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Hala Gorani Tonight

Russian Missile Strike Hits A Hospital In Mariupol, Wounding 17; Some Civilians In Ukraine Evacuated Through Safe Corridors; U.S. Calls Poland Fighter Jet Offer "Untenable;" Refugee Crisis Grows As 2 Million Flee Ukraine; Thousands Flock To Lviv Amid Calls For Global Aid; Experts Fear Global Economy Will Face Major Energy Shock; IAEA States "No Critical Impact" To Safety At Chernobyl After Russians Cut Power; Ukrainian And Russian Foreign Ministers To Meet Thursday. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired March 09, 2022 - 14:00   ET



ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.

HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Hello, everybody, I'm Hala Gorani, we're coming to you live from CNN in London. This hour, we are expecting a

news briefing from the Pentagon in Washington. We'll bring you that live when it happens. In the meantime, let's get straight to the latest.

Apartment buildings destroyed. Evacuation routes shelled. And now, a strike that has hit a children's and maternity hospital.

Ukrainian leaders are asking today what more will it take for the world to protect the skies from Russian attacks? Officials say 17 people were

wounded at the hospital in Mariupol including, they tell us, women in labor. You can see the aftermath here on your screen. And you can imagine

how powerful the blast was just by looking at this crater. And we're now learning there was another attack in the city around the same time on a

university and city council building.

These would be, obviously, civilian targets. Russia had pledged to hold fire today to let civilians escape, but listen to what Mariupol's deputy

mayor told CNN.


MAYOR SERGEI ORLOV, MARIUPOL, UKRAINE: There is no ceasefire. Any ceasefire in Mariupol. Mariupol is under continuous shelling from their

artillery and bombing. Each hour, each minute, each second.


GORANI: Well, he also tells CNN, some 1,300 civilians have been killed in Mariupol since the invasion began. The International Red Cross is warning

that hundreds of thousands of people in Ukraine are trapped by fighting with no food, no water, and no heat. The President of Ukraine, Volodymyr

Zelenskyy is again calling on NATO to impose a no fly zone, saying, quote, "you have power, but you seem to be losing humanity", unquote.

A Ukrainian official says while there were problems evacuating civilians around Mariupol, Kharkiv and Kyiv today, some 40,000 people did make it

eventually to safer ground using humanitarian corridors. CNN's Matthew Chance filed this report from an evacuation route northwest of the capital.

Take a look.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Where you can see, there are thousands of people now in their own cars, streaming out

through these safe corridors that have been set up by the Russians and the Ukrainians, to give these people a chance to escape the ferocious

bombardment that they've been suffering. Some of the cars have got children written on them. There's one over here with the word "getty" written on


They're all filled with their own children, other people's children of neighbors as they've taken with them. Just anything they can do to get them

out into the relative safety of Kyiv onward, you know, towards the west. Many of them heading towards Poland to the west of Ukraine. You can see

here as well, there's been some effort set up as a sort of reception for the people, because a lot of the people we've spoken to inside these cars

say that they've spent days without any proper food, without any water, without any light.

It's been really difficult for them. And so, you know, even though this isn't perfect, it is at least a chance for these people to -- but to save

their own lives. Matthew Chance, CNN, on the outskirts of Kyiv.


GORANI: The reality of the war on the ground. Civilians there, hungry, eating what's given to them on the side of the road as they flee in terror.

The Ukrainian President Zelenskyy's urgent request for fighter planes to stop Russian bombing has so far gone unheeded, but it has led to an awkward

incident between the United States and Poland. Now, the White House says Poland blind-sided the U.S. with an offer to transfer its entire fleet of

used MIG 29 fighter jets to an American base in Germany.

The idea was that they would then go on to Ukraine. The Pentagon almost immediately called the plan untenable. The American Vice President Kamala

Harris is heading to Poland today on a previously scheduled trip. And the surprise offer to give these planes to Ukraine and other ideas about how to

get the jets to the country in the first place will, no doubt, be one of the main topics of conversation.

Now, at the same time, the Pentagon is moving to further beef up NATO's defenses in eastern Europe.


CNN's Barbara Starr is at the Pentagon for us. So, this was an idea from Poland to position these MIG fighter jets at the Ramstein Air Base in

Germany, which is an American base, and for them, somehow for these fighter jets -- fighter jets to then be given to the Ukrainian military and for

their pilots to fly. But the U.S., I guess, thought this was just too risky a proposition.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think for several reasons, Hala. I mean, one, they would be flying into contested air space,

and that would be a problem for the security of the pilots and the planes. But even if Ukraine perfectly willing to take that risk to get those

airplanes, the political part of this is -- logistics part of this is becoming very difficult. You know, Putin has made clear that any supply of

these kinds of weapons systems from a NATO country, from the U.S., he might view in his -- in his mind as a provocation.

And the U.S. is trying to do everything it can not to ratchet up the tensions. So flying these aircraft out of a U.S. military base inside NATO

into Ukraine to fight against the Russians, something that the Pentagon just doesn't see as tenable at this point. Discussions still going on to

see if they can find a way around it. Not at all clear really what will come of all of this.

GORANI: And what is the United States willing to provide, to give Ukraine in order to best defend itself against the Russian invasion? But also this

aerial bombardment campaign that has been very deadly to civilians and that has created a mass refugee problem.

STARR: Well, look, the Biden administration has not changed its view. It's adamant, first and foremost, U.S. pilots, U.S. troops will not become

directly involved in this conflict. That said, the U.S. along with several allies have been regularly providing as we have discussed, anti-air and

anti-tank weapons through western Ukraine where they can still get them out of Poland and get them into Ukraine, western Ukraine being relatively safe.

A lot of concern though, supply routes may not be safe for much longer as the Russians advance. So, that is one thing, and we are told today the U.S.

and its allies looking for other ways they can help provide air defense and other equipment. Most likely, you know, it has to be equipment that Ukraine

forces can readily use. So some of it may be Soviet-era Russian equipment that is in the hands of east European allies.

GORANI: All right, thanks so much, Barbara Starr at the Pentagon. Let's talk more about Poland's position. Marcin Przydacz with us now from Warsaw.

He's the deputy foreign minister of Poland. Foreign Minister, thanks for being with us. But what happened exactly --


GORANI: With this offer to send your used MIG 29 jets to Germany for them eventually to end up in Ukrainian hands. Was there some sort of


PRZYDACZ: No, everything is perfectly fine. We've been discussing it with our allies. Poland is a responsible partner and a responsible NATO ally. So

such a decision should be first discussed at the NATO level, and especially with the U.S. government with the President Biden administration And that

it was discussed between President Duda and President Biden. Later on, the Secretary of State Blinken paid a visit to Poland.

We discussed it, how to do that? We are ready as Poland to offer, but not unilaterally. It should be done in a kind of united decision of allies.

That's why our offer is to deploy those MIG-29 to the Ramstein base -- air base in Germany, and then it could be of course, offered to our Ukrainian


GORANI: But the U.S. said this is untenable. I mean, presumably, the concern from the U.S. side and other NATO allies is that it would mean

really just introducing kind of the possibility and the conflict that Russia will see this as a direct confrontation with a NATO member. Your

country is a NATO member. Do you share that concern?

PRZYDACZ: Well, but I've heard a couple of days ago, the Secretary Blinken saying that we have a green light as Poland to give it individually to the

Ukraine. Is it less risky to do it from the Polish airport to the Ukrainians than from the Ramstein Air Base to the Ukrainian airport. I

wouldn't say -- I mean, it's just the same level of risk. The difference is that our proposal is that we could do it in a more united or you know, by

jointly -- joint decision of NATO allies together, at least Poland and the U.S. rather than unilaterally.


But that would be the topic of our -- you know, tomorrow's discussion --

GORANI: Right --

PRZYDACZ: With the Vice President Kamala Harris is paying a visit to Warsaw tomorrow. The entire day, we'll be discussing it and hopefully we'll

find a solution how to deal with that.

GORANI: All right, so that's still on the table and you're going to be discussing that with her. Let me ask you about the no-fly zone idea,

because there is some pretty prominent politicians in the United States, though Joe Biden has been very clear and other NATO leaders have been very

clear, they do not want to engage in talks about a no-fly zone because it would require obviously offensive moves by taking out air defense systems

of Russia, and potentially, direct confrontations with Russian aircraft.

But here's an example. A Democratic representative from Illinois had this to say. I want you to listen and then I'll get your take on the other end.


REP. MIKE QUIGLEY (D-IL): I can't -- I can't stomach quibbling and drawing lines. When Putin has already said that the sanctions are war, right? We're

delivering lethal aid. Do we honestly think Putin is going to draw a distinction between the javelins and stingers that are coming across,

killing Russians very effectively from jets protecting the skies above?


GORANI: So what do you think? No-fly zone? Zelenskyy desperately wants it.

PRZYDACZ: Well, you know, Poland is somehow paying our share. We are doing our job. We are providing our Ukrainian neighbors with the humanitarian

aid. We are somehow at base -- logistical base with all the kind of support. So being a frontline, we need to be aware of all those risks, and

we need to be aware that we should be the -- you know, responsible ally among NATO.


PRZYDACZ: So that should be also the decision of all NATO allies, whether we want to be engaged somehow, because no-fly zone, though would definitely

somehow put us in a situation that we should be engaged in this conflict.

GORANI: So, it doesn't sound like you support the idea --

PRZYDACZ: We are ready to discuss it, but they should be discussed at the NATO level --

GORANI: But do you -- does Poland support the idea? I realize it's a NATO decision. Does Poland support the idea?

PRZYDACZ: It's very -- it is very risky at this -- at this very moment. We should concentrate rather on providing other equipments. If the other

allies, the biggest allies, NATO members will change this position, that would be another discussion. At this very moment, it's off the table. I

mean, the U.S., other allies, Germany, France, U.K. are not ready to even discuss it. So --

GORANI: Yes --

PRZYDACZ: There's -- you know, the further discussion is pointless.

GORANI: Is there a glimmer of hope, do you think, for diplomacy? We have a Lavrov-Kuleba meeting in Turkey tomorrow. We're hearing sort of through

reports, obviously, not official statements being issued, but through reports that perhaps there could be room for some negotiation and trying to

end the fighting. This is obviously the very optimistic take that I'm giving you, clearly. But do you think --


GORANI: That there is a light here at the end of this very long and dark tunnel from your -- from where you're sitting?

PRZYDACZ: Well, being a politician and diplomat, I'm always in favor of diplomacy. But to be honest, I can hardly see any light when it comes to

the Russian position. They're still bombing civilian infrastructure in Ukraine. Minister Kuleba, the foreign minister of Ukraine just said today

that he has no expectations toward Lavrov. Of course, they need to talk, but it seems that Russia at this very moment is not ready to take off --

GORANI: You don't --

PRZYDACZ: To take out all those troops from Ukraine.

GORANI: You don't think Russia realizes that it's a bit on the back foot here? It thought it would storm into Kyiv in a few days. It's taken big

losses. Its tanks are getting destroyed. Its helicopter are getting shot out of the sky. Is there the possibility that Russia realizes, in your

estimation, that it can't sustain this for much longer? This is costing it a lot in money and in men.

PRZYDACZ: For sure. There is -- there's a huge chance that they will change their position. I mean, Moscow, we just need to continue our policy.

We just need to continue the sanction policy. We just need to continue supporting Ukraine and exerting pressure on Moscow, but also on the Russian

society. Russia is not only Mr. Putin and Mr. Lavrov or Mr. Shoigu. There are a lot of people which may change the situation internally in Russia.

So, I do hope that from the ashes of this war, we can have also better neighborhoods next to our borders.


Ukraine is already democratic state. I hope that Russians will get also one day democratic state, but definitely without those KGB officers in the --

at the Kremlin.

GORANI: All right, the Polish deputy Foreign Minister Marcin Przydacz, thank you very much for joining us on CNN. And of course, we'll be

following those talks between Sergey Lavrov and his Ukrainian counterpart, which will be taking place in Turkey tomorrow. Let's get more now on that

strike that hit a children's and maternity hospital today in Mariupol. Our Sam Kiley is following developments from Zaporizhzhia. Talk to us about

what we saw, because it's reminiscent of some of those bombings of civilian targets we saw in countries like Syria.

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, very reminiscent indeed. Hala, you and I have covered the atrocities in Syria in the past,

particularly conducted by Russian pilots. And now we've got proof positive yet again and is more than a dozen of medical facilities across the country

that have been hit. But this is the most spectacular and obvious, and most deliberate strike with a very large bomb in the grounds of maternity

hospital number three, Mariupol, leaving a crater -- vast crater capable of effectively swallowing an adult man.

Video shown of that strike shows a man actually walking into it and almost disappearing in a sort of Lilliput sense. Inside the hospital, of course,

scenes of absolute devastation, building torn apart. A huge amount of burn damage to the hospital, and, of course, outside devastation. Now, what's

bizarre at the moment about this strike, and this is only preliminary figures, Hala, is that according to the authorities, 17 people were


So, no details yet of any dead. That may be because there were in most cases, women and children already in bunkers, even pregnant women. But the

video that we've seen, no doubt we're showing with some warnings for our viewers, there are pregnant women, or at least one pregnant woman being

seen taken away from that location after this air strike. Now, earlier on in the day, the mayor of the city said that this was the fifth day in a row

that they had appealed for the international community to help them organize an evacuation out of that city.

It's about 500,000 people. At least, 200,000 according to the mayor, deputy mayor, trying to get out. And no signs at all that the Russians are going

to cooperate except for in the previous two days, a somewhat cynical offer in the view of the Ukrainians to evacuate into Russian-held territory.

Something that nobody in that town would trust the Russians to do. So, a really devastating moment on top of the disappointment of constant --

GORANI: Yes --

KILEY: Thwarting of these evacuations. Hala.

GORANI: And I -- where are you exactly? Because I'm seeing it's quite busy behind you. I was just curious.

KILEY: Yes -- no, I mean, you know, behind me is rather extraordinary sight. They're -- down here, Hala, there are some refugees being

registered. They've just come out of Anogoder(ph) where outside, they've arrived in about 8 to 15, I think buses. A lot of them have been moved on

already to accommodation elsewhere. We're actually in a shopping mall on the outskirts of Zaporizhzhia.

They came, these refugees out of town living under the shadow of a nuclear power station. Remember, that a week ago, a nuclear power station was

captured by Russian troops in the first combat operation against the nuclear power station ever in history. The International Atomic Energy

authority still concerned, deeply concerned that it's lost contact with that nuclear power station. It's no longer able to monitor its safety.

The Russians are in charge. Local people there are still being held by the Russians to run it. The local technicians are being held hostage in the

view of the Ukrainian government. And these people, though, were in a sense, even though they've left behind their entire lives, they've

obviously lost their jobs, their livelihoods, they've only been able to bring what they can carry. A few of them have brought their pets. They've

lost everything. But in comparison to people in Mariupol, they consider themselves the lucky ones. Hala?

GORANI: Yes, thank you so much, Sam Kiley in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine. Still to come, the president of Ukraine says the world is standing by as Russia

commits atrocities against civilians. We'll be discussing that with a guest coming up.



GORANI: Now, since Russia invaded Ukraine, NATO and its allies have refused to impose a no-fly zone over Ukrainian air space. Obviously, this

is allowing Russian jets to bomb targets across the country especially in the south. The British foreign secretary has just explained their



LIZ TRUSS, FOREIGN SECRETARY, BRITAIN: The reality is that setting up a no-fly zone would lead to a direct confrontation between NATO and Russia.

And that is not what we are looking at. What we are looking at is making sure that the Ukrainians are able to defend their own country with the best

possible selection of anti-tank weapons and anti-air defense systems.


GORANI: But Ukraine's president is repeating his call to protect his country's air space now, saying the bombing of this maternity hospital in

Mariupol today is a prime example why he's not alone. A group of 27 foreign policy experts are calling for the United States, and the international

community to establish a no-fly zone to protect humanitarian corridors. John Herbst is one of them, he's a former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine and

he's now the senior director of the Atlantic Council's Eurasia Center, and he joins me live from Washington.

I know we've got a few minutes, ambassador, but let me ask you, you heard from Liz Truss there, the U.K. Foreign Secretary saying this would put NATO

member-countries in direct military confrontation with Russia, and that's too risky, yet you still support the idea of a no-fly zone. Why?

JOHN HERBST, SENIOR DIRECTOR, ATLANTIC COUNCIL'S EURASIA CENTER: Well, look, we are almost in a direct military confrontation with Russia right

now. Putin has said his desire, his aim is to establish substantial control over all the countries that used to make up the former Soviet Union. That

includes three NATO countries. He's conducting a massive war on Ukraine, inflicting major casualties on civilians.

If we set up a humanitarian space where our jets will fly to prevent the murder of tens of thousands of Ukrainian civilians, we'll be doing one,

both a good deed, humanitarian-wise and also something in our strategic interest. We would not shoot at Russian planes. We would tell them to leave

the humanitarian flights alone, to leave -- civilians leaving conflict zones alone.

GORANI: Yes --

HERBST: And if they shoot, we would shoot, but we would not be doing any shooting -- again of course --

GORANI: But I mean, they're not -- if you politely ask the Russians not to fly their military jets over humanitarian corridors and they don't listen,

then I mean, the very idea of a no-fly zone, I don't have to tell you that, is that you have to take aim at those jets violating the air space,

otherwise there's no point in calling a no-fly zone in the first place.

HERBST: Look, we can call it protect the humanitarian corridor zone as opposed to a no-fly zone. If they fly over the zone and they don't shoot,

well, but you also let them fly over the zone, just they don't shoot, they don't murder innocent civilians. They don't stop cities --

GORANI: And if they do? And if they do, they're taken out? They're taken - - then if they do, they become targets is your idea?

HERBST: One warning and then bam. One --

GORANI: Yes --

HERBST: I suspect we will not get that one warning. But keep in mind, keep in mind, if Russia decides to go after the Baltic states, it's much easier

to do that than to go after Ukraine. So it's to our advantage to make it much harder for Russia to conquer Ukraine, because they're coming for our

allies next.

GORANI: Yes, so what -- I mean, what do you say to those people who really are concerned, and there are many of them, that the second you start

establishing these no-fly zone areas, we could be triggering World War III.


I mean, the West against Russia. Nuclear-powered nations, one against the other. You know --

HERBST: Why is it --

GORANI: How do you re-assure --

HERBST: Why is it --

GORANI: How do you re-assure people who have that concern? Because it's not a small concern.

HERBST: Look, it's not a small concern. But a greater concern is Moscow getting away with massive human rights violations in Europe and Moscow

having designs again, not just on Ukraine, but on all the states that used to make up the former Soviet Union. So, we need to wake up and smell --

it's not the roses. We need some coffee, and we need to steel our nerves to deal with a nasty power that is willing to use the threat of invasion and

actual invasion to achieve its ends.

GORANI: I thank you so much, a former --

HERBST: What is the response of those people --

GORANI: Sorry, go ahead --

HERBST: What's the response of those people letting Moscow with impunity murder tens of thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of civilians? What is

their response to that? Oh, we'll praise Ukraine for their valor and look away as they're massacred.

GORANI: Yes --

HERBST: We will be changing public opinion.

GORANI: Yes, we'll see --

HERBST: Which will force our leaders to change -- OK, thank you.

GORANI: So -- no, sorry. There's a bit of delay. I don't mean to constantly jump in. I thought you'd finished your thought, and I know you

have to --


GORANI: Leave. John Herbst, the former --

HERBST: Right, the point --

GORANI: Go ahead.

HERBST: No, we're done. No, I have to leave, thank you very much.

GORANI: All right, there you go. Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine John Herbst joining us there with his thoughts in support of establishing some

sort of no-fly zone over humanitarian corridors. Apologies there for some of that audio back and forth there. But technology doesn't always cooperate

on live television. Still to come tonight, as the number of refugees fleeing Ukraine stretches into the millions, we'll get the latest on the

ground at the Romanian border. Stay with us.



ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.

GORANI: And the numbers are staggering. And in a short period of time, more than 2 million refugees have now fled Ukraine in what the United Nations is

calling the fastest growing refugee crisis since World War II.

Most are crossing into neighboring European countries, with little idea of where they will go or when they will see the loved ones they were forced to

leave behind. Some of them have friends and family in neighboring countries. CNN's Miguel Marquez is in Bucharest with more on what he's been

seeing today. Miguel.

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hala, look, as this continues, the types of refugees coming in are changing as well. At first,

it was people with cars and money and documents. They could go to see family and friends in other European countries.

Now it's becoming more difficult, as people are fleeing faster, as that force is being used by the Russian more indiscriminately, you are getting

tens of thousands of refugees crossing into places like Romania.

And they're coming to places like Bucharest. This is the largest public space in Bucharest. It is a convention center. They are now preparing it to

open it as soon as tomorrow because all the other refugee centers are now filling up. As many as 2,000 people could be in here at some point.

These are all cots on the ground here, that they will eventually set up. They have NGOs and others coming in here tomorrow. All that stuff, all the

stuff in bags has been donated. They're sort of sorting through that. The director of all of this, who is trying to get this thing up and running as

quickly as possible, tells us what she's expecting.


COSMINA SIMEAN, GENERAL MANAGER, BUHARI DIRECTORATE FOR SOCIAL SERVICES: Actually, we don't know what is coming and how many people are coming to

Bucharest. As far as we know, the people coming here are only in transit. A few of them remain in Romania.

The rest are going through eastern countries. But we don't know how many people will come. So we need to be prepared.


MARQUEZ: This is what is most stressful here: they don't know what's coming. They know they are handling about 30,000 refugees coming to their

border a day right now. They expect that number is going to grow.

But 320,000 total refugees have come through and into Romania so far. Most of them were leaving. But just the sheer numbers, because you have so many

coming, more and more. Tens of thousands are now staying. But 85,000 now in Romania alone.

They are preparing for the absolute worst. And the fear is growing. People are applying for passports here in Romania, because they're not sure the

war was going to come here. People are lining up for gasoline now, because they're not sure if they're going to need to -- there's not going to be

available or they're going to have to leave the country here.

There is great concern, great worry about what is happening just east of here.

GORANI: All right. Miguel Marquez, thank you very much, live in Bucharest.

As more and more Ukrainians are forced to flee their homes, not all are leaving the country immediately. The western city of Lviv has welcomed the

influx of refugees with open arms.

But now it says that it is basically at maximum capacity and it is struggling to feed and shelter everybody. CNN's Michael Holmes reports from

a theater turned refugee shelter in Lviv.


MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In one of the best-known theaters in Ukraine's cultural capital Lviv, no audience to be

entertained, rather, families seeking shelter from war. We never imagined we would end up living in a theater again, he tells us, we never imagined

leaving our home and fleeing our city.

Tamila says she fled Kyiv two days ago to get her kids out of danger, leaving her mother and husband behind. Now she contemplates what's to come.

TAMILA KHELADZE, DISPLACED MOTHER: We lived happy and we have plans for future, for locations for our babies, for studying for our babies and it

was a happy future.

HOLMES: Throughout the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Lviv has been nervous but otherwise an oasis of relative quiet.

And that made this city a destination for those running from where the shells are falling. Most of them are moving on to the border but more than

200,000 have decided to stay here. Lviv welcoming them, looking after them. But now, the city's mayor says Lviv is full and we need help.

ANDRIY SADOVYI, LVIV MAYOR: This has put a lot of pressure on us and the infrastructure of Lviv. I would like to address international organizations

asking for support. We need you now and we need you here.

HOLMES: Andriy Sadovyi is pleading for tents, food medical supplies. He says more than 400 cultural and educational facilities are being used to

house the displaced.

Here a school, a place of learning in normal times.


(voice-over): Now a place of refuge for families not knowing their next move, other than it won't be going home.

VICTORIA HARBATIY, DISPLACED GRANDMOTHER (through translator): It is difficult to imagine how this craziness began. For the sake of what?

For what reason are they killing people?

What have we done to deserve this?

HOLMES: Lviv a historic city in need of help, the impact of this war being felt well away from the front lines -- Michael Holmes, CNN, Lviv, Ukraine.


GORANI: Now we opened the program with a bombing on the maternity hospital in Mariupol as well as other civilian targets. Well, Russia is responding

to the accusations that it struck that hospital in Mariupol.

Moscow's ambassador to France is denying that Russian forces had any involvement in the bombing. You can see the size of the crater there. And

those people on the ground saying that the bombardment was an aerial bombardment, targeting that location.

Speaking to CNN affiliate BFM TV, Alexei Mashkov (ph) said the strike, quote, "has nothing to do with the actions of the Russian army" and that

"Russian forces have clear orders not to target civilian installations."

However, police in Mariupol say at least 17 people were wounded in this strike and that that strike came from Russian warplanes.

Oil prices have gone dramatically up since Russia invaded Ukraine. They started to cool down on Wednesday but, regardless, the world could soon be

dealing with a major energy shock.

Sanctions on Russian supplies, right when economies are recovering from COVID-19, are likely to hurt everyone. The White House said yesterday it's

going to ban Russian oil imports. It's just one of the reasons why the Kremlin now accuses the U.S. of declaring an economic war on Russia.

And obviously it's not just oil and gas. It's Western companies, pulling out one after the other from Russia. Matt Egan is in New York.

Let's first talk about this Russian -- this ban on Russian oil and the impact it will have on oil prices and just the impact it will have on

ordinary people, as they heat their homes and fuel up their cars.

MATT EGAN, CNN BUSINESS SENIOR WRITER: Well, the consequences here are massive. Remember, Russia is the number two oil producer on the planet. And

it's not easy to replace all of that oil.

Goldman Sachs warned this week that the world economy could be on the verge of one of the biggest energy shocks ever and the biggest since 1990, when

Iraq invaded Kuwait. Obviously, the concern is this is going to raise the cost of living, at a time when the cost of living is already very high.

Now the good news is that, today, we have seen oil prices fall sharply. And that is because there is some hope now that, after months of sitting on the

sideline, OPEC may finally be coming to the rescue.

The UAE ambassador to Washington told our colleague, Becky Anderson, that the UAE does support increasing production and that they are going to

encourage other OPEC countries to do the same.

Now that is a big deal for two reasons. One, OPEC is really the only game in town. It's the only group that can quickly add supply at a time when

supply is really needed. And two, this comes just shortly after OPEC signaled it was not going to come to the rescue. It had no interest in

increasing supply.

So that is good news because while oil prices are very high, they have come back. U.S. oil hit $130.50 on Sunday night. And now it has pulled back to

$108.50. It's still high but it has come back down.

And that is giving some reason to breathe a sigh of relief from equity investors, which saw the U.S. stock market rise, the Dow up 2 percent,

because this eases concerns about an oil-driven recession.

GORANI: Sure, let's talk about the Western companies leaving Russia, including -- and we have footage of McDonald's opening its first restaurant

in Moscow in 1990 we can put it up.

Here's a graphic of all the Western companies that have pulled out: Volkswagen, Prada, P&G, Airbus and others; IKEA. We saw images of a run on

IKEA stores in Moscow when it was announced that IKEA would be pulling out.

What impact is this having on the Russian economy?

And theirs, by the way, this is what I was telling viewers about the footage of the first McDonald's opening in 1990, and McDonald's is now

pulling out. So it does have a lot of -- there's a lot of symbolism attached to that.

EGAN: Absolutely, 32 years for McDonald's in Russia. And that's why it's such a big deal, what we heard yesterday. Really this movement out of

Russia hit a crescendo, when we heard from McDonald's and Starbucks and Coca-Cola and Pepsi, all announcing plans to distance themselves from



All brands that have been there for quite some time. In the last few hours, we've heard from more companies taking steps here.

Hilton just announced it's closing its Moscow corporate office, halting new investments in Russia. Deere is suspending shipments of its products to

Russia and Belarus. Amazon suspending retail shipments to Russia, cutting off access to the Prime Video service.

CNN owner Warner Media is pausing all new business in Russia, including broadcasting its channels, playing movie releases. Discovery, the company

that Warner Media is merging with, pulling the plug on its 15 channels in Russia.

Mondelez in just the last few minutes says that they're scaling back on nonessential activities in Russia, discontinuing new investments in Russia.

This is a very big deal because it's going to deal a significant blow to the Russian economy, to the Russian oligarchs, who Vladimir Putin relies on

for support.

And it's also going to deliver a message to the public in Russia about just how isolated this country is right now.

GORANI: Matt Egan, thank you very much.

Still to come tonight, Ukraine warns that Russia's control of the Chernobyl nuclear plant is putting the world in danger.

But so should we be worried or are the radiation levels not a cause for concern?

We'll be speaking with an expert about just exactly what's going on at Chernobyl.




GORANI: So obviously anything having to do with a Chernobyl nuclear power plant or any nuclear power plant going wrong or being disconnected from

power, such as the case of the Chernobyl nuclear plant, can be a cause for concern.

Officials in Ukraine now are saying that electricity connections to Chernobyl are fully disconnected. Ukraine's foreign minister is warning

that that could threaten cooling systems and cause, quote, "radiation leaks."

Now the International Atomic Energy Agency says they see no critical impact on the plant's safety, even without power. We'll get to an expert on that

in a moment.

However, they say it's urgent that staff be allowed to rotate out. More than 200 people have been working nonstop at Chernobyl since Russian forces

seized it. Let's talk about all this with Mariana Budjeryn. She's a research associate with a project on managing the atom at the Harvard

Kennedy school.


Thank you so much for being with us. So as obviously nonexperts, when we hear that the whole plant is disconnected from power and the cooling

systems can't work properly, that sounds very worrying.

Should we be concerned?

MARIANA BUDJERYN, HARVARD KENNEDY SCHOOL: Well, the very word "Chernobyl" sounds ominous, that being the site of the world's worst nuclear accident

in history.

There is a cause for concern, of course, if any civilian nuclear facility finds itself amid a war zone. But there isn't a cause for immediate page.

There isn't a threat of immediate accident or an imminent release of radioactivity into the atmosphere.

Chernobyl nuclear power plant has been decommissioned; the last nuclear reactor there has been taken offline in 2000, in year 2000. So it's been

over 20 years now. And what that means is that the fuel that was contained in the reactor cores had sufficient time to cool, to be taken out of the

reactor core and placed in these spent fuel pumps.

And the fresh spent fuel is still quite active and quite hot and needs very intense cooling. But it's been 21 years now. So the fuel that is right now

on the site of Chernobyl nuclear power plant is sufficiently cooled. It's not as active. So even if the cooling system is disrupted, it will take --

I mean, it's not a good thing. Right?

But we're not talking hours or even days. We're talking sufficient time perhaps for the workers at this plant to find about that cooling system, to

even -- you know, as much as -- kind of find a hose to pump water into these spent fuel pools, something that potentially could be done if there

is insufficient time to find these ingenious solutions.

The point here is nobody should be put in this situation. Right?

To come up with these solutions.

GORANI: It just sounds concerning, because obviously, if there is a cooling system, it implies there's something that needs cooling. And when

you hear the word -- or the name "Chernobyl," it's never reassuring if anything goes wrong, even if the plant is decommissioned.

Now you said we shouldn't be worried. It's not a matter of days or even weeks.

But what if, God forbid, this conflict goes on for a long time, the power remains disconnected for months?

What are the real risks here?

BUDJERYN: Well, the real risk here is that these fuel rods, even though this is kind of old, spent fuel, they're not cooled constantly. The water

in the pools will eventually boil off. And after a time the temperature in these pools, in these empty pools now, could reach a certain, you know,

high level and these fuel rods could catch on fire.

And once you have fire, you have smoke and that's going to be radioactive smoke and that's going to be released into the atmosphere. So that is

certainly not a good situation.

But before we get there, there are other redundant and even inventive things the workers there could do.

What I'm concerned about is the condition of this technical personnel, the 200-some people, that have to be put in this situation, to come up, to

operate and try to maintain safety under duress, essentially, having to report to the military commander that no -- safely to assume they know

nothing about the safe operation of these facilities.

GORANI: Exactly, under occupation.

Do we know how this -- why did the power go out in the first place?

BUDJERYN: We don't know for sure. The communication itself, with the personnel, has been intermittent. It seems that the Ukrainian nuclear

regulator, the operator in Kyiv has maintained some kind of information exchange and communication channels.

But it's not reliable. The automated radiation monitoring system, that reports or transmits data directly to Vienna, to the International Atomic

Energy Agency, has been disconnected, disrupted. It's safe to assume that the fighting, the military actions that are taking place on the ground,

might have damaged the power grid.

GORANI: Right. I see. Mariana Budjeryn, thank you very much for joining us from Cambridge, Massachusetts.


Research associate with the project on managing the atom at the Harvard Kennedy school. Thank you so much.

Still to come tonight, Russia's foreign minister is set to meet with Ukraine's foreign minister in Turkey tomorrow.

Should we expect anything out of these talks?




GORANI: So we mentioned there are talks between Lavrov and the Ukrainian foreign minister. Well, the Ukrainian foreign minister Kuleba says he

doesn't have high expectations for his meeting tomorrow.

The top diplomats are set to meet for the first time since Russia invaded Ukraine. And this meeting is due to take place in Turkey. The two men are

radically different, as CNN's Jomana Karadsheh explains.


JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When the Russian and Ukrainian foreign ministers meet in Antalya in southern Turkey on Thursday,

they won't just bring to the table different objectives but also very different styles.

Sergey Lavrov has been the face and voice of Russian foreign policy since 2004, one of the longest-serving Russian cabinet members.

Now 71 years old, Lavrov is seen as a tough, no-nonsense diplomat who vigorously defends the Kremlin line, standing firm on Russia's policies

over the years, from the annexation of Crimea to its military campaign in Syria, to defending against criticism of Russia's human rights record.

He's a stern figure, who doesn't shy away from blunt talk.

SERGEY LAVROV, RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): Well, everybody knows a third world war can only be nuclear. But please see this

nuclear war is constantly rotating in the hands of the Western politicians, not in the hands of Russians.


KARADSHEH (voice-over): On the other side, Ukraine's foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, is 31 years younger than his counterpart. He's only been

foreign minister for two years; at age 40, one of the youngest senior diplomats in Ukraine's history.

But he's worked in Ukraine's diplomatic service off and on since 2003. He's also seen as a media savvy diplomat, writing a 2019 book called "War for

Reality," described as a handbook on personal data protection, critical thinking and resisting manipulation in the age of internet and mass


In the current crisis, he's appeared often on Western TV news as even tempered and straightforward.

DMYTRO KULEBA, UKRAINIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: As we speak, Russian planes continue to bomb Ukrainian citizens, kill Ukrainian civilians.


Including women and children. It's a disaster here.

KARADSHEH (voice-over): But despite the skills of each diplomat, the results of the meeting in Antalya will likely be driven by the national

interest of each country and the outcomes desired by their bosses -- Jomana Karadsheh, CNN, Antalya, Turkey.


GORANI: To close out this hour, music is providing a small comfort to the people of Ukraine, as it so often does in times of hardship. With Russian

forces advancing on the capital, a symphony orchestra played the Ukrainian national anthem in Maidan Square.



GORANI (voice-over): Braving the elements there, it's a musical act of patriotism, if you will. The conductor says the concert was a call for

peace. I hope it is heeded. Thanks for watching tonight. I'll be right back after a quick break.