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CNN International: Turkish Elections; Zelenskyy Secures Weapons from UK for Spring Offensive; Moscow: Two Russian Commanders Killed in Donetsk Region; Is this Vote Erdogan's Biggest Political Challenge Yet; Rising Prices Pushing some Moms Out of the Workforce. Aired 8- 8:30a ET

Aired May 15, 2023 - 08:00   ET



MAX FOSTER, CNN HOST: Hello and welcome to CNN "Newsroom", I'm Max Foster in London. Just ahead Turkey's Presidential election appears heading for a runoff first. Longtime President Recep Tayyip Erdogan looks unlikely to secure an outright majority of the vote. We'll have a live report from Istanbul. Ukraine's President makes a surprise stop in the U.K. after a series of visits with other European allies.

A look at what he is discussing with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. And one of the strongest cyclone to ever hit Myanmar cuts communications in coastal areas. It leaves millions leaving out. The ballots are still being counted but Turkey's most consequential Presidential election in decades appears to be heading for a runoff.

Preliminary results show Recep Tayyip Erdogan the increasingly authoritarian leader who's ruled his country for 20 years is leaving, but he's just below the 50 percent threshold needed to secure now, an outright victory. CNN's Jomana Karadsheh joins me now live in Istanbul. So this is probably going to run off. Where does that leave the two contenders here?

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, that's what it looks like at this point, Max, the electoral board saying that they've counted more than 99 percent of the ballots that were cast. And so far, they have President Erdogan of 49.40 percent, followed by Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the opposition's candidate of 44.96 percent.

So the most likely scenario here with neither of them, especially if you look at President Erdogan's number, not achieving that 50 + 1 that was required to win the Presidency. It is most likely headed to a runoff in about two weeks' time on May the 28th. And we've heard from both sides saying that they are ready for this.

The opposition just a short time ago, the main opposition party, the CHP coming out and saying that they are ready for this runoff, as we heard from their leader yesterday as well. But if this is the will of the Turkish people, they are ready for this, but they're also trying to continue to sound hopeful and optimistic.

But this no doubt, Max, has been a big blow for an opposition that for the first time came together under this unified banner of a coalition of the people that they were presenting one candidate to try and unseat President Erdogan. And there was really this feeling that they might have that chance of doing so.

And they were promising people change, they were promising to take this country back to being a real democracy, trying to reverse years of President or the wands rule. And you had a lot of people who were really optimistic about this coalition seeing they unified, seeing them more galvanized than ever.

And right now, a lot of people are disappointed. And on the other side, you've got President Erdogan, who is not used to losing 20 plus years of being at the top. And you know, while he hasn't secured that 50 percent, while this is a likely scenario where it is heading towards a runoff, but again, they're still counting the rest of the ballots.

This for President Erdogan as well is when, Max, because if you look at the situation in this country, you look at how unhappy many Turks have been with his leadership. There was a lot of speculation that this might be it, this might be Erdogan's last stand, as many heads described it, but he has managed to emerge from this.

At this point pretty much unscathed, despite the state of the economy that is blamed on his policies, despite the criticism that he and his government got following that devastating earthquake with the disastrous initial rescue response to that and the lack of preparedness.

You still look at these numbers, and he still has the support of about 50 percent of the country and what these results do tell us, Max, is what we've always known that this is a really divided country, and it's really a reflection of the polarization in Turkey.

FOSTER: OK, Jomana thank you so much for joining us with that from Istanbul back with you when we get more. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy meanwhile, on a surprise visits here to the U.K. where he got some British help ahead of Ukraine's anticipated spring offensive.

He met with Rishi Sunak at the Prime Minister's checkers state. The government says there to discuss weapons including a package of drones and air defense missiles that the U.K. is sending Mr. Zelenskyy spoke about the timing of the spring offensive too.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, PRESIDENT OF UKRAINE: We're really in need some more time. Not too much. We'll be ready, you know, in some time I want to be very honest with you. I can't share with you some days. I just don't want to prepare not for our friends, runoff secrets from our friends.

But there are some secrets from our neighbors. That's why we have to prepare and I'm here not only because of this support, but of course including this board. It will help us to be stronger.

(END VIDEO CLIP) [08:05:00]

FOSTER: The U.K.'s, President Zelenskyy's latest stop on a European tour. Here you can see him meeting with the French President Macron and power in Paris on Sunday. He also made stocks to Italy in Germany over the weekend. Clare joins me now with details on this. What new came out of the meeting today with Sunak?

CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, so the real new thing that he's pushing for is what he hasn't got yet, right? So he got his air defense missiles, he got these attack drones with 200 kilometer range. But you'll remember when he came back in February, he made this elaborate pitch, he presented a helmet of Ukrainian fighter pilot to the Speaker of the House of Commons calling for wings.

He said, for freedom. He wants these fighter jets. He still doesn't have them. But he was asked about this today. And he said that he expects some very important decisions in the closest time. We know that Ukraine had originally been offered Typhoon training by the U.K.

They have apparently backed away from that request and enough focusing on F-16s, which of course the U.K. does not have but the U.K. has pledged to help push for that to work with international partners and allies so that Ukraine can eventually get these NATO standard American built jets.

So that was one thing, I think you can see how urgent this is. Now, obviously, you hear him there. It seems like the counter offensive is imminent. This was 2.5, 4 countries in 2.5 days, much less pomp and circumstance and ceremony than we've seen on previous tours.

He really needs these weapons. He made that very clear. And this was also I think Max, about guarding against war fatigue, both inside Ukraine, and among the Allies, where we are seeing that creeping into political discussions. You saw him really it was a public thank you to the people of the U.K. whose tax dollars are paying for these weapons.

FOSTER: A big moment for Sunak as well, the first Foreign Head of State. He received a check as his country state in terms of the fighter jets that Zelenskyy's pushing for that's not a Sunak decision, is it? That's a decision that's being made across NATO Allies effectively.

SEBASTIAN: Right, so obviously the U.S. is where the F-16s are mainly produced, but the Netherlands has them as well. Other countries, it's not just F-16s, but that is what they're focusing on mainly. And I think this is where we see the same kind of decision making the same kind of calculations that come in to all these new weapons platforms that Ukraine get.

It's not necessarily so much about antagonizing Moscow nowadays, it's about the logistics. This is like the NATO Secretary General said a war of logistics. You can't just throw a new capability onto the battlefield and expect them to be able to manage it. This is why we're seeing training. This is another thing that we learned today the U.K. is going to start training Ukrainian fighter pilots this summer. So pretty soon, we're seeing some training going on and other countries as well. They have to do that first. And I think you know, at some point the Jets will follow.

FOSTER: OK, Clare, thank you very much indeed. Meanwhile, on the battlefield, Russia is dealing with setbacks. First, Russia's Defense Ministry said two commanders were killed in action in the Donetsk region of Eastern Ukraine Russia rarely announces such deaths.

This as Ukraine's Defense Minister says his forces have captured more than 10 Russian positions there Bakhmut. The months of fierce battles have left the Eastern Ukrainian city nearly empty and heavily damaged. Sam Kiley is on the ground in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine joins us with the very latest.

Take us through what's happening in Bakhmut then, Sam and this the preparations for this upcoming offensive?

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Max, I'm in Southeast Ukraine we're not saying whether or not we're in Zaporizhzhia, but we are monitoring what's going on in Bakhmut. We're very closely because in the last few days, what we have seen is a successful counter attack by significant numbers of Ukrainian forces both to the north and the south of that beleaguered city with complaints from the Wagner mercenary group.

That they fear being in circle concurrent with those attacks or as a result of those attacks. A claim by the Ukrainians reinforced or admitted to by the Russians that a brigade commander and at least two other colonels have been killed. Now we did see very senior commanders in the Russian Armed Forces being killed in the early stages of this war with which the Russians confirmed after a period of time.

We haven't seen that on the battlefield for some time now. And they of course, being celebrated as heroes of the combat. But I think that the Ukrainians will take away from what's going on in Bakhmut, a degree of satisfaction in that they're able to rattle and try to break the spirit of the fighting men of the Russian Armed Forces.

And indeed the Wagner mercenary group ahead of what they anticipate to be this much warranted offensive and of course, psychological operations are contributing to that including President Zelenskyy saying frequently that the offensive is about to happen, then saying we need a little bit more time keeping the Russians guessing.


But signaling to them that something very dark and violent is coming down the tracks at them is absolutely part of the softening up process ahead of the physical offensive, Max.

FOSTER: OK, Sam, thank you for joining us from Ukraine. Now a 70 year old American system has been sentenced by a Chinese court to life in prison on spying charges. John Leung who is also a Hong Kong permanent resident was detained in April 2021 in an eastern city Hong Kong has been notified and says it's following up.

Beijing hasn't provided any further detail. In China cases involving state security are usually handled behind closed doors. One of the strongest storms to have ever hit Myanmar has cut off communications to coastal areas. Cyclone Mocha say made landfall early on Sunday along the coast of Northwest Myanmar.

Winds of more than 200 kilometers per hour, knock down power lines up rooted trees and destroyed homes early reports suggest the damage is extensive. These Satellite images show the storm swirling over Myanmar and Bangladesh which was also hit by the cyclone.

Digital publisher Vice Media has filed for bankruptcy protection in the United States. A group of lenders is preparing to buy the company and as agreed to put up $225 million in credit. The struggling media group last month announced major restructuring plans and dozens of job cuts.

FBI says those platforms will continue to operate during the bankruptcy process. A fragile ceasefire between Israel and Islamic Jihad appears to be holding for now. It comes after five days of Israeli airstrikes targeting the militant group in Gaza. 33 Palestinians were killed.

Islamic Jihad fired hundreds of rockets towards Israel over four days killing two people there in Gaza. As you can see here, the damage to some areas is substantial. CNN Senior International Correspondent, Ben Wedeman is in Gaza City. Take us through it, Ben?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, well, it's been fairly quiet. Now since the ceasefire went into effect at 10 pm on Saturday evening, yesterday, there was, according to the local authorities. There was a now function of a technical malfunction of a missile that was fired in the direction of Israel.

The Israelis fired back at some positions, apparently one affiliated with Hamas. But by and large, as you can see, behind me, life is back to normal. You saw the schools are back in session. They were off the entire time during the five day round of violence. Now, we've been driving around the Gaza Strip today, what we saw is that people are in those areas where there were airstrikes.

They basically are trying to put their lives back together. And what's interesting is that we went to several locations where there were direct hits on homes, the assumption is somehow affiliated with Islamic Jihad. But the result was that in all the houses around those buildings, there was a lot of damage being done.

And there's a lot of anger among people who really are just caught in the middle in this conflict. We spoke to one man who showed us all the damage that was done to his house. And he said the only thing he had received was a bag of rice and sugar, and other foodstuffs and he threw it on the ground.

And he said how I am going to rebuild my house with 30 shekels or about $8 worth of groceries. So there's a lot of anger and resentment about the level of destruction that's been done here. And the fact that by and large, people are getting small handouts of aid, but in terms of rebuilding their damaged or destroyed homes, that help is not coming, Max.

FOSTER: Ben Wedeman in Gaza City. Thank you for joining us with that. Now still to come as Turkey's Presidential election is likely heading to a runoff, we'll discuss why the next two weeks might be President Erdogan's toughest challenge yet.



FOSTER: Is this year's votes, the biggest political challenge that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has ever faced while preliminary results from Sunday's Presidential election show him falling short of the 50 percent needed to win outright meaning that the country of 85 million people will likely face two weeks of political uncertainty that many say will lead to deeper financial turmoil.

Erdogan's critics blame him for the deep economic crisis, the country is facing. Turkey saw inflation hit 85 percent in October, and the devastating earthquake that hit the south of the country in February cause billions of dollars in damage of course. Erdogan was accused of mishandling search and rescue efforts in the areas affected.

Joining me over the phone is Galip Dalay, an Associate Fellow at Chatham House and a Doctoral Researcher at Oxford University as well. He joins me from Berlin, thank you so much for joining us. It's not over yet is it? It is very tight. Do you think Erdogan is weakened by this process and all of the economics that has led up to this point?

GALIP DALAY, ASSOCIATE FELLOW AT CHATHAM HOUSE: Well, I think the result of the yesterday business show that he has been weakened, actually he performed better than many anticipated, certainly much better than the polls has predicted. So He's almost there is resolved is 49.5 percentage, and for him to be the President, it needs to get over 50 percent of the vote.

And now the votes are going for the second round that will take place on 28th of May. And he definitely has psychological and numerical advantage over his rivals, who pulled around 45 percentages.

FOSTER: Who's he appealing to in particular? Who are his hardcore supporters that have managed to get him this vote?

DALAY: Well, he appeals to a broad base of conservative estimates and nationalists, and you know, the central white voters. So we are talking about a broad spectrum of the voters, but at the core of it are conservative and nationalist voters.

FOSTER: And in terms of the runoff, how do you expect that to play out then, in terms of, you know, the, you know, the voters that won't have a choice, you know, there will be two candidates, obviously, when it comes to runoff, there will be some remaining votes, where will they go from the you know, third candidate, for example?

DALAY: Well, the third candidates in the first round of these elections were far wide and nationals candidates. So it's very difficult to predict exactly how his voting sport will be split up by between the President Erdogan and his rival opposition. They came out to a thorough look, but we know that, part of these votes will go to Erdogan; part of these votes will go to Kilicdaroglu.

And that gives quite a comfortable advantage to President Erdogan as he only needs half a percentage point in order to make it to 50 percent whereas his can his rival needs to get at least five percentage point to make it to 50 percent.

FOSTER: People in other countries will look at his tenure and look at 20 years is an extraordinarily long period of time for any head of state to remain in power. Is any discussion about limiting that term of Presidents?


DALAY: While the Constitution already did it with the new constitutional structure, a President can only serve two terms. So that means this is the advance last term in power as the President, according to constitution. But in his in his previous years, particularly before the 2014, he served as the Prime Minister in country.

And Turkey changed the political system from the parliamentary to presidency in 2017. And according to the constitutional that was produced, then one person can only serve two terms as President.

FOSTER: OK, will wait to see whether or not there is suddenly a result or whether it does indeed go to a run off. Thank you very much indeed for joining us Galip Dalay. Now coming up, the soaring costs of child care is pushing American women out of the workforce but there's a movement that's hoping to change that we'll have details.


FOSTER: Soaring child care costs in the U.S. are having a devastating impact on many women pushing a growing number of mums out of the workforce. CNN's Natasha Chen explains why the COVID 19 pandemic and inflation have exacerbated an already existing crisis.


NATASHA CHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Let's pick out a book Bri Dwight says a nanny used to cost $15 an hour when her first daughter was born five years ago. Now with her new baby it's at least $25 an hour.

BRI DWIGHT, WORKING MOTHER (ph): It lights the moon.

CHEN (voice over): The U.S. Department of Labor says the median cost of childcare can range from more than $5,000 a year in small counties up to more than 17,000 a year in very large counties. That can mean nearly a fifth of the median family income in the U.S. per child.

DWIGHT: At first I couldn't believe it but then you know when you go to the store and see a loaf of bread is $7 that kind of makes sense.

CHEN (voice over): Dwight is lucky she receives $7,500 a year in child care subsidies from her employer soap manufacturer Dr. Bronner's. Even social have used at all by mid-year due to high costs. Nearly 16,000 providers permanently shut down their facilities during the pandemic.

According to a report from the nonprofit Child Care aware of America, then the so called Great Resignation of workers quitting for better paying jobs coupled with soaring inflation, pushed up the price child care providers need to charge.

DWIGHT: We wouldn't be able to pay $15 an hour and know that they can afford a place to live.

CHEN (voice over): The cost of operating is up at Sanderling Waldorf School in California, where they offer tuition assistance to eligible families.

CHEN (on camera): I'm going to show you the tricky ones.

ANDREW UPRICHARD, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR AT SANDERLING WALDORF SCHOOL: But actually, what we're finding is that gap is too big. And actually we're losing families because of--

CHEN (voice over): Decreasing child care costs by 10 percent could result in up to 2.5 percent more mothers in the workforce, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce.

JEFF MCADAM, COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR AT TOOTRIS: And the child care programs started to close down left and right. These working parents especially moms were sidelined and they don't get included in the unemployment numbers.

CHEN (voice over): Jeff McAdam is with -- a platform for finding child care and administering child care benefits. He says their partnerships with companies offering the subsidies shot up 500 percent last year.


In April, President Biden signed an executive order calling on federal agencies to try to lower costs and expand access to child care for their workers. And the Recent Chips Act tries to draw semiconductor business to the U.S. by letting them qualify for over $150 million of federal funding only if they have a plan for employee access to child care.


CHEN (voice over): MiraCosta College prepares students for those semiconductor jobs, but saw a drop in female student enrollment since the start of the pandemic.

KUROKAWA: I suspect that a lot of them discovered that by staying at home they were saving an awful lot of money.

CHEN (voice over): So the college is partnering with -- too and got a grant to offer some child care subsidies beginning this summer.

ANDRIANA GONZALEZ, WORKING MOTHER: --my job with a 3d printing.

CHEN (voice over): Adriana Gonzalez is MiraCosta alum.

GONZALEZ: I'm a single mom.

CHEN (voice over): She was still paying for after school care for her son when she first enrolled.

GONZALEZ: Even for the Boys and Girls Club that it was 50 back then now is like 230. I couldn't study I was thinking about my eviction notice.

CHEN (voice over): Now she makes more money as an engineering technician and can breathe a little easier. The hope is that future students can benefit from a little child care assistance. But even the best subsidies can only take parents so far.

CHEN (on camera): How do you make the rest of the year work?

DWIGHT: We just are going to be cutting back.

CHEN (voice over): Natasha Chen, CNN, Carlsbad, California.


FOSTER: A researcher in the U.S. state of Florida has set a new record for the longest time serving underwater on Saturday diving explore and Medical Researcher Joseph Dituri, spending his 74th day in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Key Largo. He's been living at this lodge 30 feet below sea level since March the 1st and he plans to stay there until June the 9th which would be his 100th day underwater.

Unlike a submarine the lodge doesn't have technology to adjust for the increased pressure on the water. That's what Dituri is studying how his body responds to long term exposure to this extreme environment.


JOSEPH DITURI, DRIVING EXPLORER: The idea here is to populate the world's oceans to take care of the world's oceans by living in them and really treating them well. Not necessarily oh just make another record.


FOSTER: Thanks for joining me here in London, I'm Max Foster. "World Sport" with Amanda is up next.