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Hala Gorani Tonight

Russia Closes In On Mariupol Amid Reports Of Mass Surrender; Zelenskyy Warns The War Could Become An "Endless Bloodbath"; Baltic Leaders Meet With Ukraine's President In Kyiv; Biden Labels Russian Atrocities "Genocide"; Shanghai Quarantine Center Filled Up In Two Days; South Africa Flooding Kills At Least 259; Pentagon Update On Ukraine. Aired 2:10-3p ET

Aired April 13, 2022 - 14:10   ET



HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: All right, we're going to break away there from our coverage from our sister network CNN USA. The arrest of that

New York City subway shooting suspect. He was spotted by two police officers in Manhattan and taken into custody. And there's a news conference

scheduled for the next -- in the next hour. In the next hour or so and we'll monitor that and we'll bring you lines, any news lines that come out

of that.

But for now, we're going to take a quick break and we'll have the very latest on Ukraine after this. Stay with us.



GORANI: Hello, everyone, I'm Hala Gorani, welcome to the program. As Russian forces close in, time is running out for the last remaining

defenders of Mariupol. Surrounded and bombarded for weeks, the strategic port appears closer than ever to becoming the first major Ukrainian city to

fall under Russian control. Now, CNN is not in Mariupol, but we're seeing videos like these showing Russian troops patrolling the streets inside the

city, obviously.

Russia is claiming that 1,000 Ukrainian Marines in the city have surrendered. Now, Ukraine is not confirming that. It says that its

remaining fighters have now consolidated after a risky maneuver. If Russia seizes the area where they are holed up, it would gain crucial access to

Ukraine's main port sea -- main sea of Azov port completing a southern land corridor. You see it there highlighted on the map. The Ukrainian President

Volodymyr Zelenskyy warns that without help, more cities could go the way of Mariupol.

Today, he said, quote, "without additional weaponry, this war will become an endless blood bath." Let's go to Ukraine now, Phil Black is following

developments from Kyiv with more. What is the latest on Mariupol? The Russians are saying a 1,000 Marines surrendered, the Ukrainians are saying

that's not true. What do we know?

PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, Hala. Now, as you said, we don't have people in Mariupol so we rely upon some of the images that

find their way out. And the claim and counter-claim made by each side, what they all seem to point to is an imminent last stand. Now, the Ukrainian

forces there say that, yes, they have consolidated their position. They were essentially split into two separate areas, and then through what has

been described by a Ukrainian government official as a risky maneuver.

One force was able to join the other, increasing their fighting and their defensive capability. So, the implication there is that perhaps they can

hold out a little bit longer. But remember, these are forces that have been surrounded, cut off for well over a month now. They say they've had no

resupply, that means no food, no new ammunition, and over the course of that period, they have been driven into smaller and smaller patches of


There is every sense as I say, that this is approaching a last stand, but that does not mean it will be over quickly. These are clearly very

committed forces that are determined and have said so possibly, that they will fight to the absolute end.


That's the military scenario, and then there is, of course, still the humanitarian scenario. We heard today that there is still thought to be

around 120,000 people in that bombarded city. They've been there throughout. Again, no supply or aid, so very little food and, of course, no

-- very little water and no electricity, no power, no heat through the many cold weeks since this siege began.

And what we've heard throughout that time is that, it is an incredibly dire humanitarian situation. But there are still as I say, 120,000 people there,

and according to officials from the city, around another 60,000 in the surrounding area. All of which desperate to be evacuated, all of which

desperately need some sort of help and aid to get in there. Hala?

GORANI: Absolutely. And Russia is saying that if its territory is attacked, it will go ahead and hit Kyiv because that's where the decisions are made.

I wonder if people are seeing this as kind of saber-rattling or if there is real concern that now Russia will go after the capital itself from the air,


BLACK: Well, given that everything else that Russia has done to this country in this war so far, there's no reason to doubt perhaps Russia's

will if it chooses to do so. It's a very blunt warning, isn't it? If Russia says that it is seeing continued evidence of Ukraine preparing to launch

strikes on Russian federation and if it continues to see such evidence, then it will target decision-making centers including here, the capital,


It's not saying how widespread those attacks would be, but there's no doubt that it has the capability to do so, because throughout this war, Russia

has continued to use long-range precision weapons, cruise missiles mostly to pick off key pieces of infrastructure at will. As I said, there was very

little reason, I think to doubt Russia's will and intent, but the will and intent that exists behind that blunt warning, Hala.

GORANI: Phil Black live in Kyiv. Thanks so much. Well, speaking of Kyiv, Baltic leaders and the Polish president are the latest to make state visits

to the capital, showing their support for Ukraine during Russia's brutal attack. The presidents of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia met with Poland's

president and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. They discussed war crimes investigations and how to provide aid to Ukraine's civilians and


And the Latvian President Egils Levits who was returning to Latvia when I spoke to him after his trip to Kyiv talked to me also about his visit to

the northwestern suburb of Borodyanka which was so severely shelled and hit by Russian troops. I began by asking him about his visit to the capital.


EGILS LEVITS, PRESIDENT, LATVIA (via telephone): Yes, we saw the Russian atrocity which they have committed in Ukraine. And it is clearly that they

have a war crime, crimes against civilian population. And Russia excluded itself from the international community through such actions. And it is

also necessary, and I have stressed it, that all responsible persons for such crimes should be brought to justice.


LEVITS: International Criminal Court in Hague has already started the investigations, and also U.N. International Court of Justice that have also

(INAUDIBLE) against Russia. It is very important that such kind of crimes could not be regarded as normal, and international court are dealing with

such crimes.

GORANI: You heard the American president call this potentially a genocide, that it's a real possibility that, that is what Russians have done.

Emmanuel Macron; the French president is saying --

LEVITS: Yes --

GORANI: Hang on, let's not escalate the rhetoric at this stage. Do you agree with the U.S. President or the French president on this one?

LEVITS: Yes, what seemingly, it is a genocide, and -- but it is up to the international courts completely to decide on that. But on -- on the third

side, it's clear that it's genocide, and therefore, there are such proceedings before International Criminal Court and International Court of

Justice in order to have a -- have a judgment on this. But it seems I saw with my own eyes, it seems to be a genocide.


GORANI: And can you describe what you saw with your own eyes? What struck you today? What jumped out at you?

LEVITS: Yes, I saw destroyed houses of civilians. The destroyed cars of civilians to leave. There was not -- the bodies were not there, but that

civilians were killed in their cars, in their apartments, on the streets. It was clear that it is terror against civilians.

GORANI: Well, then --

LEVITS: And I think that a whole civilized world cannot tolerate such kind of crime.

GORANI: It's what the Polish president also called this Russian action, terrorism. The German president said that he wanted to come and be part of

this trip, President Steinmeier, but that he was not welcome. This was after a report in the "Bild" newspaper in Germany saying the Ukrainians

didn't really like his position of Rapreshmore(ph) in previous pronouncements about Russia through trade. And so he didn't feel like he

should be welcomed. Do you regret that the German president did not join you on this trip?

LEVITS: The visit of foreign presidents, three Baltic presidents, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania president and the Polish president was planned already

a long time ago. And now it was realized, concerning the visit of German president or chancellor, it is up to Ukraine and Germany to decide on that.

But this -- this rate of four close friends of Ukraine, we, the four countries, the three Baltic countries and Poland, always supported Ukraine

in the European Union, in NATO, on international stage, and therefore, we planned that we visit the Ukraine and realized this visit today.

GORANI: I'm not sure if you saw that Russia is now saying that if Ukrainians strike its territory, that it will strike the city where these

attacks were planned, in other words, the capital, Kyiv, which it has not done so far, it's stayed on the outskirts. How concerned are you about


LEVITS: We are concerned about this law in Ukraine, in general. And we -- so out goes as a miss of military power of Russia is not more there.

Ukraine is a country like France, like --

GORANI: But do you think they're serious -- do you think they're seriously threatening Kyiv at this stage? Because --

LEVITS: United Kingdom and can resist this military power --

GORANI: Yes, I get that --

LEVITS: Of Russia --

GORANI: But do you --

LEVITS: Yes --

GORANI: Do you think they're seriously threatening Kyiv? Because the narrative the last week has been they're refocusing entirely on the east.

Now, they're throwing this new element into the conversation, which is we'll go after the capital itself where President Zelenskyy has his

presidential offices. Do you think it's rhetoric or do you think they're serious?

LEVITS: The Kyiv is safe because it's controlled by Ukrainian forces. If the attack of Russians failed, and now the Russians have concentrated their

military forces in the east of Ukraine, and in the next days and weeks, there would be a heavy battle, but I am sure that the assistance of

Ukrainians would be very strong.

GORANI: As it has been. Egils Levits; the president of Latvia, thank you so much for joining us. The president of Latvia was on a trip to Kyiv and also

the suburb of Borodyanka along with his Polish, Estonian and Lithuanian counterparts. Thank you very much.


GORANI: And still to come tonight, the U.S. president says the horrors in Ukraine are genocide, we discussed this with the Latvian president. But

registering a formal declaration of genocide may still be a very long way off. We'll explain after this.




GORANI: For the first time, U.S. President Joe Biden says Russia is committing genocide in Ukraine.

He said Tuesday, quote, "The evidence is mounting that Russian President Putin is just trying to wipe out even the idea of being Ukrainian,"

unquote. To put this into perspective, the U.S. government rarely uses the term "genocide" for atrocities and Mr. Biden even said last week that a

genocide was not underway.

So does this signal some sort of shift in its support for Ukraine or an official strategic policy shift?

U.S. officials tell us that using the word "genocide," though, is not likely to trigger any immediate changes.

So why use it?

CNN M.J. Lee is live from Washington.

What's behind the usage of this term?

M.J. LEE, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. You know, as you noted, this is a significant ratcheting up of rhetoric that we heard from President Biden.

What he said yesterday was that it has become clearer and clearer that Vladimir Putin is trying to wipe out even the idea of being Ukrainian.

Those were the exact words that we heard from the president. He said the evidence is growing, in his opinion, that Putin is committing a genocide in

Ukraine. But he did also importantly note that it would be up to the lawyers to decide whether this is what is technically happening.

There's a complicated process, an involved process to determine on the international front whether a genocide is happening in a country. Now

Zelenskyy, the Ukrainian president, of course, immediately reacting to the comments from the U.S. president, saying in a tweet, "Calling things by

their names is essential to stand up to evil."

Now I think it's important to note as well that this is not the first time that we've seen President Biden sort of get ahead of official U.S.

administration policy.

For example, recently, President Biden said that President Putin in Russia was a war criminal. This was before officials around him were ready to use

that kind of language. He has also in the past said that Putin cannot remain in power, which led to the administration having to clarify



LEE: He didn't mean to suggest a change in U.S. policy in terms of supporting regime change in Russia.

Now this is the kind of comment that world leaders are certainly taking note of, including the French president. When he was asked about this he

said this is the kind of ratcheting up of rhetoric that he himself is not going to use, because he doesn't basically think that this is kind of

helpful in terms of the goal of stopping this war.

But again, just one more reminder of how much weight words from the U.S. president carry.

GORANI: Certainly, yes. And as you mentioned there, not everyone in agreement with using that term at this stage. And this is against the

backdrop of the U.S. president announcing an $800 million security package in a new call with President Zelenskyy.

What is in it?

LEE: That's right. This is new military assistance that President Biden has committed to offering to the Ukrainians in a call that happened earlier


And just to put that figure in perspective, that now brings the total aid that has been offered to Ukraine by the U.S. under President Biden to more

than $3 billion. That's 2.5 billion since the Russia invasion of Ukraine began.

And President Biden and President Zelenskyy, in this call, discussed -- this call that lasted about an hour -- discussed that military package. And

according to a new statement from the White House, this new aid includes artillery subpoenas, artillery rounds, armored personnel carriers.

And he also said the, the president, that he has approved the transfer of additional helicopters. So certainly you get a sense, just from the

statement and this announcement, that the continued aid to Ukraine is very much a part of the discussions.

We know, for example, that the Pentagon, too, is having meetings with makers of weapons. So there are some lines that, of course, this

administration has drawn in terms of what the U.S. will not do; for example, sending U.S. troops physically into Ukraine.

But this is the kind of assistance that this White House will continue to point to when it says that it remains steadfast in trying to support the

people of Ukraine.

GORANI: All right. M.J. Lee, thank you very much, live in Washington.

We're expecting, by the way, any minute now, a briefing at the Pentagon. When that happens, we'll take you live to it.

In the meantime, officials in Kharkiv say Russians are shelling more civilian areas. They believe it's part of Russia's new deadly offensive in

Eastern Ukraine. Earlier, the head of Kharkiv's regional government said the recent attacks have injured at least 22 civilians and killed seven

people, including children.

Officials say Russia is also planting land mines in this city and using other dangerous weapons like this.


GORANI (voice-over): This video shared on Sunday shows what appears to be explosions from cluster munitions in Kharkiv. The U.N. human rights chief

says using weapons like these to attack civilians may amount to war crimes.


GORANI: Ukraine's civil defense says Russia has fired rockets with anti- personnel mines that are now littering civilian areas in Kharkiv. Clearing them out is a very delicate task. Nima Elbagir filed this report for us



NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is the central market area in Kharkiv. And this is the site of most of last night's

strikes. We've come here with emergency service first responders.

The Russians have come up with a new tactic to ensure that the devastation of their attacks last far beyond first impact.

Lieutenant Colonel Igor Ovcharuk is the head of the bomb disposal team.

LT. COL. IGOR OVCHARUK, PYROTECHNIC GROUP, EMERGENCY SERVICES (through translator): The mines explode by themselves and cause damage. These

elements can detonate between three and 40 hours later. So we have to detonate them remotely to avoid damage to the civilian population.

ELBAGIR: There are unexploded mines all over this area. So they can't get too close. What they do is they wrap plastic explosives around a wire, link

it to a detonator; that is then placed next to the unexploded ordnance. They retreat, then they blow it up.

A brutal new tactic leaving death to lie in wait for unsuspecting civilians -- Nima Elbagir, CNN, Kharkiv.


GORANI: Well, we'll be right back with a lot more. Stay with us.





GORANI: In Shanghai, police are promising to punish anyone violating lockdown. It is a strict lockdown. It comes as more than 26,000 cases were

reported in the city on Tuesday.

Restrictions are easing somewhat but only in some COVID-free neighborhoods. This video, shot by a patient, shows hundreds of people, crowded together

in a Shanghai quarantine center. The patient told CNN that all 1,000 beds filled up in two days. You quarantine whether you have symptoms or not in

Shanghai under the current rules.

In other news, the British prime minister is completely mortified, he says, by Partygate, according to the U.K. transport secretary, Grant Shapps. He

also confirmed that Boris Johnson has paid the 50-pound fine issued by the Metropolitan Police for breaching lockdown regulations. But he's not


South Africa now says at least 259 people are dead because of flooding from days of heavy rain in the eastern part of the country. Regional officials

call it one of the darkest moments in the history of the area.

Hundreds of people have been left homeless and many roads are damaged. You can see just the ferocity of the flooding, the force of the water. Craig

Lambinon is the spokesperson for the National Sea Rescue Institute of South Africa. His team has done thousands of rescue missions over the last few

hours alone and he joins me now live from Cape Town.

Thank you for being with us. I know you're busy so I won't take too much of your time but explain the scene.

What's going on?

Why is the death toll so high?

CRAIG LAMBINON, SPOKESPERSON, NATIONAL SEA RESCUE INSTITUTE: Hello, good evening. Yes, it's unprecedented rainfall that we had in a very short space

of time. It has caused widespread destruction, literally mayhem that was caused, resulting in literally thousands of people needing to be rescued in

hundreds of rescue operations over the last 36 to 48 hours.

And understandably a lot of people swept away by the flooding as well as people in vehicles, roadways that have been so damaged, sinkholes that have

caused roadways to fall in, buildings that have been -- structural damage to buildings.

And really it has been something quite phenomenal; literally, in recent history, we haven't seen anything like this before.

GORANI: And just from these aerial images, we see big containers that look like they were tossed around like toys.


GORANI: Why was the water so powerful?

How did it cause so much damage?

Did the flooding happen all of a sudden?

Were they like flash floods or what happened that led to this devastation?

LAMBINON: Correct. So over a very short space of time, it was a lot of rainfall. It had been forecast by our South African weather service. The

emergency services were all on high alert at the time.

But even having said that, it was unprecedented, what we experienced in a very short space of time. And that is obviously partly the cause of sadly

the death toll.

And also sadly there are people that are still missing. But as I say, the emergency services, the National Sea Rescue Institute, lifeguards (ph) and

the joint emergency services, they literally conducted hundreds of rescue operations, saving thousands of lives in a very short space of time.

GORANI: I can just imagine, just how unbelievably exhausting and stressful work this is. You say there are still many people missing.

Do you have a number?

Can you put a number to the missing?

LAMBINON: That -- we don't know the number yet. Investigations are still underway. The disaster risk management are now heading up the operations.

They are still telling to see -- obviously, a report still coming in. There are still some rescue operations that are still underway, a search and

rescue as well as recovery.

The South Africa Police Services of search and rescue and Metro Police search and rescue are still continuing in operations to try to find people

buried in their homes, literally buried under mud. So that is really what is still going on.

GORANI: Terrible. And as you mentioned, rescue but also recovery in some cases, sadly. Thank you so much for joining us, Craig Lambinon, and good

luck to your teams there on the ground.

LAMBINON: Thank you very much.

GORANI: So as we mentioned, the Pentagon is holding a briefing right now. Let's go live to Washington.


ADM. JOHN KIRBY (RET.), PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: Their ruthless aggression now to Eastern Ukraine. This authorization is the seventh such drawdown of

equipment from DOD inventories for Ukraine since August of 2021.

And you can see the list of capabilities there, up on the screen, so I won't bother reading them all to you. Some of them are reinforcing

capabilities that we have already been providing Ukraine. And some of them are new capabilities that we have not provided Ukraine.

All of them are designed to help Ukraine, as we talked about, help Ukraine in the fight that they are in right now and the fight that they will be in,

in the coming days and weeks in the eastern part of the country.

The United States has now committed more than $3.2 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since the beginning of the Biden administration,

including approximately $2.6 billion since the beginning -- just since the beginning of their unprovoked invasion on February 24th.

The United States also continues to work with its allies and partners to identify and provide Ukraine with additional capabilities, capabilities

that aren't in our stocks, that we aren't as able to get to them directly.

And we'll obviously continue to utilize all the available tools at our disposal to support Ukraine's armed forces in the face of Russian


With that, we'll go to questions -- Bob.

QUESTION: I'm wondering if you could -- the helicopters.

Are these the helicopters that you had in -- on stock, because they were going to be going to Afghanistan?

KIRBY: Yes. So these 11 MI-17s are -- had been earmarked for Afghanistan. They are coming out of our stocks, our inventory. We have them; we

obviously didn't transfer them to Afghanistan. So we're now transferring them to Ukraine.

I would remind that, as you probably remember, we had already provided Ukraine five MI-17s not long ago. So this is not the first time we've given

them these.

QUESTION: A related question, you mentioned the urgency of this and the shift of the Russian focus to the east.

Are you also putting urgency on trying to facilitate, in some way, transfer of armor from Eastern European NATO member countries, who would have tanks

or other armor, that the Ukrainians would be familiar with?

Is that moving forward?

KIRBY: Yes. I would, without talking about other sovereign states and what they're providing.


KIRBY: I can tell you that there are at least a couple that are providing armor capabilities, tanks, largely T-72 tanks, which the Ukrainians know

how to use, are trained on. And they are getting some transfers of tanks from other countries in NATO. But I'd leave it to those nations to speak to

that more specifically.

QUESTION: Is there a timetable for the delivery of this?

KIRBY: As soon as possible. I mean we -- as you've seen us go in the past, from the time the president authorizes drawdown until the first shipments

actually start landing in the region, can be as little as four to five days. And then another couple of days, once they're there, to get processed

and actually in the hands of Ukrainian front line forces.

So we are still finishing up the last $800 million that President Biden authorized. And we're getting close to the end of that. We expect to be

complete with that last $800 million by the middle of this month, around the 15th.

But we're not going to wait. We're going to start getting these articles on the way as well. So we will literally start right away.

QUESTION: One last quick thing.

Talking about the Howitzers, is this the first time you've provided artillery?

KIRBY: It is. It's the first time that we've provided these 155 Howitzers and the associated rounds that will go with them. And again, that's

reflective of the kind of fighting that the Ukrainians are expecting to be faced with, here in this little bit more confined geographic area.

They specifically asked for fire support and that -- and specifically asked for artillery support.

QUESTION: Are the atrocities, attributed to the Russian military, are they a factor in the decision to send Ukraine more lethal weapons?

KIRBY: We've been providing some lethal weapons in the past, though. This drawdown here today is a function, very specifically a function, of

conversations that we have had with Ukrainian leaders in just the last few days, including the president's conversation today with President


I mean, we tailored this list specifically to meet the needs that they have asked for, with respect to what's going on in Eastern Ukraine. That's

what's really driving this.

QUESTION: We heard a senior Defense official say earlier today that U.S. troops in Europe may be tapped to help train Ukrainians on weapons systems.

I'm wondering, since we've seen this announcement of this additional security assistance, whether there's any more clarity of whether troops

will actually be doing that training.

Which troops may be doing the training?

And if there are any particular items on that list that service members may be able to help with.

KIRBY: We do anticipate some of the items will require some additional training for Ukrainians. We haven't -- we're still working through what

those options are going to look like, what that training is going to look like, how many U.S. troops are going to be involved in it, where is it

going to be?

How long?

It's going to depend. We're still working our way through that. But we believe that we can put together appropriate training for some of these

systems very, very quickly. These are not highly complex systems.

The systems that will probably require some additional training are the Howitzers, the TPQ-36 counter artillery radar, not a very difficult system

to operate. But it's not one that they have in their inventory.

The -- thank you for that.

Go to the MQ-64, yes, MPQ-64, sorry, the sentinel air surveillance. This is an air defense radar system, a 3D phase array and that also is going to

require a little bit of training on -- for that.

Go back to the main list, if you could.

So we've already talked about Switchblade training. That has already occurred. And we know that there will probably be a need for some follow-on

Switchblade training, for, again, training more trainers, if you will.

They will -- they might need some training on the -- wait, down at the bottom there, the optics and laser range finders. But that won't take very

long. It's not a very -- those aren't complicated systems. But they might need some of that and perhaps some basic training on the Claymores.

But the big ticket items that will require some training are those radars and the artillery systems.


KIRBY: Again, we're still working our way through what that's going to look like, where, when, how many. It's more likely than not that what we would

do, because they're in an active fight, is a train the trainers program.

So pull a small number of Ukrainian forces out, so they can get trained on these systems and then send them back in. It won't be a cafeteria style; it

will likely be tailored. We'll pull troops out that are, for instance, artillery men, to learn the artillery, the Howitzer, and then go back in

and train their colleagues, rather than make an artillery man responsible for training everybody on all these systems.

So we'll do it in a tailored fashion. We're working through that right now.

QUESTION: Since the beginning of the conflict, there's been concerns about escalation and U.S. involvement. And I'm wondering if this U.S. training,

if there are any concerns over whether this is going to look like some type of escalation or be interpreted that way by the Russians.

KIRBY: I can't speak for the Russian side of this. Let's go back to basics.

Ukraine was invaded in an unprovoked way by Russia. They have suffered a lot of casualties, damage to so many cities, millions of Ukrainians have

now become refugees inside and outside their country.

This was a war they didn't deserve. It's not a war they certainly didn't ask for. There was no reason for Russia to invade Ukraine at all,

particularly when Mr. Putin had diplomatic options on the table.

We committed from the very beginning, even before the invasion, to helping Ukraine be able to defend itself. This is of a piece of that. And this is

representative of the kinds of capabilities that the Ukrainians themselves have asked for and said they need as this fighting now gets focused on the

eastern part of the country.

How that gets interpreted by the Russians, you can ask Mr. Putin and the Kremlin. What we're concerned about is making sure that we are doing what

we said we were going to do, which is have an iterative conversation with the Ukrainians and try to do the best we can to meet their self-defense


Again, I want to stress this is coming from U.S. stocks, from what we've got. Other nations are doing the same thing. They're having conversations

with Ukrainian leaders and they're trying to fill their needs as best they can, too, because they have some systems that the Ukrainians are simply

more comfortable with than we do.

QUESTION: Three quick ones, if I may.

First you say, on the list, there's chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear protective equipment.

Can you elaborate on -- ?


KIRBY: This is individual equipment, protective suits and individual detection devices.

QUESTION: OK, thank you.

Leaders are or have met today with Defense contractors about Ukraine.

Can you give us any more details about the meeting, who attended or is attending, what's been discussed?

KIRBY: Yes, this was, as I said earlier, this meeting was of a piece of a larger, longer effort that we have put in place now over the last many

months, to have a recurring dialogue with CEOs of major Defense contractors.

A few weeks ago, a couple of months ago, we talked about one focused on hypersonics, for instance. This was focused on the kinds of systems and

weapons that have been relevant in the Ukraine war.

And we wanted to make sure that we had a good, honest, candid discussion with these CEOs about the systems that they're producing, about the rate at

which they're being produced, about the possibility for accelerating some of those production lines and expanding them, based on the heavy draw on

our inventory to support Ukraine.

Now I want to stress that we have not reached a level of inventory of any of these systems that are impacting our readiness abilities. But we don't

want to get to that point before we start to have a conversation with industry about replenishment and the production line going forward.

So that's what this was all about. It was part of a normal, scheduled, routine conversation that we have with Defense industry leaders but

obviously focused much more specifically on what's going on in Ukraine.

So Boeing was represented; L3Harris was represented, Raytheon, BAE Systems, Lockheed Martin, Huntington Ingalls, General Dynamics and Northrop Grumman

were all represented today. OK? And it was a good discussion. We were very grateful -- and I want to say that right at the top, very grateful for

their willingness to come on in and have this discussion.

Deputy Secretary Hicks kicked it off. She led it. And, again, I would fully expect that there will be additional such roundtable discussions going

forward with these CEOs and perhaps others as time goes on.

QUESTION: OK, thank you.