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Russia Attacks More Civilian Targets as NATO Official Calls War a Stalemate; More Explosions in Kyiv as Russians Try to Encircle Ukrainian Capital; Mariupol Refugees Shelter in Dnipro Arcade; Emergency Summits in Brussels Thursday; Over 3.5 Million Refugees Have Fled Ukraine; U.S. Senators Question President Biden's SCOTUS Pick; Chinese Vice Premier Travels to City Near Site of Boeing Crash. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired March 22, 2022 - 10:00   ET




BECKY ANDERSON, CNN HOST (voice-over): I'm Becky Anderson. Hello and welcome to CONNECT THE WORLD.

Over the next two hours, folks, we are going to take you to Kyiv, Ukraine's capital, still under curfew and still enduring shelling and explosions.

Pharmacies, gas stations and other businesses shuttered.

And that is what the city of Mariupol has been experiencing for days now. Ukraine's president says the southern port city is being reduced to ashes.

I'll get you an update from there in the hours ahead.

And while Russia's bombing of civilians in cities continues, that extraordinary NATO summit looms ahead this week.

What can be achieved there?

I'll explore that with CNN's reporters and with Sweden's defense minister.

Well, we start this hour with more signs that fierce Ukrainian resistance is turning Vladimir Putin's war into what one NATO official is calling "a

stalemate." This as the refugee crisis worsens and Europe prepares to slap even more sanctions on Russia.

On the ground, Ukraine's military claiming its troops have regained control of Makariv. And the Ukrainian flag is flying over that city after a Russian



ANDERSON (voice-over): This video showing the damage Russian airstrikes have inflicted there. That is not far from the capital, Kyiv. A Ukrainian

cabinet minister telling CNN that Ukrainian forces will be taking more towns back over time.


ANDERSON: Well, a Ukrainian military official also dismissing a claim by Russia that a shopping mall attacked late Sunday housed weapons.


ANDERSON (voice-over): Russia's defense ministry releasing this video of the attack, which killed at least eight people. These images show some of

the incredible destruction in Kyiv. Residential buildings and businesses repeatedly targeted; more explosions seen and heard there today.


ANDERSON: Fred Pleitgen connecting us from Kyiv, where, as I understand it, air raid sirens, Fred, have been blaring within the past few hours.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely right, Becky, they certainly have. We also heard a lot of shelling going

on. We have seen a lot of explosions on the horizon, black smoke coming up.

In fact, I'm looking out here, I can see the entire sky behind me is turning black because of a fire raging. We also heard gunfire, small arms

fire. As we're under curfew here in the Ukrainian capital, it certainly has been an active day of fighting.

And that fighting seems to be taking place, from everything we can see in the northern part of the city or toward the north of the city, possibly

also the northwest, that's where we're seeing a lot of the plumes of smoke. That's where we're hearing and seeing detonations, explosions coming in.

The Ukrainians are saying that they have actually shot down one Russian missile, flying toward the Ukrainian capital. They say the remnants of that

missile fell into the Dnipro River.

But you're right, the Ukrainians are saying that, right now, they have halted that Russian offensive. They stopped the Russians from their efforts

to encircle the city. And they say that they are launching those counteroffensives.

Of course, the town of Makariv is one that is extremely important in all of this, because, first of all, it halts the Russian advance around the city.

But second of all, it is a pretty important gateway town also toward the west of Ukraine as well. So very significant for the Ukrainians to have

taken that place.

We do hear there are still some contested areas around there. On the whole, though, Becky, it does seem to us as though, right now, the Ukrainian

forces feel emboldened. And the Ukrainian forces, certainly in the north of Kyiv, the northern parts of the Ukrainian capital, appear to be launching

counteroffensives and fighting back, Becky.

ANDERSON: Right. That's on the ground.

What is their defense to the increased use of aerial bombardment by the Russians at this point?

PLEITGEN: Well, you know what, it is a really -- that's a really difficult one. But one of the things that we do ascertain, that we have seen also

here, is that the Russians, by no means, have air superiority, what is called air superiority, over this country.

The Ukrainian air force continues to function, Ukrainian air fields continue to function; they say that their jets are flying. The big thing,

of course, right now, are the surface-to-air defense systems.

We did see those get triggered a couple of times over the past couple of days with cannon fire from the ground. The thing that the Ukrainians say

they still have, we see them employ that as well, are those surface-to-air missiles called the S-300.


PLEITGEN: Which do go pretty high and can also intercept some rockets that are being shot at the Ukrainian capital as well. We've had that and heard

that discussion over the past couple of weeks since this war started, with the Ukrainians calling for a no-fly zone over this country, something that

Western nations and especially the United States would have to enforce.

The U.S. saying that's not happening. The thing they want, of course, is more of these S-300 surface-to-air missile systems to shoot down things

that come toward Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities as well.

ANDERSON: Fred Pleitgen in the capital, thank you.

While Kyiv seems to be the main objective in Russia's sights, the war is perhaps most profoundly being felt in the southern city of Mariupol.

President Zelenskyy says the city is being, quote -- and I do quote him here -- "reduced to ashes."

Mariupol remains encircled and is constantly being bombed. Buildings used for shelters are getting blown up and, for hundreds of thousands of people,

there is no way out, these factories hit by some of the latest Russian strikes.

Satellite images from March 19th show destruction to a residential neighborhood as well as to vehicles, said to be Russian tanks.

Well, CNN's Ivan Watson caught up with a family that managed to get out of that city. They described the siege as hell, where even something as simple

as getting drinking water can be a matter of life or death. Here's his report.


IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Children at play, frolicking in an arcade meant to host games of laser tag.

But these are not normal times. The owners here have turned their children's entertainment business into a makeshift shelter. A place to

house dozens of Ukrainians who just fled the besieged port city of Mariupol.

DMYTRO SHVETS, FLED MARIUPOL: In the last couple of weeks, it would be like hell. WATSON: Dmytro Shvets and his wife, Tanya, and their daughter,

Vlada, escaped Mariupol on Thursday. They endured weeks of Russian bombardment from artillery and airstrikes.

SHVETS: Each 15, 20 minutes, you can listen the airplane. It was like targeted, targeted. And the sounds hew, ba-bam.

WATSON: Tania kept a journal. "March 2nd, day seven of the war, nothing has changed," she writes. "no electricity or heat. And there is no running

water now as well."

They lived in the basement and, when they emerged, Tania took photos and videos of their apartment building, pockmarked with bullet holes,

unexploded shells in residential streets, desperate people looting a bomb- damaged store for food.

SHVETS: The problem is water. There is no water to drink.

WATSON: They scavenged for drinking water, pulling buckets from street sewers.

SHVETS: We were taking the water from the rainwater. We are taking, we have been waiting for the rainwater.

WATSON: "Heavy shelling on nearby houses," Tania wrote on March 5th. "We all went to sleep with the thought of how to survive and stay alive."

One day, a shell exploded near Dmytro as the stood in line for water.

SHVETS: The bomb fell down and killed like three people in front of us. One guy was without a head, who was like taking the water, and another one

in the line was like a half of the head and the last one was killed. With my own eyes, like not in a general, like three people completely I saw

killed. And we were making a grave for them.

WATSON: You dug a grave for them?

SHVETS: Digging, yes.

WATSON: In your neighborhood?


WATSON: Finally, it was all too much.

SHVETS: The last day, I saw my father, because my mother was completely destroyed mentally. I mean, it was like completely depression. She was

sitting in the cellar and she haven't left the cellar since the beginning of the war, just staying inside, unfortunately.

And the last day I saw my father and he begged me, like, please, guys, leave, leave somewhere. I don't know where. Just escape this. Escape this.

And he was crying.

WATSON: Dmytro and his wife and daughter piled into a car with friends and spent 15 hours driving through Russian front lines to escape the siege of

Mariupol. Their parents refused to leave.

SHVETS: I don't know if I'm going to see my parents or listen my parents again. I don't know. No idea. It's like living from day to day. Today, we

are alive; tomorrow, maybe not.

WATSON: In the relative safety of this arcade, built to entertain children, the kids welcomed the escape from the conflict.

"I really want to say hello to other children," Tania's 7-year-old daughter, Vlada, says. "And I want the war to end quickly."

Her parents appear haunted, clearly traumatized.


WATSON (voice-over): Tania gets a call from her mother in Mariupol, weeping and saying goodbye, because she fears she will not survive the

night -- Ivan Watson, CNN, Dnipro, Ukraine.


ANDERSON: The European Union's top diplomat has a new warning for Moscow. The E.U., he says, is ready to impose more sanctions on Russia over its

aggression in Ukraine. E.U. foreign policy chief Josep Borrell went on to blame Moscow for using refugees as a tool, saying the Russians, in his

words, "haven't destroyed the transport infrastructure; they just destroyed the cities in order to terrify civilians and make them escape."

Borrell is taking part in E.U. meetings in Brussels this week with emergency summits set for Thursday. The U.S. President and other world

leaders are planning to be there in person.

Ahead of that, the E.U. approving its long-awaited strategic compass plan. Yes, that may be unfamiliar to you. What it is designed to do is to toughen

up the bloc's military defenses. CNN's Natasha Bertrand is in Brussels.

I think it is important that we just sort of lay out, for the purposes of our viewers, what is going on here, the NATO summit; we've got an E.U.

summit, more help for Ukraine is promised. But there is a lot of talk of that help being caveated by it not provoking the Russians to go too far, as

it were.

So what is on offer here this week?

NATASHA BERTRAND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It is this delicate balance of trying to help the Ukrainians in any way they need and also

trying not to provoke the Russians into potentially attacking a NATO member country.

So that is the reason why they have not provided fighter jets, for example, that Ukraine has been asking for.

It is why they had been reluctant, at first, to provide those very sophisticated surface-to-air missiles to the Ukrainians, all because they

believe that, because NATO obviously is so close to this conflict, Poland especially, it could provoke Russia into some kind of aggression against


But the discussions this week are primarily going to be around how can we defend the NATO alliance?

Given they're so close to the conflict, given that Russia has been striking near Poland, roughly 10 miles from Poland, one attack last week, how can we

shore up the eastern flank NATO allies and make them feel as though they're properly defended here against a potential Russian onslaught, on purpose or


The risk of miscalculation is also very, very high. So the E.U., NATO, when they meet with Biden this week, it will be about how can we properly help

the Ukrainians defend themselves against this Russian aggression?

What additional weaponry can we send and how, given that the Russians have threatened to attack any convoys of shipments that are coming in with

weaponry from the West?

But also more importantly for them, how can we make sure that this conflict does not spill over into the West?

And that is something that Zelenskyy has been emphasizing as well, saying we're a buffer here.

If Russia comes after us in this way, what is to say they won't go beyond us and try to attack the West?

ANDERSON: I guess the question then is this, very basic.

What will success look like for the traveling Biden delegation and others, who are meeting where you are this week?

Because the war, of course, in Ukraine grinds on. The refugee crisis gets worse, the destruction of people's homes and cities gets worse. People are

dying every day.

What does success look like for these leaders this week?

BERTRAND: The White House has been saying that they do hope that a deliverable is going to come out of this, that a concrete kind of

announcement, in terms of whether it is more defensive, you know, a more defensive posture by NATO and the E.U. or whether it is additional weaponry

to Ukraine.

They do hope that something -- they can come up with something to concrete that will come out of these meetings. But again, the primary goal of this,

we're told, is to express something symbolic, which is that unity, that unity among the U.S. and its NATO allies and the Europeans against this

Russian aggression.

For the Ukrainians, that is not enough. The Ukrainians want something tangible. They want weapons, they want support from NATO, including a no-

fly zone, which they have called for many times over the last several weeks.

It does not seem like anything like that is going to happen. However, one concrete measure that is going to be discussed, according to the Poles, is

this idea of sending a NATO peacekeeping force into Ukraine.

Not all NATO members are on board with that by any means. The United States said they're not willing at this point to send in any U.S. forces, even as

part of a NATO mission.


BERTRAND: But the Poles say they're going to bring it up this week and it is going to be discussed -- Becky.

ANDERSON: Natasha is in Brussels. It is a busy city this week. We will keep you up to date on what is being achieved and what is not. Thank you.

The Swedish defense minister is slamming Moscow. His country, which is not a NATO member and isn't invited to that extraordinary summit in Brussels

this week, telling me a short time ago that he is looking closely at the pros and cons of his country now joining the alliance.


PETER HULTQVIST, SWEDISH DEFENSE MINISTER: We must also see what will happen if we apply for NATO membership.

What is the risk in -- if we do that?

And then we have to analyze the risk for cyber activities, hybrid activities, military attack, different sort of things that Russia maybe can

take initiative to. So we must also see what is the risk and we must also see the positive things with it.


ANDERSON: And in the next hour of CONNECT THE WORLD, Peter Hultqvist tells me more about that and how Europe is seeking, he says, to cause more pain

for the Russian economy.

And later, you will want to see this, my colleague, Christiane Amanpour, will have an exclusive live interview with the Kremlin's spokesperson,

Dmitry Peskov. That is tonight at 10:00 here Abu Dhabi time, 6:00 pm in London.

Meantime, we have got news out of Russia for you, that a long-time foe of the Kremlin been handed even more prison time. Alexey Navalny was convicted

of new charges in Moscow today. He was already behind bars for crimes he says he didn't commit and still blames Vladimir Putin for an attempt on his

life in 2020.

Atika Shubert joining us with more.

Perhaps not a surprise but the significance of this sentence is quite something.

ATIKA SHUBERT, JOURNALIST: Well, it is. I don't think it was a surprise to many Russia watchers. They knew this sentence was coming. The prosecutor

had asked for 13 years. The judge handed down nine years, a 9-year sentence in a maximum security prison.

This was on charge of fraud. According to the judge, Navalny stole from his own Anti-Corruption Foundation. Now that's a charge that both Navalny and

the foundation itself has denied. But it is a blow, without a doubt, to Navalny and his supporters, the fact that he will be seeing more time in


Navalny himself has been already serving a 2.5-year sentence for a probation violation. As you point out, he was poisoned with the nerve agent

Novichok in 2000. And he calls that an assassination attempt by Russia security services and he also blamed Russian president Vladimir Putin.

He was medevaced to Berlin for recovery. When he came back to Moscow on February 2021, he was immediately arrested on what was described as

probation violations during his time recuperating in Berlin. So this will be a blow.

But you know, Navalny himself was seen on a video link at the session. He looked thin, quite gaunt but otherwise unsurprised by this verdict. He

simply shuffled through the court papers there and, immediately after the session, a statement was put out on his official Twitter account, urging

people to support his Anti-Corruption Foundation and also to speak out against Russian censorship in the statement.

He said that Putin is afraid of the truth, Becky.

ANDERSON: Atika Shubert on the story for you. Thank you.

The numbers, they keep climbing, as millions of people flee war in Ukraine. The U.N. Is rushing to get more supplies to help refugees, as temperatures

dip in that region. Ukrainian refugees in Romania are trying to piece together a new life after fleeing their homeland. Some of their stories are

coming up.






NATALIA STRELCOVA, UKRAINIAN REFUGEE (through translator): -- rockets ready to fly and the residents fought. It is difficult. It becomes scary.

Panic starts. And you want to run somewhere. It is harder because of the children. We were worried something would happen to them.


ANDERSON: That is just one of the many, many horror stories from a Ukrainian refugee, arriving in Poland after she was able to successfully

flee Russia's bombardment in Ukraine's central Dnipro region.

Like her, more than 3.5 million people have fled this war in Ukraine. That's according to the U.N. Refugee Agency. Poland has welcomed most of

them, more than 2 million to be precise.

Those fleeing the war are facing yet another hurdle, though: plummeting temperatures. The U.N. says it is rushing to get more blankets, tents and

hot meals to help refugees, particularly in the country of Poland. Melissa Bell joining us live from near the Polish border with Ukraine.

Just how challenging are things at this point?

When we consider how many people we are talking about and the sort of stories that they bring with them, this is heartbreaking and such a

challenge, Melissa.

MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Such a challenge. Becky. Of course, they keep on coming. Here at the Medyka crossing, you see they come on foot.

Most of them are women and children. Perhaps you can see just coming up there with their prams as well.

And I think it is important, that voice we just heard, all the more so because of the scale of the situation. It is easy to forget the individual

stories and the trauma they're carrying. I think any mother watching will hear me when I say that, moving around with your small children is a

challenge at the best of times.

You're leaving home, you're fleeing your home with your children, whatever else you can grab, a bag, a suitcase, a pet often, lots of people traveling

with their pets, and heading into the unknown and leaving the father's children (sic) behind to fight, because fighting men cannot leave Ukraine.

So it is a lot that they have been through already. The ones arriving now, at this crossing, they arrive day and night, have, by definition, tried to

stay it out. These are the ones that are fleeing the towns that we have been hearing the horrors from, these last few days, Kharkiv, Irpin, Sumy,

all those towns we have been hearing the atrocities about, seeing those horrible events unfold.

This is what they're fleeing and the trauma of which they're carrying with them. Then you take the scale of it. Poland, as you say, has received the

most Ukrainian refugees so far, more than 2 million. It is a logistical challenge, almost beyond reckoning, that has had to be sorted out over the

course of just over three weeks.

Now Germany is now calling for the creation, Becky, of humanitarian hubs to allow and better facilitate the movement, the distribution of Ukrainian

refugees across the European Union.

But clearly Poland has so far borne the brunt of that. It is an extraordinary challenge. There also brings with it some extraordinary acts

of individual kindness, solidarity. And we have seen those repeated over and over again.

People here in the local towns that have made their rooms available, their cars available, people who have just come to show support or just bring

basic groceries along to women who they know who will need them so badly.

ANDERSON: Melissa Bell on the story there.

Your reporting so important, Melissa, thank you.

More than half a million Ukrainian refugees have also entered Romania.


ANDERSON: Some of the families waiting in a Bucharest shelter spoke with my colleague, Miguel Marquez, about the struggles they're facing, as

they're coming to terms with what they have lost.


MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Ludnida Zhidik (ph), her two teenage daughters and her father arrived last night.

"Our beautiful parks, our beautiful square," she says, "everything is ruined."

From Kharkiv city punished by Russian artillery and rockets. A schoolteacher, Zhidik (ph) has some savings but not much. Their three-day

journey brought them to this shelter, run by the city of Bucharest.

"I'm shocked war is possible in 2022," she says. "Everything was good. I could walk with my friends. I love my home city. It was very difficult to

leave watching."

Sofia's (ph) sister says it's hard to believe their lives have been thrown into such enormous uncertainty.

ANASTASIA ZHIDIK, KHARKIV REFUGEE: I really miss my house, my country, my city. And I hope that this war is going to finish.

MARQUEZ: Andrei Tesman (ph), a furniture maker had his own business. He's here with his wife, kids in all a family of eight and their chihuahua,


(on camera): Do you know when you will go home?


MARQUEZ: Big question.

(voice-over): A friend sent video of what their home now looks like. This is your home.

TESMAN (ph): That is my home. This is my room. Bedroom.

MARQUEZ: Bedroom.

TESMAN (ph): It's my bedroom.

MARQUEZ: Unlivable. The entire neighborhood destroyed by possibly a rocket or artillery fire. Nothing to go back to.

(on camera): At 60 years old, are you starting over again?

I don't want to, he says but I have to. His son is in Florida. The family has inquired about visas to travel to the U.S. But so far -- we haven't

tried to apply for visas, he says. His wife adds my son sent several messages to embassies and to people in Washington DC. The message they got

back, America does not accept refugees for now.

The Biden administration looking for ways to speed up applications for now World Vision is helping these refugees and tens of thousands more in

Romania alone. There needs deepening.

ANDREA BUJOR, WORLD VISION ROMANIA: The people that are coming now. These people really, really need help and there are a lot of people we were at

the border and I was at the border I talked to a lot of people that didn't have any money, any plan.

MARQUEZ: Julia Muliarchuk and her 8-year-old son David named for David Beckham from Kyiv, arrived two weeks ago.

(on camera): When you decided to leave. How long did you have to pack?

JULIA MULIARCHUK, KYIV REFUGEE: Well, I had to run three hours.

MARQUEZ: Three hours.

MULIARCHUK: Yes, yes. Yes.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): A few bags, documents and family photos.

(on camera): Who is this?

MULIARCHUK: It's me and my husband 10 years ago.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): She calls her mother in Kyiv every morning.

MULIARCHUK: So it's like, hello, Mom. Are you OK?

And we talk and talk. She say, yes, it seems like it's been quiet night and then I'm speaking to my husband and my friends.

MARQUEZ (on camera): It's like a full-time job.

MULIARCHUK: Not a full-time job but you have to be sure that everyone is OK because it's nothing for sure now. Nothing.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): She wants to go home.

But when?

(on camera): When do you think you can go home?

MULIARCHUK: God knows when. Nobody knows.

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


ANDERSON: Well, the dire situation back home just got worse. Mercy Court is warning some towns seeing the most intense fighting across Ukraine will

run out of food within three to four days.

The aid agency says the humanitarian system in the country is entirely broken and that international aid is not getting to the people on the

ground, who are mostly now depending on local organizations for help.

Well, coming up, history in the making in the U.S. Capitol, as Senate Republicans have some tough questions for the first Black woman nominated

to the Supreme Court. We'll get you a report from there.





ANDERSON: Day two of an historic confirmation hearing is underway for U.S. President Joe Biden's Supreme Court nominee. Right now, Ketanji Brown

Jackson is fielding questions from lawmakers on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Now she is the first African American woman to be nominated for

the nation's highest court.

Earlier she was asked about the controversial topic of changing the size of the court. Have a listen.


SEN. RICHARD DURBIN (D-IL), DEMOCRATIC WHIP; CHAIR, SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: If a senator were to ask you today about proposals about

changing the current size of the Supreme Court, what would your response be?

JUDGE KETANJI BROWN JACKSON, SUPREME COURT NOMINEE: Senator, I agree with Justice Barrett in her response to that question when she was asked before

this committee. Again, my north star is the consideration of the proper role of a judge in our constitutional scheme.

And in my view, judges should not be speaking to political issues and certainly not a nominee for a position on the Supreme Court.


ANDERSON: Let's bring in CNN's Manu Raju live on Capitol Hill.

This, of course, is a very consequential hearing for a new Supreme Court judge and Jackson determined she will be independent, a neutral arbiter, if

you will, if confirmed.

How does what we heard to date compare to those hearings that we have seen in the recent past?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, in a lot of ways, the answers are very similar to what other nominees have said as they come

before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Oftentimes, they say they will be a neutral arbiter; they would apply the facts as they see them, as they would be essentially an umpire, baseball

umpires, someone that calls balls and strikes, as the chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court John Roberts famously said back in his confirmation


She said she would stay in her own lane as a judge. She would not go beyond the power as a justice if she were to be confirmed to the highest court in

the United States.

Now what we have seen off the top of this hearing is Democrats trying to essentially take off the criticism she has gotten from Republicans, take

that off the table. You played that one portion about expanding the size of the U.S. Supreme Court; she said she did not want to weigh in on that, just

the same way that Trump Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett did not want to do, either.


RAJU: That is a big controversial issue here in the United States, in which some Democrats, some liberals in particular, want to add the number

of justices, currently at nine, to go more than nine. She said she couldn't weigh in on, quote, "political issues."

Also, the issue of sentencing sex offenders, that is something that Republicans have gone after her when she -- her time serving as a federal

district court judge, suggesting that she was lenient on her sentencing guidelines, sentencing of those sex offenders.

She said that was certainly not the case; she discussed her handling of this; she discussed her disdain to sex offenders and exactly her background

on that.

In addition to the representation of detainees at Guantanamo Bay, while she was a public defender, that is another issue in which Republicans have

seized upon. But she said, as an attorney, you don't get to pick your clients as a criminal defense lawyer.

So we'll see if any Republicans are moved by her defense. There is much more questioning ahead.

This is a hugely consequential day for her. If she is emerges unscathed today, with 30 minutes of questioning for the 22 members of the Senate

Judiciary Committee, there's a very good chance she sits on the Supreme Court as they head into day two of questioning tomorrow and eventual

confirmation votes in a few weeks ahead.

ANDERSON: Manu, always a pleasure. Thank you, sir.

Let's get you up to speed on the other stories on our radar right now.

"Neither imminent nor certain," that's what the U.S. State Department is telling the world about an agreement to salvage the Iran nuclear deal. This

comes after the U.S. has said repeatedly in recent weeks that significant progress had been made in those talks in Vienna.

China reported nearly 4,600 new COVID cases Tuesday, as it tackles an Omicron surge. Shanghai closed its public parks. And residents say some

neighborhoods are being sealed after the city reported its highest numbers in weeks. China is now starting to administer Pfizer's antiviral drug,


The U.S. is moving to crack down on Chinese officials accused of repressive acts. Secretary of state Antony Blinken says the U.S. will restrict their

visas. He said the measures would target those who take part in repressing dissidents or ethnic or religious groups.

Just ahead on this show, a routine flight gone horribly wrong. One of the most commonly used planes in the airline industry quite literally fell from

the sky in China. And now investigators are trying to find out why.




ANDERSON: Right, you're with CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Becky Anderson. It is 20 to 7:00 here in Abu Dhabi. This program is broadcast from our Middle

East programming hub.

China's vice premier has traveled to the city of Guangzhou, not far from where a China Eastern plane carrying 132 people crashed on Monday.


ANDERSON: Investigators are still trying to determine what caused this jet to plunge more than 7,000 meters in less than two minutes.


ANDERSON (voice-over): This chilling video appears to show an aircraft plummeting from the sky in a nose dive and then crashing into the

mountains. The accident is China's worst air disaster in more than a decade.


ANDERSON: Will Ripley is in the region, he joins me tonight from Taipei.

What do we know at this point?

You and I spoke at this time yesterday, we were just getting word of this; 24 hours on, what is the latest?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There was a press conference, Becky, within the last couple of hours with the Chinese investigators, who have

not formally requested the help, by the way, of Boeing or the National Transportation Safety Board in the United States. So there are some

questions about transparency of this.

The press conference basically talked about, you know, acting in the spirit of Xi Jinping, the Chinese president's orders, but didn't give us a lot of

new information. They said no survivors have been found. There have been some charred wallets and ID cards and pieces of clothing recovered.

But nothing that has made them comfortable to even identify anybody who was on that flight yet. State media has been reporting stories; apparently a

group on the plane was headed to a funeral, in Guangzhou, where the relatives are gathered.

The flight is a pretty short flight, a short haul trip. They almost made it to their destination when the crash happened, when they plummeted around 7

kilometers in less than three minutes, as you mentioned, nose-diving directly into the side of that mountain, creating an explosion and

scattering debris all over this mountainous area.

It is an area that is very difficult to reach with mountains on three sides and one narrow pathway in. No electricity there and bad weather has been

hampering the accessibility for rescuers as well.

But in terms of the investigation, Becky, there was no inclement weather at the time of the crash.

So there still is that big open question, why did this happen?

ANDERSON: Will Ripley on the story. Will, thank you.

Well, we have seen plenty of businesses pulling out of Russia over its war in Ukraine. Well, now a Russian Olympian is reportedly losing a major