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Connect the World

Caretakers Trying to Keep Surrogate Babies Safe in Kyiv; Russian Forces Pound Ukrainian Cities as Talks Resume; Trudeau Speaks to Parliament Ahead of Zelenskyy Address; Zelenskyy Delivering Virtual Address to Canada's Parliament; CNN Speaks to Romanian Foreign Minister; Two Detained UK Citizens will be Released from Iran Wednesday. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired March 15, 2022 - 11:00   ET




BECKY ANDERSON, CNN HOST, CONNECT THE WORLD: This hour how the war in Ukraine is being viewed around the world from countries that have a stake

in the crisis and those which do not? I'm Becky Anderson. Hello and welcome back to "Connect the World".

First up as talks resumed between Russia and Ukraine we are seeing intense and punishing strikes on the ground. They've targeted Ukrainian airport, a

TV tower and a number of homes. Here's a look at where Russian forces are now.

Four people were killed in Russian attacks on apartment buildings in Kyiv. People in the capital have just a few hours now to leave their homes under

what will be a curfew that runs until Thursday morning some 35 hours.

Meantime, the City of Kharkiv also taking a pounding official set was hit 65 times Monday with 600 residential buildings destroyed since the war

began. To the south 2000 cars left the besieged City of Mariupol today, but hundreds of thousands of people remain trapped with food and water running


Well, Ukraine is seeing a show of support from Europe it continues the Prime Minister's opponent; the Czech Republic and Slovenia are heading to

the capital today. And moments ago, NATO Secretary General said Russia has a history of lying and he had this warning.


JEN STOLTENBERG, NATO SECRETARY GENERAL: They are making absurd claims about biological labs and chemical weapons in Ukraine. This is just another

lie. And we are concerned that Moscow could stage a false flag operation, possibly including chemical weapons.


ANDERSON: Well, Russia, meantime has just announced that it is imposing sanctions on the U.S. President Joe Biden, the U.S. Secretary of State and

other top government officials. More details of course on that as we get them.

Well, some of those traps in Ukraine are just days old, born in what is now a war zone. More than a dozen surrogate babies are in limbo waiting for

their new parents to be able to get to Ukraine to get them. CNN International Correspondent Sam Kylie has their story.


SAM KYLIE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): This is precious cargo, not cash in transit. But a week old Baby Lawrence in

transit to a new life born to a surrogate mother, under bombardment in Kyiv, he is raced through the Ukrainian Capital to a nursery in the

southwest of the city.

It's perilously close to Russian troops and easily within range of their artillery. This is a gauntlet his new parents will have to run when or if

they come here to collect him. For now, he'll be among 20 other surrogate babies destined it's hoped for new lives in Argentina, China, Spain, Italy,

Canada, Austria and the U.S. parting from the child she carried as a surrogate Victoria is inevitably tearful, her pain intensified by


VICTORIA, SURROGATE MOTHER: It has been harder that he is in a place where they're shelling and when will his parents get to take him away because of

it? It's really hard.

KYLIE (voice over): This missile struck about 500 yards from the nursery while we were there.

KYLIE (on camera): There are constant explosions we can even hear in the basement and the Russian military is reportedly consolidating and planning

to push in further into the city from the east. So the future of these children is even more in doubt. How long will it be before it's impossible,

completely impossible for the new parents to come and rescue them?

KYLIE (voice over): The nannies here cannot join the exodus of civilians from Kyiv. These babies may be tiny, but they're the heaviest of

responsibilities Antonina's husband and daughter has already traveled to safety 130 miles south.

ANTONINA YEFIMOVIC, NANNY: These babies can't be abandoned, they're defenseless. They also need care. And we really hope that the parents will

come and pick them up soon.

KYLIE (voice over): An Argentine couple collected their child the day before, but a combination of the pandemic and now war has meant that some

have been stuck here for months.

DR. IHOR PECHENOGA, PEDIATRICIAN, BIOTEXCOM: It all depends on the strength of the parent's desire. I met with parents who came to Kyiv to pick up

their baby. They had tears in their eyes. They had waited 20 years for their baby. And there are such couples who are afraid because there is a

war going on.


KYLIE (voice over): These infants are oblivious to the doubts over their future and the dangers that they've already survived. There's abundant hope

that it stays that way. Sam Kylie, CNN Kyiv.


ANDERSON: Well, this sense of uncertainty hanging over so many families, so many kids, so many cities and towns and villages across what was this once

peaceful nation about 250 kilometers Southwest of Kyiv is Vinnytsia our Ivan Watson takes a look now at how everyday people there are preparing for

what they believe is the imminent arrival of Russian troops?


IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): This is a village outside of the City of Vinnytsia. And we're getting a sense during

our visit here of how the local population has been mobilized by Russia's invasion of Ukraine. So all of this has been erected in the last two weeks,

and it's all homemade, just kind of concrete blocks, spare tires, sandbags, you know, just kind of metal rebar that's been kind of welded together,

netting here that locals have sewed here and we're going to spin around.

And you can get a sense of what the guys who are volunteering here they have their Molotov cocktails at the ready. And this is entirely a voluntary

effort. I've been speaking with some of the guards here. One of them is a fire man. One of them is a retired police officer. Another one is an

electrician, all an example of how the local population has mobilized here?

A local official I talked to he estimates that about 20 percent of a population of more than 12,000 people in these villages have gone into the

Ukrainian army have gone into the Ukrainian territorial defense, he estimates maybe 10 percent have fled. And the rest, he says are very active

in the volunteer effort in the war effort.

That means people who help out with humanitarian assistance that's being brought in from Europe, and that is collected here and that is then loaded

into other trucks and shipped back out to frontline cities where people are in such tremendous need right now. You know, Vladimir Putin, one of his

objectives by invading Ukraine, he said was to demilitarize this country.

We are seeing the exact opposite result, John, which is an entire population that is being mobilized in the defense of their homeland. I want

to bring in a local official here that had been talking to - thank you, who's just 23 years old, he's the district head of three villages. You have

not seen ground fighting here yet. Are you ready if the Russian military reaches this region?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, you know, we already and it is also situation is - of human unity of unity in Ukraine. In Ukraine population and here we have

20 percent of mobilized people to the army to the territorial defense and local defense.

WATSON (voice over): What kind of message would you like to send the rest of the world? We were seeing the aid that was sent in humanitarian

assistance, food, clothes, what kind of message would you like to send from your region?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, the highest part of my message would be, please close the sky. This is the most important thing that we need because

here on the ground, we could fly. But on the sky, we need to close the sky.

WATSON (on camera): All right. Thank you, again, a call that we've heard from the President of Ukraine for a no fly zone, which President Biden of

course has ruled out arguing that that would be the beginning, the beginning of World War III.

Now this is just one village John. I drove in from Moldova, into Ukraine yesterday and everywhere on the side of the main road, you saw similar

fortifications, similar defenses, and a sign that communities are ready to defend themselves from this invasion.


ANDERSON: that's Ivan Watson reporting. CNN's Scott McLean connecting us now out of Lviv, Natasha Bertrand joins us from Brussels. I want to start

with you on the ground Sam's reporting ahead of Ivan there exposing the very real impact that this war is having on Ukraine's population.


ANDERSON: And we are talking about those very, very small newborn babies waiting. Their surrogate parents have no idea about when they may get to

Ukraine. And then Ivan there reports on these areas that are not yet threatened. But the very real fear of an imminent attack.

I want you just to give us a sense of what is going on the ground in areas that are now very much under threat Kyiv, for example, the capital, how

close are Russian troops at this point?

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Becky, they are still a ways outside of the city. According to a senior U.S. defense officials who spoke on

background yesterday at their closest point in the northwest there about 10 miles or so away, and they haven't made very much meaningful progress to

this stage, or at least in recent days, they are much further out in the east and they still don't have a front on the south.

That could change though. Of course, the City of Mykolayiv is strategic in Southern Ukraine strategic because if Russian troops were they would circle

it and be able to take that city, then they could open a new front to the west and Odessa or they could move north to start attacking Kyiv from the


In the absence of Russian tanks and military hardware, actually, in the city, it seems that the Russians are quite content to simply lob bombs, lob

explosives via artillery strikes into populated areas, and the Russians continued to insist that they're only hitting military targets.

But that is clearly not the case, based on what we've seen, even just today, where you had four separate residential buildings that were hit a

home, just a little south of the city, you had a 10 storey apartment building, just a stone's throw from central Kyiv.

And then a 16 storey apartment just to the west of the city that caught fire, and you had flames racing up all of the floors of that building, and

another one was hidden nearby that only got was sort of minor damage.

But much more importantly there were four people killed Becky, and President Zelenskyy gave a reminder today that 97 children have been killed

since the beginning of this invasion. Obviously, he would like to get more help from the west.

And one of the things that he mentioned was foreign companies. Many of them are no longer doing business in Russia, but he questioned how long that

would be the case saying that they're waiting to get back into the Russian market when this is all over suggesting that many of those companies are

doing this for political expediency, not because they really care about the true victims of this war.

ANDERSON: Scott McLean's in Kyiv. Natasha Scott, just describing what is going on around Kyiv, the Capital, and we know that there will be a 35 hour

curfew starting in just a couple of hours, you can't move around the city. The only reason to get to leave your home will be to go into a bomb

shelter. It is into the capital at three European leaders are headed as we speak, why is it clear?

NATASHA BERTRAND, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: They say it's because they want to show solidarity with the Ukrainians and with President Zelenskyy as

Russia is attacking their country.

But it's really remarkable here that these three actually four European leaders, including a Deputy Prime Minister, are going to be going into

Kyiv, this massive war zone where bombs are falling, where there is shelling repeatedly shelling in order to show this solidarity between not

only the European Union, but also NATO.

These are leaders of NATO member countries. And it comes as President Zelenskyy, of course, has been pleading with the West for more aid more

support, of course, more tangible support, not necessarily out shows of support like this, although of course, I'm sure it is very much appreciated

by Zelenskyy.

But more weapon, more humanitarian assistance and importantly, kind of as Zelenskyy loses faith in this idea that Ukraine is ever going to join NATO.

But it also comes ahead of this extraordinary potentially, this extraordinary meeting next week between amongst NATO leaders, as they chart

a path forward here.

We saw that there was a very close call last week earlier this week with Russia firing missiles extremely close to the Polish border. It is getting

closer and closer to that NATO territory, kind of really unnerving those eastern flank NATO ally countries.

And so they're going to be meeting next week. Potentially it has not been confirmed yet, but this is in the works, to discuss how they would respond

if something were to happen inadvertently or even on purpose.

ANDERSON: Natasha and Scott to both of you thank you. Well, Russia has made significant gains in the South of Ukraine since this war began 20 days ago.


ANDERSON: For days now the strategic maritime city of Mykolayiv has been witnessing fierce battles against Russian forces. My colleague Nick Paton

Walsh shows us now a strategic stretch of highway that is likely to help shape the battle.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR (on camera): Well, this is the key road of contention for what maybe the imminent fight for

Mykolayiv at a closer quarter. So far, it's all been artillery strikes on the outskirts and Russian bids to move in.

But this is the road down to Kherson which as of this morning, Russia claims it had control parts of. It said that it had basically all of

Kherson, which is about 10, possibly 15 kilometers further down this very deserted road.

Now there are signs of civilian traffic moving up and down here. Possibly, that is people going about their urgent daily lives because remember these

frontlines trapped civilians in between them as they move.

But this is also the place down which the Russian military has to come if it wants sort of southern points of pressure on the town of Mykolayiv that

town so vital in their beds to put pressure on Ukrainian military as the Russians try and move towards Odessa the third largest city in Ukraine.

But I should pause for a moment so you can hear the kind of silence here this would normally be a pretty hectic highway. Now with the exception of

that one boss down there, auto silence we know the Ukrainians are digging in around here and want that presence to be felt. In the event the Russians

try and move down here.

But still, the frontlines here consistently changing pressure mounting unclear if the Russians do control Kherson - they have planes. But still,

this is another sign of their bid to try and encircle Mykolayiv a town has been under weeks of pressure but has held out quite remarkably. Nick Paton

Walsh CNN, just outside of Mykolayiv Ukraine.


ANDERSON: Well, some developing news now about Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, the British Iranian aid worker has had her UK passport returned to her that

is, according to a British lawmaker who also says that a UK negotiating team is in Tehran right now.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe is currently being detained in Iran where she was handed a second jail sentence and travel ban last year for allegedly spreading

propaganda against the regime. And we are getting more information on this situation and I will get you that just as soon as we have taken this short


Coming up as well, as Romania holds out a helping hand to those fleeing the bombs in Ukraine I'll be talking to the Romanian Foreign Minister about

resisting Russia that's a little later. Plus the Capital of Lithuania welcomes Ukrainian refugees with open arms my interview with the Mayor of

Vilnius about what they are doing for those who have fled their homes and their decision to change the name of the street where the Russian Embassy

is located. More on that is coming up.



ANDERSON: Well, Russian television station employees being located after a stunning protest on live television, here she is in court with a member of

her legal team and this after one of her lawyers earlier said she could not be located. So why is she in court? Well, it's for this.

In the middle of a newscast, she ran into the studio holding a sign reading and I quote "no war, stop the war do not believe propaganda, they tell you

lies here." Well, her lawyer centers this video which she reportedly taped before her protest.


MARINA OVSYANNIKOVA, HELD ANTI-WAR SIGN ON RUSSIA CHANNEL ONE: This happening now in Ukraine is a crime. And the Russia is the aggressor

country and the responsibility for this aggression lies in the conscious of only one person. This man is Vladimir Putin. My father is Ukrainian. My

mother is Russian, and they have never been enemies.

And this necklace on my neck is a symbol of the fact that Russia must immediately stop this fratricidal war. So our fraternal nations will still

be able to reconcile, go to the rallies and to not be afraid they cannot arrest us all.


ANDERSON: Well, the Kremlin spokesman responding today calls the protests and active hooliganism, a criminal offense in Russia. The Russian state

news agency tasked reporting that she is being investigated by a top Russian law enforcement agency.

Well, Ukraine's President addressed the incident thanking Russians who are fighting disinformation, and trying to get the truth out - sanctions

crushing Russia's economy even if they haven't stopped the Russian president's war.

So the EU clamping down even more finance ministers have formally approved a fourth package of sanctions targeting more than 600 Russians, more on

that momentarily. Let's get you to the Canadian capital of Ottawa now, where Ukraine's president is just about to deliver a virtual address to

lawmakers. Let's listen in.

JUSTIN TRUDEAU, CANADIAN PRIME MINISTER: --the right of Ukrainians to choose their own future. And in doing so, you're defending the values that

form the pillars of all free democratic countries, freedom, human rights, justice, truth, international order. These are the values you're risking

your life for, as you fight for Ukraine, and Ukrainians.

Beyond that, you're inspiring democracies and Democratic leaders around the world to be more courageous, more united, and to fight harder for what we

believe in. You remind us that friends are always stronger together.

With allies and partners, we're imposing crippling sanctions to make sure Putin and his enablers in Russia and Belarus are held accountable. Today,

in line with our European Union partners, I can announce that we have imposed severe sanctions on 15 new Russian officials, including government

and military elites who are complicit in this illegal war.

Military equipment as well as financial and humanitarian assistance, and we will be there to help rebuild once the aggressor is repelled. In Canada, we

like to root for the underdog. We believe that when a cause is just and right, it will always prevail, no matter the size of the opponent. This

doesn't mean it'll be easy. Ukrainians are already paying incalculable human costs. This illegal and unnecessary war is a grave mistake. Putin

must stop it now.

Blatant disregard for human life is absolutely unacceptable. Canada continues to demand that Russia stop targeting civilians and this

unjustifiable war. Ukrainians are standing up to authoritarianism and as parliamentarians united in this house today and all Canadians, we stand

with you.

As friends you can count on our unwavering and steadfast support. And now, it is my great privilege to introduce to you all, the President of Ukraine,

our friend, Volodymyr Zelenskyy.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Speaker, Prime Minister, Dear Justin, members of the

government, member of the Parliament, all distinguished guests, friends, before I begin, I would like you to understand my feelings and feelings of

all Ukrainians as far as it is possible.

Our feelings over the last 20 days, 20 days of our full scale aggression of Russian Federation after eight years of firings in Donbas region, can you

only imagine? Imagine that on 4 a.m. - you start hearing bomb explosions, severe explosion.

Justin can you imagine hearing your children hear all these severe explosions? Bombing of airport, bombing of Ottawa airport, tense of other

cities, you're wonderful country, can you imagine that?

Cruise missiles being falling down, you're tearing, and your children asking you what happened. And you're receiving the first news which

infrastructure objects have been bombed and destroyed by Russian Federation?

And you know how many people already died? Can you only imagine what words how can you explain to your children that you just full scale aggression

just happened in your country? You know that this is war to annihilate your state your country.

You know that this is the word to subjugated people. And on second day you receive notifications that huge columns of military equipment are entering

your country, crossing the border, they entering small cities they are given siege this in circling cities and they start to shell civil


They bombed school buildings; they destroyed kindergarten facilities like in our city, city of Sumy, like in city of --.You imagine that someone is

taking siege laying siege to Vancouver. Can you just imagine then for a second?

And all these people who are left in such city and this are exactly the situation that our city of Mariupol is suffering right now. And they are

left without heat or hydro or without means of communicating almost without food without water, seeking shelter in bomb shelters.

Dear Justin, can you imagine that every day you will see memorandums about the number of casualties including among women and children. You heard

about the bombings. Currently we have 97 children that died during this war.

Can you imagine famous CN Tower in Toronto? It was healed by Russian bombs. Of course I don't wish this on anyone. But this is our reality in which we

live. We have to contemplate, we have to see where an - bombing takes place.

Your church - we have a Freedom Square in the city of - in the city of Kharkiv our Babi Yar, the place where victims of Holocaust were buried.


ZELENSKYY: And it has been bombed by the Russians. Imagine that Canadian facilities have been bombed similarly as our buildings and memorials places

are being bombed, the number of families have died. Every night is a horrible night. Russians are shelling from all kinds of - from tanks.

They're hitting civilian infrastructure, they hit big buildings. Can you imagine that there is a fire starting at a nuclear power plant? And that's

exactly what happened in our country. Each city that they're marching through, they're taking down Ukrainian flags can imagine someone taking

down your Canadian flags in Montreal, another Canadian citizen; I know that you're all support Ukraine.

We've been friends with you, Justin. But also I would like you to understand. And I would like you to feel this, what we feel every day. We

want to leave and we want to be victorious. We want to prevail for the sake of life.

Can you imagine when you call your friends, your friends, the nation and you ask, please close the sky? Close the airspace; please stop the bombing

how many more cruise missiles have to fall on our cities until you make this happen.

And they in return, they express their deep concerns about the situation. When we talk to with our partners - please hold on hold on a little longer,

some people are talking about trying to avoid the escalation.

And at the same time, in response to our aspiration to become members of NATO, we also do not hear a clear answer. Sometimes we don't see obvious

things. Its dire straits but it also allowed us to see who our real friends are over the last 20 days and as well eight previous years.

I'm sure that you've been able to see clearly what's going on and embracing all of you. Canada has always been steadfast in their support, you'll been

a reliable partner to Ukraine and Ukrainians. And I'm sure this will continue.

You've offered your help your system. And at our earliest request, you supply us with the military assistance with humanitarian assistance. The EU

in full severe sanctions, serious sanctions at the same time we see that unfortunately this did not bring them to the world.

You can see that our cities like Kharkiv, Mariupol and many other cities are not protected just like your cities are protected. --Vancouver, you can

see that Kyiv is being shelled and bombed even from city --.

It used to be very peaceful country, peaceful cities, but now they are being constantly bombarded, bombarded. Basically what am I trying to say

that we all need to do, you all need to do more to stop Russia to protect Ukraine and by doing that to protect Europe from Russian threat.

They're destroying everything, memorial complexes, schools, hospitals, housing complex, they already killed 97 grandchildren. We're not asking for

much. We're asking for justice for real support, which will help us to prevail to defend to save life to save life all over the world. Canada is

leading in these efforts and I'm hoping that other countries will follow the same. So we are asking for more of your leadership. And please take

greater part in these efforts.


ZELENSKYY: Justin and all of our friends of Ukraine, friends of the truth, least understand how important it is for us to close our airspace from

Russian missiles and Russian aircrafts. I hope you can understand I hope you can increase your efforts; you can increase sanctions, so they look

here a single dollar to fund their war effort.

Commercial entities should not be working in Russia. Probably, you know better than many in any other countries that this attack on Ukraine, it's

an attempt to annihilate Ukrainian people, and there is nothing else to it.

This is their main objective. It's sexual the war against Ukrainian people. And it's an attempt to destroy everything that we as Ukrainians do. It's an

attempt to destroy our future to destroy our nation, our character.

You Canadians know very well all this. That's why I'm asking you please do not stop in your efforts; please expand your efforts to bring back peace in

our peaceful country. I believe and I know that you can do it.

And we are building we are part of the antiwar coalition and jointly, I'm sure that will achieve results. I would like to also ask our Ukrainian

diaspora in Canada. This is a historical moment. And we need your support your practical support.

And we hope that with your practical steps, you will show that you're part of this more than Ukrainian history. Please remember, this is a practical,

modern day in history of Ukraine. We want to live. We want to have this.

I'm grateful to every one of you in the Parliament of Canada who is present there to every Canadian citizens, I am very grateful to you, Justin. I am

grateful to Canadian people. And I'm confident that together we will overcome and will be victorious, glory to Ukraine, thank you to Canada.


ANDERSON: Well, Canadian lawmakers on their feet applauding the Ukrainian president who was just spoken to them by video link. The President asking

lawmakers in Canada to consider what life is like for Ukrainians today, describing the debt of children, people sheltering from bombs, buildings

destroyed, nuclear power stations under threaten.

He ask them to consider how it then feels when he asks, what he sees is his friends around the world for a no fly zone to close the skies as he calls

it. And he says there is no support and he says no support for NATO membership.

Now, of course, Canada was a founding member of the alliance that has remained a member since its inception, the president, appealing to Canadian

lawmakers to increase support, support for a no fly zone, support for sanctions.

He said please help us bring peace to Ukraine. This was a real appeal to Canadian lawmakers as he appealed to UK lawmakers just a couple of days

ago. And he also took the opportunity to speak directly to the Ukrainian diaspora in Canada, which as I understand it numbers more than a million of

full or partial people of Ukrainian origin.

The Ukrainian president speaking live to Canadian lawmakers who are on their feet for at least three minutes or more applauding what I guess they

feel is the bravery of the Ukrainian president. While the Romanian Foreign Minister, Bogdan Aurescu now joins me from Bucharest.

And there Zelenskyy repeating his call Sir, for a no fly zone and for NATO membership. You are of course a member of the alliance you have been so for

nearly 20 years. Do you sympathize with his please at this point?

BOGDAN AURESCU, ROMANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: Well, good afternoon. And thank you for having me again. Yes, Romania was and still is one of the very

strong supporters of the Ukrainian aspiration for EU accession and also for NATO accession.

Let me just remind the fact that during the NATO summit in Bucharest in 2008, the decision of the alliance was taken to accept both Ukraine and

Georgia as members of the alliance when the conditions will be met.

And we have supported strongly both European and Euro Atlantic perspective of Ukraine. As far as the no fly zone is concerned, I think, well, the

decision of the alliance was made clear by the Secretary General of NATO a couple of weeks ago when this issue came up first.

The problem is that well involving NATO, in this operation would put NATO in direct conflict with Russia. And since Ukraine is no member of NATO,

this cannot be done. Basically, NATO has helped and continues to help Ukraine in all ways possible. The member states are helping Ukraine with a

lot of effort.


AURESCU: But without with the exception of getting NATO directly involved in this conflict. The EU is also supporting Ukraine a lot. For instance,

today, within the European Union, we have adopted a fourth package of sanctions, including an import ban of steel products from Russia, including

an export ban from EU to Russia of luxury goods.

Also a full prohibition of any transactions with certain Russian state owned enterprises across different sectors. And also a ban on the rating of

Russian and Russian companies by EU credit rating agencies.

We have also extended the list of sanctioned persons and entities. So the package of sanctions adopted by the European Union is now very strong and

together with our partners from United States, from Canada, from the UK other countries like Japan, Australia, South Korea, this creates a lot of

pressure from the Russian economy.


ANDERSON: I understand, Foreign Minister, a couple of things. What it doesn't do is answer the plea, the continued plea by the Ukrainian

president for a no fly zone, closing the skies, as he said.

I know you've deferred to NATO as an alliance, in suggesting that that is a decision has been taken by NATO not to affect a a fly zone. But I'm asking

you specifically, do you sympathize? And do you or would you support the effecting of a no fly zone?

The President continues to ask for that you've said that the EU is doing everything that it can. But as far as Ukrainian President is concerned,

that's not enough at this point. The other point is, of course, that energy, still not banned by the European Union. And I know that there are

plans afoot longer terms to divest. You know, from the sort of, the using Russian energy, but that hasn't happened either, sir has it?

AURESCU: Well, as far as the NATO decision is concerned, well, it's not just about the international secretariat of the alliance. It is a decision

which is taken by the members of NATO and this includes Romania.

As far as energy is concerned indeed, this creates a lot of vulnerabilities to the EU as a whole to the EU member states. And that's why we have this

plan to reduce as fast as possible the dependence on Russian guests and other well other products from related to energy from Russia.

The fact is that while Romania is one of the less dependent countries as far as I guest imports from Russia, the EU as a whole is more than 40

percent dependent on gas imports from Russia is around 27 percent well dependent on crude oil imports from Russia.

And 47 percent dependent on coal and fuel imports from Russia. These are figures from 2019 and they are relevant because they are before the

pandemic when the economy was affected a lot by the pandemic. So, it is important to find alternative ways to reduce this dependence by investing

in, for instance, nuclear and Romania is doing that.


AURESCU: That's by investing in renewable, by diversifying the sources and by interconnecting well, our countries. For instance, even today, during

the visit of the President of Bulgaria, to the President of Romania, Mr. Yohannes, we have discussed about speeding up the finalization of the

Bulgaria Greece interconnector in order to allow us to import more guests for the countries in the region from alternative sources than Russian


ANDERSON: Right. So there are clearly plans afoot to reduce that reliance, but it isn't in the short term, or as the Americans of course has decided

that they will ban those hydrocarbons immediately.

All right, look, more than 450,000 refugees have made their way into Romania since the start of this war. And that must be applauded the fact

that Romania has opened its doors. And those sort of numbers have traveled through the country is remarkable.

The number though has declined significantly. And as I understand it, daily arrivals and are down by more than 50 percent compared to last week, any

idea why that is?

AURESCU: Well, the decline is not that much. Actually, as of yesterday, the figures are more than 400,000, 460,000 refugees who entered Romania. And

they are only; we are speaking only about Ukrainian citizens, because also a figure of around 30,000, third country citizens entered Romania.

And the prospects are that these numbers will grow because this is for at least what the International Organization for Migration tells us. And I

think even if the fights will stop in Ukraine, still the refugees will come because the conditions of life are very much deteriorated by the Russian


So I wouldn't say that the numbers are declining to the country. I think that the numbers will grow or they are likely to grow. As far as the

refugees who are coming to Romania are concerned, we have received all of them irrespective of their nationality. Of course they are mainly Ukrainian

refugees and mainly mothers and children.


AURESCU: A lot of them are staying in Romania as well as we speak, around 80,000 are staying in Romania, and more than a third are children. And we

are providing conditions to enrollment in schools and universities for students. And we have provided free medical care assistance, sheltering,

whatever was needed in order for them to feel comfortable, or at least, while under the current conditions to feel comfortable.

A lot of NGOs and Romanian citizens, regular Romanian citizens mobilized in a very empathic way to help the authorities to cope with this situation.

And I think we will be able to cope with the situation and receive everybody who is coming and asking for help for well, entering Romania and

then staying here or leaving for other countries.

There were more than 90 countries who asked for our support in order to evacuate their citizens. More than 20 missions, which were in Kyiv, were

also evacuated through Romania.

ANDERSON: Remarkable.

AURESCU: And this monetary effort continues also through a hub which we have organized in the northern part of Romania, in Suceava, a humanitarian

hub, allowing for collection and transfer to Ukraine of international aid.

This hard is already operational since the ninth of March. And it has been used by of course, Romania. We have transferred our humanitarian aid, which

was quite consistent to Ukraine, but also by countries like Italy, Bulgaria and other countries.

ANDERSON: And with that, I have to leave it there because I must take a break, but it is very good to catch up with you. We'll have you back.

There's an awful lot more I would like to speak to you about we had, though the Ukrainian president speaking to Canadian lawmakers, which cut it short

just slightly. But thank you, sir. Thank you very much indeed for joining us. We are going to take a very short break, back after this.


ANDERSON: Want to get you some breaking news now out of Iran. CNN has learned that two detain British citizens will be released from Iran on

Wednesday. And that includes Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Anoosheh Ashoori.

And Iranian official tell CNN a deal has been struck with the UK to release them both. Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British Iranian aid worker was handed a

second jail sentence last year over propaganda allegations which she has always denied. Let's get our Nada Bashir who is following this from London.

Nada, what do we have at this point?

NADA BASHER, CNN REPORTER: Yes, Becky, we are hearing these positive developments. We heard earlier in the morning from local lawmaker Tulip

Siddiq saying that her constituent Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe had received her British passport back and that was a signal of perhaps unwelcome news

to come.

Now we are hearing from the Iranian official that we are expecting a deal. We have had the deal may have been struck with the UK delegation, which

could see Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe released now, as you mentioned, she was detained in 2016 accused of allegations of topple the Iranian regime.

This is something that she, her family and her employer of the Thomson Reuters Foundation have vehemently denied continuously. And there has been

a very strong campaign. From her family we saw her husband late last year on a three week hunger strike calling on the British government to take

tougher action. And we could be seeing some positive developments now, Becky.


ANDERSON: Nada Basher is on the story for you and more on that, of course, as we get it. Well, this time yesterday I took a closer look at how the

West's reaction to Russian strikes on Syria during its civil war did not at all match the outcry that we have seen today with Ukraine.

And also look to how the overall response to this wave of refugees exposes a double standard in the western discourse. It was an important angle to

touch on and if you didn't catch it yesterday, please head to my Twitter account @beckycnn.

You can see my handle name at the bottom of the screen here there. And have a look at that produced by - one of my producers here on what is an

extremely good team. From Abu Dhabi, it is a very good evening.