Return to Transcripts main page

Connect the World

Former Syrian Colonel Sentenced to Life in Prison; Australian Immigration Minister Decision Looms Over Djokovic; French Teachers Strike Over COVID Rules; OSCE Meeting ends With no Sign of Breakthrough; CNN Talks to Former U.S. Ambassador to Russia; Lead Singer of 60's Girl Group the Ronettes Dies. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired January 13, 2022 - 11:00   ET



ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN, Atlanta. This is "Connect the World" with Lynda Kinkade.

LYNDA KINKADE, CNN HOST, CONNECT THE WORLD: I'm Lynda Kinkade live at the CNN Center. We will be addressing the continued turmoil surrounding Novak

Djokovic's attempt to defend his title at the Australian Open in just a few minutes.

But first we start in Germany, a long awaited measure of justice and accountability today for victims of serious devastating civil war and the

Assad regime. In a landmark ruling, a German court has convicted and sentenced a Former Syrian Army Colonel to life in prison for crimes against


And while Roslyn headed a feared investigation unit at a notorious Damascus Detention Center before he fled the country a decade ago. Prosecutors say

thousands of people were tortured there dozens died. In court survivors faced the Former Army Colonel and described what they endured. Well, CNN's

Jomana Karadsheh is in Copeland's Germany where the Former Syrian Colonel was convicted and sentenced.

Good to have you with us Jomana and Roslyn, of course, is the most senior ex Syrian official to face accountability in court.

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Lynda, we can't overstate the significance of this moment being described as a historic moment. Yes,

Colonel Anwar Raslan was one man here on trial. He was convicted of crimes against humanity, for overseeing those tortures and murders that you

mentioned in - Prison in Damascus.

Those crimes took place over the span of a few months, Lynda, and this is why people here would tell you the lawyers, the victims, survivors would

tell you that yes, this one man may have been here on trial, he may be the one who's going to serve this life in prison sentence.

But to them this is a significant moment because this is an entire regime they feel that has been convicted of crimes against humanity. One man alone

cannot commit these crimes. They say he represents an entire system in a regime a very significant moment.

A few hours we were out here with Raslan a prominent defender of human rights and Syria human rights lawyer who himself was a political prisoner

for a few years and he was very emotional describing this day.

This moment is something that he has fought for, for a very long time saying this is a victory for justice of victory for the victims of the

regime the victims of this man Colonel Anwar Raslan and also a victory for those who did not live to see the stay.

Lynda, we have to warn our viewers they are about to see a report that contains some disturbing and graphic images of torture.


KARADSHEH (voice over): It is in this small idyllic German city we're Syria's long road to justice begins with an end to a decade of impunity for

some of the worst atrocities of our time. This court in Copeland's is the first in the world to convict a former senior member of the Assad regime of

crimes against humanity.

A year ago, it's sentenced to junior co-defendant to 4.5 years in prison for his role in the case. For nearly two years, the court heard of horrors

that unfolded thousands of miles away at a Damascus detention facility, or Former Colonel Anwar Aslam allegedly oversaw the torture of as many as 4000

detainees, sexual assaults and the death of dozens during the early days of the uprising.

Raslan defected in 2012 and later fled to Germany where his past caught up with him. Some of his victims were among the hundreds of thousands of

Syrian refugees who also made it to Germany.

WASSIM MUKDAD, SYRIAN WITNESS AND JOINT PLANTIFF: He ordered directly to a man next to me make him lay on his belly and raise his feet in the air,

like a stress situation. And once the answers didn't suit him, the other man on command starts to hit till he says stop. It's like hell.

KARADSHEH (voice over): Musician was Mukdad was tortured 10 years ago. He says he's been tormented by the trauma ever since. Reliving that trauma and

confronting his jailer, he says was a duty to those who never made it out to tell their own stories.

MUKDAD: I gave my testimony on the 19th of August 2020. I felt relief, a huge burden from my shoulders this memory that I kept willingly because I

didn't want to be just lost and those suffering will be in vain.

KARADSHEH (voice over): Activists have been collecting evidence of the regime's rampant and systematic torture long before this trial. In 2014

some of the most damning visual evidence of state sponsored torture emerged after horrific photographs of thousands of detainees tortured to death -

jails, were smuggled out of Syria by a military defector codenamed Caesar.


KARADSHEH (voice over): But up until this trial, no one had ever been held accountable. The path to international accountability has been blocked by

regime allies, Russia and China.

KARADSHEH (on camera): But that is starting to change now, here in Germany and other European countries victims have found a new path to justice under

universal jurisdiction, legal principle that allows national courts like this one, to prosecute grave crimes against international law, no matter

where in the world they were committed.

It is the breakthrough - has dedicated his life to the human rights lawyer was a driving force behind this trial and other cases in Europe.

ANWAR AL-BUNNI, SYRIAN HUMAN RIGHTS LAWYER: Crimes against humanity it's not crimes who committed by one person. It's committed by regime by state,

when the charge will be crimes against humanity that mean holds the system holds the regime in all the person charged now.

KARADSHEH (voice over): Bunni believes this trial sends a message of hope, at a time when Asad appears to have won the war. And many in the

international community seem keen to turn the page.

AL-BUNNI: We want to send a message to the criminals who still in Syria or they escaped to here and think they are safe now. And OK, we let there is

no safe place can hide you. No safe place to you in holds.

KARADSHEH (voice over): Victims say their battle for justice is only just beginning.


KARADSHEH: And you know, Lynda, it has been such an incredibly emotional day for so many here. Just a short time ago, we were speaking to Wassim

Mukdad, who you saw there in our piece and Wassim was saying that after the verdict today, he feels that his - he can now begin his journey towards


You know, after living for 10 years with this trauma of torture that he went through, but for so many others, they - this is the day of mixed

feelings. You know, at the end of our piece there you saw these women who were standing outside the courthouse, some of them were carrying the

photographs of their loved ones fathers brothers sons, who have disappeared.

They are amongst the forcibly disappeared in Syria an estimated 120,000 people who have vanished without a trace after being detained by the

regime's forces and these women were out here today happy to see a verdict seeing someone being held accountable.

At the same time they want to remind the world that when we talk about the crimes of the Assad regime, they say to them, this is not something of the

past, they are still living these crimes and the impact it is having on them in their lives.

KINKADE: Regime, of course, is still in power Jomana Karadsheh good to have you with us. Thanks so much. Well, my next guest is Steven Rapp, who joins

me from Washington. Now he served as the U.S. Ambassador at large for global criminal justice from 2009 to 2015, where he coordinated U.S.

government support for international criminal tribunals.

He also helped the United Nations gain access to tens of thousands of photos detailing the torture by Syria's Assad regime. Good to have you with



KINKADE: Yes, tell us about your reaction to this case, his sentencing.

RAPP: Well, I'm extremely excited and gratified. But particularly in thinking of the victims, who've hoped for justice for so long, who feel

that the world is turned back on, on their suffering and finally achieved it in this case, and I would note that this is the this is the first of

many, but it's a reflection of the survivors and the evidence that they brought out of Syria.

Cesar and his 50,000 photographs which have been found rock solid evidence by these judges of all of these tens of thousands of people tortured to

death in the government facilities like the one where Raslan headed in general intelligence.

And then those groups like CIJA, Commission for International Justice and Accountability and non-governmental organization that I chair that with

Syrian partners is brought out a million pages of documents, regime documents that show the orders by which this machinery of murder was sacked

and capped emotion.

KINKADE: Yes, I mean, your organization helped, as you say deliver some of the evidence in this case evidence that has been collected over nearly a

decade. But in terms of the significance of the case it can't be overstated - that this is the first conviction in history for murder and torture under

a regime that's still in power.


RAPP: That's remarkable. I mean, I prosecuted at the Rwanda Tribunal, and I was chief prosecutor at the Special Court for Syria. But we were dealing

with crimes that had already been committed, where we had the cooperation of governments and helping us locates the evidence.

So this case had to be built from the bottom up. But it's a real credit to the, to the German authorities, because they take more seriously, I think,

than in any country in the world that the word said never again, and by their investigation, by their close working with the victims, with the

survivors, with the NGO investigators, and now also with those with the UN at the New International Mechanism in Geneva and elsewhere.

These - they're able to build these cases. And I think we can see this happening elsewhere, no matter what to Russia and China are able to block

in the Security Council of the UN.

KINKADE: And as you said this, this could be the first of many similar cases, in this case, the Colonel was found guilty of more than 4000 counts

of torture, dozens of counts of murder and a few cases of sexual assault. How much did this case rely on the testimony of survivors, some of which we

just heard Jomana speaking to? And do we know about what sort of help they're getting now?

RAPP: Well, it relied on those survivors. And keep in mind that one of the reasons that Germany had this case is it has 800,000 survivors of the

horrors of Syria. And when we talk about the refugee crisis, and we recognize Germany for taking in 800,000 refugees, it was because of these

crimes, that people were driven to leave a hearth and home and brave, but, you know, dangerous seas and hostile borders, to come to Europe and


And that's it's entirely appropriate that Germany investigate, give a justice to the people that they've admitted, send a message to those back

in Syria, that if you commit these crimes, they're going to be consequences, and I think, really establish a rule that may prevent such

crimes in the future.

So I think it's - it's a powerful message. I think one of the most important ones is that even whilst I'm talking about normalization, because

UAE and Bahrain, for instance, have established diplomatic relations, and exchanged ambassadors with Damascus, there really can be no normalization

with this regime.

Because this sends the message no matter what, you know, if you try to just step outside the country that you've devastated, you can - you can face

justice, like just Raslan did.

KINKADE: And yes, I want to ask you about that - because we did hear from one of the survivors in Jomana's piece, talking about it these crimes were

committed by the entire regime. What does this mean for the Assad regime?

RAPP: Well, keep in mind that the judges of course, convicted Raslan today, but it was a crime against humanity. And as my friend Anwar Al-Bunni said,

you don't know - one person doesn't commit a crime against humanity, it has to be part of a systematic or widespread attack.

And so the judges found in this case, as they did in the case of the co- defendant, that this government was indeed engaging and in a machinery of torture and murder. And we have obviously, the specific deaths here, the 60

people, while Raslan was in charge of interrogation, the 4000 people that he - that he torture was responsible for.

The seizure photos show, you know, 7000 individual victims, tortured in this facility, and others just through August 2013. And we had a grave

digger, who testified in the trial, and then September 2012, who continued to get mass graves and on the orders of the regime until he was able to get

out of Syria at the end of 2017.

So tens of thousands of others there, are have ended up in the same fate to one group, Syrian group, we have 140,000 missing. Sadly, many of those

people are in those mass graves and the Syrian regime refuse to tell us anything about it. So it can't be normalization.

KINKADE: Stephen Rapp really good conversation. We'll have to leave it there for now. But well done to you and your organization for documenting

these war crimes. Thanks so much.

RAPP: Thank you.

KINKADE: Well, Novak Djokovic's fate in the Australian Open next week now rests squarely with the country's immigration minister. In the coming days,

we will see whether the minister will revoke the tennis stars reinstated visa. Djokovic's hitting the practice courts under the pressure of

criticism over his vaccination status, and the investigation into possible inconsistencies on his travel document.


Well, meantime he has been named the number one seed for men's singles and he has been drawn to go up against a fellow Serb in the first round.

KINKADE: Scott McLean is live with us from Belgrade, Serbia with mine their reaction there. But first, I want to go to Paula Hancocks live from

Melbourne because we are awaiting this decision from the Immigration Minister. Why do we know what's the holdup all about?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, at this point, it's not clear what the holdup is. I mean, there was speculation he would make his decision,

the Immigration Minister Alex Hawke today will choose a Thursday, I should say, it's now the early hours of Friday. So it appears it might be in the

next 24 hours.

The assumption is, with the Australian Open starting on Monday, if he was going to make a decision, it would have to be soon. But we still don't know

for sure if he is going to decide to try and revoke the visa of Novak Djokovic.

Now, we did hear from Scott Morrison today that the Australian prime minister and he once again pointed out that that the policy is very clear

for coming into Australia that you do have to be fully vaccinated, or you do have to be and have a medical exemption showing that there's a medical

reason why you cannot have the COVID-19 vaccination.

And he also pointed out that having a visa is very different to having the vaccination status of being able to enter the country answering one of

Djokovic's lawyer's arguments that they had had a visa accepted, so they thought that he was able to come into the country.

But Djokovic himself is continuing to train at the Rod Laver Arena here in Melbourne. He is trying to mentally and physically prepare himself for the

Australian Open which does start in a few days. Of course, it is still in limbo whether he will actually be there.

KINKADE: Yes, exactly. All right, Paula Hancocks for --thank you. To Scott McLean in Belgrade. Obviously, not a great deal of sympathy for these

tennis player in Melbourne given Melbourne has really lived under one of the longest COVID lockdowns in the world. Surely, he's got a fair bit of

support where you are.

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and certainly Serbia has had not exactly the same experience as Australia had essentially being cut off from

the rest of the world for the last two years.

But as we wait for the decision from the Australians, the reality here in Serbia is that there are still some questions about the positive and

negative COVID test that Novak Djokovic returned when he was in this country.

We know that the Australian Border Force is investigating some of the irregularities around those tests. But so far, public health authorities in

this country have said precious little to actually clear up any of the confusion, Lynda.

Now the President Alexsandar Vucic, he was on public television last night to say that he was proud to have supported Novak Djokovic he also says that

look, people should get vaccinated.

And when it comes to Djokovic's admission that he ended up breaking his quarantine, the President said in an indirect way that look, if you know

that you're positive, obviously you should not be going out. But it seems like the president like many Serbs is pretty reluctant to take a national

hero down from his pedestal.


MCLEAN (voice over): The streets of Belgrade are filled with tributes and memorials to Prime Minister's royalty and homegrown heroes. But these days,

no one is revered quite like Novak Djokovic, the world's number one tennis player now struggling to stay in Australia, in large part because he's


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So everything he says is right, so prior things of - but if you don't want to do that, you know you - it's OK.

MCLEAN (on camera): It's his personal choice. And it's an individual thing. That's how we most people see that right here. Serbs are watching this

drama down under just as new COVID infections here are hitting record highs, and the Serbian government continues to struggle to convince people

to actually take the vaccine. Even today, less than 60 percent of the adult population has been vaccinated. Do you think that he should have taken the


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think that the vaccine is the poison, so I think that he don't give it to his back.

MCLEAN (voice over): In Serbia, there's an indoor mask mandate and a mandatory quarantine period after a positive test. But Djokovic admits he

didn't immediately isolate so that he could do an interview with a French newspaper, drawing subtle criticism even from his most powerful defender,

the Serbian president.

ALEKSANDER VUCIC, SERBIAN PRESIDENT: If you know you're infected, you should not go out and infect others.

MCLEAN (voice over): But in Belgrade outrage is tough to come by.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can't comment honestly. He's our -


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: --judgment, no, no.

MCLEAN (voice over): You're not too upset about it though.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know though that he says he had the mask here, he was on the distance and so on.

MCLEAN (voice over): Court documents show that Djokovic tested positive on December 16 and then negative on December 22. Djokovic's positive result

came after 8 p.m. on the 16th. But he claims he wasn't notified until the next day after he attended an event unmasked with children.

We wanted to see how the testing system works. So we had producer Nada Bashir take the same PCR test in Belgrade. Well, result was emailed just

two minutes after the result timestamp on the certificate that others who have been tested say the time for results to be emailed, can vary widely.

The Serbian Public Health Institute did not reply to CNN's attempt to seek clarification. The health ministry directed us to comments from the

government earlier this week.

ANA BRNABIC, SERBIAN PRIME MINISTER: I don't know when he got the test results when he actually saw them. And at what point in time he became

aware of testing positive. I only know that the date is December 16. As for when he got them when he actually looked at them? I really don't know. It's

something that Novak's team should say.


MCLEAN: So Lynda, there is a press conference being held tomorrow by Serbian public health officials and so we are hoping to get some of our

questions clarified around Novak Djokovic's test here in Serbia. Meanwhile, the country hit a sad milestone today. More than 13,000 people have now

died in this country from COVID-19.

KINKADE: Yes, like so many countries around Europe right now, cases really are surging. Scott McLean, good to have you with us. Thanks so much. Well,

no more chaos and confusion now that is the demand of French teachers on strike days after new COVID rules took effect. Up ahead here why they're

angry at the government.

Then it was supposed to be a quick get to know you over a meal. Not a week of awkward silence and cleaning. Up next how COVID is changing the blind



KINKADE: Welcome back. Well, many schools were closed in France today as teachers held a nationwide strike. Nearly a third of elementary teachers

are in the streets protesting. Their anger for what they say confusing COVID protocols and schools and it comes just days after the French

government change testing rules for students after a classmate is infected.

Melissa Bell is in Paris, is the teacher's frustration spill over into the streets and Melissa this isn't just elementary teachers. We have seen a lot

of teachers from middle school and high school join as well.

MELISSA BELL, CNN PARIS CORRESPONDENT: That's right and what we've been hearing is that the government's agreed to sit down with those striking

teachers unions today to try and work out some kind of progress on this issue.


BELL: Because of course, keeping schools open, and avoiding strikes at this difficult time already, is their priority. So the French Prime Minister

will be meeting with teachers unions, as well as the French health minister, although he'll be doing it a distance, since he's now tested


And it is a reminder of just how quickly that Omicron variant is spreading here in France really driving now what is not so much a fifth wave, as the

French Health Minister described it recently.

But rather a tsunami, the rise in cases the incidence rate here in the Greater Paris region, Lynda are nearly 3000 per 100,000 people really quite

staggering when you put it in the context of previous waves.

And so what the government had done here was trying to find a way of keeping children in class despite these very high infection rates. And that

meant allowing, for instance, children to stay in school if they'd been a contact case, if they were around another child who'd been sick, who had

been found to be positive to do home testing rather than having to go and do a PCR test or test in a pharmacy.

And it is that kind of relaxation of the rules, that the teachers are objecting to saying that they're putting them in danger. But I think what

they're really objected to is the fact that they say they haven't been consulted as widely as they should have been on this. They've learned these

changes in the media with everyone else.

So a lot of anger out there that the government is going to have to defuse, even as it tries to encourage children, teachers to stay in school, in

order that children can as well the government very reluctant to enter into any kind of change that will see children back at home and parents

prevented from working in the economy slowdown in any way at all, Lynda.

KINKADE: All right, Melissa Bell for us in Paris. We'll leave it there for now, and see how this plays out over the coming days. Thanks so much. Well,

the decision to shut down two hospitals in central China is sparking backlash online.

Chinese citizens are criticizing the temporary closure during a COVID-19 outbreak. The two hospitals in the city of Xi'an have been ordered shut for

three months over delays in treatments for critical patients.

Well, COVID is also changing the way we see the world, even the blind date. And yes, we have all been there. The one that felt like it would never end

or in some cases the one that ended --. Just asked this woman in central China hers didn't go so well.

It lasted for days thanks to a sudden lockdown. CNN's Selina Wang joins us now live. I love this story, Selina. I mean, had this been a good blind

date it would have been amazing to be stuck together. But she described it as I think mediocre.

SELINA WANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, these were her exact words. In a post on Monday she had said "I'm still at the man's house. He's an inarticulate

honest person and he doesn't talk much". So she wasn't pulling any punches there.

But just imagine going on a blind date and then ending up living with that person for days on end. This happened to a 30 year old woman in - which is

the capital of a central Hunan province in China. So she on January 6 went to her blind dates home in the city.

She wanted to have a home cooked meal there but then right out she was about to leave after the meal. His neighborhood went into a snap lockdown.

China often does this locking down communities even if just a single COVID- 19 case is found.

The woman then shared her story on social media. She posted videos of him cooking for her of him sweeping the floors of him working on his laptop,

and the videos became a viral sensation in China even became the top trending topic on Weibo, which is China's Twitter like platform.

Now she said in an interview with state media that she was in the city because her parents were introducing to her to suitors, she was home for

the holidays leading up to the Lunar New Year holiday.

And this man was the fifth suitor out of 10 that her family had introduced her to. Now it is unclear as of Thursday, Lynda whether or not she is still

at the man's house. The city she is in has reported more than 100 COVID-19 cases it has closed down all non-essential businesses and we are seeing

China's COVID-19 strategy of zero COVID cases.

We're seeing authorities double down on that through these types of snap lock downs through mass testing through contact tracing and surveillance.

But not all of the stories are this light hearted for instance.

And she and where the city and its 13 million residents are under strict lockdown. We have seen a steady outpouring of stories on social media of

people calling for food for basic necessities and for medical attention, Lynda.

KINKADE: Yes, I think everyone was looking for a bit of a light hearted story in the midst of all of this. And the blind date certainly gave it to

us, so I ended up marrying my husband after a blind date. The one and only I've ever had but hopefully it works out.

WANG: Wow, that's amazing.

KINKADE: Hopefully it works out better for her on her next plain date certainly tricky dating in COVID times. Selina Wang, thank you. You are

watching "Connect the World" live in Atlanta, still ahead the last of three meetings, this week focusing on Russia and Ukraine.


KINKADE: Why officials from all sides came out of this latest meeting pretty pessimistic about a breakthrough. And I'll talk to a former U.S.

ambassador to Russia about threaten U.S. sanctions on Russia and why he thinks the Russian President is frustrated over Ukraine.


KINKADE: Hello, I'm Lynda Kinkade live at the CNN Center. Welcome back to "Connect the World". Well, lots of talk and little progress. Days of high

stakes diplomacy ended today with both Russia and Western nations digging in over the standoff along Ukraine's border.

Ukraine was the big topic at the regularly scheduled meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which was held in

Vienna. Both Russia and Ukraine are part of that group. Russia says before it considers deescalating NATO must promise not to admit Ukraine and other

countries into the alliance.

The U.S. Ambassador to the OSCE says other member nations "must decisively reject blackmail". Well, the ongoing stalemate led to a pointed warning

from the OSCE Chairman.


ZBIGNIEW RAU, OSCE CHAIRMAN IN OFFICE: It seems that the risk of war in the OSCE area is now greater than ever before in the last 30 years.


KINKADE: Alex Marquardt is joining us from Brussels side of the NATO Russian Council meeting on Wednesday. Our Matthew Chance is joining us from

Moscow. Good to have you both with us. I want to start with you first Alex, because the top U.S. diplomat at the Russia talks in Geneva at Wendy


I told you there's no commitment from Russia that they're going to de- escalate. What else did you say?

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR U.S. SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, she left open the possibility for more talks and but it was unsure whether those would

actually happen saying maybe the Russians themselves don't know whether those will indeed happen. And of course this does come down to the decision

of one man and that is Vladimir Putin.

But we are seeing much higher rhetoric now just a day later after this OSCE meeting Lynda; this was the third in a series of meetings. And the only one

that actually included Ukraine despite the fact that the past two conversations on Monday and Wednesday in Geneva and here in Brussels you

know were almost entirely about the effort to get Russia not to invade Ukraine.


MARQUARDT: We heard some very strong language from the U.S. Ambassador to the OACE Michael Carpenter, following that meeting in Vienna today. He said

in part, the drumbeat of war is sounding loud, and the rhetoric has gotten rather shrill.

And he warns that we have to war do we have to prepare for the eventuality of a Russian escalation. Now, this meeting was the cherry on top, if you

will, not in a really positive way, but in that it reinforced everything we have learned throughout the course of the week.

And that's that essentially that the two sides are talking past each other. Russia saying, you know, we have these demands, we demand that Ukraine

never be allowed to join NATO. We demand that NATO withdraw from the east of Europe and the U.S. and NATO saying no, that's not going to happen.

Let's talk about all these other things.

Russia saying we don't want to talk about those things. So it is in the words of a top Russian diplomat essentially a dead end in terms of these

conversations. Now, in the lead up to this week, there had you know that the U.S. side had said that they didn't expect any real breakthrough.

And that has proven to be true. We are ending the week of conversations with no real breakthrough and a real prospect of war. The White House is

now saying that their sanctions targets list in Russia is ready to go, they're ready to roll out sanctions the moment that Russian tanks cross the


So the temperature is indeed far higher today than it was when we started the week, it is very much a stalemate, a deadlock. We've heard a lot from

the Russian side today and we will be hearing from the U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan in just a couple hours' time at the White

House. Lynda?

KINKADE: OK, Alex, thanks to you. And I want to speak to Matthew Chance about those sanctions and how Russia could respond. I mean, no doubt, these

would further sever relations between Russia and the U.S.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean, look, we haven't actually seen spelled out in any official way. What sanctions

exactly have been prepared by the United States so that we've got a pretty good idea from the briefings that Washington has been giving?

This could involve far reaching measures that would have a material impact on the Russian economy. There are also moves in the Senate to impose even

more punitive sanctions against Russia, particularly against Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, that's being debated.

And there's been a reaction to that proposal in the U.S. Senate by the Kremlin. The Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov earlier today that saying that

those kinds of sanctions would cause a break off in U.S. Russian relations and he said any attempt to sanction directly of Vladimir Putin would be an

out of bounds measure is how he described it.

I think more generally, though, that tallies with the negative characterization that we're hearing from Russian officials when it comes to

this week of talks, as Alex was just describing there, at the core demands of Russia, particularly the NATO expansion stop and that Military forces

inside countries that joined NATO after the collapse of the Soviet Union people back, I mean, they are non-starters for Western officials.

And that's been reflected in the language we're hearing from the Russian side. The ambassador from Russia to the OSCE, the European security

organization thing is disappointed at the lack of constructive reactions diplomatic speak for very unhappy indeed.

The deputy foreign minister, Sergei Ryabkov, saying that the U.S. and NATO not ready to meet our key demands spelling out in clear terms, the position

of the two sides at the end of this week, Sergey Lavrov, the Russian Foreign Minister, criticizing the calls on the U.S. from the U.S., for the

U.S. for the Russia, to take its forces away from areas close to Ukraine, saying that the call for Russian troops to withdraw is unacceptable, he

said and we will not discuss it.

And so a whole lot of negative characterizations as I say, from the Russian side, just to underline that take a quick listen to Alexander Grushko, who

is another, you know, Deputy Foreign Minister in Russia who actually had headed the Russian negotiations in NATO yesterday. Take a listen.


ALEXANDER GRUSHKO, RUSSIAN DEPUTY FOREIGN MINISTER: One of the elements of this rather sad picture is that as a result of NATO's decision, all

practical cooperation between us and the alliance in areas of common interests has been suspended. Today, we do not have a unifying positive

agenda, none at all.



CHANCE: Yes, not at all and so the question now, I suppose becomes what will Russia do? Will it decide that there's enough in terms of the

compromises that it said over the course of this week to pursue further talks and to hold off any Military action?

Or will it decide, you know, that its demands are not being listened to properly, and it's going to press the Military button and stage Trump's

kind of incursion into Ukraine to in its eyes protect its own national security interest. There's only one person, Lynda, who is able to make that

decision. And that's Vladimir Putin. And he hasn't said anything yet about what his view is on the outcome of these negotiations.

KINKADE: Yes, exactly. All right, Matthew Chance for us in Moscow, and Alex Marquardt, good to have you both with us. Thanks so much. We are going to

stay on this story. My next guest was a former U.S. Ambassador to Russia.

John Tefft says Russian President Vladimir Putin is massing troops in the Ukraine because he's gotten frustrated. Tefft says Putin has seen his

efforts to try and control and dominate Ukraine, going all the way back to 2004, 2005 in the Orange Revolution, all gone for naught. Well John Tefft

is now a senior fellow at the RAND Corporation and joins me via Skype from Virginia. Good to have you with us.

JOHN TEFFT, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO RUSSIA: Thank you very much, Lynda. I'm glad to be with you.

KINKADE: So you are in a unique position where you've worked as both an ambassador for Ukraine and Russia, given the posturing we are hearing from

Russia. What level of threat do they pose to Ukraine at this point in time?

TEFFT: I think they pose a very serious threat. Obviously, Russia has enormous numbers of troops there. They also have a very powerful and modern

air force, which could cause huge damage and cause great suffering in Ukraine.

I think the big question, though, is why is Putin doing this? Now, as you said in a previous interview, I thought there was frustration building,

that the situation in Ukraine has not changed to the way he wants to see it.

And yet, the more pressure he puts on Ukraine, the more Ukrainians turn against Russia, I was ambassador in Ukraine from 2009 to 2013. In those

days, public opinion polls showed that 25 percent of people supported NATO membership for Ukraine.

I think that number is up to 60 percent now, and I saw a poll this morning that said 72 percent of Ukrainians think Russia is the major threat to

their country. It's not clear how the Kremlin thinks that this current strategy is actually helping them win over hearts and minds and change the

way things are in Kiev.

It may be that they feel that they're panicking a bit. I don't know the answer. But it's possible that they're worried that if they don't act now,

that Ukraine will be forever, forever, tied in with the West, which, of course, is what the majority of Ukrainians want.

KINKADE: Yes, exactly. I mean, Russia seems to be pushing them further and further in that direction, as you described so well. But we've seen an

entire week almost of diplomatic talks that seem to have gone nowhere.

I mean, we had a Russian officials meeting with U.S. officials, we had Russian officials meeting with NATO. And today, obviously, we've had many

parties, including Ukraine at the table. But there doesn't seem to be any movement in the right direction. It seems both sides, both the West and

Russia have very firm hard lines. What do you think?

TEFFT: I don't think we should have expected sorry, I don't think we should have expected any big change. Because a lot of the Russian experts thought

that the Russian initiative, the threat to Ukraine sovereignty to take over Ukraine was a non-starter from the west from the beginning.

So I think for many of us, this has played out in a way that way we could have expected when it was first broached a couple of weeks ago.

KINKADE: And surely Vladimir Putin knew that this will pat the way as it did. We knew from the outset that NATO wouldn't agree to these demands by

Vladimir Putin. So what's his agenda? Why go through all these diplomatic talks?

TEFFT: Well, I think he felt and I think Matthew mentioned this in his comments right before I came on, that, that Mr. Putin felt that he wanted

to put this big pressure on Ukraine and on NATO. I think the Biden Administration, our European allies, have all responded to this as well as

we possibly can.

Wendy Sherman, I was watching again today her press conference after she finished it NATO yesterday, and I think she hit almost all of the key

points. We're ready to try to improve European security, but we're not prepared to countenance Russia taking over Ukraine, you know.


TEFFT: Since 1991, and I'm old enough to remember those days, the United States has supported the sovereignty, the independence and the territorial

integrity of all of the donations that came out of the Soviet Union. That's been a consistent policy.

So with the idea that somehow the United States is going to reverse policy that we've followed both with regard to all of those nations, but also with

regard to NATO and European security, under the pressure of a gun, I think is was unrealistic from the beginning.

I don't know what's going to happen. As Matthew said, none of us knows what President Putin is going to decide. I hope that this will not lead to

violence, because too many people have already died since 2014. In Ukraine, and I would not want to see more killed as a result of Russian action.

KINKADE: Yes, exactly, I mean, some analysts have already described relations between Russia and the U.S. as the worst since the Cold War era.

And yesterday, we heard Russia's foreign minister say that there's no longer any common ground, nothing that they can work together on whether

it's targeting terrorists or security in Afghanistan or cyberspace.

How crucial is it to find some common ground so that you can work on all those other areas of interest?

TEFFT: I was Ambassador in Moscow from 2014 to 2017. And this was in the wake of the Russian invasion of Crimea and the subversion of the Donbas in

Eastern Ukraine.

In that point, people were saying consistently that the relationship between the U.S. and Russia was at its lowest point, since deep into the

Cold War. So things haven't changed that much. In a way the current position of the Kremlin is to ratchet up the pressure to try to force

Ukraine and the West to try to change policy, as we've discussed.

I think that the U.S. has put down on the table; NATO is put down on the table, a whole range of efforts that would both increase security,

transparency and lead to real European security. This crisis was really manufactured by Russia.

And I think it's really incumbent on Russia, as Wendy Sherman said, very clearly yesterday to de-escalate, and there's a whole bunch of things that

we can talk about, to try to rebuild a sense of security in Eastern Europe and Central Europe. And that's what I would hope very much that we could


KINKADE: Yes, exactly, really great to get your perspective John Tefft, former Ambassador to both Russia and Ukraine, thanks so much for your time.

TEFFT: Thanks very much, Lynda.

KINKADE: Well still to come a history lesson underwater, Hong Kong's coral fossils offer a wealth of knowledge for those trying to save the ecosystem.

We'll have that report when we come back.



KINKADE: Well, today on "Call to Earth", the extraordinary biodiversity of Hong Kong's marine life is under threat. We made a marine biologist and

historical ecologist, studying the past of Hong Kong's corals to learn how they can be protected for future generations.


JONATHAN CYBULSKI, MARINE AND HISTORICAL ECOLOGIST, THE UNIVERSITY OF HONG KONG: You might not expect it in such a highly urbanized city. But Hong

Kong contains high levels of biodiversity. Hong Kong has over 25 percent of the recorded marine species for all of coastal China, and it only makes up

0.3 percent of the coastline.

And for corals, which are what I study, there's more species of coral in Hong Kong's waters than there are in the entire Caribbean Sea. My name is

Jonathan Cybulski and I'm a marine biologist and a historical ecologist.

And I live in Hong Kong, one of the most densely populated cities on earth. But just 30 minutes from the city center, you could be in a place like

this, surrounded by nature, and ocean and biodiversity. It's amazing.

As a historical ecologist, it's my job to tell the story of an ecosystem through time. I look to the past to try and see what an ecosystem was like

before humans, so that we can identify its greatest threats, and then help to alleviate that threat, to give it the best chance for survival into the


In Hong Kong, we have two main types of pool. The first, this is known as a massive coral. And the other type of branching coral. And this is what

really promotes biodiversity because there's more areas for things to live. But unfortunately, these corals are the most susceptible to human stress.

So what we're left with is just the more massive corals, which don't promote as much biodiversity. First, I collected coral fossils from all

around Hong Kong, to see what coral communities were like in the past. And then I monitored modern day corals to see where they were growing.

And there's a very simple but very strong pattern. In areas where there's really poor water quality, we have very low marine biodiversity. And then

as you move to areas with better and better water quality, that biodiversity increases.

Human waste, agricultural waste, your garbage, everything eventually falls and finds its way into the marine environment anything that you can do as a

human to be more sustainable will actually in the long run benefit the marine environment, even if you don't know it right away.

There needs to be as much diversity and our strategy of solving the problem as there is the diversity that we're trying to protect. And if we can get a

city like this to start making change, then we'll really see positive benefits for our earth.


KINKADE: Well, please do let us know what you're doing to answer the call using the #calltoearth.



KINKADE: Well, Taco Bell is waving goodbye to its wings, fans of the dish have just a few hours to get them before they fly off the menu. The popular

fast food - the crispy chicken as a limited time offer giving hungry customers just seven days to gobble them up.

The short sales window is considered a way to drum up excitement for the brand. Well if the name does not ring a bell, take a listen to the song and

you will certainly remember it.

Great music, the Golden sounds of the 60s and the woman singing was Ronnie Spector, the lead singer of the Ronettes. The group had a string of hits

including Be My Baby," "Baby I Love You" and "Walking in the Rain.

Spector had a tumultuous relationship with her producer and later husband Phil Spector. She remained hugely popular and featured in modern artists

videos well into the 1980s and 1990s. Yes, she is performing with Eddie Money.

She was born for Ronica Bennett and the pop star of the 60s died at the age of 78 surrounded by her family, what a remarkable career. Well, thanks so

much for watching. I'm Lynda Kinkade, stick around please. "One World" with my colleague Zain Asher is up next.