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Soon, Biden Addresses U.N. as Putin Escalates War in Ukraine; Global Survey Shows Women's Health Worsened in 2021; GOP Attorneys General Warn Credit Card Companies Over Gun-Store Code. Aired 10:30- 11a ET

Aired September 21, 2022 - 10:30   ET



JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: And I wonder, do you take this as simply rhetoric at this point or do you believe the threat is real?

KAJA KALLAS, ESTONIAN PRIME MINISTER: Well, the threat has always been real, considering that Russia is a nuclear power. And we see that this war is not going in accordance with Putin's plans, so he's clearly afraid, and that's why he's making the next steps. First, doing the fake referendums to say that these are Russian territories, then when Ukraine makes counterattacks, saying that Ukraine is now attacking Russia, and then, you know, giving reasons to further escalate. But, actually, the threats of Russia has always been the same.

SCIUTTO: Let me ask you this then. Has Estonia, has NATO seen any -- have you seen any movements of Russian nuclear forces that would indicate that Russia is taking steps to carry or at least give the option of carrying out a nuclear attack?

KALLAS: So far, we haven't, but, of course, we have to take those threats seriously. But we also have to understand why he's making those threats. He's making those threats to make us afraid, and we shouldn't be afraid by his threats.

SCIUTTO: As we look at the other step he announced overnight, and that is the mobilization of some 300,000 additional Russian forces, I know there are questions as to whether they are or will be combat ready. However, does this indicate to you that the Russian president -- that Russia is in this war in Ukraine for the long haul, months, perhaps years, that there are no signs then that Putin might sue for peace?

KALLAS: That is correct. I think the mobilization is needed to say that now it's -- when Ukraine makes the counterattack against Russia and Russia is in war, but it is also, again, a sign to make us afraid, that they are not giving in. And we should take this as it is. We should not give in one inch. We should actually put more pressure on Russia to stop this war, because now the discontent within the Russian society is also building, because they are also feeling the war on their skin, so to say. SCIUTTO: You have in the past expressed to me dissatisfaction with NATO's plans to defend Estonia in the event that Russia were to choose to invade Estonia next. President Biden is going to speak here at the U.N. in the next few moments. What new do you need to hear from the American president to give you confidence that Estonia will be safe?

KALLAS: First of all, we got very decisions out of the NATO summit that was held in June that gave us the confidence that NATO is ready to protect and defend every inch of NATO's territory. Second, what is very important and what I also expect President Biden to say is that we accept no --

SCIUTTO: Stand by one moment. She's back. So, sorry, we lost you for a moment there, but please continue that thought.

KALLAS: Okay. Sorry. So, that we accept no impunity for the war crimes and crimes of aggression, because this is the biggest security guarantee that we can all have. It is a matter of international rules- based order. If this aggression pays off, its serves as an invitation to use it elsewhere and no country can feel safe.

SCIUTTO: With the announcement of this partial mobilization, our reporters are seeing and others an exodus and or an attempted from Moscow and other cities by plane. There's a pileup at the Finland border of people attempting to leave the country. Estonia and other European countries have said and taken steps to prevent Russians from getting visas to Europe. And I wonder if you're considering that at all, that by, in effect, blocking, that that's providing more conscripts, in effect, for the Russian military?

KALLAS: Well, we are providing shelter for the Ukrainian war refugees here. And every city is responsible for their country's seats (ph), so are Russian citizens. So, we are not giving any asylum or -- this is not the basis of asylum for Russian men to flee the country.


They should stand up and say that they are against this war and end this war once and for all.

SCIUTTO: Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas, it's always a pleasure to speak, and we appreciate you joining us this morning.

KALLAS: Thank you.

HARLOW: Well, still ahead, a new study provides a good reason for women not put off their visit to the doctor's office, how many years it could add to your life.



HARLOW: Well, there's a new study out this morning that hints at a healthier, longer life for women. The reason not surprising, it found women who saw their health care provider in the past year had an average life expectancy two years longer than those who had not.

So, let's bring in CNN Medical Correspondent Dr. Tara Narula for more. Not surprising, but, again, also it would tend to leave in favorite of the insured, people with more money, with more access to health care, right?

DR. TARA NARULA, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. But this is a global problem and they were very clear in saying we are failing women, particularly when it comes to prevention. We know that women tend to be the chief medical officers for everybody else in our family, not so great at taking care of ourselves.

So, in this survey, they found that 41 percent of women did not see a health care provider in the past year and those who did gained about two years in life expectancy. And when you look at why they saw a health care provider, it wasn't for prevention or screening, it was because they had pain or something was interfering with their normal ability to do their activity. So, we need to get the message out louder and clearer to women that prevention is important.

And when you look at the breakdown, only about 12 percent got screened for any type of cancer. And we know the WHO says that about 30 to 50 percent of cancer deaths are preventable. Only about a third got screened for high blood pressure. Cardiovascula disease is the leading cause of death for women globally. 19 percent for diabetes, 11 percent for STDs. I mean, these numbers are really abysmal. So, we need to do a much better job educating then. Prevention and screening is really kind of the bedrock of how we manage and prevent and treat chronic disease.

HARLOW: And big benefits, I would assume, outside of things, like screening for all of those diseases, checking for blood pressure. What else?

NARULA: Yes. So, the big benefit that I like to talk about is the doctor-patient relationship. So, there is some debate about do I really need to see my doctor every year? Exactly. But the reality is that's how you build trust. That's how you build a relationship where you open up to your doctor.

Many times I walk in a room and my patient says, I'm having a hard time at home with my children or my relationship, or financially, I lost my job and I can't pay for my medications. And these are the things that come out when you have that relationship. It's also a time when you can counsel about lifestyle, things like smoking and alcohol, talk about vaccinations, and, really, again, build that time in where you can see subtle changes, so you can pick up on maybe somebody's lost weight unintentionally, because you see it, you see a change in their skin mole that might be concerning. So, you pick on trends that you had missed if you weren't seeing them.

HARLOW: That's a great point. Doctor, thank you very much.

All right, Jim?

SCIUTTO: We are standing by here at the United Nations in New York for President Biden's critical address to world leaders in the midst of rising tensions in and around Ukraine. Those words coming in just a few minutes and we're going to bring them to you live.

Stand by.



SCIUTTO: We are live at the U.N. General Assembly in New York, where moments from now President Biden will address world leaders in the wake of deep threats from the Russian president, including the possibility of using nuclear weapons over the war in Ukraine.

We're joined now by Kaitlan Collins, our Chief White House Correspondent, Kylie Atwood, State Department Correspondent, and also our International Security Editor Nick Paton Walsh.

Kaitlan, I do want to begin with you. This was an alarming threat from the Russian president. How will President Biden respond before the UNGA?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: And this will be the first time we're hearing from President Biden since that speech from President Putin hours earlier. The White House says that speech wasn't entirely unexpected given the conditions that they have seen on the ground in Ukraine and what's happened to Russia's forces, but we are told President Biden will directly respond to that speech when he is speaking here at the United Nations shortly.

This was really a speech that was already going to be all about Ukraine and the U.S. commitment to Ukraine, and hearing President Biden reaffirm here, as his motorcade passing us now. But now, there is an added twist to this, because the way the White House is viewing this is saying, it wasn't unexpected, but it is still an escalation. And they believe it's a sign that Putin is not where he wants things to be in Ukraine.

And he's clearly railing against the west for the money, the intelligence, the weapons that they've shared with Ukraine and how that has bolstered their forces. And, of course, it was that thinly veiled threat about nuclear weapons is something else that we may see President Biden respond to. Because just a few days ago, he said that if Putin did resort to that tactic, that it would change the face of the war, and basically offering a warning, telling Putin directly, don't do that.

SCIUTTO: Indeed. As the Russian president made that threat, he used the words explicitly, this is not a bluff.

You're seeing live pictures there of what we believe to be the arrival of President Biden's motorcade, always easy to recognize here, at the U.N. General Assembly, because it is the longest, in fact, as you see the limo passed here with those two flags -- and there are always two of them for security, inside one of them is President Biden, the Beast, as his limousine is known there. Kylie Atwood with us as well, who covers the State Department. Another message, according to your new reporting this morning, Kylie, is that Biden is going to propose changes to the U.N. What are they? What do we know?

KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Well, listen, the president of the United States, one of the things he's going to be focused on here at the United Nations, is trying to reform this body.

Now, that is something that the ambassador here, Linda Thomas Greenfield, has talked about, sort of laid out what the United States would want to see in terms of changes specifically at the United Nations Security Council, in terms having countries have to explain why they are going to move forward with a veto of some of the efforts that the United Nations Security Council is trying to put forward. They also wasn't to see that Security Council expanded.

But I do think it's important to note that while the president is expected to address this in his meetings while he is here in New York, it's not necessarily going to be central to his speech today. And as Kaitlan was saying, we do expect the Ukraine war to be really central to his remarks today. And I think that is what we're trying to see. What does the president say in his response to what President Putin said overnight.

And we're hearing from the Ukrainians, the Ukrainian foreign minister, tweeting out, that the only way to respond to that belligerent speech from President Putin is for the international community to continue supporting Ukraine. I think that's a message that we should likely expect from many leaders today.

SCIUTTO: The nuclear threats so frequently an issue here at the U.N. General Assembly. I've been for assemblies where the North Korean nuclear threat referenced very directly and, of course, talks with Iran over its nuclear program, originated with the meeting President Obama and the Iranian president at the time, this one, of course, perhaps the most harrowing.

Our Nick Paton Walsh is on the ground in Ukraine, in the east, the city of Kramatorks there, where there has been heavy fighting on that eastern front. I wonder, Nick, we've been speaking about this, Ukraine closest to this Russian nuclear threat. What has been the reaction there? And I wonder, do Ukrainian officials take it seriously?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: Look, I mean, obviously, I think they take the use of weapons of mass destruction against their country here with great concern, but they have seen a lot of bluster from Putin in the past. And, frankly too, it appears that he's already throwing everything he possibly can or thinks he can get away with at Ukraine. So, this extra threat doesn't possibly change too much the daily calculus of people already fearing for their lives.

You've had a presidential adviser talking about how life has a sense of humor, essentially trying to portray this as the desperate act of a desperate nation, but I think Ukrainians will be looking to President Biden to continue the kind of unabashed, full-throated support that we've seen over the past months. There are concerns.

And when you hear the specter of nuclear weapons coming through, that you hear the possibility that Russia wants to put another 300,000 people on the front, potentially enduring months or years potentially of this war, that that leads western leaders to be concerned about, the economic impact and the possibility, of course, for concerns in their own population when people talk about nuclear weapons.

So, they're going to be hoping that President Biden essentially brushes off this nuclear rhetoric, obviously responsibly, and talks about continued, uninterrupted support, viewing this as a sign of Moscow's weakness, not of its enduring hidden strength. Jim?

SCIUTTO: Nick Paton Walsh in Ukraine.

We saw moments ago images of President Biden entering the United Nations building here as he prepare just minutes from now to address the assembly. His comments, of course, we will bring you live. Kaitlan Collins, Kylie Atwood with me here in New York, Nick Paton Walsh in Ukraine. We'll continue to cover this. Poppy?

HARLOW: Thank you, guys, very much. We'll get back to that as soon as the president starts speaking.

Still ahead though, credit card companies planning the way they code purchases of guns stores. Now, dozens of Republican attorneys general are warning them not to do it and even threatening legal action.



HARLOW: Welcome back. Two dozen Republican attorneys general are warnings credit card companies not to add a new sales code specifically for gun retailers. Previously, gun stores were classified in credit card sales as general merchandise or sporting goods category. Well, changing these codes would show where people make purchases but it does not show what they bought at those stores.

Our Business Reporter Matt Egan joins us live with more. This is super fascinating. It was a big change for Mastercard, Visa, American Express to do. And the idea is how do we take one step to starting to, you know, tackle the gun crisis in this country, but all of these attorneys general say it's illegal. They think it infringes on the Second Amendment.

MATT EGAN, CNN BUSINESS REPORTER: That's right, Poppy. This is a not so subtle threat from the Republican A.G.s to the card companies. Essentially, they're saying, if you go forward with this plan, we're going to tie you up in investigations.

Now, we know corporate America has been under pressure to do more to try to address mass shootings and gun violence, and so gun advocates have been happy, they cheered when Visa, American Express, and Mastercard, they came out and said they're going to adopt this new merchant code that will actually break out gun retailers separately, yet, now we have these two dozen Republican A.G.s who are saying that this is going to harm the rights of gun owners by singling them out and could potentially lead to consumer abuse.

They also note this new system is not going to distinguish between the purchase of, say, a gun safe and an actual firearm. Both would show up as purchases made from gun retailers.

Now, the credit card companies, they say that they are not going to do anything to block lawful purchases here. Visa goes a step further. They put it this blog post and they said, quote, we do not believe private companies should serve as moral arbiters, asking private companies to decide what legal products or services can or cannot be bought from what stores sets a dangerous precedent.


Poppy, despite this pressure from GOP officials, there's no sign that card companies are going to back down at this point.