Oct 19, 2022
Putin Declares Martial Law In Four Illegally Annexed Ukrainian Regions Transcript
The dramatic escalation by Russian President Vladimir Putin was made after days of brutal strikes across Ukraine. Read the transcript here.
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This morning a dramatic escalation by Russian President Vladimir Putin after days of brutal strikes across Ukraine. Speaking to his security council, Putin said he’s declaring martial law in four Ukrainian regions that Russia recently annexed illegally.
Meanwhile, evacuations are underway in the Russian-held city of Kherson at the south. That’s at the urging of the Russian-installed governor. Russia’s top military commander in Ukraine warned overnight of an impending Ukrainian counteroffensive to retake the region. However, the head of Ukrainian President Zelenskyy’s office pushed back on those comments this morning, calling them “fake news and a propaganda show.”
Let’s go to NBC’s Cal Perry. He’s joining us live in Kiev. I’m also joined by Igor Novikov, former advisor to Ukrainian President Zelenskyy, as well as General Barry McCaffrey, retired four-star general and an MSNBC military analyst. Glad to welcome you all.
Cal, I understand that you reported hearing more loud explosions in and around Kiev this morning. What’s happened since then?
Cal Perry (00:58):
Yeah, so it’s a combination of rockets and drones today. The Russians are sending these rockets and drones in waves trying to overwhelm air defense. Yesterday it was drones. Today it was a combination of the both. According to the government, eight rockets fired. Six were shot down by air defense, and 10 drones fired from Belarus, all of which were shot down by air defense.
The Russians continue to try to send these drones, these bombs into the city. Sometimes they hit infrastructure targets. Sometimes they miss and hit residential buildings, like the one that you see on your screen. So the death toll continues to rise, not just here, but across the country. In just the past 24 hours, there have been 10 people killed at least in the capital, another dozen or so wounded. The numbers of what we’re hearing from the Ukrainian government on the number of drones being sent in is stunning. In just the past month, more than 230 drones have been shot down. It gives you an indication of, again, these waves of which we are seeing these attacks, Alex.
Yeah, well, I’ll tell you. Just those report, those stats from just this morning, 100% success shooting down the drones, 75% success shooting down the missiles. That is at least some good news there.
But Igor, help us make heads or tails of what is happening in Kherson there in the south, because overnight we heard from the top Russian military commander appearing to make a rare admission of some difficulties. But now the head of Zelenskyy’s office is calling this propaganda. So help us understand what’s really going on.
Igor Novikov (02:19):
Well, in my humble opinion, I think Putin is setting up the main theater of war in the Southern Ukraine in Kherson. So basically, martial law. Putin himself, he claims it’s a formality, but I think it’s he’s got three main objectives. He’s after, first of all, it’s basically a prelude to genocide because it’s a filtration event. So basically what he wants to do, he wants to forcibly enlist Ukrainian men from Kherson and other regions in temporary occupied territories to actually fight Ukraine, to force them to do that. He needs to get rid of the population that is not pro-Russian, and martial law helps with that a lot.
I think he’s also setting up the theatrics in the run up to the G20. That’s very important to understand. In the beginning of November, you’re going to have two major events. You’re going to have midterms in the US and you’re going to have G20. Putin is desperate to freeze this war. I think we’re going to see lots of atrocities, lots of theatrics. The war’s going to go really brutal, but we’re coping quite well.
General, a couple of points that Igor makes there, and I’m really disheartened to hear the word genocide. That is a brutal word to apply here, but I think he’s unfortunately accurate. Also that G20 meeting when you will have President Biden and President Putin in the same space, that’s going to be a drama showdown to watch. But what’s your reaction to Igor’s comment about genocide, sir? Do you think that is a buildup and that indeed is what Vladimir Putin is doing?
General Barry McCaffrey (03:44):
Well, I’m not sure I’d use the word genocide so much as there are no bounds to Putin’s behavior. Certainly this declaration of martial law, the purpose behind it to in a major way advance the interests of the Russian Army to forcibly enlist Ukrainian or Russian-speaking people in these [inaudible 00:04:06].
I might add that he also declared certain vague, unspecified emergency measures inside Russia. Look, Putin’s got a major problem. The wheels have come off his army. It’s hard to understand how he can fix it. Logistically, it’s a mess. Their manufacture of technologically advanced systems is coming apart. They’re forcibly gang-pressing people into the Russian armed forces, ill-trained, ill-equipped. He’s running out of options.
So I think primarily Putin now is worried he may lose Kherson in the South and with it potentially as many as 15,000 Russian troops. It’s a disaster for the Russians. He doesn’t know how to back out of it. He’s got increasing amounts of domestic opposition to this stupid criminal war. We’re going to see some major crises develop where the poor Ukrainian people are now being targeted. Not the Ukrainian military, but the Ukrainian people with heat, power, light. It’s going to be an ugly mess this winter.
Yeah. What about you, Igor, with regard to the UN Security Council, which is expected to hold a closed door meeting today on those Iranian-supplied kamikaze drones? They’ve been pummeling key cities in recent days. What international response do you want to see specifically when it comes to Iran’s role here?
Igor Novikov (05:35):
Well, first of all, in terms of response, I prefer the words practical rather than other institutions that just do the talking. So UN Security Council is great, but it’s not going to make any difference.
On the other hand, our air defense systems, the new ones that we’re getting, are actually making a lot of difference. So that’s primarily the response I want to see.
Now, in terms of Iranian drones, I think Europe should be worried because they are marked with Russian military marks. They openly fly into Ukraine. But if one is unmarked and flies into NATO territory, that would be quite a challenge to deal with.
Last but not least, if I may say, I used the word genocide there intentionally. Let me prove a point. The right referendum in occupied territories in Ukraine would be if Putin does what Zelenskyy did in Kiev on the first day of the war. Why doesn’t he distribute automatic weapons to civilians? That would be the truest and the fastest referendum ever. He’s not doing it. He’s doing the opposite. He wants to enlist the people. He wants to get rid of all the anti-Russian population, basically just get the territories, not the population. That’s the objective.
Interesting assessment there. General, let me ask you quickly, sir, about the Ukrainian air force. You heard the claims, having shot down more than 200 of those drones. Can you talk about the military capabilities, what all is needed to take down these weapons? Especially look at the rate by which they seem to be used right now.
General Barry McCaffrey (07:06):
Ukrainian air defense has been just unbelievable. They’ve put it together on the fly, a makeshift combination of Western European technology and domestic S-300 anti-aircraft systems. It is unbelievable to me that Russia, which started the war with five times the air power of Ukraine, has never gained air dominance over Ukraine, a fundamental failure of the Russian armed forces. Now they’re primarily battering civilian targets by firing missiles from inside Belarus in the north, from inside the Russian Federation, and from out at sea in the Black Sea from Russian naval forces.
So what we desperately need to do is not just advanced technology for air defense to Ukraine, but also to give them the ATACMS missile with a 300-mile strike range so the Ukrainians can go after these deeper targets of ammunition depots and command and control facilities. It is ultimate hypocrisy for Ukraine to suffer savage air assault, but for us to claim, well, Russia and the Crimea are off limits in some way. We need to give the Ukrainians advanced strike capabilities and precision munitions.