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Interview with Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD); Interview with U.S. Army Europe Former Commanding General Ben Hodges (Ret.); Interview with Russian Political Scientist Ekaterina Shulman; Interview with Cambridge University Hospitals Consultant Pediatrician Dr. Richard Brown. Aired 1-2p ET

Aired May 09, 2024 - 13:00:00   ET



BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Hello, everyone, and welcome to "Amanpour." Here's what's coming up.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They're going to Rafah. I'm not supplying the weapons that have been used historically.


GOLODRYGA: A warning to Netanyahu. Senator Chris Van Hollen gives us his reaction to a major policy shift by President Biden.

Then, Ukraine on defense. Bombarded from the air and waiting for crucial military aid to arrive, Kyiv suffers losses in the east. I'll get the

latest from General Ben Hodges.

And --


VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): We will not let anyone threaten us. Our strategic forces are always ready.


GOLODRYGA: -- it's victory day in Russia, and Putin begins his fifth term as president. But what's the mood like behind the pomp and propaganda? I

speak to political scientist Ekaterina Shulman.

And finally, hearing for the first time. Groundbreaking gene therapy has given the gift of sound to a toddler who was born totally deaf. We find out

more on this medical miracle.

Hello and welcome to program, everyone. I'm Bianna Golodryga in New York, sitting in for Christiane Amanpour.

U.S. President Joe Biden issues his strongest warning yet to Israel. In an exclusive interview on this network, he says the United States will stop

supplying some heavy weapons to the country if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu goes ahead with a major invasion of the city of Rafah in Southern

Gaza. Here's what he said.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Israel is secure in terms of Iron Dome and their ability to respond to attacks that came out of the --

in the Middle East recently, but it's just wrong. We're not going to supply the weapons and artillery shells used -- that have been used --

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Artillery shells as well?

BIDEN: Yes, artillery shells.

BURNETT: So, just to understand what they're doing right now in Rafah. Is that not going into Rafah as you define it?

BIDEN: No, they haven't gotten into the population centers. What they did is right on the border, and it's causing problems with, right now, in terms

of with Egypt, which I've worked very hard to make sure we have a relationship and help.

But I've made it clear to Bibi and the war cabinet, they're not going to get our support if, in fact, they go in these population centers.


GOLODRYGA: The president also said that American weapons have already been used to kill civilians in the war, a recognition of the role of the United

States in this conflict.

The conditioning of its support to Israel's conduct is a turning point in the relationship between these two historic allies. And there may be more

trouble ahead as the Biden administration is set to release a report this week on whether Israel has violated international humanitarian law in its

war in Gaza, a report my first guest today has been calling for Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen sits on the Foreign Relations Committee, and he's

joining me now live from Washington.

Senator, welcome to the program. We'll get to that report in just a moment. But first, let me get you to respond to this news and shift in strategy and

policy from the Biden administration yesterday. First, we should note that I believe the sale in question dates back to 2015 and does not include what

was just passed in the $14 billion supplemental aid to Israel by Congress. That aside, what is your position on the president's take yesterday? And is

this something that you support?

SEN. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN (D-MD): Well, Bianna, it's good to be with you. I fully support the action that President Biden outlined yesterday. The

president has been clear on two things, that U.S. support for Israel's defense is ironclad, and he mentioned in that interview, our continued

support for Iron Dome and defense systems.

But he has also warned Prime Minister Netanyahu repeatedly and personally that a big invasion of Rafah would be a red line. It'd be a red line

because it will cause huge additional civilian casualties and death on top of what we've already seen. It would be a red line because it will take a

desperate humanitarian situation and make it much worse. And it will make it harder to bring the hostages back home safely.


And so, after repeated warnings and the Netanyahu government repeatedly ignoring those warnings, the president, needs to make sure that his words

are followed by deeds. And that's what he did.

GOLODRYGA: You mentioned the red line. The president said yesterday that Israel's actions thus far inside of Rafah have not crossed the red line.

Why then raise this at all publicly, at least, if Israel is not going further than the U.S. has warned them not to?

VAN HOLLEN: Well, look, I think the president wanted to make our position clear. There were some questions after one of his phone calls with Prime

Minister Netanyahu as to exactly what policy consequences there would be if the Netanyahu government ignored the president's requests. And so, I think

it's appropriate for that the Biden administration lay those out.

I'm also told that it was the Netanyahu government that first made public the fact that that the Biden administration was withholding things like

these 2,000 bombs, the kind of weaponry that has caused huge civilian death tolls to date. But I think it's appropriate the president lay out clearly

his expectations and the consequences. As I said, I'm told that the Netanyahu government has made that public, and that's fine to have this

discussion in public.

GOLODRYGA: Yes, that's been reported that the Biden administration had been hoping to avoid making this public, at least until after his speech

marking Holocaust Remembrance Day and addressing antisemitism and reminding Americans that his commitment to Israel remains ironclad despite some


Now, that's being interpreted then as a political move by the president to have waited to come forward with this policy change following that speech.

What do you make of that?

VAN HOLLEN: I don't think that that's the case. You know, the president has been clear from the beginning about his ironclad support for the

defense of Israel. And we all stand together in the fight against antisemitism.

But the president's been equally clear that U.S. provided military equipment needs to be used in compliance with international law and that

recipients of that military equipment need to facilitate and not restrict the delivery of humanitarian assistance, just as he is been clear about

Rafah being a red line because it would create all that additional human suffering. And in his view, and I agree, not in any way advance the efforts

with respect to Hamas. And in fact, set back the efforts to bring the hostages safely home.

GOLODRYGA: You keep referencing Israel's right that you support to defend itself. White House Spokesperson John Kirby just today said, the president

will continue to provide Israel with the military capabilities it needs. Can you just further explain for us what, in fact, you support providing

Israel with? Is it strictly defensive equipment and weaponry in terms of iron dome? Is there anything that you support providing Israel with in

terms of offensive weapons?

And the reason I ask is because Israel says that in its been a few days that it's already had this "very precise incursion" into Rafah, it's

already uncovered a number of tunnels where they say that they have discovered there's been weapons that Hamas has been able to smuggle in.

VAN HOLLEN: So, my view is that the United States should not be transferring offensive weapons to the Netanyahu government --


VAN HOLLEN: -- until and unless -- let me be very clear, until and unless the president has assurances that the U.S. values and U.S. interests are

met. And the president's been very clear about that. Those include things like delivering humanitarian assistance.

I mean, we have, as you know, people who have already starved to death in Gaza, over 20 people, including kids because of restrictions on the

delivery of aid that have been put in place by the Netanyahu government. That's unacceptable.

And, you know, my view is that this cannot be just a blank check to the Netanyahu government. If you're going to have a partnership, which we have,

it has to be a two-way street. It cannot be a situation where the president makes reasonable requests, and those requests are repeatedly ignored by the

Netanyahu government, and then expect the president -- the United States, just to provide a blank check. Again, a partnership is a two-way street.

It's not a one-way blank check.

GOLODRYGA: But hasn't the administration acknowledged that the Israeli government has actually focused more and made inroads in bringing more

humanitarian aid into Gaza?


VAN HOLLEN: There have been some incremental improvements in the aftermath of the terrible killings of the World Central Kitchen employees. It

shouldn't have taken that kind of, you know, incident to allow some more aid to come in. After all, 200 Palestinian aid workers had been killed

before that time.

But the reality is, Bianna, that right now, all the U.N. reporting indicates that we're not able to get more aid in through Rafah or in

through Kerem Shalom, and certainly not delivered from there, because that's the very area where these operations are taking place.

And so, the ability to actually distribute assistance within Southern Gaza has essentially been frozen because of the military action in that area.

GOLODRYGA: So, just to clarify from what you've seen thus far, has Israel met the standard, in your view, in what you would support in providing them

with additional offensive weapons?

VAN HOLLEN: In my view the Netanyahu government has still not met the test with respect to the delivery of humanitarian assistance. It requires that

the government of Israel facilitate and not arbitrarily restrict the delivery of that assistance.

And I think it's pretty clear that while things have incrementally improved, they haven't achieved that goal yet. And the best test, of

course, is the extent of humanitarian suffering within Gaza, which according to, you know, NGOs that have operated worldwide for decades say

they've never seen a more acute humanitarian crisis than we're witnessing in Gaza today.

So, yes, things have gotten better. You know, my view is that the Biden administration could have, should have used some of these tools even

earlier because of the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. But it's very appropriate that after the president of the United States makes repeated

warnings to the Netanyahu government and they're ignored that the president take this action. If you don't, if the president doesn't, it undermines the

credibility of the United States. It undermines the credibility of the president of the United States in the eyes of the world.

GOLODRYGA: So, what is --

VAN HOLLEN: If people see -- yes.

GOLODRYGA: Quickly, just your response then to some of the criticism that this policy and the statements from the president last night have received

from some within your own party, as you know, from the majority of Republicans, Republican leadership and Israeli leadership as well, that

this weakens their fight against Hamas, that this only emboldens Hamas and doesn't put more pressure on Hamas.

VAN HOLLEN: Well, this is not -- the president's action is not what's emboldening Hamas. The reality is that we have these ongoing negotiations

and there are some people who think that Hamas is somehow hurt when, you know, Palestinians in Gaza are subjected to all the suffering. The reality

is that that's not the case. Hamas doesn't care about the civilian population in Gaza.

Gaza and what we've seen through the Netanyahu led campaign is that we've seen huge suffering imposed on innocent Palestinian people. That's not what

moves Hamas. And so, that's why we've continued to call for more humanitarian assistance because it becomes harder and harder for the United

States to, you know, support the Netanyahu government when the Netanyahu government conducts a campaign that leads to these huge civilian casualties

and this huge amount of humanitarian suffering. That's why we pushed for NSM-20 that you mentioned at the start of the show.

GOLODRYGA: Yes, exactly. Let me ask you about that because that was due to be submitted on Wednesday. What do you make of the delay and what are you

expecting from this memorandum?

VAN HOLLEN: Well, I think the delay is understandable. And we're told it will be here no later than a week late. Look, the whole purpose of NSM-20

was to say that when the United States delivers weapons to Israel, to Ukraine, to any country, that country needs to commit to comply with

international law and the delivery of humanitarian assistance.

The report is intended to simply to chronicle the facts and the law throughout this past year into this year as to whether or not those

requirements are being met by Israel, by Ukraine, and others. And it's important that the administration make this a fact-based and law-based

report and not, you know, engineer the report to achieve any particular policy outcome. We can all disagree on policy choices.

GOLODRYGA: Is that what you think they're doing? Is that what you think they're doing?

VAN HOLLEN: What's that?

GOLODRYGA: Is that what you think they're doing? Is that what you think the holdup is? It's being engineered?

VAN HOLLEN: No, no, no, no, no.



VAN HOLLEN: I'm not saying it is being engineered. I think it's very important for the credibility of the United States and the Biden

administration that this include the unvarnished facts. There were concerns about some of the earlier findings the administration made with respect to

the credibility of assurances that had been made by the Netanyahu government where there were lots of reports that the folks within the State

Department who were most expert on humanitarian issues or most expert on the delivery of aid were overlooked and overridden by others at the State

Department who were responsible for sending weapons.

So, again, this is going to be a very important report.

GOLODRYGA: Senator Chris Van Hollen, thank you so much for your time. Appreciate it.

VAN HOLLEN: Thank you. It's good to be with you.

GOLODRYGA: Well, as Israel's attack in Rafah expands, fears for civilians there are growing. The only dialysis center in Southern Gaza City has been

forced to stop operations due to "bombing and the threat of Israeli occupation," Gaza's health ministry says.

Meanwhile, there are concerns over the closure of crossings into the enclave, which are vital for the delivery of aid, and for the movement of

the wounded, requiring urgent medical treatment in neighboring countries. For those who do make it out, the journey to recovery begins away from

home, often without loved ones at their side. As Jomana Karadche reports from Doha. And a warning, some of this is difficult to watch.


JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Behind every door is a story of what war has taken and what it has left, shattered lives, broken

bodies, and tortured souls. This is the Gaza ward at Qatar's Hamad Hospital, where you find just some of this war's countless critically

injured. Some would say they're the lucky ones who barely escaped death and the hellhole Gaza and its hospitals have become.


above-knee amputation on one side and a below-knee amputation on the other side.

KARADSHEH (voice-over): Most patients spent months with open wounds and arrived here with drug resistant infections, making their cases even harder

to treat.

DR. ABUHEJLEH: I've been working in orthopedics around 20, 21 years. I've the kind of injuries, the severity of the injuries, the types of bone loss

and infections we faced with the Gaza patients are beyond whatever I've seen before.

KARADSHEH (voice-over): But even those who've lost so much have found solace in having their children safe and by their side. Raneem sits alone

in her hospital bed, no one by her side. The vacant look in the eyes of a woman who's seen death.

It was on October 24th as Khan Younis was under Israeli bombardment. Raneem then eight months pregnant, was in bed, cradling her one-year-old son,

Ahzuz (ph) to sleep.

RANEEM HIJAZI, CRITICALLY INJURED IN GAZA AND SON KILLED IN GAZA (through translator): I had a feeling something bad was going to happen. So, I held

him tighter. Whatever happens to me happens to him. You don't feel the strike itself. You just open your eyes and you're under the rubble.

I woke up screaming. I was feeling around to find my son. Suddenly, my mother-in-law came screaming, Ahzuz (ph). She found him over my belly. She

picked him up. His body was in her hands, and his head dropped onto my belly.

KARADSHEH (voice-over): When Raneem got to a hospital, they thought she was dead. Her baby girl was delivered by C-section.

HIJAZI (through translator): They delivered her and as she took her first breath, I came back to life.

KARADSHEH (voice-over): With an amputated arm and serious injuries to her legs, Raneem couldn't even hold her baby girl before she was evacuated out

of Gaza. Her daughter is now in Egypt. She's watched her grow in photos. Baby Meriem (ph) now is as old as this war. Raneem says most days, not even

her daughter is giving her the will to live anymore.

HIJAZI (through translator): It's over. Life has ended. There's no more joy. I shut my eyes and all the memories overwhelm me. I saw the baby

formula I used for my son and I felt I was dying. And it was just baby formula, you can only imagine what happens when I see his picture or videos

or his toys or his clothes, the pain will never go away.

We give birth only to lose them.

KARADSHEH (voice-over): Every woman we spoke to in this ward has lost a child. Some more. Shahed married the love of her life, Ali (ph), a 26-year-

old university professor. When the war started, she was seven months pregnant with their first child.

SHAHED ALQUTATI, CRITICALLY INJURED IN GAZA AND HUSBAND KILLED IN GAZA: A week before the war, we bought everything for the baby. Every clothes,

every single T-shirts, pink, pink, pink, pink.


KARADSHEH (voice-over): On October 11th, a blast hit their home. Ali (ph) and Shahed found themselves on the street. Shahed lost her leg, Ali (ph),

both legs and his arm. They called out each other's names before they were rushed to hospital. But Ali (ph) didn't make it. Two days later, their baby

girl they'd named Sham (ph) arrived into this world, lifeless.

ALQUTATI: It's really hard, very hard, because this is like my everything, you know, my everything. This is my everything. Suddenly, disappeared.

KARADSHEH (voice-over): Shahed's nightmare didn't end here. She was one of hundreds of patients trapped in Shifa Hospital when it came under Israeli

siege. Like other patients forced out, her father had to push her on a wheelchair for hours to get to Rafah.

ALQUTATI: When we reach Rafah, like my injury was all infections. Like the hospital is not clean. To go in -- if I want to go to the hospital, I will


KARADSHEH (voice-over): Despite everything she's gone through, a resilient Shahed somehow still smiles.

ALQUTATI: No one will feel the pain here. Like I'm -- with my -- with the people strong, happy, like laughing. But when I'm like alone, I feel

something painful here. I cannot be healed from that.

KARADSHEH (voice-over): In every corner of this ward, a story of pain and grief, too many for us to tell. The journey to recovery for the few who

make it out begins here, but how does anyone ever heal from this?

Jomana Karadsheh, CNN, Doha.


GOLODRYGA: All right. Well, coming up after the break for us, as Ukraine waits for military aid to arrive, Russia ramps up its war effort. Is Putin

taking advantage of the delay? I'll ask General Ben Hodges.


GOLODRYGA: Welcome back. It is Victory Day in Russia, commemorating the defeat of Nazi Germany in World War II. And Moscow celebrated by pounding

Ukraine with its biggest airstrikes in weeks, bombarding power plants and civilian targets across the country.

Western intelligence believes Russia is exploiting a window of opportunity. Taking advantage of an artillery drought after Republicans in Washington

blocked the weapons pipeline to Ukraine. Well, now that funding is restored, can Ukraine fight its way back from months of forced inaction?

General Ben Hodges was the U.S. Army commander in Europe and he joins me now live from Heidelberg, Germany. General, thank you so much for joining



So, as we mentioned another massive strike against Ukraine. Really invigorated. It seems an emboldened Vladimir Putin now celebrating not only

Victory Day, but obviously his fifth term now as president. Russia has been solidified. Give us your take on what is being called a six-month

battlefield drought, and if you think that that has created Putin, who regardless of where the war stands on the battlefield, feels that he is in

the driver's seat at this point.

GEN. BEN HODGES (RET.), FORMER COMMANDING GENERAL, U.S. ARMY EUROPE: Thank you, Bianna. Well, first of all, what you pointed out right in the very

beginning, these strikes from Russia are going against civilian targets. So, violations of international law. The whole world. Should be outraged at

what Russia is doing every single day, killing innocent civilians.

Now, I think Russia is trying to exploit the advantage they have in artillery ammunition because of the drought over the last almost eight

months. But it's worth putting these things in context. Russia has had every advantage for 10 years. And after 10 years, even without the United

States actually committing to Ukraine winning, Russia still only controls about 20 percent of Ukraine.

So, while it's late, it's not too late, this aid is going to help stabilize the situation, I believe, at least for this year.

GOLODRYGA: Stabilize the situation, but from Putin's vantage point, he just now has received, as he would interpret, a mandate to keep this war

going. It's what's kept its economy right now 100 percent at a wartime footing. It's grown over 3 percent this year, expected to grow over 3

percent next year. And by all accounts, it requires the war continuing for the economy to remain as hot as it is right now, generating a lot of job

growth as well.

He told Putin, told his fighters, commanders in Ukraine yesterday, "We have every possibility of meeting these targets, but only under one condition,

your successful work on the battlefield. This is the key link at the moment."

How would you rate, before we get to Ukraine, how Russia has been doing the last six months?

HODGES: First of all, let's keep in mind that Russia's economy is about the same as Italy's economy. So, yes, those numbers you rolled out, those

are accurate, but that's of an economy the size of Italy's. That's not the economy of the United States or even Germany or U.K.

So, putting that in context, this also highlights the fact that we have not used effectively all of the economic tools that we have. I mean, a lot of

sanctions -- a lot more sanctions were just put in place two weeks ago. Why didn't this happen two years ago? And I think if we can tighten up the

sanctions, that's not going to win it, but that will severely cripple Russia's ability to keep revitalize -- trying to revitalize their economy.

Now, his -- I don't know that he's revitalized. There was never any doubt in this fake election that he was going to be president again. But clearly,

all of this, that you've just described, indicates he has no incentive or even a care to negotiate as long as he feels like he's in the driver's


GOLODRYGA: Yes, no doubt. This is anything anyone would describe as a legitimate election. That is for sure. Let's talk about what Ukraine needs

right now. They finally got that boost that they've been waiting for the past six months in this delay, the $60 billion dollars in aid. Some of that

coming as we speak. Talk about what they need right now the most.

HODGES: Sure. Thank you. Three things that Ukraine needs the most. Number one, they need to hear the president of the United States say that it is in

our strategic interest that Ukraine defeats Russia. That has not been said yet. What we hear is, we're with Ukraine for as long as it takes. We want

you to be able to stay in the fight. This is not strategic vision. There needs to be clarity of the outcome. And it should be that Ukraine defeats

Russia, and that should come from Germany as well as U.K. and France as well. If you get that, then all the excuses about why we're not providing

certain things will quickly fall away. And that will also make it clear to Putin that he's not ever going to win.

The second thing, of course, that Ukraine needs is air and missile defense. I mean, they're -- innocent people are being killed every day. The power

infrastructure that you described is being damaged every single day. We have to get serious about helping protect them. We had U.S. and British

pilots flying in support of Israel against Iranian attacks, and Israel has the best air defense in the world. Why are we not trying to do more to help



And then, the third thing that Ukraine desperately needs from the outside, is a more long-range precision strike capability, whether that's more Storm

Shadow from U.K., or Scout from France, or the 300-kilometer version of ATACMS from the United States or the German Taurus. All of these would give

Ukraine the ability to destroy Russian headquarters and logistics, which would undermine Russia's only advantage, which is their mass.

GOLODRYGA: So, does that suggest that you support strikes inside of Russia specifically, because there had been some questioning among the U.S.

officials as to whether that's something they would support?

HODGES: So, two things. First of all, there are thousands of targets inside Russian occupied Ukraine that need to be hit. So, what I'm

suggesting, of course, is that --

GOLODRYGA: Right. Not Russian occupied. Yes. I'm talking about, you know, Russia proper.

HODGES: Right. I'm coming to that. But they -- in order to undermine Russia's advantage of mass, Ukraine needs to be able to hit Russian

logistics and headquarters that are inside Russian occupied Ukraine.

To the question about inside Russia, of course Ukraine should be able to hit those targets, whether it's oil and gas infrastructure or airfields

from which Russian jets are taking off, attacking Ukrainian cities. I was embarrassed when the administration said that maybe Ukraine shouldn't do

that at the exact same time that Russian missiles are slamming into Ukrainian cities. I don't understand that, But that -- if you don't have a

clear objective, then it's very difficult to have good policy and that's what we're seeing.

GOLODRYGA: General Ben Hodges we appreciate your expertise and analysis. Thank you as always.

HODGES: Thank you. Thanks very much.

GOLODRYGA: Still to come for us, behind all of the pomp and propaganda, what is the mood like inside Russia? We'll find out from political

scientist Ekaterina Shulman.


GOLODRYGA: Welcome back. Well, as I mentioned, it was indeed a day of patriotic fervor in Russia, with crowds gathered in Moscow's Red Square to

mark the country's victory in World War II.

Military bands, vehicles, and missile launchers all on display and inspected by President Vladimir Putin. Freshly sworn in for his fifth term

as Russia's leader against a state after a state mandated election. The event has become a hallmark of Putin's chest bumping and holds particular

significance this year as the country makes advances on the front lines in Ukraine. Correspondent Clare Sebastian reports.


CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Amid unseasonal snow flurries, Russian President Vladimir Putin using this moment to turn up the

heat in his war of words with the West, accusing it of distorting history.


?Using this moment to turn up the heat in his war of words with the West, accusing it of distorting history.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): Revanchism, mockery of history, and the desire to justify the current followers of the

Nazis are part of the general policy of western elites to foment new regional conflicts.

SEBASTIAN (voice-over): Putin's third victory day since his full-scale invasion of Ukraine, another opportunity for his own brand of factual

distortion. Painting the war in Ukraine as the sequel to Russia's role in defeating Nazi Germany, portraying the West as the aggressor, justifying

unimaginable losses under the banner of patriotism.

PUTIN (through translator): Russia is going through a difficult period. The fate of our motherland depends on every one of us.

SEBASTIAN (voice-over): Soldiers fresh from the front lines in Russia's so-called special military operation also treading the damp cobbles of Red

Square. And yet, this year victory seems more attainable.

Russia now has the advantage on Ukraine's frontlines. Gains on the eastern front in recent months, their biggest in more than a year and a half.

Moscow confident enough to show off a selection of battlefield trophies. European and American tanks and armored vehicles, part of a month-long

exhibition at Moscow's Victory Park.

At home, Putin, now two days into his fifth term, is more powerful than ever. And he wants the world to know it.

PUTIN (through translator): Russia will do everything to avoid a global confrontation. But at the same time, we will not let anyone threaten us.

Our strategic forces are always combat ready.

SEBASTIAN (voice-over): It was a measured nuclear threat. As ballistic missiles rolled across Red Square, Putin casually coordinated plans for

upcoming non-strategic nuclear exercises with close allied Belarus. Both leaders emphasizing this is just routine training.

While western leaders no longer join Russia in marking this shared victory, Putin knows they are watching.

Clare Sebastian, CNN, London.


GOLODRYGA: And now to discuss the mood in Russia today, as well as Russia's advances in Ukraine, I'm joined by Ekaterina Shulman. She is a

Russian political scientist and an expert on authoritarian regimes. And she joins me now live from Berlin. Ekaterina, thank you so much for joining us


So, obviously, this is a significant day every year in Russia, in Moscow. Aside from the snowflakes and flurries that we saw, which was a bit unusual

this time of year, and what I counted was just one military tank, I think a reminder of just how many Russia has lost in this warm, what else stood out

to you from what we heard from Vladimir Putin?

EKATERINA SHULMAN, RUSSIAN POLITICAL SCIENTIST: The function of the ritual is its repetitiveness. It has to be more or less the same every year to

create in the spectators a comfortable feeling of sameness. So, I think that really, except for the weather, it was a fairly typical Victory Day

Parade. There are less and less foreign leaders in Moscow on May 9th every year. And this time, it was mostly the leaders of the former Soviet

republics and a few African presidents who came to Moscow to share the celebration.

Again, otherwise, the speech given by the president is ritualistic. As has been said just now, the threat has been measured. The usual thing about

Soviet Union fighting Hitler alone, and not just Hitler but the unified forces of the whole Europe, with nothing mentioned about United States or

Great Britain, that has been also a repetition of what we have heard during previous years.

So, nothing you nothing you hear, just the shortened time off the military parade, perhaps is to be noticed. Every year, there's less and less time

spent by the military on the Red Square itself. Usually something breaks down. A year ago, it was one of the tanks that suddenly stood still. This

year, it's just one of the soldiers lost his boot. So, again, this is nothing out of the common way.

GOLODRYGA: And this comes a day after Putin was inaugurated again for a fifth term. Important to remind viewers. I'm sure most are aware now this

was anything but a free and fair election. But yet, it was important for Vladimir Putin, who is still quite popular in Russia. But officially, he

won 87 percent of the vote in the last election to at least give the image of a mandate.

I want to have you respond to what Julia Ioffe wrote about this in the speech. She said, this was a speech of a wartime nationalistic dictator, a

man who talked about our historical lands. This was not a speech of a soft authoritarian. It was the speech of a fascist. It was also the speech of a

man who knows he is winning, a man who beat the odds yet again to come out on top, further providing his superiority, proving his superiority above

his subjects and thus his divine right to rule them as he sees fit.


Is that how you interpret his speech on Inauguration Day?

SHULMAN: Journalists have the freedom to use phrases that we political scientists cannot allow ourselves. I think that the impression that this

speech was crafted to create was, yes, to reassure the audience, which are the members of the Russian elite, these 2,500 people, collected in the

Kremlin, to reassure them that the president's -- the leader's grip on power is as firm as ever or maybe even firmer.

That things are going on well, that they have nothing to worry about, that they ought to be happy to be here and not to be on the frontline or in

exile or in prison. So, remaining within the system is to their advantage. And that the system is able to achieve the goals that it sets before

itself. Even if these goals are rather vague.

Whenever there is talk of victory, there's never ever definition of victory that is even approximately concrete. But again, this reassuring impression

is, I think, what was intended. And judging by the words you have just quoted, it was not -- it has not just achieved its effect on the immediate

audience, but on the outside external audience as well.

GOLODRYGA: So, there's so much Russian dark humor that we could get into at this point, but we don't have the time and we'll save this for maybe a

conversation off camera. As a political scientist you're here to talk about the statistics and what's actually happening on the ground.

And looking at least at the economy, there is something Putin is boasting about. Despite what the other measures had been going into the war, the

predictions that the economy would suffer, that the economy would collapse in Russia and go into recession, the economy, in fact, has grown over 3

percent, is expected to as well.

Because as we discussed in our previous segment, it is fully 100 percent now in a wartime footing, employing over half a million new jobs just

strictly related to the war, and we've seen a significant spike in salaries as well. How are everyday Russians feeling about the economic realities


SHULMAN: First and foremost, we should be aware that we have really very little reliable data coming from Russia these days. Even if we are talking

about concrete economic statistics, we should know that more and more ministries and other state bodies are closing the data that they were

previously sharing.

And Rosstat, the Russian state statistical agency, is doctoring the data in such a way as to appeal to -- well, first and foremost to the president, to

bring good news and not bad news. So, we should be extremely careful not to swallow the Kremlin prepared picture of economic reality.

And the same applies to public opinion. Since the war response rates -- according to those of our sociological agencies that publish such

information, response rates have fallen below 10 percent, which means that out of every 10 people approached by a sociologist, nine or more refused to

talk. So, this has also to be taken into account.

Yes, yes. This is not often understood. And that means that those people who agree to talk, who agree to respond, are predominantly loyalists. And

this, of course, skews the resulting picture very much.

But there are various markers, psychological markers that we are watching. For example, the anxiety rate. The so-called anxiety rates. When people are

asked, what do they think is the predominant mood of those around them, not of themselves, but of those around them, which allows them to be a little

bit more objective.

And we see that these anxiety levels rise, not according to the, for example, events on the frontline, but only according to something that is

happening inside the country. For example, well, mobilization was the event that affected anxiety rates the most. And after that, terrorist attacks

inside Russia, events like the Krokus concert hall attacks, disruption of rituals during the New Year or Victory Day celebration. These things affect

the mood of everyday Russian.

On economic or the so-called consumer optimism, generally, people say that the worst of times are yet before us, economically speaking, but when asked

about their own financial wellbeing or their families, they're more optimistic. So, it's this a little bit paradoxical picture when people

think that generally the country is not doing very well, but they are managing somehow.


You were right about the increase of salaries. They are increasing for the contract soldiers, drafted by the minister of defense, consequently by the

people employed by a military industrial sector and consequently by other economic sectors as well. And this is affected by the decrease of labor

migration, less migrants -- less labor migrants are coming to Russia.

And so, those that remain have to be paid more. This drives upward inflation rates. Especially food inflation and general inflation in

consumer sector. But, of course, this also brings more money to the consumer sector generally. And this money are coming to the poorer regions

and to the blue collar social strata that were not the beneficiaries of previous phases of economic growth.

So, it's an artificial economic growth absolutely fooled by budgetary spending, but it is also giving money to those that didn't have it before.

GOLODRYGA: But one that is being driven, would you agree, by the war? So, I know that polling at least early months into the war showed that most

Russians did oppose the war. If this is an economy that's growing largely because of the war and thus extending it may benefit not only Vladimir

Putin but many Russians who depend on the income coming in from war related subsidies, does that worry Russians that this war could go on for much


SHULMAN: Again, we cannot ask direct questions like do you support the war, do you want to get 15 years in penal colony? The result will not be

informative. But judging from those indirect markers that I have mentioned, like, again, optimism or anxiety, or, for example, answers to questions

whether army spending or social spending should be a priority for the federal budget, we can see that the hardcore pro military part of the

respondents is around 18 to 20 percent.

A comparative number of people are anti-war. And the rest are the neutrals or those people who haven't a solid position and who would, of course, side

with the victor.


SHULMAN: But by the end of 2022, we can say that most Russians would like the war to be over. Some add, it should end with our victory. Some say it

should be over no matter what. But if there is any end of this, most of the people will be happy to hear it.

GOLODRYGA: Well, that, I guess, leaves us with some reassurance that from all of your polling and the work that you've done it appears that the

majority of Russians would like to see this war come to an end, even if that does mean a slowing economy. Ekaterina Shulman, thank you for joining


SHULMAN: Thank you.

GOLODRYGA: And when we come back, how a baby who was born completely deaf can now hear thanks to a world first gene therapy trial. I'll talk to one

of the doctors who made that happen.



GOLODRYGA: And finally, for us, a medical breakthrough that just changed the life of a toddler in the U.K. Incredibly, little one year old Opal

Sandy can hear for the first time thanks to the world's first gene therapy trial for deafness.

A rare genetic condition meant Opal was born completely deaf. Well, now, she can hear sounds as quiet as a whisper. Here she is, finally hearing her

mom's voice.



GOLODRYGA: Wow. Well, a surgeon overseeing the trial at a hospital in Cambridge said results exceeded expectations, calling it a potential cure.

Dr. Richard Brown, a consultant pediatrician who helped spearhead the trial, joins me now.

Doctor, I'm continuing to talk because if I stop, I'm going to start crying after seeing that video because videos like that always brings a tear to my

eye. Bravo. Congratulations on really changing this family's life and Opal's life for the future.

Tell us when it became clear to you that the results exceeded your expectations, that Opal could hear even something as quiet as a whisper.

DR. RICHARD BROWN, CONSULTANT PEDIATRICIAN, CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY HOSPITALS: So, this was a little process for us. So, within the first six weeks, then

we could just start to hear a little bit of improvement on the testing that we were doing. And indeed, at that time, her parents said that they could

perceive some response to sounds.

By 13 weeks, then her parents were convinced that she could hear them and our testing was beginning to show some useful hearing. And by 24 weeks,

then, you know, with the objective audiology tests and we were seeing that she could hear as quiet as 25 decibels, which is very good. But more

importantly, that exactly as you say, she can hear a mom's voice and she recently said daddy.

So, if you think that video is a heartbreaker, then I think for that family, then for that response was just incredible.

GOLODRYGA: Incredible indeed. Can you tell us a little more about the condition Opal was born with?

DR. BROWN: Yes, it's a genetic condition. So, she has a spelling change in the gene we call OTOF. And what that does is it codes for a protein called

Otoferlin, and that's really important in the functioning of the inner ear. So, the key really about Opal's condition and the reason why it was so

suitable for gene therapy is that the anatomy of the inner ear is completely perfect.

So, the cochlear is a little organ, about -- just like -- it looks like a little shell, and it's about half a centimeter across. And that is where we

perceive all of our sound, where sound is sensed. Now, the problem in her condition is that that organ can't talk to the nerve that takes the signal

to the brain. And all you need to make the whole system function perfectly is to just drop in the gene that produces that protein into those cochlear

hair cells.

And so, with the amazing technology that was developed actually in the United States by a biotech company called Regeneron we were able to put

that gene into her cochlear hair cells.

GOLODRYGA: So, how many genetic based hearing irregularities are those like the one Opal has in the sense of is technology like this scalable?

DR. BROWN: So, absolutely. So, this is exciting because we can help Opal and we can hopefully help the other children in the study that we're

recruiting to. And of course, the implication for that is that perhaps within the U.K., within the U.S. and within other countries around the

world, that we could potentially roll out this treatment to other patients with the OTOF mutation.

But that mutation is rare. And there are many genetic causes of hearing loss, and some of them are actually much more common than OTOF. So,

actually, what we're hoping and what we're working on at the moment is to be able to use the same type of gene therapy for even more conditions for

congenital hearing loss. And so, that we hope ultimately that more children will be able to benefit.


GOLODRYGA: That is so wonderful to hear. In the final few seconds we have, will Opal require more therapy going forward?

DR. BROWN: So, we're hoping that it's one and done in that ear, and that she'll have hearing in that ear for the rest of her life.

GOLODRYGA: That is just astonishing and just -- I think you've pinpointed that there are so many others who don't have the rare condition that she

did that could benefit from gene therapy. Is this something that needs to be addressed at such an early age like Opal's or can older hearing-impaired

patients also receive this treatment?

DR. BROWN: So, we're starting to recruit patients in our trial up to the age of 17, and we've recently undertaken gene therapy in another patient

who is three at that age. But in general, where we're dealing with disorders of brain and development, then it's really important to get

therapy in as soon as possible.

And when we start thinking about how genomic medicine could help other children with rare genetic diseases, then early genetic diagnosis is going

to be really important and building an evidence base for genomic medicine is, I think, the future.

GOLODRYGA: Well, someone with an aunt and uncle who are hearing impaired, this is a deeply personal story for me and very promising. Thank you so

much for bringing us this ray of light today, Dr. Richard Brown. We appreciate your time.

DR. BROWN: It's a pleasure. Thank you.

GOLODRYGA: And that is it for now. Thank you so much for watching, and goodbye from New York.