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First Move with Julia Chatterley
Lavrov Addresses Russian Security Council; Lavrov Confirms Meeting with Blinken Set for Feb 24 in Geneva; Putin: Russia has Tried to Resolve the Situation in a Peaceful Way; Russian Defense Minister Accuses Ukraine of Stepping up Shelling of Breakaway Regions; Russia Security Council Meets Amid Ukraine Crisis; Kozak: Kyiv Doesn't Want to Implement Minsk Agreement. Aired 9-10a ET
Aired February 21, 2022 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT: --subject to aggression but since nobody is recognizing the will of Crimean's that Crimea is not Ukraine. We are
facing a real threat that the Ukraine will try to fight for the territory that they believe is their own in the military way, and they are stating
this in their own documents.
So this is clear. And then in that event the entire North Atlantic Treaty Organization will have to join these developments. We are being told and
you know that some NATO countries oppose Ukraine's membership of the alliance. Nevertheless, the opposition in 1998 in Bucharest a memorandum
was signed, opening the door to Ukraine and Georgia to join NATO in 2008. Why did they do that under the pressure from the United States?
Well, if they made one step onto the pressure rule, then there is no guarantee they won't make another guarantee. There are no such guarantees.
There are no such guarantees, in principle, because the United States very easily renounced any sort of agreements, any sorts of treaties that they
sign. But at least something has to be issued on paper and recorded as an international legal. But we now can't agree even on that.
So I suggest we work in this way. At first, I would like to give the floor to Sergey Lavrov is working on attempt to negotiate with Washington and
Brussels that is NATO on security guarantees, and then I will ask Dmitry Kozak. I ask him to come over here. He's here to report on his assessment
of what's going on with the negotiations track on the Minsk settlement and implementation.
Then I will ask each of you to speak but at the end, we must decide what we are going to do and what our actions should be based on the situation that
has developed today and based on our assessment of the situation, Sergei Lavrov.
SERGEY LAVROV, RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: Dear Mr. Putin, dear colleagues, as I told the President a week ago, we have prepared an evaluation of the
proposals on that you that Russia put forward to U.S., the NATO and the response that we received.
This response shows that our western countries are not prepared to accept our central proposals as regards the non-expansion of NATO to the east.
This demand has been rejected, citing the so called Open Door Policy, and the freedom of countries to choose their means of security, ensuring
Nothing was proposed on this matter, either from Washington or Brussels. The principle of indivisible security that we cited extensively; has been
ignored by the United States and they selected just one element of it, freedom of alliances, they have completely ignored everything else,
including the key requirement, which says nobody in choosing alliance, this should strengthen their security at the expense of the security of others.
And in this connection, at the end of December, I wrote to all our Western colleagues in Europe, and Switzerland, and I showed our legal analysis of
the commitments undertaken on the OSCE at the top level in 1999, and 2010, and also as part of the Russia NATO Founding Act of 1997 and the Rome
Declaration, which was adopted at the Russian NATO Council.
Our second priority concerns that period when we developed a relationship with NATO and then in 97 and we suggested that those agreements include a
declaration that Russia and NATO are no longer enemies. And it was expressed that they aim to develop a strategic partnership. So we suggested
that NATO on its eastern flank turns to the 1997 position.
LAVROV: This argument was also rejected just as the first one and we were immediately urged in the NATO Response to seize occupation of Crimea
withdraw troops from Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. As regards Ukraine these documents express support for the Minsk range of measures, but in a very
sterile manner, without any willingness to force Kyiv to implement this important agreement.
And in response to our other demands, including the need to rule out deployment of threatening weapons, the Americans expressed their readiness
to start discussing the intermediate range, ground based weapons. This problem emerged after the U.S. unilaterally withdrew from its treaty with
the Russian Federation and ignored your Mr. Putin's initiatives two years ago to replace it, with a mutual moratorium on deploying such weapons with
the appropriate verification measures.
Among the proposals from U.S. and NATO was some work on reducing military risks, increasing transparency and predictability. They are close to our
proposals, which we have put forward a number of times in recent years, both to the U.S. and NATO.
However, these topics are taken out of the context of the package of security guarantees and as part of bilateral steps. They also talk about
regulating strategic fighter jets, flights and regulating the movement of warships and the transparency of spot checks in resuming contacts between
the military creating a civilian hotline, and discussing a mechanism of preventing dangerous incidents.
And our overall impression is that our colleagues are trying to dilute the Russian proposals and select certain second rates, although important
aspects, which would make dialogue which will be conducive to dialogue, but they do not touch upon the essential interests of NATO expansion and the
configuration of forces on the NATO in the NATO region.
And this is directly concerning the topic that the president mentioned is the start of a dialogue is based is subject to our own steps to de-escalate
the situation around Ukraine. To sum up these responses, we must state that there is some progress is not significant, but there is progress and our
consistent and principled approach.
By putting forward our initiatives in December, has shaken up the U.S. and their allies, and made them to adopt many of the Russian proposals for
further work that we put forward in the arms control area. And as I told you, Mr. Putin, we, as I said, we should continue this work.
We put forward detailed response to the documents we received from Washington and Brussels. So far, we only send our response to the U.S.
because the NATO topic is secondary to that because, of course, NATO will determine their steps primarily or maybe even exclusively, depending on the
position of Washington.
And at the recent Munich Security Conference every member of the West declared utter loyalty to the united position developed in the U.S. So
Munich simply confirmed that we need to talk to Washington, and that is what we're doing, having sent the response which you approved to the U.S.
documents. In this document, we stressed that our proposals are not a menu from which you can choose.
LAVROV: And they're not an ultimatum. They're based on an obvious thing that the situation in the world can be resolved in a comprehensive manner.
As you said, Mr. Putin the Ukrainian crisis depends to a large extent to the relationship between the Russian - on the relationship between the
Russian Federation and the West led by the United States.
And therefore, in our response, we stressed the comprehensive nature of the Russian initiative, and we're ready to discuss the issues that the
Americans have suddenly remembered and thought of thanks to our previous ideas.
But we shall do so while also demanding a response to the main issue that concerns us a stop to NATO expansion to the east, and review of NATO's
presence on the European Continent, primarily in Eastern Europe based on what was agreed between Russia and NATO.
And our appeal or rather demands to for an explanation why the assurances signed at the top level, that nobody shall strengthen their security at the
expense of others, they're not only ignored by our colleagues. This, we get no such explanation. They refuse to explain what they meant when their
leaders sign these documents and why.
Now, regardless of what they meant, they are not going to fulfill their commitments at your instruction Mr. Putin, we sent these documents to
Washington. I received a phone call from U.S. Secretary of State Blinken, who said that he read our document, and he is ready to meet, to discuss and
to set out the American position and also to ask additional questions with your agreement.
This meeting has been planned for the 24th of February in Geneva. And we shall be led by the position that you approved and that you stand for in
the contacts of you within your contacts with your counterparts and which we at the Foreign Ministry will be pushing for.
One moment, well, I was talking to my counterparts both to the American one who assured me that Ukraine is not going to be admitted tomorrow. And there
may even be some kind of moratorium. But they believe Ukraine is not ready today. So my response was, well, that's not a session. That's just a
fulfillment of your plan.
You believe you need to wait and prepare Ukraine to enter NATO. So that's the moratorium, but it's not a moratorium for us. That's a moratorium for
you. So where are you meeting us halfway? We don't see that. Yesterday, I had two conversations with the President of France, and even until 2 am.
And he assured me that the American position has had certain changes. But when I asked what they were, he couldn't answer. So I believe we first need
to understand what these changes are, if there are any, because your colleague, on the contrary, publicly even yesterday said that no
concessions on the matters of principle concerning the expansion of NATO and the possible admission of other members, including Ukraine are not
there. There will be no concessions.
Well Mr. Putin despite many media reports in the west of the so called secret documents that were discussed between the west with us and between
themselves in the 90s. And since then, there is clear what is clear is there was an inner narrow circle there was no intention to expand to the
But despite that, Mr. Stoltenberg is now the NATO Secretary General rejects the obvious fact which has been declassified from the British archives and
published in --. And despite all that, they insist on the inadmissibility of even softening the open door policy although you have explained many
times that there is no such policy.
LAVROV: But there is the possibility under the Washington Treaty with the agreement of all NATO members to offer this or that country joins the
alliance less than two terms, if it suits the criteria meets the membership criteria, and it adds to the security of the NATO alliance.
And the second criteria have been ignored for a long time. We know that. But what else for what new ideas the Americans can present to us? We
proceed from what you told Macron that we first need to understand what they mean. And since our French colleagues are giving us the information
that they do have some understanding of what Washington can talk to us about.
Today as you agreed with President Macron yesterday, I have a telephone conversation with the French Foreign Minister. And when we were agreeing a
time for the conversation, I asked the Foreign Ministry of France to make sure that this conversation clarifies what specifically, the Americans are
ready to discuss as the French have hinted.
PUTIN: I see. Thank you. Please sit down. Thank you. So now we will hear from Dmitry Kozak. And I asked him to review what has happened on the Minsk
settlement track, shall we call it that and after that, I would ask other members of the Security Council to speak starting with the actual situation
developing in the People's Republic of Donbas. Mr. Kozak?
DMITRY KOZAK, DEPUTY CHIEF OF STAFF, PRESIDENTIAL EXECUTIVE OFFICER: Mr. Putin and colleagues, I shall not bore you with the detail of these
insanely complicated discussions on negotiations until the Minsk Settlement.
PUTIN: Please speak louder.
KOZAK: It is obvious that neither Ukraine nor its Western allies, need Donbas at all on any terms, everything is done to freeze the conflict and
to shove it towards the Russian Federation in their minds in the public mind and the public opinion that have already placed the blame on the
They've already regarding it as the Russian Ukrainian conflict and they are holding Russia responsible for keeping up keeping Donbas and you know what
astronomical sums of money we have to spend on the humanitarian support for these territories.
I must say what is happening there and we have some new statistics from there. We may not be always consistent, because in Donbas today, we are -
just before the conflict, we've had a sharp increase in economic activity jobs and a drop in unemployment.
And job openings are twice the number of unemployed and so that has been boosted by a ratio of Russian passports. And so that's just to note, with
regard to Ukraine, it is absolutely obvious that Donbas is not needed by Ukraine or the West they need to freeze this conflict on any in response to
any hypothetical question of how they regard returning Donbas under the control even hypothetical evokes super they simply dropped their gaze as
Well, I don't think I need to explain the reasons the political and economic reasons. You know tell us how the negotiations are developing on
the Minsk agreements. What States is that then? It is zero points of 2015 in line with the Minsk complex of measures.
The dialogue on the future status of Donbas in the post conflict Ukraine should have started immediately after the withdrawal of heavy weaponry. The
withdrawal rule of heavy weaponry was officially completed on the Eighth of March 2015.
KOZAK: And on the 9th of March this dialogue should have begun by the end of 2015. There should have been amendments to the constitution made
effective as part of his dialogue and legislation on a special status for these regions, followed by local elections, and the end of the conflict and
the handover of the border to Ukraine.
That's what should have happened. This dialogue never started. Ukraine is keeping very - keeping it in secret what their view of the Donbas status
is? It is clear from the recent negotiations that it sees them as ordinary municipal districts of Ukraine with ordinary municipal rights without any
They have convinced the Ukrainian public opinion that the Minsk Agreements as part as far as this is concerned, are irrelevant. And that that would
create a precedent that if any territory holds special status, with its own language and its own police force, and its own influence on the law
enforcement system, that this precedent would spread to other regions of Ukraine, where there is such a demand particularly in Western Ukraine, for
federalization, or the autonomy of certain areas of Ukraine.
They have convinced the whole of Ukraine that that this is what it is, and they will never agree. At the Minsk in the negotiations room, they whisper
about their commitment to Minsk. But outside the negotiating room, they say publicly that the Minsk Agreements are a millstone around their neck that
they are unnecessary, and they stand in the way of a settlement.
PUTIN: Well, I spoke yesterday with my French counterpart, as I said, and he says that the current leadership of Ukraine is prepared to implement the
Minsk Agreements, and moreover, is putting forward some constructive new ideas in terms of their implementation and the elections following the
stained German President's formula.
KOZAK: Well, I will say again, that in the eight years, and sometimes we find ourselves in a really silly situation where they are openly lying
about the Minsk Agreements, and the documents that have been presented to the contact group, they have something written there in black and they're
saying, no, it's white.
Well, I mean, have we written it in milk? That is the 17th of September last year; Russia is a party to the conflict. OK, write this down. Russia
is a part of the conflict. So what are Russians commitments as a party?
We don't know. I asked Ukraine, you think Ukraine you think Russia is an aggressor? Can you form formulate help your French and German colleagues?
We prefer them to do it. So the French and German colleagues, they will maybe Russia can write down its own commitments?
Well, next question. Let's make it easier for you. What are they refusing what is Donbas refusing to implement because Donbas have been very
proactive. And they have a lot of proposals on the Minsk Agreements.
PUTIN: We don't know. We don't know what they're not implementing. We can't formulate it, you do it. So they don't know.
KOZAK: What's done past is not implementing under Minsk Agreements. Of course, they don't have a view on any of the issues. They don't know what
commitments Russia should have.
PUTIN: What Donbas should implement or what they're not implementing? So as regards points 9, 11 and 12, it says there, that decisions should be made
in a dialogue with in consultation and discussion with these Republic's.
KOZAK: Yes, well, despite what it says and everybody knows now, I think we need to get an English dictionary to explain it. They don't think these
calls for a direct dialogue between Ukraine where they don't think consultations mean a direct dialogue between Ukraine and Donbas on the
PUTIN: So what is written there about consultation and dialogue they don't think this is a direct dialogue.
KOZAK: Yes, Macron told you yesterday that this dialogue should be exclusively as under the OSCE supervision and the Trilateral Contact Group.
Well, it is always happening. And this is an artificial problem. The problem isn't there.
All the proposals from Donbas are presented to the contact group are presented through OSCE. And everybody's trying to discuss them the
Ukrainian representative, whenever Donbas representatives speak, turns their head and doesn't want to hear.
When we asked them to respond they said if Russia asks us we will, when Russia does ask, when are you going to amend the Constitution? That was two
years ago in Berlin, they say. So we asked them, when are they going to change the constitution under the Minsk Agreement?
Well, they started hysteria saying Russia is interfering with Ukraine demanding changes to the Constitution. This is the sovereign right of
Ukraine, and nobody should interfere.
PUTIN: So do we understand you directly? Do we understand you correctly? Kyiv authorities refused to talk directly to the Republic's. And they're
going to do this in dialogue with Russia. But as soon as Russia proposes steps to settle towards a settlement under the Minsk Agreements, they are
getting hysterical and saying that Russia interferes with the internal affairs of Ukraine.
KOZAK: Yes, absolutely. Absolutely that's what they want. They want Russia to respond and to propose political terms, and then they accused us of
PUTIN: So what's about the idea that they should be understood the Minsk Agreements should be understood in a way that the initiative should come
not from the Republic's but from the key of authorities that they should be proposing something on the implementation of the Minsk range of measures?
KOZAK: Well, that yet are not the latest proposal that came up on the 10th of February in Berlin, from the series of legalities, the legislation
Ukraine's idea that legislative initiatives should only come from Ukraine.
But OK, but what about amendments to these initiatives? Have you discussed with Macron? Ukraine's idiotic idea that if Donetsk proposes an
alternative, what do them does? Well, they just dropped their eyes. This is their latest tactic. They're very inventive. They're presenting themselves.
They're making it up as they go along.
So they're presenting this scheme, that Ukrainian proposals, as regards changes to the Ukrainian constitution cannot be discussed by anyone because
it's the sovereign right. If Russia discusses them, that's interference. If Donbas discusses them, they're separatists who have no right to do so.
PUTIN: So this position was put forward by Ukraine, and it was unexpectedly supported yesterday by France. So the key idea of the Minsk Agreements that
all these changes, amendments to the Constitution should be agreed with the Donetsk and Luhansk Republic that's being ignored.
KOZAK: Yes, it's being ignored and some schemes are being invented. Well, as I said, they are from the series of legal idiocy. Let's drop something
into the contact group. We're not going to talk to anyone we don't hear Donbas, if Russia proposes something; we will see how, what the response is
ad then the OSCE must tell us that it is part of this black box of the Trilateral Contact Group that this has been agreed.
PUTIN: Well, this has some kind of artificial position. Well, my final question on this is, tell me and our colleagues your opinion will the Kyiv
authorities implement the Minsk Agreements or not?
KOZAK: With normal - under normal development, no, they will never implement them. It is very obvious that they don't want to neither with
Minsk no without Minsk they do not want to return Donbas to Ukraine.
KOZAK: Mr. Putin shall I just wanted to answer the question about whether to join Donbas to Russia or not, how should we use this in negotiations
with the West because it is a serious problem.
PUTIN: Well, let's just stick to the subject of your intervention. On the progress of the negotiations on the Minsk Agreements, and your evaluation
of the prospects, as we understood and your opinion, there are no prospects.
Nevertheless, well, the suppose prospects of this these negotiations under the Minsk agreements. So now, I would like to ask the Federal Security
Service Director, Mr. Patrushev, to report what is happening on the border and how to look under crossings of refugees into our territory and
situation on the border?
NIKOLAI PATRUSHEV, FEDERAL SECURITY SERVICE DIRECTOR: Mr. Putin, we see the situation degrading in the two Republic, Donetsk and Lugansk People's
Republic. There's an increasing number of frequency of shelling, which is a danger to the lives of the civilian population.
And taking this circumstance into account there is an increased number of refugees fleeing towards Russia. And as of nine o'clock today 685,000
civilians came into the Russian territory according to our border guards, from Donetsk and Lugansk. And we are in touch with the regional authorities
working with the refugees.
We also see that as the result of the shelling by Ukrainians with the intensification of shelling of the republics by the Ukrainian army, there
are incidents when shells reached the Russian territory, including Rostov region. And taking this into account we and the investigative committee
have started an investigation.
And last night two groups of military saboteurs from Ukraine crossed the border from Lugansk and from Mariupol. And as a result of clash, our border
guards eliminated these two groups of saboteurs. One of the servicemen has been captured and taken prisoner, so we need to work with him.
Immediately on the border from our side, the situation is stable, and we're monitoring it. We have increased - we have provided military support and
we're working with the Minister of Defense on this.
PUTIN: Thank you. I know the Ministry of Defense is monitoring the situation in the conflict area. Mr. Shoigu your assessment?
SERGEY SHOIGU, RUSSIAN DEFENSE MINISTER: Mr. Putin and colleagues speaking of evaluations on what is going on, on the 19th, 20th February, there have
been more than 107 shelling by heavy weaponry, mortars, and as a result of the actions by groups of saboteurs and the artillery the City of Donetsk
has no water.
90 percent of the populations have no water as regards Lugansk two thirds have no gas. Practically everyone living in the contact along the line of
contact has had to evacuate.
SHOIGU: And small number of people who have to stay and work on the ground because there are some critical enterprises. Unfortunately, they are
suffering and at the bus stop today, a shell exploded and killed a minor.
Over the last 24 hours, or rather overnight, the total number of shillings in every direction was 40. And that is in our opinion, as we see it, and
according to specialist reports, this follows the pre prepared scenario. This is not a spontaneous fire. This is targeted fire and they know what
And in this connection, I wanted to give you a brief report about the concentration of Ukrainian troops on the Lugansk and Donetsk borders. 59
thousand surpluses troops are amassed on the borders of Donetsk and Lugansk as the result of your negotiations and very long and protracted
negotiations on security measures, the trips and especially armor had to be withdrawn from the line of contact.
So that we couldn't shoot into civilians, but we are seeing the opposite, we're seeing this armor returning to the previous position. So we have
59,300 troops, or in terms of weapons. We have --launchers, 345 tanks, over 2000 armored vehicles 820, guns, mortars, and also rocket launchers
including - and I can't not mention that.
This includes nationalist battalions that have been mentioned a lot in the press. And according to our reports, they are not - they're poorly
controlled by the country's leadership and the local command.
So based on that they act as they see fit and hence the groups of saboteurs that we see in various places. And hence the various terrorist acts, the
car bombs and explosions on power lines, the explosions that gas stations and so on.
Apart from Donetsk and Lugansk, I wanted to draw your attention to the statement of Mr. Zelensky, who said that they would like to return the
status of a nuclear country. I'm not going to say a nuclear state but a nuclear power. I'm going to say a nuclear country. This is dangerous on
Firstly, in many years of Soviet power and being part of the Soviet Union, they have the capabilities to produce such weapons, not only weapons, but
also launchers. And I also want to say the tactical nuclear weapons are in Germany and may appear here.
Using the launchers the carriers that Ukraine has I mentioned - and so they have the equipment and they have the technology and the specialists who can
and are equipped with much more than Iran, or North Korea.
They have much more potential, something that everybody's talking about and trying to get these countries to denuclearize. And to add to this, we have
these nationalist battalions across Ukraine. And I don't think it is a secret that they largely are in control of the situation that we see
appearing in this or that part of Ukraine.
I mean everything to do with the extreme radical views and nationalist views extreme radical calls regarding Donetsk and Lugansk and Crimea.
SHOIGU: And of course, our own country. On the whole, the situation is very tense. We can see as of the 14th of February we have been observing and the
active phase of efforts to reach the highest level of alert. And that means that either a very serious provocation is being prepared or a violent
scenario for Donbas.
And that means redeployment of heavy artillery, chain changing frequencies, radio frequencies, and of course, we understand that this has everything to
do with the shelling. We have not seen this in a long time. And we are very close to the level of 2014, 15. Thank you.
PUTIN: Thank you. OK. So, dear colleagues as regards to the negotiations process, for the settlement in Donbas, I think we understand the situation
as of today. It has been described in detail also by the Director of the Federal Security Service and the Defense Minister.
We need to answer the question that has been put to us in a long, long time ago and has been raised in the appeal of the state - to the head of state.
That is the question of recognizing Donetsk, People's Republic and Lugansk People's Republic.
We can see the blackmail and threats from our Western colleagues. And we see why they're doing that. But we also see the situation. Mr. Medvedev?
DMITRY MEDEVDEV, DEPARTMENT CHAIRMAN, RUSSIAN SECURITY COUNCIL: Mr. Putin and colleagues, as Mr. Putin and speakers have described the situation that
has developed as regards the protecting the security of our country, and I mean, the attempts of the NATO and the U.S. to finally record the map of
the world to their benefit, and advance themselves to our borders and to get our backs against the wall.
And these are the red lines that the head of states spoke about at various forums and during various meetings. As regards the situation that has
developed around Donetsk People's Republic and Lugansk People's Republic, it is blatantly obvious in my view anyway, and this is confirmed by our
colleagues that these territories.
Ukraine does need them in principle. This is some kind of a pawn; it's the pawn being played in a game for Ukraine status. And the residents of these
territories have not been getting any support from the Ukrainian government for a long time. To the contrary, they are victims of reprisals in the form
of shelling and the deprivation of their human rights.
And there in its totality, what is happening is that the range, we can conclude that the range of many measures on the Minsk Agreements is not
going to be implemented. And moreover, even answer the pressure from foreign countries such as France, Germany; it is very likely that the
current regime in Ukraine and the current president does not need this implementation, because it will stand in his way of getting reelected.
And that's what he wants, most of all, so it is not in his interest to follow the agreements that were reached, and Mr. Putin has spoken about
this when he and his secretary on both the Zelensky and his defense secretary of defense and security say that these are harmful agreements.
MEDEVDEV: And then they're trying to pull the wool over the eyes of our Western colleagues when they get his ritual assurances in favor of the
implementation of these agreements. We face a difficult dilemma to do with the recognition of these two territories which are ready to seek such
recognition and have made an appeal to us, as well as our parliament has, which has adopted such a resolution. I remember 2014 and very well, and I
can speak from experience.
JULIA CHATTERLEY, CNN HOST, THE MOVE: We will leave it Dmitry Medvedev speaking there. What you were just watching for nearly an hour was a
clearly very staged, structured press conference where we heard from President Vladimir Putin we heard from the Head of the FSB, which is the
Security Service Agency, the Deputy CIO sorry, the Deputy Chief of Staff, Philip Vladimir Putin as well, my apologies.
And what began as a history lesson where Vladimir Putin talked about the Russian perspective on the so called coup that took place in 2014 that saw
the Former President - removed he was a pro Kremlin leader and seen by that around the world.
He then talked about citizens in in Ukraine not accepting that he pointed to Crimea. He pointed to the breakaway regions of Donbas and Donetsk and he
then retreated as a pretext or a context for the invasion in 2014. He talked about Ukraine being used as a tool of conflict by the West.
Then he spoke about NATO and the fact that Ukraine joining Russia would be considered multiplication of the threat against Russia. He was then posed a
question and asked about what the Minsk Agreement looked like and the Deputy Chief of Staff to Dmitry Kozak described it as being in a state of
He asked a pointed question and said, will this ever be agreed to will the peace deal ever be adhered to and the response was never. These break
regions don't want to return to Ukraine. He talked about the breakaway regions asking for their independence to be recognized. And he said that's
what now they are considering. Sam Kiley is in Kharkiv, Ukraine, Fred Pleitgen is in Moscow and John Harwood is in Washington for us.
Sam, I want to come to you first. And to talk specifically about the history lesson, the mention of the separatists, the breakaway regions, and
the fact that they are now considering the request from the two leaders of these regions for independence.
SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, a request that was repeated in television address today from the leaders of both of these
breakaway republics. Now, these Republics have frequently kind of raised the issue or hope that they might in some way be recognized an independent
state is something that the state's plural.
It's something that the Russian Duma has considered. Amidst this, as you rightly point out, Julia very staged a process of discussion with his
National Security Council, Putin is trying to lay out not only the history, but the justification for what may come next now that still ongoing, he's
unlikely to reach any public decision.
And notably, not over I suspect, the future dispensation for those too called so called breakaway republics. But they are pointing out his defense
minister there Shoigu, pointing out that, in his view, there was an increase in the number of attacks, there have been 59,000 Ukrainian troops
gathered on the line of contact, which is essentially the front line between the two sides.
Huge number of tanks he referred to, and allegations that artillery has been fired from Ukrainian government territory into rebel territory, all of
the above is denied very explicitly, I have to insist that by the Ukrainian government, we have also seen precious few Ukrainian troops beyond those
are naturally expected to be holding those frontline positions.
But of course, the Ukrainians do have maneuvers going on throughout the country in preparation for what the United States, United Kingdom in
particular, has, again repeated today that they believe is an invasion that has already been ordered by Vladimir Putin.
And that even at a tactical level commanders are being warned off that they should be conducting the last checks before some kind of H hour is reached.
Now, we also have to treat that intelligence with a degree of skepticism it may indeed also be intelligence that the Russians have deliberately fed
into the Western minds.
KILEY: But in all of this in all of this theater, this grand strategy theater, what exactly is Putin's agenda? Is it really to wind back
Ukraine's attempts to join NATO? Is it really to see the architecture of European security structures wound back to 1997?
Or, more likely, frankly, is it to see Ukraine permanently destabilized so that it can't stand as a pro Western successful democracy and an example to
its neighbor, one, Russia, Julia.
CHATTERLEY: Sam, we have to be really, really careful. And I think important to reiterate the point that you were just making that this was
highly emotive, at times too. The Head of the FSB, the Federal Security Service Director cited the intensification of shelling from Russia into the
- from Ukraine into these breakaway regions.
He suggested something serious in their mind was being prepared. You've mentioned the troops that he said, were amassing around these two regions
59,300. He also talked about increased refugees as well 68,500 civilians entering Russia from these break regions, and that there was a danger to
To back to what you were saying there Sam, have we got any evidence? We don't have some we lost him. OK. Do I have Fred? Fred, were you listening
into what I was just saying now. I was just repeating what the Head of the Security Service Director was suggesting in terms of refugees 68,500
civilians coming from the breakaway regions into Russia.
He was concerned about a danger to the population the amassed troops surrounding this Donbas region and the in Russia's mind, something serious
were being prepared on the part of Ukraine here. And of course, the Ukrainians have stringently denied preparing anything. We have to be very
careful about listening into this press conference and not providing context. Fred, can you hear me?
OK. OK. I think Fred struggling to hear me, Sam, do I have you? These are the challenges of life? Fantastic no, don't worry. I was just saying to
you, and it was picking up on a point that you made. And the fact that what we heard from the FSB Chief there was highly emotive, he talked about an
intensification of the shelling from Ukraine into two of these breakaway regions.
He talked about shelling that was prepared and targeted that a bus stop was hit and a miner lost their life. He talked about 68,500 Refugees leaving by
9 am, this morning, Russia time leaving these breakaway regions moving into Russia, because they saw a danger to the population, highly emotive
statements are being made and much of which has been denied by Ukrainian officials.
KILEY: Yes, it's been denied by credit Ukrainian officials. It's also some of it been investigated by CNN. So for example, we've been able to examine
the metadata made when the two leaders of the two breakaway republics appealed for their populations to evacuate.
We discovered that those appeals were actually made two days before they were broadcast. There's also a good deal of analysis going on into some of
the allegations are outlined by the Russian side of, for example, an artillery strike on a border press post actually in Russian territory with
the allegation that the craniums fired a missile of some kind into a border post that is currently being examined.
And it looks, shall we say, fishy? There's the equally the Russians have claimed that they knocked out two armored vehicles that were part of an
attempted incursion as part of this series of sabotage efforts.
Again, the Ukrainians have flatly denied any kind of incursion into Russian territory indeed, they are saying that they are very, very limited to zero
Ukrainian artillery barrage is being fired into the Donbas region because their troops on the ground have got orders not to be provoked into the
sorts of action that could, heaven forbid if it resulted in mass casualties provide an excuse ultimately, for Russian invasion.
But remember who Vladimir Putin is talking to is him staging this for the international community is he got his National Security Council out in
public, walking them through all of these arguments? The long involved discussions about the hopelessness in the Russia in view of any future
discussions over the so called Minsk Agreements?
KILEY: Is he addressing his own people or is he more importantly addressing his own military so that they are motivated to do what they have to do if
he finally does give that order to invade?
CHATTERLEY: Great questions. John, I want you to come in here because part of the broader discussion that took place in that about future Ukrainian
NATO membership, he said, Vladimir Putin mentioned that he'd spoken to Emmanuel Macron, the French President over the weekend.
And the suggestion there was that America's position on the future of Ukrainian NATO membership may have adjusted he used the phrase certain
changes, according to the translation. But that when he asked Emmanuel Macron, what changes he was citing, they were not specified.
The backdrop, of course, to this John is a potential meet between President Biden and President Putin on the condition that no invasion takes place.
What do you make of whether or not the position perhaps has changed in light of the option, at least for the two leaders to meet?
JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I've heard nothing Julia to make me believe that the position has changed. I think Putin is playing
word games here. It has been acknowledged by the President of the United States as well as leaders of NATO, that Ukraine is not close to meeting the
conditions to become a part of NATO.
The open door policy remains that if a country wants to join, and if they can meet the requirements, NATO will have them that exists for Ukraine in
the United States and NATO have insisted they're not changing the open door policy as a real world matter of fact, they're not close to joining.
And so if Vladimir Putin wants to say that that is a moratorium on their membership, that's a term that he can apply to it. And if that is a
something that provides face saving for him, I'm sure the White House will be delighted for him to glom on to that.
But the United States has made clear for a while NATO can join if they meet the requirements, but they're not close to meeting those requirements. And
so there is some gray zone in there in which two sides could come to some sort of a combination.
The United States not saying we're not letting them in, but recognizing that that's not going to happen soon, that might be something that Putin
would want to glom on to.
CHATTERLEY: Yes, a structured and staged press conference. I think we can expect further pushback in the coming hours on much of the statements that
were made there. Sam Kiley in Ukraine for us John Harwood is in Washington both thank you so much for your context.
OK, that's it for the show more coverage of this press conference throughout the show, and programming today on CNN stay with us.