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Polish Official: Missile Probe Should Conclude Withing Days; Ukraine Reels From Wave of Strikes On Its Power System; Brittney Griner Moved to Penal Colony in Mordovia; U.N. Chief: Climate Clock is Ticking and Trust Keeps Eroding; New CEO Calls Crypto Giant A Complete Failure. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired November 18, 2022 - 04:30   ET



MAX FOSTER, CNN ANCHOR: Well, that's the interesting thing, isn't it, often controversy before these World Cups and it stops once the football starts but it may be different on this occasion. We'll see. Amanda, thank you very much.

Now Poland is moving ahead with its investigation into a deadly missile that flew over from Ukraine. Now officials are telling CNN when we could hear the results of that. That story just ahead.

Plus, Russia pummels Ukraine with new missile strikes. It leaves millions of people in the dark just as cold weather sets in.


FOSTER: Welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Max Foster. If you are just joining us, do let me bring you up to date with the latest stories.

Millions of people in the U.S. are bracing for severe winter storms. Five states around the Great Lakes are under snow alerts. Almost the entire country is looking at freezing temperatures.

Plus, and era of the U.S. Capitol has come to an end with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced she's stepping down as leader of the Democratic caucus after serving 20 years in that role. CNN will have more on both of these stories in the coming hour.

Poland says its investigators are moving quickly to get to the bottom of a missile blast that left two people dead. A government spokesperson tells CNN the investigation is expected to be done within days. Polish and NATO officials believe it was a stray Ukrainian missile that flew over the border and hit a Polish village on Tuesday.

Ukrainian President Zelenskyy now says that the facts of the incident should be established first.


In Ukraine officials are scrambling to contain the damage from the latest wave of Russian strikes on their energy infrastructure, but some missiles also hit Ukrainian cities which was caught on video. That's a missile strike that hit the city of Dnipro Thursday morning. Which out Ukraine says at least 23 people were wounded there. Well, the capital of Kyiv is receiving only about half of its usual power supply after Russia rained missiles on electricity infrastructure across Ukraine. Temperatures are now dropping below freezing in parts of the country. And President Zelenskyy says millions of Ukrainians have to ride that out without power.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): The consequences of another missile attack against Ukraine continues all day. Again, there have been emergency power outages in addition to planned ones. As of now more than 10 million Ukrainians are without electricity.


FOSTER: Well, our reporters are standing by to cover all of the latest developments related to Ukraine. Fred Pleitgen is in Moscow. But first were going to go to Melissa. She's in Paris with an update on the investigation in Poland. Still, nothing inclusive. When do you expect to hear?

MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They say within days. Speaking to CNN yesterday, the Foreign Ministry said that it would take several more days. But they were moving as quickly as they could, Max. Also confirming, of course, that Ukrainian investigators will get access to the site. This is something President Zelenskyy had been asking for ever since we begin to hear Polish, American, NATO officials expressed their opinion based on those preliminary findings, that this was the result of Ukrainian air defense systems rather than a direct attack from Russia.

Again, repeated by a spokesman for the Polish government yesterday. That is what the preliminary evidence is suggesting to them. What they've concerned is that Ukrainian investigators, however, will be able to observe those investigations even if they remain in the hands of Polish and American investigators, Max. They will get access and be able to observe.

And of course, this is something President Zelenskyy has been asking for. And again, repeating over the course of the last 24 hours. His call once again that you allies step up to the plate to try and ensure the protection of Ukrainian skies. Really using what we've seen over the course, again, of the last 24 hours.

Not just continued exchanges of rocket and artillery fire along the front lines, but of course those devastating cruise missile strikes that have been doing such damage, Max, to the infrastructure. 10 million Ukrainians now without electricity. And of course, even as Ukrainians try and deliver some of those services, get them back up and running, there are not just those that are the result of the extra strikes that we've seen yesterday evening. But of course, there had been the planned outages as well. So, there are efforts underway to try to get power back to Ukrainians.

But again, a reminder that those temperatures are dropping fast, freezing or below in many parts. So, course, crucial that they can get that up and running quickly -- Max.

OK, Melissa in Paris. Thank you. Let's go to Fred then in Moscow. And, Fred, the Russians are indicating they'll keep hitting Ukraine's infrastructure.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's absolutely the case. In fact, the Kremlin spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, he was asked on a conference call with journalists, look, the temperatures are going down to around minus 10 -- that Melissa was just talking about their in Ukraine -- does that change the calculus of those strikes on critical infrastructure. And the Kremlin spokesman clearly said that it does not, he said -- and this is a quote -- that the special military operation continue that its continuation does not depend, as he put it, on the weather and climate conditions on the ground.

The Russians clearly are saying that those strikes will continue and somehow also trying to blame the Ukrainians for that. He said that the Ukrainians need to enter into negotiations and so far, the Russians don't see that happening at all.

There does seems to be the sort of expectation or the belief looking at Kremlin -controlled media. A lot of experts that were seeing here on Russian TV as well, Max, that the more the Russians hit Ukraine's critical infrastructure, the gas infrastructure, the electricity infrastructure, the more obviously people on the ground suffer. But at some point, the Ukrainians might cave and succumb to Moscow's demand.

Now of course we know on the ground that the opposite seems to be the case. In fact, people seem to be hardened. But when you look at some of the media here in Russia there does seem to be the believe it is having a certain effect on the population. It's also quite interesting, because the Russian military, they came out yesterday and called all of these high precision strikes. They also said that aside from critical infrastructure they also hit some military infrastructure there in Ukraine.


Of course, we know from the Ukrainian official sources on the ground that they say that a lot of civilians, once again, were killed and wounded in those strikes that took place.

So, right now, from the Russian perspective it certainly seems as though the campaign that they've been conducting and really accelerating this week specifically, it does look as though that is something that will continue and that the Russians will continue. Especially as for Russia things very difficult militarily on the ground as they've just moved out of that Kherson area. But also, course, not making very much headway in the east of the country or in the northeast of the country as well -- Max.

FOSTER: Ok, Fred in Moscow, also Melissa in Paris, thank you both.

Now a Dutch court on Thursday convicted three men for their roles in the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight 17 eight years ago. Two former Russian operatives and a Ukrainian separatist were sentenced to life in prison. But the convictions were handed down in abstentia and none are likely to serve time. A fourth was acquitted. The plane was shot down over Eastern Ukraine by a Russian missile launched and territory held by pro-Russian rebels. All 298 million people on board were killed. Ukraine's president called the court ruling an important for accountability. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken also welcomed the verdict.

Coming up, likely not a -- what may seem to get her a lot tougher, as basketball star Brittney Griner now heading for a Russian penal colony. But her agent is telling CNN straight ahead.

And representatives from nearly 200 nations have been brainstorming solutions to the climate crisis. Coming up we'll find out if the COP27 conference in Egypt actually accomplish anything though.


FOSTER: Iran's harsh crackdown on antigovernment demonstrations has led to five alleged protesters being sentenced to death in recent days. At least a thousand people have been arrested but the death toll keeps climbing. Now well over 300. That includes seven people reportedly shot to death in the southern city of Izeh. But it's not really known who did the shooting there.


One of those victims was a 9-year-old boy who apparently was killed whilst walking home with his father.

American basketball star Brittney Griner is said to be doing as well as she could be expected to after she was moved to a Russian penal colony. Her attorneys say they saw her there as she serves her 9-year prison sentence. She was convicted in August of smuggling drugs into Russia and her appeal was rejected last month. CNN's Kylie Atwood has more.


KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Brittney Griner's lawyer said that she has been moved to a penal colony hundreds of miles southeast of Moscow, in Mordovia, and they said that she is trying to stay strong. She's trying to adjust to the environment. Not saying anything specific about the environment that she is in, although they were able to visit her earlier this week.

But what we do know about penal colonies in Russia is that they have very harsh treatment for their prisoners. They all vary, but in some instances, there can be harsh labor. There can be torture, according to the State Department, a report on human rights, torture sometimes to the point of death. And we know that there are people who work at those colonies, who try to get certain prisoners to bully other prisoners. It's not a great environment.

So that is extremely concerning for Brittney Griner's family and all of her loved ones in the United States.

Now, the State Department has said that they have not received official confirmation from Russian authorities that Brittney Griner has been moved. They strongly protest the fact that Russia hasn't given them an update.

And this all comes after President Biden just last week said that he was hopeful that, after the midterm elections here in the United States, that there could be some forward progress on trying to get Brittney Griner home, that Russia may engage more seriously in discussions about a prisoner swap for Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan, who's another American wrongfully detained in Russia. But so far, we haven't heard any updates on that front.

Kylie Atwood, CNN, the State Department.


Well, leaders are preparing to wrap up the annual climate conference in Egypt but there still no agreement on how to help poor countries that are most affected. A live report after the break.



FOSTER: The annual climate conference now taking place in Sharm el- Sheikh, Egypt will wrap up in the coming hours. The question now is whether it'll get the world any closer to the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Leaders have been grappling with a host of complex issues as they look for ways to curb carbon emissions and to help poor countries who are most negatively impacted. The U.N. Secretary-General is urging negotiators to work out their differences quickly. Saying the climate clock is ticking. CNN's David McKenzie is covering the climate meeting for us from Johannesburg. There's such a wide variety of topics still on the table, still needed to be agreed. What's the core roadblock here to reach an agreement -- David?

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Max, the world leaders have left and the inspirational speeches are over. But now it's really the business end, one has to say, of this climate conference. And the stakes are incredibly high. Because at this point as we've been reporting, the globe is nowhere even close to cutting emissions to get to the proposed 1.5 degrees warming that was agreed at the Paris agreement in 2015.

Here are I think are some of the three of the things that we really need to look out for in the statement, Max. One would be, does the world still commit to meeting that 1.5 degrees warming. Because at this stage we're nowhere even close, as I said.

Is there going to be specific details on the loss and damage fund. That is where rich nations will pledge to give developing nations money to deal with the impact of climate change that they didn't cause.

And finally, I think one issue -- and it's surprising in a way that this isn't already in these statements -- is will there be a full confirmation that the world needs to transition away from fossil fuels towards renewables. Surprising that's not in there yet.

As you said, the U.N. Secretary-General who flew back into Sharm el- Sheikh in Egypt. He said it's crunch time and said that rich and developing nations need to work together.


ANTONIO GUTERRES, U.N. SECRETARY-GENERAL: There has been clearly in the past times a breakdown in trust between north and south and between developed and emerging economies, but this is no time for finger pointing. The blame game is a recipe for mutually assured destruction. I'm here to appeal to all parties to rise to this moment and to the greatest challenge that humanity is facing.


MCKENZIE: And so, the climate conference will officially end in the coming hours, Max, but we do expect those negotiations to happen and to continue well into Friday and possibly late into Saturday. Whether there can be concrete actions in those statements, well, that remains to be seen. That is what is needed not just on paper but in practice to avoid catastrophe -- Max.

FOSTER: David McKenzie in Johannesburg, back with you once we get any sort of results out of that today.

Wall Street is looking to rebound where trading begins in just a few hours. Thursday's session took a turn for the worst after the Federal Reserve bank president said that inflation was far too high and interest rates could rise. The Dow lost seven points on the day finishing basically flat. The Nasdaq and the S&P 500 both lost about 1/3 of 1 percent.

A restructuring specialist has taken over the cryptocurrency giant FTX and he's got a scathing assessment of the failed company.


John Ray III says FTX was colossally mismanaged and potentially fraudulent even.

He goes on to say: Never in my career have I seen such a complete failure of corporate controls and such a complete absence of trustworthy financial information as occurred here.

The company has filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection with billions of dollars in investors assets simply wiped out.

Now about 2,000 Starbucks workers staged a one-day strike in in cities across the U.S. to protest against what they call a retaliation against union supporters. 264 stores have voted in favor of unions. But the coffee giant has yet to negotiate any contracts. The company has denied retaliating against any employees and blames the union for lack of progress at the negotiating table. The strike comes on Red Cup Day when Starbucks gives out reusable holiday cops for discount and future purchases.

And before we go, attention Swifties. Ticketmaster has canceled the public sale of tickets for Taylor Swift's upcoming tour. The company says the demand has been overwhelming and there just aren't enough tickets remaining. The website has been heavily criticized over the sale including from U.S. lawmakers. Ticketmaster says it sold more than 2 million tickets on Tuesday, the most ever for an artist in a single day. Their website crashed several times. Some fans reported waiting up to 8 hours only to find they were too late. Swift's tour is set to begin on March 17th in Glendale, Arizona.

Well done if you've got one.

Thanks for joining me here on CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Max Foster in London. "EARLY START" with Christine Romans is next right here on CNN.