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Anti-Putin Russians Claim Attack On Border Region Of Belgorod; President Joe Biden And Kevin McCarthy Meeting "Productive," But No Deal Reached; Storm Is Now Equivalent Of Strong Category 4 Hurricane; Ukrainian Forces: Bakhmut Remains 'Epicenter of Fighting'; PM Rejects Coalition Government in Greece, Second Vote Likely; E.U. Fines Meta $1.3 Billion for Privacy Law Violations. Aired 12-12:45a ET

Aired May 23, 2023 - 00:00   ET




JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Ahead this hour on CNN, Russian forces claims the city in ruins and victory in the battle for Bakhmut. The longest running battle so far in the war in Ukraine may give Putin a military victory, but it will come at an incredible cost.

Optimism but still no deal. The U.S. President and Speaker of the House hold direct talks over raising the debt ceiling.

And 16 years after Madeleine McCann went missing, investigators from three different countries descending on a remote dam in Portugal.

ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN Center, this is CNN NEWSROOM with John Vause.

VAUSE: Thank you for joining us for CNN NEWSROOM, we begin with a rare attack on Russian soil. Two groups of pro Ukrainian Russian fighters, known as Freedom of Russia Legion and Russian Volunteer Corps say they liberated a settlement in the Belgorod region which sits along the border with Ukraine.

The attack left eight people injured and a number of buildings damaged from shelling. Ukrainian officials insisting neither group is directly linked to the government in Kyiv and say both are acting independently.

A spokesman for the Kremlin says security forces are working to find what he called a sabotage and reconnaissance group and claims the attack was meant to divert attention away from Russian forces claiming victory in the battle for the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut.

Over the weekend, the head of the Russian mercenary group Wagner claimed his fighters had taken the city and would hand it over to the Russian military on Thursday. More details now from CNN's Fred Pleitgen.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): A rude awakening for Russians in the border area with Ukraine, gunfire and explosions as two groups known as the Free Russia Legion and the Russian Volunteer Corps. Russians fighting for Ukraine so they captured one village and entered another in the Belgorod region.

Today, it's time for everyone to take responsibility for their future, one of the leaders says. It's time to put an end to the Kremlin's dictatorship.

Kyiv acknowledges the free Russia Legion are part of Ukraine's security forces but says Ukraine has nothing to do with the incursion into Russia, Putin's spokesman irate.

The purpose of the Ukrainian sabotage in the Belgorod region is to divert attention from the situation in the Bakhmut direction, he said.

The raid spoils what was supposed to be Russia's big victory lap. Flanked by his mercenaries Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin claiming to have taken all of Bakhmut this weekend.

Today at noon at 12:00, Bakhmut has been fully captured, he said.

Shortly after Russian social media channeled filling with pro Wagner propaganda, Mercenaries screaming victory and celebrating with champagne showers.

But Ukraine's Deputy Defense Minister quick to deny the Russian claims.

HANNA MALIAR, UKRAINIAN DEPUTY DEFENSE MINISTER (through translator): The Ukrainian Armed Forces retained control of certain industrial facilities and private houses in the southwestern area.

PLEITGEN (voice over): From the air and from the ground, Bakhmut looks apocalyptic. Any strategic value the town may have had for the Kremlin laid to waste.

Ukraine's forces already fighting back, making what they say have been significant gains. North and south of Bakhmut taking swathes of land back quickly.

Bakhmut was supposed to be both strategic and symbolic for Russia in its fight for control of East Ukraine. But Wagner says their forces will withdraw on May 25th after months of ferocious fighting and countless dead. The city will be placed under Russian military control whose commanders have done more withdrawing than advancing recently.



VAUSE: Liam Collins is a retired U.S. Army Colonel who's now a permanent member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He's also the co-author of Understanding Urban Warfare. Thank you for joining us.

COL. LIAM COLLINS (RET.), U.S. ARMY: You're welcome.

VAUSE: So, there have been similar, if not more limited smaller attacks carried out by these pro-Ukrainian, anti-Putin Russian fighters. But is this one -- the more recent one, is it significant? And is it a step up from previous attacks? And how serious should they be taken when a spokesman tells CNN they want to, "Liberate our motherland from the tyranny of Putin"?

COLLINS: Yes, in terms of the conflict in Ukraine is not going to significantly impact the tactical or the operational fight there.

But in terms of right, Russia, I think it is somewhat significant. I mean, this is a sizable attack by Russian citizens on Russian territory. So, Putin doesn't have the firm grip of his populace they would like the world to believe.

But until they can repeat this and demonstrate that they're able to do this repeatedly, then it's not really going to impact the fight. They've got to do it repeatedly for Russia, then divert combat forces from Ukraine to their border.

VAUSE: Yes, well, guess what, there may be trouble brewing at home for Putin, there is victory for him, at least in name. In Ukraine, the battle for Bakhmut which began almost a year ago with Moscow failed to take Kyiv.

Ramped up back in August, so assuming for a time that there is some strategic value to Bakhmut, does Putin have the manpower or the resources to use that city to try and move Russian forces further into the Donetsk region?

COLLINS: No, I mean, absolutely not. I mean, this is a city that really has little tactical and no strategic value. No doubt Putin will try to sell this as a win. But I don't think his own populace believes that it's the success that they're trying to sell at us.

And if you look at it, really, it's an unmitigated disaster for the Russians, right?

As you mentioned, it took them 10 months of heavy fighting just to take this, right, really small city of little tactical value. And in that process, right, he lost 10, you know, probably hundreds, maybe thousands of soldiers at the expense of great ammunition that's not easily replaced.

So, really, it -- I mean, their ability to launch and move forward from this is very debatable based on how much it took just to take this and how long it took to take it.

VAUSE: I want you to listen to the Ukrainian president who's taking questions from reporters over the weekend at the G7 summit, here he is.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, is Bakhmut still in Ukraine's hands? The Russians say they have taken Bakhmut.

VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT: I think no. But you have to understand that there is nothing, they've destroy everything, there are no buildings. It's a pity, it's a tragedy but for today, Bakhmut it is only in our heart.


VAUSE: There's nothing really left to the city, which seems to be of any value and you know, maybe in Zelenskyy's heart, but will the Ukrainians now try and actually retake Bakhmut? Is there any value for that? Or will they just sort of focus on this counter offensive?

COLLINS: Yes, I mean, Ukraine shown throughout the war, I mean, they will attack at the time and place of their choosing, because they are a much smaller military and do that very effectively.

So, they defend where they can, they give up territory where they must to preserve combat power to fight another day. And they've done that effectively throughout.

So, they won't retake what is left of Bakhmut unless right they feel that there's a strategic position to do that. But I wouldn't expect them to do that. Because I think they're going to launch the counter offensive in other locations where the Russians aren't -- where their combat power is not masked.

VAUSE: I know that Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of the Wagner Mercenary Group, he claimed victory in Bakhmut. I want you to listen to part of what he said. And he begins here addressing Ukrainian soldiers, here he is.


YEVGENY PRIGOZHIN, FOUNDER, WAGNER PRIVATE MILITARY COMPANY (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.


VAUSE: It's notable he did not say the Russian military as being the best in the world, but rather his Mercenary Group. But if this is, in fact, not a strategic win, but instead a political win, then is it a political win for Prigozhin or Putin?

COLLINS: Yes, again, I would -- it'd be hard to sell this to the political win for Putin at all. If anything, it's for Prigozhin, he could try to sell it as a win.

But then again, this just shows the dysfunction in the Russian military, that you have this private army that arguably fights better than the Russian military and all the -- all the conflict that's causing with him and the generals, so it really shows the lack of unity among the Russian command.

VAUSE: And also, Prigozhin seems to be using this as some kind of springboard to -- I don't know, setting himself as the heir apparent to Putin. Is that how it's been read?


COLLINS: I mean, that's how a lot of people are interpreting this. Of course, that's a fine line to try to set yourself up as heir apparent versus a political rival. And so, he's got to walk that fine line because a lot of rivals may not -- may not live to be a rival.

VAUSE: Good point to finish on. Colonel, thank you so much for being with us. We appreciate your time.

COLLINS: You're welcome.

VAUSE: Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant is now reconnected to the national power grid after a brief outage on Monday.

According to Ukraine's national energy company, Russian shelling damaged a high voltage power line, which supplies the plant with electricity to run cooling systems and other critical functions.

The facility has been occupied by Russian forces since the first weeks of the war, and has been a constant target of artillery fire, and other attacks.

According to the Reuters news agency, a plan to safeguard the plant and avoid a nuclear disaster is expected later this month after U.N. brokered negotiations between Russia and Ukraine.

The celebrated seven day ceasefire in Sudan is off to a tenuous start. Witnesses in Khartoum report, fighter jets overhead and gunfire in neighboring cities. The Sudanese armed forces and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces had agreed to the truce starting Monday night to allow humanitarian aid to reach thousands of trapped civilians. Sudanese reserve police were on patrol in the capital Sunday ahead of the start of the ceasefire.

Five weeks of urban warfare has forced more than one million Sudanese from their homes, including a quarter million who fled the country.

The U.S. government is set to run out of money in about 10 days from now, unless Republicans in Congress agree to raise the debt limit, then the U.S. economy and for that read the global economy is heading into treacherous uncharted territory.

The president and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy met Monday, described their talks as productive. U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, who has been a constant reminder of the matters urgency.

In a letter to Congress, she informed lawmakers another week of data and negotiations have done nothing to avoid the looming default. CNN's Jeremy Diamond has more now reporting in from Washington.


JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, with just 10 days until the United States could potentially default on its obligations, President Biden and speaker Kevin McCarthy emerging from their meeting on Monday both calling it a productive meeting. But no specifics in terms of what kind of progress was actually achieved during a meeting that lasted more than an hour in the Oval Office on Monday.

In fact, both sides are clearly still very far apart on some of the major points of discussion here in terms of the spending caps, for example, how long and at what level will those spending caps be set. Both sides so far appear to be very far apart.

And I also got to ask the Speaker of the House, Kevin McCarthy about something that President Biden raised at the beginning of that meeting, and that is that the President wants revenue increases to be on the table, closing tax loopholes for example.

I asked the speaker if that's on the table for him, the speaker was very direct. And he said, no, that is off the table for him in terms of discussions, he wants to cut spending and that's where he thinks the focus should be.

He also said that cuts to defense spending are off the table, something that the White House had also raised.

And so, it's clear that there's still a very big gulf between these two sides.

Nonetheless, the speaker saying that the tenor of the meeting was more productive and more conducive to reaching an agreement than at any point in the discussions that we've seen over these last three weeks.

But the clock is clearly ticking and the Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, on Monday, reiterating her assessments, that the United States default would likely come in early June.

She says, "We estimate that it is highly likely that Treasury will no longer be able to satisfy all of the government's obligations, if Congress has not acted to raise or suspend the limit the debt limit by early June and potentially as early as June 1st".

The Secretary said in the letter last week to congressional leaders that she viewed that timeline as likely, so moving that confidence level up to highly likely only increasing the pressure on the White House, and those Republican lawmakers were negotiating this deal to actually get there.

Jeremy Diamond, CNN, the White House.


VAUSE: Rana Foroohar is a CNN Global Economic Analyst and a global business columnist and associate editor at the Financial Times. She is with us this hour from New York. Rana, it's good to see you. It's been a while.

RANA FOROOHAR, CNN GLOBAL ECONOMIC ANALYST: It's great to see you too, John.

VAUSE: OK, so let's begin with Congressman Patrick McHenry, a Republican, he's part of the debt negotiations or debt ceiling negotiations, and a key ally of House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. Here he is.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you at all optimistic about what we could accomplish today? Could we get there?



MCHENRY: I've been pessimistic for a while, and something needs to change.


VAUSE: OK, so let's just right -- jump right into Armageddon. If the Republicans refuse to increase the debt limit, they refuse to budge for days or weeks after the government runs out of money. What happens to the U.S. economy?

FOROOHAR: Well, I think it's a very short, sharp shock immediately. You know, I think you'd see markets crashing frankly. I think that you would see a lot of panic in the consumer space, a lot of panic amongst folks that are depending on Social Security checks.


Government workers, folks that, you know, have debt that might start to become more expensive, because, you know, if you -- if you start to get a rise in interest rates because of credit deterioration in the U.S., you know, all kinds of dominoes began to fall.

Janet Yellen has basically said the treasury secretary Janet Yellen has said that this would be a major economic catastrophe. And I can tell you that this is not a woman who's given to hyperbole.

So, if she's willing to go on out on that limb, I think it's a big deal.

VAUSE: What about for the rest of the global economy and where there are losers, the United States, there are often usually winners as well. So, are there winners from this situation if the government -- if the U.S. government does not pay its debt?

FOROOHAR: You know, one of the things that has amazed me about this entire debacle is that Republicans have sounded as we just heard so intransigent. It's worth pausing and thinking about, what would it really mean for, say, China, if the U.S. went over the debt limit?

Well, that would be like a gift to the biggest strategic adversary of the U.S. Hawkish Republicans, you know, are concerned about China. But by making the U.S. currency and the U.S. dollar, and the U.S. dollar system less trustworthy, they would basically be saying to other countries, put your money elsewhere, because you can't trust that the U.S. government is going to pay back its debt.

It's just an incredible statement, really, to anyone who cares about the position geopolitically of the country, but also anybody that has dollar based assets.

VAUSE: You touched on this just a short time ago, but the federal government's obligations which are coming up next month, the bills are due.

So, first of the month of June, military and civilian retirees are owed $12 billion, $47 billion is needed for Medicare providers.

The next day after that June 2nd, $25 billion for Social Security payments, jump forward to June 7th, a billion dollars in tax refunds was set to go out. And then two days after that, $4 billion in federal salaries come due.

And you know, we know from last time around when we talked about this, a lot of federal workers and others are living paycheck to paycheck, and the number of people who will be directly impacted by this and go through a lot of pain, it seems to be in the millions.

FOROOHAR: Oh, 100 percent. Now, I would expect that you would see this president and this administration, really do everything that it could to try and buffer the human cost. They're going to try and be juggling budgets.

You know, there have been some estimates, even though Janet Yellen is saying we could be out of money. And into the red by June 1st, there are some estimates to say you've got another couple of weeks.

So, I expect there's going to be a lot of string pulling. But yes, there is no getting around the fact that this would be a major economic catastrophe, not just in the U.S., but abroad, because the ripple effects in the dollar market would be huge.

VAUSE: And while there may be 10 days or nine days left before the money runs out, one of the concessions that Kevin McCarthy made to the far right MAGA Republicans, so he can become speaker is this three day rule, lawmakers will have three days to read a bill before a vote is scheduled to be held. Here's Speaker McCarthy, listen to this.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): No, I'm not going to waive the three day rule. Because we have the three day rule for a reason. If you want to move a bill such as this, and I know it passed Congress's under Speaker Pelosi was different. They would move trillions of dollars in a day and nobody could read the bill. I'm not going to be afraid of what the agreement comes in in the end,

because I will -- I would sit that bill down. And I would give everybody 72 hours so everybody knows what they're voting on.


VAUSE: So, whenever it happens, and you know, it comes down to the wire, and there is this, you know, need for a vote for Republicans to approve the lifting of the debt ceiling.

You know, is it worth all of the consequences of the economic damage caused by a default by running out of money versus, you know, not giving lawmakers 72 hours or maybe 24 hours to read a bill before they vote on it? It seems kind of, you know, that's way out of whack.

FOROOHAR: Well, I mean, there's that. But John, really, the bigger issue is, why are we again and again, and I feel like you and I've had this conversation. It feels like Groundhog Day, you know, several years ago being in this exact same place. Why are we getting to the point where we're down to the wire where you would even need that three day, you know, time slot and we'd be worried about it as we are now.

It's absurd. It's like being in the Titanic and seeing the iceberg coming and just continuing to steam ahead. That's really the metaphor here.

VAUSE: Which is what the Titanic actually did. I mean, and then actually be aiming for another iceberg.

FOROOHAR: You know what I mean.

VAUSE: Yes. Exactly. Yes, a lot of icebergs out there. Rana, good to see you. Thanks so much.

FOROOHAR: Thank you.


VAUSE: The Secret Service is investigating a car accident near the White House. They say a moving truck crashed into security barriers in a public square late Monday night. These are live images from the U.S. Capitol there, 12:19 on a Tuesday morning. No secret service or White House personnel hurt, the driver though was detained after the crash and no word on what actually caused the incident.

We'll take a break but when we come back, Typhoon Mawar has strengthened to the equivalent of a Category 4 hurricane. They direct hit on Guam still possible, we have the very latest from the CNN Weather Center.

Also, the search resumed 16 years after Madeleine McCann went missing on a family holiday. Investigators are now heading to remote woodland in Portugal.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) VAUSE: Typhoon Mawar has strengthened to the equivalent of a Category 4 hurricane as it approaches Guam. The storm could brush past Guam or make landfall in the coming hours. Wind speeds are expected to continue to pick up approaching 225 kilometers per hour. Typhoon warning is also in effect for the island of Rota.

Meteorologist Britley Ritz is at the CNN Weather Center with the very latest. And they are bracing for a direct hit, right?

BRITLEY RITZ, CNN METEOROLOGISTS: Absolutely, there's the potential for that as the system continues to strengthen a very well defined eye now, which shows you that strengthening, it's pulling in the warm water and this has the potential to become a super typhoon.

Right now, winds around the center at 215 kilometers per hour, gusts up to 16. It is slowing down.

So, as it takes on that warm ocean water, we're talking about temperatures in the mid to upper 20s. That's just fuel here in the West Pacific. This has the potential to become one of the strongest storms in the Pacific for the month of May.

So, here's the American model versus the euro. This is really something to note with that direct impact to Guam, it's taking a further southern track. So, what that means is the upper right hand quadrant comes right in to Guam.

Now, it's also starting to slow down, pay attention. It's still staying off shore from Guam Wednesday morning, which we originally thought would be where it would come in at the time.

Now, it's slowing down. So, we get what's called upwelling where the warmer waters and the cooler waters start to switch so that cool water gets pushed up to the top and it would allow for some weakening but again, the waters are still roughly really warm.

So, there's that, over the next 24 hours, potential landfall coming in right on Guam. Don't pay attention to the direct line. Sure. Could it happen? Yes, but there's still some wiggle room as that I could still move back and forth.

But now forecast to come in within the next 24 hours at 230 kilometers per hour, further strengthening expected as it moves back out to sea pushing toward the northern provinces of the Philippines.


Now, the outer bands really starting to move on to shore to Guam. And we're finally starting to catch a break for a minute before the next band really moves in.

Some heavy rain already tapping in, some of the heavier rain staying south to Guam now that we have that further southern track, but still picking up quite a bit. Over the next five days. We could talk about picking up 250 millimeters of rain. So, on top of that, the winds are really starting to pick up too, we

could tap into a tropical storm force winds within the next 12 hours, John.

VAUSE: Wow, Britley thank you. Britley there with the very latest. We appreciate it.

Well, at least 19 children have died, several others badly hurt after a fire broke out at a school dormitory Sunday night in Guyana. Initial investigation said they found the fire was maliciously set. Police say at least 56 children were in the dorm at the time of the blaze.

Meantime, Guyana's president has promised to do everything he can to help the victims.


MOHAMED IRFAAN ALI, GUYANA'S PRESIDENT: This is a horrific incident, this tragic is painful. I cannot imagine the pain right now of the parents of the children. Concentration now is on the children to see and to ensure that we will do everything to give them as much help as we can and that is what we're doing right now.


VAUSE: The president has also declared three days of national mourning.

A new tip from German investigators has sparked a renewed search for British toddler Madeleine McCann, who disappeared 16 years ago while on a family holiday. Investigators from three countries are now heading to a remote woodland area in Portugal.

McCann was three years old when she vanished from a hotel room. And as CNN's Anna Stewart reports that new information is from the same German prosecutor who has a long time suspect in custody.


ANNA STEWART, CNN REPORTER: A new search 16 years on from the disappearance of Madeleine McCann, her parents marked her 20th birthday just a few days ago, pledging that they would never give up.

It's unclear why this new search has been ordered now, but here's what we know. The reservoir and woodland area is around 30 miles from prior deluge when Maddie McCann went missing back in 2007.

Now, the body of water there was searched with divers back in 2008. That was the year after Maddie went missing. That search found animal remains and a sock unrelated to the case.

Sources have told CNN affiliate CNN Portugal that this time the search is going to focus on the land around the reservoir, not in the water.

According to CNN Portugal the tip off of this search came from the German prosecutor's office. They have in their custody Christian Bruecknera convicted rapists and pedophile and an official suspect in the case. He lived in the Algarve between 1985 and 2007. He denies having anything to do with McCann's disappearance.

Now, as you can see here, police have already started erecting tents in the area around the reservoir and the search is due to begin Tuesday.

Anna Stewart, CNN, London.


VAUSE: Still ahead, here on CNN. On the front lines, the battle for Bakhmut, for Ukrainian soldiers morale is low and under constant Russian attack. The very latest in a moment.


VAUSE: Welcome back to our viewers all around the world. I'm John Vause. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM.


The latest now on the top story this hour. A group of Russian nationals aligned with Ukraine's army is claiming responsibility for an attack in Southwestern Russia.

The regional governor in the Belgorod reports eight people have been injured, but no civilian deaths. The groups call themselves the Freedom of Russia Legion and the Russian Volunteer Corps. Ukraine insists they're acting independently.

CNN's Sam Kiley reports this is the first time Ukrainian-allied forces have launched a cross-border land operation against Russian targets.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR (voice-over): Barely out of the armored troop carrier, incoming artillery.

ROBERTSON: We're just going to wait in this little basement until the shelling is over. Then they think it will be safe to move forward in the front positions.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): A few minutes later, safe to come out of this army outpost a few miles from Bakhmut. Last night was hard, a lot of shelling.

Call sign Gambit tells us the soldier is still shell-shocked from an anti-tank rocket attack.

ROBERTSON: We're going to get back in the vehicle, try to get a little closer to the front lines.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): Ten days ago, these troops pushed the Russians back around Bakhmut. But their advance is slowing and harder. We get to a small HQ. Call sign Fox, a former farmer, is readying his troops for their coming shift on the front line, stopping the Russians in Bakhmut from advancing.

ROBERTSON: How hard is that?


ROBERTSON (voice-over): "It's impossible to describe these feelings," he says. "You can only experience it. No words can express it. They shell a lot."

As we talk, it is clear this war is taking its toll.

ROBERTSON: You only have to look at the soldiers' faces here to know how tough this battle is. They all look worn. They say morale is high, but their faces are telling a different story.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): We move on towards other positions and stop as the shelling increases.

ROBERTSON: We've just been told the place that we were going to is under heavy shelling, so we're going to pull back to here, go somewhere else.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): In the battalion bunker, the commander tells us the Russians have ramped up their shelling on his troops since they advanced.

"Tons of ammo, shrapnel, tanks firing. Everything."

His unit's drones recorded their recent successes, but now the Russians have regrouped. And in a moment of candor following losses the previous night, admits morale is flagging.

"Let's be honest," he says. "We are fighting heavily for more than a year. My soldiers went through many battles and two rotations near Bakhmut. Troops are exhausted, but we endure."

ROBERTSON: Bakhmut, which is just over the hill in that direction, has become an object lesson in how Russia's wealth in men and I munition can prevail and that the less Ukraine gets the modern weaponry support from its allies, it's going to struggle to tip the balance.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): Call sign Fox and his unit load up for their hard miles at the front. An end of war, getting back to their families: what drives them into the shelling.

Nic Robertson, CNN, Eastern Ukraine.


VAUSE: Russia's deputy science minister has died after falling ill on a plane Saturday. That's according to the Ministry of Science and Higher Education.

The Putin critic was part of a Russian delegation returning from a business trip to Cuba. The plane made an emergency landing in Southern Russia, where doctors unsuccessfully tried to treat him. The cause of death is not yet known, but an autopsy is scheduled for


This is the latest in a string of mysterious deaths of Russian government officials and executives. More than a dozen high-profile Russians have mysteriously died since the beginning of last year: falling from a high window, down a flight of stairs, maybe even off a boat.


Well, after two months in a Russian jail, American journalist Evan Gershkovich may soon learn this week if his pre-trial detention will continue.

Last month, "The Wall Street Journal" reporter his detention on spying charges, asking for house arrest instead. That appeal was denied. Gershkovich was ordered to remain in a notorious Moscow prison until May 29. It's unclear if he will appear at this week's hearing on pre- detention.

The prime minister of Greece has rejected forming a coalition government after his party fell short of a majority in Sunday's parliamentary elections. That means a second election will likely be held last next month.

Elinda Labropoulou has more now, reporting in from Athens.


ELINDA LABROPOULOU, JOURNALIST: After a much bigger victory but not an outright majority, the Greek prime minister has said that he will not be going into coalition talks with any of the other parties following yesterday's election, where the result was much better than expected for his party.

It seems that it was the economy that dominated these elections in Greece, and he's the prime minister who has seen the country come back to growth after a ten years' protracted financial crisis. That saw the country's GDP shrink by a quarter.

People have clearly voted with that in mind. They have voted for growth. The prime minister has said that this is a clear indication that they want him to continue on his path of reforms.

Well now, what we expect is that so new elections will be called. They're likely to be held towards the end of June.

Elinda Labropoulou, CNN, Athens, Greece.


VAUSE: The European Commission wants an investigation by the Greek government into reports it's abandoning migrants at sea. A senior official from the bloc tweeted Monday: "One year ago, I met with the Greek government to discuss border management, and I made clear that there is no place for illegal deportations."

She also said the European Commission is ready to take formal steps as necessary.

This comes after "The New York Times" published a report showing video of Greek Coast Guards alleging abandoning migrants in a raft in the middle of the sea.

A mega-fine for Meta. Coming up, why European regulators are demanding Facebook's parent company pay more than a billion dollars.


VAUSE: Facebook's parent company, Meta, is planning an appeal of a record fine of more than a billion dollars for violating European privacy laws.

Regulators say the company has been storing data about European Union -- users on U.S.-based servers, but U.S. intelligence agencies can access it.

As CNN's Melissa Bell explains from Paris, the case has broad implications for many big-tech companies worldwide.


MELISSA BELL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: One point three billion dollars being levied against Meta by European regulators for what they describe as continuous breaches of their signature privacy data laws, the GDPR, that was brought in -- implemented, rather, in 2018. It will be the five-year anniversary in just a couple of days' time.


Perhaps no coincidence that this particular fine, as large as it is, has come at this particular moment. It comes even as the United States and Europe try and hammer out some new framework that would allow for the free flow of data between those very two different legislative frameworks.

It's something that they found before. Time after time, European courts have struck it down, because it is so difficult to square that circle.

What American legislation allows in terms of American agencies like the NSA being able to get a hold of that data, and what European law prevents, that is European data finding itself on those American servers.

Now, it is, of course, a fine that targets Meta specifically but that has implications for all of big tech. Their argument, Meta's argument, is that this could be a serious problem for the global economy, for their business models, since they keep trying to find ways -- having to find ways to go about their business despite those European rules.

It's likely also, this fine, to put extra pressure on the U.S. and European administrations as they seek to hammer out a fresh framework that we expect as early as July, but that could take as long as October.

Now, the timing, of course, could have significant impact, as well, at Meta's ability to carry on doing business. For the time being, the company has said that it will appeal the ruling.

Melissa Bell, CNN, Paris.


VAUSE: And TikTok has started legal action over a ban by the U.S. state of Montana, set to begin next year.

TikTok says the move violates the U.S. Constitution, as well as other laws.

Last week, Montana became the first U.S. state to ban the platform entirely, mandating a daily $10,000 fine on the company or app stores that make it available to personal devices within the state's borders.

Critics fear personal data collected on the Chinese-owned app could end up in the hands of China's government, a claim TikTok rejects.

Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause. I'll be back with more news at the top of the hour. In the meantime, please stay with us. WORLD SPORT is up after a short break.