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Russia's War on Ukraine; Interview with Former President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko; By 2050, Switching to Electric Vehicles Could Help Save Almost 90,000 Lives in the U.S.; McCarthy's Agenda Disrupted by Hardline Republicans; Revolt by Republican Hardliners in Response to Debt Deal; Prince Harry in Court for Phone Hacking Trial. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired June 07, 2023 - 10:30   ET




KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: This morning, Russia's President Vladimir Putin called the dam collapse in Southern Ukraine a "Barbaric act". Both Ukraine and Russia continue blaming each other for destroying the dam. It has created yet another dangerous and deadly emergency in Ukraine. Rescue operations are continuing right now in the Kherson region.

More than 15,000 people have been forced to evacuate their homes when Ukrainian-controlled portions of the region flooded. One Ukrainian officer told CNN exclusively, his troops witnessed Russian soldiers being swept up by rising waters on the eastern bank of the river. He said many Russian troops were killed or wounded in the chaos after the breach.

Joining me now for some perspective on this and the very latest from Ukraine is the Former President of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko. Mr. President, thank you for coming in. The images of the dam breach are startling. Thousands of people continue to be at risk as we speak. From your perspective, what does this particular disaster mean for the Ukrainian people and how does it impact the war effort?

PETRO POROSHENKO, FORMER PRESIDENT OF UKRAINE: There are no words how to explain how painful, how dangerous, how catastrophic it is for all Ukraine. Ukraine live now with this catastrophe, and I just want to tell you that this is not only a manmade catastrophe. This is one man made catastrophe which was organized by Putin. And I see your words, Ukraine blame Russia. Russia blame Ukraine. No. The Russia is exactly like Nazi's Germany who blamed Poland for aggression.

I just want to deliver you the message. Please, do not trust Putin and do not trust Russia. This is our soil. This is our people. This is our style of life. And everything which we're talking about starting from the animals which were killed in the Kakhovka Zoo and finishing with dozens of Ukrainians which is missed.

[10:35:00] And with this situation, this is completely unacceptable. We are hit in the heart and this is the biggest manmade catastrophe in the 21st century. This is comparable with the Chernobyl Nuclear Power station catastrophe. And with that situation we -- everybody do our best now to support the people in Kherson region.

We just want to -- we go organize the convoy humanitarian, send it to Kherson with a fresh, with a motor pump, with a generator, with the distillation for the water and we do it within a few hours and send it to Kherson. The same like we sent it to the armed forces of Ukraine to support the launch and counteroffensive operation. And behind me, this is the artillery truck which was bought by the -- my charity organization and with my own money and send it now to the south for the brigade which is now in the process for finishing preparation for the counteroffensive operation. And it is extremely important --

BOLDUAN: Mr. President, how does this -- how does this dam breach complicate the counteroffensive?

POROSHENKO: I just want to deliver you the message from our commander in chief, Mr. Zaluzhnyi. The -- one of the version is that the dam catastrophe was made by Russia just to try to stop our counteroffensive operation. And the message from General Zaluzhnyi, which I know very well, which I appoint him in the armed forces when I created it since year 2014. He is a very professional, very caring (ph) general, and he said that this definitely do not stop Ukrainian. This is definitely do not be harmful for attacking of Ukrainian troops to free Ukrainian souls (ph) from Russian occupants.

BOLDUAN: You do not see this complicating, the dam breach. What is done to the land down river from that dam breach, you do not think this would complicate a counteroffensive?

POROSHENKO: This is complicated. This has created a catastrophe for the victims, for the civilians, but not for the Ukrainian troops. This is nothing, please believe, nothing can stop Ukrainian troops, Ukrainian armed forces. Why? Because we are united. United with Ukrainian people, united with our partners from United States, from NATO, from Europe, from all over the world. And that start to be possible because of the enormous assistance of our partners including the United States with the equipped armed personal carrier, with the tank coalition, with the air defense coalition.

And I am absolutely confident that Ukrainian troops is prepared for the counteroffensive and nothing can stop us. Seriously, this is not the way how Ukraine plan to advance through the dam, on contrary. And we do not give Russia any tiny chance to know where they should wait Ukrainian troops, but we are ready. And again, the offensive will start within hours, and I confirm that this is exactly the -- our plan.

BOLDUAN: You say, the counteroffensive will begin within hours?

POROSHENKO: Within hours, not days, but hours.

BOLDUAN: President Poroshenko, thank you so much for coming on CNN. We'll continue reporting out the exact source of what caused the breach of this dam. We understand your point, though, that Ukraine would be nowhere in these circumstances, though, had Russia not invaded now more than a year ago. President Poroshenko, thank you very much for coming on. You heard it here.



A new study claims that a move to electric cars is not only good for the environment, it's also good for our health. The American Lung Association says that if everyone were to switch to zero emissions vehicles here in the United States, the nation would see nearly 90,000 fewer premature deaths by 2050.

CNN's Bill Weir is joining us now. How did the American Lung Association actually come up with the 90,000 people number?

BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Sara, you know, while we focus usually on the heat trapping pollutions, carbon dioxide, methane, natural gas that's heating up the planet. The American Lung Association has this really long data set on the stuff that gets into our bodies, in our lungs.


And they ran modeling, look at the emission standards of our current fleet of what it would be if we were to electrify in the United States by 2035. And it's a pretty stunning thing, just by eliminating the kind of pollution that comes out of tail pipes and dirty fuel power plants would save over 80,000 lives, almost 90,000 lives. It would prevent 2.2 million asthma attacks by 2050. It would save almost 11 million lost work days overall, and save the economy close to a trillion dollars in health savings.

This has been the case of a lot of academics who says that just getting off of fossil fuels, the health benefits would pay for the cost of transitioning there as well. This doesn't take into account, interestingly enough, the impacts of wildfire smoke. More wildfires, a product of a heating planet. In New York City, we just hit an air quality index of 351, anything over 350 is code red for everybody, so there's that concern, but this looks at just cleaning up the fleet of vehicles in the United States.

But there is a long way to go, Sara. Less than five percent of cars sold are electric these days. It's huge -- it's about to uncork. There's a huge pent-up demand, there's huge incentives now in the Inflation Reduction Act. But this also affects folks, communities of color disproportionately around the country. So, the American Lung Association trying to say, this is unjust. Our choice of fuels not only warms things up for everybody but really, really affects communities of color living next to highways and power plants.

SIDNER: We have reported on that many times. I know you have. Thank you so much, Bill Weir, for that update for us.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN NEWS CENTRAL CO-ANCHOR: Revenge and retaliation. How House Speaker Kevin McCarthy's own party is getting back at him for the debt deal.



BERMAN: This morning, just when you thought the drama over the debt ceiling was finished, think again. A bloc of Republican hardliners is derailing part of House Speaker Kevin McCarthy's agenda in retaliation for his deal to suspend the debt limit.

CNN's Manu Raju is live on Capitol Hill. Manu, which I understand it is not the happiest place on Earth this morning.

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Look, these members have essentially held the House floor hostage and began to use their power to derail Speaker McCarthy's agenda. And really, just five of them if they were to agree to essentially defect from what the speaker is trying to do. They can just do just that, essentially, hold up things in the U.S. House.

And they have decided to do that because they believe the deal that the speaker cut to suspend the national debt limit until January 2025 did not actually -- was not in line with the separate deal. That was the deal for the speaker to become the speaker of the house on January on the 15th bout. Recall as part of his efforts to actually get the gavel and run the chamber. He essentially had to cut a whole wide range of deals, ranging from spending cuts and how to run the chamber. These members say that the deal that raised the national debt limit did not comply with that accord and now are pushing back.


REP. KEN BUCK (R-CO): He has to abide by the agreements that he made at the beginning of this Congress. When he was elected speaker, he made promises. We want him to abide by those promises.

RAJU: What did he violate, specifically?

BUCK: Well, one of the things he violated was he said he would appropriate to the 2022 numbers.

REP. DAN BISHOP (R-NC): There's no decision over a motion to vacate the chair. There's no decision about rules votes. But the problem that has been precipitated entirely by the speaker's approach to the debt ceiling package is going to have to be dealt with.


RAJU: Now, that one comment from Dan Bishop there that there has not been a decision yet on the motion to vacate, meaning calling for a vote, seeking Kevin McCarthy's ouster. That was actually one of the other deals that he cut in January to become speaker, allowing a single member to do just that. But they are holding up his legislative agenda and it's unclear how that's going to get resolved, John. They're expecting to be votes in the House in the afternoon. Those could be influx, too, as this standoff not yet ending. John.

BERMAN: It could be a painful day for the speaker, Manu Raju, keep us posted. Thank you.


BOLDUAN: It was -- emotions are running high in court in a London courtroom today. Prince Harry's cross-examination wraps in his case against British tabloids. The question that caused him to choke up, that's next.



SIDNER: Prince Harry got emotional this morning while testifying for the second day about the role the press has played in his life. The Duke of Sussex is alleging that his phone was hacked by the U.K.'s Mirror Group so they could get information about his personal life. One example he pointed to today was a photo of him dropping off a former girlfriend which he said was suspicious because of where exactly that photo was taken.

CNN Anchor and Royal Correspondent Max Foster, joining us now. What else did you hear from his testimony today? I know you've been watching it closely.

MAX FOSTER, CNN ANCHOR AND ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. So, the -- I mean, there's a theme here and this is that Harry is talking about all of these stories. He grew up with these types of stories, the tabloid techniques to get those stories. And he would say, I was suspicious about where that story came from. I think it came from hacking or some sort of illegal means. And then you'd have the lawyer for the Mirror Group saying, well, that's just speculation, isn't it? Because actually this story could have come from this source which wasn't illegal.

So, that was the sort of process they're going through. Harry did, sort of, almost choke up at one point towards the end of his cross- examination, that part of it is over now. He said, for the whole of my life, the press misled me, covered up their wrongdoing, and sitting here in court knowing that the defense has the evidence in front of them and to Mr. Green, the lawyer, to suggest that I'm speculating. I'm not sure what to say about that.

So, it's a much bigger battle. He feels there was so much wrong about the way the tabloids were behaving. He wants to address that. He wants to reform that.


And ultimately, if he doesn't win this case, Sara, he would have at least highlighted many of the, sort of, tactics the tabloid media have been known for using, and perhaps he can reform it that way by highlighting it. But it's been a difficult time for him and now they're currently speaking to reporters accused of using hacked information.

SIDNER: All right. Max foster, I know you'll be watching every second and we appreciate your reporting on this.


BOLDUAN: Coming up for us, new concerns over the health of Pope Francis. He is in the hospital right now undergoing abdominal surgery. An update on his health and condition from Rome, that's coming up.

Plus, red alert. Local governments sounding the alarm over air quality in many American cities as smoke from Canada's wildfires continues to set in. The impact after a quick break.