Ronan Farrow Daily   |  April 21, 2014

Can west gauge how far Putin’s willing to go?

Vice President Joe Biden is in Ukraine in one of the most high profile U.S. efforts yet to support the country’s interim government. And a new report from The New York Times says photos link gunmen in Ukraine to Russia. NBC’s Jim Maceda, Nina Khrushcheva and Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., discuss.

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

>>> in. first to the crisis in ukraine , vice president joe biden is in that country in one of the high profile u.s. efforts yet to support ukraine 's interim government . he arrives in the wake of bloody shootout at the checkpoint in eastern ukraine yesterday which left three people dead. ukraine and russia trading blame. but new photos provided to a european monitoring body and published by the new york times today give some insight into who has been seizing government sites in eastern ukraine . the times says these photos link the gunmen known as greenmen to russia . nbc news has not confirmed which is alleged in the photos but the u.s. state department says they quote, only further confirm russia 's connection. it's something that have had mir putin has repeatedly denied but ukraine 's prime minister says the world should be concerned. with putin in particular.

>> president putin has a dream to restore the soviet union . and every day he goes further and further and god knows where is the final destination.

>> first let's get the latest on this from jim maceda on the ground in donetsk. thanks for joining us. it was a violent weekend. any additional fallout from that attack today?

>> reporter: hi, ronan. first of all, we have to say this is the last day of a three-day truce, that truce was called or launched by the kiev government on saturday and today it has been holding though it has obviously been severely tested by that attack that you mentioned on that pro-russian checkpoint on sunday. now the pro-russian separatists blame the ultranationalist military group and kiev says it was staged. i've got to say we and many other journalists were at the scene yesterday and a lot of it did look con trifed but perhaps the worst fallout from the incident is that ordinary ukrainians we've been speaking to, people in the east who have wanted dialogue with kiev , not extremists or radicals, they are now talking about joining up with separatists as a result of the attack, be it real or staged. in terms of complying with the geneva deal, there still has been no surrendering of weapons or vacating of buildings by either side, be it pro-ukrainian or pro-russian. that said, osce has now fanned out across ukraine , 100 members are here carrying a lot of copies of the geneva peace deal and trying to push compliance along. that could become mission impossible .

>> all right jim maceda, thank you for the overview. this serves to rach et up pressure on president obama and united states to act. why america and what are the pit falls if america does act more aggressively? for that i turn to nina krush chefa. i'll start with you congressman, president obama as we mentioned, weathering a new round of flak for not being aggressive on a whole range of foreign policy challenges, including this crisis in ukraine . listen to david brooks on "meet the press" yesterday talking about this.

>> let's face it, obama whether deservedly or not does have -- i'll say it crudely, but a man hood problem in the middle east . is he tough enough to stand up to someone like putin . there's an assumption he's not tough.

>> quite a statement. obviously in syria one can understand where that reputation may come from because there was a concerted push for intervention and it was dropped. in ukraine where he's been sir couple inspect from the start, do you think it is earned?

>> i don't think so. i think the president wanted to give russia a chance to deescalate. it looks like russia wants to continue to infiltrate andage state and deceive the world what it's doing in ukraine . it may be very necessary for the administration i think to step up sanctions. the big challenge there is not the administration. the challenge is getting europe on board because sanctions will be much more deeply felt in europe . but i do think it's going to ultimately be necessary. russia doesn't show any intention to pull back its green men, these infiltrated ukraine and are organizing a lot of theage tags there. i think look, the president doesn't want to turn this into world war iii and that's very wise. at the same time it looks like russia is showing no signs of backing down.

>> certainly a lot of arguments for caution here and a lot of complex issues to be embroiled. let's go to you on that question, nina, do you think the ambition out of russia at this point is all-out invasion, knowing the history both personally and teaching it?

>> i don't think so. all-out invasion is not in putin 's interest because he pretends or wants to be the world statesman and be listened to and wants to be great. if he really takes ukraine as a country, which i don't think he can because it's too much of a piece of land and too close to europe to take it over, his job and we've discussed it on this show, to make sure the kiev government now, the pro-western government appears very weak and it already does. and also show that the west is absolutely incapable to keep the promises and putin is a tough man and says what he does and stands by his word and punishes the west by not abiding to its own word.

>> the unfortunate condition of so much of foreign policy that caution gets one burned. we'll see if that ends up happening to the president here. jay carney urged russia to use its influence to pressure the military groups to disarm. strikingly at odds with all of the evidence we have that russia is behind those para military groups. take a listen to what the response on the hill has been on this line of arguing. bob corker talked about this just yesterday.

>> i think we need to step on out and do the things we threaten. i don't think putin will respond to anything else other than us overtly doing the things we've laid out.

>> so clearly this tact of requesting russia to use influence in a positive way is deem insufficient by some elements on the hill. what do you say to that kind of response?

>> look, it does certainly seem like russia is not backing away from its secret campaign to destabilize the country. and i think it's ultimate goal is to try to prevent a meaningful election next month throughout all of ukraine which gives more legitimacy to the kiev government. it's going to be tough to stop that and sanctions are probably the best answer to that. in terms of american military support in ukraine , ukraine is in such a weak position militarily, that's not going to slow down russia one heartbeat if russia chooses to invade. what may slow down russia is the idea of sectorwide sanctions and that's why i think we need to line up europe behind sanctions on banking industry and mining industry and energy industry . that may be an adequate deter ent not to the continued destabilization program but to o vert russian invasion.

>> we are starting to see signs of that economic impact and ruble in free fall and a lot of capital flight out of russia . it remains to be seen whether it will be persuasive. do you think any of the relationship between the united states and russia is salvageable in the short term?

>> i think it's going to last a really long time. putin has done enough damage for maybe even decades to come. i think the united states really needs to go back to 1946 , to great american diplomat and start designing or explaining the sources of soviet conduct, somebody has to design the sources of russian conduct and see how you psychlogically deal with president putin which has become a really serious matter, not just in words the barack obama , regional power . the markets will really teach them how not to use military force . if ruble falls further and if russian economy falls further, then they would be an issue for putin and his popularity may tumble down.

>> as congressman schiff points out, the bottom line speaks more powerfully. thank you both.

>> you bet.