All right. Let me start with this. We have Russia doing the sham referendums trying to annex territory from Ukraine. We've got the civilian draft that Putin instituted to mobilize an additional 300,000 troops. So based on those two developments, what is the US assessment right now, of why Putin is making these moves? And is it a sign that he's losing this war?
Will Chuck throwing together a sham referendum three days notice and scrambling to call up hundreds of 1000s of people who are going to need to get trained and organized is not a sign of strength. It's not a sign of confidence. Quite the opposite. It's a sign that he is struggling very badly in Ukraine that the Russian army is struggling badly and that he doesn't have a lot of options left because he really did not want to have to move to mobilization. He knew that as soon as he ordered mobilization, there would be some upheaval in the country and we're seeing the images and scenes of that right now. So the Russian army is in trouble and the Ukrainian army is making gains on the battlefield and stopping the Russians from making progress in areas where they continue to try to advance but that doesn't mean that the danger is over. It is very much real and still with us because Vladimir Putin remains intense as you just heard from President Biden on wiping out the Ukrainian people, that he does not believe that Ukraine should have a right to exist. So he's going to keep coming and we have to keep coming with weapons, ammunition, intelligence and all the support we can provide to the Ukrainians as they defend their land, their freedom and their democracy.
The German chancellor, Olaf Schultz told me earlier this week that there would be severe consequences for this sham referendum. And he said that obviously no, there'll be nobody would recognize there hold over these territories, etc. What what are the consequences that he's referring to? What are the is there something he didn't say? That's going to come to Russia for doing the sham referendum?
With the leaders of that group of seven nations, the the group of the world's advanced democracies that includes both the United States and Germany actually put out a statement on Friday after the beginning of the voting that so called voting in these these fake elections that are taking place. In that document, they reiterated that there would be consequences and specified that that would include additional enhanced sanctions, including sanctions on entities and and companies outside of Russia, that are supporting the Russian war machine or supporting these fake referenda or Russia's effort to annex them. So you will see that in the days ahead, the United States will have further announcements in coming days if Russia follows through on this and of course, it will only redouble our efforts to provide Ukraine the equipment and weapons that it needs to prevail in this conflict.
While you were talking we were able to show some footage of people voting with under the supervision of armed Russian guards. So just to give folks a taste of what kind of referendum This is, I want to talk about the nuclear threats from Vladimir Putin. There was a report this week that folks in the Biden administration have made it clear privately, of the severe consequences. Does this mean the red phone is working again, because at the beginning of this conflict, there was a lot of concern that some of the basic communications that we had for military to military, Intel, the Intel you had a hard time getting your counterparts to return calls. Is Does this mean the red phone is is working again?
With Chuck, we've been careful to protect the timing in the context of the conversations we have with the Russian government with the Kremlin. But the answer to your question is yes, we do have the capacity to speak directly at senior levels and to be clear about our messages to them and to receive their messages. That has happened frequently over the course of the past few months. It has happened even in just the last few days. But we have not wanted to indicate exactly what those channels look like because we want to be able to protect them so that we have the continuing ability to reach Russia and tell them in no uncertain terms, for example, what the consequences would be and they would be catastrophic if Russia went down the dark road of nuclear weapons use.
I guess the question is why this why the strategic ambiguity here? Why not drive public line? If he's publicly threatening nuclear weapons? Why not? Send a public message which I'm sure that people in Europe and in Ukraine would like to hear that says, you cross this line? Katie bar the door, Mr. Putin.
Well, let me say it plainly. If Russia crosses this line, there will be catastrophic consequences for Russia. The United States will respond decisively now in private channels, we have spelled out in greater detail exactly what that would mean. But we want to be able to have the credibility of speaking directly to senior leadership in Russia and laying out for them what the consequences would be without getting into a rhetorical tip for tat publicly by we will not hesitate in saying publicly that there will be catastrophic consequences for Russia. You've used that word twice seed in the United States and our allies will respond decisively and you use that
word catastrophic just now twice. I I assume, you will not give more definition to that. But should Putin use the definition of his imagination there catastrophic is just that as bad as he could imagine.
Well, Russia understands very well, what the United States would do in response to the use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine, because we have spelled it out for them. And I will leave it at that today. But as far as the question of deterrence is concerned, you know, Russia will make its decisions, but it will do so fully understanding that the United States will respond decisively. And from our perspective, we will continue to be sharp and clear with them, so that there is no mistake about where things stand from our perspective.
Early this week, I asked the Ukrainian Prime Minister What Ukraine needs to win this war Take a listen to his answer.
I always say to win this war, we need three main things, weaponry, finances and sanctions, weaponry, let us protect ourselves and to go into our head to make this Condor offensives very successful contra offenses with support of our partners, but they also need sanctions because Russia now earn enough money on the gas and oil prices so we need more effective sanctions to stop fulfilled Russian terrorist country budget. We also asked our partners to recognize Russia as a terrorist country because all what they are doing in Ukraine. So it's just genocide. This is like terrorist attacks.
So right now we have five countries that are state sponsors of terror, Jake, you know this Cuba, North Korea, Iran, Syria. The Ukrainians want Russia to become a sixth country we put on that list. Why haven't we done that yet?
Well, President Biden has indicated that he is not certain that the state sponsor of terror designation specifically is the right fit for what's going on with Russia. But he's gone way beyond what we've done with some of the countries that you've listed in terms of the sheer comprehensiveness of the sanctions that were applied. So as a practical matter, whether we're talking about denying Russia access to the technologies it needs to power, its economy and its defense industrial base, cutting off its banks from the international financial system, imposing personal sanctions on to oligarchs, the President has not pulled his punches at all. So this is just a matter of a particular tool, and the degree to which the upside of it outweighs the downside, which is that it does tie the United States his hands and reduce our flexibility without adding a whole lot of economic pressure to Russia. So we'll continue to talk to the Ukrainians on this particular item. But we fully agree with Ukrainian Prime Minister who I've met with personally, that we need to continue to amp the pressure on Russia economically and we will do so.
I also want to play a clip with from my interview with the German chancellor, who believes that Putin needs to be held accountable for the atrocities taking place in Ukraine. But he's not ready to say he's lost legitimacy. Take a listen.
we're now finding mass graves and Ukraine has he lost his he already lost legitimacy on the world stage to the point that he really isn't ever going to be led back in essentially, to the global order.
We are very clear on the question of justice and we are preparing to go after all the crimes that happen and you feel be held accountable personally. We are doing the job supporting the courts. They are looking at the concrete massacres and all the very, very bad things we saw it to be and we heard that as well. I started when I was in Kyiv. And so it is necessary that we support justice and the legal system to do their job, but you're not
prepared to say he's already lost his legitimacy.
I think we are now working to make Russia understanding that they will not win this war, and that they should accept the independence and serenity of Ukraine and this is what we are doing today.
All wars have to end diplomatically at some point. At the same time. He's clearly being seen by many as a war criminal. How do you end a war diplomatically with somebody who is a war criminal? And I guess who many people believe is lost his legitimacy, though? I can you not say that until this war ends?
Look, President Biden does not mince his words, as you've seen about Vladimir Putin and his complicity in the war crimes that have been committed in Ukraine the atrocities that have been committed in Ukraine one man chose this war. One man is directing this war. One man is responsible for this war that man is Vladimir Putin. Now at the same time, it's not just the German chancellor, who has indicated that diplomacy is has got to remain on the table. President Zelensky of Ukraine has said before that ultimately, at the end of the day, this war has to end diplomatically. But we have been equally clear and you've heard this from the German Chancellor. There's got to be justice. There has to be accountability. And we need to work with Ukrainians and the international community to bring accountability for the war crimes and atrocities that have taken place. We will not rest until we have done that. That is not an easy feat with a country like Russia. But it is not something we will shy away from.
I want to ask you a question about the protests in Iran. You were in the Obama administration during the Green Revolution in 2009. You're well aware there were many folks who thought that the Obama administration then was a little slow to respond to those protests. Is the Biden administration's response. A response to that criticism way back? When is is is there going to be an attempt to be much more forward leaning on these protests going forward?
What's not part of the reason that there was a different kind of approach in 2009 was the belief that somehow if America spoke out, it would undermine the protesters not aid them. I think what we learned in the aftermath of that, is that you can overthink these things but the most important thing for the United States to do is to be firm and clear and principled in response to citizens of any country demanding their rights and dignity. And so right after these protests broke out, our administration began speaking out. And the President in fact went to the well of the United Nations, and said that the United States stands with the citizens of Iran, the women of Iran, as they demand their rights and their dignity and a better future in Iran. We have taken tangible steps to sanction the morality please who caused this young woman's death, and we've taken steps to make it easier for the Iranian people to get access to the internet and to communicate with one another and with the world. And we will keep speaking out day in and day out. Because this is a matter of fundamental justice, dignity and rights. And the United States knows which side we are on. The world needs to continue to see these protests and see what they're doing to these women to excel in
the National Security Adviser President Biden, thanks for coming on and sharing your views with us. You