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CNN International: Search for Submersible Continues; Former U.S. President Barack Obama Talks to Amanpour; India's PM Modi In- Washington for State Visit; How Long will the Search for Titan Continue; CNN Visits Newly Liberated Ukrainian Village. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired June 22, 2023 - 08:00   ET




MAX FOSTER, CNN HOST: Hello, and welcome to CNN "Newsroom", I'm Max Foster in London. Just ahead, the frantic hunt for the missing submersible. And it is a critical new phase these oxygen levels of the five on board may have run out. President Biden rolling out the red carpet for India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi today, a move that some say it's controversial.

We'll be live at the White House in just a moment. Plus, a CNN exclusive, Former U.S. President Barack Obama is in Athens speaking with our Christiane Amanpour, part of that conversation just ahead. Search for the missing submersible in the North Atlantic has entered a dire stage.

At this point is fear the five people on board may have little or no breathable air left. More banging sounds were detected yesterday but the Coast Guard hasn't been able to find where they're from, where they're coming from, or they're if they're even from the submersible.

Meanwhile, a Former subcontractor who helped develop the sub says the construction materials and design choices were considered controversial and experimental at the time back in 2018. Paula Newton joins us live from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. What's the atmosphere like there, Paula, considering the oxygen levels?

PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, despite everything, the odds that they're facing right now, Max, they are quite hopeful and something new in this phase of this search and rescue. There are more assets out there in the North Atlantic than they have been since the search and rescue mission began.

And we just learned from the U.S. Coast Guard as well, that the Canadian ship, the horizon Arctic has arrived and has sent one of those remote vehicles. And it has arrived to the sea floor, which is important because it can now begin to look for that submersible. I mean, look, it is unnerving really to think about what they may be going through on that submersible right now.

Especially as those oxygen levels continue to dwindle having said that. Officials say, look, that oxygen level could last longer than it was predicted to last. And for that reason, they are searching that sea floor. And Max, the other thing to keep in mind is this is a mini submarine that is designed to when something goes wrong to actually float to the surface.

They are still holding out hope that even if it is not floated to the surface, now that it will eventually float to the surface, perhaps it is stuck. They just don't know. The point is this search and rescue has reached an unprecedented phase, given all the ships that are out there now as many as 10.

And the fact that there are now at least three salvage in terms of deep diving capability, ships that are out there that have that equipment on board now and that can begin that very crucial search as we've been saying, as much as 13,000 feet or more than two miles on the seafloor there, Max.

FOSTER: It is an incredible operation. Paula, thank you. Programming note for you CNN's Christiane Amanpour sat down with Former U.S. President Barack Obama for an exclusive interview that too met in Athens, the birthplace of democracy. And discussed a number of issues including the upcoming U.S. election, the war in Ukraine, and how to deal with autocratic leaders, take a preview.


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: President Biden, man who you know, extremely well, has made the defense of democracy the sort of centerpiece of his administration. It just so happens that right now, there's also not just, you know threats to democracy by dictatorships and autocrats, but also in liberal democracy as well.

He has called the President of China, a dictator, and they're sticking with it. He is also hosting as we speak, the Prime Minister of India Modi, who is considered autocratic or at least a liberal Democrat. What is the point, I guess? Or how should a President engage with those kinds of leaders, either in the naming of them or in the dealing with them?

BARACK OBAMA, 44TH U.S. PRESIDENT: Look, it's complicated. The President United States has a lot of equities. And when I was President, I would deal with figures, in some cases who were allies, who, you know, if you press me in private, do they run their governments and their political parties in ways that I would say are ideally democratic, I'd have to say, no.


OBAMA: No, of course not. But you have to do business with because they're important for national security reasons. So there are a range of economic interests. You know, I dealt with China, to get the Paris Accords done. I dealt with Modi to get the Paris Accords done, because I think climate change is something that transcends any particular momentary issues.

It's a problem that humanity has got to deal with over the next several decades in a serious way. I do think that it is appropriate for the President United States where he or she can to uphold those principles and to challenge whether behind closed doors or in public trends, that are troubling.


And so I'm less concerned about labels than I'm concerned about, you know specific practices. You know, I think it is important for the President United States to say that if you have Uyghurs in China, who are being placed in mass camps, and "re-educated". That's a problem. That's a challenge to all of us.

And we have to pay attention to it. I think it is true that if the President meets with Prime Minister Modi, then the protection of the Muslim minority in a majority Hindu India, that's something worth mentioning. And by the way, if I had a conversation with Prime Minister Modi, who I know well, part of my argument would be that if you do not protect the rights of ethnic minorities in India, then there is a strong possibility India at some point, starts pulling apart.

And we've seen what happens when you start getting those kinds of large internal conflicts. So that would be contrary to the interests not just a Muslim India, but also Hindu India. So I think it's important to be able to talk about these things, honestly, you're never going to have a things are never going to be as clean as you'd like, because the world is complicated.


FOSTER: Well Christiane joins us now live from Athens, you just done the interview. It sounds fascinating. On that point on Modi, just explain why there, he's a complicated person for Democrats in America?

AMANPOUR: Well, as the President laid out, basically, we know that there has been a really a uptick in oppression of the press in India, oppression of political opposition, oppression of religious as you just heard the Muslim minority. So that is very, very troubling.

Also, India has abstained or not voted positively on a lot of the U.N. votes that are there to condemn Russia for its illegal invasion on Ukraine. In addition, India has stepped up its import of Russian oil that comes by sea, and all of this is very troubling, certainly to the coalition that wants to see the Defense of Democratic Ukraine and punishing of autocratic Russia.

That's on the one side, as you know, in the United States, members of President Biden's own Democratic Party in Congress, some of them are pretty angry about this visit. But interestingly, on the other side on the right, there has been praised for Modi's invitation to the White House because they believe that the Biden Administration can try to get Modi onside to help them challenge.

And I guess peel away support from China, India support from China. So it's very much as the President said President Obama, an idea of national interests of stability of essentially real politic and this is where the Biden Administration finds itself right now.

FOSTER: Christiane, thank you. It is wide ranging interviews so don't miss it in full, the President's interview President Barack Obama that's airing on Thursday at 10 pm in New York again on Friday at 6 pm in London. As we mentioned, the White House is pulling out all the stops to welcome Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his first visit U.S. President Joe Biden and the First Lady hosted him for a private dinner on Wednesday night.

In the coming hours, he'll address Congress and hold a news conference with Mr. Biden something Indian officials initially resisted since Modi doesn't hold news conferences back home. Now the visit is not without controversy, as we've been hearing the group of Democrats is urging respond to bring up human rights concerns.

CNN's Arlette Saenz joins us from the White House. I mean, the whole point of these state visits is to bolster relations between two countries and is can be very difficult when you broach these sensitive issues.

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Max, President Biden is really navigating a fraught situation as he is trying to strengthen those ties with a country that the White House ultimately believes will be one of the lasting and deepening partnerships of the 21st century. That's the way that National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan has described it.

But it does come as Christiane outlined as even President Obama there outlined. It does come as there are serious human rights concerns, as well as concerns about this slide towards authoritarianism by Modi in India, but just as the Former President Obama pointed out.


Officials here at the White House ultimately believe that they do need to focus on trying to boost ties with India whose reach will have deep ramifications across the geopolitical landscape when you think of defense, technology and climate change. And there's the also those big questions about how they can potentially counter both Russia and China whose influence is growing in the region.

Now in just a short while, in about two hours, the President will begin hosting Modi here at the White House with that welcome ceremony and the day caps off with a lavish state dinner and ultimately, the White House believes that they have the reasoning for holding such a state visit for Modi, even as they're facing that criticism not just from human rights groups, but from some within their own party.

Now, there are expected to be some major announcements when it comes to the defense and technology world between President Biden and Indian Prime Minister Modi that includes India purchasing some drones as well as this agreement for GE to produce engines for Indian Aircraft in India.

But all eyes will likely be on that moment when the two leaders stand before the press to take questions at events that really had come through due to some delicate negotiations after Indian officials initially balked at the request. But many here in the U.S. and around the world will be watching especially since Modi very rarely takes questions from reporters.

FOSTER: OK, Arlette Saenz at the White House. Thank you so much. It'll be interesting to see that press conference. Moscow is blaming Kyiv for a strike on a strategic bridge, known as the gate to Crimea. A Russian installed official said the damage is forcing traffic to be temporarily rerouted.

The Chonhar Bridge connects occupied Crimea and Russian held parts of Ukraine's Southern Kherson region. So far no official comment from Kyiv, which has said it, wants to retake all of its occupied lands. Moscow annexed Crimea from Ukraine back in 2014. CNN's Ben Wedeman joins us live in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine. What have you learned about this, Ben?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, what we understand according to the head of the Russian occupied Kherson region, that four missiles were fired at this bridge early Thursday morning, and that one actually struck it, causing a large crater.

And as you said, all traffic is now being diverted from this bridge on the eastern side of the land area that connects Crimea with Kherson. Now, according to this official, they believe that what could have struck the bridge is one of these Storm Shadow missiles, a long range cruise missile.

It has about a range of more than 250 kilometers. This is a missile jointly developed by France and the U.K. And it was just last month that Britain announced that it would be supplying Ukraine with that missile. Now, as far as we can tell you the Ukrainians are being a bit mum about all of this.

CNN did contact someone with the intelligence service, who said that Ukraine will continue its security, its intelligence, its military and also local resistance to try to expel the Russians and bring Ukrainian control back to Crimea since it was occupied in 2014. But he said that beyond that their only comment is to be continued, Max.

FOSTER: OK, Ben Wedeman in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine. Thank you. Wall Street Journal Reporter accused of spying on Russia was back in a Moscow courtroom today. Evan Gershkovich was appealing the court order that allowed Russia to hold him in prison whilst he awaits trial his appeal was denied.

The U.S. says Gershkovich is a legitimate journalist not a spy in the U.S. Ambassador to Russia was in court today to attend the hearing. The Bank of England continues to wage war on inflation just a short while ago raised British interest rates for the 13th time in this latest inflation fights.

It was a surprise move actually the level of it the Central Bank hiked its key interest rate to 5 percent, the highest it's been since 2008. Still to come with the breathable air dwindling, we'll take a look at how much longer the search for the missing sub will continue and what might come next?



FOSTER: How long will the search for the Titan submersible continue. International crews have been racing against time to locate the tourist's sub that went missing on Sunday and the effort has now entered a critical stage. Experts fear oxygen inside the sub may be close to running out.

The submersible lost contact with a pilot ship whilst it was heading to the size of the Titanic wreck in a remote corner of the North Atlantic Ocean, the extent of a search operation is massive. Experts aren't sure what might have happened to the sub, and there are a range of possible mishaps that could have played out.

More than 20 years ago, journalist and author Michael Guillen was sent on assignment to the Titanic wreck. When his submersible got stuck, he spoke about the chances of survival of the five passengers earlier on CNN this morning.


MICHAEL GUILLEN, SCIENTIST AND JOURNALIST AND AUTHOR: They're hearing noises, but we can't tell what those noises are. And we're very close if not already past the point where they've run out of oxygen. So if they're not the ones making the noise inside, you know banging on the walls of the sub, which is what I would have done if they'd lost communications.

Noise travels very well in water much better than it does in the air and we've been listening for it. Then it might just be a piece of metal or part of the ship just banging pieces of metal just banging together. We may never know we may never recover this -- .


FOSTER: Join me now, Mike Welham, a Marine Operations Specialist and author. He joins me from Norwich, England. The point I think that guest was making was that there a current site now people aren't really aware of the bottom of the sea. It could have been swept away a very long distance, which is why he's saying we may never find it.

MIKE WELHAM, MARINE OPERATIONS SPECIALIST AND AUTHOR: Yes, I would agree with that. All the odds are stacked against the craft at the moment. It's depth of water, which is outreach of most vehicles and submarines that we could send down. You've got extreme cold, it is black, and there is no light down there.

And so you're relying on your ROV lights to illuminate the area you're going to search. And it is a massive area to search. Add to that, as you say the current and it could be anywhere if it's drifted away.

FOSTER: On the oxygen point, this is getting such headlines is academic, isn't? This deadline, we didn't know how much oxygen they use, we don't really know how much they had?

WELHAM: Yes, that's been my point as we've gone along with all these different interviews. There's no measure here or calculation as to what oxygen was on board that craft when it went into the water. The reaction of the people inside the vessel will affect the quantity and the way it used.

So I think that's academic you've either got oxygen or you haven't. If it has run out then that's so be it. If it's still there, then the search continues. And that's what they are doing is continuing search.

FOSTER: They are continuing to search and if the oxygen continues. It will run out at some point won't it? So when do they make very tough decisions about what whether or not continue to search or scale it down?


WELHAM: Well, I would imagine this is going to be down to a command structure, because this is a very expensive exercise. And quite rightly, it's you're looking to save lives. But at some point there we'll reach a point when they will make a decision and say, well, we've done what we can, and we're now going to pull back.

But I think we're a little away from that. Now, the American Coast Guard speaking earlier said they're going to carry on looking until they're told otherwise. And of course, we've got all this new equipment arriving in the area, we've got the Air Force, workforces dropping beacons and trying to listen for sounds, which they have found sounds.

But nobody can tell you yet what they are. And sound does travel underwater, and a long way. So it could be anything making a noise down there. And I wouldn't like to speculate on what or where? But they will obviously coordinate those soundings that they get, and then that will go into a specialist organization that will start to look and analyze that.

In the meantime, the ROV's, or anything that's capable of going down and searching will be deployed. And then of course, they've got the question then, once if they do find it, they can survey the outside of it with cameras, and we'll be able to see what condition the sub is in, if it's imploded, or it's in one piece.

They would go to the port with a camera and we might be able to see inside and see if there's anybody still available or looks still alive inside. And then they will make the decision on recovery. That's a hazard and a long drawn out job and complex job in its own right.

FOSTER: OK, Mike Welham, thank you so much for joining us with your insight today. Coming up Russian troops may be gone from one newly liberated village in Ukraine but artillery battles are continuing there. CNN's Ben Wedeman takes us inside Ukraine's counter offensive when we return.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) FOSTER: Western officials tell CNN that the early stages of Ukraine's counter offensive are having less success than expected and Russian forces are showing more competence than expected. Kyiv, meanwhile says is slow grinding offensive is achieving noticeable success in the South.

CNN's Ben Wedeman went to a recently liberated village in Southern Ukraine. They're still taking Russian artillery fire, but we have to warn you that some of the images you're about to see are graphic.


WEDEMAN (voice over): An unknown Russian soldier lost his life here on a dirt road in the small village of Neskuchne. He was killed in Ukraine's counter offensive which has, at best so far put a small dent in Russian lines, hardly the turning point so many had hoped for.

WEDEMAN (on camera): This is one of the villages that were liberated by the Ukrainians this one on the 10th of June. And clearly the Russians were in a hurry they left behind this blood soaked stretcher.


WEDEMAN (voice over): It's still too dangerous for civilians to return to these ones tranquil farming communities and there isn't much left for them to return too. The mortar crew of the 35th Ukrainian Marine Brigade has moved into a house recently vacated by Russian troops.

This afternoon, they're busy piling up newly arrived American made shells far better than the old Soviet ammunition says -- . They are amazing, they're just gravy says they hit the bulls eye my favorite. Throughout the day shelling echoes around them. The Russians may have left the village yet they're still by.

Mortar training in Britain didn't prepare him for the front. This is only his third day in the line of fire. There are moments when I want to hide he says but I have to stay put wait. Unit Commander Alexander takes coordinates from headquarters. His men make the adjustments and prepare the rounds.

WEDEMAN (on camera): They're firing these rounds in Russian lines which are four kilometers or two miles away.

WEDEMAN (voice over): It's going to be a long hot summer. Ben Wedeman, CNN on Ukraine's Southern Front.


FOSTER: Thank you for joining me here on CNN "Newsroom", I'm Max Foster in London. "World Sport" with Amanda Davis is up next.