Administrator Samantha Power on CNN's Anderson Cooper 360

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Thursday, April 21, 2022

ANDERSON COOPER: Ambassador Power, Russia has pulled forces obviously out of Northern Ukraine, redirecting most of his combat power to the Donbas just overall, how do you see the conflict right now?

ADMINISTRATOR POWER: Well, on the one hand, we're starting actually to see Ukrainian civilians who had crossed into Europe returned to their homes, what's left of them, in places like the capital city of Kyiv, even in places like Bucha, where some of the worst atrocities of the war have been carried out. And we at USAID and all the donor governments around the world want to be there and meet the needs as people come home, putting plastic sheeting up instead of windows that have been shattered, making sure that they have enough food, even as markets struggle to get back on their feet. So you have that dimension. I mean, Russia lost the battle of Kyiv. And that was profoundly humiliating for Russia, but also created occasions for people to get back and to at least try to resume their lives. I should note, of course, that Russia continues to try to prevent that from happening both by having left landmines in their wake, but also, in continuing to stage long range missile attacks on places like Kyiv or even Lviv, where you spend so much time. So you have that dimension, then you have the same issues that we've talked about throughout this conflict, which is the use of siege as a weapon of war in places like Mariupol. And so these are places that have been under siege since early March, we're talking now six or seven weeks without a flow of food, water, medicine, fuel into those civilians who remain. And you heard David Beasley, the head of the World Food Program, just in the last couple of days, saying that people are actually starving to death in those besieged areas.

ANDERSON COOPER: Russia has also promised to destroy weapons and aid shipments coming into Ukraine from other European countries. Have you, have we seen any of that? I mean, have they actually done any of that?

ADMINISTRATOR POWER: Well, my emphasis, as you can imagine, is keeping the humanitarian assistance channel, and channels because there are many now completely separate from the security assistance channels. And we see a lot of claims from the Russian Federation that everything coming over the border is oriented around the military campaign. And that's just not the case. You know, we're flowing all kinds of supplies of everything from anti-retroviral medicines for HIV AIDS patients, to, you know, basic food staples, to shelter and reconstruction equipment and supplies that will allow people to begin to rebuild their homes. So we've got to keep those supplies coming. The international community, the humanitarian community that we all know well, from other conflicts is now stood up. But they are really having a hard time accessing the eastern part of the country where Russia is gearing up for its huge offensive, and then the South, these areas that have been besieged, but everywhere else, again, we got to keep those supplies going. And those attacks on places like Lviv, where 65 humanitarian organizations have set up shop, I mean, those attacks pose grave risks to people who are just going to try to provide food, shelter medicine,

ANDERSON COOPER: There's also obviously ripple effects of this, Russia, Ukraine are major producers of food, including wheat, how you've got to be hugely concerned about global potential global food crisis as a result of this war, whether it's in Africa or in the Middle East, or really all around the world. Is there anything that can be done to offset the loss of these crops?

ADMINISTRATOR POWER: Well, first of all, what's amazing is that Ukrainian farmers are out there actually, you know, trying to plant for the next season and trying to harvest. And they're doing so in some cases, in flak jackets, with de-miners by their side. So intentional was the Russian Federation's attempt to take Ukrainian food supplies offline, you know, again, mining so many areas. So we are trying to support those farmers, make sure they have the inputs and the seeds and so forth to plant for the next season and to look ahead. But you're absolutely right, the cascading effects of Putin's invasion are devastating, and there's no other way around it. Some of the estimates are that more than 40 million people will be thrown into poverty, just by one man's decision to invade his neighbor. And what we will do is surge emergency food assistance. We are working the phones trying to get other countries that contribute to food stocks around the world to put more supplies out there. So the price has come down, particularly those who produce fertilizer or wheat along the lines of what Ukraine has done for so long. So that's really important, but it's also just going to take plain old humanitarian assistance. And that's what's so tragic Anderson, as you know, countries don't want to be receiving humanitarian assistance when they can grow their own crops and feed their own people. But when fertilizer prices skyrocket when wheat that they're accustomed to buying, you know, becomes out of reach, inaccessible, or the prices, you know, go up, then they're in a position for the first time in some instances to have to ask for help. And so we want to be in a position to provide that help. But it can't be the United States alone. Every country has to step up.

ANDERSON COOPER: Ambassador Samantha Power of USAID thank you so much. Appreciate it.


Last updated: June 24, 2022

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