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Ukraine President Calls MH17 Downing "Terrorist Act"; Israel-Gaza Conflict; Flight MH17: Search for Answers; Effect on Putin

Aired July 21, 2014 - 11:40   ET




BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: Well, this is CNN, and you have just been watching an exclusive interview with the Ukrainian president, Petro

Poroshenko, reacting to the downing of Flight MH17 over the east of his country.

To recap what he said, he called the downing of the jet a "terrorist act." He described the taking of the bodies and their belongings as

"barbarian" in style, and claimed terrorists have tried to destroy evidence. And he drew a comparison to 9/11 when talking about the enormity

of what has happened.

He calls on the international community to put pressure on Russia to convince the pro-Russian separatists to provide the space within which they

can conduct an independent inquiry. Much more on the search for answers is just ahead.

But to step back for a moment and show you this: the Golden Horn or the tip of Old Istanbul, with the famous Hagia Sophia atop, sits at the

mouth of the Bosphorus Strait, a symbol of continental division in a city straddling East and West.

Istanbul isn't just perched between Europe and Asia. This week it finds itself at the midpoint between two stories of political standoff and

innocent lives loss. Across the Black Sea to the north in Ukraine, and across the Mediterranean to the south in Gaza and Israel.

I'm Becky Anderson, and this is CONNECT THE WORLD, live from Turkey's commercial capital. Coming up this hour: after the deadliest day in a

two-week flare-up between Israel and Hamas, the international community says enough is enough.

And the pressure's on Vladimir Putin in the aftermath of Thursday's Malaysia Airlines disaster. We're going to have more on the quest for

truth at home and abroad.

All that, plus some local insight into the complex metropolis where we are making our home for the next week.

A very good evening from Istanbul. There has been another ugly turn in Israel's military operation to stop the militant rocket fire coming from

Gaza. A hospital there has been shelled, killing at least five people inside. The Gaza Health Ministry says Israeli mortar fire is to blame.

Now, there are growing international calls for an immediate cease- fire. The two-week-old flare-up has claimed more than 500 lives. US secretary of state John Kerry joining the effort to come up with a truce.

He is en route to the region, stopping in Cairo, first, where the Egyptians have been instrumental in finding peace deals in the past. Can they do it


Well, let's get to our senior international correspondent Ben Wedeman first. He is live from Gaza City where, I'm afraid, Ben, the casualties

are mounting.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Mounting, indeed. It's been another bloody day. You mentioned that hospital down in

Deir al-Balah, a hospital where they -- it was hit in the third floor. Five people were killed. The director of that hospital afterwards making a

desperate appeal to other hospitals in the Gaza strip to take the people they have in their wards, the wounded and the sick.

Now, we just heard a little while ago, Becky, from Ismail Haniyeh, the Gaza -- essentially the prime minister of Gaza from the Hamas movement. He

made a fairly impassioned speech, in which he said that Israel so far has been unable to defeat what he called the "resistance," and he accused the

world of turning its back on Gaza and its problems.

He listed the problems of Gaza. He said at the moment, water supplies have been cut in many parts of the strip. There's a shortage of medicine,

the crossings are closed. And going back to the broader problems of Gaza, he said this small area of 1.8 million people has been suffering from

profound poverty, unemployment, and a variety of other problems.

He then went on to list his demands or Hamas's demands, in which he said that he wants an immediate end to what he called the Israeli

aggression. He wants the crossings to Egypt and Israel opened. And he would like basically, also, all those prisoners that were rounded up by --

rather, all those individuals on the West Bank who were rounded up by Israel in the aftermath of the 12th June kidnapping of the three teenagers

to be released.

Now, here in Gaza, Becky, we've been watching as the steady pounding of the southern end of Shejaia. That was a neighborhood yesterday where we

saw as thousands of people streamed out of it, there was a brief end to the fighting. Very brief.



WEDEMAN (voice-over): For a brief moment -- every so brief -- the guns went silent in Shejaia. Just enough time to take away the dead and

wounded and for everyone else to leave. Or beg for help.


WEDEMAN (on camera): When? When, his daughter?


WEDEMAN (voice-over): "My son is in the house," Emida Helis (ph) tells me. "He's wounded! I called the Red Cross! I called for an

ambulance, but no one came? Can you help me?"


WEDEMAN: We would have gone to look, but --


WEDEMAN: "Go back! Go back!" shouts this man, who said a tank was about to open fire. Everybody ran.

A few blocks away, house after house battered by shelling. An ambulance blown to shreds. Another, its windows shattered. With the clock

ticking, it's time to get out as quickly as possible.




WEDEMAN: "We went to get our things, but the Israeli soldiers fired at us," this woman tells me.


WEDEMAN (voice-over): I asked this man why he didn't leave his home after being warned by the Israelis. "Because we didn't expect it to be

like this," he responds.

WEDEMAN (on camera): Clearly this is a shaky -- shaky cease-fire at best. Everybody's jumpy.


WEDEMAN (voice-over): Even more jumpy when word spread that the cease-fire had collapsed. Fe people had much time to talk for long,

though. Holding his year-old daughter, Hala, Bassam bells me he's going to take his family to a nearby United Nations school, but a man tells him it's

already full. So many searching for safe ground where there isn't any.


ANDERSON: Ben, the Israelis saying that they would sign up and accept a Egyptian initiative, tabled last week for a cease-fire and some sort of

future going forward. Hamas not prepared to do that. They say they never even saw that initiative tabled.

Here in Turkey, the leadership, and the leadership in Qatar, trying to broker or mediate some sot of deal that would Hamas would be prepared to

sign up to at this stage, and given what you've heard from the Hamas leadership out of Doha today, is it clear that we are any closer to a

cease-fire deal, a more longterm cease-fire deal at present, that would satisfy all parties?

WEDEMAN: No, it's not. If all that's going to be achieved is an end to the hostilities, really all that means is we're going to perhaps have a

few months or possibly a year or two of relative quiet.

But until Gaza's fundamental problems are resolved -- the closure, the sea blockade, the fact that it's really difficult for people to import and

export from Gaza -- until that changes, we may have a brief pause, as I said -- a brief pause -- but we'll be back here, who knows? A year or two

and do it all over again. Becky?

WEDEMAN: This picture's absolutely shocking. Ben, thank you. Ben Wedeman in Gaza for you for CNN.

Let's switch tacks here and deal with what is the other incredibly important story today. US President Obama has issued a warning to Russia

to continue to back the separatists in Ukraine or face the cost.

President Obama says the rebels refuse to grant international investigators full access to the crash site. Right now, an international

team of investigators is on the ground in eastern Ukraine, digging through the wreckage of Malaysia's Flight MH17.

European monitors quote pro-Russia rebels as saying they would have, and I quote, "unfettered access" to the crash site, but there are reports

it is still difficult at times. The rebels remain in control of the area. Dutch experts, along with OSCE monitors also got their first look at the

victims of Flight 17, the rebels allowed them to examine the train cars where more than 200 bodies are being kept.

And we just heard from the Ukrainian president, talking to Christiane Amanpour on CNN, he said those bodies should be moved in that refrigerated

train in the next few minutes or within the next hour. He did, though, say that some 16 bodies are still left to be found.

Now, fresh allegations or accusations are flying over who or what brought down Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17. Russia's defense minister

says air data records show a Ukrainian war plane flew close to the Boeing 777 shortly before it crashed.

But in an exclusive interview with CNN, again, Ukraine's president denies that, and he outlines the charges against Moscow and the rebels.


PETRO POROSHENKO, PRESIDENT OF UKRAINE: Crime number one is the terroristic attack itself, where the terrorists supported by the Russian

launch rocket missile, surface-to-air missile, against the civilian Malaysian plane, which brings 298 victims.

Crime number two, and it is a disaster: the way how the bodies, innocent bodies, including the 80 children, were treated. They make --

they take the personal belongings, these terrorists, and they treat it very badly. This is Barbarian-style of doing this with the bodies of victims.

And crime number three: all that you do during these 96 hours, they tried to destroy the evidence.


ANDERSON: What does all of this mean for Russian president Vladimir Putin? Well, to discuss this further, CNN's Fareed Zakaria joining us now

from New York. Fareed, is the president of Russia getting increasingly isolated, do you think, at this point?

FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST, "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS": He is getting isolated internationally, though you will notice that countries -- many

European countries have still been very, very reluctant to confront him directly and to publicly demand that Russia do things. The Malaysian

government has not done it.

Russia is a big country, it has a United Nations veto, and most importantly, he still has a great deal of support at home. Remember,

Becky, the version of events that Russians are hearing is a kind of alternate reality in which, as you said, they charge that the Ukrainian

government is responsible, even though the Ukrainian government doesn't actually control the territory from which the rockets were launched.

They claim that the Ukrainian government might have been trying to shoot down President Putin's plane and missed. So, there's a whole

fabricated alternate reality, and Putin remains popular in Russia. So, while he is getting more isolated internationally, it isn't clear that the

domestic pressure, which is what he worries about --


ZAKARI: -- has risen at all.

ANDERSON: And that -- and you make a very good point, because as you rightly point out, it's domestic -- his domestic constituency that he cares

about most. But given that you've suggested that he is getting increasingly isolated, what do you think the consequences of that are, so

far as his relationship with the international community is concerned?

ZAKARIA: I think it is placing Russia in a position of deep uncertainty with regard to business investment, with regard to diplomatic

dealings, with regard to almost all those kinds of things that Russia does care about.

Remember, Russia is not Iran. Russia is a country that needs foreign investment. It needs foreign -- it sells its debt on foreign markets all

the time. And so, there are ways in which the Russians have to deal with the world and need the world.

And so, Europe has many trump cards or many strong cards in this regard. If the Europeans were to decide to push harder on economic

sanctions, it would have a very important effect. Putin does care about all that, because Russia is integrated into the world economy. That is the

leverage Europe has.

ANDERSON: Fareed, I thought it was interesting just in the past hour at prime minister's questions in the UK, or certainly in the House of

Commons today, to hear the British prime minister suggesting that if London were to lose what is an incredible amount of -- deep volume of business

from Russians, that was something that London's financial capital would have to deal with.

Perhaps the first time that we've really heard the sort of -- swhinging sanctions that some of these other European countries might be

prepared to enact. The Dutch and the Germans, for example, in the past have been reticent to really hit Russia with the sort of trade sanctions

that Russia has.

But now we see the effect on Holland of this incredible tragedy, and so many of its citizens have lost their lives. Do you expect to see a

ratcheting up -- you've alluded to this, but do you expect to see a ratcheting up of European rhetoric against Russia in the coming hours?

ZAKARIA: You hit on a very important statement that Cameron made, Becky. I do think there has been a change of mood, a change of tone.

Imagine the Dutch suffering. This is a small country, you're talking about almost 200 people in a country of, what, under 10 million, I think?

So you can -- for us in America, you would have to multiply that dozens and dozens of times to understand the impact. This is almost like

the number of people who were lost at 9/11 for the United States.

You still don't find the leaders willing to get out ahead. Chancellor Merkel has still been somewhat cautious. The two areas that we're looking

for are energy sanctions or energy sector sanctions, and there, Germany is vulnerable, and financial sector sanctions, and that's Britain.

So, you're absolutely right, those are the two areas to see movement. We're detecting some, but not a lot.

ANDERSON: Fareed Zakaria with analysis on what is an incredibly important story, we thank you very much indeed for joining us on what was

an abridged edition of CONNECT THE WORLD, live from Istanbul on a day of big developments in two major stories.

We'll be back in Istanbul throughout this week for more on what is happening in here, but the Middle East and the wider region. Thank you for

watching, your headlines follow this.