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Quest Means Business
Ukraine Goes On The Offensive; Several Western Countries Support Ukraine Joining European Union; Joe Biden Warns Russia Could Launch Cyber Attack Against U.S.; Chinese State Media Says No Survivors Found From Flight 5735 Crash; Kremlin Spokesperson Says Putin Wants To Make The World Hear His Concerns; United Nations Concerned War Could Cause Global Hunger Crisis; MHP Handing Out 330 Tons Of Chicken Daily In Ukraine; Volunteers Travel To Ukraine To Offer Help. Aired 4-5p ET
Aired March 22, 2022 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PAULA NEWTON, CNN HOST: It is a rebound on Wall Street. The Dow ends the day in near session highs as tech stocks come roaring back from a Fed
induced selloff. I know that sounds familiar.
Those are the markets and these are the main events: Ukraine goes on the offensive retaking key areas from Russian forces as the number of Russian
casualties continues to grow.
Putin's top spokesperson speaks to CNN telling our Christiane Amanpour the Russian President has not yet achieved his goals in Ukraine.
And it is coming: Biden warns businesses to brace themselves for a wave of Russian cyberattacks.
Live from CNN Center. It's Tuesday, March 22nd. I'm Paula Newton, in for Richard Quest and this is of course, QUEST MEANS BUSINESS.
So Ukrainian forces appear to be taking back some territory from Russian troops. A counter attack north and west of Kyiv seems to have made some
headway, hampering Vladimir Putin's plan to surround the capital.
Now the head of Kyiv's Regional Police posted this video from Monday. CNN in fact has geo located it to be from Makariv and its surroundings. Again,
this is an hour west of the capital.
It is significant. It shows widespread devastation in a town, devoid of both residents and crucially here, Russian troops. Moscow is increasingly
turning to air attacks. In fact, as its ground units stall and run into fierce resistance. Russia says its ships are launching cruise missiles from
the Caspian and Black Seas. And of course, it has also fired hypersonic missiles from the airspace over Crimea.
Now while it may seem Russia is on its back foot with the invasion, Moscow disagrees.
Our Christiane Amanpour spoke exclusively with Kremlin Press Chief Dmitry Peskov and asked how Vladimir Putin feels the war is going and what he
hopes to achieve.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: What do you foresee? Because this was going to be according to your own side, and in the press,
in the state-sponsored media in Russia, a pretty quick operation.
It was even suggested that, you know, within a couple of days that quote- unquote, "Ukraine would return to quote-unquote "Mother Russia." What has gone wrong? And what do you see for that for the next phase of this?
DMITRY PESKOV, KREMLIN PRESS CHIEF: Of course, no one would think from the very beginning about a couple of days. It is a serious operation with
serious purposes, and I think if we try to remember those purposes, those main goals of the operation, it's to get rid of the military potential of
Ukraine and actually, this is why our military are targeting only military goals and military objects on the territory of Ukraine, not civil ones.
Russian military are not hitting civil aims, civil targets.
Number two, is to ensure that Ukraine changes from entire Russian center to a neutral country, and in this sense, let's remember that after the
collapse of the Soviet Union, actually, the neutral status was fixed in a Declaration of Independence of the country.
Number three, to get rid of the nationalist battalions and nationalist regiments, who are now actually, who are now opposing Russian troops, who
are now trying to cover themselves under the shield of civilians, thus, paving a way for civil casualties.
AMANPOUR: Dmitry --
PESKOV: And, also, I beg your pardon, if you let me -- and also to ensure to ensure that Ukraine, acknowledges the fact that Crimea is also an
untakable part of Russia, and that People's Republics of Lugansk and Donetsk are already independent states, that Ukraine actually has lost them
after the coup that happened in 2014.
AMANPOUR: Okay, so basically you are putting and laying out the original demands from President Putin, which I understand seem not to have changed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NEWTON: That was Kremlin spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov there, speaking exclusively with our Christiane Amanpour. Now, Christiane also ask Peskov
if Vladimir Putin wants the world to be afraid that Russia might use the nuclear option and whether the Russian President is really willing to push
the button. You'll want to hear that answer, that is coming up later this hour.
Now, we want to go straight to the view from inside Ukraine. Our Sam Kiley is standing by and of course, in the capital, Kyiv. And, Sam, I will point
out that during that interview, as we just heard, Peskov denied that there were any civilian targets, in his words, I know that you have seen
otherwise for yourself, and that includes now on the outskirts of the capital.
SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean, Paula, it is a completely delusional statement, but the delusion that may well be
very firmly believed within the Kremlin.
I think one of the important things about this war is whether or not Vladimir Putin was briefed with any kind of accuracy, not only about the
level of support that it would be forthcoming where he to invade the country. He seems to believe that the Russian troops will be greeted with
enthusiasm instead of which, particularly when they went into cities like Kharkiv with a Russian speaking majority, they were slaughtered in no
uncertain terms at the beginning of their invasion.
Now, in terms of attacks on civilians. Of course, in Russia, they won't know about that, because it is being blocked. Those access to independent
media is entirely shut down in Russia.
So in order to get access to that, you have to illegally access international media organizations. And again, Dmitry Peskov may believe his
own propaganda, but the reality is that civilians have been attacked with profligate disregard, and indeed deep intent in Kharkiv, in Mariupol, and
here in Kyiv. The Kyiv battle is now going, I think more in the direction of success for the Ukrainian Armed Forces who are conducting operations in
the north and the west of the country claiming successes in towns likes Makariv down the very important western route out of this city.
And above all, preventing they say the Russians being able to encircle the capital, having stopped the momentum that they hope to have that would get
them into here in a matter of days to depose the government. So things have not gone the Russian way.
Again, Peskov won't probably know that. If he does know it, he probably won't reflect it up to his boss, and so you have these military decisions
being taken in a vacuum.
If, however, Mr. Peskov does know that civilians are being targeted, then he's just flat lying, isn't he, because the reality is civilians are being
targeted. It is very, very clearly part of the Russian strategy now having got bogged down in this war, I then think they're going to be approaching
it in two ways.
They are already showing that they're trying to break the will of the Ukrainian people, break the will, of the Ukrainian government, try to force
them to accept terms that future talks at the moment they are rejecting out of hand by killing large numbers of civilians and the other course, longer
term tactic may be to simply freeze this war along the lines that they have achieved so far, thereby permanently destabilizing a neighboring country,
which showed every signs of becoming a pro-Western democracy.
NEWTON: And to that end, though, right now, obviously, Kyiv, the capital here has always been crucial. What do you make of the recent movements
KILEY: It is very clear that the Ukrainians have imposed a 36-hour curfew. Everybody is off the streets, all special passes rescinded temporarily and
that includes us, the media organizations normally able to move around and they've done that before. And they've done that before, and they're doing
it again, you then see a substantial uptick in the tempo of combat.
We've seen a lot more fighting, and the evidence of that is large amounts of explosions on the outskirts of the city, particularly up towards
Hostomel, Irpin, these now famous areas in the north of the city, where large numbers of refugees have recently flooded back into the city had been
captured or contested by Russia now seem to be under a very heavy pressure, certainly a lot of fighting.
Ukrainians claiming that they are getting on the front foot there and they are also pushing out from the west. About five days ago, they did claim
that they had gained quite a lot of territory in their last push and were trying to establish three lines of defense for the capital and also
indicating that they felt that they had, for the time being, at any rate, save the capital.
The issue will the Belarusians join the fight, as is now being talked about. If they come in from the north, whatever consequences there may be
for Belarus on that that may tip the balance in favor of the Russians who do seem to be certainly if not on the back foot only able at the moment to
hold their position, certainly not advancing.
NEWTON: Yes, again, thank you for bringing us up-to-date on what may be a long night there again in the capital, Kyiv.
Sam, appreciate it.
Now, Ukraine's President urged Italy today to help stop the war and potentially save millions of lives. By video conference, Volodymyr
Zelenskyy told the Italian Parliament that the danger posed by Russia is not confined to Ukraine.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): Now is the time to do everything possible to secure peace, so that the war
that had been prepared for a long time by Russia, by one person, by one person for tens of years, they earned enormous money by exporting oil and
gas and use that money to prepare a war not only against Ukraine, their goal is Europe.
They want to have an enormous influence on your lives, control over your politics, and ruin your values, not only ours.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NEWTON: Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi denounced Moscow for what he called its expansionist aims. He praised Ukraine's resistance and voiced
his support for its bid to join the E.U.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARIO DRAGHI, ITALIAN PRIME MINISTER (through translator): I want to say to President Zelenskyy that Italy is at Ukraine's side in this process.
Italy wants Ukraine in the European Union.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NEWTON: Now, the issue of European security, in fact, is a major one. In terms of listening right there to Mario Draghi, it wasn't just Italy,
Poland, the Czech Republic and the Baltic states have called for the E.U. to admit Ukraine. Other leaders have said that will need more time to
Still, in just four weeks, Russia's invasion of Ukraine has completely shaken some long held diplomatic views prompting countries like Sweden,
Finland to consider -- and this is significant -- NATO membership.
So this is sure to be a central topic when U.S. President Joe Biden arrives in Brussels Wednesday for meetings with NATO allies to talk more about
that. I want to bring in Alex Stubb. He is the former Prime Minister of Finland and the Director of the School of Transnational Governance at the
European University Institute.
Really good to have you with us this evening, as we discuss this. You know, we heard from the Kremlin spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, and he says that
they are looking for Ukrainian neutrality, something Finland knows something about that you should know something about this and has for
I mean, do you find this a bit duplicitous on the top in terms of the Kremlin acting as if this would somehow meet their demands, if only Ukraine
would remain neutral?
ALEX STUBB, FORMER PRIME MINISTER OF FINLAND: Yes, I guess it's a diplomatic way of putting it. And of course, you know, Finland had its own
experience of neutrality during the Cold War, when we were very much a neutral country because of necessity, we didn't want that. We wanted to be
part of the West, we wanted to be part of Western institutions, but that had to be subdued until the Cold War ended.
So I guess my recommendation to President Zelenskyy is not to take the bait, and I don't think he's going to do that either. Ukraine has chosen
its side and that side is the West, it is Europe, it is freedom, it is liberal democracy, not Russia.
NEWTON: And I take your point in that, and yet in four weeks, we have seen the international order absolutely upended and transformed. I know that you
think about this every hour. It is the Ukrainian civilians right now that are paying the price for that.
When we lay out diplomacy in the week to come being in a really unique position in Finland, what would you advise European countries, including
Finland to do at this point to try and support Ukraine?
STUBB: Well, the starting point is to understand the change, the fundamental change, and basically the division of Europe again, into two.
One is a totalitarian authoritarian Russia, and the other one is then a democratic and more cooperative Europe.
Obviously, all avenues of diplomacy have to be sought, et cetera et cetera. I mean, I myself was involved in mediating the peace in the war in Georgia
in 2008. We did it in five days with six points. But the bottom line is that the stakes were much lower than they were now, and that is why I think
we are at the moment, you know, where idealism hits realism. I don't see a ceasefire coming out of this.
NEWTON: And that is a very stark assessment for the people suffering through those Russian bombardments right now. So the question is, what does
the E.U. do about it? What does NATO do about it? What do you advise that U.S. and its allies do to try and get Putin to the table right now? Because
it is he who does not want to negotiate any kind of ceasefire or peace right now?
STUBB: Yes, the starting point is to continue more of the same. In other words, continue to roll on the sanctions and I think the next step needs to
be an oil embargo, and then obviously, the waning off of gas exports.
The second thing which is more important to Ukraine right now is of course arms exports. We need to keep them flowing because we can already see that
Ukrainian military and all the soldiers there are doing an excellent job in fighting off the Russians.
The third and final point is, you know, I don't think we can get Putin to the negotiating table. Remember, this is about him. It's about his legacy.
It's about historic and Great Russia or making Russia great again, and he simply cannot step back from the situation. So that's why I just don't see
a ceasefire or a diplomatic avenue at the moment.
NEWTON: Again, though, if that is the truth, you've been in Finland, you've been canny observers of the first Cold War. What do you predict then
this will look like in the weeks to come?
STUBB: It's hard to say, but perhaps I would, you know, divide it and say that, you know, we had a Hot War with the Soviet Union during the Winter
War and the war of Concatenation, World War Two, then we had a Cold War with them and that is when we sort of found the balance in our bearings and
stuck to neutrality.
But now we're in the middle of a Hot War. So the only advice I could give to the Ukrainians is to, you know, keep at it. And to be honest, I think
the Russian military and I'm not a military expert, for all intents and purposes, is looking quite weak at the moment. So the longer this goes on
every day to a certain extent is a victory for Ukraine.
NEWTON: Yes, and it's only a victory for Ukraine, in terms of the Western Allies to see that Russian military depleted in this way obviously means
they perhaps would not be a threat to others as well.
Alex Stubb, I really appreciate your input here.
Coming up, President Biden issued a new warning Monday saying the war in Ukraine may enter a new front and U.S. businesses can be caught in the
NEWTON: Now, the U.S. is warning American companies to prepare for possible Russian cyberattacks in response to economic sanctions. President
Biden urged U.S. businesses to immediately harden their online defense of critical infrastructure.
The Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said the U.S. is ready to respond if Putin takes that route.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REAR ADMIRAL JOHN KIRBY (RET.), CNN MILITARY AND DIPLOMATIC ANALYST: I think the President has been very clear first of all about the propensity
here for a cyberattack that is why he had a chance to warn corporate leaders.
Obviously, we are constantly monitoring our own critical infrastructure here at the Pentagon and throughout the U.S. government to make sure that
we can remain resilient against a cyberattack.
I won't get into hypotheticals here, but the President has been very clear, if we are attacked in cyberspace, there will be consequences for that.
There will be an American response.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NEWTON: Okay, that was John Kirby being categorical.
Jeff Zeleny, you've been watching all of this from Washington. Good to see you.
The Biden administration has been quite blunt about the threat here to the United States. There hasn't been a widespread cyberattack as of yet. What
more is the Biden administration saying?
JEFF ZELENY, CNN U.S. CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: And Paula, that has been surprising, quite frankly, because the administration
officials have really been warning about this for the last several weeks, really, at the same time as the Russian invasion of Ukraine and even
slightly before that, but this is a different tone.
President Biden taking that message directly to American business leaders, going to see them actually at a meeting of the Business Roundtable, which
is a business meeting of American CEOs that was meeting last night in Washington, and really bluntly warning them that the U.S. government does
believe this is coming.
And just a short time ago, a top U.S. cybersecurity official was also issued a new warning saying this is not about espionage. This is about some
type of disruptive attack.
So on what? That's the question.
There is not necessarily any specific sectors. However, the F.B.I. just a few days ago, sent out a bulletin that we just reviewed this afternoon and
it showed that some energy companies, some five energy companies or so have had some Russian hacking activity, and more than a dozen other companies
also have had some Russian hacking activity.
Now this was going on, obviously, before the Ukraine invasion, but certainly it takes on a whole new meaning now because it's in retaliation
Speaking of sanctions, Paula, the White House is saying that there are going to be a new round of sanctions. That is going to be one of the things
that comes out of that meeting in Brussels on Thursday, when President Biden is meeting with other NATO leaders, there is going to be a new round
of sanctions announced. So this is all coming as part of a piece here as that important meeting gets underway.
One other side note here at the White House, President Biden tested negative for COVID today, but as White House Press Secretary a very
familiar face, Jen Psaki will not be taking that trip with the President because she tested positive for COVID-19.
So certainly a bit of a scare here at the White House on that. They have become very familiar with that over the last couple of years. But the
President as of now, we're told tested negative this afternoon. He is set to leave Wednesday morning from Washington -- Paula.
NEWTON: Absolutely a scare, especially given what we know of the new sub variant and the fact that although the President is obviously even boosted,
he is of a certain age.
Jeff Zeleny, appreciate that update. Thanks so much.
ZELENY: You're welcome.
NEWTON: Now, Russia has been linked to some of the largest hacks on us infrastructure in the last two years. We were just talking about that with
Jeff. In 2020, Russian hackers breached SolarWinds' software to target multiple government agencies, and more than a hundred businesses. A
ransomware attack last year shut down the Colonial Pipeline.
In a rare instance of cooperation, the U.S. believes Russia arrested the hacker behind that one and the U.S. believes a similar attack that shut
down several meatpacking plants likely did come from Russia.
Lior Div is the CEO of Cybereason and he joins us now. A lot at stake here, especially when we talk about critical infrastructure. I'm fascinated by
something that you told our producer was that you believe that perhaps the cyberattacks are going on right now, but that the US isn't disclosing many
details about them that they really don't want the conflict to escalate. Can you just tell us more about that?
LIOR DIV, CEO, CYBEREASON: Yes, so we see a very interesting situation that happened. We can start all the way from last year that as you
describe, it was a massive year when it comes to cyberattack all the way to SolarWinds, JBS hack, Colonial Pipeline, that all of those type of hacks
came from Russia, specifically from -- specifically from the cartel, the ransomware cartel that's happening there.
In January 15th this year, basically, the main cartel, REvil Group, has been arrested by the Russians. And since that point in time, we basically
stopped seeing attack when it's come to ransomware. It's become very, very, very quiet.
We believe that those group has been recruited to serve and switch from being basically a state ignored group to being state controlled, and we
believe that right now, those groups are going to start being operationalized in the U.S., specifically to start attacking. And to be
honest, in the past few weeks, we're starting to see an escalation of more and more attacks that ended up with the President saying: Hey, everybody,
you have to be aware that this is going on, and you have to do something about it very, very quickly.
NEWTON: What would be the key targets of those attacks?
DIV: So if you're going back to last year, it was one big espionage attack that I don't believe is going to be kind of the main push from the Russia
side of the house and basically ransomware and the ability to create a push or a pressure on the economy in the U.S., this is something that we believe
that is going to start happening specifically after the sanction that is starting to become more and more effective inside Russia.
So I believe that what we're going to see is more ransomware attack here in the U.S., more targeted ransomware, that their job is to create pressure on
a private company. And by doing it, it is basically creating the pressure on the government here in the U.S.
NEWTON: In terms of that pressure, though, do you think that they would escalate further to have something that would attack critical
infrastructure, whether you're talking about water treatment plants, or as CNN is just learned, the fact that they were scanning some of those energy
companies or even something like, God forbid, looking at banks as targets?
DIV: Yes, so I think that for their point of view, there is a no sector that it's off limits and we saw it last year, all the way from a
meatpacking company, JBS, to the Colonial Pipeline that has been hacked, and basically supply the oil and gas to the East Coast.
We know that the financial sector is getting hit all the time. We know that our financial sector here in the U.S. is fairly protected, and using modern
technology in order to make sure that they are protected and we know that the utilities companies in a general broad of speaking, they are less
protected and less resourced in order to deal with this type of attack.
So absolutely, we believe that they are not going to wait and choose and pick what they are hacking. They're going to go after everything that they
NEWTON: In terms of individuals or even small businesses, and I know we talk about these cliches all the time, but what can we do to make sure that
it doesn't affect us?
DIV: Yes, so I think that there are basic steps that everybody can apply all the way from if you get an SMS that you don't know where you get it or
an e-mail with the link, just don't press the link. And in many, many times this simple step of ignoring those SMS, and basically social engineering
techniques, this is the ability to lure you to click something to have access to your computer or phone.
If you basically pay attention to those things, this is something that makes -- that is very, very effective, to be honest, in many cases, as an
When it comes to companies, I think that companies have to realize that they have to start realizing using not an ancient technology, like there
used to be like firewalls and antivirus and actually modernize their ability to protect themselves using new technologies like EDR that the
President talked about, and XDR as a means to protect against these type of ransomware groups.
NEWTON: Okay, Lior Div, we'll leave it there. A lot of good information on that. Appreciate it.
Now still ahead, what could be China's worst air disaster in more than a decade, it's a desperate search for survivors and answers.
NEWTON (voice-over): Hello. I'm Paula Newton. There's more QUEST MEANS BUSINESS in a moment.
We're learning new details about the tragic plane crash in China, including what happened in the flight's final moments.
And Ukraine cities are facing a food crisis as supplies dwindle. I'll be speaking with the CEO of a Ukrainian company, delivering food right into
Before that, these are headlines this hour.
NEWTON (voice-over): Russian state media says dissident Alexei Navalny has been convicted on charges of fraud. The Kremlin critic, seen on the left
there, attended his sentencing from a penal colony, where he's being held for violating probation. He now faces nine years in a maximum security
U.S. Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson faced questions about faith, abortion and crime during her confirmation hearing Tuesday. Brown
Jackson faces more questions from senators tomorrow. Senate Democrats hope to confirm her early next month.
The White House press secretary has tested positive for COVID just hours before President Biden leaves for Europe. Jen Psaki had two meetings
yesterday with Joe Biden but is not considered a close contact by the United States CDC. Psaki said the president tested negative today.
NEWTON: So no communication in the final moments and no word of what went wrong and, unfortunately, no survivors have been found since a China
Eastern Airlines flight crashed Monday with 132 people on board. The Boeing 737 went down in the mountain of southern China.
It is China's deadliest air disaster in more than a decade. CNN's Will Ripley is following this story, of course, from Taiwan.
And so much, really, tragedy here to speak of and it's the mystery of this that seems to be getting to people.
WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right, and the question of whether this is going to be a transparent investigation or not. Despite the fact that
Chinese president Xi Jinping has ordered hundreds of responders to this very remote site. You have a veritable small army of people, now combing
through the woods, looking for every single piece of that plane.
And there are many, many pieces of the plane scattered across a really wide wooded area. And there's bad weather on top of that.
But there's also questions -- there has not yet been an official invitation, we're told, to the NTSB in the U.S. or to Boeing authorities to
assist in an investigation. In this kind of a crash, when you're talking about a plane that is so widely used as the Boeing 737-800, there's more
than 4,500 in service across the world, many are flying in the skies right now. They're the workhorse of global aviation.
So when you have a plane like this fall out of the sky, as that horrific video showed, as eyewitnesses described, no smoke plumes as it was going
down, no sign there was a catastrophic event or incident in the air other than the fact that the plane was pointed straight at the ground, nosediving
some seven kilometers in less than three minutes.
So in this kind of a crash, with this widely used of a plane, you want to share information. You want to be as transparent as possible. You want as
much as assistance from other countries. But as we've seen, time and time again, not just in aviation.
But also as with the pandemic, China is often reluctant to share information, authorities told me. Therefore there are concerns we might not
have any answers here. We might not know what caused this for quite some time, many months, even more than a year, Paula.
Now the Chinese investigators, on the other hand, they did hold a press conference and they did promise to try to get to the bottom of this as
quickly as possible in the spirit of their President, Xi Jinping, who they mentioned repeatedly in that conference.
President Xi took the unusual step of ordering this investigation just hours after the crash, saying he was shocked by it. Of course, he has a
major political event coming up for him in the coming months, where he needs to project strength and leadership. So politics could play into it.
But also just the fact that China hasn't had an aircraft fatality in quite some time, more than a decade. China had a string of accidents in the 1990s
and early 2000s but they've worked hard over the last couple of decades to improve their safety record.
So to have this happen, it raises a lot of questions -- mechanical failure, pilot error or something else? What?
Right now that's the biggest question we don't have the answer to, the families don't have the answer to.
NEWTON: The families are wondering what what the last moments were like for their family members. Looking at the video, it's quite tragic.
Will, thanks so much.
And we'll be right back with QUEST MEANS BUSINESS with more news in a moment.
NEWTON: You'll remember that, shortly after the invasion of Ukraine began, Russian president Vladimir Putin ordered his nuclear deterrent forces to be
put on the highest alert. Now many saw it as an ominous message, that confronting Russia could spark a nuclear war.
But worries are growing that a frustrated Putin could lash out in the most deadly way possible. Our Christiane Amanpour spoke exclusively with the
Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov and asked him about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: Could I quickly ask you, though, I need to ask you this, because the world is afraid and I want to know whether Putin
intends the world to be afraid of the nuclear option.
Would he use it?
DMITRY PESKOV, PUTIN SPOKESPERSON: President Putin intends to -- intends to make the world listen to and understand our concerns. We have been
trying to convey our concerns to the world, to Europe, to the United States, for a couple of decades.
But no one would listen to us. And before it is too late, it was a decision to launch a special operation, military operation, to get rid of entire
Russia (ph) that was created next to our borders.
To get rid of Russia?
PESKOV: Anti-Russia, because Ukraine -- actually, Ukraine started to be -- it was formed by the Western countries, anti-Russia.
AMANPOUR: Ahh, OK.
PESKOV: This is the problem.
AMANPOUR: OK, look, Ukraine is a country sovereign. It's recognized by the United Nations. It's been around for a very long time.
But I just want to know -- I want to ask you again -- is President Putin -- because, again, the Finnish president said to me that, when he asked Putin
directly about this -- because President Putin has laid that card on the table -- President Putin said that, if anybody tries to stop him, very bad
things will happen.
And I want to know whether you are convinced or confident that your boss will not use that option.
PESKOV: Well, we have a concept of domestic security. And, well, it's public. You can read all the reasons for nuclear arms to be used. So if it
is an existential threat for our country, then it can be used in accordance with our concept (ph).
AMANPOUR: Well --
PESKOV: There are no other reasons that were mentioned in that text.
AMANPOUR: So you are basically saying, only an existential threat to your country. I still don't know whether I've got a full answer from you. And I
just -- I'm going to assume that President Putin wants to scare the world and keep the world on tenterhooks.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NEWTON: Now millions of Ukrainians are running out of food because of Russia's invasion. And the U.N. secretary general said the war could lead
to a global hunger crisis. We'll talk next with one Ukrainian food supplier, who's trying to keep people fed despite the fight.
NEWTON: The U.N. secretary general gave a damning assessment of Russia's unprovoked war in Ukraine. He said it's causing food prices to spike and
could spiral in a global hunger crisis.
Antonio Guterres told reporters the unwinnable war was causing, in his wards, "appalling human suffering."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANTONIO GUTERRES, UNITED NATIONS SECRETARY-GENERAL: Continuing the war in Ukraine is morally unacceptable, politically indefensible and militarily
What I said from this podium almost one (ph) months ago should be even more evident today. By any measures, by even the shortest calculation, it is
time to stop the fighting now and give peace a chance. It is time to end this absurd war.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NEWTON: Now many of those who remain in Ukraine are now facing a dire food shortage. One aid agency warns that some towns have no more than three or
four days worth of food and 70 percent of the population of Kharkiv for instance and Sumy is entirely dependent now on food aid.
Poultry maker MHP is getting meals inside conflict zones around Ukraine. It's said to be the largest food company still operating in Ukraine. Its
own trucks have been hit by Russian shelling. Think about that.
MHP is the largest producer and exporter of chicken in Ukraine and the sixth largest in the world. It's giving away 330 tons of chicken a day to
Ukrainians in need. MHP chair John Rich joins me now.
And I thank you for giving us some insight into this.
Before we get to the need, as an employer, can you please let me know what employees are going through?
I mean, we have visions of them, literally having to dodge bombs, whether it's to get to work or to get to the desperate people that need food.
JOHN RICH, CEO, MHP: Well, look, frankly it's not quite as serious as that, because what I tried to do was give you a very accurate depiction of
what it is like on the ground.
Luckily for our operations, we're in the western areas. So we are not basically under day and day missile attacks. This has allowed the company
to maintain almost 80 percent to 90 percent of its production capacity and most of its distribution operations.
Now we operate the largest in the country and so, consequently, when we have had to take over the responsibility of assisting supermarkets to
distribute, since the bombing of the 100,000-ton cold storage facility north of Kyiv, which was split into two operations, which was destroyed
So as far as the employees are concerned, all I can say is this: we have around 30,000 employees and up to 0.25 million stakeholders at stake.
And so the whole situation there, obviously, it's a matter of the company and its employees moving from what was denial through to acceptance very,
very rapidly and then mobilizing ourselves on the ground.
And I might add that the people on the ground have done an amazing job, particularly the senior management, directing all our employees that are on
the ground there, fighting day in and day out.
But at present, our facilities have not been directly affected by the war. But the logistics side of the business, the distribution, is hazardous
because, with this humanitarian aid effort, it's caused significant problems because, one day there's a bridge there; the next day, there's
not. One day, there's a road; one day, there's not.
So it's been a huge logistical challenge and the humanitarian effort there has changed the company from being a major exporter into a humanitarian aid
NEWTON: Yes, and we noted that you are giving away 330 tons per day of just the chicken.
How do you characterize the need inside Ukraine right now, especially given that there have been so many sources of food that have been destroyed?
And even if the sources of food haven't been destroyed, the supply routes have dried up?
RICH: I think it's no exaggeration to say that MHP, which was 50 percent of the market before the war, is now pretty much 90 percent of the market
for supplying animal type protein and now responsible for the assistance of distributing other products.
Right now, we have been assisting the Red Cross, obviously. And only just within the last few days come to a collaborative agreement with the United
Nations World Food Programme.
And that, I believe, will help us immeasurably, together, in this agreement, to be able to supply the humanitarian needs of the country and
support our stakeholders at the same time.
NEWTON: You've talked a little bit, though, about how unpredictable this is.
In term of your employees and what you're doing to keep this running, how worried are you that, as this conflict intensifies, that there will be
areas of the country that will be inaccessible?
RICH: Well, look, there's no question it's a clear and present danger. I mean, it's so unpredictable. Right now, the western areas are relatively
protected, compared to the eastern and southern areas.
At present for MHP, its core (INAUDIBLE) is food security for the country and food security collaterally for the world, because we also produce up to
3 million tons of grain, up to between 250,000 to 400,000 tons of sunflower oil, all these sorts of things from our (INAUDIBLE) program are critical.
And at present, we are about to sow the crops in the west so that we can meet our requirements, not only within Ukraine but also to contribute to
the global food shortage.
NEWTON: I'm glad you mentioned that. In Soviet times, Ukraine was definitely one of the breadbaskets that fed the Soviet Union. Ukraine, at a
certain point in time, would export a significant amount of whether it was crops or any kind of a food industry they have.
What is that risk now globally, given that that kind of food production is at risk and will continue to remain at risk?
RICH: Well, look at the facts at present. Last year's crop was around about 80 million tons of grains, OK?
Normalized, that's around 62 million to 65 million tons. We had an exceptional season. But this region, Ukraine and the southern Russian
regions, produce around about 50 percent of the sunflower oil and sunflower products globally. It produces about 20 percent of the grapeseed and a
quarter of the world's wheat supply.
So yes, it does have an enormous impact on global food security, particularly in the Middle East, where, annually, because of the Black Sea
ports, that's the cheapest way for the Middle East to get their critical grain supplies. But it has a collateral effect on the animal feed industry
in Europe. And that will see for sure significant increases in food inflation throughout Europe and the United Kingdom.
Your employees and people out there in Ukraine, how difficult has it been for them to show up each and every day through this incredibly stressful
RICH: Well, look, psychologically, of course, it's devastating. What happens with a lot of families is they might work in our areas but often
have families in Kharkiv, in Mariupol, in Sumy, these areas. And a lot of their family have been repatriated out of those areas and some haven't.
So yes, psychologically, it's a huge issue. But I think there's another all-important message, too, that's, in these sorts of war situations, we
often have to rethink as a publicly listed company about the corporate governance aspects of what we're dealing with.
We basically have a responsibility as a corporate entity to all stakeholders and we must work together as a partnership. That means not
only our banks and our bondholders and our investors and our people, all are in this together in a war situation.
And we have to do this if we're going to win this war. And it's important that we do for Western democracy, frankly.
NEWTON: And it is definitely a war footing that your company is on. John Rich, thank you. Appreciate it.
Now desperately needed supplies are pouring into Ukraine from all over the world. But some people are sending -- the aid they're sending is not
enough. They are going there in person to offer their help, some traveling hundreds of kilometers. CNN's Ben Wedeman has that story.
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Sometimes the kindness of strangers comes in boxes and bundles: blankets,
food, diapers, bottled water.
Svetlana Gajaev drove 1,000 miles from France to deliver aid to Ukraine.
"Our small town of 2,000 people has already sent three shipments of supplies here," she tells me.
Michael Jaipur left his family in London to pitch in at this distribution center in Lviv.
MICHAEL JAIPUR, BRITISH VOLUNTEER: Inspired me to come here with the watch -- just seeing the women and children suffering in distress, even the men
and seeing them being pushed out of their homes then leaving everything behind.
And I just had to come out and give him a help with my two hands and my two feet and do the best that I can.
And hopefully it's helping them.
WEDEMAN: Lviv's Art Palace is a hive of activity, taken over by volunteers, overcome by a deluge of donations.
Relief supplies continue to arrive at this distribution center and others like it around Lviv, from ordinary citizens and from abroad. Amidst the
bitterness of this war, the milk of human kindness hasn't soured.
In the basement, Dr. Victoria Patek (ph) sorts through thousands of boxes of medicine.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are really thankful to them because our pharmacies are empty.
WEDEMAN: Those in need come here for help, which goes only so far to dull the pain.
"We feel the support," says Zenayda Naboka (ph), "but, without tears, it's impossible to think about my home, about my city, Kharkiv, which is
And even the kindness of strangers can't change that -- Ben Wedeman, CNN, Lviv.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NEWTON: And that's it for QUEST MEANS BUSINESS. I'm Paula Newton at CNN Center. I'll be back with you tomorrow.
For right now, we leave you with "THE SITUATION ROOM WITH WOLF BLITZER." It is up next, here on CNN.