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South Africa-Russia Relationship under Scrutiny; Ukrainian Forces Claim to Capture Southern Village; Israeli PM Talks to CNN about Judicial Overhaul; Afghans Deported back to Kabul Despite Visa Promises; Over 150 Million in U.S. under Heat Alerts; Putin Delivers Remarks at Summit with African Leaders. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired July 28, 2023 - 11:00   ET




ELENI GIOKOS, CNN HOST, CONNECT THE WORLD: Welcome to the second hour of "Connect the World" with me Eleni Giokos. I'm live in Abu Dhabi. Coming up,

Vladimir Putin offers free grain to six African countries in an attempt to "Regional Leaders".

Niger's army throws its weight behind a coup against President Bazoum as he vows to protect the country's democratic gains. July is already the

planet's hottest month on record. And we remember provocative Irish Singer Sinead O'Connor as new details emerge after unexpected death.

Well, we start in St. Petersburg, Russia, where President Vladimir Putin just held a Summit with African Leaders. The main talking points were grain

supplies after Russia withdrew from the Black Sea Grain Initiative wheat prices shot up 20 percent.

But Putin insists that won't impact food supplies to Africa, even promising to supply grain to six countries for free. The Summit was also an

opportunity for Putin to appear politically supported by global allies alongside his ongoing war in Ukraine.

But notably only 17 African Heads of States attended, down more than 50 percent from the first and most recent summit in 2019. But one unlikely

leader spotted in St. Petersburg today is the Head of the Wagner Mercenary Group. CNN geo-located a photo showing Yevgeny Prigozhin in a St.

Petersburg hotel this is the first time Prigozhin has been seen publicly inside of Russia.

Of course, that is news that we've been covering over the past couple of days. I now want to take you through to David McKenzie. He's standing by

for us, in Johannesburg. David, great to have you on!

Look, there's been a lot that's been happening as part of what we've seen today in specific a peace, you know, proposal by African Leaders has been

put on the table and a lot of the agenda, but notably, the South African strategic conversation is one that we cannot ignore.

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think that's right. And it's not just about South Africa, Eleni. South Africa has long

been seen as an important bellwether for the rest of the African Continent that may have changed in recent years to a certain degree.

But yes, the peace initiative that has been led in part by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa that is something that Vladimir Putin today said

he welcomed, but he's showing no signs, of course, in negotiating with the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

And continues to throw arms ammunition and men at Ukraine's sovereign territory to try and take over that country. As with all of Putin's

comments in recent years, he blames a lot of the issues in the world on the West on the European Union, and on the U.S. he even blame them for the

issues with food prices and energy security.

Saying it had little to do with the fact that he invaded Ukraine in early last year. There is this moment of Putin meeting with Cyril Ramaphosa

earlier today. And you see the warm embrace of the two leaders. And a lot of people have been asking, yes, they understand that it might be in the

interest of South Africa to be neutral in this conflict, but they're saying their actions have been otherwise and we investigated.


MCKENZIE (voice over): South Africa's policy on paper is non-alignment on the Ukraine war. But its actions have deeply angered Western powers

consistently refusing to condemn Russia's invasion of Ukraine at the UN General Assembly.

In February hosting naval war games with Russia and China on the anniversary of the start of the war, a powerful propaganda moment for Putin

and the U.S. Ambassador publicly rebuked the government and ruling AMC claiming there was intelligence showing weapons and ammunition loaded on a

sanctioned cargo ship bound for Russia in December. It's now subject of a government inquiry.

REUBEN E. BRIGETY II, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO SOUTH AFRICA: The observable gap between the rhetoric and the reality other governments professed a policy

of not alignment and neutrality.

MCKENZIE (voice over): The question is why? We've traveled to the remote Kalahari in this desert soil, a highly lucrative manganese belt used in

making steel and the united manganese of Kalahari mines, or UMK. First revealed by nonprofit investigators at -- UMK has deep financial ties to

this man.


Viktor Vekselberg (ph) a Russian oligarch linked to Vladimir Putin and to South Africa. Here he is in 2006 in Cape Town. The U.S. Treasury sanctioned

Vekselberg in 2018 and again in 2022, for supporting Putin's invasion of Ukraine.

Last year, Spanish authorities and the FBI seized his $90 million super yacht tango. Despite the sanctions, Vekselberg still holds an important

interest in UMK according to Business records held in Cyprus.

Another significant player holding company Chancellor -- for years channeling funds to the ruling African National Congress according to

publicly available declarations since 2021, UMK and Chancellor combined have contributed at least $2.9 million to the financially struggling ANC.

MCKENZIE (on camera): This is a highly lucrative operation anti-corruption activists say that these alleged linkages pose serious questions. Is South

Africa's policy towards Russia on the world stage influenced by money?

MCKENZIE (voice over): Is it possible that foreign policy also has a link to corruption or at the very least to a conflict of interest?

KARAM SINGH, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, CORRUPTION WATCH: I think this is an increasing concern that we've now more live two than ever before that there

could be foreign money from a Russian origin that comes into the South Africa that flows into different political coffers. And I think that could

absolutely have an impact upon, you know, as how South Africa takes positions on certain policies?

MCKENZIE (voice over): Substantial investment, preferential trade policies, and critical foreign aid from the U.S. and European Union, are crucial to

South Africa, the world's most unequal country, dwarfing Russia's contribution in both trade and aid.

STEVEN GRUZZD, RUSSIA-AFRICA ANALYST, SAIIA: I think South Africa is playing a dangerous game here. And indeed, sometimes politicians are

putting the political party the ANC before the needs of the citizens, because it just doesn't make sense to be so closely associated with Russia,

when the stakes are so high, and there's so much at risk.

MCKENZIE (on camera): And what does that risk for South Africa?

GRUZZD: So it risks investment and risks trade, it risks jobs, it risks economic growth, it risks, the currency, it risks isolation from the West.

I think there's a lot at stake here.

MCKENZIE (voice over): A lot at stake for a country that has much to lose.


MCKENZIE: Well, Chancellor UMK and Vekselberg's group all denied any wrong doing to us Eleni. They also said that their party donations to the ANC

were above board and legal and had no influence on South African government policy. The ANC for its part did not agree to sit down with us for an

interview or give any statement when we put these specific allegations to them, Eleni.

GIOKOS: All right, David McKenzie. Thank you for that update. Well, it has been a summit defined by big promises by Mr. Putin. On Thursday he

attempted to ease concerns about a food supply shortage after Moscow pulled out of the Black Sea Grain Deal even offering to supply free grain to six


Putin has also claimed his country's innocence as global food prices skyrocket, blaming the West for "One mistake after another". But the U.S.

State Department's Global Engagement Center wrote in May "The Kremlin is weaponizing global food security as it seeks to profit from the food crisis

that it exacerbated".

James P. Rubin Heads the State Department Bureau which works to identify and combat disinformation. He joins us now live from Washington. Sir great

to have you on thank you for your time!

Look, Putin has downplayed the importance of the Black Sea Grain Initiative. He has made promises about supplying grain to African

countries. He's shifting blame to the west, basically positioning himself as a victim. How are you defining the messaging at the Africa Russia


JAMES P. RUBIN, SPECIAL ENVOY COORDINATOR, GOBAL ENGAGEMENT CENTER: Well, I think it's very unfortunate that this Black Sea Grain Initiative was

stopped. Let's remember President Putin launched a war not only attacking Ukraine and destroying facilities all over the Ukraine and committing the

atrocities we've reported on. But he's gone after the Ukrainian economy over and over again.

He's tried to divide the countries of the world and now he's using basically the poorest of the poor as hostages. He's using food as a weapon.

The idea that anyone but President Putin is to blame for this is belied by the fact that they are destroying with military facilities, military

attacks on port facilities in Odessa.


This grain and initiative that we provided makes clear that there were never any sanctions on food or medicine. We worked very, very hard to try

to answer any legitimate question the Russians had about whether ships were carrying weapons.

All of that was provided by the United Nations by Turkey. And over the last year, 32 million tons of food and grain were supplied to the world that is

now at risk as a result of President Putin's decision to pull out, food prices are skyrocketing. This is President Putin after he can't make the

Ukrainians quit. He can't make the West quit. He's trying to divide the world over food. And I don't think it's going to work.

GIOKOS: Yes. Sir I mean look, the African leaders have various shoot, they know what global inflation does to markets, their domestic market. So they

know supplying some countries with grain is not going to alleviate the problem.

But there have been reports that Putin is also planning generally to find new markets for its own grain, so to benefit, basically from getting out of

the Black Sea Grain Initiative. He also said that illegitimate sanctions made much more difficult for Russia to send food to Africa. Putin has

positioned himself which we've ascertained as a victim. But how is this narrative affecting relations that you have with African Leaders?

RUBIN: Well, I'm glad you pointed out what President Putin has said about our blocking his grain sales. I think it's worth noting that last year,

Russia exported a record amount of wheat and grain, Russia has been able to export all the grain it wants.

And that's what shows that this new policy of President Putin is designed to destroy the Ukrainian economy and make African countries suffer because

of his war. When grain prices increase, it's the poorest of the poor, who are made hostages to Putin's war.

The Russians can and do export as much grain as they want. We've always allowed that. And that's a classic example of what we call disinformation.

Russia's President says the sanctions block food aid, they don't -- they exported a record amount of food last year.

So this is just another way for President Putin to try to divide the world into camps. And I think it's unfortunate that the poorest of the poor are

now being held hostage to a war that's already damaged so much.

GIOKOS: So one way they doing it and pushing the Russia net? One way that they're doing that and pushing the Russian narrative is by creating social

platforms where, you know, its anti-Western, pro-Kremlin conversations.

As these -- as this messaging is increased, frankly, since just before the war started. The question becomes how is that eroded your relationship with

African nations? Has it had an impact in the way that Africans are viewing the West?

RUBIN: Well, I think it's a fair point. I think there's no question that for a decade now Russia and to extent China has tried to use information as

a weapon to try to use information to undermine support for the United States in these African countries.

And I suspect there are many reasons why some African countries have had such a difficult time accepting the simple fact that Ukraine was invaded

and Russia is an aggressor, is because of a relentless disinformation campaign that's been going on for a long, long time.

We're working to combat it. I think when Russia sees how African countries are becoming less and less supportive of Russia, when their promises are

not met when they use food as a weapon. I think no information war is going to solve that problem for the Russians.

Ukraine is divided countries from Russia because Russia chose to go to war, and is now choosing to attack the Ukrainian economy and make food a weapon.

And I don't think that's going to sit well in Africa.

GIOKOS: Yes. So Mr. Rubin, the other thing is, I mean, we've heard African leaders saying we're not going to be bullied into taking sides. You know,

that's some of the rhetoric we've heard from African Leaders. But the economics speak for themselves, U.S. and China, you know, literally clips

anything to do with trade with Russia at this point in time.

At the same time, you've got Bricks that has been going on for quite some time. They want to put more of a focus on the global south. Is there a

conversation about how the global power axis could be shifting right now and Russia perhaps at the center of it?

RUBIN: Well, we'll have to see how world politics evolves. I think I would say this that Russia's war and China's support for that war in a dramatic

way remember China repeats and supports all of Russia's arguments about the war all the claims that it's NATO's fault that the United States wanted

this war all those false claims are repeated by the Chinese.


So Russia and China are dividing countries by a decision to support the war in Ukraine. We understand that African countries don't always see why they

need to take sides. But I think this decision by President Putin to make food a weapon to hold the poorest of the poor hostage by cutting back on

availability of supplies.

By causing prices to increase is driving more and more countries to see that this war in Ukraine is harming them. Not only is it an invasion of

Ukraine, but it's an invasion of the rights of the poorest of the poor to get their food, their daily bread are being denied by the Russians.

GIOKOS: And the inflationary impact is going to be felt across the world and as you say, the most vulnerable particularly in Africa change James P.

Rubin. Great to have you on sir thank you! Thank you for your time you!

RUBIN: Thank you.

GIOKOS: Well, Ukraine's long awaited counter offensive maybe making progress as it forces claimed to have captured a village along the hotly

contested Southern Front. Officials say they've also been repelling Russian attacks in the East.

And the hope is that new infusions of Western weapons may put Ukraine back on the front foot. CNN's Alex Marquardt is tracking all the movements from

Kyiv for us. Alex, it's great to see you bring us up to speed with a counter of offensive so many news lines but we're seeing incremental gains

which are important.

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There are so many lines Eleni because the Ukrainians are trying on so many different axes to try to pierce

through those Russian lines. They have made some modest but I would say important and certainly encouraging gains for the Ukrainian side.

Remember, their goal is to try to punch through this Russian line on the southern front. One of the main priorities of this counter offensive is to

divide what has become known as the land bridge, that long Russian occupied section of land that runs along Ukraine's southern coasts.

And so what Ukraine has been trying to do is prod and poke all along that line trying to find weak spots trying to keep the Russians guessing and

trying to get through. We do know that they have taken a town called -- that is in western Donetsk Province.

It had been fought over for quite some time. It is in very bad shape, lots of destruction there. But it was heralded by President Zelenskyy as a

victory. That's one of the lines that Ukraine is pushing on to try to drive south.

And then elsewhere in Zaporizhzhia region we understand that Ukrainian forces are also trying to push south from around a town called Orikiv (ph).

We believe that they've made some gains south of there, though it is not clear how far they've actually pushed. There's fierce fighting around


The Russians are saying that the Ukrainian forces are using all kinds of armored vehicles using that training, that so many of these new Ukrainian

brigades got in Germany, that combined arms training where they use artillery and forces on foot as well as these armored vehicles.

And so we've also seen at least one Ukrainian vehicle running into what are known as these Dragon's Teeth. They are the Russian defenses that they've

laid behind the first line of defenses, they're these cement pyramids that that armored vehicles and tanks have a very hard time getting over there.

Its formidable defenses, they're laid out several in a row and then for mile upon mile, but that would indicate that at least partially at least

this vehicle managed to get through that initial Russian defense. But Eleni they are very long way from piercing that line.

We have spoken to Ukrainian forces on that front line. They say that it is a very tough fight, that those fields are heavily mined, that they're

trying to cross that they come under fierce artillery fire. Their hope though is that once they're able to penetrate that line and pour through

that this counter offensive could accelerate, Eleni.

GIOKOS: Alright, Alex Marquardt, thank you so much. If Israel Supreme Court strikes down the newly passed judicial reform law would Prime Minister

Benjamin Netanyahu respect that outcome? His answer to CNN's Wolf Blitzer and what he's saying after that interview is coming up. And the new

allegations against Donald Trump he's accused of trying to alter, destroy, mutilate and conceal evidence in the classified documents case.



GIOKOS: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he would likely reinstate a government minister disqualified from office earlier this year

if the newly passed reasonableness law remains in force. A rare diary -- was sacked in January after the Supreme Court said his tax fraud conviction

made it unreasonable for him to serve.

The controversial new law removes the ability of the court to deem government appointments unreasonable. Mr. Netanyahu is not trying to

clarify some comments made in Thursday's interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer about the Israeli high court. His office releasing a statement today saying

Israeli government always respects the court's decision.

And the court has always considered itself subject to basic laws to which it attributes the status of a constitution. Wolf asked Mr. Netanyahu point

blank if he would abide by any future Supreme Court ruling striking down the reasonableness law. Here's what he has to say.


BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: Well, look, we'll go into unchartered territory. And I really would like to believe that they won't

do that. And the reason is that, first of all, we're all subject to the rule of law. The Prime Minister is subject to the rule of law, the Knesset

or parliament is subject to the rule of law, the judges are subject to the law, everybody is subject to the law.

Now the closest thing we have to constitution, our basic laws that are what we're dealing with. And what you're talking about is a situation or

potential situation, where in American terms; the United States Supreme Court would take a constitutional amendment and say that it's

unconstitutional. That's the kind of the kind of spiral that you're talking about, and I hope we don't get to that.


GIOKOS: All right. Well, as for whether the men's backlash over the judicial overhaul poses a threat to Israel's democracy, Mr. Netanyahu had

this to say.


NETANYAHU: Israel is a democratic country, it has an internal debate. You have an internal debate in the United States right now, about the powers of

the Supreme Court about whether it's abusing its power or whether you should curtail it. I'm not going to enter into that debate.

Does that make the American democracy not a democracy? Does that make that debate unworthy? Does that make that issue, a symbol of the fact that

you're moving to some dictatorship personnel?


GIOKOS: Fred Pleitgen is in Jerusalem with reaction towards interview with Mr. Netanyahu. Fred, we saw it live, we saw Mr. Netanyahu's reaction, and

then clearly the next day clarification trying to add a bit more context and information. But frankly, it points to, you know, a very sort of

different scenario that he's talking about today. Take us through it.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, he certainly is. And you know one of the things that we have to point out is

that there has been big reaction to that interview with Wolf Blitzer here in Israel.

In fact, I've seen it on Israeli TV, with segments of that interview being played specifically the one that we were just seeing there as well, where

he was sort of hedging whether or not he would abide by a Supreme Court decision if in fact, of the reasonableness law was shot down by the Supreme


Now you had Benny Gantz, an opposition politician, who by the way right now is flying pretty high in the polls, especially with all the turmoil around

Benjamin Netanyahu and the judicial overhaul. He came out and he said look, if Netanyahu does not abide by a decision by the Supreme Court, if it does

shoot down the reasonableness law which of course is something that they're set to decide in December, then that would amount to a coup d'etat as he

put it.


Of course, we have since then, heard the qualification by Benjamin Netanyahu's office saying, of course, he would abide by decisions of the

Supreme Court, but then once again, seemingly hedging that, again, as well. All of this really is leading to the politically charged atmosphere here in

this country.

And we've actually traveled to a lot of places here in Israel, over the past 12 hours or so since that interview took place. Last night, I was at a

rally against the judicial overhaul and a lot of people there had already heard some of the comments that Benjamin Netanyahu had made.

And they said, look, Benjamin Netanyahu is saying that the reasonableness law, among the bills that they want to put forward for this judicial

overhaul is the one that should be the easiest to get through. The reasonableness clause is something with a standard of reasonableness is

something that even some opposition politicians had criticized in the past.

But they say they believe that if this law will stand that it could be a first crack into undermining the balance of power here in this country,

there was a big fear among those protesters that this could be the start, as they put it, to undermining the balance of power here in Israel.

One of the other things Eleni that we did do as well, is we actually spoke to people who support the judicial overhaul measures that the government is

trying to put forward specifically the reasonableness law. And a lot of them said that yes, they did believe that the Supreme Court does have too

much power, that the Supreme Court does get involved in a lot of things that it shouldn't be involved in.

And they were uncomfortable with some of the decisions that the Supreme Court had been making over the past year. So as far as the reasonable law

is concerned, they say that they would support the government measures. But a lot of them were also saying that they think some of the other things

that the government has planned or wants to do in the future would go too far for them.

The bottom line of all of this is, is that of course the turmoil that we've been seeing here in this country is very likely to continue. And in fact,

the protesters that we spoke to last night were saying they vow to continue to go out on the streets until of course at least September when the

Supreme Court is set to debate that law, Eleni.

GIOKOS: Thank you, Fred Pleitgen. Former U.S. President Donald Trump is facing more charges over his alleged mishandling of classified documents

including a claim that he tried to have evidence destroyed and prosecutors have charged a third person in the case.

One of Mr. Trump's employees at his Mar-a-Lago resort is accused of lying to the FBI about moving boxes of documents. This is all coming as Trump

faces a possible indictment in a separate case over his efforts to overturn the 2020 election. CNN Legal Analyst Elie Honig joins us now from New York.

We've got to keep up with all these legal battles that Trump is facing, but tell me about these new charges and what they mean for Trump?

ELIE HONIG, FORMER PROSECUTOR: So Eleni, first of all, Donald Trump faces three new charges in this superseding indictment, this second indictment.

First of all, he's charged with another document with mishandling a 32nd document. There are 31 in the first indictment. And this one's really

important because there's a key moment in this case, where Donald Trump is no longer president.

And he's caught on tape his own recording actually showing talking about highly classified information and documents relating to foreign war plans.

And there had been a question about does DOJ have the actual document that he's showing these people Trump had actually publicly said, since then,

there was no document. Turns out, we now know there is a document and DOJ has it.

And so that's one of the new counts. The other two new counts relate to obstruction of justice and attempts to alter or destroy evidence.

Specifically, there was a surveillance video system set up throughout Mar- a-Lago. And the allegation is that Donald Trump uses some of his staffers to try to interfere with or destroy or delete that video surveillance. And

so, that's two new counts as well, total, he's looking at three new accounts that are really sort of changes the calculus of what he's staring

down here in court.

GIOKOS: All right, Elie Honig, great to have you on, thank you.

HONIG: Thank you.

GIOKOS: Well, imagine waiting nearly two years for a better life for your family only to be sent back to the one you desperately wanted to escape.

That story is ahead on "Connect the World". And there are your urgency and the push to address the climate crisis, will tell you about a dramatic

warning that might stop you in your tracks when you hear it. That's all in just a moment.



GIOKOS: Welcome back. I'm Eleni Giokos in Abu Dhabi, and you're watching "Connect the World". Next month marks two years since the U.S. backed

Afghan government collapsed. And the Taliban took over since that time around 90,000 Afghans have been resettled in the U.S but hundreds of others

face an agonizing wait for visas. Nick Paton Walsh shows us their struggles.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR (voice over): It was the end of America's longest war, the worst of days. As Kabul fell to the

Taliban and its airport became the last chance for salvation. The United States pledged those who helped it would have a new life in America.

But nearly two years later, not only some Afghans who've been officially told they should get visas to America, still waiting in neighboring

Pakistan. Some have waited so long. CNN can reveal they've been deported back to Afghanistan, sent back by Pakistani police to the Taliban, they


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They stopped and told us so, we give you a 24 hour deadline. We should not see you in Pakistan land.

WALSH (voice over): CNN spoke to two Afghans who now back in hiding in Kabul had paperwork confirming they were being processed for U.S. so called

Afghan P-2 visas.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is very, very dangerous and it is very tough. You know that, how many people have been killed, have been tortured, have been

disappeared. They will punish me. They will put me in jail. Maybe they will kill me, I'm sure they will. Still we believe that USA will help us. We

believe, we didn't lose our hope still.

WALSH (voice over): And -- said, he hadn't even told close family of his return to Kabul or deportation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They did not hand us over to the Afghan border forces. They just released us on the border and told us to go back to Afghanistan.

Also, they did not give us any deportation document. It was me, my four kids and my wife who got deported together.

WALSH (voice over): For some desperation means it is already too late. This is where one of two Afghan men waiting for U.S. visas took their own lives

in the past two months, throwing him from the sixth floor here according to activists. Hundreds of Afghans have been deported from Pakistan in recent

months, say human rights groups. No distinction apparently made for those with a promise of a U.S. visa.


Last week, Afghans in Pakistan waiting for U.S. visa stage to protest. CNN spoke to several who complained of police harassment and feared greatly

deportation to Afghanistan. One described how the Taliban had beaten him senseless in Kabul before he fled, but that he now fears the Pakistani

police's harassment.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you're asking for visa, there were a lot of policemen they came into the house without clear information. And they took

me out of all and they just put him in the van. My kids, they were very much harassed. They were crying. They were asking for help.

WALSH (voice over): He described how he wants saved his American colleagues during a protest and had letters denoting his service.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Of course, I'm disappointed because the way that I served the Americans in Afghanistan, and you know, I was expecting them to,

to work on their sooner. It seems like I have no future at all.

WALSH (voice over): The U.S. State Department told CNN the Biden Administration "Continues to demonstrate its commitment to the brave

Afghans who worked with U.S., but added their processing capacity in Pakistan remains limited, but they are actively working to expand it".

And they urged Afghanistan's neighbors to "Keep their borders open" and uphold their obligations when it comes to asylum seekers. Pakistan's

foreign ministry declined to comment. Another family were also harassed by Pakistani police. The father briefly jailed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a very bad situation for me and for my family. I think it's a bad dream.

WALSH (voice over): His wife broke down.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Save us from Pakistan. I can't come back to Afghanistan. Coming back to Afghanistan is a big risk, and here we are

dying every moment. Staying in Pakistan is a gradual death.

WALSH (voice over): Nick Paton Walsh, CNN London.


GIOKOS: Well, let's get you up to speed on some other stories that are on our radar right now. These colorful images come from Pyongyang Main Square,

they show North Korean celebrating what the government there calls Victory Day. It has been 70 years since the armistice agreements that ended the

fighting on the Korean peninsula.

Syrian state media report at least six people were killed in a bombing near a Shia shrine outside Damascus. The same shrine had already been attacked

once this week, but it continued to be crowded with Muslims marking Ashura, a day of commemoration in the Islamic calendar.

In Sudan, the paramilitary rapid support forces says that a peaceful resolution with the Sudanese Armed Forces is "Impossible". The two groups

had been engaged in talks to find a political solution. But the RSF accuses the army of blocking away to end the war. The armed forces say differences

remain on major issues.

Millions of Muslims in Syria and around the world are mocking Ashura, it's the anniversary of the death of Husayn ibn Ali, the Prophet Muhammad's

grandson, and it's a particularly important ceremony for Shia Muslims who gather to hold morning rituals.

Well, up next, scorching heat waves and deadly wildfires across the northern hemisphere. How the world is enduring its hottest month ever.

Plus, we sit down with the travel industry CEO to find out what his company is doing to tackle the climate crisis, stay with CNN.



GIOKOS: Extreme heat, die warnings and soaring temperatures stoking wildfires from Europe to Africa. The climate crisis is bringing a deadly

summer to the northern hemisphere. On the continent weeks of scorching hot weather are taking a very heavy toll in Greece.

Officials there launching an investigation into early explosions at an Air Force ammunition depot sparked by a fire wildfires have been raging across

Greece for the last 15 days. And no one could blame you for doing a double take when you hear the latest warning about the climate crisis.

The UN chief telling the world in his words, the error of global boiling has arrived as July shapes up to be the world's hottest month on record.

Now in the previous hour, I spoke to Denmark's Global Climate Minister Dan Jorgensen already working with leaders of COP28 Climate gathering set for

November here in the UAE. And I asked him about the gap between rich and not so rich countries confronting the climate emergency. Take a listen.



developing countries saying that there's a bit of hypocrisy for many developed countries because it is possible for developed countries to help

more. Really, it needs to be what we call a common but differentiated responsibility.

This is the term used in the Paris Agreement. It means that, yes, all countries on the planet has a responsibility. It's a common one. But some

countries has a bigger responsibility than others and that's the developed world's richest countries.


GIOKOS: Well in the U.S., more than 150 million people are under heat alerts today. Temperatures continue to climb dangerously in the southwest.

And now the unrelenting heat has made its way to the northeast. New York City will likely see some of the hottest temperatures of the year with a

heat index of about 40 degrees Celsius.

Boston and Philadelphia have declared heat emergencies. CNN's Danny Freeman joins us now from scorching hot Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love

bringing on the heat. How are you feeling there?

DANNY FREEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, City of Brotherly Love. Definitely feeling the heat today and yesterday and going into tomorrow. Listen, I'll

be honest, I've been out here for most of the morning. Earlier today, it actually was not too bad. It was like a warm blanket. But now the sun is

fully out. It's otherwise a beautiful day. But the heat truly is oppressive.

And like I said it was oppressively hot already last night. And it's going to get oppressively hotter as we go into the afternoon and evening. And

it's tomorrow as well. Like you said right now in Philadelphia, its 32 degrees Celsius, it feels like 35 degrees Celsius. And this is in

Philadelphia, right?

We're not in the desert, or in the southwest like you mentioned before. This is truly something that folks here in our city are feeling which is

why right now we're in a heat health emergency status in the city and in the areas around the city.

And basically what that means is that our city governments are opening up cooling centers, things like libraries, like schools, really encouraging

folks to get there, get inside, if you can to take advantage of air conditioning because it's just so hot out here.

And I just want to say that the heat index later today could get as high as 42 degrees Celsius. That's what we're facing at this moment. That's why

people and public health officials in our city and in our area are taking this so seriously. Now the main message that everyone always says of course

when it is so hot out is to hydrate to make sure that you're drinking plenty of fluids.

Well, I got a cup of ice not too long ago that has basically turned completely into fluids now. So the good news is that it's a little chilly

and I will be able to hydrate myself and drink it. But the bad news is this may turn into boiling water sooner rather than later.

GIOKOS: I feel you.

FREEMAN: So that's let you very hot, getting hotter.

GIOKOS: Yes, I feel you're so hot here in the UAE, Abu Dhabi and we're doing worse than you are. Listen, I leave you Danny to go and enjoy the

fountain behind you and then get indoors very quickly. Danny Freeman for us, thank you for the update. Well as we reported earlier July is shaping

up to be the world's hottest month on record.


Top scientists blamed the extreme heat on human induced climate change. Reports say the travel industry is one of many organizations contributing

to the crisis. Earlier, I spoke with Mark Willis, the CEO of Fairmont Hotels and Resorts and what his company is doing to tackle this issue and

become more environmentally friendly.


MARK WILLIS, CEO, FAIRMONT HOTELS & RESORTS: Understanding the work that is going on with regards to the design of hotels that we built. And again, you

know, I'm a -- an operator, a hotel -- caught up in discussions on this is what a new Fairmont or this is, what a new Accor Hotel should look like,

from an environmentally friendly perspective.

Whether it be solar panels, different systems that are put in place, there's ways to build, manage and operate our hotels differently. And

people can say, OK, you should have done that before that, technology is advancing. The focus on this topic is advancing.

And it's great to see the work that is going in to changing the future of when you come and stay at a hotel and the impact that you and we as the

operator of the hotel will have on the environment.


GIOKOS: Well, the Barbie craze is a global phenomenon and some of it is thanks to CGI. Still ahead, the amazing video that has been viewed nearly 4

million times, we'll talk to the creator, stay with CNN.


GIOKOS: The box office success of the Barbie movie is good news for more than Hollywood, it has been profitable for companies all around the globe

as Mattel approves collaborations and licensing opportunities for businesses and brands. During recent earnings call the Mattel CEO even said

the movies box office success had created a cultural event.

Take a look at this computer generated video of Barbie, near the Burj Khalifa here in the UAE it has racked up nearly 4 million views. The 12

second video took about 10 days to make. Juhi Rupani, whose company was behind this video joins me now live, great to have you.

JUHI RUPANI, CREATIVE DIRECTOR, EYE STUDIO: Thank you so much for having me.

GIOKOS: Fantastic. I mean, I just saw so much excitement about this video, but it took you a really long time to put together. Tell me about the

creative process.

RUPANI: So Barbie like everyone loves Barbie. We thought let's do something about it. Burj Khalifa super iconic, we thought let's implement both of it



RUPANI: It took us 10 days to make the video, it takes us about a day to render the video. We shot the footage of Burj Khalifa on the iPhone. And

boom, we did think it would do well GCC, but globally, the response has been absolutely crazy.

GIOKOS: What are people saying? I mean, what was some of the comments that you read?

RUPANI: We've got so many calls saying that is this real? And we've told people this is not real, like no it's not. But that's the point of CGI

videos. They're super hyper realistic. And on Twitter, we've got 36.7 million views and counting on our platform, it's 4 million. We've got

TikTok reaction videos, people are actually going and looking at the Burj Khalifa and asking is this real or not.

GIOKOS: That is absolutely incredible. But you're also paying homage to the first Barbie.

RUPANI: Exactly.

GIOKOS: How it's produced?


RUPANI: So we, again like Barbie is so iconic, the swimsuit, the black and white, we thought, I think that's the perfect example. And then we clipped

it on and I think it did the clip.

GIOKOS: OK, look at her -- out of the box that's absolutely brilliant.

RUPANI: Yes and the details like the packaging, the boxing, the swimsuit, the sunglasses, and what better than Burj Khalifa.

GIOKOS: Well done to you and your team. OK, you've also got something very exciting, which is going to be exclusive to CNN never seen before.


GIOKOS: And then after we air it, you're going to be posting this, all to see live.

RUPANI: Live, exactly.

GIOKOS: So you've now paid, of course, a lot of attention to Barbie, we mustn't forget to Oppenheimer released on the same day.

RUPANI: Exactly. So we didn't want to ignore him.


RUPANI: So we've incorporated him into the new video. And I think it'd be cool.

GIOKOS: All right. Are we going to show it? Are we ready team? It's -- there we go. Oh, wow. He's with Barbie.


GIOKOS: This is brilliant.

RUPANI: It's not his signature hat and he's revealing it. And we thought it'd be really cool to add that.

GIOKOS: That is -- how long did that take you to put together?

RUPANI: So we had the footage of Barbie and everything, we had to clip this. So this took us about four days to make.

GIOKOS: I was worried that with the Oppenheimer, you're going to do something with the atomic bomb or something, you know, and it tells you --

and we've seen dramatic videos. But it's funny how Oppenheimer has been superimposed into Barbie's world, as opposed to Barbie and to Oppenheimer's


RUPANI: Yes, it's crazy. But I think both of the movies are extremely global at this point. There's so much noise around it. And we thought,

let's not forget Oppenheimer. So we thought, let's do a video, which makes more sense. So it's like a sequence. So we're going to post this now.

GIOKOS: Fantastic. And I'm glad we saw it first on CNN. We're always first with everything, right? But tell me about your company, what you do, and

have you been able to monetize this at all?

RUPANI: We have, in the last few days, we haven't slept. We've got brands from across the globe, messaging us. We're a homegrown company, we started

out about five years ago. We're a team of 20 people, I co run it with my mother. And it's been incredible so far. I can't even count my email.

GIOKOS: What are the companies asking you to do?

RUPANI: So we've got brands like Armani reaching out a bunch of like global brands, we're in talks with them, nothing is finalized. But it's crazy.

It's from all over the world, India, New York, we just finished a bunch of calls. And we're really excited and everyone wants the CGI.

GIOKOS: I mean, this is a new CGI has been around for a while. But why do you think you've been able to really create a splash in the market more

than what we've seen in the past with these kind of -- ?

RUPANI: It's a new form of content creation, right.


RUPANI: It's not photography, it's not videography, it's what it's moving. Its hyper realistic, people are confused. Is it real? Is it not? And I

think a lot of brands now have understood this. It's been this concept is extremely popular in GCC. But I think other countries are exploring this

further. And it's just a great way to market and tell your stories to be honest. I think it's a very new unusual way on social media.

GIOKOS: How much does it cost you to create a video sequence of this kind? Now you've got to start pricing this right, in terms of like, OK, I've got

big brands, how do we price this?

RUPANI: Again, it really depends on how much time we spend, what the product is about, what the brief is, at what stage of the campaign do they

require the video? Is it as a teaser? Is that at the end? How many landmarks are we playing with? What's the duration of the video like so?

There is no fixed price to this. It really depends on the amount of time we spend.

GIOKOS: All right, fantastic. Really good to have you on Juhi, I appreciate. Next time bring your mother along as well.

RUPANI: I will.

GIOKOS: My team have told me we are going somewhere, but if you could just please repeat. All right, so we're bringing you live pictures from St.

Petersburg, Russia, where President Vladimir Putin is delivering remarks with the Chairman of the African Union, Azali Assoumani on the second day

of the Africa summit. I want you to listen in.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT: Politics and economy, food security, stable development, and cultural and humanitarian cooperation. We marked

the main directions for future steps. We also decided to deepen the economic and trade cooperation and exchanges, where we're talking about

education and preparing specialists for the African countries in Russian universities.

We also had agreed on certain declarations. On stopping the arms race, fighting terrorism apart from that we have the whole plan the partnership

with Russia and Africa until 2026.


If esteemed colleagues wouldn't mind, let's count this document as adopted. No, everyone's for it, thank you. As a whole I totally think, with high

estimation of our work, and I'm certain that all the results will form a good base for the development of the Russia African partnership, prosperity

and well-being of our peoples. Thank you for your participation. Thank you so much.