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Biden: U.S. Will Send More Advanced Missile Systems To Ukraine; Gas Prices Jump To A Record High Of $4.67 A Gallon; Study: Rebound COVID Patients Can Still Transmit Virus To Others. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired June 01, 2022 - 11:30   ET




KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: President Biden announcing that the U.S. will send another round of weapons to Ukraine. This time, including advanced rocket systems that Ukraine has been pleading for. Biden laying it out all out in a New York Times op-ed titled what America will and will not do in Ukraine. CNN's Melissa Bell is live in southeastern Ukraine with much more on this. Melissa, I know that the Secretary of State, Tony Blinken, he just spoke to this just a few moments ago, what did he say?

MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He, really addressing, Kate, some of those concerns that have been coming from the Kremlin, a clear red line that the Kremlin had made clear, it was placed with regard to the range of the multiple launch rocket systems that Ukraine has desperately been pleading for now for some several days because it has seen all along the line from which I'm speaking to you now that separates you -- Russian held Ukraine from the rest of the country.

Russian positions are about 30 miles down the Dnieper River where I am now. They've been desperately pleading for those long-range weapon systems because they feel that the tide of the war has been turning against them. That town of Severodonetsk to the northeast where I'm standing -- to the north where I'm standing, isn't falling even as we speak.

Now, what we've just heard the confirmation from Secretary Blinken that what they are sending here, are the kind of range missiles that can hit targets within 49 miles and nothing more. And that is crucial because it means that they cannot be directed toward those parts of Russia that are within the borders of Russia itself. And that's something that Antony Blinken spoke to specifically a moment ago.


ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Specifically with regard to weapons systems being provided, the Ukrainians have given us assurances that they will not use these systems against targets on Russian territory.

(END VIDEO CLIP) [11:35:10]

BELL: So it is about giving Ukraine what Ukraine needs to fight these battles to win this war, Kate. All the time sending that signal to Moscow, that they are not seeking to escalate in any way that would worry Moscow or allow it to trigger a response, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Yes. It's good to see you, Melissa. Thank you for that. Joining me now for more on this is CNN military analyst, retired General Wesley Clark. He's a former NATO Supreme Allied Commander. It's good to see you, General. First and foremost, can you talk to me about these advanced rocket systems? What can they do and what are their limitations for Ukraine?

WESLEY CLARK, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, they're going to extend the battlespace for Ukraine, so Ukraine can get deeper Russian targets inside Ukraine. Also, so that, these systems can be moved further out of range of Russian artillery. So this is very important. That Ukrainian artillery is still outnumbered more than two to one by the Russian artillery.

And they're fighting a desperate battle to hold on to Donbass. And it's an artillery battle. So these systems will provide a crucial ability to strike accurately against Russian artillery, keep it off the Ukrainian troops, and enable Ukraine to hang on and maybe even regain some of its territory in eastern Ukraine.

BOLDUAN: You heard the secretary of state saying there that it's in -- echoing what the president had said in announcing this as one key to this agreement, it appears was getting assurances from Ukraine, Ukraine wouldn't be using this to fire into Russia -- into Russian territory. What do you think of those assurances?

CLARK: Well, I think they're good assurances. And I think they're appropriate in this case because as your president has said, we're not trying to start a war with Russia. They're making a lot of irresponsible threats to the West, but the United States and NATO are not responding to that. But what we are determined to do is to help Ukraine defend its own territory, maintain its territorial integrity, and be politically independent. That's our obligation under the United Nations Charter and that's the obligation that the United States is fulfilling.

BOLDUAN: The Russian spokesman, they've responded already to this announcement, probably not surprisingly. And the way the Kremlin spokesperson put it was that the U.S. is purposefully and diligently adding fuel to the fire. And this is one thing that the President, Biden, kind of clearly wanted to address, in his opinion piece announcing these new weapons because he was what -- they're very clearly trying to say is they're not trying to, as you're talking about, provoke Russia.

Let me read what he wrote, in part in this opinion piece. We do not seek a war between NATO and Russia. As much as I disagree with Mr. Putin and find his actions an outrage, the United States will not try to bring about his ouster in Moscow. Do you think these new weapons systems heading into Ukraine -- do you think this has a chance of provoking Russia further?

CLARK: Absolutely not. But it's certainly going to be used by Russia in the information war to blame the United States. And then there's nothing new about this. I mean, they blame the United States from the beginning. The target of the information war is Europe and the European public opinion.

But the United States has to lead NATO, it has to have a strong response, and our NATO allies have to come on board and follow the United States' lead in this and this helps them deal with their own public. There's a battle going on for European public opinion. It happens every time with Russia but the president showing the right kind of leadership in holding NATO together and in supporting Ukraine.

BOLDUAN: General, I have heard some suggest that they believe that these weapons heading over now is too little too late at this point in the conflict. What do you think about that?

CLARK: I think it would have been better if we'd had them like a month ago, six weeks ago, I've been saying on CNN for the last six or eight weeks that we're going to read as a critical time. But honestly, the Ukrainians have done a much better job of holding in Donbass than we could have imagined. The trouble, Kate, is they've taken very heavy losses there. How heavy? We don't know but substantial.

You can't stay under that pounding of Russian artillery, even if you have your own artillery shooting back, and not expect to take losses. So these weapons and the other American reinforcement of artillery is absolutely necessary. I wish we could have gotten it there sooner and we have to get this there as soon as possible. But you know, one of the things that held the Biden administration back, of course, is NATO leadership. And we have to coordinate with our allies on every one of these steps. And the real strength of this is NATO.

So, four high more systems getting there, really important, give them right away, but not more important than NATO consensus, and the support of our allies and understanding of our allies in what we're doing thus far. I think the administration has done as much as it could reasonably do at this point, thinking about all the other constraints.


CLARK: Now the question is how quickly can we get them there and will we follow up the initial four with more because we need to keep Ukraine in this fight, they want to regain their territory. And as the president said, there's going to be no pressure from us on Ukraine to negotiate and giveaway ground. Ukraine is going to go as far as it can go. And hopefully, we're there supporting them. They're democratic. They want to be aligned with us. They're fighting NATO's battle which is really important for the United States.

BOLDUAN: It's good to see you, General Thank you very much. Coming up for us, gas prices jumped five cents overnight to a new record high, in California is saying what's the definition of eye- popping numbers, $8 a gallon gas. Details in a live report next.



BOLDUAN: Gas prices once again hitting a new record high. AAA is reporting that the national average for a price of -- for the price of gas jumped five cents overnight to $4.67 a gallon. CNN's Amara Walker is live in Atlanta tracking all of this. A bit of a better price, I guess we could say where you are for unleaded regular, Amara, but what are you hearing about this?

AMARA WALKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's all relative right, Kate? So we're at this Kwik Trip gas station in Atlanta where the price per gallon for unleaded is $4.19. Not bad considering it's quite below the national average, as you've mentioned, which is $4.67 a gallon.

But then you also got to compare it to the same time last year right and prices per gallon for regular gasoline was hovering around the $3 mark. But I did speak to a handful of drivers here at this gas station, we met one woman who said that she has a trip -- a road trip planned to Florida but she's going to cancel it because she simply can't afford these sky-high prices.

Look, there are seven states here in the country, mostly in the western part of the U.S. where the average price per gallon for regular gas is hovering around the $5 mark. California of, course, as usual in a league of its own, the average price per gallon there is $6.19.

And look at this. There's a gas station, a Chevron gas station in LA where it's $8.05 per gallon for unleaded. So a lot of people wondering well, when our price is going to go down, where do we go from here? It all depends on this high demand for gasoline that we're seeing and of course, the war in Ukraine, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Yes. Amara, thank you very much.

Coming up, researchers are now warning that people taking a critical COVID treatment could become infectious again even after they recover from the initial infection. The researcher behind an important new study joins us next.



BOLDUAN: A new study about a critical COVID treatment, researchers taking what could be the first real look at rebound COVID where people treated with Paxlovid get better, and then develop COVID again, days later. One big question is, are these rebound cases infectious? Researchers from the Boston VA Medical Center and Columbia, they find yes. Joining me right now for more on this is Dr. Michael Charness. He's chief of staff at the VA Health Care System in Boston. He's also the lead author on this study. Thank you for being here. Can you talk me through what you found in your study? What's most important here?

DR. MICHAEL CHARNESS, CHIEF OF STAFF, VA BOSTON HEALTHCARE SYSTEM: Sure. I think the most important thing for people to learn is that this is actually something that does happen. And it seems to happen relatively often. How often? We don't know.

What we have seen is that people somewhere around nine to 12 days after they've been diagnosed and treated with Paxlovid begin to experience symptoms, again. Even if they've been symptom-free for as long as a week. And at the same time, that their symptoms come back, their viral load also builds up again to the same levels that they actually had initially. And that really raised concerns that they may become infectious a second time, even though they're now outside the usual window for being able to transmit to others.

BOLDUAN: Yes. Look, this is really important information as we learn more about COVID, about the treatments, and about what we're supposed to do about it. And after all of this, what do you think people should do with this information? They could have rebound COVID, they could be infectious again, should people think twice before taking Paxlovid if they were infected?

CHARNESS: So first, we continue to recognize that Paxlovid has been really remarkable in reducing the progression to severe illness for people who are at risk. And so we don't in any way discourage people from taking it. We simply want them to be aware that if they do take it and their symptoms clear out and then come back again that they shouldn't panic. In most instances, the symptoms have been mild.

The real importance of this as we're looking at it is that we know that the virus now can be cultured, some of our colleagues have done that from people during rebound. We've documented a couple of instances where people have transmitted to others during their rebound.

And so the message really should be that you should restart your isolation clock, even if it's now 10 days, 11 days, or 12 days into a rebound, to protect others from getting infected as you go through the second cycle of virus building up and then coming down again.

BOLDUAN: Look, Doctor, do you have a theory on why this rebound is happening?

CHARNESS: So, there are a lot of theories out there and I think it's really an opportunity to learn more. First is not completely clear to what extent antivirals are responsible for this.


CHARNESS: When Pfizer's data were published by the FDA, they showed that there was some rebound both and people who had never been treated as well as those who had been treated. That was during the Delta era, and we suspect that Omicron may be behaving a little bit differently.

So, some thought is that maybe because Paxlovid works so well, the immune system doesn't get a good look at Omicron and doesn't have the same opportunity to develop immunity as it might if there were no Paxlovid. Now and that (INAUDIBLE) --

BOLDUAN: And what I -- and what I hear here is this is really important information. I'm so sorry. Important information and so much more research are now needed but this is an amazing start. Thank you, Doctor, for your time. I appreciate it.

And thank you all so much for being here today. INSIDE POLITICS with John King starts after a break.