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Mourners Across the Globe Queue to Pay Respects to Queen; Mass Graves Discovered in Ukraine; Biden to Meet with Family Members of Griner and Whelan; King's Long-Standing Relationship With The Middle East; Biden: Republicans Using Migrants As 'Props'; Putin & Xi Meet In Person For First Time Since February. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired September 16, 2022 - 02:00   ET




BECKY ANDERSON, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and welcome to our viewers all around the world. I'm Becky Anderson in London where thousands are still queuing up for hours, patiently waiting their turn just to get a glimpse of the queen's casket.

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Michael Holmes in Atlanta. Hundreds of mass graves have been discovered in Ukraine, in a city which was just liberated last week as Russian forces continue their retreat.

ANDERSON: It's 7:00 a.m. here in London, and the long-awaited details of Queen Elizabeth's funeral have now been made public, and it promises to be one of the most elaborate events ever held in British history.

On Friday, King Charles will be joined by his younger sister and two brothers at a silent vigil at the queen's coffin in Westminster Hall where mourners have been streaming through by the thousands since late on Wednesday.

Senior royals have also been traveling across the country during this time. The Prince and Princess of Wales visited with well-wishers at the families' residents of Sandringham in Norfolk.

And Princess Anne receiving a royal welcome to Scotland, Glasgow this time, where she greeted members of the public and viewed a floral tribute to her late mother.

On Sunday, King Charles will host a royal reception at Buckingham Palace for the many foreign dignitaries invited to Monday's funeral. The queen's funeral is set to officially get underway on Monday morning with two minutes of silence just before noon. Until the coffin is removed from Westminster Hall, the public will be allowed to view it if they are willing to wait for long hours.

CNNs Anna Stewart has been speaking with people in that queue.


ANNA STEWART, CNN REPORTER (voice-over): A new day, an old line. It started days ago. They come from near and far, hundreds of thousands of people.

(On camera): Why are you here today?

UNKNOWN: To go and celebrate the queen's life, and pay our respects.

STEWART (voice-over): From Big Ben to Tower Bridge. By lunchtime, the line stretched beyond four miles and it could go longer still. The government warning it already takes nine hours. Stamina is a must. There's little chance to sit down.

UNKNOWN: I was at the coronation as a young boy.

STEWART (on camera): You were at the coronation?


STEWART (on camera): And you are walking for miles.

UNKNOWN: Yes, why not?

STEWART (on camera): Well, best of luck with it, sir.

You can see there's so many people here. And actually, we've seen estimates that say it could top 750,000 over the coming days. People have traveled across the U.K. to be here, and even from further afield. I've met some people who flew in from South Africa to be here.

There's a multitude of reasons to be here, primarily, of course, to pay their respects to the queen. It's also a big moment in history, a moment they want to mark and remember, and they can do that by walking through London's landmarks, making new friends, sharing memories of the queen, and the hopes for a new king.

UNKNOWN: I think he understands what it is to be king, that's what he's certainly shown so far.

STEWART (on camera): What about Harry and Meghan? Do you think they will come back to the fold?

UNKNOWN: I think they will come back.

UNKNOWN: I think they will come back with what's happened. I think the family should be reunited.

STEWART (on camera): They should be reunited.

UNKNOWN: They will, keep the fingers crossed.

STEWART (on camera): What about the new Prince of Wales and Princess of Wales?

UNKNOWN: Oh, we love them. UNKNOWN: We love them very much.

UNKNOWN: I wish them all the best.


UNKNOWN: When we hope we will see one day when they sit on the throne.

STEWART (voice-over): As the line reaches Westminster, excitement turns solemn. Inside, a deafening silence. Everyone in their own way marks the moment. Many overcome with emotion as they say their final farewell. That brief moment, worth the hours and the miles.


Anna Stewart, CNN, London.


ANDERSON: Well, even at this early hour of just after 7:00 in the morning on Friday, there are plenty of people willing to wait all day or longer to pay their respects to the late monarch.

CNN's Nada Bashir is down amongst some of this queue snaking around, past Tower Bridge, and even further. We're watching this in London. That is a long way. We're talking about four miles or six kilometers. What are people telling you there, Nada?

NADA BASHIR, CNN REPORTER: Absolutely, Becky, it is a very long queue. I have to say, it's not very warm right now. It's been quite chilly overnight. We've seen the queue fluctuating. We got here about four hours ago. It's a little bit shorter, but it does seem to be picking up now, getting a bit longer.

The wait time at this point is around 11 hours. We actually just spoke to one couple who said that they've been waiting since 9:00 last night. So, this is a very long wait for many people.

From vast majority of the people we've spoken to, this is a way that they are willing to wait up because, of course, this is a historic moment. It's an opportunity for them to pay their respects directly to the queen as they pile past her coffin as she lies in state in the hall of Westminster.

This is a major security operation as well. There are lots of volunteers and stewards around, making sure that everyone is safe, this is an orderly queue, how safe it very much is. But, of course, this isn't even quite quick. You can look behind me at just the sheer scale of this queue, how many people are piling past. They do so have a way to go.

How long have you been in the queue this morning for?

UNKNOWN: Since 11:00 o'clock last night.

UNKNOWN: A very long time.

UNKNOWN: A very long time, yes.

STEWART (on camera): You've been waiting a similar amount of time?

UNKNOWN: Yeah, too long.

STEWART (on camera): Is it worth it?

UNKNOWN: Absolutely, for her majesty.

STEWART (on camera): Look, Becky, this is really the message that we have been hearing from everyone here. It is worth it. It is a historic moment that many people want to be part of. We've seen lots of families coming, spending the night here with their young children, because they want their children to be a part of this historic moment.

And, of course, for some of those who will be with the king later today, they will also have the opportunity to pile pass their new monarch because the king, King Charles III, and the rest of the queen's children, Princess Anne, Prince Andrew, and Prince Edward, will be taking part in that vigil around the queen's coffin later this evening. Becky?


ANDERSON: Nada is in the queue with a lot a very hearty Brits and others who have just taken the opportunity to be part of this historic moment. An estimated 750,000 people are expected to view the queen's coffin as it lies in state until Monday morning.

With me to talk about all of this is British broadcaster Bidisha Mamata. The sheer numbers of people lining up are astounding. I want to bring up some analysis from one of our colleagues, Steven Collinson.

He writes, and I quote him here, "Anyone who doubts the attachment of Brits to their monarchy is being rebuked by thousands of loyal subjects who will shuffle past the queen's coffin or the millions who will line the streets at her state funeral on Monday."

Your reaction to what we're seeing not just in London but across the U.K, of course, in honor of the queen?

BIDISHA MAMATA, BRITISH BROADCASTER: I'm really impressed. I don't think it is just devotion the queen. It's devotion to queuing, to ceremony, to pageantry. I don't think everyone is motivated by grief, and that is completely natural as human nature. We want to be part of a communal experience, not just to watch it on our screens.

And so, people are showing up because even though it's very painful, queuing for 11 hours overnight as if you're doing some sort of charity fundraising fund run, which I have done through the streets in the middle of the night, is really fun in a painful way in itself. You want to be around other people. You want to be around strangers and to be able to say 10 years on, you know what, I did that.

And the end point was arriving at this beautiful, historic building and having a moment of silence, not just shuffling past, standing there in quiet contemplation, shall we say, and watching all of that ceremony, the beautiful costumes and uniforms, and being an integral part of a communal happening.

ANDERSON: And the idea of being part of this moment in history. Anna, in her report, speaking to one man who was in London for the coronation, back in 1953, and he has queued for upwards of 11 hours to get that experience, as we've just been discussing.

We've heard talk of leaving the commonwealth from a number of nations in that fold. What do you expect to see out of King Charles III?

MAMATA: I expect to see more nations that were formerly in the commonwealth holding plebiscites and referendums, taking it back to their own people.


MAMATA: I think that's completely understandable. I absolutely understand the arguments behind it. Even the phrase commonwealth to me, I associate that with the 20th century with Elizabeth II, with the post-colonization, decolonization period.

Clearly, we are in a time, if you look at it from an international relations point of view, of reconsidering and recalibrating. So, I think what is happening now is absolutely natural. It's not done with rancor. It is actually done with a huge amount of diplomatic dignity on the part of those nations themselves. And this is how we move forward in the 21st century. I think it's absolutely fair enough.

I think King Charles will recognize that, as the queen herself must have recognized it. Having to go on these international tours and meeting her global subjects, she was standing there at the plane looking out at these people, they're looking at her, she's looking at them, she is saying, what am I doing here in this? What are you doing here? I don't know what you're doing here. So, this is the way it goes, and I think everyone accepts that.

ANDERSON: There's a difference, of course, between where the now King Charles III will be head of state, we are seeing some movements and conversations about whether that will continue, and then the wider commonwealth, which does bring some benefits, of course, to the U.K. in this post-Brexit world and to countries who are part of that kind of loose group of nations.

We are talking about economic benefits. We are talking about sporting benefits, for example. You need to -- just the commonwealth games here. And there's lots of countries around the world who love to be part of that, just to be sure that they beat the Brits when it comes to the sport.

If this move away from being part of the realm, I think that's what we're talking about here happens, how much political pushback within the U.K. do you expect to see?

MAMATA: There might be some nostalgic chagrin. I don't think there will be official, formal political pushback at all. I think anyone who is entrusted, and the greatest swift of history, while it run, the U.K. just maintaining a sort of nominal small people, political power, will recognize that this is actually evolution and development.

So, there might be a few voices, but I think the general tide of movement is to say, okay, the commonwealth served its purpose, and now we transform into something else. It doesn't mean we're not still friends. It doesn't mean we don't need to stand shoulder to shoulder against bad actors and divisiveness. It just means that we're moving on.

And yes, of course, you're right, the commonwealth was always set up as a sort of friendship group of countries. It didn't have political force or military force. It's not the league of nations. It's not NATO. It's not being part of the U.N.

And so, for those bonds to dissolve a little bit and then retake form, we don't know what's going to happen, it doesn't mean we will divide and we will separate. That fact, of course, in the current world stage, that's exactly what we don't want.

ANDERSON: Just before I let you go, I just want to reflect for a moment on those sorts of things that we're hearing from those who are queuing for upwards of 11 hours. We've heard a lot of people say, things are tough at present, here and around the world. A lot of people and certainly in Europe are looking at quite a difficult winter.

I've heard people say, you know, actually this is a moment in time when people have come together, it's been a bit fractured here at present politically, a new prime minister, conservative party which is sort of dropping off in the polls.

So, to a certain extent, there's this kind of moment where people are just taking a pause and actually come together. And to that end, and this is obviously been part of the planning now for years, the members of the royal family are fanning out across the country and across the nation, across the United Kingdom, Great Britain, and Northern Ireland.

We've got Princess Anne is Scotland today. Prince Charles will be in Wales. At a time when it is -- when people feel like it's important to feel united, how important is it that you see these members of the royal family, you know, taking a moment to actually spend time outside of what is the capital?

MAMATA: I think your analysis is exactly right. The royal family is a family, but it's also a business, highly self-aware, very calculated. I'm sure that there is a little meeting, a work meeting, and they said, these are very, very tough times.

You know what people love in tough times? Even in war? To be talked about that. But also, a grand celebration, even a morning celebration. Why? Because it's a diversion, it's a focal point, it's something which is not those daily trending headlines about food, fuel, heating, eating. Where are we going to be at politically? Is the rest of the world laughing at Britain's post-Brexit? What do they think of us? We are going into literally the dark times.

So, today, for me, there is the beginning of winter, the beginning of autumn, the next thing is Halloween and Christmas, and who knows what all of our bills are going to look like?


MAMATA: They made a concerted decision, I believe, to say we're going to have one of us in every outpost of the nation, we're going to get people out of their houses just to have what? Half a day of ceremony to say we came out and we saw such and such, it was glamorous, it was interesting, it made think about the history. That is very natural and it is also very canny on the part of the royal family. They're not called "the firm" for nothing.

ANDERSON: Thanks for being with us. It is a bit chilly this morning. It doesn't certainly feel like the beginning of autumn, if not winter, which will be on its way sooner than we think. All right, thank you very much indeed.

We'll have more from London in just a few minutes. First, let's get you back to the warmth of the CNN Center in Atlanta and to my colleague, Michael Holmes.

HOLMES: Toasty here, Becky.


HOLMES: It's a (INAUDIBLE) out there where you are. Thanks so much. We'll check in with you in a few moments. When we come back, Ukraine says it has made a horrific discovery following a Russian defeat in the northeast. An alleged mass burial site left behind after Russian forces were forced out. We'll have that story.

Also, an upgraded on two Americans locked up in Russian prisons as their families get new assurances from the Biden administration about efforts to secure their freedom. We'll be right back.


HOLMES: We are getting our first images of an alleged new mass burial site discovered in northeastern Ukraine. Ukraine's defense ministry says it is located in the city of Izyum, which was liberated from Russia last weekend. The ministry says it contained at least 440 unmarked graves.

CNN does not know who was buried there nor how they died, but President Zelenskyy says that Ukraine will provide more information on Friday when the media will be allowed to go to the city. He was quick to point the finger at Russia.

Meanwhile, Ukraine says at least two Russian military units have been forced to disband because of recent losses in the northeast. Ukrainian officials also claim they have liberated more settlements in the south.

And in Washington, the U.S. says it's sending another $600 million worth of weapons and ammunition to Ukraine, but the package does not include longer range tactical missiles Ukraine had been requesting.

Now, while in Vienna, the board of the U.N. nuclear watchdog has voted to request that Russian troops leave the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant. That's according to Polish officials at the International Atomic Energy Agency, which did not publish the result of the vote yet. Ukraine has been demanding a demilitarization of the plant and says the vote proved it right.



VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, PRESIDENT OF UKRAINE (through translator): And an important IAEA resolution was adopted today, a resolution demanding that Russia seize all actions against the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, at the plant itself, and any other nuclear facility in Ukraine.

Although international organizations are often limited in their ability to react, we can see that the IAEA clearly identifies the source of radiation danger, mainly the Russian military presence at the Zaporizhzhia plant.


HOLMES: Ukraine's successful offensive in the northeast has moved with blistering speed. In just one week, it liberated more territory than Russia had captured in the previous five months, and that includes some areas right along the Russian border.

CNN's Nick Paton Walsh went to a town that was under Russian occupation just days ago. A warning, some of the images in his report are graphic.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR (voice-over): The darkness is breaking quite suddenly up here. And the road to Russia's border with Ukraine strewn with what it left behind in its panic, including its own. Two Russian soldiers shot dead in fighting about five days ago yet another sign the Kremlin doesn't care what or who it leaves behind.

This is Vovchansk, the closest town to Russia that Ukraine has taken back and whose vital railways began the supply chain from most of Moscow's war. The Russians, everyone says, just packed up and vanished a few days ago. They have always been so close, so part of life here. Any joy is not universal.

They were not very good, says Andre (ph). They didn't shoot anyone, though. The hardest was to see their checkpoints and their Z signs. I feel

hatred growing in my heart, says Tatyana (ph). They can drink their oil and have their golden diamonds for dessert, but just leave us alone here.

(INAUDIBLE). She says, Ukraine has been at war all the eight years she's known. I think it will be better without them, she says. It was uncomfortable having them here. Her parents nearby say fear meant they slept in their clothes all the six months.

(On camera): It is kind of strange here to see how almost unaffected so much of this town has been and how life seems to have slipped comfortably back into normal when the Russians just picked up and left. It gives you a feeling of how normality must still reign just a matter of six kilometers away across the border in Russia.

(Voice-over): But normal is never coming back, particularly to here, the borderline itself. Russia retreated back over it, but must now live with the hatred it has stirred.

(On camera): The fact that Ukrainian forces are able to push right up to here, the beginning of the border buffer zone with Russia, Russia is just a matter of kilometers in that direction, is another calamity Moscow has imposed upon itself. Its opponent in this war and struggling so deeply to defeat is now so close to Russia's own towns and cities.

(Voice-over): A moment-long coming, says local soldier, Anton (ph).

(On camera): How do you feel walking across the Ukraine-Russia border?

(Voice-over): Some people have waited this for eight years, he says. It is the start of our victory.

Across the once sleepy fields here lies a harvest stalled, wilting. Yet another year will come.

Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, Vovchansk, Ukraine.


HOLMES: Andrii Osadchuk is a member of the Ukrainian Parliament. He is joining me now from Kyiv. Thanks for doing so. I wanted to start with Izyum and this mass grave Ukraine says has been found. There are already, of course, been war crimes elsewhere in the country, Bucha and other places. Do you expect to see more evidence of war crimes as the Russians retreat?

ANDRII OSADCHUK, UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT MEMBER: Good evening. Thank you for having me here. For us, it's absolutely important to liberate our territory as far as possible because hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians during all these months were under occupation.

And unfortunately, what I know as a member of the Parliament and the head of the law enforcement committee, that more reports are coming on Russian (INAUDIBLE) occupied territories as from Izyum City, which you just mentioned, as well as from other small cities which were recently captured by the Ukrainian army.

Unfortunately, Russians, they never follow the rules of war and civilians were always a target there for Russian military. So unfortunately, it is the fact that (INAUDIBLE) and Ukraine is doing all the best, together with our allies, to investigate each day.


HOLMES: I want to ask you, too, what you made of the retreating Russian forces targeting infrastructure like power generation, taking out entire areas from the electricity grid, and also more recently, water pumping station, and a dam in Kryvyi Rih, which has led the residents having to evacuate. I mean, what do you make of that? Is that just revenge?

OSADCHUK: Again, that's a typical way for Russians to conduct warfare. I'm just coming back here to my discussion which I had in June, this summer, with our refugees in Paris. They asked me, shall they come back to Ukraine in autumn and winter? And my answer in June was that it is still will be very, very dangerous mostly from infrastructural point of view. I was predicting that they will attack (INAUDIBLE) keeping power supply stations, and unfortunately, we see that now.

For the last week after another success of the Russian military in east, there were blackouts in Kharkiv, which is the second largest city in Ukraine. And your right, it was an attack on the water pumping station in Kryvyi Rih, which is definitely a revenge of Russians. This is the way they conduct warfare. As soon as they have problems with the military, they attack civilians and civilian infrastructures.

HOLMES: Yeah, and before I move on to next question, we've actually just received first pictures of these mass graves that have just come into us. Just a couple of images and you can see them there on your screen. The Ukrainians say more than 400 bodies. So, we'll know more in the next 24 hours or so.

I want to go back to Russia. There has been increased public opposition within Russia to the war. Fairly small, but it does exist and it is public. There was one pro-Kremlin blogger on Telegram who said -- quote -- "Lord, save the Russian soldiers from blows from the front and even more blows from the back." Is there or could there be soon any realistic threat to Putin if the current path of the war continues and these public pronouncements continue?

OSADCHUK: So, first of all, from the very beginning of this war, it was understood that Russia is trying to recruit soldiers from the distant regions of Russia, not to create any emotions in Moscow or some (INAUDIBLE) groups.

And we see that by the vast majority of losses of Russian military. For the moment, more than 50,000 Russians were killed in Ukraine. But most of these people are from very rural areas of Russia and it's not really visible in the big cities, especially Moscow. But on another hand, you should realize that the Russian leadership is a typical mafia model. In each criminal model, the leader is making a big mistake. It's a big risk for him. We believe that all the circle of Putin, they really understand that things are going very bad for Russia and for all of them.

And I will not exclude that everything may end up better than expected because now they're fighting not just for success in Ukraine, they're fighting for their lives, literally for their lives. So, that's why, again, I will not exclude that this war may end up very unexpectedly with this kind of troops, they're crumbling, and you remember that we saw that during last (INAUDIBLE) several times in Moscow before.

HOLMES: Yes. And Russian soldiers, it must be said, are fighting for a salary, they're not fighting for their country, so the motivation and morale is different. I read that 91% of Ukrainian support Zelenskyy, 98% are confident in victory. So, very unified Ukraine.

Andrii, I will leave it there. Andrii Osadchuk, thank you so much.

OSADCHUK: Thank you.

HOLMES: Now, in the coming hours, U.S. President Joe Biden will meet with family members of two Americans imprisoned in Russia. Former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan has been jailed for more than three years on espionage charges. The women's basketball star, Brittney Griner, was detained in February on drug charges.

Biden is meeting with the family separately. It will be their first time talking face-to-face. An administration official says there has been -- quote -- "movement but not a breakthrough in efforts to exchange the Americans for a convicted Russian arms dealer."


HOLMES: Over the years, King Charles has nurtured relationships with many leaders in the Middle East. When we come back, Becky Anderson looks at the king's affinity for the people and the region. We'll be right back.


BECKY ANDERSON, CNN ANCHOR: Well, it's just after half past seven in the morning in London, I'm Becky Anderson. Thousands upon thousands of people are currently waiting outside of Westminster Hall in London sneaking along the river in a queue for a chance to view the Queen's coffin before her funeral. And these are live pictures. This is the scene right now where the late monarch is lying in state until Monday morning. Well, later Friday, the king and his younger brothers and sister will hold a silent vigil by their mother's coffin. Up to 2000 foreign dignitaries are expected to attend the Queen's funeral and will be hosted by King Charles at a reception on Sunday.

Well, a live tracker of the queue to get inside Westminster Hall shows it is currently about 4.4 miles long, that's over six kilometers long, with an estimated wait of at least 11 hours. Those at the back of the queue are likely to get into Westminster Hall just as those members of the royal family arrived to hold that vigil. Well, leaders from all over the world will attend the Queen's state funeral on Monday and amongst them, officials from across the Middle East and Gulf, a region that holds special meaning for King Charles III.


ANDERSON (voiceover): The new king and his queen consort, dipping their fingers at what is believed to be the baptismal site of Jesus Christ. Then heir to the throne, Charles's visit to Jordan and Egypt in 2021 was significant being the first overseas tour by a senior member of the royal family since before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The King's affection for Jordan, like his mother's, is well established. Here, a 2015 meeting with Jordan's King, Abdullah II, a relationship that dates back more than 20 years.

NASSER JUDDEH, FORMER DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER OF JORDAN: I have no doubt in my mind that this friendship between our two royal families, between our peoples, will continue to flourish, prosper and get stronger by the day under His Majesty, King Charles III, whom we've had the pleasure of welcoming in Jordan on numerous occasions. He knows Jordan and he knows many friends in Jordan.


ANDERSON: Over the years, he has undertaken hundreds of documented meetings with leaders from the region. The Crown Prince of Bahrain, Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa. Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The Emir of Qatar, Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani. Oman's Sultan, Haitham bin Tarek. Egypt's President, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. And the list goes on.

DAVID ROBERTS, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, KING'S COLLEGE LONDON: There are an awful lot of very senior relationships that have you know a bit of history to them, which I'm sure will help as it was -- as it works going forward when it comes to re-establishing those relationships. Now that he is King, I don't particularly see, you know, all that much changing in the sense that the Middle East will continue. I'm sure to be a key part of his portfolio.

ANDERSON: His visit to that holy site in Jordan, however, an example of the king's affinity with the Middle East, going much deeper than mere diplomacy. He's long had a keen interest in Islamic art and culture, having studied history, archaeology, and anthropology at the University of Cambridge. More recently, he spent time learning Arabic so that he could better understand the Quran. And He's toured numerous ancient religious sites.

KING CHARLES III, KING OF THE UNITED KINGDOM: How else can we heal the divide between East and West?

ANDERSON: Although a Christian, the new monarch has made reaching out to the Muslim community, a cornerstone of his public service. He also serves as a patron of the Oxford Centre For Islamic Studies.

FARHAN NIZAMI, DIRECTOR, OXFORD CENTRE FOR ISLAMIC STUDIES: For King Charles, this search for his spirituality within the Christian tradition, and then to look out for commonalities with other faith has been very important. In his first major lecture at the -- at the Centre in 1993, he spoke about the indebtedness that the West has to Muslim civilization. Now, that might be a fact well-known to historians. But for him to stand up and say this, I think, reminded people that we are talking of a universal civilization to which all people have contributed and from which all people can benefit.

ANDERSON: Indeed, the king sees himself not as just a defender of the faith, but also as a protector of all faiths, a bridge traversing the Western and Arab worlds. So while the queen's passing signals the closing of a chapter, Charles's track record in the region suggests a new one is just beginning.


ANDERSON: Well, the Emir of Qatar was the last world meter -- world leader to meet with Queen Elizabeth before she passed away. And in about two hours from now, Qatar's ambassador to the UK will join me here in London so do stay with us for that conversation. We'll have a lot more from London coming up in the hours ahead. Firstly, let's get you back to Michael Holmes at CNN Center in Atlanta. Michael.

HOLMES: Fascinating piece. Thank you, Becky. I appreciate that.

Now, the U.S. President, Joe Biden, is slamming the governors of Texas and Florida for sending migrants to cities run by Democrats. In the last two days, groups arrived at Vice President Kamala Harris's official residence in Washington, DC, and at Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts. CNN's Miguel Marquez with that and the scramble to find food and shelter for the migrants.


MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): Ubaldo Arcaya was in San Antonio, Texas yesterday along with 50 other Venezuelan migrants. Today, he's in Martha's Vineyard. When you got off the plane, I asked him, what did you think of this place? Beautiful, gorgeous, he says. The people are very friendly. He says in Texas, he was promised help if he got on the plane, no idea where he was going through hoops.

UBALDO ARCAYA, VENEZUELAN MIGRANT: Speaking in a foreign language.

MARQUEZ: There were three options, he says, Washington, Utah here in Massachusetts, whatever was available. The plane left and brought us here. It's a tactic we've seen in Texas, Arizona, and now Florida, Republican governors shipping migrants to so-called sanctuary cities and states with little to no notice.

DYLAN FERNANDES, DEMOCRATIC STATE REPRESENTATIVE, MASSACHUSETTS: There is no low these people will go. They will keep going lower and lower. And they're willing to use humans, children, women, families, as political pawns for their own game. It is depraved. It is evil. It is wrong. But what makes America great as what we see here today, which is an island community and a state in Massachusetts is coming together to support the people here.

MARQUEZ: Arcaya, a 27-year-old mechanic from Venezuela says he's been welcomed with food and new clothes here on the island.

ARCAYA: Speaking in a foreign language.

MARQUEZ: He tells us he made a difficult month and a half-long journey for liberty, democracy, and the promise of America.

ARCAYA: Speaking in a foreign language.


MARQUEZ: When you step on American soil, you feel at ease that you're here and well protected. You lose the stress of the journey we had to go through in seven countries, very stressful across all of Central America. This parish house, bustling with activity, volunteers, and organizers working since yesterday to provide food, shelter, and immigration services.

LARKIN STALLINGS, MARTHA'S VINEYARD COMMUNITY SERVICES: We've got the bodies to do this. The biggest problem was the short notice and that -- and that was obviously intentional.

MARQUEZ: Just 20 minutes' notice, as the airport manager, a deliberate move by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who is taking credit for the surprise trip.

GOV. RON DESANTIS, (R-FL): Our message is, you know, we're not a sanctuary state. We don't have benefits or any of that. There are some sanctuary jurisdictions, and that would be better.

MARQUEZ: With that message, not sitting well with officials here in Martha's Vineyard.

FERNANDES: We're going to come together and support whoever shows up here. And we're going to make sure that people have the food, water, and shelter that they need. You know, Ron DeSantis and Republicans might want to play political games with people's lives. I believe that's incredibly inhumane to be using women and children and families as a political pawns.


MARQUEZ: And I want to give you a sense of what's happening here. More than 24 hours after these immigrants were brought to Martha's Vineyard. This is St. Andrew's parish house. This is the only homeless shelter on Martha's Vineyard. It usually holds 10 people. They've had to increase it on a sort of an emergent basis to hold up to 50.

Lawyers who've been meeting with the migrants are starting to get a sense of where they are from, what their legal situation is. They say that all of them that they spoke to were told untruths and lies about getting on that plane and where they were going to go and what sort of resources would be here. So they're trying to sort through all of that. But they also say that in the -- in the days ahead, in a few days, maybe, most, if not all of the 50 immigrants who arrived here will move on to other cities across the country. Back to you.

HOLMES: Thanks to Miguel Marquez. Still ahead of this hour, they haven't met in person since Russia invaded Ukraine. And despite months of tacit support, now China's President won't even mention the war. We'll have a live report when we come back.


HOLMES: Ever since Russia invaded Ukraine in late February, China has either stood by quietly or lashed out at the U.S. and NATO. Well, now the Chinese and Russian leaders have met face to face for the first time in seven months, and only one of them mentioned Ukraine.


VLADIMIR PUTIN. RUSSIAN PRESIDENT: Speaking in a foreign language.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We highly appreciate the balanced position of our Chinese friends in connection with the Ukrainian crisis. We understand your questions and concerns in this regard. During today's meeting, of course, we will explain in detail our position on this issue, although we have spoken about this before.



HOLMES: Mr. Putin went on to say Russia's relationship with China is as solid as mountains. The Chinese leader, well, as we said, he didn't even mention Ukraine. Instead, he thanked Russia for respecting its One-China policy and played up economic ties, trade, and cooperation on core issues.


XI JINPING, CHINESE PRESIDENT: Speaking in a foreign language.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the face of changes of the world of our times and of history, China will work with Russia to fulfill their responsibilities as major countries and play a leading role in injecting stability and positive energy into a world of change and disorder.


HOLMES: Let's bring in CNN's Beijing bureau chief, Steven Jiang, live for us this hour in the Chinese capital. And, Steven, I guess, you know better than I. President Xi doesn't -- you know, he doesn't do things by accident. Him not mentioning Ukraine, that would have been calculated I imagine.

STEVEN JIANG, CNN BUREAU CHIEF: That's right, Michael. It's also worth noting, he didn't mention Ukraine but Putin definitely mentioned Taiwan, which, of course, is China's perhaps most important so-called core interest and a source of growing tensions between China and the West, especially the U.S. after that controversial visit by the U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. So Putin not only pledged Russia's continued support for China's claim and position, even went out of his way to condemn the U.S. and its allies for their provocative actions against China in this regard. So it does seem there are some limits, and the so-called low -- no limits partnership when it comes to the war in Ukraine. And there is this imbalance in this relationship with China increasingly clearly being the greater power of the two.

But of course, you just heard Xi Jinping mentioning they need to show the world the responsibilities of major powers in terms of injecting stability in a world of chaos. And that is seen by many as a subtle or not-so-subtle sign that Xi Jinping is really offering this approach of Russia's war because obviously, invading your neighbor is not doing that. But the two men are still obviously bonded by their shared grievances against the West and trying to shape a new world order.

But you see Xi Jinping is really trying to strike a balance here, trying to straddle if you will. On one hand, broadly speaking, he is still offering Putin support trying to strengthen bilateral ties. But on the other hand, China's not overtly violating any Western sanctions to make himself a target because obviously, China has a much bigger trading relationship with the West than with Russia. And also China needs continued access to Western money and markets.

And also it's worth noting. From the Chinese perspective, this trip by Xi Jinping is not all about China-Russian relations. They are really trying to focus on China's growing cloud and interests in the Central Asian regions as well, and many countries in the region, of course, very suspicious of Putin's intentions there. That's why you see this propaganda blitz in the Chinese state media, really highlighting Xi Jinping's interactions with other leaders and meetings with other leaders trying to show that China is a multi-dimensional power that has other interests and relationships to take care of as well, Michael.

HOLMES: All right. Steven, thanks for the update. Steven Jiang there, live in Beijing for us.

A new ceasefire between Armenia and Azerbaijan appears to be holding at least 170 people, who have been killed in two days of fighting. A previous agreement brokered Wednesday by Russia was broken almost immediately. The country is once part of the Soviet Union, have been fighting for decades over Nagorno-Karabakh, the mountainous region is inside Azerbaijan's borders but controlled by ethnic Armenians, the UN and the U.S. both appealing for both sides to maintain peace.


MIROSLAV JENCA, UNITED NATIONS ASSISTANT SECRETARY-GENERAL: They urge the parties to take advantage of this important mechanism as an essential step towards alleviating tensions at the border. This week's events are also a stark reminder that tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan also have the potential to destabilize the region. They highlight the need for all actors in the region and beyond to act constructively and to press the sides to work for a peaceful settlement.


HOLMES: And joining me now from London, Laurence Broers. He is an Associate Fellow in the Russia & Eurasia Programme at Chatham House. He's also the author of Armenia and Azerbaijan: Anatomy of a Rivalry. It's good to see you and thanks for joining us and bringing your expertise. This has been a long-term dispute, why this flare up and why now, briefly?

LAURENCE BROERS, ASSOCIATE FELLOW, RUSSIA & EURASIA PROGRAMME, CHATHAM HOUSE: Well, good morning. Yes, the conflict goes back to the late 1980s. But the latest big outbreak was in 2020, a six-week war in which more than 7000 people were killed. Now that war resolved many of the issues but Azerbaijan still wants to drive for a full peace treaty, and I think what we're seeing now is the use of military pressure driving Armenia to agree to a peace treaty on Azerbaijan's terms.


HOLMES: I think a lot of people it might seem to be, you know, localized regional dispute, but what are the wider implications if it escalates in a regional sense?

BROERS: Well, I think this particular ceasefire is holding. I think we will see more escalations in the future. The regional implications are that you've got these three regional powers, Russia, Turkey, and Iran, who neighbor the region and all have different kinds of interests implicated in the relationship between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Further afield, you've got the European Union and the United States who are also playing roles in the mediation process. I don't think we're going to see a larger regional war now, but there is always this risk that they can be dragged in.

HOLMES: And to that point, you know, how does or how might the Ukraine war and Vladimir Putin play into a tension -- into the tensions? He's a bit distracted at the moment. As you point out, Armenia has been a Russian ally and has specifically called for Russia's help, and the Turkish leader, the one who has warned Armenia it will face "consequences for its aggressive attitude."

BROERS: Well, Russia is the traditional regional hegemon in the South Caucasus. It is a Russian peacekeeping mission that is currently deployed in Nagorno-Karabakh itself. And Russia is formally an ally of Armenia. With the Ukraine war, I think we're seeing a really dramatic decline in Russia's standing as a security patron and in the standing and perception of Russian security guarantees. So I think this is opening up an opportunity for local actors to take matters into their own hands. I think we're seeing that with Azerbaijan, and we're also seeing it in Central Asia, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan have been shooting at each other in recent days, so yes, a very significant degree of distraction resulting in a kind of security vacuum in the former Soviet Union.

HOLMES: Yes. And it's interesting is that not that the European Union is growing more dependent on Azerbaijan for energy as it seeks alternatives to Russian gas, how might this uptake play into Europe's energy crisis potentially?

BROERS: Well, that's right, Michael. The European Union has been looking for alternatives to plug its gas deficit in the wake of the war in Ukraine. Now, Azerbaijan is a significant gas supplier. And the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen was actually in the Azerbaijani capital, Baku, in July of this year, signed an agreement on the doubling of Azerbaijan's gas supplies to the European Union.

Now, that is significant, but it is, relatively speaking, a very small share, about 13 percent of the gas deficit that the EU needs to fill. So Azerbaijan is not that big a player in the energy stakes. I think the European Union is actually more bound in and more interested in Azerbaijan also because it is fielding its own mediation initiative. They've been four meetings in Brussels over recent months. And the EU is obviously in a very difficult position now trying to hold its mediation efforts together in the wake of this violence.

HOLMES: Yes. Tensions worth keeping an eye on and I know you do, so we appreciate that. Laurence Broers, thank you so much there in London for us.

BROERS: Thank you. Thank you, Michael.

HOLMES: Haitian protesters angry over the doubling of fuel prices attacked a UN food warehouse and a state-run television station on Thursday. The demonstrations have prompted Haiti's National Police to suspend all arm permits. The government announced this week it would end subsidies on fuel, doubling the cost to consumers. Across the country, thousands of Haitians have been taking part in sometimes violent anti-government demonstrations over rapidly rising prices.

Just one more tournament to go before tennis great Roger Federer says over and out. Up next, he says he's retiring. We'll take a look back at the 20-time Grand Slam champ's career.



HOLMES: Tropical Storm Warnings are now up for some of the Leeward Islands, and a watch has been issued for the Virgin Islands in Puerto Rico as Tropical Storm Fiona gained strength in the Atlantic. The storm has sustained winds of 60 miles an hour, that's 95 kilometers an hour. Flash flooding and mudslides are possible and some areas are expected to receive perhaps as much as 10 inches of rain.

Well, it's a game set and match for the career of another tennis great. Roger Federer says he plans to retire after the Laver Cup next week. The 20-time Grand Slam winner making the announcement on Thursday via an Instagram post to his fans.


ROGER FEDERER, 20-TIME GRAND SLAM CHAMP: As many of you know, the past three years have presented me with challenges in the form of injuries and surgeries. I've worked hard to return to full competitive form. But I also know my body's capacities and limits and its message to me lately has been clear. I am 41 years old. I've played more than 1500 matches over 24 years. Tennis has treated me more generously than I ever would have dreamt and now must recognize when it is time to end my competitive career.


HOLMES: Federer's accomplishments include 103 ATP titles, the second- most in the Open Era after Jimmy Connors, and a gold medal at the 2008 Olympics in men's doubles. He was one of the great years.

Thanks for spending part of your day with me. I'm Michael Holmes. You can follow me on Twitter and Instagram at @holmescnn. Stick around. My colleague Kim Brunhuber and Becky Anderson, live from London, take over after the break.