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Isa Soares Tonight

Biden and Zelenskyy's Joint News Conference in Italy; G7 Leaders Agree to Loan Ukraine $50 Billion; Trump Meets with Republican Lawmakers in Washington; Ukraine Offers Enlistment-for-Parole Deal to Prisoners; Biden and Zelenskyy Hold Joint News Conference at G7; Biden and Zelenskyy Sign U.S.-Ukraine Security Pact. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired June 13, 2024 - 14:00:00   ET



BIANNA GOLODRYGA, HOST, ISA SOARES TONIGHT: Hello, everyone, and welcome, I'm Bianna Golodryga in for Isa Soares. Tonight, we start at the G7 Summit

in Italy where any moment now, U.S. President Joe Biden and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will hold a joint news conference to announce

a major security pact between the two countries.

Now, under the deal, the United States would train Ukraine's forces for ten years. Earlier, Mr. Zelenskyy described the agreement as unprecedented. A

senior administration official tells CNN the group of seven leaders agreed to a $50 billion loan package for Kyiv that would be financed from the

interests from the frozen Russian investments.

We'll bring you those remarks from the two presidents as soon as they begin. For now, we're joined by CNN's Kevin Liptak at the White House and

senior correspondent, Melissa Bell in Paris. Kevin, let's start with you. What are we expecting to hear more from the president? I would imagine

specifics on this ten-year as President Zelenskyy noted, ten-year unprecedented joint pact between these two countries.

KEVIN LIPTAK, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yes, and this deal is really meant to signal long-term American support for Ukraine, it includes provisions

like helping Ukraine modernize its arsenal, helping Ukraine train some of its soldiers. I think the big question that's hanging over this deal is

whether it will actually last ten years or whether it will last ten months until the potential end of President Biden's term if President Trump were

to return to the White House.

There's no guarantee that he couldn't just rip up this agreement, and he is obviously known to be a skeptic of support for Ukraine. He is a skeptic of

NATO, so, I think what you're seeing President Biden trying to do is demonstrate certainly American support for now, try and put into writing

some of these provisions that he thinks are important for long-term support for Ukraine.

But certainly, there's no guarantee that, that will be stuck to by the American President going forward. I think when you look at it from the

Ukrainian perspective, certainly Zelenskyy is saying that this is unprecedented. It does stop-short of the Ukrainians ultimate goal of

joining NATO. This is something that certainly falls well short of that. There's no collective defense part of this agreement, it would not require

American troops on the ground to come to the Ukrainian's defense.

But it is something that I think President Biden can point to along with the other G7 leaders in trying to demonstrate this solid, a western support

for Ukraine at a moment when some of that is being questioned, at a moment when Russia seems to have gained some of the momentum on the battlefield in

part because of the delay in American support that was caused by Republicans and Congress.

And I think President Biden, when he comes out here to speak alongside Zelenskyy, will want to show and want to demonstrate that he's committed in

the long term, but certainly, some of those promises are not really his to make if this election were to be won by Trump in November.

GOLODRYGA: Yes, and Melissa, to the earlier point, the other announcement that we saw, the $50 billion coming from the frozen Russian reserves that

will go to help rebuild Ukraine. That is something that has been long debated ever since that -- those reserves were frozen at the start of this


The United States initially had been trying to get all of it basically to pay for rebuilding Ukraine. There had been some concern among Europeans

about the precedent that would set, now, it appears that they have agreed to at least $50 billion that would be repaid by the interest earned from

these frozen assets. Talk about the significance of that decision, and how it finally came about.

MELISSA BELL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it took many months, years of negotiation. It was a particularly thorny issue. The fact is that

the $50 billion have not only been agreed upon, but will be given to Ukraine by the end of 2024, again, an attempt to get as much to Ukraine as

the American administration can, while it can.

And of course, this is again, going back to what Kevin was just saying also about showing continued long-term concrete support for Ukraine. There were

-- there's so many months, Bianna, when Kyiv didn't know what it was getting, whether we would get the next package with all the difficulties

that led to on the ground.


The last couple of weeks really in Europe have been for President Biden rallying minds, uniting the will of European allies. And we've seen

bilateral agreements succeed themselves over the course of the last couple of weeks. And now, this massive show of support, $50 billion that will no

doubt go a long way to helping the war-torn economy, try and withstand continued Russian pressure. Bianna.

GOLODRYGA: OK, that $50 billion in addition to finally, the $60 billion supplemental that was passed just recently in the U.S. Congress, and prior

to that, some $54 billion from Europe as well, the EU as well. So, finally, some much-needed funding this year going to Ukraine that's been desperate

for it for many months now. Thank you so much Melissa and Kevin, we appreciate it.

We're pleased to welcome in Kurt Volker; former U.S. ambassador to NATO, along with CNN politics reporter Stephen Collinson, welcome both of you.

Ambassador, let me start with you because this ten-year security agreement that we're expected to hear more details about from President Biden and

President Zelenskyy.

Yes, they say it's unprecedented, but it's clear that the elephant in the room is trying to Trump-proof any sort of future alliances and commitments

between the United States and Ukraine and to a lesser extent, Europe, and Ukraine as well, given the results of some of the parliamentary elections

that we've seen, a lot of these leaders in the G7 nations now are on shaky ground, to say the least.

I want to tell you or tell our viewers and have you respond to how Jake Sullivan; the current national security adviser described the security

pack. He said "it would send Russia, a quote, 'signal of our resolve if Vladimir Putin thinks that he can outlast a coalition supporting Ukraine.

He's wrong, he just cannot wait us out.'" Now, take that and then I'd like for you to hear what one of your former colleagues, national security

adviser Ambassador John Bolton told me in the last hour in response to this.


JOHN BOLTON, FORMER U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Nobody should have that under any illusions if Trump is inaugurated at noon on the 20th of

January next year by about 5:00 afternoon, he could -- he could have dissolved this agreement in its entirety.

So, if you can't bind a future president who doesn't want to be bound, and that includes getting out of treaties, which this isn't even a treaty. I

think there may actually be a bit of a downside here when Trump hears about this and concludes they're trying to lock him in, that will just make him

more irritated.


GOLODRYGA: Do you agree with that?

KURT VOLKER, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO NATO: Well, I think we're politicizing this issue a little bit between Trump-ism and anti-Trump-ism.

And we just need to look at the substance. The substance here is that the one thing that Vladimir Putin knows, respects and doesn't mess with is

NATO. He knows not to attack NATO countries.

And what we're doing with his bilateral security arrangement with Ukraine is trying to find a way to give them some assurance about our support for

them without letting them into NATO. And this is something Vladimir Putin has got to notice, and he's going to say, OK, so, you're not giving them a

legally-binding commitment, not committing to guarantee their security.

You're not letting them into NATO. So, what does this really do? And I think he's going to test it. Now, I understand the difficulties of a NATO

invitation right now, but we've got to be signaling, just as Jake Sullivan said, I think his message over there was right.

The message we want to send to Vladimir Putin is that he cannot win, we have the resolve, this will never work out in his favor. Unfortunately, I

just don't think a bilateral, non-legally binding, non-treaty commitment, security, you know, arrangement like this is going to do the job.

GOLODRYGA: Stephen, I'd like for you to weigh in to what we just heard from the ambassador about that, and not to -- not to ask you to get in the

head of Vladimir Putin. I don't think anybody can do that at this point, but this comes at a time when just for optics, if nothing else, Russia is

sending for Naval vessels off the coast of Cuba, clearly sending a message that once again, they can cause trouble just miles away from U.S. border.

Talk about what we need to hear from President Biden, specifically at this press conference when he's going to outline some of the details behind this


STEPHEN COLLINSON, CNN POLITICS SENIOR REPORTER: I think one of the interesting things that's happening is the institutionalizing of support

for Ukraine from the West, not just through this U.S. agreement, which has a sort of horizon of ten years, but through European Union measures and

through the NATO measures that the ambassador was talking about.


This comes after a very fraught period in the United States, you mentioned that the $60 billion package that finally got through Congress took months,

and that raised questions, not just about whether U.S. support for Ukraine is concrete for years ahead, if Biden -- if Trump gets elected in November,

even if the President Joe Biden gets re-elected, it's going to be very questionable whether there's going to be the support in the Congress to

quickly move to help Ukraine in the future.

This is also coming at a point where Russia has been making some advances across the map in eastern and northeastern Ukraine. So, it's responding to

all of this. And of course, there is this political context. It's very interesting to see that the Trump effect is already happening in some ways

in international relations.

This hedging that is going on in case the former president gets back into office. U.S. officials have said this is what's going on privately. For

decades, the United States was a source of stability, unquestioned support for alliances in Europe and for NATO.

During the four years of former President Trump's first term, that was not the case. It looks like people in Europe are starting to worry that the

idea that the U.S. is a stable partner, that its support is unquestionable is starting to be tested again because they're a very good -- there's a

very good chance that Trump could win that election.

Just today, ten minutes ago, he was giving a press conference on Capitol Hill surrounded by Republican lawmakers showing his -- the unity of the

Republican Party and his own authority over that party. So, he is a very serious threat, I think to President Joe Biden in this election. And that

is a message that the world I think is beginning to take on board.

GOLODRYGA: And ambassador, it's coming at a time when we not only have an election here with very -- two different -- very different ideologies about

U.S. influence and alliances going forward. But we've seen a surge in populism as well as displayed by the results from the parliamentary

elections just last week.

A lot up in the air, and in terms of snap elections in France, in the U.K. coming up soon as well. But it is interesting that even the host country,

which it seems that Prime Minister Meloni seems to have the most secure job out of all seven leaders right now at this point.

But the worst fears among allies did not come true in terms of support for Ukraine. So, just paint the scene for us about where things stand --

VOLKER: True --

GOLODRYGA: Among the different nations in the EU, when it comes to continued support for Ukraine.

VOLKER: Right, well, all of the commentary and all the media reporting in advance of the EU election was worried about a massive advance for a

populist far-right in Europe that was going to shift the dynamics in European politics. That did not happen.

What we saw instead was national politics played out in preferences in the way people voted in the European parliamentary elections. So, in the case

of Germany, Chancellor Scholz, very unpopular, that led to a resurgence for the center-right party in Germany, the CDU.

The AFD, the far-right, they also did well, but the CDU did better. If you look at the overall EU parliamentary result, the European People's Party,

the stable center-right, Ursula von der Leyen's base of support, they did better than they were in the previous election.

So, it wasn't this wave of far-right-ism. However, you did see a few specific cases. In the case of Italy, Giorgia Meloni's party, which has

been a pro-trans-Atlantic rightist movement, they did very well. In the case of France, President Macron, he did very poorly and the anti-Europe,

anti-NATO, far-right in France, they did well.

Not so much in Germany, the center right did the best there. And when you look at the U.K., the trend is exactly the opposite, the Tories are about

to lose power, and you're going to see the Labor Party, the center-left coming to power in the U.K. So, this wave of populist, far-right-ism in

Europe, that was supposed to happen in these European elections, it didn't happen.

GOLODRYGA: Yes, more isolated to local issues. It does appear in some of these countries, specifically those that were waiting for snap elections

from in just coming weeks. Ambassador Volker, Stephen Collinson, stay with us. We will be back, and obviously, we're going to come back to you once we

hear from President Zelenskyy and President Biden, that should happen at any moment.

And of course, we'll bring you that press conference as soon as it begins. But still to come for us, a fierce new barrage of rockets from Lebanon

ignites fires in northern Israel.


How the Israeli military is vowing to respond. And then three years later, and Donald Trump, well, he's once again back on Capitol Hill for his first

visit to the area since the January 6 insurrection. We'll have a live report on what happened during today's closed-door meeting.


GOLODRYGA: Well, while U.S. President Joe Biden is meeting with world leaders at the G7 Summit, his political rival here in the U.S., Donald

Trump, is shoring up support within the Republican Party. For the first time since becoming the presumptive nominee as well as a convicted felon,

Donald Trump is back on Capitol Hill throughout the day.

Trump has held closed-door meetings with key congressional allies. Here's what Trump had to say about those meetings just moments ago.


DONALD TRUMP, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: There's tremendous unity in the Republican Party. We want to see borders, we want to see strong

military, we want to see money not wasted all over the world. We don't want to see Russian ships right off the coast of Florida, which is what they are

right now. That's unthinkable. We want to see just success for our country.


GOLODRYGA: CNN's Alayna Treene has been keeping a close eye on Trump's meetings with congressional allies. She joins us now from Washington.

Alayna, I noticed behind him some potential VP picks as well standing very close to him to be caught on camera and nodding in support.

Quite a transition from where we saw this party and its leadership in the days after January 6, three years ago, one only has to recall what the time

Majority leader Mitch McConnell said about Donald Trump's role in January 6, saying that Trump practically and morally was responsible for those


And now, it seems as if there's -- you know, been quite a change in once again an embrace, full-hearted embrace of him.

ALAYNA TREENE, CNN REPORTER: That's why, and that's exactly what Donald Trump and his team wanted. They really went in to today's meetings near

Capitol Hill wanting unity. And that is much of what we saw and what we've been told as well that took place behind closed doors during both of those

meetings with House Republicans and Senate Republicans.

And you mentioned, Bianna, that this is the first time Donald Trump is returning to Capitol Hill and meeting with this large group of lawmakers

since he became the presumptive nominee and since his guilty verdict in Manhattan, is also the first time since the January 6th attack on the



And as you mentioned, something that really turned a lot of these Republicans off. Now, one of those key people is Senator Mitch McConnell,

the Senate Minority leader, he was in the Senate Republican meeting today. He did not attend the press conference according to our colleague Manu

Raju. But apparently, behind closed doors, they were very cordial with each other, they fist-bumped on the way out of the meeting.

And so, yes, very much so, this is a change from what we saw roughly three years ago. Now, we were told, again, that they wanted to show unity, that

Donald Trump's team really wanted to get the entire party and all of these lawmakers lined up behind them as they go into a very crucial stretch ahead

of the election in November.

They also wanted to talk about policy 2025, agenda items that if Donald Trump were to reclaim the White House, they could hit the ground running.

But we're also told, particularly in the House, Republican meeting this morning that some of the conversation devolved away from policy and more

into what we've come to hear from Donald Trump on the campaign trail.

He joked about Taylor Swift, claimed and criticized her for her support of the president, arguing, why would she support a dope like him, referring to

President Joe Biden. He also talked about Nancy Pelosi, made some other comments, and he also brought up abortion, which I think is very

significant because this is a policy that we know Donald Trump has really struggled with over the past year, and he's infuriated a lot of people by

ultimately coming out and saying that he wants it to be left to the states.

He told lawmakers, essentially, you know, what he believes privately, which is that he does not think it's a political winner, and that they need to

get the language on this messaging correctly. So, I found not very notable, but I think by and large, what Donald Trump wanted to do today will see

these Republicans stand with him, rally around him, and that's essentially what ended up happening, particularly what that show of force in that press

conference just moments --



GOLODRYGA: Alayna Treene, a perfect segue to our next conversation on the crucial ruling today from the Supreme Court on the issue of abortion,

specifically abortion pill, Mifepristone. Donald Trump told Republicans there that Republicans are so afraid of the issue, we would have had 40

seats, a bit incoherent about everything he said on the topic. But clearly, this is something that he wants to focus on if in fact, he is re-elected

again. Thank you so much.

TREENE: Thank you.

GOLODRYGA: Well, as noted, the U.S. Supreme Court had unanimously rejected a lawsuit challenging access to an abortion pill. Women in the U.S. can

receive the abortion pill, Mifepristone in mail without an in-person doctors visit. A group of anti-abortion organizations and doctors were

trying to challenge that.

Let's bring in justice correspondent Jessica Schneider in Washington with more on this. Jessica, this is significant ruling, but we should note, it

doesn't address the issue at hand, and that is whether the FDA properly approved and expanded the right to mail to homes. This drug, Mifepristone,

which they had approved for decades now, it was specifically tailored to whether or not they were standing for the plaintiffs here, and in that

decision, they said no.

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, the Supreme Court not addressing the meat of this case, only really dismissing it on these

procedural grounds. But nonetheless, the decision -- it is being applauded by the FDA, even though this was just technical and procedural when it

comes to a win. And yes, the Supreme Court unanimously deciding to dismiss this lawsuit.

It was brought by anti-abortion doctors. And if they had won, it could have severely restricted the availability of Mifepristone. This is a drug that

is used in more than half of all abortions nationwide. It has become increasingly more widely used in fact, in the two years since abortion

rights had been restricted in several states around the country after Roe v. Wade was overturned.

In this particular case, the Supreme Court is saying that this group of doctors that brought this lawsuit, they don't have the necessary legal

standing or the legal right or injury to bring this case. And they're saying that that's because the doctors that brought this, they don't

prescribe Mifepristone.

They don't -- they don't use Mifepristone, so they can't bring the lawsuit. You know, the doctors had asked for the Supreme Court to say that the

Federal Drug Administration just didn't have the ability to even approve this drug, and then didn't have the ability to make changes to the drug

that were made in recent years, that made it easier to get like making it available via mail or tele-health, and also allowing women to use it up to

ten weeks of pregnancy.

Now, all of those -- all of those changes will remain in place, so, it's easier for women to get -- so needless to say, Bianna, a major win for

abortion rights groups, notably though, I'll say what this doesn't do, it doesn't close the door to future lawsuits. So, if there are other groups

out there who think they want to challenge the FDA's authority in this case, and they think they have the legal standing, they could bring a


So, this is not -- it's not going to close the door to all lawsuits, but it will keep it status quo when it comes to Mifepristone, probably for years

to come, Bianna?


GOLODRYGA: And we should note the significance of Mifepristone because the majority of all abortions, over 60 percent --


GOLODRYGA: In this country right now are conducted by using this drug, which as noted, the FDA had approved for decades now as being extremely

safe. Also, we should note, Jessica, that there is another significant case involving abortion that we have yet to hear and are expecting to hear a

ruling from the Supreme Court on.

SCHNEIDER: Yes, that's right. So, we have about two dozen cases left, the Supreme Court usually wraps up at the end of June, so probably, in the next

two weeks, we're going to get some of those milestone cases including another one dealing with abortion.

This really goes to a conflict between an Idaho law that pretty much completely restricts abortion unless it is to save the life of a mother.

And then the Biden administration saying that, that conflicts with a federal law, which requires doctors in emergency rooms to take all

necessary precautions in order to prevent serious injury to a woman.

And the Biden administration argues that includes abortion, they're saying it conflicts with the state law, so, the Supreme Court will have to decide

if Idaho's law really severely restricting abortion can stand in the face of this federal law. So, that's also a bit technical, but that's also going

to be a big case when it finally gets released, likely in the next two weeks here, Bianna.

GOLODRYGA: Yes, that along with presidential immunity to a bit more --


GOLODRYGA: Prominent cases. We're waiting to hear a decision on. Jessica Schneider, thank you. Well, one issue that's come up with the abortion

debate centers around in vitro fertilization. Right now, Democratic Senate Majority leader Chuck Schumer is asking for a vote on a bill protecting IVF

procedures for doctors and patients.

The bill was introduced in part as a response to a ruling earlier this year by Alabama Supreme Court, which said those destroyed frozen embryos could

be liable for wrongful death. Alabama state legislature later protected IVF procedures in the state.

Republicans are expected to oppose the Senate bill. One senator called it a bill that fixes a non-existent problem. Well, still to come for us tonight,

U.S. President Joe Biden and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy are expected to speak at any moment on the sidelines of the G7 literally. We'll

bring that to you live.

And Ukraine's efforts to turn convicts into soldiers serving on the frontlines against Russia. Stay tuned for CNN's exclusive report.




BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN SENIOR GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Welcome back. We return now to Italy and the high stakes G7 summit. We are still waiting to

hear from U.S. President Joe Biden and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. They are due to speak at any moment now in a joint press

conference where the two countries are expected to sign a bilateral security pact. Of course, we'll bring that to you live when it begins.

Well, support for Ukraine and its ongoing war with Russia are expected to be a key focus over the, of the meetings in Italy over the next few days.

Earlier, leaders agreed on an American proposal to back a $50 billion loan to Kyiv, using frozen Russian assets as collateral.

Meanwhile, in Ukraine, some of its prisoners are getting a chance to leave prison if they choose to join the military. The move is meant to address

some of Ukraine's manpower shortages on the front lines where Russian troops reportedly now outnumber Ukrainians at least seven to one in some

areas. Clare Sebastian has details in this exclusive report.


CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Think twice before coming to us, says this battalion commander of Ukraine's 3rd Assault

Brigade. We are really tough.

This is Ukraine's newest effort to solve a crippling manpower shortage on its front lines. CNN gained exclusive access inside a Ukrainian prison as

inmates are given the chance to choose another path.

SERHII, UKRAINIAN PRISONER WHO WANTS TO ENLIST (through translator): It so happened that during a fight I killed a -- I foolishly killed a man. I have

a wife and children. I want to protect my wife, my kids, my family.

SEBASTIAN (voice-over): The vetting process, stringent. Yet less than a month since President Zelenskyy signed a law allowing some prisoners to

apply for early parole to join the armed forces, Ukraine's justice ministry says from almost 5,000 applicants, nearly 2,000 prisoners have been

released to fight, basic training already underway.

For 28-year-old Dmytro, the decision was personal.

DMYTRO, UKRAINIAN INMATE RELEASED TO FIGHT (through translator): Two missiles hit my house. I had two small children and a wife. Nobody

survived. At that moment I was already in prison in Kharkiv. I am not here only for revenge but also for people who are suffering.

SEBASTIAN (voice-over): Ukraine is keen to differentiate its prison recruitment efforts from that of Russia.

The late Yevgeny Prigozhin drafting thousands of inmates into his Wagner paramilitary group, a so-called meatgrinder assault on Bakhmut that cost

thousands of lives.

DENYS MALIUSKA, UKRAINIAN JUSTICE MINISTER: We selected the best prisoners we have. Those who volunteered to participate in the mechanism were passed

down through all legal and healthcare checks.

SEBASTIAN (voice-over): The justice ministry says so far, the experiment is going well.

MALIUSKA: My understanding is that their morale is far better than any other conscripts. They receive a good salary, respect, a uniform, better

living conditions.

And yet, for some of these men who may be on the front lines by the end of summer, this was not an easy decision.

VITALIY, UKRAINIAN PRISONER WHO WANTS TO ENLIST (through translator): My family is very worried. To be honest, they don't support me. It's a choice.

Because now the situation at the front is difficult.

SEBASTIAN (voice-over): A chance to turn around their own fortunes and, they hope, the fate of their country.

Clare Sebastian, CNN, London.


GOLODRYGA: I want to bring back in Kurt Volker, former U.S. Ambassador to NATO and Stephen Collinson, our senior political reporter.

Ambassador, I'd just like you to respond to -- you know, to state the obvious, what is clearly a manpower crisis in Ukraine. You just look at the

numbers available to President Putin in Russia. Excuse me. And compare to the situation at hand there in Ukraine, there's a lot of pressure on

President Zelenskyy to the conscription age, which he finally did.


I'm just wondering from your perspective and what you're hearing from others, was this a smart move? Is it a sign of desperation or was it a

politically savvy move on his part to turn to prisons?


First off, obviously, Russia is a country with three times the population of Ukraine, maybe even more times than that. So, they have a lot more

reserves that they can draw on.

That being said, Ukraine has been very careful to take care of its soldiers, take care of its population. They don't throw soldiers into a

meat grinder, they give them adequate training, they give them equipment. So, they are trying to minimize the losses. Russia does the opposite.

So, when Russia goes to prisons, prisoners don't really have a choice, they have to go, and they're going to a front line without training, without

equipment, and most of them will die. Very different in the case of Ukraine.

As you pointed out, they did recently lower the recruitment age or the conscription age in Ukraine from 27 years old to 25 years old. Now, think

of that from an American perspective. We're used to 18 as when people have to sign up. And when we were involved in Vietnam, it was 18-year-olds and

just over that who were going. Ukraine has avoided that so far because they don't want their youngest adults, their youngest adult males to go to war,

but they are dipping down a little bit.

And I think this move with prisoners is very different from what Russia did because they are truly giving them a choice. They're giving them training

and they're giving them a future after this service if they do it. So, it's a very different circumstance.

You are right to point out that there is a manpower issue in Ukraine. They don't have the overall reserves that Russia does, but they do have the

equipment. And that is making the difference between the Russian reserves and what the Ukrainians have.

GOLODRYGA: And it also speaks to the morale issue that they understandably have had in Ukraine for many months now, as any funding, especially from

the United States, has been frozen for months. Perhaps, and there's some hope that now that there is a fresh round of funding that's being

implemented as we speak into Ukraine, that perhaps you'll see not only a resurgence of morale among Ukrainian soldiers, but perhaps even more

volunteering to fight as well, given that they will no doubt have more and more updated and better more sophisticated equipment to fight with.

Stephen, as we've heard over the past few weeks, there's been a shift in positions from some European leaders, specifically, President Macron. He

seems to be an outlier at this point, but who knows what will happen in the months to come about even opening the door to the possibility of sending

troops to battle in Ukraine.

Now, this had been a policy that President Biden from the get go said would not happen in terms of U.S. support. But speak to the possibility that

you're concerned from some that perhaps things are creeping into that direction.

STEPHEN COLLINSON, CNN POLITICS SENIOR REPORTER: I think that shows that in Europe, as opposed to the United States, a threat from Ukraine, the idea

of what could happen if Russia is not stopped in Ukraine is much more immediate.

I'm not sure from a domestic political perspective that those remarks by President Macron were welcomed by the Biden administration simply because,

as you say, it's always been President Joe Biden's position that he must do absolutely everything he can to avoid a direct clash with Russia. He

doesn't want to portray this conflict as NATO against Russia, at the same time as Putin is trying to portray it as exactly that.

We have seen, in recent weeks, a slight adjustment of the U.S. position in allowing, in very limited circumstances, the use of very limited sets of

U.S. weapons by Ukraine on Russian soil. But that -- you know, that's not going much further at the moment. And consistently, some of President

Biden's more hawkish critics have accused him of giving Ukraine the means to avoid losing the war, but not enough to win it.

But in a political season, when the President's critics, on the more isolationist part of the Republican Party, are accusing him of trying to

drag the U.S. into a war with Russia, as Donald Trump said, into World War III, you're going to hear nothing like that coming from Biden.

Also, to the point about the package you just showed, I think it's important for Ukraine to show Americans that there is some success in this

conflict. It makes it much more difficult for a future administration, for the forces inside the Republican Party that don't want to help Ukraine, to

say it's time for the United States to walk away. It would make it a lot easier to walk away if Ukraine was seen to be losing.


GOLODRYGA: Yes. And, Ambassador Volker, some of the criticism and the constant theme that we've heard from critics of just how this

administration, particularly the Biden administration, but also Europeans have been lagging in terms of policy and adjusting to allow for planes, to

allow for weapons to be used inside Russia proper, the Ukrainians response would be, had you greenlit this earlier, the advancements we would have

made on the battlefield would have been more significant.

Is there a point in that argument? And it speaks to what we've even seen today, finally, after years of sitting on those $300 billion of frozen

Russian assets, are we finally seeing them come into play?

VOLKER: Yes. Well, absolutely. There's a point to that argument. We said no to so many different weapons systems before we said yes. Stinger

missiles, HIMARS, Bradleys, armored tanks, you -- aircraft, you name it. The ATACMS is the latest one. And then, we finally agreed to those things.

If we had actually agreed to these things and done them faster, Russia would not have had time to build those dragon's teeth defenses that blocked

the Ukrainian counteroffensive last fall. They -- we should have done this much faster.

That being said, Ukraine has still had significant successes. And if you just look at the Black Sea, Ukraine doesn't even have a Navy. And yet, they

have pushed the Russian Navy back away from the Western Black Sea and reopened commercial shipping so that they can get grain and other

foodstuffs to world markets without Russia attacking them. That is significant.

So, I think there is a point to getting this stuff out there more quickly.

GOLODRYGA: And how --

VOLKER: To this fund that's being agreed -- yes, go ahead.

GOLODRYGA: No, no, go ahead. Sorry, sorry, finish.

VOLKER: No. The fund that's being agreed at the G7 Summit right now. To be clear, this is a compromised position. The Biden administration had pushed

for more. They wanted to be able to seize all of the Russian assets, the Central Bank assets that are held by European countries and the United

States and repurpose those to support Ukraine. European allies, some of them, did not agree with this.

And so, this is a way to leverage those assets by forward -- you know, forwarding the interest that they will earn in the future against a loan so

that we can get Ukraine $50 billion now. This is a good step, but it's a compromise step, and it's not at the scale that we need for Ukraine to

really win the war. This is still about Ukraine treading water, not about getting the resources it needs to win.

GOLODRYGA: And just to update our viewers, the box you see there on the corner of your screen is the press conference that we're awaiting to hear

both President Biden and President Zelenskyy speak. We've just been told that we've been given a two-minute warning for the press. So, hopefully

they will come out soon.

One quick question to you, Ambassador, and apologies in advance if I have to interrupt you, I can't help, but notice where you are right now, in

Chisinau, Moldova, not only the country of my birth, but also a country that's extremely vulnerable given the dynamics at play in this war on the

continent right now.

Obviously, it is an -- it's a country that's not protected by any E.U. membership, not a NATO member as well, a landlocked country. They're

bordering Ukraine and Romania with an election coming up. Talk about the concerns and hopefully some light at the end of the tunnel, given the

Ukraine and Moldova are in accession talks now to join the E.U. and how closely they're following all of these developments that we're watching

play out today.

VOLKER: Right. Well, you talk to people in Moldova, and they say that their Article 5, their guarantee of security is Ukrainian independence. The

moment Ukraine would be defeated by Russia, then Moldova's independence and security is at risk. But as long as Ukraine survives as an independent,

sovereign state, Moldova survives as well.

And as you know, a small portion of Moldova remains occupied by Russia, with Russian forces there, some special forces, a lot of ammunition and

equipment. And Moldova doesn't want to provoke a crisis with Russia. They're not doing anything about this in the short-term. But the way this

war in Ukraine has played out, has cut off this region that Russia tries to control inside Moldova from Russia itself, and given Moldova the

opportunity, eventually, to recapture all of its own territory as well.

So, the war has to resolve in Ukraine's favor, but if it does, this is a significant step forward for Moldova, and that will pave the way for their

joining NATO in the E.U. as well.


GOLODRYGA: Yes, and that is the autonomous region of Transnistria that you're speaking of, not recognized internationally, but obviously in

Russia, it is where there's some 1,500 Russian troops stationed there. And it's notable that you mentioned what happens in Ukraine will affect

Moldova. Ukrainian troops essentially are protecting Moldova as we speak throughout this war.

Stephen Collinson, as we're waiting just moments away from these two presidents coming out, what specifically will you be focused on and looking

forward to hear from them?

COLLINSON: Well, anytime a president talks abroad, he's obviously talking to the world, but he is also talking to Americans back home. I think we'll

see a further justification as we did at the D-Day, 80th anniversary commemorations last week. about U.S. support for Ukraine, the importance,

as the ambassador was talking about, about stopping Russia's advances in Ukraine and not allowing them to go further.

And it will be -- not to introduce a domestic point here, but it will be the first time that the president has held a press conference since the

conviction of his son, Hunter Biden, this week on gun related charges. He became the first child of a sitting president to be convicted of a crime.

This has been something that's been weighing very heavily on the president.

So, I don't think it would be surprising if a member of the U.S. White House press corps were to throw in a question about that as well, to try

and get some reaction on camera, because this is obviously a very personal and political moment for the president.

And everything that he says will be refracted back through this domestic lens, because he's in the middle of a very intense election campaign, as

we've been saying with Former President Donald Trump. Everything he does is used by his campaign in some way or another to turn the focus against

Trump, to argue that the former president is unfit for a return to the Oval Office. So, there are multiple dimensions politically and diplomatically

going on here in this press conference.

GOLODRYGA: And, Ambassador Volker, just to remind our viewers that President Zelenskyy became a known figure in the United States well before

the war in Ukraine, but with Trump's first impeachment -- and the two presidents are coming out right now. We'll pick up after we hear from them.

And obviously, they're going to be taking a couple of questions from the reporters in the audience. So, I don't want to put you in a position of

having to answer a question and cut you off midway.

Let's listen in as we see a bilateral press conference now between President Zelenskyy and President Biden. I'm assuming as you're seeing

there, they are signing that 10-year security agreement that we have been discussing, and perhaps we'll get more detail of now, President Zelenskyy

describing this agreement as unprecedented.

Really stunning that we've seen President Zelenskyy navigate not only traveling to western countries and developing relationships on a

multilateral and bilateral level with the alliance, with neighboring countries throughout this war. Remember, we just saw him last week in

France, commemorating the 80th anniversary of D-Day. Let's listen in.

JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: Last year at the NATO summit in Lithuania, the United States brought together every member of the G7 to sign a joint

declaration of support for Ukraine. 25 additional countries joined us quickly. Each agreed to forge a long-term bilateral commitment with


President Zelenskyy and I have just now signed that agreement between the United States and Ukraine. Our goal is to strengthen Ukraine's credible

defense and deterrence capabilities for the long-term. A lasting peace for Ukraine must be underwritten by Ukraine's own ability to defend itself now

and to deter future aggression anytime in the future.

The United States is going to help ensure that Ukraine can do both, not by sending American troops to fight in Ukraine, but by providing weapons and

ammunition, expanding intelligence sharing, continuing to train brave Ukrainian troops at bases in Europe and the United States, enhancing

interoperability between our militaries in line with NATO standards.

Investing in Ukraine's defense industrial base. So, in time, in time, they can supply their own weapons and munitions. Working with Ukraine's partners

to build a future force that is strong, sustainable, and resilient. And supporting Ukraine's economic recovery, as well as its energy recovery

after Russia has repeatedly targeted Ukraine's energy grid with massive attacks in the futile attempt to break the will of the Ukrainian people.

All these lines of efforts and others are laid out in this agreement.


Additionally, the G7 achieved a significant outcome this week, on the matter of Russia's frozen assets in Europe and other places outside of


Back in 2022, two days after Russia's invasion, members of the G7 and the European Union worked together to freeze $280 billion in Russian Central

Bank funds outside of Russia.

I'm very pleased to share that this week, this week, the G7 signed a plan to finalize unlock $50 billion in the proceeds of those frozen assets. To

put that money to work for Ukraine, another reminder to Putin, we're not backing down. In fact, we're standing together against this illegal


The agreement that President Zelenskyy and I just signed also lays out our shared vision for a just peace, a peace rooted in the U.N. Charter and the

principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity, a peace with a broad base of support around the world that holds Russia accountable for the

damage it has done in this war.

We will see this vision strongly affirmed at the historic peace conference happening in Switzerland this weekend, where Vice President Harris will

represent the United States.

Finally, this agreement accelerates Ukraine's integration into the European, Atlantic, Transatlantic communities. It includes major

commitments from Ukraine to impact and -- excuse me, to implement democratic, economic, and security reform in line with the European Union's

accession goals and NATO's programs of reform.

While we take this step, the United States is also intensifying pressure on Russia. Yesterday, the U.S. Treasury Department made clear any bank

anywhere in the world that deals with sanctioned Russian banks, companies, or individuals' risks being sanctioned themselves. And we announced roughly

300 new sanctions on individuals and companies that are helping Russia with war efforts. They include key parts of Russia's financial sector.

I'll wait until it goes over.

As well as individual and entities that supply Russia with items critical to its defense production, like microelectronics, machine tools, and

industrial materials. We also sanction more Russian future energy projects. That Russia's natural gas oil projects that are under construction and are

not yet fully operated. Putin is counting on revenues from these projects. Our sanctions will disrupt those plans.

Plus, at the G7, we discussed our shared concern about countries like China for resource supply in Russia with materials they need for their war

machine. And we agreed to taking collective action to push back against that activity.

Let me close with this. We've taken three major steps at the G7 that collectively show Putin we cannot -- he cannot wait us out. He cannot

divide us. And we'll be with Ukraine until they prevail in this war. First, the bilateral security agreement just signed. Second, historic agreement to

provide $50 billion in value from Russian sovereign assets to Ukraine. And third, an agreement to ensure our sanctions efforts, to disrupt third

countries that are supplying Russia's war efforts. That will increase pressure on the Russian economy. Collectively, this is a powerful set of

actions and it will create a stronger foundation for Ukraine's success.

Two and a half years ago, Putin unleashed a brutal war on Ukraine. And it's been a horrifying ordeal for the Ukrainian people. They're so brave and

incredible. It's also been a test for the world. Would we stand with Ukraine? Would we stand for sovereignty, freedom, and against tyranny? The

United States, the G7, and countries around the world have consistently answered the question by saying, yes, we will. We will say it again, yes,

again and again and again. We're going to stand with Ukraine.

Thank you. And I now yield to my friend from Ukraine. President.

VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT: Thank you so much. Mr. President Biden, dear president, dear journalists, dear Ukrainians, dear Americans,

and thank you so much. Thanks Italy and Georgia to -- for an invitation.

Dear friends, today is a truly historic day. And we have signed the strongest agreement within Ukraine and the U.S. since our independence. And

this is an agreement on security and thus, on the protection of human life. This is an agreement on cooperation and thus, on how our nations will

become stronger. This is an agreement on steps to guarantee sustainable peace, and therefore, it benefits everyone in the world because the Russian

war against Ukraine is a real, real global threat.


I thank you very much, Mr. President, for your leadership, which is reflected in particular in this agreement and in your years of support for


I thank our teams, both teams. Thanks very much for making sure that the details of the agreement are really good. And of course, I want to thank

every Ukrainian soldier, all our people, whose courage made this level of alliance between Ukraine and the United States possible. And I am proud of

our people and what Ukraine can do. And I am very grateful to all Americans, to everyone in America, who strengthens American leadership.

So, under the points of the agreement, first, the agreement contains a very detailed, legally binding part, and this means the credibility of America's

support for our Ukrainian independence. Secondly, security commitments from the United States are based, among other things, on the sustainability of

security and defense support, not only for the duration of this war, but also for the period of peace after the war. And we will definitely ensure


Third, it clearly states that America supports Ukraine's efforts to win this war. Fourth, the agreement has good provisions on weapons for our

defense, very specifically on the Patriot systems, very specifically on the supply of fighter squadrons to Ukraine. That's right. Plural. Squadrons,

including but not limited to F-16s. We have worked for a long time for these.

The agreement is also very specific about the supply of the necessary weapons, joint production, and strengthening of the defense industries of

our countries through our cooperation. And this is something that will not only provide security, but also new good jobs for Ukrainians and Americans.

The agreement also outlines what is needed in terms of intelligence information. The agreement contains key aspects of protecting the lives of

our people.

Fifth, it is very important that the agreement also addresses the issue of Russia's just responsibility for this war. And it's attempts to destroy

Ukrainians. America supports both fair compensation for the damage caused by Russian strikes and working out ways to ensure that frozen Russian

assets are used to protect and rebuild Ukraine. The agreement also includes sanctions and expert controls that will make Russia feel the pain for what

it is doing, again, the freedom of peoples.

And two more things. I'm grateful that the philosophy of our security agreement is, in fact, the philosophy of the alliance. And that is why the

issue of NATO is covered through the text of the agreement. It states that America supports Ukraine's future, future membership in NATO and recognizes

that our security agreement is a breach to Ukraine's membership in NATO. It is very important for all Ukrainians and for all Europeans to know that

there will be no security deficit in Europe, which tempts the aggressor to war and makes the future uncertain.

Now, we are clearly defining everything. We will cooperate for the sake of victory, make peace guarantees effective, and provide the necessary

security for our people.

And thank you, Mr. President, for your leadership in the G7's decision on $50 billion loan for Ukraine. It's a vital step forward in providing

sustainable support for Ukraine in winning this war. Russian (INAUDIBLE) assets should be used for defending lives of Ukrainians from Russian terror

and for repaying the damage aggressor caused to Ukraine. It's fair and absolutely right.

Mr. President, thank you, your team. I would also like to thank the United States Congress for their support.