3 June 2023
Michael Smerconish, CNN: (…) Zelenskyy and his country’s membership into NATO will have to wait. While visiting Finland, NATO’s newest member, Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke about Russia’s strategic failures and why imposing a ceasefire would only help Russia. NATO’s Alliance requires its countries to assist fellow members if they’re ever attacked. Of course, Poland, Ukraine’s Western neighbor has joined the fight. Poland became the first NATO member to pledge fighter jets to assist the war torn city of Kyiv back in March. A year ago, I had the privilege of being in Warsaw and spoke with (the) US Ambassador to Poland about the war efforts in Ukraine and how Poland was then helping. Well, Ambassador Mark Brzezinski is back with me now. Mr. Ambassador, great to see you again. I remember that day well. What’s changed in the last week and who’s winning?
Ambassador Brzezinski: Thank you for having me, Michael, and great to see you again. What’s changed in the last week is that NATO has expanded in a way that just emphasizes the strategic failure of Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine. Did Putin invade Ukraine to bring Sweden and Finland into NATO? No. Did Putin invade Ukraine to have 1 million Russians flee Russia: scientists, tech people, a brain drain that we see here in Poland benefiting the Polish economy, because Russian scientists quickly assimilate here. Did he invade Ukraine to have 100,000? I repeat 100,000 Russian casualties in the last six months? Oh, and Putin is all about money. So did Putin invade Ukraine to see a 43% drop in oil revenue? What we are seeing is an amplified total failure on the part of Putin regarding his decision to invade poor, weaker Ukraine. And there is no way – no way – Putin’s war in Ukraine has improved the lives and the futures of the Russian people. And that makes this a true tragedy.
Michael Smerconish, CNN: Mr. Ambassador, you know, the news far removed is always about the spring offensive or summer offensive and counter offensive. There’s never report of peace negotiations. Are there peace talks taking place between Ukraine and Russia today?
Ambassador Brzezinski: Well I was so proud that my boss, Secretary of State Tony Blinken, in a speech in Finland yesterday, welcoming Finland in its membership in NATO, made clear that diplomacy is a path Russia could choose. And every minute of every day, the American government stands ready to advance the path of diplomacy. But instead, Russia is advancing the path of aggression. What I thought was particularly important that Secretary Blinken emphasized yesterday, is that we’re going to make sure not only that the Ukrainian people win this war and survive, but that they thrive. And that when they win, it will be the biggest endorsement of political democracy and free market economy in this part of the world in 100 years. And you have to take a step back and look at this from a historical perspective, Michael. Thirty years ago, the Soviet bloc fell apart. Twenty six countries emerged out of the rubble of the Soviet bloc. Some were successful, like Poland, the Baltic states, and some were weaker, and victimizable, like Ukraine and Moldova, and others. And as you can see in the case of Ukraine, were victimized. And we are committed to a path of making sure a lasting peace includes a complete reconstruction of Ukraine and a drawing it as it wants into the Western institutional orbit. And that is the opportunity here to have a renaissance emerge out of this crime of a war in Central and Eastern Europe, where if you consider all the countries 330 million plus people live. So it’s a big block of humanity here that is being put under siege by Putin.
Michael Smerconish, CNN: Mr. Ambassador here at home, it’s game on for the 2024 election. How worried are you about continued support for Ukraine being at issue in the presidential election and potentially being jeopardized by whoever wins this thing?
Ambassador Brzezinski: Well, I can tell you this, Michael, when I was ambassador to Sweden for four years, I hosted over four years, six members of Congress. In the last year alone, here at US Mission Poland, I’ve hosted over 150 members of Congress: Republicans and Democrats, Kevin McCarthy, Nancy Pelosi, the previous speaker and the current speaker respectively. And what I have seen is that, in this crisis, politics stops at the water’s edge, and that our members of Congress, our political representatives, support the people of Ukraine. And the good part of this story is as well, the Ukrainian people are winning. They’re pushing back the, quote “organized” end quote, Russian army, in a way I don’t think anyone anticipated. And the person who called this right from the very beginning, the person who read the room when it comes to Central and Eastern Europe was President Joe Biden, who before the war broke out shared intelligence with the Poles, with the Balts, with Romanians to carefully clarify for our allies over here, what are the defensive and offensive structures of the Russian military? And what does Putin intend to do with it in Ukraine? and that decision by President Biden allowed us over here to get ready. We were ready on game day, February 24 2022, when millions of Ukrainian refugees began to pour across the border into Poland. And the reactive mobilization of the Polish people who embraced the Ukrainians: brought them into their homes and their apartments. They did that because the Poles did not feel scared. Yes, this is 1939 for Poland and Finland. This is an invasion by an oppressive foreign attacker, but this time, they are in
Michael Smerconish, CNN: I saw it.
Ambassador Brzezinski: a collective defense framework.
Michael Smerconish, CNN: I saw it.
Ambassador Brzezinski: Yes, you did.
Michael Smerconish, CNN: I saw it myself at the refugee facilities. Before I lose you, let me quickly put up on the screen a social media reaction, I’ll read it aloud and we can both respond.
Ambassador Brzezinski: Okay.
Michael Smerconish, CNN: This whole idea that Ukraine cannot attack the country that attacked them is probably the dumbest way to win a war in military history. Quick response from you: Ambassador.
Ambassador Brzezinski: Ukraine is showing the world that it knows how to fight and the people – sir or ma’am who wrote that social media post – the people who know that best are the Russian soldiers being marched into the meat grinder of Russian men in Ukraine right now.
Michael Smerconish, CNN: Nice to see you. Thank you, Mr. Ambassador, I appreciate it.
Ambassador Brzezinski: Michael, thank you, as always.