Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Live Event/Special

IPC: Russian and Belarusian Athletes not Allowed to Compete at 2022 Winter Paralympics; Biden Admin Seeks $10B Ukraine Aid Amid Ongoing Russian Invasion; Officials Warn Russia Could Focus on Bloody, Deadly Bombardment of Ukrainian Cities and Civilian Targets; Ukrainian Jews to Putin: "Leave us alone, you Bastard"; Putin told Macron he will Continue War in Ukraine. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired March 03, 2022 - 09:30   ET




BECKY ANDERSON, CNN HOST: Hello, I'm Becky Anderson in Abu Dhabi, with more continuing coverage of the war in Ukraine. And according to a Western intelligence report, Chinese officials asked senior Russian officials to wait until after the Beijing Winter Olympics before invading Ukraine.

U.S. officials believe the report is credible. China says it's a smear. The invasion began of course four days after the closing ceremonies. But it's unclear whether President Xi personally made requests when he met with Russia's President Vladimir Putin at the start of the games.

Beijing is denying a report and says it is an attempt to "Divert attention and blame". Well, Russian and Belarusian athletes meantime will not be allowed to compete in the Winter Paralympics in Beijing. International Paralympic Committee says the decision comes after multiple teams said they would not compete in the games if Russia and Belarus were allowed in.

Now we're learning that Russia is appealing that ban Andy Scholes joining me live from Atlanta with more on this, Andy.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: Yes, Becky. So yes, the International Paralympic Committee they reverse course now saying that athletes from Russia and Belarus will not be allowed to compete in the Paralympics and the IPC says they made that decision because multiple countries threatened to pull out of the games if Russian athletes were allowed to compete under even under a neutral flag.

IPC President Andrew Parsons saying this morning that the rapidly escalating situation is now put us in a unique and impossible position to the point that ensuring the safety of athletes has become untenable. Now Parsons, though, did defend the initial decision to allow those athletes to compete blaming governments and politics for having too much influence in the process and he did apologize to the 83 athletes who will now not be able to compete.

A Kremlin Spokesperson, meanwhile, called the decision a disgrace, while the Russian Paralympic Committee called the decision to expel its athletes baseless and illegal, adding that their athletes are not involved in the current political complications.

Russia state news agency is reporting that Russia will appeal the ban to the Court of Arbitration for Sport and Becky they'd like a decision on that appeal before Friday's opening ceremony.

ANDERSON: Meantime, we've learned Formula One is terminating its Grand Prix Deal with Russia. What do you mean? What more do we know about this, Andy?

SCHOLES: Well, so Becky Formula One said on Thursday, it's no longer going to race in Russia after it terminated its contract with the promoter of the Russian Grand Prix. Now the 2022 running of the event which was due to take place in September, at Sochi's Olympic Park it was canceled last week following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The Russian Grand Prix it was due to move from Sochi to a new purpose built circuit just outside St. Petersburg. That was going to happen in 2023. But it's no longer going to happen now. And you know, with the growing popularity of Formula One around the world, Becky, you know, there's a long list of suitors that will likely or be campaigning to fill that slot in the calendar but one thing is for sure it will not be taking place in Russia.

ANDERSON: Thank you, Andy. Andy Scholes on the stories for you! The Russian owner of the legendary English Football Club Chelsea says he plans to sell it. Billionaire Roman Abramovich made the announcement on Wednesday saying move will be in the best interests of the club fans, employees and sponsors.


ANDERSON: Now look, we learned last week he gave stewardship of the club over to trustees Abramovich said when the sale takes place net proceeds will be donated to a foundation set up to help those affected by Russia's invasion or the quiet how expects that to happen at the moment is not clear.

Well, as Russia's invasion of Ukraine intensifies Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, has delivered another stirring message reminding Ukrainians why they should keep defending their freedom against Russian forces have a listen.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT: In our history and on our land we survived two world wars, three famines, the Holocaust, - the great terror, Chernobyl explosion, occupation of Crimea and war on the east of our country. We don't have a great territory from one ocean to the other.

We have no nuclear weapons. We don't fill the world market with oil and gas. But we have our people, our land, and this is our goal. And this is what we are fighting for. We have nothing to lose but our freedom, our dignity. This is our biggest treasure. They wanted to destroy us so many times but they couldn't they wanted to raise us from the face of the earth.

And they couldn't. They hit us in the back and we are still standing. They wanted us to sit silent, but the whole world can hear us.


ANDERSON: Well, a reminder if you would like to help people in Ukraine you may be in need of shelter, food and water. Please do use There you can find ways to donate. Well, our coverage continues with Jim Sciutto and Erica Hill up after this stay with us.


JIM SCIUTTO, CNN HOST: Of dollars in new aid for Ukraine as it continues to fight off the Russian invasion, the president seeking $10 billion to address Ukraine's humanitarian, economic and also security needs. The aid would be part of a much larger emergency funding request, which includes more than $22 billion to shore up the U.S. effort to fight Coronavirus as well.

I'm joined now by Colorado Senator Michael Bennett. He serves on both the Intelligence and Finance Committee. Senator thanks so much for taking the time this morning!

SEN. MICHAEL BENNET (D-CO): Thanks, Jim for having me. I really appreciate it.

SCIUTTO: So we are watching here the slow annihilation, as the Pentagon describes the Russian strategy of what was until a week ago for most of the country a peaceful country. I know you do not support U.S. troops on the ground it's the position of the Biden Administration as well.


SCIUTTO: No no-fly zone, because both those things would put U.S. forces into direct deadly conflict potentially with Russian forces. I wonder if Ukraine falls if this progress continues will you still believe that.

BENNET: Well looks, Jim, this is a devastating attack on Ukraine. And we have to do everything we can right now to supply the Ukrainians with lethal aid that they can use to try to fend off this criminal Putin, this tyrant Putin. And that's what we're going to do.

I think that I did, my view is that we should not put U.S. troops on the ground or in harm's way in Ukraine. And I think that's the Biden Administrations' view as well. But we have to do absolutely everything we can do, as an international community, to try to slow Putin's progress and to punish him as hard as we can. And to me, it's gratifying to see the way the international community has mobilized to do that.

BENNET: I just wonder if it's enough, right. We heard Sergei Lavrov say today that this campaign is going to continue right no matter what the costs, in effect, and CNN's reporting that yes, Russia has suffered losses, perhaps three to 5 percent of their total for us, but Ukraine has suffered 10 percent losses, and it's a smaller force as you know, the direction lines are not good. Is the West doing enough?

BENNET: Yes, I think the direction lines are not good. And while we should hope, that Ukrainians are going to be able to stop this, and I hope that Ukrainians will be able to stop this and that Putin will seek a political off ramp of some kind. That's not what we should expect; because the numbers are just the numbers is what you just described them to be.

But this is an attack, not just on Ukraine, this attack on democracy; it's an attack on the ability of humans to determine their futures. And I don't think that we should be going to war with this with Russia. We've just spent 20 years fighting two wars in the Middle East. That, by the way, I think was a tragic mistake for the United States of America.

We shouldn't have done that. This is not the same situation. But I think that we have to be disciplined about this. We have to offer the Ukrainians all the aid we can. We need to summon the world to push back on Putin. And I think that's what we're trying to do.

But there is a - I'm not going to say that it's inevitable that Putin is going to succeed here militarily. I think it's inevitable that he has made a horrendous decision for himself for the world and for humanity, the United States has to stand up for democracy and to the Ukrainian people.

SCIUTTO: Is this though, perhaps a 1939 moment in that? Are we confident that Putin stops at Ukraine, if he doesn't believe Ukraine is a country that somehow part of the greater Russian Empire? He feels the same way about Belarus, which is already subjugated? He doesn't believe the Baltic Republics should be independent. Why should we believe he stops here?

BENNET: Well, I don't think we should believe that. I think we should reserve the right to change our position if he goes beyond Ukraine. You know, my mom and her parents were Polish Jews who barely survived the Holocaust in Warsaw, they and my aunt were the only ones that got out.

I can tell you that nobody in my family, including myself, is assuming anything about what this lunatic is going to do? When you saw him the other night on television talking about, you know, throwing of all people, Vladimir Lenin over the side, saying Lenin gave away Ukraine and sort of making himself into a Peter the Great figure, reestablishing the Russian Empire. We should be very clear eyed about what is possible here. So I think we need to stand up the way we are we need to lead the rest of the world. We need to be pleased that Germany and Switzerland and others have come in in ways that I think a lot of people didn't expect, and we're going to have to do what's necessary.

And again, this is a battle. The President is right about this. We are living in an era speak in 1939. When what's on offer here is totalitarianism versus democracy. And whether you think about what Putin is doing in Russia today, or what China is doing with their state sponsored capitalism?

They believe democracies when they looked at January 6th, what they said is America can't lead democracy is ruined. And what we have to do in this moment and show them that we're here to fight for the people of Ukraine and the right of human beings to determine their future.


SCIUTTO: Senator Bennet until a week ago, a Former American President, a Former American Secretary of State, many on right wing media, regardless of what they're saying, now, until a week ago, they were defending praising even Vladimir Putin. By doing so, were they emboldening him? Were they in effect, aiding and abetting?

BENETT: Of course. Of course. Of course, it's tragic and outrageous. You know, some have said that it's treasonous, you know, people can make their own judgments about that. But when the Russian television is playing the words of cable television hosts in America to support what Putin is doing when a Former President of the United States is championing this kind of outrageous behavior, it's pathetic.

And by the way, I think I'd say this is an opportunity. The other thing is this is an opportunity for people in this country, to say it's time for us to put our divisions aside, to unify and to begin to work together because our internal divisions are a threat to democracy as well.

SCIUTTO: Well, Russia celebrates them we know very publicly. Senator Michael Bennet thanks so much for joining us.

BENNET: Thank you Jim. Thank you.

SCIUTTO: We'll be right back.



ERICA HILL, CNN HOST: Breaking news, Russia's government owned airline has just been yanked from the global reservation system and what could be yet another crippling blow to the economy and to travel specifically in that country. CNN's Pete Muntean joining me live now. So Pete just give us a sense, what is how broad is the impact of this move? PETE MUNTEAN, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erica, this is pretty huge. This is called Sabre it is the reservation system that is at the backbone of airlines worldwide. And they just announced that the Russian government owned carrier the flag carrier of Russia, Aeroflot has now been cut off from what's called the Global Distribution System.

This is so critical to airlines everywhere it makes it so that an airline is represented online on travel sites like Google Flights, Expedia, Travelocity, et cetera also at travel agencies, also by corporations when they try and book airlines.

Also, this essentially cuts off the airline from itself that cannot now make bookings for passengers to be on Aeroflot flights, just the latest signal of how increasingly isolated Russia is becoming from the rest of the Western world.

Just yesterday, we saw the U.S. restrictions go into place barring Russian civilian aircraft from U.S. airspace. We know that plenty of other Western countries have done that as well not only Canada, but also the European Union. This is just getting worse and worse for the travel industry in Russia and it's getting increasingly hard to get out of there.

But this is so big you know, Sabre is as central as so many airlines and many industry analysts have been waiting for something like this to happen. And now it is it's pretty huge, Erica.

HILL: Yes, it is. Pete appreciate it thank you. Russia meantime, is doubling down on its baseless, outrageous claim that it invaded Ukraine to get rid of Nazis and now a group of Ukrainian Jews who survived the Holocaust are calling out that claim for the light is.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: On June 22 1942 during war I was in Kyiv being shelled. My relatives were killed in Babyn Yar. February 24 in 2022 I'm in Kyiv again being shelled. Putin, withdraw your army and get out of Ukraine! It's a horrifying monstrosity. Putin, I hope you die! Leave us alone, you bastard!


HILL: CNN International Diplomatic Editor, Nic Robertson, joining us now from Moscow. So Nic, I know you're also learning more about a call that Vladimir Putin just had with French President Emmanuel Macron about his goal in Ukraine. But what do you know about that call?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, frank and difficult. That's how the Kremlin's describing it. The best way to think about these phone calls between Putin and people like Emmanuel Macron, a few weeks ago, these were the sort of the place where there might be some diplomatic hope that things could move forward.

When international leaders were appealing to Putin's better will and telling him what could happen if he invaded Ukraine. The state of these calls now is not like that. This went very much sort of Putin's way, if you will, but according to the Kremlin, Putin told Macron that if these peace talks with Ukraine don't speed up and get results, then he is going to essentially increase the pressure on Ukrainians who is going to switch up his demands of demilitarization and neutrality from Ukraine.

No mention here in this phone conversation at all about Russia backing off with all the sort of missiles and bombs and attacks that it's having on Ukrainian civilians. So the calls have really radically changed in their nature. And the reality is that this is leaders trying to sort of take Putin to temperature and right now, you know, listen to the readout from the Kremlin. Still seems pretty red hot.

HILL: Yes, it certainly does. Meantime, we are seeing more and more of these images of protests of people out on the streets in Russia what more are you hearing about how this is being viewed in Russia and how accurate is the information they're getting Nic?


ROBERTSON: The information people get off state media here is woefully inaccurate. It doesn't provide information about the civilian casualties. It doesn't provide information about the missiles landing in civilian neighborhoods or landing on government buildings.

The narrative that's being put out here is that the Ukrainian military is hiding their weapons in civilian neighborhoods but this was a war that the Russians just had to do that this was seven years of, you know, built up Ukrainian, you know, provocation.

This is the Russian line. This is what's on state media here. And I was out talking to people on the streets just the last couple of hours. And I would say about two thirds of them by that message from the Government. There's a lot that don't. There's a lot that believe they're being fed allies, they don't like it.

They don't want the war in their name. The split is younger people more sympathetic to Ukrainians, older generation, not so much.

HILL: Nic Robertson, always appreciate it. Thank you. Well, Ukrainian cities under attack, we've been showing you the images in our next hour we're going take you to Kyiv around the ground with more on Ukrainian resistance as Russian forces make their way to the capital city.


ANDERSON: Well, breaking news for you now Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is speaking live let's listen.

ZELENSKY: I'm sorry but I will speak Ukrainian language is it OK? You have parallel transition? Andrew sit down please. You are too much. Can you hear me well?

First I want to thank you for gathering here. I'm grateful for your bravery that you were not afraid to come here journalist profession is such and that you are not afraid to come and you're here together. I am feeling you are all a bit Ukrainian. I'm sure you have many questions to me or to us. But I think that's - there are answers in the streets.

You can see them and you're getting them not from the news or other sources. We need to go and see and touch it. See the checkpoints, see the gunshots, and see the consequences of bombardment. You can see our strong people and our territorial defense.