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Violence in Ukraine; Powerball Fever

Aired February 19, 2014 - 15:00   ET


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And that includes making sure that the Ukrainian military does not step into what should be a set of issues that can be resolved by civilians.

So the United States will continue to engage with all sides in the dispute in Ukraine. And, ultimately, our interest is to make sure that the Ukrainian people can express their own desires.

And we believe that a large majority of Ukrainians are interested in an integration with Europe and the commerce and cultural exchanges that are possible for them to expand opportunity and prosperity. But, regardless of how the Ukrainian people determine their own future, it is important that it's the people themselves that make those decisions. And that's what the United States will continue to strive to achieve.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: So that is the end of what we have now heard from President Obama down in Mexico reacting to the fiery scenes in Independence Square in the capital city of Ukraine.

The violence, the political violence has also been erupting really around the world today. These capital cities normally peaceful, they are under fire. You have anti-government protesters, they're seizing the streets from Caracas, Venezuela, which we will get to.

As we have been talking about Ukraine in Kiev and also in Bangkok in Thailand, protesters taking parts of the city there as well.

But let's begin in Ukraine, Kiev, the capital city roughly the size of Chicago. It's smoldering right now. Look at this, The fires and the smoke. These are pictures from today, fires still raging and dozens are dead, hundred more injured, and the numbers continue to rise.

Most of the injured are protesters. Many have been hurt, killed. And some have just disappeared. Police and security personnel there tossing Molotov cocktails at civilians, shooting people in the middle of the streets, like the man you're about to see.

Just a warning. The video you are about to see is graphic. If you need to turn away, do so right now. And this is video just into us here at CNN shows a woman shot to the ground, seriously injured. You see the blood. Washington has called the Ukrainian president not once, not twice, three times with the same message. Government forces, pull back and de-escalate the violence. The protests first flared up back in November when the president of the Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych, he backed out of the popular trade deal with the European Union.

Instead, he chose closer ties to Russia, to the president there, Vladimir Putin, and that was a move that angered a lot of people in Ukraine who want to have closer ties to the West, to Europe, to the U.S.

So, let's bring in our senior White House correspondent, Jim Acosta, who is with the president in Mexico, and also hot of "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS," Fareed Zakaria himself.

But, Jim Acosta, let me begin with you, because we just turned around that sound from the president. It sounds like he is saying the people in Kiev should be able to speak freely and the answer is not violence.


And keep in mind this was not supposed to be on the president's agenda coming down to this the summit of the North American leaders. He's meeting today with the president of Mexico and the prime minister of Canada. And yet world events have intervened and the president is responding. You saw the president made those comments there with his national security adviser, Susan Rice, not too far away.

And one particular thing jumped out at me, Brooke, during those comments, and that is when the president said there would be consequences in Ukraine if people step over the line. And that of course will draw comparisons, invite comparisons, has already invited comparisons to that red line President Obama drew with respect to Syria when he warned the regime of Bashar al-Assad don't use chemical weapons.

Then of course, when it was widely reported that Bashar al-Assad's forces did use chemical weapons, the president came very close to using military action against that country and then pulled back, choosing the diplomatic route. You have to wonder now what the president will do with respect to Ukraine, what he can do, especially when the Ukrainian government, as you just mentioned, Brooke, seems to be cozying up to Vladimir Putin, who has been a nemesis of President Obama on the world stage, not just in Ukraine, but in Syria as well.

BALDWIN: OK, Jim Acosta with the president's comments there in Mexico.

Fareed Zakaria, big picture here. I want to you just explain to the viewer here in the United States as we look at the -- I feel like the map really tells this geographic story, because you have Ukraine and then Russia and then the West. And it really is -- they are stuck in the middle literally but also figurative, politically speaking. It's this back and forth, back and forth. This is not new, correct?


If you look at that map, you can see that Kiev is very close to Russia. The modern-day Russia, the Russian empire in many ways started in Kiev. Ukraine has been part of Russia for 300 years. This is a very complicated relationship. Many, many Russians, many Russian friends of mine who are very liberal still think of Ukraine as almost an essential part of Russia or an extension of Russia.

And there are parts of Ukraine, by the way, that are very pro-Russian. Ukraine is split in half between a Catholic side which is on the west, orthodox side which is on the east. The Eastern Ukraine tends to be more pro-Russian and Western Ukraine tends to be more pro-Western. Some of this is old news, by which I mean there is a younger generation of Ukrainians that clearly wants to be part of the modern world, clearly wants to be part of the West.

But there are these old ties and that's why you have this tussle, west vs. east. It's almost like watching the Cold War all over again and that is what makes this one, these extraordinary pictures we're seeing, so different from what we saw in Egypt or any of these other protests. This one has true geopolitical -- and a dimension to it, because you do have great powers on either side, Europe and the United States on the one side and Russia on the other.

BALDWIN: Let's talk about the relationship outside of Ukraine, Russia. How about Russia and the U.S.? And then there was that sort of infamous F-bomb, right, dropped not too long along, Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland. She is talking on the phone to the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine. Here's part of that conversation.


VICTORIA NULAND, U.S. ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE: That would be great I think to help glue this thing and have the U.N. help glue it. And (EXPLETIVE DELETED) the E.U.


I think we have to do something to make it stick it together, because you can pretty sure that if it does start to gain altitude, the Russians will be working behind the scenes to try to torpedo it.


BALDWIN: The it here is the fighting as we have been describing which has now sort of blown out there in Independence Square.

But explain to me what we think she is saying going around the E.U. Is she saying let's just take this U.S. and handle this U.S. and Ukraine?

ZAKARIA: The European Union has not been very -- has not been trying to win the Ukrainians away from the Russians very hard and they put their own set of conditions, so the U.S. has felt a little frustrated that the Europeans are not -- don't realize they really have to offer a bigger carrot.

But remember, as you could hear in that conversation, the big issue is Obama vs. Putin and United States vs. Russia, because Henry Kissinger said on my show a couple of weeks ago Vladimir Putin probably views what is going on in Ukraine as U.S.-inspired and a dress rehearsal for what they would like to do in Moscow. In other words, that Washington is encouraging a kind of regime change in Ukraine and our hope is that eventually regime change in Russia. Whether or not that's true, that was Kissinger's view of how Putin is probably looking at the situation. The stakes are very high for Russia. They don't want to let Ukraine out of their sphere of influence.

But the stakes are very high for Putin because if the elected president of Ukraine can be overthrown by a popular revolution, that sounds a lot like the elected president of Russia and his opposition.

BALDWIN: You have the Putin-Obama relationship, which to use an adjective, tense. Maybe that's putting it nicely.

You just heard the president, our president speaking in Mexico to Jim Acosta's point saying there could be consequences. How may that play out between the U.S.-Russia relations?

ZAKARIA: It's a very good question, Brooke, and it's a very tough one.

I think Jim pointed out exactly the danger. You don't want to make a threat that you can't carry out. What are we going to do if something were to actually happen? We will send troops into Kiev? Of course not. Are the Europeans going to send troops? What we could do is sanctions. That is meaningful because Ukraine is a real trading company, unlike Syria, where those kinds of things are meaningless, but what would sanctions do?

They would drive further into Russia's arms, because if they can't trade with the West anymore, the Ukrainians would trade more and more with Russia and their economy would be get even more closely tied with Russia. Do we want really that? We have to think through what is the best strategic way to deal with this?

Probably there is no getting around the fact that we would have to have some kind of dialogue with the Russians to try to figure out how we can allow Ukraine to have real independence and have a real relationship with the West in a way that Russia considered acceptable, because if the Russians viewed this as totally unacceptable, I don't quite see what levers we have that can force Ukraine out of Russia's hands.

BALDWIN: A dialogue with the Russians. Fareed Zakaria, thank you.

Watch Fareed every Sunday on CNN 10:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. Eastern, Fareed Zakaria for me.

Also keep in mind, thousands of Americans live in Ukraine and one American teaching in Kiev right now took these pictures you are looking at, showing it what life is like in a country potentially on the brink of war.

Josh Davis, the man who took these photos, joining me now from Kiev.

Josh, I know you are over there for just this finite period of time. You happened to be there while this is happening in Independence Square. You are teaching this journalism workshop. Tell me what you have seen.

JOSH DAVIS, AMERICAN IN UKRAINE: It's pretty good timing.

I spent -- I got here on Saturday and I spent a few -- a couple of days just walking around, stumbled into Independence Square for a couple nights just sort of taking it all in, did a little bit of other sightseeing. But things changed a little bit last night.

When I walked out of the hotel room this morning, the streets were a little bit more surreal, a little more empty. It's peaceful here near the university, but you can tell the city is a bit on edge.

BALDWIN: I want to ask about some of your students I know who are Ukrainian. Let's look at the picture, guys. Pull up the picture, Josh, that you took of some of your journalism students. The class today, I realize you taught, even though I know other classes were canceled.

What are they telling you? How do they feel? Because again this is the youth who in part are inspiring these uprisings. What are they saying? What's their feeling?

DAVIS: That's right.

They canceled classes for the university. The workshop I'm teaching is a special workshop for journalists. So, yes, the students that I had come in, that did come in, in my class, some of them are pretty tired. One student drove his car into the center of the city to Independence Square last night around 2:00 in the morning to bring food to help supporters of the opposition.

Another -- my translator actually during class yesterday as we were hearing the news, the deadline was 6:00 for the protesters to disperse the streets. And her boyfriend was there. He's a reporter. And she was having a hard time getting in touch with him. I could see her trying to fight back tears.

BALDWIN: The crowd looks incredibly -- it look incredibly intense there, all these pictures, the fires and the smoke. Josh Davis, be safe and safe travels back to the States. Thank you so much for joining me and sharing your photos with us on CNN.

Coming up next, dramatic videos from the mountains of Afghanistan. A 500-pound bomb lands just feet away from American troops. The whole thing is caught on camera, but it wasn't the enemy attacking here, the bomb dropped by a U.S. plane. Next, we're learning more about the mixup into the investigation and what happened there.

Plus, Powerball fever reaching a frenzy. Tonight's jackpot, $400 million. We are hours away to see if we have a winner. We will take a closer look at the odds and some last-minute tips to help you choose the winning numbers.


BALDWIN: The U.S. military bombed its own troops by mistake in Afghanistan. This happened back in 2012. Apparently, the U.S. mistook American troops for Taliban fighters and dropped a 500-pound bomb. Somehow, thank goodness everyone survived. But here's the video.




BALDWIN: Let's go to the Pentagon to our correspondent there, Barbara Starr.

Barbara, how did this happen?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: It doesn't happen very often, but it does happen. And look at the destruction it caused.

What typically happens in these cases is these are precision-guided bombs. The coordinates are put in, in the aircraft, but somehow the wrong coordinates get put in and they call in the airstrike on the position of the U.S. troops, rather than a nearby Taliban formation.

I think we can all excuse these young soldiers' their profanity at having a 500-pound bomb land on their head.

BALDWIN: We can indeed, yes.

STARR: And thankfully, no one was hurt. They did do an investigation, we are told, and found that it was purely an accident.


BALDWIN: So, no punishment?

STARR: The wrong coordinates put in.

No punishment as far as we know. But it's a really interesting look into what can sadly, tragically sometimes go very wrong in a war zone. In this case, thankfully, it did not.

BALDWIN: Yes. All the bleeping, I would be needing bleeping I think myself. Barbara Starr, my goodness. Thank you so much at the Pentagon with that mistake.

Two American security officers, citizens found dead on the same ship involving the hijacking incident that inspired the movie "Captain Phillips." The U.S. Coast Guard is investigating and police there say both victims were 44-year-old men. The ship, the Maersk Alabama, is moored in the Seychelles. That's that tiny island nation in the Indian Ocean there, about 1,000 miles from Somalia.

The movie "Captain Phillips" is based upon a pirate hijacking off the coats of Somalia back in 2009.

Coming up next, it's billed as the supersonic business jet that is set to revolutionize travel. You have to stick around to hear about this thing, because it's what's inside this plane that has everybody talking. We will show you headlines about the $60 million jet. If you can't afford to buy that jet, not to fear, my friends, because the Powerball drawing is tonight, $400 million up for grabs.

The drawing just a couple hours away. So, we have a couple of things that could help your chances of winning that jet after all.

Stay here.


BALDWIN: This is pretty cool. This Boston-based company intends to be the first to build a supersonic private jet without windows.

And I'm thinking that's impossible. Right? But here's the catch. According to "Wired," Spike Aerospace will trade the windows for these massive high-definition screens, but not just any screens here. They're going to live-stream video. It will give the passengers who are lucky enough to sit in this beautiful leather chair this kind of experience.

You get this panoramic view of the outside world. The firm is spending between 60 million and $80 million to build the jet and they want the first plane to take off in 2018. Yes, please.

Powerball fever is here again. The sixth largest jackpot in U.S. lottery history is upon us. And someone, maybe you, could win $400 billion in tonight's drawing.

Let's talk odds. I know, the odds, never fun.

Zain Asher joining me now.

And go ahead, spill it. What are people's chances?

ZAIN ASHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The odds are never fun, one in 175 million, Brooke,



ASHER: But, yes, this is actually the first -- I know -- the first Powerball winner of 2014. What a fantastic start to the year.


BALDWIN: I like that.

ASHER: I know. What is not fantastic is those odds I mentioned.

And it's funny, because we say the odds over and over again, but it doesn't really seem to faze people. I don't know why. But, yes, one in 175 million, so I guess technically there is a chance. The odds are so small, Brooke, that even if you buy multiple tickets -- you hear always buying 10, 20 tickets, it only increases your odds very fractionally.

But we put together a funny little chart I guess of odds of other things that are more likely to happen to you. For example, being attacked by a shark, obviously, we hope that doesn't happen to anyone, but the odds of that one in 11.5 million. Dying from a bee sting, one in six million. Dying from lightning strike, one in three million.

But just to put it in perspective for you, just remember one other thing, though, kind of advice. If you are in an office pool, it is important to lay down the ground rules and make sure you have a list of everyone who is participating.


BALDWIN: Make copies of the tickets.

ASHER: Exactly. You sort of have everyone's signatures agreeing to how the winnings will be doled out. You don't want to sort of hit the jackpot and then have Bobby from accounting sue you because he thought he was going to be included. Obviously, that's the last thing anyone wants.

But just want to let you know, Brooke, that if I win, I will be out sick next week. Just giving you a heads up.

BALDWIN: I don't blame you.

But can I just pontificate for a minute? I love that we do these chances and it's like dying by a bee sting or shark attack or what was the other one, lightning strike, or win the Powerball. Just my side thought for the day.


Zain Asher, good luck. Play to win, as they say. Play to win.

ASHER: You too. You too. Good luck, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Thanks.

And now this. Coming up next, parts of the Ukraine on fire. We are watching this very closely, Independence Square here, the capital city, protesters hitting the streets, more than two dozen killed. What options does the U.S. have to try to help resolve what's clearly an escalating situation there?

Plus, it's George W. Bush as you have never heard him before. He hasn't spoken very much publicly since leaving the White House, but he is opening up and he is revealing what he misses most. And it's probably something that will surprise you. Stay here.