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Transcript: The Rachel Maddow Show, 4/8/22

Guests: John Sparks, Yevhen Yenin, Marta S. Jones

Summary

MSNBC`s continuing live coverage of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Judge Jackson to be the first Black woman on Supreme Court.

Transcript

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: That is "ALL IN" for this week.

THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now with Ali Velshi filling in.

Good evening, Ali. And I want to just say that you have been doing such an incredible job these last five weeks, and I am so personally grateful, and proud of you as a colleague to have you out there on the ground reporting. It`s been just phenomenal for all of us. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

ALI VELSHI, MSNBC HOST: Chris, I`m really appreciative of that. As you, know you and I are most likely to run into each other in the halls. I am looking forward to seeing you in person. Have a great weekend. We`ll see you next week.

And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. I`m coming to you one last time tonight from Lviv, Ukraine. Rachel, as you know, we`ll be back on Monday.

But it has been a particularly grim day here in Ukraine, and the end of a very grim week. The one bit of good news this week is that Russian forces have now entirely withdrawn from Ukraine`s north, and from the area around the capital, Kyiv. They have retreated in defeat in the face of remarkable resistance from Ukrainian forces.

But as the Russians have withdrawn, the atrocities they committed while occupying Kyiv suburbs are coming further to light each day. And though they may have been defeated in the north, Russia is regrouping for a renewed assault on Ukraine`s east, which is already devastated by weeks of aerial bombardment. Ukrainian leaders have been urging residents in the east to evacuate, warning them that they do not have much time before the Russian attack begins. And an escape may become impossible.

Earlier this week, we showed you these images of thousands of Ukrainians, thronging the rail station in Kramatorsk. It is about 100 miles from the Russian border. They were all trying to board trains to get to safety.

This was Kramatorsk central station yesterday. It has been mobbed like this all week as people lineup for westbound trains, until today. Until today, the greatest danger for these people seem to be that there might not be enough trains. They might not get out in time before the Russian troops moved in.

Instead, the danger came for them today. It found the right where they stood. And I must warn you, as I do every night now, that some of what we are about to show you is deeply upsetting.

A missile strike tore into the central station today while 4,000 people were gathered there, according to Ukrainian officials. Over 50 people are confirmed dead, dozens more are hospitalized, several of the dead are children.

Sky News` John Sparks arrived at the station shortly after the attack.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHN SPARKS, SKY NEWS REPORTER: It sits on the grass outside of the station in Kramatorsk. The remnants of a ballistic missile, it`s work already done. On the side, there is a message, za deti, or done for the children. A message of revenge, it seems, sprayed and white.

This weapon was aimed at the only place in this embattled city where large groups were gathering. The train station was packed with people trying to find a way out. Some 4,000 waiting for trains, heading to western Ukraine. They were running from the Russian military, but this brutal war came to them.

You can`t unsee scenes like these. Neither can you forget the sound. High explosives, and bits of shrapnel tearing through passengers waiting for a train.

"How many dead bodies? And the children! The children!" says one.

The authorities say at least 50 people were killed, including five children. More than 100 have been injured.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There were a lot of fire truck, ambulances -- it was chaos, a crush, people running in different directions. Near the entrance, cars were on fire and as far as I know, people died in them. They didn`t have time to get out.

We were in this booking hall a couple of days ago. And it was full. It was full of people, and their personal possessions as they waited to board trains out on the platform.

There was a famous singer who stood there at the doors, and he saying to everybody, and they were tearful as they boarded trains for Lviv.

And now, bags without their owners, left in the middle of the hall. We hear phones ringing, friends and loved ones trying to contact them.

[21:05:00]

This man was looking for his mother, you could see her bag, but he did not know where she was.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She just doesn`t answer my call. I am trying to call but she doesn`t pick up.

SPARKS: The casualties were taken to area hospitals, and at city hospital number three, some had to wait in the halls. There is a war on, and they do not have the staff, or the beds. Outside, friends and loved ones waited for news. This woman son has been caught in the blast, and was undergoing surgery. A 17 year old Gornasia (ph) had been waiting for the train to Kyiv.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I remember a really loud noise and there was something landing, hells or rockets. Everybody hit the ground. That`s all, a nightmare, everything starts to burn, everyone was panicking.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELSHI: The Pentagon says that Russia initially had announced that it had carried out a successful strike. But once reports of the civilian massacre begin to emerge, Russia claimed that in fact, Ukraine had bombed its own citizens to make Russia look bad.

A senior U.S. defense official says the United States is not buying that. And frankly, no one capable of critical thought is.

Tonight, Ukraine`s president called the train attack another war crime of Russia. He said quote, like the massacre in Bucha, like many other Russian war crimes, the missile strike on Kramatorsk must be one of the charges are the tribunal which is bound to happen.

He said he discussed this today with the president of the European Commission who traveled to Kyiv to meet with President Zelenskyy in person. She also traveled to the suburb of Bucha where she was shown a mass grave of civilians left behind by retreating Russian troops. She was visibly shocked by what she saw.

Today, Ukrainians forensic investigators began exhuming the mass grave in Bucha. Local prosecutors offices say that so far they have exam 20 bodies. Two women have been identified, one of whom worked at a supermarket in the town center. The prosecutor says they have witnesses that can confirm that they were killed by Russian forces.

In the nearby town of Borodyanka, the search continues for bodies in the apartment building that was destroyed from Russians shelling. Ukrainian officials say they expect the death toll there to be higher than that of Bucha. It may take a long time to recover all of the bodies.

This woman said all the bodies of her children were taken out. She does not know how to tell her grandchildren that their parents are dead.

And of course, every new atrocity is piled atop all of the others that have marked these weeks of war. Today, "The Associated Press" was able to get inside of this theater in the southeastern city of Mariupol. For the first time since it was bombed by the Russians over three weeks ago. Hundreds of Ukrainian civilians were sheltering inside when it was struck, and Ukraine says, 300 people died in the Russian attack.

Russia bombed the theater, even though the word children was written in Russian on both sides of the building on the ground large enough to be seen from the sky.

And now, today, the attack on the rail station in Kramatorsk where thousands of civilians were gathered just taking a path to safety. We will be joined in just a moment by someone who was on the scene of the attack. He is the CEO of Chef Jose Andres` World Central Kitchen, and when the missile struck, he was minutes away. He was getting supplies from a food distribution operation that they were planning to set up at the station tomorrow.

We will give you a sense of what the Kramatorsk train station was like before the attack. I want to show you the video that he made from the station just yesterday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NATE MOOK, CEO, WORLD CENTRAL KITCHEN: Hi guys, this is Nate. I am here at the Kramatorsk railway station. There are thousands of people here that are waiting to get on trains to flee the city. The trains are free for everybody, but there is no guarantee when you get on today, they have been prioritizing seniors, and women, and children to make sure that they can get out first.

There is multiple trains, different cities, throughout the day. So, people that cannot get on the earlier train, they can get on a later train.

The World Central Kitchen team is going to be setting up a tent here to support with coffee, tea, pastries, as people were waiting quite a while. This is on the inside near the tracks, but back through the station on the outside of the train station there are hundreds and hundreds of people that are waiting just to get into this area.

Despite the thousands of people that are here, it is actually pretty amazingly well-organized, and controlled. People are mostly remaining calm, although everybody is tense right now. There are rumors of attacks that are happening outside of the city, so people are rightfully nervous, and they are trying to get out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELSHI: And I have been to a transition in every city from which I have reported over the last five weeks.

[21:10:02]

And they are all hubs of activity, in a way that a typical rail station in America or Europe isn`t. There are places where you see organizations like World Central Kitchen, Red Cross, UNICEF, UNHCR, they feel like safe havens in a way. They are the modern-day village square.

And I think it is really important to keep in mind that it is important to not just show pictures of the destruction, but what it was there before the attack. To give you some perspective on the scale and the horror of what took place before, during, and after this attack on the civilian train station in Kramatorsk, World Central Kitchen was there.

And now to tell us his firsthand account, we are joined by Nate Mook. He is the CEO of World Central Kitchen. He is a vital witness to what took place in Kramatorsk.

Nate, thank you for being with us again.

You -- as we just showed, were at the station before the attack, you were nearby when the attack happened, and then you went to the station literally to bear witness. Tell us what you heard, and what you saw when you went back after you heard the explosion.

MOOK: Yes. Thank you so much, Ali. We were just a couple of minutes away at our warehouses, as you said, picking up flour to take to a bakery that was actually in the middle, preparing baked goods that we had planned to serve at the station later today, tomorrow, and in the coming days.

This is something we have done in many cities around Ukraine, to support families as they are either leaving a city in the, east and heading to the west, or arriving to a city like Lviv.

So just a couple of minutes away, we heard the booms happening. They shake your insides, you know. These are deep booms. You know something bad is happening. Shortly thereafter, I have got a text saying the railway had been hit.

So we headed over there, both to see with the situation was, to see if we could help, and also to see how this, how World Central Kitchen operation will be affected. We have been receiving a lot of food coming in by cargo wagon on the railway. The railways have been the lifelines of this country.

And the situation was completely devastating. It was catastrophic.

VELSHI: Nate, I think it is important to emphasize that while this is a supply line, and you and I spoke last week about how you get supplies from World Central Kitchen, this was a civilian train station. It is not a military asset.

Tell us more about the people who were in the background of the video that you shot, who`ve been at the station in the past few days while you were there, and the people who are likely there when this missile hit.

MOOK: Yeah. We had spent quite a bit of time at the railway station over the last few days. We had been here thousands of people are at that station, getting on these amazing evacuation trains that are run by the railways to get people out. It is mostly mothers, their young children, infants, people and strollers.

There is a lot of seniors there as well. People with wheelchairs, people with disabilities, we sought railway workers helping people on their wheelchair up onto the trains as well. Those are the people that were this station.

There were no other military people there. There were no -- this was not a strategic location to strike. This was a strike solely on innocent civilians, women, children, grandparents.

And on both sides of the station, on the platform waiting, and also out front, what was so horrific about this attack was the scale at which the impact was hit. This was not one isolated area. The entirety of the station was hit. So people waiting in front, people along waiting in an area on the platform where there were tears for seniors, and intent, when we showed up the fire department had just been putting out fires in burning cars. There were people still in those cars as they were burning.

In the seating area, it was just complete devastation, and carnage. The amazing rescue services here, the emergency services here in Kramatorsk were very quick. They got people to the hospitals. But of course, just a scale of destruction by these missiles was just astounding.

VELSHI: Nate, I sort of alluded to the side the beginning. But I have been in train stations across eastern and central Europe, and in Ukraine. And I have seen World Central Kitchen that almost all of them. But they are not what our viewers would expect a translation to look like. There is the building, and the platform, and the trains, and then there are tense, and humanitarian aid, and translators, and all sorts of things going on.

Give us a sense of the importance of a train station like this. It is not simply a place to get on a train, these days.

MOOK: Absolutely. These train stations are really central hubs for the cities, and for the country as well.

[21:15:06]

I mean, the railway has been serving continuously in many ways, they had been a bit of a refuge for families. People have been living at the station as they either leave, or they come in.

I was just up in Kharkiv, which is a bit north of Kramatorsk, a big city in the east. Although it is under constant shelling, the railway station has not been attacked. There is this acceptance that these are places filled with innocent civilians, and Kramatorsk is no different. I mean, it was filled with families, it was filled with people providing different services.

There were, of course, people, a lot of volunteers. One of the volunteers that works closely with our lead on the ground here was killed today. This is very and ascend, tragic, tragic situation. Railway workers as well, the incredible, aerobic railroad workers that are there helping out families are also there.

And as we arrived, luggage was strewn about. And it was -- it was a scene that cannot be put into words how horrific it was.

VELSHI: Nate, thanks for this. This is a second time you and I have talked after an explosion. The last time, you weren`t even able to be on camera because we were supposed to be interviewing you, and the mission missile has just hit. Sorry we keep doing this, but thank you for your remarkable reporting. You are not a reporter, but you are bearing witness, and telling us what is going on.

Nate Mook is the CEO of World Central Kitchen. Please, Nate, stay safe and thank you for showing what you witnessed with us tonight.

MOOK: Thank you so much, Ali.

Much more to get to tonight, including an update on the weapons that are being sent to the frontline of Ukraine. We are going to talk with one of President Zelenskyy`s top aides about what`s this all means for the fight ahead.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[21:21:39]

VELSHI: Today, amid the station caused by the deadly attack at the train station in Kramatorsk, Ukraine, there was a greenlight given for military aid that Ukraine desperately needs. Its neighbors to the west, Slovakia, is sending Ukraine Soviet-era S300 long-range air defense systems. Now, this can shoot down cruise missiles and warplanes from hundreds of miles away.

Slovakia made the donation on the condition that it would quickly get a replacement. The U.S. says it`s going to send Slovakia a patriot battery, like the ones you see over here, with U.S. service members in the coming days.

The Patriot is an advanced surfaced system used by the U.S. and NATO allies to defend against enemy aircraft. The British government is also ramping up its military support, announcing a 100 million pound package that includes anti-tank missiles and portable air defense systems.

A speedy shipment of weapons could not come fast enough for Ukraine. U.S. and British intelligence say Russian forces have fully withdrawn from northern Ukraine, but the regrouping for a mass redeployment in the Donbas in the coming weeks.

Joining us now from Kyiv is Yevhen Yenin. He is Ukraine`s deputy first minister of internal affairs.

Mr. Yenin, thank you for being with us tonight, and I want to ask you about the weapons that Ukraine is asking for.

But before I do, I have to get your reaction to this deadly attack on the train station in Kramatorsk. What can you tell us?

YEVHEN YENIN, FIRST DEPUTY INTERIOR MINISTER OF UKRAINE: Of course, we can see this act as an act of genocide, as of unpredictable atrocity. As far as Russians directed their missile directly to the crowds of people who were waiting for that evacuation train. And at that time that, (INAUDIBLE) railway had been together around 1,000 people.

And unfortunately, the victims of this very crime have become mostly women and children, that were trying to help save their lives from occupants. Of course, we will take our utmost steps in order to bring criminals to justice. As occupants have to pay for this cynic war crime.

And with regards to the military assistance we urgently need, I`d like to mention, first of all, long range impact weapon systems, in particular large caliber artillery multiple launch rocket system, infantry fighting armored personnel carriers. All that should be supplied with massive amount of ammunition and spare parts.

This short list of requirements would allow us to continue degrading the demoralized Russian army, and compensate their air superiority, as well as quantitative predominance.

VELSHI: Let me just get into that a little bit, because your foreign minister was in Brussels talking to U.S. secretary of state and NATO allies. And he said he had three things on his list, weapons, weapons and weapons.

Every day, increasingly when we see these atrocities like we did in Kramatorsk today or Bucha on the weekend, you see more stuff happening, more countries who are either cutting off the gas and oil supplies, or more countries who are offering you some of the things you talked about.

What percentage of what your wish list looks like do you believe you are getting right now?

YENIN: It`s truly quite happy enjoying high-level support, not only political, from our strategic partners. But as you know, every day, what our best people, children, woman, and the best ever soldiers, and each day off our fight would cost us quite a loss. So, the sooner as possible would save additional lives of our people.

VELSHI: One of the most important things about this battle that has been going on is the presence, the daily presence of the president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, including his visit to Bucha. One of your jobs is coordinating security and his presence there.

Obviously, that`s a very big deal. Every time Volodymyr Zelenskyy is out in public, that`s a big issue. But you have weighed that it is a valuable thing to have him out there visible to the Ukrainian people in the world on a daily basis.

YENIN: Yeah. They do appreciate the daily presence of our president, who was quite brave to visit the most sensible places of our fight. And of course, it transcends greatly the morale of our troops, and that population as well. As we don`t need only to fight our enemy, we have to reach on, liberate cities, and villages to normal life.

Just this morning, I`ve been visiting the one with the most effective, affected cities of Kyiv region. That is, Borodyanka. It is 90 percent destroyed, and our rescue officers are doing their best to extract people from the ruins, houses and renew supplies of water, electricity and heating.

As people have to turn back to their homes and hour rescue service, together with police, checking with their houses -- unpleasant surprises led by the Russian federation. Like hand grenades, mines and other unpleasant tricks I`ve been mentioning.

VELSHI: Yevhen Yenin is Ukraine`s deputy first minister of internal affairs. Mr. Yenin, I know that your days are very long, and thank you for joining us tonight.

Up next, some much needed good news this Friday. Today, celebration of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson`s monumental Supreme Court confirmation, the long enduring line of history that led to this moment, right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[21:33:29]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT: If there is anyone out there who still doubt that America has a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer. It has been a long time coming. But tonight, because of what we did on this day in this election, at this defining moment, change has come to America.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELSHI: On the night of November 4th, 2008, Barack Obama became the first Black person elected to the highest office in the land. He reminded the country, on the world of what democracy makes possible, because of the people who got out to vote, who organized registration drives, stood in line for hours to cast their ballots. Because of them, change arrived.

The following year, President Obama nominated Ketanji Brown Jackson to the U.S. sentencing commission. Three years later, he nominated her to the federal bench. And today, on the White House south lawn, Judge Jackson reminded us of that history, with along with many others, many other building blocks helped lay the foundation for her Supreme Court confirmation.

[21:35:00]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JUDGE KETANJI BROWN JACKSON, SUPREME COURT JUSTICE-DESIGNATE: I am also ever buoyed by the leadership of generations past who helped light the way. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Justice Thurgood Marshall, and my personal heroin, Judge Constance Baker Motley.

They and so many others did the heavy lifting, and made this they possible. And for all of the top of this historic nomination, and now confirmation, I think of them as the true path breakers. I am just the very lucky first inheritor of the dream of liberty and justice for all.

No one does this on their own. The path was cleared for me, so that I might rise to this occasion. And in the poetic words of Dr. Maya Angelou, I do so now, while bringing the gifts my ancestors gave.

(APPLAUSE)

I -- I am the dream and the hope of the slave.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELSHI: Judge Jackson worked hard for this moment. She graduated from Harvard with honors twice, clerked for Justice Stephen Breyer, worked as a public defender and served as a judge for ten years. But she credited the path breakers who came before her, because their contributions to this moment are a matter of fact.

Constant Baker Motley, the first Black woman to sit on the federal judiciary. Motley worked on civil rights cases alongside Thurgood Marshall at the NAACP legal defense fund. Motley was integral to the outcome of Brown v. Board of Education, striking down the separate but equal doctrine. Judge Jackson`s own parents attended segregated schools.

Martin Luther King, the face and voice of the civil rights movement that Motley helped fight for in the courtroom.

Thurgood Marshall, the jurist who was confirmed, despite the objections of Southern segregationists in the Senate of the country`s first black Supreme Court justice in 1967, three years after the civil rights act passed.

All of that, and more, is the heavy lifting that Judge Jackson says made this day possible. All of those stories are intertwined in ways which make America a better democracy. They made the highest achievements in this country a little more accessible to anyone who dares to reach for them.

Because of what they did in their days, change came to America today. These games matter. They build overtime. They make the country able to live up to its ideals for the whole world to see, including our adversaries.

None of this history is far behind us. It was present today, as judge Jackson spoke in front of a House built by enslaved people.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JACKSON: It has taken 232 years, and 115 prior appointments for a black woman to be selected to serve on the Supreme Court in the United States.

(APPLAUSE)

But we have made it.

(APPLAUSE)

We have made it. All of us. All of us.

And our children are telling me that they see now more than ever but here in America, anything is possible.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELSHI: Joining us now is Martha S. Jones. She is a professor at John Hopkins University. The author of "Vanguard: How Black Women Broke Barriers, Won the Vote, and Insisted on Equity for All".

Professor, thank you for joining us tonight.

Judge Jackson made it a point to credit if you of the path breakers who came before her. But tell us a little bit more about what it took from people whose names we know, and from groups of Americans whose names we don`t know to achieve this moment.

MARTHA S. JONES, JOHNS HOPKINS UNVERSITY HISTORY PROFESSOR: One of the things she tells us is, I am the hope and the dream of the slave. And here, I feel her reaching all the way back to a figure like the great Sojourner Truth, born and slave, a champion for women`s rights, for anti-slavery, indeed judge Jackson`s reaching back to our earliest sheroes and this story, and bringing them along with her today.

VELSHI: President Biden said today that he once told the Chinese president that America can be defined by one word, and that word is possibilities. That echoed with President Obama was saying in the speech that he played from election night in November of 2008, and what Judge Jackson said today about what these moments signify about the strength of our democracy.

[21:40:12]

In this moment, when you moments like this tell Americans, and frankly the rest of the world about America`s identity as a democracy?

JONES: Well, certainly, we tell the world that we are still righteously struggling with our commitments with our ideals. Judge Jackson is someone who signals in a way, differently than President Obama, that we might be prepared as a nation to set aside both racism and sexism when it comes to national leadership. That is indeed it watershed moment.

VELSHI: Earlier this week, President Obama was talking to "The Atlantic" editor, Jeffrey Goldberg. And he said that if we can make democracy work, it matters on an international stage.

I just want to read his quote in which he says, if we can make democracy function where you look at this room and you have people from every corner of the globe, if we can figure out how to live together and treat each other with dignity, and respect, then others start feeling like, maybe it is possible in our country as well.

He said when we don`t do that in America, adversaries try to fill that gap.

JONES: Part of what President Obama is drawing on, I think, is the story of the Cold War, and Brown versus Board of Education, and how in that era, when the Soviets hold up to ridicule, racism, Jim Crow in the United States, Washington begins to listen, because it is not possible to win Black and Brown allies along the globe if we are indeed not respecting, and honoring our own Black and Brown citizens at home.

It is poignant that in this week, we are watching both the war in Ukraine, and this remarkable change at the U.S. Supreme Court. But they are not unrelated stories.

VELSHI: We are grateful for your time today, Professor Jones. Martha S. Jones is a professor at Johns Hopkins University. Thank you for sharing this with us.

Still ahead, Kremlin information or misinformation has gotten so pervasive that some Russian parents refused to believe that their own children are living through a war in Ukraine. My conversations with some of those young people is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[21:47:13]

VELSHI: We talked a lot on this show about the fact that Vladimir Putin`s government is hiding the truth of what`s going on here in Ukraine from everyday Russian citizens. Just yesterday, we heard the Kremlin spokesman say that the photos and the videos of the atrocities in Bucha another Ukrainian cities were all fake, staged by Ukraine and the West to make Russia look bad.

We also know that independent journalists within Russia cannot even call this war a war, without fear of potentially facing up to 15 years in prison. So what does that all mean for people inside Ukraine, who have family back in Russia, or in Russian occupied Crimea?

Their loved ones are hearing things from the Kremlin and state-run media they simply don`t line up with a reality of what they`re living through in real time.

I spoke to a few young people in this country about how the facts of this war are affecting their relationships with their immediate family.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VELSHI: You`re living in a war? And you talk to your mother who`s not here, and you have difficulty having this conversation with her. Tell me why.

KRISTINA FRIMOVA, UKRAINIAN RESIDENT WITH PARENTS IN RUSSIA: Because she believes in Russia. And she watches Russian TV. And she says that she doesn`t believe that it`s Russian troops are here, and that they are bombing our cities and killing our people. So that`s why.

VELSHI: So, what does she believe? Who does she think is bombing --

FRIMOVA: I think she doesn`t know where is the truth.

VELSHI: So, how do those conversations go with you because you`re in this war your frightened, she doesn`t really believe that what`s going on is happening. So what do you talk about?

FRIMOVA: She tries to talk about some thing else, not about war. She tries to ask me about my health, about weather, and other stuff. And I don`t like it.

VELSHI: Who have you gotten in your family who sees this differently?

ANNA ORLOVSKA, UKRAINIAN RESIDENT WITH PARENTS IN RUSSIA: So it started in 2014. And we have our relatives from here who moved to Russia, who lived in Russia. But today, they`re living in studying here. There are mixed, so part of the family`s from Russia, part of the family is here, but they now live in Russia.

So in 2014, 2015, when all the war started, they were calling us asking us what`s happening. So we told them about the notion that we would like to be in the EU, that we don`t want to be a part of Russia, we are not one nation.

[21:50:06]

And then, we just had a conversation, in a very impolite way, very are telling us that you are stupid. You are idiots. What are you doing, how much U.S. paid you to vote for Poroshenko.

VELSHI: Wow.

ORLOVSKA: In 2014.

VELSHI: And has anything improved in terms of those relationships since 2014 or has it gotten worse now?

ORLOVSKA: It`s gotten worse and we don`t talk to them.

VELSHI: Where are your parents right now?

ARTEM ZHUCHENKO, UKRAINIAN RESIDENT WITH PARENTS IN RUSSIA: Our parents are in (INAUDIBLE).

VELSHI: Tell me about how this conversation about this war goes with your parents.

ZHUCHENKO: So, we have difficult conversations that since 2014. We disagree on all the things. But at that point, we tell them a political debate because otherwise it was directly impacted by the war. We can just think, okay, we have different opinions. We just have to accept this.

So, we have a sort of taboo on certain topics, not to raise them. We had many fights and argued a lot. And on the 24th of February this year, wonderful scale invasion started, we just received a text from mom, how is it going if you are alive? And we were busy fleeing from Kyiv at that time.

Then once they arrived, I never had a real conversation with my mom. She is the most pro-Putin in our family. And she -- I think she also understands that the conversation now can harm both of us.

Speaking about my father who is more moderate views, he is someone how able to detect the escalator situation. He`s able to accept multiple points of view. But again, he has, as Kristina mentioned, drives to avoid any topics.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELSHI: Difficult conversations, and a reminder of why it`s important that the rest of the world sees what`s truly happening here in Ukraine.

When we come back, a few final thoughts, as I look back on our coverage over the past five weeks.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[21:57:04]

VELSHI: This is my last show with you for a while. I leave Ukraine in a couple of days. And I do so with a heavy heart, largely because of the suffering I have witnessed here, and on the part of the refugees that have met in Poland, and Hungary before I got here. But also because I have come to know a tiny percentage of the people of this nation, and I am deeply inspired by them.

They are showing the world would an existential fight for democracy looks like. This show decided when the war began that it was important to concentrate on the many aspects of this horror, and not has meant less coverage of some very important U.S. stories, which why MSNBC colleagues have done in incredible job of staying on top of, and holding power to account.

Those stories, like the continued attacks on voting rights, and abortion rights, and gay rights, and trans rights, and the ongoing brazen attempts to subvert American democracy, are not unrelated to the struggle for basic rights in this fledgling democracy of Ukraine. They just aren`t bombs and tanks and missiles and rockets involved at home. But the fundamental urges are the same. People yearn to be free. To love who they want, and live where they want, free of threat.

The other lesson with which I leave is that in the face of growing atrocities against innocent civilians here, war crimes and what many in this country including its president are calling an attempted genocide, the world needs to do better. Democracy and freedom are imperiled worldwide.

If it`s tough for NATO and the U.N. to prevent one country from actually invading another, and subverting its population, imagine the struggle our world order has with those countries in which portions of the population are persecuted by their own governments. Afghanistan, Syria, China, Myanmar, Israel, India, to name just a few, and there are many more.

And we, meaning the media, have to do better at covering vulnerable populations all over the world. We have given Ukraine and its 4 million refugees are full attention as we should. But we owe similar attention to the nearly 27 million other refugees in the world. We are worried for the six and a half million Ukrainians who have not fled the country, but have been forced, or scared out of their homes to elsewhere in Ukraine. Unbelievably, there are 48 million more such internally displaced people in the world.

Solving this is going to be hard, but while we fight for democracy in America, let`s keep fighting for those who are suffering from it today with their lives, all of them. Let`s keep them all in our hearts. Let`s look, let`s resist the urge to look away, even when it is hard. Watching this unfold is really hard.

I want to thank you for spending the last five weeks with me. Thank you to our amazing team here who has traveled with me through three countries to bring you these shows. And to Rachel`s incredible stuff back in New York for keeping this show`s DNA intact during these turbulent times.

But mostly, thank you to you, for allowing us to adopt a bit to give the beginning of this war the attention that it deserves. I am going to see you all back home in just a few days.

Now, it is time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL."

Good evening, my friend.