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Wagner Chief's Fate still Unknown a Day after Plane Crash; Putin: BRICS Global Influence will Continue to Grow; Trump to Surrender for Booking at Fulton County Jail; Will Inviting Six New Countries Pay Off; Wagner's Prigozhin Presumed Dead in Plane Crash; India Making Historic Landing on Moon's South Pole. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired August 24, 2023 - 11:00   ET




BECKY ANDERSON, CNN HOST, CONNECT THE WORLD: Well, welcome back to the second hour of the show. Coming up, questions swirling over Yevgeny

Prigozhin's plane crash, how it happened and whether it was truly an accident, we'll take a look at the Wagner Chief's legacy and ahead to what

his presumed death will mean for Russia going forward.

Well, a new era for the BRICS bloc is emerging. Six other countries including where I am the UAE have been invited to become members starting

next year, giving the group outsize economic clout that it hasn't seen before.

Now in just hours from now, a U.S. President set to walk into an Atlanta area jail to be arrested on racketeering charges. Donald Trump stands

accused of trying to steal the 2020 election in Georgia. That was just one of the subjects of last night's first Republican presidential debate which

Donald Trump decided to skip.

Well, from a forest to the morgue, Russia says it is looking for answers in the crash of a plane said to be carrying Wagner Boss Yevgeny Prigozhin. The

debris spread over two kilometers north of Moscow. Russia says Prigozhin and other Wagner top mercenaries were among the 10 people listed on board

and last word eight bodies have been recovered. They have now been taken for forensic testing as we understand.

Well, this comes of course two months to the day, after Prigozhin's failed mutiny against Russian President Vladimir Putin. He was already outspoken

against Russia's defense machine in Ukraine then CNN's Fredrick Pleitgen tells us the Mercenary Chief may have risked it all.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Probably the last moments of Wagner Boss Yevgeny Prigozhin this jet an

Embraer Legacy 600 seen falling from the sky, a wing appearing to be missing Russian authorities confirming Prigozhin was onboard the aircraft.

CNN is unable to confirm the authenticity of this video but we anonymously claimed it was the moment that an Embraer air jet fell from the sky and the

terror region north of Moscow. Flight data shows the plane traveling from Moscow on a heading to St. Petersburg before it suddenly stops


Russian media say 10 people were on board, all of them believed dead, and that Prigozhin's name was also on the passenger manifest. The Wagner

Mercenary Group fought bitterly in Ukraine, notably in Bakhmut gaining some territory but also incurring heavy losses.

Prigozhin ripping into Russia's Defense Minister and his top general accusing them of withholding ammo leading to further deaths of his fighters

you think you were the masters of this life, you think you can dispose of other lives? You think because you have warehouses full of ammunition that

you have that right?

In late June Prigozhin went a step further launching a rebellion he said aimed to unseat the leadership of the Defense Ministry. Prigozhin finally

relented and Wagner's troops were ordered to Belarus but days later Putin took aim at Prigozhin himself.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT: We will protect our people and our statehood from any threats, including treason from the inside. What we're

facing now is treason. Unreasonable ambitions and personal interests led to treachery, state treason, and betrayal of our people.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): World reaction to the latest news has been swift and blunt. No comment from the Russian President. He held a moment of silence

but for Soviet soldiers killed in World War II in course as the debris of the plane carrying what was one of his most important fighter's burns in

the field north of Russia's capital Fred Pleitgen, CNN Berlin.



ANDERSON: Well, Andrei Soldatov is an Investigative Journalist whose work really is done a deep dive into the Kremlin's enemies and Russian spies. He

recently wrote about lessons learned from the Wagner mutiny and he joins us now, by Skype from London.

It's good to have you with us. The cause of this crash, of course, is as yet unknown. Eyewitnesses have reported hearing explosions prior to the

incident, but given rising speculation that this plane may have been shot down. What's your perspective on why, and what's behind this?

ANDREI SOLDATOV, INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST: Well, all my sources I spoke thus far immediately assumed that it was Putin behind this attack. And I

think it looks like that. And the reasons for that are quite important.

I think that what is important to remember that Prigozhin was Putin's main deniable operator when Putin needed something really sensitive to be done,

like keeping his military leadership off balance or intimidation rationalists he had Prigozhin. The problem with people like Prigozhin is

that these people are way more adventurous than say government officials.

And it looks like for Putin now is became a big problem. He decided to rely more on predictable, maybe not extremely competent, but completely safe

bureaucrats, but not on the people like Prigozhin, who might pose some risk for him.

ANDERSON: If he is confirmed dead, and that's a big if at this point, let's just talk about the significance and consequences firstly for Russia and

Vladimir Putin.

SOLDATOV: Well, the main consequence we already see is that lots of people are in Russia to get as a sign and in this attack on Prigozhin as a sign

that maybe two months ago Putin looked weak and undecided. But now he is back, and he's very much in control. That is the main message the Kremlin

wanted to send.

ANDERSON: What about on the battlefield in Ukraine?

SOLDATOV: Well, as we all know, Wagner didn't participate directly in fight and the Ukrainian counter offensive. So the role of Wagner was mostly

limited to being in camps in Belarus and also predicting Russia's power in Africa. In Ukraine, while some Wagner soldiers might get back now under

control of the Ministry of Defense, but it is a big if and when.

ANDERSON: You've alluded to activities, plausible deniability of Russia activities, under the auspices of Wagner, in Africa. And I just want to get

your perspective on how if indeed, Prigozhin is dead, how Russia's operations in Africa might now change?

SOLDATOV: It is a really good question. The one thing is, we need to understand that basically there are two Wagner Groups, one was which was

fighting in Ukraine and these people were not extremely sophisticated, many of the former inmates, and they died in dozens and nobody actually cared

about them.

People find in and being based in Africa, they are completely different. They are much more competent, much more professional. They have skills, but

they are also mercenaries. And I think for them it would be quite logical to assume that now, without Prigozhin, they just need to vote for the

Kremlin directly or for the Russian military intelligence, and that would make complete sense for them.

ANDERSON: But that would also mean that going forward, you would assume for Russia to be more overt in its activities in Africa, not shrouded by this

mercenary group run by Prigozhin?

SOLDATOV: Yes, I think this is what is going on. It looks like that Putin decided that while this proxy is they're really useful to him before the

war, but with war in full scale and that going exactly as the way he wanted.


He needs more control and for him, given the fact that how paranoid he is about political stability of his regime. He believes that predictability

and being part of state machinery is a safe bet. So he would place these people under more direct government control I think.

ANDERSON: This is fascinating. It's good to have you, sir. Thank you very much indeed. We follow your work. It is fascinating. As we just discussed

the presumed death of Prigozhin is focusing attention on the Wagner Group's activities in Africa.

Prigozhin appears to have made a quick trip to Mali just days before the crash. And a recent recruitment video shows him loading the mercenary

groups' impact on the continent. Larry Madowo looks at Wagner's post Prigozhin future in Africa.


LARRY MADOWO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's here in an undisclosed location in Africa that the Wagner Boss Yevgeny Prigozhin recorded what's

believed to be his last undated video message, a recruitment promo for his private mercenary company and its operation in several African countries.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wagner PMC is conducting reconnaissance and search operations, making Russia even greater on all continents and Africa, even

for justice and happiness for the African peoples. Let's make it a nightmare for ISIS, Al-Qaeda and other thugs.

MADOWO (voice-over): It was also the first clear video of Prigozhin since his march in Moscow in June. Once known as Putin's Chief Prigozhin largely

disappeared after his failed mutiny and quickly Russia sought to assure its allies, especially across Africa, that Wagner presence in their countries

won't be affected.

In the two months between his mutiny and presumed death in a plane crash Prigozhin's fleeting messages were mostly focused on Africa. A photo on the

sidelines of a Russia Africa Summit with a visiting African official, an audio recording on a Pan-African channel, and many audio messages on his

telegram channels Wagner has been expanding in West Africa for years. CNN filmed and mercenaries trading security forces in the Central African


They are also active or have been linked to Libya, Mali, Mozambique and Sudan. Huge countries with vast natural resources, some of which Wagner are

exploiting. Over the past two years, investigations by CNN and human rights groups have established Wagner's involvement and complicity with atrocities

against civilian populations.

And the French say the group is also behind a smear campaign against them. In Niger, supporters of a July military coup were burning French flags and

waving Russian flags across the country. Prigozhin was quick to offer his services.


is going to be a lot of fallout, a lot of consequences in terms of security relapsing, and generally there is going to be resurgence of -- in the

culpability of some of these terrorist groups to strike in those countries.

MADOWO (voice-over): Prigozhin proved valuable beyond bloodied battles in Ukraine. He helps secure lucrative deals and expands Russia's influence

abroad especially here in Africa were many of sympathetic to Moscow because it doesn't have the colonial baggage of the West.

Putin could have advanced the betrayal of an old ally and his top lieutenants. But it will take more than a flurry of diplomatic visits to

assure allies reliant on the notorious mercenary group, and worried about a vacuum and disorientation in its command. Larry Madowo, CNN.


ANDERSON: Well, Russian influence in Africa stretches beyond the sketchy activity of the Wagner Group highlighted today by the looming expansion of

the BRICS alliance announced at the end of the bloc's summit in South Africa.

Two of the six nations invited to join BRICS which was co-founded by Russia are in Africa. You can see the more on this map Egypt, Ethiopia and then

Argentina, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the UAE where I am. Russian President Vladimir Putin, who attended the Summit virtually, says the global

influence of BRICS will continue to grow.


PUTIN: I would like to congratulate our new members who will start working in a full scale format next year. I would like to assure all our colleagues

that we will continue the work that we have started today, expanding the influence of BRICS in the world.

I'm referring to the establishment of practical work with new members of the organization and with those who are working the BRICS sphere as

outreach with our partners who in one way or another, pay attention to cooperation with our organization and would like to work with us together



ANDERSON: Relaxed looking Vladimir Putin just hours before the event that is now a crashed airplane and the presumed death of Yevgeny Prigozhin, of

course. David McKenzie back with us this hour from Johannesburg.

And that David was Vladimir Putin talking virtually at an event that he didn't attend in person because the South Africans would have been in a

position whereby they may have had to arrest him as there is an international criminal court arrest warrant out for him and of course, the

South Africans are signatory to the ICC. David, what do you make of the news that we have been reporting out of the summit today?

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think it's surprising to many Becky that there was this wholesale expansion of BRICS

not necessarily them setting up a methodical process for those to apply.

If you look at their collection of countries that joined in some ways, there's not much to have in common between them. I think every country that

joined is for the benefit of the founding members. You look at Egypt, Ethiopia certainly South Africa would have wanted a more African presence.

Argentina, President Lula of Brazil welcomed their addition. Iran and Saudi Arabia and the UAE are intriguing there the energy money that they could

bring to the New Development Bank the BRICS Bank could be critical in giving actual force behind what many of these leaders have been saying,

which is to move away from a Western based financial order.

And intriguing development though Becky, the Saudi Foreign Minister speaking to regional media, saying that they will look at this invite, and

they will make a decision at an appropriate time. According to Cyril Ramaphosa, at least that all of these new additions will be full members in


So we'll see how that plays out. This expansion in particular is a win for Xi Jinping and China. China is wanting to take a more forceful role on the

world stage here he is.


XI JINPING, CHINESE PRESIDENT: This expansion is historic. It shows the BRICS determination to unite and cooperate with developing countries, which

meets the international community's expectation.


MCKENZIE: While Xi Jinping of course is in a general adversarial relationship with the U.S. government and President Biden at the moment

where this posture is useful for countries like South Africa, India, and Brazil, in particular remains to be seen Becky.

ANDERSON: This is fascinating. A lot of talk of de-dollarization and trade in local currencies David briefly, is this. Is this realistic going


MCKENZIE: No, not in the short term. And you know many experts I've talked to say there's no way to get around the fact that the world's financial

system since the end of the Second World War is basically based on the U.S. dollar.

That has shifted a little bit here and there with China's insistence to try and do some of its trade in the Renminbi. But I think it is important

politically. And it's certainly a win for President Putin, who says de- dollarization is irreversible in his words from this week.

I do think that there could be a move and they said this explicitly towards trying to do some trade between BRICS nations in local currency but they

just practical difficulties to doing that in the world financial system.

I think the biggest single issue to the summit and if I were to sum it up, it's that these countries with sizable populations and powerful economies

overall could if they work in unison act as a pretty central economic voice in the years ahead. But whether they can actually work in concert, it's

very big, if that will be proven if they can build on the relevance they hope that they've been building from this week.

ANDERSON: So it goes on. Thank you, David. Donald Trump supposed to surrender to authorities later today. CNN is outside the Fulton County Jail

in Atlanta, Georgia where the Former President will be booked. What can we expect? Will we see a mug shot that's coming up after the break? Plus, a

Republican candidate for President drew hundreds of booze during the first GOP debate? You'll find out why when we come back.



ANDERSON: Welcome back, you're watching "Connect the World" with me Becky Anderson. The time here in Abu Dhabi is 20 past seven. From the golf club

to the jailhouse just hours from now, Donald Trump set to travel from his private club in New Jersey, to the jail in Atlanta, Georgia where he will

surrender to authorities.

Now, the former U.S. president already has a bond agreement in place and his team expects it shouldn't take very long for him to be processed. Nine

of Trump's 18 codefendants have already surrendered ahead of what is the 12 p.m. deadline on all of this on Friday. Among the big questions at this

point will it be treated the same way as the others who were fingerprinted and had their mug shots taken? CNN's Nick Valencia is in Atlanta for you

with the very latest.


NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A historic moment set for today. Former President Donald Trump will surrender to authorities at the

Fulton County Jail. They'll post a $200,000 bond be processed and possibly have his mug shot taken.


VALENCIA (voice-over): Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani not mincing words after his surrender.

GIULIANI: This could happen to me. Security, who is probably the most prolific prosecutor maybe in American history, and the most effective mayor

for sure they can happen to you.

VALENCIA (voice-over): The former federal prosecutor even taking a shot at the Fulton County District Attorney.

GIULIANI: Fani Willis will go down in American history as having conducted one of the worst attacks on the American constitution ever when this case

is dismissed.

VALENCIA (voice-over): Giuliani was booked on 13 charges and bond was set for $150,000. Trump posting on truth social shortly after Giuliani

surrender. The greatest mayor in the history of New York City was just arrested in Atlanta, Georgia because he fought for election integrity. The

election was rigged and stolen. How sad for our country, Maga. Along with Giuliani, two more of Trumps key election lawyers have also turned

themselves in, Sidney Powell.

SIDNEY POWELL, DONALD TRUMP'S LAWYER: President Trump won by a landslide. We are going to prove it.

VALENCIA (voice-over): And Jenna Ellis.

JENNA ELLIS, DONALD TRUMP'S LAWYER: We want to make sure to protect election integrity.

VALENCIA (voice-over): Both Powell and Ellis are facing charges related to the 2020 Georgia presidential election, including violating Georgia's anti-

racketeering law. So far, nine of Trumps co-defendants have turned themselves in. And for two of them, former White House Chief of Staff Mark

Meadows and ex Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark, their efforts to avoid arrest or surrender has come to an end.

U.S. District Court Judge Steve Jones is rejecting both Meadows and Clark's emergency filings in two separate rulings to move their cases to federal

court. Meadows argued that he should be allowed to avoid processing in Fulton County before his scheduled hearing Monday.

The judge writing in his decision, the clear statutory language for removing a criminal prosecution does not support an injunction or temporary

stay prohibiting District Attorney Willis's enforcement or execution of the arrest warrant against Meadows.


Clark sought an emergency hold on the state court proceedings, including efforts to arrest any of the cases defendants who didn't turn themselves in

by the Friday deadline. Jones writing until the federal court assumes jurisdiction over the state criminal case, the state court retains

jurisdiction over the prosecution and the proceedings continued despite the notice of the removal.


ANDERSON: And some news just coming in. Security for the district attorney Fani Willis and her office is on a high alert amid Donald Trump's expected

surrender later on this afternoon. Law enforcement officers on high alert at the Fulton County government complex where the District Attorney's

offices are located multiple sources telling CNN as former President Donald Trump is expected to surrender to be processed at the court there on


Well, the first Republican debate for U.S. president then went on without the front runner, Donald Trump. He skipped the debate in Milwaukee

reasoning that he is so far ahead in the polls, and everyone already knows who he is. Candidates talked about hot -- issues like abortion, border

security and crime. And when the topic of climate change came up, one candidate was booed for his response. Have a listen.


VIVEK RAMASWAMY, U.S. REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The climate change agenda is a -- . And the reality is the anti-carbon agenda is the wet

blanket on our economy. And so the reality is more people are dying of bad climate change policies, and then they are of actual climate change.


ANDERSON: Conservative CNN Political Commentator S.E. Cupp joining us now, it's fantastic to have you. Thanks for joining us. It was a lively session

last night, albeit with a bunch of candidates who are present at least in the polls don't look as if they got any chance of running as the

presidential candidate. What did you make of what you saw and heard last night?

S.E. CUPP, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, it was definitely more interesting than I thought, you know, for having covered a republican party

with Donald Trump in it for the last, you know, six, seven years, you can sort of forget what it was like when he was not a part of it. And while he

loomed large over it, it was a good reminder that there is a Republican Party still without Donald Trump.

This is what it looks like for good or bad. And you've got folks on all kinds of the spectrum from evangelicals like Mike Pence and Tim Scott to,

you know, national security hawks like Nikki Haley with ambassadorial experience, to upstarts like Vivek Ramaswamy.

ANDERSON: Vivek Ramaswamy, it was pointed out by Nikki Haley, of course, was the UN Ambassador for the U.S. at the beginning of Donald Trump's term.

It was pointed out by her that he has absolutely no foreign policy experience at all. I mean, that doesn't necessarily matter.

Although, you know, I'm sure most people around the world watching this will say it would certainly help at this point. Did anybody stand out to

you, as a presidential candidate last night, for what you know, to be a Republican Party with a base of voters who have clearly some 40 percent

decided that Donald Trump is their candidate?

CUPP: Yes, as annoying as he was, I think Vivek Ramaswamy did stand out. He made the most of his time there. I think probably that was his first

introduction to most Americans. And I think if you're a Maga Republican, you look at, you know, the climate and say, well, if something bad happened

to Trump, like he goes to prison, I can see myself voting for Vivek Ramaswamy. That's not me.

But I think you know that's more likely than they are to vote for someone like Pence or Haley or Tim Scott or Chris Christie. Now, from my point of

view, as a moderate conservative, who never voted for Donald Trump, I think Nikki Haley really acquitted herself well.

She talks about her experience, and she talked about her youth, which it's a fun combination and an interesting combination to make the case that

she's got more experience than someone like Vivek Ramaswamy. But she's also younger than people like Donald Trump and Joe Biden and has a generational,

generationally different viewpoint. I think she turned that trick pretty well.

ANDERSON: It's good to have you. We're going to have you back. You're always welcome on this show. You make an awful lot of sense. And our

viewers have got what 14, 15 months of this in the run up to the 2024 election. Yep, so make time for us, S.E. Cupp, it's good to have you, thank



Coming up, BRICS looks to be headed for a major expansion. What comes next now, it might affect the global economy is up next. And a day of

bittersweet contrast as Ukraine fights to expel Russia. It marks 32 years of independence from the Soviet Union with a message from Volodymyr



ANDERSON: You're watching "Connect the World" with me Becky Anderson. Let's turn to a challenge to the Western world order. Will it pay off? BRICS

inviting six new countries, Iran, Saudi Arabia, the UAE where I am, Egypt, Ethiopia and Argentina for an economic bloc. This means both a lot of

opportunities and a lot of risks.

Take Argentina and Egypt for example. Their economies are frankly are in a bit of a shambles at the moment with skyrocketing inflation. Well over a

quarter of the population in both countries live below the poverty line. Then you've got Iran for example, an energy powerhouse which only recently

mended ties with Saudi Arabia.

And there's still a sort of open book on that of course, it's also one of the most heavily sanctioned countries in the world right next to its close

ally of Russia. Well, my next guest wrote on ex, formerly known as Twitter, "New dynamics in BRICS that shouldn't be forgotten".

How will the Middle Eastern Cold War play out Iran and Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Ethiopian relations on the good and Argentina Iran relations among

other implications. It's good to have Gustavo de Carvalho back, he's a Senior Researcher at the South African Institute of International Affairs

been attending the meeting, joining us via Skype from Johannesburg.

We had you on at the beginning of the week, and you made an awful lot of sense in sort of providing us a context of why this meeting was significant

and potentially consequential. We now have news of at least the invitations that should they be taken up will result in the expansion of a block, which

was you know, originally built you know as an investment opportunity as it were back in the 2000s.


Then became a sort of, you know, a real block, as it were of, you know, of economic sort of interests in 2009. And now really sees it having the

potential to, to punch with some weights, let me put it that way, and on the geopolitical landscape. But just by how much? You've pointed out there

are some real issues here, where do you want to stop?


Johannesburg. And I think it's important to mention that, despite the fact that the members were able to agree on an expansion, it took some time.

We've seen a lot of divisions in the last couple of days yesterday, around this time. Brazil was still uncertain whether we would support the

expansion or not at this stage.

And at the end, we saw an interesting representation of countries from South America, from Africa, from the Middle East and Asia. And to a large

degree, all of them can support somehow at least, they're expected to support BRICS to become more influential, and particularly to increase

their autonomy when managing their own economies when managing their own trade. We're going to see for the next year, ministers of finance and

governors of central bank spending a lot of time on these discussions.

ANDERSON: I can see the interest for Argentina, and we've known about that for some time. And that is an invite very much back by the Brazilians. And

I can see South Africa's interest in getting more African nations involved for sure.

Egypt and Ethiopia stand out there. I'm really interested to get your perspective on what you believe the interest in providing an invitation for

Saudi Arabia, for the UAE where I am, and Iran is. Is it the economic heft that the two Gulf countries bring to the table, for example?

CARVALHO: I think it brings a degree of their economic aspects, especially when it comes to the liquidity issues within the block. A lot of the

discussions around the use of local currencies within trade within the block have been quite prevalent here in Johannesburg, and will continue

until the summit of BRICS in 2024, in Russia.

But we also know that for countries like Saudi Arabia, for UAE and Iran, there has been an increasing momentum for the engagement with Asian

countries in particularly China and Russia. China has been engaging very actively with dealing with the tension between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

India, for instance, already is buying a lot of its oil from the UAE with rupees. And particularly Russia, which is building its own North, South

corridor towards Iran, which Russia expects that is going to reduce the time and reducing the risks of highly dependence they have with Europe and

the Black Sea.

ANDERSON: But you don't have to join BRICS to have those relationships, do you and so, you could describe this as nothing more than window dressing


CARVALHO: Partially, I think it will all depend on the discussions that will happen in the next year. At this stage BRICS is expanding to look into

those different areas of the world that they haven't covered yet. But particularly very serious discussions are happening around the role of

currencies, the role of payment systems, and even in discussions around reserve currency.

So all of those if they succeed, and I think we're still very far away to really know what's going to happen. This could be quite a game changer for

these countries in particular.

ANDERSON: Yes, fascinating, we'll, we'll stick with this story. It's a good one, and we will watch us as this develops. And certainly these invitations

have been extended, whether they're taken up by all six nations, those invitations is not yet clear to be reported on when we get more clarity.

Thank you.

Well, for the second year in a row, Ukraine celebrates its Independence Day in the Shadow of War. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy marked the occasion on

Thursday calling it "A holiday of strong people, a holiday of people with dignity". And applauding every citizen saying in a big war there are no

small deeds.

Amid those Independence Day celebrations, Ukrainian military says its units of extended gains in the Zaporizhzhia region. Well, that's where CNN's

Chief International Security Correspondent Nick Paton Walsh is right now with some perspective, from where you are about what is going on, on the

ground, Nick?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes, well, look, we have seen Becky incremental gains, certainly in the area.

That's the key focus of Ukraine southern counter-offensive. South of Orikhiv, the western part of the land corridor between Crimea and occupied



In the past days we've seen around Robotyne suggestions from Ukrainian officials, they are indeed pushing forwards. And in fact, in the last 48

hours, the Ukrainian flag raised over a key building in that tiny village of Robotyne where the Russians and Ukrainians have invested potentially

hundreds of lives of their troops in trying to hold back ground.

Is that more widely significant? We don't know at this stage. Could it be the first crack through Russian fortifications unclear at this point? But

Becky, interestingly, in Ukraine, we've also been hearing a reaction from Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to the apparent death of Yevgeny

Prigozhin, the man that led Wagner that was behind so much brutality on the frontlines of Ukraine.

And he essentially said, look, Ukraine has nothing to do with this, that's for sure. But a paraphrase here, we think everyone knows who does pointing

the finger towards Vladimir Putin potentially, while there is no evidence at this stage, frankly, definitively that Prigozhin is even dead apart from

Russian state officials pretty convincingly saying that is the case.

There are of course, many questions as to quite how this occurred quite how it seems so many of his top henchmen were on the same private jettison.

Here's a little more about what we know about Yevgeny Prigozhin.


WALSH (voice-over): He had always lived in the shadows until the war in Ukraine made him perhaps the most public Russian critic of how the

Kremlin's war was fought. The possibility Yevgeny Prigozhin is dead is a shockwave to an already shaken system.

Putin's critics rarely survive as long as he did. And the talk tonight in Russia and Ukraine that Putin might still have wanted to kill him assign

the chaos in Moscow he caused was not over. He led the most brazen affront to Putin's rule in his 23 years at the helm, taking an armed rebellion into

the southern stronghold of Rostov-on-Don, marching on Moscow, and then abruptly turning around.

The apparent reason, a deal brokered by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, Putin saved here by a neighboring ruler, he usually treated

with contempt. The deal was opaque; perhaps involving the fighters of the group Prigozhin led Wagner moving to Belarus. It's unclear how much that


And then Prigozhin appeared already surviving a long time for a Putin challenger popping up in Africa this week, saying he would expand Russia's

influence there. It would have been another turn in his remarkable and sorted career. Initially Putin chef, he became a military contractor

supplying food that expanded into influence operations in the United States trying to meddle in key elections, all deniable, all damaging to Putin's


His Wagner Group expanded to from 2014. CNN has tracked their mercenaries operating in the Central African Republic, Sudan, Libya, Mozambique, Mali,

and Syria, as well as Ukraine with an army of tens of thousands battle hardened.

And in Ukraine, always savage fighting hardest around Bakhmut and always expanding recruiting convicts from Russian prisons to be used as apparent

Cannon Fodder on the front lines, executing alleged traitors, apparently with a sledgehammer. It may never be definitively known who died in this


Even transparent investigators would struggle to find the right DNA. Instead, we will have Russian state investigators and media's word, the

very people whose boss Prigozhin enraged.


WALSH (on camera): Very much emblematic of Putin's Russia here, one of the most seminal figures in the war in Ukraine here, a key confidant of Putin,

then a man he called a traitor, vanishing, essentially, the world having to take the Kremlin's narrative for that, but certainly not a sign of Putin

strength here.

He clearly if indeed he was involved in this did not feel Yevgeny Prigozhin was a man who could remain at liberty without that being a constant

reminder of that failed on rebellion, Becky.

ANDERSON: It was this time last night that the news broke that this plane had come down. And that Prigozhin was on the passenger list for that flight

24 hours on is it any clearer about whether or not he has perished?

WALSH: I think it's fairly clear by this stage that it will take quite a significant reverse in the Russian state narrative for Prigozhin to

suddenly pop up somewhere and say he is indeed OK. And in fact, if you were him, and you'd seen this happen to your name over the past 24 hours, you're

probably not going to pop up at any point soon.

And so, I think it is likely that that will be the story we stick with. Is it indeed the full truth most likely probably not, will there be any

independent definitive determinations to his fate? No.


But we haven't heard from Wagner officially, from the Wagner telegram channels to confirm the death although many of his fighters have been seen

in the state of mourning about this. And so, it is a remarkable episode, frankly, in Putin's Russia, a man whom nobody ever possibly thought would

challenge him like that. Suddenly with this mysterious but very typically Putin ending.

ANDERSON: Nick, you've been reporting on, on this story for so long that I'm sure that you don't believe that anything more remarkable can happen

but it keeps happening. Thank you, sir. It's good to have you. Nick Paton Walsh is on the ground for us, taking a very short break, back after this.


ANDERSON: Strong winds have kicked up devastating fires in Greece more than 200 wildfires have broken out since Monday. Now firefighters are trying to

keep the flames from a national park near the Capitol. Let's bring you back CNN's Eleni Giokos in the middle of what is some of the damage in the Greek

forests, Eleni. Just explain, describe where you are? Also what people are telling you?

ELENI GIOKOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Listen, I'm in Parnitha, which is known as and lovingly known as the lungs of Athens. It's an important

carbon base in; it provides fresh air and oxygen to the city of Athens and now in ruins. We don't know the scale and just how much has been burned. I

just spoke to the fire departments.

The critical question isn't while you and I are seeing calm, not a lot of wind, is the fire under control. The answer was no, not yet. They are

hotspots. On the other side of the mountain where we were this morning, and they wouldn't let us through because they've created roadblocks because the

roads are so small, and want to make sure that the fire trucks can pass through.

It's the area of -- . We also had a peculiar incident which is quite perplexing to me. There were cases of arson that started another five in --

which is around 14 minutes' drive from, on the other side of the mountain and police are investigating that.

And just before we came on there, there were two police officers and a civilian that came to ask us who we are and to check our ID, because they

are worried about someone else that was walking around. And as far as potentially starting another fire, which you can see could affect the

greenery what is left of the greenery.

We've experienced, raging fires specifically yesterday by the houses by homes of locals in -- . We saw locals fleeing, we've been asked to leave

areas because the fire was moving so rapidly. The wind is the enemy.

Last night was like hell that is what firefighters are telling us. And then critically I've been catching up with some firefighters which are stationed

monitoring the situation making sure that, we don't see another fire being prompted by what is left of what we're seeing in this dry area.


Remember it stops burning, we don't see flames, but it's still a danger zone. They were telling me look, we don't have enough firefighters in the

whole of Greece to deal with this level of wildfires that is affecting the entire country. We have many frontlines Becky around Greece right now

making it a record wildfire season.

ANDERSON: Eleni Giokos on the story for you, Eleni, thank you. Just ahead, India over the moon and I've been asking one of its top scientists if the

nation wants to be a superpower in space.


ANDERSON: Well over the moon, India's space success is sending waves of pride and joy through the country and indeed the region. Well earlier the

lunar rover was deployed to the surface of the moon after Wednesday's historic landing not only historic but frugal. Take a look at this viral

tweet that Elon Musk picked up on it.

He points out that the $74 million budget for the Indian Space Launch is less than half the price tag of blockbuster Hollywood movie Interstellar.

Well, India showing its confidence and flexing its scientific muscles Wednesday. CNN's Vedika Sud has more for you from New Delhi.


VEDIKA SUD, CNN REPORTER (voice-over): Applause and cheers inside India's Mission Control Center and across the country as Chandrayaan-3 India's Moon

craft made a soft landing on the lunar surface.

S.SOMANATH, CHAIRMAN, INDIAN SPACE RESEARCH ORGANIZATION: Sir, we have achieved soft landing on the moon, India is on the moon.

SUD (voice-over): India is only the fourth country to do so. And the first to do it on the moons unexplored South Pole. Prime Minister Narendra Modi

watched the landing virtually while on an official trip to South Africa.

NARENDRA MODI, INDIAN PRIME MINISTER: This moment is unprecedented. This moment is of developed India's victory. This moment is of new India's

victory cry.

SUD (voice-over): Back home millions of Indians watched in awe as Chandrayaan-3's rover touchdown in the moon surface. Many are feeling

intense national pride.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Very excited and it was a very great moment to witness it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have done it, so it's very inspiring as well.

SUD (voice-over): India's successful lunar landing comes just days after Russia's failed attempt to land a spacecraft on the moon. Many countries

are planning human missions to the lunar surface, triggering a space race. For India, the journey to the moon has been long and challenging. In 2019,

11 years after its first moon mission, its second spacecraft -2 crashed into the lunar surface, while making its final descent.


Now four years later, its third moon rocket Chandrayaan-3 will conduct scientific experiments and help detect resources hidden in the moon's dark


MALCOLM DAVIS, SENIOR ANALYST, AUSTRALIAN STRATEGIC POLICY INSTITUTE: It will be playing a key role in hunting for water ice around the lunar South

Pole. That water ice is important for establishing and sustaining a human presence on the lunar surface. If that water ice is also important for

enabling the moon to become a launching pad for spacecraft.

SUD (voice-over): The success of this mission has blazed the trail for India's space ambitions. They include a manned mission to space and setting

up its own space station by 2030.

DAVIS: Ultimately, it sets the ground for India establishing its own astronaut corps that would then see Indian astronauts standing on the lunar

surface alongside its partners, including United States, Japan and Australia.

SUD (voice-over): But for now, India celebrating this historic feat, one that has clearly established it as a global space power, Vedika Sud, CNN,

New Delhi.


ANDERSON: And thank you so much for joining us. That was "Connect the World". "One World" with Zain Asher, my colleague is up next.