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Connect the World

CNN Speaks to European Energy Commissioner; European Natural Gas Prices Rise as Russia Cuts Supply; Ukraine Trying to Claw Back Land in South, Retake Kherson; Biden Meets with Family of Slain Journalist Abu Akleh; CNN: Officials Try to Convince Pelosi of Taiwan Trip Risks; President Biden Speaks in Rose Garden after Negative COVID Test. Aired 11a- 12p ET

Aired July 27, 2022 - 11:00   ET




BECKY ANDERSON, CNN HOST, CONNECT THE WORLD: This hour my interview with Europe's Energy Commissioner, a day after the block announced a crucial

deal to Russian its gas use.

Will it be enough to combat Russia's supply cut? I'll put that question and more to the commissioner just ahead. First up, Ukraine is claiming a step

forward in its southern counter offensive.

Its forces hit this bridge in Russian controlled Kherson leaving as you can see gaping holes; the goal is to stop this Russian troops and equipment

moving in from Crimea.

Meantime, Russia lashed out again at Ukraine's northern city of Kharkiv, missiles struck this industrial area. Ukraine is slowly trying to win back

territory around Kherson that it lost early in the war.

Russia meantime continues to turn up the heat in the east. CNN's Jason Carroll is following developments on the battlefield for you.


JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): These images the Ukrainian says are their strategy at work. Ukrainian long range rockets struck a

bridge in Kherson in the Russian occupied southern part of the country Tuesday night, targeting Russia's supply lines.

By day the damage done all to clear the Antonovsky Bridge not destroyed still crossable. But the Ukrainian government says it's damaged enough to

prevent Russians from using it to send in more heavy armor and other reinforcements.

The Russians admit the bridge is closed off but downplayed the bombing. Local pro-Russian officials saying the attack will ultimately have no

effect on the outcome of the war.

This as Ukrainian authorities says Russians are sending additional troops to the south. Analysts say Russia is preparing for Ukrainian counter

offensive that is slowly gathering strength in that part of the country.

But in the eastern Donetsk region, it's the Russians on the front foot, these scenes from the town of Bakhmut under relentless shelling by Russian

forces. One man recorded the aftermath of strikes on nearby Tourettes and surveyed the damage.

He says missile attack everything is completely destroyed. The state of emergency service in Donetsk says as a result of the Russian shelling at

least one person was killed at a nearby hotel.

Russian forces are trying to push further into the Donetsk region. They've captured a power station that had become a battlefield for weeks. But amid

stiff Ukrainian resistance, they are making very slow progress. Jason Carroll CNN Kyiv, Ukraine.


ANDERSON: Well, meantime Moscow being accused of weaponizing energy this you will know if you're a regular guest of this show, Russia and Gazprom

now cutting the flow of natural gas to Europe via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline down to 20 percent.

Russia says this is because the pipeline needs servicing needs repairs. Europe, though says this is in retaliation for sanctions imposed after the

Kremlin invaded Ukraine.

Moscow's move comes one day after the EU announced it is rationing its gas use and now Germany Europe's powerhouse economy is suddenly scrambling to

store enough fuel for winter. Well, the European Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson calls the latest reduction "a politically motivated step".

She joins me now live from Brussels and that reduction, politically motivated you say is the reduction in net gas supply coming through the

Nord Stream 1 pipeline. The Russians, of course say that they have to service that pipeline. Is the EU's 15 percent gas ration enough to combat

Russia's supply cuts going forward? Are you convinced that Russia sorry that Europe is doing the right thing at this point?

KADRI SIMSON, EUROPEAN ENERGY COMMISSIONER: Well, indeed, I do believe that yesterday's agreement, isn't it --is an important step. And it will take us

safely through this winter. Even if Kremlin and Gazprom decide to - delivers to you. Right now they are well cutting their supplies, but there

is a lot of free potential via Ukraine route for example.

So yesterday our ministers agreed that as a preemptive step, we will reduce gas consumption by 15 percent starting from August and ending in March. And

so we will act immediately and we will act together which means that we will reduce the impact of any further cuts.


SIMSON: And of course, we will be better coordinated. So we can reduce future gap between supply and demand. And we can by doing that continue

that feeling of underground gas storage.

ANDERSON: Well, let me just stop you there because I do want to ask, you've said this will get Europe safely through the winter. I have to press you on

this will it, because I want to bring up a graphic of European gas prices for our viewers if you can see, they've been on the rise as Europe

struggles to fill storage sites ahead of the winter.

And earlier today, gas prices rose 12 percent. Let's bring up the price now so that our viewers can see that. Given all of that reaching a target of at

least 80 percent gas Storage just doesn't seem realistic at this stage.

So I put it to you again, you know, does what you have announced this week, adequately set Europe up for the winter.

SIMSON: Well, indeed, a failing season is still taking place until the beginning of heating season that means beginning of November. And if we

compare the storage levels that you have right now, and then they are growing at this very moment, underground gas storage level is 67 percent.

And it has been growing even despite the annual maintenance of Nordstrom 1. But of course, based on our simulation, we do know what will be the gap

between the alternative suppliers and our consumption if we will lose totally Russian gas flows. But there are some elements that we don't - not

know though. So, this is not exact science, because the amount of savings we need will also depend on the winter weather. But of course, storage

level plays its role and global LNG demand also, because we have been able to attack record high LNG deliveries so far.

And if we will keep this space then we will be ready to go through this winter based on our storage levels and alternative lows.

ANDERSON: OK, that is the hope this 15 percent cutting consumption is voluntary at the moment. But you have said that it may become mandatory in

times of crisis. How confident are you that everyone all 27 member states will agree?

I know that there are some exemptions and there are some caveats in this, but you need the block to be unified on this. Have you got agreement from

all countries that if you have to mandate this rationing effectively that everybody will agree?

SIMSON: Well, indeed yes, this proposal is our agreement to avoid the worst case scenario when there is an emergency and need for curtailment. So right

now, it is up to the member states how exactly they will achieve the savings.

So right now, they can also guide a well private households to the activities to save either by heating or well, but or cooling the rooms but

if this is not enough, or the situation worsens, so we can declare also the U alert level and then this will turn that 15 targeting payment --.


SIMSON: And I do believe that this is -

ANDERSON: Let me stop you there because Hungary was the only EU member state to vote against what the FM calls an unfounded unenforceable gas

rationing deal. What's your response to that?

SIMSON: Well, first of all, in the current stage, they aim to cut gas consumption by 50 percent applies equally to everyone. Even the ones who

can ask at later stage derogation. And Hungary as a landlocked country, it depends on their neighbor's solidarity, even though to get right now the

gas from Russia they need neighbors who are offering them transit routes.

And we also agreed that at this moment when we are facing full disruption, then neighbors will provide alternative routes. But to ask for that you

have to do also your part.

And that means that every member state is right now at this stage that they are preparing their plans, how they can save gas. And that means also that

they will promote fuel switch, but you can replace gas with renewable should do, you have to so, but to other alternative fuels come handy too

for the - for this winter.


ANDERSON: Frankly, there aren't enough renewables around at the moment to ensure that that is something that can be relied on, this was a compromise

this deal. And the compromise reflects how European countries are in very different positions, when it comes to their reliance on gas from Russia, a

one size fits all mandate just isn't going to work. Is it?

And that is sort of assumed within this compromised deal. Are you confident that there's solidarity that you've just been speaking to, will hold on

this one?

SIMSON: Yes, indeed, and - actually proposed one size fits all because 15 percent is volume wise very individual. And it is calculated against this

specific member states five year annual consumption.

So if and when we will move to the alert level, then this target becomes mandatory. And then there are indeed some exemptions and derogations,

because member states do have different circumstances.

And we propose that 15 percent is achievable, despite how big as consumption you do have. But many pointed out yesterday that it doesn't

take into account that different circumstances.

So yesterday, we added some flexibility to this framework to make sure the circumstances are reflected. But even if all of those exemptions

interrogations would be used, which is not likely, we would be able to cut the consumption enough to get safely through an average winter.

ANDERSON: Germany, of course, is the country pretty most affected by this crisis of supply from Russia. The Head of the German Utility RWE said in an

interview last month. And I quote here, "The real fear I have is that European solidarity will come under significant stress if we don't sorted

out before the situation happens. I'm not so much concerned that we cannot find agreement, but it is better to discuss emergency proceedings when you

still have time and not when the house is on fire". Is this Kadri Simson, European response really sufficient at this point?

SIMSON: What we are facing is not a problem for one European country, but for as a whole, and we must respond to these challenges together.

Yesterday's agreement was exactly on this guided by the spirit.

And yesterday's agreement is based on solidarity everyone has to contribute. And the fact that there is some flexibility to take into

account doesn't change the fundamental principle.

So if there is a serious or full disruption, there will be negative impact on all countries, as we are part of one single market, and that impact will

be much smaller if we act right now and act together and - understanding that among ministers.

ANDERSON: Yes, and this is when the stress within this bloc of nations could really be sort of challenged, right? One analyst pointing out that,

"the free movement of energy is one of the key pillars of the EU", adding in a crisis, the potential for the system to come under severe political

strain is very real with countries trying to prioritize their own citizens first. With respect, that's going to be a real issue, isn't it?

SIMSON: Well, we should not leave any country to face a gas shortage alone and we have not done so. So Poland, who was among first countries that was

cut off by Russia, receives now gas via alternative flow?

The same goes with Bulgaria, who receives alternative gas supplies with the help of its neighbors. So this is a principle that works already, because

we do have already several member states who were very dependent on Russian gas and who are preparing themselves for next winter with the help of the


ANDERSON: Finally, just out of curiosity, the appeal is and it's voluntary at present, reducing consumption by 15 percent across the block. How is the

commission itself suggesting that it will reduce its own consumption by 15 percent? Is there a plan?

SIMSON: Well, indeed, you can now see that the meeting rooms where we are well, face to face meetings are not as cool as they might have been several

years ago. So there are things that all of us can do and we want to be an example in this regard.


ANDERSON: Kadri Simson, European Energy Commissioner. It's a difficult time, and we really appreciate your time, that agreement was put together

extremely quickly with caveats of compromise deal, but let's hope it's sufficient as Europe heads towards the winter in what is this energy


Thank you. Well still ahead on "Connect the World" grain exports from Ukraine, a big step closer to happening. What officials in Turkey are

saying about today's opening of the Joint Center to oversee the implementation of these maritime exports and CNN talks to Ukrainians in the

country's south training for a counter offensive to reclaim lost territory. Why they say they are bracing for a long, slow fight, that coming up after



ANDERSON: Ukraine's Navy says preparations are underway at three Ukrainian ports to resume grain exports. That news coming as Turkey officially opened

a Joint Coordination Center in Istanbul to oversee the export; it will be staffed by representatives from Turkey, Russia, Ukraine and United Nations.

That center will monitor departures from the ports and check incoming ships for weapons. Turkey's defense minister talked about what comes next.


HULUSI AKAR, TURKISH DEFENSE MINISTER: In line with the current conditions, it has become necessary to establish a C corridor for the safe delivery of

more than 25 million tons of grain waiting in Ukrainian ports to countries in need in a short period of time.


ANDERSON: Well, CNN's Nada Bashir connecting us from Istanbul, this center open to quite some fanfare early on and perhaps understandably so. What are

they telling you there about how this deal this plan will work?

NADA BASHIR, CNN REPORTER: Well look Becky, the real focus there for the Turkish defense minister was on that this was this is meant to be for

humanitarian purpose. That is the focus here after weeks and weeks of negotiations at each and every meeting between Ukrainian officials and

Russian officials with the Turkish government.

They have been focusing on trying to alleviate the pressures of the global food crisis to get that grain out of Ukraine as soon as possible. And that

really continues to be the focus.

And as you mentioned there, there was a significant degree of fanfare around the opening of this Joint Coordination Center. We saw delegations

from Russia and Ukraine sitting across the table from one another as the defense minister officially open this JCC, the Joint Coordination Center,

which is being held at the Defense University here in Istanbul.


BASHIR: And this center is going to be charged with the responsibility of overseeing the transfer of grain from Ukraine southern Black sea ports

through the Black Sea and through the Turkish streets safely through corridors to be established and identified by the Ukrainian Armed Forces.

Now, as we understand it, those that identification process is already underway, the Ukrainian side is already preparing for grain exports to

leave the country. And this will be a major challenge for the Turkish government, because of course; we did see that Russian attack on the port

of Odessa just a day after the deal was first signed in Istanbul on Friday.

So there are significant concerns around whether or not this actual agreement is viable in practical terms. In fact, we spoke to the Head of

the UN's delegation to the Joint Coordination Center today we asked him whether or not the UN would be receiving further guarantees from the

Russian Federation.

He remains hopeful that Russia and Ukraine will both remain fully committed to the terms of this agreement. Take a listen.


BASHIR (on camera): How is the UN going to guarantee that Russia commits fully to the terms of this agreement?

FREDERICK KENNEY, INTERIM COORDINATOR FOR THE U.N. TO JOINT COORDINATION CENTER: Well, I can say that all parties here have expressed their

commitment to making this initiative reality and getting it operational. I think that's demonstrated by the fact that all parties had a very senior

person arrived here on extremely short notice.

BASHIR (on camera): Are you confident that Russia will commit given that we've already seen an attack?

KENNEY: I'm confident that we will, this will be a successful mission here. We're going to work very hard to make sure that--

BASHIR (on camera): How was the United Nations going to hold these parties to account in particular the Russian Federation?

KENNEY: I don't think I want to go into that right now. But right now, we're focused on getting this up and running and having it work

successfully and safely.


BASHIR: Now Becky I have to underscore that this agreement, this deal that we've seen brokered by Turkey, the United Nations has been a real point of

pride for the Turkish Government.

And, of course, for President Erdogan, when in response to that attack, he described the incident as upsetting and cold on both Ukraine and Russia to

remain committed that this was an integral agreement to keep in place.

We've already heard from the U.S. side of things we've heard from the UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, both suggesting that there may need to be an

alternative route and alternative option away from coming to agreements with Russia to secure grain exports.

If this deal doesn't succeed at this stage, the Turkish Government remains confident that it will succeed the UN. Also they're confident that this

will prove to be a viable agreement we are going to see President Erdogan next week for meeting with President Putin in Sochi. They're set to discuss

further cooperation on the military front there too, Becky.

ANDERSON: Nada is in Istanbul. Thank you. Well, this grain exports deal moving ahead then despite multiple Russian attacks this weekend and around

Ukraine southern ports.

And Ukraine says Russia is now trying to bolster its southern flank. Video posted online and geo located by CNN shows Russian heavy military equipment

on the move near Kherson.

Ukraine is mounting a counter offensive there to reclaim lost territory. Ivan Watson talked to some Ukrainian soldiers poised for the fight.


IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Scenes from Ukraine southern front during the first months of the war. Footage

shared exclusively with CNN shows Ukrainian Senior Lieutenant Andrii Pidlisnyl hiding in shell craters flying a drone to call in artillery

strikes on Russian positions.

But the team of spotters also narrowly escapes long range fire from the Russian military. Months after filming these videos Pidlisnyl is still

fighting on the southern front.

WATSON (on camera): Where the Russians in this village before?


WATSON (voice over): The Ukrainian military is fighting to claw back territory seized by what this commander describes as well prepared


PIDLISNYI: It's very slow, the process, to take back all our territories. But step by step and with the help of Western guns, vehicles and so on

artillery systems, we do that.

WATSON (voice over): This month my team and I traveled the length of the southern front from the critical port of Odessa to the edge of the Donbas

region. I spoke to people willing to risk their lives against the Russian war machine.

In the city of Kryvyi Rih, Ukrainian forces storm a building; it's actually a training exercise to prepare these men for one of the most dangerous

forms of Modern Warfare urban combat.


WATSON (voice over): The commander here was gravely wounded pushing Russian backed separatists out of cities in the eastern Donbas region in 2014. We

have a duty to liberate our territories, he says, this is our land and we will not give it to anyone.

That confident shared by a regiment of frontline troops in eastern Ukraine. They show off recently arrived British made Land rovers and this armored

personnel carrier.

WATSON (on camera): I just noticed something. Take a look over here at this tire. Made in Russia, this was Russian.

VILNYI, AZOV KYIV REGIMENT: It was the Russian car. But our soldiers fight him and take this car.--

WATSON (on camera): You captured.

WATSON (voice over): But the - is taking a dreadful tour here, day and night Russian rockets S300 surface to air missiles repurposed to strike

ground targets. Hound the frontline city of Mykolaiv and more appear to be on the way.

Ukrainian resistance groups shared this exclusive footage with CNN taken just days ago showing the arrival of a train full of missiles in the

occupied southern Kherson region, later confirmed by these satellite images provided to CNN by Maxar.

But with the help of U.S. long range rockets known as HIMARS, Ukraine has been targeting Russian ammunition depots. Senior Lieutenant Pidlisnyi says

he noticed a difference on the front lines.

PIDLISNYI: We had about two or three weeks when they haven't enough ammunition to fight us.

WATSON (voice over): Still, he predicts it will take a long time for Ukraine to win the war in the South.

PIDLISNYI: I'm not sure that we will win until the end of this year, maybe to the end of next year.

WATSON (voice over): Before I go, Pidlisnyi shows me captured Russian passports and driver's licenses.

WATSON (on camera): When did you capture these?

PIDLISNYI: About some weeks ago.

WATSON (voice over): Russian men ranging from 22 to 41 years old who Pidlisnyi speculates are now dead.

WATSON (on camera): They look like you.

PIDLISNYI: Yes, they look like me.

WATSON (on camera): They have similar names.

PIDLISNYI: Yes. But they're our enemies; I'm standing in my territory. And they came to me to capture our territory to kill me to kill maybe my


WATSON (voice over): This is what Ukrainians are fighting for. Ivan Watson, CNN on the southern front in Ukraine.


ANDERSON: You're watching "Connect the World". I'm Becky Anderson. Coming up, Brittney Griner for the first time is speaking for herself in a Moscow

court. What she had to say about how she was detained and the view from Washington is up next.



ANDERSON: You're looking at live pictures of the White House Rose Garden where we have learned that the U.S. president plans to speak any minute now

Joe Biden ending his isolation after testing negative for COVID 19.

Today, White House official says Mr. Biden will discuss the progress the U.S. has made against COVID. We'll bring you his comments as soon as they

get underway. Meantime, a big day for American basketball stars Brittney Griner.

He and her fight for freedom in Russia. Griner took the stand for the first time since her drugs smuggling trial began in July. It was July the first,

sharing in detail how she says she was treated by Russian authorities when she was first detained. Griner says she was taken into a room at the


Her bags were searched and she was pressured to sign documents. She says she didn't understand all with very little explanation. She also says no

rights were read to her and she did not have a lawyer present.

Well, Griner has pleaded guilty hoping for leniency, the U.S. considers this a wrongful detention. Let's get the view from the State Department in

Washington now. Kylie Atwood is on the story. And what have you got Kylie?

KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN U.S. SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes, well, it was really interesting to hear from Brittney Griner in this hearing today. One thing

that she said, as you were saying is that she wasn't read any rights at the airport, when she was asked to open her bags by the airport authorities.

She also talked about signing documents at the airport. She didn't know what was in them. She talked about having to use Google Translate to

communicate with the people at the airport during that time.

And we also learned a bit more about her injuries that led her to even have medical cannabis in the first place. She was very clear in saying she has

had a number of ailments from her athletic career talking about her ankles, and her knees even being in a wheelchair for a period of time.

And that is the reason that she had been using medical cannabis. But she was also very clear in stating as she has before, in this ongoing trial

that she had no intention to actually break the law in Russia.

She actually had this cannabis in her bag she believes because she was packing up in a hurry. She didn't recall putting it into her bag. So just a

little bit more meat on the bone here with regard to how she is describing her detention and her intention when she came to play basketball in Russia.

ANDERSON: Kylie how is she and what are U.S. authorities doing to support her and push for her release at this point?

ATWOOD: Yes, well, the State Department, the Biden Administration continues to say they're working aggressively to bring Brittney Griner home. We have

heard that term from them time and time again.

They don't get into the details of the behind the scenes negotiations that are ongoing. But we did hear yesterday from the State Department

spokesperson Ned Price that there is engagement between the U.S. and Russia over Brittney Griner over Paul Whelan who is another American wrongfully

detained in Russia to try and get them home.

Now, I asked the State Department spokesperson to characterize those engagements if the U.S. is satisfied with those engagements. And he

wouldn't go down that path because they really try and preserve some secrecy around these ongoing conversations.

But it is a question and one that we are looking at closely because when you look at the situations of these Americans wrongfully detained U.S.

officials are very clear eyed about saying that they don't believe that this issue is going to be resolved through the Russian judicial system.

They don't think that Brittney Griner is going to be led off. There's a 99 percent conviction rate in Russia. So the onus is really on these quiet

diplomatic conversations to try and discover some sort of deal that both sides agree to whether it's a prisoner swap or something else to get Griner

and Paul Whelan home.

ANDERSON: Always good to have you. Kylie, thank you. Let's get you up to speed on some of the other stories that are on our radar right now. And

U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken met with family members of slain Palestinian American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh.

He promised the U.S. would and I quote here "pursue accountability for her death". They are pushing for a full investigation. Abu Akleh was fatally

shot while covering an Israeli raid in the West Bank in May.


ANDERSON: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is visiting Greece and France this week in Athens; he signed deals on energy and the joint

construction of a new underwater data cable.

Next, the Crown Prince heads to France this is his first trip to a European Union country since his widely condemned killing of Saudi journalist Jamal

Khashoggi. The British U.S. Iranian citizen has been released from an Iranian jail again, but remains under house arrest.

Morad Tahbaz was initially released from prison back in March along with two other U.S. sorry UK Iranian citizens who were allowed to return to

England. But Tahbaz was sent back to prison two days later.

He was arrested in 2018 for working with an environmental group accused by Iran's government of espionage. Some of our regional stories you can catch

up on the latest news from the Middle East and CNN's.

Meanwhile, in the Middle East newsletter and for those who aren't regular viewers of this show, the reason we are pointing this out is that this is a

show that's normally broadcast from our programming hub in the Middle East, out of Abu Dhabi.

The looming resumption of Ukrainian grain exports, among the stories featured in that newsletter and why for some countries in the region, this

cannot come too soon, newsletter on your computer or of course via the CNN app on your smartphone, right.

We are waiting to hear from the U.S. president who is scheduled to speak from the Rose Garden momentarily. We've learned the U.S. president plans to

speak any minute now. He's ending his isolation after testing negative for COVID 19.

Today White House official says Mr. Biden will discuss the progress that the U.S. has made against COVID. And we will bring you his comments of

course, just as soon as he gets underway.

While he will also speak we were told by phone at least on Thursday with the Chinese President Xi Jinping. The call comes amid heightened tensions

between the two superpowers not least over the issue of Taiwan.

Now that island conducting its annual military exercises this week largely focused on showcasing its ability to fend off a potential invasion by

Mainland China. Taiwan says this week's war games include lessons it has learned from studying Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Well, CNN has learned that U.S. officials are trying to convince U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi not to visit Taiwan at this point and Pelosi is

considering stopping there during her Asia visit next month. Here is CNN's Selina Wang on why a visit by Pelosi would anger China so much.


SELINA WANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Fire and fury from Beijing in response to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's potential visit to Taiwan, China

threatening to take resolute and powerful measures. A U.S. official told CNN China could impose a no fly zone around Taiwan.

A prominent hawkish voice in China said Beijing's reaction would involve a shocking military response, even suggesting that PLA military aircraft will

accompany Pelosi's plane to enter the island making a historic crossing of the island by military aircraft from the mainland. But the Chinese

government hasn't announced details about how it could retaliate.

DREW THOMPSON, SCHOLAR, NATIONAL UNIVERSITY OF SINGAPORE: Beijing believes that this uncertainty will lead to deterrence and that Washington and

Taipei will effectively talk themselves out of this, but I don't think Beijing really wants to risk the military conflict.

WANG (voice over): China sees the self-ruled island as a breakaway province that must be reunified with the mainland, even by force if necessary. There

have been recent U.S. congressional visits, but if Pelosi goes to Taiwan, she would be the highest ranking U.S. official to travel there, since then

House Speaker Newt Gingrich in 1997.

WANG (on camera): This potential visit comes at an extremely sensitive time. China's military is celebrating its founding anniversary on August 1,

and we're just months away from a key political meeting when Xi Jinping is expected to seek an unprecedented third term.

From Beijing's perspective, a potential visit by Pelosi to Taiwan would be a reckless act that provokes Beijing at a time it's supposed to be

projecting strength control and stability.

THOMPSON: I think military action on China's part in response to a Pelosi visit is very risky for Xi Jinping.

WANG (voice over): Officially Washington and most governments around the world only acknowledge Beijing as the legal government to China, yet

unofficial ties between Washington and Taipei have been growing closer. And the U.S. continues to sell weapons to the island all of that infuriates



WANG (voice over): In response, last year, Beijing flew a record number of warplanes into airspace near Taiwan. For decades, the U.S. has been

purposefully vague about whether it would defend the island should the Chinese invade.


WANG (voice over): Biden has said several times that the U.S. would intervene militarily if China were to attack Taiwan.

BIDEN: Yes, we have a commitment to do that.

WANG (voice over): Only to have the White House walk back those remarks each time. But as China's military might grows, more are calling for the

Biden Administration to end this so called strategic ambiguity.

It's impossible to overstate how important Taiwan is to the Communist Party and its legitimacy. Beijing is against any move that appears to acknowledge

Taiwan as an independent country, or makes the U.S. relationship more formal.

And a visit from one of America's most powerful politicians does just that. Selina Wang, CNN, Beijing.


ANDERSON: Well, up next the birth of a pandemic, I'm going to speak with one of the authors of a new study that is tracked where the very first

cases of COVID-19 came from, that is after this.


BIDEN: Thought I heard a rumbling my staff saying oh he's back. Thanks for sticking around. Hello, everyone. I've just tested negative for COVID-19

after isolating for five days.

Thankfully, I'm not able to return to work in person. But I want to thank you all for your well wishes your prayers over this past week and the calls

I've gotten. I've also want to thank the medical team here at the White House for the incredible care they gave me fortunately, God thankfully

thank god willing there was my symptoms were mild.

My recovery was quick and I'm feeling great. The entire time I was in isolation, I was able to work to carry out the duties of the office and

without any interruption. It's a real statement on where we are in the fight against COVID 19.

Right now, we're facing a new variant the BA.5 variant, a very transmissible version of Omicron variant we saw here this past winter.

In fact, this new variant and infected me is getting a lot of people infected all around the world not just here in the United States. We should

take precautions to try to slow the spread of this virus.

Biden Administration has made billions of dollars in funding available to improve ventilation in our schools and our public buildings. We've made

test widely available, so you can take one before attending a large indoor gatherings or visiting with high risk individuals, we've made quality masks

available for free.


BIDEN: So you should consider wearing a mask when you're in a crowded indoor public place. These precautions add an extra layer of protection for

you and for those around you.

But the reality is that BA.5 means many of us are still going to get COVID even if we take the precautions. That doesn't mean we're doing anything

wrong. Unfortunately, this COVID is still with us, as it has been for two and a half years. But our fight against COVID is making a huge difference.

What's different now is our ability to protect ourselves from serious illness due to COVID. In fact, that's radically different today than it was

just a year ago. COVID isn't gone.

But even with cases climbing in this country, COVID deaths are down nearly 90 percent and when I took office, that's 90 percent difference for today.

And when I took office, that's what's new.

That's what's new in COVID response different from where we were just a year ago. Even if COVID even if you get COVID, you can avoid winding up

with a severe case, you can now prevent most COVID deaths.

And that's because three free tools by administration has invested in and distributed this past year, booster shots, at home test, easy to use

effective treatments. We've got through COVID with no fear I got through with no fear, a very mild discomfort because of these essentials,

lifesaving tools.

And guess what I want to remind everybody, they are free. They are convenient, and they're safe and they work. First booster shots, they

weren't available year ago. They are now everywhere.

Every person aged five and over should get a booster shot. If you're over 50 years old, you should get two booster shots. I did and if you have your

boosters, one if you're under 50. Two, if you're over 50, your odds of getting severely ill from COVID are very, very low.

Even all Americans are very unlikely to get severe COVID if they have to booster shots. Most COVID deaths are among those who are not up to date on

their shots, their COVID vaccinations.

So if you're over 50, and you haven't gotten a booster shot this year, go get one right away, goes to Type in your zip code and find a

place where you get a booster shot for free, usually at a site that's less than five miles from your home. Second, at home test a year ago at home

tests were rare and expensive.

Now, everyone in America can get them for free, shipped to their door, shipped to their door, there's no excuse. Again, go to and order

at home tests for free testing to find out if your symptoms mean you have COVID is critical and getting treatment quickly.

Third, treatments, if you test positive, you have a new powerful we have a new powerful treatment called Paxlovid. It wasn't available a year ago.

It's now it's a pill. And now you can take these pills at home.

You can get them for free at tens of thousands of local drugstores around the country. The Food and Drug Administration the FDA even put in a special

rule so many pharmacists can prescribe these, this particular drug.

So you don't even have to go to the doctor to get a prescription. Millions of Americans have used Paxlovid, excuse me, Paxlovid.

I tell you what, I think it's I used it. Now, Paxlovid including me, this life saving drug reduces risk of hospitalization and death from COVID-19 by

about 90 percent. Again, it's free, safe and easy to take.

And we move quickly to make it widely available including the thousands of convenient test to treat sites where you can get tested. And if you need

it, Paxlovid is ready right then and there when you make your visit.

Again, go to to find where test and treat sites are there near you. Here's the bottom line. When my predecessor got COVID, he had to get

helicopter to Walter Reed Medical Center. He was severely ill, thankfully he recovered. When I got COVID, I work from upstairs of the White House and

the office is upstairs.


BIDEN: And for the five day period, the difference is vaccinations, of course, but also three new tools free to all and widely available. You

don't need to be president to get these tools used for your defense.

In fact, the same booster shots, the same at home test, the same treatment that I got is available to you. My administration has made sure that all

Americans across the country, more walks of life, have free access to those tools.

COVID was killing thousands of Americans a day when I got here. That isn't the case anymore. You can live without fear. By doing what I did get

boosted, get tested and get treatment. The same time my administration remains vigilant.

Right now we have the tools that keep you from getting severely ill, or dying from COVID. But we're not stopping there. Earlier this week, we had a

conference at the White House for about the next generation of vaccines, with a goal of keeping people from getting sick in the first place getting

COVID at all even getting it, let me close with this.

Over the past 18 months, my administration has left no stone unturned, and our fight against this pandemic, none. We brought down best by nearly 90

percent since I took office, because of the help of all the people in this Rose Garden. Business and schools responded. Grandparents are hugging their

kids and grandkids again, weddings, birthday celebrations are happening in person again.

So let's keep emerging from one of the darkest moments in our history, with hope and light for what can come get vaccinated if you haven't gotten

already. And now get boosted.

Order your free test. If you get sick, and test positive seek treatment, take advantage of these lifesaving tools. We have more of these tools than

we ever had before.

And my friends in Congress, let's keep investing in these tools, vaccinations, treatments, tests, and more. So we get help making them

available to Americans, the American people on a permanent basis. Let's get moving.

And I say permanent basis as long as they are needed. Let's keep moving forward safely. God bless you all. And now I get to go back to the Oval

Office. Thank you all very much.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: And definitely not taking questions as he walked back into the Oval Office. Kaitlan Collins is standing by for us who were

in the Rose Garden for this. The President says he's feeling great says he got through it without any fear, Kaitlan?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, the president used this appearance his first one since last Thursday, of course, when he

tested positive for COVID 19 as he was on his way to a full day of events.

In Pennsylvania that day to tell to the treatments that he's gotten the vaccines, the booster shots Paxlovid saying that he does believe that is

what helped him have a mild case.

And he even invoked his predecessor's case with COVID-19 of course, Kate just a few steps away. That was when President Trump tested positive. And

we saw him make the trip from the residence of the White House to a Marine One, so he could go to Walter Reed Hospital where he was there for several


And so he talked about the difference in that, the difference in the treatments and why he had such a different experience than his predecessor

did. And so he was advocating for that pushing for that telling people if they are over 50 years old, they need to go and get a booster.

Amid questions about whether or not it will soon be authorized for those under 50 to also get a second booster shot case. So using his own illness,

his own diagnosis to push that message for COVID 19, he did not answer your questions.

We should note that there are many of them; especially this week as it's really become this moment of truth for the White House on the economy with

the numbers expected today a potential interest rate hike from the Federal Reserve. The second quarter GDP numbers coming out tomorrow. He said he's

going back to work. Obviously all of those things are going to be at the top of his to do list. Kate.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. It's great to see Kaitlan, thank you so much for that. We'll be right back.



LYNDA KINKADE, CNN HOST, ONE WORLD: Hello, I'm Lynda Kinkade live at CNN's world headquarters in Atlanta and this is "One World". More than five

months after Russia invaded Ukraine a counter offensive appears to be gaining momentum in the South.

Ukrainian forces have struck a key bridge in Kherson overnight shutting down a critical Russian supply route linking the occupied region to Crimea.

Kyiv hopes to recapture the area by September. And it's warning the enemy learns how to swim across the river or get out, while it's still--