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New Day Saturday
At Least 13 Humanitarian Corridors Expected to Open Today; European Union Leaders Impose a Fourth Round of Sanctions on Russia; Biden Details New Measures to Punish Russia in Call with Zelenskyy; More Than 2.5 Million Have Fled Fighting in Ukraine; Stanford Student Travels to Poland to Assist in Humanitarian Efforts; Uber to Roll Out Temporary Fuel Surcharge to Offset High Prices. Aired 6-7a ET
Aired March 12, 2022 - 06:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Buenos dias. Good morning and welcome to your "NEW DAY." It is Saturday, March 12th. We are thrilled to have you. I'm Boris Sanchez.
JESSICA DEAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. I'm Jessica Dean, in today for Christi Paul.
SANCHEZ: Great to be with you, Jessica.
SANCHEZ: We start this morning in Eastern Europe and Russia intensifying its attacks on Ukraine. Just this morning, CNN crews in the capital city of Kyiv reported hearing explosions. Local officials though say that Russian missile and airstrikes caused damage to the north and south of the capital. And indications are that Russian troops are moving closer to the capital of Kyiv.
DEAN: Ukraine's interior minister says shelling last night caused a fire at a frozen foods warehouse northeast of Kyiv. And the U.K. Ministry of Defense saying the bulk of Russian ground forces are now about 15 miles from the center of the capital. Russian troops have also surrounded several Ukrainian cities.
SANCHEZ: And there are new efforts underway to get humanitarian aid to the city of Mariupol and to get civilians out. Remember, the city has been under siege for more than a week now.
Officials say a convoy is headed to Mariupol carrying some 90 tons of food and medicine. At least 13 humanitarian corridors are expected to open today to allow civilians to evacuate. Though over the past few weeks those corridors repeatedly have stalled.
DEAN: And the White House has warned Russia could use chemical weapons in Ukraine.
CNN White House correspondent Arlette Saenz asked the president about those concerns.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Your White House has said that - that Russia may use chemical weapons or create a false flag operation to use them. What evidence have you seen showing that? And would the U.S. have a military response if Putin does launch a chemical weapons attack?
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm not going to speak about the intelligence, but Russia will pay a severe price if they use chemical --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: President Biden says the United States and its European allies are also stepping up the economic pressure on Russia by revoking its favorable trade status.
DEAN: Our correspondents are bringing you the latest, most comprehensive coverage of the Russian invasion of Ukraine from inside the country to the White House and all across Europe. And we want to begin with an update on developments in Ukraine.
CNN reporter Salma Abdelaziz is live from Lviv. Salma, bring us up to speed this morning.
SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN REPORTER: This morning it appears that the Russian troops are widening, escalating, intensifying their attacks on Ukrainian cities. Places that people were previously fleeing too like Dnipro. I know we have material to show you there of that.
Those cities now under attack by Russian troops. Families yet again fleeing from there. And again, around the capital, Kyiv, key infrastructure hit to the north and the south increasingly people there feeling worried, feeling insecure about their future in the capital.
You also have those humanitarian corridors that you mentioned. 13 humanitarian corridors. Key among them, of course, the one for the city of Mariupol. That's the besieged city where electricity, food, water, basic supplies have essentially been cut off for nearly two weeks now.
Now, there's been - there has been five attempts. So this is going to be the sixth attempt here to try to open a corridor to let supplies into that city. That convoy you mentioned is actually carrying a group of priests, Orthodox priests, trying to reach the civilians in that besieged city.
But also, there are worrying signs about the indiscriminate and random nature of the incidents happening. I want to show you video of a mayor in the south eastern city. This mayor was detained, kidnapped. President Zelenskyy says illegitimately by Russian allied forces.
Now, from a Russian-backed prosecutor, he says that mayor is under prosecution for terrorism charges. Of course, President Zelenskyy denying that, saying that this is an attack on the very democracy of Ukraine. So you can only imagine today the war feeling ever closer to where I am here today, Lviv. It's supposed to be the safe haven. This is supposed to be the place you flee to. But overnight, we heard air - air raid sirens here again today. Boris and Jessica?
SANCHEZ: Yes. Salma, the indications are that the Russians are expanding their attacks westward into that part of the country. Salma Abdelaziz, from Lviv, thank you so much.
Let's turn now to the White House where President Biden is warning Russia not to use chemical weapons. CNN's Jasmine Wright joins us now live.
And Jasmine, President Biden put out a stern warning to the Kremlin.
JASMINE WRIGHT, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yes, that's right, Boris. He drew a red line there saying that Russia would pay a severe price if they use chemical weapons against Ukraine.
Now this comes after the White House really leaned in on warning that this could happen or at least that Russia could use them in a false flag operation. Really kind of create a pretext for further invasion. And so, the president made it clear that Russia would pay a severe price.
Now he nor an official that I spoke to just an hour later, Boris, on Friday would get into what the U.S. intelligence looks like to give them that consensus that Russia could be planning this. But the official said that Biden's words stand, and they would not preview what that exactly that severe price would look like.
But just a few hours later, Boris and Jessica, the president drew another red line at the House Democratic ideas conference in Philadelphia when he said once again that the U.S. would not be sending in ground troops to Ukraine. Take a listen to his words here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: We will not fight a third world war in Ukraine. The idea -- the idea that we're going to send in offensive equipment and have planes and tanks and trains going in with American pilots and American crews, just understand -- don't kid yourself, no matter what you all say, that's called World War III.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WRIGHT: So there you heard from the president there with strong words. He said again, don't kid yourself. That is called World War III.
Now, of course, the president gave these remarks just hours after he spoke to Ukrainian's President Zelenskyy by phone. Something that he said he's been doing at a near daily basis. And now, that phone call, officials said, lasted about 50 minutes. And in it, a little bit longer than normal. They talked about, of course, that recent trade announcement the president made on Friday as well as Zelenskyy said in some tweets later on that he gave President Biden an assessment of the battlefield situation. And of course, the crimes that he believes Russia is committing against the Ukrainian people.
Now, one thing that we are looking out for this weekend, Boris, is whether or not the president picks up the phone as he's been known to do since the invasion starts and talks with more world leaders trying to plot the path ahead as he spends the weekend in Camp David. Boris, Jessica?
DEAN: All right. Jasmine Wright at the White House for us. Thank you so much for that update. Let's go back to Europe now. The European Union is expecting to roll out another round of sanctions targeting Russia today. And CNN's Melissa Bell is joining us now live from Paris. Melissa, what more do we know about these sanctions?
MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, these are the very little sanctions they kicked in today, Jessica. You're quite right. Announced yesterday by the European Union. And this time targeting cryptocurrency. Trying to make it impossible for Russians to get around the sanctions using cryptocurrency, banning also the export of luxury goods from the European Union.
Now these are in addition to the other rounds of sanctions that have already been announced by the European Union and by the United States and the United Kingdom that have targeted the financial sector, the banking institutions, the assets of the Russian Central Bank. And that have so far have seen the essentially the savings of ordinary Russians halved in just a couple of weeks given the collapse of the ruble. And really, what we're seeing is a determined effort from the European Union, the United Kingdom, the United States to keep piling on that pressure.
Now, the next round of sanctions is very much likely to focus on trade with that preferred nations status being stripped from Russia by G7 countries. Now it will have to go through Congress in the United States, but it's been announced by Joe Biden as well, the idea is that this will allow countries also to target trade.
So for instance, European Union has announced that it is banning the import of Russian steel and iron, essentially Russia is removed from the World Trade Organization, which means that countries can now target specific industries, not just so far like the dual use industries, those that can be used for instance for civilian or military purposes that had been targeted by previous sanctions. This will allow them to further cripple the economy.
Another round of sanctions announced also this morning, Jessica, by the United States. The Treasury Department saying that it is targeting a number of individuals around Vladimir Putin this Saturday morning, including Dmitry Peskov, the man who's very much been the face of the Kremlin these last few years, its spokesman. Now that is something the European Union had announced on Wednesday a series of sanctions.
Another round of sanctions announced previously that will target a 160 people, many of them oligarchs, many of them very close to Vladimir Putin. Essentially, the message is we will continue to bring pressure to bear until this disastrous course of action is reserved -- reversed. Still, Jessica, some diplomatic efforts continue. There is to be a call today, later this morning here in Paris between the French President Emmanuel Macron, the German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and the Russian President Vladimir Putin. They'll be having a phone call. We'll be following that. But clearly, the hopes of anything coming out of that are very dim indeed. Jessica and Boris?
SANCHEZ: Yes. Dim is the right way to put it. Melissa Bell from Paris. Thank you so much.
And as Melissa mentioned, Congress is also expected to take swift action next week to downgrade Russia as a trading partner with the United States and impose higher tariffs on Moscow.
DEAN: Both Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill support President Biden's call to further isolate Russia by revoking its most favored nation status.
CNN congressional correspondent Manu Raju has more on this.
MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Jessica and Boris. Now, Congress is going to move very quickly to implement what President Biden announced yesterday, that the United States supports revoking the trade authority of Russia, the normal trade relations that Russia has enjoyed with the United States to get rid of that. And they need an act of Congress to do that.
Now there has already been bipartisan support. In fact, earlier in the week, a group of lawmakers on both sides announced that they were going to move ahead and revoke that permanent normal trade relation between Russia and Belarus and the United States. But behind the scenes, the White House actually pushed back, told lawmakers to hold off on that effort. And instead, Joe Biden and the White House and the rest of his administration went to European allies, went to the G7 and tried to get them also on board with the idea to show a united front.
So the House moved over - moved ahead earlier in the week on a different matter. Instead of going as far as revoking Russia's trade status, instead, the House passed legislation that would ban Russian energy imports by simply just review Russia's access to the World Trade Organization. But now that Joe Biden is formally behind the idea of revoking Russia's trade status and also American allies are as well, now expect there to be wide bipartisan support to do just that.
Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker, made clear that there would be action next week to do just that. She expected that there would be bipartisan support also. And on the Senate side, Chuck Schumer, the majority leader, plans to move quickly according to one of his spokesmen, and they expect to move that potentially next week.
So watch for even more action by Washington to respond to the war in Ukraine in the aftermath of roughly $14 billion that has already been approved to help with aid to Ukraine. In addition to that, this additional action, rebuking Russia for what -- for its aggression in Ukraine, much more is almost certain to come, but this is a start of what's expected to be an escalating series of steps to push back against Russia. Guys?
DEAN: Seeing that rare bipartisan support, all right. Manu Raju for us on Capitol Hill. Thank you so much.
And let's dig a little deeper now with Ed Arnold, a security research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute and our CNN military analyst, retired U.S. Air Force Colonel Cedric Leighton.
Good morning to both of you. Thanks for being with us.
Ed, I want to start with you. President Zelenskyy is calling on the European Union to do more for Ukraine after refusing to fast-track Ukraine's membership application to the EU That's something that can take years. It's a very lengthy process. What do you suspect happens next with regard to this situation?
ED ARNOLD, EUROPEAN SECURITY RESEARCH FELLOW, ROYAL UNITED SERVICES INSTITUTE: Yes, you're right. President Zelenskyy asked for a fast- track membership, it went through to the EU and they've tempered it. So it will take some time. It is a lengthy process. But at the moment, it's actually more important for President Zelenskyy to get that political support from the EU for a number of reasons.
The EU have already doubled their military package and aid support to Ukraine and that will continue in the short-term. But I think in the long-term, ultimately, yes, President Zelenskyy would like EU membership but also the support that that brings.
DEAN: Right. And Colonel, let's talk a little bit about the military strategy. What do you think Russia is going after right now? How have things evolved? And also, too, how concerned are you about the potential use of chemical weapons? We heard from the president just yesterday.
COL. CEDRIC LEIGHTON (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Yes. Absolutely, Jessica. I think -- I know I'm very concerned about the chemical weapons. The idea that they are going to potentially use those and use that perhaps as a false flag or part of a false flag operation, that is a considerable issue that I think we have to deal with. The international community has to have a way of responding to that.
As far as Russia's military strategy is concerned, Jessica, they are doubling down on a time-tested Russian way of warfare. And what that is, is basically you go in and you terrorize the population. If there's a population that is not bending to your will right away, you lay waste to the cities, you lay waste to the countryside. You do the kinds of scorched earth things that we're starting to see now in Ukraine. And so, a very terrible thing, but that's the kind of strategy that is unfortunately very normal in their way of war.
DEAN: Right. Seeing these hospitals targeted, things like that.
DEAN: Civilians, that sort of thing. It is - it is absolutely terrorizing indeed.
Ed, walk us through what other European countries are doing right now to support Ukraine.
And do you think they could be doing more? We just heard from the Colonel, there is if, indeed, they did use chemical weapons, you know, they would have to put up a united front in terms of both aid but also militarily. Do you think they should be doing more and what are they doing right now?
ARNOLD: That's right. And the remarks from the Colonel are absolutely correct with the use of chemical weapons will be a potential escalation within the conflict. And I think it will be part of Putin's decision-making process because actually from, you know, why the perspective European unity and also Transatlantic unity. But the key thing is this and the Ukrainians need. And Putin will try and use any - any methods that he can to try and disrupt to that.
The Europeans are doing a lot. And it's worth noting that in the first phase of the operations, around the first five days, it was actually the Ukrainian will to fight and their resistance which influenced European nations to effectively generational see changes in policy, most notably in Germany but also in Sweden and Finland in deciding to send more military aid to the countries and also increased defense spending.
The weapons systems that are moving via Poland are continuing and also increasing. Naturally the Ukrainians are very, very effective at using these systems. At the moment the Russian military are bogged down. So in the short-term, that is the main support that they will need. But the -- it will be very difficult to maintain that unity, so the Europeans and also the Europeans plus America need to really understand what levers they have that they can provide to Ukraine when they need to.
DEAN: Right. And how long they can sustain that probably as well.
Colonel, in your opinion, what kind of military aid do you think Ukraine needs right now?
LEIGHTON: Well, I think, Ed hit on it quite well. The fact is that they need as much small arms replenishment as possible. They need stingers. They need javelins. So we're talking anti-aircraft and anti- tank weapons, plus anti-personnel weapons.
Right now, I think what we're looking at is the possibility not only of protracted urban combat, but also potentially a protracted guerrilla war. So if that happens, it is those kinds of weapons that would be used in a guerrilla war are the ones that the Ukrainians would need.
DEAN: And these are also things that - you know, you also have written and talked about, these are guns. These are things that someone could pick up and use, they wouldn't need extensive training on. Is that right?
LEIGHTON: Exactly. That's exactly right. Because right now, it's too late to train them on say, the patriot missile -- anti-missile and anti-air system. You would have difficulty training them on modern U.S. or European jet aircraft, fighter aircraft. So that's the kind of thing that we have to - you know, we have to tailor the aid to the situation and basically to the way in which the Ukrainians have to fight this war.
DEAN: Yes. To these circumstances. And Ed, the government of Ukraine is asking for and citizens to that point to come in and help fight against Russian forces. How effective do you think that could be?
ARNOLD: Well, I think the first point to note is from a Ukrainian perspective, this is a fight for national survival. So they are doing absolutely everything they can. And it is also important to note that this is not just a Ukrainian professional military, because of national mobilization, they have essentially armed their populous. So there's lots of people with no military experience even within Ukraine who are getting weapons.
We estimate at the moment that there's around 20,000 foreign fighters to support Ukraine's side moving over via Poland. And essentially, they'll get a crash course in military training. They will be triaged. I think if anyone has any previous military training, that will be decisive, and they will be moved closer to the front lines where they will be of most value. And then people who might have less military or no military training will hopefully be more on the logistical and supporting the front lines.
Again, a point to note is that this could be a quite protracted battle, the way that the military situation has played out in the first 15 days. So, even those people who go with no military training will pick things up across the way. They might be in fairly sustained combat for a number of years potentially.
DEAN: All right. We will leave it there. Colonel Cedric Leighton and Ed Arnold, thank you so much for your insight, your expertise. We sure do appreciate it.
ARNOLD: Thank you.
SANCHEZ: So more than 2.5 million people have fled Ukraine since the Russian invasion began. Coming up, we're going to speak to one Ukrainian student who is studying in the United States and returned to Europe to the front lines in Poland to help those fleeing the fighting in her homeland. She'll join us live after a quick break. Stay with us.
DEAN: The U.N. now says 2.5 million people have already fled Ukraine to neighboring countries. And it's rapidly increasing by the day. 1994 Olympic figure skating gold medalist Oksana Baiul was born in Dnipro, Ukraine and she says her people are fighting for their freedom.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OKSANA BAIUL, 1994 OLYMPIC FIGURE SKATING GOLD MEDALIST: Hurt. I'm hurt. When I see volunteers helping my people, it's incredible. I was - I was doing a couple of interviews today. And I felt first when I was kind of like pulled it together. And the second one I was just watching Poland helping refugees. And I just couldn't really help it because the heart hurts so much watching people go through what they're going through. And when they went live, I was wiping my tears.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: Very emotional there. And keep in mind that outside of those 2.5 million people that have fled Ukraine, the U.N. estimates that about 2 million people inside the country are currently displaced.
DEAN: Food and other supplies inside Ukraine are becoming increasingly scarce as refugees pour into those neighboring countries.
SANCHEZ: Our next guest is a Ukrainian student who is studying at Stanford when the invasion began, and she returned to Europe to help those who have left her country.
Joining us now is Catarina Buchatskiy. Catarina, good morning. And thank you so much for sharing part of your weekend with us.
Right now, you're in Poland, right? Have you been able to get in contact -
CATARINA BUCHATSKIY, STANFORD SOPHOMORE TRAVELED TO POLAND TO HELP UKRAINIANS: Yes.
SANCHEZ: -- with your family in Ukraine? I understand you have family members in Odesa, an area that's seeing a lot of hardship right now.
BUCHATSKIY: Yes, thank you so much for having me. I've been able to stay in contact with some of my family in Ukraine recently. One of my cousins who is in Kyiv managed to flee to Poland. So he's in Warsaw right now. I'm actually going to go and see him next week, which will be amazing. And I heard from some of my other family in Odessa that managed to flee to Romania. So we're trying to do everything we can to stay in contact and everyone is safe for now. Thank God.
DEAN: Yes. Thank God, indeed. You've seen the bombing of Kyiv. You're seeing the hardships of the refugees there in Poland. How are you holding up? Walk us through kind of how you're feeling as you're there volunteering, helping but also seeing so many people in such horrific circumstances.
BUCHATSKIY: Yes. I mean the bombing of Kyiv and the attacks on the capital are hitting very close to home because I grew up in Kyiv. And I kind of see -- luckily nothing has advanced so far as to where I lived, but it's very hard to kind of watch every day, constantly refreshing the news to see them getting kind of closer and closer. And I think that being here in Poland has been a roller coaster of emotions. There are days where you feel like you're really doing a lot and you're making a change, and it's kind of motivating. You're getting good news from home. And then in the next hour you can feel as though you're not doing anything at all and completely helpless.
And so, it's quite a roller coaster being here and, you know, some hours are better than others, but you kind of have to be on all the time, constantly checking, constantly seeing and waiting for kind of the other shoe to drop maybe. And so, it's been - it's been a wild ride.
SANCHEZ: And Catarina, out of all those people that you have been coming into contact with that have been fleeing Ukraine, what are the conversations with them like? What are their needs? What are their concerns?
BUCHATSKIY: Yes. I mean, it's been really tough having these conversations. I've had a few emotional dinners with some of the people and families coming in. And I think it's very moving to hear just how much they're enduring and the strength that they have throughout all of this. And I think some of the conversations I'm having, surrounding the actions of the West in response to the conflict have included things like, you know, I'm so glad to hear that the ruble is tanking and that there's all these sanctions but at the end of the day, there's still bombs dropping in my front yard.
And so, it's very hard for some of the people to process all of these diplomacy, and news and sanctions when at the end of the day they're seeing people be killed and bodies lying on the streets that they can't even recover because it's not safe outside yet. And so, I think, for the people inside Ukraine it's very much still - it's very much still hell. And all of, you know, whatever is happening outside is not really kind of impacting their day-to-day life unfortunately and they're just looking for peace.
DEAN: And we were just talking about that the U.N. Refugee Agency is estimating as many as 2 million people are displaced inside Ukraine. Of course, more people are going to be leaving Ukraine in the coming days and weeks. Do you believe that Ukraine's neighbors have the ability to help that many people? Do you think that there are resources to take in the refugees?
BUCHATSKIY: Absolutely. I mean, I've seen how amazing Poland has been in helping with the refugee crisis. Here in Krakow, the city is absolutely full of Ukrainians. And these are not - these are not just Ukrainians that are sitting here kind of waiting around. All my cab drivers have been Ukrainians. I've been seeing people in cafes working, already kind of starting their lives until they can go back home.
And it's been absolutely amazing to see how much effort Poland has made in welcoming. And I think that Romania is going to be a next spot for a lot of the refugees coming in. And I'm hoping that they continue to welcome us with open arms. And we'll do our best to continue kind of helping the communities that have welcomed us and have given so much to us.
And so, it's been very inspiring to see the treatment that we've gotten here, and I think that, you know, this is going to be, in my opinion, a temporary crisis because I know that most of the people that I'm talking to, the refugees that are resettling are just super anxious to go back home.
They -- a lot of them say, you know, I'm going to be here for now, but the next moment I can, I'm going back. And so, I think that we're going to be seeing a lot of these Ukrainians and influx back in Ukraine. And hopefully, everyone will be able to go back home.
DEAN: They just want to go home. We can certainly understand that that is universal. All right --
BUCHATSKIY: Yes --
DEAN: Catarina Buchatskiy, thanks so much, we're sending our best to you and your family, we appreciate it.
BUCHATSKIY: Thank you so much for having me.
DEAN: And if you would like to help people in Ukraine who may be in need of shelter, food and water, you can go to cnn.com-slash-impact for more information.
SANCHEZ: It's been roughly 3 weeks since the Russian invasion into Ukraine began, but the invasion hasn't gone the way Kremlin expected. Russian troops are now having to regroup. We're going to show you where and break down the latest from the front lines with our military expert when we come back.
DEAN: With the Russian invasion of Ukraine now in its third week, the U.K.'s Ministry of Defense reports the bulk of Russia's ground forces are about 15 miles from the center of the capital of Kyiv. Ukrainian officials say a warehouse just northeast of the city caught fire overnight after a round of shelling.
And other key cities are now encircled by Russian forces. After a devastating bombing of a maternity hospital in Mariupol this week, there will be another attempt today to open a humanitarian corridor to the besieged to bring food and medicine in and get civilians out.
SANCHEZ: You've seen the scenes on the ground from Ukraine, and now, we want to give you a broader perspective, a bigger picture look at what is happening across the country. We're back with retired Air Force Colonel Cedric Leighton. Colonel Leighton, always great to get your expertise on these matters. As we take a look at the map now, we understand that the Russian assault is expanding, it's moving westward. So, what are the areas that you're most focused on right now?
LEIGHTON: Well, Boris, I'm still focused on Kyiv. So, right here in the north central part of the country, of course, the capital of the country. What you're seeing here is a very clear move into the city and the outskirts right here. So, I'll move you just really quickly into the map of Kyiv itself. And what we're seeing here is really close approaches by the Russians at these points.
Basically, touching the city limits of Kyiv in the west, northwest, north to some extent, and northeast part of the city. What the Russians will need to do is they will need to move around this way and this way in order to encircle the city. They can do that. They have the technical capability and the logistical capability to do that. But they will need to overcome the river, the Dnipro river which is right here, and they will also have to, of course, overcome Ukrainian resistance.
SANCHEZ: So, let's go back to the broader map and talk about Mariupol specifically. Because there are humanitarian corridors that are being set up to try to get civilians out and to bring in humanitarian aid. However, we've charted over the last few weeks, those corridors have fallen apart very quickly. The Ukrainians accusing the Russians of breaking a ceasefire. When you look at that area, experts suggest that it's only going to be held by the Ukrainians for a few more days. What's your assessment on the ground there in Mariupol?
LEIGHTON: Well, I think for the Ukrainian defenders, it looks really bleak, frankly. And it's -- I really hate to say that. But what the Russians are doing is they're concentrating their forces on these sides of Mariupol. And what they're trying to do from a broader strategic perspective is take over the entire Ukrainian coastline of the Sea of Azov. They in essence want to make the Sea of Azov a Russian lake. And they're well underway to doing that.
So, that's one of their objectives. In addition to what we saw earlier with Kyiv, Mariupol, where they bombed the hospital, this is exactly how they're doing it, and this then ties Crimea, which is the area that they annexed in 2014 with the separatist republic, so they have just recognized over here. And they've got a perfect land bridge from here all the way to Russia itself.
SANCHEZ: And that indicates that the next step is likely here, near Odessa, right?
LEIGHTON: Correctly -- correct. That's right, Boris. Because Odessa, right about here is Ukraine's major port city. So what does this do? Then if the Russians move west like they probably will, that then makes Ukraine a land-locked country.
SANCHEZ: So, let's talk about potential assistance from the West. This is obviously not something we're going to see on the map. But you were mentioning just a moment ago off air, that there's a lot of things that we're not seeing in terms of cyber capability, in terms of weapons potentially that are supplied to Ukrainian troops. Walk us through how the West may help combat this Russian onslaught? LEIGHTON: So, it's going to be one of those things that requires a
sustained effort on the part of the West and the NATO countries specifically, and of course, the Ukrainian defenders. On the cyber realm, what we're talking about, Boris, is a lot of attacks against Ukrainian websites, against Ukrainian institutions, and those things are ongoing. They were part of the initial invasion package, and they are continuing to do that. Cyberattacks are also affecting elements of Polish and other NATO country websites and institutions.
Plus, they're also moving slowly but surely into the U.S. There's a lot of stuff that's hidden on U.S. websites and the U.S. I.T. infrastructure, where the Russians have the capability of actually shutting things down if they so choose. When it comes to moving weapons, they would be coming in from places like Poland, potentially Slovakia and Romania.
And these types of supply areas are going to be limited quite a bit by the ability of the Russians. You'd mentioned earlier that, of course, the Russians are moving into the western part. They're starting to bomb airfields in this part of the country --
SANCHEZ: We have video of that, right?
LEIGHTON: Yes, we do. And let's see here, we have -- it's airport right here. This was the bombing of Lutsk airport, which was one of the major sites for the Ukrainian Air Force. So, they had based MIG- 29s at one of the other airfields that they bombed. This is the kind of stuff that they're going -- this -- going through. This is a sustained campaign, and it is designed to in essence cut everything off and make sure that the supply lines are what we call in the military interdicted, in other words, so they're cut off.
SANCHEZ: Plenty more questions to ask you unfortunately, right now, we have to leave it there. I know you're back on with us in just a couple of hours. So, stay tuned for more conversations with Colonel Leighton, we appreciate your insight as always.
LEIGHTON: You bet, Boris, thank you.
DEAN: The war in Ukraine is having painful impacts on drivers in the U.S. And if you're thinking you can hop into an Uber to avoid higher prices, think again. That's next.
SANCHEZ: So the economic ramifications of what's happening in eastern Europe is being felt here at home. Uber is upping its prices as the recent ban on Russian energy imports to the United States has left many drivers struggling to keep up with rising gas prices.
DEAN: Uber announced it will temporarily add a fuel surcharge of up to 55 cents to rides and food deliveries. Beginning next Wednesday, that increase will last for at least 60 days, it will be based on trip distance and the gas prices in each state. Russia's invasion of Ukraine has sent gas prices soaring all across the country.
SANCHEZ: Yes, inevitably, you've noticed the pain at the pump. CNN's Vanessa Yurkevich spoke to some drivers that are feeling that pain right now.
VANESSA YURKEVICH, CNN BUSINESS & POLITICS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For up to 15 hours a day, New York City cab driver Wain Chin looks for passengers.
WAIN CHIN, TAXI DRIVER: I drive like 150-mile every day.
YURKEVICH: But with business still down pre-pandemic and gas prices at a record high, he says he's barely surviving.
CHIN: Most of the gas station is expensive, anywhere you go.
YURKEVICH: And his pricey taxi medallion needed to operate costs him almost $2,000 a month. With three boys on their way to college, the extra $100 he's spending a week on gas for his preis(ph) is eating into savings.
CHIN: We got no money for them to go to college, you know, I worry. But right now, I don't make enough, you know. We're just surviving here.
YURKEVICH: He comes from a family of survivors. His grandparents, refugees fled China during World War II.
CHIN: Watching the news from Ukraine saddens me because compared to what those people are going through, you know, I don't mind paying more because they are suffering. You know, my old family like my grandparents, they've gone through this.
YURKEVICH: This week, President Joe Biden banned the import of Russian oil, gas and coal, accounting for 8 percent of the U.S. energy supply. Some analysts estimate with inflation and now the war, it could push the national average over $5 a gallon.
DAVE LEMOS, DRIVER: Everything has just gone skyrocket.
YURKEVICH: Small business owner Dave Lemos is already paying more than $5 a gallon in Los Angeles. He says he drives 450 miles a week for work.
LEMOS: We're hitting close to about $2,300 over budget on things that we never thought we had even worry about on gas and travel and couriers and stuff.
YURKEVICH: Back across the coast, retirees John and Pat Grasso were on their way back to the Bronx from a trip in south Jersey.
JOHN GRASSO, DRIVER: We were just talking about, you know, it's going to cost us an extra like 30, 40 cents a gallon since we left two days ago.
YURKEVICH: President Biden authorized the release of 30 million additional barrels of oil from the nation's reserve, trying to offset rising prices. The world consumes 100 million barrels of oil a day.
(on camera): Do you think that this will make a difference?
PAT GRASSO, DRIVER: It's very difficult to say, but I am willing to pay higher prices at the gas.
J. GRASSO: I am too. I'm willing to sacrifice and pay for the people that are suffering in Ukraine.
YURKEVICH (voice-over): But Robert Harrel isn't so sure paying more will have an impact on Putin's all-out war.
ROBERT HARREL, DRIVER: It's not going to work. He wants to fight.
YURKEVICH: Vanessa Yurkevich, CNN, Ridgefield, New Jersey.
SANCHEZ: Vanessa, thank you so much for that. There is some severe weather to tell you about. Right now, parts of Georgia and Florida are under a tornado watch. We'll tell you how long it's expected to last after a quick break. Don't go anywhere.
DEAN: This morning, severe storms are impacting parts of the south while freezing temperatures are sweeping the south and the northeast.
SANCHEZ: Yes, let's get to CNN meteorologist Tyler Mauldin, he's live for us in the CNN Weather Center with more. Tyler, walk us through what you're seeing in the south.
TYLER MAULDIN, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, good morning Boris, good morning Jessica. As you can see right here behind me, there's a tornado watch in effect for parts of the peninsula of Florida, going into southeast Georgia. This is until 11 O'clock Eastern Time this morning because of this line of thunderstorm activity that's pushing through. Right now, it is packing a punch, and it's not just down here across Florida, it's all the way up the East Coast.
This area of low pressure is moving up basically i-95. We've got the warm side giving way to the strong to severe thunderstorms. And on a cold side, you have the wintry mix shift. That severe weather threat is going to continue to push to the east.
Not only are we looking at Florida and southeast Georgia immediately for some strong to severe thunderstorms, but as we go to the late morning hours and early afternoon, we could see that fire up across the outer banks. Again, behind the system, we have that cold air spilling down, nearly 60 million people from north Georgia all the way into Maine under a Winter storm warnings -- Winter storm alerts at this time.
Up the spine of the Appalachian, more than 4 inches of snow possible. Some areas, once you get into Maine, could see more than a foot. And along the i-95 corridor, we can see roughly 1 to 3 inches. That's all going to clear out as we get later on into tonight, and then tomorrow morning, on a really strong wind, we've got some really cold air coming down, sub zero temperatures will be felt as far south as the Gulf Coast. Guys?
SANCHEZ: In the last few breaths of Winter --
DEAN: We hope --
SANCHEZ: Before we switch --
DEAN: Yes, right --
SANCHEZ: Into Spring, we're counting on that --
DEAN: Yes --
SANCHEZ: Tyler Mauldin --
MAULDIN: Spring is right around the corner, you got it.
SANCHEZ: Thanks so much. After a quick break, we're going to revisit our top story. Russian forces are inching closer to Kyiv, now just about 10 miles away from the center of the city, we're going to take you live to Ukraine for the very latest on the overnight shelling and Russian troop movements. The next hour of "NEW DAY" in just moments.