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Interview With Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy; Interview With Interview With NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg; Interview With Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas; Interview With Senator Pete Ricketts (R-NE); Interview With U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. Aired 1-2p ET

Aired February 19, 2024 - 13:00   ET




CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Hello, everyone, and welcome to "Amanpour" live from Ukraine. Here's what's coming up.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT: Senators have to understand only in unity we can win Russia and they have to understand that we will win,

with them or not.


AMANPOUR: The urgency of now from President Zelenskyy amid allied anxiety as Putin's forces pressure Ukraine. Will the U.S. deliver aid as promised?

On the eve of the war's second anniversary, my conversations with President Zelenskyy at the Munich Security Conference. And with the panel of NATO

leaders and Republican Senator Pete Ricketts.

Then --

ALEJANDRO MAYORKAS, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: It is a matter of unanimity that our system in the United States, our immigration system is



AMANPOUR: -- my conversation with Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, caught in the crosshairs as Congress slow walks America's

critical priorities.

Welcome to the program everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour live in Kyiv, where days away from the second anniversary of this war, there are feelings

of urgency and of frustration as American support dries up just as Ukraine needs it most.

Probing NATO's staying power, Russia delivered a withering blow to the front line of defeat and its flags are now flying over Avdiivka in the


Still, Ukraine battles on with fewer weapons, less ammunition, and troops staggering from two years of war. Amid this gloom, the death of the

preeminent Putin critic, Alexei Navalny, hit Europe and Ukraine like a bolt of lightning. Speaking on her husband's social media channels, Navalny's

widow, Yulia, fired a shot across Washington's bow.


YULIA NAVALNAYA, WIDOW OF RUSSIAN OPPOSITION LEADER ALEXEI NAVALNY (through translator): I ask you to share your rage, rage, anger, and hatred with me

towards those who are daring enough to kill our future. And I address you with Alexei's words, which I believe it is not a shame to do. It's not a

shame to do little, but it's a shame not to do anything. It's a shame to make yourself intimidated.


AMANPOUR: The Senate Democratic leader, Chuck Schumer, has also said what many here in Europe are thinking, that Navalny's death sounds an urgent

alarm. And President Joe Biden says that Congress' "failure to support Ukraine at this critical moment will never be forgotten."

This weekend, I spoke to President Zelenskyy on stage at the Munich Security Conference. His first in person appearance there since before

Russia's full-scale invasion. And in Munich, he invited Donald Trump, the leading Republican candidate for president, and the obstacle to Ukraine

aid, to come to the front and see the need for himself.


AMANPOUR: Firstly, Mr. President, thank you for being here. And I would like to ask you first about the decision of your commanders to pull back.

Your commander said, in a situation where the enemy is advancing on the corpses of their own soldiers with a 10 to 1 shell advantage under constant

bombardment, this is the only correct solution. What do you expect to happen now?

VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): Thank you very much for your question. It's a very logical and a fair one.

It's important for us to save the lives of our people. That's our main objective. We're saving our lives, our soldiers, because that's our

defense. We are very grateful to our partners for any weapons, but clearly, weapons can only help to bring back justice and peace in the territory of

Ukraine. But first and foremost, as we all know, it's the man, it's the military man who has it in his arms. The military people, they liberate

territories, they protect people, families, and that's a correct decision in order not to be surrounded.


The decision has been made to move back to other lines. Russia has not seized anything. We have to understand that after those two years of war,

Russia has tried in the east of the country to do something. And what does it mean do? They just destroyed several small villages and towns, but the

most thing that they did, they destroyed our life.

And since October, they have been attacking this poor Avdiivka with all the armaments, with all the power that they had, with thousands of their

soldiers who died, thousands -- tens of dozens of thousands. That's what Russia has achieved. It's a depletion of their army.

We're just waiting for more weapons that we're short off. We are short of it. I'm telling you, frankly. We don't have long-range weapons. Russia has

it and we have too little of that. That's true. That's why our main weapon today is our soldiers, our people, and we hope to have the support of our


AMANPOUR: So, a senior NATO official told the F.T. that it is a desperate situation for you on the front lines, far worse than you are actually

admitting. Your commander said that one of the reasons that they pulled back was in just the last 24 hours, there was some 20 airstrikes, 150

different shells. He said they're trying to erase Avdiivka from the face of the -- from the earth.

Do you think this will lead to a snowball of other towns and cities on the front lines collapsing, or what do you expect for the next months and year?

ZELENSKYY (through translator): What we expect, we expect to see what has been promised, what we have agreed upon, that we will be able to unblock

the skies where the Russians have an advantage. As soon as we can do that, when they no longer control the sky. I think this is what I started at the

Munich Conference two years ago, when I said that we need to work a little bit faster and to pay attention to the messages of Ukraine that has a lot

of practice in this war. And that's why it is very important.

I've been emphasizing this since the very first days of the war to unblock the sky. We have started receiving -- we're grateful to our partners. We've

started to receive the air defense systems. Patriot, NASAMS and others, and we have too few of them. I'm not criticizing now, but we have too few of

them in order to quickly move ahead.

But the decision is very simple, where we had our air defense systems, where we -- at that time, people would come back, they would bring back the

economy of a certain town or city, but where we had such systems of air defense, immediately Russia would move back because it would lose its


So, you ask me what we are expecting if we have those systems and long- range weapons? Because it's only an unfair war. It's unfair in general, but it's unfair in terms of the advantages. If you have artillery with a range

of up to 20 kilometers and Russian artillery has the range of up to 40 kilometers, that's the answer. A human being is fighting artillery. That's

unfair and it's not modern war ideology.

We have to develop technology. We've started doing that. We have to develop to start building drones. I'm sure that what is positive for us and

negative for Russia, we will be able to surprise them this year with our drone systems, with our radio electronic warfare systems. That's our

domestic technologies. But that's just a parallel road that we're taking while we're expecting for assistance from our partners.

AMANPOUR: Mr. President, you said that with the will and with all the gear you could win. I've been speaking to American generals, others who said you

can win, but it depends on the will of politicians in your allied nations, in the United States and, and everywhere else.

As you know, there is a stalling in the United States Congress. The Republican led House will not address the huge weapons bill that the

president is trying to get to you. Some of them may be here. What would you say to your Republican colleagues in the United States? Anybody who's

blocking that bill?

ZELENSKYY: Yes, I will have meeting with centers today. We have -- I think we will have detail speech with detail. They have to understand what's

going on. And I think that's it. I don't want to push such message to United States because they did a lot for us. Did a lot. I see Nancy Pelosi.

Thank you so much. We did together a lot. Thank you from our people, from all our heart. Thank you so much.


Just we have to work in one joint team. That is the answer. If Ukraine will be alone, you have to understand what will be. Russia will destroy us,

destroy Baltic, destroy Poland. And they can do it.

Yesterday, I had very interesting, very useful, I think, dialogues with German government and also with France partners. And I said very clearly

and very honestly, if you will remind that, what was going on in Ukraine in 2014, our people were not ready for the war, for the quick occupation of

Crimea, part of Donbass. And then during almost eight years, people began to be ready for such aggression. Not only with a weapon, it's not a

question of weapon. You're ready psychologically.

That's why senators have to understand, only in unity we can win Russia, and they have to understand that we will win, with them or not. We don't

have any other way, we have only one land, our Ukraine.

AMANPOUR: Mr. President, you are outmanned, and you always say this, there are a huge, huge advantage in terms of numbers of Russian forces. There is

a question of potentially you signing a law or changing the draft and the conscription and lowering the age from 27 to 25. Are you going to do that?

ZELENSKYY (through translator): It's a comprehensive and complicated question. It's a question about how fair recruitment should be. The most

important issue is rotation of the people who are very tired at the front line physically. Any person, not only Ukraine is -- it doesn't really

matter what nation you belong to, if you are tired, you have to go back, you have to be restored, and somebody else would replace you.

Another professional soldier who has been trained during a certain period of time and mobilization recruitment depends on that also. How many people

have on the front, how many reserves you have and why you need that for defending operation some number of brigades for -- they began to translate

me. Yes, it's difficult.

So, for counteroffensive, you need another number of brigades. So, the question on mobilization, it's a complicated thing. Yes. And I can't share

with you the number of victims and casualties. But for example, if you will, when we speak that they have too much people, and you have to know,

for example, in Avdiivka, I just comparing the number, one to seven.

It's a pity that I'm -- but for one death of Ukrainians, seven deaths of Russians, one to seven. So, I'm not comparing this war and I don't want and

it's a tragedy even to lose one person, but we didn't begin it. So, that's -- but you have to know, we have to understand what was going on in this

small city.


AMANPOUR: But still they are outgunned. They desperately need that ammunition. And Zelenskyy offered this candid response to the death of

Alexei Navalny.


ZELENSKYY: Putin kills whoever he wants. Be it an opposition leader or anyone else who seems at the target exactly to him. After the murder of

Alexei Navalny, it's absurd to perceive Putin as a supposedly legitimate head of a Russian State.

And he is the thug who maintains power through corruption and violence, coming to his so-called inauguration, shaking his hand, considering him an

equal means to disdain the very nature of political power.


AMANPOUR: Now, behind the scenes in Munich, amidst shock at Navalny's death, the Republican Congressional delegation were winning no popularity

contest. Although, some tried to say they would eventually do the right thing and pass the Ukraine Aid Bill.


To discuss all of this, I spoke with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, Estonia's Prime Minister Kaja Kallas, and Republican Senator

Pete Ricketts.


AMANPOUR: You heard President Zelenskyy talk about the death of Alexei Navalny and how this has been a warning or a sign to all of you sitting

here as this very important conference opens. Can I just get you to -- can I just get you, Senator, to comment on the death of Navalny? And what

signal do you think Russia is sending the world?

SEN. PETE RICKETTS (R-NE): Well, first of all, our thoughts and prayers go out to the family. And it just reemphasizes that Vladimir Putin's a

dictator, that dictators don't know any rules, and that is why it's important that we remember that NATO is here to protect our collective

security against dictators like Vladimir Putin.

AMANPOUR: And just before I go to the prime minister, does it sharpen your intent to do more to support Ukraine? As President Zelenskyy said, you

know, it's Navalny one day, it's Ukraine and the rest of Europe the next day.

RICKETTS: Well, I think Putin's invasion of Ukraine demonstrated what his intentions are. I don't know that this changes our perception of Putin. We

only knew he was a bad guy, and this just reinforces what we already knew.

AMANPOUR: I'll get back to the -- you know, the bill for aid in a moment. Prime Minister Kallas, you are literally on the front line. You have been

very strong in, you know, needing to maintain a credible defense and deterrence. What is your reaction to the death of Navalny, and what it

might mean in a bigger way?

KAJA KALLAS, ESTONIAN PRIME MINISTER: Well, it shows that Putin's playbook hasn't changed. I mean, this is the way he operates. This is the dictator's

handbook in real-life. So, we should be all aware of this.

And like President Zelenskyy said, let's not discuss to do something. We have to do everything to stop him because history rhymes. We have seen this

already in 1930s. The same thing. I mean, American isolationism. I mean, on the one side, you know, this -- not stopping the aggressor when we have the

chance to stop him and then seeing aggression spread all over the world. Let's do the right thing. Let's learn something from the history.

AMANPOUR: And just to frame it a little differently for you, Secretary General, NATO has said, and actually key defense ministers from the

frontline countries, have said that you are concerned for the first time, this wasn't the case last year, that within three to five years even, Putin

could test the resolve of a NATO country.

JENS STOLTENBERG, NATO SECRETARY GENERAL: We can never take peace for granted, but I think it is important to convey that we don't see any

imminent threat against any NATO ally. The world has become more dangerous, but NATO has become stronger, and the purpose of NATO is to prevent war, is

to ensure that there's no room in Moscow for any miscalculation about NATO's readiness and resolve to protect all Allies.

And to make it clear, that an attack on one ally will trigger a response from the whole alliance. And as long as we convey that message clearly to

Moscow, no ally will be attacked. So, our deterrence remains credible. And therefore, we don't see any military threat against any NATO ally.

KALLAS: Just -- I mean, our focus should not drift from helping Ukraine militarily because we don't have to talk about any NATO country if we stop

Putin in Ukraine. And that's why we should concentrate our efforts that he stops there.

AMANPOUR: Senator Ricketts, this is now depending on the United States. Europe has done its bit. When everybody said, we're not going to, you know,

pass this bill, Europe stepped up $50 billion worth of other material to Ukraine. When is the United States going to do what the United States

pledged to do at the beginning of this war, that is defend democracy, make sure tyranny and dictatorship doesn't win?

RICKETTS: Yes. Well, first of all, I'm going to respectfully disagree with you. Europe still needs to do more, right? So, as of last summer, only 11

of the NATO allies were reaching the 2 percent GDP spending. So, that still needs to be done, and I certainly applaud what Germany's doing to get

there, hopefully this year, right, to get to that 2 percent. But there's still many of the European allies that need to get that done.

The -- with regard to the United States, look, we're democracies. Democracy is messy. And it takes time and a process to get there. Every country has

their own thing. So, for example, I just mentioned, you know, the Europeans haven't gotten to the 2 percent yet. So -- but that's probably because of

the internal politics to each of those different countries, right? So, it takes time to bring democracies along. And the same thing is going to

happen in the United States.


We will get there with regard to making the investments in our defense industrial base, supply the weapons to Ukraine, but it's going to take time

to get there. There may be different paths to get there.

I'm reminded of Winston Churchill's, "Americans would do the right thing after exhausting all other possibilities."

KALLAS: I just thought about your migration worry. Just in comparison, we have 6 percent of our population now, Ukrainian, refugees. That would be

calculating into America, that would be 20 million people. So, we survived. You will, I guess survive as well.

AMANPOUR: And then I'd be interested to hear from the two Europeans here what Senator Angus King told me the other day on my program, that actually

the United States is 15th in terms of defense spending for its GDP. And other European countries are spending more relatively frankly.

Do you have an answer to the consequence of Russia winning, of Putin winning?

RICKETTS: Well, I absolutely believe, just as the prime minister was saying, that if Putin wins in Ukraine, he won't stop there. He's a

dictator. Dictators behave the same way, which is, they tell you what they're going to do, and he's talked about a greater Russia, he's talked

about Russians living outside of Russia. There's no doubt that the Baltic states are going to be at risk, or Poland, if we don't stop him in Ukraine.

And the other thing we should also remember is, the geography is not going to change. When he loses in Ukraine, he's still going to be a threat and a

danger. And that's why we are going to have to continue to bolster our eastern flank, and NATO is doing that right now.

So, I think that's part of what we have to do is make sure that we stop him here in Ukraine. And part of also what we need to do, not just in the

United States, but in all of our countries, is make sure we're reminding our publics, because we've seen decreasing support in the United States for

Ukraine, reminding them how important it is that we stop Putin here. And really, getting that message out, building that support, to be able to get

the weapons that Ukraine's going to need to continue to fight.

AMANPOUR: Can I just ask you to pick up on the progress that NATO nations are making in what you're all demanding for more defense spending?

STOLTENBERG: In 2014, NATO made a very important decision triggered by Russia's illegal annexation of Crimea. The reality is that a lot has

happened. Because since then, all NATO allies have increased defense spending.

This year, we expect 18 Allies to meet the 2 percent guideline, spend 2 percent of GDP on defense. That's up from three in 2014. That's a

significant increase. And NATO has implemented the biggest reinforcements of collective defense in generations, with battlegroups, combative troops

in the eastern part of the Alliance for the first time in our history, with high readiness, more forces. And now, total a new defense plan.

So, I'm not saying everything is fine. I agree that the Europeans have to do even more. But they're really on track to something which is

demonstrating a commitment of all allies that they need to stand together.

AMANPOUR: Prime Minister Kallas, you heard the senator say that America will eventually do the right thing in this case. The CIA director has said,

for the United States to walk away from the conflict in Ukraine at this crucial moment and cut off support to Ukraine would be an own goal of

historic proportions.

Do you feel, as the atmosphere has been around the beginning of this conference, that there's a worry about America continuing to lead the

alliance, wanting to be the leader, particularly if the administration changes after the elections? Is that a real anxiety or not?

KALLAS: I mean, first of all, I want to just correct one thing that I hear everywhere. It is mentioning separately Baltics and Poland. I mean, it is

like we are second class NATO. They are all equal NATO members. When Russia is going to attack, NATO is going to attack all of us. Not Poland, not the

Baltics. So, let's not make that distinction there.

Then, second, I think that, of course, we are all democracies. And democracies, we don't get to choose the leaders for our allies, and we have

to work with all the allies. What we have to understand is to learn from the mistakes from the history.

And so, it is true that, we have to ramp up our defense spending and do it not only political pledges, but actually in real-life, so, in Estonia, we

have invested or are investing over 3 percent of our GDP to defense and we encourage everybody to do so.


But there's also -- one thing that I've thought about, and this is that, you know, when I came up with the proposal or the one-round -- 1 million

rounds artillery initiative for Ukraine, then it turned out that, you know, our defense industry is not capable and we don't have enough.

So -- but we have, in Estonia, for example, a very, you know, vibrant tech sector. So, why don't we put those tech sector and defense industry

together to make, you know, a really big progress not producing what, you know, was there for the 20th century, but actually what should be in the

21st century so that we could make advantage by this technological part, also in the tax -- in the defense industry.

So, I think there is so much we can do all together, and together with the big allies, the small ones, everybody brings something to the table. That

is what the alliance is all about.

AMANPOUR: Can you today be certain that NATO can defeat Russia, if it comes to that? Because all we are hearing is that you're not ramped up enough,

you don't have enough to do what you need to do in Ukraine, much less if you were to confront Russia. And you've said that if he steps on your

territory, every single inch will be defended.

STOLTENBERG: NATO is the strongest military power in the world today. We represent 50 percent roughly of the world's total military might. And

militarily, we are stronger than Russia.

But at the same time, I think the war in Ukraine has demonstrated that there are some serious gaps. For instance, when it comes to sustainment,

one of the thing is to have all the advanced weapons systems, but they need spare parts, they need maintenance, and at least they need ammunition.

And in the beginning of the war in Ukraine, we depleted our stocks. But now, they are running quite low. So, now, we are focusing extremely -- also

very much on how to ramp up production. We have some good news. There are new factories being set up. Production has increased. But there's urgent

need to do more.

So, yes, I think we all have learned some serious lessons about the warfare also for NATO, from the war in Ukraine. Then, of course, I was speaking

about burden sharing. European allies have more to do when it comes to total defense spending. But actually, when you look at support for Ukraine,

European allies and Canada have provided more support to Ukraine in total than United States.

And of course, the United States have done a lot, particularly when it comes to military support to Ukraine. But the problem now is, of course,

the lack of decision in the U.S Congress means that the flow from the U.S. has gone down and that has a direct impact on the frontline in Ukraine.

So, of course, this is not only about making the right decision, but it's about making the right decision early as quickly as possible because it's

urgent. Every week we wait means that there will be more people killed on the frontline in Ukraine. So, it's not for me to give advice on how to pass

legislation through the U.S. Congress, but what I can say is the vital and urgent need for the U.S. to decide on a package for Ukraine, because we

need that support and we have a burden sharing between Europe and Canada and United States. So, now it's for the U.S to deliver what they have


AMANPOUR: And you just took that message to Washington last week. And Chancellor Scholz went and, you know, he's just broken ground on a new

ammunition factory.

So, let me turn to you again then. Senator Ricketts. You voted against the Senate plan. I wonder whether anything you've heard today may maybe stiffen

your resolve to go and convince your colleagues, not just in the Senate, but in the House and particularly what President Zelenskyy said that he

would even invite Former President Donald Trump to the front line so he could see the danger and see what's going on.

Does anything you hear today stiffen your resolve, change your mind?

RICKETTS: Well, I think, again, it goes back to democracies are messy and every country has its priorities. So, for example, in the United States

right now, we have a pressing national security issue at our southern border.

Over the course of the last three years, 8.5 million people have either entered our country illegally or attempted to enter our country illegally.

Put that in perspective, that's more than four times the population of my state, and that's the number one consideration for people in my state and

frankly, across the United States is what's going on at our southern border.

And so, that's what my colleagues and I were attempting to do when we were trying to pass this bill, is to get a package that would secure the border,

force President Biden to change his policy to secure the border. Ultimately, we're not successful.

It doesn't mean I don't support what we're doing to support Ukraine, but again, it gets back to every country's got its own policies and its



AMANPOUR: Do you accept though, Senator, that actually the administration came to a very conservative and -- very conservative and strict immigration

proposal based on what the Congress wanted and its Congress who torpedoed it? And we know that the American people, by a considerable poll margin

support NATO.

The Polish prime minister, Donald Tusk, tweeted, Dear Republican Senators of America. Ronald Reagan, who helped millions of us to win back our

freedom and independence, must be turning in his grave today. I'm sorry to add, he said, shame on you.

So, I wonder what you think about that and whether you are prepared to see a world in which America doesn't lead anymore, or one -- I asked you before

in which Russia wins?

RICKETTS: Yes. So, first of all, I'm actually going to say what the administration came forward with on the board was not adequate, didn't get

the job done. With regard to -- you know, again, I understand people are anxious to get this done. It is a democracy. It does take time. And we have

other issues that we got to deal with as well.

So, as I mentioned, we're going to get there. It's going to take time. It's going to -- democracy is a process and we just have to continue to work to

be able to get to the answer for how we're going to invest in our defense industrial base. How we're going to supply Ukraine the weapons they need to

be able to do it. But I'm confident the United States will get there.

AMANPOUR: OK. So, they're going to get there.

KALLAS: Yes. But it is that time is working in favor of Putin, of course. So -- and against the rules-based order really. So, of course, everybody's

looking at United States also to speed up the process.

I understand, you know, democracy takes time, you have debates. But at the same time, there is a lot at stake, I think, in the world. Again, I turned

back to history and I think three things we learned from the 1930s and the Second World War was that, first, everything spreads very fast in Europe.

The second is that, if America isolates itself, it eventually is going to cost you more. And the third is that if aggression pays off somewhere, it

serves as an invitation to use it elsewhere, which is a threat to the global security.

AMANPOUR: Senator Ricketts, Prime Minister Kallas, Secretary General Stoltenberg, thank you very much.


AMANPOUR: And everybody there was very aware that actually Russia's defense industry has really ramped up and its economy is ramped up because of it.

And it's producing a huge number of tanks, huge number of ammunition and rounds. And this is what's also causing unbalance and worry amongst, not

just people here in Ukraine, but obviously the NATO allies.

Now, as we mentioned earlier, Alexei Navalny's death dominated many of the discussions in Munich over the weekend. But despite it being the lead story

in news outlets around the world, inside Russia, it's barely mentioned. This as at least 366 people were detained across the country while

attending vigils and rallies to express their grief for the late opposition leader. A reminder that an act as simple as laying flowers can land people

in jail in Putin's Russia today.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Navalny says that his mother and lawyers were denied access to the morgue where his body is allegedly being held. They

accuse Russian authorities of "stalling for time" and claimed on Twitter X that the body will not be returned to them, not be returned to the family

for at least another 14 days. The Kremlin says an investigation into the circumstances around Navalny's death is underway.

Despite the urgency felt around Navalny's death, House Speaker Mike Johnson in Washington has signaled that he won't be bringing the bill to help

Ukraine to the House floor. Instead, the House has gone on a two-week winter break, a decision that President Biden called bizarre.

What House Republicans apparently did have time for these past few weeks was the impeachment of the Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

The first cabinet secretary to be impeached since 1876. And I spoke with Mayorkas in Munich. It was his first interview since that vote. And just to

note, with world leaders gathering and security being tight, you may occasionally hear the sound of helicopters overhead as we spoke.


AMANPOUR: Secretary Mayorkas, welcome to the program.

MAYORKAS: Thank you. So glad to be here.

AMANPOUR: Let me just ask you first to react, you know, to the death of Alexei Navalny, the last remaining opposition leader in Russia.


MAYORKAS: Tragic news for the world. But it speaks to the depravity of Vladimir Putin and our need as a world to have resolve against

authoritarianism and the invasion of another country that it's just yearning for its sovereignty.

AMANPOUR: Do you see any kind of mood that Putin might have or where he might -- what he might be thinking now emboldened by the gridlock in

Congress over the aid to Ukraine?

MAYORKAS: Two years ago, you and I were here in Munich for the security conference. You interviewed President Zelenskyy, the United States led and

drew its allies forward in a united front against Vladimir Putin. The inability to continue with emphasis, that leadership on the part of the

United States, the uncertainty that we are bringing only can empower Vladimir Putin, and we have to continue our leadership.

AMANPOUR: The vice president has spoken here. Other senior American officials will. Can they convince a very anxious alliance that the United

States remains all in as a leader of NATO and as some -- as a nation that's going to continue its traditional and historic role?

MAYORKAS: The short answer is yes. President Biden has spoken so powerfully about this. The vice president, just a short while ago, put an exclamation

point on that. Yes.

AMANPOUR: So, you have no doubt?

MAYORKAS: I have no doubt. Regrettably, we're going through a period of uncertainty, but I have optimism that we will come together to meet the


AMANPOUR: You have just been impeached by the House. It's the first time in 150 years that this has happened to a cabinet secretary. The White House

has obviously, you know, called it a -- you know, a political disgrace, and it was all about politics. The MAGA Republicans who wanted to do this say

it was the right thing to do because they say you did not perform your duty as the secretary over immigration. What is your response?

MAYORKAS: It's what I've said previously, baseless allegations. No basis in fact, no basis in law. And I continue my work. And my work brings me to the

Munich Security Conference to meet with public officials from different countries, to meet with private sector leaders to address the challenges

that we in the United States are facing and that are global in nature.

AMANPOUR: And do you think people over here understand when you have these incredibly important, discussions on policy and immigration is something

that the whole world, you know, goes through and is having this crisis? Do they understand or do you feel that your position has been compromised?

MAYORKAS: Oh, not at all. Not at all. They very well understand the politics of the moment, not only in the United States, but in their

respective countries as well. And the leaders with whom I am meeting, the great majority of which, I have met before. They know me. They know me --

they know the seriousness of my purpose and the fact that I am focused on mission. The politics are an aside.

AMANPOUR: What about immigration? Because the Republicans, the very same Republicans that impeached you, they had insisted that the administration,

of which you are cabinet secretary, add a tough immigration bill to any foreign aid bill, for Ukraine and the other countries, and then they

sabotage that.

What's your analysis of that? How -- you know, how much is that set back the cause of proper immigration reform?

MAYORKAS: So, it is a matter of unanimity that our system in the United States, our immigration system is broken. I was very privileged and honored

to sit with a bipartisan group of senators to fashion legislative fixes that are overdue now for decades.


MAYORKAS: It is, in fact, what the Republicans insisted upon. The bipartisan group of senators delivered. The question that everyone is

asking is, was a solution actually desired or do people want the problem as a tool for politics? And regrettably, what we are seeing now is that the

latter seems to carry the day more than the former.

AMANPOUR: And what will that mean actually on the border? You've been down there, the president's been down there. You know, it's such a huge thing,

particularly in an election year. What does that mean for actually trying to tackle what even you all admit is, you know, just too many people coming


MAYORKAS: What it does is it's a serious constraint on our ability to manage it, as it has been for some time. We can only do so much within a

broken immigration system, a system that is fundamentally broken.


And when we act, our actions -- our executive actions are invariably challenged in the courts, depending on what we do. What we do drives who's

litigating, but not whether or not it is litigated. We rely on other countries as well. And what's very important to understand is that the

challenge that we are confronting is not unique to the United States.


MAYORKAS: It is hemispheric and global in spoke -- scope.

AMANPOUR: Is it unique to the United States that it just never gets fixed or are many of your allies facing the same issue? You keep saying it's a

fixed -- it's a broken immigration system. Why doesn't it get fixed?

MAYORKAS: I think that it is a potentially unique that we haven't been able to do anything legislative since 1996. That's a long time.


MAYORKAS: And the world has changed. And the dynamics of migration have changed. The demographics of the individuals whom we are encountering at

the border are very different than they were 10 years ago. And so, unfortunately, politics are an impediment to a solution.

AMANPOUR: What other issues are you -- is top of mind for you in your position here? What other major global issues that affect the United States

are you going to be discussing with your counterparts?

MAYORKAS: So, we are very focused on a number of different types of threats, as well as opportunities. Uppermost in my mind right now is what

we are doing with respect to the potential as well as the risks of artificial intelligence.


MAYORKAS: To advance our mission as well as to protect against adverse nation states. I have a very important meeting with my counterpart from the

People's Republic of China in Vienna, following the Munich Security Conference. And so, we have a number of different mission sets within our

portfolio that I am addressing with world leaders.

AMANPOUR: Do you feel -- because China's, obviously -- you know, in the bigger picture, America seems to think its biggest threat comes from China.

I mean, it's trying to deal with Russia and Ukraine, it's trying to deal with an explosive Middle East, but they all say that we need to pivot to

China. What do you think your counterpart is going to be thinking in terms of the seriousness of the United States after all these shenanigans in

Congress, after, you know, questioning aid to Ukraine? I mean, they must all be watching very closely.

MAYORKAS: I'm sure they are. The world watches the United States, because the United States is a leader. My counterpart is very focused on some of

the challenges that we share. And one of them is fentanyl, the scourge of fentanyl. That is not exclusive to the United States, but is predominant in

the United States. We want to tackle that challenge and we want to tackle it together.

The president, our President Biden, met with President Xi and really opened up the aperture of a dialogue between the United States and China, and

other cabinet members have brought their respective portfolios to the table with their Chinese counterparts and I am doing the same.

AMANPOUR: And given that this is an election year, not just in the United States, but in many, many countries around the world, do you think that

there can be any progress made on the U.S immigration front or not? Or is it going to wait until after the election?

MAYORKAS: I am an unrelenting optimist, especially when one confronts a legislative imperative. A bipartisan group of senators reached an

agreement. I am hoping that that crosses the finish line. And if not, in its current form, that modifications are made that don't cause disrepair to

really the fundamental principles of it, which is to make that asylum system more workable to meet the dynamics of today.

AMANPOUR: Do you have a personal reaction to what happened in Congress last week being impeached?

MAYORKAS: I will say this Christiane, I don't let it distract me from the work. Would I have preferred that correctness had prevailed? Of course so.

The fact that it did not, does not slow me down in doing the work that I'm tasked to do by the president of the United States.

AMANPOUR: I don't know whether you want to or can answer this, but, you know, a huge amount of focus on President Biden's age, and I just want to

know what you think about that given what's at stake, essentially, and are you sure and confident that, let's say, I don't know, Congress hauls in the

special prosecutor and he, you know, is able to sort of talk more in detail about his questioning of President Biden?


MAYORKAS: Two responses. One, the attention is misplaced. I've interacted with the president countless times. I've said publicly, the most difficult

part about a meeting with President Biden is preparing for it because he's probing, exacting, and quite detail-oriented and focused, number one.

Number two, I was a federal prosecutor for 12 years. And so, the responsibility of a prosecutor, including a special counsel, is to learn

the facts, determine the facts, and apply the law to those facts. That was done, and the conclusion is that no case was there. And therefore, the case

is closed.

To make gratuitous personal remarks is inappropriate and is a deviation from the Department of Justice norms. To add the fact that those gratuitous

personal remarks were terribly inaccurate only makes it more inappropriate.

AMANPOUR: Interesting you say that because even the former Republican speaker of the House said, no, no, no, the president is super sharp. That

was Kevin McCarthy.

MARTIN: Oh, I've been before the president. And the sharpness of the questioning and the probing into the details is something I know very well.

AMANPOUR: Really interesting. Alejandro Mayorkas, thank you so much.

MARTIN: Thank you, Christiane.


AMANPOUR: Next, we want to hear from the late Alexei Navalny. Back in December 2020, I spoke to him from Germany where he was treated after being

poisoned with a nerve agent. A Bellingcat CNN investigation exposed an FSB assassin team had trailed him for more than three years. But even with this

knowledge, Navalny decided to go back to Russia to continue his pro- democracy, anti-corruption work. This conversation was just a month before he returned home and one of his last ever TV interviews.


AMANPOUR: You want to go back to Russia, you know that this situation hasn't been -- you know, there's no criminal investigation, there's no

acceptance that obviously they deny, certainly Putin denies that any such thing happened. Why do you want to go back? And I guess, do you think

you'll be safe when you go back?

ALEXEI NAVALNY, RUSSIAN OPPOSITION LEADER: Well, I don't think that I can have such a privilege being safe in Russia. But I have to go back because I

don't want these, you know, groups of killers exist in Russia. I don't want Putin be ruling of Russia. I don't him being president. I don't want him

being czar of Russia because, well, he's killing people. He's the reason why our -- the whole country is degrading. He's a reason why. People are so


We have 25 million people living below the poverty line and the whole degradation of system, unfortunately for me, including system of

assassination of people. He's the reason of that. And, I want to go back and try to change it.

AMANPOUR: You know, the Wall Street Journal has said in the past that the man Vladimir Putin fears most is Alexei Navalny. And he doesn't talk about

you. He doesn't say your name. How much longer do you think that they can keep this up?

Because it -- you know, even before the report came out yesterday at CNN and Bellingcat, you had the German authorities who immediately investigated

from the elements that were taken from your hotel to Germany with you in that plane. And they said that it was, you know, highly possible and

probable that it was, you know, Kremlin orchestrated, or at least by the intelligence services there.

NAVALNY: Well, what do you expect from him? His confession, his public confession, like in the movies, like, guys, I did it. I'm very sorry. I

would never do it again. Definitely, I'm not the first one and unfortunately, I will be not the last one who was poisoned or killed

because they are practicing it. Putin consider this opportunity to murder people as a his -- as a sort of, you know, soft power. And the situation

where they are keeping silenced right now, it's kind of speaking very well about what's going on, because even Putin's press secretary, he canceled

his daily briefings because they have nothing to say so far.

Right now, they are developing their own story. And I think Putin tomorrow, maybe in a couple of days, will he will publicly say something about it.

Also, of course, try not to mention my name, but it's a failure. It's his personal failure. That's why it's so painful for him. And they will

continue to deny despite the all evidence against them. Because --

AMANPOUR: So, I wonder if --

NAVALNY: -- if they don't have other chances.

AMANPOUR: I wonder if you hope that this really public reporting now that is, you know, trying to connect the dots and has done to an extent, will

lead to further international reaction.


Of course, we know that the E.U. in August, when you were first poisoned, put sanctions on key members of the FSB and wonder what you hope that --

because the U.S. didn't, and I wonder what you hope a Biden administration will do.

President-elect Biden has said the mode of attack leaves no doubt as to where the responsibility lies the Russian State. As President, I will do

what Donald Trump refuses to do, work with our allies and partners to hold the Putin regime accountable for its crimes. What do you think needs to be


NAVALNY: Well, first of all, I need very clear message from the president of United States, not just me. I think it's not about me, it's about using

chemical weapons against civilians for killing political opponents. And the -- honestly, a reaction from Donald Trump was very disappointing because

the only thought -- only word he said it was, let's talk about this later. And I think it's actually not enough because this later never came.

And I think the president of United States should say something very clear, and his message was supposed to be very clear about that it is absolutely

impossible and non-affordable for the whole world to have someone who's using chemical weapons and developing chemical weapon and using it to -- in

such, you know, reckless and very dangerous way.

Because, well, if you are -- if you stand on this way killing people, it's very difficult to get away because it's very powerful tool and very

seductive tool. And, I think this situation with me will continue with their following investigation and we'll see that, actually, quite a lot

people were killed in Russia and maybe abroad in this way.

AMANPOUR: So, let me ask about, you know, the changes you want to see in Russia and the -- I think you're looking at 2024 as the next, election. And

President Putin has managed to extend his mandate beyond 2024.

I'm just wondering what plan do you have to be any more successful than you've been already? I mean, they just blank you out. They don't let -- you

know, they don't give you access to a level playing field in elections. You're one of the leading anti-corruption campaigners. You're very visible

on social media and all over the place inside Russia, but they don't allow you to have a -- you know, a normal opposition role. How do you think the

2024 election is going to play out?

NAVALNY: Well, you are correct. I am -- I cannot participate in the 2024 election because I'm banned from participating. And this is a strategy

which Kremlin and Putin they applying. And so, they just banning people from participating.

But still -- well, election is not a tool. It's not only -- the only political tool because we do everything. We do rallies and we are making

investigations. And so, I'm going to back go -- back to Russia and I think our role in the forthcoming Gosduma election, our parliamentary election,

would be significant, and we are -- significant. And we are ready to have a fight with the ruling party, United Russia. And we have our special

strategy named smart voting. So, we are going to use so-called system political parties to fight ruling party, United Russia.

So -- well, anyway, you know, despite the -- it's all the time a kind of game of catch me if you can, they are inventing more and more tools to

oppress us. It's our country. We have a million people who are supporting the idea of European way of development of country. We have millions of

people who are very -- tens of millions of people who are very unhappy and angry with Putin and these people exists.

So, despite they are kind of pushed out of their legal political field, they still exist and we will use their energy and their passion and their

power to fight this regime.


AMANPOUR: So spooky to hear Alexei Navalny three years ago call for accountability and talk about those elections that are happening next

month. And Putin now has absolutely no domestic opposition.

And finally, tonight, Russia's agony that is being inflicted on Ukraine was recognized at the BAFTA Awards in London last night.


As "20 days in Mariupol" won for best documentary where journalist, Mstyslav Chernov, and his small team risked their lives to stay and report

from that besieged city.


MSTYSLAV CHERNOV, DIRECTOR, "20 DAYS IN MARIUPOL": Story of Mariupol is a symbol of everything that happened and a symbol of struggle, a symbol of

faith. And thank you for empowering our voice. Let's just keep fighting. Thank you.


AMANPOUR: And when I spoke to him a few months ago, he explained the crucial importance of staying with the story and documenting the people's



CHERNOV: If we don't report everything as it is, if we don't show to people across the world, to our viewers, to our audience, the reality of war, it

becomes acceptable. We -- it's a big danger not exposing the war for all, brutality, for all is absurd. And if it's polished, if it's sanitized, then

it's acceptable, and that's -- that shouldn't be the case.


AMANPOUR: A vital reminder of the power of journalism and of bearing witness. And that is it for now. Thank you for watching, and goodbye from

Ukraine. We'll be here all week.