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Zelenskyy To G7: We Need More Weapons To Fend Off Russian Bombs; Ukraine: 18 Russian Missiles Intercepted This Morning; Zelenskyy Asks G7 For "Air Shield" & More Russia Sanctions; G7 Meeting Focuses On Air Defense, Energy Uncertainty; JD Vance, Tim Ryan Clash In Debate As Oh Senate Race Heats Up; GOP Spending 3x More Than Dems On Ads In OH Sen Race; Today: GOP Senators Scott, Cotton To Stump For Walker In GA; Walker Hit By Abortion Scandal Amid Tight Senate Race In GA. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired October 11, 2022 - 12:00   ET



JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Hello, and welcome to Inside Politics. I'm Abby Phillip in for John King today. More Russian strikes hit hospitals, museums and playgrounds and office buildings. But how long can Vladimir Putin keep up an all-out aerial assault?


JOHN KIRBY, NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS COORDINATOR: It's clear that Mr. Putin is having trouble with his own defense industrial base. But we know he's having problems with (PGMs) precision-guided munitions, in particular. I mean, you don't have to look any further than the fact that some of the drones that were used over the course of this weekend were Iranian drones


PHILLIP: Plus, a big battleground debate that clash in Ohio.


J.D. VANCE, (R) OHIO SENATE CANDIDATE: Tim Ryan is put on a costume, where he pretends to be a reasonable moderate.

REP. TIM RYAN (D) OHIO SENATE CANDIDATE: We're not here to just get in a fight, or just tow the Democratic party line. I'm here to speak the truth.


PHILLIP: And big name, Republicans are in Georgia today to shore up Herschel Walker's scandal ridden Senate campaign. But up first, Ukraine says it needs more weapons and it needs them right now. Today an emergency G7 meeting responding to a major escalation by Vladimir Putin, western allies are promising undeterred and steadfast support for Kyiv. And Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, is now appealing for more weapons to stop this. Moscow's assault from the sky, Russian bombs triggering nationwide air raid sirens in Ukraine again today.

CNN is covering this new wave of attacks from around the globe. We will go to the White House in just a moment for more on that G7 meeting. But first, we're going to start in Ukraine, where CNN's Nick Paton Walsh is. Nick, another fraught day for the Ukrainian people.

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: Certainly Abby, I should point out though, less so than yesterday. But like everybody in Ukraine, we were working at 9am by our smartphones buzzing the likelihood, an alert saying on the likelihood of rocket attacks during the day. Now there have been 33 targets hit according to Ukrainian officials, a lot of these seem to be relating to energy infrastructure, and also the 33 missiles or drones taken out of the sky by Ukraine's air defenses.

So, a day of similar success it seems than yesterday, but less launches by Russia from what we can tell at the moment. And a sense, I think, possibly slightly less of the major cities, feeling like their civilian areas were under attack. But the question of course, you heard there from John Kirby is, how big is Russia's arsenal of these cruise missiles and guided munitions.

Speaking to the G7 in a virtual meeting, Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, said that they believe their intelligence suggests Russia may have purchased 2400 attack drones from Iran. They've been used to great effect in various around the frontline, but also now being deployed at its hits' parts of the critical infrastructure that Russia seems to be trying to disable ahead of winter coming in here in Ukraine.

But Zelenskyy also using that opportunity with the G7 to push for an air shield, that is something they've been asking for a long time. But the ferocity of yesterday's attacks, I think, cause the White House, frankly, to immediately agree to that. We don't know what the technical details of that are going to be.

And Zelenskyy also asking the G7 too to push towards further sanctions, possibly an oil price cap for Russia's hydrocarbon supply to the world, and also to try to reduce possibly one of the other threats that emerged yesterday that got less attention. And that's Belarus, the neighbor between Russia and Ukraine. Its authoritarian leader Alexander Lukashenko saying, it wanted to join a Russian force of some description, potentially, because they claimed falsely that Ukraine was about to invade Belarus.

Zelenskyy saying, well, in that case, let's put an international monitoring group on the Belarus-Ukraine border. A lot of escalation here, still though, I should point out, Russia losing on the front lines here, and Ukraine still receiving international support, but after yesterday, is actually agreeing to the parts of his shopping list for air defense systems. Abby?

PHILLIP: Nick, thank you, as always, for your excellent reporting. And please stay safe out there. But now let's go to Kaitlan Collins over at the White House. Collins, what do we know about this emergency G7 meeting that just wrapped up a little while ago? KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. It was called in response to these latest attacks, going after civilian targets in Ukraine by Russia. That is something that obviously caused great alarm among these leaders, the United States, its European allies, and Japan, all on this phone call that just happened with President Biden. Obviously, President Zelenskyy, as Nick noted, lead that call off. Giving them an update on what they've seen on the ground there and making a plea for what he says Ukraine needs, especially in light of these recent attacks, but also overall generally.


And so, we are told that during this call the G7 leaders pledged their undeterred, they said financial and military support for Ukraine. They also promised to enact severe consequences if Russia does what people are fearing if Russia could potentially do, something President Biden spoke in blunt terms about last week, which is potentially using a nuclear or biological or chemical weapon in Ukraine. They pledged responses to that.

And they also rebuked that sham annexation, illegal annexation that Russia conducted over four regions in Ukraine last week, promising to never basically recognize those as legitimate, all of these leaders coming together to say that. But what's important here are two things, which is one that President Zelenskyy is asking for more sanctions generally, on Russia's energy sector. He is obviously asking for more advanced systems. President Biden noting this as he posted a photo of this call happening, a virtual phone call.

And I think what's most important about this call is that these leaders coming together, saying that they still stand behind Ukraine. And that comes amid questions about how long western support could last for Ukraine, whether or not a brutal winter that many are forecasting is going to affect that support. Right now, they seem to be sending the message that they believe it's not.

PHILLIP: Yes. They very much do. Kaitlan Collins, thank you so much for all of that. And joining us now, Andrea Kendall-Taylor. She is the former Deputy National Intelligence Officer for Russia and Eurasia. Andrea, so much going on here. It's a really tense moment. But to the question that Nick Paton Walsh just raised. Well, do you have a sense of the capacity of the Russians here? Are they just trying to make a point? Or is this kind of assault, something that they really can sustain?

ANDREA KENDALL-TAYLOR, FMR. DEPUTY NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE OFFICER FOR RUSSIA: Well, I think the estimates of Russia's stockpile are hard to come by and estimates out in the press and the open sources vary wildly. But I think we can say two things confidently. First, we can see that the rate of Russia strikes had decreased significantly from the beginning of the war, right? The attacks yesterday and today were the biggest attacks we've seen, really since the earliest days. And so that does suggests that there are some constraints on Russia stockpile, that they won't be able to sustain that rate. The other thing that the White House spokesperson mentioned was that we've seen the mix of Russian weapons change over time, and we're seeing fewer of those more sophisticated precision guided munitions. I think it's important to underscore though, that they're not running out of weapons anytime soon. It's not eminent. And so, these types of strikes on civilian targets are likely to continue. And the thing that's worrisome is the fewer of these sophisticated precision guided missiles that they have, the more civilian casualties we might see.

PHILLIP: And that's exactly why I think you're seeing the Ukrainian president asking for basically air defenses. What do you take that to mean - what can the U.S. provide them that can actually help protect? I mean, it's a really wide swath, and he pretty much all over Ukraine was under attack this week.

KENDALL-TAYLOR: It is. But we should also note although, so I think Russia launched somewhere close to hundred missiles yesterday. And the Ukrainians are noting that they successfully shot down almost half of them. So, they have the capability to do it. But they need more systems. They need more of these air defenses, so that they can continue to protect their civilian senators.

I was lucky enough to be in Ukraine about two and a half weeks ago and meeting with President Zelenskyy, even then he was pleading for more air defenses. This has been at the top of their list. And I really do hope that these horrible attacks only accelerate western efforts to provide them.

PHILLIP: I didn't know that you were in Ukraine. I mean, what more did you learn about what they are looking for? And do you get the sense that the United States is prepared to actually give them what they are asking?

KENDALL-TAYLOR: So, it does seem that we've heard from President Biden right that they, and especially in the wake of this attack, that the United States is going to stay in this as long as necessary. Over the course of the conflict, we see the United States continuing to shift what it provides Ukraine, based on what they need on the battlefield.

And so yes, I do think that the United States is doing its best to provide them with what they need. What they need, according to the Zelenskyy is the air defense. It's the anti-artillery and also tanks. And that's the key. If they're going to retake territory, they've got to have tanks and other armored vehicles to do that.

PHILLIP: What's looming over a lot of this is the threat of nuclear acceleration. Take a listen to a former Russian foreign minister on CNN today, talking about whether he thinks that this is a real prospect.


ANDREI KOZYREV FORMER RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: He will not do it and its rational conclusion. He's drinking even water from NATO countries. He likes to live a good life. And he wears western made suits, and he has children. I mean, nobody knows how many, but he has and he's human being. So, he does not want to commit suicide with strategic nuclear weapons.



PHILLIP: Now that sounds very rational, but we're talking about Vladimir Putin here. Do you buy that argument that he won't risk, basically suicide in doing this?

KENDALL-TAYLOR: Well, I think the White House has been clear that the risk of Putin using a nuclear weapon has gone up, and we're talking about the tactical nuclear weapons. So, I think - I don't think it's eminent. And as we've seen, there's many ways that Putin can still escalate this conflict short of nuclear use. That's what this attack on civilian centers was about. But what I worry about over time is that the more success that the Ukrainians have on the battlefield, the fewer options that Putin has, that risk does go up. And that's something I think we all have to be prepared.

PHILLIP: The risk here is that his back is up against the wall. Andrea Kendall-Taylor, thanks for being here today. And tonight, President Biden will sit down for a first exclusive interview with CNN. You can see it at 9pm eastern time tonight on CNN with Jake Tapper. But up next for us. Ohio's to Senate candidate square off in a very tense debate, and some of the attacks got personal.


VANCE: This is a ridiculous accusation from a guy by the way, 20 years in Washington, who has never actually had to employ people.

RYAN: You think we're stupid J.D. and we're not. I'm just telling you that you're from Silicon Valley.





PHILLIP: It was debate night in Ohio yesterday. Trump back to venture capitalist. J.D. Vance locked in a fierce head-to-head with Democrat Tim Ryan in the race to be the state's next United States Senator. Now Republicans have been pouring money into ads, linking Congressman Ryan to unpopular democratic policies, but Ryan had quite a comeback.


RYAN: I've ran against Nancy Pelosi. I have taken on Bernie Sanders. I have opposed Joe Biden on numerous pieces of legislation that he wants to try to promote and push. And I've agreed with Donald Trump on trade, renegotiating NAFTA, being firmer on China defense. Ohio needs and ask kicker, not an ass kisser. VANCE: I'm not going to take lectures on dignity and self-respect from a guy caught on video, kissing up to Chuck Schumer and begging him for a promotion to his next job.


PHILLIP: And joining me now to discuss all this, CNN's Nia-Malika Henderson, Julie Hirschfeld Davis of The New York Times, and Francesca Chambers of USA Today. Lot of kissing, other things going on in that debate last night, but a really feisty showing for both of them. But for particularly, I think, Tim Ryan, who is kind of - he's duking it out, and he would say, really, all on his own to try to flip this seat that Democrats basically say, Ohio is like, kind of gone.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I mean, listen, all of this sort of prognosticators, say this is a lien or state we've seen in previous presidential elections, it's gone heavily for Trump in the last two cycles. And so, that's why Democrats aren't really putting much money into it. Tim Ryan is running a very good race. He has his own money, something like $25 million or so putting that on the air there.

But Democrats really have to figure out if this is a race, maybe they want to put a little bit extra money into because they've got a state that they could possibly flip. It's obviously an open seat. So, we'll see. But I think Tim Ryan doing much better than I think people thought he would be.

PHILLIP: And one thing that I hear pretty consistently from Democrats, even the ones who don't necessarily think this is vulnerable. They think he's running a great campaign. And part of it is what he is doing in this clip, distancing himself from national Democrats.


VANCE: Tim Ryan and Joe Biden have conspired together to reject every border wall funding proposal to reject every proposal to cut off the amnesty, to reject every proposal that would actually secure our border and stop the flow of these illegal drugs.

RYAN: Kamala Harris is absolutely wrong on that. It's not secure. We have a lot of work to do.


PHILLIP: So, will that work?

JULIE HIRSCHFELD DAVIS, CONGRESSIONAL EDITOR, THE NEW YORK TIMES: I mean, Tim Ryan is making a pretty good run. And as he said, I mean, he has managed in his campaign to do something, which is relatively difficult for members of either political party, which is to distance himself from the party brand, in this case from President Biden. And I think that that's part of the reason why he is still been holding his own and what is otherwise a pretty difficult state for Democrats.

I think the value judgment that that party officials and strategists have had to make is, this is really a reach. If you look at the fundamentals of the state, if you look at the fundamentals of the race, and given the math that they're facing, they really need to double down. I think a lot of them would say, in the places where they have more of a chance to pick up a seat.

And so, this would be great if they could get the Rob Portman seat. He's retiring, and they would love it. But I think that the reason why we're seeing this, this sort of lack of engagement, relatively speaking, is because it is really a reach even though he has been able to really distinguish himself from the rest of his party in a lot of ways.

FRANCESCA CHAMBERS, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, USA TODAY: And just to build on Julie's point there. Look, Democrats are most focused on keeping the seats that they already have in a really tough election year. They're putting money into states like Georgia, where you have incompetence on the ballot, as well as Arizona and Nevada. And so, this just has not been top of mind for them.

But one Democratic Party official telling me today, as you were just saying, Nia, that they view this as a Republican state. It's just a tough situation, but that they do see Ryan as a good candidate, who's really giving Vance a run for his money.

PHILLIP: And one of the problems I think, and the reason I use here, a lot of frustration. The Ryan camp is J.D. Vance was kind of struggling. He was a little on the ropes. Then you see the Republicans mostly really Mitch McConnell whoring money in to give him a bit of a money advantage, 15 million on the GOP side to just 5 million on the Democratic side. And he was on morning Joe, this morning talking about just the fact that he is all by his lonesome over in Ohio. Listen?



RYAN: We still can't get the kind of the air support that the J.D. Vance is getting. But look, make no mistake. We just had a huge fundraising haul. We raised $17 million for the national, you know, in state donor base are being very, very helpful. You know, low dollar donors. I kind of like it a little bit. You know that were David versus Goliath because we're going to shock the world.


HENDERSON: It wouldn't be a shock.

PHILLIP: I don't like this, but yes, you kind of doesn't like this.

HENDERSON: Yes. I think that's right. I mean, listen, more money is more money in a race this close in a state as big as Ohio. Listen, it's a red state. It's a red year, which is why Democrats are saying listen, let's focus on Nevada, lists focus on Georgia. Let's focus on a rich state like maybe Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, rather than Ohio, which has proven to be a heartbreaking state for Democrats over the last (crosstalk) PHILLIP: Yes. I mean, when they think it's close, it's just not that close, and that's why they are holding back. But coming up next for us. Top Republicans continue to throw support behind embattled Senate candidate Herschel Walker. We will be live on the ground in Georgia. Coming up next.




PHILLIP: Today Republican reinforcements are in Georgia to boost Herschel Walker Senate bid. The campaign has been reeling since The Daily Beast reported that Walker paid for a woman to have an abortion. CNN's Eva McKend is with us now live from Carrollton, Georgia. So, Eva, what can we expect today when the cavalry arrives for Herschel Walker?

EVA MCKEND, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER: Oh, Abby, this really amounts to a show of force, as Senator Rick Scott, Senator Tom Cotton, Walker expected to take a defiant tone. And that is in line with the response that we've seen from national Republicans. Now just about a week out from this scandal, really a robust defense from national Republicans.

Senator Scott chairs the powerful National Republican Senatorial Committee, that is the fundraising arm for Senate Republicans. And to give you a commitment that the NRSC has to this race, they are redirecting $2.5 million in ad spending from New Hampshire to Georgia and other states. Meanwhile, a democratic PAC up with the new ad that I actually saw just this morning as I was waking up, and it uses Christian Walker's words - Christian Walker's words against his own father. Take a listen?

(Video Playing)

Now a Republican strategist that I spoke to here on the stage, doesn't think that this pile on will work. Meanwhile, guess what we won't hear, see here today. Governor Brian Kemp. He is campaigning separately. And while when asked about this, these allegations that he said that he would support the entire ticket. He isn't notably giving the same sort of robust response and defensive Walker that we're seeing from national Republicans. Abby?

PHILLIP: Eva McKend, thank you so much for that great reporting. And we are back here with our panel. Very interesting what Eva points out about how the Democrats are playing these allegations, focusing on the abuse, maybe less so on the abortion. I mean, do you see a strategy there?

HENDERSON: Sure. You know, it's a difficult thing to try to navigate. I mean, do you pile on this if you're the Democrats? Or do you try to stay on message on something else? Because it's such a salacious story. It's obviously all over the state of Georgia. You want to kind of figure out how do you get those swing voters, right, particularly college educated white women in the suburbs of Georgia? And what is your message to them?

Obviously, if you're on the Republican side, you're sort of wrapping yourself in the good book. You're trying to speak Jesus as much as you can to those white evangelical voters, who have so far or rallied around Herschel Walker, because they really don't have a choice at this point.

PHILLIP: It is also notable that there's also a split ticket factor here. There could be a lot of voters. I mean, already, we're seeing this in the polls, who vote for Brian Kemp at the gubernatorial level, and then they skip right over Herschel Walker. But I just want to play this from Erick Erickson. He's a pretty plugged in Republican in the state of Georgia, explaining how Republicans can end up, you know, pulling that lever for Herschel Walker, even if they personally oppose abortion and politicians who support abortion.


ERICK ERICKSON, HOST, "THE ERICK ERICKSON SHOW" ON WSB RADIO: Look, I find both candidates here, terrible candidates. I'm appalled that both parties have the candidates they have. But when you're a voter, and you've got the binary choice of a guy who may have done this 13 years ago versus a guy who wants you as a taxpayer to pay for it tomorrow. I think voters have a right to say, you know, I don't like either of these candidates, but I don't want to pay for this, and Raphael Warnock want to do.


DAVIS: Yes. I mean, I think what has been become clear just in the days after these revelations came to light is that, you know, the abortion issue itself is less clear cut in favor of Raphael Warnock and the Democrats. That I think is why we're seeing these ads, focus on the violence, focus on the abuse. The sorts of things that might sway people on the margins.