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Inside Politics

Deputy Mayor: Hostage Situation Underway At Mariupol Hospital; Kyiv Sets 35-Hour Curfew As Russians Close In On Capital; Three Prime Ministers Go Into War Zone For Zelenskyy Meeting; Biden, NATO Allies May Hold In-Person Meeting To Discuss Invasion; Blinken Announces Sections On 11 Russian Military Leaders; Woman Found After Crashing Russian Newscast With No-War Sign; Ukrainian Civilians Maintain Effort To Resist Russian Advance; Surrogate-Born Babies Stranded By War In Ukraine; U.S. Cable Suggests China Open To Helping Russia. Aired 12- 12:30p ET

Aired March 15, 2022 - 12:00   ET



BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN HOST: And CNN breaking news coverage of the war in Ukraine continues. Inside Politics with John King starts right now.

JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Hello everybody, welcome to Inside Politics. I'm John King in Washington. Thank you for sharing your day with us. Just minutes ago, Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy directly addressing Canada's parliament. His question, how much more death does the West need to see, before it does more to stop Vladimir Putin war plans?


PRES. VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINE: My please, stop the bombing. How many more those missiles have to fall on our cities, until you make this happen?


KING: Also today, a high wire diplomatic trip in the middle of that hot zone, dramatic new restrictions also in Ukraine's capital. In Kyiv, a 35-hour curfew starts soon. The mayor closing the streets after a predawn barrage lit the city on fire. Around the capital, you see pictures of pure destruction, debris, cluttered sidewalks, charred walls, all that's left of home after home after home.

At least four currently reported dead, fighting in and around the city is constant. This, look at Ukrainian pushback, artillery, targeting Russian tanks borrowed in the woods outside of Kyiv to the east. In Kharkiv, 65 strikes just on Monday. Every moment outside it seems is a life-or-death risk.

That right there that boom. That's the sound of a Russian airstrike, interrupting urgent rescues. Ukraine's President, since the horrible toll now includes 97 dead children. Also, this our three, European leaders putting their lives at risk, crossing into range of Russian attacks. Right now, the prime ministers of the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovenia are on a train, headed toward Kyiv to meet with Ukraine's president.

Let's begin our coverage in Ukraine, and in Lviv with CNN's Scott McLean. Scott, what's the latest?

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: John, there's a curfew in Kyiv that's going into effect tonight. It'll go all the way through tomorrow and won't lift until Thursday morning. And it's easy to see why the mayor has put that in place because Kyiv is a dangerous city right now. Even just this morning, there were airstrikes or there was a terribly fire that hit a home, just south in the southern suburb of Kyiv.

And then not long after, there was an apartment building, just a stone's throw really from the central part of Kyiv. The bottom five floors of a 10-story apartment building caught fire. And then later on a 16-storey apartment building in a western suburb also was hit by artillery fire, and the flames raced up and down that building.

That curfew is in effect now, but it is difficult for people to imagine that people would feel safe even inside their own homes, considering that it appears that the Russians given their inability so far to really penetrate into the city.

Our content to log explosives inside of the city and many of those as we saw are hitting these residential neighborhoods. The mayor of Kyiv, Vitali Klitschko visited that western suburb. (Inaudible) and he recorded this video. Watch.


MAYOR VITALI KLITSCHKO, KYIV, UKRAINE: We will be defending our city. It's our homes. We don't have - we never seem to leave. It's our homes. We defend our children, family, our buildings, our city and our future, future of Ukraine.


MCLEAN: And John, you mentioned, as well those three prime ministers from Poland, Slovenia and the Czech Republic traveling into Kyiv. It is not clear their exact whereabouts, were only told that they left before nine o'clock this morning from Poland on a train into Kyiv. Those trains these days do not go very fast, maybe a maximum of 50 miles per hour in the more dangerous or in the less dangerous parts of the country and even slower than that in the more dangerous areas.

So, they're going to be meeting with the president there. The Ukrainian prime minister, unveiling a new package of aid for Ukraine. The difficulty though is that of course, because this curfew is going to be in place, the Polish government has told us that their plans were to be in and out the same day. But with a curfew in place, they said, of course, those plans can change at any time.

And if you're wondering why exactly they felt the need to be there in person, the Polish prime minister gave us some idea and what he wrote on Facebook earlier today. He said, it is our duty to be where history is forged because it's not about us, but about the future of our children who deserve to live in a world free from tyranny. John?


KING: Remarkable statement by those three leaders, both in their words and in their bravery. Scott McLean, appreciate you're kicking us off from Lviv. Let's move on to Brussels now. NATO defence ministers are holding an emergency meeting. And NATO's chief this morning, confirms there's talk of adding an emergency NATO leader's summit next week. And the NATO secretary general also warning there was renewed concern about the possibility of a Russian chemical weapons attack inside Ukraine.

CNN's Natasha Bertrand is there at NATO headquarters for us. Natasha, tell us more.

NATASHA BERTRAND, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: That's right. So, Jens Stoltenberg, the chief of NATO would not say directly, whether there will be this extraordinary NATO leader summit next week. But he did say that NATO does have the capability to arrange such a meeting on very short notice. So, kind of hinting there, saying that he could not provide more details. But this would be a very, very high stakes meeting, especially because we saw just earlier this week, Russian missiles flying and landing very, very close to the Polish border, very close to NATO territory.

So, those fears by those eastern flank NATO countries, that this situation can really spiral into control and draw in somehow Poland, any of those other eastern flank countries. They are growing by the day here. And so, what this summit would do essentially is it would bring all these leaders together, and it would allow them to kind of reassess the situation.

What would the consequences be if Russia were to cross that red line and crossed into NATO territory? How are they going to continue to provide weapons into Ukraine to help them fend off this Russian onslaught? And of course, this has been a major topic of discussion as well among NATO member countries, and not amongst each other actually.

It's very interesting. We were told in the course of our reporting, that NATO as a block is not providing those weapons to Ukraine. As the NATO member countries who are trying to find those entry points into Ukraine that will allow them to keep providing those shipments of weapons. Of course, Russia warned earlier this week that those shipments could be targeted. So, it is all kind of up in the air right now how those are going to continue and fast, John?

KING: Natasha Bertrand, live for us in NATO headquarters. Appreciate that important update. Let's move on to the state department. Now here in Washington, and CNN's Kylie Atwood. Kylie, the secretary of state announcing just moments ago, some brand-new sanctions on Russian officials. What are they? Who's targeted?

KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Some significant new sanctions rolled out by the Biden administration today. Going after 11 Russian military leaders, the secretary of state saying that Russia has been intensifying their crackdown on the freedom of voice on dissent within Russia and outside of Russia.

And saying that some of these Russian military leaders have been involved in going after the protesters that we have seen in Russia, those anti-war protesters, and also going after dissent in the occupied areas of Ukraine, with those Ukrainians trying to push back against this Russian invasion.

Now the head of the National Guard in Russia was one of these military leaders who was sanctioned today. We also saw treasury roll out new sanctions on Belarusian officials, including President Lukashenko, new sanctions on him and his wife. And significantly today, we're also hearing more from the U.S. ambassador to NATO.

And with regard to this question, of the possibility of new confrontation, the possibility of direct confrontation between NATO and Russia. She was asked about what exactly would trigger that? And she said that any country in NATO has the right to trigger Article Five, if they feel that they have been attacked. You didn't say exactly what being attacked men. But making it very clear, that if any country feels that they need to trigger Article Five, there will be the full force of NATO standing behind them. John?

KING: Kylie Atwood, live at the state department with new details. Kylie, thanks so much. Up next for us, some brand-new details. On that Russian television entities, you see here right there, brave enough to hold up an anti-war sign on live television.




KING: Some new Russian retaliation this morning, in the form of sanctions against the president of the United States. A Kremlin statement says, Russia will now impose penalties on top U.S. government officials. The list from the Kremlin includes the president, the secretary of state, the defence secretary and the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff.

That Russian state TV employee who was briefly missing after protesting their live newscast has been found. Marina Ovsyannikova, appeared in court in Moscow today. One of her attorneys posting this photo on Telegraph. She was arrested after crashing a live TV newscast to protest Putin's war. Her sign read, no war in English. And in Russian read, don't believe the propaganda. They are lying to you here.

CNN's Nic Robertson, following this story for us and joins us now. Nic, a remarkable, remarkable public move here. And now comes the court process.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: It does. And interestingly here, the courts and let's just say the Kremlin appearing to take the opportunity of lesser charges, accusing her of organizing an illegal protest, which is actually in reference to what she said in a social media message. Where she said that President Putin was responsible for the war that her parents, father, Ukrainian mother, Russian didn't have issues and she didn't believe in the war and said that it's a crime.

But at the end of that message, she said that other people should go out and protest. She said, they can't arrest us all. Of course, it is illegal to protest in Russia. And it's illegal to organize a protest. So, these charges that she has been charged with now seem like lesser charges because she could potentially face up to 10 years in jail. If they charged her with spreading false information about Russia's military. It does seem to be an effort at the moment to get this out of the headlines off the TV screens and get it minimized as much as possible, John?


KING: It's a markable moment, Nic, because it is not alone in the sense that you had another presenter for well known a Russian national TV outlet resigned, and she says, she has left the country. You mentioned the Kremlin, perhaps trying to push this to the side could be the - Kremlin trying to keep this from blossoming right into something bigger by minimizing it and try to make you look somewhere else.

ROBERTSON: Absolutely, you know, paper over the cracks in their propaganda wall, if you like, because these stations Russia, one, where the protests went out live on air and TV, the third rated station in Russia state station, of course, because that's about all that's left on the airwaves in Russia. The broadcaster there, the anchor who'd been with the station for over a decade, leaving the country.

We don't know the full details behind that. But she said that, she was worried she wasn't going to be allowed to leave in the process of resigning. So, it does create that impression that all is not well in the state propaganda shop, if you will. What the Kremlin will seek to do is to push this to one side, but it's going to be interesting over the coming days to see if there are more people acting like this.

And I have to say from being in Russia, just a week and a half ago, talking to people on the streets there, hearing their opinions. I would say that a quarter, at least of the population, at least, do not support the war. And I think in the broadcast media in Russia, despite it being a propaganda arm of the government, there are a lot of people who went in that, you know, for many, many years ago, before they got turned into real propaganda wings for the government went in with better if you will journalistic instincts.

So, I think it's reasonable to assume there are a good number of people in these stations who oppose the war. But will they come out, that's an entirely different question, John?

KING: It is fascinating question. Grateful for your help, reporting it out. Nic, we'll stay in touch as we watch whether Putin can keep control in the day said. Nic Robertson, thanks so much for that important reporting. And remember those Ukrainian soldiers, who told the Russians exactly where to go.

Well, the Ukrainian postal service you see right there, now honoring those Ukrainian Snake Island soldiers with some new stamps. The stamps were created by an artist who lives in Lviv, and they show a defiant Ukrainian soldier. See it right there, giving the finger to a Russian warship.




KING: Just two hours now from the start of a citywide 35-hour curfew in Kyiv, that after more shelling of civilian areas. Residents will not be allowed to leave their homes except to go to bomb shelters. Some drone footage obtained by CNN. You see it here shows homes and villages rubble everywhere, things destroyed in the Ukrainian city of Okhtyrka. 65 strikes hitting the city of Kharkiv on Monday, that according to Ukrainian officials. Kharkiv's mayor, said 600 residential buildings in his city have been destroyed.

CNN's Ivan Watson, traveled to a city outside Vinnytsia, and saw the homemade weapons made by civilians there.


IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is a village outside of the city of Vinnytsia. And we're getting a sense during our visit here of how the local population has been mobilized by Russia's invasion of Ukraine. So, all of this has been erected in the last two weeks and it's all homemade. Just kind of concrete blocks, spare tires, sandbags, you know, just kind of metal rebar that's been kind of welded together, netting here that locals have sewed here and we're going to spin around.

And you can get a sense of what the guys who are volunteering here, they have their Molotov cocktails at the ready. And this is entirely a voluntary effort. I've been speaking with some of the guards here. One of them is a fire man. One of them is a retired police officer. Another one is an electrician. All an example of how the local population has mobilized here.

A local official I talk to, he estimates that about 20 percent of a population of more than 12,000 people in these villages have gone into the Ukrainian army, have gone into the Ukrainian territorial defense, he estimates maybe 10 percent have fled. And the rest, he says are very active in the volunteer effort, in the war effort.

That means people who help out with humanitarian assistance that's being brought in from Europe and that is collected here and that is then loaded into other trucks and shipped back out to frontline cities where people are in such tremendous need right now.

(END VIDEOTAPE) KING: Ivan Watson, we thank you for that. This is the western city of Lviv, hundreds gathering to mourn the death of four Ukrainian soldiers. Some of those soldiers dying in Sunday's attack at a military base in the Lviv region. 20 babies, look at them right there. 20 babies stranded at a nursery in Kyiv, waiting for their parents who used Ukrainian surrogates to somehow come pick them up. The parents come from all over the world. On Monday, a missile struck about 500 yards from that nursery.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When these babies can't be abandoned, they're defenseless. They also need care. And we really hope that the parents will come and pick them up soon.


KING: An Argentine couple collected their child the day before, but a combination of the pandemic and now war has meant that some have been stuck here for months. And amid all this sadness, here's one sign of hope. Naples, Italy, two Ukrainian children welcome at their new school. The two children and their mother were brought to Italy by their grandmother, who has been living in Italy for 20 years.

A U.S. cable suggests China is now open to helping Russia with its military needs or financially. While it's not clear whether the aid would be directly for the war in Ukraine. U.S. officials say China would face consequences if it helps Russia in any way at this moment.

With me now to share his important insights, the former director of communications for the U.S. National Intelligence, and CNN national security analyst Shawn Turner. Shawn, grateful for your time on this day. So, Jake Sullivan, the U.S. National Security Adviser, sits across from his Chinese counterpart yesterday for hours is described as a very tense meeting.

The White House says Jake Sullivan made clear, it wants China to back off, the back off and not help in any way. China's already helping. It recycles Russian propaganda. It has not helped the United States at the United Nations in trying to get that the Security Council on record against Russia. But where would the line be in terms of escalating this from normal Chinese behavior, which meaning it never cooperates with the West to something offensive?

SHAWN TURNER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Yes, John. Well, I think Jake Sullivan's emphatic message that if China decides to help Russia, that there will be consequences. You know, I think it's easy to say, but it is a complicated issue. Look, one of the things that we know is that the U.S. and Chinese economies are interconnected. And what that means is that if the United States were to make a decision to impose sanctions on China, well, those sanctions are also going to have implications here, the United States.

So, I think there's a lot that the United States still has to think through there. But with regard to where that line is? Like, as you pointed out, China has already been complicit in elevating and repeating and amplifying Russian disinformation. And I think that that's something they probably will continue to do. But I think it's unlikely that China is going to assess that the benefits of supporting Russia economically or militarily outweigh the cost.

And to be really clear, those costs are not just about the economy, or about military support. There's also a reputational cost to China. And so, I think that, you know, as we know that China is unlikely to do anything that's not in their own interest.

And so, when China sits down and really thinks about this, I think that we may be looking at the propaganda, we may, in fact, be looking at some support with regard to food. But I think when we talk about military support, or we talk about economic support, it's just unlikely that in the end, China's going to make a decision to do that. There's just that the cost is just too high.

KING: Right. And so, because the costs are high, and because China obviously is such a dominant player on the global stage, we look for every word. This is from CNN reporting. On their side, their readout of the meeting, yesterday, China's top diplomat, said Beijing regrets the war in Ukraine. And then you go on to read the story.

China always calls for respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity and continues to abide by the United Nations Charter. That is what they told Jake Sullivan, but Shawn, that's just simply not true. In the case sensitive China always calls for respecting sovereignty and territorial integrity than China would condemn Russia's invasion of a sovereign nation, would it not?

TURNER: It absolutely would. And I think this is just more of China's use of the information environment. China recognizes that there is consumption that that they need for the Russians, they recognize this consumption for the United States. But look, we also know that what China is interested in with regard to Taiwan. So, China is playing the information game here. And we just have to take everything they say with a grain of salt.

KING: Shawn Turner, grateful for your important insights. We'll watch, obviously, the Chinese in the weeks ahead as well as everything else. And ahead for us some brand-new satellite images, show damage in Mariupol and outside of Kyiv. We'll break down the military strategy as more explosions and attacks takes place across. Ukraine plus, humanitarian crisis continues to get worse. The count now over 3 million refugees, fleeing Ukraine since Putin's invasion began. We're live on the ground at a checkpoint, the Ukrainian Poland border next.