IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Transcript: The 11th Hour with Stephanie Ruhle, 3/16/22

Guests: Sudarsan Raghavan, Eugene Daniels, Barry McCaffrey, William Taylor, Julia Ioffe, Igor Novikov, Michael Beschloss


35-hour curfew in Kyiv expires, a new Russian strike hits a Mariupol theater believed to be sheltering women and children. Ukraine`s military starts launching counteroffensives against Russian forces. President Biden pledges $800 million in new military aid to Ukraine after President Zelenskyy`s emotional plea to U.S. Congress.



VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): That is why the heart will always remain with the Ukrainians.


LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: President Zelenskyy gets tonight`s "LAST WORD." You can see more of Lester Holt`s interview with President Zelenskyy tomorrow on the Today`s Show. THE 11TH HOUR with Stephanie Ruhle starts now.


STEPHANIE RUHLE, MSNBC HOST: Tonight, the unrelenting Russian assaults target even more civilians in Ukraine, a theater believed to be sheltering up to 1,000 people, women and children struck in a city described as hell on Earth. Plus, President Zelenskyy`s emotional plea to Congress today resonating around the world, invoking America`s darkest days to drive home his message.

And President Biden calls Putin a war criminal. The Kremlin says that is unforgivable. But will it change anything as the 11th Hour gets underway on a Wednesday night.

Good evening once again, I`m Stephanie Ruhle. We are entering day 22 of the Russian invasion, as one Ukrainian official describes the city of Mariupol hell on earth. Civilians in Mariupol, Kyiv and other cities are being terrorized by Russia`s relentless assault. We are in the final hours before a curfew in Kyiv expires on Thursday morning. NBC`s Richard Engel is on the ground in Ukraine with the latest.


RICHARD ENGEL, NBC NEWS CHIEF FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With round the clock earthshaking bombings, Russia is turning Ukrainian cities in its crosshairs into a living hell. At a hospital in Mariupol, doctors struggled to handle the flood of injuries or dead.

Many of the images are too graphic to broadcast. But what we can air shows naked Russian brutality and the captive population.

Ukrainian officials say Russian forces bombed a theater used as a shelter in Mariupol and took over another hospital locking in hundreds of civilians, doctors and patients as human shields. Elsewhere, Russia bombed a market in Kharkiv.

While President Zelenskyy had Congress on its feet. President Vladimir Putin gave his own speech angry and rambling. He accused the West of trying to cancel Russia and called the Ukrainian government Nazis pursuing nuclear and biological weapons, including COVID. He vowed to cleanse Western minded Russians calling them traitors, not the talk of a man who seems interested in peace.


RUHLE: Thanks to Richard Engel. Today, President Zelenskyy addressed Congress as Richard mentioned, and he made an emotional plea to stop Putin.


ZELENSKYY (through translator): Remember, September the 11th, a terrible day in 20 --2001 when he will try to turn your cities, dependent territories in battlefields. Our country experienced the same every day.

President Biden you are the leader of the niche 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.


RUHLE: In addition to speaking to Congress, President Zelenskyy also sat down with our own Lester Holt, where he responded directly to fears over potentially triggering World War III.


LESTER HOLT, NBC NEWS ANCHOR: Do you agree that it wouldn`t take much to end up in World War III?

ZELENSKYY (through translator): Nobody knows where they`re -- it may have already started.


RUHLE: President Biden announced the U.S. is sending $800 million in new military aid to Ukraine. That aid includes anti-aircraft systems, anti- armor systems, machine guns, and drones. And that is on top of what we`re already doing.


JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: The American people will be steadfast in our support of the people of Ukraine in the face of Putin`s immoral, unethical attacks on civilian populations. We are united in our abhorrence of Putin`s depraved onslaught. And we`re going to continue to have their backs as they fight for their freedom, their democracy, their very survival.


RUHLE: Meanwhile, Ukrainian forces are trying to gain momentum on their side, launching their own counter attacks on Russian positions outside Kyiv, and a Russian occupied city.

The goal is to cause as one official told The New York Times maximum losses on the Russian military.

So let`s bring in our reporters NBC`s Cal Perry in Lviv and MSNBC new contributor Sudarsan Raghavan. He`s a correspondent at large reporting for The Washington Post in Kyiv.


Cal, how have Russian forces ramped up attacks on civilians, they keep saying they`re not going after civilians. We both know that`s not the case. You`re there. What do you see?

CAL PERRY, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: We have evidence that they are especially in that city of Mariupol, where you saw that report from my colleague, Richard Engel. Russian forces are inside the main hospital now in that city. It is a particularly uniquely grotesque war crime because you`re actually stopping civilians from receiving treatment, you`re using the civilians who are in that hospital as human shields, and you`re preventing the soldiers who are fighting on behalf of Ukraine from either seeing their relatives or from receiving treatment and you`re stopping bodies from being buried. And that`s why we now see mass graves in the city of Mariupol.

And as the sun comes up this morning, we`re going to be looking at that theater around 1,000 civilians huddled inside that theater. And in fact, in the last few hours, we`ve seen Maxar technology, a satellite image showing that written around that building in Russian, where the words children, that is why the local officials there say they believe the Russians were targeting that theater.

Again, we understand that the entryway was collapsed. So we just don`t know who survived that attack. The rescuers are hoping today, the bombardment will ease a little bit so they can get to that site.

Just to the north of that and a town called Zaporizhia. This is a place where people are fleeing, again, that green corridor, so called green corridor to allow civilians out was targeted by the Russian military. A number of cars were hit there earlier today. All of this while President Zelenskyy was giving that speech.

Finally, I just want to take you north of Kyiv to the city of Chernihiv. We heard from the U.S. Embassy here today that at least 10 civilians were quote gunned down by Russian forces while they waited in a breadline. It is the lead story here on the news bodies in the streets of any number of Ukrainian cities in the East.

And I`ll leave you just in the last couple hours, we heard from the Ministry of Health, they`re putting out new statistics they say in just the first three weeks of this war, a 117 hospitals have been hit, seven of them they cannot repair, seven hospitals completely destroyed. 43 ambulances hit as well. Stephanie.

RUHLE: You are not leaving us anytime soon, Cal. I know it is just after 5:00 am. But your reporting is essential right now. It said children outside that theater specifically in hopes of it not being targeted. And alas, that is the opposite of what happened.

Sudarsan, people might not realize just how strong Ukraine`s military is. How are they managing to hold off the Russians?

SUDARSAN RAGHAVAN, THE WASHINGTON POST CORRESPONDENT-AT-LARGE: So far, certainly outside the capitol, they`ve been doing an amazingly resilient job. I mean, everyone expected the Russian forces to enter the capital within the first few days. They had launched an air raid assault taking over an airport about just 15 miles north of the center here. And they expected to make a quick advance straight into the capital.

But instead what they found was the Ukrainians waiting for them. They -- The Ukrainians had launched an insurgent style guerrilla warfare tactics to really stop the Russian advance especially just in a town, a city actually northwest from here on the edges of the capitol known as Irpin, where the Russians are still are, that frontline hasn`t shifted in a couple of weeks.

And the Ukrainians are using all sorts of unconventional tactics ambushes firing from behind trees and from buildings. In some cases, there`s a street to street warfare, but they`ve managed to really stop the Russians from pushing forward into the capital.

RUHLE: Cal, on average, over 75,000 children become refugees every single day, what`s the latest on the resources available to handle all these people?

PERRY: -- the best they can. This has become a waystation because there`s just no more room here. It`s a city that normally has a population of 700,000. Now well over a million people. And the growing concern is as people, you know, move to Poland, they move to Hungary, that refugees are going to continue to be exploited.

You know, we keep talking about this, but families are being separated and men are unable to leave this country. They`re headed to the front. And so you have some children walking across borders alone with notes pinned to their clothing about their relatives, who are back in Ukraine, and how to reach them.

The other thing that`s happening here in Lviv is we`re seeing orphanages start and then those orphanages are filling up and they`re running out of room. Unaccompanied children are ending up fleeing these battlefields into the West. And it just seems unrelenting. It seems like the numbers are not stopping. The human traffic is overwhelming. And the situation is only getting worse, Stephanie.

RUHLE: Unaccompanied children, how can they even be kept track of over time. Sudarsan, I want you to take a look at what Kyiv`s mayor had to say to Putin`s claims that Russia isn`t targeting civilians. Watch this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Putin says he`s only targeting military targets.

VITALI KLITSCHKO, KYIV MAYOR: Bullshit. Sorry. Where`s military target? This building is military target?



RUHLE: He is not wrong. Given that how scared are people there?

RAGHAVAN: Very much so. I mean, right now, Kyiv has survived the kind of massive bombardment you`re seeing in other cities such as Kharkiv and Chernihiv and in other places, but that`s the fear amongst many people here. They are worried that what happened to these other cities like Mariupol and Kharkiv can very well happen in Kyiv. So people are preparing.

I mean, you`ve already seen hundreds of thousands of people flee this capital of nearly three million people, and others are just, you know, staying in their apartments or they`re an underground bunkers. And they`re concerned.

One person the other day told me in front of this very apartment building you`re showing was on TV was told me, look, nowhere safe in Kyiv anymore. So people are really worried that because increasingly, the line between combatants and noncombatants, it`s being blurred and, you know, the entire city has become a target.

RUHLE: Sudarsan, thank you so much for joining us this morning. I`m appreciative that you`ve joined our team here at MSNBC and Cal, thank you always. I hope the two of you get some rest.

With that, let`s bring in our experts. Eugene Daniels, White House correspondent for Politico, retired four star US Army General Barry McCaffrey, a decorated combat veteran of Vietnam and a former battlefield commander in the Persian Gulf, and William Taylor, former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine. He is also the United States Institute of Peace, Vice President for Russia, and Europe. As I said, we`ve got the experts.

Eugene, I want to start with you. There`s been a narrative that people are falling for including the media that the United States is not doing much in terms of helping Ukraine. That is not true. For facts sake, please take a look at this list. 800 Stinger anti-aircraft systems, 9,000 anti-armor systems that includes 2,000 javelins, 7,000, rifles, machine guns, shotguns, grenade launchers, 100 drones, and 20 million rounds of ammunition. And I have not even mentioned the massive sanctions that are crippling their economy so much. Putin had to acknowledge it in his address today.

Isn`t the White House strategically doing a lot already?

EUGENE DANIELS, POLITICO WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: No, absolutely. And that`s not to mention what happened way before then Beijing even started working to build a coalition of countries around the world to do the exact same thing to try to figure out what sanctions would work to working with our allies building and keeping this coalition together, as has become more dangerous as it`s become scarier for countries to give whatever they can to Ukraine.

And the stuff that you outlined today, just now is the additional things, right? This country has given a lot of help to Ukraine over the last few months and year, as they`ve been dealing with, with what`s going on with Russia.

And that aspect of it, I think is being lost a lot of the time because people are seeing all of these terrible, terrible images of kids, pregnant women, people being attacked, who clearly are not in the military or not in the army.

And so it you know, it makes sense that people are saying, well, what are we doing to help and not acknowledging all of that -- all that`s been done, and the administration knows this. They know that people are going to come to the United States and say they should do more, which is why they continue to do more, which is why you see the President going over to Europe next week, to make sure that everyone knows that he is still and this country is still doing all they can to make clear that what`s happening in Ukraine is not going to stay in and America is going to continue to give resources as we move forward.

RUHLE: The situation on the ground in Ukraine is devastating. But we should remind our audience, it is also a far right narrative that keeps getting pushed, that the U.S. isn`t doing anything. And those same Republican lawmakers that are pushing President Biden to do more quicker are the same people who didn`t want Trump to do anything.

General McCaffrey, that list that I just went through, that didn`t just get thrown together in a few minutes. Can you explain to us the amount of effort and planning and coordination with NATO allies to figure out that support network? And do you believe it`s enough to keep Russian troops back?

GEN. BARRY MCCAFFREY, U.S. ARMY (RET.): Oh, look, you know, normally foreign military sales moving complicated technologies in another country case a year to five years. Legally ownership information technology problems. This has happened in a matter of weeks. U.S. European Command has put together 14 separate nations, not NATO operation is funneling massive amounts of aid across the border.


I think President Zelenskyy`s inspirational leadership, and the incredible courage and tenacity of their ground combat units has taken these tools of war, smart munitions, and done absolutely unbelievable things for that they`ve fought to a standstill, a quarter of a million man Russian armed forces.

Now, going forward coalition of forces, it`s still bad. The Ukrainians need more complicated systems are tough to move S-300 anti-missile defense systems will be a real challenge to get that to the fighters in Ukraine.

But I think you`re going to see a continued substantial support. And the Ukrainians are actually so well organized. They`re getting into their fighting unit. So, look at the grim scene, Kyiv has not yet been hit with massive amounts of Russian artillery and rockets. That`s the next step. But it`s an optimistic picture on the ground from a soldier`s viewpoint.

RUHLE: How about false optimism, Ambassador Taylor, earlier today, the Russian foreign minister said that there is hope for reaching a compromise. Do you see that in any way? I mean, at the same time, Putin gave a dramatic, rambling speech full of lies to his own people, saying that what Russia was doing was all defensive and protecting them against Nazis. Lie, lie, lie.

WILLIAM TAYLOR, FMR. U.S. AMBASSADOR TO UKRAINE: Stephanie, of course, you`re exactly right. That speech by President Putin was not only lies, it was hatred. And Stephanie, even hatred for his own people, for Russians. This was an amazing display, in particular, in contrast to President Zelenskyy`s, as General McCaffrey just said inspirational speech.

President Putin made it clear his hatred for all the things that he`s trying to do. And General McCaffrey is exactly right, the Ukrainian military so far, here we are in day 22 is holding off, is holding off this very large Russian military capability. And the Russian military capability is not doing very well. It`s running out of fuel, it`s running out of food, it`s not being able to move.

And if it can hold on, if the Ukrainian military can hold on, and continue to defend Kyiv and defend these other cities, I mean, it`s the Russians have only gotten one city, the others are being are still contested. And if they can continue to do that, then there is a chance.

In that case, Stephanie, there is a chance for some discussion, some serious discussion, some serious negotiation. But it`s only when President Putin realizes that his troops, his military effort is failing. That`s when we can start to have a serious negotiation.

RUHLE: Eugene, you talk to the White House, how did they receive Zelenskyy`s speech to Congress today?

DANIELS: Yes, I mean, it was emotional for them. Right. It was something that they kind of expected. He talked about making sure that in asking that the United States and NATO countries protect the sky, right, create a no- fly zone over Ukraine, which something the administration has been reticent to do for obvious reasons. They say that that would cause interactions, direct military interactions with Russian plane shooting, possibly having to shoot down -- shooting down Russian planes.

But it hit at the heartstrings. And it was another one of the reasons by President Biden kind of he took some time, a little bit longer than he was supposed to get up and talk to his feet because they wanted to make sure they struck the right for the President talked about how he watched the speech in the resident, because he wanted to see with his own eye, what exactly this leader that the entire world has been watching in his green T- shirt, looking and talking like a leader who is under direct and is looking for as much help as he possibly can.

And especially when you invoke the word Martin Luther King, Jr., a hero in this country, we talked about 911. We talked about Pearl Harbor attacks on American soil. That also is something that the White House was taking very seriously. And as they`ve done and continue to do, say, OK, what are the things that we can figure out and how does the President talk about how we`re going to continue to help and lift up President Zelenskyy without, you know, going too far and getting in direct confrontation with Russia?

RUHLE: General McCaffrey, I think it took me a minute to process Ambassador Taylor`s response that we could see hope if the Russian troops were failing. Do you see that being the case anywhere? What kind of progress is Russia making on the ground?


MCCAFFREY: Well, I totally think that. You know, at some point, right now Mr. Putin that hateful speech to his own people primarily reaching out to try and get support out of China. There is no chance that they`re going to try and search essential amount of equipment technology, nevermind soldiers to rescue Putin and Ukraine. They`re trying to recruit foreign fighters in Syria. They weren`t very good at fighting in their own cities.

So, I think the next step, we`re going to see the Russians calling up the reserve. It`s going to be a huge shock to the civil population of Russia. But he has run out of steam for now. He is under incredible economic and political sanctions. They are becoming a prion nation, he has united NATO, the Biden team, Secretary Clinton and Lloyd Austin have done an incredible job bringing together all of Europe. He`s in a desperate circumstance.

Now, having said that, the Achilles heel are two million Ukrainian civilians in Kyiv right now, who will have a massive loss of life if they have to fight street by street in the city. Ukrainians will win that tactical fight for weeks. But it`s going to be a painful situation. I think the U.S. is also right now ramping up our monetary and food support for these millions of helpless shoving into our displacing country under a tracking country or fleeing into Europe.

RUHLE: Before we go, Ambassador Taylor, what the General was just mentioning, you know, just sort of Europe coming together. Can you speak about how President Biden has he done a good job uniting our allies around the world? From my little seat it seems extraordinary the coordination.

TAYLOR: The coordination has been extraordinary. Stephanie. One of General McCaffrey`s colleagues, General Doug Lute, who knows something about surges in the military. He has observed that this has been diplomatic surge. He`s never seen such a diplomatic activity, intense, consistent, high level, time after time, President Biden, Lincoln, Sullivan, Austin all the way down. This has been an amazing surge and amazing accomplishment.

I was adviser at NATO for a time when there were 16 nations. Now there are 30. And keeping those all together is a challenge. And then you`ve got the Japanese and the South Koreans and Australians. This has been a major effort and it`s a big success, Steph.

RUHLE: A big success. We always try to end on a positive note and I`m glad you gave it to us. Ambassador William Taylor, General Barry McCaffrey, Eugene Daniels, thank you all for joining us this morning.

When we come back, the Kremlin`s response to President Biden calling Vladimir Putin a war criminal. And later, how the history books will remember this day and the powerful message from President Zelenskyy to Congress. THE 11TH HOUR is just getting underway on a Wednesday night.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is Putin a war criminal, sir? Are you ready to call him a war criminal?

BIDEN: I think he is a war criminal.


RUHLE: He is a war criminal within hours of President Biden labeling Vladimir Putin a war criminal. A Kremlin spokesperson called his comments unacceptable and unforgiveable.

With us tonight to discuss Julia Ioffe, a Russian born American journalist and Puck News Washington correspondent. Julia, you have had some extraordinary coverage over the last few weeks. Thank you for all the work you`ve put in. So we`ve heard the Kremlin say it`s unforgivable. It`s unacceptable. But are they going to change their course of action in any way now that Biden has said that?

JULIA IOFFE, PUCK NEWS WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: I don`t think so. I also think, you know, it`s interesting that they`re saying it`s unforgivable and unacceptable when the fact of the matter is the International Criminal Court has already begun proceedings against them and are talking about opening a case because they believe there is enough evidence to open one, enough evidence that Putin`s army, the Russian army has, in fact committed war crimes in Ukraine.

I mean, we`re seeing it all with our eyes, right? It`s kind of undeniable. So this is just more of the same from the Kremlin.

RUHLE: Vladimir Putin also spoke to Russians today, his speech filled with venom and rambling lies. But I want to share one specific quote, where he said, in many Western countries, people are subjected to persecution, just because they`re originally from Russia. They`re being denied medical care, their children are expelled from schools, parents are losing their jobs, and Russian music, culture and literature are being banned. The Russians believe any of that to be true?

IOFFE: I`m sure they do. You know, I`ve actually just spent the last hour or so watching Kremlin TV. And it is just another reality. It is a parallel universe. And it has very little to do with the world you and I know and recognize.

And what is sad about what`s been happening for the last few weeks, you know, on one hand, you have Ukraine that`s being destroyed, but the Russian people are being kept in the dark. And all that was left a Russian independent media has been closed. And those journalists have been driven out of the country. And that`s kind of the combination of the last 22 years of Putin`s increasing control on the information sphere and on the media.

And by this point, it`s been, you know, this isn`t happening today. This isn`t a new development.


This has been slowly happening for the last 22 years and older people, people who watch TV who trust the state, who trust the television and what is said to them from the screens. They believe this stuff. I mean, this is -- they`ve been hearing this for the last eight years at least. So, I think a lot of them do believe but unfortunately.

RUHLE: Then how essential is it for Kremlin propagandists that now you`ve got far-right media outlets here in the United States, pushing these lies. And they`re able to clip these TV segments and put them on their air and say to the Russians, look, even the Americans are saying it.

IOFFE: That`s right. It`s very important. And it`s again, this is also the logical conclusion of what we started seeing in 2016, when you had the American right wing and the Kremlin feeding off of each other, amplifying each other, it was this kind of closed loop. It was this their own kind of echo chamber.

What you`re seeing now that like a very vivid example of this, and a very troubling one, is you had a rumor on the right-wing social media site gab about how Ukraine was developing chemical weapons with the help of the U.S. and that they were going to use this against the -- these weapons against the Russians.

The Kremlin picked this up. Tulsi Gabbard and Tucker Carlson picked it up, then the Kremlin picked it up. And they are just kind of talking back and forth and repeating the same lie, the same conspiracy theory back and forth, and amplifying each other.

RUHLE: Putin said one point --

IOFFE: And, you know, though, the one thing I`ll say is that, you know, every time I`m asked by Americans, you know, do Russians really believe this stuff? Like, how can they believe this stuff? As if we don`t have the same thing happening here. You have, what 40 percent of the population of the American population that was convinced just in one year that Donald Trump actually won the 2020 election. The Russians have been subjected to this kind of disinformation for far, far longer. So it shouldn`t be all that surprising. Americans fall for two pretty easily.

RUHLE: True that sister, Putin did say one thing today that was true. And it was surprising to hear it from a strongman. He talked about how difficult the sanctions were, how it was crushing their -- he didn`t say crushing, how it was hurting their economy and things were going to get even worse in the short term economically. How notable is that, Mr. Tough Guy, Mr. Strongman to admit that these sanctions hurt.

IOFFE: Well, he can`t really not admit it, although Russian state media isn`t really covering the effects of the sanctions. So it is notable that he mentioned it. But of course, he spun it to his political advantage. He tried to tap into this historical legacy of the Russian people to suffer for a greater cause. You know, they suffered through hunger and privation and destruction, to be back the Nazis in World War II. They suffered in 19 -- from 1979, to build this great state, the Soviet Union that Vladimir Putin so loved.

You often hear Putin`s ministers talking about this, while they of course, are getting rich off of the taxpayers and off of the things they pull out of the ground in Russia. They talk about how it`s very important for the Russian people to tighten their belts to suffer for the cause. And, again, it`s very different than in the U.S. where you have oil prices, gas prices rising by a little bit and suddenly everybody`s afraid they`re going to lose an election. In Russia, the idea is that the people exist for the state. The people should sacrifice for the glory of the state, not that the state exists to make their lives better.

RUHLE: Pain is part of the national pride. He can`t lie about the impact of the sanctions because his people are living it, losing their jobs, unable to afford to buy basic goods to take care of their families. Julie Ioffe, thank you so much for joining this evening. I appreciate it.

Coming up, one of President Zelenskyy`s former advisors joins us live from Kyiv. We`ll ask him if the Ukrainian`s president message to Congress today will make a difference in the war effort when the 11th Hour continues.



RUHLE: As the war in Ukraine enters a fourth week, millions have now fled the country but far more have stayed behind as their president pleads to the world for more help. Our friend Igor Novikov is among them. He is a former adviser to Ukrainian President Zelenskyy. He is still near Kyiv with his young family. Thank you for joining us again. I know it`s very early where you are. President Zelenskyy got a standing ovation earlier today. What does that mean to you and your country?

IGOR NOVIKOV, FMR. ADVISER TO UKRAINE PRESIDENT ZELENSKYY: Oh, first of all, good morning. Yes, they chose squarely. Look, President Zelenskyy actually said one important thing today. It really bewilders me that, you know, people find it surprising that he pointed out the similarities between the U.S. and Ukraine.

I mean, I think over the last three weeks, we`ve failed enough in blood, sweat and tears to kind of to also be cold, you know, the land of the free and the home of the brave, so that`s the first important message that he kind of delivered.


But the whole message that he was trying to convey was that, you know, the world is changing rapidly. And, you know, we`re past the point of no return. So instead of trying to adapt and reinvent the past, we need to kind of look to the future, and be more open to something new.

I keep saying today after hearing my president speak, that, you know, the architecture of the global security, you know, is in ruins. I mean, we`ve had that decision of ICJ, and International Court of Justice today. And like, you know, it called on Russia to stop, you know, the aggression.

And literally, I heard the first explosion, like two hours after the decision. So, you know, where does that leave the ICJ? Where does it leave the UN? I mean, the mother analogy is like, Russia, having veto power in the Security Council is like, you know, Hitler appointing judges at Nuremberg.

So, unfortunately, like, look, people try and kind of adapt this situation to what we`ve been through in the past. We haven`t been through anything like that in the past is the 21st century. And we need to kind of figure out that new way with some things.

RUHLE: Well, let`s look at what President Biden has put forth today $800 million in additional military aid now heading to Ukraine, you are right in the middle of everything. How essential is that?

NOVIKOV: Well, incredibly essential. I mean, like, literally 30 minutes ago, I was doing an interview, and there was a massive explosion, my house was shaking, they actually caught it live on camera, and like, look, obviously, that aid hasn`t arrived yet. And we kind of anxiously waiting here on the ground in Kyiv.

Look, the truth of the matter is, you know, the fight is here. And, you know, it should be won here. Because I mean, the worst case scenario that I keep discussing with everyone is if this fighting spread still western borders, because then, you know, NATO will be under pressure to see if the bureaucracy within NATO can actually survive provocations by Putin.

And look, I`ll get I`ll give you one analogy. I mean, I thought sort of it today. I used to do a lot of public speaking, especially about like the future of jobs, and you know, there`s happier subjects. And one of my last clients, I was already with Zelenskyy, but I kind of did it because we arranged it prior to that, was an airline. And what I`ve done my lecture and I kind of was talking to them over coffee, and I said, Guys, do you have a plan B, if the plane stop flying? That was three months before the pandemic.

I know, like, you know, certain professions and certain businesses look invincible, and looks -- look like they will last forever. But you know, in this day and age there, you always need to have Plan B, you need to move away from that mode of (ph) mentality, right. And, you know, that`s what happened. What`s happening in geopolitics, that`s what happened in global security, unfortunately.

RUHLE: And your plan B, do you still feel safe being so close to Kyiv with your family?

NOVIKOV: I have many plans B, C, D all the way through Z. You know, Z in the positive moment not busy that Russians are turning into the new swastika.

RUHLE: Well, I wish you safety and I`m thinking of your family on this Wednesday evening, Thursday morning, or you are. Igor Novikov, thank you for joining --

NOVIKOV: Thank you very much.

RUHLE: -- us again this evening. Coming up, he literally wrote the book, Presidents of War. We`ll ask historian Michael Beschloss about one president`s powerful message to America today. And what the history books will write about it for years to come. When the 11th Hour continues.




ZELENSKYY: President Biden, you are the leader of the niche 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.


RUHLE: Our next guest says events like that speech or changing the American Zeitgeist or put more simply, he says it is all part of a big moment in world history. We welcome back celebrated author and presidential historian Michael Beschloss. Twice in one night. I can`t get it right.


RUHLE: His latest book in a bookshelf full of works is "President of War." Michael, I cannot imagine a more ideal person to speak to on this very subject. I want to start with what President Zelenskyy just said that American presidents are expected to be the leader of the world. Isn`t that Biden is doing right now, though?

BESCHLOSS: Sure, he is. He`s expected to be the leader of the free world. And I hate to give any publicity to the previous president. But remember that just five years ago, Donald Trump was interviewed by Bill O`Reilly of all people before the Super Bowl. And he said, you know, why he was so up on Putin, why liked him so much. Putin is a killer. And Trump replies, you think that we don`t have killers in our country, we`ve got lots of killers too. That guy spent four years and more trying to erase the difference between autocracy and freedom.

And take a look at what we saw today. You know, anyone who saw Zelenskyy with a sense of history, which I know you have. You know, he reminded me and I`ll bet you he reminded you of our founders who fought for our freedom in America, those young people who fought in the in the 1770s against an oppressor who wanted to stamp out our independence and freedom.

And I hope that this will be as a clarifying moment that will tell a lot of Americans who allow people like Donald Trump and others to say maybe authoritarianism is not so bad, maybe it`s a better system, or allows people around the world choosing what government they want.


If they looked at Putin giving that speech today, and Zelenskyy getting his, I would almost guarantee you that most people who watched those two speeches would have said, I want a leader like Zelenskyy. I want a system like this.

RUHLE: Well, let`s talk about Vladimir Putin. Because when he spoke today, it reminded a lot of people of another notable leader in history. And I want to share one quote, that the New York Times published a Putin saying this, quote, the Russian people will always be able to distinguish true patriots from scum and traitors, and simply spit them out like a fly that accidentally flew into their mouths. I`m convinced that such a natural and necessary self-purification of society will only strengthen our country. What is your reaction to that?

BESCHLOSS: My reaction is it sounds just like Putin`s hero, Joseph Stalin, who killed tens of millions, as you know, of his own people, in order to increase his own power and for decades was a dictator in Russia, and showed the limits of that because when you`re a dictator. You`d like something that you don`t have in a democracy, which is, in a democracy when you go wrong, you have members of Congress, members of the press, you know, activist American saying you`re doing the wrong thing, you know, reconsider.

Dictator doesn`t even hear that criticism. Here`s a case where in a society your critic is your friend, and Putin has no friends.

RUHLE: I know, especially in the last few years, we`ve allowed the fringe to get louder and louder and confuse the fringe for being the majority of the country. But after the speech, we heard from Texas Republican senator, Texas Republican Senator Cornyn, who compared Zelenskyy to Churchill, and then compare Joe Biden to FDR, have these past few weeks change the narrative for Republicans?

BESCHLOSS: Of course they have. You and I would have been knocked out of our chairs three weeks ago if we thought of any circumstance under which John Cornyn of Texas Republican would be comparing Joe Biden to FDR, the zeitgeist has changed.

Everyone who is soft on Putin and everyone who made excuses for him, everyone who flirted with authoritarianism in this country who is running for office this year in two years, I think is going to have to pay a very heavy price. And we`re going to have to say, if you were for Vladimir Putin, what`s wrong with your judgment? Is that someone that we can really entrust the fate of American democracy.

RUHLE: It is what the history books are going to write about. Michael, you`re going to have your work cut out for you. Thank you for joining us tonight.

BESCHLOSS: Thank you, Stephanie. Thank you so much.

RUHLE: I really appreciate. Coming up, he has taken the world stage as a wartime leader, but he`s been in the spotlight for years and years. There`s Zelenskyy Ukrainians new first when the 11th Hour continues.



RUHLE: The last thing before we go tonight, a servant of the people. Do you recognize that Ukrainian TV star on the sweater vest? He is the current president of Ukraine, playing a history teacher back in 2015. And after that believable rant against government corruption went viral on the show, he got promoted to a TV president.

And just four years later in 2019, the entertainer who also has a law degree, by the way, was sworn in as Ukraine`s actual president. And aside from the controversy over a phone call with the former guy in our White House, most Americans still did not know his name. That all changed three weeks ago, and forever after Russia decided to invade his homeland.

Suddenly, Volodymyr Zelenskyy was a household name in this country and around the world. And that new popularity has prompted Netflix to give the people what they want tweeting this today, you asked and it`s back. Servant of the People is once again available in the US. The show is funny and full of heart as you can see right here.


RUHLE: A TV president now trying to keep his promise in real life as well. He has taken on the most challenging role of a lifetime, that of a wartime leader apart that he very likely hoped never to have to play. A true servant of the people.

And on that note, I wish you a very good night. Thank you for staying up late. I will see you at the end of tomorrow.