June 14th, 2015
11:04 AM ET

UN Ambassador Samantha Power believes that there could be a possibility of Russia invasion in Ukraine

The following transcript is of an exclusive interview with United States Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power. She discussed if Russia is planning to invade Ukraine, how Ukraine plans to combat against Russia, the United Nation’s end game, and her response to the Wall Street Journal article about her job performance.

Videos, text highlights, and a full transcript of the discussion are below.

MANDATORY CREDIT for reference and usage: “CNN’s Fareed Zakaria GPS”

VIDEOS

UN Ambassador, Samantha Power on Russia and Ukraine

Samantha Power’s response to the Wall Street Journal article on her job performance

TEXT HIGHLIGHTS

Power on if there are signs that Russia plans to invade Ukraine: “Russia has already lopped off part of Ukraine, or attempted to, in its annexation of Crimea, justified by a phony referendum that gave voters two choices - join Russia or be fully independent. And then in Eastern Ukraine, you've already seen the flow of, you know, thousands and thousands of tons of weapons, rocket launchers, artillery, surface to air missile sites. Recently, a Russian UAV was downed.  And, of course, UAVs don't fall from the sky in Donetsk or Luhansk.  Those require great sophistication in terms of operation and in terms of bringing them to bear in a conflict. So a lot of the facts on the ground have been created by Russia.  …in this period since the Minsk agreements back in February, it's clear that Russia has made an effort to wage a kind of train and equip program that will leave the separatists also with much more sophisticated command and control.”

Power on Ukraine building itself up: “They are embarking upon a major reform effort to try to get the economy in shape, to try to fight corruption, break up the monopolies, take on the oligarchs. … it's quite extraordinary the extent to which they're compartmentalizing, on the one hand, the need to defend against a potential ramp up in Russian aggression, but on the other, recognizing that their best defense, over time, is to get their democracy in order.”

Power’s response to the Wall Street Journal’s article criticizing her job performance: “I'm focused on the job that I've got to do every day. I think if you talk to the people of South Sudan or The Central African Republic or certainly if you were to come to Ukraine, you would hear a very - a very different message about the Obama administration and what we’ve done on behalf of their rights, in order to prevent atrocities. So my focus is on the next year and a half and making sure we get as much done as we can in the time we have available to us.”

FULL INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPT

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

FAREED ZAKARIA, HOST: The United States Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, spent the better part of the week in Ukraine, where tensions with Russia are once again spiking to dangerous levels. Ukraine's president, Poroshenko, told his military last week that it must be prepared for a full-scale invasion along the border with Russia. He had earlier said that summer was the most likely time for such an event, and summer starts in just a week's time.

As for Power, she has long been a critic of Russia's actions against its neighbor and tweeted this week that the U.S. stands with Ukraine on countering Russian aggression.

Ambassador Power joins me exclusively now from Kiev.

Ambassador, first, give us a sense of how dangerous it is that this cold war could actually get quite hot. Are there actual signs that Russia is planning an invasion?

SAMANTHA POWER, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO U.N.: Well, let's be clear that over the course of the last year and a half, Russia has already lopped off part of Ukraine, or attempted to, in its annexation of Crimea, justified by a phony referendum that gave voters two choices - join Russia or be fully independent. So that's where this all started.

And then in Eastern Ukraine, you've already seen the flow of, you know, thousands and thousands of tons of weapons, rocket launchers, artillery, surface to air missile sites. Recently, a Russian UAV was downed, and, of course, UAVs don't fall from the sky in Donetsk or Luhansk.  Those require great sophistication in terms of operation and in terms of bringing them to bear in a conflict. So a lot of the facts on the ground have been created by Russia.

And in this period since the Minsk agreements back in February, it's clear that Russia has made an effort to wage a kind of train and equip program that will leave the separatists also with much more sophisticated command and control.

ZAKARIA: If there were a Russian escalation, whether irregulars or actual Russian forces, would the United States militarily provide assistance to the Ukrainian government?

POWER: Fareed, we're not focused on hypotheticals; we're focused on the Minsk agreements, which were signed by all the relevant parties, including the Russian Federation, including President Putin at the helm. And implementation is the key. That's why we are hopeful and have reason to believe that Europe will re-up the sanctions, isolating President Putin, inflicting costs for the aggression that has been carried out, first against Crimea and then, of course, against Eastern Ukraine.

But the one thing I really want to stress is that the Ukrainian people here are also getting on with it. They are embarking upon a major reform effort to try to get the economy in shape, to try to fight corruption, break up the monopolies, take on the oligarchs.

And it's quite extraordinary the extent to which they're compartmentalizing, on the one hand, the need to defend against a potential ramp up in Russian aggression, but on the other, recognizing that their best defense, over time, is to get their democracy in order, which has really struggled over many decades.

ZAKARIA: You say in your speech this week that the Kremlin made some serious miscalculations - miscalculated that Ukrainians would have resolve and resilience. But isn't it fair to say that Washington - that you also miscalculated? The economic sanctions have not altered Putin's strategic calculus. His popularity ratings have hit new highs. He does not seem in any way to be backing down. You know, isn't that a miscalculation?

POWER: I think it's fair to say that sanctions, as a general proposition, take time to bite and to change calculuses. So it's true that President Putin has his own way of doing business. But it's also true that if you look at where sanctions have worked elsewhere in the world, whether Serbia, the Iran sanctions regime, even dating back to apartheid, it does take time for sanctions to affect the calculus. What is true up to this point is that they've had a great effect, a very significant effect, on the Russian economy

And it's very important to note, we don't want sanctions, right? Our end state is to see Minsk implementation. We would like nothing more than for everybody to take an off-ramp and, you know, begin to restore diplomatic relations. But that's going to require Ukraine regaining sovereignty over its international border.

ZAKARIA: So the end game, the solution is Russia gets to keep Crimea, but it has to get out of Eastern Ukraine in substantial part?

POWER: No. The end game in terms of Eastern Ukraine is the Minsk agreements. Crimea, we've been very clear, the U.N. maps are never going to change. Crimea is part of Ukraine. It has been part of Ukraine. It will remain part of Ukraine.

ZAKARIA: Ambassador, while I have you, there's a very tough article in the Wall Street Journal about your tenure last week. It was called "The Obama Doctrine's U.N. Failure." And it argues that despite having been a very eloquent and intelligent critic of the Bush administration on U.N. reform, on multilateralism, on human rights interventions, your own tenure has been marked by failure in all those areas, particularly the responsibility to protect civilians in places like Syria and Ukraine that ultimately, you haven't delivered for them. What would you say to that?

POWER: I'm focused on the job that I've got to do every day. I think if you talk to the people of South Sudan or The Central African Republic or certainly if you were to come to Ukraine, you would hear a very - a very different message about the Obama administration and what we’ve done on behalf of their rights, in order to prevent atrocities.

So my focus is on the next year and a half and making sure we get as much done as we can in the time we have available to us.

The fact that there's been an awful lot of aggression carried out by regimes that have committed unspeakable atrocities is not exactly something I think that can accrue to any one individual, but it is incumbent on us to call out those regimes and to look at the tools in the toolbox and try to get as many deployed as we can to protect people in the time that we have.

ZAKARIA: Ambassador Samantha Powers, pleasure to have you on.

POWER: Thanks, Fareed.

END INTERVIEW


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