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Hala Gorani Tonight
Russia Cuts Off Natural Gas Shipments To Poland And Bulgaria; U.K. To Call For New Approach To Dealing With Putin's War; Putin Warns Of Swift Response To Outside "Interference;" Explosions Just Inside Russia; Russia Shuts Off Gas Supply To Poland, Bulgaria; Ukraine Concedes Several Eastern Towns To Russia; Mass COVID-19 Testing In Beijing; Aung San Suu Kyi Sentenced To Five Years In Prison; Researchers Use VR To Speed Search For New Antibiotics. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired April 27, 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: Hello and welcome everyone, I'm HALA GORANI TONIGHT. Let's get straight to our top story. Poland calls it a
direct attack, and the European Union is calling it blackmail. We begin with a dramatic move by Russia, that raises the stakes in its confrontation
with EU members over the war in Ukraine.
Russia has cut off natural gas shipments to Poland and Bulgaria for refusing to pay in rubles to renew mechanism. It is the most serious
response yet to European sanctions on Moscow. In just a few hours, the U.K. foreign secretary is expected to call for a new approach to dealing with
Vladimir Putin and his war against Ukraine.
Liz Truss will urge the West to give Ukraine more weapons, including airplanes, which Russia has repeatedly warned against. All this happening
on the same day that the Russian president made a very stark and direct threat about foreign interference in Ukraine.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT, RUSSIA (through translator): If someone intends to intervene in what is happening from the outside, and creates
unacceptable strategic threats for us, then they should know that our response to on-coming strikes will be swift, lightning-fast. We have all
the tools for this, ones that no one can brag about, and we won't brag, we will use them if needed.
And I want everyone to know this. All the decisions have been made in this regard.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Well, we'll talk about that in a moment. But let's go live to Ukraine for the latest on the ground. We're joined by Nick Paton Walsh in
Kryvyi Rih, in southern Ukraine, with more on what's happened today. Nick.
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: There had been expectations, Hala, of possibly a key moment here in the south, in the city
which Russia first seized in the opening days of this war, Kherson, a port city down on the Black Sea in-let. Now, that referendum had purportedly
been about trying to get some sort of sham popular consent for closer ties on the Russian occupation, essentially gentrifying that occupation.
It does not appear at this stage that, that referendum has happened in any meaningful way, not that it would have been necessarily that consequential
held essentially under martial law and occupation. But it comes to, at a time when there's great Russian moves along the west side of Dnipro River
to the northeast of that city of Kherson, pushing up towards where I'm standing here in Kryvyi Rih; the symbolic industrial hub.
It is also President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's hometown. It's unclear if this is that offensive final target or if they're going to head east or west.
But that has along with the threat of the referendum, had thousands of people on the move from the areas around Kherson. Here's what we saw.
WALSH (voice-over): These southern fields conjure a peace long past, a world away from Ukraine's hell. It's quickly ruptured by Russia's new
offensive, sending waves of evacuees, fleeing the growing unthinkable world of Russian occupation. Families, for whom the shelling over the last two
hours was finally too much.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
WALSH (on camera): Just saying Grads(ph), one of the villages further down here. Don't know if the Russians are actually close to them yet, but it's
just impossible to stay. A woman was injured there.
(voice-over): Antonina(ph) was three when the last war ended, but doesn't know when this one will. Hour by hour, everything changes.
(on camera): Things are moving fast enough here, that just 24 hours ago, a village about 4 kilometers in that direction was the meeting point from
which people were getting evacuated. Now, it seems to be under fire, and we just see panicked locals rushing in to collect their relatives.
(voice-over): Distant tree lines are packed with troops, the blue horizon sometimes pockmarked by smoke.
(on camera): Here's a rumble of rocket still here, and you can see the damage of what they've done before. But somewhere like this has failed to
some degree, that didn't survive the worst of the war.
But now in its second phase, the Russian operation, the brutality of those forces is essentially coming straight their way.
(voice-over): The flag flies still in the spot here where Lenin used to stand, and it needs an army to hold it in place.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
WALSH: "People don't want, and cannot live under occupation", he says. "We've managed to get 7,000 out across our 100 miles of frontline. Some by
bicycle, some in wheel barrows or by foot." Here is where they're welcomed in President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's hometown, Kryvyi Rih. Talk of a sham
referendum on Wednesday, trying to gentrify the Russian occupation had many flee these past days, with queues of cars backed up for miles.
This father and son, lost a wife and mother respectively to a bomb, and even here, do not want their faces shown.
"If they see us, they will shoot everyone left there", he says. "We left on foot over the water in the river." For this family, it was about saving the
eldest, fearing their 18-year-old son would be conscripted after the sham vote. "The first time we tried to leave, they shot at us. The second time
we got out", she says. "We are completely occupied", she says. "There is no food, no money, we have nothing. They'll do a referendum and take our
children. My son is 18 and they will take him as cannon fodder, we ran as fast as we could."
It is jarring among the generosity of donations and offers of new homes, to hear of the casual brutality of the occupiers. Nehire(ph) was tortured for
days in a basement, after Russian troops mistook his rough builder's hands as a sign he had been a soldier.
"One got out a gun, a real one", he says. "I saw it, it was cocked. Two shots, they hit the concrete wall. I think it was a starting pistol. Two
other men then came in and talked less. They were drunk. One must have been a boxer as he beat me in the same place on my ribs, breaking six of them
and rupturing along." Broken in parts here, but even as Russia closes in, still breathing.
GORANI: Great report there, Nick. And what Vladimir Putin said about using all the tools at his country's disposal, that his country's response would
be swift as well. What did he mean? I mean, clearly, people are worried about the possibility of the use of tactical nuclear weapons here.
WALSH: Yes, I mean, we've seen this sort of escalatory rhetoric. That sort of under-the-breath notion that might use a nuclear weapon, pretty much
since the start of this. Since he put his strategic weapons on a higher form of alert. And I have to say, talking to western officials, there are
of course concerns obviously, that Russia does have this extraordinary nuclear arsenal, but also a recognition that they are deeply struggling
here on a conventional front, to make their presence felt in the way that they seem to think they could in the early days of this war.
I don't know if I want -- you know, made the point, frankly, that if they'd been willing to use chemical weapons in Salisbury over the past years in
that attack in the United Kingdom, that there are really many red lines they're not necessarily willing to cross. So we hear this sort of threat,
and I think there is a concern too possibly that maybe some of the facilities used by western powers in NATO states that border Ukraine.
Poland for example, maybe something that Russia might try to tamper with if that's part of how weapons are shipped in to Ukraine. But that's an
escalatory move. It is quite clear Russia doesn't have the military might to entangle itself. And it's essentially about changing the narrative,
about bringing somebody else into this battle. That Russia for the most part has lost so far despite the gains we're slowly seeing with this war of
gas and attrition in the east, and the south here as well.
So when we hear these claims, it kind of reminds people of the sort of borderline unhinge Vladimir Putin we saw before this war began in that 57-
minute speech he gave, going back as far as Bill Clinton to express his grievances against the West. But under that too, you have to underscore it
with the basic blunt knowledge that Russia struggling at times to get fuel for its tanks here. And so the idea of a more sophisticated kind of
response that would put NATO, the biggest military alliance in history on its back-foot may seem a little far-fetched.
But still not something to overlook, and certainly too, a sign that the Kremlin had it concern about the dynamics altering here again against their
GORANI: All right, Nick Paton Walsh in Kryvyi Rih, thank you very much for that. The EU is stepping in to try to lessen the impact of Russia's gas cut
off to Poland and Bulgaria that we told you about at the top of the hour. Moscow has halted gas along the Yamal and TurkStream pipelines.
You see them highlighted there on the map which is in green and magenta. Poland says it has alternate suppliers, and the EU insists that any impact
on consumers will be minimal. The Kremlin is rejecting claims of blackmail, but one expert says it's a calculated move. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SIMONE TAGLIAPIETRA, SENIOR FELLOW, BRUEGEL: This decision by the Kremlin, which is indeed weaponization of energy, doesn't have short-term impacts
for these countries because both of them have alternatives. But this is certainly a clear sign that Russia is willing to use gas as a weapon
against Europe, namely to fragment the European Union, vis-a-vis the action it is taking against Russia.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Well, let's go straight to Poland to get reactions from Poland's deputy Foreign Minister, Marcin Przydacz, he joins us now live. Thank you
minister for being with us. So Russia cuts gas supplies to your country, you have reserves, so for now, you're OK, correct?
MARCIN PRZYDACZ, DEPUTY FOREIGN MINISTER, POLAND: Well, yes of course, as for now, we are quite OK. Our storages are almost full, but we also --
because of good decisions of our government, so we do have alternatives. We've built LNG terminal, we're almost finished with the Baltic pipes, so
we can import gas from Norway, we do have some interconnectors with our neighbors. So more or less, we are quite OK.
Why is that? Because we -- I cannot say that we were expecting, but it was quite easy to predict that Russia may use energy resources as a weapon to
blackmail us. That's why to secure our energy security, we've taken those decisions. Right now, we are in a much better position, although, I can
imagine that not only Poland can be blackmailed with such a step. It is a sign towards Germany and other countries, they should really diversify and
also their roots of energy shouldn't be that much dependent on Russian gas.
GORANI: Now, they -- I'm sure have the intention of doing this as quickly as possible, but this doesn't happen overnight. Are you worried as some
observers and analysts have said, that this is a move by Russia to essentially divide Europe, between countries that have the ability to
withstand a cut of natural gas exports from Russia, and those who don't have necessarily that ability because they do not have alternatives like
Germany? How concerned are you that this will be the end result of this move?
PRZYDACZ: Oh, definitely. Russia likes this principle of (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE), divide us and then gets its political goals. That is why
we need the unity, we need to express our solidarity. We are ready, also through those interconnectors, to help our partners if that would be
needed, and if we could have any capacity to do that.
But unfortunately, this scenario was quite easy to predict. That's what -- that is what we've been warning our partners and allies, that Russia may
weaponize this energy -- I mean, energy resources, gas supplies. That's why we were so critical about Nord Stream 2 and Nord Stream 1, it sensed --
GORANI: Yes --
PRZYDACZ: That we were quite right. But we need to keep the unity, and we need to work together. That's why we will work in Brussels together, how to
address this issue.
GORANI: But even from your perspective, you'll get Winter months, it's cold, the use of natural gas will increase. Liquefied natural gas, which is
shipped rather than sent through pipelines, there is a capacity limit to how much can be produced today. So, you can build as many ports as you
want, but it's just how much supply can you actually get into your country.
There has to be on some level concern that once you get to the colder months, you've gone through some of your reserves, Russia still has cut off
its exports to your country, how concerned are you that you are going to then suffer, and that the price of energy will go up for your citizens and
make life much harder for them?
PRZYDACZ: Well, unfortunately, it is very probable that gas prices may rise, that's the cost of the war. But we need to choose whether we want to
live in a secure, stable Europe, or we want to have the aggressive country just next to our borders, which is trying to destroy all the security
That's what President Biden said. That it may cost us a bit to -- for democracy to win. And that's the principle we are following down here in
Poland. We do have some contracts with our suppliers, so I hope that we are quite OK with this and quite secure, but definitely, there will be a bit of
competition, we need to find another supplier, I really do count on the U.S. as a great supplier of LNG to Europe and a guarantor of the security
and also Gulf countries.
GORANI: All right, Gulf countries as well, that would be Liquefied natural gas as well. Marcin Przydacz, thank you so much for joining us, always
appreciate having you on the program. And CNN's Richard Quest is with us here, and we were discussing with the deputy Foreign Minister there,
Przydacz, that liquefied natural gas is great to get when you can get it. But when the world's demands go up as much as they do, when you try to rely
less on Russian gas, through its pipelines, that there may be some supply issues.
RICHARD QUEST, CNN BUSINESS EDITOR-AT-LARGE: You know, there will be supply issues. The question is where it's going to come from and how it's
going to get to you. Well, the pipeline obviously is not the answer, so you should buy LNG and the terminals required and the transportation of it, and
that can't be put in place overnight.
Some of the Baltic companies -- countries have done superb work in terms of building, recognizing post-2014 Crimea, and putting in place the necessary
infrastructure so they weren't so reliant on Russia. But that is not the same for Poland or indeed for Bulgaria, and indeed for Germany. So, they
are stuck, requiring both oil, which could be provided by others if they were going to boost production, or gas which is going to be much more
GORANI: Yes, absolutely, all right, well, Richard, we'll see you at the top of the hour --
QUEST: You will --
GORANI: On "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" with a lot more on this story of course and the rest of the business headlines. Trevor Reed, a former U.S. Marine
who was being held in Russia since 2019, is now free. He was released in a prisoner swap. Russia's foreign ministry says a Russian pilot was part of
the exchange, he was held in the United States on drugs charges. Reed's parents spoke with CNN over the phone moments after they got the news.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
PAULA REED, TREVOR REED'S MOTHER (via telephone): We're going to try not to cry because he doesn't want me to cry. But obviously, I'm going to cry a
little bit and give him a big hug, and just, you know, just give him a hug and then there will be the four of us together again in a few years. So,
it's going to be great.
JOEY REED, FATHER OF TREVOR REED (via telephone): Well, I want to hug him and not let him go.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
GORANI: Well, those are the parents of Reed. The U.S. President is thanking those who were involved in the negotiations which went on for many
months. CNN's Kylie Atwood is standing by in Washington with more. So, I told our viewers it was a prisoner swap. What was involved in this, how did
they get to this final point? Was it just one for one?
KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN U.S. SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it was one for one in terms of the prisoner swap. Konstantin Yaroshenko, he is the Russian that
the United States released to get Trevor Reed to come home. And he was charged, as you said, with smuggling cocaine. He was given a 20-year prison
sentence here in the U.S., he served about half that time. And Biden administration officials say the fact that he was released doesn't mean he
wasn't actually the person who did those crimes.
He isn't extricated from that. But it was a move that got Trevor Reed to come home. And it's significant that administration officials are making it
very clear today that these discreet conversations to secure Trevor Reed's release were really only focused on the topic at hand. They didn't bleed
into other diplomatic conversations, they did not at all touch upon the war in Ukraine. And the Biden administration is saying, even though of course,
they welcome the fact that Trevor Reed is headed back to the United States as we speak,
This is not going to change in any way the approach that the Biden administration has to the ongoing war in Ukraine. The last thing I do want
to note, Hala, is the fact that Trevor Reed, his health had been deteriorating, and that is one of the factors that accelerated concerns and
could have driven this prisoner release to come about a bit more quickly. He had COVID-19 last year, his family said that he had symptoms of
tuberculosis. So of course, we'll be watching closely for updates on his health --
GORANI: Yes --
ATWOOD: When he gets back here to the United States.
GORANI: Kylie Atwood, thank you very much. Still to come tonight, tributes pour in as America says goodbye to its first female Secretary of State,
Madeleine Albright. We'll have that next.
GORANI: Washington's elite from both sides of the political aisle have been gathering today to say goodbye to the late U.S. Secretary of State
Madeleine Albright. She was the first woman to serve as America's top diplomat. President Biden delivered the eulogy, praising Albright as a
champion of freedom, who turned the tide of history.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When I got word that Madeleine past, I was in mid-air, on my way to Europe to meet with our NATO allies in
Brussels, to help try to continue to keep these strong alliances together. Our organization and the international response to Russia's brutal and
unjustifiable war against Ukraine. It was not lost on me that Madeleine was a big part of the reason NATO was still strong and galvanized as it is
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Suzanne Malveaux is outside Washington's National Cathedral where Albright's funeral service was held today. Suzanne, what were that -- we
saw Joe Biden there, the president, eulogizing Madeleine Albright. What -- who else was in attendance and what were the other highlights?
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN U.S. NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, hello, Hala, it really is kind of a gorgeous day here. A very windy day in the Washington
D.C.. But it's a time-honored tradition to really celebrate the lives of civil servants who have accomplished just great works. And Madeleine
Albright is somebody who was a diplomat, a grandmother, an iconic figure and a feminist, really somebody who was a trail blazer.
It was an extraordinary ceremony to -- and just the crowd that it attracted earlier today, presidents, world leaders, diplomats. And as you had
mentioned, of course, politicians on both sides. We heard from President Biden today, and he really called Madeleine Albright a force of nature.
That, somebody who turned the course of history. And he made the connections here, connected those dots as we had heard about this
inflection point that we are in our country.
How it was just appropriate that he would hear and get that sad news of her passing as he was traveling to Europe to really shore up those NATO
alliances in conquering Russia's aggression and invasion of Ukraine.
We heard from President Bill Clinton as well, who really emphasized the point here, saying that, she said that there were no permanent victories or
defeats. That this was an ongoing battle to fight for democracy. That it was critical for the world to be aligned. And then finally, we also heard
from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who was a dear and good friend to Albright as well. And she talked about the fact that Albright
said there were no shortages of things that had to be done.
That there was a sentence of urgency and impatience that she had. And she used to wear a pin, a snail pin, one of those brooches pins that got a lot
of attention when she felt that she was impatient, and she wanted her staff and people around her to move, and do more because there was just so much
to be done. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: To Madeleine, from my perspective, there was no higher mission, no greater honor than to serve this great experiment in freedom known as the
United States of America.
HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: So, the angels better be wearing their best pins, and putting on their dancing shoes, because if as
Madeleine believed, there is a special place in hell for women who don't support other women, they haven't seen anyone like her yet.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MALVEAUX: And Hala, that line of course getting a bit of applause and a laugh line really, a nod to Albright's humor. Albright stood at 5 feet, 10
inches tall, small in stature, but a titan figure in American history. She famously told her predecessor, Warren Christopher that she hoped her
heels would fill his shoes. And I had the opportunity and really the honor to travel with her and to cover her over many years.
And it was here. She was just here six months ago when she was eulogizing her good friend and former Secretary of State Colin Powell. And both of
them, she had a message that they shared. The two of them across the aisle, different political parties, but they ultimately had faith in America. And
that America was a force and a source of good that could be used for the rest of the world. Hala?
GORANI: Right, it feels like a bygone era, doesn't it? Powell, Albright, all of those, and they've left us now. So certainly, many people --
MALVEAUX: Great loss --
GORANI: Many people -- yes, absolutely. Many people there saddened today by the loss of Albright. Thank you so much for that Suzanne. Still to come
tonight, Mariupol's massive steel factory is sheltering hundreds of civilians as Ukrainian forces struggle to keep it out of Russian hands.
GORANI (voice-over): Russian authorities still say there was a series of explosions overnight close to its border with Ukraine. They say one of them
started in this fire at an ammunition depot outside of Belgorod.
Defense and military officials in Kyiv have not claimed responsibility. But one of President Zelenskyy's advisors says, it must be karma for Russian
forces attacking Ukraine and killing civilians en masse.
Now last week Russian president Vladimir Putin declared victory in Mariupol. But Russia still does not control all of it. Alex Marquardt shows
us why the city is still not fully in Russian hands.
ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): It's all that stands in Vladimir Putin's way from fully conquering Mariupol, a key prize for the Russians.
A sprawling Azovstal steel plant operating on this site for nearly a century covering four square miles, ten square kilometers, right on the Sea
It's a towering complex that normally employs 10,000 people, with a maze of tunnels, pipes and shelters built to withstand a nuclear blast, all blow
ground and so vast that a pro-Russian commentator called it a city below a city. It is now a fortress for Ukrainian fighters and the civilians they're
YURIV RYZHENKOV, CEO, METINVEST: As far as we know, about 1,000 civilians are still at the shelters at the plant.
MARQUARDT (voice-over): Since the Russians launched their assault on the city in early March, the news has tightened. This informational video from
before the war shows how difficult a close-quarters fight would be in this huge plant full of manufacturing facilities, offices and operations rooms.
Putin has ordered his military to abandon plants to take the facility. Instead, telling his defense minister to seal it off so tightly, he said,
that a fly cannot pass through.
KURT VOLKER, FORMER U.S. SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE FOR UKRAINE NEGOTIATIONS: This is a statement of convenience by President Putin. His forces were
unable to really go in and take the steel plant, to take all of Mariupol without suffering even worse casualties and even more damage to the force.
MARQUARDT (voice-over): Ukrainian forces inside have said there are hundreds of wounded soldiers and civilians. They have pleaded with the
international community to find them a way out. Sheltering below ground with no natural light and little news.
The children here are crying all the time. They want to play. They want to live, this woman said. They haven't even seen daylight for weeks.
She said supplies are running low. The CEO of the company that owns the plant said that the underground shelters, which can hold 4,000 people had
been stocked with 2 to 3 weeks of food and water. The war started two months ago.
RYZHENKOV: To be honest, I'm surprised they still have food and water there in the shelter. We couldn't get any help into Mariupol because the
Russians did not allow us to do these humanitarian convoys into the city.
MARQUARDT (voice-over): The prospects of holding the plant in Mariupol looked grim. Controlling it means Putin would control land stretching all
the way from Crimea to Western Russia, a long-held goal.
VOLKER: Even if Mariupol falls and these poor people are killed and transported away, it doesn't mean that Russia will hold it. The Ukrainians
are getting better and better organized, better and better equipped and they are going to continue fighting.
GORANI: That was Alex Marquardt reporting.
Now back to Vladimir Putin's standoff with the European nations supporting Ukraine. We told you that Russia has widened the conflict, in a sense,
because it has suspended natural gas shipments to Bulgaria and Poland after those countries refused to pay for it through a new mechanism in rubles.
Let's bring in retired U.S. Air Force Colonel and CNN military analyst Col. Cedric Leighton. He joins me now from Washington.
What -- so this is not a military strike.
GORANI: But it is widening the conflict to suspend these gas shipments to Bulgaria and to Poland.
What is Putin trying to achieve by doing so?
COL. CEDRIC LEIGHTON (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Hello, I think it is coercion. He's trying to coerce both Poland and Bulgaria, as well as any
other country that happens to be watching, like Germany, into following his rules.
That would include paying in rubles, that would include putting the gas -- put off the gas, when it comes to the business with Ukraine. That is
something where he is really trying to divide the NATO alliance. He is trying to find a way in, using the leverage of natural gas and oil, Russian
oil, that could potentially provide him.
It is going to be a key responsibility of NATO and of the United States to keep the alliance functioning as a unifying bloc when it comes to the
aggression against Ukraine.
GORANI: He can succeed, though. Germany relies a lot on Russian gas. They just sent some quote-unquote, "real weaponry" with these Gepard tanks to
Ukraine but they hesitated for a long time before doing so.
Will he succeed in dividing European nations?
LEIGHTON: I think it's a matter of how much time everyone has. When we talked earlier about the Russians having a calendar and everyone else
having a watch, this is something that I think will really depend on how much of the European Union as well as NATO can outlast the Russians and how
long the Russians can last in the face of sanctions. So that really becomes the big issue, Hala.
Can they do this in a way that forces Europeans to abandon their principles?
Or will the Europeans find the resources and the backfill in terms of natural gas and oil to actually fill the gap?
If they do that, we have a chance of keeping the alliance intact.
GORANI: Cedric, it appears as though the U.S. has suddenly acquired a calendar and are setting their watch to one side because, if you hear what
the Secretary of Defense said, that the goal is not just to protect Ukraine as an independent, democratic state but to weaken Russia militarily, so
that it cannot do anything similar to any of its neighbors in the future.
So it seems like the United States has changed the end goal.
Do you think that was -- that was a wise statement to make at this time?
If Russia feels like that is the end goal of the U.S. and its allies, what incentive does it have to make any concessions at the negotiating table?
LEIGHTON: I think it is certainly a dangerous area that we are into now because, when you look at the kinds of things that Russia has said before
the invasion of Ukraine, they very specifically indicated that the United States and NATO, that the main goal of the alliance was to weaken Russia.
So in that aspect, the statements by the Secretary of Defense actually play into the hands of Russia and the Russians can say, look, we told you so,
this is what they believe.
On the other hand, we also have to look at it from a historical perspective. And I think we have to be careful that we don't undergo a
Weimarization of Russia; in other words, where we don't force them in a way to abandon their military forces in a way, like the Germans had to abandon
their military between World War I and World War II.
And that caused a lot of resentment. And that same kind of resentment can build up in Russia. We have to be very careful to manage that delicately.
The other part of this is that everyone has been thinking along those lines in Washington for some time.
Now I think the American leadership has run out of patience and they want to make very sure that the Russians don't ever do this again with any other
GORANI: But that means you are prolonging, potentially, at least prolonging the conflict and the direct confrontation between the two sides.
But I wonder, if you look at Ukraine, where we are now today, what would be the most, the smartest, quickest way to end, at least the bleeding, the
bloodshed, the active warfare right now?
What is the best way to go about achieving this?
Because the human suffering just has to stop, right?
How do you get there?
LEIGHTON: Yes, that's really difficult. It would require both sides to be able to talk to each other. So there are a few glimmers of hope, even
though the State Department has said they have nothing to do with each other.
LEIGHTON: The very fact that Trevor Reed, the American, who has been held prisoner for several years in Russia, has been released, that is a big
It is also indicative that there are channels of communication that are open. So it is a matter of using those channels of communication and
convincing the Russians that they really cannot achieve their goals by doing what they're doing.
It is a long process. The other part of it would be, of course, to make sure that the Ukrainians have all the weapons that they need and it looks
impossible to any Russian military man or woman, that this effort could be successful in Ukraine.
So if they are convinced that they can succeed, then it becomes possible to talk. Unfortunately, a lot of timetables are running at this point. And a
lot of people in the meantime are dying. That is the tragedy of the situation. But it has to happen quickly and the Russians have to be
convinced that this is not the way to move forward.
GORANI: Cedric Leighton, thank you so much, as always, for joining us from Washington.
There are growing calls from Russian opposition leaders and some in the U.S. Congress and the Biden administration to impose sanctions on Vladimir
Putin's supposed girlfriend. CNN's Nic Robertson reports from Brussels.
ALINA KABAEVA, RUSSIAN GYMNAST: (Speaking foreign language).
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR (voice-over): Alina Kabaeva back in the news again, first romantically linked to President
Putin more than a decade ago -- a relationship he has denied ever since.
They met years earlier, reportedly when she was a young medal-winning gymnast. He looked smitten last week, stepping out at a Moscow gymnastics
event, rallying the nation as it slips to international isolation.
KABAEVA (through translator): If competitions will be held only in Russia, then on the contrary, the gymnastics will be better and more spectacular
and the Russian gymnastics is not losing anything in this situation.
ROBERTSON (voice-over): Her life transformed -- much richer, U.S. officials say, according to "The Wall Street Journal," following her
purported proximity to Putin.
Questions now -- why hasn't she been sanctioned like him?
QUESTION: Why you would refrain from sanctioning someone arguable close to Putin?
JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I don't have analysis at this point because we're still reviewing. There's more we will likely do.
ROBERTSON (voice-over): The two rarely, if ever, seen together. That precise relationship, if any, unclear. But more than a decade of rumors
undimmed with time. Now against the backdrop of wartime symbolism, calling on the country to support Putin's war.
KABAEVA (through translator): Every family has a history of war and we shouldn't forget about it. We should hand it over from generation to
ROBERTSON (voice-over): Her wealth and ties to Putin are a hot political topic since "The Wall Street Journal" wrote Treasury officials decided last
minute not to sanction here.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): There's articles in the paper about family members that have been used by Putin to sort of launder money and talk of a
girlfriend in Sweden. Do you know anything about an effort to bring sanctions against her?
MERRICK GARLAND, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: The first answer is no --
GARLAND: And the second answer I guess is if I did know, I wouldn't be able to discuss it.
GRAHAM: OK, fair enough.
GARLAND: This is the Treasury Department.
ROBERTSON (voice-over): Whatever Kabaeva's proximity to Putin, her financial moves never more closely watched than now -- Nic Robertson, CNN,
GORANI: Still to come, the execution of an intellectually disabled man is putting Singapore's drug laws under the microscope. We will be right back.
GORANI: Singapore has executed an intellectually disabled man found guilty of drug smuggling. The 30-year-old Malaysian man was arrested in 2009 for
bringing about three tablespoons of heroin into the country.
Activists and U.N. experts urged authorities to spare his life due to his disability. But A Singapore court rejected a final appeal for clemency last
month. It puts Singapore's zero tolerance drug laws and its use of capital punishment back under scrutiny.
As China struggles with its zero COVID policy, more than 27 cities are under some kind of lockdown. And the country's economy is feeling the
strain. President Xi is calling for more spending on infrastructure to try to rescue the nation's finances. CNN's Selina Wang explains.
SELINA WANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In China, 1 million people are under strict lockdown after just one person tested positive for COVID-19. This is
the reality in zero COVID China. Officials are especially concerned because this case was found in a city just 50 kilometers away from Beijing.
And a lot of people commute between the two cities.
This comes as Beijing tries to quash a nascent outbreak in the capital. They are trying to quash it early to avoid it from spiraling into the chaos
and mess during the Shanghai lockdown.
Beijing is already in a partial lockdown. Whether this turns into a full lockdown depends on how many positive COVID cases are found as a result of
mass testing. Beijing has been testing 20 million residents in multiple rounds.
So far, 114 cases have been reported since Friday. Beijing officials have been trying to reassure its residents that there are enough supplies of
food and daily essentials. But still, people are concerned. There has been some panic buying in Beijing supermarkets.
The residents have seen the horrors on Chinese social media of what Shanghai had to go through during their continued weeks-long lockdown --
the lack of food, medical care and the unsanitary conditions at quarantine facilities.
While Shanghai and Beijing have gotten the most attention, millions of people across China are confined to their homes. Dozens of cities have
rolled out some kind of lockdown restrictions.
As most of the world is learning to live with COVID, China is still bringing entire metropolises to a standstill. These lockdowns are bringing
China's economy, quote, near breaking point. Investment banks are slashing their forecasts for China's economic growth.
But to try and fix the economy, China's leader Xi Jinping told officials that an all-out effort must be made to boost construction. He called for
more projects and transportation, energy, cloud computing and artificial intelligence.
It is rare for Xi Jinping to set out these sorts of detailed economic plans. So these comments by China's leader indicate that Beijing is growing
increasingly concerned by the country's economic outlook.
Global investors are concerned too, as China's stock markets sink deeper into a bear market -- Selina Wang, CNN, Kunming, China.
GORANI: Myanmar's former leader Aung San Suu Kyi has been sentenced to five years in prison on corruption charges. The Nobel Peace Prize winner
was found guilty of accepting gold and hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes when she was the country's political leader.
GORANI: She denies all of those charges.
We will be right back.
GORANI: This week, CNN brings you stories of pioneers taking on the biggest missions in science and health care. Companies can now use virtual
reality to do medical research. CNN's Rachel Crane reports.
RACHEL CRANE, CNN BUSINESS INNOVATION AND SPACE CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): Oh, OK, well let's give me some here.
This might look like a game but I'm exploring a virtual reality platform that help scientists design real medicines by putting them inside the
molecules that they study.
I mean, this is crazy, I am like in the molecule, looking up at it.
Joining me is Steve McCloskey, the 30 year old cofounded San Diego based start-up Nano in 2016 to develop the technology.
CRANE: You started off as an academic nano engineer.
So what inspired you to get into the technology space and actually create this platform?
STEVE MCCLOSKEY, COFOUNDER, NANO: I've always been into gaming, grew up big gamer. I remember how different it was to go into VR and be in the
environment compared to just playing a 2D game. When I was going through nano engineering, I was like, why don't we have a better, immersive
graphics way to do this?
CRANE (voice-over): It turns out, a lot of scientists are asking the same. Since the platform launched in 2018, hundreds of organizations have adopted
Nano's VR tools for their research. McCloskey says at a cost of $5,000 plus per year.
MCCLOSKEY: To be able to go into VR, you actually immediately gain new insights. So this could send you on a completely new path of molecular
development that would have otherwise never been discovered.
CRANE (voice-over): That is exactly what is needed to fight one growing health crisis: antibiotic resistance. It is what happens when bacteria
adapt and no longer respond to antibiotics, making common infections difficult to treat and even fatal.
LifeArc, a medical research charity based in the U.K., is using Nano's VR to search for molecules that can fight some of these bugs.
DAVID POWELL, CHIEF SCIENTIFIC OFFICER, LIFEARC: These bacteria are inherently difficult to develop new drugs for, because they have got very
high natural defenses.
CRANE (voice-over): Tackling the problem in three dimensions helps speed up discovery, LifeArc says. But there are still financial hurdles to
POWELL: The commercial returns for new antibiotics are really poor.
CRANE (voice-over): That is because, compared to other medications, antibiotics are cheap to buy but expensive to develop.
CRANE: What kind of time savings does Nano allow for and how does that then translate to cost savings?
MCCLOSKEY: Getting the drug to market six months quicker might be worth tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars in value because you are able
to start selling it earlier. This is going to be patient lives that you are saving, improvements on and in their lives.
CRANE (voice-over): Even with a quicker path to discovery, only around one in 10 new antibiotics make it past clinical trial. And no antibiotic design
with Nano's platform is at that stage yet. But McCloskey says the VR gives more scientists a chance to beat the odds.
MCCLOSKEY: There is actually a free version. We try to make it as accessible as possible, really democratizing access to scientific tools
like this and trying to see a billion scientists in the world.
GORANI: Rachel Crane there.
And from microscopic breakthroughs on Earth, to record breaking moments in space. A SpaceX mission took to the skies this morning, carrying astronaut
Jessica Watkins, who is set to become the first Black woman to join the International Space Station crew.
Watkins and her team will dock later today, joining three NASA astronauts, three Russian cosmonauts and an astronaut from the European Space Agency.
Thanks for watching tonight, I am Hala Gorani. Stay with CNN. "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" is up next and I will see you tomorrow.