tv Charlie Rose PBS September 30, 2015 12:00pm-1:01pm PDT
>> rose: welcome to the program. tonight, part two of my conversation with vladimir putin. >> you know, as i said, sanctions are illegal actions which violate the principles of the world economy, the principles to have the w.p.o., the united nations. because sanctions can be introduced only by the decision of the u.n. security council because, unilaterally, that is a violation of international law. >> rose: and an analysis of the russian president's visit to the united nations with steven lee myers, margaret brennan, carol lee and niall ferguson. >> rose: what you're seeing is what russia force force -- whate united nations forced them to do is put it under an umbrella and come up with a strategy. >> rose: a conversation with vladimir putin and an analysis of his visit to the u.n.g.a.
when we continue. >> rose: funding for "charlie rose" has been provided by: american express. >> rose: additional funding provided by: >> and by bloomberg, a provider of multimedia news and information services worldwide. captioning sponsored by rose communications from our studios in new york city, this is charlie rose. >> rose: tonight, part two of our conversation with president vladimir putin of russia. it took place on september 20th in moscow. we talked of many things. he gave us an opportunity to have an engaging conversation about him and how he sees russia and russia's role in the world. he also gave us an opportunity to have a further conversation
after the interview when he invited us in for appetizers which turned into dinner, and there was a further consideration of all the topics we've been talking about. but now the conversation followed by an analysis of his visit to the united states. are people in russia fearful of you? >> i think not. i perceive from the facts that most people trust me if they vote for me at the election, and this is the most important thing. it places enormous responsibility on me, colossal, and i'm grateful to people for this trust, but, at the same time, i feel this huge burden of responsibility for doing what i do and for the results of my work. >> rose: well, as you know, in america, you're much talked about in america. there is much conversation, more
so than any -- >> maybe they have nothing else to do in america but to talk about. >> rose: no, no. or maybe they're curious people. or maybe you're an interesting character, maybe that's what it is, but they see, first of all, a strong leader who presents himself in a strong way, they know of a former k.g.b. agent who came back, got into politics in st. petersburg, became deputy mayor and came to moscow, and the interesting thing is they see these images of you bare-chested on a horse, and they say, there is a man who carefully cult violates his image of strength. i'm asking -- >> you know, i'm convinced that a person who occupies my post must provide a positive example to people, and those areas where he can do this, he's obligated to do this.
in our country in the 1990s and early 20000s, we had a very severe situation with the social security system was destroyed, a lot of problems emerged that we still to this day still cannot effectively resolve. in the sphere of healthcare, in the development of sports. i think a healthy lifestyle is extremely important. and it's the foundation of the resolution of many crucial problems including the health of the nation. it's impossible to solve the healthcare problems of millions of people only by using pills. people need to have the habits or passion or there even has to be a fashion of healthy
lifestyle, of sport. so i believe that this is the right thing when, not only i but other colleagues like heads of government, ministries and legislators of the state when, today, for example, they participate in the two distance marathon races, when they participate in sports competitions themselves. so this is, well, including from -- this is where the love of millions of people of sports comes from. i think it's extremely important. >> rose: may i suggest -- i hear you and that is important, but may i suggest, also, you do like the image that you present, bare-chested on horseback as a strong leader. that's who you want to be seen as, for your people and for the world.
>> i want everybody to know that russia as a whole and the leadership of russia in particular are something effective and properly functioning. that, altogether, russia, both the country itself and these institutions, these leaders are healthy people, competent people who are ready to cooperate with our arpter -- our partners wherr they are, whether in the field, sports, wherever in the fight of these threats. i think that there is only positive in this. >> rose: well, it's appropriate to believe that you would believe in a strong leader because you believe in a strong central government and you suggested what happens when you don't have that. are you curious about america?
more than simply another nation that you have to deal with? because they're curious about you, as i suggested. are you curious? are you watching the republican political debates? >> well, i wouldn't say i watch them daily, no, but, of course, we're curious about what's going on in the u.s. it's a major world power, an economic and military leader, so, of course, america exerts great influence on the situation in the world in general and, of course, we're interested in what's going on. and we keep a close watch. but i don't watch the internal political saga on an everyday basis. i would say, more likely, no. >> rose: because if you watch that, donald trump says -- you know who he is -- he said he would like to meet you because he thinks the two of you would get along. donald trump.
>> yeah, i heard that. i heard that. well, we'll be glad to have any contact with the next president of the united states, any person who gains the trust of the american people can count on the fact that we will work with them. >> rose: marco rubio is running for the republican nomination and he said some terrible things about you. this is political debate and in a political campaign, i understand. he said that you were like a gangster. he was attacking you because he wanted to have -- and attacking russia. >> how can i be a gangster if i work for the kgb? that simply has no basis in reality. >> rose: what do you admire
most about america? >> i like the creativity. >> rose: creativity. creativity when it comes to your tackling problems. their openness because it allows them to unleash the inner potential of their people and, thanks to that, america has obtained such great results in developing their country. >> rose: russia had sputnik. you were there before the united states. russia has extraordinary astrophysicists. russia has extraordinary leaders in medicine and in science and in physics. i mean, do you hope that what you can do is restore that leadership and create the same kind of innovation that you just admired america for? and how will you do that?
>> we shouldn't lose what was created in the previous decade, and we should create the very conditions for showing the potential of our people because we're a very talented people. we have a very good basis, which you mentioned. you said thatñr you love russian culture. i think that's a great basis for internal development. you've just mentioned our achievements in science and many other areas. we must support that. we must create conditions for people to develop freely, for them to feel confident that they're able to realize their potential. and i'm confident that we will have an effect on the consistent development of science, of
high-tech technologies and the economy and country overall. >> rose: in america, the supreme court -- as you know, there's been some controversy here about gay rights -- in america the supreme court declared it a constitutional right for same-sex marriage. do you applaud america i in the supreme court for doing that? do you think it's a good idea to make it a constitutional right for same-sex marriage? >> well, you know, i think that's not a homogeneous group of people. some representatives of the non-traditional sexual orientation, for example, speak out against the adoption of children by such couples. they themselves are against it. so do you think these people are less democratic than other representatives of this community, this gay community who support child adoption by gay couples?
most likely not. it's their take on the issue. the problem of sexual minorities in russia has been deliberately exaggerated from the outside for political reasons. i believe without any good reason. we don't have any such problem. >> rose: okay. help us understand. >> well, i'll explain it for you. it's well known that, in four states in america, homosexual orientation is a crime. whether that's good or bad isn't the issue. we know there is a ruling of the supreme court, but this problem did not disappear. it's not completely removed from american legislation. but we don't have that. >> rose: so you would condemn that? >> yeah, i condemn that. i believe that there should not be any criminal prosecution or any other prosecution or infringement of people's rights
on the basis of their race, ethnicity or religion or sexual orientation. that should be excluded in the modern world. we don't have that. if my memory doesn't fail me, we had article 120 of the criminal code of the rsfsr which had prosecutions on the basis of homosexuality. we've abolished all of that. we have no persecution at all. people of non-traditional sexual orientation live in peace. they work, they get promoted and get state awards for achievements in the science and arts and other areas, they receive medals. i personally have awarded them medals. but this is what the question was, a band on propaganda of homosexuality among minors. i don't see anything undemocratic in this legal act. i only think we should live
children in peace. we should give them a chance to grow, realize who they are and decide for themselves, who is this person, what does he consider himself to be, a man or woman? do they want to live in a normal, natural marriage or a non-traditional one, that's all. we simply don't observe here any infringement of the rights of people of non-traditional sexual orientation. i believe this has been a deliberate exaggeration with the purpose of making a group of people with russia for the purpose of making an enemy of russia, for political consideration. i believe this is one of the lines of attack against russia. >> rose: from where? from the side of those who do that. look and see who does this. >> rose: you're saying, as far as you're concerned, there is as much a recognition for gay rights and gay marriage as there is in the united states? that's your position?
>> we do not only recognize but we ensure their rights. in russia, equal rights are guaranteed for everyone, including for people of non-traditional sexual orientation. >> rose: ukraine. you and i have talked about ukraine before. many believe that, as a result of what happened in ukraine and crimea, the united states and the west imposed sanctions, and those sanctions have hurt russia, and that you believe, by reemerging and trying to be a positive force around the world and in syria, that it might somehow lessen the focus on ukraine. >> so do you mean that will help somehow distract attention from the ukrainian crisis? >> rose: yes.
our actions in syria are aimed at distracting? is that what you mean? no. ukraine is a separate and major issue for us. syria is a different issue, and i told you why. we don't want the disintegration of syria. we don't want the return of terrorists and of those who engage in warfare coming back to russia. so there is a whole complexity of problems. when it comes to ukraine, that's a separate issue. it's our closest neighbor. we've always said it's our brother country. it's -- our languages are similar. we have common history, common culture, common religion and many things in common. what i believe is absolutely inadmissible is the resolution of internal political issues in the former u.s.s.r. republic
through color revolutions, through unconstitutional removal of power. that is totally unacceptable. our partners in the united states supported those who ousted yanukovych. >> rose: you believe that the united states had something to do with the ousting of yanukovich and he had to flee to russia? >> i know that for sure. i know those people who live in ukraine. we have thousands of contacts with them. we know where and when and who met with someone and who worked with those who ousteddian nayedd
yanukovych, how much they were paid and trained and who the instructors were. we know everything, and our american partners don't try to conceal that, anyway. they said, yes, well, we did, we did train them, and we spent that much money, and now it amounts to $5 billion. so -- >> rose: yeah, but you're suggesting that -- >> nobody's even arguing against that. >> rose: you respect the sovereignty of ukraine? >> sure, but we want other countries to respect the sovereignty of other countries and ukraine in particular. respect for sovereignty means to not allow unconstitutional action and coup d' etat, the
removal of rejet mat power. >> rose: how will the removal of legitimate power come in your judgment? how will that come about and what role will russia play? >> russia has not taken part and is not going to take part in any action aimed at removing the legitimate government. what i'm saying is, if somebody does that, the result is very difficult to deal with. in libya, we see the disintegration of the state. in iraq we see the territory has been filled with terrorists. in syria the situation is unfolding the same way. in afghanistan, you very well know what the situation looked like. what happened in ukraine?
the coup d' etat led to civil war. many citizens of ukraine did not have trust in yanukovych, but they should have elected a new leader not committed to removal of power. but after the coup d o'etat some liked it and some did not and those who did not were treated with force. >> rose: i repeat, what are you prepared to do? >> i believe russia and other actors, the so-called normandy 4 with the action of the united states, and in that direction we have intensified our dialogue,
we should strive for full implementation of the minsk agreement. the minsk agreement must be fulfilled. >> rose: but that's exactly what john kerry said yesterday coming out of a meeting with the british foreign minister. he mentioned, after syria ukraine, and he said, we have to have a full implementation of the minsk agreement. so you and john kerry are just like this? you agree! implement the minsk agreement. >> in full. in full. could you please have enough patience and not interrupt me for two minutes? can i ask you to please present this? can you do this? do you have enough power to do this, to present this without
cuts? >> rose: yes. the implementation of the minsk agreements means there are several articles, but i'll speak about the main point so that the situation in ukraine changes fundamentally. there should be political reform. that's first. there should be constitutional changes. that's what's set forth in the minsk agreement. then, most important, the the minsk agreement states this should be done in coordination with d penst and. no one intends to coordinate
anything. that's point one. point two, it stated in the minsk agreement there should be the implementation of the law. the law was already passed in ukraine of the special self-governing status of those territories. they've adopted this law if implementation has been postponed and that means the minsk agreements are not fulfilled on this point. third, there should have been the amnesty law. how can one engage in a dialogue if they're all being prosecuted or brought legal charges against them? hats why the minsk agreement say a law on amnesty must be adopted, but it's not been
adopted. and there are other points as well. for example, conducting local elections. it's been written in the minsk agreement to adopt a law on local elections upon coordination with donetsk and lou hans. thhans. their representatives have proposals on this law three times but no one will talk to them. the minsk agreements say, with coordination with donetsk and lo hans. that's why i love mr. kerry. he is an extremely experienced diplomat. he said he was against "star wars" in the past and it was the right thing to do because maybe
if he was the one who adopted decisions on abm he probably wouldn't have conflicts on abm now. but if one side says we've done this, that and that and complied with the minsk agreement, it's not true because all these points must be implemented in coordination with donetsk and luhans. there has been no coordination so far. as for the adoption of the law on the governance of the territories, the minsk agreement says within 30 days nothing has been done, postponed. the entering into the force of this law has been postponed. that's why we advocate full implementation of the minsk agreements by both sides, not as interpreted by one intied as written down in the minsk agreement. >> rose: you really believe that? >> there is nothing to believe, actually. it's written on paper. i just need to read it. it's written in coordination
with donetsk and lo hansic. there is been no coordination at all. it was written to adopt the law on special status within 30 days but the law has not been enforced so who's not implementing the minsk agreement. >> rose: you mentioned the secretary of state, he said it's important not only to implement the minsk agreement but also for separatists to give up the idea of independent elections. john kerry said that yesterday. >> well, yes, i know the position of our u.s. friends and here's what i want to say in this regard. i just mentioned and i'm forced to repeat it. the minsk agreement say the law on local elections must be passed in coordination with do netsic and luhansk. so what happens in reality? the authorities did adopt the
law on their own without any coordination or negotiations with ddonetsk and luhans despite fact they submitted their draft three times. they adopted this on their own without any consultation. moreover, the law adopted by kiev says in these territories there will not be elections at all. how are we to understand this? they themselves have provoked the representative of d do donec and luhans. we need to prod both sides to implement where they put their signatures to rather than to pass off as something good what they've done on their own initiative. >> rose: i hear you but i wanted to repeat it because secretary kerry emphasized separatists elections. i did hear you.
>> he's being cunning. as secretary of state and diplomat he's being cunning. it's quite normal for his profession and work. all diplomats are quite cunning. so is he. >> rose: you would never do that, would you? >> no, i would never do that. i'm not a diplomat. >> rose: what are you? how do you see yourself? >> i'm a human being. i'm a citizen of the russian federation. i'm a russian. >> rose: you also have said that the worst thing that happened last century was the collapse of the soviet empire. there are those who look at ukraine, especially ukraine and georgia, and they believe that you do not want to re-create the soviet empire, but you do want to re-create a sphere of influence which you think russia deserves because of the
relationship that has existed. why are you smiling? >> why? you're making me happy because we're always suspected of some ambition, and they always try to distort something or hint at something. i indeed said that i believe the collapse to have the u.s.s.r. was a huge tragedy of the 20t 20th century. you know why? >> rose: why? because, first of all, in a single instant, 25 million russian people found themselves beyond the borders of the russian federation. here, they have been living within the borders of a unified state and always, traditionally, the soviet union had been called russia, soviet russia. well, this was greater russia. then all of a sudden the u.s.s.r. collapsed, overnight, in fact, right? and it's turned out that, in
former soviet republics, there were people, russian people numbering 25 million. they had been living in a single country and, all of a sudden, we turned out to be abroad. you can imagine how many problems arose. first of all, there were everyday problems, economic problems, social problems, the separation of families. you can't list them all. do you think it's normal that 25 million people, russian people wound up abroad all of a sudden? russia turned out to be the largest divided nation in the world today. is that not a problem? well, not for you, but it's a problem for me. >> rose: and what do you intend to do about it? >> what we want to do is use modern civilized processes to preserve at least, at a minimum, the common humanitarian space to make it so that these state
borders do not get in the way so that people can communicate freely among themselves so that we can develop our economies jointly. we want to take advantage of those benefits of the former u.s.s.r. that we've inherited. what are these benefits? joint infrastructure, a yiewn fade rail system, a unified highway system, a unified energy system and, finally, if i dare say it, the great russian language which unites all former parts of the soaves union and gives us advantage when promoting projects in the territory of the post-soviet space. you've probably heard that we first established the customs union and then we transformed it into the eurasian economic union so, when people can communicate freely and move freely, when workforces, goods, services and
capital move freely, there are no state lines when we have our common rules and legal regulation in the social sphere, for example. then this is quite enough. people must feel free. >> rose: but do you have to use and show military force to accomplish that objective? >> no, of course not. >> rose: you have a military presence on the border of ukraine and some even argue that there have been russian troops in ukraine. >> well, you have a military presence in europe. >> rose: yes. the tactical nuclear weapons of the united states are in europe. let's not forget that. what does that mean? does it mean you've occupied germany or that you've renounced the occupation of germany after world war ii and then you have only transformed the occupation forces into n.a.t.o. forms?
one could put it that way, but we're not putting it that way. and if we have our military forces on our border, on our territory, on the border with some state, you believe this is a crime? >> rose: i didn't say a crime. well, in order to run these activities i've told you about, the economic, humanitarian and social integration, military force would not be needed at all. we've built our customs union, th,eurasian union not with force but compromise. this is a difficult, long-standing process through negotiations and through search for a compromise on mutually beneficial and acceptable conditions, with the exception that we would create for our people and for our economies more effective advantages in world markets and in the international arena in general.
>> rose: so why are we talking about -- so while we're talking about this, tell me about the baltic states and your intentions towards the baltic states. >> well, we would like to build friendly relations with them. there are a lot of russian people living there who remained after the soviet union. they're violated there. their rights have been violated. you know that in many baltic states, they have invented some new thing, an international law. this has been the case up until now regarding citizenship. a syd zen, foreigner, person without citizenship and duel national, that is people with dual citizenship. the battlings states have
invented something totally new. do you know what they call them? they call them non-citizens. they call people living for decades in the territory of the battlings states and deprived of a whole number of political rights -- the they cannot take t in elections and political and social rights are restricted, and everyone keeps silent about this as if this is the way this is supposed to be. this cannot help but provoke an appropriate response. but i perceive from the fact that our colleagues both in the u.s. and the european union will base on today's principles of humanitarian law and proceed for modern principles of humanitarian law and will ensure the political liberties and rights for all people, including for those people living in the
territory of baltic states after the collapse of the u.s.s.r. but when it comes to economic ties, we have stable, very developed contrasts with these countries. but there are some things -- how can i put this more delicately -- which bother me and make me sad. we're all talking about the needs to bring our positions closer, about the need toibt grate economically, politically. so as for the baltic states, we had a single energy source. the waltic states were naturally part of the common power system of the soviet union. now what are they doing? everyone's talking about russia and the european union.
what actually happens in practice now is that they plan to remove the baltic states from this unified energy system of the former soviet union and hook them up to the european system. so what does that mean for us in practice? it means among some of our regions in the russian federation, there will be some zones where there will be no electric power line. because, before, it went through the baltic countries and, so, it means that, once again, spending billions of u.s. dollars, this system must be built from scrarchtion just as our european partners will have to spend billions of dollars to hook up the baltic states to their energy grid. why? why when we're striving for some sort of work and integration not in words but practice, why do this? and this is what's happening along many lines.
they say one thing, but they do something quite different. i think that this all comes from growing pains, and i believe that common sense will finally prevail, if not here, on other issues. we're all interested in developing openly without any prejudice the baltic states above all and, for them, this is more important for them than russia itself. take one of the countries, lithuania, for instance, in the soviet era. do you know what the population was? 3.4 million people and, now, i check the latest references. 1.4 million. where did the people go? in that country, yes, over half the citizens left the country. can you imagine what would happen if half the american population left the u.s.? it would be a disaster. what does that tell us? that tells us that the links that were lost above all in the
economy have a negative impact on them and russia as well. that's why i'm deeply convinced that we should abandon the phobias of the past, we should look ahead and act based on the international law to build good, neighborly relations on an equal footing. >> reporter: and eliminate sanctions? >> well, if someone likes to work so much through using sanctions, g.e.d., yo, go aheado that but it's harmful. it goes against international law, first of all. secondly, tell me where the policy of imposing sanctions has been effective, nowhere, especially with regard to a country like russia. >> rose: even your friends worry about the russian economy because of sanctions first but also declining oil prices. you know, is that a huge challenge for you? is that a troubling, global economic reality?
>> you know, as i said, sanctions are illegal actions which violate the principles of the world economy, the principles of the w.p.o., the united nations, because sanctions can be introduced only by the decision of the u.n. security council because, unilaterally, that is a violation of international law. well, let's leave it aside. of course, sanctionings are harmful. but they're not the main reason for the slump in the growth of the russian economy or other problems related to inflation. the main reason for us, really, is the drop in prices on the world market for our traditional export commodities, such as oil, gas and other goods. when it comes to sanctions, they add to the negative side. they do have an influence one way or another. although they don't have a
capital fundamental importance for our economy. >> rose: you can survive sanctions? >> well, that goes without saying. no doubt. it's beyond discussion. there is even a certain positive side to it. do you know what the advantage is? it's many things, especially when it comes to high-techologies. we used to prefer to buy them, to use our petro dollars. but now, since these sanctions are imposed, we either can't buy these technologies or we fear that something may be closed off to us and now we're forced to introduce entire programs for developing our own high-tech economy in industry, manufacturing and science. and that's something we would have to do, anyway, but it was
difficult for us before because our own domestic markets were flooded with foreign goods. so in the wpo, it was difficult to support our local manufacturers. but now that the sanctions have been imposed, our partners have voluntarily left our market. now we have a chance for developments. >> rose: two more questions. of course, you have the floor. >> rose: you have been president, prime minister, president. how long do you want to serve and what do you want to be your legacy? one question. >> well, how long? that depends on two things. first of all, unquestionably, there are regulations provided for by the constitution, and they will never be violated by me for certain.
but i'm not sure i should fully exercise all these constitutional rights. at the will depend on the specific situation in the country and the world. well, on my own sentiments about it. >> rose: and what do you want your legacy to be? >> that russia should be effective, competitive, should have a sustainable economy with a developed social and political system that is flexible both in regard to changes within and around the country. >> rose: and should play a major role in the world that it lives? >> it should be competitive, as i said. and should be in a position to defend its own interests and to influence those processes which are significant to it. >> rose: many say you're all-powerful here in russia. many say you're all-powerful.
they believe that you can have anything you want, anything. what do you want? tell america, tell the world what vladimir putin wants. >> i want for russia to be as i just described it. that's really my main desire. i want people to be happy and that our partners all over the world would want to and strive to develop relations with russia. >> rose: thank you. >> rose: that was part two of our conversation with president putin. we now talk about what happened at the united nations general assembly. president obama and president president putin spoke together. president putin called it surprisingly very frank.
joining us steven lee myers of the "new york times," spent 7 years as moscow correspondent. he's author of a new book, the new czar, rise and reign of president putin. control control, of the "wall street journal." niall ferguson, professor of history at harvard university. niall ferguson's biography of henry kissinger has been published. carol, you have been following the story. exactly what happened? >> they saw each other at a lunch, putin made a grand entrance in the middle of ban ki-moon's speech and sat at the table where president was and they clinked champagne glasses at the end of the secretary general's speech, went into a private meeting that lasted 90
minutes. i've covered this president for six years and other meetings he had with vladimir putin and this was the first time that the u.s. officials came out of that meeting and felt they weren't arguing about the terms of what the problem is, you know, and that also happened with ukraine in particular. they were more arguing about how to approach the problem. >> rose: margaret, what can you had to what we may know from the american side of this meeting between the two leaders? >> well, you know, poonlt himself was only in the country for about seven hours. it was very much i'm here, i'm making a statement and i'm leaving. it's interesting, when you ask u.s. officials, they don't want to answer a question in russia, their favorite talking point is it's hard to get inside putin's head. i think that sums up what this meeting was about. this meeting with the president and vladimir putin went on far longer than many expected and it really has stoole stalls u.s. pn
many ways because people want to see what putin will put on the table. he didn't put much concrete on the table in terms of his vision for exactly what the to do in syria. he raised a concept but didn't give a proposal snowhow did you see the way putin played this? >> astonishingly well. here we find ourselves in a situation that russia is now apparently the broker of peace in syria. now, that's an extraordinary turn of events, and it's a sign of how clever putin is that he's able to do this from a position of extreme economic weakness, not only the sanctions but the oil price collapse have really hit the russian comip hard and now he's come to new york apparently the power broker. i find ate major achievement and a sad reflection on our president. >> rose: steven, what do you think his objectives are here?
>> a lot of people have looked at it as a game or brinkmanship that putin achieved a victory over obama. no question he put russia in the center of discussion. it's too soon to say he's achieved anything by that. if you look at syria now, they're very concerned about the fate of their biggest ally in the region, and they have been involved in syria from the beginning of this war, and the reason you're seeing the buildup in military involvement is a sign of not strength but fender weakness -- fear and weakness that the assad government is falling and the reaction is to build that up. >> rose: talking to people in the administration before i went to see putin about where they've stood that they have changed. margaret, help me understand where john kerry is on the question of assad because he's
had a lon long relationship with assad. >> he has. he's negotiated with bashar al-assad directly and, arguably, he's the one who has this assignment of trying to figure out what to do put on his desk and has pushed hard to get more done. a lot of what's done in new york is what you might call small ball in terms of pushing the russians, sergey lavrov, to agree with cease fires, limiting some instruments of death that assad uses, specifically the barrel bombs he's dropping on civilians. this is the level of request they're actually negotiating over now. they're not at a place of talking assad out of power. in fact, the united states has been sitting down with the saudi foreign minister and the russian foreign minister to talk about who might be in that next transition government, but when they say transition, they're not talking about assad exiting on day one. in fact, you've heard some say assad wouldn't exit until i.s.i.s. is defeated and, as you know from u.s. officials and
military assessments, we are years off, possibly, from that happening. so there is negotiation of that time frame over when -- >> speak of vladimir putin, i once compared him to michael coreleone, so i'm no fan. but if this had been a debate contest putin would have won it hands down at the united nations general assembly. the president spent part of his speech criticizing iran and russia. he said we left a vacuum of power in libya by getting rid of gadhafi though didn't mention him by name then said we need to get rid of assad in syria. the holes in the argument is enormous. putin's position is simpler. we allow states to disintegrate in north africa and the middle east and this had desperate consequences and you can't argue with him about that. >> rose: from the standpoint
of whether there is working room for these two countries to find some place to attack i.s.i.s., and the other question that's on the table for me is halls the assad regime had any success in fighting i.s.i.s. and have they been focused on fighting i.s.i.s.? >> it's white house's hope in terms of whether they can reach some sort of agreement with russia on this is that vladimir putin is not wedded to assad the person but the regime, and -- >> rose: or the sovereign government. >> and the sense that they can negotiate an agreement where he sits down in several years, that's increasingly the way they're explaining it. >> rose: and everybody is prepared to accept that idea, that he can be in power as much as two or three years, as long as we're making progress by getting rid of i.s.i.s.? >> well, the hope is that they can spin it in a way or set it up or structure it in a way that
outlines a plan that sends a message that he is on the way out or effectively a lame duck. the interesting thing about all of this is that what russia's intervention has done is you've had this president deal with the islamic state and the civil war in syria, and the white house officials have always described that as parallel tracks. what you're seeing now is what russia's intervention is and moves in syria forced them to do is to bring this under one full umbrella and come up with a comprehensive tragedy which is what the president's critics have been calling for him to do for quite some time. >> rose: this comes at the same time the present administration is acknowledging huge failures. >> they've had huge failures in their approach to the islamic state and to handling the civil war and now he's looking for a way out. every president has a major crisis that hangs over them and this is barack obama and he only
has a year and change left and it's unclear whether he can really change the dynamics on the ground there in that short amount of time. >> rose: i want you to bring this back, steven lee myers. tell us who he is. >> even before the collapse to have the soviet union, there were suggestions he understood the stagnation of the system, the corruption of the system, but he wants very much to retore the greatness of the state, at least the russian state on the level he knew growing up as a young man, and that gives him this incredible devotion and loyalty to the state power. it's in his blood from his service i in the kgb, his understanding of what makes a country powerful and especially a country like russia is the central security of the state and the strength of the institutions of it. to him, that's much more important than values democracy
or freedom of speech and so forth. if you look at the experience russia went through after the collapse of the soviet union, he considers his greatest accomplishment is he restored the state, turned around the economy and began a transition to a new russia. when he sees what the united states has done, it's essentially in his mind having replaced the bipolar world of the cold war with a unilateral power, the one country, and he talked about that quite strike lig during his -- strikingly during his remarks in new york and i think he's trying to say that the world needs to go back to the order that recognizes thathegreat powers like russia d china and not the single superpower. so when he looks at iraq and
afghanistan and what's happening, he sees americans throwing their weight around the world and that's led to chaos because they've essentially not respected russia's importance in these discussions. >> rose: steven lee myers' book is called "the new czar, the rise and reign of vladimir putin." thank you very much. niall ferguson's new book, kissinger, the idealest. thank you, marlgt for taking time for us. >> thank you. this makes john kerry's job that much harder. the arab states are not happy about the u.s. getting any closer or coordinating in any way with russia. >> rose: and especially iran, too. >> exactly. >> rose: thank you, margaret. thank you. >> rose: carol, thank you. great to have you here. >> thank you. >> rose: thank you for joining us. see you next time. for more about this program and earlier episodes, visit us online at pbs.org and charlierose.com.