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CNN International: Russia Claims to Repel Ukrainian Attacks in Donetsk; Crews Clear, Repair Tracks after Deadly Accident; Small Plane Crashes after Flying near U.S. Capitol; Why is Prince Harry giving Evidence in Court; Doctors Warn Gun Violence is like a Disease. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired June 05, 2023 - 08:00   ET



MAX FOSTER, CNN HOST: Hello, and welcome to CNN "Newsroom", I'm Max Foster in London. Just ahead, Moscow claims it has repelled a large scale offensive from Ukrainian forces in the Southern Donetsk area. We'll get the latest on what Kyiv is saying.

Also ahead an investigation is underway for the cause of a devastating rail crash in India. CNN is on the scene and heard from survivors of the disaster. And China accused the U.S. of provocation after a near collision of warships in the Taiwan Strait. More details in just a moment.

Still unclear when, where or how Ukraine's highly anticipated counter offensive will begin or if it's already underway. But Russia claims without any evidence that its forces repelled a large scale offensive in the Southern Donetsk region over the weekend. Ukraine says it has no information about any major attack in the area.

Kyiv meanwhile reiterates that it won't be giving Moscow any clues about its military plans with this powerful social media post. The soldier is calling for a strategic silence. CNN's Fred Pleitgen joins us live in the Ukrainian capital. What's going on Fred?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Are there Max. Well, it was late last night when the Russian Defense Ministry came out and said that they had reported that they put it this large scale attack and the sort of Southern region of Ukraine near a place called -- which is sort of towards the Melitopol area of Ukraine.

And they say that there that there had been a large scale charge by the Ukrainians involving tanks involving infantry fighting vehicles, and of course, infantry itself as well. They did actually put out a drone video of what they said was that incident, seeming to show some armored vehicles, either running into mines or possibly getting hit by artillery.

However, the video isn't very long, and it's very difficult to discern what exactly is going wrong there. Now, of course, one of the things that you mentioned is absolutely correct. The Ukrainians have come out and said that they are not going to comment on this matter. They put up that social media video, basically, with people saying to be quiet that they are not going to talk about their big counter offensive plans.

And certainly are not going to make a big announcement when the counter offensive starts. Now, there's a Russian official from that area from the Zaporizhzhia area of Ukraine, who came out today and also said that there was an ongoing attempt by the Ukrainians to break through the Russian lines that the Russians obviously believe that the Ukrainians are trying to push through and get all the way down to the Sea of Azov.

Now, if they managed to do that, they would be able to cut off Russian forces from their land corridor to Crimea. That would obviously be a big deal. However, at this point in time, it doesn't appear to be anywhere near there right now. But certainly it does appear as though something is up even though the Ukrainians are not commenting on it at this point in time.

Certainly, from what we've seen, Max, over the past days, really and over the past weeks, almost is that right now, the Russians do seem to be on the back foot on most parts of the frontline in Ukraine, and also in Russia as well. You have of course, the Russians really advancing nowhere here inside Ukraine.

And then you have those issues that the Russians have been having over the past couple of days in the Belgorod area of Russia, where there have been some cross border attacks by anti-Putin Russian fighters who normally fight on the side of the Ukrainians, but then are on their own.

The Ukrainian say when they go into Russia, certainly that situation there seems to be ongoing and the latest information that we're getting is that there has been shelling in that area again today. Max.

FOSTER: Fred Pleitgen in Kyiv, thank you. Now a young man has been found alive, three days after a deadly train crash in India. A CNN affiliate reports he was discovered unconscious and severely injured a short distance from the accident site. At least 275 people were killed and more than 1000 injured in Friday's collision.

As crews work to repair the tracks anger is growing over safety issues. CNN's Ivan Watson reports from Eastern India.


IVAN WATSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Working on the railroad, an army of laborers laying new rail by hand, racing to reopen this transport route after one of the deadliest train disasters India has seen in its modern history.

WATSON (on camera): On Friday night, three trains collided in this area and everywhere on the side of the tracks in this rural part of Eastern India. There are massive railroad cars that were as you can see, severely damaged in this collision.


This vehicle here this car was reserved for people with disabilities. You can still see people's personal belongings down below right outside.

WATSON (voice over): It began with a passenger train moving at 128 kilometers or 80 miles per hour, slamming into a parked freight train colliding after dark in this rural area. Villagers rescued passengers by the light of their cell phones.

WATSON (on camera): Did you actually as volunteers pull survivors from the train wagons?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, one the most hit train wagon, where I told the other guys to put the mobile light. I entered into it. It was no space literally because it was so inclined that everybody was male, female, everyone was dumped at a place so we had to pull them very carefully. We pulled them out, few were alive. We just separated them here dead so we don't have to waste the time.

WATSON (voice over): Crowds of volunteers gather outside local hospitals, local reporters interviewing a crash survivor being transferred for treatment. Among the crowd here a worried mother, she's still searching for her missing son who was a passenger on the train. Inside the hospital some of the more than 1000 injured in the crash, the road to recovery may not be easy.

This 52 year old farmer in so much pain, he can't lie down. I'm blessed to have another chance at life says Monto Kumar, the 32 year old said the collision felt like an earthquake. Afterwards, I took my shirt and wrapped it around my head and started looking for my friends he says.

Kumar says he shared an ambulance with his friend who lost both legs and later died. The Indian government launched an investigation into this disaster and vows to punish anyone responsible. The pressure is on to ensure a catastrophe like this never happens again. Ivan Watson CNN in Odisha state in Eastern India.


FOSTER: Now the U.S. and China are trading blame after a close naval encounter in the Taiwan Strait. This video released by the U.S. Navy shows that moment over the weekend, when the U.S. said a Chinese Military ship sailed in front of a Navy destroyer. The American vessel had to slow down to avoid a collision.

China's Foreign Ministry accuses the U.S. of starting the provocation. CNN's Anna Coren is working the story joins us live from Hong Kong, a very sort of worrying situation on the surface of it just by the optics.

ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, absolutely. It was a close call and you know Max's genuine concern that near misses like this one could lead to an accident and then a crisis and he does something to U.S. says it desperately wants to avoid. On Saturday, the U.S's Chung- Hoon, and Canada's HMCS Montreal were transiting through the Taiwan Strait when that Chinese vessel cut in front of the U.S. destroyer.

A carrying out what U.S. officials say was a unsafe maneuver within about 137 meters, the U.S. destroyer was forced to slow down to avoid a collision. As seen by that video released from the U.S. Navy. It's no surprise China is blaming the U.S. within hours of the incident, China's Defense Minister accused the U.S. of provocation and creating chaos in the region.

And just a few hours ago, we heard from the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Let's have a listen to what he had to say.


WANG WENBIN, SPOKESMAN OF CHINESE FOREIGN MINISTRY: The truth is that the United States is provoking trouble first, and China is dealing with it in accordance with laws and regulations. The actions taken by the Chinese Military are necessary measures to deal with the provocations in certain countries, and they are reasonable, legal, safe, and professional.


COREN: Now, Max, some analysts believe this is the first time that such close encounters occurred during a U.S. Navy transit of the Taiwan Strait. Now the backdrop to all of this was the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore over the weekend, where it was hoped that the U.S. Defense Secretary and his Chinese counterpart would meet.

But it was an awkward handshake I should say. That was as good as it got after the Chinese rejected a private meeting, Max. But despite all that the U.S. administration is still hoping that President Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping will meet in the near future, Max.

FOSTER: OK, Anna, thank you. U.S. investigators want to know why a small civilian plane flew close to the U.S. Capitol building on Sunday. Then crash so four people on board died. The U.S. scrambled fighter jets to intercept it in the process creating a sonic boom over Washington D.C. Brian Todd has the details.



BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): It was the boom heard far and wide across the Washington D.C. region, disrupting a Sunday music rehearsal and sending people and pets running for cover. The cause U.S. 16 fighter jets scrambled to reach a Cessna Citation private jet unresponsive and flying through tightly controlled Washington D.C. airspace.

According to FlightAware the civilian aircraft took off from Elizabeth to municipal airport in Elizabethton, Tennessee at 1:13 pm and was bound for Long Island MacArthur Airport in New York. The plane with four people on board then turned around over Long Island, heading back over the Washington D.C. area, nearly two hours after it originally took off.

That's when NORAD scrambled the F-16s who were authorized to travel in supersonic speeds in pursuit of the jet. According to a news release from the continental U.S. North American Aerospace Defense Command region, the pilot of the civilian aircraft was unresponsive as the F- 16 fighter jets attempted to make contact.

At one point, according to the statement, the F-16s used flares in an attempt to draw attention from the pilot. The Cessna 560 Citation 5 traveling more than 300 miles off course, going off radar at 3:23 pm and ultimately crashing in a rural mountainous terrain near George Washington National Forest near Charlottesville, Virginia.

Late Sunday according to a statement from Virginia State police first responders reach the crash site by foot but found no survivors.

TODD (on camera): According to FAA records that private jet was registered through a company called Encore Motors out of Melbourne, Florida owned by Barbara and John Rumpel. They told The Washington Post that their family members were on board including their daughter, a grandchild and her nanny.

They told The New York Times that the family was returning to their home in East Hampton, New York from another family home in North Carolina, and that their granddaughter is two years old, Brian Todd CNN Greenville, Virginia.


FOSTER: The top U.S. Military officer is in France to mark the 79th anniversary of D-Day General Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff visited with World War Two veterans on Sunday in Normandy on Friday. He was awarded France's highest Medal of Honor for his role in supporting Ukraine.

General Milley plans to retire in September. He spoke to CNN exclusively about his four decades in the military. CNN's Oren Liebermann joins us now from Normandy, France, he's got this illustrious career, but obviously, it's the focus of the current conflict is clearly his focus.

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Of course, absolutely. General Mark Milley, the top U.S. officer, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff will mark 44 years in the military this month, in just a few days in fact, part of our conversation was about the importance of not only his time in service, but also why he's here at Normandy.

His uncle was part of D-Day as his father fought in the Pacific. And we got to talk about all of that both the personal and the professional significance. But of course, as might be inevitable, much of our conversation focused on Ukraine, and a highly anticipated counter offensive.

What are his expectations for that? We pushed him here a bit. He's watched this war now for nearly 18 months. And we asked him, what are his expectations? Does he believe Ukraine is prepared? Ukraine has indicated that it is ready and that its military has finished its planning and preparations and has the equipment that it needs.

We asked them how confident is he that Ukraine's counter-offensive will succeed? His answer was a very careful one listen here.


GENERAL MARK MILLEY, CHAIRMAN OF U.S. JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: So I think it's too early to tell what outcomes are going to happen. I think the Ukrainians are very well prepared, as you know very well, the United States and other allied countries in Europe and really around the world. I provided training and ammunition and advice, intelligence, etcetera to the Ukrainians who are supporting them.

They're in a war that's an existential threat for the very survival of Ukraine, and has greater meaning to the rest of the world, for Europe, really for the United States, but also for the globe.


LIEBERMANN: General Milley knows how difficult is to try to predict the outcome of a war or the outcome of a specific battle. So he was very careful there and trying not to make a prediction on how this all goes. But the point he made right at the end, there is one we've heard from him frequently that this is about more than just Ukraine, that the rules based international order in his words that was established in the years after World War Two.

And is held for nearly 80 years now that is part of what's at stake here as we watch a war that is on the other side of the continent here, Max.

FOSTER: OK, Oren in France. Thank you very much indeed for that. Now coming up on Tuesday, Prince Harry will attend court in the U.K. to give evidence of his lawsuit against a U.K. Publishing Group. What's at stake for him and the British tabloids coming up next?



FOSTER: On Tuesday, Britain's Prince Harry will appear the U.K. is High Court in London to give evidence and seek damages from British Publisher Mirror group newspapers. More than 100 people are suing MGN with Harry and three other public figures chosen as test cases.

Now he claims MGN gathered information about him using unlawful methods including phone hacking, and MGN has admitted that one of its tabloids unlawfully sought information about Harry's on one occasion but it's rejected all of his other allegations saying he has no evidence for his claims.

It is very unusual to see a member of the British royal family have been cross examined in court in 2002. Princess Anne did appear in the U.K. court to plead guilty to her dogs bit to children, but wasn't cross examined following this extremely rare event. For all the details are Nada Bashir she's outside the High Court in London. I gather some frustration in the court by the judge that Harry couldn't appear on day one. NADA BASHIR, CNN REPORTER: Yes, but it was said to be extraordinary that while he wasn't here on the first day of what is said to be a three day hearing, Prince Harry according to his legal representatives arriving late overnight Sunday he spent the day of course with his daughter it was her second birthday Lilibet.

He had expected her to appear in court tomorrow to deliver evidence. So we have had a sense in the last couple of hours from his legal representatives as to what that evidence may look like in those opening statements including some 147 articles which have been submitted as part of Prince Harry's came dating in between early 90s.

After 2011 published about Prince Harry including private personal details that they say could only have been obtained through illegal means including details of conversations and arguments between Prince Harry and his brother, the Prince of Wales details around his past relationship with former girlfriend Chelsy Davy as well as details around the goings on at Sandhurst during his days of military training.

So a lot of evidence to get through, because this will be a high stakes and there will be a lot of eyes on Prince Harry tomorrow as he is cross examined and delivered his evidence in stands tomorrow.

FOSTER: Why is he doing this? He's talked in the past, hasn't he about remodeling or reworking or reestablishing a modern media which he thinks would be more responsible is that broadly what he's doing here? Is this specific allegation that he wants to see resolved?

BASHIR: Well, this has been a huge issue for Prince Harry for years now. And we've seen that in the last couple of years, particularly at his marriage to Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex he has been very, very vocal about wanting to reform the media and its practices about the impact.

The media intrusion has had not only on his life, his mental health but that of his wife and family and of course, crucially, a man of his late mother, Princess Diana. Now of course that has been a huge focus he has expressed his feelings that he blamed the media the tabloids in part for her death.


Of course, this was has been a hugely important issue for. He has refused to settle these cases in the past with these media organizations. He wants to see this through in court to get a final result. And of course, there are some really specific allegations there not only phone hacking but the interception of Prince Harry's own voicemails the use of private investigators.

He believes that his family in recent months in particular have come under attack by the tabloids we've seen that not only in the United Kingdom, but we've seen a real sense of anger and frustration from Prince Harry and the Duchess of Sussex in the United States.

Look, we can't forget it was just a matter of weeks ago, that car chase in his words in New York. So there is a real sense of frustration, he's expressed that in the past. And of course he is only one of more than 100 claimants now putting forward this case this lawsuit against MGN.

FOSTER: OK, Nada, thank you for the beginning of that hearing. She's there and should be there the rest of the week as well. But when we come back, adopters are calling it a plague. And look at the impact of gun violence on America's children.


FOSTER: Its stunning number this weekend in the U.S. at least 95 people die from shootings, according to the gun violence archive. Some doctors now say gun violence is like a deadly plague in America. And children are often the victims of the disease. CNN's Josh Campbell has the story.


DR. NICOLE WEBB, CALIFORNIA EXECUTIVE BOARD MEMBER OF AMERICAN ACADEMY OF PEDIATRICS: This is the number one cause of death of American children which is just unacceptable and astonishing.

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Those on the front line saving children's lives fed up with America's gun violence epidemic.

CAMPBELL (on camera): To you gun violence is a disease.

WEBB: Yes, the country is the victim in this case.

CAMPBELL (voice over): The outrage felt by Pediatrician Dr. Nicole Webb on display across the country this past weekend, as demonstrators took to the streets demanding an end to the endless gun violence ravaging the nation.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Enough is enough.

JADA HUGHES, HIGH SCHOOL SENIOR IN SPRINGFIELD, VIRGINIA: Let's take it upon ourselves to inspire action so that students across the country can worry about homework and tests, not gun violence.

CAMPBELL (voice over): National Gun Violence Awareness Day began after the brutal killing of 15 year old Hadiya Pendleton on a Chicago playground in 2013. Murdered one week after marching with their schools banned in a parade celebrating Barack Obama's second presidential inauguration, Pendleton's mother speaking out.

CLEOPATRA COWLEY, MOTHER OF HADIYA PENDLETON: There have been thousands of other families that unfortunately have joined this fraternity, and no one wants to be a part.

CAMPBELL (voice over): But tens of thousands more have been impacted since her daughter's death. More than 18,000 people have been shot and killed so far this year. The federal government calling gun violence a public health crisis, and while guns are often politically polarizing, most Americans surveyed in a recent CNN poll agree gun control laws should be stricter.

American health professionals say common sense evidence based safety efforts should not be, partisan at all.

WEBB: States with red flag laws see fewer high profile mass shootings. States that have closed loopholes in the background check system see fewer shootings involving illegally obtained weapons.

CAMPBELL (voice over): A recent troubling trend guns in the hands of children in recent weeks at least nine teens arrested for bringing guns on campus, including a Phoenix student arrested with an AR-15.

WEBB: The most helpful thing anyone can do is store their weapons securely.


Your child may be comfortable around the gun. It may even be something that you've purchased as a gift, maybe something that's really important to your family. They have a bad day at school. They're feeling down and you know they make a decision that they can't recover from.

CAMPBELL (voice over): But even basic evidence based safety efforts have drawn the ire of America's gun lobby.

CAMPBELL (on camera): The NRA said in this tweet that someone should tell self-important anti-gun doctors to stay in their lane. How do you respond to that?

WEBB: The only thing that matters is safety. Every American citizen should be free to live their life without the fear that they might be shot to death.

CAMPBELL (on camera): Are you anti-gun?

WEBB: No, I'm not. Anyone who's actually really interested in what is going to keep a majority of people safe is not going to take that approach.

CAMPBELL (voice over): And while major national reforms remain stalled, the killing continues. Doctors have a grim analogy.

WEBB: Straight up, somebody's sort of sitting, having a picnic by the river and you start noticing a body floating down, you know, stream so you fish it out. And you know you resuscitate that person and then a few minutes later, there's another one and another one.

Pretty quickly, you stop trying to fish the bodies out of the river and you go upstream and try to figure out why they're ending up in the river in the first place. So we know gun violence is preventable, and yet we keep focusing on treating the aftermath.

CAMPBELL (voice over): Josh Campbell, CNN, Los Angeles.

(END VIDEOTAPE) FOSTER: Before we go in just a couple of hours, Apple is expected to unveil its newest piece of game changing hardware at its Worldwide Developers Conference. The company is set to introduce a mixed reality headset that will both featured virtual reality and an ability to put virtual images over the real world.

The headset would be Apple's biggest new hardware launched as the Apple Watch. Thanks for joining me here on CNN "Newsroom", I'm Max Foster in London. "World Sport" with Coy Wire is up next.