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New Day Sunday
Ukraine Under Russian Attack for Fourth Day; Zelensky Accuses Russia of Targeting Civilians, Including Children; U.S. & Key G7 Allies Expelling Some Russian Banks from Swift. Aired 7-8a ET
Aired February 27, 2022 - 07:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Welcome to your Sunday, February 27th. I'm Christi Paul.
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, Christi.
I'm Boris Sanchez. We're thrilled to have you with us.
We begin this morning with an appeal to the world. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is calling for everyone on Earth to join the fight against Russia. Ukrainian forces right now are fighting the Russian military on multiple fronts. Russian troops have moved into Kharkiv, Ukraine's second largest city. People are being told to stay inside their homes because fighting has turned into urban warfare. It's out in the streets.
PAUL: Now, Russia has claimed its attacks are aimed only at military targets but you've seen the pictures. We see in front of you now. We see damage to neighborhoods, to schools.
Ukrainian President Zelensky accusing the Russian army of killing civilians.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VOLODYMYR ZELENSKY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): The last night in Ukraine was brutal. There was shelling again, bombarding of residential areas, civilian infrastructure. There is not a single facility in our country that is occupants consider an acceptable target.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: This morning, Zelensky is rejecting calls to hold peace talks with Russia in Belarus. I mean, he says he is ready to meet with Russians, but he will only do so on neutral ground.
In the meantime, the U.S. and its European allies are working on additional measures to slow Russian aggression, agreeing to cut off select Russian banks from SWIFT. That's the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication. It severely limits their access to the international banking system.
SANCHEZ: Our CNN reporters are covering the story from all angles. Let's begin with Alex Marquardt. He's live for us inside Kyiv.
And, Alex, fighting has intensified across Ukraine, but from last night, your vantage point, you could see the skies lighting up. And earlier, you shared that you were hearing explosions not far from where you're standing right now.
Bring us up to speed with the latest on what you're seeing.
ALEXANDER MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Boris. The fighting intensifying not just across the country, but around the city as well. In just the past hour, there does appear to be an acceleration of the pace of the bombardment. We are up on the roof of our hotel, and from here, we've heard many distinct blasts in the distance, to the northeast, to the north, and to the west.
Most of the explosions that I've heard have been coming from that direction in the Northeast, but on the other sides there are at least four distinct visible plumes of smoke. Now, this is a city that is essentially under lockdown. There is a curfew until tomorrow morning. You can certainly imagine that it could be extended.
So, this is a much louder day, if you will, than yesterday. And this comes after last night when we got warnings that there could have been a widespread aerial bombardment by Russian planes over Kyiv. That didn't really materialize, but there were two significant explosions just after midnight to the southwest, near Kyiv's second biggest airport. The first one resulting in a massive fire. You could see the flames glowing and the clouds above it for hours, and even now more than 12 hours later, you can still see the smoke from that.
And then to the east of Kyiv, the second biggest city, Kharkiv, the fighting is also intensifying. We know that there are street battles between Russian and Ukrainian forces, that Kharkiv residents are being told to stay inside. That is close to the border where our colleague, Fred Pleitgen, has been seeing rocket fire going out.
But the Ukrainian forces do appear to be putting up a good fight. This is day four of this invasion. The Russian military is clearly not where they expected to be. There had been some forecasts that perhaps Kyiv could fall in 24 to 48 hours. The Ukrainian military putting up a good fight, Russian personnel are being killed. Their tanks, their weaponry, their trucks are being hurt -- are being destroyed, rather, their supply lines are being stretched. They're having difficulties getting things like fuel.
But this is clearly an all-out fight for the Ukrainians. President Zelensky dismissing this Russian claim that they are only targeting military installations.
He has said that it is clear that they are going after everything. He said last night was brutal, not a single target that the Russians consider unacceptable. And as a result, Zelensky has issued this call to arms, not just for every Ukrainian who is able to fight, but now also saying that they are creating an international legion so that anybody who wants to come from abroad can also join this fight against Russia -- Boris, Christi.
PAUL: Alex Marquardt, do take good care of you and your crew there. Thank you.
Now, he was just mentioning Russian vehicles entering the city of Kharkiv, that Ukraine's second largest city. Officials are urging residents, stay in shelters. Don't travel anywhere, because the fighting is happening in the streets.
SANCHEZ: We want to take you to Kharkiv now and CNN Prima reporter Darja Stomatova who appears to be the last foreign TV reporter in that area, as this firefight is happening.
Darja, you and your cameraman are holed up inside your hotel in a makeshift shelter. Walk us through what you're experiencing and what's happening where you are.
DARJA STOMATOVA, CNN PRIMA REPORTER: Good morning, and thank you for having me.
Yes, and as you can see, we are currently in the hotel, in the coffee place which is connected to the hotel. All the windows are secured right now, as you can see with the wooden desks, all the doors are closed, and also the local people who are staying here with us just moved stuff back to the lobby, to a place with no windows, because there would be more danger in case of attack.
What we hear from outside, from time to time, we hear loud gunshots. Basically we think it should be the AK-47, Kalashnikov, and also we hear artillery, and around the city, we see the smoke.
PAUL: Darja, how many people are in the hotel with you? Can you gauge that and where they are?
STOMATOVA: Yeah, there is around 20 people, but of course we cannot show you the whole place because of the security. We don't know if someone is monitoring us or know where we are right now. So basically that's all what I can say right now.
PAUL: Understandably. Darja Stomatova, thank you so much. Please take good care of yourself, of your crew there. We're thinking of all of you.
SANCHEZ: Thank you, Darja.
PAUL: OK. Let's talk to Arwa Damon, because she's talking about the invasion that's creating the humanitarian crisis at Ukraine's border with Poland. More than 350,000 people are leaving Ukraine now.
Arwa, you've brought us such emotional stories from these people who are leaving fathers and brothers and husbands in Ukraine, because they have to stay and fight. What are you seeing there this morning? ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, it's
extraordinary, because every single person who you talk to, and I think this is important to remember, has their own unique, to a certain degree, experience of what it was like for them to have to say good-bye to those they love as they left them behind.
But it's not just that. We're right now at a reception center, and by the time the vast majority of these families actually get here, and you have some new arrivals over in this direction, the vast majority of them would have gone through days on the road. I'm talking about 36 to 48 hours walking and waiting out in the cold. The stories we're hearing about these overnights in these freezing temperatures, with no food, no water, no bathroom, with little children.
And then as they get closer to the actual border crossing from the sheer panic and the emotional agony of it all, it ends up largely being a free-for-all, with people just trying to push through just to cross over to the other side. Now, once they actually get here, they're met at these various different makeshift reception areas that have cropped up, either by family members, by friends. But then you also have this army of volunteers that right now is behind a police line, because there are so many of them.
And as these buses pull up, they'll hold up signs advertising locations that people who are arriving can get free rides to, locations where they can stay for free. So you do have this big sense of community once you actually hit this side, but none of that makes their experience any less agonizing.
We have met sisters, two sisters who left their father behind. We have met wives who are now trying to cope with all of the children, who left their husbands behind.
Some of whom have told their children, don't worry, daddy is going to be coming, not knowing if they were lying to their kids, or maybe, they hope, telling the truth. You see these parents trying to be so strong, still trying to be heroes for their children, doing all they can to mask their own fears and everything they're going through.
And earlier today, I just want to tell the story of one family who we met, because they were actually from Afghanistan. They had fled Afghanistan in May, ended up getting asylum in Ukraine, and now they had to flee again. And their trauma, their agony, their fear, they know what this is.
We've met families from Ukraine who have already been displaced more than once. A mother who was from the Donbas region, that area that was under separatist control, she had fled in 2014, only to find herself having to flee again.
What a lot of those coming across the border are telling us, though, is that what's happening on the other side, the difficulty of just getting to safety, that is something that has to be addressed. There has to be more organization there, because the temperatures are dropping, we're expecting rain, snow, and waiting outside the way they've been having to wait up until now is just going to become incredibly dangerous as well.
SANCHEZ: The makings of a humanitarian crisis in eastern Europe. Arwa Damon, we appreciate you taking us to the scene and walking us through that.
Let's go now live to Nic Robertson who is live for us in Moscow.
And, Nic, it seems like every day new sanctions are being placed on Russian banks, on oligarchs and officials close to the Kremlin. Just yesterday, the indication that the E.U. and the United States for Russia -- were ready to move certain Russian banks off of the SWIFT banking system.
Is there any indication that that's going to have an impact on those close to Vladimir Putin?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: It is. But is it actually going to be an impact that's going to make a difference to the way Russia is prosecuting the war, that's an open question at the moment. Perhaps the initial answer is no. Dmitry Medvedev, who's the deputy chairman of Russia's National Security Council, also a former president and prime minister, his view on this, because he now faces personal sanctions, he was sanction t at the end of last week, two or three days ago, this was before the SWIFT -- some Russian banks being removed from the SWIFT financial money transfer system, that his view was they aren't going to change, this isn't going to stop what Russia is doing. We can manage this.
Indeed, he went further. He said, look, this is the time now to put the padlocks on the embassies, to look at each other through field glasses and rifle scopes. So I think the initial reaction is just double down and keep fighting.
Russia, it's believed, has put aside huge slush fund, approximately $680 billion, and just a couple days ago the central bank was saying we could use that money to help the government with lending. We were going to be able to hold off some of the sanctions that were coming earlier last week. How these new sanctions are going to impact isn't clear.
What the government has been saying up until now, and they haven't spoken about SWIFT precisely yet, they say they will respond. They're figuring out how and what, and it will be reciprocal, but it may be asymmetrical. It's not quite clear what they mean asymmetrical. But it is likely that there's a response coming.
In the previous weeks, President Putin had indicated, his officials had indicated, if Russia was impacted by sanctions, they could take measures such as cutting off gas flows to Europe, oil flows to Europe. So these are among some of the measures. But Russia hasn't announced them yet and it does seem to be that they are caught by surprise. There was an indication from Russian officials previously that they thought they wouldn't be bit by the impact of being cut off from SWIFT. So Russia at the moment is still trying to figure out its way through
exactly what's happening, as well as trying to fight this campaign in Ukraine that's not going, perhaps, as well as they expected.
PAUL: Very good point. Nic Robertson, thank you so much.
Let's talk to "Washington Post" columnist Max Boot. He's also a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.
Max, it's so good to have you with us. I want to jump off a point that Nic was talking about when he talks about the sanctions and everything that's been done so far, and all of the countries that are now joining in this as well, Austria, Australia, Germany.
But you wrote part of an op-ed this week, you wrote this: I'm impatient with both those who insist that Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine is a stroke of genius and those who insist it is a historic blunder.
The truth is, we don't know which it will be. That will depend on what the people of Ukraine and the nations of the West do to resist the war of aggression.
Again, as Nic was pointing out, we know what they've done with sanctions, but has the world's reaction to this, up to this point, surprised you as we're in day four of this conflict? I want you to, if you would, just assess the potential of how you think this could end for Ukraine based on the world's reaction thus far.
MAX BOOT, COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, there's no question that the world's reaction has been very strong. Putin is turning Russia into a pariah state. I don't think there has been this kind of global outrage since 9/11. I mean, this is a non provoked war of aggression, there's no excuse for it. I think people are incredibly upset with Russia, and incredibly heartened by the kind of resistance they are seeing from Ukrainians led by President Zelensky.
And so I think that's creating this climate where countries in Europe, Germany in particular, are changing policies that they have had for decades, and all of a sudden they're willing to impose sanctions, Germany is raising defense spending. This is a sea change in policy from the West, and I think a lot of it is just motivated by outrage at Russia and admiration for the brave stand that Ukrainians are taking.
All that said, that doesn't mean that Russia is going to lose. We don't know what's going to happen. The Ukrainians have been heroically defending their cities right now, and they continue to do so, but they are facing a massive Russian war machine, and so even though Russia is losing the information war, it's quite possible that they will still win the war on the ground.
PAUL: Yeah, and we will be watching that, because there does seem to be some amping up from Russia this morning, based on what we're hearing from border reporters there. You wrote, also, in the article, thoroughly laying out the timeline of
Putin's attacks. The Chechnya of 1999, of Georgia in 2008, of Crimea in 2014. Comparatively, was this attack on Ukraine, do you think -- even though they're amping up today, some sort of miscalculation on Putin's part, not only in the gauge of how determined Ukraine would be to fight back, but in how the world would turn on Russia?
BOOT: I think it is quite possible that Putin has miscalculated, that he has been made reckless and cocky and over-confident by his long history of military success, going all the way back to his war against Chechnya in 1999, his invasion of Georgia in 2008, his previous invasion of Ukraine in 2014, his invasion of Georgia in 2015. None of those have created the kind of blowback that he's seeing in Ukraine. He has never faced a military as large or as modern as the Ukrainian army.
And he also, I don't think, expected that the entire people of Ukraine would rise up against them, because I think there is a tendency for a dictator like Putin, who has been on the throne for 20 years, to be very isolated and start drinking his own Kool-Aid, and perhaps he imagined that the people of Ukraine would welcome Russian troops as liberators from the neo-Nazis and drug addicts who rule over them.
I mean, this is just rhetoric which is so unhinged, so delusional and so removed from reality, and I think what you're seeing is that Ukrainians are willing to risk their lives, in fact, are giving up their lives to defend their homes. You're seeing this mass mobilization of ordinary people taking up AK-47s, making Molotov cocktails, getting ready to fight. Russians are not being greeted as liberators.
So I think there's no question that this invasion so far is not living up to Putin's expectations.
PAUL: And as you pointed out, we don't know what will happen, but I want to ask you one last question. We are coming out of two years of COVID. President Putin had time in that timeframe, I guess, to plan this. We've had many analysts say they believe this was a plan that has been in place and has been developed over the last few years.
How do you think COVID has shape the reaction from Ukrainians to what's happening, and how it may frame what happens from this point forward?
BOOT: Well, I'm not sure what the impact of COVID is on Ukrainians, but I don't think the impact of COVID has been positive on Putin, because it's led him to become even more isolated than he was in the past. And you're seeing that even when he meets foreign leaders they're sitting at different sides of a very long table, and this was always a danger for a dictator who has been in power for a long time, to be isolated from reality, to be insulated from critical thinking.
And I think this is a real problem for Putin, that because of COVID he's become more isolated than ever. And so it's not clear that he has really weighed the risks and costs of his plan of operation, and you saw a few days before the invasion began last week, there was this parody of consultation in the Kremlin where Putin demanded that all of his advisers get up and approve what he is doing.
And clearly anybody who spoke out against him could not expect to stay in the circle long and might not expect to stay alive for long. So I think this is -- there's a sense that Putin is just very isolated and not very much in touch with reality, and it's terrifying because this is a person who commands a large military, the world's largest nuclear arsenal and there's kind of a sense that COVID has made him more isolated and more out of touch with reality.
PAUL: And I just wonder if the anxiety that so many of us have felt through COVID, if that has actually emboldened the Ukrainian people to say we've just been through this, we're fighting even harder now.
Max Boot, great piece there in the "Washington Post." hope people can go read it. Thank you so much for your perspective. We appreciate it.
BOOT: Thank you.
SANCHEZ: Coming up, the United States, the European Union and Canada are expelling Russian banks from SWIFT. How will Vladimir Putin react to new sanctions? We'll be right back.
PAUL: Twenty-five minutes past the hour right now.
The U.S. and its allies are moving to cut off certain Russian banks from a key system used by financial institutions around the world.
SANCHEZ: CNN's Natasha Bertrand is live for us from Brussels, Belgium.
And, Natasha, this is just one step that Western allies of Ukraine are taking. What else can they do?
NATASHA BERTRAND, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: That's right. So it's not the end of the financial penalties here that the U.S. and the West are going to impose on Russia in response to its aggression toward Ukraine. They did caught off a certain number of Russian banks from that SWIFT international payment system, but apparently not all the banks from that system. They still could move further and cut off more banks from the system that allows Russia to essentially conduct financial transactions with banks around the world.
They also have sanctioned the central bank, the Russian central bank, and that indicates that that bank will be severely limited in the assets that it can actually access. But, again, there are many other financial institutions and banks that the U.S. and the west could actually target here, depending on how Russia's aggression toward Ukraine continues to escalate. All of these sanctions, we're told, have been calibrated based on what
Russia has been doing on the ground and that is why we've seen them come in waves here. As Russia's escalation in Ukraine has continued to escalate, has continued to kind of metastasize there, they have continued to impose harsher and harsher sanctions on Russia.
And that is on purpose, right? They have wanted this to be a deterrent. They have now said they hope this is going to allow the Russians essentially to be cut off from those payments and then they will not be able to sustain this massive military operation that they have been conducting in Ukraine.
So, still a lot more to come here. We're told it is a remarkable level of coordination we've seen in response to this war.
PAUL: Natasha Bertrand, we appreciate it. Thank you very much.
SANCHEZ: More explosions are being heard across Kyiv right now. We're going to show you how Ukrainians are fighting back against the Russians, making weapons at home, when we come back.
Stay with us.
SANCHEZ: As Russia invades Ukraine, we're seeing the impact their offensive is having on the civilians in their path. Now, thousands are grappling with the aftermath of a Kyiv residential block which was apparently struck by a missile or rocket.
PAUL: And thousands more are vowing to resist Russia in any way they can.
Here's CNN's chief international correspondent, Clarissa Ward.
CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A man stands on his balcony, looking out at a new reality, just hours after a missile slammed into his apartment building. It was 8:00 a.m. when the projectile hit, destroying parts of the 22nd and 23rd floors. According to Ukrainian authorities, two people were killed.
Officials here say it was a Russian strike. Russia's Ministry of Defense claimed it was a Ukrainian anti-aircraft missile that went awry. Whoever was responsible, this is what happens when war comes to a major city. Homes and lives are destroyed.
At the city's central train station, a frantic dash, as people try to escape to the west of the country.
Step back, the train conductor says, step back. She tells the crowd to leave their bags to make room for more people. So, she's just said that women and children can get on the train. You
can see people pushing to get on. They've got pets, their babies, and they're trying to get on this train to get out of here.
Ukraine's railway services say they are evacuating 5,000 people a day from Kyiv, and every single space is precious. It's full, the conductor tells her.
Inside the carriage, it's standing room only. A woman waves good-bye to her family. Who knows when she will be able to return? Her daughter Tamara has made the tough decision to stay behind.
For many people it will be hard to understand how brave you are to stay here and not to try to leave and get somewhere safe.
TAMARA BAKOVA, KYIV RESIDENT: It's not brave. You should just understand, it's my city, my hometown, my country, and I'm not the one who should leave. The Russians are the ones who should leave, and I wouldn't leave this city.
WARD: Do you think many people are like you and they're ready to do everything they can to get Russia out?
BAKOVA: I'm not thinking. I know.
WARD: This is the sort of extraordinary resistance Russia is facing here.
One hundred miles northeast of Kyiv, a man tries to block a Russian tank. He kneels in front of it, determined to stop it in its tracks.
And for a brief moment, he does, before the column pushes on towards the capital.
Clarissa Ward, CNN, Kyiv.
PAUL: Clarissa, thank you.
Well, political division, sky-high prices and international crisis. President Biden is getting ready to deliver his State of the Union Address to the American people. Obviously, he's facing major challenges, both here and abroad.
We do have a quick programming note for you. Tonight, be sure to watch a special CNN report on conspiracy theorist Alex Jones. Could he be a threat to American democracy? Here's a preview.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How do you describe him to people who don't know him? How do you explain him to folks who have never seen anyone this crazy? ANNOUNCER: Alex Jones, once on the fringes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He could turn his tongue black was if he were possessed.
ANNOUNCER: Now, the king of conspiracy theories.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The QAnon group, the anti-vaxxers, he's the foundation of all this stuff.
ANNOUNCER: Could he be a threat to American democracy?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is a war for your mind.
ANNOUNCER: Can he be stopped?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everything that was supposed to destroy him catapulted him to a higher level.
ANNOUNCER: Go inside his misinformation empire.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How does he get his news, how does he decide what goes on that show or who does?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It all comes from Jones' brain.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He will just lie, straight-up lie.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's like a far-right QVC.
ANNOUNCER: CNN talks to those who know him best.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's not like you or me.
ANNOUNCER: CNN special report, "MEGAPHONE FOR CONSPIRACY: THE ALEX JONES STORY", tonight at 10:00.
SANCHEZ: We're going to continue bringing you the very latest from the front lines in Ukraine, but for now we're going to turn to the situation here at home. President Biden preparing to address Congress and the nation on Tuesday, as he faces a pivotal moment in his presidency.
Here to discuss that moment and more, CNN political commentators, Maria Cardona and Alice Stewart. Maria is a Democratic strategist and Alice is a Republican strategist.
Maria, starting with you, the State of the Union coming at a difficult time for president Biden. There are slumping approval numbers, intense division in the United States. Pair that with Russian aggression in Ukraine, the skyrocketing price of gas, the lingering issues caused by the pandemic as well.
Can President Biden realistically try to change perceptions with this one speech?
MARIA CARDONA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, he certainly is going to try, and you're right, this comes at a unique challenge, but with unique challenges we also know come unique opportunities. And that is the case for this president. I think what he needs to do is he needs to talk to the American people about the moment that we are finding ourselves in right now, both domestically, as well as internationally. He should talk about the massive things, accomplishments he was able to do this past year, massive job creation, job growth, low unemployment, huge growth in GDP, rising wages, savings for the American people.
But he also needs to talk about the fact that the American people are feeling huge challenges in their pocketbooks with the inflation, with coming out of the pandemic, with supply chains as a result of that global pandemic, and what he's going to continue to do, along with Democrats, and hopefully Republicans who have done nothing to help the American people up until now, make sure to meet those challenges head- on.
And he should also take this opportunity, Boris, to unite the American people with what is going on in Ukraine, and frankly, prepare them that things could get worse, especially at the gas pump, because of what the Russian aggression is causing, and bring everyone together to focus on the solutions ahead.
SANCHEZ: And, Alice, how do Republicans thread that needle in trying to keep balance between going into a midterm election here and also appearing unified before a world that is potentially on the precipice of a broader war?
ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, that's an excellent aspect of this. Look, the Republicans are unified in one thing, is that the Biden administration and its policies have not worked and they're not successful, and that is going to help them in the midterm elections.
Look, I feel for President Biden as he makes the state of the union address. If you remember, the last joint session of Congress his speech, he said, our country is ready for liftoff. A year later, we have a failure to launch.
He has not followed through on many of the campaign promises he made to the American people, specifically with regard to build back better. Fortunately that has not worked, but for his constituency, his special social spending agenda has not passed. He has not put COVID in the rearview mirror, he has not unified the country, which was a cornerstone of his campaign, he has not worked on improving the inflation. We have historic inflationary numbers that are not transitory, these are long-term numbers, and it doesn't appear to be getting any better. Not to mention we have the crisis at the border, rising crime and education issues. And, look, these are just domestic issues. The national security and
the foreign issues are abysmal, with the withdrawal from Afghanistan and now what we're seeing with the Russian war. And if you remember, when he was campaigning, he talked about Vladimir Putin, saying that he would fear him, he would respect him, and Biden's policies would put an end to the tyranny in Russia. That hasn't happened. Ask the people of Ukraine.
And even Obama's former adviser Ben Rhodes says that the Biden administration foreign policies are not working.
They're only working to embolden Vladimir Putin.
So he's going to have a difficult time in the State of the Union trying to reassure the country about the State of the Union. But rest assured, Republicans are unified moving forward against these policies and that's going to be a big impact and an asset as we move to the midterms.
SANCHEZ: Alice, I want to pivot to Marjorie Taylor Greene and Paul Gosar, two Republican lawmakers that attended an event hosted by a white nationalist who was joking about a favorable comparison between Vladimir Putin and Hitler. Greene defended her appearance by saying, quote, I'm not going to play the guilt by association game in which you demand that any conservative should justify anything by anyone they've ever shared a room with.
Shouldn't conservatives be more concerned about who they're sharing a room with?
STEWART: Look, Marjorie Taylor Greene is far from the face and voice of the Republican Party. Her comments in this situation and oftentimes are ludicrous and out of sync with not just Republicans, but the voice of this country. So using her as a voice of the party is absurd.
Everyone can look at what's going on with Russia and everyone can see that Vladimir Putin is a dictator, he certainly has bigger plans ahead, and what we need to do is not focus on outlying voices of any party and work on the foreign policy experts and what we can do to stop him.
And I think imposing sanctions sooner would have been better, and now more fierce. But certainly unifying with our NATO allies and showing a united front against Vladimir Putin is where the attention and direction of this country needs to be.
SANCHEZ: Maria, we'll give you time for a quick response.
CARDONA: You know, Boris, actually, Marjorie Taylor Greene seems to be in the mainstream of the Republican Party --
STEWART: No, she's not.
CARDONA: -- as what she does is parrot the Republican Party's leader, Donald Trump. And that is the challenge for Republicans moving forward.
Look, I love Alice, but her answers just now completely proved my point. She never said anything about what Republicans will help do for the American people now, the American people who are facing these inflationary pressures that are not the fault of Joe Biden. He and Democrats have tried to do everything to continue to pass policies that help middle-class voters, that actually help working-class voters, with no help from Republicans.
But now, Joe Biden is going to continue to unify the country, as much as he has been challenged by Republicans who only want to close the door on anything he wants to do and have completely slapped the face of the American people with zero policies that will help them economically, but now is the time to unify because of the huge challenges, not just here at home, but abroad.
And we need to focus on unity as a country to show people like Vladimir Putin that his aggression against democracy will not stand, even though the last person who was in the White House did nothing but coddle him and tell him that he was his best friend and he understands him, and even today you have that same leader, Donald Trump, giving Vladimir Putin kudos and telling him that he's brilliant. That is what we do not want in a party, that is what we do not want in a leader and that's what Republicans are offering.
SANCHEZ: Maria Cardona, Alice Stewart, always appreciate a healthy debate between the two of you. Unfortunately, that's all the time we have. But I'm sure we'll get to do it again very soon.
Thank you, ladies. Appreciate your time.
CARDONA: Gracias, Boris.
STEWART: Thanks, Boris.
SANCHEZ: Of course.
Stay with CNN. We're back with the latest from Ukraine after this.
SANCHEZ: It seems like very many pockets of the world are protesting Russia's invasion of Ukraine. I want to show you some live pictures you are seeing right here. This is out of Berlin, Germany. An anti-war protest going on right now.
As you can see flags, the signs, the people, so close together. And many -- it looks like they are still wearing masks.
The organizers say thousands are expected to attend. It looks as though -- look how expansive this view is. It is full of people. In Brussels, in fact, again, that's live going on right now. Want to
show you in Brussels yesterday. Protesters chanted demands for peace outside the Russian embassy. That was Brussels.
Let's go to India. Students were discharged calling for Russia to leave Ukraine.
SANCHEZ: CNN's Polo Sandoval is in New York where demonstrators overtook Times Square yesterday. Here is a look at that demonstration.
POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESSPONDENT: This weekend, we saw Ukrainian Americans throughout the United States coming together hoping to send a message half a world away. A demonstration, a peaceful rally that we witnessed here in Times Square on Saturday.
The message was twofold. One of them was certainly standing in solidarity with the people of Ukraine. But also, calling on the United States and other nations to do more to try to restore peace in Ukraine. In that sea of blue and yellow, we met a young mother who initially fled Ukraine's capital city in 2014 after the initial Russian invasion.
This is what she had to say as we had a conversation with her yesterday.
OLGA YARIGAL, PROTESTING RUSSIAN INVASION: I see the whole world needs to unite, because this is -- the history always repeats. Now is the time to stop. It was the same thing when the Second World War started.
But now is the time to say no and to stop one person who keeps in fear the whole world.
SANDOVAL: Something that was also notable is we also heard from Russian Americans during yesterday's demonstration, including one 31- year-old New Yorker who was originally born in St. Petersburg as he was participating and protesting for. It is a pro-Ukrainian rally. It's certainly not lost on him he has seen several Russians arrested for doing the same thing he was doing here on Saturday -- guys.
PAUL: Polo Sandoval, thank you so much. It's rough out there, I know. I hope you go make good memories today.
SANCHEZ: We appreciate you starting your morning with us. Don't go anywhere, because "INSIDE POLITICS WITH ABBY PHILLIP" is up after a quick break. Have a great rest of your weekend.