EXCLUSIVE: NATO SG on Putin’s “Dark Message” and Chernobyl

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CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: Can I ask you about the regime change picture here? Because that is what many people are saying, that would be his aim to do that and install some kind of puppet regime, pliant puppet regime, that he can control. And Presidents Zelensky has spoken to the Austrian chancellor. And he said he fears for himself, he fears for his country, he fears that it might not exist for much longer. Is that — tell me what you think about a president who you just saw in Munich, we all just saw him, what he must be going through right now.

JENS STOLTENBERG, NATO SECRETARY-GENERAL: It has to be an extremely difficult situation for him, but also for the people of Ukraine. And what we see is a brutal violation of international law, a brutal violation of the integrity, territorial integrity and sovereignty of an independent sovereign nation, Ukraine. And we also — we don’t — we see the massive military force, but we also see the very scary or dark message from President Putin about that he don’t respect Ukraine as a nation, and that the — that he need to move in to demilitarize and denazify Ukraine, which is absolutely false claims. But it tells something of how far he’s willing to go, to use false narratives to try to excuse what he’s doing in Ukraine.

AMANPOUR: We have just been told that Russian troops have seized the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine. What effect would that have? I mean, it’s barely active, but it’s very dangerous. What do you think that means?

STOLTENBERG: It means that they are now taking control over more and more territory in Ukraine. And then they also are responsible for also making sure that we don’t have incidents or accidents, including with the Chernobyl power plant. But, again, it’s part of the full-fledged invasion. It’s part of something they have planned for a long time, because this is a deliberate, bloody, long-time-planned use of military force. And that’s what makes it so serious. And it’s not only an attack on Ukraine, but it’s an attack on the security order we have had in Europe for many, many years. And it’s an attack on the idea of a sovereign, independent nation choosing their own path. And, therefore, what we now see is a new security order, a kind of new normal, where we have a Russia which is a — is, in an open, blatant way, contesting core values for our security and demonstrating their will to use force to get their will.

About This Episode EXPAND

Since dawn, explosions have been reported in cities and airports across Ukraine. Citizens are leaving the capital city in a mass exodus of vehicles. Subway stations are serving as bomb shelters. And as Putin joins the ranks of global tyrants and pariahs, Western powers promise massive and punitive sanctions. Experts and journalists join the show to discuss Russia’s attack on Ukraine.