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Zelenskyy: 31,000 Ukrainian Soldiers Killed in War; Hostage Talks to Resume Amid Cautious Optimism; Father of Slain Palestinian- American Teen Seeks Justice; Houthi Attacks Curtailing Commercial Shipping in Red Sea; White House Pushing for Passage of Ukraine Aid Bill; Mexico City Faces Severe Water Shortage Amid Low Rainfall. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired February 26, 2024 - 00:00   ET


MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello and welcome, everyone. I'm Michael Holmes. Appreciate your company.


Coming up here on CNN NEWSROOM, a rare admission in Ukraine. Volodymyr Zelenskyy reveals the toll of the war on soldiers as he presses for urgently needed U.S. aid.

Guarded optimism. Israeli hostage negotiations are set to resume in the coming hours. The White House says some contours of a deal have been agreed to. The challenges remain.

And Mexico City grapples with a severe water crisis. Why some experts warn it could run out of water by the summer.

ANNOUNCER: Live from Atlanta, this is CNN NEWSROOM with Michael Holmes.

Just days into the third year of Russia's war on Ukraine, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is warning that Moscow could attempt a new offensive in a matter of months.

The Ukrainian leader says his troops will prepare for that possibility, even as they face ongoing attacks, including a wave of strikes over the weekend. But Ukraine's efforts on the battlefield are being hampered by a diminishing supply of ammunition and weapons.

And Ukraine's defense minister says, as the fighting grinds on, half of Western arms deliveries to Ukraine, don't even arrive on time.

Now that aid, of course, is critical to Ukraine's fight, and it is stalled in the U.S. Congress by Republicans.

And on Tuesday, President Joe Biden is preparing to meet with the top four congressional leaders as the White House pushes for action. Zelenskyy expressing his frustration over the stalled aid as he spoke one-on-one with CNN's Kaitlan Collins.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Senator J.D. Vance, who was in Munich at

the security conference but didn't meet with you, he said that, even if you got the $60 billion in aid, it is not going to fundamentally change the reality on the battlefield. What's your response to that?

VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT: I'm not sure that he understands what went on here. And we don't need any rhetoric of -- from people who are not deeply in the, you know, in the war.

So to understand it is to come to the frontline to see what's going on, to speak with the people, then to go to civilians to understand what will be with them. And that what will be done without this support, and he will understand that millennials, people have been killed. Will be killed.

COLLINS: He doesn't understand it?

ZELENSKYY: Because he doesn't understand it. Of course, he -- God bless, you don't have the war on your territory.


HOLMES: And a rare admission from Zelenskyy on the human toll the war has taken on his country's military. The Ukrainian president said 31,000 Ukrainian soldiers have died in the war with Russia and disputed Russian claims of much higher casualty numbers.

He also said tens of thousands of civilians have died in territory occupied by Russian forces. CNN cannot independently verify those numbers.

CNN's Nick Paton Walsh is following developments and has more now from Zaporizhzhia in Ukraine.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Ukraine's president Volodymyr Zelenskyy using this first day of the third year of Ukraine's war to offer a tragic number for the first time, an official count of casualties in Ukraine's military since the start of this full-scale invasion.

WALSH (voice-over): Thirty-one thousand is the number he gave. I think it's fair to say that's less than some Western analysis has suggested might be the case, but it's also far less from what he said was the Russian casualty figure, about a fifth or a sixth of the number that Russia, he says, have indeed suffered.

And he also used this opportunity to due to, I think, sound a note of Ukrainian resilience, thanking families who've lost loved ones for the sacrifice that they've endured. But also to press frustration, if not even anger, frankly, at exactly how Western aid has been held up.

Indeed, what's so utterly key, what he was quite explicit in all quite condemning, but being disappointed in is the $60 billion that Congress won't even begin to think about voting on until later on next week. Here's what he had to say.

ZELENSKYY (through translator): We don't accept this finale to fight for our life. If Ukraine will lose, if it will be very difficult for us, if there'll be a big amount of victim depends on you, on our partners, on the Western world. It will be strong enough with weapons. We won't lose this war. We will win this war.

I have hope about the U.S. Congress, and I'm sure that it will be a positive solution. Otherwise, I don't understand which world in which we're living.

WALSH (voice-over): Zelenskyy really has a difficult job to do in all of the speeches he's been making around this anniversary, and he has to be clear that Ukraine thinks it can continue to fight without Western assistance at the $60 billion level it needs from the United States.

But he also has to sound the alarm that they really are struggling without that assistance. And I think today we saw a president probably, I think, without openly saying it --

WALSH: -- shocked that they're at this particular stage desperately waiting for the West to step in, but trying to suggest that Ukraine is able to move forwards and thanking those who've lost loved ones in the fight that they've had.


HOLMES: Nick Paton Walsh there.

Now, later on Monday, Hungarian lawmakers are expected to ratify Sweden's bid to join NATO, clearing the last obstacle for the Nordic nation to enter the military alliance.

On Friday, Hungary's nationalist prime minister, Viktor Orban, signaling his support for Sweden's membership after the two nations signed an arms deal.

Orban saying Hungary and Sweden had entered what he called a new phase of co-operation. Sweden applied for NATO membership along with Finland in May 2002 after Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Hungary had stalled the ratification vote for more than a year, but it's now expected to pass easily.

Russians in London are marking Saturday's two-year anniversary of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine by denouncing Vladimir Putin.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Putin, stop the war!

(END VIDEO CLIP) HOLMES: Around 250 people marched outside the Moscow embassy on Sunday, demanding Russian troops leave Ukraine and calling the Russian president's war a genocide.

It was a bold display of free speech against a leader who is ruthless in crushing dissent at home. One protester explaining why they marched.


DIMITRII MOSCOVSKII, PROTESTOR WITH RUSSIAN DEMOCRATIC SOCIETY: I can see many, many people behind me who joined us today. Most of them are Russians who oppose the Putin's regime, who have been opposing it for a long time. Some of them have been personally repressed in Russia. I myself was.

So I think that's a really important thing to do. A really important thing to continue speaking up against the war.


HOLMES: Protesters also honored Alexei Navalny, the Russian opposition leader who died in an arctic prison this month.

Now, talks are expected to resume in Qatar in the coming hours to try to secure the release of more hostages from Gaza in exchange for a pause in the fighting between Israel and Hamas.

A senior White House official says the negotiators have come to an understanding on the broad outline of a potential deal.

CNN's Jeremy Diamond with the details.


HOLMES: Obviously, an issue there with that report from Jeremy Diamond. We'll try to get it back for you.

Meanwhile, we're just learning that the Israeli military has presented a plan for evacuating civilians from the areas of fighting in Gaza. Just a short time ago, the Israel bailey prime minister's office said the IDF presented the war cabinet with a, quote, "upcoming operational plan."

But it did not mention the Southern city of Rafah in Gaza by name. That's where, of course, Israel has been planning that ground offensive.

CNN has not seen a copy of the plan as yet. More than a million and a half people are believed to be sheltering in the Rafah area, most of them displaced from other parts of the enclave.

All right. Let's go back to Jeremy Diamond's report now.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, there certainly does seem to be a guarded sense of optimism about the state of these negotiations from both Israeli and American officials in the wake of that summit in Paris that saw Israeli, American, Egyptian, and Qatari intelligence officials all getting together to try and move forward these negotiations, which if you remember last week were really at a standstill.

DIAMOND (voice-over): Jake Sullivan, the U.S. national security adviser, saying that negotiators in Paris appear to have reached an understanding on the contours of a potential deal.

The Israeli prime minister, for his part, not providing many details, but saying that he believes that a deal can be achieved, but saying that it rests on Hamas moving off of what he called their delusional demands.

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: Well, I'm not sure the exact duration, but I can tell you that we're all working on it. We want it. I want it. Because we want to liberate the remaining hostages. We've already brought half of them back.

And I appreciate the effort, the combined effort of Israel, the United States to bring back the remaining hostages. I can't tell you if will have it, but if Hamas goes down from its delusional claims and goes down and bring them down to earth. Then we'll have the progress that we all want.

DIAMOND: And there certainly does seem to be some momentum behind these negotiations. Israel is set to send a delegation to Doha, Qatar, on Monday to continue these negotiations.

We understand that these will be working-level officials working out some of the technical issues with this negotiation.

But even as these negotiations continue to advance, the Israeli prime minister is making it crystal-clear that he will move forward with a military offensive in Rafah if there is no deal.

We have heard from other members of the Israeli government that that offensive could come as soon as the beginning of Ramadan, which is the second week of March.

And the Israeli prime minister also making clear that he's in the process of reviewing plans for that offensive, as well as for the potential evacuation of civilians from that city. And that's a critical issue.

Of course, we have heard American officials talking about that abundantly. One and a half million Palestinians are currently sheltering in that Southernmost city of Gaza. So far, the Israeli government has yet to present any of its plans for how it will evacuate so many people from that area, how it will provide for them, shelter, food, et cetera, in other parts of the Gaza Strip.

These are all looming questions, of course, as these negotiations still continue,

Jeremy Diamond, CNN, Tel Aviv.


HOLMES: And again, just an update to Jeremy's reporting there, that we have heard that a plan has been presented to Israel's war cabinet and operational plan concerning Rafah, including how to get civilians out of the Rafah region.

When we hear more about that plan and any details of it, we'll be sure to bring it to you.

Now, the overall death toll in Gaza since the October 7 attacks on Israel is up to almost 30,000 people, according to Gaza's Ministry of Health, with at least 86 Palestinians killed in Israeli military operations just over the weekend.

CNN obtained new video showing the aftermath of those operations. A once prosperous neighborhood in Gaza, as you can see there, reduced to rubble.

The IDF says two of its soldiers, meanwhile, were killed in fighting on Saturday, bringing the total number of Israeli troops killed in Gaza to 239.

Now the death toll is also rising outside of Gaza. The Palestinian Ministry of Health says more than 400 Palestinians have now been killed in the occupied West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem since October 7, either by Israeli forces or settlers.

That would include three Palestinians killed in the Jenin refugee camp this past week, which the IDF confirmed as part of what they described as a counter-terrorism raid.

Now, our Nic Robertson met with the father of slain Palestinian- American teen Tawfic Abdel Jabbar, who was shot in the West Bank last month.

His father says the family is still struggling for answers and trying to bring the person responsible for his son's killing to justice.


HAFIZ ABDEL JABBAR, TAWFIC'S FATHER: So this dirt road, you see it.


JABBAR: Yes, this is where Tawfic was shot at.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): An American father, Hafiz Abdel Jabbar showing us his family land, where he says his son was murdered by an Israeli settler in January.

JABBAR: He wasn't going to do anything wrong. Simply a barbecue, Friday prayer, and come back home. And he's not a terrorist. He's an American-Palestinian kid full of life. He wanted to do so much in his life.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): His son, Tawfic, was 17 years old, studying towards his dream job, NASA engineer.

The family left Louisiana last spring, returning temporarily to their roots in the occupied West Bank. They visited their ancestral hilltop village home most years.

ROBERTSON: All around the village, there are murals of Tawfic remembered, immortalized. And underneath it says, "the smiling martyr."

ROBERTSON (voice-over): Tawfic's trauma increasingly common in the West Bank.

ROBERTSON: And this is getting worse since October 7th?

JABBAR: It's getting worse since October 7, way worse.

ROBERTSON: They're turning it more like into Gaza.

JABBAR: Exactly. They want to turn it to Gaza.

You see the bullet?


ROBERTSON (voice-over): A month after Tawfic's death, Hafiz is struggling to get justice. The single shot that killed his son, an exploding bullet entering the back of his head, clear in the CT scan of his brain.

Photos of the crime scene, and an investigation by the Palestinian Authority document ten shots.

Video shows what Hafiz says is soldier taking the final shot. An eyewitness says a settler took the first shot.


Israeli investigators say an off-duty police officer and an off-duty soldier were also present at the time of Tawfic's killing but have yet to charge any of them. They say the investigation is ongoing.

JABBAR: That's the problem that I'm facing right now, that we're all facing here. That when they do such a thing and they're not stopped, and they're not cautioned. It's OK for them to do it again and again and again. And that's what keeps happening here.

This is not the first kid that got shot and killed in that same area.

SARI BASHI, PROGRAM DIRECTOR, HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH: Since October 7, nearly 400 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli soldiers and Israeli settlers. There are currently 9,000 Palestinians being held in Israeli prisons and jails. ROBERTSON (voice-over): Sari Bashi is an Israeli human rights expert

living in the West Bank; has been tracking Israeli security force tactics there for more than a decade.

Hamas's brutal October 7 attacks, she believes, became a watershed for unprecedented Israeli violence in the West Bank.

BASHI: We have seen things piloted in Gaza and later moved to the West Bank in terms of the levels of violence, the airstrikes, the drones strikes in Gaza are starting to become much more frequent in the West Bank.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): And not just more aggressive and more frequent, but more audacious, too; not to mention possibly illegal, according to U.N. experts.

Like this covert Israeli Special Forces op in a hospital that killed three militants, believed to be planning an attack. The hospital says the men were sleeping when shot.

IDF diggers gouging up West Bank streets, rendering them unusable, akin to Gaza's battle-torn thoroughfares, also deepens fears the West Bank is worsening.

The impact of Israel's actions, according to respected Palestinian pollster Khalil Shikaki, is enabling groups like Hamas.

KHALIL SHIKAKI, PALESTINIAN POLLSTER: The West Bank is becoming more militant today than Gaza was before the war or today.

ROBERTSON: Because of what the Israeli government is doing here.

SHIKAKI: Because of what the Israeli government is do -- what the army is doing, and what the settlers are doing.

JABBAR: Why are we supporting such a regime like that?

ROBERTSON (voice-over): Hafiz is angry President Joe Biden isn't doing more to pressure Israel; to rein in radical settler leaders like security minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, whose party has called for the annexation of the West Bank.

The Israeli government maintains its military operations only target terror suspects, but settler violence has spiraled in recent months.

JABBAR: These officials on TV from the Israeli governments making these comments and passive acceptance (ph) from Ben-Gvir to these settlers, that's why they feel like they can do anything without being charged or without being stopped.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): Impunity that is ripping irreversibly through his family.

JABBAR: How can they forget their brother? Can they ever forget their brother? Can they ever figure out who shot their brother? No.

What I told my wife, I want to have another Tawfic, and I want to my older son to get married and have another Tawfic.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): Across the square from his family home that predates Israel's creation by more than 70 years, is the town cemetery --

JABBAR: Tawfic's.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): -- where Tawfic is buried. Feet from two of Hafiz's uncles, whom he says were killed by settlers 36 years ago.

JABBAR: That's a message to them, to the Israeli government. We're not going nowhere. Even if you put all of us right here, generations will come and free this country from you guys.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): Defiance, yes. But beneath it, a father struggling.

JABBAR: When do I see him again? When do I see my 17 years old again? When -- when do I get to see him again? That's -- that's the minute that I -- why now I think about. I don't think about money. I don't think about businesses anymore. I don't think about anything else other than when do I see my son again?

ROBERTSON (voice-over): Nic Robertson, CNN, the West Bank.


HOLMES: Well, Republicans and Democrats will hold primaries in Michigan on Tuesday, but all eyes will be on the GOP race.

Donald Trump, of course, won South Carolina's Republican primary on Saturday with nearly 60 percent of the vote, while rival Nikki Haley got just over 39 percent.


The influential Koch network says it will now stop donating to Haley's presidential bid and shift its focus to House and Senate races. Here's what the Republican governor of Texas predicts.


GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R-TX): You can see the trajectory that President Trump is on, and after defeating Nikki Haley so badly in South Carolina, he's on a pathway to win these other states, win Super Tuesday, and be able to have the nomination clinched by the middle part of March.

And listen, the party is far more unified behind President Trump at this particular time than it has been in any other race that he's had.


HOLMES: But Haley insists she is staying in the race through the multi-states' Super Tuesday voting on March the 5th. Just over a third of the delegates required for the presidential nomination is assigned on that day.

She also argues that her South Carolina vote total shows Republican support for Trump is not universal.


NIKKI HALEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You look at those first early states, they can say Donald Trump won. I give him that. But he, as a Republican incumbent, didn't get 40 percent of the vote of the primary.

He's not going to get the 40 percent if he is not willing to change and do something that acknowledges the 40 percent.


HALEY: And why should the 40 percent have to cave to him?


HOLMES: Results in Michigan's Democratic primary on Tuesday could help gauge President Joe Biden's handling of the Israel-Hamas conflict and his support among Arab-Americans and Muslims.

Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib is asking Democratic primary voters to select "uncommitted" rather than to vote for Mr. Biden, to protest U.S. support for Israel.

But state Governor Gretchen Whitmer told CNN's Dana Bash that is a dangerous strategy.


GOV. GRETCHEN WHITMER (D-MI): Any vote that's not cast for Joe Biden supports a second Trump term. A second Trump term would be devastating, not just on fundamental rights, not just on our democracy here at home, but also when it comes to foreign policy. This was a man who promoted a Muslim ban.

This is, I think, a very high-stakes moment. I'm encouraging people to count asked an affirmative vote for President Biden. I understand the pain that people are feeling. And I'll continue to work to build bridges with folks in all of these communities, because they're all important to me. They're all important to Michigan. And I know they're all important to President Biden, as well.


HOLMES: Still to come here on CNN NEWSROOM, the U.S. and U.K. are striking at Houthi targets, trying to protect commercial shipping in the Red Sea. Why some White House officials worry that it's not working. We'll have that when we come back.


[00:25:00] HOLMES: Some U.S. officials admit that American and British strikes on Houthi targets in Yemen are not stopping the attacks on commercial shipping in the region.

Fighter jets from the U.S. and U.K. hit more than a dozen Houthi targets over the weekend. U.S. Central Command releasing this video showing the flight deck of the U.S.S. Eisenhower aircraft carrier during the strikes.

The U.S. defense secretary issued a warning, saying the Houthis, quote, "will bear the consequences" if the attacks on ships continue.

But others at the Pentagon acknowledge that so far, the use of force alone has not been enough.

Hisham Al-Omeisy is a conflict analyst and senior advisor with the European Institute of Peace. He joins me now.

And good to see you, Hisham.

The U.S. and others, like Britain and France, they're carrying out what seems like a lot of military strikes on the Houthis, but the attacks keep on coming. Are the Houthis more resilient than previously thought?

HISHAM AL-OMEISY, CONFLICT ANALYST/SENIOR ADVISOR, EUROPEAN INSTITUTE OF PEACE: To be honest with you, we knew there were resilient. The Houthis have withstood wars between 2004, 2009. Six wars in Yemen. And in addition to a relentless Saudi-led campaign that was backed by the U.S. since 2015. So they are resilient.

The thing is, I think we underestimated how much of a resolve they have. Their capture on this opportunity to advance their own goals. And they desperately needed this. So we underestimated that.

The Houthis are going to milk this. They want this. And they'll continue to do so, despite how many bombs we throw at them.

HOLMES: And let's expand on that, because it's interesting. I mean, given that the Houthis say they're acting in support of Palestinians in Gaza, opposing Israel's war there. What are they getting out of their actions in terms of regional support? Not from governments, but from the Arab street, the people.

And how would they leverage that for their own benefit? I mean, I heard you say once that they have ridden a wave of discontent.

AL-OMEISY: Well, that's the thing, is that they're capitalizing on this wave of discontent with how the regional powers and the international community in large, how they've dealt with Gaza.

And they've been getting this immense support locally, regionally, and internationally. They have captured this opportunity to expand their outreach and support and also an opportunity to expand their reach.

They have now people -- recruitment drive, for instance, it's not just local. Now, it went regional.

And of course, always have to remember Iran's interests in the mixes, as well, and try to -- for Iran, this is a low-cost, indirect fight where they are also advancing their goals. And also for the Houthis, they are pushing back against the Yemeni government. They are pushing back against the many elements and distracting from the many issues that are basically hindering their expansion and sending all these recruits, new recruits, to fighting fronts to capture more territory inside the country.

HOLMES: Yes, and further on the mood on the Arab street, I mean, civilians in the region, how threatened are governments or regimes by that mood within their own country? The perception perhaps that, you know, Arab governments aren't doing enough and for years haven't done enough to support the Palestinian cause. Does it make those governments nervous?

AL-OMEISY: Oh, they do. I mean, there have been, if you've been watching the news, that being cracking down on any level of protest or show of support within their areas, within their own countries, and within their own constituencies; because this has the potential to explode.

A lot -- a lot of people in the Arab world and European countries, as well -- even here in the U.S. -- are not happy with what's happening in Gaza.

And the Houthis know this, and this is the reason why they're capitalizing on that; why they're trying to weaponize those grievances to kind of channel that towards supporting the Houthis.

And I'm honestly also worried about the radicalization process that is happening in real time now. The Houthis are enhancing their narrative. It's -- it went from being anti-colonial, anti-imperialist movement to basically one that is the vanguard of the Muslim in the Arab nation.

And now they're pitching the whole West -- They're demonizing the West and pitching them as the enemy of the Muslim, the modern Muslim nation. And that's actually a very dangerous narrative. That's how Al Qaeda and ISIS and other extremist groups started.


AL-OMEISY: And then we have to deal with the ramifications of that.

HOLMES: I was -- I was just going to say that that's reminiscent of how ISIS got off the ground.

I mean, when we talk about that mood, just -- just quickly, I mean, actions, of course, can have unintended consequences. What sort of miscalculation by anyone in this game could lead to rapid escalation that really no one wants?

AL-OMEISY: Well, the Houthis and the Iranians, they've been -- basically, their attacks have been measured. They have not gone all out yet, despite what everybody thinks. [00:30:09]

So if they increased the intensity of the attacks, if they dare and bombed a U.S. base or U.S. targets, that will basically explode the situation in the region.

But the thing is, you have to remember that the Iranians for the past two weeks, they have been intensifying their efforts, their technology transfer there. Also officers, sending them to Yemen.

So we are getting close to that point, the point of no return.

HOLMES: Yes, very worrying what could be down the road.

Hisham Al-Omeisy, thank you so much. I really appreciate it.

AL-OMEISY: Thank you for having me, my cousin (ph).

HOLMES: More to come on CNN after the break, including a look at the status of U.S. aid to Ukraine and an upcoming push from the White House to get assistance passed in Congress.



HOLMES: U.S. aid for Ukraine will take center stage in Washington this week as the House returns from recess on Wednesday.

President Joe Biden will meet with congressional leaders Tuesday. Talks and will include the House speaker, Mike Johnson, who has refused to bring a Senate bill that includes $60 billion for Ukraine, even up for a vote.

CNN's Priscilla Alvarez with more.


PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: The White House is ratcheting up pressure on House Republicans to pass $60 billion in additional aid to Ukraine --

ALVAREZ (voice-over): -- saying that the country faces a dire situation and is running low on ammunition.

National security adviser, Jake Sullivan, taking it a step further on Sunday and calling on House Speaker Mike Johnson to take it up and take it up immediately.

JAKE SULLIVAN, U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: Well, the reality is that Putin gains every day that Ukraine does not get the resources it needs. And Ukraine suffers.

And there is a strong bipartisan majority in the House standing ready to pass this bill if it comes to the floor. And that decision rests on the shoulders of one person. And history is watching whether Speaker Johnson will put that bill on the floor. If he does, it will pass. We'll get Ukraine what it needs for Ukraine to succeed.

If he doesn't, then we will not be able to give Ukraine the tools required for it to stand up to Russia, and Putin will be the major beneficiary of that.

ALVAREZ (voice-over): Now the White House asked for the $60 billion in additional aid last year. And since then, President Biden has repeatedly framed this as not only support for Ukraine, but also imperative for U.S. national security.

And in recent days, White House officials have linked losses on the battlefield in Ukraine to congressional inaction, with President Biden warning that it is not out of the question for this to continue to happen if that aid isn't given to Ukraine.


ALVAREZ: Of course, the White House is limited in what it can do, meaning that they are going to continue this pressure for the days to come.

In the interim, though, the president in private conversations with U.S. allies -- allies, reaffirming U.S. support for Ukraine.

Priscilla Alvarez, CNN, the White House.


HOLMES: Mexico City residents struggling amid severe water shortages, with experts warning the region could run out of drinking water in the coming months. We'll have that after the break.



HOLMES: Thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of Sao Paolo on Sunday to show support for former President Jair Bolsonaro. He's facing an investigation into an alleged coup attempt after he lost the 2022 election.

Last year, Brazil's highest electoral court barred Bolsonaro from running for political office until 2030. The court said he abused his power and misused public media during the 2022 campaign.

Mexico City, one of Latin America's largest cities, is facing a severe water crisis. The city is struggling to cope after years of low rainfall blamed on climate change, chaotic urban growth, and outdated infrastructure.

Now authorities have introduced significant restrictions on water pumped from reservoirs. Gustavo Valdes with the details.


GUSTAVO VALDES, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Lorena Cruz (ph) knows she's breaking the law every time she pulls water from these underground reservoirs.

She says it is a miracle the city tank has water; and without it, the whole neighborhood would suffer, because they've got no running water for over a month. And the city, she says, still wants them to pay for the service.

Lorena and her neighbors are not the only ones struggling to find water for their basic needs. All 21 million residents in Mexico City's metropolitan area are experiencing shortages, in part because of a severe drought.

Mexico's capital gets its water from two sources: a system of reservoirs, known as Cutzamala; and underground aquifers.

Raul Rodriguez Marquez, director of the Consejo Consultivo del Agua, a civic organization promoting water conservation, says the reservoirs are at historic low levels, well below 40 percent capacity. And the aquifers are over extracted.

Part of the problem has been drier than normal rain season that typically run from May to August. And experts say the situation can worsen for the city, built over a lakebed before the Spaniards arrived five centuries ago.

Some experts warn the city could run out of water this summer on what is being called Day Zero.


Mexico's president, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, dismissed those claims, calling them an attempt from the opposition to influence the presidential election in June and said his government is working to get more water to the city.

The city's mayor assured residents that the water supply is guaranteed.

But frustrated residents have taken to the streets in protest, and many neighborhoods depend on water delivered by trucks. Some paid by the government, many paid by local residents.

Maria Menia Colin (ph) say each truck costs about $200, and it's just enough for 20 days of water for a handful of families, if they use it wisely and recycle, like using water from washing dishes to flush toilets.

But the lack of rain is not the only reason experts say Mexico City is suffering from water shortages. A study by Universidad Autonoma de Mexico shows that 40 percent of the water supply is lost due to leaks. Some because of breakage of pipes during the frequent earthquakes. Some because the city still relies on pipes over 100 years old.

Rodriguez Marquez says that, instead of investing to improve the infrastructure, the money spent on water projects has decreased for many years. VALDES: We contacted CONAUGUA, Mexico's national water management

agency, and they declined our request for an interview. They also declined to answer the written questions we submitted about the water supply levels and the state of the infrastructure.

VALDES (voice-over): For now, the government will continue to ration distribution and continues to call on its citizens to conserve the precious liquid, forcing residents to patiently wait for water to come their way or get what they need wherever they can.

Gustavo Valdes, CNN, Atlanta.


HOLMES: Scientists in Australia say they've found a black hole so large that it eats the equivalent of one sun per day, and it's powering a quasar, astronomers -- that say may be the brightest known object in the universe.

According to the new study, the black hole is a mass of about 17 billion times larger than the Earth's sun. Next hour, we'll be talking to one of the scientists involved in that study. So stick around for that.

And thanks for spending part of your day with me. In the meantime, I'm Michael Holmes. You can follow me on X and Instagram, @HolmesCNN. WORLD SPORT is next. I'll see you in about 15 minutes or so with more news.