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Ukraine Makes Gains In Territory Russia Claims They Annexed; Fort Myers Man Clings Onto Tree For Hours To Survive Hurricane; Prosecutors Show Recording Of Oath Keepers Planning For Jan. 6. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired October 04, 2022 - 11:30   ET



WILL RIPLEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Missile capable of hitting, you know, not just that location, but a lot of other strategic locations around the region. This is a time when analysts say we can expect to see even more provocative behavior from Kim Jung- un now that he is past, you know, the worst of the pandemic.

Now that, you know, he's kind of -- things have died down, you know, from you know, former President Trump's time when he was doing things very quietly under the radar. Now he feels emboldened because the world is looking at Ukraine.

And analysts say don't be surprised if we see even more provocative testing in the months to come. A real roller coaster potentially in this region, which could include a nuclear test, the first since 2017, missiles launched from submarines, and perhaps even more -- even more provocative launches like the one that startled so many people in Japan today getting those emergency alerts on their phones and hearing air raid sirens.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Absolutely. Will, thank you so much. It's good to see you.

I want to turn out to the war in Ukraine. Ukraine's army is reclaiming more land across the country south and east. This morning, Ukraine forces pushed into the Luhansk region, one of the areas illegally annexed by Russia. CNN's Nick Paton Walsh is live in Ukraine for us AT THIS HOUR at the very latest. Nick, gaining back more ground and a new defiant statement as well from President Zelenskyy.

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: Yes. President Zelenskyy is saying clearly that he will not negotiate with Russian President Vladimir Putin. That's not with Russia ever, but it's certainly against the man whose war of choice has been tearing through Ukraine over the past months.

The news though, on the battlefront is startlingly in Ukraine's favor. After they advanced around Kharkiv a month ago, they're now pushing through in the eastern direction. We were in the town of Lyman over the weekend to see how they reclaimed that.

But now this morning and today, we are hearing that they're pushing very fast in the south, not far from where I'm standing here. And while the Ukrainian military is quite cagey about what it will admit to, they say they've taken one town called Davydiv Brid, which was a scene of pitch battles over the past months. Now it appears Ukraine is on the forward foot. They're moving pretty fast.

The reason this is important is that the southern offensive is economically important to Putin's presence strategically too, and there are a lot of Russian forces essentially trapped on the other side of a river called the Dnipro on the western side. They can get out in small numbers but they're been there for a while under great pressure with little resupply. And so, the progress in the south could potentially turn into another route.

All of this though, with the weird, surreal backdrop of Moscow continuing to rubber stamp the decision by Russia to declare the occupied parts of Ukraine as part of Russia, it's very hard to get your head around the fact that Moscow is saying this while losing so incredibly fast. But that's where we are right now, with many concerned about the continued Kremlin slight threat they may resort to a greater force, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Yes, it's a surreal backdrop for sure. It's good to see you again, Nick. Thank you.

Joining me right now for more on this is a former NATO Secretary General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen. He's also the former Prime Minister of Denmark. It's good to see you. Thank you so much for coming in.

I want to start what Nick was talking about right off the top, which is President Zelenskyy today signing a decree formally ruling out the possibility of negotiating with Putin. He called -- calling it an impossibility of negotiations with him. Do you think that's the right call to be making right now?

ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN, FORMER NATO SECRETARY GENERAL: Yes. Actually, I support this declaration from President Zelenskyy is incomprehensible to imagine a peace settlement under those conditions demanded by Russia. We have one thing to do to deliver all the weapons to Ukraine so that they can win this war. They have the will to fight. It's our obligation to give them the means to fight.

BOLDUAN: On -- Putin formalizing the annexation today or trying to. You've said that NATO did not respond strongly enough when Putin illegally annexed Crimea some eight years ago. You were head of NATO during that time. Can you talk to me what you think NATO leaders should take from that, the lesson they should learn from that, what was behind the reluctance then that they should learn from now?

RASMUSSEN: The most important lesson to be learned is that appeasement with dictators does not lead to peace. It leads to war and conflict. And the illegal annexation of Crimea is an example of that. If we had reacted much more determinately back then, then we might have avoided the new invasion of Ukraine now. So what we have to do in the short term is to deliver all the weapons to Ukraine that they need to win this war, but we should also ensure that certain invasions can never ever happen again. [11:35:05]

BOLDUAN: And that comes with something I want to ask you about in a second, which is your compact, Kharkiv security compact that you've been -- you have proposed. But before we get there, none other than Elon Musk is now proposing what he thinks is a path to peace and Ukrainian leaders are responding to it.

What he's proposed -- put out there is allowing for UN-supervised elections in these newly annexed regions formally making Crimea part of Russia and also promising that Ukraine remains neutral. Ukrainian leaders, understandably, did not take kindly to that suggestion. But what do you make of this coming from Elon Musk?

RASMUSSEN: Yes, I was very surprised. And I think it's a bit -- it's a bit naive. If we accept that a country like Russia can just grasp land by force, then, we send a very, very dangerous signal to autocrats across the world. It would be a signal, for instance, to the Chinese leaders that they can just invade Taiwan without any costs. So I think we should refrain from putting pressure on President Zelenskyy and his government to accept a bad peace deal and give concessions. There is one outcome of this war, and it is all Russian troops must leave Ukrainian soil.

BOLDUAN: And you've also -- to your security compact that you've proposed, it's about the long-term commitment to Ukraine's self- defense and being able to support them, allies, in committing to their self-defense. What is your message to the Biden administration on that because there is a reluctance, a consideration of what they send in because they don't want to be seen a direct -- by a direct party to this conflict?

RASMUSSEN: First of all, I'm in Washington, DC right now to thank the administration for the incredible delivery of their weapons to Ukraine, and needs not least, thanks to the delivery of highly sophisticated weapons from the U.S. that we are now seeing the Ukrainians making such program -- progress on the ground. However, we also have to ensure that this can never happen again.

And this is a reason why a group of international experts have provided recommendations to President Zelenskyy to guarantee the security of Ukraine in the future. And the best security would be to make Ukraine capable to withstand any Russian attack by ensuring that they have such a strong military, that they can match the Russians, that they -- that we enhance intelligence cooperation between Ukraine and his partners, that we conduct joint exercises and training of Ukrainian forces, and we build a very strong Ukrainian defense industry. That's the best security guarantee we can give the Ukrainians.

BOLDUAN: Mr. Secretary General, thank you for your time. Appreciate it.

Coming up for us. He thought he was going to drown, a father's message to his daughter as Hurricane Ian just tore through. His incredible story of how we survived. Next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


BOLDUAN: Well, the people of Florida are starting to pick up the pieces in the wake of Hurricane Ian. We're also learning truly miraculous stories of survival. And our next guest is one of them. Stan Pentz, he lived in Fort Myers. And when the storm hit, he was trapped. As the hours went by, it only got worse for Stan.

The last thing his daughter Stephanie heard him say on the phone was I think I'm going to drown. For 20 hours, his family did not know what happened to him if he was OK and if he was even alive. Well, now, Stan and Stephanie, they are reunited. Stan Pentz and his daughter Stephanie Downing join us now.

Stan, I have to say, reading about what you lived through gave me chills, and my producer as well. I mean, after you said that to your daughter on the phone, can you tell us what happened?

STAN PENTZ, HURRICANE SURVIVOR: I just said I was going to drown and then we lost connection. And I just said -- I was able to look outside because the glass pane was on the side on there, so I was able to get out. And at that point, I knew I had to get out because I only had about two feet left of looking out over the roof. And I just jumped out and started swimming.

And I was trying to get to the other building that was a second floor. And I didn't make it. I got squished away and I went around the building. And I was able to find some bushes and I grabbed on to it and I pulled myself in halfway Ian, and I just stayed there for hours with the wind blowing and the water gushing over my head. It was just a long time.


And then the wind shifted back so it started -- the water, the surge the other way, so it was starting to get lower. So I don't know how many hours it was, but I was able to get down and get across, get to the building, get up to the second floor, I found myself in that spot where it was -- where the wind wasn't, and the rain -- and I got into a corner. I stayed there all night until Sunday.

BOLDUAN: Stan, what was -- what was going through your mind when you were cling -- as you said, hours clinging to a palm tree or a bush or whatever it was? You're just alone clinging to this. What did you -- what was going through your mind?

PENTZ: Everything. Just my kids, you know, and how long, why is this going on for so long because it just kept going and going. It wouldn't stop. It was just -- I was just thinking about my kids and my grandkids and just everybody I know, you know. And they just kept me going in my mind so -- I don't know how to explain this all.

BOLDUAN: Stephanie, what was going through your mind this whole time? STEPHANIE DOWNING, DAUGHTER OF HURRICANE SURVIVOR: I went through every, you know, scenario imaginable. It was OK, he got out. And OK, he got out and he got to the second floor. And then it was oh, gosh, did he even get out, you know because I didn't even know that he was able to get out of the building yet.

We had a radio that we listened to all night, just trying to hear anything about what was going on down in Fort Myers. So then when they did say, hey -- they talked about his condo place and that. They said hopefully no one was in these. And I just looked at my husband and I'm like, I think my dad may be gone. And it was -- it was terrifying.

And I didn't even get to, you know, talk to my sister about it. I sent her the last screenshot that we have text messaging. And the next day I just -- I saw my sister and we hug each other and we just cried because we truly thought he was gone.

BOLDUAN: Oh my, God. 20 hours before you were able to reconnect --


BOLDUAN: Can you just describe that moment when you were able to be reunited once again?

DOWNING: Well, first, we got Wi-Fi back and someone messaged me and said I'm here with your dad. And I read it out loud to my sister and my sister fall down and she was just hysterical. And I fell back into a chair. And I'm like, oh my, gosh, like he made it. How? You know, like -- so my sister and her husband, they have a big truck and so we didn't know flooding and what the roads going to look like because we're an hour away, so they drove down and they got him.

And my sister ran through the water to him and found him at his place. And then when she drove him back, I was able to see him and I walked in. And my stepdad said to my kids, someone special is here. And I saw my dad, the back of his head sitting on the couch. And I just was like, oh my, gosh. I laid my head on his chest and I said, hey, Michael Phelps, you had a nice swim. And so --



BOLDUAN: As only a daughter could say to her father. I could -- I can say that I would say to my dad.

PENTZ: She gets away with it.

BOLDUAN: And get away with it, exactly, Stan. I have to say -- and tears are coming to my eyes, just seeing your smiles. It's just -- I can see that there's just clearly so much to be thankful for. I mean, Stan, you're alive and you're back with your family but the reality is you've also -- you've lost everything else. I mean is it kind of -- how is it all kind of settling in on you, and what is -- what is your home look like, and what is life going to look like now for you? PENTZ: Well, my life changed, that's for sure. I lost everything that was in there, you know. Everything I've had my life -- all my life. And just -- pitches. Pitches are gone, you know. It's just -- I don't know how much things you think about that you just lost. And I lost everything.

I mean, I remember when I got out of there and I started swimming. I remember I swim and then next I know I hit something with a foot and I went oh, that's my car. It was like, Oh, my car is under there, you know. It's -- I lost that too. It's just everything and so --


PENTZ: But I got my kids. I have my family.

DOWNING: We've had a lot of generous people as well.

PENTZ: Oh, yes.

DOWNING: I had a friend come with a suitcase full of clothing and shoes and we've had a GoFundMe set up and people have just been so generous and wonderful and we're thankful just to have him you know -- help him get back on his feet.


So for now, he's going to stay with me. And we're just figuring out everything day by day. He got a phone and he got a license today, so we're getting somewhere.

BOLDUAN: Getting somewhere. And lots of grandkid hugs and snuggles, and lots of time with dad.

PENTZ: Yes. Oh, yes.

BOLDUAN: Well, it is so, so, so nice to meet both of you. I'm so sorry it's under these circumstances. Stan Pentz, and Stephanie Downing, thank you. We'll be right.

DOWNING: Thank you.

PENTZ: Thank you.



BOLDUAN: This is just into CNN. Prosecutors in the sedition trial against five leaders of the Oath Keepers just revealed a secret recording in court. The recording includes the defendants detailing their alleged plans for the day of the insurrection. CNN's Whitney Wild is live at the courthouse in Washington with more on this. Whitney, this is the first major piece of evidence brought by the prosecutors. Tell us more about it.

WHITNEY WILD, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. And it falls in line with what prosecutors have been building which is basically using their own words against them in both text messages and audio recordings. This audio recording was recorded by an attendee of that event. It was a November 2020 planning meeting. It was about two hours long.

And it was primarily Stewart Rhodes, the leader of this group, again, as you said, laying out plans for what would culminate in a fight in Washington, DC. Here's a quote that really summarizes exactly where Stewart Rhodes -- the prosecutors think Stewart Rhodes had was at the time. "We're not getting out of this without a fight. There's going to be a fight."

Interestingly, Kate, the attendee who recorded that meeting, tried to tip the FBI often later in November of 2020 but the FBI never called him back. And it wasn't until March of 2021, that this person really approached the FBI and they were able to get this evidence. So again, certainly falling within a pattern here of audio recordings, text messages, the plans laid out in very specific detail in a way that prosecutors were able to obtain, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. And this is just beginning as this is now just getting underway and they're presenting their evidence for the first time. It's good to see you, Whitney, thank you so much for following that for us and for the update.

And thank you all so much for watching. I'm Kate Bolduan. "INSIDE POLITICS" with John King starts after this break.