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Transcript: The ReidOut, 3/7/22

Transcript: Sergiy Stakhovsky, Michael McFaul, Nina Khrushcheva, Alexander Vindman


Ukraine humanitarian crisis worsens. Russian forces move to encircle key city of Mariupol. Food, water, heat and medicine are increasingly scare. Ukrainian leader calls for additional sanctions.




ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: That does it for us. Joy Reid is up next.

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, everyone. We begin THE REIDOUT tonight, 12 days into Vladimir Putin`s ghastly war against Ukraine. And it is quickly becoming a humanitarian disaster. It`s already the fastest growing movement of people in Europe since the Second World War.

The U.N. says 1.7 million people have fled Ukraine since the first shots were fired there. The U.N. Human rights office confirmed has confirmed more than 400 civilian deaths including 27 children since the beginning of Putin`s invasion but suggested the real numbers are considerably higher, while the White House confirm the U.S is collecting evidence of possible war crimes and violation of humanitarian laws.

A U.S. senior defense official said Russia has now moved nearly 100 percent of the forces in and amassed around Ukraine into the country, with Russian troops trying to encircled the southern city of Mariupol.

Under siege from a barrage of shelling over the weekend, in violation of the cease-fires meant to allow people to evacuate, attempts to evacuate civilians were halted as the Red Cross says an estimated 200,000 are trying to flee the city.

In Irpin, just outside of Kyiv, around 2,000 people evacuated safely today. Residents there have also been without heat or hot water for days and under heavy fire as Russian forces advance on the capital.

Over the weekend end, Russia continued the shelling as citizens try to evacuate. Ukrainian official said eight civilians were killed.

At a U.N. Security Council meeting to address the situation, U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield called on Russia to honor Ukrainian proposals for safe passage.


LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: The humanitarian toll on President Putin`s war in Ukraine is mounting. Children are dying. People are fleeing their homes. And for what? It`s clear Mr. Putin has a plan to destroy and terrorize Ukraine.


REID: Earlier today, Russia put forward a proposal to allow people from Kyiv, Kharkiv, Sumy and Mariupol to evacuate but only into Russia, or it`s close ally, Belarus. Ukraine, unsurprisingly, rejected that proposal as unacceptable.

Russia claimed the move came at the request of the French President Emmanuel Macron who called Russia`s plan hypocrisy.

Meanwhile, today, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy pressed for more international sanctions against Russia including boycotting Russian oil and halting export to the country.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT: What is needed is a boycott of Russian experts, in particular the rejection of oil and oil products of Russia. It can be called an embargo or just morality, when you refuse to give money to terrorists. Boycott imports to Russia. If they don`t want to comply with civilized rules, they should not receive goods and services from civilization either. Let the war feed them.


REID: President Biden and the leaders of France, Germany and the United Kingdom held a call and affirmed their determination to continue raising the cost on Russia and tonight a still defiant President Zelenskyy released yet another video showing he has still not left Ukraine`s capital city and praising the fierce Ukrainian resistance.

And joining me now, NBC News Correspondent Cal Perry in Lviv and NBC News Foreign Correspondent Matt Bradley live in Rivne, Ukraine.

Let`s go in reverse order, Matt. What is the status in Rivne? What is the status of people trying to get out or get through there to get out?

MATT BRADLEY, MSNBC FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT: You know, we`re not seeing a whole lot of refugees or, I should say, internally displaced people here in Rivne. We`re seeing a city that is girding for war. You know, you mentioned Belarus earlier. If Belarus comes involved, and they could bring their troops right here right over this area, and that`s the real threat. This place hasn`t seen a whole lot of bombardment.

But there is a lot of worries here. I spoke with the mayor and he repeated that call for a no-fly zone. And, you know, a lot of people here, even ordinary people that I`m talking to on the street, this isn`t some theoretical geostrategic, geopolitical concept, regular people are demanding, when they find out that I`m an American, demanding that there be a no-fly-zone.

And there is a reason why that`s so difficult to impose, you know, because it would just have a host of repercussions. It would be a massive escalation. And NATO has made it clear that doing that would really mean putting U.S. military service people right in the frontlines in direct conflict with Moscow. And that would mean a major escalation and it could mean something like a European-wide war.


So, this is the issue that a lot of people here keep pressing. It is the one wish of every Ukrainian person and politician that I speak to. It`s for that no-fly zone, Joy?

REID: And just really quickly, to stay with you for a second, Matt, is that something that the people that you talk to really relate to the United States doing this or is this something they think that the E.U., that NATO, is this something they`re specifically saying to you? You said as an American. Is this something that they`re asking of us as a country or of Europe in the west?

BRADLEY: Yes. I think just as an American, most of the crew that I`m with here are British. It`s everybody in the west, really. And I think that, you know, they know very well that when it comes to enforcing a no-fly zone, the U.S. has the assets. The U.S. has the planes. And the U.S. has the military might to do something like that.

And that is something that they are acutely aware of and something that they keep repeating and they`re grateful. I should say, they`re very grateful for what they`ve seen so far coming from the west but they really feel as though a lot of the assistance is been a day late and a dollar short and they think the no-fly-zone is a way that the west can get in front of things.

You know one of the things that I heard from the mayor of the city. He said, Ukrainian people are fighting and dying for Europe. They shouldn`t be fighting and dying so that Europeans can enjoy their lives. This is a sacrifice that the Ukrainian people are making on behalf of Europe and on behalf of the entire world. Joy?

REID: Yes, they`re not wrong. Cal Perry, where you are in Lviv, and we just sort of seen over the last 12 days that Lviv is sort of where people are sort of coming to, to get out, what are you seeing there? What is the level of crisis that you`re witnessing?

CAL PERRY, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, we`re seeing increase of awareness, I think, of the violence in the east. Far from where Matt and I are, there are these cities, a dozen or so in the northern part of the country that are under a state of siege, where the Russians have surrounded these cities, they`ve cut off the power and water. And for days and days now, you have people who just don`t even want to come out or go above ground.

Then in the south along the Black Sea, you have these strategic cities. You have Kherson, which fell to the Russians. You have Mariupol, where they`ve been desperately trying to get people out where, we had one of those corridor is actually succeed. A few thousand people were able to sort of just rush out today momentarily. Those cities are just being shelled relentlessly by the Russians. And what you have arriving here are people from these places.

The reason they`re not arriving where Matt is, and they are here is because of central train stations and the rail line just runs straight from Kyiv, the capital to where I am. And so you have at least now, we`ve heard from the mayor here, 200,000 people have already been settled. That doesn`t include the people who are sleeping on the street, the people who are sleeping outside the train station, the folks who are still waiting at the Polish border or folks who have turned around and given up. It doesn`t include people that have been dropped off at the border and headed back to fight.

The other interesting thing that`s happened when you talk about the negotiations is they`ve really broken down not just over the humanitarian corridor but the over a question that Matt is talking about, which is the airspace here and who is going to control the airspace here. There are at least two Russian jets, according to the Ukrainian army, shot down over Kyiv tonight alone. So, this question of air power is going to be the key one going forward because it is the only thing that is preventing right now these Russian jets from just nonstop, indiscriminately bombing the capital.

It is the fact that the surface-to-air system that the Ukrainians still use is still functioning and it is that Ukrainian jets are still in the air. So, when you talk about NATO, that has to be part of the discussion, Joy.

REID: Yes, indeed. Tragic situation and thank you all for your great coverage. Really appreciate you, Cal Perry, Matt Bradley, stay safe, thank you both.

With me now from Ukraine is Sergiy Stakhovsky, former Ukrainian Tennis Player. And thank you so much for being here and taking the time to talk with us. I know that you are back in your home country willing to fight for the freedom of Ukraine. Tell us what you`re seeing, what you`re experiencing right now.

SERGIY STAKHOVSKY, UKRAINIAN FORMER PROFESSIONAL TENNIS PLAYER: Well, it`s a pretty desperate situation, I would say. Russia is bombing Kharkiv. They are trying to bomb Kyiv but not at the same scale as they`re doing in Kharkiv. They`re bombing civilians houses. They say they are attacking only military bases but the fact is that they`re destroying civilian compounds, quarters.

They are not able to enter the city of Kyiv. That`s where I am. It`s underground there is not a single soldier inside of city of Kyiv, they are stuck in the suburbs. They destroyed the suburbs. They are attacking civilians, the ones that are trying to leave, they`re attacking volunteers that trying to bring water and food into the suburbs. It`s a barbaric actions what they are doing right now.

REID: What it sounds like and sort of what the analysis is that Russia military is not winning this war to be blunt. They underestimated the ferocity of the resistant and the willingness of Ukrainians to resist.


And so they are attempting to simply demoralize at this point, Ukraine, and deliberately, as you just suggested, target civilians, target people who are trying to flee and just flatten the country if they can`t get Ukraine to surrender. Is that the sense that you have? That at this point it`s not a precision military exercise, it`s just an attempt to level as much of Ukraine as they can and demoralize the people?

STAKHOVSKY: Well, that`s their plan because on the ground they don`t have the morale to advance. I mean, the Ukrainians are putting up a fight which they didn`t expect. They expected they would be welcomed with butter and salt I guess, like Crimea in 2014. Ukraine is a different country. For the past eight years, which we are in a war with Russia, the people saw and understand that Russia brings only misery and destruction, disaster, destroying, I don`t know how to call it.

So, nobody wants to be part of the Russian world as they see it. So, everybody is resisting, whether it`s a local shepherd who has a farm with ships or chicken, it doesn`t matter. Everybody is grouping up. They are making road blocks.

I was traveling into Ukraine. I passed through all of the -- I cross the border from Slovakia when I was coming back into Ukraine and I traveled through Ukraine and, you know, the level of morale inside Ukraine is extremely high. People are gathering together, making groups, making checkpoints, blocking the roads towards their little cities and villages, taking hunting weapons and patrolling the streets. It`s -- everybody is trying to resist.

And I do believe that on the ground Ukraine is going to succeed but. The shelling is a big problem because if we cannot protect our cities, the number of civilians and number of deaths is going to be extreme. And Russians are willing, they`re willing to go the distance.

REID: We`re hearing stories of food shortages, that supplies are becoming short. How long do you think that Ukraine can hold out this way?

STAKHOVSKY: I cannot say for all of the country, I`m in Kyiv. I can tell you the situation in Kyiv. It`s getting slimmer and slimmer although supplies are coming in and the chain of supplies are still working but we are not being -- again, we`re not being bombarded as hard as Kharkiv does. The moment that`s going to start, everything is going to change. And things can change fast inside Kyiv as well.

REID: I have to ask this question. I mean, you`re quite a good tennis player. You had a pretty great life. And you`ve put that aside to go home, to go back to your home country to fight. What was that about for you? Why did you do that?

STAKHOVSKY: Well, I would never imagine that Russia would attack us, open, full scale across all the border. I was -- Saturday, just four days short of the air attack, I was in Kyiv. I was living, my kids had school breaks or I took them for vacation in Dubai.

The thing is that there is no right reason for me to be here and there`s no right reason for me being home. I mean, there is no win-win for me. It`s a lose-lose. If I would stay home I feel guilty because my brother and father, they are medics and they are in Kyiv and they stay behind and I have three kids, which are in Budapest.

It`s a tough choice which I had to make. But I`m no different from any other father who are sending his family away and staying behind to defend. I just didn`t want to be the privileged one who had the chance to stay out, because at the end of the day I would have a country to return to because that`s the ultimate goal I guess of Putin, as he said it multiple times at his press conference, that Ukraine never existed, that it was creating by land in the beginning of a Soviet era, that they will erase basically Ukraine out of the books. And I would love to have a country for my kids to come back to.

REID: We are seeing a great deal of gallantry from the people in Ukraine, including yourself. Thank you for spending some time with us tonight. Stay safe. Thank you, Sergiy Stakhovsky. Thank you, sir.

And still ahead on THE REIDOUT Russian police arrest thousands of anti war protesters as Putin`s war turns their country into an international pariah.

Plus, the latest on the ongoing debate over establishing a no-fly zone over Ukraine.

And a Russian disinformation mills are now working overtime, spreading lies about the conflict across Russia and across the world.

And as we go to break, have a listen to a woman playing Louis Armstrong`s What a Wonderful World outside a train station in Lviv as Ukrainians flee the Russian advance.

THE REIDOUT continues after this.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sometimes nothing brings people together like a nice hot pizza from Pizza Hut.


REID: That was former Soviet Leader Mikhail Gorbachev starring in an international T.V. commercial for Pizza Hut in 1998, seven years after the fall of the USSR. At the time, the ad symbolized Russia`s embrace of capitalism, evidence that a country that it insulated itself from the outside world for 74 years had finally joined the global economy.


Fast-forward to today, and Russia is quickly backsliding, thanks to Vladimir Putin. His invasion of Ukraine has prompted a mass exodus of businesses from Russia, including Visa, Mastercard, and American Express, which are ceasing cardholder transactions in that country, as well as Netflix, which suspended services.

They have joined a growing list of companies that have effectively pulled out of the Russian market, isolating Russia from the world economy. Meanwhile, Putin is turning the -- turning back the clock on the information age, with new crackdowns on journalism and social media.

He`s blocked access to Facebook and the BBC, among others, and signed a law banning so-called fake news, including a ban on calling the invasion of Ukraine what it is, an invasion and a war, which is now punishable by up to 15 years in prison. And he`s silencing dissent, arresting more than 4,500 protesters in a single day yesterday, according to a human rights group.

Joining me now is former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul and Nina Khrushcheva, professor of international affairs at The New School.

And, Nina, this is sort of fascinating, in that you are now seeing Russia sort of go back. I mean, if Putin really had in his mind to bring back the old USSR, well, he`s doing it in terms of the economy. It is becoming a closed economy. He`s even launching his own version of the Internet, trying to make -- and, basically, it`s almost like an intranet that`s just inside Russia to try to control people`s access to information.

At some point, logic tells me that this is going to start to -- start to affect the Russian people, who cannot possibly blame the West forever for that kind of isolation, or can they?

NINA KHRUSHCHEVA, THE NEW SCHOOL: Well, it is already affecting the Russian people, because it`s not even the economy yet that has been hitting them. It`s more social and cultural ties, relations with their partners, research partners in the West, or everywhere, for that matter, it`s their ability or possibility to fly to many countries.

And now they are just only a few options open. So it is already affecting them. And he`s not -- I mean, it`s not even bringing back the Soviet Union, because, even in the Soviet Union, certainly in the second half of it, they were many more contacts or connections available than there are available now.

So it`s almost -- there`s all this crackdown and the Iron Curtain falling down. It`s almost bringing Russia into the Stone Age, into the black hole of nonexistent global pariah.

It is actually possible that, when the whole world is against you, when you`re basically against everybody else, and everybody shutting their door or their tweet or their everything, at least initially, probably it may result in rallying around the flag and people feeling that they have no other place to turn to than to stand up for Russia, because everybody`s against us.

REID: It is possible.

But there`s also, Ambassador McFaul, the possibility that things are breaking through. I mean, I have heard about this meme, given this law that says you can`t do -- quote, unquote -- "fake news," including calling the war in Ukraine a war, that the sort of joke has kind of come up with among hundreds of young Moscow residents that it`s security operation and peace, instead of war and peace, right, that they`re sort of making fun of it, and that there -- there seems to be some of it seeping through.

What do you make of this sort of turning of sort of Russia into kind of Cuba or into North Korea at this point? That is what Vladimir Putin has accomplished so far.

MICHAEL MCFAUL, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO RUSSIA: Well, he`s trying to. Like Nina said, he`s trying to.

And he`s going farther than even during Cold War days. I mean, if Western media outlets are forced to leave because of this new draconian law about using the word war, you get 15 years in jail, and they have to leave, they were all there during the Cold War. That`s something radically new.

And there`s fear in Russia today -- I talk to Russians every single day -- that he`s going to try to cut off the Internet, just like you said.

At the same time, you`re showing these photos. There are lots of people that are protesting. And if they`re protesting, they`re brave enough to deal with those characters. Look at those characters you`re showing right now. If they`re brave enough to do that, that means that tens of thousands and maybe more share their views. They just don`t want to be arrested.

And the second thing to remember is that all Russians don`t think alike. All Russians don`t receive their information alike. And to oversimplify, in the interest of media, the more educated you are, the more urban you are, the richer you are, the less likely you are to read Putin`s propaganda.

And, conversely, the more rural place you live, the less educated you are, the less wealthy you are and, I should add, the older you are, the more likely you are to read Putin`s propaganda. So it`s a much more divided society than I think a lot of people think.


That doesn`t mean there`s going to be massive protests. It`s scary to think about 15 years in jail. But it doesn`t also mean -- just because you don`t see hundreds of thousands of people, it doesn`t mean that those passive people support Putin. They don`t.

And we`re really bad at measuring preferences in totalitarian societies. We have been bad for decades. We will be bad here. And I think we should be very cautious in looking at the numbers of protesters and saying, oh, that must mean the rest of Russia supports Putin. They don`t.

REID: Yes. No, you`re absolutely right. The same is true of Cuba and a lot of these other countries. We just don`t have a window into it.

There was an extraordinary piece of video that is going -- that is circulating on social media. We were able to get a little clip of it. And this shows some men who had -- they appear to be captured Russian soldiers making a plea saying they did not understand why they were there and that they want the people back home to know.

Let me play a little bit.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I felt guilt for coming to this country, into this territory, Ukrainian territory.

If someone came to my territory, I would do the same thing as these people are doing right now, and I would be right. And, right now, they are right.


REID: Nina first, and then Ambassador McFaul.

And NBC, I should say, has not independently confirmed the identity, but one of them appears to be a commander who says they were fed propaganda, and he understands now why Ukraine is fighting back.

That seems to me that, if someone like him is released and goes home, that seems like some really powerful information fresh from the front lines that actually might be able to impact people. What do you make of that?

KHRUSHCHEVA: Well, as Michael said, it`s a very diverse society. And the fact that there are no people in the streets doesn`t mean that they are not -- because I`m sharing and my family`s there. And so it`s all -- people do know why they are in Ukraine.

They do know that Putin is a megalomaniac who somehow decides that he wants to pan-Slavic state, according to traditional 19th -- 20th certain philosophy.

REID: Yes.

KHRUSHCHEVA: So, yes, they do understand that.

But you wouldn`t -- you don`t even need to have a soldier or officer coming from Ukraine, because people do understand the stakes here, because we are now clearly cut out of the whole world, precisely because we are there. And that is not because we are winning hearts and minds, no question about it.

REID: Yes.

KHRUSHCHEVA: So, of course, and I`m sure the troops, many people who are fighting not sharing -- not sharing the premise. They don`t understand why we are invading a brotherly country, for sure.

REID: Yes.

KHRUSHCHEVA: The point is that because the oppression now is so giant and so overwhelming, that the question is how much and for how long it will continue to boil out, or people will just be suppressed, suppressed, and stop until further notice.

REID: And, Ambassador McFaul, Russia is not winning this war. They are losing it by any stretch, by any measure, any objective measure.

You dealt with this man Vladimir Putin. What happens when he realizes that he`s losing?

MCFAUL: Well, he is losing so far.

And the fact that he has to shut down Dozhd, TV Rain, an independent television station, that he shuts down Ekho Moskvy, this iconic radio station, opened in 1990, that he`s threatening to shut down the entire Internet, that`s the evidence that he knows he`s losing, right?

You wouldn`t be doing those things if you`re winning. And just to echo something Nina said, his argument for why they`re there, people don`t understand it took him 58 minutes to try to explain it. If you need 58 minutes to make your argument, you`re confused about your argument.

REID: Yes.

MCFAUL: But what I worry about, instead of thinking sue for peace and get out, he`s doubling down.

And that means we`re going to see more casualties. We`re going to be seeing more killing. I fear the worst is yet to come.

REID: Yes, unfortunately, you`re probably right.

Former Ambassador Michael McFaul, Nina Khrushcheva, thank you both very much.

Still ahead: President Zelenskyy renews his calls for a no-fly zone over his embattled country, but is the risk of escalating this conflict worth the reward?

We will be right back.



REID: The West has rejected Ukrainian President Zelenskyy`s plea to establish a no-fly zone due to fears that it could lead, quite frankly, to World War III.

And a deal that would have provided fighter jets to Ukraine is unlikely to happen as well. The U.S. and Poland had been in talks about providing those jets. But NBC News is reporting tonight that there is little momentum for that deal.

Meanwhile, the White House spokesperson said the U.S. is collecting evidence of possible Russian war crimes. And countries are considering new sanctions on an already cratering Russian economy. The U.S. is an active talks with Europe to ban Russian oil imports.

However, the world`s biggest buyer of Russian crude oil, Germany, has so far rejected that plan. And Putin, for his part, has claimed sanctions are akin to a declaration of war.

I`m joined now by Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, the former director for European affairs at the National Security Council and a senior adviser at VoteVets and the author of "Here, Right Matters," and Malcolm Nance, MSNBC counterterrorism and intelligence analyst and the author of the upcoming book "They Want to Kill Americans: The Militias, Terrorists, and Deranged Ideology of the Trump Insurgency."


Thank you all for being here.

Lieutenant Colonel Vindman, I want to start with you.

You have said that you believe that, short of doing a no-fly zone, if that`s not tenable, there are ways that we could make a no -- something like it possible.

This is what you wrote: "Establishing a no-fly zone over Ukraine may be too provocative. But if the West is unwilling to stage that sort of intervention, then it ought to supply Ukraine with the tools it needs to control the skies itself, including ones that would allow Ukraine to strike Russian warehouses or staging areas holding aircraft, ballistic missiles and cruise missiles beyond Ukraine`s borders."

Well, if the West and Poland is -- are saying, we`re not even going to supply you the fighter jets, how would the West then help?

LT. COL. ALEXANDER VINDMAN (RET.), FORMER DIRECTOR FOR EUROPEAN AFFAIRS, NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL: Well, there`s -- the ideas is for this lend- lease program, which is bigger than just weapons. It`s the humanitarian aid that Ukraine needs, the medicine, basically depot everything, build warehouses, non-permanent warehouses, and everything that the Ukrainians need to sustain themselves through this war they have.

A big part of that, of course, is the weapons. And we should follow the Turks` lead. Turkey is providing TB2s, these Bayraktar drones that have been pretty effective. So, if we`re not prepared to do a no-fly zone -- and I understand that there are deep concerns about the risk -- I don`t necessarily disagree with them, although, frankly, we very well may find ourselves there, because we are far from done.

Putin is not done. This is going to turn into a much, much bigger humanitarian catastrophe. And we might end up there. So we should do things that prevent us from having to make those really, really difficult choices down the road.

And that`s providing drones. That`s providing more medium-range anti-tank and surface-to-air missile systems that keep us out of having to put NATO forces in the area. Those are not beyond the pale.

There are precedents for these kinds of support. Right now, we`re just being deterred by Russian saber-rattling, by blackmail and, frankly, by a miscalculation, a strategic miscalculation, that it ends here, that it doesn`t get worse, and that the pressure from the international community, from our own constituencies, is not going to force the hand of our political leadership in a way that`s going to be much more dangerous as time moves on.

REID: Yes, I mean, it is a calculation, Malcolm, that if we could just bleed Russia economically, that will, I guess, drain the coffers they`re using to fight.

But it doesn`t seem to be draining the will of at least some of these conscripts. Sort of the way that Russia`s sort of troops are made up, you have people on one-year contracts. You have people making less than $25 a month, poorly trained, severe hazing and abused. Then you have these contracts soldiers, which are 70 percent of the military.

They`re these three-year contracts. They make a lot more money. They get a lot better trained. There`s this mix of it. There`s even reports that they`re trying to bring in Syrian fighters to try to get in -- that have more experience with urban combat.

It doesn`t seem like, even though they are losing, they`re backing down.

I want you to very quickly listen to President Zelenskyy. He did an interview with ABC ,David Muir, and this is what he said. This was his plea to Americans.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT: I just want you to feel and to understand, what does it mean, for us, freedom?

Because, always, American people, they speak about freedom, and they -- and they know what it is. And now, when you`re looking at Ukrainians, I think you feel, what does it mean for us?


REID: Malcolm, are we just doomed to sit here and watch these brave people die and not be able to do anything, for the legitimate fear of starting World War III?


And the legitimate fear of starting World War III is really something where you`re pushing beyond the extreme. Look, there`s not going to be a no-fly zone. I took part in the no-fly zones in Southern and Northern Iraq. That was creating humanitarian no-fly zones for the Kurds.

But we struck every piece of Iraqi air defense systems that activated or even looked in our direction and attempt -- and prepared to shoot down every aircraft there. That is not what the Russian -- what the Ukrainians really need from us.

I had a meeting with -- or I met the commander of Ukrainian armed forces or land forces, General Syrsky. And he said: We have the manpower. We have 250,000 men and women. We can bring hundreds of thousands more. We need the weapons.

And what the United States needs to do is stop having a failure of imagination. Colonel Vindman is right. We can loan them systems under lend- lease. Look, if we can drive destroyers over to England in the height of the Atlantic war with German submarines everywhere, we can fly in drones to Vinnytsia or Ivano-Frankivsk, any one of their small bases there, land them there, and give them a drone control pod and MQ-9 Reapers with Hellfire missiles and then let them operate it.


Let them come with the learning curve. I would say 20 would be enough with all the Hellfire missiles they can carry. And, in some instances, they can actually carry air-to-air weapons. It`s time for us to start using this as a -- if we want to try to help the Ukrainians as best, start experimenting a little.

The Russians did it with Azerbaijan and Turkey did it against Armenia with drones. Maybe it`s time for drones to dominate the air, including -- well, I will reserve what I was just thinking there, because it was very ISIS- like.

But, for the most part, the United States needs to help these people. And that`s all they`re asking for, is a logistics pipeline that will not stop. I am one of the few analysts that believes -- I believe that Ukraine can actually win this war by defeating all of the strategic objectives of the Russians.

They have already done it by stopping them at essentially not even their first major phase line. So, why not help them?

REID: It does seem that -- just sort of not as an expert at all, that Russia is losing at this stage, Lieutenant Colonel Vindman, and that all that the Ukrainians need -- they obviously have the will to fight. They obviously have the heart for it. They just need a little bit of help.

Why do you suppose the focus has remained on a no-fly zone, at least from the president of Ukraine?

VINDMAN: Well, first, let me say I love Malcolm`s optimism. I wish I shared it.

I think that there is a real -- a very good chance that the Ukrainians could block the Russians from achieving their strategic objectives, or at least the initial strategic objectives, but the punishing, grinding war that`s about to unfold could develop in ways that are -- it`s hard for us to conceive.

It`s hard. We should recognize that, our own history, we have been dragged into human catastrophe and human suffering, and we`re going to go -- we`re not going to be able to sit on the sidelines. And the choices that we`re going to have to make down the road are going to be a lot more stark, a lot more risky than now.

The bar for war with Russia is very, very high. The Russians do not want a nuclear war. They do not want a conventional war, as badly as they`re handling this business with Ukraine right now. They`re getting mauled.

REID: Yes.

VINDMAN: So, we should not be risk-averse on the basic things we need to provide.

REID: Yes.

VINDMAN: And that`s really what`s affecting us is, we are in our own heads. We`re overthinking this. These aircraft could -- the biggest hurdle is across the border.

We should just push them across. And the Ukrainians can operate them and do what they need to.

REID: Yes. And also perhaps the president of Ukraine could do fewer Zoom calls with Republican senators who can`t seem to keep their mouths shut and keep their little fingers off their Twitter buttons.

I see you, Marco Rubio. And...

NANCE: Joy, I can tell you where to get some MiG-29s right now.

We have a subcontractor company that`s flying them for the U.S. Air Force out in California. Buy them outright, deliver them the next day.

REID: All right. Well, that -- the advice has been delivered.

Alexander Vindman, Malcolm Nance, thank you both very much.

Up next: A firehouse of falsehood,that is how one expert describes the Russian approach to spreading disinformation. How social and traditional media companies are finally fighting back.

Stay with us.



REID: Russian President Vladimir Putin is not just waging war against Ukraine using troops and missiles. He`s also using disinformation.

The goal is to make it appear that Russia is the victim and Ukraine the aggressor. Putin has distorted the truth, calling his war a special military operation with the mission of -- quote -- "denazifying Ukraine."

None of that, of course, is true. But just as Putin seems to be losing the ground war, he also seems to be losing the online battle. In fact, Twitter has banned more than 100 accounts spreading disinformation, all using the hashtag #IstandwithPutin. According to NBC News, it`s an indication that Russia`s once-feared firehouse of falsehood has been both neutralized and drowned out in recent weeks, particularly as Western media and social platforms have sprung into action.

Joining me now is NBC News senior reporter Ben Collins, who co-wrote that story.

And, Ben, I mean, the stuff that you wrote about and that is sort of out there is as loony is trying to draw Anthony Fauci in a weird sort of biolab conspiracy theory. Please explain. I think it`s pulling in the weird truckers. What in the world is going on?

BEN COLLINS, NBC NEWS SENIOR REPORTER: yes, so the backup plan to this denazification idea was the idea that there`s going to be biolabs funded by the United States in Ukraine that were funding some sort of second coronavirus. That was their game plan for a backup pretext to this war.

And you can actually see this as well on the far right spaces, places like, which used to be called The Donald, which is where January 6 was planned online. The same day the invasion happened, you could see all these -- this upswing in posts about the Anthony Fauci biolabs that were happening in Ukraine.

This is all made up. This is not real. But it`s the big thing that had better taken over the far right Internet. And you have to give them credit a little bit too here. Some of the people in the trucker convoy were like, no, we see this brutality. We see how bad this is. We don`t want any part of this thing.

So they stepped away from this, I would say 50/50 stepped away from that talking point, while some people still, because of how ingrained the hatred of Anthony Fauci is in the far right spaces, some people leaned into this.

So you`re seeing sort of like a 50/50 split right now in these far right Telegram groups between people who are pro-Putin because of the Fauci stuff and still people who see reality, people who are anti-Putin because of the brutality they see with their very own eyes.

REID: And we have a chart here. I`m going to just put it up.

And this is showing the increase in users on the 15 platforms that are monitored using disinformation discussing the violence. I saw the I stand with Putin hashtag and I stand with Russia hashtags over the weekend and thought, OK, immediately this is some bot action.


But, I mean, you have reported on things even as bizarre as creating fake people who are supposedly Ukrainian reporters, but they actually don`t exist. Please explain.

COLLINS: Yes, so Russian troll farms, the same troll farms in 2016, the guy who ran those troll farms back then, the same group, they were creating fake human beings using A.I.-generated photos that you can create at any moment using a Web site called

And they were doing that to create these profiles on Facebook to lend legitimacy to these Russian propaganda sites called Ukraine Today, which is bananas. This whole thing is a very elaborate thing that was going on for a year before this war. So that`s how long the setup was going on.

REID: Yes.

COLLINS: They were doing it to prop up these much larger narratives for the pretext of this invasion.

The thing is, it just didn`t work. Like, this -- when you see the actual stuff coming out of Ukraine from people who have had their homes shelled, for example, and you contrast that with a person whose face is messed up because they were created by a computer a few weeks ago, I think most people can see what the reality is here.

The reality is the pictures you`re seeing right now on your screen (AUDIO GAP) information can go in the face of just abject brutality.

REID: Yes.

I mean, we have heard stories about people who live in Ukraine not being able to convince family members that they themselves are being bombed because of the disinformation. It`s -- but it sounds to me like younger people, younger Russians, people who have more access to -- at least before they shut it down, to social media.

Is that the reason this isn`t working, because people have access to -- I don`t know, they can get on TikTok, they can get on Facebook, they can find out for themselves? Why do you think that this propaganda machine is failing so thoroughly?

COLLINS: Yes, I think that`s part of it.

I think a big part of this too, people bring up North Korea as a parallel. The services weren`t just shut off there overnight, though. That`s the difference. People were going to H&M in Russia. People were watching Netflix and then talking about it on TikTok.

Now you can`t go to H&M. You cannot watch Netflix. And you can`t post anything on TikTok from Russia because it might fall under the fake news law. Everything has to be approved. So if you`re a young person in Russia right now, your life is dramatically different than it was two weeks ago.

REID: Yes.

COLLINS: And if that doesn`t set off some alarm bell in your head that you might not be being told the truth by the government, then, like, I don`t know what`s wrong, necessarily.

You would have to really reconsider stuff, because your whole reality has been flipped over entirely in the last two weeks.

REID: Yes, absolutely. You went to sleep in Moscow and woke up in North Korea, basically. It is pretty wild.

Ben Collins, thank you very much. Really appreciate you.

Up next: As the world mobilizes to address the growing humanitarian crisis caused by Putin`s war, it is important to remember that it is one of many humanitarian crises that -- in the world right now.

We will be right back.



REID: As the world watches the devastation unfolds in Ukraine, nearly 4,000 miles away, another crisis is deepening that we don`t hear much about in the U.S., and that is the war in Yemen.

In March of 2015, a Saudi-led coalition backed by the United States intervened militarily in Yemen in a bid to fight Iran-backed Houthi rebels. It has triggered one of the worst humanitarian crisis in the world, due to widespread hunger, disease and attacks on civilians. Four million Yemenis have been forced to flee their homes.

Now, what we`re seeing in Ukraine is absolutely the worst humanitarian crisis that Europe has seen in decades, but we haven`t witnessed the same type of solidarity for the Yemenis as we do for the Ukrainians. We don`t see historic sanctions or global campaigns, corporations like Airbnb and Netflix taking a stand.

Now, this is not to say that we shouldn`t care this much for Ukraine. Far from it. The point is, we should also care this much for refugees and those facing occupation and war in the Middle East and Asia and Africa too.

The coverage of Ukraine has revealed a pretty radical disparity in how human Ukrainians look and feel to Western media, compared to their browner and blacker counterparts, with some reporters using very telling comparisons in their analyses of the war.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s really emotional for me, because I see European people with blue eyes and blonde hair being killed, children being killed every day with Putin`s missiles.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The unthinkable has happened to them. And this is not a developing Third World nation. This is Europe.

CHARLIE D`AGATA, CBS NEWS: This isn`t a place, with all due respect, like Iraq or Afghanistan that has seen conflict raging for decades. This is a relatively civilized, relatively European -- I have to choose those words carefully too -- city where you wouldn`t expect that or hope that it`s going to happen.


REID: Hmm. Civilized.

OK, let`s face it. The world is paying attention because this is happening in Europe. If this was happening anywhere else, would we see the same outpouring of support and compassion?

But we don`t need to ask ourselves if the international response would be the same if Russia unleashed their horror on a country that wasn`t white and largely Christian, because Russia has already done it in Syria.

This is a teachable moment for us in the media. We aren`t afraid to call out our own industry. There is a lot of soul-searching that we need to do in Western media about why some wars and lives seem to matter more than others and why some refugees get the welcome mat, while others get the wall.

And that is tonight`s REIDOUT.

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.