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Transcript: The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, 4/6/22

Guests: Tim Weiner, Edward Fishman, Daniel Goldman, Andriy Kulykov, Phillips O`Brien


MSNBC`s continuing coverage of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The House of Representatives today voted to refer White House staffers Peter Navarro and Daniel Scavino to the Justice Department for criminal prosecution, for contempt of Congress, for their refusal to testify to the January 6 committee. Justice Clarence Thomas was the only Supreme Court Justice who voted to block delivery of Trump White House evidence and communications to the January 6th Committee. Ukrainian forces have retaken large areas around Kyiv this week after Russian troops abandoned their assault on the Capitol and withdrew.



And we have a bit of breaking news at this hour. Chuck Schumer has locked in a scheduled vote for Ketanji Brown Jackson to be the next Supreme Court justice. At about 1:45 p.m. tomorrow on the Senate floor, they expect the roll call to begin, and history to be made.

ALI VELSHI, MSNBC HOST: It will be a moment to watch. We are all going to stop which we are doing at that point and just take a moment and breathe it in and say, for all of the wrong that is going on in the world, something good is about to happen.

O`DONNELL: Yeah. And that`s where it is going to happen. That`s true. Thank you, Ali.

VELSHI: Good night.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

Well, it has been a nice life, an easy life, being the daughter of Vladimir Putin, until today. Vladimir Putin got his daughters sanctioned today. That is what dad did for them today.

Worst things have happened to the children of Russian heads of state. Peter the Great is Vladimir Putin`s idol, he was the last Russian head of state to get divorced, in 1698. For over 300 years after that, no Russian head of state dared to get divorced. Until Vladimir Putin, thinking perhaps he had become Peter the Great. He got divorced in 2013.

Like Peter the Great, Vladimir Putin is a paranoid sociopath, thinking that his oldest son, Alexei, was plotting against him, Peter the Great had his son tortured to death.

So, when your dad idolizes Peter the Great, if the worst happens to you is that you get sanctioned, you should feel very lucky. If history is to give Vladimir Putin an appellation following the form of Peter the Great, his inappropriate title, it should be the name Joe Biden gave him, Putin the war criminal.

We don`t know exactly how many daughters, and possibly even sons Putin the war criminal actually has. He definitely had two daughters in his marriage to the Russian flight attendant that began when he was a KGB agent in the 1980s, and it ended in divorce in 2013 was he was president of Russia for life.

The names of those daughters are Maria and Katerina. They are in their mid- thirties. In Russia, no one is allowed to use their last names when referring to them. Vladimir Putin refuses to discuss his family life in any way for what he calls security reasons.

A BBC reporter once asked Vladimir Putin about the two daughters, born during his marriage. The two daughters that we know for sure that exist. The reporter said, tell me please, when will you admit that they are your children, and when will they open themselves to society, just like the children of other world leaders? And Vladimir Putin, of course, refused to answer the question.

Vladimir Putin reportedly has at least one other daughter, much younger, borne out of wedlock to a mother much younger than Vladimir Putin. She was not targeted in today`s sanctions issued by the United States.

One unnamed intelligence official was quoted today telling NBC News that some of what the American government is doing is designed to get inside Putin`s head. Sanctioning Vladimir Putin`s daughters about whom he is so paranoid he refuses to even acknowledge their very existence is one way to get inside Vladimir Putin`s head.

Russia`s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov was caught up in the first ring of sanctions issued by the United States and one might sound like a redundant set of sanctions, Sergey Lavrov`s wife and daughter were sanctioned today. Now, you will recall that a month ago, a person who some reported to be Sergey Lavrov`s wife and daughter were sanctioned. I clarified at the time that they were not actually Lavrov`s wife or his daughter. The woman thing convention then was a woman who has in effect replaced Lavrov`s real life in his life, without Lavrov ever actually marrying her.

It was her daughter who had become an Instagram star in London at Sergey Lavrov`s expense, I should say, at the Russian people`s expense through all of the money stolen by Lavrov.


That is who was sanctioned them.

The family values of the corrupt sociopathic billionaires at the top of the Russian government, Vladimir Putin and Sergey Lavrov, are truly Trumpian family values.

Additional sanctions were issued today against Russian banks. In a new video tonight, President Zelenskyy said, it is great that the U.S. treasury stopped the possibility of Russia to use the accounts in American banks, and some assets to service the loans. It is felt. I am thankful for this.

Today, President Biden said the United States will continue to try to increase economic pain for Vladimir Putin.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There is nothing less happening than major war crimes. Responsible nations have to come together to hold these perpetrators accountable, and together with our allies and our partners, we are going to keep raising the economic cost, and ratchet up the pain for Putin, and further increase Russia`s economic isolation.


O`DONNELL: Last night, President Biden authorized $100 million in Javelin anti-tank systems to Ukraine, which the senior offense deficiencies say it will arrive in Ukraine within days.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken gave NBC`s Andrea Mitchell this perspective on U.S. military aid.


ANTONY BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE: Put this in perspective, between the United States and other allies and partners, for every Russian tank in Ukraine, we have provided, or will soon provide 10 anti-tank systems, 10 for every Russian tank. So in terms of what they need to act quickly and act effectively, to deal with the planes that are firing at them from the skies, the tanks that are trying to destroy their cities from the ground, they have the tools that they need. They are going to keep getting them. We are going to keep sustaining them.


O`DONNELL: Today, the mayor of Mariupol said that about 5,000 civilians have been killed there including 210 children, just in Mariupol alone. The mayor described what he says are deliberate attacks against civilians that could constitute war crimes including Russian forces dropping several bombs on a children`s hospital.

Today, in an address to the Irish parliament, President Zelenskyy said this.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): Russia is using this hunger weapon, the worst thing is the city of Mariupol, there is half a million habitants in the city. It was put on besieged, they have blocked the access from the soil, from the sea, they are blocking the humanitarian cargo. They are not allowing anything to come through, neither water, nor medication.

While it was snowing, people would melt the snow to get water. Now they don`t even have that. So they are bombing 24/7, air strikes, bombings, in Mariupol. There is no single house left intact in a half a million city. None.

The dead and killed were simply buried in the yards of the condominiums. And in many cases, they couldn`t even do that. The bodies were just left there lying on the streets and the remnants of the buildings and in the basements. We don`t know how many citizens of Mariupol have been killed by Russia.


O`DONNELL: Luke Mogelson reporting in "The New Yorker" about the massacre in Bucha, wrote, a number of corpses had been severely burned besides a garbage pile, it was hard to say how many there were. Charred legs and torsos were severed and scattered. But one victim appeared to be a woman, another a child or an adolescent. Several people reported that Russians had brought the bodies on a tank, dumped them, and let them on fire.

Everyone I spoke with noted that as soon as the Russians had arrived in Bucha, they had ransacked homes, and supermarkets for alcohol. At almost every location where someone had been killed, I saw numerous empty bottles of vodka, whiskey, wine, or beer.

Here is what one witness in Bucha told "The Associated Press".


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They took him here. I did not see them shooting. We all heard the shooting. They were shot that. When we came out, we saw his bald head, he was partially bald, I came closer and I saw that his body was burned. They didn`t just shoot him. They also used the weapon that sent out fire. They burn him down.


O`DONNELL: Joining us now is NBC News Pentagon correspondent, Courtney Kube.

Courtney, the Pentagon has once again started shipping yet another round of military aid and equipment to Ukraine. There is some issue about what Ukraine -- what is on Ukraine`s wish list, and what they are capable of actually operating and supporting over there.

Is there a gap, and is there a way to close that gap?

COURTNEY KUBE, NBC NEWS PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: There is. And we actually learn some new details about how the Pentagon has been doing. That the U.S. military has been doing that, just even recently in the last couple of weeks. One way is with the Switchblade drones. The American people probably don`t know a whole lot about these. It is not a common piece of equipment that people know about.

It is a drone that is launched off, it is small, it is about the size of a backpack. It can be launched at a location, and it literally crashes into it, and it explodes. It has ammunition on board, and it explodes.

Now, it is a single use drone, but just that very nature of the name, drone, it does not involve an operator. It does not put people in danger. But it can be very effective in targeting things as big as tanks, and equipment on the ground.

So because these are relatively new pieces of equipment, we learned today from a senior defense official that the U.S. military actually has been training members, a small group of members of the Ukrainian military here in the United States to use these switchblade drones. The first 100 are already there in the country, and Ukraine, with the Ukrainian military.

The reason that this worked out is that there is a small group of Ukrainian military officials that were here in the U.S. getting professional training already. The military pulled him aside, taught them how to use these drones. It only takes a day or two to do so. And then send them forward, the drones, so the Ukrainian military can use them.

You mentioned the Javelins. That is another extremely, extremely important fight for the Ukrainian military. They`re against the Russians in Ukraine. Another one that has already been pretty effective and is likely to be more effective in this next phase of this military campaign is the Stinger. It is an anti-aircraft missile. It is able to take out Russian aircraft like helicopters.

O`DONNELL: And so, what about the numbers? There is a serious gap between what Ukraine is asking for, and what`s the United States even has on hand in javelins, for example.

KUBE: Yeah, that`s right. So, we saw the first indications that the U.S. government is really taking any effort that they can to get this equipment forward to the Ukrainians with an announcement late last week where they said they were actually going to start buying some equipment directly from private industry. The differences, rather than taking out of the U.S. military stockpiles, they are taking it and buying it directly from the defense industry to send it forward as quickly as possible.

Another thing that we learned here is that in some cases, this equipment is being forwarded to the Ukrainian military literally in a matter of days, sometimes as quickly as 4 to 6 days, literally from the United States forwarded into the Ukrainian military`s hands.

O`DONNELL: Courtney Kube, thank you very much for starting us off tonight. I really appreciate it.

KUBE: Thanks.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

The United States is waging an intelligence war against Russia. Our next guest, Tim Weiner says it is the most amazing display of intelligence as an instrument of state power that I have seen or that I have heard of since the Cuban missile crisis.

Joining us now is Tim Weiner, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist. He is the author of `The Folly and the Glory: America, Russia, and Political Warfare 1945 to 2020", which is out in paperback next week.

Also with us, Edward Fishman who served as Russia`s sanctions lead at the State Department.

Tim, let me begin with you and what you have said about what we are seeing on the intelligence side of this war. What is happening on the intelligence side, and how does it compare to what we have seen in the past?

TIM WEINER, FORMER FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT, NEW YORK TIMES: The United States through the CIA and the State Department launched a devastating attack on Vladimir Putin back on February 17th. Antony Blinken, the secretary of state, expose the Russian plan to create disinformation operations, phony attacks, staged videos of atrocities and this had devastating effects on the Kremlin.

One, it neutralized Putin`s plans for war.

Two, it created a great crisis in Putin`s military intelligence and security services. They all looked around and said, who`s the mole? Who told the Americans about our plans? Putin put the head of a major intelligence branch, a security service responsible for intelligence on Ukraine, under house arrest.

The third and most important was by calling out Putin`s plans for war, the world understands now that Putin owns this war. He owns the blood in the streets of Ukraine. He owns the body bags of Russians coming home to their mothers. It is his war, not Ukraine`s.

O`DONNELL: Edward Fishman, there were new sanctions today issued against banks. Those of us don`t follow this with your eye for detail didn`t know that there were any banks left to sanction at this point, or any new sanctions to add to banks. What did those sanctions add today?

EDWARD FISHMAN, FORMER U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT RUSSIAN SANCTIONS LEAD: Lawrence, today the Biden administration imposed full-bodied sanctions on Russia`s largest bank, Sberbank, which actually accounts for a third of Russia`s banking sector. To put this into context, half of Russians get their wages through Sberbank. Many, many Russians who have mortgages -- get their mortgages to Sberbank.

So, this is a significant action. I think the Biden administration deserves credit for ratcheting up the pressure today that has not been done in a month. At the same time, Lawrence, we have still not seen the aggressive sanctions on Russia`s oil and gas exports that we have all been waiting for. And still, even with today sanctions, you can expect Putin to be making about one billion dollars every single day selling oil and gas around the world.

And I think as long as he can make that money some oil and gas around the world, you will be able to continue funding this war in Ukraine without any difficulty.

O`DONNELL: Tim Weiner, the sanctions on Vladimir Putin`s daughters sounded like a combined intelligence operation and sanctions operation?

WEINER: What the United States is doing right now is something they have not done in the 21st century. It is doing political warfare. Political warfare is using all the means that the nation has, intelligence, diplomacy, economic sanctions, to wage war without weapons.

The full spectrum of American power is going to be wage against Russia for many months and years to come. But this is going to do is not only disrupt Putin`s war plants, but make him understand that his plans for projecting power beyond the borders of Russia are doomed.

The crisis here and the crucial aspect of this intelligence war is how to get the truth about this war to the Russian people. If the Russian people can understand what is actually going on in Ukraine, they will one day rebel. They will rise up and say down with big brother.

And so the crucial aspect of the intelligence war right now is how to get the truth, how to get the facts, how to pierce Putin`s iron curtain and tell the Russian people what is going on.

O`DONNELL: Tim Weiner and Edward Fishman, thank you both very much for joining us tonight. We really appreciate it.

And coming up, by a wide margin, a new poll shows that most Americans say that Clarence Thomas must recuse himself from Supreme Court cases involving the 2020 election and the attack on the capital. Former Senator Claire McCaskill and former federal prosecutor Daniel Goldman join us next.



O`DONNELL: A new political poll asked the question, as you may know, Ginni Thomas, a conservative activists and the wife of Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas, repeatedly pressured then White House chief of staff Mark Meadows in 2020 to try to overturn President Donald Trump`s loss in the presidential election. Do you believe that Supreme Justice Clarence Thomas should remove himself from cases related to the 2020 election due to Ginni Thomas`s actions?

America answered, yes, by a wide margin. 53 percent of voters said that Clarence Thomas should remove himself from all cases related to the 2020 election. Only 28 percent think Clarence Thomas can participate in those cases.

Clarence Thomas has already participated in a Supreme Court decision that probably involves his wife`s communications with the White House.


Justice Thomas was the only Supreme Court justice to block the delivery of Trump White House evidence and communication to the January 6 committee. Clarence Thomas cast the only no vote in that case. After the last White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, had already turned over some communications to the committee that included text messages from Clarence Thomas`s wife to Mark Meadows urging the illegal overturning of the presidential election.

Clarence Thomas is the first Supreme Court justice to vote to block the delivery of evidence to a congressional committee investigating an insurrection at the capital in an illegal attempt to overthrow a presidential election. And Clarence Thomas`s wife was part of the illegal attempt to overthrow the presidential election.

Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe told us on this program that he believes Clarence Thomas has violated federal law that prohibits all federal judges, including Supreme Court justices, from participating in cases that and in any way involved their spouses. Mitch McConnell, Lindsey Graham and other Republican senators insist that Clarence Thomas has done nothing wrong, that he should continue to participate in cases that involve his wife. Fifty-three percent of Americans say no, Clarence Thomas cannot participate in those cases.

And 53 percent of the United States Senate`s pledge to vote for the confirmation of Judge Ketanji Brown-Jackson as the next Supreme Court justice. That vote is scheduled for tomorrow on the Senate floor at 1:45 pm.

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson is expected to take her seat on the Supreme Court when Justice Stephen Breyer retires in June.

Today, a federal judge in Washington ruled that Steve Bannon will not be able to mount a defense in the Congress case against him by saying that he refused to testify to the January 6 committee because his lawyer told him he did not have to. The court ruled based on a 60-year precedent that advice of counsel defense is unavailable for that charge in this case.

That means that that defense will not be available to Trump White House staffers Steve Navarro and Daniel Scavino after the House of Representatives today voted to refer their cases to the Justice Department for criminal prosecution, for contempt of Congress, for their refusal to testify to the January 6 committee.

And joining us now is Claire McCaskill, former Democratic Senator from Missouri and MSNBC political analyst.

Also with us, Daniel Goldman, who served as a House impeachment inquiry majority counsel for the first impeachment trial of Donald Trump. He is also a former assistant U.S. attorney to New York and an MSNBC legal contributor.

Senator McCaskill, we have yet another referral to Merrick Garland`s Justice Department for contempt of Congress and prosecution. We are still waiting for action on the Mark Meadows referral, which has been several months now.

CLAIRE MCCASKILL, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, you know, Dan might know more about this than I do, but it is my understanding that there is a office of legal counsel memo that is floating around that has caused pause around the Meadows referral, based on the fact that he`s considered a high- level adviser to the president.

These two referrals were made tonight or today by Congress. I`ve a feeling that Navarro is out of luck. Hopefully very quickly, the DOJ will indict him. He cannot be considered a high-level advisor.

Scavino, hmm, could go either way because -- I mean, he really was somebody who came in off the street because he did well on social media. But he was at his shoulder at all key moments that day, which means that the committee really wants to hear what he has to say.

O`DONNELL: Daniel Goldman, what about the?

DANIEL GOLDMAN, MSNBC LEGAL CONTRIBUTOR: Yeah. I think there is a difference when you do have senior officials who are in regular contact with the president.


The other option for Mark Meadows is that there may be some ongoing discussions between him and the Department of Justice.

We don`t know and we would not know, but certainly his lawyer will be trying to convince the department not to charge him. And that may include various internal memos with the department as well as Meadows` cooperation in turning over documents, et cetera.

But it also maybe the case that Meadows, who has shown some indication of cooperation with investigators, may be interested in cooperating more broadly to prevent himself from going to jail. Or if he is implicated in the broader investigation related to January 6. I have no information that that is the case, but that would be a major, major breakthrough.

O`DONNELL: And Claire, he does have his own voter fraud case to consider in the package that he might want to -- package deal he might want to do with the Justice Department since he obviously voted illegally from an address that he did not live at.

CLAIRE MCCASKILL, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. And I have got to tell you, I think Scavino and Navarro both belong in the Bannon camp. And that is they would wear and do a year in jail, like a badge of honor because of the crowd they hang with.

The most that you could punish them is a year in jail and $100,000. And frankly, that $100,000 would materialize from nowhere because of their connections in the Trump cult.

So I am not sure that the threat against them does as much good as it does against somebody like Mark Meadows, some of the other witnesses that have come forward once Bannon was indicted.

O`DONNELL: Daniel Goldman, a poll saying 53 percent of voters believe that Clarence Thomas should not be involved in any of these cases, only 28 percent think it is ok for him to be involved in these cases. I know the Supreme Court does not make it their business to regularly read polls. But they are all going to read that one.

GOLDMAN: This is the problem with the Clarence Thomas situation. I think what we now have seen is that he should have recused himself from the Archives case, and he should recuse himself going forward.

But the problem is that he didn`t. So to recuse himself now going forward is an admission that he improperly ruled in that case. And I can conceive of no situation where Clarence Thomas, or any Supreme Court justice would be willing to admit that he should have recused previously and did not because that will taint himself far greater than if he just ignores the poll.

So yes, of course, he should recuse and he should have recused. The issue as to whether or not her texts were included in the batch of information, or whether he knew about the details of her text messages with Mark Meadows, it is really irrelevant. Clarence Thomas has a duty to make sure that he is completely impartial and that he recuses if there is any involvement of a spouse in any matter that comes before him. And he did not do that.

But I don`t expect him to do it now going forward. And so he is just going to continue to taint the reputation and independence of the Supreme Court.

O`DONNELL: And Claire, it is a lot more than tainting a reputation, it is violating the law. Professor Tribe has identified the federal law that says that a justice must not ever participate in a case that involves a spouse in any way, even in an indirect way.

And now from, you know, several days forward, Clarence Thomas can never, ever, ever claim that he did not know that his wife was involved in this. Because even if he does not speak to his wife, Bob Woodward`s reporting has spoken to him. And it is public information that his wife is deeply involved. The law says that Clarence Thomas cannot participate in these cases.

MCCASKILL: Yes. And it is as plain as the nose on his face that he should have recused himself under the law. The question is an enforcement mechanism. And the Supreme Court does not think they need a enforcement mechanism. Well, I disagree, clearly they do. Clearly they need someone enforcing the rule because Clarence Thomas did not think it applied to him. And that is very dangerous, especially on the highest court of the land.

We are going to get a Supreme Court justice confirmed tomorrow by the 53 as you mentioned and it will be a great day. And hopefully, the new justice will set a great example for Clarence Thomas in terms of paying close attention to the ethics rules and serving on the highest court in the land.

O`DONNELL: Claire, it is going to be one of those roll call votes where I am sitting there watching every single name that is counted, and every moment it comes in. I`ll be watching that.

MCCASKILL: And you know the name that will make me sad, Lawrence, in this political environment? It will make my heart hurt when Tim Scott votes no. It will make my heart hurt.

O`DONNELL: Yes. It is one of those things that we will be watching tomorrow. Claire McCaskill, Daniel Goldman -- thank you very much for joining us tonight.


GOLDMAN: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: And coming up, we will get a live report from a Ukrainian radio reporter, Andriy Kulykov in Kyiv. He has been reporting for us many times. Sometimes from his kitchen floor, or in his bathroom with the lights off so that Russian attackers would not be able to use any of those lights as a targeting mechanism.

And now, it may be easier for him to report for us tonight now that Russian forces have apparently withdrawn from Kyiv. That is next.



VITALI KLITSCHKO, MAYOR OF KYIV, UKRAINE: This is war against civilians our country. The main goal is to destroy the country. This war does not have rules.


O`DONNELL: That was the mayor of Kyiv speaking yesterday. Ukrainian forces have retaken large areas around Kyiv this week after Russian troops abandoned their assault on the Capitol and withdrew across the border into Belarus and western Russia.

According to Ukraine`s government, 89 people were killed in Kyiv including four children. 398 people were also wounded, including 20 children.

Since late February, over 200 buildings have been hit by Russian airstrikes in Kyiv, including residential buildings, schools, kindergartens and one orphanage. Russian attacks also damaged 17 medical facilities and 48 transportation infrastructure sites.

Joining us now is Andriy Kulykov, a Ukrainian radio reporter in Kyiv who has been joining us regularly. Thank you very much for joining us again tonight. What has changed there since the Russian troops seem to have withdrawn?

ANDRIY KULYKOV, UKRAINIAN RADIO REPORTER: The number of air alerts has fallen dramatically. For instance yesterday, there were only two. One in the morning and one when the night started something like 11 hours p.m. our time.

And there is also a different mood in the city. I think that (INAUDIBLE) euphoria. Because the Russians, yes, they have withdrawn and rather (ph) far from Kyiv so people start to live something that is maybe called normal pre-war life. They walk, they don`t shiver at any noise.

Yesterday and the day before yesterday, I had at least five calls from my friends and relatives who are elsewhere, even abroad, who said we`re coming back to Kyiv. I am telling them, not to haste, because the Russians have withdrawn but I think that they will return.

When they will return will depend on whether they reach successes in the east and the south of the country. If they realize their plans to snatch more territory from Ukraine, there they may make a force and then come back later.

But if they suffer a defeat in the east and in the south, they may return to Kyiv very soon because for them, it is important to make some symbolical gain. And Kyiv, of course, is a very symbolical gain.

O`DONNELL: You were in a group of I think nine journalists who met with President Zelenskyy just two days ago. I think we have a photograph of the group. You are standing in that photograph, right beside President Zelenskyy. You were with him for 90 minutes, and a certain portion of it after that was off the record. And I know you are not going to go into what was off the record.

But I would like to talk about the man you saw that day. You were covering President Zelenskyy as a reporter before this war. What was different about the man you saw who is now a wartime president?

KULYKOV: I think that since the onslaught started and probably a bit before this, he has come to be what I thought he would be back in 2019. Because I always thought that when he comes to power, if he comes to power, then he is a person of quite a personal behavior. And for him to perform his job honestly and professionally maybe a very good stimulus.

So what he now does, I think he does because he wants to be a professional president if there is such an option. And I saw a man who -- a person who knows almost every detail of what is happening in his country. I say he does not command the troops, of course, although he knows where practically every unit is. But he (INAUDIBLE) in getting weapons for Ukraine. And this is international support.

And this seems to be his first priority (ph), apart from the general desire to gain victory.

O`DONNELL: Andriy Kulykov, thank you very much for joining us tonight. And we are glad that your situation seems safer now in Kyiv. We hope it stays that way. Thank you very much.

KULYKOV: (INAUDIBLE) Thank you, Lawrence.


O`DONNELL: Thank you.

And coming up, why has Vladimir Putin`s army failed so miserably so far in their attempt to take full control of Ukraine? Why did they fail in Kyiv? And what does it mean for the Ukrainian military tactics going forward? What is the most effective form of military aid for Ukraine now? All of that is next.



O`DONNELL: Yesterday Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said this.


LLOYD AUSTIN, U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Just because you have the capability, it doesn`t mean that you`re going to overwhelm another force easily. Now, the Russians have significant mechanized capability, but as you look at the techniques and tactics, the procedures that they used, they were not very effective.


O`DONNELL: Our next guest in an article for "The Atlantic" titled, "How the West got Russia`s military so, so wrong," explains why the Russian military has not easily conquered Ukraine. Phillips O`Brien writes, "First, western analysts misunderstood the Russian military`s ability to undertake the most complex operations and the robustness of its logistical capabilities. And second, prognosticators paid too little attention to the basic motivations and morale of the soldiers who would be asked to use the Russian military`s allegedly excellent doctrine and equipment."

Joining us now is Phillips O`Brien, professor of strategic studies at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. He is the author of "How The War Was Won: Air, Sea Power, an allied victory in World War II".

Professor O`Brien, we now know that the assessment that Ukraine would fall quickly was wrong.


O`DONNELL: But what does that -- what do we know, given that the same people are making these assessments in the American military of how the American military supplies can help Ukraine now, exactly which supplies is Ukraine capable of using? Which supplies are too complex for them to use?

There seems to be a gap in what Ukraine asks for and what the Pentagon thinks they are actually capable of operating there.

O`BRIEN: Well at least now we do have five weeks of real world experience to give us some idea of how the battlefield operates in Ukraine. It is unlike before the war when people were sort of assuming we knew what the Russians could do and what the Ukrainians do and we were proven wrong on both.

I think there is some interesting signs of what the Ukrainians -- the Pentagon believes the Ukrainians can do. They are absolutely flooding Ukraine with anti tank weaponry. Secretary Blinken gave a talk earlier today where he said there were ten anti tank weapons in Ukraine for every Russian tank. And if so, that is a very high ratio and puts Ukraine in a very good position.

Another interesting report that came out which was I think off the record, but it is probably quite trustworthy is that Ukrainian soldiers are actually now in the United States training to use Switchblade drones. So that they are trying to be trained on -- and one assumes their ability to operate UAV`s has been very, very high in drones so that they can use the Switchblade system. But that they are going to be given, you know, a significant amount of this high grade UAV system.

O`DONNELL: Yes. Courtney Kube confirmed that for us tonight. What is -- given that this issue of assessment -- assessment of what Russia is capable of, assessment of what Ukraine is capable of, is so crucial to every day decisions going forward, the system that was making those assessments in the first few days was wrong.

Have they caught up? Have they adjusted on the field to being able to assess what is happening?

O`BRIEN: I think mostly. I mean -- and you don`t want to like now knock the Russians too much simply for the fact that the Russian military has not performed well. But you do not want to assume it can never perform well or you will be too complacent.

What is interesting is how we now look at what is going on and done, I mean it is quite clear the Russians are out of Kyiv. They have pulled everything out of Kyiv or almost everything except what they left behind in their rush.

So it is what they can do in Donbas and we have, you know, on the one hand, we can see that they are trying to get force there. But they still don`t have a great ability to move quickly. I mean they`ve made this their priority. And they are just having the ability to sort of inch forward day by day.

So, you know, we do not want to say that they cannot do anything dramatic. On the other hand, I think we have to be very careful, about saying they`re going to run, bash through, and take Dnipro in some sort of blitzkrieg type operation. I think we want to look at it in a measured way and give the Ukrainians the kind of weaponry, first of all, to stop the Russians from moving.

It would be very difficult for the Ukrainians to begin attacking. I think that will change the dynamic of war.

O`DONNELL: Professor Phillips O`Brien, thank you very much for joining us tonight. We really appreciate it.

O`BRIEN: Thank you, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

And tonight`s LAST WORD is next.



O`DONNELL: Today, in an interview with Andrea Mitchell in Brussels, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said this.


ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: It could take time, but I think I can guarantee you there will be a relentless effort to make sure that those responsible for what we are seeing are held accountable.

And what we are seeing, Andrea, is I think beyond what any of us even could fully anticipate. We said before Russia committed this aggression, that there would be atrocities and it was a deliberate part of their campaign.


BLINKEN: And even knowing that, when this Russian tide receded from Bucha, and we saw the death and destruction left in its wake, and we saw what that looked like, including people who had been assassinated in effect, their hands tied -- executed -- their hands tied behind their backs, the abuse committed against women, against children. It is horrific.

And there has to be accountability for it.


O`DONNELL: The secretary of state gets tonight`s LAST WORD.