Transcript: The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, 3/14/22


MSNBC`s continuing live coverage of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. When a group of Ukrainian cancer patients, who are all children, were put on a bus to Poland to escape the war and receive treatment there, a Ukrainian doctor said that "that bus also took away the purpose of my life." Today, the mayor of Kyiv delivered a message as Russian forces attacked multiple civilian targets including an apartment building, a school, and a city bus.


LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Ali. And thank you once again for another compelling hour. Your coverage has been invaluable. And all the extra hours of coverage you`re doing, and all the programming throughout the weekend, it`s really been incredible to keep an eye on everything you`ve been delivering.

ALI VELSHI, MSNBC HOST: Lawrence, thank you and have a great show tonight.

O`DONNELL: Thank you. Thank you.

All birthing mothers have lived through so much. That is when a nurse in Ukraine told "The Associated Press". All birthing mothers always have to live through so much, but in Ukraine, they have to live through too much.

One birthing mother lost some of her toes in a bombing on Friday and a c- section was performed on her, Mstyslav Chernov of "The Associated Press" reports, medic began quote, rubbing her baby vigorously to stimulate any signs of life. After a few tense moments, the baby began to wail. Cheers resonated through the room amid the cries of the girl, who was named Alana. Her mother also cried and the medical staff wiped tears from their own eyes.

Vladimir Putin and his letters that the United Nations were called liars today by the French ambassador. Vladimir Putin and his liars are pushing the lie that Vladimir Putin is not targeting hospitals. The Putin liars claim that the maternity hospital attacked last week in Mariupol had no doctors or patients in it and was not functioning as medical facility in any way.

Putin and his lawyers will say anything and do anything. They have now killed men, women and children, and Vladimir Putin is doing that in an invasion that Donald Trump called genius back -- and that Rupert Murdoch paid people to support.


TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS HOST: Why do I care about the conflict between Ukraine and Russia? Why should I root for Russia, because I am!


O`DONNELL: Last week, a woman whose name we still don`t know tragically became the most famous pregnant women in the world after the Russian attack on the hospital where she was going to give birth. You have seen this photograph many times. It is so far the defining image of the vicious war crime that Vladimir Putin is committing every minute of his invasion of Ukraine.

Mstyslav Chernov of "The Associated Press" reports what happened after that photograph was taken.

The woman was taken to another hospital, closer to the front line, where doctors tried to save her. Realizing she was losing her baby, medics said, she had cried out to them, kill me now! Dr. Timur Marin said Saturday that the woman`s pelvis had been crushed and her hip detached. Her baby was delivered via caesarean section, but showed no signs of life, he said. He tried to save the woman, and more than 30 minutes of resuscitation of the mother didn`t produce results, Marin said. Both died.

That is what Rupert Murdoch and Fox News shows when they chose Russia. That is what Donald Trump called genius. Both died -- the mother trying to deliver a baby, screaming, "Kill me now," when she believes her baby is not going to make it. Vladimir Putin did that to her back. And then he killed them both.

And Vladimir Putin wants to kill more pregnant women and more babies, and more little girls and boys, men and women, and Ukrainian soldiers, and grandparents. There is no apparent limit to how many tens of millions of people Vladimir Putin wants to kill in Ukraine.

Mstyslav Chernov`s reporting on the deaths of the woman and her baby continues. Quote: In the chaos after the airstrike, medical workers did not get her name before her husband and father took away her body. Doctors said they were grateful that she didn`t end up in the mass graves, being dug for many of Mariupol`s dead.

Grateful that she didn`t end up in a mass grave. Never, never forget who put those people in those mass graves. Vladimir Putin did that.

And never forget who put that mother and her baby in a grave. Vladimir Putin did that. And never forget who supported and embraced and encouraged Vladimir Putin and who chose Russia over Ukraine.


CARLSON: Has Putin ever called me a racist? Has he threatened to get me fired for disagreeing with him? Has he shipped every middle class job in my town to Russia?


O`DONNELL: Today, President Zelenskyy said this any video message.

Today is the 18th, daily 18th day of our war for life, for Ukraine, for independence, and the beginning of this day was black. Russian missiles and air bombs hit our country again from east to west. Unfortunately, the humanitarian corridor to Mariupol was blocked.

Again, we did everything necessary. Ensured silence. Russian troops disrupted the movement with cargo and buses, but we will try again until we can help our people, because they are ours, our Mariupol, heroic Mariupol, Ukrainians. We are going through the worst ordeal in our history, and our lives to protect the most precious thing we have.

We must hold on. We must fight, and we will win. I know that. I believe in that.

Joining us now with the latest is NBC News correspondent Cal Perry in Lviv, Ukraine.

Cal, what is the situation there tonight?

CAL PERRY, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, we will start in Mariupol, because I think we need to prepare ourselves for more images like the one you just laid out. The humanitarian situation there is abysmal. It is awful. It is unimaginable.

Folks there are running out of food. They`ve been out of water and power now for more than ten days. It was a week ago when a young girl, according to the president, died of dehydration in that city. Since then, the shelling has only intensified.

This mass grave is truly the last desperate move of a city that cannot even get above ground to carry out proper funerals. Again, the situation there is getting worse, at least 2,200 civilians dead. But we know the numbers will be far higher.

This is worth reminding our viewers that the majority of the men have gone to the front and so you have left behind folks who cannot get out of Mariupol, or folks who are dead and have left family behind in those houses. It is an unbelievable difficult scene.

It`s even worse in the city of Kharkiv where the shelling is even more intense. It has not relented anymore than ten days. Folks there are starting to understand by local reports to fight over the food, to scrounge, to try to survive, again, mostly underground.

The capital of Kyiv is slowly being strangled. The Russian army is now on three different sites. It really is only the western approach that is still open, the road leading to Lviv that is still open. People there are wondering when that will be shut -- Richard Engel reporting a tall residential buildings now are being shelled indiscriminately.

Here in the western part of the country, where it`s supposed to be safe, supposed to be quiet, 48 hours ago, the city woke up to the sound of distant explosions and airbase just 15 miles from the border, with Poland hit by eight separate missiles. The Ukrainian government said there were 30 fired at that base. 22 of them either did not make it or not out of the sky, but 35 people dead. 130 wounded at the very least.

It is an indication that the air campaign is widening, that Vladimir Putin is going to be willing to hit these resupplies as they come from Poland, military aid is flowing into this country. It`s not being talked about for security reasons, but it is arriving here, and now we are seeing it be targeted.

I will remind everybody, 300,000 refugees are now settled in Lviv. That does not account with hundreds of thousands that are not listed. The internally displaced people, and those folks not only have anywhere to go, but are now faced with the reality that as they move west to the border of Poland. They can come across airstrikes having troubled hundreds and hundreds of miles to get out of places like Mariupol, like Kharkiv -- Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Cal Perry, thank you once again for your reporting, and please stay safe, as we know the danger is coming closer to western Ukraine. Thank you very much, Cal.

PERRY: Thanks.

O`DONNELL: This is what happened tonight on the evening broadcast of Russia`s most watched news program, on Channel One. Watch this.


O`DONNELL: The woman who is holding that sign, "no war," works or worked at Channel One.


Her name is Marina Ovsyannikova. She has seen how instantly people get arrested in Russia now for holding up any sign publicly, so she knew she would be immediately arrested, and she was.

"New York Times" reports that the moment went viral online and Russia, despite the Kremlin`s recent efforts to block dissent on the Internet. Within hours, her Facebook page had more than 26,000 comments with many people thanking her or praising her for her bravery in Russia, English and Ukrainian.

Before her TV protest, she recorded a one minute video, which he gave to a Russian legal rights group which released it. The translation was provided to us by Julia Davis, founder of the Russian Media Monitor, who will join us in just a moment. Here is that video.


MARINA OVSYANNIKOVA, EDITOR (translated): What is currently happening in Ukraine is a crime. Russia is a country-aggressor. All responsibility for this aggression lies on the conscience of one person: Vladimir Putin. My father is Ukrainian, my mother is Russian. They were never enemies. This necklace around my neck signifies that Russia should immediately stop this fratricidal war and our brotherly nations can make peace with each other. Unfortunately, for the last several years, I worked at Channel One, promoting Kremlin propaganda and for that I am very ashamed right now. I am ashamed that I allowed lies to be told from TV screens, that I allowed Russian people to be zombified. We stayed quiet when all of this was just getting started in 2014. We didn`t come out to protest when the Kremlin poisoned Navalny. We continued to quietly watch this inhuman regime. Now the whole world turned away from us. Ten generations of our descendants won`t be able to wash away the shame of this fratricidal war.


O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Julia Davis, columnist for "The Daily Beast" and founder of the Russian Media Monitor, and Stanislav Kucher, a former Russian television host.

Julia, let me begin with you. You were watching this coverage. It happened. Were you -- were you expecting that at some point, something like this might happen on Russian television?


No, I actually never expected to see that on state controlled television, because it is so tightly controlled by the Kremlin, and this woman, my heart goes out to her for her bravery. I`ve never expected to see anything like that. It made an enormous impact.

O`DONNELL: Stanislav Kucher, you worked in Russian media and you obviously know and we all know just how tightly controlled it all is and what was your reaction to seeing this? What do you think the impact will be?

STANISLAV KUCHER, FORMER TV AND RADIO HOST IN RUSSIA: Well, the first thing I did when I saw it, I posted it on my Telegram channel. I wanted to share the news with as many people as possible. But I want to say, of course I was happy to see that, because Marina Ovsyannikova is definitely the embodiment the kind of people, thanks to Putin regime, will fall apart like the house of cards, probably sooner than we expect.

And that`s exactly the impact of what happened, of Marina`s brave, courageous and obviously historic act, more people in Russia will now see that nothing is impossible. They will see that it`s never too late to admit you were wrong and do something great. So, that you will be okay in terms of your conscience. That`s exactly what Marina did.

And obviously, everybody and myself included are now worried about where she is. Right now, we are in touch with Pavel Chikov, who is in charge of the group earlier mentioned. The human rights group, and I do hope that in the next hour as well, we will know where she is, because she spent several hours with the police right there.

The television center where everything happened, and then her trace literally disappeared. Nobody heard from her.

O`DONNELL: And, Julia Davis, we`ve seen videos of people being arrested in the street for holding -- literally a person holding up a blank piece of paper with no message at all. That was taken by Russian police. She knew, Marina knew what was going to happen o her if she did this.

DAVIS: Absolutely, because Putin`s Russia is essentially an open air penal colony.


She took an enormous risk. She knows that we`d be severe repercussion. He she did it anyway. That will empower and encourage others, because the truth is unstoppable and courage is contagious.

O`DONNELL: You know some of these executives in Russian media, tell me what happens immediately after this happens on screen. It could be that Vladimir Putin was watching tonight when this happened. Does he pick up the phone? Did executives go into full punishment?

What happens, who gets fired, what`s the point reaction?

KUCHER: Well, first, it`s worth mentioning that Ekaterina Andreev, the news show host was there, whom we just saw, she`s one of Putin`s favorite propaganda peddlers in Russia. So, yes, it can`t be excluded that he was watching when this happens.

And I`m pretty sure that even if he was not, he either has been shown that fragment already, or will see it first thing in the morning.

What happens? Well, when I was fired from national television in Russia as far as that was 21 years ago already, we had a show -- as far as I know, Putin`s press secretary, the guy in charge of the so-called ministry of truth, he calls right away. He calls that utter-in-chief of the channel. And that`s how it happens. Everybody goes crazy, of course.

So, I don`t think anything has changed during the past 21 years. It was bad back then, and it`s pretty much the same right now, I think. But, one thing I`m pretty sure of is that Konstantin Ernst, who was the president of Channel One, I do think he will resign in the next few days. Either he will be fired, or he will file a resignation letter himself.

O`DONNELL: And, Julia Davis, we`ve seen the clamp down on Russian media, and what we didn`t know was, what opportunities would people within Russian media have to express themselves this way? And when you think about all these restrictions on Russian media, this is about all you can do is grab a sign and run across a set with the cameras rolling.

DAVIS: That`s basically it. And there was not a guarantee that this would even work. But it`s very powerful what`s she did, and it resonates so deeply with people not only in Russia but also in Ukraine since Russian state media is selling this impenetrable image of total support for Putin`s war against Ukraine. So, in that sense, as well, it matters to people in both countries equally.

O`DONNELL: Julia Davis, thank you very much for keeping an eye on Russian media for us, and for that translation today.

And Stanislav Kucher, thank you very much for joining this discussion, we really appreciate it.

And coming up, there was a dramatic moment at the United Nations today on the Chinese ambassador spoke and offered zero encouragement or support for Vladimir Putin`s war. Can China be part of possibly a team that convinces Vladimir Putin to stop the war? That`s next.



O`DONNELL: Today, China`s ambassador to the United Nations did not offer Vladimir Putin any encouraged to continue his war in Ukraine.


ZHANG JUN, CHINESE AMBASSADOR TOO THE UNITED NATIONS (through translator): Even in the most intensive moment of the Cold War, dialogue and cooperation were possible and necessary. Differences among states in (INAUDIBLE) social system, and ideology shall not become an obstacle to dialogue, let alone a reason for confrontation.

The final solution to the crisis in Ukraine is to take seriously and respect reasonable system and concerns of all states, and form a balanced, effective, and sustainable European security architecture. This world does not need a new Cold War. Sovereignty and territorial integrity of all states shall be respected. China will strengthen communications and coordination with all parties concerned, and play a constructive role in promoting peace through negotiations.

China is deeply concerned about and regrets the developments in Ukraine. The cessation of hostility is a common aspiration of the international community, dialogue and negotiation, the only realistic and feasible resort. We called for maximum restraint. The call for effective guarantee for civilian security and their basic needs, and we call for a safe and unimpeded humanitarian corridors with supporting United Nations in playing the coordinating role and humanitarian assistance to Ukraine.


O`DONNELL: Joining us now is Eric Schmitt of "The New York Times", whose latest reporting is headlined, how does it end? A way out of the Ukraine war proves elusive.

Also with us, Rick Stengel, who served as under secretary of state in the Obama administration and former editor in chief of "Time Magazine". He is an MSNBC political analyst.

And, Eric Schmitt, let`s go straight to that question of, what is the way out? And what we heard from the Chinese ambassador to the United Nations today sounded promising, him saying that the sovereignty and integrity of all states shall be respected. He`s saying that he was going for a maximum restraint.

Transcript: The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, 3/14/22

Who are the possible players here who could affect an outcome?

ERIC SCHMITT, SENIOR WRITER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Well, what we`ve seen so far in the negotiating front, or you have the presidents of France, Israel and Turkey who tried to play as -- with Ukraine and Russia. But where Putin spoke with all these world leaders multiple times, and also the chancellor of Germany recently, has basically rejected any such efforts. The efforts that you just checked off of the Chinese.

In fact, what Mr. Putin has done instead seems to be doubling down on his military campaign. A campaign that was stalled in the early days, and has really, according to senior Pentagon officials, remains pretty much without any appreciable change with some exemptions in the South.

O`DONNELL: Rick Stengel, what`s your interpretation of what the Chinese ambassador had to say tonight?

RICK STENGEL, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I was happy that he obviously didn`t take Putin`s position. There`s been a lot of reporting. Jake Sullivan met with the Chinese foreign minister today. It wasn`t a very happy meeting.

There was that kind of alliance of autocracy between Putin and Xi during the Olympics. So, I was relieved that they said thought. Just want to say that piece that Eric wrote with David Sanger was an absolutely terrific piece, and just to kind of plunge ahead, Lawrence. I mean, it did outline a possible deal between Ukraine and Russia.

And Eric knows that Dmitry Peskov, Putin spokesperson said, that some of these things are possible, a partition of Ukraine where Donetsk and Luhansk would be independent. Ukraine, or Zelenskyy, saying look, we don`t have to join NATO. Some recognition that Crimea is part of Russia, and potentially relaxation of the sanctions -- that is a potential deal between Russia and Ukraine if Putin actually wants a deal, which I`m not very sure about either.

O`DONNELL: And, Eric Schmitt, one of the dynamics here is that the deal may be -- a deal maybe more difficult to arrive at. The more cruelty Vladimir Putin keeps upon cruelty in Ukraine, he thinks that the cruelty will bring submission. But the cruelty can bring even more resistance, and resistance any form of compromise at all.

SCHMITT: That`s right. I think what you`ve seen so far with all the destruction we`ve seen, nearly three weeks of fighting, more than two and a half million refugees, more than 100 million dollars worth of damage to Ukraine. And without, as Rick said, without any sense so far that Putin is willing to let up on this campaign. This very brutal campaign that he thought was going to go very quickly. Instead, it has been bogged down.

So what has he done instead? He turned to heavy shelling, muscle attacks against the major cities both in the north and the south. And the idea that there would be a deal here somewhere to be cut, and the idea that in the end of the, no doubt, Mr. Putin would want to have sanctions lifted, I think would be hard for a lot of Western countries to stomach after this.

You know, senior Biden administration officials say this is ultimately a deal that Ukraine and Russia are going to have to work out with whatever brokers can be dealt with. But it can be very hard pill to swallow I think for the rest of the world to be lifting sanctions at a time when Putin is basically destroying this country before our own eyes.

O`DONNELL: Rick, China certainly did not embrace Vladimir Putin`s notion that Ukraine is not really a country, that Ukraine as part of Russia. And Ukraine as a major trading partner with China. China has real interests in the viability of Ukraine. China obviously has its interests in Russia, too, but it`s not like this is a very simple, one sided thing for China.

STENGEL: No, and by the way, their lithium deposits in Ukraine that China is interested in. China has interest in Ukraine.

But the parallelism that people have talked about for a long time is what Ukraine is to Russia, Taiwan is to China. And that if the world were to somehow allowed Putin to annex Ukraine, then, Xi Jinping would say, well, they`re going to let me do that with Taiwan.


I mean, your point, Lawrence, was well taken. And of course, that phrase, you heard it under President Trump. The cruelty is the point; you know, with Putin the brutality is the point. The indiscriminate violence is the point.

But as Eric`s very good story makes clear, you know, Russia is suffering too. Not just reputational damage. The economy is tanking. Their ruble isn`t worth a penny. it`s been a much harder operation than he thought.

And if he thinks look, I don`t want to be here for another hundred years, as that woman`s beautiful statement on Russian TV said the next 12 generations of Russians will regret what Putin did in Ukraine then maybe he would want to try to make a deal.

O`DONNELL: Eric Schmitt, the Russian stock exchange has been closed every day of this war. And so the economic side of this war -- we don`t have the same video for the economic side of this war that we have for the devastation as a result of the combat and the indiscriminate shelling.

But when are we going to see in more vivid ways the effects of the economic war?

ERIC SCHMITT, SENIOR WRITER, "NEW YORK TIMES": Well, I think that`s the problem here and President Biden was clear when the world began to impose these much tougher sanctions on Russia that these could take months to really sink in.

And my colleagues who have been reporting this out of Moscow and out of Russia say, you know, it really hasn`t -- most average Russians are still on the side of President Putin right now.

Sure the oligarchs are feeling the pinch with their yachts being swept up and some of the wealthier Russians are escaping the country right now. But I think it`s still going to be awhile before you see the everyday Russian feeling the pinch.

And I think even then the narrative in Moscow will be, well, this is the west`s fault. This is what they`re imposing upon us. A narrative, of course that`s been spun out over years.

So I think trying to build any kind of popular opposition on the streets of Moscow and elsewhere in Russia is going to be very difficult to do.

O`DONNELL: Eric Schmitt and Rick Stengel, thank you both very much for joining our discussion tonight. Thank you.

And coming up, when a group of Ukrainian cancer patients, who are all children, were put on a bus to Poland to escape the war and receive treatment there, a Ukrainian doctor said that "that bus also took away the purpose of my life".

We will be joined by the reporter who covered that story and has seen much more of life and death in Ukraine. That`s next.



O`DONNELL: Our next guest Joshua Yaffa spent two weeks traveling between the Donbas, Kyiv and Lviv contributing to the "New Yorker`s", extensive coverage of Putin`s war in Ukraine. His reporting begins in a children`s hospital in Kyiv where he saw a seven year old boy in intensive care.

Joshua Yaffa writes he had been riding in a car with his parents and two sisters when they came under fire. Shells exploded around them, sending shrapnel, ripping through glass and metal and flesh. His parents and one sister died on the spot. His other sister was taken to a different hospital.

An ambulance brought the boy unconscious and losing blood to a hospital where doctors performed emergency surgery and put him on a ventilator.

It was a couple of days before the staff located his grandmother and learned the boy`s name, Samuel (ph). Shrapnel had passed through the side of his neck. He was on life support, with little sign of brain activity. After the boy died, the doctor who treated him said I feel simple, ordinary, very human anger.

Natalia Kubalya (ph) is the head of the chemotherapy department at the children`s hospital where she worked for 30 years. It`s a hospital that normally treats children suffering from cancer and other grave medical conditions. And instead of arranging chemotherapy for the children who need it, Natalia Kubalya was waving goodbye to them as they were taken on to a bus with their families on their way to Poland for treatment.

She told Joshua Yaffa, "It`s a great tragedy. We were finally able to offer these children the level of care they need in Ukraine, but now we have no choice but to send them away and along with them the purpose of my life."

Joining us now is Joshua Yaffa, contributing writer to the "New Yorker". His latest article, "What the Russian invasion has done to Ukraine" appears in this week`s issue of the "New Yorker". He`s also the author of "Between Two Fires: Truth, Ambition and Compromise in Putin`s Russia".

Joshua, thank you very much for joining us tonight. Your reporting is as vivid as any camera could deliver to us of what is happening there.


O`DONNELL: And your reporting begins in a hospital and returns to hospitals, but it covers all of life and death in Ukraine in these two weeks. What else have you seen that gives you some sense of where we might be going?

JOSHUA YAFFA, NEW YORKER: Thank you, Lawrence, for the generous introduction. Happy to be with you tonight.

I kind of have a sense of great tragedy and loss that`s unmistakable and very visceral, exemplified for example, in that scene that you read from Ahmadu (ph) Children`s Hospital in Kyiv where young victims of the conflict like that young boy Simeon (ph) are bringing brought as well as all these other children, hundreds of children who have been in the hospital, waiting for care, waiting for chemotherapy, for bone marrow transplants, who are now living in dank basements underneath the hospital to hide out from nightly air raids or being in the best-case, one might say, being brought out of the hospital by bus to Poland for treatment in that scene that you mentioned.

So there`s an unmistakable sense of a really visceral suffering and tragedy, but there is also a sense of incredible solidarity and strength and will of resolve. I was really struck by the degree to which this invasion has really galvanized Ukrainian society.

And so, it`s really not against -- the initial expectations are really one of the big wagers that Putin made in launching this invasion. He assumed not only would President Volodymyr Zelenskyy flee at the first sight of trouble, at the first (INAUDIBLE). He also assumed that Ukrainian society, rather than coming together would also dissipate, give up and wouldn`t find resolve or wouldn`t unify around the idea of Ukrainian state, an idea that Putin himself seems never really to have believed in.

But what we`ve seen instead are people coming together in extraordinary ways, whether it`s tens of thousands of people joining these so-called Territorial Defense Forces. These are local, neighborhood military units full of volunteers. People who just weeks ago worked in cafes, as IT professionals.

One man I met at the Ahmadu Children`s Hospital, he was waving goodbye to his son with leukemia and his wife. They were being taken to Poland on this bus. He stayed in Kyiv, because he wanted to join the Territorial Defense Forces, to defend his capital. He used to work in agriculture manufacturing, or the manufacturing equipment for agricultural uses. Now he is in Kyiv defending the capitol in these Territorial Defense Forces.

I also have seen lots of people volunteering in different ways. A cafe owner a place I knew from before the war in Kyiv, the city I have been to many times and enjoyed as a really vibrant European capital, of course, very different there.

Now the one place that I had been to before, like the cafe in the center of town, the owner has turned it into a kind of nonprofit volunteer production space for thousands of meals. Up to 10,000`s a day going to those Territorial Defense Forces, medics and other people in the capital.

So the strength and will and resolve result of the Ukrainian people has been as striking to me as the great tragedy being inflicted upon it.

O`DONNELL: You write in the piece, it appeared that only one of two things could make it through this war -- Putin`s presidency or Ukrainian statehood. Please expand on that.

YAFFA: Sure. Well, in launching this war Putin has taken an extraordinary gamble and he`s really broken in some sense from character. This is a different Putin. It`s the Putin before who was certainly happy to reap whatever tactical gains he could, especially vis a vis the west and was someone who wasn`t afraid to make bold unexpected moves like for example the annexation of Crimea.

But what we are seeing with this invasion is Putin taking on a whole new other level of risk. Staking his country`s economy, which has suffered immensely. Your previous guest has spoken about that, the degree to which sanctions are and will continue to take a real bite out of the Russian economy. And in so doing, undermining Putin`s whole previous narrative of legitimacy.

Up until just a few months ago, a few weeks ago, much of Putin`s narrative of why his own rule made sense for Russia and continued rule makes sense for Russia was in contrast, for example, to the turbulence and deprivation of the 1990s.

That is a common motif in how Putin and his political spin doctors have explained the need for Putin`s continued rule. He is the source of stability rather than the chaos that has preceded him. That`s the narrative that he has used.


YAFFA: But now Putin has introduced a great deal of chaos himself into the Russian political system, and certainly into the Russian economy. And having made this wager, he needs to emerge from this war with something that he can credibly present as a victory.

And he has raised the stakes so far and so greatly with this invasion with not at all a limited invasion, not at all a limited -- incursion of limited aims. This is really about at least again, as said three weeks ago about regime change, effectively in Ukraine. And that is the goal that Putin put before himself with the Russian military with this this operation and having seen such a high cost for this for Putin as I`ve said, needs to come out of it with something he could credibly present as a victory.

And on the other side, that victory as Putin has outlined, or at least set out embarking on this invasion, is effectively the limitation, if not elimination of Ukrainian sovereignty as we have seen it so far what Russia is asking for here.

And Putin may have backed away from the regime change aspect, as the military ran into great difficulty in encircling and capturing Kyiv. Russia maybe softening its demand to (INAUDIBLE) political leadership including Zelenskyy replaced, but nonetheless, what he continues to ask for are things that would severely limit, if not remove Ukrainian sovereignty. Things like demilitarization, guarantees of not joining NATO, and those security blocs, not joining the E.U.

The NATO question, for example, is enshrined in Ukraine`s constitution. There was a constitutional amendment that calls on Ukraine to move toward joining NATO. So backing away from that wouldn`t just be a political gesture, a political decision on the part of Zelenskyy, but would require the country to reject its own constitution. So there are real costs for Ukraine there as well.

O`DONNELL: Joshua Yaffa, thank you very much for joining us tonight. And thank you very much for bravely driving around the country to bring this reporting to us, we really appreciate it.

YAFFA: My pleasure, thank you.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

Coming up, we`ll go back to Kyiv for a live report from Kyiv. Actually we were in Lviv earlier with Cal Perry. And this would be our first report of tonight live from Kyiv. That`s next.



O`DONNELL: An estimated two million people are still living in Kyiv, half of the population of the city three weeks ago. We will be joined by one of them in a moment. Today, the mayor of Kyiv delivered this message as Russian forces attacked multiple civilian targets including an apartment building, a school, and a city bus.


VITALI KLITSCHKO, MAYOR OF KYIV, UKRAINE: That`s what Russians war against the civilians look like. Destroyed buildings, destroyed infrastructure. City bus just got hit with a rocket. Lives are being lost. That`s the war that Russia started. That`s the city of Kyiv.

And many cities in Ukraine were destroyed. Lives were taken. That`s the truth, these images is the truth of Russian war against Ukraine. Putin`s war against Ukraine. That`s what it looks like.


O`DONNELL: Joining us now from Kyiv is Alexander Khrebet, international desk editor at the Ukrainian news publication ZN.UA. Thank you very much for joining us again tonight. You tweeted today these photographs of an apartment building that was attacked, saying that two of your friends are living at that building. Were people actually living in that building when it was attacked?

ALEXANDER KHREBET, INTERNATIONAL DESK EDITOR, ZN.UA: Yes. Hi, Lawrence. This is a living residential building like a lot of them in Kyiv. They are the same shape, kind of, from those Soviet tanks.

My friends, two of my friends they were living just next building next. And they woke about 5:00 in the morning because of the shelling.

O`DONNELL: And are the people who are still in Ukraine -- I`m sorry, in Kyiv, are they choosing to be there, or is it that they simply cannot find a way out?

KHREBET: No. It`s a matter of choice because it`s not so easy, but it`s possible to flee to Kyiv. A lot of buses are going from Kyiv. A lot of trains are going from the two train stations. From the central station and from the western station. So in the western direction and the southmost direction, people are going and going over there.

O`DONNELL: And, how about supplies of water, food, at this point in Kyiv?

KHREBET: It became much better for the last week. So I visited three chains -- three different chains just to check the goods food in the supermarkets. And most of them, except one, are full of goods. It`s not a lot of varieties, but still, everything is possible to buy, everything you need. The worst situation only there with the canned food.


O`DONNELL: Alexander Khrebet in Kyiv, thank you very much for joining us once again. Please stay safe. And we will have you back as soon as we can. Thank you.

Tonight`s LAST WORD is next.


O`DONNELL: Today the French ambassador to the United Nations said Russia lied.



NICHOLAS DE RIVIERE, FRENCH AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS (through translator): Mister president, there is a harsh and very different reality today. It is very harsh.

Russia has lied. It has flagrantly violated the U.N. charter and the founding text of the OSCE (ph), the Helsinki Final Act, and the Paris Charter, which underpins stability in Europe.


O`DONNELL: That is tonight`s LAST WORD.