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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Fire Breaks Out At Oil Depot In Russia's Bryansk Region; Thousands Of Luxury Cars Parked By Sanctions On Russia; Fences And Barricades Put Up In Shanghai In Effort To Control COVID. Aired 5:30- 6a ET

Aired April 25, 2022 - 05:30   ET




LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: Thirty-two minutes -- back now.

Russian state media is reporting a fire in fuel tanks at an oil depot in the Bryansk region of Russia, which borders Ukraine.

CNN's Nic Robertson joins me now live on this. Nic, this is the same area where Russia accused Ukraine of launching a helicopter attack on an oil depot less than two weeks ago. What more do we know about this?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes. The Emergency Situations Ministry say they got reports of a fire at the oil depot at about 2:00 a.m. in the morning -- currently under investigation. So, of course, this happened under the -- or during the hours of darkness.

And the Russians were very quick to point the finger of blame at another oil depot fire 11 days ago -- again, close to the border with Ukraine. At that time, they said Ukrainian helicopters came across the border and targeted that oil depot. And they promised at that time to have response strikes, and there were strikes within the days afterwards against Ukrainian oil depots.

So I think at the moment, the track is set here for the Russians again to blame Ukraine for the attack on the depots and very likely respond in kind, targeting fuel supplies necessary for Ukraine on it -- on its part of the border.

Ukraine's been somewhat ambiguous about these -- the attack 11 days ago of -- obviously, striking into Russia over the border would have been a bold move and in Russia's eyes an escalatory move.

JARRETT: And Nic, you've also been doing some interesting reporting about these luxury cars that are stuck in Belgium because of sanctions on Russia. What are you learning about that?

ROBERTSON: Yes. There's a lot of luxury items that were due to go to Russia that, because of sanctions, are getting put under lock and key here in Belgium and other parts of Europe. And not just luxury cars here; luxury handbags -- containers full of luxury handbags that were due to go to the Russian market.

There is a lot of effort to try to stop Russians importing wealthy products and being able to sort of take advantage of open borders that are now essentially shutting down.


The parking lot we went to had half a billion dollars worth of cars impounded there.


ROBERTSON (voice-over): Thousands of luxury vehicles not going to Russia. In this corner of the sprawling lot 200 top-end Cadillac Escalades -- street value in excess of $15 million. The spoils of sanctions literally piling up inside Belgium's mega port Zeebrugge -- a new front line in Europe's economic war with Russia pitting Belgian customs agents against Russia's sanctioned oligarchs.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have been freezing over 200 billion euros of Russian assets. We have also other luxury goods that are being blocked momentarily. There are 2,500 containers being blocked for more investigations.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): But who actually owns these seized valuables and can they be sold for money to support Ukraine? It's fast becoming a pressing question, particularly in Europe, feeling the economic pinch of Russia's war. These vehicles aren't Russian-owned yet but there is plenty of Russian wealth falling under Belgian government control.

VINCENT VAN PETEGHEM, BELGIAN FINANCE MINISTER: There is already $2.7 billion Russian assets that were blocked -- that were frozen. And then also, almost $200 billion transactions that were blocked.

ROBERTSON (on camera): And the goods that have been seized so far, what happens to them? Who owns them?

PETEGHEM: The transactions, of course, are blocked and the assets itself are frozen so they cannot be used anymore. It doesn't mean that they become -- that the government owns them.

ROBERTSON (on camera): And all these vehicles we're looking at -- they all say destination Russia.


ROBERTSON (voice-over): In Zeebrugge, shipping terminal boss Marc Adriansens is on the front lines enforcing sanctions. Any vehicle bound for Russia valued over $55,000 is impounded.

MARC ADRIANSENS, MANAGING DIRECTOR, ICO TERMINALS: So, for the moment, we have 8,000 cars that have started.

ROBERTSON (on camera): Eight thousand?

ADRIANSENS: Eight thousand already -- yes.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): That's a lot.

ADRIANSENS: That's a lot, though we could get more.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): A lot more. He says 120,000 vehicles bound for Russia, a year, transit his controls. He's already turning some away.

ADRIANSENS: We are not there to store cars. We are there to handle cars and to do added value on the cars.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): Pressure on Adriansens and Belgium will grow. The war far from over and trade ties with Russia deep.

ROBERTSON (on camera): In the third quarter of last year, Russia was the European Union's largest maritime trading partner, according to EU data. And one-third of all those goods coming through ports like this in Belgium are just up the coast in the Netherlands.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): It could all add up to potentially billions of dollars that could be used to help Ukraine. But turning it into cash requires legal confiscation -- not an easy process.

European Parliamentarians are being warned by the EU just as officials --

PETER CSONKA, EUROPEAN COMMISSION DIRECTORATE-GENERAL FOR JUSTICE: To get somebody's property confiscated we need a crime. We are looking for legal solutions. Money laundering, embezzlement -- perhaps sanction circumvention.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): Until then, seized goods and assets will age while Ukraine's frontline fighters die for fresh weapons.


ROBERTSON: And that's the real push here in Europe -- not just a sixth round of sanctions but trying to make use of all those goods that have been impounded and put the money to immediate use in Ukraine. But it does seem that the chances of that happening quickly are not so likely. It could take months at best.

JARRETT: Fascinating piece, Nic. Thank you for doing that.

All right, let's bring in Gen. Phillip Breedlove, the former supreme allied commander of NATO. General, so nice to have you this morning. Appreciate you getting up bright and early for me.

I want to turn back to that oil depot fire that Nic mentioned at the top of his report. We've seen these -- we've seen these before. How should we be viewing these in context? Is this Ukraine's best defense?

GEN. PHILLIP BREEDLOVE, FORMER NATO SUPREME ALLIED COMMANDER, DISTINGUISHED CHAIR, FRONTIER INITIATIVE, MIDDLE EAST INSTITUTE: Well, thanks for having me on, first of all. And I'm surprised that people are surprised. In fact, as Nic said, the residents are saying this is escalatory. Think about how crazy that is. They're saying it's OK for us to invade your country, to rape your people, to destroy their homes, to tear everything about civilian life up in your country, but you can't strike our country.

So, I'm not surprised that this oil fire is on. And I guess I'm -- as I would say one more time, I'm surprised that we're surprised. And we shouldn't allow Russia to get away with this.


JARRETT: Well, so -- and at the same time, sir, we've also seen these new Russian strikes on train stations just this morning. Now, infrastructure can, of course, be a legitimate military target in some instances but we know there are civilians on these trains that are trying to escape. We've all seen the pictures. We've all seen the casualties when the trains have been -- have been struck in the past.

How do you -- how do you make sense of this?

BREEDLOVE: This is no mistake by the Russians. This is absolutely deliberate. They are trying to cause the people to lose confidence in their ability to use these facilities and to escape the Russian crimes that are going on in their own country. This is not unlike where Russia continues to attack humanitarian convoys that they have promised free passage to, and as soon as the convoy starts they attack it.

They want to force these Ukrainian people to stay in Ukraine and be savaged by their attacks.

JARRETT: I want you to listen to what the Sec. of Defense and Sec. Austin said about winning. Listen to this.


LLOYD AUSTIN, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: In terms of our -- their ability to win, the first step in winning is believing that you can win. And so, they believe that we can win. We believe that we can win -- they can win if they have the right equipment, the right support. And we're going to do everything we can -- continue to do everything we can.


JARRETT: General, what's your reaction to that? Do you believe the Ukrainians have what they need to win?

BREEDLOVE: Well, first of all, Sec. Austin is a good friend. I served with him for many years. And I'm glad to hear him talking this way. I'm glad to see our administration finally talking about Ukraine winning this war.

And I agree completely it's important they believe they can win and it's important that they know they can count on us to get them what they need, and that is yet to be determined. We still have a long way to go to getting them the appropriate equipment at the appropriate speed.

And more importantly, at the appropriate place. We are finding that putting everything into Poland doesn't necessarily guarantee that it will get forward in Ukraine. And I believe the West has a lot to do now -- a lot to consider to try to make sure that all of this appropriate gear is actually getting forward to the positions where it's needed.

JARRETT: Fair enough. Got to get to the right location.

General Phillip Breedlove, thank you so much. Appreciate it, sir.

BREEDLOVE: Thank you.

JARRETT: Still ahead for you, fences put up as Shanghai locks down. And we will show you that next. And, see a sheriff's deputy climb the siding -- the siding of a building to save a baby.


DEPUTY WILLIAM PUZYNSKI, ORANGE COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE: Give me your baby. Give me your baby. We're coming. Hand me your baby.




JARRETT: Now to what could be shaping up to be a not so hostile takeover of Twitter. A source tells CNN the board of the social media company met Sunday to talk about Elon Musk's takeover bid. The driving factor here seems to be the Tesla's chiefs recent SEC filing revealing that he's lined up $46.5 billion in financing. Now, the big unknown is the board's estimate of Twitter's value and whether it's in line with Musk's valuation.

Well, the New Orleans Pelicans get an impressive win to even their NBA Playoff series with the Phoenix Suns. Andy Scholes has it all covered in this morning's Bleacher Report. Good morning, Andy.


So, you know, this series -- it's kind of now entering the nervous range for the top-seeded Phoenix Suns. Their star, Devin Booker, remains out with that injured hamstring. And now the Suns -- they find themselves going back to Phoenix with this series tied at two.

Pelicans backup guard Jose Alvarado playing amazing defense on Chris Paul. Here he forces the 8-second violation and that got the crowd all pumped up. Later in the fourth quarter, Alvarado then getting one of his sneaky steals. He does this quite often. Herb Jones would end up getting a layup.

Paul scored just four points in one of the worst playoff games of his career. The Pelicans won this game easily 118-103.

The Nuggets, meanwhile, trying to avoid the sweep in game four against the Warriors. Steph Curry red-hot in the fourth here. He gets the bucket to go, plus the foul. Then the next time down the court, Curry going to pull up and hit the step-back three right there. That put Golden State up by two.

But reigning MVP Nikola Jokic coming up big. He had 37 points. Found Will Barton here for the three to seal the game. Denver wins 126-121 to keep their season alive.

Defending champion Milwaukee Bucks, meanwhile, taking command of their series against the Bulls. Giannis Antetokounmpo, 32 points, 17 rebounds.

He got a lot of help, too, from Grayson Allen. He chipped in with a career playoff-high 27 points as Milwaukee rolled in that one, 119-95 to take a 3-1 series lead. They could wrap up that series Wednesday in Milwaukee.

The Heat -- also a dominant performance against the Hawks in Atlanta last night. Jimmy Butler leading Miami on a 26-4 run in the second quarter. It was never a game after that. Heat win 110-86. They can close out that series tomorrow.

The Celtics can complete a 4-game sweep of the Nets tonight. That game is at 7:00 eastern on TNT. The Sixers can also advance as they take on the Raptors. And it's pivotal game five between the Mavs and the Jazz. That series all tied up at two.

All right, to baseball -- Braves and Marlins. Look at this foul ball heading for the stands. And watch this dad. He's got the baby in one hand and he catches the ball with the other. Incredible grab. He was interviewed and said that well, hey -- he had to protect his daughter so the best way to do that was just catch the ball. Great catch there.


All right -- and finally, the Yankees posting extra security in the stands for yesterday's game after an ugly incident involving fans and Guardians players on Saturday. Fans in the right field just started throwing bottles and debris at Guardians players after the Yankees had won.

This was after Cleveland outfielder Myles Straw -- he climbed the fence in left field to verbally confront a fan who was celebrating after a Cleveland player was injured.

Laura, after the game, Straw, on Saturday, said the Yankees fanbase was classless and the worst fanbase on the planet. I will say props to Aaron Judge and some of the other Yankees players for running out there to right field --


SCHOLES: -- and telling the -- telling those fans to quit it.

JARRETT: Yes, get it together, people.

Thank you, Andy.

SCHOLES: All right.

JARRETT: Appreciate it.

Building blockades and putting up fences. Officials in Shanghai are scrambling to keep people from leaving during a COVID lockdown.

Selina Wang has the latest from Kunming, China where she just started three weeks in quarantine herself. Selina, good morning. What are officials thinking here, putting up fences?


Yes. In Shanghai, the city is putting up these steel fences and barricades on public roads and in some residential compounds. The point of it is to stop people from traveling to other districts and to block off COVID-hit areas.

But it's just adding to the outrage in Shanghai. People there already feel trapped. Most of the city's 25 million residents have been stuck in their homes for weeks now and still, there is no end in sight. The anger and desperation continues to grow. Many have been struggling to get enough food, to get access to medical care.

But COVID-19 cases in Shanghai continue to grow, reporting more than 19,000 COVID-19 cases on Sunday. And despite the enormous frustration among the people, China's officials are still doubling down on its zero-COVID strategy. Every single positive COVID case in close contact goes to a government quarantine facility with no exceptions.

And it's now just Shanghai. Omicron has led to outbreaks across the country. More than a dozen cities have gone under some sort of lockdown and restrictions, even now starting to affect Beijing, the capital city. They reported more than 60 cases since Friday in what officials are calling a grim and -- grim and urgent outbreak. This is the capital.

This is critical to the country and they are now barring some residents from leaving their area. They are also mass testing in the largest district. Beijing residents have also started to stockpile food. They're worried that things could turn for the worse.

Even though this strategy has stopped China from reporting the explosion in deaths you've seen some -- in some other parts of the world many more are now questioning whether or not the strategy is worth the tradeoff -- Laura.

JARRETT: Yes, a lot of questions about that strategy.

All right, Selina, thank you -- appreciate it. New airstrikes on train stations in Ukraine. A live report just ahead. And a sheriff's deputy's heroic climb to save a baby.


PUZYNSKI: Give me your baby. Give me your baby. We're coming. Hand me your baby.




JARRETT: Now to a dramatic rescue in Florida. A sheriff's deputy climbed the outside of an Orlando apartment building to save a 1-year- old girl from a fire. The deputy took off his bulletproof vest before scaling the burning building. A body camera attached to the vest captured this scene from the ground.


PUZYNSKI: Give me your baby. Give me your baby. Hand me your baby. We're coming. Hand me your baby.


PUZYNSKI: I cannot drop her.


PUZYNSKI: Can you reach down?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Back up. Back up. Wait, wait, wait, wait.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I got it. I got it.


JARRETT: Wow -- talk about a heart-stopping moment.

The man you saw there -- that's Deputy William Puzynski in action. Here is what he said just a short time later.


PUZYNSKI: At that moment, I knew that I had to save the baby. I didn't know how I was going to do it but I had to figure it out. It was very rewarding.


JARRETT: Very rewarding, to say the least. Truly a humble hero.

Thanks so much for joining me today. I'm Laura Jarret. "NEW DAY" starts right now.