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Finland Poised to Join NATO; Al Jazeera Journalist Killed during Israeli Raid in West Bank; Russia Diverting Troops to Kharkiv; Russia Using Hypersonic Weapons in War; China Faces More COVID-19 Deaths if Controls Lifted. Aired 10-10:40a ET

Aired May 11, 2022 - 10:00   ET





NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR (voice-over): Russian troops came to one man's home, he says, with an offer to make him a local

leader. It's not at all simple. He was the local mayor for them. That's why they never --

ELENI GIOKOS, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Retaking towns in the south of Ukraine. Tales of Russians troops trying to probe local

defenses and win people's loyalties.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If and when we join NATO and if we are admitted to NATO, what kind of relationship will we have with Russia?

GIOKOS (voice-over): As Finland considers a major decision, there are worries amongst the younger generation about the impact on the country's



GIOKOS (voice-over): And tension and tragedy in the West Bank. An Al Jazeera journalist was shot and killed following a conflict there.

I'm Eleni Giokos in Abu Dhabi. Welcome. This is CONNECT THE WORLD.

Two stories we're following: the death of a Palestinian American journalist while covering clashes at a refugee camp in the West Bank and

the Ukrainian counter offensive around Kharkiv.

There is growing calls for answers after the fatal shooting of a journalist on assignment in the West Bank. Al Jazeera blames Israel for the death of

Shireen Abu Akleh and calls it a coldblooded assassination. She was shot in the head while covering and anti-terrorism operation in Jenin.

I want to show you video taken just after she was shot. I must warn you, it is disturbing.


GIOKOS (voice-over): Hadas Gold covering the story for us.


GIOKOS: It is a very sad day.

What is Israel saying about the shooting?

HADAS GOLD, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: As you can see from that disturbing video, Shireen, a veteran correspondent, so well known across

the world and to the community here, was very clearly wearing a protective vest that says "press" across it and the protective gear that so many

journalists wear while reporting in the field.

She was shot as she was reporting on Israeli military operations in Jenin, where they are often carrying out counterterrorism operations, they say in

response to several attacks whose perpetrators have from come the Jenin area.

Her producer was also shot in the back. He is in stable condition, though. I want to play a video for you of what her producer says happened this

morning. Take a listen.


ALI AL-SAMUDI, PRODUCER (through translator): We were going in to film the army operation. Suddenly, one of them shot at us. They didn't tell us to

leave or to stop. They shot us. The first bullet hit me. The second bullet hit Shireen. They killed her with cold blood because they are killers

specializing in the killing of Palestinians.

They're claiming a Palestinian has killed her. There were no resistance groups near us. If the resistance was there, we wouldn't go to that area.


GOLD: Al Jazeera is calling on the international community to condemn and hold the Israeli occupational forces accountable for deliberately targeting

and killing our colleague, Shireen Abu Akleh.

The Israeli military say they came under heavy fire and returned fire. They initially brought up the possibility they were investigating whether she

was shot by what they say was indiscriminate Palestinian gunfire.

The recent statement from the IDF chief of staff says, at this stage it is not possible to determine from which shot she was hit and he expresses his

regret for her death. He says in order to get to the truth they have set up a special team to clarify the facts and present them as soon as possible.

The Israeli prime minister Naftali Bennett issued a statement earlier this morning which says, in part.

"According to the information we've gathered, it appears likely that armed Palestinians who were indiscriminately firing at the time were responsible

for the unfortunate death of the journalist.

"Israeli calls on the Palestinians to conduct a joint pathological analysis and investigation --


GOLD: -- "which will be based on the existing documentation and findings in order to get to the truth. So far the Palestinians have refused this


So clearly, there is a bit of a finger pointing going on right now but this is a tragic, horrific death. It's unnecessary, especially as it's a

correspondent who was doing her job, so clearly identified as a member of the press, while trying to cover the important news that is going on over


GIOKOS: A brave and fearless journalist. And we will be speaking to you later in the show. This is a story we are watching very closely as

information comes through. Much appreciate it.

I want to get to the other big story this hour, the war in Ukraine. It seems the tide may be turning in the Kharkiv region. The Ukrainian flag

flies there once again. Troops took back several settlements between Kharkiv and the Russian border.

One Ukrainian official says "Russia is very worried" about the counteroffensive there but warns Russia could still attack.

Meanwhile, the Kremlin says the people of Kherson in southern Ukraine should decide whether they want to be part of Russia or not. New Russian

installed leaders there plan to make a formal request to join the Russian Federation.

One Ukrainian adviser says the answer doesn't matter. The town will still be liberated. The top U.S. spy chief, in the meantime, doesn't see the war

ending anytime soon. In fact, she believes a more dangerous period lies ahead.


AVRIL HAINES, DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: And the current trend increases the likelihood that President Putin will turn to more drastic

means, including imposing martial law, reorienting industrial production or potentially escalatory military actions to free up the resources needed to

achieve his objectives as the conflict drags on or if he perceives Russia is losing in Ukraine.


GIOKOS: Scott McLean joins us now live.

Scott, we just reported that the tide may be turning in the Kharkiv region. The Ukrainian flag flies once again. Messaging from the Russians in terms

of a potential attack if there is a counterattack.

What more do we know about the situation?

Is it delicate or is it definitive now that that Kharkiv is back in Ukrainian hands?

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. So look, the situation here has been quiet the last couple of days and talking about the city itself. The real

fighting has been taking place outside of the city, in towns and villages, where the Ukrainians say they are making progress in terms of retaking

these areas.

In fact, they say that some soldiers from the region, one of the fiercest fighting units the Ukrainian military has, the same soldiers holed up in

the Azovstal steel plant, are within a few kilometers of the Russian border there.

And the Ukrainians say the Russians are building up troops on the Russian side of the border anticipating the Ukrainians actually getting toward that

area. We have seen, when the Russians are stalling on the ground and having difficulty breaking through those front lines, they resort to shelling

everything in sight.

And that appears to be what is happening, because officials there say that, look, civilians should not be returning at this stage of the game because

many towns and villages are still very much in artillery range.

We are also seeing new video that shows a pretty hasty Russian retreat from this area, where partially submerged vehicles are in a river or a stream

after they -- after a bridge in the area was blown up.

So it seems like, again, the Ukrainians are making a lot of progress on that front. We also saw, though, new video on Friday. And it's not clear

when it happened but the video came on out on Friday, showing an evacuation convoy with 15 vehicles involved.

And it was absolutely riddled with bullet holes. We are told these are from police in the area, people who were trying to evacuate from their village,

east of the city of Kharkiv, to Ukrainian held territory and they got caught up in some fighting. Four people at least were killed, including a

13-year-old girl. And many others are missing. It's not clear what happened to all the 15 vehicles in the convoy.

The Ukrainians said people in the convoy are missing. We are looking at Mariupol, another region that hasn't changed much in recent days.

Ukrainians say they are taking heavy bombardment from the Russians.

What we know is that there are some 100 civilians, according to the Ukrainians, men, we assume, who are still trapped inside of that plant, who

were not included with the evacuations of the women and children and elderly people.


MCLEAN: We are told again by the Ukrainian soldiers that there are hundreds of soldiers still trapped inside the plant. Hundreds of them

perhaps wounded. And we are seeing these new images showing some of them.

And the extent of some of the wounds, some open wounds, some soldiers missing legs, some missing arms. They say they simply do not have sterile

bandaging and really don't have any proper equipment to deal with these people and they are running out of medicine and antibiotics. And they said

some have started to die in agony.

GIOKOS: Astonishing to see these new images. Thank you, Scott, very much.

In Southern Ukraine, troops have retaken a key village had been in the hands of Russians for weeks. As CNN's Nick Paton Walsh reports, those come

at a high cost.


WALSH (voice-over): Racing under the tree line, changing their path every time, with Russian troops often just meters away, this is the fight for

Ukraine's most important riverbank and this is the place where Moscow's brutal advance is being stopped.

Osokorivka was held by Russian troops for weeks but now the Russians shell where they once hid and probe the outskirts daily. Vladimir (ph) and his

men have been alert since 4 am, fearing a Russian attack and more of the cluster bombs they say tore down this tree.

"They are about two miles in that direction," he says.

WALSH: So occasionally, they get what Russians call diversionary groups, which are kind of scouting groups to try and probe their defenses. But so

far, he says, they've been successful fighting them.

WALSH (voice-over): Fresh flowers laid at the monument to the last war's dead but broken glass here, where this war's living shelter. Faces that

seem beyond caring who is in control.

And dust that makes you wonder, who will come back if it ever gets normal again?

In these endless idyllic villages, it bends belief to see the quiet life forced underground like this.

WALSH: He is saying that the rocket landed during lunchtime when there was nobody in there; 40-50 people have been there at one point. You see the

rooms there.

WALSH (voice-over): But it is not an easy job taking back these villages. Loyalties have evaporated in some cases. The troops say they found traitors

here but lack evidence to prosecute, citing one case.

WALSH: A guy on the phone here. There's a guy on the phone.

WALSH (voice-over): And now, a local on the phone is reason for suspicion.

"Russian troops came to one man's home," he says, "and offered to make him a local leader. It's not at all simple. He was the local mayor for them.

That's why they never touched him. And there's also a formal Russian colonel living here."

They say they have reason to know they're being watched.

"I'll only say that when we first came here," he says, "it was in the morning when there was a fog and it was impossible to see us. But the

Russians shot at us, which means someone give us up."

As we emerge, a puff of smoke in the sky, an explosive or a flare.

Two blasts, leading them to think the cluster bombs may follow again. Vladimir (ph) stays in place. The back and forth persists for places that

cease to exist in the fight for them -- Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, Osokorivka, Ukraine.


GIOKOS: The U.S. says Russia has used as many as a dozen hypersonic weapons during the Ukraine war. But not clear if they were a part of the

barrage of missiles that pounded Odessa over the weekend. This isn't a weapon frequently used in wars.

So what exactly are hypersonic missiles?

Are they a game-changer in Ukraine?

We have Oren Liebermann at the Pentagon standing by for more.

Tell us exactly how important the use of these hypersonic missiles are and what impact that could have on the war in Ukraine.

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: We have heard quite a bit from the U.S. politicians and the Pentagon that they could be a game-

changer if used in combat. But the Pentagon has backed off that.


LIEBERMANN: Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said recently the Russian use of them was not the game-changer many predicted they would be.

We got a sense yesterday of how many times they have been used. About a dozen times we learned yesterday from a senior Defense official. We know a

bit about the types here.

The first types that were used -- or most of them from what we understand - - were Iskanders as well as Tochkas. These are short-range ballistic missiles, not new technology; hypersonic in terms of the speed at which

they travel. Russia has also used the Kinzhal missile, an air launched hypersonic missile.

But it is essentially just an air-launched version of the ground launched ballistic missile. Very similar but just launched from an airplane

traveling faster and moving in the air. So not breakthrough technology or anything like that.

But the use of hypersonic weapons has drawn a tremendous amount of attention, especially as the U.S. has been concerned it's falling behind

Russia and China in the use of hypersonic weapons.

What are the Russians hitting with these type of missiles?

Fixed targets, buildings, they claim weapons warehouses, not sort of dynamic moving targets, which are much harder to hit, which the Russians

have had a problem hitting. And that is something the Pentagon has noted.

Why would you use these types of advanced weapons or not sort more conventional weapons in trying to hit these sorts of targets?

Perhaps, the Pentagon says, that is an indication that Russia is running out of precision-guided munitions.

GIOKOS: Oren Liebermann, thank you for that analysis.

Ukraine has suspended some of its Russian gas exports to Europe. Now Ukrainian gas officials say it's, quote, impossible to fulfill obligations

to European partners. They point to interruptions as key transit points.

At the same time, Germany says its gas supply is secure. CNN's Anna Stewart is covering this.

Anna, good to see you.

What is happening here?

We know Ukraine has some important arteries carrying that gas and it was always a big question whether they could continue with these supply lines.

ANNA STEWART, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There have been many disputes between Russia and Ukraine regarding the gas transit through the country before.

This particular one regards a transit point in the Russian occupied Luhansk region of Ukraine.

It takes around a third of all the Russian gas that goes by Ukraine into Europe. Ukraine's gas grid operator has warned, they say, multiple times to

Gazprom, saying there has been Russian interference at that transit point, including the diversion of some gas.

They say the security and stability of the whole country's gas network is at stake so they have suspended all operations there.

Gazprom and Russia are denying this, saying gas is flowing through there as it should and there were no complaints from their customers. But as of

today, according to a Reuters Gazprom stat, it says the volumes by Ukraine into Europe of gas is now down around 25 percent from yesterday.

So it doesn't appear Russia is sending more gas via different pipeline.

GIOKOS: All right. Thank you very much for that update, Anna.

We are going to go to -- all right. So we actually have new video for you from the West Bank. It's said to show the body of Al Jazeera journalist

Shireen Abu Akleh being pulled to Ramallah (ph). As we reported earlier, she was shot while on assignment covering an Israeli security operation.

China's response after the head of the World Health Organization called its zero COVID strategy unsustainable, that is coming up.





GIOKOS: China is reporting a one-day drop in COVID cases with over 1,800 cases on Tuesday, about half of the previous day and this comes as China

continues to defend its COVID response after the WHO chief questioned it and urged a shift.


DR. TEDROS ADHANOM GHEBREYESUS, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION: When we talk about the zero COVID strategy, we don't think that it's sustainable,

considering the behavior of the virus now and what we anticipate in the future.


GIOKOS: Selina Wang joins us now.

WHO says zero COVID policy isn't viable and we know the government there is being relentless on sticking to its plan, saying it's the magic weapon.

Is there any sense there will be shifting on this policy creating enormous lockdowns and, of course, a huge impact socially as well?

SELINA WANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In short, no. Not only did China reject the comments from the World Health Organization, they called it

irresponsible and the World Health Organization's chief criticism was censored from China's internet. You can no longer find his comments there.

This was rare criticism coming from a person who, early in the pandemic, was criticized for being too close to China. But what he said about China's

zero COVID policy being unsustainable, that really echoes what a lot of scientists are increasing saying.

While China's strategy of lockdowns and strict border control measures were effective early on in the pandemic, it is a different story with Omicron,

considering how transmissible it is.

There is growing frustration inside and outside of China that the heavy- handed approach of zero COVID is taking a huge human psychological and economic toll on the country across China. At least 31 cities are under

some form of lockdown, impacting up to 214 million people.

And in Shanghai, people have been trapped in their home for months, many struggling to get access to essentials. Measures in Shanghai are only

getting more extreme even as the COVID numbers come down.

Many health experts are saying that China's focus on zero COVID, on sending positive cases to these quarantine facilities, many in rundown and

unsanitary conditions, trapping people in their homes, that is taking focus away from vaccinating.

The rate among the elderly in China still remains relatively low. China has also yet to approve an mRNA vaccine. Their domestically developed vaccines

provide protection from severe illness with Omicron, many studies show they are not as effective as the mRNA vaccines.

There was a recent study published in "Nature" that showed if Omicron was left unchecked in China it could result in overwhelming the health care

system and lead to over 1 million deaths.

However the authors of those studies said that opening up would not result in that horrific outcome if they increased the vaccination rate and access

to antiviral therapies. But what we are seeing in China is pursuit of zero COVID at all costs.


GIOKOS: Really interesting to hear the justification around the impact with regard to possible hospitalizations if Omicron is left unchecked. But

shocking to see the images coming throughout the cities in China. Selina, thank you so much.

Ferdinand Marcos Jr. is claiming victory in Philippines presidential election. He is urging the world to judge him by his actions and not by his

family's controversial past. Unofficial results show he got over double the votes of his closest rival.

Sri Lanka has extended its curfew and the government has ordered troops to shoot on sight anyone found damaging state property or assaulting

officials. Protesters have burned down the homes of 38 politicians.

It is the largest in a month of civil unrest, leading up to the resignation of the prime minister this week. At least nine people have died in clashes

since Monday.

The death toll from the Havana hotel explosion last week has risen to 43. The country's health ministry says 17 people are still in the hospital.

Investigators believe a gas leak may have caused Friday's blast.

The U.S. Senate will vote today on a bill aimed at preserving access to abortion nationwide. This comes after a draft of a Supreme Court decision

was leaked. It appeared set to overturn Roe versus Wade, the landmark ruling that protected the rights of abortion in the country for nearly 50


The bill will need 60 votes to pass. And with the Senate that is currently split 50-50 between Democrats and Republicans, it is certain to fail. We

will update you when the verdict happens.

Just ahead on the show, the U.K. and Sweden closing up on security in the face of Russia's war on Ukraine. More on the joint political solidarity

agreements they signed and what it means for Europe.

And Russia's war on Ukraine is pushing Finland toward the NATO alliance.

But is it too much and are they moving too fast?




GIOKOS: Welcome back. You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD.


GIOKOS: The head of the Kharkiv military administration in northeastern Ukraine says troops have retaken more settlements to the north of the city.

This soldier, who is from Kharkiv, is standing on top of a Russian tank they have captured.

But the regional military chief is warning civilians it's still too dangerous to return because of mines.

Meanwhile, a different fate for Kherson in the southeast and here is a small pro-Russian event being held there on victory day. The Kremlin

spokesperson says it's up to the citizens to decide if it should become part of Russia.

The new leadership say there are plans to make request to become part of Russia.

Vladimir Putin may be making advances in Eastern Ukraine but his war has clearly backfired on at least one front and has done nothing to slow NATO's

expansion. It may be doing the exact opposite.

Finland appears to be poised to apply to join the alliance and Sweden is considering applying. And leaders from the U.K. and Sweden are signing a

new bilateral declaration of solidarity. Nic Robertson is standing by for us.

Good to see you. I want to talk about the bilateral security pact that was signed and Boris Johnson specifically saying Sweden and Finland need to

feel free to decide whether they want to join NATO without retaliation.

What should we be reading into this messaging?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: It's a message from the British government to signal to both Sweden and Finland, Boris Johnson

will be arriving soon behind me at the president's house, to signal to them that, while they go through the transition process of deciding to apply for

NATO membership and then making that formal application and then going through the process of NATO, you know, making sure that they meet all of

the social checks and balances that NATO membership requires, which can be a lengthy process, expected to be a relatively short process but still a

matter of months.

The message is very clear that the United Kingdom will stand behind, militarily behind Sweden and Finland, should there be any Russian

aggression stepped up by Russia because it sees these nations joining NATO.

This what is being described as a mutual security assistance declaration. Boris Johnson explaining it was necessary because of the changed security

environment in Europe.


BORIS JOHNSON, U.K. PRIME MINISTER: The war in Ukraine is forcing us all to make difficult decisions. But sovereign nations must be free to make

those decisions without fear or influence or threat of retaliation. So I'm very pleased today, with you, prime minister, to sign this mutual security

assurances declaration.


ROBERTSON: This security agreement not designed to put any pressure on Sweden whatsoever to join NATO but merely to say, if you do move in that

direction, we are going to support you. And it will be the same when he gets here to Finland as well.

GIOKOS: That, of course, needs to be passed through parliament in both Sweden and Finland as well. In Finland, what is interesting, it seems the

hesitation than what we have seen in Sweden.

But how is this move being taken up by the population?

ROBERTSON: I was in parliament today watching some of the debate and speaking to a member of parliament. The real expectation there is that it

will resoundingly pass the vote when it happens.

There was an expectation as well that Sweden will follow along. And there is very much an effort, it seems, between Finland and Sweden to sort of

time their announcements to be really close together, so when they go through this process of applying to NATO, the expectation that they will,

it happens sort of pretty much in parallel at the same time.

Slightly different processes, et cetera; different countries but that doesn't stop some people here, particularly younger generation, in Finland,

feeling this whole process, a decision by government, is what they call it, by parliament, the Constitution calls for, is perhaps happening a little

too quickly.

And is it addressing all of their concerns?


ROBERTSON: As Finland's parliament discusses at pace the historic step of potentially joining NATO, the speed of debate has some young Finns worrying

their generation will be hurt by a decision taken in haste through fear of Putin that they have little say in.


ROBERTSON (voice-over): Five students at the University of Helsinki agreed to tell us their views.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm still undecided.



JOHAN, PHD CANDIDATE: I'm ambiguous on the question still.

ROBERTSON: You're against NATO.



NINA: It's a military alliance led by a super power that has waged horrendous wars in Afghanistan, in Iraq. I understand people being very

afraid of Russia and what they're doing, horrible, horrible things. But it's kind of like fighting the wolf by teaming up with the bear. Like the

bear isn't great either.

JOHAN: If at this moment if they take a stance toward the whole of Russia, what does it mean in a situation where hopefully the regime changes at some

point to more positive direction?

ROBERTSON: And you're undecided.


ROBERTSON: What -- what's the pros and cons?

OLIVIA: I also get the arguments for safety. And that's why I'm still undecided.

VERONICA, GRADUATE STUDENT: I think we are currently a society very emotionally charged and that is why I'm inclined to sort of say that

perhaps now is not the greatest time to make such a huge decision.

OLIVIA: We are a sovereign democratic country and I don't want those kinds of fears to impact our decision making.

OSKARI, GRADUATE STUDENT: I think waiting too long is the more dangerous. It's not as dangerous right now to start this process as it would be in,

let's say two years from now.

ROBERTSON: What's the public debate that's going on?

OLIVIA: In my social media bubble, it's kind of very pro-NATO.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It kind of does feel like on social media, it seems like if you are anti-Russia, you are automatically pro NATO.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I feel like a lot of people are making a lot of assumptions about what Putin is thinking. Personally, I have yet to see

evidence of him wanting to invade Finland.

ROBERTSON: What do you think the consequences of this decision are going to be?

JOHAN: If and when we join NATO and if we are admitted to NATO, what kind of relationship will we have with Russia?

And that's the big question to me at least. That, you know, the geography is always there.


ROBERTSON: So a lot of these questions probably won't get answered during the parliamentary debate. There are a lot of questions people have and a

lot of people have decide that they view the situation as NATO is their best option.

I think, you know, for young people here, it's going to affect, they think, their future for such a long time. And they would feel better if they just

-- if there was more time to have the discussion. But that seems unlikely.

As that young man said during the conversation, it's better to move quickly. And speaking to that member of parliament today, it's clear,

there's a real feeling that you need to keep that space of time short between deciding and becoming a member.

And that is a security assistance and gap that prime minister Boris Johnson is talking about today and filling and giving that additional security

support to Finland and Sweden.

GIOKOS: Yes, really interesting to hear all of those differing views. As one politician said to me, this is prompted by rational fear. So we will be

watching this very closely. Nic, thank you so much.

Still ahead, another victory for Liverpool.

But is it enough for get the Premier League crown?

Details coming up.