Return to Transcripts main page

Connect the World

Putin and Xi Hold Second Day of Talks; Banking Crisis; Israeli Minister States "No Such Thing as Palestinian People"; Russian Attack on Motorists; Jordan Summons Israeli Ambassador over Smotrich; Saudi Arabia Frees Saudi American Dual National. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired March 21, 2023 - 10:00   ET




BECKY ANDERSON, CNN HOST (voice-over): I'm Becky Anderson, live from Abu Dhabi, this is CONNECT THE WORLD.

Coming up this hour. Russia rolls out the red carpet for Xi Jinping.

New York City braces for trouble over a potential indictment of Donald Trump.

A damning report finds that the London Met Police have a culture of racism, misogyny and homophobia.

And Novak Djokovic tells me that he has no regrets over withdrawing from the Miami Open.


ANDERSON: Well, it's all about the optics in Moscow, kicking off day two with a grand entrance during Xi Jinping's state visit to Russia. The

Chinese president and the Russian president Vladimir Putin, walking the red carpet before greeting each other in the Kremlin and sitting down for

formal talks.

Earlier, Russian state media reported president Xi invited Putin to visit China at the time of his choosing. Will Ripley watching developments for us

from Taipei.

What have we learned?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, visually, you can just see the similarities, Becky, between these two men, between their

systems. The Communist Party is all about these stage managed lavish events.

And that's exactly what Vladimir Putin is giving Xi Jinping right now in Moscow. At the Kremlin. In these larger than life spaces that are so

typical of these Socialist nations.

I've seen similar spaces in North Korea and Putin will certainly see a lavish welcome when he decides to visit Beijing, which is a sign that these

hours of talks, 4.5 hours yesterday, more official talks and then eventually document signings happening both today and tomorrow.

But at the end of the day, what connects these two men -- remember, Putin has been under fire with war crimes charges. He's a global pariah, his

country is so heavily sanctioned by the West.

But the person and the country protecting Putin's Russia from instability economically, certainly, is China. In terms of helping to support the

Russian economy by buying oil, by possibly selling Russia these high tech microchips that the West won't sell because there are fears that they could

be put to military use.

And if China, even just Xi showing up, by the way, is a sign of support after this unprecedented third presidential term, the Chinese leader, the

most powerful since Mao, choosing to spend his first foreign trip with Vladimir Putin.

It shows that what Xi wants from Putin is a stable Russia that can be used to counterbalance the United States and also support from Russia down the

road if and when Xi decides to fulfill his own ambitions for Taiwan.

This could (ph) democracy where I am right now. So we have these two authoritarian strongmen, one waging a war against democracy as we speak,

getting support from China, while China claims to be neutral, offering a peace plan that would have Ukraine, not only give up the territory that

Russia stole but also potentially, pull back NATO from the eastern borders and bringing in contractors from China potentially to do the


That's the option that Ukraine has from Xi Jinping; whereas Xi Jinping is giving Vladimir Putin basically praise, validation and legitimacy at a time

that he needs it.

ANDERSON: And more on the significance of what we are seeing in Moscow and the potential consequences coming up later in the show. Will, thank you.

As Xi Jinping continues his visit to Russia, Ukraine getting its own show of support from another important Asian leader. This is the Japanese prime

minister arriving in Kyiv on an unannounced visit from Poland.

He stopped in Bucha, where Russians are accused of a massacre. He's expected to meet with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy in what Kyiv

is calling, quote, "a sign of solidarity and strong cooperation."

"We've got your back," Janet Yellen's message to American depositors as the U.S. Treasury set the receipts (ph) to protect parts of the country's

banking system. Speaking this hour to American bankers, Yellen argues that the U.S. government's decisive and forceful actions -- her words -- have

successfully calmed the crisis.

Investors the world over are watching the Federal Reserve's two-day meeting, which just got underway.


ANDERSON: Here is how European and U.S. stock markets are faring as we speak. I want to bring in CNN's Julia Chatterley, live from New York.

Janet Yellen certainly believes that the action to date has had a calming effect on these markets and looking at them and where they stand today,

certainly, we are seeing a relatively calm picture.

The question is, what happens next?

JULIA CHATTERLEY, CNN ANCHOR: It's a great question. I would expect nothing less actually from Janet Yellen. She's talking as we speak to a

roomful of bankers -- but really she's talking to depositors to say, look, this is as close as I'm going to give you to an explicit guarantee.

Even if you have more than $250,000 in a bank in the United States -- and it's a little bank, let's be clear -- your money is safe. They're sending

this message of confidence and, as you can see, it's working.

The weakest link is First Republic Bank and even that share price is rising today. Those talks now, rather than just dumping deposits into this bank to

shore it up, there could be a capital injection which just means again providing them more support to keep them viable as a bank.

So she's going to say today, look, we've done a lot of steps; we've acted forcefully and fast. And she's quite right. The timing is also important,

as you said, because this is the first day of a two-day Federal Reserve meeting.

And the Federal Reserve now has to decide what to do about continuing to push and fight and bring down inflation or perhaps taking a pause and just

seeing how things land. And hopefully, we see some of this calm that we've seen return to financial markets and to stock markets in particular,


I was thinking about it in movie terms actually. I think not cutting rates tomorrow is a case of "What Lies Beneath" and perhaps could make people


Half a percentage point could err on the side of perhaps "Clueless" or "Looney Tunes" and the market saying a quarter of a percentage point hike -

- and I'd agree with them -- "Sense and Sensibility."

How about that?

ANDERSON: Ooh, listen to you, well done, you. You caught me off guard. I'll come back to you next hour perhaps with the retort on that. Well done

you. Julia, always a pleasure, thank you.

Right now police across New York City and Washington, D.C., are on high alert. They are preparing for possible protests after former president U.S.

Donald Trump called on supporters to, quote, "take back our nation."

Security fences going up around the Manhattan district attorney's office and the U.S. Capitol today. It's the day that Mr. Trump claimed that he

would be arrested in connection with a hush money investigation. Senior legal affairs correspondent, Paula Reid, following the very latest.

Paula, do we have any indication that this could actually happen today?

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: No, quite the contrary. We're hearing from our sources that nothing is expected to happen

today. What's not clear at this point is, whether the grand jury, hearing evidence, will hear from any additional witnesses.

And then if they have no more witnesses, it's also unclear when they would vote on a possible indictment.

Now for ordinary defendants -- and the DA's office has said if there is an indictment, they want to treat the former president the same way they treat

anyone else. An indictment is voted out of a grand jury; it's put under seal and then defense attorneys are notified that an indictment has been


And the prosecutors and defense attorneys work out a self surrender and an initial appearance. I've learned in speaking with sources and the former

president's team that he would surrender if he is charged.

But at this point, they don't expect any arrest or initial appearance to happen until next week. That's a big "if" there is even an indictment this


The former president was speculating that he would be arrested today, even though his own team said they had no reason to believe that. They hadn't

received any information that would support that.

But in the same post, he was also calling on his supporters to protest and in between Truth Social posts, he was fundraising. So he really believes

that all of this will help him politically.

ANDERSON: Paula Reid is on the story, Paula, thank you.

These are your headlines. The Israeli parliament has repealed a 2005 law that prevents Israelis from building settlements in the northern West Bank.

Settler activists cheered outside of the Knesset when that law was repealed. But being repealed does not mean new Israeli settlements will be

built right away. The military must approve any new settlements in the occupied territories.

Meanwhile, there is anger and condemnation after Israel's finance minister gave a speech in which he said Palestinian people are a made-up group that

was only invented as a counter to the notion of a Jewish state.

To add insult to injury, he made those comments while standing in front of a map of Israel that appeared to annex portions of Jordan. CNN's Hadas Gold

with the story.


HADAS GOLD, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Becky, one of Israel's top government ministers, Bezalel Smotrich, once again causing a diplomatic


While speaking in Paris at a memorial service for a right-wing activist and former executive of the World Zionist Organization, Smotrich not only

claimed that there is no such thing as a Palestinian identity, claiming it was invented in the past century, in response to the creation of Israel.

But also on the podium was a flag that appears to show an extended map of Israel that included Gaza, the occupied West Bank and parts of Jordan.

The remarks about Palestinians and that image of a senior Israeli minister, speaking alongside that extended map, drew swift combination from the

Americans, the Europeans and Emirati Saudis and, of course, the Jordanians, who summoned Israel's ambassador in Amman.


AYMAN SAFADI, JORDANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): The Israeli government should say clearly that this minister's comments do not

represent it. I saw the statements already made by the government that pointed to their position on this.

But we continue to follow up to make sure that we sent a clear message on our stance.


GOLD: Now without directly disavowing Smotrich, the Israeli national security adviser Tzachi Hanegbi said he called the Jordanian foreign

minister and assured him, quote, "of "the commitment the Israeli government has to uphold the peace treaty between the two countries."

The relationship between Israel and Jordan, who signed a peace treaty in 1994, is very important. But it can often be tense. The Jordanian kingdom

is the traditional custodian of the holy sites in Jerusalem, which is often the site of clashes between Palestinians and Israeli police.

Smotrich's comments actually also came on the same day that Israelis and Palestinians were holding a summit attended alongside the Americans,

Egyptians and Jordanians, Sharm El Sheikh, a meeting that was meant to try and help calm tensions ahead of the upcoming Ramadan and Passover holidays.

But clearly other elements of the Israeli government, like Bezalel Smotrich, seem to be doing the opposite -- Becky.

ANDERSON: That's Hadas Gold, reporting for you.

These are just the latest controversial and potentially explosive lines regarding the most right-wing government in Israeli history.

Next hour, I'll discuss all of this with the former intelligence chief for the Israeli military. You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD, I'm Becky

Anderson. Coming up:


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have no regrets, I've learned through life that regrets only hold you back.

ANDERSON: We'll be speaking with one of the world's greatest tennis players about another missed tournament. That after this.








ANDERSON: To the battlefield in Ukraine now, have a look at this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking foreign language).

ANDERSON (voice-over): Ukraine says this is a strike on a train in Russian occupied Crimea. And officials say it blew up a shipment of Russian cruise

missiles but fell short of saying that Kyiv was responsible.

The heaviest action remains in Eastern Ukraine, where the military says some regions are getting pummeled with hundreds of strikes a day.


ANDERSON: Meantime, police now say that an attack in Eastern Ukraine last June was a crime. CNN's Ivan Watson is in Kharkiv with more.


ANDERSON: Ivan, on that, just explain.

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Sure. Today the United Nations put out statistics. It estimates more than 8,300 civilians

have been killed since Russia launched its invasion in February 2022.

Since the first 19 days of this month alone, at least 113 civilians killed and 356 injured. The U.N. estimates that number is actually probably much

higher. We got a rare look at one of these incidents in which a civilian was terribly injured by this Russian invasion.


WATSON (voice-over): From a battlefield in eastern Ukraine, a desperate call for help as a Ukrainian woman pleads for her wounded husband's.

Footage from last June shows the moment when a Ukrainian couple took a wrong turn toward an active front line.

Their car came under fire from nearby Russian forces, badly wounding the driver, Valeria Ponomarova's husband.

VALERIA PONOMAROVA, ANDRII'S WIFE (through translator): I saw his head was injured and immediately began to bandage his head.

WATSON (voice-over): The incident captured on video by a drone piloted by Ukrainian soldiers and later compiled into a documentary by the Ukrainian

director Lyubomyr Levytsky.

PONOMAROVA (through translator): I turned it fell on my knees and just screamed with the most agonizing cry. I didn't know whose drone it was, our

forces or the enemy.

WATSON (voice-over): The pilot taped a sign saying, follow me on his drone and directed Ponomarova to safety. She made the agonizing decision to leave

her wounded husband behind. As she followed the drone, Russian soldiers emerged to approach her car.

They took her husband, Andrii, and dumped him in a ditch.

(on-camera): This is the intersection where that terrible shooting took place in June. The Ukrainian military subsequently liberated the area,

allowing Ukrainian police to come in and launch an investigation into an alleged Russian war crime.

(voice-over): Ukrainian police investigator Serhii Bolvinov says he has gathered evidence to accuse a 26-year-old Russian army officer of the war

crime of attempted murder of a civilian.

SERHII BOLVINOV, KHARKIV POLICE (through translator): He is a company commander of the Second Motorized Rifle Division, First Tank Army, Western

Military District. We established his identity.

WATSON (voice-over): For police to work here, sappers first had to clear the area of landmines. Then police conducted forensic and ballistic

analysis of the crime scene.

(on-camera): Ukrainian police say the Russian troops were stationed here on this side of this wall and it's from here that they opened fire on the


(voice-over): Inspector Bolvinov shows me what he says are incriminating telephone intercepts of their chief suspect calling his wife.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I fucking killed a man today.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): You did?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): What man?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I don't fucking know. I don't know who the fuck he is.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Was it a (INAUDIBLE)?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Huh?

Yes, yes, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): What, did he go where he wasn't supposed to or what?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Anyway, the car was coming and I hit it with a 30 millimeter fucking BMP and there were women there.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Hmm.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The woman survived and the fucking man didn't.

WATSON (voice-over): Ukrainian police say the weapon was a 30 millimeter cannon aboard this type of infantry fighting vehicle. Police say they've

also tracked down photos of the officer and his wife from their social media accounts.

On that dark day, Valeria Ponomarova followed the drone to safety, stepping around deadly landmines until a Ukrainian soldier met her. It was too

dangerous for troops to retrieve Andrii Bohomaz.

(on-camera): Is this where they brought the victim, the Russian soldiers?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking foreign language).

WATSON (voice-over): But that's not the end of Andrii's story. Miraculously, he somehow survived after spending the night badly wounded in

the ditch.

ANDRII BOHOMAZ, SHOOTING VICTIM: I felt being fallen. I looked around and realized I was lying in some kind of a ditch.

WATSON (voice-over): The next day, he limped to safety. It took 30 or 40 minutes. I stopped a lot because I was in a lot of pain.

Andrii is still in treatment for multiple shrapnel wounds to the head, chest and spine. The alleged attempted murder of a Ukrainian civilian at

these crossroads, just one of hundreds of potential war crime cases being investigated by police in Ukraine's Kharkiv region.


WATSON: But it's perhaps the only incident that has been so incredibly well documented.


ANDERSON: Let's get you to Moscow now. President Putin speaking about enhanced cooperation with China on what is the second day of the Chinese

president's state visit to Russia. Let's listen in.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA (through translator): 6,500 Russian students studied in Chinese universities in 2022. And some over 1,000

physically in China. Others remotely. Over 77,000 of Chinese students studied in Russia.

Now that the COVID restrictions are over, we expect an increase in this area. Exchanges in sports sold more than more than 100 of events,

particularly significant are these sporting links that now, that the Olympic movement is becoming ever more politicized and Western countries

are trying to use sports for ignoble reasons, as an instrument of pressure.

We support the work to create a sporting association as part of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. I am certain that our multifaceted and

mutually beneficial cooperation will continue to strengthen and develop dynamically for the benefit of our countries.

And now, I am pleased to give the floor to our guest and friend, Mr. Xi Jinping, the chairman of the People's Republic of China.

XI JINPING, PRESIDENT OF CHINA (through translator): Honorable President Putin, once again, I wish to thank you for inviting me to visit Russia.

Under the hard work on both sides, China-Russia relationship has been maintaining healthy and steady development trend.

We trust each other and our interests are intertwined and our relationship is solidified. Economic trade, energy, human to human cooperation has been

kept developing. And regional cooperation has been developing as well.

Last night and this morning and just now, we had indepth exchange. Our cooperation areas are keeps expanding and the mutual understanding, mutual

consensus are deepening.

And also we have gone through the initial cooperation and there will be room for further cooperation, like Mr. President Putin just mentioned now.

And this year will be the first year, where -- the first year to promote and to implicate -- implement the 20th conference, 20th People's Conference


And we will be deepening our modernization in China and in Russia. You are pushing your 2030 development target as well. On both sides, we have

enhanced our cooperation and have been more close cooperation to promote our cooperation to a new level, an even bigger level.

And I wish to work together, Mr. president, to plan our indepth cooperation and to promote our prosperity together. That's what I want to say (ph),

thank you.

ANDERSON: All right, well, that is the Chinese president, speaking at the formal meeting, it seems. Both delegations, the Chinese delegation at the

Kremlin there for a formal meeting with President Putin and his team.

This is a second day of what is a statement by the Chinese president to Moscow and both parties there speaking about their enhanced cooperation as,

of course, the war in Ukraine rages on.


ANDERSON: We are going to take a very short break. Back after this.




ANDERSON (voice-over): Welcome back, I'm Becky Anderson in Abu Dhabi, you are watching CONNECT THE WORLD. The time here is just after 6:00 in the

evening. Your headlines this hour.

Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin walked the red carpet as they greeted each other in the Kremlin. There are talks today largely focused on security and

trade. I comments just a short time ago, both leaders stressed their countries mutual cooperation.

Earlier, Russian state media reported that the President Xi invited Putin to visit China at a time of his choosing.

Well, could Jinping's next conversation be with Ukraine?

An officials there tells CNN that talks are underway for a phone call between the Chinese leader and the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr

Zelenskyy. The call would focus on China's peace proposal for Ukraine.

However, the official adds nothing concrete has been scheduled.

Jordan has summoned the Israeli ambassador to Amman to protest an expanded map that appeared to show portions of Jordan and the Palestinian

Territories as part of Israel.

This map was displayed at the same event where Israel's far right finance minister said the idea of a Palestinian people are being invented to

counter the Zionist movement. And the UAE is joining the long list of nations condemning those comments by Bezalel Smotrich.

ANDERSON: Let's get you our international diplomatic editor, Nic Robertson, joining me from London on the story of the hour.

Which is out of the grand Kremlin palace, Nic, where we have just heard from both the Russian and the Chinese president, expressing sort of

admiration for each other and much talk of mutual cooperation. Let's talk about these significance of what we are seeing at the Kremlin today.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: It's significant because this props up President Putin at a time of need. He needs to find

ways to continue to finance the war in Ukraine.

And he doesn't need friends that are going to tell him that, if you want that money, you need to stop the war. President Xi comes to town as that

big partner, as the one who says, I have a peace plan over Ukraine.

But that peace plan certainly doesn't fit Ukraine's demands and that of its allies, that Russia retreat to beyond, outside of Ukraine borders; that

Russia's war was a war of unprovoked aggression. It doesn't get into any of that.


ROBERTSON: Xi, as we've seen before, when Russia has a time of need -- and this is going back to the international sanctions put on Russia back in --

following its invasion of Ukraine in 2014 -- Xi go some very good economic deals with Russia.

Again, Putin needed the money; China got cheaper oil than it might have done at another time. A big deal at the time. So while both nations are

talking about close to $200 billion worth of trade between the two countries at the moment, this is a deal and the situation that fits Xi

better than it does Putin.

Putin is the needy one. But where they both align is sending a message that autocracies, leaders like them, will, do plan to shape the coming world

order, the world order, the post WWII world order is in somewhat in a shambles at the moment.

And they believe that their project, their views, are the ones that are going to bear fruit. And they tell their people that they actually do

uphold international law. That's not something that's seen in the West at all. So this is the positioning, I think, that we're seeing right here in

the Kremlin.

ANDERSON: How important will any conversation with the Ukrainian president -- or indeed any visit to Kyiv -- and we're not sure if whether either of

those are going to come to life -- but should there be a conversation or a visit by Xi Jinping to Kyiv, just how significant will that be?

And any peace plan that Beijing is pushing, it's been outright rejected by the Biden administration, who some are criticizing for taking a lead on

this. After all, it should be Ukraine's decision, correct?

ROBERTSON: It should be. So where would Xi Jinping, president Volodymyr Zelenskyy phone conversation take the situation?

In immediate terms, it probably wouldn't take it very far forward. They'd both be able to have a frank exchange of views. Xi has a much longer and

more historic relationship over the past decade or so with President Putin since Xi came to power.

Xi has said that he chose Russia as his first international visit after he first became president. This is a visit now after his third reelection to

president. So I think where this leads us -- but the point to where Xi Jinping's intervention leads us -- right now, as I said, Putin is going to

be increasingly dependent on China economically.

Right now, Ukraine is very dependent on its Western allies; in particular, the United States; in particular, over weapons but also economic support.

Where this leads us, perhaps in a couple years' time, is China having the principal threads of control over Russia. And the United States and its

allies, that backed Ukraine having the principal threads of control over Ukraine.

It's been said so many times: Ukraine will negotiate at the table for Ukraine. But the reality is, the global realities are, that they need

weapons and they need the economy. So this is how it's going to work in the future. It seems we are shaping up to where Xi can set some parameters. The

United States can set other parameters on a final piece. And we're so far from it.

ANDERSON: Some will suggest this is an emboldened Xi, hot off the brokered deal by Beijing between Saudi and Iran. As you rightly point out, we need

to wait to see any detail, any response from Ukraine. We've already got a response from the U.S. on any peace deal that president Xi might be

bringing to the table.

And this isn't something that's going to be brokered, if at all, in a couple of days, Nic. This is going to go on. Thank you.

Let's get you up to speed on some other stories that are on our radar.


ANDERSON (voice-over): Right now, the U.N. special rapporteur confirmed what many people already suspected about the death of Mahsa Amini. The 22-

year-old Kurdish Iranian woman died as a result of beatings while in custody of Iran's morality police.

Her death sparked months of protests across the country. Iran has maintained that Amini died from a pre-existing medical condition.

The Taliban reacting with skepticism to a U.N. Security Council resolution last week. The council asked for an independent assessment of the situation

in Afghanistan, with the Taliban in power.

The UAE ambassador says the world needs to reevaluate its strategy. The Taliban spokesperson is warning against false information and propaganda in

that review process.

And Saudi Arabia frees a U.S.-Saudi dual citizen after months. He was arrested more than a year ago, 72 year old Ibrahim Almadi, was sentenced

last October to 16 years in prison over tweets criticizing the Saudi government.


ANDERSON: He's currently still in the country under a travel ban. His son tells us his father is not free until he's in the United States.

Up next on CONNECT THE WORLD, the White House gets a visit from a fictional football manager. The message "Ted Lasso" brought to Joe Biden -- after





ANDERSON: Well, it was, to say the least, an unusual day in the White House Briefing Room as the worlds of sports, politics, entertainment and

health all collided. The cast of the TV show, "Ted Lasso," showed up. One of the major themes of that show about a football club is how mental health

affects the characters.

They say it starts with just asking friends and family, how are you doing?


JASON SUDEIKIS, ACTOR AND COMEDIAN: If you can ask for that help from a professional, fantastic. If it needs to be a loved one, equally as good in

a lot of ways because sometimes you just need to let that pressure valve release.