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U.S. Intel: Ukrainians May Have Launched Kremlin Drone Attack; Mawar Regains Super Typhoon Stratus, Now Category 4 Storm; Florida Governor Ron DeSantis Announces White House Bid; Legendary Tina Turner Dies At Age 83; Anti-Putin Russian Groups: Operation Still Ongoing; Inflation Falling in U.K., But Food Prices Still Rising. Aired 12- 12:45a ET

Aired May 25, 2023 - 00:00   ET




JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Coming up here on CNN NEWSROOM. Plausible deniability, no more. New U.S. intelligence indicates Ukraine was responsible for a drone strike on the Kremlin.

It seemed like a good idea at the time, the first ever presidential campaign launched on Twitter melts down and the internet erupts in much mockery of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.

And remembering Tina Turner, her incredible voice and unforgettable live performances, as well as her own personal resilience.

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

VAUSE: Great to have you with us here on CNN and we begin with the sudden about face by the Kremlin, which is now denying earlier reports that fire had broken out at the Ministry of Defense in central Moscow. That's according to state media, which first reported emergency services were on the scene after a blaze started on a balcony.

Local officials now saying no fire has been detected. But images from Moscow shows smoke surrounding the building, and a woman can be heard complaining about a horrible burning smell.

All this comes as U.S. intelligence now suggests Ukrainians may in fact launched the drone attack on the Kremlin earlier this month. Sources say intercepted communications among Ukrainian officials are contributing to that assessment.

CNN's Natasha Bertrand has details reporting in from Washington.


NATASHA BERTRAND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER: CNN has learned that U.S. officials have picked up chatter amongst Ukrainian officials blaming each other for a drone attack on the Kremlin earlier this month, which has contributed to a U.S. assessment that a Ukrainian group may have been responsible for that attack.

The intercepts include some members of Ukraine's military and intelligence bureaucracy speculating that Ukrainian special operations forces conducted the operation and that chatter combined with other intercepted communications of Russian officials blaming Ukraine for the attack, and wondering how it happened, has led the U.S. to consider the possibility that a Ukrainian group was behind that incident on May 3rd.

Now, despite the intelligence, the U.S. has not been able to reach a definitive conclusion on who was responsible, and only assesses for now with low confidence that the Ukrainian group may have been behind this drone incident.

But officials also don't believe at this point that senior Ukrainian government officials including the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy ordered the attack or even knew about it beforehand.

But still, this intel comes at an interesting moment amid ongoing questions about Ukraine's cross border attacks inside Russia. Just this week, a pro-Ukrainian group of Russians tried to occupy the Russian city of Belgorod.

Now, we should note that Zelenskyy has denied that Ukraine was behind this drone attack saying, "We didn't attack Putin. We leave it to the tribunal".

Natasha Bertrand, CNN, Washington.


VAUSE: Joining me now from Brisbane, Australia is Peter Layton, visiting fellow at the Griffith Asia Institute. Good to have you with us.


VAUSE: Thank you. Now, after two days of attacks on Russian soil, the leader of the pro-Ukrainian anti-Putin Russian Volunteer Corps has warned the Kremlin that there is more to come, listen to this.


DENIS KAPUSTIN, COMMANDER, RUSSIAN VOLUNTEER CORPS: The operation is ongoing. This is how I should put it to be honest. It definitely has various phases. So, phase one, we considered a successful phase. It's over now, but the operation is ongoing.


VAUSE: Ukrainian government has denied any involvement with these attacks and says that group was acting independently.

In light of the new U.S. intelligence though, which indicates Kyiv, despite all of its styles may have in fact been behind the drone attack on the Kremlin. What are the chances of direct involvement in the attacks this week on Russian soil by Ukraine? And what are the implications here for Ukraine and its relationship with Washington if in fact it is true that Ukraine was directly involved?

LAYTON: Certainly, it seems that the -- that the Ukraine has a number of groups which are freelancing, the Ukraine even at the tactical level tends to encourage people to do their own thing if you like.

It seems that there's some pro-Ukrainian Russian groups active. And certainly this drone strike suggests that there is more to come.

So, all of this will keep bubbling on. It's like an information war if you like inside. The Ukrainian army is mounting a military campaign. But on the side, you have all these uncertainties. This must be bothering Putin because Russian social media has been full of concern over the drone attacks. These pro-Ukrainian groups taking Belgorod and of course, the boss of Wagner are talking about revolution. It sounds like Putin is losing control, which is an unfortunate view from Putin's viewpoint.


VAUSE: Yes. And also, I guess there is some concern too within the White House and the Biden administration.

But you mentioned the Wagner Mercenary Group and the head of that group Yevgeny Prigozhin. He is in his typical outspoken self. He says the Russian attacks on the Russian border towns have raised questions about Russia's domestic security, here he is.


YEVGENY PRIGOZHIN, FOUNDER, WAGNER PRIVATE MILITARY COMPANY (through translator): Sabotage and reconnaissance forces calmly into Russia and march uploading videos driving their tanks, armored infantry vehicles, where's the safeguard that they will not enter Moscow?


VAUSE: It seems the chances it'll reach Moscow are pretty slim. But would Prigozhin be saying publicly what many other Russians are either thinking or saying in private even those close to Putin?

LAYTON: That is the worry I think for Putin is that the boss of the Wagner perhaps knows a bit more than us maybe. Putin tends to be surrounded by yes men, the boss of Wagner is famous for telling bad news, if you like, whether the news is accurate or not.

It's all part of the Ukrainian information war if you like, at the same time as you -- as you said earlier, Washington must be a little bit concerned that there are these groups freelancing. So, to a certain extent, no one knows what will happen next.

VAUSE: And Prigozhin is becoming increasingly outspoken. Confirmed Wednesday that 20,000 of his military fighters died in the battle for Bakhmut. He's also criticized the war in Ukraine for not meeting Russia's strategic goals. And as you mentioned, he also warned of a possible revolution. And here he is saying it.


PRIGOZHIN (through translator): All of this can end like in 1917 with a revolution, when first the soldiers rise up, and after that their loved ones rise up.


VAUSE: You know, right now, Vladimir Putin does appear to have a very firm grip on power. Anything is possible, I guess. But what's the endgame here for Prigozhin? Is there the possibility of a fatal accident, perhaps in his future?

LAYTON: Certainly, although one would think not because he's been very successful at staying alive so far. It does raise the question, though, we've been all concerned in the West about the Ukraine war dragging on and causing a loss of public interest here.

However, the Russians have some issues too. If the war drags on too long, the boss of Wagner might be correct, that Putin may lose the public support.

Remember, President Biden said about two weeks ago, that so far that in the Battle of the Bakhmut, Russia 100,000 killed or wounded. So, their losses are by our standard, staggering.

VAUSE: Yes, absolutely. Peter, thank you. Peter Layton there live in Brisbane. Appreciate your time, Peter.

LAYTON: Thanks, John.

VAUSE: Well, the worst is over for Guam and super typhoon Mawar moves away from the island. The storm is strengthen now shy of a Category 5 hurricane strength with sustained winds of 135 knots, 135 miles per hour. It's expected to continue to strengthen in the coming days.

Guam's governor says as of Thursday morning, there were no deaths because of the storm.

Storm chaser James Reynolds joins us now from Guam. So James, what does it look like there as, you know, during the daylight there as you can assess some of the damage? Was it as big of a hit as they were expecting?

JAMES REYNOLDS, STORM CHASER: Well, some of the forecasts right before the storm made landfall were really really dire. At some -- one point it was looking like a Category 5 typhoon could have made a direct hit right over Guam.

But thankfully, that actually didn't materialize. The storm it unexpectedly weakened somewhat prior to hitting the island and the track of it jogged a little bit further north than expected.

So, whilst the island has certainly been roughed up, you know, the worst case scenario thankfully didn't unfold last night. VAUSE: In many ways, were they very better prepared I guess for this storm, then say other places have been in the past that have been much more devastated by similar powerful typhoons.

REYNOLDS: Yes, Guam has a history of disruptive super typhoon impact. You know, it's almost 47 years to the day that Super Typhoon Pamela completely wrecked the islands.

So, you know, the island is a use to typhoons. They're part of almost the culture here. And you know, you're on a small island in the middle of the Western Pacific, the busiest area in the world for tropical storms and typhoons. They don't have a choice. They've got to be prepared for the storms because there's nowhere evacuate to.


VAUSE: At this point, is there any idea of how long the cleanup will take? How long before, you know, everything returns to relative normalcy?

REYNOLDS: I think it's going to be, you know, days at the very least. I walked around today and there are tree branches down everywhere. I've been told that the water has been cut, there's no power I think across most of the island right now.

So, it's going to be like all hands on deck and it's certainly going to take a few days at the very least, to get all the systems back up and running I'd expect.

VAUSE: A few days that's not too bad, I guess in the scheme of things. James, thank you. James Reynolds there live for us in Guam.

The Chinese hackers are laying the groundwork in cyberspace for a possible future crisis between Washington and Beijing. According to tech giant Microsoft, the effort is likely focused on disrupting critical communications between the U.S. and its Asian allies.

Targets include maritime, transportation and government sectors. Hackers have been active since 2021 targeting critical infrastructure in the U.S. territory of Guam.

Separate warning from Western Security Agency says China could apply the same formula worldwide.

Now, to the race for the White House off to a very rough start for Florida's Republican Governor Ron DeSantis. He announced his candidacy in a glitchy Twitter conversation with Elon Musk. But that may be the least of his problems as a new CNN poll shows him losing ground to former President Donald Trump.

CNN's Jessica Dean has our report.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): Do you go with the crowd? Or do you look at the data yourself and cut against the grain and I chose to do the latter.

JESSICA DEAN CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Florida Governor Ron DeSantis's attempt to declare his candidacy for president in a unique way with Twitter owner Elon Musk on Twitter Spaces, an audio only platform plagued by technical issues at the start.

DESANTIS: It just keeps crushing?

ELON MUSK, CEO, TWITTER: Yes, I think we've got just a massive number of people online so it's -- servers are straining somewhat.

DEAN (voice over): But server issues caused the rollout to be plagued with problems with Team DeSantis tweeting, "It seems we broke the internet with so much excitement. While you're waiting, donate now".

DESANTIS: We must look forward backwards. We need the courage to lead and we must have the strength to win.

DEAN (voice over): DeSantis also asked about the NAACP issuing a travel advisory against his state claiming Florida is not safe for minorities to visit.

DESANTIS: Claiming that Florida is unsafe is a total farce. I mean, are you kidding me?

DEAN (voice over): Wednesday's Twitter event the latest move in DeSantis's presidential campaign rollout. He filed paperwork earlier Wednesday with the Federal Election Commission. On Tuesday, DeSantis's wife Casey tweeted a hype video encouraging supporters to sign up for campaign updates.

DESANTIS: America has been worth it every single time.

DEAN (voice over): DeSantis jumps in the Republican primary following months of speculation about the Florida governor's political future fueled by a national book tour and visits to key early nominating states.

DESANTIS: I have only begun to fight.

DEAN (voice over): As the Republican primary fight intensifies, a new CNN poll shows former President Donald Trump leaving the GOP field with roughly double the support of DeSantis and no other candidate in double figures.

But the survey also finds the Republican field to be far from settled, more than eight in 10 of those polled said they either support or say they're open to considering either Trump or DeSantis.

DESANTIS: We have to reject the culture of losing that has infected our party in recent years. We have no more time for excuses.

DEAN (voice over): DeSantis and Trump have appeared to be on a collision course for months. With the former president launching repeated attacks against the Florida Governor.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: DeSantis is very low and crushing. He's crashing and burning.

DEAN (voice over): But DeSantis has been intentional and not directly attacking Trump, instead using his speeches around the country to draw contrast.

DESANTIS: I don't have time for drama. I don't have time for palace intrigue, I want to make sure that we're executing the agenda. And you know what's happened over the last four years? We don't have leaks. We don't have drama. All we do is get the job done day after day.


DEAN (on camera): Up next, Governor DeSantis will gather here in Miami with some of his biggest donors and bundlers as they really hope to make the most of this announcement.

They're already working with an unprecedented $100 million in his war chest but they are seeking to amplify this -- amplify that number out of this announcement. So, we are expecting that number to grow in the days to come.

We're also expecting to see him hit the campaign trail early and aggressively. We are expecting to see him in those early states in the coming days where he will rally with supporters all across the country.

Jessica Dean, CNN, Miami, Florida.

VAUSE: And to Los Angeles now, CNN's senior political analyst and senior editor for The Atlantic, Ron Brownstein. Hi, Ron.


VAUSE: You too. So, the campaign launch on Twitter has been described as the conference call from hell. The announcement not heard around the world. All hat, no cattle. Elon Musk has seen more successful SpaceX launches.

You know, it wasn't great, especially considering that DeSantis's bid for the White House has appeared to be losing momentum in recent weeks. And this is just another stumbling block on the way. Can he recover from this?


BROWNSTEIN: Yes, he can recover from this. But it is dangerous because as you suggest, it becomes an instant symbol for a campaign that has really struggled moving up to the starting line.

I mean, if you remember back to the day after the election when DeSantis won in a landslide in Florida, and Donald Trump's handpick candidates had been defeated in each of the five key states that decided 2020 by switching from Trump to Biden. DeSantis looked Titanic. But like many other figures who look great on paper, he is found

running for president in practice to be more difficult. And tonight was obviously glitch filled and kind of a technical disaster.

But from a message point of view, I thought it both showed the potential that he has, and really some of the big barriers that he's -- that he's creating for himself.

VAUSE: That's interesting because DeSantis's appeal to many Republican voters, is that he's Donald Trump without the baggage, without the drama. And that kind of explains this ad from the Trump campaign. He's part of it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Washington established politicians like to talk about how they can be just like Donald Trump, the truth, there's only one, Donald Trump.


VAUSE: Right now, it seems if you look at the other Republicans who are likely to run for the presidential primary, there's not a lot of Trump wannabes in that group if you like, they seem to distance themselves from the former president. So, where does that leave DeSantis?

BROWNSTEIN: Yes, as you suggest, I mean, DeSantis's message has been, I will give you Trumpism without Trump, and in fact, I can deliver these policies better than he can because I can win and he can't. The problem is he hasn't been willing to say that as explicitly as he needs to.

Donald Trump is a former Republican president that about three- quarters of Republicans or maybe even four-fifths believe implemented policies that they support, forget about the broader electorate feels.

To displace him, to dislodge him, you have to give them a strong and clear reason to do so. And all of the Republican other candidates for 2024 I think have really been gun shy about getting, you know, getting explicit, and making the case there -- repeating the problem in 2016, when they were many of -- you know, all of Trump's rivals were afraid of alienating his voters, but ultimately, they are going to have to make a very strong and direct case because Trump is clearly even in a more commanding position now than he was at any point in 2016.

VAUSE: And part of that sort of being Trumper than Trump, DeSantis waged his war, this cultural war with Disney, here he is, listen to this.


DESANTIS: What happened was Disney's posturing some of the other statements that their executives were making kind of the corporate culture had really been outed as trying to inject matters of sex into the programming for the youth. And I think a lot of parents, including me look at that and say that's not appropriate. Some of these Republicans that are taking Disney side, they're basically showing themselves to be corporatist.


VAUSE: The criticism has been that it's a dumb fight. It's a Trumpian attempt at standing up to elites and liberals, while at the same time, the Florida Governor, as you've suggested, has been unwilling to take on Trump directly. This doesn't seem to be a winning strategy right now.

BROWNSTEIN: Well, look, the Disney fight is indicative of the problem that DeSantis faces, the fundamental contradiction in his campaign.

On the one hand, listening to him tonight, you can see the scaffolding of a plausible message both for the primary and the general election, for the general election. You know, Biden has taken us in the wrong direction on inflation, the border and crime. I've got the Florida miracle. Yes, that's a direct echo of Michael Dukakis in 1988 with the Massachusetts miracle. It showed that we can, you know, run the economy better than he has.

The problem he's got is that the desire to show that he can deliver Trumpism without Trump leads him as you suggest into this endless procession of culture war fights, many of which have the potential to alienate the swing voters he's promising he can make bring back better than Trump and certainly an ongoing war with you know, a death match with Mickey Mouse is probably not the way to win back the suburbs of Milwaukee and Detroit and Atlanta and Philadelphia, that had been critical to the Republican troubles in the last few elections.

I mean, tonight, he talked about the woke mind virus being a form of cultural Marxism. Now, if you're not watching Fox 14 hours a day, you know, I challenge you to kind of really grasp of what he is saying. And that I think is the challenge.

He talks a little like he is still in that conservative news bubble, and maybe that will work in the primary but if he gets to a general election, I think the voters in those kinds of swinging places may react very differently to this cultural offensive than what he's seen in Florida.


VAUSE: So, often you to hear the words death match with Mickey Mouse. But Ron, it's good to see you. Ron Brownstein in Los Angeles. Thank you, sir.

BROWNSTEIN: Thanks. John.

VAUSE: Still ahead, signs of hope, searches in Colombia find evidence four missing children may have survived a plane crash weeks ago in the Amazon forest.

And ahead, remembering the one and only Tina Turner, the queen of rock and roll. According to her fans she was so much more than that. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VAUSE: That explosive raspy voice was unmistakable. She was an unforgettable live performer. Tina Turner who lived an incredible life at 83 years old has died.

This song The Best was just one of her many chart topping hits that catapulted her to global stardom in the 1980s. She made it look easy, but getting there was a long and difficult journey.

CNN's Stephanie Elam looks back at Turner's remarkable reign as the Queen of rock and roll.


STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Proud Mary was one of Tina Turner's signatures, showcasing her unique sound, look and moves.

TINA TURNER, SINGER: That's my style. I take great songs and turn them into rock and roll songs on stage.

ELAM (voice over): Icon survivor of Queen of rock and roll. Tina Turner began life as Anna Mae Bullock in rural Tennessee. As a teenager she moved to St. Louis, where she met rocker Ike Turner.

TURNER: Ike was very good to me when I first started my career. Started to sing weekends with him and we were really close friends.

ELAM (voice over): The Ike and Tina Turner reviews first hit came in 1960 with A Fool in Love, a song they performed on Shindig (PH). They married in 1962 and in 1966, recorded River Deep Mountain High.

It was a hit overseas but flopped in the U.S.

Off stage, Ike's drug abuse fueled violent outbursts.

TURNER: I had had a lot of violence, houses burn, cars shot into the lowest that you can think of in terms of violence.

ELAM (voice over): After years of physical and emotional abuse, Tina left Ike in the mid-70s with nothing but her name, at one point relying on food stamps to survive.

In the early 80s, Turner's cover of Let's Stay Together reignited her career. Private Dancer followed in 1984, a runaway critical and commercial success. The album featured her only number one song.


Though she wasn't a fan.

TURNER: I didn't like it. I wasn't accustomed to singing those kind of songs.

ELAM (voice over): It was also the title of a 1993 film starring Angela Bassett, based on Tina's autobiography. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do the picture do a justice?

TURNER: Yes, I think in a way I would have liked for them to have had more truth. But of course, the Disney isn't -- it's impossible that people would not have believed the truth.

ELAM (voice over): Turner herself appeared in movies such as The Who's Tommy and Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome. She sang its theme song. As well as the theme to the James Bond film Golden Eye.

One major role she turned down would go to Oprah Winfrey in The Color Purple.

TURNER: That was too close to my personal life. I had just left such a life and was too soon to be reminded of.

ELAM (voice over): The What's Love Got to do with it soundtrack gave Turner another hit, her personal favorite.

TURNER: It's very special because at the time when I got it, no one believed in it but me.

ELAM (voice over): Turner continued recording and touring into her 80s. She was honored by the Kennedy Center in 2005 and inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a solo act in 2021, 30 years after her first induction as part of a duo with Ike Turner. All the while her Buddhist faith kept her going.

TURNER: Because you make this lifetime can be the effect of a better life the next step -- next lifetime, it will be better and gets better and better.


VAUSE: And there have been condolences and memories from other greats of the music industry. Mick Jagger called her my wonderful friend and said he'll never forget how she helped him early in his career.

John Oates of Hall and Oates reminisced about her surprise performance with Jagger at Live Aid in 1985. He said the music world has lost a true Queen of Soul.

And singer songwriter Carole King said Turner's life taught women they can be strong, sexy, fearless, and be their own person. Their view is shared by countless fairs around the world.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She represents so much to all of us. She shows, she represents success and strength, and that you can persevere through everything.

More than anything, she's a powerful, strong black woman. And that is what a black boy needs and the black girl needs to be able to look at someone such as Tina Turner and say, wow, she can go through all of it. She can go through all of this and be a black woman in America, then I can do it too.



VAUSE: Welcome back. I'm John Vause. You are watching CNN NEWSROOM.


Ukraine will soon receive a much-needed boost in its air defense capability, after the White House approved the sale of six batteries of the NASAMS advanced missile system. Ukraine already has two NASAMS, which have proved effective at intercepting Russian aerial strikes.

U.S. Defense secretary Lloyd Austin says the defense system has a 100 percent success rate in intercepting Russian missiles.

Well, a top NATO leader is playing down hopes that Ukraine could join the alliance during the war. Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg says Ukraine's membership is not on the agenda as long as the conflict is ongoing.

Kyiv announced its bid for a fast-track membership last September. Some Western countries, though, are concerned that allowing Ukraine into the alliance could drag the rest of the countries into a conflict with Russia.

On Wednesday, Stoltenberg said Ukraine would become a NATO country eventually.


JENS STOLTENBERG, NATO SECRETARY-GENERAL: We also agree on a lot when it comes to Ukraine and membership. We all agree that Ukraine will become a member of the alliance. That was actually stated very clearly at the Madrid summit last year. And it has been repeated many times since we made the first position back in 2008.

We all agree that NATO's door is open for new members. And that is for the NATO allies and Ukraine to decide when they should join, not Moscow. They don't have a veto.


VAUSE: Well, those two pro-Ukrainian, anti-Putin paramilitary groups which carried out attacks on Russian soil this week now warn that their operations are far from over. They've returned to Ukraine after claiming success in those military raids in Western Russia. They say the raid was only one step in a bigger operation, which is ongoing.

CNN's Sam Kiley has details.


SAM KILEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A propaganda coup. Russian dissident soldiers back from a raid inside Russia, parading a captured Russian vehicle for the world.

KILEY: What do you hope will be the effect of this raid?

"CAESAR", SPOKESPERSON, FREEDOM FOR RUSSIA LEGION: Effect of this raid was amazing. It was information on shell (ph), information (UNINTELLIGIBLE) about two days, whole Internet blowing up. Boiling (ph).

KILEY (voice-over): The legion and the far-right Russian Volunteer Corps, all Russian nationals, are part of Ukraine's security forces and carry Ukrainian military I.D.s.

KILEY: This incursion into Russian territory, which these guys say is ongoing, was as much a propaganda mission as it was a military mission. But they say it was also done independently of the Ukrainian military. That is a claim we have to take with a big pinch of salt.

KILEY (voice-over): They jointly raided Russian territory this week and flooded the Internet with images of their work. Russia claims to have driven them out. Still, the raid has rattled Moscow.

KILEY: Do you think this is part of the coming summer offensive? An attempt to keep the Russians off-balance? Keep them guessing?

"CAESAR": I think it's -- it's kind of -- yes. It's kind of it.

KILEY (voice-over): American-made vehicles appear to have been used in the cross-border operation in Belgorod province. It's unclear if they were U.S. donations.

KILEY: The vehicles that you took included some of the American MRAPs. Is that right? That you were using?

"CAESAR": We used Humvee, also, yes. We buy them in international shops. World shops.

KILEY: So, you bought these vehicles on the open market?

"CAESAR": Yes, of course. Everyone who have some money can do it.

KILEY (voice-over): Ukraine's government, which has received U.S. vehicles and lethal hardware, says that these men operated inside Russia privately, but a security source said here that Kyiv had advanced knowledge of the raid, and Caesar admitted Ukraine helped out with supplies.

"CAESAR": Small arms, artillery weapon, heavy vehicles. Everything that we need.

KILEY (voice-over): So, this was a raid that the government can deny but still enjoy the results. Divisions in the ranks of their enemies. Mercenary leader Yevgeny Prigozhin immediately reacting with fury.

YEVGENY PRIGOZHIN, LEADER, WAGNER MERCENARY GROUP: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE) GRAPHIC: Sabotage groups calmly sneak in, drive about in tanks and APCs uploading videos. Where's the guarantee they won't come to Moscow tomorrow? It seems to me that nobody gives a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) about people of Belgorod province.

KILEY (voice-over): And the far-right leader of the Russian Volunteer -- he even warned that Moscow could face a revolution.

DENIS NIKTIN, HEAD, RUSSIAN VOLUNTEER CORPS: The operation is ongoing. This is how I should put it, to be honest. It definitely has various phases. So, phase one, we consider this successful phase. It's over now. But the operation is ongoing. That's what I can say for now.


KILEY (voice-over): Sam Kiley, CNN, in Sumy province.


VAUSE: Search teams in Colombia have found evidence that four children may have survived a plane crash almost four weeks ago.

The military said Wednesday search teams in the Amazon Forest have recovered a number of items, including a dirty diaper, a pair of shoes, a baby bottle cover, and the frame of a mobile phone. They were all found at 400 to 500 meters from the site, where a small single- engine Cessna crashed on May 1, killing the children's mother, the pilot and another adult passenger.

Officials believe the children were alive between May 3 and May 8, and moved towards the West, although they have no proof right now, they're currently alive. But there is hope.

Investigators in Southern Portugal are extending their search for clues in the disappearance of Madeleine McCann, who vanished as a toddler in 2007.

CNN Portugal reports the search of a reservoir will continue into Thursday, after heavy rain interrupted their efforts earlier this week.

On Tuesday authorities said they excavated and uncovered materials which will be analyzed. But they did not give details on what was actually found.

McCann went missing just shy of her fourth birthday. Police are reportedly looking for evidence that can support an official charge against German national Christian Brueckner, named as an official suspect in the case last year.

With that, we'll take a short break. When we come back, inflation in the U.K. has fallen, but food prices continue to soar. What this means for lower-income families. That's ahead.


VAUSE: The ongoing political standoff over raising the federal government's debt ceiling could cost the U.S. its perfect AAA rating.

Credit-rating agency Fitch has placed the U.S. on what it calls negative rating watch, even though it still believes a resolution will come before the default deadline around June 1.

The White House calls the Fitch warning "one more piece of the evidence that default is not an option, and all responsible lawmakers understand that. It reinforces the need for Congress to quickly pass a reasonable bipartisan agreement to prevent default."

But the Biden administration and House Republicans are still far apart, even after the latest round of talks.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): I think we've made some progress working down there. So, that -- that's very positive.

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You said last week you need to have a deal this week in order to avoid default. Is that --

MCCARTHY: I still believe that, yes. And I still believe we have time to make an agreement and get it done.


VAUSE: Kevin McCarthy also warned lawmakers to stay close to Washington during the upcoming Memorial Day holiday weekend. That's in case they're called back for a vote.

The House goes on recess in the coming day.

Inflation in the United Kingdom fell to 8.7 percent last month. It's the first time the U.K.'s rate of inflation has dropped below 10 percent since August. But as CNN's Anna Stewart reports, food prices are continuing to rise.



ANNA STEWART, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, U.K. inflation has finally fallen to single digits. But actually, it didn't fall nearly as much as economists had expected.

Delving into the detail of this inflation report made for a sobering read. Food inflation has barely shifted from last month. Prices are 19.1 percent higher than a year ago, with some staggering increases for basic food staples.

Sugar is 47 percent more expensive than last year. And there have been huge increases for things like eggs, bread and milk.

A major concern here is that food inflation hits everyone. But it impacts poor households the worst, as a greater portion of their income is spent on food and household bills.

Now, that puts huge pressure on companies to increase wages, so people can cope with the increased cost of living. That could make the situation worse.

The IMF ruled on Tuesday that higher wages could result in high inflation lasting longer. The reason food inflation remains so high, according to the U.K.'s Office of National Statistics, is a combination of factors.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine sent global grain and fertilizer prices soaring, as well as energy input costs. Labor shortages continue to be a problem, a consequence of both pandemic and Brexit.

And then there's the issue of weather abroad, from droughts to cold snaps, impacting the cost of imported food, which the U.K. is heavily reliant on.

In fact, the OAS says the price of imported food has been rising at twice the rate of domestic food.

There's also a transmission lag to price shocks as they travel through supply chains, from farm to producer, and on to the retailer. The Bank of England has already raised interest rates 12 times in a row, and now it's more likely they'll raise them even higher next month.

Anna Stewart, CNN, London.


VAUSE: Britain's King Charles and Queen Camilla have traveled to Belfast, their first visit to Northern Ireland since the coronation earlier this month.

They were welcomed by officials, serenaded by school children. They also visited a newly-created coronation garden.

The leader of the Democratic Unionist Party was at the gathering. But the Sinn Fein vice president, Michelle O'Neill, did not attend.

I'm John Vause. Thank you for watching. Back in about 15 minutes with more CNN NEWSROOM, but in the meantime, after a very short break, WORLD SPORT is up next.