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Kerry Arrives in Kiev; Putin Threatens More Military Action; Obama Delivering Budget Today; Kerry Now In Kiev

Aired March 4, 2014 - 08:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: We begin with breaking news this hour.

Right now, Secretary of State John Kerry is on the ground, just landed on the ground in Kiev. He arrived a half hour ago delivering a billion aid package to the new Ukrainian government.

And for the first time since Russia invaded Ukraine, Vladimir Putin is speaking out. The Russian president defending the occupation of Crimea as a legitimate response to coup. He said it was a humanitarian mission. And he also said that they reserve the right to take military action if necessary.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: He went from being silent to giving a press conference that was really more of a speech that lasted well over an hour.

Now, this comes on events that really change the situation on the ground there. Overnight, a remarkable confrontation unfolded at an air base in Crimea. Take a look.

What you're going to see here is unarmed Ukrainian soldiers. They approached this line of apparently pro-Russian troops. They're unarmed. Watch what happens.

All right. Now, they were chanting what we believe to be peaceful messages of let's talk, let's get over what's going on here. And the men in green fire in the air.

Now, why are we calling them men in green? Well, they appear to be Russian troops. They're not wearing traditional uniforms with insignia. Ukrainian men on the ground have reported to CNN that they have identified themselves as members of the Black Sea fleet, that is a portion of the Russian military that's been stationed in Crimea for a very long time, as part of an asset sharing agreement there.

So, there's a little bit of mystery. Let's bring in Phil Black live from Moscow to get the understanding.

Phil, where are we?

PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Chris, I think after President Putin's press conference, there are key points leaders are not going to accept easily. President Putin insisted troops on the ground are not Russian soldiers. He said they are Crimean self- defense teams that have been formed spontaneously by locals on the ground.

He was asked a number of times specifically if Russian forces have participated in securing the Russian. Every time he said no. He said that all the Russian forces have done was to build up the security at their own military facilities.

The other point the international community isn't going to buy easily, we know this because they believe this is bogus excuse, and that is Russia's justification for using possibly military force, is this alleged threat to Russian nationals, to people who are ethically Russian in that southern and eastern region. President Putin made it clear that he still believes that threat exists.

And a great concern to the international community will be President Putin's assertion that if he sees a continued threat to people in the East, then Russia will use all necessary means he says to defend those citizens. He says that would be the right, it would be a legitimate thing to do and it is what Russia will do -- Chris.

BOLDUAN: All right. Phil, thank you. I'll take it.

Secretary of State John Kerry is on the ground in Kiev at this moment as a show of support for the new Ukrainian government. He's set to meet with the acting president and the Ukrainian prime minister today.

Let's get over CNN's Michelle Kosinski live at the White House with much more on this.

Of course, the question is, how is the White House going to respond to the crisis, the continuing crisis, but also this aid package? Tell us more about that, Michelle.

MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that the U.S. now is going to offer a $1 billion loan guarantee to the Ukraine and also work internationally with our allies, to offer other forms of financial assistance, things like helping with elections, trying to offset taking away of energy subsidies from Russia, also to deal with the vast corruption that the U.S. has said Yanukovych left behind when the former president left the country.

So, in a number of ways wanting to help the Ukraine really get on its feet. The U.S. has said on no certain terms the U.S. supports the new government there, acting president and actions that have been taken by the Ukrainian parliament.

So, even before we see the U.S. or anyone enact real sanctions against Russia that's been talked about, they want to first take steps of assistance for government there. BOLDUAN: Michelle, any response this morning from the White House to President Putin's press conference this morning, especially the assertion that Phil Black left us with that Putin leaves all options on the table if they continue to see, in their view, a continued threat in Ukraine?

KOSINSKI: Right. And Putin even responded to threats of international sanctions against Russia, saying that would only hurt other countries.

But the White House didn't want to respond directly to Putin's lengthy press conference. Instead, they referred to some strong statements given by the U.S.'s ambassador to the U.N., Samantha Power at the United Nations Security Council yesterday. She said, no, the U.S. categorically rejects Russia's excuse for the action that's taken in Crimea, saying that this is not a human rights protection mission, that this is a violation of international law. That there's no evidence Russians are in danger.

She repeatedly said that, that the things Russia said like churches being burned, people living in fear of violence, that she said there's no evidence of that. In fact, she said nothing justifies Russia's behavior and it must stop. She said that Viktor Yanukovych, the former president, left his post, he packed up and left the country, leading behind, she said, vast evidence of correction and then was ousted by the democratically elected parliament. She said that was legitimate unlike what Russia is now saying -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: Michelle, thanks so much for the update, from the White House for us this morning.

CUOMO: All right. Let's bring in Christiane Amanpour now for more on the analysis here.

Christiane, my head is filling up. There's so much being said that's so opposite.

So, just in case you're joining us now. We've had a lot of people on this morning with a lot of big ideas. Madeleine Albright, the White House, Secretary of State John Kerry now, all say what Vladimir Putin has said, there's a humanitarian crisis, Russians are under attack by the revolutionaries, the U.S., all the people I just mentioned say that's a bunch of, you know, untruths, OK? There's nothing to it.

We then have Vladimir Posner, respected journalist, TV personality, in Russia saying you are wrong. There's huge tension. People are worried their going to be attacked. That's what Putin is responding to.

But, the reporting say there's no attacks on the floor. How do you reconcile the two different ideas? Is somebody lying, or is it complex?

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's complex, but also there are these trumped up allegations of Russians being attacked in these areas and reports from our reporters and others that actually agitators are coming from Russia and sort of, you know, staging protests in places like east Ukraine. This is the dangerous part of what's going on.

What I would like to perhaps focus on is some of the positive stuff that came out of Putin today at his press conference. He has taken a step at least to try to reassure the West, reassure Ukraine, that they're trying to ease it at least for the moment, announcing the end to military games saying those exercises on the border with Crimea and eastern Ukraine have ended.

CUOMO: That's good.

AMANPOUR: Well, it was very good.

COUMO: What about the men in green?

AMANPUOR: Well, they're still there. Again, you know, you could look at those as a face saving measure or as trouble making. He could do then sort of, you know, could disassociate with them. Then the Black Sea fleet command could afford them back.

It could be a face saving measure, as I said, or it could be plausible deniability. That he could use these people to start up more trouble. But I think what Secretary Kerry has on its plate, Ukraine needs -- according to their own prime minister -- $35 billion in the next few years. Their economy is in dire, dire strain.

CUOMO: And Russia has given -- didn't they have guaranteed promises?

AMANPOUR: Russia promised $15 billion but after this went to hell in the hand basket, they pulled back. Maybe they put it back on the table. Maybe they put it back on the table. I'm not sure.

But what Secretary Kerry is going to have to do is figure out a mediated way that the Russians can speak to the new authorities. That's going to be very difficult because President Putin has acknowledged the legitimacy of the new Ukrainian parliament but not acknowledge of acting president or prime minister.

There's a political tension that needs to be resolved. We've seen the United States and Europe suggest mechanisms like the E.U.s in Europe and et cetera. Organizations Russia can be part of to mediate the off ramp.

CUOMO: Why does Russia deserve a seat at table?

AMANPOUR: It has a seat at the table. What Russia is engaged in obviously the United Nations, Security Council and these various organizations. The point is now, you know to stand up and say we won't tolerate this. The violation of international borders but also to try to figure some kind of political mechanisms to move this forward, because that is eventually going to happen. That's the big diplomatic challenge now.

CUOMO: What do you see as best leverage? AMANPOUR: Well, we've been saying this several for days. The United States is been preparing and landfall impose sanctions against targeted Russians, against various commercial and economic and business ties, against various individuals perhaps. We'll see how that ratchets up. Some of the heaviest leverage in terms of real economy is with Europe. But, of course, that's also a two way street. Europe also has very big economic impact with Russian.

CUOMO: That's the last point I want your take on that. Something happened with Germany I think that we glossed over in coverage because there's so much going on immediately. That's one of the reasons we're also not looking at whether the Ukrainians can come together. They have to decide their own fate. You've been very good at articulating that on the air.

We talked sanctions, the U.S., they say, they're going to be big sanctions. Angela Merkel, Germany, says, hold on sanctions, let's have fact finders on the ground, which seems to be something that's almost tacitly supportive of Vladimir Putin's (AUDIO GAP). Let's get some fact-finding on the ground.

Does Europe specifically, Germany, have the will to take the pain that sanctions would impose on them? Because that's Vladimir Putin talking this morning in the press conference, he said sanctions are going to hurt a lot of people.

AMANPOUR: Right. And that's the point. And that is the point. Does Europe and the West have the will to take it to the degree that will cause pain all around? I personally think all these so-called fact- finding missions and thing, if they happen it's a good thing. They assert more mediators.

It's a mechanism, a face saving off ramp mechanism perhaps if this thing hasn't gone too far to dial all of this back and to try to say to the Russians, that actually we've investigated your claims and your part of this investigation. And look, thank goodness, there's nothing going on against ethnic Russians and it's OK.

I think what Vladimir Putin said today, we're not trying to rest Crimea away. That's a positive thing that he said.

CUOMO: Christiane, appreciate the perspective. A lot is happening so quickly.

AMANPOUR: A lot is happening, yes.

CUOMO: Trying to figure out what is and isn't.

AMANPOUR: And, again, it's the most severe confrontation between the east and west since the Cold War.

CUOMO: That's for certain.

All right. Thank you very much.

AMANPOUR: Thank you. CUOMO: We're leaning on you heavily during this.

Kate?

BOLDUAN: We're going to take a break. But coming up next on NEW DAY: we're going to have much more on the tense situation obviously playing out in Ukraine. But, first, when will this winter end? A lot of folks are asking and going to keep asking. Doesn't look like any time soon. March is shaping up to be one of the coldest.

Indra Petersons will be here to explain.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BOLDUAN: Welcome back. We're going to bring you the latest breaking news out of Ukraine in just a moment. But let's first get back over to John Berman for all of our top stories.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Thanks so much, Kate. Happening today --

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BERMAN (voice-over): President Obama is set to lay out his financial priorities with his 2015 budget. The plan includes proposals to reduce income inequality including a tax break to help low income workers those who do not have children. The budget was delayed a month after Congress announced the spending plan for this fiscal year. The 2015 fiscal year begins in October.

The federal government is going head-to-head with Sprint in a new lawsuit, claiming the wireless carrier overcharged the FBI and other agencies for wiretaps. Companies can't tell (ph) the government to recoup the cost that help them bug people's phones. But the suit claims that Sprint went overboard to the tune of $21 million. Sprint says it did nothing wrong.

Developing overnight, a phoenix detective is in an intensive care unit this morning after a shoot-out with a fugitive that left another officer dead. Police say the two detectives were chasing a suspect by car when he crashed and then opened fire while fleeing on foot. Responding officer shot and killed the suspect after he exchanged fire with them. That happened near the crash site.

All right. Putting a price on the 16-day government shutdown. The Obama administration says last fall's shutdown cost national parks and surrounding communities about $414 million, $414 million. The report says the park had nearly eight million fewer visitors. Five states including California and Arizona lost more than $20 million apiece.

And they do not call him king for nothing. What a performance. LeBron James scored a career high 61 points in Miami's 124-107 victory last night over the Charlotte Bobcats. That's a single game record for any Miami Heat player. James converted eight straight three pointers. They say he went 22 for 33 on field goal attempts. I don't think he missed any shots based on what I've seen. His 25 third quarter points also set a team record for a quarter. After the game, James told reporters "The Man above gave me some unbelievable abilities. I just try to take advantage of them."

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BERMAN (on-camera): Chris and Kate, there are times when LeBron James can't miss. He can try to miss and he can't miss.

CUOMO: All the greats can be in the zone. But I got to tell you, what's impressive about him is I remember when he started. We were at ABC. We did his first interview before his first game. The guy didn't shoot from the outside. And now, you see how's he worked on his game. He got 61 last night the easy way. He was all outside. He wasn't bullying himself inside, using -- all skill, 61.

BERMAN: He can do whatever he wants on that court.

CUOMO: Yes. And he's scary with --

BOLDUAN: He is unstoppable.

CUOMO: Yes He scares me.

BOLDUAN: The mask is new, yes?

CUOMO: Yes, but it's scary.

BOLDUAN: It is scary.

CUOMO: He should take it off.

(LAUGHTER)

CUOMO: Even if it's protective of his face. I need protection.

BOLDUAN: Yes. OK. We're going to move on.

All right. Extreme cold that continued to talk about, unfortunately, is the tight grip on the Midwest and east this morning. Take a look at this map. The arctic air dipping well into Texas and engulfing the deep south. Several interstates in Louisiana are now closed because of ice. Let's get back over to Indra Petersons. She's tracking it all for us -- Indra.

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: And it's supposed to be March, right? I mean, we're looking again as the jet stream going all the way down to the south like you just mentioned. So, this morning, once again we're talking about temperatures in the single digits. Many places even setting records for all of March, places like Atlantic City, Jersey yesterday set the record for the entire month of March already for that morning low.

Indianapolis nine, Chicago 14. This does not feel good, guys. Even down in the south, they're seeing below zero temperatures this morning. We're talking about Memphis 35. That is 25 degrees lower they should be for the afternoon. New York City, a high of 31, and unfortunately, tomorrow doesn't feel any better. And you guys mentioned this. OK. It is March.

It's one thing to be cold in the upper Midwest. Talk about down in Texas, they have a threat of icing today even in through Louisiana. Not a good thing we are so close to spring. This is not something we want to see. What has been going on? We've had this pattern really for the last several months. Cold air in the east, warm air in the west.

The question is, are we going to stay this way now that we're finally getting close to spring? Unfortunately, it looks like the next two weeks say yes. This is a forecasting very cool for the eastern half of the country, and unfortunately, warm for the western half of the country. Back to you, guys.

CUOMO: All right. Indra, thank you for that.

BOLDUAN: All right. Thanks so much.

Coming up next on NEW DAY, how badly will relations between the U.S. and Russia suffer in the fallout over Ukraine? Fareed Zakaria is going to be joining us next to talk about all of the latest developments and take a look forward.

CUOMO: And you know, you think about growing up, everybody has issues with their parents, right? But, one New Jersey high-schooler is taking it to a whole new level. She is suing. We're going to tell you why she's taking her parents to court. You decide if she's got a case.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.

BOLDUAN: Breaking news this morning. Secretary of State John Kerry, is now on the ground in Kiev touring Independence Square. This is, of course, where the heart of the protests that began months ago. This is where this all centered. It's a show of support for Ukraine as President Obama works to isolate the Russians for their aggressive actions in Crimea.

And just hours ago, Russian president, Vladimir Putin, defended Russia's occupation of Crimea. He's calling it a humanitarian response to a coup. He also says he'll take further military action if needed. Joining us now to discuss all the developments this morning, Fareed Zakaria, the host of "Fareed Zakaria GPS." Good morning, Fareed.

FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST, "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS": Pleasure.

BOLDUAN: What do you make of Putin's press conference, a lengthy press conference this morning, and what he said?

ZAKARIA: I think it was striking. We knew that this was the way that Putin saw it, and frankly, many Russians see it. I mean, the Russian point of view is, there was an elected president of Ukraine. There were street protests and the street protests essentially overturned a Democratically-elected president. They're intervening now. Why they would have to intervene in Crimea to sort that situation out doesn't make any sense.

They went into Crimea because they thought if Ukraine is slipping out of our orbit, at least, we're willing to keep the most crucial part of it. What I was struck by -- was that Putin did not seem to suggest that he was going to move Russian troops further.

BOLDUAN: He took some good news maybe from this.

ZAKARIA: Right. Part of what we're trying to figure out here is what is Russia's aim here? Is it, you know, a kind of -- to turn Ukraine back into a satellite or is it just that they want Crimea and they're feeling is if Ukraine is slipping out of our orbit, at least, we have to hold on to what we regard as strategically vital. My sense of Putin's press conference and one has to analyze it further is that he seemed to be satisfied with Crimea and not suggesting he was going to send troops further.

BOLDUAN: And I found it even surprising. At one point, he said, and of course, you never know -- what you can't really take it at face value, but he said at one point that Russia is not trying to make Crimea part of Russia, that it should be left up to the citizens, the residents of Crimea, what their future should be.

ZAKARIA: My guess that is he will want a referendum there. Part of the problem here is the Ukrainian constitution allows for referenda only in the whole country. You can't have one little part of the country beside this. The rest of Ukraine would also have to agree to let Crimea go.

BOLDUAN: We take this into context kind of who we're dealing with. We heard from Angela Merkel as reported in the "New York Times" that Putin seemed to be in another world, not in this reality. I thought it was striking this morning when I was speaking with former secretary of state, Madeleine Albright, and she said that she thinks in Putin in many ways is delusional about all of this.

ZAKARIA: I don't see it quite that way. I see Putin is actually a very sharp, smart guy, but he is at his core of Russian nationalist. He believes, as he said, that the destruction of the Soviet Union was the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century. I think that he sees his mission as restoring Russia to a certain kind of greatness. And in that context, you have to remember where Ukraine fits.

Ukraine was, in some ways, where Russia all started, it was in Kiev that I think was called the Deutsche of Russ (ph) begins. The Ukraine is not just -- was not just part of the Soviet Union, it was part of the Czars Russian empire for 300 years. So, this is almost like dismembering a part of Russia's body. So, he's trying his best to maintain some kind of control over it. Again, the problem he faces and this is a problem that, you know, all dictators face, the people of Ukraine don't want that. The people of Georgia rebelled against him, and this is his problem.

BOLDUAN: So, let's talk about U.S. efforts now. As we reported, secretary of state, John Kerry, is on the ground. He's in Independence Square as we've been speaking. The White House then announced this aid package of $1 billion loan guarantee. It seems like a small drop in the bucket of what they need, but we can view this as a step in the direction as the IMF is continuing to consider financial assistance.

What do you make of the steps, so far, the U.S. is putting out there and putting John Kerry on the ground?

ZAKARIA: I think that President Obama used exactly the right word which is to isolate Russia, because the truth is, the U.S. by itself can't do very much.

BOLDUAN: Right.

ZAKARIA: This is really part of this new world that we've all been talking about where the United States is a very, very important player, and in some ways, the crucial player, but in other ways, you need the European Union to come on board.