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Russians Risks Arrest To Remember Navalny At Memorial; Lithuanian Foreign Minister Speaks To CNN As European Union Ministers Discuss Ukraine; Israel Says It Will Expand Military Operations In Rafah If Hostages Held By Hamas Are Not Returned By Ramadan; Palestinians Demand End To Israeli Occupation At International Court Of Justice; Export Of Crude Oil To India Help Russia Fund War. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired February 19, 2024 - 10:00   ET




ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN Abu Dhabi, this is CONNECT THE WORLD with Becky Anderson.

BECKY ANDERSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: And welcome to our second hour. Right now, Europe's top foreign policy bras are gathering in Brussels after

Russia takes a key Ukrainian town. I'll speak to the foreign minister of Lithuania this hour.

Plus, Yulia Navalnaya makes an historic appearance at that meeting in Brussels. She vows to carry on Alexey Navalny's fight for a democratic


Israel threatens to expand operations in Rafah, unless all hostages are released by the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. This is the International

Court of Justice hears arguments over the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories. I'll speak to the foreign minister of the Palestinian

Authority at The Hague in about 30 minutes from now.

On Russia, dealing with new outrage over the death of its foremost critic overshadowing perhaps its biggest battlefield when in Ukraine in months.

European ministers meeting with Alexey Navalny's widow today, who vows to continue her late husband's work.


YULIA NAVALNAYA, WIFE OF ALEXEY NAVALNY (through translator): The main thing we can do for Alexey now, for ourselves, is carry on fighting. We

will carry on what Alexey Navalny started. I will carry on fighting for our country. I upon you to share not only the grief and pain that is

surrounding us.


ANDERSON: We'll see an CN's Matthew Chance visited a makeshift memorial in Moscow's day where even placing a rose can be seen as an act of defiance.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I mean, it's been a shock to reaction. I mean, everybody knew who Alexey Navalny was as

the country's most prominent opposition leader. And everybody is shocked if not surprised that he met this untimely death in his penal colony in the

far north of the country.

You're joining me now in the middle of Moscow, but right outside the FSB headquarters, where you can see people are still coming. There's a lady

just done that man. Some more people over here. They are coming to pay their respects to offer sympathy and condolences to the family and friends

and the organization of Alexey Navalny. These are all the flowers that have been put down so far.

Just go ahead. (INAUDIBLE). And as I say, this is a monument to the victims of repression during the Soviet period. And so, it's interesting that this

is the place where people have chosen to come and pay their respects to Alexey Navalny.

There is a photograph of him here, somebody's laid that. People are putting traditional red roses, children's picture over here, saying -- on the

tombstone there, Alexey Navalny, heroy, which means, hero. And that's how, of course, many people in this country see him her as.

Now, just the act of putting that flower on this memorial is risky in a country like Russia, because all kinds of dissents, all kinds of political

opposition have been crushed by the Kremlin.

And even though people are doing this now, it's not large numbers. But as a steady, steady flows, you can say, shows just how angry and how much people

are sort of braving that repression to come out and put these flowers on this money.

Remember, across the country, hundreds of people have been dragged from these snowy parks, in towns and cities across Russia, and taken away and

detained for doing exactly this.

And so, it is a huge risk that people are taking, because there's a whole line of people coming here now. A huge risk that people are taking for come

out and pay their respects to Alexey Navalny, Russia's most prominent opposition figure.

ANDERSON: Well, for more, let's bring in Clare Sebastian, she's back with us this hour from London. And in Matthew's report there we saw a few people

paying their respects to Alexey Navalny in Moscow, but as Matthew mentioned, we did see a crackdown from Russian authorities over the weekend

across the country. What do we know at this point?

CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, there were more than 300 arrests back here, according to human rights' monitor. Over the info, that number,

you know, it's not huge in a country of 140 million. And I think that is really significant here. Because the state of affairs in Russia is really

being revealed by this.

These are small memorials. They are not protest, they are not rallies, people are coming in small numbers to pay their respects that in itself is

an act of significant bravery as Matthew pointed out.

But as it as a point of comparison, I want to show you a video of the kinds of scenes that we saw in 2015 after Boris Nemtsov, the opposition leader

was killed very suddenly on the bridge approaching the Kremlin.


You can see it there. This is a large rally. People waving flags, walking towards. You can see St. Basil's Cathedral in the background there. We are

not seeing anything like that this time around. Russia has changed dramatically, especially since the start of the full scale. War in Ukraine,

freedom of speech has been severely limited.

Free media barely exists anymore. So, people are fed a very consistent diet of state propaganda.

There is not a lot out there on state media about Navalny. And frankly, the Kremlin never even mentions his name, even now after death. And look, the

Kremlin has an ever expanding toolkit of laws that they can use to stifle dissent.

People are either to sort of taken in by this propaganda or too scared to come out. So, that really is the context here. And I think that, you know,

the question is, could there be a new opposition movement that arises from the death of Navalny, perhaps led by his wife, Yulia Navalnaya, as you

said, she has come out with this powerful video message, trying to use this moment of emotion to galvanize the spirit of her husband, the opposition

movement in Russia. She was not mincing her words, when it comes to what has happened to him and in particular, his body. Take a listen.


NAVALNAYA: In a cowardly way, they are hiding his body, not showing to his mother, not giving to his mother. They are lying. And they're waiting for

the traces of another of Putin's Novichok to disappear.


SEBASTIAN: Novichok is, of course, the nerve agent that Navalny was poisoned with, back in 2020. It's not even -- it's not clear if she's

actually accusing the Russian authorities of doing this again, with Novichok. It could be a figure of speech here, but she is accusing them of

killing her husband.

And look, she does have an opportunity. Now she has the international spotlight, meeting with world leaders, sitting next to be Europe's top

diplomat, as you showed in Brussels. Can she bring to bear some kind of new opposition? I think that is a big question in a country where you see that

kind of stifling of dissent. Becky.

ANDERSON: Clare Sebastian's on the story, Clare, it's good to have you.

I want to focus on Ukraine now, which has just suffered a hugely significant setback in the Donetsk region.

You are looking at Russian troops raising their country's flag in one of the Eastern towns there. That's after Ukrainian forces withdrew from the

area. Ukraine's better units are exhausted after two years of combat and they are running low on ammunition.

Fred Pleitgen, monitoring the story from Berlin. We've called this a significant loss for Ukraine, a gain, for Russia. just explain exactly why.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it certainly is hugely significant. And I think one of the reasons for that,

Becky, is that the Ukrainians have managed to hold this place, of hold Avdiivka since 2014. Since of course, a lot of things started there in the

Donbas region.

It was known as a place that was also very fortified. Obviously, a lot of those positions had been in place for a very long time. And just from that

perspective, it certainly is something that is hugely significant for the Ukrainians.

Also, the way in which the oldest went down over the weekend is definitely something that shows all the things that you were just talking about,

namely that the Ukrainians at this point in time are badly outgunned by the Russians. And a lot of places on the front line, but specifically in that

one, where the Russians really managed to bring a lot of firepower to bear on the front lines there, but also that they're unmanned. And I think one

of the other things that you mentioned is definitely the case also.

A lot of those troops that were fighting there in Avdiivka on the Ukrainian side, they had been there for a long period of time without being able to

be rotated out.

So, that shows some of the challenges that the Ukrainians have been dealing with. Again, this retreat happened very quickly, happened under fire,

apparently, over the two days of the weekend.

So, it goes to show that the Russians definitely able to bring a lot of that firepower to bear on that part of the front line. But it also is

symptomatic for many areas right now on the front lines in the east and in the south east of Ukraine. Becky.

ANDERSON: Good to have you, Fred. Thank you.

Drumming up support then for Ukraine is top of the agenda. As the E.U. foreign ministers meet in Brussels. This comes off the tail of the Munich

Security Conference where the Lithuanian foreign policy chief left disappointed. In a thread on X, he says, "Things are not going well."

Writing and I quote here, "Baseless optimism is a form of self-deception. It is demobilizing us. How can we expect to convince the public to spend

more on defense, take a stronger stance against Russia, and support countries on the eastern flank if leaders won't admit that there is an

urgent need."


Well, the post from Gabrielius Landsbergis, minister of foreign affairs for Lithuania. He joins us now live from Brussels.

Sir, you walked away from the Munich Security Council, feeling that there was frankly, a lack of political will, it seems, amongst allies to help

Ukraine. Let's just dig a little deeper on that. Just how concerned are you at this point?

GABRIELIUS LANDSBERGIS, MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS, LITHUANIA: I'm really concerned. I really concerned and this is the time to, at least for those

who are able to speak their mind freely, I'm not sure what the Ukrainians can say everything that they would like to their allies, because they, in

many cases, they just have to be polite.

And those who have, you know, a bit more space to speak out, those of us who have to raise a red flag saying, look, this is not going well.

If we don't get the attention that we had on Ukraine, like in the beginning of 2023, or the end of 2022, the things might even get worse. And first,

you admit the problem, and then you look for solutions. And so, probably here, we are admitting that the problem is huge.

ANDERSON: Well, how does Europe, to your mind, need to step up and step up in a more robust and substantive fashion? What's your suggestion at this


LANDSBERGIS: Well, first of all, Europe has to admit that this is Europe's war. You know, we will be commemorating 75 years of NATO later this year in


And, you know, I bet -- I bet people will be saying that, you know, we had peace for 75 years. But this is where I would like to say that this is not

true. Europe continent is no longer continent of peace. We are at war, whether we like it or not, it was not chosen by us. It was chosen by Putin.

He attacked one of the European nations. Not yet European Union, but, you know, from his perspective, it might not necessarily matter that much.

That means that it also requires a European response, we have to do everything that we can, because this is what we must do. There is no other


Now speaking about specifics, currently, the situation is such that we ourselves have drawn to us red lines that we would not cross. We need to

erase those, we need to make strategic dilemmas for Putin, so that he would not know how to calculate that, because at this point, he does.

He knows what we are not going to do, what we're not going to step, he knows that we are not united. So, for him the battle, the strategic level

of the battle is quite easy.

We have to change that. We have to disrupt the field, invent new strategy, admit that maybe something was not going quite well, what we decided in the

past, rearrange the whole thing. Because if we don't do that, we didn't just aren't going to stop.


ANDERSON: Right. Does the -- do Europeans, does -- the European Union and others, you know, the U.K., does it feel as if it has lost the support of

the United States at this point?

I'm going to ask you about Donald Trump and his comments about NATO momentarily. But what is the thinking the inner core about what is going on

with regard Ukraine in Washington?

LANDSBERGIS: First of all, all the major battles of 20th century have been fought and won together by the transatlantic union, let's say. And there's

a lot of anxiety that if the war is not stopped by Ukrainians, if the war is not won by Ukrainians, and if it does spread, that Europe might find

that it's alone. And I don't think that anybody believes that Europe at this point can fight and win the war alone. We need U.S. in Europe. That's


But, on the other hand, and that has been a major discussion point during the Munich Security Conference that Europe has to step up as well. Not to

stay anxious, not to stay frightened, but also continue stepping up, you know, be serious about our defense, going to two percent, going beyond the

two percent, taking the example from the Baltic States who are, you know, already a 2.5 percent, at the very least, and going even beyond that.

ANDERSON: Which brings me to my next point, Donald Trump, who is, of course, the leading Republican in the race, for the White House, has been

extremely vocal in his criticism of NATO.

I just want to remind our viewers what he has said most recently. Stand by.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: One of the presidents of a big country stood up said, well, sir, if we don't pay, and we're

attacked by Russia, will you protect us?


No, I would not protect you. In fact, I would encourage them to do whatever the hell they want.

ANDERSON: Now, you have just spoken to the fact that other European nations, away from the Baltic states need to step up and pay their dues, as

it were, get their defense budgets in order.

How concerned are you, though, on a wider sort of front about a second Donald Trump turn -- a potential second Donald Trump turn. And how is the

EU preparing for that possibility?

LANDSBERGIS: Well, first of all, this is the factor that we cannot control in any way. We trust the United States democracy, and we have -- we just

have to wait for the results of you know, will come later this year.

Second thing is that we cannot be paralyzed by anything that, you know, one or the other candidate would say, we need to do our homework. Lithuania is

paying now this year 2.77 percent of our GDP towards the defense. The debate is that maybe we will go even to three percent, and maybe even

beyond that not because you know a candidate, the president has asked them because -- but because it is our duty, because we understand the threat

from geography, from history. And this is what we have to do.

For us, the war in Ukraine, for us, the cold war that has restarted, it's very real. And therefore, when we hear those sorts of things, you know,

we're not -- we're not frightened. We are -- we're saying, look, you know, we have to do what it takes in order for us to be sure that we can defend

as much as we can to defend ourselves.

And then we also would have a story to tell whenever we visit the United States. Though, we are not free riding, we are not freeloading, we are

doing our part. And then, yes, we hope that the United States continue -- will continue fighting us with us, side by side.

ANDERSON: Alexey Navalny's widow is there in Brussels today. I want to play just a little bit more sound. Our viewers have heard some -- a little bit

more sound from her. This, of course, is Yulia. Standby.

NAVALNAYA: I asked you to share your rage, rage, anger and hatred with me towards those who are daring enough to kill our future. And I address you

with Alexey's words, which I believe it is not a shame to do. It's not a shame to do little, but it's a shame not to do anything. It's a shame to

make yourself intimidated.


ANDERSON: That's likely no doubt that lawmakers, leaders in Brussels share her rage. She though, has said that Putin and his friends need to be

punished. What tools does the E.U. left have in its toolkit to put any further pressure on Vladimir Putin and his regime at this point?

What's the message from E.U. foreign ministers today?

LANDSBERGIS: Well, I can tell you what I've asked, you know, for foreign ministers to consider. Alexey Navalny has devoted his life in uncovering

the all-encompassing corruption in Russian Federation.

He has presented over 7,000 names of oligarchs who gained their wealth, not by good deeds, but by most of my corruption. The best way to honor his

memory is to add those people as much as we can to the sanction lists, so that they would be unable to use the financial systems of the Western

world, which they currently do use. I don't think that there's a better a better way to commemorate.

The second thing would be to think about other political prisoners that are currently in in Russia. And one of them, particularly, this is Mr. Kara-

Murza, who is held in a very similar situation as Mr. Navalny was has been held.

And so, what we have to do our utmost so that he is released from, from those horrible conditions, which, you know, in many cases, just end up with

people, with members of opposition that. So, I've asked my colleagues not to forget that.

ANDERSON: Sir, it's good to have you. Thank you very much indeed for joining us. Important stuff.

Well, despite war and sanctions, Putin's Russia appears to be growing richer than ever. Well, and that's coming up.

And a key ally of the U.S. is responsible emerging is one of the biggest buyers of Russian oil.

And Israel has set a new deadline for when it will expand its offensive inside Rafah. We are live in Tel Aviv with more on that. Coming up.



ANDERSON: Israel has told the Brazilian President Lula da Silva that he is no longer welcome in the country, after he likened Israel's actions in Gaza

to genocide. Take a listen to those comments.


LUIZ INACIO LULA DA SILVA, PRESIDENT OF BRAZIL (through translator): What is happening in the Gaza Strip with the Palestinians has no parallel in

other historical moments. In fact, it did exist when Hitler decided to kill the Jews.


ANDERSON: Well, on Monday, the Israeli foreign minister said that Israel, "will not forgive or forget President Lula's comments. He added that Lula

will remain persona non grata until he apologizes and retracts those words.

Well, Israel will expand its operation in Rafah, if Hamas does not return the remaining hostages by Ramadan. That warning coming from the Cabinet

minister Benny Gantz. The Muslim holy month is expected to start in the second week of March.

Inside Gaza, Israeli forces to put the enclaves largest functioning hospital completely out of service, according to Gaza's health ministry.

The IDF moved into the Nasser hospital. You can see for the chair last Thursday, after bombarding the area for days. Gaza authorities say, at

least 107 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza in the last 24 hours.

Well, CNN's, international diplomatic editor Nic Robertson is in Tel Aviv. Nic, Israel telegraphing what it says will be the start of its assault on

Rafah. They have been telegraphing the potential of this the threat of this for weeks, now saying that hostages need to be released before Ramadan

around about March the 10th, or this extensive operation will begin. What do you make of this warning?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, I think there is two things going on here that we can see out of this, Becky. One is the

continued and increasing pressure that Israel is trying to put on Hamas. By putting a deadline here, Hamas must release all the hostages, or else. It's

also putting pressure on her mass to change its position -- Hamas's position on the negotiations for the release of the hostages, of course,

Israel insisting that it won't give in to her masses demands of a complete ceasefire and withdrawal from Gaza.

So, Israel is trying to put pressure on there and I think the other part of it, this is if we go back a week or so Prime Minister Netanyahu was saying,

we're going to go into Rafah. So, last bastion and control center for Hamas, is where the -- is where the hostages are. And we must get this

operation done before Ramadan and we must evacuate all the civilians safely.


Well, the civilians that have left that area are unsafe. More were sort of came under Israeli fire over the weekend in Deir El-Balah, in the middle of

Gaza. But it also speaks to the point that the IDF isn't ready to go into - - to go into Rafah yet. And why? Because it's still bogged down in Khan Younis, where the fighting continues.

They've been in there fighting for over two months now. And that was much longer, I think, than the IDF originally expected. That's partly because of

tunnels and we're witnessing part of that in the Al Nasser hospital, which you're talking about there.

The WHO saying today, after days and days and days of trying, they are finally been able to get in and help the evacuation of 14 critical care

patients to a different hospital.

You have five people on dialysis, three people from the ICU. So, the fight in Khan Younis is tying down the IDF. So now, we have this new timeline

that's being put forward.

And the other thing that we're hearing about pressure on Hamas as well, we heard it from the prime minister today, speaking to a conference of

presidents for major American Jewish organizations, say, look, to get the hostages back, go pressure, the Qatari authorities.

And we've had a response now from the Qatari spokesman at the foreign ministry, saying this. "The Israeli prime minister's recent statements

calling on Qatar to pressure Hamas to release hostages are nothing but a new attempt to stall and prolong the war, for reasons that had become

obvious to everyone."

Hamas is the main -- and Qatar is the main interlocutor between Israel and Hamas at the moment, Egypt as well. But it really seems that the tensions

between the Israeli government, the prime minister in particular, and Qatari -- and Qatari officials is growing.

We've heard criticism before, the prime minister putting criticism on Qatari officials for not doing enough. This is another step along that

path. And that, of course does not augur well for success of negotiations.

ANDERSON: Nic, it's good to have you Thank you. Nic is in Tel Aviv in Israel.

Jordan's foreign minister, blasting Israel for as he calls it, pushing people to the abyss with its military offensive in Gaza. Have a listen to

Ayman Al Safadi, speaking on Sunday.


AYMAN AL SAFADI, JORDANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: We should not be responsible for cleaning Israel's mess. And before I address that, we got to frame

things in the right perspective. What we see in Gaza is a devastating war, mass murder, destruction of the livelihood of 2 million people, pushing

people to the abyss, destroying hospitals, killing journalists, killing medics, killing humanitarian workers. And we've got to frame things in the

right -- in the right context.

I think Jordan and Egypt had been --


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Even despite the building of the enclosure?

AL SAFADI: -- unequivocally, about that displacement is not acceptable, it's a violation of international law, it's a war crime. But beyond that,

it will solve nothing, it will just set the stage for further conflict.


ANDERSON: Well, the Jordanian foreign minister, responding there to a question about whether his country will accept displaced Palestinians.

Meantime, Egypt, which directly borders Gaza is also preparing Palestinians fleeing Israeli attacks are increasingly being pushed closer to Egyptian


Recent satellite images appear to show Egyptian workers constructing new sections of a highly fortified wall as well as bulldozers, creating a long

buffer zone. Officials from Egypt and Jordan.

And this is since the outset of this most recent conflict have repeatedly expressed concerns over the human cost of Israel's operation in Gaza's

south, which is being carried out in a small contained area where more than a million Palestinian civilians are sheltering.

And since the outset of this war, they have said that these are red lines when it comes to pushing Palestinians out of either Gaza or indeed the West

Bank, but particularly out of Gaza.

Now, for more on Egypt's preparations at its border with Gaza, take a look at our latest newsletter. That's, meanwhile, in the Middle East. Just scan

the Q.R. code on your screen or use the CNN app on your smart phone.

It will drop that newsletter to your inbox three times a week. It is excellent analysis. Keep you bang up to date about what is going on in the

conflict across a region indeed and can give you some really smart analysis.


Coming up next, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyadh al-Maliki is at the International Court of Justice calling for an immediate end to Israel's

occupation. I'll speak to him up next.


ANDERSON: Welcome back, you're watching CONNECT WORLD with me, Becky Anderson, here on CNN and wherever you are watching in the world, you are

more than welcome.

The International Court of Justice today heard arguments on the legal consequences Israel's occupation of the Palestinian authorities.

Now look, while this comes as the war rages on, in Gaza, this case actually arrives more than a year after the U.N. General Assembly voted to ask the

court for a non-binding opinion on what has been this long running dispute.

Israeli officials have long argued that the territories are formally occupied on the basis that they were captured from Jordan and Egypt, during

the 1967 war, not from a sovereign Palestinian state.

While the judges are expected to take months to deliberate before issuing their opinion in this case, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki is

calling for an immediate end to Israel's occupation, and impunity. Have a listen.


RIYAD AL-MALIKI, FOREIGN AFFAIRS MINISTER OF THE PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY: Ending Israel's impunity is a moral, political, and legal imperative.

Successive Israeli governments have given the Palestinian people only three options, displacement, subjugation, or death.


ANDERSON: There are some 50 countries providing sort of evidence or testimony in this case.

Riyadh, al-Maliki himself joins me now live from The Hague.

This has been a long time coming, since way before October the 7th. I just want wonder how important you believe this case is coming as it does at

this time?


ANDERSON: And how confident or not you are of a ruling in support of Palestine, sir?

AL-MALIKI: Well, you know, first of all, the time is -- coincidence has nothing to do with what happened on October 7th. We have been on this issue

for a while. It's happened that there are certain procedures to be followed by the ICJ. They were, first, submissions, and then, response to

submissions. And right now, it's the oral submissions. And it happened that, you know, it came at a time when also the ICJ is looking for the case

that South Africa has presented against Israel, vis-a-vis, you know, genocide case.



AL-MALIKI: Obviously, we have been, as Palestinian people waiting for such an opportunity for the last 75 years. What we are looking for is partial

justice, not necessarily full justice, because we know, the situation, the implications of it, the complication of the matter. And we do believe that,

regardless, if, you know, the case is an advisory opinion, still, we do believe that it carries with it a moral responsibility, huge ethical

responsibility, political one.

And, you know, if Israel understands what that really means, they should be very much worried. But at least, we know that there are countries who are

supporting Israel for so many years --



AL-MALIKI: You know, they have also to look carefully into this such proceedings.

ANDERSON: Let's talk about the prospect for a Palestinian horizon, a Palestinian state at this point, as these this testimony continues, as the

ICJ, of course, you know, very prescient at present that we are having this conversation.

The Biden administration, and a group of Arab states working on a comprehensive plan for long term peace between Israel and Palestinians,

including a timeframe for the establishment of a Palestinian State. And the talk is, sir, that this could be announced as early as the next several


Firstly, is the Palestinian Authority, very specific -- specifically involved in those discussions? And what can you tell us as far as detail is

concerned on what that plan looks like?

AL-MALIKI: Well, first of all, yes, we do not expect from these proceedings in the ICJ, you know, to bring us an independent Palestinian State. There

is, you know, a parallel track that we are working closely with.

Yes, Palestine -- State of Palestine is an integral part of this collective exercise, it started to be a trilateral exercise between Palestine, Jordan,

and Egypt, then, Saudi Arabia joined, and after that, United Arab Emirates, and Qatar.

And the six of us sat together in order to draft a document that represents the collective vision of such Arab countries, about how to, you know, move

from the crisis in which we are in today into an opportunity that will be, you know, a win for all of us, where we are looking for opening a political


And at the top of it is, of course, you know, the materialization of the State of Palestine. And that's why, you know, I think United States of

America and other countries have realize that if we want really to avoid the repetition of what happened on October 7th, the only way is really to

talk about the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.

If we are talking about how to provide security for the State of Israel, you know, the only solution is the establishment of an independent

Palestinian State.



AL-MALIKI: So, there is right now consensus among so many.


ANDERSON: As I understand it --

AL-MALIKI: And this is not (INAUDIBLE) Arabs --



AL-MALIKI: But also, Americans and Europeans that, you know, is the right solution to the situation in the Middle East today is the independent

Palestinian State.

ANDERSON: Let me talk -- let's talk about the detail of that. As I understand it, there would be, and this is -- this is clearly after the end

of a -- the period of fighting.

I mean, you are calling for an immediate ceasefire. I mean, that is echoed around this region, that is not something that Israel is prepared to

countenance at present.


In fact, it is talking about a further push into Rafah should the hostages not be released before Ramadan.

We're talking about the day after it here. I just want a little bit more detail on that plan. As I understand it, it calls for the establishment of

a technocratic government, a government that would run both Gaza and the West Bank.

So, two questions to you. Is their agreement about that technocratic government? And what a -- and what an election, and an elected body might

look like going forward?

And what role the Palestinian Authority -- is the Palestinian Authority, to your mind, fit for purpose to be involved, in any way, like it is shaped at

present? Or are we talking here about something completely different, a return to the kind of wider PLO and a different governing body to represent

the Palestinian people?

AL-MALIKI: Well, you know, first of all, the Palestinian Authority is the legitimate authority that operates in the Palestinian occupied territory,

both West Bank and Gaza.

And since we are talking about, you know, that Gaza, and the West Bank is one territorial unit, then, obviously, such Palestinian Authority, and the

government that it represents, should, you know, extend its mandate into Gaza, and operates in Gaza, the way that really operates in the West Bank.

There is right now clear understanding among all countries, with the exception of Israel, of course, that the Palestinian Authority is the only

legitimate authority that can exercise such functions in the occupied Palestinian territory.

The only -- the only addition to this kind of vision is that, you know, we should really move from the current government that really operates in the

West Bank into a new government of technocrats that will exert its mandate, both in the West Bank and also in Gaza.

And we, as the Palestinian Authority --


ANDERSON: Right. With a view to elections -- with a view to elections --

AL-MALIKI: Could you -- we keep talk about elections in a moment?


ANDERSON: That would be a technocratic government. with a view to elections going forward.

AL-MALIKI: Look, could you talk about elections today? You know, Becky, you know, when we are -- we are in the midst of this type of a conflict?


AL-MALIKI: Could we talk about elections, when, you know, 80 percent of the Palestinians in Gaza has been really displaced?


ANDERSON: No, you couldn't.

AL-MALIKI: And they have no place, you know, to have shelter?

You know, you cannot talk about, you know, elections today, yes, we do not discard the possibility of holding elections.


AL-MALIKI: But when the time really comes when we are already prepared, when we start, you know, moving people back to their homes.


ANDERSON: Understood.

MALIKI: Even if they are destroyed homes, when we talk about the construction, and when we provide them security and safe shelter,

obviously, bring back, you know, services to people in Gaza. The way also, in the West bank.

ANDERSON: Understood.

AL-MALIKI: Then, obviously, you know, we have we have responsibility to act upon it, and including, of course, you know, possible elections. But before

that, you know, we don't see an election --


ANDERSON: Yes, and as I understand that, that is part of part of this deal, this plan that's being -- that's being created. Understood.

Let me -- let me just, I'm running out of time, I just want to put one further question to you, sir. It's good to have you -- important to have


Russia has invited all Palestinian factions to meet in Moscow, in a week's time. The Palestinian Authority is still seeking unity with Hamas, as I

understand it.

How important are these talks, and what role does Russia have to play here, Sir?

AL-MALIKI: Look, you know, there are many countries who would like to help. And Russia is one of such countries. You know, there are others like, you

know, Turkey, like Qatar, like Egypt, Jordan, Algeria, and many others.

And if, you know, tomorrow, the United States of America will invite the Palestinian factions to meet, you know, in Washington, or, you know, in

Camp David, I don't think that anyone will say, no. As long as it is really genuine, And the intention is really to bring about reconciliation among

all the Palestinians.

This is for us is very important. If we are wanting to talk about a you know, technocratic government. If we want to talk about territorial unity

between West Bank and Gaza, if we want to talk about reconstruction, if we want to talk about ceasefire, and the deal to release hostages, we have to

talk to everybody, including Hamas.

Otherwise, you know, we cannot achieve all these objectives that we intend to achieve.


So, it's very important to open up and to find, you know, a consensus among all Palestinian factions about, you know, where we want really to go.

Not necessarily -- when you talk about technocratic government, it is really technocratic, not nonpartisan, kind of government. And that's for

sure. But, you know, we need the support and the endorsement of all factions in Palestine.



AL-MALIKI: -- in order for such government to succeed in its mission.

ANDERSON: Understood. It's good to have you, served Thank you very much indeed, for joining us. We're back after this quick break. Stay with us.


ANDERSON: Russia has been hit with a slew of international sanctions. But the country is still able to use oil money to help pay for its war with

Ukraine. CNN's Nick Paton Walsh takes a look at how.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Blue, tranquil, a world away from Ukraine's frontlines.

We headed out to where Russia may be filling its war chest to a record high. Crude oil tankers sometimes engaged in opaque, secretive transfers.

These two, under sanctions, busting suspicions in the past.

The big one from Russia's Black Sea coast, transferring crude to the smaller one, which also came from Russia.

WALSH: Yes, hey, you get a feeling of how hard it is to keep track of all of this. Just transfers occurring out here in the blue expanse. Massive

trade of billions of dollars of oil, some of which ends up helping the Kremlin fund its war.

WALSH (voice-over): Tens of millions of billions of barrels of crude likely transferred like this last year. And where it ends up often unclear, which

is the point.

AMI DANIEL, CEO, WINDWARD: That's probably above 60 million barrels that are being transferred in the middle of the ocean, purposefully. So, you

really needed to have a reason, because it's much easier not to do that.

WALSH (voice-over): These two have a messy past, said the shipping monitor that led us to them.

DAVID TANNENBAUM, POLE STAR GLOBAL: The larger tanker that you guys saw is actually owned by a large company that bought a lot of these tankers when

Russian sanctions came out, right? And so, they've been heavily associated with what we call the dark fleet, which is these tankers that are servicing

Russia, Iran, Venezuela, and other sort of sanctions concerns.

So, the smaller one actually has an interesting history itself. It was once owned by a sanctioned person.

WALSH (voice-over): Russia is richer than ever before. Last year's budget was $320 billion, about a third of which spent on its invasion of Ukraine.

Sanctions were meant to dent oil paying for war. But instead, India has stepped in and is now buying 13 times more Russian crude oil than before

the war, worth $37 billion last year, says one estimate, exclusively given to CNN.


India buying Russian crude isn't sanctioned but is buying so much, Russia might need to dodge some sanctions to ship it all. We asked an artificial

intelligence firm, Winwood, to analyze all global shipping last year for direct shipments between Russia and India. And they found a huge 588.

A separate analysis by Pole Star Global for CNN revealed over 200 other ships that left Russia last year and did a ship-to-ship transfer off the

Greek coast to another boat that then went on to India.

TANNENBAUM: Ship-to-ship transfers are done legally, but they're also used as an illicit tactic to evade sanctions, to sort of try and confuse the

authorities as to where this oil is coming from and who's buying it at the end of the day.

WALSH (voice-over): India says these shipments fuel its economy without raising global prices by competing with the West for Middle Eastern oil.

But there's a complication for the West here, as India refines the oil and sells those products on.

And the biggest buyer of products from Russian crude last year, according to exclusive new data obtained by CNN, the United States, over $1 billion

worth from India. Way more, if you add to what U.S. allies, also imposing sanctions on Russia, also import.

ISAAC LEVI, CENTER FOR RESEARCH ON ENERGY AND CLEAN AIR: So, we've seen an increase in 2023 of 44 percent of oil products that are being made from

Russian crude oil flowing into those countries that impose sanctions on Russia, such as the U.S., the U.K., and E.U.

WALSH (voice-over): But Russia's even on the make from the refining. This Indian port and refinery, Vadinar, sent an estimated $50 million of refined

products to the U.S. last year. And guess who owns nearly half of it? Rosneft, the Russian state oil giant, enriching the Kremlin.

Putin earning money on the crude, probably the shipping, but also the refining and the resale.

DANIEL: Really, you're talking about something which is amazingly lucrative, and therefore, the temptation to do that as a person or as a

company is absolutely huge for the traders.

And they could just make 10, 20, 30, 40 million within four or five months. I'm not sure there's any other opportunity in the world to do that. And if

there is, please let me know what.

WALSH (voice-over): An opaque chain of billions risking Moscow, having unlimited funds for its wars.

Nick Paton, Walsh, CNN, London.


ANDERSON: We'll going to take a very quick break. Back after this.


Well, we've been discussing this hour a renewed push in Europe to get military aid into Ukraine's hands, with U.S. President Joe Biden just

commented on that issue with U.S. aid, of course, stalled in Congress. Here is what he said just moments ago.



JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't think that we're making a big mistake in that respond.

Look, the way they are walking away from the spread of Russia, the way they're walking away from NATO, the way they're walking away from meeting

our obligations is just too shocking. I've been -- for a while, I've never seen anything like this.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- that's will make any difference in (INAUDIBLE) House Republicans to (INAUDIBLE) Ukraine aid? They're on vacation right


BIDEN: I hope so. Of course, I'm not sure in this -- thing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you going to impose more sanctions on the Russia over not (INAUDIBLE)?

BIDEN: We already have sanctions though we know, we're considering additional sanctions, yes. Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you support --


ANDERSON: Well, drumming up support for Ukraine is at the top of the European Union's agenda, foreign ministers meeting as we speak in Brussels.

We spoke to the minister of foreign affairs for Lithuania earlier this hour. He is concerned about a lack of political will and says this

continent of Europe, the European Union, and the wider -- the wider region needs to step up in support of key that what is a very, very difficult


And One of the eastern cities in Ukraine just fallen to the Russians and that is a significant loss at this time.

That's it for CONNECT WORLD. Stay with CNN. "STATE OF THE RACE" is up next.