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Quest Means Business

Janet Yellen Says No Business As Usual For Russia At G20; The World Must Stop Funding Putin's War; Ukrainian Commander, We May Have Hours Left In Mariupol; Cost Of Living Intensifies, Families Cut Back; Wimbledon Bans Russian, Belarusian Players From Tournament; Russia Facing Soaring Inflation And Debt Default; Macron And Le Pen Clash In Debate; Dash To The Bell. Aired 3-4p ET

Aired April 20, 2022 - 15:00   ET



RICHARD QUEST, CNN BUSINESS ANCHOR: There is an hour to go about trading on Wall Street and the market is very much divided, if you look at the

triple stack, and the reason we're down so heavily on the NASDAQ, is of course, because of Netflix, which is down some 36 percent, so far, but the

actual Dow is holding its own. It's up just a half a percent. So you get an idea of how the market is trading today.

The markets are what they are, the main events that we're watching. A G20 divided. Western Finance Ministers stage a walkout over Russia's

participation in the annual meeting.

On this program tonight, Sir Richard Branson says it is preposterous Western countries are still buying Russian energy. Sir Richard is with me

live in a moment to call for more action for business leaders.

And let the debate begin, Macron and Le Pen, toe to toe, head to head in this hour. We'll tell you what they're saying and who seems to have the

upper hand. It's ahead of this weekend's presidential election.

We all live in New York. Good evening to you, Wednesday, April 20th. I'm Richard Quest, I mean business.

Good evening.

We begin tonight with tensions boiling over as Finance Ministers from the world's 20 largest economies meet in Washington. This picture shared by the

Canadian Minister of Western officials who staged a walkout when Russian delegates started to speak. You can see that the U.S. Treasury Secretary

Janet Yellen in the middle. She took part in the boycott.

Christine Lagarde is there, you can see all the various participants who decided to get up and leave.

Janet Yellen said there can be no business as usual for Russia in the global economy. The I.M.F.'s chief Kristalina Georgieva acknowledged the

difficulties of maintaining any form of international cooperation.


KRISTALINA GEORGIEVA, MANAGING DIRECTOR, INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND: There are clearly very, very unsettling facts we have to deal with. I can

say honestly, never thought that I would live through another war in Europe on the scale this one takes place, but we also recognize how interdependent

we are.


QUEST: Now, it all follows this the statement from the sanctioned Russian oligarchs who has spoken out against the West. Oleg Tinkov, he is the

billionaire founder of the big Russian digital bank, who says the West should offer Vladimir Putin a way out and then goes on to roundly criticize

the Russia for the war.

Our international diplomatic editor, Nic Robertson is in Brussels. Nic, I know you've been looking at obviously what Brussels in the statements and

as Charles Michel is there, but let us just look at what happened in Washington today because when the G20 met, Russia is a member of the G20,

no longer, of course, G7 and G8. There was an inevitability they would walk out, but this can't be business as usual, is the message.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: And that message is getting through to the Kremlin. Look, this was a very, very strong signal

that Janet Yellen had telegraphed, had said several weeks ago that this wasn't going to happen. She wasn't going to sit down around a table or

virtually with the Russian delegate.

The Russians have been taking solitude, if you will, or solace, rather, is a much better word to use here, solace from the fact they still have a very

strong relationship with China, and they expect and are having China stand behind them diplomatically on this issue, but it does set the stage for

some difficult times ahead.

The Leaders' Summit for the G20 is in Bali towards the end of October, and so now the question will be at the other upcoming meetings -- Foreign

Ministers G20 meetings, all the things that sort of go in advance for the Leaders' Summit, and the Leaders' Summit itself, which is expected to be

in-person will it actually go ahead in Indonesia.

Indonesia is not likely to pull the plug, but there is going to be a very difficult moment where the United States will have to decide because I

think we can expect Russia to just plow ahead and show up as they did today, despite the signaling China to do the same, and it's going to be a

tough decision, how is that handled? And what does that mean for the G20 going forward and the work that it does around the world, the work that

it's done on COVID, the work that it's done on healthcare, the work that it's done on education?


All the important societal building measures that these leaders get together to work towards every year, that is now partly in question, I

would say.

QUEST: Nic, as to this oligarch who has spoken out against Putin and basically, what he says is the sycophancy of the country, it is Oleg

Tinkov. Some might say it is self-serving, but then his fortune is already depleted because the banking is virtually worthless, although it is a deal

less, is it significant that he has spoken out?

ROBERTSON: Look, he is an oligarch. He is sort of within the orbit or has been within that orbit, that rarefied orbit of those with better or more

contact with Putin. He has been a figure who is well-known. Look, he has sponsored a cycle club. He is very keen cyclist himself and not just any

cycling club, but you know, one, that's won major international titles.

So he is a well-known figure associated with his brand, with the name. Him speaking out at this time, and not just criticizing Putin over the war and

the tactics of the war, but by saying everything that you've done to the country over the past 22 years while you've been President, all this

groveling, all this nepotism, that's what's made us weak.

So this is very hard for Tinkov to walk back from, for Putin to take on the chin. I mean, look, Putin in the past, chased oligarchs out the country,

put them in jail, poisoned, even killed some of them, so it is significant to stand up, but will it change Putin's calculus? It isn't clear.

QUEST: Nic Robertson in Brussels tonight, thank you.

Now as to the I.M.F., tomorrow night until Friday, I'll be hosting -- we will be at the I.M.F. live from the I.M.F. and World Bank. You're going to

have the chief policymakers on this week's program, the pivotal meeting is taking place.

President Lagarde of the E.C.B.; the MD of the I.M.F., Kristalina Georgieva, and the President the World Bank, David Malpass, all on this

program amongst a host of other Finance Ministers and people to talk about exactly the situation.

Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group says the time has come for the West to stop funding Vladimir Putin's war on Ukraine. He has written an

open letter in which he says: "The future of a sovereign self-determined Ukraine is inextricably linked to the future of liberal democracy itself,

and given these high stakes, Western countries need to take the threat much more seriously and rapidly ramp up their support. Citizens must play their

part, too."

Sir Richard is with me now from Mallorca. It's a very blunt, straightforward letter that you've written, it follows others that you've

done. What I find interesting, Richard, is that you're coming up with practical solutions to what you say is the worst offense, which is the

continuing purchase of Russian oil.

SIR RICHARD BRANSON, CEO, VIRGIN ATLANTIC: Yes, I mean, I think -- I know a lot of business people who feel exactly as I do, and they all feel it now

is not the time for business people to sit back and not speak out. Now is the time as Oleg Tinkov did earlier to speak out and say what Russia is

doing is unprovoked, it is unacceptable.

And so I think what we, as the business community are asking for is, first, that military aid is urgently needed, and a lot more than is currently

being given to Ukraine, and we just must get Ukrainians, the weapons and the protective gear and everything that they need.

And the second thing is that, it is preposterous that Europe continues to send checks every day to Russia for oil, gas, and coal, that must stop and

it must stop immediately. And so, you know, what we've said to ourselves is, if we were politicians running Germany, how would we stop it? And the

kinds of answers we've come up with is, you know, for instance, if all I.E.A. countries could just drop the speed limit by 10 miles an hour, that

would be more barrels than Germany and other European countries import from Russia overnight saved, and therefore, you know, without any disadvantage,

Germany could just stop buying oil.


QUEST: So, obviously, the idea of cutting the speed limit, turning down thermostats, switching down air conditioning, all these sort of things will

have an incremental effect, but when the German Chancellor says, look, it will have a very bad effect on the German economy. And thereby, the rest of

Europe will suffer even more than it is suffering at the moment because of the war, do you not cut some slack to give them time to cut back by the end

of the year?

BRANSON: Look, I'm an entrepreneur and a businessman. I've been 55 years in business. What I know is that if you could do what the I.E.A. says, and

take 2.7 million barrels a day out of the oil market, what is going to happen is countries that are importing oil from Germany need not import it

anymore, because there will be plenty of oil around. The price of oil will collapse, that will bring down inflation, and every single Western country

will benefit.

You know, there are simple measures to you know, to answer what Russia is doing by the West, and it is not painful. I mean, like, you know, during

COVID, we couldn't drive a car at all, asking us to drive a truck or a car at 10 miles an hour, less speed is not a big ask. It's not going to affect

our lives massively.

And if you also then add on top of that, you know, to have every single business to look at themselves and see how they can cut back by three or

five percent, you will see a collapse in the oil price and that will benefit everybody.

QUEST: You say as well, your fellow B Team leaders stated: "Now is not the time for neutrality."

Now today we have for example, Wimbledon saying that Russian and Belarusian tennis players can't compete. There is a dispute. I mean, there is a

controversy, some say athletes should be allowed to not visit the sins of the country on the individuals and vice versa.

So there is an argument and a debate going on. But when I read your letter, it is sort of fairly clear. Now, is the time to take stands.

BRANSON: Yes, look, I'm friends with some of those players who are going to be stopped from playing at Wimbledon, but I'm also friends with doctors,

nurses, receptionists who are picking up guns in Ukraine and having to fight for their country.

And you know that is far bigger across the bear than a tennis player being told that they can't play at Wimbledon. And so I think, we've got to be

black and white on this.

By the way, Oleg Tinkov, I just heard what the statement he has put out. I know him personally. By the way, he's not an oligarch. He was a self-made

Russian who built a really successful bank in Russia and he is incredibly brave, this statement that he has put out tonight, and there are a lot of

other Russian business people that I know who feel equally strongly that you know, that this war must stop and that Putin must stop what he has

embarked upon.

QUEST: What do you say, finally, Richard, what would you say, today, for example, Vladimir Putin saber rattled with a new intercontinental ballistic

missile, which had been in the works for a long time, but he chose to mention it today.

The U.S. says it's not going to do a no-fly zone because any of these extra military measures could drag NATO into an armed conflict with Russia. But

on the opposite side of that, of course, is, you know, is Chamberlain and 1930s. How far do you go before you don't -- how far do you appease before

you say no and no further? Where do you think we stand on this now?

BRANSON: Where, we, as business leaders stand is to say give the Ukrainians billions of dollars' worth of weapons, anti-aircraft weapons,

anti-tank weapons, protective gear for their citizens to wear when they go to war, and they will win this war for us all.

And I think that the West have made it clear, they're not going to get involved in a no-fly zone. So, I think we'll forget that one. But, you

know, don't talk about you know, we're going to put another $900 million. Make sure that every single weapon Ukraine needs is given to them and where

people have pledged weapons like Germany, they've got to hurry up and actually deliver on their pledges that they're being frighteningly slow,

and the Ukrainians need those weapons today, not in a month's time or two months' time.


QUEST: Sir Richard, good to see you, as always. Thank you.

Richard Branson joining me this evening. Thank you, sir. I appreciate it.

BRANSON: Thank you very much.

QUEST: Now, a Ukrainian Commander inside the besieged city of Mariupol said its defenders can't hold out much longer.

President Zelenskyy now says around 120,000 people are still trapped under heavy bombardment. Ukraine does not have enough serious and heavy weapons

to defend the city. The Marine Commander tells CNN the defenders might only have hours left.

Matt Rivers is with us from Lviv.

Matt, I don't want to forecast or predict what might be the result, but just listening to the comments coming out, it doesn't sound good, and if

Mariupol does -- essentially, Russia seems to have most of Mariupol to begin with, how does that change the military dynamic?

MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Sure. So let's start with the situation in that steel plan right now, Richard.

You're not wrong to say that it does appear that the fighters that are still there, the civilians that are still there, they're on their last

legs. And that's not us forecasting, that's not us predicting, that is what they are saying, the people on the ground are saying they only have days,

if not hours left.

And then when you hear them describe the conditions, it makes sense. There's some 500 or so military members that are wounded in there, there

are civilians who are wounded, you've got in some cases, military and civilians being treated right next to each other, according to the people

that are there.

Now CNN can't independently verify this information. We can't get into Mariupol, so we can't independently verify this. But this is what we're

hearing from the people who are on the ground who are telling us this is the conditions inside that steel plant.

Separately, a planned humanitarian corridor today did not go as planned, according to Ukraine's Deputy Prime Minister who said that the numbers of

people they were hoping to evacuate after finally agreeing to a humanitarian corridor did not materialize. She blamed the Russians for

that, for people not getting on the buses. But the effect is the same here, basically, that there are some 100,000 civilians that remain trapped that

needs to be evacuated that can't be.

Now to your point about the military. Richard, you're right. Russia basically has this entire city taken already, but they don't have the whole

thing taken. And until you take Mariupol, you cannot complete the land bridge between the Donbas region where this new Russian offensive has been

launched, and Crimea, which Russia annexed back in 2014-2015.

You also don't have an unfiltered access to another port on the Black Sea, which is something that Russia covets very much, but perhaps most

significantly, right now, if you still have somewhere, and estimates vary, but you've got 10,000 to 15,000 Russian troops that are not being added to

the frontlines in the east, that they're focused on Mariupol, that they're being distracted by the relatively small numbers of fighters there.

I think if you're looking for a military impact, the longer Mariupol holds out, the longer those Russian troops are distracted, and the longer there

numbers cannot be added to the Russian troops in east.

QUEST: Matt Rivers, thank you, sir, for the update. And you'll come back to us the moment there is more to report.

Now, I do want to clarify something quickly for you. During my conversation with Nic Robertson, we inadvertently showed you some pictures of the

Russian Finance Minister, Anton Siluanov, who is attending the G20 meetings virtually doing so.

At the time, I was speaking about the businessman Oleg Tinkov. So wrong pictures, right person or the other way around, whichever way you want to

look at it. But the gist is just to clarify, in case you are momentarily concerned.

Coming up next, talk about being momentarily concerned, Netflix, now it announced, it is losing subscribers. So the core issue, the question for

Brian Stelter, does the Netflix announcement justify losing more than a third of the company's share value? That's the issue, after the break.



QUEST: Pummeled, creamed, battered, collapsing -- you choose your own word.

Netflix shares absolutely under pressure, down 35 percent after the company said its subscription numbers are falling.

This is just extraordinary. The stock is down now more than 67 percent since its all-time high. Now telling you that the subscription numbers are

off, it is the first time in a decade that overall subscriptions are down. Apparently 200,000 users quit Netflix during the first three months of the

year, and the company says they expect two million more to leave in Q2. Its usual reasons of competition, withdrawal from Russia bearing in mind

700,000 were lost with Russia's exit and password sharing.

Today's drop resembles the one last earnings call. Now, just look. You can see the run up, you can see the pandemic run up in Netflix shares. And then

you see that first slide of 20 percent after the January report, and then it soared at the pandemic, and then it drops again, as we get to this

latest number.

Put it all together and you can see the situation, the gains have now evaporated. We're back to where we were in 2019 or earlier.

Brian is with me, Brian Stelter.

So I can see the reasons. I read Reed Hastings' comments, from your point of view, does the rot that led to this merit the sort of market reaction

we've seen?

BRIAN STELTER, CNN CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Well, 60 percent down year- to-date, including that 35 percent today, Disney stock down five percent as a result, Warner Bros-Discovery, our parent, down five percent, Roku down

five percent, all the streaming stocks impacted, but as you said, Richard, none more than Netflix.

Does this -- is this merited? Well, if you're an investor who bought into Netflix's story, believing that you could reach 600 million, 700 million,

800 million subscribers someday, then yes, then yes, this is merited because not only is Netflix saying they lost subscribers in the last

quarter, they're expecting slow growth, they're expecting a real disappointing quarter now in the next three months.

So if you bought into that fairy tale of streaming coming to a billion households in the next few years, then yes, this is a reality check.

QUEST: Which means the share price has to reflect what of course is a true EPS earnings per share for the company going forward as we know.

Now, but then so what did that fix though? All right, you've got a bit of password sharing, so you get rid of that. And you get -- you do a few

adverts by having us, you know, a cheaper version. But fundamentally, it's all about content, and people seem to like Netflix content. So what's the


STELTER: You let consumers speak and you make really, really great shows and movies that are going to appeal to them and keep them from canceling. I

mean, this has always been a three-part system in the streaming wars.

It is about number one, getting the customer in the first place, getting them to sign up; then engagement, keeping them engaged. Number three,

retention, not letting them cancel. Netflix has not given enough people enough reasons not to cancel.


And so, you know, it is as simple as it is complex, right? Make great shows and ward off your competitors. That's the big X factor there, Richard.

QUEST: But they are spending --

STELTER: There are so many rivals right now.

QUEST: They spend a billion on production, their shows are loved. They have even in different --

STELTER: I don't know about that. My wife loves "Bridgerton" right now, but I can't name five Netflix shows that I have to watch right now. I know

I need to watch "Severance" on Apple TV. I know I need to watch "Winning Time" on HBO Max.

I think Netflix has a meh problem, where some of their shows are just meh, that they aren't -- I think there's partly a perception in the marketplace,

you don't have enough amazing shows that people have to go watch. But look, that might just be a perception problem. This might be a marketing problem

for Netflix.

More broadly, though, it's a mature marketplace. They can try to crack down on password sharing, and they will. They can add an ad-supported model and

they will, but this has been I think, frankly, Richard, and this has been a year or two coming, where investors are looking around thinking how big is

this marketplace really when there are five or six big streaming platforms, and maybe now we're finding out the answer is it's not as big as people


QUEST: Including ourselves. Thank you, WM -- Warner Brothers. WB, thank you, Brian Stelter.

Now, what's happening with Netflix, it's a wider story about the soaring cost of living, people, you and me making decisions when you've only got so

much money, so you've got your housing, utilities, your food, your transportation, and then entertainment. Inflation is driving things up, so

people make cuts there.

A study in the U.K. found that more people are canceling their streaming service to save money. One and a half million dropped subscriptions in Q1.

Suze Orman, wonderful that Suze Orman who is a personal finance expert, and the host of "Women and Money" Podcast, she joins me, Suze.

So the traditional view, you know, is that biscuits and cakes were recession proof. We always bought something cookies and cakes, because we

had to sort of feel good even in bad times, but streaming is different.

SUZE ORMAN, PODCAST HOST, "WOMEN AND MONEY": Streaming is different, and especially since there are so many different ways that you can stream. So

the truth of the matter is, people are being heard everywhere because of inflation.

But you know, Richard, it depends who you are. You have people where everything is going up, and it is so much more expensive, and they're fine,

they have the money.

And then you have people who really are starting to count their pennies. Their rent is going up, their interest rates are going up on their credit

cards, gasoline is going up. So what can they do without? And for many people, streaming is something they absolutely can do without in their


QUEST: So when -- on a wider issue here, because we haven't got obviously a global audience and the facts may be different, the individualities are

different. But the principles remain the same.

To those people who are having difficulty making ends meet because interest rates have gone up, because of inflation, where do you start? What's your


ORMAN: Well, the truth of the matter is, it's actually very simple. You spend less and you save more. Now, many people are going to say, but Suze,

I'm living paycheck to paycheck, I have no place that I can save, oh yes, you do.

Look at the restaurants all throughout, at least the United States, I'm sure that same is going on all over the world. Look at the sporting events.

Look at the places that you are going and spending money that you did not spend a year or so ago.

So it's very simple. If you are really struggling out there, and you're like, "Oh my God, I don't have enough money at the end of the month to pay

my bills." Just do a list, and what are you spending your money on and divide it between needs and wants. If it's a want, meaning you want to go

out to a restaurant, you want to go and see a movie, you want to do these things and you are struggling, Richard, you can't do that.

Right now, you have to only spend money on needs and really live a life where you are cutting back. It's really just that simple.

QUEST: And for those who are looking at markets and yes, we are stuck in it now, but we're going to be in this sort of morass for the next three or

four years. If you're retiring and you haven't made proper accommodation between stocks and bonds and you have a lot of equity risk, you're in


ORMAN: Yes, you are in trouble. However, what you always had to remember was money that you need within a five-year period of time is not money

that's ever belonged in the stock market. Everybody should have even in their retirement accounts, once they have retired three to five years of a

cash reserve.

So at times like this, when the markets are going down, you're not taking your money from stocks, you're taking your money from where? From cash.

Bonds, Richard are where people are really getting hurt, because they thought they were going to be safe in bonds. But when interest rates go up,

the value of bonds go down, especially bond funds.


So you really, really should be looking at high yielding, dividend paying stocks with good cash flow. And that could really serve you well at times

like this, consumer staple stocks, things that people need to put money into.

QUEST: Suze, I love, no matter how grim the financial outlook, you always manage to make it at least bright to listen to and follow through. Thank

you, I appreciate your time tonight.

When we return, the war on Ukraine is making Russia an international pariah. Tennis players not welcome at Wimbledon from Russia and Belarus.




QUEST: Wimbledon has banned Russian and Belarusian players from the most prestigious event on the calendar.

The All England Club said in its statement, "In the circumstances of such unjustified and unprecedented military aggression, it would be unacceptable

for the Russian regime to derive any benefits from the involvement of Russian or Belarusian players."

This could turn the whole thing upside down. Two Russian men are ranked in the world's top 10. CNN sports contributor, senior editor of "Racquet

Magazine," Ben Rothenberg, is with me.

That's enough of it, isn't it?


However unfair it is on the players involved, unacceptable for the Russian regime to derive any benefit and to some extent the very reaction of

Russia, saying it's unacceptable, we have some of the best players and it will demean, it'll dilute the competition if they're not there.

BEN ROTHENBERG, CNN SPORT CONTRIBUTOR: That's the question, is basically is the benefit that the Russian regime may get from success at Wimbledon by

some of their players and Belarus as well, is that word "discrimination," used in the statement opposing this, to these players, these nationalities

by barring them from the competition.

This is a stance that Wimbledon took relatively unilaterally in the sport and not necessarily by echoing and cosigning by the other governing bodies

in the sport thus far. So it'll be an interesting debate to have about how much benefit or harm is caused by the decision one way or another.

QUEST: What's it looking like for the French Open?

ROTHENBERG: The French Open as of now, the Russians and Belarusians are still eligible to compete under the terms they have been in tennis this

year. So they can be in the draw but the words "Russia" and "Belarus" will not appear next to their names in the draw or on the scoreboard and same

with the flag.

There will be a blank space where the national representations of all the other players go.

QUEST: If you took a straw poll amongst tennis aficionados or those leading the sport, is there a consensus?

ROTHENBERG: I don't think there's a consensus yet for sure. It's still new news and we'll hear reaction from some of the top players who haven't yet

spoken. There's a big tournament in Madrid next week. So probably hear more from them there.

But it'll be divisive for sure. Ukrainian players also very outspoken and have been calling for this quite a while. So they'll get some support while

also some players will feel some sympathy for their Russian colleagues, who haven't done anything to directly support the war in any way.

QUEST: Ben, thank you.

Efforts to isolate the Russian economy are being limited by its ties with Western corporations. The "Financial Times" says nearly 200,000 people in

Russia are on the payroll of Western companies.

As hopes are fading for a quick end, there are fears Russia could, many of those people could be soon unemployed. Western companies committed to

paying wages after the war began.

How long that will last, of course, is the issue. The billionaire founder of the Russian digital bank we've been talking about is urging the West to

help Russia find an off-ramp to stop the massacre. Oleg Tinkov claims 90 percent of Russians are against what he calls Putin's war.

Andrei Illarionov is a former economic adviser to the Russian president, he's now senior fellow at the Cato Institute and he's with me from


Sir, when we look at the position, what -- the Russian president says the sanctions aren't hurting. The Russian central bank governor says they're

going to hurt soon and it's going to get worse.

And the question about unemployment is really the big one.

How much breathing space do you think there is?

ANDREI ILLARIONOV, CENTER FOR SECURITY POLICY: Hello, nice to meet with you. To be correct, I am now with the Center for Security Policy, a senior

fellow there.

As for your question, so sanctions imposed on the Russian regime for the aggression against Ukraine started to be felt by the regular population.

But they did not reach the level that it should be.

And some of those sanctions will be felt only all the time. How long, we don't know yet, because the war is not stopped yet. And new sanctions is --

not all sanctions have been implemented so far.

For example, even the central bank foreign exchange reserves have been frozen. But nevertheless, central bank was able to pay initial payments

from the frozen assets back in March.

Central bank was not able to do it in April. And it's still a question mark whether he'll be able to do it in May. So this is a process. And each week

and each month, making the life in Russia harder and harder.

QUEST: What is the -- if you like, the ratcheting up?

What is the one thing that President Putin will fear happening on the economic front from -- either from sanctions or from economic effect?

What's the one thing he fears most?

ILLARIONOV: There is no one thing. This is a very complicated life. But there are some things that can produce much more serious impact on the

decision-making process in Kremlin.

One of those things is the introduction of real embargo on Russian oil and gas exported, first of all, to the Western countries as well as around the

world. Right now, Russia, that we speak about, Kremlin, actually, Putin himself.


This is about $US 1 billion per day to finance his war machine from the export of energy resources from Russia.

It is crucially important to stop this flow of foreign exchange reserves into the coffers of Kremlin and the pockets of Putin.

How to do it?

It is necessary to establish a real embargo on Russian energy export, on oil, on gas and, first of all, to the West, to European countries.

QUEST: Right.

Can the relationship with China substitute -- can business trade with Southeast Asia or with Asia, how much of a substitute can that be for trade

with the E.U.?

ILLARIONOV: For the moment, China consumes probably between 10 percent and 15 percent of the Russian export of energy materials. In southeastern Asian

countries or some other countries who are not participating in the sanctions program, it might raise this level up to 20 percent.

Yes, it would be some little window but about 80 percent of energy export will be under impact of sanctions. So that is why it will have a very

devastating blow to the flow of energy resources into Kremlin.

That is why it is absolutely necessary to introduce a shared embargo and that embargo can be done in a very smart way. It can be done in a way that

the money that is being paid by Western consumers would not go to Putin but would be accumulated at special escrow accounts, from which there will be

directed to Ukraine, to help Ukraine resist aggression and to repair damage made to Ukraine by Russian troops.

QUEST: Sir, I'm grateful. We will talk more as this gets more complicated with high sanctions. I'm grateful you're with us tonight. Thank you.

QUEST MEANS BUSINESS. The French president and his far right challenger are in debate as we speak. A pivotal moment in the French presidential

election. Live pictures coming to you and, as you can see there, head to head in the debate.





QUEST: It takes patience and determination to devote your life to protecting a reclusive animal. The Rolex Award laureate Shafqat Hussain has

spent 20 years studying the snow leopard in his native Pakistan and he's never seen one in the wild.

He's our guest editor for "Call to Earth" this quarter and brings to us the first of three special reports on big cats under threat around the world.


SHAFQAT HUSSAIN, CNN GUEST EDITOR, "CALL TO EARTH" (voice-over): It is really a spectacular area of the world. And especially winter. it's so

beautiful. The sense of remoteness, the sense of isolation is really acute.

And when you go further, higher up or deeper into the heart of the mountains, there is a very good chance that a snow leopard might walk right

in front of me.

The first time I heard a snow leopard roar, I still remember, a long time ago. Suddenly, I heard this roaring call. I mean, if anything, it was just

sheer wildness.

My name is Shafqat Hussain. I am a professor of anthropology at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. I work on a snow leopard conservation

project in northern Pakistan that has been running for the last 20 years.

(Speaking foreign language).

I have never seen a snow leopard in the wild. You are dealing with an animal that is very, very elusive and its habitat is really difficult to

study. Many times I have told my colleagues when, you know, we are setting up camera traps or doing surveys, that I'm sure a snow leopard is watching

me from somewhere up there.

They are incessant communicators. I'm wonder what they would do if they had all this new social media technology, right, because just like we human

beings here, they are always connecting.

And you can see the snow leopard kind of doing the same by leaving all these marks in their territory, whether it's a spray or leaving their cheek

hair, as if these cats are trying to communicate with other cats in this big, vast and empty landscape.

We have been working in close to 25 villages in the region of Balochistan (ph); 95 percent of these people keep livestock and they also have small

agricultural feeds. And every now and then their livestock gets attacked by predators such as snow leopard. That really brings a huge economic loss for

these people.

So then they retaliate by attacking and killing these predators. We have set up close to 20 small microinsurance programs where local people get

compensated for their losses. The other strategy is to construct predator- proof corrals, because that is very impactful in the long run in reducing mortality from snow leopard attacks.

We're also implementing the conservation education program. Unless we get the human equation side right, it's very difficult to sustain any

conservation effort in the long run.

We think that, in our area, we can claim that snow leopard population is stable. There's also a threat from climate change and global warming, with

receding iceline. But I think snow leopards will definitely be around for a long, long time. I hope that, in the years to come, snow leopard sighting

will become an everyday phenomenon.


QUEST: Gosh, absolutely, well, it was just phenomenal.

What are you doing?

I'm more interested what you are doing to answer the call?

Answer the call with #CallToEarth.





QUEST: Right now, Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen are holding their one presidential debate before the runoff election this weekend. France votes

Sunday. Le Pen attacked Macron on energy prices and inflation.


MARINE LE PEN, FAR RIGHT FRENCH PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (through translator): I must here again be the spokesperson of the French people,

because, Mr. Macron, I heard you.

With your government, you are delighted to have increased French people's purchasing power. But me, I only saw French people who told me about their

problems in purchasing power. I only saw French people who told me that they can't make it anymore, they can't get by, they can't make ends meet at

the end of the month.


QUEST: Now the president turned back and turned on to Le Pen about the lack of detail in her policies.


EMMANUEL MACRON, PRESIDENT OF FRANCE (through translator): I am proud that, all together, we have made it possible to create 1.2 million pay

slips. Because I was looking at your program, your 22 measures, there is not even the word "unemployment" in it, which is striking.


QUEST: Melissa, so he's a little bit ahead in the polls and it looks like his lead is increasing.

I mean, what's the latest thinking?

MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: All about really tonight's debate, as you said Richard, this is the only one of the campaign, partly because Macron

has been on the road dealing with other issues, specifically dealing with the war in Ukraine.

But also because he had chosen not to debate with any other candidates. This is the only debate you'll have at all in a race that really sets out

two starkly different visions of France.

It just began on that cost of living, now moved on to Russia, on to Europe, so the starkly different visions can be exposed for all of France to see.

But there is so much of this at stake in this election, Richard.

The polls have been extremely narrow, just a couple of weeks ago, polls not this narrow since 1974 for a second round. You're quite right, they have



Now you just heard that clip there from Le Pen. That's been at the heart of her campaign. Remember this is a term for Emmanuel Macron that has seen the

Yellow Vest protests, a great deal of anger over economic issues. That's what she's been trying to capitalize on, what the debate began on.


QUEST: -- because of that loan she'd taken from a Russian bank --

QUEST: Let me jump in here, Melissa.

Is there a feeling because of Russia and Ukraine that you don't want to change horses in midstream?

Because -- I mean I could use a thousand more cliches, better the devil you know than the one you don't, stick with what you know rather than change,

because it's just too uncertain at the moment?

BELL: I think that had very much been the thinking as this all began, a campaign that kicked off as the war began, changing everything, leaving

some of the candidates, including Le Pen, on the wrong side of history, given their proximity to the Kremlin and their calls for more dialogue with

Russia and fewer sanctions against it when it misbehaved in Ukraine.

But I think that changed as we saw those polls narrow, simply because -- and I think this is one of the things surprising to people outside of

France -- albeit Macron's deep unpopularity in the country, not just expressed through the Yellow Vest protests but through the first round of


You'll remember, Richard, on April 11th, when the French voted for the first time, of course, Le Pen and Macron came out first, which is why

they're facing each other on Sunday.

The far left candidate came within a whisker of taking that second place. And that really speaks to the dissatisfaction of a lot of French people.

The question is whether the French people who voted for him will hold their noses and vote for Macron. And that is uncertain at this stage.

QUEST: Thank you, Melissa, we'll talk more.

I'll have a "Profitable Moment" for you after the break.




QUEST: Tonight's "Profitable Moment" on this program: you've heard two voices tonight. One a former adviser to President Putin, the other Sir

Richard Branson. Both say the same thing: the key to sanction success against Russia is an embargo on oil and gas by the European Union.

Branson makes the point, $1 billion a day going to Russia, which finances the war. We talked about this many times on the program. Yes, I know the

difficulties there would be if you suddenly stopped for Austria, Netherlands, Germany in particular.

But Branson came up with a variety of solutions that could help mitigate that, everything from turning down the air conditioners to driving a bit

slower on the roads.

The reality is, do you want to get serious about sanctions or not?

There is a consensus that, people, if you're going to be serious about sanctions, then you need to sanction and embargo Russian oil and gas for

European countries. That is a simple fact. And I'm guessing that, until you do, President Putin will simply think you're not serious and will spend the

billion that you're sending regardless.

And that's QUEST MEANS BUSINESS tonight, I'm Richard Quest in New York. Whatever you're up to in the hours ahead, I hope it's profitable. Join me

tomorrow in Washington.