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Transcript: The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, 3/16/22

Guests: Adam Schiff, Angela Stent, Francis Fukuyama, Andriy Kulykov


MSNBC`s continuing live coverage of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Writing about the war in Ukraine this week, Francis Fukuyama says Russia is heading for an outright defeat in Ukraine. Putin will not survive the defeat of his army.


LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Ali, and thank you so much for that story.

You know, when you said you`re going to have a positive story at the end of the hour, I thought, what could that be? I don`t know this story. And I didn`t know this story, until you just told. Thank you very much for that.

ALI VELSHI, MSNBC HOST: Have a good evening, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

Well, Winston Churchill addressed a joint session of Congress in the House chamber during World War II and got exactly the kind of response Ukraine`s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy got today in his historic address to Congress.

President Zelenskyy ended his speech with a reference to the most painful thing he`s feeling in all of the suffering that Russia is inflicting on Ukraine -- the hearts of more than 100 children that have stopped beating.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT: Now, I am almost 45 years old and today my age stopped when the hearts of more than 100 children stopped beating. I see no sense in life if it cannot stop deaths. And this is my main mission as the leader of my people, Ukrainians.

And as leader of my nation, I am addressing the President Biden. You are the leader of the nation, of your great nation. I wish you to be the leader of the world. And being the leader of the world means to be the leader of peace.

Thank you. Slava Ukraini.

TRANSLATOR: Glory to Ukraine.



O`DONNELL: As of tonight, the official count of Ukrainian children murdered by Vladimir Putin is 103. "Associated Press" reporter Mstyslav Chernov has been there on some of those children`s hearts stopped beating. He has reported on mass graves that include some of those children. Many bodies cannot be buried at all and are simply left in the street, while Russian shelling in the city of Mariupol continues.

Mstyslav Chernov described a hospital basement containing dead bodies and reporting, quote, adults and children are laid out awaiting someone to pick them up. The youngest still has an umbilical stump attached. Vladimir Putin killed that just born baby. He killed that baby in an invasion that Donald Trump said was genius.

Show this to Putin -- a doctor working to save a six-year-old girl said to an AP reporter. The doctor wanted Putin to see, quote, the eyes of the child and crying doctors. The girl appeared to be about six years old and a team of "Associated Press" correspondents reported that the child could not be saved. Doctors covered the body with her pink striped jacket and gently closed her eyes. She now rests in the mass grave.

A group of teenage boys went out to play soccer on March 2nd. And a bomb tore through the legs of one of the boys. He couldn`t be saved.

Photographs of a toddler named Kirill were widely distributed around the world, showing him bundled in a blanket arriving at the hospital. The "AP" team report tells the rest of the story. Quote, Kirill, the toddler struck in the head by shrapnel, his mother and stepfather bundled him in a blanket. They hope for the best and then endured the worst.

Why, why, why? His sobbing mother Marina Yatsko asked in a hospital hallway as medical workers looked on helplessly.


She tenderly unwrapped the blanket around the child`s lifeless -- child, around the lifeless child, to kiss him and inhale his scent one last time.

Vladimir Putin knows that he is killing babies. He knows that he is killing grandparents and knows that he is killing innocent people of all ages. He is now the world`s most lethal sociopath. And his sociopathic friend in Florida said that it was genius for Vladimir Putin to invade Ukraine, genius.

Donald Trump has not apologized for that "genius" comment about Vladimir Putin but he is now trying to adjust his comments to the new reality of Vladimir Putin`s homicidal manners. In an exclusive interview with the Trump supporting "Washington Examiner" yesterday, Donald Trump said, I`m surprised -- I`m surprised. I thought he was negotiating when he sent his troops to the border. I thought he was negotiating. I thought it was a tough way to negotiate but a smart way to negotiate.

Donald Trump is still saying that the man who helped him get elected and try to help him get reelected is smart. The baby killer is smart, according to Donald Trump.

And to explain away why Donald Trump has always been so friendly with the world`s new war criminal, Donald Trump is now saying, I think he has changed. I think he`s changed. It`s a very sad thing for the world. He`s very much changed.

But this is the way the Vladimir Putin has waged war before. And so, no, nothing has changed. He has always been willing to kill anyone and everyone in his line of fire.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Did you ask me whether I would call him?

REPORTER: Call him a war criminal, sir.

BIDEN: Oh, I think he is a war criminal.


O`DONNELL: Today, Vladimir Putin called Russian protesters against his war, quote, scum and traitors.

This week`s suddenly most famous Russian protester against Vladimir Putin`s war is now understandably living in fear of Putin`s homicidal rage. Marina Ovsyannikova ran on to the set of the most popular Russian TV newscast when Vladimir Putin was probably watching, holding up her anti-war protests sign.

Today in a first interview after being released from police custody, she said she wasn`t sure whether she could go through with it and, like other brave protesters I have spoken with, she said something they all say. She said, I absolutely don`t feel like a hero.


MARINA OVSYANNIKOVA, ANTI-WAR PROTESTER (translated): It was really scary -- scary is not even the word for that. I wasn`t sure whether I could go through with it right until the last moment because, you understand, on the Channel One -- and the main news programme in the country there are several layers of security, and it`s not that easy to get into the studio. And there`s a member of law enforcement sitting right in front of the studio who makes sure that these kinds of incidents don`t happen. I won`t go into details because it was a loophole in Channel One`s security arrangements.

The protest had two goals: show the world that Russians are against the war, and to show Russian people directly: "Don`t be such zombies; don`t listen to propaganda; learn how to analyze information; learn how to find other sources of information, not just Russian state television."

I absolutely don`t feel like a hero. I don`t know -- you know, I really want to feel that this sacrifice was not in vain, and that people will open their eyes. I look at my mother who watches (state TV presenter Vladimir) Solovyov and has been totally zombified by state propaganda. I am concerned for may safety, if I`m honest. I`m quite -- I believe in what I did, but now I understand the scale of the problems that I`ll have to deal with, and, of course, I`m extremely concerned for my safety.

I wasn`t planning to leave the country. I didn`t want to, and couldn`t afford it anyway. I can`t imagine what I would do abroad professionally. And after all, my friends are here, my loved ones, my mother, my children. I live in the real world.



O`DONNELL: Leading off our coverage from Ukraine tonight, as every, night is NBC News correspondent Cal Perry in Lviv.

Cal, what is the situation there and around the country tonight?

CAL PERRY, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDNT: Well, in Mariupol, according to local officials, people there, if they are able to, are living through hell. At some point, we are going to stop counting bodies and we are going to talk about the people surviving this bombardment.

They are to the sites we are keeping our eyes on as the son comes up here in Ukraine. The first is that theater where roughly, we, think 1000 civilians, mostly women and children we think, were huddled when a -- struck the theater. It collapsed the entryway. Rescuers are unable to tell us how many people are there and still alive, because they cannot get to the site because of the bombardment.

The hospital in the center of Mariupol has now been taken over by Russian soldiers. There`s a few reasons for that in urban combat. The first one is they are using patients as human shields to avoid being shot at by Ukrainian forces. They are almost certainly keeping Ukrainian men, who are infighting at the front from receiving treatment. If they go there, one can imagine what would happen.

And then you bear out this reporting by "The Associated Press", which talks about these mass graves, these slit trenches, where children are just being put into these graves, if they`re able to at all, so many of these bodies are ending up in the basement if this hospital, because the shelling is so bad.

The folks that are able to end up out of Mariupol, we are talking about a few thousand up estimate last days, many of them go to a city called Zaporizhzhia. Zaporizhzhia is on the road to the west and there is a community center there where people can check the names of loved ones too see if they made it out before them. Unfortunately, the Russian military targeted Zaporizhzhia, and specifically the roads in which civilians were leaving from, at least five people were wounded, that we know the numbers will be far higher.

If I take you all the way to the north, north of Kyiv, just as another example, again, this is just one sort of slice of this war. You know this is happening all over the country. But there was a red line in the city of Chernihiv and we heard from the United States embassy in Kyiv that least ten civilians who are waiting in line for bread -- and food is becoming scarce in many parts of the eastern country -- folks were gunned down according to the U.S. embassy by Russian forces. At least 10 people dead in that attack.

It is leading the newscast here, bodies in the streets, excuse, me of at least three, four, five Ukrainian cities. And if we could just bear this out a little bit on this mass graves, because it`s really the sort of last desperate cry of a city that is in hell. It will be years before people find their loved ones in these graves. It is years after these conflicts go on when families return to try to figure out how the loved ones were buried, how they were buried, to try to pull some kind of dignity out of that.

That`s what we are seeing bear out in a country that, Lawrence, is under this bombardment that seems to have no end. There is no increased activity at this hour, along these Black Sea towns. And the concern is that Odessa could be next. That that could be the next city and circled and bombarded, perhaps even from the sea, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: And, Cal, everything that you are seeing in these Russian attacks seems to indicate, the targeting is deliberate, there does not seem to be some kind of accidental phenomenon going on here.

PERRY: It certainly isn`t Mariupol, where you have local officials saying that this theater was directly targeted, that on the roof and on the side of the building, the words kids were written on the theater. As far as local officials were concerned, these sites being directly targeted, that civilians are in. They don`t seem to have any question about it.

The U.S. State Department has maintained its either one of two things -- either indiscriminate shelling or deliver targeting of civilians. If you are in one of the cities it does not matter, and the number of shells falling in the city are such that it`s a constant bombardment. That if you even try to run for safety or get food you could easily be killed above ground.

O`DONNELL: Cal Perry, thank you very much for joining us once again tonight. We always appreciate it. Thank you, Cal.

PERRY: Thanks.

O`DONNELL: And joining us now is Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff of California. He is chair of the House Intelligence Committee.

And, Chairman Schiff, we heard President Biden today say clearly, Vladimir Putin is a war criminal. Does that mean that intelligence indicates that the targeting we are seeing in Ukraine is deliberate and can be proved to be deliberate targeting of civilians, including babies and every other age trip?

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): I think the president`s statement was really from the heart. His sense, which I agree with, that Putin is a war criminal, that he has now the blood of children on his hands.


I think it was more of a human statement than it was a legal statement. But I think it is pretty clear, Lawrence, any way that you slice it, that this bombing is indiscriminate at best, and at worst with targeting civilian structures. And I do think that he has committed war crimes and he will have to be held accountable.

But first of all, we have to do everything we can to help the Ukrainian people. I think this administration is doing a great deal and will be doing more.

O`DONNELL: What was your reaction to being in the room today with President Zelenskyy delivering that historic address?

SCHIFF: Well, it was one of those few times in recent memory where it would be hard to tell Democrats and Republicans. I think we were all very moved but what he had to say, and also by those images of civilians being killed. And to me, among the most staggering was the image of a father holding the hand of his deceased child in the hospital.

Hard to see that it not be moved, not want to do everything to move heaven and earth to bring this war -- Putin`s war of aggression to an end. And so, I think we left with even greater resolve and do what we can to support Ukraine in its time of need, to re-bolster its defenses and also provide even more sanctions on Russia for this heinous act of terror.

O`DONNELL: I want to put up on the screen an outline of what President Biden has announced as being sent to Ukraine now: 9,000 anti-armor systems, including 2,000 javelins, 800 anti aircraft systems, 7,000 small arm machine guns, shotguns, grenade launchers, 20 million rounds and ammunition, 100 switchblade killer drones, other military equipment.

With your knowledge of the utility of these things, what do you see as the most important elements of that package?

SCHIFF: I think the most important elements are the anti aircraft that will help Ukraine shoot down Russian planes, but also keep Russian planes from owning the skies, which would accelerate the Russian land operations. I also think the anti tank weapons, are used by Ukraine in great effect, taking out tanks, taking out other armed vehicles.

And now the provision of drones and reporting about (INAUDIBLE) being utilized, great effect by Ukrainian forces, and the provision now from the United States, only adding to Ukraine`s many capabilities.

O`DONNELL: Chairman Adam Schiff, thank you very much for joining us once again tonight. We really appreciate it.

SCHIFF: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

And coming up, the sanctions against Russia are working, that`s what Vladimir Putin told the Russian people today.

And later, Francis Fukuyama will join us at the end of the Cold War, he won`t the hugely influential essay that became a best selling book "The End of History". He now sees the end of Vladimir Putin. That`s coming up.



O`DONNELL: Not since Donald Trump has we seen a politician in action who projects his own feelings and actions on to his enemies as much as Vladimir Putin did today. In a televised speech to government ministers and of the Russian people, he spoke of the exasperations of the doomed, the exasperations of the doomed, which is what he has no doubt been feeling but he aimed that richly descriptive phrase at the Ukrainian military forces.

He said the war, which he called a special military operation, is going exactly as planned. And that Russian soldiers, quote, are doing all they can to avoid civilian losses in Ukrainian cities. The most vicious lie he told.

He called the countries that are aligned against him, led by the United States, quote, an empire of lies, and he told the grotesque lie that Russia is fighting in its own, quote, self-defense.

And Vladimir Putin admitted the sanctions are working saying, yes, it`s hard for us right now. Russian financial companies, large enterprises, small and medium sized businesses are facing unprecedented pressure. The new realities will require deep structural changes in our economy. And I will not hide it, they will not be easy, they will lead to a temporary increase in inflation, and unemployment.

Vladimir Putin explained what Russia is fighting for with this lie, quote: The struggle we are waging is a struggle for our sovereignty, for the future of our country and our children. We will fight for the right to be and remain Russian. An example for us is the courage and steadfastness of our soldiers and officers, the faithful defenders, for the fatherland.

Joining us now, Angela Stent. She`s a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. She served in the State Department, and her latest book is called "Putin`s World".

Thank you very much for joining us tonight.

What did you take from Vladimir Putin`s speech today?

ANGELA STENT, FOREIGN POLICY EXPERT: Well, it was a very belligerent speech. As you said, he accused the west of everything that Russia is doing. He justified the war, excuse me, the special military operation, by blaming the West for being about to attack Russia.


And what was particularly terrible I thought in this speech was his use of some phrases that come right from Hitler. He talked about national traitors, as the people who oppose the war. And he said that Russia needed to go through a period of self purification. So there are phrases and not that I have never heard him use before.

He obviously feels very cornered. This invasion has not gone the way he thought it would. He is doubling down, however, he is not holding out an olive branch. And he wants to explain to his people that the reason they are feeling economic pain and will continue to feel economic pain is all because of the sanctions.

He did say in the speech that the West would have imposed the sanctions anyways, irrespective of the special military operation.

O`DONNELL: I want to read this passage of what he said. He said: The current situation is of course a test for all of us. I am sure that we will pass it with dignity through hard work, joint work, and mutual support. We will overcome all difficulties, and become even stronger as it has always been in the history of thousand year old Russia.

Doesn`t that history contain an awful lot of failed imperialistic adventurism?

STENT: It certainly does, it`s a history of Russia expanding and contracting over hundreds of years. A failed imperial expansion, but then a successful as the Soviet Union for a period of time, until it collapsed 74 years later.

Putin is very much a history man. He puts himself forward as a man who understands Russian history very well. But, of course, this is not an accurate explanation of what has happened in Russian history.

He sees himself in the mold of the czars, who gathered in the lands after they had lost territory. So, what he wants to do obviously is to take back the territories that Russia lost when the Soviet Union collapse, foremost of them being Ukraine. That`s what he`s trying to do, and he`s having a much harder time doing it that he thought he would.

O`DONNELL: And he told a lot of lies about the way Russia has been treated in the world, specifically -- Russian individuals living outside of Russia. He said in many Western countries, people are subjected to real persecution just because they come from Russia. They refused medical care, expel children from school, deprived their parents of their jobs, ban Russian music, culture, and literature.

Do the Russian people believe that?

STENT: Well, unfortunately, a majority of the Russian people appear to believe what President Putin says, particularly those who only have access to state run media. None of this happens to Russians abroad, I think it is true since the war broke out, you can read about some Russians who have been targeted by people in other countries, sort of blamed for what their country is doing.

But, unfortunately, as I said, the polling shows that a majority of Russian support this war. And they don`t believe, or the special military operation -- they don`t actually believe that it`s a full scale invasion.

You have instances where people in Ukraine will call family members in Russia, and tell them what`s actually happening in Ukraine -- these horrible scenes that you were showing before -- and their relatives just won`t believe them, they`ll say no those are lies. We know that Putin is doing the right thing.

O`DONNELL: How surprised were you that Putin mounted this innovation?

STENT: I think most of us were surprised that he mounted a full scale invasion. I think most people expected it would have been a more limited, quote/unquote, operation to just take all the territory in the Donbas, those two regions of southeastern Ukraine, where the Russians have been fighting since 2014.

Having said that, our intelligence agencies and people of military specialists who looked at what the Russians were doing, as they surrounded Ukraine, they actually believed that there would be a full scale invasion. They didn`t believe there was any other explanation, of this huge amassing of troops with the equipment they had there. Of course, they were right.

Most people just couldn`t believe that a totally unprovoked full scale invasion of a sovereign country would happen in the year 2022 and it has.

O`DONNELL: Angela Stent, thank you very much for sharing your expertise tonight. We really appreciate it.

Thank you.

And coming up, Francis Fukuyama wrote the huge bestseller, "The End of History" at the end of the Cold War. And tonight, he sees the end of Vladimir Putin. Francis Fukuyama will join us next.



O`DONNELL: In 1979 Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan predicted the collapse of the Soviet Union in a "Newsweek" essay that began this way. "The Soviet empire is coming under tremendous strain. It could blow up."

Ten years later, months before the Berlin Wall was taken down by anti Soviet protesters and destroyed, our next guest foresaw the end of the Cold War in what became the most influential essay of the decade, titled "The End of History", which then became a best selling book under the same title.

Writing about the war in Ukraine this week, Francis Fukuyama says Russia is heading for an outright defeat in Ukraine. Putin will not survive the defeat of his army. A Russian defeat will make possible a new birth of freedom and get us out of our funk about the declining state of global democracy. The spirit of 1989 will live on thanks to a bunch of brave Ukrainians.

And joining us now is Francis Fukuyama, political theorist and senior fellow at Stanford University`s Institute for International Studies. He`s the author of "The End of History" and "The Last Man".

Thank you very much for joining us tonight. It really is an honor to have you with us. I`ve been fascinated reading your thoughts on what you are seeing in Ukraine. And it seems you see in this the end of Vladimir Putin.

Please explain that.

FRANCIS FUKUYAMA, SENIOR FELLOW, STANFORD UNIVERSITY`S INSTITUTE FOR INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: Well look, let me just begin by saying we are at a crossroads where you can imagine things going very badly. But I think there`s been a lot of pessimism that things have to go badly. And I think that people have not been focusing on the actual war on the ground.

Of course, it`s horrible seeing these terrible pictures of apartment blocks being bombed and civilians being killed. But if you look at the actual combat it is going much, much better for the Ukrainians than anyone expected at the beginning of the war.

The Russian planning was abominable, the performance was terrible. And Ukrainians are far more motivated.

One interesting observation is the number of Russian armored vehicles that have simply been abandoned intact -- they get stuck in the mud and then the crews leave because they just don`t want to continue fighting.

And so I do think that it`s possible that Ukraine could actually fight the Russians to a draw and even force a withdrawal of their forces because I think they are taking losses at what may well be an unsustainable rate.

O`DONNELL: In his speech today, Vladimir Putin said that what -- I`m going to just quote it exactly. He said the collective west is trying to split our society, speculating on military losses on socio-economic consequences of sanctions to provoke a civil confrontation in Russia. And there is only one goal, the destruction of Russia.

There is an awful lot in there, including his own prediction that they are trying to create civil disturbance and basically revolt in Russia. And then that this war is about the defense of Russia itself, that the destruction of Russia is at stake in this war.

FUKUYAMA: Well, I think Putin has been trying to raise the stakes to justify something that is completely unjustifiable, you know. He was accusing Ukrainians of committing genocide in the Donbas and preparing an invasion of Russia at a time when had 190,000 Russian troops surrounding that country.

And I think that the only way that he can explain the predicament he`s in to the Russian people is by raising the specter that actually somebody`s out to get us Russians. And that`s going to come in the form of some kind of a civil war manipulated from the outside.

You know, it is complete -- I mean, it`s not going to happen. If there is a threat to Putin it is not going to come from a civil war. It is going to come from a general that says, enough is enough. You have humiliated our army and it is time for another leader.

That might happen. But you know, Putin scenario I think is simply designed to create fear on the part of the Russian people and to keep them in line as his position continues to deteriorate.

O`DONNELL: Today, Lester Holt did an interview with President Zelenskyy. He asked him if he understood the concern that President Biden has about the possibility of an escalation tripping into what`s Lester Holt called World War III.

President Zelenskyy says he does completely understand that. But he also says that it`s impossible to predict to these things when you are engaged in war.

What is your sense of how close we are to the trigger of what people would refer to as World War III, which would really be a nuclear exchange between the United States and Russia?

FUKUYAMA: I think that fear is way overblown. You know, nuclear war is such a horrible thing for anybody to contemplate. We know that, the Russians know that. And I think actually Putin is using the fear of that as a way of scaring us from doing a lot of lesser things that we could be doing.


Now that doesn`t mean that there is not a significant risk of escalation just using conventional weapons. And there is a real risk raised by something like a no-fly zone, that you actually have NATO aircraft attacking targets -- Russian targets in Russia that will then demand a Russian response.

And so you could get into a broader NATO-Russia war, you know, if you are not careful in managing that process.

But the nuclear threat, I think, is a bogeyman. Of course, everybody is going to be worried about the possibility that you could eventually get there. But there are so many stopping points before you reach that point that I think, you know, that is not something anyone should be worried about.

O`DONNELL: The Ukrainians reported a very positive meeting today with China`s ambassador to Ukraine who, to my surprise, was in Ukraine today. I would have assumed that ambassadors like that would have left. What might that mean?

FUKUYAMA: Well, that`s really fascinating. You know, at the Olympics, Putin and Xi pledged unlimited partnership with each other. And I think that was at the moment when Putin was telling Xi that there would be this quick operation. In 48 hours they depose Zelenskyy and get Ukraine under their control.

And I think what Xi has woken up to is the fact that he`s chained himself to this mad man who`s become like North Korea, you know, a pariah on the broader world stage.

And if China is perceived as supporting Putin, they could get drawn into all the sanctions. I mean we can`t sanction China the way we can sanction Russia. They just sell us too much stuff, unfortunately.

But you know, they really don`t need any of that. And so I think, you know, it`s a recognition that they placed the bet on the wrong color and now it`s coming up the wrong way and they`ve got to somehow distance themselves and protect their own economic interests.

O`DONNELL: And in your view of the big picture, what would be the dynamics in the event of something that is perceived as Vladimir Putin losing in Ukraine. What would be the domestic dynamics in Russia that could lead to Vladimir Putin losing power?

FUKUYAMA: Well, as I said, really the only real threat to his power could come within the Russian elite, probably from the military. You know, the problem with a strongman like Putin is that if he`s demonstrated not to be strong, that he loses this beautiful, shiny army that he thought he had and is forced to retreat or really make big concessions to the Ukrainians, then a lot of people are going to say, well, what do we need you for if we are simply going to lose under your leadership?

And that might be the moment that, you know, it might be some kind of an action that won`t come through street protests and that sort of thing. I think they`ve got that too much under control. There`s too much nationalistic fervor right now. But there could be something internal.

I would also look beyond Russia. Because a real Russian defeat is going to have big reverberations all over the world. And largely, I think, in a positive sense, because over the past several years you have had the rise of populist leaders like Viktor Orban in Hungary who have been very close to Putin and who have praised him.

And I`ll say we`ve got one in the United States, you know, our former president, that Putin was a genius and to this day can`t think of anything negative to say about him.

And so the political ramifications of the Russian setback, I think, are going to be global. It won`t just be confined to this country Ukraine. I think it will reverberate throughout Europe and then frankly it will reverberate here in the United States.

O`DONNELL: And when do you think those reverberations will be felt? What sense of a timetable do you have?

FUKUYAMA: That is very hard to say. I do think there`s some possibility that, you know, you could have military developments within the coming weeks that could be decisive. But, you know, I would be the first to say that I don`t know that.

I do think that the rate at which both sides are losing men and equipment means that this is a competitive resupply problem. I think the Russians may have many more problems on that respect because the sanctions are then going to really bit.


They`ve created a very large part of the entire army as protecting the whole of the largest, you know, by land area country in the world to this one fighting in Ukraine. And so I do think that the pressure on them is going to be very extreme.

And in the meantime, NATO is pretty united. There is weapons pulling into Ukraine and so if the Ukrainians can hold out for long enough, I think, you know, they have got a decent chance of reversing the Russian gains.

O`DONNELL: Francis Fukuyama, I know this is not something you do every night. TV interviews are not a frequent occurrence for you. But we really greatly appreciate you sharing your thoughts with us tonight. Thank you very much.

FUKUYAMA: Thank you very much for having me.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

And coming up we will get a live report from a Ukrainian reporter who is in Kyiv as the curfew there is approaching its scheduled end.

We`ll be right back.




VITALI KLITSCHKO, MAYOR OF KYIV UKRAINE: UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It doesn`t matter who you are on the Ukrainian soil now with the (INAUDIBLE) -- a little girl, a boy, an adult, man or woman, or an old person, you are a target from Russia, from Russian army.


O`DONNELL: That`s the mayor of Kyiv today. The threat to civilians in Kyiv has been so great that there has been a strict curfew in effect since Tuesday. It is Thursday morning in Kyiv now, and that curfew is still scheduled to be lifted just over about two hours from now.

Joining us now is Andriy Kulykov, a Ukrainian radio reporter who is in Kyiv. Andriy, thank you very much for joining us again tonight. Is the curfew going to be lifted?

ANDRIY KULYKOV, UKRAINIAN RADIO REPORTER: We strongly believe that it is going to be lifted. For the last three or four hours there were no sirens or explosions going on. However, this may be a ruse from the enemy.

Anyway, we behaved ourself during the curfew and now some people are running out of their stores of water, or food or cigarettes for this matter. So we are expecting that it will be lifted. Besides, we have not heard much of the Russian offensive against Kyiv.

Yes there were bombings, and last morning my flat shook from the explosion not far away. For the first time I had not only my windows tremble but also the tableware in my cupboard (INAUDIBLE). And I must admit, this was not a very pleasant morning.

And then all the day there were sirens, and explosions, farther from me than the first one. And then a relative -- I remember the sirens going out at around midnight. And then hush -- everything seems to be quiet.

O`DONNELL: What will you do -- what will you personally do when the curfew is lifted?

KULYKOV: I promised that I will go and look at the square in downtown Kyiv. I was there on the morning of that -- what`s the day now -- it`s Thursday already.

So I was there on the morning of Tuesday, the curfew was going to start, I wanted to check how this will look in three hours from now. It takes me an hour to walk there.

O`DONNELL: And what else will be possible when the curfew is lifted? Will it be possible for people to find food or things that they need? Will there be any stores that are open?

KULYKOV: I have no doubt, because we already had such curfew during the third or fourth day of the open war. And after the curfew was lifted, the people ran to stores and we did food. Of course you have to stand in cues sometimes for two or even more hours. But as far as I know, the supplies are going on, and besides there are some stores and superstores and small (INAUDIBLE).

So about this were not worried. We are worried mostly about the Russian promises to organize humanitarian corridors and then breaking. We are also worried about the fact that every time there seems to be progress in these talks, they are trying to pressure the Ukrainian delegation and (INAUDIBLE) with inflicting more death.

I remember the first time the Ukrainians ran through with Russians and Belarus, and even as the Ukrainian delegation was moving to the base. They started to bombard Kyiv, and some other cities.

But when I say an important city, I really should not say so. Because every city and every village is important. And one of the great things that happens is that the world and we know about big state. But Mariupol or Kharkiv or Kyiv and Odessa for this matter and small village which sometimes are raised to do (INAUDIBLE) remain outside the public.

O`DONNELL: Andriy Kulykov, thank you very much for joining us again tonight and for your brave reporting from Kyiv. We all hope you stay safe.

KULYKOV: I will do my best to do it.


O`DONNELL: Thank you. President Zelenskyy will get tonight`s LAST WORD next.


O`DONNELL: Here is some of Lester Holt`s interview with President Zelenskyy.


LESTER HOLT, TV ANCHOR: If Kyiv falls to the Russians, does the entire country of Ukraine fall to the Russians?


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT: Well our people are unconquerable, and this is what our people have clearly demonstrated. You can conquer the city, you can break the heart but you won`t be able to force anyone to love someone. That is why the heart will always remain with Ukrainians.


O`DONNELL: President Zelenskyy gets tonight`s LAST WORD.

You can see more of Lester Holt`s interview with President Zelenskyy tomorrow on the Today Show.