Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Newsroom

CNN International: Russia Accused of Downing U.S. Drone; Snow, Rain and Flooding Pummel U.S. Coasts; Lingering Impact of U.S. Bank Failures; FAA to Hold Meeting to Address Near-Collision Incidents; U.S. Police Prepare for Next Mass Shooting. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired March 15, 2023 - 04:00   ET



BIANCA NOBILO, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and a warm welcome to our viewers joining us in the United States and all around the world. I'm Bianca Nobilo.

MAX FOSTER, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Max Foster joining you live from London. Just ahead on CNN NEWSROOM.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This's the United States property, we obviously don't want to see anybody getting their hands on it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This type of behavior from the Russian pilots is uncommon and unfortunate and unsafe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We didn't have snow all winter long and now we've got the biggest storm of the year.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This snow has been very heavy, very wet and very dense. It's sticking to all the trees and to all the power lines as well.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the wake of this banking crisis even as it seems to have been receding from the brink, there is a recognition that perhaps the Fed will have to change course.


ANNOUNCER: Live from London, this is CNN NEWSROOM with Max Foster and Bianca Nobilo.

FOSTER: It's Wednesday, March 15th, 8:00 a.m. here in London, 4:00 a.m. in Washington, where White House officials say the U.S. is taking steps to ensure that an air force drone hit by Russia in the Black Sea doesn't end up in the wrong hands.

NOBILO: The Pentagon says Russian fighter jets intercepted the surveillance drone on Tuesday flying near it for 30 to 40 minutes before forcing it to crash.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BRIG. GEN. PATRICK RYDER, PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: Based on the actions of the Russian pilots, it's clear that it was unsafe, unprofessional. What we saw again were fighter aircraft dumping fuel in front of this UAV and then getting so close to the aircraft that it actually damaged the propeller on the MQ-9. We assessed that it likely caused some damage to the Russian aircraft as well.


FOSTER: U.S. European command says the drone was conducting routine operations over international waters and the White House calls the actions of the Russian pilots reckless.


JOHN KIRBY, U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL: I mean, somebody could have gotten hurt. Nobody wants to see that happen. And it could lead to miscalculations between, you know, two militaries that are operating not obviously in Ukraine together but certainly in proximity in the region. And we don't want to see the war escalate beyond what it has already done to the Ukrainian people and so this is clearly -- this was inappropriate, unsafe, unprofessional conduct by the Russian pilots.


NOBILO: Russia's defense ministry denies its jets ever came into contact with the MQ-9 Reaper drone. Moscow's ambassador to Washington says Russia does not want confrontation with the U.S. CNN's Oren Liebermann reports that this isn't the first time that American drones have flown in the area.


OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: All of this plays out early Tuesday morning in international air space over the Black Sea when the U.S. says its MQ-9 Reaper drone was intercepted by two Russian Sukhoi Su-27 fighter jets. That part is not that uncommon. These sorts of intercepts have happened in the past.

What is extremely rare is what happened as it played out over the course of 30 to 40 minutes. The Russian fighter jets according to the Pentagon repeatedly flew around and in front of the U.S. drone, dumped jet fuel in front of it and even collided with it damaging the propeller and forcing the U.S. to take down its own drone in international waters in the Black Sea.

Now the National Security Council's coordinator for strategic communications John Kirby told CNN that the U.S. took steps to protect its equities, but it's unclear exactly what that is, whether that was some sort of self-destruct or some other step to protect it.

Now the drone has not been recovered partially because at least there is no U.S. Naval asset in the Black Sea to have carried out such a recovery. So the U.S. took some step to protect its own equities, this MQ-9 Reaper drone. But again, unclear what that is. Much of the response so far has been in the diplomatic lane. The U.S.

summoning the Russian ambassador to the U.S. and carrying out at least a 30-minute conversation at the State Department. Russia giving an entirely different version of events saying that there was no collision, there was no Russian jets firing at that U.S. drone. But Russia saying that it does not want confrontation. So at least it looks as if the response to this right now will be in the diplomatic lane.


The National Security Council saying it will repeatedly and again, continually as it sees fit fly surveillance drones and other assets in international air space as it has the right to do as the Russians have the right to do. So, the U.S. saying that it will continue to do what it has done and will do which is fly in international air space in the Black Sea. We will see how this develops at such a sensitive time.

Oren Liebermann, CNN, in the Pentagon.


NOBILO: CNN's Salma Abdelaziz is here with more. Oren was just saying it is a sensitive time, of course, and one of the significant elements of the story is the fact that it's the first time that U.S. and Russian aircraft have come into contact since the beginning of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Obviously, the U.S. very concerned about escalating this conflict further. How have the Russians responded?

SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN RESPONDENT: Well, they have a very different narrative of events. They say no physical confrontation took place whatsoever over the Black Sea. The Kremlin says that it detected an intruder over the Black Sea -- that's their language -- and that Russian jets in the area were then scrambled, that they intercepted, saw that the drone in whatever form and that the drone went into an unguided flight without any physical contact with the Russian jet and because of that lowered its altitude.

And Russia is saying that it's the United States that is be saving in a reckless way. It's the U.S. that was too dangerous. It's the U.S. that has no business flying so close to the Russian border. I want you to take a listen to how the Russian ambassador to the United States explained it.


ANATOLY ANTONOV, RUSSIAN AMBASSADOR TO U.S.: This drone can carry 1,700 kilos of explosives. This drone can carry a few bombs. What will be the reaction of the United States if you see such Russian drone very close for example to San Francisco or New York? What will be the reaction of the United States? For me it's clear.


ABDELAZIZ: Now, Russian officials also say that the drone's transponders were off and that was a violation of international norms and international standards. They say that they've already alerted the international community that this is a special military zone -- that's Russia's words course -- that Russia is using in its operations and they are clearly blaming the United States.

But the positive here is that both sides say they do not want a direct confrontation. Russia's ambassador was summoned to the State Department, there was a 30-minute conversation, at least a 30 minute conversation, that the Russian ambassador described as constructive. So, yes, absolutely concerned that this could happen again when you have both of these militaries of course operating in this extremely sensitive area. But it seems for now both Russia and the United States turning to those diplomatic channels to try to resolve the dispute.

It normally stays there, doesn't it? It doesn't normally blow out into the open like this. And their approach calls for dealing with these sorts of situations.

ABDELAZIZ: That's what's particularly I think interesting and maybe concerning about this situation. March of last year, there was an agreement, a protocol put into place, a deconfliction that essentially opens a channel of communication. Not to share intelligence of course or details about military operations, but to avoid incidences just like this. And there's a precedent in place for this. This also happened in 2015 during the Syrian civil war and it seemed to work for a number of years to avoid that possibility again of Russian aircraft and U.S. aircraft colliding potentially over areas of conflict.

And it's also important to note that this is not unusual. It is common for U.S. and Russian aircraft to intercept each other over the Black Sea. It has happened several times just in the last few weeks. So, it is concerning of course to U.S. officials and Russian officials that this happened, that this occurred despite these diplomatic channels, despite these communication channels. But there is hope I think and an indication from both sides that this will be resolved in the future.

FOSTER: OK, Salma, thank you.

NOBILO: It is interesting when we turn our attention to the recovery of this drone. So obviously, the Reaper drones I think cost around $32 million each. But also the Russians will be keen to get their hands on that technology because it's the surveillance technology that's being used to identify, you know, and scout sensitive Russian targets in the war and pass that information to Ukraine.

FOSTER: And any weaponry, that was a suggestion as well, wasn't it.

Now hundreds of thousands of people in Western and Northeastern United States are without power after both regions got hammered by separate storm systems. In California, 43 out of the state's 58 counties are under a state of emergency. The full destructive power of the winds was on display on Tuesday when a tree fell on a house in Redwood City.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I started to tell him it looks like it's leaning. There it goes. There it goes. Oh, my God. Oh! Anyway, there goes my neighbor's house.


NOBILO: No one was inside the house at the time and no injuries were reported.


The rain and snow causing water levels to rise above flooding stage along some rivers and officials are worried about mudslides damaging homes. Residents are doing what they can to protect themselves.


ROBERT FAMBROUG, RESIDENT: Right now, I'm trying to drain my water away from trying to get to my shed and my cabin. I have no thoughts, just trying to survive.


NOBILO: On the other side of the country a nor'easter is on its way out, but it is leaving behind a lot of snow. CNN's Derek Van Dam has this report from Worcester, Massachusetts.


DEREK VAN DAM, CNN METEOROLOGIST (voice-over): An intense nor'easter is bringing heavy snow, winds and coastal flooding across the Northeast.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We do expect that it's going to come back with a vengeance as a front comes through and pushes everything out that winds going to pick up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have about 2 to 3 inches falling every hour.

VAN DAM (voice-over): Parts of New York and New Jersey both under a state of emergency.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This could be a foot of snow. So, this is a meaningful storm.

VAN DAM (voice-over): The New York State Department of Transportation doing what it can to keep the roads clear.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: First of all, always keep an eye on the weather. Don't drive if you don't have to. When there's weather, you've got to give yourself time.

VAN DAM (voice-over): A Delta Airlines Airbus partially, quote, exited off a taxiway at a Syracuse airport, according to the company. Delta did not confirm if the incident was storm related. However, winter weather did cause a ground delay at LaGuardia Airport through the day.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, one delay after another, hopefully, we're not stuck overnight. VAN DAM (voice-over): Hundreds of thousands of people are without power across the Northeast, according to

CRAIG HALLSTROM, PRESIDENT, REGIONAL ELECTRIC OPERATIONS, CONNECTICUT & MASSACHUSETTS: Certainly never drive over a downed wire. You know, respect to crews and their work areas.

VAN DAM (voice-over): The winter weather forcing school districts in Nashua, New Hampshire and Western Massachusetts to close

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The biggest concern for the resident is to make sure they're staying home and they stay safe.

VAN DAM (voice-over): The nor'easter is forecast to continue over parts of the Northeast into Wednesday.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just get enough food to last a couple of days and dig out maybe, you know, next two days and then go from there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm alive in spirit and I love the snow. I love all the weather. I live in New England. Come on.

VAN DAM: Now that this system is going to pull away, we do believe that conditions will improve for the day on Wednesday. The sun may shine, but the threats still remains. Remember, heavy wet snow on branches could bring down more power lines and that means people won't necessarily have heat if they remain without power. I'm

CNN meteorologist Derek Van Dam from Worcester, Massachusetts. Back to you.


NOBILO: And meteorologist Britley Ritz has the latest forecast. Britley what can you tell us?

FOSTER: In the luxury of the studio.

NOBILO: Yes, like here.

BRITLEY RITZ, CNN METEOROLOGIST: We have already picked up feet of snow, Max and Bianca. I mean, some of these locations nearing 4 feet. 43 inches in Beacon, New York which is just south of Poughkeepsie. And I want to show you this, in Massachusetts, just 14 miles between Paxson and Shrewsbury -- 14 miles -- a 20-inch difference, Paxson 23 inches, 3.1 in Shrewsbury.

And we still have snow falling with this area of low pressure off the East Coast. Quite a bit of it falling in parts of northern New England this morning where it is dropping visibilities down now to roughly about 9 miles. But I've seen it as low as 7. So, visibility down, snow falling, slick roadway, travel just not advised out here.

Snow continues to fall through the morning and into the afternoon especially across northern New Hampshire and Vermont. These areas will likely pick up through the higher elevations another foot of snow on top of what we've already picked up. Widespread about another 2 to 4 inches. Regardless it is heavy wet snow. And when we factor in the wind gusts of over 50 miles per hour -- just as Derek was mentioning -- more widespread power outages are going to become a big problem because it weighs down the power lines. And also, likely to see some tree limbs breaking off and falling once again. So, keep that in mind too if you have to go out and about.

On top of it all -- we have quite a bit to talk about -- we still have that original AR, that atmospheric river, so flooding is still a big problem in areas in red. That's like moderate risk for flash flooding. Well, we have that along the foothills of the Sierra Nevada and down along the southern coastline of California this morning where areas have already picked up inches of rain. Daily records have been broken especially down toward L.A. and San Diego.

Flood watches are still in effect as of now. They will slowly start to expire through the morning. There's that heavy rain. A quarter of an inch an hour is expected in places like L.A. and down into San Diego. You will see the yellows, that's a heavy. That is going to be and on- going situation for the rest of the morning and that's when is expected to be at its heaviest. Once we move into the latter part of the morning local time and into the afternoon, that rain really starts to taper back and we watch this system continue to track farther east and all of the moisture here sets up for the threat of severe weather across parts of the southern plains here in the upcoming 24 hours -- Max, Bianca.

NOBILO: Our wonderful meteorologist Britley Ritz, thank you so much.


FOSTER: And we're also keeping a close eye on U.S. futures to see if they'll keep momentum from the day before. And this is how they are looking at the moment. But they are swinging around a bit.

NOBILO: Markets surged and bank shares rebounded on Tuesday capping several days of turmoil on Wall Street. It comes as U.S. federal authorities have launched an early investigation into the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank. Sources say the Justice Department and Securities and Exchange Commission are looking into the bank's failure and actions by senior executives.

Moody's, the credit ratings firm, says its downgrading its outlook for the entire U.S. banking sector placing six banks on review for potential credit rating downgrades. But there's some hopeful news for Americans worried about the bank failures. Because February's inflation data shows that prices have cooled off for eight straight months. Last month prices dropped to 6 percent compared to January's 6.4 percent.

Clare is here. I mean, there's so much to take in here, isn't there. We shouldn't get too excited about the markets rising because Moody's is saying that there is still a fundamental problem.

CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right, and if you look at European markets, they have opened down and of course U.S. futures are looking a bit mixed. We're going to see some volatility around this. There's other stuff going on as well. Here in Europe the ECB meets and they could raise rates. Again, with what the U.K. budgets. So, there's all that going on.

But meanwhile I think what Moody's has done is interesting because it shows that there are despite those emergency actions by the federal government which really did stave off so far at least more bank runs, there is still concern about the health of the banking sector as a whole. And especially as the Fed raises rates which given the inflation data that we got yesterday, despite it being lower for an eighth straight month on an annual basis, it still, in economists words, sticky. It still affects things that people use every day. The core inflation if you strip out food and energy is still -- it actually accelerated on a month by month basis. But there still sort of elements because it's still triple the fed's targets. So that did raise the likelihood certainly in the eyes of the market that the Fed will raise rates next week at least by a quarter percentage point. Every time they do that that increases the pressure on the bank's balance sheets.

FOSTER: Is there a chance, you know, you have this bounce back yesterday. Often it sort of falls more the next day because something comes along.

SEBASTIAN: Yes, and there's a lot of scrutiny on what happened at Silicon Valley Bank and the Justice Department now said to be investigating, the S.E.C. that's pretty standard. There's a bigger picture question which is gaining momentum around regulation. Could Congress reverse some of the roll back of Dodd-Frank that we saw under Trump. Lower the threshold at which banks in the U.S. are subject to things like stress tests, higher capital requirements, things like that. So, all of that is causing jitters. And as I said, you know, there are still some that the interest rate risk on bank's balance sheets in the U.S. is higher for example than it is in Europe. It's something that Moody's as also pointed out.

FOSTER: Clare, thank you.

NOBILO: After a rash of near collisions at U.S. airports, the Federal Aviation Administration will hold a meeting today to address all these dangerous close calls between aircraft. The Washington area event is set to bring together investigators, regulators and representatives from major airlines and labor unions.

FOSTER: The U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and acting FAA administrator Billy Nolan will deliver remarks. Aviation experts say reforms are needed.


MILES O'BRIEN, CNN AEROSPACE ANALYST: It's hard to figure out how to connect the dots except to say that this appears to be a system that is blinking red. Flashing red lights indicating that there is a system that is on the edge of something much worse. You know, there's an expression in aviation, the rules are written in blood. It's kind of a morbid expression, but the idea is that accidents lead to rules which make things safer.

Let's hope in this case we're talking about a series of near misses that ultimately lead to making things safer. The bottom line is that on the runway is a difficult place to be, it is a very challenging place to be, it's always been very dangerous. The FAA has focused on it for years. But it appears that people have gotten a little bit lackadaisical.

What we don't have the capability of doing in this country is adding concrete, making new runways, making more space for planes to land at these very busy airports. That's kind of a nonstarter in most locations. And that is where the choke point is right now. Let's hope that pilots, air traffic controllers and for that matter the ground crews redouble their efforts to make this safer.


FOSTER: Now the meeting is happening as we're learning about another near collision incident that happened at Reagan National Airport outside Washington, D.C. on March 7th.

FOSTER: A Republic Airways flight crossed a runway that United Airlines flight was using to takeoff. Listen to this exchange between the control tower and the United Airlines pilot.


CONTROLLER: United 2003, Runway 1, cleared for takeoff, traffic two out.

UNITED 2003 PILOT: Cleared for takeoff, rolling, United 2003.

CONTROLLER: United 2003, cancel takeoff clearance!


UNITED 2003 PILOT: Aborting takeoff, aborting takeoff, United 2003.


FOSTER: That was the 7th near collision accident since the start of the year. FAA investigating. But there haven't been collisions, so maybe the system is working.

NOBILO: Yes, so if you are a nervous flyer like me, you might be reassured to know that International Civil Aviation Organization has said that flying continues to become safer year on year. Apparently, the chances of being in an accident on a plane are one in 1.2 million, which I think is higher than I would like, but a fatal accident is 1 in 11 million.

FOSTER: And compared to the roads that nothing.

NOBILO: Yes, it significantly safer.

Facebook's parent company Meta plans to lay off another 10,000 workers this year marking the second round of mass job cuts at the tech giant in just four months. Between this round of layoffs and the 11,000 employees who lost their jobs in November, Meta has quickly cut its workforce by about 25 percent.

FOSTER: And thing about Meta sign is on hacker way. In a Facebook post on Tuesday, CEO Mark Zuckerberg explained the decision writing: Jus last year was a humbling wake-up call. The world economy changed, competitive pressures grew, and our growth slowed considerably.

At this point, I think that we should prepare ourselves for the possibility that this new economic reality will continue for many years.

NOBILO: And they continue to focus their energies on the metaverse. They think that's where they want to put their energies.

FOSTER: Yes, we'll see. Layoffs also coming for employees at Tyson Foods. The meat and poultry company says it'll cut nearly 1,700 jobs as it closes two plants in May.

NOBILO: Tyson says it's part of an effort to boost profits pointing to weakness in its poultry operations. The CEO said last month that the company is focusing on efficiency moving forward.

And with gun violence in the United States reaching staggering levels, police across the country are preparing for the inevitable next attack. An inside look next on CNN NEWSROOM.

FOSTER: Plus, a U.S. regulatory agency proposing a new rule to protect people from dangerous chemicals in drinking water. We'll have the details.

And this --


IMRAN KHAN, FORMER PAKISTANI PRIME MINISTER: They know that if I come to power, there will be held accountable so they don't want me alive.


NOBILO: Clashes in Pakistan as police try to arrest former Prime Minister Imran Khan. Details on the political turmoil ahead.




JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Ban assaults weapons, ban them again. Do it now. Enough. Do something. Do something big.


NOBILO: U.S. President Joe Biden calling out Congress demanding that they take action to reduce gun violence in America. His frustration was visible as he visited Monterey Park, California the scene of one of worst mass shootings in state history earlier on this year.

FOSTER: The president announced an executive order aimed at strengthening existing background checks while acknowledging the limitation of that measure if lawmakers can't come together to take some action.


BIDEN: Let's be clear. None of this absolves Congress the responsibility -- from the responsibility of acting. To pass universal background checks, eliminate gun manufacturers immunity from liability.


NOBILO: Police leaders have joined the call for new gun restrictions from Congress, but with the prospects of that looking increasingly slim, officers across the U.S. are preparing for what seems to be inevitable, the next mass shooting. CNN's Josh Campbell reports.

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Shots fired midday on a California college campus. The start of a rampage by an active shooter as students and teachers flee for safety, responding officers engaged the gunman. Following him into the school library. Police resources flood the campus by air and ground, specially trained S.W.A.T. officers begin arriving on scene.

Then the tactical teams in. An officer radios that the threat has been neutralized but the work is far from over. A calvary of firefighters and paramedics staging nearby rush in to triage and administer first aid. This is only an exercise. An empty college campus on spring break turned into a simulated warzone as police and first responders hone their life saving skills. This type of training has become the new normal in an age of endless mass shootings in the United States.

ROBERT LUNA, LOS ANGELES SHERIFF: We study them, we read about them and we learn what went well and what didn't.

CAMPBELL: The L.A. sheriff Robert Luna says continually planning for a mass attack is a reality for law enforcement in part due to inaction in Washington to regulate dangerous weapons.

LUNA: We do challenge our leaders at a national level to do more about guns, to do more about mental health so that we don't have to do this over and over.

CAMPBELL (voice-over): It's a sentiment that has been heard from police leaders across the country.

JERI WILLIAMS, THEN CHIEF OF POLICE FOR PHOENIX, ARIZONA: We're outgunned, we're outmanned, we're out staffed. We do need responsible gun legislation.

CAMPBELL (voice-over): A rare moment of bipartisan action did follow the tragic shootings last year at a supermarket in Buffalo and at Raab Elementary Uvalde, Texas, when 15 Senate Republicans and 14 in the house voted to support legislation expanding some gun background checks and dedicated millions to public safety programs.

But other measures pressed for by gun safety advocates remain perpetually stalled. Including national red flag laws, universal background checks and assault weapons ban. Many in law enforcement have long been advocating for a ban including the International Association of Chiefs of Police who say the criminal use of semiautomatic assault weapons pose a grave risk to our officers and the communities they are sworn to protect.

A group recommending college campus officers also support as ban on military style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines for civilian use.

JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: The irony is not lost on law enforcement, the very politicians who say they support the police and are against crime are the same politicians who deny us responsible gun reform legislation.