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Isa Soares Tonight

Brittney Griner Sentenced To 9 Years In A Russian Penal Colony; China Fires Missiles Near Taiwan; Hungarian President Visits Texas; Russian Build-Up In South Of Ukraine; U.S. Conservatives Welcomes Hungary's Orban; Officers Facing Federal Charges For Breonna Taylor's Death; U.S. Monkeypox Update Expected. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired August 04, 2022 - 14:00   ET



ISA SOARES, HOST, ISA SOARES TONIGHT: A very warm welcome to the show everyone, I'm Isa Soares. Tonight, Brittney Griner sentenced to 9 years in

a Russian penal colony. But the U.S. is not giving up hope of securing the release of the basketball star. What happens next in this case?

And China's military aggression firing off live ballistic missiles in Taiwan's direction. We are live for you in Taipei and Beijing. Then, Viktor

Orban touches down in Texas. We'll look at how Hungary's controversial leader has found allies in conservative America.

But first, sentenced to 9 years in a penal colony for what she calls an "honest mistake". A Russian court has rejected a plea for leniency from

U.S. basketball star Brittney Griner, finding her guilty of drug smuggling with criminal intent. The judge handed down the harsh prison sentence, plus

a fine a few hours ago. Have a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): The overall sentence of Griner Brittney to imprisonment for a term of nine years of a fine of 1 million

rubles, to be served in a penal colony of the general regime.


SOARES: Well, Griner's attorneys say they will appeal. They accuse the court of ignoring the evidence as well as her guilty plea. Griner says she

never intended to break the law, but was rushing when she packed less than one gram of cannabis oil in her luggage back in February.

And the real length of time she spends behind bars could depend on a high profile prisoner swap that the U.S. government has been trying to secure.

Let's go live now to Moscow for more. We're joined now by Frederik Pleitgen. Fred, this is of course a stiff sentence. Nine years in a penal

colony. Give us a sense of what the reaction has been from the defense, and crucially, how Brittney is doing.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, they're absolutely angry and disappointed. And they certainly said that Brittney

Griner is as well. In fact, her lawyer said that Brittney Griner, you know, was almost too upset to actually speak after the verdict came down. It was

quite interesting because as she was being led away from the courtroom, a camera that we had inside the court, you know, Brittney Griner said into

that, I love my family.

And that was all she was able to say as she was being led away from the courtroom. So, you can clearly see that she was shocked by this verdict.

But at the same time, we're also hearing from her legal defense team that they vowed to fight on as the U.S. Embassy here in Moscow has said it will

do as well. And that of course means that they're getting ready for an appeals process.

The way they put it, is they say they have about 10 weeks to file, or 10 days to file an appeal to this verdict, and then hope for an appeals

process. And they do plan to do that. It was interesting before the lawyers went in for the final session. They told me that if there was going to be a

stiff verdict, if there was going to be a long jail sentence, there is definitely going to be an appeal coming up.

Nevertheless, of course, this is something that was no doubt deeply shocking. To the defense team, to Brittney Griner as well. You know, I've

been watching this trial unfold, and speaking regularly to her defense team, to her lawyers. And they actually said they thought they were doing

quite well with this court.

You know, on the one hand, with Brittney Griner pleading guilty, asking for leniency, saying that she respects Russian law, that she respects Russia

obviously as well. And of course, then putting together character witnesses who testified to the fact that she is very popular in Yekaterinburg, and in

general, in basketball, in women's basketball here in Russia.

Defense team also trying to call into question some of the early forensics that took place on those cartridges, that she had with her as she was

detained at Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport. The legal defense team then came out and said, they believe that all of that was cast aside by the judge.

And then this tough verdict, obviously, came down.

Again, they're saying this is the beginning of their appeals process, one that they will try to undertake. But definitely, a very disappointing

moment for Brittney Griner and for her defense team.

SOARES: No doubt. And I suspect, Fred, that this only really increases the urgency to push for a prisoner swap. Where are we on the negotiations

front? Because I know that the Russians said they didn't want megaphone diplomacy --

PLEITGEN: Yes. That's exactly where they put it, they called it megaphone diplomacy, and they seem pretty irritated by the fact that the U.S. came

forward and said, look, we have the substantial offer on the table, then obviously, we learned that apparently involved Viktor Bout, the Russian

arms dealer who is currently serving a sentence in the United States in return for Brittney Griner and former Marine Paul Whelan, who is currently

serving a 16-year jail sentence here in Russia for espionage charges which he obviously denies.


It's unclear where all that stands, because of course, the Russians don't want to talk about it publicly. But you are absolutely right. No doubt

there will be extra urgency to all of it. Her -- Brittney Griner's legal defense team was asked about it as well. After the trial, they say they

have absolutely no knowledge of any sort of negotiations. Everything that they're hearing is also coming from media reports.

However, they did say that in order for an exchange to take place, they did believe that a verdict and a sentencing needed to be put in place, and

obviously, that today is now the case. And so certainly, it is now possible that these negotiations will move forward, where they stand, though,

impossible to say and certainly the Russians don't want to talk about it at all.

SOARES: Yes, well, we've got the verdict, we've got the sentence, right now, the ball is very much in Russia's court. Fred Pleitgen for us there in

Moscow. Appreciate it, Fred. Well, U.S. President Joe Biden calling for Griner's immediate release, saying her sentence is unacceptable. We're

joined now by CNN's White House reporter Natasha Bertrand.

And Natasha, give us a sense of what the reaction has been, not just from the U.S. president but also from Secretary Blinken to the sentence.

NATASHA BERTRAND, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: U.S. officials are uniformly calling this a miscarriage of justice, if you can even describe it as any

kind of, you know, form of justice. They say that this is completely unacceptable, and that they will do everything they can to bring Brittney

Griner home. Now, President Joe Biden did release a statement just after that verdict and that sentence was handed down.

And I just want to read it to you. He said, "today, American citizen Brittney Griner received a prison sentence that is one more reminder of

what the world already knew. Russia is wrongfully detaining Brittney, it's unacceptable and I call on Russia to release her immediately so she can be

with her wife, loved ones, friends and teammates.

My administration will continue to work tirelessly and pursue every possible avenue to bring Brittney and Paul Whelan home safely as soon as

possible." Now, notably, he did not of course mention the fact that the United States did put forward that proposal to swap international arms

smuggler Viktor Bout for Paul Whelan; the man accused of spying by the Russians and Brittney Griner.

But of course, the U.S. now is saying that this is entirely in Russia's court. There is very little that they can do at this point, except to put

public pressure on the Russians, which is exactly what they have been doing, and that is the main reason, we are told, they put public -- they

put out publicly in the first place that they made this offer.

Of course, the Russians have said they don't like megaphone diplomacy, but the U.S. is saying, tough. We need to get an answer to this proposal that

we have put forward, and you have not engaged substantively with that. So, a lot of frustration here, there is not a lot of surprise, necessarily, at

the fact that Brittney Griner did get this very steep sentence.

Because of course, the administration had been anticipating that the Russians would impose such a sentence, in order to perhaps increase their

leverage in these prisoner swap negotiations. Now, that she has been convicted, however, and as Fred alluded to, there does appear to be some

optimism here that things might start moving forward, now that the Russians have basically completed this trial. Isa.

SOARES: We shall see. Natasha Bertrand for us there in Washington. Thanks, Natasha. I want to go now to Russian expert and former CNN Moscow Bureau

chief Jill Dougherty, she's an adjunct professor at Georgetown University in Washington. Thank you very much, Jill, for being with us. Look, this is

a very sobering, indeed, nine years in a penal colony. Just explain, Jill, for our international viewers, what that entails. How harsh is that?

JILL DOUGHERTY, ADJUNCT PROFESSOR, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY: It's pretty harsh. She -- as a general rule, we don't know precisely where she would be

sent, but you know, that -- sometimes it can be harder labor. Sometimes it can be making things, sewing things, et cetera. But it's -- it would be

complicated. These are not easy places to be in. She is -- she's an American. She doesn't speak Russian. You know, she is very tall.

There are a lot of different issues. Even her size was a factor, where you know, a standard-sized bed wouldn't work for her. And coming -- we've seen

her in courtroom, you know, having to kind of lean over to fit into spaces. These are really serious issues. But I think, you know, the look on her

face, and what she said at that point, she is very worried.

That said, as we just heard from Fred, now, the process goes forward, if there is a process. And certainly people hope so, at least, the Americans

do, that there would be an exchange that could be negotiated for real.

And at this point, now that she has been sentenced, and you know, is in the eyes of the Russians a convicted criminal, now, they can go forward. But

it's really up to President Putin, he is a person who will decide this.


SOARES: On that point, Jill, how uncomfortable do you think that President Putin will make this for the U.S.? How much do you think he will just drag

this on?

DOUGHERTY: Well, I think, unfortunately, that's probably what he will do because, you know, look at the situation recently. Not only Ukraine, but

just kind of the relationship between the United States and Russia. Russia is under a lot of pressure. Sanctions, criticism of what they are doing in

Ukraine, and so, this is a way now that Vladimir Putin can really kind of get back at Biden, get back and make things difficult for Biden and his


So, it would appear, although, we never know. You know, President Putin can be surprising sometimes in what he does. But it would appear that he wants

to drag this out, take his time, and then decide what he is going to do. But meanwhile, kind of scoring points along the way.

SOARES: Yes, scoring points, no doubt, Jill, that this will play, you know, very well domestically.

DOUGHERTY: You know, you would think so, but actually from Russians who I have spoken with and just from watching the media, et cetera --

SOARES: Yes --

DOUGHERTY: It is not as big a deal certainly in Russia as it is in the United States. I mean, here, this is a big story. A lot of people know who

she is, and there's a lot of public pressure, especially from the sports world and her supporters. But in Russia, there's really -- if there's to be

an exchange, there is not really public outcry to free Viktor Bout; the convicted arms dealer,.

The Russian government certainly would like to get him out, but there's no -- you know, other than his wife, who talks about his health condition,

there's really no public pressure on President Putin. So, it's in that sense diplomatically easier for him because he doesn't have to pay

attention to a whole lot of public pressure.

SOARES: We shall see whether -- you know, where we go on the negotiations. Of course, the proposal that was put through, whether, of course, that

Russia will take this offer of two for one, of course, questionable at this stage. Thank you very much, Jill Dougherty, always great to have you on the

show, appreciate it, Jill.

Well, the fallout from Nancy Pelosi's visit to Taiwan has transformed into an alarming show of force in the Taiwan Strait. China has fired multiple

missiles into waters around Taiwan, as you can see there, and it's caused international flights to be canceled and has impacted shipping routes.

In addition, Japan has launched a protest with Beijing after five ballistic missiles are believed to have landed in its exclusive economics' zone.

Taiwan's Defense Ministry said the military exercises are tantamount to a, quote, "maritime and aerial blockade", while Taiwan's president is calling

the drills, irresponsible and insists Taipei will defend its sovereignty.

Let's get the latest from our teams on the ground. Selina Wang is in Beijing for us and Will Ripley joins us from Taipei. Selina, let me start

with you. This is quite a dramatic escalation of pressure. Any sign from those you've been speaking to on the ground of how much further and for how

much longer Beijing wants to take this?

SELINA WANG, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well look, Isa, the world is dealing with a much more aggressive China under the leader who is the most

powerful Chinese leader in decades. And we were expecting some show of muscular force, because China needed to live up to the threats it had made

leading up to Pelosi's trip.

But when I speak to analysts and experts, they say this goes even beyond what they were expecting. According to state media, China flew some

missiles over Taiwan, not around it, but actually over it before landing in the waters. That amounts to a significant escalation. This went over it for

the first time, and even though Taiwan is saying, look, it was above the atmosphere, this did not pose a direct risk to our people, still, this

amounts to a major escalation.

In terms of the other military drills, they're happening over the next few days, it remains to be seen how close Chinese forces will actually get to

Taiwan, because in the map of the drills, they had sent out, they had released earlier, it actually showed some of them were within just ten

miles of Taiwan's shoreline.

But we're dealing with two competing factors here right now. One is that, yes, Xi Jinping wants to look very strong to the home audience, to the

international audience. He wants to prove that there is a big price to be paid for Taiwan hosting Nancy Pelosi. But at the same time, he cannot risk

a full-on military escalation at this moment.

So, this propaganda, all of this, very inflammatory rhetoric, we're seeing around these drills, we have to remember that a lot of that is directed at

the people here in China. This distraction right now is actually quite welcome to Xi Jinping in the sense that it is creating a lot of patriotism

and nationalism at home, at a time when the economy here is being devastated by zero COVID and snap lockdowns continue across the country.



SOARES: Such important context. Do stay with us, Selina. Let me go to Will. Well, just how rattled, if they're rattled, is Taiwan at this stage

by these missiles being fired into their waters? What has the reaction -- the action where you are, Will?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean, look, the government certainly, as Selina mentioned, trying to downplay any direct

danger to people. But it is indisputably chilling, when there are places in Taiwan where from the shore, you can actually hear things happening.

You know, and that is the exact intent of releasing, you know, these maps showing the drill, you know, sites, 10 miles, 16 kilometers in some places

from the shoreline here. And so, this is an island that's obviously been through a lot. Anybody who is over 45 here, you know, remembers the time

that there was martial law.

There was a dictatorship here in Taiwan, and the people who are now running this island, self-governing democracy, in many cases were criminals. They

were actually meeting illegally to form the political party that' is now in control. And for the younger generation who have grown up here in

democracy, this is something that, I guess would be on the minds of young people, even though they're not always talking about it, that at some

point, they might have to do more than just -- than just vote to defend democracy here in Taiwan.

And so, obviously, this is drawing a spotlight from the Taiwanese perspective on what changes need to be made, what preparations need to be

made. Is there a sense that this particular moment is the start of something that's going to, you know, that's going to snowball into a major

crisis? Nobody has any way to know that.

That it could all be a minor blip, and when these exercises conclude, we go back to the way things were, or history could look back and say that Nancy

Pelosi's visit was either the excuse that China needed, because obviously, these drills weren't just planned overnight. I mean, these are the types of

things that require extensive planning, and the positioning of them indicates that this is something that China had in its pocket.

They pulled the trigger because of Nancy Pelosi, but they probably would have done it at some point anyway, right? I mean, they were just looking

for a reason, potentially. And even though China would say that it is all because Nancy Pelosi and -- look, there's always -- there's always the

truth that's said publicly, and then there's the truth, you know, that's known within the minds of those who are -- who are running the whole


And in China's case, really the only person who knows the answer to a lot of these important questions and where this could potentially be headed is

the person who never has to be really accountable to anybody, other than his inner circle of advisors, and that's Xi Jinping. Because there's no

transparency with the way China is run, and in Taiwan, they essentially have to -- they have to look at him and his personality, and how he's going

to react to things, to shake their foreign policy.

Which is why I would -- I would imagine they anticipated that there is going to be some sort of Chinese response to Nancy Pelosi being here. From

their perspective in Taiwan, though, given that Taiwan will need its friendships with powerful democracies like the U.S., like Japan, it will

need those relationships if China were to come calling. And that might be why they decided to go ahead with the visit.

SOARES: Will Ripley for us in Taipei, Taiwan, and thank you very much, Selina Wang, in Beijing. Now, in the past couple of hours, we've learned

that Nancy Pelosi's visit to the Korean demilitarized zone with a congressional delegation during her visit to South Korea. The U.S. House

Speaker says, it was a privilege to engage with American service members there. She also visited Osan Air Base and called U.S. forces in Korea,

quote, "sentinels of democracy".

We'll talk of course, going to talk about that story. Still to come tonight, skyrocketing inflation, a recession warning, and troubling signs

for the rest of the world. We'll look at the U.K.'s economic woes, that's next.



SOARES: Welcome back everyone. Well, here in the U.K., a bleak outlook for the country's economy. The nation is projected to plunge into a recession.

The Bank of England says that it expects the economy to shrink later this year, and announced its biggest interest rate rise for 27 years, to 1.75

percent as you can see there.

And the bad news, well, it doesn't stop there. The bank projects inflation will hit more than 13 percent before the year's out. So is this a sign of

things to come for other countries right around the world? Our business editor-at-large, Richard Quest, joins me now. Richard, look, it's not the

1.75 percent increase that got people hot under the collar. But it's the forecast of recession, and then that 13 percent inflation. How grim is this

in your view, Richard?

RICHARD QUEST, CNN BUSINESS EDITOR-AT-LARGE: Oh, this is -- this is beyond grim. This is absolutely horrible. It is truly the worst scenario that one

can imagine at the moment. Because bear in mind, the Bank of England has already raised rates --

SOARES: Yes --

QUEST: Numerous times so far, in these incremental quarter point rises. And so, at this point, you know, you have the Fed and you have the ECB. The

front loaded with large rate rises, of half a percent or three-quarters of a percent in the Fed's case. The bank chose a different way, it nibbled at

interest rates going up. And it suddenly discovered that's not enough.

It has to do this half a point rise, which is a large rise at this point. And that just tells us that things are much worse than they expected. The

situation was perhaps not out of control, it's certainly deteriorating, 13 percent is a dreadful number on inflation, and a recession pretty much all

of next year.

SOARES: And correct me if I'm wrong, but the Fed and the ECB, didn't they both also face criticism like the BOE is facing --

QUEST: Oh --

SOARES: Just pretty much slamming on the brakes after one analyst had been asleep at the wheel. I mean, is this a fair criticism here, Richard?

QUEST: It's a fair criticism that they're all in the same boat.

SOARES: Yes --

QUEST: So, you've got the reserve Bank of Australia, you've got the Bank of England, you've got the ECB, you've got the Fed, all of them missed the

growing inflationary risk because they were more concerned about things like Omicron, Delta, recovery, unemployment. So there were valid reasons

for all of this. But they missed it, and they were complacent.

They believed that they've got it all under control. But the speed and ferocity with which inflation has come back, and there are different

reasons. The Fed in the U.S., for example, the Biden stimulus package last year which was not necessary added fuel to the fire. So each country has

its unique purposes and reasons, but the underlying trend, really, is one of much higher interest rates, before things get out of control.

And that's the warning from the Fed. We heard it from the RBA in Australia, in Canberra. We've now heard it from the Bank of England, we've heard it

from the ECB Rates are going much --

SOARES: Yes --

QUEST: Higher, more quickly. And whether or not there's a recession is a moot point, you're going to feel it in your pocket.

SOARES: Yes, it's a grim reality, and it's here to stay. I think that's clear what we heard from the BOE. Richard, appreciate it, thank you very

much, see you at the top of the hour --

QUEST: Thank you, and -- you too --


SOARES: Well, with the cost of living crunch, everyday products are soaring in price. And Beer made with of course, with barley, is no

exception. I went to one of U.K.'s biggest beer festivals, to see how the industry is coping. Have a look.


SOARES (voice-over): After a two-year hiatus, the Great British beer festival is back, and there is plenty to celebrate. With nearly a 1,000 CAS

scales, Craft Beers and Ciders under one roof. It's a welcome return for an industry that has seen restaurants closed and bars struggling to stay open.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We haven't seen each other socially for quite a long time. So it's just a great place to come, have a few beers and chew the


SOARES: But trouble is brewing as the U.K. like many countries faces a knock-on effect of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

NIK ANTONA, NATIONAL CHAIRMAN, CAMPAIGN FOR REAL ALE (CAMRA): Brewing is a high intense production process, you need to boil your water, you mould

your barleys together and mix them all together at high temperatures. So, you do need a lot of energy to do that. And that's pushing up their costs

very highly.

There's other factors, it's like fuel costs, delivery costs, the crisis we've got in the Ukraine, and that's affecting grain prices.

SOARES: And it's not just grain, Russia's invasion has also caused energy prices to spike, rising 70 percent from June of 2021 to June of this year.

ANDREW TURNER, MANAGING DIRECTOR, BEER & BRANDS, ST. AUSTELL BREWERY: Everything is being affected. And if I'm honest, I think we're really

feeling the squeeze of that yet. I think the squeeze of that really is to come in the next 12 to 18 months.


SOARES: But the reality of these costs has left a bitter taste in some people's mouths. With more than 50 percent of the British public saying the

average price of a pint now around $5 U.S., is unaffordable. But as I wandered through the halls of this festival, it's clear the thirst for beer

is not going anywhere.

(on camera): So, how does it feel to be back after three years of COVID?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely brilliant. I'm loving every minute of it, and great to see everyone under the same roof again enjoying great cash


SOARES (voice-over): And while the outlook may look cloudy, for now, these brewers clearly still have a glass half full.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cheers, thank you very much --

SOARES (on camera): Cheers!



SOARES: And still to come tonight, Ukraine's military is gradually taking back land in occupied southern regions. We go inside one devastated town to

show you all Russian forces left behind. That is next.



SOARES: Welcome back, everyone. Ukrainian military officials say they are seeing a significant buildup of Russian forces in the occupied south. They

warned Russia may soon launched a counteroffensive in the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions. Areas where Ukrainian troops have been slowly but

steadily reclaiming territory.

As Ukraine prepares to defend its positions, a new Amnesty international report is accusing its armed forces of endangering civilians by

establishing bases and weapons systems in populated residential areas. Ukrainian officials are pushing back strongly.

Our Nic Robertson is in Zaporizhzhia for us this hour. Nic, we will get to the Amnesty report in just a moment. But first, I know you had a firsthand

look, really, at the recently liberated territory in Southern Ukraine. Give us a sense of what you found.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes. I think one of the big striking things you find when you go out to these liberated villages

that are very close to the front line is the massive scale of the land that's at stake, at play, in military terms here.

These are huge fields where you don't have troops really sort of facing off trench to trench. They are sort of hidden in the tree lines because of the

use of drones, because they give surveillance, because that brings in artillery fire. But it's the real lack of troops in this sort of battle

space, if you will, that I found very striking.

In essence, large areas that are wide open, where there is not anyone. And when you go into the villages that have recently been taken by the

Ukrainian forces, there isn't anyone there, and you get this, again, sense of territory that's just wide open.


ROBERTSON (voiceover): The road to Ivanivka isn't safe. Playboy, his war name, is taking us there across country. He says, his forces recaptured it

from the Russians following a two-week artillery battle.


ROBERTSON (voiceover): That was a month ago. It is still deserted, only abandoned pets and farmyard animals here now.

ROBERTSON (on camera): When you come in here and you look at the farm here, the animals left out, the dog in a terrible state, how do you feel?

PLAYBOY: I feel quite sad.

ROBERTSON: And when can people come back to this village?

PLAYBOY: I think when we will go --

ROBERTSON: Further forward.

PLAYBOY: -- further to the next line of the villagers.

ROBERTSON (voiceover): Unexploded shells litter the ground, the end of war, a long ways off, he says.

PLAYBOY: I think it's not real finished very fast because we are not so powerful right now.

ROBERTSON: During the attack here, Ukrainian forces estimate they killed about 50 Russian soldiers. Injured about 100 more. The big challenge for

the Ukrainians now, mustering enough men to advance further.

ROBERTSON (voiceover): The frontline is just a few kilometers away, a single artillery shell hits its target. The troops that took Ivanivka last

month have moved on.

PLAYBOY: We are planning to move forward, shortly.

ROBERTSON (on camera): When?

PLAYBOY: I don't know. From my own opinion, I think in a month.

ROBERTSON (voiceover): At the village school, windows smashed, classrooms rooms trashed, empty ration packs on the floor, and a message scrawled

before they retreated.

ROBERTSON (on camera): The Russian troops have left a parting message, it says, Russia is everywhere. It has no borders. And over here, they have

crossed out the Ukrainian word for march, and said, use the right language.

ROBERTSON (voiceover): Where the Russians appear to fight harder, front line trenches near the village. Armored vehicles and tanks taken out by


ROBERTSON (on camera): You get an idea of the ferocity of the fight here from the artillery impacts and the way that the trees around here are all


ROBERTSON (voiceover): But here is a surprise. Hitting these targets with U.S. gifted artillery M777 artillery wasn't as easy as the soldiers



PLAYBOY: M777, shooting quite good. But not so good as we expected.

ROBERTSON (voiceover): Not ungrateful, he says. And very willing to learn better skills.


ROBERTSON (on camera): So, what we really didn't get a sense of their, there was, that there was not far away, an apparent big buildup of Russian

forces. And that was a similar experience we had on previous days looking at what drone operators were seeing over the frontline. Russian troops,

yes, but not huge build-ups. But speaking just last night with a senior Ukrainian military official, he said, this is what we are seeing, a big

buildup of Russian forces that has been raining here this week.

The assessment is that when the ground dries out that these Russian forces will try to push forward, and that's where the military is bracing itself

for. But as we saw, there are not many troops out in that vast countryside area right now.

SOARES: Nic, let me ask you about the Amnesty report that we mentioned, that accuses the armed forces of Ukraine of endangering civilians. What

evidence is there, and critically, what's is Ukraine saying?

ROBERTSON: Well, Ukraine is pushing back very hard on the suggestion that it is endangering its population. You know, I think from a Ukrainian people

and officials' perspective, Amnesty International is saying something that may not be without merit from their perspective, but it's really sort of

turning everything back to front, because as Ukrainian government officials are saying, they are trying to defend themselves as best they can within

the legal bounds from Russian attacks.

So -- and we know that Russia has been targeting military barracks either with, you know, long-range 500-kilometer range cruise missiles, these sorts

of things. Ukrainian forces are not putting their troops in their barracks because they are obvious targets. And I think from what we've witnessed on

the ground, it is clear that soldiers do stay, at times, in hotels or they do say in schools, and the schools are not in use at the moment. The school

is completely out because there is a war on.

And I think it was instructive just a couple of days ago to be in Mykolaiv, that's taking a huge number of incoming strikes. And I spoke to the mayor

about this, and he said, look, basically, there are Russian sympathizer spies in the town who go around, and they see where they see troops, where

there weren't troops before, and military vehicles, where there weren't military vehicles before, and they pass that information to the Russians,

and the Russians use it to target them.

And the mayor said, look, we've told the civilian population here. We are in a war, we are being attacked, the cities being attacked, and it is not

safe to be here. But people feel they don't have anywhere else to go. So, I think all of that fits into Ukraine's sense that, you know, they are trying

their best to fight a war of aggression against them, a war they didn't choose and they are trying to do it in the best way to protect their

civilian population.

So, they do feel really prickly, I think, is perhaps -- not to put too fine a point on it, really prickly about what Amnesty International is accusing

them of, which, in essence, is endangering their population when they say, of course, we are doing our best to protect the population against a much

more powerful aggressor that's picked a fight with us. You know, that can pick off our troops in the barracks. You know, that sort of point being,

where else would we put them?

SOARES: Important context, I think, was very much needed here. Nic Robertson for us in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine. Thanks, Nic. Appreciate it.

And still to come tonight, Hungary's Viktor Orban is extremely controversial in Europe, that you know. But in Texas, well, he's getting

the star treatment. We will show you, next.



SOARES: Well, the Annual Conservative Political Action Conference has kicked off in Dallas, Texas. Speakers include Former U.S. President, Donald

Trump, his longtime adviser, Steve Bannon, and Texas senator, Ted Cruz. But there is also a foreign leader speaking too, Hungary's controversial prime

minister, Viktor Orban.

The E.U. accuses his government of undermining LGBTQ rights, controlling the media, and much more. But now, he's taking the stage at the CPAC, you

are looking at those live images. He's not there yet, but you can see the stage right there. And the agenda says, he will tell attendees how we


Well, Senior International Correspondent Ben Wedeman is in the Hungarian capital. But first, let's go to, CNN's Ed Lavandera who's at the conference

right now.

Ed, just explain to our international viewers what CPAC is and why they would be interested in this hardline nationalist prime minister.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, here in the United States, Viktor Orban has become a bit of a darling of the extreme right-

wing kind of political movement here in this country. So, the fact that he is taking this stage at CPAC is rather significant. But it really speaks to

the audience that he's going to be finding here in Dallas, Texas.

As you mentioned, Steve Bannon, one of the speakers. There's also Ted Cruz, Donald Trump will be speaking here this weekend. But Orban's visit here to

Dallas comes after several days of rather controversial news. The Hungarian prime minister, in a recent speech, talked about the concern he had about

his country becoming a mixed-race country, despite those racist remarks, he met with Former President Donald Trump at his golf course in Bedminster,

New Jersey, over the weekend.

Donald Trump, saying about him, after releasing pictures of the two men meeting together, that there are "few leaders in the world who know the

world as much as but Orban does." So, you know, a very controversial figure around the world. But here he is in Dallas, speaking to this group of

conservatives at this meeting. He's about to take the stage here in any moment. And then, Donald Trump will be speaking, headlining this event

later this weekend.

SOARES: But, Ed, what is it about him that has made him such, like you said, a darling of the American right? I mean, I'm guessing we haven't

heard any comments regarding those mixed-race comments that he made recently. What are you hearing?

LAVANDERA: Right. No criticism from Donald Trump. He released that statement after those comments had been made, and even hosted them there at

the tournament. But what has really kind of, I think, galvanized many of the extreme right-wing conservatives here at this, is that they like his

governing style.

His governing style is seen around the world as a leader who is democratically elected, but has managed to take severe control of

democratic institutions there in Hungary. And it is that kind of governing style that has resonated with very conservative voters here in the U.S.

SOARES: I saw there the slogan, awake, was what it wrote there, but not woke. Thanks very much.

Let's get to Ben. Ben, of course, you may be getting quite the warm reception, of course, in Texas. But in Europe, as you and I know, he has

been alienated by his neighbors who accuse him, of course, of undermining democracy as well as racism.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. He's not wildly popular in Europe. Here in Hungary, itself, there are mixed opinions. Some

people will say that, for instance, elections here are free, but not fair because of his control of the media


He does have a following, because over the last 12 years since he came to power, the lot of many Hungarians have improved. But these recent remarks

that Ed alluded to about mixed race have really sort of -- this is rhetoric reminiscent of some of the darkest days in Hungary's history.


WEDEMAN (voiceover): You could call it a meeting of like minds. Video from his official Facebook page shows Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban

visiting Former President Donald Trump Tuesday at his Bedminster, New Jersey golf club. On his way to this week's Conservative Political Action

Conference in Texas.

The hard right, anti-immigrant prime minister recently set off alarm bells with a speech laced with sinister undertones.

We Europeans, Orban said, are willing to mix with one another, but we do not want to become peoples of mixed race.

He has since come out insisting he is not racist or antisemitic. The damage, however, is done.

WEDEMAN (on camera): Viktor Orban's talk about racial mixing, about racial purity stirred up dark, still fresh memories. These metal shoes commemorate

the spot where in the final months of World War II, Hungarian Nazis murdered thousands of Jews.

WEDEMAN (voiceover): It is time for evening prayer at Budapest's historic Dohany Street Synagogue. Rabbi Robert Frolich says, Orban's words hit too

close to home.

ROBERT FROLICH, HUNGARIAN RABBI: You saw there's more congregation here, who come here every evening, every morning to pray, they are older people.

Most of them are holocaust survivors. They are worried. They heard this before, and it didn't end well.

WEDEMAN (voiceover): Often described as an authoritarian, Orban has been in power for the last 12 years, reelected in April. His economic policies have

won him support, but with inflation rising, that is beginning to change, says a economist Zoltan Pogatsa.

ZOLTAN POGATSA, ECONOMIST, UNIVERSITY OF WEST HUNGARY: In the longer run, yes, I think Orban remains popular. But in this particular point in time, I

think more people are skeptical about him than ever before.

WEDEMAN (voiceover): In Budapest Central Market, opinions vary.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) Viktor Orban is not even liked in our own country.

WEDEMAN (voiceover): Margareta Krinick (ph), the butcher, begs to differ.

Viktor Orban is doing everything for his people, she says. He loves his people.

Evening and city residents savor the soft breezes of the Danube. History flows through this city, the past never far from the surface.


WEDEMAN (on camera): And, of course, as the economy continues to decline here, really, as it is across much of Europe, but it's particularly bad

here. The worry is that Viktor Orban is going to start to find scapegoats for this economic decline. And he's already made clear who those scapegoats

might be. Isa.

SOARES: Ben Wedeman for us there in Budapest in Hungary. Thank you very much, Ben.

We'll have much more news ahead, including an expected update on monkeypox out of the United States. Do stay right here.



SOARES: Four current and former police officers are facing U.S. federal charges for Breonna Taylor's death. She was killed in a botched raid in

March 2020. Her death along with those with other black people at the hands of law enforcement launched a nationwide campaign for justice. Attorney

General Merrick Garland announced charges. They include civil rights violations as well as other counts.

This just in to CNN, the White House has now declared monkeypox a public health emergency. The Biden administration has been heavily criticized in

some circles for not moving faster to deal with the outbreak. More than 6,500 probable or confirmed cases have been detected in the U.S. since May.

And some cities and states have already declared monkeypox an emergency, allowing, of course, funding and resources to be freed up for their


While the majority of cases are currently being reported in gay man, but the W.H.O. stress that anyone can get this disease.

Our Salma Abdelaziz spoke to some of the men impacted and how they're fighting the stigma.


SILVER STEELE, ADULT FILM ENTERTAINER: Hey, guys. Day 15 of monkeypox.

SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN REPORTER (voice over): After adult film entertainer Silver Steele tested positive for monkeypox, he started to document his

painful struggle from isolation in Texas.

STEELE: I don't want anybody to have to go through this. So, if my story will help people possibly change their behaviors or attempt to go get

vaccinated, then it will be worth it.

ABDELAZIZ (voiceover): It's a trend, social media is key to raising awareness at ground zero of this health crisis, the gay community. 98

percent of cases so far are among men who have sex with men, according to the World Health Organization. But sex is not required to transmit the

virus. It's passed on primarily through close skin on skin physical contact.

ABDELAZIZ (on camera): Do you feel that there is a stigma?

STEELE: 100 percent. First of all, it's easy to label it as a gay disease. But this virus doesn't go, oh, I'm going to find a gay person. Oh, look,

here's another gay person. It's just going to find a human.

ABDELAZIZ (voiceover): From a sexual health clinic in East London, Dr. Iain Reeves says he witnessed the early days of the outbreak.

DR. IAIN REEVES, SEXUAL HEALTH CONSULTANT: To start off with, all of us were a little bit in the dark, to be honest with you. You know, kind of,

it's not an infection I was familiar with at all.

ABDELAZIZ (voiceover): Now, health care workers are playing catch-up, trying to vaccinate those most at risk faster than the virus can spread.

ABDELAZIZ (on camera): Clinics like this one had to react quickly to the outbreak, training their staff, preparing tests, giving out dozens of

vaccinations a day. It's put a strain on health services and there is no sign the demand is letting up.

ABDELAZIZ (voiceover): Word of mouth and public messaging are driving more and more to come forward for their shots.

JONNY DILLON, MONKEYPOX VACCINE RECIPIENT: People are, I think, taking this very seriously and making sure that they're protecting themselves and

protecting each other and they're speaking into (ph).

ABDELAZIZ (voiceover): But monkeypox cases are still on the rise. And with limited vaccine supply, containment still presents a challenge.

ALIESKY ROMERO, MONKEYPOX VACCINE RECIPIENT: Seeing that some friends of mine had it. They had a quite bad. So, I thought better.

ABDELAZIZ (voiceover): And health care workers are scrambling to access historically marginalized population.

DR. REEVES: One of the concerns I have is that the people who will get into the vaccine next are going to be kind of the best connected. And so, that

can (INAUDIBLE) people who -- you know, historically, less well served by health services behind a little bit.


ABDELAZIZ (voiceover): And that's why alongside public health messaging, grassroots voices are making an impact. So far, more than a million people

around the world have viewed Steele's video.

ABDELAZIZ (on camera): How does that make you feel to know that your message is being heard?

STEELE: I feel fulfilled. Fulfilled. That what I'm going through, other people are going through, isn't for nothing. Because I'm telling you, you

don't want this. It's painful.

ABDELAZIZ (voiceover): A community rallying to prevent a new disease from taking hold.

Salma Abdelaziz, CNN, London.


SOARES: And, of course, don't forget, you can catch up with interviews as well as analysis from the show online, on my Instagram @isaSoaresCNN and on

my Twitter feed too. That does it for me. Thanks very much for your company. I shall see you tomorrow. "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" with Richard

Quest is next.