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World Leaders to Convene in India for Annual Meeting; Ukrainian Drones Turn Up Pressure on Russia; Rescuers Rush to Save U.S. Man Trapped in Turkish Cave; Dozens Dead Following Cyclone in Southern Brazil; Hurricane Lee Now a Category 5, Gaining Strength; Microsoft: Chinese Operatives Use A.I. to Target U.S. Voters; Musk Biography Offers New Details on His Ukraine Dilemma; Actor Danny Masterson Sentenced for Two Rapes. Aired 12-12:45a ET

Aired September 08, 2023 - 00:00   ET


JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Ahead here on CNN NEWSROOM, no Putin, no Xi. The leaders of Russia and China skipped the annual G-20 summit in India. So much for this year's theme: one earth, one family, one future.


Medical emergency more than 3,000 feet below the surface of the earth. The latest on the incredible rescue to save an American researcher.

And warnings that Beijing is using artificial intelligence and the political equivalent of clickbait on social media to target U.S. voters.

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

VAUSE: Thank you for joining us this CNN NEWSROOM. We begin in New Delhi, where world leaders -- leaders of the world's biggest economies, rather -- will gather for the annual G-20 summit this weekend.

Among them is U.S. President Joe Biden, who plans to pitch the United States and the World Bank as an alternative to China for investment and funding. Also en route is Rishi Sunak. Downing Street described his visit as historic: the first British prime minister of Indian heritage to visit the country.

And just like last year, Russian President Vladimir Putin won't be attending. Apparently, his schedule is too busy. Most see his absence, though, as an attempt to avoid international scrutiny, or even possible arrest for his war in Ukraine, one of the biggest issues looming over the summit.

China's president, Xi Jinping's, last-minute decision to not go caused some surprise. When asked why, Beijing's foreign minister just declined to answer. For India's foreign minister, though, Xi's no-show is what it is.


points of time in G-20, there have been some presidential prime ministers who, for whatever reason, have chosen not to come themselves. But, you know, that country and that country's position is obviously reflected by whoever is the representative on that occasion.


VAUSE: Live now to New Delhi. CNN's Vedika Sud standing by for us. Vedika, even though Putin and Xi won't be there, China will be represented by Premier Li and Russia by Foreign Minister Lavrov.

Clearly, though, there will be no consensus when it comes to the war in Ukraine, but can this leaders' summit find common ground where other summits haven't on major issues like climate change, global debt, that kind of thing?

VEDIKA SUD, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think we'll only get to know by Sunday evening, local time, John, whether there will be a consensus on key issues like climate change, which is very high on the agenda, at least for the Indian government, with Narendra Modi and India hosting this summit, the rotating presidency with India this time.

But like you mentioned right at the top, you talked about the theme, the G-20 theme, which is "one earth, one family, one future." So will there be a consensus when there's talk of unity here? I doubt there will be, especially on issues like Ukraine or climate change.

There is a call, like there's always been, for the phasing down of fossil fuel usage, as well as increasing renewable energy and sourcing it. But that is going to be a key concern. You heard the G-20 shapers meeting over the last two days to actually finalize the primary details over the joint statement. Will there be one is the question at this point.

Because over Ukraine, of course, there are deep divisions between the countries present over the next two days here in India. You have the delegations coming in, but the divide has never been starker, according to experts.

So even though, for climate change, there will be divisions, there will be criticism, there will be arguments. And that's what the G-20 shapers are trying -- are trying to iron out. And have been trying to iron out over the last 48 hours.

Climate change being extremely, extremely crucial to this G-20 summit. High on the agenda, sustainable development, as well, as well as talks on global debt. So those three will be high on the agenda.

And Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be trying to steer clear of any controversies, any deep divisions overseas or deep divisions over Ukraine. And he will want to focus on these three key aspects, as he has mentioned in his interviews here in India, along with talking about the global South.

Back to you.

HOLMES: There is a lot of speculation about why China's president is, in fact, a no-show. Everything from the fact that he may -- may want to avoid tough questions about the economy back home in China, or maybe that he was unwilling to take part in a summit with India in the spotlight and China having to take a backseat.


So, how is his absence being seen there in the capital?

SUD: Well, as far as the Indian government is concerned, John, you just heard S. Jaishankar. He's the first (ph) minister of India. They've been downplaying any reason to worry or express concern over the absence of the Chinese leader.

But of course, experts say that this will be a loss to the summit, clearly, with him not being there.

But what could be a loss for the summit could be a gain for Narendra Modi and the Indian government, because then that really helps in focusing on key other issues.

We don't know why the Chinese leader isn't coming at this point, but according to experts, it could also be a message that the Chinese leader is sending out to the G-20 summit, to India, to Biden that he'd rather be a part of the anti-West blocks then be a part of the G-20 summit. He'd rather be a part of BRICS. He'd rather be a part of the SCO, than be present tomorrow and the day after at the G-20 summit, sitting across the table with Joe Biden, with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the other leaders who will be converging over the next few days here in New Delhi.

VAUSE: Vedika, thank you. Vedika Sud, live for us there in New Delhi. We'll be talking to you the next few days quite a bit, I imagine. Thank you.

Ukraine's counteroffensive continues to make small incremental gains in the South, according to government officials. Notably taking multiple Russian positions Northeast of the city of Tokmak, a key Russian logistics hub.

Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken heard firsthand from those who survived being imprisoned and tortured by Russian soldiers. The atrocities took place in a school North of Kyiv in a small village whilst under Russian occupation during the early days of the war.

Blinken's visit there came a day after a deadly Russian missile strike on an open market in Eastern Ukraine.


ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Now, what happened here happened at the beginning of the Russian aggression. But the atrocities and the impact it's having on Ukrainians of all ages continue to this very day. Just yesterday, we saw the bombing of a market. Seventeen people or more killed. Many other injuries. A market. For what? This is what Ukrainians are living with every day.


VAUSE: Russia claims two Ukrainian drones were intercepted Thursday over the Southwestern Bryansk region. And the Ukrainian drones apparently targeted multiple locations across Russia.

CNN's Melissa Bell has our report.


MELISSA BELL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The sound of war. Only not in Ukraine this time. It's increasingly common in Russia now, too.

Emergency workers arrive quickly on the scene, less than a kilometer from Russia's Southern military headquarters. This war is now being brought most days to the civilians of the country that started it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): A window frame fell out. The glass shattered. I stood up and started cleaning up. What else could I do?

BELL (voice-over): And beyond the two drones that targeted Rustov-on- Don in the early hours of Thursday, a third was intercepted on its way to Moscow, according to the city's mayor.

"The people are suffering because of Russia's special military operation in Ukraine," says one resident. "Let Putin come here and see what is going on," she urges.

For civilians in Ukraine, meanwhile, the war is all too familiar. A Russian drone attack in the Odessa region killed one on Wednesday as Russians targeted agriculture infrastructure and port facilities for the fourth day in a row.

The attacks now pushing the war dangerously Westwards with what maybe Russian drone debris found this week on the soil of NATO member Romania, just across the border from the Odessa region.

GABI POPESCU, ROMANIAN RESIDENT (through translator): I don't feel safe here. I'm on the Romanian shore, and I do not feel safe.

DANIELA TANASE, ROMANIAN RESIDENT (through translator): We got used to the sirens. During the day, we ignore them. But our souls tense up when they ring at night.

BELL (voice-over): The sound of sirens and the fallout of this war spreading ever more widely, even as they become routine.

Melissa Bell, CNN, Kyiv.


VAUSE: South Korea's playing down any threat from North Korea's new so-called nuclear attack submarine, saying it is not capable of normal operations.

Pyongyang made that announcement just days before the country marks its 75th anniversary.

North Korean state media says Kim Jong-un attended the launch ceremony Wednesday, quoting him saying that the shipbuilding industry there is a top priority task.


The announcement comes after Pyongyang said it simulated a nuclear missile attack over the weekend to warn the U.S. of nuclear war danger. The simulation came in response to the U.S. and South Korea holding joint live-fire exercises in recent weeks.

We're now hearing from 3,000 feet below the surface, from an American man who's been trapped for days inside one of Turkey's deepest caves. Instructor (ph) Mark Dickey was taking part in a research mission when he suffered gastrointestinal bleeding. He's been under observation at base camp, where he received some units of blood and is now upright, alert, and talking.


MARK DICKEY, RESEARCHER TRAPPED IN CAVE: I'm Mark Dickey from nearly 1,000 meters. I want to thank everyone that's down here, and thank the response of the caving community. The caving world is a really tight- knit group, and it's amazing to see how many people have responded on the surface.


VAUSE: But he will still need several days to heal. He not yet strong enough to make the journey up. He did add that he's grateful the Turkish government acted quickly to get medical supplies which saved his life.

But it could still take many days for him to get out of the cave known as the Morca Sinkhole. CNN's Eleni Giokos picks up the story.


ELENI GIOKOS, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR/CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's an operation that has brought 150 rescuers from across the globe to here, the Morca Sinkhole, Turkey's third deepest cave, to help evacuate a caver who fell ill on a research expedition.

Forty-year-old U.S. National Mark Dickey is an experienced caver and instructor at the National Cave Rescue Commission. These photos, posted on his Facebook page just last month.

The Turkish Caving Federation says Dickey fell ill more than 3,600 feet into the cave. He's currently at base camp, Camp Hope. Rescuers say he suffered gastrointestinal bleeding and has had six liters of blood delivered to him. TURGAY GONULALAN, GEOPHYSICAL ENGINEER (through translator): We

contacted the necessary people. The doctors gave medicine that was taken down to the cave. His treatment has started, and I'm positive our friend will set out on his own after getting stronger in a few days.

GIOKOS (voice-over): Dickey is now said to be stable, and according to the Turkish Caving Federation, can walk on his own.

But experts say getting to the surface could take 15 hours for an experienced caver in ideal conditions. And some say the rescue could take days.

Eleni Giokos, CNN, Dubai.


VAUSE: With us now, live from Budapest is Dr. Denes Nagy, with the Hungarian Cave Rescue Service. The doctor has been advising rescuers throughout this medical emergency pretty much from the very beginning. So thank you for being with us.


VAUSE: So I want you to listen to a little more from Mark in this message which he sent to the surface. He seems to be and relatively good health. Here he is. Listen to this.


DICKEY: I look forward to working with everyone to safely get myself out with their assistance. As you can see, I'm up, I'm alert, I'm talking, but I'm not healed on the inside yet. So I'm going to need a lot of help to get out of here.


VAUSE: So what do you know at this point about his precise medical condition? And what is preventing him, I guess, from a medical point of view from making then journey back to the surface?

NAGY: Yes, so originally his condition was critical. He needed intensive care intervention, which she got, so his condition improved. He now appears to be stable, but there is -- there is a risk that the bleeding continues, and he gets weak again. And so we're definitely not out of the woods yet.

VAUSE: So why do conditions like that, far below the surface. Clearly, it's cold, because you can seem his breath condensating. Aside from the medical issues that he's facing, are there any risks for him and the rescue team if they need to stay down there for an extended period of time while he regains his strength?

NAGY: So, staying down there is at this point not really a problem, because -- because we are experienced cavers, and we do camp underground for an extended period of time, sometimes a period for even months.

But, it is cold there. It's about five degrees centigrade, and the humidity is also 100 percent relative humidity. So, it's cold. It's -- it's humid, and it's a really unwelcoming environment.

Thankfully, there was no rain for the past week in Turkey, but if a rainstorm would come in, then we would need to account for possible floods in the cave. So it's definitely not optimal to stay down there and wait for his condition to improve.


On the surface, his condition would be solved with a gastroscopy in the hospital, but this is obviously not possible 1,000 meters deep. So we are doing everything else that we can do at the moment.

VAUSE: What was he actually doing down there in the first place? We know he was on a research expedition. What were the researching?

NAGY: They were exploring the cave. This is a -- this is a virgin cave, and there are new passages. They -- they look for continuation of the cave. They are mapping the cave. They are -- they are searching for new ways to go.

This is an important task, because these caves are contributing to the -- to the water supply nearby these caves as an important part of the ecosystem. So they are doing important work. But, sometimes, emergencies happen.

VAUSE: And you being involved in this rescue pretty much from the beginning. It's had some unique challenges, like you needed to find a doctor who was relatively close by, who is also experienced in caving, and able to actually reach Mark that far down. What have been the other unique challenges you faced?

NAGY: Yes. So the main thing is that getting to that depth is not trivial. It's -- it's a really long and difficult trip, even for experienced cavers. Many of the experienced cavers have not been to this depth.

So, finding a team who can go down there and reach Mark was -- was difficult, because we don't want the rescuers to be the ones who need to be rescued eventually. So, that was the first obstacle.

And in the meantime, you also had this problem of getting the information from thousand meters takes somebody to come out of the cave, and it is a 12-hour trip. And then getting there to the cave is also flying in and going up to the cave, it takes almost a day.

So, we have a huge delay on when we get the information, and then we can act to it. Even if everything goes smoothly, even if everybody is on our side, it still has about 24-hour delay until we can act. So we do need to anticipate what's happening down there. We can account for that. And -- and sending all the resources which might be necessary in advance so we are not behind by this -- this amount of time.

VAUSE: Dr. Denis Nagy in Budapest, thank you for your time. And good luck. Hope everything works out.

NAGY: Thank you.

VAUSE: We'll take a short break. When we come back, the death toll continues to rise after a cyclone strikes Southern Brazil. In a moment, we'll look at the communities hit hardest by the storm and the devastating flooding which followed.

Also ahead, Hurricane Lee gaining strength in the Atlantic. We'll have the latest on where that storm is heading in a moment.



VAUSE: Hong Kong is under a black rainstorm warning as torrential rain and flooding hit the city. The advisory means heavy rains exceeding 70 millimeters an hour can be expected.

Hong Kong's government has issued a shelter-in-place warning. Schools and businesses across the city are closed. Morning trading in Hong Kong Stock Exchange was canceled. Some parts of the city have already seen nearly 500 millimeters of rain in the past 24 hours.

In Southern Brazil, nearly 40 people are dead in the aftermath of a cyclone, which tore through communities in Rio Grande do Sol state, this week causing severe floods. Several people remain unaccounted for. More than 3,500 have been forced to leave their homes.

Stefano Pozzebon takes up the story.


STEFANO POZZEBON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From the air, images simply show thousands of buildings destroyed by the force of the elements.

But on the ground, behind every house, there is a story.

Domingus Ratana (ph) can only recover old wedding photos that survived in what used to be his home, wiped out by the worst natural disaster hitting this region in four decades.

"The water was higher than this," says Ratana (ph), who had to run for his life when the flood rushed over his village one night earlier this week.

Others were not as lucky. Brazilian authorities saying more than three dozen people have died, thousands displaced. The local government has declared a state of emergency for 180 days.

In some cases, firefighters used boats to rescue people from their homes, with corridors turned rivers by the rising water. According to local meteorologists, the state received in a week the amount of rain it normally gets in a month.

But this week's cyclone follows a pattern of extreme weather events throughout this year.

EDUARDO LEITE, GOVERNOR OF RIO GRANDE DO SUL, BRAZIL (through translator): It's been such a tough year for us. At the beginning of the year, we lost 40 percent of our harvest because of droughts, because of lack of water. And now, we have the opposite problem.

POZZEBON (voice-over): The Brazilian National Institute for Meteorology forecasts more rain for the rest of the week. Temperatures worldwide have been hitting record highs in 2023, and climatologists are blooming the warmer climate in the Southern Atlantic ocean for this type of natural disaster.

The very concrete consequence of a hotter planet.

Stefano Pozzebon, CNN, Bogota.


VAUSE: Greece continues to struggle with some severe flooding and some very severe weather. So far at least six people have been killed since the rains began earlier this week. There have been more than 100 rescues in one week alone.

The rainstorms ripped apart buildings and bridges, left some villages completely submerged. Floodwaters in other parts of the country have been more than two meters deep.

One government spokesperson says the region where Athens is located, the capital, received nearly three times the average annual rainfall in 12 hours.

And in the past hour, Hurricane Lee was upgraded to a Category 5, and it churns in the record warm waters of the Atlantic. Winds are now at 260 kilometers per hour and forecast to get even stronger.

The National Hurricane Center says dangerous, life-threatening surf and rip current conditions are expected in the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and other islands this coming weekend.

It could begin to effect the U.S. East Coast by Sunday. CNN's Chad Myers has more on where the storm may be heading.


CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Hurricane Lee, a very impressive major hurricane in the Atlantic ocean right now and getting stronger.

It's in very warm water. The eye is very clear there on the last couple of frames, which means that the storm is likely even getting stronger at this hour. Hurricane hunters have been flying back and forth to see how strong the storm is.

And still moving towards the Northwest. But the models are really turning this hard to the right at the very, very end of that five-day period. Turning it hard. This is the American model. All the ensembles of the American model turning it hard to the right. Now when does the turn happen? That's always a question. Does it

happen 12 hours early and turn here, with this line? Or does it turn 12 hours later and turn over here? It's a big, big story for the Northeastern part of the United States, and even into Atlantic Canada.

Where the storm is right now is 3 to 5 degrees Fahrenheit, 2 to 3 degrees Celsius above normal. But look at this blue area here. There was a hurricane here last week, Hurricane Franklin. Also, a major hurricane. And it mixed the water up. It took that warm water from the surface and used it to make the hurricane, and then mixed water from down below, the colder water, up to the surface.

So Lee has to run through and into this colder water. That may slow it down just a touch. At least that's what everyone is hoping for.



VAUSE: Our thanks to Chad Myers for the very latest there.

We'll take a short break, but when we come back, forget about Russia. Microsoft issues a warning that Chinese operatives are using A.I. and social media to try and influence U.S. voters. More on that in a moment.


VAUSE: Welcome back, everyone. I'm John Vause. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM.

Suspected Chinese operatives are using images made by artificial intelligence to spread disinformation to American voters and fan the flames of divisive issues ahead of the 2024 U.S. election. That's according to Microsoft, which shared this example.

The company says the operatives are affiliated with the Chinese Communist Party, and they're focused on, quote, "denigrating U.S. political figures and -- figures, rather, and symbols.

Another image from the foreign influence campaign uses the "Black Lives Matter" movement. Microsoft says the images are generated by a computer, and they work like clickbait, with many reposting them on social media.

Eric Noonan is the CEO of CyberSheath; joins me now live. Eric, good to see you. Thanks for your time.


VAUSE: So here's part of the warning which was issued by Microsoft. Quote, "We can expect China to continue to hone this technology over time and improve its accuracy, though it remains to be seen how and when it will be deployed at scale."

So, whatever it is that Beijing is doing right now, is it in the early stages? Is this sort of the equivalent of probing defensive lines, finding vulnerabilities, working out what works, what doesn't?

NOONAN: John, I think that's a -- that's a good way to characterize it. I'd go one step further, and to say it's really honing their capabilities. So China, I think everybody understands, is a very worthy adversary in cyber operations today.

But they haven't traditionally been a significant adversary in the disinformation or information operations domain. So we think information operations, everybody immediately probably thinks to Russia and the 2016 presidential elections.

and China hasn't had that level of capability here. So what we're seeing here is China effectively developing yet another tool, or an already impressive cyber arsenal. And -- and we should expect that they will master this domain of cyber, as they have espionage in other areas of cyber.

VAUSE: Yes, you mention Russia and election interference, which goes together like peanut butter and jelly. But that has always depended on human workers trolling at a keyboard. reports that A.I. algorithms developed in recent years could potentially mass-produce text, imagery, and video designed to deceive or persuade or even carry out convincing interactions with people on social media platforms. And it can be done for a few hundred bucks.


So is China, you know, really at this point, potentially at least -- you know, it has the turn -- it has the capability of moving way beyond Russia in both capability and scope?

NOONAN: Certainly, there's the potential. And you mentioned artificial intelligence, and that's one of the great concerns here. So cost isn't typically a concern for -- for nation states like China when it comes to cyber operations.

But the ability, what artificial intelligence really gives them is the ability to scale these campaigns, globally, in multiple languages simultaneously. And that's a -- that's a significant problem and a significant threat.

Now, the flip side to that is cost is always a concern for defenders, right? So whether it's government agencies, or private corporations, cost, there are limits to how we can defend ourselves.

Artificial intelligence gives us a wonderful ability to better level the playing field for defenders. So it actually works both ways in that regard.

VAUSE: When it comes to A.I. fake election ads in the United States, look no further than the Republican Party. Here's part of their video response to President Biden announcing earlier this year that he was running for a second term. This ad is fake. Here's part of it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This morning, an emboldened China invades Taiwan.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Financial markets are in freefall as 500 regional banks have shuttered their doors.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Border agents were overrun by a surge of 80,000 illegals yesterday.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Officials closed the city of San Francisco this morning, citing the escalating crime and fentanyl crisis.

Who's in charge here?


VAUSE: It's pretty slick. It was really well done, but it doesn't take a Rhodes scholar to work out that it's fake. So, you know, where's the bigger threat here to U.S. democracy? Is it domestically? Is it from China? Is it from Russia? Or a combination of all of them?

NOONAN: Well, I think what's important to remember here, John, is that it's the same adversaries. It doesn't change the playing field. Right? So be it Russia, China, Iran, all of our traditional adversaries in that regard. Whether it's to the United States, or our allies, it just adds a new capability.

So I think the ranking is maybe not as important as the fact is that we need to get ahead of this capability and look for ways that we can collectively come together and set better rules of the road, relative to maybe a Geneva Convention type agreement globally, where we could put things like critical infrastructure, like hospitals, and utilities, and water treatment plants and things like that off limits. So that we have some kind of rules of the road, relative to cyber operations.

I think that's what's important. I think there's an opportunity to do that.

VAUSE: As far as the United States is concerned and its cyber capabilities, are they doing something similar that the Chinese and the Russians are doing?

NOONAN: Well, I think one of the things that -- that -- and it's a great point, John, that often doesn't get mentioned -- is the fact that the United States has a tremendous cyber capability. And -- and we have to sleep comfortably at night, knowing that our military and our government agencies are able to leverage that capability.

And we've -- we've definitely, I think, benefited from those capabilities globally. And while we don't hear about the successes, that's the nature of -- of how these things work.

So I think that, you know, Americans and our allies should know and rest easy, knowing that we have an incredible capability that we leverage and defend for where appropriate.

VAUSE: Eric, great to have you with us. Really appreciate your insights. Eric Noonan there. Thank you so much, sir.

NOONAN: Thank you, John.

VAUSE: Well, a new biography about Elon Musk has fresh insights about his discomfort over Ukraine using his Starlink satellite communications network for military purposes and the lengths he went to try and deter them.

CNN's Natasha Bertrand has details.


NATASHA BERTRAND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: A new excerpt written by biographer Walter Isaacson, who wrote a book about Elon Musk's life that was obtained by CNN, says that Elon Musk actually told his engineers to turn off the Starlink satellite communication systems off the coast of Crimea last year when it became clear to him that the Ukrainians were going to try to launch a sneak attack on Russian naval forces off the coast of Crimea.

He essentially wanted to deter them from being able to launch this kind of offensive operation.

Now this excerpt, which was obtained by CNN, it really underscores just how ambivalent Elon Musk has been about Starlink's role in the war in Ukraine. He apparently felt as though, if the Ukrainians were going to attack Crimea, and attack Russian naval forces there, then the Russians would, in turn, respond with nuclear weapons. And according to this biography, Elon Musk worried that it would become a, quote, "mini Pearl Harbor."

But, Musk also had larger reservations about Starlink's use in a conflict at all. And he told the biographer, Walter Isaacson, that he believed that Starlink was meant to be used for more benign purposes like Netflix, and just general Internet connectivity for people who wanted to use it for, quote, "good purposes."


Now of course, this all sparked quite a bit of alarm back in Washington, where U.S. officials actually spoke with Musk, including the national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, as well as the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, Mark Milley, about Starlink's role on the battlefield.

Ukrainian officials also begged Elon Musk to turn the systems back on, because they are so critical for the Ukrainians to be able to continue communicating with each other on the battlefield.

Ultimately, Musk did not relent in that instance to turn back on those systems that he shut off, off the coast of Crimea. But, the Ukrainians have been able to continue using Starlink to continue communicating on the battlefield over the last year because many, if not all, of those systems have remained on.

And that is in large part due to the fact that the Pentagon has begun contracting with Starlink to provide those services to the Ukrainians.

So for now, the Ukrainians still have access to the service, but really all of this just underscores just how susceptible and vulnerable the U.S. government and the Ukrainian government are to the whims of a very unpredictable billionaire.

Natasha Bertrand, CNN, Washington.


VAUSE: When we come back here on CNN, actor Danny Masterson could be facing some very serious jail time after being sentenced for raping two women years ago. Details next.


VAUSE: An incredible fall from grace for what was once a promising Hollywood career. Actor Danny Masterson, best known for his role in "That '70s Show," was sentenced to 30 years to life in prison Thursday for raping two women, the maximum penalty the court could impose. Stephanie Elam has details.


STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Danny Masterson was sentenced to 15 years for each count of rape that he was found guilty of in May. So that is expected to be served consecutively, according to the judge. So 30 years to life for Masterson. And really, a huge part of this because of the two named victims that came forward and also spoke in court.

In fact, take a listen to the assistant district attorney, Reinhold Mueller, speak a bit about this.

REINHOLD MUELLER, ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY: I'm very happy for the victims, because this is the day that they've been looking forward to. And they got their justice, which was a long time coming. That's first and foremost. But also being very thankful for the jury to come to kind of see through everything and recognize what the evidence is and that this defendant needed to be held accountable.

ELAM: Now, Masterson had pled not guilty to raping these women in his home in incidents between 2001 and 2003. His lawyer, Shawn Holley, also spoke after sentencing, and this is what she had to say.


SHAWN HOLLEY, ATTORNEY FOR DANNY MASTERSON: Mr. Masterson did not commit the crimes for which he has been convicted. And we and the appellate lawyers, who are the best and the brightest in the country, are confident that these convictions will be overturned.

ELAM: Now the assistant district attorney Mueller did say that they have no intention of going back and re-prosecuting that third rape charge against Masterson, which the jury was deadlocked on. He says that they're satisfied with these two counts and are moving forward with that.

It's also worth noting that Danny Masterson is a well-known Scientologist, and the Church of Scientology was invoked in this trial and what role they may have played in this case.

However, we reached back out to the church, and they referred us back to the statement that they originally sent out on May 31st of this year, which says in part, "There is not a scintilla of evidence supporting the scandalous allegations that the Church harassed the accusers. Every single instance of supposed harassment by the Church is false and has been debunked."

Stephanie Elam, CNN, Los Angeles.


VAUSE: Britain's royal family has marked the first anniversary of the death of her late Majesty, Queen Elizabeth. Her son and heir, King Charles III, issued a message reflecting on the devoted service of his mother.


KING CHARLES III, UNITED KINGDOM: In marking the first anniversary of Her late Majesty's death and my Accession, we recall with great affection her long life, devoted service, and all she meant to so many of us. I am deeply grateful, too, for the love and support that has been shown to my wife and myself during this year as we do our utmost to be of service to you all.


VAUSE: Britain's prime minister, Rishi Sunak, also paid tribute. Quote, "With the perspective of a year, the scale of Her late Majesty's service only seems greater. Her devotion to the nations of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth only seems deeper."

He goes on to say, "And our gratitude for such an extraordinary life of duty and dedication only continues to grow."

I'm John Vause. Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. WORLD SPORT starts after a very short break. And Michael Holmes, my friend and colleague, will be at the top of the hour with more CNN NEWSROOM. See you right back here next week. Have a good weekend.