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Putin Warns West at One Year of War on Ukraine; Biden to Speak on Ukraine from Poland; Iran's Detention and Torture Sites; Russian Crimes of Aggression and War Crimes Total 70,000+; U.S. Opposes Israel Advancing Settlement Units; Five Killed in Syria in Israeli Strikes. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired February 21, 2023 - 10:00   ET




BECKY ANDERSON, CNNI HOST: I'm Becky Anderson. Hello and welcome to CONNECT THE WORLD.

It is a day of clashing narratives. Earlier, Vladimir Putin spoke in Moscow on the state of his war in Ukraine. And in the next hour, Joe Biden is set

to take center stage in Poland to counteract the Kremlin and affirm Western values, his top aides say.

Ahead of the first anniversary of what Vladimir Putin calls Russia's "special military operation" in Ukraine, the Russian president announced a

short time ago that he is suspending Moscow's participation in what is known as the nuclear arms pact with the United States.

He's also pledging to strengthen his army, claiming the West wants to make the Ukrainian conflict wider and bigger.


VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA (through translator): The elite of the West do not conceal their ambitions, which is to strategically defeat

Russia, finish us off once and for all.


ANDERSON: Well, Ukraine is responding to Putin's state of the nation's speech, saying he was unable to declare victory, quote, "because there are

no victories," Kyiv's words.

Meanwhile, China's top diplomat is in Moscow. State media say he will meet with the Russian foreign minister on Wednesday, the first visit to the

country from a Chinese official since Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

And in just about 19 minutes, we should be hearing from the U.S. President Joe Biden. He'll be speaking from Poland, where he will meet with leaders

from NATO's eastern flank.

All of this comes off Mr. Biden's visit to Kyiv yesterday. He promised U.S. support as Ukrainians continue to defy Russia and promised another $0.5

billion in military aid.

A lot of developments, a lot of competing narratives here. CNN's Kaitlan Collins is in Warsaw, where it has been a busy day for everyone, not least

for Mr. Biden.

Let's start with this suspension and the participation of what's known as New START, what's been the response to this suspension of this nuclear

control treaty with the United States?

What has been the response from the Biden administration?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Really, they've been making two points when you ask officials for what their reaction was to

what Putin said.

One is that they didn't really think Russia was complying with it anyway. You know, these inspections have not happened because of COVID-19 and,

then, because of last year when Putin was launching his invasion of Ukraine. So they've made that argument.

But they've also said, you know, in the wider debate of him saying they're suspending their cooperation, there are questions, of course, of whether or

not Russia will formally pull out of this.

What does it look like when they're trying to renegotiate it in just a matter of years from now?

Those are the concerns they've raised, saying they believe his comments this morning during that lengthy speech were irresponsible, according to

the White House. They say they do stand ready to have these discussions, to talk to Russia about their concerns with this and to have those


But they're also dismissing what President Putin was saying earlier today, saying it's a lot of bluster; of course, given Russia wasn't really

complying with in the first place.

ANDERSON: Antony Blinken, U.S. secretary of state, Kaitlan, has described Russia's war with Ukraine as "a strategic failure in every way." Now that

is clearly not the way the Russian president laid it out in his speech earlier today. Joe Biden due to speak in about 19 minutes' time.

Is it clear what we can expect him to say later?

COLLINS: The White House has been clear to say this is not going to be some tit-for-tat, a direct rebuttal of what you heard from President Putin

in that speech earlier.

A lot of it mirrored what we heard from him before, no major new announcements that the White House had been watching closely for, to see if

there were going to be any big surprises at the end of that speech, as he's done with many others.

But they are going to be challenging Putin's overall assessment of what's happening in Ukraine, blaming the West for the war. The White House has

said that's nonsensical, saying that if Russia pulled out of -- its forces out of Ukraine tomorrow, the war would be over.

But if the West and other European allies stop supplying Ukraine with the weapons, with the humanitarian assistance, with the support they've been

doing so far, they believe Ukraine would disappear from the map.


COLLINS: Saying it's clearly Russia's aggression which is to blame here. So I think that will be the broader challenge that you hear from President

Biden in his speech, when he speaks in just a few moments.

Remember, this is the speech last year; about 11 months ago, he was here in Warsaw, at the same place, giving a similar speech, talking about America's

role in this but also Europe's role in maintaining this democracy versus autocracy that he says is playing out on the world stage.

At the end of that speech, Biden said, quote, "for God's sake, this man cannot remain in power." Raised all these questions about whether not he

was calling for regime change, something the White House later came back and said, that is not what they were saying.

Though Biden said he did not regret that remark but it just shows you, basically, these dueling styles of these two leaders and how they have

fundamentally different views of the world.

That is going to be on full display as President Biden is urging others to keep up their support for Ukraine, to not let it fledge (ph) or disappear,

saying just how important it is, not just for Ukraine but the entire world order really.

ANDERSON: Kaitlan, it is good to have you, it's five minutes past four in Warsaw, Poland. We're expecting to hear from the U.S. president there in

about less than 19 minutes' time. Thank you.

Mr. Putin and Mr. Biden are offering two competing world views, of course, as Kaitlan scored out there. What is certain is that the suffering of the

Ukrainian people is endless. What they have endured because of this war is indescribable.

Attention is beginning to turn to who is responsible and how they can be punished. Later this hour, we will be asking U.S. State Department's

ambassador for global criminal justice how accountability can and will be brought.

Well, over the past five months, thousands of Iranians have taken to the streets in protest across the country since the death of Mahsa Amini. The

young woman was arrested for not correctly wearing her head scarf in December.

A CNN investigation found evidence of a push by Iranian authorities to condemn and execute protesters using sham trials and forced confessions.

Now Iranian human rights organizations tell CNN at least 60 protesters were executed in January alone.

In a special report, CNN has found over 3 dozen black sites or illegal detention centers that Iran has used to mete out the worst, most barbaric

torture. CNN spoke with over 2 dozen survivors of these black sites. Their stories corroborated clear methodology of unprecedented torture.

CNN international investigative correspondent Nima Elbagir has this exclusive report. And I must warn you, that before we run this, you need to

be aware it contains graphic descriptions of torture and of sexual violence.


NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For the last six weeks, Kayvan Samadi has been on the run. Each night, he moves to

a different safe house.

Brutally tortured for 21 days at the hands of the Iranian regime, he is terrified they will find him. His crime: organizing medics to help wounded

protesters. But even with his fear of being tracked down, somebody who still wants to identify himself. He wants to show the regime that they did

not break him.

KAYVAN SAMADI, MEDICAL STUDENT AND HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST (through translator): I set up a group of underground medics. We treated around 700

people. The regime was committing war crimes, forbidding treatment of the injured. I promised my friends to fight for them.

ELBAGIR (voice-over): His friends, like so many Iranians, have been on the streets, protesting against the clerical regime that has, for so long,

dictated their lives. For his defiance, Samadi, a medical student, was picked up by Iranian security forces and brought to a black site, a

clandestine interrogation facility outside the rule of law.

Where many survivors tell CNN forced confessions are extracted through the most brutal of torture methods. These forced confessions have, at times,

been used in court to execute protesters for crimes against the state. Samadi refused to sign what he believed would be his death warrant.

SAMADI (through translator): Why should I have signed something that I hadn't done?

I am not a terrorist, not a murderer or a saboteur. I only saved lives, that is it. My team and I did nothing more.

ELBAGIR (voice-over): Unlike so many other victims of torture that CNN interviewed, Samadi was not blindfolded during his detention. Based on his

testimony, CNN commissioned the following images, to take you inside the ordeal that he and so many other Iranian protesters have been subjected to.


SAMADI (through translator): I was forced into a building hidden by trees, next to a girls' school.

On the first day, the two guards kicked me. I vomited blood. Each day, the torture got worse. There was a closet in the corner of the room, filled

with torture tools -- electric cattle prods, different cutters, some syringes.

They drugged me. They wanted me to stay alive longer, to torture me more. The guards started kissing me and licking my neck. They touched my genitals

and my buttocks. On day 16 of my arrest, I descended into hell.

They tied my hands and shackled my legs. They wanted to break me, to destroy me. They pulled my trousers down. I thought they were going to give

me an electric shock again. I couldn't believe they were going to do this.

He took the baton and went behind me. I was waiting to be beaten up. He kissed my neck and shoved the baton into my anus.

And he said, "this is what our soldiers of the revolution do to gay boys like you."

I was shocked and did not know what to do. I could not even scream. I was dumbstruck and just cried in silence.

ELBAGIR: I can see the dark circles around your eyes.

Do you sleep?

SAMADI: I'm sorry.

ELBAGIR: It's OK, it's OK.

ELBAGIR (voice-over): Samadi believes that if he had signed the false confession, as the guards wanted him to, then they would've hanged him for

treason. He doesn't know why his torturers released him. He thinks they wanted him to die on the streets, a chilling warning to others.

Based on his detailed eyewitness testimony and cross-referencing with satellite imagery, CNN has been able to locate the black site where he says

he was tortured, in his hometown of Azhnaviya (ph). These are the trees that hide the unnamed building he was brought into.

And this is the girls' school where he had children playing in the courtyard.

But this is not the only black site. Cross referencing testimony from over 2 dozen sources with satellite images, CNN found dozens of these black

sites which can be divided into two types, undeclared illegal jails inside government facilities, such as military bases and intelligence centers, and

makeshift clandestine jails that typically crop up temporarily near protest sites.

For instance, in this city, known for its religious pilgrimage sites, they've been using some mosques as detention centers, according to multiple

sources CNN spoke with. This pattern can be seen in different cities across the country.

In Sanandaj, we found at least six unofficial detention centers; Zahedan five and Tehran, the capital, where CNN was also able to locate eight

different pop-up torture sites.

After speaking to dozens of eyewitnesses who were tortured in these different unofficial detention centers, the barbaric treatment used on

Samadi was not unique. His experience tallies with other eyewitness testimony.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): Called me a slut, rubbed himself against me --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): -- naked with their hands tied.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): Humiliation ...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): -- videotaping us --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): -- no choice but to confess.

ELBAGIR (voice-over): In total, CNN located over 3 dozen clandestine jails across the country. It paints a picture of a regime meting out torture on

an industrial scale, designed to crush an uprising that has posed the biggest existential threat to the regime in decades.

These are photos of just some of the protesters that state hospital physician Dr. Mohsen Sohrabi and his colleagues treated in the city of

Sanandaj, a major flashpoint in the crackdown of the uprising. It was an illegal act, according to the Iranian regime.

For that, he, too, was brought to a black site and tortured.

DR. MOHSEN SOHRABI, STATE HOSPITAL PHYSICIAN (through translator): They are a power in and of themselves. They don't follow any kind of human

rights, there is no supervision.

What kind of supervision do you have to have when people are being raped?

They don't have any moral boundaries. They just want you to confess so they can prosecute you.

ELBAGIR (voice-over): Dr. Sohrabi is also now in hiding.

ELBAGIR: You have had to risk so much just to do your job.

SOHRABI: (Speaking foreign language) --

SOHRABI (through translator): If I cry, it is not because I fear the Islamic Republic. It's not because of what I have lost. It is for the

cruelty that people in Iran are facing.

ELBAGIR (voice-over): Even as evidence of torture on an industrial scale points to desperation of the regime, Iran's young protesters are equally

defiant, even in the face of the unimaginable: torture and death.


ANDERSON: Chief international investigative correspondent Nima Elbagir joins me now from London.


ANDERSON: What does this mean, Nima?

ELBAGIR: Becky, I think it speaks really to the existential threat that these protests clearly are viewed as by Iranian authorities, by the regime.

We, of course, reached out to Iranian authorities to include their comment on our findings and we did not receive any response.

But we did receive a response from the U.S. State Department, who said -- and this is very interesting, Becky -- that they are -- this is directly in

response to the findings in this report -- that they are coordinating with allies to ensure that Iranian authorities will be held accountable.

And that goes back really to the crux of this, which is that the regime that Iran's authorities feel that this is an existential threat, that this

is something that strikes fear right at the heart of the continuation of the existence of the regime.

And that's why you see them offsiting much of the worst of the torture, much of the worst of the interrogation because they really feel that

concerned about the threat that these protesters -- these protesters who continue to be defiant, Becky -- the threat that they pose to the regime.

ANDERSON: Nima, thank you to you and your team.

A lot more about these secret detention and torture locations in a special interactive report on the website. There you will also find in-depth

information about these black sites and what happens there. You will find a link to that on the front page of

You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. Coming up after the break, after the U.S. accuses Russia of crimes against humanity, it will be asking how

justice can be brought to those responsible.

And some 75,000 people took to the streets of Jerusalem on Monday against judicial reforms. But it did not slow the Knesset down. That story is

coming up.




ANDERSON: This week marks one year on from the start of Russia's war in Ukraine. In a clash of world views, Russia's president addressed his nation

earlier today, Vladimir Putin blaming the war on Western nations.

Next hour, U.S. President Joe Biden will speak from Warsaw in Poland a day after his surprise visit to Kyiv. Well, as geopolitical tectonic plates

continue to shift, frankly, they are shattering the lives of those caught in the fault lines. More than 8,000 Ukrainian civilians killed.


ANDERSON: Nearly 6 million displaced within the country. And, shockingly, more than 8 million Ukrainian refugees now spread across Europe, all

running from the tremors of a war machine.

Evidenced by atrocities such as the Bucha massacre, the Mariupol theater bombing, the strike on the Zaporizhzhya maternity hospital, these are

images you see here, detailing how they have stuck in our memory.

Well, in light of those events, the United States earlier this week declared that Russia has committed crimes against humanity during the war.

My next guest is U.S. State Department's ambassador for global criminal justice.

She said, and I quote her here, "Putin's crimes against Ukrainian civilians are widespread and systematic."

Beth Van Schaack -- apologies -- joins me now via Skype.

Apologies for mispronouncing your name. I mention Bucha just now, one of the most horrific incidents in this war and one that shocked the world,

only weeks into the start of this war. We are now a year on.

In these images, you can see some of the mass graves and damage to the town here. Russia has denied these allegations. But I want you to give me a

sense of scale here.

What are we talking about as far as your investigations have turned up?


You know, when the conflict restarted in February of last year, we focused very much on what looked like deliberate, disproportionate and

indiscriminate attacks against elements of the civilian infrastructure.

Basically lobbing of missiles across an international border, focused on maternity hospitals, train stations where people were evacuating, et


But then, as investigators, journalists, human rights advocates got access to areas that had been under Russian occupation or control, we saw violence

of a different order. This was interpersonal violence.

This was evidence of individuals being shot, execution style, with their hands tied behind their back; evidence of clandestine torture chambers,

where people were subjected to beatings, electrocution, et cetera; incredible reports of sexual violence against women and girls but also men

and boys.

So this is what we are talking about when we see the torture being committed by Russia's forces against ordinary Ukrainians. And it's on a

terrible scale. The prosecutor general has recorded over now 70,000 incidents of potential war crimes and other atrocities.

And all of these are being subject now to investigation and eventual prosecution.

ANDERSON: Just today, Human Rights Watch said that Russia's cluster munitions strike on a Kramatorsk train station in April last year -- and

some of our viewers will remember that -- was, and I quote them here, "in violation of the laws of war."

I have got video here of the aftermath of that attack. And I have to warn our viewers, is it is graphic. This attack killed dozens of civilians.

Are the use of cluster munitions, which is prohibited by some treaties, part of your investigations?

VAN SCHAACK: Indeed. There are certain narrow circumstances when it may be permissible to utilize cluster munitions. This is, for example, if a

belligerent (ph) is trying to destroy a military airfield or, for example, an aircraft carrier at sea, that's a pure military objective.

But one would never, ever utilize cluster munitions within an urban area, where there is a high concentration of civilians. This was a train station

that was a very well-known evacuation site; thousands of individuals, who are transitioning through this town in an effort to escape the fighting


And so the fact that ammunition with such wide area effects was used in such a densely populated area, full of fleeing civilians, is really


ANDERSON: According to the Ukrainian prosecutor general, more than 70,000 war crimes have been logged. You put the number at a similar-- on a similar

figure. Your gathering of evidence is ongoing.

What happens when that evidence starts to mount up and is proved?

What actually happens next?

Lay out the tools for me.

VAN SCHAACK: Well, there are three, now, pathways to justice. The first is the prosecutor general himself and his team on the ground in Ukraine.

Ukrainian courts are open and operating. They are pressing charges. They're bringing cases.

They're producing judgments and verdicts against Russian perpetrators, who have been found guilty.

The second pathway is the International Criminal Court, which has seized of Ukraine matter, because Ukraine has consented to jurisdiction before the



VAN SCHAACK: And the third pathway are courts in third states; for example, in Europe, where European prosecutors and legal authorities are

increasingly united under a joint investigative team.

Congress, here in the United States, recently expanded the U.S. war crimes statute to enable U.S. courts, the Department of Justice, to prosecute war

criminals, so long as they are found in the United States, regardless of the nationality of the perpetrator or victim.

So those are the three pathways we have. And they're all operating as we speak.

ANDERSON: I want to just remind our viewers of the quote that I used ahead of our interview.

You said, and I quote you here, "Putin's crimes against Ukrainian civilians are widespread and systematic."

"Putin's crimes," you said, "are widespread and systematic."

Should he, do you have evidence that he can be held to account himself?

VAN SCHAACK: This standard of widespread and systematic is a key predicate to finding the crime of crimes against humanity. These are a consolidation

(ph) of acts that are made criminal under international law when they're committed as part of a widespread or a systematic attack against a civilian


And here we see both. We see crimes, literally everywhere, that Russia's troops have been deployed but also we're seeing patterns of abuses, the

same types of abuses happening in multiple areas, where different battalions and leaders are operating.

And this suggests that responsibility goes up the chain of command.

The doctrine of superior responsibility enables prosecutors to reach those most senior figures, who knew or should have known that their subordinates

were committing abuses and who failed to take the necessary steps to either prevent them up front or to investigate and prosecute after the fact.

So I have no doubt that responsibility here goes all the way to the top.

ANDERSON: Beth Van Schaack, I thank you very much indeed for joining us.

VAN SCHAACK: Thank you for covering this.

ANDERSON: Nearly a year on -- thank you -- in this war in Ukraine.

You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. Coming up, Benjamin Netanyahu facing backlash on settlements and judicial reforms from Israel's strongest ally.

We'll talk to the U.S. former ambassador to Israel after this short break. Stay with us.




ANDERSON: Welcome back. I'm Becky Anderson in Abu Dhabi, the time is half past 7:00. You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD.

A lot of activity today related to Russia's war on Ukraine. I want to just get you the top lines on this.


ANDERSON: In his state of the nation speech a few hours ago, Russian president Vladimir Putin announced that Moscow is suspending its

participation in what is known as the New START. That is the only remaining nuclear arms pact with the United States.

Under that agreement, both countries were allowed to inspect each other's weapons sites. Putin also outlined justifications for his war on Ukraine

and he pledged to strengthen Russia's army.

U.S. President Joe Biden is in Warsaw, as we speak, meeting with the Polish president there. In the next hour, Mr. Biden is due to deliver a speech,

where he is expected to rally support for Ukraine, ahead of what is the first anniversary of Russia's invasion. More on that as we get it.

And we will, of course, bring you Joe Biden's speech as soon as he starts. Expecting that about an hour from now.

Meantime, in Israel, prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu is accusing protesters of trampling on democracy. Tens of thousands took to the streets

of Jerusalem Monday in defiance of reforms that will greatly weaken the power of Israel's judiciary.

Protests have been going on for months. But early this morning, Israel's parliament passed the first reading of this set of bills. The bills will

need to pass three readings to become law.

Martin Indyk is the former U.S. ambassador to Israel. He served as a special envoy for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. He joins me now from

New York.

Thank you, sir. It is a busy day but I'm so pleased we get to have you on to discuss this. It's so important. Let's walk through these bills, most

significantly setting out or allowing for the simple majority in the Knesset to strike down supreme court rulings, giving the ruling party an

incredible amount of power.

Also changes the way judges are selected and removes independent legal advisers to the government. Their opinions are binding.

How significant is this and how concerned are you?

MARTIN INDYK, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO ISRAEL: Very concerned, Becky. Thank you for having me on.

I think that it is a clear assault on the independence of the Israeli supreme court, of the Israeli judiciary.

And since the parliament, the Knesset and the executive branch -- prime minister, essentially -- are of one, prime minister controls the

parliament, taking away the independence of the judiciary, essentially gives the majority complete rule and takes away the ability of the courts

to protect minority rights in Israel.

ANDERSON: Right. So Benjamin Netanyahu accuses protesters, demanding that this stop, of trampling on democracy.

What do you make of that?

INDYK: Well, he's always good at turning the words around. But in fact, his minister of justice is the one that's trampling on democracy, not only

by pushing through these illiberal democratic reforms but also doing so in defiance of President Herzog's call for an effort to achieve consensus, a

call that's been backed up by President Biden.

They are steamrolling this through. So If there's any trampling going on, I think it's more apt to say that that is coming from Netanyahu's government.

ANDERSON: The U.S. is going to have to work out how it deals with this legislation, if, indeed, it gets passed. And this is happening against the

backdrop of Israel announcing it will legalize nine Jewish settler outposts.

Yesterday, the U.N. Security Council approved what is known as a presidential statement of concern and dismay on this. This is U.S.

ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield. Have a listen.


LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD, AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: These unilateral measures exacerbate tensions. They harm trust between the parties. They undermine

the prospects for a negotiated two-state solution. The United States does not support these actions, full stop.


ANDERSON: This is the first action, as I understand it, that the U.S. has allowed the body to take against Israel in six years. These settlements,

along with these judicial reforms that we have been talking about, will be causing the United States, not least the Biden administration, an awful lot

of concern.

The question is, what sort of pressure is the U.S. putting on this new Israeli government at this point?

How difficult is this for the U.S.?


INDYK: Well, this is the first time in six years that an Israeli government has taken such broadbased action to legitimize illegal outposts

-- they are illegal under Israeli law -- and to announce 10,000 new settlement units in the West Bank.

The most that previous governments, including the Netanyahu government, announced under the Trump administration, which was basically writing

Netanyahu a blank check in those days, were 6,000. So this is profound and far-reaching. And that's why it ended up in the Security Council.

It did not end up in the resolution. And the United States headed off a resolution because it didn't want to be put in the position of having to

veto its own (ph) policy of opposition to these settlement activities.

And instead, it worked out a deal, which will involve, I believe, the president of the Palestinian Authority, Abu Mazen, coming to Washington on

an official visit and a variety of other steps, including an assurance from Netanyahu that his government won't attempt to legalize more of the 100 or

so illegal outposts.

So this was a kind of compromise worked out by secretary of state Blinken to try to head this issue off when, obviously, the United States has much

more important fish to fry when it comes to Ukraine and the president's visit to Ukraine and Poland today.

ANDERSON: Sure. And we're keeping one eye on what is going on there, of course, and we are expecting a speech by Joe Biden in just less than an

hour's time in Warsaw in Poland.

Viewers, please stay with us for that.

I want to run something past you here. The Jewish journalist and political commentator, Peter Beinart, writes that the protest movement in Israel at

present is not about democracy because, and I quote him here, "democracy means government by the people. Jewish statehood means government by Jews.

"In a country where Jews compromise (sic) only half of the people between the Jordan River and Mediterranean Sea, the second imperative devours the


Martin, what do you make of that argument?

INDYK: Well, there is a growing tension between Israel's Jewish nature and its democratic nature. Israel prides itself on being a Jewish and

democratic state.

But as the occupation of the West Bank continues, the demographic changes result in which, if you take the area that Israel controls from the Jordan

River to the sea, Jews are becoming a minority there.

They're probably a little bit more than 50 percent at this point. Of course, the 2.5 million Palestinians in the West Bank are under military

occupation. They are not citizens of Israel.

But I think the point that Beinart makes is that the distinction is increasingly blurred, especially as the Netanyahu government seeks to de

facto annex the West Bank territories.

And so, as Palestinians become more and more a part of greater Israel, Israel Jews in Israel become less and less of a majority. And at a certain

point, very soon, they will be a minority. And that raises the question about whether Israel can continue as a democracy, if it wants to continue

as a Jewish state, given that minority status.

ANDERSON: Must have --

I just want to run this past you, we have got 60 seconds, so forgive me, a very short answer, if you will.

Over the weekend, five Syrians killed in residential areas in Damascus in what was an alleged Israeli strike. Israel hasn't commented.

What do you make of the timing?

INDYK: Well, Israel's been conducting what they call a kinetic war between the wars (ph) in Syria in particular, occasionally in Iraq but mostly in

Syria, where there are these strikes by the Israeli air force on a pretty regular basis.

The focus is on Iran and its proxy, Hezbollah, and some other Iranian controlled militias, that are trying to establish a foothold close to the

border with Israel in Syrian territory.


INDYK: And I think more importantly, trying to ship advanced missiles with GPS guidance from Iran, across Iraq, into Syria and then into Lebanon, into

the hands of Hezbollah in Lebanon, where they already have something like 150,000 rockets.

But they're not accurate in the ones that they're now smuggling. modeling. So this has been an ongoing engagement, one, by the way, that the Russians,

who essentially control the airspace in Syria, have turned a blind eye to, as Israel attacks there (ph).

And that, for that reason, Israel is reluctant to come to the aid of Ukraine, even under pressure from the United States, because of its concern

that Russia would try to block its strikes in Syria.

ANDERSON: Martin, I challenge you regularly to work a narrative that is within a specific timeframe for the benefit of our viewers. I know that we

could talk at length -- and we will at a later date -- about what is going on. But I very much appreciate your thoughts, your time, your analysis and

of course your insight, sir, always a pleasure. Thank you very much indeed.

INDYK: Thank, you Becky.