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New World Disorder; Missing Plane Mystery; Imagine a World

Aired March 24, 2014 - 14:00   ET


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour.

President Obama arrived in the Netherlands today, the first stop on a European trip that has him determined to marshal allies into making President Vladimir Putin pay for remaking the post-Cold War world order by annexing Crimea and now storming the last of the Ukrainian bases there.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Europe and America are united in our support of the Ukrainian government and the Ukrainian people. We're united in imposing a cost on Russia for its actions so far.


AMANPOUR: And the United States has imposed sanctions that are hitting Russian oligarchs in the wallet and causing the pain. Britain today formally subtracted Russia from the G8 and said the G7 would not be holding its next summit in Sochi as planned.

But Putin himself seems to be setting the pace and thumbing his nose at U.S. and European countermoves so far. Seems to be daring them to inflict enough pain to really get his attention. While he's also making a show of force, massing troops along the Ukrainian border which NATO's top military commander calls very, very sizable and very, very ready. That worries leaders from Kiev to Moldova and all along Russia's western borders. Even the president of Belarus criticized the precedent set by annexing Crimea.

The Ukrainian foreign minister meeting at last today with Russia's foreign minister, says the chances of war are becoming higher.

So what will it take for Putin to deescalate? The former U.S. deputy secretary of state, Strobe Talbott, and the former Russian foreign minister, Andrei Kozyrev, worked together to manage Russia's last big transition, the breakup of the Soviet Union and the birth of the Russian Federation. We are going to have that interview in a moment.

But first, the latest on the plane and the families with the latest news.


AMANPOUR: Andrei Kozyrev, former foreign minister; Strobe Talbott, former deputy secretary of state, welcome to the program.



AMANPOUR: I want to start with you, former Foreign Minister Kozyrev, what is your gut feeling? Do you believe that this is just the opening gambit?

KOZYREV: Well, I think it's very much an impromptu kind of show and a lot will depend on internal situation in Ukraine and on international response to show. Yes, I would be very cautious to pass judgment what happens next.

AMANPOUR: Strobe, you just heard former Foreign Minister say that he couldn't make a judgment and we shouldn't make a judgment about an increased appetite for land by President Putin.

TALBOTT: Well, I think that Andrei used a very, very important word when he said "impromptu" to describe the way in which President Putin has reacted to events. I think he has been making this up as he goes along. So Andrei is absolutely right; it's hard to predict.

But there's one point that's very important. We shouldn't talk about the possibility in the future of Putin going further than just Crimea. He has already going further than just in Crimea. Now that doesn't mean he's actually formally moved in, annexed territory, had a overt invasion.

But through all kinds of assets that Russia has inside of Ukraine, he's doing everything he can to shake the situation up, destabilize the country so that he can have more leverage over what happens next.

And he's also moving on other parts of the periphery of the Russian Federation, particularly Transnistria, which is a situation -- while not very well known yet, it'll become better known in the weeks to come -- a situation very much like that of Crimea, only it's in the -- it's in the country of Moldova.

AMANPOUR: These are very big concerns that Strobe is raising here, Mr. Kozyrev. And even in that region, for instance, the president of Belarus has said they're very concerned about the annexation of Crimea.

The Swedish foreign minister told me that what President Putin has done is make Russia an unpredictable power.

How does President Putin proceed from here?

How does he get back to the negotiating table, if at all?

KOZYREV: Well, I think what is important, we can only guess what actually happens next. I mean, in practical terms I agree with Strobe.

But what is important for us at this moment, I think everybody, especially inside Russia, is to understand that Russia is at crossroads. It like reached the, you know, end of road and there is a signal that it's the choice. Now it's the choice either to Europe or back to the USSR.

AMANPOUR: Strobe Talbott, President Obama is in Europe and this Ukraine crisis is going to be taking up all their time.

How does President Obama reverse what's happened if possible or deter any further action?

TALBOTT: President Obama's challenge in Europe, which he's already begun to address, is to maximize the coherence, the solidarity, the unitedness of the transatlantic community and to the extent possible the international community so that there will not be a temptation or an ability for President Putin to play the allies off against one another.

So we need a united front.

AMANPOUR: President Putin clearly sees your era, the Yeltsin era, as one of weakness, of one of disorder, what do you have to say to that?

KOZYREV: I think that what they want is to bring, to draw actually as much as around them as possible against the European choice. We, in my time, in my administration, we thought that Ukraine and actually Baltic states and whoever around us, especially to the west, I mean, to the west of Russia, they should be like a bridge, like a gate for us to join Europe, because we wanted to be in Europe. And we wanted them to be in Europe if only for geographical factors.

And now it seems to be the opposite. But I do believe that if Europe stands united with the United States now and makes it very clear to Russian oligarchs and their proxies and the -- all those wealthy Russians who take the cash from oil sales and believe the oil explorers, so to say, with the Soviet Union, make clear to them that this is the choice.

AMANPOUR: There is a sort of a strain of thought that goes that the West humiliated Russia, that the West treated Russia as a loser and that Russia, especially President Putin, is seething because of that.

How do you answer that?

TALBOTT: Totally false. Never did any of us in U.S., the U.S. government at the time -- and I'm talking not just about the Clinton administration, but the George H.W. Bush administration before us, we did not regard the peoples of the former Soviet Union and in particular the reformist leaders of Russia including, of course, our guest, Andrei Kozyrev, as losers. Quite the opposite. We saw them as having seen a way that would actually protect their people from ending up, as it were, on the dustbin of history because the Soviet system had failed in so many ways, notably in taking care of its own people. And they made a choice to take down that system, to adopt a policy of partnership with the outside world and to develop a modern economy that could be integrated with the rest of the world.

He wants to take the Russian Federation back to a system that is already proved a failure.

AMANPOUR: Mr. Kozyrev, did you feel like you were being treated as losers, as on the wrong side of history by the West?

KOZYREV: Definitely I thought after the fall of the Soviet Union that we have to choose democracy and a market economy. But competitive democracy and competitive economy. But unfortunately, the Russian elite -- and I have to admit, that our government failed to deliver all that. We delivered partly. And after that the Russian elite facing the difficulties of transformation, facing the challenge of the reforms, chose the third way, the way around it, that is, take the cash and go to London or New York and leave the rest of it back home under the custody of the former security apparatus.

And unfortunately, that happened in the second part of the Yeltsin administration. And also unfortunately, probably we were not able to explain it in this clear-cut words at that time, that was our fault. But frankly speaking, the West was rather complacent with this choice. And it's time now to wake up for all of us in Russia and for the West. And the sooner the better, because time is ticking.

AMANPOUR: Did you feel as a Russian that you were made to feel like a loser, that you were being humiliated by the West?

KOZYREV: Yes, we lost to the hardliners. I admitted that when I was retiring in 1995, at the end of 1995, but we are on the right side of history. We were on the right side of history and it's in the best interest of Russian people. It's in the best interest as Strobe said of Russian modernization, of Russian economy. It's in the best interest to stop now and to come back to European or pro-Western choice. AMANPOUR: And lastly, Mr. Kozyrev, do you believe that the West is prepared to take the pain of sending that message loud and clear to President Putin?

KOZYREV: I am not much of a believer, especially in politics. But I do hope that the West, especially Western Europe, recognizes its own national interests. And these interests are very much at stake. The stake is still very, very high. Let me just remind whoever concerned that Russia is still nuclear superpower. So the stake, it might be life and death. And maybe sooner than somebody is thinking. That's what I want actually to communicate, that it's 11th hour for Russians and for anybody else to reconsider.

AMANPOUR: Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott and former Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev, thank you very much for joining me.


AMANPOUR: Sobering indeed.

And now when it comes to presidential optics, it's hard to beat this backdrop for today's press conference between President Obama and the Dutch prime minister, Mark Rutte. They're standing before Rembrandt's masterwork, "The Night Watch," which is on permanent display in Amsterdam's Rijksmuseum. It was painted in 1642. This giant canvas was commissioned by one of the many local militia that kept the peace in the towns and villages. But more than that, it is also a cautionary tale for would-be empire builders. Six years after "The Night Watch" was painted, citizen soldiers like these helped the Dutch Republic achieve independence from Imperial Spain and launched the Dutch Golden Age in commerce, diplomacy and art. Let's not forget that in a 1991 legitimate referendum, Crimea voted for independence from Russia and to be part of independent Ukraine.

And after a break, the mystery of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 and the 21st century Sherlock Holmes who may have solved it. We'll explain how when we come back.




AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program. It was news that the families have been dreading for 16 days, the Malaysian prime minister, Najib Razak, today said they should, quote, "assume beyond a reasonable doubt that there were no survivors," and that Flight 370 had been lost.

He cited new satellite analysis done by the British firm, Inmarsat, which runs a global network of satellites.

Chris McLaughlin is a senior vice president at the company and I spoke to him at the company headquarters here in London a few moments ago.


AMANPOUR: Chris McLaughlin, thank you for joining me. Welcome to the program.


AMANPOUR: Dramatic announcement by the Malaysian prime minister, was the news that everybody was dreading, particularly the families.

Could you walk us through how your company, your devices, your technology picked up this definitive signal?

MCLAUGHLIN: Well, it's twofold. The initial thought was that the only data available on -- that sat in the plane was lost, was already reported on. Our engineers then looked at whether there had been any additional traffic on the network that we hadn't seen before.

That led us to discover the six or seven pings, which are just an hourly hello from the network between a live unit and the network, just like a mobile phone connects up with a mobile phone network.

So the issue was if it was live, if it was still going, the aircraft must have been powered. Then our engineers looked at whether or not the amount of time taken for the signals to go from the satellite to the aircraft was increasing. And we found that it was. That meant that, therefore, the aircraft was moving away from the fixed point, which was the satellite.

Over the last 6-7 days, we've been looking more carefully at that and modeling it against known Malaysian 777 flights and modeling it against the likely north-south path. We came to a conclusion yesterday after peer reviewing it with other U.K. space companies and working with Boeing that we could rule out the northern path and we could only suggest that the southern path had been the one taken by the aircraft as it most comfortably matched the model for the south.

AMANPOUR: So what was the precise time of the last known ping or communication?

And in what location?

MCLAUGHLIN: The pings run approximately an hour's time after each other. So I think the Malaysians had said the last known call was at about, oh, 1:12 UTC. That meant that therefore every hour afterwards, the Inmarsat network was looking to see if service was required. And on the basis that service was required, it kept linked. So you just add seven hours in total to the flight, which coincides with the fuel that I understand the plane would have carried, and you begin to get the range and the number of hours of the signals.

AMANPOUR: And so you have deduced, therefore, that it has come down near or in some distance away from Perth, Australia, in the south Indian Ocean?

MCLAUGHLIN: The deduction is that it is to the west of Perth in the southern Indian Ocean, not the most hospitable of places.

AMANPOUR: What is the new technology and the new system of analysis that the prime minister said you -- was used for the first time?

MCLAUGHLIN: OK, it's a technique for the first time, but the technology is ancient. It's actually embarrassingly old math. It's a method of trigonometry. It's a way in which our scientists looked at the single source of data coming off of a 1990s Lockheed Martin satellite over the Indian Ocean and said, what more can we do with this? Normally you'd have to have two or three pings or a triangulation to actually work out where it is. We just simply could go for a direction of travel and then after that a process of elimination was needed, which led us down into the southern ocean position. It's not a new technology; it's an old technology. It's called science.

AMANPOUR: Well, then, why wasn't it used earlier? And why did it take this long to figure it out?

MCLAUGHLIN: It's a very fair question. We reported on Tuesday the 11th our suggestion of the north-south route. That went into the investigation and was looked at along with massive other amounts of data. It is an immensely complicated thing to have to go into the network and look at other flights and build a picture. And that has taken the last six or seven days, which our engineers have been working very hard on to create a model. It hasn't been done before. And then once we'd done it, we then needed to know that we weren't completely wrong. And so we then shared it with others in the satellite industry in a peer review to say are we right, have we got it right? It came back yesterday with, yes, we agree with you. And then we immediately shared it.

AMANPOUR: Is there any chance, despite what you've just said, that you could be wrong?

MCLAUGHLIN: Well, for the families that are involved and the heartbreak that obviously is being experienced at the moment, I would love to hope that we're wrong. But the fit with the southern ocean model and with the southern ocean pings indications the southern ocean.

AMANPOUR: And so what conclusions do you draw, that it ran out of gas? That it plunged to the bottom of the ocean? That what? And will you be able to find debris using this same system?

MCLAUGHLIN: Well, Inmarsat is a voice and data system. It's used CNN for news gathering all over the globe. But we are not an Earth observation satellite. So we can't contribute to looking at the Earth and looking at what's below the sea. We don't have that kind of satellite radar on board.

All I can say is that had all the world's aircraft been mandated to give their location information as the world's ships are through long-range identification and tracking, then we would have known within minutes where an aircraft was. It seems inconceivable that commercial aircraft are still not required and mandated to report on their position. It could be done tomorrow; the equipment's already on over 10,000 wide-bodied jets. With the existing Malaysia Airlines equipment and it's on another 5,000 jets with our swift broadband products. So it could be done tomorrow.

AMANPOUR: Why isn't it?

MCLAUGHLIN: Well, I can only state that these things slowly. It's five years since the Air France jet was lost. The last information that came off of Air France came through Inmarsat system. In that case, they found the aircraft within a few days, but it took them two years and upwards of $50 million to actually recover the flight data recorder.

Now the industry is debating whether that information should now be streamed off of aircraft or not. That's obviously going to take more data and it's going to take additional small costs. But the industry has not and the regulators have not yet caught up with what the technology can do. The reality is that Inmarsat could get the basic location data off the plane for approximately $1 an hour.

AMANPOUR: Wow. When you put it like this, it really is incredible that this wasn't done earlier and that everyone is not mandated to do it.

Mr. McLaughlin, thank you very much indeed for joining me.

MCLAUGHLIN: Thank you for the invitation.


AMANPOUR: This tragic tale has captured the world's attention for weeks, that and the crisis in Crimea. But imagine when reporting on a story becomes the story. In Egypt, Russia and beyond, the risks of free speech, when we come back.




AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, with so many compelling stories vying for our attention and our sympathy, imagine a world where journalism itself has seized the headlines. In Egypt, three of our colleagues from Al Jazeera were back in a Cairo courtroom today, Peter Greste, Mohammed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed were kept in virtual cages after already spending 86 days in prison, charged with spreading false information and aiding a terrorist group. They, of course, deny the charges and say they've been trumped up by Egypt's authoritarian military regime because of their independent reporting on the situation there.

Their endless captivity has been prolonged again as the trial was adjourned until the end of the month. Despite a pledge by Egypt's interim president, Adly Mansour, to actually help expedite matters.

Meanwhile in Russia, on state television, a Kremlin favorite has been trumpeting his government annexing Crimea. Known for some of the most strident Kremlin propaganda, Dmitry Kiselyov's latest broadside that weaves pro-Putin rhetoric with anti-Western diatribes, took a really chilling turn.


DMITRY KISELYOV, RUSSIAN TV JOURNALIST (through translator): Russia is the only country in the world that is really able to turn the USA into radioactive ashes.


AMANPOUR: And the mushroom cloud in the background was a nice touch, I suppose. The E.U. has also slapped him with sanctions and some in Russia who opposed that outburst called for the courts there to investigate his, quote, "extremism." Another case of truth falling victim to state propaganda and censorship, in Pakistan this headline itself has gone missing. In the weekend edition of "International New York Times," there was a huge void on the front page after censors removed an article about Pakistan's relationship to Al Qaeda and its knowledge of Osama bin Laden's secret sanctuary inside its borders.

And that is it for our program tonight. Remember you can always contact us at our website,, and follow me on Twitter and Facebook. Thanks for watching and goodbye from London.