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Medics From Around The World Help Ukraine In Bakhmut; At Least Seven Dead In Half Moon Bay, California Shootings; China Detaining Demonstrators After COVID Rules Protests; 192 People Released After Detention During University Raid; E.U. Announces $590 Million in Military Aid to Ukraine; Ukrainian Report Outlines Brutality of Wagner Mercenaries; Dozens of Antiquities Seized in U.S. Are Back in Italy. Aired 12-12:45a ET

Aired January 24, 2023 - 00:00   ET




LAILA HARRAK, CNN ANCHOR: Hello everyone, I'm Laila Harrak.

Ahead on CNN NEWSROOM, Western standoff, allies deadlocked over a possible deal to send tanks to Ukraine.

Also ahead.


BRANDON TSAY, CONFRONTED AND DISARMED GUNMAN: I'm going to die. This is the end. I think this is the end for me.


HARRAK: Tragedy upon tragedy. Days after another mass shooting in the United States made international headlines. We're learning of a new deadly rampage in California.

And Peru rocked by some of its worst political violence in decades, with another large protest expected in the day ahead.

ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN Center, this is CNN NEWSROOM with Laila Harrak. Ukraine is stepping up its plea for allies to send German made Leopard 2 battle tanks to help repel Russia's invasion now close to the one year mark.

But whether NATO countries will come through depends on who you ask. Ukraine's top diplomat says a deal is at its final stage and he has no doubt that Kyiv will get the tanks.

Meanwhile, Poland's Foreign Minister says Warsaw is determined to send the tanks whether other countries go along or not. But Poland's prime minister says he's looking to put together a small group of countries willing to contribute, take a listen.


MATEUSZ MORAWIECKI, POLISH PRIME MINISTER (through translator): We will seek this approval from Germany but this is a secondary issue. Even if we don't get such an approval in the end, we will give our tanks to Ukraine anyway, within a small coalition of countries, even if Germany isn't in that coalition.


HARRAK: Well meanwhile, the European Union's top diplomat says the bloc has agreed to a new $590 million military aid package for Ukraine, it revolves mostly around training. He also says any countries can send Leopard Tanks to Ukraine if they want, and Germany will not stand in their way.


JOSEP BORRELL, E.U. FOREIGN POLICY CHIEF: (through translator): The only new thing to come out of these discussions is that from what I understand, Germany is not going to ban the export of these weapons if any E.U. country that has them wishes to do so.


HARRAK: Ukraine says it needs the modern versatile tanks ahead of a spring offensive planned by Russia. Military leaders assist the Leopards would make a huge difference in the battle for cities like Bakhmut, where Russian forces are advancing.

CNN's Ben Wedeman is there.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Eli Worth-Jones is a long way from his hometown of Las Vegas, Nevada, a medic he's delivering supplies to residents just a few 100 yards from Russian lines in Bakhmut. He does it because he can.

ELI WORTH-JONES, FRONT LINE MEDICS: I'm young, I'm trained for this. This is what I do for a living and a lot of people need it here. And I'm like, I'm so happy to be here and stay with people they have stepped on.

WEDEMAN: Eli is with a group called Front Line Medics and you can't get much more frontline than this.

Fellow medic Kurt Eriksen from Norway explains how they work.

KURT ERIKSEN, FRONT LINE MEDICS: They got a list of patients, but we don't really know what's wrong with them. So, we don't have any idea before we see them and we do assessment.

WEDEMAN: Our interview cut short by an incoming Russian round. At a slightly safer distance from the fighting, they park their mobile clinic and treat who they can.

Oleksander (PH) says his feeling pain.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you asked him which foot it is?

WEDEMAN: He lives in an unheated apartment. He's suffering from frostbite. They'll take him to a hospital outside Bakhmut. And he couldn't leave a moment sooner. The Russian noose is tightening.

Slowly, Russian forces are gaining ground. They're on high ground behind me. They're advancing from the north, and they're advancing from the south.

But worst is yet to come says British volunteer soldier Daniel Burke.

DANIEL BURKE, BRITISH VOLUNTEER SOLDIER: We need to take Soledar to the north, they've got to try and do a big pincer movement around Bakhmut. And then we're going to try to circle it per se but I'm going to call them try or pass stick through the fields and just close of bit by bit.

WEDEMAN: Yet, residents stay on and volunteers of all stripes do what they can.

Victoria Linnik is doing the rounds handing out food and water.


Are you a little nervous with the situation here?


WEDEMAN: Nerves of steel as the shelling goes on.

Ben Wedeman, CNN, Bakhmut.


HARRAK: Well, joining us now from Washington is David Sanger. He's a CNN political and national security analyst as well as a White House and national security correspondent for The New York Times and the author of The Perfect Weapon.

David, good day, for now, at least no country seems to be prepared to be seen as the first one to send tanks to Ukraine. Poland is striking a very strident tone, the prime minister says we'll go it alone if Germany denies our request. But it too seeks cover from a small coalition also willing to send tanks. What's going on?

DAVID SANGER, CNN POLITICAL AND NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, first thing is the British have announced they're sending tanks, they announced this a week ago, they're sending their Challenger 2 tanks.

The Leopard tanks that we've been discussing that are made in Germany are used broadly in Europe, you mentioned Poland, that's one country that uses them. But there are many others that do. The usual protocol, when you buy a weapon from another country, is that before you re-export it, or use it in some other place, you have to seek permission from that country. And that's what the polls have been trying to do with Germany.

But right now, it looks like Germany may want to pretend they haven't received the request. Because they are sitting there debating whether or not to send many of their own. And because this whole thing is wrapped up in their wartime history, it's not clear that they are going to answer the request at all and Poland who said well, if we get no answer, we may simply go ahead.

HARRAK: Why this fixation on tanks? I mean, billions of dollars in new arms for Ukraine have been announced just this month alone, are these Leopard 2 battle tanks the silver bullet that will change the course of this war?

SANGER: Probably not. They are useful in coordination with other weapons, including the armored personnel carriers that have been sent, including drones, including anti-missile defenses, including even cyber weapons.

There'll be an interesting set of keys (PH) to examine whether or not Germany would be pretty -- would be perfectly willing to have its offensive cyber weapons used against Russia. But not its tanks because you can't see the cyber weapons, or any other kind of weapon that would be hard to detect.

A tank I think to the mind of Chancellor Scholz, just has too much resonance of World War II about it. They're not necessarily the most useful weapon, but I'm sure they would be useful in the kind of battle was being fought in the Donbas.

HARRAK: Now, how much does the capture of Soledar the Battle of Bakhmut, which is now in a grim stalemates, the possible spring offensive by Russian forces at to the sense of urgency for Kyiv?

SANGER: It may add to the sense of urgency here, I think there are many American officials who believe that Bakhmut is the wrong battle for the Ukrainians that as you suggest, they're taking huge casualties to gain only, you know, inches or feet.

And that this is the kind of battle the kind of old World War I or World War II style battle that plays to Russian strength. They would rather those troops be pulled back, put in training, get ready for a spring offensive by the Ukrainians and do the battle on Ukrainian strength.

And I think that's part of the tension that's underway now as different countries try to influence the Ukrainians about their strategy going forward. That opinion is not always universal. The British want to really focus on this year, think that the Russians have a moment of weakness here and then they ought to be exploited before they get reinforced. The United States wants to take a bit of a slower pace. Make sure the Ukrainians are trained and armed and guaranteed for success. HARRAK: It's almost a two speeds approach there that you outlined, David Sanger, thank you so much.

SANGER: That's right.

HARRAK: Appreciate you. Thank you.

SANGER: Thank you.

HARRAK: And to the U.S. now where mass shootings have again rocked the state of California. At least seven people are dead in the coastal city of Half Moon Bay after a shooter opened fire in two different locations on Monday.


Police took a 67-year-old man into custody and say they found a semi- automatic handgun in his vehicle. They believe he acted alone. Here was the local sheriff addressing a new round of U.S. gun violence.


SHERIFF CHRISTINA CORPUS, SAN MATEO COUNTY, CALIFORNIA: This kind of shooting is horrific. It's a tragedy that we hear about far too often. But today it's hit home here in San Mateo County.


HARRAK: While another victim was critically injured in the attacks, police haven't yet released a known motive for the shootings.

Meantime, in Southern California, the death toll has risen to 11 in the mass shooting that rocked the city of Monterey Park over the weekend. We're also hearing from a man who's being hailed a hero for confronting and disarming the gunman after he showed up at a second dance studio on Saturday night.

CNN has obtained exclusive footage of Brandon Tsay approaching the suspect after he entered the studio in Alhambra with a weapon. Tsay says he sprang to action after realizing there was an imminent threat.


TSAY: I'm not going to lie, I did freeze up when I saw him with the gun. I had many thoughts where I would think I'm going to die. This is it. This is the end for me.

But then something happened, you know, something came over me, I just had this rush of thought and adrenaline, you know, in this sort of situation. And I was able to come to the conclusion that I needed to do something, I needed to grab the gun. I needed to save myself and the people inside.


HARRAK: And were beginning to learn the names of the victims from Saturday's mass shooting in Monterey Park.

So far, authorities ever released the identities of four of the 11 people killed. All those who lost their lives were over the age of 50.

My Nhan's family called the 65-year-old "their biggest cheerleader" and said she loved to dance and spent many years at the dance studio where she was killed.

CNN's Natasha Chen has been the following developments and has the latest now from Monterey Park.


NATASHA CHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): On the eve of the Lunar New Year in the predominantly Asian American community of Monterey Park, California, there was dancing and joyful celebration, then gunfire.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I got three immediates in here and I got approximately 10 deceased.

CHEN: Police say a 72-year-old man armed with a semi-automatic pistol opened fire on people inside the Star Ballroom Dance Studio Saturday night.

SHERIFF ROBERT LUNA, LOS ANGELES COUNTY: Investigators recovered a total of 42 shell casings and a large capacity magazine.

Investigators also recovered a Norinco 7.62 by 25 handgun from inside the suspect's cargo van.

CHEN: Not long after local streets were filled with people celebrating the New Year. At least 11 people were killed in the shooting at the dance studio. Several more are still hospitalized.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Additional units requested. Multiple victim's gunshot wounds.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I got one more critical, one more immediate inside the business.

CHEN: After the massacre, the gunman left Monterey Park and police say went to a second dance studio in the nearby community of Alhambra. There he encountered Brandon Tsay working at the ticket booth, who in an interview with ABC said the gunman pointed a semi-automatic weapon at him.

TSAY: My first thoughts was I was going to die here. This was it.

CHEN: Tsay said he lunged at the gunman.

TSAY: I was trying to use my elbows to separate the gun away from him, creating some distance. Finally, at one point, I was able to pull the gun away from him. Shove him aside, create some distance.

CHEN: The guns still in his hand, Tsay said he called police. He's now being hailed as a hero for potentially preventing further violence.

After a nearly 12 hour manhunt, law enforcement located the gunman's vehicle, and 72-year-old Huu Can Tran was found dead from a self- inflicted gunshot wound.

Police say they still don't have a motive for the attacks but evidence inside the van tie Tran to the shootings and suggests he may have targeted specific victims.

Several people who new Trump tells CNN he had taught informal dance lessons at the studio, where he unloaded a barrage of gunfire. And his ex-wife says that's where they met.

My Nhan, Lilan Li, Xiujuan Yu and Valentino Alvero are among the dead, most of whom were in their 60s and 70s.

The community of Monterey Park and the tight knit dance community in the area are now coming to terms with the devastating violence during what was supposed to be a celebration of hope and peace.


So, there's no words to really describe how I'm feeling. I'm very sad. There's too much hate.

CHEN: Police in Hemet, California about 80 miles southeast of where we are in Monterey Park said that the suspect actually came into the Police Department lobby on January 7th and January 9th, alleging previous fraud, theft and poisoning involving his family in the L.A. area in the past 10, 20 years. They said that he promised to come back with documentation but never did.

Natasha Chen CNN, Monterey Park, California.


HARRAK: China is still cracking down on people for protesting COVID rules. Coming up, details on a chilling wave of arrests of a video left by a woman who feared she was going to be rounded up.

Plus, more protests expected in Peru on Tuesday, as the country experiences its highest levels of violence since the 1980s. We'll discuss the political turmoil, that's next.


HARRAK: The U.S. and its allies are hitting Iran with a new round of sanctions over Tehran's crackdown on antigovernment protests.

The U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned a foundation linked to Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and multiple senior officials.

Meanwhile, European Union foreign ministers sanctioned more than 30 Iranian officials and organizations and a meeting in Brussels on Monday. And Britain coordinated the move with its own bans on regime officials. Protesters have rocked Iran or protest rather have rocked Iran since September last year after the death of Mahsa Amini in the custody of Iran's morality police.

China looks dramatically different since abandoning its rigid zero COVID measures last month after public protests, but some residents say they're still paying the price for being a part of those rallies.

CNN's Selina Wang spoke with a woman who says her friends seemingly vanished, leaving a chilling video behind, detailing what may have happened.


SELINA WANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): If you're seeing this video, that means I've already been taken by the police. These are the chilling words of a young woman in China who took part in this demonstration in Beijing on November 27th. It was one of dozens of anti-zero COVID protests that erupted in cities across China.

They're chanting that they don't want COVID tests. They want freedom.

Police mind the streets but the mood was calm and peaceful. Many were there to mourn the lives lost and China's Urumqi city where a deadly fire broke out in a lockdown building.

This 26-year-old woman, an editor at a publishing house said that is why she and her friends took to the streets. She said they follow the rules and didn't have any conflict with the police.


WANG: Soon after filming this, she was arrested. She knew her time was nearing. CNN has learned from sources that weeks after the protest, police started rounding up her friends one by one. Most of them also young female professionals.

We tracked down and interviewed one of her friends who's been tirelessly searching for her for not revealing her name or any of the sources we've spoken to because of concerns of retribution from the Chinese state.

Authorities want to intimidate ordinary people, she said, they want to turn people into emotionless machines. We can't even gather together to grieve.

Police swiftly crackdown on the protesters in some cities violently pushing and dragging the demonstrators but the Beijing protesters peacefully dispersed. Afterwards, police blanketed protest sites.

In some places, authorities check cell phones for virtual private networks and track down participants with cell phone data.

Soon after, China dropped its zero COVID policy and opened up. In his New Year's Eve address, Chinese leader Xi Jinping said it was "only natural for different people to have different concerns or hold different views on the same issue". But behind the scenes, their loved ones say the retribution continues.

She's paying a heavy price. We were born into this land, so naturally we would want to make China better. But now I feel there's nothing that we can do, she says breaking down into tears.

Authorities have made no official comment about the detention and will likely never know how many people have been detained in connection with the protests if it's dozens hundreds or more.

As people across China are celebrating the Lunar New Year with their newfound freedom. The young woman says the mothers of her and her friends want to know why their daughters were taken from them.

In her final words in the video message, she made this call for help. Don't let us be taken away or convicted arbitrarily. Don't let us disappear from this world unjustly.

WANG (on camera): CNN has asked Beijing authorities for comment on the young woman you saw there along with the other detentions but we have not heard back. We've learned she's one of eight people who have been quietly detained after the protests.

People who know these women tell us they were confused as to why they were taken, describing them as young female professionals working in publishing, journalism and education, saying they are socially minded but not dissidents or organizers.

Experts say the police may have been suspicious of young politically aware women. Chinese authorities have a well-documented history of targeting feminists and at least one of the women detained was questioned during her interrogation about whether she had any involvement in feminist groups.

Selina Wang, CNN, Beijing.


HARRAK: And Peru antigovernment protesters are expected to flood the streets of Lima in the coming hours.

All this comes amid a wave of demonstrations that began in December after former President Pedro Castillo was ousted on Sunday.

192 protesters were arrested the day before at a university in Lima were released. Officials say they were detained for allegedly entering the campus illegally and attacking security staff and damaging public property.

Joining us from Washington is Jo-Marie Burt. She's an associate professor for Latin American Studies at George Mason University and has worked in Peru since the mid-1980s. She has published numerous books and articles on Peru. Professor Burt, a very warm welcome. Peru unfortunately continues to be roiled by deadly demonstrations. Are these protests still about the ouster of Pedro Castillo?


You know, I think that the nature of the protests have shifted, I think early on they were very much about the ouster of Castillo and what many of his supporters viewed as backstabbing by elites in Congress, and they really wanted him back in office.

But I think that those demands have sort of faded as what we've seen is the current government of Dina Boluarte. She's been in office now for almost six weeks. And she's proven to really not be willing to listen to what people are saying. And there's been a massive amount of repression.

In other words, she's used basically state violence to stymie protests. And that, in turn, has generated more protests.


HARRAK: I wanted to ask you about that. And I'm hoping that you can elaborate on it. The crackdown by security forces has been especially brutal. And I understand from your answer that there are no efforts underway by the current president or the Peruvian political establishment to reach out to Castillo's supporters.

BURT: Well, I mean, you know, it's really important I think to highlight the level of violence that we're seeing. There also have been has been violence on the part of some protesters, right?

There's been burning of buildings, attempts to take over airports and other infrastructures. But the vast majority of the protests are in fact peaceful.

But the state security forces have reacted with extreme brutality. There have been 55 people killed in the last six weeks, 46 of them at the -- at the hands of essentially police and army shootings. This is a very high level. It's the highest level that we've seen since Peru's return to democracy in 2000. So, that in itself is alarming. (INAUDIBLE) 1,500 people reported wounded, hundreds of people reported detained. So, there's a very high cost of what's going on here.

And I do think that the government of the Dina Boluarte had enough, she's had several opportunities, in fact, to sort of rectify to stop take course and change course. And she's not done that.

Instead, she's dug in her heels, she and her ministers and those who support her has dug in their heels.

HARRAK: I'm going to ask you about the way forward because the longer these protests continue, what impact will it have on the country? BURT: Well, I think we're already seeing there's a complete crisis of governability, the country is in a huge paralysis. It's having huge economic effect, right? It's starting to affect I think a lot of industry. It's affecting tourism, which is one of Peru's main economic mainstays. It's probably also affecting the mining industries, there are blockades all around the country.

So, it's going to have an economic effect. It's going to undermine competence by investors and so forth. But I think that the human toll is also really important to take account of.

You know, as I said, 55 people dead, hundreds more wounded, hundreds more detained, people's rights are being violated and you know, in all kinds of different ways. So, that I think that the medium and long term costs are going to be you know, quite intense.

HARRAK: Jo-Marie Burt, thank you so much for joining us.

BURT: Thank you for having me.

HARRAK: Russian mercenary forces raising alarm in Ukraine the Wagner group is overwhelming some Ukrainian fighters with its unconventional tactics.


LAILA HARRAK, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Welcome back. We could get a clearer picture of Germany's stance on sending Leopard tanks to Ukraine when its defense minister meets with the NATO secretary- general in Berlin in the coming hours.


Western allies have been all over the map on providing the advanced battle tanks, which Kyiv says it needs to fight off Russia's invasion. The European Union's foreign policy chief says any of the 13 countries that have Leopard tanks can send them, whether or not Germany approves. They also announced a new military aid package for Ukraine at talks in Brussels.

CNN's Nic Robertson has details.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Five hundred and ninety million dollars of military aid. That's the latest tranche of military support that the E.U. is giving to Ukraine.

Well, of that $590 million that the E.U. is sending to Ukraine in terms of military support. Forty-eight million dollars of it, that's going to be for military training, the rest for hardware. The total that the E.U. has committed across all areas so far in terms of support and aid for Ukraine. That is now $53 billion.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): And on the vexed issue of whether or not Germany or other nations are going to send Germany's Leopard 2 tank to Ukraine. Clarity from the E.U.'s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, saying Germany isn't causing a block for other countries if they want to send their Leopard 2 tanks.

JOSEP BORRELL, EUROPEAN UNION FOREIGN POLICY CHIEF (through translator): During the council today, we discussed all of that, and of course, what the foreign affairs ministers had already said before. German ministers said that Germany is not blocking other countries from doing this. Other countries which wish to export their Leopard tanks can do so. So Germany is not blocking exports of Leopard tanks.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): Germany's defense minister says they will take a decision soon about whether or not they'll deploy their own Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine.

Germany's foreign minister, who said that, if Poland requests to send their own Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, then Germany won't stand in their way. But what we heard from the Polish prime minister today is some disappointment. He said that there was time wasting going on.

ROBERTSON: But he also indicated that Poland is trying to develop a small coalition of other nations who have Leopard 2 tanks that will perhaps go into a deployment with them.

What is emerging here is it's not just Germany that is worried about going alone with sending Leopard 2 tanks. But Poland, as well, hasn't made an official request, because it does seem to have a level of concern about making a move by itself.

John Kirby, the U.S. National Security Council spokesman, said that this was all sort of blowing up.

JOHN KIRBY, SPOKESMAN, U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL: We're not going to ever agree on every single aspect of every decision that the alliance makes. That's -- that's what makes the alliance so strong, that -- that friends, and allies, and partners can have honest discussions with one another.

But to say that this is dividing the alliance, or somehow putting international security at risk in Ukraine because -- because there's a discussion over tanks, is just way overblowing this thing.

ROBERTSON: And, of course, the concern here amongst allies and supporters of Ukraine is that, for all the division and rancor about making the decision about the Leopard 2 tanks, that plays into President Putin's hands about disunity within NATO.

The Kremlin spokesman, today saying whenever those Leopard 2 tanks -- already tanks deployed to Ukraine, he said, it would be the Ukrainians who pay the price.

Nic Robertson, CNN, London.


HARRAK: U.S. officials believe Russian intelligence officers directed a Russian white supremacist group to conduct a letter bombing campaign in Spain last year.

Well, the operation targeted the Spanish prime minister, the defense ministry and the American and Ukrainian embassies.

Current and former U.S. officials say the campaign was likely a warning to European governments, which have supported Ukraine since Russia's invasion began. They expect Russia will continue to look for proxy groups to drive up fear of possible terror attacks.

CNN has obtained Ukrainian military documents that outlines the unique threat posed by the Russian mercenary group, Wagner. It vividly describes the brutality of the private military force, and explains how effective its methods have been in Eastern Ukraine.

CNN's Fred Pleitgen has more on this. And a warning: this report contains graphic images and language.




FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: As Russia's invasion of Ukraine falters, there's one group that is having some success on the battlefield. The brutally affective Wagner private military company, led by Putin ally Yevgeny Prigozhin.


"Why are we effective, and where does this effectiveness come from," he asks. "First, we have been fighting for many years. Probably, we are the most experienced army in the world today."

And Ukraine's leadership is alarmed by Wagner's success. CNN has exclusively obtained a military document outlining Kyiv's assessment of the group.

"There are also purely military reasons for Wagner's effectiveness," the document says, "as the command structure and tactics currently employed are the only ones that are effective for the poorly-trained mobilized troops that make up the majority of Russian ground forces."

Ukraine's military filmed this video showing Wagner's assault tactics, using waves of fighters trying to overwhelm and encircle a Ukrainian position.

"The tasks are set to be as primitive as possible. To achieve the goal, many assault groups are deployed, and attacks can be carried out for a long period of time without regard to losses," the document says.


The first waves are often convicts, essentially used as cannon fodder. "The deaths of thousands of Wagner soldiers do not matter to Russian

society," the military document asserts, "and unauthorized withdrawal of a team or without being wounded is punishable by execution on the spot."

Prigozhin makes no secret of the fact that losses don't matter to him. He recently visited a building where the bodies of the fallen were kept.

"Their contracts have ended. They are going home," he said.

But Prigozhin also claims to respect the Ukrainians defending against his mercenaries, saying they're fighting with valor.

"You need to be more careful to send them off in a dignified manner," he said, "while recently overseeing an exchange of bodies between Wagner and the Ukrainian army."

Internally, though, it's a brutal regime. A pro-Wagner social media channel recently posted a video of mercenaries using a sledgehammer to kill a former comrade who allegedly defected and criticized the group.

The word is out on the battlefield, too. Ukrainian intelligence intercepted this call, which CNN cannot independently verify, of a Russian soldier talking to a friend about Wagner.


GRAPHIC: One rushed to the Ukrainians. The Wagnerites caught him and cut his balls off.


GRAPHIC: They sledgehammered one's head off. I saw the video.


GRAPHIC: Well, this one got his balls cut off. That's not a video, just like that.


PLEITGEN (voice-over): Still, Wagner's morale seems high, the Ukrainians say. And the fighters are often better equipped than Russia's regular forces, thanks to what the Ukrainians claim is U.S.- made technology.

"In contrast to the Russian armed forces, Wagner's main means of communication are American-made radio relay stations and Motorola walkie-talkies," the Ukrainian document says.

PLEITGEN: Well, CNN did reach out to Motorola for a statement, and they had said that, shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine, that they stopped all their sales to both Russia and to Belarus and closed their operations there.

Meanwhile, those documents from the Ukrainian military, there is a lot of fascinating things in there. For example, the Ukrainians say that, despite the infighting that you see between the Russian defense ministry and Wagner, specifically Yevgeny Prigozhin, that apparently, Russian military is now recommending some of those brutal assault tactics from Wagner for Russian regular forces, as well.

Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Kyiv.


HARRAK: Dozens of pieces of ancient art have been returned to their rightful place. When we come back, how U.S. and Italian authorities tracked down these stolen artifacts, worth millions.



HARRAK: Dozens of ancient artifacts that authorities say were stolen for a New York billionaire's private collection are now back in Italy. The pieces are worth millions, but their cultural value is priceless.

CNN's Barbie Nadeau has the story from Rome.


BARBIE NADEAU, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): These ancient artifacts, worth some $20 million, represent the latest success for Italy's Carabinieri cultural heritage squad.

Many were trafficked and ended up in the collection of American billionaire Michael Steinhardt, who has been banned for life from acquiring antiquities by the New York City district attorney.

Among them, this fresco stolen from Herculaneum near Pompeii.

And this bronze bust of a man dating back to around the first century CE, or late BCE.


NADEAU (voice-over): They're back in Italy, thanks to New York City's antiquities trafficking unit, led by Colonel Matthew Bogdanos.

BOGDANOS: These are not just pieces of marble and limestone and frescoes. These represent our shared cultural heritage. In one respect, they belong to the world.

But, legally, from my purposes, they belong to the country of origin from which they were pillaged.

NADEAU (voice-over): The New York unit has carried out 75 raids and recovered 500 artifacts worth $55 million that have been returned to Italy, Bogdanos told us.

"But the real value is their place in Italy's rich cultural identity," Carabinieri cultural heritage squad commander Vincenzo Molinese says. Many of these pieces that were in museums and private galleries end up

in storage facilities once back in Italy.

DARIUS ARYA, ARCHAEOLOGIST: The artifacts have to, deserve to, must go back to their home country. That's fundamental. Even if they're not the most important pieces, compared to let's say, the rich collections that exist in Italy, the point is they were robbed from this country. They deserve to go back to their home country.

NADEAU (voice-over): There may be cause for celebration now. But these pieces represent only a drop in the bucket. Authorities say that more pieces are being stolen every moment.

Barbie Latza Nadeau, CNN, Rome.


HARRAK: I'm Laila Harrak. I'll be back at the top of the hour with more CNN NEWSROOM, but first, WORLD SPORT starts after the break.