Reporter Manny Marotta flew from Pittsburgh to Ukraine nearly two weeks ago to cover the growing tension between Ukraine and Russia. But he — and millions of Ukrainians — were shocked to wake up to sirens last week, signaling the beginning of Putin’s invasion. Manny walked 43 miles seeking safety in Poland, meeting several Ukrainians along the way. He shares with Glenn those Ukrainians’ stories and experiences — from confused children and weary elderly, to a husband torn away from his wife and a young soldier forced to join the battle. Manny’s reporting paints a picture not only for what Ukrainians are experiencing today, but for the tenacity they have to defend their homeland as well…
Below is a rush transcript that may contain errors
GLENN: This is the Glenn Beck Program.
We're glad you're here.
Thank you so much for listening.
We have Manny Marotta on. He's going to -- we're having problem with our phone systems. Our software systems have gone down. Putin.
So we're trying to get our phones back online. We'll have him on, as soon as we possibly can.
You know, the one thing I think it is important to think of is that, I think there's a lot of Democrats and leftists. A lot of people that just have Trump derangement syndrome.
That see the Ukrainians as a substitute for them. And Putin is Trump.
So I think they -- they see themselves.
Because how else could you be for the Ukrainian people. And this fight against the power.
Or just across the border.
And yet, you would be for, you know, throwing people in from January 6th, and not have them even see a trial yet.
How is it you're for Justin Trudeau, silencing people?
And saying, in a peaceful protest, how could you be for the protesters in Ukraine.
And it doesn't make sense. Unless you see the Ukrainian people, as yourself.
And you're a Democrat. Or a -- a lefty.
And you see them fighting against their Donald Trump.
STU: I mean, I guess they would argue that they think, their side is just in these matters.
Their side is right on January 6. Their side is right on Canada. Their side is right on the battle between --
GLENN: Correct. The big bogeyman there is their version of Putin, Donald Trump. I mean, because I'm against Putin.
STU: Oh, yeah.
GLENN: And I'm for the Ukrainian people. And how is it that we're being told that we're somehow or another, for Putin?
We're not. We're clearly not.
GLENN: What's going on?
Let's go to Manny. The phones are working now.
Manny Marotta. He's a freelance journalist. He actually flew from Pittsburgh, to Ukraine to cover the lead-up to the war with Russia.
And he got caught up in it.
He's now in Poland, after a a very long walk.
Hello, Manny. How are you?
MANNY: I'm doing well. Thank you for having me on the show.
GLENN: You bet.
Glad you're out safe. Can you tell us what it was like over there, when the alarms first started going off. And you knew, oh, man. We're in trouble?
MANNY: Oh, yeah. Absolutely. I mean, until the invasion, nobody knew that anything was wrong. Then suddenly, on the morning of the invasion, we woke up to the sound of air raid sirens.
And it turned out they can't be cities all over the country, were being bombed, and our city could have been next.
I was in La Vivre (phonetic), which is a Western Ukrainian city. We went outside, and we heard people speaking on loudspeakers. Saying, find shelter. Help the elderly. Stockpile water. It was rather scary. The whole country began at once to panic.
GLENN: And it was literally one day. Nothing is really happening. To, oh, my gosh. Here it is.
MANNY: Oh, yeah. Yeah. For the longest time, the Ukrainians denied anything was happening. Because they wanted to preserve their sovereignty. They wanted to preserve their country.
They said, Putin won't invade. And we all believed it. And we all believed Ukraine.
And it seemed like Putin would not invade. And then they came upon us suddenly. Russian Army was in Ukraine, bombings were happening. And, of course, now thousands of people have died in this war with Ukraine -- war with Russia. It's crazy.
GLENN: So tell us -- I mean, because we're seeing social media. And we're seeing unbelievable heroism, on the part of the Ukrainian people. And the president of Ukraine.
It seems like they're not willing to go anywhere.
Is -- is that the truth of what's happening?
MANNY: Absolutely. Absolutely.
I mean, from what I saw from the Ukrainian people, they will defend their sovereignty to the very end. Ukraine is a relatively newly independent country. 1992. They freed themselves from the Soviet Union.
And now they're trying to defend themselves, in the greatest possible sense.
It's only been 30 years since they've become newly independent. And now Ukraine is trying to establish its own identity in you Europe.
And trying to keep itself free from the reins of Russia, coming back to retake it.
And so the Ukrainian people are going to defend every street, every home, every alley. Every inch of Ukrainian soil they can.
And they are like you've never seen.
GLENN: Because they remember what life is like, under Russia.
I mean, I can't believe that Putin thinks that they would remember things. Like they would forget things like the Holodomor, quickly. You know what I mean?
You tend to have a long memory on stuff like that.
And the Holodomor, is part of the national memory of Ukraine. And they mourn it all the time, in everywhere.
There are monuments to it, in nearly every major city.
And, of course, life under the rest of the Soviet times, was terrible for the average Ukrainian. There were oppressions. You couldn't practice free speech.
You had to stay in line with the party. You couldn't establish the Ukrainian identity. You had to be a part of a Russian identity.
So Ukrainians are worried about that happening again. I spoke to several Ukrainians, who had lived under the Soviet Union. Older Ukrainians.
And they were just terrified. It would be something like that again, that Russia could exert power over Ukraine once again.
GLENN: So when you're walking out. You had about 50 miles, right? That's 70 kilometers?
MANNY: Yeah. Thereabouts. I believe the exact amount was 43 miles, and 74 kilometers was the exact -- was the exact number.
But, yeah. A very long walk. And it wasn't just me. It was thousands of Ukrainians. Oftentimes elderly. Oftentimes children.
And they're the ones that are the true heroes of the story. The -- the vulnerable members of society, were walking out of Ukraine. This huge distance.
GLENN: And what did -- and what did you -- what was your conversation like?
MANNY: My conversation with the Ukrainians?
GLENN: Yeah. On that walk. What did you learn?
MANNY: Yeah. Well, I spoke with a wide variety of Ukrainians. I spoke with children. I spoke with young men. I spoke with old women.
I spoke with a variety of people. And they were all -- first of all, they were all unified by their fear of being taken over by Russia. That's why everyone is walking out.
Everyone, of course, was committed to protecting Ukraine as well.
And their plan to -- to reform on the other side of the border. And to fight for Ukraine eventually.
And so the children, of course, were afraid. The children didn't know why they were leaving. The children didn't know why they were forced out of their beds by this invasion.
Why they had to march out into the cold. Why they had to go without food and water, because these people didn't have food and water for the entire walk.
MANNY: And it was just this long and grueling trek. So the elderly people, as I mentioned to you before, they remembered Soviet times. They were mentioning, this could happen again.
That's why they were trying to avoid that.
So they were among, of course, the young men. Who had to fight.
They were conscripted into the army.
And it was -- it was just this wide conglomeration of people. United by a fear and hatred of Russian domination.
GLENN: When you got to -- you're in Poland now, are you not?
I'm in Poland, and speaking to you from Krakow, Poland, right now.
When you got to Poland, what did that feel like? What did the refugees go through?
MANNY: It was just an incredible sense of liberation among the refugees, to be in a country, that, of course, was not being invaded. But also a country that was still sort of living under the Specter of Russian domination. And now we're in Poland. Which is a free country.
A country that has its own long history of repression by Russia.
And there's a sort of solidarity, between the Pols and the Ukrainians.
And the Pols have been very receptive to the Ukrainian refugees, because of this brotherhood that they have, because of their shared path by Russia.
And so the Pols are taking the Ukrainians in, in private homes, and hotels, in guest houses.
Tens of thousands. Hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians. Are staying. And they are welcoming them as well.
And it's this great sense of relief. But the job is not done, until the war is over, of course.
GLENN: Tell me up to two tweets that you made. One you said, we made friends with a 24-year-old named Max, who was pulled out of the caravan, as he talked with us. I had time to get his number before conscription. And he left with a grin of utter disbelief. I'll never forget that face.
And the next one, was a woman screamed for the Army to spare her husband from conscription. A soldier slapped her, and took her husband. Things seemed really desperate.
Tell me about this.
MANNY: Yes. Well, first, I'll tell you about Max. So during the long walk, obviously as I mentioned, I spoke to many Ukrainians, and one of them was this 24-year-old, as you mentioned, 24-year-old named Max. Maxine was his name. And we walked together, for quite a long time.
We learned about each other. He's pretty much my age. So we had to relate to each other, with each other. Even though we grew up on opposite sides of the Atlantic.
So we sort of made friends.
And then towards the end of the walk, in the last ten kilometers. An army -- a Ukrainian Army officer came along, all men aged 18 to 60, step out of this caravan right now. You'll be conscripted to the Army.
And at first, Max, he shouldn't have to go. And then the man yelled at him specifically, and he just looked at me, with this grin, as I mentioned disbelief.
And he stepped out of line, and I didn't see him for the rest of the walk, of course. But, by the way, he did get back in touch with me.
So I've been in contact with him since then. And he's safe. And he's in western Ukraine right now. And he's not currently fighting the Russians.
So I'm glad to hear from him.
MANNY: The second story is -- the second story is a lot sadder. As you mentioned, it's this brutal account of a man, being taken away from his wife. What happened in that occasion, as I mentioned to you, Zelinsky ordered that all men 18 to 60 had to be conscripted into the Ukrainian Army.
So this caused a lot of fathers to be taken away from their children. Husbands to be taken away from their wives.
Brothers and sisters. And sons from mothers.
And one of these couples. I won't forget. And it's the one mentioned in the tweet.
The husband and the wife. Began arguing to the soldier. I don't want to go. I can't go. I have to protect my wife. These men were often caregivers to their families. They had to protect their families, as they crossed the border. So this man was just trying to protect his family. And the wife was pleading with the soldier. She was on her knees at one point. She was standing up. She was crying.
And he -- he was a pretty, not empathetic about it. And he hit her.
And it took the husband away. And it was -- it was just this tragic scene. And it was not isolated either.
This happened 100 times, in just the time, that I was there. And I'm sure it's happened, you thousand more times. It's crazy.
GLENN: So is your feeling that most are going, because they want to defend their country?
But there are a few that -- that are like, I have to protect my family.
Or are most of the Ukrainians serving, because they have to?
MANNY: I mean, they're caught between a rock and a hard place here.
They want to protect their families, of course. And their family's safety is their top priority.
But also they love their family deeply, and they want to serve their family well.
So some men have taken the choice, where they prioritized the solidarity of their country, over the sovereignty of their country.
May I say. Over the temporary -- their temporary safety.
Their temporary being alive.
They prioritized the sovereignty of the country. Then there's this other group, who wants to keep the family safe.
And these are two very different groups. And they both have noble intentions. And they're caught in this tragic situation.
GLENN: So, Manny, I have only about 30 seconds for an answer here.
But with what you've seen, I've always believed, if you send in a foreign troop, and you have people that are defending their land. Their family. Their -- their country.
You're -- you're most likely going to lose, unless it's overwhelming force.
With what you've seen. Who are you betting on? The Russians, or the Ukrainians? Manny. You there?
GLENN: We lost him. Putin.
STU: Pretty surprising if he said the Russians though.
STU: I would be like -- really.
GLENN: Yeah. But to have somebody that was there, and could -- could see it. It would be surprising, to hear that.
But I think you would be able to hear, what was --
STU: The confidence --
GLENN: Yeah. What was emotionally, and what was --
STU: I thought this was a really underplayed, and offensive moment from Joe Biden before this was happening. Remember they kept saying, over and over again. They're coming tomorrow. They're coming tomorrow.
And remember, at one point, he said, look, if the Russians are going to take it. They're going to take it.
And I just remember thinking, yeah, we all know the different sides of the military and the capability. And there's a lot to that. But you can't -- you can't just tell a country, that they're going to lose. They're not going to accept that.
GLENN: Especially the ones who hate the Russians. Have been occupied. And refuse to go back.
All right. Our sponsor this half-hour is Patriot Mobile. The line is in the sand. And it's been for a while. That line is not between Democrat and Republican. Conservative or liberal. It is between Americanism and leftism. Freedom and slavery. Good or evil.