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Interview with Head of the U.N. in Ukraine and U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator in Ukraine Denise Brown; Interview with U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland; Interview with Cornell University Professor for China and Asia-Pacific Studies Jessica Chen Weiss. Aired 1:00-2p ET
Aired February 23, 2023 - 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 CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. And welcome to "Amanpour" live from Kyiv. Here is what's coming up.
Ukraine boasts its security and we get a look inside the battered town of Vuhledar on the front lines. Plus, the dire situation facing victims of
this war, Denise Brown, the U.N.'s Humanitarian Coordinator joins me here in Kyiv. And as NATO, yet again, pledges support, I speak to the U.S. Under
Secretary of State Victoria Nuland.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLARISSA WARD, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): The hardest part is when you drop them off, he says. When there are relatives present,
to look them in the eye.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Bringing Ukraine's fallen soldiers back to their families. And - -
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: China has, I think, consistently been playing a really difficult strategic game here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, what is China's next move? We get analysis after its top diplomat visits Moscow.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in Kyiv, where extra security measures are being implemented on the eve of the anniversary
of Russia's full-scale invasion. There are fears that Putin could launch a fresh wave of attacks. But over this year, people have become hard into
this threat, and increasingly, they are optimistic that they will be able to resist.
Right now, the situation is worse in cities, towns, and villages, on the eastern front, like in Bakhmut and the town of Vuhledar. CNN has gained
exclusive access and Correspondent Alex Marquardt is there.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: This fight for Vuhledar right now is one of the most important and difficult in the
country. While the fight for Bakhmut is largely symbolic, this is a very strategic fight for both sides. Vuhledar is unique and that it sits at the
intersection of the two main active fronts in Ukraine, this southern and the eastern front, that is why Russia wants to try to push through here to
launch an offensive into Donbas.
It is believed that this is one of their shaping operations, the beginning of a larger offensive to come in the next few weeks. But they are
struggling very badly right now. They've lost a huge amount of men and armored vehicles as they try to cross open fields, including mine fields,
where the Ukrainians have been able to inflict a huge amount of damage on their troops.
At the same time, the Russians are absolutely pummeling this town. You can see all around me, these are Soviet-era apartment blocks. Now, largely
empty. The residents have fled and almost every single one destroyed in varying degrees. All of the windows have been blown out, craters here in
the ground where children used to play.
Ukrainians have the benefit of the higher ground here and these buildings to use in the fighting. But as with so many of the battles here in eastern
Ukraine, it is a fight of attrition. Who can hold out the longest? The Ukrainian side saying, they need more ammunition to be able to keep the
Russians at bay, to keep them from advancing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: The situation is really urgent as Alex Marquardt reported from Vuhledar in eastern Ukraine. This country has now endured 12 months of
violence, loss, tragedy and fear. All aspects of peoples' lives have been impacted. 40 percent of Ukrainians are in need of humanitarian assistance,
millions are displaced, and distribution is difficult.
Denise Brown is the U.N.'s Humanitarian Coordinator for this country. And she's joining me right now here in Kyiv. Denise, welcome back to our
DENISE BROWN, U.N. HUMANITARIAN COORDINATOR IN UKRAINE AND HEAD OF THE U.N. IN UKRAINE: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: We've spoken to you fairly regularly over the periods and the milestones here. But we just had that report from the front line. You can
see that people are living in the most wretched conditions. You have been to many of the communities over there in the east and on the front lines.
What do you say is U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator?
BROWN: The first thing I always see in these communities is the absolute destruction. Houses that are flattened, fields that are not tended to. A
sense of abandonment. But the second thing I see is a people who stayed behind.
BROWN: And typically, it's elderly people who were born there, raised there, married there, and they are staying in their homes. And the third
thing is the local authorities. Typically, the mayors who are there to support. So, I always come away with a mixture of emotions. But the
prevailing one is the resilience of the Ukrainian people who stayed behind in these communities.
AMANPOUR: And do they stay behind because they want to, because they are elderly, and they feel a connection there, and they have nowhere else to
go, or is it because they have nowhere else to go?
BROWN: When I speak to them, when I asked them that very question, the answer is inevitably, we want to stay. This is our home and we are not
giving it up.
BROWN: I think they fear that if they leave, they will never go back. So, they're making that stand. These elderly people, people who have a lack of
mobility, women along with children, they are staying there.
AMANPOUR: And you talked about the mayors and the, sort of, local authority. What are they able to do for these people? And how much do you
have to support them? If you weren't there with humanitarian aid, what would it be like?
BROWN: It's a combination of factors. So, it's international humanitarian system with the volunteer system. We put all our eggs together in one
basket, if you will, and we are supplying these areas. These mayors are determined. The woman mayor of Kherson, the woman mayor I met in Orikhiv
(ph), these are women who are determined. Who, as soon as I arrive, they take charge.
So, it's really a testament to their sense of commitment and their absolute determination to stay there and support those without.
AMANPOUR: And how much you were able to distribute? How much aid can you get in, and are there times -- I don't know, where the battle front makes
it impossible, or do you have constant access to both sides, if there is such a thing, let you in to deliver to the civilians?
BROWN: We have more and more access close to the front lines. So, we're really focusing right now on the front lines. When we spoke last, it was
the winterization, getting through the winter. Now, it's the front lines. So, the war does slow us down. Of course, we can't go in when missiles are
flying. But we do get into these locations, we are in constant contact with the authorities.
AMANPOUR: And is there such a thing as in other battle zones that you have to also get permission or whatever it is, from the aggressor as well, or
are you just dealing with the Ukrainian side?
BROWN: If I crossed that front line, then I require guarantees of secure safety from both countries, which I regularly get from Ukraine. But
unfortunately, right now, I haven't received from Russia.
AMANPOUR: So, it's difficult. I mean, it's dangerous for you --
BROWN: It's difficult.
AMANPOUR: -- and your workers.
BROWN: It is difficult. But right now we are not crossing that front line --
BROWN: -- because I need that guarantee of security for the team that I'm going to send across.
AMANPOUR: So, what you are saying is, you don't know within then that zone where Ukrainian towns and villages and people are living, you don't know
whether they are getting any help.
BROWN: On the other side?
BROWN: I don't know and I assume that they are not. And my assumption is what happens on the side of the line that I do see is what is happening on
the other side of the line.
AMANPOUR: Only this -- over here, you can provide health.
BROWN: Over here --
AMANPOUR: Over there, you can't.
BROWN: -- I can provide help.
AMANPOUR: I mean, this is important, because we're talking about millions and millions of people.
AMANPOUR: According to your statistics, there are over 5 million internally displaced Ukrainians.
AMANPOUR: And some nearly 18 million actually need help.
AMANPOUR: Are you catering to all of them?
BROWN: We are catering to those we have access to --
BROWN: -- in the territories controlled by Ukraine.
AMANPOUR: Right. So, how many, maybe, are out there who you don't have access to?
BROWN: There's a couple of million. There's a couple of million that we really need access to. We need urgently to get deliveries to. And I request
that very regularly to have access. It's humanitarian assistance. It's not politicized.
AMANPOUR: Yes. Can I ask you something and I don't know whether this is political or is it just humanitarian. I know that Ukraine is very concerned
and International Community is very concerned, about the numbers, which none of us know what the exact numbers are, of children who have been
abducted, forcibly deported, maybe put into orphanages, maybe given to Russian instruction. We just don't know. What can you tell us about that?
Do you also not know?
BROWN: This is a very sensitive issue, and of great importance to the people and government of Ukraine. They want to know the well-being of those
children. So, the United Nations, at the highest level, have made the commitment to work with both countries to make that determination.
AMANPOUR: And you don't know whether there is any answer from any side?
BROWN: That work is ongoing.
AMANPOUR: OK. See, because what we have often found in these wars is that at least the ICRC, you know, the International Red Cross would have access.
But in this case, it doesn't seem to be the case.
BROWN: If you're talking about the children --
AMANPOUR: Yes, I'm talking about the children.
BROWN: -- who are allegedly --
BROWN: -- have been taken to Russia, this is something that, at the highest levels, we are aware of. We are engaged in discussions on this
issue, and we also would like to determine the well-being of those children.
AMANPOUR: Now, there are a lot of children who are targets in the civilian population. And when we last talked, you were, as you say, dealing with
Also, the NATO was dealing with winterizing troops, and things like that, and their clothes, and their -- you know, what they needed. How has the
winter been and did your worst fears come true? Because people were -- you all were afraid they may be freezing to death, they may be all sorts of
terrible calamities, particular with the attack by Russia on the infrastructure.
BROWN: It's absolutely true. It's what kept me awake at night for a long time. The temperatures were relatively mild in Kyiv, but not so in the
eastern part of the country --
BROWN: --- where between minus 10 and minus 15 in some parts of where I was in Kharkiv in Zaporizhzhia. So, there's been real mobilization of
assistance. Thousands of generators, clothes for children, repair kits for the homes, you know, the roofs and the windows. Individual heating for the
hospitals and the heating points and so forth. So, we made a determined effort together because we saw the destruction of the energy infrastructure
which is civilian infrastructure. And we're almost through the winter months.
AMANPOUR: And what are those people in much colder part, where the war is ongoing in a really, really difficult World War I kind of style. Where are
they taking shelter? I mean, how do they live?
BROWN: Collective points have been set up by the authorities with support from the U.N., from the NGOs, from the local volunteers. We've come
together, provided to support that those people require. And in places where people wouldn't leave their homes because they couldn't leave their
homes, we help them to repair their homes.
AMANPOUR: What about help? Because we've seen, and this is a Russian tactic, we saw it in Syria, bonding clinics, bombing hospitals, not to
mention schools and all those kinds of things. What have you noticed here in Ukraine, particularly in, you know, in the free fire zone?
BROWN: Hundreds and hundreds of hospitals and clinics have been destroyed. The World Health Organization reports on this regularly with the ministry
of health. But I've also seen hospital set up now in bunkers.
BROWN: I've seen a woman doctor in a community near Soledar who, the clinical was destroyed, she set it up in her home with the help of the ICRC
and the Red Cross and the World Health Organization. So, they're finding solutions.
AMANPOUR: You mentioned women. And, of course, women are often the most vulnerable along with children in these kinds of war zones. And we have
seen the evidence of what troops from the other side have committed. The United States has accused Russian forces of crimes against humanity,
certainly in Bucha. And we know that rape, as a weapon of war, is being used.
Have you been able to discover more on that, to try to help some of these women? Are they anonymous? Are they coming forward? Can you help them?
BROWN: We work with parts of the U.N. system and the government on this issue, conflict related sexual violence to support the survivors.
AMANPOUR: Is it happening a lot?
BROWN: We have set up at least four areas where women can go to and get the support that they need. But there is a lot of stigma attached to this,
there's a lot of shame attached to this. And this is something we are working through with the local authorities, with the government, with civil
societies, so that the women will get the full complement of support that they require. This is very difficult, very painful, emotional issue.
AMANPOUR: And so much so that it would potentially prevent some of these women in need from coming to either report or to get help?
BROWN: From what I understand in conversations with civil society, yes. Not all women are coming forward because they feel ashamed of the violence
that was perpetrated against them.
AMANPOUR: And we saw at the very beginning of the war -- I mean, the millions of people who fled, and the means the neighboring countries and
others further afield (ph), who have housed and received Ukrainian refugees. What have you noticed over the year, the initial exodus, have
people started coming back?
BROWN: There are some returns but, of course, that all depends on where people are coming from.
BROWN: And communities which have been flattened and it's absolutely true that there are communities that have been flattened. It will take time to
come back during the winter months when we knew that the energy infrastructure was being targeted. Lack of electricity, water, heating was
not an ideal time but we believe that people will want to come home.
AMANPOUR: And when they come home, what sort of infrastructure is there for them in terms of business, in terms of agriculture? We see what has
happened to the fields, you know, this country used to, I think, export to some 400 million people around the world, the grain and other such. And
now, it's not able to do that. What about people inside, are they -- the food and all the rest of it.
BROWN: Well, you're absolutely right. The fields have been mined or destroyed. So, we're talking to the government right now with some of the
U.N. actors about doing agricultural demining. High priority areas which we could work with them on demining and replanting. Otherwise, no one's going
to go into those fields. So, this is really something extremely important.
AMANPOUR: And as you look forward now to another year of this, what are the biggest challenges? I mean, have you -- you know, I guess, learned from
this year and got a pattern of response in place that can be enacted for the next year, or is it all responding to emergency by emergency?
BROWN: You know, there are different dimensions to this situation. I hesitate to say crisis because it seems so inappropriate. It's not
sufficiently strong. And we are just prepared for each one of these new situations, the psychosocial trauma, newly retaken areas, the mines, the
winter, the energy. It's like, you have to reinvent the response very regularly. But one thing is for sure, that those communities along the
front line will remain our priority in getting assistance and support to those communities.
AMANPOUR: So, we talked a little bit about the atrocities that have been committed. Does it come across your desk? Do you deal with this, certainly,
other aspects of the U.N. does, the crimes against humanity, the accountability piece, the justice piece?
BROWN: Different parts of the U.N. are dealing with this. The International Criminal Court, the --
AMANPOUR: What do people say to you here on that?
BROWN: I hear a lot. I hear a lot because I move a lot in these communities.
BROWN: And I always ask the question, you know, are you willing to talk? Would you like to report that? And almost overwhelmingly the answer is,
yes, we want to talk. We want to document it.
AMANPOUR: And do they feel that they will get justice?
BROWN: The ones that I speak to, yes. We know it'll take time. We know it'll take time. But it's underway.
AMANPOUR: And do you think -- I believe you are Canadian.
AMANPOUR: Right. Your country does a lot on the humanitarian front, accepting a lot of refugees also from around the world. Do you think the
appeals from your -- from the U.N. member states will keep being filled? In other words, the appeals for money, for funding, for attention? Do you see
any stress on that pipeline?
BROWN: I believe there's a deep commitment by the member states, by the private foundations that support us --
BROWN: -- to keep those contributions coming as long as the war is there, the humanitarian crisis will be there.
AMANPOUR: And lastly, how has it affected you?
BROWN: Well, I'm here alone. My children are not with me. So, I don't have to worry about them when the air sirens go off like the Ukrainians mothers
AMANPOUR: Spoken as a mother. Thank you very much.
BROWN: Thank you too.
AMANPOUR: Denise Brown, thank you.
Now, on the front lines, especially, it is like a World War I meat grinder, with hundreds of thousands of dead and wounded Russians and Ukrainians.
Recovering bodies is a gruesome task. But a group of volunteers drives back and forth across this country to bring the fallen home for burial.
Correspondent Clarissa Ward has the story of that somber and essential mission.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLARISSA WARD, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): On most days, Oleg Repnoy (ph) sets out before dawn. Part of a volunteer group called
Bulldozer that transports the remains of Ukraine's fallen soldiers back to their families. At a morgue in the Kyiv's suburb of Boryspil, a group of
servicemen are waiting to meet the body of Private Alexey Litvinov (ph). It's somber work and the men move quickly. Repnoy (ph) hands over the
soldiers' personal effects.
At the moment, we have 18 bodies, he tells us. And each family wants to get them as soon as possible.
WARD (on camera): So, why do you do this work?
WARD (voiceover): Few people are willing to do this work for free, he says, and not everyone has the psyche for it.
They are lonely, seemingly endless hours on the road as he crisscrosses the country. Emblazoned across the side of his truck is the number 200. A
military term for the transport of dead bodies that dates back to Soviet time. On occasion, processions of people line up on their knees to greet
the truck, a mark of respect for the dead.
At a morgue in the City of Dnipro, Repnoy (ph) stops to pick up more bodies. Overwhelmed by the number of casualties, the hospital has taken to
storing them in a shipping container in the parking lot, as the men work, mourning relatives file passed. Ukraine is not misinformation on how many
of its soldiers have been killed in action. But Repnoy (ph) says that his daily load has soared in recent weeks as fighting has raged in Eastern
WARD (on camera): Do you have any idea how many bodies you have taken back to their hometowns at this stage?
WARD (voiceover): In this van, he says, around 1,000.
WARD (on camera): And now we are at a stage in the war where more and more Ukrainian soldiers are being killed. Are you seeing that?
WARD (voiceover): At the moment, yes, he tells us. Right now, it's a large amount.
36 hours after Repnoy (ph) drops off his body, Private Litvinov (ph) is given a proper funeral in Boryspil. Killed in the Donbas region on February
11th, his mother, Marina, can finally say goodbye to her son.
WARD (on camera): How important was it to you to have his body returned so that you could give him this beautiful funeral today?
WARD (voiceover): The main thing is to have him at home, not laying somewhere eaten by birds. You understand how awful it is when people just
disappear, she says. We cannot change anything. But thank God he is here and I can come to visit him.
This is the reason Repnoy (ph) does this work. But seeing the family's grief is also incredibly painful.
The hardest part is when you drop them off, he says, when there are relatives present to look them in the eye. It is very hard, he says. There
is so much emotion, so many tears.
But there's no time for tears tonight. Repnoy (ph) still has more bodies to deliver. And across Ukraine, many families are still waiting.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Clarissa Ward reporting there, showing exactly what is at stake every single day. Now, Spain's Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez, is the latest
western leader to visit Kyiv to show continued solidarity with the cause. NATO continues to pledge its support led, of course, by the United States.
Victoria Nuland is the U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs and she's joining me now from Washington. Welcome back to the program,
Victoria Nuland. You probably heard some of that report and you obviously know firsthand, since you've been here many times. I just want to know what
you're thinking as this grim marker passes.
VICTORIA NULAND, U.S. UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE FOR POLITICAL AFFAIRS: Christiane, that piece that you just played was heartbreaking beyond
belief. And what I am thinking is that this is just all so unnecessary and evil. You know, this is all about one man's fantasy of conquest. Vladimir
Putin's decision that Ukraine ought to be his, rather than a sovereign free country.
And the suffering in Ukraine is unbelievable, as you illustrated there. But they are standing tall, and they are standing strong because they are
fighting for their land in their future. And it's equally tragic for Russia because, you know, Putin has had 20 years to build his own country. And
instead, he is, you know, putting 200,000 of Russia's sons to death or maiming in Ukraine. So, it's really, really just very sad and very tragic.
AMANPOUR: And that is a huge number. You just mentioned, the official U.S. number for Russia's dead and wounded at 200,000. We don't know the official
numbers here but according to the U.S., may be 100,000 or so. You saw and you heard about those soldiers who have to be picked up from every
battlefield and taken home. And that this is a meat grinder, now.
So, you and your president, and all the world leaders say they are in Ukraine's, you know, corner for as long as it takes. But there is a
difference of interpretation. President Zelenskyy believes that it has to be soon. He said at the Munich Security Conference, he needs your support
so that this war ends this year so that this kind of carnage doesn't go on and the international implications don't go on.
NULAND: Well, I think we all agree with that, Christiane, that every month that goes by, this war brings more tragedy to more families and makes it
harder and harder to go forward. Which is why when President Zelenskyy came to Washington in December, and reconfirmed with President Biden's trip to
Ukraine this week --
-- we are committed with our allies and partners to give Ukraine what Ukraine needs to fight in the spring and try to get back more of its
territory, and convince the Russian Federation that this war is not good for anybody and that it's time to go home.
AMANPOUR: So, Under Secretary of State, I am hearing a kind of outline of a plan, then. That you feel that you can get enough weaponry of the right
type soon enough for a successful Ukrainian counter offensive in order to change the dynamic on the ground to eventually get to the negotiating
table. Is that what I'm hearing?
NULAND: There's a long way to go, Christiane. As you know. Russia has started its own counter offensive around Bakhmut, around Vuhledar. They are
not having much success. And it is a complete meat grinder, particularly for Russian forces. You've seen now the head of Russia's paramilitary
Wagner Group complaining that he doesn't have enough ammunition, and that his soldiers are being used as cannon meat, as he likes to put it.
Ukraine too, is planning its own counteroffensive and we are consulting with them on what they think they need. But the current map of Putin's
occupation of Ukraine is not stable. And if the war were to freeze here, Putin would just be back again. He would rest, he would refit, and he would
return. So, the Ukrainians need to regain more of their territory in order to be safe and secure in the future, and for this not to be happening again
and again and again.
AMANPOUR: So, you mentioned the Wagner Group and others in Russia is complaining about, you know, shell starvation and lack of ammunition. But
we've also heard that from the allies, not even from the Ukrainian soldiers, who we do hear it from, but from the leaders who are supporting
Again, the secretary general of NATO, all the world leaders who've been in -- you know, with President Biden in Warsaw, et cetera, concerned that all
of this high tech that you're sending doesn't have the ammunition, or at least not enough at the moment and needs to ramp it up. I mean, does that
NULAND: Christiane, nobody anticipated that we would have a World War 1 trench warfare going on in the middle of Europe in 2022 and 2023. So, the
stocks of this kind of basic ammunition are being gathered from all over the world to support Ukraine.
The advantage that Ukraine has is that its cause is just, it's defending its own territory against Russian aggression. And more than 50 countries
around the world are seeing that and are making the kinds of contributions that Ukraine needs. From the most basic stuff that you've seen on
battlefields for 120 years, to the more modern equipment that is also needed. So, that's the advantage that Ukraine has.
Whereas Russia, you know, is talking to North Korea and Hamas, and Iran. So, we will see how things go, but it is a very difficult and grinding
fight, you're not wrong about that.
AMANPOUR: OK. So, let me ask you, Russia's talking to all those people, but also to China. You can't get away from the seating arrangement at the
Kremlin today, where President Putin had no problem sitting very close across that table with Wang Yi, the high diplomat, foreign policy diplomat
there. And I know that the United States and others are concerned about what China might do.
Do you have any evidence that the Chinese government has made a decision to send lethal aid to Russia? Have any private companies started helping
Russian companies or the Russian military with, you know, information, equipment, whatever they might need?
NULAND: Christiane, as you know, we've been having this conversation with the Chinese government, including at the level of President Biden and
President Xi Jinping. Starting from before the war began but including the meeting in Bali in November. And my boss, Secretary Blinken's meeting with
Wang Yi in Munich just this week to say, that you China, claim to be neutral in this fight. You claim to support U.N. Charter principles of the
sovereignty of states and nonaggression, so behave that way and do not contribute to this fight.
We have had some evidence that we have shared of some Chinese companies beginning to dally in this pond. As you may know, a couple weeks ago, we
sanctioned a Chinese company called Space City, which was providing geolocation information to the Wagner Group, which is fighting in Bakhmut.
That sanctioning, I think, caught the Chinese by surprise. We are also looking hard now at sanctions evasion by Chinese firms.
And I think when you see the big package of new sanctions that we roll out tomorrow, you will see us trying to go after those evasion targets. But
what is most important is the conversation that we are having at top levels where we're making clear that there will be very strong consequences in our
bilateral relationship and in China's global reputation if it gets into this fight.
AMANPOUR: But it is getting into this fight, at least diplomatically, it has chosen, on the eve of this war, not to come here but go there and sit
closely and talk about, you know, both -- you know, the crisis that they need to exit from, you know, their eternal friendship. Why do you think,
you know, strategically, diplomatically, China would take this decision to cozy up to what's now looks like a losing bet by Russia? Why?
NULAND: Well, I'm not going to get into the heads of Chinese leaders. I do know that Putin, for a very long time, has been standing outside Xi
Jinping's doorway, asking him for more and more and more, and the Chinese have largely chosen not to answer that call. They do believe and claim that
they can be peacemakers in this and that they will have some ideas unveiled tomorrow.
Frankly, if the Chinese can get Putin to end this war and go home, I think we'd all be happy to give them a peace prize, but we have to see what these
conversations are about.
AMANPOUR: I was going to ask whether that that is their intention. So, I will ask you that. But also, can you give me details about the package of
sanctions, you say, that are going to be unveiled tomorrow?
NULAND: Well, not to get too far ahead of the announcement, I will say that the package will continue to put the squeeze on the Russian defense
industry, on Russian high-tech knowledge, on Russian banks that are evading sanctions. And there will be a large number of measures that also go after
a third countries that wittingly or unwittingly are being used to evade sanctions.
So, just to give your viewers a sense of Russia's desperation, there are third countries all over the world where the number of iPhones and
computers and washing machines they are sending to Russia has gone up tenfold just in the last six months. Not because Russians are washing more
clothes, but because they are cannibalizing these things for the chips to go into their weapons that sanctions are otherwise denying them. So, we
need to close down that trade.
And you will see all those measures tomorrow, including an increase in export controls. And we will do this, obviously, not just as the U.S. but
with all of our allies and partners. There will be a large package from Europe, from the U.K., from Canada, from Japan.
AMANPOUR: Victoria Nuland, I have read and heard you describe Russia's so- called big spring offensive as very pathetic. And I wonder whether you think, in that case, or why you think President Putin is playing around
with the START treaty. Is that some kind of bargaining chip or is he pulling it out of his pocket because he's not doing well? Where will that
lead, do you think?
NULAND: Well, first of all, just to be clear, Russia has not withdrawn from the new START treaty, it has suspended implementation, or at least
that's what Putin announced. The truth is, Christiane, that the Russians haven't been implementing the provisions of the treaty since 2020.
Now, first, there was the COVID excuse. But over the last year, we've tried to get Russia back to the table for the regular annual consultations on the
treaty. We have offered inspections of U.S. facilities and ask for expectations of Russian facilities, and the Russians have been refusing.
Putin doesn't want to us see what's going on inside Russia.
So, his big announcement was much more about feeding his base than about changing the status quo. And frankly, it is downright irresponsible. The
U.S. will obviously continue to maintain our obligations. We won't take any new moves ourselves here, because we understand that the United States and
Russia have a global responsibility to the world to maintain safe and secure nuclear arsenals.
So, all of this, it's irresponsible and it's about the fact that he has nothing else to offer his people as his own die on the battlefield in
Ukraine for nothing. As he celebrates 20 years of leadership that has also brought very little to the Russian federation.
AMANPOUR: And finally, you also have an issue around the world with so much of the so-called Global South not on board with your narrative, not on
board with the fact that there's been this aggression against a country that did not provoke it. And I know that you want to get your message
across so that you can keep supporting Ukraine with much more global support.
How do you plan to do that? Is it going to be more difficult in the second year or not?
NULAND: Christiane, I am not sure I accept your premise. Today, in the U.N. General Assembly, we will have another resolution on the table that
marks the one-year anniversary and calls for an end to this war, a just peace withdrawal, and we expect an overwhelming vote from all over the
world, countries on every continent calling on Russia to get out.
I think what we are experiencing, all of us, are the global impacts that this war is having, whether it is a result of Russia blocking grain coming
out of Ukraine's harbors. So, countries that are heavily dependent in Africa, Egypt, et cetera, have had to have global help to meet their food
and fertilizer supply this year. The increase in energy prices, which has now stabilized. Increases in inflation.
So, what we have tried to do, we and our allies and partners, is as these issues arise, try to rally the world also to meet in the trickle-down needs
of countries that are not central to the conflict but are nonetheless affected by it So, you know, we have countries all over the world working
together on food insecurity, energy insecurity. And it has, in many ways, brought us closer together.
But also, I think, woken up the democratic world on every continent what it means to all of us when an autocrat, when a dictator is allowed to pursue
his own, selfish imperial ambitions and bite off a piece of another country. It could happen anywhere, which is why we have to stop it here.
AMANPOUR: Victoria Nuland, under secretary of state, thank you so much for joining us in this rather grim marker. But thanks so much.
We dig deeper now into Beijing's latest moves. Professor Jessica Chen Weiss was a senior adviser to the State Department until last year. And she is
joining Walter Isaacson to talk about this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WALTER ISAACSON, CNN HOST Thank you, Christiane. Jessica Chen Weiss, welcome to the show.
JESSICA CHEN WEISS, PROFESSOR FOR CHINA AND ASIA-PACIFIC STUDIES, CORNELL UNIVERSITY: Thanks so much. It's great to be with you.
ISAACSON: China's chief foreign policy minister, Wang Yi, met with Putin this week. Wang Yi had just come from the Munich Security Conference and he
said he was working on a peace plan from President Xi Jinping of China. What do we know about that peace plan?
WEISS: We don't know yet. I mean, we'll have to see, but I'm not really expecting anything dramatic to break ground. China has, I think,
consistently been playing a really difficult strategic game here, balancing on the one hand, you know, wanting to have a close partnership with Russia,
which Xi Jinping sees as China's most important, you know, partner in resisting perceived U.S. efforts at containment. And on the other hand, not
wanting relations with the United States and the Europeans to go too far south.
And so, I think that what we will see here in the coming days, you know, further elaboration of the Chinese government's efforts to try to, you
know, continue to manage this difficult straddle, if you will.
ISAACSON: But isn't it in China's deep national interest to have this war in Ukraine settled?
WEISS: I think on the one hand, you know, the continuation of the war puts China in a difficult position. But they also don't see a whole lot of, you
know, political upside in pushing Putin to end this. And so, with the two sides pretty dug in, in fact, perhaps gearing up for further escalation, I
think China would like to see this issue, you know, in some ways simmer down, but not necessarily be something that they necessarily feel that they
want to be, you know, on the front lines of managing.
But we will see. This is a bigger step and they've taken today. And I think, you know, it reflects the interests, particularly on the European
side to see China play, you know, a more active role in trying to mediate, perhaps. You know, but this is, I think -- from the longer perspective, I
think China has taken here is really with an eye toward, you know, balancing against the United States.
And so, China does not want to see Russia defeated. You know, but whether or not China can see the two sides de-escalate and whether they have, you
know, really a lot of diplomatic capital invested here, I think we will have to see.
ISAACSON: Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said that he was worried and warned Wang Yi against China sending lethal weapons to the Russians, to
help in Ukraine. Do you think China will do that?
WEISS: I think this is ultimately guided by the Chinese recognition that to-date Putin probably is a bit dissatisfied with the extent of China's
support, which is largely been confined to the diplomatic and areas which, you know, haven't been subject to international sanctions.
But as, you know, Putin needs to replenish, you've we've seen and the Biden administration has indicated that there have been non-lethal forms of
assistance, dual use types of goods that have gone from Chinese entities to Russian entities. And I think the question here, you know, really remains,
you know, what is it that, you know, we will ultimately see as driving China 's strategic calculus here. You know --
ISAACSON: What is driving its strategic calculus?
WEISS: Well, ultimately, I think China's going to have to balance its need to, you know, resist the United States against its desire for, you know,
continued access to international technology, markets, and capital, you know, that reflects that continuing dilemma. And so far, at least, I think
there's a question as to whether or not the Chinese government sees any strategic upside again to limiting its, you know, long-term partnership
So far, at least, the growing tensions in U.S. China relations, the growing concern that the United States and China are headed for a showdown over
Taiwan, not necessarily because China wants such a conflict, but because actions by whether it's in Taiwan or by the United States are pushing in
that direction, I think only consolidates the -- Xi Jinping's belief that it needs a stalwart partner in Russia to resist what the storms to come.
And so, until we see, I think, you know, not just threats but potential assurances that if China doesn't go forward with this assistance that there
would be some better trajectory ahead in China's relationship with the West.
ISAACSON: How do we offer that better -- we, meaning the United States -- offer that better trajectory?
WEISS: Well, I think the most important issue is, of course, that of Taiwan. And I think that here, it's critical that we deter rather than
provoke Beijing on that issue. I think the administration is quite clear that we have, you know, stand by our one-China policy. But I certainly
think that there are numbers of Congress and others who, you know, maybe campaigning for election that have gone much further and said that the one-
China policy has outlived its utility and that we should recognize Taiwan as an independent state.
Those are the kind of statements that I think really, you know, do damage to the long running prospects of peace and stability in a non-
confrontational relationship with China. And so, it's there that if we don't make those assurances on -- you know, that we aren't supporting
Taiwan independence. So, if we can't make those clear and credible, I think, it's going to be hard for us to assure really the world, not just
China, that the United States wants, you know, non-conflictual productive relationships, even if it's competitive and testy at times with Beijing.
ISAACSON: Do you think there was a mistake for speaker of the house, Nancy Pelosi, to go to Taiwan when she did?
WEISS: You know, I visited Taiwan in December. And I think they recognize that maybe the costs that it brought were greater than the benefits of her
visit. And so, these kinds of symbolic shows of support for Taiwan, however understandable, don't necessarily leave the island and its 23 million
residents any better off.
And so, what I would like to see in our support for Taiwan are meaningful ways to, you know, build resilience, including through, you know, stronger
economic ties to the island and find ways to do what needs to be done quietly rather than, you know, waving the red flag.
ISAACSON: Let me read you something that Wang Yi, the Chinese top foreign affairs official, said at the Munich Security Conference. He said, U.S.
bias and ignorance against China has reached ridiculous levels. The U.S. has to stop this kind of absurd nonsense that's done out of domestic
political needs. I find that a very strong statement. But then, also, found myself saying, well, there is some truth to it. What do you think?
WEISS: You know, oftentimes, the cases in which Chinese rhetoric or propaganda kind of hurts the most is when it shines a light on the things
that we ourselves are, I think, having trouble with, which is, you know, developing -- you know, despite the administration's best efforts, are kind
steady as she goes, you know, here is what we need to do to, you know, get our own house in order and lead internationally, when you have, you know, a
public conversation, which is all about, you know, getting as tough as possible. And in often cases, I think, really playing to upon and
exaggerating the threat that China poses.
No question, China is a challenge. It's an authoritarian system. Very different from ours. But at the end of the day, China is not really going
anywhere. There are a lot of ways in which, you know, we continue to, you know, need to coexist, you know, on some terms or other. And it's going to
be hard for us to meet many of our own objectives, you know, whether that's, you know, meeting our climate objectives, without, you know,
continuing to do business with Chinese entities, many of whom are, you know, innovating in clean tech.
And so, I think it's very unfortunate when you have, you know, people like Virginia Governor Youngkin, you know, suggesting, you know, a Ford battery
plant that uses or license as Chinese technology, where they are ahead of the U.S. in that technology, saying, well, we don't -- you know, that would
be, you know, like letting the Chinese communist party inside our gates.
And that's an own goal. That is not helping us or, you know, Americans, to be kind of this major reactiveness. But it's really, you know, I think part
of the broader dynamic that we face here in the United States where, you know, taking shots at one another and kind of targeting the Chinese
boogeyman seems, you know, politically beneficial.
ISAACSON: Part of this targeting of what you called the Chinese boogeyman, you see it in various states, you've mentioned Glenn Youngkin, but also, in
places like Texas, where they say, the right to buy land by Chinese nationals. Explain what they are doing there and what effect you think that
WEISS: So, in many different state legislatures, there are consideration of bans on the foreign ownership sort of adversary nationals of a foreign
adversary, of land or real estate. The security threat here is not particularly crystal clear. You might say that there are certain pieces of
land near military sites that you might want to be particularly careful with and have kind of a mechanism to scrutinize that.
But a blanket ban on foreign ownership of real estate is -- you know, goes against everything that, you know, we stand for. This is a land that was
built by immigrants. And frankly, a lot of our competitiveness, you know, in high-tech areas really depends upon, you know, the kind of emigration
and assimilation of foreign talents into the United States.
And so, even if there is a carve out for, you know, permanent residence, people who have -- are on the pathway to citizenship, that pathway is very
long and there are -- you know, first, they come over as graduate students and stay here as post docs and then, you know, go off into industry. And
these folks want to contribute, you know, to American scientific and technological leadership. But surveys suggest that 60 percent of Asian
American scientists of Chinese origin, you know, say that they feel unwelcome and are thinking about leaving.
And so, we want to, here in the United States, continue to lead in innovating on these technologies. We also have to nurture the talent that
is going to allow the United States to remain at this frontier.
ISAACSON: I'd like to try to understand what is the cause of this great and growing conflict we seem to be having with China politically.
Obviously, it's an authoritarian state and it goes against many of our values, the Uyghur and things, but should we take a more realistic approach
and say, fine, we're not going to try to interfere in the internal dynamics of China and we just have to look at our own national interests and be
competitors with China, but not be in the conflict with China?
WEISS: I think you've put your finger on it, Walter. I think we do need to and I think the administration has already, you know, recognized that our
strategy is not trying to change China. That was the narrative for decades. However, I think misplaced that, you know, the United States was engaging
with China in order to liberalize China.
I don't think that was really the story. This was really, first of all, about standing up to the Soviet Union. Then, overtime, there's a whole
variety of interests that we, you know, pursued with China. And ultimately, it was better to have them on the inside of these institutions than the
outside. That remains the case, even though China is no longer liberalizing politically or economically.
And so, the question is, how do you find a modus viventi with the, you know, second largest economy in the world when it is armed with nuclear
weapons and that is, you know, to date, I think it's very showing itself, you know, under Xi Jinping, you know, quite capable of giving is good as
they get. And I think that, right now, what we really ought to be looking for is a way to figure out, how is it that we, the United States, can be
secure and to what extent does that run through lowering tensions with China, including in this domain, which is what you put your finger on,
which is this question about neutral interference in each other's affairs.
ISAACSON: But let me push back on that a little bit, which is, isn't it a strength of our foreign policy and us as a nation that we stand for certain
values and we try to promote those values overseas or is that causes an inevitable conflict with China we shouldn't have?
WEISS: So, I think there are many ways to stand for our values. And I think that, already, we are seeing, I think, at the national level a
recognition. We can stand for our values by being an example to the world, which is very different from going around the world, putting our thumb on
that ledger and trying to shift that balance of power domestically in our favor.
And so, I would say, here, we might want to do a lot more on the side of helping those who are already democratic, stay democratic and deepen their
democracy and do a little less to exacerbate the insecurities of authoritarian leaders around the world. That's not to say that we love,
obviously (INAUDIBLE). I -- you know, I want to see, you know, democracies light continues to shine, but we need to do, first, the work here at home
and then, we have to also recognize that we need to prioritize the use of American resources and political capital around the world where it will be
most effective and not counterproductive.
And so, I would say that, you know, starting with that kind of core group of democracies would be an important place to start in that effort.
ISAACSON: I'm going to read you something you wrote in Foreign Affairs called "The China Trap." And you write, the need to clarify the conditions
under which the United States would welcome or except Chinese initiatives rather than reflexively opposing them.
What do you mean about reflexively opposing them? Is that some political problem we have here? And what affirmative vision would you suggest that we
WEISS: I feel we are going to continue to be in this reflexive reactive position where the impetus is always, if the Chinese, you know, government
puts forward a new institution, like the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank or now we have the Global Security Initiative, the instinct is to say,
China bad, without thinking about what is it that we want and to what extent are there overlapping with elements of what China is proposing and
what we would ultimately desire such that we could say, well, here is the, you know, pieces of what China is proposing that are OK and here's what's
And if we could work out what that overlap is, that's an area where we can at least, you know, agree not to necessarily get in each other's way, even
if we are not fully cooperating or collaborating in that endeavor.
ISAACSON: You said that the reflexive criticism of China is part of an echo chamber, almost, that people do not want to appear soft on China, in
both parties, they don't want to appear soft on China until they get in this echo chamber. You were in the State Department at the beginning of the
Biden administration. Isn't it true of Democrats and the Biden administration that they are a little bit afraid of being seen as soft on
WEISS: This goes back to this question of, is there any political upside domestically of raising inconvenient questions given the broader mood,
which is one of, let's get tough on China. And it's not just the State Department, it's not just the Biden administration. I would say that this
dynamic of out talking each other is really present on Capitol Hill, as well as in, you know, think tanks and the broader policy conversation.
And, you know, obviously, there are people who are genuinely and sincerely committed to their -- both, you know, very, you know, dire assessments of
what China is doing and the kinds of policies we ought to take in response. But I have heard directly from people inside and outside government that
they wouldn't necessarily agree but they don't want to stick out their neck to question those views, and even go further to echo them, to want to be,
you know, as hawkish as the next guy in order to not be attacked politically.
And so, to me, that suggests a real problem in our broader conversation, which makes it hard to think about, where are we going? What are the
results of the policies that we are adopting? How do we fashion them in ways that deliver for the American people, as opposed to just sound tough
on China? Because ultimately, standing up to China isn't a strategy, it's not a policy. And ultimately, we are going to have to figure out, you know,
how are we going to continue to survive in this world and avoid what I fear is a looming crisis or conflict with China, in part as a result of our
inability to prioritize, as well as offer these clear choices.
Where if China does this, they can expect that. But if they choose a less escalatory option, they could also expect some degree of restraint on our
side. And right now, the domestic politics of this all point in one direction, which gives me a little, you know, confidence or comfort that we
are even interested in figuring out, you know, some kind of modus vivende.
ISAACSON: Jessica Chen Weiss, thank you so much for joining us.
WEISS: Thank you. It's been a pleasure.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: That's it for now. Thank you for watching and goodbye from Kyiv.