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Russia's Belgorod Region Report Shelling Near Border; Beijing Summons Japanese Ambassador Over G7 Talks On China; Meta Fined $1.3B For Sending European User Data To U.S. Aired 10-10:45a ET

Aired May 22, 2023 - 10:00:00   ET




LYNDA KINKADE, CNN INTENATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello. I'm Linda Kinkade live from Atlanta. Welcome to CONNECT THE WORLD. Coming up this hour. Ukrainian

claims its forces are advancing around Bakhmut outskirts while Russia claims it's captured the city.

A record breaking fine for Facebook owner Meta. What European regulators see is a very serious data infringement.

Greece braces for a second vote in parliamentary elections as the Conservative Party strives for an absolute majority.

Well, the status of the besiege city of Bakhmut is in question today after Russia claimed its forces now control the city. Ukraine's deputy defense

minister says the fighting continues in small pockets. The different out -- accounts calm as the head of Russia's Wagner Group says his troops will

withdraw from Bakhmut by June 1st to hand over control of the city to regular Russian forces.

Well, meantime external power has been restored to this Zaporizhzhia nuclear plan after it was temporarily cut. The head of the U.N.'s nuclear

watchdog calls safety at the plan, plant extremely vulnerable.

CNN Senior International Correspondent Sam Kiley is connecting us this hour from southeastern Ukraine and joins us now live. Good to have you with us,

Sam. So, let's start on that nuclear plant. Electricity now restored which is great after it was briefly cut and had to move to a generator to back up

the power. Just explain what happened.

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lynda, this is the second occasion in which the one and only remaining external power source

to this nuclear power station was cut. We don't know -- we know it was cut by artillery. We don't know who fired the artillery. But the Zaporizhzhia

nuclear power station has since muscled up March last year, been under military occupation of the Russians.

And it is used as a fire base by the Russians to attack Ukrainian positions, particularly in Nikopol across the Dnieper River. Now, over the

last year or so the nuclear power station has lost its external power sources down to one line from four. These unnecessary for cooling the six

reactors in the power station. It's the biggest in Europe. Only one of those reactors was working. That has now gone into a dormant state but they

all need still to be kept cool.

And to do that, you need power. And if the power gets disconnected, then they have to go into diesel generators to supply the power. And that's what

happened for the seventh time. That power has now been restored. But once again, the International Atomic Energy Agency saying that this is an

example of the dangers of having a military -- a hostile military occupation of a nuclear power station and calling it for to be abandoned or

made safe by the Russians.

They're also saying, Lynda that there is a danger that the numbers of workers in the power station are not sufficient to maintain it at a safe

level. So, that over a period of time, it will become increasingly dangerous in and of itself, Lynda.

KINKADE: Yes. Certainly, will be. Sam, I want to also ask you about these reports from Russian state media suggesting that Ukrainian forces have

entered into the Russian city of Belgorod, which is north of Kharkiv. What else can you tell us?

KILEY: Not the city but the province. They have across both the Ukrainians and the Russians agree that a unit of what the Russians are calling

saboteurs, what the Ukrainians are calling private citizens but what we know to be members of the Russian freedom legion that is part of the

Ukrainian Armed Forces but all Russian citizens have indeed crossed and are conducting operations.

They continue we understand from their political spokesman here in Ukraine to be conducting combat operations inside Russia, in border villages that

are ongoing. Now, the Ukrainians are saying that these men are acting as Russian citizens, as private citizens, not as members of the Ukrainian

Armed Forces. But that's a bit of a nudge and a wink from the Ukrainian Armed Forces given that there is evidence even that they crossed using

their own military vehicles, which of course have the markings of the Ukrainian Armed Forces and in any case, are considered assets of the

Ukrainian Armed Forces.


So, this is a bit of a moot point as to who they're working for. But the fact of the matter is that this is the first public admission of a cross

border incursion by let's Ukrainian-backed forces into Russia and the conducting of armed operations inside Russia. There have been, of course,

and will be more covert operations. There have been an unconfirmed or an admitted to air operations conducted by helicopters in this area by


But never before have we seen at least a public admission of an incursion of this scale either, Lynda.

KINKADE: Yes. Certainly intriguing. Sam Kiley for us in southeastern Ukraine. Good to have you on the story. Thank you.

Well, CNN continues to investigate conflicting reports around Bakhmut. The Ukrainian president has scored a win in his ongoing quest for U.S.-made F-

16 fighter jets, calling it a first step. Volodymyr Zelenskyy is welcoming the U.S. President's backing for Kyiv's pilots to be trained to fly the

complex planes. Mr. Zelenskyy told a weekend news conference at the G7 in Tokyo that there will be several months of training.

CNN is very much on the ground in Ukraine where fighters have been showing us what they call one of the most devastating weapons in their arsenal.

Can-sized two bombs that gives soldiers built by hand under instruction from British explosive experts. The little bombs are having a big impact

against Russia, as we see in this report from our Nic Robertson.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These batteries, the cold affects them. After three or four days in the cold, if you are leaving it outside, there's no heating.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. These will last probably three weeks.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR (voice-over): Ukrainian troops get a lesson on covert bomb making.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And that goes through your battery.

ROBERTSON: British explosives and counterinsurgency specialists pass on decades of know how to soldiers already well versed in normal frontline


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Killing somebody, blowing up property, we are showing just how it's done.

ROBERTSON: But these are no ordinary bombs. They are secret weapons in Ukraine's clandestine arsenal to kill Russians on Ukrainian land.

SKIF, OFFICER, UKRAINIAN ARMED FORCES (through translator) If we have a high-priority target, we of course use this equipment against it.

ROBERTSON: And it's not just individual targets. Similar technology already in very experienced Ukrainian hands was used to bring down a building on

dozens of Russian troops recently in Bakhmut.

SKIF: This equipment is used to destroy the enemy. We use it to produce explosive devices we can use on the ground on the battlefield or in the air

as ammunition for drones.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This switch -- this witch can be really very little.

ROBERTSON: But it's not just the subversive skills and techniques that British experts bring that are needed in undercover operations. It's the

bomb components too. Sophisticated switches, specialized microchips, night vision goggles, covert monitoring devices, even 3D printers, some

relatively easy to buy outside Ukraine are in high demand because troops here are in a race against time against the Russians.

And getting them through NATO partners simply takes too long boss.

SKIF: It's hard to measure this help with words or numbers because it's a great moral support for us straight to our hearts. And we're very, very

grateful for his help.

ROBERTSON (on camera): It's a measure even on the eve of an expected big counter offensive of just how much help Ukraine's military still needs.

That more than a year into the war, even the smallest of components. The most modest of hands-on help is so gratefully received.

Nic Robertson, CNN, eastern Ukraine.


KINKADE: Right now, I'm joined live by the former Ukrainian defense minister and the current adviser to the Ukrainian government, Andriy

Zagorodnyuk who joins us live from Kiv. Thank you so much for your time. I want to ask you first about the F-16 fighter jets. This is a discussion

that has been ongoing between the Ukrainian president and European and U.S. leaders for some time. The U.S. president has finally said that the U.S.

will train Ukrainian pilots to use these fighter jets and has agreed to allow Europe to send these fighter jets.

What sort of impact would that have?

ANDRIY ZAGORODNYUK, CURRENT ADVISER TO UKRAINE GOVERNMENT: Well, I mean, tactical aviation and particularly, one of the latest generation's tactical

aviation is going to be make. A profound difference of course because it's a -- it's a source of the long-range firepower which would do well against

Russian jets and also as the striking aviation.


So, essentially, this is one of the massive pieces of the overall combined arms capabilities which Ukraine was always missing. Ukrainian also the

planes even the -- even the ones which provided by the partners later during this war already. They're still missing some of the requirements and

they still kind of losing in a battle which are the Russians do -- mainly because of the range of the radars and the rockets which they can carry.

So, that will give a massive advantage. And many people can say that this will be a tipping point for actually winning the war because, of course,

those who rules the sky for the -- for the black hole, those who has air superiority is certainly going to have a massive advantage on the


KINKADE: Of course, Russia says that any transfer of these F-16 fighter jets would raise -- bring into question NATO involvement and risk

escalation. Do you have concerns of an escalation because of that?

ZAGORODNYUK: They have been saying this about all weapons provided, starting from javelins, which worked for a few kilometers to Stinger

missiles to Howitzers to -- obviously to tanks to air defense, and so on. So, this is their standard statement. And they escalate as much as they can

already. They already escalated all the -- all -- pretty much all the good, nuclear, they don't escalate to the nuclear, obviously, just because of the

massive stance of the global community about that.

So, we don't -- we don't believe that they have much room. And they continue to keep saying this over and over again. I don't think partners

including United States government already taking this as some sort of a major risk.

KINKADE: I want to turn off again to the frontlines right now. Why is so much time, energy bloodshed being spent on the city of Bakhmut? What's the

significance of that city and what was it like before the war?

ZAGORODNYUK: Well, first of all, city of Bakhmut is in the center of Donetsk region. This is one of the key regions in the -- in the -- in the

east which Russians are trying to take. It is on the crossroads. So, basically, the side which controls the city -- controls the roads and the

rest of the territory. Russians are trying to capture all Donetsk region. It's full of cities which despite proximity to the frontlines but try to

maintain at least to some degree, a normal civilian life.

There are children going to schools. There are people on the streets. There are like shops open and so on and so on. So, of course, for us, we need to

keep them -- to keep Russians as far as possible from those cities where people trying to live some normal lives. And for Russians, the Bakhmut was

the key -- was the key post because obviously the Wagner Group and its armed forces announced back in several months ago that this is -- this is

important goal for them.

And what we're trying to do, we're trying to not them -- not to let them to obtain it. They already lost like over 100,000 people there, which is --

which is absolutely incredible because it's actually not a city, it's a small town. Bakhmut is not a -- is not a -- it's not a very large city at

all. But because of its strategic location, it's important to us. So, that's why our decision is purely military, it's not a political. It's not

like V.R. or anything like this. It's a purely military visibility decision.

KINKADE: And Russia's Wagner group, of course, right now says it is in control of the city that it's captured, the center while Ukrainian troops

surround it. They have also said they're going to start to evacuate and to hand the city if indeed they are in control of it over to Russian forces,

the Russian army. What do you make of that? And what does that mean?

ZAGORODNYUK: Well, first of all, they already announced it several times before, so that basically announcement has been made like several times but

we -- indeed they moved into Bakhmut so they do control most of the city. There are some districts of the -- of the -- of the town which are still

under control of Ukraine and Ukraine controls the surroundings. So, essentially, they cannot exercise the control or proper control over the


It's extremely difficult situation there right now indeed. And of course Russian army put all their might, they put all their capabilities including

Wagner Group which putting people there regardless of the losses. So, assuming that city has no walls and it has no barriers and it's in some

sort of a valley. It's indeed a difficult to hold it against the -- just upcoming

words of the -- of military personnel.


But I don't think they will be able to properly control it ever. And I think that, you know, Bakhmut operation is not going to be successful for

us and still.

KINKADE: Andriy Zagorodnyuk, we appreciate your time today. We wish you all the very best. Thank you so much.


KINKADE: Well, both Russia and China are lashing out at G7 countries whose leaders pledged tough new measures against Moscow and presented a united

front and their growing concerns towards Beijing.

CNN's Anna Coren is following the critical reaction.

ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: China has voiced its anger towards G7 countries in particular the host Japan, after summoning Japan's ambassador

to China to express (INAUDIBLE) regarding discussions on China during the three-day summit in Hiroshima. China's increasing aggression and Russia's

war in Ukraine was very much top of the agenda of the Group of Seven.

Let me read to you some of the statement released by China's foreign ministry last night following Japan's dressing down. It said, Japan as the

host of the G7 collaborated with relevant countries to smear and attack China in a series of activities and in the joint communique. It went on to

say that such activities have grossly interfered in China's Internal Affairs, violated the basic principles of international law and the spirit

of the four political documents between China and Japan.

At the G7 summit, the leaders of the world's richest democracies were united in a growing concern over China, stressing the need to cooperate

with the world's second largest economy, but also to counter its malign practices and coercion. The U.S. views China as the most serious long-term

challenge to the international order. This was backed up by the British prime minister at the G7 who said China pose "the greatest challenge of our

age" in regards to global prosperity and security.

The leaders of the G7 also pledged new measures targeting Russia to choke off its ability to finance and fuel its war on Ukraine. A surprise visit by

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy cemented leaders resolve and commitment. U.S. President Joe Biden pledged ongoing support saying we have

Ukraine's back.

Russia and China both hit back. Russia's Foreign Minister slammed the Group of Seven for indulging in their own greatness with an agenda that aimed to

deter Russia and China. While China's Foreign Minister accused g7 leaders of hindering international peace and so the group needed to reflect on its

behavior and change course.

Anna Coren, CNN, Hong Kong.

KINKADE: Well, still to come. Greece's ruling conservative party wins big in Sunday's parliamentary elections but fails to secure an outright

majority. We'll head to Athens to see what is at stake.

Plus, Meta, the owner of Facebook says he will appeal a ruling and a massive record fine of European user data transfers to the U.S. We'll

explain that.

What happens if the U.S. runs out of money? A look at where debt ceiling talks down to as the U.S. approaches that critical June 1st deadline.



KINKADE: Welcome back. In Greece, the ruling conservative party won Sunday's parliamentary election but fell short of the majority it needed to

form government. The New Democracy Party received more than 40 percent of the vote while the opposition, Syriza Party score just over 20 percent.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis rejected the possibility of forming a coalition government, which may ultimately lead to a new election in late


Greeks went to the polls Sunday with the cost-of-living crisis topping their priorities. Journalist Elinda Labropoulou is following the

developments and joins us now from Athens. Good to have you with us, Elinda. So, the ruling conservative party took the commanding lead but

obviously couldn't form this absolute majority. Three parties, the main parties were asked to form a coalition, they haven't.

So, just take us through the results and what comes next.

ELINDA LABROPOULOU, JOURNALIST: Well, the new democracy party, the leading party has won a big victory but much bigger than expected by any of the

polls prior to the elections. And this has sent a clear message that people have put their trust behind their prime minister and a party that seems to

have been able to deliver growth over the last four years. As a result, the prime minister said well, the message is clear.

People want us to continue on this path of growth and reforms. As a result, we cannot go into a coalition. We'll go into a new election where there's

going to be a different electoral system that actually benefits the winning party. So, it is almost certain that, you know, if we do go to a new

election, there will be a clear majority for this party. Speaking to the people right after his victory, the prime minister said that -- his message

-- his part -- his message to continue on this path of reforms was clear.

Let's take a listen.


KYRIAKOS MITSOTAKIS, PRIME MINISTER OF GREECE (through translator): I thank the millions of Greeks who again made new democracy, the big and undoubtful

winner. Their vote shows they recognize the important progressive steps our country made the past four years. Hope defeated pessimism and unity

defeated division. I'm very proud and very emotional right now with the burden I feel on my shoulders from this incredible victory.


LABROPOULOU: Mitsotakis is someone who has weathered the pandemic. He's someone who's led Greece through the energy crisis and someone who has

delivered growth. And he is seen as most likely candidate to win the new election, which we now think is going to be held in several weeks from now,


KINKADE: So yes, the new election probably likely to take place around June 25th as we've been discussing the cost-of-living crisis certainly high on

the agenda of people's concerns right now.

Elinda, I was just saying in terms of what people are worried about, take us through what the main concerns are for voters, the cost-of-living

crisis, being one of them, the wiretapping scandal, also the country's deadliest train crash.

LABROPOULOU: Oh, absolutely. Yes, absolutely. I mean, this election campaign was very much dominated by talk of the cost of living because

people are seeing their livelihoods, you know, being compromised as a result of inflation. And let's not forget that this is a country that has

gone through a 10-year prolonged financial crisis. So, it is not surprising that, you know, questions of growth, questions of better salaries and

pensions have been dominating the discourse.

And this is something that the Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has said that he will be able to deliver here, has promised growth at three percent.

He has promised to cut unemployment from 11 down to eight percent. His main opponent has also promised a number of economic reforms, but it seems that

his reputation, he was the one who took Greece through the last steps of the Greek financial crisis which led to bank runs. Let's do a third bailout

for Greece.

So, he -- it seems that he has been stigmatized by that time and did not win the voters trust.

KINKADE: All right. Elinda Labropoulou in Athens, Greece. Good to have you with us. Thanks.

Well, Meta, the company that owns Facebook has now been fined $1.3 billion by regulators in the E.U. It's a record and it's sending European user data

to servers in the U.S.


Meta which also owns WhatsApp and Instagram says it will appeal that ruling, including that record fine. Melissa Bell joins us now live from


$1.3 billion is just absolutely enormous. A record breaking. Just take us through, Melissa, the significance of this ruling today and what it means

for data and privacy going forward.

MELISSA BELL, CNN PARIS CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's a reminder, really Lynda, first of all of the almost impossible circle to square it seems between

American legislation around data protection and what it allows, for instance, fairly extensive sharing of data that arrives on American

services with American spy agencies, for instance. And on the other hand, increasingly strict European privacy laws.

And of course, I'm speaking here of the GDPR, it's been nearly five years since it was implemented, Lynda. This is the first time -- not the first

time that a fine has been levy, there have been pretty big fines against Amazon and some of Meta's platforms. But this is the biggest fine of them

all. And it really is a reflection of their anger, a measure of their impatience with some of these companies that continue to breach their rules


How in a particular way, there are in the absence right now of any framework that allows that circle to be squared between the United States

and the European Union. There have been several frameworks that have been struck down by European courts, because they do not protect the privacy

rights of Europeans enough. Even now, the American and European administrations are trying to find a new one that could allow these

companies to function.

In the meantime, what companies like Meta says that we have no choice but to have recourse. And I'm going to get technical here to these SCCs. These

are standard contractual clauses that allow for the transfer of European data to American servers, a sort of stopgap, they say in the absence of a

framework that allows for the better flow of information between one legislative framework and another that are, as I say, very difficult to


What the Europeans are saying is that the last time the European Court struck down that very framework, it had also tightened the use of the --

these SCCs that the companies are using in the meantime to try and function. And this is what the case revolves around the European saying, it

has to stop and you're going to have to pay this money. Meta now saying they will appeal, but they're also living in hope, Lynda, that this new

framework will be found that will allow them to continue their operations and hopefully evade this particular fine. Lynda.

KINKADE: All right. Melissa Bell for us. Of course, Meta is set to appeal. We will continue to stay on this story. Thanks so much.

Well, the clock just keeps ticking towards a possible U.S. debt default. President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy are expected to meet

today, as negotiations continue between staff level Democrats and Republicans. McCarthy says the phone call between him and Biden on Sunday

was productive. The government has just 10 days left to agree to raise the federal borrowing limit, or risk a first ever default.

White House -- White House Correspondent Arlette Saenz joins us now from Washington. So, Arlette, it certainly sounded somewhat positive when the

U.S. president spoke to Kevin McCarthy on his way back from the G7 from Air Force One. But they will meet this afternoon. What are the expectations?

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lynda, the time for that meeting has officially been set just moments ago. We learned that

President Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy will meet here at the White House at 5:30 p.m. Eastern time as the two men are trying to restart

those talks which really floundered over the weekend. Now at this very moment, negotiators for both sides are meeting up on Capitol Hill.

Trying to work through remaining issues and lay the groundwork for this upcoming meeting. But there are still very vast differences from both sides

on how to approach this budget agreement. One of the negotiators involved in those discussions said earlier today that there are some very real

obstacles to reaching an agreement. One of the key sticking points in these talks has been around the issue of spending levels as the White House has

proposed freezing spending at current year levels, while Republicans want to revert back to fiscal year 2022 levels.

Now, the Republican side has said that once they aren't able to reach an agreement, reached a decision when it comes to those numbers, they believe

the rest of the conversations in these discussions will fall into place. But it really comes at a very precarious moment says that June 1st deadline

is quickly approaching. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen yesterday reaffirmed that she believed the U.S. could default on its debts as early

as June 1st.

Of course, if they were to reach an agreement, it also takes time to get legislation passed up on Capitol Hill.


But over the weekend the President really warned about the threat of a default and even speculated that there could be some Republicans who are

trying to damage him politically when it comes to this issue of default. The President urged Republicans to come off some of their what he described

as extreme positions. And he said that ultimately, this needs to be a bipartisan deal.

The President arguing that Republicans also need to make some concessions, as they will need both Democrats and Republicans on board. But this is a

very high-stakes meeting that will take place here at the White House a bit later today, as the two sides still appear to be very far apart in averting

a default.

KINKADE: Hopefully, the U.S. president has some coffee to keep them out after that big flight back from Japan for these talks this afternoon. Good

to have you with us, Arlette Saenz, thanks so much.

Well, the American sentenced to prison in Russia is now speaking out to CNN. Just ahead, we'll hear from Paul Whelan about his renewed confidence

in the push to secure his release. We'll have this exclusive interview when we come back.


KINKADE: Welcome back. I'm Lynda Kincaid in Atlanta. You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. Good to have you with us. Well, an American wrongfully

detained in Russia is speaking out exclusively to CNN. Paul Whelan was detained in Moscow in 2018, accused of being part of an intelligence

operation. The U.S. was unable to secure his release and prisoner swaps that brought home to other wrongfully detained Americans last year.

Whelan now says he is optimistic that he will eventually come home, but frustrated by the slow process. Here's CNN's Kylie Atwood with more.


KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Paul Whelan, an American who has been wrongfully detained in Russia for more

than four years. Speaking to CNN from a Russian prison.

PAUL WHELAN, FORMER U.S. MARINE DETAINED IN RUSSIA (voice-over): I remain positive and confident on a daily basis that, you know, the wheels are

turning. I just wish they would turn a little bit more quickly.

ATWOOD: The last time he spoke with CNN's Jennifer Hansler by phone was in December, shortly after the release of WNBA star Brittney Griner. The

result of a second prisoner swap between the U.S. and Russia that didn't include Whalen. Today he fears the possibility of being left behind again,

but his tone is more optimistic.

P. WHELAN: I'm more confident now. You know, I feel that my life shouldn't be considered less valuable or important than others who have been

previously traded. I have been told that although Evan's case is a priority, mine is also a priority.

ATWOOD: Evan Gershkovich is a Wall Street Journal reporter who was detained by Russian authorities almost two months ago. Just like Whelan, he has been

charged with espionage.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Evan want to report Russia to shed light on the darkness.

ATWOOD: U.S. officials are scouring the globe for options that could draw Russia to the negotiating table and secure the release of both men. Paul's

sister Elizabeth Whelan took a bold step when she appeared at the United Nations Security Council meeting, attended by Russian Foreign Minister

Lavrov last month, calling on the country to release her brother.

ELIZABETH WHELAN, PAUL WHELAN'S SISTER: Paul was a corporate security director. He had a job he loved. A home, a life of hope and opportunity.

All that has been taken away from him by Russia. A country that revels in its culture of lies, its tradition of hostage diplomacy.

ATWOOD: He wants to remark from behind bars alongside Russian prisoners who were stunned.

P. WHELAN: It was funny because we stood here in the prison watching the T.V. and watching my sister speak at the U.N., and everyone was mesmerized

that this sort of thing could happen.

ATWOOD: And his message to President Biden is simple.

P. WHELAN: Freedom is not free, it comes at a price. But the loss of freedom is even more costly. And I pay that cost every day Russia holds me.

Please follow through with your promises and commitments, truly make my life a priority and get me home.


KINKADE: Thanks to Kylie Atwood for that report. And I want to bring in Jennifer Hansler. Good to have you with us, Jennifer. So, you spoke

directly to Paul Whelan from a Russian prison camp where he's enjoying some pretty tough conditions, including forced labor. But ultimately, he seemed

relatively positive about the situation that things are moving in the right direction. What did you take away from that conversation?

JENNIFER HANSLER, CNN U.S. STATE DEPARMENT PRODUCER: Well, that's right, Lynda. Paul told me he is confident and positive that the wheels are

turning on the U.S. efforts to try to bring him home. He said he wishes those efforts would move more quickly, but he does know that negotiations

are underway and he has been told that he will not be left behind again, that he is a priority for the U.S. government.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said the U.S. has given Russia a proposal to try to feel -- free Paul Whelan. Russia has not engaged on that

proposal. Meanwhile, Paul Whelan said his day-to-day existence in that remote prison camp is depressing. He said he undergoes hard labor that the

camp has been hit hard by U.S. and international sanctions for Russia's war in Ukraine. That Russia will come and recruit prisoners to fight in that


And so, he hopes that this process we'll move along quickly so he can return home to his family, to his friends here in the United States. Lynda.

KINKADE: Yes. Let's hope that happens soon. Jennifer Hansler, a great -- good interview. Thanks so much for your time.

Well, still ahead. A star in Spain's La Liga is taking a stand after and during yet another episode of racist behavior.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Three, two, one. Engine is full power. And lift off Falcon 9, go active.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Copy one alpha.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Together we expand what is possible in low Earth orbit. Ad Astra and Godspeed Ax-2.


KINKADE: Well, SpaceX continues to make history lifting off with a former NASA astronaut and three paying customers. It was a successful launch for

Ax-2. The latest all private spaceflight from axiom space. The craft docked with the International Space Station, carrying for private astronauts just

a little while ago. Ax-2 brought the first Saudi woman to space who wanted to share this message.


RAYYANAH BARNAWI, MISSION SPECIALIST: To the people around the world. Well, the future is very bright. And I would like you to dream big. Believe in

yourself and believe in humanity.


KINKADE: Now, with stem cell researcher Rayyanah Barnawi, Barnawi will spend the next eight days conducting breast cancer research before

returning to Earth with three other crew members.

Well, the call to action and a big show of support for Real Madrid's Vinicius junior. The 22-year-old resilient forward subjected to racist

abuse in a La Liga match which he sadly calls normal behavior in the Spanish league.

Amanda Davies joins us now. And Amanda sadly, he said this is not about one incident. This happens often time and time again.

AMANDA DAVIES, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: Time and time again. And Lynda, Vinicius junior. A 22-year-old superstar shining so bright. if I tell you this is

the 10th incident, which has been reported and investigated with racist abuse directed in his direction in the last two years. This is only the

ones that are reported. One is too many. This is number 10. He's decided that enough is enough.

And he's taken the really big bold step of calling it out. Calling out systematic issues and failings within the Spanish football system. And it

is very positive the number of people who've come out in support of him, but tells you everything you need to know that that hasn't been 100 percent

the case. There have been a lot of people criticizing him, saying he shouldn't be doing what he's doing.

So, where do we go from here? That's what we're talking about in just a couple of minutes in World Sport.

KINKADE: Yes. Hopefully some change to improve that situation. Amanda Davies, we will tune in with you after the break. And we'll have much more

news at the top of the hour. Stay with us. You're watching CNN.