(CBS News) Below is a transcript of "Face the Nation" from March 16, 2014. Guests include Margaret Brennan, Seth Doane, Bob Orr, Capt. Chesley Sullenberger, Mark Rosenker, Rep. Mike Rogers, Tom Donilon, Elizabeth Palmer, Charlie D'Agata, Bobby Ghosh, Anne Gearan and Michael Gerson.
ANNOUNCER: From CBS News in Washington, FACE THE NATION with Bob Schieffer.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Today on FACE THE NATION, breaking news on Ukraine and the mystery of Malaysian Air Flight 370.
It's been more than a week since the plane vanished. But authorities now say they know why the plane went off course and it wasn't an accident.
NAJIB RAZAK: These movements are consistent with deliberate action by someone on the plane.
BOB SCHIEFFER: We'll have the latest from Malaysia and our team of CBS aviation experts, including former U.S. Air pilot Sully Sullenberger. Then we'll ask the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Mike Rogers what he knows about the plane's disappearance.
Then we'll turn to the other big story--the vote today in Crimea and the crisis over Ukraine. What can the U.S. and our allies do if Russian President Vladimir Putin tries to annex the former Soviet state? We'll hear from former Obama national security advisor Tom Donilon and a panel of experts about that and the other developments. Sixty years of news because this is FACE THE NATION.
And good morning again. As I said earlier, there is breaking news now on Ukraine. The Russian foreign Minister Lavrov and Secretary of State Kerry have agreed in a phone call according to the Russian ministry, to seek resolution to the Ukrainian crisis through what the news release says, is constitutional reform in Ukraine. That is the sum total of our knowledge of this, it just came over the wires. Our State Department correspondent Margaret Brennan has more on this. Margaret, what have you been able to find out about this?
MARGARET BRENNAN (CBS News State Department Correspondent): Well, this is based off of press release from the Russian foreign ministry reading out a phone call between Lavrov and Kerry that just happened. And it's the first time that we've seen any sign of diplomatic give on the part of Russia. So that's why there is some excitement about it. But U.S. officials, U.S. diplomats tell me this is a longer term process. This doesn't seem to be an immediate solution. What we do know was put on the table in the past few days was this proposal from Ukraine that they would give more autonomy to Crimea. Maybe give more protection to minorities, language rights, tax reform there. That, however, would need to also be considered on an all Ukraine basis, not just the vote you're seeing happen in Crimea today. The Ukrainian constitution requires the whole country to vote on this. So these are things that are being put on the table. Immediately today U.S. officials are urging caution here that this does not mean there's an immediate deal but we're still working on our sources.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Does it appear that they may be stepping back just a bit from the break?
MARGARET BRENNAN: It's the first sign of any give on any diplomatic front. Also we have that announcement of sort of a pause in terms of dealing with the Ukrainian military until the twenty-first. That is a key date because that is when the Russian Duma is set to review this proposal to formally annex. So we might see some movement in the next few days, something short of annexation but it doesn't look like Putin is pulling back fully.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Okay. Margaret, we're going to give you a chance to get off and get back on the phone and see what other details you can turn up on this. So we'll cover this as the details come in.
Now we want to go to the other big story, and that is the latest developments on that missing Malaysian jetliner. Today, authorities tell us they have expanded the search area even further, Seth Doane is in Kuala Lumpur this morning, has the latest on that.
SETH DOANE (CBS News Correspondent): Good morning to you, Bob. Yes, as this search is expanded by sea and by air it is now-- now also expanding significantly on land as well. And investigators here in Malaysia are increasingly looking at the people on board that plane. Over the weekend police searched the homes of the pilot and co-pilot. Inside this pilot's home they found a flight simulator which they confiscated and now investigators are evaluating that. Also ground staff and engineers, anyone who had contact with that plane are now caught up in questioning and caught up in this investigation. This, as the Malaysian prime minister over the weekend said that he believed that evidence pointed to a deliberate act, someone on board that plane deliberately cutting the communication system of that plane. We also learned that the plane may have flown much further than we originally understood. The prime minister said that the last signal from the plane came to a satellite seven and a half hours after it took off. And authorities have distributed a map that shows two arcs almost two giant corridors from which that satellite ping might have come. One stretching in a northern direction from northern Thailand through western China all the way to Kazakhstan, and then in the southern arc stretching past Indonesia and well out into the very deep southern Indian Ocean. This of course, Bob, expands this search from fourteen countries to twenty-five.
BOB SCHIEFFER: All right. Well, thank you so much, Seth.
And joining us now from San Francisco, retired U.S. Air Captain Chesley Sully Sullenberger who made that miraculous landing on the Hudson River five years ago. He's now our CBS News aviation and safety expert. Here with us in the studio, two more experts. The former head of the National Transportation and Safety Board, Mark Rosenker, who is now a CBS News analyst, and security analyst and our own, Bob Orr, who has been covering this story since the plane went missing over a week ago. Well, Bob, you are making the point a while ago. I mean the more we get into this, the larger the area they're searching. You were saying we're now searching an area that goes from Kazakhstan all the way down to Australia.
BOB ORR (CBS News Homeland and Security Correspondent): Yeah, it's huge. I mean we're-- we're covering now a great part of the globe looking for a plane that looks large when you see it on a runway but connected to the-- or next to the Indian Ocean is just a speck. Bob, look, a week after this plane went missing nobody can tell us with any authority where it went or why it went where it did. And now it's just a painstaking process where patience is going to be required for people that want answers right now.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Sully, walk us through this thing. We're now told that they're investigating the pilot and the co-pilot. Why-- why-- why has the investigation in your view taken that turn?
CAPTAIN CHESLEY SULLENBERGER (CBS News Aviation and Safety Expert): Bob, this is already one of the most remarkable episodes in the entirety of aviation history and we're not, by any means, close to the end of it yet. But the aviation industry never willingly tolerates this level of ambiguity. You can be assured that great efforts, huge sums will be expended to solve this mystery, even though, it's likely to take months or years. You know absent finding the airplane, and having physical evidence to look at, absent finding and analyzing what's on the recorders, they have to look in every other way, an old-fashioned detective work trying to piece together this really puzzling situation.
BOB SCHIEFFER: You were an investigator, Mark, what should they be looking for now. Why is it they are just now getting around to looking into the backgrounds of the pilots?
MARK ROSENKER (CBS News Aviation Safety Analyst/Former NTSB Chair): Well, this is an extraordinary situation, as Sully said. We have not seen this kind of investigation held ever at least in the history that I have been involved in it. We need to see everything. Since this is now becoming more a look at a criminal or-- or terrorist-type of activity rather than accident and still accident is not off the table until we find a debris field, until we find a site where in fact the aircraft is on the ground, we do not know anything other than the kinds of information which has been provided us and provided, unfortunately, very late in the game by the Malaysian government. We learned something this morning, which we should have learned much earlier. From the Malaysian Airlines they told us that this had the appropriate amount of fuel, not anymore. Well, when you figure six and a half hours to get to Beijing then add some in for the alternate site, then add forty-five minutes in case you needed it in emergency. We're looking at anywhere between eight and eight and a half hours. That should have begun the process of trying to figure out where we might be looking during that period of time.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Sully, I want to ask you one of the things we have, we-- we now seem to know that the plane at one point went to forty-five thousand feet, which is beyond where this aircraft should be going and then went down to as low as twenty-five thousand feet. How would you explain that? What-- what does that suggest?
CAPTAIN CHESLEY SULLENBERGER: There are no operational reasons that I can think of that would explain it. There are reasons that one might end up in that situation but again I have no knowledge of what their motivation might have been of who was actually in control of the airplane with their level of skill or why these excursions of altitude would have taken place.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Or, Bob, maybe nobody was in control.
BOB ORR: Well, no, I think-- I think the evidence from satellite and radar, Bob, seems to show that somebody was flying the airplane and for quite a long period of time. That it changed course, it changed altitude. This didn't look like an airplane completely out of control by any means. The thing that you have to remember here is while we can't point to the pilots, and you can't point to a hijacking or a rogue pilot act. What I think we can say is whoever disabled those systems, if it was done intentionally, and whoever changed the course of that airplane and flew to a spot where they knew they had no radar coverage, there was some level of knowledge, some sophistication, knowledge about how that plane worked, how systems worked and how you would want to go about being undetectable.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Mark, how is it that if this plane was, let's say, hijacked or if-- if it was going through all these contortions, wouldn't we have heard something from somebody's cell phone on that airplane?
MARK ROSENKER: Well, certainly not the cell phones. The-- the cell phones began really--
BOB SCHIEFFER: They don't work at that--
MARK ROSENKER: They just don't work at that altitude. What I am really disturbed about is once this transition was not captured by the Vietnamese, once they, in fact, saw some kind of a turn and flying over Malaysia for more than an hour, perhaps as much as an hour and ten to fifteen minutes, where was the Malaysian Air Force? Where were they to not come up, doing interception and try to figure out what was going on. This is absolutely extraordinary to have an airliner fly over that area without the Malaysian Air Force trying to understand what it was.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Sully, could it be and I mean this is just conjecture and-- and-- and speculate, could it be the-- these pilots who were trying to steal this airplane or somebody was trying to just steal it and fly it to some point? I mean it-- it just I don't understand anything about this story.
CAPTAIN CHESLEY SULLENBERGER: Yeah. Many of the possibilities verge on a spy novel kind of situation. We simply don't know. Those things that you mentioned are theoretically possible. The real frustration is that we are learning more about this, as Mark and Bob have said very late in the process. And with the passage of time, it makes the variability in the search much greater. And it makes it much harder ultimately to find out what really did happen.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Bob, do you think it's possible we may never find this wreckage? May never find this?
BOB ORR: If you had asked me about that a week ago, I would have said no, we would find some debris, we'd eventually trace the debris back to the wreckage field. I think as time goes on, Bob, with an area this large to search, I think it is possible, as hard as it is to believe that we may never find the plane. And if we don't find the plane, if we don't find some kind of conclusive analytical evidence on the police side, I think there is a chance we might not know.
BOB SCHIEFFER: All right. Well, I want to thank all of you this morning. Thank you, Captain Sullenberg-- Sullenberger.
And we're going to go now to Indianapolis where the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Mike Rogers is standing by. Mister Chairman, have you been briefed, what about U.S. intelligence agencies, are they playing any part in this or have they been brought in to it in any way?
REPRESENTATIVE MIKE ROGERS (Intelligence Committee Chair/R-Michigan): Sure, you can-- might expect that we want to find out exactly if there was some terrorist nexus or some other nexus that would rise concerns to our national security. And I can tell you just in the discussion you had with your panel, there-- now there's-- we're creating a big matrix from the plausible to the probable and nothing has gotten to the probable quite yet, meaning there's still investigation to be had. You're going to have to do a thorough investigation on everyone on the airplane now to make some determination and the very fact that it may have gone over Malaysia. And I don't think that that's really conclusive tells you, now you have a whole new wing of this investigation that has to open that will take an intense amount of time and it may lead to the biggest dead end yet. This plane still may be at the bottom of the Indian ocean and I think a lot of folks that I talked to believe that's probably the most likely, the most probable circumstances that, in fact, it is at the bottom of the-- the Indian Ocean. But you cannot quite yet rule out everything else because we don't have the physical evidence we need to come to that conclusion.
BOB SCHIEFFER: You-- you're an old FBI agent before you were a member of Congress and the chairman of the Intelligence Committee.
REPRESENTATIVE MIKE ROGERS: Right.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Is there any doubt in your mind at this point that this was a criminal act?
REPRESENTATIVE MIKE ROGERS: You know, from everything I see it's all built on speculation. And by the way, Bob, I-- I, that phrase, old FBI agent concerned me a little bit.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, I'm an old-- I'm an old FACE THE NATION moderator so--
REPRESENTATIVE MIKE ROGERS: Yeah. Exactly.
BOB SCHIEFFER: --an older one than you are.
REPRESENTATIVE MIKE ROGERS: Yeah. That when you add up to the plausible fact points, it certainly would lead an old investigator to say there is a lot more to that portion of the story which is why they seized the flight simulator, not that it was unusual necessarily that the pilot had a flight simulator, but they want to go through and find out, did you-- were you playing some scenarios on that particular flight simulator that might match up to some alternate activity on your flight path. All of that will be done through really intense forensic investigation to try to determine were-- were there-- was there preplanning. Think about it. If you're going to fly over countries that we know have radar, and you're going to try to do it in a way that either saves the aircraft or crashes the aircraft, there is a lot of planning that has to happen. And there-- if there was more than one involved, there is-- that conspiracy trail means that people had to talk to each other. All of those are potential gaps for our FBI agents and others who are involved in this investigation, Malaysian intelligence and police services to fill in those holes.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, I--
REPRESENTATIVE MIKE ROGERS: But that is, it's all small and it's all, it-- it's going to take time.
BOB SCHIEFFER: But the fact that he had his own flight simulator, as it were in his house, it does open up new possibilities as you suggest.
REPRESENTATIVE MIKE ROGERS: Right.
BOB SCHIEFFER: I mean what exactly was that all about? Let me shift to Ukraine. You heard earlier this late breaking news that the Russian foreign ministry says that Secretary of State Kerry and the Russian foreign minister have agreed to settle this thing through constitutional reform of some sort in Ukraine. What-- what did you make of that?
REPRESENTATIVE MIKE ROGERS: Well, I mean we've seen this movie before and we should be cautious. I want to know exactly what was offered in exchange. Right now Russia-- Russia is feeling a unique set of pressures other than the international community. It's their economy is starting to suffer. You know, Russia is so dependent on energy as the--- the-- propping up their economy, any disruption in that, any disruption in that cash flow is-- has serious and real consequences. So if this was just to buy Russians time, I'm concerned about it. If this was truly an effort to allow the referendum to happen which is what I think the Russians are doing so that they have the strength and any negotiation with Ukraine, the government of Ukraine, with-- you know, that's a whole different story. If I-- you know, the United States needs to take a pretty strong stand in relationship with our EU partners, now would be the time to try to ramp some of that up as we get to those discussions. If we don't, it's the relief the pressure-- on the pressure that the Russians need to continue to do and solidify their hold on the Crimean Peninsula.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Yesterday, as you're well aware, the Russians seized an area in Ukraine that is home to a natural gas distribution center. This is the first intrusion into an area outside Crimea. How big a concern is that to you?
REPRESENTATIVE MIKE ROGERS: Well, if you look at the-- the logical, strategical areas that they need to hold from airports to communication centers to the parliament, to the military bases, this is that next logical step to make sure that they cannot interfere with the successful delivery of energy to the Crimean Peninsula. I think that this was in preparation of the vote, meaning that they believe that this vote is going to come out that-- where the Russians believe that they are going to-- excuse me, the Russian population in the Crimea is going to vote to go with Russia. Well, in order to protect that-- the outcome of that vote, I think they needed this strategic hold. This is where natural gas can be delivered in that region. And I think the Russians believe that was very, very important to make sure that that wasn't a lever that they-- that Kiev government could use against the Crimean Peninsula. So I think that's what you're seeing here. I find it interesting that that happens. You have some low level cyber attacks happening which we've seen the Russians use in the past. And then this notion that, well, we'll have a discussion about constitutional reform in Kiev about the Crimean Peninsula. That sounds like a series of actions that's deliberate and not coincidental.
BOB SCHIEFFER: You said a couple of weeks ago that Russian President Putin was playing chess and we're playing marbles. Do you think he's won this round?
REPRESENTATIVE MIKE ROGERS: Well, I mean, clearly, he has set the table to his advantage in any negotiation going forward. Clearly, that's happened. And the fact that we've had a little bit of fraying in our European relationships diplomatically has caused us some real difficulties. And so, you know, if you're asking me do I think he-- he was-- had the advantage going into this, yes, I do, which worries me about what was offered up in that phone call, what kind of concessions did-- did the United States offer, did we have a-- a relationship with the EU that would allow us to make those concessions and what are the next few steps. We're going to have to learn that in the next few days. But if you look at how this has played out, clearly, Putin has had the upper hand in this, even though, he risks huge economic problems his popularity domestically has soared and he doesn't have a lot of great economic issues going on at home. So without this, his popularity is lower. All of those dynamics in Putin's mind, mean that he's ahead as he would walk into any negotiation with Kiev and we're playing catch up.
BOB SCHIEFFER: All right. Well, many thanks to you, Mister Chairman. We're going to talk to former national security advisor Tom Donilon when we come back in one minute.
BOB SCHIEFFER: We're joined now by President Obama's former national security advisor Tom Donilon. Mister Donilon, thank you so much for coming. Well, you heard this thing that we know so little about, the Russian ministry saying that they have agreed to settle this through constitutional reform in Ukraine, Secretary Kerry and-- and foreign minister Lavrov. What is your take on that?
THOMAS DONILON (Former Obama National Security Advisor/Council on Foreign Relations): I think that Christine Brennan is right. I'd be very cautious about any reaction at this point. There's been on the table now for a while, including during the course of the prime minister of Ukraine's-- acting prime minister's visit this week, on the table, an offer to discuss the situation in Crimea, an offer to discuss the arrangements and Russian interests, an autonomy there. But that's going to require the Russians to do a couple of things, including talk directly to the Ukrainian government in Kiev. It's something they haven't been willing to do at this point. And I also--
BOB SCHIEFFER: Margaret did point out this is the first time that-- that the Russians have said anything like this, though.
THOMAS DONILON: Well, I-- well, but it would still require them to actually sit down and have a conversation with the interim government in Kiev. And they have been willing to do that to this point. And this has been a set of issues, Bob, which have been on the table for some time now, including by the Ukrainian and foreign minister when he was here this week. And I'd add we've seen no sign of the operation in Crimea standing down or in any way losing stain with respect to what the Russians are doing there and that essentially what they're doing there is really executing a black operation.
BOB SCHIEFFER: To the contrary, they-- they moved in and seized this area outside Crimea where these gas distribution points are.
THOMAS DONILON: That's exactly right. And I think Chairman Rogers was exactly right about this. This is part of the overall operation. They fear once the referendum goes through today and-- and the outcome is pretty-- pretty much preordained because it's taking place under full occupation as part of the Russian operation, they fear a gas or an energy cut off. Crimea is a dependent region in Ukraine.
BOB SCHIEFFER: I think we make a mistake when we expect President Putin to react to situations in the way that those of us in the West might react. But what does he want here and what caused this?
THOMAS DONILON: Yeah. Well, I think, when-- when-- President Putin, for him, these concepts of balance of power, sphere of influence, zero sum outcomes are very real concepts and he pursues them. And with respect to Ukraine specifically, he had a big blow. He, essentially, had Ukraine reject a move to Russia and embrace a move to Europe. And he saw real loss here and acted to try to regain leverage in some ability to destabilize the situation, get leverage back in the situation. That's what happened here, Bob. It was a real blow to his concept of sphere of influence in Ukraine. It was a blow to this fanciful idea he has of Eurasian union as a counterpoint to the European Union. And without Ukraine, that's not just fanciful, it's impossible. And he's acted here and he's acted, essentially, with a-- kind of a military black operation in Crimea.
BOB SCHIEFFER: I'm going to ask you to stick around for Part Two of our broadcast because we want to continue to cover this story with breaking news.
THOMAS DONILON: Yeah.
BOB SCHIEFFER: We'll talk to him some more in a few minutes. And I'll be back in a moment with some personal thoughts.
BOB SCHIEFFER: I dreamed I was a fly on the wall Friday when Secretary of State John Kerry met in London with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov. Russian troops were holding war games on the border of Ukraine. Tension was building by the minute. Kerry was all business in my dream. He'd come to deliver a message to the Russian, a message with a bark-off. He got right to the point in clear, unmistakable terms. "If the Russians turned up the heat anymore, there would be a price to pay. The United States was ready to act." "Oh, yes," Lavrov responded, "I hear the first thing you're planning is to send a huge economic aid package to Ukraine. How's that going? Is it on the way?" "Actually, it isn't," Kerry said. The Senate was in a rush to go on vacation and the aid package got bogged down in a Senate argument over campaign finance laws and some other stuff. "Oh," said the Russian, "so the Senate is not as worried about this so-called crisis as you are." "Absolutely not so," said Kerry. "Harry Reid, the Senate leader, has assured everyone the aid package is the very first thing the Senate will deal with when they get back from vacation, in a week or so." "Excuse my limited knowledge of how your government works," Lavrov said, "but vacation from what."
Back in a minute.
BOB SCHIEFFER: And stay with us because we'll be right back.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Today in Crimea residents are voting on whether they want to reunite Crimea with Russia or whether they want to maintain ties with Ukraine. Our CBS News foreign correspondent Elizabeth Palmer joins us now from Simferopol, the capital of Crimea.
ELIZABETH PALMER (CBS News Foreign Correspondent): Good morning, Bob.
Well, we've been to see the voting and it has been pretty orderly, well organized, and by tonight or perhaps early tomorrow morning we'll probably see a result that will deliver Crimea to Moscow. Of course, although it looks free and fair, it's anything but. The government, they got the ball rolling here, seized power in a coup three weeks ago, and they've been working with a huge contingent of Russian military and their own paramilitaries to arrest Ukrainian activists who intimidate journalists and to stop all flights in and out of Crimea except those from Moscow. So the international community will have a real case when it argues that this referendum is-- is absolutely not valid, not legal.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Now, Liz, what do you make of this truce announcement this morning that the Russian and the Ukrainian defense ministers have decided to take no action against each other until March twenty-first?
ELIZABETH PALMER: Well, it's a recognition that these little bands of Ukrainian soldiers holding firm on their bases all over the peninsula are outgunned. They are completely out numbered. And so this removes the tension from the situation. It-- it-- it-- it shows the commitment that we've seen from the beginning to avoid violence. But it doesn't do anything to change the fact that Russia has overseen a land grab here which Vladimir Putin will now argue was ratified by a popular vote.
BOB SCHIEFFER: All right. Liz Palmer. Well, thank you so much, Liz.
We're going to go now to CBS News correspondent Charlie D'Agata who is in Donetsk in eastern Ukraine to see what the situation is there. Charlie.
CHARLIE D'AGATA (CBS News Correspondent): Bob, to the Ukrainian government, they say the situation in Crimea is nothing but a land grab. They say that the referendum is illegal and it will not be recognized by Kiev. Furthermore, they say, whatever their results or the outcome of that referendum, there is no intention of withdrawing Ukrainian forces there. Now in terms of the apparent Russian military incursion further outside Crimea, they said that this is an invasion and Ukraine reserves the right to use all necessary measures to stop it. Here in Donetsk, the city is divided. You may be able to see behind me a lot of Russian flags flying there. And we've seen these demonstrations and protests turn violent over the past few days. Three people have been killed here between Donetsk, and Kharkiv, a city closer to the Russian border. Now the Ukrainian government has blamed Russia for supporting these demonstrations, even going so far as saying that there are agents from the Kremlin that have been sent here to cause trouble. Meanwhile, Russia's foreign ministry said that the situation here is out of control, whether or not that's the case, and once again reiterated that Russia reserves the right to take all necessary steps to protect Russian ethnic citizens.
BOB SCHIEFFER: All right. Thank you so much, Charlie.
And former Obama national security advisor, Tom Donilon, is back with us for more on this breaking story that's developing this morning in Ukraine. Mister Donilon, what can we do here?
THOMAS DONILON: Mm-Hm. I think we can do-- I think we can do quite a bit, frankly; and we must do. It's an important leadership moment. I-- I reacted in agreement with your commentary, Bob, which we just heard, you know, which, this is an important leadership moment for the United States and for the West. This is a challenge to the post Cold War order in Europe, an order that we had a lot to do with and putting in place respect for sovereignty. Respect for territorial integrity. This is a really important moment and we-- and we have to act, and I think we can act, first, to support the Ukraine government politically and embrace it, which is what we (INDISTINCT) saw the President do this week. Second, is to support the Ukraine government, especially now in the short term here with financial aid to ensure that it can stand up under Russian pressure which will come. Third, is to reinforce our NATO and reassure our NATO allies and President-- Vice President Biden is going to Lithuania and Poland, I believe, tomorrow to do just that. But very importantly to really indicate what the costs are going to be to Russia for this kind of conduct, for Putin's conduct here for this action and that can be substantial, frankly. You know, you can stand defiantly in this world as Putin is doing and define your foreign policy as basically in kind of distinction and holding negative against the rest of the world. You can do that making a start at the U.N. yesterday, thirteen-one yesterday. That was a vote saying the Crimea referendum was not legal and shouldn't go forward, even the Chinese abstained, their strategic partner. But tremendous price is going to be paid. You're already seeing it. They've cut growth estimates in Russia by half. The ruble has fallen. The stock market has fallen. And that is before a single sanction has been put in place. We'll see sanctions on Monday to begin both in the United States and in Europe. I oversaw the sanctions regime for four and a half years against Iran. This is a powerful weapon in a globalized economy.
BOB SCHIEFFER: But, you know, apparently Putin's popularity is going up at home.
THOMAS DONILON: In the short term.
BOB SCHIEFFER: I mean he-- he is obviously playing to the crowd at home like all politicians do.
THOMAS DONILON: I think that's exactly right. And you've seen his popularity go up largely through the efforts of a propaganda campaign and a nostalgia for getting back this Crimea-- getting back Crimea which was given to Ukraine by Nikita Khrushchev in the 1950s. There is some of this nationalism which he had built up there. But over time here there's real-- there is a real cost to be paid for Russia and the Russian people. It's not necessary. Putin's rejected integration here in favor of kind of standing defiantly. And, as I said before, he really has put his economy at risk.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Is the Cold War that we used to know about, is it back? I mean--
THOMAS DONILON: Well--
BOB SCHIEFFER: --is it-- is the war getting cool here?
THOMAS DONILON: Well, the cold war was a-- was a-- was a global contest between two systems with-- with the next existential threat to the United-- to the United States. That's not the case today. Russia is not anywhere near that kind of power. But I do think we're in for here, given that Putin shows no signs of backing-- of backing down here. I think we're in for a very difficult time in Russia-U.S. relations.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Of course, under sequestration--
THOMAS DONILON: Yeah.
BOB SCHIEFFER: --the administration had to start reducing defense spending. Do you see that this may require the President going to Congress and say we can't do this now? We've-- we've got something new to think about here.
THOMAS DONILON: We have tremendous military assets under the current budget and the projected budgets here. I don't think it's a matter of-- of defense spending here. It's a matter of leadership. It's a matter of, kind of-- kind of stepping up to the moment here and-- and doing the things that we talked about here in terms of embracing the Ukraine government and indicating the real cost that Putin will have to pay here. And there are costs that this-- this-- this line here in Washington that there's nothing we can do about this is just not-- is just not true. I think we have all the defense and military assets that we need to implement our foreign policy in the Europe and-- and around the world. But this is an important leadership moment, Bob.
BOB SCHIEFFER: You do not see the United States sending troops in to the Ukraine.
THOMAS DONILON: I don't. I don't see the United States sending troops into the Ukraine, but I do see the United States leading an effort to embrace the Ukraine and-- and support it in a lot of ways, economically, politically, and, perhaps, with military assistance.
BOB SCHIEFFER: All right. Thank you so much, Mister Donilon.
THOMAS DONILON: Thank you, Bob. Great to be here.
BOB SCHIEFFER: And we'll be back with our panel in one minute.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, we're back now with our panel to try to make some sense of all that's going on. That's a large order right now. Anne Gearan is the diplomatic correspondent for the Washington Post. We welcome her to FACE THE NATION. Bobby Ghosh is the editor of TIME International. Also a Washington Post columnist and former George W. Bush speechwriter, Michael Gerson. As well as CBS News State Department correspondent Margaret Brennan. Well, when you left, Margaret, I've said we're going to give you time to go back and get on phone and see if you can sort this out, if you've found out anything more?
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, they're trying to figure this out at the White House and-- and here in Washington right now. What we heard earlier today from the Russian foreign ministry is that there is now this broader conversation about finding a diplomatic solution through constitutional reform. That is different from what the-- the message sent very clearly by the Kremlin at the same time which was, we're not changing our foreign policy. This referendum still happening in Crimea today. We're going to recognize the results of it. And basically Putin saying we're not backing down. But we'll continue to talk diplomatically is what Lavrov, the foreign minister, told Kerry today, the secretary of state here. So it looks like there is a broader conversation right now. But it doesn't look like there's an immediate halt in any way.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, Bobby, do you think this means the Russians are just buying time or is there something significant happening here?
BOBBY GHOSH (TIME International): Yes, I think it is a question-- it is an attempt to buy time. And I think when the Russians now talk of we'll continue to have discussions about Ukraine, I suspect the Russians are thinking of Ukraine as a country without Crimea.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
BOBBY GHOSH: In think in the Rus-- for the-- for the Putin administration Crimea is already a done deal. And what we're seeing taking place today with the referendum today is the final dotting of the 'i' and crossing of the 't'. That's done. What Lavrov seems to be saying if I'm-- if I'm reading the tea leaves right is that let's talk about the rest of Ukraine. Because there is still a conversation to be had about that.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Is that your analysis, Anne?
ANNE GEARAN (Washington Post): Yeah. I mean I think the statement from the Russian foreign ministry is elliptical enough that we don't know totally what it means. It could be as simple as an agreement to keep talking. Well, I mean Kerry and Lavrov have been talking every day--
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
ANNE GEARAN: --and sometimes twice a day for-- for about two weeks now and-- and so just the two of them taking really isn't that significant. It could also be an indicator though, that what the Obama administration hoped for out of the Kerry-Lavrov meeting in-- in London on Friday, at least some small part of that might be happening which is that there could be a second act. After the-- the vote that either Russia would not move for a full annexation would do some sort of vague half measure. Or that there could be some other kind of way to leave the precise status of Crimea in enough doubt that it isn't a complete in your face move by Russia. And there's some-- there's some indication that something along those lines might be in the works.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Michael, do you-- do you agree with Tom Donilon. He says there really are some things that we can do that this talk that there really is not much we can do when you come right down to it?
MICHAEL GERSON (Washington Post): Well, I think the response we've just seen hasn't been very forceful. You have Europe internally debating a fairly weak set of incremental sanctions on Russia. You have senators in the U.S. Senate--Republican Senators--defeating aid to Ukraine on absurd reasoning. And you have the President seemingly turning down emergency military aid to the Ukrainians which seems to have been requested according to the Wall Street Journal. That's something. Even if you do want to turn it down you don't say that you're going to turn it down. You want to create uncertainty in-- in a situation like this. But I actually agree I think there are-- if the Russians move in a major way, there are steps you can take about military aid which-- which Donilon mentioned about sanctions on oil and gas which really hurt Europe but also really hurt Russia that you certainly are-- and also measures with NATO. U.S., you know military engagement with NATO that could send a real signal.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Margaret, what do you think is going to happen next week? You know Secretary Kerry said, you know, there will be steps--
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
BOB SCHIEFFER: --when-- when-- when we last heard from him. This was before this-- this announcement today by the Russians. But I find it significant that we-- have we confirmed that they even had this phone call yet?
MARGARET BRENNAN: They have been talking, yes--
BOB SCHIEFFER: Yeah.
MARGARET BRENNAN: --Kerry and Lavrov. And when we landed and we were on the plane with Kerry coming back here to the U.S. from those conversations on Friday. And he was going to the White House to have more conversations there to consult on what he had spent six hours talking to Sergey Lavrov about--
BOB SCHIEFFER: Mm-Hm.
MARGARET BRENNAN: --because we know Lavrov refused to discuss Crimea. What did they talk about for six hours then? So we know that there are some diplomatic measures underway here. But what we hear is coming in terms of sanctions, this cost, that you heard President Obama talk about. It sounds like it will be very targeted at individuals, in particular, within the Russian government but not Vladimir Putin's money, not Sergey Lavrov's money. That would really hurt. But this is going to be a targeted sanction. It's not going to be that massive hit. And what we've heard from diplomats is that some of this might be scaled up gradually to match basically the level of bad behavior that continues on the part of the Russians.
ANNE GEARAN: Yeah. I mean they don't want to let loose with-- with all barrels all at once. So they're-- but there will- -there will definitely be some sanctions action tomorrow both U.S. and-- and European. The-- the U.S. sanctions are actually the-- the larger and more significant in an odd way, even though, Europe does more business with-- with-- with Russia. And-- and there will definitely be some in response to the-- the Crimea referendum. But the-- from the U.S. side, they would like a couple of things to happen in concert. One is that they-- that they show a force with sanctions, leave themselves some room to add additional sanctions later and also that they get enough backing from the European Union, Germany is a-- is a difficult one there that it doesn't look like a U.S.-only action.
MICHAEL GERSON: The problem here is the overall ambition of the-- of the Russian argument. They are using Russian minority rights to dismember neighbors and to re-litigate the end of the Cold War. There are twenty-five million Russian minorities outside the Russian border, including in NATO allies, Estonia, Latvia, others. This kind of thing I think the administration understands and Europe is beginning to understand has to be deterred before it becomes even more disturbing and destabilizing.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, what-- what about that, Bobby?
BOBBY GHOSH: I think the ship has sailed already on that. And I think and-- the-- the expression was perfect. It's is a show of (INDISTINCT) sanctions targeted at mid-level officials. It's only a show and it's a show that is designed more for domestic audiences here in the U.S. and for NATO allies than the Russian side of things. I think these are things that-- that Putin can and will brush off his-- his lapel quite easily. For the-- for sanctions to have any affect you need two things; one, they need to really bite. And you need a considerable international sort of unity behind these sanctions as we've seen in Iran they've been quite effective, in Syria, not so much. And the reason they're not so effective in Syria is because there is not that international unity. You're not going to get that with the Russians.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Explain, Margaret, why this is harder for the Europeans than it is for the United States, for example.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, I mean, remember, the harder this crisis at the beginning of it, it was all about the economy--
BOB SCHIEFFER: Mm-Hm.
MARGARET BRENNAN: --it was all about a trade deal, right? And a lot of that has to do with the ties of the twenty-eight different countries that make up the EU and the amount of trade that happens between them. But one thing we haven't talked about and the trump card that Putin continues to hold while we talk in the West about the economic punishment he's about to receive. He can go and look and say, look how much money the Russians have in Ukraine. Not just government investment--
ANNE GEARAN: Mm-Hm.
MARGARET BRENNAN: --the companies they own there. The debt they hold. So when this war of ideas cools off, they still have tremendous amount of influence in Kiev, no matter who is in power. So that's why the conversation seemingly keeps coming back to what sharp economic tools can be used here. But unwinding the-- the amount of financial tentacles Russia has in Ukraine is impossible to do.
BOB SCHIEFFER: But-- but also I mean he can turn off the gas for a good part of Europe because they're getting-- they're getting their gas from--
MARGARET BRENNAN: Sure on what Europe would say--
BOB SCHIEFFER: --from Russia.
MARGARET BRENNAN: --say in response to that is, well, that also hurts him because he wants our money in exchange--
BOB SCHIEFFER: Yeah.
MARGARET BRENNAN: --for that gas that we're going to use. It's a two-way street there, but that's what you've heard some in Congress and others say. Well, let's just try to flood their market with cheap U.S. or European sources of natural gas there.
BOBBY GHOSH: Which is absolutely impossible, we do not have the infrastructure to supply them with the gas. We-- we have one port that will come on stream, two winters from now.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
BOBBY GHOSH: So if we are going to replace Russian gas then we're going to ask the Europeans to stay cold for two winters. That's-- that's just--
MICHAEL GERSON: And I don't think we should discount that Putin is using a variety of methods of international power that he doesn't have to invade. There are special operations now. Russian special operations going on, all over eastern Ukraine inciting Russian minorities, creating incidents and then the largest propaganda and disinformation campaign since the death of the Soviet Union, we're now seeing. In the Ukraine, in Russia, and in the West through various methods as well, so I think Putin is effectively using a variety of methods of expanding Russian power without necessarily having to, you know, send tanks to Kiev.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Would anybody like to volunteer some information on this plane story? I mean it's been a long time since I've seen a story quite like this one. I mean where does-- where does this go? Does this have international implications? I mean--
BOBBY GHOSH: It does have international implications. If this plane did indeed fly over several countries to get to somewhere in the-- in the Central Asian republics, then questions will be asked about India and Pakistan and-- and China as to why their radar systems failed. Which, you know, there are lots of-- there's already been international implications, the Chinese are very, very unhappy with the way the Malaysians have handled the whole thing and given the trade ties between those countries, that's something that can hurt Malaysia. It doesn't seem to-- to directly affect us right now beyond the point that all of us have get on planes. I was on a plane this morning, And there is something sort of fundamentally unsettling of the-- about the idea that in this day and age when I can take a picture with my phone and you can tell where I am, by just seeing that picture on Instagram, there's something fundamentally disturbing about the fact that a very modern aircraft has disappeared and we don't know a week later where it is.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Can we talk a little about Syria? I mean which has gotten almost no attention since these two stories have burst onto the front pages and on the TV screens. What's the latest from there, Anne?
ANNE GEARAN: Well, we're at the three-year mark, very, very sad anniversary of-- of a conflict that very quickly became the civil war and it has been in some form of standoff for three years. At the moment the Assad forces are not winning, but-- but not losing. They are doing better. They have seized a very important rebel town just in the last twenty-four hours, but the rebels are going to keep fighting. They are looking, as always, for additional Western help which and-- and-- and help also from-- from elsewhere in the Middle East, which comes in just enough form to keep them going.
MICHAEL GERSON: I was just a couple of months ago at the border talking with recent refugees from Syria mainly from the besieged areas and I think that people need to understand that these are not bystanders, civilian bystanders in a civil war. They are targets in-- in barrel bomb attacks, in the starvation of whole neighborhoods, both sides commit atrocities in this. But one side, the Syrian government is committing atrocities as a tool of national policy to cleanse areas with the support of the Russians, the Iranians, Hezbollah, and where the opposition has not had as reliable international support. So it's not a containable crisis. You see the effects in Jordan, you see the effects in Lebanon, which is being completely over run. You see a whole generation of Syrian young people that are being lost and radicalized which could be a huge problem for the region and the world in the future and most of the world is a bystander in this right now.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Putin again--
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
BOB SCHIEFFER: --is a sponsor of Syria. What-- what does Putin see himself doing right now? What-- what-- what is-- is he trying to re-establish the Russian empire as it were? Does he feel threatened in some way that maybe those of us in the West are slow to understand? What's-- what's going on there?
MARGARET BRENNAN: Right, diplomats joke, you know, maybe he needs a therapist more than he needs foreign policy advisers at this point, but I think if you put that sort of joking aside what you see is just very much strategic choices to maintain series of influence and to keep the people who are friendly with him in power. You see that with Bashar al-Assad's government and you heard-- I mean if you look at the whole bureaucratic and diplomatic process that has gone, you know, through U.S. policy with pushing these peace talks that we were cheering the Russians on for delivering their guys to bring them to the negotiating table, well, they got them there and they didn't do much. In fact, the effectiveness of the killing skyrocketed during the peace process itself.
MICHAEL GERSON: Right. Mm-Hm.
MARGARET BRENNAN: They made a mockery of it. And, yet, the U.S. has still not publicly said we're done with the Russians. Clearly, they don't have the right intentions in-- in bringing these guys to the table. The diplomacy continues with Russia and they seem to have achieved what they wanted, which was keeping Assad in power and really hurting the rebels in the process that the U.S. has endorsed.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Did-- have they won in Ukraine, Bobby?
BOBBY GHOSH: The Russians? They have certainly won in Crimea, whether they won in-- in Ukraine is left to be seen. They have as, Tom Donilon said earlier, they have set-- arranged the tables at their convenience-- to their convenience. Any negotiation now takes place on Putin's terms, not on Obama's terms, not on Kiev's terms; and so to that extent, yes, they won.
BOB SCHIEFFER: All right. Well thank you all and we'll be right back.
Stay with us.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, that's it for us today. We hope you'll tune in tomorrow to CBS THIS MORNING. They will have the latest on the missing Malaysian Air flight and we'll be right here next Sunday same time, same place, FACE THE NATION. See you then
**END OF TRANSCRIPT**
Jackie Berkowitz, email@example.com
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