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Pledges Of New Support For Ukraine At NATO Summit; Biden Aims To Calm Concerns About His Re-election Chances; U.S. Pier Delivering Aid To Be Permanently Removed Next Week; Biden Hails Alliance, Its Support for Ukraine; Russian Court Orders Arrest of Yulia Navalnaya in Absentia; European Rocket Flight Ends Early Due to Anomaly; U.S. Air Force's Gunship Takes Part in South Korea Drills. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired July 10, 2024 - 02:00   ET




ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN INTERNATIONAL 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. The NATO Summit kicks off in Washington with new pledges of air defenses for Ukraine one day after a devastating attack on a children's hospital in Kyiv.

And Democrats in the U.S. Congress meet to discuss President Biden's political future, what they're saying about his chances for reelection. Plus.




CHURCH: CNN gets exclusive access inside the U.S. gunship as it demonstrates its firepower during military exercises with South Korea.

ANNOUNCER: Live from Atlanta, this is CNN NEWSROOM with Rosemary Church.

CHURCH: Good to have you with us. NATO leaders. We'll get down to business in the day ahead as they mark the Alliance's 75th anniversary at a summit in Washington. U.S. President Joe Biden is welcoming members with a strong message of support for Ukraine. On Tuesday, he announced plans to supply Kyiv with new air defenses. And while he didn't address Donald Trump directly, Mr. Biden warned against those who might walk away from the alliance, something his Republican opponent has clearly suggested in the past.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our friends, it's good that we're stronger than ever. Ukraine can and will stop Putin. Especially with our full collective support they have our full support. Americans, they know we're stronger with our friends. And we understand this is a sacred obligation.


CHURCH: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is also in Washington where he spoke Tuesday on the sidelines of the NATO Summit. He says he hopes U.S. policy towards Ukraine will not change if Trump becomes the next president.


VOLODYMR ZELENSKYY, PRESIDENT OF UKRAINE: Everyone is waiting for November. Americans are waiting for November, in Europe, Middle East, in the Pacific. It's time to sit out -- to step out of the shadows to make strong decisions work to act and not to wait for November or any other months to this end. We must be strong and uncompromising. All together and first of all, America and first of all, the leaders of America and the President of the United States as the leader of the free world to be uncompromising in defending democracy. Uncompromising against Putin and his coterie, uncompromising to every possible terror.


CHURCH: Mr. Biden's speech at the NATO summit was not only a message to world leaders, but also members of his own party that he is capable of four more years as president. CNN's Kayla Tausche reports.

KAYLA TAUSCHE, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: After more than a week of post-debate damage control and more than 36 hours of sprinting to shore up support among his party, President Biden stepping publicly out onto the world stage to hail a NATO alliance that he says is stronger than ever.


BIDEN: Let's remember, the fact that NATO remains the bulwark of global security did not happen by accident. It wasn't inevitable. Again and again at critical moments we chose unity over disunion. Progress over retreat, freedom over eternity, hope over fair, again and again we stood behind our shared vision of a peaceful and prosperous transatlantic community.


TAUSCHE: That message delivered as much to autocrats around the world as to Biden's political opponents here at home. Former President Donald Trump simply shrugged on the debate stage last month when President Biden asked him whether he would withdraw from the alliance that has banded together and expanded to 32 members to help Ukraine defend itself against Russia. But now it's President Biden that finds himself on the defense after a debate performance that left his party reeling and soul searching with many prominent party members discussing whether the top of the ticket needs to be changed.

And while Biden did receive some high-profile support from some critical blocks of lawmakers there are still some members of his party who want to see more.


They need more evidence. White House officials for their part are placated by Biden's performance in his NATO speech, saying that he hid his marks and that it was delivered as planned. There's some high moments including when he delivered the Medal of Freedom to outgoing NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. Even so, members of President Biden's party are focused on one more event this week and that is a press conference where President Biden unscripted will have to take questions from the domestic as well as the Global Press.

Kayla Tausche, CNN, the White House.

CHURCH: The NATO Summit began just a day after the deadly strike on a children's hospital in Kyiv, which the United Nations says was very likely done by Russia. The U.N.'s assessment downplays the idea that an intercepted weapon may have caused the blast. And Volodymyr Zelenskyy agrees saying Russia always knows where its missiles hit always. The attack damage the hospital's intensive care, surgical and oncology wards.

Killing at least two people and injuring 16 others including seven children. It was part of a widespread Russian aerial assault across Ukraine. At least 43 people were killed throughout the day Monday. Germany and Slovakia have agreed to care for some of the sick children who are now left without a functional hospital. Ukraine's Prime Minister says the facility will be completely rebuilt. Immediately after the attack, volunteers rushed to help to clear rubble and to show solidarity.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): It's not a special talent that made me go and get the gloves. There were many people trying to clean up the rubble. They didn't care whether they weren't gloves or not, whether they were in masks or not.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Not only our shop, but all of Kyiv show to what extent people are ready to help. They didn't do less. Thousands of people came to bring food, beverages and meds.


CHURCH: CNN's Frederik Pleitgen shows us the aftermath of the attack.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): This is the exact impact site where that missile hit and you can see that it's completely flattened part of that building, which is of course, the largest children's hospital here in Ukraine and one of the largest in Europe sustaining major damage. Behind me, it's evidence to see that the floors here just completely got obliterated and all that's left over is rubble right now. Now the Ukrainians say that the death toll currently stands at two, while dozens of people have been wounded in this attack. They say one of the fortunate things that happened is there was a missile alert. And the staff of the children that were being treated here actually got evacuated to a bomb shelter. The staff that immediately came out and started sifting through the rubble. Now all of this is currently a cleanup operation.

But you can see just how powerful that blast must have been. This is one of the floors of that building. And here it's evident that it just flat pack down. Those are some of the supporting beams. And the Ukrainian say that there will be a response to this. The Russians claim this might have been a stray Ukrainian interceptor that hit the building. The Ukrainians having none of it, saying it was a Russian missile saying this is an attack on Ukraine's healthcare system, and also on Ukraine's children.

And if we look over here, you can see this whole complex was damaged by it. That's another building here as well. And clearly the facade sustained major damage.


CHURCH: David Sanger is a CNN political and national security analyst. A New York Times White House and national security correspondent and the author of New Cold Wars: China's Rise Russia's Invasion and America's Struggle to Defend the West. He joins me now from Washington. Great to have you with us.


CHURCH: So, Joe Biden took to the world stage in our high stakes moment for the U.S. president. Standing up against Vladimir Putin while also fighting for his own political survival. With the sight shining so bright on Mr. Biden. Did -- on U.S. leadership that we're looking for when it comes to NATO unity and Ukraine's future do you think?

SANGER: Well, they certainly got a strong U.S. speech given by a president who has made NATO and NATO's success and unity a central part of his presidency. And to some degree of his campaign platform. The President would have had a much stronger voice today that rasping this was gone. He was reading the speech from a teleprompter, but he made no errors. Of course, when you're doing it from a teleprompter, you're not going to wander off into a strange direction the way he did 12 days ago in the debates.

But did they get strong leadership from the U.S.? And the answer to that, we won't know until November 5th.


Because on there are issues on which you could describe Biden and Trump has having shades of difference. But when it comes to NATO, they are in polar opposite camps with Biden, believing that the United States is strengthened by its alliances, that it's not a burden, even if we're paying the lion's share of the NATO budget and we no longer are. Or you believe what Trump believes, which is America should just withdraw to its own borders.

Put up significantly bigger walls. And if anyone comes and messes with you, you whack them. But alliances are not central to his view.

CHURCH: And of course, those same NATO members were also there to ensure President Biden was on track to leave the U.S. and indeed the world for the next four years. Is that what they saw a man who was able to do that?

SANGER: Well, the problem with the President faces right now is we're all projecting what is he going to be like at age 82 or 83 or 84? He's actually be 86 by the time he left office at the end of the second term. And I think that's what's sort of haunting him. Whenever he is as the forward-looking question. He or his aides give a backward- looking answer, which is to say, look at the record. Look what we've done so far, we've beaten back the Russians.

As he said the other day, we've checkmated China. I'm not sure we've checkmated China, but but in any case, certainly pushed back on China. And that NATO would fall apart without Biden there. And while all of that you can argue each one of them, but let's say for argument's sake, that you accept each one of those, it doesn't tell you what he'd been conditioned to do in two years' time.

CHURCH: And David, CNN reported Monday that a draft NATO communique describes Ukraine's path to the alliance is irreversible. But not all the allies are on board with using such strong language. What's at the heart of that debate? And what do you think the end result will actually be?

SANGER: Well, I think the end result will be the use of the word irreversible from talking to people who've been involved in the drafting. Do I think that means very much? No. It's a another strengthening of the commitment to Ukraine, that one day, which we will not describe, by date and time, Ukraine will become part of the NATO alliance. And of course, what President Zelenskyy wants is a date and a time. Give us a target. Tell us what we need to do to get there.

And we'll get there. And the reason that no one wants to do that or particularly President Biden and Chancellor Olaf Scholz of Germany don't want to do it, is they don't want to commit to getting the Ukrainians into the alliances and a moment that they are still at war with Russia, because that could commit the rest of the alliance and American and German troops to go into the actual conflict.

And you can see the escalation issues there wouldn't necessarily require that but it might. And so that's their hesitant. And of course, this is driving Zelenskyy wild because he's thinking to himself, well, the Russians haven't invaded any country that's already in NATO. They wouldn't dare. So obviously, that's where he thinks he needs to be.

CHURCH: David Sanger, thank you so much for joining us. Always appreciate your analysis.

SANGER: Great to be with you.

CHURCH: Optimism about an Israel-Hamas ceasefire hostage release deal is waning as Israeli military action in Gaza ramps up. The Palestinian health ministry says at least 25 people were killed and more than 50 others wounded in an Israeli airstrike on a school in Khan Younis. The IDF says it was targeting a terrorist accused of taking part in the October 7th attack. But Gaza officials say the school housed displaced people.

Israel's military says it's looking into reports that civilians were harmed. And in the occupied West Bank the Israeli military says it destroyed dozens of explosive devices during a 15-hour operation. Video shows damage throughout the North Shams refugee camp after Israeli forces bulldoze buildings and dug up roads. Meanwhile, the U.S. is set to permanently remove the floating pier off the coast of Gaza as soon as next week.


It was being used to deliver lifesaving humanitarian aid to the Enclave, but had been plagued by rough seas forcing it to stop operating multiple times. The U.S. CIA director is in Doha, Qatar to continue talks on a potential Gaza ceasefire and hostage deal. Bill Burns will meet with Qatar's Prime Minister, the head of Israel's spy agency and the head of Egyptian intelligence. Burns discussed the negotiations with Egypt's president in Cairo on his way to Qatar.

The spokesman for the U.S. State Department offered this update on the talks.


MATTHEW MILLER, UNITED STATES STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESPERSON: I do think it's important to note that civilian casualties have come down dramatically over the past few months from the really catastrophic levels that they were at earlier this year. And of course, late last year, but we want to see civilian casualties completely go away. And that is why we are pushing so hard.

Have people in the region right now working to try to achieve a ceasefire that would secure the release of hostages that would alleviate the suffering of the Palestinian people, that would allow us to surge humanitarian assistance in. And ultimately, we believe would set the conditions for the end of the war. That's what we've been focused on and what's what we're spending all of our time trying to get over the finish line.


CHURCH: When we come back, Democrats in the U.S. Congress discuss President Joe Biden's political future. What they're saying about his chances of winning reelection. Back with that and more in just a moment.


CHURCH: Three Democratic senators are expressing doubts about U.S. President Joe Biden's political future. Michael Bennet of Colorado tells CNN he doesn't think Mr. Biden can win reelection. A source says Sherrod Brown of Ohio and John Tester of Montana told colleagues the same and by all accounts opinion in the House is split as well.

CNN's Manu Raju reports.


MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Joe Biden is putting Democrats in a jam.

REP. RITCHIE TORRES (D-NY): If the president declines to leave voluntarily, then he's going to be our nominee. And we have to make the best of a complicated situation. I think I'm viewing it pragmatically.

RAJU (voice-over): Some resigned to support President even they fear he may lose to Donald Trump.

REP. SEAN CASTEN (D-IL): The stakes of this are about what is the future for our country in two different scenarios. And I think there's a lot of concern about will we be able to have that conversation in this media environment? But my God, that's the conversation we have to have.

RAJU (on camera): Do you support keeping him at the top of that ticket, Biden?

CASTEN: That's --

RAJU (voice-over): In their first in-person meeting today since Biden's debate debacle, House and Senate Democrats aired out their grievances and left with no consensus.

REP. MARC VEASEY (D-TX): My concerns or the concerns that everybody -- that everybody has -- what I said this morning and express to my colleagues particularly for members on the front line is that I think they need to do whatever it is they need to do in order to come back and be reelected. And so, if they need to, you know, distance themselves and then that's what they need to do.


RAJU (voice-over): Yet some like Congressman Jerry Nadler now say they are on board with Biden, despite privately calling for a change on Sunday.

REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY): He made very clear he's going to run. He's got an excellent record where most existential presidents of the last century. Trump would be an absolute disaster for democracy. So, I'm enthusiastically supporting Biden. RAJU (on camera): What did you say on that call on Sunday?

NADLER: I'm not going to comment on what I said on a private call.

RAJU (voice-over): Several Democrats pointedly refused to say that they supported keeping Biden atop the ticket.

RAJU (on camera): (INAUDIBLE) do you support keeping Biden as your nominee?


RAJU (on camera): Do you support keeping Biden at the top of the ticket?


RAJU (on camera): Do you think that Biden just stays your nominee?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I love that tie.

RAJU (voice-over): Biden has one strong support from senior members of the Congressional Black Caucus.

REP. MAXINE WATERS (D-CA): All I can tell you is I am a big supporter of Biden, when other people would believe that he's going to lose I am going to work as hard as I can for him. Biden is going to win -- the team Biden-Harris is going to win, win, win.

RAJU (voice-over): In the Senate Democrats like Patty Murray, raising deep concerns about Biden's viability while some standing firmly by him, including Bob Casey facing a tight race in battleground Pennsylvania.

RAJU (on camera): Do you support keeping Biden at the top of the ticket?

SEN. BOB CASEY (D-PA): Or I've said so, numerous times. You heard my remarks over a week ago in Scranton.

RAJU (on camera): The other concerns that he could sink vulnerable Democrats like yourself. What do you say to that?

CASEY: I'll leave that to the pundits.

RAJU (voice-over): Following an intense afternoon meeting with Senate Democrats Chuck Schumer, Senate Majority Leader would only save this about Biden.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): I'm with Joe. I'm with Joe. As I've said before, I'm with Joe.


CHURCH: Our thanks to mana Raju for that report. Well, former U.S. President Donald Trump is ramping up campaigning with less than a week to go for the Republican National Convention. He held a rally in Florida along with Senator Marco Rubio, a potential V.P. pick, as he continues to build up suspense on who will be his running mate. During the rally Trump took aim at Joe Biden seizing on the turmoil currently gripping the Democratic Party.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Let's do another debate this week so that sleepy Joe Biden can prove to everyone all over the world that he has what it takes to be president. But this time it will be man to man no moderators, no holds barred. Just name the place anytime, anywhere. I'm also officially challenging tricky Joe to an 18-0 golf match right here.


CHURCH: He also slammed Vice President Kamala Harris as some Democrats call on Mr. Biden to step aside from the 2024 rays and float Harris as a potential successor. Well, meantime, Vice President Kamala Harris is raising the alarm of a Project 2025. The initiative is a conservative group sweeping plans for the next Republican presidency. As CNN's Tom Foreman reports Donald Trump is distancing himself from the controversial proposal.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As much as the attack on the capitol as much as a Donald Trump rally, Project 2025 has become a call to arms for Republicans.

KEVIN ROBERTS, PRESIDENT, HERITAGE FOUNDATION: We are in the process of the Second American Revolution, which will remain bloodless if the left allows it to be.

FOREMAN: And for Democrats.

REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): But I see this as basically a continuation of the work of January 6, they're basically picking up where the insurrection is left off.

FOREMAN (voice-over): Project 2025 is the Heritage Foundation's plan for implementing strictly conservative policies as soon as the next GOP president is elected. In more than 900 pages, hundreds of conservative contributors propose putting the Justice Department entirely under the President's control, which critics fear could unleash Donald Trump's open desire to take revenge on political foes.

TRUMP: Look, when this election is over, based on what they've done, I would have every right to go after them. And it's easy because it's Joe Biden.

FOREMAN (voice-over): The plan calls for even further restrictions on abortion rights, wanting every elected Republican and state or federal government to "push as hard as possible to protect the unborn in every jurisdiction." A notion President Joe Biden is tagging hard onto his challenger. BIDEN: This Project 2025 plan will restrict access to birth control, restricting access to birth control. I'm fighting to protect reproductive freedom.

FOREMAN (voice-over): But there is much more. Project 2025 would expand the military in the name of defense and dismantle the Department of Homeland Security in the name of savings. It calls federal civilian employees largely underworked, over compensated and unaccountable and wants thousands of those nonpartisan government jobs given to Republican loyalists.


REP. TED LIEU (D-CA): This document is creepy. It's a takeover of the American form of government and it's a collection of extreme MAGA ideas that's going to ruin our way of life.

FOREMAN (voice-over): The plan pushes tax breaks for churches and church schools goes after health agencies which backed "un-American mask and vaccine mandates," and says pornography should be outlawed. And while it does not define porn, it says even librarians caught with it should be registered as sex offenders.

PAUL DANS, DIRECTOR, PROJECT 2025: We are historic movement of the conservative coalition coming together to make sure that the next conservative president is ready to hit the ground running day one.

FOREMAN (voice-over): For now, Donald Trump is keeping Project 2025 at arm's length, calling parts ridiculous and abysmal, but he hasn't said which parts.


FOREMAN: Part of Trump's political problem here is that several of the authors of this plan are part of his inside team, making it considerably harder for him to say he didn't know much about it.

Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.

CHURCH: A Ukrainian doctor was performing surgery on an infant when a Russian missile struck the operating room. That surgeon tells his story just ahead.


CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. U.S. President Joe Biden is hailing the NATO alliance as stronger than ever. He welcomed members to Washington on Tuesday for the group's annual summit. Mr. Biden focused most of his speech on Ukraine and the continuing need to counter Russian aggression. He announced a plan to send new air defense systems to Kyiv. And although he didn't mention Donald Trump by name, he warned against suggestions from his Republican rival that the U.S. could leave NATO.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BIDEN: Again and again at critical moments we chose unity over this union. Progress over retreat, freedom over eternity, hope over fear. Again and again, we stood behind our shared vision of a peaceful and prosperous transatlantic community.


Here at this Summit, we have gathered to reclaim NATO is ready and able to secure that vision today and well into the future.


CHURCH: The effects of Russian aggression took a devastating toll in Ukraine's capital after a Russian missile struck the country's largest children's hospital. A U.N. official called it a direct hit saying, "This terrible attack shows that nowhere is safe in Ukraine." Two people died and 16 others, including seven children, were wounded. A surgeon who was operating on an infant when the missile struck describes the moment of impact


DR. IHOR KOLODKA, SURGEON, OKHMATDYT CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): I stood here. We were in the middle of performing the surgery when an explosion rang, the glass shattered and the explosion wave hit us. I was thrown under the table. My colleague was thrown away, as were our nurse and anesthesiologist. They were thrown into a cupboard and into the wall.

Thank God, the child wasn't hurt at all. We wrapped the child so that everything was sterile. And as my colleagues stood with his back to the windows, the shrapnel hit him and the child therefore, didn't get hit. We joked that he took the hit with his back and I took it with my face.


CHURCH: Dr. Irwin Redlener is the co-founder of Ukraine Children's Action Project, an organization focused on helping Ukrainian children impacted by the war. And he joins me now from New York. Appreciate you being with us.


CHURCH: So CNN was at the scene of the Ukrainian children's hospital in Kyiv after it was struck by a Russian missile, killing two and destroying the building. It's just one of many strikes were children are caught in the crossfire, what impact is this war having on Ukraine's children?

REDLENER: Well, it is an extraordinary thing, Rosemary, the longer this goes on, the more the impact is going to be. And the thing about children, of course, is they are completely passive victims, waiting for somebody to end this violence. But we just released a report, in fact called "Crossfire: The Impact of Endless War on Ukraine's Children." And we compiled all the latest data and it's really uncomfortable to even look at this -- these numbers, but we have about 22,000 children at least, now who have been either killed, injured, or kidnapped from Ukraine. And the kidnapped children, of course, brought back to Russia for some kind of repatriation.

We have many, many children who are suffering from psychological trauma including PTSD and a lot of children who are -- have had their education disrupted. Ukraine only had about 7.5 million children in the country entirely before the February 2022 full-scale invasion. And three quarters of them, 5 million kids were displaced, some to the western part of the country and some out of the country entirely. So it is a disruptive, dangerous time for Ukraine's children and this, of course, this latest attack yesterday was a very, very horrible example of what is actually happening to kids at the extremes of this conflict.

CHURCH: And of course, those numbers you shared with us are horrifying. As this deadly war continues, what does the future hold for the children of Ukraine?

REDLENER: Well, of course, that's the critical question and that also really represents -- the answer to that question is, what do adults need to do while the children are waiting for somehow this war to be over? And that is all about protecting children, protecting them as much as possible from being in direct conflict or combat zones, to make sure that they're getting the support they need to mitigate the impact -- the psychological impact of what's happening all around them, and of course, to try to figure out how are we can make sure that their education is continued, even while the war is going on.

And don't forget, Ukraine schools were closed for almost two years because of COVID before the war started. And when we go there, we are seeing kids who are nine and 10-years-old who have never been in a regular classroom. And the impact of this for the future is just really, really essential to understand because we have to make sure that Ukraine is ready to recover. And also, Rosemary, I just want to note that all these numbers that I gave you really only apply to the areas that are not currently occupied by Russians because we don't really know what's happening in the 18 percent of Ukraine that has been occupied now by violence and by Russian troops. So, there's a big problem in Ukraine.

CHURCH: And doctor, you did mention the impact of this war when it comes to education and of course, we are talking about a whole generation of children and teenagers.


What will that mean for them once this war is over, as they try to sort of build lives for themselves?

REDLENER: Right. So, we are going to need a whole host of programs to help these kids catch up with the education they missed. However, I should say also, Rosemary, one of the amazing things about these children is how resilient they are. You know, Ukraine just two weeks ago, sent a team of 50 very high-achieving high school students to an international competition where they competed in projects dealing with the arts and sciences and filmmaking, et cetera. And these 51 kids were competing against teams from 65 other countries and the Ukrainian kids did amazingly well. They came home with 46 metals from this international competition.

I mentioned that because in spite of the violence and the chaos in Ukraine, these are extraordinarily inspiring, resilient children and families in a country that's really important to America and the West. So, there's signs of hope, but it's going to take a lot of work to make sure that the generation you referred to does not end up being a lost generation at the time when Ukraine needs them most.

CHURCH: Yeah, that is a hopeful note at the end of our interview. Dr. Irwin Redlener, thank you so much for talking with us and for all that you do.

REDLENER: Thank you.

CHURCH: A Moscow court has ordered the arrest of Yulia Navalnaya, the widow of Russian Opposition Leader Alexei Navalny. The arrest was ordered in absentia because she lives outside of Russia. Her spokesperson says Navalnaya is being accused of participating in an extremist community. After her husband's death, Navalnaya indicated that she would carry on his work. Following Tuesday's announcement, she posted a statement to social media that reads in part, and I'm quoting here, "When you write about this, please don't forget to write the main thing: Vladimir Putin is a murderer and a war criminal. His place is in prison, and not somewhere in The Hague, in a cozy cell with a TV, but in Russia, in the same 2 by 3 meter cell in which he killed Alexei."

And we'll be right back.


CHURCH: The European Space Agency's new rocket dubbed the "Ariane 6" blasted off from the coast of French Guiana on Tuesday. But the mission ended early after an anomaly forced the rocket to deviate from its original flight plan. Still, the agency is hoping the rocket system will make them more self-reliant in space.


Well, the U.S. and South Korea wrapped up their latest round of joint military drills early this month. This time, they were joined by a new American gunship known as the "Ghostrider" carrying one of the biggest guns in the sky. CNN's Mike Valerio has more.


MIKE VALERIO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's one of the latest unmistakable displays of U.S. firepower high above the Korean Peninsula, America's biggest gun in the sky found onboard a U.S. Air Force AC-130J, the "Ghostrider."

It is a 105-millimeter howitzer cannon loaded in a matter of seconds with brass 43-pound shells, powerhouse percussion, part of a strategic symphony between the U.S. and South Korean militaries.

U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command granted CNN unprecedented access inside the "Ghostrider." And what we witnessed, Americans in the air talking to Korean service members on the ground, some of them working together for the first time, spotting practice targets below and opening fire.

VALERIO: We are a few minutes into the flight (ph), can you talk to us about what is going to happen and what we are looking at here?

JOE GIPSON, U.S. AIR FORCE AC-130 LEAD AERIAL GUNNER: Absolutely. So, we are at (inaudible). What we got (inaudible) 105-millimeter howitzer, so we are rolling into a live fire range over South Korea right now.

VALERIO (voice-over): Today is a training mission. So there are smaller low-yield explosions, but the sound heard thousands of feet away is echoing thunder.

VALERIO: Why is it important to have an AC-130?

VALERIO (voice-over): On the ground, we spoke with Major Josh Burris, once an accountant, now mission commander.

VALERIO: And why is it key to have an aircraft like the AC-130 able to deploy here to Korea as quickly as possible?

MAJOR JOSH BURRIS, U.S. AIR FORCE AC-130J MISSION COMMANDER: The unique thing about the AC-130 is the amount of fires that we bring, the amount of munitions, the diverse amount of them. The Air Force says its continued message here is deterrence and with this aircraft, power.

VALERIO: So when the cannon starts to open fire, the tail where I'm standing recoils a full six feet this way. You know, your heart really skips a beat when this all starts to happen. And the entire plane, feels it.

VALERIO (voice-over): The "Ghostrider" just one piece of the U.S.- Korean strategic symphony as the tempo of these exercises continues, and North Korea watches across the horizon.

Mike Valerio, CNN, Osan Air Base, South Korea.


CHURCH: And thanks so much for joining us. I am Rosemary Church. "World Sport" is coming up next. Then, I'll be back in 15 minutes with more news. Do stay with us.