Ambassador Mark Brzezinski’s Interview with CNN

9 April 2022

Michael Smerconish, CNN: Is there anything left in the cookie jar of sanctions that we have not already hit them with?

Ambassador Brzezinski: Thank you for having me. And greetings from Warsaw, Poland. One of the most impacted countries by this crisis? There are more things that we can do. But I think it’s important to understand that sanctions take time to work. And the goal of those sanctions is to really press those around Vladimir Putin, to press those government officials, those financial elites, those business leaders, those tech professionals in the demographic, supporting Putinism and supporting this invasion, but they take time to have effect;  they take time for the people who are targeted to feel the pain; and they are thankfully not our only tool. I think the Department of Treasury has been terrific in identifying almost 400 people and entities around Putin to press and to press hard, while at the same time supplying the Ukrainian fighters who have shown the world that they know how to fight.

Michael Smerconish, CNN: Is the incremental approach deliberate and if not, why isn’t the full kitchen sink already in?

Ambassador Brzezinski: I think the incremental approach is deliberate because we’re trying to get President Putin to do a diplomatic off ramp from this crisis. And we’re ratcheting them up severely as this crisis gets more severe. Now, of course, Kramatorsk, Bucha: they raise everything to new levels. And I think what we’re gonna see is a maximum imposition of these sanctions but again, Mike, they take time to work. There’s few places on earth that want this to stop more than here in Poland. I’m in the city, the capital city of Warsaw, Poland. 10% of the population of this city, is now recently arrived Ukrainian refugees, hoping praying to go home, as soon as this war is over, and as soon as the Russians are thrown out, but unfortunately, it takes time to stop this invasion because sanctions take time to work. That’s the unfortunate fact about sanctions.

Michael Smerconish, CNN: Mr. Ambassador yesterday on my radio program, John Lynch founder of this group called Corporate Aid for Ukraine, join me from Krakow and told me unbelievable stories about the Polish people and the lengths to which they have gone without oversight, you know, outside the purview of formal groups that do this. Instead, just people responding and providing whatever assistance they can to Ukrainians who have had to flee their country. I know you’re seeing it every day. Share that with the audience.

Ambassador Brzezinski: Sure. And I just really want to share this to my fellow Americans, through you, Mike, there is a historic epic story ongoing here in Poland. Poland is a country that has been victimized by Nazism, by Communism. The world’s greatest crimes, the Holocaust, have occurred here. And what you see here now are former victims rushing to the border to help victims.  It’s young people, middle aged people, old people getting into their cars, going to the border to pick up literally millions of Ukrainians pouring across the eight border crossings, like Medyka, Korczowa, near Przemysl in eastern Poland and taking them to their apartments, to their homes. And what’s amazing is that it is a national policy of the government of Poland to put people into homes as soon as they arrive here, not to put them in refugee centers, or have them stay in the parks or something like that. They’re put in people’s homes and they’re given a stipend.  They’re given access to education. They’re given access to health care, and importantly, they’re given access to the job market. And one of the things I’ve been working with John on is aligning the business community, the Polish business community, the American business community, and the international business community to see what it is they can do together to build jobs and opportunities for these newest residents of Poland, the refugees from Ukraine.

Michael Smerconish, CNN: Such a sad story, but what a silver lining and what a credit to the Polish people. Thank you, Mr. Ambassador, I appreciate your report.