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Full transcript of "Face the Nation" on February 20, 2022

2/20: Face The Nation
2/20: Blinken, Stoltenberg, Antonov 46:06

On this "Face the Nation" broadcast moderated by Margaret Brennan:

  • Secretary of State Antony Blinken
  • NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg
  • Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Anatoly Antonov
  • Ukrainian Ambassador to the U.S. Oksana Markarova
  • Chris Krebs, CBS News cybersecurity expert and analyst
  • Jill Schlesinger, CBS News business analyst

Click here to browse full transcripts of "Face the Nation."  

MARGARET BRENNAN: I'm Margaret Brennan. And this week on Face the Nation: The stakes could not be higher, as we enter a new phase in the Ukraine crisis. There is even more pressure on Vladimir Putin to halt his plans to invade. But is it too late? We will have a report from the front lines in Ukraine, as well as news on the 11th-hour diplomatic efforts and the military maneuvers. 

Plus, we will talk with all sides of the conflict, including Secretary of State Antony Blinken, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, plus both the Russian and the Ukrainian ambassadors to the U.S. 

We will also look at the efforts to defend against cyberattacks tied to Russia and the potential economic impact here at home. It's all just ahead on Face the Nation. 

Good morning, and welcome to Face the Nation. 

Today marks the beginning of a new phase of the Ukraine crisis, and all eyes are on Vladimir Putin, whose military has now surrounded Ukraine on three sides with approximately 190,000 Russian personnel. U.S. intelligence indicates that half of those military forces are in position to attack. Russian military exercises in Belarus near Ukraine's northern border were scheduled to end today. 

Moscow had initially said it would pull out as soon as the drills were over, but, this morning, there is word that they will remain. President Biden has called an emergency meeting of his National Security Council later today. 

We begin in Ukraine with CBS News foreign correspondent Charlie D'Agata. 

CHARLIE D'AGATA: Good morning. For Ukrainian commanders we have spoken to, this war is already under way. 

They took us to the front lines in the east, where there's been a dramatic spike in shelling. And the extended Russian military exercises in Belarus only adds to the anxiety. 

(Begin VT) 

CHARLIE D'AGATA (voice-over): The Russian military on full flex in the most elaborate show of force since this crisis began, testing hypersonic and ballistic missiles as part of nuclear exercises under the watchful eye of President Putin himself, from long-range bombers by air, to submarine launches in the Black Sea, and by land to Belarus, where troops are edging ever closer to the Ukrainian border, described by the U.S. defense secretary as uncoiling and poised to strike. 

In Eastern Ukraine itself, an artillery bombardment sent soldiers and journalists scrambling for cover, including, further back, us. 

OK, so there have just been a couple of explosions. The kids are running. And we have been told to get into our buses now. We are as close as we can get to the front lines. And this just shows you how dynamic the situation is here. 

Commanders told us the ongoing conflict here suddenly took a dramatic turn on Thursday, when Russian-backed rebels intensified the shelling of Ukrainian military positions and civilian areas alike. 

MAN: Well, the whole front line, which we think that is just another confirmation that it's orchestrated by Russia. 

CHARLIE D'AGATA: And you had seen nothing like this in the past few years? 

MAN: Yes, nothing like this. 

CHARLIE D'AGATA: Separatist leaders have ordered the evacuation of women, children and the elderly to Russia, they say, for their own safety, residents-turned-refugees now used as weapons in a propaganda war. 

(End VT) 

CHARLIE D'AGATA: Ukrainian commanders tell us that the increase in shelling and spreading panic among the civilian population are aimed at inventing or provoking the excuse President Vladimir Putin needs in order to justify an invasion -- Margaret. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: Charlie D'Agata, thank you. Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky is back in Kyiv following a day trip to Munich, where he met with his country's Western allies and sharply criticized them for appeasing Vladimir Putin. Our Christina Ruffini is there at the Munich Security Conference. 

(Begin VT) 

VOLODYMYR ZELENSKY (Ukrainian President) (through translator): You are telling me that it's 100 percent that the war will start in a couple of days. Well, then what are you waiting for? 

CHRISTINA RUFFINI: President Volodymyr Zelensky insisted on delivering his message to NATO allies in person, that their policies are appeasing Russia, and his country is paying the price. 

VOLODYMYR ZELENSKY (through translator): We don't need your sanctions after the bombardment will happen and after our country will be fired at, or after we will have no borders, after we will have no economy or parts of our country will be occupied. Why would we need those sanctions then? 

CHRISTINA RUFFINI: Vice President Harris, who met with Zelensky on Saturday, said she wouldn't second-guess his motives. 

KAMALA HARRIS (Vice President of the United States): He came here to make a very clear point, that he does not stand alone. 

CHRISTINA RUFFINI: But insisted that even the threat of sanctions will work, because they're directed at specific financial institutions and individuals close to President Putin. 

VICE PRESIDENT KAMALA HARRIS: These are some of the greatest sanctions, if not the strongest, that we have ever issued. And it will exact absolute harm for the Russian economy and their government. 

CHRISTINA RUFFINI: And despite Zelensky's in person plea, she says that position has not changed. 

VICE PRESIDENT KAMALA HARRIS: We cannot take lightly or speak lightly about what we are prepared to do, because we do understand the cost we are exactly, and it is severe. 

(End VT) 

CHRISTINA RUFFINI: The vice president left just a little while ago. She's heading back to Washington to join that national security meeting later today -- Margaret. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: Our Christina Ruffini in Munich. And we're joined now by CBS News national security correspondent David Martin. Good to have you with us again, David. 

The president was very clear that he is convinced by U.S. intelligence that this invasion will happen, that President Putin decided to do it. How is he that certain? 

DAVID MARTIN: Because the intelligence says that Russian troops have actually received orders now to proceed with the invasion. So, not only are they moving up closer and closer to the border into these attack positions, but the commanders on the ground are making specific plans for how they would maneuver in their sector of the battlefield. They're doing everything that American commanders would do once they got the order to proceed. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: We know Vladimir Putin gives himself many options. From what you know, what is the option he seems to be setting himself up for? How does this play out? 

DAVID MARTIN: Well, he is definitely giving himself the option for a full- scale invasion of the country, which would begin with an attack on the capital of Kyiv. And... 

MARGARET BRENNAN: It would begin there? 

DAVID MARTIN: It would begin there. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: With an aerial assault? 

DAVID MARTIN: An aerial -- well, a cyber assault to begin with. But it will look much like the shock and awe campaign that the U.S. unleashed on the city of Baghdad in 2003 when it invaded Iraq. Cyber weapons didn't exist back in 2003, so that is a new ingredient. And you would think cyber would come first to knock out communications, knock out power. But then they would be followed by missile strikes and airstrikes and special operations raids to seize key parts of the city, radio, TV stations. And then you could see the units rolling from the border north of Kyiv down on either side of the city to isolate the city and prevent the government from escaping into a government in exile. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: When you compare it to shock and awe, there is a certain amount of precision that's assumed with that. Precision is not necessarily in the Russian playbook for military operations. I mean, what should we be preparing for? 

DAVID MARTIN: Well, remember, the Russians have had 18 years to go to school on how we conducted that shock and awe campaign. So, they have developed precision-guided weapons. I would expect them to use them, because they're more effective. If he wants to have this country back in the Russian empire, he doesn't want to destroy Kyiv. 


DAVID MARTIN: He wants -- he wants a working government. He doesn't want to find what we found when we got to Baghdad, to find this country totally stripped of its infrastructure. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-hmm. And when it comes to trying to swallow a country, I mean, the argument for the U.S. has been we have poured in weapons and training, and helps the Ukrainians to be able to resist this kind of occupation. Is that what we're looking for, occupation, here, or is this just like military coercion? 

DAVID MARTIN: Well, he's making the preparations for occupation. He has assembled a force that could invade and take down most of the country. And now he has begun to mobilize reserves who would serve as the occupation force. Now, I'm sure he's going to do the least that it takes to achieve his goal. And if his goal is to bring Ukraine back into his sphere of influence, maybe he can do it by just taking down the capital. Maybe he can do it by cutting a bigger piece out of the east. But he is obviously making preparations to do whatever it takes. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: All right, David Martin, great to have you and your insight.

We go now to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who was also in Munich, and is here in Washington this morning. Good morning to you, Mr. Secretary. 

ANTONY BLINKEN (U.S. Secretary of State): Good morning, Margaret. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: President Biden says Vladimir Putin has made up his mind to invade, but we spoke with Russia's ambassador earlier this morning, and he insists there's no invasion, no plan to invade, and it only has troops on its own soil. Do you have reason to believe Vladimir Putin is changing his mind? 

SECRETARY ANTONY BLINKEN: No, we don't. As President Biden said the other night, everything we're seeing tells us that the decision we believe President Putin has made to invade is moving forward. We've seen that with provocations created by the Russians or separatist forces over the weekend, false flag operations, now the news just this morning that the -- quote, unquote -- "exercises" Russia was engaged in, in Belarus with 30,000 Russian forces that were supposed to end this weekend will now continue because of tensions in Eastern Ukraine, tensions created by Russia and the separatist forces it backs there. 

 MARGARET BRENNAN: We understand President Biden is calling a meeting of his National Security Council today. What decisions will be made at that meeting? 

SECRETARY ANTONY BLINKEN: Well, it's an opportunity to review the latest information, the latest intelligence, to check signals, to check plans. I just came back from Munich with the vice president. She led our delegation there to make sure that we are in lockstep with allies and partners on everything that we're going to do, both to see if we can still prevent President Putin from carrying forth his decision and, if not, making sure that we're fully coordinated with allies and partners on the response. They've reiterated that massive consequences will follow if President Putin carries forth with the aggression. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, when we last spoke on January 23, you told me that if Russia engages in other tappet tactics, short of invasion, hybrid action, cyberattacks, efforts to bring a government down, there will be a swift, calibrated and united response. Aren't they doing all of those things right now? And where is the U.S. response? 

SECRETARY ANTONY BLINKEN: First of all, we've taken significant action over the -- in recent months, supplying Ukraine with more defensive -- lethal defensive assistance over the last year than in any previous years. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: But those cyberattacks were just attributed by the White House on Friday. Those just happened. 

SECRETARY ANTONY BLINKEN: And we've worked closely with Ukraine to ward them off, to get back up and running. We've now made an attribution to Russia for the cyberattacks. We're looking closely at the response that that -- that that may call for. And we're doing all of this in coordination with allies and partners. If Russia commits the aggression that may be in train, all of that has been part of our plan. And we're carrying it forward. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: You said that you will meet with Russia's top diplomat, but only if Russia does not invade. 


MARGARET BRENNAN: And -- but it seems contradictory, because what you are saying is, that's tanks and that's planes. But does that mean Russia has carte blanche to continue cyberattacks, to continue funding separatists in the east? If they keep tensions at this low boil, is that acceptable to you? Will you still sit down and negotiate? 

SECRETARY ANTONY BLINKEN: It's not -- well, two things. There are two separate things there. First of all, it's not acceptable, and it's one of the things that we've talked about in some detail with allies and partners this weekend. That is a scenario by which Russia just keeps things at a low or medium boil. And there will be a response to that too. But in terms of engaging Russia, my job as a diplomat is to leave absolutely no stone unturned to see if we can prevent a war. And if there's anything that I can do to do that, I'm going to do it. President Biden has made very clear that he's prepared to meet President Putin at any time, in any format if that can help prevent a war. And as long as -- even if the die is cast, until it's settled, until we know that the tanks are rolling, the planes are flying and the aggression has fully begun, we're going to do everything we can to prevent it. But we're prepared either way. And we're prepared with a response that will have massive consequences for Russia if it actually carries this through. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes. You have consistently described sanctions as a deterrent, but I know you heard President Zelensky really light into the Western allies in that speech in Munich. And he accused you and the West of appeasement of Vladimir Putin over the past few years. He said: "We don't need more sanctions after the bombardment or after we have no borders or after we have no economy or after parts of our country will be occupied. What are you waiting for?" What are you waiting for? 

SECRETARY ANTONY BLINKEN: I can't speak, Margaret, to the last few years. I can speak to the last few months and to the last year. And in that period of time, the United States, again, has provided to Ukraine more assistance, including lethal military assistance, defensive assistance, more in the past year than at any time in any previous year. We have rallied other countries to stand in support of Ukraine as well to provide their own assistance. We've rallied other countries to make clear and to put together in great detail the massive consequences that will befall Russia if it engages in this aggression. The purpose of that is to do everything we can to deter it, to prevent a war, to deter the aggression. And we don't want to pull the trigger until we have to, because we lose the deterrent effect. At the same time, we also don't want to detail in public exactly what we're going to do, because that will forewarn Russia. It will be able to prepare more effectively to try to mitigate the sanctions. 


SECRETARY ANTONY BLINKEN: So, all of this is very well-thought-through. And, look, I recognize President Zelensky is in a very difficult position, as the leader of a country that is under siege by Russia. We are doing everything we can to both help Ukraine defend itself and to make clear what will happen to Russia if it undertakes this aggression. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: When I spoke with the Russian ambassador, he referred to Crimea, that part of Southern Ukraine that was annexed by Russia in 2014, as part of the Russian Federation. Will the U.S. in any way consider recognizing that, ceding that territory or any territories in the east of Ukraine as a diplomatic way out to avoid a larger war? 


MARGARET BRENNAN: No, hard stop, that is not up for negotiation? 


MARGARET BRENNAN: The president has said that the United States will continue to support Ukraine in the future after an invasion. If there is an occupation, does that mean the United States is committed to funding and arming an insurgency? 

SECRETARY ANTONY BLINKEN: The president said that we will, in the event of an invasion, double down on our support for Ukraine. And that means in terms of security assistance, economic assistance, diplomatic assistance, political assistance, humanitarian assistance, you name it. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: Secretary Blinken, good luck this week. Thank you for your time this morning. 

SECRETARY ANTONY BLINKEN: Thanks, Margaret. Good to be with you. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: Face the Nation will be back in one minute. Stay with us. 


MARGARET BRENNAN: We turn now to NATO's secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg. He joins us from Brussels. Good morning to you, Mr. Secretary. I will get right to the latest reporting from CBS, which is that intelligence shows Russian troops have actually received orders to proceed with the invasion. And as David Martin reported, that goes down to the detail of how they would maneuver in their sector of the battlefield. How will NATO respond to this?

SECRETARY GENERAL JENS STOLTENBERG: So our main responsibility is to make sure that all allies are safe and secure and that we provide a deterrence and defense to them, and that's the reason why we already have increased our presence- military presence of NATO forces in the eastern part of the alliance. And also– 

MARGARET BRENNAN: You'll be increasing that?

SEC. GEN STOLTENBERG: why we are ready to further reinforce that presence if there is an attack on Ukraine. This has been a crisis in the making for a long time, so therefore we have gradually increased our presence and, as I said, ready to further reinforce that.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Now that Russia and Belarus have said those troops are staying in the north of Ukraine. Does that mean NATO has to either, you know, increase more advanced weaponry in the region or move in more troops? Or is that still yet to be decided?

SEC. GEN STOLTENBERG: We have- we have all of the (inaudible) since 2014, when Russia invaded and annexed Crimea and- and started to destabilize eastern Ukraine Donbas. We have reinforced and implemented the biggest reinforcement of collective defense since the end of the Cold War, with battlegroups in the Baltic region in- in Poland, with increased defense spending every year since 2014 and with a higher readiness of the NATO forces. So we have implemented significant reinforcements of- of NATO already. And then over the last weeks or months, we have augmented- added even more forces and troops to our presence in East. I think what we are now faced with is a new normal in European security. We see Russia being willing to contest fundamental values for our security by the use of force and also by the threat of use of force. And- and therefore I- we have started all of the work on or more longer-term adjustment of NATO's posture, NATO's presence–


SEC. GEN STOLTENBERG: along the eastern flank.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We also know that U.S. projects there could be as many as five million or more refugees created by an invasion. What will NATO do if Russia weaponizes refugees and pushes them into your member states?

SEC. GEN STOLTENBERG: So first of all, the most important thing is to prevent a new armed attack on Ukraine, and therefore we support all efforts by NATO allies to find a political solution, and NATO's also ready to sit down in the NATO-Russia Council with Russia. If Russia decides to use force, that may, of course, be a large number of people fleeing Ukraine. The NATO Response Force, the forces we are prepared to deploy, for instance, to Poland, to Romania, to all the neighboring countries, also have the capabilities that can help to deal with migrant and refugee crises so that we can assist. We will never be the first responder when it comes to refugee crisis, but we can help and and assist the efforts of NATO allies. And we did that already in Poland and Lithuania. When you saw Belarus trying to weaponize or use refugees and migrants as a means to to intimidate these countries earlier last year. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: Vladimir Putin personally oversaw some strategic nuclear exercises yesterday. Is this an attempt to intimidate NATO?

SEC. GEN STOLTENBERG: It is a way for them to demonstrate all the capabilities they have. This is a regular exercise, but it was planned for last fall and now it happens in the midst of this significant Russian military build up in and around Ukraine with the largest concentration of combat troops I've seen in Europe since the end of the Cold War. So last week, actually, Russia said that they will step back. Russia is stepping up with more troops and higher and even closer to the to the Ukrainian border. And also the fact that this exercise, they said, should end today will now continue. So all of this fits into the picture that Russia is preparing for an invasion of Ukraine.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Bigger picture though, Ukraine's president blasted the West as you know yesterday when he spoke at Munich, he said, The security architecture of our world is brittle. It's obsolete. The west is treating Ukraine like a buffer between itself and Russia." Exactly what is the timeline for Ukraine's membership in NATO's?

SEC. GEN STOLTENBERG: We have not set any timeline for that about NATO allies have been very clear that it is for Ukraine and 30 NATO allies to decide on membership and not Russia. And second, we have provided over many years significant support to Ukraine. We help them to modernize the defense and security institutions to strengthen their cyber defenses. And NATO allies, the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and others have also provided significant training and different kinds of military equipment, defensive weapons. So the Ukrainian Armed Forces are much stronger now with better equipped, better trained troops than in 2014. And this is not least because of all the support that NATO's allies have provided over all these years.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mr. Secretary General, we'll be watching closely what happens in the coming days. Thank you for your time this morning.

SEC. GEN STOLTENBERG: Thanks so much, Margaret.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We'll be right back with a lot more FACE THE NATION, so stay with us.


MARGARET BRENNAN: And there's some breaking news out of London this morning. Queen Elizabeth has tested positive for COVID and is experiencing mild symptoms. Buckingham Palace says she will continue with a light schedule at Windsor Castle this week. She turns 96 in April. 


MARGARET BRENNAN: And we will be right back with a lot more Face the Nation, including both the Russian and Ukrainian ambassadors to the United States. Stay with us. 


MARGARET BRENNAN: Welcome back to FACE THE NATION. We go now to Russia's ambassador to the United States, Anatoly Antonov. Good morning to you, Ambassador. And thank you for coming on the program. 

ANATOLY ANTONOV, RUSSIAN AMBASSADOR TO THE U.S.: Good morning. Thank you very much for inviting. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: I'll get right to it. President Biden says that President Putin has decided to invade Ukraine. Is he correct? 

ANATOLY ANTONOV: There is no invasion and there is no such plans. It was fixed in Russian documents that we conveyed to our American friends and the State Department, Russia has publicly decided -- declared its readiness to continue the diplomatic efforts to resolve all outstanding issues. Russian troops are on sovereign Russian territory. We don't threaten anyone. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: Respectfully, Ambassador, you have troops in Belarus, which is not technically Russian territory. You have troops in Moldova. You have separatists you are funding and supporting in the east of Ukraine. This is not your territory.

ANATOLY ANTONOV: Yes. When we are talking about Byelorussia, I hoping that there will be an opportunity for us discuss it. We will discuss joint drills that are ongoing. And I would like to say --

MARGARET BRENNAN: They were supposed to end today. Are those troops staying in Belarus indefinitely? 

ANATOLY ANTONOV: You'll see that as to United States, you have so many military bases in various countries. As to us, we have just only a few. And we can't see any contradiction to any legal body norms of this (INAUDIBLE). 

MARGARET BRENNAN: It looks like intimidation. You have over 190,000 personnel in and around Ukraine. You've got it surrounded on three borders. Your words and your actions don't seem to match, sir. 

ANATOLY ANTONOV: Again and again I would like to say you, we have our legitimate right to have our troops where we want on Russian territory. On Russian territory. And I would like to say you that we are not a threaten to anybody. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: President Zelensky says he wants to meet with President Putin. If you're interested in diplomacy, why doesn't that meeting happen? 

ANATOLY ANTONOV: Today the problem is not Ukraine. The problem is what kind of world order will be in the future. Whether we can, together, establish a firm security, guaranteed for everybody, without undercutting very important principle of indivisible security for everybody. 


 ANATOLY ANTONOV: It means that you have no right to strengthen your security at the expense of a Russian Federation (ph). And we also have no such right. It's clear such principle (ph) -- 

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mr. Ambassador -- so, Mr. Ambassador -- 

ANATOLY ANTONOV: (INAUDIBLE) in many documents, endorsed by United States and Russia. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: OK. You didn't answer the question -- you didn't answer the question about President Putin and President Zelensky meeting. But, moving on, is the big goal here for Russia, ultimately, to get the rest of the world to recognize Crimea as part of Russia? Is that what this is all about? 

ANATOLY ANTONOV: An issue of Crimea is solved. And issue of Crimea is closed for us. It's a Russian territory, and we don't want even to discuss this issue at all. It was not -- how to say -- military operation by Russian forces. It was a decision by people who live in Crimea. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: Is Russia ultimately trying to get the rest of the world to give that portion of Ukraine over to the Russian Federation? Is that what you're trying to do here? 

ANATOLY ANTONOV: We are not trying to take any territory of a foreign countries. I would like to confirm that Donbas and Luhansk (ph) is a part of Ukraine. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you think your policy right now is effective, given that the reaction to Russia's military buildup has been for NATO and the United States to just pour more money and more weapons into the area? Isn't that the exact opposite of what you say you're trying to do? 

ANATOLY ANTONOV: You see that we are very much concerned what United States and other NATO countries are doing. They are pumping off Ukraine with a lot of weapons. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: You have the largest military buildup in Europe since the end of World War II. How do you expect NATO to react? 

ANATOLY ANTONOV: You'll see that we did a lot of to withdraw our troops from various regions that are very close to Baltic states, to eastern European states. We withdrawal a lot of troops from Kaliningrad area. And nobody even said us thank you. At the same time, we see five ways of expansion of NATO. NATO has started exploration -- military technical operation of Ukraine now. It's not possible for us to swallow (ph). You say that, there is no space for us to retreat. There is just only a Russian Federation. Now we see -- 

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, you know that President Biden has said Ukraine won't join NATO in the near future. And the German chancellor said it's absurd for there to be a war because Ukraine's membership in NATO isn't going to be allowed any time soon. So, why aren't statements like that good enough? 

ANATOLY ANTONOV: We would like to put everything on the paper. We would like to see legally-binding guarantees for Russian security. So, we sent our package of proposals, what should we do? We don't want to see next wave of expansion of NATO. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: You have the largest nuclear forces in the world. You have hypersonic missiles. Why are you so threatened by a defensive alliance and a country like Ukraine? 

ANATOLY ANTONOV: We have concern not about Ukraine. We have concern regarding activities of NATO. We see how NATO is not -- 

MARGARET BRENNAN: It's a defensive alliance? 

ANATOLY ANTONOV: No, come on, it's not a defensive alliance. You say that North Atlantic Treaty, the organization is not peace-loving NGO. It's political military machinery, a bloc (ph). We would like to stop such expansion. We would like United States to withdraw their troops and their weaponry from those states because it's our lives, it's our guarantees of security for our people. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mr. Ambassador, thank you for your time. Thank you for coming and answering questions this morning. We'll be right back. 


MARGARET BRENNAN: Our interview with the Russian ambassador was taped earlier this morning before we learned from David Martin that Russian forces have actually received orders to invade. We turn now to the Ukrainian Ambassador to the United States, Oksana Markarova. Good morning and welcome back to the program, Ambassador.

AMBASSADOR OKSANA MARKAROVA: Good morning. It's always glad- happy to be here.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Given what we have learned, do you believe that there is still a window of opportunity to actually stop Russia from invading?

AMB. MARKAROVA: Well, we will work day and night to make use of any possibility to still prevent Russia from invasion. But unfortunately, what we see during the last two days- or three days now tells us that contrary to what Mr. Antonov was just saying, that not only Russia amassed all the troops around the border, but they also threw their illegal armed formations in uncontrolled Donetsk and Lugansk started a series of provocations. They started shelling our civilian objects. They- we have already two people dead, 11 people wounded, and it keeps going as we speak.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Was it significant to you at all that he said those that part of the East actually is part of Ukraine?

AMB. MARKAROVA: Well, that part is- Donetsk and Lugansk is part of Ukraine. Crimea is part of Ukraine.

MARGARET BRENNAN: He disagreed with as you heard him.

AMB. MARKAROVA: Well, absolutely. But here he disagrees with us and the rest of the world. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: President Zelensky called for a cease fire this morning. What can you tell us about what is actually happening on the ground and-and in some of these diplomatic talks?

AMB. MARKAROVA: Well, President Zelensky's main concern, main concern is to preserve the country, but also preserve every life of Ukrainian citizens. So, we are using, while preparing to defend our country, we're using every possibility to still choose the diplomatic path and force Russia to choose the diplomatic path. So everything from the UN, to OEC, to Vienna document which we engaged to the consultations on, to Budapest memorandum. I mean, we are calling not only on aggressor, which is Russia, but also on all of our friends and allies to get together and use every opportunity to still deter Russia from invading.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But your president- you are a diplomat. You are choosing your words carefully. Your president was very sharp with his yesterday, and he made clear that the West is not doing enough in his view. What are you asking Washington to do right now?

AMB. MARKAROVA: Look, we are very grateful to the United States, to everyone, to President Biden, Vice President Harris, Secretary Blinken, Congress on a bipartisan basis. We're very grateful for all the support, military support, political support, strong messages, even more importantly for leadership in getting the transatlantic unity behind it and you know, everyone getting together to support us. What we see right now is all the strong messages I get to get Russia not only to get out from the borders of Ukraine, but also during the past three days started an offensive.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Your president said it was appeasement. Appeasement over the past few years.

AMB. MARKAROVA: Well, again, let me remind everyone we are at war, and we are under attack for the past eight years, and should harsh sanctions or harsh reactions were in place in 2014 and 2015, maybe today we would be discussing the rocket launch that was yesterday was the first stage from Ukrainian companies or some other, more peaceful items to discuss. But unfortunately, today we are starting this morning as people are being shelled at in Ukraine.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You were previously Ukraine's finance minister. You worked in the Finance Ministry. I know that Ukraine has come under incredible cyber attacks over the past few years, and you expect them to start up. You've already had the largest in your country's history just within the past week. What specifically do you expect to happen in the next few days? Target your electrical grid? Your banks? Water? What should we be prepared for?

AMB. MARKAROVA: Well, we expect everything, unfortunately, and we know that again, our intelligence is now declassified and Putin publicly. A lot of information about the prepared terrorist acts on the and controlled territories of Donetsk and Luhansk, but also warning about all potential cyber and information attacks. So on cyber front, we learned our lessons from the previous attacks during the previous eight years, and we are specifically protecting our financial, electric- electrical and other critical systems for Ukraine. We can already see that couple a week ago when we had one of the largest attack on our financial and banking system, contrary to 2015 and 16, when these attacks resulted in massive breaches of security and some of the banks not been operational for days, this time it- the majority of banks were not even affected. And some of the banks were back up pretty quickly. So again, together with the United States, we're working a lot on the cyber protection and prevention of the cyber attacks.

MARGARET BRENNAN: There have been a number of reports in recent days that US intelligence has evidence that Russia is creating a hit list of Ukrainians, of Russians, of other activists and political leaders living outside the country. Are you concerned about your own safety?

AMB. MARKAROVA: Difficult question, but I think we all are concerned about Ukraine and there are so many Ukrainians that are ready to resist and fight for Ukraine in Ukraine, but also outside of Ukraine. We have great community here in the United States as well so that, you know, whatever they will in whatever crimes they're willing to commit in order to kill some of us, it will not stop others and it will not help their cause.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Ambassador, thank you for your time today. Thank you. We'll be back in a moment.


MARGARET BRENNAN: U.S. intelligence officials said Friday that Russia was behind this past week's cyber-attacks in Ukraine that knocked banks and government websites offline. Now, there's a warning that American companies need to be on alert. For more, we go to CBS News cybersecurity expert and analyst Chris Krebs. Good morning to you. 


MARGARET BRENNAN: CBS reported that the Treasury Department actually sat down with some corporate leaders, including from JPMorgan, from Citigroup, some of the country's largest financial institutions. What do you see as the most immediate threat here in the U.S. from a cyber-attack that happens, you know, in a country 5,000 miles away?

KREBS: Well, the U.S. government has been meeting with critical infrastructure partners now for many months, so it hasn't just been last couple of weeks, as I understand it's going back as far as November or even earlier specific to the escalation of tensions here. What they've done is look back over the last several years of where Russian security services and cyber actors have targeted U.S. infrastructure, and that's energy, that's transportation, logistics and, of course, finance. And they're also combining it through a series of war games and scenario playing- scenarios playing out how the Russians may respond to any sanctions we could impose. And that's, I think, where we get to the financial services industry. And so that's probably at the top of the list as you consider some of the sanctions we've talked about. And that would be probably the- the counter move by the Kremlin and some of those security services.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So, two sort of distinct threats. One, unintended consequences of spillover, and the other if Russia decides to target the United States. What exactly is the cyber doctrine of the Biden administration? Do you know? 

KREBS: Well, I think- I think that's unclear. I think it's probably a continuation of the prior administration where we enabled the Cyber Command actors and some of those other operators to go out over there under the defend forward and persistent engagement philosophy to get into the networks of our adversaries to understand where they are, where they're going and to put sand in their gear, so to speak, and add friction to their operations so they're too busy cleaning up their mess over there rather than- than coming here. And I think we're seeing a bit of that forward- defend forward mission manifesting in some of the recent disclosures.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The White House briefed on this Friday, and the cyber director said that while there's no credible threat at this exact moment, if the U.S. is hit, we are prepared to respond. The president himself said if American companies are hit, we will respond. What does the response look like? Would we even know it happened?

KREBS: That's- I think that's a great question of whether it would be an overt or covert, and it's not necessarily that it would be cyber for cyber, so to speak. You may see economic measures; you may see diplomatic measures in response to any sort of cyber activity against U.S. infrastructure. But at a minimum, what I would expect is, again, targeting of the systems, the infrastructure that the Russian operators use to conduct their attacks and make it so that they cannot do a follow up attack using that- that same known infrastructure.

MARGARET BRENNAN: How, you know, more broadly in terms of the strategy of the Biden administration, what do you think of their decision to declassify this cyber-attack, which they did pretty darn quickly and some of the other intelligence that they've picked up?

KREBS: Well, first, I think it's- it's worth pointing out that, as I mentioned earlier, they- they've had a fairly forward leaning engagement effort with infrastructure partners, with industry to protect domestic systems here at home. As recently as last Saturday, CISA, the agency that I led in the last administration released their Shields Up campaign, which provides resources to protect systems here in the U.S. But more importantly, and I say this is a former counteractive measures aficionado in the government, I've been really impressed with how they have proactively called out the bad activity, the malign activity of the Russian government to again delay some of their efforts. I mean, this is a rapid declassification that in years past, particularly on cyber activities, has taken months, if not a year or more. We're seeing it happen in a matter of hours. And it's it's- it's a dedicated effort, it's purposeful and it's- I hope we see more of it in the future.

MARGARET BRENNAN: How would you assess NATO's ability to respond to a cyber-attack? You heard Secretary Blinken say, you know, it is something that will be addressed. What would NATO do? Do they even have a plan?

KREBS: Well, NATO has capabilities, and they've- they've declared that cyber falls under the- cyber-attack, rather, on a member would fall under the Article Five provisions that would enable them as a- NATO as a team to respond to an attack on a NATO member. But it's not clear what that looks like just in practice, at least just yet. The language in Article Five is- is about restoring stability and restoring security, as well as just the threshold matter of an attack would have to be intentional and dedicated, likely on a NATO member. So, at this point, not Ukraine, but instead perhaps Poland, the U.S. or anyone else. But in the meantime, NATO can provide support teams for defensive purposes, and the U.S. has been supporting Ukrainian cyber- cyber efforts for quite some time to help bolster those networks, as you just heard the ambassador talk about some of the focus that they've had improving their cybersecurity.

MARGARET BRENNAN: All right. Chris Krebs, thank you for the warning to be on alert. Appreciate your time today.

And we want to take a look at the impact that the Ukraine crisis and some of the spillover we just talked about could have on our economy if Russia escalates. 

CBS News business analyst Jill Schlesinger joins us. Jill, we just laid out a lot. But in terms of the threat to American corporations and the uncertainty that we now have confronting the U.S. economy, how do you think this plays out? 

JILL SCHLESINGER: Well, I think this has a far-reaching economic consequence potentially. And it really starts with the flow of everything from petroleum products, to maybe agricultural products, like wheat, or maybe iron ore and aluminum. These products, these commodities, have been soaring in price and I think those higher prices are really going to make people think twice. Now, when we talk about the businesses, businesses truly have a real issue here because they may pull back on their spending. They may be worried about the supply chain. We just heard Chris Krebs talk about these cyber security threats. 

All of this put together weighs on so much of the economy. And I think what is clear is that investors have really started to pay attention to this over the last week or so. Markets had been selling off earlier in January, but we've seen a real escalation of fear creep into the marketplace. Right now the S&P 500, through Friday's close, is down about 9.3 percent from the high reached in early January. Very close to the correction. I think these jitters are really going to keep some folks up over the next week or so. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: And how do you think this will impact the Federal Reserve's decision on interest rates and that fight to get control of inflation? 

JILL SCHLESINGER: Well, I think this puts the Fed in a pickle because we are looking at a situation that could slow down all of the progress, the economic progress, that we've seen. It could slow things down in the future. And yet the Ukrainian situation is inflationary at its -- at its core. And that means that these 40-year highs that we've seen in inflation here in the U.S., those high levels are due to persist. No wonder the Federal Reserve chair, Jay Powell, said that they're monitoring the situation closely. I think they're in a tough situation, Margaret, in that they are truly forced to raise interest rates next month to contain prices, and yet that could be happening as the economy is slowing down. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: Jill, it will keep you busy, I know. Thank you for your analysis today. We'll be right back. 


MARGARET BRENNAN: That's it for us today. Stay with us on CBS, on the broadcast network, and our CBS News streaming service, as well as, for all the latest on Russia and Ukraine. 

For FACE THE NATION, we'll see you next week. I'm Margaret Brennan. 


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