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Interview with Brown University Professor of Holocaust and Genocide Studies Omer Bartov; Interview with Former Israeli Consul General in New York and Former Adviser to Israeli Prime Ministers Barak and Peres Alon Pinkas; Interview with Ukrainian Ambassador to the U.S. Oksana Markarova. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired January 11, 2024 - 13:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Hello, everyone, and welcome to "Amanpour." Here's what's coming up.
Israel stands accused of genocide in the International Court of Justice. Now, South Africa lays out its argument, I'm joined by Omer Bartov, a
professor of Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Brown University.
Then, more on the crisis in Israel and Gaza, as well as fears of a wider war. I speak to Alon Pinkas, a former adviser to several Israeli prime
Also, ahead, the Ukrainian ambassador to Washington tells Walter Isaacson why her country desperately needs U.S. support. And they discuss if it's
time for peace talks with Russia.
Hello, everyone. Welcome to the program, I'm Bianna Golodryga in New York sitting in for Christiane Amanpour.
Hearings have begun in the International Court of Justice that could change the course of Israel's war in Gaza. South Africa arguing today that Israel
is committing "genocidal acts" against the Palestinian people. It's an extraordinary case that has its roots in October 7th, when a brutal attack
was launched by Hamas, killing more than 1,200 Israelis and seeing hundreds more kidnapped.
In the three months since, Israel has waged a devastating war on Hamas in Gaza. According to Palestinian statistics, 1 percent of Gaza's population
has been killed and many, many more have been displaced.
Today, South Africa told the court 17 judges that history will be made by their verdict.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VAUGHAN LOWE, SOUTH AFRICAN ADVOCATE: This is not a moment for the court to sit back and be silent. It's necessary that it assert its authority and
itself order compliance with the obligations under the Genocide Convention.
Indeed, it's hard to think of a case in recent history which has been so important for the future of international law and of this court.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: The U.S. has called the accusation of genocide "meritless." And tomorrow, Israel will lay out its defense against the charge, which it
strongly denies. Melissa Bell has the details in this report from the Hague.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CROWD: Free, free Palestine.
MELISSA BELL, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Passionate protests on the streets outside of court --
CROWD: Free, free Palestine.
BELL (voice-over): -- as inside South Africa laid out the details of their case.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Even an attack involving atrocity crimes can provide any justification for or defense to breaches to the convention.
BELL (voice-over): Israel has denied all accusations calling the case a "blood libel." South Africa is accusing Israel of breaching the 1948
Genocide Convention through its military response to the Hamas attack, which it says has killed more than 23,000 people.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: At least 200 times it has deployed 2,000-pound bombs in southern areas of Palestine designated as safe.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Israeli soldiers in --
BELL (voice-over): But South Africa is also accusing Israeli leaders of making no distinction between Hamas and the civilians of Gaza.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The genocidal intent behind these statements is not ambiguous to the Israeli soldiers on the ground. Indeed, it is directing
their actions and objectives. These are the soldiers reputing the inciting words of their prime minister.
CROWD: We know our slogan, there are no "uninvolved civilians"
BELL (voice-over): The moment welcomed by international groups in support of the Palestinian people with many noting the importance of Israel's
presence, too, there to defend its response to the Hamas attacks on October 7th that killed at least 1,200 people.
BALKEES JARRAH, SENIOR COUNSEL, HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH: The fact that they're here, that they're represented, and that they're presenting their formal
response to South Africa's case is significant and suggests that they attach legitimacy to the court.
BELL: Israel will be making its case here on Friday. But just after the South African delegation had finished, a spokesman for Israel's foreign
ministry dismissed their claims as groundless and false, accusing them of being the representatives of Hamas in court.
BELL (voice-over): But South Africa's goal, a call for the world court to order Israel to stop the war.
RONALD LAMOLA, SOUTH AFRICAN JUSTICE MINISTER: The consequences of not indicating clear and particularized specific provisional measures would, we
fear, be very grave indeed for the Palestinians in Gaza who remain at real risk of further genocidal acts.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: The South African justice minister ending that report from Melissa Bell there.
Well, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has come out strongly against the case today, saying the "hypocrisy" of South Africa screams to
the high heavens.
Joining me now for more on this is Omer Bartov. An Israeli American professor of Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Brown University. Professor,
welcome to the program. Thanks so much for joining us.
So, we should note that proving genocide is a very high threshold to meet. But what South Africa, at least in its initial claims here and requests, is
calling for the plausibility of genocide to be determined by this court. Can you explain the difference and the lower standards here for the
plausibility to be ruled?
OMER BARTOV, PROFESSOR OF HOLOCAUST AND GENOCIDE STUDIES, BROWN UNIVERSITY: Yes, and thank you for having me. So, as you say, the Genocide Convention
created a law that is difficult to prove because you need to prove both intention and then the implementation of that intention to destroy a
particular national, ethnic, or racial group as such.
But what is -- what South Africa is calling for initially is for actions for a particular action that would prevent Israel from going on with the
kind of violence that is being perpetrated in Gaza now while the case itself is being deliberated, and that's on the basis of saying that one
cannot wait in this state of emergency until a final decision is made, which could take a year or even longer than a year.
GOLODRYGA: What do you make of their evidence and what was proposed and outlined today that we heard from South Africa?
BARTOV: Well, I must say, first of all, that the filing, which is 84 pages long, is extremely detailed and includes a sort of long history of not only
of what is happening in Gaza now, but the history of the Israeli occupation in Gaza and the West Bank and the presentation was very powerful.
And it made a strong case, at least for the need for such a distinguished body as ICJ to deliberate this case, which is, of course, a really rare
moment. There's only one other case a few years ago when such an accusation was made by one country against another of committing genocide that was
deliberated by the IJC. So, this is extremely rare, and I think it's a very important moment, also, generally in international law.
GOLODRYGA: Can you talk about how previous case law will be factored in by these judges in their ruling for this case?
BARTOV: Well, they don't have a huge amount of --
BARTOV: -- previous case law. That's the whole thing. In 2019, the Gambia filed a complaint against Myanmar, and that was an important moment. That's
about the genocide against the Rohingya, and that's an important point because two years later, the ICJ found that Myanmar had -- sorry, that the
Gambia had a right to file a complaint against another country perpetrating genocide, although it had nothing to do with it itself, and that's
according to the Genocide Convention itself. So, this is one important precedent.
The second precedent, which is somewhat different, is that Ukraine lodged a complaint against Russia not for perpetrating genocide against it, but for
justifying the Russian invasion against Ukraine, as action against so- called alleged Ukrainian genocide, and that too was debated by the ICJ.
As we mentioned, the plausibility of genocide, the bar for that, to prove that is lower than genocide as a whole. But that being said, because this
is a longer-term case that we are witnessing, we're just focusing on an injunction that may come in the next week or two, but this case could go on
for years to prove whether or not Israel has committed genocide. In that case falls the question of intent, as we've already laid out.
So, Israel's going to argue, and we're going to hear from them tomorrow, they're saying that they acted in self-defense, that they gave warning
ahead of time before they would launch their campaigns and some of their bombings, and that they were targeting Hamas members and not civilians. And
they say civilians, like in all war, are collateral damage, unfortunately, and that Hamas is using civilians as human shields.
What do you make of that argument? Is it an effective one?
BARTOV: Well, this is the argument that they will make. Unfortunately, even in the last few days, Israeli politicians have been making very
different statements, which were made already at the beginning, which are cited in the South African complaint, that Gaza has to be destroyed. That
Gaza should be treated as Amalek. That is -- that everyone should be killed there. That it should be flattened.
And most recently, several Israeli ministers have talked about the need to remove the population of Gaza from Gaza itself, or to encourage them to
leave. And so, the issue of intent, which is usually very hard to prove, and which the Israelis will argue tomorrow, is not correct, has actually
been expressed, in many other -- in the last three months, over and over again.
BARTOV: So, yes. It will be -- this is the point they will make. They will also say that they are trying not to target populations. But the evidence
on the ground is that there has been a great deal of indiscriminate bombing and destruction of entire areas, actually flattening -- as they threatened,
flattening entire areas, especially in Northern Gaza. And that would be, you know, hard to disprove.
GOLODRYGA: Yes. It's interesting because even those who are defending Israel say one of the weakest arguments here is what you just laid out,
some of the comments by members of the Knesset, members of this government, perhaps that's why we heard Prime Minister Netanyahu in English yesterday
come out and release a statement saying that they do not support -- this government does not have a policy of displacing the Palestinians and that
they, in fact, will be living in Gaza after the war. Clearly there is a lot of pressure there.
Israeli journalist, Anshel Pfeffer even wrote, Israel isn't committing a genocide, but it has genociders within its government. How damaging is that
for Israel, a democracy, which as defenders would say, listen, we can't control every single thing that our members of government say, that these
are backbenchers, that they're not part of the war cabinet, what do you make of that argument?
BARTOV: Well, first of all, you will know that Netanyahu made that statement in English --
BARTOV: -- but he hasn't made it in Hebrew. And he's speaking from both sides of his mouth. It is not only all kind of backbenchers who are making
these statements, it's the minister of defense, it's the prime minister, it's top generals in the military, these are actual decision-makers. So,
that's one thing that has to be taken into account.
What does it mean in terms of Israeli democracy? We are in Israel in a very precarious condition. Because Israel right now has sort of put itself in a
position where the prime minister cannot make a decision on what will happen after these operations is over or how you define success of this
operation, because any decision that he makes about the next day, what will happen later, may cause his cabinet to fall and because he's under
indictment, he may end up in jail.
And so, his own interest is, A, not to make any decision, about the next day. And B, basically to let the war go on, not only in Gaza, but as we
know, also things are deteriorating quickly along the Lebanese border with Hezbollah.
And so, the best thing for Israeli democracy and for this war would be for this cabinet to be removed. It has already entirely discredited itself by
what happened on October 7th, and as has the military, but it -- of course, there's no interest in leaving power. And the military declared three --
two main goals in that war, which is to destroy Hamas as a political and military organization and to free the hostages. And it has been fighting
for three months now, and it has failed in doing that. And, in that sense, if there is no political horizon, then the killing will just go on.
GOLODRYGA: So, as we mentioned, an injunction is expected from the court in a matter of days, a week or two perhaps.
You know, at this point, what Israel's argument is going to be, what their defense is going to be. We heard from the prosecution today. How do you
expect this court to rule?
BARTOV: Well, we don't know. The assumption is, I suspect it's correct, but we really can't say, that the court will not call for a ceasefire, but
rather will call on Israel, A, to be much more discriminant in its military actions, and B, to make sure that much more humanitarian help is being
brought into Gaza, where there's now a major problem of not only the 23,000 or so who were killed, but also famine and of epidemics.
I suspect this is what they may come up with. And then, of course the court has no way to enforce this and it may have to go to the Security Council.
And the Security Council may be facing a veto by the United States.
GOLODRYGA: Surely will be facing a veto by the United States. It's already called this case meritless. What about the argument, that separate from
this court case, that Israel is saying, listen, we've allowed for more aid trucks, from -- thanks to western pressure, especially from the United
States, to go in, and that now, just days ago, they've announced a new phase, a less intense phase in this war.
Do you expect to hear those arguments from the Israelis tomorrow? And will the court factor that in?
BARTOV: It's possible. I don't know whether they'll talk about the third phase that they are implementing but they will probably talk about
increased humanitarian aid, but that humanitarian aid is completely insufficient and the third phase means that there will be operations
precisely in that area where most of the population of Gaza is now concentrated.
And so, any military action there is bound to, A, bring many more civilian losses, and B, just make the humanitarian situation even worse.
We know that it's deteriorating now. We know that there is not enough aid coming in. There are about 200,000 civilians in Northern Gaza who seem to
be getting no help at all, and there's very little reporting on that. And so, I don't think that this will wash, but maybe the court will take that
GOLODRYGA: And we know the majority of the victims and those killed are children in this war, sadly as well. I'd be remiss not to just bring up the
optics of this and the fact that the Genocide Convention was established in 1948 after the Holocaust and the murder of 6 million Jews. The
establishment of the State of Israel followed the Holocaust as well.
Israel has accused the U.N., as you know, a bias for many years. Has accused South Africa of bias for being more sympathetic to the
Palestinians. I'm just wondering, from your perspective, where do those arguments sit in this case?
BARTOV: Well, you know, I'd say that there are two major ironies here. One is, as you say, that of course the Genocide Convention, which was pushed by
Raphael Lemkin, who was himself a Jewish Polish lawyer who ended up in America, invented the term, was supported largely because of what happened
in World War II, and particularly the mass murder of the Jews, the genocide of the Jews, and that Israel now would stand accused of that is a very sad
moment. But it doesn't mean that it shouldn't be if there is enough evidence.
And the second is, that it's South Africa that is lodging this complaint. And South Africa was a country that became a pariah country in the
International Community because of the apartheid regime there and has a kind of long story with the State of Israel, which was one of the only
countries that worked together with the apartheid regime while South Africa was otherwise isolated from the rest of the International Community.
And for South Africa to be bringing this against Israel is, to my mind, it's a very important moment, of course, but it's also very sad because in
some ways you would have thought that South Africa and Israel would be on the same page and not opponents.
GOLODRYGA: Professor, really appreciate your time, your expertise. I could talk to you for hours. Unfortunately, we're out of time for now. But of
course, we'll be watching as this trial continues tomorrow as well. Thank you for joining us.
BARTOV: Thank you very much.
GOLODRYGA: Well, as the arguments are heard in The Hague, the bombs keep dropping in the Middle East, and fears keep growing of a wider war. It's
something U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is trying to counter with a whistle stop tour of the region, where he's also calling for a reduction
in civilian casualties. Here he is in Cairo this morning.
ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: We're doing everything we can with very strong regional support, again, to make sure that this doesn't
spread, that there can't be a repeat of October 7th, but also that this conflict comes to an end.
It is vital that, as long as this is going on, every effort be made to make sure that civilians who are caught in a crossfire of Hamas' making don't
continue to suffer.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
For more on this I'm joined by former diplomat Alon Pinkas. He served as Israel's consul general in New York from 2000 to 2004 as an adviser to two
Israeli prime ministers as well. Alon, welcome to the program.
I'm not sure how much you heard of my conversation leading into this, about the ICJ hearing today, part one of two days. I know that it is riveted
Israel that everyone has been glued to the television watching it. I'm just curious to get your reflections personally as a politician, as an expert in
this field and as an Israeli.
ALON PINKAS, FORMER ISRAELI CONSUL GENERAL IN NEW YORK AND FORMER ADVISER TO ISRAELI PRIME MINISTERS BARAK AND PERES: Well, I'm not an expert on
that field, Bianna.
GOLODRYGA: The politics.
PINKAS: But I did hear the --
PINKAS: No, no, no. I did hear your interview of Omer Bartov in its entirety. It was an excellent interview, very illuminating, very -- you
know, very informative.
You know, there's very little that I can add to that. There have been several things that Israel could have done to avert this genocide
I mean, it's going to be very difficult to prove genocide because, as you know, and I think Professor Omer Bartov referred to it, you need to prove
intent. And intent is very difficult. You can barely prove intent on the dropping of two atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. You can barely
prove intent on allied bombings of Dresden or German bombings of Coventry. Surely, it's going to be difficult to show intent here.
But what made this complicated, and you and Omer Bartov, both referred to it, is those reckless, moronic, idiotic statements by Israeli politicians
on all sides, making all these, you know, ridiculous ideas, you know, flatten Gaza, burn Gaza, nuke Gaza, relocate the population of Gaza. So,
this is taken very seriously.
You saw the prime minister speak in English, you alluded to it earlier. He sent a nemesis of his Former Supreme Justice -- Supreme Court Justice and
President of the Supreme Court, Aharon Barak. That was not an easy thing for him to do, because if there is an injunction or so-called a provisional
ruling it could then move to the ICC, the International Criminal Court, where Mr. Netanyahu, among other people, may be indicted. So, it's a big
deal that I think will dictate moves from now on.
GOLODRYGA: The International Criminal Court, I'm glad you brought this up, because for those that may be watching and saying, what about Hamas' role
in all of this and being tried? That's where Hamas officials would, in theory, be tried. The International Criminal Court, that goes after
individuals, as opposed to the International Court of Justice, which really focuses on nations.
Again, this is a hypothetical, but when you talk about some of these outlandish irresponsible, reckless statements that have been made by those
in this government, you know, there are a few ways to defend it. Other than saying that they're not part of the war cabinet or, you know, this is a
democracy, you can't control what people say.
If Prime Minister Netanyahu wanted to, could he have? Could he have put his foot down? Could he have made that statement that he made in English
yesterday in Hebrew?
PINKAS: Seven times in the last week, 30 times in the last month and 90 times in the last three months. He should have, and he could have, and he
refrained from doing so for his own political expediency.
You know, I -- the only line of defense, Bianna, that I could see Israel using with these statements being part of the application or the
indictment, is insanity.
If, you know -- if Israel's advocates say that these ministers are borderline insane and cannot differentiate between good or bad, right and
wrong, maybe that's a working line of defense. Otherwise, I think they'll focus not on the statements, but on the more substantive issue of intent.
PINKAS: But again, like you said at the end, this could -- if the ICJ issues an injunction, again, a provisional ruling, this can go back to the
Security Council. And yes, the U.S. will probably, most likely, 99 percent veto it, but it would further isolate the U.S. It would further pressure
the Biden administration.
Secretary Blinken's visit here was not successful. He had some very difficult and unpleasant exchanges with his hosts in this country in
Israel, particularly with the prime minister, with Mr. Netanyahu. So, I see this all converging into a point where the U.S. is going to -- it is in the
process of considering, but the U.S. will actually change policy.
GOLODRYGA: And none of this, as you noted, benefits President Biden going into an election year where his poll ratings have already been pretty low
as it stands.
I wanted -- before I get onto the other issues in the region there, most notably Lebanon, I want to have you respond to an Axios report that based
on this court trial in the ICJ court case that cable was sent by the foreign ministry in Israel to its ambassadors around the world demanding
that local leaders "publicly and clearly state that your country rejects the outrageous, absurd and baseless allegations made against Israel."
As an expert in this field as a former diplomat, what is your response to that? Is that something that would have been expected by any country to do?
PINKAS: Well, you giggled yourself when you said that. No, no one's going to respond. Micronesia may respond favorably. The Canadians may weigh this
into their policy. Otherwise, no one is going to take this seriously.
And no one is going to take this seriously not only because of the scope and the scale of the operation in Gaza. They're not going to take it
seriously because Mr. Netanyahu has a credibility deficit in the world. And now, when push comes to shove, he's asking France or Norway or Japan to be
understanding, to be sympathetic. I doubt that is going to work.
Even though, even though the case itself is frivolous and nasty. But asking -- you know, asking Italy or Argentina to stand up and say that they oppose
it, I think is an exercise in futility.
GOLODRYGA: Let's move to the other developments in the region. You hinted at increased tensions between the secretary of state and his visit, I guess
behind closed doors at least, with Prime Minister Netanyahu, and a lot of this focus not so much even on Gaza at this point, but on other future
hotspots and other fronts that may be opening any time soon.
And we're looking at the north of Israel, Southern Lebanon and the border there with Hezbollah. You have 80,000 Israelis that have been displaced.
That's not sustainable. Israeli politicians have said as much. But they've also said that they want to continue working down the road of diplomacy.
That narrative seems to have changed. And the U.S. not as supportive on that front. Talk more about that.
PINKAS: True. True. Well, there's an aura of inevitability about a war between Israel and Hezbollah that supposedly is not related to the war in
Gaza, but the context is the same and the mentorship and the support coming from Iran, it makes it even more explosive and makes it even more
Now, for the first two, maybe even three months of the conflict, in October and November and into December, the U.S. physically and politically
deterred Iran and Hezbollah by sending the USS Gerald Ford and the USS Dwight Eisenhower, two aircraft carrier strike groups, to the region.
By the way, the Eisenhower left the Mediterranean and is in the Gulf, and the Gerald Ford is sailing back to Norfolk, Virginia. So, that was based on
the American perception, or the American assessment, rather, that escalation was averted.
Right now, the Americans are saying, again, that perhaps that is not the case. Iran feels emboldened, as is evident in the activities and the scope
of activities of the Houthis down in Yemen who are blocking international maritime trade routes.
And so, right now, what is supposedly a territorial dispute between Israel and Lebanon on the exact demarcation of the border, I don't want to, you
know, waste your viewer's time, the U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701 said that the border is temporary, not final.
Anyway, so, there is this territorial dispute that the U.S. is using to somehow get this diplomatically resolved. But there is an issue here called
Hezbollah. Hezbollah is not Lebanon. Hezbollah is not the government of Lebanon. Hezbollah is the most powerful force in Lebanon.
It is not authorized to make a policy, to make any kind -- take any risks or make any compromises. On the other hand, Hezbollah has an excess of
30,000 precise missiles, an arsenal of 140,000 or 150,000, but 30,000 that are believed to be precise. They can hit any building right behind me if
they so choose.
And so, the Americans are extremely apprehensive because they feel that if it -- if the conflict escalates or spreads horizontally, as it's called,
into Lebanon, this could draw America in. Because between Iran fostering this in Lebanon and Iran fostering the Houthis, the U.S. may be dragged
into a war. It has zero inclination of being in on a strategic and foreign policy basis. And as you mentioned, and I agree with you, Bianna, President
Biden has no interest in being bogged down in the Middle East as we near the election in November.
GOLODRYGA: Can I ask you -- I mean, we often hear, and rightly so, from the Israelis, that October 7th, that this war with Hamas is not a war that
Israel wanted, that it was brought upon them by the horrific October 7th attacks. From your writing, from some of the rhetoric that we're hearing
from this government about Hezbollah, does Bibi Netanyahu want a war with Hezbollah in the immediate future?
PINKAS: No, but he wants the brinkmanship. He wants to flirt with the war. He wants to create the sense that there's an ongoing war, that it is
multifront -- a multifront operation. That this is not about Gaza and October 7th, but -- 7th. But this is an -- you know, a civilizational
conflict, that there are the forces of Islamofascism that this is how he calls it, and the forces of democracy.
And here he is saving Western civilization. He actually believes in this messianic self-image of himself. And so, I don't think he wants a war with
Hezbollah, but he wouldn't mind the brinkmanship. That's very dangerous because 90 percent of escalations are a result of miscalculations rather
than deliberate policy.
GOLODRYGA: Of course.
PINKAS: And so, this is playing with a lot of fire. At a time -- I'm going back to our first topic or second topic, at a time when the so-called day
after Gaza, not only has not been resolved, it hasn't even seriously been discussed yet. So, he has a vested interest in prolonging this. This
distances him from the debacle of October 7th. That prevents widespread demonstrations in Israel demanding that he assume responsibility. And that
GOLODRYGA: And that he release --
PINKAS: -- distances him even more --
GOLODRYGA: And that he'd do more to release the hostages.
PINKAS: I'm sorry.
GOLODRYGA: And that he'd do more to release the hostages. Do you -- as many Israelis feel, do you think that this government, the Netanyahu
government, is doing everything they can now as we are approaching day 100 of these more than 100 Israeli hostages that are still remaining in Gaza.
Are they doing enough to prioritize their release?
PINKAS: The short answer is no. I mean, verbally, they remain committed. Practically, they're not necessarily taking seriously the ideas that are
out there. Now, the ideas shifted. There was a time when there was an idea that all Palestinian prisoners will be released in exchange for all
hostages. Israel said that that's a nonstarter.
Now, reportedly, there's a Qatari effort, and the Qataris have been extraordinarily helpful here. The Qataris have said that there's a plan
that in exchange for a full ceasefire, the hostages will be released. Israel is saying no full ceasefire at this point. So, I'm not saying it's
right or wrong, but you asked whether it's doing everything and the answer is no.
GOLODRYGA: Yes, that is unfortunate to hear and just think about all these families that are waiting. Waiting desperately for the return of their
loved ones. Alon Pinkas, always great to see you. Thank you so much for joining us.
PINKAS: Thank you, Bianna. My pleasure.
GOLODRYGA: Well, turning now to the war in Ukraine. Russian missiles hit Kharkiv late Wednesday, destroying a hotel and injuring 11 people, amongst
them Turkish journalists. It's yet another reminder of the daily danger faced by Ukrainians as this war approaches two years.
President Zelenskyy is continuing his tour of the Baltic nations in Estonia today, and once again reiterating his calls for Ukraine to be admitted to
NATO. Whether or not they'll get the support they need from the U.S. remains up in the air. Just look at this clash of opinions between
Republican presidential candidates Nikki Haley and Ron DeSantis at CNN's debate last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NIKKI HALEY (R), U.S. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Russia said, once they take Ukraine, Poland and the Baltics are next. Those are NATO countries, and
that puts America at war. This is about preventing war.
GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL), U.S. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's an open-ended commitment. They want another 108 billion. They will not tell you. When the
-- they have achieved their goal and this is going to go on maybe hundreds of billions more into the future. I think a lot of people have died. We
need to find a way to end this because our priorities for national security, of course, the border, which we talked about, and people like
Nikki Haley care more about Ukraine's border than she does about our own southern border, which is wrong.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: Oksana Markarova is Ukraine's ambassador to the United Nations -- the United States, and she sat down with Walter Isaacson to discuss this
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WALTER ISAACSON, CNN HOST: Thank you, Bianna.
And Ambassador Markarova, welcome to the show.
OKSANA MARKAROVA, UKRAINIAN AMBASSADOR TO THE U.S.: Thank you, Walter, for having us.
ISAACSON: There's a brutal article in the Wall Street Journal about the trench warfare. And after months, how -- maybe a mile or two is going back
and forth, are we getting into a situation now with this trench warfare where it's almost frozen in place and there's got to be ways to break this
MARKAROVA: Well, Walter, I wouldn't call it frozen. It hasn't been frozen since the war started, but also since 2014 when Russia attacked us in the
first place. And the trench war has been there since the first day of this war. Russians not only started shelling us with all the missiles and
drones, which we continue to see, but also attacked with a very large front.
And to be able -- frankly, to even keep this long front line, more than 800 miles, is already achievement beyond a number of militaries and Ukrainian
military has been able not to lose anything. But, of course, without additional increase support, without the capabilities, it's going to be
difficult to advance. So, we can advance. It's not frozen. We can win, but it all -- a function of weapons at the moment. And the will to fight is
there. It's difficult. It's muddy. It's cold. It's one of the coldest winters. But you know, if we can get a little bit more weapons, we can move
ISAACSON: You say that it can't advance with more -- without more weapons, and if you get more weapons maybe you can move forward. President
Zelenskyy's in the Baltics right now, trying to both raise money and support there. What does he hope to get out of those three Baltic nations?
MARKAROVA: Well, President Zelenskyy have been very clear since the day one of this war and even before. We need all military capabilities. So, we
needed them before the war to deter Russia from attacking and we need them now in order to be able to not only successfully defend Ukrainians, defend
Ukraine, but also liberate our territories.
The number one priority, as President Zelenskyy said, is air defense. We see how Russians are cooperating not only with Iranians, which is not news
for anyone anymore, but with North Koreans and all these missiles that they are selling. There are all cities everywhere, residential areas, trying to
scare people, trying to spread this virus of despair everywhere which they will not be able to do. But, you know, the air defense is critical. The
artillery is critical. The long-range missiles are critical. Everything is critical.
Look, we are fighting a much larger enemy. Look at the map. The country that is not only a nuclear power and member of the Security Council, but
the country with much larger population, yes. Unmotivated population that has no idea what they are doing in Ukraine but still much larger, and also
equipment and they're getting help from their friends, the new axis of evil. So, you know, we just have to stay the course and we have to double
down and we have to respond with more weapons and we can win.
ISAACSON: At the beginning of this war, we were hearing about crippling sanctions. It's going to crush the Russian economy. This will do things.
Russian economy has grown. Grown as much as some of European economy. What happened? How come we don't have crippling sanctions?
MARKAROVA: Walter, we worked on sanctions, as you know, since early 2021 in order to prevent Russia from this attack. And sanctions were
instrumental at the beginning months of the war. But, you know, first of all, these sanctions would cripple probably any democracy. But with
autocratic country like Russia, you really have to implement them everywhere. And you have to you have to make sure that other countries
which deem themselves neutral are not actually benefiting from the situation and trying to buy even more from Russia.
So, for example, the Russian financial sector. Yes, there are dozens of banks, which were put on the U.S. full blocking sanctions list, but there
are 330 banks in Russia. There is still a lot to go. Now, in a democratic country when you sanction the majority of the banks, the largest banks.
that will have an effect. But in an autocratic country where people in Kremlin can pick up the phone, call even a small bank and say, you are now
servicing the Russian military, you have to sanction all of them. And we can go sector by sector and see how much more we still can do.
So, that's why this is one of the key areas on which we are working together with our American friends and allies. And I want to thank the
Treasury and Department of Commerce on this work, but there is still so much more we can do together.
ISAACSON: You say that the war cannot really be pursued as strongly by Ukraine unless it has more support and much more weaponry. I read a report
out of Estonia, it needed 200,000 artillery shells per month. I don't know if you've seen that to work, which is more than the total capacity of the
United States and the West. Do you worry that their supply chains are not going to be supportive?
MARKAROVA: Walter, we do not worry. We act. That's why when President Zelenskyy came here in September, one of the biggest agreements of --
between him and President Biden was to actually start actively working to have the co-production and to address this issue.
And you are absolutely right. You know, we -- all of us, democratic countries, we're kind of preparing for -- to defend ourselves, but not
really preparing for this aggressive World War I type of trench wars and this this level of brutality. But it's clear to us now that we have to do
it. And Ukraine is already producing a lot of these drones and Ukraine is already producing a lot of capabilities ourselves, but together we will be
able to address it even more.
And plus, this is an important area for the future rebuilding of Ukraine, you know, because again, it's difficult. The fight is not yet won
completely. There is still a lot of hardship in front of us, but we are positive that we will win. And we already are thinking about how we will
rebuild Ukraine after we win and defense production is going to be one of the key areas in which in addition to agri and innovation and I.T. and
everything that Ukraine is known for where Ukraine can offer a lot to the world.
ISAACSON: The United States has been the major contributor, both in resources and weaponry. I assume there's about -- maybe a 50 percent
chance, at least, that that aid gets cut off. What is Ukraine's plan if that happens?
MARKAROVA: Well, first of all, let me say that we're all very grateful to Americans, to American people, to President Biden, to Congress on a very
strong bipartisan basis for all the support that we have received. And I have to tell you that I think it's less than 50 percent chance that the aid
will be cut off. I travel a lot in the U.S. now, and I feel the support of American people.
They -- the country which is based on freedom and bravery understand this fight more than anyone. And the country that realizes that when somebody
attacks your home, when somebody attacks your loved ones, what can you do? You can only defend them. You can fight. It's not even a matter of choice.
So, I'm positive that American people support us.
And you know, the discussions in Congress are very active and I understand there are a lot of internal issues. And of course, again, it's normal in a
democracy. But we have faith in in American people. And we also have faith in American Congress. So, you know, maybe later than we have expected or
needed it, but we really hope that Congress will approve this support and that we will have the capabilities and the budget support to continue our
ISAACSON: Well, I applaud having faith in the American Congress and hope, but in some ways, there's got to be other plans because whether it's a 50
percent chance or a 20 percent chance, especially if Trump is reelected, and certainly if the Republicans hold Congress and even the U.S. State
Department spokesman said, yes, we want to continue support, but not at the same levels as the past two years. So, how are you planning for that, a
drawdown or cutoff of U.S. Military assistance?
MARKAROVA: Well, first of all, you know, if you look at the proposed support, which is being discussed. Actually, when the spokesman was talking
about the decreased support -- the budget support, it has been decreasing in -- on a monthly basis since the beginning, and that was the plan
So, the defense security support is increasing but the budget support is decreasing because Ukraine is doing a lot in order to develop our own
capabilities, in order to restore the economy. And we all hope that, you know, with more air defense and more people coming back and production
picking up and co-production starting, of course, we don't want to be dependent. We want to be self-sufficient.
So, I wouldn't take it as a negative thing per se, you know. We want to be able to actually fund ourselves and then get the security and other
assistance from our partners. But you know, of course, we are working on -- look at the beginning of this horrible invasion in March 2022, we could
only depend at the beginning on ourselves. It took some time to get the support from our friends and allies.
And if -- let's recall those first months when people were guessing how long we will be able to survive? Three days, one week, two weeks. And we
didn't -- we surprised a lot of people in other countries, but we didn't surprise ourselves. You know, this is something we fought for in -- during
the previous generations. This is something Ukraine voted in 1991. And we defended this choice every time Russia tried to take it away from us.
ISAACSON: You talked a moment ago about how you weren't really prepared for being a World War I like trench warfare going on and on. And now we see
things that are breaking that pattern, attacks by Russia in the western part of Ukraine, and also attacks by Ukraine. And the -- do you think that
there may be a new set of tactics, a shift, instead of just focusing on the trench front?
MARKAROVA: Well, it's a bit old tactic for Russia. They just ran out of some missiles and now they got them from the North Korea. So, if you look
at the beginning of this full-fledged phase of the war, that's what they started with.
They started with massive attack from North, south, and east, with all the troops. Remember, which one -- which were marching and they got as close to
Kyiv as the outskirts of Kyiv, actually, but they also started with massive missiles attacks. That's how they have found that hierarchy of and Western
Ukraine as well from the very beginning.
Then they focused on destroying our energy infrastructure. So, they have been -- but of course, you know, they continue to shell the civilian and
residential areas everywhere. They completely destroyed Mariupol, not only by the ground forces, but also by the missiles. So, it's not something new
And unfortunately, we have to admit, you know, they are war criminals. And there are no red lines. They will attack hospitals. And when we were able
to get some people in these prisoner swaps or exchanges, we hear horrific stories. Horrific stories. And, you know, our Prosecutor General is
investigating more than 100,000 cases, individual cases right now.
ISAACSON: So, you just talked about the prisoner swaps. How did those come about? How are those things negotiated? And is there some chance that that
leads to broader talks?
MARKAROVA: I don't know what you mean by broader talks. If you are referring to, you know, some ideas that resurface from time to time, that
Russia might be ready for some of the discussions, you know. We clearly have to just listen to Mr. Putin and see the actions they are taking. Their
intent did not change. They are brutally executing genocide in Ukraine. And if they want to stop it, it's very easy. They can stop the war tomorrow,
get out from Ukraine, and the war will stop.
ISAACSON: In "Bloomberg" and other reports, the group of seven nations, your own allies, keep talking about ways to maybe have peace talks. That
makes it --
MARKAROVA: Oh, we are talking about President Zelenskyy's peace formula, and we're very serious about it. President Zelenskyy put it forward. And as
you know, there are a number of meetings where on the level of advisers, which get together and discuss it and the number of countries which are
joining, these talks are growing.
And in addition to these formal meetings of the advisers and hopefully soon the summit or at the level of the leaders, which we're working on, there
are also daily talks between different countries. And we're very clear, nobody wants peace more than Ukrainians. But let's not mix the real,
sustainable, just -- durable peace which President Zelenskyy has proposed and we are discussing based on the U.N. Charter, based on the decisions
that the majority of countries already supported with the operational pause which Russia needs in order to get more missiles from their friends in
North Korea and re-invade or attack or --
ISAACSON: Wait, wait. So, you're saying that without a full-fledged peace, I know at Davos there will be discussions of it as well with some of these
ministers, there can't be a ceasefire or a truce while trying to pursue such a peace?
MARKAROVA: Oh, well, we tried that before, you know, in 2015. And Ukraine, even though the Minsk Accord were not particularly fair to us, but we did
everything possible in order to find a diplomatic solution. And through -- during eight years, and I remember because in my previous capacity as the
minister of finance, I also worked on it a lot. We tried to do everything possible in order to restore our territorial integrity and sovereignty
through diplomatic solutions.
And what did Russia do? They just used that operational force to amass all the equipment that they were preparing in order to attack us again. So,
unless and until Russia leaves its criminal intent to invade and attack a neighboring country and destroy us, they are not negotiating in a good
faith. So, you know, it takes two to negotiate.
But coming back to the prisoner swaps, you know, of course, that's a separate line. And we are glad that we had already a dozen of these
prisoner swaps. And the last swap, which came after five months of Russia literally blocking the -- even the discussions on that was a big relief to
those who were waiting for their loved ones home.
ISAACSON: And do you think the fact that that was a big relief after five months and the swap happened is some indication that there might be more of
that in the future?
MARKAROVA: Well, we really hope that we can continue the discussions on the prisoners, and we really hope that with other countries that are
helping us and with other organizations that we will be able, not only to locate the -- our servicemen but also civilians. And most importantly, most
difficult issue, is children.
ISAACSON: Tell me about the relocation of the children.
MARKAROVA: This is, frankly for me, not only as a Ukrainian and a diplomat, but as a mother, is difficult to understand how can anyone even
engage in something like this? So, from the territories -- occupied territories, the Russians have abducted so many children, not only those
which were under state care, but also children that have lost their parents during the war or have been even separated with the parents during this.
When Russia was organizing all this filtration camps, you know, like horrific notion that actually brings us back to the World War II and what
Nazi were doing, you know.
And not only they have taken them into Russia, not only they have changed their own legislation to have the speedy adoptions, but they are moving
them everywhere in Russia and put it up for the adoptions. We were able to return just a handful, you know. We literally -- hundreds of Ukrainian
kids. It's a bit easier with teenagers, who at least can, you know, contact and they know and they understand what's going on. But just imagine infants
if they -- if the infants are stolen.
So, right now, it's a big problem because we don't even know the exact number until we liberate all Ukraine of how many kids are taken and stolen
by Russians. We have identified at least 20,000 on which the Ukrainian ombudsman and our law enforcement is working. We know where they are, but
this is a horrible tragedy. And again, this is one of Putin and his clique committed a number of war crimes. But this is the one for which he already
is indicted as the war criminal.
ISAACSON: Madam Ambassador, thank you so much for joining us.
MARKAROVA: Thank you, Walter. Thank you very much for spreading information about it, because truth is our biggest weapon.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: Poignant reminder from Ambassador Markarova about the ongoing war in Ukraine.
And finally, it's "Barbie's" world and we're just living in it. Award season has kicked off, and Greta Gerwig's top grossing film has taken home
the Golden Globe for cinematic and box office achievement. The first of its kind. Millions of fans not only fell in love with the movie's quirky dance
scenes and pink aesthetic, but also its feminist message. Here's America Ferrera's iconic monologue about the challenges of being a woman in the
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMERICA FERRERA, ACTRESS, "BARBIE": It is literally impossible to be a woman. We have to always be extraordinary, but somehow, we're always doing
it wrong. You have to never get old. Never be rude. Never show off. Never be selfish. Never fall down. Never fail. Never show fear. Never get out of
I'm just so tired of watching myself and every single other woman tie herself into knots so that people will like us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: And make sure to tune in to "The Amanpour Hour" with Christiane this Saturday to catch her interview with the one and only America Ferrera,
where they'll be talking Barbiecore, feminism, the future of cinema, and the importance of representation.
And a note Christian will also be answering your questions on the show about events shaping our future. So, scan the QR code on your screen, you
see it right there, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. "The Amanpour Hour" airs Saturdays from 11:00 a.m. on America's East Coast, 5:00 p.m. in Central
Europe, only on CNN.
And that is it for now. If you ever miss our show, you can find the latest episode shortly after it airs on our podcast. And remember, you can always
catch us online, on our website, and all-over social media. Thank you so much for watching, and goodbye from New York.