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Transcript: The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, 3/10/22

Guests: Adam Schiff, Julia Davis, Michael Wasiura, Molly Schwartz, Brian Klaas, Andriy Kulykov


MSNBC`s continuing live coverage of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Putin intensifies pro-Russia propaganda as war drags on. Russian state TV pundits call on Putin to end attacks. Vladimir Putin is now talking about seizing the Russian assets of American companies while Russian-owned super yachts are being very visibly seized.


LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Ali, I wouldn`t want you to stop, and please keep it going as long as you have to, whenever you`re in the middle of coverage like that. That is so compelling and so important.

Thank you very much, Ali. Really appreciate it.

ALI VELSHI, MSNBC HOST: Thank you, my friend.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

VELSHI: Have a good show.

O`DONNELL: We have breaking news tonight about Russia`s response of what they are calling the economic war that to the United States has launched against Russia. "The New York Times" is reporting President Vladimir V. Putin opened the door to nationalizing the assets of Western companies pulling out of Russia. A particular concern our Western companies that once symbolized post-Soviet Russia`s integration into the world economy, like McDonald`s and IKEA, that have now shuttered hundreds of stores and factories. Mr. Putin told officials in the televised meeting that the assets of such companies should be put under external management and then transferred to those who want to work.

Dimitri Medvedev, the vice chairman of Mr. Putin`s Security Council, said the Kremlin could respond to Western companies leaving the Russian market with the seizure of their assets and their possible nationalization. The prospect of the Kremlin seizing private assets rattled Russia`s business community.

Vladimir Potanin, a metals magnate who is one of Russia`s richest men, released a statement warning that such nationalization would bring us back 100 years to 1917, the year of the Russian Revolution when the Bolsheviks forcibly took over private enterprises.

On Russian TV, Vladimir Putin said, I have no doubt that these sanctions would have been implemented no matter what just as we overcame these difficulties in past years, we will overcome them now to.

It was exactly three weeks ago at this very hour that we announced the grim news of Russia`s invasion of Ukraine and exactly 24 hours ago, we brought you the gruesome images of a Russian attack on a maternity hospital in the city of Mariupol. Now, you`ve probably seen this particular agonizing image of a pregnant woman on a stretcher being carried to safety after the attack.

That is Vladimir Putin`s cruelty at work. And that is exactly what Donald Trump called genius three weeks ago. Donald Trump said that Putin`s invasion was genius. He said that at the beginning of the invasion.

No American should ever forget that Donald Trump said that when looking at these images of Vladimir Putin`s war. There are much more gruesome images of the war, but no photograph in which everyone in the photograph is still alive tells the story of what Russia is doing to Ukraine more clearly than this photograph.

Three weeks on one day ago, all six people in that photograph were living their normal lives. That mother, latent her pregnancy, was no doubt eagerly looking forward to her delivery date at that hospital that has now been destroyed by Vladimir Putin in an act of pure terrorism.

Vladimir Putin is trying to terrorize everyone in Ukraine, even mothers who are about to give birth and hospitals, and everyone who works on hospitals. Twenty-four hours later, the only details we have about who was killed at that hospital by Vladimir Putin come from a Ukrainian government official who said two adults were killed and a six-year-old child was killed.


Three weeks and one day ago, those two adults and that six-year-old child were living their normal lives, and now they are gone. And Vladimir Putin remains intent on killing more men, women, and children in Ukraine.

Yesterday, the Russian ministry of defense said, quote, Ukrainian nationalists are preparing a provocation with poisonous substances so as to blame Russia after in the use of chemical weapons.

Here is the White House reaction to that.


JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Russia has a history also of inventing outright lies like this, which is the suggestion that the United States has a chemical and biological weapons program, or Ukraine does, that they are operating. Russia is the one, is a country that has a chemical and biological weapons program.

They not only have the capacity, they have a history of using chemical and biological weapons, and that in this moment, we should have our eyes open for that possibility.


O`DONNELL: Ukraine`s President Zelenskyy sent out a video message today in which the first thing he said was a strong rebuke to Russia`s misinformation about chemical weapons.

Presidents Zelenskyy said, I am the president of a reasonable country and a reasonable people, and the father of two children. No chemical or any other weapons of mass destruction were developed on my land. The whole world knows this. And if Russia does something similar against us, it will receive the most severe sanctions responds.

Mariupol and Volnovakha remain in blockade despite the fact that we did everything possible to create a humanitarian corridor. But the Russian military did not stop the fire. Despite this, I`ve decided to still send humanitarian convoy to Mariupol with food, water, and medicine. I am thankful to all the courageous drivers who are ready to accomplish this mission, a very important mission. But the occupiers began a tank attack, right at the point where the humanitarian corridor was established, the corridor of life from Mariupol residents.

They did it on purpose. They knew what they were reckon. Today, they destroyed the building of the state emergency service of Ukraine office of the Donetsk oblast.

This was the place in which mariposa residents were supposed to gather for evacuation. This is outright terror from experienced terrorists. The world must know this, I must admit it, we are all dealing with a terrorist state.

Later in that video, President Zelenskyy switched to speaking Russian so he could speak directly to the Russian people and Russian soldiers in Russian. Presidents Zelenskyy said this: Where will you hit us with chemical weapons? At the maternity hospital in Mariupol? A church in Kharkiv? On the children`s hospital? Or in laboratories? Most of which have been left over from Soviet times and are engaged in ordinary science, ordinary, not military technology.

I am the president of a reasonable country, and a reasonable people, and the father of two children. No chemical or any other weapons of mass destruction were developed on my land. The whole world knows this.

Once again today, Ukraine`s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba discussed a possible cease-fire at a meeting in turkey with Russia`s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov who is now an internationally sanctioned member, along with Vladimir Putin, of what President Zelenskyy calls a terrorist state.

Russia`s list of demands were unchanged and, of course, remain completely unacceptable to Ukraine. Ukraine`s foreign minister said Russia is essentially seeking a surrender.


DMYTRO KULEBA, UKRAINIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: I was ready to make all necessary calls, right away, to a range of humanitarian corridors for Mariupol, I proposed it, and my proposal was not followed by was -- not supported by Minister Lavrov.

My impression is that Russia is not in a position, at this point, to establish a cease-fire. They seek a surrender from Ukraine. But this is not what they are going to get.


O`DONNELL: We are going to NBC News correspondent Cal Perry in Lviv, Ukraine.

Cal, a couple of minutes before we started here, I saw your tweet about air raid sirens.


What`s the situation there?

CAL PERRY, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Yes. So, we had air raids go off about 20 minutes ago and then five minutes ago, we received the all clear. It is incredibly unnerving for the hundreds of thousands of internally displaced people who have fled from Mariupol, who have fled from Kharkiv. Those who are able to get out, they come here, and then the air siren start, people rushed underground bunkers and wait for it to clear up.

The situation in Mariupol, as you laid out, is becoming unlivable and in fact people are dying in great numbers. We know from the deputy governor there that there were six attempts, six separate attempts in 24 hours, to get civilians out. And the fear on the ground here is palpable over these comments about chemical weapons.

The government here has been saying for sometime that first it would be the hospitals and then it could be the chemical weapons because we have seen this playbook from Russia before. And so you have the president today talking about it, yet the foreign minister talking about it putting out a tweet saying that it is on the record, saying this could happen.

And one of the things that is unnerving people here to -- one of the first time that we have seen the European government be on the same page as U.S. intelligence. Three weeks ago, the government said that there might not be an invasion at all and it was Washington that was laying out these steps.

And now we have the government here saying that not only is it a possibility, but it`s one that they`re preparing for. And as you said, they`re actually naming places where it could happen.

The one success I think we can take away from the peace talks had nothing to do with the Ukrainian foreign minister, or the Russian foreign minister, it was the arrival of the head of the IAEA, who arrived at the talks and basically demanded access to the Chernobyl nuclear site. This is a site that has had without power now for almost two days and they need to get the power hook up there, that according to the IAEA.

And allegedly, the Russian government is going to allow engineers from Ukraine to get to that site. It is these nuclear sites, in addition to the stop of chemical weapons, that has more and more people fleeing. That has hundreds of thousands people now on the move because there isn`t beyond a lack of trust toward the Russian government. There is a knowledge there -- there is an awareness here on the ground that would Russians are being told is not just false, it is misleading, it is disinformation. And that it could cause a real catastrophe here, even beyond what we are already seeing, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Cal Perry, thank you very much for that report starting us off. I really appreciated.

And joining us now is Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff from California. He`s the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.

Mr. Chairman, thank you very much for joining us tonight.

What can you tell us about the United States might know about a possible chemical weapons attack by Russia?

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): Well , it`s Russian tradecraft to essentially blame the other side for what the attempt to do. So when the Russians -- that the Ukraine or the U.S. had a secret chemical or biological weapons program, it means that they are contemplating using biological or chemical weapons and blaming Ukraine.

This is how they laid the foundation for another false-flag operation. And I think it`s very smart and very important that the Biden administration is putting this out there, putting the world on notice of that, if biological and chemical weapons rear their ugly head, this is part of Russia`s terrorism against the people of Ukraine.

So Russia`s capable of this, this is Russian tradecraft, whether they will go through with it or not, I hope that the threat and as will help discourage that. But I think the more Putin is meeting resistance, the more indiscriminate the attacks and the more that Russians contemplate the unthinkable, including using these weapons.

O`DONNELL: We saw this report from "The New York Times" tonight that Vladimir Putin is considering nationalizing foreign companies, American companies, that have assets in Russia, but companies that have stopped doing business there, they believe they`ve stopped doing business there temporarily and expect to resume doing business there at some point in the future, presumably.

What does that tell you about the situation in Russia, that Vladimir Putin is considering, as one Russian businessmen, Russian billionaire said, taking the country back 100 years?

SCHIFF: It tells you that the sanctions that we and our allies have put on Russia are devastating to the Russian economy and they`re contemplating a retaliation. But they never expected they would have to consider it. They don`t think the world would get this act together is the strongly and punish the Russian economy.

And, look, I would say, like the State Department has said, Americans need to get out of Russia.


I think American businesses have to stop doing business in Russia. Whether they will be able to go back, I don`t know, but right now, they have to close down their operations.

I think it is not only having an economic impact, but it`s having a psychological impact on the Russian people. It breaks through the Russian fire wall (INAUDIBLE) iconic businesses shutting down. It causes them to ask questions. We want the Russian people to ask those questions. The more pressure we can put on, I think the more quickly we can get Putin to stop this tragic and brutal war of aggression.

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to Senator Angus King`s questioning of Lieutenant General Scott Berrier. He is the director of Defense Intelligence Agency, on what is actually happening there. How Russia is attacking and what that means to the discussion about a no-fly zone.


SEN. ANGUS KING (I-ME): We see these horrendous pictures of apartment blocks being hit, hospitals being hit in Ukraine. My question is, what`s hitting them? The use of the term bombing is very common. But my impression is it`s mostly missiles and artillery. Is it bombing from aircraft or missiles and artillery?

SCOTT BERRIER, DEFENSE INTELLIGENCE AGENCY DIRECTOR: It is a combination of a combination mostly missiles, artillery, multiple rocket launchers. There are some position guided ammunitions being dropped from aircraft but the numbers small.

KING: My point is, a fly zone would inhibit missiles, rockets, and artillery?

BERRIER: That is correct.


O`DONNELL: What is your reaction to that, Mr. Chairman?

SCHIFF: I think that the general is right. This is what is the most devastating to Ukraine right now. I also think that what Ukraine needs most (AUDIO GAP) to inflict pain on the Russians is to take out what it can, and it can take out Russian aircraft, if it has the missile capability, and is a capability that is in the surrounding (AUDIO GAP).

So, we need (AUDIO GAP) aircraft from Poland. But I do think that the administration could reject a no-fly zone, because it would be too likely to direct war between the United States and Russia.

O`DONNELL: Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, thank you for joining us tonight.

And coming up, new cracks in the propaganda wall Vladimir Putin has built in Russia. On state-run TV just last night in Russia, some pundits were actually calling for an end to Putin`s war in Ukraine. That`s next.



O`DONNELL: Today, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, seen here in the Trump Oval office laughing with a pathological liar, today, told the pathological lie, that the maternity hospital attacked by Russian forces in Ukraine yesterday was no longer functioning as a hospital, had no patients in it. It was being used as a base to attack Russian soldiers.

Sergey Lavrov now takes his place in history as a pathological liar, covering for Vladimir Putin`s murder of a six-year-old child, at that hospital yesterday, along with two adults. But, the Lavrov lies, and the Putin lies, come after years of building a propaganda wall, along the Russian people, that is very difficult to penetrate.

But, last night on this program, Misha Katsurin told us about his phone call to his father in Russia who refused to believe that his son, and the people of Ukraine, were being attacked by Russian forces in Ukraine.

Protesting Putin`s war was dangerous enough, even before Russia`s new law making it illegal to use the word war, or invasion. We learned from our next guest, Molly Schwartz`s reporting in "Mother Jones" that Russian jail cells are so overcrowded now, people need to stand all through the night. They never had so many people to arrest. So, they do not have space.

Also joining us in a moment will be Julia Davis, who`s reporting in "The Daily Beast" shows some possible cracks in the propaganda wall, including a program on Russian state TV last night that, quote, became dominated by predictions of Russian gloom and doom.

Andrey Sidorov said: For our country, this period won`t be easy, it will be very difficult, and it may even be more difficult than it was for the Soviet Union from 1945 until the 1960s. We`re more integrated into the global economy than the Soviet Union. We are more dependent on imports.

And State TV pundit Karen Shakhnazarov said, I don`t see the probability of denazification of such an enormous country. We would need to bring in 1.5 million soldiers to control all of it. At the same time, I don`t see any political power that would consolidate the Ukrainian society in a pro- Russian direction.

Those who talked to their mass attraction to Russia, obviously, didn`t see things the way they are. The most important thing in the scenario is to stop our military action. Others will say that sanctions will remain. Yes, they will remain, but in my opinion, discontinuing the active face of a military operation is very important. They really thought through these sanctions, they`re hitting us with real continuity. It`s a well-planned operation.

This threatens the change of public opinion in Russia, the destabilization of our power structures -- with the possibility of a full destabilization of the country, and a civil war.


Joining us now, Molly Schwartz, contributor to "Mother Jones", Michael Wasiura, an American journalist who has actually been a pundit on Russian television, and Julia Davis, columnist for "The Daily Beast", and founder of the Russian Media Monitor.

Julia, let me begin with you and your reporting on what you saw on Russian television. How much of a change is this? Where these -- were some of these pundits, the people who were saying before the war started that Russia could do this in three days?

JULIA DAVIS, COLUMNIST, THE DAILY BEAST: At least one of them was. One of the experts that spoke out in favor of ending the conflict, the sooner the better. It was a radical change, either way, and they`re taking quite a risk speaking out that way.

O`DONNELL: Michael, you served as the sort of punching bag of some of these pundits on Russian television. There to give the view that they could, then, try to knock down. You could know some of them, but what can you make of what they were saying last night?

MICHAEL WASIURA, U.S. JOURNALIST: So, I was punching bag, but I also punch back, and people like me, are the people who have disappeared from his shows over the past few weeks. So, three weeks ago, I could have gone on, and said exactly what he said. I would have been yelled at for it. But, I would have been able to say it.

The fact that it is a big deal, that someone can say it for 30 seconds on Russian TV now, shows just how much things have changed. They are nervous about controlling this message. And so, they are really claiming down on anybody, saying anything that doesn`t fit the party line.

O`DONNELL: And, Molly, what are you finding? You just left Moscow recently. I`m sorry, yeah, you are in Moscow, journalistic program, working in Moscow, just getting started, had your hopes to spending a year there, had to leave very quickly.

What are you hearing about what is happening now, with the control of information there?

MOLLY SCHWARTZ, MOTHER JONES CONTRIBUTOR: So, it has been interesting, because at first, when things broke out, there was a fairly free flow of information. Obviously, there was a Russian state control over things like television channels, but recently, I had people and messaging me on Instagram, who I know who are opposed to the war efforts, who are seeing me posting like "The New York Times" reporting on the bombing of the maternity hospital in Mariupol. They are just saying, I heard this was fake news.

And I think that the landscape has absolutely changed. You`re seeing more independent news outlets like Echo Moscow is being shut down, and you can see other independent news stations pulling the reporters out of Russia, and it`s becoming harder, and harder, to get good information about the conflict in Ukraine right now.

O`DONNELL: And, Molly, what did you find about how the protests are organized, or whether they are generated spontaneously, now that there isn`t a real leadership structure for protests?

SCHWARTZ: Yeah, both protesters I talked to, and people who were involved in helping those protesters once they had been detained, are now saying that what is happening is unique. I think some people would be surprised to hear, at these are some of the most arrests, indicating that these are some of the biggest protests that have happened in Russia, because, if you see the images, they don`t look nearly as large as the protests for Navalny about a year ago, or the protest in Bolotnaya Square in 2011.

These are spontaneous. These are decentralized. These are being organized against television channels, and people having to come up with techniques are being able to evade the crackdown on the right to assembly in Russia.

O`DONNELL: Michael, what will you make of those Russian pundits who were saying, last night, the fact that they weren`t -- it doesn`t sound like they were doing the cheerleading in the way that Vladimir Putin would want?

WASIURA: So, my expectation is those pundits who were not doing the cheerleading the way Vladimir Putin would want will not be invited back on the shows. Like I said, three weeks ago, I would get invitations to go on shows like that, essentially, every day. People like me have been excluded for a reason.

I see a lot of people still on the shows who I know, and I know why they are there. They have completely eliminated anyone who dissents, and I think Karen who dissented just a little bit will soon disappear from TV screens in Russia.

O`DONNELL: And, Julia, what are you -- what is your assessment of where the propaganda wall is now? Is it stronger than it was before the war started in Ukraine? Are the cracks in it? What is happening to it?

DAVIS: The propaganda wall is higher than ever. But, I think, it will cause the opposite effect because people will start to wonder why things have changed so drastically. Not only in the terms of economic downfall that Russia is facing, but, also why, all of a sudden, all of these alternative sources are not available.


And having grown up in the Soviet Union, I know things like that made us wonder more about what they were hiding. So, I think that will be the actual effect of what Putin will achieve, exactly the opposite from what he is trying to accomplish.

O`DONNELL: But Julia, when they wonder, when they`re getting this one note story, what can they do to find other information now?

DAVIS: They still have access to the Internet and they could do what other brave Russians are doing and that is risking their lives and their freedom to protest and with time, there will be more of them to make a difference.

And for now, they still have a way to find that information and there are outlets that are continuing to broadcast in Russian in spite of facing fines, penalties, and bans. And I think it will make a paramount difference.

O`DONNELL: Molly, what did you discover in your reporting about how people are communicating and how they are getting information despite the propaganda war?

MOLLY SCHWARTZ,CONTRIBUTOR, MOTHER JONES: People are very active on Telegram channels. They are sharing news with each other. A lot of times, they will start up a private channel so that it doesn`t get subject to censorship. And then if that one is infiltrated by the authorities, they will shut that one down and start a new one.

This is a very spontaneous and kind of happening person to person. And people are still also using VPNs even though there have been attempts to shut those down some are still working. So people will use VPNs to access things like Twitter and Facebook that authorities have restricted access to.

O`DONNELL: Michael, we saw President Zelenskyy today, once, again in a statement do it twice. The second version was is Russian, and he was directing it directly to Russian troops and the Russian people about these attacks on hospitals for, example. How much of that will get through?

MICHAEL WASIURA, U.S. JOURNALIST WHO WAS A RUSSIAN TV PUNDIT: A very minimal amount. The people who Molly is describing, who are following Telegram and who are following alternative sources using a VPN, they will see it. The problem is they are a small minority.

Some of them will go out on the streets, it won`t be enough. Some of them will emigrate, it will be detrimental to the Russian economy. But this situation in which the Kremlin essentially completely controls propaganda, essentially completely controls information, can continue for years.

I agree that it is an unstable system. Up until now, they at least had the illusion of free speech. That illusion is gone. But they can maintain this for longer than you would expect they will be able to.

O`DONNELL: Julia Davis, what about word of mouth? What about the person who is, you know, using the sources that Molly talks about but then tells other people, who don`t have access to that, that must be a difficult discussion because it would be kind of hard to prove to that person that President Zelenskyy said this, or, you know, what the real truth is.

DAVIS: It is very difficult. But I think that when they realize the magnitude of what has changed in their society and in their life, they will realize that that comports with the magnitude of what Putin has done. And they are on a sinking ship with him.

And I believe that it`s only a matter of time before they start understanding that the propaganda is only that and start realizing the reality -- the ugly reality of Putin`s war in Ukraine. Interpersonal communication will mean a lot especially since Russia and Ukraine have so many links and they will breakthrough.

O`DONNELL: We reported last night, in Russia they`re 11 million people with relatives in Ukraine. And those are the phone calls that we are also hoping to be one way that breaks through.

Julia Davis, Michael Wasiura, Molly Schwartz -- thank you all very much for joining us tonight.

WASIURA: Thank you.

DAVIS: Thank you.

SCHWARTZ: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

Coming up, Vladimir Putin is now talking about seizing the Russian assets of American companies while Russian-owned super yachts are being very visibly seized. Brian Klaas will join us along with a former CIA officer who is hunting Russian yachts online. That is next.



O`DONNELL: We have breaking news from Washington. The Senate has just passed a 1.5 trillion dollar government funding package. That package contains nearly $4 billion dollars dedicated to humanitarian and military aid for Ukraine which is almost triple Ukraine`s annual defense budget of $5 billion. The Senate vote was 68 in favor and 31 opposed to that package.

Yesterday, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said, "The United States definitely has declared economic war against Russia and is waging this war." White House deputy national security adviser said, "I wouldn`t call it an economic war. This is our way of demonstrating resolve."


That resolve includes some specific targets, the Russian billionaires who have been specifically named in these sanctions list issued by the United States and other countries. The British foreign secretary says that seven Russian billionaires quote, "will have their assets in the U.K. frozen. They are banned from traveling here. And no U.K. citizen or company may do business with them.

The most visible effect of the sanctions are the pictures of Russian-owned super yachts tied up to docks that they were trying to escape from before European governments locked them in place.

Former CIA officer Alex Finley is maintaining a yacht watch on Twitter. For example, earlier this morning, she issued this heads up about Roman Abramovich`s yacht. "By the way, Solaris is currently rounding Sicily. If she is within 12 miles of shore, the Italians could still act."

Joining us now, Alex Finley, she`s a former CIA officer of the director of operations where she served in West Africa and Europe. She has been tracking and researching Russian billionaires and their yachts in Barcelona for a forthcoming book and the third in a satirical series about a CIA operative.

And Brian Klaas, associate professor in global politics at University College London. He is the author of the book, "Corruptible: who gets power and how it changes us".

Alex, let`s begin with the yacht watch which is the most visible. You are in Barcelona which is the world headquarters for many of these yachts that go there to get repaired. How many do they have so far? And they are -- at this point frozen in place, the governments haven`t completely seized them and taken ownership of them yet.

ALEX FINLEY, FORMER CIA OFFICER: Right. So at this point, we still only have four yachts in Europe that have been frozen, as you said. It`s not like the government has been able to seize them and take control of them.

So we have Dilbar (ph) in Hamburg, which belongs to Alisher Usmanov. The Germans took that one over a week ago I believe now. But there are still some questions about the state of it. Is it frozen, is it free to go or not. For right now it looks like it`s not going anywhere and the crew has been dismissed.

The French authorities (INAUDIBLE) they took another one, Amore Vero. And the Italians seized two others, Lena and Lady M. But again, the actual state of these yachts is unclear.

A number of people are trying to -- lawyers are getting involved and saying, well we can`t guarantee -- we are telling you that these are not the owners that you think that they are. Therefore the yachts should be allowed to leave.

O`DONNELL: Well, that`s going to take an awful lot of legal process to make those cases.

And Brian Klaas, this is the kind of thing that could be tied up in courts around the world for years. Meanwhile, those yachts are wasting away at those docks because they need more maintenance than an infant baby.

What are the things we are seeing in what Russia is calling an economic war that are the most important elements from your perspective?

BRIAN KLAAS, UNIVERSITY COLLEGE LONDON: So the main goal here has to be to make the lives of Russian oligarchs more Russian, to put pressure on Putin. They all have exit options. So they sail the yachts around the Mediterranean, they send their kids to elite schools in Britain, the United States, etc. They have their dirty cash slush around offshore banks, and they buy up property in places like London with shell companies.

And so what we need to do is to make sure their lives are significantly more entwined with the Russian economy. We need to make them care about traffic in St. Petersburg in Moscow. We need to make them care about life in Russia.

And the more that we do that, the more that we constrict the world to Russia, the more that they are going to press Putin to end this war.

And so I think the key to ending Putin`s regime is to make sure the oligarchs understand that the only way they can get back to any sort of normalcy, which I hope never happens, by the way, because we have to crack down on this money laundering for good, is to end the Putin regime and to end the war.

But that`s the major pressure point is to make it so these oligarchs have a significantly more Russian life and a significantly less international one where they`re free to roam around the world with ill-gotten gains.

O`DONNELL: And Alex, this is putting pressure on these oligarchs, these billionaires in a way that they have never experienced it before.

They don`t have any Russian indicators on their yachts. That`s not the place where they want anyone to know that there is anything Russians about those boats.

FINLEY: Right. Most of these boats, as you said, they`re not flagged in Russia. Most of them are flagged in the Marshall Islands or the Cayman Islands. And again, the ownership structures are opaque.


So it`s an offshore company usually that`s listed as the management company, and that has to be untangled from several other shell companies, going back before you actually can find the beneficial owner.

These guys have gone out of their way to make sure that you cannot figure out that they are the actual owners.

O`DONNELL: Brian, what is your interpretation of Vladimir Putin`s threat tonight to nationalize the assets of foreign companies that have suspended operations in Russia?

KLAAS: My interpretation is that this is going to escalate, and that we can either decide to have a sort of slow-moving dissociation from Russia, or to rip the band-aid off.

And I think what has become clear is that this is a rogue state, that doesn`t respect any sort of international norms. And the more that we decide to sort of go in this tit-for-tat, rather than actually cracking down on money laundering, cracking down on the oligarchs in a serious and lasting way, and ultimately, isolating the Russian economy, not just for a slap on the wrist for a short period, but actually changing how geopolitics and economic -- international economics works for years.

You know, that is the goal here. And I think Vladimir Putin holds some leverage over us because of oil and gas, and things like that. And we have to decide, do we want to be in a situation where that is still true in five years time?

So yes, there could be some economic damage that Putin can inflict back on us, but I think we have to make a decision as a society, whether we want to stand with democracies or autocracies, and whether we want to have a murderous tyrant and war criminal have leverage over our economies going forward.

So, you know, the threat is real, and there may be some economic blow back, but I think that`s a price that we should all be willing to pay to ultimately save ourselves in the long run, a serious level of headaches, economic costs and more war in the future.

O`DONNELL: Brian Klaas and Alex Finley, thank you both very much for joining our discussion tonight.

FINLEY: Thank you.

KLAAS: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: And coming up we go back to Kyiv for a live report from a Ukrainian radio reporter. The last time he joined us he had to join us from his bathroom because that was the only place with no windows where he could feel safe.

We`ll be right back.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: War. The are bombing us. We tried withstanding as long as we could. This granny is almost 93. I`m trying to move her away. She already survived one war. Where shall we go?


O`DONNELL: That woman along with 3,000 people have evacuated Irpin, a city on the northwest edge of Kyiv. Those who remain are surviving in large part without food, water, or heat.

Tonight Russian tanks are approximately ten miles away to the northwest of Kyiv`s city center.

And joining us now is Andriy Kulykov, a Ukrainian radio reporter in Kyiv, joining us tonight from his kitchen. Andriy, what is the -- what is the situation there? And how have things changed in the last days?

ANDRIY KULYKOV, UKRAINIAN RADIO REPORTER: Well, yesterday, we`ve had the first incursion of Russian troops in the northeast of the city. Before, you were right in saying that they were in the northwest and they still are there.

Ukrainian troops are (INAUDIBLE) but we think that the approach starts from the northeast who may of course, testify to the fact that they are trying to encircle this. That`s the first change.

The second is that there are much less civilians on the streets of Kyiv, and many more military people, then there are different things about shellings and bombings.

From time to time, they sort of changed the location in Kyiv where they raise their strikes. And in my vicinity for the last three or four days, it was very calm. Previously we were more or less not the epicenter but next to the epicenter where they bombed.

Now, they shifted their attention to some other parts of the city. Where we are living, we are resisting, and we are eagerly expecting talking to the American public programs like yours.

O`DONNELL: How are you doing your job as a radio reporter?

KULYKOV: Well, I broadcast from my kitchen. I have a makeshift studio here, which has an advantage that I may sometimes even sip coffee during my broadcast, but the broadcast usually lasts for three hours, sometimes two, depending on my colleagues` willingness to take part. And they are willing to take part.

And there will be some very inspiring stories. For instance yesterday, you talk about Irpin from where people were evacuating. Next to Irpin there is a smaller town (INAUDIBLE) but it`s basically the same agglomeration.

So yesterday, approximately ten hours ago, I was informed by a mutual friend that a colleague of mine after seven days in his cellar with his family without food or water or means of communication got away in his own car and they went to the south of Kyiv.

And when he emerged from the cellar, part of his directions, he took from our reporting. I called him as soon as I could, and he confirmed this. And I know of such cases.


So as long as there are such cases, we stay in our position. Some people like me in the kitchen, some in the corridor, in different places all over Ukraine. We know that we are needed by the people now.

Andriy Kulykov, thank you for doing the work you do. We all admire your bravery. And thank you very much for joining us tonight. Please stay safe.

KULYKOV: Maybe without you, this bravery would be lower, but your attention does matter. I don`t say it is the main thing, but it does matter. Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Thank you very much.

Tonight`s LAST WORD is next.


O`DONNELL: Tonight speaking at a DNC meeting, President Biden said this --



JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Putin was counting on a divided NATO, a divided west, and quite frankly, a divided America. But he got none of that.

In fact, he is now facing a more united, energized, resolute NATO in the west than he ever, ever imagined.


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