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Novak Djokovic Hours Away from Being Detained Again in Visa Saga; British PM Boris Johnson Faces New Pandemic Parties Scandal; Royal Family Further Distances Itself from Prince Andrew; Possible Plea Deal Discussed for Israeli's Benjamin Netanyahu; U.S. Intel Says Russia Preparing False- Flag Operation; Ukraine Hit by Cyberattack After High-Stakes Talks End. Aired 10-11a ET
Aired January 14, 2022 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: He is down but not out yet. Australia revokes Novak Djokovic's visa again, but he has one more shot at
playing in the tennis open. We're live in Melbourne with the details.
Also, while Britain's Queen mourned the passing of her husband alone, a Downing Street party was taking place the night before. A fresh
embarrassment for the embattled Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
And looking for a way out. Israel's former prime minister is said to be in talks about a possible plea deal connected to those lingering corruption
I'm Hala Gorani in London. Hello, and welcome to CONNECT THE WORLD.
In just hours, Serbia's Novak Djokovic is going back into detention in Australia. It really does feel like a never-ending saga. His case to stay
in the country will be heard Saturday before the federal court. The decision to detain him was made in an emergency hearing after the
immigration minister canceled Djokovic's visa again.
There are major concerns that he has not vaccinated against COVID and had possible inconsistencies in his documents. The minister says he made the
decision on, quote, "health and good order grounds on the basis that it was in the public interest to do so," unquote.
Paula Hancocks has been bringing us all the latest from Melbourne where the Australian Open is going ahead with or without Djokovic. And she joins me
So how -- I mean there is a chance that Djokovic could still play. Is it a realistic one?
PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There's a chance, Hala. There certain is. I mean, his lawyers are fighting this as best they can. So what we know
is just three hours after the immigration minister canceled the visa, they were back at an emergency hearing. And the lawyers did point out to the
judge, the same judge who had overturned the visa cancellation back on Monday, had pointed out to him that time was of the essence.
We now know that Djokovic is supposed to be playing in the Australian Open on Monday. So what we know at this point is Djokovic is not in detention
this evening. It's now 2:00 in the morning Saturday time but in six hours' time he will be going to meet with immigration officials. He will be
interviewed by the government once again. He will be escorted at that point by two Australian Border Force officials so he is effectively in detention
from that point and he will then go to his lawyer's office.
We know that there will be a 10:15 a.m. local time, the first hearing. The initial hearing from the federal court of Australia. So it has been
referred to a superior court. The judge saying that that could well make it quicker knowing that time is of the essence for him. So what we heard from
Djokovic's lawyers Friday night, which was interesting, they alluded to what the reasons for this second cancellation of the visa was saying that
the minister believed that Djokovic staying in the country would, quote, "excite anti-vax sentiment in the community."
Now they rejected that, as you might expect that they would. But it gives us some kind of idea of what the tone of this visa cancellation might be.
The statement from the immigration minister being very short in itself but did say that he believed it was in the public best interest to do so --
GORANI: So we're talking about this case going to the federal court today, your time. It's already Saturday where you are. They're going to have to
rule very quickly because the whole thing, the whole tournament starts on Monday.
HANCOCKS: That's right. And his lawyers have pointed out that they would like to see this done as quickly as possible. Now there is, we're hearing
from immigration lawyers, one thing that his lawyers are likely to be pushing for which is this bridging visa which you can have issued by a
court and it effectively means that an individual is allowed to work while their case is being heard and being decided on.
Now of course Djokovic's work is to play tennis so in theory his lawyers will be pushing hard for this. This bridging visa allowing him to play in
the Australian Open while this case and the hearings are ongoing. It's just not clear at this point what will happen, though. We should get some more
indication in about eight hours' time when that initial hearing starts. The lawyers still fighting for Djokovic to remain in the country to be able to
play in the Australian Open.
But we have heard from other immigration lawyers that being in the public interest, the fact the immigration minister has used this argument in the
public interest is quite wide and may make it more difficult for Djokovic's lawyers to win.
GORANI: All right. This has been dragging on for a long time. I'm sure Australians just want a decision one way or the other. We'll keep following
My next guest offered this opinion, tweeting, "The Djokovic decision is a vindictive political act. An immigration minister with no legal
qualifications overruling a federal judge. It smacks of government by opinion poll." That's chief sports writer for the "Telegraph," Oliver
Brown, and he joins me now.
Thanks for being with us. Why should there be an exception made for Djokovic? I mean, the rules are clear.
OLIVER BROWN, CHIEF SPORTS WRITER, THE TELEGRAPH: Well, the goal posts keep shifting. The original visa cancellation was because they deemed, he had
insufficient grounds for a medical exemption. The grounds that they've made for a second cancellation are completely different. They're now saying that
it's to do with he might excite anti-vax sentiment in Melbourne and that seems implausible to me given Melbourne is a city with 93 percent of the
over 12 population vaccinated. And Djokovic hasn't been on record recently as delivering any messages that evangelize against people being vaccinated.
BROWN: So it seems like they're scrambling for any pretext to throw him out.
GORANI: But there are so many inconsistencies, though. First of all, he clearly broke COVID rules in Serbia. I know that has nothing to do with the
Australian immigration minister's decision, but then there's that inconsistency that he blamed on his team of -- on his immigration paperwork
saying he hadn't been anywhere in the two weeks preceding his trip to Australia, and he had been clearly. That should be taken into account,
BROWN: Absolutely, no, I agree with you. I mean, the travel declaration is, you know, a binding document so, you know, most immigration authorities and
for a lot of this process, Djokovic has been his own worst enemy. I mean, if I had been advising him, I would have told him to keep quiet for the
duration of his time in Australia, considering they let him in originally. Albeit after the period of detention.
I mean, by issuing that timeline of events in Serbia before he came to Australia, he didn't clarify anything. He merely muddied the waters. There
were obviously the issues of him mixing with children on December 16th, and also incredibly keeping an interview appointment with a French journalist
on December 18th while he was knowingly COVID positive.
So, I mean, it would be difficult to envisage anything that would turn Australian and public opinion against him so strongly. It's just that the,
you know, my point about this being political is that being strong on border is such a cornerstone of the Scott Morrison's government and they
have a federal election in four months' time and the kind of alacrity with which Morrison has seized on Djokovic as a political football is quite
GORANI: Well, like let's take a look at other potential issues that Djokovic will be facing. I mean, he goes to Roland-Garros. Emanuel Macron
says he wants to, quote, "piss off" people who are unvaccinated. Djokovic is unvaccinated and clearly, he does not want to get the jab. Why should he
be allowed to play in countries where people can't even go to a cafe if they don't have a full booster shot regimen on a vaccination card?
BROWN: Yes. No, I totally see that argument and I don't think he will be able to go to these tournaments. As you say with Macron, the French Open, I
would imagine they would enforce a very strict vaccine mandate, and it looks like the United States will as well for New York in late August. And
considering this is a guy going for his 21st grand slam and therefore the all-time record to lift himself clear of Federer or Nadal, it's more than
just a setback.
I mean, he is at risk of trashing his reputation around the world. But, you know, I think -- I think it is possible to, you know, it's possible for
people to be pro-vaccine and maybe a little bit uneasy about vaccine mandates.
BROWN: And so, you know, I think, you know, Djokovic hasn't proselytized an anti-vaccination message. He's most assuredly a vaccine skeptic.
BROWN: But I think the way he's portrayed as a poster boy for the anti-vax movement is a little bit of a stretch.
GORANI: Another question is what do his fellow -- what do tennis pros think because do they also want to be involved in tournaments where there is such
a prominent anti-vaxxer playing. What are they saying on the circuit?
BROWN: Well, Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece was quite intriguing this week. He was withering about Djokovic, saying he was making a mockery of the
system and making the other players look like fools, but that's not a uniform opinion. One of the most interesting perspectives came from Nick
Kyrgios, the Australian player, always very outspoken, and who has a history of absolutely detesting Djokovic.
I mean, he said barely a year ago, I can't stand the guy. He's just trying to be loved and he wants to be like Federer. But on this occasion, he
believes that this has made Australia look too draconian. He's described Djokovic's treatment in that glorified detention center as inhumane. So by
no means all tennis players are railing against him.
GORANI: All right, Oliver Brown, chief sports writer for "The Telegraph," thanks so much for joining us. Appreciate it.
In his home country of Serbia, Djokovic is a national hero. He's got a lot of support from his fans. Our team caught up with his longtime friend,
Serbian former professional tennis player Viktor Troicki in Belgrade. He said he spoke to Djokovic earlier today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VIKTOR TROICKI, FORMER PROFESSIONAL TENNIS PLAYER: I don't know if it's about elections, but it's clearly a political statement, political act. I
mean, all the, you know, government of Australia is concerned and is involved in this situation and they are making their decisions and
overturning the federal law which is, for me, not understandable at all. And I'm very surprised and shocked by it all.
He's very mentally strong and let's just say he was getting ready for the new trial and the new -- yes, for the -- with his lawyers getting ready for
new court and hopefully he'll still get a chance. I'm hoping he'll get a chance to play. But looking at it right now, they are just complicating
things and making it more uncertain and really difficult.
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: The former Serbian professional tennis player who spoke with Djokovic recently. We'll have much more on this saga with our "WORLD SPORT"
team in just under half an hour. Fellow players are expressing exasperation at what has turned into this prolonged story. We'll hear what some of them
have to say directly.
Just ahead, did Downing Street break more COVID rules as the U.K. mourned Prince Philip? Why the British prime minister is under even more fire
GORANI: Well, you could argue it's probably the last thing Boris Johnson wants to be doing, and that is apologizing to the Queen, to Buckingham
Palace, over fresh revelations about COVID rule-breaking parties. Britain's "Telegraph" paper reports that two Downing Street parties were held the
night before Prince Philip's funeral last April.
You'll remember this now iconic image of the Queen sticking to the rules and sitting alone as she mourned her husband of several decades. All of
this putting more pressure on the prime minister.
Selma Abdelaziz is following the story for us. She is in London and she joins me now live with more.
So what did the -- what did 10 Downing Street tell the palace? Do we have the wording of this apology?
SELMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's definitely more I'm sorrys today from Prime Minister Boris Johnson describing the incident as something
deeply regrettable. They've apologized directly to the Queen, directly to Buckingham Palace, and I will tell you why, Hala. I'm going to bring up
that picture again that you just showed our viewers because this is the heart of the matter.
The Queen sitting alone in the chapel by herself, socially distanced, following COVID rules when at 10 Downing Street the night before, those
were the very rules that were being broken, Hala. This is what we're looking at here is the sense across this country that while people were
making great sacrifices, unable to bury their loved ones, unable to say good-bye to the people that they lost during this pandemic, those who were
setting the rules were breaking them at 10 Downing Street.
The latest allegation is the night before this funeral, there was a party, two parties actually, held inside 10 Downing Street because the former
director of communications was leaving. Apparently that warranted a party and a very boozy one at that. The "Telegraph" reporting that one attendee
was sent out with an empty suitcase to fill it with even more booze, Hala, and bring it back. There was dancing. There was staying up late into the
This is absolutely not the atmosphere or the authority or the respect that you would expect of 10 Downing Street while a pandemic is happening. While
people are locked down. Now how is Prime Minister Boris Johnson handling this? Well, it's distraction, distraction, distraction. All of his
officials, all cabinet members taking to the airwaves today, going on the air and saying, it's time to move on. Let's talk about something else.
I have one example. Liz Truss, the foreign secretary, take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LIZ TRUSS, BRITISH FOREIGN SECRETARY: I think we now need to move on and talk about how we are going to sort out issues. I've spent the last 24
hours with the E.U. talking about sorting out the situation for the people of Northern Ireland and we now need to get on with that. And, of course,
wait for the results of the Sue Gray inquiry.
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
ABDELAZIZ: Let's talk about Northern Ireland, let's talk about the G7, let's talk about the vaccine, let's talk about anything else but what is
happening. That's the message from Prime Minister Boris Johnson's top officials today. But it's not going to work, Hala. Because as you heard
there, there is an ongoing investigation into now this growing list of incidences and you can only imagine the concern for the prime minister is
that somewhere there he could be implicated -- Hala.
GORANI: All right. Thank you very much. I didn't party this much in my 20s. Thanks very much, Selma Abdelaziz.
More developments now involving the Queen's second son. The source tells CNN Prince Andrew will, quote, "continue to defend himself against the
civil sex abuse lawsuit in the U.S." That's as the British royal family further distances itself from the Duke of York. Andrew has consistently
denied the allegations.
You're seeing some front pages of British newspapers, by the way. He's continued to defend himself, denied that he'd done anything wrong but he's
losing all of his military titles and charities. And a royal source confirms to CNN that the duke will no longer use HRH in any official
Our royal correspondent Max Foster is outside London and he joins me now live.
So when he says he's going to defend -- first of all, where is he going to get the money to defend himself? Because as many of our viewers know, legal
action in the United States costs a lot of money. It's expensive.
MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: No idea. He obviously has a small naval pension. He's got some properties he could potentially sell as you
It's not going to be the millions that he'll need to pursue this for a year or potentially two. It's a huge question. So therefore you see he would
have to go to his mother to ask for help and then we end up in the situation where we are where she's effectively cast him out from the
monarchy. Not the family, but the monarchy. And you wonder if conversations about money did come into that because he wouldn't have been able to raise
private funds as long as he wasn't an HRH, a part of the monarchy.
Now he's a private citizen. He can do as Prince Harry has done as a private citizen, go out and earn money, potentially take loans. So we don't know
whether this is part of the conversation that's been going on behind palace walls. But he now does have the potential at least to raise some private
money to fund this very expensive process he's going into.
FOSTER (voice-over): Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, will no longer be called "His Royal Highness" according to a royal source. And all his
military titles and royal patronages have been returned to the Queen, and he won't get them back, the source says. He's still part of the family, but
he's out of the firm. He'll focus instead on defending himself as a private citizen in a U.S. lawsuit.
The decision followed a U.S. judge's ruling this week that a civil sex abuse case against Prince Andrew can proceed. Virginia Giuffre says she was
only 17 when she was trafficked by convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein to the royal, who she alleges sexually abused her in three different
locations. Prince Andrew denies her allegations and says he never even met her.
Giuffre's lawyer told the BBC he didn't think his client was interested in a purely financial settlement. A source close to Andrew says, quote, "This
is a marathon, not a sprint, and the duke will continue to defend himself against these claims."
GLORIA ALLRED, ATTORNEY FOR VIRGINIA GIUFFRE: Not comfortable to have to sit there and answer questions in this lawsuit. He's not going to be able
to evade and dodge. He's going to have to step up now and answer.
FOSTER: Andrew has been under scrutiny for years for his relationship with the late Epstein and his associate Ghislaine Maxwell. Though the
relationships have damaged his reputation, the prince hasn't been charged with any criminal wrongdoing.
Maxwell was also found guilty last month on five federal charges, including sex trafficking of a minor.
After a disastrous U.K. TV appearance in 2019 where he tried and failed to clear his name, the duke temporarily stepped back from public duties.
PRINCE ANDREW, DUKE OF YORK: I can absolutely categorically tell you it never happened.
FOSTER: The lawsuit is another blow to the 95-year-old Queen who, in the past year, has endured the death of her husband Prince Philip and been
leveled with allegations of institutional racism against the palace by her grandson Harry the Duke of Sussex and wife Meghan in an interview with
Oprah Winfrey. At the time the palace described the claims as concerning and said they'd be dealt with privately.
Who knows how she feels as a mother and grandmother about the family's trials and tribulations. But as a monarch, she's known to put duty first
and casting Andrew out was the only way she could protect the family firm from further reputational harm.
FOSTER: An indicator today as well, Hala, that the public, you know, have felt embarrassed by this as well. There's a campaign in York, a city in
northern England, to have Prince Andrew's Duke of York title away -- taken away because they're embarrassed with all the association of all of this
that's left. So it's a huge problem. A huge embarrassment for Prince Andrew.
GORANI: And is the expectation that Prince Andrew will travel to the United States to defend himself?
FOSTER: I don't think that is the expectation. We don't even know. He'll certainly be asked to depose, but we'll have to wait to see whether or not
he agrees to sit down and speak in a deposition which could last hours. Presumably he could do it remotely. Presumably lawyers could come over to
the U.K. to do that. But as soon as he's in the U.S., then he's open to that jurisdiction there.
So I don't know why, you know, if you look at the way he's handled the whole of this case so far, it seems he's not going to expose himself more
than he needs to. So we'll wait to see. I think he could be enforced to go over to the U.S. but he could potentially through the U.K. courts be
enforced or forced to at least give some sort of testimony here in the U.K.
GORANI: Thank you, Max Foster.
There may be a big development in the corruption case involving former Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Sources tell CNN his team is
talking with prosecutors about a possible plea deal. Netanyahu is facing charges in three separate cases.
What happens next could determine whether he's able to launch his political comeback.
Hadas Gold is in Jerusalem with more. So how could he even envisage a political comeback with all these legal problems hanging over his head?
HADAS GOLD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, that political comeback hope could be determined by the details of the plea bargain specifically the length of
the sentence and a certain label that could be applied depending on the length of the sentence. But I want to back up just a little bit. So
remember in 2019, Netanyahu was charged in three separate cases on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust.
Now the trial has already begun. Witnesses have already been called up for months now. But we have now confirmed with two sources close to the matter
that Netanyahu, the former prime minister, is in current negotiations with the attorney general about a plea bargain.
Now this is what we understand is part of this possible deal. So as part of the deal the most serious charge of bribery would be dropped. Another
charge of fraud and breach of trust would be watered down, and one of the three cases would just be completely shelved. It sounds pretty good
probably for Netanyahu, but the main hang-up in this negotiation is the length of the sentence.
And that sentence would likely be a suspended sentence in favor of community service. But the main number here is three because if the
sentence is more than three months long, then prosecutors could try to ask with the label of moral turpitude attached to this case and what that means
in Israeli law is it would bar Benjamin Netanyahu from running for public office for seven years.
If it's less than three months, then all he has to do is resign from his position in parliament, even if the charges go forward he'd be a private
citizen and he can run again. Now Benjamin Netanyahu is 72 years old. So seven years would bring him close to 80 years old. And also seven years is
a long time in politics. But the question could be sort of why is he doing this now? These charges came forward in 2019.
Netanyahu has always called these charges a witch hunt and said that he will fight them to the end, said that he is innocent. Well, the main thing
here is the attorney general. He was actually appointed while Benjamin Netanyahu was prime minister. While they're not necessarily best friends,
he's definitely seen as potentially being more favorable towards Netanyahu than whoever the next person would be.
And this attorney general, his term is ending at the end of the month. So there's definitely a timing issue here in question. But it will be all up
to the details. And the big question will be, whether these are just negotiations. Is there some sort of politics behind this or will this turn
into a real plea bargain -- Hala.
GORANI: All right. Thank you, Hadas Gold.
We've got two big stories ahead involving Russia and Ukraine. What the U.S. says Russia is planning to justify an invasion of Ukraine. And Ukraine was
hit by a cyberattack today, a day after those high-stakes talks on the standoff that ended without any resolution.
We'll be right back.
GORANI: I want to get to some breaking news now. U.S. intelligence says it has information that Russia is preparing what's known as a false flag
operation to create a pretext for an invasion of Ukraine. The U.S. official says there's evidence that operatives trained in urban warfare will carry
out acts of sabotage against Russia's own proxy forces in eastern Ukraine. Earlier Friday Ukraine's Defense Ministry made a similar allegation.
And this, of course, announcement comes hours after a cyberattack disabled several Ukrainian government Web sites. Officials there say no personal
data was compromised. The cyberattack follows a series of meetings this week in Europe aimed at defusing the standoff but both sides have said
basically that they got nowhere.
Natasha Bertrand is covering the latest news out of Washington and our senior international correspondent Sam Kiley is in Kiev.
Natasha, let me start with you. So, first, break it down for us. U.S. intelligence agencies are saying that Russia is preparing a false flag
operation to justify an invasion of Ukraine. It sounds complicated when I lay it out like that. Could you explain further what this might mean?
NATASHA BERTRAND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Hala. So basically what they're seeing is very similar picture to what happened in
2014. They say that it's part of Russia's playbook essentially to create a situation that they then say to the international community that they have
to react to in order to justify an invasion.
So what the U.S. intelligence community has found, according to U.S. officials, is that Russia has actually been prepositioning groups of
operatives in eastern Ukraine, that contested region of eastern Ukraine, where they have backed separatists for about seven years now, in order to
carry out an attack on Russia's own forces and blame the Ukrainians for it. Thereby saying we need to defend ourselves and justifying a further
incursion into Ukraine.
So the U.S. is clearly trying to get ahead of this scenario, releasing this information which has been downgraded in classification publicly. So that
the world can see what U.S. intelligence has found, which is that Russia is allegedly planning to carry out this provocation against its own forces and
blame Ukraine for it, which is known as a false flag operation.
Now Ukraine's Defense Ministry released a statement earlier today indicating that they had similar intelligence. That in the eastern parts of
the country, there have been Russian operatives that have been prepositioned there and, of course, the U.S. has been trying to de-escalate
the situation in talks with the Russians this week. Clearly the U.S. now seeing that those talks have not been very productive given that the
Russians have allegedly started already this planning for potential justification for war.
GORANI: All right, Natasha Bertrand, thanks very much.
Let's move over to Sam Kiley. He's in Kiev. Natasha mentioned the fact that Ukrainian officials also have warned against the possibility of Russia
using a false flag attack to justify an invasion. And this is all happening on a day that there was a big hacking operation in Ukraine. Is this all
linked? I know you also spoke with the deputy prime minister.
SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, yes, Hala, I think if, as is likely, certainly from the Ukrainian perspective that the
cyberattack which affected some 70 different government websites, not the Ministry of Defense or the Interior Ministry, so not some of the crucial
ones but includes the Foreign Ministry. These were low-level denial of service type attacks which affected the ability of the Web sites to
function and posted a claim of responsibility from an obscure separatist group warning Ukraine of future dramas to come.
Now in the context, of course, the failed talks that we've seen all week with bilaterals between Russia and the United States. Russia and NATO, the
OSCE all involving of course Ukrainian officials shuttling backwards and forwards to all the various European capitals as part of this effort to
head off or dial down the level of Russian interference and Russian threat coming from 120,000 troops gathered on or very close to Ukraine's border.
So in that context, Hala, a very worrying development. And one that the deputy prime minister here who is part of the -- well, head of the group
that runs the file dealing with joining NATO and the European Union is very anxious about. She's been calling for more military help urgently for
Ukraine. This is how our interview went.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OLGA STEFANISHYNA, UKRAINIAN DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER: Let's make it clear that we as Ukrainians, we understand that no other nation would fight for
Ukraine and its territory. But what we understand also clearly that if Europe wants to sleep well and to feel that their democracy is safe, they
should invest in Ukraine's defense. They should make sense that our army is twice as capable as it can be to deter and to fight against Russian
KILEY: Why do you think he's doing this?
STEFANISHYNA: Well, I think first of all it's very much positively serves to his internal narrative because, look, this was the leader who has been
known in his country as the one ignored by the democratic world, by somebody who has not been seen as a counterpart for the dialogue and now
immediately he is the leader presenting the big country, showing that he's trying to establish new spheres of influence.
KILEY: So do you think he's bluffing? He's bluffed his way to international multilateral prominence? Is that really his end game? He doesn't really
have any intent to send tanks into Kiev?
STEFANISHYNA: Well, I don't think it's of his interest because basically sending tanks to Kiev would be the end of his game. Of course, we could
have a fully pledged war in the center of Europe and Ukraine will fight against this aggression, but that would be his end. Nothing would follow
after this military aggression, but before this military aggression, he has huge room for maneuver to raise the stakes and to play in the spheres where
he is allowed to play.
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
KILEY: Now, Hala, this false flag allegation, coming first Ukraine relates to possible preemptive attack on their own people or own allies in Moldova
by Russia to justify some kind of an attack or incursion into Ukrainian territory and now another one it seems coming from U.S. intelligence
relating to the Donbas, the occupied territory effectively in eastern Ukraine with Russian-backed rebels also where they've of course annexed
Clearly indicating that the stakes are extremely high and also sending a signal from the -- from Washington, D.C., to the Kremlin, basically saying
we know what you're up to because we've seen it all before -- Hala.
GORANI: All right, Sam Kiley in Kiev, thanks very much.
A quick break. When we come back in sports, Novak Djokovic has many detractors but he also some defenders. We'll hear what some other
professional tennis players think about this drawn-out saga to play in the Australian Open because it's not over yet. We'll be right back.
GORANI: It may be tough for Americans to see the Winter Olympics firsthand. China has canceled dozens of international flights as it tries to combat
COVID. At issue is China's so-called circuit breaker rule. It says any airline arriving in China with five passengers who test positive must be
suspended for two weeks. For the U.S., that could mean no China-bound flights leading up to the Olympics.
The prolonged controversy over Novak Djokovic's efforts to compete in the Australian Open are causing exasperation among some of his fellow tennis
players. Listen to Andy Murray.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDY MURRAY, COMPETING IN THE AUSTRALIAN OPEN: Just want it, obviously, to get resolved. I think it would be good for everyone if that was the case.
It just seems it's dragged on for quite a long time now. And yes, not great for the tennis. Not great for the Australian Open. Not great for Novak.
Yes, obviously a lot of people have criticized, obviously, the government here as well. So it's, yes, not been good.
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Well, "WORLD SPORT's" Amanda Davies is here with more.
What a saga we're still talking about. I guess we'll get some closure in the next 24 hours when Djokovic lodges his final appeal.
AMANDA DAVIES, WORLD SPORT ANCHOR: Yes, I think that's it, Hala. It's a complete debacle. And that message from Andy Murray there, you sense it's
growing amongst the tennis community. Well, some of the players might have had some sympathy for the situation that Novak Djokovic found himself in
having traveled to Australia after his admission that he had, yes, made mistakes on his immigration form, that he hadn't stuck to COVID-19
protocols having tested positive.
The fact that this is still going on as they are trying to focus on what is one of the biggest tournaments on the calendar. The kickoff to the year,
the frustration is really growing. Former coach of Andy Murray, former coach of Andre Agassi, Darren Cahill, has described it as a mess. Janko
Tipsarevic, a fellow Serb of Novak Djokovic, has called it toxic saying shame on each and everyone involved.
And there is a feeling that with now just three days to go until the opening matches at the Australian Open, a resolution needs to be found and
that is what we're going to be looking at in "WORLD SPORT" in just a couple of minutes.
GORANI: All right. Well, we are all, even people who do not cover the sporting world every day like you do are all waiting with great
anticipation because this has really transcended the world of tennis and world of sport. We, I believe, are taking a quick break and we'll see you
on the other side, Amanda.
DAVIES: A total soap opera. That does not reflect well on anybody, as Patrick McEnroe is saying. Novak Djokovic back in front of the immigration
officials with a federal court hearing set for Saturday and Sunday. A story we will very much continue to cover here on "WORLD SPORT" and across CNN
over the coming hours and days. Back to you now.
GORANI: I think you'll have a wider audience for "WORLD SPORT" over the next 48 hours than you normally have.
Thank you so much, Amanda. I'll be back with more CONNECT THE WORLD after a short break.