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Russia Says it's Fighting Group of Saboteurs in Belgorod; Record Fine for Facebook Owner Meta; Typhoon Mawar Gains Strength as it Nears Guam; Ruling Party Wins Election but Fail to Secure Majority; Sudan Military Rivals Commit to Short-Term Ceasefire; SpaceX's AXIOM Mission Takes First Saudi Woman to Space. Aired 11a-12p ET
Aired May 22, 2023 - 11:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LYNDA KINKADE, CNN HOST, CONNECT THE WORLD: Hello and welcome. I'm Lynda Kinkade. Good to have you. This hour claims and counterclaims as Ukraine's
Deputy Defense Minister says his forces are still in control of some parts of Bakhmut after Russia claim to capture the city. The eastern city has
been one of the most fiercely contested and bloodiest battles in the war in Ukraine.
Meta, the parent company of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp has been fined a whopping $1.3 billion for data privacy breaches. This is the largest fine
ever handed out under a U.S. landmark data privacy law. The world waits to see President Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy are any closer to
reaching a deal on the debt ceiling.
Two leaders are preparing to hold their next round of high stake talks later today. And any minute we are expecting to see the second ever private
astronaut crew enter the International Space Station. Among them is the first Saudi woman in specs.
Russia's claim of a big battlefield victory in Ukraine is under dispute. Ukraine says its forces to control pockets of Bakhmut and more importantly,
according to the Deputy Defense Minister movement around the outskirts. Totally capturing Bakhmut would give Russia a symbolic if not strategic
victory, after months of fighting that has left the city in ruins.
The Head of Russia's Wagner Mercenary Group says his troops are going to leave Bakhmut by June 1 to cede control to the regular Russian army. Well,
external power has been restored to the Zaporizhzhia power plant after it was temporarily cut. The U.N.'s nuclear watchdog chief calls the situation
there extremely vulnerable.
And Russia says it's fighting a group of saboteurs that have crossed the end of the Belgorod region from Ukraine. Our Sam Kiley is back with us this
hour from southeastern Ukraine covering all those developments. Good to have you with us. I want to start first with that nuclear power plant. The
power has now been restored. Just explain what happened.
SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, in short, this was the seventh occasion Lynda in which the power supply to the Zaporizhzhia
nuclear power plant has been cut. That is essential to drive the cooling operations of the power plant because in particular, the reactors are all
in a dormant state. It's happened before.
And what it means is that first of all, it was lightly cut by artillery fire. We don't know which side fired it. But it means that only the diesel
generators on site stand between the reactors and a meltdown. Now in over the previous occasions, as I say this is the seventh first generators have
not had to run for very long before power has been restored.
But the International Atomic Energy Agency is also saying that the numbers of people maintaining that nuclear power station the biggest in Europe, are
dwindling and are now below the level that really will be required to keep it going safely over the longer term and demanding once again that the
Russians withdraw their occupying forces from that location, Lynda.
KINKADE: And, Sam, I want to ask you about these reports. We're hearing from Russian state media that Ukrainian forces are those supported by
Ukraine have entered Russian territory in and around Belgorod, which is north of Kharkiv. What are you hearing?
KILEY: Well, this has been confirmed actually by the Ukrainians. They say that a group of people whom they describe as private Russian citizens, but
whom have described themselves. And we actually personally know a number of them as members of the Russian Legion that is volunteers from Russia
fighting on the side of Ukraine against Russia.
We met them back in December when they were fighting south of Bakhmut. Now it has been confirmed that they have crossed from Ukrainian territory into
Russia. And according to their political spokesman is still involved in ongoing combat operations in a number of villages very close indeed, to the
Ukrainian border. Local authorities in Russia are reporting a number of casualties.
We don't have any independent verification for that. These are men who are armed, supplied and equipped as part of the Ukrainian Armed Forces. But on
this occasion, the somewhat coyly, I think the Ukrainians are saying, oh, it's not a Ukrainian operation. It's a purely Russian matter.
But this does really represent the first time that the Ukrainians have admitted that let's call them Ukrainian backed forces have launched a land
operation, a cross border land operation against Russian targets. In the past of course, there have been Special Forces covert operations ongoing
inside Russian territory.
But this is on a significant scale and clearly intended to cause considerable consternation in among the local authorities at the very least
if not at the level of the Kremlin, Lynda.
KINKADE: Yes, is certainly no doubt causing some concern there, Sam Kiley for us in Southeastern Ukraine. Thanks so much. Ukrainian President
Volodymyr Zelenskyy received promises of support from Ukraine's allies at the G7 meeting, including a $375 million security assistance package from
But his biggest wind during the trip has been to get U.S. President Joe Biden's backing for F-16 fighter jets and pilot training for Ukraine. CNN's
Nic Robertson reports.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Well undoubtedly getting agreement on the F-16 fighter aircraft was the single biggest
takeaway for President Zelenskyy at the G7. In fairness, there was a lot of diplomatic legwork done in advance. But by virtue of having all those
leaders there together, it gave a focus point to bring an agreement to conclusion.
And President Zelenskyy spoke in a press conference afterwards, not just about the importance of the F-16 aircraft to help give the Ukrainian Air
Force better reach better able to tackle the threat for the Russian forces. But he said that he by virtue of being there in the room face to face with
the leaders; he gets better results that way.
So bringing everything together, bringing allies and partners together, showing unity to Russia that they unified behind Ukraine was important. But
for Zelenskyy, I think just having this meeting, being there in person; with so many allies is a bolster.
And certainly, that's what we hear on the ground here. Talk to commanders and troops at the frontline, that F-16 very important for them and knowing
in this very, very hard fight against Russia, a much bigger enemy in this hard and tough fight. They know they've got allies and partners in the rest
of the world that are supporting them.
But I think the other takeaway from the G7 was that President Zelenskyy was able to meet with people like the Prime Minister of India, the leader of
Indonesia as well. And tried to break the Russian narrative of victimhood, that Russia is the victim of Western and NATO aggression, to put it plainly
to these leaders and say, look, Russia has invaded our territory.
And this is going to be very important when President Zelenskyy is looking at these nations around the table of the United Nations, ultimately trying
to get a peace deal agreed with the U.N. And for these other countries that put some kind of pressure and bring some reality to bear on Russia.
So the takeaway for Zelenskyy a big trip, a big reach around the world, a big diplomatic reach and take away success is where those F-16s actually
arrive and are in service, not clear. But for Zelenskyy a good trip to Japan. Nic Robertson, CNN, eastern Ukraine.
KINKADE: Thanks there to Nic. Well, G7 leaders also pledged tough new measures against Russia and presented a united front on their growing
concerns towards China. Moscow and Beijing meantime lashed out at the leaders from the world's most powerful democracies meeting in Japan over
Beijing accusing the G7 leaders of hindering International Peace, or Russia slammed them for "Indulging in their own greatness". Well, CNN Politics
Senior Reporter Stephen Collinson wrote about co-wrote about some of the major takeaways from the summit in our Meanwhile in America newsletter.
He says in part, a new great game is underway that could write the world's rules for decades to come. And the struggles of many Western nations to
contain populist anti-democratic movements at home will only complicate their efforts to hold on to power abroad.
Big summits like the G7 might come across as dull but they could be just as crucial as the wartime get-togethers of U.S., British and Soviet leaders
that wrote the international rules that would run the world for the next 80 years. Stephen Collinson joins us now from Washington.
Stephen, so much to cover, but I do want to start on the two biggest talking points of this summit about being obviously Russia, Ukraine, and
the threat from China. In terms of Ukraine, the President of Ukraine showed up at this summit to not only pleads for more support from the West, but
also to convince those on the fence to get off the sidelines.
STEPHEN COLLINSON, CNN POLITICS SENIOR REPORTER: Yes, President Biden had to leave the Asia Pacific region early because of this political crisis
unfolding in Washington over the debt ceiling. But this was a very substantial summit. And I think the administration will be very happy with
what it got done.
As you mentioned, the visit Zelenskyy having the leaders of the world's democracies line up behind him having the other countries that were also
invited to the G7 like Indonesia, like India, like South Korea there as well send a very strong message.
And I think it shows the G7 increasingly sees the war in Ukraine as it does the looming confrontation with China, as an almost existential moment for
the idea of this rules based system that has prevailed for decades, and that is under threat from nations like Russia and China.
So I think, obviously, the trip to Japan was hugely significant for Zelenskyy himself. But I think it tells us something about the way that the
G7 is developing, which started as an economic club, but now really is pushing itself forward as the guarantor of the Western based post world war
two international system.
KINKADE: And it's interesting, just ahead of G7 summit. We did hear from the U.S. president saying that he would agree to train Ukrainian pilots to
fly F-16 fighter jets, and that he would allow European nations to send in those jets, this, of course, being a major reversal. There was a great
reluctance to do that. This certainly is a win for Ukraine in this meeting.
COLLINSON: Definitely. And I think what it shows is the way that the U.S. effort towards Ukraine has evolved. And it's always been conditioned on the
need not to further inflame the situation between the United States and Russia. So we've gone incremental steps.
Right at the beginning of the war, it was ammunition and various weapons systems, and it was patriot missiles, then it was tanks, eventually, its F-
16s. I think there's a question about how quickly those F-16s will arrive on the battlefield. But they're also an important part of the post war
situation in Ukraine whenever that comes.
It's clear now that although it is not a NATO member, as it uses some of NATO's most sophisticated military kit, Ukraine is really in the western
orbit in the NATO orbit in Europe, even if it's not a full member. And that's also important, because obviously, one of the goals of President
Putin's invasion was to stop Ukraine moving towards the west, both towards the EU, and towards NATO.
So while it's unlikely, anytime soon that Ukraine will be in the Western alliance, it's almost a client state of NATO. And it will be for as long as
the United States especially and Western Europe wants it to be and continues to support it. That, of course, has been put into a bit of a
question by remarks about by former President Trump recently raising doubts about how strong he would support Ukraine if he's reelected to a non-
consecutive second term in 2024.
KINKADE: And of course, I want to turn to China because China's growing, assertiveness was a key point of discussion as well. The U.S. Secretary of
State Antony Blinken was in Papua New Guinea at the time, this is a trip that he was president was meant to make, but had to obviously come back to
the U.S. because of the debt ceiling crisis.
And the Secretary of State signed this new U.S. defense agreement. And part of that agreement will allow the U.S. to use some of the military bases;
they'll work more hand in hand. Explain the details.
COLLINSON: Well, this is a part of the wider U.S. effort to shore up relationships with its allies. In Asia with an eye on China, we've seen
similar moves. With the Philippines, for example, with Australia, Papua New Guinea clearly is an important strategic spot that were very useful to U.S.
forces in countering Chinese activity in the area.
The fact that the president was unable to go there was clearly an embarrassment. And I think it symbolically was important in Asia. But the
fact this defense pact is still going on is also important. I wouldn't be surprised to see in a future trip to Australia that President Biden
includes a stop in Papua New Guinea, given the fact that Chinese President Xi Jinping has already been there.
And China has spent a lot of money and infrastructure projects, for example there to try and pull P&G -- closer into its orbit. But again, what we saw
at the G7 with the condemnation of some of China's activity in the eastern South China Seas, a warning about economic coercion.
Coercion from the G7 leaders also aimed towards China shows that the block is really advancing, as on Ukraine, another one of the Biden
Administration's foreign policies. And I think there'll be a great deal of satisfaction in the White House about that, now that President Biden is
KINKADE: Yes, and it was also interesting hearing the British prime minister describing China as the greatest challenge of our age. The leaders
also spoke obviously about reducing their reliance on China supply lines much more to discuss as always, but good to have your perspective on the
show, Stephen Collinson, thanks so much.
KINKADE: Well still to come, U.S. lawmakers have just days left to raise the nation's debt ceiling or risk a catastrophic default of what to expect
in Washington later today. And Meta, the owner of Facebook says it will appeal a ruling and a record fine of European user data transfers to the
U.S. Those two stories when we come back.
KINKADE: Welcome back. You are watching some pitches just coming into us now from the International Space Station where the AX-2 crew has just
docked. We just saw the hatch opening. This crew of course is many private astronauts traveling including the first woman from Saudi Arabia.
Now at the International Space Station you can see there obviously people on board. They're taking their own video of this very exciting moment. This
is a private crew of astronauts docking there, eight docked to the International Space Station; they'll be there for the next eight days. So
they'll carry out various tasks.
The Saudi woman there of course is a Saudi stem cell research researcher. And she'll be studying a breast cancer, while on board the space station,
so great success there. We will bring you more pitches as they come to hand.
Well, the world is closely watching the uncertain part of U.S. debt ceiling negotiations. President Joe Biden as well as House Speaker Kevin McCarthy
is expected to meet again later today as lawmakers continue talks in Washington. McCarthy says he and Biden had a productive phone call on
June 1, of course, is that hard deadline given by the Treasury Department for the government to raise the federal borrowing limit or risk a
catastrophic government default on debt. Our Chief Congressional Correspondent Manu Raju joins us now from Capitol Hill in Washington. Good
to have you with us Manu.
So it sounded like it was some sort of productive conversation that the U.S. president had on the way back from the G7 from Air Force One to Kevin
McCarthy. Much more to discuss when they meet later today, I believe at 5:30 pm ET.
MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, look, there are huge obstacles ahead. And typically, these negotiations over fiscal issues take
months to sort it out. They have a matter of days to avoid the nation's first ever debt default, which means that they do not raise the $31.4
trillion borrowing limit.
The United States will no longer be able to pay its bills and that could have ramifications in the United States and around the world, which is why
there is a furious effort to try to see if they can reach some sort of agreement. The White House initially said for months that it would not
negotiate over the debt ceilings, insisting that they would not consider spending cuts or any other policy concessions that the Republicans have
Ultimately, Joe Biden reversed course agreed to sit down agreed to have discussions with Joe. But that has only happened over the last several
days. And over the weekend they have gone back and forth, blaming each other for the current standoff. Things, the temperature were dialed down a
bit last night after Kevin McCarthy did speak with the president on his way back from the G7 in Asia.
Then negotiators sat down and met, they had what they described more productive discussions but a full flat acknowledgement that they still need
to reach an agreement on spending levels. And speaking to Kevin McCarthy earlier this morning, as he walked into the Capitol, I asked him about the
disagreements on the two sides. And whether or not the White House is moving any closer to his demands to reduce federal spending and he
indicated there's a way to go.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): I haven't seen the president today. We'll sit down, we'll talk about it. But the underlying issue here is the Democrats
since they took the majority has been addicted to spending, and that's going to stop. We're going to spend less than we spent last year.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RAJU: But that's easier said than done. Democrats want in exchange for cuts in federal spending other issues such as raising taxes on high earners in
the United States, that's something Republicans simply will not go for. So whether they can actually reach an agreement, there are a whole other
issues that are on the table are just a major question here.
Because there's not much time left. June 1 is a potential deadline for avoid a default and to get legislation through the U.S. House and the U.S.
senate. It takes several days not just to draft the tax, but also to get the votes in both chambers give members in the broader the caucuses, and
the House and the Senate, the Republicans and the Democrats enough time to read it, get everything in line that takes sometimes a week to two weeks.
They simply do not have that time, which is why today is so critical. Right now those negotiators are meeting than the president and the speaker meet
later today. Can they move any closer? The Washington and the world are watching.
KINKADE: Yes, exactly. That's how the two sides find some common ground later today. Manu Raju, good to have you with us. Thanks so much.
Regulators and the EU have five Meta, the company that owns Facebook $1.3 billion. This is a record and it is it's for sending European user data to
servers in the U.S.
Meta, which also owns WhatsApp and Instagram, says it's going to appeal that ruling, including that massive fine. Melissa Bell joins us now from
Paris. $1.3 billion, Melissa, a record breaking fine what's the significance of this ruling?
MELISSA BELL, CNN PARIS CORRESPONDENT: I think Lynda, this has implications way beyond Meta and its immediate functioning here in European. It had been
wanting for some time that if a solution wasn't found this particular issue and maybe that at some point in the future, things like Instagram and
Facebook might no longer be able to function Europe.
This is how closely it's been watching the situation. I think what's going to happen with this 1.3 fine is now going to be the billion dollars fine.
So Lynda it's going to be that, it's probably going to focus the minds of those in the United States and in the European Union currently trying to
hammer out a fresh framework that would allow for data flows between the United States and Europe.
This comes back to an issue where on one hand; you have the legislation surrounding in the United States data. And what access agencies like the
NSA, the spy agencies have to it. And on the other the increasingly strict European laws to try and protect the privacy of European citizens. And
those two frameworks keep clashing.
So for years, fresh frameworks have been found to try and allow those data flows to go more freely. Another one is currently under review. Now, it
could be that some solution is found as early as July; it could be that it takes as long as October.
And that will have a substantial impact, of course, on the fallout from this ruling for Meta, and its ability to carry on transferring data from
Europe and its European users to American servers. So first of all, there is of course their appeal that they will be hoping to win.
But then there's also what the evolution of those talks between the Biden Administration and the von der Leyen Administration will deliver in terms
of the ability to get around those two issues to square that particularly difficult circle, Lynda.
KINKADE: Yes. All right, Melissa Bell for us in Paris. Good to have you on the story for us, thanks. Well, I want to get you up to speed on some other
stories on our radar right now. We start in a South American country of Guyana. This is where a dormitory fire to school is claimed at least 20
Officials have not yet said what caused this fire. And it's not clear if the death was students or faculty or both. At least seven children were
transported to a hospital in the capital. Three Palestinian men have been shot and killed during an Israeli incursion into the West Bank city of
Nablus. That's according to Palestinian officials.
Israeli army radio say, the three killed and an exchange of fire with Israel Defense Forces. The IDF hasn't responded to CNN's requests for
comment. Typhoon Mahwah is picking up speed, the Joint Typhoon Warning Center says it's now the equivalent of a category two hurricane. Let us
forecast how is the storm moving over Guam on Tuesday was winds of up to 200 kilometers per hour.
A typhoon warning is in effect there. An American president in Russia is now speaking to CNN. We'll hear from Paul Whelan about his renewed
confidence in the push to secure his release. That exclusive interview next. Well, as Greece's ruling conservative party wins big in Sunday's
parliamentary elections, but fails to secure an outright, majority lead to Athens to see what's at stake.
KINKADE: Welcome back to CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Lynda Kinkade coming in for Becky Anderson. Good to have you with us. These are your headlines this
hour. Ukraine's armed forces say its truth control small pockets of Bakhmut and are advancing around the city's outskirts.
It comes up to Russia claim that it controls the city. The Head of the Wagner Mercenary Group that has been fighting in Bakhmut for months says
his bosses will cede control of the city to regular Russian troops by June 1. Meta now says it will appeal a ruling by the EU.
Regulators there have decided to find the tech company $1.3 billion to sending European Facebook user data to serve us here in the U.S. That is a
record fine under the EU's landmark data privacy law. Rival military factions in Sudan have agreed to another short term ceasefire. It's due to
come into effect in the coming hours.
The ceasefire is supposed to last seven days, and it is meant to allow humanitarian aid to be delivered and for the safe passage of civilians. An
American wrongfully detained in Russia is speaking out exclusively to CNN. Russian authorities detained Paul Whelan in Moscow in 2018, accusing him of
The U.S. was unable to secure his release in prisoner swaps that brought home two 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: I remain positive and confident on a daily basis that the wheels are turning. I just wish they would turn a little bit more quickly.
ATWOOD (voice over): 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 Whelan. Today he fears the possibility of being left
behind again, but his tone is more optimistic.
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 Evans case is a priority, mine is also a priority.
ATWOOD (voice over): 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 OF AMERICA: Everyone wants to report Russia to shed light on the darkness.
ATWOOD (voice over): 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 (voice over): He watched her remarks from behind bars alongside Russian prisoners who were stunned.
WHELAN: It was funny because we stood here and the president watching the TV, watching my sister speak at the U.N., and everyone was mesmerized that
this sort of thing could happen.
ATWOOD (voice over): And his message to President Biden is simple.
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: Our Kylie Atwood reporting down. I want to bring in Jennifer Hansler, who actually spoke directly with Paul Whelan in that interview,
good to speak with you, Jennifer. To get your perspective, just give us a sense of how Paul Whelan is doing, given he is currently in a prison camp
facing some pretty tough conditions including forced labor.
JENNIFER HANSLER, CNN U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT PRODUCER: Well, Lynda, Paul seemed positive and confident in the U.S. efforts that are underway to try
to secure his release. He said he feels that the wheels are turning on that process. But he wants it to move a lot more quickly. He is in this prison
camp in a remote part of Russia called Mordovia.
He said he has to undertake forced labor, that the conditions in the camp are poor and that the camp is feeling the impact of both U.S. and
international sanctions for the war in Ukraine. So he says the day to day existence in this camp is a depressing one. And he is hopeful that the U.S.
efforts to get him home will be carried out quickly.
KINKADE: And interestingly Paul Whelan and other prisoners saw Paul Whelan's sister address the U.N. about his case. That seems unusual. How
did that happen? What did you say about done?
HANSLER: Well, Lynda, it was really fascinating that not only was he able to watch his sister's speech before a U.N. Security Council meeting that
was chaired by Lavrov. He was also able to watch parts of President Biden's speech to the White House Correspondent -- which you saw in the earlier
package from Kylie Atwood.
And he said that these public messages have really given him hope. They have boosted his spirits a lot. But he believes that Russia has allowed the
prisoners to watch these speeches and these public messages from the U.S. in order to spin them as propaganda of the U.S., "Begging for one of their
own to come home", Lynda.
KINKADE: All right, Jennifer Hansler, great interview got there. Thanks so much for joining us, appreciate it. Well in Greece, voters went to the
polls Sunday with the cost of living crisis topping their concerns, but they failed to give any party the majority they needed to form government.
The ruling conservative party received more than 40 percent of the vote, while the opposition center left, -- party score just over 20 percent.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis rejected the possibility of forming a coalition government, which means a new election will likely take place in
Elinda Labropoulou joins us now from Athens with more on all of this. So the ruling conservative party took the commanding lead but could form a
governing majority. Take us through the results and the reaction there.
ELINDA LABROPOULOU, JOURNALIST: Well, the results are significant because the coalition, the ruling party new democracy did much better than expected
in the polls. They managed to get double the amount of votes than the main opposition party. And this gave them a very strong lead and a very strong
message as the prime minister said to then try and form a one party government in a next election.
This was always an outcome that was expected in Greece simply because there was a change in electoral law that made it much more difficult for any
party to win an outright majority. Now this new election that we understand is going to take place probably in the end of June. The prime minister has
already rejected the idea of a coalition government, does give a bonus to the winning party.
So it would be easier for the winning party to form this outright majority. If the prime minister has said that since the message is there that the
people have given a strong message for him to be the one to lead, it has to follow this as lead the country's new elections, Lynda.
KINKADE: And talk to us Elinda about the key concerns that voters had when they went to the polls. Obviously, I mentioned earlier the cost of living
crisis. How did that stack up against other issues like the recent deadly train crash and also the wiretapping scandal?
LABROPOULOU: Well, although during the campaign, it seems that other issues have big issues that are to do with rule of law, you know, the wiretapping
scandal, which did not look good for the government. Accusations of push backs of migrants, accusations that the government is keeping a very tight
control of the media would be part of or significant part of this campaign.
It did turn out that people were primarily concerned about the economy. This is understandable, partly in a country that is coming out of a big
financial crisis that lasted for over 10 years. And its so people's livelihood, basically, completely destroyed.
And now, you know, with a new inflation crisis and an energy crisis, obviously, even day to day financial matters seem to have dominated
people's minds and voter's intent. The prime minister has shown that he is able to address concerns. He is someone who has promised growth and he has
Greece is now one of the fastest growing economies in the Eurozone. He has not talked about a 3 percent growth. He has also talked about bringing the
unemployment rate down from 11 to 8 percent. And he has promised foreign investment. So these are all things that have really probably made a Greek
people's mind when they went to the polls.
KINKADE: All right, Elinda Labropoulou, we will be covering this again, no doubt next month when they return to the polls June 25, probably, good to
have you with us. Thanks so much. In Turkey, presidential candidate Sinan Ogan who finished third in a hotly contested election just announced his
support for Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the runoff.
Ogan says that's the right thing for the country and for the people. Earlier this month, President Erdogan fell short of the 50 percent
threshold needed to win the election. He faces a rival Kemal Kilicdaroglu in the runoff on May 25. Well still ahead on CONNECT THE WORLD trapped in
hoping for help with Sudan civilians caught between two warring factions, Alaska Sudanese political commentator for her take on the impending
KINKADE: Welcome back. In just about four hours a new short term ceasefire is expected to take effect in Sudan and that's raising hopes for millions
of desperate civilians. The two warring sides the Sudanese armed forces and the paramilitary rapid support forces are both voicing their commitment to
a week-long truce.
The U.S. and Saudi Arabia brokered that ceasefire. It's hoped it will allow aid groups to get supplies through civilians who are trapped by the
conflict. Doctors say hundreds of people have been killed since violent clashes erupted between the two factions in mid-April.
Well, Sudanese Political Commentator, Dallia Mohamed Abdelmoniem joins us now, she's a resident of the Al Murat neighborhood near Khartoum's airport.
But today she is joining us via Skype from London. Good to have you with us.
DALLIA MOHAMED ABDELMONIEM, SUDANESE POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Thank you for having me.
KINKADE: So a week long ceasefire is meant to start in the coming hours to allow the delivery of aid to those who need it most. But given the
violations we've seen of recent ceasefires, will this one happen? What are your expectations?
ABDELMONIEM: I have zero expectations of the ceasefire actually happening, simply because there have been no measures announced or put in place to
make sure that the ceasefire is implemented. There's been no punitive measures announced as to if either side violates this agreement or will
happen. So basically, they can do whatever they want. I mean, unless they have secret agreements that haven't been announced yet, I don't think
either side will abide by this agreement.
I mean, already hospitals and, you know, safe havens, you know, schools and places of worship have been attacked by both sides. So doesn't mean
KINKADE: And you've written in recent days that the army certainly doesn't want a ceasefire, just explain.
ABDELMONIEM: I don't think either of them. Either side actually wants a ceasefire, simply because they both want to win end of the game, end of the
day, it's a war between these two sides, and neither is going to give an inch to the other.
So the ceasefire, if anything, maybe we'll just help them regroup, recovers, you know, gets their men in place. But it means nothing, because
it's just a short term. It's a plaster on an open wound, it's not going to end this war is not going to make the lives of 44 million Sudanese any
better. It hasn't.
So far, the aid hasn't reached those who need it most, there are still millions of Sudanese trapped inside Sudan. Supplies are running short,
medical hospitals are literally, I think, the whole country, there's something like 29 hospitals still working in a country of 45 million.
So you know, fighting has escalated in therefore, you know, looting and rape of females has increased, the reports are coming out, they're
harrowing to read. So, I mean, these are the basics of any conflict, and neither side have abided by them.
So I don't see how anyone can expect them to abide by these, you know, basic, you know, dealings at this moment in time, a month on since the
conflict first started.
KINKADE: So right now, should this ceasefire take place, should it be successful? We know that the US and Saudi Arabia helped broker it. And we
know that the U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has held calls with both military groups. What sort of international influence do you think
might help the situation?
ABDELMONIEM: Accountability, simply, there is no other way you need to hold both sides accountable. Like they say hit them where it hurts, you know,
individual sanctions if need be. We've been calling civilians; we've been calling for individual sanctions ever since the coup in October 2021. But
our calls fell on deaf ears, you know, no one, no one did anything.
And it's all come to a head right now. So the only way this ceasefire can work is for them, you know, to be basically like school children you know,
you hold the ruler over their hand and tell them you need to do this. So this is the only that will work with either of these two generals.
And I actually don't have, don't hold any high hopes for either the Saudi or the Americans to actually push forward with the implementation of the
ceasefire nor to hold either side accountable if they fail to do so.
KINKADE: Dallia, your home is near an -- base. When did you leave for London? And before you left, what were you seeing and hearing around your
ABDELMONIEM: I mean since day one, we were just bombarded by the sound of blasts and artillery and gunfire. Our house was hit by a rocket.
So we lived it. We lived with it throughout. And it took us a week to get out. And then we had to, we stayed in Port Sudan for another week before we
were then able to, to, to evacuate onwards. And my mother and I, we just moved, we came to London simply because we had, we didn't know where else
We had no other options, so to speak. But London is only temporary for now. I'm hoping to go back to the region by the end of June, if possible. But it
was a horrible time; I don't think any of us will recover. I don't think there's any Sudanese that doesn't have a horror story to tell.
Our families, all families have been separated have been fragmented. And the next step is how do we survive how you know, a lot of us have lost our
income, a lot of us have lost our businesses. And our lives have been disrupted, some far worse than others.
But end of the day, we've all had the disruption to our lives, and to piece it back together and to move on from here on is just, it's going to take a
lot, you know, it's going to take a lot of sacrifice, it's going to take a lot of planning and finding a place that welcomes you end of the day.
You know, every country has its own problems. And there's hundreds of thousands of Sudanese fleeing, and where to go. So it's a lot of questions
that we don't have the answers to.
KINKADE: And Dallia, we know that more than a million people are displaced millions more trapped. You mentioned that only 29 hospitals are in some
sort of working order for a population of 44, 45 million people. Talk to us about the other issues right now in terms of access to power, to food, to
medicine, what are you hearing from those still in the country?
ABDELMONIEM: Well, medicine, a lot of the medical centers and hospitals are waiting on aid, you know, on the humanitarian aid, and that still hasn't
come through. My understanding is they're pretty much stuck in Port Sudan waiting for the ceasefire to take effect so they can start moving if
The U.N. also really re-edited its report saying they now think half the population of Sudan will be in need of humanitarian assistance in some
shape, or form. Now, that's a staggering number, you're talking about nearly 25 million people needing help, be it food, medical supplies, access
It's just we already had IDPs, because of the war in Darfur 20 years ago, and now it's the opposite has happened. Its taking place, you know, those
from the center are moving out, and other cities as well are being hit. So and the rainy season is coming up. And there's nothing in place.
You know, I don't know how I mean, my, what I envision what's going to happen in the next few months, it's not actually comforting, if anything, I
think it's going to get worse before it gets any better. So I do hope this ceasefire holds, but hope for the worst, you know, plan for the worst hope
for the best so to speak, but it's not looking good. And it worries me as to where we are, where we will be and what's going to happen next because I
don't think anyone knows.
KINKADE: Yes, Dallia Mohamed Abdelmoniem, we appreciate your time. We wish you your family and everyone in your country all the very best. Thank you
ABDELMONIEM: Thank you.
KINKADE: Well, still to come another groundbreaking moment for space exploration. Find out who's aboard the latest rocket to launch into space.
KINKADE: Welcome back. Climate activists in Rome gave the phrase are dying for attention and new meaning. On Sunday, they dumped black coloring into
the water of the Trevi Fountain trying to draw attention to the hazards of fossil fuels, but officials are calling the protesters eco vandals. Our
Michael Holmes reports.
MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Black clouds spreads through the waters of one of Rome's most iconic landmarks as climate
activist's dumped charcoal into the Trevi Fountain. All seven were arrested and charged with vandalism. City officials are referring to the protesters
as eco vandals, calling their acts of protest of worrying escalation.
And Rome's Mayor is calling it an absurd attack on the city's artistic heritage. The activists condemned the use of fossil fuels, pointing to the
recent situation in northern Italy, where deadly floods have displaced tens of thousands which researchers say is a sign of the accelerating climate
This latest protest comes after the same activist group dumped charcoal in the fountain of four rivers in Piazza Navona in May and in the Barcaccia
Fountain near the Spanish Steps in April. And while the Trevi Fountain has now been cleaned, the climate crisis and the mounting anger of activists
are far from over. Michael Holmes, CNN.
KINKADE: Well, the latest SpaceX mission docked with the International Space Station a short time ago and it's making history. The crew of the ISS
welcomed four new crew members including the first Saudi woman in space.
Stem Cell Researcher Rayyanah Barnawi will be conducting breast cancer research during her time in orbit. The crew will spend eight days aboard
the ISS making this also the first time three Arab astronauts are in space at the same time.
Well, CNN's Carlos Suarez joins us now from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida with more on this groundbreaking mission. Good to have you with us,
Carlos. So you were there yesterday when it took off. It's now successfully docked. What's the feeling there?
CARLOS SUAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lynda, there is a great deal of excitement here at the Kennedy Space Center. A welcome ceremony aboard the
International Space Station just wrapped up a few minutes ago. The two Americans and the two Saudis have now joined seven other astronauts at the
International Space Station.
Peggy Whitson, the American commander, she was the first one to make it onto the ISS, and she said that she is excited to be here. She was followed
by the mission pilot John Shoffner, who said that this is a dream of his, a dream that he has had since he was eight years old.
The two Saudis have also made it onto the ISS. Ali al-Qarni, he is one of the two Mission Specialists, he spoken Arabic and in English saying that he
was making space friends. And then Rayyanah Barnawi, the other mission specialist, she also had a few words for the seven astronauts that she is
now joining for the next couple of days as well as some words for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Lynda, as you noted, the four member crew and the other seven astronauts they're going to be taking part in several experiments over the next eight
days at the International Space Station, the four member crew is going to be looking at a number of things when it comes to cancer research.
They're also going to be taking a look at the effects of microgravity on the production of stem cells. And they're also going to be taking a look at
a new communication system. And some new technology that axiom says is going to improve the lives of future space travelers. Lynda?
KINKADE: And Carlos, talk to us more about Rayyanah Barnawi, she's the first a Saudi woman in space. She is set to do some research on breast
cancer while in orbit. What more can you tell us?
SUAREZ: Yes, that's exactly right. So these two Saudis that are going to be that are at the International Space Station. They are either biomedical
engineers or they have, you know, experience in the aviation field and they're going to be doing a lot of these scientific experiments.
The two of them arrived yesterday here at Kennedy Space Center along with the two Americans by helicopters. And both al-Qarni and Barnawi both had
their families here.
They were all, you know, quite excited to see the two of them go out into space as you noted Barnawi as the first Saudi woman in space. And you got
to send it over here in some of their conversations yesterday between the astronauts and their families, just how excited they were to get this work
started. They were holding up the Saudi flag, and everyone was just quite happy to see them begin this journey.
KINKADE: Excellent. So yes, very exciting, Barnawi saying that says she's hoping to inspire a whole new generation of women and girls like my girls
who want to one day go to space. Carlos Suarez, good to have you with us. Thank you. I'm Lynda Kinkade that was CONNECT THE WORLD. Stay with us. ONE
WORLD is up next, you're watching CNN.