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Kim Jong Un Continues Tour Of Russia, More Than 2,000 Evacuated In Ukraine's Kupiansk District, Catastrophic Crisis Unfolding In Libya, Stuck Cruise Ship In Greenland Has 3 COVID-19 Cases Aboard, Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired September 14, 2023 - 08:00   ET




MAX FOSTER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hello, welcome to CNN Newsroom. I'm Max Foster in London just ahead; deep concerns of the international community that Russia and North Korea struck an arms deal. The latest on what you need to know. Ukraine steps up, strikes in occupied Crimea, forcing Russia to temporarily close a key Bridge, details coming up. And a luxury cruise ship runs aground in Greenland. There are at least three cases of COVID on board. We will bring you the latest.

As Kim Jong Un's closely watch trip to Russia continues, International Concern is growing about the ramifications. The North Korean leader met with Vladimir Putin for five hours on Wednesday to discuss a closer Military relationship and that's got the West worried. In fact South Korea suggests North Korean weapons are already being used by Russia in Ukraine.

Meanwhile, North Korean state media reports Vladimir Putin has accepted an invitation to visit Kim Jong Un in Pyongyang at a time that's convenient. Up next for Kim according to President Putin and Russian state media, he'll visit the key Military and civilian sites you'll see here and observe Russia's Pacific Fleet. Paula Hancocks joins us now from Seoul with the very latest. I mean, what we should point out is these are great privileges, real honors that are being rolled out for Kim Jong Un.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right, Max. I mean, certainly, there's a certain amount of knowledge and Military knowledge that is likely to be shared just by being able to go to some of these facilities. Of course, the question is, what does Russia get in return and the overwhelming opinion among U.S. officials is that the North Koreans will be providing ammunition and small arms, for example, to be used in the war on Ukraine.

In fact, the presidential office and official within the office just today saying that they believe that certain kinds of weapons provided by North Korea have already been used by Russia in the Ukraine battlefield. So the South Korean Unification Minister is saying that he has deep concerns about the potential Military drill deal that may have been decided upon. And of course, there were no press conferences. There was no document no communique. We don't know exactly what the two leaders did decide on but there are concerns in the West. Certainly here in the region with Seoul and Tokyo as well.

Now we do know from both the Russian and the North Korean side that Kim Jong Un has offered an invitation for Vladimir Putin to visit Pyongyang and that has been, quote "happily accepted". It was the year 2000. The last time a Russian President went to Pyongyang. Again, it was Vladimir Putin, who met Kim Jong Un's father, Kim Jong Il. So 23 years since the last meeting, and we have heard from the Kremlin that the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will be going to Pyongyang in October.

So what we're seeing at the moment is not the end of this. It is just the start potentially, of a much closer alliance and we are expecting that working level meeting to happen in October potentially to lay the groundwork for Putin to head to Pyongyang. Max.

FOSTER : Absolutely. That's going to be fascinating. Paula Hancocks in Seoul. Thank you. Belarus-Russian President Alexander Lukashenko said to hold talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Russia on Friday according to state media. This as the European Parliament calls Lukashenko, an accomplice in war crimes committed by Russia in Ukraine. In a resolution adopted on Wednesday, it says Belarus-Russian leadership should also be investigated and prosecuted along with the Russian leadership.

Now it's the war itself and Ukraine says more than 2000 people have been evacuated from the Kupiansk district in the country's east. Officials say the situation on the front lines there remains difficult and Russia could intensify its assault operations in that region. To the south, Ukraine says it destroyed a Russian air defense system in occupied Crimea in an overnight attack, while Russia says air defenses shut down 11 Ukrainian drones over Crimea earlier today. CNN's Melissa Bell joins us now from the Ukrainian capital with the latest update. Melissa?

MELISSA BELL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Max, as you mentioned, of course, that frontline continues to be extremely costly for the civilians living along it from Kupiansk right down towards the south in the Zaporizhzhia region. But the most interesting developments of the last few days are definitely what's been happening over in Crimea.

The attacks on the part of Ukrainians on the peninsula we've seen over the course of the week, the latest these drone attacks overnight, foiled us as Russia by its air defense systems, and yet on the Ukrainian part and this is something they've claimed responsibility for a successful overnight attack on a Russian air defense system that was inside Russian occupied Crimea.


We're also hearing from the Russian side, that they have successfully foiled attacks by unmanned sea drones as well in the Black Sea. We understand that the Kerch bridge that links of course, the Russian mainland to the Crimean peninsula is closed has been closed for part of the morning to traffic with no details specifically, of exactly what caused that closure, but certainly a lot of activity around it in the Black Sea and around the Crimean peninsula.

This is one that we've seen over the course of the last few days, very ambitious attacks by Ukraine a couple of nights ago that involve 11 cruise missiles, overnight these drone attacks. And again, this targeting of Russia's infrastructure, it had been a shipyard next to Sebastopol, overnight, that air defense system. This is really again, about Ukraine not just showing that it can strike where it intends for this war to end which is the Crimean peninsula, but also very symbolically hitting Russia and trying to show that it intends to regain control as soon as it can, Max.

FOSTER: And Melissa in Kyiv. Thank you. Now to the grim and disturbing scene in the Libyan city of Derna as bodies pile up on the streets. Authorities say they are simply unable to bury all the victims and devastating flooding caused by a powerful storm system and the collapse of two dams. The country's rival governments are providing differing death tolls, ranging from 5,300 to more than 6,000 people with 10,000 others still missing. Hospitals are overwhelmed and morgues are overflowing.

The damage is so severe that getting aid to certain areas is nearly impossible. CNN's Senior International Correspondent, Ben Wedeman is monitoring the situation from Rome. A lot has been -- you know a lot of people suggesting that aid isn't getting through because there's so much damage, which is true. But there's also this political situation which is making things very difficult indeed.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you have two rival governments, one based in Tripoli, and the other based in Benghazi. And they've been at war with one another for quite some time. Even though it appears at the moment they have put aside some of their differences to try to deal with this unprecedented catastrophe.

But nonetheless, we're seeing it for instance, Algeria, which supports the government in Tripoli, has sent aid to Libya -- Libya, but it sent that aid to Tripoli, which is more than 1300 kilometers away from Derna now where the which is the epicenter of this disaster. So, this has made things more difficult.

And in fact, the head of the World Meteorological Organization said that perhaps the death toll, the level of death could have been avoided if the Libyan governments had not been so taken up by their conflict, that basically, the meteorological service which should have provided warning to the people is basically not functioning and that there was no emergency plan in place, no evacuation warning or order was issued, because these governments simply are non-functional in sort of the way that one might expect.

Now, we understand the situation on the ground in Derna remains very difficult with hundreds, perhaps thousands of bodies in the streets, waiting to be identified and then buried. But because there's very little in the way of electricity, there's the danger of an outbreak of disease. Now, help is on the way. Saudi Arabia, for instance, announced that it was going to be sending shelter and food. The International Committee of the Red Cross is also sending relief supplies. France is sending first responders, a ship left to the Italian port of Brindisi today and the Thai navy ship with emergency supplies as well. Now the Libyan Port Authority has announced that port of Derna can now receive chips as well. So at least perhaps some aid will start arriving in a substantial way. But it may be some time before we actually know the death toll given that there are still body's been basically washing up on shore in Derna. Max.

FOSTER: Ben, thank you. Three passengers on board a cruise ship that ran aground off the coast of Greenland have tested positive for COVID- 19 and are now in isolation. The luxury cruise ship carrying more than 200 passengers ran aground on Monday in attempts to free the vessel. Having succeeded a Danish naval vessel is enroute to assist and it is expected to arrive on Friday. But despite the situation and the COVID cases, morale on board is set to be high.



LIS, CRUISE SHIP PASSENGER: And she was very excited. We were sort of standing on our balcony, because we've just taken off from the Glazier. And we sort of realized very, very quickly that we were about to get stuck in the mud. There's been several attempts today to try and drag us sideways, backwards, whichever way to, you know, free the ship from the mud. That's been unsuccessful. So tomorrow morning, apparently, they're going to have another go when the tide is higher and more favorable. But we do seem fairly stuck in the mud.


FOSTER: Literally. We've heard warnings about climate change and how humans are harming our planet in the past, but dozens of scientists from eight different countries are putting things in a more stark light with their new warning. They say the earth should or could soon no longer be a safe, livable planet for humans. About a decade ago, they outline nine boundaries that should not be crossed for our planet to remain stable.

They now say we've crossed six of those boundaries already. Still to come, U.S. Senator Mitt Romney says he's leaving politics because he's too old. Find out who he wants to -- wants to take with him after the break.


FOSTER: U.S. President Joe Biden weighing in on Republican efforts to impeach him. Speaking at a private fundraiser on Wednesday, Mr. Biden said "I don't know quite why but they just knew they wanted to impeach me. Now best I can tell they want to impeach me because they want to shut down the government. Republicans in the House need to pass spending bills by the end of the month or the government will shut down."

Hard right lawmakers have thus far refused to support those bills, while also pushing hard to impeach Biden. Let's bring in CNN's Lauren Fox on Capitol Hill with more. It does seem when you look at the numbers, the chances of an impeachment seem very low?

LAUREN FOX, CNN INTERNATIONAL CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean, one of the questions obviously is what direct evidence is there right now tying President Biden directly to his son Hunter Biden's business dealings. And many Republicans are acknowledging that that evidence does not exist right now.

That is why a meeting that is unfolding in the Capitol just a few feet away from here is so critical this morning because it's an opportunity for the Republican chairman who are leading this investigation to walk their members through why an impeachment inquiry was such an important next step, where they're going in their investigation and what they hope to find. But there are still so many things that Republicans are going to have to decide on when it comes to this impeachment inquiry.

One of them is just who to ask to testify as part of their impeachment inquiry, what information they still need to get, when and how quickly to subpoena or ask for bank records of either the President or his son. These are all questions that are looming large and there's going to be a difference of opinion. [08:15:00]

From some conservatives who are arguing that this should move as expeditiously as possible and others who have more perhaps experience in these investigations who say it's really important to go slowly and methodically. Now, yesterday, Jim Jordan, who is one of the chairmen leading this impeachment inquiry, he went over to the Republican Senate lunch and try to walk some skeptical Republican members through the theory of their case and also walk them through where they're going next.

But I was told from Kevin Kramer, a Republican senator from North Dakota, that there was some pushback and some questions about what the evidence was at this point. So there's a question about how quickly this is going to move and who and how targeted this is going to be and those are all things that are going to be under much more of a spotlight now, Max, given the fact that this is now an official impeachment inquiry.

FOSTER: OK, Lauren, thank you. U.S. Republican senator, former presidential nominee Mitt Romney suggests both President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump should stand aside and make space for a new generation of leaders. Romney, who is 76, said American is leaders who can make decisions shaping the world that they will be living in. With that in mind, he says he won't be seeking reelection next year.


SEN. MITT ROMNEY (R-UT): I considered my age and the fact that at the end of the second term, I would be in my mid-80's. And I think it's time for guys like me to get out of the way and have people the next generation step forward.

(END VIDEO CLIP) FOSTER: Well, this comes at a time when the age of prominent US politicians on both sides of the aisle is under increasing scrutiny. The latest CNN polling shows that the majority of American people are seriously concerned about President Biden's age and how that might affect his ability to serve another term, you might remember a Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley, calling for mental competency tests for politicians over the age of 75.


NIKKI HALEY, U.S. REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Our enemy think that the American era has passed. They're wrong. America is not past our prime. It's just that our politicians are past theirs. We will have term limits for Congress.


And mandatory mental competency tests for politicians over 75 years old.


FOSTER: And that will include former U.S. President Donald Trump, the current front runner in the GOP race, he's 77 years old. To discuss let's bring in CNN Senior Political Analyst John Avlon, he was in New York. I don't know what your view is of this, John, but you know, when you're looking from the outside, they do look very old, particularly the senators.

JOHN AVLON, CNN INTERNATIONAL SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, they do because they are. And some examples are egregious, like Dianne Feinstein, Mitch McConnell's recent issues. Mitt Romney seems in full control of his faculties. And yet I think this statement is to be applauded. There is too much of a sense that people try to hold on to power as long as they can.

Romney's putting it in perspective, and not only make a case for generational change, but also really laying some pretty devastating claims in the current state of his own Republican Party, in an exit interview on the way out his door.

FOSTER: In terms of what could actually change what you think is realistic, because obviously voting for the, you know, effectively for their own positions to be shortened if certainly, you know, the latest pressure is sort of works.

AVLON: Yes, well, it's your self-interest would indicate that it's difficult to get people to place themselves. But poll after poll shows that term limits are very popular with the American people. It's a question of what the sweet spot is, so to speak. You know, mental competency tests, I'm sure would be challenged in court. And yet many private businesses have ages in which there's mandatory retirement. Now, you know, life expectancy is expected to grow.

But I think the problem is, you've got too many people holding on to power for too long with a lack of competitive general elections, because of the rigged system of redistricting. And I think part of the tragedy is it with Romney retiring, frankly, is that he represents what's left at the sensible center in the U.S. Senate, which is necessary for democracies to function. And with him leaving, there's a question of who will replace will the Republican Party get much further right.

I was really struck by one of his comments to McKay Coppins, a great reporter for The Atlantic Monthly, who said that -- he told McKay that a large percentage of my party doesn't really believe in the Constitution. That's a problem. That's a problem having to do with the ossification and the polarization of our politics, not just the age, but the age doesn't help.

FOSTER: You know, many of these politicians very well, do they are they just holding on because they want power and they want the income to continue? Or do you think they most of them really believe that they've got a huge amount of experience they still want to share?

AVLON: I don't think most people get into politics for the money. I think it has to do with -- with their own self-belief and experience. The fact that incumbents believe that they're correctly they're likely to hold on to power because they can win elections through their name, ID so to speak that there's a lack of competitive general elections.


And then many of them find it gainful, stimulating employment. The problem is that what you find purposeful isn't necessarily in the country's national interest and after a certain point. And so I do think it requires a step back and sense of return to more being, you know, citizen led legislators, legislatures, in a self-governing society, where it's a service, it's a sacrifice and a certain time of life, but it's not your whole life.

And then one thing I'll add is that, you know, we're States that have implied have -- have experimented with term limits. It's important to limit the staffers duration as well, because if you have high turnover of legislators, but a permanent staff class that creates its own problems, frankly.

FOSTER: OK, John Avalon, I really appreciate your insight. Thanks for joining us from New York. The Seattle Police Department's Office of Police accountability investigating comments made by an officer recorded on his body camera. Officer Daniel Auderer was discussing a woman killed after being struck by a Police vehicle responding to a call at very high speed here's what -- well here's part of that tape.




Yes, just write a check. Just $11,000. She was 26 anyway. She had limited value. (END VIDEO CLIP

FOSTER: It's hard to listen to it isn't it? The 23 year old was Jaahnavi Kandula. She was walking in a crosswalk when she was hit by the Police car in January. Co-chairs for the Seattle Community Police Commission called the comments quote, "heartbreaking and shockingly insensitive." A conservative radio station claims to have obtained a statement or a gave to the Office of Police accountability, saying he was mocking what a lawyer for the city might say about the case.

Whereas Vice President of the Seattle Police officers union, CNN has reached out to the officer and the union for comment. Still to come, we'll take you inside Morocco's devastated earthquake zone where even experienced aid workers are shocked at the destruction there.


FOSTER: Help is slowly making its way to hard hit mountain villages in Morocco after Friday's devastating earthquake as the death toll approaches 3000. Morocco has so far accepted only limited foreign aid following that quake as it ramps up to its own response to the disaster. CNN's Nada Bashir has more.


NADA BASHIR, CNN INTERNATIONAL REPORTER (voice-over): Sheltering from the sweltering September heat, survivors of Morocco's earthquake spend another day coming to terms with the tragedy that has befallen the shaken community.

BASHIR: Temporary shelters for those left homeless by the earthquake have been set up across this region. Many of the tents that you can see here have been supplied either by the Moroccan government or by local organizations and charities. But the Moroccan government has also requested assistance from members of the international community. And we've seen these international teams on the ground providing support not only on the search and rescue front, but also with the humanitarian relief efforts.


ROBERT NORMAN, COMMAND SUPPORT OFFICER, UK INTL. SEARCH AND RESCUE: The immediate priorities for our team as always saving life. Following on from that, where we can help medical assistants, identify humanitarian needs, so that even when that rescue phase does close, we've provided all the information we can to help humanitarian relief that will follow us.

BASHIR (voice-over): Across the quake zone here in Morocco. There has also been an outpouring of support from the local community with donations of food, water, and medication.


BASHIR (voice-over): The volunteers here tell us they still need more tents, and crucially, long term support with the rebuild effort. The government says the reconstruction of homes lost in a disaster is a priority. But for so many impacted families, there is no telling how long it'll be before they have a real home to return to. Nada Bashir CNN from Morocco.


FOSTER: Thanks for joining me here on CNN Newsroom. I'm Max Foster and World Sport with Amanda Davis is next.