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Tensions Rise After Pelosi's High-Stakes Visit To Taiwan; Top U.S., Russian Diplomats Attending ASEAN Conference; U.S. Senate Ratifies NATO Membership For Sweden, Finland; Ukraine Makes Slows But Steady Progress In The South; OPEC Plus To Raise Output By 100,000 Barrels A Day. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired August 04, 2022 - 01:00   ET




ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world. You are watching CNN Newsroom and I'm Rosemary Church.

Just ahead, all eyes on China. The world is watching as Beijing flexes its military missile in the wake of U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's controversial visit to Taiwan. Caught lying on the stand. Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones exposed by an apparent mistake by his own attorneys. And CNN exclusively catches up with megastar and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, Priyanka Chopra Jonas. Her reflections on working with Ukrainian refugees in Poland.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Live from CNN Center, this is CNN Newsroom with Rosemary Church.

CHURCH: And thanks for joining us. Well tensions are building in the Taiwan Strait as China launches military drills after strongly protesting U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's high stakes visit to Taiwan. The Chinese defense ministry says the exercises taking place by air and by sea, also include long-range live fire drills. The action follows repeated threats from Beijing over Pelosi's trip to Taiwan.

But the warnings did not stop the House Speaker who praised the island's commitment to democracy and said her visit should be seen as a strong statement that, quote, America stands with Taiwan. Pelosi is now in South Korea where she met with her South Korean counterpart in Seoul just a short time ago. This is her latest stop on her ongoing visit to Asia.

And CNN Correspondents are tracking all the developments. Steven Jiang is standing by in Beijing and Blake Essig is live for us in Tokyo. Good to see you both. So Steven, let's start with you. And while Nancy Pelosi has moved on, Taiwan is still dealing with China's response to her controversial visit there. So how much longer will these military exercises likely last? And what exactly is China's strategy here? STEVEN JIANG, CNN BEIJING BUREAU CHIEF: Well, Rosemary, let's look at these live fire drills. According to China's state media, they just report it in a breathless fashion that they have now begun in earnest. Obviously, earlier we have seen the People's Liberation Army, a fly drones over one of Taiwan's Outlying Islands and also sending a larger than usual member of aircraft who -- for incursions into Taiwan's air defense zone crossing the so-called median line above the strait.

But, of course, the PLA has promised a lot more highlighting their impressive nature in terms of their proximity to Taiwan, but also their scale and intensity. Some of the drills apparently taking place so close to Taiwan that they could encroach the islands territorial waters and airspace, meaning, less than 10 miles away from Taiwan shorelines. The PLA could also fire missiles that could fly right above the island itself.

All of that, of course, considered a major provocation and escalation tensions by both Taipei and Washington. But here in Beijing, they consider this response very much justified and part of their long promise to forceful response to what Pelosi's visit. But one word of caution, of course, that is that all of those drills, also part of Beijing's political, psychological and information warfare that very much directed at its domestic audience, which so far has felt quite let down by the government's perceived the lackluster response after days of fiery language from Beijing's officials.

But one thing for sure is that many people agreed, this is not just going to be a few days with drills and everything goes back to normal because this visit is likely to prompt every side, all sides to have a rethink for the PLA. They may just take advantage of this to really change the status quo by, for example, starting to seriously enforce -- to enforce their claim over the Taiwan Strait as China's territorial waters not international waters that could have major implications on the U.S. and its allies that routinely send warships and warplanes to cross the strait as part of their freedom of navigation operations.

In Washington, obviously, there's debate about the long-standing strategic ambiguity of policy on defending Taiwan because many believe that policy worked as long as Beijing believed it was weaker than the U.S. and that clearly is no longer the case in the eyes of many people. Rosemary?


CHURCH: All right. And Blake, to you now, after her high stakes visit to Taiwan, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is now in South Korea, where she has met with her counterpart, what is expected to come out of this leg of her Asia trip?

BLAKE ESSIG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, as you mentioned, Rosemary, Nancy Pelosi's tour of Asia continues in South Korea. She arrived late last night and this morning met with South Korea's National Assembly Speaker, her counterpart, to discuss a number of topics including security, economic cooperation, and climate change. Of course, concerns over North Korea were a big part of that conversation. Now, later this afternoon, Pelosi will also have a phone call with South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol, who is currently on summer vacation. That summer vacation was planned before Pelosi tour of Asia was announced. While Pelosi is now in South Korea unexpected, she's actually expected to arrive here in Japan later tonight. We've spoken to the Japanese government who say that they are still working out the details who she's going to meet while she's here in Tokyo later tonight and tomorrow.

Now the impact of her surprise visit to Taiwan, of course, continues to play out around the self-governing island, which is now left to pick up the pieces and deal with the follow up both economically and militarily. Now China's live fire military exercises that will essentially encircle Taiwan are believed to be underway as Steven mentioned and will continue until Sunday. Those drills announced shortly after Pelosi landed in Taiwan.

And today, Taiwan's foreign ministry said that China shouldn't use Pelosi's visit as an excuse to escalate tensions, and that Taiwan's defense ministry is also criticizing China for trying to change the status quo by conducting military drills all around Taiwan. Now this comes one day after Taiwan's defense ministry condemned the drills saying that they amount to a maritime and aerial blockade. And as a result, Taiwan had to negotiate alternative aviation routes with Japan and the Philippines because of China's military exercises, and in total 18 international flight routes and about 300 flights per day will be impacted.

Now on the same day that Pelosi met with Taiwan's president and visited Parliament, 27 warships, Chinese warplanes, excuse me, entered Taiwan's air defense identification zone with 22 crossing the Taiwan Strait median line, which splits Taiwan from China. And while it's happened before, it's nonetheless seen as provocative.

And on the day that Pelosi arrived, Taiwan's Cabinet also reported overseas cyberattacks against several government websites, including the presidential office and foreign ministry that originated from China and Russia. Now, specifically, these are distributed denial of service attacks, which is where the attacker floods a server to prevent other users from accessing it and those sites were temporarily taken down.

As for the local reaction in Taiwan around the Speaker's visit, you know, it's been fairly mixed. Taiwan's foreign ministry said that her visit has helped bring international attention to Taiwan status as a democratic partner in the world. And while some people think that Pelosi's trip was beneficial, and that China shouldn't have a say in who visits Taiwan, others are worried that her visit would escalate tensions, Rosemary.

CHURCH: All right, Blake Essig in Tokyo and Steven Jiang in Beijing. Many thanks to you both.

Joining me now from Canberra, Australia, Malcolm Davis, a Military Analyst and Senior Analyst of Defense Strategy and Capability at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute. Thank you so much for being with us.


CHURCH: So not only has China launch military exercises in response to U.S. House Speaker Pelosi's visited Taiwan, but it has also hit the self-governing nation with a trade with trade restrictions. Was Pelosi's visit worth all this in the risk of conflict?

DAVIS: Look, I think it was for the simple reason that it sent a very strong message to the Taiwanese government, that the United States will stand by it and recognizes the importance of preserving essentially a Western democratic nation of 24 million people. And in that sense, I think it's really important that Pelosi did make that visit, especially after Beijing tried to intimidate and coerce the U.S. government into not making the visit.

CHURCH: And some analysts suggest that China's military exercises could actually help it prepare to attack Taiwan. What is your reaction to that? Do you think that's what's going on right now?

DAVIS: I think certainly there's an element to that. The sorts of military exercises, they're undertaking in those exclusion zones, are certainly the same sorts of things that the PLA would be doing in a blockade of Taiwan and, of course, under international law, a blockade is an act of war.


So, the Chinese are certainly gaining experience in that regard in terms of the likely operations they would undertake in the future. But at the same time, we are gaining a valuable intelligence opportunity by observing what they're doing, how they're operating, what are their communications capabilities, their sense of capabilities. So really, they're providing us with a valuable intelligence gift, which we are happily taking on board. But, of course, there are risks going forward.

CHURCH: And reaction in Taiwan to Nancy Pelosi's visit has ranged from excitement to anger as a result of the response that's come from China. Is a political visit like this ever smart when it could trigger conflict? Would it have been better for her to make the determination to go another time, perhaps, and not put the U.S. and others in this situation where you then can't be seen to be cowering to China, can you?

DAVIS: Well, no, I think that no matter what time she did it, the response from Beijing would be the same, to essentially coerce and try and challenge the legitimacy of the Speaker's freedom to make a trip to Taiwan. So it's not a case of avoiding -- antagonizing China, we need to stand up for Taiwan's future. And for its right to choose its own future, we need to support a fellow Western liberal democracy against an authoritarian state.

And for us to back down in the face of Chinese threats, I think would have been catastrophic for the resolve of Western countries that would have only encouraged China to actually do these sorts of coercive activity more often. So, I don't think the laying of the ship would have achieved anything.

CHURCH: So where do you see this going? Do you expect China to attack at Taiwan soon? And if it does, how likely is it that the U.S. and perhaps other nations would get involved militarily?

DAVIS: Well, there's a range of assessments on the Chinese military's ability to undertake a cross straits invasion, ranging from the second half of this decade to early in the 2030s. I think that their ability to undertake provocations and what's known as gray zone actions or to attack Taiwan's offshore territories, is likely to happen sooner than the middle of this decade.

But across straights invasion to invade an annex Taiwan, and force it back into China against the will of the Taiwanese people, I think that's not likely to happen until probably the second half of this decade, or into the early 2030s. And I think in terms of international response, the U.S., Japan, Australia and others in the Indo-Pacific region, have to have a solid dialogue about how they would respond.

Because if the U.S. does not respond to a call of assistance from Taipei, then it loses an awful lot of credibility in the eyes of other Indo-Pacific powers. And also, a lot of the fundamental strength of America's strategic relationships and alliances is gone. So, it would be catastrophic damage to U.S. strategic interests if it did not respond.

CHURCH: Malcolm Davis, thank you so much for joining us. Appreciate it.

DAVIS: Thank you.

CHURCH: Foreign Ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations are meeting right now in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The conference is expected to focus heavily on regional security in the Indo-Pacific. Earlier, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with the Indian External Affairs Minister.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is also there and will be meeting with the other foreign ministers in the coming hours. There's been no indication that Blinken and Lavrov will meet during the conference. They spoke by phone last Friday about a proposed prisoner swap. The first time the two have spoken since the war in Ukraine began.

Well in the coming hours, a key part of that proposed prisoner swap, U.S. basketball star Brittney Griner is set to appear in court with closing arguments expected to be heard. She was arrested in February after vape cartridges with cannabis oil were found in her luggage. Griner pled guilty to the charges against her in hopes of securing a lighter sentence.

Sweden and Finland are now one step closer to joining NATO, while declaring an important hurdle on Wednesday.

[01:15:04] The U.S. Senate voted 95 to 1 to ratify NATO membership for the two countries, a rare display of overwhelming bipartisan support in the U.S. Congress. The official ratification document now goes to President Biden for his signature. One U.S. senator said Russia's invasion of Ukraine underscored the urgency of Wednesday's vote.


AMY KLOBUCHAR, U.S. SENATE DEMOCRAT: Russia's unprovoked aggression in Ukraine has changed how we think about the world security. That's why I strongly support the decision of these two great democracies, Sweden and Finland, to join the most important and defensive alliance in the world, NATO.


CHURCH: Both countries must still get unanimous approval from all 30 NATO members. According to the alliance, 23 of those countries have now given the green light so far.

Well, the White House reportedly believes Russia will try to frame Ukrainian forces for a prison attack. At least 50 prisoners of war were killed in a blast at a prison in the occupied East last week. But a U.S. official says Russia may suggest that Ukraine hit the prison with the U.S. made HIMARS rockets.

Meanwhile, Ukraine says Russian military contractor Wagner destroyed the prison to cover up evidence of torture. CNN cannot independently verify this claim, But the United Nations is planning to create a fact-finding mission to look into what happened.


ANTONIO GUTERRES, U.N. SECRETARY-GENERAL: We hope to have all the facilities from both sides for access and for the attention of all data that is necessary to be able to clarify the truths about what has happened. So this is a matter that we took very seriously. And we are working hard for them.


CHURCH: Well, farther south, there are no signs of letting up in Russia's relentless attacks on the city of Mykolaiv. Its mayor says the city took a pounding again Wednesday morning. This time he says Russia launched airstrikes which destroyed this supermarket and caused a fire elsewhere in the city. Mykolaiv is a strategically important city near the frontlines in the south, and it's been struck almost every single night for the last month.

Ukraine also says its forces are making slow but steady progress in the South. Ukrainian officials say Russian troops have been pushed out of some villages and strategic points in the region. But as Nic Robertson finds out the people who used to live there are not coming back yet.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITO (voice-over): The road to Ivanivka isn't safe. Playboy, his war name, is taking us there across country. He says his forces recaptured it from the Russians following a two-week artillery battle.


ROBERTSON (voice-over): That was a month ago. It still deserted. Only abandoned pets and farmyard animals here now.

(on-camera): When you come in here and you look at the farm here, the animals left out, the dog in a terrible state, how do you feel?

PLAYBOY: I feel quite sad.

ROBERTSON (on-camera): And when can people come back to this village?

PLAYBOY: I think when we will go --

ROBERTSON (ON-CAMERA): Further forward?

PLAYBOY: -- further to the next line of the villages.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): Unexploded shells littered the ground. The end of war a long ways off, he says.

PLAYBOY: I think it's not real finished very fast Because we are not so powerful right now.

ROBERTSON (on-camera): During the attack here, Ukrainian forces estimate they killed about 50 Russian soldiers, injured about 100 more. The big challenge for the Ukrainians now mustering enough men to advance further.

(voice-over): The frontline just a few kilometers away. A single artillery shell hits its target. The troops that took even if the last month have moved on.

PLAYBOY: We are planning to move forward, surely.

ROBERTSON (on-camera): When?

PLAYBOY: I don't know. From my own opinion, I think, in a month.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): At the village school, window smashed, classrooms trashed, empty ration packs on the floor, and a message scrolled before they retreated.

(on-camera): The Russian troops have left a parting message. It says, Russia is everywhere. It has no borders. And over here, they've crossed out the Ukrainian word for March and said, use the right language.

(voice-over): Where the Russians appear to fight harder frontline trenches near the village. Armored vehicles and tanks taken out by artillery.


(on-camera): You get an idea of the ferocity of the fight here from the artillery impacts and the way the trees around here are all shredded. But here's a surprise hitting these targets with U.S. gifted M777 artillery wasn't as easy as the soldiers expected.

PLAYBOY: M777 shooting quite good. But now, not so good as we expected.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): Not ungrateful, he says and very willing to learn better skills.

Nic Robertson, CNN, Ivanivka, Ukraine.


CHURCH: Ukrainian officials are dismissing suggestions by a former German Chancellor that Moscow wants a negotiated solution to the war in Ukraine. Former Chancellor Gerhard Schroder made the remark on Wednesday after meeting last week in Moscow with the Russian leader. Schroder decided the recent Green Deal as a possible starting point toward a ceasefire. But Schroder has had close ties to Vladimir Putin for many years. And his comments did not sit well in Kyiv. Take a listen.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translation): It is simply disgusting when former leaders of major states with European values work for Russia, which is at war against these values.


CHURCH: Ukraine's Foreign Minister said Moscow remains focused on its military objectives in Ukraine and that everything else is a smokescreen.

Still to come this hour, OPEC members agree to pump more oil as the U.N. Secretary General takes aim at energy giants for what he calls their grotesque greed. And a little later, scorching hot temperatures in Europe are creating drought conditions and threatening crops. We're back with that and more in just a moment.


CHURCH: U.S. financial markets are riding high after some new economic reports helped ease fears of a recession. The Dow gained 416 points on Wednesday. The NASDAQ finished at a three-month high and the S&P 500 added more than 1.5 percent. The latest data shows growth in the economy as service sector plus a strong increase in factory audits.

The world's top oil exporting countries say they will step up production by 100,000 barrels a day next month. But it's hardly the boost the U.S. government was hoping for when President Joe Biden visited Saudi Arabia last month. The increase is one of the smallest since OPEC quota started in 1982. And it amounts to less than 1 percent of global demand.

CNN's Clare Sebastian has more now from London.

CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, this was, in many ways, a token gesture, a nod perhaps to U.S. President Biden who visited Saudi Arabia, OPEC's de facto leader last month in an attempt, of course, to thaw relations with the kingdom and convince them to help bring down oil prices.


The White House's Energy envoy called the planned increase a step in the right direction. 100,000 barrels a day, though, is a much smaller increase than we've seen in previous months and a measure pretty unlikely to do much to bring down global oil prices, especially since many OPEC members are not actually pumping enough to meet recent production target increases.

OPEC is also balancing the fact that Russia is a member of OPEC Plus, and would not be in favor of doing anything to bring down high prices. And there are economic concerns as well. Oil prices which soared in the spring over Russia related supply concerns have come down a lot from their recent peaks as recession and therefore demand fears have taken over.

Raising production too much in this climate could be risky, especially since OPEC doesn't have much spare capacity to do so. And it may need that spare capacity later, as there's another big risk to contend with. What will happen to supply at the end of the year, and the E.U. embargo on Russian seaborne oil kicks in? That will be a key factor in determining whether oil prices stay high.

Clare Sebastian, CNN, London.

CHURCH: Economist Jeffrey Sachs is the Director of Columbia University's Center for Sustainable Development, and the author of "The Price of Civilization." He joins us now from New York. Good to have you with us.


CHURCH: So oil prices have been skyrocketing around the globe due to a combination of the COVID pandemic Russia's war on Ukraine, sanctions on Russia, and of course. other contributing factors. And now OPEC's minimal increase in oil output isn't helping the situation. What is going on with that? And what will the likely consequences be of OPEC's actions if it continues like this?

SACHS: Well, OPEC is just sitting tight. Oil prices are staying around $100 a barrel. They're fluctuating a bit down today, but perhaps up again tomorrow. We're in a general inflationary situation worldwide, of course, not only in oil, but also in food prices and many other commodities prices. There are a lot of dollars out there chasing commodities.

And in the case of oil, the supply chains are all disrupted, as you said, by the war, by the wild swings of the pandemic, when demand for oil collapsed in 2020 and 2021. And only gradually did production recovered since then. The U.S. has also disrupted supplies from Venezuela in recent years through sanctions, it's disrupted supplies from Iran. It's disrupted, obviously, the supplies from Russia.

So we have ourselves to blame as well. We've really gone into this oil market globally in a lot of ways that have destabilized the global supply chains, and here we are with high prices.

CHURCH: And some view OPEC's minimal increase in oil output as a rejection of President Biden and his recent meeting with Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, do you agree with that assessment?

SACHS: Generally, yes, the Saudis say that they don't have much spare capacity, that they are pumping a lot of oil. The trip was not much of a success, clearly. Soon afterwards, the Saudis met with the Russians. Russia is part of so-called OPEC Plus, in other words, cooperation between Russia and the OPEC countries. I think they're sitting tight with this high price of oil. They're earning a lot of money, and they don't see any reason to budge and U.S. politics didn't push that.

CHURCH: And U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres is calling out fuel companies and what he calls the immoral profits. Let's just take a listen.


GUTERRES: It is immoral for oil and gas companies to be making record profits from this energy crisis on the back of the poorest people and communities, And that a massive cost to the climate. And I urge people everywhere to send a clear message to the fossil fuel industry and their financials. That this grotesque greed is punishing the poorest and most vulnerable people while destroying our only common home, the planet.


CHURCH: What's your reaction to his comments there?


SACHS: Well, it shows a lot of frustration, not just about this immediate circumstance but years and years in which the fossil fuel industry, and oil, gas and coal industry have turned their backs on what is an alarming and growing environmental crisis due to the production of fossil fuels.

This climate crisis we have seen this summer in addition to these oil prices increase, have delivered record temperature increases, wild forest fires across Europe, the United States, other parts of the world and the oil industry has not played a constructive role in that at all. Now the Secretary General of the U.N. has been saying for years that

we need an energy transition. These big oil and gas companies ought to turn into big wind and solar and renewable energy companies, but they are not doing it. They are dragging their feet on that.

And I think that that is the secretary general's tremendous frustration with this that on top of everything else, we have a calamitous, environmental crisis, and the oil industry is not playing a constructive role.

CHURCH: All right. Jeffrey Sachs, thank you so much for joining us. Appreciate it.

SACHS: Good to be with you.

CHURCH: Well, parts of Africa are in the midst of the worst drought in 40 years leading to widespread starvation. More on that when we come back.


CHURCH: Dry weather in Spain is making conditions ripe for wildfires, crews battling a huge blaze in the northwest of the country. Firefighters tacking burning trees and grass lands. At least one official calls it arson.

Wildfires have been problematic in southern Europe this summer as hot, dry weather leaves large areas of countryside parched and tinder dry.

And temperatures are scorching parts of Europe with some places topping 40 degrees Celsius. And the heat is expected to continue over the next few days at least.

It's already taken a toll in France. Water restrictions are in place in an effort to preserve crops. And it's hitting the heart of Italy's wine and olive oil industry as well.

The lack of rainfall is even affecting plants that normally thrive in hot, dry conditions. The soil is so parched, that olive trees are not producing enough fruit.

Let's turn now to CNN meteorologist Pedram Javaheri. And Pedram, it's a concern when you see the consequences of these temperatures challenges. What's the forecast telling us?

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, you know, another day of excessive heat here, Rosemary. And of course, you know, we're coming off the heels of what was the hottest summer on record across Europe 12 months ago. And now it's essentially playing out again with similar temperatures, and in some cases, record values above those of last summer.

And notice, we're talking about the hottest time of year, typically the middle 30s, even in the hotter areas for western Europe, across Cordoba, Madrid.


JAVAHERI: And some of these areas typically see the 32 to 36 range. They've been climbing up 39 to 42 range. And that's really what's most impressive about this next round of heat that is going in.

Now Paris into Frankfurt, Berlin and Milan -- all these temperatures running about 5 to 11 degrees above seasonal averages. That was the actual highs there on Wednesday and on Thursday similar set up here with the heat extending farther towards the north.

But look what happens, Friday into Saturday we do get a very nice brief break here where cooler air fills right back in. So essentially, a short-lived heat wave for this particular round, the third round of heat we've seen this summer.

Notice the seven-day forecast, Rosemary. We drop back down into the 20s, this time next week we're right back up again into the lower 30s which again, about seven degrees above seasonal averages.

So looks like another potentially round of this as the new norm starts to take shape across a lot of cities in Europe.

CHURCH: That's just unbelievable, isn't it?


CHURCH: Meteorologist Pedram Javaheri, many thanks.

Well, as record heat spreads across central Europe, Africa is also suffering. A global food crisis coupled with the worst drought in 40 years is plunging already vulnerable countries further into food insecurity. And millions of people are now on the verge of starvation.

CNN's Sam Kiley is in Kenya with the latest.


SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's not a coffin he is being measured for. This is an urgent effort to keep him from the grave. His arms so thin for his age and height he's categorized as severely, acutely malnourished.

Abolo (ph) needs urgent help. He's about two, and he can't walk. He's one of six million kids across the Horn of Africa the U.N. says are on the brink of starvation. There's food for her youngest, but nothing for (INAUDIBLE) other children except for a little wheat, ground into a handful of flour.

She says her husband died last year. She has no livestock. She survives by selling charcoal where she can. But food prices have tripled this year.

The evidence that humanity's ancestors lived here one and a half million years ago has been found in places like this. Now water, the very source of life, is being measured out in coffee cups. And 11.6 million people across northeastern Africa are short of water in the worst drought for 40 years.

Here in Ileret, northern Kenya, local officials say that at least 85 percent of animals once owned by nomadic people are dead. The U.N. says one and a half million herd of livestock have perished in Kenya, and across the Horn of Africa close to 20 million people face acute food shortages.

Now, the price of staple food like maize flour have more than doubled in many parts of Kenya since the disruption of global food supplies by Russia's invasion of Ukraine. In short, Europe's war may soon start killing people in Africa.

This community is marginal, it's living on the brink -- the very brink of survival. But so are millions of people right across the region. And critical to their long term survival is the stability of Kenya, a country that is facing drought. It is facing massive increases in the price of fuel and food, and it's now facing general elections.

Instability here causes chaos across the whole Horn of Africa.

The increased banditry across the vast Marsabit County has led to dozens of murders and thousands of livestock lost in raids. And it's now been met with military operations and a dawn to dusk curfew.

Around 200 machine guns and other weapons were captured in one recent police operation here, along with hundreds of rounds of ammunition.

Roadblocks screen travelers in daylight. Nomads are moving south in search of grazing into major towns like the Isiolo. And they've invaded wildlife sanctuaries like Buffalo Springs competing with protected and often endangered animals for food and water. The results can be fatal. Two men were recently killed by a female elephant near here.

But it's violence between humans that's putting the most traditionally stable country in the Horn of Africa at risk.

FRANK POPE, CEO, SAVE THE ELEPHANTS: Anytime you get people that are hungry and without other options, you've got a security situation an Northern Kenya is, you know, we're bordered by South Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia -- all of which have had, or are still in the grip of conflict that spews small arms into this ecosystem.

So you've got a lot of weapons up here, and increasing hunger. So yes, I'd say that's a security concern.


KILEY: That concern will endure as long as this landscape continues to dry out and war in Europe chokes food supplies to Africa's most needy.

Sam Kiley, CNN -- in Ileret, Northern Kenya.


CHURCH: And just ahead here on CNN NEWSROOM, a massive voter turnout in Kansas defeats an attempt to weaken abortion rights in the state. We will explain what it could mean for the upcoming midterms.


CHURCH: Voters in the U.S. state of Kansas are celebrating after rejecting an attempt to weaken abortion rights in the state constitution. It was the first major electoral test since Roe versus Wade was overturned in June and happened in a heavily Republican state.

With abortion rights now under fire in many states, President Biden signed an executive order on Wednesday to ensure access to abortion for women, who must now travel out of state.

He says the vote in Kansas shows voters are fired up over the issue. Take a listen.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't think the court has any notion, for that matter or the Republican Party for that matter to decide how far it's (INAUDIBLE) for extreme agenda and how women are going to respond. They don't have a clue about the power of American women. Last night in Kansas they found out.


CHURCH: The historic turnout in Kansas putting (ph) all the mood in the country ahead of the midterm elections. Referendums on abortion are on the ballots in at least four states this November.

Well, now to a story we brought to you first on CNN. Sources say former deputy White House counselor Patrick Philbin has been subpoenaed in the federal investigation of the January 6 Capitol riot. Philbin on the right, worked in the Trump White House under counsel Pat Cipollone, who sources say has also been asked for documents and testimony.

Philbin and Cipollone were both key witnesses to Donald Trump's actions in the final days of his presidency.

Well, jury deliberations are set to resume in the coming hours in the defamation case against right wing radio host Alex Jones. Jones admitted in court that the Sandy Hook mass shooting was not a hoax, as he had insisted for years, but collecting millions of dollars in damages from Jones could proves extremely difficult.

CNN's Drew Griffin has our report.


ALEX JONES, INFOWARS: The whole thing is a giant hoax. The whole thing was fake.

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SPECIAL INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Now in direct testimony and about face, right wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, who for years repeatedly suggested that the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre was a hoax now admitting the truth.


JONES: I think Sandy Hook happened. I think it's a terrible event. And I think we need to protect our children from mentally ill psychopaths.

And I think there was a cover-up because they had warnings, the FBI knew about it. They knew he was planning to attack the school. That's been -- even in the "New York Times".

GRIFFIN: It's too late though for apologies or explanations as to why Jones perpetuated the lies. After four years of failing to comply with legal demands, Jones and his company were found liable.

This case is about damages to the parents, who for years begged Jones to stop and he refused.

NEIL HESLIN, FATHER OF JESSE LEWIS: I can't even describe the last nine and a half years of living hell that I and others have had to endure.

GRIFFIN: The parents of then six -year-old Jesse Lewis told the jury that Jones, through his conspiratorial media organization, Infowars, tarnished their son's legacy and tormented them for years.

In a remarkable moment in court, Jesse Lewis' mom Scarlet spoke to Jones directly.

SCARLET LEWIS, MOTHER OF JESSE LEWIS: Jesse was real. I am a real mom.

GRIFFIN: From the stand, Jones told the parents that he didn't intentionally try to hurt them. He testified that quote, "the internet had a lot of questions. And so did he."

But the tapes of Infowars shows played in court reveal years of statements like this.

JONES: The official story of Sandy Hook has more holes in it than Swiss cheese.

GRIFFIN: Even while this case has been going on, Jones has been on his show trashing the jury, as blue-collar know-nothings and absurdly trying to link the judge to pedophilia, setting up this awkward moment.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You are telling the world not to believe what happens in this courtroom Because the judge worked with child protective services, who you say is involved with pedophilia and child trafficking, correct?

JONES: I said I don't not stand behind it. I need to see -- not just five second clips. The judge is the fire burning lady liberty. The judge is consuming freedom.

GRIFFIN: In another awkward moment, Jones who had told attorneys he had no texts involving the Sandy Hook case was confronted with this. MARK BANKSTON,PLAINTIFF'S ATTORNEY: UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your attorneys

messed up and they sent me an entire digital copy of your entire cell phone With every text message you sent for the past two years.

That is how I know you lied to me when you said you didn't have text messages about Sandy Hook.

GRIFFIN: That trove of text messages could prove harmful for Jones in an upcoming trial in Connecticut, involving Sandy Hook parents. But also in the congressional investigation of the January 6 Committee looking into Jones's role in the insurrection. Jones pled the Fifth to the committee.

For now the jury is focused on money and damages as CNN has reported, Jones Infowars conspiracy-based empire makes its money by selling supplements, fueled by fear.

Former workers have told CNN it's a QVC for the right wing, court documents show a massive inflow of money. Often hundreds of thousands of dollars a day. Adding up to more than $165 million in revenue is over a three-year period.

In court today, Joneses claimed his company is bankrupt admitted some days he can pull in more than $800,000 in a single day.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some days you're making $800,000 -- $745,000 a day, right?

JONES: This was CPAC -- I remember these numbers.

GRIFFIN: The case in the hands of the jury which is being asked to decide if Alex Jones should pay up to $150 million which is what the parents of Jesse Lewis are asking for. Complicating that is Jones' company filed for bankruptcy last week which makes recovering any potential damages difficult.

Drew Griffin, CNN, Atlanta.


CHURCH: Still to come, UNICEF is helping to resettle Ukrainian refugees who are unsure if they have a home to turn to. We will have a CNN exclusive interview with UNICEF goodwill ambassador and actress Priyanka Chopra-Jonas after the break.



CHURCH: Well, for months, northern Ukraine has endured Russian rocket attacks launched from neighboring Belarus. To Ukrainians in the region, those assaults and doubly painful, a betrayal from a close friend.

Jason Carroll reports.


JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is hard for Svetlana Slivka (ph) not to tear up, when she is asked what it is like to live so close to the border of Belarus. Whenever she thinks about it, she thinks of her son who is fighting in the war.

She says, "I live from call to call, therefore it is a very painful topic."

Slivka works in the only store in the tiny Ukrainian village Dniprovskyi (ph) located just two miles from Belarus. Just last week, the Ukrainian military says Russia launched a rocket attack aimed at northern towns and villages in Ukraine. Rockets launched from Belarusian soil, flying right over small villages like this one.

This video taken from another rocket attack a few months ago. These sights and sounds now all too common here.

Gyore Sokolenko (ph) recorded it one night on his phone. He says it is very difficult. First, you worry about your family, your relative, your country. We decided we will defend but you can't fight against artillery with machine guns.

Sokolenko showed us the damage the strike caused after rockets hit his home. But he points out it's not just property damage, it's also many long-standing relationships between Ukrainians and Belarusians, Belarus, seen as a key ally to Russia.

This Ukrainian soldier patrols the border between the two countries. He was on duty the night in February when the war started, and he says armed drones were launched by Russians in Belarus.

He says before the war, there were friendly relations between Ukraine and the republic of Belarus. At the moment, we do not maintain any relations.

He carefully showed us an area just a stone's throw from the border, now mined.

"On the 28th, we saw missiles flying from that direction," he says. This bridge that once connected the two countries now destroyed by the Ukrainian military to prevent Russia from entering Ukraine this way again.

It is a symbol for how people like Slivka now feel about some of the Belarusians they once called friends. She says, we expected such an attack from Putin. But we did not expect this from the Belarusians. It is just betrayal. It's a stab in the back that no one expected. They are worse than Russia.

Jason Carroll, CNN -- Dniprovskyi, Ukraine.


CHURCH: The U.N. says there are more than 6.3 million Ukrainian refugees living outside the country right now. CNN's Isa Soares spoke exclusively with actress and UNICEF goodwill ambassador Priyanka Chopra-Jonas about her work with refugees in Poland and the war's effect on them.

Here's part of their conversation.


PRIYANKA CHOPRA-JONAS, UNICEF GOODWILL AMBASSADOR: Most people thought that this war would be over much sooner so they grabbed whatever they could and left. A lot of people have left their families, the elderly, the infirm, the men behind, so children are uprooted from their homes and have no idea where schools will be, where life will be.

And I think the biggest need is support for these families to be integrated into the countries that they are going to for kids to not miss and carry on their education whether that's with online classes, or distance learning or even the language to be taught to them in the countries that they are going to be going to school in.

So I think the immediate really need is being able to think about the future of the refugees, where they're going to go, because of the uncertainty of the war.


ISA SOARES, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, and this is something actually that you're bringing up Priyanka. This is something I saw when I was in Ukraine. When I went to Ukraine, I saw families returning because of course they didn't have the stability. Families who wanted a sense of normalcy. They wanted their children to go to school and weren't able to get there.

So creating that environment for them is so important right now.

CHOPRA-JONAS: And you see that with UNICEF has -- UNICEF has 11 centers called (INAUDIBLE) around Poland and they're like reception centers were refugees, children -- all refugees can come to and they get information about how to protect themselves, how to get jobs, where they can get resources, how their kids can go to school, they have daycares for kids where moms, if they have to go figure out what's their next steps are, they can leave their children and they can with these teachers, that actually, you know, are working with them on education and development.

So that is such a way that comes off of the parents because they have the ability to get that kind of support and I think that is extremely crucial, where you intercept the refugees coming in, at the point where you can actually give them support to find the next steps in their lives.

SOARES: Was there a store, Priyanka, from your time there that marked you? That kept you thinking day in and day out?

CHOPRA-JONAS: Multiple stories I can't just say one but I think that, you know, hearing from mothers, mothers who are trying to keep their emotions in check in front of their children who are trying to be so strong, the care givers of the family, the bread earners of the family. Ukrainians need supported by its women right now because they're the ones who are crossing the borders, going out and looking for jobs and sending money back to support their families.

And I think that when I spoke to them, there was one mom who told me that there was no way that she would have left Ukraine. And she left along with her son. And she said, I only left because of my son. I don't want him to become used to the sound of sirens and explosions like so many of the other family members (INAUDIBLE). They used to live in shelters, but now they live in their own home because they've gotten used to it and no child should be used to the sound of missiles or explosions and bombs.


CHURCH: And if you would like to help refugees fleeing Ukraine, you can find a list of vetted humanitarian organizations at

And thank you very so much for joining us.

I'm Rosemary Church. I'll be right back with more news from all around the world after the break. You're watching CNN.

Stay with us.