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Biden Announces $375M in Military Aid to Ukraine; Russia, Wagner Group Claim to Have Control of Bakhmut; New York Struggles to Accommodate Migrants; Nebraska's Legislative Passes 12-Week Abortion Ban. Aired 5-6 am ET

Aired May 21, 2023 - 05:00   ET




PAULA NEWTON, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, and a very warm welcome to our viewers here in the United states and all around the world. I'm Paula Newton. Ahead right here on CNN Newsroom, any moment now, U.S. President Joe Biden will hold a press conference wrapping up the G7 Summit. We're live in Hiroshima with a breakdown of this year's summit.

Plus, Biden will return to Washington as the U.S. inches ever closer to running out of money to pay its debts. A look at what could be on the table when he speaks to Kevin McCarthy later today.

And Wagner's forces say they've taken control of Bakhmut after months of bloodshed. Ukrainian officials claim the fight isn't over. We'll take you live to Ukraine for the very latest.

ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN Center, this is CNN Newsroom with Paula Newton.

NEWTON: So U.S. President Joe Biden returns to Washington later today, where the debt ceiling crisis remains unresolved at this hour. And, yes, time is running out. Right now, Mr. Biden is still in Hiroshima, Japan, where the important G7 Summit has just concluded. We are expecting him to appear right there at that podium and hold a press conference momentarily. As soon as it begins we will bring live now.

Now, the war in Ukraine was, of course, a top item on this year's agenda, with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy making a surprise appearance at the summit to make his case face to face and in-person.

Earlier today, he met one on one with President Biden, who announced a new round of military aid to Ukraine. Take a listen.


JOE BIDEN, (D) U.S. PRESIDENT: And today, I'm announcing the next tranche of U.S. security assistance Ukraine. A package that includes more ammunition, artillery, armored vehicles to bolster Ukraine's battlefield abilities. Together with the entire G7, we have Ukraine's back. And I promise we're not going anywhere.

VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT: Thank you very much, Mr. President. First of all, thank you for your help, leadership, for your support, and really for this new package. That's great. Thank you very much from all our people. And I'm so happy that, you know, we have so strong relations with our people that our people during all these, all these challenges, they go shoulder to shoulder. I'm very thankful to American people.


NEWTON: Now CNN Correspondents are covering all the angles. Phil Mattingly and Kevin Liptak who are live in Hiroshima for us. And Sam Kiley is standing by for us in Ukraine. Thanks to all of you.

Phil, we want to get to you first, we're waiting, as you can see there, for that presidential press conference. Phil, listen, long gone, apparently, are the days when G7 summits were boring, right? I cannot believe how much news we got out of this one. It was an ambitious agenda for both Biden and all those allies. What are your takeaways, especially given that Ukraine and Zelenskyy took center stage there in such a dramatic fashion?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Paula, you make a great point. We always knew that Ukraine and this critical moment in the conflict that's now going into its 15th month since Russia's invasion, were always going to be a central piece of this summit. But it was also kind of a dual pronged approach in terms of the focus and a significant amount of focus on China and how the G7 countries were going to deal with China, how they were going to continue the competition with China and how they were going to strengthen both language and potential economic actions to try and counter on some levels what China has done or what it may do in the future.

And yet the presence of Volodymyr Zelenskyy, his decision to make the surprised visit to Hiroshima was notable. It was dramatic. It was exactly what he's done, really, over the course of the last five or six months, starting with his visit to Washington and the White House and Capitol Hill in December. Just over the course of the last 10 days, he's been to four European capitals, made a surprise visit to the Arab League summit as well. And what these visits do, yes, the symbolism is very clear. Yes, the effect of the media coverage and the focus on not just Zelenskyy but Ukraine, and what's continuing to happen in Ukraine, given just how grinding the battle and the conflict has been, is important.

But he's leaving each of these stops with something tangible. You noted $375 million in new military assistance that President Biden announced today. Even more importantly than that, the President telling G7 leaders he would sign off on the U.S. participating in a training operation for F-16 four generation fighters, including F-16 pilots, and has also signaled that they will sign off on European countries being able to export their F-16 stocks if they choose to do so. That's something Zelenskyy has asked for, for a series of months.


But also the non-member countries that were here, leaders that perhaps represent countries that have been trying to stay neutral, maybe on the fence, maybe leaning a little bit towards Russia in this conflict over the course of the last 15 months. He had an opportunity to meet with them too, or at least make them listen to what he had to say. That's why this visit was so tangible, especially when you keep in mind what is expected in the weeks and months ahead. The counter offensive if this war continuing to grind forward in a very clear sense right now that among G7 leaders, there needs to be an end game at some point. They need to know what that's going to look like. And so much of that is contingent on what that counter offensive looks like.

NEWTON: Yeah, that elusive end game, you know, it's worrying so many people. And I know that at this point in time, given everything that they're putting into this fight, if we don't even have the beginning of a counter offensive. So many wondering exactly what that next step is.

Kevin Liptak, to you, you've been watching everything going on here so closely. It's been interesting to see Zelenskyy having so many face to face meetings, not just with those allies, but again, as Phil was saying, with countries that haven't necessarily taken the Ukraine point of view so far, notably Brazil and India.

Let's listen first to India's Prime Minister, who basically perhaps encouraged President Zelenskyy with his words. Take a listen.


NARENDRA MODI, INDIA'S PRIME MINISTER (through translator): The war in Ukraine is a huge topic of discussion for the entire world. Its impacts have been multifold on the globe. But I did not consider it just to be an issue of economy or politics. For me, it is an issue of humanity and humanitarian values. You would know the challenges and pain of war more than any of us.


NEWTON: You know, juxtapose that Kevin with Lula, President Lula from Brazil with CNN Brazil reporting that Lula refused to have a bilateral that may still take place, but he refused to have a bilateral with Zelenskyy there. How do you think this changed the character of this meeting in terms of what the G7 priorities are going forward for Ukraine?

KEVIN LIPTAK, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yeah, and it certainly allowed Zelenskyy really, to make this appeal face to face. And he did walk out of that meeting with Narendra Modi fairly upbeat. He said he thought that India would participate in this coalition against Russia. How they do that, I think remains to be seen. But certainly when you talk to American officials, they do believe that Zelenskyy believes that when he can get to these leaders face to face, when he can make this in-person appeal, that he does feel like he can have some effect. And as Phil was mentioning, he has done this basically all around the world at this point.

The leaders here who are in the actual G7 were very hopeful that those appeals would have some effect on their invited guests. And you heard the French President Emmanuel Macron, say earlier today that this could be a game changer for Zelenskyy in trying to coalesce some support in what is known as the Global South.

Now, you mentioned that the President of Brazil, Lula da Silva, he did not meet with Zelenskyy. He is one of those so-called fence sitters. That is someone that I think President Biden and the other G7 leaders certainly would like to meet with Zelenskyy. But it doesn't appear as if it's happening on this particular stop.

Vietnam is another country that is here that is in the same position. The President Zelenskyy did meet with the President of Indonesia. So that is another place where he could make this appeal. Now, whether any of those make any difference, I think remains to be seen. But certainly the leaders who are gathered here, we're very hopeful that that would make a difference.

Of course, they are all leaving this summit sort of with this looming question of how much the support can be sustained going forward. You know, none of these G7 leaders is particularly popular at home. They're facing some political headwinds in a large part because of the economy and the global economy is struggling, in some part because of the war in Ukraine. And so it is a question, as these leaders leave, what happens next, Paula?

NEWTON: Standby for us, Kevin, as we are watching right now, President Zelenskyy and, of course, the Prime Minister of Japan. They are laying a wreath there at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial. Again, as we've been saying, President Zelenskyy joining this meeting in dramatic fashion, and that includes going to this peace memorial park. I point out that right now, obviously, that is commemorating certainly all the destruction in Hiroshima, given what happened there after the nuclear bomb, after the nuclear bomb in World War II.

What's interesting here is that it is front and center for officials as they continue to deal with nuclear risk, something the IAEA and its leader says remains a dangerous situation in Zaporizhzhia. So, again, a poignant moment there for officials, for President Zelenskyy and the Prime Minister of Japan as they lay that wreath there at the Hiroshima peace memorial.

As Kevin Liptak and Phil Mattingly stand by for us as we await that press conference with President Biden. We do want to go to really what was extraordinary news earlier. The Kremlin released a statement on behalf of the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, congratulating the Wagner group after the mercenaries claimed to have captured the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut.


Now, Russia's Defense Ministry also issued a statement touting the, "liberation of the city" and Wagner Chief Yevgeny Prigozhin had a message for Ukrainian President Zelenskyy, who is attending the G7 Summit as you've been learning in Hiroshima, take a listen.


YEVGENY PRIGOZHIN, WAGNER GROUP (through translator): Without sarcasm your guys fought bravely, fought well, and if you follow this path, then you can become the second army in the world. Of course, after the most powerful army in the world that is Wagner PMC. Today, when you see Biden, kiss him on the top of the head, say hello for me.


NEWTON: Say hello for me. Now, CNN cannot independently verify that the city has been captured. The Ukrainian military said in its daily update that, "battles for the city of Bakhmut continue, but Prigozhin says his forces will in fact hand over control of the city to the Russian military on Thursday. For more on all of this, I am joined by CNN Senior International Correspondent Sam Kiley, who is in southeastern Ukraine for us.

And Sam, good to have you way in here. As we see this battle of Bakhmut and the disputing characterization of exactly what's gone on there, I really want to get your take on this, especially because President Zelenskyy was asked directly right, is Bakhmut in the hands of the Russians? And he had a bit of a mixed reaction to it.

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, I think he had a mixed reaction because he was sort of telling the truth, which is that this is an ongoing battle. This is part of the ebb and flow. People will one side will capture some territory, and then the other side may counterattack.

Now, the consequences of that in the town of Bakhmut is that arguably, according to the Kremlin anyway, and the Wagner Group, they control the center. Or the built-up area of Bakhmut, but they certainly don't control the flanks and are, in fact, in danger of being encircled in that city. And I think that's the reason that you had this slightly kind of almost wishy-washy response from the Ukrainian President. This is what he said, Paula.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is Bakhmut still in Ukraine's hands? The Russians say they take it Bakhmut.

ZELENSKYY: I think no, but you have to understand that there is nothing. They destroyed everything. There are no buildings. It's a pity, it's tragedy. But for today, Bakhmut is only in our heart. There is nothing on this place. So just drowned and a lot of dead Russians.


KILEY: Now, if the Wagner mercenary organization is going to make good on its plans to withdraw on Thursday, that means that they've got to be reinvested, replaced by Russian regulars or conscripts. That in itself is an extremely dangerous moment in any kind of military operation. I think it's extremely unlikely that it would happen. And, of course, now that Bakhmut would appear, at least a built-up area in the hands of Russians, it becomes a free fire zone for the Ukrainians.

They don't have to worry about what they hit in the rubble there, because anything they kill will, in their view, be a legitimate target in the form of a Russian soldier. So be a very, very dangerous place indeed for anybody wearing Russian uniform for the foreseeable future, particularly as they are. This is the Ukrainians pushing on those flanks. This may well develop into something closer to a trap than a victory for Wagner. Paula.

NEWTON: Yeah, a very good point there, Sam, as you have continued to follow that battle in Bakhmut for months now. I want to say this really did drop in dramatic fashion in the middle of this G7 Summit. I mean, earlier, French President Emmanuel Macron, you know, was asked about this. I want you to listen to what he said.


EMMANUEL MACRON, FRENCH PRESIDENT (through translator): I think it is up to the Ukrainian authorities to state the developments of their forces on the ground. And so I will stay at this stage extremely cautious. This is the difficulty of this kind of operation. And despite everything, this operation, which started in December on the city shows the difficulty the Russian army had in advancing. So I won't speak on this subject. I think the presence of Mr. Zelenskyy here is important.


NEWTON: You know, Sam, I bring this up because for months we heard behind the scenes that allies, obviously, the United States but others questioned as to whether or not Ukraine should be spending so much time defending Bakhmut and all the blood that was spilled there. What do you think going forward they will make of the battle that's gone on for the last few months? Especially given that, as far as we can report that counter offensive in other parts of the country hasn't even started yet.

KILEY: The counter offensive may well be in the works. It may even develop around Bakhmut as an opportunity may or may not present itself to the Ukrainians. They to remain fluid. They've been trained and advised by NATO forces who will be stressing the need for surprise and maneuver warfare as opposed to the human wave attacks, which have characterized the Russian tactics over the city of Bakhmut.


So Ukrainian defenders have been telling me for months they see no particular reason why anybody would want to defend Bakhmut, much less capture it at such a gigantic cost. But in their view, they're happy to kill Russians there in a location that doesn't have particular strategic value, although, particularly as a result of coverage that people like us have been giving it, Bakhmut became very much a sort of symbol of Ukrainian resistance, a political symbol, particularly for President Zelenskyy, when, much to the surprise of some of his commanders, he committed his country to an almost open-ended defense of that location. But it has been a huge drain on both sides. We won't really see, I

think, the evidence of quite what a drain it has been on both sides until or if this counter offensive gets underway. But there's also I think it has definitely exposed a lot of the weaknesses in the Russian system, particularly poor battlefield communication, appalling tactics, massive waste of their own human lives, huge numbers of infanteers gunned down in their dozens on a daily basis.

And that is not the sort of thing you can keep from the psychology of fellow Russian soldiers as they look out from their trenches out across the fields of eastern Ukraine and wondering when or where the Ukrainians might attack next. Paula.

NEWTON: Certainly an absolutely savage battle that we have seen unfold there. And you make a good point exactly what it will mean to both sides likely it won't be clear for several weeks or even months. Sam Kiley for us really appreciate you coming to be a part of this, you're in southeastern Ukraine and will continue to bring updates for us as this press conference unfolds.

We want to go back to that press conference in Hiroshima right now, our Phil Mattingly standing by for the President, who's expected to speak at any moment. If we put aside the international diplomacy for a moment, there's supposed to be shuttle diplomacy right over that big issue debt crisis. I think you've already reported right, Phil, he's going right from this press conference, steps onto Air Force One, immediately starts taking calls. Where are we exactly? And before we get to that point, I want you to listen right now to what Biden had said a little earlier.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, what will you tell Speaker McCarthy? What's your main message?

BIDEN: (Inaudible) get a chance to talk later today.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What's your message to him?

BIDEN: I'm going to give it to him before I give it to you.


NEWTON: Yeah. So, Phil, I was wrong there. He said nothing. So in terms of what you're hearing officials, he's keeping up that optimism, and does he have a game plan getting onto Air Force One?

MATTINGLY: Yeah, he is going to have a call with Speaker Kevin McCarthy when he gets onto Air Force One after this press conference will be heading straight there. And it's a call that I think is an absolute necessity at this point.

Speaker Kevin McCarthy has asked for this phone call after days of negotiations between the top negotiators for House Republicans and the White House have simply yielded nothing. I'll give you a very technical policy term here. Things aren't great right now at all. In fact, there's no real progress or clear pathway forward. And I think while that is not abnormal for negotiations, particularly very hard- edge negotiations between two sides with very different positions, it's a problem when you only have eleven days until a potential default.

And I think that's the wild card here that's so different from past negotiations, all of which I've covered throughout the course of the last decade or so. And I think to some degree, one of the interesting elements of being here at the G7 was talking to advisors, to some of the foreign leaders or some of the G7 member countries who kind of said, we're used to this, right? We're a little sanguine about all this right now because you seem to do this every single time and always find a way out of it. And I think the concern right now is given where things stand in terms of the dynamics, in terms of the very different positions and in terms of the fact that President Biden has been very clear that he doesn't think anything should be attached to a dead ceiling increase, which is completely an anathema to where House Republicans are at this point in time.

How do you resolve this and then actually whip the boats to get it passed both the House and the Senate, and get it to the President's desk in 11 days? That's tough. And so I think there's a lot of work to do and I think the hope at this point in time is that the two leaders, the Speaker and the President, talking on Air Force One, could perhaps jar something loose because they certainly need it right now. Paula?

NEWTON: Yeah, and the stakes are high, you know, certainly, Janet Yellen, U.S. Treasury Secretary, has been very blunt about the risks and those risks have been made, I'm sure, apparently clear if they weren't already to the President as he sat down with those E.U. allies.

Phil Mattingly, there for us at the press conference. You will be standing by. We do expect to hear from the President at any moment. We want to go back to Kevin Liptak who is also standing by as this press conference is about to begin.


You know, we had a lot of talk about Ukraine, Kevin, and yet China was also top of mind in a way it hasn't been at other summits. It's certainly formed a part of the communique. What was your takeaway in terms of how the G7 leaders and their countries will now deal with China, given its more assertive posture, to use a word from the U.S. Defense Secretary?

LIPTAK: Yeah, I think it's clear after these three days that there is a real desire among these leaders to coalesce around a unified China policy. They're still on their way there. I don't think that the communique and the language that you saw this week necessarily is the final product, but it has been fascinating to watch. You know, until two years ago, China was not a subject for these summits at all. And it was at that summit that the President Biden's first G7 Summit in England that they first mentioned China in their final communique. And it has been a subject that President Biden in particular has stressed needs to be confronted by this bloc in particular. And so what you saw this week was a real attempt to coalesce around some language when it comes to what the United States calls economic coercion. And the phrase that you hear repeated over and over again is de-risk,

not decouple. And it's basically an acknowledgment that these countries are never going to completely sever ties with Beijing. It's a manufacturing giant. The trading relationships are too important. And instead of sort of cutting themselves off completely, the desire is really to remove some of the national security risks from the relationship. Things like more resilient supply chains and you've already seen that from the United States putting some restrictions on exports of semiconductors, things like investments, trying to limit what can be invested in China.

And so the leaders did coalesce around language there. I think the area where there still is work to be done is when it comes to the security relationship. The situation around Taiwan, the situation in the South China Sea, that has been a potent atmosphere around the summit in advance of the summit, Chinese worships did sail very close to Japan, and so it has informed a lot of the discussions here. The G7 only takes place in Asia every seven years. And so I think it did loom somewhat larger here than it has in the past.

But the United States and the Europeans are on different pages somewhat when it comes to Taiwan. You saw that very clearly when the French President, Emmanuel Macron, said just this month that the Europeans should not be a vassal state of the United States, they shouldn't follow the United States blindly into war with Beijing in the event of a Chinese invasion of Taiwan.

I'm not sure that those differences were necessarily reconciled here in Hiroshima, but certainly the leaders do seem to be in the same page that they need to come up with some sort of agreement on how to confront this threat that is not going anywhere in the years to come.

NEWTON: Yeah. And a threat that's become ever more complicated in the last couple of years. Kevin Liptak for us, really appreciate your insights. You will continue to stand by for us as we continue to stand by for that press conference from Hiroshima. Appreciate it.

Now Nebraska joins other U.S. states to ban most abortions. Just ahead, the limited options women in the state will have as the conservative legislature passes a restrictive bill. And New York struggles to accommodate migrants bused from the southern border. We'll tell you about the city's plan to get recent migrants closer to where they want to be.



NEWTON: The G7 Summit in Japan has concluded, and we are awaiting President Biden's news conference before he heads back to Washington. That is a shot of the podium, and we do expect the President to approach that podium at any moment. It has been a hectic several days for the President, who's been trying to handle long distance negotiations back home to raise the debt limit while still attending to Ukraine and other serious matters at that summit in Hiroshima. Of course, we will bring you that press conference live. We do expect it in just the next few moments.

Now, in the meantime, though, we turn to Nebraska, where the conservative legislature has voted to ban abortions after 12 weeks of pregnancy. The law, known as the Let Them Grow Act, would also restrict gender affirming care for transgender people under the age of 19. It now goes to the Governor's desk for his signature. CNN's Camila Bernal has our details.


CAMILA BERNAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We are waiting for the Governor of Nebraska to sign this bill into law. And we expect them to do so. Now, the Let Them Grow Act has two pieces to it. The gender affirming care part and the abortion part of it.

Now, when it comes to the abortion part of it, this was an amendment, a last-minute amendment that was actually added on Wednesday. And I do want to explain that gender affirming care part of it. First, what this bill would do is prohibit healthcare providers from performing gender transition surgeries for anyone under the age of 19.

Now, this is actually rare when it comes to minors. The other part of the bill is that it would essentially restrict access to puberty blocking medication or hormone treatments for anyone under the age of 19. And this is standard care.

Now, the other aspect of this bill is the abortion part. And what it would do here in Nebraska is ban abortions, or most abortions at 12 weeks. There are some exceptions when it comes to sexual assault, to incest, or to medical emergencies. Of course, there was a big debate over both of these issues on the floor, and I want you to listen to what some of these lawmakers had to say.


MIKE JACOBSON, NEBRASKA REPUBLICAN STATE SENATOR: We're not the bad guys. We're trying to protect young children and young adults that before the age of 19. And we're trying to protect preborn children from being brutally murdered in the womb.

SEN. GEORGE DUNGAN, NEBRASKA DEMOCRATIC STATE SENATOR: Colleagues, we should not be in the business of telling people what they can and can't do with their body bodies. And we should not be in the business of stepping between doctors and patients in circumstances like this.

BERNAL: Now, there has been a lot of opposition for this bill, and a number of people were arrested on Friday.


And another thing to keep in mind here is that the abortion part of this bill would go into effect the day after the governor signs it. But the gender affirming care part of the bill would go into effect on October 1. Of course, we would need that signature first. Camila Bernal, CNN, Los Angeles.


NEWTON: The U.S. transportation security administration screened more than 2.6 million people at airports nationwide Friday. That's the most since the coronavirus pandemic began. And it's also a 10% increase over the same time last year. It could be a hint of a huge summer to come for air travel. AAA is predicting an 11% increase from memorial day weekend compared to 2019, which was before the pandemic. Major airlines say they have staffed up and are ready for the summer onslaught. We certainly hope so.

Now, despite plummeting numbers of migrants making their way across the U.S. southern border, the city of New York is struggling to accommodate migrants who continue to arrive, even those who are hoping to move on. CNN's Gloria Pazmino shows us how the city is trying to handle them when they get to New York.


GLORIA PAZMINO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Now, tell you a little bit about what we have been watching here outside of the Roosevelt hotel all day. We have been watching as migrants arrive. Many of them include children, young people, families who are arriving here to New York City after being bused from the southern border.

Now the city has set up this place as a sort of first stop for migrants. They are being brought here from the local bus terminal in hopes of connecting them to the available resources. This hotel is being set up as a place where migrants can rest, they can shower, go to the bathroom, they can sleep if needed for a night or two. They are also provided food, water and medical care. And then they are connected with the services that they might need.

I want to show you what it looks like inside the hotel. You can see that they've set up different waiting areas and common areas for people to try and get on whatever journey they are trying to get on. Many of the migrants that are being sent to New York City do not intend to stay in New York City. Some of them are trying to connect with other family members or travel to other parts of the country. And the city is trying to step in and help them do just that.

But there are also some very real challenges when it comes to sheltering migrants. The city of New York has been running out of shelter space and we watched today as a couple of migrants were removed from this location and sent to another shelter location likely to be given a place in one of the city's local shelters while they wait to resolve their housing situation. That is certainly one of the challenges that the city is dealing with.

I spoke with one of the local advocates that has been working with migrants and with the city to try and connect them to services.

MURAD AWAWDEH, EXEC. DIR. NEW YORK IMMIGRATION COALITION: New York has welcomed people for centuries from across the world, from Europe, from Asia, from Africa, the Middle East and beyond. Immigrants and refugees have built the city, have really are part and parcel of the social fabric and cultural fabric of what we call New York. Not just here in the city, but across the state. And immigrant communities and refugees have actually brought back communities and have been the backbone of local economies.

PAZMINO: Now, despite that reputation that New York City has always had as being a place where migrants are always welcome, you have seen in the last several weeks that there has been some conflict with the suburbs outside of the city, particularly after Mayor Eric Adams here announced that he would be busing some migrants out of the city in order to alleviate some of the capacity constraints that the city has been dealing with.

Other places around the city have not been as welcoming. Some have filed lawsuits in an attempt to stop the city from busing migrants. So it just really shows you how much tension and difficulty there has been over the last several days as migrants continue to arrive here in New York, despite numbers at the border being significantly down since the expiration of Title 42.

We've spoken with advocates here who tell us that despite numbers at the border, migrants are continuing to arrive here in the area. So again, the mayor asking for federal intervention for federal funding and asking other local lawmakers in the city to lobby the White House to get some of that federal funding. Reporting in New York, Gloria Pazmino, CNN.


NEWTON: OK. Just ahead for us, Volodymyr Zelenskyy's whirlwind diplomatic tour took him from European capital to the. Middle East and now to Japan for the G7 Summit, where his meetings with world leaders took place face to face. Were they successful? You will hear from the former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine. Stay with us.



NEWTON: And welcome back to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. I'm Paula Newton, and this is CNN Newsroom. U.S. President Joe Biden will be returning to Washington in the coming hours, where he will have to deal with congressional Republicans who are refusing to raise the national debt limit.

Now, if that's not done soon, the U.S. could default on its debts for the very first time in history, and the fallout could be severe. Right now, Mr. Biden is, though, still in Hiroshima, Japan. You see the podium there. He attended the G7 Summit. It has wrapped up. The war in Ukraine, of course, the top item on this year's agenda. And President Volodymyr Zelenskyy made a surprise appearance at the summit to plead for more military assistance.

Now, for more on this story, I'm joined by Ambassador John Herbst. He is the Senior Director of the Atlantic Council's Eurasia Center and a former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine. And I thank you for your time. As I'm sure it has been interesting for you to watch all the biography of everything that's happened with Zelenskyy in the last few days. Zelenskyy's expectations look, he secured both moral and military support, and yet, you know, arguably, some would say that this just enables further military escalation. In your view, what has all of this accomplished?

AMB. JOHN HERBST, SENIOR DIRECTOR, EURASIA CENTER, ATLANTIC COUNCIL: Look, those who say this only allows for the military escalation are saying that the victim does not have a right to defend itself. And in this case, the victim has been subject to massive war crimes which border on genocide. So that's an amoral and actually a politically ignorant point of view.


Ukraine has been able to fight the Kremlin to a standstill, and I suspect with the equipment that Zelenskyy has been receiving, or the procurement whose approval he has been receiving, will enable them to conduct a very successful counter offensive later this year.

If he had F-16s now, if he had the long-range missiles, not just the British Storm Shadow, but the U.S. attack comes now, he can conduct a massively successful counter offensive even without all of these things? Yes, some of them. He will conduct a successful counter offensive now, which will make the Russian seizure of Bakhmut, if that in fact has happened, seem like rather small change.

NEWTON: Yeah, it's interesting what you say about people who point to this being a political escalation. I mean, look, no one has paid a higher price than Ukraine through that military escalation. I was interested to hear from President Zelenskyy as he was landing in Japan to tweet, this will bring us closer to peace. And his point is that what you said, when I get that military hardware, the faster I get it, the faster we can end this conflict.

When you look at this counter offensive and what might be approaching in the spring, what do you think will make the difference there? Because they do not have the F-16s right now, and they've obviously suffered heavy, heavy losses in Bakhmut.

HERBST: One, it looks like the Russians have suffered at least five casualties for every one Ukrainian casualty in Bakhmut. That's according to British intelligence. The Ukrainians think the ratio is more like 7.5 to one. Moscow is unable to conduct a greater offensive this year. Even if they've taken Bakhmut, this is as far as they're going.

I have confidence that, given what Ukraine has put together right now, at a minimum, it will conduct a counter offensive, which will take several hundred square kilometers of Ukrainian territory away from the Russians returning to Kyiv's control. It's quite possible their offensive will be much more successful than that, but they will at least achieve that.

NEWTON: And given what Zelenskyy said about Ukraine, I'm not going to get into the semantics about who's actually taking it in terms of Bakhmut, right? He's saying that there's nothing left there. What does it tell us? Because the ally were skeptical that Ukraine should have taken Russia on in that area in the first place?

HERBST: Well, I think this has been, at a minimum, a success in blunting Moscow's offensive. I mean, look, it's taken Moscow if, in fact, they have captured all of it, and it looks like that's not necessarily so. It's taken them eight months to take the city. Putin had set a deadline of mid-December, and here we are approaching the end of May.

And maybe they've captured it, maybe they haven't. And in the meantime, according to U.S. estimates, Russia has suffered 100,000 casualties since December. And they are unable they've spent their artillery, they've spent their weaponry, and they've spent especially their human and their soldiers' lives in this effort. So if it turns out to be a, "Kremlin victory," it will be a period of victory.

NEWTON: Which, as you point out, may have come at great, great cost to their capability to continue this conflict in other areas of Ukraine.

I want to get back to that G7 meeting for a moment. You know, India was there. Brazil was there. I'm just naming two countries that have not really taken a position, although in not taking a position, they have certainly significantly hobbled Ukraine in its efforts.

You know, Prime Minister Modi was quite conciliatory in what he said. And yet president Lula from Brazil, really, from what we understand at this hour, still hasn't even agreed to a bilateral with Zelenskyy. How important do you think these countries are in terms of trying to bring them on board? Do you think it may materially affect. How this conflict goes forward and how long it lasts?

HERBST: Well, all of these things point to Putin's diplomatic isolation. Modi, of course, is in charge of the world's greatest democracy -- not greatest, but its largest democracy. And I'm sure Putin was deeply unhappy as he watched Modi and Zelenskyy meet together in a bilateral.

Lula has been appeasing the authoritarians in a truly disgraceful manner. When he went to China and talked about, you know, let's have an alternate currency to the dollar, and his refusal to meet with Zelenskyy, it's a really rather shameful performance. And I think that this is well understood by people in Brazil.

NEWTON: Yeah. And we'll continue to see how Zelenskyy's efforts continue on those points. He also went to the Arab League and tried to deal with some of the people there who are still having significant relations, diplomatic and otherwise, with Russia.


Ambassador John Herbst, we'll have to leave it there. But I really thank you for your time.

HERBST: My pleasure. Thank you.

NEWTON: And we want to bring in our Kevin Liptak again, who is standing by as we await that press conference from President Biden as he wraps the G7 summit in Japan.

Kevin, I just want to bring you up to date as well on some reporting we have into CNN about the Ukrainian defense -- Deputy Defense Minister saying to CNN that in fact, she disputes that the Bakhmut has been completely taken over by Russian forces and that, in their words, the city is not completely encircled and that they still have strongholds in the suburbs.

I mean, Kevin, this is probably a level of detail that the President is briefed about, of course, but it, again, materially, perhaps does not affect what is going on now. What they're looking at is how is this going to affect the conflict in the months to come, given the military aid and given the steps in terms of providing that military aid, how far they've come in this summit, the pivotal point., right? Kevin, you said it quite a reversal on F-16s. What do you make of how quickly that happened, really, while you were on the ground there in Japan?

LIPTAK: Yeah, well, it had been in the works for some time. The President's National Security Adviser, Jake Sullivan, had sort of taken the lead in these negotiations, in these talks with the G7 leaders and with President Zelenskyy's government as well. And so this had been in the works for some time, but it was a reversal on the part of the President. And the way they explained it is they still do not believe that Ukraine needs these F-16s at this very moment. They don't think be effective, but they do believe that down the road they could provide some long-term deterrence measures for Ukraine as it battles this Russian aggression.

One thing that we don't know at this point is how long it will take to train up these Ukrainian pilots. There was word from back in the United States that perhaps the training would be a little faster than had initially been predicted.

Certainly, President Zelenskyy wants those jets flying as soon as he can. The real caution that President Biden had had initially was the risk of escalation. He certainly did not want President Putin to regard these F-16s as an escalation in this conflict, and he doesn't want President Zelenskyy to end up using them inside Russian territory.

The White House has said that any weapons that they provide to Ukraine should not be used in Russian territory. So it was a major reversal, and it was kind of the centerpiece of the Ukraine talks this week.

It came after several other reversals on the part of the President when it came to military aid. And you'll remember, he was initially against sending Abrams tanks to Ukraine. He came around and sent them. He was initially against sending longer range missiles. He came around and sent them as well. And so as this conflict progresses, as the situation progresses on the battlefield, it's clear that the President's willingness to go further and further is also progressing.

And it will be interesting to see potentially what is next in that eventual progression. But certainly it's something I think the President will probably talk about when he comes out and speaks. And hopefully soon.

NEWTON: Yeah, hopefully soon as we await that. And definitely the list of the military hardware given to Ukraine we have seen in the last few months has made a material difference to the outcome of this conflict so far. I want to switch gears a little bit, Kevin, talk about something that perhaps is going to give you a little bit of trauma, given everything you've already been through with a debt crisis. We are here, again, a lot of back and forth. You know, they thought they were close to a deal a couple of days ago, and yet we are back down to the wire and into more crisis talks.

From what you're hearing from officials, is there some new deal on the table? And I know that the President is going to get on Air Force One and probably get immediately on the phone with the House Speaker. And yet are there, can you fill it out for us a little bit more in terms of what the sticking points are and if there has been any movement?

LIPTAK: Yeah, right now the sticking points appear to be on levels of federal spending. They've worked through a number of other issues, but this seems to be the major snag at this point. Republicans want to revert spending levels to those of 2022. Democrats, they offered a proposal that decreased some defense spending but left other domestic programs intact. The Republicans balked at that. And so we're now kind of at this point where both sides are sharpening their language, accusing the other side of not negotiating in good faith and of caving to the liberal and conservative wings, respectively, of each of their parties.

I think when President Biden finishes this press conference and gets back on Air Force One and gets on the phone with the House Speaker, Kevin McCarthy, the hope is that they can sort of break the log jam of sorts. Because you have heard Kevin McCarthy over the last several days say that he doesn't think any progress can be made until President Biden reengages in these talks directly.


President Biden, you know, we heard from him yesterday. He was a little more sanguine about it. He said essentially that this is what he expected, the posturing, the bluster. He said he's been through these negotiations before, but he was still optimistic that a debt agreement could be reached.

You know, it is interesting. It is topic that's come up in the G7 meetings here between President Biden and his counterparts, between President Biden's aides and their counterparts. You know, the President's National Security Adviser, Jake Sullivan described it as a point of interest. He said that there wasn't a lot of anxiety. He said what he called there wasn't vibration in the room on this issue. But I do think it's hard to escape the fact that this would pose a real significant challenge to the global economy.

For all of the talk of China and Russia at this summit, there is no greater threat to global stability than the potential of an American default. It would send the entire global economy into tailspin. And so these leaders, I think, were looking for some kind of reassurance from President Biden that a deal could be reached. The other problem with this is that it does nothing to rebut the sense that you hear from Europeans, particularly from Europeans, that the American political system is just in a state of dysfunction. That's something that's a problem for them, particularly when it comes to Ukraine, to sustaining support for Ukraine. This debt back and forth does nothing to sort of convince them that the American political system is in a state of functionality at the moment.

So that's another topic that President Biden is certainly to be asked about here. We haven't heard from it substantively, I think, in quite a while. So it will be interesting to see how he characterizes these talks today.

NEWTON: Yeah, interesting that you mentioned that because the Speaker McCarthy, in fact has seemed to waver a little bit on Ukraine and on funding Ukraine. The big word that's always used in D.C. is that there shouldn't be a blank check. Exactly what that means, many are unsure. But as this debate unfolds, no doubt the spending on Ukraine will become an issue, even if it doesn't form part of these debt negotiations.

I want to ask you, though, about President Biden's approach to this, because many will question he at first said that he wouldn't negotiate, right? That this -- you know, for our viewers listening in here, some believe this should just be automatic. You've spent the money, you now have to pay, you have to decide that you are going to pay your bills. President Biden has always said this is the way it should be done. That's what President Trump did. Why can't we just do the same and automatically increase that spending limit? What's been different here about the President kind of going back and forth, at first saying he wouldn't negotiate, and yet now, again, we are down to the wire, staring down a June 1 deadline, and the Speaker is saying, look, you must negotiate with us. This is the only way this is going to get resolved.

LIPTAK: Yeah, I mean, the White House still maintains, somewhat perplexingly, that they aren't attaching the debt limit to these negotiations, but it's clear from anyone watching that they are attached.

You know, there's been a lot of criticism that the President entered these negotiations too late. Kevin McCarthy had asked him to sit down to talk about the budget months ago. The President said he was waiting for Kevin McCarthy to put out his own budget plan.

So both sides are accusing each other of delaying these talks. The bottom line is the talks are reaching a moment where they do need to come to an agreement. The potential deadline is June 1 for when the United States could potentially run out of cash to pay its bills.

Now, I think you did mention something interesting, which was this potential that the Biden administration will have to go back to Congress to ask for more funding for Ukraine. They haven't done that yet in the Republican controlled House. The President's aides do say that they see bipartisan support for Ukraine in Congress. But, you know, that hasn't been tested yet because they haven't actually asked lawmakers for the money.

And I think that isn't another thing that's coming down the pike. It's certainly something that you hear from leaders here as they watch this growing isolationist strain in the Republican Party. It's something that they really want to know how that will be resolved, particularly as the American Republican primary process gets underway.

These leaders, as they have for the last several summits, are watching for the potential return of someone like President Trump, perhaps even President Trump himself, and wondering what it would mean for this Western alliance that President Biden has been so effective in bringing together.

You know, we saw President Zelenskyy today with the world leaders at the G7. He took that 8th spot around the table. That spot was once held by Russia, by Russian President Vladimir Putin before Russia was ejected from the G8 over its annexation of Crimea. You know, president Trump actually wanted to bring Russia back into the G7. He had quite a heated argument with fellow leaders at his last G7 in Biarritz, France, about this issue. He was opposed by leaders like Angela Merkel, Boris Johnson, who were in power at the time.


But it's certainly an open question of how a Republican president would handle this issue. And you just heard President Trump last week at our CNN town hall, he wouldn't say that he wanted Ukraine to win this war, and he said he thought he could resolve the crisis in a day. That doesn't lend a lot of confidence to the leaders here who aren't all that enthusiastic about a return to that sort of chaotic summit that occurred in the Trump years.

And so I think this all lends a certain degree of uncertainty as these leaders depart from here in Japan. There is some questions about how much support can be sustained going forward, whether their fatigue will set in in these populations, whether, you know, these leaders popularity will affect their ability to maintain the strength of sanctions, to maintain the strength of military assistance to Ukraine going forward. That's something you hear from plenty of officials on the sidelines of this summit is sort of the lingering festering concern that hasn't necessarily been resolved as the summit concludes here in the next few minutes.

NEWTON: Yeah, so many issues, even just with the spending, when you think about it, because you talked about how the former President Donald Trump had said he could end the war in a day. What does that mean in terms of any change of government, if there is one after the next presidential election, given how much can they count on the United States to keep that up.

I do want to go back to you, having said that they didn't have to go back to Congress yet in order to basically get more spending or to approve more spending for Ukraine. There was this issue that they actually have more money than they fought for Ukraine, given there was some kind of an accounting error. I don't know exactly how the White House portrayed this and what

officials said to you about this, but that's one of the reasons where they continue to fund and come up with more funding, and yet they say it's an accounting error. We actually didn't account for it properly, which means we actually have more money for Ukraine than we thought we did.

LIPTAK: Right. And it probably delayed by -- I don't know, maybe a few months, the time when they would need to go back to Congress to ask for more money. And in fact, last year, when the President passed the supplemental bill, the amount of money that Democrats who then held the House of Representatives included for Ukraine was much more than the Biden administration actually asked for.

And part of the reason for that was because they knew that Republicans were taking control. And so they did build in sort of this pad of money that will allow them to sustain support. And the date I've heard thrown around is in September, when the spending process will have to begin again.

And so that is an open question of how many Republicans will come on board with that. And so I think when President Biden speaks today, one of the things I think he'll want to convey to the press, to the world leaders who are listening to this press conference, is that he is confident that this support for Ukraine can be sustained.

And I think you'll hearing that from other leaders who are holding their own press conferences on the sidelines of the summit, too, as they prepare to leave.

NEWTON: Kevin, we do see the President now, and we want to take you right to Hiroshima, Japan, where President Biden will be addressing the press after the G7 Summit.

BIDEN: There's enough press here. Well, good evening, everyone. Before turning the important work we accomplished here at the G7, I want to take a few minutes addressing the budget negotiations that I'm heading back home to deal with.

Before I left for this trip, I met with all four congressional leaders, and we agreed the only way to move forward was in a bipartisan agreement. I've done my part. We put forward a proposal to cut spending by more than a trillion dollars on top of the nearly $3 trillion in deficit reduction that I've previously proposed through the combination of spending cuts and new revenues.

Now, it's time for the other side to move from their extreme positions, because much of what they've already proposed is simply, quite frankly, unacceptable. And so let me be clear, I'm not going to agree to a deal that protects, for example, $30 billion tax break for the oil industry, which made $200 billion last year. They don't need an incentive of another $30 billion while putting health care of 21 million Americans at risk by going after Medicaid.

I'm not going to agree to a deal that protects $200 billion in excess payments for pharmaceutical industries and refusing to count that while cutting over 100,000 school teachers and assistance jobs, 30,000 law enforcement officers jobs cut across the entire United States America.

I'm not going to agree to a deal that protects wealthy tax sheets and crypto traders while putting food assistance at risk for nearly 100 -- well, assuming nearly 1 million Americans. It's time for Republicans to accept that there is no bipartisan deal.