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Isa Soares Tonight
President Biden Makes An Unannounced Visit To Kyiv Since Russian Invasion; Massive 6.3 Magnitude Aftershock Hits Southern Turkey Again After More Than A Week Out From The Original Earthquake; Israeli Parliament Debates Judicial Overhaul Amid Protests; Mass Protests As Israeli Parliament Considers Judicial Overhaul; U.N. Security Council Voices "Dismay" Over Israeli Settlements; U.S. President Makes Historic Visit To Kyiv. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired February 20, 2023 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ISA SOARES, HOST, ISA SOARES TONIGHT: A warm welcome to the show, everyone, I'm Isa Soares. Tonight, the U.S. President makes an unannounced
trip to Ukraine, a visit the Ukraine's president says will have repercussions on the battlefield. Then, a massive 6.3 magnitude aftershock
hits Turkey, more than a week out from the original earthquake.
And anger on the streets of Jerusalem. People have been protesting the Israeli government's judicial reform bill, we'll show you the scene inside
the Knesset, it's almost as lively. But first, U.S. has just sent a powerful message of its support to Ukraine in the form of President Joe
Biden himself. He met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv under bright blue skies and the ever-present threat of Russian airstrikes.
Well, as the first anniversary of the war approaches, Mr. Biden says the U.S. wants to make it clear, there is no doubt that will back Ukraine for
the long haul. Well, here's how the visit went.
SOARES (voice-over): Air raid sirens blaring throughout the streets of Kyiv. But unlike other alerts over the past year, there were no reported
incoming Russian missiles.
VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, PRESIDENT, UKRAINE: Good morning, Mr. President --
SOARES: Instead, what was seen was the United States President Joe Biden's visit to the country, a first since Russia launched a full scale invasion
nearly a year ago. Laying wreaths and paying tribute to fallen soldiers, Biden's visit showed the world yet again which side of the battlefield the
U.S. is on. Cementing relations with the war-torn country by announcing half a billion dollars worth of military equipment.
Along with the political and public relations picture of a U.S. President visiting a war zone to harden that relationship.
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Putin thought Ukraine was weak, and the West was divided. As you know, Mr. President, I said to you at the
beginning, he's counting on us not sticking together. He thought he could outlast us. I don't think he's thinking that right now.
SOARES: Biden's assistance means more howitzers, more ammunition for troops, and potentially long-range weapons. For Ukraine, President
Zelenskyy said Biden's visit would inch Ukraine closer to victory, and the generous package would impact the battlefield.
ZELENSKYY (through translator): I know, Mr. President, that there will be a very significant package of security support to Ukraine, and currently,
it will serve as a clear signal that Russia's attempt of re-launch would have no chance.
SOARES: As Biden's convoy pulled up, Kyiv locals were quick to take videos of the historic events unfolding, notably astounded to witness Biden in
real-time. One 75-year-old resident said he was speechless at the visit. And when asked what the visit means to him, he said, it means everything.
"Life, and victory." His words summed up by his wife who said, "victory will be ours." There is no doubt about that.
Biden's trip may have caused momentum to be high, but with the Ukrainian resistance entering its second year, the question of how or when this will
end still remains.
SOARES: Well, let's talk more about the significance of course, of this trip with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's economic adviser,
Alexander Rodnyansky joins me now from Kyiv. Alexander, great to have you on the show. Tell me your view, what does this visit by President Biden
mean to you as Ukrainian and to Ukrainians?
ALEXANDER RODNYANSKY, ECONOMIC ADVISER TO VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY: Well, it's a huge signal to all of us, it's a huge signal that we're not alone in this
war, that we have the support of the U.S. and the whole civilized world. The president himself came to visit, that's a huge contrast of what was
happening last year when the U.S. was encouraging all of their citizens to leave Ukraine around this time. Now, we have the U.S. President actually
So that's a huge difference. It is a huge boost to morale. It's a huge boost to our belief in ourselves, in our strength. So it means a lot to the
people of Ukraine, absolutely, no doubt about that.
SOARES: And you talked about morale, I'm guessing morale boost as well for those on the battlefield?
RODNYANSKY: Absolutely, and that's one of the effects. So, you could say, you know, what is the -- what did our president allude to when he said it's
going to have repercussions. Well, that's one of the indirect effects you talk about that has a -- definitely has a boost to the morale of our
troops. It denigrates the morale of our enemies, no doubt.
And then there's of course, the direct effects of this -- of this trip and this visit. Which is that our leaders have met, there is the assistance
program that has been promised, so we have more weapons coming in, more ammunition, long-range missiles potentially soon, so that has a direct
effect as well on the conduct of the war effort, no doubt.
SOARES: Let's talk Alexander, about that assistance that you just mentioned there. Of course, President Biden not announcing -- not arriving
empty-handed. We're talking about half a billion dollars of additional systems to Ukraine. But you know, no F-16s here. Are you disappointed or do
you think, Alexander, that these will come eventually?
RODNYANSKY: First and foremost, we are grateful for the support that we're getting, and we're getting a lot. This is a war that's primarily being
conducted on land, right? So that's where the main key of the war is, it's not in the air, it's on land. So we need to make sure that we're getting
the tanks that we've been waiting for and asking for desperately.
The Leopard 2 tanks that Germany has promised, and that we are now supposed to be getting soon, our troops are getting trained. All the ammunition that
we possibly need. The artillery, all the other equipment that we need for the land, more of it. Now, the air power would of course be useful, but
hopefully sooner or later, if push comes to shove, and we actually need that, we'll also be getting fighter jets.
SOARES: But this is something that we have heard President Zelenskyy asked time -- you know, time and time again, especially when he was in the U.K.,
he talked about wings, them being wings, wasn't it, freedom? But do -- how likely is this to happen? Do you think you're getting closer to this being
a deliverable here?
RODNYANSKY: I think so. I mean, sooner or later, it's likely. Ultimately, look, everyone is standing behind us. The civilized world is standing
behind us, and we need to understand, all of us, that the sooner we can get the job done, the less costly it's going to be economically, and obviously,
in terms of lives that have cost this war. So, if that's in the interest of everyone, then it's probably better to have these -- all the equipment that
we possibly could use and put to use here in this war, have it already.
SOARES: Let's talk about what we might see from President Putin. Do you think that this alliance, and indeed this visit by President Biden,
Alexander, do you think this will rattle President Putin? I know he's due to speak tomorrow. Is Ukraine expecting any sort of provocative actions
around the anniversary?
RODNYANSKY: Most evidently. I mean, we know how the Russian leader behaves, we know how the Russian state behaves and how their politics is
run. Russia is a revolutionary(ph) state, it's a terrorist state as we have seen this year throughout the last year. And so, there's no doubt that he's
going to have to respond somehow. We expect that he's going to be more belligerent, he's going to rattle obviously his troops, he's going to say
that, you know, things are going according to plan, even though they're not.
They're running up terrible, horrible, horrendous losses, and they're not really getting anywhere. So he's going to be more obviously more
belligerent, but also more desperate. I think because he's running out of tools in terms of what he actually has, you know, at his disposal. Russian
army doesn't really have much more to offer, and so, that's exactly where we are at this point.
SOARES: Alexander Rodnyansky, really appreciate you taking the time to speak to us, Alexander, thank you.
RODNYANSKY: Thank you.
SOARES: Well, some pro-Russian military bloggers are hitting out at the Kremlin, saying U.S. President Joe Biden's surprise appearance in Kyiv
humiliates Russia. Others, meanwhile, are dismissing Biden's trip as staged and a sham. It comes as Biden earlier warned of imminent new sanctions
coming against Moscow. CNN's senior international correspondent Fred Pleitgen --
Excuse me, is joining me now from Moscow. So, Fred, give us a sense of the reaction from President Putin or from the Kremlin to the surprise visit by
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, well, it was quite interesting here today, Isa, because on the one hand, this
obviously, this news of President Biden being in Kyiv was everywhere on Russian state-run Kremlin-controlled media. They talked about it the entire
day, what exactly it means, why it was able to happen?
And you've already outlined some of the responses that we heard from those really hard-line Russian military bloggers. You know, they've become quite
prominent since this war started, and as this war has progressed, saying, look, it's a sign of weakness that he was even able to go there. It shows
that the Russian military definitely does not control what goes on in Kyiv.
There were others who were essentially saying that because the United States had contacted the Russians beforehand, to make sure that there's no
misunderstandings or miscalculations, as the U.S. put it, that, that essentially showed that President Biden was in Kyiv at the mercy of
Vladimir Putin. And that essentially, Vladimir Putin had allowed him to go there.
Nevertheless, of course, it is a huge event here in Russia. However, we've not heard anything yet from Vladimir Putin and from the Kremlin.
And it seems as though, the reason for that could be what you were just outlining with the guest before, is that Vladimir Putin, in just a couple
of hours, is set to give that very fundamental speech that, you know, I've been speaking to politicians here in Russia, analysts as well, who say they
-- this is something that they definitely think could not necessarily change the course of the war, but certainly, define it at least, for the
next couple of months.
So it's a very important one that maybe they didn't want to get ahead of that and comment before that. But certainly, huge news, the fact that
President Biden was there in Ukraine, and obviously something that showed Russian politics, Russian politicians, that the U.S. definitely means
business when it comes to support of Ukraine. Isa.
SOARES: And Fred, do you think that this visit by President Biden's playing into the Kremlin's narrative that you and I have discussed on
numerous occasions, this -- that this war or what they call the military operation is about us versus them, versus the West. Do you think we'll hear
more of that narrative tomorrow?
PLEITGEN: Yes, I think absolutely. I think certainly something that we are going to hear a lot of, and you're absolutely right, it's something that
the Russians have been putting out there, and sort of trying to play ever since things have been going not-so-good on the battlefield for them.
They've been saying, look, this is not essentially a war of Russia versus Ukraine -- they obviously still call this a special military operation,
even though even Vladimir Putin has used the word "war" in the past.
They're saying It's not between Ukraine and Russia, it's essentially between Russia and the West, Russia and NATO, Russia and specifically the
United States. Obviously, pertaining to the fact that there's so many western weapons that are coming into Ukraine now, that certainly is
something where if you look at Kremlin-controlled media, they will say that this is essentially a clash between Russia and the West.
And certainly, we do believe that we are going to hear more of that from Vladimir Putin, but then we'll see what exactly there is in substance in
that speech, whether or not there's anything new and as far as strategy is concerned. But one thing that I think is clear, Isa, from what we've seen,
since I've gotten here, back to Moscow, is that the Russians certainly showing no signs of backing down.
Vladimir Putin shows absolutely no signs of backing down. In fact, it seems as though, if anything, he is willing to go on for a very long time, Isa.
SOARES: Thanks very much, Fred Pleitgen for us there in Moscow. Our CNN international diplomatic editor Nic Robertson is with me now. And what -- I
don't know if you just heard what Fred was saying that President Putin doesn't show any signs of backing down. Given that, what he just outlined,
how important and vital was this visit, risky too, by President Biden there?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, it's hugely important for him, for President Zelenskyy, for President Putin as well --
look at some of the reaction from Ukrainian -- from like troops, they're grateful for President Biden, he took a risk going there, they're taking a
risk in the frontlines, the risks, orders of magnitude different. But it sends a very strong message to Ukraine's allies and partners, United States
allies and partners, looks to support it.
This is not an easy war to fight. Supplying the right equipment, getting Ukrainian troops trained up, and putting it all in the right place at the
right time is not easy. It's a very big diplomatic lift. So any part of that lift, like President Biden going is significant.
SOARES: And something that we have heard on this show, and you no doubt would have heard, Nic, is, you know, there are concerns in Ukraine that,
that support from the West, from its allies, may be waning. There is no stamina, perhaps, if this war drags on, given, of course, the challenges
that domestically, countries are facing. Do you think that silence is this? This visit silence this?
ROBERTSON: No, it doesn't, but it gives more breathing room. Look, President Zelenskyy is hugely aware of this. What did he say in Munich in
his speech on Friday? I hope to be with you next year because we'd have won by next year. What did he say when he was sitting next to President Biden?
Twenty-twenty three will be -- will be the year of victory. What did he say when he was standing next to President Biden again today?
He said they hope to win this year. The message is, this war isn't going to last forever. His message was as well that Russia should help pay for it.
This gets at some of the fundamental things that can weaken public support for all those political leaders that are backing Ukraine. That is their
publics are worried about how long it's going to go on --
SOARES: Yes --
ROBERTSON: Where is the end? And how much is this going to cost us? And the other thing that President Zelenskyy addressed today, and this is a
message that came with President Biden as well, Zelenskyy addressed Congress. There were 60 bipartisan members of Congress at the Munich
Security Conference this past weekend. That is the biggest number ever.
There were two Republican senators speaking there. Everyone, Republicans and Democrats, saying we are united bipartisan support to continue with
this. So this gets to that underlying thing of how long can we support it?
SOARES: Yes --
ROBERTSON: The strength of unity, cross-political public et cetera, remains there. But there is a timeline. And that's Zelenskyy's thrust. And
that gets --
SOARES: Of course --
ROBERTSON: The -- get the weapons now.
SOARES: Especially with elections around the corner. And there was some voice within the Republican Party who were very much against this visit.
But we heard from President Zelenskyy that he hopes that this will be end - - will be -- will be over by the end of the year. You've been in and out of Ukraine numerous times. Given what we have seen in the frontlines, and you
know, particularly in Bakhmut, in the eastern part of Ukraine, that hasn't moved at all. How do you see this playing out, Nic?
ROBERTSON: It's difficult. Ukraine wants these longer-range weapons systems --
SOARES: Yes --
ROBERTSON: These longer-range missiles. Crimea is not just a political necessity for President Zelenskyy to take back, it's part of the sovereign
territory of Ukraine, but there's a military necessity --
SOARES: Yes --
ROBERTSON: To take it back, because this is where Russia has a lot of military equipment stored that's feeding into the fight in Ukraine. If --
and this is what some of the ambitious generals who were there, former generals who were there in Munich at the weekend were telling me. If they
get those long-range missiles, if they get the tanks in their hands, which are going to be there on the ground as early as March, they're going to
need more, it's slow-coming.
Then there's a realistic possibility of breaking through lines, trying to take the land bridge that holds Crimea close to Russia --
SOARES: Wow --
ROBERTSON: Cutting it off -- and one of the points that was made by a very formerly senior U.S. General, was look, when you punch through lines like
that, you put fear into the enemy. This is what the coalition behind Ukraine and Ukraine's generals are counting on. We can't count them out.
This has a long way to go, and they are on the way to getting what they need to do it.
SOARES: And we'll hear Putin's message, Putin's version of events of the war, tomorrow. Nic Robertson, appreciate it, thanks very much. Still to
come tonight, protest as far as the eye can see. We'll tell you what's behind this extraordinary scene in east Jerusalem. And Turkey and Syria are
hit again, powerful aftershocks rocks the region two weeks after the initial devastating earthquake. We are live in Adana next.
SOARES: Well, just in the last few hours, a powerful earthquake hit southern Turkey, with a reported magnitude of 6.3. It was felt in Syria,
Egypt, as well as in Lebanon. And we're already seeing reports of damaged buildings collapsing. It comes, of course, two weeks after the area along
the border between Turkey and Syria was devastated by a magnitude 7.8 earthquake.
That quake killed more than 47,000 people. On Sunday, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken tours some of the devastation. Our Nada Bashir is
there in southern Turkey for us. So, Nada, just bring us up-to-date on this latest aftershock, and impact this has had. What are you hearing from
authorities on the ground?
NADA BASHIR, CNN REPORTER: Well, look, Isa, we're still waiting for further details from the authorities at this stage. Turkey's disaster and
emergency agency reporting that 6.4 magnitude aftershock, the epicenter reported to be in the district of Defne and Hatay, one of the provinces
hardest hit by the previous earthquake in Turkey.
And you can imagine the distress and shock that people here in southeast Turkey are going through, having to relive that trauma once again. And
we're in the city of Adana, which is about 120 miles away from that epicenter. And I have to say, our team felt that tremor, as did everyone in
the hotel that we're currently staying in, which was evacuated pretty swiftly.
But I have to say people here are still afraid to go inside, fearing another aftershock. We've seen families taking their duvets and bed covers
out into the hallway, into the lobby with their children, waiting there for fear of another aftershock. And there is a real sense of concern and
urgency here, we've heard from local authorities in Hatay Province, calling on people not to enter any buildings that have been damaged.
We've already seen reports that some of the buildings previously damaged in the earthquake two weeks ago have now collapsed. And there is further
reports of collapsed buildings in northern Syria as well. But as I said, we are still waiting for more details of the extent of the damage caused by
this latest aftershock. But you can imagine the fear, the shock that people are feeling at this stage.
The authorities calling for calm, but our own colleague, Jomana Karadsheh is in the southeast, heading towards Defne, her team reporting that they've
seen emergency services on the streets, search and rescue teams appearing to be gearing up just in case. Now, of course, the people of southeast
Turkey have already been through so much, already have lost so much, particularly in Hatay Province, one of the hardest-hit provinces by the
earthquake two weeks ago.
Some 80 percent of buildings there have been deemed damaged or in need of reconstruction. So there is a real sense of concern. Of course, and you can
imagine the emotional trauma people have gone through. We've already seen families being evacuated out of the southeast. And in fact, last week, we
were in Istanbul, we met with some of those families who have been evacuated as well as children, some of whom have been separated from their
families, still missing, others have lost absolutely everyone. Take a look.
BASHIR (voice-over): Their laughter hides their loss. Pulled from the rubble, their parents still missing, the identities of some a mystery. This
orphanage has become home to some of Turkey's youngest earthquake survivors. Authorities say the search for living relatives continues. But
some of these children are believed to have lost everyone.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): When we first received these children, we observed signs of post-traumatic stress disorder. The children
were very fragile, so as well as providing shelter and security to these kids. We also began providing psychosocial support.
BASHIR: The devastation wrought by the earthquake has left countless children orphaned or separated from their loved ones. And while authorities
say they have so far managed to reunite more than 900 children with their families, many are still waiting to be processed. And NGOs fear that
millions could be at risk of acute psychological distress.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They already have their loved ones lost. They already have their homes lost. They already have their schools lost, all schools
execs(ph) are gone. But, if they also lose their hopes, that means loss of generation.
BASHIR: That loss is all too familiar to this Syrian family. Three generations, now temporarily hosted in a small one-bed apartment in
Istanbul, their home in Antakya, now a mountain of rubble. Twenty six-year- old Raghad said she was the first to wake when the earthquake struck, pulling her mother and four sisters to safety just moments before their
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When the earthquake happened, I think it's yawm alqiama --
BASHIR: Judgment day.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, there is a really big sound that is not going out from my head. Every time it's here.
BASHIR: You still hear it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
BASHIR: But this is not the first time Raghad and her family have faced a tragedy of this magnitude. Originally, from the Syrian city of Homs, the
constant barrage of airstrikes forced the family to flee their home in 2014. But having her life upended by catastrophe time and time again has
taken its toll on Raghad's mental health.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's not my first time I get alive from a war or something, but every time, I said why? And now I'm asking myself why? Why
am I alive? Maybe it was easy if I am not -- again --
BASHIR: Easier than going through this?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, because it's not my first time that I start from zero.
BASHIR: Yes, starting from zero, for these children, may not be as challenging. It's a catastrophe they are simply too young to understand.
But just like Raghad and her family, their lives have been changed forever by the earthquake.
BASHIR: And look, Isa, as this country begins to rebuild, this will be a long and difficult process ahead. There are still calls for further
international support, and as we've seen, Secretary of State, Antony Blinken visiting the southeast region over the weekend, and today pledging
for the support from the U.S. Governments saying that the U.S. government will stand behind Turkey for as long as it takes. Isa?
SOARES: Important reporting there from Nada Bashir in Adana in Turkey, thanks very much, Nada. Now, Israeli protesters say they're fighting for
the soul of the nation, but their mass demonstrations haven't stopped parliament from beginning debate on proposals that would weaken the
judiciary and strengthen the powers of lawmakers themselves.
Critics say the government's plan will destroy Israeli democracy, liking it to a coup. This was the scene in Jerusalem earlier today, as protesters
gathered ahead of the Knesset's first official reading of the bill. Our Hadas was among the crowd. Have a look at this.
HADAS GOLD, CNN JERUSALEM CORRESPONDENT (on camera): This is the main road that leads not only in front of the Israeli Supreme Court, but also ends in
front of the Israeli parliament, the Knesset. And that's where these thousands of protesters are heading, for these protesters today here, they
believe that these judicial reforms would threaten the independence of the Israeli judiciary.
Some of them believe that it's only to help Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister, in his ongoing corruption trial, something he denies. The
protesters here are chanting things like democracy, they're chanting things like Israel, it will not become a dictatorship. For many of them here, they
have this visceral belief that these reforms are really threatening the Israeli way of life and the Israeli democracy.
But for the counter protesters, and there are counter-protesters here, they support these reforms. The believe that they're very much needed. They
believe that it's a long time coming, and that this is what the Israeli voters voted for in those November elections when Benjamin Netanyahu and
his allies won a 64-seat majority in the Israeli parliament.
But Benjamin Netanyahu is facing external pressures, including from the American ambassador to Israel, who in a recent podcast in recent days
called on the Israeli government to pump the brakes, he said, he said to slow down the legislative process, and allow time for consensus, allow time
SOARES: And Hadas joins me now live from Jerusalem with more. And Hadas, you and I have been discussing these protests for several weeks. I know
this is only the first reading of the bill, but is there any sign that their voices, their protests could be shifting this?
GOLD: Seven weeks, Isa, is how long these protests have been happening on a regular basis. Now, they started really concentrated in Tel Aviv, that's
where we saw some of those huge numbers, 100,000, 130,000. But in recent weeks, they've really moved down towards Jerusalem because the legislative
action is starting, and as you noted today, was the first reading of that bill.
And that's why those protesters wanted to go towards the Israeli parliament. And they believe -- you know, they don't have any belief that,
you know, this one protest will absolutely change anything. But when I talked to the protesters, they believe that a sustained campaign, a
sustained pressure campaign. They want people to be out there in the tens of thousands every week, putting pressure on the government, putting
pressure on Benjamin Netanyahu to not only hopefully push them, but also push public opinion in general against these reforms that they see as so
Now, as I noted, there were counter-protesters there, they are much smaller numbers in terms of counter-protesters, and for many of these protesters,
they say they believe that even for the people who voted for Netanyahu, they didn't necessarily vote for these reforms, and at least, not in the
way that they are being pushed through. But Isa, really, a lot of the action tonight was not just on the streets, but also within the Israeli
Because when this bill was first brought up for a debate, the opposition lawmakers, they started to essentially protest, there were protests on the
floor of parliament, waving Israeli flags, wrapping themselves in Israeli flags. Now, there are rules against raising anything on the parliamentary
floor, but it's very clear the message that they were trying to be -- trying to send by being forcibly removed from the floor by security, while
waving Israeli flags.
They are trying to send a message that they believe that these reforms are essentially destroying Israel as they know it. And not just on the floor,
in the gallery above also, protesters made their way into the viewing gallery. Some of them were actually banging on the glass that they have
there. And they were also removed forcibly by protesters. These actions were condemned, of course, by Benjamin Netanyahu, as well as other actions
by protesters today, were condemned by opposition lawmakers. But I should note that this debate is actually ongoing. And we don't expect the vote,
that first actual vote, to happen until about an hour or so from now.
And keep in mind, Isa, this is the first of three votes that are needed before this could actually come into law. So, there could be several more
weeks of these protesters and several more weeks of these dramatic scenes in the Israeli parliament.
SOARES: Hadas Gold, I know you'll be keeping an eye on this for us. Thanks very much. Well, under pressure from the United States, the U.N. Security
Council has abandoned plans to vote on a resolution demanding an immediate end to Israeli settlement activity on Palestinian land. Instead, the
Council today voiced deep concern and dismay in a non-binding statement that called settlements an impediment to peace. Israeli Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu just responded slamming the statement as, "One sided."
Still to come tonight, a live image here from Warsaw, Poland where President Biden and set to arrive after his trip to Ukraine. We'll hear
from people in Kyiv about what the President's historic visit meant to them. That is next.
SOARES: In tones both hopeful and cautious, Ukrainians are reacting to U.S. President Joe Biden's visit to Kyiv even as air raid sirens welled. Mr.
Biden spent about five hours in Ukrainian capital as the anniversary of the start of Russia's war approaches. Of course, on the streets, some
Ukrainians said they hope he brought some weapons, more weapons, while others said they believe his visit might help quicken the end of the war.
Have a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TARYA, UKRAINIAN CITIZEN: It's good news because world will hear about Ukraine and don't forget that we have a war and we suffer in different --
difficult time here.
ANATOLY, UKRAINIAN CITIZEN (through translator): It is support for us and a message for the Russian that this issue must be resolved, and Ukraine must
win. We hope that this visit will speed up the events. I am in a good mood. This is a sort of prize that shock everyone.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SOARES: I think many -- I think it's fair to say that many were in a good mood. And President Biden's presumably and on his way now to the Polish
capital, Warsaw. And that's where we find our Phil Mattingly. So Phil, we have learned over the course of the last few hours the U.S. informed the
Russians in the hours before the visit. It was a risky, but significant move by the President. Just explain to our viewers around the world. What
went into this and why the President thought he had to visit Ukraine.
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it was an intensive process, and one that was kept extremely close hold, including
into the final days, even after the President had set off for his trip that landed him in Kyiv early this morning. Now, it's interesting to note
several of the President's counterparts, European leaders, even the First Lady, his top cabinet officials, have all made visits into Ukraine. And the
President has told his team for the better part of the last seven or eight months that he wanted to make a visit as well. That visit was considered
like -- unlikely because of the security risks and concerns.
And just for context here, I think it's important, while U.S. presidents have regularly visited war zones over the course of the 20 years of war
with Iraq and Afghanistan, this is the first time a U.S. president in history has visited a warzone of another country where the U.S. did not
control the infrastructure on the ground, did not control the airspace above. And that was what added so much complexity to this. Now, over the
course of the last couple of weeks, the President made clear this is a trip that he wanted to make. A very small team, unlike the usual scale for a
visit like this, was put into place. White House officials, Pentagon officials, Secret Service officials, to pull this all together on Friday
night in a meeting in the Oval Office.
The President gave it the final green light left under the cover of darkness at 4:30 on Sunday morning, traveled first to Germany to refuel
then to Poland, and then on a train into Kyiv. It's a very long trip. And we spent five hours on the ground. But I think as you heard from the
Ukrainian people, and as you consider what the President's going to be trying to do when he comes here to Warsaw, it was critical to send a
message not just to the Ukrainian people, not just to the American people, but really to the entire world about a war that shows no signs of ending
anytime soon, a war that has tested the durability of not just the U.S. support, but the Western alliance has been put together and led by the
U.S., and the necessity of maintaining that durability in the months and perhaps even longer ahead.
SOARES: And I think it's fair to say the majority of people applauded President Biden's visit. But we have already seen, Phil, some criticism
regarding his visit back home from the U.S. I want to show our viewers this tweet from Republican Scott Perry, who sits on the House Foreign Affairs
Committee. He tweeted this, "Breathtaking that President Biden can show up in Ukraine to ensure their border is secure, but can't do the same for
America." How much support is there, Phil, from both sides of the aisle to the war in Ukraine and standing with Ukrainian people?
MATTINGLY: I think it's a great question. And it's one where context here, it's critically important to understand because there are a small number,
very loud voices often on social media, particularly inside the House Republican Conference, that have significant objections to what the United
States has contributed up to this point to Ukraine, to have -- the President, how he's led this Western coalition. And the fact that they see
it as fairly open-ended at this point in time.
Here's the context that's critical here. Neither Scott Perry, nor the vast majority of those who support that position that he laid out on social
media, control the house, control the Senate, control the committees that control the funding, or control the committees that set defense and foreign
policy for the United States of America. And they certainly don't control the White House. I think that's -- when he talked about those officials,
they see it and they are very cognizant of the fact that a shift against the direction that the President has been pursuing policy-wise when it
comes to Ukraine over the course of the last year would be severely problematic.
They don't see it get in terms of its weight, carrying over to those who make the critical decisions. However, when you talk about the various
audiences that the President will be trying to reach, not just with his visit today in Kyiv but also tomorrow in his remarks here on Warsaw, the
American public is definitely one of those audiences because they understand that support is critical across the country politically in order
to maintain the position that they've had it for more than almost a year.
SOARES: Yes. And put in context from our Phil Mattingly in Warsaw in Poland. Thanks very much, Phil.
I want to get the perspective, a military perspective in fact, on Mr. Biden's visit to Kyiv. Joining me now from Washington is CNN military
analyst and retired Air Force Colonel Cedric Leighton, a well-known face here on the show. Cedric, great to have you on the show. Before we talk
military hardware and you confront -- Ukraine frontlines, let me first get your take on President Biden's unprecedented visit to Ukraine. We've seen,
like you heard there from our correspondent, Phil Mattingly, he was talking about, you know, we've seen presidents go into war zones in the past, but
unlike places like Afghanistan, and Iraq, like he said, the U.S. has no control over what's happening in Ukraine.
In terms of safety, how gutsy was this call?
CEDRIC LEIGHTON, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, you see, it was very gutsy. It's a -- it was one of the clearest calls for courage, I think, on the
part of a president that we've seen in a long time. One of the key things here is, as Phil correctly pointed out, we don't control the airspace, we
don't control the ground, we have no military in Ukraine, the closest would be in Poland. And the very fact that we were able to do this shows that we
have a lot of trust in the Ukrainians, of course, but we also let the Russians know that with a few hours notice that the President was coming in
they if they did anything, it would, of course, look bad on them in many respects.
And if you put the president in danger, that could of course risk escalating this conflict. So, it was a very brief call. The U.S. military
did provide overwatch over Poland, using AWACS planes and other sources of surveillance to make sure that the President was safe. But the Ukrainians
controlled everything from start to finish on their territory. And it was a very good depiction of their capabilities.
SOARES: Yes, brave cool, like you say, Cedric, and hugely symbolic, too, and President Biden, important to point to our viewers, didn't come empty-
handed with half a billion dollars of assistance, but no promises of F-16's or long-range missiles. Do you think this will eventually come? And how
much of a game-changer Do you think this will be, Cedric?
LEIGHTON: Yes, Isa, I think they will come. I think at some point, you know, especially the longer range missiles, they might be, you know, in
some respects, easier to do than an F-16, or something like that. But when it comes to the F-16's and longer range missiles, training is going to be
of the essence. Some of that training is already beginning in Europe and in the United States for the Patriot missile. When it comes to aircraft, the
British are, of course, beginning pilot training on NATO standard aircrafts so the Ukrainians will be used to some of those cockpits when they see
I -- and at some point, I believe that they will get the chance to fly these aircraft. But it will take at least three to eight months where they
can safely transition from, let's say, a MiG-29 to an F-16 Or a typhoon. And that is going to require them to, you know, be not only quite good at,
you know, receiving the training, but also quite good at implementing that. And that's where other elements like combined arms training will come into
play as well.
SOARES: We heard also today, Cedric, President Biden say that Putin's failing in his conquest. I want to show our viewers a map preview of
Ukraine at the beginning of the war kind of animated and now, and we've seen territory lost and territory gained. As we look at this map, do you
see this as a military failure on Russia's part?
LEIGHTON: Yes, I do. Most significantly, you know, when you looked at the beginning of the war, this part of the war, when the Russian forces were
rolled back after their initial foray into the area around Kyiv and then the Ukrainians' ability in the summer and fall to take the area around
Kharkiv, and then after that, to take the area around Kherson in the south, that really showed that the Russians were not able to sustain any of the
gains that they had initially had. And it was also very clear to me based on, you know, how this ended up that the Ukrainians have a tremendous
ability to use their terrain to not only bask themselves within that terrain in a tactical sense, but also to use the advantages that a
defending force has. And they did that quite effectively.
So the Ukrainians have a much better fighting force for -- per capita, if you will, compared to the Russians and the Russians are, in fact, suffering
a defeat at this particular point in time. Now, of course, they won't like that to stand and they will want to do something to mitigate that
perception. But at the present time, we can definitely say that the Ukrainians have done a much better job in this conflict.
SOARES: And before I let you go, Cedric, let me get your thoughts about one other story that we have been following and monitoring here. And that's
Secretary Blinken's comments that China could stop providing lethal weapons to Russia. How could this possibly change the dynamic of this war? And what
should be the U.S. response should this in fact happen?
LEIGHTON: Yes, so Secretary Blinken is pointing to the very close relationship that China has both in a military sense, and in an
intelligence sense with -- between Russia and China. And so the basic idea that Secretary Blinken was pointing at is the fact that these two forces
can combine in a very meaningful way to prolong the war in Ukraine. If the Chinese provide the Russians with lethal aid, if they provide the Russians
If they provide them with missiles, if they even provide them with drones, they are lending a hand to prolonging this conflict. And the United States
was rewarding the Chinese that that would not be in their interest to do so. Whether or not the Chinese see it that way, of course, is a completely
different matter. But I think that's going to be the most dangerous part of this. And hopefully the Chinese will heed the warning and not provide that
information -- that -- those weapons because that's going to be a critical element in this conflict and it could prolong the suffering of the
SOARES: Thank you very much, Cedric Leighton. Appreciate it. I can just tell you the spokesperson for the ministry said today "The United States
has no place lecturing China on supplying weapons since Washington itself is supplying a 'steady stream of weapons to the battlefield.'" Cedric
Leighton, always great to get your analysis. Appreciate it. Thanks, Cedric.
LEIGHTON: Thank you. Thank you, Isa.
SOARES: Now a major update for you on a story that we have been following here on the show. U.K. police say they have identified the body of a
missing British woman, Nicola Bulley. Bulley's body was recovered by underwater search teams on Sunday in the River Wyre in northern England,
near where she disappeared. Police cases sparked widespread interest after she vanished while walking her dog. We'll be back after this.
SOARES: Well, they say a picture can tell a thousand words, but the work of our next guest may leave you speechless. Photojournalist Anastasia Taylor-
Lind has been documenting the situation in Ukraine since 2014. And her photos, since the start of Russia's invasion last year, have just gone on
display at the Imperial War Museum here in London. I spoke to her about the incredible stories she has captured, including that of a family whose
children grew up knowing nothing but the war that eventually drove them from there.
SOARES: Let's start off with really the image that's just over your right shoulder. And that is the Maidan Revolution. That moment, was that, did you
think, a turning point
ANASTASIA TAYLOR-LIND, PHOTOJOURNALIST: It was absolutely a turning point. It was the moment when ordinary civilians deposed a president who had very
close ties to Russia and demonstrated that they wanted to move forward with closer ties to Europe. It's ironic, of course, that I believed I was
documenting the end of violence in the country. And now we know it was only the beginning.
SOARES: And we saw at that very moment what we have been seeing over the past year the fight, the resilience of Ukrainians.
TAYLOR-LIND: Well, of course, they're faced with no choice, are they, but to be resilient and but to fight. No one chose this. No one in Ukraine
chose this war. And I'm particularly concerned in my work and personally about the civilian experience of war. Everybody is affected by it in some
SOARES: Much of your work focuses on that lived and -- experience of the traumas around this war. You focus in particular on one family, one that
lived in the rural part of Ukraine.
TAYLOR-LIND: This is Olga and her husband, Nikolay, and little Kirill and Miroslava. They lived on the frontline already, so fighting came to their
neighborhood very, very fast. And since both their kids were born after 2014, neither of them had ever seen peace.
SOARES: I mean, looking at this picture, you wouldn't imagine this in the middle of a war. So, so beautiful.
TAYLOR-LIND: Pictures like this one seem more precious and more important and more poignant than they ever did before because everything that you can
see here is gone.
SOARES: You've got two photos focusing on one soldier in particular,
TAYLOR-LIND: EF Ganim (ph) is an IT consultant. I photographed him in 2014 after he'd been beaten very badly by the Berkut riot police. In this
photograph, he has a concussion. You can see his two black eyes as well. And his hand was broken. He was also arrested and he was detained for
several days. So, he had just gotten out when I made this picture.
SOARES: And then here he is, again, this is last year, March of 2022.
TAYLOR-LIND: So unsurprisingly, EF Ganim volunteered the day after the full-scale Russian invasion, along with a lot of men who fought in Maidan.
And now, he's a member of the armed forces of Ukraine. And we know that the Ukrainian army became very professional and very well-equipped. Yes, and
very well-trained in that time because they had to.
SOARES: What do you admire about the Ukrainian spirit? What's so special about it?
TAYLOR-LIND: Can I give you a specific example?
TAYLOR-LIND: From my friend, Julia Kochetova, who's a Ukrainian -- a young Ukrainian photojournalist and filmmaker, we were working together in Donbas
this summer. And we had been very close to the frontline, where there was a lot of very active shelling. And it was terrifying. It was terrifying to
work there. And we'd make plans to go back the next day and to stay overnight with a family that we've been following. And when I woke up in
the morning, I was so filled with fear. I went to Julia and I said, Julia, I can't -- I just can't go today. I'm so sorry. I know you'll want to go
anyway, but I'll wait here for you. And she said, I understand. This is my war. And if I die, that's OK.
SOARES: How do you envisage this war ending?
TAYLOR-LIND: It's been -- this is entering the ninth year of war already. And we're coming towards the first anniversary of the full-scale Russian
invasion. When does war end because it doesn't end for the people who have been living through it with any ceasefires. With any ceasefire. It
continues. It continues their whole lives, I think. War stays with people until the very end.
SOARES: Well, China's capital, Beijing, is handing out cash to cushion the impact of rising food costs, but it might not get you very far. People on
low incomes will each receive 41, that's about $6 per month. Well, the handout was not well-received by everyone, as you can imagine. One Weibo
user basically said it "Just subsidizes a bowl of noodles." And that gives you really an idea what people think. I do thank you very much for
watching. Do stay right here. "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" with Richard Quest is up next. I shall see you tomorrow. Bye-bye.