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Rescue Operations Underway at Site of Russian Drone Attack in Kyiv; Gunmen Kill 11 in Attack on Russian Military Recruits; NATO and Russia to Hold Long-Planned Nuclear Force Exercises. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired October 17, 2022 - 05:00   ET



CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: All right, good morning, welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world, it is Monday, October 17th, I'm Christine Romans. We begin this morning in Ukraine's capital where rescue operations are under way right now after Russian forces attacked just a short time ago using kamikaze drones.

That's according to Ukrainian officials. The city of Kyiv hit at least four times. I want to get straight to CNN's Clarissa Ward. She is on the streets of downtown Kyiv. Clarissa, what are you seeing? What do we know?

CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So, Christine, we're here at the sites of one of those four explosions that woke Kyiv up this morning. And I think you can see behind me, this is an ongoing rescue effort. This is quite clearly a residential building. We have already seen one body being removed from here.

We also saw another elderly woman being rescued from the rubble, actually from one of the balcony on the neighboring building. And we just spoke with the head of the ambulance services who says they don't know for sure, but they do believe it's likely that there are other people still trapped inside that building.

Earlier on, there had been reports of voices being heard from underneath the rubble. But you can just get a sense here, Christine, I think, if we sort of look around of just how chaotic this scene is. There are dozens and dozens of paramedics, firemen, rescue workers. There are many journalists as well who have gathered here, and we actually also just spoke to the mayor of Kyiv, Vitali Klitschko who said that this was quite clearly an attack on a civilian target.

Here you see this residential building, but the likely-intended target was Kyiv's civilian infrastructure, which Russia has been hitting harder and harder in the past week, clearly, trying to cripple energy plants, power plants, heating plants especially as we go into the Winter. But the effect of all this, you can imagine is quite dramatic in terms of the psyche of people living here in the capital.

Up until last Monday, it had been relatively quiet here since the beginning of the war. Now, you have hordes of kamikaze drones coming in, dropping explosives on to residential areas right in the heart of the capital. The Ukrainian Air Force saying they intercepted 15 kamikaze drones trying to get into the capital this morning. And obviously, four of them did manage to strike and cause explosions like the one you see behind me, Christine.

ROMANS: It's been some months, Clarissa, of relative calm in Kyiv and Russia was retreating on the battlefield. This seems like a new strategy from the Russian president, the Russian military.

WARD: It definitely seems like a new strategy. It's one that's very chilling and grim for ordinary civilians. I think the Ukrainian authorities would say, this is kind of a mark of desperation that the Russians feel they have no recourse left on the battlefield, but to try to strike at civilian targets, at civilian infrastructure. And clearly, they want to maximize whatever damage they can do as this country heads into the Winter.

Obviously, it gets very cold here in the Winter, and that's why you're seeing attempts to hit things like heating plants, like energy plants. But the -- you know, the consequence, of course, of that is that it does have a profound impact on the psyche. I asked the mayor how this is affecting the people of Kiev. He says, you know, they want to intimidate us. They want to frighten us, but what they're actually doing is making people even angrier and making people want to fight even more, Christine.

ROMANS: Interesting, all right, Clarissa Ward, thank you so much for that, keep us posted -- a lot of work happening there behind you. Thanks, Clarissa. Eleven people were killed and 15 others wounded when a gunman opened fire on Russian military recruits at a training ground in Russia's Belgorod region.

The Kremlin claims the gunmen were from former Soviet states, branding the attack as an act of terrorism. Frederik Pleitgen live from Dnipro, Ukraine. What more, Fred, do we know about this attack on Russian military draftees?


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it certainly is one that seems to be -- have the --devastating for the Russians, Christine. And one of the things we need to know about the Belgorod region, it is right on the area bordering Ukraine, and it is really a very militarized town there in Russia.

It's where the Russians have a lot of their military stationed that they've been using for the war in Ukraine, but it's also a place where a lot of that training takes place for those more than 200,000 Russians who have already been mobilized to then go and fight in Ukraine. And this happened over the weekend when they were obviously training shooting, and then two of the people who were there, apparently, opened fire on a crowd of those being mobilized but of course, also on the trainers as well.

And as you mentioned, the Russians are saying that 11 people at least were killed, 15 people were wounded. And generally, in this Belgorod region, that's one of the few areas in Russia where the war is really affecting also the population there in Belgorod, and that city of Belgorod. There were also some strikes that the Russians say were done by the Ukrainian military infrastructure in Belgorod, also some military installations as well.

And now this very devastating attack. It's unclear who exactly was behind this, whether or not there were some larger plot, whether something else was behind it, but it certainly is the case that this is something that is absolutely devastating for that mobilization effort that Vladimir Putin has been undertaking. And of course, we also saw Vladimir Putin right before that took place, saying that the mobilization is going to end soon.

He said within the next two weeks. It's clearly something that's been weighing the Russians down. And now, this incident certainly will make it even tougher as well, Christine.

ROMANS: Yes, all right, Fred Pleitgen, thank you so much for that. NATO and Russia are both conducting annual nuclear force exercises this month, NATO starting today, Russia expected to begin in the next two weeks. Until then, the U.S. is monitoring Moscow for any unexpected movement of its nuclear arsenal.

National Security adviser Jake Sullivan tells CNN, the use of any form of nuclear weapon by Russia against Ukraine will be met with the same response.


JAKE SULLIVAN, NATION SECURITY ADVISER, UNITED STATES: The use of a nuclear weapon on the battlefield in Ukraine is the use of a nuclear weapon on the battlefield in Ukraine, and we're not going to slice the salami. So, the notion that somehow there's differences in use here, I think is a dangerous notion from our perspective.


ROMANS: Clare Sebastian is monitoring the latest developments for us. Clare?

CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Christine. These exercises, both the NATO exercises and the Russian ones expected to take place, as you say, over the next two weeks are both planned. They are regular events, but of course, the context as Jake Sullivan made very clear there is far from normal.

We've been hearing increasingly blunt nuclear threats from Russia, they are on the back-foot on the battlefield. U.S. officials have been saying that they are depleting their supplies of conventional weapons, raising concerns that their nuclear capabilities will form an outsized share of their overall capabilities.

So, you know, obviously, when we see those exercises taking place in Russia, they will be closely watched by the U.S. and other NATO allies. And meanwhile, NATO is starting today with its own nuclear exercises over western Europe. This will involve 14 countries, 60 aircrafts including a U.S. B52 bombers. This will not include live weapons.

NATO has made that very clear. But of course, these exercises are part of that delicate balance of the nuclear deterrence that both sides endeavor to keep up. As I said, these will be very closely-watched probably by Russia as well and the U.S. and NATO will be closely watching when Russia starts its own exercises. For any sign that these exercises are perhaps a cover for something much less routine. Christine?

ROMANS: All right, Clare, thank you so much for that. Keep us posted. Just ahead, a suspected serial killer captured in California as he prepared to strike again. Plus, a grim warning from China's Xi Jinping. Will it affect Joe Biden's stand on Taiwan? But first, the arresting moment Herschel Walker flashed a badge during a debate. What the Senate hopeful is saying about it now.



ROMANS: Welcome back. It is now just over three weeks until election day in the United States. Early midterm voting starts today across the key swing state of Georgia. Tonight, GOP Governor Brian Kemp faces off against Democratic challenger Stacey Abrams in their first televised debate. The campaign is a rematch of 2018, but this time around Kemp and Abrams are both likely to focus on inflation with questions also expected on abortion, voting rights and guns.

Meantime, the signature moment from Friday night's Georgia Senate debate between Democrat Raphael Warnock and Republican challenger Herschel Walker was this:


SEN. RAPHAEL WARNOCK (D-GA): One thing I have not done, I've never pretended to be a police officer --



And I've never -- I've never threatened a shoot-out with the police.

HERSCHEL WALKER, CANDIDATE FOR U.S. SENATOR: And now I have to respond to that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are moving on --

WALKER: No, I have to respond to that --


WALKER: And you know what's so funny, I am -- worked with many police officers -- yes --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Walker, you are very well -- WALKER: Yes --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Aware of the rules tonight.

WALKER: Yes --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And you have a prop --

WALKER: Yes --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That is not allowed, sir.

WALKER: Yes --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I asked you to put that prop away --

WALKER: Well, it's not a prop. This is real.


ROMANS: So Walker held up that same badge, Sunday on "NBC". He said it was honorary, but insisted it gives him authority to quote, "do things for law enforcement".


WALKER: This is from my hometown. This is from Johnson County, from the sheriff of Johnson County, which is a legit badge. Everyone can make fun, but this badge gives me the right -- let me finish, if anything happens in this county, I have the right to work with the police in getting things done.


ROMANS: All right, let's bring in Matt Brown, national correspondent for "The Washington Post". Matt, good morning, nice to see you this morning. What did you make of Walker's police badge and then his claim on "NBC News" that it gives him the right to do things with it? Is this going to help him or hurt him three weeks left in the election?


MATTHEW BROWN, NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, WASHINGTON POST: Well, yes, definitely. It should be made clear that Walker's badge was not -- was not able to afford arrest abilities to him or any official capacities that you would actually see from a police officer.

But it is the type of prop or addition to his campaign that he's been able to accrue, and it just shows that he is actually a celebrity in a lot of Georgia. A lot of sheriff's departments all across Georgia actually do like him and support him, and these are the types of things that you give to local celebrities.

It doesn't actually mean that it has any power, but I do think that it is Walker's own unusual way of trying to show that he does have adoring fans from his days as a Heisman Trophy winner and a very popular college football player here at Georgia, that he does actually have some type of influence. I can't explain though why he continues to insist that this has been a thing that allows him to have actually ability to work with the police which sheriff departments all across Georgia have confirmed is not the case.

ROMANS: Right, the National Sheriffs Association also said not about this badge in particular, but in general, these badges are meant for a trophy case, right? They're given, as you said, to celebrities and the like. In that other tight Georgia race, Stacey Abrams and the incumbent Governor Brian Kemp, they face off for the first time tonight. What are some key debate points to look out for, Matt?

BROWN: This is a really interesting race to look at here. It's a rematch between current incumbent Governor Brian Kemp and his challenger Stacey Abrams. The two of them could not be more different in a lot of different policy areas.

Brian Kemp is a very strident conservative who is running on his economic record, his -- the fact that he had one of the shortest COVID lockdowns in the country during 2020, and that he stands on very socially conservative on issues like abortion and LGBTQ issues.

Abrams is basically diametrically opposed to him on a lot of those issues, and you're going to probably see her try to really hammer him on some of his economic policies in the state that she believes have left behind a lot of people. You're going to see her hammer him on questions about abortion and his ability to legislate issues relating to that.

And then we're going to see Kemp counter with questions over inflation, and whether or not Democrats more broadly have a plan to steer the American economy in a state --

ROMANS: Yes --

BROWN: That Kemp says is doing pretty well right now.

ROMANS: So we're going to see former President Obama on the campaign trail at the end of the month in Georgia, in Michigan and Wisconsin. How helpful is he going to be for Democratic candidates, do you think?

BROWN: Look, I mean, Obama is still one of the most popular Democrats in the country right now. Like he is still far more popular than the incumbent President Joe Biden, his former vice president, and still has large popular standing that his only -- if anything increased since his term in office.

That is something that I think is still going to be a very powerful tool for Democrats as they're able to see that Obama is going to take some of what is turned from, I guess, political celebrity into just actual celebrity, as he's able to go around the country and rally some campaigns in the Midwest and down here in Georgia that have so far in some cases lagged what Democrats would be hoping for to maintain their Senate majorities or to -- potentially here in Georgia flip the governor's mansion. ROMANS: Yes, I think you're going to see Transportation Secretary

Pete Buttigieg out there, too. We're told -- we're told by campaign operatives that a lot of campaigns are asking for him to show up as well. So, that's sort of interesting turn, too. Matthew Brown of "The Washington Post", nice to see you. Thank you.

All right, also tonight, the two candidates for Ohio's open Senate seat, Republican J.D. Vance and Democratic Congressman Tim Ryan meet in their second debate. This could get interesting. Last week's initial face-off descended into a fiery, sometimes personal attack from both men.

The two candidates running for governor in Arizona won't be sharing a debate stage, but on Sunday, Republican Kari Lake and Democrat Katie Hobbs both appeared on CNN "STATE OF THE UNION" one after the other.

Lake, an election denier backed by Donald Trump was pressed on whether she would accept the outcome of her own race if she loses.



KARI LAKE, CANDIDATE FOR GOVERNOR OF ARIZONA: Can we talk about the issues facing Arizonians?

BASH: Will you accept the results of the election? In your election, will you accept the results?

LAKE: Can we talk about the issues? I came on here thinking we were going to talk about the issues facing Arizonians right now.

BASH: We did --

LAKE: I'm here now --

BASH: Let's talk about the 2022 election. Will you accept the results of your election, Miss Lake?

LAKE: I'm running against a twice-convicted racist who cost the state taxpayers $3 million because of her hatred for people of color. I suggest --

BASH: My question is, will you accept the results of your election in November?

LAKE: I'm going to win the election and I will accept that result.

BASH: If you lose, will you accept that?

LAKE: I'm going to win the election and I will accept that result.


ROMANS: Democrat Katie Hobbs says Lake's refusal makes her unfit to be governor.


KATIE HOBBS, CANDIDATE FOR GOVERNOR OF ARIZONA: And she has not only as you heard, refused to say if she'll accept the results of this election, but also whether or not she would certify the 2024 presidential election if she's governor. This is disqualifying. This is a basic core of our democracy and she has nothing else to run on. And so this is what she has centered her entire campaign around.



ROMANS: Hobbs there also defended her refusal to debate, saying Lake is only interested in, quote, "creating a spectacle". All right, police say a suspected serial killer was caught while out hunting for more victims. And China making it clear the use of force is fair game when it comes to Taiwan.


ROMANS: A suspected serial killer is off the streets of Stockton, California. Police believe 43-year-old Wesley Brownlee is responsible for killing six people over the past year, and was in their words out hunting on a mission to kill when he was captured early Saturday morning.


A huge relief to terrified neighborhoods.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That was scary, very scary, but I'm glad he's been caught.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, it makes me feel a whole lot better. A lot of people are going to safer, feel a lot safer than, you know, him being loose.


ROMANS: Police say Brownlee had a mask and a firearm when he was captured, and that, they are certain they prevented another killing. They have not released a possible motive for the murders. The January 6th Committee plans to ask former senior Secret Service official Tony Ornato to testify again as part of its investigation.

Ornato also served as a top aide in the Trump White House. The panel believes he could provide valuable information about events leading up to and on January 6th. Here is what committee member Zoe Lofgren told CNN, Sunday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. ZOE LOFGREN (D-CA): We had a lot of questions, but we wanted to

get through all the documentary evidence that we have now been provided over a million documents. So it took a lot of time to go through that. We have successfully gone through it. And now we're in a position in the very near future to call the witnesses from the Secret Service back in for a few additional questions.


ROMANS: It is not clear if Ornato will speak to those claims. Remember by Cassidy Hutchinson, she testified that he told her about Trump lashing out and lunging at a member of his protective detail, demanding to be taken to the Capitol on January 6th. Where have all the snow crabs gone? Billions of the crustaceans have disappeared from the waters around Alaska, causing the Alaskan snow crab harvest to be cancelled for the first time ever.

Officials say there's been an alarming decline in the snow crab population from 8 billion in 2018 to just 1 billion last year. They cite over fishing is the cause. Scientists though say climate change is a significant factor in the crab's disappearance. Right, Chinese leader Xi Jinping taking steps to solidify his grip on power.

And two of America's largest supermarket chains coming together. What the merger means for you.