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Ukraine: Russia continues "Storm Offensive" at Steel Plant; Dozens Feared Dead after School Shelter Bombed in Ukraine; WWII Vets in Ukraine fear they may see another World War; Marcos Jr., has Unofficial Lead in Philippine's Presidential Vote; Putin on Invasion: This was the Only Correct Decision. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired May 09, 2022 - 11:00   ET



ELENI GIOKOS, CNNI HOST: I'm Eleni Giokos in Dubai. Hello, and welcome to the second hour of "Connect the world". With Russian forces bombing

buildings and battling fighters in Ukraine.

President Vladimir Putin is using the specter of World War Two to justify his latest war. It is Victory Day a major holiday in Russia marking its

1945 win over Nazi Germany. The government marked it with a show of military might here in Red Square.

This year, the holiday took on somewhat of a different meaning, Putin has falsely claimed Russia needed to defend Ukraine against a Western invasion

and de-Nazifying it. Take a listen.


VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT: I am now aggressing our armed forces and militias of Donbas; you are fighting for the Motherland for its future. No

one forgets the lessons of the Second World War, so that there is no place in the world for execution as punishes and Nazis.


GIOKOS: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said his country is proud of its own role in defeating the Nazis. He predicted Ukraine would notch up

another victory soon.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT: We are fighting for our children's freedom. And therefore we will win. We will never forget what

our ancestors did in World War Two, which killed more than 8 million Ukrainians.

Very soon there will be two victory days on Ukraine. And someone won't have any. We won then. And we will win now, happy victory over Nazism day.


GIOKOS: The pomp and pageantry is going on in Russia while civilians are dying every day in Ukraine. For more I want to bring in former NATO

commander retired U.S. Army General Wesley Clark, General, really good to see you.

You know, we've been talking throughout the start of this war. And I think, you know, Victory Day was anticipated to have some kind of clue into Putin

stance whether declaring war officially, or perhaps declaring victory. What did you think of what he said?

GEN. WESLEY CLARK (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, I think he's put himself into a box. And I think his speech shows that. The Russian military

doesn't have enough combat power to do what he thought it could do when he launched the invasion on the 24th of February.

And having been restructured and going after Donbas, it still doesn't have enough combat power. On the other hand, he can't find a way to back out of

his rhetoric and his claim for Ukraine.

And so I think he believes he can handle it in the long term, just keep grinding away, and eventually the Ukrainian will collapse spiritually,

materially and the west will give up. But I think he's making a mistake on that.

GIOKOS: So I mean, you know, it's very seldom that an aggressor would admit defeat, it would mean admitting humiliation. And I think that Putin and his

generals have just one choice to try and declare victory and certain strongholds, and we're seeing that occurring in certain parts.

If we look at the map, in terms of with his Russian occupation, Mariupol seems to be incredibly vital. And they're looking at port cities. We're

seeing a lot of activity in the Black Sea. What are you making of firstly, the story that he's building up in Russia in terms of rhetoric versus the

reality on the ground?

CLARK: So I think that what we see in Mariupol, at least just the latest information I have is that the Azov group is still hanging on in Mariupol.

So Russians don't have complete control of the city.

Despite all of the destruction they've waged, they want control they want the southern corridor cleared all the way from the Russian border. So they

can go after through Kherson, go after Odessa, but they don't have that yet.

And in the north, they haven't been able to really encircle the Ukrainian forces. There's a new pontoon bridge that's been put in over the north

Donets River, and maybe that will give them some leg up. I'm sure the Ukrainians are working hard against that potential and that rationing

threat to themselves. So I think we're in a position as we've been in where it's a real struggle.


CLARK: It's a battle of relative reinforcement relative logistics of who can get there with more firepower sooner to be able to hold that


GIOKOS: I want to talk about Mariupol for a second, because I think we've been covering the battle of the city for quite some time now. And it seems

very unlikely that Putin is going to try and withdraw it at any point.

What would the Ukrainians need to gain full control of Mariupol? And how, what kind of assistance could the west give to the Ukrainians right now?

And I know, getting in and out of the city is difficult, but it just seems like such a vital city to try and save.

CLARK: Well, I think it's possible that there are still Ukrainian forces that could infiltrate in and possibly reinforce the steel plant at

Mariupol. How they would get in there? Of course, we don't know that.

But I think it's always possible because there's no airtight cord-on around a big area like Mariupol. There's always ways to get a few men, 100 men,

200 men in and out, if you're willing to take the risk, beyond that, to really launch in and break open that Russian grip, that's 100 Kilometer 150

Kilometer attack.

It's several armored battalions, maybe, let's call it 100, 150 tanks, a lot of artillery, some infantry to go in there and push open and break that

Russian grip on the south.

I'm sure the Ukrainians want to do that. But it's a matter of relative combat power. And where do they want to deploy that combat power, where

it's most effective on the battlefield.

So why we're in the Ukrainian position, I'd be holding on in Mariupol and still working against Donbas.

GIOKOS: Yes. The sacrifices of Ukraine, the Ukrainian army and frankly, of civilians, general have been perhaps unsettling to the Russians. And

that's, you know, very interesting that you say that Putin is sort of stuck in terms of what he'd be doing next.

You know, the west has been very vocal about Ukrainian - Ukraine winning this war. Zelenskyy has been saying it as well, in terms of, you know, the

potential for a second victory day for them as well.

With everything that we have at the moment with our understanding of what were the Russians on and what the Ukrainians have at hand to fight? How do

you think this is going? Are you surprised at the resilience? Why are you concerned about where we are at the moment?

CLARK: Well, first of all, I think everyone has to be very impressed by the Ukrainian's resilience, they've been remarkable.

From the political level down to the individual Ukrainian soldiers, they've been, for the most part, incredibly effective, resourceful, agile, and they

fought off a superior force a materially superior force, where it goes in the summer all the grounds drying out in Donbas, pretty soon it'll be open

for unrestricted armor maneuver.

At that point, superior maneuver forces will be able to go out and outmaneuver the artillery and fires that have been restricting both the

defense and the advance of the Russians at this point.

So by June, mid-June, it's going to be a different battlefield in eastern Ukraine, Russians know that Ukrainians have to be ready for it. They're

going to need airpower.

They're going to need long range rocket artillery, which they don't have insufficient numbers at this point, either one. So I hope the west will

continue to provide them what they need.

I think it's feasible if the west provides enough military support in there that they can actually eject the Russians from Donbas.

GIOKOS: Yes. We're at an absolutely critical juncture for so many of the cities that are currently at risk at the moment. Thank you so very much

General, really good to see you and we appreciate your analysis.

Now in a village in eastern Ukraine, it is left sifting through the ashes after Russian airstrike targeted a school where some 90 civilians were

taking shelter over the weekend, dozens of people are feared dead. Sam Kiley spoke to some of the survivors.


SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): This for Vladimir Putin is what a modern Russian victory looks like. Dozens dead or

missing from a Russian airstrike on a Russian speaking village, as part of a Russian campaign that Putin says is to protect his kinfolk in Ukraine.

The rescue is a saying the heats overwhelming. Local authorities fear about 60 people died here. This was a school in Bilohorivka in Eastern Ukraine.

Villagers were sheltering in its basement. Some had been there for weeks; survivors were left with little bit grief. We asked if his family had been

with him. His mother didn't survive.


KILEY (on camera): It is not lost on anybody here that on the eve of Vladimir Putin celebration of the Soviet victory in the Second World War

over Nazi Germany.

It is civilians who are suffering the most in the name of Vladimir Putin's de-Nazification of Ukraine, a country with a Jewish president.

KILEY (voice over): I got slammed down by a slab bent into a ball, then another explosion, small rocks, sprinkle darkness.

Then I looked and the dust settled and a ray of light appeared. Sergey crawled out and then he dug me out, dug uncle Talia out, dug around Ira

out. We crawled all in a fog, he said.

Ukraine has stalled Russia's plans for conquest. So the Kremlin's added strategic sites like oil supplies to its target list, and stepped up its

airstrikes against civilians in eastern Ukraine this week hitting a residential block in the strategic city of Kramatorsk.

Ukrainian politicians refer to Putin's campaign ideology as a fascist creed, they call racism. Speaking soon after the latest airstrike, he said

they shoot prisoners they torture women and children, they rape they loot, they go step by step towards Nazism.

Such explanations for what is happening here, don't really answer the painful question, why? Sam, Kiley, CNN.


GIOKOS: All right. Since Sara Sidner is in Kyiv, with a story of two World War Veterans in Ukraine who have a lot to say about what's happening now.


GIOKOS: Right, Sara?

SIDNER: So what we did was sat down with these two different Veterans. Both of them fought in World War Two both of them live here in Ukraine, one in

Kyiv, one just outside Kyiv.

And both of them are very disappointed disturbed, if you will, about the Soviets who they want fought alongside to try and stop the Germans now

leveling parts of this country.


SIDNER (voice over): --helped battle back the German advance in World War Two when Ukraine was part of the Soviet Union. His proudest moments helping

liberate Mariupol by sea.

We liberated Mariupol from the Germans in 1943. We went there with three warships and wrecked 11 different German ships, he says. 77 years after

victory day he has mixed feelings about Russia.

It pains him to say it but the country he wants fought for has turned into the enemy leveling the very same city he fought so hard to save from

Hitler's onslaught. For all of us who went through the war at the time, it hurts.

I want to take up arms now and go to defend the same places and my country, he says. His wife cannot contain herself as she listens to him, and lashes

out at the man she sees that's responsible for the new war, Vladimir Putin.

There shouldn't be anything like him on Earth, she says, he kills destroys our cities and villages. He destroys our defenseless people. On the

anniversary of Victory Day, there are no celebrations here, only mementos and memories.

It's no longer a holiday. It's very difficult, he says. There aren't many of us left. But - it is still here. The 96 year old World War Two veteran

doesn't have to remember the terror of war.

He's been given fresh memories. Russian tanks blasted a hole in the front of his home in the tree line suburb of Warsaw. He fought as a Soviet

against the Germans but has never had any love for the Soviets after he says he was jailed for speaking up against them.

I was awarded medals and orders for victory. But I did not recognize them and never wore them, he says. He says Putin's Russia has started a war it

cannot win. It's an atrocity. It's vandalism, he says, probably the leadership is stupid.

Only idiots would do this, start a war against Ukraine. Both men say they have the will to fight again, if not with their bodies than with their

words. Why am I smiling because I believe that we will rebuild this house and that Ukraine will win?



SIDNER: And his biggest worry after his home was head while his cats and his poultry and all of the books that he loves so dearly. He says, you

know, after his house was struck, it just made him want to fight harder against the Russian regime.

GIOKOS: Yes, Sara, it's such a brilliant piece. I mean, listening to some of the experiences of people that lived through World War Two, and the

lessons and again, the mistakes that have been repeated.

What really struck me is the fear or the possibility of a resumption of another World War. And you've been covering this war since it began. What

are average Ukrainians telling you about where this is headed? I mean, we've seen incredible resilience despite the atrocities and the losses.

SIDNER: Look, one thing tells you anything is here in Kyiv which was once under assault, there are still sirens going off. But life is starting to

return back to some semblance of normalcy.

There are restaurants that are now open, and with little street coffee shops that you can go down to the Maidan. People here are resilient, and

they're trying to restart their lives as the war rages in other parts of the country.

And part of the reason why they're doing that is to show that Ukraine is not going to just lie down, they will fight to the bitter and the president

saying they are fighting to win at this point, Russia obviously continues to bombard the eastern part of this country.

But there are so many people here, including children that we've seen along the streets who are starting to play war, if you will, it's both sad and

showing their resilience at stop points.

They are holding toy guns and doing checkpoints, trying to be like the adults. But everyone here is taking part in this effort, everyone here

fighting against any idea that Russia might win this war.

GIOKOS: All right, Sara, great to see you. Thank you so very much. Now votes are being counted after pivotal elections in the Philippines. It's

looking like they could be a landslide victory for a familiar name there.

And Sri Lanka's political crisis deepens as its prime minister calls it quits what happens now, with a country facing its worst economic crunch

since 1948.


GIOKOS: Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has a huge lead in the unofficial vote's counts in the Philippines if he wins the country's presidential election.

It would be a stunning return of the Marcos family to power.

He's the son of the former dictator who was ousted from power decades ago. Ivan Watson joins us now live from Hong Kong with the latest. Ivan,

fascinating turn of events but the return of the Marcos family, the son of a former dictator, why is he gaining popularity and what are his main

objectives for the country?


IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ferdinand Bongbong Marcos Jr. He ran on a platform where he was calling for unity. It

was a nostalgia ticket, so to speak, where he was talking about a golden age in the days when his father was the dictator, ruling nearly for a

decade under martial law with allegations of horrific human rights record and wild corruption that's still being investigated to this day.

But he was able to quite literally rewrite history in the eyes of the Filipino electorate and these preliminary results that we're seeing thus

far, they're unofficial.

But they seem to backup what the polls were suggesting, in the run up to today's election day, which he has more than doubled the votes of the

nearest rival, the outgoing Vice President Leni Robredo.

So it looks like history is in the making here and historical mandate potentially electoral mandate for Bongbong Marcos Jr. According to one

Filipino analyst, he thinks that this is the biggest majority mandate that a presidential candidate has had since 1969.

When Marcos senior, another Marcos won an election now, I'm not 100 percent sure about that. But this is the kind of historic shift we're talking

about. And it was echoed not only by the presidential candidate who comes from a political dynasty, but from his running mate, the vice presidential

candidate Sara Duterte-Carpio, who is the daughter of the outgoing President Rodrigo Duterte.

So this was a moment where two political families seem on the verge of taking over the reins of government for the next six years in the

Philippines. And it definitely indicates where the population where the electorate was leaning.

According to the Electoral Commission, you had record number of registered voters some 67.5 million voters is truly a remarkable moment here taking


There were allegations of disinformation and social media of fake news being spread and of trolls and some nasty behavior there. Also reports of

some of the vote counting machines malfunctioning that will have to be looked at.

Again, these are preliminary results, but these margins here Eleni are so big, it really looks like a potential landslide victory for Marcos, Jr.,

back to you.

GIOKOS: Absolutely. Yes, it looks big numbers. Absolutely, we'll definitely touch base on the change in the political landscape in the Philippines.

Ivan Watson, thanks so much.

Now Sri Lanka's Prime Minister has resigned following weeks of civil unrest and the country's worst economic crisis since declaring independence. Will

Ripley is in the region tracking developments from Taipei, Taiwan.

Well, I have to say when we look at how quickly the economy deteriorated inflationary pressures, and also the discontent that we've seen from the

ground, I'm sure people weren't actually surprised by this resignation, but more so why it took so long?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, well, it's also the second time that he's resigned as prime minister. He's a fourth term Prime Minister, two

term president, his brother is currently president. And so he certainly has protection from the top in terms of government, but on the on the ground,

people are outraged.

Even though Sri Lanka has really been hit since basically 2019, you know, with tragedy after tragedy, you had the Easter bombings. Then you had the

COVID-19 pandemic.

Then just as the country was reopening for tourism, there's a major Cargo Ship fire that dumps plastic pellets all over their beaches, cutting

tourism numbers again. So they're having a really rough go of it.

But what these anti-government protesters are accusing the Prime Minister, the now former French Prime Minister, Mahinda Rajapaksa of is corruption,

financial mismanagement, and they are choosing that as kind of a family deal.

I mean, already, when you're a president in Sri Lanka, when you retire, you get a house, you get the car, you get security, you get an office, you get

your pay that will pay when you left.

And then your widow gets that after. I mean, there's just a lot of people who are struggling right now in Sri Lanka to even put food on the table and

when they're seeing these political elite, continuing to live the high life.

Yes, there were calls for him to resign for weeks. He pushed back, they deployed paramilitary, they deployed police. They even deployed troops. But

in the end, you know, with so many people being injured with you know, arson attacks, and these things going on for weeks and just getting more

and more violent, the decision was made.

The hope is that this will pacify the anti-government protesters. The question now though you know what about his brother who still has a

considerable couple of years left on his term?


GIOKOS: Yes, that's an interesting question. That was I was going to say in terms of succession planning, or in terms of replacement. What is on the

cards right now?

RIPLEY: Look, there's, it's, what do you? You have the opposition party, you have the ruling party, there are ruling party supporters out with

crowbars fighting for their perspective, then there's opposition party.

They're still trying to piece together what exactly is going to happen. You still have a president in power that these protesters are also accusing of

corruption and financial mismanagement.

So the question is going to be, is the prime minister's resignation enough to temper this for now to bring the sides together for dialogue, some sort

of negotiation, or is the violence going to continue?

Are they really trying to completely change, you know, change the leadership in Sri Lanka, it wouldn't be the first time that there have been

attempted coups, this isn't a coup attempt.

These are protesters on the ground, fighting with police, fighting with ruling party supporters. So it's really a volatile situation. And it's

anyone's right now. Guess what's going to happen in the coming days and weeks.

GIOKOS: Will Ripley, thank you so much. Right, you're watching "Connect the World" live today from Dubai. Ahead on the program, Vladimir Putin defends

his invasion of Ukraine using false accusations against the west to help justify it with no quick victory and sights, will he escalate the war?

We'll discuss that with CNN's Stephen Collinson.

And I will talk more about how the west is responding to the war when I'm joined by the U.S. ambassador to NATO. That's a little later in the show,

stay with us.


GIOKOS: Russia's president is defending his invasion of Ukraine on the country's Victory Day. It honors the 27 million service citizens who died

in World War Two. Vladimir Putin used the occasion to praise Russian forces, but did not declare victory over Ukraine.

He justified his decision to invade by repeating false claims about the need to de-Nazify Ukraine. And perhaps more ominously that Russia is

preemptively defending itself against Ukrainian aggression boosted by military help from the west.

CNN's Stephen Collinson wonders how much further Putin will go writing. The U.S. roll at the vanguard of abroad western front against Putin, which is

resulting in heavy losses for the Russian army, is again raising questions about how far the Kremlin strong man can be pushed before he reacts.

And Stephen Collinson joins us now live from Washington.


Stephen, you know, is this a harbinger of things that possibly could come, is just how far Putin can be pushed? He's using the western line as part of

the reason that he invaded Ukraine to protect Russia. It's just whether he would really react to go beyond Ukraine's borders.

STEPHEN COLLINSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Yes, so I think it's clearly, as you say a question between rhetoric and action when it comes to

how Putin is reacting, this very strong western push to arm Ukraine to allow it to defend itself.

And western officials now speaking openly of the fact that they think Ukraine can win this conflict and they want Ukraine to win it. I think the

number one goal of the west and President Biden, specifically, since this invasion, was to ensure that western help for Ukraine to repel the invasion

did not mushroom into a wider conflict between Russia and the west, with all the dangerous prospect for escalation and even nuclear brinksmanship

that that could bring along with it.

I think so far that has been successful. We haven't seen wide-ranging cyberattacks perhaps from the Russians that some American officials

expected. There hasn't been an attempt by Russia to intercept the flow of weapons, at least outside Ukraine that are coming from western nations

which, of course, could end up trading a conflict between NATO and Russia.

But, that doesn't mean it couldn't happen. CIA Director Bill Burns warned this weekend in Washington that Putin cannot afford to lose this conflict

and the possibility that this could escalate and Russia could bring to the table, perhaps, tactical nuclear weapons or at least the threat to use them

can not be ruled out. So, I don't think anyone should be getting complacent here.

GIOKOS: Absolutely. And that was the warning, right? That things could escalate pretty quickly and what would Putin's move be. Because, you know,

according to Putin, this war already includes NATO just by the fact of (ph) the supply of weapons. NATO and allies have stopped short of, for example,

no-fly zones saying that that would mean their direct involvement. But there's a lot of gray areas here and it really depends on how Putin is

reading into this.

COLLINSON: Right. And that was why I think it was very interesting, last week we had several stories coming out of Washington about just how closely

the U.S. is allying with the Ukrainians in terms of giving them intelligence that led to successful Ukraine attacks, for instance, on some

Russian generals on the Moskva battleship. Now, the U.S. says that it's not giving targeted intelligence to the

Ukrainians, but that it's getting U.S. intelligence and it's up to them how to use it.

Whether that is a distinction that is seen in the Kremlin is another thing entirely, of course.

But, you know, going back to Putin's speech today, it was very interesting how he basically said that the invasion of Ukraine was triggered firstly

(ph) by the west being aggressive towards Russia on its borders and arming Ukraine in the first place.

In some ways, it suits Putin for this to be seen in Russia and outside Russia as a big clash between the West and Russia. You know losing a war

to Ukraine is one thing and could be embarrassing.

But, the fact that the west is involved, according to Putin, western weapons are being used, western intelligence being used, actually gives him

almost a little bit of a propaganda way out here.

So, clearly, it's in his interest to escalate the rhetoric against the west. What people are watching in Washington is whether there are any

preparations by Russia to kind of go beyond rhetoric and try and carry out some reprisals against the west.

And, of course, this is something, if you look --


COLLINSON: -- at Putin's record, interfering in U.S. elections and everything else. This will play out for over years not just the months

that this conflict goes on.

GIOKOS: He definitely has patience and we've seen that actually over the past decade. But, you mentioned tactical nuclear weapons and I -- it sort

of -- I'm worried when I hear, you know, President Putin saying we want to also humiliate the west or humiliate NATO.

Do you think the two are interlinked and that we have been on high alert of Putin potentially using nuclear weapons? When we've asked analysts or NATO,

even just President Biden, he says, you know, we don't even want to talk about that. That shouldn't even be on the cards. It is not right to even

consider this.

COLLISON: Well, the first thing to point out, I think, is that the U.S. officials say they have not detected any mobilization of Russia's tacticals

sort of lower-yield nuclear weapons that could potentially be used on a battlefield so far, despite the Russian rhetoric.

It's obviously in Russia's interest to keep talking about nuclear escalation to try to scare the west off, to keep this conflict within

certain bounds. So, that hasn't happened yet.


A lot of people do worry though about the idea that Putin cannot lose this conflict for prestige reasons, for his own political position in Moscow and

what would happen if he got to that last resort and he might think about using one of those weapons.

That, of course, is of huge propaganda value to the Russians, but a lot of people in Washington are very worried that you push him into a corner and

he's so desperate he could take desperate measures.

GIOKOS: Yes. Stephen Collinson, thank you very much for that analysis.

Now, as Russia marks Victory Day, Moscow's ambassador to Poland got a hostile reception in Warsaw. Sergey Andreev was doused with what looks

like red paint as he tried to lay a wreath at the cemetery of Soviet soldiers.

Russian state news agency, RIA Novosti, said Poles and Ukrainians blocked the ambassador's path.

The ambassador later said, he was not injured and police escorted him out of the cemetery. The Russian embassy in Poland has said it will formally

protest against the attack.

Now, North Korea is watching what happens in Ukraine very closely. And more importantly, the international reaction to Russia's actions. CNN's

Paula Hancocks explains.


PAULA HANCOCK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Meeting for the first time in 2019, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and Russian President Vladimir

Putin revived a decade's long alliance.

North Korea has unsurprisingly sided with Russia, calling the U.S., quote, "The root cause of the Ukrainian crisis." The war reinforcing a basic


ANDREI LANKOV, PROFESSOR KOOKMIN UNIVERSITY: Only one, but very important. Never, ever surrender your nuclear weapons. They have known it anyway for

decades and now they got yet another confirmation after Iraq, after Libya.

HANCOCKS (voice-over): Jong-un(ph) often makes the connection between the former leaders of Iraq and Libya giving up their nuclear ambitions then

losing power and ultimately their lives.

Ukraine agreed to transfer thousands of nuclear warheads to Russia after the Soviet Union broke up in 1991. It did not have an independent weapons


ANKIT PANDA, CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT FOR INTERNATIONAL PEACE: But I think the war in Ukraine really affirms the North Korean view of how the world works.

For -- you know -- the North Koreans, I think, have persistently rejected the idea of any form of international order really having an effect on how

states relate to each other.

HANCOCKS (voice-over): Kim is experiencing the most favorable weapons testing environment he has

seen in his 10 years in power. A split among United Nations Security Council permanent members, Russia and China on one side, the U.S., U.K. and

France on the other, means the chances of punishing North Korea are zero.

LANKOV: It is quite clear that China and Russia, if you bulk (ph) additional sanctions and France is not quite clear what else can you

possibly sanction.

HANCOCKS (voice-over): North Korea has launched more than a dozen missiles already this year,

including an intercontinental ballistic missile. Satellite imagery of the Punggye-ri underground testing site suggests a seventh nuclear test may

also be imminent.

North Korea invaded South Korea in 1950. The thought it might try again has long been dismissed. But, Russia's invasion of Ukraine and the west's

refusal to fight directly against a nuclear power is at least raising the question.

LANKOV: Maybe, just maybe, this American president of the year 2045 or 2055 will not risk San Francisco in order to save (inaudible).

HANCOCKS (on camera): North Korea could also benefit, potentially, from countries boycotting

Russian oil and gas. Cash strapped Pyongyang would be more than happy to pick up some of the slack from Moscow, potentially at a discount. And

certainly would appreciate dealing with a country that no longer feels constrained by U.S.-led sanctions.

Paula Hancocks, CNN, Seoul.


GIOKOS: And still ahead, I will be speaking to the U.S. Ambassador to NATO. And she says this is a day to remember, the lessons from the Second

World War as Europe is, again, under threat.



GIOKOS: May 9th, it's Victory Day in Russia and it's also a major holiday marking its 1945 win over Nazi German. And Vladimir Putin has used the

occasion to level another accusation of undo aggression at NATO.


VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA (through translator): We could see how military infrastructure was being developed. How hundreds of foreign

advisors were at work, regular supplies of the most modern weapons from NATO. Danger was increasing every day. Russia repelled this aggression in

a preventive way and this was the only correct decision and it was a timely decision.


GIOKOS: NATO, for its part, has strongly condemned Russia's invasion. Now, the U.S. ambassador to the military alliance tweeting Tuesday that

Putin's unjustified war is an assault on the people of Ukraine, including mothers and children.

Joining me now is Julianne Smith, the U.S. Ambassador to NATO.

Ambassador, thank you so very much for taking the time. Really good to see you. We listened to Vladimir Putin's speech. I think it was an

anticipation to sort of get a definitive view in terms of where he's taking this war.

Is there anything that stood out for you and for NATO, perhaps, in terms of showing where Putin plans to stop?

JULIANNE SMITH, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO NATO: Well, I think the speech really wasn't that surprising. What we heard from President Putin are the same

lines that we've heard over and over during this unprovoked war in Ukraine.

He continues to put forward lies and disinformation about NATO's role in Ukraine. You heard in the clip previously that he was trying to accuse

NATO of somehow starting this aggression, when in reality what happened here is clearly Russia went into Ukraine. NATO remains a defensive

alliance. And yes, individual allies have started providing lethal assistance to the Ukrainian military.

But what Putin put out was completely detached from reality. So no, it wasn't that surprising. The only thing that was a bit surprising is some

thought, perhaps, he would declare victory. He did not. And that's based on the fact that he doesn't have any victory to point to.

His troops are not succeeding on the ground in Ukraine and there's nothing for him to celebrate.

So, this was a speech, again, that did not reflect events on the ground. And it's sad that on this day, on Victory Day, that he's celebrating

aggression and oppression at the same time.

GIOKOS: Absolutely. Look, he also mentioned that part of the reason that he was forced to invade Ukraine is because of NATO's move east. And you've

just said that NATO has -- and allies have been providing lethal weapons to Ukraine. For Putin, and of the way he views it, he thinks that NATO's

already involved in his war in Ukraine.

What will you do, what will NATO do if Putin takes this assault, encroaches on NATO territory and a member country and is that your prognosis at this


SMITH: Well, I think right now what we're trying to do is individual NATO allies are providing security assistance to the Ukrainian military to help

them succeed on the ground.

NATO is also looking at ways in which it can reinforce its eastern flank to address the real security concerns that those countries have. And the

Transatlantic partners continue to apply maximum and unprecedented pressure on Moscow. That will remain the plan.


Our goal is to end the war in Ukraine. We don't want to see it expanded. Just on Putin's point though about Russia accusing NATO of moving forces

into Eastern Europe closer to Ukraine, the only time NATO troops moved closer to Ukraine was after Russia went into Ukraine in 2014 in the

attempted annexation of Crimea.

And then after Russia went back into Ukraine just earlier this year on February 24th, NATO did move additional force into Eastern Europe. He likes

to portray it as the reverse that NATO was the first to make the move. But in reality NATO's responding to Russian aggression inside Ukraine.

GIOKOS: He's absolutely been flipping the narrative. I want to talk about Finland and Sweden. We spoke to many people from both countries, in terms

of potential of joining NATO. Have you had any formal applications from those countries? And, what are you doing right now, in terms of getting

more members to NATO, at this point?

SMITH: Well, Finland and Sweden have not officially taken any decision to join the NATO alliance, but I think what they've heard from the Biden

administration, what they've heard from other NATO allies, is that there is a strong support for both of them, should they decided to join the


These are two countries that are very close partners to the NATO alliance, two countries that share NATO values, and two countries that have

exceptional militaries. We've exercised with them. We've trained with these forces. We've been on joint missions together.

And for that reason, I think showed they decide to formally request membership at anytime in the coming days and weeks, they would find that

the enthusiasm here at NATO headquarters to be quite high.

GIOKOS: Ambassador, you know, one more question, we are again bringing up the issue of possibility of tactical nuclear weapons being used by Vladimir

Putin, only because he was talking about wanting to humiliate NATO and the west. Are you looking at this as a possible scenario?

SMITH: Well, we take any mention of nuclear weapons very seriously. We worry. We find that type of language to be very dangerous. We would like to

see the nuclear saber rattling to stop. And obviously, that's something that we do discuss with our allies here at NATO. We hope that this is

simply rhetoric and that he will hold back and refrain from turning to any use of nuclear weapons.

GIOKOS: Ambassador, really good to see you. Thank you so very much for taking the time.

SMITH: Thank you.

GIOKOS: And, some news just into CNN and Britain's opposition labor party leader, Keir Starmer says, if he's fired by police over COVID breaches, he

will resign. British police recently said they will investigate an alleged lockdown gathering, attended by Starmer in April of last year.

It marks the latest twist of the so called Partygate scandal, which has engulfed U.K. politics for months. Take a listen.


KEIR STARMER, BRITISH LABOUR PARTY LEADER: I'm absolutely clear that no laws were broken. They were followed at all times. I simply had something

to eat while working late in the evening as any politician would do days before an election. But, if the police decided to issue me with a fixed

penalty notice, I would, of course, do the right thing, and step down.


GIOKOS: All right, Keir Starmer there, and we will continue to monitor that story. Now coming, up 5.7 million refugees have fled Ukraine. One

neighbor is doing its part to accommodate those seeking safe haven.



GIOKOS: A surprise concert in a metro station that doubles as a bomb shelter in Kyiv. And thankfully, there was no shelling to be heard; only

music performed by Bono from the rock band U2, and his band mate, The Edge. They performed a 40 minute set, and praised Ukrainians for their defiance

in the face of the Russian invasion.

Bono and The Edge also visited neighborhoods near Kyiv that were damaged in the fighting between Russian forces and the Ukrainian army. Bono says,

Russian president Vladimir Putin is to blame for this.


BONO, U2 SINGER: I think, it's -- it's one man's war really. And, I think there's people in Russia will -- will -- younger people know what's going

on, and I trust in the younger people in Russia to throw this man out of his office that was so high and is so low right now.


GIOKOS: Ukraine had other high profile visitors over the weekend. One of those, U.S. First Lady Jill Biden. She crossed into their country from

Slovakia, meeting with Ukraine's first lady on Sunday. This is the first time that Mrs. Zelensky has been seen in public since the war began. And

they gathered as a school that now serves as temporary housing for displaced Ukrainians.


JILL BIDEN, U.S. FIRST LADY: I wanted to come on Mother's Day. I thought it was important to show the Ukrainian people that this war has to stop and

this war has been brutal. And, that people of the United States stand with the people of Ukraine.


GIOKOS: And of course, those children and parents displaced by war are close to our -- all our hearts. And so for our parting shots tonight, we

bring you a story from Romania. The country doing its part to support Ukrainians' suffering from that war.

Of the nearly 5.9 million people fleeing Ukraine, more than 800,000 have sought safe haven in Romania, and its citizens and NGOs have mobilized to

support and welcome those refugees as best they can.


GIOKOS: After a long journey, a welcome rest, Bucharest north train station for those escaping the horrors of the war in Ukraine. Cristina Rosu

is one of the hundreds of volunteers supporting the new arrivals.


great care of them. But in long term, this is not something that a civil society can sustain. So, my concern is that the government has to step in,

prepare for -- for what's going to happen.

GIOKOS: More than 800,000 refugees have fled Ukraine to seek refuge in Romania since the start of the war, according to the U.N. Some, like

Valentina and her family, have been living rent free as guests of generous Romanians.

VALENTINA, UKRANIAN MOTHER AND REFUGEE FROM ODESA: We were very surprised because we didn't expect. We thought that we come here, and be like on our

own. We are very thankful, grateful for -- for the help.

GIOKOS: For many volunteers, it's also important to help new arrivals feel welcomed in other ways, especially the young ones.


MAXIMILIEN CARADJA: CO-FOUNDER OF THE CARADJA CANTACUZINO ASSOCIATION: Most of the ministries (ph) keep one or two suitcases of toys for the kids

but it's really not a priority so they came with really nothing. So every day, we try to -- to bring in toys, now that the weather is with us and

that spring has come and we made a donation (ph) and we provide, like, 40 footballs and basketballs. We are trying to comfort them with the stuff

that are considered a little bit not of luxury, but also non essential.

GIOKOS: Max and his team deliver toys, books, and games to the refugee children in and around Bucharest.

CARADJA: We try to provide maybe conditions so that they can live like (inaudible) and forget about this refugee status, so they are not refugees.

They are people, they are persons, which for most of them will start a new life or need the life waiting for them to come back to.

GIOKOS: A small act of kindness, making a big difference amidst the chaos of conflict.


GIOKOS: All right. And if you would like to safely and securely help people either in Ukraine, or those who have fled who may be in need of

food, shelter, and water; please go to, and you will find several ways that you can help.

And thanks so very much for joining us. That was "Connect the World." I'm Eleni Giokos in Dubai. CNN's coverage of Russia's invasion of Ukraine

continues after this short break. Stay safe.


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