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Transcript: The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, 3/4/22

Guests: Eric Schmitt, John Spencer, Tom Nichols, Andriy Kulykov

Summary

United States condemns Russian escalation in Ukraine. Massive crowds turn out in Europe for President Zelenskyy speech. Russian forces seize Europe`s largest nuclear power plant. The only way Putin can save himself from his own fiasco is to bait the west into an attack. Nothing would help him more at home or abroad than if the United States or any other NATO country would enter direct hostilities with Russian forces.

Transcript

AYMAN MOHYELDIN, MSNBC HOST (on camera): The mechanic felt -- left custody for Ukraine, left Spain, got there, so he can help defend his country. That`s him in this photo alongside his compatriots.

An act of heroic sabotage. That does it for us tonight I will see you again tomorrow night at 8:00 Eastern on my show, "AYMAN." Now it`s time for THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL. Good evening, Lawrence.

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST (on camera): Good evening, Ayman and in just a few minutes you delivered the single best episode of below deck ever. And you know, I read that story a few days ago when he was first arrested and you know, it`s my favorite of the yacht stories. We`re going to do a bunch of yacht stories at the end of the hour with a maritime law expert telling us what happens next with these yachts.

But one of the peculiar things about this particular yacht is it`s one of only -- the only maybe Russian billionaire yachts that has a Russian word, at least a Russian word in the name of the boat, "Lady Anastasia." And all of the rest of them, you know, have these very Angela sized there, you`ve seen them in any American marina. The names of these boats. Because it seems there is nothing they are more ashamed of then the Russian-hood of these yachts.

MOHYELDIN: Yeah, it was a fascinating story and the producers on the show will tell you I`ve been trying to get it all week because I`ve just been so incredibly moved by this act. Not only does he sabotage the yacht of his boss, he then bails, leave Spain, goes back to Ukraine and picks up a weapon to join the fight. As I`ve been saying, completely inspiring.

O`DONNELL: Well, I did not know that ending. I didn`t know that the court case was over. And that he was back in Ukraine, so that was news to me tonight. That was great, that was news. Thank you, Ayman.

MOHYELDIN: Thank you, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

An act of nuclear terrorism. That is what Ukraine`s ambassador to the United Nations said today when describing Russia`s attack on the largest nuclear power plant in Europe last night. The U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield said this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LINDA THOMAS GREENFIELD, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: By the grace of God, the world narrowly averted a nuclear catastrophe last night. We all waited to exhale as we watched the horrific situation unfold in real-time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: And the Russian ambassador to the United Nations said that Russia did not attack the nuclear power plant. The Russian ambassador actually said that Russian forces were trying to defend the nuclear power plant.

Ukraine`s President Zelenskyy delivered a video message that was delivered to public screens throughout Europe and watched by massive crowds like this one in Prague. Here is some of what those crowds heard.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VOLODYMYR ZELENSKY, UKRANIAN PRESIDENT: I would like to call upon you not to be silent. I would like you to come out on the streets and support Ukraine. Support our efforts and support our fight. Because if Ukraine will not stand, Europe will not stand. Do not turn a blind eye on this. Come out and support Ukraine as much as you can.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Tomorrow, Presidents Zelenskyy will have a chance to speak directly to members of the United States senate. "NBC News" reports that every member of the Senate is invited to join a video conference with President Zelenskyy tomorrow.

For the latest on the ground in Ukraine, we go now to NBC News foreign correspondent, Molly Hunter in Lviv. Molly, at this hour last night we were following the developments of the nuclear power plant and the fire there after the Russian attack. What is the situation tonight?

MOLLY HUNTER, NBC NEWS FOREIGN COORESPONDENT (on camera): Lawrence, the good news of course in the last 24 hours and really the biggest development is that fire, of course, was put out in the early hours of this morning. The IAEA has confirmed multiple times during the day that no essential equipment was damage. We do know unit one was slightly damaged but really apparently nothing that overall affects the safety of that nuclear power plant. So that is the good news.

I can run you through a little bit of the developments of the last 12 hours to bring you up to speed. We`re really still looking at the north in Kyiv of course still surrounded. And we have been watching and talking about that convoy 40 miles long. Lawrence, of course, still 15 miles outside of Kyiv, hasn`t really made that much progress towards the capital city.

Now, in the south, a lot more Russian progress. We`re seeing the Russian forces there not seem to be dogged by the same kind of logistical and supply chain -- supply issues that they are seeing in the north. And now trying to really consolidate those last few cities. We are seeing Mariupol and Odessa completely surrounded. Getting pounded by heavy air power tonight.

And Lawrence, they are cutting off power, water, heat, for the civilian population. Now we are in Lviv, in the west of the country, we are at the central train station earlier today. Tens of thousands of people trying to get out of the country. And a lot of it, of course, mothers and their children. The U.N. says more than a million people have fled the country, 500,000 of those are children.

[22:05:09]

And that of course doesn`t even include all of the IDP`s, the Internally Displaced People, many of the people we spoke with today hoping actually to stay in the country, in the relative safety of the west so that they can hopefully return home to the east.

Now, just for a little bit of context, we drove into Lviv, into the city from the Hungarian border just 48 hours ago, up the west of the country. And we are seeing the -city kind of more and more heavily fortified by the hour. So when we drove in, there was essentially a ring of steel that they are creating around this city, huge checkpoints right now that can easily become full blockades.

Talking to our colleagues here, they are noticing a huge difference every day just really stepping up defenses. Lawrence, now government buildings at police headquarters, we are seeing a bigger barricades. Hotels, thankfully gratefully still open. Are also taking security much more seriously, starting to put blockades and really starting to think about makeshift bomb shelters. Lawrence, the hotel were staying in has just informed us that the basement gym is now a bomb shelter. Lawrence?

O`DONNELL: NBC`s Molly Hunter in Lviv, thank you very much for that report, we really appreciate it. Stay safe Molly. Thank you.

How can the United States deliver weapons to Ukraine now that Ukraine has become a war zone? Are next guest, "New York Times" reporter, Eric Schmidt has the answer. Massive C-17 military transport planes are landing on the safe side of the Ukraine border at an undisclosed location. Probably in Poland.

And Eric Schmidt reported what they delivered today. Some 14 wide bodied aircraft transported a bristling array of javelin anti-tank missiles, rocket launchers, guns and ammunition to an airfield near Ukraine`s border on Friday.

The top U.S. Military adviser to President Biden, General Mark Milley, inspected the weapons transfer operation in an unannounced trip, meeting with troops, and personnel from 22 countries who were working around the clock to unload the armaments for transport by land to the Ukrainian forces.

A senior Pentagon officials told the "Times," quote, "All of us have been tremendously impressed by how effectively the Ukrainian Armed Forces have been using the equipment that we`ve provided them. Kremlin watchers have also been surprised by this, and how they have slowed the Russian advance and performed extremely well on the battlefield."

The U.S. military is also helping to manage the delivery of weapons from other countries. "The Times" reports, the weapons also include rocket launchers from the Dutch. Javelins from the Estonian`s. Stinger surface to air missiles from the Germans, polls, and (inaudible), and machine guns and sniper rifles from the Czechs.

Joining us now is Eric Schmitt, senior writer covering terrorism and national security issues at "The New York Times." And retired Army Major, John Spencer, an urban warfare expert and chair of the Urban Warfare Studies with the Madison Policy Forum.

Eric Schmidt, let`s begin with this delivery of weapons coming in on the safe side of the border. And then being transported overland into the battle centers of Ukraine. What more can you tell us about what is being supplied and how that supply chain works all the way to the front?

ERIC SCHMITT, SENIOR WRITER, THE NEW YORK TIMES (on camera): So, Lawrence, these shipments are basically the initial shipments coming from $350 million worth of security systems that the Biden administration approved last weekend. And within 48 hours, the first planeloads were arriving in places like you described. Airfields in Poland, in Romanian, and other countries neighboring Ukraine.

These are all weaponry that you`ve listed, they`re coming out of existing military stalks. Probably out of Germany. They were flown to these air bases near the Ukraine border and they`re put on trucks, shipped in to western Ukraine where the Ukrainian commanders can pick them up and distribute them within the country.

This flow started with a couple of aircraft a day, earlier in the week, and as you reported there now up to as I believe as many as 17 aircrafts where they can handle these 17 aircrafts in some of these air fields. So basically, one roughly every other hour that are coming in now.

So it`s a pretty remarkable piece of quick turnaround and getting this assistance out. Pentagon officials told us today they expect the full 350 million worth of aid to be finished and shipped into Ukraine within about a week or so.

O`DONNELL: On the ground transport of these weapons and these massive pieces of machinery, have they`ve been running into the kinds of troubles that the Russian convoy has been run into, basically stuck in the mud with flat tires, tires that have been adequately maintained, that`s sort of thing that`s being reported on that stuck convoy. What about these shipments that of American weapons and other weapons into Ukraine, any problems with those?

[22:10:12]

SCHMITT: Yeah, American officials are load to describe how they`re getting this in -- too greater detail in order not to tip the Russians. But from what our sources tell us, they are not experiencing the same kind of logistical problems that the Russians are. That these weapons are getting in effectively and into the hands of Ukrainian fighters.

And for Russians, at least so far, are so busy dealing with their own problems in the other parts of the country that they haven`t yet started attacking some of these shipments coming in. But that`s what analyst fear that they might -- that might happen soon.

So this really a race against time to try to get as many weapons in, not only American weapons, but from as you said, some as many as a dozen or so other Western and NATO countries as quickly as possible.

O`DONNELL: John Spencer, the battle -- we have expected the battle to come to the city, to being street to street and in some cases door-to-door, at some point in Kyiv and other cities. We haven`t seen that yet because of this, among other things, delay, broken down Russian convoy what do you anticipating in terms of this moving to a stage of urban warfare?

JOHN SPENCER, CHAIR, URBAN WARFARE STUDIES, MADISON POLICY FORUM (on camera): Yeah, so they got us -- and they are like a miracle, surrounding, isolating and cutting off those the ability to resupply and reinforce any of the urban areas. And there is only one urban area that matters, that`s Kyiv. All the other ones need to be secured for to do the overall mission, but they have to take Kyiv, so the Kyiv has to hold.

Every day, it holds, Ukraine is winning. But it`s good for the Russians too. Again, they have -- like Eric said, they have multiple problems. And anything they clear supposedly hold, which is really hard to say in urban terrain, they didn`t have to hold it, because they have to leave forces there, which is great. Because I don`t think even if that convoy, and all of its inept in this, finally gets up and running it`s going to struggle to deal with Kyiv.

O`DONNELL: And to talk about the struggles that are unique to urban warfare that you would expect to see if the battle does make it into Kyiv.

SPENCER: Yeah, so the first struggle is that the Ukrainians have to survive the onslaught that we know will happen. This Russian doctrine, we`re already seeing the tip of it. They`re going to bombard indiscriminately. And hopefully they get investigated for war crimes. Indiscriminately the urban-eers, before they put soldiers on the peripheries and actually penetrate into the urban terrain.

Once they get in there, hopefully they face a wall of concrete and basically every street being enemy zones, snipers and windows, ambushes. The urban terrain is called the great equalizer for a reason. It doesn`t matter if you`re the best military, and Russia is far from the best. Urban terrain breaks up military formations, it doesn`t allow them to use all of their capabilities, like firepower, ISR. They need those tanks, and this is great that those javelins are the best tanks (inaudible).

Hopefully, and what I predict, if the Ukrainians ensure they survived the bombardment, and I mean, World War II level bombardment that they`re going to do to Kyiv before they enter. If they survive, they can bring hell on earth down to Russians. And I think they will.

O`DONNELL: And what did you hear in the weapons supplies that Eric Schmitt was describing that we will see in the urban warfare? One of the things that I noted was this supply of machine guns from Czechoslovakia, those sound like the kinds of things that will be distributed to people to use in that urban setting.

SPENCER: Yeah, absolutely. So the urban terrain, or urban combat takes four times the ammo that any other combat does in other environments. I mean, the course that Ukrainians are doing the right thing, they want to engage the Russians long before they get to the urban areas, right?

I saw those, and I`m like, that`s what we need, I had my own wish list if I was defending urban terrain, sniper rifles, machine guns, the rocket launchers which are more close range things. Those are all the right things that they need. And it needs to keep flowing. If you remember, Stalingrad didn`t end by somebody beating somebody by fighting. The Soviets cut the German supplies off and the Germans basically starved and gave up.

O`DONNELL: Eric Schmidt, are the weapons going to keep flowing?

SCHMITT: Well, that`s the goal here. And of course we`ll see. The United States and its allies have committed now and it`s always tough when you`re first starting a logistical flow like this, but American officials are confident now that it`s been up and running for about a week or so, the flow will continue.

It will get harder though as the Russians start turning their focus toward these supplies coming in. And of course, as John has just pointed out is, if the Russians are successful in cutting off some of these cities, of course, just getting those arms distributed to the fighters will become more difficult as the Russians take more territory.

[22:15:08]

O`DONNELL: Eric Schmitt, and John Spencer, thank you both very much for joining us tonight. Thank you.

And once again today the United States and NATO officials refused to consider sending combat planes into the air over Ukraine to shoot down Russian planes. The secretary general of NATO said this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JENS STOLTENBERG, SECRETARY GENERAL OF NATO: We are not part of this conflict. And we have a responsibility to ensure it does not escalate and spread beyond Ukraine. Because that would be even more devastating and more dangerous. With even more human suffering. NATO is not seeking a war with Russia. Let`s agree that we should not have NATO planes operating over Ukrainian airspace or NATO troops on Ukrainian territory.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Today, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANTONY BLINKEN, UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF STATE: The only way to actually implement something like a no-fly zone is to send NATO planes into Ukrainian airspace and to shoot down Russian planes, and that could lead to a full-fledged war in Europe. President Biden has been clear that we are not going to get into a war with Russia.

But, we are going to tremendous lengths with allies and partners to provide Ukrainians with the means to effectively defend themselves and of course we`re seeing every single day there are extraordinary heroism, as well as very real results in what they`re doing to achieve that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: And then President Zelenskyy said this. NATO --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VOLODYMYR ZELENSKY, UKRANIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): We believe that NATO countries have created a narrative that closing the skies over Ukraine would provoke Russia`s direct aggression against NATO. This is the self-hypnosis of those who are weak, insecure inside, despite the fact that they possess weapons many times stronger than we have.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Presidents Zelenskyy is the bravest president that we have ever seen on television in the middle of a war. But he also has far less experience in measuring NATO`s response to Russian aggression to avoid nuclear war with Russia. Something NATO has been doing for decades.

The only way to enforce a so-called no-fly zone is to make it a war zone. The phrase no-fly zone has as it`s being used this week is a euphemism for shooting down Russian planes. If the United States shoots down Russian planes, and Russia shoots down American planes, no one knows how to prevent that from turning into an all-out war between not just Russia and the United States, but Russia and every member country of NATO.

Because every member country of NATO would be obligated to come to the defense of the United States when our planes are shot down. And so, Vladimir Putin could be immediately firing missiles all over Europe as well us at the United States.

And if Vladimir Putin decides to go nuclear in his response, because he`s decided he has nothing to lose, you won`t recognize London, or Paris, or Rome after that. You won`t recognize New York, or Washington D.C. Of course, Moscow and Vladimir Putin would not exist after a nuclear exchange. But no one would feel like they won. The people left alive would experience nothing but loss, the greatest loss in human history.

Every president of the United States during the cold war has stared into that abyss. Every time a Russian dictator rolled tanks into another country. And every cold war president, including General Dwight Eisenhower, who won World War II in Europe as the commanding general of allied forces, decided that as painful as it was to watch Russian aggression and cruelty and in many cases mass murder, as Russia is doing now in Ukraine.

The only thing that could make it all much, much worse would be for the United States to get in a shooting war with Russia that could lead to mutually assured destruction in an exchange of nuclear weapons.

[22:20:01]

If the United States tripped into nuclear war with Russia, the Russian nuclear weapons would hit Ukraine and wipe out everyone in that country. Before the Russian nuclear weapons reach the United States. It would happen so fast in Ukraine that Ukrainians wouldn`t even know that the nuclear strike was coming.

We would know. We would have maybe a 15 minute warning. Or, as in the brilliant movie fail-safe, which everyone should watch again now, the president might not warn us that the missiles are coming in order to spare us the most intense panic of our lives in our final minutes. No president of the United States has ever had a menu of good choices in dealing with Russian aggression and war making.

And no president has ever made the choice to send pilots into air combat against Russian pilots in the middle of a hot war. And so, so far, no one who is urging President Biden to do that has explained how we can be certain that the most unpredictable Russian leader of the nuclear age would not go nuclear.

Tom Nichols will join us next, his latest piece from "The Atlantic" is about the risk of trying to impose a no-fly zone in Ukraine. And the agonies we will all witness without a no-fly zone in Ukraine.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[22:25:00]

O`DONNELL: And this new piece in "The Atlantic," Tom Nichols writes the only way Putin can save himself from his own fiasco is to bait the West into attack. Nothing would help him more, at home or abroad, than if he the United States or any other NATO country were to enter direct hostilities with Russian forces. Putin would then use the conflict to rally his people and threatened conventional and nuclear attacks against NATO. He would become a hero at home and Ukraine would be forgotten.

Joining us now is Tom Nichols, professor at the U.S. Naval War College and a contributing writer at "The Atlantic." Tom, your piece is an emotional piece. Which I think grasp the emotions we`re all feeling, the frustration. The agony of watching what`s happening in Ukraine knowing that we have the kind of military might that Ukraine needs.

But knowing that we cannot engage using our military might directly with Russia because of the nuclear threat. This is something that we`ve lived through in the cold war repeatedly. But it is now feeling new to a new generation who have never lived through it before.

TOM NICHOLS, PROFESSOR, NAVAL WAR COLLEGE AND HARVARD EXTENSION (on camera): Yeah, I think for a long time, Lawrence, we`ve assumed that the United States has almost unlimited power and that when terrible things happen and we don`t act is because we haven`t acted by choice. That we`ve chosen some conflicts to get into, we`ve chosen other conflicts to stay out of.

The problem here is that it`s a natural emotion, and I feel it. I have walked the streets of Kyiv, I have even been to (Inaudible). I`ve been to Ukraine and I mean, I feel that sense of rage and helplessness. But I think people are not really thinking through what`s involved with euphemisms like a no-fly zone.

And I want to add one thing, a lot of the damage that`s happening on the ground is happening because of Russian ground forces and of attacks they`re launching from the ground. At some point, even if NATO were to agree to do this, we would be involved in warfare of that would go from the sky to the ground in the skies.

This would be all out war in Europe. And I think there are a lot of people who have either never had to live with that fear or are just not thinking through the consequences of what they`re saying in the heat of the moment.

O`DONNELL: General Barry McCaffrey has thought through the consequences, he`s completely opposed to this. Let`s listen to some of what he told Ari Melber earlier this evening.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARRY MCCAFFREY, NBC MILITARY ANALYST, RETIRED FOUR-STAR ARMY GENERAL: Militarily we could do it. The U.S. Air force cannot be competed with running an air cap over Ukraine, particularly if is joined by NATO air forces, the Brits and the France in particularly. If we did that, we would not just shoot down Russian planes, we have to attack the S400 anti- aircraft missiles, just across inside Russia. We`d have to engage Russian ground units who then fired on our aircraft. It would clearly lead to direct war with Russia.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: And Tom, that`s the part that no one who`s advocating the so- called no-fly zone ever addresses.

NICHOLS: Yeah, there is more to a no-fly zone and simply shooting down bad guys who might be bothering good guys. You don`t put your pilots in the air and just loiter around and hope for the best. You`re going to have to suppress enemy air defenses, you`re going to have to establish entire areas over the skies of Ukraine where if it flies it dies.

And I think people have gotten into their heads that a no-fly zone is magic in some way. That if we simply declare it, it will happen. And I think again, this is because over 30 years most of the countries that we`ve been up against, places like Iraq, where they`ve been so overmatched by American power, and this is not a potential conflict between two major powers in a world war.

You know, I think we`ve gotten used to the idea that we can be discretionary about this. The Russians are not going to simply get out of the way. And the Russians aren`t ten feet tall but I`m really glad that General McCaffrey said what he did. This isn`t because we would somehow lose this conflict in some conventional sense. We wouldn`t. I mean the Russians are overmatched against us on even their best day.

The question is what are the consequences that would come from that? And I wish people would be a little more confident about the long run here, which is that the Russians -- even though they`re already committing atrocities, they are going to win this in the short term by using the Russian playbook of sheer overwhelming force, as your other guests were just discussing earlier.

But in the long run, this is a disaster for Putin. And the only thing that can save him from this is if we decided to wade and make it about us and turn it into a major European war.

O`DONNELL: And in the past, certainly during the Cold War, this dynamic, this prohibitive dynamic was always understood, including by everyone in the news media, and we didn`t have these questions back then about why aren`t you attacking Russian forces directly in the various aggressions that the Soviet Union carried out during that time.

It was understood that the horror of the situation was no matter how powerful we might be in a kind of localized version of an intervention like that. Because the Soviet Union had nuclear weapons, we could not run the risk.

And so everyone then faced the menu, the grim menu of bad choices and kind of debated the bad choices. But there wasn`t a lot of advancing of the wild choices.

NICHOLS: You know, and it`s remarkable that even within recent history people who have argued for being very careful about dealing, for example, with North Korea, because of a handful of nuclear weapons, people who, you know, were worried about having to run to their basements in Hawaii during missile drills, are suddenly saying, you know, let`s just wade in and create a conflict between two powers that we have been trying to avoid for 70 years.

And I think again it`s an understandable emotion, Lawrence. I feel it. But as I say in the piece, emotion is not a guide for policy.

O`DONNELL: Yes. And one of the things I`ve seen, I feel like I`ve detected, is a belief that because in fact the United States and Russia and China have successfully deterred each other from ever using nuclear weapons, there has grown a belief that nuclear weapons will never be used.

And so you can kind of -- there`s a certain confidence that there will never be used to the point that some people are willing to try to send American pilots into the air to shoot directly at Russian pilots.

NICHOLS: Right. The thing people need to think about is not whether or not one of the major powers involved here will simply wake up and say today`s a good day for war. The problem is that with something like no fly zone and direct combat in a major war in Europe, you are setting in motion, as Putin already has by the way, because he is reckless, you are setting in motion military forces and probabilities that can get out of control.

My biggest worry has never been, during the entire Cold War and when I began my career and the years since, is not so much that someone was simply choose to go to a nuclear conflict but that rather set in motion processes that could lead us into a conflict that no one wants because of accidents, miscalculations, misunderstandings.

And I think people, again, have to think about the notion that you cannot control every possible outcome. We understood this during the Cold War. We approach this with a much more resolute and cautious approach during the Cold War, but it seems like we`ve somehow forgotten that.

O`DONNELL: Yes, we knew for a long time that the only choice the president of the United States had in these situations was a bad choice or a worst choice.

Tom Nichols, thank you very much for joining us. We really appreciate it.

NICHOLS: Thank you.

And coming up, we will get more reporting live from Ukraine as dawn begins to break there. That`s next.

[22:34:52]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[22:39:30]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DARINA VESELANSKA, UKRAINIAN REFUGEE: We have been waiting here for maybe, six hours. We came from Kharkiv at 5:00 a.m. And everyone is really exhausted because we can`t sleep, we can`t eat normally. Because of terrible pain and maybe anxious because of everything in this world doing right now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Missiles flying through the air destroying hospitals and residential buildings. Civilians taking up arms, making Molotov cocktails and forming militias to defend their country. while more than 1.2 million Ukrainians, including half a million children have fled the country, unsure if they will ever return.

Joining us now is Andriy Kulykov, who is a Ukrainian radio reporter in Kyiv. Andrey, what is the situation there. And how are people managing the basics of life? Food, for example, and finding shelter that they can feel safe in?

ANDRIY KULYKOV, UKRAINIAN RADIO REPORTER: Well, as far as shelter is concerned, I`m talking to you from my bathroom, which is the safest place in my flat because it has an additional wall. And I cannot go to a shelter -- to a bomb shelter now because otherwise I won`t be able to join you.

As far as food and amenities are concerned, in many cities they are normal or almost normal. For instance, in Kyiv you can still go to a supermarket and buy everything you have provided -- and everything you need provided that you have enough money on your card.

There is, of course, a problem with cash, and many smaller stores do not offer anything on card. But so far, it has been ok.

In my flat in the district where I live, I had one day without heating because there was an there was an explosion which damaged the heating system. But gas and electricity have been so far on the constant supply.

It is absolutely (INAUDIBLE) situation in some other cities, like Mariupol next to the front line into south Ukraine, where people hadn`t had their amenities for two and a half days now. and Ukraine is a rather big country in European terms. So, it depends on where you are.

Again with the bombings and artillery shooting, and (INAUDIBLE) shooting that`s different 800 meters from where I live, a high-rise was hit by rockets something like three or four days ago, when there were at least two gun battles there.

But people in other districts of Kyiv, are in a very much worse position.

O`DONNELL: Is there a pattern to the attacks? Is there a time of day where you feel safer?

KULYKOV: Well, of course, when the dawn breaks and it`s light out of the window then it is somehow psychologically better. Again when -- during the first two or three days, they used to attack at around 3:00 or 4:00 our time. Then, one day, they started at approximately midnight.

And at the moment they, at least in Kyiv, they make round from midnight to 6:00 or 7:00 in the morning. While civilians cannot predict this, I believe, probably the military know something about the pattern.

O`DONNELL: And we have reports of over a million refugees, leaving the country. It is a country of 44 million people. Is everyone leaving who can leave, or do many more people want to leave who cannot leave?

KULYKOV: Some people want to leave, but they have no means to get to the border. Some people can leave, but they stayed behind to protect our country. I know people in both situations and it was nothing to surprise people that are different in every country.

As far as 44 million is concerned, this is the official and rather imaginary fake number because for quite some time, lots of Ukrainians were working abroad. Some of them have returned, after the active phase of the war started.

But by our estimates, the population has been 38, 39 million people, with 4 to 5 million people living and working abroad.

That does not mean, of course, that these are -- that 4 million or 5 million people away makes us less important at least for ourselves.

[22:45:00]

O`DONNELL: Andriy Kulykov, thank you very much for joining us tonight. Please stay safe. And please return to that bomb shelter for your safety.

(CROSSTALK)

O`DONNELL: Thank you very much. Thank you.

KULYKOV: Thank you. Bye-bye.

O`DONNELL: And coming up, Ukrainian children, sleeping in subway stations and refugee shelters while Vladimir Putin`s Russian billionaires try to hide their yachts from seizure. Will the billionaires ever get their yachts back? A maritime law expert joins us next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[22:49:44]

O`DONNELL: Tonight some Russian billionaires are wondering if they`ll ever get their yachts back and wondering what`s happening right now to the yachts that have been seized. A maritime lawyer will join us in a moment with answers to those questions.

The yachts might be the easiest assets to seize from Russian billionaires because it is so difficult to hide a 500-foot boat. Nothing quite expresses the Russian billionaire`s contempt for Russia and Russian culture more clearly than their yachts.

None of the yachts are registered in Russia, most of them are registered in Georgetown in the Cayman Islands which is true of American owned super yachts also.

And none of the Russian yachts have Russian names, virtually none of them. There is Lady M, Alexei (INAUDIBLE) yacht, that was seized in northern Italy today. Lady M is a typical boat name, but why not use the Russian words for Lady M. Vladimir Putin named one of his yachts Graceful. For a guy who appears to hate people whose native language is English, we can only wonder why he didn`t use the Russian word for graceful.

Graceful left a repair dock in Germany before the work was finished on February 7th and went to a court in Russia. When the history of this war is written that might be the first clue of what Vladimir Putin was planning.

Igor Setchin`s (ph) yacht which carries the Italian name Amore Vero, meaning "true love" was seized in southern France when the crew was trying to leave a repair dock before the repair work was finished.

No Russian yachts were located in American waters, including the U.S. Virgin islands at the start of the war, which is unusual because it is still yachting season in the Caribbean.

If Russian billionaire`s thought their yachts were going to be safe as long as they were not in American waters, they were wrong.

Joining us now is maritime law expert attorney Michael T. Moore. Attorney Moore, what would you tell a Russian billionaire about how long they`re going to have to wait to get their yachts back or if they`re ever getting their yachts back?

MICHAEL T. MOORE, MARITIME LAW EXPERT: Well I, think it`s going to be a process. I think the long arm of the Department of Justice of the United States does have global reach. And once arrested or seized, depending on which procedure is used, it will be a process. It will take some time.

O`DONNELL: And what happens to these boats now? They need massive crews and daily maintenance all over the vessel. What happens now when they`ve been seized?

MOORE: Well, it`s a good question. Because as you`ve correctly stated, they do need care and feeding they need lots of attention, lots of things that yachts require like maintenance, dockage, insurance, crew. Things that keep them up and running.

They are movable assets, but as you`ve stated in your introduction, you can`t really hide these vessels. You can see them from, you know, computer generated systems that identify their location. Also, every port in the world keeps a record of what yachts enter and leave.

So, they will really have nowhere to run to, nowhere to hide. Once seized by the United States government in cooperation in many cases with the governments of the waters they are in like Jolo (ph), this Malaysian development fund owner of a yacht of equanimity. You know, they have the local government to cooperate with the United States and vice versa to seize these assets.

O`DONNELL: And, you know, when they tow our cars, they can just leave them in the tow lot until we get there and the worse that`s going to happen is there will be some dirt on them. Cars don`t need anything.

I mean, these things are like infant babies. I mean if they are ignored on the dock that means they are not just depreciating, they are deteriorating significantly if they`re not getting all of that daily maintenance.

MOORE: Right, that`s right. They`re hemorrhaging money. This is true. You - - if every yacht that you mentioned, you`d have to be a billionaire to own those yachts. The cost of care is staggering, it`s $750,000 a month to $1 million a month is not unusual. And as you stated, it`s a constant care and feeding to keep them from deteriorating. And they do deteriorate rapidly. They`re in very hostile environments, so salt water environments, and apparently hostile environment.

And if the crew is not -- the crew is -- these are working people, they may not even fully understand who owns the yacht, who`s the beneficial owner.

So the crew will literally be on the dark on that issue, so they will do their job until they`re not paid and at that point they`ll have to make other arrangements.

O`DONNELL: Michael T. Moore, thank you very much for joining us.

MOORE: My pleasure. Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

Tonight`s LAST WORD is next.

[22:55:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Earlier today, in a Polish village, just across the border from Ukraine, NBC New correspondent Ellison Barber spoke with Tetiana Drahozl (ph), who was forced to flee Vladimir Putin`s war on Ukraine with her eight-year-old daughter, Angelina.

[22:59:55]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TETIANA DRAHOZL, UKRAINIAN REFUGEE (through translator): She is smart. I told her, directly, this is war. We were attacked. We need to save our lives. This is the most important thing that we have.

This is what is given to us by God, and we must save it. When people are killed, when children are killed, this isn`t normal. We want all the entire world to say it out loud that this is terrorism. This is an absolutely terrible war.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Tetiana Drahozl gets tonight`s LAST WORD.

And there is the Empire State Building showing support tonight in its lighting for Ukraine.

"THE 11TH HOUR WITH STEPHANIE RUHLE" starts now.