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

Transcripts: The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, 3/9/22

Guests: Alexander Vindman, Misha Katsurin, Timothy Snyder, Lawrence Summers


MSNBC`s continuing live coverage of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. There are 11 million people in Russia who have relatives in Ukraine. Misha Katsurin hopes those people in Russia should get phone calls every day telling them the truth until they understand the truth.


LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Ali, and thank you for another very compelling hour, your interview with the former ambassador. But so importantly, your amazing relationships with these people who are you are finding and talking to, these refugees on their way through, I know what you are putting into this work, Ali, and we all really appreciate it.

ALI VELSH, MSNBC HOST: Thank you, Lawrence. Enjoy your show.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

Well, there are thousands, perhaps millions of conversations going on in Ukraine tonight, that are more difficult than any version of the American problem of how do you talk to relatives who disagree with politically at Thanksgiving dinner. Imagine being on the phone in Ukraine while you are under attack, your country is under attack from Russia, and your father on the other end of the phone in Russia does not believe you. Your father believes Vladimir Putin and does not believe that you are being attacked. He does not believe that your wife and children had to flee the country for the safety of Hungary.

Imagine what it feels like to be on the Ukraine end of that phone call and hearing from your father`s own mouth how Vladimir Putin`s propaganda is working?

There are 11 million people in Ukraine with relatives in Russia and they are all having or trying to have a version of that phone call. One of them will join us tonight.

Here he is, in a photograph with his father, his father who does not believe him and here is Misha Katsurin with his wife and children just before his wife and children fled to Hungary. Misha`s father is not worried about his eight month old grandson, because Vladimir Putin has told him that there is nothing to worry about. Imagine how you would feel hearing that from your father.

Misha was so angry during the first phone call that he hung up. He gave up on this father. But now, he has a plan. He has a plan for 11 million people in Ukraine to breakthrough Vladimir Putin`s iron curtain of propaganda. Misha Katsurin will join us later in this hour.

We begin now with the latest on the war front. Like animals -- that`s how Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says his people are being treated by the Russian military.


VOLODYMR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT: They want us to feel like animals because they blocked our cities, the biggest cities in Ukraine. They have blocked and -- because they don`t want our people to get food, water. You can feel it only when you are here, because the people from Europe or USA - - it`s far from Ukraine, it`s far from the heart of the tragedy. And you can`t understand the details, because you are not fighting here.


O`DONNELL: Today, Russian air strikes destroyed a children`s hospital and maternity ward in the city of Mariupol. Let me say that again as you look at this video.

Vladimir Putin`s invasion force actually attacked a children`s hospital. There is a pregnant woman they are being carried away from the maternity ward. They destroyed -- they destroyed the maternity ward.

Leading off of our coverage tonight is NBC News correspondent Cal Perry in Lviv, Ukraine.

Cal, what is the update? What -- 17 people were injured in that attack we know earlier today. I`ve been trying to find out, have babies been born since that attack? What do we know?

CAL PERRY, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: You know, we don`t know, because so many people immediately scattered and fled the scene. What we do know about Mariupol is that it is quote, hell on earth. I`ve said that a lot this week, but I have some more details on it. At least 1,200 civilians have died in the siege of that city, not the bombing, the siege of that city, at least 1,200.

Though, the deputy mayor thinks it`s three times that number in reality. We heard yesterday that a mass grave was dug, a trench, in that city, and more than people were put into that mask right because there is not an option anymore for funerals. People cannot get above ground for a long enough to have a funeral. And morgues are now overwhelmed in that place, which, again, is under the 24 hours a day siege being either indiscriminately shelled or purposely targeted.


This is one now of 60, 6-0, hospitals that have either been hit or taken off line, that, is taken their power out across the country since this war began. The other situation in another city that is horrendous is in Kharkiv, and we`ve been talking about this for a week. Day seven now of the siege there and we understand from officials, there are bodies in the streets that cannot be cleared because the shelling is so intense.

As to now closer to the capital of Kyiv, the outskirts of that city now are coming under increasing fire, and my colleague, Richard Engel, reporting that civilians are afraid now to leave that city, that they`re being shot at as they try to get out of these areas that the Russian troops are targeting on the ground. So, they are being moving into interior areas of these cities, where there, of course, now, just more vulnerable to the bombing.

Add to that, and this is important in the part of the country where I am in the West, you have these reports that Chernobyl has been cut off from the IAEA`s measurement system and they can no longer read the measurements coming from Chernobyl, or for that matter, in the Zaporizhzhia power plant which we saw that fierce fighting last week.

The White House today also saying we need to watch out for a false flag attack that could involve chemical weapons. All of this is incredibly unnerving for a population that either finds itself underground, hiding from shelling or, where I am, in a place where the human traffic has become overwhelming.

This population of the city, normally 700, 000, is now closer to 1 million. After we spoke yesterday, the mayor saying publicly that they can now no longer handle the influx of people. The border is now a choke point with Poland. Some people are leaving their cars and walking for miles.

So, this really has now, this city of Lviv become a last stop in a place where people are becoming stranded and as the weather gets colder, the situation is only getting worse. And a humanitarian catastrophe is continuing, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Cal, I want to ask you about something we may discuss later in the hour. And that is, have you been talking to people in Ukraine who have been calling their relatives or their friends in Russia, who do not believe what they are telling them is happening in Ukraine?

PERRY: Yes, I have spoken to at least one person who had that experience of trying to convince folks in Russia that what was happening here was real. Russia state television is obviously telling their side of the story. Ukrainian television is telling their side. And both are mirroring each other.

I mean, we spoke about this before. You have this POW situation here on the ground in Ukraine, with these young Russian pilots are being paraded by the Ukrainian forces to try to bolster what is happening here.

And listen, the stuff about the power plants, and the stuff about the chemical weapons, all of this is either disinformation, misinformation or a potential catastrophe. Either way, it is forcing people out of this country.

So, we heard two days ago the Russians say -- the ministry of foreign affairs and Russia -- say that Ukraine is going to carry out a chemical attack and we are going to have to go in and we`re going to save people. Just the word chemical attack gets people out of this country. It works in favor of the Russians.

So, the information war is a very real thing and it is costing lives, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Cal Perry, thank you so much for your reporting tonight. Really appreciate it.

And joining our discussion now is former Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, who served as director of European Affairs at the National Security Council during the Trump administration.

Colonel Vindman, thank you for joining us again tonight.

I want to get to this targeting of a children`s hospital. In war there are targeting errors, it happens. Hospitals get hit, it happens. But when it happens, responsible parties come out and immediately say that we missed targeted, that that was a mistake, it was a targeting error. They immediately account for it when these things have been.

We have heard nothing from Russia. And when you don`t come out and say, that was a targeting error, after you`ve hit a hospital, there -- you have a right to wonder and believe that it was a deliberate target, what is your assessment of this kind of targeting by the Russians?

LT. COL. ALEXANDER VINDMAN (RET.), U.S. ARMY: Russia does not get the benefit of the doubt. Russia is engaged in this kind of warfare repeatedly, whether that is razing the city of Grozny in the Chechen war, or in Syria, actively targeting hospital, to break the will and the morale to resist. It has been known to strike mosques. They`ve been known to strike hospitals and schools.

These things are not out of balance. It`s actually been part of the targeting cycle for Russia. So, in this case, the Russians have been indiscriminate in general. But we have to assume that this is part of the Russian effort to demoralize the people of Mariupol that are providing fierce resistance, and they don`t care who the casualties are.


Frankly, in a way, part of the Russian doctrine is this idea that they must work quickly, through any means, even destroying morale targets. That`s when I called it when I forecast this war, as tragic as it`s playing out, as barbaric as it is playing out, that the Russians would go after morale targets to punish the population. And there is a humane element to it because it prolongs suffering.

But this is also part of an information war. And Russia is on the losing end of this, because already, a demand for European and American populations to do more. That demand is, in a lot of ways, being resisted by the U.S. government, that believes there is too much risk involved. But in fact there is a lot of appetite and there is a lot of room to take further action against Russia, beyond the economic sanctions that have been discussed in terms to support Ukraine.

We may very well find ourselves in a situation where the demands from the population are so high that the U.S. government has no choice but to respond in a more significant manner, that maybe the form of securing humanitarian corridors. But that`s not what we are headed into right now.

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what Edward Kirby, the Pentagon spokesperson, said today about this question of sending jets to Ukraine for their use. Let`s listen to this.


JOHN KIRBY, PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: We assess that adding aircraft to the Ukraine inventory is not likely to significantly change the effectiveness of the Ukrainian air force, relative to Russian capabilities. Therefore, we believe that the gain from transferring those MiG-29s is low. And, finally, the intelligence committee has assessed that the transfer of MiG-29s to Ukraine may be mistaken as escalatory, and could result in significant Russian reaction that might increase the prospects of a military escalation with NATO.


O`DONNELL: So, some are making the point that the Ukrainian pilots are not flying now with the aircraft that they already have. And so, jets don`t appear to be what they need at this point.

VINDMAN: That`s not true. Frankly, I disagree with that assessment.

I think that we have to understand that one of the reasons that Ukrainians are not flying is because they do not have that many planes. And they cannot afford to lose them and they have to save some of their air power for a crisis situation, let`s say, around Kyiv. Those jets will be meaningful as well as other kinds of support that could provide, with regards to unmanned aerial vehicles, intermediate range air defense.

What I fear when I hear those kinds of statements and that kind of smoke and mirrors analysis -- because I think that that is in fact cherry- picking. I know that there are divergent views within the intelligence community and plenty of people think that this would not be escalatory, within the bounds the U.S. has conducted proxy your warfare, that is some cherry-picking of intelligence right there, intelligence assessments.

That sounds like a harsh judgment but I have seen how things work. What scares me about this is it suggests that we may have reached the limit of what we are willing to do at this moment, which is provide these short range anti-tank systems, highly effective Javelins, and short range air defense Stingers, that that is all we are prepared to do at the moment. That scares me because we are going to see a lot more of these kinds of barbaric actions targeting hospitals, targeting newborn -- I`m sorry, the name escapes me, hospitals and schools and so forth.

And we are not going to react. If this was any other country that was doing a bit of saber-rattling, that was somehow indicating that we were heading towards a nuclear war, we would`ve taken action a long time ago.

O`DONNELL: Colonel, colonel we are running out of time -- a couple of points, though. First of all, there are many countries in the world we have never considered one minute of intervention. We saw suffering in the Ethiopian civil war, within the last year, it wasn`t even televised, it wasn`t even brought to American audiences. So, what we are seeing now is the most the U.S. has ever done in supporting for a country that has been invaded, short of war.

And the other point that you said -- he said it does not seem escalatory to you. It also does not seem escalatory to Admiral Kirby, he made that clear. The point is, would it be seen as escalatory -- the jets -- would that be seen as escalatory by Vladimir Putin?


And so, what they are doing is trying to deal with an anticipation of Vladimir Putin. Do you have confidence in your anticipation that Vladimir Putin would not see the transfer of those jets as escalatory and a reason for him to escalate to something worse, including, possibly, tactical nuclear weapons? The kind that the United States does not have and cannot deploy in that situation?

VINDMAN: So, Putin is not a mad man, he understands the doctrine of mutually mutual destruction. In my firsthand experience, watching this unfold on a battlefield in Syria, when Russian forces, mercenary supported by the Russian military attacked U.S. personnel in Syria, the Russians didn`t respond. When U.S. was compelled to strike air bases occupied by Russian personnel, I could hear the pleating from the Russian general staff to make sure that Russian soldiers were not targeted, so Russia wouldn`t be in position to respond.

I have very good confidence, based on my experience, that the Russians are not going to try to invoke or escalate to a direct confrontation when they are already bogged down in Ukraine. That is a huge leap between us supporting Ukraine with --

O`DONNELL: Colonel, are you confident that Vladimir Putin would not escalate to the use of tactical nuclear weapons within Ukraine, and wipeout Ukraine beyond recognition, in response to any escalation by the United States?

VINDMAN: That is a difficult question to answer, because there is no nuclear response from Ukraine. The presence that is set for a country that he believes basically one of the same as those people, that`s one of the causes for the war, he`s trying to deliberate people, to then conducted nuclear strike on them, that is not something that he`s able to walk away from.

And also, he`s not the only one -- yes, he`s the ultimate decision-maker. But there are plenty of Russian military officers in that chain that our understanding how this can unfold, or the risks this can bring. There is no such thing as a tactical deployment of a nuclear weapon. The Russians understand that. It`s automatically a strategic capability.

O`DONNELL: They do -- Russia does have technical nuclear weapons, that they can use in Ukraine, the whose effects will be felt in the Ukraine, they can do that, that is the fear that exist within the Biden administration and the decision-makers.

Do you agree that that is something that they should be concerned about, and consider, or do you think they should be just confidence in a predictive reading of Vladimir Putin`s behavior, like the predictive reading that you`re making?

VINDMAN: We can`t -- I mean, we should absolutely not be dismissive of nuclear saber-rattling and the risk of escalation. What we can do is we can make risk-informed decisions, well-thought out, well-considered decisions and the consequences of those decisions informed by what we understand, and have high confidence on in regard to Russian actions. We have to remember that in the past, we played out these scenarios consistently.

We have generations of experience fighting proxy warfare in a limited manner. But we always go to the worst-case scenario of nuclear escalation, that has misplaced fear, that obstructs our ability to act, and support our interest and values.

O`DONNELL: Colonel, I would suggest that none of the pre-existing models of any confrontation, potential confrontation between the United States and Russia, none of them fit the current model. This is the most extreme with this kind of situation has reached since 1960, to since the Cuban missile crisis.

VINDMAN: I would say that we`ve played proxy warfare with the Russians, who are operating in manning aircraft against our forces in North Korea. They were the ones who are not off her place in Vietnam, including likely Senator McCain`s plane. I`ve heard Russian air defense troops --

O`DONNELL: Colonel, this is not a proxy war by Russia. This is a war by Russia against another country. This is not proxy, this is not them using another country`s battlefield, and supporting another country, that`s proxy, when you`re supporting another country. This is direct. And there is no previous model that fits this particular confrontation.

We did not confront the Russians in Afghanistan. We are doing in Ukraine, what we did in Afghanistan. The Russians confronted Afghanistan. We did not dare confront the Russians in Afghanistan.

VINDMAN: We are saying the same thing, frankly, because what we`re talking about is the Ukrainians, with the material to fight it. I`ve never advocated for U.S. forces on the ground, or in the air. That`s never been part of the discussion.

When I`m saying is, we need to put the Ukrainians to be able to effectively fight on their own, they`ve actually proving themselves, and shows in the 42 in. They just need to be equipped. Just like we`re about Russian forces in Afghanistan, we support the mujahidin in the same exact way. That`s what we`re talking about. We`re not talking about direct involvement.

O`DONNELL: Yes, that would be the same thing.

Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, thank you very much for joining us tonight. Really appreciate it.

VINDMAN: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

And next, we will be joined by Misha Katsurin, who will tell us what it`s like to be under attack in Ukraine, with his father, on the phone, in Russia, telling him that that is not happening. His father told him that what he has seen in Ukraine, with his own eyes, did not happen, because his father is stuck in the Putin propaganda zone in Russia. Misha Katsurin will join us next, with his plan to break through the Putin propaganda wall.



O`DONNELL: Misha Katsurin, who owns a restaurant in Kyiv, was surprised that his father didn`t call after the war started in the Ukraine to make sure that he was okay. Misha Katsurin closed his restaurant, got his wife and two children safely to Hungary. Then he relocated to a safer city west of Kyiv, after some time went by, still, his father had not called to check on him.

And so, he called thought other, who lives in Russia, and he discovered that his father had no idea that Vladimir Putin was waging war on Ukraine. The first phone call did not go well. Misha ended up angrily hanging up on his father, giving up.

Then he decided he could not afford to keep give up, he had to keep calling, he had to keep telling the truth. There are 11 million people in Russia who have relatives in the Ukraine, and Misha is hoping that those 11 million people in Russia get phone calls every day, telling them the truth until they understand the truth.

Misha has lodged a website, which in English means "Papa, believe". The website describes how to speak the truth to Russians in a way that they might eventually understand. Misha Katsurin says, with 11 million people, everything can happen.

And joining us now is Misha Katsurin. He`s a restaurateur who lives in Ukraine -- he does have family in Russia.

Thank you very much for joining us tonight. We really appreciate it.

Tell us what it was like when you first spoke to your father.

MISHA KATSURIN, UKRAINIAN RESTAURATUER: That`s totally mind-blowing because he`s a close person to me. He`s my father, I`m a son. When you call your father, you expect him to believe what you are saying, especially if you are saying what you perceive with your own eyes.

So, I know quite a lot about Russian propaganda. I caught him because if he doesn`t call me, he probably doesn`t know what`s going on. So, it wasn`t a big surprise, the big surprise was that he started to argue.

I told him, Father, Russia started bombing us. It invades Ukraine. And now, I`m trying to save my little son, and my little daughter, and to escape from the bombs. He said, no, no, no, he starts arguing that in reality rationale is saving you from a Nazi regime, and we don`t have a Nazi regime.

He said a most interesting thing, that the Russian soldiers now are giving us food and warm clothing to Ukrainian people.

So you all saw the video. How they are given warm clothing and food to the Ukrainian people.

So after five minutes of trying to explain to him what is going on I say just, father, goodbye. That is the first call.

O`DONNELL: And he felt angry after that first call, but then you decided you had to keep calling, and you started this website to encourage people to keep calling. How is it going with your father now? Have you been able to get him on the phone again?

KATSURIN: It was almost like this, because after this call, I made the Instagram post with a story that my father does not believe me. This post became viral. It was more than 135,000 shares. Thousands and thousands of people started to comment that I got the same with my mother, I`ve got the same problem with my uncle, I`ve got the same problem with my sister, they don`t believe me. I don`t have a mother, I don`t have sister.


I realize that the problem is very widespread, that it`s huge, and I started to dig deep and -- 11 million people. Then I understood that the easiest thing is to say, okay, I don`t have a father, because, of course, you feel super angry, and super embarrassed about this, and that`s the easiest.

But I cannot blame my father in this situation. He is also victim. The same victim but he`s another type of victim. Like for 20 years, Russian propaganda told him that this tree is red, and then I call him and I said no father, this tree is green. And he just cannot believe me. He wants to believe me, he cannot.

That`s why I decided to make this Web site with my colleagues. And to call him again. And to start working on this topic and so I started this Web site, and I called him again and I made a record of my call.

So I understand, and on this Web site, I offer people to call their relatives and to become -- not to become angry, not to scream, not to shout. Because that is really hard to keep you in the hands (ph)--


O`DONNELL: So -- and Misha, what does your father think now? Is he changing his mind at all?

KATSURIN: A little bit. So after the second call everything became a little bit better. I already could answer several questions for him, about Nazis regime, and each day I send him some screen shots of my messages with my mother. She told me her stories in my native city Berdyansk about that people are dying, that like they are shooting into civilians.

And already, my father understands that it`s a war. That`s not a special operation. So each day I try to do a small step for him to understand what is going on. And it becomes better.

I think it`s a long way because I cannot change the situation in one or five calls because for 20 years, professional propagandists like worked on him and then other Russian citizens. But I need to do it.

O`DONNELL: Well, I would think every grandfather is worried about his grandchildren. Is he worried about his grandchildren who are now in Hungary? Your kids, who are now in Hungary?

KATSURIN: Of course, of course. Like he loves me, he loves my children. He loves my family. And he is really worrying about what is going on. He just cannot believe in this.

In his reality, it`s super strange. And now he is just starting to believe in what is going on. Yes, of course. He always asks how is Sasha, how Laina (ph), how are my children, how am I doing. So, yes, of course.

O`DONNELL: Misha Katsurin, thank you very much for joining us tonight. This is so important for us to hear. It helps us understand. And please come back, we want to hear more about your conversations with your father and how they`re going next week and the week after that.

We really appreciate it. Thank you very much.

KATSURIN: And you know, Lawrence, I understand, Lawrence that we need to talk to our relatives and they have to know the truth.

But I have something to say not only to my dad but also to the people of the world. (INAUDIBLE) Ukraine resists like the modern Adolf Hitler who openly threatens the world with a nuclear bomb. But Russia is huge and they can act war for ages and we cannot resist them for ages. So, they will kill us and they will continue.

So, NATO, close the sky. Save these brave people and their democracy and the future of the world, please.

O`DONNELL: Misha Katsurin, your message is getting through. Thank you very much for joining us tonight.

KATSURIN: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

And coming up, Professor Tim Snyder will join us next to explain why Vladimir Putin`s propaganda depends on the idea that Nazis have taken over Ukraine.



O`DONNELL: As you just heard from our last guest in Ukraine, Vladimir Putin`s propaganda war on the minds of Russian citizens is working.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Putin couldn`t do this. Invade Ukraine? Why? There are our people living there in Ukraine, in Belarus.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But it has happened.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don`t know. It`s not what they`re saying on the news. I didn`t hear that Putin sent troops to start a war. It`s all on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and the Americans.


O`DONNELL: Vladimir Putin has told the Russian people that Russian troops have gone to Ukraine for the noble quest of the denazification of the Ukrainian government.

Our next guest points out that Vladimir Putin is following the rhetorical model of Adolf Hitler, when the Nazis began marching across European borders and began seizing territory.

Timothy Snyder writes "Putin is plagiarizing the worst speeches of the period. The point in Kremlin propaganda today is that only others commit crimes and that Russians always have the right to judge them.


O`DONNELL: Killing a Jewish president and destroying Ukrainian democracy in the name of denazification would show that words mean whatever the leader says they mean. The moral language of World War II is being claimed for the revival of totalitarianism.

And joining us now is Timothy Snyder, professor of history at Yale University. He is the author of "The Road to Unfreedom: Russia, Europe, America". Thank you very much for joining us again tonight.

And I just want to make a point to the audience about how important this Nazi imagery is in Vladimir Putin`s propaganda.

TIMOTHY SNYDER, YALE UNIVERSITY: Well, it is pretty much all he has got. They have given up on talking about NATO. Demilitarization doesn`t really get anybody very emotionally involved. So, the third -- the third -- the third end, you know, the Nazi part is really all that`s left.

It -- as we`ve seen before in the prior segment -- referring to Nazis is a trigger for the Russian population. By now, Nazism or fascism just means the enemy, the people who are on the other side. That`s how people have been conditioned to think about it.

But when he uses these words, he is bringing us into a kind of world of nonsense. Because it`s not just that it is factually wrong. I mean as the previous guest -- you know, as Misha was trying to say the obvious thing. Ukraine is a democracy. It`s got president with moderate views who happens to be Jewish who was elected in a free and fair elections.

But it`s not just that it is nonsense. It`s that it`s intentionally absurd. They are trying to get us into a debate about something which they know is completely ridiculous. They`re trying to take these words, you know, like genocide or Nazis and make them mean whatever they want. They can mean the opposite of what they actually mean.

And so in a deep sense, this war is taking place not just on territory, as we see on the screen, it is also taking place in our minds because we need those words, we need those concepts. We need to be able to define what actually happened in Second World War and learn lessons from it. And that, in a pretty deep sense, is what Putin is taking away from people.

O`DONNELL: And is Putin portraying this as the final chapter of World War II? Is the linkage that direct? Because, of course, the Nazis killed more Russians than any other army that they faced. The Russian losses in World War II were greater than any other army. And so, that pain is still very clear in Russia.

SNYDER: Just to put that in perspective, in terms of populations and proportions, the people who suffered the most on the eastern front in order were the Jews and then the Belarusians (ph) and then the Ukrainians, and then the Poles and Russians came next. I don`t say that to minimize Russian suffering --

O`DONNELL: I meant -- Professor, I meant it only in terms of military forces. I was not considering the prisoners of war and the Nazi death camps. I was considering only military forces lost when I said that the Russians lost the most in military forces.

But thank you for that additional point.

SNYDER: But even there I would insist, Lawrence, I mean more Ukrainians died wearing the red army uniform than Americans and British and French servicemen taken together.

So it`s very important to remember that not only Russians have the right to interpret the war. But answering your question, I think what`s going on here is that we`ve reached the point where the Russian president is insisting that the Second World War means whatever he says it means.

And this is a powerful challenge to Europe. Because the Europeans, like the Americans, are trying to learn lessons from the Second World War and the Holocaust. And those lessons are about peace and economic integration and respect of borders and pluralism and things like that.

So the European Union has its own interpretation of the Second World War which is now under direct attack from the Russian president who says the real lesson of the Second World War is that Russia is always right no matter what it does.

And this for me is one reason why the European Union should be very generous towards Ukraine right now. That the way for the European Union to reaffirm and renew its commitment to its lessons of the Second World War would be to say, Ukraine, we`re going to offer you negotiations for membership because we understand the position that this rhetoric and this terrible war has put you in.

O`DONNELL: Professor Timothy Snyder, thank you very much for joining us once again tonight. Really appreciate it. Thank you.

And coming up, gas prices are up thanks to Putin`s war. And 70 percent of Americans say they are ok with doing their part in the war by paying more for gas.


O`DONNELL: And for most of them fueling their cars is still cheaper than it used to be thanks to big increases in gas mileage efficiency including cars that don`t use gas at all and the increasing purchasing power of rising incomes.

We will consider the economic front of the war in Ukraine with Harvard economics professor Lawrence Summers next.



JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Or if President Putin`s buildup of military troops is leading to volatility and an increase in oil prices, hence you have Putin gas price pump.


O`DONNELL: The President of the United States has not controlled gas prices since World War II when the Roosevelt administration controlled not only the price of gas, which was 21 cents a gallon in 1944, but also the number of gallons you could buy which was exactly four gallons per week. A 1940 chevy got 17 miles to a gallon then, so you could maybe drive 60 miles a week.


O`DONNELL: And all of those restrictions were accepted by Americans as the price of war. And that is the way most Americans feel now.

A new poll shows that 71 percent of Americans are willing to pay more for gasoline to play their part in resisting Putin`s war.

And our next guest points out that even though the price of gasoline has increased, many of you are still paying less of your income to drive your car than you have in the past.

Joining us now is Lawrence Summers, who served as treasury secretary in President Clinton`s administration and he is professor emeritus of economics at Harvard. Thank you very for joining us tonight, professor.

There are so many points to consider in the economics of gas prices today, including rising incomes, increased gas mileage, not to mention electric cars, where they are paying zero for gasoline. What is the whole picture?

LAWRENCE SUMMERS, FORMER U.S TREASURY SECRETARY: Lawrence, you get an a for that analysis. You`ve got it exactly right. When President Obama was reelected, gasoline prices measured in $20 -- $22. We`re about $4.40 -- $4.50 a gallon. And cars were about 20 percent less fuel efficient than they are right now.

So we are used to this level of burden. And it is something the economy can withstand. And frankly, what history is going to remember is, did we or did we not stand up to tyranny in this moment? Not what happened to the cpi in mid 2022.

So we need to do the right thing to stand by the Ukrainians and resist President Putin. We need generally to recognize that it is a dangerous world in ways we did not appreciate even six months ago. And whether it is energy policy, whether it is the way we invest in our technology, whether it is the planning we make for what are surely going to necessarily be greater military expenditures, we need to pivot to meeting the realities of the very challenging times in which we have seen that we live.

O`DONNELL: What is happening to purchasing power this year? We know inflation -- and you were an early warner on inflation. You gave us the early warning on it. But what is happening to purchasing power and incomes along with inflation?

SUMMERS: Wages have come down. That`s the usual experience. The usual experience is that past a certain point, when you start seeing wage increases running above 4.5 percent or 5 percent, it actually goes with decreasing real wages, decreasing purchasing power for workers.

That is why it is so unfortunate that the economy was overstimulated last year. That`s why it`s important that the Fed act strongly to bring down inflation now.

We have caught a very bad break coming on top of the seven and a half percent inflation we have, we now have extra inflationary pressure coming from oil prices and coming from wheat. And it is something we are going to need to really go after with policy.

That means strong monetary policy. And that means sensible supply side policies where the government concentrates on procuring as inexpensively as possible where we open up shipping to whoever the cheapest shipper is rather than requiring it be an American ship or carrying oil, for example, from Houston to the east coast of the United States.

That we yes, absolutely look after childcare but we focus on making sure that we`re doing as much as we can for children, not for childcare providers.

We can contain inflation. But it requires focusing on containing inflation.

O`DONNELL: Professor Lawrence Summers, thank you very much for joining us again tonight. Always appreciate it.

SUMMERS: Good to be with you, Lawrence.


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


O`DONNELL: Since Vladimir Putin`s war in Ukraine began nearly two weeks ago, Ukraine`s national anthem has been performed around the world, including by New York`s Lincoln Center by the New York Philharmonic Orchestra.

The anthem was performed in Maidan Square in Kyiv today by the Kyiv Classic Symphony Orchestra.


HERMAN MAKARENKO, KYIV CLASSIC SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA: This concert is actually of peace. More important (INAUDIBLE) of more than humanity. And this concert we would like to support our President Volodymyr Zelenskyy who called, called, and will call to all governments of the world to stop the war in Ukraine.



O`DONNELL: Ukraine`s national anthem was first set to music in 1864. It was adapted from a poem written in 1862. The anthem is not a cheery, upbeat celebration of the joys of life in Ukraine. It is not a song filled with optimism for the future.

The title is taken from a line of the poem and reflects Ukraine`s long history of suffering. The title of Ukraine`s national anthem is, "Ukraine has not yet perished".

Ukraine`s national anthem is tonight`s LAST WORD.