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Ukraine PM: We Are On Brink of Disaster; "Nebraska" Up For Six Oscars; Mayor Ford Goes to Hollywood

Aired March 2, 2014 - 07:30   ET


CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to you. It's 29 minutes past the hour right now. Just to make sure you're on time if you got anything to do. I'm Christi Paul.

And let's talk about Ukraine's Prime Minister because he says the country is on the brink of disaster. Facing a declaration of war from Russia. These are strong words and just as those dire words were spoken, take a look at what was happening. Hundreds of people packing Kiev Square calling for a peaceful end to the conflict.

Now, Ian Lee is there in Kiev. What can you tell us about that scene right now? Because we have seen some recent video where it seemed that things were getting violent.

IAN LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, here in the square what we're seeing right now is a lot of rallies and a lot of support for the Ukrainian government and a lot of dignitaries from the Ukrainian government most notably but Vitali Klitschko addressed the crowd saying that Ukraine's territorial integrity will not be violated, that they will not be able to split up the country. We do have violent clashes protests in other parts of the country, most notably in the eastern part of the country where you have the pro-Russian demonstrators going against pro-European demonstrators.

But here in the crowd behind me there has just been speeches all day, prayers all day hoping for a peaceful conclusion to this, but also standing very strong saying that they will defend their country and most notably the things just looking down there you see the Georgian flag. Now, that is a country that in 2008 had a similar run in with Russia. They lost South Ossetia. The Ukrainians are hoping that this doesn't happen for them and they end up losing the Crimean.

PAUL: Ian, let me tell you, we're just getting word that the Ukraine has just announced that they are closing air space there. Do you know anything about that?

LEE: Well, that's right. We're hearing that they're closing air space and not to civilian air traffic but they're monitoring military aircraft of potentially other countries that may be requesting or flying into their air space. They're also saying that they are fortifying or securing their airports, as well, to make sure that those are safe. But, definitely they're ramping up their military measures right now and this comes right after we hear those very strong words from the Prime Minister -- Christi. PAUL: OK. Ian Lee there in Kiev, and thank you so much for getting us apprised to what's going on right now. Victor, and boy, we can even hear everything that's going on behind him, as well. But so far, as he says, Victor, things peaceful there in Kiev.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Yes. Let's dig dipper. Thank you, Christi. Joining us to talk about this are Tony Brenton, the former British ambassador to Russia and Bob McGinnis, retired lieutenant colonel in the U.S. army and Pentagon consultant. Colonel McGinnis, let's start with you. The question here is, what are the options here for the international community, but especially the U.S. to respond to this Russian show of force?

BOB MCGINNIS, PENTAGON CONSULTANT: Well, obviously, the President is taking it off the table, at least for now. There are a number of ambassadorial issues that can be addressed and certainly sanctions will be addressed and Putin is vulnerable to a cut in oil price. You know, look what we did in Georgia back in '08. We made a lot of red lines and essentially we ended up doing very little other than putting a couple frigates in the Black Sea area. You know, moving some of the Georgian troops back from Iraq where they were former deployed and sending humanitarian efforts. So, there are some things, but long term I think Putin has taken into account what happened there in Georgia and therefore he thinks that he can get away with it in Crimea. I don't think though that he's going to invade the Eastern part of Ukraine at this point.

BLACKWELL: Ambassador Brenton back at the end of the USSR when that broke apart, Ukraine by the fault became the third strongest nuclear power in the world because some of the nuclear weapons were still there. And in the trade for giving them up, the U.S., the UK and other international members of the international community pled support for Ukraine's sovereignty. Now, that pledge is coming due. Does not the U.S., does not the UK and members of the international community have a responsibility to help there in Ukraine and if the diplomatic options don't work, some military forces have to go in?

SIR TONY BRENTON, FORMER U.K. AMBASSADOR TO RUSSIA: You're absolutely right. In 1994 when Ukraine shed its nuclear weapons, we the UK, the U.S. and others guaranteed Ukraine's sovereignty. And you're right, that's an obligation between our need to do our best to deliver on and various things are going on. The G-8 Summit off the table and lots of action in the U.N. and elsewhere. The unfortunate fact, however, is that Russia is visibly so committed to retaining its influence in Ukraine and that, I suspect, the diplomatic and other options we have are not strong enough to turn them around. Actually, we're going to have to talk to the Russians and work out a way forward together with them which guarantees what they see is their rights and concerns in Ukraine.

BLACKWELL: Colonel, if the diplomatic efforts don't work or if they don't work quickly enough, who goes in because we know that the defense minister said that they don't have the might, and the Ukraine does not have the might to fight off the Russian forces. What is the option to go in? MCGINNIS: Yes. The Ukrainian military, about 163,000, 80,000 ground troops. They have antiquated equipment. They have been deployed with small numbers, but they really don't have a combat experience. They're not going to stand up against the Russians, much like we saw what happened in Georgian in '08. So, you know, militarily, short of war, I don't think this president or any president would proceed to try to stop a military intervention into that country. If we even move troops say, you know, into next door countries from NATO, all that's going to do is provoke, perhaps, an activities by the government in Kiev which is unstable and we don't even know if the government there has total control over its own military.

So, with some of the military siding with the Crimeans and with the Russians already putting down their arms as reports is indicated, a very tenuous, a tender box situation. You know, once again, it looks like, you know, deja vu with regard to what we saw in the Cuban missile crisis, certainly what we saw in Poland with the solidarity movement. These are times in which behind the scenes secret negotiations must take place, economic levers can be pulled but let's stop talking about red lines and confrontations of military forces.

BLACKWELL: So, Ambassador Brenton in this region, the Crimean Peninsula, we know that mostly their ethnic Russians and we know that the reforms of the military recently have allowed the contract soldiers at least to serve near their homes. So, you have members of the Ukrainian military who are loyal in many ways to Russia. Is there some possibility that we'll see rogue elements of even the Ukrainian military fighting off other members of the Ukrainian military from the west?

BRENTON: I think there's still a chance of avoiding any sort of confrontation. Russians at the moment are going to show force in Crimean and there are dangerous points there. There are three Ukrainian military bases there. But I would guess that quite quickly and quite peacefully they would be able to control the whole premier. The real task after that is to prevent the rot spreading to the rest of Eastern Ukraine and by the Ukrainian authorities reassuring communities there that they have the interest of the Russian-speaking communities in mind. And as I say, over and above that, we the U.S., we the UK and others need to sit down with the Russians and talk about the way forward. The Russians don't want the war, they don't want to occupy the whole Ukraine. What they want is an assurance that their interests in a neutral, Ukraine, a Ukraine which pays attention to Russian concerns emerge from this mess.

BLACKWELL: Is there any indication that the new Ukrainian, even the interim government would agree to that?

BRENTON: It is a real problem, of course, because the new Ukrainian government has little legitimacy and emerged from the over trying of the democratic elected president. And is essentially a government which represents the west of Ukraine, which is the most anti-Russian part of Ukraine. That government has to be persuaded to take the Russian point of view and the Russian community in its country into account. It's huge amounts of distrust and a key task, pullback government is to begin to get them distrust time, and to get everyone talking to everyone else to the point where a solution begins to emerge.

BLACKWELL: All right. Retired Lieutenant Colonel Bob McGinnis and former UK ambassador to Russia Tony Brenton. Thank you so much for helping us understands this from several different perspectives -- Christi.

PAUL: All right. Thanks, Victor. You know, wicked weather is what we're talking about here. Because apparently the groundhog was right. Old man winter does not want to give up his grasp on you. We'll tell you what's happening.


BLACKWELL: Well, they asked for rain, but, of course, not this much. It is creating a huge mess in California. This is what it looks like all across Los Angeles. You see the mud, it's a flooded mess there.

PAUL: Well, take a look at what happened in Denver. Slick pavement created a monstrous pileup on Interstate 25 North. Look at this thing.

BLACKWELL: Yes. One person killed and more than a dozen others sent to hospitals with injuries. Officials say, the pileup involved more than 100 vehicles here. It shut down the road for hours.

PAUL: So, you look at that and you think, what's coming weather wise, it would be good to just hunker down and stay home. Karen MaGinnis, what do you say?

KAREN MAGINNIS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: I think that is absolutely what you need to do. There are about 100 million people that are going to be affected by this major winter storm. We're not saying snow storm, we're saying winter storm because it could be an icy mix all the way from the panhandle of Texas, extending it Missouri, Illinois, Ohio and across the mid-Atlantic over the next several days. These are the areas that are looking at very slippery weather conditions. I just took a look at what's happening in Missouri.

Let's go ahead and show you what's going on in St. Louis right now. There you see the arch. Snow is coming down but you're lucky if you see snow because ice is the huge problem from right around Cape Girardeau towards Jefferson City, it is ice. They're saying in some areas an inch to an inch and a half of ice. Very dangerous driving conditions. But all across central sections of Tennessee into Kentucky and into the Northeast, you're not going to be left out. This is kind of amalgamation of several weather systems, but essentially this core area low pressure traveling right along this cold front, that is going to be the mechanism that were drawing in that cold air from the north and the moisture rides right along that frontal system.

So, even into Northwestern, Alabama, all across the tri-cities area of Knoxville, Tennessee, extending into North Carolina and for Washington, D.C., it may start out as frozen precipitation, and then change over to snow. But this is kind of the general depiction of the snow accumulation as we go through Tuesday. Kansas City to St. Louis all the way over towards Indianapolis and into Paducah, we are looking at that icy mixture. And then if you're viewing us from the northeast and saying, come on, we are tired of winter. When will it all be done?

Well, it is not going to be in the next 48 hours because the storm system will plow an area right across the mid-Atlantic up towards New Jersey. New York City you could see an icy mixture as early as this afternoon and going into your Monday. It looks like those airports could be affected, but not just there, also Washington, D.C., Newark, New Jersey and extending over towards St. Louis, be very careful. Back to you, guys.

PAUL: All right, Karen, thank you for the heads up.

BLACKWELL: Yes. So the advice, stay indoors.

And if you're staying indoors, you have something to look forward to tonight. The Oscars. Hollywood is getting ready for its big night.

PAUL: Yes. But a lot are wondering, why this year's show is being hyped as the grandest of them all?



UNIDENTIFIED MAN: How did you and mom end up getting married?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: She wanted to.



PAUL: Bruce Dern in his Oscar-nominated performance in the movie "Nebraska." This little black and white film has become so huge. Nominated for six Oscars, including best picture, which, of course, is a big one. And the academy award ceremony, well, gosh, at this point you can count down hours away. All eyes going to be on who takes that top prize of best picture.

BLACKWELL: You got "American Hustle" and "Gravity" tied for the most nominations. You know, this year's Oscar ceremony is supposed to be, we're expecting it at least it will be jam-packed with star power and some amazing musical guests. CNN entertainment correspondent Nischelle Turner takes a look ahead.


NISCHELLE TURNER, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The 86th academy awards is set to be Hollywood's biggest party with Ellen DeGeneres as ring leader expect nominees like Meryl Streep and Matthew McConaughey to get their groove on with the talk show queen. Hollywood heavyweights like Julia Roberts and Brad Pitt are up for some of the night's biggest awards, ensuring it will be no shortage of star power.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Got to be the best we've ever done.

TURNER: Nineteen seventy co-artists pitted against astronauts for the most trophies. "Gravity" and "American Hustle" lead the pack with ten nominations apiece.

Facing off against "12 Years a Slave," "Philomena," "Captain Phillips," "Dallas Buyers Club," "Nebraska" and the "Wolf of Wall Street" in one of the tightest best picture races in Oscar history. Golden globe winner Cate Blanchett is the best actress contender, going head-to-head with the likes of Sandra Bullock, Amy Adams, Judi Dench and with a record 18th nomination, Meryl Streep.

First-time nominee Matthew McConaughey lands in the best actor category against Christian Bale, Bruce Dern, Leonardo DiCaprio and Chiwetel Ejiofor.

But this year could be all about the music. Idina Menzel, Pharrell, U2 and Karen O were set to perform the best original song nominees making the Oscars one of the biggest concerts of the year. With hot performances and a host like Ellen, it may not be the winners that get everybody talking. Nischelle Turner, CNN, Hollywood.


BLACKWELL: So, count down to the Oscars tonight with CNN. Our Oscar special, "Hollywood's Biggest Night: The Road to Gold" airs at 6:00 p.m. Eastern. And then after the Oscars beginning at midnight join Nischelle Turner and Piers Morgan for our live post show "And The Winner Is."

But let's check in with CNN's John King for a look on what's coming up on "Inside Politics" this morning. Good morning, John.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Victor and Christi. Got the coffee, getting ready. Coming up now, Hillary Clinton's calculations about 2016. How will they be affected by the release of previously secret papers from the Clinton era White House? We're also looking ahead to the big test for the 2016 Republican hopefuls.

Plus, who controls the Republican Party, the Tea Party or the GOP establishment? All that plus a glimpse at tomorrow's news today coming up on "Inside Politics." Guys?

BLACKWELL: Thanks, John. Watch "Inside Politics" with John King coming up at about, let's say, 35 minutes from now right here on CNN.

Oh, Toronto's crack smoking mayor. He is getting us to Hollywood this weekend.

PAUL: Is he ever going to have a title other than that is the question. We're going to show you what happened when he landed, yes, at LAX, who he run in to a baggage claim, very curious here.


BLACKWELL: So, the big stars are making their way toward the arena, for Hollywood's biggest night.

PAUL: Does this guy fit into "Big Stars" category? Some people say yes.

BLACKWELL: For some. Yes.

PAUL: He is a celebrity. Sighted at the airport. Caught by the paparazzi, actually caught by the paparazzi by surprise.

BLACKWELL: Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Now which celebrity are you most excited to meet?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Hey, buddy. Welcome to Los Angeles.

ROB FORD, TORONTO MAYOR: Thank you so much.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Is this your luggage? Yes.

FORD: I got a little bit. Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: OK. Well, let me take that from you. I'm your driver.



PAUL: OK. Toronto Mayor Rob Ford obviously landing in Los Angeles and into the hands of "Late Night" talk show host Jimmy Kimmel. Yes, that is Kimmel there. It took me a minute. I didn't realize it was him at first.

BLACKWELL: Yes. I saw him there with the sign but only when he started speaking that they recognize him.

PAUL: Right. Right. He's going to be actually guest on Kimmel's show tomorrow night.

BLACKWELL: Yes. I'm going to watch that one.

PAUL: Here's an "SNL" spoof. This worth a good chuckle for you because, you know, part of our job this morning is not only to get you informed but to put you off on your day right.

BLACKWELL: It is the weekend. You want to have some levity, right? OK. So, this one involves Sir Charles, Charles Barkley and Shaquille O'Neal at last month's all-star weekend in New Orleans. Watch this.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: What's up, guys?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Yes. Yes. We were just in New Orleans for the all-star game.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Yes, I love New Orleans. Good town. Good food. Good jambalaya.



UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Oh, man. He trying to say jambalaya but when he say long words his mouth just gives up.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Shaq was on the dunk contest though. He sat on the throne while Ben McLemore of the Kings jumped over him.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Yes. Put the king in the middle. Made the king the king.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Man, when he jumped over you, he must have kicked you square in the head and knocked all the pronouns out of you.



PAUL: There is your little chuckle for the morning.

BLACKWELL: Oh, they're good.

PAUL: We have a couple more up our sleeves so don't go away.

BLACKWELL: We do. Stay with us.

Of course, we're going to also continue to cover breaking news and all that's happening tonight for the Oscars. So thank you so much for sharing your Sunday morning with us.

PAUL: NEW DAY continues though right now.

Good morning to you. Again. Sunday, just about 8:00. I'm Christi Paul. I'm so glad to have your company.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. It is 5:00 a.m. out west and this is NEW DAY SUNDAY.

We're starting with the 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.