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Hala Gorani Tonight
Ukraine State Emergency Service Says 2k-Plus Civilians Have Been Killed So Far; Roman Abramovich Announces Plans To Sell Chelsea FC; Antony Blinken Says Ukrainians' Courage Is Inspiring The World; Ukrainians Witness And Resist Russian Aggression. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired March 02, 2022 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Tonight, we're waiting for two live events as Russia wages war across Ukraine. And we're expecting to hear this
hour from the French president, it should happen any moment in a matter of seconds as he addresses his nation, and the U.S. Secretary of State is due
to hold a briefing this hour as well.
Plus, big news. Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich has just announced he plans to sell one of the biggest football clubs in the world, Chelsea F.C.
Much more on that breaking news very much related to the crisis in Ukraine. We'll bring you those stories and much more. First, though, Ukraine's state
of -- State Emergency Services are warning that men, women and children are losing their lives every hour as Russia escalates attacks.
This happening in Kharkiv, it says more than 2,000 civilians have been killed in the war so far. That is a much higher number than we've heard
from the United Nations. The city of Kharkiv came under massive shelling again today. You can see some of those dramatic and tragic images. And
Russia is now claiming control of Kherson, a key southern port. Ukraine, though, is denying that, that city has fallen.
President Volodymyr Zelensky says Russia is trying to, quote, "erase our country and erase us all." The U.S. ambassador to the U.N. says there is
video showing that Russia is moving banned weapons into Ukraine, including cluster ammunitions and vacuum bombs. And CNN has learned that U.S.
officials believe Moscow is shifting to a strategy of, quote, "slow annihilation". Ukraine is confirming a new round of talks with Russia will
take place soon in Belarus.
Obviously, a first round of talks took place and did not yield any results. Let's get to the French President Emmanuel Macron addressing his nation in
EMMANUEL MACRON, PRESIDENT, FRANCE (through translator): We know that we have been having a very constant dialogue since 2017 with the president of
Russia, trying to find alternatives to an armed conflict. I have done that and other European leaders have done that. The president of America has
said that he is available for negotiations, and he met President Putin in Geneva in 2021. So he alone and deliberately repudiating all the
commitments which Russia had pledged to, and this council of nations, President Putin chose war.
This war is not a conflict between NATO and the West or Russia on the other hand. That is a lie. Russia is not aggressed. This war is even less as the
Russian propaganda says, a fight against an aggressor. It's an insult to Ukraine. It is not against Nazism. The Russian leaders talk about the
shore(ph) in Russia and in Ukraine. This war is the fruit of a spirit of revenge. And it would like to hark back to the darkest moments of
imperialism in Europe.
The conflagration in Ukraine is responded to by France and Europe firmly and determinant. We did that in close coordination with the British, the
Canadians, the Japanese and lots of other countries. First of all, by supporting the Ukrainian people through humanitarian convoys and equipment
to defend themselves. So acting with other nations, thus, to make the Russians understand what this is about.
A resolution has been voted by the Security Council of the U.N. on the violation of human rights committed by Moscow. And this very afternoon, the
General Assembly of the United Nations condemned, deplored the invasion by Russia of Ukraine. The United Nations is united. Russians have been
excluded from sporting events and a lot of cultural and other sporting events as well.
We continue and we will continue to work doggedly to condemn this invasion on all continents and to insist on a ceasefire and to make sure that there
are humanitarian operations underway. We acted proportionately and with composure, and thus, through the sanctions, hundreds of people around in
the entourage of the president of Russia have been sanctioned, and we have also introduced very important financial measures in order to thwart their
Russian propaganda has been at work, too. And they have been stopped from broadcasting in Europe. We organized the transfer of our embassy from Kyiv
to Lviv and we have exhorted all our nationals to leave the country as soon as possible. And I should like here to thank all our diplomats, our police
officers, our military, people and state actors who are continuing this effort to get people out. So, i should like also to thank all the
journalists and compatriots in Moldova who are doing such good work.
And we have participated also under NATO in order to protect the sovereignty and territory integrity of our European allies by strengthening
our bases, so several thousand French soldiers arrived yesterday in Romania. Diplomatic initiatives, sanctions against the economic and
political elite of Russia, and further sanctions will be intensified with the objective of making sure that combat ceases. But we are not in war with
We know all that links us with this great people. They were our allies in the second World War to save Europe. And we are, today, side by side with
all those Russians who are protesting that this war is not in their name, and who want to build peace both in Russia and elsewhere. It is for that
reason that the exchanges -- in my exchanges with President Zelensky, I chose as much as possible, and as much as it was necessary to remain also
in contact with President Putin.
Tirelessly, in order to give up arms. To make sure that negotiations can go ahead and to prevent contagion of this combat spreading further. The allies
are -- nations of Europe have been overwhelmed by this crisis. Our Europe is shaken, and I will come back to that later. Hundreds of thousands of
refugees from Ukraine will be welcomed on the continent of Europe, and France will play its part as well.
And I should like to thank here also towns and villages which have started mobilizing our associations who are working with refugees in the best
possible conditions. We are organizing that, and we will take care of those who come to France to be protected. France will also play its role, making
sure that their children are properly looked after who are separated from their parents, and that is in close collaboration with the associations
which are already working on the ground in Ukraine and in France.
Our cultural organization, our industries and a lot of economic outfits are going to suffer from this. Also because perhaps they were active in Russia
or Ukraine or because they export to those two countries. The price of oil, gas, and basic materials will go up. That will certainly be so, the cost of
certain products and certainly energy risks going up.
So confronted by those kind of economic and social challenges, I only have one aim, and that is to protect you. We're going to try and find new
suppliers and new outlets, and that's why I was having talks with European, American and Asiatic partners We have to make sure that we are not too
shaken by this particular crisis. And we have to draw up a resilience plan, economic and social one, in order to respond to this challenge, but let us
make no mistake.
These events will not only have immediate consequences in the upcoming weeks. They are the signal of a change in our era. War no longer is just a
question of our textbook, historical textbooks in school and so on. It is here. So, the whole of our order, our world order is challenged. And it is
really a question of our freedom and our children fighting for what we have acquired. And confronted by this tragic turning in history, we have to
respond with historic decisions.
Our country will intensify, therefore, its investment in defense which was decided in 2017 and its strategy of independence and investment in its
economy. And I think that Europe and the last couple of weeks has really unified, and has emphasized the importance of freedom and dependence. And
it must be so that countries decide for themselves what they want in order to become more independent and sovereign.
In economic terms, we can't depend on other people anymore to nourish this and to supply us. That is why we have after the pandemic tried to get a new
resilience plan for the whole of Europe. We can't depend anymore on others or on Russian gas and oil to heat our homes and so on. Because that is why
we decided on renewable energy and nuclear energy. I will make sure that there is a strategic plan for energy in Europe.
And finally, we cannot depend on others to defend us, whether it's on land, sea or air or in cyber space. In this respect, our European defense must go
to a different level, and next month, we will be having a meeting of heads of state in Versailles, a summit to discuss this. Europe has shown its
unity and determination, and has entered a new age. Compatriots, the war in Ukraine has shown up a rupture in Europe. A breaking point.
I know how worried you are about that, and perfectly legitimately. It mobilizes us. It forces us to take decisions. And this war will also have
tremendous repercussions on our democratic life and the electoral campaign, and it will open up a democratic debate which is very important for our
nation, but it is essential that we do not lose sight of the essential. And I know that I can reckon on you, your commitment to freedom, equality,
fraternity, and the place of France in the world. I should never cease to defend them and to hold that high on your behalf. Long live the republic.
Long live France.
GORANI: All right, there you have it, the French President Emmanuel Macron addressing his nation about the Russian invasion of Ukraine. He called the
war a war of choice for Vladimir Putin. He said he wouldn't stop talking to Vladimir Putin.
That he would talk to the Russian president for as long as is necessary. He alluded to that resolution at the United Nations condemning Russia and
reiterated that western nations, whether it was within the EU or NATO are united in their opposition to this war. Also mentioning the fact that
several hundred French soldiers would be traveling to Romania as part of that NATO effort to shore up allies. NATO allies.
Of course, there is that other aspect, which is that wars destabilize economies, specifically a war that involves Russia will lead the president
of France said, to potentially an increase in energy prices, and that it will have an impact on all sectors of the French economy. This just, of
course, as France enters in earnest, its pre-presidential election period where campaigning is going to take place in a much more vigorous way in
anticipation of the April election for the presidency of France.
Melissa Bell is in Paris with the very latest. Correct me if I'm wrong, he did not announce his candidacy officially here this time. He needs to do it
in the next few days.
MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Hala, he has until Friday morning, and then he has to announce it. And so far, there's been a
slightly odd period here in France where a campaign that hasn't really spoken its name has begun for several months, and really divided the
country quite profoundly. There had been speculation he might use this speech, this address to the nation to do it, but no, the Elysee had
explained beforehand that this was really all about Ukraine.
But clearly, this was also a message to the French ahead of that official announcement that we expect by Friday morning. The idea really of the
speech, Hala, of course, to explain what had happened these last few days, but really also to put forward something that he believes very strongly in.
What we've seen these last few days, he said in his speech, as Europe come together, Europe show its unity by announcing of course, the series of
sanctions coordinated with the United States and the United Kingdom standing by Ukraine.
But also the weaponry that's going to be sent to the Ukrainian army, Europe coming together. That was one of the big points he made and something that
had been achieved and something he said that needed to be continued. And of course, Hala, you and I have spoken about this in the past. This is
something very dear to Emmanuel Macron's heart. The idea that Europe should be ever more united, and there should be a defense system.
It should have its own defense. And that is something he spoke about that now needed to happen, Hala.
GORANI: Yes, and we also saw, of course, in an unprecedented move, the European Union saying it would reimburse member nations who provide defense
weaponry to Ukraine so that it can defend itself against this Russian invasion. And just domestically-speaking, this war, how is Emmanuel
Macron's leadership in this time of great crisis across Europe being received at home?
BELL: Well, I think in terms of that campaign that we talked about is -- talk about is certainly done him no harm. In fact, there are several other
candidates in this campaign who had been arguing for a much closer proximity to Moscow who find themselves really wrong-footed by everything
that's happened over the course of the last few weeks. Emmanuel Macron, of course, he's used his position as a global leader, and he did say in that
speech that he intended to continue speaking to the Russian president.
Not, of course, because he imagines that he'll convince him, but he explained because he hopes that, that way he can avoid any potential spread
of this war. So, he had a conversation with him on Monday, he said that will continue. But clearly, this was about the speech about coming down
hard on the side of the Ukrainians, speaking about how Europe had come together to do that, and really preparing the French also, Hala, for the
economic cost of what's --
GORANI: Yes --
BELL: To come. Because clearly, these sanctions that some in Europe had so much trouble falling behind, and particularly the French and German
economies expected to suffer greatly as a result. He did say to the French, listen, these are not going to be easy times, but this is also about
everything we believe in, liberty, equality, fraternity, the very foundations of the French state. And that was really the heart of his
message. Be prepared for hard times, but this is important and it is about who we are, Hala.
GORANI: Right, the cost is justified there. Defending democracy. Defending freedom. The overall message there from the French president and from his
western allies within the EU and also NATO. Thanks very much, Melissa Bell, we'll be speaking with you very soon.
Russian billionaire now -- breaking news. And this is some breaking news. The Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich has just announced he plans to
sell one of the biggest football clubs in the world, that is Chelsea Football Club. He says it's in the best interest of the club, its fans and
employees. But here's the other aspect that probably will surprise you. He also says that the sale will not be fast-tracked, but that the net proceeds
will go to a charity for all the victims of the war in Ukraine.
This is coming from Roman Abramovich. Let's bring in "WORLD SPORT's" Patrick Snell with the very latest. Well, that came in, and it was just --
jaws dropped, didn't they, when they saw that statement, Patrick?
PATRICK SNELL, CNN WORLD SPORT: Yes, Hala, you're spot on. Yes, we had an inkling hadn't we over the weekend, this past weekend, but boy, this is
happening really quickly. Fast-paced moving story, I can tell you. And let's just put into perspective the impact that Roman Abramovich has had on
Chelsea, overseeing a truly golden era at one of the biggest names in the English Premier League. In fact, more than that. Now, the reigning World
Club champions right now, having won that earlier this year, twice champions of Europe under his tenure.
And of course, five-time Premier League champion, multiple wins in the English League Cup and the FA Cup as well. The timing of it as well, I
think highly significant too, Hala, because at this hour, his beloved Chelsea and English FA Cup action away to Luton town. So, the timing of the
announcement not lost on me one little bit. But let's get to the words he used because you touched on some very significant words there in your
The 55-year-old saying in part, "the sale of the club will not be fast- tracked, but will follow due process. I will not be asking for any loans to be repaid. This has never been about business nor money for me, but about
pure passion for the game and the club. Moreover, I've instructed my team to set up a charitable foundation where all net proceeds from the sale will
be donated. The foundation will be for the benefit of all victims of the war in Ukraine.
This includes providing critical funds toward the urgent and immediate needs of victims as well as supporting the long-term work of recovery." A
really powerful and significant words there, Hala, from Chelsea's Russian billionaire owner. Abramovich also calling it incredibly difficult decision
to make. That it pains him. He used those words, that it pains him to part with the club in this manner, adding he wants to go to Stamford Bridge;
Chelsea's home ground one last time to say good-bye to everyone in person.
He called it a privilege of a life-time to be part of the club. Now, earlier in the day, we had more traction on this story, the Swiss
billionaire Hansjorg Wyss saying he wants to buy Chelsea, this in an interview with a Swiss newspaper in which he admitted his interest in
purchasing the Stamford Bridge club from Abramovich, but only as part of a consortium. The 86-year-old quoted as saying, "I can well imagine starting
at Chelsea with partners, but I have to examine the general conditions first.
But what I can already say, I'm definitely not doing something like this alone. If I buy Chelsea, then with a consortium consisting of six to seven
investors." This is a highly seismic event in the world of football, I tell you. All the ramifications, of course, we're following in every track --
every track of the way, I can assure you of that, Hala.
GORANI: And it's not just in the world of sport, obviously, sport is political, it has political ramifications, and the fact that this Russian
oligarch, this billionaire is selling a club and using its proceeds to help victims of the Ukraine war. Nic Robertson, you're live in Moscow. This is
very significant, not just that he's selling the club, which in itself is probably more of a self-contained sports story, but that he's announcing
that the foundation that will be set up will benefit all of the victims of the war in Ukraine, and this includes as Patrick was mentioning there,
providing critical funds towards the urgent and immediate needs of victims as long as -- as well as supporting the long-term work of recovery.
This is from someone who was seen as close to Vladimir Putin who unleashed this war of choice on Ukraine. Nic, what should we make of it?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, it will be very interesting to see what kind of relationship the pair of them would have
going forward after this. Because in essence, this is a repudiation of what President Putin has done. It is all about one man and one man's decision,
and this decision by Abramovich is clearly going to ricochet back at President Putin.
And I think because it's a sports story, and because it's such a major sports story, this is the sort of headline that's going to punch through
the state media narrative here in Russia that is impervious to the suffering and the needs of the people of Ukraine and speaks only of the
government narrative of the need to ensure their security. So when oligarchs are sanctioned and they're around Putin here, it has limited
We've heard from the Kremlin already, essentially telling these oligarchs, you've got to take it on the chin. Be patriotic. Do this for the country.
It's about the country. But when an oligarch like Abramovich sells something as utterly prestigious that he's invested so much in, and that
the world and Russians are very aware of, and we've had other sports stars as well come out and make their positions clear, leading tennis stars and
others who have come out and made their positions about the war very clear.
This is hard -- a hard narrative to Putin -- for Putin to shelter himself from, particularly as you say, that these people were seen as --
particularly in Abramovich's case, close to him. There will be those, of course, that will say Abramovich, you know, for all those money-ed years
alongside Putin and the way that Putin, you know, used oligarchs to create his power and put himself in this position and invaded Ukraine eight years
ago and annexed Crimea eight years ago, that Abramovich is only doing this now and he's sort of washing his hands, if you will, in the money, giving
it to Ukraine as a sign of repentance or a sign of -- a sign of his anger at what President Putin --
GORANI: Yes --
ROBERTSON: Has done. There will be those of course, who say why didn't you do this before? You could have done this before. But it does highlight the
extreme situation that Putin finds himself in. And the way that people here have been forced to make decisions about President Putin. I spoke to
somebody earlier on here today --
GORANI: Right --
ROBERTSON: Who had trusted with baited breath what President Putin had said to now other leaders here, and now feels incredibly let down. He's not
an oligarch. He doesn't make a lot of money, but he's one of a lot of people here who are feeling that way. So people are being put on a position
where they're making real choices, and understanding about their leader. And this is one of those.
GORANI: All right, thank you, Nic Robertson in Moscow, Patrick Snell in Atlanta. Let's move on to the situation on the ground. We'll have more in
our breaking news in a moment. But Ukraine's resistance has denied Russia a fast victory as we've been reporting over the last week. But now the
invasion seems to be entering a new phase. CNN teams on the ground in Odessa have been hearing air raid sirens, and just a short time ago, there
was a large explosion heard in Kyiv.
CNN's Nick Paton Walsh joins me live, he is in Odessa where Ukrainians are preparing for the worst. What are you seeing, what are you hearing, Nick?
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: Yes, Hala, about two minutes ago, the air raid sirens over this huge port city stopped. But they
were punctuated by what sounded like the occasional crack of gunfire, perhaps nervous soldiers in the city's center and one or two booms in the
distance. This place so severely on edge. It's very hard to work out whether this is the beginning of what many people have been fearing here.
We haven't heard sirens about length and dark since we've been here. And certainly, Ukraine defense officials have talked about Russian ships being
off the coast, and images have been circulating among nervous locals here of ships on the horizon. So deep concerns that something -- the amphibious
landing, western officials have been warning of, for example, may be imminent here, and that would explain the intense barricading of parts to
city center and the military presence we see in --
GORANI: Nick --
WALSH: So many places in this town --
GORANI: If I can -- if I could just have you stand by -- if I could just have you stand by, we're going to go to the U.S. Secretary of State Antony
Blinken, he's giving a briefing and then we'll get back to you. Let's listen in.
ANTONY BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE, UNITED STATES: They're destroying critical infrastructure which supplies millions of people across Ukraine
with drinking water, with electricity, with gas to keep from freezing to death. Buses, cars, ambulances, being shelled. Yesterday, Russian strikes
in Kyiv struck the capital's main television and radio tower, and destroyed part of the Babi Yar Holocaust Memorial.
Apartment buildings outside of Kyiv were hit, partially collapsed. A huge explosion occurred in the main square of Kharkiv; Ukraine's second largest
city. These aren't military targets. They are places where civilians work and families live. Kharkiv is one of the largest Russian-speaking cities in
Europe. It's fewer than 50 miles from Belgorod, its sister city in Russia. And Belgorod is where the missiles against Kharkiv were likely fired.
President Putin among the many false justifications he's given for invading Ukraine has cited the need to protect against an imaginary threat to
Russian ethnic and Russian-speaking people. How is assaulting and bombing the population of Kharkiv -- again, one of the largest Russian-speaking
cities in Europe, advancing that purported goal? As President Zelensky said after the assault, there was never a border between Kharkiv and its Russian
Two cities are joined in the hearts of Ukrainian and Russian people living on either side. Among the great damage we see from war, we're seeing that
in Kharkiv. We've also seen that the International Court of Justice has announced that it will hold hearings on Russia's actions.
Already, the human costs of the Kremlin's unwarranted, unprovoked and unjustified war on Ukraine are staggering.
Hundreds, if not thousands, of civilians have been killed and wounded.
There are now more than 874,000 refugees who have sought safety in nearby countries.
Millions of Ukrainians still in Ukraine are sheltering wherever they can -- including children receiving cancer treatment who are now living in the
basements of Ukraine's children's hospitals, with doctors and nurses doing their best to care for them as explosions boom overhead.
This is shameful.
The numbers of civilians killed and wounded, the humanitarian consequences, will only grow in the days ahead.
In the face of this violence, the courage of the Ukrainian people is inspiring the world.
As President Biden said in his State of the Union address last night, the response to Russia's war has been unity -- unity among world leaders, unity
in Europe, unity among people gathering around the world to protest President Putin's war of choice, including thousands of people in Russia
and Belarus coming out to protest peacefully even though they know what they risk in so doing.
Because the Biden administration dedicated its first year to repairing and rebuilding our alliances and partnerships in Europe and around the world
and because we spent the better part of the past several months raising alarms about looming Russian aggression, declassifying and sharing our
intelligence nearly in real time and relentlessly exposing President Putin's lies, we were ready.
In fact, one reason why we're seeing the unified response now is because we made the decision late last year to publicize to the world what we knew was
underway and the playbook we were convinced Russia would follow.
I went to the U.N. Security Council two weeks ago to walk through, step by step, the pretexts for war that we were sure President Putin would invent
and the subsequent military invasion that he'd planned to order.
And that's precisely what he did -- while Russian officials continued to deny it right until the invasion began.
Seeing that duplicity and premeditated aggression play out exactly as we predicted has generated outrage and solidarity across Europe and around the
And that's turned into unprecedented action.
We said that if the Kremlin ordered an invasion, we would help Ukraine defend itself while imposing costs on Russia.
Last week, the President approved $350 million in military assistance to Ukraine to help with the armored, airborne and other significant threats it
That brings our total security assistance to Ukraine in the past year to more than $1 billion -- more than in any previous year.
Over the past several days, I authorized the expedited transfer of U.S.- origin defensive equipment from allies to Ukraine and we are coordinating efforts to get this equipment -- including anti-tank and anti-aircraft
weaponry, as well as small arms and munitions -- into the hands of Ukrainian fighters, who are defending their country with skill and
We're sending humanitarian assistance to the people of Ukraine as well.
Three days ago, we announced nearly $54 million in additional support, on top of the more than $300 million we've provided in recent years.
USAID has deployed a disaster assistance response team, our top international emergency responders, to lead the U.S. humanitarian response
in coordination with European allies, partners and international organizations.
And USAID director Samantha Power was, as you know, just in Poland along the border with Ukraine a few days ago, along with other senior officials
from the State Department.
And we're working to support the front line countries -- including Poland, Moldova, Romania, Hungary and Slovakia -- that have welcomed hundreds of
thousands of refugees, including many children, elderly people, people with disabilities, all of whom are fleeing Ukraine to escape Russia's violence
and facing harrowing journeys to reach safety.
We and our allies and partners will work to keep people safe, manage the flow of refugees, keep border crossings open and provide critical supplies.
At the same time, we're holding Russia accountable, including Russia's economy.
Back on December 1st, I said that Russia would face massive consequences for attacking Ukraine, including severe and lasting economic costs.
The United States and more than 30 allies and partners, representing more than half the world's economy, have made good on that commitment with
powerful sanctions and export controls on Russia, including additional actions just today.
We've now sanctioned most of Russia's largest financial institutions and its sovereign wealth fund.
The European Union removed key sanctioned Russian banks from the SWIFT international payments network.
We've restricted Russia's ability to seek funding beyond its borders.
Thirteen of the most critical Russian state-owned enterprises, including Gazprom, are now extremely limited in raising money through the U.S.
We've imposed sanctions on individuals, including President Putin, other members of Russia's security council and elites and their family members.
And we and our allies and partners are launching a task force to identify, track down and freeze the assets of sanctioned Russian companies and
We will freeze and seize their yachts, their private jets, their opulent estates in world capitals.
Today, we're also imposing sweeping sanctions on Russia's defense sector.
In total, 22 Russian defense-related entities will be designated, including companies that make combat aircraft, infantry fighting vehicles, missiles,
unmanned aerial vehicles, electronic warfare systems -- the very systems now being used to assault the Ukrainian people, abuse human rights, violate
international humanitarian law.
We're also imposing export controls on Belarus to hold the Lukashenko regime accountable for being a co-belligerent in President Putin's war of
We will choke off Belarus' ability to import key technologies.
And if Lukashenko's support for the war continues, the consequences for his regime will escalate.
All told, these sanctions and restrictions have had a powerful effect on Russia's economy.
The value of the ruble has plummeted; the Russian stock market closed at -- as fear of capital flight rose; interest rates more than doubled; Russia's
credit rating has been cut to junk status.
The value of President Putin's "war fund" has vanished.
And by choking Russia's access to technology, we're delivering a blow to its economy and military that will be felt not just now but for years to
President Putin may have assumed that the United States and our allies were bluffing when we warned of massive, unprecedented consequences.
But -- as President Biden likes to say -- big nations can't bluff.
The United States doesn't bluff.
And President Putin has gravely miscalculated.
As President Biden made clear last night, this is President Putin's war.
This isn't the Russian people's war.
It's becoming clearer by the day that the Russian people oppose it.
Members of the Russian military oppose it and had no idea what they were being sent to do.
And now the Russian people will suffer the consequences of their leaders' choices.
So my message to the people of Russia -- if they're even able to hear it, as the Kremlin cracks down even harder on media outlets reporting the truth
-- my message is that we know many of you want no part of this war.
You, like Ukrainians, like Americans, like people everywhere, want the same basic things -- good jobs, clean air and water, the chance to raise your
kids in safe neighborhoods, to send them to good schools, to give them better lives than you had.
How in the world does President Putin's unprovoked aggression against Ukraine help you achieve any of these things?
How is it going to make your lives better?
The economic costs that we've been forced to impose on Russia are not aimed at you -- they are aimed at compelling your government to stop its actions,
to stop its aggression.
And just as millions of us around the world stand together against Moscow's aggression, we also stand together with you as you demand that your leaders
end this war.
If President Putin wants to demonstrate leadership, he should allow Russian soldiers to go home to their families.
Finally, the United States is continuing our diplomatic efforts.
We're keeping the door open to a diplomatic way forward.
That's going to be very hard to happen without military de-escalation. It's much more difficult for diplomacy to succeed when guns are firing, tanks
are rolling, planes are flying. But if Russia pulls back and pursues diplomacy, we stand ready to do the same thing.
Meanwhile, our intensive diplomacy with allies and partners continues. I've been in virtually daily contact with my friend and counterpart, Ukraine's
Foreign Minister Kuleba and I've made clear that we'll support any diplomatic efforts by the Ukrainian Government to reach a ceasefire and
withdrawal of Russian forces.
If there are diplomatic steps that we can take that the Ukrainian Government believes would be helpful, we're prepared to take them -- even
as we continue to support Ukraine's ability to defend itself.
Tomorrow, I'll travel to Brussels, where I'll meet with our NATO, European Union and G7 allies and partners to continue our coordination; to commend
them on the unprecedented steps that they've taken to support Ukraine and hold Russia to account; and to reaffirm our Article 5 commitment that an
attack on any NATO member is an attack on all.
From there, I'll travel to Poland, which is already hosting hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian refugees, with tens of thousands arriving by the
day; and then to Moldova, which is also hosting Ukrainian refugees and where Russian troops have been occupying territory against the will of the
people for years.
And then I'll go on to the Baltic countries -- to Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia -- which are facing a renewed threat from Russia themselves, as
President Putin seeks to reassert Russia's dominance over former Soviet republics.
Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia are our NATO allies and as President Biden has said, we will defend every inch of NATO territory against any
aggression from Russia or otherwise.
Finally, I want to note the consequential and historic vote that just took place in the United Nations: 141 member states voted in favor of a
resolution reaffirming Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity and condemning Russia's invasion of another member state.
As this vote revealed, the overwhelming majority of the international community stands in strong support of the core principles of the United
Nations and upholding the U.N. Charter -- and stands against Russia's reckless attempts to change the borders of another sovereign country by
force, to replace its will for the will of the Ukrainian people.
As 141 member states of the United Nations know, more is at stake, even, than the conflict in Ukraine itself and the freedom and security of Ukraine
and its people. This is a threat to stability in Europe and to the entire rules-based order, which has been the foundation of security and prosperity
for people around the world for nearly 80 years.
In this time of uncertainty, we have a clear way forward: help Ukraine defend itself, support the Ukrainian people, hold Russia accountable and
persist with diplomacy.
President Putin is more isolated from the world than ever before. As President Biden predicted last night, when the history of this era is
written, Russia's war on Ukraine will have left Russia weaker and the rest of the world stronger. And in the days ahead, we will continue to draw
inspiration from the iron will of the Ukrainian people.
With that, happy to take some questions.
QUESTION: Hello, Mr. Secretary. Thanks for being here. I just want to ask you, what is the U.S. assessment on Putin's state of mind?
You said that he's more isolated than before. Do you worry that this isolation might prompt him to lash out and do something even more dramatic
than we've so far seen on the ground?
And I also want to ask you: I'm sure you've seen that there are Americans who have expressed their desire to go and join the fight in Ukraine. What
is your message to them?
BLINKEN: Thanks. I can't put myself in President Putin's mind or state of mind. All that we can focus on are the actions that he's taking and our
response to those actions. I've said before, one of the Achilles' heels of autocracies is the inability to speak truth to power.
I don't know who said what to President Putin before he launched this aggression. I don't know who's saying what to him now. But again, all of
that is speculation. We can't put ourselves in his mindset.
All we can do is what we're doing, which is to be very clear in how we'll respond to the actions that he takes; to continue to work in unity with
allies and partners in support of Ukraine, in defense of Ukraine; to help its people; to help those who have been forced to flee; and if there are
any diplomatic opportunities to pursue, to pursue those.
But we're focused less on what President Putin thinks or may think and more on what he does.
And with regard to the second part of your question, look, we've been very clear for some time, of course, in calling on Americans who may be -- may
have been resident in Ukraine to leave and making clear to Americans who may be thinking of traveling there not to go.
For those who want to help Ukraine and help its people, there are many ways to do that, including by supporting and helping the many NGOs that are
working to provide humanitarian assistance; providing resources themselves to groups that are trying to help Ukraine by being advocates for Ukraine
and for peaceful resolution to this crisis that was created by Russia.
Those are the most effective ways that people who want to help can do so.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, you just quoted the President as saying big nations don't bluff. Do you think that President Putin is bluffing by
putting his nuclear forces on alert?
And I have another question, if you don't mind.
Are you surprised that we have not seen more -- we've seen some denial of services but are you surprised that we have not seen a more massive cyber
attack against Ukraine or against other of the NATO nations or against us?
Do you think that the legislation that just passed improves our ability to defend against such attacks?
And if I could impose on you one more question. I talked today to Daria Kaleniuk, who was part of the President and your democracy summit this year
and you know how passionate she is.
Perhaps you saw her questioning. And she says that despite everything that has been done and I would -- I would say it's an extraordinary amount of
coordination and agreement with the allies, it's not going to get there in time. That convoy is sitting outside Kyiv and poised to encircle Kyiv and
they're not going to get those supplies.
What more can be done to help those people?
BLINKEN: Andrea, thank you. Let me take them in not quite reverse order. First, just on the cyber piece, two things.
First, yes, the legislation that you referred is extremely helpful. But beyond that and before that, we have been very focused on the potential for
cyber attacks not only against Ukraine but against us, against allies and partners.
We've been working for months first with Ukraine and also among ourselves to harden, to sharpen defenses. All of that work is very much underway,
including with the private sector. And so I think we have to be very much on guard about that possibility. We are.
With regard to assistance to Ukraine, here's what I can -- here's what I can tell you. We are very actively working every day, every hour, to
provide that assistance and to make sure that, to the best of our ability, it gets to where it needs to go. And this is not just us; this is many
countries in Europe.
We're coordinating a lot of efforts to do that. And my own assessment right now is that the vitally needed assistance is getting to where it needs to
With regard to President Putin's statements on Russia's nuclear posture, first, as you know, Russia and the United States have long agreed that the
actual use of nuclear weapons would be devastating and have devastating consequences for the entire world.
And as we've stated many times, including earlier this year following the meeting between President Biden and President Putin in Geneva, both of our
countries have stated that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.
That was a key reaffirmation coming out of the meeting between President Biden and President Putin back in June.
Provocative rhetoric about nuclear weapons is the height of irresponsibility. It's dangerous. It adds to the risk of miscalculation. It
needs to be avoided. We've assessed President Putin's directive and his statements and at this time we see no reason to change our own alert
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, thank you. You mentioned the vote in the UN, which was by -- it was overwhelming, as you said. And the countries that
voted against, the five countries who voted against, no surprise: Belarus, Eritrea, North Korea, Syria and Russia.
But I'm wondering if you have any thoughts about the abstentions, particularly from Latin America: Cuba, Nicaragua, Venezuela, who stayed
out. These are countries that are no stranger to larger powers, who might - - shall go unnamed -- getting involved in their internal politics. And I'm wondering if that says anything to you.
And then, secondly, on the prospects for diplomacy with Russia, which you said you're --
GORANI: All right. Secretary Blinken there, briefing reporters at the State Department in Washington. He said he would travel to Brussels to talk
to NATO allies and then on to Poland, the Baltic states and Moldova later this week.
He talked about the United States joining its European allies in freezing and in some cases seizing the assets of sanctioned Russian individuals and
also said that if Vladimir Putin did not back down and continued forward with this invasion, that sanctions, more sanctions could be coming Russia's
way and that there could be sanctions, as well, levied on Belarus.
And this, of course, comes after some of these very historically severe sanctions, such as removing some Russian banks from the SWIFT messaging
system and also sanctions against the Russian central bank.
The headline, as well one of the headlines is that Blinken said, the door to diplomacy is not closed but, of course, it would require a military
deescalation. We're going to leave that briefing. We'll continue to monitor it for you, though, and I want to bring you this.
Life inside Ukraine's major cities has become a harrowing struggle to survive and to fight back. Olha Bogdan is a 30-year-old accountant in Kyiv,
among those witnessing and resisting the Russian assault and is joining me now via Skype.
We hear a lot from the politicians. It's important that we hear from the people suffering on the front lines and in the midst of this terrible war.
Tell me what life is like for you right now.
OLHA BOGDAN, KYIV ACCOUNTANT: Life is like -- I don't know. It's waiting. Waiting, I'm always waiting for something. I'm always waiting for an alarm
to end, alarm to start, because, when it ends, I know then we'll be next.
I'm always waiting if my mother will call me and what she will tell, because she's in the city, which is surrounded by Russian troops. And
yesterday she had -- yesterday she had a birthday. She was -- and she called me and she tried to joke. She tried to joke.
She told me that -- she told me that never ever in her life anyone celebrated her birthday with such many fireworks as yesterday.
BOGDAN: She is a very great (ph) woman. She supports us very much.
GORANI: And I was going to say, this type of humor, I guess helps people get through tough times.
BOGDAN: -- type of humor these times.
GORANI: Yes. But what -- I mean, you talk about having missed your mom's birthday. She's in a bunker. You're in Kyiv. You're hearing air raid sirens
all the time. You're not able to sleep. You're losing weight. I mean, this must be absolutely hellish for you.
BOGDAN: You know, the person can adapt to anything. You see how I look. Like I'm 30 and I'm an accountant. I had maybe a mental breakdown. But
frankly, I adapted. The help of -- the help for military, the help for other people, the help for our territorial defense helps us very much, like
We are busy. We cannot just sit and be afraid, because, if we will be just afraid, if we will be passive, they will win. We will not want that.
GORANI: And so you've gone from living a normal life in the Ukrainian capital -- you were an accountant -- to just living a much smaller life in
an apartment and then to the bunker and then to the apartment and then to the bunker.
How is your -- how are you able to stay at least a little bit positive?
I mean, how is this affecting your mental health and those of your family and your friends?
I imagine you're in touch with them all the time over your phone.
BOGDAN: Yes. Yes. Yes. Every day. Every day we call each other and you know, frankly, I was laughing. I was laughing at my grandmother, who lived
through the tough times. She always kept some food. She always kept some stuff.
And we were laughing, like why are you keeping?
We can always buy something. And now, when the tough time came, when the tough time came, she was absolutely right. We should keep something. We
never know what happens. We never know what happens.
The food, the fruits and vegetables, which are imported, like through the winter, they are all rotten. We cannot buy anything, like the milk, the
food. But frankly, that doesn't matter. That doesn't matter. I don't think that the food and stuff is very interesting.
The more interesting, that we are struggling and not struggling, I mean, in a way, like, I'm overcome in my mental problems or something. Right now we
are having -- we are having many volunteers. Our -- we have more hands to do work than the work itself.
My friend, he is very sad, because he wanted to help something. He went to the territorial; they don't need anyone. They have a long list of people
who help. He went to the hospitals. He went; everyone are working. Everyone are standing for themselves. Nobody is sitting.
GORANI: Olha, I just wanted to bring our viewers news. I'm sure you heard this big bang in Kyiv, just about an hour ago in Kyiv. I'll tell our
viewers what that is. And I want to thank you as well for joining us. And we really wish you the best, Olha. Our hearts are with you and all the
people who are suffering through this invasion. Thank you again.
And we were discussing with Olha this loud bang that happened. We just received word from the Ukrainian interior ministry a major heating pipeline
in Kyiv was damaged by a missile strike that happened this evening. The strike was near the city's central railway station and the target of the
strike was not clear.
CNN's team on the ground said the blast could be heard across the city. We'll bring you more details on that as we get them, of course.
And thanks for watching tonight. We return you to Antony Blinken at the State Department.
BLINKEN: -- absolutely brutal in trying to cow the citizenry of a given country and that includes, at the very least, indiscriminate targeting and
potentially deliberate targeting as well.
We're looking very closely at what's happening in Ukraine right now, including what's happening to civilians. We're taking account of it. We're
documenting it. And we want to ensure, among other things, that there's accountability for it. Thank you.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: You're listening to secretary of state Antony Blinken. While he was speaking, two major developments from Ukraine during
that press conference to tell you about.
A major heating pipeline in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv was damaged as a result of a missile strike. The target of the strike was not clear, whether
it was intentional. But there's significant damage there.
And a school in Kharkiv, Ukraine's second largest city, is the latest site of Russian military strikes, which Secretary Blinken was just speaking to
at the end, talking about the brutality of Vladimir Putin's methods, indiscriminate attacks and in places that they are fighting.
I want to bring in former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, William Taylor; CNN's Natasha Bertrand is outside the European Union headquarters in Brussels and
CNN's Nic Robertson is in Moscow.
Ambassador Taylor, let me start with you. I'm wondering what stood out to you from Secretary Blinken's remarks.