Thursday, December 15, 2022



MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Joining us now USAID Administrator Samantha Power. Really good to see you. Good to have you on the show. Let’s talk about where we are with aid to Ukraine. There is a great deal being done, but this war – it has a pretty long runway.

ADMINISTRATOR POWER: Yeah, I mean, something major actually happened this week in Europe – beyond what is happening every day in Ukraine and the bravery of the Ukrainian people – which is Europe has now just stepped up to agree – it has to get formally across the finish line but – basically to agree on next year providing $19 billion in direct budget support to the Government of Ukraine. So, you know, Putin has thought that he could weaken the resolve of the Ukrainian people, he’s thought that all along – mistake. He also thought that he could divide the allies. But we see not only moves on Capitol Hill to move forward with additional security and financial assistance, but also in Europe at scale. It’s very important.

JONATHAN LEMIRE: Ambassador, let’s talk a little bit about the status of play in Ukraine. There’s been debate about weapons systems the U.S. is going to be shipping there, potentially the Patriot missiles, an agreement on that may come as soon as today. Weigh in on the specifics on that, if you will. But more than that, just what you’re seeing on the situation on the ground. We know that Russia has escalated their attacks on civilian targets particularly trying to put Ukraine into darkness as a very cold winter sets in. What sort of humanitarian crisis could we be looking at?

ADMINISTRATOR POWER: It’s pretty stark. I mean, the stated objective of the Russian Federation is so called de-electrification. I mean, they’re very open about, in the sense, embodying a war crime in a military objective, attacks on civilian infrastructure in an intentional way. I mean, that’s war crimes 101. So, what we are focused on at USAID is how do we help the Ukrainians repair that infrastructure when it goes down? They’re unbelievably fast. They’re unbelievably resilient. But again, the drones keep coming, the missiles keep coming. And that's why the supplemental request actually pending right now before Congress – that I hope will get done before Congress breaks – is really important because it’s additional assistance to help us, at USAID, buy generators, to buy miles and miles of pipes so as to facilitate those repairs. The Ukrainians will do the work. It’s just a question of giving them the support they need. With regard to the Patriots, that’s not my lane, certainly. And it’s not something that we have an announcement on at this time.

EDDIE GLAUDE: Ambassador Power, this is Eddie Glaude. I wanted to ask you about the U.S.-African Leaders Summit. Why now? What is significant, what will be some of the deliverables? We know that the Belt Road Initiative, China has had a really serious impact in Africa and as well as in the Caribbean. Why this particular summit at this moment? And what should we expect from it?

ADMINISTRATOR POWER: Well, first of all, Africa has so much potential to unlock – the youngest continent in the world, fastest digitizing continent, vast natural resources and also right now, of course, there are a lot of needs, exacerbated by Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, food insecurity, food prices, fuel prices – skyrocketing. So, this summit we hear mainly about the former, mainly about the opportunities – there was a big deal room yesterday with private sector leaders engaging with Heads of State – cooking up deals, you know, on the digital, on drawing investment and other capital to Africa – I mean, the growth rates before the pandemic were off the charts. These are real opportunities in emerging markets for U.S. companies. So, there’s that dimension of it – and USAID tries to facilitate electrification in places where there hasn’t been access to renewable energy and so forth. But at the same time, Somalia, for example, is facing famine in parts of the country, and so trying also to use the Summit as a fora to issue a call to the world to provide humanitarian support to help them get through this very difficult time. At the same time, those larger investments are made to unlock the potential longer term.

JOE SCARBOROUGH: Administrator Power, what does the United States need to do when Congress reconvenes when the President and congressional leaders are meeting? What is the greatest need for the people of Ukraine right now? What can we do? How can we make a difference in their daily lives?

ADMINISTRATOR POWER: I think we have the template, Joe, which is a combination of continuing security assistance support as every phase of this military battle on the ground is different. And so the context that General Austin – Secretary Austin – and you know, our military advisors, the intelligence relationship, all of that – is incredibly important for one battlefront – which is the obvious one, the military battlefront. But at the same time, there’s another battlefront, which is Ukraine is still getting on with the business of strengthening its democracy. And that’s where the other forms of assistance come in – for example, what USAID does – we’re still helping them vet judges, build anti-corruption institutions – that’s also very important for the assistance that's going in, because we want to make sure it's well spent. We're supporting an independent media – they’re looking into not only what the Russians are doing in terms of war crimes, but also, you know, holding the Ukrainian government and Ukrainian authorities to account. We’ve seen that so much of the strength of this war effort comes from the self-organization that goes on community by community – you know, to shelter people who’ve been displaced, to help farmers who have lost their machinery get access to loans so that they can replace that machinery and get back to plowing their fields and harvesting their grains. So you know, there are these two fronts and I think when you ask about Congress, the packages so far have been comprehensive on what people focus on you know, which weapons system this day or that day. But all of this support – to help the Ukrainians pay first responders, keep the lights on, you know, repair those pipes when they go down, have heating facilities to again enhance that resilience over winter – all of this goes together as a package.

MIKA BRZEZINSKI: USAID Administrator Samantha Power, thank you for coming on the show this morning. We really appreciate it.


Samantha Power USAID Response in Ukraine
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