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January 6 Hearings; Russia's War on Ukraine; Three Killed in Alabama Church Shooting; Food Scarcity; Dangerous U.S. Heat. Aired 5- 6a ET

Aired June 18, 2022 - 05:00   ET




KIM BRUNHUBER, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Hello and welcome to all of you watching us here in the United States, Canada and all around the world, I'm Kim Brunhuber.

Ahead on CNN NEWSROOM --


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: But I never called Mike Pence a wimp. I never called him a wimp.

BRUNHUBER (voice-over): Donald Trump is back, lashing out at the January 6th hearings and contradicting testimony given under oath. This as the committee struggles with lining up key witnesses.


BRUNHUBER (voice-over): Ukraine is one step closer to joining the European Union. President Zelenskyy says it also brings them closer to winning the war. We're live in Kyiv.

Plus, dangerous heat waves across the U.S. and Western Europe. We'll go to the CNN Weather Center on when people can see relief.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Live from CNN Center, this is CNN NEWSROOM with Kim Brunhuber.

BRUNHUBER: "The New York Times" is reporting that the U.S. Justice Department could begin receiving interview transcripts from the January 6th committee as early as next month. Earlier, federal prosecutors believed they would not get them until September and delay some trials of Capitol rioters.

Former U.S. president Donald Trump remains defiant, despite the growing mountain of testimony and other evidence against him. He spoke out on Friday for the first time since the hearings began, calling former vice president Mike Pence "weak" for not blocking the 2020 certification.

Several former officials testified everyone around Trump told him repeatedly he had lost the election and a scheme to stay in office was illegal. CNN's Jessica Schneider has more on Trump's reaction to the hearings.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: I never called Mike Pence a wimp. I never called him a wimp. Mike Pence had a chance to be great. He had a chance to be, frankly, historic.

But just like Bill Barr and the rest of these weak people, Mike -- and I say it sadly because I like them -- but Mike did not have the courage to act.

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Former president Trump using his platform at a conservative political conference to deny the evidence against him and blast the January 6th committee.

TRUMP: They con people. They're con artists.

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Trump's attacks come as the committee is gearing up for several more hearings. CNN has learned Georgia's Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger will at Tuesday's hearing with his deputy.

TRUMP: All I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have.

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): They'll testify about Trump's efforts to pressure them to change the election result.

The committee also wants to talk to Ginni Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas, about her communications with Trump attorney John Eastman. Eastman devised the scheme to pressure then- vice president Mike Pence to block the certification of Biden's 2020 electoral win.

MIKE PENCE, FORMER U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: The teller is verified, it appears to be regular in form and authentic.

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Something Pence ultimately refused to do.

REP. BENNIE THOMPSON (D), CHAIR, U.S. HOUSE SELECT COMMITTEE ON JANUARY 6 ATTACK: We have sent Ms. Thomas a letter asking us to come and talk to the committee. We look forward to her coming.

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Ginni Thomas issued a short response to the committee via the conservative publication, "Daily Caller," saying she can't wait to clear up misconceptions, "I look forward talking to them."

Eastman denying he ever discussed election litigation that might before the Supreme Court with Ginni Thomas or with justice Clarence Thomas.

Eastman writing, "We have never engaged in such discussions, would not engage in such discussion and did not do so in December 2020 or anytime else."

While the committee has requested cooperation from outstanding witnesses, it has so far refused to share full transcripts of all of its interviews with the Justice Department but the committee says it will not be an obstacle to Justice Department prosecutions.

THOMPSON: We are not going to stop what we're doing to share the information that we've gotten so far with the Department of Justice. We have to do our work.

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): CNN has learned the panel is running into problems securing witnesses for an upcoming hearing about Trump's efforts to pressure the Justice Department to support and promote his false election fraud claims.

While Jeffrey Rosen and Richard Donoghue, the top two officials at DOJ in the final weeks of the Trump administration, are expected to appear, the committee is so far striking out with Pat Cipollone.


SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Cipollone is the former White House lawyer credited with talking some sense into Trump by threatening to resign. Sources say Cipollone is not expected to join the hearing in person, despite already talking to the committee privately.

SCHNEIDER: And "The New York Times" is also reporting that the committee could start sharing transcripts of those witness interviews with the Justice Department as soon as next month -- Jessica Schneider, CNN, Washington.


BRUNHUBER: Earlier we discussed the hearings with former Los Angeles County prosecutor Loni Coombs. She said the testimony so far puts pressure on the Justice Department to file charges against the major players.


LONI COOMBS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: These hearings have really upped the pressure on the Department of Justice. With every hearing, the evidence has gotten stronger and stronger.

And I think people are looking at this and not asking the question, is there evidence to link Donald Trump to this?

They're now saying, why would you not file charges and how many charges are you going to file?

This committee laid out in the very beginning they were going to put out evidence that this was a sophisticated seven-point plan that he had to try and overturn this election and maintain power.

And that's exactly what the evidence is showing. I think it's been a very compelling way to present it, with the multimedia, with the videos and the witness statements and the live witnesses and also the committee members coming on here and there, explaining exactly what's going on and step by step through the timeline.

I think everyone watching it can say, look, this is very clear that Donald Trump did commit these charges.


BRUNHUBER: Georgia secretary of state Brad Raffensperger and state elections head Gabe Sterling will testify publicly at the next committee hearing, set for Tuesday. Trump pressured them to find extra votes after he lost the election.

The panel is still trying to nail down a witness list for Thursday's hearing. Sources tell CNN it's expected to focus on Trump's efforts to use the Justice Department to support his election lies. Former acting attorney general Jeffrey Rosen and acting deputy attorney general Richard Donoghue are expected to appear.

And CNN will bring you next week's hearings live on Tuesday and Thursday. Our coverage is set to begin both days at 1:00 pm Eastern, 6:00 pm in the evening in London.


BRUNHUBER: In Ukraine, Russia is reportedly deploying more firepower to eastern front lines. Ukraine says Russia is bringing more reserve forces to the region. And Russian artillery is pounding areas near Sievierodonetsk, trying to cut it off from surrounding cities.

Ukraine also says it intercepted two Russian missiles near Odessa and no one was killed. In Kyiv, E.U. and Ukrainian flags flew side by side on Friday after the European Commission recommended that Ukraine should be given candidate status.

The move doesn't guarantee membership, which would be years away. But President Zelenskyy says it's still important. Here he is.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): Ukraine deserves this positive. Ukrainian values are European values. Ukrainian institutions maintain resilience, even in conditions of war.

Ukrainian democratic habits have not lost their power even now and our rapprochement with the European Union is not only positive for us, this is the greatest contribution to the future of Europe in many years.


BRUNHUBER: Zelenskyy spoke after British prime minister Boris Johnson made a surprise visit to Kyiv, his second since the war began, and offered Ukraine a major military training program he said would fundamentally change the equation of the war.

We begin in Hostomel, where Salma Abdelaziz is monitoring the latest diplomatic developments.

Before we get to that, tell me about where you are there.

SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right. So Kim, we're on the outskirts of the suburbs of Kyiv. As you can see, it's a pretty big wooded area here. Right behind me is unexploded ordnances, Russian unexploded ordnances that have been collected by Ukrainian troops after Russian troops, of course, cleared out of these areas.

What they're doing is they're taking these ordnances, bit by bit. They're putting them in this hole that they've dug out in the ground. And what they're going to eventually do is set them off, set off an explosion to try to get rid of these unexploded ordnances.

They've been telling me about some of the munitions they found across the suburbs of Kyiv after the Russians pulled out. And it's concerning. They said they found a 500 kilogram bomb they had to defuse, if you can imagine.

There's cluster munitions that have been found. Those are also banned under an international treaty. So this is part of the recovery operation, of course, for the suburbs of Kyiv, part of trying to get life back to normal.

But the Ukrainian interior ministry said it will take an estimated 5- 10 years to clear all these unexploded ordnances from the areas across Ukraine. And the fear is that these were not just found in the areas where military troops were based. They were found in civilian areas as well and residential homes.


ABDELAZIZ: So families can't come back until these areas are cleared bit by bit. So very dangerous work these soldiers are doing but absolutely necessary to bringing back life to these areas that were hardhit when Russian troops invaded. Kim.

BRUNHUBER: Thanks so much, Salma Abdelaziz. Really appreciate it.

We're following developments the Middle East, where Israel says it hit Hamas targets in Gaza in response to a rocket fired into Israel.


BRUNHUBER (voice-over): Israel's military says it struck a weapons manufacturing site and other Hamas military posts. No word on any casualties yet. Hamas made no claim of responsibility for firing the rocket that was intercepted over Israel.

This all comes after the shooting deaths of three Palestinian men in the West Bank city of Jenin. Israel says they were shot after opening fire on Israeli troops while Palestinian officials say they were extrajudicial killings.


BRUNHUBER: Still ahead, it might be hard to keep cool in the U.S. this summer with the severe shortage of lifeguards on duty at public pools. We'll find out what's behind the summer staffing slump coming up.

Plus, Colombia was once intent of being a green country leader. Why they're considering old energy ideas as the price of fossil fuel soars. Stay with us.





BRUNHUBER: Markets were rattled again on Wall Street after the U.S. Federal Reserve announced its largest interest rate hike in decades in an attempt to get inflation under control.

But the U.S. President says he's confident about the economy. Joe Biden told the Associated Press that America is in a stronger position than any other nation to overcome inflation. He also addressed rising fuel costs. Here he is.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: With Russia's war driving up inflation worldwide, threatening vulnerable countries with severe food shortages, we have to work together to mitigate the immediate fallout of this crisis.

In the United States, I'm using every lever available to me to bring down prices for the American people. And our nations are working together to stabilize global energy markets.


BRUNHUBER: But soaring fuel prices are taking a huge toll on American consumers. Take a look at the cost of gasoline now, compared to just a year ago. Almost a $2 difference.

And home buyers are already feeling the pinch of the Fed's latest interest rate hike. Mortgage rates jumped to nearly 6 percent this week, the largest one-week increase since 1987.

Meanwhile, staffing shortages across the U.S. are putting a damper on summer plans for people across the country, especially at public swimming pools. CNN's Vanessa Yurkevich has more on that.




YURKEVICH: How long ago was that?

BORLANDOE: I'm 70 now.

YURKEVICH: This summer, Robin Borlandoe is taking the plunge, getting back in the pool in Philadelphia to be a lifeguard, 54 years later.

BORLANDOE: I want to do something and feel worthwhile, purpose or something.

YURKEVICH: She found her calling after she heard the Philadelphia parks and recreation department wouldn't be able to open all of their 70 pools this summer. They're facing lifeguard shortages and so is the rest of the country. One-third of the 309,000 public pools nationwide will not open.

How many do you think you realistically will be able to open this year?

KATHRYN OTT LOVELL, COMMISSIONER, PHILADELPHIA PARKS & RECREATION: We're going to have about 80 percent of the staff we need, so we're hopeful we're going to get to about 80 percent of pools we're able to open.

YURKEVICH: It's part of the fierce competition for workers in a red hot summer job market, fueled in part by the lack of foreign workers following COVID immigration restrictions.

There are 11.4 million unfilled jobs with an unemployment rate of 3.6 percent. And despite raising wages, a marketing campaign on TikTok and free certification, the Philadelphia Parks and Rec Department can't find enough lifeguards.

LOVELL: Have people saying to us all the time, target is offering $18 an hour, I'll be in the air conditioning and I get a discount.

YURKEVICH: How do you fight that?

LOVELL: It's hard.

YURKEVICH: When public pools don't open, it leaves some neighborhoods without an escape from the heat and crime.

LOVELL: We're experiencing a huge uptick in violent crimes, specifically gun violence. Critical for us to have safe spaces like this.

YURKEVICH: And across the country, YMCAs which typically serve lower income families have 75 percent of the 250,000 staff members they need to operate.

PAUL MCENTIRE, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, YMCA: We have competition in our maintenance, cleaning and cooking staff with anything that would fall under the hospitality industry.

YURKEVICH: Those camps, more than 1700 of them nationally, also act as child care when kids are out of school. Critical so parents can work.

MCENTIRE: We still have most of our camps, a need for more staff to be able to take children off the wait list.

YURKEVICH: As Borlandoe waits for Philadelphia's pools to open by the end of this month, she now sees her role as more than just a lifeguard.

How do you thing it's going to be different this time around?

BORLANDOE: I'm hoping that being a mother and a grandmother, I'm hoping I'm a little wiser now. And that's what I want to bring, just natural, just that warmth. Don't test me, though.

YURKEVICH (voice-over): Vanessa Yurkevich, CNN, Philadelphia.


BRUNHUBER: A third person has died following a shooting in a church near Birmingham, Alabama, on Thursday.

Authorities say worshippers were holding a small group dinner at a St. Stephen's Episcopal Church when a 70-year-old attendee pulled out a handgun and started firing. Someone stopped him before police could arrive but not before three senior citizens were killed.

Investigators say they don't know the motive but the suspect visited the church occasionally and is believed to have acted alone.


BRUNHUBER: Among the horrified community members, former U.S. Senator Doug Jones, who says this attack should serve as a wakeup call for lawmakers. Here he is.


DOUG JONES (D-AL), FORMER SENATOR: The Birmingham community area is known as the city of churches. There's a church everywhere. Because we have such affinity both for our faith and our houses of worship.

Regardless of your religion, that when something happens there, you would expect that to be the safest place you can be. Goes to show that no community is immune from this kind of gun violence that we see playing out across the country. No one is immune.


BRUNHUBER: But in the weeks following the mass shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde, there's still no gun reform deal in Washington.

Senate negotiators are stuck on how to structure federal funding for state red flag laws and how to close the so-called boyfriend loophole. That refers to the fact that laws ban the purchase of guns by people convicted of domestic violence against someone they're married to, live with or have a child with but not if the victim is a dating partner.

Well, this Sunday, Colombians will head to the polls once again in a runoff election to pick their next president. They'll choose between a former guerilla fighter and Colombia's self proclaimed king of TikTok.

Now in Colombia, presidents only serve for one four-year term, making it impossible for Colombia's current president to seek a second term.

Now some of the key issues dominating the election are the country's economy, which, like many in Latin America, has been battered by the COVID-19 pandemic, income inequality, corruption and a rapidly degrading security situation made worse by criminal drug gangs.

Colombia is setting sights on being a major player in the green energy market. But with energy prices soaring, Colombia's revenue from oil and gas nearly doubled and as Stefano Pozzebon reports, it's sure to factor into Sunday's election.


STEFANO POZZEBON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Deep in the bush lands of northeastern Colombia, something of a gold rush is taking place. Its prospects are not minerals but energy, clean power to lead the country's transition toward a sustainable future.

The desert, swept by sea breeze every hour of the day, offers optimal condition for wind turbines and investors are jumping in. This park is made up of 15 towers and should start producing power soon. At least a dozen more are on the way.

The target is to increase renewables production a hundredfold.

POZZEBON: Colombia has invested millions over the last four years to try to become a leader in clean energy production in South America. But that was, of course, before the price of fossil fuels spiked up due to the war in Ukraine.

POZZEBON (voice-over): As a consequence of the conflict in Europe and the energy crunch that has followed, Colombia's coal and oil export revenues are up, almost double compared to last year.

While phasing out fossil fuels doesn't seem so inevitable anymore, president Ivan Duque also reneged on a campaign pledge by allowing the first exploration license for fracking in March.

This weekend, the choice between renewables and fossil fuels will play out at the ballot. Left wing candidate Gustavo Petro is leading the polls on a decisively anti-drilling campaign.


GUSTAVO PETRO, COLOMBIAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (through translator): They are three poisons. The ugliest one is coal taken out of our Caribbean coast. Then it's oil and the third one is cocaine.


POZZEBON (voice-over): His opponent has other plans.


RODOLFO HERNANDEZ, COLOMBIAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (through translator): Our transition plan to wash (ph) renewable energies cannot take less than 10 years. We must do it step by step.


POZZEBON (voice-over): The war in Ukraine has already had an impact here. Not far from the turbines lies Cerrejon, the largest open pit coal mine in South America.

Although its owner, Glencore, pledged to wind down production by 2034 as part of its climate commitment, it also requested permission to partially deviate a stream to expand the mine.

When Germany announced it was banning imports of coal from Russia, Colombia quickly offered to increase production. Activists, who oppose the expansion of the mine, believe the Colombian environment will pay the price for Germany's decision.


LEOBALO SIERRA, ENVIRONMENTAL ACTIVIST (through translator): The Germans said they were not going to use coal anymore, lead this clean transition. But now there is a war up there and they want to buy coal here.

So where does that leave us?



POZZEBON (voice-over): What we may be seeing is the so-called butterfly effect, when a seemingly minor action in one place leads to enormous consequences on the other side of the globe -- Stefano Pozzebon, CNN, Naguahila (ph), Colombia.


BRUNHUBER: U.S. military volunteers go missing in Ukraine but the Kremlin says it has no idea what happened to them, despite this picture and new videos.


BRUNHUBER: That's next.

Plus, Russia's president gives a defiant speech. Look at how Vladimir Putin is lashing out at the West while vowing to continue his invasion of Ukraine. Stay with us.




BRUNHUBER: Welcome back to all of you watching us here in the United States, Canada and all around the world, I'm Kim Brunhuber, this is CNN NEWSROOM.

Boris Johnson is back home after an unannounced trip to Ukraine on Friday. He offered Ukraine a major military training program that he said would fundamentally change the equation of the war. When he returned, Johnson warned it was vital to resist the risk of Ukraine fatigue as the war grinds on. Here he is.


BORIS JOHNSON, U.K. PRIME MINISTER: The feeling, the pressure caused by the Ukrainian war, the increase in energy prices, when Ukraine fatigue is setting in, very important to show that we're with them for the long haul. And we're giving them that strategic resilience that they need.


BRUNHUBER: Three U.S. military volunteers have gone missing in Ukraine. New videos appear to show two of them. The footage showed up on pro-Russian social media and news outlets.

Now it doesn't make clear who is holding the two men and the Kremlin still claims it knows nothing about them. Now CNN isn't showing the videos because the two men are clearly under duress. But in an exclusive interview, Sam Kiley is finding out more about how they went missing.



SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): These two American fighters have their hands bound behind them. They're dressed in uniforms not their own and they may well have been captured by the very Russians that they've been fighting. This as far as it goes as good news for the comrade who last saw a T72 tank open fire on his two friends.

KILEY: Does that give you any kind of cause for hope?

PIP, FORMER U.S. SERVICE MEMBER: Absolutely. Absolutely. I wish I could say with 100 percent certainty that it's not a fake but I'm -- I have a lot of hope that it's them.

KILEY (voice-over): A former U.S. servicemen, he was in the same battle, as Alex Drueke and Andy Huynh when they went missing in action. He fears Russian reprisals in Ukraine and beyond. And once his identity and voice hidden, he uses the codename Pip. But for the first time on T.V., he described what happened on June the ninth about 20 miles northeast of Kharkiv.

PIP: The team was sent out on a mission on the ninth and they showed up in the area of operations and a full scale Russian armored assault was underway. A hasty defense was set up, two anti-tank teams were set up. Alex and Andy fired an RPG at a BMP that was coming through the woods and destroyed it.

A T72 then turned its turret and fired upon them, drove a few more meters forward and hit the anti-tank mine that our Ukrainian officer had placed. We suspect they were knocked out by either the T72 tank shooting at them or the blast of the mine.

KILEY (voice-over): So far, Russian officials have denied any knowledge of the missing Americans.

Two Britons, both with U.K. and Ukrainian citizenship were recently sentenced to death on charges of being mercenaries by a so called caught in the Russian back rebel area of Ukraine that calls itself the Donetsk People's Republic. They were long standing members of the Ukrainian Armed Forces. Huynh and Drueke had served alongside Pip in a three man team since April.

PIP: As far as I'm aware, were paid about the same if not exactly the same as the Ukrainian soldier who's on the front. And money is certainly not my motivation for being here. And I know it's not Andy's and it's not Alex's either.

KILEY (voice-over): Ukraine has been appealing for urgent supplies of ammunition and heavy weapons. It's also recruited large numbers. The details are kept secret of foreign volunteers into its international legion.

KILEY: So what advice would you give, finally, for anybody thinking of wanting to join the legion?

PIP: Oh, wow. Well, if you have no military background, if you don't have any combat experience, if you expect to come here with air support, intense helicopter support, then stay home because that is not the case. It is the Russian army.

And they have massive amounts of artillery. They have massive amounts of armor and the Ukrainians are giving it their damnedest.

KILEY: Did you make the right call?

PIP: I'll admit to questioning it once in a while but I think yes.

KILEY (voice-over): For those captured by Russia, that answer may no longer be quite so positive -- Sam Kiley, CNN, in Kharkiv.


BRUNHUBER: And the mother of one of the Americans missing is speaking out after the release of the video that appears to show her son. She appeared on CNN earlier to give her reaction. Here she is.


BUNNY DRUEKE, ALEX'S MOTHER: Looking at it, the person moves like Alex does. He gestures like Alex does. And I recognized Alex's voice. It's very distinct. It's rigid. It's deep, it's a baritone voice that we laugh -- we told him he needed to be a broadcaster of some kind.

So I feel 99.9 percent sure that it's Alex but we're waiting for the State Department to confirm it.

I have every confidence that the U.S. government is trying to get Alex and Andy. We've spoken to many people. We've been in touch with Senator Richard Shelby's office. They check in daily with us.

We check our representative's office, checks in with us every day. The State Department keeps us informed all through the day. I have every confidence in that.

As Coach Saban tells the Crimson Tide fans, trust the process. And that's what we're doing.


BRUNHUBER: And she says her son went to Ukraine to train soldiers because he felt that, if Vladimir Putin wasn't stopped there, Russia could eventually end up attacking America.

Well, the U.S. is making its support for Ukraine clear in response to a speech, in which Vladimir Putin vowed to press on with his invasion. The U.S. says it will stand with Ukraine for, quote, "as long as it takes." Fred Pleitgen reports the Russian president also used his speech to air multiple grievances against the West.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): As Russia continues its invasion of Ukraine, President Vladimir Putin laid out his plans to counter U.S. led sanctions.

Putin making clear Russia will not back down from what they call the special military operation.


PLEITGEN (voice-over): Old goals of the military operation will be accomplished, he said.

Putin also claiming Russia was forced to invade because the U.S. was bringing Ukraine into its orbit. Russia's decision to conduct a special military operation was forced, he said, difficult, of course but forced and necessarily.

Putin then threatening the U.S. moment as the world's top power is coming to an end. When they won the Cold War, the U.S. declared themselves God's own representatives on earth, he says, people who have no responsibilities only interests, they have declared those interests sacred.

The U.S. and its allies reject any notion of fueling the conflict in Ukraine and have hit Moscow with massive economic sanctions. But Putin says the measures aren't working. The calculation was clear, to crush the Russian economy with a swoop, he says, obviously, it didn't work.

The U.S. accuses Russia of worsening world hunger by blockading Ukrainian ports and causing a massive spike in gas prices. Putin again blaming the West. Even higher prices threatening famine in the poorest countries and this will be entirely on the conscience of the U.S. administration and the euro bureaucracy, he said.

As Western companies pull out of Russia in droves, Moscow was trying to reorient its economy. A top Russian Senator saying he believes Russia's invasion of Ukraine prevented a larger war with NATO even as Russia's own losses mount.

KONSTANTIN KOSACHEV, RUSSIAN SENATOR: We are all aware about the losses, which take place now. But I am absolutely sure that we have managed to prevent a huge war, probably a third world war.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): And Vladimir Putin says the operation in Ukraine will continue until Russia feels it has achieved its aims -- Fred Pleitgen, CNN, St. Petersburg, Russia.


BRUNHUBER: Ukraine says it will fight a decision to move next year's Eurovision song contest out of the embattled country and to the United Kingdom. Ukraine's Kalush Orchestra won the songfest last month, while the U.K.'s Sam Rider placed second.

Usually the winning country gets to stage the next Eurovision but the broadcasters who run the competition say the war makes staging it in Ukraine unfeasible. Ukraine's culture minister says his nation wasn't consulted and will appeal the decision because holding the contest is a powerful symbol of support.

Some of the world's most vulnerable people are facing unprecedented food insecurity because of drought and food supply shortages driven by the war in Ukraine. We have a warning from aid agencies after the break. Stay with us.





BRUNHUBER: From really bad to far worse, that's one way to describe the global food shortage caused by Russia's war on Ukraine. Warehouses have been destroyed and more than 20 million tons of grain have been stuck in Ukraine. A Ukrainian official said Friday his country is working on alternatives. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DMYTRO SENIK, UKRAINIAN FOREIGN DEPUTY MINISTER: We are using alternative routes with the help of our friends and partners; namely, Romania, Poland and Baltic states. We found two routes. We established two routes which help us export these agriculture commodities.


BRUNHUBER: Ukraine is the world's fifth largest exporter of grain and the fourth largest seller of corn. The global food system was already strained before the war. But the head of the U.S. top development agency told CNN's Anderson Cooper, that will only get worse.


SAMANTHA POWER, U.S. AGENCY FOR INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT: It was bad before Putin launched this gratuitous and brutal invasion and now that he is weaponizing food, that he is holding back what's going to amount to about 50 million tons of grains -- really, 50 million tons when there are people who are starving in subsaharan Africa and beyond -- it will get a lot worse.

So you now are already seeing really dire effects in countries like Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia. You have 7 million kids in Somalia, who are acutely malnourished at this moment in time.

You have UNICEF predicting what is going to be explosion in child deaths at this rate. Again, when you combine climate change, four consecutive seasons of drought and then Putin willfully, intentionally denying the ability of the Ukrainians to get these grains out, it's a perfect storm of terribleness.


BRUNHUBER: In 2020, Africa bought billions of dollars worth of agricultural products from Russia and Ukraine. The head of the U.N. food program said if exports don't resume, in his words, millions will die.


BRUNHUBER: Joining me now is Gyude Moore. He's a senior policy fellow at the Center for Global Development. He joins me now from Washington, D.C.,

Thanks so much for being here with us. So we just laid out the essentials of the impact of the war on food security. And if the threat of starvation for millions isn't enough, there's another associated threat: how this food crisis might then sort of spiral and spark political crises, similar to say the Arab Spring.

So how big of a concern is that?

Not just maybe sparking new conflicts but inflaming ongoing ones.


I think this is a risk. We've seen similar things happen in Sri Lanka and Peru. And there's a possibility this might happen.

I think usually what we're concerned about is that, in most countries, the most direct presence of the state in the lives of people is usually through some sort of subsidies, subsidies for food -- say in Egypt -- and fuel -- say in Nigeria.

And when the prices of food go up, the prices of grains, as might happen because of the war in Ukraine, it makes it really, really hard for -- the subsidies to become very expensive for the state.

And in instances where there's social safety nets and social safety production programs are cut, it can inflame social tensions within countries and definitely lead to social unrest, especially in cities.


So where are you -- what concerns you more?

There might be countries like Nigeria, Mozambique, in the Horn and the Sahel.

MOORE: For Nigeria, not as much food but fuel, because the government provides fuel subsidies. So there's a concern there. For Egypt, because the Egyptian government provides food subsidies.


MOORE: But also in places like Mozambique and Angola, very high standard of -- high cost of living. And those are places where you're concerned that further increases might inflame existing social tensions in those areas.

In the Horn of Africa, of course, we've seen four failed rains and we're projected to see a fifth failed one. Crops have failed. And so people are facing starvation. There's a risk that it might enflame existing social tensions there.

So yes, the places you called are places where -- that are concerning people who are paying attention to.

BRUNHUBER: Many who might be looking at this from the outside might be surprised that many African governments have professed neutrality or sat on the fence with Russia. Many didn't condemn the invasion in the U.N. They didn't support the vote to remove Russia from the Human Rights Council and so on.

So with so much at stake, why have many African governments seemed increasingly reluctant to put pressure on Russia?

MOORE: Well, yes. I think there are a number of reasons why that is so. First, it's that, from the European side, from the American side, there are claims that the crises we have seen in food prices and in fuel prices are precipitated by the Russian invasion. Russia is pushing a counternarrative that is after the sanctions

leading to this and if the sanctions were lifted, this would change. So those two narratives are happening there.

The second thing is that African governments, most African governments, for the militaries, depend on the Russians and Chinese to supply them arms. As much as is possible, they're going to try to retain those relationships. That's feeding into that.

And thirdly, I think, you know, across the continent, too, there is -- Russia is seen as an inheriter of existing residual goodwill from the Soviet Union.

So because of that, African government is -- I don't think, for most government, it is sort of a support for the Russians as it is sort of a cautious approach to this crisis and seeing something that is a European crisis, something that's happening on the European continent.

So there's a mix of reasons why African countries will refrain or be disinclined to vote against Russia and would choose to abstain.

BRUNHUBER: It's obviously a huge challenge and there's no one solution for an entire continent.

But are there any steps that can be taken now that might help?

MOORE: I think so. I think so. So the European Union has suggested a $500 million-plus program to assist Africans dealing with the rise in food prices. I think that's a very good step.

The U.N. organizations like the World Food Programme have been calling for donations. Their program in Sudan was stopped because of lack of funding. The program in Somalia is only 15 percent financed.

So those programs providing assistance to them, so they can be able to provide food for people that are facing starvation, would help. I think they're addressing the debt issue. Lots of African countries are facing significant high interest payments on debt, making it difficult for them to borrow and keep the social programs going.

So addressing the debt issue would be -- I don't think there's a single silver bullet. It's a suite of interventions that will be able to help to mitigate the crisis. So those are things that external actors and the international community can do.

BRUNHUBER: Yes. It's such a complex problem. Really appreciate your expertise, Gyude Moore.

MOORE: Pleasure being with you. Thank you.


BRUNHUBER: A dangerous heat wave is affecting much of the U.S. this weekend. We'll get the details from the CNN Weather Center ahead. Stay with us.





BRUNHUBER: The flooding that has devastated parts of Montana is keeping Yellowstone National Park closed at least through the weekend. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, it's a one in 500-year event.

Heavy rains and rapid snow melt caused rivers to demolish bridges and sweep away entire sections of roadway. More than 10,000 visitors were forced out of the park.

A dangerous heat wave is impacting much of the U.S. Authorities in the Tennessee Valley announced a new June record for electricity demand was set on Thursday. Officials say the same trend is being seen across dozens of states.

It's also an international problem. Parts of Western Europe are sweltering under record temperatures. In France, two locations reached all-time highs on Friday. Several other places saw records for June.

Heat is forecast to peak across much of the country in the coming day, including Paris which could see the hottest June day yet.

In England, a level 3 health warning has been in place since Wednesday for London and other areas because of the heat. Spain is also suffering under extremely high temperatures. It's experiencing its worst heat wave in more than four decades.



BRUNHUBER: Well, that wraps this hour of CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Kim Brunhuber. "NEW DAY" is next.