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Interview with Former Finnish Prime Minister and Finnish President Candidate Alexander Stubb. Aired 1-1:10p ET

Aired February 05, 2024 - 13:00   ET



CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello, everyone, and welcome to "Amanpour." Here's What's Coming Up.

President Zelenskyy at the front lines amid plans to reboot Ukraine's military strategy. A report on the little-known successes. And I speak to

Finland's presidential front runner, Alexander Stubb, maintaining a delicate balance as NATO's newest member.

Then the latest from Gaza as Israeli forces push Palestinians ever closer to the Rafah Border.

And --


PAM MELROY, DEPUTY ADMINISTRATOR, NASA: This is not about a camping trip. This is actually about pushing humanity into the solar system.


AMANPOUR: -- NASA deputy administrator, Pam Melroy, on the growing frontiers in space.

Also, ahead --


DR. UCHE BLACKSTOCK, PHYSICIAN: Black people were often -- our concerns are dismissed, ignored, or minimized, and we have seen that lead to very,

very horrific consequences.


AMANPOUR: -- Dr. Uche Blackstock talks to Michel Martin about her fight against racism in medicine.

Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.

The U.S. Senate has finally unveiled a bill tying together border security and support for Ukraine and Israel. The package would transform immigration

law and give some $60 billion worth of military aid to Ukraine, a much- needed boost for the beleaguered nation that's mired in a two-year effort to fend off Russia.

But the bill has a tough road ahead still, especially in the House, where it's already been declared "dead on arrival," under pressure from Former

President Donald Trump.

Meantime, uncertainty within Ukraine too as President Zelenskyy tells Italian media, a reset is needed to shake up the country's war effort.

But despite being bogged down on the eastern front, there is progress in the south. Kyiv has successfully used drones and other technology to

outmaneuver Russia in the Black Sea, as Fred Pleitgen reports from the main port city of Odessa.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was one of the most brazen and most successful operations by Ukraine's

military intelligence service. Sea drones attacking and, the Ukrainians say, sinking a Russian warship inside occupied Crimea. And he was one of

those involved. His call sign is 13, from the elite sea drone unit named Group 13. So secretive, we had to hide his face and change his voice.

We used 10 drones in the operation, he says. Six of them hit the Corvette Ivanovets.

CNN cannot independently verify that the Ivanovets was sunk, but video provided by the intelligence agency seems to show the mini sea drones

evading machine gun fire from the warship and then massive explosions.

Their weapons are not designed to deal with such small sea drones, 13 says. In most cases, they use anti-ship guns.

Ukraine barely has a functioning navy, but the Magura drones pack a massive punch, around 500 pounds of explosives.

PLEITGEN: These sea drones might not look like much and they might not go very fast, but the Ukrainians say they've been extremely effective at

attacking Russia's Black Sea fleet and even sinking warships.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): The main thing is to feel the drone, 13 says. Not everyone can hold a firm grip. If you squeeze a little, you can lose

control of the drone. I would say it's like working with jewelry.

Asymmetrical warfare, they call it. And the Ukrainians, outmanned and outgunned, say they need to do a lot more of it.

After visiting the southern front this weekend, Ukraine's president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, telling Italian media he not only plans to fire his

top general, Valerii Zaluzhnyi, there could be a larger government shake up.

A frontrunner to become the new commander-in-chief, the defense intel boss known for brazen attacks against Russian military and infrastructure


The Russians are waking up at night to explosions. He says, explosions in the air, explosions directly at the facilities. They see the real picture

of war. They see burning oil depots, destroyed buildings and factories and so on. This is all beneficial.


And the Ukrainians vow to continue hunting Russian military vessels in this battle of David versus Goliath on the high seas.


AMANPOUR: Fred Pleitgen reporting there from Southern Ukraine.

Well, one country watching all this with laser focus is Finland. The Nordic nation recently became the 31st member of NATO and shares an 800-mile

border with Russia. They're currently in the midst of a presidential election, but both candidates for the top job agree on supporting Ukraine.

Joining me now is Alexander Stubb, who squeaked out a win in the first round and faces the voters again on Sunday.

Alexander Stubb, welcome back to our program. I'm going to talk about the election in a second, but I want to know first, after our report from Fred

Pleitgen, what you make of the successes? Because really, as you know, there's just a lot of doom and gloom coming from the Ukrainian battlefield.


sense, it's much easier to defend than to attack. And there's been a lot of back and forth in the past two years approaching the anniversary.

I do agree with secretary general of NATO that the path towards peace does go through the battlefield. I think right now what Ukraine needs is

finance. We got that from both the U.S., hopefully, and from the European Union. It needs weapons. And finally, it needs ammunition.

I think we should use the term that Mario Draghi, the head of ECB, used in the old days during the Euro crisis, whatever it takes, we need to help


AMANPOUR: And just to quote their potentially outgoing army chief, Valerii Zaluzhnyi, who wrote an essay for CNN, saying, we must contend with the

reduction in military support from key allies grappling with their own political tensions.

So, I don't know. Is Finland grappling with political tensions? You are in a runoff for the next round of voting to be president. And I believe in

Finland the president is -- you know, makes a lot of the foreign policy decisions, if not all of them. What would be the difference, depending on

who wins, for Ukraine?

STUBB: I think no difference. Both Pekka Haavisto and myself are steadfast supporters of Ukraine. And indeed, the president of Finland is tasked with

foreign policy and he or she is also the commander-in-chief. We've done our share and will continue to do that.

I know the sums feel a little bit small, but 1.6 billion is not a small figure for us. On top of that, we've given about 0.6 billion on aid. So, we

will continue to help Ukraine. And of course, you can ask why. Well, the reason is that we have in our historical memory many skirmishes with

Russia. They attacked us in the winter war in the war of continuation.

So, we have a very similar experience to the Ukrainians. We can identify with the tragedy that's taking place right now. That's why most Finns stand

behind Ukraine.

AMANPOUR: Could you stand by, please, Prime Minister? We have some breaking news from the Royal Court here in London. I'm going to get to it,

and then we will get back to you.

So, we turn now to breaking news, as Buckingham Palace says that King Charles III has been diagnosed with a form of cancer. The Palace saying,

during the king's recent hospital procedure for benign prostate enlargement, a separate issue of concern was noted. Subsequent diagnostic

tests have identified a form of cancer.

His Majesty has today commenced a schedule of regular treatments, during which time he's been advised by doctors to postpone public facing duties.

Throughout this period, his majesty will continue to undertake state, business, and official paperwork as usual. The king is grateful to his

medical team for their swift intervention, which was made possible thanks to his recent hospital procedure.

He remains wholly positive about his treatment and looks forward to returning to full public duty as soon as possible. That, as I said, is the

full statement from Buckingham Palace. CNN will continue to follow this story and will keep you up to date.