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CNN10 2022-02-18

CNN 10

Russia And United States Give Different Indications About Potential Russian Invasion Of Ukraine; Student-Launched Mini-Boat Lost And Found Again. Aired 4-4:10a ET

Aired February 18, 2022 - 04:00:00 ET


CARL AZUZ, CNN 10 ANCHOR: An Olympic sweep, Friday just won straight golds for awesome. I'm Carl Azuz. Thank you for watching our Friday show. We have different views today from different locations in a stand-off over Ukraine.

For weeks, the world's been wondering if Russia is planning to invade this country. Russia has built up a huge military force surrounding Ukraine, 100,000 troops or more according to U.S. estimates. Russia borders Ukraine and it hopes to limit western influence in that country. As part of that,

Russia wants a promise that Ukraine won't ever join NATO, an alliance of European and North American countries but NATO won't promise that and Ukraine's government wants to become a member of NATO.

So that's a major sticking point in the geopolitical tensions hovering over this country. As of Thursday evening, there was a lot of back and forth about what was going to happen there. Was Russia on the brink of an invasion or was the country just hoping the appearance of one would pressure NATO to make political changes? Some experts have suggested that, but here's what U.S. President Joe Biden said yesterday.


PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN, UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: Every indication we have is they're prepared to go into Ukraine, attack Ukraine. My sense it will happen within the next several days.


AZUZ: The U.S. government also says Russia might be preparing to fake a reason to invade, like it might make up news of a terrorist bombing inside Russia to justify its plans to attack Ukraine. Russia has repeatedly said it has no plans to invade Ukraine. It says claims that it is are baseless and rooted in hysteria incited by the United States. Russia also says it's reduced the number of its troops near Ukraine's border, but American officials say Russia has actually added troops near that border. It's hard to tell exactly what's going on there.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A very public display, Russia Ministry of Defense posting video of armor leaving Crimea across the Kerch Strait and it says returning to their home bases. Their participation in exercise said to be over. A few hours later, another convoy of fuel trucks filmed getting ready to leave Crimea as well and then filmed on that same bridge also heading east. All part of a choreographed effort by the Kremlin in the ongoing information war over its intentions in Ukraine. Russian diplomats across Europe scoff at western claims that an attack is imminent. But both U.S. officials and NATO officials, including the secretary general say in fact Russian troop numbers are continuing to rise.

JENS STOLTENBERG, NATO SECRETARY GENERAL: So just that we see movement of forces, (inaudible) doesn't confirm a real withdraw. It has been a big up and down, back and forth all the way, but the trend of the last weeks and months has been a steady increase in the Russian capabilities close to Ukraine's borders.

WALSH: This is one of the videos issued Tuesday by Russia's Defense Ministry on units beginning, it claims, to go home. Followed up on Wednesday with more footage of the tanks loading onto trains, destination unknown. Back in Crimea, the much-advertised pull-out involves units whose bases are in any case around Russian cities still close to Ukraine. Analysts say it will take several days to establish whether there is a true draw down of Russian forces from positions around Ukraine. For now, the picture remains mixed. There is plenty of Russian armor and air power still within just a few miles of the Ukrainian border. This according the social media videos uploaded in the past day.

Satellite images from earlier this week show fighter bombers and helicopters arriving at air bases close to Ukraine. The joint exercises in Belarus continue as well, but the Belarus defense minister insists every piece of Russian equipment will leave when those exercises are over. All the while a very public war of words continues over Ukraine's aspirations to join NATO, over the fate of the breakaway eastern regions of Ukraine, and over Russia's demands for cast iron security guarantees. President Putin and Russian officials repeat that Ukraine's desire to join NATO must be off the table, that however is a non-starter for the U.S. So far, the path to diplomacy and much of the weaponry seem frozen in place.


AZUZ: American officials say in a way, they'll be relieved if they're wrong, that while U.S. intelligence indicates Russia's about to invade some critics have questioned that intelligence and the American government says it would ultimately be a good thing if Russia changes course and pulls back from Ukraine. The United States and it's NATO allies have threatened severe economic punishments if Russia invades, and as you're about to see more U.S. troops and military equipment have arrived in eastern Europe. President Biden has repeatedly said that U.S. troops will not fight in Ukraine. That they won't battle Russian forces on the ground there, but several of the countries that border Ukraine are members of NATO. So the American presence in the region is meant to send a message to Russia and to reassure NATO countries that America has their back.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They don't really want you to see this, but it's hard to hide. These are U.S. troops landing near the Polish border with Ukraine high-end Blackhawks, C-17 cargo planes, dozens in the past days. Media haven't been given official access but they're pretty hard to miss. Trucks, pallets, signs the 82nd Airborne from Fort Bragg arrived here, an hour's drive from Ukraine, just overnight.

They even came this day with a Cessna light aircraft, which seemed to be innocently carrying top brass who get onto a nearby helicopter. Moscow may point to these scenes as NATO massing troops on Ukraine's border, but these are here with the approval of Poland, a NATO member.

In a stand-off that's all about messaging, these American troops are about assuring U.S. allies feel their presence. The unit we saw camped to a near-by conference center. They're here just in case, to help stranded Americans in Ukraine if they need arises. These sort of movements in NATO war games and drills have been practiced for years. They don't really want us to see this, the larger base where they are. Are the American's over here? This is their main base. Yes?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, we can't talk about this.

WALSH: I understand. Can we talk to somebody about this or?


WALSH: They walk right by us. Come on -- don't be afraid. It's alright. And the signs of the operation, there are a lot of tents over a wide area is both what you might expect to support that many soldiers but also something that is almost definitely not for show, and portrays a lot of readiness even if you hope they all stay bored and cold on the canvas in the weeks ahead.


AZUZ: 10 Second Trivia. Which of these world capitals is located the farthest north? Ottawa, Moscow, Stockholm or Oslo. The Norwegian capital of Oslo is just a bit farther north than Stockholm, Sweden.

Lost and found, at sea. Students at New Hampshire's Rye Junior High School launched a mini-boat in October of 2020. It had leaves, quarters and a facemask in side, kind of like a 21st century message in a bottle. The school followed it through GPS until the tracker apparently gave out last fall, but then in late January a ping. The boat indicated it was on an island in Norway. A sixth grader there helped retrieve the damaged vessel and now two schools are connected through a boat's Trans-Atlantic trip. It's a "keely" good "boatcome", considering in "mast" cases a vessel with missing "ports" faces an "uphole" battle when weather warnings are stirring.

Sails hit the deck, waves and skies "boom"; all "rope" is lost if it's not "transomething" it's a "rudder". Which is why people "wave" around that phrase "whatever floats your boat". I'm Carl Azuz. Today's shout out takes us to Wellington, Florida. It is great to see the students of Palm Beach Central High School watching. Thank you for doing that. We will be off the air Monday for the Presidents Day holiday. So, we hope to see you right back here on the 22nd for more CNN.