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

Transcript: The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, 3/18/22

Guests: Timothy Snyder; Irena Matviyishyn


At least 109 Ukrainian children have died in the war in Ukraine and Russian missiles hit the western city of Lviv destroying buildings and an aircraft near the airport. President Biden and China`s Xi Jinping spoke via video call discussing possible warning and sanctions should China send military aid to Russia. A no-fly zone has never been enforced against any major military power in the history of flight -- never. Vladimir Putin is a notoriously bad communicator.


ALI VELSHI, MSNBC HOST: People are also seeing what it means to be of service to refugees. And that`s a lesson we can all take with us going forward. That does it for us tonight. I will see you again tomorrow 8:00 a.m. eastern on my show "Velshi." It`s time now for THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL. Good evening, Lawrence.

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Ali. And thank you for another extraordinary week, which for you will continue into the weekend of your reporting. It really is invaluable.

VELSHI: Thank you, my friend. You have a great show and I`ll see you next week.

O`DONNELL: Thank you. An editorial note at the beginning. We are going to be showing you images during this hour that are images of war. I am not sure that we`re doing this the right way. I am not sure what the right way is. I will try to warn you when I know that those images are coming up that include dead bodies, for example. Sometimes you might just see a hand or a foot.

And these are the realities of war. There are much more gruesome images that we are not showing and we would not show. But where the line is on what we should show and shouldn`t show is something that we`re considering every day, every hour of every day. I will try to give you a warning when I -- as I say, when I know those images are coming so that you can turn away from the screen.

I, myself, don`t actually see the images that are on our screen or see our screen during the broadcast of this show. That it`s not actually something that`s in my field of vision, and so I don`t always know what you are seeing on that screen and what images the control room is choosing to show at any given moment.

But we are covering a war. And this war has turned gruesome. And babies are being killed. And we are trying to make careful decisions about what images we present here, but I just feel like it`s time for a blanket warning about the entire hour od what is coming, and I will try to give individual notes when I know they are coming about these images that will be on the screen tonight.

Today, Russia`s foreign minister, the now sanctioned Sergei Lavrov, praised, praised the war coverage paid for by billionaire Rupert Murdoch on his own and operated Fox propaganda channel. The sanctioned Russian foreign minister said only Fox News is trying to present some alternative points of view.

He means the Putin point of view. He means the baby killers point of view. That is the point of view that the Russian government is now praising Rupert Murdoch`s network for delivering in the United States, which they are then using in Russia to their benefit whenever they can. That is where it has come to at Rupert Murdoch`s propaganda channel.

Today in Lviv in western Ukraine, 109 strollers and car seats were lined up in the town square, 109. That`s the official count of one for every child murdered by the accused war criminal, Vladimir Putin, in his savage war in Ukraine. The war that the Russian government now says is being accurately presented in the United States, only by Rupert Murdoch`s so-called Fox News.

One of the babies represented by one of those strollers lived for just 22 days before being murdered by Vladimir Putin. That baby`s body was brought to the basement of the hospital in Mariupol where the dead bodies are now brought and left. And this is a moment where you might want to turn away from the screen because we have video of the baby covered by a blanket in that basement where the dead bodies are brought. And here is the video of that baby who lived only 22 days.

That baby died the way most people in Ukraine are being killed by Russians in an artillery attack from the ground. A doctor who has been trying and failing to save dying children in Ukraine said. "You can`t take it out of your mind." Vladimir Putin keeps it out of his mind.


Vladimir Putin kills that baby. Vladimir Putin killed that baby in the invasion that Donald Trump said was genius on the first day of the invasion. Donald Trump keeps that baby out of his mind. This is a sociopath`s war with a sociopathic admirer of the sociopath running this war.

Vladimir Putin tried to play the Trump role today in a Trump style rally in Moscow that many Russians were forced to attend. Vladimir Putin didn`t mention the 109 dead children that he killed. And he did not mention the thousands of Russian soldiers, the number of Russian soldiers who have been killed.

Vladimir Putin once again demonstrated what a shockingly inarticulate man he is. He forced as many as 80,000 people to fill a stadium and then like Donald Trump, lied and claimed there were 200,000 people there. But unlike Donald Trump, he was able to fill only five minutes with his lies.

In a new video tonight, Ukrainian President Zelenskyy said this about the Putin propaganda rally. It is being reported that there were around 200,000 people at the rally in Moscow today; 100,000 people on the streets and about 95,000, give or take, at the stadium. The same amount of Russian military is being involved in the invasion of Ukraine. Just imagine that in that stadium in Moscow, there are 14,000 dead bodies and tens of thousands of the wounded, the crippled, those are the Russian losses from this invasion. This is the price from the war. It is just a little bit over three weeks. The war needs to stop. Today, NBC`s Gabe Gutierrez spoke with the mayor of Lviv.


ANDRIY SADOVYI, MAYOR OF LVIV, UKRAINE (through translation): Mariupol bombardments, Kharkiv or Lviv, I feel equally the same pain in my heart. They are destroying basically the body of Ukraine. We of course have good resilience potential to renew our focus. Today is the 23rd day and this is a good evidence of that. Putin will probably have not enough bombs to destroy all the cities all over Ukraine.


O`DONNELL: Rescue efforts continue at that bombed theater in Mariupol that was clearly labeled as a place for kids before it was attacked, deliberately attacked by Russian forces -- 130 people have been rescued, but Ukrainian officials say that 1,300 people are still trapped in that basement.

And I must warn you again that this is a moment where you might want to turn away from your screen because we are going to show video of Ukrainian victims whose bodies are awaiting burials. Some in mass graves, some in individual graves.

I don`t want this kind of image to sneak up on you, as I`ve said, when you`re watching this program and we`ll use them as rarely as possible, but in a war where Putin is claiming, in effect, that there are no victims, some gruesome documenting may be necessary. So, this new video from Mariupol shows bodies lying on the ground. Some marked with makeshift graves. Today, the mayor of Kyiv said this.


VITALI KLITSCHKO, MAYOR OF KYIV: One more. One more fact - it`s a war against civilians. I don`t see military people here. It`s not a military base. It`s just apartments - apartments for civilians. If you look in Mariupol, if you look in Kharkiv, if you look in other cities, Chernihiv, right now, where the civilians will be destroyed. The city will be destroyed. I expect the Russians to do it exactly the same way in Kyiv.


O`DONNELL: And we begin tonight as we do every night with NBC News correspondent Cal Perry in Lviv. Cal, it seems the war is now coming your way.

CAL PERRY, NBC NEWS CORRRESPONDENT: Absolutely. This morning, we had six rockets in total. Cruise missiles fired at somewhere near the airport complex. I say somewhere near because that is how the Ukrainian government is framing it. They do not want to give any more information to the Russians that is necessary. That is the aftermath of that attack. Four of those cruise missiles actually made it to that airport complex within that area. Two were shot out of the air.


Important to mention, of course, because the air defenses in the western part of this country still seem to be functioning, but your point is the correct point. This was supposed to be the fallback city, not just for civilians and refugees, but for diplomatic agencies, for humanitarian groups as well.

And now the Russians are making it clear they will attack targets here in the west. I`m going to filibuster for about 30 seconds to do exactly as you have done, which is to warn our viewers that I`m going to talk about Mariupol in just a second where the fiercest fighting remains because we are of course seeing refugees coming from these places in the eastern part of the country, which we are now able to say is the site of the worst human suffering that we have seen since the beginning of this war.

This scene that is playing out in Mariupol is where civilians have been stuck in basements for three to four days. This news crew that was able to get in there, this is an agency crew, was able to get into these neighborhoods. And as you said, we are seeing evidence that bodies are on the streets, and that those bodies are now impossible to move because the shelling is so intense.

So, what has happened is people have come out of their basements. They are literally finding loved ones in front of their apartment buildings. They are marking those bodies and then they are going back underground. The video of those 109 strollers. I have to say, in sort of looking at that today in downtown Lviv, the thing that struck me was it has to be an undercount. At least 109 kids.

We just know that that number is going to be low when you talk about what`s happening in Mariupol, when we talk about what we know in Kharkiv. The situation there is such that there will be children whom have survived the bombings that their parents did not. We know that`s happening because we are seeing unaccompanied children ending up here in Lviv, ending up trying to make it to the border with Poland.

It is a situation now in these cities where it`s not just the violence that`s killing people. It is the lack of food. It is the lack of water. A bit of good news on that front. In the northern city of Sumy, we actually had today a green corridor that functioned properly, Lawrence.

The United Nation saying they were able to work out a very short window of agreement between Ukrainians and the Russians there on the ground to get out a number of people, but also to get into the center of that city and provide food to up to 35,000 people who are sheltering there and water to up to 50,000 people. That`s the good news.

The bad news is in places like Kyiv, where you`re looking at video now, in places like Mariupol, there has been no relief. We have not seen any Red Cross convoys get in. We`ve not seen Doctors Without Borders get in. In fact, the only Red Cross sort of reference we`ve heard from recently was the deputy to the president yesterday saying that she is working with the Red Cross to do something about these 13,000, maybe 14,000 dead Russian soldiers.

The president tonight, as you said, saying basically what am I supposed to do with these bodies? Not just his way of signaling to the Russians that they`re taking heavy losses, but a way of signaling to both the Ukrainians here and to Russians in Russia, that morale amongst Russian troops, and this is something we`ve been talking about.

Morale amongst Russian troops is inevitably going to be not just low, but we know that these convoys are stalled. We know that they`re having supply chain issues. We know that they are not functioning the way that they should. And as we`ve heard tonight from the United Kingdom`s Ministry of Defense and as we`ve heard from the U.S. State Department, it seems as though the tactic is to take out that military incompetence on these civilian areas, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: And, Cal, just a note. You take as much time as you need every night, please, to deliver us the news that you think we need to know here. There is no limit on your time with us. And I just want to follow up on the point you made about for once, a successful news of a humanitarian traffic zone today, and that`s the kind of thing that should be allowed to happen everywhere. There is no conceivable military objection to that.

PERRY: Absolutely. And this should be something that functions as a break in the fighting. There is a concern here amongst Ukrainian officials that every time they negotiate a cease fire for the Russians, they`re allowing the Russians to regroup, to re-strategize, to try to rally those troops.

And when I say the corridor was functional, I want to stress to our viewers, I`m only declaring it functional because I know civilians were not only able to get out of that city, but they were able to pass through the cities leading to the west safely as well. So in Mariupol two days ago, we were told that there was a successful corridor.

The problem was that civilians made it out of Mariupol. They made it to the city that`s just to the north of that, Zaporizhzhia, and they were fired on. They were fired on as they went through intersection that connects those two cities. So, that`s not a green corridor that`s functioning.

Just because you`ve made it out of the city, it doesn`t do any good if you are then attacked on the road. This is what`s happening to civilians as they leave. They`re making it out of these combat areas, of these conflict areas. They`re ending up on roads like the one you see in front of you outside of Mariupol, and then those roads are being struck by Russian forces.


What that does beyond killing of civilians who are completely innocent, is it erodes any trust that civilians have remaining in these areas that these cease-fires will hold. So, inevitably what happens, and we`re hearing this anecdotally from the ground, people don`t trust that the cease-fire in these cities will hold.

They don`t trust that if they get on the road with their kids that they won`t be attacked because we`re seeing that. We`re seeing journalists die on these roads, trying to cover the civilians who are fleeing. That lack of trust is one thing between negotiating teams. The lack of trust on the ground when it comes to civilians is going to cost lives.

It`s going to cost lives because people are going to make the decision to stay in their homes, to risk the shelling rather than to get on the road. And one final thing, Lawrence, because I think it`s really important. As we enter week four, again, people are starting to die of things other than explosions.

Four million people, just under 4 million people have already left this country. Just under 6 million people are internally displaced. That`s almost a quarter of the population of this country on the move. And so you have a generation that is going to grow up in a foreign country. You have families that will forever remain split.

These mass graves are horrifying not just because of their existence, but because people are going to return to look for family members, and they`re going to have to identify the remains of family members to try to find the people that they left behind or to try to find the father or brother who stayed behind to fight.

So, what we`re seeing now is not just an expansion of the war from the air, but we`re seeing it across Europe. Poland is in a situation now where these cities are starting to fill up. And it is this unimaginable human tragedy that`s playing out on a scale that is impossible to imagine, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Cal Perry, thank you very much once again for your reporting tonight. Always appreciate it. Thank you, Cal.

O`DONNELL: And today, President Biden spoke with Chinese President Xi for nearly two hours by video call. The White House read out of the call says President Biden described the implications and consequences if China provides material support to Russia as it conducts brutal attacks against Ukrainian cities and civilians. China`s readout said the Ukraine crisis is not something we want to see, and conflict and confrontation are not in anyone`s interest.

Joining us now, Rick Stengel who served as Undersecretary of State in the Obama administration. He`s an MSNBC political analyst. Also with us, Lucian Kim, NPR`s former Moscow bureau chief. He`s currently a fellow at the Wilson Center. And Rick, this was the call that a lot is riding on today. The one good sign about it is two hours. These kinds of calls, the longer they go, the more ground is covered.

RICK STENGEL, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, Lawrence. But when they say two hours, you have to cut that time in half because half of it is taken up with translation. It`s sometimes very frustrating doing diplomacy with the Chinese because they`re very, very scripted. There`s that principal and then each person has a translator.

But I -- whenever I was talking with a Chinese principal, I noticed that the translator had the text in his or her hand. So the translator wasn`t actually translating what the Chinese official is saying. The translator have the script right there. It`s very, very scripted.

Xi Jinping doesn`t like to engage. I was in two meetings with Xi Jinping in Beijing when I was in the State Department. And both times he used proverbs over and over. Like today, it was reported he said, you know, he who catches the tiger`s tail has to release it. I remember in a meeting with Secretary Kerry and President Obama, Xi Jinping said over and over, you plant your crops in the spring and you harvest them in the fall.

He doesn`t really like to say anything. The Chinese don`t like to take sides. And what you also had as has been reported, China is suffering its own problems. The Chinese stock market this week had its most volatile week in two decades. It lost a trillion dollars on one day.

Part of it is that people are selling Chinese stocks because China is lumping itself from Russia. Xi Jinping wants to back away from that. He does not want his economy to be affected or to be the recipient of sanctions like Russia.

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what Jen Psaki said about the call today.


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yesterday, Secretary Blinken said the administration was concerned that China is considering answering Russia`s request for more military equipment. After this (inaudible) called, does the White House still have that concern?

JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We have that concern. The president detailed, you know, what the implications and consequences would be if China provides material support to Russia as it conducts brutal attacks against Ukrainian cities and civilians and obviously that is something we will be watching and the world will be watching.

COLLINS: So that that concern hasn`t gone away following the call?

PSAKI: Obviously, actions are a key part of what we`ll be watching.


O`DONNELL: Lucian Kim, what about the relationship between Russia and China at a moment like this?


LUCIAN KIM, NPR FORMER MOSCOW CHIEF: Well, I think you can say that Putin is really staking everything on this relationship with China. It looks like he actually postponed his assault on Ukraine to the time after the Beijing Olympics. It was even possible that he was asked to do so. And what I find interesting is that if it`s true that Russia is now asking China for weapons that could actually be seen as a sign of desperation because in the past, Russia has been a huge arms exporter to China, so the weapons have actually been flowing in the other direction.

O`DONNELL: And what are the calculations China would be making in evaluating next move?

KIM: Well, clearly, China`s interested in maintaining trade relations with the rest of the world. And the more it looks like Putin is turning into an international pariah, obviously, China doesn`t want to be boxed in and doesn`t want to be -- end up being his only friend. So, I think that`s a major part of the calculation for China. They`re actually treading very carefully.

O`DONNELL: Rick Stengel, what do you see as the dynamic between Russia and China at this crucial moment?

STENGEL: Well, as Lucian said, I mean, Xi Jinping is Vladimir Putin`s last friend. He`s hoping that Xi Jinping will bail him out. China, by the way, is the single largest buyer of Russian oil more than any other nation in the world. So that`s not going to -- they`re not going to stop doing that.

So they are in effect financing the war, but there is reputational damage to China, their trade is not with Russia. Their trade is with Europe and the west. You know, Xi Jinping cares more about his economy than he cares about what Putin is doing in Ukraine. The reason he is siding with Putin is that their common interest is undermining American power, undermining the American commitment to democracy and human rights.

He doesn`t want America or anybody else talking about human rights in China. That`s where he and Putin have linked arms, but they will separate if it starts hurting China`s economy.

O`DONNELL: Rick Stengel and Lucian Kim, thank you both for joining our discussion tonight.

And coming up, why a no-fly zone has never been achieved in a war with a major military power. That`s next.



O`DONNELL: As we come to the end of three weeks of the worst war in Europe since World War II, most of the Washington Press Corps seems to have finally emerged from a fixation on a fantasy. The fantasy of a no-fly zone. For two days in a row now at the White House press briefing, the words no- fly zone have not appeared in a single question. Most reporters in the White House and the Congress are generalists.

They are not experts in any particular policy area. And they have to be ready to ask questions at any time about anything from corporate taxation, to health care, to gas prices, to now war with a nuclear superpower.

And so, with many of them covering their first war, it was almost forgivable for the first 24 hours or so when reporters used the phrase no- fly zone without realizing that no-fly zone actually means aerial combat zone in which pilots on both sides are shot down and sent to their deaths.

In other words, trying to impose a no-fly zone in a hot war with a nuclear superpower means war. By now, three weeks in, reporters using the phrase no-fly zone in their questions are unintentionally revealing themselves to be fantasists. A no-fly zone is enforced by shooting down everything that dares to fly into the so-called no-fly zone.

And the aircraft flying into the so-called no-fly zone will be trying to shoot down whatever and whoever is shooting at them. A no-fly zone has never been enforced against any major military power in the history of flight. Never. I made that point repeatedly on this program in the first days of the war.

And as reality about so-called no-fly zones began to spread, people who supported the idea in the first week of the war stopped short of supporting it in the second week of the war and more stopped supporting it in the third week of the war because they could see that it simply meant an increase in aerial combat, which would be regarded by Vladimir Putin as an American escalation of the war in Ukraine.

And as we head into another weekend with the Sunday shows being dominated by Ukraine, there might still be a question or two about a no-fly zone. Do you support a no-fly zone is the wrong question. It wreaks of a childish misunderstanding of war and aerial combat. What the questioners should ask is, do you support sending American pilots into aerial combat with Russian pilots over Ukraine.

The right follow-up question to anyone saying that they do support that is, do you support American pilots attacking Russian ground support systems for Russian aircraft even though those ground support systems are in Russia?


And for anyone who advocates any of this, a question that must be asked and has completely been ignored is, what is the legal basis for American pilots shooting down Russian pilots? Because currently, there is no legal basis for anyone in the American military to shoot anything at Russians anywhere.

And so, that leads to this question. Do you support a congressional declaration of war against Russia as a legal basis for American pilots to shoot down Russian pilots? And to any member of Congress, the follow-up should be, when are you going to introduce a congressional declaration of war against Russia in the House or the Senate?

Now, these are all reality-based questions about the fantasy of a no-fly zone. To ask about a no-fly zone, as if it is something that is possible to achieve, in the middle of a hot war, with a nuclear superpower, is the same as asking about achieving a no snow zone in Alaska.

Of course, there is also the mandatory, hypothetical question about escalation. If the American military starts killing the Russian military in the sky or on the ground, do you think that Vladimir Putin will go nuclear with other short-range tactical weapons in Ukraine or long range nuclear weapons targeting New York City and Washington D.C.?

And it is also worth asking that member of congress, if he or she represents a place, that is high on Vladimir Putin`s nuclear target list in the United States.

The last time that Europe was at war in World War II when Russia was on our side, President Franklin Roosevelt did not have to wrestle with fantasy questions from the press corps and we were not able to achieve a no-fly zone over our European allies in World War II until Hitler killed himself and Germany surrendered.


LLOYD AUSTIN, U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY: From a U.S. perspective, our president, President Biden has been clear that we would not have U.S. forces fighting in Ukraine. Having said that we`ll do everything within our power to support Ukraine in their efforts to defend their territory.

We`ve also stated that enforcing a no-fly zone actually means that you are in combat, you are in a fight with Russia. And that`s one of the things that we have said, that our president has said that we weren`t going to do, get in a fight with Russia.

So what this really means is that in order to control the skies, you have to shut down the air defenses. They`re on the ground, and some of those air defense systems are in Russia. And so again, there is no easy, or simple way to do this. There`s no such thing as a no-fly zone light.

A no-fly zone means that you`re in a conflict with Russia. So from a U.S. perspective, again our position remains that we`re not going to do that.


O`DONNELL: Coming up Yale professor Tim Snyder will join us to consider what Vladimir Putin was trying to accomplish in his rally today. Professor Snyder has been studying Russia and Vladimir Putin for years and will give us his analysis of Putin`s objectives, as we enter the fourth week of Putin`s war.



O`DONNELL: Vladimir Putin is a notoriously bad communicator. When he was proposing to his wife, she thought he was breaking up with her. Today, Putin forced about 80,000 people to fill up a stadium, and then in true Trump style, lied that 200,000 people showed up. But he was unable to imitate Donald Trump`s endless incoherent rambling at Trump rallies and managed only five minutes of incoherence in which he pretended to be religious and did not give the Russian people a report on how the war that they are not allowed to call a war is going in Ukraine.


VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT: At this point, I recall the words from the Holy Scripture. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. And we are seeing how heroically our military are fighting during this operation.


Joining us now, Timothy Snyder, professor of history at Yale University. He is the author of "The Road to Unfreedom: Russia, Europe, America". and he had just finished recording a new audio book about Ukraine.

Professor Snyder, thank you very much for joining us tonight. What was going through your mind, as you look at this five-minute Vladimir Putin rally appearance today?


TIMOTHY SNYDER, PROFESSOR OF HISTORY, YALE UNIVERSITY: Well, I was struck by the dreamy quality of it. Mr. Putin has this idea that God has something to do with his desire to bring Ukraine and Russia together by force.

Over and over he asserts that there is some kind of divine or mystical unity between these two countries. And if other people don`t see this, if Ukrainians just want to live normal lives, if they think that they are Ukrainians and belong to a different country so much the worse for them. There has to be a cleansing act of violence which will restore the world to the way it ought to be.

So I was most struck by that, by this notion that there is a fragmented world, and it`s his job as leader of Russia to restore the world the way it ought to be. It is a vision which is quite disconnected, of course, from the reality of the way that Ukrainians are suffering for no reason. And also quite disconnected from the way that Russian soldiers are behaving in Ukraine.

O`DONNELL: So the country in this presidential rally report today got certainly no body count whatsoever. No progress report. Nothing about this is what we achieved, this is what we`ve taken, this is what we control. This is how many Nazis we have driven out. Just no assessment of the war, whatsoever.

SNYDER: What they got was a kind of picture, about how things are supposed to work in Vladimir Putin`s mind. He gave them this sense, this very idealized sense of Russian soldiers, fighting together as brothers, and being willing to lay down their lives, one for the other. That is what I meant by this dreamy quality.

As you say, there`s nothing about how Russia is senselessly destroying a neighboring country. Nothing about how it is bombing to smithereens cities which were a source of pride. Not just for Ukrainians, but for people, aside from -- all throughout the former Soviet Union. Nothing about how Russian soldiers, who were sent there supposedly to protect Russian culture are killing Russian-speaking civilians every day.

Nothing about the destruction of schools and hospitals that may mean the death of children. Nothing about what a war actually is.

Only this kind of mystical vision that by violence he is somehow bringing these countries together. So as you say, it is very striking. And of course, the fact that Russian soldiers are dying in such numbers and the fact that this war is clearly not going the way that it was supposed to go. He doesn`t even seem to have a story about that.

O`DONNELL: No. And no story about timetable. Nothing about our soldiers will be back, you know, by a certain time or that we will be welcoming them back together here in the summer, or something.

I want to go to what the foreign minister said today, Sergei Lavrov. Let`s listen to this.


SERGEI LAVROV, RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: We know the menace and the tricks which are being used by the western countries to manipulate media. We understood long ago that there is no such thing as an independent western media.

I think in the United States only Fox News is trying to present some alternative point of view.


O`DONNELL: Professor, they apparently have a favorite American TV channel.

SNYDER: Well, I can`t help but observing, first of all, that Mr. Lavrov is speaking to RT, which is a state-owned, self-recognized, Russian propaganda center, which doesn`t even pretend to be an objective source of news. And of course, they do have their preferences. Tucker Carlson has gotten an awful lot of favorable attention from the Russian media lately including official guides to the Russian press, asking them to cover and repeat certain lines that Tucker Carlson originally got from their propaganda in the first place.

But if there is something to emphasize in all of this, it would be the work of the few remaining, courageous, independent Russian reporters and the more numerous and also very courageous Ukrainian war reporters, who are getting us the facts about what a war actually is.

One thing that`s striking about this war is that we can see it and we can understand it and we can see -- we can see that a war from the very beginning is a kind of crime. We can understand this not in terms of the area concepts that a president gives at a rally, but in terms of the pictures that we are seeing now.

A war means the senseless destruction of people`s lives and the fact that we can see this, the fact that it`s being reported by honest reporters, makes it easier for us to see through that kind of rhetoric.


O`DONNELL: Professor, before you go, we are all sitting here unable to predict what happens next because it is all up to this one person who`s very difficult read at this distance.

You have studied him over years though. And so, what I`m wondering about is Vladimir Putin wondering, how long will this go on? Is Vladimir Putin sitting there thinking, how much of this can I do?

Can I do three more months? Three more years? What would he be thinking about this?

SNYDER: I believe that things have played out this way. He did think that this really was a special military operation. He really did think that the Ukrainian people would be happy to have their own government overthrown.

I think he`s been surprised to see that there`s been so much resistance. I think he`s having difficulty processing it because he really does believe in his own story about how Ukrainians and Russians are actually one people.

And now that he`s been proven wrong he is in the classic position of a tyrant. He can never admit that he`s made a mistake. He has no choice but to double down.

But as he doubles down and doubles down again, the only operational choice he has is to kill more civilians, which puts him in an even worse moral and economic box as time goes by.

So I think the only thing that he is wondering is not how this ends. I think all he`s wondering about is will this ever reach a point where I feel that my own power might be threatened. And I think it`s at that point and only at that point where this war might come to an end.

O`DONNELL: Professor Timothy Snyder, thank you very much for joining us again tonight.

Thank you.

And coming up, we will get a live report from a Ukrainian war correspondent in Lviv. That`s next.



O`DONNELL: As Cal Perry told us at the beginning of this hour, in Mariupol, their dead are buried in mass graves near their destroyed homes.


ALEXANDER, MARIUPOL RESIDENT: My mother-in-law was born in 1936. She survived through the blockade of Leningrad. She had a Russian passport, Russian citizenship. She is there. She was an honored worker of the fish farming in the Russian Federation. She had a lot of medals. So that is where she is.


O`DONNELL: Joining us now from Lviv, Ukraine is journalist Irena Matviyishyn. Thank you very much for joining us tonight.

I`m wondering what information is like in Ukraine of, for example, do people in Lviv have a clear picture of what is happening in Mariupol and other places? And do they have any information about what is happening in Russia like Vladimir Putin`s rally today?

IRENA MATVIYISHYN , UKRAINIAN JOURNALIST: Thank you, Lawrence, for having me. Of course, people follow everything online so wherever we are in Ukraine or even those Ukrainians who went abroad we are closely watching the situation.

And the scene is horrible pictures from Mariupol and from other cities under Russian blockade was horror. And we are following all these events and hoping that these cities will be liberated soon.

O`DONNELL: And what about Russia? Are you getting news from Russia, including say, the Putin rally today?

MATVIYISHYN: Of course we`ve seen these footages from Russia. I would not say that Ukrainians are very interested in watching what is going on in Russia because we have lost hope, sort of.

A lot of Ukrainians have contacts in Russia and when this invasion started, they contacted their relatives and their loved ones in Russia. They did not encounter any compassion or any empathy. A lot of people just stopped talking to their contacts in Russia.

So this rally is another proof that a lot of Russian people are brainwashed right now, or they are under total control of the state. So we can`t really say that this rally was real. That people went there willingly.

But for sure, Putin`s invasion would not be possible without public support and this rally is another example that it`s not only Putin`s war, but it`s a war of his people as well.

O`DONNELL: Well you -- Lviv, have so far been one of the safest places in Ukraine, but the attacks are getting closer to Lviv at this point. Are people in Lviv making plans to possibly leave?

MATVIYISHYN: Well, it depends. But of course those people who were born here or had a home here, they don`t want to leave because it`s still relatively safe. We feel like it`s our land, it`s our country. We don`t want to be refugees.

And many people who came here from other parts of Ukraine, they are trying to settle here and they`re trying to find accommodation even though it`s very hard because the city and other cities in western Ukraine are overwhelmed already.

But they don`t want to leave the borders. And for many Ukrainians that`s a matter of principle. Before this invasion, a lot of people would love to travel to other European countries or maybe to move somewhere, but now as the invasion happened, I heard from many Ukrainians that they don`t want to leave the country, even though the situation is very dire.

O`DONNELL: Irena Matviyishyn, thank you very much for joining us. And we all hope that you stay safe. Thank you.


O`DONNELL: Tonight`s LAST WORD is next.



O`DONNELL: Tonight, a new Russian crew arrived at the International Space Station. Here`s a photo of them at a welcoming ceremony. The AP photo caption reads, "Russian cosmonauts are seen during a welcome ceremony after arriving at the International Space Station Friday March 18th, 2022. The first new faces in space since the start of Russia`s war in Ukraine, the crew emerged from the Soyuz capsule wearing yellow flight suits with blue stripes, the colors of the Ukrainian flag.


O`DONNELL: That is tonight`s LAST WORD.