlling some dimension of access to the Black Sea is going to be very important to Ukraine in the outcome.

If they lose any access to the water spaces, the Sea of Azov or the Black Sea, they'll be completely isolated and we would be, I think, foolish to

believe the Russians would grand them throughput. So, they are going to have to control and defend those key areas that they can't permit the

Russians to take. And then, those areas where the Russians have presented key opportunities for counter offenses and counterattacks began to whittle

them down overtime.


This could take quite a while. I'm not going to say it's going to take years and years, but it could take quite a while. And we've got to do what

we can to provide for the Ukrainian population that has suffered so much just by the nature of the war. But now, we understand it's suffered

horrific massacres and horrific oppression from the Russian occupiers in those areas. We've got to do everything we can to help them as a people but

also, to help the Ukrainian military to begin the process of defending Ukraine now that the potential for a counter offensive is within reach.

It's also given the capacity offensively to begin to take back Ukraine from the Russian invaders.

AMANPOUR: Very quickly, General, because we're running out of time, but I want to get your take on what some U.S. intelligence and officials are

saying may be another sometime, somewhere Russian attempt to take Kyiv. Do you think that's even possible given the failure and the setback that they

suffered here?

GEN. ALLEN: Well, again, in warfare, you've got to be very careful to use absolutes. But you're on the ground, Christiane, and you've seen some of

the battle damage that the Russians have suffered. They've taken quite a beating at the hands of Ukrainians. The heroic bravery of the Ukrainian

forces to close with Russian columns and inflicted great deal of damage on them.

I think that much of that force that was committed on the initial main effort, the strike against Kyiv, much of that force is going to have to

spend a long time refitting before that force can ultimately be reintroduced into any dimension of this conflict. But we should be very

careful to ensure that that -- that Kyiv is secure, that the lines of approach towards Kyiv are secure and would be denied to a second thrust by

the Russiand coming in.

And it could come in from the northeast or it could come straight down the (INAUDIBLE) River. So, I -- the Ukrainian, I'm sure, are going to be very

conscious of preventing that from happening again. But so much of Russia's active combat has been committed into this war and has not done well or has

suffered extensive casualties that I think for now, that access of attack into Kyiv is going to be relatively quiet per some period of time.

AMANPOUR: That is an important point. General Allen, thank you very much indeed for joining us.

Now, Ukrainians are not only holding off Russian forces on the ground, but also online. Government officials here and citizen I.T. army warfarers (ph)

are transforming the digital landscape, adapting everyday technology into a wartime survival kit. The Pulitzer prize-winning investigative journalist,

Vera Bergengruen, joins Hari Sreenivasan to discuss this country's virtual success and strategy.


HARI SREENIVASAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Christiane, thanks. Vera Bergengruen, thanks for joining us.

This war seems unlike any other in the amount of information that the rest of us have access to because of digital tools, digital technology. And

you've been reporting out what's happening on the ground there to kind of take advantage of this, how this is becoming almost a battleground in


VERA BERGENGRUEN, INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT, TIME MAGAZINE: That's right. And Ukraine officials, I've spoken to a range of them, I've spoken

to national digital officials, to local digital officials and Zelenskyy's cabinet, really, when he was elected decided to make this a priority. And

they, since the start of this war, have decided that the digital battlefield is a real front line. It's not just an information war, it's

not just people on Twitter, it's real. It's just as real as what's being fought with military hardware.

And so, they've taken advantage of it. And, you know, in a range of ways, both to actually use this technology to keep people safe and also, to have

it be a line out to the world. And for them, almost as importantly, a line to Russia itself, to ordinary Russians, who are pretty much blocked off

from a lot of information.

So, they've taken every single tool, every single thing that we usually kind of consider everyday tech that we use, they've tried to the adapt it

for wartime, which is pretty remarkable to see. I mean, obviously, it remains to be seen, but they see it as a way where they're evenly matched

against Russia or even superior, which, obviously -- especially at the beginning with Russian, you know, hardware just pouring across the border

and certainly, in cities. That wasn't the case.

But they know that when it comes to, you know, both public perception and global perception, the pressure campaigns that we have seen, you know, be

pretty effective in going extra steps to isolate Russia economically, going even beyond the sanctions, all of these different ways, that's all been

done digitally, that's all been done online, and that's all been part of a strategy.

SREENIVASAN: Give me an example of that. I mean, right now, what's an app that they would have used on a daily basis and how has that been modified?

BERGENGRUEN: So, for example, I've spoken to people in Kyiv who are part of a digital officer there, you know, a typical kind of municipal I.T.

department, and they have an app that they usually used to pay their utility bills, to pay parking tickets. In many ways, they're honestly much

more advanced than here in the U.S. You can do almost anything on these apps on your phone.


And now, they've completely adapted it to show you maps of bomb shelters, to show you which ones have Wi-Fi and where you can get insulin, food, you

know, where you can drop off your pets. You know, just a range of concerns that people have. They've completely adapted this app and took advantage of

the fact that so many people had downloaded it during the pandemic to see case counts, to see restrictions and that they had kind of opted into these


And so, they have got over a million people who they can access -- you know, they just press a button and they get a notification. You know, they

told me it used to be -- it's crazy for them to think that a couple of weeks ago they were having these meetings where they were thinking that,

you know, maybe they were annoying people too much with this many notifications. They were worried they were getting low ratings in the app

store and things like that.

But now, it's truly become a lifeline. You know, people will get air raid alerts, you know. And before the physical sirens sound, and I've been told

that people actually live pretty far from the physical, you know, air raid sirens, I don't think they really thought they would need these in 2022.

They get an alert on their app and they're able to, you know, obviously, get to safety.

But one of the other things that struck me is that they really are trying to design it with a human touch, with humanity in mind. They're trying to

also make sure that they tell people when the danger has passed so they can kind of try to relax, go outside and kind of closing the loop so people can

actually sustain, you know, life during wartime in a modern city.

SREENIVASAN: You know, when you abstract beyond just the Kyiv layer, and you've talked to people up and down at the ministry level too, how is --

and this is the youngest minister that Ukraine has. How is he doing what he's doing in terms of mobilizing this national effort?

BERGENGRUEN: So, this is -- his name is Mikhail Fedorov, he's the digital minister of transportation. He's been with Zelenskyy since his campaign

when he was obviously even younger than this. And he ran this whole campaign on the messaging app, Telegram, which back then was kind of, you

know, unusual and pretty innovative.

And he clearly, you know, has always been an innovative guy. He's always -- he was brought into the government kind young. It's a new ministry. And,

you know, in some ways I told him, you know, isn't this crazy that you're a -- you know, having to adapt all of this for wartime. But he kind of told

me it wasn't in some senses. You know, if you're looking strictly at the technology, at the digital part of it, it's just -- it's kind of another

challenge that they're trying to adapt to, and, you know, they've always prioritized, you know, transforming the country's economy to be more

digital, to be more online, to be more convenient, as he says.

And he's basically been able to use all of that infrastructure that they put into place for pretty basic things like having access to your passport

on your phone, which, now, imagine, is obviously extremely useful for all of -- you know, millions of displaced people who have access to their

documents. You know, they partnered with Apple on a census that's supposed to happen, you know, hopefully, in a couple of years. Things like that.

They already had all of this infrastructure in place, all these very ambitious projects. And so, it's not like they were kind of coming at this

from scratch and deciding, you know, how can we do this? They just kind of drew on their existing infrastructure, all of their tech talent and just

completely shifted it to more wartime needs.

SREENIVASAN: Give me a sense of what life is like for these formerly I.T. department folks that, you know, you just don't expect to turn into wartime

heroes. What is their day to day like now?

BERGENGRUEN: So, I think the key department is a good example because I spoke to them recently, you know, what they basically -- you know, they're

I.T. guys. The director of I.T. kept repeating that. His name is Oleg. And he kept saying, I'm an I.T. guy. I fix systems. You know, I don't -- I'm

not -- you know, this is not my job. My job isn't to worry about what's happening with this war above my head or public perception or any of that.

And with them was the day after the invasion, they all gathered in the offices and decided not to evacuate, only some of the women who had young

children, who were mothers of young children decided to go work from Western Ukraine. The rest of them decided to stay.

And, you know, they basically live there according to what they've been telling me. I spoke to him and the deputy mayor who leads his office. And

they leave there. They only leave to shower and to sleep. Sometimes they obviously have to sleep underground. The deputy mayor had his own house

almost hit by a bomb. He said it, you know, landed 10 meters away. So, he's been sleeping out of employees' houses, just kind of making the rounds.

And, you know, I saw that they posted a photo a couple of days ago where there -- you know, a couple of the leadership team are just kind of

blinking in the sun because it was the first time, they had seen sun in a while. They were kind of running on adrenaline. But at the same time, they

do now seem to have settled into a bit of a pattern where they're giving each other lists of tasks, they say that they don't sleep until that day's

tasks are done and then, they kind of try to wake up the next day when things may have change pretty dramatically sometimes and put all of their

resources, all of their tech guys kind of on the next thing.


SREENIVASAN: One of the things people remember is that there was a photo of people standing next to brand-new satellites, so Starlink satellites

that were -- sat phones system that was provided by Elon Musk, but this was 48 hours after they had requested it. And I mean, there must have been some

homework that had done beforehand.

BERGENGRUEN: Right. That's -- you know, that's exactly what he said. I told him, you know, the way that the world perceived it, you know, this

young minister in Ukraine who before wasn't active on Twitter but he knows that's where western -- you know, that's where American and European

audiences are, he tweeted, @elonmusk, you know, saying, we need your help to get us up -- you know, back online. You know, can you send us some

Starlink terminals. and 48 hours later, he tweets a photo of a truck full of satellite dishes and, you know, it seemed really kind of like crazy fast


He said that, you know, they had been in talks for a while and, you know, once he kind of knew it was likely to happen, he obviously, you know, put

it up. You know, it's this kind of stagecraft, I think, that we don't really quite see, you know, if that's happening behind the scene, but

they're very savvy.

Clearly, they know how to -- and, you know, it's not like they're manipulating an audience or anything. But they do know how to maximize the

impact of what they're trying to say. And what he is really focused on with Elon Musk and with a lot of other tech -- you know, big tech companies is

really asking for their help and kind of trying to rally them all behind each other.

So, if it seems like things are happening very quickly and everyone is falling in line, it's going to create a momentum. And I think it is

beautiful that that has really worked.

SREENIVASAN: We have talked a little bit about on local level pushing information out. On the national level, how is Ukraine using the internet

and technology to get information back from people?

BERGENGRUEN: Right. So, they're pretty, again, innovative in ways that I find kind of really interesting. They've, for example, have set up on this

messaging app, Telegram, they set up bots, which means it's kind of a blank room where you can type something in and submit information to the


One of the things that they set up early on was a Telegram bot where you can report what you were seeing around you, around your town, around your

house in terms of Russian troop movements or send photos, you know, say, you know, there's a tank coming this way. You know, soldiers are here. And

as long as they have got a mobile or an internet connection, they were able to feed all of this to the government and the government has thanked them,

you know, publicly and said, thanks to a tip from so and so. We were able to target this, you know, Russian tank.

And so, you know, again, that's a way that I can't imagine most countries would be that quick to set something like that up unless they had been

working on creating all of this infrastructure and having people within the country comfortable with apps like that in order to talk directly to their

government. And it's such a good way to harness, like you said, all of these eyes and try to give them an advantage because they're obviously, in

most ways, you know, outmatched by Russia in terms of military hardware.

SREENIVASAN: I also want to ask about what they're doing in terms of misinformation and disinformation. And Ukraine's no stranger to how the

Russians use that tactic. But in the middle of this war, what have you seen and what's their strategy?

BERGENGRUEN: So, something that we have to remember, I think, is that they've been at war -- well, there has been a war going on in Ukraine since

2014, it's been a very long time. And they're very used to Russia's disinformation tactics.

I think we tend to kind of see them as, you know, these master manipulators of social media, of opinion given what happened here in the U.S. in 2016

and beyond. But they kind of know Russia's playbook now. They know how the Kremlin is going to plant disinformation about the fact that, you know,

Ukrainians are bombing themselves, and that it's actually Ukrainians killing civilians, all of these different things. And so they are kind of

doing this pre-bomb gang, if how we've been terming it, which is predicting what they're going to be saying, hearing this chatter and then, telling

people that they shouldn't believe it before it can even take root.

And that's been one of the most effective ways that they've been able to kind of battle the Kremlin's usually pretty effective disinformation war.

They've said things like, you know, you may hear that, you know, President Zelenskyy has fled the country. It's not true. They put him in front of a

camera. He puts this video on Telegram. The whole world sees it and Russia's narrative, obviously, isn't very effective.

Same with, you know, saying, you know, Ukrainian troops are surrendering. This is -- you know, we're winning. And before it can really kind of

expand, they are saying, this is what the Russians are going to say.


So, that's one of the ways that, at least, I've seen in the information war is that they've been able to cut off a lot of Russia's efforts at the root.

And, obviously, the other part of it is getting their own message out there, their own legends, their own stories of heroism, resilience, you

know, some of them are exaggerated and, you know, obviously, most of them kind of crowd sourced and true, and that's another way that is kind of

invaluable. You know, you can't create that artificially. And so, that's another way that they've been very effective on the information war front.

SREENIVASAN: Do you think that American companies, European companies, other tech companies from outside Ukraine are doing enough?

BERGENGRUEN: So, according to Ukrainians, no. According to Ukrainian officials. It's not that they're not grateful. Every single conversation

I've had with them they always end up by thanking, you know, everyone who has helped them, especially these tech companies. And again, they want to

make sure that -- you know, they always say, you know, they're choosing the side of civilization. They're choosing the side of right versus wrong. They

see it, you know, as a completely black and white issue, but they always think that there's more that can be done.

I do think, from our perspective over here, as people who -- you know, from my perspective as a journalist who covers these social media and tech

companies, I mean, they move incredibly quickly. You know, usually it takes so long to get any kind of response, to get them to even to adjust minor

tiny little things and calibrate what they do. And they've been able to -- you know, they've just reacted so quickly, kicking off Russian propaganda


You know, even, you know, pulling out of Russia, stopping things like Apple paying Russia. And, you know, in Elon Musk's case, like we said, sending

satellite dishes to the country. But I think now, according to officials who spoke with me, what they're really focused on is less what they can

provide to Ukraine and more what they can take away from Russia.

So, they're still trying to pressure more and more companies. And now, I think it moved a bit away from tech companies to other big companies like

Johnson & Johnson and other big ones in saying, they basically will not be satisfied until every single major company, Western company has withdrawn

from Russia. And, you know, obviously, you understand there -- you know, as a country that's being invaded, they're going to try every single tool they

have in order to put that pressure on.

SREENIVASAN: If Ukraine is publishing information or harvesting information from eyes on the ground and taking videos and kind of

repopulating it there, are the Russians also trying to compete hearts and mind, so to speak, pushing their own propaganda?

BERGENGRUEN: Yes. So, one of the interesting things, I think, for many people watching from the outside is why Russia hasn't blocked Telegram,

because it is one the only ways that information is still getting back to Russia. I mean, you can't, you know, post -- I think you're not allowed to

post on TikTok anymore or at least it's very difficult. You're obviously -- Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have all restricted access within Russia or

Russia itself has restricted access to these apps.

But the thing is, the Russian government and Russian state media, they themselves will rely on Telegram. They've go all their own channels on

Telegram. And so, they can't really cut it off. They actually tried a couple of years ago to block the app and what happened was, you know, even,

you know, Putin's own spokesman was still on it, kind of defying the ban because it is so crucial to how people communicate in places like Russia

and Ukraine.

And so, you know, it is one of the main ways that information is getting back into Russia and Ukrainians are definitely taking advantage of that.

One of the most, I think, well-known ways that this happened is this -- they created a website and a whole Telegram channel called "Look for Your

Own" or "Find Your Own." And they upload every day just photos and videos of Russian POWS or prisoners of war. Most of these are pretty young guys,

who, you know -- many of them are conscripts, and they have them say their names and, you know, where they come from. And sometimes they upload the

photos of their -- after they have been killed, they're upload photos of the corpses.

And it took a little while to kind of gain steam. But, you know, at least anecdotally it seems like a lot of Russians, you know, had these photos or

videos forwarded by people who came across their brothers or their family members, their friends said, did you see that, you know, so and so was in

Ukraine. And I think that's one way that I think they were pretty effective, because we've seen how photos and videos and evidence of the

bombing of civilians, of atrocities are dismissed as fake news, they say that these videos have been manipulated.

Ultimately, it just becomes people shouting at each other that everyone is manipulating this information. But, you know, in terms of -- you know, it's

hard to -- if you've seen your brother on a video in Ukraine saying he was captured and that he was forced to kill civilians, that's kind of pretty

irrefutable and I think that's -- they calculated correctly that that might be a really effective way to get across.

SREENIVASAN: Investigative correspondent for "Time" magazine, Vera Bergengruen, thanks so much for joining us.

BERGENGRUEN: Thank you so much, Hari.



AMANPOUR: So, it's all hands-on deck on the battlefield and online.

And that is it for now. Thank you for watching. Good-bye from Kyiv and see you again tomorrow night.