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Russia Seizes Crimea; Interview with Rep. Marcy Kaptur; Interview with Former NATO Ambassador Nicholas Burns; D.C. At Bullseye of Winter Storm; And The Oscar Goes To...; Blade Runner Trial in South Africa

Aired March 3, 2014 - 07:00   ET



CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to NEW DAY. It's Monday, March 3rd, seven o'clock in the east now. We're going to start with our news blast, the most news you can get anywhere. Let's go.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is actually declaration of war to my country.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's an incredible act of aggression.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I call on Russia to deescalate tensions.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A nasty mix of winter weather is wreaking havoc for 90 million people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everything just sort of went out of control.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- South Africa's child of the century.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How do you plead?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And the Oscar goes to --




CUOMO: The big news to watch this morning starts with a question, is Russia invading Ukraine right now? It's a troubling thought that seems to be becoming reality as unidentified armed men just launched an assault on a military base in Crimea. The attackers got into the arms depot using sound grenades, but Ukrainian troops then managed to keep control. There have also been a series of attacks on several border posts.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Russia's occupation of Crimea has Ukraine's new leaders putting troops on alert. Troops are being mobilized after what Ukraine called an act of war by the Russians. And despite being urged by the former head of Ukraine's navy to defect on Sunday, troops instead maintained their ale allegiance to Ukraine and sang the national anthem on their base.

CUOMO: So what will the U.S. do? In a show of support for Ukraine Secretary of State John Kerry will visit Kiev tomorrow. He's warned Russia that it faces eviction from the G-8 and other measures if the troops don't pull out of Crimea. This will be Kerry's first trip to Ukraine as the nation's top diplomat. So what is the situation there on the ground? Joining us from Kiev is CNN's Anderson Cooper, the host of "AC 360." Anderson, thank you for joining us. I know you've just touched down. What have you been able to figure out on the ground?

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST, "AC 360": Well, it's obviously an incredibly tense situation here in Kiev. As you said, the government here, this is a shaky government at best. There's an interim prime minister and interim president. They've only recently taken command of the country, so obviously this is the last thing in the world they wanted to be facing, a military incursion, or what appears to be certainly Russian troops on the ground, in effect in control in the Crimea.

As you said, in the last 24 hours, even overnight hours here Sunday night, we have seen attempts to take over at least one arms depot. Shots were fired by Ukrainian forces, according by Ukrainian forces, into the air. Stun sound grenades were used. One Ukrainian military official was injured in that attempt.

There were people outside, about 10 bases in the Crimea which have Russian troops or pro-Russian forces or Russian personnel surrounding those bases. So it's a very tense situation. As you said, the government here in Kiev has called up reserves. Reserves are going to be called up starting today, be trained for a 10-day period. But clearly Ukraine does not have the military capabilities to oust the Russian forces from Crimea.

The real question is what are Russia's intentions? Do they intend to go further east into eastern Ukraine, into Russian-speaking parts of eastern Ukraine? That would obviously be a major escalation. But at this point they are in the Crimean region, but it is an extremely difficult situation for the government here in Kiev to try to deal with, Chris.

CUOMO: And obviously the focus has shifted a little bit there from the capital down to the Crimean peninsula. Any sense you're getting from whether or not the people there have faith in this interim government or are they all expecting some type of major change?

COOPER: Look, there's not a lot of -- there's not a huge sense of whether this government is really going to be able to deal with the situation. By the way, the sound behind me is from the Independence Square, where you still have people coming 24 hours a day, you have speakers still speaking, people coming to pay their respect over people who died here over the last two weeks or so. There's not a lot of faith. It's a very shaky situation. As I said, this is an interim government, an interim prime minister, an interim president. They had hoped to be focusing on economic issues and have actual elections down the road. It's hard to see how they're going to have elections when there are Russian forces on the ground outside their bases in Crimea. So there's not a lot of confidence -- there's certainly a lot of support here in Kiev we've seen people ling up to sign up for military service, but at this point it's just -- they've just called up the reserves and that's going to be like a 10-day period of training.

CUOMO: Thank you for joining us. I know you just got there. We look forward to following your reporting. It's good to have our best on the ground. Thanks for being with us, Anderson. Kate?

BOLDUAN: So as the tensions rise, President Obama and other western leaders are scrambling to find a strong enough diplomatic response. CNN's Michelle Kosinski is live at the White House with that very important angel to this story. What's the very latest Michelle?

MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: President Obama and the national security team worked through the weekend on the Ukraine situation, the president taking calls with the leaders of six countries, including Russia. And now the administration is sending Secretary of State John Kerry to Ukraine tonight to meet with leaders of the new government and pledge U.S. support, including financially.

A senior administration official has made it very clear that, in their words, "Russia has badly miscalculated." Sending troops to Crimea was a terrible choice that will only leave Russia severely isolated if this continues. The U.S. has suspended upcoming trade talks with Russia. The entire G-7 group of nations has suspended meeting leading up to the G-8 summit to be held in Russia. Kate?

CUOMO: What's the discussion going about what could possibly happen here. Let's bring in Ohio congresswoman Marcy Kaptur. She's co-chair of the Congressional Ukrainian caucus. Also we have former undersecretary of state and former U.S. ambassador to NATO Mr. Nicholas Burns. Thank you both for joining us this morning. Congresswoman, let me start with you, interesting contrast for you in this situation. Your family emigrated from Ukraine, you had an uncle who was in the gulag for 20 years. And yet you say with the benefit of perspective you understand Russia's military posture in Crimea. Why?

REP. MARCY KAPTUR, (R) OHIO: Well, first of all, I join with all of my colleagues and President Obama in condemning the incursion of Russia into Crimea in violation of all treaties of all alliances that she has. As a permanent member of the United Nations, this is absolutely the most serious test of our alliances since the cold war ended. So this is a very dangerous situation. Ukraine is a weak state and Russia is taking advantage of that.

Having said that, Crimea is home to her Black Sea fleet, and the treaty that she has with Ukraine expires in 2017. This is not the way for Russia to plod her way forward in that region of the world. So it's a very unfortunate set of circumstances, very dangerous and one in which the world community is rightly taking a deep interest. So I commend the president for his work with -- I'd like to say G-8 but it looks like G-7 at this point. I'm glad the president is talking along with Mrs. Merkel of Germany to president Putin. Those discussions need to continue. But the world community has to pay attention, support Ukraine's military in its effort to defend its homeland.

CUOMO: Now, let's pick up on that, former ambassador, because even though the congresswoman is rightly referring to Russia as "she" in the vernacular, it's really about "he" right now, Vladimir Putin. And this does seem to be a bold extension of influence and a rekindling of Russia's power over that region. Is it time to call it that's what it is? The U.S. has been denying that reality. Do we have to own that, and will that help us figure out what to do here?

NICHOLAS BURNS, FMR. U.S. AMBASSADOR TO NATO: This is certainly an invasion of a sovereign country by Russia, by Vladimir Putin. It's contrary to the U.N. charter. It's contrary to international law. So President Obama has a very tough job here. He's going to have to lead. He's the strongest NATO leader.

I think, Chris, this will be the most significant international crisis of his presidency to date. You can see what he's trying to do. He's trying to assemble world leaders to condemn what Putin is doing, first. Second, he's trying to build up sanctions against Putin. It won't stop Putin's army but it will isolate Putin and kicking Russia out of the G-8 or suspending that G-8 meeting in Sochi in June is a step like that.

And as you noted in the earlier part of the program, Secretary of State Kerry will go to Kiev tomorrow to stand with that new government and show solidarity. And I think he'll be bringing an American aid package and we hope the Europeans will do that. The administration hopes that this diplomatic, economic pressure is going to push Putin back a little and isolate him. It won't stop his military invasion. He has taken the Crimea. I don't think he's going to give it back.

CUOMO: But the question becomes, is that acceptable? The word we keep hearing is "leverage." I want both of your takes on this. Talk has proven, if not cheap, meaningless to Vladimir Putin in the last six to 12 months. Where is the confidence you can say anything to the head of Russia who doesn't seem to care about their relationship with the west, who doesn't seem to care specifically about the U.S. or its president?

KAPTUR: I think --

BURNS: I think that's right.

KAPTUR: Excuse me.

CUOMO: Go ahead, congresswoman.

KAPTUR: All right. I think that we as a world community have to stand tall against what Russia has done. And that means that the diplomatic process is proceeding forward, rightfully so. I want to compliment Secretary Kerry for going there tomorrow. I think I've traveled to Ukraine more than any other member of the congress and have met with more of their parliamentarians over the years.

We have to help shore up that state working through the United Nations, the OSCE, and the countries around the world where there are large numbers of the Ukrainian diaspora. More people live outside Ukraine than in Ukraine because of the tragedies of the 20th center and what happened there. Whether it's Portugal, Kazakhstan, or Poland, these countries to unite and provide a bulwark to assist Ukraine at this very critical Thermidor period in history where she's between governments and where the administrative capabilities of that country are fairly weak.

CUOMO: And let me just stay with you, congresswoman, because of your deep understanding of the people there, if this isn't resolved through talk and the invasion does proceed past the peninsula, how horrible do you believe the conflict may have become? Do you see the Ukraine maybe facing an east-west split? Or do you see it just an all-out civil war?

KAPTUR: I think it is extremely dangerous. Ukrainians fight and Russians fight, and the history of the 20th century is that there is no place on earth where the soil is more blood-soaked than there. And so there is a moral responsibility for our world. The United Nations should be working overtime to try to deescalate the tensions there.

I'm so disappointed in Russia. This was not the way to proceed. and right after the Olympics, we hoped for a different kind of world. I would have to say we did not -- this particular type of incursion had been thought about by our own government. We were concerned about it. You can read different State Department memos on that point.

But Russia in some ways was isolated and felt vulnerable, and part of the problem is the weakness the Ukrainian state. Again, my plea for the world community, particularly the OSCE and the United Nations, the European Union to do what is necessary to strengthen the existing government of Ukraine.

CUOMO: So former ambassador, let's end on this -- if I'm Russia and you are NATO or pick whatever western influence, or if it just has to be the United States who fronts it, what can be said to me that can get me to back off where I am right now and to just get me to deal with negotiations?

BURNS: Putin's not going to back off. Talk won't make him do that. He's taken the Crimea. The question is, will he stop there? And the danger is that if ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine call on him for support in other cities, he may respond to that. So what can President Obama do? Be very tough minded in opposition. We're not going to follow and should not follow a military policy. This has to be diplomatic. But strengthening NATO and reaffirming the NATO commitment to the vulnerable states of eastern Europe who are NATO members, former Soviet satellites, that's something I think you'll see Secretary Kerry and the president do. So we have to push back in a very artful way, diplomatic way, hope in the long term to outmaneuver him. But he's taken the Crimea. He has won round one of this battle. CUOMO: Congresswoman, former ambassador, thank you very much for the perspective. Is there something you wanted to end with, congresswoman?

KAPTUR: I wanted to just say it's very important for us to send observers to Ukraine now. We have relationships through our guard with her military. I think we need to think very strategically with our European allies and allies around the world in how we add strength to Ukraine's forces in the form of observers, in the form of advice, and assist her at this really critical moment, the most critical moment she has faced since 1991 with the fall of the Soviet Union.

CUOMO: Thank you for the perspective. I know it's personal and political for you. Certainly Russia has made the assessment that the Ukraine is certainly vulnerable. Thank you to both of you. The conversation will continue, to be sure. Kate?

BOLDUAN: Also happening today, President Obama meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House. They're expected to talk about Iran's nuclear program and also discuss progress toward an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement. Netanyahu will be speaking at the AIPAC conference while in Washington, the annual meeting for the pro-Israeli lobbying group there.

And North Korea has freed an Australian missionary who was detained last month. And 75-year-old John Short was accused of secretly spreading Bible tracks around the country. North Korea is famously atheist. You will remember North Korea has charged an American, Kenneth Bae, with doing something similar in trying to taking down the government with religious activities.

Also breaking overnight with regard to North Korea, just hours before Short's release, North Korea test fired two short range missiles into the sea, the second such launch in less than a week.

CUOMO: More trouble for the U.S. Afghan president Hamid Karzai is talking to American newspaper for the first time in two years, and he is slamming the U.S. government. Karzai tells "The Washington Post" that the, quote, "common cause" he shared with the U.S. is gone thanks to civilian causalities. And he says U.S. forces should have focused on hitting Taliban havens in Pakistan and less on Afghan villages. Karzai has refused to sign a security pact with Washington that would keep some U.S. troops in the country beyond 2014.

BOLDUAN: Now to the latest round of arctic cold, the eastern U.S. getting hammered once again. The worst of the storm is expected to be in the D.C. area. Schools and some hard hit spots are closed today, and more than 2,000 flights have already been canceled. Meteorologist Indra Petersons is tracking it all for us live on the Washington mall in Washington. How's it looking now, Indra?

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: OK, the snow continues to fall, the winds continue to howl out here, but the biggest change we're noticing is, again, all the rain, or the puddles that were left on the ground from earlier morning's rain before the snow came in, is now starting to freeze over. So you're really seeing this difference. Why is that so key? Because, gain, I'll walk you over to the roads where you can tell there's still a lot of now rain turning into ice, making these roads very dangerous and slick.

So it's good news that the Capitol and the government is shut down today. Keep in mind, it looks like D.C. is going to be the bulls eye of this storm. Now, earlier thought was that it was going to be farther north. So if you're in New York City, now just looking at about under an inch. But today in D.C., we could talk about almost a foot of snow in this region, also in portions of Virginia. Keep in mind, it's going to keep coming down as we go throughout the day, not tapering off today until about 7 to 9 p.m. And then finally will exit out of the region. Behind it, though, it's going to be leaving a lot of icy conditions into the southeast. There, power outages already into play. Big concern as even more cold air is filling in behind it, guys.

CUOMO: All right, Indra. Thank you for letting us know the situation there. On to another place that's just getting pummeled by weather, Philadelphia. The people there are tough but even they have had about enough. The last few storms have hit them just so hard. The city's mayor is declaring a snow emergency this time around. Let's pick up there with Alexandra Field in Philadelphia for us. What's the situation, Alexandra?

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDNET: Chris, a couple more inches of snow falling overnight. You're right, people in Philadelphia have had enough because they've already had about five feet of snowfall over the course of the winter.

This is what it looks like out here this morning, a sight that is all too familiar. The big trouble with this storm is the fact that when it came in last night, we saw some rain, we some sleet. That's led to some of the icing out on the road, which is why the mayor of Philadelphia decided to go just ahead and cancel schools this morning.

Now, believe it or not, this is not yet a record setting winter. A record setting winter is 79 inches of snow. 65 inches is second best and this storm should actually put the city within striking distance of that number. We could see a couple more inches of snowfall this morning. The good news is that it stops by this afternoon. The bad news is that it is then replaced by near record cold. Kate?

BOLDUAN: All right, Alexandra, thank you very much. Let's now take a look out west where a daring helicopter rescue saved four stranded hikers from rising waters in California. Severe weather had kept rescue crews away, but a Los Angeles County sheriff spokesman says the helicopter was able to break through the weather system and air lift them out, thankfully. In messages that were sent just before their cell phone batteries died, the hikes are said they were cold but not injured.

CUOMO: A big deadline today for two former staffers of Governor Chris Christie. Bridget Kelly and Bill Stepien, both now fired, have refused to comply with subpoenas in the Bridgegate investigation. Today their lawyers have to defend their refusal and explain why they don't have to turn over documents. Christie cut ties with Kelly after her infamous e-mail, "Time now for some traffic problems in Ft. Lee." And that went public.

BOLDUAN: Osama bin Laden's son-in-law is going on trial for terrorism today in Manhattan. He's a high ranking former al Qaeda spokesman and is charged with conspiring to kill Americans. Several al Qaeda figures could testify in court just blocks from Ground Zero. Critics of all this have argued the trial should be held in military court.

CUOMO: All right, let's get over to Michaela and Nischelle. They're both over in Beverly Hills. That's the place to be if, you know, care about the Oscars, and everybody does. Good morning, my friends, you look amazing given the long night.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Oh, what long night? It's just an early morning, that's all it is.

Let's take a look at the Oscar edition of what's trending. The searing period drama "12 Years A Slave" took the top honor on Sunday, winning Best Picture. It was a historical win for the film, making it the first movie from a black director to win the academy's highest honor. And after dominating the awards season, Matthew McConaughey won the Best Actor award for his riveting performance in that fantastic film, "Dallas Buyers Club." Cate Blanchett earned top honors for her role in "Blue Jasmine".


NISCHELLE TURNER, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and Michaela, rising star Lupita Nyong'o earned her first Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. It was a breakout season for the Kenyan actress who made her film debut in "12 Years A Slave".


LUPITA NYONG'O, ACTRESS: Thank you so much for putting me in this position. It has been the joy of my life.


TURNER: Pure joy. And actor Jared Leto took home the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his role in "Dallas Buyers Club".

PEREIRA: And a big oops you could say fom John Travolta, when he introduced Broadway star Idina Menzel before she sang that Oscar- winning song, "Let It Go". Kind of butchered her name. Take a listen.


JOHN TRAVOLTA, ACTOR: Please welcome the wickedly talented one and only Adele Nazim.


PEREIRA: It kind of sounds like he Adele Nazim, but Ellen Degeneres corrected the mistaken after Menzel's tremendous performance. TURNER: Yes, and you know what? If there was an award for the clumsiest actress, it'd have to go to Jennifer Lawrence. She had another Oscars misstep by tripping on the red carpet. Yes. You remember last year when she tripped over her dress while going up the stairs to accept her Best Actress Oscar, we're looking at that on the screen. Well, history repeated herself on Sunday. She was seen falling to her knees on the red carpet after tripping as she got out of her limo. The thing I love about her, though, Michaela, she laughs it off.

PEREIRA: Those dresses are hard to walk in.

TURNER: Oh, you tell me.

PEREIRA: Host Ellen Degeneres, did you hear? She crashed Twitter. She set a goal of setting a retweet record during last night's performance -- or ceremony, rather. She gathered quite the group of A-listers -- you see Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, Meryl Streep to name just a few -- and took this epic Oscar selfie. Yes, that right there retweeted more than 2 million times and it actually disrupted Twitter service for about 20 minutes. It also broke the retweet record set by President Obama with this picture of him hugging the First Lady.

So how about that? Just a few things trending from the Oscars and from Los Angeles. Kate, Chris?

BOLDUAN: It is pretty amazing to see all those famous faces in that photo. And Bradley Cooper did a good job. It's hard to take a selfie with that many people in it.

CUOMO: She took a shot at him but I think he did a good job. Jennifer Lawrence I think gets unfairly picked on. She's like the football player who's fumbled a couple times and now just they look at her all the time. I think they all fall down and we just don't report it.

BOLDUAN: No, I think she falls, but that's OK. It's part of her charm.

CUOMO: Coming up on NEW DAY -- I stick with my take -- breaking this morning, a trial everyone's going to be watching, Blade Runner Oscar Pistorius on trial for shooting his model girlfriend, killing her. We're going to bring you the latest in live report.


BOLDUAN: Welcome back. In South Africa they're calling it the trial of the century. Today Oscar Pistorius, the Blade Runner as he was known, the first double amputee ever to compete in the Olympics, is on trial for shooting his model girlfriend to death. This morning, court is in session and we're finally learning how Pistorius is pleading to charges of premeditated murder.

CNN's Robyn Curnow is in Pretoria, been following this all from the very beginning. We know that court picked back up after a lunch break but a lot has already has already happened this morning.

ROBYN CURNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It has. What a morning. All in this courtroom behind me, we heard Oscar Pistorius plead not guilty to that count of murder, as well as other charges that are related to mistakes or however you would describe it with guns. And all the while, just remember, Reeva Steenkamp's family, her mother particularly, sitting on the same bench as Pistorius's family looking on.

Take a look at this.


CURNOW (voiceover): Walking through throngs of international media on hand for what's being called South Africa's trial for the century, a much different type of attention for the man who won hearts as the brave Olympic winner.

JUDGE: How do you plead?


CURNOW: Inside court, Oscar appears to face charges of premeditated murder in the death of his 29-year-old girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp a little over a year ago on Valentine's Day 2013.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) girlfriend, and other side (INAUDIBLE) to come to Oscar's house, trying to make sense of what's wrong. No, no, someone's shot, someone's shot. So I initially thought it was Oscar that had been shot. No, no, no, no, Reeva's been shot.

CURNOW: The events that unfolded that night inside Pistorius's home will be scrutinized by both the judge and the media in the coming weeks.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At the time of the tragic accident that led to Reeva's death, we're in a loving relationship.

CURNOW: Pistorius maintains it was a tragic mistake, claiming he believed Steenkamp was an intruder. In an affidavit, he said, "I grabbed my 9 millimeter pistol from underneath my bed and fired shots at the toilet door and shouted to Reeva to phone the police."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The gunshot wound sustained by the deceased were inflicted by the accused.

CURNOW: But the state says he aimed to murder. The ballistics, the blood splatter and evidence from witnesses, they say will prove that.

After staying away from Pistorius's previous court appearances, Reeva Steenkamp's mother, June, vowed to face the man charged with her daughter's death. Her family says they're looking for closure.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not about the court case. It's about Reeva, and Reeva can never be part of it.


CURNOW (on camera): OK, now the first witness has been cross-examined in court at the moment. I heard her a little bit earlier describing how she heard bloodcurdling screams, screams, a cry for help from a man and then four gunshots, bang, bang, bang, bang, she said. The cross-examiner is now saying well your husband heard a different amount of gunshots.

That's what's happening now; I'm going to keep you updated throughout the morning. Back to you guys.

CUOMO: Robyn, such a complex case, boy, you only have this one real witness, and she's remote. They're going to have to deal with Pistorius and deal with whether his story's presented at trial. It's something to watch. Thanks for the reporting.

Coming up on NEW DAY, Ukraine thinks it is on the brink of war. Russian troops have defied warnings and they are moving into the country while the rest of the world chooses sides. Is the Cold War being rekindled? Can the U.S. make Russia do anything? Answers ahead.

BOLDUAN: Also ahead, Jared Leto was one of last night's big Oscar winners. He also gave arguably one of the most emotional speeches of the night. CNN talked to him one-on-one and find out what he's up to next.