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Sources: White House Having Discussions About Biden Travelling To Europe; Australia, Netherlands Sue Russia Over MH17 Shoot Down; Humanitarian Crisis Worsens For Ukrainians Trapped In War Zone. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired March 14, 2022 - 11:30   ET



BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN ANCHOR: Set up for this meeting today, what do you are looking for to come out of it?

DAVID SANGER, CNN POLITICAL & NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, a couple of things. Certainly, I think you can expect that Jake Sullivan, the National Security Adviser will be warning the Chinese that if in fact, they help break the sanctions and be a relief valve for Russia, that, China itself will get sanctioned. If that happens, you're going to see an even further separation of these economies.

We're already sort of heading back to the way things were in the Cold War, where there was at that time, you know, a communist-based economy and a Western economy. We're not -- we never thought this could happen in this interconnected world, but we're beginning to see elements to that. I think the second thing he will do is try to get the Chinese on board to press the Russians to do a ceasefire and ultimately to get out. This will put stress on that new arrangement announced during the Olympics that the two countries were all of a sudden, best of friends and almost allies.

GOLODRYGA: Yes, and of course, Intel came out later subsequently confirming reports that President Xi had asked Vladimir Putin, right, to hold off on any military engagement in Ukraine until after the Olympics. You have a fascinating piece in The Times today, you know, there's been all this build-up as to the different scenarios that Putin could take leading up to the war.

Now that the war is here upon us, there are scenarios as to how it could end all of them badly. That you've sort of listed from bad to worse. Let's start with this latest strike against a military installment right there bordering Poland. What does that indicate to you about the threat to NATO, and if NATO is, in fact, ready to step up if they're targeted? SANGER: Well, there are two big threats. One is an accidental attack. That's what happened in 2014 when the Russians brought down MH17, the Malaysian airline flight over eastern Ukraine. You could imagine an errant missile going right over, they are only was 10 to 12 miles away this time. Second, is the possibility that the Russians could target the gathering of weaponry somewhere in the NATO area. And that would be a direct attack and that would bring us straight on in I think.

The other interesting option, though, is you know, if you think about the South and East here, in the fall, the American intelligence reports suggested that was really what Putin was aiming for. And then come, you know, this spring, it became clear he was looking for the whole country and moved his forces up to Belarus and then they came down. The question now is would he go back to settling for the South? If so, would President Zelenskyy basically give that away to stop the carnage? We don't know.

GOLODRYGA: Well, President Zelenskyy did seem to be a bit more open to the idea of pressing for membership into NATO for no other reason than he made clear that NATO is not ready for Ukraine at this point. Do you think that would be a turning point for Vladimir Putin?

SANGER: Well, Putin has laid out a couple of requirements. I don't know that all of them would be met. One of them is that Ukraine declaring neutrality that it give up this idea of joining NATO, which is by the way enshrined in the Ukrainian constitution.


SANGER: The second would be that it recognize a Crimea is now Russian territory, and that area and the Donbass that you see there in the -- in the lower red area are independent states. That would be a pretty far reach for Zelenskyy at this moment. But the -- just the nature of the carnage, the direct attacks on civilians, may make him think that that is the lesser of many evils.

GOLODRYGA: Yes. A big difference, though, between the two countries. One is authoritarian, right? President Zelenskyy is running a democratic country. He can't make some of these decisions unilaterally as well, and that's what we're going to keep in mind.

SANGER: That's right.

GOLODRYGA: David Sanger, always great to see you. Thank you.

SANGER: Great to be with you.

GOLODRYGA: Well, coming up. Police in two cities are searching for a man they say could be behind a string of deadly shootings targeting homeless men. Why do police believe the crimes are connected? That's next.


[11:35:00] GOLODRYGA: And breaking news. Sources telling CNN that White House officials are having early discussions about having President Biden travel to Europe soon as the war in Ukraine nears the three-week mark. CNN's John Harwood is live at the White House with the breaking details. And, John, I would assume this is in response to that Russian missile strike so close to the Polish border.

JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOSIE CORRESPONDENT: Exactly in Poland, in fact, Bianna is one of the potential destinations for this trip. Poland, of course, being a NATO ally, that missile struck just a few miles from the Polish border.

We've had administration officials, Vice President Harris, Secretary of State Blinken traveling in Europe but this would be a -- for the first time since this conflict began for President Biden to go there. Obviously, this is a conflict in the backyard of NATO allies but the United States has huge stakes in the outcome. President Biden has been leading the NATO response -- a coordinated response that includes both military assistance as well as economic sanctions -- heavy economic sanctions on Russia.


HARWOOD: And as this war drags on, President Biden is looking to head to the region to get a closer look at exactly what's going on and also try to express American solidarity there. Don't have details of the trip, but we do expect that more information will be coming out in the coming days.

GOLODRYGA: Yes, the president reiterating almost daily that the U.S. will defend and protect every inch of NATO soil, obviously. That would be very symbolic if he does travel there. Thank you so much, John.

Also developing now, oil prices are plunging at this hour dropping more than 8 percent. Prices touched below $100 a barrel a short time ago, now that's down for more than $130 a barrel on March 6. The sell- off, if sustained, could bring some relief to drivers who are dealing with record gasoline prices. AAA reports that the national average for a gallon of gas is currently $4.32.

And developing at this hour, Australia and the Netherlands have launched a legal case against Russia to hold them accountable for their alleged role in the downing of Malaysian Airlines flight 17 over eastern Ukraine in 2014. Pro-Russian rebels shot down the Boeing 777 after the invasion of Crimea, killing 298 people.

CNN's Pete Muntean is live in Washington. And, Pete, Russia has long denied that it was behind that shooting. What could come from this case then?

PETE MUNTEAN, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: Well, Bianna, Russia, again and again, refuses to accept responsibility for MH17 getting shot down over Ukraine. In fact, it walked away from talks about a year and a half ago. But the goal of this new lawsuit is not only to get Russia to accept the blame but also to pay reparations to the families of the hundreds of passengers and crew who were killed, majority of those on board were citizens of the Netherlands and it is launching the suit along with Australian officials.

And here's what the suit alleges. That Malaysian Airlines flight 17 was shot down by a Russian missile trucked in from Russia fired by pro-Russian separatists who were accompanied by a train Russian military crew. And then the missile was trucked back into Russia. Now in a joint statement, Australian officials say this was in part triggered by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Here's the statement. "Russia's unprovoked and unjustified invasion of Ukraine and its escalation and its aggression underscores the need to continue our enduring efforts to hold Russia to account." Now, these proceedings will be handled by the International Civil Aviation Organization, ICAO. It is just pretty rare, a lawsuit like this has happened only about five times in the last 80 years, Bianna.

GOLODRYGA: Pete Muntean, and I know you will continue to follow the story, thank you.

Also developing this morning, police in New York and Washington D.C. are searching for a man they say is connected to a series of attacks against the homeless. Police say five homeless men have been shot in both cities, two of them have died. CNN's Brynn Gingras joins me now with the latest. Really frightening developments here, what more are we learning?

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And it's just happening over a nine-day span, so now right we have the ATF investigating, we have the Metro PD in DC, we have the NYPD kind of working together sharing resources trying to get to the root of this. We're also learning they're going basically to people who are living on the street showing that picture you just showed your viewers trying to identify this person as well as going to shelters.

Let's take through the timeline that police are working with in regards to these shootings. The first one happened in early March. There were two people shot on the third and the eighth. Both of those men in DC have survived those shootings but the third shooting that was discovered by police was on March 9.

Authorities found a man after a fire was extinguished and the mold -- the medical examiner rather determined that that victim died of multiple stabs in gunshot wounds. Then police believe this suspect came here to New York City and shot at two more people living on the street just within a 90-minute period over this past weekend on March 12. And I want you to listen to the mayor describe those shootings as an incredibly chilling effect.


ERIC ADAMS, MAYOR OF NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK: I believe that he's alive today because he woke up after he heard the first gunshot and started yelling and the second person did not. I mean, he stood over him and shot him in his head for no reason at all, but being homeless. And so we will catch him. (END VIDEO CLIP)

GINGRAS: So right there, the victims, one has survived, one was killed, authorities looking to see if there are any other victims that they need to worry about going. I'm told they're getting this -- you know, being told go to get wellness checks on these people who are living on the streets right now, convince people to go into the shelters for their own safety. But there is surveillance video that they're using and they're sharing between the departments. There are pictures hoping that they're going to identify the suspect soon.

GOLODRYGA: Yes, hopefully, they can find him soon.


GOLODRYGA: Brynn Gingras, thank you.

GINGRAS: All right.

GOLODRYGA: And coming up. Ukrainians are finally starting to evacuate from one of the hardest-hit cities today but the humanitarian crisis is getting worse. The Red Cross says time is running out. Stay with us.



GOLODRYGA: AT THIS HOUR, some people are finally getting out of the besieged city of Mariupol in southern Ukraine through a humanitarian corridor. But Ukrainian officials say more than 2500 people have been killed by Russian bombardments. CNN is unable to independently confirm that number. Joining me now from Ukraine is the spokesperson for the International Committee of the Red Cross, Florian Seriex.


GOLODRYGA: Florian, thank you so much for joining us. We are now into week three of Putin's war against Ukraine, talk about what conditions are like now for those trapped in cities like Mariupol.

FLORIAN SERIEX, SPOKESPERSON, INTERNATIONAL COMMITTEE OF THE RED CROSS: But the humanitarian situation in a place like Mariupol is terrible like people have barely nothing. They are like, really relying on their very life supply if they still have any to survive. So what we hear are accounts of people really like having barely at best like one meal a day, people who are trying really to identify any kind of stream to get a little bit of water being in the radiators, being in whatever they can find.

We have a lot of people who are sick wherever because (AUDIO GAP) they don't have necessarily medicine. People are -- some people have been wounded. They don't have the necessary care. So yes, the current situation in Mariupol is absolutely -- it's a catastrophe.

GOLODRYGA: Yes. They're -- the shortage and food supplies there, freezing temperatures. You know, over the weekend, I spoke with some Ukrainian-Americans who had just organized shipments of supplies specifically for these people who remain under siege. And I have to tell you, I was stunned to see some of the top items on their wish list if we can put up the graphic.

They include things like tools to open an injured person's airway, tape to bind chest wounds, cervical neck collars, and most heartbreaking for me, noise-canceling earphones for children so that they don't have to be subjected to the constant bombardment around them. What does this tell you about what people are going through on a daily basis now?

SERIEX: Well, that's terrible to hear. And in addition to the needs I mentioned earlier, there is a psychological impact for the people who have spent more than two weeks now in this situation. So we hear similar comments from our team, from what they see from what they hear from other people like people have lived in shelters for weeks, there is like constant warfare.

They are afraid, they don't know when they will be able to go out, some people are really like -- most of the people are totally desperate, so what our team is doing, they are trying to keep themselves busy as well to try to keep some morale among the people who are currently in the shelter because it's not just about our staff, but it's all staff, their families, some neighbors, and, of course, like it's the same situation for all the people at the moment in Mariupol.

GOLODRYGA: Yes. I just think about the small children. And you mentioned morale that families having to constantly take care of their kids and make sure that that morale doesn't completely fall off for them because this is so dire. And clearly, children should never be exposed to anything like this. I know the International Red Cross is active all over the world in conflict zones. What does -- what is what you're seeing, and how does it differ from other crises?

SERIEX: It's always difficult to compare crises. All of them are terrible because people are going through things that none of us should ever experience, and this is the case here. You were mentioning the small children. And you know, like, people, they have to make choices in Mariupol and then you have time like shelters are overcrowded, so no, not all of the (AUDIO GAP).

And that's the case in many places where you will have maybe the youngest children as well as women who will stay inside the shelter, but people are forced to do some rotations, they just to have some air also and continue to breathe inside the shelters while they are crowded. The situation right now is absolutely terrible in many places in Ukraine.

GOLODRYGA: Yes. And we're just only seeing a fraction of what is transpiring there. Obviously, aid workers are in harm's way as well. The head of the International Red Cross has said that some of your vehicles have been hit or damaged by shrapnel and fire. The reports that there have been at least 31 attacks on medical facilities and ambulances, how concerned are you about your own safety and the safety of your colleagues?

I believe -- I believe we lost his shot there, but clearly some insight into -- huh, such a terrible situation that millions of Ukrainians are going through right now. For more information on how you can help the people of Ukraine, you can go to And CNN's breaking news coverage of the war in Ukraine continues with INSIDE POLITICS with John King, after a quick break.



ANNOUNCER: INSIDE Politics with John King, next on CNN. This is CNN Breaking News.

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everybody. Welcome to INSIDE POLITICS. I'm John King in Washington. Thank you for sharing this sober day with us. New images, pictures of day 19 of Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine confirmed the situation growing bleaker by the hour. This is the scene in Kyiv today. An apartment building was set ablaze by a Russian missile strike. Firefighters, they're racing to extract people from the building. It is more and more clear, there --