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Firefight Erupts in Village Near Kyiv; Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy Addresses French National Assembly; UNGA Holds Special Session on Ukraine; Family Reunites in Poland after Harrowing Journey; Chelsea FC Sale. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired March 23, 2022 - 10:00   ET




BECKY ANDERSON, CNN HOST (voice-over): I'm Becky Anderson. It's 6:00 pm here in Abu Dhabi. Hello and welcome to CONNECT THE WORLD.

In this hour, the U.S. President is on his way to Europe in one of the highest stakes presidential trips in recent memory. Joe Biden heading to

Brussels for an emergency NATO summit and two other meetings to stop Putin's war on Ukraine.

Before leaving, the president with sobering comments on what Ukraine could be facing in the future.


JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Mr. President, how concerned are you about the threat of chemical warfare right now, that

Russia could use chemical weapons?

How high is that threat?

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think it's a real threat.


ANDERSON: There's no sign the Russian president will end hostilities anytime soon.


ANDERSON (voice-over): This video is of intense fighting just outside Kyiv. The battle happening in a village just northeast of the capital.

There is also more Russian shelling reported inside Kyiv today.

This coming as Ukrainian forces appear to make advances in some parts of the country, fighting to reclaim territory captured by Russians, while

Russian ground forces move in from the north and the south, trying to surround Ukrainian troops in the eastern part of the country.


ANDERSON: Well, Ben Wedeman connects with us from Kyiv. Jim Bittermann is in Paris.

Ben, on the ground, Ukrainian forces are regaining some control in a town just west of Kyiv.

What does this all suggest about the level of control for Ukraine around the capital and then further afield at this point?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Becky, if you look at sort of the big picture, certainly compared to the situation a month ago,

when this war began, it certainly does seem to appear that, perhaps in some areas, the tide is beginning to turn, particularly in this western suburb

of Kyiv, Irpin, a very strategic area, where Russians have been focusing a lot of their firepower.

But we heard today from the mayor of Kyiv that Ukrainian forces now control about 80 percent of that strategic suburb, which the Russians were trying

to control as part of their effort to encircle the capital.

So that certainly does represent a significant change on the ground, even though Irpin continues to come under fairly heavy bombardment from the

Russian forces.

Elsewhere in the country, in the besieged town of Mariupol, what we're seeing is that the siege continues with its barbarity, the severity of the

Russian bombardment.

But not only that, apparently 11 buses that had been sent in, empty buses, to evacuate some of the people, the civilians remaining inside that city,

were commandeered by the Russians, along with the drivers.

So that town continues to suffer significantly. It's one of the hardest areas for the civilian population. One significant development we also

learned today is the first part of a shipment of an $800 million package of weaponry to Ukraine from the United States has begun to arrive in the

country -- Becky.

ANDERSON: Ben's on the ground. Jim's in Paris.

And as I bring you in -- Ben, I do note that Zelenskyy is about to begin addressing lawmakers in Paris. He's on a tour of sort of G7 countries,

addressing lawmakers in parliaments around the world. It will be interesting to see what he says today.

Bottom line, you know, you're in Europe. The war grinds on, as Ben has reminded us in Ukraine.

What can we expect this week?

JIM BITTERMANN, CNN SR. INTL. CORRESPONDENT: Well, as far as the Europeans are concerned, they're expecting some leadership from Joseph Biden. He's on

his way here and he's going to kick things off with a NATO summit meeting with the other leaders.


BITTERMANN: And the other leaders are going to want him to set the tone about what exactly they think he can do or what ideas he might have. They

might have some ideas of their own. I mean, it's been appalling, the kind of aggressions they're thinking about, that the NATO organization should

take as a whole.

Other people have been less aggressive, Hungary, as an example. But there are suggestions on the table. They're all going to have to get together to

talk about this.

We're going to see President Zelenskyy coming up before the French parliament at any moment now. As you said, he's been making a tour of the

G7 parliaments by videoconference. He was in Japan by videoconference. And he basically told the Japanese he would like them to do more and put more

pressure on Russia.

They are -- the Japanese one of the first countries to impose sanctions on Russia. So he's kind of pushing at an open door there, in the sense that

Japanese are certainly in support of Ukraine.

Here, he's going to meet a very receptive audience in the French parliament. They'll probably be happy to do whatever they can do, short of

committing weapons and whatnot.

It should be said that Emmanuel Macron, the president, has been endlessly going back and forth, at least in phone calls, between Vladimir Putin and

Volodymyr Zelenskyy. He, in fact, has talked to Putin eight times since this crisis began and 17 times with Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

He's trying to be the shuttle diplomat. It hasn't worked so far. However, he said last night, Becky, after talking with Putin for about an hour,

there's no sign of a cease-fire, which would be the first step in any kind of negotiating peace -- Becky.

ANDERSON: So your sense, Jim, at this point, is that Europeans, other NATO allies, are looking to Joe Biden for direction. After all, it's the U.S.

who has set the direction with regard this diplomacy, with everybody sort of slightly playing catch-up, correct, and sort of ensuring that they stay

in the fold.

But it's Joe Biden that these European leaders and NATO allies now look for further direction.

I think at this point, people are saying, what have we got left in the toolbox, right?

BITTERMANN: Well, it is the case. I mean, they could impose sanctions on more people in Russia. For example, they talked about yesterday in

Washington the idea of imposing sanctions on members of the Duma, the parliament in Russia. That could have some impact. But it wouldn't have all

that much in the sense that the sanctions --


ANDERSON: Jim, let's bring in -- let me jump in. I want to bring in Zelenskyy, who is speaking to lawmakers now in Paris. You'll want to hear

this. Let's listen in.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): I am grateful to have the honor of addressing you today. I am sure that you know

very well what is happening in Ukraine.

You know why this happened. You know he's guilty. And even those who hide their heads in the sand try to find money. And I'm addressing you, to the

honest, rational people, I would like to ask a question, how to stop this war, how to install peace in Ukraine because the majority of the questions

and the answers are common.

On the 9th of March, Russian air bombardments were launched with attacks against a hospital, a maternity home in Mariupol, in a peaceful city in the

south of Ukraine, completely peaceful until the Russian troops arrived and took it with a brutal siege as in the Middle Ages and began to kill people

where the Russians launched the bomb.

There were women, there were children preparing to shelter. And the majority of them survived. Others were seriously wounded. One woman had to

be -- have her foot amputated. Another woman had a fracture. She had a baby, who died before birth. The -- we tried to save the woman, to ask for



ZELENSKYY (through translator): But they wouldn't -- you know, to get help. But she saw no reason to live and she died.

In Ukraine, in Europe, in 2022, hundreds of millions of people cannot imagine that the world could be destroyed. I ask you to observe a minute's

silence, in the memory of the Ukrainians who have been killed following the Russian invasion.

Thank you.

Following weeks of Russian invasion, Mariupol and other Ukrainian towns and cities, struck by the occupier, like photos from the First World War,

everybody has seen, the Russian army does not distinguish targets.

And they destroy everything, including residential districts, universities, everything, including food and medicine -- medical warehouses. They do not

take into account the concepts of war crimes or obligations, according to the conventions.

And they've brought terror to the Ukrainians' soil. And I ask you, you have all the information available, all the facts on the women raped by Russian

soldiers, on the refugees killed on the roads, on the journalists they killed, knowing exactly that they are journalists.

Those who survived then have had to flee following Russian strikes. Europe has not seen this for 80 years.

What has happened in Ukraine?

There are despairing people who just want to die. In 2019, when I became president, there were people to try to hold negotiations with the Russian

Federation to end the war in Donbas, the war in the east of Ukraine, which has been going on for eight years.

And fought states participating, Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France for they represented everybody, all the positions of the world, all the

positions. Someone tried to support. But others tried to delay the process, to interrupt the process. But it seemed important with this Normandy table.

And when there were results, when we succeeded in freeing people who were in captivity, when we were able to negotiate certain decisions in 2019,

there was a sense of fresh air, of hope, that Russia could help, that the leaders of Russia could be convinced by the words to choose peace.

But on the 24th of February, when the day that blocked all efforts and even the concept to stop the European attempt at relations with Russia,

everything was bombed by Russian troops, crushed and burned by strikes of Russian missiles.

We did not find the truth and we had to seek the truth on the battlefield. So what is left for us, value, unity and determination to defend our

freedom, our common freedom.


ZELENSKYY (through translator): For Paris, for Kyiv, for Berlin, Madrid, Rome, Brussels, Bratislava, this fresh air will not help us. We have to act

together, to put pressure together, so that Russia seeks peace.

Ladies and gentlemen, the French people, on the 24th of February, the Ukrainian people united and now we no longer have representatives of the

right or the left, as those who represent the government and the coalition and the opposition. We think of installing peace to protect our country.

We are grateful to France but France is helping us. We are very grateful to the efforts of President Macron, who showed real leadership constantly.

We're in contact with him. And Ukrainians see that France also appreciates the truth must be protected.

You know what freedom, equality, fraternity is. Each word is important. I sense this and Ukrainians feel this. We expect from France, from your

leadership, that you can help to ensure that Russia seeks peace to end this war, this war on liberty, equality and freedom, that everything -- that

made Europe free and diverse.

We expect from France your leadership, to have integrity of Ukrainian territory as a whole and that -- those who have doubts amongst those

present, I can say to you that your people are certain, like all other peoples of Europe.

And with the -- during the French presidency of the European Union, measures were taken -- will be taken about -- for Ukraine to join the

E.U.'s historic decision, as was always the case with the history of the French people.

Ladies and gentlemen, French people, tomorrow, it will be one month that Ukrainians have been fighting for their freedom. Our army has been working,

fighting against the superior forces of Russia. We need help, more help, more support, so that freedom is not lost, to support the army with the

tanks, antitank weapons, plane -- fighting planes.

We need our freedom to not be lost, to be supported with sanctions against the aggressor with four weeks. The French companies have to leave the

Russian market, must stop being the sponsors of Russia's war machine.

They must stop financing the murdering of children and women, of rapes. Everybody must remember the values. We must remember our values, to think

about the future, the way in which we're going to live after the war. So we need guarantees for security, which must be guaranteed.

We are creating this system of guarantees, a new system of safety and security. France will have a key role to play, so that nobody should ever

be faced with death in fighting for their lives, not to be in a state of war. When the time comes, with dignity, because we must live to be



ZELENSKYY (through translator): To say goodbye in the way France said goodbye to Belmondo.

Thank you, France, and long live Ukraine.


ANDERSON: The Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, speaking by video link to the French parliament. He reminded his audience, Thursday will be a

month since the war started.

And he asked the French lawmakers there to observe a minute of silence for the Ukrainians who have died in this Russian invasion, an assault, he said,

that doesn't distinguish between military and civilian targets.

He said the Ukrainian people are united and said that they are grateful to France and to the efforts of Emmanuel Macron. He said, you know what

freedom, equality and fraternity means and he called on French companies to get out of Russia, to stop financing this war machine, as he described it.

Let's bring in Jim Bittermann who's in Paris and my colleague, Christine Amanpour, who is in Brussels, ahead of what is an extremely busy week of


Jim, let me start with you.

What did you make of what you heard from Zelenskyy there?

And how will that go down with French lawmakers?

BITTERMANN: Well, I can tell you the way he started, with appealing to them as honest and rational people, that's something that goes over very

big with the French, kind of flattering them in the idea that he's expecting them to do more.

And then he went on to list some specific things, some of the things you've mentioned, the fact that French companies are still doing business there.

We heard today from Total, that they're going to end their Russian gas and oil purchases by the end of the year but only by the end of the year.

And we heard yesterday that Renault, very curiously, is going to start up some manufacturing in Russia but only for three days. It's unclear why

they're doing that.

He also said specifically he expects, during the French presidency, that President Macron make a bid for Ukraine to join the European Union. That's

something we've heard about and it's been talked about before but he's putting the aim right at President Macron to do that.

He's thanked them for all the kinds of help they've seen, they've given Ukraine. And I think this is maybe one of the most important or at least a

key part of his speech, was that he expects France and the Europeans to maintain and to restore the Ukrainian territory, which would include

Crimea, if it's in the definition that many of the nationalists in Ukraine would have.

So in fact, that's going to be a key issue, it looks like maybe a key stumbling block in any kind of negotiations that go on -- Becky.

ANDERSON: Yes, absolutely.

Christiane, he said this war must stop.

The question is how at this point and who has what to offer?

All eyes on Joe Biden, the U.S. President, around whom the rest of NATO and the Europeans have sort of allied and united in all of this.

What's left?

What's left in his toolbox at this point?

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: To be honest with you, the United States and European leaders are very concerned that these talks happening between

Russia and the Ukraine delegates may be Russia playing for time.

You heard what Dmitry Peskov, the spokesman told me last night, that Putin's maximum goals still remain on the table and this war was going to

continue, because he said he acknowledged their goals have not yet been achieved.

Nonetheless insisted things are going according to plan. So it looks like the Russian side is not ready for any meaningful negotiations. Their goals

are exactly what Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he didn't want to happen and that is to hold on, the Russians, to Crimea and to Eastern Donbas. They want

still a neutral and demilitarized Ukraine.

But that territorial thing that they want and for the world to accept it and recognize it, is going to be a huge stumbling block. Now in terms of

the united front that the European Union is showing and NATO, that continues. We're here in Brussels, a very important week of summitry.

President Biden is coming to both these summits.


AMANPOUR: And on the energy question, which Jim and President Zelenskyy touched on, there is an acknowledgement here that the reality is, Europe is

much more dependent on Russian gas and oil than the United States is. This is what the president of the council Charles Michel told me about that.


CHARLES MICHEL, EUROPEAN COUNCIL PRESIDENT: We must be intelligent. The goal is to target Russia. The goal is to be painful against Russia. The

goal is that to be painful for ourselves. And I think it's important for us at the Europeans' level to protect our economic strength, our economic


This is the key condition in order to be able to support Ukraine and to take painful measures against Russia.


AMANPOUR: And Charles Michel said that they need to inflict a defeat on Vladimir Putin. He said Putin and Putinism needs to be defeated, not just

in Ukraine but for the whole world.

So this is very clear. NATO and the E.U. say that's what they're committed to, whether it's in terms of sanctions, whether it's in terms of lethal aid

that's going apace to Ukraine to help them in their resistance.

ANDERSON: Fascinating. You have to also, what's left in the toolbox, it may become clearer in the next 48 hours. For the time being, thank you.

Christiane is in Brussels, describing summits going on. Both summits will be attended by Joe Biden.

Jim Bittermann is in Paris.

Thank you, both.

We are taking a short break. Back after this.




ANDERSON: Welcome back. You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD.

As the world awaits high-stakes NATO and European meetings in Brussels, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg says he expects the alliance to strengthen its

posture. His comments come as aid agencies say food and water in Ukraine are running out because the humanitarian system is broken.

We're hearing that rescue buses headed for the besieged city of Mariupol never got there. Ukraine is accusing Russia of seizing them.

At this hour, the U.N. General Assembly is opening a special session on Kyiv's resolution, condemning Russia for not allowing access to

humanitarian aid. The U.N. chief has a mention for Moscow.


ANTONIO GUTERRES, UNITED NATIONS SECRETARY-GENERAL: Continuing the war in Ukraine is not only unacceptable, politically indefensible and militarily



GUTERRES: What I said from this podium almost one month ago should be even more evident today. By any measure, by even the sheerest calculation (ph),

it is time to stop the fighting now and give peace a chance. It is time to end this absurd war.


ANDERSON: Well, CNN's Richard Roth is at the United Nations and is live.

In the big scheme of things, why does what is going on at the U.N. today would this vote matter, Richard?

RICHARD ROTH, CNN SENIOR U.N. CORRESPONDENT: It's hard to make the case for it because it's not enforceable. But it does show how the world is

lined up against Russia, if they did not already understand that.

The last time the General Assembly voted on a resolution against Russia, 141 countries were on the side against Moscow. When we get to a vote here,

it's going to be very interesting to see if support is gained or lost over the last few weeks.

Now there are two competing resolutions, by the way, one submitted by 25 and more countries, including Ukraine and the United States. That one does

mention Russia's hostilities and aggression against Ukraine.

Another resolution by South Africa does not mention Russia. There may even be action on a Russian resolution later today in the Security Council.

There are 65 speakers or so. That is the way of the U.N.

But I understand the question. We get it all the time, how the United Nations is all talk. There's no U.N. army here. But it does line up

politically, the clout of the U.N., that there's nowhere for Russia to hide here at the U.N.

Now if the aggression continues and things get really ugly and horrible, even beyond where they are now, could we see a move to punish Russia even

further at the U.N.?

Anything is possible. So it's always things that mount in these incremental moments here at the U.N., before maybe further action, Becky.

ANDERSON: No, and you make a very good point. That was what I was hoping to elicit from you, this is incremental, isn't it. You know, ultimately

it's a kind of push toward sort of outright condemnation of the world coming together in favor of trying to find a solution to this war. Thank


As the U.N. armed (ph) groups try to find more ways to get aid into Ukraine, Western Europe is ramping up plans to help those escaping the

violence. The U.N. Refugee Agency says more than 3.6 million people -- I have to repeat to you. This has been going on for war (ph).

And more than 3.6 million people have now fled the country of Ukraine. Some of them have reached safety in neighboring countries, as you will well

know, if you're a regular guest of this -- regular viewer of this show, after harrowing ordeals. That's the story from one family, as we hear from

CNN's Ed Lavandera. Have a look.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tucked away in the back of the train station in Przemysl, Poland, we see the latest train from Ukraine

arrive, filled with families escaping war.

And it is where we find Tatiana Trut (ph) and her husband, Vitaly (ph), waving joyfully at one of the carriages. This train is carrying special


Through the metal barricades, Tatiana (ph) sees her son, two sisters and their three children, walking off the train. She's waited three

excruciating weeks for this moment.

LAVANDERA: You have a very big smile on your face, I imagine that you are very happy right now.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): "Yes," he says, "it's very scary there. And we've been waiting for them for a very long time."

Tatiana (ph) also tells us they could not leave for a long time.

The family tells us their journey to get to Poland was a path through death and destruction. They live in a small village south of Kyiv. They say the

only road that Ukrainian civilians could use to escape was constantly attacked by Russian forces.

He says, "There was shelling from both sides. Everyone who wanted to leave by car was simply shot. We were afraid that if our family decided to leave,

we would lose them. We waited a long time for the military to allow it.

"We waited for the Russian troops to be removed so that our family could leave. And we succeeded. We immediately told them to go."

This was the escape route; the sisters' father drove them in his car from their village to the city of Mykolaiv. From there, they jumped in a minibus

helping families escape to Odessa. That's where they boarded the train that brought them to Poland.


LAVANDERA: The area this family escaped has seen brutal warfare the last three weeks. Tatiana (ph) was in Poland working and couldn't return home in

time when the war broke out. She says her son often told her about hearing military planes flying over their home and missiles exploding.

Finally, the family is reunited outside the train station. In the moment, it seemed unnecessary to ask Tatiana (ph) what this moment meant to her.

Sometimes hugs and kisses speak far louder than words -- Ed Lavandera, CNN, Przemysl, Poland.


ANDERSON: Russia's war on Ukraine has devastated so many lives. For some, including the most innocent, it's disrupted critical cancer treatment. Now

four Ukrainian children with cancer and their families have just arrived at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee.

The children range in age from 9 months old to 9 years old. The U.S. State Department coordinated with St. Jude's to transport the group from Poland.

There is some good out there, isn't there. If you would like to help people in Ukraine, who may need shelter, food and water, head to

There are several ways you can help. And over $5 million is being raised through the use of that site so it does work. Please use it and do what you


Let's get you up to speed on some other stories on our radar right now. The Taliban have postponed a much anticipated return to school for girls.

Afghan girls above the 6th grade were due to go back to school for the first time in 187 days. A Taliban run news agency says girls were told to

stay home until an appropriate school uniform for them was designed.

An investigation into the China Eastern plane crash said ground stations didn't get a mayday signal before it crashed on Monday. They say the plane

maintained normal communication up until its sudden descent.


ANDERSON (voice-over): Here you see the deep crater on the ground; 132 people were onboard.


ANDERSON: Calls from protesters demanding the British monarchy apologize for its role in the slave trade and for reparations growing in Jamaica. The

Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visited the former British colony. The couple in Jamaica on a three-day trip to mark the 70th anniversary of Queen

Elizabeth's coronation.

Coming up next, a makeshift sea blockade. Ukrainian soldiers tried to pull off an audacious stunt to spite a Russian oligarch. You need to see this.





ANDERSON: Have a look at this.


ANDERSON (voice-over): A group of Ukrainian sailors tried to block a yacht tied to Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich from docking in Turkey. The coach

told CNN blocking the yacht was a decision the whole team made together, saying, quote, "We just want to show everyone who Ukraine is."


ANDERSON: Sort of David and Goliath stuff, isn't it.

Roman Abramovich is known as the owner of the Chelsea Football Club. He's being forced to sell the team. One of those wanting to buy it is the

Ricketts family, who own Major League Baseball clubs. They are under fire for xenophobic comments made by Joe Ricketts in 2019. There's been backlash

with a #NoToRicketts.

The family defend their record and say they say they reject any form of hate in the strongest possible terms.

"Racism and Islamophobia have no place whatsoever in our society."