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Russian Strikes Destroy Town and Homes Outside Kyiv; White House Walks Back Biden's Comments on Putin; CNN Speaks to Qatari Foreign Minister; U.N. Secretary-General Speaks About Ukraine; Will Smith Slaps Chris Rock, Overshadows Awards Show; Displaced People find Sanctuary up in the Mountains. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired March 28, 2022 - 11:00   ET



BECKY ANDERSON, CNN HOST, CONNECT THE WORLD: Well, Russia's invasion of Ukraine in its second month scores of civilians dead in entire city's

flattened and perhaps troubling no end in sight at least not yet. I'm Becky Anderson. Hello and welcome back to "Connect the World".

It's been another day of intense Russian airstrikes on Ukraine. This is video of smoke rising around the Capital Kyiv where our CNN crew has been

hearing explosions throughout the day. We'll get a live report from Kyiv in just a moment for you. The Mayor of Irpin a suburb of Kyiv, telling CNN

Ukrainian forces have retaken that city. CNN cannot independently verify that claim.

An advisor to Ukraine's President reporting attacks on cities in the northeast and in the northwest of the country. And claiming Mariupol now

faces - new video from their shows residents returning to their destroyed homes. Ukraine's President describing what has happened to Mariupol as a

humanitarian catastrophe.

The mayor today saying his city is "In the hands of the occupiers". France's Foreign Minister comparing conditions there to what happened

during serious war. Have a listen.


JEAN-YVES LE DRIAN, FRENCH FOREIGN MINISTER: You can see Mariupol was a second Aleppo and there will be collective guilt if we don't do anything

Mariupol siege warfare.


ANDERSON: Well he saying Mariupol as a second Aleppo, he said. With Russia's drive to capture the Capital stole the Head of Ukraine's Military

Intelligence speculating at least that Russian President Vladimir Putin could now be looking to carve the country in two like North and South


Well, as Ukrainian troops fight to hold the line around the Capital, local officials there say kids are going to go back to school though it will be

online not in person. The city also loosening its curfew a bit CNN's Fred Pleitgen has the view from the capital of Kyiv for you.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Becky yes, there's a lot going on in the Ukrainian capital. It's really been happening

throughout the entire night, the morning and then into the afternoon hours as well, as we've heard very heavy shelling a lot heavier than we did

throughout the course of the entire weekend.

Also air raid sirens going off frequently and just those studs that you hear constantly here in the Ukrainian Capital and there are plumes of

smoke, especially over the northwestern districts of the city. Of course, there you have that district that we keep talking about called Irpin, where

a lot of the fighting seems to be concentrated.

The Ukrainians in the past have said that they control about 80 percent of that area after pushing Russian forces out but that they are still being

shelled there. And you know, from what we've seen, there really are a lot of smoke plumes over that area and some pretty big noises coming from there

as well.

The spokesman for the Ukrainian army is saying you know that the Russians seem to have launched somewhat of a small counter offensive trying to take

some towns and smaller villages and some streets, but so far, he says that the Ukrainian military is holding them up.

The Deputy Defense Minister said that she believes that the Russians are trying to create corridors around the city, which seems to mean they're

still trying to encircle the Ukrainian Capital, obviously, so far, not having very much success at that.

And then you have the Ukrainian President who came out and said that apparently dress or ceremonial uniforms were found, with the Russians

seeming to indicate that they were preparing for some sort of victory parade here in Kyiv obviously, that's not something it's going to happen

anytime soon.

So far the defenses of the city holding up and the Ukrainian saying they are on a counter offensive Becky.

ANDERSON: Well, that's Fred's reporting from the Capital. I want to get you a view of the damage just south of where Fred is ITV's Rohit Kachroo

reports from a town that has been obliterated by Russian strikes.


ROHIT KACHROO, ITV NEWS (on camera): Shevchenko survived, but not much else did. A statue of the Ukrainian poet still stands after almost everything

else was wiped out by a Russian air strike. The library was hit. Residents take the books they might have once borrowed.

The town hall was destroyed too and the shop for kids and the pharmacy and even the off license. Village one hour from Kyiv, and it tells two stories.

The crater reveals the force of Russian might. But there's a story of failure to more than a month into this war life of sorts carries on.

The Russian troops never arrived although plans were laid to stop them getting in. It looks like an earthquake hit. There is complete destruction

absolutely everywhere.


KACHROO (on camera): But maybe the most interesting thing to see is not the fact this place was flattened but the fact it wasn't flattened into

submission. In the Capital monument to being protected, as history is rewritten because met with a face resistance, Moscow now says it no longer

wants to focus on the Capital. But the Ukrainians don't believe that.

COL. OLEKSANDR MOTUZANYK, UKRAINIAN DIFENSE MINISTRY SPOKESMAN: We cannot trust them. At the moment, we don't see any withdrawal of Russian troops

from certain areas of Kyiv. Because you needn't go far from Kyiv to see the area around it was in Russia's sites until not long ago. And the strategist

protecting the Capital believes nothing has changed. Rohit Kachroo, ITV News.


ANDERSON: Well, the Capital, Kyiv itself, easing its curfew however, the city of Zaporizhzhia in the southwest part of Ukraine, effectively under

lockdown. CNN's Ivan Watson got access to that city to see how Police are enforcing what is a daytime curfew.


IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): This is a checkpoint at the entrance to the Eastern Ukrainian City of Zaporizhzhia.

But this is an unusual day the government has imposed a city wide daytime curfew traffic is not being allowed in or out. And we're getting a look

with the local police force at how they're enforcing this emergency curfew.

I'm getting a tour of the city with two local police inspectors, we have past many deployed Ukrainian soldiers we cannot show them or film them for

their safety. Given that there is a full-fledged war taking place in this country. What is striking about this daytime curfew is that a city of

nearly a million inhabitants is now a complete ghost town.

ROMAN PANCHENKO, POLICE INSPECTOR: My name is Roman Panchenko. I'm Ukrainian police for over six years. I like my job. I'm proud of my work

this territory of the city only policeman and some military, every car which goes to the city is checked.

WATSON (on camera): The police say it's easier to maintain security and search for suspected Russian collaborators when the city is locked down.

How far away is the Russian army right now from where we are?

PANCHENKO: Russia Army is several fronts but the nearest place where Russian tanks dislocated is maybe 30 kilometers from this place.

WATSON (on camera): A half hour by car.

PANCHENKO: Yes, yes, you right.

WATSON (on camera): Would you defend Zaporizhzhia if the Russian army comes here? I mean, you're not soldiers you're police. Would you fight?

PANCHENKO: I'm a man. I'm a man. I'm Ukrainian man. It's for me. It's very shameful men, not to protect his family not to protect his child, not to

protect his life.

WATSON (on camera): The people here know what happened to other Ukrainian cities and towns that have been attacked by the Russian military. They

don't want that to happen here. But they say if it does they're ready.


ANDERSON: Ivan Watson reporting for you right. Away from Ukraine European Union Interior Ministers have been arriving in Brussels they are set to

discuss EU coordination. What is this steady stream of refugees leaving Ukraine and this you will be well aware we are talking about millions?

According to the UN, more than 3.8 million people have now fled the country since this war started February the 24th. When you add to that the number

of internally displaced people an estimated 10 million have now been forced from their homes a quarter of Ukraine's population.

Well, lives are at stake that's the bottom line is Ukraine's leaders gear up for another round of talks with Moscow. Those are happening on Tuesday

in Istanbul Ukrainian President Zelenskyy has said Ukraine is ready to accept neutral non-nuclear status.

He has also said that he is prepared to talk to President Putin himself. That invitation for talks though from Putin is not forthcoming at this



ANDERSON: When will this devastating war on Ukraine end and how? Our International Diplomatic Editor Nic Robertson is there in Brussels for you.

On the ground Russians say that they no longer want to focus on the Capital, though the evidence is that they are still intent on an assault

there, but they intend to focus fully on the east of the country.

Now we've got, effectively we understand what Ukrainian position is, at this point. What does that focus on the east suggest about how President

Putin's negotiators might position themselves at these upcoming talks in Turkey on Tuesday?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: The two sides are still far apart, Becky, if we take at face value, what are the Russians are

saying is at the very least they're intending to keep forces on the ground in Ukraine.

Intelligence officials in Ukraine, Ukrainian intelligence officials believe that Russia is sort of trying to separate at the very least the North from

the South of the country and the areas that Russia has taken control of in the south, they're putting in parallel governments with their own set of

officials, according to Ukrainians, they the Russians, will only allow people to use Russian currency.

So Ukrainians feel that Russia is already trying to create a separate state there. So that's how the Ukrainians view the Russian position. The Russian

position, as you say, they are articulating as they're focusing on the east. It's understood, they've wanted and they're trying to get this land

corridor to link Crimea in the south to Russia, in the east.

The Ukrainian position is, as you said, President Zelenskyy says, look, we will consider non-nuclear neutral position. However, he wants security

guarantees. And he's certainly looking at NATO and European nations for that.

And he says to put that in place, it would require a referendum of the Ukrainian people. And for a referendum, it would require that they are free

to vote in any way. And for that, it would require that all Russian forces pull out of Ukraine back to their positions on the 24th of February, which

is the Russians would have to have a full retreat from Ukraine.

So you can see these two positions. And there's just not a middle ground between them at the moment. Now, of course, that's what negotiators try to

work out. But it's such a massive middle ground; you have to look at this situation.

And given what we've also heard from the Deputy Defense Minister in Kyiv today saying that they still believe that Russia is trying to encircle the

Capital, despite what officials in Moscow are saying that there is not a negotiated position or solution on the table at the moment.

So these talks in Istanbul might help the humanitarian situation. President Macron in France has been trying to help get 150,000 people evacuated from

Mariupol one of the worst hit cities. That's I think where things are, it's a very, very long way from finding a negotiated peaceful solution at the

moment, Becky?

ANDERSON: Sure. I was with the French Foreign Minister in Doha this weekend at the Doha Forum; he described Mariupol as Europe's Aleppo, quite frankly.

It's remarkable what's going on unless we forget people are losing their lives on a daily basis in Ukraine at the moment.

I have to ask you how to add President Putin's remarks about the Russian Leader needing to go, President Putin needing to go in his speech in

Warsaw, at the weekend. Go down in the corridors of the buildings behind where you are in the corridors of power in Europe.

I know the White House's walk that back they said, Joe Biden wasn't trying and if I said President Putin, I meant Joe Biden wasn't talking about

regime change. But how did you know this has been discussed as at least a gaff by some and more by others?

ROBERTSON: Of course. You know, there is a sense of concern that everything that President Biden has built in terms of unity, Transatlantic alliance at

NATO, with European Union allies and partners, it's hugely important to maintain that unified position against Russia in terms of sanctions in

terms of military support, in terms of humanitarian support and helping refugees.

So that unity is important. And the language that leaders use is important to keep that unity that they're all aligned. And we heard President Macron

over the weekend, say, look, that's not the sort of language I would use. He said, which essentially, we shouldn't be using language that potentially

escalates the war or escalates tensions.

And he made this point. He made the point that he said, look, I am still talking to President Putin. So that kind of language for me is not useful

is talking to President Putin, perhaps more than any other European leader and is talking to President Zelenskyy and it's all about trying to you know

bring a peaceful solution humanitarian corridors if nothing else.


ROBERTSON: But look at the two positions between the Elysee Palace, President Macron and the White House, President Biden. The White House said

at the outset before the war began, that they would use diplomacy until the last moment when Russia invaded. And that would be it.

President Macron at the moment says I will use diplomacy to the last moment, and he means his still continuing to use it. And as long as there's

a conversation to be had with President Putin, he'll have it. So yes, you understand the two positions and the two sensibilities are in a different


So the unit is important, the language is important. And President Biden's words he knows the White House knows leaders here know will be used by the

Kremlin against them. And I think we've already got a sense of that from the Kremlin saying they're not talking now about regime change in Kyiv,


They're spinning it back, they're playing it, and they're playing it back. The Kremlin will get mileage out of this.

ANDERSON: Nic Robertson is our International Diplomatic Editor always good to have you, Nic. Thank you. Well just ahead on this show, I was in Doha in

Qatar this weekend at a big meeting the Qatari Foreign Minister was there and he told me and I quote here we have to stick to international law. I've

been speaking to him about his efforts to end the war in Ukraine that interview is next.


ANDERSON: The Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has been appealing to parliament's around the world calling for more help to fight the Russian

invasion. And this weekend he did the same as the Doha forum which I attended.

Now, you won't be surprised to hear that the majority of the conversations there revolved around Russia's war on Ukraine. The U.S. Foreign Policy

Chief Yosef Baarle was there. He had some strong words when he compared Ukraine's Mariupol to Syria's Aleppo. And that's a comparison we are

hearing a lot lately.

Well, in response, Qatar's Foreign Minister says the response that we've seen from the international community is unprecedented. But reminding the

audience that these atrocities have been happening in places in this region of the Middle East for decades well, I interviewed the Foreign Minister at

the forum and I started by asking him to be quite clear about what Qatar's stance is on this war. Take a listen.


MOHAMMED BIN ABDULRAHMAN AL-THANI, QATARI MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS: Qatar's stand has been very, very clear. We are against any act of

aggression or any threatening of use of power or there was power against sovereign country or you know, trying to undermine the territorial

integrity of any country.

And we made this very clear, we have to stick to the international or to the UN charter and this needs to be respected, because otherwise the world

will be in a case. So we keep our communication channel with all the parties.


AL-THANI: We keep our communication channel with all the parties. I was in Moscow, approximately 10 days ago; I had the chance to have a conversation

with the Foreign Minister of Russia talking about the Ukraine issue. But also keeping the communication ongoing with our Ukrainian counterparts,

trying to help offering our help or contribution to deescalate the situation and put an end for this war.

ANDERSON: Is it your sense, that President Putin wants peace at this point?

AL-THANI: Well, I cannot really say what President Putin is thinking about, but what I believe and from my conversation with my counterpart there in

Russia, that they are willing to engage on the demands that they have put forward, now how far the Ukrainian government are willing to give on those


This is really the Ukrainian government the Ukrainian people decision. But our interest now is, and the priority is really to create some safe

environment for the people for the civilians over there, there is deterioration in the humanitarian situation in Ukraine, which is


So I think that should be the priority, we should focus on having a ceasefire, humanitarian corridors bringing the humanitarian assistance to

Ukraine and instead of having this conflict and disagreement and a battlefield to be on the table.

ANDERSON: The West has imposed swinging sanctions on Russia, in an effort to squeeze the Kremlin at this point. The Qatar Investment Authority or the

QIA has a sizable investment in the Russian oil giant Rosneft. Is Qatar prepared to withdraw from Russia? Do you unwind that position?

AL-THANI: Well, actually, right now, with the current situation, we are not thinking about any new investments there. Or even by the way, in Europe,

until we have some clarity on the stability of the situation. But you know our decisions and that we have taken the investment at that time was based

on a commercial assessment. And these investments are still ongoing.

ANDERSON: So you will make no new investment --?

AL-THANI: Right now the current environment, I think that the investment is really under a lot of review.

ANDERSON: The Norwegian sovereign fund has unwound its position in Russian companies. You're saying that Qatar investment in Russia is under review at

this point.

AL-THANI: For the current for the current now, the current time, our investment decisions, as I told you is based on commercial assessment. And

what we have currently in Russia, we are not; we are not thinking about increasing that these days, until we see a better atmosphere and more

political stability.

ANDERSON: You often play mediator and you have done throughout the Iran nuclear deal. Do you see yourselves continuing to mediate or play mediation

role? And if so, can you just explain what that is with regard Russia and Ukraine?

AL-THANI: Our world is interconnected. So whenever we see that we can offer our help and support for any efforts, we will not hesitate to make our

offers. And this offer is extended to the Russians and to the Ukrainians in order to find the common ground and to have to put an end for the same -


And we will never give up on our efforts, it has been successful and in several cases, it didn't work well, maybe in other cases, but we have to

continue to pursue that way. If no countries will adopt this view of shared responsibility and share the future of the world, then the world will be in

a very difficult situation.

ANDERSON: I want to talk about the Iran deal. You've played what seems to be a significant mediation. Well, can I describe it as that with regard


AL-THANI: Well, Iran is our neighbor. And anything that happens or evolve over there, it definitely will affect us as hotter but will affect also the

GCC countries. U.S. is our ally and we want to see an end for this JCPOA negotiation by bringing all the parties back to the JCPOA commitment,

because this is something we see is very important for the region and for the stability of the region.

And we don't want to see an upraise happening here. So we believe that the best way forward for them to get the parties back to the agreement.


AL-THANI: We are trying our best to use our contracts with Iran and with the U.S. in order to bridge the gap between them and to reach and

understand we are trying to help him to support the process. We are not effectively or officially a mediator, but we are trying to use our

contracts with both countries in order to bring them closer.

ANDERSON: The sticking points, it seems are the lifting of economic sanctions at this point and the delisting of the Iranian Revolutionary

Guards as a terror organization by the U.S. State Department. Do you believe that that would be a smart move by the U.S.?

AL-THANI: Well, let us just distinguish between two things, the listing and delisting of terrorist organization will be based on the U.S. assessment

because it's a U.S. listing. It's not the U.N. listing which everyone is acknowledging and supporting.

Regarding the economic sanctions, we as a small country, we never believe that economic sanctions or unilateral sanctions are effective tool to

change policies. And this has been very clear and principled position for us.

So economic sanctions normally affecting the people and punishing the people for policies of government, we don't see it as the right approach.

So we believe that economic sanctions need to be lifted and meet the country needs a relief, because of the people. And this is the livelihood

of the Iranian people; it's not punishing a government and so.

ANDERSON: Do you see the Revolutionary Guards as a terror organization, a malign influence in this region with the delisting of that organization by

the states, which is clearly a sticking point for the Iranians be a good move, or a bad move for regional stability?

AL-THANI: Well, the IRGC is part of the Iranian government or Iranian official military structure, we should respect their structure, and we

should really talk about the actions that have been taken by certain forces here and there.

And those actions if they are, like in the best interest of the region, or specific countries are targeting, you know, civilians or in any way, those

actions need to be terrorized, but not just a rising an organization because of specific action by a smaller group of that.

ANDERSON: President Raisi was here in Doha recently. Is it your sense that with or without a deal, Iran is looking for better relations in the region?

AL-THANI: Well, this is what we are hearing all the time from the Iranian official President Raisi when he was here, that he expressed his

willingness to engage with the region and to have a better relation with the region, which is something we are very much welcoming here on Qatar.

And we believe that a regional dialogue is necessary between the GCC and the Iran in order to address the issues and the --. I'm sure that a lot of

countries in the GCC have their own concerns about Iran.

And Iran has some concerns also, about some of the regional countries. We need to sit around the table and to understand each other, and to build on

to build common ground between the countries.

ANDERSON: U.S. officials cancelled plan meetings with the Taliban in Doha this weekend over the decision by the Taliban to not permit girls over the

age of a grade six from actually attending school. Were you disappointed? And does this decision undermine your confidence, any confidence you have

in their commitments and assurances?

AL-THANI: Well, definitely this decision was very disturbing and disappointing for us. And we have expressed that publicly and we are going

to express that very firmly with them when we are talking with them.

We believe engagement will remain very important to ensure that they revisit this decision and they allow back the girls back to school. And we

will keep the communication ongoing on that front.

And we've been very firmly determined that they need to give old Afghans their rights of education of going to work place or practicing their life


ANDERSON: Are they listening?

AL-THANI: We hope so.



ANDERSON: Qatari's Foreign Minister speaking to me in Doha over the weekend, extremely important insight, Just ahead an historic meeting in

this part of the world, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken joining allies to tackle issues that just won't wait.

We'll take a look at that next. Plus Iran also, on the agenda at that meeting, we are going to look at whether the U.S. will drop its designation

of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp as a terrorist organization that is up next.


ANDERSON: I want to get you to Antonio Guterres, who of course is the Secretary General of the United Nations. He has been talking for a period

of time now. And I just want you to get a sense of what's going on here because he is calling for what is an extremely important humanitarian

corridor in Ukraine. Let's listen in.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: --to the right to use nuclear weapons if and when a scenario is required for such a move. We are also seeing reports of nuclear

facilities in Ukraine being targeted by strikes. Are you concerned that we are now on the cusp of either a biological conflict here or a nuclear war?

ANTONIO GUTERRES, UNITED NATIONS SECRETARY-GENERAL: Well, I was this morning in contact with Director General of International Agency of the

International Atomic Energy Agency. And there will be a number of very important initiatives by IAEA in the next few days in order to guarantee

the security of the nuclear facilities inside Ukraine.

And I know that there is a very close contact of Rafael Grossi to both the Russian and the Ukrainian authorities on this and he has my full support in

the initiatives that we'll take in the next few days. On the other hand, I can't imagine the possibility of having a nuclear, a biological or a

chemical war in this scenario that would be something that I believe will be avoided, and it must be avoided.

PAMELA FOGG, CBS NEWS: Thank you. It's Pamela Fogg from CBS News, Secretary General. Is there any reason you have to believe that a ceasefire is

actually being agreed to by the two sides by Russia in particular, and is there any way the U.N. can enforce that if a ceasefire comes into play?

Thank you.


GUTERRES: Well, as a matter of fact, I've been eating in different positions taken by both the Ukrainians and the Russian Federation in the

motion that was presented the Security Council reference to ceasefire. So I think this is the moment in which I believe it makes sense for the world to

assume the initiative.

And of course, it depends on the will of the parties when a ceasefire is established, to find the arrangements necessary to make the ceasefire


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you very much.

GUTERRES: Thank you very much.

ANDERSON: Right, that is the Secretary General of the United Nations really important stuff there. Just reinforcing the importance of a humanitarian

ceasefire, humanitarian corridor, for those who are in such need in Ukraine.

At present more, of course, as we get it on that, and we hope that the talks that will be going on Tuesday in Ukraine, in Turkey will also address

that humanitarian corridor.

All right, well, we will work together to confront security challenges, including those from Iran. That's a declaration coming from America's top

diplomat. U.S. Secretary of State, Antony Blinken expected in the Moroccan Capital of Rabatt around now.

Before that, he was in Israel that was just a few hours ago, speaking to reporters at the end of and I cannot underline what I mean, when I say an

historic meeting. He's stood alongside the foreign ministers in Israel, the foreign ministers of Israel, and for Arab nations, Morocco, the UAE, where

I am based Bahrain and Egypt.

This meeting again is in Israel. They discuss crucial topics, including Russia's unprovoked invasion of Ukraine and the Iran nuclear deal, both

topics that of course, we discussed with the Qatari Foreign Minister, if you were with us just five or six minutes ago.

Blinken is also condemning Sunday's deadly shooting in the Israeli city of Hadera, which is about an hour's drive from Tel Aviv. ISIS has claimed

responsibility for that attack, but there are two people dead.

Well, the Secretary of State did not leave Israel without having a conversation with the Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Sunday, who

has since tested positive for COVID 19. A lot to unpick here, let's bring in journalist Elliot Gotkine live in Jerusalem.

I just want to begin with this meeting. I've said it twice. This was an historic summit and they gave summit as its being slugged. Just explain for

the benefit of our viewers who may not be as immersed in the politics of this region, as you and I are, Elliot, just how significant this is getting

together of those stakeholders was?

ELLIOTT GOTKINE, JOURNALIST: Becky, I think U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken summed it up by saying that the once impossible things have become

possible. I mean, this would have been impossible. Just a couple two, three years ago, imagine talking about these ministers, these foreign ministers,

along with the U.S. Secretary of State getting together at all, let alone getting together in Israel.

And it was really quite astonishing to see them all lined up there, one by one, each taking their turn to speak to the journalists there. And to

really talk about the, you know, the collaboration and the cooperation, that both this negative summit is about.

And of course, that the Abraham accords that kind of paved the way for this summit to take place are about as well. And I mean there weren't any lofty

goals. I don't think that people expected, you know, concrete achievements to come out of this summit; they did agree to kind of make it a permanent


So they are going to keep talking at the foreign minister, foreign ministry level. They've got professional working groups there. I suppose the fact

that this meeting took place was perhaps the biggest achievement.

After that it gave the U.S. an opportunity to reconnect with its allies to show its commitment to the region to its allies to the Abraham accords. And

also to assuage any fears and concerns that they may have about the - as it seems likely the U.S. rejoining the Iran nuclear agreement.

And after speaking with one of the officials in the room, I understand they're also talking about ways of how to deter Iran and its proxies from

destabilizing the region. So talking about security at a kind of regional level, as well, but as you say, Becky, and a historic meeting and really

quite astonishing scenes to see all of those ministers lined up next to one another.

ANDERSON: Yes, and ISIS claiming responsibility for an attack that happened at you know, in the, at the same time as this meeting was taking place that

left two people dead. Regional security, of course, uppermost in the minds of those who were gathered and condemnation for that attack in Israel from

all parties who were present, thank you.


ANDERSON: Iran, high on the agenda, both there and as the U.S. Secretary of State continues his regional visit. The issue of delisting the Iranian

Revolutionary Guards as a terror organization is front and center.

This has become the main sticking point in talks to revive the Iran nuclear deal for nearly a year. The world is waiting for the outcome of these

negotiations that could see Iran roll back its nuclear program in return for sanctions relief, but those talks in Vienna reports on March the 11th

amid changing geopolitical dynamics following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Look, Iran still says a deal is close. The EU's top foreign policy official also sounding optimistic over the weekend in Doha saying a deal could

happen in a matter of days. But the U.S. is sounding a more pessimistic tone. Washington's Chief Nuclear Negotiator, Rob Malley telling me over the

weekend, that a deal is not around the corner.


ROBERT MALLEY, U.S. SPECIAL ENVOY FOR IRAN: And so you could be close, you could be close for a very long time, and you could never get there. So I

would say the deal is not just around the corner, and it's not inevitable.


ANDERSON: Right, the reason it has to do with the IRGC, the Elite Military - the guards designated a foreign terrorist organization by the Trump

Administration in 2019. As part of its maximum pressure campaign now, Iran demands the organization must be removed from the list. Iran's former

Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi told me the same.


KAMAL KHARRAZI, FORMER IRANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: IRGC certainly has to be removed from the list. And that's not the only problem. We have around 500

people and institutions sanctioned by the United States. And all of these are part of these have direct economic impact on relation between Iran and

western country.


ANDERSON: Let's be quite frank here. The U.S. is obviously considering such a move, but there wouldn't be an end to sanctions on the group.


MALLEY: Regardless of the outcome on the question of the IRGC, which I won't address, I can't tell you that the IRGC will remain sanctioned under

U.S. law and our perception, our views, our policy towards the IRGC will not have changed.


ANDERSON: The EU coordinator for the talks visited Tehran on Sunday in an effort to close those gaps. What message he carries to Washington could

seal the deal in a matter of days, or continue this cycle of escalation with Tehran.

We will stay on this story for you and bring you all the analysis you need. I am Becky Anderson with "Connect the World". Up next, the biggest story at

the Oscars wasn't who won or lost it was what happened when one movie star heard a joke that went too far. The story of the superstars slap when we

come back.



ANDERSON: Well, it was of course one of the biggest awards show on the planet, but overshadowed Sunday night by an altercation between two

Hollywood superstars. I'm talking the Oscars here comedian Chris Rock was on stage as a presenter and he cracked a joke about Will Smith's wife, Jada

and her hair loss. Will Smith got up from his seat walked up on stage and slapped Rock across the face.

Smith also cursed at Rock and said he didn't want to hear the comedian say his wife's name ever again. Well look, all of this happened live with

millions of people watching on TV. If you didn't see it, have a look at this.

Moments later, in the show Will Smith won his first Oscar, the best actor award for a leading role for his performance in "King Richard". During his

acceptance speech he apologized for his role in let's call it the incident and ended by saying that he hopes the academy welcomes him back.


WILL SMITH, BEST ACTOR ACADEMY AWARD WINNER: I want to apologize to the academy I want to apologize to my all my fellow nominees. Art imitates

life, I looked like the crazy father like they said like crazy father just like they said about Richard Williams. But love will make you do crazy



ANDERSON: Chris Rock is not pressing charges as we understand it. Look my next guest sees some discrepancies with the backlash against Will Smith now

and how white men in Hollywood have been treated in the past. She wrote the Academy Awards is condoning violence for years, particularly violence

against women rewarding white men who raped sexually assaulted and domestically abused women.

Now some of y'all demanding Will Smith, the fifth black man to win an Oscar to be stripped. Where was the energy before? Well, those comments were

written by Civil and Women's Rights Activist Dr. Shola Mos-Shogbamimu.

And she's the Author of "This Is Why I Resist: Don't Defy My Black Identity". I'm delighted. You join me now live from London. There will be

people who read what you have written and sort of rolling their eyes at it. You know that? Don't you? Come on.

SHOLA MOS-SHOGBAMIMU, LAWYER AND CIVIL/WOMEN'S RIGHTS ACTIVIST: Absolutely, I think it is important for us to understand that we cannot, you know,

condone violence in any shape or form or manner. I'm personally sick and tired of seeing black women disrespected and verbally violated in public


We know accountability for violence clearly is not the right response to that. What the reason why I wrote that tweet was because the backlash was

taking a totally different turn. I mean, should Will Smith be held to account for his actions? Yes and the backlash of people condemning his

action there.

That is right, because you can love Will Smith, congratulate him on his win, but also condemn his action. But where I see a huge discrepancy are

those who are now shouting make a whole lot of noise.

Strip him of his Oscars, and then you obviously Oscar should I said because it's just his first. And you have other people like the Academy Award

saying we don't condone violence and the discrepancy is right there.

Because for years, we know that more white people that have been awarded Oscars than black people, right, we had our own whole Oscars, so white

thing a few years ago. And I had to say, hold up a second.

We've had white people who have been awarded Oscars, who have been who've been convicted, and also alleged to commit serious crimes against women,

whether it's rape, sexual assault, all kinds of sexual harassment against women, but they've been awarded, how come their Oscars have not been


Where was this energy? And the moment you have, you know, Will Smith is going to be the fifth black man, as I understand it to win this Oscar in

this category. And now people are screaming for his Oscar to be stripped look, if we go to vote people to --. It has to be proportionate. It cannot

be disproportionate and it cannot be discriminatory.

ANDERSON: And listen, what we should be talking about today is exactly what you've brought up. I mean, his performance in Keith Richards is absolutely

remarkable. And he's won his first Oscar for it, it's not like he hasn't been around for some time. This guy has apologized.


ANDERSON: Chris Rock says he is not pressing any charges. You've got a very good point. I mean, your narrative I think will be appreciated by many

people who are watching this show around the world. And look, we've got to be clear about this. Will Smith and Chris Rock have a history which

predates this Oscar slap?

MOS-SHOGBAMIMU: That's correct.

ANDERSON: And we will know that, right?

MOS-SHOGBAMIMU: Yes, yes. And this is not the first time that Jada Pinkett Smith will be the butts of Chris Rock's jokes. And some of these have been

very, very painful. And as I said earlier, this does not mean we condone violence in any form.

I'm just saying that any response has to be proportionate. It cannot be discriminatory, because even under the law, violence is recognized in

different degrees and it is punished according to those degrees.

You just don't use warm blanket, and you don't - warm blanket or kind of fits all description to punish people and not punish other people. So I'm

saying it has to be proportionate. It cannot be discriminatory. And no he should not be stripped of his Oscar because doing that would be

disproportionate and discriminatory.

ANDERSON: Dr. Shola always good to have you on, a pleasure. Thank you.


ANDERSON: Just ahead on "Connect the World" running from the shelling in Kharkiv, some displaced Ukrainians found a refuge by heading for the hills

quite literally, going to meet some of them up next.


ANDERSON: Thousands of people who fled the terror of being unleashed in Ukraine are finding at least some semblance of peace in what is an unlikely

place. My colleague Salma Abdelaziz went to meet some of them in a mountain sanctuary and she brings us their story.


SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN REPORTER (voice over): Nestled deep in the Carpathian Mountains, far from the bombs and bullets, lays the idyllic ski resort of

Slavsko with plenty of room for those fleeing violence to find solace in the slopes.

Many hotels have opened their doors to displace families, some at no cost or discounted rates. Guests Stacy and Ramir found refuge here after Russian

forces invaded their hometown of Kharkiv.

RAMIR HOLUBOV, FLED KHARKIV: During this time they usually had like shells blowing up lots of bombardment.

ABDELAZIZ (on camera): How did you feel when you arrived?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When you look at these mountains and into the news, it seems like not real.

HOLUBOV: And you're here, you're safe. It feel kind of guilty because - with all my family there in.

ABDELAZIZ (voice over): After a terrifying week, mom and daughter finally squeezed onto a train out of embattled keys, but where to go. Then they

remembered a special family trip.

LARVSA KOALVOVA, FLED KYIV: Yes we love this place because our summertime we provide here.

ABDELAZIZ (on camera): So you had good memories here?

KOALVOVA: Good memory. We have good memory. We had good memory in this place.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I feel safe here, but I hope that this one soon and we will go home because - was much better because it's my home.

ABDELAZIZ (on camera): This tiny mountain community of Slavsko has taken in 3400 displaced people nearly doubling their population. But they say it's

not a burden, they want to share the sanctuary.


ABDELAZIZ (voice over): Some have chosen less traditional accommodations, also found peace for her two children in this glamping pod. My daughter

wakes up every morning, opens the curtains, wipes the dew from the windows and looks out at the view.

She tells me, yes, she loves it here. It's calming, I feel lighter, and I start to believe everything is going to be OK. For these families, this

feels like the safest place and a country where it seems everywhere is a front line. Salma Abdelaziz CNN, Slavsko, Ukraine.


ANDERSON: It's been a busy couple of hours, hasn't it? So thank you for joining us wherever you are watching in the world. "One World" with Julia

Chatterley tonight is up next. We'll see tomorrow.