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First Move with Julia Chatterley

Officials: Putin May Declare War on Ukraine on May 9; Germany gets 35 Percent of its Natural Gas from Russia; 106 People Evacuated from Steel Plant to Arrive in Zaporizhzhia Soon; Limited Edition Stoli Vodka Released to Support Ukraine; Evacuees from Mariupol Arrive in Zaporizhzhia. Aired 9- 10a ET

Aired May 03, 2022 - 09:00   ET



JULIA CHATTERLEY, CNN HOST, FIRST MOVE: You're watching CNN. I'm Julia Chatterley in New York and we begin in Ukraine. We are awaiting the arrival

of evacuees from the devastated City of Mariupol. These are civilians that have spent weeks trapped in the basement of the Azovstal steel plant, which

remains under relentless attack by Russian forces.

More than 100 civilians are still sheltering inside that facility.

Meanwhile, the Ukrainian military says it killed five Russian soldiers as they attempted to attack the facility. Now despite the danger Ukrainian

fighters hope to evacuate more civilians as soon as today. Mariupol's Mayor says a convoy with some of the plants evacuees is headed towards Ukraine

held territory more on that just ahead.

Now major shift in the war could be less than a week away. U.S. and other Western officials say Russian President Vladimir Putin may formally declare

war on Ukraine as soon as May 9th. A declaration of war would allow Putin to fully mobilize Russian reserve forces.

May 9th known in Russia as victory day commemorates the Former Soviet Union's defeat of the Nazis back in 1945. And Germany is ready to agree an

embargo on Russian oil that according to the German Finance Minister, it will be a huge step for a country that prior to the war got 35 percent of

its oil and over half of its gas from Russia. Christian Lindner told me Germany would not be blackmailed by the Kremlin into paying for natural gas

in Rubles, and that it's ready to take action.


CHRISTIAN LINDER, GERMAN FINANCE MINISTER: It takes time to reduce the dependency it was a mistake to be dependent in this way. But we are making

progress. In the end we will be completely independent from Russia.


CHATTERLEY: And we've got much more from that exclusive interview coming up later on in the show. Now in the last hour, the Elysee Palace says that

French President Emmanuel Macron has spoken to President Putin. Officials say the call lasted for over two hours. We're awaiting more details on what

specifically was discussed.

Now Nick Payton Walsh joins us from Zaporizhzhia year where he's waiting for those evacuees from Mariupol. Nick, give us the latest. It's a minute

by minute wait, I believe?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and I think those minutes may be smaller and smaller as we await the arrival here.

We're told possibly at some point. In the next hour, we may see those first evacuees from as Azovstal.

Now that has been a point of arrival that's been delayed repeatedly it seems because of their delay at Russian health checkpoints still in Russian

territory. We've seen people arriving here from - which is actually the last Russian control town before they hit a no man's land.

I was told about an hour ago by one UN official here that they thought the predominant part of the convoy from Azovstal had in fact left Russian

territory and they may be very soon to arrive here. The Deputy Prime Minister - has just been giving a press conference behind here where she

says in fact, we're going expecting to see about 106 people emerging from the Azovstal factory arrive behind us here imminently.

Now, there had been a thought by the United Nations and Red Cross that as that convoy moved, it might attract or get extra individuals from the areas

around joining it and using that safe passage to secure their exit from Russian held territory.

Remember where the focus is on these hundreds of people trapped inside Azovstal under intense bombardment that continued last night as Ukraine's

forces there appear to have made a last stand as they're now encircled by Russia and increasingly, finding their numbers reducing civilians are

indeed allowed out.

Of course outside of those Azovstal numbers there are any of 100,000 civilians still trapped in Mariupol possibly seeking the humanitarian

corridor here. And so while we have over the past days, Julia seen slowly people arriving here from - from Mariupol as well.

They've been having their own journey that's lasted a number of days. And so the reason why this Azovstal arrival is so important, as it is many hope

possibly some kind of omen for the days and weeks ahead, if the UN and Red Cross are able to get these Azovstal few out there may establish a

mechanism which would enable thousands more to follow in their footsteps.


WALSH: Urgent, frankly, because of the risk of disease, the current Russian occupation and the intense bombardment of Mariupol. But at this stage, it

seems the journey of those few Azovstal evacuees has been pretty torturous.

They haven't seems been asked to make quite a circuitous route, there have been images of sum seems headed in an easterly direction out of Mariupol.

First, it's unclear, frankly, the route they took. And that's going to be a key question that we'll be asking those who arrive here, but this massively

heavily expected arrival, possibly imminent in the hour ahead Julia.

CHATTERLEY: Hugely anticipated Nick, as you say, and we will come straight back to you if we get that arrival. So we await with you Nick Paton Walsh,

there. Thank you.

Now Russia's invasion of Ukraine is a war in orbit name. Russia refers to the offensive as a special operation. But that could be about to change.

Western officials believe that President Putin may formally declare war on Ukraine next Monday and that's May the ninth.

CNN Correspondent Scott McLean joins us now from the City of Lviv. Scott, great to have you with us I mean, for most of us. It's been war since the

first day of the invasion, explain the significance of what this declaration would mean, that date, of course, May the ninth and what the

implications perhaps could be for the ongoing bombardment in the east?

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Sure. So Julia, of course, May 8th, actually is VE Day Victory in Europe Day, the day when the German surrender

took effect officially ending the war, because of the time difference that surrender actually took effect on May 9th.

So this is a hugely symbolic day for Russia, and back then the Soviet Union in their victory over the Nazis in Germany and so that is why, because the

Russians had sort of framed this invasion of Ukraine as a de-nazification operation.

That is why Western militaries sources think that the Russians are keen to use this for its symbolic value and that President Putin may well announced

something on that day either announced the victory or as you say, perhaps declare war or announced a significant escalation in this special military

operation as the Russians like to call it.

The British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace suggested that perhaps Putin was looking to sort of galvanize support for this war, and maybe sign up some

new reservists, a form of war declaration would also give Putin the chance to institute a formal draft and also call up reservists.

Now, Pope Francis of all people, Julia actually said in an interview with an Italian newspaper that he was told by the Hungarian Prime Minister, who

was told by President Putin that May 9th would mark the end of this operation.

Obviously, Pope Francis is hoping that that's true. He's not real optimistic. But he said that, perhaps that explains the recent troop surge

in the eastern part of the country and the recent escalation in fighting that we have seen there.

Pope Francis also Julia said that he would be happy he is asked if you can go and visit and speak with Putin in Moscow to try to bring some message of

peace, if that's helpful.

CHATTERLEY: Well perhaps, end of operation and start a war, depending on your terminology, as we've seen here, we shall see. Scott, what more are

you learning as well? Because I know you've been investigating the so called filtration process that Russia has been using on certain Ukrainians

to decide where they go and how they go on whether they remain what more can you tell us?

MCLEAN: Yes, so this is the process that according to the Mariupol Mayor is holding up the 100 or so civilians who are headed towards Zaporizhzhia

because they all have to go through this so called filtration process to get out of Russia unhealed territory.

We more commonly hear about this from people in Mariupol, who were pushed either by choice or by the simple fact that they didn't have any better

options into Russian held territory and many into Russia itself. And so I spoke with two people, for instance, a while back who had left Mariupol and

gone into Russia, it was the only option that they had to find some safety.

And they said that they spent two days at a filtration camp as they call it in a town east of Mariupol called - and Russian held territory. It is there

that they were registered formally. They were fingerprinted and photographed there as well.

They said that they were then taken to another checkpoint, another part of this filtration process closer to the border. And that is where it was

really the men that had a big problem. They were questioned, it was very clear that the Russians were looking for any saboteurs or anyone with ties

to extremism, and then they got a similar treatment once they actually entered Russian territory as well.

And we're staying at a state shelter there temporarily that is where they were questioned. The men were made to stripped down they were looking for

any kind of tattoos or markings that might associate them with extremist groups.


MCLEAN: Now, the Ukrainian President frames this filtration process very differently. He says that this is a place where Ukrainians are raped,

tortured or killed. It is very difficult to know for sure, because of course, Julia; we're able to speak to the people who actually made it out

of that filtration process. We don't know what happened to the people who were forced to stay there.

CHATTERLEY: And that's the point, Scott, great work awful to hear, but it's a must that we do. Scott McLean thank you! Now - Brussels, the EU is

expected to finalize a sixth round of sanctions against Russia, including a possible oil embargo. In an exclusive interview German Finance Minister

Christian Lindner told me his country will support an all ban. He said they're ready even as soon as today.


LINDER: Now we are ready. We have prepared ourselves to be less dependent on Russian energy imports. It takes time to reduce the dependency it was a

mistake to be dependent in this way. But we are making progress. We can reduce the imports, starting the - and oil. It will take more time to be

independent from a Russian natural gas imports. But we will continue so in the end, we will be completely independent from Russia.

CHATTERLEY: But just to be clear, are you ready to announce an oil embargo or to agree to an oil embargo this week, as early as this week?

LINDER: Germany stands ready for new sanctions including an oil embargo. But we are negotiating this decision with our European partners; we will

make a decision to gather. And so at the moment Germany stands ready. But we feel responsibility for all our European partners and we will make a

decision together.

CHATTERLEY: Are you saying that there's going to have to be carving outs perhaps for nations like Hungary who need more time?

LINDER: No, I don't want to be part of this speculation. I've wet in international media. Today, I can assure you that Germany is ready to

reduce the oil imports. We know others at the moment, are considering this question carefully. I remember the U.S. Minister of Finance, Janet Yellen,

who would suggest that the Europeans to make their decisions carefully even when it comes to oil. And so we are considering but talking about Germany,

we are ready.

CHATTERLEY: You've moved very quickly. The Economy Minister has said that Germany could end its dependence on Moscow oil within days. And I'm

quoting; does Germany even need a phase in period for an oil embargo? Or could you literally just say no more Russian oil?

LINDER: Yes. We could now clearly say we don't need Russian oil anymore, we have been able to diversify our energy imports. And so Germany don't need

Russian oil imports anymore, but we have to consider the effects on other members of the European Union and we have to take into consideration the

effects on the prices on the world markets. Of course, and so Germany stands very, but we want to make this decision only on our own.


LINDER: More from the German Finance Minister for throughout the show, including how they're paying for Russian gas that decision to provide heavy

weaponry to Ukraine, and what the end game for the war might look like?

OK, for now, let me bring you up to speed with one other top story making headlines around the world. In the United States stunned Americans are

reacting to news that the Supreme Court could soon strike down Roe versus Wade; the 1973 decision that protects abortion rights nationwide. News

outlet POLITICO leaked a Supreme Court draft that would overturn the law a shocking breach of the court secrecy if nothing else.


CHATTERLEY: If this is real, it would be the most consequential abortion decision in decades.

White House correspondent John Harwood joins us now from Washington, John, great to have you with us. It's a 98 page draft, I believe it's still not

been authenticated by CNN.

And of course, it's possible that a justice and its five to four on this could change their mind. But if this stands and is announced, it would

fundamentally change abortion rights, and it would hand it back to states to make a decision how this is handled.

JOHN HARDWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It would Julia and a significant number of states would outlaw abortion, a significant number

have already moved in that direction. Some have trigger laws that would say when if and when the Supreme Court strikes down Roe v. Wade, they have a

law already in place to outlaw abortion.

This up ends, as you indicated a right that's been in existence for 50 years since Roe v. Wade. But it also appends American politics because you

have a narrow majority of the country that opposes an outright abortion ban.

And this is going to shake up the deck for the politics both of 2022 and of 2024. If in fact, this ruling takes place, you can expect, of course,

states that are in favor of abortion rights and are in control by Democratic governors and legislatures.

They will nothing will change there they will codify and, and maintain the legal right to abortion. So it's not as if abortions will not take place.

But it will be more difficult for people in states that, particularly in the South and the Midwest, in the Great Plains that decide to take steps

toward banning abortion, people in those states are going to have to find other outlets, perhaps less safe outlets, more difficult outlets, so

significant impact on the American people and on American politics, Julia.

CHATTERLEY: Yes, profound implications for millions of women across the country now and in the future. But your point about the politics is

interesting. I guess my first question is how does the White House handle this and just month out from the midterm elections, is this something

perhaps that that democratic voters could harness and decide, actually, this is something that they feel strongly enough about to get them to the


HARDWOOD: Yes. And one of the things we do expect to hear from the president by a written statement, perhaps speaking on camera as he's

preparing to travel to Alabama today to visit a facility that manufactures Javelin missiles that the United States is shipping to Ukraine.

But we've been locked into a situation for a number of months where President Biden has very low approval ratings. We've got high inflation

within the United States, as you know, which a big concern to the American people is.

You've got still the lingering effects of COVID. You've got high gas prices, you've got a whole range of difficulties that are weighing down

President Biden's approval ratings and depressing the outlook for Democrats in midterms.

President usually have setbacks in midterms their parties lose a house seat Democrats have very few to lose and maintain control. All of a sudden, this

is an issue that has the potential to galvanize Democrats who've been dispirited by some of the gridlock in Washington, some of the problems that

President Biden has faced, and that could shake up the deck.

It may not completely change the outlook for the November midterms, but it does add a significant element of electricity into that Democratic base

that has the potential to have significant impacts both in the House and Senate races.

CHATTERLEY: And we await that statement from the White House in the interim, John Harwood, great to have you with us. Thank you. OK, straight

ahead, reliance is a reality.

Germany's finance minister tells me the country is dependent on Russian gas, but denies paying it on the Kremlin's terms. And Stoli Vodka wants you

to raise a glass to Ukraine with a limited edition bottle raising money to help support refugees, that's coming up.



CHATTERLEY: Welcome back. Reliance on Russian oil is one thing for Germany. But reliance on Russian gas is a greater challenge. Germany still gets 35

percent of its gas from Russia that was more than 50 percent before the war.

Last week, Poland and Bulgaria had their gas supplies cut off by Russia after refusing to pay in rubles. Well, now Germany is being accused of

allowing its energy companies to engage in backdoor ruble swaps that allow their payment in Euros to be exchanged into rubles.

I ask the German finance minister whether Berlin is paying for Russian gas on Putin's terms now and in the future.

LINDNER: No, we won't. Germany can't be blackmail. We know there is a dependency on natural gas from Russia. It's a reality. We need time to

reduce this dependency.

And it's not only a question of economic consequences, but we have to face that important industries would be forced to stop their production

immediately. So it's a very serious challenge for us to be less dependent on Russia.

But having said this, Germany can't be blackmailed contracts are contracts and all these contracts are based on payments in dollar or euro and so

German contractors should pay in euro and dollar.

This is the situation of the contracts. And we should not change because Putin needs ruble for his war chest.

CHATTERLEY: So to just be clear, you've told German companies German energy companies do not pay or engage in any form of euro to ruble swaps even in

Russian bank accounts. They've been told they can't do that. They must not do that. LINDNER: What Russian banks do on their own is not a matter of the

German government. But our position is very clear or contracts based on payments in euro and dollar and so we should not switch to ruble only

because Putin wants to fund his war chest, that's not in the German interest.

We know we are dependent on this energy imports. It's not a comfortable situation for us; we have to face this situation and to change it as fast

as possible. But we are not willing to be blackmailed and this is what we tell private sectors, private sector companies as well.


CHATTERLEY: So that means there's still a chance that German supplies coming from Russia or a cut off, like Poland like Bulgaria, how high is

that risk in your mind, if you're sticking to the contract terms, as you say?

LINDNER: We make responsible decisions. In my perspective, there is risk. But we feel responsible, even in the perspective of such risk. I don't

think that Putin will stop see a guest supplies for Germany, only because we are paying on the base of contracts in dollar and euro.

But from day to day, we are less dependent on Russian gas imports. And so for every situation we have to face, we are prepared. But we are not

willing to have such situation short term because the economic consequences would be serious.

CHATTERLEY: Can we talk about that, because the economy minister talked about a structural break in the economy, and some estimates, emanating from

German economists have said, up to 230 billion Euros worth of cost over two years to the German economy. Is that reasonable in your mind that extent of

damage? What might it look like?

LINDNER: I have not an assessment, what the precise consequences would be. In my eyes, no one has an exact picture what the consequences would be.

It's not only the economic cost of energy imports stop. I think more worrying are the long term consequences for certain industries in Germany,

a complete stop of production could destroy.

Plants could destroy energies for long term. And my concern is that in such a case, which differs from the pandemic, certain industries would not

return to Germany, there would not be a rebuilding of these structures.

There would be private sector investments in other parts of the world, but special industries in chemistry, energy supply and others; they would

probably leave Germany completely.

And so we have to do everything what we can do to secure the gas supply for the German private sector.

CHATTERLEY: My take away from this conversation the number of times he admitted policy mistakes in the past, and that this overall had been a

lesson for Germany and while for Ukraine, no energy embargo can come soon enough.

Lynda told me that their policy decisions of this magnitude simply take time. He said before this it took his country two decades just opened an

airport in Berlin. Yet today they're revolutionizing their entire energy supply chain in less than one year, interesting. We're back after this stay

with CNN.



CHATTERLEY: Welcome back. We've just learned 106 people evacuated from the Azovstal steel plant will soon be arriving in relative safety. They're due

to arrive in Zaporizhzhia.

That's according to Ukraine's deputy prime minister.

But those evacuees of course the luckiest ones, many more are still trapped in that steel plant under Russian fire for several weeks. Meanwhile,

Russian Western officials believe that Russian President Putin could formally declare war on Ukraine. As soon as May the ninth the day Russia

commemorates its World War Two win against Nazi Germany.

And a physical form of resistance, Stoli Group has launched a limited edition Stoli vodka bottle to raise money for Ukraine. The aim is to raise

$1 million for the world central kitchen and organization helping feed Ukraine's refugees.

And it's not the first time they've chosen to act Stoli Group which owns Stolichnaya vodka, changed the drinks name to just Stoli after Russia

invaded Ukraine.

They founded in Russia, the company moved production to Latvia back in 2000. Stoli quickly condemned Russia's attack saying it has long it has a

long history of fighting the Russian regime.

Joining us now is Damian McKinney, CEO of Stoli group. Damian, great to have you on the show once again, the money the $1 million dollars that you

hoped to raise is vitally important.

But I do think it's bigger than this. It's about doing something in a moment where many of us feel a long way away and unable to do something to


DAMIAN MCKINNEY, CEO, STOLI GROUP: Julia, thank you, nice to see you again. Yes, look, it is about action. It's very easy. I supposed to do quick

fixes. And I don't believe ours was a quick fix at the beginning. We were very clear.

And I said I think the guys at the time this was very personal. The question is what next? And I think you probably I'm not sure if you can see

it. But we have this beautiful bottle here.

And our view was got two different angles on this one. One is and as I was listening to your commentary around the possible declaration of war, the

question is what we are doing to stand by Ukraine.

And more importantly, as well beyond the colors of Ukraine, but also there's this dove, because it is also about really reinforcing that it's

about freedom and peace at the end of the day.

And none of us can accept watching refugees and the sort of humanitarian atrocities that are going on at the moment. So we really want to ensure

that this stays front and center in everybody's mind.

I think there's a second piece of it in this Julia which is, again the great work that when World central kitchen is doing and we as a team came

together. And again the lovely thing is it's very organic from all the team around the world. And said what can we do to further support them, hence

the million dollars.


MCKINNEY: And when you look at the sort of statistics emerging, they are producing over 300,000 meals a day, across; I think it's a like 2400

locations, and using for over 400 different restaurant supply organizations.

So being able to work in partnership with them, to really make a difference on the ground for us, again, is a real sense of, of action. I think there's

a final piece to this entire story is, I really think it's a moment of reflection, I hope for all of us.

The one thing that I give credit to our consumers, they are intelligent, thoughtful people who I'm sure not only watching this, but are clearly

looking at brands. And are saying in every shape or form, you know, I want these to be brands that I can obviously there's a great experience, et


And they're lovely. But can I really trust them. And I think it's more than just how they're produced. It's what the organization stands for. And I

believe and we believe in story that this is a moment where we want to continue to stand tall, and provide the appropriate leadership that says,

let's keep Ukraine very much center of mind. And importantly, continue to drive this sense of peace and freedom around the world.

CHATTERLEY: Yes, representation of peace, we're familiar with World central kitchen on this show. Nate Mook has been on talking about their work.

They're brilliant, and they're incredibly brave.

And some of their workers were injured recently as well. So I can't say more than you have on that our support fully behind them as well. What

about for your Ukrainian employees as well, because as you said, consumers are smart.

They, they recognize a brand, they also want to be invested in something that is providing some support and solidarity, but what Ukrainian workers

as well? How did they view this bottle and the stance?

MCKINNEY: No, that's, I mean, yes, they're very proud of it. It is a beautiful symbol of resistance, as is being referred to. Jokingly, one of

our Ukrainian employees said, you know, this has got to be booted, the worst nightmare to see Stoli with the Ukrainian colors.

But so they feel that very strongly that we're standing for the right, the right cause. I think secondly, from our point of view, we continue to

support them. We've recruited a number of people over the last few weeks.

But this is not just charity; they are extraordinarily capable people from those markets as well. So isn't it wonderful that you could help and have

these amazing people.

And it's not just the employees, what we've been doing is I think I mentioned in the last time we talked of actually putting their they're

moving them to Latvia, and making sure the families who are set up that's going really well.

And I think I mentioned also that, we had one of our team whose mother was very ill, we moved her to Luxembourg, Luxembourg hotel, hotel hospital,

rather, the Luxembourg hospital for free, lent into the challenge as well, and done some amazing work.

And she's now hopefully in recuperation, and all they do, hopefully, it'll be a very positive story.

CHATTERLEY: Fingers crossed. You were also writing to one of your employees who had become a soldier as well. And you were talking to us about your

experiences and the loneliness of that. How's he doing too, because I've often thought about him?

MCKINNEY: Yes, thank you for that. Now, the first thing is, is he's safe and well, but I suppose its two points. One is, you know, I continue to I

wrote to him last night, I spoke to his wife today.

I think the key is that he knows where they're because however much we think things may or may not be improving; those dark hours are still very

much upon them.

And when you make the comment that you did the possible declaration of war, there is still some very dark moments ahead. I think there's a second

casualty in all of this and therefore person we look after, actually is there is the spouses is the partners.

And it was interesting talking to her this morning, because the pressures really telling there as well. They've been separated for quite a long

period of time. She's got a beautiful son, in this particular case. And it's actually making sure she's OK. CHATTERLEY: Yes, our hearts are with

all of them. And, yes, their stories as resonant and relevant as, as those that are fighting to it's all a form of fighting, I think.

When you were on last time as well, we talked about the decisions that you've made with your supply chain, that you'd moved your ethanol purchases

for Slovakia that was costing more money.

The sort of challenge at that represented for some of the Russian farmers and the suppliers and the distributors. I just wanted to hear about more

broadly about that the sort of the business challenges that you've faced and the pricing pressures as well. Because there are there are many spheres

to this beyond the human cost that obviously is very, very close fit for your company and for your people too.


MCKINNEY: Thank you, Julia, look, I think we're all I think everybody is facing inflation and of one kind or another driven by energy et cetera. We

have a particular and we're all facing those and we all have to manage costs as best we can.

I think in particular, however, as I, you know, we looked at very much how could we not just not just deal with the Russia piece, but actually, we had

a lot of employees, as you rightly said to Ukraine, where we closed down factories, the good news is we are reopening them.

So wherever we can, we are reopening the factories, and indeed getting people back to work and getting the system up and running. So, so whatever

we can do to support them to do that, that I think actually has almost become a top priority, because that's important for the sort of self-

esteem, let alone from a sort of market economy perspective.

Beyond that, we'll continue to work with the markets like Slovakia and Poland, et cetera to take up the slack when it comes to production. Beyond

that, we're like I said, ever, he's managing inflation.

But actually, we're feeling very confident now that he sort of adapted to the situation, even more so that Ukraine is coming back online, that we've

got a very good future ahead.

CHATTERLEY: Are you finding workers where you're reopening the factories there because obviously, some of the men are fighting. There's other

responsibilities and people have left. Are you managing to find people to work there and bringing old employees back or hiring new or both?

MCKINNEY: Both, is the short answer. Yes, it's a great look, it's a balancing act. But as the battle sort of moves away, those coil overs you

know, sort of territorial type soldiers are able to double hat and go back to work, so and a lot of women who are leaning in and also working.

So it's - I didn't mean that in a pejorative sense. You know, it's a kind of it's a complete team effort here and is one partner whether a male or a

man or woman is fighting, the man or woman who stayed behind or something else is also leaning in to pick up some of these other tasks, including the

work in the factories.

CHATTERLEY: Damian, great to have you with us. Thank you so much for your insights again, and we'll chat again soon. Damian McKinney, the CEO of

Stoli Group. Thank you so much for that.

Now to a story that we have been following all morning, I do have good news on it. We are seeing the bus arrivals. I'm talking about the evacuees from

the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol.

We have been waiting all morning to see some of these evacuees. We mentioned that the Deputy Prime Minister had suggested that 106 evacuees

were on buses making their way to Zaporizhzhia.

It looks like we are now seeing those buses arriving and that is the shot that you are seeing now. So already people coming off those buses being

welcomed, I'm sure to huge, huge relief after weeks of being stranded in that - steel plant.

We're going to provide all the details obviously the first conversations of simply what those people have been through. But now they have arrived in

Zaporizhzhia to relative safety and a welcome there, much more on this after the break stay with CNN.



JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Stories for weeks now hundreds of civilians hunkering down in the basement of a steel plant inside Mariupol. Well, now

finally, just in recent days, some of them are fleeing to safely safety, arriving just now in Zaporizhzhia, where CNN is on the ground.

CHATTERLEY: Well, CNN's International Security Editor Nick Paton Walsh is there. And I think trying to talk with some folks who have just arrived,

Nick, what are you hearing from them?

WALSH: What you're seeing here guys, what you're seeing here in front of cameras are the first people to emerge from the buses here. Now, you may

actually recognize this lady from the reports that we put out last night.

She emerged on video, in fact, in one of the videos taken of those who were lucky to get out from Mariupol. And has just emerged here was asked, where

she's going to go and said, look, I have nobody here, I don't know where to go now and has been in tears on a couple of occasions.

This is the journey that they will all be making, as they've endured that extraordinary escape from under Azovstal for where she has been for weeks.

And now they have to try and piece their lives back together again, you can see in the exhaustion of her face.

And you can see there just a head the torch around her neck. She's clearly been living in the dark. I asked her just a moment ago, what's it like

being in the sunlight? And she said, look, I must be having some difficulty seeing.

And so these seams are extraordinary because of the conditions people have endured over the past weeks just to get to this very point that in the last

10 minutes, we've seen four, I think buses arrived, possibly five.

And they have emerged talking of what they've seen. And so the issue now for the United Nations and for the Red Cross is to take people from these

buses here, make sure that they are in comfort that they understand the steps ahead of them.

You understand there are about 100 or so individuals who have come off these buses here and will now move towards the tents in this direction.

Now, the importance of this moment for these people is of course, deeply personal because of the time they've spent on the ground and during rush

and bombardments.

And I could see in that lady's bag, she was carrying just the small amounts of medicine, the plastic cup, the toothbrush, the tissue paper that had

been the things she was living off over the past weeks.

And around here too, there are more people emerging from these buses unfortunate crowd of media because Ukraine does want the world to know

exactly what they have endured.

And this is hoped to be the start that there May using this mechanism be yet more people to emerge from Mariupol in the weeks ahead, possibly

thousands. But these scenes are full, fulfilling a lot of expectation hope over the past days.

And a moment I think of final piece for those who've been trapped in Azovstal. For some cases, some two months back to you.

CHATTERLEY: We should always remind Nick that the reason they were taking refuge there was that Russian forces were leveling the city. It was the

only safe place they could find civilians that are deliberate target.

The Russian attacks as they have been so often in this war, Nick Payton Walsh, thanks for bringing us some of their stories. Still ahead another

story we're following a corrections officer is now accused of helping a murder suspect escape a jail in Alabama.

The last video of the two and why officials are now warning the public, that's coming up.



CHATTERLEY: Welcome back. I want to take you straight back out to Zaporizhzhia where Nick Paton Walsh is standing by. Nick we were just

hearing from you before the break some emotional scenes there. Just talk us through what you're seeing right now.

WALSH: Where you can see the unbridled joy of a family being reunited after weeks, possibly months apart. What is slightly off camera here the head you

can see the woolly hat of a six month old child boy - we know his name because he appeared on video of the first evacuees emerging from the

Azovstal steel plant now.

And there are, as you can see the large number of journalists and aid workers trying to move his mother and him away. It's unclear who they were

just reunited with but clearly emotional scenes there.

One of a number playing out as people come off these buses and speak of in some cases feeling for the not the first but for a rare time in the past

month sunlight on their face.

We've seen a woman in her 70s emerge and carrying a plastic bag of what she'd emerged from as Azovstal in her hands medicine, paper cups, tissue

paper, and clearly in tears deeply emotional.

She now begins to wonder what the next part of her journey is. They've endured the intense fear of getting out of Azovstal crawling up the rubble

into the daylight. And now two days on these buses, five buses in total that have taken them out of Russia unhealed territory all the way through

to here Zaporizhzhia Ukrainian held territory.

And so we're going to move back in this direction to show you that the tents in which they're headed over here, evacuation Welcome Center for so

many. We believe there are 100 people on these buses from Azovstal.

And the significance here is that these are the first evacuations from that plant and using a mechanism engineered by the United Nations and Red Cross

it has taken a lot longer than many had hoped would be the case.

But the hope is that it can be reused again and again to get some of the thousands of people as many as 100,000 people trapped inside Mariupol under

Russian occupation bombardments and the imminent and escalating spread of disease.

But if you just pan in this direction over here you can see this large number of people coming out now. They will be carrying with them stories of

months spent in pitch black in basements under the intensely fortified Azovstal steel plants, basement areas and other family coming just to our

side here carrying a cat in their case.


WALSH: --you can see those two rays' thumbs. This is where everybody of course has dreamed of being for the past weeks. And now as we saw in the

face of one of the elderly ladies we were talking to just now this sense of - not quite fear but bewilderment because she said she was asked where

you're going to go.

She said I don't know anybody here; I don't anyone to talk to you next. And so while there's been great fear and panic in those dark quarters at

Azovstal steel plant now there's of course a new rebuilding of their lives that people here are going to have to do slowly.

But Ukrainian government have set up a tent buses to look after them to help them begin this new part of the journey slowly. And one by one,

they're coming off the buses here, bringing stories of quite horrifying period of time spent on the ground, the intense persistent bombardment from

Russian forces, back to you.

CHATTERLEY: Thanks, Nick, the overwhelming resilience of these people on display there and particularly the children we will be back with you

shortly. For now, that's it for the show. Stay safe. "Connect the World" is up next stay with CNN.