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Ukrainian FM: Profoundly Happy to meet at "Historic Event"; EU Foreign Ministers Convene in Kyiv for First Time; Party Led by Pro-Kremlin Figure Wins Parliamentary Election. Aired 9-10a ET

Aired October 02, 2023 - 09:00:00   ET




LYNDA KINKADE, CNN HOST, CONNECT THE WORLD: Hello I'm Lynda Kinkade live from Atlanta. Welcome to CONNECT THE WORLD. Coming up this hour, a friend

in need is a friend indeed. The Foreign Ministers of the European Union showing that they stand solidly behind Ukraine by moving their meeting to


Former U.S. President Donald Trump expected to be in court in person at the start of his high stakes civil war trial in New York. And the Nobel Prize

in Medicine honors the work of scientists who worked on the COVID vaccines. We have a live report coming up.

First, let's check the action on Wall Street. U.S. futures are pointing to a mostly lower open on this first trading day of the new week, new month

and new quarter. The deal to keep the U.S. government up and running for another 45 days is not giving stocks much of a boost today.

It will be a challenging week for investors with lots of economic data set for release including the read on the health of the U.S. jobs market. A

historic event that is how Ukraine's Foreign Minister is describing today's meeting with EU Foreign Ministers in Kyiv.

The bloc's Foreign Policy Chief says Ukraine's future lies within the EU, today's gathering is happening just after the U.S. Congress passed a short

term spending bill that does not include the $6 billion the Senate had requested for aid to Ukraine.

Our Frederik Pleitgen is covering the developments and joins us from Eastern Ukraine. And Fred the EU's top diplomat Joseph Borrell called

Russia's war in Ukraine an existential threat to Europe. As they know, this meeting is historic because the EU Foreign Ministers are meeting outside of

the EU to show their support for Ukraine. Take us through the purpose of today's meeting?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, outside of the EU, and certainly inside Ukraine. And I think that's really the main

purpose of all this to show unwavering support for Ukraine on the part of the European Union and 27 Foreign Ministers especially in this time of

possible turmoil and of questioning in the United States, for instance, about the future of support for Ukraine.

But also of course, in many other countries as well, as you look at, for instance, Slovakia, you look at countries like Hungary, you look for

instance, Poland recently telling the Ukrainians that they're not going to continue to supply weapons to Kyiv, so there are a lot of things where

Ukraine has gotten some pretty bad news over the past couple of days.

And I think it was important for the European Union to show that their support is going to be ongoing. I think one of the things that Joseph

Borrell also said is that he said that the support for Ukraine would be unwavering.

And he also said that the Russian shouldn't think that just because of the political events that happened in the United States and in Europe in

Slovakia over the past couple of days, that that support was in any way, shape, or form waning.

And I think that was something that was very important to hear for the Ukrainian, certainly for the Ukrainian Foreign Minister, who called this

visit by the 27 Foreign Ministers in this meeting, who call that historic, Lynda.

We've also been speaking to the National Security Adviser of Ukraine as well in the wake of the United States funding issues of all that's been

going on in Congress. And he says that he is sure that Ukraine is going to continue to get military aid from the United States.

But of course, it is an issue of concern for Ukraine simply because they are so dependent on aid from the United States, not just military, but

economic aid as well. And they also believe that a lot of countries within NATO and certainly European countries within NATO are supplying aid to

Ukraine, as far as the military is concerned, also, because they know that the U.S. is supplying aid as well Lynda.

KINKADE: And so if you will Fred, just take us through the latest on the battleground both in the east and in the south, where is Ukraine making

gains and where are we seeing the counter offensive by Russia?

PLEITGEN: Yes, it's very interesting, because it also ties in with what's been going on in the U.S. last Friday and of course, during the course of

the weekend, as well with some of that military aid that the U.S. is supplying, of course, very important for the Ukrainians on the battlefield

as well.

I was actually with a unit just a couple of minutes ago that is fighting currently on the frontlines in the East of Ukraine around the town of

Bakhmut and they say that they are making headway there around Bakhmut. And they also say that U.S. supplied weapons are very important to them making

headway there actually asked them what they think would happen if the U.S. stopped supplying weapons to them.

And they said they simply don't even want to imagine what would happen then because obviously things would become so much more difficult. They also say

that if that did happen, you know, they would obviously have to keep fighting but they do think that things would be a lot harder for them.

As far as the actual situation on the battlefield is concerned you had a lot of shelling going on from the Russians on the southern town of Kherson,

the U.S. -- the Ukrainians continuing to prosecute their counter offensive in the south of the country trying to make some gains here. But we do have

a pretty dynamic situation here in the area around Bakhmut where the Ukrainians are saying they're putting a lot of pressure on the Russians.


Again, thanks to Western longer range weapons like for instance artillery and high mars as well and they do think that they have some significant

headway that they've been making over the past couple of days, Linda.

KINKADE: Frederik Pleitgen for us in Eastern Ukraine great to get that perspective from you on the ground thank you so much. Well, Slovakia's

Foreign Ministers among the European voices in Kyiv expressing their full support for Ukraine.

So the huge support comes at a pivotal moment in Slovakian politics. Over the weekend, a party led by a pro Kremlin figure wants Slovakia's

parliamentary elections, but it failed to secure enough votes to govern on its own.

Robert Fico is now poised to start talks to form a coalition that could undermine Western support for Ukraine. CNN's Scott McLean is following the

story for us from London. So Scott, at least until now Slovakia has been a one of Ukraine's staunchest allies in its war against Russia.

But as expected, Robert Fico narrowly took the lead in this election. He is a Russian sympathizer. He is a man that said I will not send a single

cartridge of ammunition to Ukraine if elected. So what could his election mean for Ukraine?

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, he also blamed Ukrainian Nazis and fascists in his words for provoking Russia into the war. Obviously, this is

not good for Ukraine if he were to become Prime Minister, because it would be one less country sending weapons sending ammunition, potentially.

But there are a lot of other factors at play here. Obviously, Slovakia is not a huge country, only 5.5 million in terms of its donations to Ukraine,

it is obviously only able to send so much but it has sent helicopters, artillery systems, air defense systems and its entire Soviet era fleet of

fighter jets.

So certainly it is not insignificant by any stretch of the imagination. I think what the West is concerned about right now, the European Union, NATO,

they're concerned about how this might look that there are members of the Western alliance supporting Ukraine right now that perhaps are wavering in

their support.

And the Russians have made no secret about the fact that they think that they may be able to simply wait it out and wait for the West to fatigue

over the Ukraine issue and cease to support them in the long run.

And certainly while you have the Foreign Ministers there in Kyiv, trying to have the show of solidarity, there are definitely differences especially on

you know, the Slovakia issue the Ukrainian Foreign Ministers sort of deferred comment on this waiting for the dust settles on the negotiations.

While the Hungarian Foreign Minister said that look, the elections Slovakia is an opportunity since Robert Fico seems to see eye to eye with the

Hungarian viewpoint on a lot of things, including on the war.

At the same time you also had the Slovak Foreign Minister from the outgoing technocratic administration there in Kyiv saying that they are there to

support Ukraine's territorial integrity and their own sovereignty. But of course, that may not be for long depending on what happens with these

coalition negotiations, Lynda?

KINKADE: Yes, and it is interesting that as Slovakia's Foreign Minister is in Kyiv today, so that hopefully suggests some sort of continuity with

regards to their policy towards Ukraine. But given Fico slim majority in this election, what can we expect in terms of a possible coalition and what

would that mean for his position?

MCLEAN: Yes, so the Slovakian President is actually as we speak meeting with Robert Fico to ask him to form if he can form a coalition government

or ask him to try to form a coalition government as is customary in Slovakia.

He will get the first crack ahead attempting that, but it is not necessarily an easy path. There is a natural ally for Robert Fico's party

in the Hlas Party which actually broke away from his party so lots of common ground there.

He had not ruled out also partnering with a far right party that sees eye to eye with him in fact, it's even more extreme on the Russia Ukraine

question but they actually didn't reach the 5 percent threshold needed to get seats in parliament. So now he has seven parties that he can try to

partner with --

KINKADE: I got to interrupt you just there Scott. We appreciate you on this story. But we are going to go to New York now where Donald Trump is facing

trial and fraud related charges. Let's listen in.