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Ukrainian First Lady: War Will Spread If Russia Wins; Analyst: Germany Concerned About Its Tanks Used In Europe; Turkey: No Rush To Approve Sweden And Finland NATO Bids; White House Says It Will Cooperate Fully With Justice Dept.; Ukraine: Helicopter Crashes Near Kindergarten In Kyiv Region; Toddler Waving Around Handgun. Aired 2- 2:45a ET

Aired January 18, 2023 - 02:00   ET




ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR (on camera): Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church.

Just ahead here on CNN NEWSROOM --

CHURCH (voice over): Ukraine front and center of the World Economic Forum in Davos as world leaders call for more aid and training.

Plus, an update from Dnipro, as the death toll rises after a missile strike on an apartment building.

In the Philippines, a Nobel Laureate has been acquitted of charges of tax evasion. Journalist Maria Ressa, speaking with CNN about the charges she calls politically motivated.

And President Biden ignoring reporter's questions about his handling of classified documents.

Now, federal investigators are interviewing his attorney. We have the latest from Washington.

ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN Center, this is CNN NEWSROOM with Rosemarie Church.

CHURCH (on camera): Thanks for joining us.

We'll a new day is bringing new pledges of support for Ukraine, as its military nears 11 months of fighting in the war with Russia.

CHURCH (voice over): U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken says new announcements could be coming this week as allies meet in Germany to discuss Ukraine's needs.

Blinken made the comments during a meeting with his British counterpart James Cleverly in Washington. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANTONY BLINKEN, UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF STATE: As this aggression has evolved, so too, has our assistance to Ukraine, making sure that it has what it needs to meet the aggression head on.

And I would anticipate that you'll hear more announcements in the days to come.


CHURCH: Meantime, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte was in Washington to meet with President Joe Biden, and says his country plans to join the U.S. and Germany in sending Patriot missile defense systems to Ukraine.

And later on CNN, he promised support for Ukraine would continue indefinitely.


MARK RUTTE, PRIME MINISTER OF NETHERLANDS: We totally agreed that we can only stop when the worst stops and with a successful outcome for Ukraine. So, the end has to be successful Ukraine, Russia losing it, and losing the war.


CHURCH (on camera): And we could get some clarity on Germany's military commitment to Ukraine when Chancellor Olaf Scholz addresses the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland in the coming hours.

He is under growing pressure to send Leopard tanks to Ukraine.

And for more on that, we want to bring in CNN's Clare Sebastian, who joins us live from London.

Good morning to you, Clare.

So, as that pressure builds, how far might German Chancellor Scholz go in supporting Ukraine militarily? When he addresses the World Economic Forum, what are the expectations on the Leopard 2 battle tanks, particularly?

CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Yes, Rosemary. I think if Chancellor Scholz was under pressure before, he certainly is now following an impassioned, essentially pitch for more weapons that came from Ukraine's First Lady Olena Zelenska at Davos on Tuesday.

She essentially accused the collective, you know, powerful gathered at Davos, of not using their influence enough to counter the threat from Russia. Take a listen to what she had to say.


OLENA ZELENSKA, FIRST LADY OF UKRAINE (through translator): We are facing the threat of a collapse of the world as we know it, the way that we are accustomed to it, or to what we aspire.

What can be life in a world where tanks are allowed to strike at nuclear power stations? What will happen to inflation when state borders start to collapse and the integrity of countries will be trampled on by those who want it?


SEBASTIAN: So Chancellor Scholz has to get up and answer that. And it's not just about Germany committing its own Leopard 2 tanks, and the manufacturer of those tanks has told CNN it could take up to a year to get them combat ready.

13 of the European countries own the Leopard 2 tanks, they are an incredibly well used piece of weaponry. Some have indicated, including Poland, they might be willing to commit their own tanks, but they need Germany's permission.

So, the spotlight really is on Germany, all building up to that meeting in Ramstein on Friday, hosted by Germany with its new defense minister. That could potentially yield some results.

Scholz has said in the past that he wants to do this in coordination with the entire Western alliance, including the United States.

I think, Blinken's comments on Tuesday show that there is momentum towards that.

CHURCH: So, Clare, as this debate continues over how much military aid is required, what's at stake for Ukraine?


SEBASTIAN: You know, I think, coming after that attack in Dnipro, one of the deadliest for civilians in months, and in fact, in the entire war, this has strengthened the resolve of the West.

We also see a lot of military posturing in Russia. Defense Minister Shoigu, inspecting the troops on Tuesday, trying to fulfil a pledge by President Putin to increase the size of the military by a third.

We see the constant nuclear rhetoric that continue -- Russian occupation of Europe's biggest nuclear plant, which the Ukrainian first lady brought up in her speech at Davos.

But I think this has also taken the debate over weaponry to a new level. The question of whether it's enough for the Western alliance to assess such the situation on the battlefield and wait for the attacks from Russia to get worse before providing new weaponry.

This is something that the Lithuanian foreign minister questioned on our air earlier this week.

CHURCH (voice over): All right. Clare Sebastian, many thanks. Joining us live from London. CHURCH (on camera): For more, I'm joined by David Sanger, CNN political and national security analyst, and White House, and national security correspondent for The New York Times.

Always a pleasure to have you with us.

DAVID SANGER, CNN POLITICAL AND NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST (on camera): Great to be with you, Rosemary.

CHURCH: So David, as the death toll rises in the wake of Russia's missile attack on that apartment building in Dnipro, Ukraine; one of the single most deadly strikes on civilians in this brutal war.

We are seeing an acceleration in Western military aid to Ukraine. But what about diplomatic efforts to find an end to this war? Is that happening to or has that reached a dead end?

SANGER: It hasn't happened yet. I don't think that it's really time for a dead end to be reached, Rosemary, because we don't have the conditions yet that would enable those negotiations to happen.

All wars end in a diplomatic conclusion, or most do. But that happens only when one side clearly has the upper hand over another.

And in this case, both sides think they can still win. Now, there are varying assessments from the Western allies about whether Ukraine really has a chance of driving Russia off of its territories.

But right now, it's hard to say which side really has the upper hand.

CHURCH: All right. So, let's get back to this increase in Western military aid to Ukraine. The Dutch prime minister meeting with President Biden on Tuesday said, his country will join the U.S. and Germany and sending a Patriot missile defense system to Ukraine. This coming after the U.K. announced it's sending more battle tanks. And Poland's prime minister calling on Germany to do more.

He says if Ukraine is defeated, that could trigger World War III. Do you agree that could happen if more military aid from Western nations isn't sent immediately right now?

SANGER: Well, it's certainly true that the only reason that the Ukrainians have been able to hang on this long -- this effectively is because of the Western military aid.

They've also been very good and innovative fighters. And of course, they're fighting for their homeland in a way that the Russian troops, many of them, inexperienced, some of them just conscripted or not.

So, there are a lot of things going in Ukraine's favor. But what favors the Russians in the next few months, is just the sheer size, weight, and firepower that they can bring in along the way. And that's a significant advantage if properly marshal.

CHURCH: And David, later this week, a member nations of the Ukraine defense contact group will meet in Germany in an effort to convince that country to allow Poland to provide Ukraine with Leopard 2 battle tanks.

How likely is it the Germany will give the go ahead for that to happen, and why hasn't it already done that?

SANGER: Well, the Germans are still concerned understandably about the overhang from World War II, and they just don't, I think, Chancellor Scholz, in particular, don't feel that it's appropriate to see German tanks rolling through Europe, for what that makes people remember and feel.

I think many of the allies think that it's really time for Germany to get over that. That people are convinced at this point that Germany is not an aggressor state.

But, you know, this is the same issue that the Japanese had along the way. That visit by Prime Minister Kishida in Washington suggest the Japanese are getting over it.

I think the next question though is would tanks be enough? Because you need the combination of combined arms training, tanks, anti-missile defenses and the aircraft, and it's all got to coordinate.


And of course, the Ukrainians say they need far more of everything than what's on offer. Now, everyone would say that if you were in the -- in the Ukrainian's position.

CHURCH: And of course, all this takes time. As you point out, the U.S. currently training Ukrainian troops here in America on how to use the new Patriot defense missile system that the U.S. has given Ukraine.

But should the U.S. be providing more military aid and moving faster with this support, given what we just so happen in Dnipro.

SANGER: So, that is certainly the argument that we've heard from the British. It's an argument you've heard Condoleezza Rice and Robert Gates, the former defense secretary and CIA chief, making an op-ed piece recently, that you've got to go move faster.

There are some in the U.S. government that say, look, no matter what we gave them, this is going to be a frozen conflict in the south and the east for some time.

I think the Russians may want to be making it appear as if they could try to get Kyiv again, and that's why you've seen this buildup of forces, Russian forces in Belarus to make that case. They may simply be trying to divide the Ukrainian forces.

But we're in for a pretty uncertain period. And I think that period, may well be marked by the Russians finally getting their act together. And I think that's what many in the West are concerned about.

CHURCH: David Sanger, thank you so much for joining us. Appreciate it.

SANGER: Great to be with you, Rosemary. CHURCH: Well, Sweden and Finland hope an upcoming meeting will help convince Turkey to approve their bids for NATO membership. Bids brought on by the war in Ukraine.

The Turkish foreign minister will be holding talks with the U.S. secretary of state in Washington in the coming hours.

CNN's Jomana Karadsheh reports from Istanbul on the sticking point so far.

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Some Turkish officials have been saying that they are in no rush to approve Finland and Sweden's membership in NATO.

KARADSHEH (voice over): Some Turkish officials also indicating that they might not take this to the Turkish parliament for a vote before elections that are expected here in May or June.

Turkey has accused those two Nordic countries of harboring members of Kurdish separatist groups that Turkey views as a national security threat.

They did sign a memorandum between these three countries between Turkey, Sweden, and Finland, in which they said they will be taking steps to address these national security concerns that Turkey brought up.

Turkish officials are saying that some steps have been taken, but not enough has been done. They say they want to see more concrete steps taken before they go ahead and approve the membership that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in recent days also saying that they will not go ahead with this until Sweden and Finland hand over more than 100 individuals, they say, who are wanted by Turkey.

But it's also very important to keep in mind that what Turkish officials say publicly doesn't necessarily reflect where things are in terms of negotiations, taking place behind closed doors that have continued now for months, especially at a time where Turkey is headed into elections.

And we've heard from U.S. officials in the past, from NATO secretary general and others who believe that Turkey will eventually come around, and it will approve Finland and Sweden's membership.

But some believe that what it's trying to do right now is use this situation and this leverage to try and extract concessions it has been after for a long time from these countries and others.

Jomana Karadsheh, CNN, Istanbul.

CHURCH: Chinese officials have been busy in Davos, letting the world know they're open for business. During his address at the World Economic Forum, China's vice premier said the country is open to foreign investment.

It comes after a rocky year for Beijing's economy with China's GDP last year at its worst level in nearly 50 years.

Despite uncertainty with the coronavirus and its recent rollback of the zero-COVID policy, the vice premier says Beijing is ready to partner with others.


LIU HE, VICE PREMIER OF THE PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF CHINA (through translator): We must always promote all round opening up. Opening up, as a basic state policy is a catalyst of reform and development in China and a key driver of economic progress.


China's door to the outside world will only open wider.


CHURCH: And that reopening is bringing cautious optimism to the summit, where a majority of top economists had earlier said they believe a global recession is likely this year.

CHURCH (voice over): The chief executive of S&P Global predicts China's spending will help offset the pain saying, "There is pent up savings, there is pent up demand, so we expect China will see very strong growth, especially as you get later in the year."

Douglas Peterson added that he anticipates net growth globally this year.

CHURCH (on camera): And the head of Portugal's Central Bank says the European economy may also exceed expectations. Take a listen.


MARIO CENTENO, GOVERNOR, CENTRAL BANK OF PORTUGAL: I also think that the economy has been surprising us quarter after quarter.

The first quarter in Europe will be most likely still positive. Maybe we'll be surprised also in the first half of the year, but we also see a pickup through 2023.


CHURCH: Actor Idris Elba is using his star power at Davos to call for more investment in the world's poorest nations.

CHURCH (voice over): He and his wife, Sabrina Dhowre were honored for their humanitarian efforts. They are dedicated conservationists and goodwill ambassadors for the U.N.'s International Fund for Agricultural Development or IFAD.

They spoke to CNN's Julia Chatterley and highlighted those suffering from the effects of food shortages and climate change, and explained why investment is better than aid.


SABRINA DHOWRE ELBA, MODEL, ACTRESS, AND HUMANITARIAN: And there's a time and place for aid, and everyone needs the support.



DHOWRE ELBA: But it's generally short sighted in the sense that once it's gone, it's gone.

So, investment helping people have this sense of independence. And that's really what we're both passionate about.

IDRIS ELBA, ACTOR, FILMMAKER, AND HUMANITARIAN: Those are we got to get out of the crisis reaction model, you know?




We've got to start future proofing. And I think that's why we sort of resonate with the practices of IFAB, because they come in, offer solutions, and stay the course, and then go and replicate.

And, you know, it's, you know, each one teach one model. So, for us, yes, Africa is ready for investment, and partnership, strategic partnership.

I think for, you know, investors, you know, private sector, it's an incredible opportunity to consider Africa, to consider the youth there, the growth that's coming, as a viable place to invest into.


CHURCH: An inspiring couple there. And CNN, will be covering all the big events in Davos.

Join Richard Quest and Julia Chatterley as they interview world and business leaders throughout the week.

Well, to the Australian Open, where defending champion Rafael Nadal has crashed out of the tournament in the second round.

The 22-time major champion, who was facing American Mackenzie McDonald on Wednesday in Melbourne, was down a set when he pulled up with a hip injury.

After a medical timeout, he elected to continue, but unable to fully move, was ousted in straight sets 6-4, 6-4, 7-5.

Now, this is only the second time since 2007 that the Spaniard has exited the Australian Open this early in the tournament.

Well, still to come, the Nobel laureate Maria Ressa, acquitted all four tax evasion charges in the Philippines.

CHURCH (voice over): But it's not the last of her legal woes. We will have the latest in a live report.

Plus, the White House responds to criticism over what its disclosed publicly, following the discovery of classified documents at President Joe Biden's home and former office. That's just ahead.



CHURCH (on camera): We have this breaking news out of Ukraine. Just in to CNN, Ukraine's presidential office says an aircraft has crashed into what's been described as a social infrastructure building in the Kyiv region.

Local media reported the facility located in the city of Brovary was believed to be a kindergarten. Details on potential victims are unclear at this point and emergency services have arrived.

We will continue tracking this, of course, and bring you the latest details as they come into us.

Well, journalist and Nobel laureate Maria Ressa has been acquitted of four charges of tax evasion in the Philippines, ending a slew of legal hearings, she says, were politically motivated.

The charges were brought against her by the government of former Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte. And a fifth tax evasion charge, still looms over Ressa and her media company Rappler.

The veteran Filipino-American journalist says the ruling is a victory for truth.

And CNN's Paula Hancocks joins me now live from Seoul with more on this. Good to see you, Paula.

So, what are you learning about Maria Ressa's acquittal, and of course, the fact that her legal woes are not over yet?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Rosemary, looking at what happened today, those tax charges being acquitted. That the chief saying of the court of tax appeals that the prosecutors effectively failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that this was what happened.

Now, we've consistently heard from Ressa, and also from Rappler that these were political charges. That these had been brought back in 2018 by the government, President Duterte, who Rappler has been aggressively critical of in his bloody war on drugs.

There have been a number of charges against Rappler and against Ressa herself that have been brought during that period. And she and her supporters have consistently said that they were politically charged. Now, we have heard a very delighted response from Maria Ressa outside the court this morning. Saying, "Today, facts win, truth wins, justice wins."

Also saying this not just a win for her and her company, but also for every Filipino who's ever been unjustly accused. And she spoke to us here on CNN. She did used to be a CNN bureau chief and she spoke to us a little earlier.


MARIA RESSA, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, RAPPLER: The world was really turned upside down against Rappler. In less than two years, I had 10 arrest warrants and these -- this was the cost of trying to do journalism in our country.

Is it turning around? Look, I don't think the problem is just the Philippine government. As long as our information ecosystem prioritizes the spread of lies. How can facts win? This is what social media and technology has done.

So, today, I am optimistic the sun is shining, but the fight must continue.


HANCOCKS: Now, this was really the first high-profile test under the new Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. And we did ask Maria as well, whether or not this was a case of a new president, and therefore, that was why she had been acquitted.

And she said, she wasn't sure that it was the president himself, but saying that it's more a lifting of fear, saying that she believed there was a palpable fear under the previous presidency.

But as you mentioned, as well, Rosemary, this doesn't mean the end of Ressa or Rappler's legal woes there. A few other legal cases, which are ongoing at this point.

But it's certainly been welcomed by advocates for press freedom, for human rights. We've heard from Human Rights Watch, saying, "The equivocal is clearly welcome news and a boon for press freedom in the Philippines.

So, as I say, this was really a first high-profile case to see if anything had really changed. And it appears that it certainly has.

Well, then, Maria Ressa said she did have her faith in the court system, and it has come through. Rosemary?


CHURCH: All right. Paula Hancocks, joining us live from Seoul. Many thanks.

Well, some cities in China claim they have seen the worst that COVID has to offer, as they have potentially past the peak of new infections.

CHURCH: In Guangzhou, officials say more than 85 percent of residents have already been infected with the virus, and that new cases and emergency room visits are both returning to normal levels.

Authorities in Shanghai also believe they have past the peak of new infections. The city saw a large spike in cases during December, but is still hard at work trying to prevent new infections, especially, with senior citizens.

Well, rescuers in Nepal have found another victim from the deadly Yeti Airlines crash, bringing the total number of bodies recovered to 71.

CHURCH (voice over): The search continues for the last remaining person still missing. There were 72 onboard, including four crew members when the plane crashed into a river gorge near the city of Pokhara on Sunday.

It's the deadliest air disaster in Nepal in more than 30 years.

Well, Tokyo's high court has moved to acquit three former TEPCO executives over the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster.

Japanese broadcaster NHK, reports, the court found the triode not guilty of manslaughter in connection with the triple reactor meltdown that came after a tsunami struck the plant 12 years ago.

The trial focused on whether the tsunami could have been predicted and if measures should have been taken to prevent what became the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl.

Well, federal investigators have conducted multiple interviews as part of a review of how U.S. President Joe Biden handled classified material.

Sources tell CNN, Mr. Biden's personal attorney Patrick Moore, was among those interviewed, he discovered about 20 classified documents from Mr. Biden's time as vice president, found at his Delaware home, and at a former office.

CNN's Phil Mattingly has more now from the White House.


PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice over): President Biden, again, ignoring questions as the investigation into his handling of classified documents intensifies.

KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We have a couple of special guests.

MATTINGLY: As the head coach and star guard of the world champion Golden State Warriors made their appearance in the Briefing Room.

STEPHEN CURRY, SIX-TIME ALL-STAR, NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION: It's something that we don't ever take for granted. MATTINGLY: For White House scrambling to get its footing.

JEAN-PIERRE: You guys can ask me this 100 times, 200 times if you wish. I'm going to keep saying the same thing.

MATTINGLY: And not so subtle effort to turn the page on a turbulent and perilous moment for Biden.

JEAN-PIERRE: The president has confidence. They reached out to the Archives. They reached out to the Department of Justice.

MATTINGLY: The sources saying Biden plans to stay focused on his schedule and the agenda.

JEAN-PIERRE: The president is going to stay laser focused on delivering for the American people.

MATTINGLY: And far away from any more public commentary like this amid an ongoing special counsel investigation.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: By the way, my Corvettes in a locked garage. OK? So, it's not like you're sitting on the street.

MATTINGLY: The probe now in its early stages to pin down how roughly 20 documents with classified markings from Biden's time his vice president ended up in two separate locations.

A Biden affiliated think tank in Washington, and Biden's family home in Wilmington Delaware.

White House officials pledging full cooperation with the early stage special counsel investigation.

MERRICK GARLAND, UNITED STATES ATTORNEY GENERAL: I'm here today to announce the appointment of Robert Hur, as a special counsel.

MATTINGLY: But for a second day, slamming House Republicans, who have now launched two probes of their own.

A White House spokesman on Monday, saying the lawmakers have "no credibility", and "are playing politics in a shamelessly hypocritical attempt to attack President Biden."

IAN SAMS, SPOKESPERSON, WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: House Republicans lose credibility when they engage in fake outrage about an issue that they're clearly pursuing only for partisan gain.

MATTINGLY: Followed by a conference call, Tuesday, to level more attacks. But the messaging effort doing little to address critical questions.

SAMS: With the appointment of a special counsel, we will continue to be limited in what we can share publicly.

MATTINGLY: With little detail on the more than two-month period from the initial discovery of documents on November 2nd, to the December 20th discovery of additional documents, to a third, and fourth discovery of additional documents just last week.

But as White House officials maintain, the ongoing investigation will continue to limit their public answers.

SAMS: I understand that there's a tension between protecting and safeguarding the integrity of an ongoing investigation, with providing information publicly appropriate with that.

MATTINGLY: A clear public effort to draw attention elsewhere.


MATTINGLY (on camera): And while White House officials continually, almost daily, have pledged full cooperation with that special counsel investigation, it appears less likely when it comes to the two House Republican investigations that are now underway.

While they have said they will engage in good faith with any good faith efforts brought their way from House Republicans.


It's pretty clear based on their comments in the last several days, they don't view anything. They've heard from House Republicans up to this point, as in good faith, as for the deadlines that have already been laid out.

For responses, well, we're told that they will reply at some point with whatever they think is necessary. Phil Mattingly, CNN, the White House.


ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Coming up next, from rescue to recovery, the death toll rises at the site of a Russian missile strike in the City of Dnipro. We will have the latest just ahead.


CHURCH: Updating our breaking news out of Ukraine now. A military official says a helicopter has crashed near a kindergarten, and residential building in the Kyiv region in the City of Brovary. He wrote there were children and staff in the kindergarten, but they were evacuated, and emergency services have arrived. We will, of course, continue tracking the story and bring you the latest as we get it in here. Well, we're now getting a much better sense of the heartbreaking human toll of Russia's war on Ukraine. The head of the Ukrainian presidential staff says more than 9,000 civilians have been killed since Russia's invasion last February. Included in that number 453 children.

A small memorial for dozens of lives lost has now emerged in Moscow. Flowers are being left at the foot of a statue of a Ukrainian writer to commemorate those killed in a Russian missile strike on an apartment building in Dnipro. And the death toll in Dnipro continues to rise as more bodies are removed from the rubble days after the Russian strike. At least 45 people are now confirmed dead, among them six children, more than a dozen people remain missing. CNN's Fred Pleitgen has our report.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): Sirens marked the end of a search and rescue marathon. For three days responders worked day and night trying to save lives. Now, authorities say there is no more hope of finding survivors.

(on camera) There's an eerie quiet here now, and you can really see how people were just ripped out of their lives as the building crumbled around them. You can also see the full scale of the destruction. And the Ukrainians say they cleared around 8,500 tons of debris from this area in about 72 hours.

(voiceover) And still, more bodies were found, including children, while others remain missing. This man searching for his grandson, venting his anger at Russia. There is no mercy for them, he says, I will curse them into the last days of my life, may they die.


Kyiv says they are certain Russia struck the building with a cruise missile designed to destroy aircraft carriers. (INAUDIBLE) tells me she was in her apartment in the complex when it was hit. She filmed the chaos when she first left the building and saw the destruction. We thought it was an earthquake or something, she says, unclear what happened. When we opened the apartment, we saw smoke and dust and heard screams.

The Kremlin continues to deny its forces were behind the attack. But Moscow does say Russian fighters are now making gains on the battlefields. Meanwhile, Ukrainian forces are still shelling Russian troops around Soledar, which the Russian say is firmly under their control thanks to fighters from the private military company Wagner. A Wagner Unit posted this video after advancing even further and taking a railway station. Wagner acknowledges using convicts recruited directly from Russian prisons to fight. Leader Yevgeny Prigozhin recently praising the group that survived.

I told you I needed your criminal talents in order to defeat the enemy in Ukraine. Now, those criminal talents are no longer needed. Ukraine says the Wagner assault and the missile strike show they need more advanced weapons from the U.S. and its allies to keep momentum on the battlefield and protect citizens at home. Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Dnipro, Ukraine.


CHURCH: Our next story could have easily turned tragic, a toddler seen playing with a handgun, and pulling the trigger. We'll explain what happened after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) CHURCH: Well, police are investigating after gunfire broke out at the end of a basketball game at an Oklahoma High School on Tuesday.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: John Smith Fieldhouse tonight where the Millwood Falcons fall -- we go to break.


CHURCH (voiceover): The game had just finished when the shots were fired, sending fans running, and the game's commentators ducking for cover. The school's principal says it happened after a fight broke out. At least one man was shot and taken to the hospital. There's no word yet on his condition or whether he's connected to that school.

(on camera) We are getting new details on how a toddler in the U.S. State of Indiana got hold of a loaded handgun. He was seen waving it around in the entryway of his apartment building and pulling the trigger. And now, his father is due in court. CNN's Jean Casarez takes us through what happened.



JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): Police in Beech Grove, Indiana respond to a 911 call. There's a person with a gun in the hallway of an apartment complex. When police arrived, a neighbor tells them, it was a toddler holding a gun.

NICOLE SUMMERS, NEIGHBOR: My son opened the door, and this little boy upstairs then standing with a firearm.

CASAREZ: Police immediately make their way to the apartment on January 14th at 6:13 p.m.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hello, Beech Grove Police. Apartment 7, Beech Grove Police.

CASAREZ: Police say it was the toddler wearing only a diaper who opened the door. A man enters from a back room.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sorry to wake you. We're here because the downstairs neighbors said they saw your son running around with something they thought was a silver handgun.

CASAREZ: The man, Shane Osborne, says he's been ill all day, and didn't know the toddler had left the apartment. He further advised there was not a firearm in the home, nor did K.O. have any toy guns. The officers do a cursory search, nothing in plain view, so they leave with one last comment to Osborne.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thought you might want to do a better job in locking your doors.


CASAREZ: As police are leaving the apartments, that first neighbor insists the toddler was waving a real gun.

SUMMERS: That baby had a gun. I sell guns for a living. He pointed it at me, I'm telling (BLEEP) he had a gun.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was going outside.

SUMMERS: He pointed at me and said, look what I got.

CASAREZ: Officers keep going, and as they are almost out the door, another neighbor emerges asking them to look at recorded security camera footage on her phone. There he is, the toddler waving a gun and pulling the trigger.



CASAREZ: They entered the apartment a second time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right. We have a video of your kid holding a gun, so you have a gun.

OSBORNE: I don't have a gun. I've never brought a gun in this house. If there is, it's my cousin's.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need to figure out where this firearm is.

CASAREZ: With consent to search, they now looked everywhere.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where do you put down that toy?

CASAREZ: Osborne assists them and so does the toddler. It was the toddler who finally motioned to a roll-top desk. Neatly placed inside was a loaded nine-millimeter pistol with 15 rounds in the magazine. No rounds were in the chamber, so the gun couldn't fire. Osborne, the boy's purported father, is arrested.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: After speaking to on-call prosecutors, they said there's enough for child neglect as a felony since it was a loaded firearm that he was unsupervised with.

CASAREZ: Jean Casarez, CNN, New York.


CHURCH: Well, a pair of train operators in Alaska remarkably emerged unharmed after an avalanche slammed into their freight train. And you can see a mountain of snow and ice burying sections of the train. The avalanche derailed two engines and caused a partial derailment of a third in the middle of the night on Tuesday. Firefighters assess the situation for safety before climbing the ice and evacuating the two- member crew. All right. Updating our breaking news story out of Ukraine. Ukraine's President says the number of reports of victims in the City of Brovary is increasing, after a helicopter crash. A military official said earlier a helicopter crashed near a kindergarten, and residential building in the Kyiv Region. He wrote there were children and staff in the kindergarten, but they were evacuated, and emergency services arrived. We will, of course, continue tracking this story, and bring you the very latest as we get it. I want to thank you for joining us. I'm Rosemary Church. "WORLD SPORTS" is up next. Then, I'll be back in about 15 minutes with more CNN NEWSROOM. Do stay with us.