Return to Transcripts main page
CONNECT THE WORLD
Russian Passenger Plane Crashes Near Moscow; Israel Launches Strikes In Syria After Crash Of Jet; Environmental Activist Dies While On Iranian Prison; Naked Ambition Shirtless Runners Brave The Cold. Aired 10-11a ET
Aired February 11, 2018 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[10:00:00] BECKY ANDERSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello and welcome. This is "CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Becky Anderson in Abu Dhabi just after
7:00 in the evening. Breaking news, this hour from Russia, a passenger plane has crashed near Moscow. Russian State Media says there are no
survivors. The plane disappeared off the radar shortly after takeoff from the local airport. It was destined for Orsk, a city in the southern
mountains of Russia but it crashed early into its flight. CNN's Senior International Correspondent Fred Pleitgen is at the crash site and he joins
me now live. What are the details, Fred, as you understand them?
FRED PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi Becky. We're in (INAUDIBLE), which is about -- say about 60 kilometers outside of Moscow.
So this plane apparently took off from Domodedovo Airport which is one of the major airports in Moscow, and then made a left turn and shortly after
that, crash right here where I am right now. I want to just step out of your way a little bit and show you because the recovery efforts as we now
have to say are in full swing here. As you can see there is a lot of fire trucks, there's a lot of police officer, that's quite difficult for the
authorities to bring enough of their forces that they have here into position because they only have a small streets leading to these small
The details that we've got is that this plane apparently it crashed into a field here in this village. The Russian authorities at this point in time
are not saying yet what they believe is the cause of the incident. They said it could be a technical malfunction, it could be pilot error or it
could be the weather as you maybe can see, it is snowing quite heavily in Moscow today. So it's not clear why this plane came down but the
authorities are saying no one on that plane has survived.
ANDERSON: Standby, Fred. I want to get some weather in here. Russia is being blitzed, of course, extremely heavy snow for days. I want to get a
sense of the weather conditions where the crash happened with CNN Meteorologist Allison Chinchar. Visibility reportedly poor, what are
conditions like and forecast to be in the area?
ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, that's right, Becky. So, unfortunately, at both the time of takeoff for the flight and also at the
time of the crash, weather around Moscow was incredibly poor. You had not only snow being reported falling at that time, but yes, very low clouds,
very poor visibility, and all of those combined do not make for a very good weather condition when you're dealing with flight. Here's a look at the
forecast radar. We do expect those snow showers to eventually recede and push back out of the area, likely not until we get much closer into the day
Monday. So you still have several hours to go. The unfortunate part, Becky, too, is temperatures are expected to drop over the next several
days. That may also hinder some of the recovery efforts as well.
ANDERSON: Let's see, a scene, so far as weather is concerned, Fred, let me bring you back up. And I want to get for our viewers now some recent air
crashes involving Russian airlines. What sort of plane was this (INAUDIBLE) airline safety like in Russia?
PLEITGEN: Yes, this is -- this is a fairly small airline, Becky. It's called Saratov Airlines. The plane itself is actually quite interesting.
It's an Antonov 148 which is made both in Ukraine and here in Russia in a town called Voronezh, so it is a Russian made airliner. And the most
recent we've got is that apparently this specific airplane was manufactured in 2010 in Russia at the Voronezh airplane factory there. What we need to
say about this plane is that the Antonov 148 is a small regional airliner, it seats somewhere between 65 and 88 people depending on the configuration.
It got two engines. It is a plane however that is quite modern. It is a modern, newly developed airplane. It only went into service this very
model in 2009, and this specific aircraft in 2010. So it would have all the new safety features, a lot of it digital as well as the cockpit is
concerned. So this is certainly not an old airliner.
And also, as safety record of this airline is concerned, unclear to see that they have a very bad safety track record. That's certainly something
that we can't at this point in time say. So right now it's very difficult to speculate as to what exactly might have caused this crash. The
authorities again are saying they're looking at several different variants of what might have happened, at the same time of course expressing their
condolence. Vladimir Putin has expressed his condolences not only to the those who lost loved ones but also to the folks here of this village who of
course had this awful thing happen right in their neighborhood, just a couple of hours ago. Becky?
ANDERSON: And you just have been standing away from the cameras so we can have a look at what's going on behind you. If you can do that again, Fred,
as you explain, emergency services, it's reported really battling with these conditions. How difficult is it for them and just remind us how
close to Moscow is this?
[10:05:21] PLEITGEN: Yes. So we're going to pan around a little bit. You're absolutely right, and you know, the conditions certainly are quite
difficult. And when we drove out here, it's actually interesting, Becky, because I landed at the very airport that this plane took off from, only
about less than an hour before we landed. And I can't say that all these weather reports are true. It was pretty difficult to see out the window of
the aircraft. You could see there was very low cloud cover and yet there's this snow. We pan a little more, you can see that the snow is not only
making it difficult obviously for the rescue and recovery folks to work but also makes it very difficult to actually get here. Some of the roads is
almost impossible obviously very difficult to even clear the snow now, and Moscow really has been blanketed by snow over the past couple of days,
really over the past week, and that certainly something that making it very difficult.
At the same time, of course, we have to say this is Russia and the authorities here are very much accustomed to working in these kinds of
conditions but yet the terrain that you see, the fact that this such a small village, simply makes it very, very difficult to for instance move
police and ambulance in here. You can see the ambulance is a very one very small road, if we pan around that they're trying to get down and then move
those corpses into the -- where the crash site is which is really only a couple of hundred yards from where we are right now. So this is for the
authorities very, very difficult. And it is -- it is fairly close to Moscow. It's about say 60 kilometers south of Moscow, southeast of Moscow.
And this plane, of course, the route then it was going to take was also towards the southeast, the town of Orsk where this plane was supposed to
land, a two-hour flight southeast from Moscow. Becky?
ANDERSON: So there is some speculation as to the cause of this crash at present. Authorities not releasing any details. Fred, thank you. Well,
turning now to a simmering standoff that threatens to intensify the already explosive situation in Syria and could see Israel taking a more active role
in the conflict. Israel says it felt a severe blow in inverted comments to Iranian and Syrian targets where airstrikes launched following the downing
of one of its fighter jets. Israel, the latest foreign power to have one of its aircraft down mid fighting in Syria. And Russia blames militants
for loss of one of its jets last week. Ian Lee is in the Golan Heights, Ben Wedeman will be joining us from Beirut, both reporting on this. Name,
let me start with you. So far as authorities are concerned in Israel, what is being said at present about what has been going on over this past what,
72 hours or so?
IAN LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it was a really tense time period, Becky, with Israeli forces were on heightened state of alert with this
incident. You know, one interesting thing that we just learned the Israeli military spokesman has confirmed to CNN that the Iranian drone that was
shot down was a copy of the RQ-170, also known as the Sentinel. This is an American stealth drone. The CIA lost one in 2011, over Iran. Iran said
they were able to capture it. In 2014 they announced that they were able to reverse engineer it and be able to start operating their own version.
And that drone yesterday is what kicked off this entire incident.
LEE: A thermal camera tracks a drone in the early morning hours. Israeli officials say it's Iranian and give the series of events.
The command to shoot comes after it penetrates Israel's air space. An attack helicopter giving the final blow. The unmanned drone originated
near Palmyra in Syria, at an Iranian base called T-4, that according to Israeli officials. Eight fighter jets scrambled to take out the command
and control center. They encountered heavy Syrian antiaircraft fire, triggering sirens across Northern Israel and the Golan Heights.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Before 5:00 in the morning, we hear the sirens, two sirens. We take -- I take my wife and my children, we take them to the
shelter. And now we hear -- sometimes we hear airplanes in the air.
LEE: Amid the heavy fire, and F-16 crashes. The pilot and co-pilot ejects safely. One seriously injured, the other lightly. A helicopter takes the
pilot to a hospital.
[10:10:09] Israel's military says this is the first plane they've lost in combat in decades. In retaliation, Israel launches another wave of
airstrikes targeting both Syrian and Iranian positions including antiaircraft batteries. Israel's Prime Minister had this message for Iran.
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, PRIME MINSTER, ISRAEL: Israel holds Iran and its Syrian hosts responsible for today's aggression. We will continue to do
whatever is necessary to protect our sovereignty and our security.
LEE: The incident raising tensions in the Golan Heights to a new level. Israeli leaders have been watching the ongoing civil war in Syria just
right over there for years. One thing that concerns them the most is someday when they're looking over this frontier, they'll see Iranian
soldiers looking back. Israeli officials have warned against an Iranian military buildup in Syria and Israeli warplanes have launched dozens of
strikes on advanced weapons targets over recent years. For its part, Iran is warning Israel against further military action, calling the downing of
an Iranian drone ridiculous. Iran's foreign ministry saying Iran has a legitimate right to be in Syria. This latest clash could mark a turning
point with Israel's long enjoyed air supremacy in the region taking a hit.
LEE: And Becky, look over this frontier this evening, thing are quiet. It looks like neither side is really spoiling for a fight and to continue this
tension that we've seen over the past 24, 36 hours. Becky?
ANDERSON: Well, at this point. Anyway, Ian is there for you reporting from the Golan Heights. We've heard the concerns, then, Ben, of the
Israelis and their criticism of Iran and its actions, they say, across their border into Syria. What is going on here?$,
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is a very significant event. It's important to keep in mind, Becky, that this is the
first time since 1982 during the Israeli invasion of Lebanon that an Arab military force has been able to bring down an Israeli jet. And so we have
seen a lot of statements coming out of Hezbollah here in Iran -- in Lebanon out of Damascus, out of Tehran to the effect that the old equations have
now been overturned. That perhaps the military superiority that Israel has enjoyed for decades may be getting whittled away. Now, what is interesting
is that our bureau in Jerusalem has learned from Israeli officials that the drone that the Israelis shot down is a copy of an American drone the
Iranians were able to basically hack and bring down and copy back in 2011. And in fact, we have heard from Hossein Salami, the Deputy Commander of the
Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps that Iran has capabilities that could threaten Israel.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HOSSEIN SALAMI, DEPUTY COMMANDER, ISLAMIC REVOLUTIONARY GUARD CORPS (through translator): We can destroy all of America's bases in the region.
From this very location, we can create hell for the Zionists.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WEDEMAN: And therefore there$ seems to be a new note of confidence coming out of what's known as the axis of resistance, Hezbollah, Syria, and Iran
in the after of this incident. Becky?
ANDERSON: Ben Wedeman is in Beirut also reporting for you live. Thank you. Well, if Iran deals with the intentions with Israel, its people are
celebrating a day of unity. Massive crowds gathered in the Iranian capital to mark t 39th anniversary of the Islamic revolution, that is when the
government of U.S. backed (INAUDIBLE) was overthrown and the Ayatollah (INAUDIBLE) returned from exile, has become head of the New Islamic
Republic. Well, President Hassan Rouhani spoke to the crowd in Tehran praising unity among Iranians.
Well, just weeks ago, hundreds of people arrested and at least 21 were killed in an anti-government protest. Borzou Daragahi is the Middle East
Correspondent for BuzzFeed News. He joins me now from Istanbul. And before we talk about what we heard from Rouhani and the said demonstrations
on the streets, we have just been discussing this weekend's optic in Israeli-Iranian tensions and this sort of as Ben described it as new note
of confidence between Hezbollah, Iran, and the regime in Syria. Just how consequential do you believe this is given as you are reporting on the
entire sort of serious story from your base there in Istanbul?
[10:15:21] BORZOU DARAGAHI, MIDDLE EAST CORRESPONDENT: I think it is kind of important, I think it shows an escalation, definite escalation. As ban
likely noted, it was first time in the long time that an Israeli jet has been shut down. This sort of a creeping escalation is quite dangerous for
However, I think there are a few brakes in place that could stop this from spilling over into some kind of all-out war. The main break being Russia
and channel that both the Iranian leadership and the Israeli leadership have through Russia to communicate grievances and so on. The cockiness,
the confidence that you see from Iran, they feel that they're on the rise, they feel that they're winning in Syria. They feel that they are the once
now changing the rules of the game. A game that has been sort of demarcated since the 2006 war between Hezbollah and Israel. And now they
are sort of changing the rules of that game, bringing new elements, bringing new dimensions of tension and confrontation.
ANDERSON: Let's have a listen then to what President Rouhani, said when he spoke yesterday, let's listen in.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HASSAN ROUHANI, PRESIDENT OF IRAN (through translator): If one country thinks that re-boosting terrorism or meddling in the affairs of other
countries or bombardment of neighboring countries can gain desirable results is making a mistake, we are prepared for the security of the
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: And today, praising unity amongst Iranians at the same time, a view that many are disputing given the recent protest of the past couple of
weeks. What did you make of what the President said?
DARAGAHI: He has this -- he has to repeat same old slogans about Iran's role in the region. But the truth is that inside Iran, they're in trouble,
there's a real crisis of legitimacy. The tire old slogans are not working and he knows it. I mean, he more than anyone knows it. And he actually in
the same speeches today where he talked about unity, he also acknowledged that there is huge divisions and he actually, in a -- in a sort of
startling move called for a referendum on some key issues of that he is in the dispute with, with Iranian hard-liners.
So, you know, despite any calls for ambitious overseas adventures, despite all the kind of image of unity that he might try to present. You know,
Iran is in a tough situation now. Its economy is not doing so great despite their easing of some sanctions. European investors aren't coming
in, the young are upset and discontent. Women are upset and discontent. The rural poor poured out into the streets all over the country not even a
month ago. And none of those issues were resolved, they were all solved by, you know, the hammer and the baton. And that's not resolving any of
Iran's primary and core issues.
ANDERSON: You'd have me say this before, it sounds like a cliche, but this is a messy region, it is complex and it is complicated. Borzou, thank you.
Well, before we move on, we want to mark this story, a prominent environmental activist and academic has died in a Tehran prison. Iranian
authorities say Kavous Seyed-Emami committed suicide. But his family reject that. His son said on Twitter, "The news of my father's passing is
impossible to fathom. I still can't believe this."
Tehran's prosecutor general says Emami had been arrested for gathering classified intelligence under the guise of scientific and environmental
You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD, I'm Becky Anderson for you. Still, to come this evening, is diplomacy was on Olympic sport, then, this official
could be inlined for a medal. Who is she? Well, coming up. Kim Jong - un's sister, thawing the chill between North and South Korea. Is she? That's after this.
[10:21:35] ANDERSON: All four centuries, nations that odds to found hope in a place that can defy diplomacy and foreign policy. The sporting arena
is what I'm talking about. Once again, it's power -- well, it's being tested against the frozen backdrop of the Winter Olympics, between North
and South Korea. Following talks like these, South Korean President has now being invited to Pyongyang. But don't expect any giggler of hope to
turning to daylight, just yet, the America's vice president, says North Korea's nuclear program remains a fundamental sticking point.
Paula Hancocks has been keeping her busy statesmanship and this sport. Thus she joins us from Pyongchang where the games are coming to us from.
And I wonder whether you think there is a difference, a schism perhaps even between North Korea is free to prism of Washington these days, and North
Korea to the prism of Seoul.
PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely Becky, I meant that the way that Seoul and Washington are dealing with North Korea at the
moment that just vastly different policy they seem to be. Now, we keep hearing that the alliance is strong, that they're on the same page. That
there is still sanctions of pressure for North Korea or at least as what we hearing from the North -- from the U.S. side. The Vice President Mike
Pence, saying that there's no daylight between the sides.
But you have to look at what's happening, the South Korean President Moon Jae-in, has welcomed this North Korean delegation with open arms. He has -
- just this evening, being at an orchestra. A North Korean orchestra playing, sitting next to Kim Jong-un sister, sitting next to Kim Yong-nam,
the ceremonial head of state.
In North Korea, he's been invited to Pyongyang by Kim Jong-un himself. And in fact, the sister, just before she left, according to Blue House,
actually, said to the first lady, President Moon's wife, "Make sure you stay healthy, make sure you come to Pyongyang. So, the charm offensive is
just incredible for the North Koreans. And certainly, when you -- when you look at the way that the U.S. is being dealing with the North Korean
delegation, which is effectively ignoring them, pretending they're not there. The South Korean approach is just radically different. Becky.
ANDERSON: Yes, fascinating. Paula is in the Pyongchang for you, from the diplomatic front into what is the cold front. Some Olympic events or the
men's skiing have been postponed because of sub-zero conditions. That is not stopping the one very brave group of runners. Ivan Watson has more.
IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They say Pyeongchang is the coldest spot in South Korea. So what better place for a half-naked
road race? Organizers called this, The Naked Marathon. Some of the participants look a little crazy.
Now, in its 26th year, more than 1,800 runners participated. To qualify for a medal, you have to run shirtless. Either sprint for five kilometers
or push harder to the 10K race. Gusting winds force the Olympics to postpone the alpine ski competition. But bone-chilling temperatures can't
stop these Korean runners from this annual demonstration of wager and madness. Ivan Watson, CNN, Pyeongchang, South Korea.
ANDERSON: Back around there, I thought I supported CNN's Mr. John Defterios. How do you call him for a run? No, he's in Dubai right now
where his bringing you a very special edition of "MARKETPLACE MIDDLE EAST", next. John, how do you got install for us?
JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN ANCHOR: Well, at the world government on that, Becky. At Dubai, 4,000 participants from 140 countries and that I say a few big
players like Prime Minister Modi of India. We'll going to talk to Christine Lagarde, the IMF about the shaky global markets. We're going to
appear into the future of artificial intelligence with the minister, the future here in the UAE. And Richard Quest is out the bout, he will share
some of his thoughts on this government summit as well. That's all coming with the bottom of the hour. Back to you.
ANDERSON: Lovely, John. Thank you for that. Well, don't miss all of that, viewers. That is up next, I'm Becky Anderson. That was CONNECT THE
WORLD, a shortened edition. Handing it over to John in, goodbye. Thank you for watching.