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Hillary Clinton on Russia's invasion of Ukraine: 'This is not going to end quickly'

The former secretary of state told Mika Brzezinski that while she doesn’t know how the crisis will end, she believes the person most surprised there hasn’t been a swift takeover of Ukraine is Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Image: Hillary Clinton and Chelsea Clinton are guests on \"Good Morning America,\" Oct. 1, 2019 .
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Lou Rocco / ABC via Getty Images file

Hillary Clinton doesn’t know how the crisis in Ukraine will end. But the person she believes is most shocked that there hasn’t been a swift military victory is Russian President Vladimir Putin himself.

“It’s so heartbreaking to me that Putin is acting out his own insecurities, his own resentments and grievances against the people of Ukraine — waging a war against a smaller state that is totally unprovoked,” said the former secretary of state. “It really tells us everything we need to know about Putin.”

Clinton made the remarks during an interview with Know Your Value founder and “Morning Joe” co-host Mika Brzezinski at Forbes’ 30/50 summit on Tuesday morning in Abu Dhabi. Shortly before the conversation, Clinton received Forbes’ International Women’s Day Lifetime Achievement Award.

“I don’t know how it ends, but I think the person who is most surprised that it is still going on is probably Vladimir Putin,” added Clinton. “The level of defense and determination that the Ukrainian people are showing – starting with their president, President Zelenskyy, going all the way down to the grandmothers and young women taking up arms… It’s tragic, but inspiring. I hope the world will stay with Ukraine while they try to protect their homeland.”

Clinton also said she wants to see the country have greater access to defensive weapons and called on Russia to agree to humanitarian corridors so Ukrainians can get to safety. She called Russia’s recent proposal – offering corridors that would go through Russia itself – “unacceptable.

It has been 13 days since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, a crisis that has resulted in 1.7 people fleeing the country. The United Nations said on Monday that it recorded 406 civilian deaths since Feb. 24, including the deaths of 27 children.

Brzezinski noted Ukrainian women have played a pivotal role, from providing medical care, to carrying children to safety, to bearing arms and fighting. She asked Clinton what was driving the incredible resilience.

Volunteers come to register to take part in the defense of Kyiv on Feb. 28, 2022.
Volunteers come to register to take part in the defense of Kyiv on Feb. 28, 2022.Diego Herrera / Europa Press via Getty Images

“I think, first of all, it is shock. You know, two weeks ago, these people — especially these women — they were taking care of their babies, they were planning their weddings, they were going to work, they were continuing their education. And because of a leader of a much larger country on their border decided he wanted to stamp out their way of life, they are now fleeing for safety or standing up against that military force.”

Brzezinski agreed. “The courage, the bravery, the determination, the resilience and the heartbreak of the women of Ukraine is critical to our collective mission … Women are often the unspoken hero at times like this.”

In closing, Clinton stressed that it’s important that the world continues to stand with Ukraine because “this is not going to end quickly.”

“Because the Ukrainians have taken a stand, it’s going to drag on and it’s going to be incredibly brutal on part of the Russians…I hope people will continue to pay attention to the news coverage and understand that the Ukrainians are really fighting for all of us…”