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One Dead, Six Wounded in a West Bank Highway Shooting; Negotiators Race for a Hostage Deal Ahead of the Ramadan Period; A Russian-American Citizen Charged with Treason After Donating a Small Amount to the Ukrainian Charity; U.S. Secretary of State Arrives in Brazil for Talks Ahead of the G20 Summit in November; Chinese Coast Guard Officers Boarded a Taiwanese Tourist Boat; Nations and Private Companies Racing for the Lunar Landing to the Moon. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired February 22, 2024 - 03:00   ET




ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world and to everyone streaming us on CNN Max. I'm Rosemary Church.

Just ahead, negotiators race to secure an Israel Hamas hostage and ceasefire deal ahead of Ramadan.

A $51 donation to a Ukrainian charity is at the center of treason charges against a Russian-American citizen detained by Russia. We'll have the latest.

And tensions are high in Taiwan after China's Coast Guard boarded a tourist boat from Taiwan.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): Live from Atlanta, this is "CNN Newsroom" with Rosemary Church.

CHURCH: We begin with breaking news out of the occupied West Bank where at least one person is dead after a shooting on a highway. Israeli authorities say three people shot at vehicles that were standing in traffic.

Let's go to CNN's Nic Robertson. He joins us from the West Bank. So Nic, what more are you learning about this deadly shooting on the outskirts of Jerusalem?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: This is the highway where the traffic was queuing on its way to Jerusalem, which is up the hill here.

The traffic, many Israelis coming up this main highway from towns in the West Bank. And when they were stuck in the traffic here, this is when police say the shooters who arrived in one vehicle, got out of their vehicle at different locations, started shooting on the traffic that was lining up here. And if you can (inaudible), if you're able to zoom in down the road a little bit, you can see a vehicle on the back of a truck down there, a blue vehicle.

That appears to be the vehicle, as best we can understand, that the attackers arrived on the scene in.

We know that one young man in his 20s was killed. Five other people were shot. At least one of them, we believe, a woman in serious condition. Another person, as they were trying to rush and get themselves away from the attackers, hurt themselves. But right now, several people have been taken to hospital.

One of the people taken to hospital, we understand the woman who is seriously injured. One person died at the scene here.

And right now the police are on the scene. The highway, this main highway into Jerusalem is shut at the moment. There's no traffic coming up here. And the incident took place at a time when every day you'll see massive queues of traffic here of people coming to work either in Jerusalem or going on to Tel Aviv.

So this shooting, slightly different from others that we've seen recently, because there were three attackers involved here. All the police say with automatic weapons, all choosing and shooting at different targets here. The police say that two of the attackers were shot and killed immediately. Another attacker was chased from the scene and shot and killed.

We understand that at least one senior politician, possibly a government minister, has visited the site this morning. We're still trying to work out and confirm if that has actually happened. But that would be quite expected in a situation like this with Jerusalem, quite literally just a couple of miles from where we're standing, Rosemary.

CHURCH: All right. Our thanks to Nic Robertson at the scene of that shooting on the outskirts of Jerusalem. We will, of course, bring you more details as they come into us.

Let's go now to Elliott Gotkine, who joins us live from London. So, Elliott, what is the latest on the urgent and accelerated efforts to negotiate a hostage deal ahead of Israel's threatened Ramadan deadline for an offensive in Rafah?

ELLIOTT GOTKINE, JOURNALIST: Rosemary, Israel has said, at least Benny Gantz, member of the War Cabinet, has said that if there is no deal to free all 100-plus hostages who were kidnapped as part of the Hamas-led terrorist attacks of October 7th, in time for Ramadan, which starts around March the 10th, then that ground operation will go ahead.

That ground operation in Rafah, where around 1.5 million Palestinians have taken shelter, many of them from other parts of the Gaza Strip already. So the U.S. has, of course, expressed its concern about the potential for a ground operation. But, of course, it's also working on the diplomatic side of things.


And we know that this coming Friday, the CIA director, Bill Burns, along with his counterparts from Israel and Egypt, and also mediators from Qatar, will again be meeting in Paris to try to push along this framework agreement that they arrived at last time they were meeting in Paris to get those Israeli hostages freed in exchange for the release of a number of Palestinian prisoners being held in Israeli jails.

Of course, a pause in the fighting as well. The U.S. has been pushing for a six-week pause and getting much more humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip, where it is so desperately needed.

Now, you'll recall that Hamas' counter-proposal demanded that not only thousands of Palestinian prisoners be freed as part of any hostage deal, but also that there be a complete cessation of hostilities and that Israel withdraw from the Gaza Strip.

These demands, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu derided as delusional, and his chief hostage negotiator said that they told CNN, in fact, a few days later, that they were not connected to reality.

Benny Gantz, meanwhile, speaking last night, seemed to suggest that there were some moves and some calls for optimism, in fact, saying that there were promising early signs of progress in reaching some kind of hostage deal.

And I suppose perhaps this March 10th deadline, insofar as it is a hard deadline, may be concentrating minds, and the hope will be that this could lead to some kind of compromise, perhaps with Hamas moderating its demands, that could lead to a deal and see those hostages freed in exchange for the release of Palestinian prisoners and more humanitarian aid going into the Gaza Strip as part of a pause in the fighting. Rosemary?

CHURCH: All right. Elliott Gotkine bringing us that live report from London. Many thanks.

In the coming hours, the International Court of Justice will continue with hearings on the legal consequences of Israel's policies and practices in Palestinian territories. On day three of the hearings, the U.S. said the world court should not order the unconditional withdrawal of Israeli forces from Palestinian territories.

More than 50 countries are voicing arguments. The UAE's envoy to the U.N. argued Israel's presence is, quote, "illegal and cannot remain without consequence." But the U.S. said the October 7th attack served as a reminder that Israel's security must be guaranteed.


RICHARD VISEK, ACTING LEGAL ADVISER, U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT: Any movement towards Israel's withdrawal from the West Bank and Gaza requires consideration of Israel's very real security needs. Regrettably, those needs have been ignored by many of the participants in asserting how the court should consider the questions before it.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CHURCH: Israel is not participating in the hearings, saying it could harm efforts to reach a settlement. The U.N. General Assembly asked the world court back in 2022 to issue a non-binding opinion on the issue. But no decision is expected for months.

On the ground, some aid convoys appear to have been attacked amid the fighting. A CNN investigation found Israeli forces fired on a U.N. truck carrying food as it sat stationary at an IDF checkpoint. Katie Polglase has our exclusive report.


KATIE POLGLASE, CNN INVESTIGATIVE PRODUCER (voice-over): This is how desperate the people in northern Gaza are. This aid truck filmed at the end of January is one of the last to enter the region.

And here's why. Aid so often caught in the fighting.

POLGLASE: Now CNN can exclusively reveal that this truck carrying vital food headed for northern Gaza was hit on February 5th by an Israeli shell, despite an agreement to provide a safe route. CNN has seen the internal U.N. incident report and the correspondence between the U.N. and the Israeli military that show the route of this convoy was agreed upon in advance.

POLGLASE (voice-over): And with starvation imminent for many across Gaza, experts say hitting a food truck is a potential war crime.

JANINA DILL, OXFORD UNIVERSITY'S INSTITUTE FOR ETHICS, LAW, AND ARMED CONFLICT: Looking at it with the available facts, it's really difficult to see how this could be a legal attack. And so at minimum, it would look like a very serious violation of international humanitarian law. Whether it's also criminal then depends on questions of intent.

POLGLASE (voice-over): The truck set off as part of a U.N. marked convoy of 10 up al-Rashid Road in the early hours. It reached an IDF holding point at 4:15am. Stationary for over an hour, it was then hit at 5:35am. Fortunately, no one on board was killed. The U.N. says they were hit by Israeli naval gunfire.

And in satellite imagery taken just two hours after the attack, CNN identified ships that could only be Israeli naval boats. They've been deployed along the coast and are attacking Gaza from the west.

JULIETTE TOUMA, UNRWA: We share with the Israeli army the coordinates of the convoy and only when the Israeli army gives us the OK, the green light, does UNRWA move.


And the purpose of this deconfliction process is to make sure that aid convoys don't get hit.

POLGLASE (voice-over): It's not the first time this has happened. Many other aid trucks have been hit since the beginning of this conflict. The U.N. says northern Gaza is still home to reported 300,000 civilians. UNRWA says half of its mission requests to the north have been denied since January. And since this latest attack, they have taken the painful decision to stop trying to deliver aid to the north at all.

The IDF says it's helping to coordinate humanitarian relief in Gaza. But aid agencies say they face repeated delays while some staff are detained and even tortured. A U.N. mission in December described one aid worker who said he was stripped, beaten and blindfolded.

Even when convoys are allowed through, some routes are simply not passable.

This large crater blocking al-Rashid Road just weeks before it was designated by the IDF as the main route permitted for humanitarian vehicles.

DILL: Such large percentages of the population are at such dire need, at such immediate risk of starvation. From that perspective, it's really hard for me to understand what kind of potential military rationale could be advanced to justify actions like this.

POLGLASE (voice-over): As the humanitarian crisis deepens, the question is whether Israel will be held accountable in a court of law for depriving so many in Gaza of aid.

POLGLASE: Well, CNN did reach out to the IDF for comment on this piece multiple times, and they are yet to respond. They did respond on the day of the incident, February 5th, saying they were looking into it. But this forms part of a concerning theme. Just on Tuesday, the World Food Program said they were also pausing missions to the north because one of their convoys came under fire in Gaza City.

And with the International Court of Justice saying that Israel must take immediate measures to provide humanitarian assistance in Gaza, it really calls into question whether they are adhering to this.

Katie Polglase, CNN, London.


CHURCH: Now to the growing international fallout over the death of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

It's been six days since he died suddenly at a penal colony in Siberia after a brief walk, according to the Russian prison service. Now the UK is slapping sanctions on six individuals from that prison, banning them from traveling to the U.K. and freezing their assets. Here's what Prime Minister Rishi Sunak had to say about Navalny.


RISHI SUNAK, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: He died for a cause to which he dedicated his whole life, freedom. And to return home knowing that Putin had already tried to have him killed is one of the most courageous acts of our time. Together with our allies, we are considering all options to hold Russia and Putin to account.


CHURCH: Later this week, the U.S. will unveil a new raft of sanctions against Russia intended to hold President Vladimir Putin accountable for his invasion of Ukraine and the death of Navalny.


MATTHER MILLER, U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESPERSON: It will be a robust sanctions package. We are always looking at additional ways that we can choke off the Russian war machine, that we can deny the Russian military-industrial complex components that it needs to use to fund its war effort. As well as to hold accountable those involved in it.


CHURCH: An independent human rights group reports some men detained while they were laying flowers for Navalny at vigils in St. Petersburg were handed military draft summonses.

Navalny's widow, Yulia Navalny, is vowing to continue her late husband's work and oppose Vladimir Putin's rule in Russia. CNN's Fred Pleitgen has this profile of an emerging political leader faced with a daunting task.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Using her late husband's catchphrase, a grieving Yulia Navalnaya has picked up the mantle of Alexei Navalny.

YULIA NAVANLAYA, ALEXEI NAVALNY'S WIDOW (through translator): I should not have recorded this video. There should be another person in my place.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): These the last images showing Navalny alive, smiling the day before his sudden death in an Arctic penal colony, which Russia says it's still investigating.

NAVALNAYA (through translator): Putin killed half of me, half of my heart and half of my soul. But the other half of me remains and it tells me that I don't have the right to surrender.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): Navalnaya for years avoided the political limelight.

But a glimpse of her strong character shone through as Alexei was poisoned in Russia in August 2020.


As she stared down the men keeping her away from her ailing husband in hospital. NAVALNAYA (through translator): We demand the immediate release of

Alexei Navalny, because right now in this hospital there are more police and government agents than doctors.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): Odessa Rae spent months working on a CNN documentary about that poisoning and grew close to the family.

ODESSA RAE, DOCUMENTARY PRODUCER AND FAMILY FRIEND: She was very strong from the minute I met her and she has the capacity to handle different situations with a lot of poise and strength. She just holds herself and holds that same belief for the future of Russia.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): Yulia remained an anchor of support for Alexei, never leaving his side as he recovered in a hospital in Germany, even returning to Russia with him despite the dangers.

A final kiss as he was taken into custody at the airport.

RAE: She's just one of the strongest women I have ever known, you know, to watch what she's gone through and to see her strength. It's an inspiration to everyone. I mean, I don't know many people like Yulia and Alexei.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): But since Alexei's death, it's only Yulia. And she's made clear she will continue his work challenging Vladimir Putin's iron fist rule over Russia.

NAVALNAYA (through translator): I thought long and hard if I should come up here or go and be with my children. I thought, what would Alexei have done in my place? And I'm sure that he would have been standing here on this stage.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Berlin.


CHURCH: We are learning new details about the dual U.S.-Russian citizen detained in Russia on treason charges. Russia's federal security services accused Ksenia Karelina of collecting money to buy medicine, equipment, weapons and ammunition for Ukraine. Her employer in Los Angeles says she donated $51 to a Ukrainian charity in the U.S.

Karelina's boyfriend says she was in Russia to visit relatives and was not a political person.


CHRIS VAN HEERDEN, KSENIA KARELINA'S BOYFRIEND: She's the light of the room. She's a very positive, very friendly, very happy, very funny girl that's got so much life in her. She is so alive, full of joy. And I tell you what, anybody that gets to speak to her falls in love with her because that's who she is. She's just a light. She sees she's so kind. She sees the good in everyone. Believe me, she's unbelievable. She's just -- she's unbelievable.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CHURCH: We go live now to London to CNN's Clare Sebastian. Good morning to you, Clare. So what more did Karolina's boyfriend have to say about her trip and the accusation of treason that she's now facing?

CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, good morning, Rosemary. We're learning, as you say, she's a 33-year-old resident of L.A. She was an aesthetician, according to her boyfriend, a semi-pro ballerina.

And how this all unfolded is that the two of them, he says, had traveled to Istanbul for New Year. And she had been a little bit homesick. She hadn't been home to Russia, to her native Yekaterinburg in several years.

And he bought her a ticket to go back home. Obviously, he's feeling pretty bad about that right now. But so she had flown home from Istanbul, flown back to Russia from Istanbul.

He had gone back to L.A. And she, it turns out, was immediately detained when she arrived back home in Russia. This suggests that people with U.S. passports are under intense scrutiny. And she was then released, interestingly.

She was released. He says they kept her phone, but let her go and see family, as was planned. And he says he then spoke to her two days before she was supposed to fly back home to the U.S. And he recounted that call to CNN's Brianna Keiler. Take a look.


VAN HEERDEN: She said, babe, it's all good. I spoke to them and they said I can come and get my phone and it's all good. And I remember the last hour before all of this happened was she was so excited and relieved that nothing is wrong and she can go home. And it was it was a Friday morning in Russia, which means it was Thursday night here. I went to bed and I woke up the next morning and I never heard back from her.


SEBASTIAN: So the sense we're getting from the profile that her boyfriend paints of her is that this was totally unexpected. She was not an activist. She was not a political person.


They never expected, and nor did she, for anything to happen like this when she went back home. And this, honestly, Rosemary, fits a pattern that we're seeing in an increasingly repressive Russia, that people who had no political leanings are increasingly falling afoul of various new laws to crack down on dissent, on anything that Russia might feel flies in the face of its goals, particularly in Ukraine. As of now, she has been remanded in custody.

She's had trouble getting a lawyer, according to her boyfriend. They're now collecting funds to try to pay for one. The State Department saying that they have not yet been granted consular access to her. Rosemary.

CHURCH: All right. Our thanks to Clare Sebastian joining us live from London with those details.

We'll take a short break. Still to come, a court hearing to decide whether WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange can appeal his extradition to the US has ended in London. We'll have details for you on that hearing.

Plus, Republican efforts to impeach the U.S. president have taken a big hit. Their reaction to the charges against a now discredited informant.


CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone.

The founder of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, is still waiting to find out if a London high court will give him permission to appeal his extradition to the United States. Supporters gathered outside the courthouse on Wednesday as judges wrapped up the final day of hearings without issuing a decision. Assange is wanted by U.S. authorities on 18 criminal charges for publishing classified military material in 2010 and 2011.

So let's bring in CNN's Max Foster, who joins us live from London. Good morning to you, Max. So what is the latest on the Assange hearing and what decision is expected to come out of this?

MAX FOSTER, CNN LONDON CORRESPONDENT: Well, it was just a couple of days of hearing, but very complex arguments. So the U.S. was having its chance to challenge a lot of what Assange has accused the U.S. of.

One of the moments that was being hinged on yesterday was this, whether or not Julian Assange could face a death penalty if he went to the United States. So a lot of his arguments around how he could die effectively by going to the U.S., either by taking his own life or by being assassinated by the CIA or indeed facing the death penalty when he gets there. So the judge was asking one of the U.S. lawyers, what is the risk of him facing the death penalty?

And the lawyer couldn't actually give an absolute guarantee, but said it would be against the spirit of the agreement that has been reached between the U.S. and the U.K. around this extradition.

So a lot for the judges to consider. So it didn't come straight out with a clear answer. And they've gone away to consider it. And it could take weeks, that process. And what they're considering is whether or not to throw all of Assange's arguments out and therefore begin the extradition process or indeed push ahead to another appeal hearing, in which case we'll go through it all again.


And Assange will be able to present some of the evidence that he claims he has, that there was a CIA plot out to get him when he was hiding out in the Ecuadorian embassy.

CHURCH: So, Max, talk to us about his wife has been out on the streets with supporters, talking to those who were gathering in support of him. Clearly, what is being said and what has been the reaction across Britain to this?

FOSTER: Well, she's very much making a point of this as a point of principle, that he was a journalist just doing his job in the public interest, releasing these classified documents, as she says, other journalists have done.

And he's being penalized unfairly for that. And there are protections for journalists in those sorts of situations. And so this and then the conspiracy theory about the CIA having this assassination plot has really resonated amongst conspiracy theorists.

So a lot of that discussion going on. I think it is a very strong, powerful group of supporters that Assange has. But if I'm perfectly honest, I'm not sure how much it resonates across the UK, because it is complex. There are conspiracy theories involved and people are lost in this. It's been going on for years.

CHURCH: We will, of course, continue to follow this. Our thanks to Max Foster joining us live from London. I Appreciate it.

Well, back in Washington, House Republicans are refusing to back off efforts to impeach US President Joe Biden, insisting there's still plenty of evidence he was involved in a bribery scheme, even though a key informant has now been discredited and charged with lying to the FBI.

CNN's Manu Raju reports.


MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Republicans defiant in the face of a damning indictment, charging an FBI informant of making up a bribery scheme involving President Biden and his son, Hunter. Allegations central to the impeachment probe into Biden and his family's business dealings.

RAJU: But your promotion of a bribery scheme was false.

REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH), HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: Not at all. We're looking at the four facts I just gave you. Those facts are true.

RAJU: Was it right to promote a bribery scheme for the president based on that?

REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): Today, we're asking questions to James Biden. So we're going to ask him about some of his business relationships with the child.

RAJU: Was your brother involved in any of your business dealings? RAJU (voice-over): Behind closed doors today, the president's brother,

James Biden, told House investigators that the president never had any involvement in his business activities, all as the GOP is at risk of seeing support for the impeachment effort collapse in the House since they have yet to prove that Biden acted corruptly to assist his family.

REP. JAMIE RASKIN (R-MD): I think it's time for Chairman Comer and the Republicans to fold up the circus tent.

RAJU (voice-over): After 43-year-old Alexander Smirnov was arrested on charges of lying to the FBI and creating false records, he told the FBI that officials associated with Russian intelligence were involved in the false Biden bribery allegations.

And today, special counsel David Weiss asked a judge to keep Smirnov in jail as he awaits trial. Yet it was Smirnov's allegations that Republicans ran with, citing an FBI form known as a 1023 that contained the unverified accusations.

KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA), FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Even a trusted FBI informant has alleged a bribe to the Biden family.

RAJU (voice-over): A key GOP chairman helping lead the probe, even calling it a smoking gun.

REP. NANCY MACE (R-SC): We already know the president took bribes from Burisma.

REP. JAMES COMER (R-KY): Those allegations are consistent with a pattern that we've seen in Romania and maybe some other countries.

RAJU (voice-over): And Chairman Jim Jordan indicating the informant's allegations were essential.

JORDAN: The most corroborating evidence we have is that 1023 form from this highly credible, confidential human source.

RAJU (voice-over): Today, Jordan downplayed that recent remark.

RAJU: You said the 1023 is the most corroborating piece of information you have.

JORDAN: It corroborates, but it doesn't change those fundamental facts.

RAJU: And it's not true.

RAJU (voice-over): Republicans today criticizing the FBI and DOJ for previously calling Smirnov credible and paying him for information as a circulated talking point, saying the Biden probe has secured more evidence and was not reliant on Smirnov's testimony, even as they removed a reference to the informant in a letter sent to a witness.

RAJU: But what evidence do you have of a bribery scheme now?

JAMES BIDEN, BROTHER OF JOE BIDEN: We've got lots of evidence. Yes.

RAJU (voice-over): Manu Raju, CNN, Capitol Hill.


CHURCH: U.S. President Joe Biden had some choice words for Vladimir Putin on Wednesday. While attending a fundraiser in San Francisco, Mr. Biden called the Russian president a crazy SOB while talking about threats facing the world today. The president also criticized Donald Trump, who recently compared his own legal troubles to the death of Alexei Navalny.

Mr. Biden told reporters in part, quote, "he's comparing himself to Navalny and saying that because our country has become a communist country, he was persecuted just like Navalny was persecuted.


If I stood here 10 to 15 years ago and said all this, you would all think I should be committed."

Well Ukrainians pledge to keep on fighting despite recent military setbacks. Still to come, we talk to soldiers who suffered heavy battlefield injuries but still want to go back to the front line.


CHURCH: Russia is trying to keep up the momentum in eastern Ukraine following its recent capture of the town of Avdiivka. CNN geolocated this video on Wednesday showing Russian troops hoisting a flag in a village about 30 kilometers to the southeast. Russia captured Avdiivka on Saturday after months of all out attacks.

But Ukraine says it's still holding on to areas recaptured last year, where Russia is also trying to advance. That includes this area in southern Ukraine, which Russia has been trying to overrun for weeks. Kyiv is also denying Russia's claim that it made gains against Ukraine's bridgehead on the left bank of the Dnipro River.

Ukraine will mark the second anniversary of the war this weekend, outmanned and outgunned by Moscow. Christiane Amanpour reports on the toll the war has taken on Ukrainians and on their will to keep fighting.


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR (voice-over): Snow falls softly on new recruits for the Ukrainian Army 3rd Assault Brigade.

Drill sergeants push them through their paces with urgent basic training for the trenches, urban warfare and assault maneuvers. Every woman and man counts now for a battle that seems to have returned to the dire days at the start.

28-year-old Serhii came back from Lithuania to serve two weeks ago despite his health.

AMANPOUR: What's wrong with you?

SERHII, UKRAINIAN ARMY RECRUIT: It's asthma. But right now we need to take our best men and no matter what I will serve my country until the victory.

AMANPOUR (voice-over): The brigade says it's training professional fighters, not cannon fodder like Russia.

Their soldiers helped evacuate survivors of the battle for Avdiivka, where Russia has now raised its flag. But many of their wounded were left behind.

Just watch this video call between a severely injured soldier Ivan and his panic-stricken sister Katerina.

IVAN, UKRAINIAN SOLDIER WHO IS SEVERELY INJURED (translated): Everyone left, everyone retreated. They told us that a car would pick us up.


I have two broken legs, shrapnel in my back. I can't do anything.

KATERINA, SISTER OF IVAN (translated): Are you there alone or what?

IVAN: There are six of us.

AMANPOUR (voice-over): Ivan and his comrades never made it. Ukraine says there was a deal Russia would evacuate them and exchange prisoners.

Instead, Russia released video of them dead.

The brigade says they were shot.

These are desperate times in Ukraine's fight to survive. They need to replenish the ranks of the dead and injured.

And even here at the Superhumans facility in the western city of Lviv, therapists and prosthetic specialists work around the clock giving these war amputees a second chance and even a return to the front lines.

25-year-old Anastasia Savka is an army sniper. She stepped on a landmine in November near the Zaporizhzhya front and she tells me they are scattered there like snowdrops in spring, like daisies in summer.

We couldn't get out for a long time because we were under very heavy fire, she tells me. To be honest, we were ready to die there. The attacks were so close and we were thinking this was the end.

Olga Rudneva is CEO of this center, which is supported by a Ukrainian businessman and the American philanthropist Howard Buffett. 80 percent of the patients are military, many of them multiple amputees.

And that's because, Olga says, the wounded cannot get out of the battle zone during the so-called golden hour to save their limbs.

OLGA RUDNEVA, CEO, SUPERHUMANS: People are evacuated for 10 hours by comrades very often because Russians are shelling our medics. So by the time they arrive at stabilization point, we have to cut them high because of the tourniquets. So that's why we have multiple amputations.

AMANPOUR (voice-over): Not only are they outmanned, they are also outgunned.

The gridlock in Congress over military aid is showing up at the front.

And time is not their friend.

We reach Sergeant Mikola, who's also serving now on the Zaporizhzhya front line. Do you have enough weapons?

AMANPOUR: Do you have enough people? Do you have enough ammunition?

AMANPOUR (voice-over): Of course we don't, he says. There is a catastrophic shortage of people, the same with weapons. There aren't enough shells for artillery and tanks or the tanks and artillery themselves.

On a brief hiatus in the rear, they've had to buy their own mortar, small caliber just for self-defense. Problem is, no ammunition.

Anastasia practices perfecting her balance, her endurance, regaining the strength to shoulder her weapons. And she wants to go back to the front.

I think anything is possible, she says. But whatever happens, we all need to fight this together, because the enemy is advancing.

No one wants their children to still be fighting the war they and their parents have been fighting ever since Putin's first invasion a decade ago.

Christiane Amanpour, CNN, Kyiv.


CHURCH: Now, to rare remarks from America's top diplomat about the U.S. presidential election. Antony Blinken was heard telling the Brazilian president during small talk that the U.S. is very polarized and most people have already decided who to vote for. Blinken is in Brazil for a G20 foreign ministers meeting that will resume in the coming hours.

Stefano Pozzebon picks up the story.


STEFFANO POZZEBON, JOURNALIST: In his visit to Brazil, the U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on Wednesday. The two discussed a variety of subjects spanning from economic cooperation to the energy transition and the organization of the G20 summit that will take place in Rio de Janeiro in November.

However, the situation in Gaza and the Ukraine and the international mediation around a peaceful resolution of these conflicts loomed large over the meeting. Blinken told Lula that the U.S. disagrees with some remarks that the Brazilian president made over the weekend comparing the situation in Gaza with the killing of Jews in Nazi Germany.

Blinken is in Brazil to participate in a foreign ministers meeting at the G20 that is setting up the larger presidential summit to be held in November. And the Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov is also in Rio de Janeiro to take part in the foreign ministers summit. It's the first time that the chief diplomats of the U.S. and Russia met since the death of Alexei Navalny in a penal colony in Russia last week.


However, it's unclear if the two will hold talks. These foreign ministers summits will continue on Thursday.

For CNN, this is Stefano Pozzebon, Bogota.


CHURCH: Tensions are high in Taiwan after an incident on Monday, where the Chinese Coast Guard boarded a tourist boat from Taiwan. And you can see the boat here being escorted by Taiwan's Coast Guard, who say the Chinese officers performed a forced inspection of the vessel and its crew. Taiwan officials say the incident has put the region on alert.

CNN's Marc Stewart joins me now from Beijing with more details. So Marc, what is the latest on this alarming incident?

MARC STEWART, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello there, Rosemary. It has actually been a very busy afternoon here in Beijing. As we sort through some new allegations from Chinese officials, Chinese officials are now accusing Taiwan of a cover up. And this all relates to an incident last week when we saw a Chinese boat capsized with several fishermen on board. In many ways, prompting that inspection that you just referred to.

We are hearing from a fisherman, a Chinese fisherman, who says that a Taiwanese boat hit the Chinese boat, rammed it, and that the boat just didn't turn over on its own. In fact, Taiwan's Coast Guard now responding, saying that the Chinese fisherman's vessel took a sharp turn, causing it to capsize. So we're hearing a lot of this back and forth. And that is what's prompting tension in this part of the world, off the coast, near the Kinmen Islands.

And that is what is perhaps prompting this most recent case, this inspection by Chinese officials of that Taiwanese boat.

It is prompting response, of course, from Taiwan, including Taiwan's Ocean Affairs Council. We heard from an official a short time ago. Let's take a listen.


KUAN BI-LING, HEAD OF TAIWAN'S OCEAN AFFAIRS COUNCIL (through translator): When Chinese boats cross into our waters, we know that these boats are not illegal at all, and they have just entered by accident. We would just broadcast warnings and hope that they leave immediately. So we think China boarding and inspecting our boat February 19th has harmed our people's feelings and triggered people's panic. It was also not in line with the interests of the people across the street.


STEWART: So tension, very high. In fact, amid these new allegations of this cover-up, Beijing is asking for Taiwan to severely punish people that were involved in the death of the two Chinese fishermen when that boat capsized. But Taiwan's Coast Guard right now, Rosemary, has no comment.

CHURCH; And Marc, what more are you learning about the visit of U.S. Representative Mike Gallagher and reaction from China?

STEWART: Right, Rosemary, this is another bipartisan delegation that is visiting Taiwan, much to China's ire.

The response that we heard today at a briefing with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is very much in line with what we have heard when other U.S. officials visit, with China saying that Taiwan is an inalienable part of China's territory, and it should really respect this notion of a one-China principle. Remarks that are very similar to what we have heard in the past, Rosemary.

CHURCH: Alright, our thanks to Marc Stewart bringing us the very latest from Beijing.

At least two people were killed when a cargo ship slammed into a bridge in China's Guangzhou province, snapping it in half. According to state media, two vehicles on the bridge fell into the water while three others landed on the ship. A rescue mission is underway for three people still missing.

Coming up, a deadly mine collapse in Venezuela. Why mining has become so dangerous in the South American country.





CHURCH: At least 15 people were killed Tuesday when this gold mine collapsed in southeastern Venezuela. That is according to the country's president, Nicolas Maduro. He says rescue operations are underway and that helicopters are helping to remove people. Maduro called the mine illegal recently. Other such informal mines have cropped up in the region, many of them run by criminal gangs, out of view of state regulators.

The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees says the war in Sudan is destroying the country and the international community is indifferent about it. But the people in Sudan are not only enduring a war, they're also battling hunger, disease and displacement in what the U.N. describes as, quote, "epic suffering."

CNN's Larry Madowo has details.


LARRY MADOWO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Sudanese armed forces celebrate as they advance in Omdurman, the twin city of the capital Khartoum. The army releasing these videos last week, seeing it as a win in its war against the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces.

In North Darfur, the agony of Sudan's children, the youngest victims of a war that has raged for 10 months.

This small clinic run by the aid group Doctors Without Borders in the Zamzam camp is the only one for miles. A child dies every two hours here, the agency says, as a war has led to catastrophic cases of malnutrition.

CHEICK TRAORE, EMERGENCY COORDINATOR, DOCTORS WITHOUT BORDERS: We have over 200 patients every day waiting for treatment. And they are not coming only within the camp, they are coming also from the surrounding area, seeking, looking for health care.

MADOWO (voice-over): They're overwhelmed, but these mothers and their children have nowhere else to go.

ASHIA ABUBAKER ADAM, DISPLACED SUDANESE MOTHER (through translator): We are out of everything, even wheat. Now we just get insignificant amounts of food to make it through the day. I have five children apart from this one.

MADOWO (voice-over): Sudan has the world's largest displacement crisis, the U.N. says, as 15 percent of the population have fled their homes. Humanitarian workers say it is not getting enough funding or attention.

MARY LOUISE EAGLETON, UNICEF'S DEPUTY REPRESENTATIVE FOR SUDAN: It feels like the country's really been abandoned and the children and the country's children have really been abandoned. What this means for families and children is that they're facing a lethal combination of displacement, hunger and disease outbreaks.

TOBY HOWARD, U.N. DEPUTY HUMANITARIAN COORDINATOR FOR SUDAN (DARFUR): It is arguably the biggest humanitarian crisis today. It is bigger than the other crises that get a lot more attention.

MADOWO (voice-over): Everything is in short supply in Sudan and the ceasefire appears unlikely. Those caught in the middle of another war worry and wait.

Larry Madowo, CNN.


CHURCH: More than 50 years after humans first set foot on the lunar surface, the moon is once again the target of a space race. Coming up, why so many nations and private companies are aiming for lunar landings.




CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. The head of Boeing's 737 MAX division has been replaced effective immediately, according to an internal memo obtained from the company. It comes amid intense scrutiny of the plane's production after a series of dangerous and sometimes deadly incidents involving the 737 MAX.

CNN's Pete Muntean has details.


PETE MUNTEAN, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Boeing is ejecting a key executive following last month's dramatic in-flight blowout on a nearly new plane.

ED CLARK, FORMER UNIT HEAD OF BOEING 737 MAX: Change had to happen.

MUNTEAN (voice-over): Ed Clark led the Boeing 737 MAX program following the two fatal MAX crashes that grounded the plane for months. Now Clark is the first Boeing leader to be shown the door after investigators found critical door plug bolts were not installed when a MAX 9 bound for Alaska Airlines left Boeing's factory last October.

JENNIFER HOMENDY, CHAIRMAN, U.S. NATIONAL TRANSPORT SAFETY BOARD: There is no way that this plane should have been delivered with four safety critical bolts missing.

MUNTEAN (voice-over): In a company-wide memo, Boeing commercial airplanes head Stan Deal says the change is effective immediately. The job of Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun is apparently safe after he insisted to lawmakers that his planes are too.

DAVID CALHOUN, CEO, BOEING: We fly safe planes. We don't put airplanes in the air that we don't have 100 percent confidence in.

MUNTEAN (voice-over): Boeing's latest move comes as scrutiny is only just beginning. Inspectors from the Federal Aviation Administration are on site at the 737 factory auditing quality control.

On Capitol Hill, the top senators overseeing aviation say Boeing executives must face public hearings.

UNKNOWN: We have a lot of questions about the manufacturing process.

UNKNOWN: Who screwed up, we don't know, but it's obvious somebody screwed up.

MUNTEAN: In axing one executive, Boeing promoted another to a new position overseeing quality control. The results of the FAA's audit of Boeing quality are due any day now.

Pete Muntean, CNN, Washington.


CHURCH: In a matter of hours, the lunar lander Odysseus will try to land on the moon. If successful, it would be an historic return to the lunar surface for the United States. More than 50 years after humans first set foot on the moon, it is once again the target of space exploration.

CNN's Michael Holmes reports on this new space race.


MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's been an odyssey for the U.S. to return to the moon, but NASA has high hopes that a lunar lander named Odysseus that launched into space last week can successfully navigate this epic journey.

On Thursday, the spacecraft, designed by Intuitive Machines, will attempt a soft landing on the moon, something a U.S. spacecraft hasn't successfully done since 1972. Those involved in building the lander say it's an exciting time.

MARKUS RUFER, CEO OF SCORPIUS: Of course, landing the craft will be the real story and the real breakthrough for all of us and for the industry, for I.M. and for the industry at large, because I think we are back in a race, you know, going back to the moon again.

HOLMES (voice-over): Another U.S.-built lunar lander, Peregrine, built by Astrobotic Technology, tried and failed to make a soft landing on the moon last month. It developed a fuel leak in space which prevented it from reaching its destination and burnt up when re-entering the Earth's atmosphere.

The two missions are part of a NASA program where private companies carry payloads of science and technology from the Earth to the moon, depositing equipment and conducting experiments on the lunar surface to help pave the way for NASA's planned crewed missions in the Artemis program. Space experts say it's a win for both NASA and the private sector.

SIAN CLEAVER, INDUSTRIAL MANAGER, AIRBUS DEFENCE AND SPACE: This is something new that we're doing. The last time we went to the moon, it was very much, as you say, nations on their own, but I think we've all recognized now that going to the moon, lunar exploration, going into space in general is huge and it takes more than just institutions to do that. We need to collaborate.


HOLMES (voice-over): So a lot is riding on Odysseus, not just because of Peregrine's problems, but also the growing number of countries with their own plans to explore the moon.

Last month, Japan became the fifth nation to successfully land on the moon, its robotic explorer, Moon Sniper, making a pinpoint landing just meters away from its target, although it was upside down.

HITOSHI KUNINAKA, DIRECTOR GENERAL OF ISAS/JAXA (through translator): A controlled soft landing was successful. We have confirmed that the landing site was 55 meters away from the target point, therefore we feel that the landing was a pinpoint landing with an accuracy of 100 meters. You can see the visual of the lander module.

HOLMES (voice-over): India's Chandrayaan-3 lunar lander touched down near the south pole of the moon last year.


HOLMES (voice-over): A first for any space program, which puts India at the forefront of exploring this strategic region that's full of craters and possibly water.

China is planning a new lunar lander mission, the Chong'e-6 in May, which aims to collect samples from the far side of the moon. If successful, this would be China's fourth time landing an uncrewed spacecraft on the moon.

Russia says it may move up the dates for a planned lunar lander mission after its Lunar 25 probe crashed into the moon last year.

Even after nearly 60 years of trying, landing on the moon is still full of challenges, as the Odysseus probe may soon find out.

Michael Holmes, CNN.


CHURCH: And if you're sick of life here on Earth, how about life on Mars? Well, now's your chance.

The U.S. space agency NASA is calling for applicants to join its second simulated mission to the red planet. Four volunteer crew members will live and work in a 3D printed Mars habitat for a full year. The project will give NASA a sense of how astronauts deal with the pressures and stresses of deep space.

The crew will grow crops, exercise and go on simulated spacewalks, and they'll deal with communications delays, equipment failures, limited resources and living in tight quarters. The bar for entry is pretty high, but it could prove to be the experience of a lifetime.

Thanks so much for your company. I'm Rosemary Church. Have yourselves a wonderful day. "CNN Newsroom" continues next with Max Foster.