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Poland Indicates Intent to send Battle Tanks to Ukraine; Lavrov Meets with South African Foreign Minister; Police Search for Motive after Monterey Park Shooting; EU Divide on Labeling Revolutionary Guard as Terrorists; U.N.: Millions Face Starvation Amid Freezing Temperatures; "Avatar" Sequel Grosses more than $2 Billion Worldwide. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired January 23, 2023 - 11:00   ET




ELENI GIOKOS, CNN HOST, CONNECT THE WORLD: I'm Eleni Giokos. Hello and welcome back to the second hour of "Connect the World". We are live in

Dubai. And as the debate over battle tanks rages alongside the war in Ukraine, Poland's Prime Minister is indicating his intent to send German

made leopard two tanks to help Kyiv in the battlefield.

That's if he can build what he calls a small coalition of countries willing to do the same. Leopard two tanks are seen as a vital modern military

weapon. Berlin remains hesitant to supply them from its own arsenal, and has not given explicit consent for other countries to export them.

On the ground in Ukraine, a senior military official says forces in eastern Ukraine are finding that "Moving forward" is very difficult. CNN's Ben

Wedeman is in the region with a group of volunteers who are trying to help civilians near the front lines take a look.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Down a well-trodden path Anatoli (ph) heads toward home perhaps for the last time.

Sasha a travel agent turned volunteers will help him collect what he can for the journey to Kyiv. It's time to be with family.

I want to see my grandchildren I have four Anatoli says and my son just got drafted. Neighbors will look after his chickens, goats and dog that's all

he says. Let's go guys. They'll start shelling now. He's leaving with a group of young Ukrainians who deliver food and supplies to soldiers,

frontline communities and evacuate those who want to leave.

They had close calls plenty, says Sasha in Bakhmut cluster bombs fell all around us but with duct. God protected us. A year ago Oleksandr managed car

parks toll.

OLEKSANDR VETROV, UKRAINIAN VOLUNTEER: And when the war started since February 2022, we come together and take one bus and together some foods,

some stuffs and make our visits to hot points.

WEDEMAN (voice over): And hot these points are. The adventure through villages still under fire, ravaged by months of shelling they've come to

this village looking for people they heard reports that 27 were still here so far though they haven't found any.

Finally, they find a door marked people. People have been hiding in the shelter. Volunteers quickly get to work no time to waste. We're always in

the basement says Fitlana (ph) we go there as soon as they start shelling, especially the last days it's very, very hard. Olha (ph) owned a cafe near

Kyiv, but left it to be here. She prefers to keep her mother in the dark.

I don't always tell her where I go because she's worried for my life she says, but we go anyway. In another village they're evacuating Stefan who's

suffering from frostbite or so he believes he hasn't seen a doctor. I was putting up with the pain but now it hurts when I walk and I can't get any

treatment here he says.

There are no doctors, no hospitals so I asked my daughter in Holland to help me. In the evening his daughter - meets him outside hospital nearby

Slavyansk. The relief says it all Ben Wedeman CNN, Eastern Ukraine.


GIOKOS: I want to bring in CNN's Fred Pleitgen live from Kyiv. Fred, we've just seen that piece from Ben Wedeman what people are going through on the

front lines. Ukraine has been very vocal that they need modern tanks to tip the scales. Many countries have said that they're willing to send leopard

two tanks to Ukraine. Germany is hesitating Poland wants to build a coalition now in order to do so can they?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, first of all Germany is obviously the key country in all of this because Germany

manufactures these tanks and essentially legally for any country to export those tanks to Ukraine they would have to get for permission from the

Germans first.

Now you're absolutely right the Polish government Eleni they have come out and said they want to build the smaller coalition and if the Germans don't

give their go ahead they are going to ask them for permission.


PLEITGEN: The Germans don't give their go ahead, the Poles are saying that they are going to export those tanks to Ukraine anyway. Now it's been quite

interesting over the past day or so the German Foreign Minister came out last night and said they wouldn't stand in the way of Poland doing that.

Unclear however, whether or not she wasn't getting ahead of herself a little bit there? Certainly what the German government is saying right now

is that they haven't even gotten any sort of notice from the Poles or any requests to send those main battle tanks to Ukraine.

But the Germans certainly aren't there yet to allow that to happen, or to give that go away. We've been in touch the senior German official, who told

us that right now the Germans want a broader discussion on all of this. And they certainly want more international cooperation, closer cooperation,

especially they say, with the United States.

Essentially what the Germans are saying is that they will allow their leopard two battle tanks to be sent to Ukraine, if the United States sends

Abrams tanks to Ukraine. Now, we've heard from the U.S. already that at this point in time, they're not willing to do that. They don't believe that

the Abrams are suited for the battlefields in Eastern Ukraine.

And that maintenance would be very difficult with the turbine engine that that tank has, it also takes a lot of fuel. But right now, there is still

that impasse that the Germans say they're sort of trying to work through and then hopefully be able to give the go ahead to give those leopard two

tanks as well, which the Ukrainian say would be absolutely vital.

You know, we've been speaking to Ukrainian officials here. And they say they're having a lot of trouble getting spare parts for the Soviet tanks

that they currently have. And also ammunition for those tanks as well. Even internationally it's very difficult to source that right now and of course

becoming more difficult.

The Ukrainian says they need around 300 to 400 Western modern main battle tanks to really turn the tide on the battlefield here. But right now as we

can see, it's very far away from achieving that number. Right now or so far, only the UK has pledged 14 challenger main battle tanks and that's

about it so far.

GIOKOS: All right, Fred Pleitgen thank you so much. Whether or not Ukraine will get the battle tanks it so desperately wants is under discussion at

this hour as EU Foreign Ministers meet in Brussels? Germany is under intense pressure to send or approve the transfer of leopard two battle

tanks to Kyiv.

Poland says it's ready to send its German made leopards if a small coalition of other countries does the same. Germany's Foreign Minister

hence Chancellor Olaf Scholz may approve a transfer, though his bolt at such a move so far. Today, the Kremlin is warning that Ukraine "Will pay"

if Germany sends tanks to Ukraine.

My next guest tweeted Ukraine needs additional defensive aid, including heavy weaponry, and the oil price cap lowered. He says his country of

Estonia will contribute 1 percent of its gross domestic product towards aid for Ukraine and he's calling on other nations to do the same.

Urmas Reinsalu joins me now from Brussels. He's the Estonian Foreign Minister. Minister, great to have you on thank you so much! You've just

wrapped up a meeting with the German Foreign Minister, has there been any shift in strategy in terms of sending leopard two tanks?

URMAS REINSALU, ESTONIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: No. So it was a talk where I urged Germany to do it immediately. And colleague will respond to it. She

did also yesterday that first we have to receive a Polish appeal. But of course, this tends to be a very much also domestic political issue in

Germany and the top leadership. But now is most important, the critical is to just pass this decision and show leadership. This is my pledge.

GIOKOS: Poland wants to build a small coalition of countries in order to send these leopard two tanks to Ukraine. Will Estonia join and have you

already discussed any of this with Poland?

REINSALU: Well, surely we have already sent our tanks. The problem is that we do not have in our national stockpile tanks at all. What we have done is

we have given and our last week decision was to give more ammunition to howitzers more 155 caliber howitzers.

And our altitude has now reached over 1 percent of our GDP and today I made also a pledge to colleagues that if all of the Western community countries

would deliver 1 percent of GDP immediately to military aid delivery. It will make - be a game changer. It will make a difference.


REINSALU: So, I think also the Poland probably made also a friendly pressure pressuring sign towards Germany in that context. But, of course,

the best option would be the Germany will pass decision. We look also on its own stockpiles, and we will have a solid coalition to provide tanks.

And the situation is particular the same, as we saw and remember, from the last year, spring, early summer, when also the Ukraine so systematically

consistently pledged Western countries to deliver how it serves. And there was a lot of hesitance around Western capitals, where it could be

interpreted by Kremlin as a certain escalating, unpredictable act and so on.

But it appears to be the case that Ukrainians were falling out of Soviet type ammunition and the shells. And there was no alternative. Otherwise,

the Russia would make grant canes and now it's the tanks, the same situation critical situation.

GIOKOS: Minister, I want to get a sense from you. You're saying no, the Germans have not decided whether they will send Leopard 2 tanks is a

sticking issue, the sticking points, the U.S. not sending Abrams tanks? And do you get a sense that Germany will make concessions, will move on this

point because it's urgent. Ukraine has said this is we have to act with a sense of urgency.

REINSALU: I do believe that, at the end, whatever timing the end means, the decisions will be made because UK created already a precedent. And will let

me remind also that the old Soviet type tanks, hundreds of them have been already during the course of last year being delivered by the Central and

Eastern European countries to Ukraine.

So, the decision will apparently be made. And the question is about timing. And I think now there is a proper time to demand all the countries to

upgrade and all the countries to raise the quantity and all the countries to free also the arms aid from any conventional arms aid from any political


GIOKOS: Minister I'm curious to find out when you've got Poland saying that wants to build a coalition Germany is digging its heels, some asking the

question of whether this is revealing fractures within NATO. Do you agree with that?

REINSALU: No, because this is now like seeing very symbolic and it is a symbolic issue on the table. But the debates delivering more and call to do

more. They are well they have I think followed over the course of this stage before. And well, we look also before the February last year, also.

And we can only ask from ourselves, if maybe half of that we have already delivered would pee on the Ukrainian soil before the start of war.

What difference would it made then? And I think the U.S. is using the U.S. argument from Germany. I think this is also an argument where the U.S. has;

I think solid response on the Abrams tanks because of these logistical issues and questions.

GIOKOS: Minister very quickly, I want to ask you you've said 1 percent of GDP is going to be committed to spending on Ukraine. When you broach this

with other foreign ministers, did they agree? Do you feel that you might get other people joining you?

REINSALU: Well, I hope and I think that somebody has to make a first step. And we did it. And this should be a global pledge towards freedom loving

people. I would the happiest man on earth when you wish would join that appeals 1 percent of U.S. GDP and we will get victory this year to Ukraine.

GIOKOS: Minister, great to see you, thank you for joining us today. While EU foreign ministers meet in Brussels, Russia's foreign minister is in

South Africa. Sergey Lavrov says he discussed Russia's so called special military operation in Ukraine with his South African counterpart. Lavrov

praised what he called South Africa's well balanced and considerate approach.

That country is officially neutral in Russia's war on Ukraine. Lavrov's visit comes just days after South Africa announced it will host a joint

maritime military drill with Russia and China in February. CNN's David McKenzie joins me now live from Johannesburg. Great to see you, David!

Look, the relationship between the two countries is political and economically strategic.


GIOKOS: Pretoria has remained neutral. Could you give me a sense of what was discussed and what South Africa's stance is at this juncture?

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, for the past many months Eleni, South Africa stance has been the same they have called

on negotiations between Ukraine and Russia. They repeated that call today.

And while the president and the foreign minister here have said that their stance should be neutral, and they won't be persuaded otherwise, there has

been deep criticism, as you might expect from opposition leaders, charities here are saying that by welcoming Sergey Lavrov, by calling him a friend,

in fact, Naledi Pandor, the Minister in charge of Foreign Affairs is in fact tacitly siding with Russia, that's something that they would certainly


But there is in the coming weeks, these controversial Navy exercises between South Africa, China and Russia, those have been long planned, I

believe. And the Minister of South Africa, Foreign Affairs pointed out that South Africa has held drills with both the Americans and the French in

recent months.

Earlier last year, she said they wouldn't be bullied or patronized by European partners. But I think in this statement, she sort of sums up the

viewpoint of the South African government, take a listen.


NALEDI PANDOR, SOUTH AFRICAN FOREIGN MINISTER: That one of the things we as Africans need to resist is this impulse of wanting to direct the double

standard form of international conduct toward us that what I do is OK for me, but you cannot do it because you are a developing country, or you are

Africa, that is an abuse of international practice. All countries conduct military exercises with friends worldwide.


MCKENZIE: Why is this important? It's not just important from the local context. But of course, the Americans and the Europeans have been trying to

build Eleni this, both military consensus and diplomatic, diplomatic consensus to freeze out Vladimir Putin and the Russians. That is by no

means a global standpoint.

Many countries in Africa, including here in South Africa have refused to explicitly condemn the Russians. And of course, that extends to China,

India and other geopolitically important regions. The debate here goes on, and it's unclear whether the government has any leverage actually to force

the sides to negotiate Lavrov for his part continue to place the blame on a lack of negotiation on Ukrainian some things he's done many times before.

But it's certainly apparent that the relations between Russia and South Africa are under no threat by the invasion of Ukraine by Putin.

GIOKOS: And as Naledi Pandor says, they will not make these decisions based on pressure because especially with friends, it's interesting to see how

this is going to play out. David McKenzie, always good to see you! Thank you so much for that insight.

Well, California community is in shock after a Lunar New Year's celebration turns to tragedy, details of a gunman's rampage after the break. Plus, the

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reluctantly fires a key ally on his cabinet latest on Israel's worsening political turmoil.



GIOKOS: Investigators are searching for a motive in one of California's deadliest ever mass shootings. 10 people were killed 10 others injured when

a gunman opened fire inside a dance studio in Monterey Park Saturday night during Lunar New Year celebrations. Authorities say the shooter then went

to a second dance hall in a nearby city but was disarmed by bystanders before he fled. Kyung Lah has more from Southern California.


REP. JUDY CHU (D-CA): What I want to do here is to say to the community feel safe. You are no longer in danger.

KYUNG I. LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The Monterey Park shooting suspect is dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound following a police

standoff Sunday. Law enforcement track a white cargo van that fit the description of a vehicle of interest from the shooting. Four-hour SWAT

officers tried to get the occupant of the vehicle to surrender until what officers believe was a gunshot heard from inside the vehicle.

SHERIFF ROBERT G. LUNA, LOS ANGELES COUNTY: Homicide detectives are working around the clock gathering additional information and working on

determining the motive behind this extremely tragic event.

LAH (voice over): Law enforcement sources tell CNN the suspect may have sought medical treatment shortly before the standoff.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And it is unbelievable. This is terrible.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To see this happen in this place is shattering.

LAH (voice over): The 72-year-old alleged shooter opened fire at a dance studio where the city's large Asian American community was celebrating the

Lunar New Year Saturday night.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Additional units requested multiple victims' gunshot wound.

LAH (voice over): The gunman then left the scene and targeted another neighboring dance studio with a semi-automatic weapon before it was

wrestled away from him.

G. LUNA: The suspect went to the Alhambra location after he conducted the shooting, and he was disarmed by two community members who I consider to be

heroes because they saved lives.

LAH (voice over): The alleged shooter is Asian American and believed to have acted alone. He was a regular patron of the Star Ballroom Dance

Studio, even meeting his ex-wife there according to three people who knew him.

HENRY LO, MONTEREY PARK, CALIFORNIA MAYOR: I have confidence that we will, we will get over this crisis because we must and we will only do so if we

do it together as a community.

LAH (voice over): 10 people were pronounced dead at the scene making this mass shooting the deadliest since the Uvalde Elementary School shooting

last May. The sheriff described many of the victims as likely being in their 50s, 60s or older. This tragedy marks the 33rd mass shootings so far

this year according to the gun violence archive.

G. LUNA: Gun violence needs to stop. And I hope that this tragedy doesn't just go on a long list of many others that we don't even talk about until

the next one comes up.


GIOKOS: I want to go to Monterey Park now. Josh Campbell is following all the developments there, Josh absolutely tragic. What more do we know?

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, we're learning new information Eleni about the type of weapon that was used in this just

tragic, tragic shooting that occurred behind me Saturday night. Police say that this was a semi-automatic assault pistol which is carries a high-

capacity magazine that allows the shooter to fire many, many rounds without having to reload and interestingly is actually illegal in the state of


Question we have is how the shooter actually got his hands on that actual weapon. Now he is 72 years old. So, it is possible that he legally bought

that weapon decades ago before the assault weapon ban was passed here in California. But police are continuing to look into that.

One other key question that they have obviously is the motive. Authorities say that they continue to dig in the suspects past their police had been

conducting a search at his residence looking for clues looking for evidence. Obviously, the suspect is now deceased. He died from a self-

inflicted gunshot wound at the same time as he was being confronted by law enforcement here in the Los Angeles area.


CAMPBELL: And so, police can interview the suspects so they will have to again look into any his past anyone who knew him to try to gather as many

clues as they can to try to piece together why he came here to this location behind me on Saturday evening, taking so many lives Eleni.

GIOKOS: Josh Campbell, thank you so much. For the investigation into U.S. President Joe Biden's handling of classified documents is escalating. The

FBI found the latest batch over the weekend at Mr. Biden's home in Wilmington, Delaware. This is the fourth time classified documents have

been found at the President's private address since November.

His lawyer says the sixth - found were from Biden's time in the Senate and as vice presidents of the U.S. and Israel have launched the largest

bilateral military exercise ever. The Livefyre operation includes 100 U.S. aircraft, with fighter's bombers and re-fuelling aircraft flying alongside

42 Israeli planes.

Meanwhile, Israelis government Israel's government is dealing with growing protests in Tel Aviv and beyond. The Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has

reluctantly compliant with a high court ruling sacking Aryeh Deri from his key ally from all ministerial posts. CNN Correspondent Hadas Gold is live

for us from Jerusalem. Now the question becomes Hadas who will Netanyahu replace Deri with?

HADAS GOLD, CNN JERUSALEM CORRESPONDENT: Well, Netanyahu will likely replace Deri with somebody from Deri's shots party; this is an orthodox

party that Aryeh Deri leads. But it almost doesn't matter who he's going to replace him with. Because the bigger story in Israel right now is about

these judicial reforms that these protesters have taken to the streets to protest over.

And how the Aryeh Deri situation is on a collision course with these judicial reforms, this judicial protest and to back up a little bit

Netanyahu and his government, they unveiled a series of judicial reforms they want to undertake the unveiled this earlier this month. And among them

would allow the Israeli parliament, the Knesset to overturn Supreme Court rulings with just a simple majority.

Now, Netanyahu and his allies say these are much needed reforms. They say the Supreme Court has been overreaching in its powers and that this will

help bring a balanced between the branches of government. But opponents of these reforms say that it will destroy Israel's independent judiciary and

that it will only help Netanyahu faces his own corruption trials and his allies.

Netanyahu denies that these reforms will help his own corruption trial. But one of the avenues that he can get that he can use to get dairy back into

power, something that he has vowed to do, he has vowed to bring Deri back into government, because keep in mind Netanyahu needs Aryeh Deri and his

shots party in order to stay in power in order to have a majority in parliament.

One of the ways to do this is to pass an amendment to Israel's Basic Law, the closest thing Israel has to a constitution that will prevent the

Supreme Court from being able to interfere in Cabinet appointments. And so, we've seen more than 100,000 people taking to the streets of Tel Aviv and

in cities across Israel on Saturday, the third week in a row that they have come out to protest.

And they want this momentum to grow because they say this is essentially the only way to prevent these types of reforms happening is this continued

public pressure campaign. And I can tell you, the organizers are planning more and more protests to see whether this public pressure campaign will

actually work, Eleni.

GIOKOS: Hadas Gold, thank you very much for that update. And still to come Iran's violent crackdown on protests has the EU again slapping sanctions on

the country. But will the EU declare Iran security forces a terrorist organization that story is straight ahead.



GIOKOS: The European Union foreign policy chief says he's hopeful foreign ministers meeting in Brussels were approved a new $542 million military aid

package for Ukraine. This latest tranche of aid is being debated as pressure builds on Germany to send or approve the transfer of leper to

battle tanks to Ukraine.

Poland says it's ready to send its German made leopards, with or without Germany's permission if a small coalition of other countries does the same.

EU Ministers are also taking action against Iran member states want to punish Iran for its crackdown on pro-democracy protests.

The EU is set to target dozens of Iranian officials with new travel bans and acid freezes. But the EU will stop short of designating Iran's

Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization. EU rules say the first step in a terror designation must come from the courts.


JOSEP BORRELL, EU HIGH REPRESENTATIVE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS: Terrorist Organization for the Revolutionary Guard, I repeat, it has to be first and

condemnation for the court in one member state.


GIOKOS: Well, let's bring in CNN's Jomana Karadsheh with more. We just heard it has to go to the courts now in order to designate the IRGC as a

terrorist group. But tell me why it would be or not be viable for the EU to make this move because it seems that it will be consequences.

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Eleni, just a bit of background on this. For weeks now, Iranian activists around the world have

been really pushing the campaigning, calling on the EU to designate the IRGC as a terrorist entity. And we saw last week the European Parliament

with an overwhelming majority past that non-binding resolution calling on the block to list the IRGC as a terrorist entity.

And they also called for sanctions targeting top regime officials, the Supreme Leader as well as President Raisi and others. But today we're

hearing from the EU Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell saying, look, they can't just designate the IRGC, it doesn't work like that, that this needs

to come through ruling by a court of a member state for them to take that action.

But he also then he went on to say according to Reuters, he says you cannot say I consider you a terrorist because I don't like you. And you can

imagine the kind of reaction this has gotten from EMPs as well as Iranian activist. They're saying this is not about liking or not liking the IRGC.

This is about the Iranian Armed Forces actions, whether it is they say terrorizing its own population, whether it is destabilizing action.

It is involved in in countries around the world as well as its support for Russia, in its war against Ukraine, supplying it with drones and other

kinds of military support it has also provided. The EU has been under a lot of pressure to do more because as we've heard from a lot of European

politicians, as well as activist saying that it can and should do more to put pressure on the Iranian regime.

But it does seem that the EU is holding on to that position that we have heard all along that they don't want to push this further right now. They

still believe that the way to deal with the regime is through diplomacy and dialog. They're still trying to keep those communication channels open.


KARADSHEH: And you know, Borrell himself has said this several times that he sees no other alternative to the nuclear deal, the JCPOA that by all

accounts, those negotiations have stalled. But also, as we've heard, from many, including the U.S. president, that the negotiations for that deal are

pretty much dead at this point. So, they're continuing to try and put pressure on the regime, but still keep those channels of communication


They see no alternative for that. But I can tell you, it's getting harder and harder for them to hold on to that position, especially after what we

have seen unfold in the country over the past few months, the violent repression, the crackdown on dissent in the country, the crackdown on these

protests that has been ongoing, the atrocities, the human rights violations that we have been reporting on.

And then you've also got a number of Europeans who are jailed by the Iranian regime, as many would tell you, they're being used as bargaining

chips, and also its position when it comes to the war in Ukraine. So, it's getting very tough for the EU to continue to hold on to that position. But

at this point, it doesn't seem Eleni like they're willing to go that far.

GIOKOS: Yes, as Jomana, as you say, some of the tragic stories out of Iran right now absolutely harassing and you've been covering so much of that for

us. Thank you very much for your reporting, Jomana Karadsheh for us. And for more on the situation in Iran, don't forget to sign up for our Middle

East newsletter. Today's edition of the newsletter is titled Iran's regime is trying to execute its way out of trouble.

The newsletter comes out three times a week and has important perspective on everything that is happening in the region. You can check out that

website to get more information. Well, let's get you up to speed now on some of the stories that are on our radar right now.

Thousands of people gathered in South-eastern Turkey on Sunday to voice their anger at the burning of a copy of the Koran in Sweden. The Koran was

burnt at a Swedish demonstration against Islam and Turkey on Saturday. Turkey has accused Sweden of supporting Kurdish militants who wants an

independent state in Turkey.

The search for survivors has stretched into the night after a five-storey residential building collapse Sunday in Aleppo, Syria. Syrian state media

say at least 16 bodies have been recovered from the rubble. So far four people rescued but injured. This is one of many buildings to collapse there

in recent years.

India has used emergency powers to ban a BBC documentary on Prime Minister Narendra Modi from airing in India. The two-part documentary is critical of

Mr. Modi's alleged role in the deadly 2002 Gujarat riots. He was Chief Minister of the state at the time.

The BBC says the series was rigorously researched. Much of Pakistan has plunged into darkness as a massive power outage stretches into the night.

Pakistan's Energy Minister says power is now being restored in several regions. 220 million people across Pakistan lost power Monday morning after

the national grid suffered a major breakdown.

People were left stranded in cities like Lahore as train services got disrupted, while schools and businesses were also left mostly in the dark.

I want to bring in CNN Producer Sofia Saifi who is in Islamabad, Pakistan. Power outages are not new in Pakistan, but this is a total blackout. This

is so widespread. The question now becomes how quickly can the power be restored? And what does it mean in terms of fixing the infrastructure that

caused the issue?

SOPHIA SAIFI, CNN PRODUCER: Eleni this has been ongoing for about 13 hours now. It's the dead of winter here in Pakistan. The good news is, is that

the capital city of Islamabad has had most of its power restored, but we haven't had an official confirmation confirming that has, it has in fact

happened. This is more from people that we've been speaking to.

We've also been told that Karachi, the financial capital of the country has had power restored as well. But like you said earlier, much, many parts of

the country still remain in darkness on this cold winter's night. This is not the first major power outage of this level that has shaken Pakistan

something similar happened exactly two years ago in January of 2021.

And there have been many discussions of how to fix the national grid they've been there's been a power crisis in Pakistan. Pakistan's prime

minister just earlier in January just this month had announced that shops and government offices will be shot earlier in order to conserve energy in

the country.


SAIFI: There's a cost-of-living crisis. There is looming inflation and there is a gas shortage. So, people don't have electricity, but they also

don't have gas to fuel up their heaters. They do have generators, but that we're just talking about the upper middle class not everybody can afford

generators in the country and the people who can afford generators probably can't afford the fuel because fuel prices are skyrocketing here in this


So, there are a lot of questions being asked there's not an exact confirmation of when power will be restored completely across the country.

We've been told to be late into the night there is some good news that it is slowly and gradually coming back. Telecommunications have been affected

as well phones were spotty the entire day.

Pakistan's largest mobile network just confirmed that they had been running on backup power for hours. And we're still waiting to see when the entire

country is back and lit up again Eleni?

GIOKOS: Yes. Everyone relying on backup power generators batteries, thank you so much Sophia Saifi for that update! Coming up on "Connect the World"

from bad to worse, freezing temperatures take a harsh toll on Afghanistan's most vulnerable.


GIOKOS: Millions of people in Afghanistan already on the brink of starvation and economic hardship struggling to survive this winter are

freezing temperatures. And critics say the Taliban's returned to power and to 2021 has helped fuel the crisis. CNN's Michael Holmes reports.


MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Arctic conditions heavy snowfall and freezing temperatures in Afghanistan have killed at least 78

people in the last few days according to Taliban officials CNN not able to independently verify that number. Thousands of livestock reportedly froze

to death according to the UN. Temperatures plunged to as low as minus 28 degrees Celsius this says millions of people in Afghanistan face starvation

according to the UN.

To eat or stay warm, that is the choice many Afghan families are forced to make according to the International Red Cross. However, most Afghans

struggle to afford either. Almost 20 million people in Afghanistan suffer from hunger, the UN says with 4 million children women facing acute


Aid groups are attempting to provide help but since December at least half a dozen major foreign aid groups have temporarily suspended their

operations in Afghanistan after the Taliban banned women from working for NGOs.


HOLMES (voice over): Women aid workers are essential to reaching other women and children in houses in Afghanistan and providing them with

services like food and water to survive the winter. But the Taliban's decision has halted time equal support for Afghans this winter.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So we are trying, you know, to cover this gap, but it has affected our all like, you know, operations. In many cases, we need

female staff, you know, especially when it comes to certain families that there are women run. So, for that we need female staff. And also, there are

some other cases that the presence of the woman is must.

HOLMES (voice over): Afghanistan's humanitarian crisis only deepened after the United States froze billions of dollars of the country's assets,

billions in foreign aid evaporated, all as more than 28 million Afghans require immediate humanitarian assistance according to the UN. Access to

sources of warmth and food are scarce.

And many Afghan families are starving, dying. The Taliban claims to CNN, it has helped Afghans affected. But even if that's so for many it may be too

little too late amid fears the cold conditions will worsen. Michael Holmes, CNN.


GIOKOS: Well, my next guest is the Director of Asia and humanitarian response for the group ActionAid, Razmi Farook joins me now live. We've

just seen that report from Michael Holmes. It's cold 54 percent of the population living below the poverty line; it is an understatement to say

we're dealing with a time critical situation for so many people. What is action aid experiencing right now on the ground? What is it - what is your

team seeing?

RAZMI FAROOK, DIRECTOR OF ASIA AND HUMANAITARIAN RESPONSE, ACTIONAID: So, we are definitely witnessing the severe impact of the extreme weather at

the moment, you know, interfaced with the already difficult economic challenges that families are facing. And we're trying to you know, we

suspended briefly operations, but have had to resume lifesaving activities to support vulnerable communities.

It was you know, it's a challenging time and everyday counts. We're supporting children's education; we're supporting agriculture, food

security. We've assisted 3.5 million people with winter blankets, clothes, gas, food packages, to really help people address their sort of immediate

challenges around sort of surviving winter.

We're very concerned about the rising levels of malnutrition, particularly under children under five breastfeeding with breastfeeding and pregnant

women. So, you know, it's we're an organization focused on helping, you know, particularly vulnerable women and children as well. And we're very

aware of how the clock is ticking. This is a disproportionate humanitarian crisis, extremely complex and severe. Sorry.

GIOKOS: What else that you need, I mean, just it's heart-breaking listening to the needs on the ground, the UN and other aid organizations and

yourselves had to suspend operations. Because there was also an issue with female aid workers, has that not been lifted are women aid workers able to

do the work that is needed on the ground in Afghanistan?

FAROOK: We are in ongoing negotiations with the authorities trying to find solutions on the ground in provinces, realizing that, you know, certain

activities need to be sort of delivered through women for women. And we believe that we will make progress. We're putting in mitigation measures to

try and make sure that we don't miss out on those who need us most, particularly women and children. It's not an easy situation at the moment.

But I believe that everyone is working towards finding a solution and that everybody on the ground in Afghanistan realizes the seriousness of it and

the implications. So, it is --we're part of that.

GIOKOS: You just have men - so action aid just has made on the ground at this juncture doing the work that is needed while you're in negotiation.

FAROOK: We are trying to engage as best as possible community leaders from both genders to look at ways in which we can work within the complex legal

parameters that the authorities have and then continuing to explore ways of increasing our presence. But there are some exemptions for health care and

social welfare. But you know, they are exceptional and there's still work to be done on that front.


GIOKOS: Could you give me a snapshot on what it's like to be a young girl in Afghanistan right now and whether there's hope that things will change?

FAROOK: I mean it's certainly not an easy time to be a young girl in Afghanistan. I think one of the things we're focused on as an organization

is really providing critical psychosocial support through, you know, through other means, you know, we can use social media and telephone online


We believe that the advocates there's mixed opinion on how we can move the agenda forward, and that there are opportunities to work with those who are

willing. And we're trying to develop a coalition of the willing to promote access and to promote, you know, the education and the presence of women in

public, public spaces. It's definitely not easy.

GIOKOS: --go back to school.

FAROOK: We hope that we will be able to--

GIOKOS: I want to quickly touch on funding, yes.

FAROOK: Yes. Sorry, say that, again.

GIOKOS: Goes back to school. I mean, that going back to school, that's what we're hoping for. I want to quickly; I want to talk about funding. Are you

finding the lines of money coming fast and quick? Are you concerned about the commitment in assisting Afghanistan at this juncture?

FAROOK: I mean, there's no question that the humanitarian action plans for Afghanistan is underfunded, it's as it is across the globe, there are

increasing humanitarian needs. And the climate situation with extreme weather events has exacerbated that further.

So, with significant food security challenges, as your colleague mentioned, you know, half the population facing a hunger crisis, increased

malnutrition, the situation is only going to get worse. So definitely, we need more money.

We need governments to come together to try and find solutions to support what is a very critical context at a very critical time and where people

are surviving for their lives. So definitely funding is one of the top priorities where more focus and more funds need to be generated to address

these issues.

GIOKOS: Razmi Farook, thank you so much. Thank you for the work that you're doing on the ground and for sharing your stories with us. It's good to have

you --.

FAROOK: Thank you, Eleni, thank you.

GIOKOS: We'll be back right after this quick break, stay with CNN.


GIOKOS: Its official Director James Cameron has another box office smash on his hands with the long-awaited sequel to Avatar. His latest film Avatar

the way of water has now earned more than $2 billion globally, according to The Hollywood news site deadline.

The epic sci-fi sequel has held the number one box office spot since its release in December. This is the third James Cameron movie to gross more

than $2 billion with the original Avatar, still the highest grossing movie of all time.


GIOKOS: While Dubai was treated to a very special performance over the weekend, Beyonce wild a crowd at the grand opening of a new luxury resorts

Atlantis the Royal. The hour-long set was the American singer's first live show since 2018. But the five-year wait was worth it for those in

attendance. Queen Bee belted out some of her classic hits such as Halo and crazy and love.

She was joined on stage by Firdaus, 48 person all female orchestra and America's Got Talent winners Lebanese dance troupe, the Myers. The Grammys,

most nominated female artists close the show out with an awe-inspiring rendition of drunken love or being raised five meters off the ground

surrounded by fireworks.

Some of the famous faces on the red carpet included her husband Jay Z model, Kendall Jenner and actress Rebel Wilson. And Beyonce even bought her

daughter Blue Ivy onstage with her what was a very special performance. Indeed, those are some of the pictures. I did not make it unfortunately.

Well, more up just ahead.