Return to Transcripts main page

Connect the World

U.S. President Joe Biden Tests Positive for COVID; CNN Speaks to Ukrainian Refugees in Russia and Estonia; Italian PM Mario Draghi Resigns as Coalition Collapses; Drought Conditions Worsen Firefighting Efforts in Portugal; Cubans Wait in Line for Days to Buy Diesel. Aired 11:25a-12p ET

Aired July 21, 2022 - 11:25   ET



BECKY ANDERSON, CNN HOST, CONNECT THE WORLD: And a reminder of our breaking news this hour U.S. President Joe Biden has tested positive for COVID. His

symptoms we are told are mild. He is double vaccinated and is double boosted. He is quarantining at the White House. Kamala Harris, I can report

has tested negative as his wife, Dr. Jill Biden. More of course, as we get it.

Well, I want to move on to the war in Ukraine now and I am going to begin with a warning.

I want to show you an image that I think captures the brutality of Russia's unprovoked war. It is not easy to watch. Here it is. What you have been

looking at there for a few seconds is Ukrainian father in Kharkiv praying over the body of his dead son we're told he was there for a couple of


Ukrainian Ambassador to the U.S. says the boy was 13-years-old, killed by Russian shelling on Wednesday. And this of course is not an isolated

tragedy. The UN said last week that at least 343 children had lost their lives in nearly five months of conflict.

Well, in the Southern City of Mykolaiv, chaotic scenes under cover of darkness as Russia unleashed seven missile strikes overnight. CNN's Senior

International Correspondent Matthew Chance is here with me now. With his fresh off a trip, which was his latest stint in covering the war in Ukraine

years of course of covering Russian politics from Moscow?

It's good to have you with us. You've been covering this story of the region now for years and years. You've been on the ground more than anybody

I know since this war currently began. What have you found?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's interesting, isn't it? Because we're in a sort have a static period in the



CHANCE: Right now, Sergey Lavrov, the Russian Foreign Minister recently saying that the delivery of long range weapons to the country by Western

powers means that they will have to keep on fighting keep on pushing back Ukrainian forces.

Because they say they can't allow that kind of weaponry to be within striking distance of Russian territory. But it all is very odd because back

in February, when this conflict began, the objective of the Russians was to take Kyiv; they spectacularly failed to do that.

And announced that instead, their objective was to secure Donbas and they've changed that again. And so you get the impression that, you know,

it's a sort of moving feast. It's an ever receding horizon when it comes to when this conflict from Russia's point of view will, will finally come to

an end.

ANDERSON: And that has to be the next question of course. When will this come to an end? Is it clear in any way at this point?

CHANCE: Not simply because those objectives keep moving? I think it's not clear. And I think the hope is, certainly my hope is that there'll be a

point at which the Russians will say, look, we've taken this territory, that's what we originally set out to do.

And they'll declare victory of some kind, whether that's even possible now, with the delivery of these long range weapons, which are having a real

impact on the battlefield? And the Ukrainians are being able to punish the Russians if not pushing back specifically.

And using this long range weaponry, we may still be looking at a very long term conflict in which the perfectly shaven which has no end in sight,

unfortunately, and of course, as we saw from that father praying over his dead son on the ground there, it's people in Ukraine, for the most part,

who will be paying the price for that.

ANDERSON: Hundreds of thousands of people from Ukraine have been moved into Russia, of course, at least hundreds of thousands, if not more. What do we

know about those who have moved through what are known as filtration camps by the Russians?

CHANCE: Yes, it's one of the really sinister one of the more sinister aspects of this situation. The Ukrainians say, hundreds of thousands of

their citizens have been forcibly deported by the Russians into Russian territory and pushed through these filtration camps.

The exact figure isn't clear. The Russians say more than two and a half million people have been what they would say evacuated from Ukraine into

Russia. The point is the filtration system is notorious. There are allegations from human rights groups that abuses take place there.

Torture, beatings, things like that, possibly worse it's not clear at this point. And the people who come out the other end who are filtered, people

who aren't in the military people who Russia regards is not posing a threat to them.

Well, then they're then dispersed to the four corners of Russia. Some of them actually escaped, but, and moved outside of Russia. But it's

interesting because we got a chance for the first time to speak to some of the people that had come through that filtration system and to hear from

them. Something about their experiences take a listen.


CHANCE (voice over): He was made, as Russian forces entered his Ukrainian home. His foot shot to pieces, and his wife killed he says before his eyes.

But now across the border in Russia, Alexei insists Ukraine, not Moscow is to blame for his suffering.

CHANCE (on camera): Was it the Russian army that did this?

CHANCE (voice over): The Russians were just entering the city. It was Ukrainian troops who shot at us as we collected drinking water he says. No

criticism of Russia's military here, not from Alexi or from the other Ukrainian refugees. We were given exclusive access to on Russian soil.

CHANCE (on camera): There are a lot of people here from Mariupol. And that's not surprising because we're just across the border from that city

here on Russian territory. We've been brought here to this big old gymnasium with its basketball courts which is filled with as you can see a

couple of hundred beds to cater for the hundreds of refugees that are still months after this conflict began pouring across the border into Russian


They're given food. They're given medical attention and despite the fact that it's very hot outside, you know, because it's the middle of the

summer. They're getting some rest from the ordeal that they've gone through.

It's also the first opportunity that we have to speak to these people about the sometimes horrific experiences that they've had back across the border

in the war zone. But don't expect them to describe that ordeal.


CHANCE (voice over): Human rights groups say Ukrainians in Russian occupied areas are rounded up and filtered before being bused to camps like these

are those suspected of posing a threat? Don't even make it through.

Saying the right thing here is a matter of survival, especially for those who've already lost loved ones like this refugee who asked not to be named.

CHANCE (on camera): You're not angry with the Russians?

CHANCE (voice over): These are provocative questions he answers. But now I'm here so please don't press me. I didn't see who killed my relatives he

says. As far as I'm concerned, they're just another casualty of this conflict he says.

But in Russia, the Freedom to Speak Act is a casualty too. Why we traveled away from Taganrog outside of the country to neighboring Estonia and the

Baltic Port of - boarding this giant passenger ferry turns temporary shelter for refugees from Ukraine.

CHANCE (on camera): Well, it's in these cramped cabins blow decks in these corridors in the bowels of this ship that now house more than 1700

Ukrainian refugees, many of whom have escaped directly from Russia and its filtration can.

And at least people can speak freely and without fear about their experience. Daniel told me how he bluffed his way through Russia's

filtration system by pretending he wanted to make Russia his permanent home?

CHANCE (voice over): They asked for instance, if I knew Vladimir Putin's birthday, because they said he is your president now. I told him I didn't.

But I promised to learn it. And they let me through he says.

Others like Stanislaw (ph) and - had a much tougher time transported from their homes like cattle they say, in freezing trucks to filtration centers.

She says she had to leave her elderly father behind after he was shot and injured by a Russian soldier.

It filled with hatred she tells me what she had to hide to pass through Russia. Now she's left with a desperate sadness. We really want to go home

she sobs I can't tell you how much, even though through the tears she admits that home may already be lost.


ANDERSON: Matthew Chance reporting, Matthew thanks you very much indeed! Well, Italy has had 69, 69 different governments since World War II and now

they need number 17. Mario Draghi says he's done being Italy's Prime Minister he formally tendered his resignation to the country's President

after several of his coalition partners refused to back him any longer.

CNN's Barbie Nadeau who's tracking this story for us from Rome what happened and why please explain is this so significant?

BARBIE NADEAU, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: It is significant and after last night's bloodbath when these three parties and these are significant parties, one

of them being the Anti-Establishment Five Star Movement.

Now back in 2018, they won the most votes. That's a lot at the beginning of the election cycle we're about to finish out here. The other two parties

are interesting too, that chose to abstain from the confidence vote that one is led by Matteo Salvini, the Former Northern League now called -


And Silvio Berlusconi who's they might ring a bell to some people his party too chose to abstain. The reason those parties on the right didn't want to

vote in the confidence vote didn't want to be part of Draghi's government is because they want new elections.

They're polling, very strong right now, that is to say, of Italy called snap elections, which looks like the only alternative now they could very

well win and come to power with Georgia Maloney, who's even farther right party is pulling even well than them.

So we're looking at a lot of strategy. You know, a lot of Italian politics are done in the backroom in the border in the parlor, as they say here, not

in the voter box. And, you know, it's been a long time since Italians had voted for someone who's actually representing them.

We're looking at elections, maybe in October, we're going to find out more about that when the when the President dissolves Parliament, and they call

a date, which could come later today. Or, who knows when that could come up?

We could see it as early as today. And if they vote this fall, that's really going to be a big change for Italy at a time when Mario Draghi was

bringing this country through a terrible economic crisis after the pandemic going forward. So there's a lot of uncertainty and instability yet to come

even though right now seems like the moment of true crisis which is --?


ANDERSON: Yes, absolutely. I know you make a very, very good point. Well, Europe of course, is bracing for a potential energy crisis later this year.

And Mr. Draghi addressed those concerns. He says Algeria has become the leading gas supplier to Italy and will increase its shipments in the coming

years. He met in Algiers with its President on Monday.

Well, all of this, of course, comes as Nord Stream I the crucial pipeline supplying Russian natural gas to Germany and beyond, begins pumping gas

again, Russian state energy giant Gazprom, which is the majority owner of that pipeline resumed shipments on Thursday, after what was a 10 day


And this would shut down was for maintenance. Clare Sebastian joins me here in the studio with more. The shutdown wasn't sinister. The worry was, of

course that when the pipeline was due to open again, that the Russians simply wouldn't pump gas they did. What's the significance of this


CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. So Becky, what they've done today takes us to back where we were before the scheduled maintenance started.

And that's at about 40 percent capacity for this, the Nord Stream Pipeline.

So that in itself when they cut the capacity of the pipeline back in June, by about 60 percent, was a big disruption in itself, it happened, because

of this equipment issue. Russia said that it couldn't, you know, conduct operations on Nord Stream I at full capacity because a turbine was stuck in

Canada due to sanctions.

We understand the turbine is now on its way back. So it remains to be seen if the Nord Stream will stay at 40 percent capacity? But some context here

because the Nord Stream in itself is extremely important. 155 billion cubic meters is what the EU imported from Russia last year, the Nord Stream

itself is almost 40 percent of that.

And if you look at it, in the context of everything that the EU imported from Russia last year, about 412 billion cubic meters, the Nord Stream

alone accounts for about 14 percent of that so a very significant pipeline at full capacity.

And there's even more context around this. This was not the only disruption that we're seeing, to Russian gas supplies, it came at a very fragile time

already. We've got the Yamal Pipeline I'll just point that out to you that are here pumping gas from Russia into Germany that was suspended in May.

We've also had shutdowns that Russia has itself initiated to various European countries about 12 are affected either fully or partially. That's

the likes of the Netherlands, Poland, Bulgaria, of course down here, all of those were cut off from Russian gas. So an extremely fragile situation and

we have a warning today, Becky from the German Vice Chancellor, who says that even at 40 percent capacity, which might not be enough to get them

through the winter? And of course, still hanging over the continent is the prospect that Russia might go further.

ANDERSON: Yes, absolutely and the prospect of gas rationing? Should things get really bad? And of course, this global energy shock has driven prices

up around the world and that the reason why the ECB the European Central Bank today took the decision to raise interest rates to curb inflation have

a listen.


CHIRSTINE LAGARDE, EUROPEAN CENTRAL BANK PRESIDENT: The Governing Council judged that it is appropriate to take a larger first step on its policy

rate normalization path than signaled at its previous meeting. This decision is based on our updated assessment of inflation risks, and the

reinforced support provided by the TPI for the effective transmission of monetary policy.


ANDERSON: The first rise in interest rates by the ECB in a decade the biggest rise in interest rates for 20 years. This was a Central Bank, which

is actually slower than others, to respond to the inflationary environment we're in at present, is this right thing to do? And, frankly, have they

been late to the party on this one?

SEBASTIAN: Yes. Well, I think a lot of people are criticizing them for having been late, because bear in mind, this is over this 11 years, the Fed

rate has raised rates 12 times the Bank of England has also raised rates.

The ECB essentially skipped out the pre-pandemic tightening cycle that other central banks saw. And then we've also don't forget being at negative

rates since 2014. So this half percent rise only takes them to zero.

And I think there's a sense certainly from experts that I speak to that, perhaps they were frontloading, and they actually use that word so that

they could do this now in case perhaps there were gas cut offs and things like that, going into winter.

But it's significant because one, the inflationary environment, this is a change in tune from just five weeks ago in June when they said they were

going to do a quarter percentage point but we obviously 8.6 percent is inflation in the Euro Zone.

That's a record high. We've seen the Euro weaken significantly. It's come up a little bit today, but not much historically, and that obviously

exacerbates inflation. And then the other reason that they felt they had the room today to do this was because they brought in this anti-

fragmentation tool, which allows them to sort of smooth out borrowing rates across the continent and reduces the risk of raising rates.


ANDERSON: An anti-fragmentation rule which we haven't got time to explain in detail, I'm sure you can find more on that at CNN businesses good that

you bring it up. Incredible to have you here walking us through the story which is about as important this energy crisis story as any that I have

covered in Europe, in 25 years of doing this job? Thank you very much indeed!

Ahead on this show the global heat emergency from Athens, Greece to Shanghai and China we're going to take a look at how extreme temperatures

are affecting hundreds of millions of people? The connections between the energy crisis, extreme heat and climate crisis, of course, are there for

all stay with us.


ANDERSON: Well, the global heat wave pressing down in Europe and the United States is now spreading eastward drought conditions make it even harder for

firefighters across Southern Europe to fight wildfires some of which have turned deadly.

Eastward searing temperatures are forecast for much of China into late August; the China Metrological Administration said that 31 cities have

issued their second highest orange alert warning. Elinda Labropoulou takes a look now, a closer look for you at the situation across Europe.


ELINDA LABROPOULOU, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Desperation on the outskirts of Athens. Police run house to house admonishing residents to

leave that fire is now under control, say Greek authorities. It took an enormous effort. More than 500 firefighters, 120 fire engines and 15 planes

were needed to tame the blaze, which was fueled by gale force winds.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Huge swaths of land were burning. The flames were igniting like crazy in seconds. One tree after the other was burning flames

that reached huge heights.

LABROPOULOU: A heat wave across the European continent continues to fuel drought conditions and with it the risk of fire. In Northern Portugal

authorities are concerned about high winds and temperatures which are once again on the rise will make it hard to battle this blaze near - Manuel

Lopez (ph) says the drought has been extreme climate change is to blame.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our grandchildren, my grandchildren and other people's their youth will suffer a lot if this doesn't stop.

LABROPOULOU (voice over): Dry conditions mean many Portuguese reservoirs are running low. Fast makes fighting the fires even more difficult. Lack of

rainfall is also causing problems in Germany with River Rhine is running dangerously low threatening an important shipping route for grain, minerals

and other industrial products.


LABROPOULOU (voice over): Tuscany's iconic rolling hills too are now threatened by fire. The government has put residents in 14 of the country's

cities, including Rome, Milan and Florence on the highest heat wave alert.

In France, the smoking heat has been so intense that Pearl Jam had to cancel a concert after Eddie throat was damaged while performing in Paris.

President Emmanuel Macron visited one of the worst affected regions in the southwest. Firefighters here have been battling a blaze for more than a


EMMANUEL MACRON, FRENCH PRESIDENT: Several European countries and countries that were not experiencing great fires are living through an acceleration

of the direct consequences of climate change. So all of this will require us to make structural decisions in the coming months or in coming years

LABROPOULOU (voice over): Temperatures have mercifully subsided for fighters on board though continue to rage with the heat of August still

ominous in the future Elinda Labropoulou, of CNN Greece.


ANDERSON: Well after the break, Cubans are waiting in line for days to get diesel some even sleeping in their cars. The reason for the island nation's

fuel crisis is coming up.


ANDERSON: Well, earlier this hour, we talked about the energy shortage affecting Europe. But this of course is a global issue and it is also

playing out in for example, Cuba especially at the pump people there is waiting in line for days to get diesel at gas stations as the island nation

struggles with a fuel shortage. Patrick Oppmann connecting us from the Cuban Capital of Havana with the very latest what are you finding here?

What is the situation?

PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPODENT: Well Becky, we've all had the experience where you go to fill up your car and it takes longer than you'd like them.

The line doesn't seem to move at all. That's certainly nothing new here in Cuba. But now when Cubans particularly those who need diesel to drive

around here, go to the pump. It doesn't take hours, it takes days.


OPPMANN (voice over): The line for diesel in Havana seems to go on forever, and barely moves. It takes days now for these drivers to fill up their

tanks. Yes, you heard that right. People wait here for days to get fuel. Don't even think about leaving the line not even for a second.

We can't go he says if you leave someone else takes your spot. And you have to go back to the beginning and start all over again. So drivers catch some

in their cars. Brush their teeth by the side of the road, kill the hours playing dominoes. Hoping the next increasingly scarce shipping fuel comes


OPPMANN (on camera): But people were at the front of this very long line say they've been waiting for eight days to fill up their trucks and their

cars with diesel. They'll sleep in their trucks have their family bring them food.

What they didn't want to do is talk to us on camera they say that they complain to publicly they might lose their place in line. Battered by the

pandemic U.S. sanctions and a global supply chain disrupted by the war in Ukraine Cuba is confronting a worsening energy crisis.


OPPMANN (voice over): Large parts of the communist run Island are being hit by longer and longer power outages. Keeping the lights on requires more

fuel than the Cuban government has on hand.

The power plants have consumed more of the small amount of fuel that we have, he says fundamentally diesel, which costs us a lot of work to get. It

means that our generation of energy is affected as our important economic activities. Analysts say the whole grid is in danger of collapsing.

JORGE PINON, LATIN AMERICA AND CARIBBEAN ENERGY PROGRAM: You have a number of cumulative effects that are taking place that cannot be solved with band

aids. We're talking about major structural investments in the billions of dollars, that's going to take a number of years to solve this problem.

OPPMANN (voice over): Blackouts in July 2021 sparked the largest anti- government protests in decades. Already this summer outages have caused people to take to the streets, banging pots and pans to demand the power be

restored. But with the government warning that the blackouts and fuel shortages will continue. Cubans can expect a long, hot, intense summer

ahead of them.


OPPMANN: And Becky in recent days, Cuba has received some shipments of oil including one apparently from Russia, but those appear to be destined to

the electric grid keeping the lights on here which is a situation as well that is very, very precarious.

We've not seen any change at the pump so people tell us where they go. They wait a week or so to fill up their car with diesel or their truck. And then

you know very soon they're back in that line having to do it all over again Becky.

ANDERSON: Thank you. That's a story out of Havana, Cuba. And that is it for the show this evening. Thank you wherever you are watching have a very good

day. Good evening.