Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Anderson Cooper 360

ANDERSON COOPER: Joining me tonight is Samantha Power, the Administrator for U.S. Agency for International Development. Administrator Power, I appreciate you being with us. I want to start with the images of a little boy from the story that Clarissa Ward filed this week in Mykolaiv. It's one of probably hundreds of scenes like this playing out across Ukraine right now – a little boy helping move some wreckage from a missile strike in that city. It’s likely to get worse, obviously, with winter coming. When you look at these images, what is the U.S. at this point doing about it?

ADMINISTRATOR POWER: Well, Anderson, thank you first of all for highlighting the stories because it shows the solidarity of Ukrainians on the ground. I was there a few weeks ago in Kyiv. And the morale is off the charts, which is counterintuitive given what the people are going through. Part of that is battlefield success but part of it is everybody finding a way to chip in and be part of this kind of self-organization. 

Obviously, the effects of the war are devastating, searing, and the loss of life, and the sexual violence, and you know, every day these attacks on civilian infrastructure take their toll. In terms of the U.S. contribution, first of all, the security assistance is making a major difference on the ground and contributing to the battlefield successes, but it's the bravery of the Ukrainians that is driving that. 

We at USAID, on behalf of the U.S. government, are providing direct budget support to the Ukrainian government because of course they're not taking in the revenue that they would have before the conflict. The number of businesses that have been shut down, the number of jobs that have been lost. So even just paying health workers and civil servants, and keeping the lights on, and the state functioning is a really important part of winning this war. And then the humanitarian assistance for people who've been displaced for people – who two weeks ago might have had a home in a big apartment building. But you've seen, again, what the Russians have done targeting large city centers and town centers and the displacement that that causes. 

Winter is going to be really tough and I think that's our collective focus now is, you know, with the attacks on electricity, with the loss of potential heating, the loss of electricity, power – we're looking at supporting as many repairs as quickly as possible, and looking, of course to other donors to chip in as well. But you can hear in Zelenskyy the urgency of thinking about how we maintain this morale, maintain the support – given that Putin is showing no signs of de-escalating or really being willing to negotiate.

ANDERSON COOPER: I know, obviously, you're focused on humanitarian aid. We just heard the Russian Ambassador to the UK with Christiane Amanpour and if Vladimir Putin uses some sort of nuclear device that would, obviously, cause unthinkable human suffering. How concerned are you about that possibility? And just the meat grinder that this war has become, how long, and there is no end in sight or even no clear off ramp of how an end could even come to be in sight?

ADMINISTRATOR POWER: Well, we are, again, focused on the immediate humanitarian needs. And those are overwhelming. I mean, just the estimates of the damage caused since this last spate of attacks on civilian infrastructure is in the hundreds of millions and that's on top of the hundreds of billions already estimated in need. 

But again, part of keeping morale in a position where there can be the kind of support that is needed to stand up to this aggression requires support in all sectors. We're still doing anti-corruption work as well and supporting independent media. Because we know also, in putting this much assistance into the country – that's really important, that there be oversight and accountability. That's important up on Capitol Hill. It's important to the American people. But it's also that's what this war is about in many ways – with that's what threatened Putin so much was the anti corruption work, was the democratization, was the integration into Europe. So, we have to, notwithstanding the battles that are going on, you know, and the security crisis, which is so grave, that Ukraine is still embarking on this goal of becoming a stable and prosperous democracy. 

And I know that sounds surreal to be thinking about doing that at the same time this war is afoot. But there are people every day in Ukraine who are focused on that task while the soldiers are focused on winning the war.

ANDERSON COOPER: That's really fascinating. Samantha Power, Administrator, thank you. Appreciate it.

ADMINISTRATOR POWER: Thank you, Anderson.

Samantha Power Anderson Cooper 360
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