Return to Transcripts main page
Interview With Former U.S. Ambassador To NATO And Former U.S. Special Representative For Ukraine Negotiations Kurt Volker; Interview With The New School Professor Of International Affairs And Great Granddaughter Of Nikita Khrushcheva, Nina Khrushcheva; Interview With Former Ukrainian Defense Minister Andriy Zagorodnyuk; Interview With The New Yorker Staff Writer Dexter Filkins. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired June 26, 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." Here is what is coming up.
Survived but weakened. Vladimir Putin remains in power after the aborted mutiny that actually stunned the world. What should the U.S. do? Former
NATO Ambassador Kurt Volker joins us. And we get the view from Russia with writer and great granddaughter of Nikita Khrushchev, Nina Khrushcheva.
Then, can Ukraine capitalize on this chaotic moment? I ask former defense minister and current advisor to the Ukrainian government Andriy
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DEXTER FILKINS, STAFF WRITER, THE NEW YORKER: I was struck by the chaos, really.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: -- New Yorker staff writer, Dexter Filkins, tells Walter Isaacson what's really going on at the U.S. Mexico border.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
24 hours in June. What happened this weekend in Russia stunned the world. An apparent mutiny that ended almost quickly as it started driven by
Putin's friend turned foe, Yevgeny Prigozhin, and his notorious mercenary group, Wagner. And what is left is another week of war begins are only more
questions, where is Prigozhin, and what is his fate?
The supposed deal brokered by Belarus has not shown him to be in Minsk or anywhere else for that matter. But he has just released a new audio
restating what he said on Saturday that he was not making a coup or moving against Putin himself, just against what he has called all along
incompetent Russian military leadership.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
YEVGENY PRIGHOZIN, HEAD OF WAGNER PRIVATE MILITARY COMPANY (through translator): Two factors played into my decision to turn around. First
factor, we want to avoid Russian bloodshed. Second is, we marched in demonstration of a protest, not to overturn the power in the country. At
this time, Alexander Lukashenko extended his hand and offered to find solutions for the further work of Wagner PMC in legal jurisdiction. The
columns turned back and left for the field camps.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, where is Putin, and what is he saying to the public? Nothing there either. The Kremlin today released a recorded video of Putin
addressing a youth group with no time stamp and no mention of the mutiny.
As for the real target of Prigozhin's wrath, Defence Minister Shoigu, the defense ministry released a video of him visiting troops. Where and when?
Meanwhile, President Biden says he has convened key allies, saying that it's critical to stay focused on the defense of Ukraine.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: They agreed with me that we had to make sure we gave Putin no excuse. Let me emphasize, we gave Putin no excuse to blame
this on the West or to blame this on NATO. We've made clear that we were not involved. We had nothing to do with it. This was part of a struggle
within the Russian system.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Now, everyone is trying to work out what's next. And tonight, we'll have a three 60 view. First, we get the American perspective with
Kurt Volker. He is the former U.S. ambassador to NATO and he has also been a special envoy to Ukraine as well.
Welcome, back to our program. So, what are the questions that you have today? Are there actually still more questions than answers?
KURT VOLKER, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO NATO AND FORMER U.S. SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE FOR UKRAINE NEGOTIATIONS: Oh, absolutely there are more
questions than answers. I think the first question on my mind is, was Prigozhin alone, or were people in the Kremlin or in Moscow actually
supporting his efforts as a way to weaken Putin inside of Russia? That's something that we don't know anything about.
We don't know where Prigozhin is. We don't know where Putin is. We are still watching with the next steps will be. It is hard to imagine that
Putin will accept this attack on his leadership without repercussions of some kind, going after and trying to kill Prigozhin. And Prigozhin
anticipating that is going to have protected himself somewhere in be planning what he can do as well.
Ultimately, and I hate to keep going on here, but this is about the narrative. This is about what they are telling the Russian people.
Prigozhin wants to be seen as a hero, as a savior of Russia, that the people leading Russia were leading them astray. And Putin wants to be seen
also as the savior of Russia against a mutiny. So, that's why they are doing this dance really off screen right now to see how they can position
themselves about where this goes next.
AMANPOUR: Can I just pick up on what you said? It would be interesting to know how much support Prigozhin had from within the establishment. I mean,
clearly, not enough, otherwise he wouldn't have turned around.
VOLKER: Well, first off, the amount of support he had is really striking. He took over the military base in Rostov-on-Don, the military base in
Voronezh, and did so without firing a shot. He had people in the streets bringing flowers and bread and water. And so, there was clearly a show of
support for Prigozhin in doing this, and everybody else who should have been on Putin's team here was just kind of sitting it out and some were
even getting on their airplanes. So, it showed a relative weakness for Putin and relative support for Prigozhin.
That is really striking. He may not have accumulated the forces that he wanted to be able to take Moscow, but he showed that he actually has some
residents in the Russian military and the Russian population.
AMANPOUR: So, let me ask you then what the United States should do about this. The president was very clear, and actually all we weekend, none of
the NATO allies came out with anything much more than, we are watching the situation, we are talking to our partners. They obviously didn't want to
give any excuse to anybody, like the foreign minister, Lavrov, already has, you know, said that investigation will commence on whether the West was
involved in this. We heard what President Biden said today.
What next from the U.S. perspective, and from the NATO perspective?
VOLKER: Well, first there's several things. First off, I think it's important to make clear, as President Biden has done, as Secretary Blinken
has done, that we have nothing to do it with this. There will be efforts to blame the West, and we should preempt them by saying, we had nothing to do
with this. This is an internal Russian thing.
The second thing is we should drop the restrictions on aid to Ukraine. The Russian soldiers sitting in trenches in Ukraine right now do not want to be
there. They know that their country is coming apart behind them, they know that the imperial quest that Putin has set them on is failing and they
don't want to be there. So, we should be giving Ukraine what it needs to help push them out, and that will help convince them to lead on their own.
And then, finally, I think that NATO needs to recognize that all of this depends -- you know, all of this future, the future of European security
depends on Ukraine being secured in the future. So that if Russia is left on its own, it will regroup, it will attack again, this will be a threat to
all of Europe, not only Ukraine. So, as NATO convenes, (INAUDIBLE), they need to send a signal that Ukraine is on the way into membership.
AMANPOUR: So, OK. We'll get to that in a second, but I'm really interested to hear what you say that they should give Ukraine what it needs. A lot of
the narratives about the West, particularly the United States, method of delivering weapons has been to do enough but not too much to antagonize
Putin and, you know, prompt some irrational response. Are you basically saying now that that equation should be out of the door because you've seen
a weakness in Russia?
VOLKER: Well, my own view, Christiane, is that that is the wrong calculation. It is the boiling the frog argument that we have gone slowly,
we'd increased (ph), but we haven't provoked. My view on that is if Putin could have done more already, he would have already done it, that he's not
in this war in Ukraine to lose, he's in it to win.
And if he could add more troops, if he could attack somewhere else, if he thought that attacking a NATO ally would help him, he would have done it.
The fact is that he knows he is losing in Ukraine, he can't possibly open another front somewhere else, least of all with a NATO country. He couldn't
possibly handle that.
Nuclear weapons won't solve his problem, and I think he knows that. So, he is putting these messages out to deter us rather than to actually mean that
he's going to go on these various directions. We ought to understand that and we should be pouring on the support to Ukraine now.
AMANPOUR: It's going to be really interesting to see whether other, you know, leaders actually do this, because many have said that had it been a
lot more, a lot earlier, we might already have seen a major, you know, change on the battlefield.
But let me ask you because, look, there are those who say that what happened over the weekend, and I think you've said it as well, basically
burst -- you know, popped the Putin bubble.
AMANPOUR: Others might think that actually, you know, it's Prigozhin that's on the run, it's the Wagner people who turned around, and Putin is still
pretty much in charge. I want to play this bite, part of an interview from Secretary Blinken, because it relates to this, and we'll talk about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: The fact that you have, from within, someone directly questioning Putin's authority, directly
questioning the premises that -- upon which he launched this aggression against Ukraine, that in and of itself is something very powerful. It adds
cracks. Where those go, when they get there, too soon to say, but it clearly raises new questions that Putin has to deal with.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, Ambassador Volker, clearly there was a lot of wishful thinking over the weekend and a certain amount of disappointment from the
cognoscente, if you like, when Prigozhin turned around. Do you -- what do you think? I mean, it's very byzantine. These are two, I mean, essential
gangsters fighting for supremacy and money and power. What do you think? Is Putin stronger because he survived, or the opposite because he has been
VOLKER: Christiane, I think you asked exactly the right question, because you framed it in the sense of these are gangsters. This is a mafia
mentality that we are looking at. Putin cannot live with having been challenged this way. It is a threat to his control of Russia, to his
legitimacy if he is seen to be weak. So, he has no choice now but to go after Prigozhin.
I think Prigozhin knew this, knows this. He stood down to position himself as the reasonable person, the one who does not want to destroy the state,
but then if Putin goes after him, it gives him a justification for trying, again, for somehow pushing back again. So, many shoes left to drop that we
Now, as far as the U.S. policy goes again, I just want to come back to that. The U.S. has no stake in this other than to say, get out of Ukraine,
live within your own borders and accept responsibility for the war that you launched. Who runs Russia? There is no way we control that, no way we can
do that and we shouldn't pretend that we're involved in that. So, I think that we've got that part of it right.
AMANPOUR: OK. Very quick question about Putin has also been, at least certainly the United States is concerned, that he's able to build up a
coalition of those who support him, powerful countries like China to some extent, India, you know, against the United States.
This is what the China, you know, foreign ministry said on the weekend. This is Russia's internal affair. As Russia's friendly neighbor and
comprehensive strategic partner of coordination for the new era, China supports Russia in maintaining national stability and achieving development
So, they didn't use the name Putin, and frankly, they didn't put this out until it was clear that the -- whatever it was, was aborted.
AMANPOUR: On the bigger strategic level, how is this going to affect?
VOLKER: Well, those people who have suggested that China is a strategic ally of Russia and is helping Russia, I think have misread the tea leaves
here. China is very happy for Russia to try to weaken the West. They can get anything from Russia that they want for cash, whether it's minerals or
whether it's energy, oil or gas, et cetera. They're not invested in Putin's war, and I think they actually look down on Russia. They don't have a lot
of respect for Russia, because they view it as a declining power that doesn't take care of the state and does not take care of the people. China
is very much the opposite of that.
So, I am not at all surprised that China looking at this says, it's just one more mess, more chaos, Putin is not the strong leader that it pretends
to be, and we are just going to sit this out and watch.
VOLKER: China has time on its side, and Russia to China appears intemperate and desperate.
AMANPOUR: All right. Ambassador Volker, thank you.
And we're going to get the view from inside Russia right now with Kremlin's tight control of information, as we said, there are a load more questions
there than answers today about what happened this weekend. But here with unique insight is historian Nina Khrushcheva. She also happens to be the
great granddaughter of Nikita Khrushchev, the Soviet era leader.
Welcome back to our program.
And of course, we tapped into your expertise all weekend as we were trying to make sense of what was going on from the perspective of what is
happening in Moscow. So, what are you feeling today, what are people kind of trying to -- you know, understanding about what happened?
NINA KHRUSHCHEVA, PROFESSOR OF INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS, THE NEW SCHOOL AND GREAT GRANDDAUGHTER OF NIKITA KHRUSHCHEVA: Well, today is interesting,
because it seemed like nothing happened. You know, the weekend is gone, that's it, it's some blip on the horizon. I'm looking at my courtyard here
in Moscow, and there were five cars I think left out of 70 on Saturday, because we not know that people were -- in fact, some Putin's entourage
were supposedly flying out of Russia just in case. So, people left for the countryside. And now, most cars have returned. So, it kind of feels that,
oh, it just happened, but crisis in Russia is nothing new. But the big question, especially today is that where is Putin?
KHRUSHCHEVA: I mean, you know, Prigozhin supposedly was spotted in some high-rise hotel in Minsk and the joke is, and maybe it's not a joke, that
it has bolted windows because it has been known that Putin's enemies had been falling out of the windows. So, the windows are just in case bolted.
But Putin is a bigger question. I mean, they showed this -- his video meeting with the -- with some young people, but something that I've argued,
I think maybe even on your program earlier, that if Putin survives this, he actually would get some sort of a boost and he could have because he
Unfortunately, he hasn't spoken. Unfortunately, he allows his TV very active but not entirely convincing propagandists to speak for him, and
could have been a great PR moment at 10:00, on Saturday, all resolved, Alexander Lukashenko speaks, Prigozhin says something and then Putin comes
out and says, well, it's all resolved for the benefit of the people. Yes, it was mutiny, it was treason, but I, the great leader of Russia thought
that it would be better and we are going to figure out the other way.
That he could have shown strength. The problem with Putin is that he thinks that explanation or even negotiation is a sign of weakness. And this --
that victory, he turned into more weakness.
AMANPOUR: OK. So, what does -- Nina, what does more weakness look like if he hasn't grabbed this moment? And truly people are stunned by it, those
who were, you know, Kremlinologists and the rest, what does more weakness look like then? What might process might he have, you know, set in motion
by not coming out and seizing the day?
KHRUSHCHEVA: Well, I don't think it's that unusual for him because he does think that explaining and kind of speaking to the people is something that,
you know, all those others, that all people do. But he himself just, you know, whatever he decides is good enough. And, you know, when people talk
about his tarnished reputation, which reputation? He's sitting with this giant table, five meters long, across -- with all sorts of leaders and
doesn't even blanket how ridiculous that looks.
So -- but the question, especially in the afternoon, has been -- and people have been calling is that, is he dead? What's happening? Why is he not
showing up? I mean, what we know of Putin's history is that he shows up when he wants to show up. It doesn't mean that something dangerous has
happened to him, although, of course, we're guessing, and he likes people to guess.
The problem with this kind of motive operandi, which before added to his mystique, now, it just shows like, what, you don't know what you're doing?
They would just coup against you and now, you are pretending that nothing happened? That shows weakness. And that's why it seems -- I mean, because
the question you asked earlier, whether Prigozhin was alone or not, of course he was not alone. But he did think that other people in the
military, he would have more people on his side. He will kind of bring up more interest to his cause.
And by the, way those who were cheering him up, they were not cheering him up to add to his cause, they were not cheering him up to join him. They
were cheering him up because it seemed like a total absurd circus, people on tanks, the heroes of Russia fighting against other heroes of Russia. So,
that, basically what shows is that Putin may think he's in control, but he's not.
And so, for those around him, that's a good lesson to see how they can maybe form certain groups, not as evident as Prigozhin's, but certain
groups to may weaken Putin's power even more, because he is certainly not popular among the elites, that's for sure.
AMANPOUR: So, obviously, this is something, and we slightly touched on it over the weekend while it was underway, that many outside have hopes and
wondered whether the complete fallacy of this war and the failure of it and the chaos that's been created in its wake, whether that would cause an
inner circle or an outer circle to move against him.
Do you think now, kind of what you've just been saying, I'm trying to figure out whether you're trying to say, it's more likely that they may try
to move against him?
KHRUSHCHEVA: Well, you know, I can do this. This is rupture (ph), you can say it's likely, but then it will take another 10 years. I don't know. I
can't tell you.
But the way it looks, yes, it can be more likely. Because one of the reasons, I mean, we've been looking at it, it is possible that Yevgeny
Prigozhin got cocky. I mean, it was the general ripper moment from Dr. Strangelove, he got a little funny in his hat. He thought that he can do
all the things he thought he can do.
But it -- from what I'm reading and we're obviously, to some degree, reading tea leaves, what I'm reading is that it's not necessarily that
people or people around Putin are not ready for some action. It's just they were not ready to take these actions with Prigozhin because he is a bloody
nationalist who promise to cleanse Russia the way 1970 revolutionary happened. And this is really not something that people want and the elites
So, I'm not predicting, I'm not saying that (INAUDIBLE) if not before. And yet, this jelling of the elites against the Kremlin has not happened. It
doesn't mean that every crisis doesn't lead us closer to that. But when it's happened and how it's going to happen, I can't tell you. It's a very
AMANPOUR: Indeed. And sorry, we're having some technical difficulties, but we've got pretty much everything you've just said there and certainly, the
conclusion. Again, about Prigozhin and the locked windows and the jokes and the high-rise hotel. Does it seem likely that this man, who challenged the
authority, at least of the military leadership of the Kremlin, and the war, the rationale for the war, very publicly, can be allowed to survive?
We've already heard that, from inside Moscow, they say that this case that was brought against him, this investigation, has not been dropped, as we
thought it had, you know, on Saturday, but it's actually been reinstated. This is according to the FSB. How do you see the fate of Prigozhin playing
KHRUSHCHEVA: Well, that's actually not what I've seen nor that was that it was reinstated.
KHRUSHCHEVA: It's just it will take time to close, which is something that when Putin's press secretary spoke about it on Saturday, he did say it will
be dropped. So, today is non-working day because, you know, they announced that it's not going to be a working day in Moscow on Monday, just in case.
So, it could be that it is in the process of being dropped. And then, all of them saying that Putin has his word. I mean, you know, whatever that
means, Putin gave his word.
But yes, if I were Prigozhin, I would be very worried. And in fact, we also know from history with Putin is that he doesn't forgive his enemies, even
if he says that -- and actually, he didn't say that, that the case is dropped, it will be dropped, that is going to be forgiven. And Prigozhin
knows Putin, probably knows Putin better than anybody. So, it's not in vain that he today put out another statement saying, well, I didn't really mean
it against the idea of Vladimir -- Vladimirovich because, you know, it was only just for the justice of the military.
So, that's another thing that even the case that that coup is over, it doesn't mean that this case is over and it's going to be playing out one
way or another, because these two characters are not the forgiving types.
AMANPOUR: Do you think the people of Russia will buy into any narrative that the foreign minister has already tried to suggest that this was just a
western -backed, you know, interference and, you know, no problems, it's all from the West and we're all united here in Russia?
KHRUSHCHEVA: I don't think that Russians really care that much, whether it was a western plot or not. And I don't think they think it was a western
plot, because Prigozhin has been for a year end (INAUDIBLE) --
AMANPOUR: OK. Nina. I'm sorry, Nina, but we're having bad audio problems with your Skype. So, we will come back to you another time. But thank you
very much. We got all of your great analysis.
So, Ukraine's president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, met with his troops in Eastern Ukraine. And Kyiv says that it's taken back another settlement in
its counteroffensive. The aborted mutiny in Russia was the biggest challenge to the perception of Putin's invincibility in decades. So, could
this be an opportunity for Ukraine to use it to his advantage?
Andriy Zagorodnyuk is Ukraine's former defense minister. Now, he advises the Ukraine government. And I caught up with him amid a meeting of defense
and security experts here in London.
Andriy Zagorodnyuk, welcome to the program.
ANDRIY ZAGORODNYUK, FORMER UKRAINIAN DEFENSE MINISTER: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: Can I ask you whether you can make hat or tails of what actually happened this weekend? We have not seen Prigozhin since he left Rostov,
looking like he was cheered by crowds then. We hear the Kremlin now says that actually he's still under investigation, criminal investigation, for
an alleged mutiny. What do you think, or what do you know, might be the situation there?
ZAGORODNYUK: Well, it certainly was an internal defense crisis and internal security crisis for Russia of probably historical proportions because we
saw, first time, during Putin's regime, such an insubordination and basically, a threat of rebellion attack, including on the capital of the
Another shocking part of that was unpreparedness of the Russian forces to - - for any events of that kind. They literally went to all the regions and put up all the reserves. So, we now understand that they don't have much of
the reserves left.
AMANPOUR: So --
ZAGORODNYUK: And also, we absolutely said in that, for Prigozhin, this story isn't over. Because Putin is not going to forgive the -- you know,
treason. And certainly, they're going to most likely just ban Wagner because Wagner now is a threat, it's not an ally. So, there's a lot of
consequences going to happen.
AMANPOUR: Yes. So, let's talk about how it's going affect your country and the war that you're fighting, you're having to fight. If Wagner is
eventually disbanded or even, you know, put into the actual military, what do you think happens? I mean, for you, what does that mean? Because they
have been the fiercest troops that you've had to face.
ZAGORODNYUK: They were extremely brutal. They were extremely brutal. They were quite innovative. And they had a very different doctrine and chain of
command comparing to the regular armed forces. So, in the case of they're going to stop existing and they will become a member of regular armed
forces of Russia, obviously, they will lose independence and the Russian officers will ensure that the Wagner commanders don't have that level of
independence as they had before.
Most likely, there will be -- they will have to adapt to the traditional Russian force's doctrine. And yes, and they will be mainly part and
behaving like the Russian forces. So, for us, I can't say it's good news, but for us, it's certainly developments which may decrease certain risks,
because, indeed, they were a very unusual force and they were a very creative force.
AMANPOUR: Let me ask you then, what do you make of Prigozhin's essential challenge to Putin? He said, that war was, you know, a kind of disaster
based on wrongheaded assumptions and rationalizations. He said, you know, if before we had a few trained Ukrainians, now we have thousands. If before
they had a couple of modern tanks, now they have hundreds. What do you make of him actually making that public?
ZAGORODNYUK: Prigozhin is interesting in that respect because he is -- he decided not to be afraid to say that in the face and he wasn't afraid to
say this publicly. What he essentially said is that that war had no reason. There was no real cause for the war. It was not provoked. Russian forces
were looking for Nazism, they still couldn't find them because there's Nazis in Ukraine. And that they wanted demilitarization, and instead, they
build -- essentially, the war caused Ukrainian army to become much stronger.
So, all the objectives of the war, they were not only undelivered, but they actually caused exactly the opposite effect. But this is not just one
person who thinks like that in Russia. I'm sure that there's more and more people, except that they are afraid to say that. And I think that Russian
commanders and officers they understand the same thing because they are in Ukraine, they have intelligence reports and they understand that this war
has -- is only -- has imperial reasons. It's -- there is no real reasons for that war and the war is not going the way that they say publicly.
So, I believe that he is one of the -- he was one who actually said it, but I think that many, many people know about that.
AMANPOUR: Well, I want you to, you know, re-put on your defense minister hat, which you were, and of course, now, you do advise the government on
military and defense issues. How is the offensive going? Because we hear very, very different things, some western officials say it's not going as
well as you all hoped. We hear reports that even some of the so-called top quality new NATO equipment, or whatever they've sent you, whether it's new
or not, some of it is unusable, some of it has to -- you, know you all have to spend, you know, valuable time repairing it in order to take it to the
ZAGORODNYUK: So, let me answer the second question first. So, the equipment sometimes, indeed, comes with immediate need of repair, and our governments
stayed above that, and that's been a known issue for some time. Indeed, it takes us some time, some -- you know, to fix it, because the spares
sometimes coming too long and we need to streamline those logistics, particularly because we have so many makes and models.
We're dealing with this. It's very difficult. It would be extremely difficult for any army. But Ukraine knows how to deal with this after
months of fighting with the western weapons. And we do need some additional support from the -- our allies in order to streamline logistics and to --
so that repairs and the spares coming quicker.
However, generally speaking, the western equipment is detrimental in our case. And obviously, it's very important that we have it and we encourage
our partners to supply more.
ZAGORODNYUK: Regarding how the counteroffensive is going, we did not have too many expectations from the beginning because it's very difficult to put
a schedule on that. It's very difficult to put some kind of specific milestones and so on. We know that we deal with a very sophisticated
adversary. We will see that it's a success in due course. But we don't want to say that when that is going to happen. We don't want to set any
expectations about that.
I'm sure that it's happening. We know that most of the forces which have been prepared for that and which been like trained for that and equipped
for that are still not deployed. So, we will see most of the action in the future. But we just need to give a time to understand the operational
environment and specific directions, we need to be able to prepare it properly, and it's going to be successful.
AMANPOUR: OK. So, you have confidence. Your president, Zelenskyy --
AMANPOUR: -- talked quite a lot last night and over the last 48 hours over this Russia situation. One of the things he said was that the longer
Russia, you know, has the sort of internal problem, the more, you know, it'll be that Russia is sort of eating its own, if you like.
And then, the secretary general of NATO has said that all of this demonstrates why NATO must keep up support. I just want to play what he
said and get your reaction.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JENS STOLTENBERG, NATO SECRETARY GENERAL: It also demonstrates how difficult and dangerous this for President Putin to be reliant on
mercenaries. That has actually turned against him. And it also demonstrates that it is hard to predict exactly what will now happen in the next days
and weeks, but we should not make the mistakes that we are underestimating the Russians. So, we need to continue to provide support to Ukraine, and
that's exactly what NATO, NATO allies are doing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, the point is, let's not get carried away. Putin is still in power. He still has an army. Don't underestimate them. What do you think
NATO and the West should do now to help you and ahead of the -- you know, the NATO summit? What are you hoping that your country can get out up that
summit now? What do you think they need to, you know, kind of guarantee, security guarantees and the like?
ZAGORODNYUK: First of all, I do believe that Ukraine is an asset for NATO. It's not just a place for investments, it's also a county where the armed
forces which can protect NATO countries from
Russia is not just a threat to Ukraine. It would be extremely unwise to narrow it down to the regional conflict. This is a threat to the democratic
community and particularly Eastern Europe. And we do believe that we can help in the future. We do believe that we have resources and we have skills
now, and experience.
So, I do believe that NATO has to reflect that somehow and I do believe that NATO has to understand this, and adjust the strategies that Ukraine
must be a part of the NATO community in full, like as a member of alliance.
I don't think they're going to do this like immediately, like within the next couple weeks in the summit, however, we should lay the path for that
membership eventually. Because Ukraine can support NATO, NATO can support Ukraine, there is no point for democratic immunity to build two distinct
different armies, armed forces, one for NATO, the other one for Ukraine. I think that we should just work together in order to ensure that Eastern
Europe is secured.
A security of Eastern Europe is actually much more difficult subject than it was considered because Russian -- Russia has also learned, and as we can
see, the way this war goes, it exceeded a lot of expectations of people in terms of Russian tolerance -- Russian resilience and tolerance to losses,
And so, we need to prepare for something very substantial and we need to be constantly ready. And for that, you need to have forces in Eastern Europe
in a state of absolute readiness, and Ukraine has that.
So, if we see that the thinking of NATO leaders will go that way, I think then it will be OK.
AMANPOUR: All right. Andriy Zagorodnyuk, thank you so much indeed for joining us.
ZAGORODNYUK: Thank you. Thank you.
AMANPOUR: Now, in the United States, the Supreme Court has revived a key Biden immigration policy, handing the president a major victory. The ruling
allows the administration to prioritize which undocumented immigrants to deport.
Journalists, Dexter Filkins, has much more about America's perennial immigration crisis in his recent article, "Biden's Dilemma at the Border."
And he's joining Walter Isaacson to discuss what he's witnessing.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
WALTER ISAACSON, CNN HOST: Thank you, Christiane. And, Dexter Filkins, welcome to the show.
DEXTER FILKINS, THE NEW YORKER STAFF WRITER: Thank you. Thank you.
ISAACSON: You've covered Iraq and Syria and Afghanistan. And now, for "The New Yorker," you've written this very detailed, very nuanced piece about
the southern border of the United States with Mexico. What drew you there?
FILKINS: Well, I was just -- I was struck by the chaos, really, and also, the level of disagreements in the country about what was actually
happening. So, you know, if you read "The New York Times" in the morning, that gives you one picture and then -- but then, if you go to Tucker
Carlson, you know, formally of Fox, he was on every night with a completely different picture. And I was sort of struck by that. And I thought -- so, I
went into that story with a pretty simple question, which was just, how many people are getting in and how many people are getting sent back out?
ISAACSON: But you also came up with an answer that it has truly transformed towns and places along this 2,000-mile border, it was very rich and detail
in that. Were you surprised? Because I'm down here in Louisiana, we kind of know, because most people in this country, were you surprised that they
don't know how transforming this is?
FILKINS: Absolutely, absolutely. I mean, it's begun to touch the cities in the northeast. But, gosh, if you live in Texas, down on the border, it is
transformative. I mean, that's the word. And so, you have towns like Del Rio where literally tens of thousands of people have moved through there in
the past two years. Like I think in Del Rio, it's a city of about 40,000 people, they have about 80,000 people who have gone through their towns.
So, if you could just imagine your own neighborhoods, legions of people coming through on -- and they don't stay, typically, they -- you know, they
move on out, but it's just this kind of this constant stream of people.
ISAACSON: Speaking of Del Rio, you talk to the man, now the former mayor there, and it was just a very surprising conversation. He gets phone calls.
Tell us about -- you know, give us a narrative, because your piece is very much a narrative piece.
FILKINS: Well -- so, the mayor -- the former mayor of Del Rio is a guy named Bruno Lozano. He's a Democrat. He's gay. He's a flight attendant for
Delta actually. It's -- I mean, being the mayor there is supposed to be a part-time job.
And he said, this is just a couple years ago, 2021, he got a phone call from the border patrol, and they said, hello, we think in the next -- you
know, by Friday, in the next four or five days, you're going to have about 10,000 people moving into your city. And, you know, he said, I just fell
out of my chair. He said, hold on a minute, 10,000 people? And it turned out it was 16,000 people moved into Del Rio in the course of about a week.
And so, they try to -- the border patrol, which only had four or five agents there, and that -- you know, you'd got to try to picture that. These
people are just moving across the border. There was some rumor -- and that's how these things happen, there was a rumor that went around that
you're going to be let in. And so, people just came. 16,000 people, most of them from Haiti, who had been living in South America for a number of
years, but they camped under a bridge.
And so, suddenly, overnight, there's a city of 16,000 people under a bridge. They were babies being born. They had to find ways to feed them.
And so, the mayor just basically had a breakdown. You know, he said, what am I to do as the mayor? This city is -- my city is now ungovernable.
ISAACSON: I was in El Paso and Brownsville in the past month or so, and it was somewhat stunning to just see the border people. And then, you got to
feel that the politics, as you just said, is changing. It was almost like the air is changing in a political sense. What did you see about the
FILKINS: Well, I -- the -- I spent a couple of days with one of the congressmen from the area, named Tony Gonzales. He's actually a moderate
Republican. And the district, which is he's got a couple of hundred miles on the border. So, he deals with this problem all the time. It's very real
for him. But he's actually a moderate Republican, and he does not support the more draconian measures that the Republican Party supports.
But he is -- in very much in the same way, he feels like, I -- when I went around to him, for instance, we sat down with a couple of ranchers and, you
know, there's just big, sprawling ranches in South Texas and in West Texas. Thousands of acres. Migrants are moving through there. They're cutting the
fences, their livestock are getting freed, they're trampling all over the place. They find backpacks, you know, with fentanyl in them. These people
are angry at him. And they said, you know, what are you going to do? You know, what -- we need results. And, you know, what can you say as a
congressman, except, you know, we're working on.
But he could barely say that. You know, and he's a Republican. And the -- you know, the administration is Democratic. So, he can -- you know, he can
barely get in the front door. So, it's basically paralyzed the local politicians there.
ISAACSON: But you got Congressman Gonzalez, moderate Republican, you say. It used to be, back in 2010, 2012, even leading to the 2013 bill that
passed the Senate and failed the House, that there was hope of bipartisanship. Can Gonzalez find any bipartisan things that he can do or
would he just be shunned by the Republican Party if he tried?
FILKINS: And I think that's the tragedy here, is that you can sort of imagine a compromise, it's not that difficult. Basically, the Republicans
want better border security, you know, they want more walls, more border guards. And the Democratic Party wants kind of more legal pathways for
people to come, kind of make it an orderly process.
Some of the most interesting conversations I had were with people who said that what happened was -- I mean, first the -- that bill in 2013 that came
very close to passing, it passed the Senate, died in the House, basically killed by the tea party, but the Republican Party was changing,
essentially. And then, when Trump came in, instead of kind of, you know, how do we find the right language for this bill, it became something
entirely different, which was, we can't let any immigrants in. This isn't just a problem, these are bad people. And it completely changed the
ISAACSON: Was that because of Trump's rhetoric, which was really inflammatory, racist in a way, about Mexican Americans and rapists?
FILKINS: Yes. And I -- you know, I had an interesting conversation. She's actually not quoted in the piece but a very interesting woman, Linda
Chavez, who worked for Reagan administration. And she told me that she often goes around the country and gives a speech in which she says, we need
immigrants for the economy. She says, forget about the humanitarian argument, this is about self-intertest, we need them. And she says, I give
that speech everywhere. And, you know, people, to the Chambers of Commerce, all over the country, people are applauding at the end of it.
2015, when Trump became a candidate, the reception that she got to that same speech just changed remarkably. You know, she said, I practically had
to run out of the room in some of these places. Peoples views of immigrants, particularly among Republicans, began to change very
drastically. And I -- so, I think that's contributed too.
ISAACSON: Well, let's talk about Biden for a second. You called -- your piece is titled "Biden's Dilemma at the Border." Why is that a dilemma?
What is the dilemma?
FILKINS: I think there's a dilemma for him in the party. And I think -- I tried to describe this in the piece. During the campaign, Biden gave a
number of speeches in which he said, what President Trump is doing on the border is inhumane. You know, he's enacted these draconian programs and
he's giving America a bad around the world. And we're going to take those programs, we're going to tear them down. And they did.
They went into office and they took down all of President Trump's programs. Remain in Mexico, the transit ban, these things that were set up to try to
control the enormous flow of people, the daily flow that's coming in.
And what's happened, and I think that Biden was led to that point by the left-wing of his party, I need to say.
ISAACSON: And you say that he invited a lot of those progressives on immigration to be his policy team initially, right?
ISAACSON: Have there been some change?
FILKINS: Yes. That's what's so interesting to track over the past couple years. So, basically, what happens is Biden comes in, you know, basically
with the left-wing of his party, they take down all of Trump's programs, and what happens? We get this incredible surge of people, so that over the
past two years, depending on how you count, it's a little difficult, about 4 million people have come across the border and into the United States.
I mean, you know, that's bigger than a lot of states. And this is not sustainable. It's not sustainable economically, politically, anything. It's
too much. You know, there's 70,000 migrants in New York City living in hotels. It's costed a billion dollars already. And I think Biden came to
And so, what's happened is that you're watching, over just the last six months, the policies change. And what's really remarkable to me -- and I
say this without irony, what's happening, basically, is that the Biden administration is erecting policies which will look remarkably like
President Trump's. And so, they're kind of --
ISAACSON: Really? What do you mean by that? I mean, is he going to build a wall?
FILKINS: Well, not -- he hasn't gone there yet. Although, you know, that's the irony here is that there's is so much wall on the border built by
President Obama, built by President Bush. You know, and then, again, sort of Trump comes in and everything becomes like very, very polarized. But --
ISAACSON: You know, that's interesting on the polarization around the wall too, because when I read your piece, one little thing that struck me is
that there's a lot of wall, and it actually work. It stops the people there, and yet, it seems so difficult for many Americans. Give me your take
FILKINS: It's really true. The wall -- there's so much wall. And in fact, I went to a press conference of Congressman Gonzalez's and he was talking
about -- we were right on the Rio Grande. And as I was leaving the press conference, I watched like six people come over the wall. They climbed
right over it. I mean, it -- you know, it was difficult to climb over the wall, but it slows them down, it kind of challenge them. It works.
I think it -- you know, there's a lot of that border, hundreds of miles, they're in the middle of nowhere and it -- you know, it wouldn't make a lot
of sense to put a wall there. But what's remarkable is, again, like Obama built a lot of wall. George W. Bush built a lot of wall. There was a kind
of consensus about it. You know, there was this kind of growing consensus that we can't control the border anymore.
And then, you know, we have the politics of today where all of that's blown up, and there's no consensus on any of it.
ISAACSON: You quote a border agent saying what I think a lot of Americans have all political stripes, Democrats and Republicans, feel, which is that
the border is wide open. Now, you talk about 4 million people coming in, but that also seems wrong. Is it wide open?
FILKINS: It's not wide open. That's not -- it's not the way to put it. A lot of people are coming in. But what -- it's almost -- it really is a kind
of perfect -- it's a perfectly unsolvable problem. I mean, Congress could solve this. But as it is, it's a kind of very jerry-rigged system that
But basically, of the 4 million people that I'd tried to count, who have come in in the past two years, about 2.5 million of them, most of them,
have come in and basically, the way the wall is written, and has been written for decades, you can get your foot on American soil and you can ask
for asylum. So, it's not legal to cross the border, but if you're in America and you say, I will be persecuted if I go back to Venezuela, I will
be persecuted if you send me back to Tajikistan, people from Tajikistan have crossed the border. It is the legal obligation of the United States to
not to send those people back. That's the biggest loophole that exists in American immigration law.
ISAACSON: Wait, wait, wait. You're calling it a loophole, but we're talking about asylum.
FILKINS: Yes, I know. Yes.
ISAACSON: And asylum is something, especially after World War II, we said, OK, this defines us as America. We give asylum to the oppressed. How did
that become what you just called a loophole?
FILKINS: And that's the tragedy here, because I just called it a loophole. And in fact, it is the -- we are haven of last resort for people around the
globe. And, you know, that's -- we're all proud of that. I mean, that's a great American thing. We as Americans should be proud of that. But it's
become essentially -- it's basically out of control, I think is the -- I think both sides would agree because the system is --
ISAACSON: Well, give me an example of it being out of control. There are a couple in your piece, even -- there's one person, let me say, who, because
of sexual orientation, has trouble getting a job and problems with the family. And so, once asylum in the U.S. I could feel both sides of that
one. Explain how we think that through.
FILKINS: Absolutely. Absolutely. And I -- so, you come across the border, you get a very brief interview, just like a minute and a half, to
establish, does this person have a credible fear of persecution if he or she returns home? And if you make it over that bar, that's pretty low bar,
you're in. You are in America for at least four or five years, and possibly a decade. You can string your case out. That's a decade to work, you can
send money home, you know, with luck you'll get in.
And so, that is the problem, is that I think there's a growing sense that the asylum system, as well-intentioned does it is, as noble a system as it
is, is being gained. It leads to --
ISAACSON: So, how do you fix it?
FILKINS: Well, I think the way to fix it is to like hire a lot more immigration judges, and put them down on the border. So that now, when you
come in, you have to wait four or five years to get your case figured out.
And so, the whole thing kind of falls apart. You know, where are you? Like, this person, we let across the border, is he in Denver, as he and Detroit,
is he in New York? Like nobody knows. And so, what you need to do is like - - and everybody -- anyone would tell you this, have a bunch of judges on the border who can go through these cases, if not immediately, then very
quickly, basically, and determine who is telling the truth and who is not. And that would be very expensive, that's the problem. It comes back to
ISAACSON: You say in your piece, much of the migration of the United States in recent years has been driven by profound developments in Central and
South America where economic turmoil, drug related murders, natural disasters have brought many states to the brink of collapse. To what extent
is it out of the Biden administration's control? And what could be done about that?
FILKINS: Well, that's like -- it's a super good question. It's -- and this is what you see when you go to the border. There are so many people coming
every day. Thousands of people every day. They are so desperate. I mean, they're genuinely desperate. They are fleeing countries, whether it's
Venezuela, whether it's Cuba, whether it's Haiti, whether it's Nicaragua, they're in a state of collapse. There are no jobs, they're not safe, they
can't send their children to school. They're all looking for better lives, you know.
So, and really, the way to look at it is sort of, yes, they're seeking asylum, but what they really -- what most of them really are better lives.
But the problem is that the conditions are generating this, they're generating the migration. And so, what do you do? How do you fix Venezuela?
It's been in a state of collapse for years. It's already produced 7 million refugees, they're all over South America. Nicaragua, the same. Haiti, the
same. Cuba, the same. What can we do?
And so, the Biden administration is trying. I mean, they're trying to sort of set up, you know, they're trying to generate business investment and
they're trying to fix the economies and the political systems of South and Central America. But, I mean, that's not a short-term thing. I mean, that's
not a quick fix. Like that's going to take years.
I mean, you know, we've tried that in other parts of the world and like it's hard, you know. And -- but that's the thing, which is that they're
coming every day and they're fleeing those collapsing states.
ISAACSON: Dexter Filkins, thank you so much for joining us.
FILKINS: Thank you. Thank you so much.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
AMANPOUR: And finally, tonight, in slightly better news, a record-breaking pod. 5,000 whales were spotted along Australia's East Coast during the
annual whale census. The number is a significant increase from the past year, with an extra 1,500 whales counted. The mammals are migrating north
for the winter, putting on a spectacular show.
And just before we go, a note about what's coming up later this week, which marks the 50th anniversary of the founding at the Women's Tennis
Association, a landmark moment for women sports and the fight for equality. Leading that battle all along was Billie Jean King. And I sat down with her
earlier today in the very hotel where the WTA was founded to discuss why it's such a seminal moment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILLIE JEAN KING, FORMER TENNIS CHAMPION: The three things why we had this association, that any girl born in this world, if she were good enough,
would have a place to compete. Number two, to be appreciated for our accomplishments, not only our looks. And number three, most importantly, to
be able to make a living playing the sport that we loved, and had a passion to play. And we won it for others.
And what this did is it provide a platform for every single professional woman tennis player, a platform for her to be a leader, to be effective in
her community, wherever she lived, it could be a village, it could be a town, it could be a country, it could be a continent.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Look out later this week for our full conversation where we discuss what still drives her after all these years, the mental health of
today's tennis stars, and Billie Jean King's fight for equal pay.
That's it for now. Thank you for watching and goodbye from London.