UK Ambassador Karen Pierce on the international efforts aimed at deterring Russia

Like the United States, the United Kingdom has ruled out sending troops to fight in Ukraine. Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed that stance Tuesday as he called for Western nations to continue supplying weapons to Ukraine. Karen Pierce, the United Kingdom's ambassador to the United States, joins Amna Nawaz to discuss the war in Russia.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    Like the United States and the rest of the NATO countries, the United Kingdom is not sending troops to fight in Ukraine. Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed that stance during a press conference today. But Johnson has called for Western nations to continue to supply weapons to Ukraine.

    For more on the Russian attack against Ukraine and the global response, Amna Nawaz who is on Capitol Hill, speaks to the U.K.'s ambassador to the United States.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    That's right, Judy.

    For more on the international response and the effort to deter Russia, I'm joined by Dame Karen Pierce. She is the United Kingdom's ambassador to the United States.

    Ambassador Pierce, welcome back to the "NewsHour." Thank you for joining us.

    I'd like to begin by asking for your assessment for the latest on the ground. You have heard my colleague Nick Schifrin reporting there. It seems that Russian advance has stalled. But we have seen those satellite images, that column of tanks and Russian troops approaching Kyiv.

    Based on what you have heard, how concerned are you about a major Russian assault ahead?

    Karen Pierce, British Ambassador to the United States: I think it's true that the Russians are finding it much harder going than they had ever expected or planned for.

    That's partly because of the fantastic, heroic resistance that your correspondents are seeing and showing to us, and it's very moving and it's very inspiring. But I think we do also have to remember the might of the Russian army and the fact that they continue to move on Kharkiv and on Kyiv.

    And I think, in coming days, we will probably see an intensification of the fighting from the Russians, and that's obviously very concerning. It's a harder task than they thought, and there are reasons to be encouraged by that. But I think, in the end, the overwhelming military might of the Russian forces will, sadly, lead to a bad result.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    So, let me ask you about the United Kingdom's support so far, because, so far, you have backed Ukraine with humanitarian aid and economic support, but also with defensive weapons.

    And just yesterday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said to President Zelensky that the U.K. will provide more military support in the coming days. So what will that look like and when will it go?

  • Karen Pierce:

    That's right.

    We have already sent supplies, particularly anti-tank weapons. But I want to express that these are defensive weapons. They're so the Ukrainian military can defend their country against the Russian aggression. We are supplying nonlethal equipment like body armor and a few more things that armies regularly need.

    We're looking at other equipment, defensive equipment, that we might be able to provide. British troops are there on the borders, on — in the NATO country, but helping to get military supplies into the Ukrainian military now.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Can I ask?

    On the provisions of even the defensive weapons, we have heard from some experts some concerns that, even as they are moved or stored in neighboring countries, how worried you about Russian interdiction, about them possibly striking some of the weapons or storage facilities and taking this battle outside the Ukrainian borders?

  • Karen Pierce:

    Nothing the Russians might do would, sadly, surprise me at this state, to be absolutely honest.

    But we are doing our best to get the supplies into Ukraine through safe channels, through areas where we don't believe the Russians are operating. I won't say exactly where those are, for fear of precipitating a bad result.

    But we are trying our best to help with the forward movement of all these supplies. We have sent 2,000 weapons from Britain. NATO allies are also sending supplies. And, as I say, we're doing our best to get them through to where they're needed.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Madam Ambassador, I'd like to ask you about the sanctions, and particularly back in the United Kingdom.

    Your foreign secretary has said that you will be targeting oligarchs' properties and possessions. We know that many rich Russians have been buying up real estate, sending their children to British schools for years. Does that mean that you will be seizing some of those assets in the coming days?

  • Karen Pierce:

    We have something called unexplained wealth orders, which enable us to seize illicit assets. And so those will be enforced.

    We're revoking our visa investor scheme, so that will also have an effect. We have sanctioned individual oligarchs and those close to Putin, and we will be introducing an economic crime bill that will give us more powers to go after these illicit assets.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Finally, I will ask you, you have mentioned you hoped that the oligarchs around Putin are talking the him and pressuring him.

    Do you believe that Putin is listening to those around him at this moment? Is he isolated or getting reliable information?

  • Karen Pierce:

    I think that's a really good question. I don't think we know for sure. We know that some Putin's inner circle are being personally discomforted, if not worse, by what's happening on the sanctions.

    Does President Putin listen to advice? I don't know who in the Russian system can speak frankly to him and give him a very honest and frank assessment of the difficulties the Russians are encountering in their aggression towards Ukraine and what is going wrong with their plan.

    But I do hope he's getting those briefings, because he needs to recalculate. He needs to stop the tanks that are there. And, as Boris Johnson said in Poland, he needs to turn the tanks around, and he needs to choose a path of peace.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    That is Dame Karen Pierce, the United Kingdom's ambassador to the United States, joining us tonight.

    Madam Ambassador, thank you so much for your time.

  • Karen Pierce:

    Thank you.

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