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Putin Begins Process of Annexation of Territories in Ukraine; Georgian Lawmaker: West has been Naive about Russia; Doctor: 25 Killed, 56 Wounded in Kabul Suicide Attack; UNICEF says its "Appalled" by Deadly Kabul Attack; Protests Rage 2 Weeks after Death of Woman in Police Custody. Aired 11:15a-12p ET

Aired September 30, 2022 - 11:18   ET



BECKY ANDERSON, CNN HOST, CONNECT THE WORLD: I'm Becky Anderson in Abu Dhabi, more on Hurricane Ian as the storm intensifies once again along the

east coast of the states. Before we do that other international news for you and this was the scene at the Kremlin just a short time ago.

Russian President Vladimir Putin officially setting in motions the process of annexing four occupied regions of Ukraine. Take a listen.


VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT: Today we are signing an agreement about joining Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republic, Zaporizhzhia region and

Kherson region. Sure that our legislative body will prove accepting the four new subjects of the Russian Federation because it is a will of

millions of people.



ANDERSON: The referenda denounced as shams on annexation. Well, this could usher in a new phase of the war. The Kremlin says it will regard attacks on

the annexed regions as aggression against Russia.

CNN's Stephen Collinson writes and I quote here, "Russia's new land grabbing Ukraine is act of geopolitical piracy that will make the war more

dangerous add new risks to the West's strategic calculations and deal, a long term challenge to the international rule of law".

This is 25 people were killed and 50 injured in one of those regions Zaporizhzhia. Ukraine says Moscow shelled a convoy of vehicles, ferrying

people to safety. Let's get you to CNN's Nick Paton Walsh joining us now from eastern Ukraine and just to - just break down if you will, what

Russian President Vladimir Putin said today?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: Yes, Becky, I mean, it was essentially as many had anticipated for over a week. The basic blunt

annexation of territory which even in areas which they do not military control, I'm standing in a part of Ukrainian controlled Donetsk, Ukraine

proper, I should say they consider that to be Russian territory.

And obviously in the last two hours or so nothing has changed. Here, I should tell you what has changed, you see flashes in the sky behind me, an

enormous electrical storm has made its way over this particular town.

I may explain some of the bangs you might hear, but obviously, not comforting, given we're also hearing from Vladimir Putin that he reserves

the right to use all means available to him to defend these areas.

He did not explicitly threaten nuclear force; he made reference to it later on. But one thing he did suggest, and this may be what these sham referenda

have been trying to put pressure on the west towards is he asked for a ceasefire.

And he also asked that people return to the negotiating table. Now in the past, Russia has used diplomacy as a time to regroup a time to pursue its

military aims. And it's clear that Ukraine directly rejected that.

And in fact, a matter of moments after that sham ceremony of pieces of paper being signed that essentially formally in Russian law completed this

full annexation.

Ukraine came forward and said that it wanted to begin the accelerated process of joining NATO, that's a longer ambition for Ukraine. But a move

by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy that will put significant pressure on his Western backers because he's essentially asking them to provide an umbrella

of protection against any potential nuclear and any military threats against Ukraine, while Russia extends that same umbrella over occupied

areas here in Ukraine, so escalating tension, but bluntly on the ground, Becky, Ukraine, certainly in the ascendance.

ANDERSON: So justifying war, while pursuing peace or at least that's what Vladimir Putin says he is doing. You talk about what is going on the

ground. What have you witnessed?

WALSH: Yes, I mean, look, it's astonishing, frankly, to have the split screen world. A times bemused faces of Kremlin supporters in the Kremlin

seeing this sham ceremony.

While on the ground Ukraine is making extraordinary methodical progress Lyman, a railway hub, that they are pretty much encircling has thousands of

Russian troops still inside it.

And there are suggestions that the encirclement of Lyman could cause a broader collapse in Russian positions behind it in the Luhansk territory,

one of the four, which Russia has just said is part of its territory now again, potentially leading to another Russian route like that, which we saw

around Kharkiv.

Early days yet, but some significant advances by Ukraine and we saw quite what that looked like on the ground in the speed of last weeks of Ukrainian



WALSH (voice over): Hidden but unstoppable, Ukraine's not bragged much about its march south from Kharkiv towards the prize of Donetsk. But every

rooftop or tree line suggests they've just been too busy advancing day by day, reducing how much you've occupied Ukraine.

Moscow is about to falsely declare Russian territory, with the ultimate goal, encircling the vital railway town of Lyman close, no quarter given

all the way through the forests, to the monastery town of Sviatogirsk.

WALSH (on camera): The drive to this point probably the most depressing two hours we spent on the road for the whole six months of this war, just

laying bare, the utter ferocity of the fighting and also to the speed of Ukraine's advance to this town, which itself is shocking.

Eight years ago at the start of the conflict, I lived on off here for six months and just learn to appreciate its normality. Its peace, amid all the

Pines here and that's just gone.


WALSH (voice over): It is the most fragile who remained when Russia moved in. Anna is one of nine people left in her block. She almost didn't make


ANNA, SVIATOGIRSK RESIDENT: The scariest was when the Russians one night were in a firefight in my courtyard. I was in the doorway and tried to hold

a steel door shut. But a soldier pulled at the door, so I jumped down and fell in the basement. He tore open the door, shot his gun into the darkness

and missed me.

WALSH (voice over): Some seek survival and they're got here whose monastery looks down on the mess. Luba asked me if they'll come back, the Russians,

they made such a mess of their new post office, she says.

On her shirt, a lock of hair from her local beloved priest killed by shelling in June. I attached it as a protective amulet, she says; tell me,

can I leave her now? Even the carcass of here is still rocked by shelling.

But the church bells finally rang again two days ago, they brought Ludmilla (ph) to tears. It rang and I heard it, she says, and I listened and it got

louder. They are now out of the church basement where they hid from the bombs and still try to live.

WALSH (on camera): She's just saying its cold down here and you can feel those seven months underground.

WALSH (voice over): Anxious to not show their faces. Their plight down here is their private tragedy, one says, Ludmilla's disabled son was injured in

shelling and taken to hospital she tells me, she last saw him alive. But that is all she knows down here. There is little salvation here. Only ruin

turning to rust. There is no letup in Ukraine's advances, or of Moscow's imminent annexation, the absurd claim this land is now actually Russian

territory. The land here testimony to how the collision between this right and that's wrong shred the very thing both covered.


WALSH: And we are left in this extraordinary paradoxical world of Russia saying where I'm standing is now Russia. Ukraine, clearly obviously

controlling it moving forwards on the frontlines pretty much with the momentum that has been consistent now for weeks Ukraine asking for the

accelerated process of joining NATO.

And a behind it all the bluster of Russian threats of nuclear force and also requests for negotiation, very intense and dangerous days ahead,


ANDERSON: Yes, Nick Paton Walsh, terrific reporting. Thank you, sir. Well, top lawmaker in another former Soviet Republics in its history repeating

itself today. Nikoloz Samkharadze is a member of Georgia's Parliament and Chairman of its Foreign Relations Committee. He told me, this is exactly

what Russia Dawson has been doing for years.

NIKOLOZ SAMKHARADZE, GEORGIAN PARLIAMENT: Strategies to declare this occupied regions Russian territory, and then any attack on those regions

will be seen as an attack on Russian Federation. And he will be then free to also increase the number of mobilized people into army. He can finally

also declare war, or he could then also use some of the weapons that he has not used before.

ANDERSON: Russia has form in this sort of behavior and you have experience of that in Georgia. You've heard the international reaction to what the

Russians have done with regard these occupied territories of Ukraine.

Was international reaction strong enough when Russia recognized Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent back in 2008? And do you think what the

Russians did and the international response embolden Russia with what we are seeing today?

SAMKHARADZE: Unfortunately, there was no reaction from the west and international community in 2008 when Russia recognized the so called

independence of our occupied regions.

I mean, six months after the invasion and after occupation, there was a so called reset between the U.S. and Russia, then it was business as usual

between the EU and Russia. So of course, the lack of reaction, a lack of standing up against Russia emboldens them.

ANDERSON: Do you believe action by the West, the U.S. or NATO members has been naA_ve?


SAMKHARADZE: To some extent, to some extent, yes. I think this we, we believed that after, after the end of the Cold War, Russia would be behave

differently. There was a space for accommodating Russia.

But we have to remember that these are the times the 90s especially and also early 2000s when, when Russia was actively involved in different

conflict, separatist conflict and the post-soviet space, especially in Georgia and in Moldova. So we are really surprised with the - that the

Western community had towards Russia.

ANDERSON: That interview conducted earlier. Well, since Russia invaded Ukraine food and energy prices as you be well aware of soared worsening

global inflation. In the Euro zone consumer prices rose a record 10 percent in September up from 9.1 percent in August.

Meantime Luxembourg says it's concerned that some EU countries are trying to outdo one another racing to hand out costly subsidies to rein in energy

prices, more on Russia's illegal annexation of these Ukrainian regions coming up. First, so we will hand you back to our U.S. colleagues and our

continuing coverage of Hurricane Ian.


ANDERSON: Right, our continuing coverage will continue that of Hurricane Ian. But other news, we need to get you first there's condemnation but no

claim of responsibility so far after a suicide blast at a Kabul Education Center.

A doctor who is treating some of the victims says that those 25 people were killed earlier on Friday; many of them believe to be young women. The

Taliban are publicly condemning the attacks. CNN's Salma Abdelaziz says following the story for you, Salma.

SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A terrifying morning in Kabul of course, Becky. These victims were young people they were 17, 18, 19

dreaming of going to university preparing for their college exams when really something horrific happened. Take a look at how the day unfolded in

a warning here that there are some graphic images in this piece.


ABDELAZIZ (voice over): A place of learning turned into a scene of carnage. This is the aftermath of a suicide bombing on an education center in Kabul.

Students were taking a practice university entrance exam when at around 7.30 a.m. local time, a blast ripped through the classroom killing and

wounding dozens.

I saw so many pieces of flesh in the air, this eyewitness said, people were so panic, some were injured and some were crying. I wanted to help them. I

hope to carry some of the dead bodies.

The private center serves young woman in men dreaming of going to college, but eye witnesses say most of the victims were female. The blast happened

right between where the girls receded, he says.

The girls were sitting at the front row and we boys we were sitting behind them. UNICEF called the attack unacceptable and urged all parties to

respect education. Children and adolescents are not and must never be the target of violence, it said.

The bombing took place in a predominantly Hazara neighborhood, a minority group that has been targeted by extremists, including ISIS. The Taliban

government has done little to protect the persecuted community according to Human Rights Watch. A Taliban spokesperson condemned the attack saying

authorities will find and punish the perpetrators.


ABDELAZIZ (voice over): But since the group's takeover of Afghanistan over a year ago, the security situation appears to be deteriorating, and under

its rule, life for women and girls grows bleaker.

The Taliban have banned girls from attending public secondary school that sixth grade and above all, but denying them a future. And for the few that

still have access to education, just studying for an exam can cost a girl her life.


ABDELAZIZ: As you see there, Becky, life for women and girls in Afghanistan since that Taliban takeover last year has grown bleaker and bleaker by the

day. As you heard there again, girls over the age of 10 from sixth grade up that secondary school are banned from going to school.

The few who do have access to education, they're simply risking their lives to do something like take a text practice for a university exam, it's just

a sign of how terrible the security situation is in that country now, Becky.

ANDERSON: Salma Abdelaziz, thank you. Well to Iran, where an influential cleric is calling for tough action against what he calls barbaric rioters.

See, his call comes as what are actually protests continue two weeks after the death of a young woman in police custody and despite a harsh government

crackdown and internet restrictions.

One monitoring group says at least 28 journalists, for example has been arrested. Well death tolls from the anti-government demonstrations are hard

to confirm as images from these protests do go viral all over the world.

There are calls for a full investigation into what is clearly a fierce crackdown by the Iranian regime. But two weeks after Mahsa Amini's death,

no such investigation is in sight.

And seemingly there's not much the United Nations, for example, can do to compel some transparent oversight. I spoke to the UN special Rapporteur on

Human Rights in Iran earlier, have a listen.


ANDERSON: Your mandate, according to the Human Rights Council resolution 3730, is to monitor and investigate human rights violations in Iran. Have

you asked Iran to launch an investigation into the circumstances surrounding Mahsa Amini's death?

JAVAID REHMAN, U.N. SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR: I have indeed issued a press release. And the press release is quite clear, asking Iranian authorities

to investigate to have a transparent inquiry to make the findings public. And we're also asking for accountability for the perpetrators of this



REHMAN: So yes, it - to your question, we have asked the new authorities.

ANDERSON: You say you released a press release, have you spoken personally to the Iranian authorities?

REHMAN: Our protocol is that we issue a press release and we wait for the response for the Iranian authorities. So I'm awaiting what kind of response

they'll offer to me as regards my press release.

ANDERSON: And you release the press release when and how long do you give the authorities to respond?

REHMAN: We issued the press release, as I remember on the 22nd of September. And Mahsa Amini unfortunately died on the 16th. So we issued

that press release and we await a response. And then we will consider further action if we don't hear from the Iranian authorities.

ANDERSON: Yes, I must press you on this because how long do you think is adequate at this point?

REHMAN: You see, when dealing with a country such as Iran, we have to anticipate that there will either be no response or no public response or

there would be very limited response.

So we are seeing some responses from President Ebrahim Raisi and some officials but I would not be too surprised if they do not respond directly

to me.

ANDERSON: If Iran does not respond or does not conduct an adequate investigation, what's next? Will you be stepping in?

REHMAN: You see, you mentioned the resolution which mandates my work. And an essential part of this resolution is being allowed access to the Islamic

Republic of Iran. However unfortunately Iran does not allow me access to the country, they have not allowed me access since I first became a mandate

holder in 2018.


REHMAN: So it becomes very difficult for me to engage directly with the authorities in Iran.


ANDERSON: The UN Special Rapporteur on Iran explaining how difficult his job is at this point? Well, for more on why women aren't rising up and

protesting in Iran, be sure to subscribe to CNN's meanwhile, in the Middle East newsletter.

They will find the biggest stories and trends in the region as they happen and an explanation about why it matters newsletter. All

right, continuing coverage of Hurricane Ian with our domestic U.S. colleagues.