Return to Transcripts main page

CNN This Morning

Russian Forces Advance On Bakhmut, 4,500 Civilians Remain In City; Scientists Say Antarctic Sea Ice Hits A Record Low; Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA) On Lawmakers' Warning Of China Threat At Select Committees First Hearing. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired March 01, 2023 - 07:30   ET




KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: The fighting in Ukraine this morning is intensifying in the east as Russia is conducting relentless attacks. Soldiers in Bakhmut are describing a worsening situation on the ground. Russian forces are continuing to apply pressure as they have been working to capture the city. CNN is told there are still about 4,500 civilians, including children, in the region.

The Ukrainian military has not made a decision to withdraw from the city but, of course, that is a major question this morning.

CNN's Alex Marquardt is live in Eastern Ukraine. Alex, what are we seeing on the ground because I know this has been something that Russia has been pursuing, and pursuing, and pursuing? What does it look like right now?

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kaitlan, fierce fighting all along this eastern front but nowhere more so than the city of Bakhmut. That is where the most difficult fighting is taking place according to President Zelenskyy who says those Ukrainian defensive positions are just getting pounded by Russian forces. He says that the Russians are taking significant casualties but we know that the Ukrainians are as well.

And this morning, Kaitlan, a spokesman for the Ukrainian military here in Eastern Ukraine says that no decision has been made about whether to pull back from the city but it is clearly something that they are considering at this point as the Russians press forward -- as they try to loop around the city encircling Ukrainian forces in and around the city.

The Russians claim that they have taken some territory north of Bakhmut. And now, according to that same spokesman, the Russian forces that are -- that are at the -- at the -- at the front if you will are the most experienced Wagner mercenaries -- fighters who have seen combat elsewhere, like in Syria and in Libya.

And Kaitlan, we did speak with a Ukrainian soldier inside the city just yesterday who said that the situation is 100 percent more difficult than Ukrainian officials are willing to admit. But this same soldier saying that they are not going to give the city up without a fight. That they are standing their ground as long as they can, Kaitlan.

COLLINS: Yes, standing it as long as they can. We'll see how long that is if they do withdraw or if Russia does take the city, Alex. What is the -- like, explain to people why that matters. Why that would be such a big deal for Russia?

MARQUARDT: Well, it would be a hugely symbolic victory and Ukraine is hoping to keep it just a symbolic victory. Right now it does not look like it would shift the battlefield all that much.

There are two things the Ukrainians are trying to do right now. If Russia were to take Bakhmut, Russia -- Ukraine is digging in just to the west of the city to make sure that Russia can't advance any further. Ukraine is also trying to bleed Russia at this point -- really just trying to kill as many Russian soldiers as possible in Bakhmut so that if they take the city that they are weakened. That they won't be able to advance in the near future past that.


At the same time, we know that Ukraine is preparing a counter- offensive that they do plan in the coming weeks to try to push forward to reclaim territory from the Russians. We don't know when or where that is going to take place but that is something that is very much in the works -- Kaitlan.

COLLINS: All right, Alex Marquardt. Please stay safe and keep us updated. Thank you.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: So even as this part of the northern hemisphere is experiencing another near-record warm winter and glaciers are retreating around the Arctic Circle, scientists are warning that the sea ice around Antarctica is -- has dropped to its lowest level, breaking the record set just last year. And look at that on your screen. So Antarctica's sea ice is now at its lowest point since satellites started monitoring the levels in 1979.

Our chief climate correspondent Bill Weir joins us now live from here at the southern tip of Argentina. Man, oh man, you have to admit it is beautiful. I'm not talking about you. You're OK but look at that. Is it --


LEMON: It's gorgeous. It's gorgeous.

WEIR: I'm nothing compared to this, Don.


WEIR: Who knew -- who knew that the end of the world would be so gorgeous? And check out the -- maybe the most beautiful soccer pitch in the world right over there. That's some guy's yard. That's fit for Lionel Messi here in Argentina.

That island over in the distance is a Chilean national park and on the other side of that is Antarctica. That's why we're here. I'm about to get on a boat with a whale scientist and go on an adventure to study those amazing creatures.

But while we're here we got this news out of the National Snow and Ice Center in Colorado that for the second year in a row the South Pole is shrinking. The ice down here is shrinking. It's sea ice so it's not affecting sea level rise much the way that when ice cubes in your glass melt they don't spill your drink.

But it's very worrying because Antarctica is a continent surrounded by oceans and that sea ice protects those ice shelves from unlocking all of that ice, which if it dumps into the oceans en masse would rearrange every city from Miami to Shanghai along the coasts around the world.

So what is troubling about this is the speed that it has declined. Just to give you some perspective, in the early 2000s, it looked like Antarctica was growing even as the Arctic was shrinking in alarming ways and scientists weren't sure why.

In 2014, the sea ice around Antarctica, seven million square miles. Now, less than a decade later it's under 700,000 square miles, so that's a 90 percent drop.

And they're just worried that this could be a tipping point that makes that vulnerable and then on from there it's just one domino after another of the kind of disasters we really don't want to imagine but have to think about, especially for people -- leaders who live on coasts.

LEMON: Is there anything that can be done to really slow this horrible extreme situation, Bill?

WEIR: It's the -- it's the same answer as it -- as it has been for generations. The faster we can move away from fuels that burn, in the speediest and most equitable way possible, the less horrible this gets. That's the -- that's the only way right now. And not only stopping it at the source but pulling carbon out of the sea and sky. Carbon removal is going to be the biggest industry you've never heard of as people come to grips with the enormity of this.

But to put this in perspective, Antarctica was discovered almost 40 years after the planet Uranus. It's so remote, it's so harsh we're just now really understanding it. But when they send these robots that look like torpedoes under these big ice shelves, like the Thwaites, and see that they're hanging on by fingernails, we've really got to pay attention to something that seems too far away.

LEMON: Bill, you're so right. I mean, you look at our planet -- it's just so beautiful but yet so fragile. And I watch all these documentaries about space and the planets and whatever and it's -- we live in such a unique, wonderful place that we've got to do something that -- to preserve it to keep it that way. Mr. Bill Weir --

WEIR: Amen.

LEMON: Yes, that's a good answer. Look how beautiful that is.

Bill, thank you.


All right, coming up, a rare demonstration of unity across the aisle in Congress last night as lawmakers warned of the threat posed by China as the House select committee on China held its first hearing. Congressman Seth Moulton is one of those lawmakers and he's here next.



HARLOW: Welcome back.

Last night, bipartisan lawmakers warned of the threat posed by the Chinese Communist Party during the first hearing of the House select committee on China. It was really a rare demonstration of unity across the aisle in Congress -- in an increasingly divided Congress on partisan lines.

Listen to this.


REP. MIKE GALLAGHER (R-WI): This is an existential struggle over what life will look like in the 21st century, and the most fundamental freedoms are at stake.

REP. SETH MOULTON (D-MA): Like Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping seems to believe his own propaganda. So how do we make our powerful deterrent believable to Xi and the Chinese Communist Party so that they don't draw us into war?


HARLOW: This hearing comes amid really increasing tension between China and the West -- the spy balloon incident, U.S. warnings that China is considering lethal aid to Putin's army, and escalating standoffs over Taiwan -- and those are just a few, by the way.

So let's talk about this with the man you just heard from, House select committee member on China, Democratic Congressman Seth Moulton of Massachusetts. Congressman Moulton, thank you very much.

And I was --

MOULTON: Good to see you, Poppy.

HARLOW: -- struck -- good to see you, too -- struck by the hearing last night, particularly when you asked H.R. McMaster, President Trump's former national security advisor, this. Quote, "How do we make our powerful deterrent believable to Xi [President Xi] so they don't draw us into war?"

What were you saying? Do you think war with China is possible in the next few years -- probable?

MOULTON: Absolutely. I mean, Xi Jinping has said that he wants to take back Taiwan and we have made it very clear -- the president has said that we don't want that to happen.


And the problem is that when we look at all the success we've had in Europe with Ukraine -- I mean, no one imagined the Ukrainians would be doing this well. No one imagined that NATO would be this strong, standing united against the Russian threat.

Despite all that success, we have to admit that deterrents failed. That we weren't able to prevent a war in Europe before it started. We can't afford to let deterrents fail in the Pacific.

I mean, we could wake up one morning, Poppy, and see two American aircraft carriers at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean, thousands of young Americans under the sea.

So we can't let that happen. We've got to understand how to make sure that we not only have a strong deterrent in the Pacific but that Xi believes it. You know, he does believe his own propaganda and we can't have him make the same miscalculation as his autocratic brother Vladimir Putin and think that the Americans and the West are not going to be united to stop it.

HARLOW: Just to be very clear for the American people, Congressman, I said two things. I said possible and then I said probable. Do you think U.S. war with China -- you know, sparked by Taiwan -- sparked because of a potential invasion of Taiwan is probable in the next several years?

MOULTON: I -- it's certainly possible but I don't think it's probable because --


MOULTON: -- our deterrent is so strong. But again, we've got to make that clear not just to us -- it's not just about whether we believe that we can resist the Chinese and their -- and their aggression, but that the Chinese Communist Party believes this as well, and they don't just believe their own rhetoric.

HARLOW: Well, one of the things that I'm going to be watching closely as this committee does its work is the private sector. Because we heard your -- the chairman of the committee, Congressman Mike Gallagher, tells CBS on Sunday that the committee is, quote, "...hoping to have a conversation first with the NBA, with Disney, and other companies." Do you plan on calling in NBA commissioner Adam Silver, for example, Disney CEO Bob Iger? And you have subpoena power so you could subpoena CEOs if needed.

MOULTON: Well, we haven't made specific decisions on individuals.

But the point is that this is a broad threat. The Chinese Communist Party is not just a military threat to the United States and our allies. They're an economic threat. They're a threat to their own people. I mean, they're committing genocide against some of their citizens and repressing every one of the rest. Repressing Chinese citizens even overseas, even here in America.

So this is a very broad threat. And the mandate of this committee is to look at all aspects of competition between the Chinese Communist Party and the United States. So we're certainly going to get into these economic issues and there's a lot of work to do there. These are tricky things because our economies are intertwined. But the threat is real and we have to address it.

HARLOW: Well, let me move on to something else we've been covering all morning -- the revelations from Rupert Murdoch's deposition in the Dominion lawsuit against Fox News.

What I think is so interesting is that you are someone who has gone on and continued to go on Fox News for interviews. You've written op-eds for them. You continue to do so since the 2020 election. President Biden has not once appeared on Fox News since he became president.

I wonder if these revelations in this lawsuit change your view of appearing on that network.

MOULTON: It doesn't change my view of Fox, frankly. I think that nobody should be surprised that they don't believe their own -- the things that they are saying themselves. I mean, that's what this lawsuit has revealed, right, that you have people like Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity spouting Trump's lies and privately saying of course they're not true.

But the reality is for us -- I mean, I represent everybody in my district in Massachusetts -- Democrats, Republicans, Trump supporters, Biden supporters, and people who don't even vote. And so I think it's important to speak to all of them and that's why I'll continue going on Fox. I think I'm on CNN more, though.

HARLOW: Well look, you say I know what they are but I'm still going because I want people to hear what I have to say.

So let's move on from this. One of the reasons you're here this morning is what you and Congressman Clyburn have reintroduced, and this is legislation to provide Black World War II veterans and their descendants with really long overdue G.I. bill benefits. Benefits that were not shared equally -- that they did not get in the way their white counterparts did.

You didn't get it through last time. What are the prospects now, and why are you doing this?

MOULTON: Well, the amazing thing about this legislation, which just simply restores the G.I. bill benefits that were promised and were earned -- promised to these veterans and earned by them for fighting in World War II -- no matter who I talk to they think this is a good idea. It doesn't matter if you're an ultraconservative, Republican, Democrat, far-left, or far-right, we all know that this is the right thing to do.

And as a veteran who literally would not be standing here in the Capitol today without the G.I. bill, I'm just shocked that so many Black Americans were denied this benefit they had earned.


Listen to this, Poppy. In northern New Jersey and New York -- in the area where your studio is --


MOULTON: -- in 1947, there were 67,000 home loans issued to U.S. veterans -- 67,000. Out of those 67,000, 100 went to Black veterans.


MOULTON: And buying a home or getting a college education -- those are the two most important ways to earn generational wealth in America.


MOULTON: So we owe it not just to these veterans but to their families to do the right thing. And as a veteran myself, it might not be my generation's fault that this happened but it is absolutely my generation's opportunity to fix it.

HARLOW: We really appreciate your time. Thank you for that. And thank you for your service to this country, Congressman.

MOULTON: Thank you, Poppy.

HARLOW: Thank you . Don.

LEMON: OK, so check your clock right now -- your watch, your phone, however you look at the time. In the amount of time between now and the top of the hour -- right -- not far away -- you could heat up some oatmeal, you could maybe take a quick shower, or you could do something that lowers your risk of heart disease and cancer -- hmm. Dr. Sanjay Gupta will tell us what it is. That's next.






LEMON: Lynyrd Skynyrd? Really?

HARLOW: My favorite band.

LEMON: I love Lynyrd Skynyrd. "Free Bird," right -- a song that is nearly 11 minutes long. Songs used to be a lot longer, though.

So what's important about 11 minutes, right? A new study finds that if you spend that time -- that same amount of time doing moderate exercise that you're going to live longer -- a lot longer than 11 more minutes.

Our chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins us now. So, Sanjay, just so -- we went to the break. It was like four minutes ago and this will be like four-five minutes or whatever. So in the time that we went to the break and did this segment people would have -- you would have been done and you would have had some really -- it would have been beneficial to your health. Tell us about it.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, this is really interesting. Oftentimes when we look at these exercise studies they're sort of presented in binary terms, meaning if you do this amount of exercise that's the sweet spot. That's what you need to do to get the health benefits.

What this study really tried to do was say hey, look, let's not think about this in such strict terms and figure out how much benefit you get from lower amounts of exercise or shorter amounts of exercise and movement. So I thought that was pretty interesting.

And I'll show you these results but I'll preface by saying it's a big metanalysis. Some 30 million people were sort of analyzed over 10 years and they were looking at moderate forms of exercise like the kinds you see on the screen there. Walking fast, water aerobics, doubles tennis, pushing a lawn mower.

Think of it as a type of exercise that gets you breathless enough where you can still talk but you can no longer sing, for example. Now, that's the way they sort of -- they put it to -- how they analyze these types of movements.

Here is what they found. They broke this down -- again, 150 minutes a week is what the recommendations are. That's what you're going to hear from just about every major medical organization. They said well, what about half of that -- 75 minutes a week? And on the other side double that -- 300 minutes.

And for all cause mortality you can see the numbers there. There's a 31 percent reduction with the sweet spot -- 150 minutes. But you've still got 23 percent reduction with half that time. By the way, as you look at these numbers keep in mind what medication can do that -- can give you that sort of benefit? So mortality is one thing. Heart disease -- cardiovascular disease is

another thing. And again, we looked at sort of comparing those numbers and you do find, again, that 150 minutes give you 27 percent -- significant. But 75 minutes, 17 percent.

And the final thing was cancer and they looked again at the benefits comparing these different lengths of time. And look, it's not as good when you're -- when you have less movement. That is clear. But there is still significant benefit. And I think that's what these researchers wanted to get across.

HARLOW: Is there a -- is there sort of a breaking point, Sanjay, where it's just not worth it if you go over 300 minutes?


LEMON: I like that part.

GUPTA: Yes, it's interesting because there is a point where I would say it's the law of diminishing returns. It's not necessarily a break point where you're going to start to veer the curve in the other direction. But I think we put this together for you anticipating this question.

But if you see -- if you look at this curve, what this curve basically means is risk is your y-axis and you can see risk goes down pretty significantly right away as you start to move. But overall, as you start to move more and more -- that's going to the right on the screen -- your risk of all these different types of health maladies -- it may drop a little bit but not as much.

What is that sweet spot? That's about 300 minutes a week, so roughly five hours a week of exercise. Of movement the way that we described it you're not going to get much benefit in terms of these health things. It doesn't mean it's going to hurt you but not necessarily more benefit in terms of reducing those particular risk factors.

COLLINS: And Sanjay, there are a lot of people who work out for physical benefits but a lot of other people do it for the mental benefit -- for what it does for their brain.


COLLINS: So what did this study see about the real changes that you can see from doing that?

GUPTA: You know, Kaitlan, as a brain guy, I love this question and I find the answer a bit counterintuitive, so this will surprise people.

Look, any kind of movement -- intense, brisk, whatever movement -- is obviously good for your body and it also helps produce something that is none as BDNF, which is this neurotrophic factor which can help your neurons grow and all these different things.

What they find, interestingly, though is with intense activity you also make a lot of cortisol, a stress hormone. [08:00:00]