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U.S. and Russia Hold Arms Control Talks Amid Ukraine Invasion Fears; Police Rescue Pilot Moments Before Train Slams Into Plane; Officials to Give Update on New York Fire That Killed 19. Aired 11:30- 12p ET

Aired January 10, 2022 - 11:30   ET




KATE BOLDUAN, CNN AT THIS HOUR: Developing right now, high-stakes talks between the U.S. and Russia have just concluded. The two sides went in Geneva to discuss nuclear arms control. The talks come, of course, as fears grow of Russia invading Ukraine.

CNN's Alex Marquardt is live in Geneva with very latest on this. Alex it wrapped up. What's been happening today?

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, these talks did wrap up after around seven and a half hours. And we are expecting any moment now to hear from both the Russian and the American sides from the heads of those delegations. Kate, the U.S. -- the Biden administration has been saying for several days now that they're not expecting a major breakthrough. So, we should get a sense from both the Russians and the U.S. about whether the Russians are truly committed to these series of diplomatic talks that are taking place not just here in Geneva but elsewhere in Europe later this week.

We should get a sense from the American side whether they believe the Russians are negotiating in good faith and whether the subjects that they discussed with the Russians face-to-face today are things that they can accomplish. Remember, Kate, the two sides came to the table today with wildly different goals. The Russians wanted to talk about things the U.S. had essentially dismissed out of hand, that being the membership of Ukraine and NATO, as well as NATO forces in Eastern Europe, which Russia would like to see them pull back.

The U.S. says there, however, are a number of subjects that can be discussed and, again, this is going to be the first in a series of meetings that will then go on the NATO and the organization for security and cooperation in Europe. All of these talks, Kate, designed to get Russia to deescalate and pull their troops back from the Ukrainian border. Kate?

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. So, much more to come in the hours ahead. Thank you, Alex. Alex is there on the ground to bring that to us.

I'm going to turn now to Kazakhstan, where violent protests have led to nearly 200 people being killed, thousands more arrested. The president there now calling the violence, in his view, an attempted coup.

CNN's Fred Pleitgen filed this report near the Kazakhstan border.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Kate. Well, we have a very fast-moving situation there on the ground in Kazakhstan, also some pretty tough words coming from the Kazakh president. He called the protests that happened there an attempted coup. He also said that he believed his country was currently going through its toughest time since it became independent around 30 years ago.

Now, he also said that he believes at least some of the protesters were trained abroad, however, he didn't provide any sort of evidence to support those claims. Meanwhile, the Kazakh authorities continue their crackdown. The authorities there are saying that they have already detained around 8,000 people in relation to those protests. They also say that the death toll has now risen to 164 with around a hundred of those deaths occurring in the largest city, in Almaty. Of course, that's where a lot of those really bad clashes took place and a lot of that crackdown also happened as well.

Now, the Kazakhs are saying that the situation there is getting under control. They had a day of mourning today. They also had the internet on again, at least for a certain period of time. But they also said that a lot of that was thanks to the fact that member nations of the Collective Security Treaty Organization provided troops. And, of course, the biggest contingent comes from Russia. Russian President Vladimir Putin was on a call of that organization today. He also blamed the west for fueling those protests and he also said that Russian troops would remain on the ground there until order is fully restored. Kate?

BOLDUAN: Fred Pleitgen on the border, thank you very much. I appreciate it.

Joining me now for more on all of this is John Herbst. He's a former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, now the director of the Atlantic Council's Eurasia Center. It's great to see you again, Ambassador. Thank you for being here.

Let's start with the talks that just wrapped in Geneva, because I'm curious, as Alex Marquardt was laying out the divergently different starting points that the U.S. and Russia enter these talks from, right? If Russia's starting point here is wanting western troops out of Eastern Europe and a guarantee of no further NATO expansion, do you think these talks are doomed from the get-go?

JOHN E. HERBST, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO UKRAINE: Those positions are simply things that the United States and NATO will not accept. So, the question is has Putin asked for these talks in order to see if he can get some sort of concessions from us that justify not sending troops into Ukraine.


And he has to decide if he doesn't get such things, what he does next. But it's very hard to imagine agreements with those Russian demands.

BOLDUAN: Exactly. I mean, this is against the uncertain backdrop of what is Russia going to do while still amassing troops at the Ukraine border. The secretary of state was actually asked on ABC this weekend about your recent advice that more U.S. military assistance should be give on the Ukraine now, a stronger show of force to get Moscow to pull back. I want to play for you how the secretary responded to that.


ANTONY BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, we have been providing defensive assistance to Ukraine, including as recently as the last couple of weeks, almost half a billion dollars this year alone. That's continued. That will continue. And if there's further aggression by Russia against Ukraine, we'll see even more of that. We are making sure to the best of our ability and other allies and partners are doing the same that Ukraine has the means to defend itself.


BOLDUAN: Ambassador, do you think that is enough?

HERBST: No. And, in fact, Secretary Blinken did not answer the question. The reason we should send those weapons now is because we're trying to deter Russia from going in with these hundred thousand and more troops. Putin does not like casualty. Those represent a political problem for him. So, if Ukraine has the ability to create more Russian casualties, that reduces the risk of Russia sending those troops into Ukraine.

I think the Biden administration has done a pretty good job in this crisis. The package, they laid out sanctions about additional weapons, about moving more NATO forces eastward are all sound. But both on weapons to Ukraine, the additional weapons and strengthening NATO's force posture in the east, that should happen before the Russian invasion.

Russia is the provocateur here. They are the ones who put all those troops on the border the border with Ukraine. They are the ones who are sending threatening messages. We want to make sure Russia does not act on those messages.

BOLDUAN: On this most basic level, if this is the path that Russia continues to take whenever Putin, I don't know, feels he's not getting attention, building up forces on the border in order gain leverage, shaking things up diplomatically so U.S. comes to the table to calm things down, where does this risk eventually ending up?

HERBST: The thing to understand is that Russia, on the one hand, is much weaker than the United States and the west in terms of both military and economic capability. The only thing they have is world class nuclear weapons. But Putin has been able to get his way, whether it was in Georgia in 2008, whether it was in seizing Crimea in 2014. Of course, the west has been intimidated by him.

If we take advantage of our strength, if we do the things that the Biden administration laid out but do some of those things before Russia invades, the chances of invading go way down because cannot afford the sanctions we are threatening and he doesn't want the casualties that would ensue, again, if we provide some more of those weapons now.

BOLDUAN: Ambassador, it's always great having you here. Thank you.

HERBST: My pleasure, thank you.

BOLDUAN: Coming up for us, dramatic video of an amazing police rescue.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go, go, go, go.


BOLDUAN: It's unbelievable. Up next, a CNN exclusive, the officers involved in that heroic rescue will join me live.



BOLDUAN: Video you have to see to believe, Los Angeles police officers rescuing a pilot from a plane that had crashed but just moments before a train slams into an aircraft and it was all caught on tape. The video is graphic. Just watch this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go, go, go, go.


BOLDUAN: It's unbelievable. I've seen it multiple times this morning. I still can't believe it.

The Los Angeles Fire Department says the pilot was taken to a regional trauma center with injuries. But, thankfully, as you see how close this was, no one else was hurt in this.

Joining me now on their first national interview are the three, three of the heroes that were on the scene that day, LAPD Sergeant Joseph Cavestany, Officer Christopher Aboyte and Officer Damien Castro. Gentlemen, thank you very much for being here.

BOLDUAN: Sergeant, I was actually just hearing and seeing and reading that you saw the end of the plane crash happen. Can you then walk me through what happened next?

SGT. JOSEPH CAVESTANY, LOS ANGELES POLICE DEPARTMENT: Yes, I was returning to the station from another call when I -- in the distance, I saw the plane basically land onto the street, crash onto the street. As I made my way to the intersection, that's when I just observed the actual crash. The pilot was inside the seat still suffering from injuries and there was air fuel leaking onto the street.

At that point, I had requested some additional units to respond to assist me with traffic control and to possibly attempt a rescue of the pilot.

BOLDUAN: Officer , did you know -- did you all have a sense of how close this train was when you were pulling him out?

OFFICER CHRISTOPHER ABOYTE, LOS ANGELES POLICE DEPARTMENT: No, I did not have any idea where the train was. My primary focus was talking to pilot and keeping him calm and alert. It wasn't until I heard one of my co-workers from behind me say the train is coming and we need to get him out now.


At that point, I never actually turned to see the train. I just focused on getting the pilot out and getting away from the aircraft since there was a lot of aircraft fuel on the ground.

BOLDUAN: Unbelievable. I mean, Officer Castro, can you talk to me what this experience was like for you, what's going through your mind? I mean, I can hear the horn of the train as it's getting closer and closer, and I hear someone yelling, go, go, go. Can you tell me what was going through your mind at the moment?

OFFICER DAMIEN CASTRO, LOS ANGELES POLICE DEPARTMENT: Yes. It happened so fast. We didn't really have much time to think. All I could think was trying to get this man to safety and didn't want to really look back to see how far the train was coming. You could hear it coming. We had to make a move fast and luckily we did. BOLDUAN: Sergeant, have you had a chance -- I mean, we're playing it

for our viewers now. Have you had a chance to see this video now after the fact? I assume yes.

CAVESTANY: Yes, from different viewpoints. All of us were wearing body-worn video cameras at the time, which captured the incident. And depending on which angle, it's pretty surreal. Again, at the time the incident actually occurred, we just acted. And then upon viewing the body-worn video, we realized how close we actually were.

BOLDUAN: I mean, how close? It's seconds close, seconds. It's unbelievable.

CAVESTANY: Right. I estimate it to be approximately five seconds after we extricated him.

BOLDUAN: Officer Aboyte, the pilot was taken to the hospital. We don't really know the extent of his injuries. I believe I may have seen one report that he had been released. But were you able to speak to him at all? I mean, do you know anything about how he's doing now?

ABOYTE: I don't know his current condition, but when I did show up on scene, I was standing by talking, he was awake. And when I asked him what his primary complaint of pain was, he was simply saying he had a headache. I'm hopeful that's all he had. He did have lacerations on his face. But I do not know the extent of those injuries. But he was conscious and talking to me. And he knew where he was and what had happened.

BOLDUAN: Really unbelievable. Officer Castro, what goes through your mind when you see this body cam video now?

CASTRO: It's a close call. I mean, I'm just grateful that we all made it out okay and then we were able to assist and get him out of the plane. It was just unbelievable.

BOLDUAN: It is unbelievable. Sergeant, LAPD put out a tweet and said you all displayed heroism and quick action. Heroism, for sure. Do you feel like one today?

CAVESTANY: You know, I would say no only because this is -- occurrences like this happen every day where we handle our business and we are the utmost professional in how we handle the incidents. This incident just happened to be caught on multiple cameras. But we do our best to do this type of thing every day where we remain professional and handle our business.

BOLDUAN: Finally, Officer Aboyte, did -- I don't know -- well, I guess to all of you if your families have had chance to see this video as well and what they said to you after seeing it.

ABOYTE: I talked to my wife. I try to make sure that none of my family sent my wife any of the videos prior to me actually coming home and talking to her. My wife does have some concern about me being a police officer. So, I knew I wanted to be there to tell her what had happened. And my wife's opinion on the matter was she didn't know what kind of emotion to express. She didn't know whether to be mad at me, sad, happy, proud or scared. She was just a mix of a lot of emotions and the most importantly happy that I was okay, that everybody else made it out of there alive.

BOLDUAN: She's allowed to have all of those emotions any day of the week, because I'm sure you deserved every single one of those emotions at one time or another, Officer.

Sergeant, Officers, thank you so much for being here. It is unbelievable and it's a true pleasure to have you here on the show. Thank you very, very much.

Thank you again.

All right, still ahead for us, we are moments away from getting an update from officials on that deadly fire that killed 19 people in New York, with so many people still recovering from injuries in hospitals right now. Details on that, next.



BOLDUAN: Now, back to a tragic story that we are following. This morning, a community is mourning 19 people killed in an apartment fire in New York City. It's the deadliest fire in New York in decades. And the mayor of New York City, Mayor Eric Adams, is warning that the death toll could still climb higher.

Let's get back over to CNN's Shimon Prokupecz. He's on the ground. He's watching all of this for us. Shimon, they're about to hold a briefing with updates, yes?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. So, the mayor, we expect him here around 12:30 to give an update.


And as you said, there are still many people, some of them kids, fighting to stay alive. So, we're waiting to hear an update from the mayor on that. Last time I was with you afterwards when I got off the air, when I spoke to some women, women here, whose sister -- there was a sister of these three women who lost her three kids, and they were here because they were looking for a place they can gather. There's a mosque not far from here, and so they were looking for the mosque, for a place to go where they can gather and sort of just be together.

As you know, many of the people who died in this fire, who lived in this building are from Gambia. A lot of them have lived there for many, many, many years. So, this was a very close-knit community. And now, really, what they are doing is trying to stick together, get together and try and find some kind of healing here because they have lost so much. We've seen people come to this building to get their belongings, to try and get something from their apartments. The fire department has been letting people inside to get some of their belongings and their medications.

But, obviously, still a lot of questions, as we've been reporting on that door-to-door that was left open, and was there something wrong with it with the maintenance, and that is something that we hope to hear from the mayor when he speaks at 12:30.

BOLDUAN: So many questions around that. Dozens of people, we believe, still are in the hospital, as you mentioned, Shimon. So, we'll be looking for this update on the deadliest fire in New York City in decades. Shimon is on the ground. Thank you, Shimon, I really appreciate it.

Thank you all so much for being with us this hour. I'm Kate Bolduan.

Inside Politics with John King begins after this break.