STEPHANIE RUHLE (Host):
And with that, let`s bring in our experts this evening, Retired Four Star U.S. Army General, Barry McCaffrey, a decorated combat Veteran of Vietnam and a former Battlefield Commander in the Persian Gulf, William Taylor joins us, former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, he`s also the United States Institute of Peace Vice President for Russian and Europe, and Garry Kasparov, he grew up in the Soviet Union, he saw and opposed Vladimir PU-man rise to power. Now, he is a Political Activist, Chairman of the Human Rights Foundation and the Renewed Democracy Initiative, and, of course, you know him as a World Chess Champion.
General McCaffrey, I will start with you. Yesterday, we reported another $800 million in military aid headed to Ukraine. Tonight, Russia is warning, the United States and our NATO allies, to stop sending weapons and threatening what he is calling unpredictable consequences. What does that even mean?
GEN. BARRY MCCAFFREY, U.S. ARMY (RET.):
Not much. Poor Mr. PU-man is desperate, he`s scared, he doesn`t have all options. Strategically, he has already nearly lost the war. NATO has come together, rearming Germany, doubling their defense budget, Sweden and Finland are about to come on board. He`s in a disastrous situation.
U.S.-European command headed by Air Force Four Star Wolters is pumping military equipment across that border. 50 nations are taking part, it`s a U.S. and individual 15-nation operation and Ukrainians are putting it into the fighters hands in short order.
The jury is out in how this thing is going to come out, but this is an incredible display of NATO standing behind a struggling democracy fighting for its life.
Ambassador, should we look at PU-man`s warning and interpret it as an escalation of this conflict on Moscow`s part?
WILLIAM TAYLOR, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO UKRAINE:
Stephanie, I don`t think so. They have made these kinds of threats and others on many occasions. They -- exactly what General McCaffrey said, they are in a hole. They`ve lost in every time they have been after Kyiv. They`ve just been pushed out of that area back into Belarus, back into Russia.
This embarrassment of the sinking of the Moskva and the elation of the Ukrainians, the boost of morale for the Ukrainians, this is all just going badly for the Russians. And then making these threats, of course, they don`t like the fact that there is a lot of weapons coming in from the west into Ukraine, and that needs to continue.
Garry, The Washington Post also reports on this alarming change in Russia`s propaganda messaging, which you know very well. As its troops are struggling in Ukraine, the Post writes this. On state television, a military analyst doubled down on Russia`s need to win and called for concentration camps for Ukrainians that opposed to the invasion. That report also says other commentators have doubled down on describing Ukrainians as Nazis.
All of that is ridiculous but it`s what the Russian people are seeing. Why is this -- why is the rhetoric even headed in this direction? Why now?
GARRY KASPAROV, RUSSIAN PRO-DEMOCRACY LEADER:
What else? As has been said here a few minutes ago, the war has strategically lost. Strategically is one story, NATO is getting stronger and Ukraine`s army is getting stronger also. But as of now, PU-man's troops can still inflict huge damage on Ukraine.
And the fact is he appointed General Dvornikov, known as the Butcher of Syria, as his head man in Ukraine, shows that they will stop at nothing to show at least something by May 9th which, by the way, was not the real date of German capitulation but Stalin didn`t want to celebrated at the same day as the free world on May 8. So, he came up with his own date on May 9th.
And as in Syria, the Russians used every tool at their disposal, carpet bombing, heavy missiles, and I think that the use of chemical weapons cannot be excluded. Again, General Dvornikov had this experience in Syria.
RUHLE: Garry, you have been very critical of the U.S. and our allies in the past saying were simply not enough.
Has your view change at all? We`re doing a lot more since you and I last spoke.
Absolutely, things have been changing. I think now, was -- we are no longer discussing the principles of giving Ukraine real weapons. And we stopped this useless conversation about defensive, offensive weapons. It`s about timing now.
So, I have to give credit to the U.S. and President Biden for eventually getting on board and taking the lead. Though we will all know that many of the decisions might be wrong decisions made by this administration, where based on poor advice coming from CIA and Pentagon that heavily underestimated the strength of Ukrainian army. And believe that the war would be over in four, or five days.
Certainly not, here we are. Day 51 and what happened? The loss of that Russian warship. General, how much of a military setback is that? Is it really just symbolic and huge emotional or morale boosting win for Ukrainians? Or is it serious business in terms of the loss?
Well I think it`s also a huge boost for Ukrainian morale. And by the way, I have no doubt in my own life for having followed this for the last 24 hours, Ukrainian sunk the ship with two Neptune missiles at a deception operation. It was a very clever, aggressive move. And there`s also unconfirmed rumors that much of that ship`s party were lost at sea. So, we need to listen to it in the coming day.
But, look, that was the flagship, that was not only pounding Ukrainian civilians with cruise missiles for 1,000 miles inland, it was also part of the air defense protection of 21 Russian combatant and amphibious ships. That`s how the logistics was getting in, the support the Russian army in fighting Mariupol. So, this is a big hole just got knocked in their capability.
The rest of the fleet has now withdrawn 80 miles away from the coast. So, this is a real military setback to the Russian -- to PU-man`s forces.
NBC`s Molly Hunter recently talked to a Ukrainian about Russia`s -- excuse me, Russia`s Navy efforts to take the city of Odessa. We have seen videos for days of those ships sort of trolling the shoreline back and forth. And the Ukrainians she spoke to was simply not having it. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MOLLY HUNTER, NBC NEWS FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT:
"We will kill them, drowned them, he says. They have no options.
So, you don`t think they can take Odessa? We will sink them and it will be fish feeding season, he says. And our fish will grow fat."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
Our fish will grow fat. Ambassador, how big of a win is this for Ukrainian morale?
Stephanie, I heard, first thing this morning from several -- two of my friends in Ukraine, and they were both ecstatic. Both were military, one was former defense minister, the other is in the military right now.
They knew exactly what was going on. Gen. McCaffrey exactly right. They knew it was their own Neptune that they created, they`ve manufactured, they were so proud. They were so hot. They knew the big problem is coming. They -- and one of my friends is on the line out in Izyum.
So, they are aware of this big battle that is coming. But this was an enormous boost for them this morning.
Garry, how concerned are you that this is so humiliating for PU-man he will truly seek revenge? He could bomb Ukraine`s railways. He could do some really twisted stuff. He does not like being humiliated.
Oh, it`s humiliation and he will try to do his best. But, again, he lost his flagship. And as the general just pointed out, Russian warships have been used as the prime source of firing missiles to Ukraine.
They actually cause more damage than Russian bombers. That had to fly too high just on low altitude because they`re vulnerable for technology that was supplied to Ukraine by Americans and European allies.
But also I think it will -- it`s not just a boost for Ukrainians. I think it sends panic to Russian sailors, to Russian troops. Because the fact is that the Russian flagship was hit by two, let`s be honest, by old-fashioned missiles.
So, and, yes clever, deception operation, I heard, it but it`s a clearly sign of negligence. They were so confident that they were out of any danger. They were shelling Ukrainian cities and they thought, okay, how can Ukrainians even shoot at us?
And I think it may have serious consequences for the morale of Russian fleets, Russian Navy. And without the strategic advantage of the Russian Navy offered to PU-man`s armies, I think they will soon find themselves in great, great trouble.
General, let`s look ahead. We`ve been talking about what`s coming next, what the Russians are preparing for. What are you watching for as we are heading into this next phase of war?
Well, can the Ukrainian generals, who have been extremely good, and our tactical leadership, and these sergeants, they created an NSO (ph) core, can they deal with armored warfare, a war of fire and maneuver?
We are now finally getting longer distance weapons and there through them, self-propelled 115 artillery weapons. But the Ukrainians have been doing hybrid warfare. They`ve been using extremely good special operations force guerrilla units, but it`s been urban defense. Now, they have got a war of maneuver against the Russians who have masses armor.
I`m encouraged, however, though the Ukrainians have recalled 200,000 territorial forces. We are now rushing to arm them, body armor, small arm, anti tank missiles. The ratio of forces is actually one-on-one now. The only place for Russians have a serious advantage is a five-fold advantage in air power.
So, the battle is about to be joined in the coming 30 to 90 days, the existence of the Ukrainian army is the vital outcome. Can they defeat the Russians and still be a force in being?
Gentlemen, before we go, Garry, I want to ask you about PU-man's opponent Vladimir Kara-Mrzka. He is now under arrest. Do you have any update? Do any know anything about his situation?
No, not -- nothing I can add to what you already know. The only question remains unanswered is whether these arrests for 15 days prison was a last warning, basically telling him get out of the country, or he will not see daylight out of prison because they will come up in 15 days with criminal charge against him. I hope for the former, but you never know.
You never know, but we hope for the best. Gentlemen, thank you so much for starting us off this evening, General Barry McCaffrey, Ambassador William Taylor and Garry Kasparov.