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Quest Means Business
Germany Issues Early Warning Of Potential Gas Shortage; Reports Of Air Strikes, Shelling In Kyiv And Chernihiv; China In The Midst Of Its Worst COVID Surge Since 2020. Russia Attacking Kyiv And Chernihiv Despite Claims Of Deescalation; Civilians Flee Fighting Near Mykolaiv; Egyptian Firm Develops "Uber For Trucks"; Astronaut And Two Cosmonauts Back On Earth. Aired 3-4p ET
Aired March 30, 2022 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ZAIN ASHER, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Let`s take a look here, one hour left of the trading day, stocks are headed lower.
You see the Dow there down about 160 points; it matters because investor optimism certainly fizzling, and that could mean the end of a four-day
rally to the Dow. Those are the markets and these are the main events.
Germany and Russia tried to resolve a payment crisis before it leads to shortages of natural gas.
Russia`s sustained attacks on Ukraine dim hopes for peace talks.
And Shanghai`s lockdown is so severe that it is forcing traders to sleep at the office.
It is Wednesday, March 30th. I`m Zain Asher, in for my colleague, Richard Quest, and this is QUEST MEANS BUSINESS.
Tonight, Germany is warning it could face gas shortages over a payment dispute with Russia. The two leaders spoke about it on the phone today. The
Kremlin wants to be paid in rubles, though the existing contracts call for euros or dollars. Germany says Vladimir Putin assured Olaf Scholz that the
new law will not apply to Europe. Russia says the two agreed to keep negotiating the issue of payments.
Germany issued an early warning about potential shortages on the worry that Russia might indeed cut off supply. Next level of its crisis plan would be
alarm, and then an emergency where government regulators ration gas.
Nic Robertson joins us live now from Brussels.
So Nic, if Germany refuses to pay Russia in rubles, what are the consequences? How likely is it that Russia might indeed weaponize energy in
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: We know that President Putin views energy supplies as a political tool. We know that in the
conversations he had with the leaders who were visiting him in Moscow before the war began. We know that he said it to Viktor Orban, the
Hungarian Prime Minister and he said to others, you know, you`re getting cheap gas. This is a benefit to you.
Indeed, he said following conversations with Olaf Scholz previously as well that if the German population was unhappy, that the price of gas might go
up for them, then it essentially wouldn`t be his fault and they should look to their own political leader.
So absolutely, the Kremlin sees energy supplies to Europe as a tool and the Kremlin has said, they will put up or will put gas transactions into rubles
as of tomorrow, the first of April, rather Friday, the first of April.
Mario Draghi, the Italian Prime Minister and Olaf Scholz, the German Chancellor both had phone conversations with President Putin today, and I
think you get a sense of the disagreement, or the spin that Russia is putting on this situation to its own population because the Kremlin readout
of the call with the German Chancellor was that they were still in negotiations about how to pay for the gas.
Germany and Olaf Scholz say they have been absolutely a hundred percent crystal clear with Vladimir Putin that they will stick to the G7 agreement,
so that is Italy as well, stick to the G7 agreement that gas, the current contracts will only be paid in dollars and in euros.
The German Chancellor said all he asked President Putin for was some written clarification about the points that he had been making about these
energy supplies. The Kremlin, of course, taking a different readout altogether.
So absolutely -- and it is not just Germany today that warned its citizens to throttle back the use of energy supplies. It`s the same in Austria, the
Netherlands made a similar announcement as well because there is a recognition in Europe, they don`t know which way the Kremlin is actually
going to move on Friday, despite Olaf Scholz believing that he has an understanding from Vladimir Putin, as you said that European nations can
continue to transact these contracts in dollars and euros.
But it seems that word at the Kremlin can change, is subject to change, and never quite clear when and what it will mean.
ASHER: As you point out though, Nic, Germany is preparing for the worst, telling consumers, telling businesses to reduce consumption as much as
If Russia was to play that card, if they were to limit the amount of gas to Germany, what sort of impact would that have on the German economy?
ROBERTSON: It would have a big impact. We know that about 50 percent of the gas that Germany uses, the LNG, liquefied natural gas that Germany uses
comes from Russia, but that is a sort of a slightly misleading figure because the vast majority of that gas is used in the manufacturing sector
in Germany, not in the sort of housing sector, if you will, the sort of -- that families use.
So Germany is very, very, very economically heavily dependent for its output for its manufacturing on that gas from Germany (sic). So inevitably,
it would have an impact.
We heard from the European Commission President a few weeks ago, Ursula von der Leyen, saying that Europe was sort of beyond or out of the danger zone
for this year. We heard Poland today, for example, say that it was going to stop using all oil products from Russia by the end of this year, that it
would stop using -- stop importing coal from Russia by the end of April or at the very latest, the end of May.
So all European nations are trying to get themselves in a position where they are less dependent, but the reality is to break dependence on Russian
gas and oil. It is estimated to take a minimum of a couple of years.
Most nations of the European Union, looking to cut its supplies from Russia by two-thirds by the end of the year. And of course, the United States has
said best efforts, it will try to put up 15 billion cubic meters of liquefied natural gas to help offset what might not come from Russia.
Germany, though estimates at the moment it has about 25 percent of its storage tanks at 25 percent capacity.
ASHER: Nic Robertson live for us there. Thank you so much.
All right, Clare Sebastian actually took a look at the urgency of redrawing Europe`s energy map and what the United States` role might be.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The European recovery program, the Marshall Plan --
CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Seventy-four years after the United States launched a package of economic aid to help
rebuild postwar Europe, the war in Ukraine has European economies again looking to the U.S. as they scramble to redesign their energy future to end
decades of reliance on Russia.
JENNIFER GRANHOLM, U.S. SECRETARY OF ENERGY: At this point in our history, what is going to be our version of the Marshall Plan for clean and secure
SEBASTIAN (voice over): Liquefied natural gas or LNG will be critical. Just six years after the first export cargoes set off from the mainland
United States, the U.S. became the world`s top exporter of LNG in January, with significant growth potential.
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We`re going to work to ensure an additional 15 -- one-five -- 15 billion cubic meters of liquefied
natural gas, LNG, for Europe this year.
SEBASTIAN (voice over): Fifteen billion cubic meters though, is less than 10 percent of the natural gas that the E.U. imported from Russia last year.
Helpful in the short term, let`s say, but not much of a defense if Russia decides to turn off the taps.
MASSIMO DI ODOARDO, VP GAS AND LNG RESEARCH, WOOD MACKENZIE: This should come obviously, if there are Russian supply disruptions; I mean, in that
case, unfortunately, even with the LNG, this question could be extremely difficult for Europe.
SEBASTIAN (voice over): While gas runs through pipelines, LNG requires specialized terminals to liquefy it before loading onto ships and re-gasify
it on arrival.
DI ODOARDO: The places where European countries are rushing to try and build additional infrastructure is Germany and Italy. Germany doesn`t have
any gas capacity at the moment and Italy has very little.
SEBASTIAN (voice over): Building those terminal take several years. A quicker option is to use specialized chips known as floating storage
regasification units that can be installed in a matter of months. European countries are now racing to source these.
Russia predictably says diversifying away from its fossil fuels is impossible.
(ALEXANDER NOVAK, DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER OF RUSSIA speaking in foreign language.)
SEBASTIAN (voice over): The country`s Deputy Prime Minister warning in a recent address to the Russian parliament that without Russian hydrocarbons,
the global market would collapse. Experts agree right now there is no direct replacement.
For the longer term, the E.U. and U.S. say this will accelerate efforts to generate more renewable energy.
GRANHOLM: The climate is not going to wait on our efforts to confront autocrats. Both crises need addressing now.
SEBASTIAN (on camera): There is not a moment to lose. Germany activated an early warning Wednesday amid fears of possible gas shortages after G7
countries refused Russia`s demand to pay for gas in rubles.
And now, attention also turns to OPEC and OPEC+, which includes Russia. They are meeting on Thursday, and has so far resisted pressure to
accelerate planned oil production increases to help stabilize the market.
Clare Sebastian, CNN, London.
ASHER: All right, still to come here on QUEST MEANS BUSINESS, one of the busiest cities in the world suddenly takes on the feel of a ghost town,
what a lockdown in Shanghai mean for China and for the world.
ASHER: Just yesterday, Russia said it would reduce its military activity around Kyiv and Chernihiv.
On the ground today, the world is seeing a very, very different picture. Officials in both cities reporting continued shelling and airstrikes by
Russian forces including on residential buildings, shopping malls, and other civilian places.
Chernihiv`s mayor spoke with CNN this morning from the devastated city center.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VLADYSLAV ATROSHENKO, CHERNIHIV`S MAYOR (through translator): They actually have increased the intensity of strikes. Yes, today we`ve had a
colossal mortar attack on the center of Chernihiv, 25 people have been wounded and are now in hospital. They`re all civilians.
Russia says that it is fighting the Ukrainian Armed Forces. That`s another lie because Russia is deliberately exterminating civilians.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ASHER: CNN`s Fred Pleitgen joins us now from Kyiv, which is just south of Chernihiv.
So Fred, as we know, Russia has basically said that they plan to de- escalate in around Kyiv, a lot of people saying that it is clearly not the case. What they say is de-escalation is actually in fact, according to
analysts, just a repositioning.
What are you seeing and hearing on the ground?
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We are certainly not seeing any sort of de-escalation. In fact, I`d say the
shooting that we`re seeing around here, hearing around here, Zain, especially a very heavy weapon. Like if you look at artillery, for
instance, it`s a lot heavier than we have been seeing over the past couple of weeks at all and it is something that was going on all night last night
throughout the entire day today.
And I`ve actually just come back from the area around the district of Irpin, which is of course one of those sort of frontline suburbs in the
northwest of Kyiv where a lot of the fighting has been going on, and there was just constant massive shelling going on there.
There was artillery shelling, heavy multiple rocket launchers as well. So if there is some sort of scaling down of military activities, we certainly
haven`t seen that here yet. However, I did actually speak to today, both the Ukrainian military and also the Ukrainian Interior Ministry, and they
did say that they had some evidence to suggest that some Russian forces may be leaving this area, but they believe but it`s some sort of regrouping
that`s going on rather than a full drawdown and they certainly don`t believe that it`s some sort of goodwill gesture by the Russians to create
trust with Ukraine.
They simply believe that the Russians came down here, they got beaten by the Ukrainians, they took heavy losses, and now have to move some of the
units out -- Zain.
ASHER: Clearly, the Russians thought was going to be much easier, Fred, to take Kyiv than it has proved to be. What has been the strategy on the
Ukrainian side as they continue to desperately fight to defend their capital city?
PLEITGEN: Yes, I mean, look, the Ukrainians have been quite smart about the defense of the city, and I think one thing that we always have to point
out is, the Ukrainians very quickly made this a really fortified city.
You go here, there are checkpoints everywhere. You know, they are all very strong, fortified checkpoints that could hold up tanks, at least for a
while. So it`s very difficult for anybody to get into the city. And they have done that in the defenses leading up to Kyiv as well.
At the same time, the Russians, also, they really did seem to think -- and I talked about this with a Ukrainian soldier yesterday, they really did
seem to think they were just going to waltz into the city and be greeted with flowers. You know, in some cases, there were columns of vehicles that
came in here that just sort of made their way to the city on the regular highway.
And of course, they were met with fierce resistance. And then when that resistance came, the Ukrainians managed to hold them up, and a lot of that
has to do with the modern weapons that they`ve been getting from the U.S. and its allies, some of those anti-tank weapons, where they`ve clearly used
guerrilla tactics to hit some of these convoys, and stop those convoys, and then hit them with artillery.
And I also think, Zain, one of the other things that is really important is that the air defenses that Ukraine has are still very much working. We
still see some of these longer range anti-air weapons working, obviously helicopters also being shot down by shoulder-fired missiles, and you know,
having been in a lot of war zones in the past, it`s almost unheard of, to be standing here where I am right now. I am not hearing a lot of air
activity over our heads.
But that`s clearly the case. The Russian Air Force clearly can`t bring its full power to bear here in the Kyiv area, and that is really one thing that
is also helping the Ukrainians and allowing their troops and their units to operate against the Russian military as it tried to enter the city here --
ASHER: Fred Pleitgen, live for us there, thank you so much.
All right, let`s take a look and see how markets in Europe reacted to all of this. The major averages mostly in the red after all closing up the
previous day as fears about the Ukraine conflict outweighed optimism about peace talks.
The calls between Scholz and Putin was reported after markets closed in Europe. Only the commodity heavy FTSE index in London finished up today,
thanks to rising commodity prices.
All right, to China now, and an alarming new surge in COVID cases in Shanghai. Officials say the city recorded nearly 6,000 new infections on
Tuesday. It entered a staggered lockdown this week requiring millions of people to be tested.
David Culver looks at how they are responding.
DAVID CULVER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Emotions in Shanghai are at a breaking point.
Chinese social media showing people shoulder to shoulder pushing to get vegetables. Panicked shoppers stocking up ahead of an unprecedented
The plan is to shut Shanghai down in two phases. First, the eastern half from the Huangpu River, then the west. In all, some 25 million people
confined to their homes.
Already desperate stories emerging, this woman pleading for permission to leave her compound saying that her husband needs his cancer treatment. This
latest omicron fueled surge in cases is China`s worst outbreak since Wuhan two years ago, and yet for some living in the country`s international
financial hub, Shanghai, this is unlike anything experienced here before.
Videos circulating on social media show hundreds of COVID patients filling up crowded hospitals. So as to keep in line with President Xi Jinping`s
zero COVID policy, Shanghai has turned stadiums and exhibition centers into centralized makeshift hospitals. This video is from the Shanghai Expo
Center said to hold more than 6,000 patients.
On Twitter expat, Emma Leaning chronicling her experience testing positive with mild symptoms taken to the Expo Center, given just a bucket and rag to
wash up every day.
Just about every day outside, you hear a blaring loud speaker with a new announcement. On this cold rainy day, another mandatory COVID test. My
neighbors and I hurried out to the nearest government testing site.
CULVER (on camera): They only let us out of the gate just for the test and then we head back in.
CULVER (voice over): Once done, your neighborhood gate is locked back up. Stores and restaurants that have had just one confirmed case pass through
are treated like a crime scene, roped off and disinfected.
Since confirming its first omicron case in mid-December, Mainland China`s average new daily case count has surged from double digits to more than
5,000. There are more than 65,000 active cases and counting. The virus has spread to 29 provinces and regions.
The lockdowns and mass testing bring life to a near halt in many places, and could have global economic impacts.
China`s Jilin Province, an industrial hub along with this steel making center, Tangshan, locked down. China`s Silicon Valley, Shenzhen is only
just reopening after putting 17 million residents under lockdown for a week.
Back in Shanghai, this latest lockdown is forcing Tesla`s giga factory to hit the brakes on production, and it has already caused Shanghai Disneyland
to shut its gates.
This bustling metropolis powering down. To the outside world, the scenes are apocalyptic. China once again trying to prove it can contain the
David Culver, CNN, Shanghai.
ASHER: Chinese banks and investment firms are calling on essential staff to sleep in the office this week to avoid any disruption to trading. A
source tells CNN some workers are being offered more than $300.00 a night to camp out at work.
There are longstanding worries about how COVID will impact China`s growth and Shanghai plays a critical role accounting for around four percent of
the country`s economic output.
Bill Lee is Chief Economist at the Milken Institute, an economic think tank He previously worked at the I.M.F. helping to establish its Hong Kong
Bill, thank you so much for being with us.
So China is obviously going through the zero tolerance policy when it comes to COVID. What sort of impact do you think especially in the short term and
in the long term that`s going to have on the economic growth of the country?
WILLIAM LEE, CHIEF ECONOMIST, MILKEN INSTITUTE: Well, these lockdowns have been a serious source of domestic disruption and instability for China, and
this is the one thing that President Xi Jinping wanted to avoid. He want to promote a sense of stability and growth and wellbeing in the run up to the
Party Congress in the fall, where he is going to be reappointed to his third term.
But these disruptions have not only disrupted the economy and jobs domestically, but they`ve also completely destroyed any hopes that the
global supply chain will be mended. That on top of the Russian conflict means that the likelihood of having inflation in the West and around the
world come down is going to be put off again.
So as far as China is concerned, one of the things that the zero COVID -- zero tolerance policy for COVID means is that citizens of China are going
to have to reconsider whether they have that sense of wellbeing and stability that President Xi wants to promote.
ASHER: I mean, this idea, though, of traders sleeping at work for an extra $300.00 a day sleeping under their desks and having to basically spend
weeks -- weeks in the office without being able to leave. What do you make of the lengths that financial institutions in Shanghai are going to, to try
to continue business as usual?
LEE: That`s a great point. In fact, I think China is probably one of the few places on Earth where we have such a cooperative and obedient workforce
that`s so dedicated to their jobs, and would give up family and their normal lives just to be able to let their employers continue their
That`s probably one of the secrets to China`s success, and I think one of the reasons why we don`t have mass protests going on right now in Shanghai
and throughout China.
ASHER: China imports about 11 million barrels of oil a day. Having this major city, Shanghai, shut down as part of this zero tolerance policy for
COVID, what sort of impact do you think it`s going to have in the next few weeks or months on overall oil demand in the country?
LEE: Shanghai is very special. It is the international city, it is the international financial center and the international entry point into the
rest of China. So as the ports have shut down, the ability of China to really make use of the imported energy is going to be handicapped, and we
already see the forecasts of China before all of this happen, going into the four handles, right?
Where many economists are predicting four percent or a little bit over four percent growth over the next year, down from the six percent that they`ve
enjoyed over the last several years. I think that those estimates are going to be revised down yet again, because of this kind of disruption.
ASHER: And what about foreign investment in the country? I mean, this zero tolerance for COVID means that if you have a consumer facing business in
Shanghai, then of course, business might be good, one day or one week, and then the next week, you could have no business at all. What sort of impact
you think that has on foreign investment in the country, or is it too soon to be able to tell?
LEE: Actually, that`s a great question. The typical image that foreign investors have of China is that if I could just sell one bottle of Coke or
one product to every citizen in China, I`m going to make a bazillion dollars, and I think one of the -- that myth is getting replaced by well,
China may not be as easy a market to penetrate as I thought, and maybe I should rethink my global investments and look for better prospects. Just
because China has a large domestic market doesn`t mean that I`ll be making profits there.
Not only has the shutdown put that concept of China investments at risk, but also the Chinese policies for foreign investments and sort of the need
for domestic production over and above foreign production.
Part of Xi Jinping`s circulation strategy is something that also has caused foreign investors to rethink their investments.
ASHER: I want to talk about the U.S. because the economic talk in the U.S. where I`m based centers around the yield curve and what is happening with
that and whether or not it`s an accurate prediction of what is going to happen in terms of a recession.
Do you see a recession on the horizon in the United States?
LEE: I was part of that Fed team that worked on the research in the very early days of the 80s and 90s about the predictive power of the yield
curve. And let me tell you, it`s very controversial. Just because the yield curve inverts does not mean that we`re going to have a recession. It has
been correlated, but there`s very little sense of causation. So let me put that to rest to begin with.
The likelihood of a recession has grown because the energy shock is something that has disrupted production along with the global supply
chains, but I think one of the things that the Federal Reserve and the fiscal officers are so well aware of is that they have tools with that they
could use to keep the economy going, and I think the likelihood of a recession, you know, is higher now, it is certainly below 50 percent.
ASHER: All right, Bill Lee, thank you so much. Appreciate you being on the program.
Okay, still to come here on QUEST MEANS BUSINESS, as fighting intensifies in southern Ukraine, residents are pushed to the brink facing the difficult
decision to stay or to go. That`s next.
ASHER (voice-over): Hello, everyone, I`m Zain Asher. There`s more QUEST MEANS BUSINESS in a moment, when new satellite images show the extent of
the damage Russian forces have inflicted on Ukrainian cities.
I`ll speak to the former Ukrainian infrastructure minister on what it will take to rebuild.
And a rare display of unity between Russia and the U.S., the crew of the International Space Station put their government`s differences aside.
Before that, though, the headlines this hour.
ASHER (voice-over): Senator Susan Collins says she will vote to confirm Ketanji Brown Jackson to the U.S. Supreme Court. She`s the first Republican
to announce here support of President Biden`s nominee, who looks assured to win confirmation and become the first Black woman to serve on the Supreme
Israel`s prime minister is calling on citizens who have a license to carry firearms to keep their guns on them all the time. This, after a gunman shot
and killed five people near Tel Aviv on Tuesday, the third such deadly attack in Israel in a week.
The assailant was killed by police. Authorities have arrested five people, the armed wing of the Palestinian Fatah movement has claimed
In a new interview published online Tuesday, former U.S. president Donald Trump made unproven claims that Joe Biden`s adult son was paid for work in
Russia. Mr. Trump then asked Putin to release any damaging information he may have about it. In 2016, Donald Trump called on Russia to hack Hillary
Hollywood star Bruce Willis is stepping away from acting due to a medical condition. According to a family statement, he`s been diagnosed with
aphasia, a disorder that affects his cognitive ability. The family says they plan to move through this as a strong unit.
ASHER: The mayor of Chernihiv told CNN that Russian attacks on the city had intensified, despite Moscow`s claim it would scale them back. What used
to be a thriving city has been reduced to rubble by Russian shelling. A Ukrainian soldier in Chernihiv told me earlier today about the damage.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
"DMYTRO", UKRAINIAN SOLDIER: Most of our schools damaged and also the Russian forces, kids are in hospitals. So for example, there`s no two
hospitals in Chernihiv undamaged now. Many single houses near borders of the city also is destroyed.
So the Russian forces aimed on civil buildings and infrastructures but not into the forces` objects of our Ukrainian armed force.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ASHER: New satellite images of central Mariupol are revealing a level of devastation only glimpsed in recent weeks. They`re also the first visual
update not coming from Russian media.
First, a picture from June of last year before Russia`s invasion of Ukraine and that same neighborhood now, an image taken just yesterday. Whole city
blocks are obliterated, many buildings no longer have roofs. Entire apartment complexes gone.
Joining us now live to discuss the ongoing destruction is Volodymyr Oleyan, Ukraine`s former minister for infrastructure.
Thank you so much for being with us. So you`re in and around Kyiv, if I`m not mistaken, you`re based in Kyiv. Discuss the scene for us, based on what
you`re seeing, in terms of damage to the city.
VOLODYMYR OLEYAN, FORMER UKRAINIAN INFRASTRUCTURE MINISTER: You know, this picture is really awful. We never expected this to see in real life. So we
only read it in historical books. But right now it`s our new reality.
And if we talk about Kyiv, all small towns and villages are simply destroyed and razed almost to the ground by Russians. It`s obvious that
Putin gave Russian soldiers license to kill, to rob and also to murder all citizens in Ukraine without any division into civilians or armed forces.
And it`s a sad picture. But the thing is that Ukrainians are all united to fight enemy back. And we do progress because, yesterday, Russians said they
are (INAUDIBLE) from Kyiv, from Kharkiv, which is fake story, because we made them to do so.
And they simply run away right now from many destinations but they are trying to attack our forces in the east of Ukraine.
And definitely, it`s a great challenge for us right now, how to make a really good counteroffensive actions against Russians. That`s why we badly
need, right now, offensive weapons, not simply to protect ourselves but to make Russians leave Ukraine.
And, frankly, I haven`t used Javelins. But taking into account 150,000 Russian soldiers left in Ukraine, it`s very difficult for me or any other
person to run after each of the Russian soldiers with a Javelin or Stinger. It`s better to have missile system, tanks and aircraft to fight them back.
ASHER: It`s interesting, because you worked most recently as the minister for infrastructure in Ukraine and then, like a lot of people, you`ve had to
trade that in for guns and for weaponry in order to defend your country.
What do you think are some of the tactical advantages that the Ukrainian forces have over the Russian forces at this point?
OLEYAN: You know, Russians do the same thing as they do in all previous wars. So they have a lot of soldiers and they send them to die. They have a
lot of tanks and warships and aircraft to bomb and destroy our cities and to break the will of the nation.
But it will never take the place. And we are very happy to have strong army, which is countering Russians in very good manner and quite unexpected
for them. And definitely, it`s also about Ukrainian people. The Russians hope that we will greet them but we greet them only with Kalashnikov and
our weapons we have. But not with roses or song.
ASHER: If you think about what`s happened to your country in just over a month, the level of destruction that we`ve seen, to schools to hospitals,
to apartment buildings reduced to rubble, to infrastructure like bridges and roads.
The estimate is that it would take about $63 billion to actually begin to rebuild Ukraine, given that level of devastation.
How does Ukraine, even after the war ends, how does Ukraine even go about beginning to actually rebuild its cities and towns?
OLEYAN: Well, as we say in Ukraine, the only thing which is worse than war with Russia is peace with Russia. And we do understand that this story will
end only with the resolution of (INAUDIBLE).
Putin is not mad, he wants simply to restore his empire. That`s why it`s not a fight between Ukraine and Russia; it`s a war in Europe to restore
Soviet empire and to make kind of parade in Kyiv, celebrating this USSR renovation.
We break those plans, together with the United States. And we are very grateful to the nation of the United States. They are standing with us in
this very challenging times. Because we do understand that, even after the victory, we have a lot of to do. And we know that Russian issue is not the
last issue to be resolved because there are some other countries who would like to be allies to Russia and also to rule the world, not in democratic
but autocratic way.
ASHER: Volodymyr Oleyan, thank you so much for being with us.
OLEYAN: Thank you.
ASHER: In southern Ukraine, near the city of Mykolaiv, the relentless fighting has become too close and too much to bear for some residents. Some
are fleeing to safety, others staying behind, too scared to leave; instead, taking shelter in their homes. CNN`s Ben Wedeman reports.
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The blasted, burnt-out hulks of Russia`s might lie on a road outside Mykolaiv. War rumbles in the
Lieutenant Colonel Yaroslav Tchipurni (ph) doubts peace or even a pause is in hand.
"Russia," he says, "put such a huge effort into invading Ukrainian territory, it`s hard to imagine it will leave so easily."
WEDEMAN: As fighting raged on the road, just a few minutes` drive from here, were civilians, many of them huddling in their cellars for
protection, scared of the fighting but terrified of the danger if they tried to flee.
WEDEMAN (voice-over): This house in the nearby village of Shevchenko took a direct hit. Bombardment is less frequent now.
It`s just calm enough for 72-year-old Natalia to pack up and go.
"It`s impossible to tolerate this anymore," she says, "I`m already an old woman."
A neighbor will drive her to nearby Mykolaiv. Shrapnel riddled his car and shattered the back window.
"I`m not afraid to die," says Natalia. "But I`m just not ready. I haven`t gone to confession yet."
In an adjacent town, Lubya shows me the potato cellar she hid in for days.
"It`s cold here," she says, "there was no electricity for two weeks."
As fate would have it, she did well to stay down there. One day, a rocket landed in her back yard.
Tongue in cheek, she told us, the Russians left a gift for her, a gift that keeps on ticking.
WEDEMAN: All right, we have to leave this spot because this rocket has not exploded.
(voice-over): Many of the villages near the front have been largely abandoned. Only the most stubborn stay behind -- Ben Wedeman, CNN, outside
ASHER: A U.S. official says that Vladimir Putin`s advisers are likely misleading him about the bite of Western sanctions. There`s no way, though,
to hide the effects from everyday Russians, as Anna Stewart reports.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Speaking foreign language).
ANNA STEWART, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): "People are fighting for sugar," The words of the woman filming this video in a Moscow supermarket.
The shop worker asking people to stay calm and to stop fighting.
In another video, posted to Telegram, you can hear shouting, as sugar just arrived doesn`t even make it onto the shelf before shoppers grab it.
Inflation has hit more than 14 percent in Russia and economist Anders Aslund expects it to reach 50 percent by the end of the year.
ANDERS ASLUND, ECONOMIST: When the sanctions hit, everybody wanted to cash their rubles from the bank accounts as fast as possible and then either get
hard currency in the -- or buy gold before the prices had increased.
STEWART (voice-over): According to official government statistics in Russia, certain goods have seen huge price increases. Compared to last
year, sugar is 37 percent more expensive. The prices for bananas and tomatoes are up around 50 percent and rises, albeit smaller, across a range
of household staples.
What you see here, empty shelves, is largely the result of panic buying and some supermarkets have put limits on how much customers can buy of certain
products, like buckwheat, rice, diapers and chicken.
There`s also the very real risk that some products may become harder to get. Many retailers have closed their doors as Western companies exit a
country waging an illegal war. The world`s biggest shipping companies will no longer carry nonessential cargo and Western countries have also banned
selling certain components to Russia.
ASLUND: So probably about half of Russia`s foreign trade has ceased. And this means that companies can`t get parts. And the Russian economy
basically is integrated with the world economy. My guess is the whole automotive industry will just come to a stop very soon, because that`s an
area where you have many of those parts are imported.
STEWART (voice-over): A new car is already 20 percent more expensive, compared to a year ago. The ruble has crashed in value, making imports more
expensive. And sanctions have been in place for little over a month.
How long can Russia afford to continue on in this vein?
ASLUND: People can run down an economy extremely badly, as we`ve seen in Venezuela, as we saw in Zimbabwe (ph). The question is when the political
forces let us know this is enough.
STEWART (voice-over): Anna Stewart, CNN, London.
ASHER: The world`s transport sector is not only facing high energy prices, it`s also short of drivers. One Egyptian company says it has a solution.
ASHER: Volatile energy prices just one of the many challenges pressuring the global transportation sector, also dealing with a widespread driver
shortage. Egyptian firm Trella came up with an app to improve efficiency in these turbulent times that puts shippers in touch with truckers directly.
It claims to be an Uber for trucks. Eleni Giokos sat down with the CEO of Trella at the BP World pavilion in Dubai.
HATEM SABRY, CEO, TRELLA: It`s actually an industry very antiquated. There is definitely need is for a digital solution, for a touchless experience or
one with no intervention whatsoever, versus, again, the traditional offering of having to speak with someone on the phone and chasing where the
And so it is all about the experience as well. And this creates efficiencies as well because it`s time-saving and cost-saving as well.
ELENI GIOKOS, CNNMONEY CORRESPONDENT: What was the experience during the pandemic and how did you deal with, you know, everything changing and being
SABRY: Sure. It was stressful at first. Everyone was figuring out what to do, how it affects margins, sales, volumes. And one thing we realized is
trucking never stops. Especially during the first weeks of lockdown and all that, there was pressure on essentially goods being transported, like food
and pharma, all that.
Even during the lockdowns, we were seeing some concessions on these goods. And Trella trucks were moving. Of course, it was a tough time for, you
know, from a readiness perspective and from cash collection and all that, which is normal.
But I think in hindsight there was lots of learnings. And on a digital adoption front as well, we found a significant spike in how our shippers
interact with the application much better now, because COVID actually -- one positive thing that came out of it is basically it made everything
GIOKOS: Yes, accelerated all of that.
SABRY: Absolutely. So this has definitely been in our favor.
GIOKOS: To what extent are you concerned as a logistics company in Africa, about the prices in Eastern Europe, where you have got oil prices spiking?
We don`t know where the oil price is going. Grain from both Ukraine and Russia are very important imports, specifically for Egypt and parts of
Does that worry you in terms of what it means for your business?
SABRY: It`s a global worry. I think the main thing is inflation. Again, soft commodities and food staples and all that, inflation has been an issue
in 2021 and it will continue to be an issue in 2022. And this also impacted into the cost of shipping globally. A shipping container nowadays costs a
So it is definitely a concern but I think a collective dialogue between all the parties, us as a technology platform, talking with our shippers and
educating our carriers about what this means to them, I think this needs to happen more often.
And ultimately, there needs to be some collaboration in -- among all the players in the industry. But inflation I would say is a big concern across
the region or, I guess, globally as well.
ASHER: Next, transcending the divisions on Earth, the U.S. and Russian space agencies are working together to bring back the joint crew from the
ASHER: A message of cooperation from space in the face of conflict here on Earth. A Russian spacecraft has brought a U.S. astronaut and two cosmonauts
back from the International Space Station. American Mark Vande Hei spent almost a full year in space, 355 days, a record for any American astronaut
in a single space flight.
The crew spoke about the symbolism of the mission, given the situation in Ukraine.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANTON SHKAPLEROV, RUSSIAN COSMONAUT: People have problem on Earth, on orbit. We are like -- we are not like -- we are one crew. And I think ISS
is like symbol of the friendship and cooperations.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ASHER: CNN`s Kristin Fisher has more.
KRISTIN FISHER, CNN SPACE & DEFENSE CORRESPONDENT: Zain, where else on Earth right now can you find this level of cooperation and communication
between U.S. and Russian government officials?
I can`t think of any other place, given what`s happening right now in Ukraine. And this sort of thing is exactly what the space station was
intended to do, transcend geopolitical troubles here on Earth.
And it has been doing it successfully for more than 20 years. But this situation in Ukraine has tested this partnership like never before. There
was a lot of concern heading into today that perhaps Russia might leave NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei up on the space station and not give him this
ride home back to Earth.
A lot of that concern came from the head of the Russian space agency himself, who said -- he actually shared this video on social media, which
was heavily edited, showing Russian cosmonauts waving goodbye. He denied that`s what it was in reference to.
NASA said they weren`t worried about it. But there was concern that something could go wrong today.
Thankfully, it was a safe landing in Kazakhstan. And after they landed, there was this really remarkable thing that happened inside Moscow`s
mission control, a big sign that appeared on the big screen that read, "Welcome home, Mark," in both Russian and English.
So you know, there was really this sense today that perhaps this partnership up at the International Space Station can survive what`s
happening right now in Ukraine. The truth is, we just don`t know yet. It`s too soon to say but certainly a good sign.
As for Mark Vande Hei, he just beat Scott Kelly`s record as the astronaut with the longest single space flight duration, 355 days in space during
this mission, his second mission. And he says it`s going to be his last one. He promised his wife he will not go back to space.
So he said today was very fulfilling, gratifying but also he had some real sadness because he knew this was his last space flight -- Zain.
ASHER: There are just moments left to trade on Wall Street. We`ll have the final numbers and the closing bell, right after this.
ASHER: Just moments left to trade on Wall Street. It`s a risk off day for investors, the Dow plunged, set to break a four-day winning streak. All the
major averages are headed for closes in the red. Yesterday`s optimism about peace talks between Russia, Ukraine and Turkey have faded away, replaced by
concerns over Europe`s energy supplies as Russia looks to get paid in rubles.
Look at the Dow components, a couple of rows of green on the board, American Health Group, Walmart and Merck are in the lead. Home Depot,
Salesforce and Visa are the biggest laggers today.
Let`s look at how oil is finishing today, Brent is up nearly 3 percent. That puts the price per barrel about 50 cents shy of a week ago. Oil
prices, of course, skyrocketed after Russia invaded Ukraine over a month ago. They have been volatile ever since.
And that is QUEST MEANS BUSINESS, I`m Zain Asher in New York. The news continues right here on CNN.