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At This Hour

Biden, Allies Meet At NATO Summit On Russians War On Ukraine; North Korea Fires Suspected Intercontinental Ballistic Missile; Final Day Of Hearings For Supreme Court Nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired March 24, 2022 - 11:30   ET



WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: The brutal war launched against Ukraine. The president also has been meeting with G7 leaders this hour here at NATO headquarters, as well.

And later, the president will hold a separate round of talks with leaders from other G7 -- European Council members, and then I'll wrap it all up with a major news conference later this afternoon. We will, of course -- of course, have live coverage of that news conference. We're all anxious to hear what President Biden has to say.

But let's discuss what's going on right now with two special guests, Ian Brzezinski, is the former U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Europe and NATO policy, also with us, Mark Jacobson. He's the former deputy NATO advisor -- Senior Civilian adviser to various representatives, including General Petraeus when he was the Supreme Allied Commander.

Ian, let's talk a little bit about what's going on. You said that NATO needs to be going much further right now far more aggressively to help Ukraine deal with this current situation. Give us an example of what you have in mind.

IAN BRZEZINSKI, FORMER DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF DEFENSE OF EUROPE & NATO POLICY: Thanks, Wolf. I mean, this has been a powerful Summit. It's brought together the combined power of NATO, the EU, and the G7. So that basically puts on the table, the full spectrum of the Western Community democracies, diplomatic, military, and economic power. And the messaging has been powerful, strong calling on Putin to immediately withdraw from Ukraine, an expression of support for Ukraine, but you know, it's messaging.

And messaging is only going to resonate effectively with Putin if it's backed up by action. And so areas that need serious consideration or decision on is actually expanding the spectrum of economic sanctions to make it a full trade embargo, particularly on oil and gas. That has to be ratcheted up.

Last year, Putin or Russia brought in some $489 billion of revenues from sales of oil and gas. That's over a billion dollars a day. And even though that's reduced today, those sales continue. So every week, Putin is receiving billions of dollars are used to fuel this invasion. That has to stop.

On the NATO front, NATO has to institutionally be more involved in this crisis. First, it should be part of the process, facilitating the flow of assistance. And I actually think NATO should actually have a presence in Ukraine. And I'm among those who believe that there should be a humanitarian no conflict zone established in western Ukraine.

A presence like that would provide a safe haven for the millions of refugees that have been captured -- that have been generated by Putin's brutal invasion, it would provide territorial perpetuation of the Ukrainian state, it would allow Ukrainian forces to concentrate more effectively against the Russians and it would be an action that demonstrates the West's resolve in a way that Putin would understand through decisive action.

BLITZER: Well, those are important points, indeed. And Mark, you say that NATO can't be the only group standing up to Putin right now. You say, for example, that both India and China are crucial in the rein -- trying to rein in Russia and what it's doing in Ukraine right now. Explain what you think.

MARK JACOBSON, FORMER DEPUTY NATO SENIOR CIVILIAN REPRESENTATIVE IN AFGHANISTAN: So, I agree with Ian in terms of NATO needing to get more involved across the spectrum. I also am worried that a direct military confrontation with the Russians is in no one's interest. I do believe that we need to put some more pressure on the Chinese and on the Indians to put their own economic pressure and diplomatic pressure on the Russians as well.

Now, I'm not confident that Putin will listen to anyone. But at the same time, we're really running out of additional actions we can do in the no-kinetic space. In other words, you know the diplomatic, the economic, and the informational arena. But that said, I'm really heartened by the fact that the G7 and the EU and NATO are all acting in concert together.

And the last piece that has to happen if we want to be effective is to be ready to do this over the long term. These can't be sanctions that are lifted as soon as it's painful for European or North American populations.

But again, I think there has to be some diplomatic pressure, maybe even comes from, you know, additional African nations that are still willing to do business with the Russians. Maybe it comes from Brazil. But I think India and China above all else, have to be encouraged to get Putin to stop what he's doing.

BLITZER: Yes. Well, let's see if they do that. So far, they have paused, to put it mildly. You know, Ian, the whole nature of what's going on right now, what is a real serious concern of the highest officials in the Biden administration and non-NATO itself is that Putin and the Russians might actually use weapons of mass destruction, chemical, biological or maybe even tactical nuclear weapons. Is that at all realistic do you think?

[11:35:00] BRZEZINSKI: I think it's something that cannot be discounted, particularly in light of Putin's history. He has used chemical weapons before. He supported its use, executed -- he use in Syria. He has used it for assassination in Europe.

And we have intelligence has been released by the administration -- the Biden administration indicating that they were contemplating false flag operations involving chemical weapons. So this is a serious concern. And it's -- I'm glad that the administration set of tiger teams to different -- to consider different contingencies.

But I have to say if we're really worried and -- about the use of such weapons of mass destruction, particularly the chem and bio side, as was emphasized in the NATO statement, and we're determined to deter its use, the most effective ways through some sort of Western presence in Ukraine.

I think Putin is more likely to use such weapons against a Ukraine that's isolated on its own and is less likely to use it if there are Western forces are present on the battlefield. Not necessarily engaging Russia in a fight, but presence in western Ukraine, for example, in a humanitarian no conflict zone.

BLITZER: Ian Brzezinski, and Mark Jacobson, guys, thank you very much. We will, of course, continue this conversation down the road. Coming up, as Western leaders meet here at NATO headquarters in Brussels about the war in Ukraine, another major development unfolding around the world, North Korea fires a long-range missile that potentially could be capable of actually reaching the United States. We have details. We'll have a live report when we come back.



KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: We'll get back to the series of summits underway among world leaders on the war in Ukraine in just a moment. Also developing this morning, North Korea fired its longest missile test yet, launching a suspected Intercontinental Ballistic Missile for the first time since 2017. CNN's Will Ripley is live in Taipei with more on this. Will, how seriously are people taking this test?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, President Biden just met with the Japanese prime minister who was very strong in his wording about this, saying that was reckless and unacceptable. Of course, this ICBM -- believed to be a new kind of ICBM, possibly called the Hwasong-17.

It landed very close to Japan's northern island of Hokkaido inside that country's exclusive economic zone, the waters immediately around it. They say that it posed a danger to ships and planes because North Korea conducted this intercontinental ballistic missile test without any warning.

And this missile is -- has really outperformed any other ICBM that North Korea has tested. The last test, of course, was in November of 2017. This time around, it went higher, 3800 miles, it went longer, 1100 -- I should say 671 miles, and it flew for a longer period of time as well for 71 minutes. 71 minutes.

But by going to that high altitude of more than 3800 miles, Kate, the North Koreans essentially demonstrated that this missile could hit anywhere in the world, including any city in the U.S. delivering potentially a nuclear warhead that could cause a lot of death and destruction.

Of course, North Korea, deliberately sending this message on purpose at a time that the world is focused on Ukraine, but all the leaders are gathered there in Brussels, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. Will, thank you so much for that. Let's turn back to Ukraine. Today marks one month since Russia's invasion began. Every day, more images show the devastation of the Russian attacks on the cities of Ukraine and on the people from destroyed homes in Kyiv to the bombing of the maternity and Children's Hospital in Mariupol and now, in Chernihiv where a new video shows the destruction just left behind after weeks of Russian shelling.

This morning, my colleague John Berman, he spoke with a 15-year-old teenager from that city. He was forced from his home barely escaped the city with his life and lost his mother at the very same time. Listen to this.


ANDRIY, ESCAPED CHERNIHIV: One second and I see a yellow explosion, sound in ears and I just remember like I woke up in road. I see the broken car and I see like my mother going in fire. My mother was (speaking in a foreign language).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I mean she was still alive while she was on fire.

ANDRIY: Yes, (speaking in a foreign language).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I started crawling from -- away from the road and then I felt a pain in my left clavicle.

ANDRIY: I have broken. I feel blood in my left ear. They're here shooting not from weapons, rockets, or something. And I climb to stairs and hide here. I'm screaming one time, two minutes or three. It was very cold. I haven't -- I just been shocked.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: You can't walk?

ANDRIY: I can't walk. And some people in village hears the explosion and these people take us to his house (Speaking in a foreign language).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As he wrapped us in blankets.

BERMAN: And your mother during this, where -- UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Speaking in a foreign language.

ANDRIY: Speaking in a foreign language.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She died -- she died at that location. And she was still alive and she got the fire when my clothes caught fire and she just burned.

ANDRIY: And when doctors drove me to the hospital, I'm looking for some people from (INAUDIBLE) defense or police to find my father.

BERMAN: You and your father. Are you OK, in your hearts?

ANDRIY: Father is hurt. You understand your wife is dead and you look to your son. I can stand up without -- you understand.


ANDRIY: Now, I think I am -- (speaking in a foreign language).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And myself I think I haven't realized everything to its full extent.

BERMAN: What do you want the world to know about your mother?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Speaking a foreign language.

ANDRIY: I'm sorry.

BERMAN: I'm sorry.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Speaking a foreign language.

ANDRIY: Thank you. (Speaking in a foreign language)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want them to know that my mother was a very beautiful woman.

ANDRIY: Speaking in a foreign language.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She always like things to be tidy and clean, and my father and I -- we always wanted to understood that and supported her. And right now, it's very -- it's very difficult without a mother.

BERMAN: She has a beautiful and brave son.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Speaking a foreign language.

BERMAN: And I'm so sorry you've gone through this.


BOLDUAN: Such a sweet boy. And after all of this, after everything that this boy has been through, this 15-year-old boy says that he plans to or at least hopes to return to his hometown once this war is over. Unbelievable. For more information on how you can help the people of Ukraine go to We'll be right back.



BOLDUAN: At this hour, a final day of hearings is underway for Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson. The committee now has a date for a first vote on her nomination yet Republican members on the Senate judiciary are essentially asking for more time, igniting a dispute over access to documents related to some of Judge Jackson's past sentencing decisions.

Chairman Durbin says documents like these have never been requested by the committee before. CNN's Chief Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin joins me now for more on this. But, Jeffrey, no matter what Republicans ask for or get, as Durbin noted, and I think most can agree to, nothing the Committee sees in these pre-sentencing reports, which is what it is, is likely to change the way they've already decided to vote on our nomination. So what is this about and why pre-sentencing reports?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Well, it's an attempt to embarrass and further extend the discussion of the sentencing in these child pornography cases, which is the -- which has been the main line of attack against the -- against Judge Jackson. I mean, just for people who don't know how the sentencing system works, the prosecution and defense, you know, prepare memoranda in advance of sentencing.

You know, they give the pre -- they give the judge advice on what the sentence should be. The judge also gets advice from the probation department, which is really a branch of the judiciary which tries to talk about the background of the defendant, gives a somewhat more neutral picture of how the defendant should be sentenced.

That historically has not been made public. That's something that just the judge and the parties usually see. That's what the -- that's what the Republicans want in these cases. I can't imagine that it will be turned over and I even think it's even more unlikely that it would make any difference. These Republicans are going to vote against Judge Jackson. There's no doubt about this. They're just trying to embarrass her further and extend this discussion.

BOLDUAN: So, Jeffrey, there's that, and then there was also a Democratic Senator Cory Booker. I mean, he had a moment himself during yesterday's hearing, which even made the judge herself emotional. She's seen wiping away her tears. Yes, Booker is a Democrat. Yes, he is clearly supporting her nomination. But let me play what he said.


SEN. CORY BOOKER, (D-NJ): For me, I'm sorry, I -- it's hard for me not to look at you and not see my mom. Not to see my cousins, one of them who had to come here and sit behind you. She had to be -- she had to have your back. I see my ancestors in yours. Nobody's going to steal the joy of that woman in the street, or the calls that I'm getting, or the texts. Nobody's going to steal that joy. You have earned this spot. You are worthy. You are a great American. (END VIDEO CLIP)


BOLDUAN: What Booker's also doing there is making sure that despite all the back and forth stuff, and some of it's -- you know, there is some substance somewhere, but that the history isn't lost here. What do you think of that?

TOOBIN: Well, I just -- you know you can get whiplash in many congressional hearings because Democrats and Republicans are so different these days. But this was even more extraordinary because you had the Republicans treating Judge Jackson, like a perp, like a criminal suspect, accusing her of lying.

I mean, really some of the most demeaning questions I -- and questioning I have ever seen in a judicial confirmation hearing. At the same time, Democrats especially Senator Booker, were trying to put Judge Booker -- Judge Jackson in the tradition of, you know, Louis Brandeis, the first Jewish Justice, Thurgood Marshall, the first African American Justice, you know, Sandra Day O'Connor, the first -- the first woman Justice, Sonia Sotomayor, the first Hispanic justice, and now we have assuming confirmation the first black woman.

These are all major figures in American history. And I think that's what Senator Booker was trying to bring the conversation back to just about what this is -- what really was going on here.

BOLDUAN: It's good to see you, Jeffrey. Thank you very much.

TOOBIN: All righty.

BOLDUAN: Thank you all so much for being with us AT THIS HOUR. CNN's breaking news coverage of the series of summits that President Biden is taking part in ongoing, as we speak, continues on INSIDE POLITICS after this quick break.