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Ukraine in "Strategic Deadlock" after Months of War; Russian Crude Headed for Cuba; Trump's Legal Battles; Liz Cheney Gears Up for Trump Fight, Political Future; China's Record Heat Wave. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired August 18, 2022 - 10:00   ET




BECKY ANDERSON, CNN HOST (voice-over): It is 3 pm here in London. I'm Becky Anderson and hello, welcome to CONNECT THE WORLD.

A strategic deadlock: that is how Ukraine's presidential advisor described the situation on the ground nearly six months into Russia's war on his


But in the midst of prolonged bloodshed, destruction and suffering, one positive development is the resumption of Ukrainian grain exports, the

result of an agreement brokered by Turkiye and the United Nations.

And that topic front and center today at a trilateral meeting in Lviv involving the Ukrainian and Turkish presidents and the U.N. secretary

general. These are pictures of Volodymyr Zelenskyy, greeting Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Antonio Guterres before their meeting.

It's happening amid new safety concerns, that the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant and a new Russian threat to shut that down due to damage from

Ukrainian shelling. Ukraine denies firing on that plant and its nuclear agency warning that a shutdown would bring, quote, "radiation disaster


The head of the International Atomic Energy committee also weighing in with a strong warning. Rafael Grossi saying, "Any military action that

jeopardizes nuclear safety must stop immediately. Fighting near such a large nuclear facility could lead to very serious consequences."

Senior international correspondent David McKenzie connecting us from the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv.

This is the largest nuclear plant in Europe in southeastern Ukraine.

What are the risks as you understand them at this point?

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The very real risk is for there to be a full station blackout. That is the technical term where there is no power

going into the reactor, which allows the cooling of those nuclear rods to happen.

And if you remember the Asian tsunami, when the Fukushima disaster happened, the initial disaster did not create the problem; it was the power

going out that created that meltdown.

And that is what everyone fears, I think, more than a direct strike. The Russian authorities saying they have had issues because of this conflict in

the auxiliary part; from a technical standpoint, every one of those nuclear reactors has three backup diesel generators. But it's unclear how much fuel

there is.

And you really don't want to have a situation where you are wondering whether there will be enough power supply to a massive civilian nuclear

facility like this, because the consequences are very severe.

We had that meeting between the Turkish president, the U.N. secretary general and the Ukrainian president. There was later a meeting between

Zelenskyy and Guterres, where Zelenskyy said they did discuss this issue of safety at this plant.

Both sides have been blaming each other. It's very murky to tease out exactly who is to blame other than, of course, the fact that Russian

soldiers occupied it in March and are to blame for this entire situation in the power plant.

So right now there is the stalemate between all sides as to how to get nuclear inspectors in from the IAEA, to try and secure the safety of the

site and that the shelling continues even into today.

ANDERSON: Let's also just have a look at what is going on in the ground. That is a very frightening development that you have just been discussing.

In the meantime, a strike in Kharkiv last night has killed seven, as I understand it. A Russian airstrike, according to the Ukrainians, part of

relentless campaigns of strikes on front lines.

What is the impact of this latest activity?

MCKENZIE: The latest impact has been, according to the Ukrainians, a residential unit hit with several killed. Russia saying they only struck a

building which was housing "foreign mercenaries," in their words.

But over the last several months, the northern and eastern campaign has been a grinding assault of hundreds of strikes every single day. And it's

having a massive impact on Ukrainian soldiers.



MCKENZIE (voice-over): A coffee and a cigarette, that is all this man asked for after field surgeons amputated both of his legs.

"OK, you are a fighter, you will be OK," they told him.

"I try to stay positive. It helps me to survive."

A veteran of Ukraine's war, just nine days into this conflict Andrii (ph) was clearing munitions when they exploded. It left him bowed but not


"It is hard but this is my task, to stay upright," he says. "And I'm doing it. Maybe I'll even return to duty."

At this rehabilitation center, soldiers often choose camo prosthetics. The artisans have been doing this for decades. Respect, putting soldiers back

together and the physical rehabilitation is not enough.

How is the attitude or the hope for a patient important in this process?

VOLODYMYR DANILYUK, ORTHOPEDIST, VINNYTSIA REHABILITATION CENTER (through translator): It's 50-50; 50 percent depends on our doctors and 50 percent

depends on the soldier and his mental health. If he doesn't want it, doctors can't help him.

MCKENZIE: How do you feel about this war now being many months?

"I'm very sorry for the younger man who are dying in the war," says Andrii. "For permanent soldiers who have been going to the front since 2014, I

understand. But for the younger guys, I feel sorry for them."

Russia's invasion sent this 23-year old, Serhii, far from home, to the northeastern front. He felt proud to defend his homeland.

"Our orders were to push the enemy from the front line," he says. "We were too close to the enemy."

Russians attacked their position with overwhelming force with tanks and mortars.

"Yes, I'm very angry," says Serhii. "But first of all, I'm angry because they attacked Ukraine and I'm angry about my leg."

"Of course, it is much better when you have your own leg," says Andrii. "But now, I understand that the wheelchair and prosthetics are part of my

body. It is physically very, very hard. It's very hard."


MCKENZIE: And you could really tell the pain and the struggle that he was going through when we were there. A real privilege to speak to those

veterans of this conflict. Now Andrii's son says he wants to go and fight in the east but he said there is no way he is allowing his son to go,

because he wants to be taken care of, he has to be taken care of and also he says he wants to have grandchildren one day.

ANDERSON: As I understand it, a lot of Ukrainian soldiers are actually getting to go to Europe, to get the sort of support that your report


Why is it important to get it locally?

MCKENZIE: There are a lot of soldiers that have been badly injured and civilians who go to Western Europe and the U.K. and elsewhere to get those

prosthetics. They say at that facility they are very proud about the work that they are doing.

They say so much of is not just about the technical work of putting a prosthetic on and the technology that allows people to get on the move

again after rehabilitation but the psychological health.

They say it's important for the soldiers and others to be close to home, to come back frequently to that place, to feel a sense of community. And that

is why they say that they are ramping up their support here in Ukraine, throughout the country.

Every single one of the beds in that facility was filled and they will expand it shortly. The Ukrainian authorities have not said much about the

number of casualties over the last few months.

But as this war drags on, of course, this is going to be the impact of it because of the nature of the fighting, with these heavy rocket shells

raining down on soldiers, often stuck in holes and shielding for their lives.

ANDERSON: David McKenzie is on the ground for you in Ukraine. Thank you.


ANDERSON: While sanctions on Russia have left many of its exports without a destination, Russian crude oil has found a friendly port in Cuba. A

Russian oil tanker carrying 700,000 barrels of oil is headed toward the Caribbean island. No word if Cuba is paying for the crude but it is badly



ANDERSON (voice-over): Have a look at these images; the country has had blackouts and energy shortages as a result of last week's massive fire at

its main oil storage facility.


ANDERSON: Patrick Oppmann is tracking developments from Havana.

Those images really tell the story about just what a crisis Cuba is in right now.

What do we know about this cargo from Russia, in terms of the deal, Patrick?

PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's a bit of a mystery but it does seem that, oil analysts tell us, helping countries involved hee, Russia has

tankers of oil without having a place to offload them. And Cuba is ready to accept that.

They do not have $70 million that it is estimated this crude cost on hand. So it appears to be a triangulation deal, where Russia sends oil to Cuba,

which it needs to keep the lights on.

And Venezuela perhaps, which has an agreement with Cuba to supply oil, which is having problems with its own production right now, perhaps has

promised to send Russia some of its own crude down the line.

Certainly for Russia showing some solidarity with Cuba is appreciated. A Cuban government company saying, about this deal, that Cuba is not alone.

The problem is getting the crude up to Cuba. As you mentioned, that facility, the only facility on this island that can accommodate a

supertanker like this one, is so badly damaged that it appears right now that they are unloading the oil at sea on the smaller ships and then

bringing it to the ports that can take those ships and unload the crude.

But this is a logistical nightmare and it will not go away anytime soon. This facility basically destroyed by a fire that officials say was caused

by a lightning strike.

ANDERSON: As you rightly point out, Cuba relies on Venezuela for its oil imports and reports have suggested that Venezuela itself is diverting cargo

to the island to help respond to this crisis.

Let's talk about the wider story here, the oil refinery, in and of itself, clearly exacerbating an issue that was already front and center, as far as

Cubans are concerned. As people around the world are struggling with fuel and with food, so the prices are going higher, of course.

OPPMANN: Absolutely. And Cuba, which, of course, has to contend with U.S. sanctions itself and an anachronistic, top-heavy Communist-run form of

government that has made the energy crisis much worse over the years, it is really getting to a point we've not seen here in decades, where there are

blackouts every day.

People are taking to the streets often at night with pots and pans to protest. We have not seen this here over the years, something that has got

Cuban officials jittery. And this oil tank facility fire is just going to make that problem so much worse.

Cuban officials have asked people not to go out in the street and protest. But tempers here are very short. It's very hot here in the summer and when

the power goes out, like it did last night for five hours, people start to grumble. It is a problem that is not going away anytime soon.

ANDERSON: Patrick Oppmann, our man in Havana, thank you.

We have extensive coverage of all of these stories, including the war in Ukraine, online. You will not only find the daily developments there but

looks at the people involved. We just published a story about a man abducted and tortured by Russian soldiers and they used his Instagram to

push pro-Kremlin propaganda. That's online at On your CNN app on your mobile phone as well.

Up next, what did the FBI know about Donald Trump's classified documents before they searched his Florida home?

A judge could reveal that information later today.

Plus, the seemingly never ending summer. It has gotten dangerously hot on the U.S. West Coast. We will check in with the CNN Weather Center on that

after this.





ANDERSON: If you are having trouble keeping up with the legal investigation surrounding Donald Trump, you are not alone.

The former president and his closest allies face a series of hearings and proceedings today. Among them, a federal judge in Florida is hearing

requests from the media, including CNN, to unseal details about what led to the FBI search of his home at a Mar-a-lago.

Meanwhile, Georgia governor Brian Kemp and South Carolina senator Lindsey Graham are both trying to convince judges to get them out of subpoenas to

testify before a grand jury investigating Trump's efforts to undermine Georgia's 2020 presidential election.

And if that were not enough, in a New York, the former CFO of Donald Trump's business empire, Allen Weisselberg, is expected to plead guilty

this hour to charges related to years of tax fraud.

Now he has to agree -- he has agreed to testify against the Trump Organization but has not entered into a full cooperation agreement with

investigators. Right. We're covering the investigation and legal maneuvers on multiple fronts, because this is an important story. All of these are


CNN's Nick Valencia is in Atlanta at the Fulton County courthouse. Katelyn Polantz is in West Palm Beach near Mar-a-lago. And Jean Casarez joins us

from New York.

Katelyn, let me start with you. Just explain what is happening where you are today in West Palm and how significant it might be in this Mar-a-lago


KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Right, so we are talking about this federal, ongoing criminal investigation into the

handling of classified documents that were being kept or were potentially being kept at Mar-a-lago after the presidency.

And today what is happening in court is a discussion about secrecy versus transparency for the public interest. The Justice Department has argued for

secrecy in this case, regarding a document called an affidavit. This would be a narrative that would explain the investigative steps taken so far in

this investigation.

The narrative, this need for the FBI to go in and seize 33 items, including boxes with documents marked classified on them, from Mar-a-lago last

Monday. The Justice Department has already told a little bit about what is going on here, that this investigation implicates highly classified


There is a grand jury investigation, there are witnesses involved, giving them information and potentially giving them information in the future,

which they do not want to chill.

All of that is largely what the Justice Department will probably again argue today in court. We are listening to see if they will take it a bit

further, give us a bit more information or potentially if the judge will allow these documents, this affidavit, to be made public.

But on the other, side the Trump team, they have not said anything in court about what their position is on this. The media, CNN included, has been

arguing for transparency here, saying this is a historic and unprecedented situation.

And not since the Nixon administration has the federal government wielded its power to seize records from a former president in such a public

fashion. The court starts at 1 o'clock; we will be seeing if there will be a ruling today on this.


ANDERSON: Keep your eye on that one for us.

Nick in Fulton County, thank you, ,Katelyn. The investigation into Trump's efforts to overturn Georgia's election results gathers apace. These are the

2020 election results, of course.

Who will be in front of the grand jury next?

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Becky. Things are really heating up here in Fulton County. If things go as planned for the district attorney's

office, they will have Republican senator from South Carolina Lindsey Graham appear here before the special purpose grand jury.

But there was a flurry of legal activities, which included Graham's filing, asking a federal judge for a stay on his subpoena. So he is trying to get

out of appearing before the special purpose grand jury.

So is Georgia's governor, Brian Kemp, who was part of that flurry of legal activities. He is asking a judge to intervene to quash a motion -- or his

subpoena, rather -- to appear. And unsuccessful was John Eastman. He is one of five Trump campaign attorneys who have been subpoenaed.

He tried to also get his subpoena quashed yesterday in a New Mexico court. A judge ruling there though he will have to appear one way or another. So

the district attorney's office has had to deal with some legal wranglings of people that they want to appear for questioning here that really do not

want to talk to the special purpose grand jury.

But it is moving very fast, very rapidly. And we expect senator Lindsey Graham to be here next week, as things stand. Becky.

ANDERSON: That is the Georgia leg of the story, for you.

Jean, a real triple threat to the Trump Organization, a significant guilty plea from his former chief financial officer, what are the details, as we


JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the court hearing is going on right now here in New York City.

But this is what we expect to happen. Allen Weisselberg, the former of the Trump Organization, the 15-count indictment alleges that there was tax

evasion on his part, when he was that CFO, that he got perks, like you do in big companies but that he never paid taxes on them.

Prosecutors are alleging $1.7 million for things like an automobile, a Manhattan apartment, private education for two of his children. So he was

charged and he has been entering into negotiations with prosecutors.

They wanted him to flip so he would cooperate in their investigation, ongoing right now with the Trump Organization and the children. No charges

but an investigation. He refused. He wont do. It but what he says he will do is that he will testify if called on an upcoming trial, because there

was a 15 count criminal indictment against the Trump Organization, the company.

If you find that, strange it. is because a company cannot go to prison. But that is allowed and it should be going forward in October, unless there is

a negotiation, unless there is a continuance. He says he will testify for prosecutors if called.

Now how much prison time is he going to serve?

The indictment included 15 years in prison. But because of this negotiated deal, it looks like he would spend five months in prison, which we are told

amounts to actually 100 days in prison. Becky.

ANDERSON: Fascinating.

To all of you, thank you very much indeed.

This is not the first time Donald Trump has had run-ins, not least with the FBI. His strained relationship with the nation's top law enforcement agency

goes back to the 2016 presidential campaign. CNN's Brian Todd explains.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Donald Trump's contentious relationship with the FBI dates back to before he became president.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Please, FBI, please go after Hillary.

TODD: The provocative days of the 2016 campaign when Trump was relentless in his badgering of the FBI to investigate his opponent's handling of her


TRUMP: The FBI did not act. I have such respect for the FBI. I am so disappointed. How did they let that happen?

She was so guilty.

TODD: Then from almost the moment he stepped in the White House,

analysts say Trump seemed to view the FBI as his own personal instrument of power.

GARRETT GRAFF, FBI HISTORIAN: Donald Trump, you know, upended and tried to usurp the FBI in that spring of 2017 and that relationship has never been

smooth since.

TRUMP: He's become more famous than me.

TODD: Soon after taking office, Trump pressured then-FBI director James Comey to drop an investigation into former national security adviser

Michael Flynn, that's according to Comey himself who claimed that Trump put the squeeze on him personally.

JIM COMEY, FORMER FBI DIRECTOR: I got the sense my job would be contingent upon how he felt I conducted myself and whether I demonstrated loyalty.

TODD: Trump denied asking for Comey's loyalty but ended up firing Comey, later saying he was frustrated over the ongoing Russia probe.

JULIAN ZELIZER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: He wanted that investigation shut down.


ZELIZER: He saw it as a political problem and this was what Comey was up to.

ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: The morale in the FBI definitely took a hit after the firing of Jim Comey. I think that was the

watershed moment that made everybody focus on this issue of the possibility that the administration is really trying to have a direct impact on how we

did our work.

TODD: Throughout the Russia investigation and afterward, Trump continued to berate the FBI for how that investigation played out.

TRUMP: These were dirty, filthy cops at the top of the FBI.

TODD: Trump complained that texts between two FBI employees investigating the Russia investigation were biased against him.

TRUMP: Look at these horrible FBI people talking about we have to get him out and insurance policies.

TODD: But one analyst says Donald Trump wasn't alone among presidents who believe the FBI should be beholden to them.

GRAFF: That is something that has long frustrated presidents going back to Nixon and Johnson and the even John F. Kennedy that the FBI was not

necessarily loyal to them personally.

TODD: After lambasting the FBI again following the Mar-a-lago search, there are hints in recent days that Trump might have softened a bit toward

the FBI, telling FOX, quote, "the temperature has to be brought down," and saying he'll do whatever he can to help the country.

But many analysts worry that the latest battle between Trump and the FBI could be irreversible, especially if it unleashes more violence against

agents -- Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.


ANDERSON: Coming up, suffocating heat taking a huge toll on American crops. A lot of farmers having to cut their losses to survive this drought.

More on that is coming up.

Plus, China dims the lights and shuts down factories to avoid blackouts. How an intense heat wave is affecting everything from the power grid to the





ANDERSON: Welcome, back I'm Becky Anderson in London. You are watching CONNECT THE WORLD. It's just before half past 3:00 here in London.

U.S. House Republican Liz Cheney is kicking in for a long-term fight against former president Donald Trump. After her resounding defeat in the

Wyoming primary, Cheney launched a political action committee to raise money and fund her work.

And she's not ruling out her own run for the Oval Office. CNN's Jeff Zeleny reports from Jackson in Wyoming.



REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): Now the real work begins.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Liz Cheney is eyeing a new chapter tonight in her fight against Donald Trump,

openly considering a run against the former president in hopes of blocking him from ever returning to the White House.

CHENEY: I have said since January 6th that I will do whatever it takes to ensure Donald Trump is never again anywhere near the Oval Office and I mean


ZELENY: But a punishing defeat on Tuesday --


ZELENY: -- is only the latest sign of Donald Trump's unparalleled influence on the Republican Party. His endorsed candidate, Harriet Hageman,

running away with a 37-point landslide as voters resoundingly rejected the Cheney family's storied Wyoming brand.

For Cheney, the defeat was expected.

CHENEY: No House seat, no office in this land is more important than the principles that we are all sworn to protect.

ZELENY: But the massive margin was not, raising questions about whether losing an election, even in principle, offers a realistic roadmap for a

political future.

Cheney's advisors tell CNN she intends to wait until next year to make any decisions, when she's no longer in Congress or serving as vice chair of the

January 6th committee, at timeline she explained on NBC's Today show.

CHENEY: But it is something I'm thinking about and I'll make a decision in the coming months.

ZELENY: Yet Cheney wasted no time turning the page, opening a new political action committee today with the Federal Election Commission.

She's calling the group The Great Task, a nod to the final line from Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg address, to which she drew comparisons in her

election night speech.

CHENEY: The great and original champion of our party, Abraham Lincoln, was defeated in elections for the Senate and the House before he won the most

important election of all.

ZELENY: Yet she now joins the ranks of the House impeachment ten, the Republicans who voted to remove Trump from office. She's the fourth to lose

her primary with four others retiring, leaving only two congressmen on the ballot this fall.

TRUMP: Liz, you're fired. Get out of here.

ZELENY: For Trump, Cheney was the biggest prize of the midterm election season. He crowed about her defeat writing, now she can finally disappear

into the depths of political oblivion. Cheney insisted she had no intention of doing so. She confronted the latest conspiracy theory from Trump about

the recovery of classified materials from Mar-a-Lago, saying Americans have an obligation to fight against misinformation.

CHENEY: Donald Trump knows that voicing these conspiracies will promote violence and threats of violence. This happened on January 6th and it's now

happening again.

ZELENY: It's an open question whether there is an appetite inside the Republican Party for a message so focused on the former president.

Or could there be a lane among independents for her to run that way?

I'm told by her advisers that none of these will happen until later this year with decisions to next year. For now she's heading back to Congress;

she still has her seat until early January -- Jeff Zeleny, CNN, Jackson, Wyoming.


ANDERSON: Still to come, LeBron James is among the greatest players in NBA history. Now his new contract is giving him an awful lot to smile about.

More on that after this.





ANDERSON: Hundreds of cities across China are sweltering under heat and drought warnings as the country endures its worst heat wave in 60 years.

Right now, power grids in China are being strained to see demand from air conditioning surges to prevent blackouts.

Authorities are dimming lights in train stations to save power and shutting down factories. Kristie Lu Stout reports they're even sending up planes to

help make it rain.


KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: Officials across China are scrambling to alleviate the effects of a prolonged and intense heat wave.

The city of Chongqing has suspended factories for a week in a bid to save electricity. Chengdu has put its metro system on power saving mode.

And Hubei province is seeding clouds to literally make rain. This involves shooting clouds with silver iodide rods to induce rainfall. It's a practice

in place in China since the early 1940s and was used during the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008.

For more than two months, parts of eastern, southwestern and northwestern China have been enduring extreme heat. China has issued a red alert heat

warning to at least 138 cities and counties, the highest warning that can be issued.

And it indicates expected temperatures of around 40 degrees Celsius or 104 degrees Fahrenheit. China also issuing an orange drought alert to at least

75 cities and counties. Chinese authorities say it is the strongest heat wave recorded since 1961.

In a statement, Chinese National Climate Center says this, quote, "The heat wave this time is prolonged, wide in scope and strong in extremity. Taken

all signs together, the heat wave in China will continue and its intensity will increase," unquote.

Since June the extreme heat across China has threatened livestock, it has disrupted crop growth and forced factories to shut down. In fact, Sichuan

province, a key manufacturing hub that's home to 84 million people, has ordered all factories to shut down for six days this week to ease a power


High temperatures are expected to continue in the Sichuan Basin and large parts of central China for at least another week -- Kristie Lu Stout, CNN,

Hong Kong.


ANDERSON: Kristie touched on this but the factory shutdowns and lost crops, the heat wave is putting additional pressure on an already strained

Chinese economy.

Goldman Sachs has cut its growth forecast for China for the third time since May, the country's gross domestic product is now expected to grow

just 3 percent this year, down from 3.3 percent as a forecast.

Goldman says the heat wave is a big reason it's cutting its forecast again. But those numbers are significantly lower. The extreme conditions, adding

insult to injury; COVID lockdowns and the real estate crises had already put the brakes on the world's second largest economy.

High heat and drought conditions are hitting the Western United States especially hard right now as well. There are heat warnings in Washington

state and in Oregon and people across California are being asked to conserve power.

Drought conditions are taking a major toll on American farms. A new survey showing more than a third of U.S. farmers are giving up on crops that are

not expected to reach maturity and simply mowing them down. And farmers in Texas are selling off cattle earlier than normal due to dry conditions.



ANDERSON: The power suit taking on a whole new meaning in space. A few hours in what was intended to be a nearly seven-hour spacewalk on

Wednesday, cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev was forced to return to the International Space Station.

NASA says his space suit and battery pack issues needing to be hooked up to the station's power supply. NASA is quick to add that he was never in any