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Biden to Deliver Remarks on U.S. Support for Ukraine; Putin Threatens to Expand War if West Interferes; Biden: "Caving to Aggression ... More Costly" than Supporting Ukraine. Aired 11-11:30a ET
Aired April 28, 2022 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER (voice-over): This is CNN breaking news.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone, I'm Kate Bolduan. We begin with an eye on the White House. We are moments away from hearing from President Biden. The White House saying that the president will be addressing the nation and asking Congress for help.
To do more for Ukraine, the White House needs more from Congress, $33 billion more, military, humanitarian and economic aid for Ukraine. It also, this package the president will be speaking to, will include asking Congress to sign off on liquidating seized assets of Russian oligarchs to help Ukraine.
Also today, new atrocities, this time in the Donetsk region. The U.S. says it has credible information that a Russian military unit executed Ukrainians, who were trying to surrender.
Russia is intensifying its bombardment in the eastern part of the country. At least 27 homes from one village were hit. No word yet on casualties.
The Russian-occupied city of Kherson was also rocked by an explosion overnight. Russia has installed a new local government, saying it will be impossible for Ukrainians to return to control.
The head of the United Nations will be meeting with Ukraine's president today after, of course, he met with Putin just yesterday, as NATO's secretary general offers a new warning that this war could last years. Let's get started with CNN's Scott McLean, who's live in Lviv, Ukraine.
Scott, what's the very latest you're watching there on the ground?
SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Kate. Yes, obviously this statement from the U.S. official to the U.N. yesterday is quite remarkable, accusing the Russians of executing Ukrainian troops, who were trying to surrender.
Obviously that would be a violation of the laws of war, which say that you cannot execute anyone who is incapacitated, injured or in the process of surrendering. We have to treat this with a little bit of caution, because we have reached out to the State Department for specifics.
They say this happened in Donetsk but can't say specifically where, when or point us to any piece of evidence, on record, off record, anything like that. So we still don't have much of any information as to what specifically exactly they're referring to there.
You mentioned the situation in Kherson and that new video authenticated by CNN, showing that midair explosion. Kate, the Russian state media says that the Ukrainians fired three missiles into the city.
They say, again Russian state media, that two of them were shot down, one of them struck that area, where that broadcast facility was located, taking the Russian channels off the air.
One other interesting point from Kherson is the fact that the Russians are now in control of the local government there. And they have announced that, starting on Sunday, they'll begin a transitional period, where they will accept the Russian ruble as legal tender in hopes of phasing out the Ukrainian currency over time.
Now we're also waiting for word from Antonio Guterres, the U.N. secretary general, who is supposed to be meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy today. And he is hoping to get something tangible out of this meeting.
Specifically one of those things is getting some kind of an agreement on Mariupol and how exactly they might be able to get people out of that city, especially those who are stuck underneath that sprawling steel plant, where local officials in that area, local military officials say that some of the strongest, some of the heaviest bombing took place overnight, 50 different strikes on that facility.
Now CNN not able to verify those. The trouble that Guterres is running into is getting two sides that are at war to come to agreement on the very specifics. Here's what he said. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANTONIO GUTERRES, UNITED NATIONS SECRETARY-GENERAL: At the present moment, they are being discussed in Moscow between the ministry of defense and our people. We are also in contract with the government of Ukraine to see if we can have a situation, in which nobody can blame the other side for things not happening.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MCLEAN: You know, oftentimes finger pointing after the fact is for very good reason but this is something that the Red Cross, which is a neutral party, has really struggled with, struggling to get these parties to not just agree in principle but agree on the fine details to actually make it happen on the ground in practice, Kate.
BOLDUAN: Scott, thank you so much.
Now to Moscow and a new warning from Vladimir Putin. Russia's leader is threatening to expand his unprovoked war if the West, in his view, interferes in Ukraine. Now CNN's Clare Sebastian is watching this live in London.
BOLDUAN: Clare, how is the threat from Putin being interpreted at this point?
CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's clear, Kate, that he is striking an increasingly adversarial tone. He said that there would be a lightning-fast response to any foreign interference in Ukraine.
He said, cryptically, we have all the tools for this, ones that no one can brag about. And we won't brag, we will use them if needed and I want everyone to know this. So there's speculation that, as he has in the past during this conflict, he was alluding to Russia's nuclear arsenal.
This increasingly adversarial tone comes as Russia is spread very thin in its fight for the Donbas and as it tries to take control of the south of Ukraine along the Black Sea as well. That, of course, as the Ukrainian army is constantly replenished by more and more arms from the West, something that we know that Moscow finds very concerning.
But, Kate, I want to bring you some other breaking news this hour that we're monitoring here in the U.K. A spokesperson for the U.K. foreign office telling us that a British national has been killed in Ukraine and they are urgently seeking information on another British national missing.
We don't know the circumstances or exactly where. But we know in both cases they are working with the families and urgently seeking information on that one who is missing.
BOLDUAN: Absolutely. Much more to come on that. Clare, thank you for bringing that to us, I appreciate it.
Let's go Washington now, where, as we are waiting and watching, right there, President Biden will soon be delivering remarks on Ukraine, updating the nation on the U.S. efforts to support Ukraine and also talking about a huge new package that he is sending to Congress for approval.
CNN's Arlette Saenz is live at the White House as we are standing by.
Arlette, what are you learning about what the president will be asking for?
ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Any minute now, we expect to hear President Biden outline the types of funding that he wants to see Congress provide, to ensure that the Ukrainians have the support they need to defend themselves. The president is expected to outline a package totaling $33 million,
that senior administration officials say they expect to last for the next five months of the war, as it is beginning to enter a different phase.
To take a look at what exactly the breakdown of this is, this will include $20.4 billion in military assistance. You can see outlined exactly where some of that money will be going.
This will also replenish some of the stockpiles and what the U.S. has already sent over to Ukraine, as well as backfill some of the contributions that have been made by other countries.
Additionally, there will be $8.5 billion in economic assistance for the government of Ukraine as well as $3 billion for humanitarian and food security, to address things like wheat and other commodities that have seen a shortage globally due to this war.
Now the president is also expected to outline another request for Congress to pass legislation that would make it easier to seize the assets of sanctioned Russian oligarchs and then use and liquidate those assets to then help support the Ukrainians, as they continue to defend themselves.
So the president trying to outline further ways that the U.S. can support Ukraine, as this battle and this war still wages on.
BOLDUAN: Arlette, thank you so much.
The president, as she laid out, the president is going to also be laying out this request.
But the big question now very quickly turns to Congress, which is, will bipartisan support for Ukraine, which we have seen so far, will it extend to approving this huge package of assistance now?
CNN's Lauren Fox is on the Hill for us as we're standing by to hear from the president.
Lauren, what are you hearing about this?
LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, for weeks, Republicans and Democrats have been calling for Congress to do more to help Ukraine.
But now the question is, is this total going to be too much for Republicans or not?
I just talked to Richard Blumenthal, who's on the Foreign Relations Committee, and he told me this is an opportunity for Republicans now to put their money where their mouth has been in terms of wanting to help Ukraine; $33 billion is a lot of money.
The other big question is going to be what vehicle to this move on, because Congress has just a couple of weeks here in Washington. There's a lot to do. They need to pass COVID-19 relief funding.
So the question becomes how quickly can they move on this $33 billion in funding?
Right now that path is still to be determined. But there will be meetings among leaders and appropriators to determine how to move it in a fast way.
BOLDUAN: Lauren, thank you so much.
Joining me now is retired Air Force Colonel Cedric Leighton and global affairs analyst Kimberly Dozier.
Colonel, what do you think of this -- Arlette Saenz is back with us.
Colonel, what do you think of this package that he's going to be asking for?
COL. CEDRIC LEIGHTON (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: So I think it's a huge amount, certainly, Kate. But I think it's very necessary, given the way in which this war has unfolded -- $20 billion, $20.4 billion.
LEIGHTON: As Arlette mentioned, for the military, that can buy a whole lot of weapons systems and it can also buy the architectures that are needed for command and control and intelligence dissemination, the communications infrastructure.
And it can also help with logistics infrastructure because Ukraine will need that kind of help, as railroads and roads are being targeted by the Russians. So this is definitely a long-term commitment by the president to do this.
And I think this is also something that shows that the United States is trying to pull along its NATO partners into this as well. So if the United States makes such a big commitment, I think the hope here is that they will follow that with a NATO commitment as well.
BOLDUAN: Arlette, as you were laying out the details of this, does this, among other things, signal in a very real way that Biden does not believe this conflict is going to be ending anytime soon?
SAENZ: You've heard administration officials say they believe this is going to be a protracted long battle. As they were telling us about this package earlier today, they said this is something that they expect could carry on for months.
So the White House and President Biden are trying to ensure up front that they have the funding necessary to continue to help the Ukrainians defend themselves.
Also, one thing that senior administration officials told reporters today is that they also expect that allies and partners will be making comparable contributions to Ukraine as the United States is laying out this package. So we will see if there will be any further announcements.
But you have certainly seen, both from the U.S. and allies as well, this uptick in the heavy weaponry, more sophisticated weaponry going into Ukraine, as the dynamics of this battle have changed in the eastern part of the country.
With this request, President Biden is trying to ensure that they're going to have the funds that he can tap into, to continue to send those supplies into Ukraine, as they see this unrelenting war continue to play out.
BOLDUAN: And, Kim, this from the American side, right?
The NATO secretary general is also making clear today that this war will be long. Let me play what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JENS STOLTENBERG, NATO SECRETARY GENERAL: We need to be prepared for the long term. It's a very unpredictable and fragile situation in Ukraine but there's absolutely the possibility that this war will drag on and last for months and years.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: If that's the case, what does that mean for Europe, Kim?
KIMBERLY DOZIER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Kate, I think what we're seeing is a recalibration of the whole strategy since that meeting this week of the 40 partners and allies.
And we got a bit of a preview of it, with the British foreign secretary speaking just last night, saying that we have to do more than just help Ukraine survive this fight. They need to take back all the territory that the Russians have taken. That seems to indicate even Crimea.
In order to do that, it is easier to defend territory that you have than to attack and take territory. Every military analyst I've spoken to has explained that.
So the Ukrainians are going to need different types of weapons, a longer fight, different strategies and tactics in order to claw territory back from the Russians. It's as if Europe, the U.S., they have all realized that --
BOLDUAN: Kim, I'm just going to jump in real quick. The president has now walked in and is beginning his remarks to update the nation on Ukraine. Let's listen.
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: -- to help Ukraine continue to counter Putin's aggression and -- at a very pivotal moment. We need this bill to support Ukraine in its fight for freedom. And our NATO allies, our EU partners -- they're going to pay their fair share of the costs as well but we have to do this. We have to do our part as well, leading the Alliance.
The cost of this fight is not cheap but caving to aggression is going to be more costly if we allow it to happen.
We either back the Ukrainian people as they defend their country or we stand by as the Russians continue their atrocities and aggression in Ukraine.
Every day -- every day, the Ukrainians pay for the -- a price with -- and the price they pay is with their lives for this fight.
So we need to contribute arms, funding, ammunition and the economic support to make their courage and sacrifice have purpose so they can continue this fight and do what they're doing.
It's critical this funding gets approved and approved as quickly as possible.
You know, long before Russia lost -- launched its brutal invasion, I made clear how the United States would respond. I predicted they would invade and they surely did.
We said we'd not send U.S. troops to fight Russian troops in Ukraine.
BIDEN: But we would provide robust military assistance and try to unify the Western world against Russia's aggression.
I said I would impose powerful sanctions on Russia and that we'd destroy and develop -- we'd destroy this myth that somehow they could continue to move without the rest of the world acting; that we'd deploy additional forces to defend NATO territory, particularly in the east, along the Russian and Belarus borders.
That's exactly -- that's exactly what we said we would do and we did.
But despite the disturbing rhetoric coming out of the Kremlin, the facts are plain for everybody to see. We're not attacking Russia; we're helping Ukraine defend itself against Russian aggression.
And just as Putin chose to launch this brutal invasion, he could make the choice to end this brutal invasion.
Russia is the aggressor. No if ands or buts about it. Russia is the aggressor. And the world must and will hold Russia accountable.
Russia's continued assault on -- is yielding immense human costs.
We've seen -- we've seen them leave behind horrifying evidence of their atrocities and war crimes in the areas they tried to control.
And as long as the assaults and atrocities continue, we're going to continue to supply military assistance.
And I might note, parenthetically: You know, there's a dinner this weekend to celebrate the press. Think of what the American press has done -- the courage it has taken to stay in these warzones, the courage it has taken to report every single day.
I've always had respect for the press but I can't tell you how much respect I have watching them in these zones where they're under fire, risking their own lives to make sure the world hears the truth.
Imagine if we weren't getting that information. It'd be a different world. It'd be a different circumstance.
In the past two months, Russia launched its brutal attack and has moved weapons and equipment to Ukraine at -- we've moved -- we've moved weapons and equipment to Ukraine at record speed.
Thanks to the aid we've provided, Russian forces have been forced to retreat from Kyiv. It doesn't mean they're not going to try to come back but they've retreated thus far.
We've sent thousands of anti-armor, anti-air missiles, helicopters, drones, grenade launchers, machine guns, rifles, radar systems, more than 50 million rounds of ammunition. The United States alone has provided 10 anti-armor systems for every Russian tank that is in Ukraine -- 10 to 1.
We're providing Ukraine significant, timely intelligence to help them defend themselves against the Russian onslaught.
And we're facilitating a significant flow of weapons and systems to Ukraine from our allies and partners around the world, including tanks, artillery and other weapons.
That support is moving with unprecedented speed.
Much of the new equipment we've announced in the past two weeks has already gotten to Ukraine, where it can be put to direct use on the battlefield.
However, we have almost exhausted what we call -- the fancy phrase -- the "drawdown authority" that Congress authorized Ukraine -- authorized for Ukraine in a bipartisan spending bill last month. Basically, we're out of money.
And so, that's why today, in order to sustain Ukraine as it continues to fight, I'm sending Congress a supplemental budget request.
It's going to keep weapons and ammunition flowing without interruption to the brave Ukrainian fighters and continue delivering economic and humanitarian assistance to the Ukrainian people.
This so-called supplemental funding addresses the needs of the Ukrainian military during the crucial weeks and months ahead. And it begins -- it begins to transition to longer-term security assistance that's going to help Ukraine deter and continue to defend against Russian aggression.
This assistance would provide even more artillery, armored vehicles, anti-armor systems, anti-air capabilities that have been used so effectively thus far on the battlefield by the Ukrainian warriors.
You know and it's going to deliver much-needed humanitarian assistance as well as food, water, medicines, shelter and other aid to Ukrainians displaced by Russia's war and provide aid to those seeking refuge in other countries from Ukraine.
It's also going to help schools and hospitals open. It's going to allow pensions and social support to be paid to the Ukrainian people so they have something -- something -- in their pocket. It's also going to provide critical resources to address food shortages around the globe.
Ukraine -- Ukraine was one of the world's largest agriculture producers. It typically grows 10 percent of all the wheat that's shipped around the world.
Putin has asserted sanctions are blocking food from Ukraine and Russia getting on the market -- the sanctions we've imposed on Russia. Simply not true.
BIDEN: Putin's war, not sanctions, are impacting the harvest of food and disrupting the movement of that food by land and sea to nations around the globe that need it.
This funding is going to help ease rising food prices at home as well and abroad, caused by Russia's war in Ukraine.
It's going to help support American farmers produce more crops like wheat and oilseed, which is good for rural America, good for the American consumer and good for the world.
And this supplemental request will use the Defense Production Act to expand domestic production and reserve -- and the reserve of critical materials, materials like nickel and lithium that have been disrupted by Putin's war in Ukraine and that are necessary to make everything from defense systems to automobiles.
And I hope Congress -- I hope Congress will move on this funding quickly. I believe they will.
I want to thank Congress -- Democrats and Republicans -- for their support of the people of Ukraine.
And next week, I will be in Alabama to visit a Lockheed Martin plant that manufactures the Javelin anti-tank missile we've been sending to Ukraine and to thank the American workers -- thank them -- for producing the weapons that helped stop Russia's advances in Ukrainian cities like Kyiv.
Their hard work has played a critical role in ensuring Putin's strategic failure in Ukraine and they should know that we know it.
In addition to this supplemental funding, I'm also sending to Congress a comprehensive package of -- that will enhance our underlying effort to accommodate the Russian oligarchs and make sure we take their -- take their ill-begotten gains. Ha, we're going to accommodate them.
We're going to seize their yachts, their luxury homes and other ill- begotten gains of Putin's -- yes -- kleptocracy and -- the guys who are the kleptocracies.
But these are bad guys.
This legislative package strengthens our law enforcement capabilities to seize property linked to Russia's kleptocracy.
It's going to create new, expedited procedures for forfeiture and seizure of these -- of these properties. And it's going to ensure that when the oligarchs' assets are sold off, funds can be used directly to remedy the harm Russia caused in their help -- and help build Ukraine.
Additionally, yesterday, Russia threatened two of our allies with a cut-off of energy supplies.
While America has ended all Russian fossil fuel imports because we are able to use our vast support -- supply of power in our country, some European countries have faced more challenges in reducing their reliance on Russian fuel.
Russia has long claimed to be, quote, "the reliable source of energy" for the world. No matter what the differences are, their customers are always going to be in good shape.
But these actions prove that energy is not just a commodity that Russia sells to help meet other countries' needs but a weapon it will use to deploy against those who stand against their aggression.
So let me be clear: We will not let Russia intimidate or blackmail their way out of these sanctions. We will not allow them to use their oil and gas to avoid consequences for their aggression.
We're working with other nations -- like Korea, Japan, Qatar and others -- to support our effort to help the European allies threatened by Russia with gas blackmail and their energy needs in other ways.
Aggression will not win. Threats will not win.
This is just another reminder of the imperative for Europe and the world to move more and more of our power needs to clean energy.
In the United States, we're doing that right now. Last year, we developed more solar, wind and battery storage than any year in our history -- enough to power 56 million American homes.
Earlier this month, we acted to bolster the reliance on our nuclear energy facilities, which generates more than half of our carbon-free power. And we're just getting started. I look at this as a serious problem but also an enormous opportunity -- an opportunity.
Bottom line, all these actions we've been taking are about the truth -- this truth: investing in Ukraine's freedom and security is a small price to pay to punish Russian aggression, to lessen the risk of future conflicts.
You know, throughout our history, we've learned that when dictators do not pay the price for their aggression, they cause more chaos and engage in more aggression. They keep moving. And the costs, the threats to America and the world keep rising.
We can't let this happen.
Our unity at home, our unity with our allies and partners and our unity with the Ukrainian people is sending an unmistakable message to Putin:
BIDEN: -- you will never succeed in dominating Ukraine.
Finally, we're going to continue to deliver critical support to Ukraine. We must also not let our guard down in our fight against COVID-19 at home and abroad. That's why I'm, again, urging Congress to act on my request for $22.5 billion in emergency resources so the American people can continue to protect themselves from COVID-19.
The reason we were so successful in the past is because I was able to work with drug manufacturers to order significant quantities of material we needed ahead of time to get in the front of the line.
Without additional funding, we can't preorder the amount of vaccines we need and we risk losing our spot in line for vaccines that target multiple variants.
We're running out of supply for therapeutics, like antiviral pills that we desperately need.
Without additional funding, we're unable to purchase the lifesaving treatment for the American people. We've donated more vaccines and treatments to the world than all other nations in the world combined. If the U.S. won't do it, no one else is really going to step up and do it.
Without additional funding, the United States won't be able to help stop the spread around the world and close off ongoing sources of the supply chain disruptions.
Look, let's get both of these critical tasks done. No delays, no excuses, just action now. Now.
Thank you all. Thank you.
QUESTION: Mr. President, what's your message to refugees on -- QUESTION: Mr. President, how worried are you -- how worried are you by -- go ahead. No, you go.
BIDEN: Watch your head, man. You're going to get hurt. He's turning that camera.
QUESTION: I'm in a tight spot here, Mr. President.
QUESTION: He's a gentleman. Mr. President, I wanted to ask what your message is to Ukrainian refugees on the southwest border and those that are trying to flee Ukraine from the violence.
BIDEN: We have made a direct means by which they can get from Europe, from Ukraine, directly to the United States, without going through the southern border. In the meantime, in the southern border, we're trying to work through and make sure they -- it's an orderly process, they're able to get in.
But just so you know, we have said there's no need to go to the southern border; fly directly to the United States. We set up a mechanism whereby they can come directly with a visa.
QUESTION: Mr. President, thank you. How worried are you by a growing number of Russian comments in the media and amongst some of their officials painting this conflict as actually already a conflict between NATO, the U.S. and Russia?
And they're painting in very alarmist terms, talking of nuclear weapons, saying it's a life-or-death struggle, et cetera.
And just separately -- well, connected to that: Lavrov himself self says it's already a proxy war -- not a direct war but a proxy war. So are either of those two things true?
And do they worry you, those things?
BIDEN: They're not true. They do concern me because it shows the desperation that Russia is feeling about their abject failure in being able to do what they set out to do in the first instance.
And so, it -- I think it's more of a reflection not of the truth but of their failure. And so, instead of saying that the Ukrainians, equipped with some capability to resist Russian forces, are doing this, they've got to say -- tell their people the United States and all of NATO is engaged in taking out Russian troops and tanks, et cetera.
So it's -- number one, it's an excuse for their failure. But number two, it's also, if they really mean it, it's -- no one should be making idle comments about the use of nuclear weapons or the possibility that they'd use that. It's irresponsible.
QUESTION: Mr. President, back on the border, Title 42. A number of your Democratic friends are pressuring the White House to maintain that policy.
Can you give us a straight answer on whether you're going to -- whether you're going to heed that request or you're going to get rid of it?
BIDEN: I can give you a straight answer. We had proposed to eliminate that policy by the end of May. The court has said we can't so far. And what the court says, we're going to do. The court could come along and say we cannot do that and that's it.
QUESTION: Mr. President, you say that this is not a proxy war but Russia clearly disagrees. They say that war means war. So how concerned are you that they may start to act accordingly, even if you disagree?
BIDEN: We are prepared for whatever they do.
QUESTION: What options do you have to ensure Poland and Bulgaria have sufficient supplies of gas?
BIDEN: First of all, as you know, Poland has indicated they have significant reserves of gas that they have planned for, as does -- not as much but as does Bulgaria.
And we have worked with our allies, from Japan on, to say that we may divert our sale of the natural gas that we're sending to those countries.