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Britain To Train Ukrainian Pilots, Supply More Missiles And Drones; Turkey Faces Runoff Election With Erdogan Leading; Palestinians Marks 75 Years Of Nakba Displacement; CIA Launches Video To Recruit Russian Spies; Biden And Congressional Leaders To Meet For Talks; Ukrainian Women Are The New "Rosie The Riveters"; Teacher Under Fire After Showing Movie With Gay Character. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired May 16, 2023 - 01:00   ET




JOHN VAUSE, ANCHOR: Ahead here on CNN Newsroom, fighter jet diplomacy. A three-day blitz of Europe by Ukraine's President ends with billions in military aid and promises of fighter jet training for Ukrainian pilots.

Turkey set for its first ever presidential runoff election widely seen as a referendum on democracy, which is not over yet. And four years and 305 pages later, and the Trump era special counsel who reviewed the investigation into the former president and Russia has some sharp criticism for the FBI.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Live from CNN Center. This is CNN Newsroom with John Vause.

VAUSE: Great to have you with us for another hour and we begin in Ukraine where the capital Kyiv has been the target of what officials say is an exceptional and complex air assault by Russia. The attack involves drone, cruise missiles and possibly ballistic missiles.

Local officials say air defenses intercepted the vast majority of the incoming strikes, but falling debris has been reported across a number of districts. And on the Eastern Front Lines, Ukraine's military says Russian airstrikes and artillery fire continue but there's been little movement.

There's also reports of heavy fighting around the battered city of Bakhmut with unsuccessful offensive offshore actions by Russian forces.

A three day diplomatic blitz of Europe by Ukraine's president has ended with promises of billions of military aid, as well as commitments to begin training cranial pilots to fly F15, their fighter jet of choice.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): We're returning home with new military help, newer and more powerful weapons for the front, more protection for our people, greater political support.


VAUSE: Volodymyr Zelenskyy made unannounced visits to Rome, the Vatican, Berlin Paris and finally the British Prime Minister's country residence at Chequers. Now that Britain or France operate F16. But they're willing to train Ukrainian pilots on how to fly them.

Both countries have ruled out supplying combat jets. The training could start in just a few months. It comes amid a growing debate within NATO, about providing Ukraine with combat air power. Here's CNN's Matthew Chance.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): The war in Ukraine may be at a turning point with Ukrainian forces reporting daily advances in the city of Bakhmut. With Russian positions they're apparently crumbling.

Now the extraordinary allegation carried in the Washington Post that this man, Yevgeny Prigozhin, the Russian Wagner mercenary leader, offered Ukraine intelligence on Russian military positions if Kyiv withdrew its troops from Bakhmut while Wagner has been fighting.

Prigozhin has vehemently denied it, releasing an audio statement accusing comrades in Moscow of trying to discredit it. Even Ukraine is dismissed any talk with its bitter enemies. The senior Ukrainian official telling CNN that if Prigozhin had been back channeling without the knowledge of the Kremlin, he would not be alive today.

But these are fraught times for friends of the Kremlin. One of its backers Alexander Lukashenko of neighboring Belarus, here at the Victory Day parade in Moscow last week, is rumored to have been taken ill, later appearing looking uneasy at a wreath laying ceremony in his capital Minsk.

And official in Belarus told CNN he is quote, absolutely fine. And now, new video said to be of Lukashenko at work as usual, inspecting air defenses. But rumors abound about the health of this aging, Kremlin backed leader.

Meanwhile, a senior Ukrainian official is calling President Zelenskyy's European tour a huge success. This latest leg with the British prime minister and his country residents were attacked drones and air defense systems were pledged.

RISHI SUNAK, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: I look forward to us discussing what more we can do to support you and your country.

ZELENSKYY: First of all, thank you very much you're supported already a lot for us. [01:05:00]

CHANCE: With British cruise missiles already delivered to Ukraine, Britain is now at the forefront of providing long range weapons. There was no promise of game changing F16 fighter jets from any European power. Still, a senior Ukrainian official tells CNN that in time, Ukraine will get the planes, the tanks and the long range weapons it needs to win this war. Matthew Chance, CNN, London.


VAUSE: David Sanger is a CNN political and national security analyst. He is also White House and national security correspondent for New York Times and author of the perfect weapon. David, welcome back. It's been a while.


VAUSE: OK, this was quite the diplomatic tour de force by Zelenskyy. He got new commitments of military aid from Germany and France as well as the UK. And he also got this. Here he is.


SUNAK: One thing we will be doing starting actually, relatively soon is training of Ukrainian pilot.

EMMANUEL MACRON, FRENCH PRESIDENT (through translator): We have opened the door to training the pilots. Training can start right now.


VAUSE: Is this kind of the precursor to actually getting the jets because either France or Britain will supply the F16 because they don't operate F16. But they're willing to train them up in this. And the U.K. once we thought of this Fighter Jet Coalition, which is a group of nations committed to getting the F16 is for Ukraine.

SANGER: That's right. And even if he doesn't ultimately get the planes, there's a psychological aid in making the Russians think that that could well be imminent. The fact of the matter is that the long pole in the tank here has always been that if he did get planes, he wouldn't necessarily have anyone around who could fly the remember the United States and the NATO allies are not putting their own personnel on the battlefield here or in the air. So it was critical that he get this going, even if those planes don't get delivered until next year.

VAUSE: So why is the F16 the Ukrainians fight each other choice?

SANGER: Well, it's their jet of choice because it was designed to take on the Soviet and then Russian military's more really the Russian military given the age of the plane. But the concept here is that at some point, this will move from being a trench for an artillery war to back being an air war. VAUSE: And all of this right now is building towards this Ukrainian counteroffensive, which seems to be imminent. It's been imminent for a while now. And on that he's President Zelenskyy.


ZELENSKYY: We 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 and I just don't want to prepare not for our friends. There are no secrets from our friends. But there are some secrets from our neighbors.


VAUSE: Last week, he said though, waiting for more weapons, more ammunition, even taking that at face value. I mean, is there a risk here of drawing this out for too long?

SANGER: There is some risk of withdrawing now. There are some people that believe, John, that the counter offensive has already begun in a small way as the Ukrainians test some of the Russian lines. There's some belief that they have to figure out whether or not they're going to really try to retake Bakhmut, which right now is 90 percent controlled by the Russians, or whether they really focus their effort elsewhere.

There are a lot of American military officials who believe Bakhmut was the long fight for them to expend energy. But I think though, the real question underway here is, can he mount a counteroffensive that moves the needle enough that it actually does force the Russians to consider a negotiation to end this war?

VAUSE: This was a remarkable sort of your diplomatic tour facility near Paris, Rome, met with the Pope of the Vatican, off to Chequers in the UK. It was also in Berlin. And here's the Ukrainian president speaking on Sunday.


ZELENSKYY (through translator): I would like to thank you, Olaf (INAUDIBLE) sincerely, and to German people for every saved Ukrainian life due to your support.


VAUSE: And he was thanking Germany for its biggest ever military aid package, almost $3 billion. That's a long way from the 5,000 helmets, which Germany donated in the lead up to the war. So what does this aid package say about the role Germany wants to play now in terms of European security, as well as resetting relations with Kyiv?

SANGER: Well, the Germans would like you to believe that this was a fundamental Turning Point and in many ways it was for them.

[01:10:04] They made good on their commitment to shut down any imports from Nord Stream 1 or Nord Stream 2 if the war broke out, if Putin went ahead and invaded Ukraine, they did that. Then they've got through this quite remarkable amount of aid.

The question is, do they now use that moment to go rebuild their military, something that the Germans themselves have an allergy to, but the rest of the West does not seem to be as concerned about? And of course, that goes back to all the lessons from World War II.

The other question is whether or not the Germans get aid fatigue, something that here in Washington is being discussed, as well. You have the far right of the Republican Party and the far left of the Democratic Party, agreeing for very different reasons that they do not want to have significant new commitments to Ukraine. And we just don't know whether or not that's going to continue or not.

VAUSE: It has been a lot of military aid, a lot of financial aid over the year a year or so. David, thank you so much for being with us. Appreciate it.

SANGER: Great to be with you.

VAUSE: Weekend election, which was widely considered to be a test of Turkey's democracy is not over yet. Voters led to the polls again in less than two weeks for the country's first ever presidential runoff. What appears to be the toughest challenge yet facing President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during his 20 years in power.

Well, Erdogan fell just short of the 50 percent threshold needed for outright victory. His support was much stronger than expected, given Turkey's current economic turmoil, rapid inflation, and much criticism of the government's response to February's deadly earthquake.

And it seems Erdogan has the advantage over his leading rival the opposition leader candidate Kemal Kilicdaroglu. He leads a coalition of six political parties and if elected has promised to move Turkey in a more secular direction.

Far right candidates in an Sinan Ogan received more than 5 percent of the vote and could play Kingmaker in the runoff. CNN's Jomana Karadsheh has our report.


JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voiceover) Supports of Recep Tayyip Erdogan took to the streets of Istanbul first a show of solidarity with their leader facing the toughest election of his 20 years in office, that soon turned into a celebration.

For his diehard supporters there is one man one cause and one Turkey that (INAUDIBLE) Recep Tayyip Erdogan. And in the early hours of Monday morning, Erdogan doing what he does best rallying his supporters.

In the capital Ankara, their man emerged to address his voters from the balcony of his ruling party's headquarters, where he traditionally delivers his rousing victory speeches. This is no victory for the Turkish president, but certainly a win for now. He failed to secure the 50 percent plus one vote majority to clinch a third term, but emerged with a clear lead over the main opposition candidate.

RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN, TURKISH PRESIDENT (through translator): Currently the majority in parliament is in our people's alliance. Therefore, we do not doubt that the choice of our nation which gave the majority in the parliament to our alliance will be in favor of trust and stability in the presidential election.

KARADSHEH: And the wind is behind Erdogan as Turkey now heads for a runoff. But the opposition insisting they still can do this.

KEMAL KILICDAROGLU, TURKISH PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (through translator): I am here. I am here. You are here too. I will fight until the end I swear and I know I will fight until the end. I am here.

KARADSHEH: It divers opposition more united and more galvanized than ever thought this time would be different. They believe they could unseat Erdogan that they could deliver change and deliver the promise of a return to a real democracy. A promise so many in this country so desperately wanted. In two weeks time, Erdogan and opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu will face off again. And this man Sinan Ogan could be the tiebreaker.

SINAN OGAN, TURKISH PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (through translator): We are certain red lines such as fighting against terrorism and sending refugees back. We have voiced these conditions before.

KARADSHEH: Ogan's 5 percent of the electorate is a combination of disenchanted nationalists and protest votes of those who didn't like the opposition's choice of candidate but irked enough about Erdogan to deny him their support, at least in the first round.

No election in this country's history has meant more for this divided nation where the two competing visions of Turkey are locked in a duel. And it will be the Turkish people who will ultimately decide which leader and which vision will prevail. Jomana Karadsheh, CNN, Istanbul.



VAUSE: Gonul Tol is the founding director of the Middle East Institute's Turkey Program, and author of "Erdogan's War: A Strongman Struggle at Home and in Syria." She is with us this hour from Washington. It's good to see you again.


VAUSE: You're welcome. Now last we spoke back in February, the earthquake had struck about a week earlier, we were talking about the government's response, which was way too slow, completely inadequate at the time, and what impact that could have on this coming election.

And yes, it's a close result for Erdogan but his party dominated in the earthquake quake hit region, he won all but one of the 11 provinces. And you know, the vote was close for president. He's painter has this majority in parliament, and he's heading into this runoff in a very strong position. So, what's your take on all this? How did he do so well, and what's likely to happen?

TOL: Well, you know, John, Turkey is not a democracy. It's become a competitive authoritarian regime, yet elections still matter, and the turnout was high. So that means that people still believe have faith in the electoral process, but in autocracies like Turkey, especially in personalist autocracies, where power is centralized in one man's hands, beating that an autocrat through elections is a very tough challenge.

And remember, Erdogan, he used, he mobilized all state resources use all the powers of an incumbent. Basically, the opposition candidate received 32 minutes airtime on state broadcaster while Erdogan receive 32 hours. So the level the playing field was heavily tilted in favor of Erdogan.

VAUSE: With that in mind, I want you to listen to President Erdogan just after the results came in. Here he is.


ERDOGAN (through translator): They know that they are behind by a wide margin. And they are now saying that they are leading, once again, deceiving the public, perhaps for the last time. We are not like them in front of our people. We have always been honest and sincere.


VAUSE: Yes, he can say that. Election observers noted that the vote was competitive. There was no interference as such on election day. Most of the problems they found happen long before Turks went to the polls, listen to this.


MICHAEL GEORGE LINK, OSCE SPECIAL COORIDNATOR: The incumbent and the ruling parties enjoyed an unjustified advantage, including through biased media coverage. So the verge genuine political alternatives, but limited by an unlevel playing field.


VAUSE: Is there any way to qualify -- quantify what that unjustified advantage would be? Is it possible, it was worth like the 5 percent that the main opposition party fell short of needing to cross that 50 percent threshold?

TOL: Well, again, media is controlled by Erdogan. 90 percent of Turkish media is controlled by Erdogan, so he can spin the narrative however he wants. After the earthquake, for instance, I was on the ground and I saw the frustration because of government's response and yet Erdogan because of the media under his control, change the narrative saying that it was God's will so he dominates the media environment entirely and he controls institutions.

So that's I think, and he also a Turkish jails are full of Erdogan's political opponents, one of the most popular one is Selahattin Demirtas. She is the former co-chair of the pro-Kurdish party. And in 2015, he challenged him and because of his success in 2015, the Erdogan's party could not capture a parliamentary majority. And he's been in jail ever since. So the playing field again was tilted heavily in his favor, and he used state resources.

VAUSE: There's also another third place far right nationalist Sinan Ogan. Here he is. Listen to this.


OGAN (through translator): We don't have to give our support to either of the parties. There is no such rule. When we first started this race, we thought we need to either win the government or we are going to be the kingmaker and we are at that status.


VAUSE: Which by his poll is likely to go will he be the kingmaker?

TOL: He will be the kingmaker and probably in the next two weeks, both Erdogan and opposition candidate Kilicdaroglu will try to secure his support. But it's going to be very tricky because his support is not really consolidated in the sense that they it was many of the people who voted for Sinan Organ, voted for him because they did not like any of the candidates. So it was protest votes.

So the trick is going to be whether he will be able to mobilize his entire base to vote for one candidate or the other. And one of the key takeaways from this election is this I think. Nationalism is very strong in the country and Sinan Ogan, he was a member of the far right party, and he mobilized the nationalist vote. So the next parliament is going to be the most nationalist, most conservative parliament in Turkey's history.


So the question is going to be, what were some of the conditions that Sinan Ogan set forth.

VAUSE: Gonul, we appreciate your insights and your analysis. It's really, really very much appreciated here. Thank you.

TOL: Thanks for having me.

VAUSE: Still to come on CNN, we've been here before the U.S. heading to default as Republicans play chicken with the debt ceiling. And in this time, a faction within the GOP seems willing to drive the economy off the cliff. Will they? Well that in a moment. For Israelis it's a day to celebrate Independence The same day for Palestinians is known as Al Nakba, the catastrophe. And we'll have more on that after the break.


VAUSE: A month of brutal fighting in Sudan shows no sign of letting up and despite global outrage, hospitals in the capital continue to come under heavy fire. CNN has delegated videos of the East Nile Hospital, which appears to been heavily damaged. According to the paramilitary group, the Rapid Support Forces, the hospital was hit by an airstrike by the Sudanese military.

The Army accused the RSF of occupying hospitals. It says it targeted allocation where weapons and ammunition were being stored. Still unclear how many people were injured or killed in the airstrike.

Well, Israelis have celebrated 75 years of independence, Palestinians have held somber ceremony so the same event, only they call it Al Nakba or The Catastrophe, when hundreds of thousands of Arab families who forced from their homes during Israel's War of Independence.

Thousands of Palestinians marched in the West Bank Monday to been in recognition of their right to return to their homes in what is now Israel. And this year for the first time, the U.N. officially commemorated the day at its headquarters in New York. Speaking at a special session, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called on the international community to protect his people.


MAHMOUD ABBAS, PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY PRESIDENT (through translator): The international community should shoulder its responsibility. It should in the aggression. It should provide international protection to the Palestinian people. We are being subjected to violence. Every day we are complaining, every day we are calling upon you, every day. Please protect us. Please protect us.


VAUSE: The recent fighting between Israel and Islamic Jihad militants in Gaza appears to be over, a week of rocket fired from Gaza in airstrikes by Israel killed 33 people in the Gaza Strip. In Israel, two people were killed one of whom was a Palestinian man from Gaza. CNN's Ben Wedeman has our report.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): Another father in Gaza has lost his son. As always happens here when calm returns, mourners come to pay respects for those who were killed. But 34-year-old Abdullah Hasne (ph) wasn't killed in an Israeli airstrike, rather shrapnel from a missile fired by Islamic Jihad from his native Gaza into Israel ripped through his chest and abdomen.

[01:25:10] Abdullah (ph) was one of around 18,000 Gazans to receive a permit to work in Israel. His father Gibreel (ph), also working in Israel rushed to the hospital. It was too late. Human kindness triumphed over the passions of war.

I found it made no difference to the doctors if we were Arabs or Jew, recalled Gibreel (ph). I asked them to help me get the procedures to take my son home and bury him. And they did.

Abdullah (ph) leaves behind a wife, four daughters and two sons. His children his family, a whole family of seven people is now destitute relative, Muhammad tells me. These Bedouin (ph) are pious people. They prefer not to place blame Abdullah's (ph) death they sang was God's will.

Spokesman for Islamic Jihad denied any responsibility. A short drive away residents survey the ruins of a large house bombed by Israeli aircraft. Inspect inspectors from the Ministry of Public Works gathering information on the destruction.

WEDEMAN (on camera): The neighbors say it wasn't a secret. This building belonged to somebody who was in Islamic Jihad missile unit. The building was destroyed on Friday evening. In the process, however, all the homes in this area were severely damaged.

WEDEMAN (voiceover): The blast shattered windows and toppled walls. The neighbors had nothing to do with missiles and don't know when or if help will arrive. Chadi's (ph) home is in shambles. He shows me all the help he's received so far. Bag of food worth a few dollars.

My house is destroyed, he shouts. A kilo of sugar and a kilo of flour. I'm going crazy. Can I fix my house with that? It's all madness. And they never get used to it. Ben Wedeman, CNN, Gaza.


VAUSE: Dozens remain unaccounted for at least six people I believe two died in a hostile fire New Zealand's capital Wellington. Fire crews were called to the hospital shortly after midnight local time, evacuating 52 people from the four storey building.

About 100 people were believed to be staying at the hostel. No word on the cause of the blaze but according to local reports police are investigating if it was deliberately lit.

Still to come, a Trump appointed special counsel releases his report on the FBI Trump Russia investigation. Details and the former President's reaction, that's next.



VAUSE: Welcome back. You're watching CNN Newsroom. I'm John Vause.

For the past four years, a special counsel appointed during the Trump administration has been reviewing the FBI investigation into links between Russia and the former president. His 305-page report has now been released and it's found a full blown investigation into the Trump campaign's ties to Russia should never been opened, but makes no new recommendations for criminal charges. CNN's Evan Perez has details now from Washington.


EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR US JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Special Counsel John Durham released his final report casting doubt about the FBI his decision to launch a full investigation into connections between Donald Trump's campaign and Russia during the 2016 election. The 300- plus-page report sharply criticized the FBI and the Justice Department throughout but does not recommend any new charges against anyone or any wholesale changes to the way politically sensitive investigations are being handled.

The report falls well short of expectations that were set by former President Trump and his allies who have long claimed that it would prove that the FBI investigation was a political witch hunt. Nonetheless, Donald Trump claimed vindication posting on his social media platform that it was evidence of a scam.

Durham's report finds many mistakes by the FBI including what he calls confirmation bias. He concludes that the FBI discounted or willfully ignored material information that did not support the narrative of a collusive relationship between Trump and Russia. Republicans in Congress have already called for Durham to come up to the Capitol for a hearing to discuss more about his investigation. Evan Perez, CNN, Washington.


VAUSE: So if you're Russian opposed to the war in Ukraine disgusted with Vladimir Putin, then the CIA wants to hear from you. The spy agency says the war in Ukraine has been fertile ground for collecting information from disaffected Russians and CNN's Alex Marquardt has the story.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translation): Is this the life I dreamed of? The path I chose?

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): Questions being asked in Russian in a new dramatic video by the CIA just released to try to recruit more Russian spies by appealing to Russians patriotism, frustrations, and the oppression they face under the Putin regime.

CIA officials told CNN in an exclusive interview that the war in Ukraine has created an unprecedented opportunity that they want to capitalize on recruit new Russian assets.

WILLIAM BURNS, DIRECTOR, CIA: Disaffection with the war will continue to gnaw away at the Russian leadership beneath a steady diet of state propaganda and practiced repression.

MARQUARDT (voice-over): In the past year of the war, the CIA has been encouraging Russians with valuable information to contact them quietly, securely and anonymously through a portal on the dark web.

DAVID MARLOWE, DEPUTY DIRECTOR FOR OPERATIONS, CIA: We're looking around the world for Russians who were is disgusted with that as we are because we're open for business.

MARQUARDT (voice-over): Instructions have been posted on the CIA's social media accounts. And this new video after making an emotional pitch to Russian viewers details how to do that using the dark web browser called Tor. You're not powerless, it says, contact us in a safe way.

The CIA recruitment video was first posted Monday evening on Telegram, the social media app that is highly popular among Russians who can't easily access unfiltered news or other social media sites.

JAMES OLSON, FORRMER CHIEF OF COUNTERINTELLIGENCE, CIA: I call that hanging out the shingle, and spreading the word far and wide that US and counterintelligence is open for business, and we have deep pockets. And you want to strike about back against this man you hate, Vladimir Putin. You have an opportunity now to do it safely.

MARQUARDT (voice-over): CIA officials told CNN they hope the video will resonate beyond intelligence and security officials with people who may not realize that they have sensitive information to share working, for example, in cyber, tech, finance and other fields. They may think contacting the CIA is too difficult or too dangerous. The CIA telling CNN they want to demystify that.

OLSON: We need people through the Russian economy to cooperate with us. We need to know what's going on in this adversary country.

MARQUARDT (voice-over): There is no direct mention of Putin or Ukraine, nor CIA officials insist is it meant to fuel unrest in Russia. Rather, they tell CNN, these are timeless themes that they hope will drive Russians into the arms of the CIA.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translation): This will always be my Russia. I will endure. My family will endure thanks to my actions.


MARQUARDT: In terms of what the CIA has already seen in their efforts to recruit new Russian spies during this war, they do say that they have been successful. One CIA official told me in his words there's contact coming in.


Now, CIA won't give any numbers or say where these Russians work, but the CIA said they wouldn't be rolling out this new video if they hadn't already had some success. We should also note that the FBI has tried to recruiting Russian spies right here in Washington with ads specifically targeted at people coming and going from the Russian embassy, an effort that the embassy called ridiculous. Alex Marquardt, CNN, Washington.

VAUSE: US State Department is aware of the sentencing of an American citizen in China on espionage charges. The 78-year-old who's also a Hong Kong permanent residence, has been sentenced to life by a Chinese court. Well now let's go live to Hong Kong, CNN's Kristie Lu Stout for us.

Any more details about just who this person is and what the charges relate to?

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, John, since Monday here in the Newsroom, we've been working on confirming any additional details and it's been very difficult given the sensitivity of this case. It is life in prison for this elderly 78-year-old US citizen in China. It was yesterday when John Shing-Wan Leung, who's also a Hong Kong permanent resident, was sentenced to life in prison for espionage in Suzhou.

Out in China, these cases involving espionage and state security, they're usually handled behind closed doors. The US State Department overnight has commented. It says it is aware of the sentencing while also adding this, take a listen.


VEDANT PATEL, US STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESPERSON: When a US citizen is detained overseas, the department works to provide all appropriate assistance including relevant consular access. The department has no greater priority than the safety and security of US citizens overseas. But just given privacy concerns, I don't have anything else to offer.


STOUT: And this comes as tensions grind on between these two superpowers, China and the United States, over trade, over tech, over geopolitics. It also comes as to try to stabilize this rocky relationship. Last week, as we discussed on your program, China's top diplomat and the US national security adviser met in Vienna for two days of talks. And during those talks, Jake Sullivan raised concerns about US citizens detained in China. And he added that this was a personal priority for the US President Joe Biden.

There are at least three other Americans knew to be imprisoned in China. We have photos of two of them. Let's share it with you. There's Kai Li, a father detained in China since 2016 on spying charges that he denies, he's pictured on the right of your screen, and Mark Swidan, he was a businessman convicted in 2019, arrested in 2012 on drug charges.

In addition to those two individuals, David Lin, unfortunately, we do not have a photo of him. He is a pastor who has been detained in China since 2006. And now John Leung is joining that list, a growing list of Americans detained in China. Back to you, John. VAUSE: Kristie, thank you. Kristie Lu Stout live for us in Hong Kong. And when we come back on CNN, how war is changing Ukraine in ways big and small with women now filling many of the roles traditionally held by men, above and below the ground.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shattering Ukrainian coal mining history, a woman on her way to work a thousand feet underground.




VAUSE: Negotiations over raising the US debt ceiling set to continue in the coming hours when President Joe Biden meets with congressional leaders. The federal government is set to run out of cash within weeks unless Congress votes to raise the debt limit. In the past, this was a routine vote but in recent years has been weaponized by Republicans.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA), HOUSE SPEAKER: We have no agreements on anything that's why I'm so concerned. Here we are sitting on a Monday you really have to have this all done by the end of the week. You know how these things go. They go up, they blow up, they come down. But this is something so big, so important. It's not something you can ignore.


VAUSE: Even if there is a last minute agreement, as there often is, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen warns, there will still be damage to the US economy.

With us now Justin Wolfers, Professor of Economics and Public Policy at the University of Michigan. Good to see you again.


VAUSE: OK. So here's part of a letter from the Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, sent to Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy. We have learned from past debt limited passes that waiting until the last minute to suspend or increase the debt limit can cause serious harm to business and consumer confidence, raise short term borrowing costs to taxpayers, and negatively impacts the credit rating of the United States. And every few years this happens, Republicans threaten to blow up the global economy. Every time it comes down to the wire, then there's an agreement, everything happens all at once. It all comes from the cost of self inflicted cost. So, will it be any different this time?

WOLFERS: What normally happens as we get closer and closer to midnight is businesses start to call Congress. The business lobby tells Republicans to behave themselves and that punching the economy in the face is a bad idea, and they shouldn't do it.

What's different this time is there's not one Republican Party. There's two Republican parties, there's the blow it all up MAGA faction who appear to genuinely not care about defaulting on the debt. And then there's a more traditional Republican Party. And so, what we have is a traditional two party negotiation, Democrats and Republicans. That's what's occurring but the reality is, you need a three party negotiation here, because unless they can bring -- McCarthy, he's got to not just win over the Democrats, he also has to win over the other half of the Republicans.

VAUSE: Well then here's a little more from Speaker McCarthy on negotiations either way with the President. Here he is.


MCCARTHY: I appreciate the President finally willing to talk after 97 days, but there is no move. We're only a couple of weeks away. If you look at the timeline to pass something in the House and pass something in the Senate, you got to have something done by this weekend. And we are nowhere near any of that.


VAUSE: Putting to one side that it's the Republicans who caused this crisis in the first place, OK. So with this faction in the Republican Party, that you mentioned, the MAGA faction, which seems willing, maybe even determined to burn everything down, should Biden have actually started serious talks with the Speaker of the House long before now?

WOLFERS: Well, look, everything McCarthy was saying was nonsense. It's really easy to write a debt limit increase, what you do is you write, we will increase the debt limit. The bill is probably one sentence and if you want to have a preamble, you could make it two sentences, easiest thing in the world.

What's hard is if McCarthy allows the MAGA wing to beat him up and tell him that they must demand all sorts of things, what's hard may feel impossible is pleasing those folks with something that Democrats can also sign on to. That's exactly why Biden from the very beginning said this is not something to be negotiated on.

Look, we do have a budgetary process. Congress, in fact, is in charge of both how much we tax and how much we spent. The only reason we're hitting the debt limit is not because of anything that White House did. It's because Congress has told the Treasury to spend more money than it's taking in. And it's Congress's job to fix that problem, not Biden's.

VAUSE: So just walk us through the sort of global impacts, also the US domestic impacts if the US actually does default.

WOLFERS: Well, there are lots of different kinds of default. The grownups couldn't get things done by midnight, but by 1:00 am, they figure out a rescue deal or a few hours later, in which case there'll be some hiccups in global markets, but probably not anything too bad, although there will be long term damage done to the US reputation, so Americans will end up paying higher interest on their debt.

By the way, that's actually good news for the rest of the world because who do you think they're paying that higher interest too. But if the thing drags out, and we've seen for instance government shutdowns drag out for days and then weeks in the past, then this basically suggests that lending money to the US government is like lending money to the divorced couple next door, where you've lent money to the couple you thought they were getting on OK, and now they're suing each other for everything in this family lawyers all over the joint. You're worried you're never going to get paid back. The end result of that will be much higher interest rates for the US for a long time to come.

VAUSE: I guess part of an analysis right up which came from the Atlantic Council. And it talks about what the debt limit is and the implications. Debt limits are self-imposed tools to facilitate sound fiscal policy, but in practice they serve as orienting oriented goals, or tools or political bargaining at best and triggers of economic chaos at worst.

And the US President was asked on Monday if the debt ceiling should actually be scrapped. And he said no, that would be irresponsible. It seems almost irresponsible to keep this debt limit, because it's the only country in the world that goes through this process every time. One of the political parties wants to hold the economy ransom. I mean, other countries do have a debt ceiling, but it's usually a percentage of GDP. And there's never been negotiations like this every couple of years. So, why keep it?

WOLFERS: Right. Look, my mum, she told me don't run with scissors. (Inaudible) I might accidentally fall and I could really hurt myself and forgot scissors in my hands. Well, the thing is the debt ceiling is basically giving Congress a big pair of scissors to run with. And as much as my mom told me not to run with scissors when I was five years of age, the US Congress is even clumsier and less prone to self- control than I was when I was five years of age. So it's a big pair of scissors and we're just waiting for us to fall and really inflict some damage.

Look, the counter argument is we've got a big public debt. Some people say too big, we ought to bring it under control. That seems like a reasonable argument, and it's one that Congress could have. Of course, the only reason we have a big public debt is because Congress told the Treasury to spend a bunch of money, and Congress told the Treasury not to raise too much in taxes. It is Congress that has accumulated this debt.

This debt ceiling does not get rid of the debt. It doesn't cause any fiscal retrenchment, what it causes is chaos.

VAUSE: At that point, Justin, thanks for being with us. We appreciate it. WOLFERS: Pleasure is mine.

VAUSE: Official interest rates in Argentina are now 97% after the Central Bank raise rates by six percentage points Monday, an effort to try and control an inflation rate which now tops 100%. Regulators are hoping to encourage investment in the currency peso which is down significantly against the US dollar this year.

Decades after Rosie the Riveter became a cultural icon and symbol of working women of World War II, women in Ukraine are taking on similar roles doing jobs many Ukrainian men had to abandon when they'll call into military service. CNN's Nic Robertson reports.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In a man's world war is changing everything. Tetiana is at the vanguard, shattering Ukrainian coal mining history, a woman on her way to work a thousand feet underground.

(on camera): It's normal. It's OK now?


ROBERTSON: Yes, good. Is it good? Do you like it, huh?

TETIANA: Yes, I want it.

ROBERTSON: You wanted to be a miner?


ROBERTSON: Yes. You're family, your grandfather or father was a miner.


ROBERTSON: Yes, yes, yes.

(voice-over): She used to work above ground, but when miners got called up to fight and martial law cleared women for dangerous jobs, she jumped at a job deep in the mine.

TETIANA (through translation): I always wanted to work here, but girls were not allowed. When many men were conscripted, the man had to keep working. So to protect our country, the girl stepped up.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): She works six hour shifts, three days on one day off, earns more than previously, wants to keep her underground job when the war is over.

TETIANA: My work is not physically difficult. I like it a lot. I would like to continue working here.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): In this, bastion of male-dominated tradition, that may not be so easy. OLEKSANDR, LEAD ENGINEER (through translation): I think when the war is over, and we will win, I think women will return about the ground and do women's jobs.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): Yet even chief engineer Oleksandr admits, without Tetiana and many other women, the mine could not have kept going.

OLEKSANDR (through translation): Around 700 of our miners get called up to fight. Our women wanted to help both the mine and the country. So far 46 women are working on the ground now.


ROBERTSON: There hasn't been a general mobilization of women but plenty of traditional male only workplaces are finding women stepping up and taking jobs that before the war would have only gone to men.

ROBERTSON: Maria is among them, for the love of Ukraine and of her husband.

MARIA KOBETS, BLACKSMITH, KOBETS FORGE (through translation): I knew this theory, but the practice turned out to be a little hotter.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): She took up his blacksmith job when he got called up to fight last year. They bought the forge together a few years earlier, invested their future in it.

KOBETS (through translation): This is my husband's passion and his life's business. I decided to support him to keep his job alive while he's serving.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): She shows me a video of her husband, Andre, working at the same anvil. Prewar, his artwork, some Game of Thrones- themed selling in the US and Europe for hundreds of dollars. She is focusing on simpler stuff, on a kebab skewers.

KOBETS (through translation): I very often cry in the forge here. My husband is defending us, and that is very dangerous. But this work helps me to hold on and not fall apart.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): Women have been here before, remember Rosie the Riveter, icon of women at work in World War II, she and others cracked the glass ceiling. More than a hint of Rosie in Maria, and perhaps of changes here too.

KOBETS (through translation): It's tiring work, but it's interesting. I would like to do it but I feel like it, not what I have to do it.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): Maria, Tetiana, two of many who bravely stepped up, no doubt more challenges ahead. Nic Robertson, CNN in a coal mine Eastern Ukraine.


VAUSE: Still to come, a parent who's also a school board member in Florida officially complained about a teacher who showed her fifth grade class and animated PG Disney film but had a gay character. More on that in a moment.


VAUSE: Welcome back. Passengers on an Austrian train bound for Vienna were shocked to hear recordings of a speech by Adolf Hitler, along with inflammatory Nazi slogans being played over the train's loudspeaker. Some passengers feared the train to be hijacked. A rabbi from Vienna was on board the train and said he was not only disturbed by the recordings but also by the passengers who were laughing. A spokesperson for the train lines if someone used to cheaply key, someone, to get into the intercom system and an investigation is now underway.

A fifth grade teacher in Florida is now under investigation by her school in the state's Department of Education, and the offense appears to be showing her fifth grade class a PG rated Disney film with an openly gay character. Here's CNN's Isabel Rosales.


ISABEL ROSALES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): First year teacher first year Florida teacher Jenna Barbee is under fire for showing her fifth grade class a Disney movie "Strange World."


ROSALES (voice-over): Her intent, she says, was to teach her class about the environment. The film features a family of explorers banding together to navigate the world.

JENNA BARBEE, FLORIDA TEACHER: So I thought that was such a beautiful message to send to my kids along with working together, chasing your dreams, compassion.


ROSALES (voice-over): Instead it led to the ire of a school board member, Shannon Rodriguez, also a parent of one of Barbee students.

SHANNON RODRIGUEZ, REPORTER TEACHER TO FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION: I'm not going to stand by and allow this minority to infiltrate our schools. God did put me here./

ROSALES (voice-over): And Barbee says that triggered an investigation from the Florida Department of Education. Barbee showed CNN this letter she says is from the state saying this office has determined and investigation is warranted into allegations that you engaged in inappropriate conduct.


ROSALES (voice-over): "Strange World" features a gay character and may violate Florida's parental rights and Education Act signed into law last year by Governor Ron DeSantis. The controversial bill bans certain instruction about sexual orientation and gender identity in classrooms.

Hernando County School sent this announcement home to parents. While not the main plot of the movie parts of the story involves a male character having an expressing feelings for another male character. In the future, this movie will not be shown.

The school district confirmed to CNN the state is investigating Barbee. Rodriguez claimed Barbee broke school policy because she did not get the specific movie approved by school administration.

RODRIGUEZ: It is not a teacher's job to impose their beliefs upon a child, religious, sexual orientation, gender identity, any of the above. But allowing movies such as this assist teachers in opening a door, and please hear me, they assist teachers and opening a door for conversations that have no place in our classrooms.

ROSALES (voice-over): Barbee insists she did follow the rules telling CNN every child had a previously signed permission slip from their parent, approving for PG movies to be shown in the classroom.

BARBEE: Nobody had a process in place where individual movies got approved. Now that I had this situation happen, there's a whole process in place where you have to get every single movie approved with a letter to admins, to the parents back.

ROSALES (voice-over): Teachers who violate the Florida parental rights bill can be suspended or have their teaching licenses revoked.

BARBEE: I don't want them to terminate me right now.

ROSALES (voice-over): Isabel Rosales, CNN, Atlanta.


VAUSE: Thank you for watching CNN Newsroom. I'm John Vause. News continues here on CNN with my friend and colleague Rosemary Church after commercial break. We'll see you right back here tomorrow.