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First Move with Julia Chatterley
Shanghai begins Two-Phase Lockdown as COVID Cases Soar; Ukraine Finance Minister: War is Damaging our Economy, Killing our People; CNN at Dubai Expo 2020; Europe Sets 2027 Deadline to end Reliance on Russian oil and gas; Timmermans: I was Impressed by Biden's Feelings but we are not about Regime Change. Aired 9-10a ET
Aired March 28, 2022 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JULIA CHATTERLEY, CNN HOST, FIRST MOVE: You're watching CNN. I'm Julia Chatterley in New York and we begin with the latest on the crisis in
Ukraine. And with each passing day, the suffering continues as the Russians maintain their bombardment. CNN teams on the ground in Kyiv reporting the
sound of explosions and in the Lviv, the sound of air raid sirens.
We understand that siren was the all clear signal elsewhere in the Lviv fuel depot ablaze on Saturday after being targeted by Russian cruise
missile and this video showing the City of Kharkiv in ruins an advisor to President Zelenskyy accusing Vladimir Putin of trying to wipe Ukraine "Off
the face of the earth".
Ahead of talks this weekend in Istanbul President Zelenskyy says Ukraine is ready to accept neutral non-nuclear status under certain conditions.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT: Our priorities in the negotiations are known. Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity are
beyond doubt effective security guarantees for our state are mandatory. Our goal is obvious peace and the restoration of normal life in our native
state as soon as possible.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHATTERLEY: Now, Ukraine's Military Intelligence Chief says that he believes Vladimir Putin is seeking to split Ukraine into two using the
postwar division between North and South Korea as his model. Nic Robertson joins us now Nic, good to have you with us.
I think for most people looking at the map, they'll long have understood this idea of perhaps of a corridor along the south of the country into the
East so connecting Crimea with the Donbas region. If you combine that potential view with what we've heard from President Zelenskyy, over the
last day or two, where do you think that leaves potential negotiations in Turkey this week?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: I think both sides are still a long way apart, what we're hearing from President Zelenskyy
represents in many ways, the pressure that he's under to, from NATO, from the United States, from the European Union, to be able to continue to get
the weapons supplies that he needs to fight Russia.
And these nations are all committed to helping support him in one way or another, particularly with defensive weapons rather than the big weapons he
wants. So he's sort of stuck, he certainly doesn't have the mate to flush the Russian army out of Ukraine. So he does need to look to the diplomatic
And that's partly why you know, the support that he's getting is constructed in that way that the nations that support Ukraine don't want to
see an escalation, the fighting. So what we're hearing him say is that he is willing for Ukraine to become neutral, as long as it has security
And there, he's looking to the west for those security guarantees. But here's the big hurdle. And this is why I say we're not near because the big
hurdle in all of this is that he would want this to come about this new position for Ukraine to come about through popular support through a
But the conditions he says for that referendum are that Russia must withdraw its forces back to pre-war phase back to pre the 24th of February,
which means there are no Russian forces inside Ukraine.
And when you add that into that land corridor that we hear the Minister of Intelligence there in Ukraine, speaking about not just the land grab by
Russia, but Russia, implementing in the south, sort of parallel leadership's administration and insisting according to the minister in
Ukraine, that citizens inside Ukraine are now forced to use the Russian currency, not Ukrainian currency.
That's how the leadership in Kyiv sees Russia at the moment is trying to separate north and south like, like Korea, and they're saying, no, we're
ready to move forward. But you've got to get your troops out and relinquish that kind of control. This is why I think we're a distance apart are the
two sides are distance apart at the moment, Julia?
CHATTERLEY: Yes, none of it seems comparable, and compatible with Russian intentions, at least at this stage. I think also what we have to discuss as
well I want Nic, to get your sense and an opinion on this is the fact that President Zelenskyy was talking to Russian journalists, those that have
been forced to close down or to leave, to stop doing what they were trying to achieve in in Russia. How important is that in light, particularly of
what President Biden said over the weekend and, and then obviously, the White House and Biden clarified it to this man cannot remain in power.
They're saying that they're not pushing for regime change. But there is a sense that there's messaging attempts being made to the Russian people
ROBERTSON: They're hugely important. And the people that are most important to the Ukrainian leadership because the way to try to slow down the Russian
offensive is to build support in Russia against it. And that's near impossible because Russia is shutting down not just all - almost all of its
independent media and another independent media channel were given it sort of shut down orders today in Russia as well.
Russia is also shutting down some international media broadcasts and production inside of Russia. So for Zelenskyy to speak to an independent
Russian independent media, many of whom are now located outside of Russia it's a way to try to reach around the Kremlin's propaganda and get to that
maybe one quarter of the population who want that information who don't want the government propaganda, and who want to hear from the Ukrainian
leadership about their real position and not what the Kremlin is telling them.
So that's important. And when it comes to what President Biden has said about President Putin, and that's sort of been walked back by, by various
U.S. officials, including Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the most recent President Biden walked it back as well.
This sort of plays into what we've heard from the French President Emmanuel Macron say, look, I wouldn't use that sort of language, because I'm still
trying to talk to President Putin and Macron at the moment, has probably had more phone calls than any other European leader to President Putin and
President Zelenskyy and is currently working on an effort to try to get civilians and an estimated as many as 150,000 out of the besieged City of
Mariupol in the South of Ukraine.
So the President Macron is sort of trying not to find a grand fix for the whole war, but at the moment trying to find medium term and immediate
solutions for the humanitarian suffering that's underway. And for that reason, he says he wasn't - he wouldn't use the language that President
Biden used because that just escalates tensions and potentially escalates the war as well.
CHATTERLEY: Nic Robertson, great to have you with us. Thank you. Now the Southeastern City of Zaporizhzhia is now under an emergency curfew as
officials closely monitor the Russian troop's movements as Ivan Watson reports.
IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): This is a checkpoint at the entrance to the Eastern Ukrainian City of Zaporizhzhia.
But this is an unusual day the government has imposed a city wide daytime curfew traffic is not being allowed in or out. And we're getting a look
with the local police force at how they're enforcing this emergency curfew.
I'm getting a tour of the city with two local police inspectors, we have past many deployed Ukrainian soldiers we cannot show them or film them for
their safety. Given that there is a full-fledged war taking place in this country. What is striking about this daytime curfew is that a city of
nearly a million inhabitants is now a complete ghost town.
ROMAN PANCHENKO, POLICE INSPECTOR: My name is Roman Panchenko. I'm Ukrainian police for over six years. I like my job. I'm proud of my work
this territory of the city only policeman and some military, every car which goes to the city is checked.
WATSON (on camera): The police say it's easier to maintain security and search for suspected Russian collaborators when the city is locked down.
How far away is the Russian army right now from where we are?
PANCHENKO: Russia Army is several fronts but the nearest place where Russian tanks dislocated is maybe 30 kilometers from this place.
WATSON (on camera): A half hour by car.
PANCHENKO: Yes, yes, you right.
WATSON (on camera): Would you defend Zaporizhzhia if the Russian army comes here? I mean, you're not soldiers you're police. Would you fight?
PANCHENKO: I'm a man. I'm a man. I'm Ukrainian man. It's for me. It's very shameful men, not to protect his family not to protect his child, not to
protect his life.
WATSON (on camera): The people here know what happened to other Ukrainian cities and towns that have been attacked by the Russian military. They
don't want that to happen here. But they say if it does they're ready.
CHATTERLEY: A humanitarian catastrophe that's how Ukraine's President is describing the situation in Mariupol following the recent onslaught to the
city. These new images of the utter devastation there many who took shelter in basements during the Russian bombardments are returning to find their
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I've lived here since my birth my husband as well. We got married here and had babies. What now what is left for us? I don't want
to go anywhere from Mariupol, but there's nowhere to live here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHATTERLEY: It comes on top of reports of Russian strikes hitting the West of Ukraine previously considered a relative safe haven. Phil Black is in
Lviv on the West of the country for us Phil good to have you with us. Just give us a sense of what the latest is there.
PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So Julia, there were more cruise missile strikes across the country last night reported from different locations.
Crucially, at least one of them was knocking out yet another fuel storage area this is in the - region, only a relatively short distance northeast of
where I am in Lviv.
Those cruise missiles we are told were fired from across the border from Belarus. It's a pattern now that we've been seeing for some days here
experienced here in Lviv on Saturday when cruise missiles fired from the Black Sea naval vessels there knocked out a fuel storage site here in the
center of Lviv.
This has also happened in other parts of the country over recent days in Mykolaiv near Kyiv. It is a clear path and a clear tactic by Russia to
knock out these logistical and support sites. They've also been attacking weapons storage areas. The hope Russia has here is that by impacting fuel
supplies, weapon supplies, you will impact the ability of Ukraine to maintain its defense.
Meanwhile, some video has emerged from what appears to be the far east of the country near the Kharkiv region, which seems to show Ukrainian soldiers
mistreating, abusing, even shooting in a non-lethal way captured Russian soldiers.
Russian soldiers are seen being shot in the leg others are being seen on the floor or on the ground with serious leg injuries implying that they've
also experienced the same punishment. They're also abused in both physically and verbally in other ways.
The Ukrainian government has acknowledged this video exists and advisor to the government says this is serious we will investigate it. This is not how
our soldiers are supposed to behave if it is proven to be true. While the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense says that these sorts of videos these sorts
of moments are being staged by Russia, as part of its propaganda war, Julia.
CHATTERLEY: We'll continue to follow that story in particular - Phil Black, thank you so much for that report there. Let me bring you up to speed now
with some of the other stories making headlines around the world.
Shanghai is launched a two phase lockdown to try to contain a growing COVID outbreak. Starting today 11 million residents in the East must remain at
home and get tested. On Friday, the lockdown will be extended to the west to cover an additional 14 million people as Steven Jiang reports.
STEVEN JIANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): This lockdown order came after days of confusion and chaos on the streets but also online about what
the authorities were due to Shanghai, which is experiencing its biggest surge of COVID cases since the pandemic began.
Now for days officials have denied there would be a city wide lockdown with police even launching investigations against so called rumor mongers about
the city's eminent closure. When you look at the number more than 16,000 cases since March, a huge deal for China and with even a suspicion about
this number has been underreported.
But when you dive a bit deeper, the overwhelming majority of these cases have been asymptomatic, which according to most experts would not require
much hospital care. So for a long time, up to this latest wave of cases Shanghai had prided himself on its less disruptive approach to COVID
The city had never undergone city wide mass testing and its quarantine measures were often considered less restrictive compared to the rest of the
country. So there was actually a lot of hope this Shanghai model will be adopted by the rest of the country, more lenient, more targeted approach
and eventually leading to the country to be reopened to the rest of the world.
But instead we are seeing now Shanghai authorities adopting some of the very harsh measures. We have previously only seen the other cities really
confining millions of residents to their homes shutting down a large portion of the city's public transportation including the world's biggest
And of course, a lot of concerns and even agony about the increasingly strained healthcare system with a lot of people seeking medical attention
for non COVID related causes being turned away, leading to at least one death of a local nurse because of this.
And then of course, there are a lot of concerns about a city's elderly population because Shanghai does have the oldest population among all major
Chinese cities and that's the segment of the population that has been under vaccinated.
JIANG (voice over): All of this really leading to a lot of panic buying of stores takeout restaurants and also a growing sense of fatigue, frustration
or even anger really bursting online. But even though all of this is taking place in Shanghai, that decision, of course, is being made here in Beijing.
And at least for now, the leadership is showing no sign of trying to change course, to their zero COVID policy, because it's been working for them
politically, not to mention their top priority right now is this Communist Party National Congress to be held later this year, it seems at least for
now, they're not going to tolerate this scenario of COVID cases of raging across China as President Xi Jinping is expected to take his term
tournament in office later this year. Steven Jiang, CNN, Beijing.
CHATTERLEY: All right. Coming up, the cost of war, the Ukrainian Finance Minister will join us to discuss the government's response and the scale of
damage to the country's economy. Plus the path to energy independence, how Europe's planning to reduce its reliance on Russian oil and gas all coming
up stay with us.
CHATTERLEY: On top of the human suffering caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the economic cost is mounting too. An estimated 30 percent of the
country's economy is incapacitated currently, while at the same time Ukraine operates and continues to operate on a war footing paying salaries
and fulfilling its payment obligations.
Money is coming in auctions of so called War Bonds have taken place while the United States is donating $1 billion in humanitarian aid. The
International Monetary Fund has approved $1.4 billion in emergency financing, and the EU is sending $500 million worth of military aid too.
Still it's a drop in the ocean compared to an estimated hundreds of billions of dollars in losses that the country may end up facing. Serhii
Marchenko is the Ukrainian Finance Minister and he joins us now. Finance Minister good to have you on the show thank you for your time!
Let's just begin by explaining a third of the country an estimated 30 percent of the country incapacitated. Just give us a sense of what that
SERHII MARCHENKO, UKRAINIAN FINANCE MINISTER: Thank you very much for ability to talk with you with your auditorium. I want to tell you that
despite all war which we see right now our government is still functioning.
MARCHENKO: They assure us all fulfillment our needs and state needs. We paid salaries, pensions and other protected expenditures. You mentioned,
how much we have lost as a country we see is that our previous preliminary estimation is about 30 percent, based on data from a text fixation, but it
could be more - but damaged because war is still continuing in our country and more broader or more correct estimation of our losses, we can tell only
after some period of time.
CHATTERLEY: Yes, I understand it's impossible, nearly impossible to gauge what you're seeing at this moment, I'm sure. Do you have any sense of how
many people in the country are currently reliant on humanitarian aid at the same time?
MARCHENKO: Yes, we have data which we use government support too. We paid $200 dollars for every person who can't live in that territory who lost his
job. Our preliminary estimation is also a little bit around 3 million people who lose a job. And that could be people who - have a position
occupied - position in a business or her own business.
And it's more than 3 million people now is refugee allowed in European country to temporary, and it's also great damage for our economy.
CHATTERLEY: In the short term, as you've said, you're still meeting your commitments, you're trying to pay pensions, you have soldiers to pay.
You're issuing what's called war bonds. But it's very expensive, and it's short term debt. And that means it needs to be paid back quickly. How long
can you continue to do this, to operate like this?
MARCHENKO: You know, for us, the better scenario is to end the war as quickly as possible because it is damaging our economy. It's war, killing
our people, civilians, et cetera. So for us the most possible and good scenario is to end this war as fast as possible, however, we want, and we
want to be able to save our country to protect our people.
That's we calculated our current budget forecasts for around two or three months period of time. And we have also seen our revenues, this why the
only way to, to fulfill this fiscal gap is to borrow so our instrument for bond is one of the instruments another instrument is international
financial organization concessional financial from different countries.
So you mentioned this in your comments. So we received several $3 billion already and negotiated around $6 billion. So and, of course, it's not
enough, it's not enough. So now we are trying to create special vehicle for Ukraine, together with IMF together with Ministry of Finance of Canada -
and to allocate part of - which was allocated for different countries in 2021 for Ukraine specially. So countries like Canada, United Kingdom,
Germany is looking closely as this instrument.
CHATTERLEY: Yes, and at the same time as you're trying to pay wages and salaries and keep the economy together. I know you've said you're committed
to making debt and interest payments in order to keep market access.
Your Economy Ministry has estimated that the cost in its entirety to the economy could be more than $500 billion - $565 billion to be specific.
Minister, is that correct? Could it be that big?
MARCHENKO: It's a - talking about what we're estimating. The estimate is - of possible GDP. And because we expect this year GDP growth more than 3
percent so it's the last of GDP growth. So and also it's about a lot of infrastructure. So we should, recover our infrastructure too.
MARCHENKO: And I think that the true figures would be clear only after the war. But preliminary estimation of our Ministry of Economy is true because
it's also based on different methodologies how to calculate this - they use different ways on how to calculate it. So it could be very two fingers.
CHATTERLEY: Wow! I mean, just so my audience understands your GDP in 2020, according to the World Bank was $155 billion. Just to put it into
perspective of the loss we're talking about. Ukraine's top intelligence chief suggested that Russia's ambitions are to split the country, sort of
the North and the South that Russia will try and create a corridor between Crimea and the Donbas region.
Minister, if we keep the politics out of it, I know that's difficult. What would that mean to the economy? Can Ukraine accept that loss of a country?
Surely it would mean too great a level of devastation for the economy, never mind other losses?
MARCHENKO: You know we will not accept any losses any meters of our countries. So we will fight against any possible scenario which moves us
towards this. So our idea is to safeguard and protect all our - in the borders before to 24th of February.
So and it's not possible even to mention that we can live without some part of our territory because of it's about our economy, it's about our people.
It's about our logistics. Now we our harbor in Odessa region is blocked so we need to find another way how to transfer commodity towards Europe and
And that's why for us it's important to fight against aggressor to the end to the last meter of our territory will be safe and independent.
CHATTERLEY: Minister, President Biden said in Poland over the weekend, that man and he meant Vladimir Putin cannot remain in power. And the White House
has said, and President Biden himself has said they were not pushing for regime change in Russia. Where does the Ukrainian government stand? Do you
believe that Putin should no longer being power in Russia?
MARCHENKO: I don't want to talk about this bloody Putin's regime, because for us, it's important that every Russian citizen suffer. And this
assumption is very important in this particular matter. And our government and our president try to do everything is possible that every Russian
citizen to understand that the way they support their power is wrong way.
So they should think about this, because it's not their country, which is in blood and which shelter. And it's our country, which lost the people,
civilians, children such that's why - and every additional sanctions towards Russia will help us to move this power around and peace conditions
reside within us and people in Russia.
CHATTERLEY: Minister, do you think enough has been done in terms of sanctions to force the Russian government to the negotiating table? There
are talks once again this week. How hopeful are you? And what more would you like to see in terms of sanctions if the answer to that question is no?
MARCHENKO: Of course, it's not enough because a lot of businesses operating in Russia still operate in Russia. They pay taxes. They support Russian
army using this mean, if you mean understand what I mean. And that's fine for us it is important that all possible foreign investor will move on from
Russia and to make their decision is to support bloody aggressor or to support democratic civilian war.
That's why we also have our own this particular scenario - closely cooperating with huge international banks. And we see that right now a lot
of international banks moving from Russia.
MARCHENKO: And they don't want to operate in Russia territory. And also, for example, huge, largest tobacco companies like Philip Morris, British,
American Tobacco, Japan Tobacco International, also looking closer to close the operation in Russia, and not pay taxes in Russia.
CHATTERLEY: You've thrown some business names out there, and we will continue to mention that they continue to operate in Russia, sir. Stay safe
and thank you once again for your time today. We're thinking of you - Serhii Marchenko there Ukrainian Finance Minister thank you.
OK, still to come, the European Union is the biggest consumer of natural gas from Russia now it plans to slash Russian imports. We speak to the EU's
Chief Climate Policy Guru about its plans next, stay with us.
CHATTERLEY: Welcome back! Globalization under pressure once again, the pandemic and trade war have led to 5.3 percent shrinkage in trade in 2020
that according to the World Trade Organization act now Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Zain Asher spoke to the an economist with the World Bank from the
DP World Pavilion at Dubai Expo 2020 who explained why farms are key to boosting trade.
ZAIN ASHER, CNN HOST: So the past few years we've seen a setback, in trade in global trade everything from the COVID-19 pandemic supply chain issues
the U.S. China trade war as well more recently higher oil prices. What can governments around the world do to ensure that their economies become much
more resilient to external shocks?
VICKY CHEMUTAI, ECONOMIST, WORLD BANK: One sort of easy gateway is probably to increase the resilience and adaptability of funds in this global trading
ASHER: And it's important to have a multi-pronged approach with all of this because of course yes, the goal is to increase local trade and investment
but at the same time you also have to think about sustainability and inclusivity as well. How do you do both?
CHEMUTAI: I think there are two ways to look at it. There's a role for the policymakers, there's a role for international organizations, and then
there's a role for the private sector in itself. Now, when you look at the role for the international organizations, in trying to negotiate sort of
this trade and sustainability rules, they need to ramp up and increase the amount of ambition that they currently have.
In todays trading landscape rights when you think about all of the different initiatives, both from the private sector and the public sector?
When you think about carbon mitigation targets by different multinational corporations, or different schemes such as the EU carbon border adjustment
mechanism you see that all consumers are pushing, you know, the government's to act upon the sustainability agenda by putting in place some
of these policies.
And how are farms going to trade? They really need to show that they have low carbon intensities in their production processes. But once you have
that good enforced carbon traceability infrastructure, farms are able to trade much better in a more sustainable way and be able to showcase that
they indeed actually have a carbon competitive advantage.
And there's also the role of work of the developing countries, right? Oftentimes, we always think that the developing countries probably do not
have such a huge role to play. But what we're increasingly seeing, if you look at the growth rates of carbon emissions over the past 10 years, or so,
you'll see that actually the smaller countries are carbonizing at a much faster rate than the developed world.
Adaptation is critical for smaller countries, but so is mitigation and decarburization, because that sort of gives you that good base for a green
growth that creates the good jobs for the future and creates you know competitiveness that is useful for trading in today's trading landscape.
CHATTERLEY: Stay with CNN, we'll be back after this.
CHATTERLEY: A powerful missile strike in the Western City of Lviv over the weekend, the city has not seen the worst of the war, which only made it
more stunning to see people packing the streets not long after, as John Berman reports.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR (voice over): Defiance comes in many sizes, in many shapes in many sounds. And sometimes it's not about being anything other
than just being.
BERMAN (on camera): You're not going to stay inside. Yes, because our child wants to breathe fresh air, we want to breathe fresh air. And we don't want
to spend such a beautiful day inside.
BERMAN (voice over): Even though not 24 hours before the city was a target of a Russian missile attack, you can see the smoke still rising.
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR (on camera): Again, look at those flames. They're just roaring.
BERMAN (on camera): If you're out, walking on the streets enjoying the day. Why?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because I think any person get used to such sounds was trying to get rid of fear and to leave with usual life. I think so. So I'm
here because I believe in my, my army.
BERMAN (voice over): Roman, a street musician is donating half his proceeds to Ukrainian soldiers.
ROMAN, UKRANIAN STREET MUSICIAN: They should see that they cannot defeat our people. We are not scared. I have a friend in Mariupol and he captured
the Russian soldier. And they asked this officer why are you doing such things with our cities? And he answered because you need to be afraid of
the Russian army.
BERMAN (on camera): Why are you wearing wings?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because this is a symbol of unity for Ukraine, freedom and independence.
BERMAN (voice over): Out here on the streets, we're really not far from where these missiles hit. It's about a mile and a half from here, just past
that TV tower you see there in the distance. For many even the majority we spoke with one reason they're relatively unfazed is because they've seen
worse. Elena came here from the devastated Kharkiv.
ELENA: I never thought that I can get used to such things. And when I saw it was far away, the smoke is far away. I wasn't scared. Feeling is
familiar for us because we're coming from Kyiv. And we know how explosions sound.
BERMAN (voice over): --are here from the heart Sumy region, they have survived so much.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Even though there could be explosions, we will go outside because we want to show that we're strong. We are not scared. We
will fight for our land and we will not give any centimeters of land territory to invaders.
BERMAN (on camera): Can you show me your flag?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's her birthday today.
BERMAN (on camera): It's your birthday today.
BERMAN (voice over): Her sixth birthday one she will never forget thankfully not for the bombs but for the Barbie in one more thing. She got
a puppet she told me a puppet that is all hers. Like this day for the Ukrainians that no one can take away.
CHATTERLEY: We're back after this stay with us.
CHATTERLEY: Earlier this month, the European Union announced an ambitious goal ending its reliance on Russian energy imports. The EU is the biggest
consumer of natural gas from Russia just for context the bloc depends on Russia for around 40 percent of its natural gas, nearly 30 percent of its
oil imports, and almost half of its coal imports.
The EU plans to slash imports of Russian gas by two thirds before the end of the year this year, and eliminate its dependency on all Russian energy
imports by 2027. Here to discuss Frans Timmermans. He's the Executive Vice President for the European Green Deal.
Sir always great to have you on the show I know you believe overall that the European Union can do this more quickly. But even if we just talk about
the plans for this year, it's hugely ambitious. And there are plenty of skeptics.
FRANS TIMMERMANS, EU CLIMATE POLICY CHIEF: I can understand that because it's extremely complicated to do what we need to do. But I think we can do
it, I think we can pull it off, we can reduce our gas imports from Russia by two thirds.
The first indication that we're well on the way is the agreement between present from the line and President Biden for 15 BCM, LNG from the United
States. So if we then also quicker in introducing renewable and if we can also do a lot more on biogas, then I think we can we can achieve our goals.
And we need to because we don't want to be sending money to Putin so that he can finance this war.
CHATTERLEY: There are two angles there. There's the investment that you often discuss in renewable, which will foster greater independence more
swiftly, if it can be done. There's also to your point, the reliance on others to provide things like LNG in the United States, as you mentioned,
is stepping up.
Where else is it going to come from particularly if, under your proposals, the hope is to have underground gas storage up to 90 percent capacity by
the first of October this year? Who else can help? Where's it going to come from?
TIMMERMANS: Well, I think we have multiple sources, potentially. Azerbaijan is one of them. Qatar is the other one, we are talking to Saudi Arabia as
well, we'll be talking to Morocco, to Egypt to Algeria, we're going to try and diversify as quickly as we can.
Some of it will come to pipelines, other will be LNG, and we need to also increase our capacity to receive LNG and defrost LNG at our borders, and
Germany, among other countries is working on this. So yes, we've got a lot of things we need to do. But I think the most important thing is that we
quickly reduce our dependence on Russian gas.
CHATTERLEY: And the price, the relative price even compared to last year, how much more is it going to cost to source alternatives from these
countries that you mentioned? Do you have a sense; have you modeled anything because obviously that then impacts the consumer?
TIMMERMANS: Well, I think the best thing we can do for the consumer is to do collective buy in to make sure that we operate on behalf of the whole EU
that will get us the best deal probably in negotiating the best price.
But, you know, we talk about price. And of course, the burden on the shoulders of our citizens is huge now with the energy prices where they
are. But I was just following the news you have brought from Ukraine.
I mean, this burden is incomparable to the horrors that the Ukrainians have to go through standing up rather than standing up for democracy so that we
are being put on under stress is incomparable to the stress being put on.
And I think we should take that responsibility and I think we should also take the responsibility in defending this to our citizens and saying, look,
if we really want to diversify energy resourcing if you really want prices to go down, we have to reduce our dependence on Russian gas. And we have to
move much quicker on renewable because renewable are cheap.
CHATTERLEY: I think the costs are relative to your point, and we have to accept that. You often talk about the political will to do what's required
here. Do you think there's recognition whether it's across European governments?
Whether it's across European citizens that actually Europe is the weak link in efforts to prevent further bloodshed in Ukraine because of the reliance
on Russian energy and the funds that are provided for it?
TIMMERMANS: Well, I don't think we're the weak link. I think what Europe has shown is incredible solidarity with Ukrainian people and also
incredible internal cohesion. I've never seen Europe as united as it is today.
And I've never seen our transatlantic bond stronger in the last two decades, as I've seen it today. So there's a lot we can build on. But I do
believe we have to take the case to our citizen's say, look, the people in Ukraine are suffering.
They're suffering, because they're standing up for the things we believe in for our values for our common future. And we should be able to muster
enough courage to stand up to Putin and to say, OK, even if it's a burden on us, we will do this. But at the end of the day, you know, with
sanctions, you have to make sure the guy you apply them on this suffers more than you yourself.
And that's, that's a very different call for all governments to me. But one thing I'm absolutely convinced of we will go all the way in making sure we
support the Ukrainians as much as we can, to make sure that they can retain their independence, retain their liberty, and regain a peaceful country.
CHATTERLEY: The Russians have suggested what is paid for now by unfriendly nations "Should be paid for in Rubles". The German Economy Minister, I
believe called it blackmail? How would the commission view such payments?
TIMMERMANS: I think the payments will be done as always in international currency. And that will not change.
CHATTERLEY: Do you think we need to campaign at the nation state level, use less energy, turn the lights off, where an extra jumper, simply use less
energy and be more efficient, and actually, that will, will also play a huge role in this as well, at least in the short term?
TIMMERMANS: Well, frankly, I believe many of our citizens are well ahead of us. They're already doing this across the European Union. And we need to
stimulate that I agree with you, we need to stimulate that as much as we can.
But we also need to recognize that not all citizens can do that. We need to pay more attention to the issue of energy poverty, to support people who
are in a precarious position to make sure they don't, you know, suffer in the cold or suffer because they can't heat their homes.
And at the same time, those who can't afford to turn down the temperature should do it or drive a bit less or work a bit more home. It has a huge
impact on our energy consumption. You're one degree less temperature in our homes is 10 BCM less Russian gas.
CHATTERLEY: Yes. And that actually I think how people need to start thinking about it just in terms of behavior on a daily on an hourly basis.
I want to ask you about the comments that were made by President Biden over the weekend, when he said that man, Putin cannot remain in power.
Obviously, it's been walked back by the White House to Biden said he wasn't pushing for regime change, either. How do you view those comments? And
where, again, does the commission stand?
TIMMERMANS: Well, first of all, I was impressed by the feeling that President Biden put in his speech in Poland. And I was impressed by his
show of solidarity with Ukrainian people. And, that I mean, that just testifies how strong the transatlantic bond is.
But of course, we're not about regime change, nowhere, not a rational anywhere else, the only ones who will decide about who rules, Russia is
Russian people. And I hope they make a wise choice, because they're not being ruled very well.
They're being harmed in such a terrible way, by Putin. And I hope they draw the right conclusions from this. But that's not for us to decide. That's
what the Russians themselves decide.
CHATTERLEY: You understand the complexities of this situation better than most you act as a Russian interpreter. I know you were in Ukraine during
the revolution, Maidan Revolution in 2014.
What do you see, given the complexities on the Russian side as well with controlling the media, what is the best way to get through to the Russian
people and help them understand the realities of the situation? Because in some way, I feel like that's also who President Biden was, was trying to
speak to, or message to?
TIMMERMANS: Well, frankly, I believe that the ones I put my whole on the mothers, the mothers who are now seeing that their sons are dying in
Ukraine for something that's as horrible as an invasion of a peaceful country.
They're dying in land that is seen as friendly land as a land that they are very much familiar with, and they feel at home in Ukraine, and their sons,
their husbands, their brothers they're dying there. And the mothers, I think, will not stand for that.
And I think with all the might of the propaganda they have with all the control of the media, they can't keep that information away from the
Russian people. Not long term, not with these numbers.
TIMMERMANS: So I hope that the mothers and you know this is a very tightly controlled society. This is a very strongly controlled society and people
are disappearing to prisons if they if they disagree, or if they even showing you a white sheet of paper and get you arrested.
But they cannot stand up to the mothers of Russia. And I hope they will make their voices heard even more. And I hope this will draw will help
those around Putin to draw the right conclusions and to make sure that they change course.
CHATTERLEY: Always thought provoking, sir great to have you on the show. Frans Timmermans, Executive Vice President for the European Greendale sir
thank you for your time. And that's it for the show. Stay with CNN "Connect the World" with Becky Anderson is up next.