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U.S. President Joe Biden Speaks about War in Ukraine; Biden Announces New Ukraine Security Assistance; Interview with Alar Karis, President of Estonia, about Zelenskyy Meeting. Aired 10-10:40a ET

Aired April 21, 2022 - 10:00   ET




BECKY ANDERSON, CNN HOST (voice-over): This hour, the huge fuel factory housing Ukrainian soldiers and families in Mariupol is still standing.

Russia's president says there is no need to storm it.

Instead he's ordering Russian troops to blockade it so that, quote, "a fly cannot get through."

Putin making those comments while claiming victory for what he calls the liberation of Mariupol.

Well, getting people safely out of that besieged southern port city in Ukraine remains problematic. The mayor of Mariupol saying last hour that

expected evacuation buses still had not arrived. Four buses did manage to leave on Wednesday, far fewer than hoped.

Ukrainian deputy prime minister calling the situation, the security situation there, "difficult." Two senior Ukrainian negotiators say they are

prepared to meet a Russian counterpart in Mariupol to negotiate safe passage out of the city for civilians and troops.

Let me get you to the White House now, where Joe Biden is now set to address the nation on the security situation in Ukraine.

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And we had a good discussion.

I talked about what I'm about to tell you about today, as well as -- he was thanking the American people for their support, understands it's

significant and was -- we talked about keeping everyone together, in terms of Europe, the European Union and others, in the effort to stop Putin's


But before I head out to the West Coast, I want to quickly update the American people on the latest steps we're taking to support the people of

Ukraine and to hold Putin accountable for his brutal and bloody war.

Russian forces have retreated from Kyiv, leaving behind them a horrifying evidence. And you've seen it and you reported it -- your folks. And, by

the way, I don't say this often but I think we should give enormous credit to the folks in your agencies that are on the ground in Ukraine, in these


And they're -- they're really -- I've spoken to several of them. It's a -- we owe them. But uncovering these evidences of their atrocities and war

crimes against the Ukrainian people -- it's so clear to the whole world now.

Now they've launched and refocused their campaign to seize new territory in eastern Ukraine.

And we're in a critical window now of time where that -- they're going to set the stage for the next phase of this war.

And the United States and our allies and partners are moving as fast as possible to continue to provide Ukraine the forces that they need -- the

weapons they need -- excuse me -- and the equipment they need -- their forces need to defend their nation.

Last week, I signed an $800 million package of security assistance to Ukraine that included new capabilities like artillery systems and armored

personnel carriers -- equipment that is responsive to Ukraine's needs and tailored to support the intensified fighting in the Donbas region, which is

a different war than in other places because both -- topographically it's different.

It's flat, it's not in the mountains and it requires different kinds of weapons to be more effective.

Today, I'm announcing another $800 million to further augment Ukraine's ability to fight in the east -- in the Donbas region.

This package includes heavy artillery weapons -- dozens of Howitzers -- and 144,000 rounds of ammunition to go with those Howitzers. It also includes

more tactical drones.

In the past two months, we've moved weapons and equipment to Ukraine at record speed.

We've sent thousands of anti-armor and anti-air missiles, helicopters, drones, grenade launchers, machine guns, rifles, radar systems. More than

50 million rounds of ammunition had already been sent.

The United States alone has provided 10 anti-armor systems for every one Russian tank that's in Ukraine -- a 10:1 ratio.

We're sharing and will continue to share significant, timely intelligence with Ukraine to help defend them against Russian aggression.

And on top of this, these direct contributions from the United States, we're facilitating; we're the outfit facilitating the significant flow of

weapons and systems to Ukraine from other allies and partners around the world, like the S-300 long-range, anti-aircraft systems that Slovakia

recently transferred to Ukraine. We are getting them in there.

We won't always be able to advertise everything we -- that our partners are doing to support Ukraine in its fight for freedom.


BIDEN: But to modernize Teddy Roosevelt's famous advice: Sometimes we will speak softly and carry a large Javelin. Because we're sending a lot

of those in as well.

You know but we're not -- we're not sitting on the funding that Congress has provided for Ukraine. We're sending it directly to the front lines of

freedom, to the fearless and skilled Ukrainian fighters who are standing in the breach.

You got to admit, you have -- must be amazed at the courage of this country, the resolve that they're showing, not just the -- their military

but the average citizen: men and women, young men, young women as well.

It's -- you know, the sustained and coordinated support of the international community, led and facilitated by the United States, has a --

is a significant reason why Ukraine is able to stop Russia from taking over their country thus far.

Every American taxpayer, every member of our armed forces can be proud of the fact that our country's generosity and the skill and service of our

military helped arm and repel Russia's aggression in Ukraine, to beat back Putin's savagery that tried to seize Ukraine's capital and wipe out

Ukraine's government.

The battle of Kyiv was a historic victory for the Ukrainians. It was a victory for freedom, won by the Ukrainian people with unprecedented

assistance by the United States and our allies and our partners.

Now we have to accelerate that assistance package to help prepare Ukraine for Russia's offensive that's going to be more limited in terms of

geography but not in terms of brutality -- not in terms of brutality.

Combined with our recent drawdowns, it will ensure a steady flow of weapons and equipment into Ukraine over the next few weeks.

However, with this latest disbursement, I've almost exhausted the drawdown authority I have that Congress authorized for Ukraine in a bipartisan

spending bill last month.

In order to sustain Ukraine for the duration of this fight, next week I'm going to -- have to be sending to Congress a supplemental budget request to

keep weapons and ammunition flowing without interruption to the brave Ukrainian fighters and to continue to deliver economic assistance to the

Ukrainian people.

Hope -- and my hope is and my expectation is Congress would move and act quickly. And I want to thank the Congress -- Democrats and Republicans --

for their support for the people of Ukraine.

Our unity at home, our unity with our allies and partners and our unity with the Ukrainian people is sending an unmistakable message to Putin: He

will never succeed in dominating and occupying all of Ukraine. He will not -- that will not happen.

In addition to bolstering Ukraine's resistance on the battlefield, we're also demonstrating our support for the people of Ukraine.

Today, the United States is announcing that we intend to provide an additional $500 million in direct economic assistance to the Ukrainian


This brings our total economic support for Ukraine to $1 billion in the past two months.

This is money the government can help use to help stabilize their economy, to support communities that have been devastated by the Russian onslaught

and pay the brave workers that continue to provide essential services to the people of Ukraine.

You know, these past weeks have seen a terrible human cost of Putin's ambition for conquest and control. Approximately two thirds -- two thirds

-- of all Ukrainian children have been displaced from their homes. More than 5 million Ukrainians have fled their country. It's an absolute


The idea this is happening approaching the second quarter of the 21st century is just....

Last month, when I was in Europe, I announced that the United States would welcome 100,000 Ukrainians so that we share in the responsibility of

supporting Ukrainians fleeing Putin's war machine.

We've already welcomed tens of thousands of Ukrainians to the United States.

And today, I'm announcing a program, "Unite for Ukraine" -- a new program to enable Ukrainians seeking refuge to come directly from Europe to the

United States.

This new humanitarian parole program will complement the existing legal pathways available to Ukrainians, including immigrant visas and refugee


It will provide an expedient channel for secure, legal migration from Europe to the United States for Ukrainians who have a U.S. sponsor, such as

a family or an NGO.

This program will be fast. It will be streamlined. And it will ensure the United States honors its commitment to go to the Ukrainian people and need

not go through our southern border.

We're also continuing to ratchet up the pressure on Putin and further isolate Russia on the world stage.

Yesterday, the Treasury Department rolled out additional measures to crack down on the entities and individuals attempting to evade our unprecedented



BIDEN: Not just ours but throughout the West.

Today, I'm announcing that the United States will ban Russian-affiliated ships from our ports, as they did in Europe.

That means no ship -- no ship that sails under the Russian flag or that is owned or operated by Russian interests will be allowed to dock in a United

States port or access our shores. None. None.

This is yet another critical step we're taking in concert with our partners in the European Union, the United Kingdom and Canada and -- further to deny

Russia the benefits of the international economic system that they so enjoyed in the past.

We don't know how long this war will last. But as we approach the two- month mark, here's what we do know:

Putin has failed to achieve his grand ambitions on the battlefield. After weeks of shelling Kyiv, Kyiv still stands.

President Zelenskyy and his democratically elected government still remain in power.

And the Ukrainian armed forces, joined by many brave Ukrainian civilians, have thwarted Russia's conquest of their country.

They have been bolstered from day one by an unstinting supply of weapons, ammunition, armor, intelligence from the nations of the free world led by

us, the United States.

As Russia continues to grind out the military advances and -- their military advances and the brutalities against Ukraine, Putin is banking on

us losing interest. That's been my view; you've heard me say this from the beginning.

He was counting on NATO, the European Union, our allies in Asia cracking, moving away. He's betting on Western unity will crack. He's still betting

on that.

And, once again, we're going to prove him wrong. We will not lessen our resolve. We're going to continue to stand with the brave and proud people

of Ukraine. We will never fail in our determination to defend freedom and oppose tyranny. It's as simple as that.

So again, I want to thank the American people -- thank the American people for their support of the Ukrainian people. This is our -- this is our

responsibility, it seems to me and we've been able to hold the whole world together in this effort.

So thank you very much. Thank you.

QUESTION: Mr. President --

BIDEN: I'm going to take just one or two questions. I've got a plane to catch.

QUESTION: What does -- what does Putin claiming control over Mariupol mean?

Is that -- how significant is that?

BIDEN: Well, first of all, it's questionable whether he does control Mariupol. One thing for sure we know about Mariupol: He should allow

humanitarian corridors to let people on that steel mill and other places that are buried under rubble to get out -- to get out. That's what any,

any, any head of state would do in such a circumstance.

And so, there is no evidence yet that Mariupol has completely fallen.

QUESTION: Mr. President, on Title 42, sir, are you considering delaying lifting Title 42?

BIDEN: No. What I'm considering is continuing to hear from my -- well, first of all, there's going to be an appeal by the Justice Department

because, as a matter of principle, we want to be able to be in a position where if, in fact, it is strongly concluded by the scientists that we need

Title 42, that we be able to do that.

But there has been no decision on extending Title 42.

Thank you.

QUESTION: Mr. President, how long can the U.S. maintain the level and pace of this military support for Ukraine?

BIDEN: I -- well, we have the capacity to do this for a long time.

The question is, Are we going to continue to maintain the support of the international community and keep the pressure on Putin to prevent him from

overrunning the country?

Number one. And, number two, make sure we continue to maintain the economic sanctions, which, over time -- and we're beginning to see it --

are devastating their economy and their ability to move forward.

So the most important thing right now is maintain the unity. So far, so good.

Thank you very much.

QUESTION: How much money are you going to ask for in the supplemental?

How much money in the supplemental, sir?

BIDEN: The answer -- that's being decided now. And I'm asking the Defense Department to put together what they think we need.


ANDERSON: Well, U.S. President Joe Biden speaking to the nation from the Roosevelt Room at the White House today, announcing another $800 million in

aid to Ukraine, including heavy artillery, dozens of Howitzers and ammunition to go with them.

He talked about the delivery of tactical drones. And he said we're helping to facilitate the transfer of weaponry from other allies as well.

Sometimes, he said, we will speak softly and carry a large Javelin, he said, to steal a phrase from President Roosevelt.


ANDERSON: And he applauded the courage and resolve shown by Ukrainians and he said every American taxpayer can be proud of the fact they are involved

in helping Ukraine defend against Russia's offensive.

Putin, he said, has launched and refocused the campaign to seize new territory. This phase, the U.S. president said, is a new phase, limited in

terms of geography but not in terms of atrocities.

"How long does this war go on?" he was asked as he was leaving the room.

He said, "It will go on as long as we can maintain the unity of the international community."

Matt Rivers connecting us in Lviv and Kylie Atwood is at the State Department with more on the announcement by Joe Biden.

Shashank Joshi is in the London studio with me. He's defense editor at "The Economist."

Where do you want to start?

Let's start with you, it's good to have you here and I'll come to my two colleagues.

What did you make of what you just heard?

SHASHANK JOSHI, DEFENSE EDITOR, "THE ECONOMIST": I think it is very important. We're waking up every two days now to a new announcement of an

$800 million package, almost weekly.

Who would have thought this would have been the case two weeks ago, when we thought Kyiv might fall in days?

We are seeing what I think is probably the single most significant, substantial transfer of weaponry to a single state in such a short period

of time since the Second World War. And what I heard was a commitment by President Biden, that Ukraine's not going to be allowed to lose.

Russia is going up against the defense industrial capacity of the United States and of Europe. This is a country with a GDP that isn't that much

bigger than Spain, than Italy. That looks to me a lot like a losing battle for Russia.

ANDERSON: Let's get to the State Department, Kylie Atwood.

Anything in that announcement that we didn't already know?

There's certainly a ratcheting up in the quality of the weaponry, given that this is a new phase, this is a different phase and will need different

weapons to fight Russia's army.

KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right. He also described exactly why the Biden administration continues to give this

security assistance right now, very clearly saying that this war is at a critical moment, because this moment in time is going to define what the

next stage of the war looks like.

So really explaining to folks why we saw this $800 million in security assistance, in military assistance, to Ukraine last week and then there is

this second package, echoing that, mirroring that this week.

As you said, heavy artillery, more than 100,000 rounds of ammunition part of that. The Biden administration is doubling down on what it did last

week. There isn't anything new this week.

But they're providing more of what Ukraine is saying it needs at this moment in this fight. It is also significant that President Biden announced

that his administration has now come up with a new form of immigration for the Ukrainians coming from Europe to the United States that will expedite

the process for them to get here.

That is significant because his administration has committed to admitting 100,000 Ukrainians. But we haven't really seen a system in place that can

back up that commitment. So of course, we will look for more details on that.

But it does mean that the Biden administration is trying to get those Ukrainians to come to the United States, who have sponsors here in the

United States, perhaps family members, a little bit more quickly.

Lastly, I do want to point out that the president said -- what the president said about Mariupol, saying there is no evidence yet that it has

completely fallen. Of course, that is a key statement ,because Russia is claiming in the last few hours here that they have taken Mariupol, that

they're letting out the rest of the folks here.

The president doubling down on the Ukrainian side, saying that that fight isn't completely over.

ANDERSON: Well, Matt, you've been talking to your sources and reporting on what is going on in Mariupol. Let's be quite clear: CNN isn't on the

ground there. We are not inside the city. So we are having to rely on narratives coming out of there and video coming out of there.

Getting people to safety, though, remains absolutely key in what is this besieged southern port city.

What do we know?

MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We know it is going incredibly poorly, Becky. And that is a tragedy. There are some 120,000

citizens, ordinary people, in and around Mariupol, including inside the steel plant --


RIVERS: -- where the bulk of the Ukrainian resistance remains that needs evacuation. Yesterday, four buses, just four buses, carrying a few dozen

people, managed to be evacuated.

And today, even though, allegedly, that humanitarian corridor is still open, we're still trying to get some information about this, but buses have

had trouble reaching the city. And there was only about 200 people or so, according to the city's mayor, that were lined up.

So 200 out of 120,000. So that gives you an idea of just how dire this situation is and when it comes to evacuations.

Why aren't more people trying to take advantage of this?

We have no way to know for sure but there is a number of different reasons.

One, why would you trust the Russian military, that they're going to respect a cease-fire and not fire on buses or civilians when they showed

wanton disregard for civilian life?

That's one reason potentially. The other reason, we can't get in touch with people in Mariupol, because there is a lack of communications

infrastructure. That means people within Mariupol have trouble getting access to information.

Just because the mayor is on Telegram, saying you should leave the city, it doesn't mean that people who are inside these bombed-out apartment

buildings have even heard that an evacuation is going on.

So there is a number of different things that could be going on there, Becky. But the end result is the same: evacuations going incredibly poorly

in Mariupol.

ANDERSON: Matt, Kylie, Shashank, thank you very much indeed for joining us.

Well, since Russia invaded Ukraine, the small country of Estonia has made a big impact with its support for Ukraine. Estonia share a border with Russia

and although it has a large Russian-speaking population, this NATO member is concerned about Russian aggression.

Russia has just announced it is closing the Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian consulates in St. Petersburg in retaliation for their military

assistance to Ukraine.

Last week the Estonian president, Alar Karis, met with the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, alongside leaders from the other Baltic

countries and Poland. Earlier, I spoke with him about what he learned on the ground.


ALAR KARIS, PRESIDENT OF ESTONIA: It was a meeting going on here with three presidents from Baltic states and Poland and we visited President


The feeling was he's very brave man, of course. And he's very enthusiastic at the moment to end this war. Because I also visited president right

before war. He was more worried because there was uncertainty and he didn't know what happens.

But now the war is going on and he knows exactly what to do. And he's looking for more help from our countries and from different countries, like

including U.S.

ANDERSON: Yes, so, can you be a little bit more specific about what you discussed?

KARIS: First of all, the discussion started with ban of oil and gas. The president Zelenskyy told us that it is utmost important that we should ban

supplying this gas and oil from Russia.

And second topic was about the grain, which is now -- they have in Ukraine and we all know that Ukraine supplies grain and sunflower to different

countries, including Africa. There are more than 20 million tons of grain in storage at the moment. And they have difficulty to get them out.

That means a raising a sense of humanitarian problem in future if you can't provide grain to different countries. And there is probably 50 million tons

coming from this year's harvest.

And one proposal was that we could open our ports in Baltics and in Poland and use trains to provide grain to different countries. And, of course,

another option is to try to keep port of Odessa open, that we could provide this kind of humanitarian aid to countries.

ANDERSON: So as I understand it, there were a number of issues discussed, not least Russian energy, the issue with grain and what needs to happen

next, as far as military hardware (ph) is concerned for the Ukrainians.

And you talked about opening ports from your countries, which would allow Ukraine to transport grain out by rail.

Can you expand on that?

KARIS: It's not a new idea. And we took it in and we are going to discuss in other countries. It is mostly the concerns Lithuania, Latvia and Poland.


KARIS: Not much Estonia because we are far north. But these countries could discuss and get a solution to President Zelenskyy.

And, of course, one discussion we had was how to rebuild Ukraine because many buildings are bombed down and they also need not only military help

but also cranes and different machinery to build up -- to restore the houses. And we also ask for what kind of help they actually need.

ANDERSON: How long do you believe this war will go on?

KARIS: Well, it is difficult to say. Wars can happen, that this war will (INAUDIBLE). That means it is going on and on and on. So that's why it is

important to end it as soon as possible.

And all the sanctions, including gas and oil, are utmost importance. Otherwise, we just kind of watch and Ukranians are dying and fighting for

actually free Europe and for Western world and so forth.

ANDERSON: You also visited surrounding towns around Kyiv.

Can you just describe what you saw there?

KARIS: It's just horrible. As I said once, I was speechless. I mean, killing civilians, children, raping women. And you see results out there,

buildings are bombed down and all this violence. It is a war crime. It is a crime against humanity.

And they're already people from international crime court in place and we also provide direct support to Ukrainians. So this crime should be

documented and there should be a trial.

ANDERSON: Is it genocide?

KARIS: Well, elements of genocide, definitely. Our parliament also discussing this matter today and tomorrow.

ANDERSON: Throughout this war, we have seen small European countries like your own leading the way, to some extent, when it comes to supporting

Ukraine, particularly with weapons.

Do you believe that the larger countries, the stronger economies, such as Germany, for example, should be doing more at this point?

KARIS: They started doing more and also U.S. is providing military assistance. So it takes time probably for countries. And we have

experienced our different pasts. We do remember how it was in 20th century before the Second World War and after the Second World War.

So we have this kind of experience. And it is not only question of Baltic States or small state, it's question of Europe and security of Europe,

which had dramatically changed during the past two months.

ANDERSON: The U.S. State Department yesterday suggesting that NATO allies could actually be on the ground going forward and help in evacuation

corridors; specifically talking to the issue of Mariupol, where so many tens of thousands of people still remain and still are in a desperate


What do you know about the detail of any plans for NATO allies to be active on the ground in Ukraine?

KARIS: Well, it is obviously, we don't want to actively be involved in this war. But with military assistance and also this corridor you

mentioned, it is a matter of discussion. We shouldn't avoid this kind of discussions.

And to end up with the result of some kind of alternatives. So this is their democracy. I mean, we should discuss this openly to end this war as

soon as possible.

ANDERSON: So do you expect to see NATO boots on the ground helping with evacuations?

KARIS: It is very difficult to predict. But different NATO countries provide assistance already. So it is a -- and as Kremlin said, it is war

against NATO. It is war against free world. It is war against West. So we are involved anyway.

ANDERSON: But there haven't been any boots on the ground or any jets in the air. Let's be quite clear about this, to date.

Do you believe that may change?

KARIS: It depends what Putin's next steps are.


KARIS: If he start use chemical weapons or anything worse, of course, we should be on ground.

ANDERSON: Estonia is a country of 1.3 million people. It has taken in 30,000 Ukrainian refugees since the war began.

What impact is this having on your country, your population and how many more people could you take in?

KARIS: We don't have this limit at the moment. Of course, some people are getting worried that there are too many Ukrainians coming to our country.

But we decided to open our hearts and doors for Ukrainians. And we're trying to do our best to accommodate them to shelter, to give education in

Estonian schools, in Estonian language and so forth.

And most of them are women and children. And trying to find job also for parents and mothers. And they are also extremely educated, at least some of

them, teachers, medical doctors, nurses and so forth.

And it is important to use them at schools and at hospitals.


ANDERSON: That was the view from the Estonian president, Alar Karis, speaking to me earlier. Next hour I'll speak to the foreign minister of

another small European country, the Czech Republic, which is also pulling more than its weight in support of Ukraine. We will be back straight after

this short break. Stay with us.




ANDERSON: Welcome back. I'm Becky Anderson in London. You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD, where it is half past 3:00 here for you in London.

France's president going head to head with the far right candidate challenging him for the presidency. Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen

debated last night. The conversation spanning France's relations with Russia to addressing the rising cost of living.

The country is just three days off from a runoff, the first vote on April 10th for 12 candidates. But since neither got more than 50 percent of the

vote, they're going into a runoff. Melissa Bell joins me now live.

Having listened in to the three hours, what was the response of the French public, who won out last night?


MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, as France watched it or at least the 15.5 million people who took the time to watch it, there was no real

knockout blow, as we had seen back in 2017 when they had gone head to head.

And yet a poll conducted shows, in the end, 59 percent of those who watched believed President Macron came off as more presidential. After all, this is

the point of that debate. This was the only one that Macron took part in.

And it was important for Marine Le Pen that she could make herself heard in a way she hadn't five years ago. Have a listen to her main and most

successful line of attack on the cost of living, in which she alleges are Macron's failures to have addressed it.


MARINE LE PEN, FRENCH FAR-RIGHT OPPOSITION LEADER (through translator): I must here again be the spokesperson of the French people because, Mr.

Macron, I heard you. With your government, you are delighted to have increased French people's purchasing power.

But me, I only saw French people, who told me about their problems of purchasing power. I only saw French people, who told me that they can't

make it anymore, they can't get by, they can't make ends meet at the end of the month.


BELL: The far right candidate has really made that, the cost of living, rising inflation, rising energy costs, central to her campaign. Macron's

first term was March, a Yellow Vest protest, discontent over pension reform, discontent over lockdowns and the way he managed the COVID-19


That's what she was hoping to tap into. But Emmanuel Macron is pretty good in this format, pretty unbeatable. It was on Russia she was shakiest of all

and where Macron really laid in, those ties she has to the Kremlin, her long-standing support for more dialogue with Moscow and her long-standing

opposition to sanctions.

Even that, even that has now softened as a result of the war.

ANDERSON: In the past, Marine Le Pen admired the Russian president Putin. Mr. Macron seized on that.

What did he say specifically and how did she respond?

BELL: It was unfortunate for her. A few hours before the debate, the Russian opposition leader, Alexey Navalny had spoken, tweeted from his

jail, urging the French to back Macron, going into details of that 2014 loan that her party took out from the Russian bank.

She has always claimed it was a legitimate loan she took out because no French bank would lend to her party.

What Navalny put in his long thread in remarkable French was this was a bank with well known ties to the Kremlin, it would have been some kind of

exchange for political influence and that it was a corrupt bank and that Marine Le Pen must have known that, urging France to go out and vote for


Macron, when the debate began, the part of it on Russia, went for it on the loan, saying it meant she couldn't have any real independence on so many

issues that matter even more today, Becky.

ANDERSON: Melissa Bell in Paris, thank you.

Join us Sunday, 8:00 pm Paris time, 2:00 pm Eastern, for our special live coverage of the French elections, right here on CNN.

Boris Johnson is in deal-making mode. The British prime minister is in India as we speak on a post Brexit trade mission as the so-called Partygate

scandal simmers back home. Downing Street says Mr. Johnson is expected to announce deals with India worth more than $1 billion.

At the same time, he's playing down the prospect of getting India's prime minister to take a tougher stance against Russia over Ukraine. India, of

course, has abstained from various U.N. resolutions condemning the invasion.

As Boris Johnson shakes hands in India, the Metropolitan Police in London confirms it won't make any more Partygate fines public until after key

elections next month in England.

This announcement comes as U.K. lawmakers debate whether to move ahead with a probe, which would look into claims that the prime minister misled

Parliament over lockdown parties. A vote on that is expected in the coming hours.

Earlier in the day there was a surprise U-turn by government, when it dropped a bid to delay that vote.

Still ahead, the race for the Premier League title is well alive and it is well. And Manchester City with no plans to slow down, it seems. Details are

in our sports update after this.