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International Criminal Court Issues Arrest Warrant For Vladimir Putin; Another Bank Avoids Collapse, But Fears Over Sector Persist; Biden Speaks At Friends And Ireland Luncheon. Aired 1-1:30 pm ET

Aired March 17, 2023 - 13:00   ET




ABBY PHILLIP, CNN HOST: Hello, I'm Abby Phillips in Washington. Wanted for alleged war crimes. The International Criminal Court has now issued an arrest warrant for Vladimir Putin. Prosecutors accused Putin and another official of illegally deporting Ukrainian children to Russia. And we are expecting to hear from President Biden, perhaps reacting to this at any moment.

But first, CNN's Ivan Watson is in Kharkiv, Ukraine and Nic Robertson is in London for us.

Ivan, I want to start with you first. So walk us through exactly what the ICC is alleging here?

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Right, well, they're issuing arrest warrants for none less than the Russian president himself, Vladimir Putin, accusing him of alleged war crimes for what they say is the illegal abduction of Ukrainian children, forcibly deporting them to Russian territory.

They've also issued an arrest warrant for a Russian government official by the name of Maria Alekseyevna Lvova-Belova. And she is kind of the children's rights official in the Russian government. She has already issued a statement.

The Kremlin have already issued statements basically calling these arrest warrants null and void, saying that Moscow is not a signatory to the Rome Statute, that. They don't recognize the jurisdiction of the ICC, and they won't basically be responding to this.

And Lvova-Belova has issued a separate statement, somewhat sarcastically, saying, "It's great that the international community has appreciated the work to help the children, that we do not leave them in war zones, that we take them out, that we put good conditions for them, and that we around them with loving, caring people."

On the flip side of this, the Ukrainian government has applauded this decision. A top official in the president's office, the chief of Staff, saying this is just the first step. The top prosecutor in the country saying that world leaders now will think twice before shaking Putin's hand or sitting down at the negotiating table.

The Ukrainian government has counted no less than 16,226 children that it says have been deported to Russia. It wants them back. It has been pressing the ICC and other institutions to take a step just like this to accuse Putin and his government and military of war crimes. And that's why they are happy with this move today. Abby?

PHILLIP: Yeah, and those allegations are incredibly serious. And this is a really kind of blockbuster move. But, Nic, how much of it, to Ivan's point, is perhaps symbolic? They're not going to get Putin in handcuffs. And how much of it has an actual effect?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: It's designed to get him in front of a court. And if he was found guilty, he would become a war criminal. He knows, therefore, that the world and areas in the world are now prescribed to him. Capitals that do follow the Rome statutes will be obliged to arrest him if he flew in there.

This is a leader who likes to stride the world stage to be important and powerful. Once upon a time, a member of the G8 before he was kicked out of it and it became the G7. He is a member of the G20. He is a member of the U.N.'s Permanent Security Council. These are some of the most esteemed global bodies.

Some of those meetings he will no longer be able to turn up to. He certainly won't be able to go to New York for a U.N. General Assembly meeting. He certainly won't be able to go to European capital for a G20. It raises questions about whether or go to India for the G20 Leaders' Summit in September this year.

So he may not end up in front of the court. Omar al-Bashir, the former Sudanese President who was charged by the ICC back in 2009 and 2010, has still not been brought to justice in front of them. Putin can evade and avoid, but his world has gotten smaller.

And that's part of the message here, that you are accountable for the crimes. It's a contravening international law to take civilian for an occupying force that takes civilian from their country to another country, and children get even stronger protection under the Geneva Convention. Russia cannot plead that it's ignorant of international law, even if it doesn't recognize the jurisdiction.


So, for President Putin now, the moniker are being viewed by world leaders. Forget a meeting with President Biden and others as being a possible war criminal. His world got smaller, and that's the message that he is most likely to take home. Will it change the course of the war? Not immediately, but this is part of many messages he's being sent, not least the weapons going to support Ukraine.

PHILLIP: And Nic, I just want to underscore what you just said. Putin's world has now gotten a lot smaller, and that is so significant when we're talking about the leader of a great power on the world stage.

Ivan Watson, thank you so much. And Nic Robertson, thank you as well.

And joining me now to continue this conversation, CNN Political and National Security Analyst and New York Times Correspondent David Sanger and Retired Army Brigadier General Steve Anderson.

General Anderson, I want to start with you, where I just left off with Nic about how this impacts the war in Ukraine. Obviously, these allegations as it relates to the children are very serious. But Putin is clearly accused of much more on the battlefield in Ukraine. Does this arrest warrant have any impact on how he might proceed in the Ukraine conflict?

BRIG. GEN. STEVE ANDERSON, U.S. ARMY (RET.): Thank you, Abby. I really don't think it's going to have that big of an impact on how he's conducting his war fighting. He's conducting terrible war fighting. His trips aren't properly equipped or trained. His generals don't know how to lead.

They don't know how to conduct maneuver operations, et cetera. I mean, to me, though, it's always a good thing when bad things happen to bad people. This is another charge to add to the charge sheet. He's been terrorizing the Ukrainian people now for over a year. He's been indiscriminately bombing and terrorizing their citizens. And this is just another example.

Of the kind of ruthless dictator that he is and why it's absolutely imperative that the United States and NATO step up their operations and enable the Ukrainians to conduct offensive operations this year. Otherwise, we're going to be having this conversation for a long time.

PHILLIP: And, David, there is the prospect here that if Putin steps foot in any number of places now, he -- there is an active arrest warrant for him. How does that affect how the west is able to deal with him, to negotiate with him, to get him to the table when it comes to ending this war or any number of other conflicts that they need to resolve with him?

DAVID SANGER, WHITE HOUSE & NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Well, Abby, you raise just the critical point. I mean, on the one hand, this is being cheered, understandably, by every human rights group that has watched the horror of these children being abducted and taken over the border.

It's a little complicated because not all countries recognize the International Criminal Court. And among those who do not recognize its authority over their own people in the United States. So it's not the ideal place for this to happen, in the U.S.' view, but they'll take it because it adds to Putin's isolation.

But you raised a really interesting question. Wars end most of the time through a negotiated settlement. And that means you have to be in a position of flexibility to go negotiate with your adversary. And this may make it all the harder to go negotiate, because one of Putin's demands may well now be that charges be dropped against him and any other Russian. PHILLIP: Yeah, it very well could be. General, I do want to turn to

this prospective meeting we're expecting next week between Putin and the Chinese leader Xi Jinping. Xi says that this meeting is about peace. Do you buy that?

ANDERSON: I think that he's trying to show himself to be a peacemaker. They issued that twelve-point peace plan, you know, last month. Of course, they thought they forgot about the 13th points, which is to remove all the Russian troops from sovereign Ukraine.

But he's trying to show himself to be some kind of a peacemaker in much the same light that perhaps Biden came out to visit Kyiv. He's going to visit Vladimir Putin in Moscow, but I think it's pretty much a show. I think it'd be far more significant if he's going to agree to give significant weapons and ammunition to the Russians.

I don't think he's going to do that. In fact, I think behind closed doors, he's going to try and encourage Vladimir Putin to knock it down a couple of notches and end this thing and get it wrapped up because he knows that it's a bad game. And I don't think that she is interested in throwing good money after bad.

PHILLIP: On that point about whether this will lead to even more assistance to Putin. David, I wonder how you think this warrant from the ICC plays into Xi's thinking? I mean, in some ways he's tried to keep Putin as an ally, but in other ways, he's tried to avoid some of the taint from this war. How do you think that this affects, his thinking about providing lethal support to Putin in this moment?


SANGER: My guess is that he will pretty well ignore it. China is also not -- doesn't sign on to the underlying accords that create the International Criminal Court. But the China Russia relationship and this dynamic, this emerging alliance, but not an alliance yet, is, I think, perhaps the single most important thing that may emerge from the war in terms of reordering global relationships among superpowers.

The United States now finds itself in daily competition, angry competition with China and in conflict through proxies with Russia. That's exactly where we did not want to end up taking on both major nuclear superpowers. And they're now finding some reason to have a condominium between each other.

And so it's going to become the United States objective, as it was during the Nixon era, when China was first brought into the fold a little bit to try to keep these two from growing into a major relationship.

And Putin's got a lot of reasons that he needs China. And China, of course, wants the energy resources and likes the fact that it's the number one player in this relationship, which was not the way it was in the Cold War.

PHILLIP: Absolutely. I think that turnaround is of great significance to them. And we are awaiting President Biden over on Capitol Hill. We'll see if he addresses these breaking news developments. Thank you, Brigadier General Steve Anderson and David Sanger for all of that analysis.

And we may not be out of the woods yet another struggling bank was just rescued with tens of billions of dollars. But a day later, fears of a wider bank crisis still persist. And you can see there the markets are down in this moment.

So in just a few minutes, we'll hear from President Biden, see if he addresses this turmoil as well. But at the moment, let's go to CNN's Matt Egan. He's been over at the Magic Wall all week for us. Matt, First Republic was saved yesterday, but the big picture right now when it comes to the banking sector, especially for these regional banks. But now we're even looking at the state of the bigger banks. It's very, very murky. Tell us what's going on.

MATT EGAN, CNN REPORTER: Yeah, the last week has really shaken the American banking system, and it's going to take some time before we get back to normal.

Let's look at this rescue of First Republic Bank in its extraordinary industry led effort. We had eleven of the biggest banks come to the rescue injecting $30 billion of insured deposits. The biggest four banks, they deposited $5 billion of peach -- piece of Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs. The other five big banks, they're all coming together. You add it up, you get $30 billion.

Now, this was designed to try to revive and restore confidence in the regional banking industry. Let's look at how regional banks are doing today. Look at this. First Republic down 26% completely, giving back all of yesterday's gains. We're really seeing losses across the board here. PacWest, KeyCorp, Huntington Bank, Western Alliance. All of them in the red.

But look at this. First Republic. I mean, that is a very significant decline. And I think this is really the market saying to Washington, this is not enough. What's been done so far is not enough. More is going to have to be done. And what's interesting too is let's look at the big banks. These are the ones that came to the rescue.

They're also in the red today. Bank of America. Citigroup, JPMorgan, Wells Fargo. And looking at the broader markets, we see still down off the lows, though the Nasdaq is only down by 0.6%. But still, that relief rally from yesterday has really proved to be short lived.

We also got some new numbers that talk about the strain on the banking system. The Federal Reserve said last night that a record $153 billion was borrowed from the Fed's discount window by banks. Now, this is why the Fed is here. The Fed is supposed to be the lender of last resort.

And the discount window is kind of like a safety valve that takes some of the pressure out of the banking system. But this figure it's a record, really puts an exclamation point on just how much stress is on the system.

PHILLIP: Yeah, I mean, this is all seeming to point to some really troubling signs. But I wonder what is happening with the American consumer, who throughout all of this has been dealing with inflation, now worried perhaps about how their money is doing, what's going on with them?


EGAN: Yes, we got new numbers out on consumer sentiment from the University of Michigan. This is a preliminary look at March and it came in at 63.4. So for some context about 100 was this metrics was around 100 pre-COVID. So we're way down from there. We actually have been trending higher for three months in a row and now we have this decline right here. I think what's interesting is that this dip in consumer sentiment is actually not about the stress in the banking system.

University of Michigan says that the vast majority of this survey was already out. They already got all their responses before the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank. So that suggests that this is really more about lingering concerns, about inflation and how long sticker shock has lasted.

Another number that we're looking at right now is what's going on in the oil market. Usually we're talking about high oil prices. The good news is that oil prices have actually come down significantly. Look at U.S. oil down at $67 a barrel, down 2%.

Unfortunately, though, this isn't really happening for the right reasons. It's mostly because investors are concerned about the health of the economy. Energy market traders are worried that this contagion in the banking system is going to spread and could slow down the economy by hurting demand and supply for loans. So I think this is just another sign of concern right now about the financial markets and about the economy.

PHILLIP: There's so much to chew on there. Matt Egan, thank you so much.

And let's break it down even further. Catherine Rampell from the Washington Post is with us, as well as CNN Political Analyst and AP White House Reporter Seung Min Kim.

Katherine, I want to start with you on the economics of this. The First Republic rescue happened. The Treasury Secretary has given assurances but the banking sector is still clearly, as you can see from the Dow and from the individual stocks. They are still on edge. What will it take to give Wall Street, the banking industry, more confidence that this thing has been handled?

CATHERINE RAMPELL, CNN ECONOMICS AND POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think it's almost as if everybody woke up and realized that there was a lot more fragility in the financial system than had been until a week ago fully appreciated. So you're seeing a lot of jitters related to that sort of collective realization.

I think that federal officials had hoped that the extraordinary actions taken last weekend rescuing Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank depositors would be sufficient. That clearly wasn't. They hoped that this big bank cash infusion into First Republic would be sufficient. That has not been the case. So I don't know at this point.

I think we have to hope that whatever anxiety there is about the state of financial markets kind of works its way through the system at this point and that there isn't another potentially hidden bomb about to go off. I think that's part of what's happening here. People were like wow, we were taken by surprise by how much vulnerability there was that hadn't been spotted by Wall Street, by regulators, et cetera. What are the other shoes about to drop?


RAMPELL: One hopes that there won't be any, but we don't know.

PHILLIP: We really don't know because it seemed almost as if no one saw this coming. Seung Min, on the Washington end of this, President Biden today is urging Congress to take action to regulate. Banks to really punish banks for this kind of mismanagement that could lead to what happened with Silicon Valley Bank. On the other hand, on Capitol Hill, Speaker McCarthy is pushing back. He's saying we don't really need to do anything here. So what do you expect to happen in terms of Washington playing a role in this crisis?

SEUNG MIN KIM, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I thought what President Biden started out in terms of policy prescriptions when it came to this banking collapse was really interesting, because you saw in a statement today that he is targeting these management bonuses, making sure that these bank executives are properly punished for their behavior. He talked about Congress giving regulators additional action to claw back compensation.

We saw the reports of Silicon Valley bank executives getting bonuses before this bank collapse. And that actually is something that I don't know if there's a bipartisan solution, but there certainly has been bipartisan criticism and outrage on Capitol Hill.

Obviously, you're hearing that a lot from Democrats. You're hearing that from the President of the United States as well. But I'm told on a private call --

PHILLIP: Seung Min, I got to interrupt you, I'm sorry, President Biden is over on Capitol Hill. He's speaking for the first time since the ICC issued an arrest warrant for Vladimir Putin. Let's take a listen.


JOE BIDEN, (D) U.S. PRESIDENT: Well, that's why I'm here. I'm glad to be with all of you. And most importantly, I'm glad that we're surrounded by so many friends of Ireland.

Here in Washington, we've always been able to work across aisle on Irish issues, no matter what our politics have been, no matter what else we agree or disagree on.

So, Mr. Speaker, thank you for bringing us together again. I was trying to think, I think I've made almost every one of you. Don't get hurt, man we mean it. Are you OK? All right. Mr. Speaker, I want to thank you for bringing us together. And thank you to all the Irish Americans here today who've spent years building a broad bipartisan consensus on the issue of Ireland.

You know, Taoiseach, it's great to see you again. We just spent a little time down in the Ovel Office, and we just finished the next one meeting, so now we can enjoy a little bit of a celebration.

You know, to all the friends and leaders who travel from Ireland and Northern Ireland. Wonderful to see so many of you here once more.

I stand here today, like most of you, as a descendant of the Blewitt of County Mayo and the Finnegans of County Louth. I was telling Taoiseach that I -- when I would have as Vice President, I'd always have a breakfast for the Taoiseach before he'd go over to see the President for those eight years, the 7th year, I think it was nuns (ph) that went in the Taoiseach.

I brought him into the Oval. He sat down, and before Barack could say anything, he said, for God's sake, Barack, let the boy come home. Let him come home. I'm sure he got a true story. And he said, you keep sending them to places like Afghanistan, Iraq and all. Let him come home.

And I keep -- you have to help me with the Gaelic expression hundred thousand welcomes. What it is? (Inaudible). And he said you'll -- he'll get a hundred thousand welcomes. And it was one of the -- but he didn't -- they didn't plan on my bringing my whole family. But literally we saw thousands of people.

And I was saying that being raised by a grandpa who went to Santa Clara back in the days when Irish and Northeast Pennsylvania didn't very much get a chance to go to college, he was an all-American football player at Santa Clara and he came back as a newspaper guy on the business side.

And my grandfather used to say that when anything every time I walk out of his house in Scranton, Pennsylvania, I lived there for a while, he'd look at me and say, Joe, remember, the best drop of blood in you is Irish. And my grandmother would say, you need more than that.

But the fact is that when I went over to Ireland, it was a great experience. I'd been to Ireland many times, but not to actually look up to find my actual family members. And there are so many and they actually weren't in jail, they were all -- but all kidding aside, met the Blewitt and the Finnegans and all of the folks who we were related to spent six days there.

And one of the things that the Finnegans are from County Louth, and if you go to County Louth, there's still place called Finnegan's Pub, which is reverend. It's related to my family. I'm the only Irishman you ever met, though it's never had a drink, so I'm OK. I'm really not Irish.

But look, as many of you know. I like all of you, take pride in my Irish ancestry. And as long as I can remember, it's been sort of part of my soul, how I've been raised. And, you know, during the times of darkness and despair, it always sort of brings light strength when you think about what my ancestors went through and what we're going through now and the history that binds us and the values that unite us.

There are values I learned in my grandpa's kitchen table where he would always -- my grandpa's kitchen table, particularly on Sunday after 10:30 Mass at St. Paul's, you get to wander around the table. We never got to sit down when you were a kid, but he had four sons and they'd sit there and another guy from the newspaper, a guy named Tommy Phillips, who was sort of, at the time, the David Broder of the Scranton paper. And they'd sit there and they'd talk. And one day, you know, I'm sitting there and talking about a guy that I didn't understand why he was sticking up for him.

And he was the city chairman of the party, whose son was city chairman when I ran for President, anyway. And he was always in trouble. He was sort of like a, like a late Mayor Daley, you know, brother-in-law on the payroll kind of thing. And so I couldn't understand my grandpa with Mr. Rectitude and I couldn't understand why he was so liked him so much.

And he reached up and you could wander the table, he just couldn't sit. And he put his arm around me. He said, Joe, come here. And I knew this was about to be a public lesson for Joe. And he said, you're wondering why I like Paddy? And I said, no, no, no grandpa, no. I said, no.

And I said, let me tell you something, he'd look at you say, Ambrose, I'm going to cut your heart out. And you know he'd mean it. Or, Ambrose, I'm going to jump off the bridge for you. Whatever he said, he'd do -- just remember, do what you say. Do what you say.

And he was one of those guys who --

PHILLIP: -- speaking on Capitol Hill at what is an annual tradition on this St. Patrick's Day.

But coming up next for us, former President Trump's social media ban is now effectively over why YouTube just decided to restore his account.

Plus, a smelly 5000 miles blob of rotting seaweed is headed toward Florida. And it's already causing problems on Caribbean beaches. Stay with us.