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ICC To Open War Crimes Cases Against Russia; Hundreds Remain In Lupiansk As Russia Ramps Up Attacks; Australia, U.K. And U.S. Seal Submarine Deal To Counter China; President Joe Biden Assures Americans "Banking System Is Safe." Aired 12-1a ET

Aired March 14, 2023 - 00:00   ET




JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Ahead here on CNN NEWSROOM, wanted for war crimes in Ukraine. The International Criminal Court is expected to issue its first arrest warrants for Russian officials.

Sealed with a fleet of new nuclear submarines, the U.S., U.K. and Australia announced what the new AUKUS Security Alliance will actually deliver.

And banking stocks continue to be hammered despite guarantees by U.S. regulators on all deposits regardless of limit held with the now failed Silicon Valley Bank.

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

VAUSE: For more than a year, Russian forces appear to have committed countless unspeakable atrocities in Ukraine, from torture and rape to mass executions of innocent men, women and children.

Putin's war machine has targeted civilian infrastructure and a direct attempt to deprive Ukrainians of basic essentials, like electricity and running water to try and break their resolve.

And now, after a year or so, the most despicable crimes allegedly authorized from the highest of levels, Russian officials may be facing charges of war crimes.

Reuters and the New York Times reporting the International Criminal Court is planning to open two cases and issue arrest warrants for a number of people. One case will focus on Russia's unrelenting attacks on civilian infrastructure, including power stations and water supplies.

The ICC's chief prosecutor Karim Khan, recently visited Ukraine to meet with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to take a firsthand look at the damage.

The second case will focus on the alleged abduction of Ukrainian children by the Russians.

CNN's Matthew Chance has details now, and a warning, his report contains some graphic images.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): It's horrific attacks like this one on a Ukrainian train station last year now reported to be prompting a first prosecution against Russia at the International Criminal Court.

Deliberately targeting civilian infrastructure, like this residential building and car park in the city of Kharkiv is a war crime under international law. Russia says it only hits military targets.

Russia also insists it does not abduct Ukrainian children, like the so-called evacuees from war torn eastern Ukraine shown at a Crimean summer camp. But latest reports suggest the International Criminal Court is set to prosecute Russia for this too.

Ukraine says thousands of kids are being held some separated from living parents and indoctrinated with Russian propaganda. Many event adopted by Russian families effectively stolen Ukraine says by the state.

But inside Russia, the scandal is cast as a humanitarian mission. But the National Children's Rights Commissioner, the person named Maria Lvova-Belova, discussing with President Putin their personal involvement.

Did you adopt a child from Mariupol yourself, Putin asks on state television. Yes, she responds, thanks to you.

But Putin and his subordinates have far more immediate worries than any eventual prosecution. At least growing grassroots opposition, if not to the war in Ukraine itself, then at least to how it's being fought.

Like these women from the Moscow region, standing up for their men sent to fight. Their sons and husbands were trained to use artillery the speaker says, but was sent to the front lines and used as storm troopers instead. Like lambs to the slaughter, she complains.

It is that kind of allegation of wrongdoing against Russians in this war. Not Ukrainians, to which the Kremlin may be far more sensitive.




VAUSE: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says his country's future will be decided on the battlefield in eastern Ukraine. The city Bakhmut is among those on the front lines where one deputy commander describes nonstop fighting at close quarters.

Ukraine says Russian forces are still trying to encircle Bakhmut. Zelenskyy thank those defending the city and fighting to save the country from Russian aggression.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): The situation in the east is very tough and very painful. We need to destroy the enemy's military power and we will. Belohoryivka and Maryinka, Avdiyivka and Bakhmut, Vuhledar and Kamyianka, and all other places where our future is being decided. Where our future, the future of all Ukrainians is being fought for.


VAUSE: The eastern city of Kupiansk (PH) is also being hit with relentless Russian attacks, prompting an urgent effort to evacuate more civilians.

Still hundreds of choosing to remain in that city, which Ukrainian troops took back just months ago, during a counter offensive. Here's CNN's Melissa Bell.


MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): This is what the war has left of Kupiansk, a city in eastern Ukraine that the frontline has never strayed far from. The police called by a civilian who found this, a cache of Russian ammunition. Six months after they were driven out, Russian forces now less than five miles away.

You hear those explosions, says the police chief, those are rockets flying towards the civilian population. People here are suffering. Yet overcoming the human instinct to run, Liuba and her husband refused to leave. Artillery destroyed their neighbor's house a month ago narrowly missing them.

Heard that noise, that noise.

The worst she explains is at night, so she and her husband hold hands. It keeps them safe. This is their home, she says, not the Russians. Besides, she says, it's getting warmer now with the rainwater they collect in buckets, they will survive.

Kupiansk was one of the most strategic wins of Ukraine's full counter offensives, but at huge cost. Now, with Russian forces closing in again, civilians are being evacuated to safer parts. Residents leaving Kupiansk and its neighboring villages with not much more than their keys, a heavy heart and the hope they will return.

Those left surviving as best they can. A city of around 27,000 now reduced to two and a half thousand, according to local police.

It's because the main market in the center of Kupiansk has been entirely destroyed, that this makeshift one has been created. The last couple of days we're hearing have been a little bit quieter. And that's why people here are selling what they can, while they can.

Of course, we're afraid, says Lida, who says she now knows the sound of artillery, both outgoing and incoming. We won't go anywhere, she explains. We're not rats, we won't abandon our city. If we do, who will take over?

The last civilians of Kupiansk determined like some of its buildings, not to be blown away by the shifting winds of this brutal war.

CNN, Melissa Bell, Kupiansk.


VAUSE: Pay day it seems for the AUKUS Alliance. The Australia, the U.K. and the U.S. have revealed details of a plan for new nuclear powered submarine fleet. The three leaders met in San Diego announcing a deal which we'll see Australia gain its first nuclear powered subs. This long term through a partnership is meant to deter Chinese ambitions and aggression in the Indo Pacific.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: United States can ask for no better partners in the Indo Pacific or so much of our shared future will be written, forging this new partnership, or showing again how democracies can deliver our own security and prosperity. And not just for us, but for the entire world.


VAUSE: China sees this all very differently. And for that, CNN's Kristie Lu Stout is live for us in Hong Kong. Harming peace and stability I believe are the words being used.

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Yes, and we are waiting fresh reaction from China. But Beijing has repeatedly expressed its firm opposition to the August deal, which is widely seen as a bid to counter China and its military ambition Indo Pacific.

Let's talk about this deal. You have the leaders of Australia of the U.K. and the U.S. unveiling this very ambitious plan to deploy --


VAUSE: We have some problems with signal there to Hong Kong and Kristie Lu Stout who is giving us the very latest details there on the Beijing reaction to what this deal actually means. It's the anti-China alliance if you like in many ways, and Beijing in the past has slammed that deal.

Of course, what this actually means in terms of the wider picture. Well, that remains to be seen. But in the meantime, here's Max Boot who is -- Max Boot I should say from columnist for the Washington Post.

Max Boot is a columnist for the Washington Post as well as a senior fellow for National Security Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Max, it's been a while it's good to have you with us.

MAX BOOT, COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST (on camera): Great to be here.

VAUSE: OK. So, according to an update to Britain's Foreign Policy Framework, China poses an epoch defining challenge to the type of international order we, as in the U.K., want to see both in terms of security and values.

Well, Russia, according to this review, is the most acute threat to the U.K. security, which is now intrinsically linked to the outcome of the conflict in Ukraine.

You know, this echoes what U.S. intelligence officials told lawmakers last week on Capitol Hill. But in terms of national security challenges, Russia was always sort of considered to be kind of like the weather. And China has seen more like climate change, if you like.

But in this review, China is sort of not branded as a threat to the U.K., essentially, for economic reasons.

So, can China threaten to close to you know, create global danger and disorders, this report that says and not be considered a threat?

BOOT: Oh, there's no question that China is a threat to the entire international order of which the U.K. is certainly a prominent part. I mean, all you have to do is think about what would happen if Xi Jinping were to try to take back Taiwan by force.

And of course, Taiwan is the source of most of the advanced semiconductors on which the U.S. economy, the British economy, a lot of other economies, they all depend on, on Taiwan. So we can't see that in danger, just looking purely at the economics of it beyond the larger political and geopolitical question.

So, you know, I think it's fair to say that Russia is the most immediate threat and certainly, for the U.K., being in Europe, Russia is the neighborhood threat. But China is a much more powerful country in the long term, and a larger threat in the long run, I think, to the international order, but not as acute and immediate danger as Russia poses.

VAUSE: I want you to listen to the U.K. Prime Minister with details on the increase to the U.K.'s defense budget. Here he is.


RISHI SUNAK, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: The U.K. is today announcing a significant uplift in our defense budget. We're providing an extra five billion pounds over the next two years, immediately increasing our defense budget to around 2.25 percent of GDP.

This will allow us to replenish our war stops and modernize our nuclear enterprise, delivering AUKUS and strengthening our deterrent.

(END VIDEO CLIP) VAUSE: You know, when confronted by an epoch defining challenges, five billion pounds, about $6 billion, is that enough? I mean, the Defense Secretary reported wanted to at least double that just to make up for budget cuts and inflation.

BOOT: Well, the U.K. probably does need to spend more, certainly the U.S. is spending more. But I would say by the standards of Europe, or at least the Western European states, the U.K. is doing pretty well.

I mean, Germany has announced the goal of two percent of GDP on defense, but it's going to take them years to get there. So, the U.K. is, is clearly doing more than its bid and the U.K. has also been one of the leading donors to Ukraine. So, I think that the British contribution is a good one.

But there's no doubt that British defense capabilities have atrophied over the last several decades. And that needs to be plussed up now that it's clear that we are under a new age of great power conflict and the U.K., the U.S. and other countries, we can no longer size our armed forces by the need to fight counter insurgencies in places like Iraq or Afghanistan, we need to be ready for a great power conflict.

VAUSE: A senior official with the U.S. State Department told CNN the Russia and China have clearly aligned themselves on propaganda and disinformation regarding the war in Ukraine. And the United States and the West have not invested enough over the years in countering such disinformation.

What are the real world examples here of how and where Russia and China are putting all of this into practice? And what is the target audience? Who are they specifically aiming to win over? And to what end?

BOOT: Well, there is evidence that Russian and Chinese propaganda primarily Russian has some impact. For example, you see the fact that in the U.S., about 40 percent of Republicans are opposed to aid to Ukraine, including former President Trump and Ron DeSantis, who is his leading challenger.

But I think, you know, the primary area where Russian and Chinese propaganda has an impact is in the developing world. And you see the fact that developing democracies like Brazil, Indonesia, South Africa, and others are not supporting Ukraine, even Israel isn't supporting Ukraine.


So, I think they are, you know, Russia in particular has been muddying the waters, complaining about Washington imperialism, suggesting that it's somehow a victim of the West even though it launched and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.

And sadly, some of this Russian disinformation is finding a receptive audience in the Global south.

VAUSE: Max, thank you very much. We really appreciate you being with us. Thank you.

BOOT: Thank you.

VAUSE: Let's go back now to CNN's Kristie Lu Stout in Hong Kong, because we were just talking about the reaction there from Beijing to this deal, this AUKUS deal with the new submarine fleet, the nuclear powered submarine fleet.

Kristie, I was doing a very bad job of trying to pick up from where you left off about the reaction there in Beijing. So, take it away.

STOUT: You know, it's live T.V., it happens. But let's bring our viewers up to speed here.

So, we are still awaiting fresh reaction from Beijing, but China has, you know, repeatedly expressed its firm opposition to the AUKUS deal, and it's widely seen that this deal is a bid to counter China and its military ambitions in the Pacific.

The leaders of the United States of the U.K. and Australia, they unveiled this very ambitious plan for a new fleet of advanced nuclear powered submarines. And under this plan, this is what we've learned, at the beginning of the next decade, Australia will receive at least three advanced submarines and the first batch it will receive American made Virginia class attack submarines.

And then a decade later, it will receive British design submarines containing American technology and then Australia will be able to use that design and manufacture its own advanced submarines without manufacturing to take place in Adelaide.

In the meantime, U.S. submarines, including the USS Missouri, would be able to rotate through Australian ports.

And earlier, we heard from the Australian Prime Minister who commented on the historic nature of this deal. Take a listen.


ANTHONY ALBANESE, AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER: The AUKUS agreement we confirm here in San Diego represents the biggest single investment in Australia's defense capability in all of our history.


STOUT: Now, AUKUS officials insist again, these are nuclear powered submarines, they will not carry nuclear weapons, but we continue to hear that firm opposition from China in regards to this deal on Thursday.

We heard this from the spokesperson, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Mao Ning who said we urge the U.S., U.K. and Australia to abandon the Cold War and zero-sum game mentality to faithfully fulfill their international obligations and engage in efforts conducive to peace and stability in the region. Now, this deal is likely to inflame further tension with China, we

learned that Australia did offer a briefing to China in regards to the AUKUS submarine deal. And also we learned that when U.S. President Joe Biden was asked whether he was worried about China's reaction, if China would see this as some form of aggression. He simply replied, no.

Back to you, John.

VAUSE: No. Simple. Kristie, thank you. Kristie Lu Stout live for us in Hong Kong. Appreciate it. Thanks for coming back.

STOUT: Got it.

VAUSE: The fallout after two major banks collapse in the United States, details what the government is doing to prevent wider financial chaos and contagion. That's next.



VAUSE: In the U.S., confidence in regional banks remains shaky despite assurances from President Joe Biden that America's banking system is safe.

Monday was a volatile day on Wall Street, as the stock price of dozens of regional banks plunged to record lows following the sudden collapse of the Silicon Valley Bank as well as Signature Bank.

First Republic shares fell by more than 60 percent, it's also briefly halted for volatility. Western Alliance was down by more than 45 percent and PacWest shares fell by over 20 percent.

The collapse is also impacting markets around the world. Right now in Asia, we see red across the board. The Nikkei down by more than two percent, Hong Kong down by almost two percent. Shanghai Composite down by about a percent. And Seoul KOSPI also down just a touch over two percent.

So, when the U.S. president promises to "Do whatever is needed to protect the U.S. banking system", what does that actually mean?

Here's CNN Phil Mattingly reporting in from the White House.


BIDEN: The bottom line is this, Americans can rest assured that our banking system is safe.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Biden seeking to reassure a nation on edge.

BIDEN: During the Obama-Biden administration, we put in place tough requirements on banks like Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank.

MATTINGLY: He also placed blame on his predecessor for contributing to this moment.

BIDEN: Unfortunately, the last administration rolled back some of these requirements.

MATTINGLY: Biden pointing to a 2018 law that eased some of the strictest restrictions on mid-size lenders, lenders like Silicon Valley Bank.

BIDEN: I'm going to ask Congress and the banking regulators to strengthen the rules for banks to make it less likely this kind of bank failure will happen again.

MATTINGLY: Biden's new regulatory push framing a new crisis moment --

BIDEN: Treasury Secretary Yellen and a team of bank regulators have taken action.

MATTINGLY: -- just hours after the administration's top finance officials triggered a dramatic show of dual-pronged government force. The action designed to halt financial contagion that threatened to rip through the bank system after the failure of Silicon Valley Bank. The bank's failure on Friday risking a cascade of events that threatened financial stability with a second bank failure Sunday and several more institutions on the brink officials said.

BIDEN: When we learned of the problems of the bank and the impact they could have on jobs, small businesses and banking systems overall, I instructed my team to act quickly to protect these interests.

MATTINGLY: Nine-three percent of Silicon Valley Bank's deposits above the $250,000 deposit insurance limit.

JANET YELLEN, TREASURY SECRETARY: I've been working all weekend with our banking regulators to design appropriate policies to address this situation.

MATTINGLY: Leaving thousands of small businesses and individuals at risk. BIDEN: I instructed my team to act quickly to protect these interests. They've done that.

MATTINGLY: But the speed of the crisis and a potential systemic effects marking a jarring term for an industry viewed as stable and well-capitalized.

BIDEN: There are important questions as to how these banks got into this circumstance in the first place. We must get a full accounting of what happened and why those responsible can be held accountable.

MATTINGLY: And setting the stage for an equally unpredictable political fallout in the days ahead as officials move quickly to try to separate their actions from the politically toxic bailouts of the 2008 financial crisis.

BIDEN: No losses -- this is an important point, no losses will be borne by the taxpayers.

MATTINGLY: Phil Mattingly, CNN, the White House.


VAUSE: Joining me now from San Francisco is Ryan Patel, senior fellow at the Drucker School of Management at Claremont Graduate University. Good of you to be with us.


VAUSE: OK, so here is the view from the Eurozone on the risk of contagion from this bank failure, listen to this.


PAOLO GENTILONI, EUROPEAN COMMISSIONER FOR ECONOMY: Well, we don't see a specific risk of contagion.

VINCENT VAN PETEGHEM, BELGIAN FINANCE MINISTER: For now, we have no indication that there is any risk that there is an impact on our Belgian -- on our Belgian banks.

BRUNI LE MAIRE, FRENCH FINANCE MINISTER: Calm down -- calm down. And just have a look at the reality. The reality is that the banks that you just mentioned, and they would say the French banking system is not exposed.


VAUSE: Never in the history of the world has telling somebody to calm down ever actually calm them down. Ask the people that Signature Bank, which was shut down by regulators over the weekend to prevent a broader collapse, or more than a dozen regional banks, which have been trading suspended as their stock prices tumbled.


And then there's this reporting from the people at Decrypt, BlockFi, Circle, Avalanche, Yuga Labs, and Proof among the crypto names that had exposure to the now shuttered Silicon Valley Bank.

So, when we start talking about contagion and the ripple effect here, this seems to be uncharted territory. Because of the nature of the banking and the high tech industries it's served, it seems it's kind of way too early to say everything's going to be fine.

PATEL: Yes, when you tell me everything's fine, I start to hyperventilate a little bit, because, you know, we just went through a Friday to Sunday, it was a big whirlwind of is the money going to be available or not.

And also, to your point, the economy has changed in the tech companies in Silicon Valley, the types of companies that invested in there, John, it's not just about diversification, many of the startups their whole account of many of these companies, I'm talking about millions and millions of dollars, were just in one bank. And that's what we cause this contagious of like, are people withdrawing money will make that impact.

And again, it's easy to save money outside saying Calm down, but obviously, when you see other people go and take money out, it causes this fear of more people to do it.

VAUSE: By essentially removing the limits on the amount that bank accounts are now guaranteed by this one action. And now the financial system, you can't take this back. So, it's essentially the government now providing banking for all? Is it now a government provided service?

PATEL: Well, I don't think they want to be in that role. I think they understood that they needed to do something and to step in, because let's be honest, John, if they did it, this thing would cause more fears. And you talked about it, like could this talk about to other banks. What this is -- how can this refrain from other people causing to call more deposits from other banks?

It isn't, you can't do it that way. They don't have as much as money if they get called in to that point. So, this is where the government stepping in and saying, maybe they're saying, tell everyone calm down that they're there and see how it falls out.

VAUSE: There's also the role played by the Fed and you know, its aggressive interest rate hikes after getting it wrong on inflation after the pandemic. I want you to listen to the chief economic adviser to Allianz.


MOHAMED EL-ERIAN, CHIEF ECONOMIC ADVISER, ALLIANZ: As the deposits went up, they put it into treasury bonds, and didn't think about what happens to the value of those bonds when interest rates go up.

You have a whole ecosystem that got used to this very accommodating liquidity situation.


VAUSE: How much responsibility does Jerome Powell have for the death of SVB?

PATEL: I mean, there's so much to unpack from that clip, John. Obviously, there is a portion of this comes there. But there's, you put money into the -- into the bonds to be able to create and lost money, let's just call it what it is.

So, there's a poor decision being made. I don't know which way that they were betting that what was going to happen to the Fed interest rate.

If they watched the show, the CNN NEWSROOM with John Vause, they would know that the interest rate was going up, and it was transitory.

So, I don't know where that mistake, where it falls onto. Obviously, people are going to be blaming Jerome Powell, obviously, like you and I both know that they he was slow to it. But these are mistakes that cannot happen in the industry where you are losing money when people were calling out. And that's what led to the downfall.

VAUSE: There is also the role of Twitter in all of this. You know, over the weekend, there are posts like this from deposit holders, you should be absolutely terrified right now, that is the proper reaction to a bank run and contagion. And then directly addressing United States president and the Treasury Secretary, you must get on T.V. tomorrow, guarantee all deposits up to $10 million or this will spiral into chaos.

You know, it seems that, you know, taking fear and panic, essentially making bank runs more likely, so that the government would step in.

I mean, this is a bank run in the era of social media. And again, we haven't really been down this road before.

PATEL: We haven't. And you know, John, I spent the day today here in Silicon Valley. You know, last week people did pull out money because others were doing. I'm talking about the companies, right?

A lot of the funds came out and other banks were like, well, CFOs are making moves, they don't want to take chances. And then you see this run on social media, where this -- it was obviously it was from other people seeing what was happening. We just haven't seen anything like that where portfolio companies are telling their companies to take their money and make the run out. That's kind of unheard of. Because when one fund does it, another fund does it, it's kind of a trickledown effect.

And again, it's very -- you know, social media is very powerful. You know, you see it on there, and it could be a run. And that's why I think the government is like you said, government stepped in to stop it. Because who said that there's not going to be run in another bank.

VAUSE: Yes, this is when we need regulation. But we'll see what happens. Ryan Patel, thank you.

PATEL: Thanks, John.

VAUSE: Still to come, California about to hit by heavy rain and flooding again, such as the West Coast bracing for extreme weather. We'll have U.S. forecasts, that's coming up.


VAUSE: Welcome back, everyone. I'm John Vause, You're watching CNN NEWSROOM.


Malawi has declared a state of disaster in the aftermath of Cyclone Freddy. The storm spanned Southern Africa on Friday, killing at least 99 people in Malawi alone.

There are fears the death toll will rise with ongoing heavy rain. Some reports of landslides and flash flooding.

In neighboring Mozambique, authorities say at least ten people are dead, after more than a year's worth of rain fell in just four weeks. This comes as emergency crews were dealing with the aftermath of the first time Freddy made landfall in Mozambique, late last month.

More wet weather forecast in California, which comes as the state is dealing with major flooding.

CNN's Veronica Miracle reports now from Monterey County.


VERONICA MIRACLE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Storm-battered California is getting hit by another atmospheric river, more than 18 million people under flood alerts.

MAYOR TYLER WILLIAMSON, MONTEREY, CALIFORNIA: We're dealing with this tropical Pacific atmospheric river, which we call the Pineapple Express, and it's caused a significant amount of rain and wind gusts that have gone up to 55 miles per hour.

MIRACLE (voice-over): At least 11 such river events have hit the U.S. West this winter. Late last week and over the weekend, some places across California saw over a foot of rainfall.

WILLIAMSON: And with the ground already being saturated from previous rainfalls, and this one hitting as hard, you know, our team has been prepared as possible, but we weren't expecting it to be as bad as we're seeing it.

MIRACLE (voice-over): This drone video shows flooding in the central coast region of California after the Pajaro River breached a levy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Our worst nightmare came true. We had failure at the levee. And we knew that if there was failure at the levee that it would inundate, you know, the community of Pajaro.

MIRACLE (voice-over): Now, Monterey Peninsula residents could soon see themselves on the virtual island cut off from the rest of the county by the floodwaters.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When we give you an order to get out, please get out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fire department.

MIRACLE (voice-over): This Ring video shows firefighters going door to door, trying to wake people in the area, warning them that, if they didn't leave, they could get trapped.

CURTIS RHODES, CAL FIRE: Some of the water that comes across the road is about 4 to 5 feet right now and the standard vehicle could not cross the road.

MIRACLE (voice-over): Another evacuation order for people living along some areas of the San Joaquin River.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's going to get higher. It's going to be higher this time.

MIRACLE (voice-over): From excessive rainfall to heavy snowfall, people living near the Sierra Nevada Mountain range are dealing with a deluge of snow, leading to dangerous road conditions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That was a white-knuckle experience.

MIRACLE (voice-over): The heavy snow even causing a South lake Tahoe store's roof to collapse.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We knew that there was a lot of snow on the rooftops, but I just didn't expect it, because we didn't hear anything.

MIRACLE: The Monterey County sheriff tells me that here in Pajaro, the water level has receded about a foot over the last 24 hours, but, with this next storm coming in, they anticipate the water level will go back up to that level or even higher. They are also expecting to do a lot of rescues in the next few days.


Veronica Miracle, CNN, Pajaro, California.


VAUSE: CNN meteorologist Britley Ritz has more on that storm in California. Also, a major storm in the Northeast -- Britley.

BRITNEY RITZ, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, absolutely. A lot to talk about, John.

We are just getting in light to moderate rain right now across the coastline of California. But this is going to pick up in the upcoming hours, and we're expected to receive another 1 to 2 inches of rain through Wednesday. Isolated higher amounts are definitely possible, especially along the coastlines, and you'll see that.

Highlighted in red, we have that excessive rainfall outlook on Monday overnight on the Northern coastline of California, then stretching down through the Southern foothills of the Sierra Nevada, parts of the San Joaquin Valley and canyon, and then right on down the Southern coastline.

We have a higher risk of flooding in elevations that are roughly about 5,000 feet or lower when we tie in the rainfall on top of the melting snow.

So there we have the forecast showing you the heavier rain expected to roll through on Tuesday. And, then of course, we ride up into new England, where the Nor'easter is expected to bring in quite a bit of snow through the higher elevations here. And flooding along the coastlines. So there you'll see that heavier snow ramping up on Tuesday afternoon and into the evening, wrapping around. Boston may even see snow.

Snowfall totals, expect them over 2 to 3 feet in parts of the Adirondacks, as well as the Catskills. And with that, 2 to 3 inches per hour.

And then that's heavy snow with the wind. So, we're talking winds of 40 to 65 miles per hour with a heavy compact snow. Widespread power outages will become a big issue, John, across New England here in the upcoming days.

VASE: Britley, thank you. We appreciate the update.

Well, still to come here on CNN, recognizing same-sex marriage in India heading to the country's highest court. A major milestone for LGBTQ rights, despite official objections filed by the government.


VAUSE: Next month, five senior judges in India will hear final arguments in a landmark case, seeking legal recognition for same-sex marriages.

CNN's Vedika Sud reports on why this is being seen as a milestone for LGBTQ rights, despite government opposition.


VEDIKA SUD, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Abhay and Supriyo are building a life together in Hyderabad. And like many couples committed to each other for several years, they decided to marry.

They say the ceremony two years ago, though it wasn't legally binding, was almost a dream wedding, except for the many precautions they had to take.

SUPRIYO CHAKRABORTY, CASE BEFORE SUPREME COURT: You will not believe that our guest list, I took almost six months to plan our guest list, whom to call and not to call. Right? And all the guests, I would say, almost 90 percent of guests, they were in house. You don't need to go out or the gates should be locked. There was police protection. There was bouncers. Because we didn't want to take any risks.


SUD (voice-over): The couple says they want to legally marry without fear, with the same rights as heterosexual unions. So they filed a lawsuit, which along with several similar petitions, went before India's Supreme Court Monday.

NIHARIKA KARANJAWALA, LAWYER: The honorable court was pleased to issue the matter to a five-judge for consideration, and the matter will next be taken up on the 18th of April. SUD (voice-over): There are hopes in India's LGBTQ community that the

court will build on its historic 2018 decision that decriminalized consensual gay sex and now rule to legalize same-sex marriage.

But that faces strong opposition from religious groups and the Indian government, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, which says it recognizes many forms of relationships, but legal marriage should be between a men and women.

That's something couples like Abhay and Supriyo say needs to change.

ABHAY DANG, CASE BEFORE SUPREME COURT: Do we have the right -- like, something happens to me, does he have the right to inherit? Something happens to him, do I have the right to inherit? No.

So in the eyes of the law, whatever basket of rights marriage provides, which heterosexual couples completely take for granted, for us, as same-sex couples, we did not have those rights.

SUD (voice-over): Many activists say Asian countries are far behind the Western advancing LGBTQ rights.

In 2019, Taiwan legalized same-sex marriage. South Korea hasn't recognized it. But a court recently ruled that same-sex couples could get equal health benefits.

Last year, Japan upheld a ban on same-sex marriage but said same-sex families deserve legal protection.

So there has been incremental progress in the region, including in India. But many people say it's not nearly enough.

ANJALI GOPALAN, NAZ FOUNDATION TRUST: What happened with the 2018 judgement is that homosexuality has been decriminalized, which means the community's no longer seen in the same bracket as criminals, which is murderers and thieves, and all of that. However, no other rights have been granted to the community.

SUD (voice-over): Those rights are once again under review in India. Abhay and Supriyo say they have hope for the future that their case before the high court in the land will one day give them the basic rights they feel every married couple should have.

Vedika Sud, CNN, New Delhi.


VAUSE: Seems jailed Russian opposition activist Alexey Navalny knows all about the Oscar win for the CNN documentary based on his life. The film, "Navalny," which explored the plot to kill the outspoken Kremlin critic, won the Oscar for Best Documentary at Sunday night's Academy Awards. His daughter spoke earlier with CNN's Erin Burnett.


DASHA NAVALNAYA, ALEXEY NAVALNY'S DAUGHTER: Yes, I can confirm that he knows that we won an Oscar. It's still crazy to say out loud. But I'm sure that he's incredibly happy.


VAUSE: Navalny currently serving a nine-year sentence at a maximum- security gulag East of Moscow.

I'm John Vause, back at the top of the hour with more CNN NEWSROOM. But first, after the break, WORLD SPORT starts.

I hope to see you back here in just under 17 minutes.