Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Newsroom

CNN Goes Inside Liberated Ukrainian City Of Izium; Russians Hit With Eastern Counteroffensive As Ukrainian Signaled Major Campaign In The South; King Charles III Visits Northern Ireland For First Time As King; Queen's Coffin Rests Inside Buckingham Palace Overnight; Crowds Pack London Streets To Pay Tribute To Queen; Election Denier Leads New Hampshire GOP Senate Primary; Sen. Graham Proposes Nationwide 15-Week Abortion Ban; Ukrainian Troops Fight to Take Back Cities in Donetsk; China Issues Red Alert as Typhoon Muifa Approaches; Xi Jinping to Visit Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan This Week; Former Executive Accuses Twitter of 'Misleading the Public'. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired September 14, 2022 - 00:00   ET




JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is CNN NEWSROOM.

In the hour ahead, gear a drift is a gift, the huge windfall of military hardware abandoned by Russian soldiers amid a chaotic retreat now in the hands of Ukrainian fighters.

And now on to London, as crowds began to gather to pay their respects to Queen Elizabeth, while she lies in state for four days.

And the final primary race ahead of the U.S. midterm elections and what it says about the problems facing the Republican Party.


ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN Center, this is CNN NEWSROOM with John Vause.

VAUSE: We begin this hour in Ukraine as Senior Military Adviser to Ukraine's president as a major counter offensive is slowing but not stopping as troops fight to retake control the city of Lyman in the Donetsk region.

And the liberation of Lyman could set up a new push into the Luhansk region and the wider Donbas. The Ukrainians report pockets of ongoing resistance as well as Russian soldiers looting as they retreat from what has been nothing short of a military route, with Ukraine claiming thousands of square miles of territory in the Northeast that's been liberated, and once again, under Ukrainian control.

Those Russians who are fleeing, they're leaving behind a windfall of military equipment, gear adrift is a gift they say, especially for the Ukrainians who have been pleading with the West for increased weapons shipments.

But Russia still holds huge trunks in the Ukrainian territory and the collapse of the Kremlin forces in the East does not mean they're gone for good.

Winter weather could radically change the battlefield and Kyiv's top allies warns the conflict is not over. Here was the U.S. president on Tuesday when asked if Ukraine's counter offensive is a turning point in the war.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The question is unanswerable right now. It's hard to tell. It's clear the Ukrainians have made significant progress, but I think it's going to be a long haul.


VAUSE: Along the liberated cities of eastern Ukraine Izium stands out as one of the most important.

CNN's Sam Kiley was the first international correspondent to go inside the former Russian logistics hub after it's recaptured by Ukrainian forces. Here's more now in this exclusive report.


SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): It's been a stunning advance. Ukraine's rout of Russian invaders has recaptured 6,000 square kilometers, Ukraine's president says. This land was held by Russia just a few days ago. Now it's providing a rich harvest to Ukraine's army of abandoned Russian equipment.

The Russian Z symbol painted over, the guns ready to kill Russians. The recapture of Izium, a strategic prize accelerated by precision strikes from new artillery donated by western allies.

This is clearly hit with a very large piece of artillery or an air strike. You see how important it was strategically, clearly a former school. There's a kind of children's painting on the wall. But it also has got these large holes, which have been dug to store tanks or armored personnel carriers, even artillery pieces. There is one, two, three, four, five.

We were shown into a command center in the bunkers of an old factory.

So, down here we see medical facility, call it something like that, inside this bunker. There's a barracks.

The top brass here slept in beds made of old doors.

And of course, the command center here. As I walk along here, it's actually extraordinary, there are different labels for the different roles of the senior Russian officers on these school desks that have been arranged in this bunker in an old -- looks like a brick factory. Now, they were safe down here underground. But they didn't feel safe

enough to stay in Izium. What's critical ultimately for the Ukrainian armed forces is making sure that the senior officers of the Russian army stay on the run. If they do that, the Russian armed forces will collapse completely in Ukraine and potentially threaten the longevity of one, Vladimir Putin.

This couple celebrated liberation. They told me that some of their neighbors were less delighted and had blamed Ukrainian forces for shelling their homes. But he insisted the incoming shells never hit the checkpoints or Russian artillery base right outside his house, and so blamed the Russians for false flag attacks on civilians.

He said the Russians behaved like pigs. They stole everything from all the empty houses before they ran away.

The Russian guns were busy here with ammunition boxes now stockpiled for winter fuel. And to the Ukrainian victors here, the spoils have been rich. The capture of Izium and the rout of Russia here has broken a key link in Putin's logistics chain in the battle for the east.

Now, you have the remarkable scene of a tank coming to collect an abandoned Russian power cell.

I asked him if it had been a hard fight. Not really, he said. The latest Ukrainian successes may not be the beginning of the end of this war, but not even the Kremlin can deny that this chapter has been a very sorry tale for Russia.

Sam Kiley, CNN in Izium.



VAUSE: David Sanger is a CNN Political and National Security Analyst as well as White House and National Security Correspondent for The New York Times. Welcome back.


VAUSE: OK, so, well, the pace of this Ukrainian offensive has slowed a little, it has not stopped, at least according to a military adviser to President Zelenskyy. Here he is to this.


OLEKSIY ARESTOVYCH, MILITARY ADVISER TO UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT: We prepared to keep our offensive. Intensify our strikes and liberate new territories in a different way.


VAUSE: So, clearly, the momentum and the momentum is with the Ukrainians, the Russians have been rattled, at least for now. Is it too early to declare this to be a turning point in the war? Have

the Ukrainians at least been able to prove that victory is possible?

SANGER: They prove that it's possible. They've also proved that the forcing of the Russians out of Kyiv back in April and May was not a one off event that they were able to capitalize on the fact that the Russians are severely undermanned in many of the parts of occupied Ukraine, and that they've lost a lot of their best ground equipment, a lot of their tanks a fair bit of their weaponry.

And so, the Ukrainian seized on the moment. The big question, John is, can they hold what they've taken? Because while this could well be a turning point in the war, it might not work as much if the Russians are able to bide their time and then come right back in.

VAUSE: It does seem that there was one moment over the summer, which is critical in the decision to launch a counter offensive on two fronts. The New York Times reporting it happened during a war game with the U.S. and Ukrainian officials aimed at testing the success of a broad offensive across the south.

The exercise reported earlier by CNN suggested such an offensive would fail. Armed with the American skepticism, Ukrainian military officials went back to President Zelenskyy. And he basically then decided on this two front approach.

So, did the Russians actually relocate many of their best troops to the south, essentially, based on public comments being made by Ukrainian officials?

SANGER: Well, they certainly reallocated some of their forces. But I don't know how much of this they did on public comments, how much on the Intel they gathered, how much on the belief of the Ukrainians couldn't sustain two fronts at the same time.

But what we're now learning is that it's the Russians who are having a hard time maintaining multiple fronts. And this gets to two or three big changes in the past couple of months.

The first is the delivery of a lot of precision weapons. The U.S. is now moving those weapons in at a remarkable pace, 500 million to a billion dollars in weaponry and in ammunition each and every week.

The second thing that has changed is that the Russians themselves have not wanted to -- not wanting to pull off a general mobilization that would have brought in middle class kids, drafted them in, now these are the elite from St. Petersburg or Moscow.

And the government has, I think, rightly calculated that if there was anything that might destabilize President Putin, it might be losing that middle class group, where he's got a fair bit of support.

I think the third big thing that changed is that the Ukrainian saw winter was coming. And so, if they didn't grab this now, they probably weren't going to be able to go do it in this calendar year. VAUSE: And speaking of criticism of President Putin, from within Russia, we continue to have these city officials like from Moscow and St. Petersburg or elsewhere, signing this petition, demanding that the president actually resign. This has actually been ongoing for a few days. It hasn't been shut down yet. So, is this the start of something? What's going on here?

SANGER: We wish we knew. You know, we all thought that we were at the start of something in 2011, 2012 when there were protests about a rigged election in Ukraine -- I'm sorry, in Russia.

And President Putin did not take the criticism well, he was particularly outraged when Hillary Clinton and the secretary of state issued a statement suggesting that the election have been rigged. And many people believe that was part of the origin story of why Putin went into try to alter the 2016 American election.

But the other thing that we don't know here is how deep the opposition to Putin goes. There were 40 very brave, you know, mayors, deputy mayors and signed that petition. But that's hardly a very large number in a country the size of Russia. And we just don't know what kind of sustained pressure may ultimately result on President Putin, if any.


VAUSE: David, as always, it's great to have you with us. Thank you so much.

SANGER: Thank you.

VAUSE: Britain's longest serving monarch has made her final turning home at a final night at Buckingham Palace. The coffin carrying Queen Elizabeth was greeted with cheers and applause as it arrived in London, Edinburgh, and in the hours ahead, the coffin will be taken by horse drawn carriage to Westminster where she will lie in state until her funeral on Monday.

CNN's Bianca Nobilo has more now reporting in from London.


BIANCA NOBILO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The final journey back home, the Queen's hearse taken to Buckingham Palace to the embrace of her children and grandchildren. A night for the family to grieve in private.

Mourners bid her farewell in Edinburgh, streaming past her casket adorned with a Scottish crown and have been queuing up in London ahead of Wednesday for one last chance to say goodbye to the late Queen at Westminster Hall.

Cheering her motorcade like they cheered the new king received by an upbeat crowd in Belfast earlier on Tuesday.

Expected to build upon the foundations of his late mother, King Charles needs to be a source of healing. CHARLES PHILIP ARTHUR GEORGE, KING OF UNITED KINGDOM: My mother felt deeply I know the significance of the role she herself played in bringing together those who history had separated and in extending a hand to make possible the healing of long held hurts.

NOBILO: In a sign of unity amid a fractured past, the king met with the Irish president and Northern Irish leaders and lawmakers at the Hillsborough Castle royal residents. But Queen Elizabeth II played a part in cementing the peace following decades of deadly violence.

ALEX MASKEY, SPEAKER OF THE NORTHERN IRELAND ASSEMBLY: Queen Elizabeth showed that a small but significant gesture of visit, a handshake, crossing the street or speaking a few words of Iris can make a huge difference in changing attitudes and building relationships.

NOBILO: Chants of God save the king, greeted the King and Queen Consort at Saint Anne's Cathedral in a service of reflection.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And the blessing of God Almighty the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be with you and remain with you always. Amen.

NOBILO: Before the king flew to receive his mother's hearse back in London.

Bianca Nobilo, CNN, London.


VAUSE: At this hour CNN's Nina dos Santos is standing by live outside Buckingham Palace. We also have CNN Scott McLean in London, where many are already lining up to see the queen lying in state later on this day. But first to Nina, just explain to us, you know, what we can expect in the hours ahead?

NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, at the moment, the queen's coffin is spending one last night here at Buckingham Palace, obviously, the official residency and seat of the monarchy of this country, but she's also in the final embrace of her family who are here overnight.

Chaplains watching over her coffin as we speak. And then, eventually later on in the early afternoon at about 22 minutes past 2:00, precisely supposedly, the gates of Buckingham Palace will open and her coffin will be brought in a procession followed by her son King Charles III and his two heirs, Prince William and also Prince Harry. They will proceed here down the Mile behind me taking a number of London landmarks, like for instance Horse Guards Parade that many of our viewers might be familiar with that go through that arch onto Whitehall, which is where the seat of government is in this country before proceeding eventually down Parliament street and into the complex of the Palace of Westminster, which is where Westminster Hall is.

That is where she will lie in state for four days to come to allow Britain and everybody who wants to if they can queue for long enough to pay their respects.

She will probably arrive there at 3:00 p.m. and her coffin will be loaded onto -- from the hearse onto a platform, there it will be adorned as it probably will already be when it comes out of the gates of Buckingham Palace with the Royal Standard but also crucially, the Imperial state crown.

And we're going to be expecting gun salutes taking place in Hyde Park, which is just to my left over there, this side in the sort of northwest of where I'm sitting at the moment, John, but also gun salutes taking place in other parts of the capitol as well.

Big band we're expecting to toll as well, as of course, this funeral procession guides the 70 year long monarch from Buckingham Palace, her main seat over towards Westminster Hall where she'll lie in state.


And people have an opportunity to try and line the streets as we saw yesterday when her coffin returned from Scotland. They lined the streets even near the freeway stopping their cars, keeping their lights on in it, mark -- getting out in a mark of salute to the late Queen, John.

VAUSE: Nina, thank you. Let's go to Scott McLean now and Scott, Nina touched on this, the -- so far, the tributes to her majesty have been in silence. They have been somber, they have been respectful, and it is silence which is most notable it seems. And is that sort of the mood there were people now lining up to pay their respects head later on today?

JOHN MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: People are dressed remarkably well, John, considering that they're basically spending the night outside, not basically, they are spending the night outside exposed to the elements but they want to be in their Sunday best to see the queen. Let me just set the scene for you here quickly.

So, these are the Houses of Parliament. That's Westminster Hall where the queen's body will lie in state, the beginning of the queue that they've set up is right here. The first two women in the queue. This is their second night. They've just finished spending outdoors.

By the time it's all said and done and they see the body lying in state, they will have been waiting for 53 hours in line.

I just want to introduce you to one person really quickly if I can. His name is David Carlson (PH) and he's here, he's 75 years old.

David, if I can just grab you for one second. I just have a quick question here for you. You had a quick bit of a fainting spell yesterday and yet, you decided to continue on, wait in line to see the queen's body and I just wonder why.

DAVID CARLSON, QUEUED TO PAY RESPECTS: Well, I just want to pay my respects. You know, she's my queen. You know, and I sung, swore an oath (INAUDIBLE) I joined her, I swore my allegiance to her and this is my goodbye. My only way to say goodbye. You know.

MCLEAN: It's really amazing. So, go ahead.

CARLSON: Even though I'm not in post anymore, I'm a bit old. I feel as though I've done my duty. She's been my queen 70 years. I was five when she was crowned.

MCLEAN: I just wanted to say thank you. Thank you for talking to us, David. And thank you so much for your service as well.

John, let me just show you the rest of the line if I can here really quickly. So, most of the people that you see here, obviously, all the people that you see here they have spent the night outdoors, some of them brought tents, some of them didn't because the government has told people not to bring a lot of stuff, you're not going to be allowed to bring in big bags, you're not going to be allowed to bring in you know a ton of water or supplies or anything like that. You can really only bring in one small backpack.

And so, people have come with really just what they need, snacks, some clothes, maybe a mat to sleep on, maybe a lawn chair, that kind of a thing. If you actually look at the route of the map that they're expecting for the queue, it stretches on for four miles, we might get to the end of the queue so far. We're still 12 hours away from the public to actually see the body but it stretches all along the south bank of London passed to the London Eye, passed the Tower Bridge, past the Tower of London, all of the major landmarks all the way to southern Park, which is if you know London is in sort of the eastern part of central London and so, it is a remarkably long way that they expect people to be queuing.

But if you figure that some 33,000 people filed past the coffin when it was at St. Giles Cathedral in Scotland, 200,000 people were here over three days to file past the coffin of the Queen Mother back in 2002.

And obviously, they're expecting a lot lot more for Queen Victoria -- sorry, Queen Elizabeth II, obviously. This time around, they're expecting even more people to show up.

So, we're talking about hundreds of thousands of people, they have had to add extra trains because obviously, they can't control when people will actually get in there to see the body or to see the coffin, lying in state.

So, you know, people might be looking to go home at 2:00, 3:00 in the morning at a time when usually there's no transit.

So obviously, a lot of alternate arrangements have had to be made to accommodate people, John

VAUSE: Scott, just very quickly, because the template we can see Big Ben and what else is just across the river there, from where you are.

MCLEAN: Yes, so, Big Ben, House of the Parliament. You can also see Westminster Abbey, just behind there, that's where the funeral will actually take place.

So, I mean, this queue that they have here, I mean, really all of the landmarks that any sort of tourists would see in London. It goes past there, and it's a very, very long way.

VAUSE: Absolutely. Scott, thank you so much for that and Nina dos Santos also there outside Buckingham Palace. We thank you for getting up and being with us at this early hour. That's pre-dawn hour there in London. So, thank you both.


More ahead this hour here on CNN NEWSROOM, including U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham has planned for a nationwide ban on abortions. Why that's not surprisingly dividing the Republican Party.


VAUSE: Welcome back. A disappointing inflation report sent U.S. financial markets into a tailspin. The Dow lost more than 1200 points close to four percent. Worst day since June of 2020. NASDAQ down five percent, the S&P 500 was four percent.

The Labor Department report shows inflation was up one-tenth of one percent from July to August, many economists had expected a fall in inflation. And while all that was happening, U.S. President Joe Biden was at the White House celebrating his Inflation Reduction Act, which aims to reduce the cost of healthcare and prescription drugs, as well as addressing climate change. The president brushed off the bad day on Wall Street.



BIDEN: The stock market doesn't necessarily reflect the state of the economy, as you well know. And the economy is still strong. Unemployment is low, jobs are up, manufacturing is good. So, I think it's -- I think we're going to be fine.


VAUSE: The president was speaking there from Delaware where he gone to vote in the primary elections. Voters have also been casting ballots in Rhode Island as well as New Hampshire.

Well, the key races we're watching is the Republican Senate primary in New Hampshire. Retired Army General Donald Bolduc is locked in a tight race with the state Senate President Chuck Morse. The winner will take on the incumbent Democrat Maggie Hassan in November.

Now, New Hampshire's first congressional district, CNN projects -- election data has its projection that Karoline Leavitt will win the Republican primary to take on the incumbent Democratic Chris Pappas.

OK, to Los Angeles now, Jessica Levinson, Professor of Law at Loyola law school and host of The Passing Judgment podcast. Good to see you.


VAUSE: Let's talk Don Bolduc, because he's been the favorite among the Republicans for this Senate nomination. Here he is on Fox News explaining why he's been under attack, not just from Democrats, but from Republicans as well. Here he is.


DONALD BOLDUC (R), SENATORIAL CANDIDATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE: I'm not extreme in the slightest. I'm even being called names on both sides of the aisle now. Right? It just -- it just comes with the territory when you stand up for what you believe in.


VAUSE: And this is what he believes in, that Donald Trump won the 2020 election and it was stolen by Democrats, that the New Hampshire governor and moderate Senate Republican -- sorry, Senate Governor Chris Sununu, who is a communist sympathizer.

He said current vaccines are being used to implant microchips. And when asked about that, he reportedly said Bill Gates wants to implant people with tracking microchips. This list goes on and on and on. This seems to be what is potentially a widespread problem now for the Republicans heading into the midterms. They're these candidates who appeal to the extreme part of the party, but not much to the mainstream.

LEVINSON: Right, which actually could be helpful for Democrats going into the midterms, because these are extreme candidates. And of course, it depends on the particular district and how much that district is slanted towards Republicans and whether or not there are Republicans who will just say, I'm not voting or I'm voting for a third party, or I'm going to vote for a Democrat.

But it is a roll of the dice to continue to have these very right wing, maybe is not the correct phrase, but really, I would say fringe moving into the mainstream candidates because, well, they may be the mainstream for some politicians. I still believe for a lot of voters the idea that the COVID vaccines are planting microchips in us. The idea that a fair and free election didn't really occur and in fact was stolen. I think for voters, these are still fringe ideas.

VAUSE: Yes. And we're also seeing sort of a proxy war being fought out between Donald Trump and the Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. You know, these are the two most powerful leaders, if you like, in the Republican Party right now and they're backing different candidates.

LEVINSON: I think we are going to see more of this. And I will say, I think a lot of the schism between kind of how much does the Republican Party wants to continue to tie itself to Donald Trump and the MAGA movement? I think we have to watch to see what happens on a couple of legal

fronts. The Department of Justice has ongoing investigations, not just into the documents, the apparently unlawful retention of documents, but also the fake elector scheme. And now, also this issue of fundraising for the Stop the Steal rally, and fundraising for this super PAC, which may have potentially violated some federal election laws and maybe even wire fraud laws.

So, the more we see those investigations ramping up, I think the more we will see the party pulling away from Trump, maybe not Trumpism, but Trump.

VAUSE: And the consequences from the Supreme Court's ruling to end the legal right to abortion by striking down Roe versus Wade, this has been emerging as a big issue in the coming midterms. It's sort of hurting the Republicans. And so, the Republican Senator Lindsey Graham now has this plan, here he is.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): I think we should have a law at the federal level that would say after 15 weeks, no abortion on demand, except in cases of rape, incest to save the life of the mother.

If we take back the House in the Senate, I can assure you we'll have a vote on our bill.


VAUSE: Explain what's going on here. Because, you know, states' rights, the Supreme Court essentially stuck down Roe versus Wade, send it back to the states and now Graham wants to take it back to the federal level, what's going on?

LEVINSON: So, I think this was always the endgame for a lot of people who didn't like Roe v. Wade. Of course, it doesn't just end with Roe v. Wade. And that's true for a number of different fronts. Right? It doesn't end with Roe v. Wade, meaning we're going to look into other protections for instance, potentially the LGBTQ community.

But it also doesn't end with Roe v. Wade. Even though we heard in the oral arguments, we read in the opinion, this is just about leaving it to the states. Nowhere does that say and the federal government has no say.


So there's a couple things here. Legally speaking, what needs to happen? The The Supreme Court would have to say that, in fact, Congress does have the enumerated power, a listed power, under the Commerce Clause, to be able to pass this type of abortion ban.

And after that, we really move into the political arena, which is, frankly, I'm not sure this is a winner for Republicans. We know that the Dobbs decision overturning Roe v. Wade has been motivating for one party. And it really is the Democrats. They've now seen what can happen. It's not just worry about what will happen. It's actually states are banning abortion.

I think Lindsey Graham is trying to gin up some support from Republicans, who are saying, Oh, great, we will be able to vote for a nationwide ban, but that terrifies a lot of Democrats and will get them to the polls, as well.

VAUSE: Yes, it's such a complicated issue, too, and one which is -- doesn't really have a clear path right now as to how it went (ph). Jessica, thank you for being with us. Jessica Levinson there in Los Angeles.

LEVINSON: Thank you.

VAUSE: Ken Starr, remember him? He's the man who investigated Bill Clinton for a series of legal scandals -- has died.

The family says the 76-year-old died of complications in surgery.

Starr became known worldwide in the 1990s when he was appointed to investigate the Clintons' involvement in an Arkansas real estate scandal. His investigate -- investigation broadened, ultimately revealing Bill Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinsky, leading to Clinton's impeachment.

Lewinsky reacted to Starr's death on Twitter with this: "As I'm sure many can understand, my thoughts about Ken Starr bring up complicated feelings ... but of more importance, is that I imagine it's a painful loss for those who love him."

Ukraine's counteroffensive has forced Russian troops to retreat for thousands of square miles, and coming up, life after liberation. Residents in one newly-freed town tell CNN's Melissa Bell what it's like living under months of Russian occupation.



VAUSE: Back now to our lead this hour. A senior aide to Ukraine's president says a blistering-fast counter-offensive is now slowing as troops fight to retake the city of Limon in the Donetsk region.

In just the last few weeks, Ukraine claims to have retaken thousands of square miles. Even the Russians have admitted they've been forced to retreat.

The Ukrainians say they're still facing pockets of resistance in fighting and looting by Russian soldiers. Ukrainian officials say more than 300,000 villagers have been liberated in just four days during this counteroffensive. Residents have endured months of Russian occupation, many forced to survive on what little they could grow at home.

CNN's Melissa Bell spoke with Ukrainians about life under occupation and the emotional moments when they found out their town had been liberated. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MELISSA BELL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Larissa Harkivska (ph) is ashamed of what little she has: food given by the Russians. Mainly rice, flour and sugar.

For six months, she says, she and her 35-year-old daughter were virtual prisoners of their apartment too scared to go out. The medical help Svetlana (ph) needs after an accident 15 years ago, impossible to get.


BELL (voice-over): Most people, says Larissa (ph) left Shevchenkove through Russia, only the poorest left behind, living on what they can grow. Apples and watermelon, mostly.


BELL (voice-over): Larissa's (ph) empty fridge, now her primary concern.


BELL: Enough for one month.

BELL (voice-over): She's embarrassed, she says, we'll show the world how empty it is.

But tries nonetheless to offer of some of the watermelon preserves she's just made, before showing us around a town liberated on Friday after several days of fighting. The shops, now closed, were for six months only affordable for Russian soldiers, she says.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): They mocked (ph) people. Sometimes they killed. There were so many of them, and they were so young.

BELL (voice-over): The arrival of Ukrainian soldiers, a relief for Larissa (ph) and her friend, Maria, but almost too much to digest.

MARIA, SHEVCHENKOVE RESIDENT (through translator): There is psychological abuse. And there is violence. For me, psychological abuse is worse. We were sitting in a basement for two days, and then our husbands came and said our soldiers are here. And it was just tears of happiness.

BELL (voice-over): Happiness at the change of hands, but uncertainty, still, about how to survive and what the immediate future holds.

Melissa Bell, CNN, Shevchenkove.


VAUSE: Still to come on CNN, flights canceled and ships ordered out to sea as a powerful typhoon bears down on China's biggest city. We're tracking that storm when we come back.



VAUSE: China has issued its first typhoon red alert this year, with a powerful storm expected to make landfall just south of Shanghai in a few hours. Wind gusts are near 200 kilometers an hour. Hundreds of flights have been canceled. Ships in the area have been ordered to return to port, crews advised to take shelter.

CNN's Pedram Javaheri joins us now with the very latest. We're talking about 28 million people in Shanghai alone, but this is heading just slightly to the South. What's the impact here?

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: You know, there are so many people across this region, even just South of Shanghai, as you know very well, John. So the impact is going to be significant regardless.

And you'll notice 300 millimeters of rainfall. We're talking about a foot of rainfall coming down here across Taiwan in the last three days. And we've got a trio of tropical systems lined up, but the most pressing one is this particular one we found, which is equivalent to a Category 2 hurricane, as it pushes in across the densely-populated region of Eastern China.

So there's Shanghai, and there's an area across our portion of Daejon (ph) province that are really going to see the impacts of this storm system.

Within the next few hours, the initial landfall just East of Linbo (ph). Population there about 8 million people, equivalent to New York City.

And then, within six to eight hours, potentially pushing just East of Shanghai there, as a tropical storm.

So it will lose some steam, to a strong tropical storm. And notice, it kind of takes the scenic route here over the next several days. Kind of going right along the Eastern periphery of China, very densely populated region, as I said. And again, with the population pushing between 26 to 28 million. Shanghai in particular, and then you broaden out the perspective.

I just calculated this area, looking at it with the massive population tool. One hundred twenty-seven million people over the next three days set to be impacted because of this track.

So the storm will produce an incredible amount of rainfall. The flooding threat going to be significant, especially when you look at the densely urbanized region that's going to be impacted here.

So that's one area we're watching. And again, there's another system on the backside of this that could impact areas of Japan in the coming several days, John.

VAUSE: Pedram, we appreciate the update. Thank you.

Chinese leader Xi Jinping is scheduled to travel to Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan for a regional summit and his first international trip since the beginning of the COVID pandemic.

The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, will be there, and the Kremlin says he will meet with Xi on the sidelines.

CNN's Kristie Lu Stout, live for us this hour in Hong Kong with more.

Xi Jinping could have gone to any country he wanted, really, for his first trip back on the world stage. So he's going to central Asia. He'll have this meeting with Vladimir Putin. So what does this say, you know, about what he's looking at, what does he want? What's the sort of message is he sending with all of this.

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. This is very significant. Chinese President Xi Jinping is making his first trip -- he's leaving China for the first time since the early days of the pandemic. He's touching down in Kazakhstan today. And tomorrow, he's expected to meet on the sidelines of an economic conference in Uzbekistan with the Russian president, Vladimir Putin.

And with this visit to Central Asia, China has the opportunity to showcase its international clout, to express its opposition to the United States; and for Xi Jinping, this is an opportunity for some political muscle flexing.

For him to say, domestically, he is confident about his grip on power at home, even though China is being hit with multiple economic headwinds.

The timing of this visit is critical. We are just a few weeks away from the 20th Party Congress -- that is, of course, when Xi Jinping is expected to secure his unprecedented third term as party leader.

Now, ahead of this visit to Central Asia, we did hear from Russian state media that continues to tout the Russian-China relationship. And they are saying that when she and Putin meet in Uzbekistan, they will discuss Ukraine.

I want to bring up a statement for you. This is from Putin's foreign policy aide. He says this, quote, "In the current difficult situation, in the face of illegitimate Western sanctions, this cooperation demonstrates sustainability, which continues to progressively development, and to gain momentum."

Now we, of course, are awaiting comment from Beijing about the agenda, also about the visit, or this expected meeting itself. But even in the face of international blowback to Russia and its actions in Ukraine, relations between China and Russia have been warming in recent months.

Economically, China continues to buy Russian energy, thus softening the effect of Russian sanctions. China continues to speak out against Western sanctions, as well as refusing to condemn Russia. So analysts will be looking very closely for any signs to come out of this potential meeting between Putin and Xi in Uzbekistan tomorrow. Any signs of a further consolidation of a relationship, any signs of just how limitless this relationship really is, especially, now with the battlefront in Ukraine, is shifting -- John.

VAUSE: Kristie, we appreciate the update there, and the analysis. Kristie Lu Stout, live for us in Hong Kong.

Pope Francis is in Kazakhstan for a three-day visit to attend a meeting of world religious leaders. He says he's willing to go to China at any time, but there's no meeting planned between the pope and the Chinese president during this Kazakhstan trip. Never mind.

Still ahead, a former Twitter executive turned whistleblower heads to Capitol Hill with damning allegations of subpar security standards at the social media giant. Those details when we come back.


VAUSE: On the second day of the trial of right-wing shock jock Alex Jones, an FBI agent broke down in tears, describing his role in clearing classrooms during the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012.

For years, Jones has claimed the Sandy Hook shooting was fake, describing the grieving parents as crisis actors.

Here's agent Bill Aldenberg, speaking on Tuesday about what he saw.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is what you saw in that school fake?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: See any actors that day, Bill?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Those children real?

ALDENBERG: It's awful. Awful.


VAUSE: Last month, a Texas jury ruled Alex Jones should pay the family of one Sandy Hook victim nearly $50 million for defamation and causing extreme emotional distress.

In one court deposition, Jones acknowledged the mass shooting was real; blamed his repeated claims that it was a hoax on psychosis.

A former Twitter executive turned whistleblower went before the U.S. Senate on Tuesday with allegations of lies, security lapses and foreign spies on the social media company's payroll. CNN's Donie O'Sullivan has the story.


PETER "MUDGE" ZATKO, TWITTER WHISTLEBLOWER: I'm here today because Twitter leadership is misleading the public, lawmakers, regulators and even its own board of directors.

DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Twitter's former head of security coming to Capitol Hill with a stark warning for lawmakers.

ZATKO: It's not farfetched to say that an employee inside the company could take over the accounts of all of the senators in this room.

O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): Former Twitter executive Peter Zatko painting a picture of a company with huge security vulnerabilities that he says are a danger to national security and democracy.

ZATKO: What I discovered when I joined Twitter was that this enormously influential company was over a decade behind industry security standards.

O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): Zatko was hired by Twitter in 2020 after teenagers hacked the accounts of some of the most famous people in the world. His testimony today coming a month after he first stepped forward as a whistleblower in exclusive interviews with CNN and "The Washington Post."



O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): He says too many Twitter employees have access to the company's main controls, make it vulnerable to future attacks, and a gold mine for espionage.

ZATKO: What I did notice, when we did know the person inside, acting on behalf of a foreign interest, as an unregistered agent, it was extremely difficult to track the people.

O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): Last month, a former Twitter employee was convicted of spying for the Saudis. Today, it emerged, according to Zatko, that the FBI had informed Twitter that the company had a Chinese government spy on his payroll.

ZATKO: They simply lacked the -- the fundamental abilities to hunt for foreign intelligence agencies and expel them on their own.

O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): Telling lawmakers Twitter executives were driven by profits, no matter the security costs.

ZATKO: I'm reminded of one conversation with an executive, when I said, I am confident that we have a foreign agent and their response was, well, since we already have one, what does it matter if we have more. Let's keep growing the office. O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): As for regulators, Zatko says the FTC isn't

up to the task.

ZATKO: Honestly, I think the FTC is a little, you know, over their head. If they -- compared to the size of the big tech companies and the challenge they have against them, they're left letting companies grade their own homework.

O'SULLIVAN: We haven't heard publicly from Twitter executives. And Zatko came forward with these allegations for the first time about a month ago, but Twitter saying today that today's hearing only confirms Zatko's allegations are riddled with inconsistencies and inaccuracies.

But the company not answering our specific questions about whether an alleged Chinese government spy is still working at the company.

This all coming on the same day that Twitter shareholders voted for that Elon Musk $44 billion deal to take over the company. to go ahead. Musk, of course, trying to back out of that.

All of this is coming in a showdown in Delaware next month, when it goes to trial.

Donie O'Sullivan, CNN, Washington.


VAUSE: Thank you for watching this hour of CNN NEWSROOM. I'll be right back in a moment with our colleague Becky Anderson, live in London. Back in a moment.