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Biden And Xi To Speak As U.S. Warns China About Aid To Russia; America Vets Teach Basic First Aid And Survival Skills To Ukrainians; Health Officials Around The World Fight To Save Ukrainians. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired March 18, 2022 - 05:30   ET




CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Hours from now President Biden is set to speak with Chinese President Xi Jinping. The White House is growing concerned about the budding partnership between Xi and Russian President Vladimir Putin. U.S. officials say they expect the call could turn intense.

CNN's Jasmine Wright live in Washington with more. Why is this conversation expected to be contentious?

JASMINE WRIGHT, CNN REPORTER: Well, it comes at a real moment of truth for U.S. and Chinese relationships Christine, especially as we know there is that concern from U.S. officials -- U.S. lawmakers as they watch, really, with great concern over China and Russia's growing relationship, especially as U.S. officials have warned that China is now weighing whether or not to provide military or financial assistance to Russia as it has really faced these setbacks on the ground in Ukraine -- something that Russia has requested.

And now, both countries have denied that is actually taking place -- whether Russia requested it or whether China is actually deciding on whether or not to do it. But U.S. officials really -- they warn that if China would do it, it could potentially torpedo the U.S. and China relationships, essentially for decades to come here.

Now, Secretary of State Antony Blinken really previewed this high- stakes call that President Biden will have in just a few hours, saying that he believes and the U.S. believes that it is China's responsibility to use its influence with Russia to try to get them to end this war as quickly as possible. But it seems that Russia could be turning in the opposite direction here.

Take a listen.


ANTONY BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE: It appears that China is moving in the opposite direction by refusing to condemn this aggression while seeking to portray itself as a neutral arbiter. And we're concerned that they're considering directly assisting Russia with military equipment to use in Ukraine.

President Biden will be speaking to President Xi tomorrow and will make clear that China will bear responsibility for any actions it takes to support Russia's aggression and we will not hesitate to impose costs.


WRIGHT: So, strong words there from Blinken as he previews what President Biden will tell President Xi later on in this call.

And, of course, it comes after U.S. officials say that President Xi has been really unsettled by President Putin's aggression in Ukraine -- of course, also with the performance with the Russian military. And they say that came after he was taken aback -- really caught off guard that his intelligence in the country did not predict exactly what President Putin could do. That is despite weeks and weeks of warnings from officials.

So now, President Biden will have to use this call Christine really to try to decipher exactly where China stands in these heightened times as well as trying to influence President Xi to really get on the right side and try to pressure President Putin with his relationship to de- escalate.

But, of course, that is not going to be easy for President Putin. This is the last thing I will say -- it will not be easy for President Biden to do that, especially as he said just a few days ago --



WRIGHT: -- that President Xi does not believe, Biden said -- he feels like he does not believe that democracies can be sustained in the 21st century, which is exactly what President Biden is fighting for right now -- Christine.

ROMANS: That's right.

All right, Jasmine. Thank you so much for that. I know you'll be watching it closely.

I want to bring in Gordon Chang. He is a columnist at the Daily Beast and Newsweek. He's the author of "The Coming Collapse of China."

Gordon, you and I have talked about China for years together here. You and I both know that the Chinese are very good at strategic dialogue that doesn't necessarily bring any conclusions for the Americans.

What does the U.S. need to see from China today?

GORDON CHANG, COLUMNIST, DAILY BEAST AND NEWSWEEK, AUTHOR, "THE COMING COLLAPSE OF CHINA" (via Webex by Cisco): Well, it would be important for Xi Jinping to cut off all commodity purchases from Russia. To not make its financial system available to sanction Russian institutions. To stop the propaganda blasts that have been amplifying these ludicrous Russian notions. And also, basically, to stop Chinese diplomats from supporting Russia. But I don't think we're going to see any of those things.

ROMANS: Do you think we could see Chinese meals-ready-to-eat on the -- on the -- on the -- on the battlefield in Ukraine? Chinese military equipment? I mean, there was a diplomatic cable that said that the Russians had asked China for help in the invasion of Ukraine and both sides have denied it.

CHANG: Yes, and American diplomats have been saying that China is open to that. But we also know from some open-source reporting -- not confirmed but reporting -- that China's been supplying military intelligence to Russians. So, for instance, the drones that the Ukrainians are using are Chinese made, and that Beijing has been supplying information that allows Moscow to sort of reverse engineer them and to target the drone operators.

So, I think that China, at this point, doesn't see any cost to supporting Russia because although we have been issuing warnings -- and we've been doing that since February 3 -- we have not been imposing the costs on China despite its open activities in support of Putin.

ROMANS: It seems as though China's leadership are trying to be pragmatic here though, right? They're not exactly making life easier for Russia. They're letting the ruble drop. They're freezing some infrastructure investments.

You know -- are they trying to have it a little bit both ways? You know, support their friend in Russia -- friends in Russia but not completely align with Russia to bring criticism on themselves.

CHANG: Well, yes. I mean, certainly, they would like to maintain friendships with both Moscow and with Western capitals, but it's up to us to say that that's not possible because we have seen the bulk of Chinese activities really supporting Putin.

And those things that you mentioned about the infrastructure investments and the others -- those were really the result of the mild U.S. sanctions that the U.S. has imposed on certain Russian activities.

So it would seem to me that instead of talking to the Chinese at this point -- I mean, we already did that for seven hours on Monday --


CHANG: -- when Jake Sullivan met Yang Jiechi. What we should be doing is imposing sanctions, Christine, and then giving the Chinese an incentive to come talk to us.

ROMANS: Bigger picture longer-term, quickly. Do you think the pragmatic leaders in China looking at the world reaction to the invasion of Ukraine -- do you think that gives them pause about aggression in Taiwan? CHANG: I think that it does. But really, what the most important thing that's giving them pause is the resistance and the heroic resistance of the Ukrainians. I think that they might understand that Taiwan, which actually is better suited to defense because of it's an island and its mountainous topography -- they would give Chinese invaders a very difficult time.

ROMANS: All right, Gordon Chang. So nice to see you. Author of "The Coming Collapse of China."

All right. Ahead, the breaking news out of Lviv. Six missiles fired toward the area overnight just miles from NATO territory. We're live on the ground there.



ROMANS: Breaking overnight, a Russian airstrike on the city of Lviv in western Ukraine where so far, attacks have been rare. Officials say the target, an aircraft repair plant near Lviv's international airport. The plant was shut down. No injuries have been reported. The Ukrainian military says it was able to intercept two out of six missiles launched in that attack.

I want to bring back in CNN's Scott McLean live from -- this morning for us from Lviv. What more do we know about this missile attack and the significance of bombing so far west now in Ukraine?

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, this is the first time that a missile has hit within the Lviv city limits. Previous ones, Christine, have come close. The most recent was about 25 miles away from here, not far from the Polish border at a military training facility.

This one seemed to be targeting the airport. What was actually hit, as you mentioned, was some kind of aircraft repair facility.

This is new for Lviv. They have been hearing air raid sirens for weeks now but explosions are a new thing. It turns out though that this city has been preparing for war for weeks.


MCLEAN (voice-over): This is the kind of lesson that few people want to have to teach and fewer want to have to use in real life. It's basic first aid for a community coming to grips with the reality of war.

MARIAN PAKHOLOK, CIVIL ENGINEER (through translator): I'm afraid because we are not prepared. I am not a professional soldier but I understand it is better to meet the enemy being prepared and with the right skills.

MCLEAN (voice-over): Dr. Robert Lim is an American war veteran working with the Global Surgical and Medical Support Group. It's bringing medics, doctors, and surgeons to Ukraine to train civilians. It seems fine now but these scenarios may soon become reality.


The civilian training, held in a local gym, attracts engineers, teachers, dancers -- all kinds of professions and age groups, including high school students suddenly forced by the war to put their own plans on hold.

VIKTORIA HLADKA, HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT: I don't understand and know when I will in future (INAUDIBLE) because now it's a hard time and I don't know what can be tomorrow.

MCLEAN (voice-over): Lim is teaching battlefield survival skills, like how to apply a tourniquet or how to keep an injured person breathing. With 23 years of experience as an Army surgeon, he is also training doctors to prepare for the type of wounds rarely seen in civilians during peacetime.

DR. ROBERT LIM, VETERAN ARMY SURGEON: If you're in New York City or London, or another big city, most of the injuries are blunt -- so, a car accident or a fall, or something like that. Whereas most of the injuries on the battlefield are going to be penetrating wounds that might injure an artery or a major vessel.

MCLEAN (voice-over): All with a small fraction of the resources they're used to.

LIM: Do what you can with what you've got.

MCLEAN (voice-over): In many parts of Ukraine, medical supplies and facilities are getting harder to come by. And in the worst-hit areas, many hospitals are now operating in basements, with only flashlights to avoid attracting Russian bombs.

Dr. Tania Boychuk is a dermatologist from western Ukraine, one of dozens of medical professionals sharpening their skills for battle.

DR. TANIA BOYCHUK, DERMATOLOGIST (through translator): In normal life, dermatologists do not provide first aid, do not stop bleeding, do not do tourniquets and punctures.

MCLEAN (voice-over): With her day job on hold, she's planning to join the military -- and she won't wait for the fighting to come to her.

BOYCHUK (through translator): I plan to go to the war front. My close friends are at war now and I want to be there, too.


MCLEAN: And in terms of injuries in this latest strike on Lviv, the governor says just one person was hurt but not seriously.

The governor says that the Russians know that Lviv has become a humanitarian hub with more than 200,000 people here seeking safety. He says that this strike is proof that nothing is sacred for the Russians -- not women, not children, no migrants -- Christine. ROMANS: I mean, to see people having to learn battlefield techniques to keep their neighbors safe -- keep them alive -- just heartbreaking in 2022.

Scott McLean, thank you so much.

Public health officials around the world pitching in to help Ukrainians in any way they can. One group of health workers experienced in humanitarian medicine and emergency services, MedGlobal, was on the ground in Ukraine to help with the injured and refugees suffering in this escalating war.

Joining us now is Dr. John Kahler, the co-founder of MedGlobal. Thanks so much for joining us.

You know, what do Ukrainian doctors still need? How are they keeping up with the mounting injuries?

DR. JOHN KAHLER, CO-FOUNDER, MEDGLOBAL (via Webex by Cisco): Well, one of the things are that -- one of our goals in coming to Lviv so quickly was that it's difficult for large organizations to scale up. It was easier for us with the help of our Ukrainian community in Chicago to put together over $500,000 worth of medications and supplies. We were able to transport those immediately and got those into the -- into Lviv within two weeks as the -- as the bigger organizations scale up.

We were able to get into the major trauma hospital as well as the military hospital, both to distribute medications to those particular hospitals as well as to offer medications to the front. One of the sad stories is that one of the hospitals that we were supplying in the front was completely destroyed before the shipment of medications was even able to get there.

In addition to that, we were able to have -- and this is very germane to your previous discussion. In addition to that, we were able to have a Zoom call with the Ministry of Health, both from Kyiv, further -- working its way further up towards Lviv, and 200 physicians and hospital administrators and such. So we were able to get a basic understanding of what the current needs are and, as my colleague was just saying, and the training needs, both for physicians that are not used to war-related injuries as well as to civilians.

We set up a plan and we're returning -- we're planning on returning in two weeks to do on-the-ground training. But given what happened in Lviv last night, I think the urgency will make us come back sooner.


KAHLER: We're doing a lot of -- the plan was to do a lot of this training also -- a lot of this training also virtually, and we'll ramp that up as quickly as we can.

ROMANS: It's just remarkable that you're training -- that you're training physicians on trauma-related field techniques, and that you've got citizens who are learning -- relearning about tourniquets. KAHLER: Right.

ROMANS: Because that's the kind -- those are the kinds of injuries you're seeing there.


KAHLER: Well, that's exactly right. And even as -- even physicians who may or may not have had trauma experience are going to be forced into -- tasks will be downloaded to people who weren't particularly comfortable with these things. So, hospitals -- first-line hospitals as the war moves -- as the war moves west, first-line hospitals will be receiving acute traumatic injuries. Those then will be processed from there and move to hospitals a little bit further in.

It's a system that has worked in other situations, but it's a system that's not to -- is hard to ramp up in this matter -- in this -- you know, in this short period of time.

ROMANS: Dr. John Kahler, thank you for all you're doing. Thank you for the training American population in Chicago who is helping support you in sending all the important stuff that needs to get there. Thank you for your work, sir.

KAHLER: Well, you're very welcome. And thank you so much. I appreciate it.

ROMANS: All right. Ukraine's United Nations ambassador confronting his Russian counterpart in the U.N. Security Council over the innocent victims of Russia's brutal war on Ukraine.


SERGIY KYSLYTSYA, UKRAINE AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: Ambassador, do the eyes of Ukrainian children, women, and elderly killed by the Russians flash before you? If they do, we may consider how to -- how to sponsor a decision to help you deal with perpetration-inducted traumatic stress. But now, have some decency and stop the egregious manipulation of the Security Council. It is obscene.


ROMANS: "It is obscene."

The Russian ambassador did not respond to the comments, telling reporters after the meeting Thursday that he doesn't engage in, quote, "personal exchanges."

Up next, Arnold Schwarzenegger flexing some diplomatic muscle with a direct message to the Russian people, trying to break through the wall of propaganda over the Ukraine war.


ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER, FORMER GOVERNOR OF CALIFORNIA: This is not the war to defend Russia that your grandfathers or your great-grandfathers fought. This is an illegal war.




ROMANS: Let's get a check on CNN Business this Friday morning.

Looking at markets around the world, you can see Asian shares have closed mixed. Europe has opened lower. And on Wall Street, stock index futures are leaning down after three big days of rallies in the U.S.

The big story this week, though, the Federal Reserve raised interest rates for the first time since 2018, and it indicated six more hikes are likely this year. The goal is to make borrowing more expensive, cooling the economy and curbing inflation. But it's a tricky path for the Fed. Slowing the economy too aggressively could tip it into recession.

Fed chairman Jay Powell says the U.S. economy is strong enough to handle it.


JEROME POWELL, CHAIRMAN, FEDERAL RESERVE: In my view, the probability of a recession within the next year is not particularly elevated. And why do I say that? Aggregate demand is currently strong and most forecasters expect it to remain so. If you look at the labor market, also very strong.


ROMANS: So what about stocks? Usually, interest rate hikes lure money out of the stock market and into the bond market. But strategists say rate hikes don't have to doom the market here.

According to LPL Financial, a year after the first rate hike in a cycle, the S&P 500 has been higher the last six times. That's the long-term view. In the short term, expect a lot of volatility, especially given Russia's attack on Ukraine.

Arnold Schwarzenegger speaking directly to the Russian people in a video message posted on social media. It was an emotional appeal from the actor and former California governor. He's attempting to punch through Russian state propaganda.


SCHWARZENEGGER: I know that your government has told you that this is a war to de-Nazify Ukraine. De-Nazify Ukraine? This is not true. Ukraine is a country with a Jewish president -- a Jewish president, I might add, whose father and three brothers were all murdered by the Nazis.

You see, Ukraine did not start this war. Neither did nationalists or Nazis. Those in power in the Kremlin started this war. This is not the Russian people's war. Because of its brutality, Russia is now isolated from the society of nations.

You're also not being told the truth about the consequences of this war on Russia itself. I regret to tell you that thousands of Russian soldiers have been killed. They have been caught between Ukrainians fighting for their homeland the Russian leadership fighting for conquest.

This is not the war to defend Russia that your grandfathers or your great-grandfathers fought. This is an illegal war. Your lives, your limbs, your futures are being sacrificed for a senseless war condemned by the entire world.

Let me close with a message to all of the Russians who have been protesting on the streets against the invasion of Ukraine. The world has seen your bravery. We know that you have suffered the consequences of your courage. You have been arrested.