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Man Buried Alive by Russian Soldiers Recounts Harrowing Tale; Russia Attacks Odessa, a city with Long-Standing Ties; Hezbollah and Allies Lose Majority in Lebanon's Parliament; Leaders of Sweden & Finland will Visit White House; Humanitarian Crisis could Kill more Afghans than War; Blackpool's Jake Daniels comes out as Openly Gay. Aired 11a-12p ET
Aired May 17, 2022 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN, Abu Dhabi. This is "Connect the World".
ELENI GIOKOS, CNN HOST, CONNECT THE WORLD: I'm Eleni Giokos in Abu Dhabi. Hello and welcome to "Connect the World". Finland and Sweden will both hand
in their formal applications to NATO on Wednesday Sweden's Prime Minister has just announced.
The leaders of both nations have been meeting in Stockholm today and if the applications are accepted, it will be a seismic shift for European
security. And we'll bring you more on those diplomatic lines later in the show.
But for now, a major story from on the ground in Ukraine. Ukraine's defense of Mariupol is effectively over with the evacuation of more than 260 people
from the Azovstal Steel Plant. And this is how it looked after their left.
Ukraine's Deputy Defense Minister says dozens of injured Ukrainian troops were transported to a medical facility, the others on their way to a city
in Russian controlled territory. She says a prisoner exchange with Russia is expected soon.
Melissa Bell is tracking developments for us in Kyiv. Melissa, we've been watching very closely the developments at the Azovstal Steel Plant, and
it's literally been one of those huge crises points for the Ukrainians. Give me a sense of how they were able to negotiate, you know, soldiers
leaving and importantly where to from here?
MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the negotiations continue. Really all we've seen confirmation of so far Eleni is the evacuation of some of
those fighters that had been in the Azovstal Steel Plant for so many weeks, and that the whole world and Ukraine certainly had been extremely focused
on given the worsening humanitarian circumstances in which they were living and holding out inside that plant since it was the last bastion of
Ukrainian resistance in and around Mariupol.
So it's extremely significant militarily, the fact that these more than 260 fighters have now surrendered to Russia extremely significant to Moscow and
a victory for them. It is their fate now that hangs in the balance of these extremely delicate and sensitive and ongoing negotiations.
The idea what Ukraine is hoping is that they will be handed back as some sort of prisoner exchange, but the negotiations are underway and have not
yet resulted in an actual agreement for a prisoner exchange.
But you're quite right to point it out. These men and women had become such a strong symbol of Ukrainian resistance something that the whole country
was watching very carefully very closely. Now these last few days, we've had the opportunity to head up to the north of the country in those parts
In Chernihiv region that had been occupied by Russian forces for part of the war for several weeks, and from where some more stories of resistance
and extraordinary tales of survival have been emerging.
BELL (voice over): This is where Mykola Kulichenko was buried alive. The blindfolds he says he and his two brothers were made to wear by Russian
soldiers still strewn by their shallow grave. Mykola shows us where the bullet entered his cheek. His brother - and Dimitra (ph) were killed but he
managed to escape there.
I had to live to tell this story not to Ukrainians, but to the world he says. The regional prosecutor's office says a war crimes investigations
been opened. This is Mykola's house where he lived with his two brothers along with their sister on March 18 he says Russian soldiers came into the
village looking for men that they believed were responsible for the attack on one of their convoys. And that is when the family's nightmare began.
BELL (on camera): Three soldiers entered the house looking for anything that might link the brothers to the attack on the convoy. They found
nothing but what they did find was something to link the family to the military in the shape of their grandfather's Military Medal.
BELL (voice over): They also found his military bag since as a reservist in the Ukrainian army, he was preparing to go and fight.
BELL (on camera): For four days their sister Iryna heard nothing from her brothers until Mykola came back from the dead.
BELL (on camera): I came home and there was Mykola. I looked at his eyes and asked where are the others he said there are no others.
BELL (voice over): Mykola says that after being taken from their home, the three brothers were blindfolded and interrogated in a cellar for four days.
They were then beaten and taken to the site of their execution. Two months on, he still struggles to speak.
MYKOLA KULICHENKO, ALLEGED WAR CRIME VICTIM: What do I think of the Russians, I hate them with all my soul? They are animals they should burn
BELL (voice over): It was only after the Russian withdrawal that a month after their execution was given a proper burial, a tombstone and the piece
that Mykola has been denied.
BELL: Now, those alleged war crimes now the subject of an investigation, of course, just some of the many more than 11,000 war crimes recorded since
the war began here in Ukraine, many of them already it's subject of an investigation like the ones surrounding the Kulichenko family and what
happened to them in those tragic circumstances.
But I think it's important to remember that even as those investigations get underway, the war continues. And just south of there, in fact, between
where I'm standing now and that village on the outskirts of Chernihiv lies the military complex of - where overnight, more strikes hit, many people
were killed, many others wounded we understand.
We don't have the exact figures for the time being and it's in the context of a war over which negotiations between Ukraine and Russia are for the
time being Eleni entirely suspended.
GIOKOS: Melissa, thank you so very much. What an incredible story? All right, while the Ukraine's battle for Mariupol appears lost around Kharkiv
in the Northeast, the Ukrainian military says forces are advancing in Russian positions, including a border town that Russia has been using to
resupply its troops.
These images show damage to Russian vehicles. To the south heavy fighting is reported along the front lines in the Donbas region, Ukraine's
government released this video of damaged residential areas in Donetsk. It says its forces are repelling Russian advances.
I want to bring in CNN Military Analyst General Wesley Clark, who served as a Supreme Allied Commander of NATO. General, thank you so very much for
joining us! I want to get a macro picture from you.
But we've been discussing Mariupol you and I for so many weeks now. And it seems that the battle for Mariupol is effectively over and the Ukrainians
really enduring so many sacrifices there. What do you make of the latest developments?
GENERAL WESLEY CLARK (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, I think that the defenders have done an incredible job of holding out under the most
extraordinary circumstances and difficult circumstances. They've been incredibly courageous.
The Russian attack was stalled there. It distracted the Russian advance, it held the Russians back and it kept Russian forces focused on Mariupol,
rather than exploiting to the north or to the west. So the defense was militarily successful.
It was a humanitarian tragedy in the area. And I think that President Zelenskyy has made the right decision, ending the mission at this point,
and saving the lives of these brave defenders.
GIOKOS: Do you think that Putin is going to announce victory there?
CLARK: Well, I think that there wasn't a possibility of more success had they held on. So I think you have to consider that the offense in Mariupol
was a relative success. You know, at the start of the war, it seemed that Russia had the possibility of sweeping throughout Ukraine.
Well, Mariupol was a hard point and they weren't able to continue the momentum that is advanced, in part large part in the South because of
Mariupol. And the continued - resistance of those defenders makes it a successful defense that may have been approved and crucial turning point in
the strategy of the whole war.
GIOKOS: Yes. Yes, they were hoping General for blitzkrieg type of, you know, sweep through Ukraine. That's what they miscalculated. And you
rightly mentioned the beginning of the war, we saw Russian sort of sprinkled around Ukraine, they had to regroup.
Let's take a look at the map here. And it's pretty indicative of how the Russians had to sort of rethink their objectives. When we're so far into
the war right now General do you get a sense that Russia is not achieving its military objectives that it needs to rethink its strategy?
GIOKOS: We thought that the East was going to be the big focal point, but they're also losing ground there?
CLARK: Well, it's clear that Russia hasn't achieved its strategy. But I think we have to be clear that in the West, we have to think our strategy
through. You know, I hear many voices in the West saying, oh, just stop the killing, stop the killing, just get it stopped right now.
Yes, that's a humanitarian outcry. That's very understandable. But this is a struggle, not just about Ukraine, but about the future of the
international system. It's very important that when the fighting ends, Russia is out of Ukraine, and Ukraine's territorial integrity and political
independence, be assured, just as the Budapest Memorandum of 1994 promised.
Aggression can't be rewarded. So yes, the Russians are trying to rethink their strategy. We have to be sure about our strategy and what our
objectives are in assisting Ukraine.
GIOKOS: I mean, look, the Russians have a choice to further mobilize or de- escalate. We know that de-escalation would be admitting defeat. How do you think Putin is going to be looking at the latest strategies and also keep
in mind Finland and Sweden have formally applied to join NATO?
CLARK: Well, I think Putin is still rational, despite the fact that he must be irate, and feeling besieged and angry that it hasn't worked out the way
he planned. But a decision to escalate by Russia has to be measured against what the results would be.
And the simple truth is that Russian escalation would bring a more rapid defeat for Russia. And as long as we continue to show this to Putin, he's
not likely to escalate. In fact, this is what we need to do to end this fighting. We have to convince Mr. Putin that he cannot win, and that
escalation will cause him to lose more rapidly.
GIOKOS: General Clark, thank you so very much, always good to speaking with you much appreciate it for your insight.
CLARK: Thank you.
GIOKOS: And as fighting in the south of Ukraine continues, we have been getting more reports of Russian attacks near the strategic city of Odessa.
A tourist center was hit by missiles on Monday, but the port city has not come under full assault.
Odessa is home to many Russian speaking people who could potentially be allies with Moscow, but some are angry about the brutality Russia has shown
in this fight. CNN's Sara Sidner has that story.
SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The remains of freshly bombed buildings a hotel and homes reduced to dust the result of the latest
Russian missile attack in the Odessa region that has experienced strike after strike on places people live, work and visit. This is Russia's
attempt to terrorize a target it desperately wants to possess.
SIDNER (on camera): Tell me what the strategic importance is of Odessa?
GENNADIY TRUKHANOV, ODESSA MAYOR: This is the Seagate of our country he says. This is a city of legend younger.
SIDNER (voice over): its home to Ukraine's largest Black Sea Port used both commercially and militarily. Russia has already attacked its oil refinery.
If Putin's forces were to take the Odessa region, Ukraine's entire Black Sea coast would be controlled by Russia, the Mayor of Odessa bristles at
Ukraine today is a maritime power it will be a completely different state without access to the sea without transport logistics he says. We and our
armed forces will do everything to prevent the enemy from entering.
SIDNER (voice over): But the ties to the enemy run deep, historically and financially. Before the war Russian tourists help this Ukrainian seaside
OLEKSANDR BABICH, HISTORIAN: Ideal Russians really liked our cuisine, our shops here the sea, architecture, and there were no problems.
SIDNER (voice over): Oleksandr Babich, she's a historian who also owns a tour guide company. He says citizens of Odessa speak Russian more than they
speak Ukrainian. Pro-Russian politicians were voted into office regularly. The mayor was once friendly with Russia. He himself spoke to us in Russian.
SIDNER (on camera): Were you pro-Russian before and changed?
TURKHANOV: I want to say that I have always had pro-Odessa views he says, but I love and respect the history of my city where I was born.
SIDNER (voice over): Everywhere you look in the city as a reminder of its Russian history, there are statues of Alexander Pushkin considered Russia's
greatest poet and monuments to the conqueror of this land Russian Empress "Catherine the Great" her sculpture used to be guarded and kept pristine
now it's soiled and a fresh Ukrainian flag flies on it.
SIDNER (voice over): There has been a long fight over whether to remove these symbols of imperialism in Odesa.
There is social demand say and we need to get rid of the symbols, he says. Not everyone agrees. Odesa writer and poet Paul Makarov says the monuments
The attitude was positive we appreciate and respect Catherine. Today the beds should in no way affect our attitude towards her. And there is this
problem. If we remove the monument to Catherine we need to rename the square, he says it was for a time named after Karl Marx for a while named
Then again Karl Marx, and here again after Catherine, what name should we choose? But the more Russian missiles wipe away lives here, the more fierce
the argument to erase the physical reminders of its Russian past. Sara Sidner, CNN Odessa.
GIOKOS: Alright, well coming up, we return to our top story. Finland and Sweden push ahead with their efforts to join NATO but not all of the blocks
members seem pleased that they're joining. And we'll take you back to Beirut to see why Hezbollah suffered a setback in Lebanon first vote since
the 2019 uprising.
GIOKOS: Welcome back and Lebanon's first election since the country's economic meltdown, some voters went looking for change. And that means the
pro Hezbollah block backed by Iran has lost its majority in Lebanon's Parliament.
It may sound like a big shift. But the question is how significant is it really? CNN's Ben Wedeman has been covering Lebanon for decades. And he
joins us now live from the capital Beirut.
Ben, always good to see you, we have a bit of time to get through some of the key issues. And I think that when we say Hezbollah coalition has lost
some of its seats, the majority in parliament, one wonders, you know, what are these other candidates, these independent candidates that are now
gaining traction? What do we know about their ideologies?
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, there are at this point around 12, or almost 10 percent of the parliament is a new
parliament are people called reformists or independents. These are people some of whom were actually participants in the October 2019 uprising that
filled this spot right here, which is just next to the government headquarters, the prime minister's office back in October 2019. Some are
affiliated with the reform movement.
WEDEMAN: So it certainly this is significant, keeping in mind that in the last parliamentary elections in 2018, there was only one person who was
identified as independent, who got a seat in Parliament.
So it does appear that this is significant. However, of course, there is only 10 percent perhaps, of Parliament, so it's going to be a bit of a
stretch for them to actually be able to push through legislation, but it's certainly OK.
What you're hearing is gunfire from an adjacent neighborhood where there are many supporters of Nabih Berri, who's the speaker of parliament; he's
apparently speaking at the moment on television.
He is a close ally of Hezbollah. So you might be hearing a bit of that gunfire as I speak. So anyway, to get back to as I was saying, yes, a
significant and it definitely sends a message to the members of the other members of parliament, that they need to start listening to the ordinary
concerns of people who don't identify themselves by their sect, but rather as Lebanese who want to see this country fixed the economy, brought back to
GIOKOS: So Ben, you and I, we've spoken about this numerous times. We've seen stalemates in the past where there's a failure to form a government.
And that has played a very strong role in the economic demise of Lebanon, which is absolutely tragic to watch when you see what inflation is doing to
Are you concerned that we might be seeing a stalemate scenario playing out once again?
WEDEMAN: No, when you consider that the last parliamentary elections took place in May of 2018. In the subsequent four years, about half of those
just slightly less, were spent waiting for politicians to agree on the next government.
So that's the real danger. And what we've seen already is the limping; the Lebanese lira that is lost so much of its value against the dollar has lost
more value in the last 24 hours, because people realize it will take a long time for these politicians to form a new government.
And the longer that there's a government, there's no government, the longer it will be that Lebanon's pressing economic problems will not be addressed.
Certainly what we're seeing is with perhaps the weakening of Hezbollah, with more reformers in government, there is a chance that there will be
progress made that the politicians will finally focus on this country's problems.
But it may take a while. And this really just underscores yet again, where the anger of so many Lebanese at the political elite comes from, the
political elite is fine. They're not suffering; most of them have their money abroad.
And they continue to live the high life while most people here are seeing their standard of living plummet, Eleni?
GIOKOS: Yes, and Ben, we've even seen from international institutions saying, well, you know, there has to be reform, there has to be a change in
this the elites thinking and the way that Lebanon is governed.
Do you get a sense from having covered Lebanon in such a long, you know, over such a long period of time, that this could be the start of change?
WEDEMAN: I think, you know, going into the elections, there was a lot of skepticism that nothing would change that the politics would continue to
have no relation to reality here.
But after it, I think people are taking hope that perhaps the message is getting across, that you shouldn't protect your sect, whether you're
Christian, Muslim Druze or whatever, that you should be looking out for the welfare of ordinary people, you as a member of parliament, you as a
politician, as a president, as a prime minister, as a minister, in government.
Certainly the message that's coming out is that despite the divisions within the so called reformist camp, the fact that there were multiple
lists in every almost every electoral district that if the reform candidates had joined in one list, that they would have done much better.
But the fact that this I mean, rather, despite that, that they did so well indicates there's a huge appetite for change. It's just that there's still
a long way to go before change real change can actually happen, Eleni?
GIOKOS: Yes, you'd think that the welfare of the average people would be priority for those governing. But Ben, thank you so much. I'm sure we'll be
speaking on this a lot more, much appreciate it.
Like we're seeing new tensions elsewhere in the region after mourners at a funeral procession in Jerusalem clashed with Israeli police. The
Palestinian Red Crescent says more than 70 Palestinians were injured.
Israeli police say six officers were also hurts. The funeral was for a man who died following last month's unrest at the Al Aqsa Mosque compound. We
have Atika Shubert covering this recent wave of violence.
And she joins us now from Jerusalem, Atika, from what we understand, and also the CNN producers on the ground. Do we know why Israeli forces were
using force or violence against the Palestinian mourners? And what exactly prompted this escalation?
ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN JOURNALIST: Well, I think you have to understand first that Israeli security forces and police in particular have been on very
increased alert recently. Tensions have really increased across Israel and the West Bank.
Because of the spate of attacks on Israeli citizens by Palestinians, a number of Israelis have been killed. And as a result, you've seen Israeli
security forces in general have this heightened state of alert.
However, it is the second time in a week that we've seen Israeli police use force at Palestinian funerals in Jerusalem. Yesterday's funeral was for
Walid Al Sharif is a young Palestinian man who was actually injured last month during unrest also involving Israeli police at Al Aqusa's mosque
compound in the Old City of Jerusalem.
This happened last month, but he succumbed to his injuries just this week. And so the funeral was yesterday. Israeli police blocked people from
attending his funeral at the mosque and as a result, that's what triggered the clashes.
That lasted for at least an hour. Palestinians threw bottles, rocks and fireworks. Israeli police used tear gas stun grenades, and rubber bullets.
At least one person was very seriously injured when he was shot in the eye with a rubber coated bullet.
Unfortunately, this is just the latest in this cycle of violence that is continuing. As I mentioned, there was the spate of violent and deadly
attacks. And as a result, you know Israeli security forces have blocked off access to the Palestinian territories and conducted a number of raids in
the West Bank, some of which have turned deadly.
And in fact, the Al Jazeera Correspondent Shireen Abu Akleh was covering one of those Israeli police raids in the town of Jenin when she was shot
and killed. So it does not - these tensions continue to rise and it doesn't seem to be any way at this point to calm them down.
GIOKOS: Atika Shubert, thank you so very much. Let's get you up to speed now on some other stories that are on our radar. The skies over Iraq,
glowing red after another sand storm hit the country.
Health officials tell CNN at least 4000 people have suffered breathing issues flights out of Baghdad International Airport have resumed after
being halted on Monday. This is the latest in a series of storms to strike Iraq in recent weeks.
Cuba says it welcomes the easing of some U.S. restrictions. The Biden White House is reversing some Trump era policies making it easier for families to
visit relatives on the communist run island.
But Cuba will remain on the U.S. State Department list of countries that support terrorism. North Korea has released the first specific figures on
its COVID outbreak since acknowledging the country's first case last week.
Health officials told state TV there have been around 168 confirmed COVID 19 infections. State media however have reported 1.4 million cases of
"fevers and 56 deaths".
Ahead we take you inside Afghanistan where there is no food, no jobs and fewer and fewer human rights. Christiane Amanpour will join us live from
Kabul with a look at how the country is doing and nine months after the Taliban takeover.
Plus, our top story tonight Finland and Sweden are about to formally apply to NATO. But not all NATO members are sure they want them to join. We will
take you to Sweden and Turkey just ahead.
GIOKOS: Finland and Sweden will hand in their formal applications to join NATO on Wednesday. Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson made the
announcement just a short time ago speaking alongside her, Finland's President praised the move as a triumph for democracy.
But their membership to NATO isn't done a done deal. Turkey's president is voicing his opposition. He's accusing both nations of harboring terrorists
and told them not to bother sending delegations to Turkey to try and change his mind.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN, TURKISH PRESIDENT: Swedish and Finnish delegations are coming to Turkey on Monday. Are they coming to convince us? Excuse me,
but they should not hire themselves. First of all, we should not say yes to those who impose sanctions on Turkey to join NATO.
Because the NATO which seems to be a security organization, and become a place where representatives of terrorist organizations are concentrated.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GIOKOS: With Turkey as NATO's second largest military power, it could be a significant roadblock. And we have reporters following both sides of the
story. CNN's Nina Dos Santos joins us now from Stockholm, Sweden and Jomana Karadsheh is in Istanbul.
Nina, I'd like to start off with you. I mean, you're seeing a show of force Sweden and Finland making this decision together announcing together. Give
me a sense of what more needs to be done because you and I have spoken about this. This is a process and it's going to take some time.
NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and there's a recognition here in Sweden and also in Helsinki that it could take up to a year. And during
that time, these countries need to show that they can continue to jointly negotiate their accession.
And that they won't be torn apart by any of these kinds of wedge issues that are being thrown in their way not least by of course, Turkey. That has
raised objections, as you just heard there to Sweden, offering asylum to Kurds, people who President Erdogan says are affiliated with the PKK and
These are groups that he deems as terrorist organizations. And that criticism is largely leveled for the large part at Sweden rather than
Finland. What we saw in this press conference was a joint show of force as you said, I do, which hopefully will then eventually lead to protection
with 32 members if these two are eventually admitted into this elite and most powerful military alliance.
And what we're seeing to try and push the diplomatic levers, especially with regard to Turkish opposition here is the United States getting
involved that the U.S. President Joe Biden, having invited both of these two leaders now to Washington DC to discuss their NATO membership bids.
That meeting will take place on Thursday. We heard from the Swedish Prime Minister and also the Finnish President whose Parliament overwhelmingly
voted in support of NATO just a few hours ago that both of them would submit those bids tomorrow morning to NATO HQ by way of their ambassadors.
DE SANTOS: But we also heard that they were looking forward to more of a relationship with Turkey. So that's quite interesting there. It gave an
idea that there might be a bit of a diplomatic window that Sweden might be willing to negotiate on some things. We're just not quite clear at this
stage what, Eleni.
GIOKOS: Nina Dos Santos, thank you so very much. We have Jomana Karadsheh standing by for us as well. Jomana, as we've just heard from Nina, the
Turkish opposition right now is an interesting one.
I want you to give me a sense of what Erdogan is demanding and whether he's been very clear about whether Turkey is going to block a vote on Sweden and
JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Look, I mean, Eleni over the past few days, we've heard from Turkish officials and perhaps less diplomatically
from President Erdogan what their issues are.
And this center around what Nina was mentioning there, the perceived support for Kurdish separatist groups, namely the PKK, which is deemed a
terrorist organization, not just by Turkey, but by the EU and the United States.
President Erdogan and Turkish officials saying that they have found a safe haven, in countries like Sweden, and Finland. Another issue, you know,
interestingly, as Nina was pointing out there, that perhaps there is room for negotiations and some sort of a compromise.
And the feeling is perhaps it's the second issue that President Erdogan highlighted yesterday, and that's the arms embargo sanctions that were
imposed in Turkey back in 2019, by these Nordic countries, following Turkey's military offensive in northeastern Syria.
President Erdogan saying yesterday, he can't vote yes, when those countries that are sanctioning his country to be members of the alliance, so perhaps
there is room for negotiations there.
And despite the tough talk from President Erdogan, Eleni, we've heard from his senior officials over the weekend saying that this is not Turkey's
position. You know, it's not affirmed.
No, it is not a definite veto, but they want their security issues addressed. And we've also heard the support they've gotten from the NATO
Secretary General saying, look, if Turkey has issues, they should be addressed.
The consensus is that Turkey will eventually vote yes as it has in the past.
GIOKOS: Jomana, I have to ask you quickly. Turkey has a hunt about 401,000 active personnel right now. Just how important is Turkey to the NATO
KARADSHEH: Well, it is NATO's second largest army. This is historically a strategic ally that, you know, has proven itself over the past decades,
especially during the Cold War, Turkey continues to provide a protection for NATO's southern flank.
But you know, NATO, Turkey has had quite a complicated relationship with NATO, especially Eleni in recent years, where Turkey has felt that NATO
allies have not really taken its security concerns, threats to its national security seriously, especially when it comes to NATO allies like the United
States and others providing support to the YPG that Syrian Kurdish militia in northeastern Syria that Turkey views as an extension of the PKK, one of
the biggest, if not the biggest existential threat to this country.
So look, while some feel that this is not necessarily just about Sweden, and Finland right now, these are long term grievances that Turkey has had
with its NATO allies that are coming to the fore right now.
GIOKOS: Jomana Karadsheh and Nina de Santos, thank you so much. Right, as Jomana had just mentioned, Turkey is NATO's second largest military and
extremely important to the strategic alliance.
For more on this I'd like to bring in Omer Taspinar, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution specializing in Turkey. Omer, thank you so much for
joining us, I think I have to ask you simply do you think Turkey is capable of blocking a vote to get Sweden and Finland into NATO?
OMER TASPINAR, SENIOR FELLOW, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: The short answer is yes. Turkey has leverage, NATO takes this decision. The decision is to take
new partners unanimously. So if one country within NATO objects to membership of a new country, that country could block the whole process,
similar dynamics applied to the European Union.
So Erdogan here has major leverage, not just with Finland and Sweden, but more importantly with the United States. And let's not forget Erdogan is
the ultimate transactional politician. So he's eyeing at Washington.
TASPINAR: And what you can get from President Biden more so than what you can get from just Sweden and Finland.
GIOKOS: Yes, and that's a really good point. So let's talk about these potential transactions. What will he be asking for? We know the Kurdish
Workers Party PKK. He's saying that Sweden has been assisting them or, you know, harboring them.
And then the other important point which Turkey has been very vocal about as the arms embargo that it feels that he hasn't been able to purchase arms
like other NATO members. How quickly do you think these issues can be and will be resolved?
TASPINAR: Well, it depends on how much President Biden wants to compromise on Turkey. Right now, there are military sanctions against Turkey. In fact,
Turkey is unable to buy the F-35s that it was part of the production process, because it has purchased Russian missile defense system from
So I'm sure what Erdogan wants is a presidential call from Biden, or maybe an invitation to Washington, where he can discuss with President Biden,
whether Turkey will receive F-35s, whether Turkey will receive military support from the United States and whether this military embargo, the
sanctions that Turkey is under from the United States can be lifted. That's the big item on Erdogan's agenda. GIOKOS: OK. So Omer, I have to ask you
this. How do you think Turkey is weighing up the risks of Russian risks and security in Europe versus his internal, you know, issues and domestic
issues versus the fact that Putin must be smiling right now going, you know, Erdogan is exactly the challenge that, you know, NATO needs right now
to not expand.
And Turkey sitting in a very interesting position right now, where they're saying, well, we're negotiating with Russia, we're playing this diplomat in
the region. And on the other end, instead of showing, you know, a force with NATO, perhaps standing on the sidelines.
TASPINAR: Well, you're absolutely right. I mean, Putin has invested a lot on Erdogan in his relationship with Erdogan, because he considered Turkey
and Erdogan the weakest link within NATO.
So Turkey, purchasing Russian missile defense systems was very, very favorable to Russia. And right now, it seems like Putin has outsourced the
issue of blocking NATO expansion to Turkey, and Turkey is willing to play that game.
Now it that's why it depends on how much President Biden is willing to also compromise on this. This is just the opening gambit, in my opinion of what
Erdogan wants to do.
He is very clear about being a transactional politician. He's also - Putin has a lot of leverage with Turkey. Turkey is dependent on Russian gas,
Russian oil, Russian tourism, and Putin still has a ministry in Syria.
If it bombs northern Syria, Turkey will have to open the border to another 1,2,3, 4 million Syrian refugees. So let's not forget that Putin is also
part of this multi-dimensional chess and he may force Erdogan not to compromise on this issue. GIOKOS: Yes, very interesting. Questioning the
relationship between Erdogan and Putin, a conversation we must have again, Omer, thank you very much for your insights.
Right, next, we are joined by Christiane Amanpour live from Afghanistan; the humanitarian situation under the Taliban is going from bad to worse. By
some calculations, it could be deadlier than decades of war.
GIOKOS: As rights dwindle in Afghanistan, people there have one less option for seeking justice. The Taliban dissolved the country's Independent Human
Rights Commission, along with several other agencies, and they cite budgetary reasons. Afghanistan's economy is so battered nearly 20 million
people are said to be facing acute hunger. There are fears the crisis could kill more Afghans than two decades of war.
All this as the Taliban say they want to be considered a legitimate government. CNN Chief International Anchor Christiane Amanpour is reporting
for us from Kabul. Christiane, it's one thing for us to read the data and the stats from where we are comfort of our own homes it's another to see
it, can you give me a sense of what you've experienced?
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Yes, Eleni. And as you know and as the world knows, Afghanistan has really fallen off the map
because of the attention paid to Russia's war on Ukraine. And by the way, the wheat shortages, the grain shortages there are further impacting the
desperate and grinding poverty here and other places around the world.
All that to say that the statistics are truly horrendous and the UN various different organizations, basically are saying that, you know, potentially
up to 9 million people could face famine like conditions.
There are some 20 million people that's almost half the population facing and in the midst of acute hunger. The IRC, the International Rescue
Committee says that nearly half the population here survives on less than one meal a day.
These sound like statistics, but we have seen it. And we have talked to people who are undergoing these terrible conditions. And as you said, the
extraordinary fact is that according to the humanitarian organizations, the number of people who could die because of this terrible humanitarian
catastrophe could dwarf the number of civilians who've died during 20 years of war.
Those were the very, very worst predictions. Now they have managed to get through the winter. But aid agencies are concerned that it will just crop
up again, this terrible shortage, particularly because of drought, that is already building might get worse.
And as I said, grain and other food prices have skyrocketed across the world. This country is not immune. And we saw people who I mean, honestly
in Kabul, we were told that some of these people had never in their lives, and never in history, stood in line for humanitarian assistance.
Some of the people we saw, we were told, and we asked, you know, had jobs before. They were educated bachelor's degrees, master's degrees, they were
women, they were men, they were all they were young.
There is no discrimination in terms of the poverty as it is striking the people here right now. So we've been to hospitals to aid distribution
centers into, you know, into one family's home.
As I said, some eat just one meal a day. And that is even that is a hard scramble; some have to put their children out to work to try to get some
income. When I say children, I mean, eight year olds and 10 year olds, it's truly a terrible situation on this humanitarian level, Eleni.
GIOKOS: Yes, it's completely shocking to hear. Christiana mean, look, the World Food Program from the start of this crisis was pleading for more
funds to assist. Give me a sense of just how, you know, present, the humanitarian agencies are on the ground, and whether they have enough
resources to be able to assist.
You've rightly said, there's been a huge supply constraint on grain and wheat, which of course is compounding the issue.
AMANPOUR: Well, exactly. Now, the humanitarian agencies, they're working, I mean, really hard. There are sanctions on this country, as you know. But
the United States and other countries but mostly the United States has done these, what they call carve outs, quite a few carve outs to make sure that
all the aid the humanitarian agencies need does go to the people.
They will not funnel any money through the Taliban government. It's all going around the Taliban and to the people. They have also they tell me a
western official that they have cut carve outs for businesses including some businesses that you know conducted through the government.
AMANPOUR: So they're trying to do their best to assuage the humanitarian crisis. But humanitarian assistance is not a replacement, or, you know, you
can't have an economy just based on humanitarian assistance.
So the economy, the activity here has collapsed over the last nine months since the Taliban has been in power. And since the west left this country
to its own devices, I mean, it's truly a real moral dilemma.
Because now according to western officials, who I speak to, they've got to decide whether they're going to engage with the Taliban, and to try to save
lives, or whether they're going to continue to hold this government accountable for just about everything, including, of course, women's
And we do delve in to that more, more this evening on our show, and we will continue to do so this week, because it is part of the terrible crisis that
has emerged here.
Because the west doesn't want to engage in part with a government that does not uphold the rights of the women as they have won them over the last 20
years. And that does not abide by international humanitarian and human rights protocols.
So this is a very, very difficult dilemma and the cost of it, and the price of it is being paid by the people here. It's truly tragic. I haven't seen
it this bad since I first covered Afghanistan in the 90s. And humanitarian organization says much worse today.
GIOKOS: Christiane, thank you so much for bringing to light these issues. And I know you sat down with an exclusive interview with the deputy Taliban
leader and will be watching that full interview during your show Amanpour later tonight, 9 p.m. here in Abu Dhabi.
And that's fine 9.30 in Kabul, and of course, you can also find out more on cnn.com. That was Christiana Amanpour reporting live from Kabul. It has
been a solemn week here in the UAE.
World leaders are making condolence calls for the late President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan. And they've been meeting with his successor
The visitors could give us an idea of the UAE's direction and the relationships it's forging in the region. Moving forward on Monday, we saw
U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris; lead a major delegation to Abu Dhabi, trying to smooth out some recent bumps in the relationship especially over
Washington's refusal so far to reenlist Yemen's Houthi movement as a terrorist organization.
That same day Sheikh Mohammed, welcoming Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, as well as the foreign minister of Iran.
He is the highest ranking Iranian official to visit the UAE in months as two countries signaled their desire to deescalate tensions that have marred
Up next after several canceled appearances Queen Elizabeth is on the move. So to what do we owe the surprise, that's coming up next.
GIOKOS: Jake Daniels of the Blackpool Football Club is being celebrated around the world. The 17 year old came out as gay on Monday in a statement
released by the club, the first male footballer to do so in the UK in over 30 years. Daniels decision has received widespread support from across
football and beyond.
GIOKOS: England captain Harry Kane posted on Twitter massive credit to you and the way your friends, family club and Captain have supported you.
Football should be welcoming for everyone.
And the great Sir Ian McKellen has reacted saying at 17 Jake Daniels represents a generation that rejects old fashioned homophobia in football
and elsewhere. Those who haven't yet grown up as he has, he sets an example.
No one does so many of us gay and everyone else admires and treasures him as a hero, what a goal he scored. And for tonight's parting shots, a
surprise appearance at London's Paddington Station by Queen Elizabeth dressed in bright yellow, with walking stick in hand.
The occasion the opening of the new Elizabeth Lyon named in her honor, Prince Edward British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and London Mayor Sadiq
Khan accompanied the queen for the opening while she did not use the train.
She was given an Oyster card because you never know when you'll need a prepaid travel card. After several canceled appearances in recent months
due to mobility issues, the Queen's visit was a welcome surprise.
Interesting yellow outfit and I also noticed the blue flower on her hats. All right, thanks so much for joining us. "One World" with Zain Asher is up
next. I'm Eleni Giokos, take care.