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Transcript: The 11th Hour, 3/4/22

Guests: Jeremy Bash, Inna Sovsun, Igor Novikov, Lynsey Addario


Russian forces continue assault on Ukrainian cities. Russian forces seize Europe`s largest nuclear plant, located in southern Ukraine. Ukrainian parliament member talks about war in Ukraine. Zelenskyy says `this will be the victory of light over darkness, of freedom over slavery.`



TETIANA DRAHOZL, UKRAINIAN REFUGEE: We`re attacked. We need to save our life. This is the most important thing we have. This is what is given to us by God and we must save it. When people are killed when children are killed this isn`t normal. We want entire world to say it out loud this is terrorism. This is an absolutely terrible war.


LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Tetiana Drahozl gets tonight`s last word. And there is the Empire State Building showing support tonight in its lighting for Ukraine. "The 11th Hour" with Stephanie rule starts now.

STEPHANIE RUHLE, MSNBC HOST: Tonight as a new day dawns in the East Russia gains ground in Ukraine intensifying its assault on cities while taking control of Europe`s largest nuclear power plant. As Ukrainians fleeing their homes described scenes of mothers and children screaming worried they`ll never see their loved ones again more than a million making their way out. While Vladimir Putin tightens his grip cracking down on the media as "The 11th Hour" gets underway on a Friday night.

Good evening, I`m Stephanie Ruhle. And tonight Russia continues its all-out assault on Ukraine; with devastating results a senior defense official telling NBC News that Russia has launched over 500 missiles since the invasion began last week.

Russian forces are stalled and delayed in the north and east of the country but making progress in the south. About 92 percent of Russia`s pre staged military is now inside the Ukraine. Today Russia seized Europe`s largest nuclear power plant in the southern part of the country while last night a Russian attack sparked a fire in a training complex just behind the plant. And earlier today, the U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. condemned the attack.


LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO U.N.: By the grace of God, the world narrowly averted a nuclear catastrophe last night. Russia`s attack last night put Europe`s largest nuclear power at grave risk. It was incredibly reckless and dangerous. And it threatened the safety of civilians across Russia, Ukraine and Europe.


RUHLE: Tomorrow morning, Ukraine`s President Zelenskyy will hold a virtual meeting with the U.S. Senate and nine days into this war the humanitarian crisis is only getting worse much worse. The U.N. says more than 1 million people have already left and many, many more are still trying to get out. NBC`s Richard Engel is in Ukraine with more.


RICHARD ENGEL, NBC CHIEF FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): As Russian forces are getting closer to this city, people are streaming out of it. Parents are tethered to their children. They`re taking their pets. They`re taking their grandparents and everyone is heading west.

This is the push right up at the door. There have been some people dropping bags we`ve seen people holding their babies up in the air as they`re trying to cram as many people as possible onto this training. A lot of families we spoke to said they decided this morning to pack up their house come here to the station and just head west.

ENGEL (voice over): Oksana is taking her one year old. They`re leaving her husband behind with no idea where they`ll eventually end up. We`re at war she says we have to get the children out. He staying behind to fight told us saying goodbye to his wife and son is the hardest moment of his life.

Some have to stay in Ukraine for now. These children are living at a specialized school in Lviv in Western Ukraine. There are 80 of them, orphans, who were evacuated from the east when their towns were bombed by the Russians children like eight year old Demetrius.

ENGEL (on camera): What do you want the world to know about Ukraine?


ENGEL (voice over): Demetrius tells me he wants the war to stop so that he can go back home. He`s hoping to be adopted.

ENGEL (on camera): Anything you want to say to anybody, any of your friends back in that other region?

ENGEL (voice over): Demetrius` answer is soul crushing. I want them to stay alive we got to die. As for the people of Lviv the ones helping him, he says thank you.


RUHLE: Just a few of the real life consequences of a senseless war. Let`s bring in NBC`s Molly Hunter she`s in Lviv, Ukraine. Molly, you`ve been following this situation with the nuclear power plant. Last night the facility behind it was on fire but today things aren`t good. Russia now has control of the entire plant. What can you tell us?

MOLLY HUNTER, NBC NEWS FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Yes, it`s been a dramatic 24 hours and this is it seriously dangerous scenario that we are looking at.


HUNTER: So a couple of big questions about the attack on the nuclear power plant that will help us understand the risks going forward. So was the attack ordered by Moscow? Or did troops on the ground initiate that kind of on their own volition?

Those answers are going to help us understand how much danger the other plants may face. Now experts say the actual danger of a meltdown right now is low. One of the ways to lessen that danger is to shut off the nuclear power plants or really lower the capacity.

The problem though Stephanie is that really decreases the electricity to the rest of the country to Ukrainians who need it so badly, especially in the north and the south, where the Russians - where the Russian assaults are surrounding cities when they do surround cities and towns. Those cities with air power, they`re also cutting off electricity, they`re cutting off heat, and they`re cutting off water.

So the Ukrainian government is going to really try to avoid of course decreasing Ukrainian supply to electricity, even more Stephanie.

RUHLE: Tell me about where you are. I know you`re in a completely different part of the country, but the people of Lviv, what`s their biggest concern right now?

HUNTER: That their war is going to move this west so we came in 48 hours ago Stephanie for a little bit of context. We came into the Hungarian border drove up through the West of the country up till Lviv. There`s essentially a whole kind of steel ring around this city right now and it`s already increased in the last two days that we`ve been here.

We`ve been talking to our NBC colleagues who have been here a week and they say every single hour every single day; this city is ramping up their defenses. So when we drove in there was essentially a very heavily fortified checkpoint, with huge iron kind of crosses that could easily go from checkpoint to full blockade. Inside the city we are seeing in the last two days government buildings Police Headquarters start to put up blockades and security around it.

Hotels like the one we are staying in gratefully we are so grateful they are still open. They are taking security much more seriously trying to figure out different blockades and trying to figure out makeshift bomb shelters. The gym in our hotel, for example, has just been turned into a bomb shelter Stephanie.

RUHLE: My goodness. It`s amazing to watch all of this unfold and change so dramatically every day. Stay safe where you are. And with that I want to bring in our experts this evening Eugene Daniels, White House Correspondent for Politico, Retired Four Star U.S. Army General Barry McCaffrey, a Decorated Combat Veteran of Vietnam and a Former Battlefield Commander in the Persian Gulf and Jeremy Bash, Former Chief of Staff at the CIA and the Pentagon.

General McCaffrey, I want to start with you. Here is analysis of Russia`s military moves so far. More than a week into the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Russian Air Force has yet to commence large scale operations, inactivity in the first few days could be ascribed to various factors. But the continued absence of major air operations now raises serious capability questions. Sounds like maybe Russia`s not as scary as we thought. What do you think?

GEN. BARRY MCCAFREY, NBC MILITARY ANALYST: Well, it`s been really astonishing the failures in competence of the operational level of war that couple 100,000 troops air power, sea power, amphibious landings, electronic warfare, none of its come together failures in the logistics.

I mean, we`re watching abandon uploaded with ammunition, SP artillery vehicles. It`s hard to understand there`s a huge fight going on; it`s going to get worse. We should not misunderstand that the situation is grim. What we`re seeing in Mariupol is an example will soon happen in Kyiv and circling the city turning off the electric grid, turning off the food bombarding the population.

That phase of the war is going to be brutal, but the Russians may well be having morale problems. Also, besides competence, they don`t look very good at battalion level either. The rough go, though the Ukrainians are fighting back.

RUHLE: A rough go, indeed, the images on the right side of your screen devastating. Jeremy, how concerned is you now that Russia has control of this nuclear plant? It`s the biggest in Europe. They can`t just shut it down and put the whole region in the dark.

JEREMY BASH, FORMER CIA CHIEF OF STAFF: Yes, actually, their attack on these nuclear facilities is kind of a twofer for the Russian Federation Stephanie. First, they can obviously turn the lights out as you referenced, they can debilitate large regions of Ukraine.

But second, as we saw when they rain fire down on that facility, they can effectively create a dirty bomb out of a nuclear power plan. Think about that. If the winds blowing a certain direction and they assess that there`s a great danger to Europe, they can basically hold the entire European continent hostage by threatening to hit one of these targets.

And I think the United States and the West needs to quickly figure out some strategies for defending these targets maybe its employment of localized anti-rocket artillery and mortar or missile defense systems around those facilities so that they can take out any Russian fire.


BASH: And I think the United States and the West is going to have to step up with intelligence sharing and other indirect supports the Ukrainians so they can continue to blunt Russia`s advanced.

RUHLE: Explain that one to me again, dirty bombs, that`s a new one.

BASH: Well, just the Dirty Bomb is a detonation of a nuclear material, not a nuclear explosion, not an actual implosion of a nuclear device. But when you for example, have radiological spread, because nuclear material is part of the explosive activity, essentially, that can poison the atmosphere can poison individuals, many terrorist organizations have threatened to detonate dirty bombs.

And I think what Russia is really threatening by firing weaponry on these nuclear facilities is threatening to detonate the mother of all dirty bombs. So that`s an incredibly dangerous escalatory catastrophic situation for Europe.

RUHLE: Well, General, NATO says they`re using cluster bombs. What`s that?

MCCAFFREY: Well, there`s an international treaty that tries to band aid neither Russia nor the United States for party, that treaty. We haven`t used them in years. They`re actually normally anti-personnel, small bomblets. We use them a lot in a desert storm campaign. We have a huge failure rate and go off, leaving highly sensitive munitions spread all over posing a threat to civilian population.

So but let`s understand it`s not the type of munitions where we need to be worried about in terms of international crimes, they`re targeting civilians in urban areas and hitting them with missiles, air delivered munitions, and it`s going to get worse.

If they fight in Kyiv, the Russians will employ massed artillery and fire main tank gun rounds into a building. So they`re targeting civilians at the terror campaign, and they`re going to reap the abhorrence of the international community for doing this.

RUHLE: But what does that mean? Right, Jeremy, the international community will be furious. Earlier today we heard the U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. condemning the attack. What does condemning mean? Because it doesn`t seem that there are any consequences?

BASH: Well, I think there are two things. Number one is the Russian economy is suffering major consequences. And Stephanie, you`ve been, of course, covering this, from the perspective of the way the corporate community has been totally isolating, and cutting themselves off from Russia.

I mean, you`ve seen an unprecedented wave of company after company lined up to see if they`re stopping sales in Russia. And Russia is essentially becoming kind of like South Africa was during apartheid, essentially a pariah state. It`s essentially being boycotted the way Cuba is in the international scene.

And so there are consequences from international isolation. But I think the other consequence that we`ve also been talking a lot about this week, as has General McCaffrey is that the pressure is going to build on the west to intervene more and more on behalf of the Ukrainians.

Pressure is going to build as, as the Russians employ these tactics that General McCaffrey referenced. Pressure is going to build on the west to support the Ukrainians with more indirect capabilities to take on the Russians. And so that`s where I think this is going.

RUHLE: To that point, Eugene, losing money is very different from losing lives. How does the White House define success with these economic sanctions right? You turn on the TV, we see yachts being seized, and that translates into a super-rich people now having unclear summer plans. And on the other side, we are seeing Ukrainians lose their lives, lose their homes, lose their cities.

EUGENE DANIELS, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: On the sanctions, the White House and this administration see it as putting pressure on these oligarchs to put pressure on Vladimir Putin to say to Vladimir Putin, hey, you have to stop this stop this war. Is that going to work?

It`s really hard to say because as you just pointed out, the most important aspect of this is the loss of human life, the loss of civilian life. You know, I`ve been talking to some folks who have family, they`re trying to get their family, either over here or to Poland or to any country that will take them in Europe.

And it is dire. You know what I mean? The ideas that people are leaving their homes not knowing if they`ll ever be able to go that children are being given to folks who can lead the country. That is what this administration is thinking about it as that pressure continues to build for the West to do more like ban Russian oil, right?

That is something that is happening in Congress where both the left and the right are coming together and saying that`s something they want to do. Now, that`s another thing that the administration is weighing whether or not they should - whether or not this country should do that? That puts a more of a squeeze on Russia and their oil exports.

The issue with that isn`t that raises gas prices possibly in this country and so there`s so much going on but the administration knows that if things go south if things affect the American economy they`re going get the blame.


DANIELS: And so that is an aspect of the wing that has to do here.

RUHLE: Then General is there an issue with a timing disconnect, right, a military attack is immediate. The impact of economic sanctions takes time?

MCCAFFREY: Well, no question. But we shouldn`t misunderstand that Putin is in terrible trouble. One of the things he has done is he`s created a strategic threat to the Russian Federation of enormous growing importance. I mean, now Europe is frightened, they`re scared.

Germany just announced essentially a doubling of their defense budget in the coming year. They`d almost unilaterally disarm before. We`ve got Sweden and Finland trying to think through the consequences of all of it.

So I think Putin is in a box of his own making. And every day that goes by, it gets worse. The question remains, and you have posed it quite nicely. How are we going to save lives in Ukraine? I think, again, the administration is doing what they can.

Europe, European Union nations and the United States are funneling weapons and munitions. And, thankfully, so far across the Polish border, the Turks are sending in more armed drones. But there`s almost unanimity among most defense experts, we don`t want to get directly involved in a shooting war with Russia, inside Ukraine.

RUHLE: Jeremy, "The New York Times" posted a video from insight last night`s nuclear plant attack, take a look at this. Immediately stop firing, immediately stop firing, you`re endangering the people of the world. The operation is a crucial part of this plant, it could be damaged. We will not be able to restore. Jeremy watching this having an intimate understanding of how dangerous this type of thing is, how bad could it have gotten?

BASH: Yes, again, Stephanie, your heart is in your throat when you watch that. When you see how perilously close, we came to a detonation, an explosion at a nuclear facility that could spread radiological material for hundreds and hundreds of miles.

I mean, this is such a dangerous situation. You know, it`s cliche to say the Russians are playing with fire, but they`re indiscriminately fire upon these facilities, maybe even purposely targeting them, obviously, trying to seize them trying to control them.

And with them - with these facilities in Russian hands in essence, Russia is holding on to an asset that it can deploy against the entirety of Europe and the entirety of the world. So this is escalating in danger. You know, anybody who thinks that the Ukrainians ability to blunt Russia`s advanced is somehow you know, making peace more likely.

You know, I, of course, the Ukrainians are heroic, and the Russians are showing their utter incompetence. But I just think the danger of this situation is escalating.

RUHLE: General Russia is also showing that they`re not letting up no matter what, given that do, we need to get a lot more serious about more direct military support on our side, Russia is not going to retreat, no matter how weak they are?

MCCAFFREY: Well, there`s a limited amount of material technology you can put across that frontier and get distributed to Ukrainian fighting units. I mean, I bombarded with ideas like, you know, we should give them patriot missiles or air defense. That would be a two year program to get missiles in there, train them maintenance programs.

None of that`s going to happen. They`re not going to end up with M1 main battle tanks. The time is short; the situation will be probably resolved in less than 90 days with Russian occupation of much of the country. The cities are going to be devastated.

So I think what you should - we should focus on is the next step. Secretary Blinken just was in Brussels today, thank God in both European Union meetings and NATO. He`s going into Poland; he`s going into the Baltic States, which are probably the next target.

So we adroitly managed to bring together the European world understand the threat of Putin, who may be going off his own rails with these nuclear threat.

RUHLE: Eugene, no doubt the administration would like to look at some other stories. We got a huge jobs report today. 670,000 new jobs created. The president`s approval rate jumped up eight points to 47 percent in a new poll but none of that is getting any attention.


RUHLE: For this White House, does all focused, going forward, need to be on the situation in Europe?

DANIELS: It does, because they have to be seen as the leader here. This president knows that the people around him know that, because he made sure, for months. And they talked about this, for months; about that Russia was going to invade Ukraine. Have a beating that drumbeat of warning everybody.

And more importantly, I think in something that doesn`t happen often, telling everyone how much information they were sharing by then. So, they`ve already talking about how they`ve been the leader to bring this coalition of international leaders together and international countries together.

So they have to continue there, it`s kind of see that through to whatever that end is, while also thinking about all of the other things that are on their plate, and enormously large plate with enormously humongous issue on the same plate.

As they go in and think about the midterm right, and this White House, as they have been looking at what`s going on with Russia, they have talked mostly as we talk earlier about the sanctions. Talking about how much have they done to squeeze Putin?

But everybody also knows that they are giving munitions. There we`ve given deliver different weapons, stinger weapons, but they are not saying that publicly because what they also know is that, they have to make sure that Vladimir Putin doesn`t get an excuse to say that we ratcheted things up, or that we`re more involved than we are because we know that he will lie.

And so that is something that they`re also and mostly concerned about as we move forward, so making sure they`re seeing as a part of the leadership of this operation without being seen by Putin as changing things and escalating things. And so they have a huge, huge issue that they are trying to regard to say the leads.

RUHLE: As we move forward, into day nine, Jeremy, what are you looking out for this weekend? What`s your biggest concern?

BASH: Well, obviously, the indiscriminate shelling of Kyiv, and the leveling of apartment buildings, and further humanitarian flight out of the main city. And whether or not Zelenskyy can hold on, or whether he has to move locations to have readout in the west.

I mean, that`s I think is the next phase of this. If Russia takes Kyiv, they it changes the entire battlefield geometry. However, if Ukrainians continue to hold them off, and I think the Russians continue to get ground down, it provides a huge opportunity for the west to deliver a very significant political --.

RUHLE: Kyiv, which was once considered the heart of ancient Russia, now could potentially be under attack. Someone earlier today said, if they lose Kyiv, it`s this though is sacred. General, what`s your biggest fear right now?

MCCAFFREY: I think Jeremy put his finger on it. The part of the battle will come at Kyiv, 3 million people, a lot of people, a lot of them -- should they trapped there living in basements, starting at hungry, starting to lose electoral energy. Ukrainians have enormous courage and valor.

If they fight street to street, in urban warfare, the advantage is to the defender. They could devour thousands of Russian soldiers. Or they could stand back and pound the city. But I don`t think Putin would back off Kyiv, it`s going to be a bloody mess in the coming weeks.

RUHLE: Think about what it is like for Ukrainians in that city, in those basements, right now, as they are waking up, day nine? Eugene Daniels, General Barry McCaffrey, Jeremy Bash, thank you for joining us.

You certainly made us smarter tonight coming up, a member of Ukraine`s parliament here, on what it is like, right now, for people who are fleeing the violence and what they are telling their children tonight. And later the new rallying cry from Ukrainian President Zelenskyy to the world, one of his former advisers will be here. The 11th Hour is just getting underway on this Friday night.




ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: So we also have responsibility, as a secretary general said, to ensure that the war doesn`t spill over even beyond Ukraine. And again, because I think he put it so well, as he noted, the only way to actually implement something like a no-fly zone, is to send NATO planes into Ukrainian airspace and to shoot down Russian planes.

And that could lead to a full-fledged war in Europe. President Biden has been clear that we are not going to get into a war with Russia.


RUHLE: Secretary of State Antony Blinken today, reaffirmed the United States has no intention of closing the airspace over Ukraine. It is a huge blow to officials in the country who`ve been pleading with NATO and its allies to establish a no-fly zone.

Let`s welcome Ukrainian Parliament member, Inna Sovsun, thank you so much for joining me. This has been I can`t imagine what kind of week for you. I know you have been so passionate calling for a no fly zone. So many other members of your government have done so. And at least in the short term it does not seem like its happening. Is there anything else that can be done that would have a meaningful impact?

INNA SOVSUN, UKRAINE PARLIAMENT MEMBER: Well, not really. I`m hearing the news from Secretary Blinken; it exactly does feel like a betrayal on the side of the rest of Ukrainians. Can I remind everyone that in 1994, Ukraine gave up our nuclear weapons arsenal in exchange for assurances of security of Ukraine?

So the United States, the United Kingdom, the rest of the world did say that we shall be protecting Ukraine in case someone is attacking you in case you are in danger. And now we are just hearing excuses why the U.S., the NATO would not intervene.

And frankly speaking, the excuses. I`m not taking them. We do have children being killed and those airstrikes in all over the city. We do hear air raid alerts every three hours here in Kyiv. And I`m not even talking about my nature -- article which has just been turned into - in the matter of days.

So it does feel like betrayal, it does feel like we are left alone to fight this fight even though we were not the one who has started this war, and we were not the one who provoked. And we realized that even if Putin does what he wants to, even he destroys Ukraine totally, he will move further.

So the NATO will have to intervene once Putin moves into Poland, into Hungary, into Finland. So we are just asking to do that now so the full scale war can be avoided.


RUHLE: So you feel abandoned by NATO and the west. Without that protection, what do you think the fate of Ukraine will be?

SOVSUN: It is very sad, frankly speaking. I was talking to my son, who I haven`t seen from the first day of the war yesterday, the other day and he asked me, mom, when shall I see you again? And I didn`t know how to answer that question.

And I know that millions of other Ukrainians who are doing the same. They are leaving their children, and they`re sending their children abroad and staying here in order to fight. But we are fighting on the ground as hard as we can.

And I have my boyfriend with the army; I have my dad joining the territorial defense. Trust me; we are not trying to avoid the fight. We are fighting on the ground as hard as we can. But we really can`t fight when their bombs falling on our heads. So I believe that there will be just devastation for a country of 14 million, a devastation of my land. I don`t know if I`ll ever be able to come back home ever. And that doesn`t look good.

We shall not be able to win this war without support from --. And if the NATO stays, if the U.S. does not want to intervene directly with your pilots, just give us the fighter jets. We do have our pilots here. We can use them. That will be our battle. But we just need the technology, at least, to be able to cover our skies.

RUHLE: Did I just hear you say your dad is there fighting? How old is he?

SOVSUN: My dad is not with the army, but with whatever calls the territorial defense. So the territorial defense is those volunteer units of people who are standing at the checkpoints on the entrance or so with the cities, the villages.

Frankly speaking, I was thinking my dad would go to western Ukraine where he took my mom, and that he would stay there. But on the second day of war, he decided to come back. And I was talking to him, I said dad, you are 61 years old, why are you doing that? Why are you coming back?

SOVSUN: And also he has sick knees. So he cannot really walk very fast. And he told me, well, I will crawl if I have to. But I am not leaving and I am going to defend the city of Kyiv.

And - the last couple of days, three days, I wasn`t able to get in touch with him. I was extremely worried. My mom was crying all the time. Because we knew where he was there were major battles taking place. Just yesterday, even at six in the morning here in Ukraine, we got a message that he`s OK and he is alive.

But that was extremely tense. And then like if I don`t hear for my boyfriend for a couple of hours, again I start going crazy. Because again, the situation is extremely tense and people are dying on the ground here. And I`m not the only one, there are many Ukrainians who are in the same position, who didn`t know when and where they will see or hear from their loved ones.

RUHLE: You left your son; you separated from your son eight days ago. How hard was that for you? And when do you think you`ll see him again?

SOVSUN: So when the first bombs started exploding over the city, his dad, my ex-husband called my son and we had an agreement with him with my ex- husband, that in case the war starts, he will be the one relocating our son to the west because I am a member of parliament.

I cannot really leave; I have to stay here with my people. I have to show that we are standing strong. So I knew that this was a possibility, I never trusted that this would actually be happening. When we were making this plan month ago, we think like yes, that`s never going to happen, that`s just in case.

But then when Putin declared war against Ukraine, and my ex-husband called me and said well, I am doing that, I am taking our son to the west, to the western Ukraine. Yes, I was trying not to think about that, I was trying to make sure he is safe.

But I do not know what is safe in Ukraine right now. I am now actually considered on where I should take my son somewhere further too some western European country. But I will have to come back.

So I will have to leave my son with someone, somewhere, because I have to come back. His dad cannot leave because the men are not allowed to leave the country. So it`s heartbreaking, frankly speaking. I cry every time I talk to him because he`s asking me when I shall see you again. And I don`t know how to answer that.

RUHLE: My goodness. You are an extraordinary woman. Inna Sovsun, thank you for joining us tonight, I wish you good luck, stay safe, and we are thinking about your son tonight.

SOVSUN: Thank you.

RUHLE: Coming up, the powerful new message from Ukrainian President Zelenskyy to Europe and the rest of the world. We`ll talk to one of his former advisers when the 11th Hour continues.




VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, PRESIDENT OF UKRAINE: If we win, and I`m sure will win, this will be the victory for the whole democratic world. This will be the victory of freedom. This will be the victory of light over darkness, a freedom of slavery. And if we win, we will become as blossoming as Europe. And Europe will be flourishing more than ever after this magnificent victory glory to Ukraine.



RUHLE: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy rallying people across Europe this afternoon tying Ukraine`s fate and their freedom to the survival of democracy. With us tonight to discuss, Igor Novikov, he`s a former adviser to Ukrainian President Zelenskyy. I am so glad you are with us. Earlier this evening, I heard Sean Penn talk about his meetings over the last week with the president. And I want to share what he said.


SEAN PENN: I don`t know if he knew that he was born for this. But, it was clear I was in the presence of something. And again I think reflected of so many Ukrainians that was new, that was new to the modern world in terms of courage and dignity and love that comes out of the man. And the way he has unified that country.


RUHLE: Well, I mean, Sean Penn, only spend a few minutes, over the course of a couple of days with him. You have known this man for years and years. Does that description matchup with your experience?

IGOR NOVIKOV, FORMER ADVISOR TO UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT ZELENSKYY: Good evening. Well, it does. There`s one small nuance that I have to point out. President Zelenskyy at the moment is waiting for the Ukrainian people, first and foremost to channel the energy. So it`s only about the president, every Ukrainian is like that at the moment.

Well, I mean, the source of bravery and love, and compassion that we`re seeing is just incredible for all the stories of adoption, where parents are being killed in places like Kharkiv. I mean, people are risking their lives to how the loved ones and their neighbors.

So President Zelenskyy is just a poster child, in a sense, for what we are like. But he is truly a great man. And if I were the west, I would be listening to him. Because the motion sees going through that emotional spectrum, it`s really important for you guys to understand, where we stand, at each particular moment.

Because at the moment, I mean, there is a certain amount of this solution and that`s coming. Because I fully concur with whom you`ve just had before me on the show. I mean, like we need that no-fly zone.

We are paying with blood, holding kind of holding back evil. Evil that doesn`t have illusions, I mean, that evil is not going to stop. It`s now going to -- with Ukraine. I mean, what really hearing Russian political analysts saying, well, this war is going to end further than the western border of Ukraine.

So, we need all of help we can get, and we need to prevent that unjustified and - life. Don`t be run and wait from a conflict with evil. If the 20th century teaches us anything, that` not a solution. That means you`re just delaying the conflict, and it`s going to get bloodier by the hour.

RUHLE: Then what do you think his message will be tomorrow? He is doing a video conference with U.S. senators.

NOVIKOV: Well, at the moment I mean, I`ve spoken to a number of people -- people on the inner circle, and everyone else is the --. I mean, keeping dark compensations private because of security reasons.

The main theme at the moment is this solution - western partners unfortunately. And there are two sites. So the first site is obviously the lack of no fly zone. It`s really difficult I mean, you notice my t-shirt, it`s really difficult to explain to my two little girls why the bombs are still landing.

The west has the technology, we have the people, and we don`t want your people to be dying in Ukraine. But what`s the problem with giving us that technology? I mean, you don`t want to get into a conflict with Russia, fair enough; it`s a run over Ukraine.

I mean, you`re going to fight them in Poland. Or is the same situation repeats itself in Poland. And Poland is a NATO member. So do you really want to be facing that end of question, at the very border of NATO? Let`s put it this way.

Secondly, I mean, disillusionment with western business. I mean, we are seeing some statements from western companies, saying, if we are going to stay in Russia, and pay taxes? Well every set of those taxes, lands are not - in the form of ballistic missiles, bombs, and rockets, and those indiscriminate bombings.

And like look, I want to take this opportunity and personally in life, every still the --national company that decided to stay in Russia, to come and stay with me for a couple of days in Kyiv to kind of to get your tax returns. And then see if you can change your mind.

RUHLE: I know we`re out of time, but you mentioned and I have to ask your Best Dad t-shirt. I think that`s Darth Vader on it. How are your children? I`m guessing, right now they loving seeing you wear that shirt.


NOVIKOV: Do you remember the movie; the Italian movie that won an Oscar, Life is Beautiful? So obviously we play pretend a lot. So my younger daughter, who is two and a half, we pretend that the ballistic missiles exploding artist fireworks.

The older daughter, we are trying to kind of gamify the situation as much as possible. One of the solutions she has found is those like wireless headphones. So she keeps them on continuously with like music playing.

So she doesn`t get the booms, it`s only - the house shaking, but she can live with that. Look, one last message. There`s a resolve, even among the children. I mean, it`s not like they`re crying, and asking us to take away somewhere.

Everyone understands like look, this is the place to make that stand for the good of the world, for the good to actually prevail. We aren`t going to run. It`s just a question if we can get any more help to prevent the loss of life. That would kind of save our relationship with the west and prevent that disillusion once this is all over. But don`t be pessimistic; we`re going to win this.

RUHLE: Well, I will tell you this, though we just met, I am going to guess you are a much better dad than Darth Vader. He wasn`t that good. Thank you so much for joining us, I really appreciate it Igor and best to your girls.

NOVIKOV: Thank you.

RUHLE: Coming up, she is in documenting danger in times of conflict for decades. One of the world`s best war photographers joins us next from Kyiv. She is staying there to bear witness, while so many flee when the 11th Hour continues.



RUHLE: All this week, as the assault on Ukraine has intensified, some journalist has had to leave the city of Kyiv. And others are staying behind to help record history. Lynsey Addario is among them. She`s a Pulitzer Prize Winning Photo Journalist, working in Kyiv right now for the New York Times.

Lynsey, you have been covering war for years in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, and Libya. Now here you are in a city where some people are trapped and many, many are trying to get out, you are not. You`re staying, why?

LYNSEY ADDARIO, PULITZER PRIZE WINNING PHOTO JOURNALIST: Well, I mean, the reason why I do this work is because I think it`s incredibly important for people to see what`s happening on the ground for policymakers to understand the toll of war, the civilian toll of war, what`s happening.

I think there`s a lot of misinformation going around. A lot of propaganda and the role of journalists right now who are witnessing things are fundamental.

RUHLE: How does what you are witnessing in Ukraine right now compared to what you`ve seen for the last few years and all over the world?

ADDARIO: I mean, I don`t think I have ever seen such incredible civilian mobilization. I haven`t seen a country sort of band together and really just volunteered to fight, to donate blood, to do whatever they can to help repel the Russians. I think that people feel very, very strongly about maintaining their unity as a country.

RUHLE: These photos are absolutely incredible. Have you seen the situation changed dramatically over the last few days?

ADDARIO: Yes, it`s definitely gotten more desperate, it`s gotten tenser. I think we have been lucky, because there has been cloud cover, it`s been foggy. So in terms of air strikes, it hasn`t really been the weather for air strikes. And yesterday, the cloud started thinning, we heard more and more rockets, we heard jets at one point. So I think everyone is kind of waiting for the worst so yes.

RUHLE: As you capture some of these extraordinary images, are people telling you their stories?

ADDARIO: Yes, of course, I mean, for me, reporting and speaking to people is as important as documenting the photographs. I think it`s important for me to make sure have the correct stories behind the photos. It`s been really chaotic. So in some instances, I can`t speak to people, I don`t speak the language, but I certainly whenever I can try to get the back stories.

RUHLE: You`re a mother as well, what is it like for you with your family so far away for you and here you are with mothers, and their babies, and shelters?

ADDARIO: Yes, I mean, I try to compartmentalize. I try really hard not to think about my own family in these moments because it will be very hard to hold it together. There are moments, of course, where I just cry. I mean, it`s very difficult, what we`re witnessing.

I mean to see the desperation, to see mother sort of carrying their children across train tracks, giving birth in a basement. These are things that are just inhuman. I mean, these are things that in 2022, people should not be going through.

RUHLE: What do you want us to know about where you are and the people you`re with?

ADDARIO: Well, we`ve been watching this in sort of slow motion, and now it`s happening. And civilians are dying and people are suffering. And you have hundreds of thousands of people fleeing for their lives. Why is this happening?

Why can we not stop this as an international community? Yes, the west has sort of banded together. Yes, there is a great unity in everyone trying to fight this. But it is still happening and people are still suffering.

RUHLE: Lynsey, thank you for joining us this evening, thank you for the work that you`re doing there, I appreciate it.

ADDARIO: Thank you.

RUHLE: Coming up, the moment in the middle of a refugee camp, that stunned the world today when the 11th Hour continues.



RUHLE: The last thing before we go tonight, as Fred Rogers said, when he was just a boy during dark times in the news, his mother would tell him to look for the helpers. But we all know this week has been very dark. So we found the helpers.

Everyone knows that turning seven years old is a big deal. Now imagine having that birthday days after losing your home, fleeing your country and separating from your friends. Well suddenly, you`re among thousands of frightened Ukrainian refugees arriving in border countries heartbroken, tired and homesick.

So many kids have had their lives up ended, which makes this moment so memorable. At a refugee camp in Romania, the helpers, the volunteers and emergency services personnel managed to throw a surprise party for a little seven year old Ukrainian girl named Arena (ph), watch.


A really good reminder for people of all ages; it costs nothing to be kind. Happy Birthday Arena (ph). And on that good note, I will take a deep breath and wish you a good night. Thanks for staying up late. I`ll see you next week.