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Fareed Zakaria GPS

Zelenskyy Takes Questions After Second Anniversary of War; Interview with Radoslaw Sikorski about Ukraine War. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired February 25, 2024 - 10:00   ET



VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): This war, I want to thank you that you brought up heroes. Those real Ukrainians. And we'll definitely give our response to the aggressor, to Putin, to Russia, to his circles of sub-humans.

Thank you for your resilience. Your army, our people, people of Ukraine and we hope that you will be with us to the very end until the Ukrainian victory -- until Ukrainian victory, full stop.

We can start. Go ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER (through translator): Two hours ago Andriy Yermak said literally that on the second peace summit, something will happen that some representatives of Russian Federation will be invited. Whoever will be representing the country of aggressors and if they would like to stop the war? And come back to just a piece in your interview to FOX News, you told that we cannot trust Putin because he wouldn't give up his maniacal ideas of occupy the whole of Ukraine. So what will be the moves towards Russians bringing them to the negotiation table?

ZELENSKYY (through translator): Thank you for your questions. First of all, when it comes to summit, I think it's correct. To get stronger on the battlefields, that all depends on us, on our partners. And it's correct to get stronger diplomatically. We don't want to get any format, any formula of peace imposed on us. All our partners, all the countries who are not here and not waging the war, and I don't wish any war upon them, but it's very important that initiative should come only from Ukraine.

We've initiated during G-19 in Indonesia and today, we came to this moment of the first peace summit, which will be inauguration summit, and I hope that it will be happening in the spring this year. We cannot lose this diplomatic initiative. And this summit will take place in Switzerland. The second summit we would like to have possibly not -- maybe not in Europe. Somewhere else on a different continent. And I think that's the nearest month or weeks. We will get the information on that.

This first summit we'll work on a plan. And then technically countries will be looking to every type of crisis that this war brought in. We'll get the final document. On the example of our Great for Ukraine initiative, we're told that we don't trust Putin and we agreed upon our step and we agreed with Turkey and Guterres, secretary-general of U.N., and then our plan was passed on to the Russian side.

And it was -- we didn't care whoever was involved with this initiative. And we showed that let's work in this format, that if this doesn't work we still will be going towards the realization of this corridor with our own efforts. And it happened, for a year it was working. I'm very grateful to our partners. And after that Russia, what you saying we can't trust them, they just abandon this initiative.

But we were ready to conduct this our own grain corridor and we didn't bring down our partners. We showed that we are for that just peace. We went for this format of this grain initiative. And on our behalf, our partners saw that you can't trust Russia but Russia couldn't do anything about it. Grain went all the way. This is a positive (INAUDIBLE), and that was a very important result during the war.

Very much like the summit. When countries will be working. We'll get ready the final document, it doesn't mean that Russia will accept this document. Nobody can guarantee whoever will be in charge in Russia. We don't know. But in any case, we are saying that this document will be produced. Very much like in a format of a grain initiative. This document will be presented by members of the negotiation.


We don't have a clear format will be presented to the Russian side, will be ready for the second summit to those certain diplomatic steps towards the just peace and ending the war. We want many countries to be with us on this. We want to go forward. I don't want that after the elections in different countries in the world. And this is the year of different elections. I don't want something happening from the less democratic countries or maybe very democratic countries, some alternative initiatives, their own initiative, which will not correspond to the interests of country in the war. Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Ukraine losing this war maybe you get one ever seems enough to keep you in the fight and not to win. Is it time to make a deal with Vladimir Putin? And how concerned are you about the elections in the United States in November?

ZELENSKYY (through translator): Can we talk to a deaf person? Can we talk to a person who kills his opponents?

Do you have translation? You don't. You're good? But I don't hear. I think you are interested in not only in the question. I always take, I will wait. OK. You have translation. Thank you so much.

(Through translator): That's why the question on the deferral and diplomatic format, we'll all suggest a format on which he will agree that he lost this war and that was a mistake. A big mistake, which for him was a small mistake but for us it's a huge tragedy in the democratic world. It's a huge tragedy. That's why we should achieve justice in this question. If Ukraine will lose this war, I'm convinced no. The worst date was the 24th of February two years ago.

We don't alternative not to win. We don't -- we cannot lose. What does it mean? If we lose, we're not -- we wouldn't exist. We don't accept this finale to fight for our life. If Ukraine will lose and it would be very difficult for us if there'll be a big amount of victory, depends on you, on our partners, on the Western world. If we'll be strong enough with the weapons, we won't lose this war. We will win this war.

That's why all the steps backwards by Putin, they'll be happening by Putin. And obviously they will influence his society and that's when he'll be talking about his internal security. And if we look at his ate messages or Putin's messages, he's working with facts and numbers. And we're talking about plans for year 2030. That's somewhat he's going to do. He will see himself as a leader of Russia up until 2030, but we want to finish dealing with him quite earlier than that.

FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN ANCHOR: That was Ukraine's president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy. And this is GPS, the GLOBAL PUBLIC SQUARE. Welcome to all of you in the United States and around the world. I'm Fareed Zakaria coming to you live from New York.

I want to first bring in CNN's chief international security correspondent, Nick Paton Walsh, who is in Zaporizhzhia near the frontlines.

Nick, you are hearing what President Zelenskyy was saying, a message of defiance, commitment to continue the conflict, and just pointing out if Ukraine has the weapons, they will be able to win this war. What does it look like to you where you stand? What are people talking about closer to the frontlines?


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: Yes. I mean, important to point out, Fareed, listening to President Zelenskyy there, we've got the first initial idea or the germ seeds potentially of some sort of diplomacy potentially, or even a peace plan. Now, the details are limited at this stage, but Zelenskyy spoke of a potential summit in Switzerland in the spring and I think conceived the idea of a unilateral path towards a peaceful settlement with Russia, one I think that he seemed to outline Ukraine and their partners would propose.

And then of course he said, look, it maybe that Russia entirely rejects that document. And while I think it's important to point out that Moscow and Kyiv are very far apart in terms of what they conceive their end goals in this to be. I think it's fair to say using the stage on this extraordinary platform he has on the first day of the third year of the war to propose the possibility of a diplomatic process, even if it is one that's entirely unilateral, that's essentially Ukraine saying to Moscow, this is a proposal you could take if you wanted to stop this war.

I think that is a significant moment and it's one I think he's clear to point out if I heard him correctly during that speech that doesn't mean Ukraine stops the fight, doesn't mean necessarily that they're willing to accept a terminology or a formula from Russia. But we are now potentially looking at a moment where we'll see the battlefield progress not particularly great for Ukraine at the moment, multiple fronts here, multiple areas along the front where they're feeling pressure.

But then possibly if this Swiss summit continues in the spring, I think listening to Zelenskyy, it was unclear if they thought Russia necessarily would be in attendance or they might be invited or that's something clearly to still be worked out. But it's interesting to hear Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who has been speaking for a while about a quite Maximalist position. Essentially clearing Russia out of all of Ukraine as its 91 borders stood. Now talking about the possibility of presenting a way out of this conflict.

Now, early stages, lots of details to be hammered out, but that was the first question that he got and to me, I felt that was a departure from what we've heard in the past from Ukrainian officials. So interesting that he chooses this moment to put that forward and it comes, Fareed, at a time as you've just alluded to in your question, forgive me for not answering you directly, of great trouble for Ukraine on the frontlines.

That $60 billion from the U.S. is utterly urgent. It's, you know, since the December holdup, we've really felt morale begin to erode a little on multiple fronts. Ukrainians don't simply have the choice to give up and stop the fight because of the goals that Russia has set of essentially what they called de-Nazifying, de-militarizing the country. That means for many Ukrainians here a life of frankly fear, if not actual potential violence towards them.

And so it's a dire situation for them in terms of the aid. Before this speech, we heard multiple Ukrainian officials take the stage and outline detailed problems they were facing in terms of components getting through to Russia for their weapons, in terms of slowness of delivery. A lot moving here today, but interesting that the first real time we hear from Zelenskyy on this day, where many eyes towards him after a long succession of European and Western leaders yesterday in Kyiv, talking about the continued support for Ukraine.

But the notion, the sort of glimmer here, the possibility that some sort of diplomacy might happen in the months ahead, even if it seems it's entirely natural and something that Russia can either take or leave -- Fareed.

ZAKARIA: Thank you, Nick. I think you put it right. It's a glimmer. You know, the peace summit was already planned and Ukraine has previously made diplomatic proposals which are essentially that Russia leave all of Ukraine. Highly unlikely Russia will accept those proposals. So I think you put it exactly right. It is a glimmer. Probably no more than that.

Thank you, Nick Paton Walsh.

Next on GPS, I'm going to tell you how this kind of conflict seems to have become the new normal around the world and what we can do about it, when we come back.


ZAKARIA: Here's my take. Looking at the crisis proliferating around the world, it's clear that we are in an age of geopolitical tension that resembles the Cold War. A time of constant continual threats to international order. But this time the West is treating each of these threats as one-offs, to be dealt with separately in the hope that soon normalcy will return. But conflict is the new normal. Look around.

The war is going badly for Ukraine, which is critically outgunned and outmanned by its much larger adversary. Its key advantage, access to Western arms and money, is in peril. The U.S. Congress seems unwilling to pass legislation to send in more arms and money. The European Union is stepping in and filling parts of the gap but Europe does not have the military industrial complex to send Ukraine the level of armaments it needs to fight Russia.

Ukraine's army has held out heroically against Russia's onslaught. But as a senior European diplomat said to me recently, Ukrainians are brave and bold, but they are not supermen. They will not be able to hold on if they don't have weapons and supplies.

Putin is making sure that he can keep the war going, getting arms from North Korea and recruiting men from as far as Cuba. He continues to benefit from the fact that many of the world's major economies from China and India to Turkey and the Gulf States are trading freely with Russia. If Russia's aggression works, it tears up a norm that has largely stood for 80 years. No change of borders by force.


Meanwhile, in the Middle East, many believed when the Gaza war began that it would be short and that Prime Minister Netanyahu's government would fall. Neither is likely. The Israel Defense Forces humiliated by the surprise attack of October 7th are determined to completely eradicate Hamas from Gaza. That means months more of bombing, fighting and bulldozing.

The tensions and internal debates that Israel's actions will produce in other countries will only rise. Bibi Netanyahu is going nowhere. Most Israelis may dislike him, but they approve of his war policies. This week in a pointed rebuke to international calls to pursue a two- state solution including from the U.S. and Britain, Israel's Knesset approved a resolution declaring that it was opposed to any unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state with 99 out of 120 votes.

Bibi's coalition remember has only 64 members, so many opposition parliamentarians joined in. One less notice here that has been in the north. Israel has been striking and killing Hezbollah militants to the point that by one account, they have killed over 200 of them. This campaign will continue and might even accelerate. The IDF's goal is to weaken Hezbollah to the point that the roughly 80,000 Israelis who fled their homes in northern Israel can return.

But at some point, Hezbollah might respond forcefully, which could trigger an Israeli incursion into Lebanon, truly widening the war. And then we have the Houthis who have managed to assert themselves

through a series of pinprick strikes that, according to one consulting firm, have reduced the number of container vessels through the Suez Canal by about 72 percent since they began in December. American efforts to organize an effective coalition to keep trade flowing through the Red Sea have failed. Its efforts to respond to Houthi attacks have not stopped the Houthis.

This failure is a blow to the credibility of the United States, guaranteeing the freedom of the seas. A key component of the open global economy that's been built over two centuries first to the British Navy and then the American. And more threats to maritime underpinnings of that order are on the horizon. Russia and China have both been building up the capacity to cut undersea cables, which are now an integral part of the Cloud on which data is stored across the globe.

The U.S. can't deter a sub-state actor like the Houthis from its disruptive behavior in the Red Sea. What chance does it have against powers like China and Russia?

There are ways to address all these problems, but it requires a paradigm shift in the Western world. We are now in a high security age. That means governments have to spend significantly more on defense, and spend more efficiently. The U.S. took on the role as guarantor of the freedom of the seas in 1945 and has been master of the seas ever since. In the 1980s, it had almost 600 ships but today it has fewer than 300. Europe has lost its military industrial complex, which allowed it to produce munitions on a near constant basis.

In these new dangerous times congressional Republicans have decided to return to isolationism, hoping that they can bury their heads in the sand and the problems will somehow go away. It should be noted that contrary to popular belief, ostriches do not bury their heads in the sand to escape threats. In fact, it would lead to their asphyxiation. Maybe the birds understand something congressional Republicans don't.

Go to for a link to my column this week.

Next on GPS, it has been two years since the Russian invasion of Ukraine and two weeks since Donald Trump threatened to leave European nations exposed to Russia's aggression. I talk to Radek Sikorski, foreign minister of Poland, Ukraine's neighbor to the northwest and a frontline state that Moscow has invaded many times.



ZAKARIA: Two years ago this weekend, Russia stunned the world by invading Ukraine with a plan to seize the country in a matter of days. Ukraine can be proud of its response. As David to Russia's Goliath, it's stopped the invaders from taking Kyiv in the early days and has kept about 80 percent of its territory. But today, as I mentioned, the tide appears to be in Moscow's favor as its heavily armed troops make gains on the battlefield and U.S. aid for Kyiv dries up.

One country that has stayed fiercely loyal to Ukraine is neighboring Poland, a country that sits on NATO's eastern flank, hard up against Russian territory.

Joining me to discuss the war's future is the Polish Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski.

Welcome, Radek.


ZAKARIA: I have to ask you the question on all of our minds. What did you, as somebody who is, you know, a senior European diplomat, what did you make of that comment that Trump made, I would tell Putin do whatever you have to, to those NATO countries that are not paying what he defines as their fair share?

SIKORSKI: Well, we hope this is just the former President Trump's flamboyant style that what he meant was that he really, really wants us to spend at least 2 percent of GDP on defense and on substance he's right. Poland has been spending 2 percent for 15 years.


We've now gone on to obligatory 3 percent of GDP. In fact, we'll be spending close to 4 percent of GDP. And I'll tell you more. If needs be, if Putin really threatens us, we will double it because we will not be a Russian colony again.

ZAKARIA: But when you hear that, does it say to you, you know, Radek, that America's promise to defend Europe, it's a psychological -- you know, it's a -- if Putin is trying to figure out when he makes his moves, how likely is it that the Americans are going to come and sacrifice their soldiers for some European capital or some small European country like Estonia, or Latvia, Lithuania?

Has what Trump said already changed the dynamic in the sense of putting doubt in the minds of Europeans that America will come to its aid, and emboldening the Russians to think, yes, you know, maybe the Americans won't?

SIKORSKI: You're right. The real strength of nature is not the parchments, it's not the seals, it's not the signatures, it's not even the laws. It is the uncertainty in the minds of our adversaries. But what will happen if they attack, or rather the likelihood that the United States will come to the assistance of its allies. And this is what President Biden calls the sacred pledge.

And what we have said to these comments is that an alliance is not a contract with a neighborhood security company. You pay and therefore, you protect me. The Article Five of the Washington treaty, which established NATO, has only been invoked once so far, after 9/11 in defense of the United States. And after the appeal from the United States, we sent troops to Afghanistan. Poland sent a brigade to Ghazni, a tough province. Before that, we sent a brigade to Iraq where we were responsible for protecting 5 million Iraqis. When that mission was accomplished, we did not send an invoice to Washington. Alliances help the United States, not just the allies.

ZAKARIA: Do you feel as though Americans are losing -- losing an understanding of that reality that the -- that the world the United States had built is a win-win? It's not just Europe benefits, but the United States benefits as well.

SIKORSKI: Yes, it does. So, since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Europe has ordered $90 billion worth of American military equipment. Poland, through on a longer timescale, has ordered 50 billion. We are buying Apaches. We are buying HIMARS. We are buying Abram tanks. We are buying F-35s.

We are buying this because your equipment is good but also because we want to be in good graces with our important -- most important ally. If America's credibility were shaken, if countries, not just in Europe, also in the far-east started to think that perhaps the U.S. president can't deliver even when he wants to help your ally much of that would be lost.

ZAKARIA: Tell me about Ukraine. You know it well. You were -- before you were foreign minister, you've been privately -- as a private citizen, you actually helped the Ukrainian army, sending supplies in there. What does it look to you like on the battlefield?

SIKORSKI: The Ukrainians have fought like lions. These victories in Bakhmut, in Avdiivka have come at huge cost in material and men for Russia. The Ukrainians are now in the defense mode and they are outgunned.

I was in Kyiv in December. And I talk to my Ukrainian counterparts all the time. Around Avdiivka, they were outgunned in artillery 8-to-1. So, they're doing close quarter combat, which is why people are dying in greater numbers than they should be because of the shortage of arms. And the shortage of arms is because the supplemental hasn't yet passed.

ZAKARIA: What would you say to Mike Johnson, if you had a chance to talk to him?

SIKORSKI: I would say -- as a former speaker to a current speaker, I would say, Mr. Speaker, it is the fate of Ukraine, it is the tortured people of Ukraine that beg you. But it is also the credibility of your country that is at stake. The president of the United States in war time went to Kyiv on his historic visit, planted the standard of the United States in downtown Kyiv, saying, you are an ally, we will do whatever it takes, and for however long it takes to help you.


The word of the United States has been spoken. It needs to be followed up with action, with deliveries. ZAKARIA: Stay with us. When we come back, Polish democracy. For most of the last decade, Poland was a poster child for the backsliding of democracy. But just a few months ago, power changes hands. And this week, Warsaw presented plans to restore rule of law and other such norms. I will discuss this remarkable turnaround and the troubles in restoring democracy with the country's foreign minister Radoslaw Sikorski.



ZAKARIA: For much of the last decade, many watched Poland with alarm as the right-wing Law and Justice party took steps to control the country's courts and its media. This led the European Union to warn in 2017 of a clear risk of a serious breach of the rule

of law in Poland. But in October, Poland reversed course by electing a broad centrist coalition with Donald Tusk as prime minister.

Back with me to discuss the country's new direction and the challenges ahead is Radek Sikorski, who serves as foreign minister. So, Radek, tell us a little bit of what it was like to come back to power after this populist government had been in power, what had changed?

SIKORSKI: There was a vote, a general election in which 75 percent of the nation, unprecedent turnout, voted to end populist rule and to have a pro-European pro-democracy government, which is to say us.

ZAKARIA: Please put that in historical perspective. The vote that took place to vote communism out --

SIKORSKI: Was 64 percent.

ZAKARIA: -- 64 percent turnout.

SIKORSKI: So, people were more worried about the drift of the country in the last few years, than even under communism and there were reasons for it. You didn't mention the security services were used to target the opposition. The Pegasus anti-terrorist software was used against journalists, against opposition figures. The head of our election campaign was targeted. And there were -- there was also widespread corruption.

So, this needs to be addressed. We need to bring back the norms which is to say competitive examinations in the civil service. Fair professional, public media that tell the truth and not the arm of one- party propaganda. Judges that are free to adjudicate fairly rather than being told to go after the enemies of the ruling party and so on.

ZAKARIA: Is this -- how difficult is this? Because as I understand, competitive examinations in Polish bureaucracies were eliminated.

SIKORSKI: This was one of the first things they did. So, in my own ministry, in the foreign ministry, I have a number of unqualified people who would not have been allowed to join the diplomatic service because they don't speak the languages, for example. And, you know, some of these people, when we say, well, look, you don't meet the criteria, will then say that this is persecution. But no, we just need -- we've had a period of -- a rebellion against meritocracy. We are bringing meritocracy back.

ZAKARIA: What do you think is the key to understanding how to combat this kind -- this kind of -- you know, this kind of anti-democratic movements that say what's more important is that you're faithful to us than you are faithful to the norms? Do you -- do you need to -- I mean, I look at January 6 and wonder, should there have been, you know, kind of big congressional investigations or kind of truth and justice like investigations right after? Are you doing things like that?

SIKORSKI: Well, I won't interfere in the internal affairs of a friendly allied country. But I will say this, you need to give a lesson to a whole generation of politicians that breaking the constitution, breaking the law is not without consequences. Constitutions are only as good as the integrity of the people in key positions to uphold the rules. And when they don't uphold the rules, they need to see that it is detrimental to their careers and worse. Constitutions don't defend themselves. So, yes, you have to -- you have to renew your vows with democracy.

ZAKARIA: I knew you when you were an anti-communist agitator in your 20s. And now here you are, second time foreign minister of Poland and really one of the anchors of democracy in Europe. It has been -- it has been quite a transformation of this country.

SIKORSKI: Well, look, I learned my anti-communism because in living -- on the -- on the communist state, in a provincial town in Poland, I was able to listen to Voice of America and to learn the truth about what was going on in my own country. And we struggled for democracy against communism and we're still upholding democracy because we want Poland to be a normal regular western country with all the benefits of free enterprise, of freedom to worship.

But we live in an age in which some of our compatriots have lost faith in these ideals. You know, it's the Ukrainians who should be inspiring us because they are fighting for the right to, A, be a nation, and, B, to be a pro-western democratic nation that aspires to prosperity.


If they are willing to die for those values, we should value them too.

ZAKARIA: And all you're saying is you still want to hear the Voice of America.

SIKORSKI: That's right.

ZAKARIA: Radek Sikorski.

SIKORSKI: Thank you.

ZAKARIA: Next on GPS, El Salvador was once the most dangerous place in the world. Today, it boasts one of the lowest murder rates in the entire western hemisphere. What or who is responsible for this transformation? We'll tell you after the break.


ZAKARIA: Until recently, El Salvador was the most dangerous country on the planet, a place overrun by gangs. Today, it boasts of having a lower murder rate than the United States. This dramatic transformation is the work of Nayib Bukele, the current president who calls himself the coolest dictator in the world. Bukele was elected in 2019 and enacted a harsh crackdown on gang violence, arresting more than 70,000 people and prosecuting them in mass trials.


This approach has proven extremely effective but added a grave cost to civil liberties. Earlier this month, Bukele was reelected in a landslide and other countries have looked to emulate his model. Here to discuss is Brian Winter, editor-in-chief of "Americas Quarterly." Brian, in a nutshell, what explains Bukele's enormous popularity?

BRIAN WINTER, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, AMERICAS QUARTERLY: He has, Fareed, as you noted, overseen a dramatic not only decline in homicides in El Salvador down more than 80 percent in the last couple of years, but also declines in extortion, robberies and other crimes. Salvadorans feel like they can go out on the street again. They had lost the ability to do that in recent years.

He's also tremendously effective on social media. He speaks well. He has leaned into that title that you noted semi ironically of the world's coolest dictator. But it has all come at considerable cost.

ZAKARIA: Tell us a little bit more about him because he is a very colorful, charismatic character.

WINTER: He's 42 years old. He's a millennial. He sometimes appears in public with a backwards baseball cap, very colorful figure, speaks well. I mean, if you listen to him in interviews, he's articulate. He kind of turns things around and says, well, I'm -- people say that I'm not being democratic, but what was democratic about the lives that Salvadorans were living through before when essentially their -- the civil liberties of the majorities were restricted, not being able to go outside, not being able to live their lives in peace, not being able to open businesses without paying off the gangs and so on.

So, he has quite cleverly played on the many problems that this country had in the past. Remembering that only 10 years ago, this was a country that had a homicide rate of over 100 per 100,000 people. And if you know those figures, those are terrible numbers. It was one of the world's most violent countries.

ZAKARIA: In a sense, you know, he represents it seems to me this sense in certain places that democracy hasn't delivered, that it hasn't delivered for people. And in this case, in the most stark sense, which is the simple act of the government keeping you safe. Is it possible that other Central American countries and Latin American countries will look at this as a kind of example to be followed? WINTER: Many of them already are. In other countries around Latin America, such as Ecuador Nayib Bukele routinely shows up as being more popular, having a higher approval rating than any national politician. There have been other politicians and other places that have said that they want to follow his example.

In Argentina where Javier Milei recently took office, his security minister recently met with the security -- the justice minister of El Salvador extensively to learn things that might work in Argentina which has also faced a security challenge in relative terms in recent years.

But, you know, Fareed, all of this has made us ask questions about -- difficult questions, sometimes about the nature of democracy. Because on the one hand, those of us who consider ourselves advocates for democracy and human rights can stand on the outside very upset by these mass arrests, which at times seem arbitrary, the suspension of due process, the state of exception that has existed now in El Salvador for more than a year. But the fact is the overwhelming support for what Bukele is doing within El Salvador it cannot be ignored. This was someone who was just reelected again with a huge majority of the vote.

ZAKARIA: Tell me, how this plays into the immigration debate in the United States. What is -- you know, what does it mean and does he talk about that?

WINTER: What has happened over the last year-and-a-half or so with the security crackdown that Bukele has done, is that the rate at which migrants are leaving El Salvador has fallen by about a third. And in recent months, we've seen it has to be said, a change, it seems from the Biden administration in terms of how they handle Bukele.

They -- as recently as a year ago, we're quite publicly calling on him to respect the constitution, to respect human rights. But starting in late 2023, they seem to adopt a different posture, recognizing perhaps that immigration is the number one challenge that they face now in polls as President Biden attempts to get reelected. And the atmospherics around that relationship have now become more positive.


A State Department official was in San Salvador in October, shaking hands publicly with Bukele. We hadn't really seen that before and the rhetoric in public has changed. I'm told that in private U.S. officials are still pressing those concerns with Bukele, but there seems to have been a decision to -- you know, to work with this guy, in part because they need him on immigration and also in part because it doesn't seem like he's going anywhere.

ZAKARIA: Brian, thank you so much. That was fascinating insight into a small but important country close-by.

WINTER: Thank you, Fareed.

ZAKARIA: Before we go, I want to tell you about a new special from me that is premiering tonight right here on CNN. It is called "WHY IRAN HATES AMERICA, A FAREED ZAKARIA SPECIAL." And it's on at 08:00 p.m. eastern. In the show, we explore how the Islamic republic has become a dominant force in the turmoil in the Middle East and just why it holds so much animosity toward the United States.

Thanks to all of you for being part of my program this week. I hope to see you tonight at 08:00 p.m. and right back here next week.