Return to Transcripts main page
Quest Means Business
Rescue Efforts Underway After Mariupol Theater Attack; I.M.F. Sounds Alarm Over Ukraine's Economic Outlook; Zelenskyy Evokes Berlin Wall, Holocaust In Bundestag Speech; Ukraine Joins European Power Grid In "Historic Milestone;" Western Sanctions Target Assets Owned By Russian Oligarchs; Putin Brands Western-Leaning Russians As "Traitors." Aired 4-5p ET
Aired March 17, 2022 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
RICHARD QUEST, CNN BUSINESS ANCHOR: Two pictures on St. Patrick's Day on Wall Street. There you have Guinness ringing the closing bell; Diageo, the
phone company, and on the other side of the screen, you have Temple Bar in Dublin.
The celebrations are underway. It's eight o'clock at night in Dublin. So two views of the way and there is green wherever you look. New York,
Dublin, the markets up 416 points, a steady rise throughout the afternoon and unless my eyes deceives me, we are at the best of the day with a gain
of one and a quarter percent.
The markets are green and cheerful. The main events, I'm afraid are not.
And so to what's happened. There you have it, survivors emerging from rubble after Russia bombs a civilian shelter inside a Mariupol theater.
Tonight on the program, a top economic adviser to Ukraine's President will be with me live and we'll discuss the crucial work of keeping the country
running and the prospects and how do you pay for reconstruction.
And Vladimir Putin has a new scapegoat -- traitors -- who make money in Russia but live with a Western mindset. Who are these people? We will find
out. Are they oligarchs gone wild?
Tonight, as always, live from New York. It is Thursday, it is March the 17th. I'm Richard Quest, delighted, you're with us, and I mean business.
Good evening. We begin tonight with the grim and awful news of the desperate search underway in Mariupol, Ukraine. It follows the Russian
shelling which struck a theater that was packed with women and children seeking refuge.
Hundreds of people were thought to be inside the building, and it was badly damaged. Ukrainian officials say the search for survivors is being hindered
by the lack of social services and the threat -- the further threat of Russian attacks. So far, only 130 people have been rescued.
CNN's Nick Paton Walsh reports.
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR (voice over): The flicker of flame here were Russia's barbarism peaked, and an air strike hit
a bomb shelter hiding hundreds beneath a theater said local officials. The damage so complete, the entrance was reduced to rubble.
This satellite image from two days earlier showing the building standing with children written large outside. In case you're still thinking, nobody
knew who was here, videos had been circulating for days of the hell inside.
How over a week of siege and shelling had forced those still living into a space so tight and dark, it must have felt like a tomb.
"Here" he says, "Is where we give out food to children and women and elderly first." This is the converted cloakroom of the theater.
If this looks like how you imagined the end of the world, for these children packed in, that may have been the case when the bombs struck.
Russia claimed Ukrainian radicals caused the blast.
"In this room, 15 people," the narrator says. Little comfort any parent can give by the light, this will be over soon.
And below this store, there are yet more, an entire city forced underground. Little aid allowed in and few allowed out.
"People hear us, here are our children," he says. His appeal is for, food, help. Perhaps unaware, it may have led Russian bombs straight to them.
The swimming pool was also hit, a place where this narrator says a pregnant woman was trapped under the rubble and where only expectant mothers and
those with under threes hid.
The Kremlin wants to break or flatten this port, but its defenders still exact a cost, still keep them out.
This drone video shows the moment Ukrainian fighters hit a Russian tank. The shots come again and again, removing one of the tanks tracks.
The crew were later seen hit as they try to flee.
No room for mercy in a city that has little space left for life itself.
Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, Odessa, Ukraine.
QUEST: Now, the Russian attack has prompted the U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken to say that such attacks on civilians like the one we've
just shown you amount to war crimes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Yesterday, President Biden said that, in his opinion, war crimes have been committed in Ukraine.
Personally, I agree.
Intentionally targeting civilians is a war crime. After all, the destruction of the past three weeks, I find it difficult to conclude that
the Russians are doing otherwise.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUEST: Fred Pleitgen is with me. He is in Lviv. We will come to the immediate what is happening at the moment in just a second. The further
reaction, the Mariupol Theater, the war crimes, but at the same time, the Russians just keep coming forward.
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, they keep coming forward, but it certainly is very difficult for them, Richard. In
fact, one of the things that the United Kingdom's Ministry of Defense is saying is they believe that most of the Russian advances have actually been
halted over the past couple of days, it certainly is very difficult for them to move forward.
And I think there is one really interesting fact that certainly stands out. We are of course, in day 21 of this war that Russia has unleashed on
Ukraine and the Russians still have not managed to take even a single large population center here in this country.
They have Kherson, they have some -- which is a smaller city, and they have some places that are encircled. Mariupol, of course, is really one where
the situation is absolutely awful. But there are some other places in this country as well.
But by and large, what the Ukrainians are saying is they believe that they have halted a lot of the advances and they even say, Richard, that they've
actually launched some counter attacks in some places, some counter offensives, and they believe that those are having a big impact on the
strategic picture of this war -- Richard.
QUEST: Fred, I don't want to be overly dramatic or take you down roads that you don't wish to travel. But if this is the case, reading in the
newspapers in the comfort and safety of the newspapers, over here and elsewhere, the suggestion is that Putin if gets desperate, he uses
PLEITGEN: Well, it's obviously very, very difficult to say what's going to happen next in all of this, I think there are several tracks that everybody
is looking at right now.
One of the things for instance, that I learned today, I was actually able to message with Vladimir Putin's press secretary, Dmitry Peskov and asked
him what about a Summit between Vladimir Putin and President Zelenskyy. And he said: Look, of course, that's not something that's excluded. But of
course, there are some negotiations taking place between the two sides, and he says, those need to play out first.
So there are still a lot of tracks, a lot of avenues that are being explored. They are extremely difficult because of course, the Russians do
have maximalist things that they are demanding, like, for instance, neutrality of Ukraine, demilitarization as they put it, and then, of
course, some demands of the United States and NATO as well, which, quite frankly, are pretty much impossible for them to even fulfill, which the
U.S. has said are nonstarters.
At the same time, both sides are saying that they believe that the things are demanding of each other are becoming more realistic. So possibly, there
could be a way forward. But at the same time, of course, you're absolutely right, these battles are getting more and more fierce by the day.
And if you look at the situation in Mariupol, that is certainly deteriorating in a massive way and very quickly.
QUEST: Fred, before I let you go, we've got the economic adviser to President Zelenskyy, who I'm going to speak to next. Just give me an idea
of any form of normality or economic normality, in a sense of buying things, filling a car up, a hotel. What's it like?
PLEITGEN: You know what, I think one of the things that's important for our viewers to know is that Ukraine is, of course, a gigantic country. I
mean, there are of course areas here in this country where there is absolutely no normality whatsoever.
You look at Mariupol, you look at the situation, also in Kyiv where people are trying to leave, but it's extremely difficult because of course, they
have the Russian forces at their doorstep, as well. You look at Kharkiv, for instance, very important industrial center here in this country, now
also almost surrounded by Russian forces, but holding up.
If you look at here, for instance, in Kyiv, there is almost a sense of normality. Of course, people understand that they are in this war
situation. But if you go outside during the day, there are a lot of people out, shops are still open and one of the things that we've also seen going
in here and driving around is that there is a lot of truck traffic, going in and out of this country.
So they are trying to keep this economy alive as best they can. Of course, even before the war started, this economy took some massive hits. And I
think one of the things that's clear to everybody, clear to the Ukrainians, clear to the European Union, clear to the United States is that this
country when all of this is over, and hopefully ends in way that this country can get back on its feet, they are going to require a lot of
economic help from outside countries from the European Union, from the U.S., possibly bilaterally as well.
Of course, the big thing that the Ukrainians keep aiming for is for possibly down the line to at least get closer relations, if not membership
at some point of the European Union.
QUEST: Which I'll talk about next. Fred, thank you for the briefing on the situation.
The I.M.F., to which Fred was referring to, says the country's GDP could shrink by up to 35 percent and the fund says Ukraine is facing widespread
destruction and mass migration of which of course, we've seen about from Poland, Romania, and Moldova. It also notes the collapse in trade, tax
collections, and the country's finances, which is the area of Oleg Ustenko, the economic advisor to the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and the
advisor is with me now.
Sir, thank you. This idea that somehow, you know, part of the country does function of a fashion whilst war has devastated and destroyed it. I mean,
there is no -- can you tell me, is there a functioning economy as such at the moment?
OLEG USTENKO, ECONOMIC ADVISOR TO UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY: Look, so far, as you rightly pointed out, you know, part of the country is
under attack constant attacks from the site of Russian fascists.
Kharkiv is being bombed all the time, you know, even today, we experienced something like 14 bombing to that city, and it's one of the largest city in
Some cities are completely destroyed, for example, when we talk about Mariupol, several hundred thousand people is also destroyed. However, the
western part of Ukraine is operational.
So the picture is really different from the place to place. Kyiv is running now. Yes, it's true. It's a lot of an economic challenges in front of us,
as you know, as a people, as a country, which is under attack of Russia.
So basically, some businesses are not working at all, I would say that probably half of businesses are not operational now. Moreover, please do
not forget that we are a country where 15 percent of our GDP is coming from agro sector, and this agro sector is extremely important for us.
And when we are talking about agro sector, we have to start our storing campaign right away. Usually, it's the first week of March, and it should
be completed, should be completed to the third week of April.
So we are doing that kind of work on storing campaign all in the western part of Ukraine, but western part of Ukraine is the main one for the agro
QUEST: So, taking this, I know that the reconstruction effort when this war does come to an end, one of the ideas that you've had is that Russian
reserves that are sanctioned and frozen, in other countries, should or could be used to pay for the reconstruction of Ukraine. Is that realistic?
USTENKO: Yes, this is what we are discussing now is our international partners, including the U.S. and also in Europe. Yes, we believe that we
already lost, you know, several hundred billion U.S. dollars in assets, and every day, every day, you know, Russian side destroying more and more.
So, the final number will come all the way after we can have the whole picture and when the war is ended. However, yes, we are talking about huge
amount of money.
But you have to understand that we are not a rich country. Last year, our GDP was on a historical maximum, and it was $200 billion last year.
And now we are talking about several hundred billion lost in assets. So I mean, we definitely need financial support from the international community
and we do count on these money which are frozen now, the money from the Central Bank of the Russian Federation. Yes, you are absolutely right.
QUEST: Right, and I want to just develop that because in an article recently that you wrote at the beginning of this month, you basically say
that sanctioning Russian oil and gas is the one thing at least from an economic point of view, never mind no-fly zones, and the like, you say,
"Europeans may need help paying their bills. It's time to face the reality. Putin and his cronies have gone berserk, and you should boycott Russian
energy fully today."
Are you annoyed that countries like Germany still will not sanction, stopping oil and gas.
USTENKO: Absolutely. You're absolutely right, but also you know, we do discuss it with our European partners. But I must tell you, you know, that
the United States is really leading the process.
Yes, Russia continues to fuel its army machine through export in its natural resources. And also oil has significant share in all receipts of
Russian budget revenues. It is estimated as much as 40 percent of total revenues. So the sanctions which were done by, imposed on Russia, from the
site of United States of America, they very welcome in Kyiv; however, we are expecting that the same will be done from European states.
And, yes, it is true, what we need and actually it was emphasized today by President Zelenskyy when he was delivering his speech to Bundestag, the
Parliament of Germany, where he said that please do not build the new world. And he said very clearly that we are expecting, you know, more and
more from the site of European Union and we do believe that proactive vision has to be also on the side of Germany.
And President said very clearly that: Look, are our real friends now are in the United States of America, and they are leading the process, and we do
expect that Germany can do the same in Europe. This is exactly what President Zelenskyy said today in Bundestag.
QUEST: And we will be talking more about that in just a moment or two with my guest. Thank you, sir. I appreciate it. Thank you.
We obviously will speak to you more as this progresses.
Europe is searching for alternatives to Russian oil on this very point, oil and gas. And as the advisor was saying, Germany thinks Norway's hydrogen
could be the answer.
Well, the Norwegian Petroleum and Energy Minister is next on QUEST MEANS BUSINESS.
QUEST: Welcome back.
President Zelenskyy in Ukraine says Germany put business before security. In a pointed speech to its Bundestag, Ukrainian President addressed German
lawmakers and he faulted the country for its economic ties to Russia prior to the invasion.
In an address laced with historical references, he urged Chancellor Olaf Scholz not to allow a repeat of the past.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): Once again, you find yourselves behind a wall. It is not a Berlin wall, it is a wall in
the middle of Europe between freedom and bondage. This is a wall that is getting thicker with every bomb falling on our land, on Ukraine, with every
decision not made for the sake of peace, although it could help us, how did this happen?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUEST: And the President also criticized Nord Stream 2, of course, you know, the pipeline that was to link Russia and Germany, and in doing so
bypassing Ukraine, which had huge implications, incidentally, for Ukraine's budgets, where of course, there would have been fees being played, it would
have sent even more natural gas to Europe, which is already heavily dependent on Russian energy.
The leaders in Europe now committed to finding alternatives. Boris Johnson in Britain has returned from the UAE and Saudi Arabia, he did not get a
commitment from either country to pump more oil.
Germany has turned to Norway and the two countries are in talks over a potential hydrogen pipeline. But that's some way off.
The Minister, Terje Aasland is Norway's Minister for Petroleum, and Energy. He joins me now via Skype from Oslo.
One thing Norway has committed to do is continue pumping just about 100 percent of production capacity over the summer, that should help, is that
TERJE AASLAND, NORWAY'S MINISTER FOR PETROLEUM, AND ENERGY: Yes, I hope so. But let me first of all, I want to express my deep concern about the
situation in Ukraine and Russian war against Ukrainian people.
And then we come to the energy situation, and we will continue to produce almost 100 percent as you said.
QUEST: So where do you see besides obviously, the increased production, which has itself difficulties, because obviously, the shift to green, the
shift to energy alternatives is, to some extent going to have to take a back seat. As more -- for instance, Minister, you've granted more permits
for Arctic drilling, and for new fields to be developed.
AASLAND: In this very critical situation, I think the most important thing Norway can do at the moment is to be a stable, reliable producer for all
oil and gas and we can be that on a long term basis. And I think that's important for European situation for the future.
Also, when you talk about renewables, you have to do a lot of things to manage the energy difficulties just now.
QUEST: Is it -- with your experience in oil and gas, is it realistic for Europe to wean itself off Russian oil and gas, which is a fundamental part
of the energy infrastructure?
AASLAND: I hope -- I hope Europe get less dependent on the Russian gas and oil. And I think Norway can play an important -- cooperate with the
European in that matter, and we will continue to contribute with export oil and gas in the future. But we can also build a lot of renewables
We have a lot of space in the ocean. We can begin building up floating onshore, now offshore wind parks and like a big advance of that.
QUEST: Right. Finally, sir, it feels like the warnings were -- I won't say ignored, but they weren't heeded that even since 2014 in Crimea, people
have been warned even as Nord Stream 2 was put together. In your discussions with E.U. Ministers and Commissioners and national governments.
Do you feel a new reality?
AASLAND: Yes, of course, I feel the reality and I am certain that the European leaders also do that. And then I think we in Norway, we can be a
reliable exporter of oil and gas and we can build a stronger cooperation about the new renewable energy sources in the future.
I think the situation in Ukraine explained very clearly that we have to stay together, find solutions together. Europe have the same challenge so
we have to work together on the energy crisis to get energy stability over time.
QUEST: Minister, grateful you talked to us tonight. Thank you. I appreciate your time tonight.
We'll talk more about the energy situation later and particularly when we talk to the Chief Executive of Carencro (ph) that's later in the program.
Now a trial project has connected Ukraine to the European power grid, which is what I'm going to talk about. It was expected to take years to complete,
it was achieved despite Russia's targeting infrastructure.
The CEO of the electric company will be with me after the break.
QUEST: I am Richard Quest, there is more QUEST MEANS BUSINESS as we continue tonight, "scum and traitors," that's President Putin taking aim at
some of Russia's wealthiest oligarchs.
And the British government is voicing concern when hundreds of ferry workers unceremoniously fired by P&O.
We will get to that, but only after the news because this is CNN and here, the news come first.
The refugee crisis is at the center of a U.N. Security Council meeting taking place at the moment. They are addressing the ever growing
humanitarian crisis in Ukraine where now, more than three million Ukrainians have fled to neighboring countries in just the span of a couple
Lawmakers in the United States have taken the first step towards suspending trade relations with Russia. The measure passed the House of
Representatives by a vote of 424 to eight. The bill will also suspend trade relations with Belarus and now goes to the Senate.
Ireland's Prime Minister held a virtual meeting with U.S. President on Thursday after he tested positive for COVID. Micheal Martin was in
Washington for the traditional meeting with the U.S. President. He had to leave a gala late last night after getting the test result. Everybody there
apparently is also tested.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)
QUEST (voice-over): -- for the traditional meeting with the U.S. President. He had to leave a gala late last night after getting the test
result. Everybody there apparently was also tested.
Ukraine has reached what the E.U. calls a historic milestone and energy security. The country is now connected to the European power grid. It had
been dependent on that system and that includes Russia and Belarus.
Ukrainian engineers have been working at speeds to repair its grid from Russian attacks and prepare to integrate.
Volodymyr Kudrytskyi is the CEO of Ukrenergo, Ukraine's national energy company. He joins me from Lviv via Skype.
Sir, thank you. First of all, congratulations. It's one of those things that, in a normal day, I probably would have yawned and said, yes, very
nice; Ukraine's part of the European energy grid.
But this is not normal and this is now a lifeline. Explain.
VOLODYMYR KUDRYTSKYI, CEO, UKRENERGO: Hello. This is really a great achievement for us.
And this is especially important during the war, because this interconnection with Europe, it gives us another source of -- a reliable
source of power supplies, which we need critically to make sure that we can win this war, that we can supply energy to our citizens and to our army.
So during the war, this interconnection was vital for our stability and for the safety of the nation.
QUEST: How much energy -- how much electricity will you be able to take from the grid?
KUDRYTSKYI: Well, in case if we need it, we could take roughly 10 percent to 15 percent of our lot. That means that we would be able to substitute
one or two nuclear units in case of the sudden outage because of military actions. And this is a substantial support for our power system.
QUEST: If we look at the moment, at the robustness and the sustainability of the system, how's it doing?
Are you -- you've obviously had some nuclear power stations that are now within -- particularly one -- that are in Russian control or at least
potentially will be.
So how much energy are you sort of losing?
KUDRYTSKYI: Well, since the war started, we -- it was a coincidence that we also started so-called isolated mol (ph) tests. So three hours before
the war, we have disconnected from Russia and Belarus to operate without our neighbors.
And we had to demonstrate the Europeans that the grid is stable. But this test became very -- extremely challenging when the war started and we lost
35 percent of the electricity demand in the country.
And our infrastructure was a target for Russian military. But in these very difficult circumstances, Ukrainian power grid was balanced. And it was
stable. During three weeks of the isolated (INAUDIBLE) operation, we have proven to Europeans that Ukrainian power grid was able to operate safely.
And this was last but probably the most critical argument in favor of the interconnection, which happened yesterday. So now we are in full control of
the power balance. We have all four nuclear power plants in operation.
And we have enough reserves in the system to guarantee for Ukrainian consumers and for army the reliable power supplies. And, of course, with
the interconnection, these guarantees have become even stronger.
QUEST: The war -- you know, I feel almost guilty at one level. We're talking about the electricity supply when your people are being shelled
into submission and death.
But the reality is, electricity and the provision of electricity and train transportation -- and we were talking to the economic adviser, the
provision of ATMs and money, it's crucial, isn't it, to make life as normal as possible, whilst you prosecute this war?
KUDRYTSKYI: It's even more than that, because, without electricity we would have a humanitarian catastrophe all around the country. And
obviously, you cannot fight or win the war without electricity supplies to the army. So it's one of the most critical elements of the function of the
So it's our obligation to maintain power supplies for the customers.
QUEST: What's the one thing you now need?
So you've got energy. You're on the grid.
What's the one thing that now -- you know -- and I realize President Zelenskyy says a no-fly zone.
But putting that to one side for a second, if you're talking about from you, as engineers and as infrastructure, what do you need?
KUDRYTSKYI: Well, we need safety corridors for our engineers to repair the lines which were damaged due to military actions, to restore electricity
supplies to 1 million of Ukrainians, which have interruptions of the electricity supplies currently.
Our maintenance teams, they risk their lives every day, going into the territories where the military actions are going on. And they need these
safety corridors to repair the damaged infrastructure and to make sure that electricity's supplied to all the citizens. This is the thing that we need
QUEST: Thank you for joining us tonight. It's appreciated.
It's QUEST MEANS BUSINESS.
President Putin is now lashing out at people he calls "traitors" and "scum". He says Russians who got rich and adopted a Western mindset
constitute a fifth column and Russia will adapt to Western sanctions. We'll discuss in a moment.
QUEST: Russian president Vladimir Putin is lashing out at what he calls traitors that Russia would like to spit out like flies.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA (through translator): They will try to bet on the so-called fifth column, on traitors, on those who earn their
money here but live over there, live not in the geographical sense but in the way they think, with the mindset of a slave. These people cannot live
without oysters and gender freedom.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUEST: Oysters, gender freedom, yachts, villas in Miami or the south of France, Russian oligarchs are getting squeezed by Western sanctions. First
was the superyachts. Spanish authorities seized a $140 million yacht in Barcelona; Italy's authorities a $440 million yacht owned by a Russian
fertilizer tycoon. And the French seized a yacht owned by a company linked to Rosneft's chief executive.
Now the West is going after real estate. In Italy, authorities seized multimillion dollar villas, in the U.K., scrutinizing Roman Abramovich's
various properties and the British authorities suspect that this jet is linked to a Russian oligarch. It's been held at Farnborough Airport for
nearly two weeks as they investigate whether sanctions apply to it.
Bill Browder is with me. He knows only too well the wrath of President Putin.
Firstly, from what you're hearing, before we talk about where you think it's going, what are you hearing from your contacts?
Are any of these oligarchs -- are they squirming yet?
Are they annoyed?
Are they feeling that -- tell me what they are feeling.
BILL BROWDER, CEO, HERMITAGE CAPITAL MANAGEMENT: The oligarchs are feeling absolute raw panic, sheer terror. You have to understand that these guys
have spent the last 25 years, you know, killing, fighting, defrauding, imprisoning and doing everything possible to get where they got.
And they value money more than anything in the world. And all of a sudden, their money is inaccessible. They're no longer -- their accounts are
frozen. They can't sell, they can't buy, they can't do business with anybody. They're effectively made financial lepers in the world. Nobody
wants to go near them.
It is the most horrible thing, if you're a Russian oligarch, to be hit with these kind of sanctions.
QUEST: So related to this, now Putin calling "scum and traitors;" they may be physically here but their mindset is elsewhere, villas in Miami, the
south of France.
Who's he talking about?
BROWDER: Well, I think he's talk about the oligarchs. And he's talking about other Russians, who are westernized, who are watching the news,
what's really going on. And he doesn't want any of these people to be countering his narrative.
He's got a whole fake narrative in Russia, that nothing's going on. There's no war, no one's dying, there's no soldiers dying, there's no innocent
people dying. He's telling the Russian people this is just a small operation to get rid of a few Nazis in Ukraine, not this massive Holocaust
that he's generating.
And he doesn't like anybody who has access to this information, you know, spreading it. And he wants to demonize anybody who's got this Western
mindset, who has access to Western news and who, in any way, opposes him.
QUEST: Those oligarchs, well, those who are close to him or even those like Roman Abramovich, who claims he wasn't close to him, they are -- how
do they square this circle, if they do?
Because, you know, the West isn't going to give an inch and Putin -- do they go back to Moscow?
You tell me.
BROWDER: Well, I think Roman Abramovich went back to Moscow, as far as the jet records show. I mean, they can't be in the West. They're not allowed to
be in the West anymore. The sanctions don't just freeze their assets; it bans their travel. They are not allowed to be in the West.
And so they can't go to the United States, to Europe, to Canada, they can't go to the U.K. They can't go to Australia.
So where do they go?
They go to Turkey. They went to Israel and I think we had a quiet word with the Israelis and they stopped taking them. So they have to go back to
Russia. But Russia's not a very good place for them to go, either. You heard Vladimir Putin. It looks kind of like he's just organizing the camps
out there, the gulags for all these people.
And so it's a terrible --
QUEST: -- what does he want from them now?
Does he want some overt sign of fealty and loyalty, a protestation (ph) in front of him, to say how magnificent he is and how we are all for Mother
I can't work out the purpose that he would attack these people.
BROWDER: Well, the main purpose is that he feels that anybody who's got any kind of money abroad is independent and independently wealthy and, in
some ways, independent from him. He wants everybody to be dependent on him.
And my prediction is that, all these companies the oligarchs own in Russia, they're not going to be private companies at some point in the future.
Why should Vladimir Putin not nationalize them?
That seems like a rational thing for him to do, based on how little respect he has for the rulebooks. So I think that we're entering a totally new era
for Russia, where it's going to be more like North Korea than like any country that we know very well. And I think that he, Vladimir Putin, it's -
- you know, all gloves are off. He's going full fascist.
QUEST: If he's going full fascist -- and I was listening to President Zelenskyy.
And basically his speech today, you'll have heard it, to the German Bundestag, which is really the idea of, "never again" you've said it for 80
years and it's happened again. It's worthless.
And he's been very clever at paraphrasing Churchill or Martin Luther King. But he's not getting what he needs, is he? He's not getting the planes or
the no-fly zone and it seems unlikely that he will.
BROWDER: I'm not sure I agree with you. I think that it was unlikely four weeks ago that Germany would be supplying Ukraine with weapons. They are
It was unlikely that we were ever going to consider Russia off from SWIFT, the banking system. We did.
These -- it's impossible to take whatever anyone has said today and apply it toward a week from today, because this thing is moving so fast. It's so
And as we watch all these things, what do we do if he unleashes chemical or biological weapons?
Do we just sit back and say, well, that's their problem?
We're not going to do anything?
QUEST: That is my next -- my last question. You've come up against it. You've seen the murder. You've felt the effects of the attacks. You know
So what would you caution us to keep in our minds, as this moves forward about Vladimir Putin?
BROWDER: The most important thing to understand is that he never backs down. There will be never a peace treaty. All this talk about peace
negotiations is pure stalling tactic. It will never be a peace treaty because he has no concept of compromise. He has no ability to back down.
He only has a forward gear, not a reverse gear. If there is some, quote, "peace treaty," it will be purely for tactical reasons to rearm and pause
so he can regain his strength. Vladimir Putin is a man who will continue the fight, continue to go forward and will eventually threaten us with NATO
countries in the West.
And we should do everything we can possibly do in the meantime to stop him and that includes total economic isolation.
And that includes a no-fly zone, because we need to bog him down and stop him from his ultimate goal, which is to challenge all of our pre-three-
weeks-ago world order of NATO countries on the border of Russia. He wants them all.
QUEST: And you and I will talk more, Bill. It's always good to talk to you. Thank you, sir. Thank you.
Now to an extraordinary event. The British government is condemning P&O ferries and its sudden decision to fire 800 workers. The layoffs have
brought chaos to some of the U.K.'s biggest ports. The crews have been urged by their union to occupy the ships.
A spokesperson for Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the way workers were informed is unacceptable. They learned they had been sacked by video call,
as footage obtained by the BBC shows.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The company has made the decision that its vessels (ph) going forward will be primarily crewed by a third party crew (ph) provider.
Therefore, I am sorry to inform you that this means your employment is terminated with immediate effect on the grounds of redundancy. Your final
day of employment is today.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUEST: Nada, I look at that and I just --
QUEST: -- I mean, I'm laughing, I'm laughing only because the awfulness of that.
Now there are hundreds involved here. This is not about a restructuring, is it. This is not about letting people get -- the same people apply for their
jobs and maybe under different terms and conditions. They're outsourcing the lot, aren't they.
NADA BASHIR, CNN PRODUCER: Yes, Absolutely, Richard. P&O ferries say this was a last-ditch effort to save the company after making a year-on-year
loss of more than $100 million U.S. The company obviously struggling financially.
And they are now outsourcing, recruiting replacement from agency workers, cheaper than the staff they currently hired. But that is a devastating blow
to hear that message there, over video message, that their employment by P&O Ferries would be terminated with immediate effect.
But this hasn't come as a total surprise to all. The RMT Union, which represents transport workers here in the U.K., actually anticipated that a
large portion of the staff members would soon be replaced by foreign workers, as they've described it.
And they actually called on those staff members to occupy the ferries, to stay on board. And that did happen temporarily. But what we have seen in
response to this now are protests.
We saw demonstrations today and now unions calling for protests tomorrow, to cause severe disruption around Liverpool, Hull and Dover, which is one
of the U.K.'s busiest ports.
But as I said there, P&O is saying this was a last-ditch attempt to save the company, the situation for them financially.
It's just simply not viable for the future. But that obviously won't come with any sort of comfort to the employees.
QUEST: Unusual, the British government decided to sort of weigh in on this. I mean, this -- (INAUDIBLE) things about Tories and for the
employers. But goes against the whole leveling up, doesn't it, working around it. This is a poke in the eye for the government as being a
protector of ordinary people.
BASHIR: Yes, absolutely. And there's been some outrage. We heard from unions, calling on people to write Sir Grant Shapps, the transport
secretary. Their response is, although they have expressed concern, pretty tame. The prime minster disappointed in the way that this was expressed.
But we haven't heard any concrete measures announced to really support these workers or the families. And that's really what these protests
tomorrow are all about, causing that disruption, bringing some focus to this issue and really putting pressure on the government to take action.
QUEST: Good to see you. Thank you.
Now for a positive day on Wall Street. I think this is the fourth day in a row where the Dow's finished -- did finish at session highs. I keep
forgetting it's over. The day's finished. The U.S. changed its clocks, Europe hasn't. So we're keeping the time that you're watching us at the
normal time, when you'll be having your dinner or your post-prandial snack or whatever, having a drink, watching the telly.
So that's why it's good strong days, fourth day in a row. The Dow, the S&P and the Nasdaq all up more than 1 percent.
I will have a "Profitable Moment" for you in just a moment.
QUEST: Tonight's "Profitable Moment": it was going to be difficult to really make the oligarchs squirm but that seems to be what they've managed
to do. According to Bill Browder tonight, panic is the word he used and for good reason.
Their nice life of luxury, paid for probably on the backs of others, has come to an end. The ships or the yachts are impounded; their properties
have been seized, the bank accounts have been frozen.
How do you pay for the rental and the crews and all these sorts of things if your bank account is frozen?
Now, of course, they're going to learn what it means.
And where do they go?
They can't go to all the usual places, all the resorts they've all loved and wanted to go to and spend large amounts of time, money and effort on.
Instead they'll be going back to Moscow. And as Bill Browder told us, the future there looks bleak, not only because Russia is now isolated,
ostracized, if you will, but because President Putin has clearly decided he wants, as he said, a North Korea type environment.
"The traitors, the scum," those very people who got rich on Russia's oil, gas and resources are now feeling the effects without them. And that's how
it's going to be, I'm afraid.
Because unless the West capitulates -- and I see no evidence of that at the moment -- and unless Russia manages to prosecute the war harder -- and at
the moment that doesn't seem likely; God forbid they go further -- then the sanctions are going to be the tool that is used.
And remember what I said some days ago, it's an economic war and it's one that the West is waging, too.
And that's QUEST MEANS BUSINESS tonight. I'm Richard Quest. Whatever you're up to in the hours ahead, I hope it's profitable. I'm off next week.