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Transcript: The ReidOut, 3/16/22

Guests: Oleksandra Ustinova, Eric Swalwell, Terrell Jermaine Starr, Naveed Jamali, Ilhan Omar


Zelenskyy asks for military aid in address to Congress. Zelenskyy shares images from Putin`s war. Zelensky urges Biden to be a leader of peace. Biden announces new military aid for Ukraine.




JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, everyone. We begin THE REIDOUT tonight with the American president making a damning declaration that Vladimir Putin is a war criminal. Putin is a war criminal.


JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: I think he is a war criminal.


REID: This comes after a bipartisan show of support for Ukraine on Capitol Hill today where Volodymyr Zelenskyy received a standing ovation after his impassioned address to Congress. As a former actor, who I should note, also holds a law degree, he demonstrated capacity for the performative aspects of leadership and persuasion, delivering an eloquent and urgent appeal not just to the U.S. government but to the American people.

In the stirring speech, Zelensky invoked Pearl Harbor and 9/11, and he riffed on the words of Reverend Martin Luther King Junior as he pleaded for more help.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT: This is a terror that Europe has not seen for 80 years and we are asking for a reply, for an answer to this terror from the whole world. I have a dream. These words are known to each of you today, I can say. I have a need. I need to protect our sky. I need your decision, your help in the darkest time for our country, for the whole Europe. I call on you to do more.


REID: Among other things, Zelenskyy called again for more military aid, more sanctions on Russia, as well as a no fly zone. And his message to close the sky was amplified by a dramatic video he shared, which I should warn you, is graphic. That video showed the heartbreaking results of Russia`s needless aggression portraying how Putin`s deadly onslaught has taken thousands of innocent lives and displaced millions more, transforming his once thriving country into a wasteland of destruction.

Zelenskyy then switched from Ukrainian to English, concluding his remarks, by calling on President Biden to lead the world by pushing for peace.


ZELENSKYY: President Biden, you are the leader of the nation of your great nation. I wish you to be the leader of the world. Being the leader of the world means to be the leader of peace. Thank you.


REID: Shortly thereafter, Biden announced that the U.S. is committing another $800 million in military aid to Ukraine. And while a no-fly zone is a nonstarter for obvious reasons, that package includes more anti-aircraft and anti-armor weapon systems, as well as small arms and ammunition.

Here is President Biden today.


BIDEN: The United States and our allies and partners are fully committed to surging weapons of assistance to the Ukrainians, and more will be coming as we source additional stocks of equipment that are ready to transfer.

This is a struggle that pits the appetites of an autocrat against human kind`s desire to be free. And let there be no doubt, no uncertainty, no question America stands with the forces of freedom.


REID: Today`s aid package also includes a new weapon some that could give Ukraine the tactical advantage they need to turn the tide. As NBC News reports, the administration is sending U.S.-made killer drones, called switchblades, which are described as cutting edge guided missiles that can accurately target Russian missiles from miles away. They are small and lightweight enough to launch from a tube and are also known as loitering missiles because they can be steered around an object until the right time to strike.

And though the U.S. is providing only 100 at the moment, that kind of technology could be a game changer for Ukrainian forces. It would appear that the aid package today is consistent with President Biden`s view that more overt involvement by the U.S. could backfire and widen the conflict.

But while Zelenskyy was asked about that concern in an interview with NBC`s Lester Holt, he chillingly suggested that another world war might already be upon us.


LESTER HOLT, NBC NEWS ANCHOR: President Biden has been very clear he`s worried about provocations that could trigger World War III. Do you understand his concern there and do you agree that it wouldn`t take much to end up in World War III?

ZELENSKYY: Well, nobody knows whether it may have already started. Nobody would be able to predict when the full-scale war would start and how it will end, who will put an end to that. In this case, we have the whole civilization at stake.


REID: Joining me now is Congressman Eric Swalwell of California and Oleksandra Ustinova, a member of the Ukrainian Parliament.


And I want to start with you, Minister Ustinova. So, this was an obviously stirring speech. I think your president has the vast majority of the United States well on his side, most of Americans are well on the side of Ukrainians. But you`ve been here in this country talking with members of Congress, talking with people in the House and Senate since this war began. I know you have family back home. So, this is personal, obviously, this is your country at stake.

Do you think that -- do you feel that the U.S. has been sufficiently persuaded to give Ukraine what it needs given what you heard from the president today?

OLEKSANDRA USTINOVA, UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT MEMBER: So, the first package of sanctions, when it came out, to be honest, Ukrainians were disappointed because we did not have the arms we need to fight. We didn`t have the economic sanctions. There was an exemption for oil and gas, which is fixed now, and there was not enough banking sanctions, because there were 7 out of 300 banks on the SWIFT list that were cut off, the SWIFT.

It`s getting better now because I think we had proof as Ukrainians to the whole world that we can fight. And we`re not going to leave. We`re not going to surrender. And our president is staying, the parliament is staying, the government in Kyiv and we will fight until the last blood.

The support we receive today, this package that President Biden announced, it is very helpful but this is not enough. I`ll be honest with you. We keep asking for the jets. I will explain so what it means. So, we can stop Putin on the ground. So, we`ve been very effective fighting their tanks, their vehicles, their army. But, unfortunately, the biggest problem for us is the sky, and that`s why the president and every Ukrainian keeps begging for the no-fly zone.

You won`t believe it but every kid in Ukraine knows what a no-fly zone is. We had 1,000 people shelled. It was women and children hiding in the bomb shelter shelled to death. We cannot even get them out in Mariupol city, 1,000 people with one bomb. To stop the bombs, we have to stop the jets. Jets can be stopped with jets. You cannot stop a jet with a Javelin or a Stinger or a Drone. You need another plane to shoot the plane.

Also, we have a big problem with the missiles coming. So, missiles against missiles are only the air defense system that can be used. So we keep asking for both. We need the air defense system for protection, like S-300 that the president announced today, and we need the jets, like MiGs or like SU-25, that we know how to fly, we`re flying them now, to put down their airplanes so they don`t bomb our children, they don`t bomb our women.

REID: And, Congressman Swalwell, you`ve heard that, and I know that you`ve obviously heard the appeals as well. You were in the well of Congress to hear the stirring speech by President Zelenskyy. And when he`s saying, close the skies, that`s what he means, what you just heard this wonderful young woman, this M.P. described. I think for a lot of Americans, they can`t understand why we wouldn`t just hand over the jets. If that`s what they mean, why don`t we just give it to them?

REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA): We should give them the jets. We should give them the tools to effectively enforce their own no-fly zone. So, anti- aircraft capabilities, we`ve given a billion dollars a year to Israel to have iron domes so they don`t have rockets landing in their country. We should give them equivalent technology so they can do that, as well. So, yes, give them the jets.

I`m a father of three kids in diapers and it was incredibly hard for me to sit there and anyone to sit there, parent or not, and see innocent women and children under the rubble of Vladimir Putin`s bombs. And so let`s help them protect their citizens, stay in the fight. Don`t tell me in your comfortable office 10,000 miles away that you know better than President Zelenskyy what he needs to protect his people and to protect freedom.

REID: Minister Ustinova?

USTINOVA: Well, thank you so much for your support because this is exactly what I`ve been hearing on the Hill and Congress, the Senate has been very supportive. But, unfortunately, when it comes to action and to actually delivering or announcing, we don`t see the jets there. Even if you see the list announced today, you don`t see the jets. So, we will still have problems with the jets bombing.

There are 500 kilogram jets, I don`t know in pounds, multiply it by half. These are the huge bombs that are being now put on our cities. They are forbidden by the Geneva Convention and they`re just killing thousands of people with one bomb. So, until we don`t have the jets, we cannot stop that.

So, we are grateful for what is coming, we are grateful for the Javelins, we will fight with that. It takes 20, 30 minutes for our soldiers that used to be, I don`t know, managers or I.T. guys that are now in the territorial defense fighting. I have a friend of mine. He is an actor. And now he is going around with a Javelin fighting.

REID: The ballerinas are fighting.

USTINOVA: Yes, putting down the tanks.

So, this was very helpful. The drones are helpful because they can work on the columns that we can see stuck there in the middle of nowhere and they`re running out of fuel, they`re running out of food and water.


But to shut down the sky, because the new strategy Putin has picked up is to kill as many civilians as he can so we would negotiate, so we would surrender. We`re not doing that.

And, unfortunately, we have more and more people die every day. He uses children, women as the human shields for his army. Every time we are sending have the convoy to take children and women out of the occupied cities, they wouldn`t let us go. They killed the volunteers that are trying to bring food and water.

So, it`s not even about being a criminal, war criminal anymore. This is about the genocide. He literally wants to kill the Ukrainian nation. And that`s what he`s been declaring before. He kept saying we have to do a total de-Nazification, which means we have 40 million of people who are Nazis and we have to, what, 40 million have to commit a collective suicide or something?

So, we keep asking for these jets. And every time I go on the Hill or is speak to someone, and people keep telling me, well, if one of the jets is being hit, that might be an escalation, we don`t want to escalate. So, my question is, where is the red line for you for this escalation because Putin keeps escalating. He keeps going as far as you let him go. He kills children. He kills women. They have been raped and then they have been killed. He is destroying the city. All the cities that basically have the biggest cities in the middle of Europe.

and you keep saying we don`t want to escalate given the jets for protection. We`re not asking you to fight for us. We can do it on our own. We have our own pilots. We have still a few of our own jets that we use but we need these jets to protect our children.

And when you`re telling me this is an escalation, I keep asking your parliamentarians, what is the red line for you? How many children have to die for us to get the jets? How many people have to die? How many civilians? What is the red line for you? Because he keeps stepping the red line, if you do this, that`s going to be an escalation. You should be the one telling him, if you kill one more child in Ukraine, we`re giving them the jets to fight, to put down your airplanes.

And this is a totally different conversation that we`re talking about because we are protecting not only our country. We are protecting democracy right now from this evil in the world. He`s not going to stop in Ukraine. And our Baltic countries know that, Poland knows that. That`s why they`re so supportive and they`re eager to provide us with the weapons they have. But they keep asking the United States, please replace it, at least partially because if Ukraine goes down, we are going to be next.

REID: Yes. And here is the question I have been for you, Congressman, what is it going to take to actually get us to do it. Because Poland has said they`re willing to give up the jets they have but they want the U.S. to transport them. A, I don`t understand that. They`re right there. Why don`t they do it? But, number two, do we have leverage to get Poland to just hand them over with a promise to replace them from the United States or is there some other way for us to simply do what it seems like the majority of the people in Congress or at least who are talking to the M.P. here are telling them that they want to do. How do we get it done?

SWALWELL: We can do it, Joy. And there is a meme or TikTok video talking about logistics. Like you`re telling me logistics, that`s what`s standing between innocent babies and mothers and Ukraine, as we can`t figure out the logistics. Where all the capabilities, the U.S. and NATO countries have, we can`t give jets to pilots who are able to fly them? We can do it.

The parliamentarian and her colleagues are inspiring. They`re putting it in front of us and I hope that the pressure is pushed up from members of Congress to the administration. And, look, President Zelenskyy and the people of Ukraine have met the moment for their country. Now, the question is, will we meet the moment as a leader, a global leader to help Ukraine fight Vladimir Putin, to defeat what he`s doing in Ukraine and stand up for democracy?

REID: I`m going to give you the last word here, Minister Ustinova, because the other thing that`s been on the table sort of circulating, this allegation that there are peace negotiations, peace negotiations, I don`t know how you negotiate peace with a madman, but the idea that Ukraine would vow to never want to join NATO strikes me as something that would be a significant win for Putin. Is that something you can foresee happening?

USTINOVA: You should understand that in 2014, when he invaded Ukraine the first time and he partially occupied -- he took Crimea, he took Donbas, we were a neutral country. We had nothing to do with NATO and it was not on the table even. So, this is one of the arguments, one of the demands he keeps coming up with, which has nothing to do with reality. It`s the same like a total demilitarization of the country. So, we give up the weapons and you come over and shoot us, or a total de-Nazification, 40 million people have to commit suicide.

So, it`s not about NATO. It`s about Putin being sick.


And everybody can see that he actually did go nuts and he just wants to invade as many countries as he can. And so if we don`t stop him now in Ukraine, he will go further. And the next would be the NATO countries. And one day, you will have to step in.

So, we keep telling you, it`s better to stop him now in Ukraine and help us do that because, we already know how the fight him. We`ve been fighting this guy for eight years. Unfortunately, if we had the same sanctions eight years ago when he invaded Crimea, when he invaded Donbas, probably what happened today wouldn`t have happened. Well, this moment is missed.

Unfortunately, we see what we see now. We`re in a full scale war. So, we need support in the war and that`s what the Congressman saying. We can give these MiGs. We can give these jets. The problem is the political decision that needs to be done.

And for those who are taking decision, my question, where is your red line? As the world leader, as a human being, how many people have to die for us to get the jets so stop killing our kids and our innocent people?

REID: Yes, that is the question of the day. Thank you so much for being here. We`re with you. I can tell you, where this little tiny nation of THE REIDOUT stands with. We`ll see what happens in Congress.

Thank you, Congressman Eric Swalwell and Oleksandra Ustinova. Thank you and God bless, indeed.

Up next on THE REIDOUT, the unrelenting atrocities as Russia continues strikes civilian targets.

Meanwhile, Russians are facing the consequences of Putin`s actions as their economy circles the drain.

Also, Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, who was once a refugee herself, joins me on the enormous humanitarian crisis and a psychological trauma that comes from being forced from your home and country.

Plus, the incredible courage of Marina Ovsyannikova after her protest on Russian state T.V., she is speaking out again.

THE REIDOUT continues after this.



REID: At the same time, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was pleading to President Biden in Congress for more help, all across Ukraine, Russian forces continue their deadly assault against the civilian population.

In Ukraine`s capital of Kyiv, which is in the middle of a 35-hour curfew, residential buildings continue to be hit with Russian strikes. The mayor of Kyiv, for boxing champion Vitali Klitschko, had this bold response to the Russian attacks.


QUESTION: Putin says he`s only targeting military targets.


Sorry. Where is military target? This building is military target?


REID: In the southern city of Mariupol, Russian troops seized a hospital. Zelenskyy said Russians took more than 400 people hostage, including patients and doctors that are using the hospital as a military position to shell the city.

A theater in Mariupol was also destroyed. The Ukrainian foreign minister said hundreds of civilians were sheltering inside. No word yet on the number of casualties.

With each passing hour the death toll continues to rise. In some places families have been told to leave their dead outside in the street because it`s too dangerous to hold funerals. The bodies are being buried in mass graves, including children. The youngest still had an umbilical stump attached, according to the Associated Press.

With me now, NBC News correspondent Cal Perry live in Lviv. Also in live, Terrell Jermaine Starr, nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council`s Eurasia Center and host of the "Black Diplomats" podcast.

Thank you both for being here.

Cal, I`m going to start with you to get a sense of what`s going on in Lviv. We had come to think of Lviv as a safe place now. But now it seems that no place is safe.

CAL PERRY, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, and we had airstrikes sort of near here about an hour away four days ago. This was that airfield.

And I think it changed the tone here. You do have hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing from the east. And many are settling here in the city of Lviv, and the city is slowly running out of space. And so others are making that push to the border.

But what people are fleeing is truly the worst that humanity has to offer. You`re talking about the city of Mariupol. This is a city that has now been under siege for more than 10 days. It was a week ago when the president first announced that a little girl there had died of dehydration. And the situation has seemingly gotten so much worse.

You talk about that theater. It`s possible that 1,000 civilians were in that theater when it was hit. The entranceway to that theater, we`re told by local officials, has collapsed, so rescuers are not able to get into that building.

And I just want to walk you through a couple other attacks, because they`re very emblematic of what civilians are dealing with and how bad the situation is. Just north of Mariupol, in Zaporizhzhia, there`s a community center in the center of that city that civilians use to check the names of family members fleeing the east. It`s a place where people are going to find out if their family members have gotten out.

Well, the intersections in that city were bombed by Russians as civilians were making their way out, clearly directly targeting civilians. And we have heard this from British military officials, from the U.S. State Department, that they`re targeting civilians as they`re leaving.

And then, in Chernihiv, north of Kyiv, we had civilians waiting in a breadline, just waiting for food, as these cities are now starting to run out of food. And according to the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv, they were opened up indiscriminately on by the Russians, that they were -- quote -- "fired upon."

And state television here is running that right now as the lead story, because there are bodies in the streets of dead civilians. And in many of these towns, as you`re saying, certainly places like Mariupol, places like Kharkiv, those bodies are remaining in the streets because the shelling is so intense, that people cannot get simply above ground for long enough to carry out funerals, Joy.

REID: It`s horrific.

Terrell, let me bring you in here, my friend. I know you -- I have known you for a long time. And I know that you have a special relationship with Ukraine. You have been going there for as long as I have known you and long before that.

You were involved in personally trying to help some folks get out. Talk about the complexities of at this stage trying to get out of some of that cities, where as Cal just said, the Russians are attacking people as they`re trying to flee.


TERRELL JERMAINE STARR, HOST, "BLACK DIPLOMATS": First, yes, thanks for having me on the show.

So, yes, we -- I have helped two families so far, in addition to a third one indirectly.How difficult is it? If you`re in the northwest, for example, Brovary, it`s a suburb of Kyiv. And so they -- the family that we took out, they were in the shelter for three days. They were -- after constant bombing and attacks. The Russians were close there.

First of all, it`s psychological. When we picked up the family, they essentially were following us around like ducks, because they were so traumatized. And so if they do escape physically unscathed, psychologically, they carry that trauma with them during it.

And then also getting across the country is also pretty difficult, because you have got dozens upon dozens of checkpoints. You have to know where to go. The south of Kyiv is pretty much open. Then you have go West, which adds hours, even days to your travel again.

Then there are no accommodations available. And so the reason why I have been able to get accommodations for myself or the families that we were helping is because of my support on Twitter, asking folks, hey, I`m going to be at this location at this particular time. Can someone help me?

And someone`s grandma, someone`s cousin, someone`s brother is able to help us out. Also, in even getting the families across, you have to keep in mind that, if there`s a man that`s a part of that family, they have to stay behind. So the man usually goes to the border. They have to send their wife and children off, because men between the ages of 18 and 60 have to be here to fight.

So, trips that take eight hours, 12 hours usually take 10 days. Accommodations are limited. And it`s just physically taxing, particularly if the person is older. And it`s psychologically taxing. Once they get over to the border and into the hands of a humanitarian organization, the psychological trauma of what they have experienced is another aspect that is going to be ongoing.

REID: And to stay with you just for a minute, Terrell, because I think people forget just how huge Ukraine is.

I mean, this is a big, big country. If you sat it on top of the United States, it would span like much of the East Coast and like out to Tennessee. It`s huge. So, physically getting across -- you`re talking about how difficult it is to go across. Are people able to -- how are people physically moving?

I mean, we know that trains are being attacked. I`m sure people are using personal cars. Like, physically, how are people getting out? How are people getting west?

STARR: OK, that`s another good question.

So, if you can`t -- keep in mind that these trains, which, I think as you know and other folks know, I used these trains all the time to get across the country. Now, if you can afford to get into a car, I would recommend that, because, sometimes, you don`t even know if you will be able to get the spot on the train, because the government offered those trains for free going towards the border.

But, also, if the train -- if the train is not available, people take the car, but, again, you have to have the luxury of having a vehicle. And so, in addition to your day -- days being added to a trip that will ordinarily take half-a-day, you have to consider the fact that there is a -- you have to have gas for that. And that costs money.

So, this is actually pretty expensive. So, one tank of gas, you have to times that four or five or six tanks of gas,. And people don`t budget for war. And so people -- again, for a lot of folks, if you`re elderly, it`s very difficult to get across. And some people just stay, because -- they stay there because they really don`t -- because their bodies are too weak to handle the trip.

Now, fortunately -- and I will close out with the person who had cancer. She was just in a particular state where she was able to be transported. But there are some people who are so sick that they choose to stay and sometimes don`t even go into bomb shelters, because they feel that they will -- if the building is hit, they feel like they will be buried under the rubble.

And so people are just making very difficult life choices under these circumstances.

REID: Yes, it`s tough.

Cal Perry, Terrell Jermaine Starr, whew. Thank you very much. Really appreciate you both.

Up next: Tightening sanctions means Russia is now facing the prospect of its first foreign currency default debt in more -- I mean, debt default -- in more than a century.

We will be right back.



REID: In addition to the $800 million in military support for Ukraine, the U.S. government is ratcheting up pressure on Russian oligarchs, with Andrew Adams, the top DOJ prosecutor, hunting oligarchs` money, warning that he will use every tool available to track them down.

Adams told NBC there will be -- there will be -- there will not be an escape hatch around the sanctions through money laundering and opaque financial networks. This comes as Russia is facing possible default, with the money they use to make debt payments today frozen under sanctions.

There is a 30-day grace period before they actually fall into default, but, if that payment is rejected, it will be the first sovereign default on foreign currency debt since the Bolshevik Revolution in 1918.

I`m joined now by former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul and Naveed Jamali, editor at "Newsweek" and former FBI double agent and author of "How to Catch A Russian Spy."

Ambassador McFaul, what would that mean, in your view, if Russia were to default on its debt? I mean, I have heard everything from they were -- they`re looking to maybe sell off gold reserves. It sounds pretty dire. But what would that mean sort of big picture if that were to happen?

MICHAEL MCFAUL, NBC NEWS INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, it would look something like what happened in Russia in August 1998, when they did defaults on other kinds of debt.


The ruble lost 70 percent of its value. The stock market basically crashed. So, if your stock was worth a ruble, by the end of this period, it was worth about five kopecks. And it was a really hard time. And it took years for them to recover.

And that -- people that I talk to in Moscow worry that that`s where they`re headed, to a second financial crash on the scale that they had in August 1998.

REID: And I guess the burning question then -- and this is always the question -- I feel like I ask it every time you`re on -- is, does that then move anything?

Because it does seem -- I mean, today, Putin did this completely unhinged, sort of existential, manic rant, where he talked about the oligarchs. And you have talked about the fact that he that he hates some of them. Well, he sure does. He called them traitors...


REID: ... and almost sounded like he`s preparing for a purge inside of Russia.

Rather than empathizing with their new financial plight and the sanctions that are crippling them and crippling his people, he`s railing against these people, saying, oh, they have got condos in Miami. To hell with them.

Do you think that a complete financial collapse, a complete financial collapse, changes anything in terms of the support he has or his ability to can stay in control?

MCFAUL: Well, Joy, I listened to that rant in Russian. And it was quite extraordinary, even by Putin`s standards.

He`s getting more and more angry and unhinged. And I`m glad you pointed out we know we did talk about it a few weeks ago. And people were all saying, oh, isn`t it great that they`re seizing the assets of the oligarchs, and they`re going to put pressure on Putin?

And you just saw what Putin thinks of those people. He doesn`t respect them. He doesn`t like them. Some of them, by the way, are family members of people that are close to him. But let`s set that aside. But you have seen that he`s turning this into, it`s black and white, you`re either with us or you`re against us.

He was talking about in that rant the fifth column that is pro-democratic opposition figures inside Russia he now considers an enemy. And I do think this could be the signs that there are going to be crackdowns on some of these people and some of their assets inside Russia as well.

And I don`t know what it means. I want to be honest with you, I don`t know when there comes a point where it`s too much, and you start to see resignations. That`s what I would look for. I would look for resignations, for instance, from the head of the Russian Central Bank.

I know her. I used to know her. There`s no way she supports this war. That would be a sign that things are falling apart. The head of SberBank, Herman Gref is his name. That`s the largest state-owned bank in Russia. If they walked away, that would signal to me that there`s starting to be splits within the ruling regime.

But we haven`t seen that yet.

REID: Yes, let me just read a little bit of this for those of you who didn`t see it. It flashed on the screen, but I will read it.

"I`m not judging those with villas in Miami or the French Riviera, those who can`t live without foie gras, oysters, or the so-called gender freedom. This is not the problem. The problem is, some of these people are there mentally, not here with our people, not with Russia," all right, blah, blah, blah, "especially Russian people, the true patriots," bluh, bluh, bluh, bluh.

But there`s another sort of piece of interesting data that I want to give for you, Naveed Jamali, because CNN interviewed some of these downed Russian troops. They have some interesting things to say too. And this is what some of these prisoners of war in Ukraine at least said to CNN.

"I want to tell our commander in chief to stop terror acts in Ukraine, because, when we come back, we will rise against him. You won`t hide this for long. There are many like us here. Sooner or later, we will come home."

In a CNN private interview, one of them said: "The crimes that we committed, we will all be judged." These are public interviews and interviews that were given directly to CNN.

It may be questionable that they sort of appeared under the Geneva Conventions to have them speaking as prisoners of war. So that`s a little bit sketchy. But the fact is that they sound like the kind of troops that Putin should be worried about, no?


We were talking to some -- and I`m sure Mike can agree with this. Literally, before the invasion, Joy, to give you an idea what we were hearing directly from sources in Russia was that there was this belief that -- in some of the legislators, that 70 percent of the Ukrainian officer corps would defect, that they would be treated with open arms as, like, liberators.

And that`s truly, I think, what some of the Russians believed, and I think they were disheartened. They`re not doing well. I mean, it`s clear that the Russian military is not doing well. They have committed at this point -- if you can imagine, 100 percent of the troops that were deployed along the border are now in Ukraine, and in some estimates, they have lost up to 10 percent, 10 percent of those troops.

You think that`s not going to affect morale, and not to mention that they`re asking China for MREs? China?

REID: Yes.

JAMALI: I mean, this is not going well for the average foot soldier.

And I think that that absolutely is going to have an impact. Look, we have seen it here with veterans who are advocates. And, look, maybe activism in terms of veterans looks different in Russia, but, nonetheless, these soldiers are going to come back knowing that they were lied to, that they were sent unprepared, that they were sent into a conflict that they expected to be seen as liberators, and it was anything but.


So, yes, I do think that, as the ambassador is saying, Putin is feeling some real pressure from the bottom rungs, but also from the top. And I think that that`s just an example of where Russia is with this. It`s Putin alone. Let`s be honest.

REID: Kind of smells like Vietnam, but even worse.

OK. Well, Michael and Naveed are going to stick with us, because coming up next, how the incredible courage of Russian anti-war protesters is casting America`s right-wing Putin enablers and their over-the-top rhetoric in a whole new light.

We will be right back.


REID: I`m back with Michael McFaul and Naveed Jamali.

Gentlemen, I want to play for you a little bit of President Zelenskyy`s interview with Lester Holt.


And this is about these alleged peace negotiations.

Oh, OK. Well, I`m going to hold off on that.

Let me just ask you, Ambassador McFaul, what you make of just what we`re hearing about the supposed contours of this?

Oh, we have it. Here it is. Play it. We`re going to play it.


LESTER HOLT, NBC ANCHOR: There`s been some reporting that the framework of a deal is being hammered out, one in which you would renounce NATO ambitions, declare neutrality, not allow foreign militaries to base on your land.

Can you confirm any of that and update us on the status of negotiations?

VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): The negotiations are still in progress. The negotiations are fairly difficult.

And the current conditions of negotiation, I would say, it continues. Any war could be finished at the table of negotiations.


REID: Ambassador McFaul, what do you make of all of that? I mean, you have written an op-ed saying, hey, the best negotiations are give them more military stuff.

MCFAUL: Well, I`d say two things.

Wars tend to end in two ways. Either one side wins or there`s a stalemate. And right now, there`s not a stalemate. You were discussing earlier that 10 percent of their forces, I think, were mentioned last -- in the last segment might have been destroyed. That`s a fantastic victory.

But 100 percent minus 10 means that 90 percent of Putin`s forces are still at his disposal, right? And as he continues to attack and make incremental gains, there`s not a stalemate on the battlefield. And so I`m not optimistic that there will be a negotiation until there is a stalemate.

But there`s another very important point to remember about what is going on here. They are saying these things about negotiations, so that they stop us from giving more weapons to Mr. Zelenskyy, right, because we don`t want to escalate, right? Maybe we better not give them those weapons right now, because peace is going to break out.

And I would say, until that gentlemen, Mr. Putin, says that he`s interested in negotiations, this is all premature for now.

REID: And, Naveed, it strikes me that the worst thing we could do is just not give them the -- I mean, if you give them the weapons, and you don`t concede NATO membership ever, that seems like more of a deterrent, because, if Ukraine were to completely become a demilitarized country, wouldn`t that just invite Putin to come in and lop off more chunks of Ukraine?

That`s what they have been doing since 2014.

JAMALI: Yes, I mean, can anyone actually with a straight face expect Putin to be an honest broker in this? No. The answer is no.

And, look, I just want to say, first of all, I respect President Zelenskyy even more as a man who`s negotiating with a beard and no tie. I mean, that`s -- this is the kind of bravado that we need in the face of Putin.

And I don`t say that jokingly. I think that there is something. Besides the fact that we`re promising a billion dollars in aid, there is something about President Zelenskyy that really motivates not just his countrymen, but the entire world.

And I think Putin genuinely, genuinely despises that. I think Putin was looking at Ukraine as this sort of ego vanity project. And he`s put up against this man who is besting him in a T-shirt, literally.

REID: Yes.

JAMALI: And I think that that frustrated Putin.

So I don`t know that, even if -- to the ambassador`s point, even if we give them, which we should -- we should continue to arm the Ukrainians. But even if we pull out, if the Russians pull out, do we really have confidence that we`re not going to be back here in a year, two years, three years?

As long as Putin is there, and as long as Ukraine is in a weakened state, which is what Putin seeks, this will just return back to where it is today.

REID: You know, and, Ambassador McFaul, here`s the challenge, that Putin isn`t just doing this here. He`s still in Syria backing acts of violence. He`s got his Wagner militias all over the continent of Africa.

He`s been doing this for -- and getting away with it for a long time. Does this now call into question whether NATO needs to change? Because NATO is been quite ineffective. The first thing they have done is say, leave us out of it. Even Poland won`t even just transfer the damn jets over their border, right, because they want us to do it.

Does this call into question whether NATO needs to change the way it is structured, the way it operates? If they`re not going to let Ukraine in, maybe they need to create some other new sort of special category, because they obviously need more than just some sort of promise of future defense.

MCFAUL: Well, I think NATO is changing, literally, in the weeks we have been seeing it. And that`s the good news.

Before this war -- and, remember, during the Trump administration, we had a lot of tensions within the NATO alliance. There were some people worried that it was going to fall apart. That`s not the case anymore.

I think everybody understands now, every NATO member understands why we need NATO. By the way, thank goodness we did expand NATO. Remember that silly debate that was this a good idea or bad idea? Imagine if Poland and Estonia and Latvia and all those front-line states in Ukraine were not members of NATO. We would literally be talking about a war that would be expanding.


I think that`s very important. And number two, I would say, Putin overreached. He went on those runs. He did all those places you talked about, but I think he`s overreached.

REID: Yes.

MCFAUL: I think this will be known as his Afghanistan. This will be the end of that expansionist era in the -- of Putin`s Russia.

REID: In the words of a "Washington Post" columnist -- and I apologize for forgetting the name -- he has simply proved that Russia is no longer a superpower. They certainly are not.

Michael McFaul and Naveed Jamali, thank you both very -- Ambassador Michael McFaul and Naveed Jamali, thank you both very much.

Up next, Congresswoman Ilhan Omar joins me.

Stay with us.


REID: Children make up roughly half of the nearly three million refugees forced to flee since the start of the invasion. And many have been permanently traumatized.

According to a spokesperson for the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees, the people who are coming over it are a bit more in a state of shock, because they have experienced the conflict more directly.


With me now, Congresswoman Ilhan Omar of Minnesota. She`s a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

And, Congresswoman, thank you for being here.

You are also one of a small number of members of Congress who have in your background refugee status at one point. You were a child. Tom Malinowski, his -- he was actually born in communist Poland, before coming to the U.S. as a kid. Carlos Gimenez was born in Cuba, but fled in the revolution. And there are just a few of you who`ve had this experience.

So just talk to us, as somebody who was a little kid having to leave your home. I don`t want to make you revisit that trauma. But I can imagine that you`re relating to these children that are having to flee Ukraine?

REP. ILHAN OMAR (D-MN): Well, it`s good to be with you, Joy.

It is really heartbreaking to see the images that are coming out of Ukraine. As one of few members of Congress who not only fled war as a child, but lived through war and experienced war as a civilian, I can tell you it is really quite traumatizing to go through that process as a child, not knowing whether you can go to sleep, where the bombs are going to fall, and if you are going to wake up alive.

And fleeing and leaving everything that is familiar to you is something that children live with for a long time. It`s been more than 30 years that I fled war, and, to this day, I still remember the noise of the bombs. I still can visibly see the -- everything being shattered around me, and I can still feel the sense of fear.

And so I do hope that we are continuing to do everything that we can to provide shelter and a home for these babies and their families that are fleeing.

REID: And it`s particularly -- it`s particularly jarring because half of the three million people who have fled Ukraine are kids, are children. And we`re talking about a huge movement of women and children.

We saw a similar sort of desperation coming out of Afghanistan. We have now recently given TPS to Afghan refugees, but the -- the issue is, once you have moved, now you`re in a foreign place. Now you`re someplace with -- that you don`t know. You`re going to school with kids you don`t know, that you may not share language with, culture with.

Talk about that piece of it, of being in this new place where you have to now become accepted and fit in. And this might be permanent. This is your new life.

OMAR: Yes, I mean, couple of things.

The journey in fleeing is also long and traumatizing. We have heard from families who said it took them 12 hours. Some of them, it took them days. For my own family, it was weeks for us to be able to get to a safe place. And then the in-between, that is also really concerning for the stability of many of these children.

They don`t know that the new homes that they are in is going to be permanent. And that sort of instability is very hard. Once they do find a permanent home, as I eventually did here in the United States in the age of 12, getting assimilated and accustomed to a new home is also something that requires your neighbors and your new community to put their arms around you.

And we are living in a time in our history as a world where there are more people displaced than any given time in our history. We obviously are seeing what`s happening in Yemen, over two million people displaced. Over 11,000 children have died in that conflict. We have obviously seen it in Syria. We have seen it in Afghanistan, in Iraq and so many other places.

And I think it`s commendable really for a lot of these neighboring countries that do open up their doors where there is a -- when there`s an influx of people that are crossing their border and create policies. And I hope that the compassion and generosity that Ukrainians are being met with is something that leads to policy changes in the future.

But I think also here in the United States and other countries that are not taking in an influx of Ukrainian refugees, like Poland and Hungary and other places are, we should be providing them with the support that they need in order for them to be able to accommodate.

We`re hearing something like 1.5 million Ukrainian refugees go into Poland.

REID: Yes.

OMAR: And they`re going to need our support.

REID: And, by the way, there are Ukrainians at the southern border.

I wish we had more time, because we need to get into that irony, that they`re trying to come in through the southern border, where we`re keeping people back with Title 42. Whole longer conversation. Wish we had more time.

But that -- I will just thank you. Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, thank you very much.

That is tonight`s REIDOUT.