tv The 11th Hour MSNBC February 23, 2022 11:00pm-12:00am PST
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including mariupol, odessa, kyiv and kharkiv. bomb shelters are being prepared, schools are closed. there is now a mass exodus out of the city of kyiv and ukrainians are desperate to flee to the west. and forming long lines on blood locked highways. according to reporters on the ground, target so far have been primarily military installations and their fields. anything ukraine can use to defend itself. ukraine's military reports that it shot down five russian planes and a helicopter. the explosions began after vladimir putin took to television before the sun rose in russia to announce, quote, a military operation in eastern ukraine. he gave a chilling speech, claiming his aim was to, quote, the not so fine de-nazify ukraine and warning the west not to interfere, warning of consequences you have never before experience in your
history. president biden spoke with ukraine's leader by phone, calling the events of the last few hours an unprovoked and unjustified attack by russian military forces. he is expected to meet with g7 leaders later today. joining me now, is nbc news correspondent erin mclaughlin, in kyiv, ukraine. erin, it has been a long morning already for you. what are you hearing right now? >> hey, katy. it's win more than two hours then when we heard the last explosion and more than an hour since we are the last siren. the situation here right now is calm, the streets are empty. people here in the capital are being urged to remain indoors if they hear an air siren they are being urged to go to the nearest bomb shelter for safety. all eyes now are on the border with belarus at the -- crossing, the intersection of belarus, ukraine and russia.
and according to an adviser of the interior but, thanks have been seeing crossing from belarus into ukraine. it is unclear whether those tanks are going but i should note that that crossing, which i was at just three and a half weeks ago, is about three and a half hours away from where i am now. it is incredibly close to the capital. it has been a source of anxiety for ukrainian officials. the fact that there are 30,000 russian troops that have been conducting military exercises with belarusian forces, those exercises concluded on the 20th of february. they had been promised that once those exercises concluded that the russian forces would leave. and the russian forces then later announced, citing the situation in donbass, that they were in fact staying and now appear to be coming across the
border and participating in this assault on ukraine. it's an extraordinarily tense situation here. and people are absolutely terrified, having been woken up this morning to any number of explosions. and locals are saying that windows were rattled. so far, no civilian structures have been targeted in those airstrikes in the early hours of the morning, so far the main targets being airfields as well as military installations that have been, according to, an adviser to the minister of interior. >> aaron, there is a population of about 44 million in ukraine. and we are looking right now at a camera -- or we were second to go -- of the capital, down on the streets. it is 9 am, so 9:04, and there are some people may look about on the square but very few people around. we've seen people in cars trying to get out of the capital, to flee west.
it's remarkable because we have been talking, you and i, for weeks now, and for weeks now that of kyiv had kind of brushed off the warnings from the west, saying that they did not really expect russia would really invade. and what a difference the past two days has made. what are you hearing from regular citizens? are they planning on staying or will we see a complete emptying out of kyiv? >> i think it's worth keeping in mind that this is a city of some 3.3 million, depending on what official you talk to. it can vary from day tonight. it would be difficult to evacuate that number of people in short order, which is why i think we are hearing from city officials right now, urging people to remain in place, to not leave their homes, only leave if they hear those air sirens. the government has long been downplaying this threat.
in an attempt to maintain economic order. they were very concerned about the economy here. they also did not want people panicking, they want people to remain calm. although, speaking to experts critical about approach, that yes, you should people too not panic until people to prepare -- that said, where ukrainians are remarkably self sufficient people. they pride themselves on that fact. that they do take care of themselves and i have made their own preparations. they do not rely on the government. any number of ukrainians have told me that in the past number of weeks, when i have been there. they are making their own preparations. many of them had been taking those intelligence assessments that were coming from the white house seriously. that were that being said, i ths fair to say that deep down, many people here did not think that this would actually happen. and i think that in listening to ukrainian military experts in the days leading up to this point, they saw the point of vulnerability, the point of
most likely escalation to be in the eastern portion, in donbass, they did not think that kyiv would be an immediate target as it is today. so i think people are shocked and there are a lot of mixed feelings here. people are evacuating. i was just texting with an analyst who lives in the city and she says that all of her friends right now are packing up and leaving. some have already evacuated. some had already sent their children to the west. now we are seeing this steady stream of cars going in the direction of western ukraine, to areas like lviv, a city some 50 miles from the polish border, where the u.s. embassy currently has its operation -- the u.s. embassy having shut down its operation some days ago, katy. >> not to get ahead of ourselves. but you mentioned tank seen crossing the border from belarus. belarus is only a couple hours from the capital city, kyiv. and you've also been covering civilians who have been training. this is video we have of that happening. we have been covering civilians
training up, learning how to use weapons. matt bradley was in eastern ukraine, talking to civilians, who said that they would take up arms. is there an expectation that we are going to see something like that in kyiv? this is also a country and people that have had bloody conflict in recent histories as early or as late as 2014 with the ouster of the pro russian leader in that country. it got quite bloody in those weeks surrounding that. i was wondering what you expect from your experience in conversations there from how the people will react. >> an open question, right now, katie katy, is how tanks will be dealt with. will they engage with those tanks? that's from the conversations
i've had with ukrainian military experts. from then, the answer would be yes. yes, they are going to engaged engage with those forces. -- in terms of people in their personal preparations, you are right, i was at a training exercise in the suburbs of kyiv, just a few weeks ago. it was privately organized. the city had not organized training like this, though they were working on building civilian defense force. they had been focusing on that in recent weeks. but this was a privately organized event. hundreds of people turning up on a very cold saturday morning to learn first aid, to learn how to fire a weapon, to learn how to evacuate the wounded. and i saw an elderly man they, are he was in his 70s. he was standing in line and learning how to shoot a wooden gun, essentially. i asked him what he would do when the russians arrive, if the russians arrived. and at that point he looked at me and said i will shoot, i will shoot them.
just looking at me straight in the face, saying that. i was talking to another 17 year old who was there. and he said that he was going to fight to the death to defend his country. he said that he knows what was at stake here. he says he knows that the principles of freedom are at stake. i was speaking to another woman who was there with her two teenage boys. she said that she thought it was important to be there. she said that it is important to stand for something, that it's important to believe in something and she wanted her voice to remember that and you know that. and that that was why she was training and participating in those military exercises. you hear the stories echoed, when you have conversations here, with people in ukraine, who fought for their freedom. and in their eyes, eight years ago, with the maidan revolution. with the thousands of people taking to the square. some being shot at by sniper fire, they were armed only with windshields. and yet they persisted until that government was toppled and they could usher in the pro
european government system that continues to this day and there is very much that spirit, they do not take their freedom for granted. and based on everything that i have heard, i think they absolutely plan on fighting for it, katy. >> yes, 2014, the leader at the time was not going to see -- have stronger relations with the eu, when people want to those stronger economic relations. erin mclaughlin, do you stay safe, and stick around for this. joining us now is matt bradley in kharkiv ukraine. aaron was saying it's been a couple of hours since we heard the last explosion. what are you hearing there? >> yes, that is the same here. we have not heard anything in the last couple of hours. this situation here in kharkiv, in the extreme east of the country -- in the extreme northeast of the country -- it's a little bit different, from what i understand, from where my colleague aaron is, in the capital. we are not seeing cars, convoys
of cars, streaming out of the city. we are not hearing, really, a siren at all or any loudspeakers. we were told that when the city came under attack there would be loudspeakers. but the fighting is still audible as of this morning. there were 10 to 15 blast that we heard a couple of hours ago. like i said, that has not happened in the last couple of hours. but we are so close to the russian border. we have just gotten information from the border services, the security services, that there are tanks and armaments scene rolling over the border from russia. we are only 25 miles away. like i told you, katy, this was an audible experience for us. and i think that in the next hour or two, it is going to be a visible experience for us. we will start to see russian tanks here in kharkiv. i don't know for sure, i don't know what their objective is, but -- have already reached the border and are heading south. >> we just showed the border, it's in the northeastern portion of ukraine, kharkiv,
that. and it is striking, looking at your position, your live shot right now, how quiet everything is behind you. and i guess the expectation, after what we saw this morning -- maybe expectation is wrong. but you would think it would look different after those blasts. but you are saying that there is an expectation -- >> yeah. >> that quite soon it could be quite different. >> that is my own expectation. but i think the rest of the city probably feels that way as well, because all the shops are closed. we are starting to see lines of cars waiting at gas stations, to get gasoline. lines waiting for atm's, people are trying to run on the banks to get cash. we are starting to see people line up at grocery stores, trying to get food. so, this is a situation, this is a very tense city right now. what is interesting, katy, is that this is a russian speaking city. the second largest city in ukraine but it is a russian speaking majority city.
so, a lot of people have a genuine affinity for russia. but they are fiercely ukrainian. and back in 2014, the last time russia invaded, they stood up for themselves and fought against the russians and kept them from taking this city. this city saw a lot of resistance. and it may see a lot of resistance. again, i have been talking to uniformed cranium's. people willing to fight the national guard, in the military, and there is a bit of an excess of exuberance, considering the capabilities here. and that is something that is very threatening. one of the big issues here is not that the ukrainian military will not fight. it is that they will fight. and that will result in a blistering conflict with many casualties. and i am afraid -- we have heard prognostications from the u.s. government that a lot of those casualties will be among civilians. katy? >> very scary and president biden has made a point to say that this conflict will be bloody and then vladimir putin
will have the blood on his hands. let's go now to moscow, with nbc news producer matt wagner, so matt -- this speech from putin just a few hours ago. it has been described as chilling and he threatened everyone who might interfere, saying that you do not know what is going to come for you if you do -- i am paraphrasing -- he also just mentioned that russia has nuclear weapons. how is it playing over there? >> it is an interesting question, katy. i think moscow this morning is essentially waking up to the reality. we talked 12 hours ago, where we mention that only the past several days have russians here started to understand the gravity of the situation, come to terms with the fact that there president really was preparing the kind of operation that, for months now, russian western officials and intelligence and media have
been warning about. this happened overnight. president putin got on state television at one 5:45 in the morning to announce a special operation. he did not use the word war. -- we are talking about what appears to be a full scale operation. he did not necessarily get that from the speech of vladimir putin. but you may be able to infer that from the rhetoric we are seeing and that we saw there. that message is being played, essentially, on a loop, on russian state media, interspersed with reports from state media. correspondents in the field, in donetsk, at the moment, assuring the audience of things that civilians are not being targeted, using words like liberation. that this is being conducted as kind of an operation to free the ukrainian brotherly people from a fascist regime in kyiv,
with its most extreme formulation, of course. vladimir putin focused on the collapse of the soviet union, all the historical revision engine that we got a taste of on monday. again, you know, in the earlier returns i am getting for russians that i am getting that i talk to, just kind of asking people what they think -- people are in shock. in shock in moscow, i think. i was talking to one of my friends about how this message, this war declaration, essentially, keeps playing out on russian state media. she said, they might as well be playing swan lake. that is, of course, a reference to, during the collapse of the soviet union, that's what was on television during the collapse of the soviet union. >> wow. >> that is the mood. i have yet to come across anyone who -- i'm not saying they don't exist. the moscow changed operating this morning, the rubble is crashing in value.
the government is saying it is going to start spending foreign currency reserves. but this is coming home now to the russian people and they are waking up and we will see with a. do >> i think given what the russian people are hearing from russian state tv, from russian leaders, about what is happening in ukraine, blending ukraine, saying that ukraine is the aggressor and saying that they need to denounce a fire de-nazify it, that it's remarkable you've come across someone who supports it. and i had some bad news to report. this is from one of our fixers, people who help us translate and understand what is happening in ukraine. she says that in the city of podolsk there has been a bombing. -- the multiple cities across
ukraine. matt one more question to you. i wonder, how much of a threat is it to vladimir putin. he would lose public support. and i asked that, it's not really democracy over there. the polls are not free and fair. what is at risk here for him? >> substantial, substantial, i think. we i think obviously don't know how it is going we don't know how it's to play out. gonna play out. we don't know what the russian people are going to do. but there are some things we do know, especially in the past year, but going back many years, the russian government under vladimir putin has engaged, essentially in a systematic dismantling of civil society. the free press, what's left of, it is in tatters. -- the largest opposition figure, alexei navalny someone tried to poison him with a military grade nerve agent, he didn't succeed, he returned to russia, he's now in prison. he's actually on trial for an additional 15, years on charges
that are understand, again, to be politically motivated. it's not clear how any kind of organize opposition get emerge from this right now of course, opposition is always possible they've done a lot to kind of shield themselves from public opinion, i would say, in recent years but it's a big question now, katie >> matt, what about vladimir putin himself a little bit earlier, ali velshi was talking to michael mcfaul, the former ambassador to russia. he was saying that vladimir putin sounds different, he sounds a little bit more unhinged than he normally sounds. he has been very isolated the past couple of years because of covid, self isolating, keeping other foreign leaders at bay. what has he been like, from your observations, in the past few months? >> well, the isolation is the first observation. it's something, of course, we
noticed months ago. we noticed back last year when kieran symonds interviewed him, the isolation is profound, he's really wrapped himself in a significant bubble. we've seen this during all the shuttle diplomacy that he's there. you can see that, even when he met with, ostensibly his court advisers, the national security council, he was seeing on the opposite side of a very large room from them, didn't get near them, and didn't really seem to be interested in dissenting opinion, that we made a show of it for the camera that he was. we saw a few voices that maybe weren't entirely on board with what was happening in that meeting he slapped one of them down, he basically invited them to the answer he was looking for, so it gives a perception of an isolated leader who is maybe not really getting getting a lot of advice to the kind of things he wants to hear.
it doesn't exactly paint an encouraging picture, and i'd say these observations are kind of backed up by what we're seeing now. >> joining me now is retired army colonel, jack jacobs, i'm curious right now, we heard early morning blasts, erin maclachlan reported on it, matt bradley reported on it, we've seen video of it. since then, it's been pretty quiet in these major cities at least, what could be going on right now? >> well, the forces that are moving in to the ukraine from both russia, and it sounds like, from belarus, are moving under the initial artillery, so there is movement taking place to secure initial objectives on the ukrainian side of the border. but don't forget, this is not just going to be a kinetic strike. russia has used and will continue to use, that cyber
means to disable computer networks, jam radios, and so on, and one of the things they're doing now, is to assess the effects of their initial strikes. you heard, and you reported, that there were dead and wounded in odessa down in the south, in romania they're trying to see where the weak spots are on all fronts, attacks across the border, using artillery and tanks from belarus and of course in the east. so after the assessment is made, and it's determined where, the weak places are, the command will then decide exactly where they will probe next. it's interesting to remember, that the entire size of the uk whole ukrainian army, it's about the size of the force, that putin has a raid on the
border, around 200,000 or so. it doesn't include national guard, and some guerrilla fighters that will be there. the force that russia has a raid is enormous. the other thing to keep in mind, is that putin's plane the longer game. the sanctions that we placed on putin, and his cronies, and a few banks and russia, were just the beginning, and one of russia's moves now is to see what the west will do. the scene if as and when they will place restrictions on their use of the swift system. the international payment system that is probably the most draconian of all, the economic structures that can be placed on russia. it's a pause they see where we're gonna do. >> why would you be holding off on that right now? >> one of the arguments for
holding off on it, is that after you use those you do that you cut russia off altogether from cash flows and then russia carries on what would you do i think the administration's been advised, both internally, and from external sources, including our allies in europe, that russia cutting russia off from the swift system, should be the last resort. putin knows this, but he is waiting to see what we do next, since the structures that were originally placed a couple of days ago, we are very, very mild, and we're not going to affect, at all, the russian leadership. they have amassed a great deal of money, a lot of assets have been drawn out of holding areas, and brought into russia, so no economic effects. rush also thinks, katie, that
the united states is going to be disinclined to imposed the strictest of sanctions on russia because it will have a deleterious effect on the people of russia, and i were just inclined to do that. so, once we impose that, we don't have a plan b, i don't think once you do economic structures, what else do you do if they don't work, katie? >> i wonder, michael mcfaul earlier was saying, and i know their position has been of the united states that they don't want to impose pain on the russian people, they don't think that is fair up until this point, we have been opposing pain on vladimir putin's elites in the government system in russia as opposed to the people. michael mcfaul says, thinking about whether that was the wrong approach in this instance, whether there should be pain felt throughout the country, in order to put pressure on vladimir putin. interesting lee, met baltimore was just reporting that he is
yet to encounter anyone that is in support of this invasion of ukraine. which is saying something, given what the russian people have been hearing from the russian government, and the wreck rhetoric they've been hearing from vladimir putin, i wonder, in your assessment of things, colonel, how -- it is vladimir putin at all, a rational actor? is he at all somebody who would respond to losing mass support in his country? >> it's interesting you should bring that up. rationality, in this case, the taking advantage of actions to iran's objectives, and we know things objectives here. putin has at least two constituencies won, of course, is what you mentioned, and that's the people. a great deal of pain suffered by the people, could, in fact, over time, make his position
extremely difficult. but his strongest allies inside the country, his biggest supporters, is most important constituency, at least over the short period of time, are the people who he's elevated to the top of the food chain, who receive the largest percentage of gratuitous. his inner circle, oligarchs, who have become rich because of their close relationship with the kremlin. it's important for him to keep them happy. if he doesn't keep them happy, then he's going to have problems. his perception is, that the people, the large body of russians, can withstand a great deal of pain. it's easy, i guess, to be condescending about russians. but, difficulties, pain, sacrifice, is not alien to russia. they have gone through a great deal of difficulty over the
long history, particularly in the second world war. so, i think the perception, particularly among putin and his cronies, is that the russian people can absorb a great deal of pain, and i think he's willing to subject them to it, in order to achieve his objectives. no matter how irrational they seem to us, they are rational to him. >> colonel jacobs, thanks so much for joining us, i do want to pull up that video that we just had on air a moment ago. this is, i believe, from kharkiv, earlier this morning it shows a number of blasts, rapid fire blasts in the distance. that is in kharkiv, ukraine stay with us, when we come back, we're gonna talk to a member of the house armed services committee, as we watch the unfolding invasion in ukraine committee, as we watch the unfolding invasion in ukrain
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congressman john garamendi, he's on the armed services committee and chair of the subcommittee on readiness, among other things. congressman, thank you for joining us. as you watch what is unfolding, what is your reaction? >> well, basically, i see three things here, some of which you have already covered. the military situation is evolving very quickly. by the thing that is important here is the power of the people. we need to keep in mind that it was 1991 when ukraine voted to be independent of russia. in 2014, they threw off the yoke of russia and its leaders
at that time. and they established a move to the west. and a very powerful movement at that time. that did not go away. similarly, in russia. the second thing is, we will institute the strongest set of sanctions against any country ever over the next weekend probably, beginning tomorrow when the president speaks to the nation. congress has to follow up and early next week i would expect that we would put together a very robust, very extensive package of sanctions that the president can impose upon russia. you talked about -- jack talked very well about the issues of the oligarchs and alike. the russian economy is half the size of the california economy. and it is not a very strong economy, dependent on exports. their military is also dependent upon the importation of various parts and pieces to keep their military going. they had their own supply chain problem. so, those sanctions are going
to go into place. the third issue is that we have -- the biden administration, together with congress has once again establishments a very solid nato alliance. donald trump spent four years doing everything he could to create disarray and lack of unity within the nato. putin has put that back together. i just left the three day conference at brussels with parliamentarians from all of 13 eco countries. they are standing firm. and frankly, to my surprise, the european union got ahead of nato and got ahead, actually, of president biden and established its own set a very strong sanctions. tomorrow, putin is going to get a wake up call. his alarm is going to go off and his banking system will not have access to the international markets. and he won't be able to float bonds on the international
markets and he won't be able to get the resupply for his military. and his it's the pendant on gas and oil. the united states has already worked around the world to begin to shift to the supply of natural gas from various places, japan for example. turned that around and bring that natural gas into europe, western europe, to replace the gas that will probably be cut off from russia. nord stream 2's history now. so, there are a lot of issues at play. one, two, three. all those are going to play out and i would be very shocked, as those sanctions go into place, as the heat and the cold turns up in russia, as their economy begins to weaken, that the people of russia will do what they did over the last several years. and that is go to the streets. i think you are going to see the same thing in ukraine if
and when ukraine russia takes over the cities, or attempts to do so -- >> it's interesting -- >> it's a real difficult -- go ahead. >> it's interesting, japan has imposed sanctions on russia. japan was hesitant to do so before this. because they were trying to build a better relationship with russia. so far, who russia has by its side in terms of major superpowers in the world, it seems china, at least for now. and right now, india is refusing to go strongly against russia given -- congressman, hold on one second because i wanted to go into the european commission, the executive branch of the eu. leaders are speaking. let's hear it. -- >> about the future of our global community. our transatlantic partners. and with all european nations in defending this position. we stand the united.
in saying that no violence and destruction -- political gains. we in the european union remain the strongest group of nations in the world. and they should not be underestimated. more immediately, there will be designs of urgent assistance to ukraine in this dire situation. we will also be active in supporting evacuation preparations, including of our own staff in zones affected by this russian attack. the european union, together with the transatlantic and like-minded partners, are making unprecedented efforts to achieve a diplomatic solution to the security crisis caused by russia. but russia has not reciprocated these efforts. and instead, it has opened
unilaterally for a grave and premeditated escalation, conducting to war. president putin, needs to stop this senseless aggression. and today, there were thoughts with the people of ukraine. we will stand with them. >> there were european leaders of the european commission, the executive branch of the eu. you are just listening to josep borrell, one of the leaders. again, the european union, nato, the united states, all are in unity right now. they are unified and condemning what russia is doing. congressman, are you surprised at the amount of solidarity? all the solidarity that is out
there among western allies? there were moments in the beginning of this crisis, win american intelligence had the intelligence that suggested that russia was planning an invasion and we saw the troop buildup. there was some worry that a country like germany was not going to get on board because they were still on board with nord stream 2. all of that has changed. >> it certainly has. putin did what many people thought would be impossible. he has managed, with this ukraine attack, to unify really the world against him. rthe european union statement that you just heard is extraordinary really important, it's extraordinarily important for the european union to agree on who is gonna make the most out of the bare drop in the spring and summer. they have come together, they've come together very very strong, the gun issue more sanctions, and that's going to
be a very serious problem for russia. and nato is totally unified, now. keep in mind that trump spent four years doing everything he could to terry departs and when biden came into office, it was in disarray so we need to really appreciate the extraordinary work that the biden administration has done, to rally and to solidify and to create the solidarity, not only with nato but with the european union, you mentioned china before, the foreign minister of china said something that is very important but it has really been ignored along the way and that is, they are not in support of this attack in the ukraine. they've stood back on it, they expanded the policy of china for years to not interview with other nations so we'll see where china is on this. we are going to find in the days ahead, more and more countries coming together to support ukraine.
united states department of defense has -- authorized increased support, appropriations in congress are about to be completed, and we're already in appropriations, into more financial support. -- loan guarantee for ukraine sovereign debt, so they can finance the war and the various support that will be needed for the people of ukraine. so many, many pieces are coming together, here. what is the problem is the immediate war that is underway. people are dying. people will be harms. and the civilians as well as a military and russia's going to have great pain and great trauma inflicted on them also because the ukraine army has been fighting for the past
eight years against russia so they know the game it's gonna be a nasty war, it may very well turn out to be an urban war, and there is nothing war's, and he wore his bad, but an urban war is just horrendous. we need to stand with ukraine. we need to, not only hopes and prayers, but also money supplies and ammunition and we are going to have to deal with the refugees that are under already leaving it's gonna be weeks and months. >> on highways, we're seeing long lines and rail stations, and you mentioned the loss of life, we are already hearing the first reports of casualties. a bombing in puddles, which is in the odessa region, six dead, seven wounded. 19 missing, those numbers, unfortunately, are expected to rise. congressman, thank you so much for joining us, we appreciate your time, congressman garrett monday of california.
joining me now is former u.s. ambassador to russia, an msnbc news analyst michael mcfaul. so michael, there is a little right now, we are hearing that russian troops or russian tanks, excuse me, have crossed the border, and are heading into the interior sections of the country. i do want to talk to more about your assessment, and this is video of that, your assessment of vladimir putin right now. give your reaction to something that wagner told me a moment ago, that he was having a hard time finding anybody, in moscow, who supports this incursion. >> with respect to putin, we have been underestimating him for a long time, we kept dreaming about negotiating with them. he has been crystal clear that he wanted this more talking about nato was all just a pretext to this war, and now he has launched a full scale invasion of ukraine. i think it's a worst-case scenario. katie, i have lots of friends all over that contribute crane,
i've got 2000 accounts open right now it feels like every city's been attacked, including even in the west. this seems like a major operation. just because we don't see, it doesn't mean it's not happening. second, i'm glad that the city of moscow, that's probably true, that's where more liberal elites live. i don't know any russians that supports this war, it's hard to understand why are they going to war with the people that are on one hand, vladimir putin keeps telling the russians that they're just like us, but they have our say culture in religious and historic ties, and yet he needs to go in, but he needs to go in and climbs this country of did not suffocation, to get rid of the nazis, that's what he said in this speech. that does not make sense, mr.
zelenskyy, he's not a nazi, his first language is russian. he's jewish. he's not a nazi. millions of russians are not so idiotic as to not understand that. >> let me ask you about using the term nazi. if you're in russia, and you are saying, i want to de-nazify a country. that hits russia in the gut. how does that play? why use the word nazi, specifically. >> great question, you're right, it some in the gut, and that's why he keeps using it. because the most important events for russians and soviet citizens, is something called the great patriotic war. we call it world war ii, that was the defeat of nazi's, where they lost millions of people, every single russian today has a relative that died in that war. the greatest enemy in the history of europe, and they defeated him, according to their history, we had very
little to do with it. by the way, that's true, they bear the brunt of that. he's trying to create that image, right? that this is a war, not unlike the great patriotic war that we fought several decades ago. >> the nazis were severely, severely injured after trying to invade russia. in the winter months. as you said, russia did suffer a lot. ambassador mcfaul, given your assessment of vladimir putin as unhinged. you called him evil a couple of hours ago, i heard the same thing from door shiitake, kind of evil, using that word. ukraine's diplomats of the un set is not just going to stop at ukraine, what we're seeing from our government, is a military buildup in nato states, along the eastern edge of europe. how concerned should people be about this not ending in ukraine, and potentially starting something even bigger.
ting something even well, i don. i think we should be very careful that we don't think we can predict the future, when we're a start. i'd say a couple of things. first, we should be grateful that we did expand made nato. the debate we've been having the past couple weeks, is a good idea or not. think about the counterfactual, but if there was no nato? then there would be a lot more countries that will be exposed right now, they would have ethnic russians living in them. so thank goodness we have nato. number two, i think the biden administration is exactly right to send more soldiers to those places. i want to see nato act together tomorrow, as well, there's something called the nato response force, they should go enact it, so that putin has no illusions that we will defend our nato allies. but, i don't want to get ahead of my schemes. but, think about all the wars
that started with leaders promising they're gonna be a short little wars, we're gonna be home by christmas, it's just can be contained in this one little place. we know that both the length of wars oftentimes go a lot, a lot longer than leaders promise. and sometimes, they expand beyond the borders, and we're just in the first day of this one. this is the biggest war in europe since 1939, since world war ii. i just think it's way too early to think that we know how it's going to end. i don't know, but i'm quite nervous about what happens. obviously, first and foreign most, in ukraine, in what might be some unintended spillover consequences as a result of this war. >> i have two more questions for you. one of them is about nuclear weapons, vladimir putin mention nuclear weapons in a speech about de-nazify-ing ukraine, just happening to mention russia's a nuclear country. it is also about him potentially moving nuclear
weapons into belarus. what would that mean? >> well, both of those, the first that he mentioned nuclear weapons in that speech, that was scary to me. that felt very unhinged to me, and i've been falling putin for a long time. i met him in 1991, i followed his career. for five years i, worked in the obama administration, i used to deal with him. he seems a lot more disconnected from reality than ever before and, that scares me. especially when he starts talking about nuclear weapons. with respect to belarus, i don't know exactly what he means about that. but i think the other thing you're seen today, and let's get the reporting right, i don't get ahead of things. but i've seen on my twitter feed, in my emails, is that the belarusian army is involved here. most certainly, mr. lukashenko who's been an ally. he allowed the russians to be a staging ground, the fastest way to keep his from belarus.
so, as we think about sanctions, and what should be done tomorrow, and i said tomorrow, on purpose, by the way. this notion that we need to say something, keep our powder dry, i completely disagree with that analysis, i think we need to put everything on the table that we can, economic chopping off to the best of our abilities. i think needs to include mr. lukashenko in belarus, they are allies on this war, they now need to be sanctioned as well. >> and you believe it should also hit the russian people, which is something this country has been hesitant to do in the past. >> you know, i say that reluctantly. i have always been for targeted sanctions. in 2014, we had to work -- and i still believe we need to message to the russian people. i will be on russian media in the day later or night, whatever it is now. but i have lots of russian friends. my phone has been lighting up saying this is a tragic day but
we have to get over the idea that we will just do targeted sanctions against the oligarchs and putin. let's lay to rest this idea that sanctions will affect putin's calculus. they will not. we do not have, in our arsenal, i weigh to cripple mr. putin and the people around him. we need to do it. and the more we can do it, we should do it. and we should do it immediately. we have no illusions that it is going to happen overnight, that that is somehow going to change his calculus. i think the only way it will is in the long run, when more society begins to suffer and they realize they have become a pariah state. they have become this rogue regime. and that someday they will begin to push back on the leadership that has led them down this path of this horrific war, of which there will be no. and >> vladimir putin told reporters on friday he has been working to insulate russia --
himself -- from western sanctions. he has been working toward that for the last few years. one more question about holding the country. vladimir putin has said he wants to demilitarize the country. i wonder, what sort of forces would he needs? does he have what he needs right now? can we say his intention is to hold kyiv? to hold portions of ukraine? because that is a lot different than invading. >> i think you are right about that. i don't want to pretend to be a general, though i talk to them every day. there was i do talk to, with four stars, by the way -- retire generals, let's be clear about that -- they all say that the -- are not enough to occupy. but he did say two important things. one, denounce a vacation
de-nazification -- he considers the government to be won backed by us, and to underscore, it's complete nonsense what he is saying. but we are also going to demilitarize, ukraine, he said. that suggests he would go after every military asset the ukrainians have. -- that would be a prolonged war, not just blitzkrieg in and out. i expect this would be going on for a long, long time. what about >> what about this reporting that the united states presented a letter to the un about what intelligence shows is a catalyst that russia has? russia has denied that this list exists. earlier today i spoke with a woman who was a former member of parliament, who says she has reason to believe she is on that list. from your experience in russia, is that sort of thing possible?
>> it is very scary to me what was reported. it is very scary we are just tt is reported, we cannot confirm it. >> yep. >> most certainly, putin has arrested lots of people. the leader of the opposition, he tried to kill and poison, alexander navalny. now he sits in jail with trumped up charges. he can extend those for ten or 15 years, it looks like. i would not be surprised at all. and those are people i know personally as well. i know exactly who would be on that list. another thing to remember, katy, is that russian intelligence services, their military intelligence, the gru, the svr, the pieces that broke away, they are already highly penetrated within ukrainian society. so, if they want to do that, i think they will have the capabilities to do that. and i have to tell you, friends of mine a very scared about
that. >> i would be very scared as well. ambassador michael mcfaul, thank you so much for joining us today. i know you have a long day ahead and tomorrow's already here. it is today already. former ambassador to russia, michael mcfaul, thank you very much. we are going to look right now at some live pictures at kyiv. coming up after the break, we will go to the white house and get a rundown of exactly what happened today or last night into this morning, inside the white house, as the invasion and the bombings started in ukraine. again, this is a live shot of kyiv. look at that line of cars trying to get out. a complete and utter standstill.
it is now 3 am in new york, 10 am in kyiv, ukraine right now ukrainians are waking up to war, as russian forces mount an aggressive attack. those are the bomb sirens, signaling an attack underway in the capital city of kyiv, that is from earlier this morning. nbc news crews on the ground reported loud explosions in kyiv and other cities in the country. you're looking, right, now at a smoke over the northeast say the of kharkiv, again from early this morning. explosions