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The Lead with Jake Tapper
Biden Makes Unprecedented Trip To Ukrainian Capital; Pro- Russian Military Bloggers Criticize Moscow Over Biden Kyiv Trip; Officials: Air Quality, Water Tests Show No Detection Of Contaminants Above Safe Limit; What To Do If Your Child Has A Fever; Thousands Fled Russia After Putin Imposed A Military Draft. Aired 4-5p ET
Aired February 20, 2023 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: President Biden is first U.S. leader in modern history to visit an active war zone without American troops on the ground.
THE LEAD starts right now.
President Biden's surprise trip to Ukraine just days ahead of the anniversary of the Russian invasion. How did the White House pull it off?
Plus, the new promise the president is making while some Republicans chastise him for going.
Russian families on the run from the brutal war, ending up at the U.S. southern border. What one family went through to escape?
And the murder of a Catholic bishop known as a peacemaker with a heart for the poor, found dead in his California home. The new details just coming in this case.
BERMAN: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm John Berman, in for Jake Tapper.
And we start today in our world lead.
Moments ago, President Biden arrived back in Poland after his unannounced trip to Ukraine earlier today. The president visited the country's capital of Kyiv and stood side by side with Ukrainian President Zelenskyy, where Biden declared Putin's war of conquest is failing, as the war nears its one year mark.
Now, it is unprecedented in modern history for U.S. president to visit an active war zone without U.S. troops present. But Biden said his trip was important, to reaffirm unwavering U.S. support for Ukraine.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: One year ago, the world was literally at the time bracing for the fall of Kyiv. The Americans stand with you and the world stands with you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: As part of the trip, President Biden announced another half billion dollars in new assistance for Ukraine, including more military equipment. He also said more sanctions will be imposed on Moscow later this week.
Let's start with our coverage this afternoon with CNN's Phil Mattingly in the Polish capital of Warsaw, on the significance of this dramatic visit.
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For President Biden, a dramatic moment months in the making.
BIDEN: One year later, Kyiv stands. And Ukraine stands. Democracy stands.
MATTINGLY: To mark the resilience of a nation and U.S. support after more than 361 treacherous and deadly days of war. The first U.S. president to travel to a war zone where U.S. troops were not deployed and did not control the airspace.
The acute risks punctuate as the two leaders walk on the streets of Kyiv.
BIDEN: I thought it is critical that there not be any doubt, none whatsoever about U.S. support to Ukraine, in the war against the brutal attack by Russia.
MATTINGLY: Coming after 24 hours of closely held secrecy, which followed intensive security precautions. Biden had quietly pressed advisers for a trip to war-torn Ukraine for months, sources said. Only to be rebuffed due to security concerns.
BIDEN: They will not let me, understandably I guess, cross the border to take a look at what's going on in -- in Ukraine.
MATTINGLY: That changed late last year, as we look to the one year mark of Russia's invasion, testing a small group of White House, Pentagon, and Secret Service officials, to put together a trip with no historic precedent.
AMANDA SLOAT, NSC SENIOR DIRECTOR FOR EUROPE: The president ultimately decided it was a calculated risk and one that he was prepared to take.
MATTINGLY: Departing in the cover of darkness, at 4:15 a.m. on Sunday morning, accompanied with just a handful of advisers, two reporters on the trip were required to turn over their electronic devices. They flew to Poland, where they boarded a train for the roughly ten-hour trip to Kyiv. U.S. air assets, deployed at the Poland and Ukraine border to keep watch, officials said. SLOAT: We did send notification to the Russian several hours before
the president left, primarily for deconfliction purposes.
MATTINGLY: And while the Russian response was not characterized, Biden's message to Russian President Vladimir unequivocal.
BIDEN: Putin thought Ukraine was weak. And the West was divided. He's just plain wrong.
MATTINGLY: Biden arrived in Kyiv -- the massive convoy sitting off a stream of social media chatter in a city that have been completely locked down, without explanation. Thirty minutes later, he stepped out of a white SUV, to greet President Zelenskyy and the Ukrainian first lady.
Biden pledged another $500 million in assistance, as Zelenskyy, again, raised the issue of more advanced weapon systems the U.S. has not yet agreed to send.
VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): We have also talked about long-range weapons, and weapons that may still be supplied to Ukraine, even though it wasn't supplied before.
MATTINGLY: For two leaders, critical decisions to come, but one unmistakable message to the world.
BIDEN: Remind us that freedom is priceless. It is worth fighting for, for as long as it takes. And that's how long we are going to be with you, Mr. President, for as long as it takes.
MATTINGLY (on camera): Well, John, the president is on his way to Warsaw now, where he is expected to give a speech that was supposed to be the centerpiece of the trip, before we knew he was headed to Kyiv. That will be a critical speech from the president, not just because the message he wants to lay out to the public here in Poland, but also to the entire world, but also because it will follow an address by President Vladimir Putin, a highly anticipated address, just a few hours before in Moscow -- John.
BERMAN: Yeah. Those side by side speeches, almost side by side, it will be fascinating to watch.
Phil Mattingly in Warsaw, thank you so much for that report.
We want to go now to CNN chief international correspondent, Clarissa Ward, who is in Kyiv.
Clarissa, so how is this visit -- the president's unprecedented visit playing among Ukrainians?
CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think it's been overwhelmingly positive. The response that we have seen so far, you saw a lot of local Kyiv residents pouring to square behind me, where you saw President Biden walking around with President Zelenskyy. They were posing for photographs.
We spoke to one woman who said, wow, it is amazing. The big boss came to town. And I think there is a genuine hope that this is an important signal that the U.S. is going to continue to stand in lockstep with Ukrainian people at a really very challenging moment in this war.
Take a listen to what a couple of residents had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TANYA, UKRAINIAN CITIZEN: It's good news because the world will hear about Ukraine, and not forget that we have a war, and we suffer a different -- a difficult time here.
ANATOLIY, UKRAINIAN CITIZEN: The support for us, and a message for the Russians that this issue must be dissolved. And Ukraine must win. We hope that this visit will speed up events.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WARD: And this is something you heard a lot as well, John. We hope this will speed things up a little bit, talking predominantly about weaponry, particularly some of the heavier weaponry that Ukraine has been asking for consistently, which the U.S. has not indicated it is yet willing to comply with, John.
BERMAN: You know, just that point, Clarissa. There is symbolism, and there is stuff. The Ukrainians want stuff, particularly now, F-16 fighter jets. So does this trip by President Biden give Zelenskyy more hope that maybe those F-16s could be coming.
WARD: Well, there is nothing that we've heard from that White House that would indicate that that is forthcoming. But we did hear President Zelenskyy say earlier that this conversation had brought Ukraine one step closer to victory.
Then, we also heard from the chief of staff, of the office of the presidency, Andriy Yermak. He said, quote, that a lot of issues are being resolved, and those that were stuck are being sped up. It's not clear if that's a reference to fighter jets, long range artillery is another thing they want.
We know that the Brits had talked potentially supplying fighter jets, or at least starting the process of training Ukrainian pilots up on some of these fighter jets. But they later went back and qualified that by saying it could take years, and that is the vital factor in all this, John. It takes a long time. And that's, you know, sadly, the Ukrainians are not in a position right now where they have a long time. They need that weaponry. They say now, in order to try to gain more offensive on the battlefield.
BERMAN: Yeah, in some cases, they needed it yesterday.
Clarissa Ward in Kyiv, great to see you. Thank you so much. With me now is Democratic congressman, Gregory Meeks, of New York. He
is the ranking member on the Foreign Affairs Committee.
Congressman, thank you so much.
You heard Phil Mattingly report on the security risks surrounding this trip. This unprecedented trip by President Biden to Ukraine. Why do you think the trip was worth it?
REP. GREGORY MEEKS (D-NY): I think it's important because he's letting the Ukrainian people know that the United States cannot support Ukraine. It will continue, along with our allies. I know that trip very well, having done the same trip, one of the first members of Congress with then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi, to travel, to make that same trip that he did. Because it is important to make sure the Ukrainian people and the world know, and Vladimir Putin knows, that we are together in this, and we will not stop until Putin begins to pull back and stop his reckless and, I think, criminal actions in Ukraine.
BERMAN: Now, CNN is reporting that this trip is causing fury in Russia's pro-military circles. It is sort of seen as upstaging Putin on the eve of a major address he is set to give.
Should the U.S. be worried about possible backlash from Russia?
MEEKS: We are not worried about that with Russia. You know, I think that what needs to happen is the United States, led by President Biden, and our allies are standing up. No one thought, particularly Putin, that the world would stay unified.
I think that it's time that Joe Biden receive the credit that he's due. Where we are now is because he has led. He has not led by America going alone. He has led by making sure he kept all of our allies together, and that Ukraine is getting the resources that it needs, and we continue to intensify and in.
You know, we are making sure, like, for example, I'm proud that -- and applaud the additional artillery and ammunition that the president has pledged, and the anti-armor systems that they're using so effectively in the battlefield, and the air civilian radar, which is extremely important.
So we continue to move collectively, together. That is key, that we're doing it together, with our allies. It's not the United States, I'm tired of hearing people, that the United States should do this by themselves. We would not be where we are today if President Joseph Biden had not worked together to lead a real coalition of our allies together.
BERMAN: Look, you mentioned some criticism. And today, several House Republicans criticize the president for this trip.
Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene tweeted, today on our Presidents' Day, Joe Biden, the president of the United States, chose Ukraine over America. Congressman Scott Perry wrote: Breathtaking that President Biden can show up in Ukraine to ensure their border is secure, but can't do the same for America. Congressman Greg Murphy wrote: So it takes two years for Joe Biden to visit the war zone he created at our southern border, but then he goes to see another war zone he created in Ukraine.
What do you say to these members, your colleagues?
MEEKS: Look, those are MAGA extremists who have basically helped to hold hostage, to a large degree, the speaker of the United States Congress. And Speaker McCarthy, it is his job to rein in his folks, because overwhelmingly, the American people understand how significant and important of us standing and continued to fund and give the weapons that are necessary to the Ukrainian people, so that they can win, so that the invasion of the sovereign province -- sovereign property, sovereign country, like what Putin has done, does not continue. And democracy thrives, and lives.
So I think that Speaker McCarthy needs to give his extremists in order. The American people, by and large, our allies around the world, we are all together. It is the extreme Republicans are out of step with where the rest of the world is.
BERMAN: Yesterday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the United States is concerned that China is considering providing, this is what he said, quote, lethal support to Russia.
So, if China did do that, how do you think the Biden administration should respond?
MEEKS: Well, there would be severe consequences, there's no question about that. And those plans have been talked about. Clearly, we are not going to indicate what those plans are, so that China knows what they are.
But I will tell you that it's significant and important again in the way the president has led here, because we also work closely with our allies in that region. And it would seem to me that what we would do is to make sure that the way we continue to punish China, is to make sure that the rest of the world is together, so that China has no other place to go -- nowhere else to go.
And so, there is another trip that I made along with former Speaker Pelosi to that region, where we met with the South Koreans, and the Japanese, and the Malaysians, and those in Singapore, all of who are next door to China. And if we are all working together in the same way that we are doing in Europe, then I think that China and their economy would have extreme consequences.
And that is the appropriate way for us to operate multilateral scenarios, working and meeting a real delegation of nations, together, so that those oppressive nations, those authoritarian countries will not prevail. But those that are democratic, that believes in democracy, that we stand together. And then I think that you will see that the good -- democracy will stand over authoritarianism.
BERMAN: Congressman Gregory Meeks, ranking member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, thank you so much for being with us.
MEEKS: Thank you for having me.
BERMAN: Next, how Biden's trip to train is being received in Russia. CNN is in Moscow and we'll have that reaction.
Also ahead, the results coming in from air and water quality test after the train derailment in Ohio. Can the outcome ease growing health concerns?
A warning from pediatricians to parents who maybe quick to give their children a medication for a fever.
BERMAN: Back now with our world lead. President Biden's unannounced trip to Ukraine is not going over well with certain circles inside Russia. Pro-military bloggers and journalists are angry and embarrassed, criticizing the Kremlin for not being able to stop the visit. This pile is more pressure on to Russian President Vladimir Putin who will try to justify his actions in a national address tomorrow.
CNN's Fred Pleitgen is in Moscow.
Fred, give us more of a sense of how Russia is reacting to President Biden's visit.
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, hi there, John.
And you're right. I mean, these military bloggers, the hard-line military bloggers, they have become really prominent as this war has been going on. And you're absolutely right, there are some who are saying this is an embarrassment for Vladimir Putin, it showed weakness on the part of Vladimir Putin, that the U.S. president can essentially go into a place where the Russians say they can strike at will and just meet President Vladimir Zelenskyy on the ground there in Kyiv.
But there's also a lot of other Russian politicians and people in Russian media who are saying that essentially because of the fact that the U.S. itself has said that they notified, the Russians before President Biden came there to avoid any miscalculations as the U.S. said. It shows that essentially Vladimir Putin allowed President Biden to come there.
One of the people who said that is the former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev who is also the deputy head of Russia's Security Council.
I want to read you some of what he said. This is a quote: Biden received security guarantees in advance finally went to Kyiv, and here, it is important to note that the West already delivers weapons and money to Kyiv quite regularly, in huge quantities allowing the military industrial complex of NATO countries to earn money and steal weapons to sell the terrorists around the world.
Dmitry Medvedev, who has, you know, become pretty hard lines himself over the past couple of months. However, this is one of the narratives we've been seeing the Kremlin push they are trying to portray all of this as something where they say they're not in war with Ukraine, but essentially in a war with the West, with giving weapons to Ukraine. One thing we'll also probably hear in Vladimir Putin's speech tomorrow as well, John.
BERMAN: We will be listening. Fred Pleitgen in Moscow, thank you very much.
With me now is Beth Sanner, CNN national security analyst and former deputy director of intelligence, and retired U.S. Air Force Colonel Cedric Leighton. He is also a CNN military analyst.
Beth, first to you. Put this into context for us. How big of a deal was it for President Biden to make this trip happen?
BETH SANNER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I think it's a big deal. You know, this is the first time in modern history that a U.S. president has gone to a war zone but hasn't been controlled by the U.S. military. It was a big deal in terms of logistically and taking the risk going there.
I think symbolically, it is huge. It's huge for two reasons. One, this is about solidifying and making sure that the alliance holds together. That the U.S. and our allies keep supporting Ukraine, and they need to do these bold moves in order to do that.
And then, secondly, I think it's just this real juxtaposition with us versus Russia, which you and Fred were just talking about. And with Putin speech tomorrow and Biden speech tomorrow, we're really starting to see this kind of firming up of this looking more like the U.S.- Russia war.
BERMAN: Colonel Leighton, Beth just talked about the symbolism here. There is also some new military assistance. But as far as we know, it does not include the item at the top of Ukraine specialist right now, which is fighter jets. Should the U.S. be sending Ukraine fighter jets?
CEDRIC LEIGHTON, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Yeah, John, at this point I think we should. But, we should have had the planning in progress for doing something like this for many months now. Ideally, it would've been two months into this war when we realized that the Ukrainians were going to stand fast and they're going to hold territory and then regain territory.
Since we haven't done that now is a good time as any to catch up and to provide the training that Ukrainian pilots will need. The short answer is, yes, two planes like the F-16 and also yes to longer range missiles. BERMAN: Beth, we were just talking about the military bloggers inside
Russia criticizing Russia for allowing, for lack of a better word, this trip to happen. You are talking about Putin speech tomorrow also. How do you think all of this might affect Putin speech?
SANNER: Well, I think he's going through speech right now, overnight with a red pen. He's going to make all that language even tougher, even more about this being a fight, an existential fight between Russia and the U.S. I also expect that there is a high potential that we'll see another kind of missile barrage attacking Kyiv because these folks on his right flank, on Putin's right flank are really upset. It was all over the Russian TV today. Pictures of Biden and Zelenskyy hugging and walking around, it is infuriating them. I think Putin has to show that he is their tough guy.
BERMAN: Colonel, to that, point I was in Lviv, in Ukraine last March when President Biden was speaking over the border in Poland. Russia conducted airstrikes right before President Biden was set to speak. And you had the sense they did it so that all the cameras that we were using could see their airstrikes.
How concerned should the U.S., should Ukraine be that this visit might prompt more Russian aggression?
LEIGHTON: I think we should be quite concerned. I think it's really very likely, as Beth mentioned that they will start to do something like this.
You know, they have a tendency to be very symbolic in their actions and their military actions tend to be more symbolically oriented anyways than ours do. It becomes a clear imperative for the Ukrainians to be prepared for something like this, and to also prepare their population that these attacks on the infrastructure and other military installations will continue at this point. They will probably get fairly that.
BERMAN: You know, in terms of international security, one crucial meeting, Beth, today was Joe Biden and Volodymyr Zelenskyy. But inside Russia, China's top diplomat landed right about the same time in his meeting with Russian officials, and this comes as Antony Blinken says that the U.S. is nervous, scared or concerned, raise concerns I should say that China will provide lethal military aid to Russia. How much of a concern should that be? What would that do to U.S.-China relations?
SANNER: Well, U.S.-China relations are at a four-year low already. I think that rate now the effort by both sides coming out of Bali was to try to, as the Biden administration, said put guardrails on and basically keep the wheels from falling off the bus. And I think that would be just devastating.
This is a really another bold move by the Biden administration to use intelligence. Not just keep it hidden, to use it in order to constrain the actions of our adversaries. They did it effectively against Russia. And now I think this will be effective against China. What China's trying to do is have his cake and eat it, too. You know,
they're trying to square the circle of all these different things that they're trying to accomplish. But this lays bare their efforts.
BERMAN: All right. Beth Sanner, Colonel Cedric Leighton, thank you both very much.
Ahead, more than two weeks since the train derailment in Ohio, and the controlled burns that follow, is the air and water too dangerous for people who live there? The test results are in.
BERMAN: In our national lead, it is it safe to breathe the air or drink the water? Those are the questions still plaguing the residents of East Palestine, Ohio, two weeks after that train derailment and controlled burn. Government officials say test of the public drinking water have repeatedly come back as safe. Officials insist the air is clean.
But as CNN's Jason Carroll reports, people are still wary.
JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Empty room stand ready for use at the First Church of Christ in East Palestine, Ohio, where starting Tuesday, it will be used as a clinic.
ROBERT HELBECK, SR. MINISTER, FIRST CHURCH OF CHRIST: We'll be here to help people as long as necessary.
CARROLL: Here, residents who say they are experiencing adverse health effects can be examined by experts.
We've been hearing that people having headaches, rashes and whatnot. Is that what you're hearing as well?
HELBECK: Yeah, I don't hear a lot of it, but people are having some of those things. Whether it's because of chemicals or because of this time of the year. It's hard to tell.
CARROLL: More than two weeks after the Norfolk Southern train derailment, and the controlled release of chemicals by the company that followed, residents in East Palestine are increasingly worried about what's in their air, water, and soil.
HEATHER MCTEER TONEY, V.P. COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT, ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENSE FUND: When we think about the chemicals that we know have been released, they are known carcinogens. Vinyl chloride is a carcinogen.
CARROLL: Signs of chemicals visible in creeks near the derailment site over the weekend, while in Cincinnati and northern Kentucky on Monday, water officials reopened water intakes from the Ohio River. They shut them down out of an abundance of caution, the anticipated arrival of the last detectable amounts of chemicals from the derailment. Water officials say there have been no detections of the specific chemicals from the train derailment.
Meanwhile, back in Palestinian, air quality tests in 530 homes showed no detection of contaminants above safe limits. Officials also say public water is safe, while private well water users should stick with bottled water for now.
Despite those guarantees, the toxic chemical spill is still causing an uproar and criticism directed at Norfolk Southern.
SEN. SHERROD BROWN (D-OH): Everything that's happened here -- all the cleanup, all the drilling, all the testing, all the hotel stays -- all of that is on Norfolk Southern.
CARROLL: The rail company CEO standing by the decision to conduct a controlled release, saying the burn was the right thing to do.
ALAN SHAW, PRESIDENT & CEO OF NORFOLK SOUTHERN: I think we did what we needed to do in order to prevent an uncontrolled explosion.
CARROLL: The federal government has deployed medical experts. Too help assess health concerns. People in this community have been reporting problems just rashes and nausea. The CDC also confirmed it will send a team to help assist public health needs in the area.
But that's not stopping criticism that the Biden administration was slow respond to the disaster. On Sunday, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg responded with a letter to Norfolk Southern CEO, writing major derailments in the past have been followed by calls for reform, and by vigorous resistance by your industry to increase safety measures. This must change.
And as the sounds of trains continue to run through East Palestine, it's a bitter reminder for residents that while Norfolk Southern has resumed operations, life here for some is far from it.
CARROLL (on camera): And, John, we've just gotten word that EPA administrator Michael Regan who was here last week, well, he will be here again tomorrow on Tuesday to meet with both state, local officials, as well as residents here on the ground as well -- John.
BERMAN: All right. New effort from the administration.
Jason Carroll in East Palestine, Ohio, thank you very much.
Ninety-eight-year-old former President Jimmy Carter entered hospice care at his Georgia home over the weekend for going for the medical treatment. Recently, America's oldest living president had undergone a series of short hospital stays.
CNN's Eva McKend is in Plains, Georgia, where President Carter was missed yesterday at the Sunday school where he began teaching in the 1980s. The Carters and Plains, Georgia, it's such a close relationship, Eva.
EVA MCKEND, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER: Yes, John. And he sure was missed.
Actually, when you speak to residents here, it is at the Sunday school where they may have interacted with him. Some of them telling me they brought their kids so that they could listen to the former president. I just want to give you a sense of this community of Plains, Georgia. Just to have you hundred folks living here.
As many folks know, the former president was also a former peanut farmer. And all day long, we have seen peanut trucks coming by here. The factory just off of Main Street here. Pretty much peanuts and lumber, all we have seen come back and forth down this road.
And then here is main street. On the other end of main street, you have a train depot. That depot also served as former President Carter's campaign headquarters in the 1970s on main street is just peppered with different cute little stores and shops. In those shops are plenty of Carter memorabilia. Just to give you a sense of how central he is to this community.
We also met a shop owner, I won by the name of Bonita who owns a sell food restaurant. She's had the opportunity to feed the Carters over the years. Take a listen to what she told us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BONITA HIGHTOWER, OWNER , BONITA'S RESTAURANT: You see this restaurant, its plopped rate in the midst of where the former president grew up at. For him to come from these humble means to being the 39th president of our United States is just phenomenal, you know? So, it just goes to show that it doesn't matter where you come from, it's all about what you desire and where you can go with that desire. So he is a living example to me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MCKEND: So, something we have also heard time and time again is how central his faith was. We mentioned Sunday school at the top. A lot of folks telling me here in this community that they are believers. It is their faith, John, that is getting them through this tough period.
We also met a man, he's a mail carrier and a painter, worked six days a week. He has put off one of his key jobs, which is routinely painting the peanut that is right on the edge of town here. That peanut was a key feature during President Carter's campaign in 1976. He said he's been putting an offer along. While he just could not put it off no more when he heard the news that Carter is in hospice care -- John.
BERMAN: You know, a town and one family. Eva McKend in Plains, Georgia, thank you very much.
Ahead, treating a child with a fever. Why parents may want to hold off on the doses to help bring that temperature down. The expert advice from pediatricians, next.
BERMAN: In our health lead, a new poll shows that when three parents will give their children fever reducing medicine once signs of a fever arise. But pediatricians warn unnecessary usage might mask the pain of what's actually going on.
CNN's Elizabeth Cohen joins me now.
First, Elizabeth, tell us more about this poll.
ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: John, this is an interesting poll done by the folks at the children's hospital in Michigan. Basically, what it found is that a lot of parents are thinking kind of by definition, or maybe thinking, by definition, if my child has a fever, even if it's low, great I need to give them medication. And that is not the case.
Let's take a look at advice from the American Academy of Pediatrics. What they say, this is for children over six months old, there are different rules for the little ones. They say you probably do not need to be treating the fever unless the child is uncomfortable.
So, if your child has a fever, especially a low grade fever, but they seem okay, which sometimes happens, then you don't need to treat them. So, for example, if they're playing, eating, drinking, sleeping normally, then you don't need to treat them. That's what the American Academy of Pediatrics says.
In other words, having a fever, by definition, does not mean you need to give them medications -- John.
BERMAN: Because that's the question I have, as a parent who once had little kids. What are you supposed to do if it starts going up, the temperature?
COHEN: Right. So, there -- I will give you first a couple of downs. There are some old fashioned notions about what you're supposed to do with a child with a fever. You definitely don't want to be doing these things.
You do not want to be giving them aspirin. That can actually make them even more sick. You don't want to be dousing them with cold water or rubbing alcohol, those are all bad ideas. You do want to make sure they stay hydrated. For example, pediatricians will tell parents a babies, count the diapers. You want to have a certain number of wet diapers. Hydration is, so important with a feverish child.
If you are going to use ibuprofen or acetaminophen, like Advil, Tylenol, different words for that, then you want to make sure that you're giving the proper dosage. It's very different depending upon the size of the child.
So, go by, size not by age, follow the charts that are on the labels for the medicines -- John.
BERMAN: Size, not by age. That's an interesting distinction there. I mean, are we talking young kids? You're saying post six months all the way until what theoretically?
COHEN: Right, so I think it goes up until 12 years old. Now, there are some 12 year olds who are quite large. That dosing would be more like an adult.
But you want to look on there because there are, you know, five-year- olds who weigh more like an eight year old, eight year old two-way more like six year olds. So, you want to be looking at the size of the pounds. That's what matters.
BERMAN: All right. Elizabeth Cohen, thank you very much for explaining all of that.
Up next, how Putin's war in Ukraine has Russian families on the run, and ending up in the United States. One family's complex journey with babies in tow, that's next.
BERMAN: In our world lead, since Russian President Vladimir Putin imposed a military draft last September, a staggering number of Russians have been trying to seek asylum in the United States. Look at this from Customs and Border Protection. At the peak in December, nearly 8000 Russian migrants showed up along the U.S.-Mexico border. That's a stark contrast from the time before Putin's order.
CNN's Rosa Flores caught up with one Russian family who made that daring journey.
ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Mikhail and Nailia Manzurin loved life in Russia, with their two boys Mark and Philip.
MIKHAIL MANZURIN, IMMIGRANT FROM RUSSIA: Life was good.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin.
FLORES: But their world turned upside down last September when Vladimir Putin declared the first draft since World War II, Drafting men Mikhail's age.
MANZURIN: I don't want to kill innocent people of Ukraine. They're protecting their territories. They're protecting their homes.
FLORES: Mikhail thought about his own family.
MANZURIN: I was afraid for my boys. I was afraid for my family. FLORES: Was that your biggest fear?
MANZURIN: Yeah, one of -- one of my biggest fears, of course.
FLORES: At the time, fear spread quickly in Russia. Wives and mothers wailed as their loved ones were forced to go to war and thousands of Russians fled to neighboring countries to avoid the draft. The backup at the Russian border seems endless.
Turns out many of them were headed to America. In fact, the number of Russians encountered at the U.S. southern border has nearly tripled since Putin impose the draft. From about 1,600 Russians in August 2022, the month before the draft, to more than 4,500 in January 2023.
MANZURIN: So, this is Russia, this is the bus station.
FLORES: Fearing Mikhail could be drafted at any moment, the Manzurins separated.
MANZURIN: I praise God it was just temporary.
FLORES: Mikhail left Russia first to Kazakhstan by bus. A week later --
MANZURIN: Here is now in the bus.
FLORES: Nailia and the boys joined him.
MANZURIN: My favorite moment, they're so happy to see --
FLORES: And they traveled by train to Uzbekistan.
MANZURIN: This is Uzbekistan.
FLORES: Where they slept on the floor of an apartment they shared with friends for more than a month. But they were nervous because Uzbekistan is a post-Soviet country that can be friendly to Russia.
Then they learned some of their Russian friends were entering the U.S.
MANZURIN: They crossed the border from Mexico to the United States. It happened to one family and then to another family and we started to pray.
FLORES: In late November, with guidance from a U.S. nonprofit organization, the Manzurins arrived to Reynosa, Mexico.
MANZURIN: This is the video of our apartment.
FLORES: Which is across the border from South Texas. There, Mikhail says, up to 700 Russians were waiting for their own chance to enter the U.S. legally.
MANZURIN: All the people that were there, they were against the war. That was the reason why they left Russia.
This is the day when we cross the border.
FLORES: In January, after 40 days of waiting there, the Manzurins say U.S. immigration authorities allowed them to enter the U.S. legally under something called humanitarian parole, which allows them to seek asylum while in the U.S.
Their first weeks in America, they were hosted by pastors like this family in Austin, Texas, where Nailia celebrated her 27th birthday. The entire family celebrated being free and safe together.
FLORES (on camera): The Manzurins are in Washington state. They are settling into a Russian-speaking Christian community, and they plan to seek asylum here in the United States.
But their future here is uncertain. As you know, it will be up to an immigration judge to determine whether the asylum is granted or denied. And, John, they tell me that their biggest fear right now is getting deported, because as you saw in that story, Mikhail Manzurin has spoken against the war. He fled because of the draft and they fear the worst they could get deported back to Russia -- John.
BERMAN: What a journey.
Rosa Flores, thank you very much.
The alarming threat today from Kim Jong-un's sister as North Korean fires off a new round of missile launches today.
BERMAN: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm John Berman, in for Jake Tapper.
And this hour, there are just not enough hands. How virtual reality is being used to help alleviate a huge shortage in one job field.
Plus, an arrest made and the killing of a Catholic bishop in his own house. What we're learning about the suspect and a possible motive.
And leading this hour, moments ago, President Biden returned to Poland after his unannounced visit to Ukraine. Earlier this morning, President Joe Biden appeared with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Ukraine's capital, Kyiv. This visit comes almost one year into Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
During his remarks, President Biden took aim at Russian President Vladimir Putin saying, his conquest of Ukraine has failed.
CNN's Alex Marquardt is in Kyiv with more on this historic, unannounced, and in many ways unprecedented trip that Zelenskyy says brought Ukraine, quote, closer to victory.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): As if on cue, the ever-present air raid sirens warning a potential danger cutting through the crisp Kyiv morning.