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Hala Gorani Tonight

U.S. Deploying Troops To Bolster NATO`s Eastern Flank; Satellite Images Show Russia Escalating Military Buildup At Ukraine`s Border; CNN`s President Resigns; CNN Visits Trenches On Ukrainian Front Lines; Interview With Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Marcin Przydacz After Kyiv Trip; Tonga Under Lockdown With First Local COVID-19 Cases; Beijing Relying On Closed Loop System To Curb Coronavirus Infections. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired February 02, 2022 - 14:00   ET



HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Hello everyone, live from CNN in London, I`m HALA GORANI TONIGHT. New satellite images reveal the further

build-up of Russian troops near Ukraine, while the U.S. announces, it will send more troops to eastern Europe. Where does that leave diplomacy?

Then racism allegations in the NFL. A fired coach sues claiming discrimination. And a tale of two bubbles in Beijing. Our reporters show

you the effect of China`s strict COVID policy on the Winter Olympics just days away now. Let`s start with this, the Pentagon has just announced a new

troop deployment to Europe, saying it`s important to send a, quote, "unmistakable" signal to Russia and the world.

We`ll analyze in a moment what these troops will do, how many are actually going and where they will be stationed. The U.S. will send almost 3,000

troops to Poland and Romania to shore up NATO`s eastern flank. It comes amid the possible threat of a Russian invasion of Ukraine. The U.S. also is

deploying several hundred more troops to Germany. The Pentagon is calling this a defensive measure, making clear that its forces will not be doing

any fighting in Ukraine. It says it has not yet determine that Russia will attack, but wants to be ready in case.


JOHN KIRBY, PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: In terms of why now, here`s just a couple of factors. Mr. Putin continues to add forces, combined arms,

offensive capabilities, even over just the last 24 hours. He continues to add in western Russia and in Belarus and again as I said, in the

Mediterranean and the North Atlantic. He has shown no signs of being interested or willing to de-escalate the tensions. And it`s not just the

United States that`s noticed this, our NATO allies have noticed this.


GORANI: New satellite imagery as I was mentioning at the top supports what Pentagon`s spokesperson John Kirby just said there. Our Melissa Bell shows

us why the west is increasingly concerned.


MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From the sky, Russia`s military build-up is clear, newly erected tents in Crimea, short-range

ballistic missiles in Belarus, impact craters at training sites in Russia. Pictures released by the satellite image provider Maxar on Wednesday

showing increased activity and preparedness at Ukraine`s borders.

A military build-up that has led to the worse tension between Russia and NATO since the end of the cold war. The Russian president blames the west,

accusing the alliance and the United States of wanting to contain Russia.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT, RUSSIA (through translator): Their main task is to contain the development of Russia. Ukraine is simply a tool to achieve

this goal. They could draw us into some kind of armed conflict.

BELL: Maxar says the new images show tents or shelters for troops at virtually every deployment location in Belarus, Crimea and western Russia.

The military build-up was first spotted last Fall. Initially, Maxar`s images showed hardware, but little sign of troop deployments. That has now

changed. As has the tone of some of Ukraine`s allies.

BORIS JOHNSON, PRIME MINISTER, UNITED KINGDOM: It`s about Ukraine, and that matters deeply to us. But this is about something even bigger, I`m

afraid it`s about the whole European security architecture.

BELL: Those fears are shared by Washington. The Pentagon announcing on Wednesday troop deployments to Romania, Poland and Germany.

KIRBY: The current situation demands that we reinforce the deterrent and defensive posture on NATO`s eastern flank. President Biden has been clear

that the United States will respond to the growing threat to Europe`s security and stability.

BELL: But if the latest satellite images confirm NATO`s view on Russia`s ability to invade Ukraine, there is division among allies as to whether

Russia intends to.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): It`s a clear and imminent danger, but at this moment, we have no information on the willingness of Vladimir

Putin to take action.

BELL: The only man who knows has neither confirmed nor denied what Washington and London say is now only a matter of time.


GORANI: And that was Melissa Bell who joins me now live from Kyiv. We also have Nic Robertson in Moscow with news about a phone call between Britain`s

prime minister and Vladimir Putin. So, Nic, let`s start with you, what -- obviously, diplomacy is still very much on the table as an option to try to

diffuse tensions and avoid a war.


What`s the very latest on that front?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Well, there are two read-outs, one from 10 Downing Street and one from the Kremlin. The one

from the Kremlin says that they had an exchange, you know, a full exchange over a number of issues that the Kremlin pointed out to Boris Johnson, that

NATO was falling short of what he wanted, what Russia needed.

Pointed out that Ukraine was essentially the loose link here that was -- that what it was doing whether it`s creating chaos in Ukraine was, you

know, sort of heading it towards abrogating the terms of the Minsk Agreement and the Normandy format talks.

So, you know, from the Kremlin, I don`t think there was a high expectation that this was going to change anything. Boris Johnson was being trolled on

television, he and the state media earlier in the day as foreign secretary was being trolled by the spokeswoman at the Foreign Ministry later this

afternoon. The expectations that anything would come out of the call were low. But from the prime minister`s office, he -- we heard that he

reiterated the things that it said that if Russia invades, and that would be hugely calamitous for Russia.

He said that Russia should draw down its troops if it was serious about negotiations. There really seemed in both these read-outs here to be

statements of what we knew both sides` positions were, but it didn`t indicate a track forward. There was an echo from the Russian president

spokesperson saying -- or the Kremlin`s read-out saying that what he`d said to -- actually, the French President Emmanuel Macron saying that what

Russia really needs is a long-term legally-binding guarantee that Ukraine can`t join NATO, that, that cannot go ahead. So, you know, themes we`ve

heard before, Hala.

GORANI: Right, sure. And we know that NATO and the United States will not engage on that point. And Melissa Bell in Kyiv, we`re hearing from the

White House that they`re not qualifying a potential Russian invasion as imminent. And we know that President Zelensky of Ukraine had a big issue

with the rhetoric that the Americans were using. What`s the reaction there?

BELL: Well, that`s right, Hala. Even though President Zelensky has said today that, that economic worry he had, all that instability, its economic

costs seem to have stabilized, but you`re quite right. Ukraine clearly looking for an off-ramp here, and looking for diplomacy to work. Now,

Ukraine`s foreign minister said today that he believed the diplomacy was working even if it`s working slightly slowly.

Now, we know that Vladimir Putin, at the end of that much-awaited press conference yesterday, spoke to the fact that he was hoping to meet with

President Macron. Someone that he told the French president on Friday was one of the only ones he could have the deep conversations with that he

sought. And I think what`s been interesting as well and what`s come out today is also with the French Foreign Minister had to say.

That whilst it was clear that Russia had been aggressive, either it was facing sanctions and that this was quite right, that there was a

recognition on the French side at least, that perhaps the treaties that had governed international relations and certainly European security, we`re out

of date and there was a need to look at them, and even if clearly, NATO is aligned on the idea of not questioning the open doors policy of NATO, Jean-

Yves Le Drian saying that perhaps it was time to look at those treaties.

That is one of Moscow`s key demands. So, there is the possibility here perhaps through the French channel that Putin will find the interlocutors

that he`s looking for, to try and find some kind of diplomatic solution to all this. Jean-Yves Le Drian, the French Foreign Minister coming here to

Kyiv on Monday and Tuesday. Perhaps some hope still that diplomacy may find a way out, Hala.

GORANI: Yes, and Melissa, back to Nic now, because we`re seeing some leaked documents of the NATO and U.S. responses to Russia`s security

demands, not engaging as we mentioned, at all, on any kind of legally- binding guarantee that NATO won`t expand farther eastward. What did we glean from those documents? That Putin had an opportunity to review and we

already know certainly, it doesn`t believe to be sufficient in responding to Russia`s security requests.

ROBERTSON: No, it doesn`t. He`s made that very clear. And there were some interesting details in those leaked reports, I believe it was five pages of

the U.S. response in seven pages of the NATO response. And very much in keeping with what we`ve heard said publicly, and that was a point that John

Kirby; the Pentagon spokesman made a few hours ago, very much in keeping with what we`ve heard publicly, saying that there was the possibility for

discussions in the areas of arms control, missile controls, troop deployments and such like.

And really, there was a bit more sort of specificity over, you know, shorter medium-range missiles and intermediate-range weapons systems.


But one of the interesting details that came out that there had been a hint of before, but now these documents are in the public domain. The United

States has actually offered to Russia in this document to come and inspect its defensive missile systems that are positioned in Romania extensively to

protect against missiles that would be coming from Iran. That Russia should be able to come and inspect those missile systems there, and I believe

Bulgaria as well.

Because Russia believes that those defensive missile systems can be switched out so that tomahawk cruise missiles could be fitted, though could

be fired towards Russia. So, that was on the table, but the specific reciprocity on that, that Russia gives the United States access to two of

its missile sites of the United States choosing to go and inspect. So, that was interesting detail. There`s --

GORANI: Yes --

ROBERTSON: Definitely the flesh there to get into talk, but it`s not enough for Putin so far.

GORANI: Sure, and importantly, the dialogue is still open. Thanks so much and Nic Robertson and Melissa Bell. Let`s get more on the announcement of

U.S. troop deployments to eastern Europe, Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr was at today`s briefing. We`re hearing from the White House both that

they now are not qualifying a possible invasion as imminent, but at the same time sending troops to certain eastern European countries. What`s the

bigger picture?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think, Hala, it`s a relatively small, 3,000 or so number of U.S. troops. And remember, there`s

about 60,000 U.S. troops permanently stationed in Europe. Vladimir Putin knows all of this, the question will be, does he choose to see any of this

as a provocation? So we have about a 1,000 U.S. troops already in Germany, they will be going to Romania as part of a mobile unit.

They will be joining 900 other U.S. troops that are routinely in Romania for training and building military relationships with the Romanians.

Another 2,000 troops will move from the U.S. to Europe. Some will go to Poland, some will go to Germany. These are U.S. troops that specialize in

rapid deployment, sending that message, if you will, that the U.S. can move very quickly when it chooses to.

So, how does Putin interpret all of this? The U.S. still insists they don`t know what Putin`s plan is. They don`t know if he`s going to make a move

against Ukraine. But by putting these troops in the eastern-flanked nations of NATO, the message is that they are there. They`re there to build

deterrents and reassurance in those NATO countries that are still so nervous about what Russia may do next. Hala?

GORANI: All right, thanks, Barbara Starr for that. So, we`ve shown you those satellite images of troop build-ups near the Ukrainian border. And we

can also give you a clearer look at what it`s like on the ground inside Ukraine.


CLARISSA WARD, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: What`s amazing to see is that despite the build-up of tanks and heavy weaponry on the Russian

side of the border, which is less than 20 miles from here, here on the Ukrainian side, there`s no sense at all that anyone is preparing for an



GORANI: It`s not just the soldiers Clarissa speaks to, it`s people living nearby, those who are closest to the threat of invasion as well. And that

full report will be coming up shortly. So stay with us on CNN. We`re going to take a quick break, when we come back, as Austria introduces mandatory

vaccination for all adults, some residents say they`ll break the law over what they see as a breach of their civil liberties.

Plus, a frank discussion about the culture around race in the NFL after one former coach makes damning allegations. Darren Lewis joins me next.



GORANI: A former NFL coach is challenging what he calls systemic racism and a bad faith system that doesn`t give black job candidates a true

chance. Brian Flores is suing the National Football League and three teams, saying they`re actively discriminating against black candidates for head

coaching and other positions. The suit also accuses the owner of the team he was coaching of treating him with, quote, "disdain". Flores says it`s

part of a larger pattern within the NFL.


BRIAN FLORES, FORMER NFL COACH: Being a black coach in the National Football League, you know that, you know, there`s a target -- I will say a

little bit of a target on you. And you know you have to be better than your counterparts.


GORANI: Now Flores is hoping to inspire change even if it costs him his future in the league. Leyla Santiago has those details.


LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Former Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores is suing the NFL and three of its teams, alleging racial

discrimination. In a 58-page complaint, lawyers for Flores accuse the league of being racially segregated and like a plantation. Filed on the

first day of Black History month, the suit begins by saying 32 owners, none of whom are black, profits substantially from the labor of NFL players, 70

percent of whom are black.

Flores claims he was discriminated against by the league and some of its owners and managers while applying for the job of head coach of the New

York Giants. Revealing a series of texts from Patriots head coach Bill Belichick three days before he was scheduled to interview with the New York


The complaints states on January 24th, Belichick wrote, "sounds like you have landed. Congrats." Flores responded saying, "did you hear something I

didn`t hear?" Belichick texted back, "Giants?" Flores later texts Belichick to ask if he`s texting the right coach before Belichick fesses up that he

has the wrong man. "Sorry, I expletive this up, I double-checked and I misread the text. I think they`re naming Daboll. I`m sorry about that. BB."

The lawsuit accuses the Giants of interviewing Flores for the job because of the Rooney Rule even though the decision to hire Brian Daboll had been

made. Originally introduced in 2003, the rule now requires at least two external minority candidates for open head coaching positions. In a

statement, the New York Giants stood by their hiring process, saying "Brian Flores was in the conversation to be our head coach until the 11th hour.

Ultimately, we hired the individual we felt was most qualified to be our next head coach." The lawsuit lays out another example of what it calls a

sham interview, describing an encounter between Flores and the Denver Broncos management team. "The Broncos then-General Manager, John Elway,

president and chief executive officer Mr. Ellis and others showed up an hour late to the interview.

They looked completely disheveled and it was obvious that they had been drinking heavily the night before." The Broncos said Flores allegation

against the team are blatantly false. And that the interview on January 5th lasted three and a half hours, involved five executives and ran according

to schedule. Our interview with Mr. Flores regarding our head coaching position began promptly at the scheduled time of 7:30 a.m. on January 5th,

2019, in a Providence, Rhode Island hotel.

There were five Broncos executives present for the interview which lasted approximately three and a half hours. The fully allotted time and concluded

shortly before 11:00 a.m." Flores was relieved of his duties as head coach of the Miami Dolphins after three seasons in January, alleging the writing

had been on the wall after he refused to tank for the first pick of the draft. The suit alleges during Flores` first season with the Dolphins in

2019, owner Stephen Ross told Mr. Flores that he would pay him a $100,000 for every loss after he refused.


To go along with Ross, Flores claims he was portrayed by the Dolphins as difficult to work with. In a statement, the Miami Dolphins denied any

allegations of racial discrimination and that the organization would be withholding further comment on the lawsuit at this time. The wide-ranging

suit also cites high profile example of cases of discrimination against black members of the league such as Colin Kaepernick who has not played

since 2016 after kneeling and protesting the national anthem.

The NFL responded to Flores`s lawsuit, saying the claims are without merit, and adding "the NFL and our clubs are deeply committed to ensuring

equitable employment practices and continue to make progress in providing equitable opportunities throughout our organizations."


GORANI: And that was Leyla Santiago reporting. Let`s talk this over with CNN senior sports analyst Darren Lewis, he joins me now from London. So,

this is the first very high profile lawsuit that cuts through the world of sport in the sense that, it`s on the news show, my program. But it`s not

the first allegation that all of the power inside the NFL is in the hands of white owners and coaches, right?

DARREN LEWIS, CNN SPORTS ANALYST: No, it`s not. But you know, to paraphrase what Colin Kaepernick has always said, Hala, I`m paraphrasing,

you know, they value our bodies but not our minds. And you know, there`s a feeling that black men are good enough to play. They`re -- but not -- as

soon as we stand up for ourselves, we get thrown out. And you know, I was listening to that report a second ago.

The reference from Brian Flores that the NFL is racially segregated and managed much like a plantation. That`s going to upset some people. And it

will also offend some few people. But you know, Hala, look at the numbers. You heard a couple of them there, 32 owners, none of them are black. You

got 70 percent of the players, the labor force, those guys who take the hits week after week to their bodies and their brains, they`re black.

And then you look at the head coaching position, and this is key, Hala, because you know, in the last 20 years since the Rooney Rule was passed. We

had an explanation a second ago, only 15 head coaching positions are being filled by black candidates. And in that time, there have been 129 coaching

vacancies. So, you know, listen, it`s easy to risk your space when you`re retired, you know, because there`s no real commercial concern.

But when you`re black and you hear a guy like Brian Flores stand up and risk his space now like Ali and Kaepernick and John Kohls(ph) and Tony

Smith, and all the others, you realize that it makes a difference. And the only people asking what he`s risking, if he understands what he`s risking

are the people who have never had to consider that kind of risk themselves.

GORANI: Right, and he explained it by the way on CNN. That he knows he`s risking his job. Listen.


FLORES: I understand the risk. Look, I love coaching football. I`m called to coach football. I`m gifted to coach football. And I still want to coach.

Let`s be clear about that. But this is bigger than coaching. This is bigger than me. You know, the numbers speak for themselves as far as the hiring,

firing, and the lack of opportunities or minority and black head coaches and executives in the National Football League, and we need to change. We

need things to change.


GORANI: So, Darren, I guess will they?

LEWIS: Well, you know, Hala, I get asked this question so often, you know. It`s really not hard, because this isn`t just about sport. If you`re black

and you`re watching this right now, you don`t have to be a sports fan t know exactly what this is about. Because so many organizations inside and

outside sport, they channel money into these diversity schemes and the cosmetic gestures. We`ve seen it in the NFL, we`ve seen it in other

American sports when they could just give black people a job.

Black people are qualified for those jobs, give them equal treatment. It really is that simple. People make it hard. They make it complex. But it`s

only complex and difficult at organizations where the will to change is just not there. So they have those advisory boards and the working groups

and the panel discussions, and everyone talks about how difficult the situation is and how hard it is to change, and will they change? They can

change it, Hala, they just don`t want to, and that`s a problem.

GORANI: Because it`s not just in the NFL, I mean, it`s all industries that we hear a lot about these diversity initiatives. But still a lot of

frustration when you look at the very top of management layer and often find, you know, white men there, even if they are in the lower ranks, more

minorities and women. Were these initiatives useless, then?


LEWIS: Well, these initiatives, really, we shouldn`t have needed them. We shouldn`t have needed them to get women into positions of power. We

shouldn`t need them in 2022 to get black people into power. We shouldn`t need them here in the U.K., and where we have one black manager in the

English Premier League. Zero black referee, zero black people on the board of the governing body of English football, the Football Association.

People wonder why we have a racism crisis in English sport. That`s the reason. Because there are zero people at the top of the sport who

understand what black men are going through. Even though black men are considered good enough to play the game and to put their bodies on the

line. They`re being failed, Hala, on both sides of the Atlantic, and it`s never going to change unless people like Brian Flores are supported in

their fight for systemic change.

GORANI: Right, yes, and the awareness needs to be there. I think, you know, like everything else, all other types of discrimination, stereotype

being pigeon holing. When people hear the problem, they`re at least aware of it. Thank you so much, Darren Lewis as always, pleasure chatting to you.

Now, the CNN President Jeff Zucker resigned just a few hours ago after disclosing a consensual relationship with a colleague.

Zucker has led CNN worldwide for nine years now. He has been one of the most prominent media executives in the United States and his resignation

which shocked many people, it`s effective immediately. Brian Stelter joins me from New York with more. Tell us how this all came about because we all

got the e-mail in our in-box, and lots of jaws dropped, I think today.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, all around the world, and both at CNN and in the wider news industry for the reasons you

expressed about his larger-than-life status in the news business. Zucker worked for years at "NBC", then at CNN. And all along, his right-hand woman

is de facto Chief of Staff was Allison Gollust who is the head of marketing and communications for CNN.

Today, Zucker is acknowledging a romantic relationship with Gollust, and he says because he violated Warner Media`s code of conduct, that`s why he`s

resigning. Here`s the key part of his statement saying, "as part of the investigation into Chris Cuomo`s tenure at CNN, I was asked about a

consensual relationship with my closest colleague, someone I have worked with for more than 20 years. I acknowledged the relationship evolved in

recent years.

I was required to disclose it when I began, but didn`t when it began, but I didn`t disclose it, I was wrong. As a result, I am resigning today."

Gollust`s statement essentially establishes the same timeline, saying, quote, Jeff and I have been close friends and professional partners for

over 20 years. Recently, our relationship changed during COVID. I regret that we didn`t disclose it at the right time." She says "I`m incredibly

proud of my time at CNN and look forward to continuing the great work we do every day."

So, Gollust is indicating she will remain on it at CNN. But they are both acknowledging that they did not follow up the way that every employee is

supposed to when having a romantic relationship. You have to disclose it to your superiors, and they`re acknowledging they did not do that in this

circumstance. The reference to the Cuomo story is notable too. Chris Cuomo was fired by CNN in December, and he has not -- he`s been trying to in

essence burn the house down as one source said to me recently.

Cuomo has been going into court, trying to drag CNN into a legal battle perhaps to recoup the money that he thinks he`s owed for his time at CNN.

So, there`s this battle playing out with Chris Cuomo and CNN, and through that, Zucker was brought in and asked about this allegation of a

relationship. He then acknowledged there`s a relationship and he didn`t disclose it. What happens next? Warner Media comes to him, figures out a

deal and as a result, he announced his resignation earlier today. So, you`ve got this internal --

GORANI: Yes --

STELTER: Political or internal corporate situation going on, but the effects will be felt widespread because of CNN`s widespread growth.

GORANI: Sure, and really the big question, I mean, internally for us and obviously for anyone who is interested in the news and the news

industries, what will this do to the network? The strategic direction right now, I think that question is still up in the air. We`ll get to talk a lot

more about this, I`m sure. Brian Stelter, our chief media correspondent. Thanks so much.

STELTER: Thanks.

GORANI: Still to come tonight, a rare look at life on the frontlines in Ukraine. We`ll take you inside the trenches. And I`ll be speaking with

Poland`s deputy foreign minister, he has just returned from a trip to Kyiv. Stay with us.




GORANI: As tensions continue between Russia and Ukraine, there are some who would be facing a very immediate threat if an invasion actually

happens, Ukrainian soldiers on the front lines and the civilians living close by.

How prepared are they?

How worried are they?

CNN`s Clarissa Ward got rare access to those first lines of defense.


CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is Ukraine`s first line of defense if Russia decides to invade. And it is basic. Half a

dozen soldiers in snow- covered trenches. No sign of heavy weapons.

Russian-backed separatists are just half a mile away.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking foreign language).

WARD: (Speaking foreign language).

He`s saying that every night, there is fighting once it gets dark.

(voice-over): These front lines have been frozen for years. A Russian offensive would change that in an instant. But the alarm in Washington is

not shared here.

What`s amazing to see is that, despite the buildup of tanks and heavy weaponry on the Russian side of the border, which is less than 20 miles

from here, here on the Ukrainian side, there`s no sense at all that anyone is preparing for an invasion.

The sergeant here asked we not give his name. He says he doesn`t expect conflict but he is prepared.

"Our commanders told us that we must be alert," he tells us.

"We are ready to meet guests from Russia."

What kind of weapons do you have at this position?

Do you have any heavy weaponry?

I don`t see any. But I just want to make sure.

(voice-over): "You don`t need to see. And the enemy doesn`t need to see," he says.

"But we have everything."

What they don`t have here are many layers of defense. Driving from the front, we see just a handful of checkpoints.

If the Ukrainian army can`t hold this area, Russian forces could reach Mariupol, a port city of half a million, in hours.

Despite the threat, life here goes on much as normal. At the local market, stalls are open and the shelves are full.

I`d love to know if you think that there will be a war?

(Speaking foreign language).

(voice-over): "We don`t want war. We have children and grandchildren," Natalia says.

"And there won`t be war. We believe that."


(voice-over): Some, like Argent (ph), say that America is exaggerating the threat.

"No, there will not be a war," he says. "It`s only Biden who thinks this."

It`s interesting talking to people here. Nobody seems to be remotely concerned about the prospect of an imminent invasion.

(voice-over): These people are no strangers to war. All around Mariupol, the hollowed-out remnants of villages destroyed and abandoned by fighting

between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian separatists.

But whether moved by denial or disbelief, these soldiers and the people they`re protecting don`t expect history to repeat itself. For now, they

wait and they watch and they hope.

The U.S. has been sending a steady stream of weapons to Ukraine, including those much-coveted Javelin missiles, anti-tank missiles.

But under the rules of the current cease-fire, even though it`s being broken on a regular basis, neither side is allowed to bring heavy weaponry

down to the front lines. So those Javelins cannot go to the front lines.

That could potentially be a big problem for Ukrainian forces in those areas if Russia launches some type of lightning offensive. Clarissa Ward, CNN,

Eastern Ukraine.


GORANI: Let`s remind ourselves where Western countries stand as the region continues to try to react and contain and manage these threats from Russia.

Only a few weeks ago, the American President Biden suggested that a minor incursion into Ukraine by Russia would elicit less of a response. He`s

since walked back those remarks.

But it signaled that not all NATO allies were necessarily on the same page. Any division in Europe could play into the hands of Russia`s president,

Vladimir Putin. While the U.K. has pledged support and strengthened its relationship with Kyiv. Germany, on the other hand, has faced criticism for

its response by some.

That country obviously has a complicated relationship with Russia. It`s an economic relationship over gas and energy supplies mainly.

France continues diplomatic efforts but says there is no indication right now that Russia plans to invade in any imminent fashion.

And meantime Poland is strengthening its cooperation with Ukraine as it calls for a tough, united stance from European leaders.

Where does this all leave the West`s response?

I want to bring in Marcin Przydacz, Poland`s deputy foreign minister, who just returned from a trip to Kyiv.

Thank you, Minister, for being with us. You were just in Kyiv.

What conversations did you have?

How much concern is there?

Because we saw there in Clarissa`s report, that even on the front lines, Ukrainian soldiers seem pretty relaxed.

What did you encounter in Kyiv during your trip?

MARCIN PRZYDACZ, POLISH DEPUTY FOREIGN MINISTER: Well, good evening. Thank you for having me. Yes. We`ve just been -- I was just accompanying my prime

minister and has been a trip to Kyiv, to Ukraine.

You have to know that Ukraine is -- there is a war over this since 2014. So some people, especially those in the eastern part of this country, they got

used to the fact that they are in danger; although, we need to acknowledge the fact that there is 100,000 troops just next to the Ukrainian borders.

And there are additional 30,000 troops exercising, together with Belarusian troops and in the territory of Belarus. So we are quite alarmed with

Russia`s military activities there.

And I think that Ukrainians also are quite alarmed; maybe the civilians, they don`t feel that. But experts and, in the analysis, you can see that

there are some tensions and that the Russians are planning something big.

GORANI: OK. So you think the Russians are planning something.

What do you think the timeframe is?

What do you think the objective is?

Because Ukraine is a huge country. If Russia wants to make an incursion; sure, it can make an incursion. It has tens of thousands of troops. It has

tanks and military equipment. It`s one thing going in. It`s another thing going in completely and an entirely different thing holding territory.

Here you`re going to have more resistance than in 2014.

PRZYDACZ: Well, you are absolutely right. It`s -- maybe it will be quite easy to invade the country. But then to hold the territory is something

completely different.

And it would be very difficult for Russia; also having in mind the fact that Ukrainians are a different nation, are a different society, combined

with those on the `90s (ph) are very much pro Western and pro European in their thinking about the future of their country. After Maidan, everything

has changed there.


PRZYDACZ: So I think the scope of Russia, of course, is to exert pressure on Ukraine somehow to stop further integration with the West, maybe to

change the government of this country.

And if Russia could do it without a military incursion, of course, they would try to do. That`s why right now, through this military buildup, they

are trying to exert pressure on the government. If this --


GORANI: So you think -- you think -- I get that but what you`re saying then is potentially one of the goals of accumulating all this Russian

military presence around Ukraine`s borders is to put pressure on Western countries to what?

To give in more on certain Russian demands?

So this is a negotiation tactic, you think?

PRZYDACZ: Well, we`ve all received proposals, letters from Russian MFA, offering some kind of restoring the spheres of influence, the Russia won`t

ask the Western countries to withdraw from the open door and their policies are somehow blocking the Ukrainian way to the West.

And then raising (ph) a sphere of influence. The Russians` fear of influence or at least a gray zone down here in this part of the continent

in the central and eastern part of Europe. And that`s basically what Russia wants.

But, of course, they want to somehow rebuild the empire, the post Soviet empire, with a capital in Moscow. That`s the dream of president Vladimir


GORANI: Yes, but they`re not going to get that. I mean, the West this time around is not the West of 2014, as we just discussed. They`re not going to

get any security guarantees never to expand NATO to include Ukraine. We know they`re not going to get that.

So I wonder, from your perspective in Poland, what do you think the next few weeks will bring?

Can we still find a diplomatic solution?

PRZYDACZ: Well, there is always room for diplomacy, I would say. I mean, we are diplomats, are always ready to talk and find any kind of solution

for that. But we need to be prepared, of course, for any aggressive steps taken by Russia and we are -- we welcome very much the decision of the

United States government to deploy further troops into Europe, also in Poland.

Because that`s the language which is very much and very well understood by Russia. But we continue our diplomatic struggle to maintain peace at the

NATO level and in the bilateral talks but also at the OECD level. Poland is a chairmanship -- in officer for OEC. OEC is a good platform to talk to

Russia in order to maintain (INAUDIBLE).

Thank you, Marcin Przydacz, the deputy foreign minister in Poland. Thank you for joining us.

He was just in Kyiv there. There`s been -- there`s been many, many Western politicians, foreign ministers, the prime minister of Britain, others

visiting Ukraine. This diplomatic dance continues with the hope of avoiding a full-scale confrontation.

Still to come tonight, the controversial mandatory vaccine: some Austrians say they`ll break the law because they think this is a breach of their

civil liberties. We`ll be right back.





GORANI: Let`s look at which countries are cutting back on COVID restrictions.

France is easing some measures now that Omicron infections are stabilizing. As of today, its outdoor mask mandate is lifted and working from home is no

longer mandatory.

Lithuania is scrapping a COVID certificate requirement for shops. The government says the variant has already spread too much.

But it`s the opposite in Tonga, the once COVID-19-free island is locking down. It`s reporting three new cases as aid pours in following that

horrific volcanic eruption a few weeks ago.

Vaccination against COVID-19 becomes mandatory this week in Austria for everyone over 18. Unvaccinated adults could soon face hundreds of dollars

in fines if they refuse to get the jab. Isa Soares has more.


ISA SOARES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In a small town in northwestern Austria, one mother of six soon plans to live outside the law.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): We have done a lot, I think, to protect the people at risk. But solidarity stops for me where it concerns

one`s own body.

SOARES (voice-over): The 49-year-old harpist says she won`t bow to pressure from the government. As the country becomes the first in Europe to

mandate vaccines for adults nationwide, starting Friday, a phased rollout begins.

First, unvaccinated citizens will have the opportunity to get the jab. But by March 15th, when compliance checks begin, those without vaccination

records or an exemption could face fines of up to 3600 euros or just over $4,000, up to four times a year. Still, some residents have been preparing

to skirt the new law.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): There are ways to find hairdressers even, private meetings. There is actually already a parallel

society. It is there already. It is already being built up.

SOARES (voice-over): A parallel society built on anti-vax sentiment after failed attempts to stop what`s imminently coming to force. Since November,

tens of thousands have protested the mandate as well as other COVID restrictions.

But government officials insisting the new law is needed to help boost vaccination rates in Austria, with just over three quarters of the

population fully inoculated against COVID-19.

Now as Austria`s mandate goes into effect, other European nations will likely look on, hoping to close vaccination gaps of their own.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking foreign language).

SOARES (voice-over): In Germany, lawmakers are debating similar mandates to Austria, hoping at least 80 percent of the population will soon have the


In Italy, vaccinations are required for those over 50 years old.

In Greece, for anyone over 60. But until this week, European nations had stopped short of a mandate as sweeping as Austria`s. Such strict measures

previously reserved for a handful of non Western countries.

Across much of Europe, hospitalizations and deaths have eased as seemingly less severe Omicron variant dominates. But infection levels are soaring,

stopping the spread still a central challenge of the pandemic, as one country puts Europe`s most stringent mandate yet to the test -- Isa Soares,

CNN, London.


GORANI: China isn`t taking any chances ahead of the Winter Olympics. It`s sticking to its zero COVID strategy and all the strict measures that go

along with it. We`ll show you what it`s like inside and outside also the Olympic bubble, with our reporter on the ground.





GORANI: When it comes to Beijing`s Olympic bubble, you`re either in or you`re out. It`s part of China`s zero COVID strategy ahead of the Winter

Games. They`re still sticking to that. But dozen of cases have already been found inside the closed loop system.

Is it really working?

David Culver and Selina Wang show us what it`s like on both sides of the bubble.


DAVID CULVER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The motto of Beijing`s Winter Games is "Together for a shared future." It`s a nice

sentiment but daily life in the Chinese capital is far apart from the Olympic enclave within it and absolutely nothing is shared between the

people that inhabit the two worlds.

Too great is the risk of Omicron for China as it tries to maintain its zero COVID-19 policy. In the week leading to January 30th, 237 symptomatic

infections were reported in the country of 1.4 billion people.

Meanwhile, arrivals testing in the daily screening of games participants has already registered about 200 positive results.

The closed loop system means those Olympic personnel who are visiting from other countries won`t be able to freely wander and check out some the

iconic tourist sites, like this one, the Forbidden City. For them, it is truly forbidden.

SELINA WANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Instead, for athletes, organizers and us journalists inside the closed loop, Beijing has become a series of bubbles,

our hotels, the sporting venues and places like this media center are as much as the city has to offer.

(voice-over): There are even literal walls, security, blocking us from freely moving about. We`re COVID tested every day outside the hotel.

Technology takes the place of many lost interactions. Here at the media center, a robot serves our food.

(voice-over): And there`s a robot bartender mixing and serving our drinks. Only a limited number of Beijingers have joined our closed loop to look

after and transport all the people connected to the games.

And they, too, will need to stay separate from family and friends for weeks, quite a sacrifice, as the Lunar New Year holiday overlaps with the


But as COVID has disconnected Beijing from the international event it`s hosting, it has also disconnected the people here from the rest of their


CULVER: And normally, during the Lunar New Year holiday, major cities like Beijing are empty; all the folks who live here are going back to their home


But this year, because of the outbreaks happening all over China, they are asking folks to stay put. So you have crowds like this gathering at some of

the more popular spots.

(voice-over): Crowds that won`t get to be there as the medals are contested and won.


No sporting tickets are on sale. Instead, the government will issue some to a lucky few.

Beijing 2022 is a tale of two cities. The hosts...

WANG: And their guests, so close but so far -- for CNN, I`m Selina Wang inside the Olympic closed loop.

CULVER: And I`m David Culver on the outside, Beijing, China.


GORANI: So close yet so far.

David Culver, this, I mean, look, when I look at your report and it was great, because it gave us a sense of the mood there but you know, Winter

Games, Olympic Games whether they`re Summer or Winter Games, usually people are excited. There`s crowds. There`s memorabilia. This kind of looks like a

ghost town.

CULVER: Well, and especially here in China. I mean, the Olympics is a time that this country usually comes together with a lot of pride. And there is

a lot of Olympic spirit, especially when you`re the host country.

You`re right. It`s subdued. Now part of that internationally has to do with the geopolitics casting a shadow over the games. But domestically it`s

about COVID and the heavy restrictions in place.

And that piece, in one instance, there`s a mom working inside the bubble, yelling out and her kids are saying Happy New Year to her. It`s the Lunar

New Year, perhaps the most important holiday, where they`re emptying the cities and going to home provinces. It`s the largest annual migration of


But this year, once again, because of the outbreaks that are sparking in several cities, including Beijing -- and we`re talking generally single-

digit daily new cases, maybe double-digit.

But for here in China, a zero COVID policy, that one case is one too many, it sparks lockdowns and heavy restrictions. So they`re not able to really

connect with family in the way that they were in years past.

Nonetheless, a few years ago, my team and I checked out some of the rehearsals being done from outside the bubble because that`s where we are.

And we noticed a lot of folks were likewise just curious and watching from a distance, as some of the practice and the lights. We were hoping to see

some of the fireworks were going to be launched off.

But that shows you there still is a lot of interest, even though there, are as you look around the city, barriers everywhere.

GORANI: All right. Thank you, David Culver. And Selina Wang as well for that inside and outside the bubble report.

And thanks to all of you for watching tonight. I`m Hala Gorani. We`ll have more on the tensions surrounding Ukraine and your top business news

headlines after a quick break. I`ll see you next time. Richard Quest will join you on "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" after this.