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U.S. Vetoes U.N. Security Council Resolution Calling For An Immediate Ceasefire In Gaza; Moscow Court Upholds Detention Of U.S. Journalist; Russian Pilot Who Defected To Ukraine Is Believed Dead In Spain; Gang Leader Escape Shines Light On Nation's Prison System; U.N. Food Agency Pauses Deliveries To The North Of Gaza; IDF Troops Post Videos from Gaza on Social Media; Ukraine's War Effort Hampered by Low Ammo, Slow Recruitment; DOJ Filing Indicted FBI Informant; U.K. High Court to Decide if Assange Has Right to Appeal; Japanese Government to Limit Truck Driver Overtime Hours; Films of the Fab Four in the Works. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired February 21, 2024 - 01:00   ET



JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Ahead here on CNN Newsroom, at the U.N. Security Council, the U.S. vetoes another Gaza ceasefire resolution, arguing that calls for a ceasefire won't result in a ceasefire.

Full outrage and feigned indignation from the Kremlin after being accused of killing opposition leader Alexei Navalny, and a rare glimpse inside one of Ecuador's most notorious gang prisons.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Live from Atlanta. This is CNN Newsroom with John Vause.

VAUSE: For a third time in four months, the U.S. has used its veto power on the U.N. Security Council to block a draft resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.




VAUSE: U.S. was the only member on the council opposed to the resolution, which was drafted by Algeria, or the U.K. abstained. The Biden administration has been working on their own resolution, which for the first time will call for a temporary ceasefire in Gaza, but only as soon as practicable. Here's the U.S. Representative explaining why the Algerian resolution was blocked.


LLINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UN: Proceeding with a vote today was wishful and irresponsible. And so while we cannot support a resolution that would put sensitive negotiations in jeopardy, we look forward to engaging on a text that we believe will address so many of the concerns we all share, a text that can and should be adopted by the council so that we can have a temporary ceasefire as soon as practicable based on the formula of our hostages being released.


VAUSE: After abstaining, the U.K. did call for an immediate halt in the fighting to allow the delivery of humanitarian aid. Meantime, U.S. release coordinator Brett McGurk is traveling back to the region to help with ongoing hostage negotiations.

And Qatar says Hamas has confirmed from Hamas a shipment of medicine for Israeli hostages in Gaza has arrived.

Last hour I spoke with CNN's Richard Roth about why the U.S. opposed the ceasefire resolution and the politics and the diplomacy behind that opposition.


RICHARD ROTH, CNN SENIOR U.N. CORRESPONDENT: Well, the U.S. is continuing to protect Israel, just like other major powers on the Security Council with a veto protect their allied countries in certain different regions. The wording is different on the Algeria draft that was vetoed today that called for an immediate ceasefire, humanitarian ceasefire, while the U.S. draft that is laying in the weeds, says a temporary ceasefire.

The U.S. will buy more time if they could get their resolution approved. Many council members are frustrated with what happened on Tuesday in New York that the U.S. vetoed another text.

But as you've heard in the other Ambassador comments, the U.S. believes that a resolution now calling for an immediate ceasefire would give Hamas more time more support take the pressure off.

VAUSE: Well, Egypt though, which is party to hostage negotiations, and their U.N. representative argued that this ceasefire patrolled by Algeria could actually be implemented without any impact on those ongoing hostage negotiations. Listen to this.

OSAMA ABDELKHALEK, EGYPTIAN AMBASSADOR TO THE UN (through translator): This will not impede the ongoing mediation efforts, but rather will create the conductive conditions for its success. Let us negotiate and mediate in an environment of smooth flow of humanitarian aid and restored calm and healing the wounds of the wounded.

VAUSE: That just seemed to be the view held by most members of the U.N. Security Council, in fact, the U.N. General Assembly So how isolated is the U.S. right now?

ROTH Well, the U.S. is very isolated. I don't think they care. Just like Russia doesn't care that it's in the target zone on Ukraine. There -- the trouble is there's no weight behind what the U.N. does. And they run into irrelevance when they don't do anything during a major crisis. It's a horrible moment for the U.N. the Secretary General. The speech

has scripts that you would believe was a Hollywood movie. I mean, the language is so forbidden that it's broken the world. Antonio Guterres have said, and that needs you to be on the Security Council. That's not going to happen.

The hostages are the big thing for the U.S., and anything that either delays an effort to get a deal with Hamas is going to be vetoed.


VAUSE: So the U.S. draft resolution when it comes to the hostages, it's calling for the ceasefire in Gaza as soon as practicable. So in diplomatic speak, what's the difference between as soon as possible, and as soon as practicable? And even if this resolution gets to a vote, will Russia and China veto it anyway?

ROTH: I think there is a good chance Russia might veto or abstain. We haven't seen the final U.S. draft resolution. Ambassador Thomas- Greenfield has said that she has been working one on one with the Arab group, with the Palestinian envoy.

The timing you mentioned on practical and I forget the other version. You'd have to read that very carefully. I mean, one country is immediacy is another country is give me 10 months and I'll stall it until it's solved.


VAUSE: Many thanks to CNN senior reporter there Richard Roth.

Right now, one of the most punitive sanctions regimes ever imposed by the U.S. is currently in effect on Russia, more than 300 in all, all over the war with Ukraine, and with the second anniversary of the Russian invasion just days away, so too are more sanctions, which a senior U.S. official says at the direction of the U.S. president will now include a response to the sudden death of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny in a Siberian gulag. An announcement for the White House expected Friday. With more here's U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan.


JAKE SULLIVAN, U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: This is another turn of the crank, another turn of the wheel. And it is a range of targets, a significant range of targets that we have worked persistently and diligently to identify, to continue to impose costs for what Russia has done for what it's done to Navalny, for what it's done to Ukraine, and the threat that it represents to international peace and security.


VAUSE: Despite wide ranging U.S. and international sanctions, Russia has pushed on with its war in Ukraine, seemingly undeterred, and it seems sanctions will be of little immediate help to the family of Alexei Navalny and their demand for answers over his death. On Tuesday, his mother's not far from the IK-3 Polar Wolf penal colony

in Siberia, where her son died. She pleaded directly to the Russian President Vladimir Putin to release the body of his son for burial.

Russian state media reports about his younger brother Oleg is now on the Interior Ministry's wanted list for unspecified charges. More details from CNN chief global affairs correspondent Matthew Chance.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CHIEF GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Captured on camera in Russia's freezing north. What could be the prison motorcade carrying Alexei Navalny's body from the Arctic penal colony where he died.

Independent investigative journalists believe these traffic images show the late Russian opposition leader's remains have been removed, although there's still no official confirmation of where they're being held.

Even Navalny's elderly mother who traveled nearly 2,000 miles from Moscow to see her dead son has been denied and is now asking the Russian president for mercy.

LYUDMILA NAVALNAYA, ALEXEI NAVALNY'S MOTHER (through translator): They won't give me his body. They don't even tell me where he is. I'm addressing you Vladimir Putin. The solution to the issue depends only on you. Let me finally see my son. I demand that Alexei's body be immediately handed over so that I can bury him humanely.

CHANCE (voice-over): It is an emotional appeal with Russian public support. It's hard to ignore.

CHANCE: But Navalny here is only the latest in a long line of Kremlin critics to be permanently silenced. At home and abroad, dissidents have been poisoned, killed, even fallen out of windows. The Kremlin has denied any involvement in political killings, but the message Russians are hearing is as clear as it is dark. Opposing the Kremlin right now is an extremely dangerous path to take.

CHANCE (voice-over): Alexei Navalny knew it firsthand. The Kremlin critic barely survived this poisoning with a Russian nerve agent Novichok on a plane from Siberia in 2020.

Now his bereaved widow is accusing the Kremlin, the finishing the job and hiding the corpse to prevent the real cause of death, from being revealed.

YULIA NAVALNAYA, ALEXEI NAVALNY'S WIDOW (through translator): My husband could not be broken. And that's exactly why Putin killed him. And it is just as despicable and cowardly that they are now hiding his body. Lying pitifully and waiting for the traces of another Putin's Novichok to disappear.

CHANCE (voice-over): But the Kremlin has rejected those allegations as absolutely unfounded and boorish, saying investigators have yet to determine why this latest prominent critic died immune to the criticism it seems.


And the grief so many Russians now feel. Matthew Chance, CNN, Moscow.


VAUSE: Earlier I spoke to CNN national security analyst and former CIA chief of Russia operations, Steve Hall, I asked him if the new round of U.S. sanctions will make any difference.


STEVE HALL, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: In my mind, the best measure is what is Vladimir Putin and others in the Kremlin say about them? If there weren't such a big deal, you wouldn't hear so much about them. I mean, you might hear a little bit of, you know, discussions about how it's, you know, against international law and other sorts of nonsense that the Kremlin puts out.

But the fact of the matter is, is Vladimir Putin says both publicly and privately, you know, he wants them to stop as does the rest of the leadership in the Kremlin. So for me, that's the best measure of efficacy even though we can't always see it ourselves because it goes away and we kind of forget about it.

VAUSE: OK, so maybe there will be something out of there over time. More immediately though, Navalny's widow directly accused Vladimir Putin or killing her husband. And the response from the Kremlin sounded kind of dismissive and patronizing. Here's Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

DMITRY PESKOV, KREMLIN PRESS SECRETARY (through translator): Of course, those are absolutely unsubstantiated obnoxious accusations against the head of the Russian state. But given that Yulia Navalnaya was widow just days earlier, I will leave it without comment.

VAUSE: So after commenting on it, he says he's not going to comment on it. Also, on Monday, a Putin decree rewarded Valery Boyarinev, the Deputy Director of the Federal Penitentiary Service, he got the special rank of Colonel General. He's been described as a sadist, and as accused of personally torturing Navalny while he was in jail, and Navalny's younger brother added to Russia's most or not most one of those brutal wonderlust rather on unspecified charges.

You know, the Kremlin in the past is a gold medalist when it comes to acting with impunity. But the past few days sort of been a new personal best here.

HALL: Yes, I think we're really seeing, you know, sort of unprecedented types of reactions I think, from the Kremlin. I mean, certainly sending people to prison camps in the Gulag. That's not unprecedented. The Russians have a long history of that, going back to Soviet days, and even before and having people, you know, go to the prisons, and essentially, it's a death sentence, people are going to die there. They know that -- that stuff is all old and historical, and very much part of the Russian tradition.

But this whole idea of say, you know, other people are responsible, and it's irresponsible for the international community to accuse the Kremlin and Putin himself of being behind this killing, despite the fact that they've already tried to kill them once with novichok. And he had to be flown to Germany, not to mention all the other assassinations that have happened inside and outside of Russia as recently as yesterday.

So you know, it's -- it just doesn't stand up to reason. But what it does, I think, show us, John, is that I think Putin is really feeling it. He's feeling that now is his opportunity to move forward. And it's because he thinks his policies and his planning have worked. It's always been let's wait until the West loses focus. Let's wait until the United States loses track and becomes interested in other things.

And it seems to be working for him at least right now. And I think he's feeling it and moving forward briskly because he sees this as a window of opportunity.


VAUSE: Thanks to CNN national security analyst Steve Hall. Accorded Moscow has extended pretrial detention for Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich currently held in a Russian prison on espionage charges.

The court's ruling will keep Gershkovich in prison until March, which will mean a year behind bars for the American reporter who denies all wrongdoing, so too does his newspaper and the U.S. State Department. If convicted, though, he faces up to 20 years in prison.

And a jewel (ph) U.S.-Russian citizen has been arrested in the Russian city of Yekaterinburg accused of treason. The Russian state security service says Ksenia Karelina was collecting funds for Ukrainian organization to openly supporting Ukraine's government. U.S. State department is working to contact the 33-year-old from Los Angeles.


MILLER: Russia when it comes to dual citizens of the United States and Russia are dual citizens of any other country in Russia, Russia does not recognize dual citizenship considers them to be Russian citizens first and foremost. And so oftentimes we have a difficult time getting consular assistance, but we will pursue it in all matters where a U.S. citizen is obtained.


VAUSE: Russian officials say the funds collected by Karelina were used to purchase medicine, weapons and ammunition for Ukrainian fighters.

According to credit intelligence the Russian helicopter pilot who made headlines last year by defecting to Ukraine is dead. When sources the body of Maxim Kuzminov was found in Spain shot to death a week ago. CNN's Melissa Bell has details. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SERGEI ZENIN, RUSSIA 1 TV CORRESPONDENT: They speak calmly about Kuzminov's fate. The order has already been received. And its fulfillment is a matter of time.


MELISSA BELL, CNN PARIS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): An eerie warning just months before police cordoned off this crime scene. A Russian state media journalists claiming last October that Russian special forces were seeking to retaliate against helicopter pilot Maxim Kuzminov who defected to Ukraine last year.

Kuzminov now discovered fatally shot in Spain, Ukrainian Defense Intelligence sources confirmed to CNN. His body found in a parking garage, according to Spanish authorities. Asked whether Russia had any knowledge of the depth, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Moscow had no information on the matter at all. Despite Russia's foreign intelligence chief speaking indirectly saying that Kuzminov became a moral corpse the moment he'd plan his quote, terrible crime.

The crime in question, a daring operation last September that saw him fly his helicopter across the Russian border and into Ukraine. A decision Kuzminov explained to journalists just after arriving in Kyiv.

MAXIM KUZMINOV, RUSSIAN HELICOPTER PILOT WHO DEFECTED TO UKRAINE (through translator): If I had one question, why would my beloved homeland he's such a war, I went to church I lit candles with one wish that it would end as soon as possible. I realized that this is evil, horror and crime. Any war is a crime.

BELL: Maxim Kuzminov said the trip took six months to plan. Then once out of Russia, he used his voice to encourage more of his countrymen to do the same.

KUZMINOV (through translator): Of course, if you commit what I've committed, you will not regret at all, you will be provided for with everything for the rest of your life. You will be offered jobs everywhere, everywhere you would want and whatever you would want to do. You will discover a world of colors for yourself.

BELL: That world of colors however cast in the Kremlin shadow.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Of course we will find him. We can reach them all, our arms are long.

BELL (through translator): The warnings on the state television reminding dissidents that Moscow's grip extends far beyond Russia's borders. Melissa Bell, CNN. Paris.


VAUSE: Still ahead here on CNN, Ecuador's military raiding notorious prison attempting to reinstate order as part of a nationwide crackdown on gangs. More on that in a moment.

Also for months, Republicans have been saying that man there in the black hood. He said key, he has all the information to the Biden crime family, but where he says he got his discriminant information from well, that's next.


VAUSE: In Haiti, the widow of President Jovenel Moise is among dozens indicted in his assassination.


He was killed in 2021, where more than two dozen armed men swarmed the presidential compound and shot him 12 times. His wife Matine Moise was also shot repeatedly but survived. The indictment accuses the former First Lady and the former Haitian Prime Minister of conspiring with 49 other people to replace President Moise.

The law firm representing the former First Lady and says she is innocent and had no motive for the attack.

While the most notorious gang leaders in Ecuador is said to have lived like a king behind bars with a queen size bed and a mini fridge, his prison cell looks more like a hotel or a frat room.

His recent jailbreak is shining a spotlight on the country's prison system, which experts say have turned into the headquarters for criminal groups. CNN's David Culver has our report.


DAVID CULVER, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It says though, they're stepping into a war zone, Ecuador's military and national police trail and armored vehicle in a raid one of the country's 35 prisons.

Inside prisoners stripped down, hands tied. Scenes like this have played out across Ecuador over the past few weeks. The Armed Forces making a very public show of force attempting to reinstate order within their own prisons. It's part of Ecuador's effort to neutralize terror groups and weed out gangs which have unleashed chaos nationwide from a live TV studio armed takeover, to random shootings in the streets.

This most recent surge in violence sparked by the suspected escape of this man Jose Adolfo Macias known as Fito. On January 7, officials reported that while serving a 34-year sentence for murder and drug trafficking, the notorious gang leader vanished from this prison in Guayaquil.

A drone's view allows us to grasp the scale of this complex, it is sprawling.

CULVER: Not really much of a prison uniform. They're all kind of in their own clothes. CULVER (voice-over): Officials tell us it's made up of five different

prisons, through military and prison sources, we get a sense of the layout, we learn the women are kept here. These buildings houses the men and they range from minimum to medium security. And over here, maximum security known as La Roca or The Rock.

With a military escort, we go past the first of three perimeters any farther we're told too dangerous, even with armed soldiers. We're told inmates are separated based on gang affiliation, and are essentially self-ruled.

CULVER: And you can see behind one of these gates folks kind of moving comfortably and casually, from cell to cell to kind of an indoor outdoor complex.

CULVER (voice-over): CNN obtaining these videos from inside by prison standards, they reveal a life of luxury for Fito, the drug kingpin. The images captured last year by members of Ecuador's military. They appear to show Fito cell messy but complete with home comforts on mini fridge, a queen bed, upscale shower fittings, artwork featuring an image of Fito himself with guns and cash.

He lives like a king. You can hear one of the soldiers say in this video obtained by CNN and verified by Ecuador's military. Outside, his own courtyard and a half dozen fighting roosters believed to be his A military source tells us Fito had fresh fish imported for his meals and somehow even managed to shoot a music video from within the prison walls.

Ecuaviza (ph) showing these images of Fito's 42nd birthday in 2022. The prisoners reportedly enjoyed cake, music and drinks. The night capped off with fireworks. He had more power outlets than a Marriott hotel room. Ecuador's president Daniel Noboa said late last year.

So why escape. Ecuadorian security experts believe that Fito was tipped off that he was going to be transferred in the same complex back to The Rock maximum security. Fito spent a few weeks in The Rock last year moving him they're involved in estimated 4,000 police and soldiers his sudden disappearance suggesting he wasn't ready to leave the comforts of his cell.

The government's focus now is to reassert control within but it won't be easy. Prison raids have turned up everything from laptops, to guns.

Naboa also announcing the construction of new prisons designed by the same company behind El Salvador's notorious mega prisons where thousands of suspected gang members are locked up.

Back outside of the prison in Guayaquil --

CULVER: You can hear there's church services going on.


Some sort of religious ceremony loudspeakers. CULIVER (voice-over): Soldiers and police stand guard on the perimeter knowing that it's often the gangs who still dictate what happens on the inside. David Culver, CNN, Guayaquil, Ecuador.


VAUSE: Still to come here on CNN Newsroom, hunger is now so widespread and so acute in Gaza. Many are willing to risk dying and an Israeli strike to loot at aid convoy. And now the World Food Programme has suspended distribution operations.


VAUSE: Welcome back, everyone. You're watching CNN Newsroom. I'm John Vause. The United Nations World Food Programme is pausing distribution in northern Gaza over safety concerns.

On Monday, a convoy of trucks was looted and a driver was beaten. Day earlier convoy entering Gaza City came under fire, as crowds attempted to climb onto the trucks. Hunger and malnutrition is now so widespread and reaching critical levels that hundreds of thousands of people are becoming more desperate by the day.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): The children crying, they're crying from hunger. We do not know what to give them. We cannot find anything to feed them. Please help us.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I want to find anything edible for our children. I found a little wheat flour mixed with sand among the rubble. I added it to the water and baked it. We ate the bread mixed with sand and gravel.


VAUSE: The WFP says aid deliveries will resume as soon as possible.

This is one continuous growing number of Israeli soldiers are using their military experience and then posting that on social media. The images and the video content which is being shared across TikTok and elsewhere, but often cast the troops are less than noble light. CNN's Jeremy Diamond has details.


JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is a how to video on how to blow up a mosque in Gaza. Format is internet fluent the content is very real, filmed, edited and posted on Instagram by an Israeli soldier. It's one of dozens reviewed by CNN.

For many in 2024, social media is everyday life. Israeli soldiers are no different. Except they're fighting Israel's largest and most brutal war in decades.

[01:29:42] In video, after video, after video, soldiers document the destruction of Gaza and rejoice. A film that nations use as wedding invitations.

Among them are would-be comedians whose video satirizing the war showed the devastation in Gaza.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This was the University. The IDF helped them. It became the Open University.

AVNER GVARYAHU, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, BREAKING THE SILENCE: Soldiers have always documented themselves. It could be in journals, it could be with, you know, taking pictures.

DIAMOND: Avner Gvaryahu, who served in the IDF during the Second Intifada. He leads the group Breaking the Silence which encourages soldiers to speak out about the realities of occupation.

GVARYESU: Even if we do find, you know, the why we went to this war, important significance and necessity, we have to ask ourselves how we're

conducting ourselves in wartime.

DIAMOND: The videos often end up on the social media channels of right-wing political commentators, they boast to the Israeli public of the tactics used to defend them.

The IDF told CNN that it has acted and continues to act to identify unusual cases that deviate from what is expected of IDF soldiers. Those cases will be arbitrated, and significant command measures will be taken against the soldiers involved.

Images from Gaza of Israel's war injured are rare on Israeli television, but they're there on TikTok.

ERAN HALPERIN, PROFESSOR OF PSYCHOLOGY AT HEBREW UNIVERSITY OF JERUSALEM: The overarching theme is that, you know, we're here, we're going to win. We're powerful enough.

And we think that what these soldiers are doing on these clips that we see on social media is part of an attempt to regain a sense of agency, regain a sense of power, regain, you know, the sense of positive self- image the way we talk about ourselves before October 7.

DIAMOND: At times, they openly defy their military's message about protecting civilians.

And film themselves destroying civilian shops.

Israel is under increasing scrutiny over the war in Gaza. These videos may well be adding fuel to that criticism.

Jeremy Diamond, CNN -- Tel Aviv.

(END VIDEOTAPE) JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Russia's president described the withdrawal of Ukrainian troops from Avdiivka as an unconditional success. And from there he says, they can now push on deeper into Ukraine.

According to Russia's defense ministry, Ukraine's retreat from the eastern town was chaotic. He adds a lot of Ukrainian soldiers were wounded or captured.

Ukraine's foreign minister tells CNN Avdiivka would not have fallen if Ukrainian forces had received the ammunition and the financial aid they needed.

The fall of Avdiivka highlights the dire problems facing Ukraine almost two years into this long war. Crumbling western support means weapon and ammunition are in short supply, recruitment of new troops for the front lines is slow. And everywhere there are more and more graves of fallen men and women.

CNN's Christiane Amanpour is in Lviv, Ukraine and shows us the toll this war is taking. But also Ukraine's remarkable resilience.


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: At first, it looked beautiful -- all the colors, the sheer density flying in the wind, so much Ukrainian yellow and blue. But when you realize that each flies above the body of a beloved, the pain is palpable.

A mother cries for her son. He came from Poland, from abroad, says Lubof (ph). He went to liberate our Ukraine. He said, "Mom, I'm going to defend you."

A woman seems to be talking to her fallen loved one.

And this widow Natalya (ph) moves in for a kiss. Her husband, who had volunteered for the eastern front, was killed just shy of his 30th birthday five months ago, when shrapnel hit his head, leaving her and her small children alone.

"I'm proud of my husband because his sacrifice is worth a lot," says Natalya. "I believe that it's the duty of every man to defend his homeland. Having three children, he could have not gone, but understood that he was going to defend us.

Lychakiv Cemetery in the western city of Lviv is like cemeteries all over Ukraine today.


AMANPOUR: Two years ago, this was a grass field. Today, it's a field of flags and the graves of those who've fallen defending this country. And on this two-year anniversary, families are asking whether Ukraine can continue leaving it up to their volunteers, or whether there needs to be a call up to mobilize for the front.

Natalya agrees, "Yes, definitely," she says, "because if we don't defend ourselves, what kind of fate awaits us next? If we don't defend our lands, Russia will be here soon.

In the center of Lviv, there is a small recruitment office for the Army's Third Assault Brigade, just through this courtyard. Sergeant Pavlo Dokin (ph) is in charge and he shows us in.

So Pavlo, this is the recruitment office, the recruitment center? Yes.

"It is exhausting not only physically, but also for morale. Soldiers need to have normal rotations," Pavlo tells me, "so that they can rest from all of that. And start working with renewed vigor."

The office is open all week, sometimes a few show up, sometimes none. While we were there, just one.

Why do you want to be in the military?

"Someone needs to defend our Ukraine," says Volodymyr, a 43-year-old builder.

And that's the point, starting a third year of full-scale war against the Russian invasion, they are heavily outmanned and vital weapons and ammunition for their fight are tangled up in Washington's political gridlock, under former President Donald Trump's direction.

Speaking to world leaders in Munich this past weekend, President Zelenskyy said he'd invite him to see the war with his own eyes.

VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT: If Trump, Mr. Trump, if he will come, I am ready even to go with him to the frontline.

AMANPOUR: Back at the Third Assault Brigade, this poster says, "Rush to the decisive battle".

And they did that this weekend, just as the small town of Avdiivka in the east was falling, to help withdraw forces before they can be encircled by the Russian, at least then they could live to fight another day.

President Zelenskyy told me for every Ukrainian killed in that battle, there was seven Russian deaths.

ZELENSKYY (through translator): I'm telling you, frankly, we don't have long-range weapons. Russia has it, and we have too little of that. That's true. That's why our main weapon today is our soldiers, our people.

AMANPOUR: Back at the cemetery in Lviv the people, the bereaved, say the nation needs a new call up if it can properly arm them.

"I would say they should," says Lubof, "but only if they had weapons. The guys have no weapons. They have nothing to fight with. Believe me, my child used to buy his own uniform with his own money."

And here, more ground is already being prepared. The fight for freedom and democracy will be bloody, hard and long.

Christiane Amanpour, CNN -- Lviv, western Ukraine.


VAUSE: Russians and election interference. It seems they may be at it again, at least according to a new U.S. court filing in the case of a former FBI informant, who's being charged with a falsely accusing President Joe Biden and his son Hunter are taking massive bribe from a Ukrainian energy company. The basis of those allegations, he now says, is from made-up intelligence, but he says initially it came from Russian intelligence officials.

CNN's Evan Perez has the story.


EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR U.S. JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: A former FBI informant allegedly told investigators that people associated with Russian intelligence were involved in passing on false claims about Hunter Biden, the son of President Joe Biden.

Federal prosecutors made that new allegation in a court filing seeking to keep Alexander Smirnov detained after he was arrested and charged with lying to the FBI and falsifying documents.

Smirnov is behind allegations that Joe Biden and Hunter Biden were being offered bribes of $5 million each in order to help Ukrainian energy company Burisma.

Republicans have touted those claims as part of their effort to impeach President Biden. Now, according to special counsel David Weiss, the bribery claims against the Bidens are false.

Weiss is prosecuting Hunter Biden on tax evasion and gun charges. The prosecutors say that Smirnov has extensive contacts with foreign intelligence agencies, and they also raised the potential impact of Smirnov's claims on the 2024 U.S. election.

They say Smirnov's efforts to spread misinformation about a candidate of one of two major political parties in the United States continues.

What this shows is that the misinformation he is spreading is not confined to 2020. He is actively peddling new lies that could impact U.S. elections.


PEREZ: At a hearing in Las Vegas, a judge allowed Smirnov to be released with restrictions including requiring that he surrender his U.S. and Israeli passports. The judge said that the political ramifications of Smirnov's alleged crimes don't meet the standard to require continued detention.

Evan Perez, CNN -- Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE) VAUSE: Ahead, what could be the end of the road for Julian Assange and his legal efforts to avoid extradition to the U.S., the country where his lawyers argue the WikiLeaks founder will not be safe.


VAUSE: The second day of a two-day hearing will take place in London Wednesday on whether WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has the right to appeal his extradition to the United States.

Details now from CNN's Max Foster.


MAX FOSTER, CNN LONDON CORRESPONDENT: The U.S. has been fighting for years to have Julian Assange extradited from the U.K. to the United States. It's gone from the High Court to the Supreme Court, right up to the British government that signed off on this extradition.

What these two days' worth of hearings are discussing is whether or not the government was right to sign off. Did it breach Julian Assange's human rights?

He argues that he's in an unfit mental state. He could take his own life if he's sent to the United States. He says he's just a journalist and that the move is politically-motivated. The British government is politically-motivated to sign off on this extradition warrant.

Another extraordinary allegation comes from Julian Assange's lawyer is that they have compelling evidence of a CIA plot to kidnap or assassinate the WikiLeaks founder during his time when he was holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy, which is from 2012 to 2019, where he was effectively hiding from the British judicial process.

These claims haven't been verified. If the judges think there is something in them, then they could have further hearings. If they don't think there's anything in them then the extradition process does begin. And Julian Assange could be sent to the U.S. in a matter of days, probably weeks.

There is a chance he could appeal to the European Court of Human Rights but we're not sure how that process would work at this point. At the moment is just hearing about those human rights and whether or not they were breached by the British government by allowing, Julian Assange to be extradited to the U.S.

Max Foster, CNN -- London.


VAUSE: Well, in Japan, strict limits on overtime for truck drivers set to take effect this April. The move is meant to alleviate a chronic shortage of drivers and improve working conditions.

But it might also have a much bigger impact on an economy which is now in recession. CNN's Hanako Montgomery explains.



HANAKO MONTGOMERY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: 24-hour convenience stores, fresh seafood, same day deliveries. In the world's fourth largest economy, convenience reigns king.

But starting April 1st, this way of life many Japanese are used to threatens to be upended because truck drivers in Japan will finally get a cap on overtime.

TAKETO NAKAJIMA, CEO, CHIKUMA TRANSPORT CO.: Truckers have been supporting Japan's economy for a very long time.

So when the cap is implemented, it will certainly mean all goods won't be delivered. That's what I'm most worried about.

MONTGOMERY: Truckers, the lifeline of Japan's economy deliver 90 percent of Japan's cargo. But the hours long and punishing have at times been fatal with dozens dying from overwork each year.

The government cap from April, which limits overtime hours to 80 a month for truckers is a welcomed change. But for the trucking industry, it means fewer drivers and smaller wages.

RYUJI SHIOKAWA, TRUCK DRIVER: I think the biggest concern is the salary. Even if I get to spend more time with my children, if my salary drops, it will make life difficult for us.

MONTGOMERY: Once the cap is implemented, the government fears that some goods won't be delivered on time or ever transported.

Without intervention, Japan could see a 14.2 percent decrease in delivery capacity this year. Or a 34.1 percent drop by 2030, leading to economic losses of up to $67 U.S. billion. That year alone.

The 2024 problem compounded by a shrinking population and an aging workforce as the trucking industry loses over 15,000 drivers annually.

HIRONORI TSUBOL, MINISTRY OF HEALTH, LABOR AND WELFARE: I think that many people are concerned about the decrease in the supply of services. But if it's a difficult work environment, fewer and fewer people will want to work.

So I believe that creating a workplace that is easy to work in is the key to attracting people to the industry.

MONTGOMERY: Japan's trucking industry, poised to change drastically but Japan's reliance on truckers, the heart of the country's supply chain, steadfast.

Hanako Montgomery, CNN -- Tokyo.


VAUSE: In a moment, for the Fab Four, four fab films. We'll tell you the stories of The Beatles from the perspective of John, Paul, Ringo, and George.




VAUSE: The year was 1964 and the first ever movie starring The Beatles and about The Beatles premiered. "A Hard Day's Night", capturing the essence of Beatlemania. The Beatles would go on to make four more movies and now comes word of four more.

According to Sony Pictures Entertainment, four feature-length biopics will tell the story of The Beatles from the individual perspectives of each member of the band -- John, Paul, Ringo, and George.


VAUSE: All have separate release dates, sometime in 2027 and will be directed by Academy award winner Sam Mendes.

Joining us now from Vail, Colorado Bob Lefsetz, music writer and analyst for "The Lefsetz Newsletter".

Bob, good to see you.


VAUSE: Ok. So co-producer Pippa Harris told the "Hollywood Reporter", we intend this to be a uniquely thrilling, an epic, cinematic experience. Four films told from four different perspectives which tell a single story about the most celebrated band of all time.

This is what's interesting because usually a music biopic is done with sort of big picture overarching narrative. So this decision to go microscopic, few bands could ever sustain a movie about each individual member of the group.

Is that the exception here, The Beatles?

LEFSETZ: Well, you know, Beatlemania is forever. anything the Beatles do is big news. They have this guy Jeff Jones used to work for Sony Music in the catalog department. He makes sure there's a news event every year. They've re-mixed all of the albums. They did the Peter Jackson documentary on "Let It Be".

They have to keep doing new things to keep fans interested, and to also make new fans. I think this is a great idea.

Sam Mendes absolutely first-class film producer, and people will want to see this. All of the other rules of biopics, you have the Bob Marley. You certainly have the Queen mega-successful one. The Beatles, it's a whole new story.

VAUSE: Yes, because the biopics have sort of a mixed result over recent years in the box office. In less than a week Bob Marley's "One Love" has done incredibly well, pulling in $80 million worldwide. (INAUDIBLE) "Elvis", not quite so successful, still pretty good. Almost $300 million in 2022.

So what makes one movie a success in revenue terms and other, which was a great movie, not so much of a drawer. Having said all what, you say these rules don't apply to The Beatles.

LEFSETZ: Well, you know, we've had these musical biopics for decades. We certainly had the one on Buddy Holly that a was huge hit a few years back. And the Queen thing -- Queen snuck up on us, probably as a result of the finale of the "Wayne's World" and other movies and therefore, it was a victory lap for a band that had not gotten all the recognition that it deserved.

So Queen was an outlier. If you look at "Bohemian Rhapsody", it's one of the absolutely most played songs on Spotify. The Beatles were in the same category. Bob Marley, Elvis -- Elvis --- there's been many movies about him. It's got to do with the quality.

People are (INAUDIBLE) interested in The Beatles, everything they have to say, excavating the details. And this is fascinating. It's a new way to make a movie, to have it from the perspective, because they all had different roles. We certainly know that George quit the band during the "Let It Be" sessions. It would be fascinating to see how he sees things.

And Ringo and Paul taking control of the band from John. It'll just be really everybody wants to see these movies.

VAUSE: And you mentioned this -- the casting here is so crucial and you talked about Elvis. Austin Butler, who played Elvis -- take a look a look.


LEFSETZ: Well, you know --

VAUSE: I think that was actually -- that was not Austin Butler. That was actually the real Elvis. That was Austin Butler? No.

I'm told that was Austin Butler. So I'm sorry. I take it -- I take it back, that was Austin Butler. He is so good. He had all the expressions, the quirks, and the mannerisms apparently, I was fooled.

But you know, over to you, Bob.

LEFSETZ: Well, you know, if you want to get someone who looks identical, it has to be a new lead. They did that with the Elton John movie. It was very well-received.

So but then we look at the Brian Wilson movie where it didn't really look like Brian Wilson at all. But the story was so fascinating, you didn't care.

So Sam Mendes is just not going to have a straightforward production here. He's going to put a twist. As long as the story is interesting, I don't think it matters if the actor looks exactly like the members of The Beatles.

VAUSE: To be clear, this isn't a documentary about them. This is, this is a biopic and so there will be -- this is a dramatization. This is a story that goes with it. So where are they getting all the information from for the movie? Do we know?

LEFSETZ: I don't. I mean, you know, there's tons. There've been so many books about The Beatles. There'll be -- this is the -- this is years-long (ph). So you know that they can come up with all the answers.

This will be -- you know, this will be released. It's a big deal. That's one of the fascinating things in the news release. They said that there'll be (INAUDIBLE) release.


LEFSETZ: Normally, the superhero movies, there's a cycle. But they may release four movies over the summer. It'll be interesting, it will be Beatlemania. We've had Swift mania the last year. It's nothing compared to Beatlemania.

VAUSE: The possibilities here are endless. You got, you know, Yoko Ono and the (INAUDIBLE) of the band with John Lennon or you got the -- it just goes on and on and on.

Bob, it's great to have you with us. Enjoy Vail. Good to see you.

LEFSETZ: OK. I certainly will. Good talking to you.

VAUSE: Cheers mate.

You got a piece of music history if you have enough money, auction house, Christie's will sell off some of the items from Elton John's former home here in Atlanta on Peachtree Road.

He sold last year for $7 million. That's according to "The Wall Street Journal". Items up for auction include a pinball machine, paintings, clothing, furniture, and some other memorabilia.


BONNIE BRENNAN, PRESIDENT, CHRISTIE'S AMERICA: Christie's really defines our ourselves and differentiates ourselves with the house that celebrates collections, celebrates collectors' stories, and their journeys.

And you know, Elton John as you know is a global superstar who has forever defined both music and popular culture. He's audacious, he's poignant and his collection is no different. And what a better story for us to celebrate than somebody like Elton John. (END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: Some items will be available at the auction in New York, but others can be found on Christies Web site during online auction which is happening right now. There we go.

Finally, Beyonce's venture into country music is officially a hit.


VAUSE: Her new song, "Texas Hold'em" debuted in top spot on Billboard's Hot Country Song chart. Her song "16 Characters" came in at number nine on that same chart. She is the first one to top both the Hot Country and the Hot R&B Pop charts since the list began many decades ago. Good for her.

Thank you for watching. I'm John Vause.

Please stay with us. My friend and colleague Rosemary Church in the chair after a very short break.

See you back here tomorrow.