Ronan Farrow Daily   |  March 03, 2014

Putin tightening his grip on Ukraine

The tug-of-war over Ukraine continues, and international stability could hang in the balance. NBC’s Ian Williams and former UN Amb. Bill Richardson discuss with Ronan Farrow.

Share This:

This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> today the tug of war over ukraine continues and international stability could hang in the balance. it is three days into what the white house is described as a russian invasion of ukraine and now vladimir putin is tightening his grip. today russia 's navy demanded that all ukrainian forces in crimea surrender by tomorrow.

>> this could spread to the east and it's already dangerous and could get horrendous.

>> john kerry arrives in ukraine tomorrow on a diplomatic mission to support the interim ukrainian government . secretary kerry warned there could be repercussions for russia and he said all options are still on the table.

>> this is an act of aggression that is completely trumped up in terms of its pretext. it's really 19th century behavior in the 21st century .

>> 19th scentury, a 90-minute phone call between putin and obama yielded no solutions. and president obama is taking hits at home for his perceived inability to reign in russia .

>> would do we care? zbls the ultimate result of a fek less foreign policy where nobody believes in america anymore.

>> the u.s. delegation will be skipping the pairalympics in sochi because of what is happening in the ukraine . pro russian demonstrators clashed with police over the weekend. we have new video of putin 's military exercises near st. petersburg, do you think ukrainians on the ground there welcome the russian invasion in any sense? some of the demonstrations have been pro- russia , correct?

>> reporter: that's right. if you go down into the square behind me, where pro russian pro testers encamped under a giant statue of lenin, that would be very encouraged and hope to see it repeated here. a few hundred kilometers here, another big city in east ukraine , today they occupied the ground floor of another government building, pro-russian pro testers. clearly they would like to see intervention. russia may be creating chaos with that in mind, trying to create a situation where they can come in as they have done in crimea , using that chaos as an excuse or threat to the russian speaking population as an excuse. now, whether that view is widely held in the east is a moot point. clearly this is russian speaking. many of the people here are ethnic russians but that doesn't necessarily mean they would welcome a russian invasion. clearly if the russians did come into east ukraine , it would be far messier i think than the clinical operation that we've seen down in crimea , ronan.

>> all right, nbc news correspondent ian williams reporting from ukraine . thank you so much for joining us. stay safe out there. why does crimea matter so much to putin ? what's behind the invasion? reason one, crimea is the closest warm water port. it doesn't freeze in the watet winter and uses it to ship arms to the government. reason two, this is the home to russian navy ships in the black sea fleet which made its base in crimea since 1783 . i want to welcome bill richardson , former governor of new mexico . thank you for joining us. i want to start with an editorial in the "woul industrial journal", the world is full of bad actors looking to exploit the opening created by mr. obama's retreat from leadership and mr. putin is the leading edge of what could become a new world order or disorder rather. do you think there's anything the president could have done to stop vladimir putin ahead of this?

>> no, i think the president has acted appropriately decisively. putin is on an ego trip. he wants to capture the old soef soviet. sees opportunity in crimea , 6,000 troops there. he is testing nato and the european union and west. he's on a mission to show that russia internationally still matter, that it still has foreign policy , military sway and it's going to try to recapture its old glory. a lot of it is psychological. and what's going to be critically important and the president has made it clear, there are going to be costs and going to be diplomatic isolation. there's going to be sanctions and possibly some kind of military presence by nato by the u.s. in the surrounding area. so again, it's a chess game and it's important that we stay strong. the allies stay strong. united behind a heavy response.

>> i mentioned secretary kerry is heading to ukraine tomorrow. he's been warning putin in harsh terms but did the same regarding syria which was viewed as a misfire by many. do you think secretary kerry 's diplomatic bluster is losing its punch. do you think he could still be effective in this?

>> he was very strong yesterday. and i think it's important that he go to ukraine , show his support to the opposition, to the democratic forces, but he also send a message to ukraine , don't get into a brush fire with the russians . don't mess with the russians in crimea . let's try to resolve this issue in a diplomatic, sanctions in a diplomatic isolation way. i think in the long run, ronan, the fact that ukraine ousted yanukovych shows that they want the west. they want the european union . they want closer ties to the u.s. ukraine is a very important country, strategically located. it had russia 's old nuclear weapons and it's a country with a hugely important human population on the verge of strong economic recovery. so i think in the long run, things look good for us for the west, but at the same time, we've got to get the russians to retreat from crimea , the 6,000 troops, make sure they don't go into southern -- the southern part of ukraine . make sure those troops are not reinforced that are there in crimea , don't mess with them. i think it's important that the world send a message that they are going to be serious costs that might affect the russian ruble and affect russian currency , then putin will listen.

>> a lot at stake at russia and also for the united states . thank you, governor bill richardson , we may come back to you on this