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Connect the World
UAE President Khalifa Bin Zayed AL Nahyan dies at Age 73; First War Crimes Trial in Ukraine Gets Underway; U.S. President Biden Speaks with Leaders of Sweden and Finland; Ukraine: 3 Killed in Chernihiv Region School Attacks; CNN Reporter Leaves Shanghai after 50-Day Lockdown; Paying Tribute to Sheik Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan. Aired 11a-12p ET
Aired May 13, 2022 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ELENI GIOKOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Eleni Giokos in Abu Dhabi. Hello and welcome to "Connect the World". And we start with chaos in Jerusalem ahead
of funeral for Al Jazeera Journalist Shireen Abu Akleh. Israeli police rushed and then beat mourners who are carrying her casket. This is how it
looked a few hours ago.
Startling images there and you saw the casket was almost dropped an Israeli Police spokesperson says officers were forced to respond after stones were
thrown at them our reporter on the scene saw plastic bottles and flags thrown but not stones.
The funeral procession eventually continued to Abu Akleh's final resting place next to her parents and she was fatally shot Wednesday in the West
Bank City of Jenin during an Israeli military operation. And we will be bringing you more insight into the story in just a little while.
All right now to Breaking News here in the United Arab Emirates. The long ailing ruler of the UAE Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan has died. He was
73 years old. The government has announced a 40 day mourning period and flags lowered to half-staff to mark his passing.
Sheikh Khalifa was the country's second ever President succeeding his father UAE Founder Sheikh Zayed in 2004. He suffered a stroke a decade
later, and had largely stayed out of the public sight ever since his role remaining mostly ceremonial but before falling ill Sheikh Khalifa has
policies helped transform the United Arab Emirates into a regional powerhouse. Becky Anderson has more on his legacy.
BECKY ANDERSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan was born in 1948 the United Arab Emirates didn't even exist as a
nation. This was a land where many earn their living by fishing, or purling.
But his family was instrumental in transforming this into one of the world's largest oil producers. By the time the UAE a federation of seven
states was created in 1971, Sheikh Khalifa was the Crown Prince of the wealthiest state and country's capital, Abu Dhabi.
He took over the presidency in 2004 after the death of his father, Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan, the nation's founder. Like his father, he wished to
modernize his country, shaping it into a haven of stability in a volatile neighborhood.
At home, he invested in the country's armed forces and developed its lucrative energy sector. His success spelled out on Dubai's Skyline were
one of the tallest buildings in the world, the Burj Khalifa took on its leaders name, after the government bailed Dubai out of its debt woes in
Overseas he solidified traditional alliances with countries like the UK, while boosting trade ties with new partners. Under his leadership, the UAE
invested its enormous wealth in globally recognized airlines, prized assets.
Sporting powerhouses and major global events that have collectively put the country on the map, turning it into a global tourist destination by the
early 2010's, deteriorating health increasingly kept Sheikh Khalifa out of the public limelight.
He underwent surgery after suffering a stroke in 2014. But his modernizing vision for the country has carried on under the leadership of his half-
brother in Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Zayed.
It's taken bold diplomatic steps, such as establishing relations with Israel through the Abraham Accords, and hosting the first ever people visit
to the Arabian Peninsula, positioning itself as tolerant Middle Eastern society.
All the while delicately balancing relations with Western and non-western powers alike. It's used its military might to project power, sometimes
controversially in places like Yemen, and it's been diversifying its economy to cut its reliance on oil revenues investing in renewable and
nuclear energy while taking steps such as allowing for complete foreign ownership of companies.
BECKY (voice over): And introducing a golden visa program to maintain its position as an attractive destination for foreign investment and talent.
It's even entered the space race, becoming the first ever Arab country to send a mission to Mars, aptly named Hope. It is by all accounts a country
transformed and that is how Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan leaves it to his successor.
GIOKAS: Well, we've got Mina Al-Oraibi, joining us now. She is Editor-I- Chief of The National and English Language Daily Newspaper here in the UAE.
Mina, thank you so very much for joining us! We've now entered in the UAE a 40 day mourning period, could you tell us about what we can expect within
these 40 days?
MINA AL-ORAIBI, EDITOR IN CHIEF THE NATIONAL AND ENGLISH LANGUAGE NEWSPAPER: Well, the initial three days are going to be a time of deep
mourning, let's say both private and public sectors will be closed until Tuesday morning. Of course, the 40 days is the flying of half mass is the
official period of mourning.
And it really is a time to reflect. It's a time when everybody in the country of course leadership political entities, but also just regular
people reflect on the time of 18 years of the role of Sheikh Khalifa and what comes next.
So it will be a time that you'll feel a real sense of a somber mood in the country, you already felt it in the last couple of hours. And there's a
real sense of this was a leader that helped the UAE transition through some difficult times regionally and globally, and yet was able to make sure it
had a steady course forward.
GIOKAS: Absolutely. And you know, I keep reminding myself that he's part of the generation that actually saw the creation of the UAE as we know it
today and taking it where it was sort of very underdeveloped to now being a hub hotspots and an example to the rest of the region.
What would you say is main legacy will be as an economic would you say as a sort of a diplomatic stance that the UAE has and friendships that it has
with the rest of the world?
ORAIBI: Well, it's all those elements really being about transformation and so at the time that we live with huge technological transformation,
economic transformation, and also societal transformation. He oversaw a lot of that, be it women's empowerment or diversification of the economy. So I
think his era will be remembered as putting the UAE with a very solid footing ahead in the 21st century.
GIOKAS: Yes, we've also, you know, seen quite a lot of global reaction as well. I mean, he was known to sort of jet off around the world and build
this very strong diplomatic relations. And he also had a very interesting message of sort of modernity and also tolerance, right?
And this is why they were able to attract so many multinational companies to headquarter here. And this is why so many expats arrived here as well.
ORAIBI: And as you said, about the reactions that we've seen from all over the region, there are a number of countries that have also announced a
period of mourning from Kuwait, to Bahrain and Lebanon and others, but also globally.
You've had President Biden react, and everybody stresses the point of relations with the UAE the strong diplomatic ties with this country, and a
sense of continuity that will continue past Sheikh Khalifa but because of the foundation that, Sheikh Zayed, the late founding father, but also
Sheikh Khalifa were able to instill.
GIOKAS: So importantly, the founding fathers so Sheikh Zayed had handpicked Sheikh Khalifa right. He was Crown Prince from 1969 and then he also hand-
picked the next successor, which is now basically the de facto ruler of the Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Zayed? I want you to tell me what we can expect
in terms of transition because Sheikh Khalifa has been out of public eye because of health reasons.
ORAIBI: So I think that there's a general sense of stability. And there's clarity, with Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed being the Crown Prince of Abu
Dhabi, and there is an expectation of how the succession will go? However, we have to remember, this is a Federal country with the Supreme Council of
So the leader of each of the Emirates, they will come together, and they will determine that and announce it to the public. However, given that the
UAE has been known always to have long term planning, I imagine that that planning has already been put into place and we'll hear an announcement
within the next few hours.
GIOKAS: Mina, thank you very much really good to see much appreciate for your time! Now, I'd like to take you back to our top story. The chaos in
Jerusalem ahead of the funeral for Al Jazeera Journalist Shireen Abu Akleh Israeli police rushed and then beat mourners who were carrying her casket.
Atika Schubert watched all this unfold in Jerusalem for us and she joins us now. A ticker we have said that this is truly shocking footage that we're
seeing and many asking the question, why were the Israeli police beating the people holding the casket for example? It seems that from the footage,
it's very polarizing to watch and very difficult to watch.
ATIKA SCHUBERT, JOURNALIST: It is very difficult to watch. I think what you have to understand is that going into today there was a lot of emotion a
lot of tension already yesterday thousands of people had come out in an outpouring of grief.
And so those same numbers were expected and if I did turn out today, but at the hospital, the Israeli police said that they would not allow a walking
funeral procession for her and the family there was trying to decide whether or not they would go ahead with a traditional walking funeral
procession or if they would transport the body by car.
What ended up happening was that the mourners that were there refused to have it transported by car there was this public surge, to have it a
walking funeral procession so when they brought the coffin to the hospital gates, Israeli riot police stopped them and then charged this funeral
procession entering the hospital grounds.
They lead off at least to stun grenades and tear gas as well. What we also saw was that those riot police had batons and they actually hit at some of
those pallbearers at one point causing the coffin to slide out almost fall to the ground riot police in on mounted on horseback were also used to
charge through the streets around the hospital to disperse some of the mourners there.
It was a completely chaotic scene. So after that, it happened things did calm down, however, the family was able to bring the coffin finally to the
church, in the Old City, the Greek Catholic church there, they were able to transport it by car.
And from there, the Israeli police allowed crowds to actually come from the church and bring the coffin to the cemetery. Thousands and thousands of
people turned out it was a stunning sight. All of these people with an outpouring of grief for somebody who for so many Palestinians was almost
like an extended member of the family.
Shireen Abu Akleh was more than just a veteran journalist, because she reported on chronicled what for so many Palestinians is their daily life
under Israeli occupation. She was in their living rooms every day reporting the news. And this is why for so many Palestinians; this is a very personal
and very emotional loss.
GIOKAS: And of course, today was a very emotional day for so many people have the Israeli police giving you a sense or have put out any sort of
information on to what exactly transpired as you say, you had personally not seen any stones being thrown? Is there going to be some kind of
investigation to ascertain what happened because these kinds of images already going viral Atika and you know a lot of people have much to say
about what's transpired.
SCHUBERT: I think what's clear is that the Israeli police going into today were very nervous that this could spiral out of control. And so they had
spoken several times to the Abu Akleh family urging them to make it only a small funeral to have no Palestinian flags for example.
We learned this from the Abu Akleh family. But you know the family pointed out they are not in control of the crowds that come out to mourn her to
show their grief for her and support for her. So they basically said we just want to have this funeral go ahead.
So when the situation happened at the hospital, the family was caught really between so many mourners who were pushing for this walking funeral
procession and the Israeli police who were not allowing it. And this is where the clash really happened.
Now according to a statement that's been put out by Israeli police, they say that they were incited by rock throwing from the crowds. I personally
did not witness any stones being thrown any rocks. I did see a lot of plastic bottles and plastic Palestinian flags being thrown at the police.
And it does appear to me that when the gates were open and the funeral procession came out, it was clear Israeli police pushed in order to stop
the procession from going forward.
GIOKAS: Yes, Atika sad to see it turning out this way. Thank you so very much for joining us and for your insights. Now checking other news from the
region stalled talks of Iran's nuclear program have been reopened following fresh negotiations in Tehran and that's according to EU Foreign Policy
Chief Joseph Burrell take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOSEP BORRELL, EU FOREIGN POLICY GRIEF: The negotiations were stalled, and now they have been reopened. So the travel has been very much profitable.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GIOKAS: Coming up, Sweden reconsiders a 200 year history of neutrality in light of the invasion of Ukraine. My interview with Sweden's Minister of
Defense after the break, and the first Russian soldier charged with a war crime in Ukraine and based on what prosecutors are saying he won't be the
GIOKOS: On day 79 of Russia's Ward Ukraine says a counter offensive has pushed Russian forces back in Kharkiv near the border. And satellite images
show as the Russians made their treats three bridges key to Ukraine's advanced were destroyed.
New video from Snake Island in the Black Sea appears to show the Ukrainians blowing up a Russian helicopter. Ukraine says it also hits a Russian ship.
Ukrainian officials say Russian forces have renewed their attacks on the Azovstal Steel Plant in Mariupol.
Talks are going on to get wounded Ukrainian soldiers out of the complex and foreign ministers from G7 nations have been meeting in Germany and that's
part of the wide ranging talks and they were expected to address how to end the blockade of Ukrainian grain so it can be exported to the nations that
Ukraine's Foreign Minister urged the G7 to seize Russian assets to help rebuild the country. Finland has been talking about its big change of
hearts announcing its support for joining NATO. Helsinki says Russia's invasion of Ukraine has drastically changed the security environments, and
the Kremlin is now threatening retaliation. Joins the Western military alliance in the previous hour, I spoke to the form of Finnish Foreign
Minister and here's what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERKKI TUOMIOJA, FORMER FINNISH FOREIGN MINISTER: Well, we do not expect any military attacks or military activities. But what we can - on guard for is
any kind of - influencing through sending asylum seekers through over the border or cyberattacks and the like. But this is just what we are prepared
for but we do not necessarily expect them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GIOKOS: Sweden is working in close coordination with its partners in Finland. A security policy review released today found that NATO membership
would increase deterrence in the region by raising the threshold for military conflicts. After the report published I spoke with Sweden's
Minister of Defense Peter Hultqvist to expand on its findings.
PETER HULTQVIST, SWEDISH DEFENSE MINISTER: What they've done now is to present a report from eight political parties in the Swedish parliament, in
connection with the government. And what we said is that Putin and the Russian aggression and the invasion of Ukraine have changed the security
situation in whole Europe that also includes Sweden and Finland. And that creates a situation when we must consider a new position around security
GIOKOS: Minister you know, the last 200 years we have seen incredible atrocities and very difficult security situations across Europe. I want you
to give me a sense right now in terms of the urgency in of what is really changed for Sweden and for Europe?
HULTQVIST: This is the first big war in Europe since the Second World War. That's a fundamental change of the security environment. They also have a
very clear declaration from the Russian side that they make before Christmas when they said that they want real influence in the security
choices in Europe. And they won't an influence over the countries in the neighborhood. And that is totally unacceptable for Sweden.
GIOKOS: Minister, you have been on record saying that NATO - joining NATO was not an option for you, personally, that you didn't want to see this
happen. Have you fundamentally changed your stance? And do you think at a personal level, this is the right approach to take?
I know that you're saying, you know, you're going to be doing what government wants and what leadership wants. But for you, Minister, the
HULTQVIST: What I do not want is the war in Ukraine. And what I do not want is the brutality from the Russian leadership. And I don't want their
ambition to have direct influence over the European countries, and also to dictate what the countries in the neighborhood to do.
That is what I really do not want. And what we have tried to do is to build a balance with non-alignment here with Finland and Sweden, and also
deepening our operation with other countries at the same time, as we have increased our military capability. So we have had that strategy.
Now the Russians have gone several steps further with the war in Ukraine. And that creates the whole new situation. And I will declare my position at
the same time as the party will do it on Sunday.
GIOKOS: Minister, do you think that joining NATO is going to alleviate some of those security concerns for Sweden and Finland, because the other side
of this coin is that President Putin is likely to retaliate further aggravating the security on the eastern flank.
HULTQVIST: The biggest risk we have now is the war in Ukraine and the threat from Russian side to the rest of Europe about that they want to
change the security order in Europe, and that they want to influence over other countries.
And I think that if we even - I think we must work together, to challenge Russia and to protect ourselves and to build the threshold. I think that is
a very important thing. So the unity we see now in European Union and NATO is very important.
GIOKOS: What is the next step Minister? I know that there's supposed to be a parliamentary debate. I know the last time we spoke; you said that there
is still a parliamentary process that needs to take place. Are we talking about an imminent application? Or do you still have some work to do?
HULTQVIST: First of all, we haven't decided yet about membership or not in my party. We will do that on Sunday, and then we will give information. I
think that it's very important in the general way, if we do it; I think it must go very fast, because the gray zone is a very sensitive time. And
during that, we also need secure security assurances from other countries. That is very important.
GIOKOS: So Minister you're saying that you thought - you know, to announce your stance and your government's stance, is there a chance that this might
turn into a situation where you decide you don't want to as your party, join NATO?
HULTQVIST: We will come back to everything around that in Sunday.
GIOKOS: In terms of making sure that you are in lockstep with what Finland is doing. There's a sense that you know, the Finns and the Swedes should be
applying to NATO at the same time. Are you in conversation right now with Finland?
HULTQVIST: We have been in deep conversation with Finland for a very, very long time. That's the normal way of dealing with different sort of
questions between Sweden and Finland. So we have full 100 percent--
GIOKOS: All right now I want to head to Finland. We have CNN's Nic Robertson live in Helsinki for us, Nic, always good to see you. And we're
hearing that U.S. President Biden has also weighed in what more can you tell us?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, we don't have readout from the White House or from the Finnish Swedish governments on
those phone calls. But what we do know is both Finland and Sweden have had visits over the past few days by Boris Johnson, the British Prime Minister.
And he was there was offering security military assistance in the interim period and going forward. And that's something that sort of exists. But he,
he put a more formal tarp on it by signing agreements with both those countries.
He's done a similar thing today with the Norwegian Prime Minister as well, a security agreement. So what we know at the moment is that Finland and
Sweden are looking to make sure that other NATO members are going to give them security assurances during this interim period.
You heard the Swedish defense minister there, saying we need to keep this period short, it reflects exactly what we hear in Finland. This process of
decision making an application and a session to inter NATO acceptance by NATO members needs to be quick, because there's a concern about what Russia
So although we don't know the context and the content of the phone call yet, I think it would be reasonable to expect that President Biden was
talking to both those leaders to give them reassurances about whatever the United States is prepared to do in terms of security guarantees during this
Obviously, there's already between the Nordic nations and the Baltic nations as well, there is security cooperation and security guarantees. But
it's in essence, making that pitch stronger during the process of getting into NATO.
GIOKOS: So Nic, I have to ask you this, because it's been interesting having these conversations to the lead up where we are right now. It seems
the Finns are a little bit more forthcoming about the fact that they have changed their minds. And they think that joining NATO is a good idea.
And we're hearing it from former and current leadership. The Swedes, however, there have been a lot more hesitant. And again, I asked the
Swedish Defense Minister, this, you know, they held steadfast on non- alignment.
Even during some of the most, you know, harrowing atrocities in World War Two, and here we are today. And he wasn't forthcoming exactly of whether he
himself and his party will say, yes, we can join NATO.
You spoke about the positives. Is there a concern that that Sweden might be an outlier here? Was this just a technicality?
ROBERTSON: I don't think there's a concern about them being an outlier. I think they're heading in the same direction as Finland. I think what we're
seeing here is do political process.
And two different countries with two different sort of political dispensations at the moment, it's a harder move for the Swedish Prime
Minister than it is for the Finnish Prime Minister, to make the move, you know, her party in Sweden has for a long time been nonaligned.
And it has been, you know, if you go back even to the Napoleonic Wars, Sweden, which was a huge power in European politics, if you go back several
centuries, they were sort of traced their sort of posture on neutrality, even back to the Napoleonic Wars.
It really is something you know, for both countries, but perhaps more deeply felt in Sweden, that neutrality is part of their identity, and very
much so with the position of the Swedish Prime Minister.
So it is a slightly bigger move for them to make politically to make the shift. But it's important in terms of process that both countries can do
it, can do it quickly, and can do it with all the adequate discussions and assessments.
But not sort of rush their populations into a position where in two years, they say, well, hold on, you kind of race this through without due process,
so due processes happening here.
GIOKOS: Alright, Nic Robertson, thank you so very much, great to see you. And still ahead, a first in Russia's war on Ukraine, a Russian soldier on
trial for an alleged war crime, we'll have a live report from Kyiv.
And as Russians retreat from villages near the border, the scope of civilian suffering comes into stark view once again.
GIOKOS: Before the break, you saw some of the horrific fighting from the ground in Ukraine and a historic moment in Russia's war is happening now in
The first war crimes trial for a Russian soldier is getting underway. And he is accused of killing an unarmed civilian who was riding a bicycle in
North Eastern Ukraine.
And it happened in the first few days of the invasion. CNN's Melissa Bell is covering the trial and joins me now live. Melissa, could you give me a
sense a little bit more information about the defendant and the charges he's facing?
MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: First of all, maybe Eleni, the context, we spoke today to Ukraine's Prosecutor General who explained that there are
more than 12,000 war crimes that have been recorded so far in a war that is not yet three months old now.
They've been helped here in Ukraine and gathering some of the evidence for that because there are so many international teams on the ground. You'll
remember in early April after Russian forces began to withdraw from towns like Bucha, the world watched on in horror.
It is now heavily involved in gathering the facts on the ground in order that international prosecutions can be brought. The International Criminal
Court at The Hague, for instance, has ordered investigation, so too has the UN Human Rights Committee, as have several national but foreign shirred
What was particular about this trial is that it was being carried out by a Ukrainian civilian court Eleni, even before the war has been brought to a
close. Have a listen to why the prosecutor believes that that is important.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
IRYNA VENEDIKTOVA, UKRAINE'S PROSECUTOR GENERAL: These proceedings now can save lives of all Ukrainian civilians on the south and eastern part of
Ukraine. Because these perpetrators who are now fighting will see that we will find all of them, we will identify all of them, and we will start to
prosecute all of them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BELL: Now, the specific case that began today, the first in many more trials to come both at national Ukrainian level and internationally
involved the events of 28th of February where Vadim Shysimarin is accused of having killed a civilian who is unarmed riding a bicycle and speaking on
his phone just outside his home.
But as I say, more than 12,000 recorded war crimes so far, even as the fighting continues in the east and the south. And no doubt what she was
thinking of when she spoke there of the fighting that continued, is places like today in several Donetsk where there are some 15,000 civilians trapped
even now, the fighting underway, very heavy Russia making advances in that industrial based of Luhansk.
And fears still, that beyond those more than 12,000 recorded so far, there will be many more to be discovered and she fears many more to be committed.
GIOKOS: All right, Melissa Bell, thank you very much for that insight, really appreciates it. That was Melissa Bell coming to us live. Alright,
moving on and whatever happens with that war crimes trial, it won't stop civilian suffering, just about 300 kilometers from the courthouse where
Melissa is at least three people reportedly were killed and 12 wounded when Russian forces shell to schools. Moscow says they were targeting military
command posts and ammunition depots. Russian forces are also going after border villages and the Kharkiv region according to Ukrainian officials.
And civilians are paying heavy price. CNN's Nick Paton Walsh reports.
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR (voice over): The quiet pines around the east of Kharkiv are slowly revealing their trauma. The
Kremlin is being pushed back so fast. We are only nine miles from their border, they're being closer to the Motherland that Russia absurdly claims
it is, offered no mercy to these civilians.
WALSH (on camera): As they liberate village after village pushing Russian forces back towards their own border. This sort of atrocity frankly, they
keep coming across.
WALSH (voice over): This car hit by a tank shell as the convoy fled. The troops from the Kharkiv city territorial defense tell us the intensity of
the fire, no match for the innocence of those on board.
A 13 year old girl and three adults killed by Russian troops here in early May, said Ukrainian officials.
WALSH (on camera): They're saying that the concentration of bullets is on the driver's side and in the passenger door behind showing gunmen who knew
what they were doing.
WALSH (voice over): Just up the road to Russian corpses that lay here now buried but for days they sat with their prayer books and sleeping bags and
grenades in the spring sun.
Their aging army derailed by a single rocket propelled grenade we're told, this fresh convoy fleeing the village of - up the river further evidence
Ukraine is pushing towards Russia's fragile supply lines from across the border.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We didn't understand what was going on. We just didn't wait to leave.
WALSH (voice over): Up on the hill, a rare sight a modern Russian T 90 tank, these drone images show its destruction.
WALSH (on camera): One of Russia's newest tanks, kind of a pride really of this invading force left today. But the big concern here is they're hearing
a drone above us. And while we don't know if that's Ukrainian or Russian, we're going to keep moving.
WALSH (voice over): You could not be much closer to Russia here. Yet still, these tiny pine idols feel brutalized, trapped in an endless fight. Some of
those who remain seem unaware of the details of their occupation and liberation. That does not mean they are unshaken.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My heart is about to jump out of my chest. Everything around is exploding. There's a hole in my garden from shelling. The roof
was punctured by a shell. The fence is gone. It's amazing I'm alive. We sleep in our clothes because it lands all around us.
WALSH (voice over): Disbelief here at Russian savagery from across the border now eclipsed by how fast it has retreated back towards it. Nick
Paton Walsh, CNN - study assaulting Ukraine.
GIOKOS: And coming up on "Connect the World" just the day after admitting its first COVID cases North Korea is reporting COVID deaths and thousands
of potential infections.
And after weeks of extraordinary reporting from inside Shanghai's lock down CNN Correspondent David Culver shares what it's like to finally leave
GIOKOS: The U.S. has now reached a dreaded milestone, 1 million deaths from COVID. For comparison, that's more than the total number of casualties the
U.S. has had. An all the walls you see here combined to help prevent more human tragedy caused by COVID.
The U.S. and the European Union say that they'll step up their efforts to provide COVID vaccines and treatments globally. U.S. President Joe Biden
and European Commission leader Ursula von der Leyen are pledging to increase vaccine equity and improve supply chains.
More commitments were also made at a virtual global COVID summit hosted by Mr. Biden. He says there's no time to wait when it comes to preparations
for the next variants or the next pandemic.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Now is the time for us to act all of us together. We almost do more must honor those we have
lost by doing everything we can to prevent as many deaths as possible.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GIOKOS: While China is continuing to struggle in its mission to stop the spread of COVID for weeks, CNN's David Culver was stuck and Shanghai's lock
down bringing us reporting on the frustrated residents who were banned from leaving their homes. He was finally able to leave this week. And here's the
story of his journey out.
DAVID CULVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Leaving Shanghai today is a onetime one way journey. I've not had this much freedom in 50 days. And
here we go off to the airport. Heading out for the first time since mid- March, it all feels so strange.
CULVER (on camera): A few people you see at the - about most of them are head to toe in hazmat suits. As you look on the streets, the ropes are
still blocking off a lot of the sidewalks stores basically all closed.
CULVER (voice over): With a government permitted driver we pass through checkpoints our documents thoroughly inspected including a letter from the
Many expats like me needing diplomatic letters just to leave our apartments. Once vibrant and rich with energy, Shanghai was forced into an
induced coma. The rolling lockdowns began in mid-March.
But by April, this city of more than 25 million people was under strict harsh lockdown, most of us sealed inside our homes. Community COVID tests
after, test after test and in between at home COVID tests.
CULVER (on camera): I've done quite a few of these.
CULVER (voice over): Early into the lockdown I packed to go back for me and for my dog. If I tested positive I'd likely end up at a government
isolation center like this, or worse like this.
Most of us would prefer just to recover in the privacy of our home. But in China's zero COVID world that is not an option. Shocking scenes of people
shouting we are starving. We are starving.
Heartbreaking stories of people being rejected medical care, some of them later dying, all because hospital workers feared breaking unforgiving zero
COVID protocols witnessing Shanghai's handling or mishandling reminded me of Wuhan.
On January 21 2020, we traveled into the then epicenter of what was a mystery illness.
CULVER (on camera): It's the wildlife and seafood market.
CULVER (voice over): Still fresh in our minds the perseverance of those in Wuhan who lived through the original lockdown, some losing loved ones to
COVID early on.
They risked their freedom to share with us their pain filled stories, furious with their government for not doing more to stop the initial
spread. Chinese officials maintain they were transparent from the start.
And in recent days, President Xi Jinping has reaffirmed and praised his country's zero COVID efforts vowing to fight any doubters and critics.
CULVER (voice over): Over the past two years we've lived through China's military like mobilization, rapidly building hospitals, mastering mass
testing of 10s of millions at one time, designing a sophisticated contact tracing system, essentially sealing off their borders to the outside world.
Wanting to keep on this story, I have not left China since 2019 making this departure a long overdue homecoming visit. Shanghai's Pudong International
Airport, once among the busiest in the world, is now a lonely experience.
On the departures board, only two international flights slated to leave on this day. On the floor sleeping bags and trash were stranded travelers have
camped out a wait here for days or weeks for a flight out.
Outside on the tarmac, strict COVID protocols and sanitation is in place. Ground crews spraying each other with disinfectant boarding the near empty
plane, it finally starts to feel real.
The disorder, despair, the chaos, the anger, the exhaustion, all of it feels so distant now, with a sigh of relief and a bit of survivor's guilt,
leaving behind a country amidst almost unprecedented changes.
I wonder if China's tightening zero COVID restrictions, coupled with rising tensions with the West will keep its shuttered doors from ever reopening.
David Culver, CNN back home.
GIOKOS: Good to see David Culver back home. What an incredible journey. Now right next door North Korea faces an explosive COVID 19 outbreak, its
reporting its first COVID death.
A day after announcing its first case North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un visited the epidemic prevention headquarters Thursday in Pyongyang. The
same day he ordered a nationwide lockdown.
And since late April, North Korean state media say more than 350,000 cases of unexplained fevers have been identified. Let's bring in Will Ripley, who
over the years has gotten rare access to cover stories from inside North Korea.
He joins us now live from Taipei in Taiwan. I tell you when you hear 350,000, unexplained, you know fever cases; it makes you wonder if this is
COVID related. It's interesting to be getting some information. But what can we read into it?
WILL RIPLEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I mean I'm really heartsick for the people who I've worked with inside North Korea for the
last eight years, haven't been able to make contact since this latest news broke. But I can imagine it's the conditions are pretty, pretty bad we're
talking about a lockdown situation.
There was a Chinese state media reporter locked down in his apartment, he said he had enough food to last him for a week. And after that he had no
idea because the government hadn't reached out with any information about a plan. And he is an expat.
He is one of the privileged that has - unlike most of people, certainly outside of North Korean capital Pyongyang. So you think about them
potentially being hungry, you think about the fact they have no herd immunity, essentially, because they have hermetically sealed their borders
for the last two years.
And that stopped a lot of trade, including food coming in. Most NGOs and foreign diplomats left the country a long time ago, because North Korea
doesn't have banks, they have foreigners have to hand carry in suitcases of cash.
And when the cash ran out people had to pack up and leave. So North Korea is arguably more isolated now, at a huge risk, given that there's no herd
immunity for this highly contagious Omicron variant.
They don't even have enough testing equipment to necessarily confirm which variant it is. And they certainly don't have ventilators and the type of
medical equipment that would be needed to treat severe cases of which there are millions of people who would be at risk for severe case.
So it's, it's a really, really, obviously, we're not in there. This is all just kind of thinking about all of these factors coming together. And it
could be really, really just awful, awful.
GIOKOS: And your contacts on the ground telling you that, you know, this could be a dire situation. They're rejecting the offers of vaccines from
neighbors. We know that international community has offered a helping hand and mostly said no.
And then I wonder, you know, in terms of where the possible outbreak could be, and then the question is, how did it even get in? There are so many
questions around this.
RIPLEY: You know, yes, the North Koreans apparently were offered vaccines made in China, which they rejected. They wanted something like the Pfizer
vaccine that didn't, you know, that was proven to be effective and not have side effects.
But so as a result, you know, the North Korean leadership essentially turned down millions of doses of vaccines, any of which would have been
better than no vaccines.
And so you have North Korea and Eritrea as the two countries in the world that have yet to administer vaccines to their general population. I would
imagine that the elite, meaning the high level, North Koreans have been vaccinated although we saw North Korean state media Kim Jong-Un wearing a
mask for the very first time that we've seen him.
You know, the North Koreans even though they had their borders sealed Eleni, you know they had a military parade on the 25th of April with
thousands of people not wearing masks.
RIPLEY: Given that there was an Omicron outbreak just across the border in China, you have to wonder if they're now wondering if that large event was
a mistake. If that could have been the super spreader event that started all of those cases detected in Pyongyang.
GIOKOS: Will, thank you very much for that insights and I'm sure we'll be talking about the story. Again, thank you so much. Now coming up after the
break, Elon Musk presses the pause button why the world's richest man is putting his blockbuster deal to buy Twitter on hold.
GIOKOS: Elon Musk's epic $44 billion deal to buy Twitter is now on hold. Earlier today the billionaire broke the news with a tweet of course saying
Twitter deal temporarily on hold pending details supporting calculation that spend/fake accounts do indeed represent less than 5 percent of users.
CNN Business Correspondent Rahel Solomon joins us now live from New York. Rahel, what a day, I mean, honestly, Elon Musk is just moving the markets
constantly is changing stock prices, just by a mere tweet, and so much is at stake. What is he trying to achieve here?
RAHEL SOLOMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Eleni, what a morning. Yes. And the tweet that you just mentioned, that actually is just part one, act one of the
drama we saw unfold this morning. Act two was a follow up tweet that came a few hours later, just before eight 8 a.m. eastern Elon Musk tweeting, still
committed to acquisition.
This news, these tweets really sending Twitter shares pre market into a bit of a tailspin. They plunged at one point more than 20 percent. Dan Ives, an
analyst who covers the stock very closely telling me this morning over the phone, this is the black eye for Musk, no matter how you slice it even for
his most loyal followers.
This is the black eye this tweeting of a deal. It's just really improper. That said he said he also was really skeptical about that Reuters article,
the reasoning of the spam bots being the reason you're walking away from this deal, saying that that's essentially been known sort of in the
community for quite some time, also saying it's like saying the dog ate your homework. He's not buying it.
So Eleni at this point, folks are starting to question was this just a ploy, a strategy to perhaps renegotiate a better deal? Of course, his offer
was 54.20 a share, last I checked shares were closer to $40 a share, or is this a ploy to just walk away from the deal? And if he does, there will
likely be a $1 billion breakup fee.
GIOKOS: Rahel, I was just about to say that I mean, basically it's just changing the PE ratio as it chooses through a mere tweet. I mean, this is
what's becoming very interesting, and he's trying to justify perhaps paying a cheaper price.
But importantly, here we know we've been questioning his real commitment to get into Twitter. So I think we'll be watching this one very closely Rahel
Solomon, really good to see you as always, thanks so much.
All right, tonight for our parting shots, we paid tribute to the UAE's late President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan who passed away today at age
73. Sheikh Khalifa came to power in 2004 when his father UAE founder, Sheikh Zayed al Nahyan died.
During his tenure he modernized the country transforming the UAE into the regional powerhouse that it is today.
GIOKOS: An avid sports fan Sheikh Khalifa helped his brother acquire Manchester City Football Club, and he inspired the name of the world's
tallest building Burj Khalifa.
After suffering a stroke in 2014, Sheikh Khalifa stepped away from most of his duties, his brother, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Mohammed bin Zayed
has widely been seen as the UAE's de facto ruler ever since.
Tweeting about his passing Sheikh Mohammed said, Khalifa bin Zayed my brother, my mentor, and my teacher, may God have mercy on you and bless you
into his heavens. Well, thank you so very much for joining us.
That was "Connect the World". CNN's coverage of Russia's invasion of Ukraine continues after the short break. I'm Eleni Giokos, have a fantastic