A rush transcript of "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" airing on Sunday, March 6, 2022 on ABC News is below. This copy may not be in its final form, may be updated and may contain minor transcription errors. For previous show transcripts, visit the "This Week" transcript archive.
ANNOUNCER: “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” starts right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC HOST (voiceover): War in Ukraine. Nearly two weeks in, Russian forces unleash a relentless assault on cities, causing massive casualties. Citizen soldiers bear arms to defend Kyiv.
DMYTRO KULEBA, MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF UKRAINE: We're in it with Ukraine, one way or another.
STEPHANOPOULOS (voiceover): A mass exodus. More than 1.5 million refugees.
URSULA VON DER LEYEN, PRESIDENT OF THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION: The number is likely to increase multiple times in the days and weeks to come.
STEPHANOPOULOS (voiceover): President Zelenskyy stands firm with a new plea to Congress.
IAN PANNELL, ABC NEWS SENIOR FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT: So how long can you hang on?
VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, PRESIDENT OF THE UKRAINE: (Speaking in Foreign Language).
PANNELL: Will you ever leave Kyiv?
STEPHANOPOULOS (voiceover): As Vladimir Putin calls the West sanctions a declaration of war.
JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We want him to feel the squeeze. We want the people around him to feel the squeeze.
STEPHANOPOULOS (voiceover): History hinging on their will and character. Profiled in my new Hulu documentary "Two Men at War."
STEPHANOPOULOS (on camera): How would you describe Vladimir Putin?
PETRO POROSHENKO, FORMER PRESIDENT OF UKRAINE: Please, don't trust Putin. We can never tell him the truth.
STEPHANOPOULOS (voiceover): The first look this morning and all the latest on the war with UN Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, Senator Marco Rubio, and the mayor of Kyiv, Vitali Klitschko, and our Powerhouse Roundtable.
ANNOUNCER: From ABC News it's "This Week." Here now George Stephanopoulos.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: Good morning and welcome to "This Week."
Nearly two weeks into the war, the Ukrainian president is rallying his people in the face of increasingly dire threats. As Russian forces continue to raise (ph) his nation, Volodymyr Zelenskyy delivered an early morning address from a secret location describing Ukraine as a superpower of spirit.
Vladimir Putin vowing to eliminate Ukraine, calling Western sanctions a declaration of war, warning the West that imposing a no-fly zone, a Zelenskyy plea rejected by President Biden, would trigger a wider war. It is already the most dangerous battle in Europe since World War II. Ukrainian cities under siege. More than 1 million refugees on the move. The capital of Kyiv surrounded by Russian forces.
Our senior foreign correspondent Ian Pannell is on the scene. Good morning, Ian.
PANNELL: Yes, good morning, George. We've just returned from the town of Irpin’, this is about 50 miles northwest of the capital where Russian forces are shelling and killing civilians who are trying to flee. And we're seeing hundreds of thousands of people across the country who have now become targets as Putin’s objectives and tactics in this war became ever clearer this week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PANNELL (voiceover): This was the week when it became clear that Putin’s war would be longer, harder, and more costly than the Kremlin may have ever imagined. What had been unthinkable 10 days ago is now happening daily, pursuing (ph) videos posted to social media by people throughout the country.
Russia is pounding cities across Ukraine as its forces slowly occupy ever more territory. With the fall of Kherson in the south, five major cities are now being gradually encircled and the Russians switching tactics. If the first phase was largely military targets, this week saw shelling of civilian sites, including residential buildings.
Using heavy artillery and missile strikes indiscriminately. Homes leveled. Government buildings shelled. Oil depots hit. A TV tower struck, and schools raised (ph) to the ground. Even Europe’s largest nuclear power plant being caught in the battle.
In much of the country, the wail of air raid sirens has become ubiquitous as many Ukrainians seek (ph) out a subterranean existence.
PANNELL (on camera): These air raids are going off around the city every half an hour, an hour or so. We're just heading down into a metro station where a lot of residents are now living and spending the night.
PANNELL (voiceover): Russia is thought to have hoped its shock and awe attack in the first days of the invasion would lead to a quick capitulation. The opposite has happened. Putin's forces have met ferocious Ukrainian resistance, inflicting painful casualties on the Russians who now admit to a rising number of war dead (ph).
Columns of Russian armor have been destroyed, others simply abandoned short of fuel and supplies. And in a sign of the slow pace of their advance, a huge Russian convoy that was bearing down on Kyiv last Sunday has barely moved since.
And President Zelenskyy perhaps more defiant than ever. Formally applying to join the European Union and telling me at a press conference a few days ago that he'll do whatever it takes to protect his people.
PANNELL: So how long can you hang on?
ZELENSKYY: (Speaking in Foreign Language).
PANNELL (voiceover): I don't know how long, he told me. It doesn’t depend on time, it depends on us (ph).
Posting videos from central Kyiv, Zelenskyy dressed in combat fatigues addressing his people in an effort to show strength and reassurance.
But Zelenskyy is angry that he won't get the no-fly zone he wants from NATO --
ZELENSKYY: (Speaking in Foreign Language).
PANNELL (voiceover): -- adding all the people who die from this day onwards will die because of you, because of your weakness.
Amid the sounds of war, Russia and Ukraine have held two rounds of ceasefire talks in Belarus this week. Russia agreeing to humanitarian corridors for two cities that it violated almost immediately. But in Moscow, Putin insisting that everything is still going to plan, despite evidence to the contrary.
Almost overnight the country has become a pariah state. Major international companies divesting. And the U.S. going after Putin’s supporters and some of Russia’s richest men, sanctioning 19 oligarchs and 47 of their closest associates and family members.
The Kremlin's response has been to plunge ever deeper into tyranny. In the past week, authorities have moved to try to snuff out what was left of Russia’s free media, imposing full military censorship, blocking Facebook, Twitter, and the BBC’s Russian Service. But this is a dangerous moment. Without a face-saving offramp, Putin may not be able to turn back and anything less than victory in Ukraine could threaten his own position.
And with more people on the move and Russian tanks advancing, this crisis, this war looks almost guaranteed to get even worse.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PANNELL (on camera): George, I’ve seen this playbook firsthand in Syria in the city of Aleppo where Putin’s forces unleashed this mass bombardment to civilian areas to drive out the population before land forces then move in to try and seize control. I think the biggest difference here though is the size and strength of the resistance. President Zelenskyy speaking again just over an hour ago asking for a no-fly zone and if that can’t be provided, asking for fighter jets. It still feels though like we're in the very early stages of this war. George?
STEPHANOPOULOS: It is brutal and we’re going to bring those questions to the UN Ambassador in just a moment.
But right now let’s bring in our military analyst, retired Colonel Steven Ganyard. Picking up on what Ian just said there, Steve, this is not the war Putin bargained for.
COL. STEVE GANYARD, FORMER DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE: It certainly isn't, George. Some of the things that we're looking at is the gross incompetence of the Russian military, the third largest military certainly is not performing that way. But the Ukrainian military is really what the real surprise is here, the way that they've been able to improvise, the way that they've been able to trade space for time. They're focusing their defenses around the key cities of Kharkiv and Kyiv and Kyiv -- and Kharkiv and -- but right now all the Russian movement is down south where the Ukrainians aren't focusing their defenses.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So does this enhance the prospects for negotiated peace or have we crossed that Rubicon?
GANYARD: I think at this point it’s going to have to be a negotiated peace, George. The Russians cannot achieve their political goal. Putin cannot achieve his political goal. One military analyst is saying that within three weeks the Russian military will be exhausted. The economy might not much -- be much better. But the way that this battlefield looks right now, Mr. Putin cannot accept this. He cannot look for a settlement here because this map is a humiliation.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And you’re saying he doesn't have the means for a long-term occupation?
GANYARD: He doesn't have the troops. He would have to probably double or triple the number of troops that he has in Ukraine right now. But we think that what will eventually happen is that the settlement will occur and he will have to negotiate some kind of face-saving agreement.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Steve Ganyard, thanks very much.
Let's bring America’s Ambassador to the UN right now, Linda Greenfield-Thomas. Madam Ambassador, thank you for joining us this morning.
Just moments ago Volodymyr Zelenskyy repeated his plea. He wants and needs that no-fly zone. Explain why President Biden will not fulfill that request.
LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UN: George, President Biden has been very, very clear that American troops will not be put on the ground or in the air to escalate this war and make this an American war against the Russians.
But we’ve also been very clear that we will support Ukraine in every other way possible. We have provided them over $1 billion in support over the course of the past few days. Billions prior to that. We’re providing them training. We’re working with our allies and the frontline countries -- the border countries to support their efforts as well.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You heard President Zelenskyy this week, he said that failure to impose the no-fly zone will mean that the blood of those who died is on the hands of the West.
THOMAS-GREENFIELD: We’re working to support him in every other way possible that we can support him. And we commend the strong efforts of the Ukrainian Government and of President Zelenskyy. What Putin has faced in Ukraine, he didn’t expect, as your -- as you just heard. And the Ukrainians have pulled out all of the -- all of their stops to address this aggression by the Russians.
So this is not an easy way forward for President Putin. And as you know, we got 141 votes against the Russians at the Security Council. They are isolated. They’re isolated in the Security Council and they’re isolated around the globe. And we will continue --
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC “THIS WEEK” ANCHOR: As a --
THOMAS-GREENFIELD: -- to press others.
STEPHANOPOULOS: As a backup you saw President Zelenskyy in a Zoom with members of Congress yesterday say that he needs fighter jets and one of the plans that, supposedly, is in the works is that he would get those fighter jets, Soviet air fighter jets, from Poland, other Eastern European nations, the United States would replace those jets in Poland and those Eastern European nations with American jets.
Is that on the table? Is that going to happen?
THOMAS-GREENFIELD: We have been in close consultations with the Polish Government, as well as with our other NATO allies on this issue. We have not in any way opposed the Polish Government providing these jets to Ukraine and we’re working, as you noted, to see how we can backfill for them.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Could U.S. jets be provided to Poland and those nations?
THOMAS-GREENFIELD: We’re still in discussions with the Poles on that issue.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You also see increasing calls from Congress for tougher sanctions, including the banning of oil imports from Russia. The leading members of even the Democrats in Congress now calling for that, like Senator Dick Durbin. Is that something that is now on the table?
THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Look, I am really delighted at the bipartisan attention this issue is getting on the Hill and we’re working closely with them. I’m speaking to members of Congress on a regular basis, as well as others in the administration to see how our unified voice in the United States can be used to put added pressure on the Russians.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So is that a yes, banning imports could become soon?
THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Look, the president has been clear with President Putin that the consequences of his actions in Ukraine will be felt, and it will be felt by the Russians. At the same time, we’re trying our best to minimize the impact on our country, on our own energy security, as well as the energy security around the world.
So we’re in discussions with NATO allies, as well as working with -- with our -- with the -- the president is working with his advisers, security advisers, as well as his energy advisers, on how to address these issues.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So it’s not a yes, yet. Our next guest is Senator Marco Rubio. I want to show a tweet he put out this week, where he said, Russia has bombed residential apartment buildings. It has bombed sacred burial grounds. It has shelled kindergartens and orphanages and hospitals. But the president says it’s still too early to say war crimes have been committed?
We just showed that footage of the bombing of civilian areas. Isn’t that a war crime?
THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Where -- any attack on civilians is a war crime. And we’re working with our partners to collect and provide information on this so that we can investigate this and have it ready in the event that war crimes are brought before this government.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You heard President Putin say that sanctions already in place are akin to a declaration of war. Yet, he’s still moving forward. What other sanctions are possible? Some have suggested not just freezing Russian assets but seizing them.
THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Well, as you know, some assets have been seized in Europe. Many of the oligarchs have seen their cruise -- their properties seized in Europe. And we’re continuing to discuss with European colleagues how we can impose more sanctions and ensure that they’re felt by the Russian people.
We’ve seen the impact already of some of these sanctions. As you know, the ruble is worth less than a penny right now. The Russian Central Bank is not functioning completely. The stock market has been closed.
So the sanctions are having the impact and Putin is feeling the results of those sanctions.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You’re saying he’s feeling the results and many have suggested that Vladimir Putin is not acting in an entirely rational manner right now. What kind of incentives can the United States and the West offer him to move forward on that negotiated piece that Steve Ganyard was just talking about?
THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Now, we have working since the beginning of this to bring the Russians to the negotiating table. And that offer is still on the table, not just by us, but also by our European colleagues. And as you saw last week, even the Ukrainians sat at the negotiating table with them.
Putin has made the decision that he wants to continue with confrontation, with escalation, with attacks on civilians and to move forward in this war that Russia is feeling as much as anyone. We’re seeing that hundreds of Russian troops are being killed every day. Russians are demonstrating in the streets against this.
So clearly President Putin is feeling the consequences of his actions. But I can’t explain why he’s -- he has continued to move forward in the aggressive way that he’s continuing to do in Ukraine.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Madam Ambassador, thanks for your time this morning.
Let's bring in the -- Senator Marco Rubio from Florida, the vice chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Senator Rubio, thanks for joining us this morning.
You were on that Zoom yesterday with President Zelenskyy. Are you and your colleagues now more open to a no-fly zone?
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), VICE CHAIR, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: You know, the -- look, a no-fly zone has become a catchphrase. I'm not sure a lot of people fully understand what that means. That means flying AWACs 24 hours a day. That means the willingness to shoot down and engagement Russian airplanes in the sky. That means, frankly, you can't put those planes up there unless you're willing to knock out the anti-aircraft systems that the Russians have deployed, and not just in Ukraine, but in Russia and also in Belarus.
So basically a no-fly zone is -- if people understood what it means, it means World War III. It means starting World War III. So, I think there are a lot of things we can do to help Ukraine protect itself, both from air strikes and missile strikes, but I think people need to understand what a no-fly zone means. It's not just -- it's not some rule you pass that everybody has to oblige by. It's the willingness to shoot down the aircrafts of the Russian Federation, which is basically the beginning of World War III.
STEPHANOPOULOS: How about this provision of fighter jets? We would provide the fighter jets to Poland, other Eastern European nations. They would send the jets they now have to Ukraine, Do you support that?
RUBIO: I do. If that can be done, that would be great. I do have concerns about a couple things. And that is sort of, you know, can they actually fly them given the amount of anti-aircraft capability that the Russians possess and continue to have deployed in the region?
By the way, yesterday was a terrible day for the Russian air force. They're losing -- they don't have air control either there. But, generally speaking, it's something I'd be supportive of, and we should do what we can to help them.
STEPHANOPOULOS: The president has resisted banning Russian oil imports. Of course, that would send gas prices soaring even more here in this country. Do you support it?
RUBIO: I do. And I don't think -- you know, I think that's something that you can construct a plan to phase that in pretty rapidly. And you could use reserves for the purposes of buffering that. But we have more than enough ability in this country to produce enough oil to make up for the percentage that we buy from Russia.
And, by the way, this notion that somehow banning Russian oil would raise prices on American consumers is an admission that this guy, that this killer, that this butcher, Vladimir Putin, has leverage over us. Why would we want that leverage to continue? Why would we have someone like him to have the power to raise gas prices on Americans which is basically if he cuts us off, what would happen in the reverse? So, I think we have enough that we should produce more American oil and buy less Russian oil or none -- actually, none at all.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You were facing some criticism from fellow legislators for tweeting out a picture of President Zelenskyy during his Zoom with Congress yesterday. The ambassador asked members not to do that because it would endanger Zelenskyy. Why did you ignore that request?
RUBIO: First of all, she said that well into the call. Second, there was no security risk in that at all. I'm -- perhaps she was under the impression that the Zoom call was a secret. It had been broadly reported like multiple outlets, maybe even ABC had tweeted it was at 9:30. There were over 300 people on this call. The details of the call were emailed to a bunch of people. And it was a nondescript picture unlike any of the other -- just like the other ones you've seen on the air. So, there was no security risk there.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You don't believe you put him at risk?
STEPHANOPOULOS: I want to also bring up something that one of your fellow Republicans, Senator Lindsey Graham, has repeated again yesterday, earlier in the week he called for Russians to assassinate Vladimir Putin. Was that responsible?
RUBIO: Well, look, people are watching what's happening in Ukraine and what this man is doing to these people, what this monster is doing to human beings, and they're very angry about it. And, obviously, you know, at the end of the day, I do think Vladimir Putin's going to face some problems internally in Russia. How the Russians seek to take care of it is up to them. I'm not sure he was calling for a U.S. action in that regard. I think what he was basically trying to say, at least my reading of it is, I wish someone would take this guy out and remove him from power one way or the other. I think the whole world wishes that.
But that's not something we can impose. That's something that has to happen organically. It has to happen organically. It has to happen internally. And -- and maybe it will, because he's not just facing a military catastrophe in Ukraine where he really can't win. I mean, the two outcomes he has before him are a costly military victory followed by a costly long-term occupation or a quagmire. But he is also facing a second front at home where his economy is headed to Third World status here pretty rapidly.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So far he appears completely undeterred by that. Do you believe he is acting in a rational manner?
RUBIO: I think he is acting in a manner he believes is rational, because you have to understand, this is a guy who views himself as a historic figure. He believes his legacy is going to be secured by being the person that restored great Russia. You can't be a greater Russia without Ukraine under your thumb. And that's what he is pursuing now.
I also believe that he is a person that cannot -- he cannot survive, for example, being humiliated. And he can't survive in power if it looks like he backed down to NATO. So I think that -- that creates a real opportunity here for danger.
I don't think his perceptions are the same as our -- our perceptions about the world, about the way things are going and so forth. This guy is also an authoritarian leader. He doesn't get a lot of bad news. They don't report a lot of bad news to him because it doesn't get you promoted.
So I, unfortunately, think we're entering probably the most dangerous part of this conflict because, as he begins to realize he can't make the tactical gains on the ground that he wants to make, I think he's willing to escalate and do things that, unfortunately, would be pretty cataclysmic.
STEPHANOPOULOS: It feels like a real dilemma. You say that Putin can't win this war, but he also seems pretty determined not to lose. So what can we do?
RUBIO: Well, that's one of the great challenges of these moments. I think there are -- if you look throughout history, there are times when you reach points like this, right, where there doesn't seem to be an easy way out. And I hope I'm wrong. I hope I wake up tomorrow and read that there has been this great negotiation and peace is here, and there is -- people are going to be able to get humanitarian aid and the shelling is going to stop.
But -- that's what my heart hopes for, but my mind, what I know about this man and know about Russia and know about its intentions and know about history tells me we've got some ways to go yet until reach a point like that. And it may -- and it's not going to be a pretty -- it's not going to be a pretty journey to that point.
There's not a lot of good options here right now, unfortunately.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Rubio, thanks very much for your time this morning.
The mayor of Kyiv is live from the heart of the war zone, next, plus a first look at my new Hulu documentary, "Two Men at War."
QUESTION: You've said you want to talk to Putin. You just...
ZELENSKYY: No, no -- no, it's not about I want to talk with Putin. I think I have to talk with Putin. The world has to talk with Putin because there are no other ways to stop this war. That's why I have to.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: It is a David and Goliath confrontation that will determine the fate of Ukraine and the future of Europe. Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Vladimir Putin, "Two Men at War." That's the title of my new Hulu documentary which starts streaming today. Here's a first look.
ZELENSKYY (through translator): We are all here. Our military [personnel] are here. Citizens and the society are here. We are all here, defending our independence, our country, and this is how it is going to be the future.
TOM FRIEDMAN, FOREIGN AFFAIRS COLUMNIST, THE NEW YORK TIMES, AUTHOR, "THE WORLD IS FLAT": Zelenskyy is a modern president who is using all the tools of the 21st Century world.
UNIDENTIFIED: His extraordinary role at this moment that an actor knows one thing particularly well, which is how to read his audience. And Zelenskyy's audience at the moment is the Western world. And what he has done in a way that is extraordinarily successful is understand how he needs to tell people what it means to be a Ukrainian today.
ZELENSKYY (through translator): The people rose to defend their state and they showed their true faces.
UNIDENTIFIED: I must say as somebody who was dismissing him, I've grown to respect him tremendously.
JULIA IOFFE, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, PUCK: And the Zelenskyy that the world has seen, that Ukrainians have seen, couldn't be more different. Putin is meeting with people at long tables. He won't even get close to his defense minister. Zelenskyy is wearing helmets and flack jackets and he is out in the field with his soldiers. Putin, you know, has put out some prerecorded videos. He's not out there talking to his population.
RADDATZ: And I am told more and more he's just going into the military command center which is essentially a bunker under the Kremlin and wants constant updates about what's going on, what's going on. That he's erratic. That he's worried about what aides are still loyal, what aren't. And that difference in -- in rallying people and hunkering down is pretty stark.
UNIDENTIFIED: President Zelenskyy, what do people think about him?
UNIDENTIFIED: I didn't support him when he was elected. And I would support because I know that he's doing great things right now.
STEPHANOPOULOS (voice-over): In the midst of war, bitter political opponents united by a common enemy, fighting together on the front lines.
(on camera): You've been a political rival of President Zelenskyy, but the two of you are on the same team now?
PETRO POROSHENKO, PRESIDENT OF UKRAINE (2014-19): Definitely, we are. This is not team of Zelenskyy. Definitely not. And this is not a team of Poroshenko. This is the joint Ukrainian team, team of Ukrainian people, team of Ukrainian armed forces. And with that situation we definitely will win because the whole Ukraine is one team.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So the Ukrainian people, President Zelenskyy, President Poroshenko have risen to the moment?
POROSHENKO: Yes, definitely. I think the whole world will see that.
STEPHANOPOULOS: "Two Men at War" begins streaming today on Hulu.
And we're joined by the mayor of Kyiv, Vitali Klitschko.
Mr. Mayor, thank you for joining us from Kyiv this morning. I know what a difficult situation it is. Give us a sense of what's going on in Kyiv this morning.
MAYOR VITALI KLITSCHKO, KYIV, UKRAINE: Actually this morning it's a little bit quiet. We just have -- just a couple of rockets attack. But the -- we see the Russian aggressors move the tanks and soldiers to north of Kyiv. And right now Ukrainian soldiers are fighting in small cities at the border of our city, Bucha, Irpin, Hostomel. Right now there's a huge fight there. It's not secret it's a target for aggressors, the capital of Ukraine, Kyiv. And that's why -- that's why they try to make a circle around our city and to make pressure.
But as mayor of Kyiv, I told you, it's -- I was visiting many block (ph) posts and many points around Kyiv. We have two circles of defense and an amazing, amazing patriotic way. The people lose their houses, and many of the people lose members of family, and they are very, very motivated to defend our city.
STEPHANOPOULOS: What do you need from the West to defeat Vladimir Putin?
KLITSCHKO: Can you repeat the question, please, one more time?
STEPHANOPOULOS: What do you -- what do you need from the West to defeat Vladimir Putin?
KLITSCHKO: We need unity. We need pressure. We need sanctions. We need the weapons support because we stand in front of one of the strongest armies in the world, Russian army. But the weapons are very important for us. But Russians doesn't have so huge will and -- as we Ukrainians. We actually are very much ready (ph). We defend our city, our houses, our families. We defend our lives (ph) and our future.
And we need -- we very appreciate for the friends (ph). We're very thankful for support, but we have to make much more pressure and help Ukraine. We need the help. We need the help.
We're still fighting. We still fight for our country and more pressure, more pressure. And unity between all the democratic countries around Ukraine.
STEPHANOPOULOS: President Putin vowed yesterday to eliminate Ukraine if you keep up the fight. How do you respond?
KLITSCHKO: Ukraine is not just land. Kyiv, capital of the country, is not just buildings. People is main our power. We are very appreciate -- Ukraine was always friendly nation. We always was friendly country.
We never was aggressive to anyone, but right now, we have huge motivation to defend our future, our country.
Putin has huge ambition to rebuild Soviet empire. We wasn’t USSR and we don't want back to USSR. We see our future as democratic, modern European country.
And we expect support from all world because we're fighting not just for Ukraine, we’re fighting for others (ph). We're fighting for whole modern world. We have to stop Putin all together.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Mr. Mayor, thanks very much for your time this morning. Stay safe.
KLITSCHKO: Thank you.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Roundtable is next. We'll be right back.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Monuments around the world lighting up to support the people of Ukraine in blue and yellow. Sidney, Seoul and New York, Germany and Washington, D.C., right there. The world coming together in support of the people of Ukraine.
Let's talk about that on our roundtable.
We're joined by Chris Christie, Donna Brazile, our chief Washington correspondent Jon Karl and Julie Pace, executive editor of the "Associated Press."
Chris, I want to begin with you.
One of the reports in "The New York Times" this morning quoted Vladimir Lenin, there are decades when nothing happens, weeks when decades happen. That's what the last couple of weeks feel like.
CHRIS CHRISTIE, FORMER NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR AND ABC NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, definitely, that's what it feels like, George.
And, look, I think, you know, what we need to be focusing on now is the long game here because this is not going to be a short attention span game. It's going to be a long game here. And the thing that I've been thinking a lot about this week is China.
And China is watching what we do. They've watched what we've done, which I think allowed Putin to have the permission to do what he did. And they're going to see now how we respond and react going forward. And so this is not just about what happens in Ukraine, which, obviously, is vitally important to Europe and important mostly to the people of Ukraine. But it's going to be, what's America's role in the world and how is President Xi looking at what we're doing and how we're interacting and -- and are we tough enough and strong enough to prevent them from getting active now, too.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Julie Pace, a lot of people believe that only President Xi has the power, any leverage, over President Putin.
JULIE PACE, ASSOCIATED PRESS EXECUTIVE EDITOR: And I think that's right because Putin is isolated. And -- and there are very few other countries in the world in which he has had a real relationship. You know, he was just at the Olympics with Xi. That's the last world leader he really had a face-to-face interaction with. He's -- he's not really listening to the west. His conversations with President Biden, Macron, others have really gone nowhere.
So I think Governor Christie is right, a lot of power rests with China right now, both in terms of how they react coming out of this, particularly with Taiwan and some of their own -- some of the areas that they are watching, what they are willing to do and not willing to do when it comes to Russia.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Donna Brazile, here at home it caused a complete reformulation of President Biden's State of the Union Address this week.
DONNA BRAZIL, FORMER DNC CHAIR AND ABC NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: And he unified the country. I think there's bipartisan support now for more efforts to help the Ukrainian people. Perhaps there will be a conversation this week about stopping the import of Russian oil and gas. Although it's a very small percentage, it will send -- I think it will send the energy prices sky-high, and they're already sky-high.
But I think it's important that the president continues to unify the country, unify NATO. Because I agree with you, Chris. It must be a different Sunday because I agree with everything you just said. This is not going to end...
CHRISTIE: Oh, boy.
BRAZILE: I know, don't worry. Ash Wednesday, we got it.
We're going to have to continue to rally the world. The Ukrainian people are on the frontlines, not just to protect themselves and their lives and livelihoods but to protect the West, to protect all freedom-loving for people. So this is a moment. And I think this week the president is going to have to come back to the American people and talk about the sacrifices and the pain that we're going to endure as long as this war has gone on.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Jon Karl, Donna just talked about the president unifying the country.
STEPHANOPOULOS: There's some support in the polls for that as well.
I was struck by Senator Marco Rubio this morning. Usually he's not shy about taking shots at President Biden.
KARL: He's the ultimate hawk.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Ultimate hawk. It felt like he and President Biden in many respects, on the same page?
KARL: Effectively on the same page, particularly on this question of the no-fly zone, which there's been a growing movement in Congress to say we need to do everything we can possibly do to -- to help Ukraine, that all the sanctions in the world, all the global unity in the world don't mean a damn thing if Ukraine is fighting on its own.
You've seen Zelenskyy pleading for a no-fly zone, but Marco Rubio saying maybe even more effectively...
STEPHANOPOULOS: As starkly as you can say it, yeah.
KARL: ... than Biden has been saying it, that if we have a no-fly zone, it means war with Russia. If we have a no-fly zone, it means World War III. It means not just shooting down Russian jets; it means shooting down Russian air defense systems in Russia.
STEPHANOPOULOS: It does appear, though, Chris Christie, that there's going to be a -- a coalescing around the idea of getting those American jets to other Eastern European nations so they can send jets to the Ukraine.
It feels, as Donna was just saying right now that this ban on Russian oil imports may be coming?
CHRISTIE: Look, it should have happened a long time ago.
And I would disagree with Donna on this point, though. A president did unite the world. It was Zelenskyy, not Biden. Zelenskyy is the one who united the world. He's the one who, right from the beginning, was very clear about what leadership was supposed to look like.
We should have been arming the Ukrainians for the last year. We weren't. We should have been doing much more on domestic production of oil. Instead we're going backwards. And we gave Putin the card to hold us hostage, and with Nord Stream 2, we gave him the card to hold Europe hostage.
I mean, this has been one bad strategic...
STEPHANOPOULOS: You don't believe there's anything we could have done, short of, you know, giving -- imposing a no-fly zone over Ukraine, that would have prevented Putin from going in?
CHRISTIE: Listen, I absolutely believe, George, that if we had aggressively armed Ukraine from the time Joe Biden got in office; if he continued the Trump policy and had continued to aggressively arm Ukraine...
KARL: Continued the Trump policy?
I mean, Trump's the one...
CHRISTIE: No, no, no, listen...
KARL: Trump's the one that brow-beated Zelenskyy...
KARL: ... and held back the Javelins that Congress had voted...
CHRISTIE: Jon, you can continue -- and he still -- the Ukrainians were armed. And in January of 2021 Joe Biden stopped that policy, the same way he reversed domestic oil production policy.
Just in North Dakota alone, half a million barrels a day reduced because Biden prevented us taking it out of federal lands.
We import half a billion barrels a day from Russia. We could stop paying blood money to Russia to fund this war if we would increase domestic oil production. But that goes against the president's...
PACE: But -- but -- but I do think we're at this really crucial moment. And Donna and I were talking about this a bit earlier, that I think President Biden may need to have a conversation with the American people about taking some pain on, if we're really talking about this being a war that is not just about a conflict between Russia and Ukraine but the future of democracy in Europe, you know, how far the world is willing to go to defend a democratic country. And that could have real impact, you know, on American citizens. And I think he got part of the way there in the State of the Union. But this is going to be a much broader conversation.
BRAZILE: It's -- it's -- it's a bigger conversation than just unifying the country and unifying the world. It is a sacrifice. And, you know, the oil markets -- I'm from Louisiana. That's one commodity that I pay attention to perhaps because I went to school with a petrochemical scholarship and I've been trying to downplay it all my life. The volatility in Venezuela, the volatility in -- in Libya has caused the oil markets to (inaudible).
But when Europe depends on Russia for their natural gas -- and, granted, the United States has become a big exporter of natural gas and oil.
CHRISTIE: We used to be.
BRAZILE: Look -- But, look, when Europe is dependent -- I mean, Putin has a couple of cards left. He doesn't have a lot. And one of them is cutting off the gas and cutting off the oil.
BRAZILE: We can -- we can afford it, but can Europe afford it?
But I want to go back to your point. The Republicans, seriously? I mean, Donald Trump tried to play a game with Mister -- Mr. Zelenskyy.
CHRISTIE: And still armed him.
BRAZILE: He tried to play a game with Mr. Zelenskyy.
CHRISTIE: And still armed him.
BRAZILE: He tried to play a game.
CHRISTIE: And still armed him.
BRAZILE: And was impeached for it. So I think this president has rallied the country, rallied NATO. Gotten the Germans. I mean, look -- look at the countries that are coming to help the Ukrainians.
CHRISTIE: You think that's because of Joe Biden or do you think it's because...
BRAZILE: Yes, I do believe that Joe Biden...
CHRISTIE: No, it's because...
BRAZILE: ... has shown leadership.
CHRISTIE: ... the tanks...
BRAZILE: And while you may not like his...
CHRISTIE: No, it's because -- look, no...
BRAZILE: ... leadership, he has shown a lot of discipline as well.
CHRISTIE: It's because the tanks rolled into Ukraine and that puts them, Russian tanks, a lot closer to Germany than they were before they did. You cannot give Joe Biden credit for that. And by the way, Joe Biden did one thing that Donald Trump didn't do. He stopped arming Ukraine. And this is the same administration he was a part of back with Obama that...
BRAZILE: Oh lord, here we go.
CHRISTIE: ... sent blankets after...
BRAZILE: And you changed your platform on Ukraine...
KARL: Back to the issue that...
CHRISTIE: Didn't change my platform.
KARL: Back to the key issue here which is the question of the -- of banning the import of oil and gas from Russia. You know, it is not insignificant. We actually take in more petroleum from Russia than we do from Saudi Arabia. So the ban will result in -- and also obviously affects the world's supply as well. So you'll see oil will go from about $100 a barrel to $150, maybe $200 a barrel. But it's extraordinary, George, for all of the -- the sanctions that have been imposed, and they have been unprecedented on Russia, to sanction everything but the thing that drives their economy is...
CHRISTIE: It's like John McCain -- John McCain used to say that -- that Russia was a gas station masquerading as a country. And it was a great line. That's all they have. And the fact we're still taking that in and there is an option. There is an option.
STEPHANOPOULOS: I was going to say, you're for this right now if the president does it. It feels like he's going to move in that direction. Will Republicans forego criticizing him for increased gas prices?
CHRISTIE: You have to do -- though wait, George, you've got to do two things at the same time. And you should be able to. You have to ban Russian oil and you have to increase domestic production. And that is where Joe Biden is going to have the problem because he's held captive by the environmental left that -- what John Kerry -- what John Kerry, his guy, said last week, that the real tragedy of Ukraine is it's slowing our efforts on climate change. That will summarize what the far left's view is about domestic oil production.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Climate change, we just saw the U.N. report this week. It is -- this problem is an existential crisis and it's getting worse.
PACE: I don't think any of us are...
CHRISTIE: ... and that's what the tragedy is in Ukraine, while people are being slaughtered? That's what Kerry is talking about?
STEPHANOPOULOS: But what is the definition of tragedy when two goods are in conflict?
BRAZILE: And meanwhile, Mr. Putin is dialing up African and South American countries because he wants some of the raw materials so that he can continue to build his renewables. Look, we can do two things at once. And that is we can protect our planet, protect our earth. Climate change is also real. And that's why the only approach is not drill, drill, drill. The approach is to be strategic and to make sure our European allies stick with us because it's going to get very painful in the next coming days and weeks. That's why I think the president has been correct and in making sure that everybody sticks together.
PACE: And I do think whoever gets credit for it, the alignment of the West has been a really crucial element of this story.
BRAZILE: Praise the lord.
PACE: And keeping Germany together. Keeping France on board. Keeping that Western alliance together. That sends a signal to Putin. Again, who gets credit for it I think is an open question, but...
KARL: Although the sad truth is, for all the alignment in the West and for the U.N. voting, every country in the world except for, you know, North Korea, Syria, Russia, Belarus, to condemn the invasion, for all the unity on sanctions, it has done nothing to deter Putin.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Right. Even he has got internal opposition and that's doing nothing to deter him either.
Before we go, I do want to switch gears a little bit. Extraordinary document this week, Jon Karl, from the House committee, a court filing, the January 6th Committee, a court filing which made it seem they're pretty serious about at least the potential of a criminal referral for President Trump on possibly violating two U.S. laws, obstruction of an official proceeding and conspiracy to defraud the United States.
KARL: I think this is a very important document. It's 61 pages long. And it's worth reading in its entirety. First of all, for the first time outlining what the potential criminal charges would be. It's not an indictment. It's giving reason for being able to do the extraordinary action of getting access to these emails. But it also outlines what the committee has. I mean, if you look at it, you see bits and pieces of who has testified, what they have said.
Let me give you an example. Jason Miller, who was one of the top advisers on the campaign, who stayed with Trump after January 6th, who stayed with him after January 20th.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Setting up one of his social media outlets.
KARL: Yes. I mean, he went with him down to Mar-a-Lago. You learn that in there that he testified under oath to the committee that Trump was told flatly that he was losing the election, that it was over.
STEPHANOPOULOS: That he lost the election.
KARL: That he lost. That he lost. This is during the transition. That all these efforts were not going to work. And there was a term that they used in the writing of this. It was -- stood out to me. "Extrajudicial efforts to stop the president-elect from taking power." That's another way of saying illegal.
STEPHANOPOULOS: It was an extraordinary accumulation of evidence, Julie, about how many times the president was told and how many times he ignored the fact that he lost.
But, of course, this decision is not up to the January 6th Committee. It's up to the Attorney General, Merrick Garland.
PACE: Exactly. This is -- this is heading back toward the Biden administration and this could be, if they do -- if they do recommend charges here, this could be the biggest decision that Merrick Garland has to make.
And what's been interesting is that, you know, Joe Biden's position has been to try to pull politics out of some of the Justice Department's thinking. But on this one, when it comes to January 6th -- when it comes to the actions of President Trump, they have signaled that they’re going to be pretty aggressive.
But this will be the biggest decision I think that Merrick Garland has --
STEPHANOPOULOS: Chris, you're a former prosecutor. The big thing they’re going to have to prove if they brought these charges is state of mind of the president of the United States. That's difficult.
CHRISTIE,: Good luck. Look --
KARL: We know something about that.
CHRISTIE: Look, you know, here's the thing, and I had the responsibility --
STEPHANOPOULOS: Is delusion a defense?
CHRISTIE: Yeah. Well, it is, George. And, you know, the problem is that -- I did this for seven years and did a lot of political corruption cases in New Jersey. And we never lost one.
And the reason we never lost one is we made sure that every time we brought one of those cases, it was a head shot, it was done. And we didn’t ever went after the president of the United States.
So, I’m sure what Merrick Garland is looking at is I cannot swing and miss on this. If I’m going to bring charges against the former president of the United States, it has got to be beyond, beyond a reasonable doubt. And that's going to be a very difficult decision for any prosecutor to make.
BRAZILE: You know, I’ve been following what's been happening in the district court, the superior court where many of the police officers who were injured had taken the stand to talk about what happened on that day. And, George, to see a young man, 19 years old, testify against his father who came to the Capitol with an AR-15, it has been gut-wrenching.
The extent at which the president of the United -- the former president of the United States went to motivate people, inspire people based on a lie to come to Washington, D.C., and cause that kind of damage, it's been gut-wrenching listening and watching these developments.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Yeah, we don't know what the Department of Justice is going to do. But we know there are many more shoes to drop, including in the January 6 Committee as they continue to collect their evidence.
That's all we have time for today. Thanks for joining us.
We'll be right back.
ON SCREEN TEXT: Who was the first U.S. president to visit Ukraine?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL CLINTON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT (January 1994): I want to thank the people of Ukraine for having me here and treating me so warmly, if only briefly. And I would like to close by asking the president permission to come back and actually see the beautiful city of Kyiv.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ON SCREEN TEXT: Vladimir.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He thought he was God.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's now one of the most vilified men in the world.
ON SCREEN TEXT: Volodymyr.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is the every man. Zelenskyy is the Tom Hanks of Ukraine.
ON SCREEN TEXT: Hulu Originals.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The fact that a little, nice Jewish boy is 5'7" is showing up this KGB agent and the Kremlin.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC "THIS WEEK" ANCHOR: What do you say to Americans who see Russia and you, not only as a rival, but an unfriendly adversary.
ANNOUNCER: "Two Men; At War."
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Which Vladimir/Volodymyr (ph) will take over. The world is not going to be the same.
ON SCREEN TEXT: Only on Hulu tonight.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC "THIS WEEK" ANCHOR: That starts streaming today on Hulu.
That is all for us today. Thanks for sharing part of your Sunday with us. Check out "WORLD NEWS TONIGHT," and I'll see you tomorrow on "GMA."