Return to Transcripts main page
Quest Means Business
Putin Signs Decree to Recognize Ukrainian Separatist Regions; White House Downplays Possibility of Biden-Putin Summit; Britain`s Queen Elizabeth Tests Positive for COVID; NATO Chiefs Condemns Russia`s Recognition Of Separatist States In Ukraine; Closing Ceremony Caps Games Full Of Triumph, Heartbreak. Aired 3-4p ET
Aired February 21, 2022 - 15:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.
RICHARD QUEST, CNN BUSINESS ANCHOR: Good evening, I`m Richard Quest bringing you tonight`s breaking news.
President Vladimir Putin of Russia has tonight signed a decree recognizing two separatists regions in the east of Ukraine. The President took this
step after a long, historical, televised address to the country, where he called Ukraine an integral part of Russia.
Russia has been amassing troops near Ukraine`s borders for weeks, it`s believed it is nearly 200,000 troops. A map on your screen shows where the
separatists controlled territory sits, it`s in the east of the country. It is in Luhansk and the Donetsk region. Obviously, there you can see the
hatched lines, which is where the fighting currently taking place is between the Russian-backed separatists, and indeed, Ukraine forces.
President Putin`s address from the Kremlin was laced with historical grievances. He said Ukraine was a creation of Bolshevik Russia.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): There is just no independent Ukraine. Ukraine just follows any Western demands. Ukraine has
given up their own right to choose their own judges and via the U.S. Embassy, U.S. Embassy directly controls national anti-corruption agency,
anti-corruption bureau and the their specialized prosecutor`s office and judges office.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUEST: The benchmark MOEX Russia index closed down one and a half percent today, amid the rising tensions.
Clarissa Ward is in Kyiv, which is where our coverage begins tonight. We`ve got a history lesson as seen from Moscow concerning Ukraine. Before we talk
about that, I just want to focus in if, I may, Clarissa on the actual acknowledgement or at least recognition of these regions.
Is this -- forgive the sort of crudeness of my phrase, but is this the salami slicing? Is this well, we`ll take this first and then we`ll move on
CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think if you listen to his speech, Richard, that becomes the real concern, because going
into the speech, we understood that he had made up his mind to recognize those two breakaway Republics as independent, but actually what he did in
that 57-minute history lesson, as you say, in which he outlined historical grievances accused NATO of having pulled the wool over Russia`s eyes,
accused the Ukrainian military of launching a blitzkrieg in the Donbas region was essentially potentially laying the groundwork for something much
more expansive than just recognizing the independence of those two regions.
He finished his speech with some rather ominous words. He says, "We demand an immediate cessation of hostilities, otherwise, all continued bloodshed
will be entirely on the conscience of the regime ruling," the regime referring to the government here in Ukraine who he elsewhere, referred to
as a colony with a puppet regime.
I think a lot of people Richard, had been expecting this to be a sort of series of perfunctory remarks essentially saying that the recognition was
in play and that the Parliament should go ahead and ratify it.
But instead, as we heard, it became much more expansive than that, and I think for many analysts and Russia watchers listening, much more sinister -
QUEST: The phrase that hit me when he was speaking is Ukraine has never been a nation. I mean, he goes on to describe how Lenin carved it out, but
saying Ukraine has never been its own nation, is de facto telling us and it is not about to remain one anymore.
WARD: I think too many people that could be read that way. He was undermining the very idea of the existence of Ukraine as a sovereign
nation, and in doing so, it appears that he could be laying the groundwork for something much more pernicious than just recognizing these two
Republics, because the real question now becomes, does he move troops or does he move tanks into those Republics? If they go and ask Moscow for
help, which becomes entirely possible, or does he simply try to use this as leverage at the negotiating table, as the diplomatic process continues?
From the Ukrainian perspective, Richard, we`ve heard on a tweet from President Volodymyr Zelensky, he said that he has talked to the President
of the U.S., Joe Biden, that he is scheduled to speak to the Prime Minister -- the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson later on and that he is in
meetings now with his National Security and Defense counsel.
But Ukrainians tonight will certainly be looking at this and watching that speech with a feeling I would think for many of them have real dread,
because it opens up a huge can of worms about what could be to come.
QUEST: Now, finally, I just -- I`d like to get your take on this. The recognition of these two regions, it stops that. Is that locus sufficient,
if you will, for Biden and the West to start introducing sanctions?
If not a tank rolls over, but there is just continuation of guerrilla warfare and recognition, isn`t that the tricky moment?
WARD: And that is what is so interesting when you watch President Putin with his very legalistic manner. He is always trying to capitalize on the
gray areas, right? So the U.S. and NATO have been very clear about what would happen if there was any kind of intervention militarily into
Ukrainian territory, but they haven`t been as clear or as decisive about what would happen if he simply recognized the independence of these
Now, my colleague, Scott McLean, earlier on spoke to Josep Borrell of the E.U. who said that in the case of recognition, but no annexation, that he
would present a series of sanctions to E.U. Ministers for them to vote on.
But clearly, that sort of decisive, unified response that NATO and the U.S. have been gearing up for is a little bit more in question when it comes to
the issue of recognition with no annexation or military intervention.
And so it`ll be very interesting to see, presumably, in the coming hours, how the U.S. and European allies respond to this latest salvo by President
QUEST: Clarissa, thank you. It`s late there. You`ve got long -- many more hours, I fear well into the night. Thank you for joining us.
Now, it is another question for Daniel Fried, the former Assistant U.S. Secretary of State for Europe with me from Washington. You heard me talking
to Clarissa there, Daniel, what do you think? What do you think, if -- does recognition, per se, activate the most serious form of sanctions, because
if it doesn`t, and you end up with wishy-washy sanctions and eventually everybody gets tired and goes home.
DANIEL FRIED, FORMER U.S. ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE FOR EUROPE: That is exactly the danger, and the Biden administration has been wrestling with
this kind of a scenario for about a month.
As far as I know, the administration and Europe had geared up very powerful sanctions in the U.S. to launch a full hour invasion. They were never as
clear -- the Europeans and Biden team was never as clear, even to itself, what it would do in case of a lesser aggression.
Putin is very good at judging the trigger points, and he has come in with an aggression wrapped in hysterical 20th Century desperate language, but
his action falls short of what we said would trigger the heaviest sanctions.
So what do we do? I think the administration should hit the Russians. There are -- there is sufficient escalatory sanctions. If we could hit them in a
way that shows -- in a way that hurts, but not in a way that uses up all our leverage, but the Biden administration will have to wrestle with this
in the next 24 hours.
QUEST: Can it keep Europe together? Now, you know, we know that the new administration in Berlin is being deliberately coy because I think Scholz
doesn`t want to give his hand away. He wants the flexibility, which is being interpreted as weakness in some areas, but the united nature of NATO
could fracture on this lesser moved by Putin.
FRIED: NATO will not fracture. It will defend NATO`s Eastern members. No doubt. The question is whether the U.S., the E.U. and Britain can come up
with a sanctions package strong enough to push back on Putin where it hurts, and not so strong that we fracture.
I think we do need to hit him. This is the Putin playbook. And by the way, it`s no surprise. Lots of us were predicting this kind of a move, but it`s
not necessarily the end, which is the trouble
QUEST: Right, so just jumping in on that, if he does -- let`s say -- so we`ve got the recognition of the two eastern provinces, now let`s say he
moves forces into these provinces and the sanctions come into play, the harder sanctions, is it still your view that actually, Putin wants the
whole of Ukraine? Or do you think there`s a hypothetical chance he would stop at what he`s got?
FRIED: Ah, but that`s not the way to frame the problem. Of course, he wants control over all of Ukraine, but he is not going to try to take it
all at once. He could take a piece now, and then keep squeezing Ukraine, and put on the economic pressure, try to find fissures in the West. And so
crush the independent spirit, and put in his own people without an invasion.
Putin`s aims won`t change. He hates the very idea of a Ukrainian nation, and he won`t want to crush it, but his tactics may change, and I fear
that`s what we`re in for.
QUEST: So, in this scenario, which is exceptionally dangerous, and very difficult. Why is he doing it? I mean, we are just -- you know, I was
talking at dinner over the weekend, we are just coming out of a pandemic. Everybody is exhausted and I assume everybody in Russia -- well, I was
there recently, and they`re all exhausted, too.
The last thing any of us needed or wanted, was this.
FRIED: Right you are. Putin has a nationalist agenda. He is following the playbook of, shall we say politely, early 20th Century dictators. He is
serious. He means it, but he has significant weaknesses.
The Russian people probably don`t want a full scale war against their Ukrainian ethnic cousins. Europe is united against his aggression. Yes,
we`ve been discussing the tactical problems of the Westerner fronts, and those are tough, and the danger exists.
But Putin has significant strategic cynicism, and we in the West should keep that in mind, a corrupt hypocrisy, that rules through fear and
assassination is no match for the democracies if we get our act together.
QUEST: Daniel, wonderful coming on -- I say wonderful, we are very grateful to have you on the program.
FRIED: I thank you`re wonderful about it.
QUEST: That`s what I mean. I apologize for my inopportune words, but you know what I mean, it was good to have your analysis, and I`m grateful.
Thank you, sir.
FRIED: Thanks for the opportunity.
QUEST: Thank you, we will talk again.
So the ball is kicked to Washington, and the White House is now downplaying the chances of President Biden holding a Summit with Vladimir Putin, only
if Russia avoids a military clash with Ukraine and we`re hearing otherwise.
Let`s go to the White House. Kaitlan Collins is with us.
Now, Kaitlan, hopefully, you were listening to a little bit of some of that and you now see, the issue for President Biden. Now, first of all, do we
have any form of early reaction on the recognition of the two eastern provinces? And secondly, have they previously speculated what their
position would be if this were done?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: First on the reaction, we do know that President Biden has spoken to Ukrainian President
Zelensky since this happened. Obviously, President Putin`s speech is something that is being closely monitored here in Washington and in Kyiv as
The question, of course, now is how they respond publicly to the actions that Putin has taken by recognizing these two breakaway Ukrainian regions
as Independent Republics.
And so, we haven`t gotten an official response from the White House yet. Obviously, we have effort in one, and this is something that you`ve heard
officials talk about being in the playbook that they could see Russia doing, trying to use this as an attempt to justify an invasion.
But it`s still not fully clear what the response would be if this triggers those sanctions and the prepared consequences that the White House and the
rest of the West have warned about, if Russia does go into Ukraine, because the question really has been if Putin takes it bit by bit as you were just
talking about there, what is the U.S. response?
And what really crosses the line for them? Because of course before they talked about it in conventional terms of tanks going across the border,
planes going across as well.
QUEST: Kaitlan, obviously a-full scale war is the worst scenario for obviously for humanitarian reasons. But if you just look at it from a
diplomatic and strategic, has the White House now been put in almost the most tricky, not difficult, tricky areas, because now it has to decide how
to lead the coalitions, but there`s been no full scale invasion.
COLLINS: Well, and that`s been kind of the tough aspect of this that they have talked about behind the scenes because not everyone is on the same
page when it comes to consequences.
The White House says yes, we are unified that there will be consequences, but if you`re in Italy or Germany you have a different measure of what you
think warrants a response, I believe.
And so that is going to be the big question for them. I don`t think that this is going to be completely surprising to them. Of course, it is
something that you saw Russian Parliament had been talking about, this is in defiance of U.S. warnings about what Russia should and should not do
with Putin signing this.
And so I do think it will have to, although there would be some kind of response from the White House. But what exactly that looks like and
whether, as you noted there, they can keep all of the allies on the same page is going to be a big factor in this because that is some momentum that
you don`t think the White House wants to lose, which is keeping all of these allies combined, especially when it comes to NATO, and responding to
Russia, because that has been of course, what Russia has tried to do, weaken NATO, destabilize it.
Now, the White House has argued they`ve done the opposite here by putting 190,000 Russian personnel in and around Ukraine, saying that that has
actually unified them. So I do think it`s a big question of how everyone responds and we should note, the President of the European Commission
called what Putin did just now signing these decrees a blatant violation of international law.
QUEST: Kaitlan, thank you.
There`ll be hours and hours of work ahead and we`re grateful that you were with us. Thank you for joining us, Kaitlan Collins at the White House.
It`s a special QUEST MEANS BUSINESS tonight. Obviously, we`re following on the major events of the day, the breaking news tonight.
Also news to bring you, Buckingham Palace says Her Majesty, the Queen, is continuing to work after she tested positive for COVID. The British
government at the same time is moving to end all COVID restrictions.
We will be live in Windsor.
QUEST: The British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has lifted all remaining coronavirus restrictions in England, even as critics call the move
Boris Johnson call it "The Living with COVID Plan" a short time ago, and from Thursday, people who test positive will no longer be required to self-
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: When the pandemic began, we had little knowledge of this virus and none about the vaccines and the
treatments we have today.
So there was no option, but to use government regulations to protect our N.H.S. and save lives, but those restrictions on our liberties have brought
grave costs to our economy, our society, and the chances of our children.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUEST: Now, this comes a day after the Queen tested positive for the virus. The Palace says she has mild cold-like symptoms and will continue
QUEST: Max Foster is with me from Windsor. We`ll talk about Boris Johnson in a moment, Max, and bring me up to date with the situation with Her
MAX FOSTER, CNN LONDON CORRESPONDENT: Rather unfortunate timing that announcement really because the Queen under the current guidelines has to
self-isolate until Thursday because she tested positive, which she did do yesterday. So as we understand it, she`s in isolation.
She does have symptoms. They`re mild symptoms, though, you`ll remember as well, Richard, last week, she was meeting some senior members of the
military and she was unable to move, she`s also got a mobility issue. So, it`s pretty tough being in there on our own, nearly 96 years old.
But as is her style, keep calm and carry on. She is at her desk. She is carrying out light duties as Buckingham Palace calls it. So today, she sent
a letter of condolence, for example, to the people of Brazil, over those tragic floods, really showing -- that is the messaging we`re getting
really, Richard, from the Palace.
You know, she is carrying on her work. We`ll keep you updated on that, but we are not going to give you a commentary on her medical developments, as
it were. That`s a private matter. But they`re trying to -- but you understand that the public needs some updates as to how she is doing.
QUEST: Right now, Boris Johnson, let`s talk about this. So he`s not saying if you`ve got COVID, go back to work and get back on the bus and all of
that, but he is saying what? That there`s no legal requirement, you`re not expected to use your own commonsense.
FOSTER: Yes. There is massive confusion really about ultimately what it means in the U.K. See there were actually quite strict laws around lockdown
and quarantining after you tested positive. All those laws are being repealed now, and he is trying to move to a system of self-responsibility,
really. So he is comparing it actually, he talked about flu today saying, it`s like flu, you have to take responsibility, make the decisions that you
feel are right, but you`re not by law expected to be at home.
That obviously raise all sorts of questions amongst employers about what they should do, and what`s the best thing for their workforce and what sort
of guidelines they should come up with.
Until April, the government advices, at least, you should try and stay at home to begin with, but after April, you can pretty much do as you like.
There is also this issue over testing, they`re going to end free tests for people.
So when you say once you`ve tested positive for COVID, you don`t have to isolate, the question is, are you even going to be testing for COVID? So
there`s a lot of questions outstanding, the leader of the opposition, saying this is less -- you know, this is more about ignoring COVID rather
than living with COVID as Boris Johnson likes to describe it.
QUEST: Max Foster, who is at Windsor for us tonight. Max, I thank you, sir.
Australia is another country that is also loosening restrictions and welcoming back vaccinated visitors. I love these pictures. You see them,
particularly Australia, which was closed for so long, two years and just sheer unbridled joy and love as people were able to get back tourists and
other people able to go to Australia for the first time in years.
Now, the country of course has had some of the world`s strictest travel rules and now compare it to what`s happening in Hong Kong, which is trying
to contain a fifth wave of the virus.
Hong Kong has reported more than 7,500 new COVID infections on Monday, and that`s a new record for the city of some seven million people. And of
course, the pressure is coming from China to maintain the zero COVID policy.
The Secretary General of the O.E.C.D. told me this morning, inflation in western economies is one of the challenges linked to the swift recovery
from the pandemic.
I talked to Mathias Cormann exclusively about what the developed world should be doing next.
MATHIAS CORMANN, SECRETARY-GENERAL, O.E.C.D.: Some of the challenges we`re dealing with at the moment are actually directly related to the fact that
the recovery was so strong and so rapid, and the demand recovered so quickly that supply -- changing composition of demand that the supply was
not able to keep up.
So many of the pressures that we`re dealing with at the moment are directly related to the strength of the recovery and the speed of the recovery, but
there are always going to be downside risks to be managed. The biggest one, of course, being further waves of infection and indeed, the new variants of
QUEST: What`s your biggest message, if you will, at this point for the advanced economies who are now having to negotiate inflation for the first
time in decades?
CORMANN: Well, the first message is we`ve got to stay on top of the health situation and we`ve got to do everything we can to ensure that we minimize
public health impact from the pandemic. The pandemic is not behind us, we need to continue to focus on getting as many people across the world as
possible, vaccinated and boosted as quickly as possible.
When it comes to fiscal and monetary policy, we need to ease out of elevated levels of support gradually, and in a way that is carefully
calibrated and carefully planned and well-communicated.
It`s very important that the policy makers and leaders from around the world continue to talk to each other and work closely with each other and
coordinate the policy approaches internationally, and that is why for the G-20 and others, they are so important to ensure that there is the best
possible approach to optimize the strength and quality of the recovery.
I mean, the theme of the Indonesian G-20 presidency, Recover Together, Recover Stronger is a very appropriate theme for the times.
QUEST: The reality though is very different. We have not recovered together and whether we attempt to be stronger together, the mere fact that
the developing world is still crying out for vaccines, whilst the developed world has hoarded and boosted and done everything they possibly could now,
the situation may be getting better. But we seem to have learned nothing about the importance of helping others.
CORMANN: Well, recover together and recover stronger is a very important aspiration and it is a very important statement of purpose, and it is one
that the international community needs to continue to focus on, including and in particular through a fora like the G-20.
I mean, again, I mean, we can focus on all of the things that could have and should have, we are better or we can focus on doing everything we can
to make them work better from here.
QUEST: What about debt, the overhang of debt that exists as a result of this? Now, for excellent reasons and valid reasons, countries have to
spend, no one disputes that. At what point does the O.E.C.D. believe it`s time for governments to start repairing their own balance sheets.
CORMANN: As soon as it is sensible, the countries need to revisit the opportunity for budget repair, for balance sheet repair, in order to build
up -- rebuild resilience for any future external shock, which is why we don`t know what the next external shock will be. We can be certain that
there will be a future external shock.
And there are of course, a whole range of structural challenges like climate change, like the digital transformation, like the ageing of the
population across large parts of the world that will continue to require fiscal firepower that we need to be rebuilt.
QUEST: Finally, I see your home country, Australia, has now reopened. Tourism is going to be back. There are some wonderful pictures of people
being able to go back home to Australia for the first time. Is there a feeling now that the end is in sight for this?
CORMANN: Well, I certainly think that across the world, the pandemic is continuing and downside risks remain, but the world has increasingly
learned to live with the virus and to manage, I guess, our daily lives in a way that is why not 100 percent safe, it is as COVID safe as possible.
I mean, vaccination rates across the world, while not high enough everywhere, are now very high in many parts of the world. And indeed, the
sort of risk management processes are not quite developed to enable the reopening of activity and the reopening of borders more broadly.
QUEST: There you have the O.E.C.D.
We`ve got a lot more. The escalation in the Ukraine crisis.
So now, President Putin has formally recognized the separatist regions. Will be in Moscow to understand what this means.
QUEST: Breaking news to bring to your attention tonight. Russian President Vladimir Putin has formally recognized two separatists regions of eastern
Ukraine. Less than an hour ago, he decreed the breakaway regions to be independent republics. You can see them on the screen here. The signing
ceremony followed a lengthy public address on Soviet and Ukrainian history.
Meanwhile, the Union -- the European Union`s top official foreign affairs colluded a blatant violation of international law. The German Chancellor
Scholz condemned the move as a breach of the Minsk agreement. The U.S. has yet to respond publicly on the events. Jill Dougherty is with me from
Moscow. Very difficult to know now, what is -- what to do if you are -- I mean, if you`re NATO has nothing to do because nobody`s moved over any
borders, and this, that and the other. But if you`re the politicians, what do you do?
JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN CONTRIBUTOR, RUSSIAN AFFAIRS: You know, I think, Richard, if what we knew today was that he was going to release late today
that he was going to recognize these two breakaway regions. But what he did, I think, in that speech is it went much further than just that issue.
I mean, he went on, in this very long speech, historically making the case that Ukraine really was created by ripping apart pieces of Russia.
And he went back to Lenin`s time and, you know, hundreds of years ago, and then he expanded it and talked about NATO. In other words, you know, what
he is saying, and he said it over and over again is that Russia is the one that is threatened. Russia is the one that is threatened by NATO. And that
NATO is using Ukraine as a weapon to get at Russia. So, I think what we`ve got here is probably, you know, a basis for something coming down the pike
that we don`t know yet.
QUEST: Right. Can I just get your take on this? And I`m throwing this to you blind. I`ve only just seen it myself. President Biden -- there`s a
White House statement that says the President will sign an executive order that would prohibit new investment trade and financing by U.S. persons to
and from or in the so called DNR and and our regions. Now, it imposes sanctions on anyone operating in this area, and it was announced additional
measures in today`s (INAUDIBLE) what it`s calling blatant violation of Russia`s international commitments.
These -- I mean, that was entirely exciting that they`re going to put some sanctions on a part of the country that may not have been doing that much
business with the U.S. anyway.
DOUGHERTY: Yes, Richard. I`d have to agree with you. I`m not quite sure where, you know, that goes. I doubt that there are many American business
people are doing anything with Luhansk and Donetsk People`s Republic. But again -- but, you know, this I think now we`re into watching the next step,
whatever that might be. And that step could be major because what President Putin is doing is he`s laying the basis for some very serious action. He,
you know, he recognizes these, but then what can happen?
QUEST: Right. Now, I`m not a scholar as you are on Russia and the Soviet Union. So, I`d like to understand from your perspective. Was he accurate?
It was a very long historical treatise on which got Lenin involved and Stalin, and then we had the breakup, and then this (INAUDIBLE) but as you
listen to it?Did you think, well, he`s rewriting history? Or did you think well, I`ve just about right, Ukraine has never been its own country?
DOUGHERTY: No, no, I think he`s definitely rewriting history. I mean, Ukraine is an independent country. It was part of the Soviet Union. It
became independent at the end of the Soviet Union. But Vladimir Putin is saying -- and don`t forget, you know, last summer, he wrote an enormous
tract, a treatise about this. He takes it very seriously. And you can see the emotion in what he said today.
So, he considers Ukraine not really a country. And so, you know, where do you go from there? That is the problem. And now he has definitely violated
the Minsk accords, which were those agreements that were supposed to try to bring some type of peace to that Donbass region where these two breakaway
regions are located. That`s out the window. That`s over because that, you know, taking this step violates that.
And certainly Ukraine at this point is going to say, well, you know, all bets are off. So, this is really serious, and much broader than just a
couple of breakaway regions.
QUEST: Jill Dougherty is in Moscow. Jill, thank you. Now, in the last few moments, the NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg has condemned Russia`s recognition
of the separatists states. Once he talks with me, a former -- the former NATO Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, the SACEUR and CNN military
analyst. General Clark, thank you, you`re with me from Little Rock in Arkansas. Right. Well, I don`t -- I don`t mean to be flippant, as I say
But we sort of now enter a phony war. He`s gone -- he`s taken action. President Putin has taken action that is going to get limited sanctions as
a result, but not to the extent that would really get the sanctions going.
WESLEY CLARK, FORMER NATO SUPREME ALLIED COMMANDER: Oh, this is the -- this is the challenge, Richard. First of all, first of all, we don`t know if
this is the first step to a larger invasion before it sanctions can even be implemented. Or maybe he`s just going to test NATO and see, well, OK, I`m
just going to take a small bite of Ukraine. I would tell you that as a matter of principle. This would be a violation of international law.
It doesn`t matter in international law is not -- is not a based on the square miles of territory seized. So, this is a violation of international
law period, it should start the whole sanctions process against Russia rolling, but it`s also possible that Putin is looking to create a
provocation with us. Maybe to to either stimulate or simulate some kind of Ukrainian reaction to the announcement, which would then trigger the full
You know, he`s got all those troops up there. They`re not logistically supported very well. Russia has never been good at logistics. They`re --
they`ve always been like, sort of the Mongol horde. It`s like, put them in tanks, Turtle blows, they`ll find water and food one way or the other. And
so, I`m told that the local newspapers up there are having some difficulty supplying the Russian troops, locals are and so I think that, you know, the
odds are -- he`s going to go big.
QUEST: When you say that, I mean, I`m hesitant that we sort of are forecasting, you know, at all fighting in violence, but that is what you`re
saying, isn`t it? That the tanks are going to roll?
CLARK: Yes. That`s what I`m -- what I`m seeing is, this is sort of a phased operation, but the second phase may happen very quickly. This is all part
of explaining it to the Russian people. I think Putin is recognized he`s not going to break NATO diplomatically.
CLARK: And so, the next thing is he`s got to be sure the Russian people have some pretext for what he`s about to do, because a lot of -- a lot of
Russians are going to die on this. So, he called the emergency and LNR and DNR. He put a few tens of thousands of people on buses. He`s called an
emergency and wrost off to handle refugees. Now he`s forced, he`s orchestrated everything that came out of the Duma requesting him to
recognize these two states.
Now he`s decided to recognize them. This is a sequence of events that`s been thought through and planned out, it probably leads to the big
QUEST: OK. So if that --
CLARK: -- obviously.
QUEST: If that is the case, now, NATO has limited role in the sense of obviously supplying Ukraine up to whatever the nation`s feel available to.
But obviously, it doesn`t get involved directly, unless a NATO nation is threatened. So, what does happen in that eventuality?
CLARK: Well, I think that what has to happen now is the sanctions have to be applied. There`s no more -- there`s not much you can say diplomatically
about this. He knows he`s crossed a line. I -- we know what he`s doing. We`ve made it clear to the whole world. And actually, there`s no objection
from any of our allies to the intelligence that the United States has provided. I think they`re all saying the same thing. The only question is,
do we have the resolve to act?
Now, I will tell you in 1999, when Slobodan Milosevic first killed a bunch of Albanian farmers in Kosovo, that should have triggered a NATO reaction.
NATO stood back from this. They said, oh, let`s do one more round of negotiations first. We did that it did nothing to dissuade Milosevic. And
so, we did have to undertake an air campaign in 1999, which culminated in the Serbs losing and being forced out of Kosovo.
So, in this case, I think NATO is well prepared and the European Union`s nations are well prepared to begin the imposition of sanctions. We`ll just
have to see how long it takes and what form they take. That hasn`t been disclosed.
QUEST: General Clask, you raise a point -- a final point and I just want to get your thoughts on, following on from what you`ve just said. Now, the
Munich Security Conference has been taking place somewhat appropriately. Of course, there everyone is talking about appeasement, or beware of
appeasement. If I -- if I understand your last answer correctly, your fear is, your fear is exactly that.
We can call it appeasement. We can call it last round of negotiations with whatever you want to call it. And your fear is that unless there`s a very
strong reaction now, it will be grist to the Putin mill.
CLARK: Well, there`s no more room for appeasement left. I mean, you could argue that there was room for appeasement when Putin was threatening. But
when he starts to move, when he makes these diplomatic moves, you can`t then appease. And I don`t think any of the European nations will attempt to
appease at this time, even if they had some politicians in their various countries, like most of us do, that say, oh, no, no, no, no, I mean,
Russia, you`re listening to Putin. Listen to Putin. We`ve all got people like that in our countries. That`s democracy.
But I think the the stacking of these forces, the rhetoric that`s come out of what`s happened in Moscow, the clear false flags that have been
attempted by Russia should enable all of our governments to see this very clearly, and to move forward with the kind of retribution and deterrence
that`s necessary at this point.
QUEST: General Clark, good to have you. I appreciate it. So, thank you.
QUEST: As we continue. This is CNN. A billionaire investor, Carl Icahn started a proxy war with McDonald`s of all places over animal welfare. We
will explain in a moment.
QUEST: And so, the Beijing Winter Olympics are over. And a deeply strange Olympics. They were indeed. China`s claimed success in hosting the Games
and keeping COVID at bay. But it was the athletes who gave us the biggest triumphs, even though we saw a lot of heartbreak, CNN`s Selina Wang with
the highs and the lows of this year`s games.
SELINA WANG, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics ended with victory, heartbreak and relief. To China, these games
were a success. Beijing managed to pull off the games in the middle of a pandemic without any major outbreaks inside or outside the bubble. Becoming
the first city to host both a Summer and Winter Olympics, showing off a wealthier and more powerful China.
And it was incredible to be inside the bird`s nest during that closing ceremony. It was electrifying. Even though we were sitting in the cold for
several hours, the invited fans were excited, doing the wave, waving their iPhone lights in the air to the music, clapping loudly. And there was a
feeling of relief as well for these athletes who have been spending so much time trying to avoid getting COVID. Just trying to make it into Beijing and
be able to compete.
And now they can finally let loose for a moment. And these games have often felt dystopian. We`re often surrounded by workers in hazmat suits. We have
PCR tests every day, we have to be completely separate from the rest of China`s population. And this closing ceremony was finally a moment where it
felt like a party. There were lights, music and ended with dramatic fireworks. But these games will also be remembered for controversy and
The opening ceremony began with Vladimir Putin as the guest of honor. The U.S. and some of its allies have boycotted these games as a protest against
allegations of China`s human rights abuses. In addition to that, I will never forget the moment that I saw a 15-year-old figure skating star Kamila
Valieva take the ice for the last time in Beijing. Her performance was full of stumbles and mistakes marred by a doping scandal that once again put the
spotlight on Russia`s history of state-sponsored doping.
But despite the controversy, the geopolitical tensions and the scandal, the athletes still persevered. They brought the world together, they set new
records, and still mesmerize the world with their performances. Selina Wang, CNN, Beijing.
QUEST: Now, we return to our main story of the night. The tensions over Russia`s recognition of two breakaway Ukrainian regions. This time how
Eastern Europe are viewing it. President Vladimir Putin has called Ukraine a creation of Bolshevik Russia. He was talking about what the Kremlin is a
speech filled with historical grievances. We`ll be in Ukraine in a moment.
QUEST: The breaking news tonight, Russian President Vladimir Putin`s recognize the independence of the separatist-controlled regions in eastern
Ukraine. Satellite images from Maxar appear to show Russian soldiers heading into positions on Sunday near the border. Two U.S. officials are
telling us, the moves are consistent with preparations to invade. President Putin told his nation that Kyiv or Kiev was already working with NATO, even
if it`s not an official member.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): We know that the military forces in Ukraine are already integrated with NATO. So, even with their specific divisions, they still can coordinate their actions with
NATO. And regularly they`re -- all their regular training staff all carry an anti-Russian character.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUEST: Last minutes, President Biden had a call or convened a call with President Macron of France and the German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.
International Security editor is Nick Paton Walsh was in Lviv in Western Ukraine. This is really where it gets very difficult. So the level of
sanctions that now need to be implemented by the E.U. and the U.S. and others that would convince President Putin not to go any further, even
though he wouldn`t -- he wouldn`t back down.
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: Look, it`s very hard to see quite what kind of response they can introduce sanctions are a
finite thing, you cannot infinitely find new things to sanction a country with that are effective. So, I suspect we`ve already seen from the White
House and suggestions for new E.U. is they will do initial steps at this point. Putin hasn`t gone the whole way. He sounded in that speech.
And it seems like in fact, President Volodymyr Zelensky and President Joe Biden had their phone call during some of it. They were spared some of the
historical revisionism. But it was a remarkable rant. And it set his case, essentially, fictitious, frankly, is it is that NATO is essentially already
in Ukraine with missions that he calls bases and effectively providing a very warped justification for broader action against Ukraine.
And he stopped short of that, and instead simply said he`d recognize these two breakaway Republics which practically doesn`t change an awful lot.
Unless we see Russian troops possibly moving into those areas to assist in security. So, he has allowed the situation to build up to this enormous
crescendo of fear, frankly, seeing these troops on the border for so long. But the fight -- first actual strategic move he`s taken has been less than
with the implicit threat and actually spelled out at the end that if Ukraine were to respond, the bloodshed would be on its hands.
So we`re in a very tricky stage here. He may be moving at his own clock, and the West may be expecting him to move in one fell swoop, Richard.
QUEST: And if this is the -- do we now have, in your view, possibly days, if not weeks of this confusion middle ground, not sure what. I mean, how
long can he keep his own troops on that war footing on the front line?
WALSH: Well, that clock is definitely ticking and make no mistake, Western officials repeatedly say look, they can keep up these tactical formation
postures that a lot of them have gone into, I told today, 35 of the battalion tactical groups are now in tactical positions there. They can
keep that up for a matter of days. So, he doesn`t have an indefinite clock and we can keep people in that sort of ready status for attack around the
As far as the Western analysis goes, he may not care so much about the same things that they do. So yes, the clock ticking definitely on that.
And then also too, one possibly on the credulity towards Western warnings here, you know, we do keep hearing this is imminent and Vladimir Putin has
spoken and he hasn`t ordered that broader move, although have to say, Richard, listening to him talk in the way that he did. He sounds like a man
of the mindset who could it be capable of an unwise move like that. Richard?
QUEST: Nick Paton Walsh, we`ll continue to watch. Thank you for joining us from Lviv, Western Ukraine.
And no markets to trade which perhaps is a blessing in a minor sense because they will be giving a fairly raucous reaction I guess. If you`re up
to anything to go by where we saw two percent off some of the markets in Europe. I suspect we`re going to have a bit of a painful open when the
markets begin tomorrow. I`ll take a profitable moment after you take this break.
QUEST: Tonight`s profitable moment. I alluded to this earlier. Over the weekend, I was having dinner with friends. And obviously we talked about
the current situation with Ukraine and Russia and there was a common view, oh, good grief. We`ve only just finished with the pandemic and in some
cases, it`s still going. We`ve got inflationary issues with the economy. This is the last thing we need that anybody wanted.
Russia and Putin to be dabbling with adventurism or bordering on militant madness in Europe. But we are where we are. And tonight we went a little
bit closer towards war. I can`t even believe I`m saying that, frankly, at the same time, as we are just -- I mean, look, look at it. Boris Johnson
announced today that all restrictions in England are going to come off on terms of COVID.
At the same time in Australia, we have the most magnificent pictures, the heartwarming pictures of people who haven`t seen each other for two years.
I always say Sydney Airport`s either the happiest or saddest place on the world. If you`re meeting or leaving, saying goodbye to somebody you`ve not
seen for ages. It`s just magnificent. And then you`ve got Vladimir Putin who tonight decided to ratchet it up, recognize the two eastern provinces
and put us all one step closer to fighting.
It`s hard to know what to make of it all. Other than we didn`t need this now. None of us did. The Ukrainians didn`t, we didn`t, nobody did. But we
are where we are. And that means we will continue in the direction we`re going, which I`m not sure made a great deal of sense but you know what I
QUEST: And that`s QUEST MEANS BUSINESS for tonight. I`m Richard Quest. The markets are back tomorrow. Lord knows how they`re going to react.