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Anti-Putin Russians Claim Attack On Border Region Of Belgorod; Guam Braces For Super Typhoon Mawar, A Potentially Devastating Triple Threat; U.S.-Saudi To Verify Allegations Of Ceasefire Violations; Weather Service Issues Flash Flood Warning For Guam; Police Resume Search For Madeleine McCann, Child Missing Since 2007; DeSantis will Launch His Campaign in Florida on Twitter Alongside Musk; March 25, 2024, Beginning of Trump Hush Money Trial; U.S. Debt Ceiling Impasse; France Cut Short Flights in Favor of Trains; Italian Authorities Approve $2.1B Aid Package for Areas Impacted by Floods; Interview with Columbia University Center for Sustainable Development Director and Columbia University Professor Jeffrey Sachs; Possible Evacuation Warned for Millions of People Due to Erupting Volcano in Mexico; Arrests in Racist Incidents in Spanish Football. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired May 24, 2023 - 01:00   ET




JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Ahead here on CNN Newsroom, the war comes to Russia, with towns close to the Ukrainian border under attack for a second day by anti-Putin forces.

The monster storm packing a triple threat, Guam bracing for torrential rains life threatening storm surge and hurricane force winds from Typhoon Mawar now just an hour away from landfall.

And France everyone's new green travel restrictions on short domestic flights. But critics say the impact on greenhouse gas emissions will be minimal.

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

VAUSE: With the northern summer just weeks away and still no sign of Ukraine's long awaited spring counteroffensive, Ukraine's national security adviser tells CNN the final decision on when it begins rests with President Vladimir Zelenskyy and the decision could come at any moment.

President Zelenskyy was awarding medals for bravery to troops on the Eastern Front Line Tuesday, notably less than two weeks ago, he said his military needed more time to prepare for an all-out assault on Russian forces.

Since then, Zelenskyy has been promised advanced military hardware from France, Britain, Germany and the US. In particular, he's been pushing for F-16 and EU's top diplomat says Ukrainian pilots are now being trained how to fly the fighter jets.


JOSEO BORRELL, EU FOREIGN POLICY CHIEF: I am heavy that finally the training of the pilot for the F-16 has started in several countries, it will take time but the sooner the better.


VAUSE: And for a second day fighting has been reported on Russian territory just across the border from Ukraine. Senior Russian officials say a counterterrorism operation has killed more than 70 militants who attack towns and villages in the Belgorod region.

One of the militant groups made up of pro-Ukrainian anti-Putin Russian dissidents says the fighting is ongoing and they still control some Russian territory. Neither claim has been independently verified, but two days of fighting force Moscow to order the evacuation of some towns close to the border. Kremlin officials blame Ukraine for the cross-border incursions. More details down from CNN's Matthew Chance.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): It was a bold cross border right. Exposing the weakness of Russian defenses and highlighting the increasingly brazen armed groups who say they're Russians fighting against the Kremlin.

Moscow dismisses them as Ukrainian saboteurs who've now been defeated in a barrage of ferocious Russian strikes carried out on its own soil. Defense officials say at least 70 of the fighters, some in U.S. made Humvee armored vehicles have now been killed.

But for the Kremlin attacks inside Russia, like a series of damaging train derailments over the past year. Or attacks on crucial fuel storage facilities have become an embarrassing feature of its war.

Even the Kremlin itself was targeted with drone strikes with Russia blamed on Ukraine. But Russian groups who say they're fighting against the Kremlin are increasingly emerging from the shadows. CNN made contact with a fighter said to be from the National Republican Army, an anti-Putin group operating inside Russia. His voice and features have been disguised.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): A fire at the military facility the death of the agent of the regime, or a day of inactivity on the railway that supplies the Russian army. For us, these are all successful missions.

CHANCE: Of course not every attack in Russia is carried out by a member of an organized group. Some Russians are simply furious at the direction the country has gone, taking matters into their own hands.

But some of the more shocking carefully organized attacks have used explosives to kill pro-Kremlin figures, like Russian military blogger Vladlen Tatarsky in April in a St. Petersburg cafe. Russian Prosecutors say the suspected bomber acted at the behest of Ukraine to claim the country denies.

But partisans say they want the Kremlin to feel fear like this too.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Our task is to heavily damage the repressive part of the Russian system. We want to weaken the power that suppresses the people. The main factor in this is fear, this Russian regime fears war against it.

CHANCE: Especially a war increasingly being fought at home. Matthew Chance, CNN, London.


VAUSE: To Steve Hall now, he's a CNN senior national security analyst and the former chief of Russia operations for the CIA, and it's good to see you.


VAUSE: OK. So I want you to listen to the governor of the Belgorod region, on these cross-border attacks on Russian soil, here he is.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Why is our border so porous? I have even more questions in you for the Ministry of Defense.


VAUSE: So clearly, he's not happy with these cross-border attacks, which now into their second day. Moscow says the pro-Ukrainian militants have all been forced back across the border. The paramilitary groups say the party continues. But the fact that this has now been two days of fighting on Russian territory, is that the kind of security risks that Putin has not had to deal with in the past?

HALL: You know, there's not often when I say things like, and I feel bad for Mr. Peskov in the in the Kremlin, but there's, yes, there's no good story here. No, they haven't had to deal in this particular conflict with anything like this. And there's no good way to spin it.

I mean, you've got your own governors in your own local government officials saying why can't we secure the border? So, you know, that's a horrific thing for Russia to have to contemplate the fact that these groups, these paramilitary groups, were able to get into Russia from Ukraine and conduct these operations is a significant blow security wise politically. It's just really horrific for the Kremlin, I think.

VAUSE: What potentially how much harm could they do to Putin?

HALL: Well, I think they could do significant harm. I mean, it's one thing to be fighting a foreign war, you know, in a neighboring country that you've attacked that, you know, that's one plan, it hasn't gone as the Russians wanting to, but that's completely different from all of the sudden having these partisan guerrilla type of activities inside your own country, by your own nationals. I mean, that starts to look like an insurgency. And that's a nightmare scenario for the Kremlin and to Putin.

VAUSE: Well, the Institute for the Study of War reports that had set a detachment of Russian Volunteer Corps and Russian Legion consisting of two tanks and armored personnel carrier, and nine other armored vehicles crossed the international border, and captured Kozinka, which is a small Russian village of about 1,000 people.

New York Times report at least three of the armored vehicles were American, that seems to narrow down the possibilities of where these groups managed to get the military hardware from?

HALL: Well, I think it's clear that when you start looking about, you know, who shares interests in here. So the Ukrainians, of course, obviously share a great interest with whatever these Russian national groups are of defeating Russia. You've got Russian nationals, Russian citizens who were when they're in Ukraine are fighting on the side of Ukraine. And the Ukrainians are saying, yes, but when they cross the border and go back into Russia, we don't know what they do. We have no command and control over them.

So, you know, it's clear that they're getting their weaponry from, you know, from Ukraine as part of that effort to expel the Russians. So yes, they have access to training and equipment from inside Ukraine, where apparently they're fighting alongside Ukrainians against Russia.

VAUSE: And the Freedom of Russian Legion, according to the Moscow Times is made up of former Russian soldiers, as well as Russians who traveled to Ukraine alongside other foreigners to fight with Ukrainian army. It's one of many units from Georgians to Bell Russians, operating as part of the international Legion for the Defense of Ukraine.

Well, the Russian Volunteer Corps, according to Bellingcat (ph) investigative journalist, Michael Coburn, is made up of largely ostensibly, anti-Putin Russian far right extremists within Ukraine. So are they representative? Are they significant opposition group within Russia?

HALL: Well, you know, Russia is a really complicated place when you start looking at how it breaks down socially and ethnically and, you know, there's literally scores of different ethnic groups. You've got scores of different political beliefs inside of Russia, all of which we usually don't see in the West because it's overlaid by the Putin, by the Kremlin control of these groups.

But now that things have started starting to fray a little bit along the edges. We're starting to see the identities of some of these groups. And some of them, you know, are arguably no better than who's sitting in the Kremlin right now, you do have a lot of groups with questionable ties. But again, anytime you've got anybody who is uprising and trying to take up arms against your government from inside your own country, your own nationals, I mean, that is a very, very serious problem. And it's going to take attention, and it's going to take resources away from the main fight that the Russians are trying to conduct which is inside of Ukraine, not defending their own country. So it's really a bad situation.

VAUSE: And just quickly, one of the things up at the head of NATO on training Ukrainian pilots to fly F-16, here he is.



JENS STOLTENBERG, NATO SECRETARY GENERAL: That doesn't make NATO allies party to the conflict. But we are supporting Ukraine to defend themselves against a war of aggression. Brutal invasion by President Putin.


VAUSE: You know, this is all part of NATO and U.S. concerns that fighter jets and long range missiles supplied to Ukraine could be used to strike deep into Russian territory and the ramifications from that. Do these cross-border attacks add to that unease?

HALL: Well, the unease is based on the idea that somehow Putin is going to feel like he's been backed into a corner. And he has no other alternatives, but to take some sort of, you know, massive retaliation, whether it's a weapon of mass destruction or nuclear weapons. I mean, this is sort of the nightmare scenario for the West.

But you know, we really haven't seen any of that. And so I think what's happening is, your recall the Western countries that for the NATO alliance for said, well, you know, no, we're not going to supply long range missiles and tanks, and then that started to happen. And we said no, on the F-16 teams, now that has started to happen.

So you're almost building up an expectation on the part of Moscow and the Russians and indeed the rest of the world. But yes, eventually we're going to get there as long as Russia continues its offensive operations inside of Ukraine.

VAUSE: Steve Hall as always, good to see you and thank you.

HALL: My pleasure.

VAUSE: And a Russian fighter jet has intercepted to U.S. Air Force strategic bombers over the Baltic Sea, not far from Russian airspace. Russian officials say the operation was carried out quote, in strict accordance with international rules for the use of airspace. The Pentagon has confirmed and also played down the incident, describing it as safe and professional.

China's new ambassador to the U.S. arrived in New York Tuesday amid a tumultuous period for the relationship between Washington and Beijing. (INAUDIBLE) Ambassador Xie Feng's main goals is to improve relations, which he says are facing serious difficulties and challenges. Very diplomatic. He laid out Beijing's expectations.


XIE FENG, CHINESE AMBASSADOR TO THE US: We hope that United States will move in the same direction with China. We hope that United States will work together with China to increase dialogue, to manage differences, and also to expand our cooperation so that our relationship will be back to the right track.


VAUSE: U.S.-China relationship has been increasingly strained in recent years, including issues of Taiwan and the Chinese spy balloon which was shut down over the US. So there's been problems with Russia's, with China's ties to Russia.

Allegations of ceasefire violations in Sudan now being investigated by the United States and Saudi Arabia. And a joint statement Tuesday, they said the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United States reiterated their commitment to the Sudanese people and demand that the parties fully abide by their commitments under this agreement.

The short term ceasefire was brokered by Washington and Jeddah after more than five weeks of intense fighting between the Sudanese armed forces and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces.

Typhoon Mawar is about an hour away now from making landfall on Guam. And already the outer bands are battering the island with heavy rain and strong winds. Evacuation order has been issued for coastal areas. The National Weather Service warns the storm poses a triple threat of devastation. Let's go to CNN's meteorologist Britley Ritz at the CNN Weather Center with very latest. So what are we looking at now?

BRITLEY RITZ, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Absolutely, the whiteout conditions have already started. I have friends with a few people on Twitter who are on the ground in Guam. And they have reported exactly that we're already losing data including radar as well as wind stations.

So we have current winds around the center of 220 kilometers per hour, the slowing of the system, one of the bigger threats here, simply because even though it's already to take that northerly shift, we're still getting that onshore flow now on the easterly and westerly side of the island.

So we're watching that, that could potentially bring in catastrophic and life threatening storm surge, as well as torrential rainfalls to the southern part of the island.

So here we are, with the Andersen Air Force Base station down trying to get radar backup, but we've lost it at the moment. Still with past data showing you that the heaviest of the rain offshore, but again, bringing in that heavier rain now to the southern part of the island, even with that northerly shift, so then we wind up with catastrophic rainfall amounts in some of the eyewall bringing in 2200 millimeters of rain an hour if that's the case and the rain will finally start to taper back here as we move into the next 72 hours.

Rainfall totals on average 250 millimeters, again higher amounts are definitely possible and then we get that onshore flow bringing catastrophic storm surge in upwards of nearly six meters. John.

VAUSE: Britley, we appreciate the update. Thank you. Let's get to CNN's Kristie Lu Stout anyway live in Hong Kong from more from the storm. It's about an hour away now from landfall which means the island feeling those effects of these powerful heavy wet -- heavy winds and heavy rains that kind of stuff.


What do we know about the conditions right now on the island? What sort of preparations have they made ahead of this storm?

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we know right now that this typhoon Mawar is bearing down on the U.S. territory of Guam. It is expected to bring what's being called a triple threat of devastation, that according to the US National Weather Service in Guam.

So the storm is unleashing torrential rain, catastrophic winds, storm surge that will pose a major risk to life and property especially in the low lying vulnerable coastal areas of Guam, up to 70 percent of the foliage on this island could be ripped away, power and water may be unavailable for days or even longer.

Now on Tuesday, the island entered what's known as a condition of readiness one or COR 1. The governor of Guam urged all the residents that over 150,000 people who called Guam home to urge to stay home, let's bring up a statement from the Office of the Governor saying this quote the community is advised to remain indoors until COR 4 is announced. All residents in low lying flood prone coastal areas are ordered to evacuate and seek shelter in private residences or designated government shelters and higher elevation no later than 6:00 p.m. on May the 23rd, that was Tuesday.

Guam has opened about 12 emergency shelters at schools throughout the island. We have learned that one is closed because of a generator issue and the window to go to their shelters has already closed. The U.S. military in Guam is also prepared with all personnel instructed to shelter in place.

We've also been monitoring the Guam international airport. The airport has been affected. We can bring up the website for you and you could see just dozens of flights have been canceled or delayed. So a number of visitors, a number of residents who perhaps had plans to travel are now stranded. They're going to have to sit through this storm.

Now help is on standby it before the storms arrival the U.S. National Guard posted this photo and caption on Twitter, let's bring it up for you saying always ready always there. Guam National Guard members ready to respond to super typhoon Mawar. That was when it used to be a super typhoon. The storm has weakened from a Category Five no longer supertyphoon but it will remain very intense. Back to you, John.

VAUSE: Kristie, Thank you. Kristie Lu Stout there in Hong Kong with very latest on typhoon Mawar. Still ahead, new leads in the search for Madeleine McCann. Why did please return to a reservoir in Portugal as seen they've searched before. Details after the break.

Also, a profound risk of harm to children and teens. A new warning from the U.S. Surgeon General on the impact of social media on young minds and mental health.


VAUSE: The search for new evidence in the Madeleine McCann case is expected to resume in the coming hours after delay on Tuesday because of bad weather. And now there are new details on why investigators have returned to a remote reservoir in southern Portugal, about 30 miles from where the British toddler was last seen 16 years ago. CNN's Randi Kaye reports.



HANS CHRISTIAN WOLTERS, GERMAN PROSECUTOR (through translator): The measures in Portugal are related to the Madeleine McCann.

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): This was the scene in Portugal police investigators searching for clues in the British toddler's disappearance. This latest search more than 16 years after Madeleine McCann vanished, taking place near the Irati dam, about 30 miles from where the British child was last seen.

Madeleine disappeared in 2007 from the apartment where she and her family were vacationing in the small fishing village of Praia da Luz, Portugal. Madeleine was just days shy of her fourth birthday. According to German prosecutor Hans Christian Walters, the search is being handled by Portuguese investigators at the request of German authorities.

WOLTERS (through translator): This means that we are investigating there in Portugal on the basis of certain indications. I cannot disclose the background at the moment why we are searching there and what we hope to find. That is to remain our secret for the moment.

KAYE: Last year, the German prosecutor officially identified Christian Brueckner as a suspect in Madeleine's disappearance. We interviewed the prosecutor in Germany shortly after that and asked him about Brueckner.

KAYE (on camera): So to be clear, the formal suspect in Madeleine McCann's case is a convicted rapist and a known pedophile.


KAYE (voiceover): Brueckner has still not been officially charged in Madeleine's disappearance and has denied wrongdoing. Brueckner had a motorhome in this search area, and a police source in Germany told CNN Portugal that pictures of the reservoir here were found on Brueckner's computer.

The suspect was also known to have frequented the Ocean Club where Madeleine's family was staying when she disappeared. Authorities say the suspect's phone also pinged in that area around the time Madeleine was last seen.

KAYE (on camera): Does Christian Brueckner have an alibi for the night that Madeleine McCann disappeared.

WOLTERS (through translator): We found no alibi, and he told us no alibi.

KAYE: Just hours after Madeleine McCann vanished in 2007, her parents pleaded for her safe return.

GERRY MCCANN, MADELEINE'S FATHER: Please, if you have Madeleine let her come home to her mommy, daddy, brother and sister.

KATE MCCANN, MADELEINE'S MOTHER: We beg you to let Madeleine come home.

KAYE: On the night in question, Kate and Gerry McCann had left Madeleine and their younger twins sleeping alone in the apartment while they had dinner nearby with friends. They were on property just yards away and said they checked on the kids every half hour.

Madeleine's face was broadcast around the world.

MCCANN: Please give our little girl back.

KAYE: Even as tips poured in, investigators zeroed in on Kate and Gerry McCann. Just four months after their daughter disappeared, the McCanns were officially named suspects. Then a year later, the Portuguese Attorney General closed the case and cleared them.

A few years after that Scotland Yard announced they would reexamine the case. Eventually that led to German prosecutors identifying Christian Brueckner as a suspect.

KAYE (on camera): How sure are you that you have named the right man?

WOLTERS (through translator): At the moment we think we have the right person.

KAYE (voiceover): Randi Kaye, CNN.


VAUSE: Just like the official health warning about the possible harm of smoking, The U.S. Surgeon General has now issued a warning about social media, which poses a profound risk of harm for children and teenagers when it comes to the growing mental health crisis among American children and adolescents. CNN's Vanessa Yurkevich has details now from New York. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

VANESSA YURKEVICH, CNN BUSINESS AND POLITICS CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): A new warning from the highest level of youth mental health crisis unfolding before our eyes, social media can pose a profound risk of harm to the mental health and well-being of children and adolescents. That's according to a 25-page advisory from the U.S. Surgeon General.

Earlier this year, Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy warned of the unfair matchup.

DR. VIVEK MURTHY, U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: You're pitting a child against the world's greatest product designers. And that's just not a fair fight.

YURKEVICH: Nearly every U.S. teenager is on social media up to 95 percent of kids ages 13 to 17 report using social media with more than a third using it all the time. Kids must typically be 13 to register on social media apps, but nearly 40 percent of children ages eight to 12 use it anyway.

MURTHY: I think that it's a time you know, early adolescence where kids are developing their identity, their sense of self and the skewed and often distorted environment of social media often does a disservice to many of those children.

YURKEVICH: The advisory concluded we do not yet have enough evidence to determine if social media is sufficiently safe for children and adolescents calling for more research. But it did cite studies which found increased risk of anxiety and depression, poor sleep, online harassment and low self-esteem.

JEROME YANKEY, DELETED TIKTOK IN 2021: The time I spent looking at all these attractive people doing amazing things and amazing places, getting disappointed by my own life. It's never something I want to be doing especially when I have the power to change it but I just wasn't because I was spending hours on this app.

YURKEVICH: Some experts say tick tock has the stickiest and most addicting algorithm keeping people on the app longer.


Last year, TikTok users spent an hour and a half per day on the app on average, more than any other social media platform. This as Montana becomes the first state to ban the social media app on all devices, prompting TikTok to sue.

SHOU CHEW, CEO, TIKTOK: I don't want to speak for all parents, I think it's very important that parents make their individual decisions with their children. But for me personally, I'm very comfortable with my children getting more involved with understanding technology at an early age.

YURKEVICH TikTok, Snapchat and Instagram have parental controls that can monitor teen screen time and content. But experts say the oversight should begin at home.

DR. REBECCA BERRY, CLINICAL PYSCHOLOGIST: It's important when possible for parents and caregivers to really model how they would like their children to utilize social media.

YURKEVICH: Vanessa Yurkevich, CNN, New York.


VAUSE: Joining us this hour is Tom Kersting, a licensed practicing psychotherapist specializing in some areas like parenting kids and social media. His latest book is "Raising Healthy Teenagers: Equipping Your Child to Navigate the Pitfalls and Dangers of Teen Life," as you get one of those other teenage daughter. Tom, thank you for being with us.

TOM KERSTING, PSYCHOTHERAPIST: Thank you, John. Appreciate it.

VAUSE: OK, so this is an incredibly stark warning from the Surgeon General. And he adds to it with an op-ed in The Washington Post where he writes this, it is no longer possible to ignore social media as potential contribution to the pain that millions of children and families are experiencing.

So just looking at the bigger picture here, the view from 30,000 feet, how much harm has been done, you know, over the past two decades, because for the most part, we just didn't connect the dots.

KERSTING: Yes, so really, I mean, there's a tremendous amount of pain. And I'm like on the front lines here as a therapist helping out kids and families and so forth. So as a result of this, starting in about 2012, when smartphones really became mainstream, we've seen an incredible uptick in mental health disorders, the suicide rate has escalated, families are sort of being torn apart as they're each individual, including the parents are literally hypnotized by a glowing device. So it's really just tearing apart families creating a mental health epidemic and destroying a future.

VAUSE: Well, so according to this advisory, or those who spend more than three hours a day on social media face double the risk of experiencing poor mental health outcomes, including symptoms of depression, and anxiety, and also warns of developmental problems within a child's brain and areas, which are responsible for emotional learning, impulse control, social behavior, the harm and addiction caused by social media, it's often mean compared to smoking. That comparison now seems incredibly unfair to the tobacco industry.

KERSTING: Yes, let me explain it to you scientifically, right. So all of these products, social media, video games, and so forth, are intentionally designed to target the pleasure seeking part of the brain that produces dopamine. That's the part of the brain that is associated with every addiction, whether it's tobacco, drugs, gambling, and what we're seeing now is the these kids who was constantly getting bombarded with content, stimulating content, and becoming addicted to that, so addicted to the attention. And you know, and as a result, like if mom or dad take away the phone, or the video game system, guess what the reaction is, it's absolute withdrawal and crash in the form of, you know, behaviorally, not much different than if you would take drugs away from a drug addict.

VAUSE: And the Surgeon General's calling for the development of safer online policies and practices. I just wonder, is it almost too late. 95 percent of teenagers are on social media, third saying they're always on it constantly. Is this a problem that government regulation can fix? Or will it just ultimately come down to the family level at home?

KERSTING: I think it's a combination of both. I think, you know, you have to start somewhere because we have a younger generation coming up that isn't that -- hasn't quite hit pre adolescence or adolescence. So if we could, you know, set up regulations now rules, laws, whatever it is, that's going to protect those kids, for example, like, you know, making, like a law of some sort that you can't get social media until you're 16, 17 years old, you know, things like that.

We could do what we can do to, you know, to save the younger generation. And it's now really the parents role for kids that are if they have children 13 to 17 years old, it's the parents role to really step in and deal with the protect -- with the blowback that they're going to receive by you really, really, you know, tinkering down the amount of time that the kids are using these things.

VAUSE: And in terms of any kind of study here, this is still really early days, because 2004 we saw Facebook come on the scene, you said in 2012, that's when it really exploded with, you know, individual iPhones, that kind of stuff. What is going to happen to this generation that has grown up on this data, social media and all the problems that come with it 10, 20, 30 years from now?

KERSTING: Well, that's good question. Believe it or not lecturing all over the country on this topic since 2009. I've been doing this for 13 years. And a lot of the stuff I was talking about way back then is coming true. So what I'm -- what I am seeing here is a little light at the end of the tunnel, John


I see a lot of 20 something years old I speak too as well, and many of them are now pulling the plug on their social media because they see what it's doing to them, how it's stripping away their time. But for those kids that are already, you know, really -- kind of, in a real bad mental of emotional place, you know, it's -- I do worry about the future. I worry about them participating in the workforce. Are they going to be living in their parents', you know, house for the rest of their life. And we just -- time is going to tell. I mean, I am just crossing my fingers and praying that, you know, that we escape this.

JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's a problem. Anyone who was a kid these days, you know, as a gamer or social media is -- it's tough. But, Tom, thank you for being with us.

KERSTING: Hey, it's my pleasure. Thanks for having me.

VAUSE: Just ahead on CNN, it's called shoot and scoot. Ukrainian soldiers using unconventional, but apparently effective hit and run tactics on Russian targets. More on that in a moment.


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN. More people get their news from CNN than any other news source.

VAUSE: Welcome back. I'm John Vause, you're watching "CNN Newsroom". For months now, advanced high-tech weapons, battle tanks, armored vehicles, even long-range missiles have been flowing into Ukraine ahead of a major counteroffensive. But many Ukrainian fighters on the front lines have little more than an odd mix match collection of both old and new weapons. Now, CNN's Nic Robertson reports the necessity of war has born some remarkable innovation.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN'S INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR (voiceover): Everything about this attack is unconventional. A 1950s anti-aircraft gun, fired flat. And the drone operator next to it guiding the shots. Old and new fused as one. The target, a Russian base, a mile away beneath two white towers. Easy for the drone to see, becoming an easier shot for the gunner.

We learned how to fire this ancient cast iron gun from hidden positions, callsign Al (ph) says. They broadcast the video on our tablet and we can see where we hit. It allows us to aim very fast and precisely.

ROBERTSON (on camera): Its real shooters scoot stuff, they've been on the position less than five minutes. They're getting out before the Russians could get a bearing on them and fire back.

ROBERTSON (voiceover): Nearby, a smaller gun, more improvisation, more shoot and scoot. For much of Ukraine's long front line, hit and run is how troops probe for Russian weaknesses and an opening for the long-expected counteroffensive.

GEORGIY KUPARASHVILI, 3RD ASSAULT BRIGADE OFFICER: It's not like just they -- hey, we're going. No. It's got to be a specific time where all the situation is good and we have advantage for it.

ROBERTSON (on camera): Do you feel that's close?

KUPARASHVILI: Yes, yes. Definitely.

ROBERTSON: How close?

KUPARASHVILI: It's pretty close.


ROBERTSON (voiceover): It's what commanders have been saying for a while. Reality, right now it's cat and mouse. Hiding, waiting, watching.

KUPARASHVILI: Russians understands that we will concentrate our forces, so they try to hit as much so we, you know, not to gather this -- not to accumulate the forces. But, on daily basis, we have a whole of information changes and the tactics changes, and operation changes, and the situation.

ROBERTSON (voiceover): The lessons of Ukraine's recent small gains around Bakhmut, Russia regroups fast, steps up shelling, rapidly reinforces with troops from other frontlines. Meaning smaller attacks can create opportunity.

ROBERTSON (on camera): When the big counteroffensive comes, the Ukrainians will need to muster as much fire as they can, even old equipment like this to pin down the Russians, before they could send their own troops in.

ROBERTSON (voiceover): Only smartly used, sustained an overwhelming force will win. And even then, there is no guarantee. Nic Robertson, CNN, Eastern Ukraine.


VAUSE: Russian court has extended pre-trial detention for "Wall Street Journal" reporter, Evan Gershkovich until the end of August. The American journalist was detained by Russian authorities in March and charged with espionage. CNN's Kylie Atwood has details.


KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Evan Gershkovich's pre-trial detention period was extended for least three more months until the end of August. Now, this is -- this was a request from domestic intelligence officers in Russia who are essentially building the case, investigating Gershkovich's case. We know he is facing charges of espionage. Those are charges that he, his family, the "Wall Street Journal" where he was working as a reporter, vehemently denied.

Journalists were not allowed into the courtroom today, so we don't know any specifics about how everything went down. But his parents did arrive at the courtroom with his Russian lawyer. His parents fled the Soviet Union in 1979, came to the United States, raised their family here. And of course, State Department Spokesperson Matt Miller, did say that the United States didn't help to arrange their travel over there. Noting, of course, that there is a travel advisory for all Americans not to be traveling to Russia right now, but said he's not going to criticize parents who want to see their son, particularly a son who is wrongfully detained in Russia.

The U.S. embassy in Moscow said, "That they are deeply concerned by the courts decision today". And also reiterated that U.S. officials have asked multiple times over the past few weeks to receive access, consular access to Gershkovich in jail and those requests have been denied by Russian officials. Of course, they continue to press for that access. Kylie Atwood, CNN, New York.


VAUSE: It seems former British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, just can't shake the fallout from those COVID lockdown parties. This time, its gatherings held by Johnson at Chequers, the prime minister's official countryside home. The governor referred Johnson to police over another get togethers held between June 2020 and May 2021.

Johnson's office says, it is not being contacted by police and calls the referral bizarre and unacceptable. Last, year while still prime minister, Johnson was fined for holding lockdown parties at 10 Downing Street, and eventually resigned after months of scandal.

Republican Ron DeSantis will kick off his presidential campaign in the hours ahead, but not in typical fashion. The Florida governor will make the announcement during a conversation with Twitter owner Elon Musk on the site's audio platform, Twitter Spaces. Musk says, there will be real time questions and answers, unscripted in everything. And he stressed that he's not making an endorsement.

DeSantis has seen his standing slip in recent weeks but it's still widely considered as the most formal challenges to Donald Trump ahead of the primary. Formal announcement is planned for next week in DeSantis' hometown of Dunedin.

And Donald Trump could be facing a major obstacle in his presidential campaign, maybe not. His criminal trial for allegedly falsifying business records in the Stormy Daniels' case is set to begin -- is set to be held right in the middle of next year's primary season. CNN's Kara Scannell reports.


KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A New York judge set the trial date of March 25th of next year for Former President Donald Trump's criminal case involving hush money payments made to porn star Stormy Daniels. The trial will fall in the middle of the Republican 2024 presidential primary season. During a brief hearing, Tuesday, the judge told Trump and his lawyers that they can't accept any commitments, personal or professional, that could prevent them from appearing for the duration of the trial, putting a potential snag in Trump's campaign events or fundraisers.

Trump appeared by video conference sitting next to his attorney. It was his first visit to this courtroom after pleading not guilty last month to 34 counts of falsifying business records.


The judge explained to Trump the protective order barring him and his defense team from sharing evidence turned over by prosecutors on social media. Prosecutors requested the hearing to ensure Trump is aware of the new rules against him and the consequences he could face if he violates the court order.

But the judge making it clear that he is not imposing a gag order in this case. Saying he has no intention in any way of impeding Trump's ability to campaign or to publicly defend himself as he makes another run for the White House. Kara Scannell, CNN, New York.


VAUSE: The clock is ticking down on a possible U.S. default despite another day of productive -- well, supposedly productive talks on raising the U.S. debt ceiling. How speaker Kevin McCarthy told fellow Republicans they're still nowhere near a deal with the White House.

Republicans and Democrats are all getting restless and more vocal as the June 1st deadline for a potential default draws neigh. Laura Aguirre has more on the negotiations.



LAURA AGUIRRE, CNN REPORTER (voiceover): Kevin McCarthy, Speaker of the House, giving a state of play on debt ceiling negotiations, Tuesday. Both parties deeply divided over future spending versus current debt.

MCCARTHY: Why are we in the problem (ph)? People spend too much money, and the Democrats want to even spend more than we spent last year.

REP. PETE AGUILAR (D-CA): We are not going to stand by as devastating cuts are put in place that harm the economy and harm our communities.

AGUIRRE (voiceover): The White House initially said, cuts to social security and Medicare are off the table. But many Democrats are watching closely for any Oval Office concessions.

REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D-WA): I think there would be a huge backlash from our entire house Democratic, you know, caucus, certainly the progressives, but also, in the streets.

AGUIRRE (voiceover): The Federal Reserve and many business leaders are anxious to stabilize a national budget. But, also the financial markets.

NEEL KASHKARI, PRESIDENT, MINNEAPOLIS FEDERAL RESERVE: A default would be a message to investors all around the world of an eroding confidence in America.

SCOTT KIRBY, CEO, UNITED AIRLINES: Find a compromise and avoid an unforced error that could tip an otherwise pretty good economy into something really bad.

AGUIRRE (voiceover): Another sticking point, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, saying default could come as early as June 1st.

REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): I don't believe that the first of a month is a real deadline.

REP. RALPH NORMAN (R-SC): She'll extended it, but right now she is using June 1st and everybody knows that's false. AGUIRRE (voiceover): One point of agreement, there's still much work to be done. I'm Laura Aguirre reporting.


VAUSE: Still to come on CNN, a flight ban in France on short haul trips. A new law now in place to cut carbon emissions. That's all good in theory but in reality, perhaps not so much.


VAUSE: Italy's government has approved a $2.2 billion aid package for areas devastated by flooding last week. The financial assistance is intended to support farmers, schools, and health care services. While households affected by flooding will have taxes and utility payments suspended. More than a dozen people were killed in the flooding with tens of thousands displaced.


France has banned all domestic flights for trips that could be made in two and a half hours or less by high-speed rail. The government says, this is essential to reduce global warming greenhouse gas emissions from the aviation industry. But critics claim trains are already preferred among many travelers. And only three local routes have been discontinued so far. A clean transport campaign group says, the affected routes represent just 0.3 percent of all France's flights emissions.

Joining me now from New York is Professor Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University. Welcome back. It's good to see you.

Great to be with you. Thank you.

VAUSE: OK. So, the flight ban has been on the books for a while, but now officially comes into effect. So, how do you see this? Is it a moment to, you know, pop the champagne of is it a good start with a lot more work to be done?

JEFFREY SACHS, DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY AND PROFESSOR, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: Well, it's a small step. It only applies to very specific set of cities where you can reach cities by fast train from Paris in two and a half hours. It applies, apparently, to three cities, to Nantes, Bordeaux, and Lyon. It's not a big deal from the point of view of overall emissions, but it is a step. And what countries need to do, in general, is to have plans or pathways to actually get to zero emissions. And so, we could say, OK, this is a modest step. I think that that's the way to put it.

VAUSE: Yes, and there are conditions on the train services, well, in relation to the flight ban. The law does specify that train services on the same route must be frequent, timely and well connected enough to meet the needs of passengers who would otherwise travel by air. That seems to give the passengers a lot of wiggle room here who want to avoid that train trip. SACHS: Well, I'm a little bit amused. I wish the United States had any fast trains of this kind, Amtrak on the east coast is about half the average speed of these fast trains in France. The fact of the matter is actually there are probably going to be battery operated electric flights soon enough for the short haul flights.

And so, there will be other ways around, even on plane flights for short haul. The bigger problem for aviation is the longer flights for which there is not right now any effective substitute to the aviation fuel. So, that's still an unsolved problem, more generally.

So, this is a small step. France has fast rail, good for them. I wish we did in the United States and most other places in the world are still longing for this kind of fast rail. More genuinely though, the key right now is that every country needs a strategy to get to net zero emissions across the range of uses of energy and technologies. And we're still far from that goal being met by almost any country in the world.

VAUSE: Well, with that in mind, I want you to listen to the French minister for transport. Here is.


CLEMENT BEAUNE, FRENCH TRANSPORT MINISTER: This aviation industry is very strong in France. I want it to remain very strong. We're investing a lot, which is a priority in clean fuel, for instance, and just green transformation of this industry. We will succeed. And we have set a target of zero carbon for 2050 in this industry. But in the meantime, I second to pardon (ph) to take into accounts some behaviors, some activities which should contribute a bit more to the greening of our transport system.


VAUSE: OK. So, given the fact that the amount of carbon pollution caused by the aviation industry is increasing every year. And as you mentioned, the reality is there is no alternative right now to aviation kerosene. Is it possible to reach carbon neutral anytime soon?

SACHS: It will be possible because already for a short haul aviation going electric is really within each. For long haul, there are a range of synthetics fuels to which planes can be adoptive -- adopted, and I think that that's going to happen. There are only a few civil aviation airplane manufacturers. There's Airbus, of course, there's Boeing, China will have a Civil Aviation. It would be possible, even globally, to reach agreements and target dates for planes to convert to zero carbon fuels by 2040. This is definitely not out of reach and it needs to be done.

VAUSE: Good point to finish on, Jeffrey. Thank you so much for being with us. Jeffrey Sachs there in New York. Thank you, sir.

SACHS: Great to be with you. Thank you.


VAUSE: Three million people are on high alert as Mexico's most active volcano continues to spew ash and smoke. Right now, it seems the amount of ash coming from the volcano has decreased. But Mexico's president warns if air quality gets worse, residents may have to leave their homes at a moments' notice. CNN's Patrick Oppmann reports.


PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Mexico's most dangerous active volcano once again is putting residents on alert as over the last several days. There have been eruptions. Witnessed that the Popocatepetl volcano and that is causing officials to raise the level of alert to a yellow alert which indicates that residents, and there are millions of residents who live in the vicinity of those volcano, may need to consider evacuating should this volcano erupt.

Already there has been a duration of the air quality as ash is going into the area. It has caused residents to have to sweep up the ash on the streets. Officials are warning people to make sure that the ash is not getting to their water supplies. Some schools have been closed. As well as some parks. There have been flights that have been delayed as a result of the ash because, of course, ash once it is emitted into the atmosphere can be very damaging, very dangerous to air travel.

At this point, officials say that because this is an active volcano, it's been active now for some years that they are simply in a position of observing the volcano. They feel they would have enough time before any major eruption to warn residents to begin evacuating. And that they're hopeful this is just a continuing cycle of a very active volcano.

Mexico's president, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Tuesday at a press conference, that there appeared to be less ash emitted by the volcano on Tuesday. But all the same, as people in these Mexican states keep a close eye on this volcano and what could happen next. No one is breathing a sigh of relief just yet. Patrick Oppmann, CNN, Havana.


VAUSE: Riots erupted in (INAUDIBLE) after unfounded rumors that two teenage boys died in a car crash after a police chase. Vehicles were set on fires, several officers were injured. Officials insist there was no high-speed police chase and the deadly accident happened before police officers arrived on the scene. Mortar (ph) arrest have been made. More are expected. And a police watchdog group is now investigating.

Still, ahead, arrest in Spain. After multiple racist incidents from football fans, now one team is being held accountable for their fans' abusive behavior.


VAUSE: Spain's football league, La Liga, is in the midst of a struggle with racist abuse from fans directed at players. The country's football governing body has ordered a partial stadium ban for Valencia fans and imposed a fine on the team following the latest incident of fans shouting racist insults onto the field. Police are now investigating, having arrested seven people after two separate racist incidents. Journalist Atika Shubert has more now from Valencia.


ATIKA SHUBERT, JOURNALIST: Well, the real triggering event seems to have been that match between Real Madrid and Valencia on Sunday. In the final minutes of the game, several fans hurled racist insults at the Real Madrid striker. And when he complained to the referee, things escalated quickly. A brawl broke out between players but it was Vinicius who was sent out of the game with a red card. He was expelled from the match.


And that seems to have been the last draw, both for Vinicius and for Real Madrid who lodged an official complaint with La Liga and the Valencian prosecutors' office. That led to the arrest on Tuesday of three suspects in an investigation on hate crimes. The Valencia football club says it is cooperating fully with the police investigation. In the meantime, Vinicius has gone on social media to publicly lambast La Liga as a racist football league, that's his words. And it has sparked a heated online exchange with the La Liga president.

Sadly, it is not an isolated incident here in Spain. In January, Spanish police say four people known to them as "Radical members of a Madrid fan club hung an effigy of Vinicius from a bridge in Madrid". A video of the incident was widely shared on social media. But arrests were only made this week on Tuesday, the same day as the arrest in Valencia.

Either way, these arrest and Vinicius' exchanges on social media seemed to be forcing Spain to have a conversation about racism in football. Atika Shubert, CNN, Bolivia, Spain.


VAUSE: We'll end this hour with an incredible feat of strength, endurance, and determination accomplished by a double amputee. Nepali mountain climber, Hari Budha Magar, is now the first above the knee, double amputee to scale Mount Everest. Working with a team of climbers, the 43-year-old reached the summit, Friday using artificial legs. Nepal's department of tourism says the climb is a world record. Magar says he hopes his ascent will raise awareness for others with disabilities.


HARI BUDHA MAGAR, MOUNTAINEER: How I do achieve my goals. Simply, just focus on what you're doing. There's so much destruction around you and around the world. And just focused on what you love to do and what you need to do. That's it. One step at a time, we can climb the Mount Everest.


VAUSE: Magar joined the British army back in 1999, lost both legs after stepping on an improvised explosive device while in Afghanistan, that was 13 years ago. Thank you for watching, I'm John Vause. Please stay with us. "CNN Newsroom" continues with my friend and colleague Rosemary Church after a short break. See your right back here tomorrow.