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Talks Raise Possibility of Putin-Zelenskyy Meeting; City Council: Almost 5,000 People Killed in Mariupol; UNICEF: 4.3 Million Ukrainian Children Displaced; Analysis: How Biden's 9 Unscripted Words Could Impact War; UAE: Ceasefire Needed in Ukraine ASAP; Queen Attends "Service of Thanksgiving" for Late Husband. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired March 29, 2022 - 11:00   ET



BECKY ANDERSON, CNN HOST, CONNECT THE WORLD: This hour the most meaningful progress yet that are how Turkey is describing the latest talks between

Russia and Ukraine, but will they achieve peace? I'm Becky Anderson. Hello and welcome back to "Connect the World".

Today's Russia Ukraine ceasefire talks in Istanbul coming on the same day, Russia's Defense Ministry announced its troops will "drastically reduced

military activity around Kyiv and Chernihiv.

U.S. officials calling this a major strategy shift by Russia to focus on gains they've made in southern and eastern Ukraine and warning that Russia

could cover the retreats of Kyiv with air and military bombardment.

Meanwhile, in Istanbul, negotiators from both sides emerging from those ceasefire talks with positive assessments, and a possible way to pull off

one of the most contentious issues of this war, the status of Crimea annexed by Russia in 2014.

Ukraine saying an agreement is in place to pause hostilities over Crimea for 15 years, pending a final resolution on its status, Russia's lead

negotiator calling the talks constructive.

And advisor for Ukraine's president saying there is now a chance at least a Vladimir Zelenskyy and the Russian President Vladimir Putin could meet in

person. Well, towards the side, there is no relief for the people of Mariupol.

President Zelenskyy saying 90 percent of the southern port cities, residential buildings have been destroyed and people have to melt snow

water for drinking water.

The mayor now calling for a complete evacuation, but Zelenskyy says Russian troops are blocking all routes in and out of the city. In the last hour, I

spoke to the Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas and asked her for her reaction to these ceasefire talks, have a listen.

KAJA KALLAS, ESTONIAN PRIME MINISTER: Well, first of all, we must not forget that these talks are going on because Russia invaded Ukraine and

wants to erase Ukraine as a sovereign country. And now their talks are going on.

And of course, President Zelenskyy is in a very difficult position because on one hand, he sees all the destruction that Russia is causing all the

civilians being killed. But and on the other hand, there's this pressure to achieve peace.

But he doesn't want to give away his territory. So it's a very, very difficult position. And of course, Russia is struggling, like the previous

reporter said, struggling in places in around Kyiv, for example, so they are stepping back.

But we have to keep in mind that there is still a vast territory that is occupied already with the Russian troops by the Russian troops. So you

know, whatever agreement there is, it is made at gunpoint, because the civilians of Ukraine are being killed.

ANDERSON: Yes, it has to be constructive. And I hear what you're saying it has to be constructive, though, doesn't it? If Ukrainian negotiators are

voicing signs of progress as they emerged from today's talks.

And advisor for Ukraine's president is saying that there is now a chance that Vladimir Zelenskyy and Russian President Vladimir Putin could meet in

person again, your sense, your response to hearing that.

KALLAS: I understand that Ukrainian president wants to do everything that is in his power to stop this war and also stop the killing of civilians and

the destruction of the cities of Ukraine. So and he's in a very difficult position.

So of course, it is good if two of them meet so far. President Putin hasn't been or has not agreed to meet Zelenskyy as he doesn't consider Ukraine to

be a separate country.


KALLAS: So he tries to negotiate with bigger players in the world arena, but nobody can make the agreements for Ukraine.

ANDERSON: Well, that's the Estonian Prime Minister speaking to me last hour. Arwa Damon is in Istanbul for us where he's what could be

consequential Russian and Russian and Ukrainian talks were held delegations meeting there earlier. Arwa, what does this Ukrainian proposal look like?

ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, at this stage, Becky, it seems as if what the Ukrainians are putting to the Russians, when

it comes to Crimea, for example, is an offer to basically postpone that very controversial issue for another 15 years.

Or at the very least give both sides this 15 year window, during which they are expected to be conducting bilateral talks during which there will be no

military attempts from either side to involve military force when it comes specifically to the issue of Crimea, when it comes to a number of other

proposals, while the Russians have said that they will then be taking that to their own side for further negotiation.

Now, when it comes to Ukraine, though, what they need to try to negotiate is not just with Russia. Ukraine also now is in a position where it needs

to negotiate the security guarantees that we've been hearing President Zelenskyy and others talk about because even though Ukraine is yes, open to

this idea of becoming a non-nuclear neutral state, although they do want to first put that to a referendum.

Ukraine is unwilling to do that without these guarantor states being involved, and they would be the likes of the United States, United Kingdom,

France, Germany, Turkey, to name a few. And what Ukraine wants to see from these guarantor states is an agreement that is similar to if not more

binding, than the one that exists among NATO nations themselves.

And so Ukraine really right now is looking at these various western nations to pledge to vow that should Russia attack again once this current round of

fighting is over, that these countries would actually step in a concrete way to protect Ukraine from any further hostility.

Another thing to talk about to Becky, even though both sides have been saying that these talks were constructive, even though the Turks have been

saying that this is the most progress that has been made during any talk today, that bar is quite low.

If we just look at the issue of humanitarian corridors, both sides talked about a humanitarian ceasefire, Becky, but they didn't even reach an

agreement on that.

ANDERSON: Sure. I mean, I guess, you know, what we've got here is a Ukrainian proposal, forged in Turkey. The ball now, very clearly, in

President Putin's court, I interviewed Ibrahim Kalin, the Turkish presidential spokesperson ahead of this meeting, I interviewed him on

Sunday look, just seeing him in the images there in Turkey, have a listen to what he told me.


IBRAHIM KALIN, CHIEF ADVISER TO TURKISH PRESIDENT: Of course, the negotiating teams are doing an important job, no doubt is essential,

because the Russian side has been saying if the negotiating teams bring us some kind of an agreement, some kind of an understanding.

And then, you know, we can have this meeting between the two presidents because President Zelenskyy is ready to meet President Putin, President

Putin who has said no so far, and our president has said, OK, I'm ready to facilitate bringing the two of you together in Turkey or somewhere else, it

doesn't matter. You know, we are not trying to promote Turkey as a venue for this. What we are concerned about is to bring it into this world a day

earlier than it is necessary.


ANDERSON: He says they're not trying to promote Turkey as a sort of successful venue for this. But if it Turkey ends up being that successful

venue, you know, what does that mean, for Ankara?

DAMON: Well, look, Turkey has found itself during this conflict. And in fact, during other conflicts in the region, playing something of a mediator

role in this most certainly would, to a certain degree, perhaps bolster Turkey standing, especially when it comes to western nations with whom it

has clashed over a plethora of other issues.

But, Becky, before we get too far ahead of ourselves, if we just dial it back for a second, because this is not just the ball being in Russia's

courts, this is also the ball being in a number of western countries, courts.

Those countries that Ukraine wants the security guarantees from countries that are the very same countries that right now are unwilling to go

understandably perhaps to a certain degree, head to head with Russia.


DAMON: And so while right now, yes, we're talking about progress being made at this meeting, there are some very, very tricky to navigate obstacles

before we can actually reach a point where an agreement that is suitable to all sides becomes something that is on paper. And that can and perhaps this

is one of the more critical points at all be inked with sufficient faith on both sides, that it will actually this time be upheld.

ANDERSON: Oh, you make a very, very good point. Thank you. It's good to have you on. It's good to have you in Istanbul as these as this part of

what is this horrific story unfolds, thank you. Word of progress towards that ceasefire, maybe too little, too late for the decimated port city of

Mariupol, its mayor is calling for full evacuation of that city.

About 160,000 people are said to be trapped there. Let me just repeat that 160,000 people said to be trapped in the city of Mariupol, many of them

relying on melted snow as their only source of water.

That is a court according to the president. Local officials say more than 90 percent of the residential buildings in the city have been damaged or

destroyed. CNN's Phil Black has been hearing from people who have fled Mariupol. And he joins me now live from Lviv, Ukraine. Just describe some

of these stories that you have heard, Phil?

PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Becky, I think the point to remember here the broader context is that while Russia is talking about pulling back

troops from Kyiv and around Chernihiv, to areas where it was already doing really poorly, where its troops had essentially failed in their mission to

take those cities quickly.

Russia is meanwhile openly pursuing a Maximus military strategy in trying to control that Eastern territory known as the Donbas it wants to conquer

and control that whole stretch of territory.

And that includes the port city of Mariupol. That city where as we've been talking about, for some time, now, it's been under siege, where there

remains 160,000 or so more people without food, water, with very little heat and under the risk of the threat of constant military bombardment.

Russia is still pushing very hard to take that city in an outright sets pushing for outright military victory. And day by day it looks like it's

getting closer to that goal. Take a look.


BLACK (voice over): Russia is so close to taking the price of Mariupol. These soldiers are already celebrating. The flag going up on this local

government building is from one of the Russian backed separatist regions in Ukraine's east.

The Ukrainians peeled off praise the Almighty, this soldier says, the guys are in a good mood. And we are working according to the order of Putin. We

get rare glimpses of Russia's efforts to take the city street by street.

These soldiers are from the Russian Republic of Chechnya. It's propaganda video from their leader, which CNN has geo located to Mariupol. Mariupol's

Mayor, Vadym Boichenko tells me the fight isn't over.

BLACK (on camera): What happened or what has happened to the Ukrainian soldiers defending Mariupol? Are there any left?

BLACK (voice over): They hold the line and they stand to the end, he says to the last drop of blood. It's not only Ukrainian soldiers trapped here.

The city council estimates there are still around 170,000 civilians in this devastated city and 90 percent of homes have been damaged or destroyed.

Valentina enters what's left of the only home she's ever known, the place where she raised her family. She wasn't here when the shell hit. She's been

hiding in the basement. She doesn't want to leave.

She knows she can't stay. But many will never leave. The council says almost 5000 people have been killed during the four week siege, including

more than 200 children. Russia is so close to taking its prize, but it will be a blackened shell of a city and it's unlikely the people they're

conquering will ever forgive them.


BLACK: So Becky Russia says, the Ukrainian forces said maintaining this circular defense in the city of Mariupol circular because they are

surrounded. It looks increasingly difficult to see how the fall of Mariupol can be prevented, remember in the context of these peace talks. The Ukraine

says there is no way that it will accept Russian control of the Donbas.


BLACK: And yet there is no reason to believe Russia is going to be prepared to give up this territory, which it is still in the process of taking, it

is likely to be the ultimate sticking point in any future peace talk - Becky.

ANDERSON: Yes, this we forget those on the ground who was suffering, Phil, thank you. Well, those civilians those thousands of civilians, still

trapped inside Mariupol. Some are managing to make their escape from the artillery attacks and rockets raining down on their homes, but even their

temporary safe haven may not be so safe. That story is coming up.

Plus the Head of UNICEF joins us to talk about the tough road ahead for Ukraine's kids. We'll look at how the war is affecting so many children.


ANDERSON: A fact for you. A child in Ukraine has become a refugee almost every single second, that's since the war began just more than a month ago.

Those figures according to UNICEF that means more than half of Ukraine's children have been displaced roughly 4.3 million of them.

Well, the head of UNICEF Catherine Russell says it's been one of the fastest displacements of children since World War II. Nearly 2 million of

those kids have fled Ukraine and have crossed into neighboring countries.

For those who remain, getting out of cities like Mariupol is getting more dangerous by the day. CNN's Ivan Watson spoke with residents who have made

it out of that southern port city, but are unsure of their next move.


IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Shattered by Russian artillery, the windshield of a car that a Ukrainian family used

to make their two day escape from the besieged port city of Mariupol. We meet Natalia shortly after her family reaches relative safety in the

parking lot of a superstore on the edge of the Ukrainian city of Zaporizhzhia.

The day before yesterday an artillery shell hit our house she says, half of the house is gone. This is what was left.

NATALIA, FLED HOME IN MARIUPOL: It's fresh who sees this. I want them to know that they aren't defending us. They are killing us because they seem

to think they're defending us and that's just not true.

WATSON (voice over): This parking lot an unofficial gateway to Ukrainian controlled territory for more than 70,000 Ukrainians who official say fled

Mariupol. The evacuees look shell shocked.

They arrive in vehicles draped with white rags and signs that say children and some like four year old Alisa Isaiva - show up in yellow school buses.

"They were bombing us", she says, "bombing us with planes and tanks".


WATSON (voice over): Alisa's aunt Liliya says she suffered from a concussion for days after a strike hit her home.

LILIYA NALISKO, FLED MARIUPOL: We walked among corpses. There were bodies under the evergreens, soldiers without heads without arms. They lie in

there, nobody is gathering them. There was such fear that I felt like I was underwater. I wanted to wake up, and now I'm here. And this feels like some

kind of a dream.

WATSON (voice over): Inside the superstore, volunteers and the city government are trying to help.

WATSON (on camera): Newly arrived evacuees are welcomed at this support center where they're offered warm meals, access to medics and information

about how to travel deeper into safer parts of Ukrainian territory.

There's also a bulletin board here where some people are offering free repair of shattered car windows. And there are also postings here looking

for information about missing loved ones.

WATSON (voice over): For some who survived Russia's modern day siege, this is the first hint of safety they've had in weeks. Outside Yulia Mishodova

and her son, Stanislav have just arrived. Stanislav is chatty and upbeat, but his mother appears unsteady. When Russian warplanes bombed she says the

family hid under the dining room table surrounded by pillows.

YULIA MISHODOVA, FLED MARIUPOL: When the plane flew past, we were sheltering in the center of town. Until now, my ear still hurts from the

shock wave.

WATSON (voice over): The unlikely safe haven provided in this parking lot is precarious. Ukrainian officials say Russian troops are positioned barely

a half hour's drive away from here, Ivan Watson, CNN, Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine.


ANDERSON: Catherine Russell is the Head of UNICEF and she visited refugees on the Romanian border earlier this month. This is her, she's seen up close

what Ukrainian families - kids, mostly it has to be said face, once they enter a new country and try and get adjusted.

And she joins me here. I'm delighted to say in Dubai, you do not have to be a mum, to feel the pain of what so many of these families are going

through. It certainly helps.

I mean, it certainly hits home when you are a mom, you were recently at a shelter at the border as I said between Ukraine and Romania. Just describe

for our viewers what you saw in her during your trip.

CATHERINE RUSSELL, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, UNICEF: Well, you can see it on their faces, Becky. I mean, the mothers were confused, they're exhausted,

because they traveled often by train, sometimes by car to the border. You know, they're frequently carrying their babies like you saw or their

children or have them by the hand, that children are carrying, you know, dragging their little suitcases behind them.

It's just; it's just terrifying for them. They're bewildered, they're uncertain, and really, they don't know what's coming next. And I think, you

know, the challenging thing is a lot of times they've left behind almost always their father, their husband.

And you know, they're scared, and there, they're worried about the future. The interesting thing is, when I talked to them, they all talked about how

they thought they were going home in a few days. And unfortunately, we know that's not true.

ANDERSON: How does the conflict and the massive displacement impact kids specifically, both in the long, the short, but I'm interested in the long

term here as well, what's being what's being done, and what more can be done to help them through this process?

RUSSELL: Well, in part, it depends where they go and what happens to them. And you know many children are very resilient. So that's the good news. And

children can get past things, but they need help. They need social services for that.

The children here are going to countries like Poland, Romania, and a lot of them are moving on to other countries in Europe, Germany and other places.

But there are a lot of uncertainties for them. You know, right now they're moving, a lot of them are staying with families and other going to last.

ANDERSON: And it makes them very vulnerable.

RUSSELL: It does. And, and we're very worried about that, because we have first we have a lot of unaccompanied children who are going. We have people

on the border, who are trying to intercept them, and make sure that they don't get picked up by people who are not well meaning and they

unfortunately, are those people who prey on children or young people.

And we see a lot of that, unfortunately, and these children are very vulnerable. And we have to be very, very conscious of that and looking out

for them.

ANDERSON: We're talking about those who have fled the conflict of course, you know, we can again not just only imagine our reporters are telling the

stories of those of course who have been left behind. Aid agencies have said that though there has been a huge outpouring of support for Ukraine.


ANDERSON: They are still not getting enough funds the funds necessary to address the humanitarian needs of this crisis. Is that the case with


RUSSELL: Yes, I mean, people have been very, very generous, but the needs are immense. That's the problem. They're just extraordinary to try to take

care of the people who've left the country for sure and then also the people who are still in the country.

I mean, we're estimating right now that half the children in Ukraine have left their homes. So yes, 2 million have left the country, but two and a

half million have left their homes in the country and still need services. And you've shown some of them on your videos. I mean, these children are

really at a loss and don't know what comes next. And we're trying to provide education services and health services.

ANDERSON: And I was going to ask you, what sort of what are the funds spent on and what sort of money we're talking about here?

RUSSELL: We're talking about many millions and millions of dollars, and our sort of request was for, I think, $300 million. But we will definitely

spend at least that. And I think it also depends how long this goes on. And I unfortunately, don't see any end in sight.

ANDERSON: And, of course, unfortunately, we hear the warnings, that with the world's focus on the war in Ukraine, and that is understandable. We are

neglecting a number of other critical issues, global crises.

What does the worldwide attention on Ukraine mean for these other major humanitarian challenges? This show is based in this region, it reports in

and from and on this region, we are well aware as a team, just how things other issues can get left behind. And there is a sense of double standards

to a service. And I mean that in the best possible way.

RUSSELL: Yes, yes, of course. Well, for UNICEF, we continue our work in Afghanistan, in Yemen, in Syria, in the Horn of Africa. I mean, there are

so many places where children are in desperate need, and we continue to do our work there.

But there's no question that the resources are harder to come by in those regions. In a sense, the world's attention shifts right there. You know,

sometimes it's on Afghanistan. And sometimes it's not sometimes it's on Syria, sometimes it's not.

Right now, it's on Ukraine. And as you say, that's understandable. But we need to make sure that children everywhere are being taken care of. And

that's hard to do. But we need to do it, as a world community, we can't forget the children who are suffering in all parts of the world.

ANDERSON: You have amazing teams, working around the world. We work with many of them on sadly on these conflicts and these issues. We will continue

to provide support for you and do whatever we can.

RUSSELL: Thank you so much.

ANDERSON: These kids need that support. Thank you very much indeed for joining us.

RUSSELL: Thank you so much, Becky. Thank you.

ANDERSON: Always so many lives at stake. It is no wonder that Joe Biden's unscripted comment about Vladimir Putin set the world on edge ahead

analysis from my colleague Stephen Collinson, about how his words could change the course of this war that is coming up.



ANDERSON: Returning to our top story, a significant announcement from Moscow following talks with Ukraine. Russia's Defense Ministry saying its

troops will "drastically reduce military activity around the capital of Kyiv and Chernihiv to the north".

U.S. official say this marks a major shift in strategy. Russia making clear after the talks this is not a ceasefire, but a gradual military de-

escalation, meantime Ukrainian forces pressing a counter offensive in parts of the Capitol.

Interior ministry says the suburb of - akin, which Ukraine claimed to have retaken came under shelling. On Monday night, you can see the damage the

city had already sustained and fighting from video taken earlier this month.

The situation is so fast moving and so delicate that any sudden moves are likely to make the whole world nervous. Ukraine's fuel for this fight has

been the billions of dollars in military aid from the U.S. and other NATO allies who are trying to avoid fighting Russia directly, which is why what

the U.S. president said about Vladimir Putin on Saturday "for God's sake, this man cannot remain in power set nearly everyone on edge". On Monday,

the American president clarified what he says he meant.


JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: I'm not walking any back. The fact of the matter is I was expressing the more outrage I felt toward the way Putin is dealing

in the actions of this man, which is just brutality. Half the children in Ukraine, I just come from being with those families.

And, and so, but I want to make it clear, I wasn't then nor am I now articulating the policy change. I was expressing more outrage that I feel.


ANDERSON: Well, that was the U.S. President on Monday. CNN's Stephen Collinson calls it a - Russia's president. He writes, "There is no doubt

that Biden handed Putin a propaganda gift that could undermine the U.S. president's own hard work in keeping the focus on Ukraine.

Moscow's information complex is certain to present the war to the Russian people as a hostile push by the West in order to further obscure the truth

about the unprovoked attack on Ukraine".

Well, CNN Politics and Senior Reporter Stephen Collinson joining me live from Washington now. And it was Biden himself who has always cautioned that

a president's words must be carefully chosen. I guess that begs the question. Was this an off the cuff remark? Or were these words chosen by

President Putin?

STEPHEN COLLINSON, CNN POLITICS SENIOR REPORTER: Hey, Becky, I think there are a couple of things going on here. First of all, throughout his long

political career words have had a habit of getting President Biden into trouble. He had a long reputation as a bit of a gaffe machine during his

almost half century in the senate.

You know, way back in 1988, he had to pull out of a presidential campaign because he plagiarized the words of then British Labor leader Neil Kinnock.

So this is not a new thing.

He did impose more discipline on himself. And he's talked about that himself during the campaign in 2020. That was helped by the fact that he

wasn't out that much because of the COVID 19 pandemic.

So you have Biden's difficulty in making himself clear. He's also a politician who wears his heart upon his sleeve, he did see those refugees

and he was emotionally affected, and he does have the streak of indiscipline.

So when you put those two things together, that's one thing. But you're right. It's very important during an international crisis, especially one

between two nuclear armed superpowers that the president speaks very carefully.

That was one reason why the White House tried to clear this up very quickly on Saturday. The problem was that they actually made the problem worse

because it was clear from what they said that they were trying to say, well, the president was talking about Putin not being able to have power

over Ukraine and other countries. You know, it was completely ridiculous; it was clear what the president said.


COLLINSON: I think he got to a point yesterday, when he said, on camera, look, I don't think Putin should be in power, but I'm not going to take any

steps to take him down, which is probably what the White House should have come up with.

Back on Saturday, it might have, you know, changed this whole situation of international law and we saw unfolding. I do think this was probably more

of an issue outside the United States, where people were struggling to work out exactly what Biden was saying rather than in the United States.

ANDERSON: And you make a good point, because as somebody who is outside of the United States, I have heard that concern voice again and again. And the

confusion that was caused and to avoid any confusion by the way that I might have caused, I clearly meant Biden when I said Putin leading into the

question to you, but so well known for not being confused.

I think it was pretty clear. I was moderating a panel at the World Government Summit here in Dubai today, Steven, and I want you to have a

listen to what Economist Pippa Malmgren said.


DR. PIPPA MALMGREN, ECONOMIST AND FORMER U.S. PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER: Otto von Bismarck said the art of diplomacy is about giving others ladders to

climb down from untenable positions.

And I fear that the current position of the United States is very much we can win this, as opposed to we need to find an off ramp. We need to find an

exit, we need to get back to a negotiating table, we may have disagreements, but resolving them in a battlefield is not the right way to

do it.


ANDERSON: And that speaks to the very point that you were just raising. What is the sense at the White House as to what this might have caused? I

know they've walked it back. And we've heard from Joe Biden themselves. But what's the sense behind the scenes about the impact?

COLLINSON: I think they realize that this is a very delicate situation. And you do not want to make this a public showdown between Biden and Putin to

make it even more difficult for the Russian leader to make concessions if he were willing to make them to step back away from this.

And they've been very careful of that whole episode about not sending Polish jets, Soviet era fighters to Ukraine. They were trying to make sure

that this didn't become a NATO against Russia issue, rather than a Russia Ukraine issue.

But at the same time, and these perhaps these peace talks are showing some developments in Turkey. There's a real concern in Washington that allowing

President Putin to bite off another huge chunk of Ukraine in the greater Donbas region, for example, which seems to be the way the Russians are

heading, that would reward his aggression.

So while we may be seeing de-escalation, I think it's unlikely that the U.S. is going to step back from its tough position against Moscow, the

sanctions, very considerable support for Ukraine at this point.

And one more thing is, you know, this idea that the president might have convinced Putin that the U.S. was out to get him. I think there's a lot of

evidence that the Russian leader thinks the U.S. has been trying to get rid of him.

For more than a decade, he thought Hillary Clinton when she was Secretary of State was sponsoring demonstrations in Moscow against him.

So at this point, I think his view of the United States and his suspicion of the United States is such that anything that, you know, President Biden

says is unlikely to change what is a really jaundiced view of America in President Putin's mind and to change his behavior.

ANDERSON: Stephen Collinson is in the house. You also wrote in your piece, and I quote here, "Biden's initial efforts to avoid personalizing the

conflict with Putin and characterizing the war as a direct U.S. Russia showdown as have been undermined by his own hardening rhetoric towards the

Russian leader in recent days".

You can find Steven's excellent Steven, thank you. Coming up Powell, the Adviser to the UAE, president sees the conflict in Ukraine

and the geopolitical changes in the Middle East, plus, Turkey's role in the Russia Ukraine talks.

I've been speaking to the chief adviser to the Turkish president, his take along with the diplomatic view from Brussels, all that is up next.



ANDERSON: I'm Becky Anderson in Dubai, welcome back. You are watching "Connect the World". It is 20 date here in Dubai as we continue our

coverage of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. I want to get first get you first up to speed on some of the other stories that are on our radar right now.

And British Police say they will issue 20 fines as part of their investigation into the party gate scandal involving Boris Johnson's


It's the first official confirmation that illegal events were held at Downing Street and Whitehall at the height of the pandemic. A spokesman for

the UK Prime Minister says Mr. Johnson has so far not been issued a fine.

Shanghai city officials clamping down even more as they enforce a two phase COVID lockdown to get everybody there tested. 6 million people living in

Pudong district are no longer allowed to leave their homes except to get that mandatory COVID tests before they were restricted but to their

residential compounds.

Well, oil prices have fallen sharply after Russia indicated it plans to dial back its assault on parts of Ukraine. That's easing energy supply

fears which had of course sent crude prices soaring earlier this month.

And U.N. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on a two day visit to Morocco here he is during the meeting with the Moroccan Foreign Minister. Later he

is set to meet the UAE's de facto leader Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan at his local Palace. Well, that meeting between Abu Dhabi's Crown Prince and

the U.S. Secretary of State is an important one.

As a regular viewer of this show, you will know that we have been monitoring a new regional dynamic emerge since the start of the Russian

invasion of Ukraine perhaps its momentum has increased. It's in fact been going on for some time, one in which regional countries like the UAE are

taking on a more nuanced position vis-A -vis their relations between Moscow and Washington.

In a nutshell, regional powers are sensing a need to chart their own foreign policy path and that was on display at a recent meeting of Arab

foreign ministers in Israel. Well, early I spoke to the UAE's Presidential Adviser Anwar Gargash and I asked him about that Negev desert Summit, as it

is being known, have a listen.


ANWAR GARGASH, UAE PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER: And the Middle East, really going back to the Niger summit. The Middle East is not really only about Iran,

and the Middle East is not only about Israel.

ANDERSON: Because you could be confused by that.

GARGASH: Yes, you could be confused. You could be confused. And I think our whole intention is to find a way of functionally working with Iran.


ANDERSON: Anwar Gargash had this to say on the impact of that war in Ukraine on the international system, have a listen.


GARGASH: Ukraine is going to be a significant change in the international order. And I think their percussions are going to be quite deep and

prolonged. But I think we do really need to find a political solution and it starts with a ceasefire and a political solution ASAP.


GARGASH: We need to do that because the danger of horizontal or vertical escalation is real.


ANDERSON: Anwar Gargash speaking to me earlier here at the World Government Summit. Almost meaningful progress yet, that is what Turkey is saying about

those face to face Russia Ukraine talks held a short time ago in Istanbul.

The Kremlin is now saying it will, "drastically reduce its military assault on the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv and the northern city of Chernihiv". Some

U.S. officials going so far as to call this a major strategy shift by Moscow.

U.S. president has been on the phone with European leaders today discussing the latest developments. CNN's International Diplomatic Editor, Nic

Robertson is live from Brussels. So let's drill down on where we are on all of this. What do we know about the detail of this Ukrainian proposal, Nic?

And how is it being received, we know that there is a ball in Putin's court, of course, because the next stage is for face to face talks. But as

we understand it, this proposal will have a real impact on a number of European countries, explain.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: This at the moment is, as you say, a proposal from the Ukrainian side. And the only feedback we

have from the Russian side to say is that there's two points here, one, and you've just mentioned both of them.

But this is the current Russian position, that there's a potential now for a meeting between President Putin and President Zelenskyy. And the Russians

have decided to dial back their offensive around Kyiv and Chernihiv.

Now, these steps in themselves, even the Russians have admitted this dialing back their offensive, that doesn't mean that it's a ceasefire. And

the ball is firmly in the Russian court.

And it really is going to depend on how Russia responds to how the EU, for example, can respond. But I think just to give you a flavor of the

sentiment, as you said, President Biden speaking with the Prime Minister of Italy, Chancellor of Germany, President of France, a British Prime Minister

as well, speaking with them in the past hour or so.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken is saying that really not seeing any momentum on the Russian side yet to convince them that the Russian side is

genuine. So that really does mean we have to see how Russia what Russia does with his bullets now in their court.

And I think the other thing you can take away from today is the fact that, for example, Island has expelled for Russian diplomats, the Netherlands has

expelled 17 Russian diplomats, Belgium today expelling 20 Russian diplomats, the French sports company Decathlon, deciding to close its

outlets in Russia.

All of these signals coming from the European Union tell you that the tough line that's being taken with Russia, the sanctions that are being taken

with Russia, is maintained. You can expect that to have been part of President Biden's call with these leaders as well, that this is only a

proposal from the Ukrainian side, we have to see how far Russia is going to go with it.

And I think the big difficulty that everyone sees is that why Russia says it's easing off the conflict in some parts of Ukraine. It's maintaining the

conflict in other parts. And of course, part of the Ukrainian position is Russia must remove all its troops to pre-invasion positions outside of

Ukraine, the 23rd of February.

So I think that's the lay of the land at the moment. But the position from here is just as it was yesterday that there's a lack of trust in Russia,

and it needs to be seen how they will respond.

ANDERSON: On the issue of neutrality, of course, it will require a Ukrainian referendum, as NATO membership is part of its constitution. That

wouldn't happen anytime soon. What if given just the state of affairs in Ukraine at present?

ROBERTSON: It's exactly that conundrum, you know, what we've seen today in Istanbul sounds good. And it looks like a potential map of where things

could go and the Crimea issue, which is hugely contentious part for 15 years.

But if Russia insists on keeping its forces inside Ukraine, then a referendum becomes a non-starter. And as far as Ukrainian Government's

concerned, they say you can only have a referendum when people feel free to go and vote.

How could the people of Kherson which has now been taken over by Russian military or many of the other smaller cities. How those people could feel

free to go and express their opinions where they're having a new parallel government inflicted upon them, people are being detained there.


ROBERTSON: There's been, you know, a push to, for those Ukrainian to those Russian that help places now to use Ukrainian currency. How those people

could feel free and able to go and express their will in a referendum and that's the Ukrainian position the Russian troops have to be out before you

can have a referendum.

So the troop issue is contentious. The referendum couldn't happen till afterwards. It could be potentially a year who knows how long Becky.

ANDERSON: U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken says that he has seen no signs to talk between Ukraine and Russia is moving forward in an effective

way because the U.S. has not seen and I quote him here, "signs of real seriousness by Russia".

So the position from the U.S. Secretary of State Nic, as you will have heard today, actions speak louder than words. To be continued as it were.

Thank you, Nic. Still to come, the fallout from the fight what Will Smith now says about the slap seen around the world?

Plus for the first time in months Queen Elizabeth the Second steps out in public had an event to honor her late husband, details on the service for

Prince Philip is after this.


ANDERSON: Will Smith has posted an apology for slapping Chris Rock at Sunday's Academy Award Ceremony. On Instagram Smith wrote and I quote him

here "violence in all forms is poisonous and destructive".

He says his behavior was unacceptable and inexcusable. The academy has opened a formal review into Smith's actions. And it looks like more people

than expected when watching the Academy Awards on Sunday night.

According to early Nielsen numbers, that's the organization that tracks viewing figures. The show drew an average of 15.3 million viewers in the

states, that's a 56 percent jump from last year's show that was the lowest rated Oscars ever.

It's not clear yet if there was a surge in viewership after Will Smith slap Chris Rock before. But the altercation blew up on social media which may

have drawn some people to tune in to the show's final hour.

Well Britain's Queen Elizabeth II makes her first public appearance in months to pay tribute to her later husband of 73 years.

Members of the royal family and world dignitaries attended a Thanksgiving service honoring the Duke of Edinburgh as - was also known as who passed

away last April. CNN's Anna Stewart has more from London for you.


ANNA STEWART, CNN REPORTER (voice over): This was the first time the Queen has been seen outside of a royal household for nearly six months. With the

aid of a walking stick and support from her son Prince Andrew, the Queen arrived for a service of Thanksgiving at Westminster Abbey for Prince

Philip, her husband for more than 70 years.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nobody would ever doubt his loyalty and deep devotion to our queen and to their family.

STEWART (voice over): A service starkly different to the funeral last year a pared back ceremony due to the pandemic, the Queen sat in a pew alone.


STEWART (on camera): On Tuesday, the Queen was surrounded by family, by friends, British politicians, royal families from overseas and hundreds of

people representing the many charities and organizations that Prince Philip was a patron of. And in this service, a congregation was allowed to sing.

STEWART (voice over): Choosing Prince Andrew to help her Majesty in and out of Westminster Abbey was a clear sign of a mother support for her son. But

first time he's been seen publicly since he settled a sex abuse lawsuit. Prince Harry and his wife the Duchess of Sussex were notably absent. But

plenty of younger Royals were there bringing together a family in love and memory.

And a nation is looking forward to happier days ahead with the Queen's Platinum Jubilee coming up in June. A moment to celebrate the Queen's 17

years of public service, which she continues with without Prince Philip by her side. Anna Stewart, CNN, London.


ANDERSON: Thank you for joining us. CNN continues after this short break. Stay with us.