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German Chancellor Meets with Icelandic Prime Minister after Approving Tanks; Chris Hipkins Sworn in as New Zealand Prime Minister; Japan Cancels Flights Due to Cold; Ukraine Requests More Western Tanks and Long-Range Rockets; NASA to Test Nuclear Thermal Rocket Engine. Aired 10- 11a ET

Aired January 25, 2023 - 10:00   ET




KATRIN JAKOBSDOTTIR, ICELANDIC PRIME MINISTER: -- values are of vital importance in those times. When it comes to democracy, rule of law and

human rights are all under threat. And not just because the war of Ukraine but also because we are facing other challenges like the climate crisis.

The growing artificial intelligence which is going to change a lot in our societies, et cetera. So I think these values, it's very important that we

are going to have this summit, the fourth summit in the history of Council of Europe to really reaffirm and recommit to those values (ph).

But also setting a future mission for the council. Now when it comes to the bilateral relations, as I said, they are good. And we talked about

opportunities, for example, when it comes to carbon capture, sharing research, knowledge and innovation when it comes to harnessing geothermal

and hydro.

And I think we can say that we look forward to working more closely together in these issues. I think there are a lot of opportunities, not

least when it comes to research and innovation in that sector.

And when it comes to the climate crisis, we really need to do our very best to share all the knowledge we have to really stand up to that challenge.

Now I also want to mention that we have -- also had great examples of cooperation within multilateral organizations. I want to especially mention

the case in the Human Rights Council recently, when our foreign ministers took leadership in the defense of protesters in Iran.

And there might be other areas and avenues where our countries could work together. So I'm happy to take questions and happy to be here and looking

forward to our continued cooperation.

QUESTION (through translator): The decision today, could you tell us what this package means?

The 14 values (ph) and the package and materials, what does it mean, who is going to pay for it?

Do you expect that it will be a second phase of it further tanks and do you -- are you worried that there will be an escalation from the Russian side?

OLAF SCHOLZ, GERMAN CHANCELLOR (through translator): I cannot tell you anything about the cost but are going to carry that ourselves. I mean,

that's how it works so far as well. And we undertook that we will have a very effective, efficient, that we are going to provide official materiel.

In this case, it is the tanks and also matters like training and ammunition and repairs, maintenance. We are going to take responsibility for that as


We are in agreement with our close partners. But this is not a press conference (INAUDIBLE).

JAKOBSDOTTIR: Well, of course, I think, as I said earlier in my remarks, that we don't see an ending in sight in this war.

And I think it's good, however, that Germany is making this contribution in close cooperation with other partners and allies, because I think the unity

and solidarity that Europe has shown -- and also our transatlantic partners has been -- may be the most important consequence of this terrible war.

And I think that solidarity surprised many but it has continued and I think that shows really the strength of our cooperation, both here within our

continent but also with our allies in NATO.

QUESTION (through translator): The cost again, not regarding the Germany, the Polish Mr. President said that he is going to ask the E.U., that the

E.U. should finance the provision of Leopards is --

Have you got plans to talk to the Russian president, perhaps after the provision of the tanks?

And I think you have -- I wanted to know whether, in Iceland after the Russian invasion and the greater threat, that that is another initiative,

that Iceland would become a member of the E.U.


SCHOLZ (through translator): First of all, it is so that in cooperation with -- (INAUDIBLE) cooperation with our friends and in regard to finances

that are clear of regulations, established rules, they are -- these are open and for Germany as well (INAUDIBLE) and this regulatory -- these

regulations exist.

JAKOBSDOTTIR: Now if I might answer, I talked about our continent because Europe is, of course, bigger than E.U. And what we have seen now is

actually the solidarity within Europe.

And I think that has been important for all of us, not just those within the E.U. because the war is really an aggression, which puts everything out

of order when it comes to human rights, democracy, because peace is, of course, a precondition for all of that.

And I think this is what has created solidarity within Europe. Now Iceland is not planning to enter the E.U., at least not in the next years and it is

not on the agenda for my government.

However, we emphasize our relation with Europe and with the E.U. And they have proven to be very good. And we think of Europe as our closest friends

and allies, the European countries within the outside of the E.U.

And we, of course, enjoy a great cooperation within the E.U. agreement. Not on the agenda but many Germans have already asked me this today.



SCHOLZ: Thank you.

JAKOBSDOTTIR: Thank you so much.

ELENI GIOKOS, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: All right, that was German chancellor Olaf Scholz, meeting with Iceland's prime minister, Katrin


They are talking about unity, solidarity between the two countries but also importantly what Iceland is doing with regards to working with the European

Union in the fight and the war with Russia and Ukraine.

It's important to note that the chancellor spoke about the deployment of Leopard 2 tanks, that Germany will carry the cost. Not speaking too much

about this. Just a few hours ago, Germany made the official announcement that they will be sending Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine and also opening the

door for other countries to do the same.

We have Nic Robertson tracking developments for us from London.

We also have Oren Liebermann at the Pentagon for us.

Good to see you, Nic. I want to start with you, not many words on the Leopard 2s but we have heard quite a bit about of those over the past

couple of hours. It is also important to know that we are waiting for the United States to make an official announcement.

We've heard from two officials that the U.S. will be sending Abrams tanks. It has been a complete shift by the two countries.

What are you reading into this, Nic?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: So I think there were a couple of takeaways from me from this piece of information that we got at

this press conference.

Number one, the German chancellor said Germany will be responsible for the maintenance of the Leopard 2 tanks. The implication of that would be that

those tanks would have to leave the country for maintenance, if they were to be maintained by German troops unless they were Germans subcontractors

with a military background.

Able to go into Ukraine and service those tanks. What happens if a tank breaks down on the front line and they just need an engineer to get inside

the engine with a big wrench and sort something out.

Or are we talking about the scale of breakdown where the tank needs to come out of the country?

That is going to be interesting detail to be added to that, because that would be a massive shift. And I don't believe that's what the German

chancellor is signaling, that they would be German military engineers, mechanics, following the tanks into the battlefield and maintaining them


So probably more to come on that. But I think what we heard from the Icelandic prime minister, pretty much in keeping with her pacifist views,

her party's pacifist views, human rights democracy, those values, what they are doing to support Ukraine.

But the feature that she picked up on most there was the unity of the decision -- this is something that German chancellor Olaf Scholz talked

about earlier -- and the importance that the unity, this cannot be understated here.


ROBERTSON: That unity sense to President Putin, as he contemplates how he will prosecute the war in this coming year. This is the message that was

important to send at the beginning of the year.

So he can reconsider potentially. No indications he will, whatsoever but this is the importance of this unity message now.

GIOKOS: And interestingly, she actually said twice that she sees no end in sight of this war. So it was interesting to hear that. Oren Liebermann

standing by for us now.

We are expecting to hear official word from the United States about the sending of Abrams tanks. That is coming up in the next few hours. But

again, it is a significant shift. As Nic explained, there is logistical issues with regard to this.

The U.S. has been very vocal about the difficulties in terms of deploying Abrams tanks to Ukraine.

What are we expecting to hear?

It's not just about the sending of the tanks; it is the support around this military hardware.

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, and we do expect according to two U.S. officials, that the U.S. will announce approximately

30 M1 Abrams tanks for Ukraine, as well as a number of support and recovery vehicles, to help make that work.

The timing, as you pointed out, the question of logistics, maintenance, all of this goes into that. While we expect Leopards may arrive faster on the

battlefield because they are ready to go, the question of Abrams is one we expect will take much longer.

That is because of the question of training, not only on the operation but also on the maintenance and logistics side.

On top of, that is the training for Ukrainian forces on all of the other systems they already need to learn. Remember, they are already learning

Patriot missile systems; they need to learn how to use the U.K.'s Challenger 2 tanks.

They need to learn the new Paladin howitzers the U.S. has provided. They are also learning how to fight in a different, a bigger way, the combined

arms training that started in Germany.

On top of all of that has now been added the Leopards, as well as the question of, when training on M1 Abrams tanks will happen. It's our

understanding and it's unlikely that we will see the Abrams come directly from U.S. stocks, which means you either have to procure them under the

Ukraine security assistance initiative, meaning you need to buy new Abrams tanks, or pull them from a third country.

That will take time, that gives the U.S. the time and the space needed to provide the training on how to operate them, how to maintain them and how

to create a logistics tale for these, essentially how to make sure you have what you need to run these.

That question gives them the time available, months, perhaps, to teach Ukrainian forces how to operate the Abrams before they enter the

battlefield, much more likely to see the Leopards, from not only Germany but other countries as well appear in Ukraine first. Eleni.

GIOKOS: Yes. As you say, look, it's logistics, it's the timeline, it's the support that is required in an environment where there is a sense of

urgency. Nic Robertson, thank you so much, Oren Liebermann for us as well.

My next guest spoke to us on this program last Friday. Roderich Kiesewetter is a German parliament member who strongly criticized chancellor Scholz's

reluctance to send tanks to Ukraine. Now after today's announcement, he is back with us via Skype from Berlin.

Sir, good to see you. We spoke as the Ramstein Air Base conversations concluded. We had the U.S. Defense Secretary on the ground in Germany.

There was not much word from Olaf Scholz either with regard to this. It seems to be that very big sticking point. You had said it was the wrong


You tweeted today that finally this decision has come through. But you also said the chancellor's non-communicating has weakened our reputation in

Europe. I want you to tell me how you think this was handled and, importantly, the announcement we heard from Chancellor Scholz earlier


RODERICH KIESEWETTER, MEMBER, GERMAN BUNDESTAG: Yes, greetings from Berlin, where you can hear a loud sigh of relief, finally. But there are

still some lessons identified, not yet learned.

So it is a strong decision but it is a very difficult signaling, because if the signal was given two days ago in Paris or five days ago in Ramstein, it

would have been much stronger. A signal of unity, an often clear decision. But we should look forward.

The key question is, what is the war aim (ph)?

And Chancellor Scholz's pursuing the aim, Ukraine must not lose. Where is our French neighbor and also President Biden?

Are requesting that Ukraine must win. This is a real big difference and we should talk about that, if you so wish.

GIOKOS: It is not lost on us that we are still waiting for an official announcement from the United States about sending Abrams tanks, which, of

course would also show a very big shift in what they have been saying over the past few weeks.

How significant is this?

I think all eyes have been on Germany about sending Leopard 2 tanks.


GIOKOS: But one also notes that what the U.S. is probably about to announce, it is significant in itself.

And the question becomes, is this why Germany changed its stance on sending the Leopard 2 tanks?

KIESEWETTER: Well, I see a staggered, approach the decision of Leopards is overdue, it was expected or requested already last, year but there was no

industrial preparation. There were no budget or any other political (ph) support or budget support for this for our industries.

So they waited 10 months and when (ph). And this decision of today will take another three months before the delivery of the first package. So our

neighbors could start with the training of the teams and could start a little earlier than Germany.

But this is a clear signal and message. But the key is that the United States are ready, not only to show that they stand to Germany. The

Americans could also have said, well, you have the heavy tanks in Europe and we provide you for the combined warfare, with infantry (ph) fighting


Imagine, now the Americans are ready to deliver 70-ton heavy tanks over 8,000 kilometers. But here are 2,000 Leopard tanks in Europe available,

several hundreds will go to Ukraine.

So we should much more appreciate the American contribution in other areas, also in infantry fighting vehicles but also in artillery and

reconnaissance, in also special advice and certain questions.

So I believe we should now look forward. And Germany should learn its lesson, that it is better to have a strategic foresight and early decision-

making processes instead of giving the impression to being pressed. I'm very happy with the decision. But we --


GIOKOS: I want to also -- we're running out of time, I just want to quickly ask you. The Russian ambassador to Germany also said this, saying

it's extremely dangerous decision to take, as the conflict takes it to a new level of confrontation.

What does this mean for Germany?

When we spoke on Friday, you were saying that Putin is probably smoking at the lack of decision-making coming through on the tanks.

KIESEWETTER: Yes. We do not believe in these threats, because Russia always escalated in threats, including nuclear threats. It's their

signaling. But they are the aggressor, they have escalated. Germany has delayed the process of tanks and the Russians escalated instead.

So there was no diplomatic willingness and therefore I believe that we need to defend Ukraine. The future is that Ukraine will have its full serenity

(ph) and we should start with the rule-based order is defended.

And this must be the clear signal to Russia, that they have no repeaters, that they don't have copy makers (ph), that they are isolated and that they

have nobody who is trying to copy their way of warfare. And this is the strong signal of today, the rule based international order is strong and

it's willing to defend itself.

GIOKOS: Roderich Kiesewetter, thank you so very much for your insight, it's good to see you again.


GIOKOS: Well, it was a sleepless night for many people in the southern United States. What severe weather left behind and where the storms are

headed next.





GIOKOS: New Zealand has a new prime minister. Chris Hipkins was sworn in, Wednesday replacing Jacinda Ardern, who shockingly resigned just last week.

Mr. Hipkins immediately vowed to make fighting inflation and the high cost of living his number one priority. CNN's Anna Coren has the story.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Congratulations, Prime Minister Hipkins.

ANNA COREN, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A new prime minister for New Zealand. Chris Hipkins succeeds Jacinda Ardern after she

suddenly announced her resignation last week.

CHRIS HIPKINS, NEW ZEALAND PRIME MINISTER: This is the biggest privilege and the biggest responsibility of my life. I am energized and excited by

the challenge that lies ahead.

COREN (voice-over): The 44-year-old career politician, also known in parliament as Chippy, has been a close ally to Ardern, most notably taking

charge of the country's COVID-19 policies when the pandemic began.

His swearing-in also marks the end of an era for Ardern, whose poise and leadership were lauded far and wide.

JACINDA ARDERN, FORMER PRIME MINISTER OF NEW ZEALAND: I am determined to do things differently. I do think you can be both strong and compassionate.

I do think success is not just about economic but about your social indicators of success.

COREN: Ardern burst onto the global stage in 2017 as one of the world's youngest female leaders, known for taking her newborn to the U.N. General


ARDERN: I am by no means the first woman to multitask. And in terms of being a woman in politics, there are plenty of women who carved a path and

incrementally have led the way to be able to make it possible for people to look upon my time and leadership and think, yes, I can do the job and be a


COREN: She's an outspoken supporter of gender equality, gun control and fighting climate change.

In the end, she said she was tired and needed to step down. But her legacy won't be forgotten.

HIPKINS: Jacinda Ardern has been an incredible prime minister for New Zealand. She was the leader that we needed at the time that we needed it.

Jacinda provided, you know, calm, stable, reassuring leadership, which I hope to continue to do.

COREN: With elections less than a year away, Chris Hipkins has to prove he can keep the ruling Labour Party in power.

EVA MURPHY, NEW ZEALAND RESIDENT: He definitely has big shoes to fill. He won't ever fill the shoes that Jacinda has. And it'll be interesting to see

what Labour come out with in terms of the election campaign over the next year.

COREN (voice-over): Anna Coren, CNN, Hong Kong.


GIOKOS: Temperatures in China's Mohe city plunged to a record low this week, -53 degrees Celsius, the coldest ever recorded in a city known as

China's North Pole. It has warmed up since then, hovering around minus 30 Celsius right now. Still, it is so cold, officials expect a rare ice fog to


With droplets of water in the air freezing, forming a cloud of ice crystals. The cold snap in China comes only months after the country

experienced brutal record-setting heat waves and droughts.

Now a severe cold snap has caused hundreds of flight cancellations in Japan. The country's two biggest air carriers say around 9,000 travelers

are being affected. The travel mess is piling, up.

Japan's high speed rail service is also partially suspended due to heavy snow. As more severe weather warnings have been issued for the next few


Extreme weather, also impacting the United States, where a tornado watch is still in effect for parts of Alabama as well as Florida. Wind alerts remain

across 14 Southern states. Many people are thankful to be alive but waking up to mangled cars -- look at that -- missing roofs and more than 100,000

homes without power.

Intense storms tore through parts of Texas and Louisiana. The warnings and wind alerts are not over in the U.S.


GIOKOS: And a cold snap is hitting Japan.


GIOKOS: All right, game-changer or a first step?

Still ahead, will Western tanks fit into Ukraine's battle plans heading into spring?

And what Kyiv says it needs next.

And it looks like there may be a new bid to try to end the unrest raging across Peru. We have so much to bring you just ahead.





GIOKOS: Welcome back, I'm Eleni Giokos in Dubai, you're watching CONNECT THE WORLD.

Some of Germany's European neighbors are welcoming its decision to send battle tanks to Ukraine. The U.K. is calling it the right decision, while

Poland hailed it as, quote, "a big step toward stopping Russia."

The Russian ambassador to Germany, however, warns it takes the war to a new level. The Pentagon is also working on plans to send about 30 tanks to

Ukraine. That's according to two U.S. officials, talking with CNN.

The chief of staff for Ukraine's president called Germany's decision a first step but reminded world leaders, Ukraine needs a lot of tanks. And

that's not all Kyiv wants. As it says, Russia is gearing up for a spring offensive. CNN's Fred Pleitgen has the details.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): Even as fighting rages in Eastern Ukraine, Russian forces are making little


Vladimir Putin recently appointed his military chief, Valery Gerasimov, to lead the war in Ukraine, yet another reshuffle in the hierarchy. The deputy

head of Ukraine's defense intelligence tells me he believes

Putin realizes his entire command structure is in disarray.

VADYM SKIBITSKIY, UKRAINIAN DEPUTY HEAD OF DEFENSE INTELLIGENCE (through translator): He really does have problems with the command both at the top

level, the generals and at the bottom level of platoon or company commander. That issue is generally very problematic.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): Another problem: those marginal gains Russia is making come mostly from mercenaries of the Wagner private military company

around Bakhmut, where Wagner has been gaining ground while suffering severe losses themselves.

Wagner's boss, Yevgeny Prigozhin, has been highly critical of Russia's military leadership, calling them all but incompetent.

The Ukrainians say he's made plenty of enemies among the elites.

SKIBITSKIY (through translator): The leadership of the Russian armed forces are going to try to belittle Prigozhin's role and place however they

can, so he cannot strengthen his positions in the Kremlin hierarchy.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): While the Ukrainians try to hold on in Bakhmut, they say they urgently need Western-made battle tanks to take back more


ANDRIY MEINYK, UKRAINIAN DEPUTY FOREIGN AFFAIRS MINISTER: There are about 2,000 tanks available and even if each country would send 10 percent of

demand it will be a huge army, which would allow us to start this counteroffensive in spring.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): But the Ukrainians say just as critical are longer- range rockets from the U.S. to hit Russia's supply lines, something the U.S. is wary of giving them, for fear of escalating the conflict.

SKIBITSKIY (through translator): Right now, they have moved their logistics and control but mainly logistic systems, further away from the

front line and that's 80 to 100 to 120 kilometers away. And to strike them, you need longer-range strike systems.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): That would include targets on Russian territory to choke off any future offensive by Moscow forces.

SKIBITSKIY (through translator): There are strong logistics hubs in the Rostov region. It is these very hubs and they need to be struck in order to

disrupt the supply systems of all kinds.

PLEITGEN: For now, though, the Ukrainians certainly seem to be very happy with that decision by both the United States and Germany to send main

battle tanks to Ukraine.

In fact, the chief of staff of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy saying that he believes Western main battle tanks are --


PLEITGEN: -- as he puts it, democracy's punch against autocracy -- Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Kyiv.


GIOKOS: Just a short time ago, our international security editor, Nick Paton Walsh, published a fascinating piece on about why NATO

allies sending Ukraine these tanks represents a fierce new step by the West and how it may be shaking the walls of the Kremlin.

We'll be discussing all of this with Nick in the next hour, he'll be joining us on the show, do check out our website for that story.

In Peru, embattled president Dina Boluarte is calling for a national truce. This comes amid weeks of ongoing unrest in the country.


GIOKOS (voice-over): On Tuesday, police fired tear gas as protesters returned to the streets of the capital, Lima. They want President Boluarte

to step down. The anti government demonstrations kicked off in December after the ouster of then president Pedro Castillo, when he tried to

dissolve Congress.

That's when Castillo's vice president, Dina Boluarte, assumed power. Stefano Pozzebon joins us now from Bogota.

Protest action continues, calls for elections are getting louder.

Give me a sense of what is happening on the ground.

STEFANO POZZEBON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I think that the back and forth of the government and the protesters is continuing by the look of it. It's

destined to continue at least in the near future.

Yesterday Boluarte met the press. It was a rare occasion for journalists to ask questions. She did offer condolences and said she regretted the loss of

lives in a little over a month of protesting. Already 56 people have died.

But she also categorically excluded the possibility of leaving office and of calling an earlier general election. The general election is scheduled

for next year. Also she accused some fringes of the protesters of being terrorists, of trying to wreck the country into chaos.

And it's almost interesting to hear from the protesters as well, who yesterday again took to the streets of Lima to say to the president that is

nothing on case (ph).


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We are not terrorists. We are not criminals. We are farmers. We seek justice and peace in our country.


POZZEBON: The most worrying aspect of this back and forth, like I was saying, Eleni, is that it really seems to seem no light at the end of the

tunnel, with new protests scheduled today.

By day, Boluarte staying in and offering no -- calling for a truce but, at the same, time she's not ready to call for an earlier general election. She

has just passed the ball back to congress and says it's up to congress to decide whether new general, elections have to take place.

At the same time, these grievances from protesters, they go back decades. And so it really seems that a viable solution is still far, far away to

come. Eleni.

GIOKOS: Stefano Pozzebon, thank you very much for that update.

Still to come, the sweet taste of success. Novak Djokovic is counting down to the Australian Open finals. Not long to go, now and exciting times.

And now you see, it now you don't. Antarctica is missing something very valuable and scientists are very worried.





GIOKOS: A massive piece of an iceberg, roughly the size of greater London, has broken off from Antarctica's Brunt Ice Shelf. The satellite image shows

the part splitting away on Sunday.

The British Antarctic survey says cracks have been naturally developing across the ice shelf for at least decade now. There's been two major breaks

in the last two years. They say the breaking is not a result of climate change.

NASA has announced testing for potential nuclear rocket engine to get to Mars, the first test of a complete rocket engine could take place by 2027,

with a goal to quickly and safely get humans to the Red Planet.

Now the engine would need a nuclear reactor to heat up propellant and give a rocket the boost that it needs through space. The project is a

partnership with the research arm of the Pentagon.