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CNN International: Ukraine Hit With 16 Types Of Missiles Across The Country Overnight; CIA Launches Online Video In Effort To Recruit Russian Spies; AFP: 41 Dead And Dozens Injured In Myanmar's Rakhine State; At Least Six People Killed In A Hostel In Wellington; Turkey Faces Election Runoff; Austrian Train Speakers Played Hitler Speech; Durham Report Criticizes FBI Probe Of 2016 Trump Campaign; Ukrainian Women Miners Step In For Conscripted Men. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired May 16, 2023 - 08:00   ET



MAX FOSTER, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, you're watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Max Foster in London. Just ahead, Ukraine says Russia launched airstrikes of quote, "exceptional intensity" on Kyiv but say it said defenses destroyed most of those missiles and drones. Then a devastating cyclone leaves a trail of destruction in western Myanmar.

Rescue groups are bracing for what could be a large scale loss of life. And a new report criticizes the FBI for its handling of the investigation into alleged ties between Russia and Donald Trump's campaign during the 2016 presidential race says.

Ukraine says it was hit nationwide with 18 types of Russian missiles in a series of early morning strikes. And officials are calling the attack on the capital exceptional in its intensity. But the Ukrainian defense minister says all enemy targets were shot down, including six Russian hypersonic Kinzhal missiles.

Meanwhile, the Wagner group chief is claiming a U.S. citizen has died fighting in the embattled city of Bakhmut.

CNN's Nic Robertson joins me live in eastern Ukraine. You've been there a lot, you've seen these attacks over the months. How does this one compare?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: You know, once again, it appears, and we've heard Ukrainian officials say this over recent weeks, that Russia is trying to find a way to penetrate the air defenses over Kyiv. We know that Kyiv's allies have given it a lot of air defense equipment, and it does appear to be working successfully.

And this what they're describing really as its most complex of attacks so far. Six of these Kinzhal hypersonic missiles fly 10 times the speed of sound launched from aircraft in the skies. So you never quite know where the attack is going to come from. Intercepted, apparently, the nine cruise missiles fired from sea, from the Black Sea coming from the south of Kyiv, those taken down as well, and also three Iskander land-based missiles fired from the east were knocked out and put off their trajectory. So, you know, Ukraine's air defenses around the capital are looking good. They're pretty strong around some other cities, but perhaps less powerful around the front lines. Here, of course, it is harder at the front line, of course, because the trajectory of a lot of what's fired across the front lines is short range.

The battle for Bakhmut still goes on. Yevgeny Prigozhin, the Wagner mercenary boss, is claiming that they have the body of a fallen U.S. person who he claims that died in battle. He says that they'll treat his body with respect, repatriate into the United States, a U.S. flag on him, because Prigozhin says he didn't die in his bed, he died fighting a worthy death, in the words of Prigozhin.

But Prigozhin's words have little value. He's full of propaganda, a lot of bluster, and there is, so far, no confirmation or hard evidence to support what he's saying. What we do know, though, is that the battle along the front here is intense along the front lines, and no one is making big gains or big losses, but they are, in terms of personnel taking a lot of heat.

FOSTER: Nic Robertson in eastern Ukraine, thank you.

The CIA hopes a new video will help it recruit Russian spies.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking Foreign Language)


FOSTER: U.S. intelligence agency has posted the video on social media sites as trying to appeal to Russian patriotism, hoping those disillusioned by the war in Ukraine will share valuable intelligence with the agency. The posts include instructions on how to get in touch with the CIA anonymously. An official tells CNN the video is not meant to fuel unrest within Russia.

Now, there are reports that at least 41 people have died and dozens are missing in Myanmar after Cyclone Mocha are slammed into Rakhine State on Sunday, ripping houses apart and uprooting trees in one of the strongest storms to hit the country. As details emerge about the extent of the destruction, aid groups say there's been a largescale loss of life in Rohingya camps.

CNN's Vedika Sud is following the developments from our New Delhi bureau, and it's taking us a while to get the information because of the areas that have been hit.

VEDIKA SUD, CNN REPORTER: You know, Max, you and I spoke about this just yesterday, and this was the primary concern that was expressed by aid agencies and locals in the area that it's going to take hours, perhaps days, to understand the widespread and the extent of damage caused by Cyclone Mocha. And that's exactly what we're seeing now.

I want to start with some images that have been released by, Max. These are satellite images coming in comparing what can be seen of Sittwe, the port city on the westernmost side of Myanmar in February and on the 15th of May. And you can see the widespread destruction. You can see roofs have blown off, a bridge has submerged, and you can see the destruction of homes around the sea there. And that has been what has been concerning these aid agencies the most at this point.

They say it's still difficult to get into these areas. That's because phone lines are not really up and working. It's because the infrastructure has completely dilapidated and been destroyed rather by the cyclone, because of which they find it difficult to get into these refugee camps, essentially where Rohingyas have been settled since 2012.


A lot of them now have witnessed this massive cyclone that hit the port city. We've spoken to some of them, they're saying there's death and destruction all over. It's very difficult really, at this point, Max, to put a figure to the death toll that we are now hearing off. It's 41, but they could certainly go up.

We don't have the new figures from the officials at the ground. Aid agencies are really trying to get to these places at the moment. But for now what we know is with that bridge that's washed away, connectivity to these areas is extremely difficult. According to a resident, 90 percent of a particular refugee camp has been completely destroyed.

People are talking about bodies that they're seeing all around and this really isn't the end to the destruction and to the death toll that we're hearing of in Sittwe area. And this is going to be a massive blow to the refugees there who have already been displaced.

And they say that since 2012, we've already been displaced. We've seen so much of a struggle and this is now just another cyclone hitting us. And it seems to be as bad as the 2010 cyclone, Cyclone Giri that hit more or less same area. At that point, Max, 150 people had lost their lives and 15,000 homes had been destroyed. We can only hope that this doesn't get as bad as Cyclone Giri, Max.

FOSTER: OK, Vedika, thank you so much indeed for joining us with that.

Now, a deadly fire erupted inside a hostel in New Zealand's capital. At least six people were killed in the blaze in Wellington. Firefighters managed to evacuate more than 50 people, but many are still missing. Several tenants were shift workers at a hospital nearby. New Zealand's Prime Minister visited the site and called it an absolute tragedy.


CHRIS HIPKINS, NEW ZEALAND PRIME MINISTER: This is a major event. We've not seen something on this scale in recent times. And so Wellingtonians will feel this. You know, Wellington is a small community and, you know, particularly here in this community, it's a very tight-knit community. So people will be feeling this today and I think, you know, I know the community will support each -- you know, will band together --


FOSTER: An investigation is underway. Now, there'll likely be a frenzy of campaigning over the next two weeks in Turkey. This after no one in Sunday's presidential election got more than 50 percent of the vote. So now the runoff set for May the 28th, we'll see President Recep Tayyip Erdogan take on the second place vote getter.

In addition, the third place finisher, who got just 5 percent of the vote could be the one to put one candidate actually over the top. Jomana Karadsheh joins us in Istanbul with an update on the election. Much focus here, Jomana on a kingmaker now as he's known.

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kingmaker, tiebreaker, I mean, Sinan Ogan has emerged as the person who can decide how this goes in the next round. He is a far-right, ultra nationalist, anti-immigrant, anti-Kurdish politician who managed to garner, Max, more than 5 percent of the vote in the first round.

Now that he is eliminated, the question is what happens to that 5 percent who voted for him? He says he's got red lines. He hasn't decided who he wants to endorse in the next round. He says he's going to take the next few days to consult with his coalition for other parties that are part of this coalition to decide if he is going to endorse either candidate.

Now, his support base at 5 percent is a combination of nationalists who have their issues with President Erdogan's coalition, and you also have the protest votes, people who are unhappy with the opposition's choice of Kemal Kilicdaroglu. So what happens next? Is he going to endorse someone? Are those 5 percent going to follow him with whatever he decides?

And his red lines, of course, Max, as we've heard from him in the past, saying it is the issue of immigration and it is the issue of Kurdish parties that you've got the coalition with the support of a pro-Kurdish party. You've also got President Erdogan in an alliance with a small Kurdish party that has ties to an Islamist Kurdish movement described as a terrorist movement by him and others.

Take a listen to what Sinan Ogan told our Becky Anderson yesterday.


SINAN OGAN, TURKISH PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (through translator): What we're thinking is all the political parties should exclude terror organizations. 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.


Political parties like HDP or Huda. We want those candidates not to rely on parties that have no distance between terrorist groups, and we succeeded in that.


KARADSHEH: And, Max, you've got both sides, President Erdogan and the opposition, saying they are ready for that second round on May the 28th, that they are going to continue campaigning, and both sides claiming that they will win this. But if you look at the results of that first round and what came out of this, President Erdogan certainly is in a much stronger position going into this runoff than when he entered the race.

He's got a parliamentary majority. He has got a narrow-lead currently with nearly 50 percent of the votes that he needs to win the presidency. And the opposition, Max, is in such a weak position right now. They're going into this with a disadvantage. They failed their voters, it seems. They underperformed in this first round.

They failed, many would tell you, to seize that moment of weakness of President Erdogan, who has been under a lot of criticism because of the state of the economy in the country, because of his government's very slow initial response to the devastating earthquake and that lack of preparedness, and they still did not manage to unseat the Turkish President.

So as they go into the second round, both sides saying they are ready, but certainly the wind is behind President Erdogan.

FOSTER: OK, Jomana in Turkey, thank you.

To Austria now, where passengers on a train bound for Vienna say a recording of a speech by Adolf Hitler was played over the carriage's loudspeakers. Some passengers feared the train had been hijacked as Nazi slogans were repeated over the intercom. Police are currently searching for two suspects.

CNN's Fred Pleitgen is in Berlin and there is talk of a rise of Nazism in some countries. But is this just an isolated incident or where's it going?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, right now it seems as though it's an isolated incident, but as you can imagine in places like Austria and Germany, this is absolutely no laughing matter. And you can see that there's big, wide ranging public outrage if you look at the media here in Germany, but then also in Austrian society, quite frankly, as well, in Austria also as well, Max.

And with the latest that we have from the Austrian authorities is that they have now identified two people who they believe were behind all this. They use CCTV camera footage from inside the train and they say that both these people have been identified. We're also hearing that criminal complaints have been filed against them, obviously, not just for playing a speech by Adolf Hitler via the train's intercom system, but also for illegally accessing that intercom system as well.

And this is something that the authorities have also pointed out, is they don't believe that the train was hacked from the outside. They believe that these two people got access to the actual train's intercom system through some sort of key that they managed to obtain and then played various messages.

People who were on the train telling CNN, including, by the way, a rabbi from Vienna telling CNN that at first, there were weird noises, weird music, and then the speech by Adolf Hitler, followed by chance of Sieg Heil and Heil Hitler, which obviously caused a lot of commotion on that train.

People, as you have mentioned, Max, fearing that the train may have been hijacked or that it may have been some larger incident. So as it turns out, it could possibly have just been these two people possibly playing a prank or something else or maybe there was some sort of other backdrop to all of these.

But again, if you look at right now in Austria, the authorities there and certainly the railway company there say they are taking all this extremely seriously. They say that they hope very much that the two alleged perpetrators will indeed be punished very severely for these actions, Max.

FOSTER: OK, Fred in Berlin, thank you.

Five people in Germany have been convicted for their part in a $123 million jewel heist. The gang broke into Dresden's green vault in 2019 and took off with more than 20 diamond encrusted artifacts. Years later, only some of the items have been recovered by police, but these are all members of one of Germany's most powerful crime families, the Remmo clan. One defendant at a trial was acquitted.

Still to come, special counsel's report into the FBI's Trump-Russia probe is out. Key takeaways from the report and reaction to it just ahead.



FOSTER: What are exactly the big takeaways of the long awaited report on the Trump-Russia investigation? Its findings are sharply critical of the FBI. Special Counsel John Durham concludes the FBI should never have launched a full investigation into connections between Donald Trump's campaign and Russia during the 2016 election.

The 300-page report also suggests the FBI used a double standard with a lower threshold for launching the Trump-Russia probe compared to investigating allegations involving Hillary Clinton's campaign. Durham was appointed by Trump's Attorney General William Barr in 2019.

Let's get more from CNN's Senior Legal Affairs Correspondent Paula Reid. I mean, what for you is the headline coming out of this, Paula?

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: So in this report, Durham goes through the steps the FBI took in its investigation and criticizes them again and again, but does not provide many new takes or any significant new evidence. Now, one of his big criticisms of the agency is that instead of opening a preliminary investigation that they went right ahead and opened a full investigation.

Now, that's a pretty nuanced critique, but the difference is clear. A preliminary investigation requires a lower threshold, but also means that agents working on that case don't have access to more invasive tools like FISA warrants. Now here, though, of course they did open a full investigation, but Durham says, in doing so, they relied on, quote, raw, unanalyzed and uncorroborated intelligence.

At this point, they're not recommending any new blockbuster indictments or any major sweeping changes of the agency.

FOSTER: In terms of criticisms of this report, some suggesting that it was sympathetic to Trump as opposed to an independent sort of judicial report.

REID: Yes, and it's interesting because it didn't really deliver on what the former President has suggested, right? He had suggested that there would be big indictments, that there would be evidence of a grand conspiracy, but none of those things are evidenced in this report.

Now, of course, this special counsel was appointed by former Attorney General Bill Barr, a Trump appointed Attorney General after the former President had suggested that the investigators be investigated. Well, this is the second investigation into the investigation because the Justice Department's own inspector general also reviewed how this case was handled and found that there was not overwhelming political bias that was driving the Mueller investigation.

FOSTER: The FBI says it's changed its system so this effectively wouldn't happen again. What do you make of that?

REID: Well, let's remember, many of the people who are mentioned in this report no longer work at the FBI. There's been a lot of turnover since 2016. And it's also interesting to note here that no matter what this report says, the former President and his allies, they are going to continue to use it for their political purposes.

We know Jim Jordan, a top Republican on the House side, he has asked the Justice Department to allow Durham to testify next week. So we know they are going to seize on this. They are going to try to use it to frame their political narrative, even though it did not deliver on the explosive claims or revelations that the former President and his allies had hoped for.


FOSTER: Paula Reid in Washington, thank you.

Up next, Ukrainian women have been now filling plenty of traditionally male only jobs, as men are called to the front lines. Our report inside a coal mine next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) FOSTER: As the war in Ukraine grinds on, more and more men are being called up to fight, leaving vital jobs vacant. And many Ukrainian women are now stepping up to fill roles traditionally held by men, like mining.

CNN's Nic Robertson went underground to find out a bit more.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR (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 1,000 feet underground.

(on-camera): It's normal, it's OK now?


ROBERTSON (on-camera): Yes? It's good. Is it good? Do you like it?

TETIANA: Yes, I love it.

ROBERTSON (on-camera): You wanted to be a miner.


ROBERTSON (on-camera): Yes. Your family, your grandfather --


ROBERTSON (on-camera): -- your father was my a miner.

TETIANA: Yes, yes.

ROBERTSON (on-camera): 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 translator): I always wanted to work here, but girls were not allowed. When many men were conscripted, the mine had to keep working. So to protect our country, the girls stepped up.

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

TETIANA (through translator): 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 translator): I think when the war is over and we will win, I think women will return above the ground and do women's jobs.

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

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

ROBERTSON (on-camera): 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.

(voice-over): Maria is among them for the love of Ukraine and of her husband.

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

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

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


KOBETS (through translator): 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 and Maria, and perhaps of changes here too.

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


FOSTER: Now before we go, NASA's James Webb Telescope has made another significant discovery. It detected water on a comet located in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. The finding suggests that water ice can be preserved in a warmer part of the solar system. It could also help to -- help us to understand how water became a plentiful resource on Earth during its early days. The discovery comes after 15 years, would you believe, of attempts by astronomers.

Thanks for joining me here on CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Max Foster in London. World Sport with Amanda Davies is up next.