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Three Objects Spotted in New Search Zone; New Search Area is 123,000 Square Miles; New Challenges in Updated Search Area; More Objects Spotted in New Search Zone; Russian Troops Gather at Ukraine Borders; Two Ships Recover Objects in 370 Search

Aired March 29, 2014 - 08:00   ET


CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: We are so glad that you are starting your day with us.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Your next hour of NEW DAY starts now.

PAUL: I hope you just got to wake up on your own this morning. No alarm clocks for you. I'm Christi Paul.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. It's 8:00 here in the east coast, 5:00 out west. It's NEW DAY SATURDAY. We are starting this morning with the breaking news. It happened overnight in the search for Malaysia Airline Flight 370. Three new suspicious objects have been spotted today in the new search zone for the missing airliner. The Chinese search plane spotted the objects. According to Chinese state media, they were white, red and orange.

PAUL: This latest sighting, by the way, comes a day after five other planes reported seeing debris in the same sprawling section there in the Indian Ocean. None of the objects we should point out has been confirmed as having come from the lost plane yet. We don't know of any ships that have been able to retrieve anything either.

BLACKWELL: Right. And let's talk about this new search area. It's about the size of New Mexico. It's almost 700 miles and look at the map. Northeast of where authorities found the last few items via satellite in that last hunt. The shift was based on new analysis of radar data.

PAUL: The Chinese plane was one of eight aircraft dispatched to that zone today. We know seven ships are in the area as well looking for any sign of that missing plane and seeing if they can get a hold of that debris.

BLACKWELL: Meantime, devastated families of the missing passengers and crew protested in Beijing demanding proof of the claim by Malaysian officials that all lives were lost.

PAUL: But within hours, a top Malaysian official was offering a glimmer of hope it seemed to relatives in Kuala Lumpur.


HISHAMMUDDIN HUSSEIN, MALAYSIAN ACTING TRANSPORTATION MINISTER: Miracles do happen, remote or otherwise. That is the hope the families want me to convey.


BLACKWELL: So consider this, you hear these comments from the Malaysian acting transportation minister just a few days after the country's prime minister said that it was beyond a reasonable doubt that everyone on the plane had sadly perished.

PAUL: CNN's Paula Hancocks is in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur. So I'm wondering Paula, talk about these words today from the acting transportation minister and how people in Kuala Lumpur are taking them?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Christi, it came as a surprise considering what the prime minister had said just a week ago. The acting transportation minister was basically meeting with families of the passengers on that plane. He said that even if there was a tiny chance, remote chance of survivors, they would pray and do everything that they possibly could.

What he was saying was basically that family members, we understand, were saying to him, even if our loved ones have passed away, if they are not still alive, we want to guarantee that you are still going to search for them. What he was saying is he gave a guarantee the Malaysian government and all the countries that are involved in this extensive search are going to continue to look for their loved ones.

He was also saying that he understood that they held on to hope until they have something physical in their hands and he said this is what they have said from the very beginning. That their one priority is to look for survivors. He is still calling this a search and rescue operation. Not just a search operation.

BLACKWELL: You know, I wonder, Paula, if what you are hearing and what's being discussed there in Kuala Lumpur about this search for the parts of the plane, if it is different from what we are hearing in Australia and different from what we are hearing in Beijing. What's the conversation there?

HANCOCKS: Well, certainly the acting transportation minister had said something slightly different to what we've heard from the Australian side. We heard from the Australian side that the original search area that was changed on Friday, that satellite images from there were necessarily not valid anymore and they discarded that area. The acting transportation minister said they could well be still considered because of drifts and we are hearing different things at this point.

But Malaysian authorities are saying that the Australians are in charge of the search operation and they are in charge of the investigation here in Malaysia. The one thing they are trying to do is give as much information as they possibly can to the families. We are hearing a lot of anger from the families not just in China but here in Malaysia as well.

They don't feel they are being told everything. I talked to a husband of one of the stewardess on board the plane today and he said that he basically learns most of this information from the press conferences that the acting transportation minister is giving and then after that they are briefed and they are giving information. He said it should be the other way around. He should know about it first.

BLACKWELL: Yes, a lot of suspicion from the start. Paula Hancocks there for us in Kuala Lumpur. Thank you.

PAUL: So joining the discussion now is CNN aviation analyst and the former director of the FAA's Office of Accident Investigation, Steve Wallace and also CNN law enforcement analyst and former FBI assistant director, Tom Fuentes. Gentlemen, thank you for being here.

BLACKWELL: We are also joined by Captain Van Gurley. He is the senior manager for Metron Scientific Solutions and a former naval oceanographer. Good to have you too, sir. And according to Chinese media reports, we want to start with the breaking news overnight. Some of these objects, the three suspicious objects, orange, red and white.

Yesterday, one of our reporters was on a U.S. Navy P-8 when crews spotted an orange rope and a blue bag. Now we know that there was a lot of junk, Christi called it flotsam out in this area of the ocean, do you believe these could be connected to 370 or is it still too soon to tell? Let's start with Steve.

STEVEN WALLACE, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Too soon to tell. This has been, you know, we keep getting sightings. Ships are participating in this effort. Really too soon to tell. There so much debris in the ocean. Everybody is clinging to various hopes here. Hopes that we'll find something that we can definitively associate with the airplane. Families are hoping for a miracle. There is no reason to take that hope away from them. What is this debris? I can't hazard a guess based on what I have seen.

PAUL: Van, I know that you have an oceanographic search company. If you were in charge of this and you were waking up to this news right now that they found this, how would you proceed forward?

CAPTAIN VAN GURLEY, SENIOR MANAGER, METRON SCIENTIFIC SOLUTION: As Steve was saying, the key point is to get one of the ship onto the objects spotted recently so we can confirm it. There is a broader set of issues here, which is making sure that we are searching the right areas in a deliberate way. When you look at the basic facts of what we really know, what we know is the plane was in the air for a number of hours after its last communication back to the controllers and we believe that it went south.

Now, there are a number of assumptions made of the speed of the aircraft. New assessment is aircraft may have been going faster. Therefore, the northern search area is probably the best one. We look at uncertainty with all those assessments to make sure we haven't narrowed the box too finely at this point in the effort.

BLACKWELL: So Tom, the way I understand this is that this new search area was the result of new analysis, not necessarily any new information. Why is this analysis coming three weeks into the investigation? I mean, they have the same facts and now it's a shift seemingly every day. I think we have a map of the changes day-to-day.

TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, Victor, I think the biggest problem is we have the same lack of facts or lack of sufficient data to analyze. So they are making a lot of calculations based on the limited data and they decided to review that and have other people come in and review the work and review that again when the searches came up negative in the southern search area last week. So I think that is the problem.

There is no real data that is sufficient enough for a set of analysts to look at and say OK, absolutely the plane went this area and that far and then it went down. We don't have that. They keep re- analyzing it and hoping they can come up with maybe a better solution that is more accurate.

PAUL: Steve, I was watching late last night that families want China to start a separate investigation. They are already involved in this one. How much influence do the families have to make that happen and would it help or would it just confuse the situation further in your opinion?

WALLACE: Well, it might help with easing the pain of those families. That's a good enough reason to do it. I would say even in the United States where the National Transportation Safety Board started the family disaster assistance program, they stopped short of allowing the family group to participate in the investigation because they don't bring the technical expertise. Certainly their country.

What you suggested, Christi, I think is an excellent idea that should have been done from day one when we had these Inmarsat pings. Why weren't the best Chinese scientist, they have some very capable ones, shown that data so they could take it back to their people. It would provide a much needed level of transparency in this investigation, which might you know, give some degree of comfort to the families.

BLACKWELL: Captain Gurley, this shift, 700 hundred miles northeast moves us to waters that are calmer and not as deep, but a rugged ocean floor. How will that play with this caveat, if they are in the right area, your quick thought on how this will play in the search for the debris and the black boxes? Considering some positive and negative.

GURLEY: Right, Victor. There are a number of positives by this new search area. One it's closer to Perth. So the aircraft that are operating in there have more time on station actually searching in the search area rather than flying back and the forth. Secondly we are out of the roaring 40s. The area of really rough weather that was plaguing the operation down to the south. So although weather is not perfect up in the northern area, it is certainly much better.

The currents, as best I could tell, are very light in the southern half of the search area. A little more dynamic in the northern half. It will be interesting to see once we get some more data in that area on exactly how the ocean currents are really operating and moving around right and then when you get to the ocean bottom, it is more rugged.

When I looked at this general area yesterday, it ranges in depth from about 3.25 of a mile to 2.5 miles deep with a mini mountain range system through there. The good news is although that is rugged terrain, it is known terrain. My worry with the southern box, that area was never mapped so I don't know that we really knew what we would getting into if we worked on the ocean bottom in that area.

PAUL: All right, Steve Wallace, Tom Fuentes and Captain Van Gurley, so appreciate your time this morning, Gentlemen. Thanks for being with us.

BLACKWELL: As the captain was just talking about finding the debris, especially even in this new area is going to be huge challenge. But once those pieces are found, what do the investigators do with them and how are they reconstructed? Well, we have a live report on that next.


BLACKWELL: The breaking news overnight, the Chinese plane that spotted three new suspicious objects today in the search, new search zone for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. But we still don't have confirmation that those objects or other objects found in the search area came from the missing jet.

PAUL: If that were to happen, though, and we certainly hope it does soon, it would set off a whole new phase in this search, including the possibility investigators could try to reconstruct the plane back on land. Alexandra Field has been looking into exactly what that would entail. Joining us now from New York. Good morning, Alexandra.

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Christi, Victor. Given the area where this search is focused, recovering potential wreckage from the ocean floor could still be a monumentally difficult tasks. But would it be key to helping families and the rest of the world find the answers they have been waiting for? Well that could come down to what kind of information investigators find once or whenever they are able to recover those all important flight data recorders.


FIELD (voice-over): Picking up the pieces. Putting them together. It has been done by crash investigators before. The question is in the mystery of Malaysia Airline Flight 370, will it be done again?


FIELD: Christi and Victor, we lost that piece there. Here is what we are learning from investigators. In the past certainly, we have seen aircraft reconstructed and put back together. That was the case when TWA Flight 800 crashed back in 1996. At that time though, data recorders were not nearly as sophisticated as they are today.

At that time, they were recorded at 18 different data points. So that did not always give investigators really a clear picture of what the aircraft was doing at the time of impact or crash. Today's flight data recorders like the one on board MH370 record 82 different data points. That could give investigators a much clearer picture of what was going on, on board.

That information would then be used by investigators to try and figure out what answers they have and what answers they are still looking for. If the data from the recorders is not conclusive, certainly we would expect to see an overwhelming effort to recover wreckage from the ocean floor despite the fact this could be truly a challenging situation given the depth of the water and given the terrain.

But first, of course, Christi and Victor, we know that the objects that have been seen floating in the water would need to be identified as being part of MH-370. Then investigators would have to use the objects to trace back to that potential site of the wreckage and find the black boxes, and then make those decisions.

BLACKWELL: All right, Alexandra Field in New York for us. Thank you.

PAUL: So how do you find a 777 in the middle of the ocean, new satellite images, new sightings, but no confirmation that any of it belongs to vanished Flight 370? Why search crews though have enormous challenges in what's being called an unprecedented investigation. Have you ever seen anything like this?


PAUL: It is an international effort like none other trying to locate Flight 370. Right now we are talking about seven ships sitting out in the ocean as we speak. Eight planes have been scouring that area for evidence.

BLACKWELL: This morning, there is a new possible lead in the search after a Chinese pilot spotted three suspicious objects. So, could they be part of the missing jet? Of course, that's a question, the important question this morning.

PAUL: Let's talk to CNN aviation analyst and former inspector general with the U.S. Transportation Department, Mary Schiavo and Steven Wood, he is a CEO and co-founder of All Source Analysis. Thank you both so much for being with us.

Mary, I wanted to start with you because Tommy tweeted me and he asked a question that a lot of us had been thinking about, too. Why do you not send an aircraft carrier out there with a helicopter? You would think that would be able to spot debris at a more concise or precise way. What do you say to that? What is hindering that from happening?

MARY SCHIAVO, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Well, I personally think there should be more ships out there and there should be more assets out there. I believe the Chinese sent a ship with helicopter assets on board. I think more ships and more equipment would help. Of course, it is up to the United States Navy, I guess, where they can deploy their assets and, of course, they have lots of jobs to do around the world. I would make the decision if I could if we had the assets available to put more there. I think many more are needed.

BLACKWELL: Stephen, this search crew is now focused on a new area. They think they will find the debris in the plane. Is it possible they may find nothing? What about, it still stands out to me, the old search area, days and days of hundreds of pieces of something out there and no mention of those. Are you optimistic this new search area is any more credible than the last few?

STEPHEN WOOD, CEO AND CO-FOUNDER, ALL SOURCE ANALYSIS: Ultimately, I think yes, it is. The jury is still out. This represents the challenge. You are reading off the list of the assets deployed trying to look for this debris and try to narrow this down. You can add to that dozens of orbiting satellites trying to find this activity. It is part of the challenge. It is a large area. Even with the new area that has been further refined.

We are still talking about a large expansive ocean. The conditions are still difficult to try to find small objects. I think there has been a bit of reporting. Some of the objects people are seeing closer up thanks to the pilots and mariners on the ships. We still can't conclusively identify that as aircraft or associated to an aircraft. It is still a challenge. Satellites are playing a part, but a part of the overall search.

PAUL: Mary, I know officials said the plane was burning fuel at a faster rate. It was flying lower. I wonder if that was a factor in determining this. What was a factor in determining this new search area? How did it take so long to get from one to the other? Are there just too many cooks in the kitchen, so to speak, at this point?

SCHIAVO: Well, or the opposite. I think what happened is they had certain assumptions and they put a lot of faith in those four or five what they have been calling the satellite handshakes. The five or four data points that were calculated based on the contact from the plane with the satellites. There were two arcs. One to the north, which is impossible. The route to the north should have been discarded immediately and the route to the south.

Additional data came into play and we were told that the National Transportation Safety Board from the United States and Federal Aviation Administration and Boeing were working and helping the Malaysian investigators to fine tune that data. When you apply the altitude and air speed, you can get a more accurate fuel burn.

Why they didn't do that in the beginning because you can calculate the fuel burn on the planes so easily. They can calculate it down to the minutes. It appears that is the source of the new coordinates for the search. It should be better than based on the five satellite data points.

BLACKWELL: Well, the search crews and we know that the Australian prime minister is optimistic of the search area. Mary Schiavo and Stephen Wood, thank you for speaking with us this morning.

WOOD: You're welcome. BLACKWELL: Also, still to come on NEW DAY, new leads on the new search zone and new challenges also for the search teams racing against the clock to find Flight 370. Just ahead, another earthquake jolts the Los Angeles area. This is the second one in just two weeks. We are getting in some new video and pictures of the mess it left behind. Stay with us.


PAUL: No need to rush. It's only 8:30 on Saturday morning. I'm Christi Paul.

BLACKWELL: Take your time. I'm Victor Blackwell. Let's start this half with five things you need to know for your NEW DAY.

Up first the Chinese has spotted three suspicious objects today -- that's the breaking news overnight, in the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. This is the new search zone and Chinese state media reports that these items are red, white and orange. Now five other pilots saw few objects in the same area of the Indian Ocean, although, none of the objects has been confirmed as having coming from the lost plane.

PAUL: Number two heavy rain and strong winds are really hampering rescue work at the site of the Washington State landslide. Hundreds of volunteers are still there digging through that area for signs of life. But officials are worried that this bad weather could cause another landslide -- a very difficult task and delicate. The official death toll at this point still 17 dead and 90 missing.

BLACKWELL: Number three now, the FBI asked a now dead suspect in the Boston marathon bombing to be an informant. That's according to the court documents found by attorneys representing the sole surviving suspect. The defense says the agents approached the accused older brother and asked him to give information about the Boston's -- Boston's Muslim and Chechen communities. The government denies that.

PAUL: Number four a 5.1 magnitude earthquake rattled the Los Angeles area last night, some water mains were broken, hotels were evacuated, some 2,000 people didn't have power. Shortly after the earthquake nearly two dozen aftershocks followed.

BLACKWELL: And number five the FBI is asking for your help in trying to find a man who pointed a laser at a Delta flight temporarily blinding its pilot. The incident happened at New York's LaGuardia airport earlier this month. Officials believe the laser beam may have come from a neighborhood in Queens. Now there is a $10,000 reward for tips leading to an arrest.

PAUL: Let's talk about the missing Malaysia Airline Flight 370. Because crews are in the midst of their second day right now on the search area and the good news is it's so much closer to the Australian coast than the old one which means they can spend more time out there in the middle of the water searching for any sign of this plane there are all the benefits as well the waters are not as deep. BLACKWELL: Yes meteorologist Alexandra Steele is here to show us on how the weather plays a role in this and how the change in location really makes a big difference.

ALEXANDRA STEELE, AMS METEOROLOGIST: It certainly does guys and all really in positive ways in the waves of the weather, the waves of the water and the ways of the wave. This 700 mile north move really makes a difference.

So let's go down into the Indian Ocean. Of course southern Indian Ocean and within this Indian Ocean, there is this Indian Ocean gyre. The Indian Ocean is essentially kind of a "y." And there are the tectonic plates and the three plates really kind of -- are divided within this Indian Ocean.

Now where the old search area was, was down here. And we call that the roaring '40s because it's the 40 degree latitude and there are strong winds and big storms that can develop. And the basin is really quite unchartered and it's incredibly deep.

So here is a look at now the new search area. That 700 mile north move makes a big difference in terms of the waves. The average waves in this area farther north, about six feet. Average wave height south here about 19 feet. A big difference when you need visual confirmation when you're trying to see the water. Also in the waves of the weather and the weather particularly down here in the '40s, big strong storms. Up here the weather is certainly not as significant and not as frequently significant as it is.

And also, the water itself, it is much less chartered farther south. Old search area. New search area. Certainly closer to Perth so closer and easier access to get those flights in and out thus spending longer time on the water and of course if you're at the water, what you need are good visibility.

So here is a look. This is the size of the search area. It's about the size of New Mexico or Poland, perhaps 123,000 square miles. But within this, do you see this delineations here of this darker blue and lighter blue? The northern portion of the search area is quite different than the southern portion. One is much flatter. One is much rougher. This plateau this is called the broken ridge and it moves through it. This is what when they go under they are looking for. They are taking you depth about four miles under water. And you can see the water and terrain and how difficult it is here even in this depth.

PAUL: All right Alexandra Steele, thank you so much. Great visuals for us there.

BLACKWELL: Yes. Let's now talk about the pilots of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. Joining us from Washington Mark Weiss, CNN aviation analyst and here on studio John Ransom a retired airline pilot and an aviation safety specialist.

Let's start with you, John, because you are in studio with us. What do you make of these theories about the captain and the co-pilot possibly deliberately crashing this plane in some death wish or suicide mission thus far into this investigation considering the evidence or lack thereof, of that?

JOHN RANSOM, RETIRED AIRLINE PILOT: Well for the last three weeks, it's been the topic of conversation that potentially the crew was the cause of this. But again there are -- there are -- in three weeks there's been no evidence at all that the crew had anything to do with it other than perhaps heroically trying to save the aircraft. So maybe something will pop up but nothing has shown itself so far.

PAUL: I wanted to ask you, Mark, Mary Schiavo was just saying there needs to be more resources in this search. You know we had a great tweet from Tommy saying why don't they have an aircraft carrier out there with a helicopter so they can you know get better sightings? What do you say to the thought that maybe there is just not enough manpower out there?

MARK WEISS, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Well you know, managing resources is a very difficult thing. We've seen the focus of the operation shift of over 600 miles -- 700 miles. So I would suspect that moving their carrier group is not an easy thing to do having deployed it in one area and then trying to move it to another area. I think really at this point, I agree, more assets need to be brought into this operation, but you need to know where to bring them.

BLACKWELL: John, do you think that it's and I want to talk more about this focusing on the pilots. Is that a fair start for this investigation?

RANSOM: It's certainly fair to look at the pilots, the backgrounds anything that might have motivated them to do something like this. But -- but once that's been done and it reaches a point where they are just speculation, I think that's probably too far until we get something that is much more concrete.

PAUL: Mark, how detrimental do you think has the language barrier been in this case with so many different countries adding their experts in? Do you think that that has muddied the waters here?

WEISS: Well, you know, I have done a good deal of research into English and aviation English and communication skills with crew members and air traffic control facilities. One of the things that came out early on, if you remember, there was a transcript from the crew to air traffic control. And it was originally in English and then translated into Mandarin and then back to English again.

And there are a lot of discrepancies in that as far as following IKO procedures or standard procedures, a lot of questions on how things came out, "all right, good night."

It would -- you know there is so much that we still haven't seen in the original English, which is the official language of aviation around the world. I mean that really needs to be brought out to the forefront. So I -- I think there is culturally, it's a difficulty, but I think we really need to see the original languages for the air traffic control tapes, for any of the military tapes that would have come from the what had happened that evening. So yes, language, I think is playing a part in this.

BLACKWELL: I want to pull the thread of protocol and standards with you, John. There are so many people who question if there was something nefarious happening in the cockpit and as you said, there is no evidence thus far that says that there was, but if there was something nefarious happening, what is the protocol between a crew that the -- the flight attendants, would they have confronted a man who in his neighborhood was revered because he was a captain for -- for Malaysia airlines would they have confronted him over there just taken his word for it and disrespected his position and knew that he had more technical knowledge than they did?

RANSOM: Well I've not spent a lot of time over there. I spent a lot of time in the area, but not in Malaysia.


RANSOM: The culture may be totally different than I'm used to. But essentially, any crew member, if they get to the point where they suspect a fellow crew member is having issues, they will do something about it.

Now, there could be a case where somebody looking up to a captain and first officer as a flight attendant may tend to be a little reticent to do that. But I certainly hope not.

PAUL: Just to let you know, we are getting word that the search has ended for today so far people are back although we know those ships are still out there waiting for you know sunrise tomorrow. But an Australian P-3 Orion did come back and it did report seeing multiple objects.

I'm wondering John we've heard this so many times. It's almost (inaudible) they saw multiple objects in the first zone. Do you think that there is just that much stuff out there floating around or in this concentrated area where they are looking now with as many multiple objects as they have seen, we are really truly on to something?

RANSOM: Well, the ocean obviously has a lot of things in it already, well before the airplane disappeared. I mean everybody has their fingers crossed and the little bit of boning that I have done, even in the Atlantic and the Caribbean there is debris all over the place. And sometimes it coalesces into a like a weed line or a debris line.

So I mean as I said everybody has their finger crossed that this will be it, this will be the day that they actually find something.



BLACKWELL: I' sorry, CNN aviation analyst Mark Weiss and retired airline pilot John Ransom, thank you both for being with us this morning.

WEISS: Thank you.

RANSOM: Thank you.

PAUL: We appreciate it. Thank you.

All right the crisis in Ukraine is something else that we are watching because it's still simmering. And in a surprise move -- more than a surprise, people -- Vladimir Putin called President Obama.


MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN HOST: Good morning. I'm Michael Smerconish. We have some really interesting topics to tackle on the disappearance of Malaysia Flight 370. For one some countries had information about the missing flight days maybe even more than a week before they decided to share it. What's the deal? We will look at what they are hiding and why.

We also have a former FBI profiler to examine the investigation into the pilot. Also, what kind of lawsuits will the families have? A jam packed show that you're really going to enjoy is coming at the top of the hour -- Christi, Victor.

PAUL: Thank you, Michael.

BLACKWELL: Vladimir Putin has reached out to President Obama to talk about the crisis in Ukraine. The two presidents agreed to have their top diplomats discuss proposals to resolve the situation peacefully.

PAUL: According to U.S. officials there are 40,000 Russian troops along Ukraine's border right now. I think that we're seeing (inaudible) via satellite. Erin McPike is live from the White House. The first thing I wonder though Erin, what prompted Putin to make this call. Do you have any indication?

ERIN MCPIKE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Christi, according to the White House's readout of the call, they did make progress on a path to a diplomatic solution. And President Obama asked Putin for Russia to put together a response in writing and then that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov would meet to hash out the details.

Now the White House also said that President Obama quote, "noted that the Ukrainian government continues to take a restrained and de- escalatory approach to the crisis and moving ahead with constitutional reform and democratic elections and urged Russia to support this process and avoid further provocation including the build up of forces on its border with Ukraine.

But I would also note that the tenor of the readout of the call from the Kremlin is slightly different. Putin said that he did want help from the global community to stabilize the situation there in Ukraine. But he also talked about the safety of Russians in the region and basically complained about extremists. So there was a little bit of a thaw. But it still appears that there is a long way to go -- Christi. BLACKWELL: So Erin, President Obama said that he believes that President Putin still harbors a grievance over the dissolution of the now former Soviet Union. Are there members of the international who believe that this is an effort to put it all back together again?

MCPIKE: Well, there is some concern that things are moving slightly in that direction. And President Obama did address in an interview on CBS yesterday. Take a listen.


BARACK OBAMA, POTUS: I think he's been willing to show a deeply held grievance about what he considers to be the loss of the Soviet Union. You would have thought after a couple of decades that there would be an awareness on the part of any Russian leader that the path forward is not to revert back to the kinds of practices that, you know, were so prevalent during the Cold War but in fact to move forward with further integration with the world economy and to be responsible international citizens.


MCPIKE: Now, as you know, President Obama is returning to the United States tonight, but this has been largely the focus of his week overseas for the past week -- Christi and Victor.

PAUL: Erin, real quickly, just reiterate for us when might these talks happen between, you know, the diplomats first and secondly, are sanctions on hold at this point? Any further sanctions?

MCPIKE: As far as sanctions go, Congress actually has been working on this really for the past month. And those are moving ahead in the event that a diplomatic solution is not reached. And as far as when Sergei Lavrov and John Kerry will meet -- as far as things go from this call, that could be very soon. That could be within the next week.

PAUL: All right. Erin McPike, thank you so much. We appreciate it.

BLACKWELL: New information on the search for Malaysia Airline Flight 370 after this quick break. Stay with us. .


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: From New York to London, World Tennis Day is gaining momentum on the global stage.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's wonderful. It draws attention to our sport.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it is a great platform to just spread the gospel for the great game.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What started out as a Big Apple Only event has expanded to include 70 countries worldwide. Promoter Jerry Solomon has been behind the idea from the beginning. JERRY SOLOMON, PROMOTER: The idea is really to do all of this all around the world on one day to where we sort of galvanize the entire tennis world and to celebrate the sport.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Organizers are hopeful that this fledgling event will find a permanent place on the tennis calendar.


PAUL: We are getting some breaking news out of Perth this hour. This is significant. We have been talking about all these objects that have been seen in the ocean. Today, we have a couple of ships that have actually recovered items now.

BLACKWELL: Let's go now to Paula Newton who is there in Perth. Paula, what can you tell us about this?

PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is the part of the shift to the investigation that everyone here was hoping would begin. It is underway. You can see it's dark here now and in daylight, it will continue.

What is going on? We will have a minimum of six ships in that area actually retrieving objects out of the water. I caution the Australian ship and the Chinese ship that are there have been at it -- the Chinese ship especially has been at it for quite some hours really only retrieving garbage thus far out of the water. They will continually scan that area with the ships to have a look at some of the more credible objects that had already been spotted from the air from those airplanes. They will do that all day tomorrow.

Again, the weather being described as reasonable but it will be much easier for those ships to actually investigate some of those sightings.

PAUL: All right. We know that an Australian P-3 Orion saw, the other news, saw multiple objects again in that area, is that right?

NEWTON: They did. Although I caution again that really from what we are hearing from the pilots, they were a bit discouraged in terms of not actually seeing anything that they thought looked like wreckage. Having said that, a Chinese airplane, the Illusion, was up today said it spotted what they thought were three -- their language -- suspicious objects, one red, one orange and one white.

The deal here is the ships are now supposed to cover that ground and try and spot those objects again to be able to determine whether or not they're wreckage. As I say the key here, Christi, is that they have started to retrieve those objects from the water. And boy, families have been waiting a long time for this investigation to get to that point.

PAUL: Yes, Paula, thank you so much. We appreciate it. That is such a turn in this investigation and finally probably feeling like we're making a little bit of headway because we have seen all these objects, but now they finally tangibly have something in their hands. BLACKWELL: You know I've got -- I don't know if Paula is gone -- but if she is let me know. I have one more for Paula. Do you know -- you're still there -- Paula, do you know what the turn around time is before we get characteristics or if we get some information? You know, what is this? The Chinese ship has collected some trash? They are now picking something out. When are we going to learn more?

NEWTON: I can tell you that both authorities in Malaysia and authorities here on the ground will get that information to us as quickly as they can. The reason, Victor is all those families in Beijing and in Malaysia and elsewhere that are desperate to have some information. When they have something that is credible and they can get someone who actually knows what they are looking at, can sure identify that it is a wreckage from an airplane from 370, they will tell us as soon as possible. We think that at this point, they have investigators out there who will know from pictures from high resolution pictures that are going back to Canberra to the capital here in Australia, they will know definitively if something is from the wreckage.

If they have some questions. Again, you know, Victor, they may see something in the water and they may know definitively very quickly that it is something from the wreckage.

And I will point out Victor, as well, the Australian navy ship, Ocean Shield (ph), will go out tomorrow. It will have three investigators here from Australia on board as well as that American equipment, that key equipment, that will scour the ocean bed to look for the data flight recorder and for the cockpit recorder. That is also a significant movement in the investigation.

PAUL: All right. Paula Newton, thank you so much, from Perth there. We appreciate the update.

BLACKWELL: We will take a quick break. Be sure to join us back here at 10:00 Eastern.

"SMERCONISH" starts after a quick break.