‘The Ingraham Angle’ on Russian troops heading towards Kyiv – Fox News

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This is a rush transcript of “The Ingraham Angle” on February 24, 2022. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS HOST: Welcome to THE INGRAHAM ANGLE. Tonight, Russia continues a relentless Military assault on Ukrainian Military and energy installations. More than 130 Ukrainian soldiers are dead tonight and over 300 wounded in just the first day of these attacks by air, land and sea.

Explosions are being heard throughout the capital city of Kyiv at this moment. And there are reports now that Russian troops are moving en masse into the city. Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky has ordered a full Military mobilization. All men ages 18 and 60 have been ordered to stay in the country and has promised to arm all of its citizens.

We have reporters on the ground in Ukraine and in Washington, along with Military experts to explain the national security and financial damage that this invasion will cause along with the needless human suffering we’re beginning to see already today.

We’re also going to speak in moments with a Ukrainian Member of Parliament, who says that even though he’s not a trained soldier, he’s ready to fight. But also, questions tonight loom regarding the effectiveness of Biden’s sanctions, and the reluctance of NATO to really squeeze Russia.

And what role is China playing behind the scenes? And what should we be doing right now to blunt Russia’s ability to affect our people and our energy supply? And finally, was Putin’s Military attack truly as inevitable as the administration would have us believe? We’ll answer all of that and more.

But first, we go live to Fox’s Trey Yingst who’s on the ground in Kyiv. Trey, what can you tell us as of this hour?

TREY YINGST, FOX NEWS FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT: Laura, good evening. Last hour there were two large explosions here in the capital of Kyiv. We’re getting some new information about what they might have been.

The Ukrainian interior ministry adviser Anton Gerashchenko shared a video and claims that Ukrainian Air Defense shot down a Russian aircraft. I want to make sure we’re very clear with the attribution here. This is coming from an advisor to the interior minister and is now being widely reported in local media.

This advisor to the minister who has in the past, during this escalation, discussed a lot of movements in terms of the Ukrainian Military, someone with knowledge of the situation, again, is claiming that Ukrainian Air Defense has shot down a Russian aircraft. We don’t know what kind of aircraft and we have not independently confirmed this report. But it would be a significant move here by the Ukrainians. And it would also highlight the fact that Ukraine still has air defense in play.

The Russians have talked about how they, in the initial hours of their invasion into Ukraine, took out all of the Ukrainian Air Defense. But the videos that are going around online indicate that this was indeed some sort of interception and we will get more information about what exactly was intercepted.

It comes as there have been a couple cruise or ballistic missiles fired at the Ukrainian capital tonight. We are still getting more information on those and the second largest city in Ukraine, Kharkiv, also taking a lot of fire tonight as reports indicate. Russian forces are trying to make more of an offensive towards the Ukrainian capital.

Again, the major concern is that this city could be choked off amid a larger push by the Russians in this larger blitz of the city. And if that does indeed happen, you will likely see a number of waves of attacks so that the Russian forces can work their way into the capital.

But make no mistake, there are not only Ukrainian forces, but also civilians who say they will stay here and they will fight even if this battle turns into more of an urban guerrilla warfare style of war. Laura.

INGRAHAM: We’ve been seeing really heart wrenching video today from the underground subways in Kyiv and other places. Other areas that civilians feel certainly more safe in. People taking, obviously, their children, some belongings, some food, sometimes their pets. And it’s difficult to watch.

But this is what war ends up looking like, especially in the early stages where civilians just try to find cover wherever they can. And a lot of the women that were interviewed basically said, we don’t know where to go. We’re going to the only place we know is safe.

And others are already fleeing across the border into Poland, where they’re being allowed to go tonight. So that’s what we’re seeing as far as the civilians on the ground in the vulnerable areas.

YINGST: It’s heartbreaking to see these images and scenes playing out in the Ukrainian capital. I think many people are having trouble wrapping their mind around what’s actually taking place. These are scenes you would expect to see out of a World War II documentary. People underground in the subway system trying to get away from air raids.

Over the past 24 hours in this city, a European capital air raid sirens blaring as people run for cover. And an air campaign against a European city is just something that is such a major escalation and something that really even those Ukrainians who believe something would happen, and there would be some level of invasion. No one envisioned that it would be like this. It was the worst case nightmare scenario.

And as we’ve seen, civilians really just doing anything they can to get out of the way, going underground if they can. And those who have the resources and ability, trying to make it to the Polish border. Laura.

INGRAHAM: Trey, very quickly. I’ve been through Kyiv and other parts of Ukraine fairly extensively and the historic landmarks, not that that’s the most important thing right now, but the historic churches that really speak to the heart of what Kyiv is. There was some talk on another network tonight that those could be targeted. Do you have any sense that that is actually the case tonight?

YINGST: We don’t have any information about churches or any sort of religious facilities in this city being targeted. One thing to keep in mind though is that, this has been really a source of strength for people having the churches here.

When we arrived in Kyiv a few weeks ago, we went into one of these beautiful churches, and spoke with an older woman who was praying. And she was praying for peace. And it was just a place for her to feel comfortable and hopeful.

And still even at this hour, we expect if there are troops ever coming into this city, and it is a very real possibility that the churches could be a place where people could feel safe and be away from the streets in any sort of Military operations that might take place.

INGRAHAM: Trey, thank you so much. And stay safe out there, please.

And for the latest on the Biden administration’s response, we turn to Fox’s Peter Doocy, who’s live at the White House. Peter, what has been the reaction thus far after President Biden’s appearance today at the press conference where you got a few really good questions in?

The response from some of your colleagues, I know you all talk, about the President’s inability to really give us answers about what China’s response has been to this. And even India’s response has been to Russia’s aggression.

PETER DOOCY, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, FOX NEWS: It’s interesting. The response once you – especially once you go back and figure out what people were asking to the president versus the press secretary is that a lot of folks did not get the answers they were looking for from the President, because they had to follow up with basically the same exact question to Jen Psaki, which is why isn’t the President doing more? Why isn’t he sanctioning Vladimir Putin directly?

And what was really remarkable about the President’s event earlier today, earlier this afternoon, is he basically said, we’re going to stick with the sanctions, even though we know that it’s not going to have Vladimir Putin throwing up his hands and saying, OK, well, I need to stop right now.

Fast forward a couple hours to tonight, we’ve been able to confirm that when Lloyd Austin went to Capitol Hill to brief senators about the Pentagon’s plans and the Biden orders to the Military chiefs. They are trying to figure out how to train Ukrainian forces to fight Russians remotely. And so–

INGRAHAM: What?

DOOCY: Yes. And so, they’re trying to figure out, and it would be. That’s a very 2022 thing to do it remotely. But it’s also in line with President Biden’s promise to figure out how to beat back the Russians without putting any U.S. troops in Ukraine to fight Russians. And so that is brand new.

But otherwise, the headline is just sanctions, sanctions, sanctions. And we have a short soundbite, where I asked the president basically if he is sure that that’s going to work.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I think that his ambitions are completely contrary to the place where the rest of the world has arrived.

DOOCY: And his ambitions, you’re confident that these devastating sanctions are going to be as devastating as Russian missiles and bullets and tanks?

BIDEN: Yes. Russian bullets, missiles and tanks in Ukraine. Yes, I am.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DOOCY: And he spoke – yes, and he spoke to us after he got off a big Zoom with the rest of the G7 leaders. And so that’s the plan.

INGRAHAM: Well, Peter, it looks like the conversation with the G7 began the conclusion that not all NATO countries were for removing Russia’s ability to move financially in the world. Clearly, Germany wasn’t in favor of really cutting Russia off. And China’s helping Russia. India is kind of being silent, which speaks volumes.

But he really couldn’t answer your question. I mean, the answer was really not an answer to say that – to say that what they’re doing was sanctions is the same as (ph) tanks, or air missile attacks in Ukraine. I mean, what?

DOOCY: And a lot of the coverage with this, it – because we have not done a ton on Ukraine over the last couple years, it requires you to look at a map. Whereas when you’re going – when you’re trying to figure out the Biden response to this, you just look at a calendar. He’s saying that it might take 30 days for some of these sanctions to really bite Putin.

But based on all of the coverage that our teams have been collecting on the ground, it’s not entirely clear that the people in Kyiv have 30 days to wait around for financial punishment to kick in.

INGRAHAM: Peter, it was unbelievable to watch today at the press conference (inaudible) and I’m so glad you were there. Thank you so much. Get some sleep. I hope.

Joining us now Senator Tom Cotton, who serves on the Senate Armed Services Committee and intelligence committee. Excuse me. Senator, you just heard Peter Doocy. This report that Lloyd Austin told senators during this briefing that the administration is now looking at ways to train Ukrainian forces remotely. I don’t need to make laugh at this. But what’s your reaction to that?

SEN. TOM COTTON (R-AR): Well, it’s just one more example of how the Biden administration is on the back foot and to see that the initiative to Vladimir Putin. Even more disappointing on what we heard in that phone call is that President Biden has ceded the veto pin to our European allies on the kind of sanctions we impose.

You mentioned kicking Russia out of international banking system known as Swift. Apparently, there’s some European nations like Germany that don’t want to do that, so we’re not going to kick them out of Swift.

Likewise, oil and gas are Russia’s two largest exports. Europe is in many cases beholden to Russian oil and gas. Moreover, Joe Biden’s reckless energy policies have already driven up the price of oil and gas over the last year. So even he and his administration is admitting, they didn’t want to impose oil and gas sanctions on Russia, because they’re afraid it’s going to add to the inflation they’ve already created.

Well, how about we impose those sanctions, but we lift all those restrictions on the production of American oil and gas. So we can start drilling on federal lands again and putting out new leases. So we can reopen the Keystone Pipeline, which would bring more oil into America everyday from Canada than we import every day from Russia. That’s what we should be doing.

INGRAHAM: Yes. Well, Senator Cotton, to your point on isn’t this the moment where you show some flexibility? Even if you’re a climate change fanatic. Show some flexibility and concern for your fellow Americans on this. But John Kerry, frankly, continues to embarrass himself in this country on the world stage with his comments today about what to do next.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN KERRY, U.S. SPECIAL PRESIDENTIAL ENVOY FOR CLIMATE: Massive emissions consequences to the war, but equally importantly you’re going to lose people’s focus. You’re going to lose certainly big country attention, because they will be diverted. And I think it could have a damaging impact.

So I hope President Putin will help us to stay on track with respect to what we need to do for the climate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

INGRAHAM: Now, Senator, what are the chances and on one to 10, 10 being the most likely, that Vladimir Putin is up tonight worrying about really meeting John Kerry’s climate goals? What – those are the chances.

COTTON: It’s a number of somewhere below zero – somewhere below zero, Laura. Those are the rantings of a deluded ideologue. Most Americans are not ideological about these matters. They’re clear eyed, they’re sober, and they understand that you should not disarm your own energy production when a brutal dictator uses energy as a weapon against our partners. And then invades an innocent nation and – creates some of those scenes that you played earlier of children screaming and families scrambling in the subway stations.

Most Americans understand, it’s basic common sense that we want to be able to protect our own inner supply. And hopefully, supply Europe the energy it needs to get off of Russian energy.

INGRAHAM: Well, I want to talk a little bit about the idea that I grew up understanding when I worked for President Reagan of peace through strength. A weakened America, Senator Cotton, what does that tell the rest of the world?

Our southern border is wide open. We don’t have the media coverage of that and all that carnage the results. Southern border – except on Fox. Southern border, our economy, inflation, high energy prices, and all the rest of the nonsense with the COVID mandates. I mean, what does that tell the rest of the world? And what did it tell Putin and Xi?

COTTON: Well, it’s told Vladimir Putin over the last six months that he can build up 200,000 troops on Ukraine’s border and invade. And if we don’t bring the hammer down on Vladimir Putin, if we don’t turn Russia into a pariah state, and isolate them diplomatically, and economically and financially, it’s going to tell Xi Jinping, he can probably do the same thing in Taiwan. After all, he’s on the other side of the world.

Taiwan doesn’t have the same kind of ties to Europe that Ukraine does. His economy is 10 times larger than Russia’s. It’s simply creating permission around the world for our adversaries to try to press our – against our interests, try to undercut our partners and our allies, and ultimately put our own safety and freedom and prosperity at risk.

INGRAHAM: Senator, good to see you tonight. Thank you so much.

And as you heard Senator Cotton mention in our last segment, a powerful economic weapon that Biden has yet to invoke is basically throwing Russia out of something called the Swift banking system. That is basically a telecom network and it kind of connects thousands and thousands of financial institutions around the world.

And so, if you cut Russia off from that, it would mean no more money from all their oil and gas exports. And that makes up about 40 percent of their budget. That’d be crippling for Russia. So surely one could make them think at least twice about pressing on in Ukraine if they didn’t have access to that. So why aren’t we doing this?

Here’s Biden’s excuse.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BIDEN: The sanctions we’ve imposed exceeds Swift. The sanctions we impose exceed anything that’s ever been done. The sanctions we imposed have generated two-thirds of the world joining us. They are profound sanctions.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

INGRAHAM: Oh, ok. But what’s really going on is Biden’s bowing to the wishes of Berlin and Brussels.

Now, for starters, Europe holds most of the $30 billion in foreign capital parked now in Russia. So they need the Swift system in order to easily access their money, their investments. Otherwise, they could lose it all.

Plus, Europe still plans on buying energy from Russia. By the way, using Ukrainian pipelines, no less. So no wonder, Germany’s Chancellor is adamantly opposed to removing Russia’s ability to access the Swift banking system.

But my question is, why are we ceding our authority to Germany? They’ve sold out their economies to Russia and China. They don’t devote the amount of money they should be under our – their NATO agreement to their Military. And now we’re seeing the cost of all this.

Remember, when people were getting on Trump for asking NATO nations to step up and do their fair share with their Military budgets? They were saying, oh, you’re making waves in NATO. But Trump was absolutely right. We’re seeing the results of this nonsense now. He’s the only one that held them accountable. So Biden should put Americans first here. But I’m not holding my breath.

Joining me now is Walid Pharis, national security and foreign policy expert. Walid, you know this region. You just heard me mention this deal that Germany just doesn’t want to cut Russia off from the Swift banking system. I don’t think they ever will. There’s too much money on the line for Germany.

So they’re now the most serious impediment along with a few other nations of our really being able to fully choke off Russia’s money supply. And I think Russia knows it. Your reaction?

WALID PHARES, FOREIGN AFFAIRS ANALYST: Russia knows. This is the code actually. The Russian leadership, in order to conduct this operation in Ukraine, did an analysis and realized through this analysis that this administration is not willing to confront them.

On the strategic level, just mentioned a very important point. There is a major financial gain between Germany, other European countries, and Russia. And we are partnering with both. We, this administration, Germany and Russia are part of what, of the Iran deal. And the Iran deal is not just about $40 billion, but $150 billion, and even more than that.

So the calculations in Moscow are – since you are sitting at the same table with these partners, including our administration, and the Biden administration is so much dead set on going back to the deal, therefore, their calculation are that we’re not going to confront them.

But there is a second reason, Laura. They saw what we’ve done in Afghanistan, that we’ve withdrawn from Afghanistan, and we got a deal with the Taliban leadership. And that in the eyes or in the mind of Putin, or the Russian leadership means that we’re not ready. This administration is not ready to confront them in Ukraine as well.

INGRAHAM: There was another question asked today at the press conference when Biden came out and addressed reporters in the country on this. And he was asked by a journalist, I believe from India, on what one of our most important allies is saying about this conflict, and what’s happening there. And I thought it was revealing. Let’s watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: India is one of your major defense partners. Is India fully in sync with United States on Russia?

BIDEN: We’re going to be – we’re in consultation with India today. We haven’t resolved that completely.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

INGRAHAM: We haven’t resolved that. Isn’t that one of the many conversations? One of our most important allies in the Middle East in that region, we have not resolved what India thinks of all this. What?

PHARES: You know, Laura, this whole indicates that this administration and its partners, the western partners, and probably India, were not ready for what Russia has done. And they were not ready because they didn’t even calculate that Russia could do so. And there’s a reason behind that.

And I go back to my first point. There are financial interests worldwide that were put together through the Iran deal, through the trade between Europe and Russia, through the energy issue. Nobody thought that Putin is going to do it and calculate exactly that we’re not going to react the way we should.

INGRAHAM: Walid, thank you so much. We really appreciate it tonight. And we’re going to bring you the latest from the ground in Ukraine. Plus, in moments, we’re going to speak to a member of Ukraine’s parliament, who’s ready to fight for his country no matter what. Don’t go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

INGRAHAM: Now, few people understand Vladimir Putin’s Military strategy in Ukraine better than my next guest. Joining me now is retired Royal Marine brigadier general Justin hedges. General judges – Hedges, good to see you tonight.

What can you tell us about the way Vladimir Putin has approached this conflict militarily? Tonight – tonally with what he said yesterday about anyone attempting to interfere with this operation.

JUSTIN HEDGES, RETIRED BRIGADIER GENERAL: Good evening. At that level, I think it’s very menacing speech, really is a very direct threat to NATO countries and anybody else to not get involved. Unequivocally, he is effectively saying he’s prepared to use strategic weapons such as nuclear weapons to deter that.

So he’s looking to isolate Ukraine militarily by using that threat. And now within Ukraine itself, he’s looking to encircle – it looks like he’s trying to encircle Kyiv and give too many points of pressure for the Ukrainian Armed Forces to deal with by coming from the east and from the from the southeast out of Crimea as well.

INGRAHAM: General Hedges, the issue – I keep coming back to there. Two countries I keep coming back to, China and Germany. Tonight, Germany, with just a just a phone call to President Biden could say, You know, we’re going to have to sacrifice in the short term. We need to cut Russia off from the Swift banking system. They have explicitly come out against that. Your reaction to that, given how much other countries are being asked to sacrifice here to help Ukraine in their hour of need?

HEDGES: The sorts of sanctions like that, to be honest, this is outside of my expertise. But I think from a sort of sanctions perspective, I would say at the moment, the most significant sanction that’s being imposed on Vladimir Putin is the casualties and the difficult fight that Ukrainian armed forces are putting on that government.

I mean, I think the strength of the resistance and those casualties will cause problems at home for Putin. So irrespective really of what we do from the outside at the moment, probably the most important cost that’s being imposed on Putin from a domestic support is a perspective is being imposed by the Ukrainians themselves.

INGRAHAM: And General Hedges, it’s a country of about 44 million people, Ukraine. How difficult would that country be to occupy? If you’re Russia, even with all your might, occupying a country of that size, is that really something they could do for any long period of time?

HEDGES: I don’t think so. The country, the population itself voted overwhelmingly to lean towards the west, join the EU in due course and NATO. I think, if he intends to and/or tries to occupy and subjugate the country by Military means in the side, that will become a very long and very bloody task.

INGRAHAM: At one point today, we understand that at one point of entry at a port, Russian vessel came upon Ukrainian soldiers, who basically, when asked to surrender told him to bleep off. This is being reported tonight in the New York Post. They were given the opportunity to surrender and the soldiers flipped them off, and they were summarily executed.

HEDGES: Yes. I’ve seen that reporting as well. I mean, I – my perception and I’ve been speaking to a number of Ukrainian people, our armed forces and some part of the territorial force over the last few weeks. I mean, these people are prepared to stand, fight and die for their land. And actually, the Russians themselves should know this, because they’ve had to do it themselves in their own history.

And I think what we’re seeing right now is that level of resistance and determination. You know, a man will fight for his own home much harder than invading person that’s not fighting for his own home.

INGRAHAM: And General Hedges, given the reports tonight that there has been at least one Russian aircraft down by Ukrainian fire, we don’t know what type of weaponry was used, we don’t know whether it was an unmanned drone or more significant aircraft, would that surprise you given the capabilities Ukraine now has from the United States and others?

HEDGES: No, I’m not surprised at all. I think the Russians have been trying to neutralize a lot of the air defense systems, but some of them will be small handheld, difficult to target, and very effective. And I think the Russians will have deployed a lot of the aircraft, fixed wing, fast jets, and also rotary wing. And I’m not surprised at all that a number are being shot down.

INGRAHAM: General, we really appreciate your joining us tonight. Thank you so much.

And the sun is coming up in two hours in Lviv, Ukraine, and people are bracing for even more attacks. FOX’s Lucas Tomlinson has been there on the ground, and we’re lucky enough to have him with us tonight. Lucas, what’s the latest?

LUCAS TOMLINSON, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Laura, Secretary of State Tony Blinken thinks the Russians are trying to overthrow the Ukrainian government. The Pentagon was less diplomatic, saying they’re trying to decapitate it.

Phase one of this Russian operation, full scale invasion, as they’re calling it here, began with 160 ballistic and cruise missiles being fired at targets throughout the country, north, south, east, and even a few targets here in western Ukraine. Tonight, Ukrainian President Zelenskyy says the Russians have sent a hit squad to try to kill him and his family. Zelenskyy says he’s not going anywhere. He’s staying. He ordered a full mobilization of able-bodied men. His interior minister ordered 10,000 rifles distributed to citizens to defend the capital.

Hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians took to the highways to flee the fighting, many passing through here in Lviv. This is a university town. The mayor says he’s willing to send students home to free up the dorm and apartment space. So far there’s no sign of any Russian forces here, but many of the citizens we have spoken to today are nervous about what comes next. Laura?

INGRAHAM: Lucas, thank you, we’ll check back with you.

And joining me now is Ukrainian member of parliament, Alex Goncharenko. What is the situation right now?

ALEX GONCHARENKO, UKRAINIAN MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT: Right now is the night in Kyiv. It’s more than 5:00 a.m. now, and it’s the first 24 hours of the invasion has passed. I can tell you the main news as for me that Putin’s blitzkrieg has failed, because he wanted to decapitate Ukraine just in one day. And he failed, and to say truth, now he has no significant success on the territory of the country.

Recently there was a missile attack on Kyiv, 3 million people city, Ukrainian capital. I am now in Kyiv. Ukrainian systems, they worked, and they interrupted many of the missiles. But one, there is one hit in a house with people and civilian house with the civilian people. That’s the situation for the moment.

As I know, the aircraft that you were speaking about, it is very new, Russian aircraft, which is a bomber fighter. It’s not a drone. So it was carried by the pilot, and it is downed by Ukrainian aircraft in the air fight.

INGRAHAM: In an air fight. So it wasn’t surface-to-air. OK, you gave us information we didn’t already have.

GONCHARENKO: As I know, as I know, it happened like this.

INGRAHAM: Mr. Goncharenko, I understand, you’re not a soldier, correct me if I’m wrong. But you said —

GONCHARENKO: No, I’m not.

INGRAHAM: — you’re willing to take up arms and fight in any way that you can, and if you’re called to do so. I know there are so many of your contemporaries, you’re a young man, at your age who they’re not going anywhere no matter how dangerous it becomes in Ukraine. Tell us about that willingness to sacrifice for the independence of your country.

GONCHARENKO: Yes. Yesterday when I was receiving the weapon, together with me, hundreds of Kyiv, citizens of Kyiv received weapons. It’s not only in Kyiv. I know that it’s throughout the country. But only in Kyiv, more than 10,000 rifles were distributed to people who want to defend the city, just ordinary people, to civilians like me. Some of them have some experience. Some of them have very little experience, like me. But we are eager to fight for our city, for our capital, for our country. And we want to stop Putin because we — that’s our land, and we’re not going to give up it.

INGRAHAM: I’m so grateful that you joined us tonight. I want to tell you that I spent some wonderful time in Ukraine when I was even younger than you are in 1983 along the Dnieper River. And I was speaking Russian back then. The Ukrainians didn’t want to speak Russian, but they were forced to, so they did reluctantly. Did have nice conversations. But it is a beautiful place with enormous history, enormous history of suffering as well. But Alex, we really appreciate you joining us tonight. And —

GONCHARENKO: Thank you very much, thank you for covering. And please be with the Ukrainian people. Now we’re fighting not only for ourselves but for the whole free world.

INGRAHAM: Alex, thank you.

And a DHS source is telling FOX today that the cyber threat to the United States grid and to our banking system is real. Senator Mark Warner talked about this and says it’s still very active. If the grid is penetrated, intelligence estimates show that it would likely take one to two weeks to get it back online.

Joining us now to discuss this is former FBI assistant director Chris Swecker. Chris, I know you’re very familiar with these types of cyber security threats. Our grid is always under some type of assault. Usually, we’re able to prevent it’s being successfully hit. But how much of this is real, this threat in your eyes? And should our government do more to prevent these ongoing attempts?

CHRIS SWECKER, FORMER FBI ASSISTANT DIRECTOR: Well, Laura, there’s no question that Russia under Putin has the capability and does launch exploits on a day-to-day basis through Russian cybercriminal organizations. They’ll hit the financial institutions first, I believe, Laura, in retaliation for financial sanctions.

And as I mentioned, his own GRU, his own intelligence services, don’t have the same capabilities as the criminal organizations. So since they’re doing this day-to-day, he just presses them into service as needed for his own needs. So I see a real threat here. My sources tell me that the threat — the actual attacks on the U.S. are at a pretty normal level right now, but they launched a cyberattack, a fourth attack vector, against the Ukraine. You mentioned land, air, and sea. They’re going at Ukraine pretty hard right now from a cyber standpoint.

INGRAHAM: We’re going to get back to cyber in a second, but I should report that it is breaking that Russian forces are rolling toward Ukraine, to Kyiv in Ukraine, about 20 miles out right now. And that’s obviously extremely significant. There’s a huge population inside the capital city. Many of them now underground, driven underground. There’s an enormous amount of fear in the country, which will probably heighten this entire moment for us versus Russia, given the cyber threats that are out there, Chris. How significant is it that it looks like they were rolling into Kyiv pretty soon?

SWECKER: Yes, they’re committed to taking over Kyiv. And they’ll take over the entire country. I think we see that handwriting is on the wall there. I’m not real impressed with the resistance so far. They are — they are against overwhelming numbers. It appears that Putin has committed to this.

And this timing is not accidental, Laura. This is a dictator, a mob boss that has sized up our president, and he looks at him and he sees opportunities. There’s opportunities here and there’s opportunities in other areas of the world. And his goal here partly is to make us look weak. That would be another goal of the cyberattacks is to show that he can retaliate for financial sanctions, and it makes him look powerful and it makes us look vulnerable.

INGRAHAM: Chris, thank you for your expertise tonight.

And you heard me talk for the last two nights about China’s silent hand in all of this. Are they working behind the scenes to bolster Putin? It certainly looks like it. And of course, in the process, hinder any efforts on the part of NATO and the United States. We’re going to explain all of this, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

INGRAHAM: We’re back with a FOX News alert. Ukrainians bracing for more attacks from Russian forces as reports are that Russian troops are headed as close as 20 miles out from Kyiv, tanks and other vehicles making their way to the capital city. Trey, what’s the latest?

TREY YINGST, FOX NEWS FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT: Some extremely concerning reports about Russian troops within 20 miles of the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv. It comes as last hour there were two large explosions in the Ukrainian capital. We are still tracking down exactly what happened. There are conflicting reports. Some say it was a Russian plane shot down. Others say a Ukrainian plane. Some say a cruise missile. In the fog of war, sometimes this information can get messy. So we’re going to hold off on reporting exactly what it was.

But it appears that Ukrainian or even possibly Russian air defense shot down something that was flying over the Ukrainian capital, and there are some images coming out from the ground of a residential apartment building that received some of the shrapnel and damage from whatever was shot out of the sky.

This does come as missiles have targeted Kyiv tonight. A number of times we’ve heard those explosions in the distance. And we do know there were a number of battles taking place today not only on the outskirts of this city but the outskirts of many cities across the country of Ukraine.

Following this Russian invasion, Russian forces and Ukrainian soldiers were engaged in heavy fighting, especially in the second largest city of Kharkiv. This is in the northeastern part of Ukraine. But some significant escalation. And as you note, the reports of the Russian troops within 20 miles of the capital city are extremely concerning because it aligns with the western intelligence analysis that indicates Kyiv could be the next target for these forces that could try to choke off the city and then ultimately come in by land.

What that will look like, it is really anyone’s guess because it could have a hybrid war situation where you can see Ukrainian forces in some sort of guerrilla warfare trying to cut off those Russian troops as they try to move in. And also civilians, we know today up to 10,000 weapons were given out to civilians according to the interior minister to help to fight off any sort of Russian invasion into the city. Back to you.

INGRAHAM: Trey, thank you so much.

So what is our more serious rival? China. Think of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Did Xi get a heads up at the Olympics? Did he ask Vladimir to wait until after the Olympics? Did he say they would continue to buy oil during that Olympic meeting. For starters, China refuses to even call this an invasion. That’s pretty telling. And they’re blaming the United States for ramping up tensions in the region. China’s assistant foreign minister saying “The U.S. has been fueling the flame, fanning up the flame. How do they want to put out the fire?”

Joining me is Mike Pillsbury, director of the Center on Chinese at Hudson, author of “The Hundred-Year Marathon,” and Gordon Chang, senior fellow at Gatestone Institute, author of “The Great U.S.-China Tech War.” Mike, let’s start with you. I’ve been dying to talk to you and Gordon for the last 48 hours. China, China, China, it is critical, and so few people are talking about it. Only a couple of questions touched on this in President Biden’s press conference today. Give us your assessment so far, Mike.

MIKE PILLSBURY, “THE HUNDRED-YEAR MARATHON” AUTHOR: As you know, Laura, only in the last few days have the American media and our Congress dropped the ball on the China threat. President Trump was the first, obviously, then Joe Biden embraced the Trump strategy toward China. Frequently President Biden said China was the main threat, the main competition.

All that seems to be out the window. And obviously without having to eavesdrop on the Chinese leadership, it’s obvious they’re enjoying this. They’re seeing the two tigers fight, to use a Chinese proverb. Certainly, in terms of the economy of China, it’s about 10 times bigger than the economy of Russia. So that means in terms of protecting Putin’s economy, loans, investment, purchasing more Russian energy products, other kind of products, China is in a position to really support Putin as he faces these sanctions.

The other thing I’m worried about is that China is drawing lessons from this about if they were to invade Taiwan, the level of sanctions and punishment they would get, if it’s like what Biden has done about Putin and Ukraine, it would be very light sanctions that China could afford. So we’re likely to see increasing chances of a war with China attacking Taiwan in the next two or three years while Putin is protected by the size of the Chinese economy. These are both very dangerous trends, I think, Laura.

INGRAHAM: Richard Haass, Gordon, who is the president of the Council on Foreign Relations, he wrote in “The New York Times” that the Biden administration should step up its private diplomacy with China, highlighting the economic and strategic risks, including financial punishment and increasing anti-China sentiment in the west.”

Gordon, talk about trying to close the barn door after the horse already ran out. Is this — is this approach going to drive a wedge between China and Russia to tell Xi, you should really think about this? Isn’t it a little late for that?

GORDON CHANG, GATESTONE INSTITUTE SENIOR FELLOW: Well, certainly, it’s not going to work. That February 4th meeting between Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping, they issued that very long communique that talked about the no limits partnership. But more important, they announced a $117.5 billion in new oil and gas deals. And just a couple of days ago, they announced the sale of $100 million metric tons of Russian coal.

So, China has made it very clear that they are financing the war against Ukraine. And the United States warned China not to do this on February 3. They did it anyway in Beijing. And so I think the United States needs to impose those hard sanctions not just on the Russians but also the Chinese. Diplomacy ala Richard Haass is just not going to work. And his proposals are ludicrous, ludicrous.

INGRAHAM: It’s just embarrassing, Mike, but as Gordon said, this is kind of the same refrain we hear from the one-worlders or the globalists, whatever you want to call it, the rules based international order crowd. And these are the same people who back in August were saying that the fact that Russia and China were doing all of these joint military exercises, it was interesting, but on CNN.com, Brad Lendon wrote, “Both sides have differing objectives,” like that was going to make us feel better. That was a warning sign back in August when they said let’s hook up and do these exercises, and we were asleep at the wheel.

PILLSBURY: I agree, Laura. And I think we all know that there’s a few hawks inside the Biden administration especially concerned about the China threat. But they seem to be lying low. They’re overwhelmed on the one hand, John Kerry and his quest for climate change. But they’re also overwhelmed by the old, if you will, Richard Haass, Henry Kissinger consensus on China that somehow in moments of crisis, we can turn to China for assistance. And I think you saw President Biden today basically embarrassed by the question are you reaching out to China to get them to help us, and Biden didn’t want to answer.

INGRAHAM: Yes, can I buy a vowel, please? Gordon, it’s a simple question. It might seem too complex for this moment, but why are so many elites so willing to give China the benefit of the doubt and billions in U.S. dollars to build up its military while being singularly focused on the Russian threat? I’m not saying Russia is not a threat, but why does China always get the free pass, always?

CHANG: First of all, a number of people in the elite do have economic interests. And they view their interests, meaning they’re closer to the Communist Party in China than they are to their fellow Americans. But also like Richard Haass, I think that they believe that ultimately the United States and China can come to an accommodation, that as China grows, that it will see that its interests coincide with those of the U.S. This is five decades of ideology that has failed. And clearly, this is absurd, because we’ve seen by now that there’s no chance, there’s no chance that Xi Jinping is going to come help us. But he will help Putin. He’s already helped Putin.

INGRAHAM: Huge miscalculations, Bush, Clinton, and Obama. Mike and Gordon, you saw it all coming long ago. Thank you.

And as part of Ukraine’s military mobilization to counter this Russian invasion, they’re calling for all citizens to take up arms, promising to provide weapons to those who will. But my next guest was deployed in Ukraine and is speaking to citizens on the ground here. Joining me now is Jeremy Hunt, former Army captain, a congressional candidate in Georgia. Jeremy, the spirit of the Russian men who are willing to take up arms seems very strong. However, they are outnumbered, they are outgunned, and they are being slowly but surely surrounded.

JEREMY HUNT, FORMER ARMY CAPTAIN DEPLOYED TO UKRAINE: Yes, several of my Ukrainian friends tonight, I’ve been texting some of them, and what they’re saying is look, we trust the will of God and we are going to fight for our country. That’s the kind of messaging they’ve been sending me. And it’s inspiring.

These are folks who want freedom so bad they are willing to give their life for it. And they are taking up arms and setting all sorts of territorial defenses and civilians, and specifically Ukrainian men standing up and defending their families, defending their homeland. It’s totally different from even the situation we saw in Afghanistan earlier, where we saw the images of men running, trying to flee the country and hop on the planes out.

No, Ukrainian folks are standing strong. And even we saw some heroic stories today of folks saying you can take my life but you’re not going to take my home. And it’s just incredible. And so my wife and I have just been praying for the people of Ukraine, all of our friends there who are literally giving their lives for their country.

INGRAHAM: At the same time, the Biden administration has sent a small amount of troops to the region. President Biden has been very clear, we will not fight Russia in Ukraine. But we will fight for every inch of NATO territory. Jeremy, at the same time, we have seen a clear reluctance on the part of our European partners, as they’re called, to really squeeze Russia if they’re threatened by Russia, they really feel threatened by Russia, they’re sure willing to give Russia billions of dollars to fund its military through energy and other financial instruments.

HUNT: That’s right. That’s right. And it’s really a cautionary tale for us here at home. We have to stay energy independent or else we too will be like Germany, dependent on Russian oil, dependent on them for our fuel and for gas.

And so I call on the Biden administration right now, lift all of these ridiculous energy restrictions. Reopen the Keystone pipeline. Because right now, even in our district, I’m running for Congress here in southwest Georgia. And there are folks in my district right now who are going to pay $4, $5, $6 a gallon for gas, and some of this, we could actually ease some of that if Biden actually lifted some of these ridiculous restrictions. And especially for those of us in it, for myself, running for office here, the Green New Deal and all these kinds of ridiculous ideas, this should be the last nail in the coffin for the Green New Deal. We see what happens when we are not energy independent. And —

INGRAHAM: Jeremy, I have a quick question — I have a really quick question. In all honesty, are your constituents, potential constituents more concerned about enforcing Ukraine’s border or having us enforce our border at home?

HUNT: Well, what my constituents are saying, I’m talking to folks around the district, what they’re saying is this. We want a country to have a strong military, strong borders, and they want people, leadership in D.C. that actually stands up for us and actually projects strength. The reason why we got here is because Biden — our adversaries across the globe have seen Biden’s weakness all year. They saw how he wanted —

INGRAHAM: We’ve to go. We’ve to go, Jeremy. But a weak America begets a chaotic, dangerous world. And that’s what we’re seeing play out. Peace through strength, baby.

HUNT: That’s right.

INGRAHAM: All right, Jeremy, thank you.

And we’re going to stay — we’re going to stay with the coverage in Lviv. We’ll be back. We have a correspondent on the ground with all of the breaking details. Stay there.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

INGRAHAM: For all of President Biden’s claims that he was going to bring real expertise, gravitas, dignity, influence on the world’s stage, we see what America, weak at home economically, will do or not be able to do when the rest of the world goes haywire. This is a serious, serious situation unfolding. But America, we’ve got to put our own oxygen mask on before we can help others. I think that’s sadly the message here.

That’s it for us tonight. Breaking news on FOX. Stay here.

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