As Russia shifts east, Ukraine’s former prime minister calls on the West to ‘please do more’

As Russian forces ramp up their attacks in eastern Ukraine, civilians in impacted cities and villages are attempting to evacuate after another deadly strike on Friday. Former Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk joins NewsHour's Ali Rogin to discuss the situation on the ground in Ukraine.

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  • Geoff Bennett:

    As Russian forces ramp up their attacks in eastern Ukraine, civilians in affected cities and villages are attempting to evacuate following another deadly strike on Friday. Correspondent Ali Rogin has our report.

  • Ali Rogin:

    A day after Russia struck the Kramatorsk train station, survivors are processing what happened. 17-year-old Nastya still bears blood from the attack.

  • Nastya Yefrimenko, Kramatorsk Resident (through translator):

    I remember a really loud noise and there was something landing, shells or rockets. Everybody hit the ground. That's all, a nightmare. Everything starts to burn. Everyone was panicking.

  • Ali Rogin:

    The strike killed at least 50 people, with many more wounded still in the hospital. Overnight, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy condemned the strike and demanded accountability.

    Volodymyr Zelenskyy, President of Ukraine (through translator): We expect a firm, global response to this war crime. Like the massacre in Bucha, like many other Russian war crimes, the missile strike on Kramatorsk must be one of the charges at the tribunal.

  • Ali Rogin:

    Residents of the Kyiv suburb of Bucha today returned to a city scarred by atrocity.

  • Bohdan Zubchuk, Bucha Police Officer (through translator):

    We will never be able to forget this. What we have seen here, these pictures, will be carved into our minds for the rest of our lives.

  • Ali Rogin:

    Despite the ongoing Russian attacks, civilians today continued evacuating Eastern Ukraine. The Kramatorsk strike is part of a reported regroup of Russian troops. The Ukrainian military today said Moscow's forces are turning their guns to the city of Donetsk in the Donbas region.

    Oleksandr Shputun, Spokesperson, General Staff of The Armed Forces Of Ukraine: In the Donetsk direction, the enemy continues assault operations.

  • Ali Rogin:

    And the Russian Defense Ministry claims its forces destroyed an ammunition depot at a Ukrainian air base. But in an effort to show the capital is holding steady, President Zelenskyy met with both British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer in Kyiv today.

    Karl Nehammer, Chancellor of the Austrian Empire: Nice meeting. We had lunch in Brussels, do you remember?

  • Volodymyr Zelenskyy:

    Yes, I remember. Yes I remember.

  • Karl Nehammer:

    Good to see you.

  • Volodymyr Zelenskyy:

    Good to see you.

  • Ali Rogin:

    Zelenskyy again called for more sanctions on Russia and said his country was preparing for a tough battle in the east.

  • Geoff Bennett:

    For more on the situation on the ground in Ukraine, Ali spoke with former Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk earlier today.

  • Ali Rogin:

    Mr. Yatsenyuk, thank you so much for joining us. The world has been horrified by the images coming out of Bucha and Kramatorsk. President Zelenskyy, however, has said that other cities have suffered even worse atrocities. Have we not yet seen the worst of – the worst of what Russia has done?

  • Arseniy Yatsenyuk, Former Ukrainian Prime Minister:

    What Russia has done is the war crimes and crimes against humanity. And, you know, Europe can't remember more atrocities since the Second World War and since the tragedy in Srebrenica in former socialist republic in Yugoslavia.

    So Putin is personally responsible for this and his so-called military. That's not long – longer a military and they are no longer soldiers. This is a barbaric army of just predators, inhumane predators, who went after innocent Ukrainian people. They have to be brought to justice.

  • Ali Rogin:

    U.S. officials have said recently that they believe the next phase of this conflict could go on for months or even years. Do you agree?

  • Arseniy Yatsenyuk:

    No one knows. Look, preliminary we had the number of estimations that Russian military is ready to take over Ukraine in just from three to five days. It didn't happen. Russia completely failed to reach its primary target, which is to seize the capital of Ukraine and which is, actually, to take over half of Ukraine, so very strong, durable and courageous Ukrainian military stopped this barbaric Russian military.

    So how long is it to happen? It all depends on whether the western world is ready to ship those little defensive and offensive weapons to Ukrainians and whether the western allies are ready to ramp up sanctions against Russia every single day, 24/7.

  • Ali Rogin:

    So let me ask you about those allies. In recent days, we've seen E.U. leaders, we've seen leaders from the U.K., just today Boris Johnson visiting with President Zelenskyy in Kyiv. Some countries and organizations have also announced they're going to be reinstating their diplomatic presences in Ukraine. Do you believe the United States should follow suit?

  • Arseniy Yatsenyuk:

    Look, the U.S. is deflection, and I really commend the efforts of the President of the United States and bipartisan support of American people to protect, defend and support Ukrainians.

    So what Putin didn't expect, he didn't expect this kind of unity among the western world. He was thinking that the western world is actually completely split, fractioned, and that the western world is not ready to stand our ground, to stand to our ground to follow freedoms and values of a liberal and free world.

    So Boris Johnson, he just paid a visit to Ukraine, it's not just a show of solidarity; it's an act of solidarity. And let me, once again, reiterate that the unity of the western world and very strong support of the United States is one of the key focal points of a strong resilience of Ukrainian people and Ukrainian army.

  • Ali Rogin:

    But do you think the United States is doing enough? Do you want to see more weapons from the United States? What weapons would be most helpful? And again, should the United States be next to send a delegation to Kyiv?

  • Arseniy Yatsenyuk:

    Well, as far as I remember a few days ago, house intelligence committee sent a letter to the President of the United States with a conference of list of the defensive and offensive weapon which is needed for the Ukrainian military. And I strongly believe that after the U.S. Senate passed already a Land Lease Act, Ukraine will get everything that is needed for Ukrainian army to win, to win this sacred and righteous war.

    So, once again, the U.S. is doing what is needed, but my appeal to the United States and to the entire western world, please do more and please speed up this process. The most I would say challenging issue is sanctions. The U.S. and our European allies have to impose secondary sanctions. And what we know for sure is Russia trying to evade sanctions, to circumvent sanctions, using different backdoor channels, including China.

    So it's important for the free world to press on China, India, and other states not to support Russian aggression and to be on the right side of the history.

  • Ali Rogin:

    Former Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, thank you so much.

  • Arseniy Yatsenyuk:

    Thank you.

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