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Greater Russian Hostility to be Expected; Recession Not Inevitable, Biden Administration; Record Heat Waves All Across the United States; Heavy Flooding Hit India and Bangladesh; Macron's Centrists Lose Absolute Majority In Parliament; Leftist Gustavo Petro Wins Presidential Race; Holiday Marking End of Slavery Celebrated Across U.S. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired June 20, 2022 - 02:00   ET




LYNDA KINKADE, CNN HOST: Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us from here in the United States and all around the world. You're watching "CNN Newsroom." I'm Lynda Kinkade. Just ahead, as the body count mounts and many Ukrainians cities lie in ruins, a warning from President Zelenskyy that Russian attacks may be even worse this week.

Also, soaring inflation and major interest rate hike and a bear market, why despite all those economic hardships the Biden administration says recession is not inevitable.

Plus, sweating in the USA, triple digit temperatures across the Midwest, with more record heat on the way.

We begin in Ukraine where President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is warning that Russia could once again step up its attacks as European union leaders consider whether to back Ukraine's bid to join the bloc.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, PRESIDENT OF UKRAINE (through translation): We should expect greater hostile activity from Russia, purposefully, demonstratively, this week exactly. And not only against Ukraine, but also against other European countries. We are preparing, we are ready, we warn partners.


KINKADE: Well, those warnings come as fierce fighting continues in the eastern city of Severodonetsk, critical to Russia's push to take control of the wider Donbas region. We're also getting a look at the moment Russian forces seized control of Lyman, about 60 kilometers west of Severodonetsk.

This video from a Russian soldier's body cam shows troops moving past destroyed buildings before entering a local government building. The Russian soldiers make their way up to the roof where they wave their victory flag.

Well, Ukraine confirmed days later that the city had been taken by Russian forces. Well, for more on all these developments, I want to bring in CNN's Salma Abdelaziz. She joins us live from Kyiv. Good to have you with us, Salma. So, NATO and British -- NATO leaders and the British prime minister are warning right now that this war in Ukraine could drag on for years. And at the same time, we've got the president of Ukraine saying that he expects things could escalate this week.

SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN REPORTER: Absolutely. I think all along Ukraine and its allies have believed that President Putin is playing the long game here. That this is a conflict that could drag out, as you said, for years and really turn into a war of attrition, both sides throwing enormous amounts of firepower of artillery power of their military might without either side moving very much.

And we see that already taking place right along that eastern frontline in places like Severodonetsk where it's been under constant attack for two months. But the Ukrainian military is obviously facing a much superior Russian military force where they are outgunned, they are outmanned.

Ukrainian forces say they are losing 100 to 200 soldiers a day and the question is whether or not they can sustain those losses in the long term. That's why you heard the NATO secretary general and Prime Minister Boris Johnson emphasizing that the west has to continue to bolster and support Ukraine in this fight.

And as you said, it comes as President Zelenskyy warns, he calls this week, this week coming up where the E.U. is going to make this determination about candidacy status for Ukraine as a faithful one for the country. Now, this is just another step in a very long process that could take years, if not more than a decade to see Ukraine enter the E.U. if successful in the end.

But it's part of the larger concern that, obviously, the goal of President Putin's invasion of his conflict was to try and pull Ukraine away from western allies, instead its thrown him, thrown Ukraine into the arms of the E.U., if you will. So, there is concern that there could be repercussions for that from President Zelenskyy.

And again, all along those front lines, Ukrainian forces pleading for that help and support, Lynda.

KINKADE: Yes, exactly. And Salma, you have been on the outskirts of Kyiv speaking with Ukrainian troops who are working to remove unexploded mines left by Russia.

ABDELAZIZ: Absolutely. And this is the leftovers of war, even long after Russian forces have retreated as they have, of course, from Kyiv and the surrounding areas. There are still dangers left behind in the form of unexploded munitions. Take a look at how Ukrainian forces are working to clear them from neighborhoods and suburbs.



ABDELAZIZ (voice-over): In a wooded area on the outskirts of the capital, Ukrainian soldiers have set up a bomb disposal site to gather and destroy unexploded ordinance. Leftovers of Russia's invasion dropped on neighborhoods and scattered across the suburbs that can kill and maim civilians long after retreat.

We find explosive ruminants practically everywhere, he says, inside homes, in people's yards, we find a lot on the roads. Really everywhere. More than 43,000 explosive devices have already been neutralized in the Kyiv region, but there are still hundreds of square miles that need to be surveyed and cleared local officials say. It is dangerous work.

There is a saying, only fools are not afraid, he says. We must always be careful. We must realize that any step can be our last. During the disposal process, we witnessed those risks.

ABDELAZIZ (on camera): So, what's just happened is one of the unexploded ordinances started smoking. We were all told to pull back to here. They are now going to check by a drone and make a decision as to what they do next.

ABDELAZIZ (voice-over): Once it's safe, the soldiers get back to work, carefully placing the munitions in a dug out. They rig a detonation cord and then move back to a firing position.


(On camera): This is just a fraction of what needs to be destroyed and Ukrainian officials tell us it could take 5 to 10 years before the country is clear.


(Voice-over): Hazards of war that lie and wait, even after the guns fall silent.


ABDELAZIZ (on camera): Now, Ukrainian officials say about half of the country's territory still needs to be surveyed and cleared for these dangerous types of leftover munitions. And that of course does not include the frontline where they are still active fighting where, of course, you cannot clear those areas.

And in order for families to come back and millions of people have returned to Kyiv and the surrounding areas, in order for those families to come back, return to their homes, live safe lives, it's important for the Ukrainian troops to do this as quickly as possible. This is absolutely lifesaving work. We already know from officials that several people have been killed and injured by an unexploded ordinance.

KINKADE: Yes, very dangerous work. Salma Abdelaziz, great to have you and your crew there on the scene. Thanks so much. Well, Russia's war has prompted a historic shift in European security.

NATO is set to host a meeting in the coming hours on its expansion. Last month, Sweden and Finland set aside decades in neutrality and formally applied to join NATO. But Turkey which is already a member raised security concerns about the other two countries, accusing them of harboring Kurdish terrorist groups. Delegations from Turkey, Finland, and Sweden are expected to meet in Brussels in the coming hours to discuss the matter.

In southern Ukraine, Odessa's opera and ballet theater reopened to the public on Friday for the first time since Russia's invasion began. The Odessa National Opera Orchestra and Choir were on the bill for the reopening. The concert opened with the performance of the national anthem. All performances are being dedicated to the Ukrainian military. The opera house says its thanks to the troops. The public can go to shows and artist can share their creativity.

We hear stock markets are coming off a volatile trading week and won't see any improvement until Tuesday. They closed of course on Monday for the Juneteenth holiday. But here's a look at how the new trading week is starting off in Asia. You can see there the Nikkei down about three quarters of a percent. The Hang Seng also down slightly. Shanghai just up slightly.

Well, meantime, the White House -- the White House officials rather trying to soften the blow of mounting inflation and possible signs of a recession. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said while the first half of the year may have been tough for the economy, the coming months will be better.


JANET YELLEN, U.S. TREASURY SECRETARY: I expect the economy to slow. It's been growing at a very rapid rate as the economy, as the labor market has recovered and we have reached full employment. It's natural now that we expect to transition to steady and stable growth, but I don't think a recession is at all inevitable.


KINKADE: Well CNN's Arlette Saenz has more on how the Biden administration is responding with midterm elections just months away.

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: The White House is trying to express optimism for the prospects of the economy while also acknowledging the economic pain that so many Americans are feeling as they continue to see rising prices.


Top cabinet officials and economic officials on Sunday reiterated the president's point that he does not believe a recession is inevitable in this country, even as some economists predict one could be looming. Energy secretary Jennifer Granholm said that the Biden administration is working to try to alleviate those high prices, but also acknowledged this could be a very tough summer for American drivers as gas prices continue to rise.


JENNIFER GRANHOLM, U.S. ENERGY SECRETARY: The president is really focused on preventing these inflationary increases to the extent he can. Inflation obviously is happening globally. A recession is not inevitable. The president really wants to have a steady and stable recovery. But of course, one of the biggest pieces of these inflationary increases that we're seeing is the price of fuel. We know this is going to be a tough, summer because driving season just started and we know that there will be a continued upward pull on demand.


SAENZ: The White House says they are evaluating all options to try to lower prices when it comes to gas and also food. And one of those areas that is under discussion is the possibility of putting a pause on the gas tax. Energy Secretary Granholm said that that is being considered at this moment, but it could be difficult to go down that route as that gas tax pays for so many roads an infrastructure projects.

Additionally, the White House has talked about issuing gas rebate cards to Americans, but a White House official cautions that it's unlikely such a program would go into effect because it would be difficult to administer and also difficult to keep tabs on whether consumers were actually using that money specifically for gas.

Now, later this week, Energy Secretary Granholm will be holding a meeting where she's invited the top executives from seven oil refining companies to try and discuss ways to lower gas prices as the administration is trying to show that they are using every lever at their disposal to try to lower those prices for American consumers. Arlette Saenz, CNN, traveling with the president in Rehoboth Beach in Delaware.

KINKADE: Catherine Rampell is a CNN economics and political commentator. She's also an opinion columnist for the "Washington Post" and joins me now from New York. Good to see you, Catherine.


KINKADE: So, there has been so much talk of a recession, inflation is at a 40- year he and we just had the biggest interest rate hike since 1994. But the treasury secretary, Janet Yellen, says recession is not inevitable. What needs to happen to avoid a recession?

RAMPELL: I think it's true that recession on any particular timeframe is not inevitable. I mean, the business cycle is called a cycle for a reason. It goes up, it goes down at some point. In the future, we will have a recession, but it doesn't necessarily need to be in the next year.

However, the risks for a recession have risen quite a bit recently because inflation has remained elevated, as you just mentioned. We've been hit by a series of very unfortunate shocks, things like disruptions to energy and food markets around the world due to the war in Ukraine, and avian flu here in the United States and elsewhere around the world. Lockdowns in China disrupting supply chains, et cetera.

All of those things combined have pushed prices further up, further than central banks were expecting which suggests that central banks need to raise rates even more aggressively than they had planned in order to get inflation down. When they do that, when they raise interest rates, it's this very difficult dance where they are trying to get demand to be a little bit slower, lower, cooler, whatever term you want to use, but not so much that we get a recession.

KINKADE: And it is always tricky making these sorts of predictions, Catherine, because Janet Yellen recently apologized for a prediction she made last year, now saying she was wrong about inflation. How much trust should people place in any prediction about a recession right now?

RAMPELL: You know, it's really hard. There's so much uncertainty at the moment. Certainly, there were a lot of miscalculations made about a year ago, not just by the White House and its various appointees and aids, but by people at the Fed, by nearly every private sector economist with a few exceptions.

We are just in this unprecedented weird moment where it's hard to know what's going on with supply chains, what's going on with consumer demand, what kinds of factors will be more important than others, and will we get hit with more positive or negative surprises. So, you know, there is this expression that predictions are always difficult especially about the future. It's especially treacherous right now because we are just in uncharted waters.

KINKADE: Yes. We recently are in. Janet Yellin certainly spoke about these unacceptable levels of inflation that we're seeing because people are feeling the pain whether it's paying for gas or buying food. Is it fair to say that it's going to get worse before it gets better?


RAMPELL: I think it's reasonable to say that we are stuck with elevated inflation for a while. It's hard to imagine some factor intervening in the next couple of months that would dramatically ratchet those pricing pressures downwards. So, I think it's going to be painful for a little while at least.

I don't know how much longer and it really depends on how lucky or unlucky we get with many of these geopolitical and, you know epidemiological factors that we have been talking about.

KINKADE: And speaking of kind of the global impact, the economy in the U.S. is expected to slow down. What ripple effect will that have globally especially given that many other countries are also trying to tackle soaring inflation? RAMPELL: Well, there is this expression that when the U.S. sneezes,

the world catches a cold. And it has been the case at least in the past couple of years that strong consumer demand in the United States has been driving a lot of economic activity, particularly in lower and middle income countries around the world in some good ways and in some bad ways.

I mean, there's been a lot of demand for products, goods made in China and in other Asian countries, for example. We've also probably exported some of our inflationary problems to Europe, which is now dealing with other forces that are driving prices higher.

I think it's reasonable to say that lower income countries are going to be suffering from these inflationary pressures no matter what, even if the United States doesn't go into recession, because they are, you know, poor countries are much more reliant, for example, on wheat that has historically come from Russia and from Ukraine. So, they are commodity prices, their food prices are driving much higher in lower income countries and is the case in a wealthier country like the United States.

So, they're already suffering. If the U.S. goes into recession, that certainly won't be helpful to those other places. It sort of feels like one thing after another. You know, there's a lot of suffering obviously here in the United States, but we have to keep it in perspective that we're not going to suffer here from the kinds of famine that we might already be expecting to see in a lot of countries that have been, you know, their food supply chain has been much more dramatically affected by recent global events.

KINKADE: Yes. Certainly many, many challenges ahead. Catherine Rampell, good to get your perspective. Thanks for joining us.

RAMPELL: Thank you.

KINKADE: Well, travel costs are also up, but while travelers may not be canceling their vacation plans just yet, flight disruptions are making it harder for them to get to their destinations. Airlines canceled more than 900 flights on Sunday alone. Mor than 3,000 flights have been canceled or delayed since Friday.

Officials with the Transportation Security Administration said they haven't seen airports this crowded since the Thanksgiving holiday last year.

Well, nations around the world are dealing with extreme weather events. Deadly monsoon flooding in south Asia and dangerous heat filled wildfires in Spain.

PEDRAM JAVAHARI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Kind of historic couple of days here, over the last several days with heat across the United States, massive dome of high pressure begins to expand yet again. Our long duration heat wave far from over. Temperatures that have once again going to approach the century mark. We'll talk about this, coming up in a few minutes.



KINKADE: Well, firefighters are struggling to contain raging wild fires in Spain as the country sees its earliest extreme heat in decades. Just in the northwest province of Zamora, more than 25,000 hectares have been scorched. That's around 61,000 acres. And it's not just in Spain. Strong winds are also fanning the flames in Germany forcing evacuations in villages near Berlin.

Well, hotter than average heat is also impacting much of the U.S. More than 9 million people are under heat alerts across the Midwest and plains. This on top of another heat wave from last week, which impacted many the same regions.

Joining us now is CNN meteorologist Pedram Javaheri. Pedram, good to have you with us. So, it's already been so hot in the U.S. already, but it's going to get hotter this week.

JAVAHERI: It is. It's going to continue. And that's really what makes this sort of dangerous, Lynda, is when you have these long duration heat waves, of course, these sorts of patterns really wear their toll here on a lot of people that are being impacted by then as noted here, 100 plus record temperatures possible over a pretty expansive area of the United States over the course of next four to five days.

And you'll notice, places such as Chicago should be in the lower 80s this time of year. We're in for 96 by this afternoon. On Tuesday, we'll get to about 101 degrees in Chicago, back down to 90 come Wednesday. And similar sort of a pattern plays out really across a large area of the United States.

Atlanta climbs right back up close to the century mark, although we think the moisture content of the atmosphere will be a little bit lower. So, as far as the humidity is concerned, we'll get a bit of a break there, but records, they've already fallen by the wayside in the last several days. Century mark all over the place, from Mobile to Meridian, up towards Montgomery, Alabama, and even as far east there across Memphis, Tennessee were 100-degree temperatures were observed.

Some these records have been standing since the 1800s, so really speaks to the impressive nature of this heat wave before summer even officially gets here, which by the way, is about 26 hours away to officially get underway for the summer solstice. But notice this massive dome of high pressure really expands all across the large area of the United States the next several days.

So, once we do cool off, still then staying above average across Chicago really for much of the next seven or so days. High temperatures will aim for about 70 degrees in Billings, Seattle, struggles to get to 70 degrees yet again. I believe their annual high so far has been only 72 degrees there.

Denver will climb up to about 90 degrees. And similar sort of heat as we noted earlier has been taking place across portions of Europe. Reports of 200 records have fallen there. [02:25:00]

Highs as warm as 104 degrees Fahrenheit across parts of Spain and parts of France, which is the earliest on record. Again, summer officially starting tomorrow at about 5:00 a.m. eastern. Lynda?

KINKADE: Wow, incredible records being set. Hopefully, this isn't a sign of what's to come in the coming months. Pedram, thanks so much.

JAVAHERI: Thank you.

KINKADE: Well, millions of people across India and Bangladesh are stranded due to monsoon flooding. Rains and landslides have killed dozens of people. CNN's Vedika Sud has the details.


VEDIKA SUD, CNN REPORTER (voice-over): Trudging through flooded streets with whatever they can carry, authorities say millions of people in Bangladesh and northeastern India have been affected by some of the worst flooding in the region in nearly two decades.

This man says our house got flooded with waist-level water. There is no way we can stay in the house. We're asking the government for relief and help. An official in Bangladesh's Ministry of Disaster Management says homes in two of the worst affected areas, the district of Sylhet and Sunamganj are 80 to 90 percent underwater.

Highways look more like rivers, the rushing water at times too fast and deep for people traveling in smaller vehicles. There are so many people marooned by the floods. Both India and Bangladesh have activated their militaries to help rescue them.

Soldiers are using speed boats and rafts to access submerged areas and ferry the stranded to dry land. Many areas that are cut off are without power and there is desperate need for food and drinking water. Transportation using anything other than a boat is difficult.

Flights have been suspended for three days at Bangladesh's Osmani International Airport, railways are deluged. And some hospitals are inundated with water like this one. Its ambulance is parked outside with water up to the tires.

Dozens of people have died. Some by lightning strikes and landslides in Bangladesh, others from perilous conditions brought on by the floodwaters. Officials say the situation could deteriorate even further with more rain in the forecast. Vedika Sud, CNN, New Delhi. (END VIDEOTAPE)

KINKADE: Well, still ahead, French voters delivered disappointing results for President Macron's centrist coalition. We'll get the details in a live report from Paris.


[02:30:50] KINKADE: Welcome back, French President Emmanuel Macron centrist coalition has lost its absolute majority and the National Assembly. It will still be the largest in the block, but it fell short of the 289 seats needed in the final round of elections on Sunday.

Well, for more, CNN's Nada Bashir is joining us now live from Paris. And Nada, voter turnout was quite low. But this is overall disappointing for the president. How's he responding and what does this mean for him?

NADA BASHIR, CNN INTERNATIONAL REPORTER: Absolutely, Lynda. This is a significant series on historic blow to President Emmanuel Macron. Clearly, they're losing his absolute majority in the National Assembly. And this will have a significant impact on his ability to push his agenda through. Now, we haven't heard from President Macron responding to these results just yet. But we have heard from others that we've heard from the leader of the newly formed left-wing alliance Jean-Luc Melenchon.

He described the result as being totally unexpected. And really we also heard from the prime minister speaking last night as those early exit polls were released. She warned that this could prove to be a difficult moment not only for the French government, for the country as a whole. Take listen.


ELISABETH BORNE, FRENCH PRIME MINISTER (through translator): This situation is unprecedented. Never before has the National Assembly experienced such a configuration under the Fifth Republic. This situation constitutes a risk for our country, given the challenges we face both nationally and internationally. Tomorrow, we will work to build a majority for action.


BASHIR: Now these results marked a significant shift in the balance of power for President Macron's second term. As I mentioned, the newly formed left-wing alliance coming in second place. And of course, we also saw the far right Marine Le Pen's national rally party coming in in the third gaining significant amount of seats. 89 seats there. So there it's been a significant shift.

And this will seriously have an impact on macrons capacity to pursue his domestic agenda, particularly when it comes to issues around increasing the retirement age, for example, overhauling the welfare system, but Macron will now have to focus on looking for new allies and new compromises in the National Assembly agenda.

KINKADE: Yes. A lot of challenges for him coming up. Nada Bashir, thanks so much.

Well, the former member of the M-19 guerrilla movement is making history in Colombia as voters select him to lead the country for the next four years. Gustavo Petro become the first leftist president of the Latin American nation after capturing a slim margin with more than 50 percent of the vote. CNN's Stefano Pozzebon has more from Bogota.

STEFANO POZZEBON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: History was made here in Colombia this Sunday with the election of Gustavo Petro as the first left-wing president in this country's history. The people just behind my back and in the square our Petro supporters who are celebrating this historic achievement as if they've won perhaps the World Cup. It's the first time in the history of this country that Colombia voted so decisively to the left.

(INAUDIBLE) an election that opens a new chapter in the relationship between Colombia and Washington. Gustavo Petro told CNN that intends to open a new political dialogue with Joe Biden centered around the issues of protecting the Amazon phasing out fossil fuels and ending the war on drugs. He also told us, however, that he intends to renegotiate a free trade agreement between Colombia and Washington, and that he wants Colombia out of NATO.

It's a historic achievement not just for Colombia's left but also for the Afro-Colombian population. Francia Marquez, Petro's vice president candidate has become the first Afro-Colombian citizen to person of African descent who hold executive power in the history of this country. And a remarkable turnaround for millions from Bogota. This is Stefan Pozzebon, CNN .


KINKADE: Well, the U.S. is marking its newest federal holiday commemorating the end of slavery. We'll show us some Juneteenth celebrations happening around the country.


KINKADE: Welcome back. I'm Lynda Kinkade. You watching CNN NEWSROOM. Celebrations took place across the U.S. this weekend to commemorate Juneteenth. The holiday marking the end of slavery in the United States. CNN hosted a special live concert Juneteenth, a global celebration for freedom at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles. Some of the biggest names in music and entertainment came together to celebrate freedom for African-Americans.

Well, Juneteenth honors the day the last slaves in Galveston, Texas learned they will free after an order by newly arrived U.S. soldiers. It was on June 19, 1865.

The U.S. Civil War had been over for months and the Emancipation Proclamation had been issued more than two years earlier. Last year, U.S. President Joe Biden signed a bill officially recognizing Juneteenth as a federal holiday. Well, CNN's Nadia Romero takes a look at how the holiday was celebrated here in Atlanta.

NADIA ROMERO, CNN U.S. CORRESPONDENT: Well, now that Juneteenth is a federal holiday and a state holiday here in Georgia, the festivities are bigger and better than ever. I spoke with the grand marshal of the Juneteenth Atlanta parade and she said she saw more people out this year than in years past. And she's also seeing more diversity, more people coming out and celebrating. So the parade began on Sunday afternoon and wind it through the city with marching bands, double Dutch and then landed here in Centennial Park. And you can see behind me plenty of vendors. Organizers say they expect to see some 100,000 people come out to different Juneteenth events in Atlanta all throughout the weekend.


ROMERO: But it's not just about celebrating when the last enslaved African Americans learned they were free in Galveston, Texas 2-1/2 years after the Emancipation Proclamation. It's also about what can be done now to help the black community move forward. And I keep hearing to common themes at this Juneteenth celebration. It's about voting, and it's about supporting Black businesses. Take a listen.


CASSANDRA KIRK, FULTON COUNTY, GEORGIA JUDGE: I am a sitting judge. And so what's important for me is that everyone that's out here celebrating, remember that they must vote. That it's not enough just to come and do the party, do the dance, to buy the items, it is more important, it is equally as important to make sure that we vote.

MESHA MAINOR, GEORGIA STATE HOUSE REPRESENTATIVE: Last year we did the Juneteenth festival like this, it was much smaller. I think now since it's the state holiday, there's more advocacy for black-owned businesses. So this entire weekend, there were people supporting Black businesses that normally would not support black businesses. And I hope that that continues beyond just Juneteenth because maybe those people that have never supported a black business but oh my goodness, I actually liked that service, or I liked that product.


ROMERO: So the message today is about celebration and enjoying but also that there is still plenty of work to be done. Nadia Romero, CNN, Atlanta.

KINKADE: Well, for our international viewers World Sport is up next. And for everyone else in the U.S. and Canada I'll be back with much more news after a very short break. Stay with us. You're watching CNN.