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EU Leaders Meet In Versailles Amid Ukraine Crisis; Biden To Announce New Actions Against Russia; Russian Airstrikes Hit Three More Ukrainian Cities; Biden Delivers Remarks On Actions To Hold Russia Accountable; Concerns Grow Over Ukraine's Nuclear Power Plants; Foreign Students In Ukraine Finding Relief After Russian Attacks; Ukrainians Fleeing Russian Attacks Pour Into Romania; Aired 10-11a ET

Aired March 11, 2022 - 10:00   ET



URSULA VON DER LEYEN, EUROPEAN COMMISSION PRESIDENT: Find a home here and can get on to try to accommodate in the European Uinon. What the second

question is concerned, indeed I want to underline that it has proven right that we first define the priorities and the necessities to invest in them.

And I want to recall that from the beginning of our mandate, we have defined three priorities. It's the European green deal, it is

digitalization, and it is resilience.

And throughout the pandemic as well as now throughout this time of war that Russia is unleashing, they have proven to be the right priorities. The

European green deal is absolutely necessary if we want to get independent of fossil fuels mainly supplied by Russia. The digitalization is of utmost

importance to modernize our economy, which proves now to be the leverage against Russia's war machine.

And resilience, of course defense is a subtitle of resilience. And it is important as the president said that we look at all different tools we can

then activate to make it possible that we advance in our priorities. This is, on the one hand, the European level, and there is as well as the

European budget as, for example, the next generation E.U., it is the national level, but we should also not forget the private level.

And a good example how to activate all three levels and make the projects advance is now, for example, our Chips Act concerning the semiconductors.

Here we push forward a crucial topic that goes for the digitalization as well as resilience, that is our independence, with European investment and

national investment and triggering private investment.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you. Angela from "Huffington Post," you have the last question.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. Thanks, Borrell. Two quick questions. What do you reply to Mr. Zelenskyy who is saying that he's disappointed from the

declaration of Versailles? He asked Europe to do more and he says it's not enough. And then I wanted to know when you say you're preparing another

package of sanctions and you're ready to do everything else that is on the table, is it on the table -- an embargo of petrol and gas from Russia is on

the table or the exclusion of (INAUDIBLE) Gazprom Bank from SWIFT is on the table as well? Thanks.

EMMANUEL MACRON, FRANCE PRESIDENT (through translator): As regard to your first question, let me say once again that with a great deal of respect and

consideration for President Zelenskyy and his citizens who are fighting, the political message that the European Union sent from Versailles

yesterday is a clear message.

We played the Ukrainian national anthem here, and we sent a very clear political message. Now, it's not a legal process for the reasons I've

already cited in answer to your colleague's questions, and also President Michel and President von der Leyen as well. Now I fully understand that

when involved in battles so courageously as the Ukrainians are, at the same time as last week when there was request for a no-fly zone, obviously much

more is wanted.

But we are not parties to the conflict. Let me say that we are determined to do everything useful to bring about an end to the conflict and peace can

come back to Ukraine. The European path is a clear one for Ukraine. We've made that point very clearly. Secondly, our desire to continue to support

Ukraine and the Ukrainians is clear, and we've demonstrated it. We've taken decision on this. Thirdly, we're willing to sanction, sanction beyond what

has already been done.

So nothing from what you mentioned is off the table. I preserve the strategic ambiguity because I think it's good, I think it's beneficial to

us. Additional decisions will be taken following the G7 that will be limited. But if Russia, notwithstanding what it says, notwithstanding

President Putin saying I believe in discussions, negotiations, things are moving forward, I see that things are changing.

In a few hours' time we'll be talking with President Putin again together with Chancellor Scholz. If despite that he steps up the bombing, he puts

Kyiv under siege, then we know that further massive sanctions will have to be taken by us.


The message I want to put across to you here is that in that case nothing is off the table. Nothing is to boot. We will do whatever we deem to be

effective and useful to halt Russia in its aggression.

CHARLES MICHEL, EUROPEAN COUNCIL PRESIDENT (through translator): Let me also say that as regard to different package of the sanctions, each time

around we've been able to bring things together very quickly whenever necessary and to act on necessary, and yesterday evening's meeting

demonstrated this again the ability to work as Europeans, to work with our partners to prepare things together. Now we can see the impact of these

sanctions. They're having a real effect.

And we're going to continue to assess the situation so that we can take the right decisions at the right time in order to bring about a change in the

Kremlin's position and bring it to a state of mind that will make it possible we hope for there to be a ceasefire and a cessation of (INAUDIBLE)

as quick as possible.

Thank you very much. Thank you, Presidents. Thank you, ladies and gentlemen.

BECKY ANDERSON, CNN ANCHOR: Well, you've been listening to the European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen speaking along E.U. Council

president Charles Michel and the French president Emmanuel Macron.

This is of course following the Versailles Leaders' Summit on Ukraine. And this is what we heard. The European Union will come up with a proposal by

mid-May to phase out dependence on Russian energy by 2027. Von der Leyen also added that by the end of March the commission will present, and I

quote her here, "options" to limit the contagion effects of the rise of gas prices to electricity prices.

And the E.U. plans to set up a task force that will design a refilling plan, as she called it, for the next winter. The European Union, she said,

needs to define a longer-term E.U. gas storage policy. And therefore the commission will table a proposal to fill up underground gas storage to at

least 90 percent by the first of October each year. And she explained that. She said this will be our insurance policy against supply disruption.

Well, earlier this week the E.U. said it will cut Russian gas imports by two-thirds this year and eliminate its overall need for Russian gas and oil

well before 2030.

And just a couple of other things. Emmanuel Macron said Russia's invasion of Ukraine is a tragic turning point in our history. He also talked about a

more sovereign and independent Europe in reaction to the war.

It does appear a Versailles strategy is emerging for Europe. And I want to discuss that with Melissa Bell, who is standing by in Paris. We are also

waiting to hear from President Biden who is expected to speak in the next hour. He is expected to announce the U.S. is revoking Russia's most favored

nation status along with the Europeans and other G7 nations, and that, folks, would allow these countries to impose higher tariffs on Russia.

Look, let's bring in Melissa Bell, she's in Paris. And I have to say I'm also joined by Anna Stewart, who is in London. And we're going to talk

about what we heard and what the likely consequences are.

So let me start with you, Melissa, because you've been listening in intently to what was said there, the back end of this Versailles summit.

What did you make of what you heard?

MELISSA BELL, CNN PARIS CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, this was the first summit under the French rotating presidency, Becky, and we know that

Emmanuel Macron has been pushing for a far stronger, a far more united, a far more federalist Europe for some time. And I think what (INAUDIBLE) here

in the palace behind me over the course of the last couple of days has gone in exactly that direction.

I mean, you'll remember that you and I were talking last summer about that Hamiltonian moment when Europe had finally decided that it was going to

come together and be able for the first time to be able to raise debt as a block in order to deal with the fallout of the coronavirus crisis. Some of

those funds still untouched. Essentially what we were just hearing there from the president of the European Commission, the president of the

European Council and the French president is that that spirit is going to be continued.

Some of those funds are going to be redirected. The idea of being able to function together as a bloc to deal with macro-economic shocks borne last

summer is going to continue now to try and help a deal with that energy crisis, to try and help a deal with the fallout of its independence on

Russian energy. Of course it's going to try and lessen it, but in the meantime it's going to act together macro-economically in a way that it

hadn't before to try and deal with those shocks. That is a big deal for Europe in the way that it functions.

And for some of those who are very reluctant for that to happen last summer, Emmanuel Macron essentially has managed to take that one step

further taking this crisis and really turning it into an opportunity.

Then, of course, there is the question of Ukrainian accession. We heard it very clearly from Emmanuel Macron. He imagines that whilst Europe will be

ever more united and able to deal more properly, Becky, politically, militarily, not just economically as it had in the past, diplomatically as

well, he believes it will grow, it will be bigger, it will include countries like Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia, those countries that have

hoped to become European candidates.

It may take a while, but really very much the signal here was that Ukraine belongs within the European fold. And I think that's a pretty strong

message to send. Essentially the Europeans feel that they've done pretty well these last few weeks. They're dealing swiftly, then putting sanctions

on Russia. Dealing swiftly with helping those more than 2.5 million refugees now that have come across the border into Europe.

And what they want to do is build on that unity, build on that strength to widen the European Union but also to make it act more strongly, Becky.

ANDERSON: I think this is absolutely fascinating. You're right. I mean, out of what has been an incredibly difficult and, you know, very distressing

period of time. So you suggest that there is an opportunity here for Emmanuel Macron, as he talks about this more sovereign and independent

Europe in reaction to this war, as I say, a Versailles strategy emerging here, and we will talk about that I know, Melissa, in the weeks to come.

Meantime, let's specifically hone in on what was said today on the economic front, Anna. And we are, as I reminded our viewers, waiting to hear from

Joe Biden. And we do expect to hear that he is revoking the most favored nation status for Russia. Now this is -- you know, you could call this

technical, but let's be quite clear. I mean, there is an intention here to continue to rachet up the effort to isolate Russia from the global

community, the global economy here. And we expect to see the E.U. and other G7 members follow. What does this mean effectively?

ANNA STEWART, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And I think that will be critical actually making sure that other allies do follow the big G7 nations, the E.U., that

is Russia's biggest trading partner. And we expect this announcement to come shortly from the White House and then other allies to follow. And what

it means in real terms, if this were to be enacted, is effectively Russia could pay dearly to trade with some of these trade partners.

They could ratchet up tariffs much higher, for instance, than you see on the WTO, the World Trade Organization. Also symbolically effectively this

is as close as you'll probably get to ejecting Russia from the World Trade Organization. It's incredibly difficult to do. There are some 164 members

of the WTO. And there's actually no process to enact that, to eject a member out of it. Russia spent 19 years trying to join it.

And reading into Reuters, in fact, to create an ejection process would take a two-thirds majority of that 164 membership and then a three-quarter

majority to actually enact it, and so on and so on. By big economies from the G7, the E.U., by them unilaterally making this move, they're

effectively giving the same sort of feel. And for Russia, it will be very interesting. I would say some of the other big trade partners of Russia

include the likes of China and Turkey. I don't expect they would follow suit.

ANDERSON: Well, fascinating times. Thank you both for the time being.

And, as I said, folks, we are scheduled to hear from Joe Biden pretty much any time now. Stay with CNN. Of course, you'll get that here first.

All of these measures in response to Russia expanding its invasion of Ukraine, targeting cities in central and western areas of that country that

have, until now, largely avoided bloodshed. This video showing the aftermath of an attack on a shoe factory in Dnipro. One person reported

killed there. Ukraine's Emergency Service also reporting airstrikes hit near a preschool and apartment building. More evidence Russia is

indiscriminately if not deliberately targeting civilian areas.

Well, Ivano-Frankivsk in western Ukraine and Lutsk in the northwest also under attack today. And in other cities that have faced relentless

airstrikes for more than two weeks now, there are, I'm afraid, some grim updates. In Chernihiv, the bombed-out rubble of a football stadium hit

during a strike, a nearby library also badly damaged. The mayor of Kharkiv today describing merciless shelling in many houses without heat in freezing

temperatures. He says Russian bombs have destroyed 48 schools there.

Outside Kyiv, a sign that Russian ground forces are regrouping.


Satellite photo showed the big convoy seen early in the invasion has largely dispersed, apparently taking cover under trees. A U.S. Defense

official says Russian forces are now within 15 kilometers of the capital.

And we'll be live on the ground with Sam Kiley in Dnipro in a few minutes. I want to bring up before that, and while we're waiting for Sam to get set

up, retired U.S. General Philip Breedlove, the former Supreme Allied commander of NATO and distinguished chair at the Middle East Institute.

Sir, the Russian assault seems to be accelerating. The pace is rapid. It is targeting Dnipro where Sam Kiley is and areas in the west and the convoy to

the north of Kyiv does now appear to be dispersed and redeployed. What do you make of the shift that we have seen in the last 24 hours?

GEN. PHILIP BREEDLOVE, FORMER NATO SUPREME ALLIED COMMANDER: Well, thanks for having me on. And Russia's dedicated to this attack. They have finally

organized themselves in the north. They first split into two columns, and now, as you have said, are dispersing even further. And they are

approaching Kyiv, which of course is now the main thrust of Russia's push.

They are a bit frustrated still, though, in that they want to try to fight the Ukrainian military force on force, in a battle. But what the Ukrainians

are giving them are some wonderfully expertly laid traps, as you saw yesterday, where a tank battalion came under pretty intense fire from some

of the antitank weaponry that has been supplied. So this won't be easy for them.

ANDERSON: We've also seen reports of Russia intending to or certainly considering sending in foreign fighters. And it does seem that that's

something that Vladimir Putin is encouraging or signing up to at this point. Now, these are just reports. How could that change the theater of

war here?

BREEDLOVE: Well, he's already used foreign fighters. There was almost an entire battalion of Chechens taken off the battlefield by another expert

attack by the Ukrainians. So he is now showing a bit of, if you'll allow, some desperation in that the attack is not going as fast as he wants it to.

And so two big changes in his tactics. First, as you have mentioned, he is now taking the war to the people of Ukraine because he can't find and fight

in the open the Ukrainian military. He is now indiscriminately taking the war to the populace.

And then, secondary, as you mentioned, he has suffered losses. The numbers out there right now are not right on either side. We'll sort that out

later. But suffice to say, Russia has taken a lot of losses. And now they're looking to help by bringing in these foreign fighters.

ANDERSON: You were one of 27 foreign policy experts that signed a letter to the U.S. president Joe Biden calling for a no-fly zone. Now I asked the

president of the European Council Charles Michel after this invasion began if, and if at any point NATO would enforce a no-fly zone. And this is

something President Zelenskyy has not given up asking for. Have a listen to what Charles Michel told me a week or so ago.


MICHEL: We understand that for the members of NATO and this decision needs to be taken not by the E.U. but by NATO. That for NATO and for important

members of NATO, this would be one step too far. (INAUDIBLE), it's a real risk of escalation, it's a real risk of a possible third international war.

And we don't want this (INAUDIBLE).


ANDERSON: And his words echoed by the NATO secretary-general a number of times. Now, the fears of escalation are obviously and understandably,

perhaps, a genuine concern amongst NATO partners. So why is it that you and 26 others are so intent on pushing for that?

BREEDLOVE: Well, it's much more than 26 now. And let me be complementary of the things that NATO is doing. I mean, all the efforts that they're making

to shore up NATO nations is important. And it's sending a message. And I think is appropriate because of the adventuresomeness of Mr. Putin.


And so I say the following without being accusatory but simply stating fact. We in the West are completely deterred right now. Mr. Putin has

deterred us. His threats of nuclear things have brought an effect which he hoped for and I believe he's happy in the way it has happened. We are

deterred from taking actions directly to support Ukraine. Rather, we continue to bolster NATO defenses again, which is right and proper.

And so now what we need to do is to figure out how to work through this deterrence. What are the options that we can take? We gave Mr. Putin the

initiative. We were in a passive deterrent mode. We kept saying if he does this, then we'll do this. That is deterrent. But it is passive deterrence.

And so now we need to look to a more active deterrent state.

ANDERSON: I want to play an exchange for you between our chief White House correspondent and the spokeswoman of the White House. White House refusing

to lay out any red lines in this conflict. We are expecting to hear an announcement from Joe Biden in just a few minutes' time. We've been talking

about that. And, once again, these are ratcheting up the economic sanctions against him and Russia.

What you're saying is that an active deterrence is now needed because, to date, nothing has stopped President Putin. What does that active deterrence

look like, sir?

BREEDLOVE: Well, we're putting lots of options on the table for the deciders to decide. And we've already put a now limited no-fly zone on the

table because it was clear that a more military no-fly zone was not applicable or wouldn't be accepted by the Western nation. So now, as we see

Mr. Putin stepping up his attacks directly and purposely on the people of Ukraine, what can we possibly do in a humanitarian no-fly zone, a more

limited and less bellicose attempt at trying to help protect those in the most need?

And I remind that in several of the attempts to do humanitarian corridors, Russia has used those corridors to attack the people in need in the open.

And so I think we need to begin to look at the ways that we can more actively protect those who are in the worst need in Ukraine today.

ANDERSON: Good to have you on, sir. Your analysis is extremely important. Thank you.

Well, coming up, CNN joins a NATO flight that tracks Russian activity in Belarus. That is just ahead.



ANDERSON: Let's return to those Russian airstrikes across Ukraine. I want to hone in on one area and bring in Sam Kiley from Dnipro, one of the

cities targeted in what is, Sam, an expanding Russian air assault. What are you seeing and hearing?

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So, Becky, at about around 6:00 in the morning just before dawn, three strikes from the air,

either missiles, surface-to-surface missiles or missiles dropped from an aircraft. Now there was a kindergarten that was damaged by a missile that

landed about 200 or 300 meters away. Some apartment building -- and apartment building with eight flats in it was pretty badly damaged. And a

shoe factory was struck. That caught fire, and one person was killed in that shoe factory strike. The overnight caretaker or watchman.

Now, in and of themselves in comparison to what we've seen going on in Kharkiv, which is about 100 miles north of here or in Kyiv, indeed, where

profligate levels of missiles have been fired in civilian areas quite obviously and deliberately intended to intimidate the civilian population.

This is the first time this city in the middle of the country has been hit in these expanded, as you say, operations -- excuse me -- by the Russian

air forces with all their missile forces.

And I think that this is highly significant because the nearest Russian ground troops are about 100 miles from here to the south. They have already

encircled Mariupol. They're continuing to strike civilian targets in there. We saw obviously a hospital, a maternity hospital was hit two days ago also

by a bomb or a missile. Clearly they're using the skies and these long- range missiles to try to continue to intimidate new populations now with these attacks on Dnipro and further west into the country over close to the

border with Poland, two airfields. Both in the northwest and north-south were hit.

Those are more obvious targets in terms of trying to prevent resupply to the Ukrainians out of Western Europe. But this attack here in Dnipro is

clearly intended to frighten civilians if not kill them in significant quantities. Luckily, only one, I say only, it's not any good fortune for

that individual or his family, but there was one person killed here, two people killed in the western strikes, Becky.

ANDERSON: Sam Kiley's on the ground for you. Sam, thank you.

Still ahead, NATO says Russia is using Belarus as a launching point for its fighter jets. CNN gets on board a surveillance flight that detects Russian-

made war planes entering Ukrainian air space. That is coming up.

Plus, concerns growing about Ukraine's nuclear power plants taken over by Russian troops. More on that after this.



ANDERSON: I'm Becky Anderson in Abu Dhabi, following Russia's intense firing attacks, and they are intensifying as its invasion of Ukraine

continues. Well, as the fighting escalates in several cities across the country, Russia's president says there have been, quote, "certain positive

advances in negotiations with Kyiv," but he did not clarify what exactly that means.

Now he made the remarks earlier today while meeting with the Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko in Moscow. According to NATO intelligence,

Russia has been using Belarus as a launching point for the vast majority of its fighter jets entering Ukrainian air space.

Well, CNN's Natasha Bertrand was on that NATO surveillance flight monitoring Russia's movements yesterday. She joins us now from Brussels.

What did you find?

NATASHA BERTRAND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Becky. So we were on this surveillance flight that was flying over the Polish-Ukrainian border.

And it was monitoring Ukrainian air space trying to see the Russian activity and of course trying to ensure that no Russian jets got a little

bit too close to that NATO air space.

Now what we're told aboard that plane by the NATO airmen is that over the last several weeks they have seen many, many Russian-made jets taking off

from Belarus and entering Ukrainian air space ostensibly in an effort to support those Russian military operations there against the Ukrainians.

Now, interestingly --

ANDERSON: Natasha, I'm going to stop you there because Joe Biden is just about to speak. Let's listen in.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: -- each and every time we've spoken the United States stands with the people of Ukraine and as they

bravely fight to defend their country, and they are doing that.

As Putin continues his merciless assault, the United States and our allies and partners continue to work in lockstep to ramp up the economic pressures

on Putin and to further isolate Russia on the global stage. Later today, together with other NATO allies and the G7, Canada, France, Germany, Italy,

Japan, the United Kingdom as well as European Union, we're going to jointly announce several new steps to squeeze Putin and hold him even more

accountable for his aggression against Ukraine.

And I want to speak to a few of those points today. First, each of our nation is going to take steps to deny most favored nation status to Russia.

The most favored nation status designation means two countries have agreed to trade with each other under the best possible terms. Low tariffs, few

barriers of trade, and the highest possible imports allowed. In the United States, we call this permanent normal trade relations, PNTR. But it's the

same thing.

Revoking PNTR for Russia is going to make it harder for Russia to do business with the United States and doing it in unison with other nations

who make up half of the global economy will be another crushing blow to the aggression. The economy that's already suffering very badly from our


And I want to thank Speaker Pelosi, Leader McCarthy, Leader Schumer and McConnell, and Senators Wyden and Crapo, Representatives Neal and Brady,

for their bipartisan leadership on this in the Congress. I would like to offer a special thanks to Speaker Pelosi who's been a strong advocate for

revoking PNTR and who agreed to hold off on that in the House until I could line up all of our key allies to keep us in complete unison.

Unity among our allies is critically important, as you all know, from my perspective, at least. Many issues divide us in Washington, but standing

for democracy in Ukraine, pushing Russia's aggression should not be one of those issues. The free world is coming together to confront Putin. Our two

parties here at home are leading the way. And with that bipartisan cooperation, I'm looking forward to signing into law the bill revoking

PNTR, which is, again, most people think of it as most favored nations status.

We're also taking a further step for banning imports of goods from several signature sectors of the Russian economy, including seafoods, vodka, and

diamonds. And we're going to continue to squeeze Putin. The G7 will seek to deny Russia the ability to borrow from leading multinational institutions,

such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. Putin is an aggressor. He is the aggressor.


And Putin must pay the price. He cannot pursue a war that threatens the very foundations, which he's doing, the very foundations of international

peace and stability and then ask for financial help from the international community.

The G7 is also stepping up pressure on corrupt Russian billionaires. We're adding new names to the list of oligarchs and their families that we're

targeting. And we're increasing coordination among the G7 countries to target and capture their ill-begotten gains. They support Putin. They steal

from the Russian people. And they seek to hide their money in our countries. They're part of that kleptocracy that exists in Moscow. And they

must share in the pain of these sanctions.

And while we're going after these -- their superyachts and their vacation homes that worth hundreds of millions of dollars, we're also going to make

it harder for them to buy high-end products manufactured in our country. We're banning the export of luxury goods to Russia. They're also the latest

steps we're taking, but they're not the last steps we're going to take.

And as I said at the beginning of all of these steps, we're going to hit Putin harder because the United States and our closest allies and partners

are acting in unison. The totality of our sanctions and export controls is crushing the Russian economy. The ruble has lost more than half its value.

They tell me it takes about 200 rubles to equal 1 dollar these days. The Moscow Stock Exchange has been closed for two weeks because they know the

moment it opens, it will probably collapse.

Credit rating agencies has downgraded Russia's government to junk status. Its economy to junk status. The list of businesses and international

corporations leaving Russia is growing by the day. We're also continuing the close cooperation with allies and partners to make sure that the close

cooperation we continue to have, the Ukrainian people are able to defend their own nation.

The United States has sent more than $1 billion in security assistance to Ukraine over the last year, including anti-armor and anti-air capabilities,

taking out tanks and planes and helicopters with new shipments arriving every day. We, the United States, are also facilitating significant

shipments of security assistance from our allies and partners to Ukraine. And on the humanitarian front, we're working closely with the U.N. and

humanitarian organizations to support the people of Ukraine who have been displaced by the violence in Ukraine.

We're providing tens of thousands of tons of human supplies -- excuse me, humanitarian supplies, food, water, medicines, coming via truck and train

every single day. Yesterday in Poland, Vice President Harris announced an additional $53 million in additional humanitarian support to Ukraine. That

brings the total humanitarian assistance to $107 million in just two weeks.

We've joined in this effort by more -- with more than 30 other countries who are providing hundreds of millions more. And last night, to their great

credit, the Congress passed a bipartisan spending bill that included an additional $13.6 billion in new assistance to the Ukrainian people. And I

look forward to signing that immediately.

And I also want to be clear, though. We will make sure Ukraine has weapons to defend against an invading Russian force. We will, we will send money

and food and aid to save the Ukrainian people. And I will welcome Ukrainian refugees. We should welcome them here with open arms if they need access.

And we're going to provide more support for Ukraine.

We're going to continue to stand together with our allies in Europe and send an unmistakable message. We'll defend every single inch of NATO

territory with the full might of the united and galvanized NATO. We will not fight a war against Russia in Ukraine. Direct confrontation between

NATO and Russia is World War III, something we must strive to prevent. But we already know Putin's war against Ukraine will never be a victory.

He hoped to dominate Ukraine without a fight. He failed. He hoped to fracture European resolve. He failed. He hoped to weaken the Transatlantic

Alliance. He failed. He hoped to split apart American democracies in terms of our positions. He failed. The American people are united. The world is

united. And we stand with the people of Ukraine. We will not let autocrats and would-be emperors dictate the direction of the world.

Democracies are rising to meet this moment, rallying the world to the side of peace and the side of security. We're showing our strength, and we will

not falter.


God bless all of you. God bless Ukraine. And God bless our troops.


ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: President Biden, your White House has said that Russia may use chemical weapons or create a false-flag

operation to use them. What evidence have you seen showing that? And would the U.S. have a military response if Putin does launch a chemical weapons


BIDEN: I'm not going to speak about the intelligence. But Russia would pay a severe price if they used chemical weapons.


ANDERSON: Well, it was Joe Biden announcing that in unison with other nations. The White House will revoke what's known as most favored nation

status or PNTR. That effectively makes it punitively expensive for Russia to do business with other countries around the world by, for example

withdrawing the benefit of low tariffs on trade.

He also said the U.S. will be banning more Russian goods. He said that Russia will find it harder to borrow from international institutions. And

he explained it this way. He said that Putin is the aggressor and that he must pay the price. He was emphatic about the increasing coordination

between the U.S. and other G7 members to, as he described it, seek out the ill-begotten gains of the kleptocracy that surrounds Vladimir Putin in


And he says, and I quote in here, "While we are going after their houses and their yachts, we're also banning the export of luxury goods to Russia

as well. The U.S. is, he said, acting in unison with others to crush the Russian economy. $13.6 billion, big number, that is the amount of extra

assistance to Ukraine from the U.S., which had bipartisan support from Congress, as it was pushed through on the hill yesterday. And he said we

will defend every inch of NATO territory. He said, though, we will not fight a war in Ukraine. Putin's war, he said, will not be a victory.

Anna Stewart joining us from London. Natasha Bertrand is standing by in Brussels.

We will defend every inch of NATO territory. We will not, he said, fight a war in Ukraine. So, standing by this principle that NATO continues to act

in what was described to me just earlier this hour in a passive defensive situation. There will be, it seems, no-fly zone and no intervention by NATO

countries. That won't be a surprise that we heard that -- Natasha.

BERTRAND: No. This is a message that they have trying to send consistently over the last several weeks, that NATO and U.S. forces are not going to

enter the conflict, but they are going to do everything they can to support Ukraine as well as those eastern flank NATO allies who of course feel very

threatened right now by Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Obviously we saw that the U.S. has been sending additional air defense systems to those eastern flank countries as well as reinforcing troops

there, sending about 500 additional troops to those countries over the last week or so. Vice President Kamala Harris, of course, was in Poland

yesterday reiterating this as well. The Secretary of State Antony Blinken also in Eastern Europe last week.

And there's just been a flurry of kind of diplomatic activity between the U.S. and NATO and those eastern flank countries to reinforce this idea that

if Putin were to go further west, if he were to try to make a move on NATO, then that would be of course a red line that would invoke that Article 5

commitment to protect those countries and that of course is what they are trying to avoid at all costs.

They have been saying repeatedly that their responsibility they believe is to make this conflict contained to Ukraine and to ensure it does not spill

out over into the rest of Europe.

ANDERSON: His skeptics -- thank you. His skeptics suggested at the beginning of all of this, Anna, that Joe Biden couldn't do enough with

economic sanctions, there wouldn't be enough, and he wouldn't get the unity to really make a difference. Well, I mean, the war continues, certainly

these economic sanctions haven't stopped the Russian invasion. But we keep seeing the raising of the bar, don't we?

And today the revoking of most favored nation status, which effectively means it is becoming increasingly difficult for Russia to do business with

and around the world.

STEWART: Yes. This is a measure that Canada already took, and President Biden made clear that they were waiting actually for other western allies

to get on board. And we now expect further announcements about most favored nation status being revoked from the likes of other G7 nations.


Also the E.U., that is as a bloc, you know, Russia's biggest trading partner. So there's the real impact here, what it means effectively is that

you could increase tariffs exorbitantly on Russian trade. Far beyond what you can do within WTO rules and that will make Russian sector businesses

terribly, terribly uncompetitive. And of course, yes, you've got to layer in all of the other sanctions that are already in place.

Very interesting picking up on another announcement there that perhaps you weren't expecting which is a banning of the imports of Russian seafood,

vodka, and diamonds. On top of course the import ban already on Russian energy, really targeting some of those big exports from Russia.

ANDERSON: Seafood, diamonds and vodka.

STEWART: Caviar.

ANDERSON: I mean, caviar, sorry. And vodka is not going to -- not goods that, you know, everybody's keen to acquire on a daily basis. But, like you

say, I mean, these are goods that make an awful lot of money for Russian producers when they export them abroad.

To both of you, thank. We are going to take a short break at this point. After that, concerns growing about Ukraine's nuclear power plants taken

over by Russian troops, Ukraine tells the U.N.'s International Atomic Agency it has lost all communications with the Chernobyl plant. Well, on

Wednesday Lutsk's external power supply which is needed to cool its used nuclear fuel or the U.N. nuclear watchdog says it cannot confirm reports

that power is now back on.

Before we take that break, let me just bring you this report from Nina dos Santos.


NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN EUROPE EDITOR (voice-over): First, Russia seized Chernobyl, cite of the world's worst nuclear meltdown. A week later it was

Zaporizhzhia, Europe's largest nuclear plant. Now with power cut from Chernobyl and more than 200 plant workers held hostage, alarm bells are


PRES. VOLODYMYR ZELENSKY, UKRAINE (through translator): This was terror at a new level. Ukraine has 15 nuclear plants, and the Russian military has

forgotten Chernobyl and the world's tragedy.

RAFAEL GROSSI, DIRECTOR GENERAL, INTERNATIONAL ATOMIC ENERGY AGENCY: We cannot go on like this. There has to be clear understandings, clear

commitments not to go anywhere near a nuclear facility when it comes to military operations.

DOS SANTOS: Some have called the targeting of such sensitive infrastructure a war crime.

(On-camera): Do you think that these nuclear plants are going to be targeted specifically?

TARAS KUZIO, POLITICAL, ECONOMIC AND SECURITY AFFAIRS EXPERT: They are extremely callous. They don't give a damn about civilian casualties. But

I'd be surprised if they were going to deliberately target with missiles or artillery nuclear power plants. Although you know, with a sociopathic

President Putin, anything is possible.

JOEL RUBIN, FORMER U.S. DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE: It's energy extortion, nuclear energy extortion in this case, and it is also extortion

of the Ukrainian people because it's going to harm their ability to gain, eat, have electricity. This is a diabolical maneuver by Vladimir Putin.

DOS SANTOS (voice-over): Ukraine is home to 15 nuclear facilities, with two taken already, Russian forces are now approaching Ukraine's second largest

nuclear site. Yuzhnoukrainsk in the Mykolaiv Oblast.

GROSSI: They've been targeted as a means to control the power supply to Ukrainian cities and towns as a way of, in turn, controlling all aspects of

Ukrainian society, trying to put a stranglehold and a squeeze on Ukrainian civilians.

DOS SANTOS: Nuclear power makes up almost a quarter of Ukraine's overall energy mix after coal and natural gas, most of which ultimately comes from

Russia. But oil has also been hit. Ukraine posted these images on Tuesday of fires at oil depots in Zhytomyr and Chernihiv in the northwest of the


The jury is out for now on what Russia's end game is with Ukraine's energy infrastructure, especially its nuclear sites. Ukraine tells the IAEA that

radiation levels at these plants appear to be normal. But Western nerves have been rattled.

Nina dos Santos, CNN, in London.


ANDERSON: We are taking a very short break. Back after this.



ANDERSON: Well, millions are on the move to escape the fighting and the shelling in Ukraine. The U.N. says 2.5 million people now -- let's just

pause for a moment -- 2.5 million people have now crossed into other countries. Another two million are displaced within Ukraine. Just in the

past two days Ukraine's president says around 100,000 have managed to flee with what are known as these corridors, new corridors opening today.

Among the evacuees, dozens of sick orphans trapped in a Kyiv suburb. One of the children looks unconscious. We don't know if they were injured in the

fighting or indeed what happened. An Italian journalist recorded this video. And Ukraine's foreign minister posted it, calling Russia's actions,

quote, "barbaric."

Well, among those trying to get safety are foreign students who have been stranded in a town a few hundred kilometers east of Kyiv.

CNN's Scott McLean has their story for you.


SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is what relief looks like for hundreds of foreign students who have been trapped in

Sumy, a Ukrainian city under constant Russian bombardment. They say their exhausting journey to safety took more than 24 hours.

SHABNAM HEERAH, FOREIGN STUDENT IN SUMY, UKRAINE: I don't think I will ever forget this in my whole life. It will just be in my mind.

MCLEAN: Shabnam Heerah, a student from Mauritius, was one of hundreds who spent days sleeping in an underground bunker hoping and praying the bombs

would let up. They didn't.

(On-camera): What was going through your mind when you were sheltering in that basement?

HEERAH: I just say to myself, I'm ready to die, I'm going to die now.

MCLEAN: Really?

HEERAH: Yes. Because when you hear that bomb explosion, you just freeze, and you start shaking.

MCLEAN (voice-over): The evacuation of the students who are mostly from India, China, and countries in Africa, came after intense diplomatic

efforts to get them out to safety, and tense negotiations between Russia and Ukraine to open a humanitarian corridor out of Sumy after days of

failed efforts in other cities.

DURI NDISIRO, FOREIGN STUDENT IN SUMY, UKRAINE: How will I get out of this place? And even if I get out of this place, will I survive the journey out

there? Because we heard in Sumy that the Russian army was surrounding the city and all of those roads.

MCLEAN (voice-over): When the buses finally left, the students were prioritized in the first convoy. Local authorities say subsequent convoys

were held up because of fighting on the outskirts of the city. It took 11 hours along the indirect corridor to Poltava past rows of military

vehicles. Then they were quickly put on a train bound for Lviv, arriving some 15 hours later.

BLESSING JOHN IBANGA, FOREIGN STUDENT IN SUMY, UKRAINE: We being here doesn't mean I've given up on Ukraine. We are still going to find

assistance. And I support Ukraine all the way.

MCLEAN: These students from Nigeria are headed to Budapest by bus where their embassy will help them from there. Some say they are planning to go

back as soon as the war is over.

SAMUEL OTUNLA, FOREIGN STUDENT IN SUMY, UKRAINE: I spent six years in this country, and it's a wonderful place to be. Ukraine is -- they are going

through all of this trauma in their country, but still able to look out for us as foreigners. A lot of us are very grateful for that.

MCLEAN: Scott McLean, CNN, Lviv, Ukraine.


ANDERSON: Well, the U.N. expects up to four million people could ultimately be forced to flee Ukraine. So far, more than nearly 350,000 of them, mostly

women, children, and the elderly, have entered neighboring Romania. And that's where Miguel Marquez met some of them arriving in Bucharest after

crossing the border to safety.


MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The refugee crisis deepening.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And they opened just my bag just thinking what I need and I'm here about two hours.

MARQUEZ: Ana Lukyanenko (PH) from Mykolaiv in southern Ukraine, a city hammered indiscriminately by Russian rockets and artillery. Lukyanenko had

two hours to pack up her two kids, her mother and her children's godmother. Two hours to pack. No idea if she'll see her husband, grandparents, or

country again.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In my heart, I said I think that Ukrainian will be free and everything will be OK. But who knows when.

MARQUEZ: Lukyanenko trying to get from Bucharest to friends in Poland, one story of millions. Families now being torn apart in Ukraine and across


DR, RAED ARAFAT, STATE SECRETARY, ROMANIAN MINISTRY OF INTERNAL AFFAIRS: We will see people who are without capabilities, without possibilities,

financial possibilities, who are running from war, they are running for their lives taking just very few things with them, and sometimes even

without documentation.

MARQUEZ: The speed at which Ukrainians are transformed into refugees increasing exponentially, as Russia continues punishing attacks on civilian

and military targets alike.

COSMINA SIMIEAN, GENERAL MANAGER, BUCHAREST DIRECTORATE FOR SOCIAL SERVICES: We don't know what is coming and how many people are coming to

Bucharest. As far as we know the people coming here are only in transit, a few of them remain in Romania. But we don't know how many people will come,

so we need to be prepared.

MARQUEZ: Romanians not just waiting to receive Ukrainian refugees. Now they're collecting and organizing massive amounts of humanitarian supplies

all to be shipped directly to Ukraine.

NICUSOR DAN, GENERAL MAYOR, BUCHAREST: They need drugs, and we have a specific list of what kind of drugs. They need the medical kits. And they

need food that can be preserved.

MARQUEZ (on-camera): Did you ever think you'd be in this situation?

DAN: No. I mean, a war in 2022, it's unbelievable.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Miguel Marquez, CNN, Bucharest, Romania.


ANDERSON: And more coming up after this short break. Stay with us.


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.

ANDERSON: Well, let me get you to Kyiv where President Zelenskyy is speaking. Let's listen in.

ZELENSKYY (through translator): As we need to, I am grateful for your help that you have already provided, help from your state, from your nation. I

am grateful for all the efforts that you make to protect the Ukrainian air space. I believe that we will manage to achieve something very important.

God willing, if we win this war, we will share with you our victory. We'll share it with our brothers and sisters.

This is our greatness but also your greatness. This is a battle for our freedom but also for your freedom. This is a joint history of great


Dear Lord, please let us win.

ANDERSON: That's President Zelenskyy speaking there.

Well, the fighting, meantime, is spreading in Ukraine as Russian forces appear to be inching towards the capital. A number of cities were hit for

the first time including Dnipro, where many people had come seeking safety. The strikes hit near a preschool and an apartment building. Satellite

images suggest that Russian convoy that was stalled outside of Kyiv has broken up and the troops redeploying.

A U.S. official says Russian forces northwest of Kyiv are now about 15 kilometers from the city center. That is significantly closer than they

were. The West trying to up the pressure on Russian president Vladimir Putin. U.S. President Joe Biden moments ago announcing a move to revoke

Russia's status as a most favored nation, an MFN trading partner. Have a listen.