Return to Transcripts main page
Connect the World
Putin to Suspend Gas Contracts if they aren't paid in Rubles; Putin to Halt Gas Contracts if they aren't paid in Rubles; The Struggle to get People Out of Mariupol; Europe Walks Tightrope with Russia Sanctions; World Fair Legacy Lives on in Startups; Putin's Long History of Brutal Military Aggression. Aired 11a-12p ET
Aired March 31, 2022 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BECKY ANDERSON, CNN HOST, CONNECT THE WORLD: This hour nobody in Europe prepared to pay in Rubles. We don't even know what they look like? Those
are the words coming from one of the countries in your most dependent on Russian gas. This as President Putin demands to be paid for gas and his
local currency will face getting cut off. I'm Becky Anderson. Hello and welcome back to "Connect the World".
Before we get to that story, just want to get you an update of what is happening on the ground in Ukraine. On the eve of another round of peace
talks with the Kremlin the news coming from Ukrainian officials and our teams on the ground is mostly about Russian shelling heavy shelling.
This is what the Northern City of Chernihiv looks like today after relentless Russian bombardment. And these just two days after the Kremlin
promised to ease up on mortar attacks on that city. Kharkiv in the Northeast is faring no better.
You're looking at the aftermath of the latest attack on Ukraine second biggest city farther east across the Donetsk region, which includes the
besieged city of Mariupol Ukrainian police say Russian troops have fired at the civilian population with mortars, tanks and artillery.
Yet there may be a flicker of hope, at least for the survivors of Mariupol. Dozens of buses have now set off for the bombed city after Ukraine and
Russia agreed to open a humanitarian corridor. Evacuations are supposed to start Friday at last work, the convoy was being held up at Russian
Well, that's the story on the ground. Meantime, Russian President Vladimir Putin is doubling down on his demand that unfriendly and I quote him their
country's pay for gas contracts in Rubles. Take a listen to what he said just a few hours ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT: I've signed - which set the rules for trading in Russian natural gas through the so called unfriendly states. We
suggest that you counterparty in these countries use a very simple and transparent scheme in order to buy Russian gas they need to open the Ruble
account in Russian bank and payments shall come from these accounts.
For gas supplied as of tomorrow, first of April this year. If these payments are not made we shall deem this as non-performance on the part of
the buyers and that will lead to consequences. Nobody gives us anything for free and we are not about to be charitable so active contracts will be
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Well, the decree set to take effect tomorrow April of first. The turmoil in the energy markets being felt all over the world. Experts tell
CNN oil prices will stay near triple digits unless Russian supply goes back to pre-invasion levels or a global recession drives down demand an
estimated 1.5 million barrels of Russian oil has been taken off the market since the war began.
Well, the White House has now said U.S. President is announcing an unprecedented release of oil from U.S. reserves. We do hear; expect to hear
from Mr. Biden in just a few hours' times. CNN Business Correspondent Clare Sebastian joining us now, from London.
Let's just put this into context if we can. The U.S. President, we believe will release a significant amount of oil onto the market that is to try and
keep the prices down to ensure supplies. That's one story. The gas story is very much a story of how Europe could be impacted significantly by the
sanctions that they have put on the Russian gas industry.
Just explain what we believe the consequences of what President Putin has just announced today will be?
CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Becky, it's very unclear until we hear actually from the European countries about how they're going to
respond to that. So far we've heard from Germany a couple of days ago, when this idea was first mooted, they called it blackmail.
There was a conversation last night between Chancellor Olaf Scholz and President Putin where Putin took a slightly milder tone than we heard from
him today and said, look, you know, you'll be able to pay Rubles to Gazprom Bank, and this won't really affect European customers.
But today Becky he took a very hard line. He said that, you know, that the inequality, the poverty, the dropping living standard, the inflation that
we're seeing around the world, and especially in Europe, that is the result of these sanctions. And that's precisely the point.
This is a way for Russia, to turn those sanctions back on the sanctions to put forward to push forward this narrative about Russia now against the
world about how none of this was their fault. He said, look whatever we do, and he said this before, they're going to put sanctions on us too.
We need to create our policies to create our financial system to protect our own sovereignty and to do this in a way that's sustainable for the next
few years because he said we don't expect these sanctions to go away.
SEBASTIAN: He continually tries to disconnect sanctions from what's happening in Ukraine and the entire tirade that we heard from him today on
Russia intelligent Becky. He didn't actually want to mention what was happening in Ukraine directly.
So I think that's significant. But for Europe, this is now urgent just this week, we saw that Germany has told its consumers and its businesses to try
to reduce the amount of energy they're using that in the short term, is the only way to deal with any kind of disruption of Russian gas supplies.
ANDERSON: And why this matters is so important. Europeans are likely to find themselves faced with enormous energy bills going forward, possibly
shortages of gas, and this could have an impact on just how long we see what this is until now united European front, correct?
SEBASTIAN: In terms of the - I mean, like we've seen that Europe so far has been united in the way that it has been rested, reticent towards putting
any sanctions on Russian energy. We've seen that the UK and the U.S. have both said they're going to sanction pretty much all of Russian energy
imports that Europe has remained cautious.
And there's just because they are so reliant this is their Achilles heel, this is the key leverage that Russia has. And yes, it is going to start to
impact and we are going to start to see those who are most reliant, remain still the most reticent to do anything about it.
We heard this week Becky from the economic advisors to the German government that they say that inflation could hit double digits in Germany
this summer because of potential disruption to gas prices. This is a serious problem for European economies. It will impact living standards, if
ANDERSON: Good to have you Clare. Thank you, Clare Sebastian is in the house for you. Yuriy Vitrenko is the CEO of Naftogaz, which Ukraine's state
is owned Gas Company is rushing bombs rained down on his country Russia, still transporting about a third of its gas that it sends to Europe through
Vitrenko tweeted this week that this was a necessity and that there are tens of millions of people in need of critical utilities. He said, when
there's a war, your expenses are up, people can't pay basically its humanitarian assistance. Well, he joins us now from Ukraine.
It's good to have you with us sir. Let's just address what Vladimir Putin has said in the past couple of hours that Russia will hold gas supplies to
buyers from, "unfriendly countries" which is basically the whole of Europe unless they switch to payments in Rubles from tomorrow.
I interviewed the Prime Minister of Slovenia this time yesterday, a country heavily dependent on Russian gas; take a listen to what he told me.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JANEZ JANSA, SLOVENIAN PRIME MINISTER: Nobody in Europe is prepared to pay in Rubles. This is also against the contracts which were signed. And I
think that the message from our ministers was very clear. I saw yesterday the message from the G7 ministers nobody will pay in Rubles, I believe,
actually, we don't know how they look like.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Well, I wonder whether you share his confidence. After all, we do know, Europe has been divided on the issue of Russian gas. Do you worry
this threat by Vladimir Putin's turn off the taps could fracture the United European front on these gas sanctions?
YURIY VITRENKO, NAFTOGAZ, CEO: I hope it will not. I suspect that there will be some European countries that will raise the question of switching
to Rubles. But I think that other European countries and the European Commission will make sure that they stay united because only in such a way
they can really confront and contain Vladimir Putin regime.
ANDERSON: It has to be a concern, though, doesn't it? Ukraine has been calling for Europe to halt its imports of Russian gas and yet its transit
to Europe via Ukraine is continuing as normal. Is NAFTA Gas prepared to cut off the pipelines going through Ukraine from Russia to Europe and if not,
why not sir?
VITRENKO: As soon as Europe stops buying Russian gas, there will be no flow of Russian gas so we won't even need to turn off the taps and at the same
time, as long as Europe continues to buy Russian gas. Of course, it's it would be if this gas goes through such pipelines as Nord Stream 1 or Nord
Stream 2 that Putin built.
VITRENKO: From this perspective, we say that and before we were saying that allowing building Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2, it was a big
geopolitical mistake on, for example, on the German side.
ANDERSON: Is it safe to say that Ukraine is benefiting from this transaction by collecting transit fees?
VITRENKO: But it's a very limited view. Yes, we're collecting transit fees but as I'm saying, the art the gauging for him food embargo and Russian gas
and oil. So now when they're killing, again, the Ukrainians, they're ruining our cities, we understand the real price, Russian gas and Russian
That's why we say that the whole world should stop buying Russian gas and oil. And we are prepared to lose any transit - cost of Russian aggression.
ANDERSON: Has Russia been targeting NAFTA Gas transit facilities that are providing what are needed energy requirements to Ukrainian households?
VITRENKO: Yes, they are targeting the so called distribution pipelines that, for example, distribute gas to Ukrainian households. They're ruining
basically doing all of the gradients, seizures like Mariupol, like Kharkiv, you have like - and many other cities.
But when you look at the transit pipelines, you definitely see that they don't want to hit them with their missiles, and in general, to cause any
damage to these pipelines. So they're rather selective in terms of what they do. So they're OK was creating humanitarian catastrophes inside
Ukraine, because that's puts more pressure on Ukrainian government, but they don't want to hurt their revenue streams.
ANDERSON: As you and I have just been talking, I am just getting news in and I think it's important that you hear this and that the viewers' hear
this that in response to Vladimir Putin's threat today, that gas supplies will be turned off, if Europeans don't start buying or paying in Rubles.
France and Germany have just said that they will refuse to pay for their gas contracts in Rubles, your response to that?
VITRENKO: That's exactly what we expect from the west to stay strong, and not to fall into the trap, laid out by Putin because it's not even about
blackmail. It's about accumulating. You're accumulating the whole world with this clearly illegal suggestion to pay in Rubles. So that's why here,
France and Germany finally show leadership how to confront Putin's regime aggression.
ANDERSON: Yes, I have to ask you again, you know, how concerned are you about how long that leadership might last given that we've heard from
German ministers who say that this is going to be a very, very painful period for the German public that this war is going to have an enormous
impact on the German general public?
VITRENKO: You see, you understand things in comparison. In Ukraine, the cost that we are paying, it's again, thousands of civilians, dying, kids,
pregnant women, again, all these facilities, just horrendous. So if Germans will have to pay slightly more for their energy, maybe they will have to,
again, keep temperature a little bit lower in their houses, maybe they will refuse again, to have an extra travel with a big car or something like
It cannot be compared with the risk that Germany not even Ukraine, Germany bears if Putin imperialistic ambitions are not stopped now in Ukraine, and
probably leaders of Germany and France, they now started to realize the risks coming from this imperialistic ambitions of Putin.
ANDERSON: I have to ask you, sir, how are you doing?
VITRENKO: Again, there is no safe place in Ukraine and I'm in Ukraine. I have to travel again to Kyiv. Kyiv is being bombed like almost every day. I
have to go to our sites where we still produce for example gas or deliver heating to Ukrainians.
VITRENKO: Unfortunately, some of our employees were killed civilians; they were killed by Russian Army. Again, many of our infrastructure assets are
ruined. So of course, and every hour I hear about the new attack, the new again, sometimes death of my personnel.
Again, as you can imagine, it's not an easy period of everybody's life in Ukraine. And then, for example, when they think about our customers in city
of Mariupol that was besieged by Russian army they exit and they're dying over there. So of course, it's horrible.
ANDERSON: Sir, our thoughts are with you. I appreciate your time. I know things are really tough for you. Thank you for joining us. Well, it's
turned to the action on the ground. And NATO Secretary General said on Thursday that Russia is refocusing its military efforts in the south and
eastern areas of Ukraine a move which will bring more suffering to innocent civilians in those areas.
One city bearing the brunt of that is the strategic city of Mykolaiv in the south, search operations there are ongoing at a regional government
building where there were at least 20 people killed by a Russian strike on Tuesday. Ben Wedeman joins us now live from Mykolaiv. Ben.
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Becky. Well, that strike took place at 8.45 a.m. local time on Tuesday, and more than 48
hours later, they are still pulling bodies out of the rubble.
WEDEMAN (voice over): Somewhere in this jumble of concrete bricks and twisted metal are more bodies trapped in the ruins of the office of
Mykolaiv's Regional Governor. Tuesday morning Russian missiles struck the building, killing more than a dozen people wounding anymore.
OLEKSANDR SYENKEVYCH, MYKOLAIV, UKRAINE MAYOR: They bombarded our city and only civilians are dying here.
WEDEMAN (voice over): Mykolaiv Mayor Oleksandr Syenkevych doesn't normally come to City Hall like this. But he saw war coming long ago and prepared
SYENKEVYCH: I'm starting from 2014; I thought that the war will be like this. So everything you see on me this - booths, anything. I bought it a
couple years ago, so I started to learn how to shoot. I was in a special school for that.
WEDEMAN (voice over): On the outskirts of his city, recently down Russian attack helicopters suggest the Ukrainian military also saw this war coming.
They've managed to stop Russian forces in their tracks, regaining territory lost at the start of the war.
Five Year Old Misha is recovering from shrapnel wounds to his head in the basement turned bomb shelter at Mykolaiv's Regional Children's Hospital.
His grandfather Vladimir shows me phone video of the bullet riddled car; Misha's father was driving with his family to escape the Russian advance.
Russian soldiers Vladimir calls them bastards opened fire on the car, killing Misha's grandmother and mother. As we speak, the air raid siren
goes on, taking shelter is an oft practice drill. Stay calm and carry on.
WEDEMAN: And this city is doing its best to carry on. What is going on here is that the city workers have cut down many of these massive trees on this
one of the city's main boulevard they're going to use the bigger trunks to help reinforce trenches. This car is coming right behind you, OK there,
sorry. Excuse me, Becky.
To reinforce trenches, the smaller branches will be used to provide heating for soldiers, you know, some campfires in the front line. But these two
gentlemen these two elderly gentlemen, one of whom this man in the - with a white hair, he has a business which he's handed over or rather he's hosting
displaced people there.
And he's collecting firewood to keep the people there warm. So people are just struggling to get by. There's not a sense of panic or deep fear but
really a determination to try to carry on life as normal as much as possible under these very abnormal conditions. Becky?
ANDERSON: Absolutely. It is remarkable, Ben, thank you. Ben Wedeman is on the ground for you in Mykolaiv. Well, you're watching "Connect the World"
from CNN's Middle East broadcasting hub here in Abu Dhabi, where the time is 20 past seven. Still ahead these Mariupol residents made it out of that
besieged city, while it's again proving difficult to get others to safety.
ANDERSON: Well, thousands of Ukrainians who remain stranded in the devastated city of Mariupol finally get the opportunity to leave. Well the
answer remains muddy today after news that Russian troops are blocking a convoy of dozens of evacuation buses from heading there.
That convoy departed Zaporizhzhia around midday local time after Russia and Ukraine agreed to open what's known as a humanitarian corridor. Getting
people out of Mariupol has proved extremely difficult as you will be well aware that some have made it to safety.
These are pictures of evacuees arriving in Zaporizhzhia, a few days ago. CNN's Ivan Watson connecting us today from there and this will be I'm sure
terrifying for those who are hoping to get out. But it's not yet clear that they're going to make it what are you hearing there?
IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, there have been mixed reports throughout the day. The latest announcement coming from the
Mariupol City Council, which is that the convoy of buses has reached the Russian, occupied Ukrainian port of Berdyansk, which is kind of the first
point outside of Mariupol that the evacuees had been going to.
And the note from the City Council is optimistic saying the acute evacuation will take place today. Call right. Tell your friends, your
family, your acquaintances. And I think what started off this day was that the Ukrainian government said it had gotten word from the International
Committee of the Red Cross that the Russian side would honor a green corridor to allow the evacuation of people from Mariupol today.
And with that announcement, the Ukrainians announced that they were going to send some 45 buses from this city of Zaporizhzhia in the direction of
Berdyansk and Mariupol. So I think there is some optimism there have been some reports throughout the day that there were holdups of that convoy. But
now it does seem to be moving forward.
Now there's a new wrinkle here and that is from the head of one of the Russian backed separatists regions, the Donetsk People's Republic, so
called. Its leader issued an announcement Denis Pushilin and he said that he's ordering the creation of an administration to govern the city of
That to me sounds very much like the first steps of Russian annexation of that contested city. And I say contested because there are still Ukrainian
troops in that city, they have still been fighting day after day despite being encircled against the Russian forces that had been laying siege to
WATSON: However, Ukraine said that it was going to honor a ceasefire today. So in the very short term, it seems that Ukraine has agreed not to shoot
and perhaps we will get a large number of very shell shocked and traumatized evacuees coming in this direction if this ceasefire holds,
ANDERSON: That's a big if, of course, isn't it at this point. Thank you, Ivan. Well, the U.N. says more than 4 million Ukrainians have fled their
homeland since this war began neighboring Hungary is welcome more than 360,000 of them. CNN's Matt Rivers spoke to some of the new arrivals about
what finally drove them out of Ukraine after weeks of war.
MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Zahony train station just across the border from Ukraine, it's here where refugees fleeing the war
touch Hungarian soil for the first time. People have been arriving here since the first days of the war. But these are the people that chose to
stay longer, up until they couldn't. People like Elena who left with her husband and three daughters.
RIVERS (on camera): How old is she?
ELENA, UKRAINIAN REFUGEE: Five.
RIVERS (on camera): And she asked if the tank would shoot it up.
ELENA: Yes, because she saw tank every day. Because they --
RIVERS (on camera): She saw Russian tanks?
ELENA: Russian tanks, a lot of Russian tanks.
RIVERS (voice over): Elena says Russian soldiers had occupied her village and set up artillery positions, and that Ukrainian forces started to target
them. Just a few days ago, she says there was an explosion about 100 meters from her house. Right after it hit, she knew it was time to go.
She says I thought to myself, I'm 34, I have three children. It can't end like this. So we walked right into the forest for two hours. A Ukrainian
soldier then stopped us and told us that there were snipers everywhere.
They put us underneath shields and walked us to safety because there were firefights everywhere. They never wanted to leave, she said, but eventually
she had no choice. It is a common sentiment from those here who waited for weeks after the invasion to make a brutal decision to flee, the only home
they've ever known; - Alessia la Hutto was one of them.
He stayed a really long time after the war started, she says about a month. But every day the sound of the bombing got closer and closer. And our
children are small. Our building didn't have a basement and there was no cover available.
So she joined the hundreds of thousands of other Ukrainians that have arrived here in Hungary. And as her kids sit and play in her lap, she gets
emotional about the threat to their lives and others. I can't understand why she says choking up. There are lots of small children who died and I
can't understand the purpose of this war. It's not only my children that are in danger.
The Ukrainian prosecutor's office says at least 145 children have died in the war, a number that is almost certainly an undercount. Alessia fled
because she didn't want her kids added to the list. And now she gets back on the train headed toward Budapest with an uncertain future amidst a
horror war, Matt Rivers, CNN Zahony, Hungary.
ANDERSON: One former Russian oligarch is speaking out against his country's invasion of Ukraine. Hear what he is saying about the Russian president,
and how he says Israel should respond, that is coming up.
ANDERSON: Europe is walking a fine line now over how it should punish Russia for its warm Ukraine with its heavy reliance of course on Russian
energy. That the European Union says Europe must be intelligent on sanctions.
And that targeting the billionaires closest to Russian President Vladimir Putin like Roman Abramovich and Igor Sechin is the best course of action.
Well, European sanctions have taken aim at seizing luxury items including yachts and private jets to add pressure to Mr. Putin's inner circle.
Well, let's bring Hadas Gold who is live in Jerusalem. She spoke to one former Russian oligarch about Russia's war on Ukraine. Who did he speak to
and what did he tell you?
HADAS GOLD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Becky, Leonid Nevzlin made his fortune in Russia in the finance and oil arenas and knew Vladimir Putin. But he soon
found himself tangling with the Kremlin and fled to Israel who could immigrate because he's Jewish.
And he's been a longtime critic now Putin - and of his fellow Russian elites. And for him though the invasion of Ukraine was the last straw so
much so that earlier this month, he decided to completely renounce his Russian citizenship.
GOLD (voice over): When Russia invaded Ukraine this one time Russian oligarch had had enough. Billionaire Leonid Nevzlin, a longtime critic of
Vladimir Putin publicly renounced his Russian citizenship in a Facebook post. Speaking to us from his home north of Tel Aviv, Nevzlin said the
decision was a long time coming.
LEONID NEVZLIN, RUSSIAN-BORN BILLIONAIRE: I just needed to announce that I do not accept this citizenship, my Russian citizenship, with the fascist
Putin at the helm.
GOLD (voice over): Nevzlin left Russia for Israel nearly 20 years ago, after what he says was a politically motivated series of charges against
him and the Yukos oil company he co-founded. The Israeli Supreme Court declined the Kremlin's request to extradite him.
In the European Court of Justice ruled he did not receive a fair trial. Nevzlin is calling now for harsher sanctions against his onetime
compatriots, the Russian oligarchs, and criticizing the Israeli government for what he says is a lackluster response to the war.
GOLD (on camera): What do you think it would take for the Russian elite for the oligarchs to stop supporting Vladimir Putin?
NEVZLIN: It's imperative that stricter sanctions are placed on the elites, and not in the business sector, but also among Putin's political, personal,
and bureaucratic colluders who have a lot of blood on their hands after all these years.
For me, Ukraine is the last straw. The sanctioning of such a large group of people must be carried out systematically, without any loopholes that will
allow them to use their stolen money in the West or the East, and it should also have ramifications for these colluder's home countries.
GOLD (on camera): We've been hearing here in Israel, that there might be a new wave of Russian oligarchs, Russian elite who will try to leave Russia
and come to Israel. Do you think they should be allowed in?
NEVZLIN: Anyone who has received Israeli citizenship legally but turn out to be big businessmen connected to Vladimir Putin, without a doubt, should
have to face stiff legal consequences under Israeli law.
Israel should minimally apply the economic sanctions and restrict access to any bank accounts. They should be cut off from society so they can no
longer engage in either direct or indirect corruption.
GOLD (voice over): Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has tried to mediate and not directly criticize Putin. And while Israel has condemned Russia's
invasion and is sending humanitarian aid to Ukraine, it has not imposed economic sanctions against Russia.
Although it pledges it won't become a route to bypass other countries sanctions. Nevzlin says he's a proud Israeli citizen and Jew, but says
Israel needs to do more to support Ukraine and have a more generous refugee policy to all whether Jewish or not.
GOLD (on camera): So you do seem a little bit ashamed of the Israeli government how they're handling everything from the politics to the
NEVZLIN: Not a little bit. I'm really ashamed.
GOLD (on camera): What do you hope will change them in the next few days, weeks?
NEVZLIN: I think things need to change dramatically after Zelenskyy's speech [to the Israeli Knesset]. If this doesn't happen, then I think
society needs to push the government on this.
GOLD (on camera): You said you hope one day to be able to reclaim your Russian citizenship. What will it take for you to get there? Does Putin
need to be gone?
NEVZLIN: I would. Let me tell you honestly, if I were to be offered Ukrainian citizenship, I would consider that a great honor.
GOLD (voice over): Until then one last citizenship is in hand, Nevzlin says he'll continue to work trying to democratize Russia from the outside.
GOLD: And Becky, one thing that really stood out to me in this interview with Nevzlin is that he doesn't think that the end of Putin's rule will be
at the hands of the Russian oligarchs, or the elites. He actually thinks that the regime change needs to and will happen by a popular revolution.
Because he says the collective mentality in Russia needs to change, Becky.
ANDERSON: May believe it needs to change that way. Will it though? Is there an opportunity for that is another question, isn't it? Thank you, Hadas. We
have new developments in the trial over the killing of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Turkish state media report the prosecutor in the case is asking for the trial to be transferred to Saudi authorities. Khashoggi was killed at Saudi
Arabia's consulate in Istanbul four years ago. 26 Saudi suspects have been tried in absentia in Turkey for nearly two years.
Now this request comes as Ankara seeks to ease the strain on relations with Riyadh. Turkish court is seeking the opinion from the Justice Ministry on
the transfer. Well, if you are a regular viewer of the show, you will know that we have over the last six months regularly broadcast from the EXPO
2020 Dubai. Well, it's officially over, - see closing ceremony taking place as we speak. You can see the performances live on your screens now.
That is the extraordinary Al Wasl Dome where we have seen so many performances over the past half year. Expos legacy, though, will live on.
We speak with the startups that have benefited most from this world fair that is up next.
ANDERSON: Well you are watching the EXPO 2020 closing ceremony live in Dubai. It's been six months of light shows fireworks, musical acts and
performance art most of which has been below what is this Wasl Dome, which is in the center of the site.
And you are watching it now. This is a dome that doubles as a 360 projection theater, 252 projectors, 42 projector pods. It stands 221 feet
high. And I have to tell you it is a show stopping environment. And that is the closing show, tonight is no different.
Tonight, we've got Christina Aguilera, Tiesto and Norah Jones headlining that show. Well, while the World Fair is closing its doors for now its
legacy should live on this event was primarily a showcase of innovative businesses and inventions.
That's what these world fairs are all about. And it has fostered the development of ideas that will they hope benefit mankind for years to come.
Well, I met some of the startups that received grants and support, and quite frankly, you know, pretty astounded at the ingenuity on display. Have
a look at this.
ANDERSON (voice over): Over the last six months, Expo 2020 Dubai brought the world together, so the largest global gathering since the start of the
COVID-19 pandemic. Through unique pavilions 192 countries exhibited the best their nations have to offer, showcasing cutting edge innovations and
Attracting more than 20 million visits, it's been the biggest gathering ever held in the Arab world. And with more than 32,000 events, it thrilled
visitors with performances by Grammy Award winning artists.
ANDERSON (on camera): Well as Expo draws to a close, we wanted to take a look at the sort of impact this World Fair has had and the sort of legacy
that it might provide, come with me.
ANDERSON (voice over): This is the good place, the expo live pavilion, home to Global Innovators who have committed themselves to making their
communities and our planet a better place.
YUSUF CAIRES, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT, EXPO LIVE: We understood very clearly that innovation is a big part of excellence and we want it to be different.
So our leadership put $100 billion in place so that we could search the world for innovations and bring them to the Expo for the whole world to
ANDERSON (on camera): How does Expo life interact with the wider Expo project?
CAIRES: I think the best part that we fit in is to give an idea of impact and legacy. You see all of these startups that we have supported. They're
not your typical startup; they're generating a positive impact on society and in the environment.
And we believe that these are the kind of startups and the kind of future companies that we need in our world.
ANDERSON (voice over): Sifting through 11,000 applications from 186 countries, Yusuf and team chose 140 startups to showcase at Expo.
CAIRES: My personal favorite is one that's right behind you. It's been my eyes from Denmark, it's by a gentleman photons. He's unfortunately going
blind. And he figured out that if he could create an app that would allow somebody to borrow somebody else's eyes that that would help him become
more independent as the visually impaired person.
Be My Eyes is an app that allows somebody who has been impaired to ask for help to check if the milk is still good, if the medicine is the correct
one. And it connects with a volunteer anywhere around the world who can speak the same language. Be My Eyes today are the largest volunteering
organization in the world.
ANDERSON (voice over): Be My Eyes is just one of many ideas being shown here. Two others that caught our eye desert control a product to turn arid
soil into fertile land. And Liter of Light, a global grassroots movement that uses inexpensive and readily available materials to provide high
quality solar lighting to communities without electricity.
I caught up with the founders, one from the Philippines and the other Norwegian who believe they are helping to solve serious problems that are
yet to be addressed.
ILLAC DIAZ, LITER OF LIGHT, FOUNDER: 1.4 billion people in the world don't have access to electricity. And even in my country, that's about 13
million. So they look for the most expensive energy sources to be able to light up their homes. What we do is we teach the locals green jobs by using
local materials and local skills to be able to empower them.
And they've made a business moving away from kerosene and change that into solar using the same skills that they use for weaving.
ANDERSON (on camera): Just explain exactly what it is that you identified as an issue that needed addressing.
ATLE IDLAND, DESERT CONTROL, GENERAL MANAGER MIDDLE EAST: We are addressing as the Desert control, there are three main topics in the world. That is
the degradation of our soils, which is absolutely incredible. What's happening under our feet out of sight out of mind, it's the spreading of
deserts, in a pace that we've never seen before?
We are losing 12 million hectares of fertile soil per year. That's three times the size of Denmark. And if you look at the biodiversity that we are
losing at the same time 70 percent of the world's biodiversity is in our soils.
DIAZ: We take plastic bottles cut LED for motorcycles; it has to be everything that can be repairable.
And the most important one is after we teach them we must make ourselves obsolete. That means they can scale it without us. In Morocco, we use
pottery in the islands, we use bamboo and, and so this is just small parts that can buy from electrical store, and this one and a screwdriver.
And there you can actually make a solar light. We make mobile chargers and streetlights which reduce crime by 70 percent.
ANDERSON (on camera): And how long does this take to build?
DIAZ: It takes about 30 minutes. And we're doing it here right at the Expo, we're challenging pavilions, we're challenging a lot of students to be able
to build a solar light, just like in the villages, but in this case, we will donate them so that they feel the impact.
IDLAND: What we have in front of us here is our patented technology, liquid nano clay, and it's made out of pure minerals and clay minerals, and it's
almost as thin as water. In our formulation process we break it down to nanoparticles and micro particles.
And when this hits desert sands or dry sands or degraded soils, it becomes water holding, and we're setting irrigation water up to 50 percent.
ANDERSON (voice over): This is a forum for the cultivation of ideas, but also provides the means every innovative solution could potentially receive
$100,000; grants like these are fuel for fledgling projects.
ANDERSON (on camera): How did Expo live help?
DIAZ: Expo live shows the power of ideas, anyone, anywhere can come up with an idea that makes a big difference. Expo live amplifies unheard voices in
changing society in a way that other peoples have not heard of. We've had presidents come in we've had, you know, senior philanthropists like Bill
Gates come in, you know, anybody anywhere could come in, and you could connect with the same chances.
As you know, government events, we broke the world record over here by the power of young people coming together spending 30 minutes of their time
building a solar light and showing that you know that they have the power to make this difference.
So we QR coded it and then we donated it to Yemen. And so we're hoping to make this at the largest messages for the planet. So we're going to take
all those slides in like a human powered billboard, assemble them for COP 28.
ANDERSON (voice over): It will soon be time for many of the extraordinary structures here at EXPO to be taken down. But this pavilion shows that this
World Fair should have a lasting legacy far beyond the borders of the UAE.
ANDERSON: Well, ahead on this show, a look back at more than 20 years of Moscow's unbridled aggression and the rise of Vladimir Putin.
ANDERSON: This assault on Ukraine follows a pattern of military aggression that goes back more than 20 years. My colleague Matthew Chance covered all
of these conflicts and he has filed this report.
MATTHEW CHANCE, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Russian troops fresh from battle cruising through the devastated streets of a
deserted city virtually leveled by rockets and artillery fire. You can see the apartment blocks in the background reduced to rubble.
It could easily be Ukraine in the past few weeks. But this is footage from 22 years ago in Chechnya, a breakaway Russian region brutally suppressed by
the Kremlin, an early glimpse of how uncompromising Vladimir Putin would be.
CHANCE (on camera): The almost unanimous opinion of these soldiers is that if he's elected on Sunday, Vladimir Putin will make a strong president to
lead this country and its armed forces.
CHANCE (voice over): At the time, he vowed to chase terrorists to the toilet, and wipe them out in the outhouse. He later expressed regret for
those words, but not the actions. Europe's first war of the 21st century was also Putin's war.
The tiny Georgian enclave of South Ossetia was a backwater of the former Soviet Union. But it was here that Putin got a taste for violating
international boundaries, intervening to support the breakaway region, pounding Georgian forces and rolling his tanks across the border.
CHANCE (on camera): Well, there's been a lot of speculation about where the Russian troops are, well, here they are. Well, inside Georgian territory,
and outside the main conflict zone of South Ossetia. And the big question is how far will they go?
CHANCE (voice over): At Then, as now the invasion provoked international score. But just after the short Georgia war, Putin seemed confident;
relations with the West would endure.
CHANCE (on camera): Do you think that this is a turning point in relations between Russia and the West? You think that period of post war calm has
come to an end?
PUTIN: I think no, I hope no.
CHANCE (voice over): He was right. A Western backlash against the resurgent Russia never came until this. In 2014, protesters topple the pro-Russian
president in neighboring Ukraine, and Putin moved quickly to secure Russian interests.
CHANCE (on camera): Well, astonishing developments in Crimea because without a shot being fired, Russia has moved into the Ukrainian territory,
and despite international condemnation effectively brought it under its control.
CHANCE (voice over): Sanctions followed, but so too, did an unstoppable wave of nationalism. President Putin, the victor of Crimea had for many
Russians restored a sense of pride.
PUTIN: We understand that it is not about the territory which we have enough of, it is about historical roots of our spirituality and statehood.
It is about what makes us a nation and a united unified nation.
CHANCE (voice over): Soon, Putin unleashed his growing military Swagger even further afield. The shock and awe of Russian airstrikes in Syria
propped up the regime of Bashar Al Assad, each missile helping to change the course of the Syrian conflict and sending a potent message of Russian
CHANCE (on camera): Well, this really does feel like the center of a massive Russian military operation. The air is filled with the smell of jet
fuel. And the ground shudders with a roar of those warplanes returning from their bombing missions.
CHANCE (voice over): Now the missiles and the rules are being heard once again. And Putin's destruction in Chechnya, then Georgia then Syria is now
being visited on Ukraine. Of course, he's ridden out tough sanctions and international condemnation before. But this time, it's unclear how much
support Putin has at home.
CHANCE (on camera): This is one of those Russian Soviet era vehicles, which is completely burned out and given painful Russian losses on the
battlefield. It's unclear too, whether he will now double down as he has in the past, or back down like never before. Matthew Chance, CNN.
ANDERSON: And we'll leave you with that. This evening from the team here working with me in Abu Dhabi. It is a very good evening. Thank you for
joining us. CNN of course continues after this short break. Stay with us.