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State of the Union

Interview With Rep. Colin Allred (D-TX); Interview With Fmr. Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA); Interview With Kyiv, Ukraine, Mayor Vitali Klitschko; Interview With U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan; Interview With Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH). Aired 9-10a ET

Aired March 13, 2022 - 09:00   ET




DANA BASH, CNN HOST (voice-over): New targets. Putin's forces strike Western Ukraine, where refugees are fleeing, as Russian atrocities grow.

VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): A proof of genocide of Ukrainians is taking place.

BASH: What is the U.S. prepared to do to stop the killing? I will speak to National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan next.

And closing in. Russian troops surround Kyiv, raising fears they will bomb the city into submission. Can Ukraine's capital withstand an attack?


BASH: I will speak to the mayor of Kyiv, Vitali Klitschko, next.

Plus: punishing Putin. More than two million desperate Ukrainians flee Putin's war.

SEN. ROB PORTMAN (R-OH): This is about a crisis. People are dying.

BASH: Is the U.S. doing enough to help Ukraine? And can Americans bear the cost of doing more? GOP Senator Rob Portman joins me exclusively from the Polish-Ukrainian border, just 19 miles from the latest bombing.


BASH: Hello. I'm Dana Bash in Washington, where the state of our union is reeling from what we're seeing in Ukraine, and there is a lot of breaking news this morning.

Russia is pounding Western Ukraine, firing more than 30 missiles at the International Peacekeeping and Security Center, a military base that includes a training center. At least 35 people are dead, and 134 are injured, according to the head of the Lviv regional military administration.

Take a look at this location. The base is located only about 11 miles from Poland, a NATO nation, not far from Lviv, near Ukraine's western border. And, until February, American forces were stationed at the base the Russians bombed last night.

The attack is the latest escalation, as Russian forces continue to bombard Ukrainian cities and are now 15 miles outside the capital, Kyiv.

France's president is warning, after a phone call with Vladimir Putin, that the Russian leader seems determined to continue the war. On Saturday, the U.S. announced an additional $200 million in arms for Ukraine, as the nation's president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, continues to plead for help.

CNN chief international correspondent Clarissa Ward is in Kyiv.

Clarissa, Russia is really escalating its attacks where you are, also in Western Ukraine. What's the latest?

CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So, Dana, I think a lot of people had initially thought that Western Ukraine would be spared the worst of the bombardment because of its proximity to Poland and other European countries.

But what we're seeing is clearly telling a very different story. CNN spoke with an eyewitness in that base, Yavoriv, in -- outside of Lviv, who said that about 5:00, 5:30 this morning, there were three, at least, massive missile strikes leaving huge craters, also killing 35 people, as you mentioned, more than 130 people also injured.

This was a base that we understand to be a sort of welcoming center or reception center as well for people who were coming to join the so- called international legion, people from different countries who were wanting to volunteer to come and fight with Ukrainian forces against the Russian invasion.

We don't know the breakdown yet of who exactly was killed, but it is fair to assume that some of them may be foreign nationals, as well as Ukrainians.

And I think this is the largest strike we have seen in terms of the maximum number of casualties in one attack. But it's certainly not the only bombardment we have been seeing today, at least nine people killed in the southern city of Mykolaiv.

And we're also now learning from Kyiv authorities, the Kyiv police that an American journalist has been killed here. Another American journalist who was with him was also injured. They were in Irpin, which is that heavy-hit suburb of Kyiv to the northwest, where we and many of our colleagues have been spending a lot of time.

We don't know the details of it. Of course, as soon as we get more information, we will let you know. One more thing that's important to add, we heard again from President Volodymyr Zelenskyy today, saying that they are desperately trying to get humanitarian aid into Mariupol, that besieged southeastern port city of half-a-million people.

He said that the convoy was two hours away. And that was about an hour. We know previously, though, that Russian forces have attacked convoys. They have come under fire, the situation there absolutely desperate, Dana, so time really of the essence to try to get aid into that city and ferry out the desperate, the wounded and all the civilians who remain there, Dana.


BASH: Clarissa, thank you so much for that reporting. And, needless to say, please, please, you and your crew, stay safe. Thank you.

And here with me now is President Biden's national security adviser, Jake Sullivan.

Jake, I want to start with that strike on the military training base that Clarissa was just talking about near Lviv, the western side of Ukraine, just 11 miles from the border with Poland.

What does that tell you about Putin strategy? And how worried are you about this strike coming so close to a NATO territory?

JAKE SULLIVAN, U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Well, first, thanks for having me, Dana.

We have been warning since well before this invasion got under way in February that the plans for this invasion involved Russia attacking all over Ukraine, Southern Ukraine, Eastern Ukraine, and, yes, Western Ukraine. So, this does not come as a surprise to the American intelligence and national security community.

What it shows is that Vladimir Putin is frustrated by the fact that his forces are not making the kind of progress that he thought that they would make against major cities, including Kyiv, that he is expanding the number of targets, that he is lashing out, and that he is trying to cause damage in every part of the country.

What President Biden has made clear from the beginning is that we will not have U.S. military forces operating in Ukraine, and there are none operating there now. But we will defend every inch of NATO territory, even as we seek to provide military assistance to the Ukrainian fighters who are bravely defending their homes and bravely defending their cities.

BASH: And let's talk about any effort for diplomacy here.

Vladimir Putin talked with the German and French presidents for more than an hour yesterday. Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is reportedly telling Zelenskyy to make a deal. What are you hearing and seeing? Is there any diplomatic solution in sight?

SULLIVAN: Well, we have been in close contact with the Ukrainians. President Biden spoke with President Zelenskyy just a couple of days ago. He speaks to him on a regular basis to get updates on what is an ongoing communication between Ukrainian negotiators and Russian negotiators.

That is the negotiation that matters, because, ultimately, it is Ukraine that will have to make its own sovereign decisions about the shape of any diplomacy going forward.

From the United States' perspective, we're here to stay in touch with all the key players, as you mentioned, the French, the Germans, the Israelis, others, but ultimately to support the Ukrainians. And, as things stand right now, Vladimir Putin does not look like he is prepared to stop the onslaught.

And so we will continue to escalate the pressure against him and continue to support the Ukrainians as they fight to defend their territory.

BASH: I want to ask quickly about something you just heard Clarissa Ward report, which is that we're starting to get worried about an American journalist killed in Ukraine.

Do you have any information about that? And what is your reaction?

SULLIVAN: I have just had the opportunity to hear about it as I was coming on air.

So, I will have to consult with my colleagues and with our allies and partners and with the Ukrainians on the ground to learn more about what happened. But if, in fact, an American journalist was killed, it is a shocking and horrifying event. It is one more example of the brutality of Vladimir Putin and his forces, as they have targeted schools and mosques and hospitals and journalists.

And it is why we are working so hard to impose severe consequences on him and to try to help the Ukrainians with every form of military assistance we can muster to be able to push back against the onslaught of these Russian forces.

BASH: Well, let's talk more about the potential for that help, particularly militarily.

This week, the U.S. rejected a deal that would help get Polish fighter jets to Ukraine, but do so through a U.S. military base. The Pentagon, as you well know, was concerned that that would be perceived as an escalation by the U.S., be perceived that way in Russia.

But Zelenskyy is still pleading for help. Members of your own party are urging them to get -- urging the U.S. to help them get planes. So are you talking about another way to get Ukraine these planes, or are you ruling it out completely?

SULLIVAN: Well, the president listened to the assessment of his intelligence community. He listened to the advice of his military commanders. He consulted his NATO allies.


And he ultimately determined that the risk/benefit analysis of flying planes from NATO bases into contested airspace over Ukraine did not make sense, was not something that he would authorize.

What he did talk to President Zelenskyy about on Friday was other capabilities that could achieve a similar purpose. And so we are working on that now, other anti-air systems that could help take some -- help the Ukrainians make progress in terms of dealing with the threat that is coming from the air from the Russian side.

We are working on that intensively, in close coordination with our allies.

BASH: Anti-air systems, does that include plane -- I mean, I understand that -- what you just said about the president deciding that this particular deal to give Polish planes to Ukraine through the U.S. would -- wasn't going to work, but are there other planes that you're working on getting Zelenskyy, because that is specifically what he's asking for?

SULLIVAN: Our focus right now is on anti-air systems, as well as other forms of assistance. And I'm not sure if you're referring to some other set of planes that I'm -- I don't know about or some other means that I don't know about.

Right now, we are not looking at the provision of the fighter jets in question to Ukraine. We are looking at other methods of getting the Ukrainian defenders advanced capabilities to be able to blunt the Russian advance and protect Ukrainian towns and cities.

BASH: Yes.

Jake, are you confident that supply convoys are safe?

SULLIVAN: What I'm confident of is that the United States, our NATO allies and partners and the Ukrainians have set up a system where we believe we will continue to be able to flow substantial amounts of military assistance and weapons to the front lines to help the Ukrainians ensure that Ukraine is a strategic failure for Vladimir Putin.

Of course, these convoys are going through a war zone. And so to describe them as safe wouldn't quite be accurate. But we believe that we have methods and systems in place to be able to continue to support the Ukrainians as they fight very bravely, very effectively against the attacking Russian forces.

BASH: The U.S. said this week that Russia has the capacity for a chemical weapon attack in Ukraine.

The Polish president said today that would be a game-changer. NATO would have to think seriously about what to do. Would the U.S. intervene more directly, militarily, if Russia uses chemical weapons in Ukraine?

SULLIVAN: Well, first, Dana, it is a very legitimate concern, fear that Russia would use chemical weapons in Ukraine.

They're right now accusing the United States and the Ukrainians of potentially using chemical or biological weapons, which is a tell. It's a tell that they themselves may be preparing to do so, and then trying to pin the blame on someone else. That's a classic page out of the Russian playbook.

As the president said on Friday, if Russia were to use chemical weapons in Ukraine, they would pay a severe price. And I'm going to leave it at that today, as we work closely with our NATO allies and partners. And, together, we communicate through channels to the Russians to reinforce that message that Russia, in fact, would pay a severe price if they use chemical weapons in Ukraine.

BASH: Jake, I understand that the U.S. is treading lightly, in part, in large part, because Russia is a nuclear power.

Vladimir Putin has his nuclear weapons on heightened alert. We know that Russia has smaller so-called tactical nuclear weapons. What is America's level of concern that Putin could use some kind of nuclear weapon?

SULLIVAN: Well, we are watching this extremely closely.

And, obviously, the escalation risk with a nuclear power is severe, and it is a different kind of conflict than other conflicts the American people have seen over the years. And the American president, Joe Biden, has to take that responsibility extremely seriously, even as we redouble our efforts to support the Ukrainians.

As things stand today, the United States has not adjusted our nuclear posture. But it is something that we monitor day by day, hour by hour, because it is of paramount priority to the president.

BASH: So, that sounds like you're concerned?

SULLIVAN: Well, any time you have a nuclear power fighting in a conflict zone in Europe, near NATO territory, of course we have to focus on and be concerned about the possibility of escalation, the risk of escalation.

BASH: Yes.

SULLIVAN: But, as I said before, we have not seen anything that would require us to change our nuclear posture at this time. It's something we will continue to watch carefully.


BASH: I want to ask about China.

China coordinated the timing of an invasion with Russia. They waited until after the Olympics. They're continuing to do business with Russia. Do you consider Xi Jinping a co-conspirator with Vladimir Putin in this war against Ukraine?

SULLIVAN: Well, we believe that China, in fact, was aware before the invasion took place that Vladimir Putin was planning something. They may not have understood the full extent of it, because it's very possible that Putin lied to them, the same way that he lied to Europeans and others.

We also are watching closely to see the extent to which China actually does provide any form of support, material support or economic support, to Russia. It is a concern of ours. And we have communicated to Beijing that we will not stand by and allow any country to compensate Russia for its losses from the economic sanctions.

BASH: Would you...

SULLIVAN: And we...

BASH: Would you sanction China if they did help out Russia?

SULLIVAN: I'm not going to sit here publicly and brandish threats.

But what I will tell you is that we are communicating directly, privately to Beijing that there will absolutely be consequences for large-scale sanctions evasion efforts or support to Russia to backfill them. We will not allow that to go forward and allow there to be a lifeline to Russia from these economic sanctions from any country anywhere in the world.

BASH: National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, thank you so much for joining me.

SULLIVAN: Thanks for having me.

BASH: And my next guest is in Poland, just 19 miles from the latest Russian bombing. And he says the U.S. must do more to help Ukraine.

Republican Senator Rob Portman, who is the co-chair of the Ukraine Caucus, is next.

And, as Russian forces bombard Ukraine's capital city, the mayor of Kyiv will join me on keeping the city in Ukrainian control and efforts to get civilians out.



BASH: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION.

Millions of refugees already escaped Ukraine over its western border to Poland, and more are trying to do that.

But that area outside Lviv was the target of Russian strikes this weekend, just 11 miles from the border with Poland. And that's raising fears in Europe this morning.

With me from Poland, just 19 miles away from that bombing, is Ukraine Caucus co-chair Republican Senator Rob Portman.

Senator, thank you so much for joining me.

PORTMAN: You bet.

BASH: I want to start with that missile strike, again, just 19 miles from where you are.

What are you hearing about the attack? And how worried are you about how close it came to the border of a NATO ally?

PORTMAN: It's concerning that it was a Western Ukraine attack. They have typically been in the south and in the east and around Kyiv.

So, the people who were here on the border could hear it, even though it's 15 miles away. Also, Dana, as you know, we are meeting with refugees here as they come over; 100 a minute are coming over from Ukraine. A number of them were from Yavoriv, this city that was just bombed last night.

They decided this morning, after having been bombed through the night, that they were going to leave. So it's also leading, obviously, to more refugees coming across the border.

But it's very sad. It's very emotional, people talking about their homes being destroyed, talking about having to leave their loved ones behind, a lot of grandmothers with grandchildren. People are just distraught.

And the message they're giving us is loud and clear, as you can imagine, which is close the skies, because the skies are where the bombs are coming, whether it's the missile attacks or the airplane attacks with artillery. They want help.

And the Ukrainians who we talk to today are obviously desperate, trying to find their -- their way right now, with the hope to go home someday, but really no assurance. And they are really looking for more help.

BASH: Well, I know that you have been urging the U.S. to help Ukraine get fighter jets through and from -- from Poland, and they were going to do it through a U.S. air base.

But you just heard Jake Sullivan mention that the intelligence community assessment is that that move would risk an escalation. Are you worried that giving those plans to Ukraine could actually trigger World War III?

PORTMAN: I don't know why that would be true.

The Russians have complained about everything. Vladimir Putin has said that the sanctions are an act of war. They certainly complained when we provided Stingers directly from the U.S. government, which can knock down an airplane and have been successful in doing that at lower altitudes. We have given them helicopters. As recently as January, we provided

them U.S. military helicopters. And those are directly from the United States. In this case, this would be Poland providing these airplanes, which are Soviet-style planes, old planes, MiG-29s.

There are also two other countries, Slovakia and Bulgaria, that have these airplanes. What we have heard directly from the Ukrainians is they want them badly. They want the ability to have better control over the -- over the skies in order to give them a fighting chance.


So I don't understand why we're not doing it. We initially gave it a green light. As you know, last weekend, the secretary of state said it was going to get a green light. And for some reason, now we're blocking it.

BASH: Well...

PORTMAN: So I don't understand why this is any worse than -- from a Russian point of view, than other things.

BASH: Well, isn't the issue that...

PORTMAN: ... that we've already done or that we're talking about.

BASH: Isn't the issue that they would go through an American air base, Ramstein, and that that is what is seen as an escalation?

I mean, I have certainly heard that from military sources. I'm sure you have.

PORTMAN: Well, again, we have sent lots of weaponry through military bases. In fact, we were just with the 82nd Airborne last night, who are here in Poland, thank God, and they're doing a terrific job. But this is what we have been doing all along. So I don't see that change.

I do think that what Jake Sullivan said today is encouraging, in the sense that he talked about at least providing Poland with -- providing Ukraine with the anti-aircraft systems they need to be able to better protect themselves. We have already provided those for Poland, the Patriot system.

But the systems he's talking about are probably also these Soviet era systems, like the S-300, which is not the top of the line, but is very effective still. And, again, Poland and other former Warsaw bloc countries have these. So, at a minimum, let's get those into Ukraine. And let's stop talking about it. Let's do it.

But the airplanes are also essential. And, to me, Vladimir Putin and the Russians...

BASH: Yes.

PORTMAN: ... seem to be saying everything is escalatory. And yet they're escalating every single day by coming into Ukraine with these weapons.

There's discussion, as you know, of them using vacuum bombs and cluster bombs, cluster bombs against civilian targets. This is an illegal, this is a brutal, totally unprovoked attack. And, increasingly, they're choosing civilian targets.

So, as they escalate, what the Ukrainian people are asking for is just the ability to defend themselves. Give them the ability to try to stop some of this Russian superiority in terms of airpower to be able to save lives, and hopefully end up with a peaceful solution to this. If we don't figure out a way to help Ukraine push back, that's much less likely.

BASH: And, Senator, I want to ask about the impact here at home, specifically economically on gas prices. They have climbed to an average of $4.32 per gallon.

You're calling on the U.S. to ramp up oil production after the U.S. banned importing oil from Russia this week. But I want you to listen to what President Biden said about that this week.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's simply not true that my administration or policies are holding back domestic energy production. That's simply not true.

They have 9,000 permits to drill now. They could be drilling right now, yesterday, last week, last year.


BASH: Is the president right?


I mean, with all due respect, let's be specific. When the president was elected, he said we're going to cut off Keystone, which is North American energy, which is what we're talking about. Now, that was over 800,000 barrels per day, more than the Russian oil, which was 600,000 barrels a day.

Second, the president issued an executive order stopping exploration on public lands and on water, public waters. And then finally, as you know, he's rewriting this legislation that is now in regulation that has to do with permitting called Waters of the United States.

And all of this is leading to less North American energy production.

BASH: Senator...

PORTMAN: So, there are some specific policy decisions that have been made.

BASH: Senator, on a couple things. On Keystone, I have not seen any report that it would have even been done in time to affect the crisis that's happening now. It wouldn't even have been done until at least next year. And on the public lands that you're talking about, that might be true that he stopped production public lands, but the administration have -- they have given more permits for drilling on private lands.

In fact, I have a quote from Senator -- excuse me -- Secretary Granholm telling oil companies back in December: "Take advantage of the leases that you have. Hire workers. Get your rig up."

So isn't it true that this is really just because of the pandemic and all the economic woes and the implications from the pandemic that we're seeing now, and then, of course, exacerbated by Russia?

PORTMAN: Dana, can I make a comment?

BASH: Yes.

PORTMAN: Can I make a comment?

BASH: Yes.

PORTMAN: Can I make a comment?

BASH: Please.

PORTMAN: OK, well, first of all, well, oil prices -- oil prices started to go up along before there was any invasion of Ukraine, as you know.

So oil prices went up for a lot of reasons, but one is the fact this administration made it a priority of theirs to stifle domestic production of fossil fuels. There's no secret to that. Now, the campaign talked about it, and the president didn't when he got elected.

He had the right to do it. I disagree with him. So that's a fact. And that has -- and that affected the price of oil, again, long before the Ukrainian issue became a factor.

Second, you talk about these leases. If oil companies could know that they could make billions of dollars in investments, which is what some of these are, like the Keystone XL pipeline, and have that end up with oil and gas being able to be available in the market, they would certainly do that.


And the Keystone XL pipeline, yes, it was -- it was going to come on shortly, but, more importantly, people who had invested billions of dollars, including the Canadians, who were very upset about this, found out what can happen in can administration that wants to stifle production.

So there's a lot of lack of certainty and a real concern about making those investments now. And my own state of Ohio, as you know, is now a natural gas producer. Also, we have some oil and some white gas. So we hear this from these companies.

And all I'm saying is, what we should be doing is continuing to produce as much oil and gas as we can right now, because it's a national security, as well as an economic security issue, at the same time continue our work on renewables, continue to try to make that transition.

But we're not ready for that transition. And so, in the meantime, we have got to be able to be energy independent again.

BASH: Senator...

PORTMAN: And this is, again, as we see, a national security issue, as we're, unfortunately, seeing very clearly now in this crisis.

BASH: Senator, thank you so much for joining me from Poland right near the border with Ukraine.

I really appreciate it.

PORTMAN: Thanks, Dana.

BASH: And stay safe.

PORTMAN: Hey, Dana, can I say one more thing about the Polish people?

BASH: Please. Sure.

PORTMAN: In this crisis, we have seen the absolute worst of humanity. And that is these indiscriminate bombings of civilians.

But we have also seen today the best of humanity. The Polish people have opened their hearts and opened their homes to these folks from Ukraine. Already, about 1.2 million people have come from Ukraine to Poland alone. And it's unbelievable.

We saw cars lining up of volunteers ready to pick up Ukrainian refugees and take them to their home. There are 10,000 people online who have who have offered a home to these refugees. They're very appreciative of it.

And, today, I was at a number of volunteer activities, including Jose Andres' group, which is World Central Kitchen. You're probably aware of them. We served food to the refugees there. They're doing an awesome job.

BASH: Thank you.

PORTMAN: The World Health Organization was there with volunteers.

So, we are seeing some really generous outpouring of support for these Ukrainian refugees.

BASH: Well, thank you. Thank you for adding that. PORTMAN: And I certainly appreciate that.

BASH: Thank you for adding that. I really appreciate that. That's an important thing to note.

PORTMAN: Thanks, Dana.

BASH: Thank you, Senator.

And Russian forces are now only 15 miles out of Kyiv, as the capital city is rushing to evacuate thousands of civilians.

The mayor of Kyiv joins me next.



BASH: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION.

Russia appears to be escalating its attacks against Ukraine's capital city of Kyiv, using missile and airstrikes to damage areas to the north and south of the city.

The Ukrainian Defense Ministry says seven civilians, including women and a child, were killed this weekend while trying to flee in the Kyiv region.

I want to go straight to the mayor of Kyiv, Vitali Klitschko, and his brother, Wladimir, who has been fighting in the Ukrainian army.

I want to talk to you both about the latest.

And, Mr. Mayor, I will start with you.

Russian forces are roughly 15 miles from Kyiv's city center. I know you just got off the phone with your president, Zelenskyy. What did you tell him about the threat facing your capital city? Is an attack imminent?

V. KLITSCHKO: We actually is under pressure this whole time, 24 hours.

It's nonstop we are on the alarm of bombing attacks. And right now, we fight north of Kyiv. You tell -- it's right around 15 miles from Central Kyiv.

But Russians, it's not secret that the goal, the target is Kyiv. And the Russians have this target already two weeks' long. And Ukrainian soldiers destroyed -- destroyed the plans of Russians. And they doesn't -- they attempt to make a circle around Kyiv.

That's why we're ready to fight. We defend our city, and, right now, huge, huge patriotic waves, because people who never, ever expect to take weapons in hand right now to defend houses, children and our future, future of our country. BASH: And Wladimir Klitschko, as somebody who has been out there

fighting, how long do you think that you and your fellow Ukrainians can hold out if Russia successfully gets further into Kyiv, cuts off your access, for example, to essential supplies?

WLADIMIR KLITSCHKO, KYIV BRIGADE OF UKRAINIAN DEFENSE FORCE: The whole country is highly motivated to stop Russian aggression and the war.

There is nothing that is -- possibly can break the will of our women and men. We all stand together. And we're highly motivated to defend our country, because this is our home. That's where our children were going to school. That's where our relatives buried in the ground.

This is our home. And there's no other way that we're going to leave. And why? Because this is our home. So, we will defend the country until the last drop of the blood.

V. KLITSCHKO: And regarding how much time we have, we have a lot of time.


We never lose the fight for our homes, for our future, because whole population against Russian aggressors, and whole population, everyone, and we never give up. And that why we continue this war.

But the key which can stop this war is the unity of all. We have to make pressure, political pressure, sanction pressure, and, please, weapons delivering to Ukraine. We're ready to fight, not just for our city, not just for our country. We're fighting for exactly the same values, for same principles.

It's -- this war can touch anyone, everyone, everyone in the European Union, in Europe, and can touch everyone in the world.

BASH: Let me...

V. KLITSCHKO: We -- go ahead.

BASH: I'm sorry. I'm sorry. There's obviously a delay.

I just want to ask you about a warning that we heard from the U.S. president, Biden, and President Zelenskyy about Russia preparing to use chemical or biological weapons. How worried are you about that?

V. KLITSCHKO: Yes, of course, we're worried.

Yes, of course, they can use. Right now, from beginning, Putin told it's just war against military forces. Right now, we see that thousands of civilians and also children die. Just a couple minutes ago, we received information a journalist from -- we don't know exactly where from -- has also died.

This war against all Ukrainian population is this challenge for whole civilian -- for whole world. And that why we don't know how long this war will be, but the question, we don't want to give up. It's principal question for us.

BASH: And I know that you saw that the mayor of Melitopol in Eastern Ukraine was detained at gunpoint by Russian-backed separatists. There are reports now that the mayor of another city has been taken as well.

Are you worried, Mr. Mayor, that you are a target?

V. KLITSCHKO: Yes, of course.

Right now, it's every Ukrainian is target, every Ukrainian. And Russians told it's not the war against civilian. Every mayor -- it's a representative community, represent -- represent -- present -- is in community in civilian.

And just couple of days ago, the mayor of Gostomel, which bring the medication and medical help to citizens of Gostomel, was killed. Last day, the mayor of Melitopol was kidnapped. And we don't know where is mayor.

And it's a war against whole population, against every Ukrainian. It's -- I don't worry about me by myself. I'm ready to fight and ready to defend the interest of citizens which give me the rights to do that. But every Ukrainian right now, every Ukrainian right now is actually a target.

BASH: Well, thank you both for joining me, Mr. Mayor and -- Vitali Klitschko, and, of course, your brother Wladimir, who has been fighting on the streets in Kyiv, in Ukraine, more broadly.

I really appreciate your time. And stay safe. And thank you so much.

V. KLITSCHKO: Thank you for support. It's...

W. KLITSCHKO: And please continue supporting us. It's very important for the peace in Europe and in Ukraine.

BASH: Vladimir Putin's war could be a massive blunder that could damage Russia's economy for a generation. Does that make Putin even more dangerous?

Our panel is next.




BIDEN: We already know Putin's war against Ukraine will never be a victory. He hoped to dominate Ukraine without a fight. He failed. He hoped to fracture European resolve. He failed. He hoped to weaken the transatlantic alliance. He failed.

We will not let autocrats and would-be emperors dictate the direction of the world.


BASH: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION.

We're here with our panel. We have so much to discuss.

And, Susan Glasser, I want to start with you, because you were the Moscow bureau chief for "The Washington Post." You have a lot of experience there.

Watching what Vladimir Putin is doing right now, moving his targets to the western part, which basically means closer to the NATO alliance, what does that tell you?

SUSAN GLASSER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Dana, the thing that's really concerning is that Vladimir Putin has one mode when backed into a corner. And that is escalation.

And remember that this is a leader who has repeatedly used military force throughout the course of his career and believes that he has succeeded by doing so. He came to power by launching a war in Chechnya. He's invaded Georgia before. He's invaded Ukraine before. He believes that he can still succeed.

And so you have this almost overwhelming narrative right now here in the West saying, well, this is a blunder, this is a mistake. Putin certainly has not achieved his objective so far, but the great concern is, well, what's going to come next?


I think we all, unfortunately, accurately foresaw this attack on the cities and civilians of Ukraine as one escalation. Well, there are other kinds of escalation we may now see from Putin if his military objectives continue to be frustrated. That's what concerns me.


Well, I think we're entering a new and more dangerous phase of this, because he's not been successful with kind of the lightning attack and overthrowing the government and installing a puppet government. And so now he is going to get increasingly desperate.

We have seen the attacks on the cities. I think we can expect, when they do get to Kyiv, they will try and treat it like they have Mariupol and the other cities. But, also, he keeps -- he's kept the nuclear option on the table. I think, as he becomes increasingly desperate, we really have to be concerned about where he's going to go.

Now, that doesn't mean we back down. We still have to stand up to him, but recognize we're entering a dangerous phase.

BASH: And, Congresswoman, you were the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee.

Do you have any sense that, we, the U.S., or the West, knows the answer to the congressman's question about what Putin is really going to do?

FMR. REP. JANE HARMAN (D-CA): I actually think we have been very good on intel. And we have figured out Putin's playbook.

But it is escalatory. As David Sanger said earlier this morning, there are four more places for him to go, nuclear, chemical, biological, and cyber. And it's surprising that he hasn't used major cyber weapons yet. I think we're much more sophisticated than we used to be, including our private sector.

But, as Mark Warner has pointed out over the last months, cyber doesn't know national boundaries. And if cyber is used big time in Ukraine -- there's not much left to attack in Ukraine, sadly -- and it morphs over into Poland, then NATO's being attacked.

So I think the big problem is, we have different definitions of escalation. And I think the big thing that Biden is worried about -- and I agree with him -- is a miscalculation. And he's trying to keep things in a in a neat box. Unfortunately, the box isn't very neat.

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, I -- I think, among the American people, we are having a dual impulse right now.

On the one hand, we don't want military entanglements. We're war- weary. On the other hand, it strikes me that people every single day are growing more and more angry about what they're seeing Vladimir Putin do to these poor Ukrainians.

And when you see these parents fleeing these -- in other countries with their children, I think it's increasing the resolve of the American people and increasing the desire of the American people to do something. We have an impulse to do something.

The consequences of doing something could be extraordinarily dangerous to everybody. But what Putin has done is strengthen the resolve of everybody who -- in the West who hates tyrants, who hates people that want to rule by savagery. And I hope -- I hope it's been a blunder.

But, at the same time, we have said we're not going to confront him militarily. And so this dual impulse in the American people right now is, to me, politically really interesting.

BASH: And you heard Senator Portman, who joined me from Poland, where he is visiting a refugee camp. He -- and he's not alone. It's not just Republicans. Some of your fellow Democrats are saying, we need to be more aggressive by give -- helping or at least facilitating the Ukrainians get the aircraft that they're asking for.

ALLRED: Yes, I think this is kind of a classic Washington conundrum where we're focusing on this one thing, which, really, militarily is not that useful for the Ukrainian military.

They're not flying that many sorties. Obviously, they have asked for it. I'd love for us to find a way to do it, but not if it's going to precipitate World War III, which is what President Biden's calculus is. We are providing them with the MANPADs, with the Stingers, with the

ground-to-air missiles to try and defend themselves. And that, I think, is the most important thing to focus on. And we're doing it openly. And that also is a risk. And we have to recognize that as well.

GLASSER: Well, I think the worry, though, is that we may not want World War III. Nobody wants World War III.

But if Vladimir Putin thinks he's already at war with the United States -- and I think that's the real concerning question, number one, which is, look at the devastating economic sanctions that we have already imposed, which Putin himself, by the way, has said is an act of war. And if you look at the consequences, it's to destroy huge swathes of the Russian economy.

Number two, if we agree -- and this group seems to agree that escalation is quite possible for Vladimir Putin next -- biological -- you talk about the American people and the outrage. There's going to be enormous pressure...


HARMAN: Absolutely.

GLASSER: ... on the Biden administration to respond to any further escalation.

And that is scary.

HARMAN: One of the ironies here is, we actually enlisted Russia to help us remove chemical weapons from Syria. Anybody remember that? And that was Russia's entree into the Middle East.


And where are those chemical weapons? Maybe they're actually going to be rolled out and used here. Who would have imagined?

But I wanted to say something on the flip side, and that is the Biden administration and Europe are now lashed together. And I think one of the reasons we're hesitating on the MiGs, the small Russian-made airplanes, is that Europe doesn't want to do that.

I mean, look at Poland. Poland tried to say they will transfer them to us for free at Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany, so trying to let us take the rap.

At any rate, my point is that we have escalated this to a point where it might not be able to be put back in a box. And what comes next is going to be very dicey. But we're lashed together with Europe. Finally, NATO is revived. The E.U. has found a purpose. The only thing that's missing is the U.N.

Where's the U.N.? Is anyone talking about peacekeepers, if we could ever get to any kind of resolution? BASH: Well, that's a good question.

I do want to talk -- you said that American resolve is really maybe even surprising about -- to do something. The question is the effect on the U.S. economy, and specifically gas prices. They topped $4, on average, this week, for the first time since 2008.

Listen to what President Biden said about that.


BIDEN: I'm going to do everything I can to minimize Putin's price hike here at home. We understand Putin's war against the people of Ukraine is causing prices to rise.

People are already, already feeling Putin's price hikes at the pump. Make no mistake, inflation is largely the fault of Putin.


JENNINGS: For the president to turn -- to try to pretend like prices weren't already rising, I mean, I don't think people are, candidly, that dumb.

I mean, we remember the inflation was going on long before this happened. It's absolutely true this is making it worse. But to sort of whitewash what happened all of last year I don't think is going to work for them politically.

But I think on the issue of, are Americans willing to pay more, yes. I think American resolve on this is clear. There's new polling out today that shows that it's clear. But I don't think they're going to be able to sort of wave it away as a political issue as they head toward the midterms.

BASH: You're from Texas, oil country.

ALLRED: Yes. Yes.

Well, I was raised by a single mother who was a public schoolteacher. I know every cent, every dollar, it really matters. I understand that. But this is largely a result of the pandemic. And it's largely a result, the additional pain that we're feeling now, of the actions of one madman in the Kremlin deciding to invade a democratic country.

And so let's come together and rally around this, understand that we should do something to help the American consumers to lower costs. I'm looking at ways we can use the tax code to do that to try and reduce that impact at home, and also increase our production.

We're working with allies and partners around the world to get them to increase their production. But I agree. I think that the American people also understand that this is part of the cost of standing up to a dictator.

JENNINGS: Can I ask, though, what allies and partners? Venezuela? Iran? Are these the people we're begging?

ALLRED: Well, we're talking to all of our allies.

JENNINGS: I mean, to me, this is a major issue, that he's having to communicate with these regimes that we say are bad places, and now we're begging them for oil.

I think the American people have noticed this.

HARMAN: Well, we were almost back in a deal with Iran, which everyone consented to, and now Russia wants to break out of that. But containing Iran is still an important purpose.

What I was going to say was something nice that we could all agree on, which is, Congress has come together around Ukraine...


HARMAN: ... and is passing important legislation, providing funding both for humanitarian purposes and military purposes.

Hooray, Congress.

BASH: Yes. Well, that's true.


BASH: That is true. And I -- and we haven't seen that. We haven't seen that very much.

ALLRED: Although I predicted that. I told you we were going to...


BASH: And you have been talking about this. You have been talking about this for a long time.

But, very quickly, you come from California. Gas prices -- I was just there last week. Gas prices there, forget $4. It's double that. So, just on the politics of this, maybe in the short term, Americans see what's happening and say, we just have to suck it up as much as we can.

But how long will that last? This is an election year.


HARMAN: It's a huge issue. And inflation was predicted by Larry Summers and others back in the day.

But I think Colin is right that the pandemic is the biggest driver of this. And we have to take prudent steps. I mean, Congress is not passing big-ticket legislation right at the moment, in case anybody missed it. They are passing big-ticket help for Ukraine. That's a good thing. So I hope that we will find a way together as a country to fight for

democracy against autocracy, which is something I think we all agree with.

BASH: Susan, last word.

GLASSER: Well, I would say that Vladimir Putin believes and is betting on American division and Western division, if he can last long enough.

And I think that's part of what you're going to see, is to wait out this moment of unity in the West and here in the United States. He's betting on our weakness. And that's why this invasion happened, in some ways, in the first place.

BASH: All right. Well, you were very brief.

Anybody have a 10-second thought that they want to add?

JENNINGS: If Joe Biden doesn't show some progress on American domestic energy production between now and the midterms, they're going to suffer.

They're going to have to ramp it up, and not just say it. They're going to have to do it.

BASH: Well, that's going to be a discussion maybe for next week.

Everybody, thank you so much for joining me. Appreciate it.

And thank you for spending your Sunday morning with us.

Please join us right here at noon for a special live edition of STATE OF THE UNION, with guests, including the president of Latvia and Senator Amy Klobuchar, who is also going to be joining us from Poland.

"FAREED ZAKARIA GPS" starts right now.