Return to Transcripts main page


Ukraine PM: This is a "Declaration of War"; White House Halts G8 Summit Preps; Get Ready for More Snow

Aired March 2, 2014 - 08:00   ET


CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to you, again. Sunday, just about 8:00. I'm Christi Paul. So glad to have your company.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Victor Blackwell. It is 5:00 a.m. out West and this is NEW DAY SUNDAY.

We're starting with breaking news out of Ukraine this morning. The country says that Russian troops surrounding its military bases amount to a declaration of war and they're demanding Russia pull back its troops.

PAUL: Ukraine has deployed its own troops across the country now, too, even though the nation's defense minister says his country doesn't have the military might to resist Russia.

BLACKWELL: Yes. And, yesterday, look at this, the violence that erupted during a huge protest there where thousands of pro-Russia protesters rallied and crowds clashed with pro-European union groups there.

Ukrainian officials say 15,000 Russian troops are now on the Crimean Peninsula.

PAUL: Meanwhile, evidence is growing that the armed men in those unmarked uniforms patrolling Crimea since Friday are indeed Russian troops, although Russia still is not admitting to that. The U.S. is calling Russia's actions a, quote, "invasion and occupation."

BLACKWELL: CNN's Phil Black is live in Moscow this morning.

Phil, let's take a look at this, because we've talked so much about what's happening in the Ukraine but Moscow police are now telling CNN that at least 50 people have been detained after protesting Russian military action. And where did this happen?


This was just outside a ministry of defense building here in the capital, Moscow. Yes, they say around 50 people were arrested. It would seem these were people who were unhappy about Russian military action in Ukraine because they believe that Ukraine is a state, one which Russia has had long-standing, brotherly ties, and they do not want to see any sort of war between these two countries.

Interestingly though, that is also the same feeling that probably motivates I think the majority of Russians to believe that Russia is doing the right thing by intervening militarily in this way. Most Russians do see this brotherly connection with the Russian people who live across the border in Ukraine, particularly in Crimea. There are many people here who really see that region as a natural extension of the Russian motherland. They see it as part of the Russian federation, in heart, if not in actual fact.

So, for that reason, it is politically, I think, a much more popular reason for -- a much popular decision for President Putin to intervene in this way is certainly more popular.

There are some that don't like it, but I think the vast majority here are pretty much on his side.

PAUL: Are there are any concerns or indications that Crimea is not the only focus here, that perhaps Putin wants to push those borders further east into the Ukraine or west rather?

BLACK: We could only use President Putin's own words as something of a guide here because they're certainly not telegraphing their intentions but we know in his conversation with President Obama when he was defending what he said was Russia's right to defend its interests, its people, citizens, and indeed the other cultural and Russian-speaking people who live in this region. He didn't just talk about Crimea in the South. He also spoke of eastern Ukraine, along the Russian border where there is a large Russian-speaking population.

So, although they haven't moved into that region yet, it would seem to indicate, at the very least, they're keeping their options open. It is still possible that this Russian incursion into Ukraine could extend into that eastern region of the country as well.

BLACKWELL: All right. Phil Black for us in Moscow -- Phil, thank you so much.

Let's head now to the Crimean peninsula. That region is certainly independent from Ukraine, fiercely loyal to Russia though.

PAUL: Diana Magnay is in the region's capital of Simferopol.

So, Diana, last hour, we heard, you know, these powerful words in the Ukrainian Prime Minister saying this is a red alert. This is not a threat. It's actually a declaration of war to my country. How are people in Crimea reacting to that?

DIANA MAGNAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, most of the people in Crimea are ethnic Russian and that's why they are aligning themselves far more with President Putin than they do with this new government in Kiev. The new prime minister had some very, very strong words saying that if President Putin wanted war between two friendly countries, then he was just inches away from it.

Let's take a listen to what he said. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ARSENIY YATSENYUK, ACTING UKRAINIAN PRIME MINISTER (through translator): This is the red alert. And this is not the threat. This is actually the declaration of war to my country. And we urge President Putin to pull back his military and to stick to the international obligations.


MAGNAY: Now, Crimea is very ethnically culturally mixed. You do have this ethnic Russian majority, but you also have Tatars and ethnic Ukrainians. They're not really particularly visible in the streets at the moment.

At the moment, the only people I'm managing to talk to are all pro-Russian. They all say, look, what happened in Kiev has nothing to do with us. They were ultra nationalists there, fascists. They talk about the far right party with fear.

They are scared those kind of ultra nationalists will come over to Crimea and spread their ideas here and they don't want that. They want to preserve the Russian language. They want their rights protected and they are scared that this new government doesn't in any way incorporate their wishes and desires, even though, Arseniy Yatsenyuk and his government said they will make amendments on this law on language and that they will try and make much more of an inclusive government to represent delegates from the east and from Crimea. The message doesn't really seem to have trickled down to folks on the ground here.

PAUL: Diana Magnay, thank you so much for bringing us the latest there.

Now, the crisis in Ukraine could impact the upcoming G-8 Summit. That's in Sochi in June. President Obama announced a statement yesterday saying the U.S. will not participate in prep meetings. Not saying he won't go to the G-8 but he's not going to consider even the prep that goes into it at this point.

BLACKWELL: Over the next several months.

And Russia is hosting the June summit, as we said, and a potential boycott would not bode well for Putin and this administration.

Our new White House correspondent Michelle Kosinski joins us.

First, welcome to CNN, Michelle.

PAUL: Welcome to the family.


BLACKWELL: The question here is how are lawmakers responding to the president's decision not to participate in those prep meetings leading up to the G-8?

KOSINSKI: Well, you know, this is really the initial response. What the White House has been doing that we've seen is coordinating that response. We could see in fact another high-level meeting today, similar to what we saw yesterday of the president's security team. You have to remember for the most part the response so far has been simply words, strong statements that the president has made condemning Russia's actions, calling it a violation of Ukrainian sovereignty and violation of Russia's own agreements.

But the president did take that step, as you mentioned, in saying that the U.S. won't participate in those preparatory meetings.

So, even though this is the initial stage of what the U.S. will do now and what message the U.S. will send, there has been some response from Republican lawmakers. One Republican congressman saying that your response should be stronger even at this point, that as the White House is looking at its policy options, maybe it is time now to take some sanctions against Russia, things like restrictions of certain visas for certain officials, limiting travel, limiting financing, things like that. And some are saying that Putin's actions are outlaw antics.

Senator John McCain has been particularly vocal. He put out a statement yesterday. Here's what it said, "Every moment that the United States and our allies fail to respond sends the signal to President Putin that he can be even more ambitious and aggressive in his military intervention in Ukraine. There is a range of serious options at our disposal at this time without the use of military force. I call on President Obama to rally our European and NATO allies to make clear what costs Russia will face for its aggression and to impose those consequences without further delay."

Now, he doesn't articulate what those responses should be, what he thinks they are, but he calls on President Obama to articulate what the costs are because that's what the president said last week, that Russia's actions will lead to costs or consequences. McCain says, what are they right now? We should know what those are right now in formulating what he believes a stronger response to this.

Back to you.

BLACKWELL: I think that's the specifics that so many people are waiting to find out, what are these costs.

Michelle Kosinski, thank you so much. And again, glad to have you at CNN.

KOSINSKI: Thanks so much.

PAUL: Thanks, Michelle.

BLACKWELL: So, still ahead: the weather in the U.S. is causing problems on the East Coast, the West Coast. We'll start out west with the heavy downpour in California. So much mud. Just really pulling people out of their homes. Thousands forced to evacuate. We're going to show you more of these pictures and how life has really become difficult for folks there.

PAUL: Yes, it's a really dangerous situation across the country this morning. But you know what? We've also got the polar plunge. We'll tell you why funny man Jimmy Fallon and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel are jumping into freezing water in the middle of winter.


BLACKWELL: Well, they wanted rain, but not this, not this much. This downpour has left behind a flooded, muddy mess there in California and this is what it looks like across Los Angeles.

PAUL: In fact, a TV reporter got more than he expected while he was reporting on the mudslides. Miguel Almaguer with NBC News waded into deep -- waist-deep mud. Then he got stuck and rescuers had to use a shovel to get him out. Glad he's OK. But you're right.

But after that, police ordered all news media and residents to just get out of the area.

BLACKWELL: Yes, the things we do for a good live shot. It was good though.

PAUL: It was good. Like I said, glad he made it out.

BLACKWELL: That damn groundhog was right.


PAUL: How do you really feel!

BLACKWELL: That's how I feel! It's March. I was hoping that we'd get some sunshine and some warmth, but Punxsutawney did it to us.

PAUL: Yes. Blame him. That's it, blame him. Not old man winter.

The thing is, this is actually a very dangerous storm, we should point out, right, Karen Maginnis?

KAREN MAGINNIS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: It really is. You are looking at some pictures there. Let's go ahead and put up St. Louis.

Since we looked at it just about 45 minutes ago, the visibility has gone way down in St. Louis. You are getting snow right now but don't be fooled. The snow will be mixed with ice or some sleet as we go through the evening hours.

Your temperature right now in St. Louis is 17. It looks like it's all downhill for the afternoon. Those temperatures will be dropping.

A very messy, very dangerous weather situation developing, all the way from the panhandle of Texas, in through Oklahoma, northern Arkansas. Much of Missouri, in Cape Girardeau, they are reporting an inch to inch and a half of ice. We zoom in across this region where you see the pink shaded area, that's where we've got some snow, a little bit further to the south it changes over to ice.

But nonetheless across the Ohio River Valley, extending into the Central Alleghenies, and the mid-Atlantic -- and the mid-Atlantic in this situation does also apply to New York City.

Now, New York City for later on this afternoon you are looking at some ice. Looks like a few inches of snow, maybe not quite as much as we were anticipating yesterday, but the roads are going to be extremely hazardous.

And temperature-wise, it doesn't even feel like March. Doesn't look like March. Double-digit below zero readings. Not windchill factors. It's minus 19 in Minot. It's minus 3 in Omaha. Minneapolis is minus 4. It is so cold. Be careful out there. Roads are very dangerous.

Back to you guys.

PAUL: Thank you for the red light warning there. Wow, brutal.

BLACKWELL: Speaking of the snow, check out the ceremonial kickoff of the world famous Iditarod dog race in Alaska. OK. The real race starts in about six hours but this was fun to watch.

Sixty-nine brave men and women and their dogs raced nearly 1,000 miles across some of the most extreme terrain on earth.

PAUL: They are such beautiful dogs.

BLACKWELL: Yes, they are. I would love one day just to watch that race or visit, at least. It is on the list.

PAUL: You don't want the cold. And you're going to talk about -- I'd go there to see that.

BLACKWELL: Here's the thing though. I'll visit it on my terms. Don't come to me. I'll come to you.

PAUL: Speaking of that, Toronto's crack-smoking mayor is getting a dose of Hollywood this weekend. I'm wondering if we should say Hollywood is getting a dose of him.

BLACKWELL: I don't know if we should use the word "dose."


PAUL: True.

BLACKWELL: But he's coming to Los Angeles. We'll show you what happened when he landed at LAX and who ran into baggage claim to help.



REPORTER: Which celebrity are you most excited to meet?



JIMMY KIMMEL, COMEDIAN: How are you? Welcome to Los Angeles.

FORD: Thank you so much.

KIMMEL: You have luggage?

FORD: I have a little bit, yes.

KIMMEL: Well, let me take that from you. I'm your driver.



PAUL: That's Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, as you see there. What a surprise. I mean, what would you do, if you got into baggage claim at Los Angeles International Airport and your chauffeur was none other than Jimmy Kimmel?

BLACKWELL: I just go with him. Just put the bags on the cart.

So, Ford is set to appear on Kimmel's late night talk show, Monday night at the host's personal invitation.

PAUL: I'm still waiting to see if they're going to show up at the Oscars somehow. Interesting.

Rahm Emanuel and funny man Jimmy Fallon -- good luck to them.

BLACKWELL: It is a great start when you have those two.

PAUL: They are taking the polar plunge. Yes, both of them. They're in Chicago, jumping into the really chilly water there obviously.

BLACKWELL: You know what's going on with the weather in Chicago. There's already snow on the ground. This all started as a Twitter challenge to get the mayor to visit the "Tonight Show", but now, they're actually going through with this.

Organizers of the special Olympics fund-raiser credit Fallon and Rahm Emanuel feud for the big jump in sign-ups.

PAUL: I'm wondering what they're going to wear, too, if we see people like that, 700 more people registered this year.

BLACKWELL: Jimmy said online he's going to wear his full suit, coat and tie, on Twitter. I don't know if he's going to do that but that's at least what he suggested. PAUL: Be careful what you say on Twitter, people, because this is what happens.

BLACKWELL: It's true.

PAUL: When you take Twitter.

Chicago's high temperature today -- by the way, 20 degrees.

BLACKWELL: Twenty degrees is the high.

PAUL: Yikes!

All righty. You're going to learn a lot more about Mayor Rahm Emanuel and how he is changing the city. In a CNN original series "Chicagoland". It's from executive producer Robert Redford. "Chicagoland" premiers Thursday, 10:00 p.m. Eastern, 9:00 central, right here on CNN.

BLACKWELL: We're taking you back to the situation in Ukraine. World powers, including the U.S., are suspending some preparations for the upcoming G-8 Summit in Sochi, Russia.

PAUL: "STATE OF THE UNION" host Candy Crowley is in Washington this morning.

So, Candy, how influential might this leverage be?

CANDY CROWLEY, "STATE OF THE UNION" HOST: Probably not a lot. I mean the fact of the matter is that Crimea is much more valuable to Putin than a summit. So, if it comes to that, certainly the importance of the region to him, which is right next to Russia. Russia has always seen Crimea as the place that belongs to them -- although obviously treaties say differently. But nonetheless, as you all have been reporting, majority of Russian speaking folks in the Crimea.

So, this is much more important to him than a summit is. Certainly, it's a big statement of unity if they all agree not to go. On the other hand, it is not a statement that is likely to change Putin's mind about an area in the world which he is very attached and to which Russians are very attached.

BLACKWELL: All right. Candy, thanks. We'll see you in about 35 minutes.

CROWLEY: Thanks.

BLACKWELL: Stay here for "STATE OF THE UNION." It starts at the top of the hour, 9:00 a.m. Eastern right here on CNN. And we'll be right back.


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi, Ellen, thank you for having me here. It is so nice to be here and not in Russia. I mean can you believe all this was in Russia?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. Now, did you have a hard time there at all?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, no, no, no. I just sort of blended in. By the end I actually looked like a real local.

Look here. This is a photo of me on the streets of Sochi. You can barely even see me, right? It was like gay wears Waldo.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, now I love the way you dress. I feel like every time I sigh, you're wearing something new and crazy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, not every of time.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you sure? Because it kind of feels like every time?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think you're exaggerating, Ellen.



PAUL: Even as great as they did, I still see Sheldon in there.

BLACKWELL: It is Sheldon, "Big Bang Theory."

So, they took a stab there at the recent chat between Ellen DeGeneres and figure skater Johnny Weir.

Speaking of Ellen, of course. She is hosting the big show tonight.

PAUL: The big show being the Oscars, just hours away. Hollywood's getting ready. So, I'm sure we're going to see what she has up her sleeve. That will be good.

BLACKWELL: The awards program is being billed as one of the biggest shows ever. These toes are typically big.

And for the very first time it will be streamed live online.

PAUL: Goo to know. Of course, all eyes are going to be on who wins best picture. Nine films vying for the top prize. "Gravity" and "American Hustle" topped overall list of contenders with 10 nominations a piece

BLACKWELL: And you can countdown to the Oscars tonight with CNN. Oscar special "Hollywood's Biggest: The Road to Gold" airs 6:00. And then after the Oscars, beginning at midnight, join Nischelle Turner and Piers Morgan for our live post show and the winner is. A lot of excitement tonight. PAUL: No kidding.

BLACKWELL: So, we're going to watch that.

PAUL: All right. So, it is a good night to hunker down because this weather is so nasty. So, take good care of yourself out in this weather, go make some good memories and we're so grateful that you some tip without today.

BLACKWELL: Absolutely. Thanks for starting your Sunday morning with us here at NEW DAY SUNDAY.