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Russian Strikes Around Ukraine's Capital Intensifying; New Video From Kyiv Outskirts Shows Civilian Areas Targeted; Ukrainian Member Of Parliament Joins Fight Against Russian Forces; U.S., Allies To Suspend Normal Trade Relations With Russia; Poroshenko: Ukraine Providing The "End Of The Russian Empire". Aired 6-7p ET
Aired March 12, 2022 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now. Breaking News: Fighting rages near Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine, as Russian forces inch closer and closer.
Putin's troops now just about 15 miles from the center of the city, that according to British Intelligence. All this as other Ukrainian cities endure a much more shelling from the Russian onslaught. It's nonstop.
President Zelenskyy saying today that some small towns across the country -- in President Zelenskyy's his words -- simply don't exist anymore after coming under relentless Russian attack.
As you can see here, one of those towns, a village just west of the capital of Kyiv has been completely obliterated after more than two weeks of constant bombardment.
The United Nations reports more than 1,500 Ukrainian civilian casualties since the start of the Russian invasion, including 579 deaths among those killed at least 42 children.
In the battered eastern city of Mariupol, buses filled with food, water, and other necessities are arriving to help residents who've been stranded for days without critical supplies.
President Zelenskyy is once again pleading with the West, pleading, to implement a no-fly zone over Ukraine, while also demanding the release of an elected mayor who was detained by armed demand and replaced with a Russian-backed official.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): The public demands his release. I am grateful to every person in Melitopol' for this stance. The occupiers must see that they are aliens here, that they are foreign to the entire land of Ukraine, that they will never be accepted.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Ukraine's former President tells CNN that Putin's war in Ukraine will mark the end of the Russian Empire.
We want to welcome our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer and this is a Special Edition of THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.
BLITZER: Since the start of the war over two weeks ago, Russian forces have targeted the capital city, Kyiv, and while their offensive has slowed, it has certainly not stopped, and it now threatens civilians and soldiers alike.
Joining us now to discuss the situation on the ground in Ukraine, Marcus Yam, foreign correspondent and photojournalist for "The Los Angeles Times." He's joining us live from Kyiv right now.
Marcus, thanks for joining us. Thanks for all your amazing and wonderful reporting of that's going on. Very courageous, indeed.
I know you've been on the ground in Ukraine since the beginning of the Russian invasion. It's now Week Three. What do you want the world to know about what you're seeing happen to the people of Ukraine?
MARCUS YAM, FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT AND PHOTOJOURNALIST, "THE LOS ANGELES TIMES": Essentially, all I'm thinking right now, I mean, today, we were in Irpin', the besieged town northwest of Kyiv and we could see soldiers streaming and the Ukrainian Armed Forces, platoons -- squads and platoons of them slowly marching into Irpin' and hoping to reinforce and fortify that city and push back Russian forces.
The few soldiers that I spoke to were pretty upbeat. And they were carrying lots and lots of weapons going in. And I think what we'll hope, -- and civilians are still making their way out of these cities, some refuse to evacuate, some have remained and are hopeful that the Ukrainian forces could just recapture and push back the Russians.
BLITZER: Are you seeing the Russian military specifically targeting Ukrainian civilians?
YAM: I don't -- I have not seen that personally, but I've definitely seen bodies of dead civilians on the ground in Irpin' and we have no clue as to how they were killed, but most of them have gunshot wounds to them.
BLITZER: As you capture the heartbreaking plight of these Ukrainian civilians, how do you deal with what you're seeing, Marcus, on a personal level?
YAM: On a personal level, I just remind myself I have a job to do. And for the most part, I guess I haven't figured that out just yet, just absorbing it all.
BLITZER: You're a journalist, you're trying to do the job, report the news as fairly and as accurately as you possibly can despite the heartbreak that's going on right now, what you're seeing and I know what, Marcus, a few months ago, you were also in Kabul in Afghanistan during the rather chaotic withdrawal of U.S. troops.
BLITZER: And now you're in Kyiv, another city on edge right now waiting, as Russian forces are drawing closer and closer to the Capitol. Is there anything in the situation in the Ukrainian capital that actually reminds you of what you saw in Afghanistan?
YAM: Not really. I mean, that these two conflicts are very different and I don't think there is quite a comparison in that sense. I mean, like everybody expected a standoff in Afghanistan once the U.S. forces pulled out, but we never saw that.
But in this sense, there is a final show -- I think there is going to be a final showdown with the way the city is fortified all over. I mean, Russian forces are trying to make a pincer move from the northwest and the northeast right now and they are spreading out their forces to try to surround the city.
So I think in that sense -- and I think people are fighting back, people are willing to fight back and I think there is some hope for the city.
BLITZER: Let's hope indeed.
Marcus stay safe over there. As I tell all of our CNN journalists on the ground in Ukraine right now, be careful. We will stay in touch, Marcus Yam joining us from "The Los Angeles Times." Appreciate it very much.
And one thing we've seen again and again since the war began is the resilience and the determination of the Ukrainian people and that includes Kira Rudik. She is a key member of the Ukrainian Parliament, a former business executive who has actually taken up arms against Putin's forces and Kira Rudik is joining us right now.
Kira, we've spoken several times over these past few weeks. What can you tell us about what you're seeing right now? I know you're in Kyiv. What are the conditions like where you are?
KIRA RUDIK, UKRAINIAN MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT: Hi, Wolf. Thank you for having me.
Well, last time we spoke, I promised you that we will be standing, so it is Day 18 and we are still standing.
We do have enough water and food supplies. However, it's heartbreaking what Russians are doing with the Air Force with the outskirts of Kyiv. So I have been helping out with taking out refugees from the destroyed city of Irpin'. You cannot imagine, it is like you have the peaceful suburbs where people used to go when they reach certain paths in life, and now, it's like everything is gone and people flee from there.
I have been helping refugees on the Central Train Station where all the refugees from the east are fleeing to get to the western regions where it is safe and like each family has its own tragedy, the tragedy that will never go away. The tragedies that is just will be with them forever.
And this is super heartening, but this is also what makes us to stay stronger, and make sure that the Russian forces will not get into the city of Kyiv.
My resistance team is finally registered with the officials. So congratulations as are official now, and we are part of the resistance team in Ukraine, which is a part of the Armed Forces.
So we have been training. We are now receiving some tasks that we complete and we prepare to defend the city as well as we plan to do.
BLITZER: Yesterday, you told CNN, Kira, that you were helping refugees at that train station in Irpin' as they were trying to flee to safety.
As we see Russia now attacking parts of western Ukraine, not just eastern Ukraine, what are you seeing and hearing from civilians who are clearly and understandably so desperate to find at least somewhere safe to go with their families?
RUDIK: Like three or four days ago, people said we are fleeing to the western cities. And right now when I'm asking them, they say, we are just fleeing somewhere, anywhere. We just want to go somewhere, we don't know where.
So they are fleeing farther to the west, and then they are fleeing to Poland, which has been actually magnificent and generous with us and were accepting our people and helping them out, and I'm super grateful for that.
BLITZER: Yes, more than two and a half million Ukrainians have now fled to the neighboring countries, about more than half of them to Poland and the people in all those countries have been so wonderful and welcoming and receiving all these Ukrainian refugees.
But there are a lot of Ukrainian refugees, maybe a million, two million and maybe you have a number who are still stuck in Ukraine. They are fleeing their towns that are being obliterated, and they are trying to find safety inside Ukraine, right?
RUDIK: Yes, it's also around three million of people who fled from the east to the west and who are trying to find the place right within Ukraine.
BLITZER: What's the most important thing that the U.S. and the other NATO allies could do now to help the people of Ukraine?
RUDIK: I think you know the answer, Wolf. I think you know it, it's a no-fly zone, whatever you call it. This is the way for us to win this war. This is a chance for us to win it.
You see how we are standing, you see how we are fighting, with no mercy and with great hope for the victory, but we will not be able to do it while they are bombarding our cities. Do you see what is behind me? This is the tape over the windows. So I
did it everywhere in my house. So if that missile hits nearby, so then with the shockwave, when the glass will be going down, I will not be killed by the fragments.
This is happening for all the people who are living in Kyiv. This is how they're trying to protect themselves and their families.
We will not win if we don't get some support from the air. We may not call it no-fly zone, but we do need the support. We do need jets. We do need the way so we can fight Russians in the air so they will stop bombarding our cities.
You have seen what happened to Mariupol. You have seen people being starved there to death. You have seen people melting snow there because they cannot get out. The city has been bombarded and seized.
This is not what we want for Kyiv. This is not what we want for anybody anywhere in the world. And we need to fight and we are fighting, and the thing that we need to win this fight is the support from the air. This is what we are begging, it is what we are pleading NATO allies to provide for us.
Anyway, different way, call it differently. But this is what we a hundred percent need.
BLITZER: Kira Rudik is a member of Ukrainian Parliament. Kira, be safe over there. We will stay in touch. I appreciate very much your joining us as we do every few days. Thank you so, so much.
There is more breaking news we're following here in this Special Edition of THE SITUATION ROOM.
In Ukraine, the choice to stay or go can be excruciating. So far, the U.S. estimates once again more than 2.5 million Ukrainians have left since the war began -- this is now Week Three -- mainly women and children and the elderly.
Every day on Ukraine's borders, there is a steady stream of refugees. Many are arriving in these countries with next to nothing, maybe a little suitcase if that.
CNN's Miguel Marquez is joining us from Bucharest, Romania right now. Miguel, all week you have toured different refugee centers along the border. What are you seeing? What's the greatest need?
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, getting from point A to point B, this is the biggest problem right now and this is something that not only Romania is doing, but the E.U. as well, the European Union trying to get people whether it's in Romania, Poland, Hungary, wherever they're coming across that border, trying to get them from where they're crossing to someone that they know friends, relatives, other people in Europe.
If they don't have that level of support, then they are looking to house them either somewhere in Bucharest where they're setting up refugee centers all over, or the people that we've met that are opening up their homes, people are opening up hotels, people across the country, across Europe are making room for so many refugees, and there will be many, many more.
What you realize, though, is how complicated it is. It's really simple to think of getting a person from point A to point B, but when you're talking about thousands of people who don't have documents, who don't have visas, who don't have passports, who don't have money, who don't have train tickets, all this sort of stuff that goes with it.
Sometimes they have pets with them that are also very -- that's complicating as well. We visited one home, there were 31 people staying there. One woman had cancer, she was supposed to get a surgery in Ukraine. Now, she is getting it in Romania.
There was a student from -- a Nigerian student whose family was in Qatar. He had to get home. There are other people trying to get to Portugal for family.
Every single one of those 2.5 million people is just its own story. It's incredibly complicated.
And as the Russians move farther west, and as they continue to attack those civilian areas, it's just going to get worse -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes, that's certainly right. Miguel Marquez, we are grateful to you for your reporting. Thank you very, very much.
Still to come, the U.S. committing more money to support Ukraine's military, just how much the White House is sending to the frontline, standby.
Plus, NATO allies will once again meet in Brussels in the coming days. The big question hanging over that meeting: Will the NATO Alliance consider -- simply consider a no-fly zone as Ukrainians, like Kira Rudik, the MP we just spoke to say they desperately are pleading for that they desperately need. That's next.
Stay with us, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: As the Russian invasion of Ukraine rages on, and on with no diplomatic solution, at least now in sight, the Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin will travel to Brussels this coming week to meet with NATO leaders.
Let's discuss this and more with the former U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen. He is joining us now live.
Mr. Secretary, thanks for joining us. Let me just get your quick thought. What do you see coming out of these NATO meetings?
WILLIAM COHEN, FORMER U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY: I think more of the same that the Secretary of Defense is going to make sure we hold the alliance together. We don't take one step without the other knowing where we're going, and I think it's been very effective to date.
And the fact is that President Biden deserves a lot of credit for his ability to rally all of our NATO members and take a solid front against Putin.
BLITZER: The NATO alliance is very, very unified right now. As you know, all this week including today, the Ukrainian President Zelenskyy has repeatedly called for a no-fly zone over his country.
NATO and Pentagon officials have strongly rejected the idea saying it could escalate into World War Three. Do you think that a no-fly zone is a wise move?
COHEN: I think the President is correct in withholding that for the time being, not forever, perhaps, but I think he is correct to say, I don't want to be responsible for starting World War Three.
I think one consideration might be is to get those MiG 29s out of Poland into the Ukrainians' hands. That may help satisfy their request to get some more or greater control over the air.
But absent that, I think the President is really wise to make sure that we don't get involved in a shooting war with Russia.
BLITZER: In a letter to the President, as you know, a whole bunch of Republican senators, they are demanding that the U.S. help transfer Soviet era MiG jets to Ukraine, so it could defend itself from Russian forces.
Do you think this could be the start of a bigger push to confront Russia?
COHEN: I think it could be. Today, I haven't supported that, but the more slaughter that I see the incredible humanitarian losses and critical infrastructure being destroyed.
They greater -- my heart says, let's do more for the Ukrainians and I think providing them with aircraft that they can fly on their own create their own no-fly zone will be best.
BLITZER: I remember in December 1994, I was CNN's White House correspondent during the Bill Clinton administration. The U.S., the U.K., Russia signed what was called the Budapest Memorandum that Ukraine was given security assurances in exchange for giving up its nuclear weapons arsenal.
As you know, there were a lot of nuclear weapons in Ukraine from the battle days of the Soviet Union. In hindsight, knowing what we know right now, Mr. Secretary, do you believe it was a mistake for Ukraine in 1994, 1995, 1996, then you became Defense Secretary in 1997, do you think it was a mistake for Ukraine to give up its nuclear weapons arsenal? COHEN: Looking back at 1997, as such, we were concerned about the
spread of nuclear weapons. What if Ukraine were still under Putin some to date, would the world be safer under those circumstances? So I think the goal of reducing nuclear weapons globally is still a valid one, and I'm glad that they gave them up, even though they are at risk now from Putin. I think it was the right decision then and even now.
BLITZER: So even knowing what we're knowing what the Russians are doing to Ukraine right now, it was the right thing to do for Ukraine and Kazakhstan, Belarus, by the way, other former Soviet republics to give up their nuclear weapons?
COHEN: I think the fewer nuclear weapons we have in the world, the safer the world is going to be. Certainly, that puts them at greater risk as far as Putin is concerned. But right now, we're seeing the bore being carried out on a conventional basis and the Ukrainians are more than holding their own at this point.
BLITZER: And very quickly, because of that Budapest Memorandum, does the U.S. have a special obligation now to help protect Ukraine's territorial integrity?
COHEN: Well, I think we're doing that at this point. We are doing the best to help the Ukrainians defend themselves, with extraordinary help coming from the United States and from the NATO countries. I think we're doing our best to fulfill our obligation. They are not a NATO member, if they were, Russia would be in a very different position right now.
BLITZER: Secretary William Cohen, thanks so much for joining us.
COHEN: Good to be with you.
BLITZER: A witness to history from the thawing of the Cold War to the possibility of a new Iron Curtain, our own Nic Robertson, he has been there all these years in Russia to watch what's going on. He's about to join us. He has got some strong, strong views on what the future may hold for Russia under Putin's Orwellian rule.
BLITZER: New today, the Biden administration has now authorized hundreds of millions of dollars in additional security assistance for Ukraine. The money will go toward a variety of items including anti- armor, anti-aircraft systems, and small arms.
CNN's Arlette Saenz is joining us now live from the White House.
Arlette, so how much money did the Biden demonstration authorize for Ukraine? And what exactly will it be used for?
ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, this new directive from President Biden will authorize $200 million worth of security assistance to go to Ukraine. The White House saying that that includes military education and training, as well as some more tangible items like the anti-armor and anti-tank missiles, as well as small arms to help the Ukrainian people defend themselves.
This brings the total amount of security assistance to $1.2 billion that has been offered to Ukraine over the course of the past year.
President Biden has been adamant that the U.S. will continue to provide Ukraine with the mechanisms needed to defend themselves against this aggression from Russia and it also comes as a time that President Biden is really ramping up the economic pressure on Putin as he and allies of the United States are looking to make Putin pay a price for his attack on Ukraine.
Just yesterday, President Biden announcing that the U.S. along with the G7 and E.U. countries would be calling for revoking Russia's most favored nation status that would allow countries to impose tariffs on a host of Russian goods and additionally, the U.S. announced a few other measures that they are taking including banning the imports of Russian items like vodka, caviar, and diamonds, as well as banning some exports to Russia on high end luxury goods like cars, jewelry, clothing.
The idea there is to target these creature comforts of Russian oligarchs and wealthy individuals hoping that that might put a further squeeze on Putin as he continues this war in Ukraine now into its third week. Wolf.
BLITZER: All right. Arlette, thank you very much. Arlette Saenz reporting from the White House.
Meantime, while Ukraine fights for its very survival right now, the former President of Ukraine has a specific warning not for his own country, but for Russia.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PETRO POROSHENKO, FORMER PRESIDENT OF UKRAINE: One hundred and forty- one nation support Ukraine and Ukraine now providing the beginning of the end of the Russian Empire.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: CNN International Diplomatic Editor, Nic Robertson is joining us right now. Nic, thanks very much for coming in. I know you're in Washington. You were in Moscow just a week or so ago, but now you're here. I want to read to our viewers a couple of lines from this really powerful article you just posted on cnn.com, I highly recommend it.
It was it was really moving. But let me give a couple lines from what you write, "After over three decades of covering Russia, I leave in despair, one man has extinguished the bright hope many once felt." And then you add, "Russian President Vladimir Putin isn't just destroying Ukraine, but two nations condemning Russians to an isolation that they didn't necessarily choose." Explain your thoughts because they are so, so powerful.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Russia is under sanctions. These sanctions aimed to bring Putin down or at least halt his invasion and war in Ukraine. They're going to affect the Russian population, the Russian population, many of them don't support Putin, don't support the war, but they're going to suffer the economic consequences.
He's told his oligarchs who we know are getting sanctioned, they're having their yachts seized in Europe, he's told them to suck it up, be patriotic. But it's those other Russians who wanted a different future, a future integrated into Europe, that he's steadily stifled over the years. That's one part that made me angry about the situation and the absolute wanton way that he has gone to war on a false pretext and continues to push that pretext and absolutely stomps on any voice of dissent. We knew they're watching it happen, that's what gets you.
BLITZER: Because you were there back in 1990 as the cold war was ending the collapse of the Soviet Union. I was there December '91 when the Soviet Union ended. All of us were pretty upbeat that things were moving in a brand new direction.
ROBERTSON: We had that sense and it rightfully so. I remember we set up CNN, we set up a big live operation in the middle of Red Square, that fabled military playground right outside the Kremlin. The Russians gave us or all the Soviet Union gave us the opportunity to do that. We broadcast live for several days.
At that time you had the sense that this was a country that wanted to integrate the West. Fast forward a decade, Putin comes to power, all those changes, all that alignment towards a European style democracy and integrating with the rest of the world, he said that was wrong and he's reversed it, try to reverse that position ever since with these different invasions and now in Ukraine.
And that, I think, tells you because of his complete power that it tells you that Russia is, at the moment. Putin and it's Putin that is trying to drag his country back to some imagined former glory and that at the moment is to the detriment of the vast majority of Russians.
BLITZER: Yes. And certainly to the detriment of millions of people in Ukraine right now. I originally thought, well, Putin, maybe he'll do something along the border, like he do with the Crimea. But I was surprised when he decided to go and attack all of Ukraine and trying to seek control of that country. That came as a surprise to me.
ROBERTSON: And it did to me as well. We heard him threaten military technical measures, if we don't get what we want with NATO. NATO needs to roll back and needs to go back to 1997. It needs to stop Ukraine becoming a member. I think people thought this was just Putin wanting a voice at the table. Once he got his voice at the table, he wouldn't follow through. But his become more and more determined.
And we're now in a position of looking at the scenario going forward. Putin is taking tracts of land territory cities. We've seen a mayor of a town marched off today. A proxy installed in the mayor's place. The future therefore, in Putin's mind in Ukraine is going to be more of that. What happens?
Where is the war going to stop? And how do you get Putin then to let go these places and get them back to the Ukrainians because it's going to be a very, very long war for them, painful, huge losses, how do we turn, how do we get Putin to push back and I don't I don't see that right now. I don't see where that mechanism is.
BLITZER: You were doing great reporting from Moscow over these past few months, Jill Dougherty was doing great reporting from Moscow, everybody basically fled, left Moscow out of fear that if they reported the truth about the Russian invasion of Ukraine, they could wind up in jail for 15 years. What's it like for the media in Moscow right now?
ROBERTSON: There was a moment during the opening days of the wall, when you knew you had space to go out where the protests were happening and to stand shoulder to shoulder with the protesters, elbow to elbow with the riot cops, and know that they weren't going around you up, that you're very unlikely to be thrown in the truck with the rest of the protesters. That's gone.
So when you're in that truck, Putin essentially has created a state where he can decide on what the rules and laws are going to be and he has a massive apparatus to follow through those rules. It's very much looking like the sort of Germany under the Nazis before World War II. Remember what we heard from the Nazis, "I was just following the rules. I was just following the rules."
Putin is creating the rules and there's a system and a law enforcement body and people that will follow those rules. And that's what's happening. So you end up being arrested today. You really don't know when you're going to come out the end of that, that legal chain.
BLITZER: You've been doing amazing reporting for us, not just now, but all of these years ago, 30 years together. We did the first Gulf War as well here on CNN and we're grateful to you, Nic, for doing everything you're doing. Thanks very much. And let me recommend to our viewers, if they haven't read it, go to cnn.com and read Nic Robertson's excellent, very powerful moving article about Russia at cnn.com.
As countries in the West look for ways to finish - to punish, I shouldn't say, Putin and Russia, there are moves that are leading to economic consequences for their own countries as well; rising prices and everything from oil and gas to nickel for that matter. How much worse could it possibly be getting here in the US and indeed around the world? We'll discuss that's next.
BLITZER: Much more in a moment on the breaking news in Ukraine, but we also have some breaking news here in the United States. The NYPD now confirms that two people have been stabbed at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Our correspondent Polo Sandoval is joining us. The NYPD, I understand, just gave it update. What are you learning?
POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They released a lot of information, Wolf, since you and I spoke about an hour ago. Among those details that the search is on for the suspect involved, according to the NYPD this individual's 60-year-old man that was known to be irregular at New York's Museum of Modern Art until yesterday, when according to detectives, there were two separate incidents that involve disorderly conduct in the past that led to his membership is MoMA membership being revoked.
Well, according to investigators, he returned again today to try to gain access to the facility, when he was denied, that's when investigators say he jumped over the reception desk at the museum there in midtown Manhattan, and then proceeded to attack the two museum employees behind the counter.
Investigators saying that they were both stabbed multiple times, however, some good news to share with you that they are okay, that they are stable and are going to survive this attack. But now the big focus here is on the search for this individual. Police say they know exactly who he is. And they're working to track him down. They don't believe that he's in the area right now.
But as you can see the scene that took place at about 4 pm earlier today, there was a massive evacuation that happened when investigators didn't know much about what exactly was going down. Obviously, on a Saturday afternoon, you could imagine the MoMA was very busy, was very packed. But now the situation under control, as to individuals that were attacked are expected to survive and the search is on for the individual belief to be responsible. Wolf?
BLITZER: We hope they find them and find them quickly. All right. Polo, Paula, thank you very, very much. Getting back to the war in Ukraine and the implications, the ramifications for what's going on, the US and its allies, they are preparing to suspend normal trade relations with Russia right now, stripping the country of what's called its most favored nation trading status.
It would be but the latest in a string of sanctions imposed on Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine. Rana Foroohar is joining us right now. She's a CNN Global Economic Analyst and Global Business Columnist, associate editor of the Financial Times. Rana, thanks for joining us.
The sanctions so far imposed by the U.S. and its allies seem to have had a crippling effect on Russia's economy. What would removing Russia's most favored nation trade status actually mean Congress has to approve it.
RANA FOROOHAR, CNN GLOBAL ECONOMICS ANALYST: So Wolf, what this means is that the U.S. would be able to slap tariffs on anything coming in from Russia. Now, the truth of the matter is there's not a whole lot coming in at this point. We've seen most big multinational brands pulling out. We've seen a ban on Russian energy. But essentially, this would allow the U.S. to go back to 1930 style tariffs on Russia. And in some ways, even though it's not going to do a whole lot more
harm than it has already been done by the U.S. and allies with sanctions. It's very symbolic, it really takes us back to those days pre-Cold War days where Russia was not in this sort of alliance, not in the global capitalist system. It's really going back in time to a different kind of relationship between these two countries.
BLITZER: As you know the Biden ministration also cut trade in both directions banning the import of Russian seafood, for example, alcohol, diamonds, stopping the export of American luxury goods to Russia. This is on top of a proposed ban of imports on Russian oil, gas, coal. Will this latest round of cuts have a real impact though or is it simply symbolic?
FOROOHAR: Energy is the big thing here. It's a Petro dictatorship. And so banning Russian energy, yeah, absolutely, that has a big impact. The rest of it is at the margins. But Wolf, it is symbolic. I mean, it really is. One of the things that really struck me was when McDonald's pulled out because we've often thought, well, there can't be a war between two countries that have a McDonald's.
Well, not so much anymore. What we're really seeing here is the unraveling of modern globalization in some ways. This is a decoupling world, a deglobalizing world and these things are very symbolic.
BLITZER: As you know, Russia says it could seize the assets of Western companies that have suspended operations in the country. Will that work as a deterrent or is that threat a sign that the Kremlin is starting to see the impact?
FOROOHAR: Well, again, it will have some impact at the margins, but the truth of the matter is that even over the last few weeks, we've just seen so much of a pullout that most Western companies and most financial institutions have gotten most of their money out of Russia by now, not so much for the Europeans. But for American companies, I think the effect would be at the margins.
But again, these are these are just - one by one, you're seeing all the ties between the two countries breaking down and it's going to take time, if ever for those to be knit back together. Again, I think that this may be the kind of episode that is really singular in our lifetime.
BLITZER: I think you're absolutely right. Rana Foroohar, as usual, thank you so much for that extra excellent analysis. Appreciate it very much.
Coming up, she survived the bombing of Mariupol maternity hospital all while in labor. Up next, we're going to have an update on the woman in this iconic photo.
[18:52:02] BLITZER: Sadly, we have seen so many heartbreaking images of pain and
suffering in Ukraine over these past three weeks. But there are some that truly stand out as well, even in a war that has seen so much heartbreak including this one; a pregnant woman in labor being evacuated from that maternity hospital in Mariupol.
Bombed by the Russians, a place that few would ever imagine would be targeted. But that is the ugliness of this war. CNN's Hala Gorani has an update on her. A story that gives us all at least a little hope.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
HALA GORANI, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT (voice over): This is Mariana Vishegirskaya, heavily-pregnant and escaping from the wreckage of recently bombed Mariupol maternity hospital. And this is Mariana Vishegirskaya, a day later in a new hospital and the proud mother of a daughter Veronika.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Foreign language).
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GORANI (voice over): The attack on the Mariupol maternity hospital drew widespread condemnation. The images of pregnant women being rescued from the attack made front pages around the world. The searing image was taken following a Russian airstrike on the hospital Wednesday that injured 17 people, including children, women and doctors, according to Mariupol city officials.
"Three people died," the city council said Thursday, "among them a child."
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SERGEY LAVROV, RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: (Foreign language).
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GORANI (voice over): The Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov claimed without proof that the hospital was housing a Ukrainian battalion. And this wouldn't be the first medical facility to be hit. The World Health Organization has identified 24 separate Russian attacks on Ukrainian hospitals.
Despite the toughest possible start in life, Veronika was born in another Ukrainian hospital when Mariana was evacuated. The family is not disclosing their location for safety reasons. Her aunt, Tatiana Liubchenko told CNN, Veronika was born healthy and around three kilograms. There was no electricity in the hospital and the temperature was minus five degrees outside.
She says she hopes, "Sufficient conditions will be provided for the baby to stay healthy." A child born into a world of danger, but her very existence in this time of war, an act of defiance. Hala Gorani CNN, Lviv, Ukraine.
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BLITZER: Just one story, so many stories unfolding right now from this horrible, horrible war that's going on. And all of us, all of us are so moved by what we're seeing. And I can assure you that all of us here at CNN are determined to bring you these stories. They are so, so important so we have a good understanding of what exactly is going on, the troubling reports as well as the uplifting stories such as we just saw right now.
We hope it brings all of you at least a little hope, as we all pray that this war ends soon. And for information about how you, our viewers, can help the people of Ukraine, go to cnn.com/impact. There you'll find a full list of thoroughly vetted organizations helping with humanitarian efforts; cnn.com/impact. You can impact your world.
I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington. Thanks very much for watching. I'll be back Monday in THE SITUATION ROOM 6 pm Eastern. Much more of our special coverage of the war in Ukraine continues with Pamela Brown in the CNN NEWSROOM. That's right after a short break.