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Isa Soares Tonight

Ukraine Marks Its Independence Day And Six Months Of War; Ukrainian Prosecutor General Vows To Hold Russia Accountable For Crimes; Iran Condemns U.S. Strikes On Targets In Syria; Russia's War On Ukraine Squeezes Regional Economies Around The World; Russia Targeting Ukraine's Cultural Identity And History; Pakistan Requests Foreign Aid For Catastrophic Flooding; Brazil's Amazon Registers 3,358 Fires In A Single Day; Migrants Turned Over To Mexican Officials In Cozumel. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired August 24, 2022 - 14:00   ET



BIANCA NOBILO, HOST, ISA SOARES TONIGHT: Hello and welcome, I'm Bianca Nobilo in for the one and only Isa Soares. Tonight, we want to get straight

to our top story. No concessions and no compromise, instead a vow to fight until the end. That defiant message from President Volodymyr Zelenskyy

today, as Ukraine marks six months since Russia launched a war that triggered the gravest security crisis in Europe in generations.

Ukrainians also marking their independence day, a commemoration of freedom from Soviet rule. But events in Kyiv and other cities were banned this year

for fear of possible Russian attacks. Here, you see people inspecting wrecked Russian military vehicles, a symbol of Moscow's failed attempt to

seize the capital early in the war.

President Zelenskyy says that Ukraine was reborn the moment that Russia invaded. He addressed the U.N. Security Council virtually today, saying the

entire world has a stake in this fight.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, PRESIDENT, UKRAINE (through translator): We must all get united and act decisively as soon as possible, so there are no more

traces of Russian missiles and no more cities burned by Russian military. So that there would be no threat of radiation, catastrophe ever again.

Russia must release the captured territory of Ukraine, so that there would be no food crisis.

Russia would need to withdraw from our land, from our cities, so that no country in the world can ever again disregard the U.N.


NOBILO: Let's go now live to CNN's David McKenzie in Kyiv. David, U.S. Intelligence warned of Russia stepping up attacks on government facilities

and major infrastructure this week. Events in Kyiv were canceled as we just said. But from what we've seen in your live shots, that hasn't deterred

everyone. You've been out in the city, tell us about the atmosphere.

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Bianca, it's pretty extraordinary this level of defiance by Ukrainian citizens living

here in Kyiv. You have them clambering on top of those burnt-out tanks, taking selfies, milling about in almost a festival-like atmosphere.

But underlying all of this is this ongoing conflict, and the threat of possible strikes on this city and others, that has been warned by, you

know, the Intelligence agencies, the western powers, as well as Ukrainian officials themselves. But you know, most people ignore those calls, at

least, the people we saw, to stay at home, to not gather in large groups.

I asked one young man, you know, why aren't you in your house staying safe? He said, well, his safety is important, but his freedom is so much more

important to him. And I think that is the theme coming from many people today, that, despite this grinding conflict that has lasted six months to

the day, and the ongoing sacrifice of Ukrainian soldiers and civilians, because of that, people wanted to get out and enjoy themselves on what is a

public holiday here in Ukraine. Bianca?

NOBILO: And David, one of the many hallmarks of this war so far has been Zelenskyy's absolute transition from a politician that people didn't

necessarily take him extremely seriously when he was elected, to this lorded commander-in-chief, who has earned deep respect around the world,

surpassing their expectations. What did we hear from Zelenskyy today and what are your reflections on his leadership at this point in the war?

MCKENZIE: Well, I think the very key moment was when Russian tanks and APCs and rocket fire and missiles were raining down here on Kyiv and its

out-environs and President Zelenskyy didn't flee. And he got up in those early days, made sure that people knew here domestically and

internationally, that he wasn't going anywhere, that his cabinet and top leadership wasn't going anywhere.

I think that was the key moment in the beginning of this conflict. And what he's been very skilled at since then is gathering -- garnering, excuse me,

the attention of the international community, of the press, both locally and internationally. He has a real skill in that. And it's helped to

counteract the information war that Russia has been putting out there.

At least, in the west and in Ukraine. In other parts of the world, perhaps it's a bit more complicated because of real politics and the loyalties that

countries have, potentially, to Russia. You asked, well, what is his message today? It's to remain defiant. And he also spoke at the U.N.

Security Council, while the ambassador of Russia to the U.N. had to look on, and he reiterated that Ukraine is fighting for freedom and needs the

support in his words, of the rest of the world. Bianca?


NOBILO: David McKenzie for us in Kyiv, thank you so much. Now, the war seemed like David versus Goliath at the beginning, Ukraine's fierce

resistance has stunned much of the world. My colleague and the anchor of this show, Isa Soares, reminds us how the invasion unfolded and why Russia

was forced to shift its military focus.


ISA SOARES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Devastating explosions across Ukraine's major cities. This was the moment Russia lit up Ukrainian skies.

An unwarranted invasion that only moments earlier, Russian President Vladimir Putin called a special military operation to demilitarize and

denazify Ukraine.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT, RUSSIA (through translator): Whoever tries to interfere with us, and even more so, to create threats for our country, our

people should know that Russia's response will be immediate, and will lead to such consequences that you have never experienced in your history.

SOARES: The Kremlin's immediate goal to surround Kyiv and liquidate the Ukrainian leadership. Later that same day, Russian special forces took an

airbase just outside the capital. CNN was there as it all unfolded.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Within the past few seconds just before you came to us, they were engaged in a fire-fight,

presumably with the Ukrainian military, which says it is staging a counter- offensive.

SOARES: The predictions of some western analysts that it will be all over in three days seemed on target. They weren't. Within 48 hours, Ukrainian

special forces rendered the airbase inoperable. The first in a series of setbacks. Russia's shock and awe was suddenly, surprisingly muted by

Ukrainian resistance, symbolized by a defiant President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, telling CNN from a bunker in Kyiv, that the Russian invasion was

about far more than Ukraine.

ZELENSKYY: It's very important for people in the United States to understand that despite the fact that the war is taking place in Ukraine,

it's essentially for values in life, for democracy, for freedom. Therefore, this war is for all the world.

SOARES: As he spoke, millions of Ukrainians were fleeing westwards to Poland, fearful of a Russian blitzkrieg, the fastest growing refugee crisis

in generations according to United Nations. As Russia pressed on, families were torn apart as the men stayed on to fight. Their future, uncertain.



SOARES: Those who stayed behind bunkered underground, the metro filled with the elderly, the vulnerable, all terrified of the unknown.

CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm asking if they're afraid. They're very nervous.

SOARES: President Zelenskyy appealed to the West for help.

ZELENSKYY: You are the leader of the nation, of your great nation. I wish you to be the leader of the world.

SOARES: By March 10th, Russia was heading towards the capital, but not everything was going according to their plan. One column of Russian

vehicles 40 miles long, sat north of the capital, exposed to Ukrainian mobile units. With anti-tank missiles and drones, suddenly, Russia found

itself bogged down, suffering heavy losses.

But it wasn't until they were forced to pull back, that the true, human devastation was seen. Evidence of torture, executions, mass graves exposed.

Russian troops had committed human rights violations, atrocities, war crimes. The entire town became a crime scene.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For us, the best motivation is justice.

SOARES: By the Spring, the Russian focus shifted to the eastern Luhansk and Donetsk regions. The original goal of Putin's special operation.

Russia's goals in the east have come at a price of immense civilian suffering. The city of Mariupol was battered and bombed for two months.

Local officials estimated 20,000 people were killed, far more fled.

Soldiers at the city's Azovstal Steel complex became a symbol of Ukrainian resistance, pounded from sea, land and air, but for weeks refusing to

surrender. Gradually, remorselessly, Russian forces edged forward in the Donbas. But they've taken immense casualties. While Pentagon estimates,

more than 70,000.

Western officials tell CNN that Russians are struggling to make up losses of men, ammunitions. And with new, longer range, and accurate weapons from

the West and its partners, Ukraine has begun taking the battle to the enemy, especially in the south.


The consequences of this war reaching far beyond its borders, as the wider world sees skyrocketing food prices, and Europe, so dependent on Russian

gas, is looking towards a grim Winter. The prospect of peace, still so far away. Isa Soares, CNN.


NOBILO: Ukraine's prosecutor general says that Russia's crimes must not go unpunished. Andriy Kostin is promising to hold the perpetrators

accountable, and he joins us now live from Kyiv. Thank you very much for joining the program this evening, sir.

ANDRIY KOSTIN, PROSECUTOR GENERAL, UKRAINE: Thank you for having this opportunity to talk to you today. At the outset, I want to congratulate all

Ukrainians with independence day. Today is the day to feel proud of being a part of this great country. We've had a long journey towards our

independence and are fighting for it every single day.

Today, we have crossed the benchmark of six months of major land war in Europe. And the spirit has shown that Russia's political leadership and

military disregard its international legal obligations. We see how the most terrible war crimes are committed on the territory of Ukraine every day.

Peaceful cities and towns are destroyed. Civilians are intentionally targeted to cause terror and despair. Even today, though, it's a national

holiday, the war and Russian terror do not stop. A number of regions, even once beyond front lines came under severe attacks, targeting civilian and

critical infrastructure.

Today, city of Maheriv was shelled by Russian cruise missiles. And Russian missile hit a residential house in Dnipro region, killing 11 years old

child. In Kyiv, for instance, our office and myself has been working in shelter, practically whole day. There were at least seven air-raid sirens

throughout the day, today.

NOBILO: And sir, I mean, obviously, I appreciate you giving us that update, and it comes on such a poignant and painful day for Ukrainians. I'd

like to begin just by addressing the role that you now occupy. Do you have confidence that you'll be able to restore trust in the office as prosecutor

general after your predecessor Iryna Venediktova was dismissed amid allegations of collaborating with Russian forces?

KOSTIN: Actually, there was not allegations on Iryna about collaborating with Russian forces. So, there was allegations against the officers of

different law enforcement agencies in possible collaboration. And now, we are struggling to find out this collaborates in different law enforcement

agencies including the prosecutor's office, and we have some results already.

But the biggest role of the prosecutor's office at the moment is to combine efforts of all law enforcement agencies and to coordinate the work of the

other institutions, like Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Justice, in order to ensure full, broader accountability of the aggressor. Not only

in international courts like the ICC in The Hague, but also helping to establish the ad hoc tribunal for the crime of aggression, for the higher

level politicians and military from Russian federation.

And also to work hard to seize Russian assets. To confiscate them, and to provide compensation from these sources to all damages caused by Russian

aggressor in Ukraine. So, we are talking about coordination and combining efforts together with our international partners who work hard in parallel,

in different working groups and task forces now, to ensure that aggressor will be accountable.

NOBILO: And as you were discussing, today is six months since Putin launched the brutal invasion of Ukraine. What are your personal reflections

of what you've experienced, and what do you think that your role can contribute to morale and the war effort?

KOSTIN: I'm confident that Ukrainians are united. I'm confident that the leader of the nation, President Zelenskyy is fully ready to go ahead and to

fight. And I'm also talking with my staff, with the prosecutors and with law enforcement agencies.


I tell them that we are as lawyers, we are as investigators, we are at the front line. We are not fighting with arms in our arms -- but I mean, with

weapons in our arms. We are fighting with -- providing justice to all Ukrainians. It's important for all, everyone to understand that every

person in Ukraine should make his or her own input in our victory. And our prosecutors and law enforcement officers are ready to do it.

NOBILO: And can you provide us an update on the status of the prosecution of some of the Russian war crimes that you're currently investigating?

KOSTIN: Currently, we have -- we are investigating more than 29,000 of war crimes. They are at it every day. We are also investigating specific

crimes, which we are in contact with the International Criminal Court, and we're ready to pass to The Hague. Because it's very important for

Ukrainians also to feel justice, not only on a local level -- I mean, on Ukrainian level in Ukrainian courts.

Since we have already more than 15 Russian aggressors already charged in Ukrainian courts. But it's also important for Ukrainian people to see the

justice on the international level. It's very important for them to understand that the rule of justice prevails the rule of force. This is a

very existential story. And we are ready to be in the front line of this process.

NOBILO: Andriy Kostin, Ukraine's prosecutor general, thank you so much for joining us on your independence day, we are really appreciative.

KOSTIN: Thank you.

NOBILO: Six months of conflict have taken a toll on Russia as well. But Vladimir Putin's ratings seem to be unaffected. Both state-owned and

independent polling agencies have recently put his approval ratings above 80 percent, showing that most Russians either support the conflict or have

simply accepted it.

CNN's Fred Pleitgen is in Moscow for us right now. Fred, Putin has described this as a special military operation. Six months on, has support

for that special military operation or his popularity changed?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think it's changed to a certain degree, Bianca. I'm not necessarily sure that

it's gotten much less, or that the support of Vladimir Putin himself has gotten very much less. But I do think that, you know, it's more complicated

than asking whether people support the war or are against it.

I mean, there's obviously a good chunk of the Russian population that do support what the Russians called a special military operation in Ukraine.

That doesn't necessarily mean that they're enthusiastic about it. A lot of people are indeed indifferent about it, at least on the surface.

There are some people who also changed, who at some point support the military operation, and at some point say that, look, right now, they don't

support it because they think that maybe things have gone too far or aren't working out the way that the Russians would want them to have worked out.

There certainly are also people who are against it, and some of those people of course, are also afraid to say that they're against it, at least,

in public. So, the opinion here in Russia is something that I think is a lot more difficult to them whether people are for or against the special

military operation.

But certainly, I think one thing that definitely can be discerned is that, there are a lot of people who are passive, and there's very few people who

are full-on against the military operation in Ukraine, or would be willing to publicly speak out against it. So, in that regard, I would say that

public opinion is still very much at least not against what Russia is currently doing in Ukraine. Bianca.

NOBILO: Yes, those caveats are very important. And Fred, much is made, sometimes unfoundedly about Putin's focus on dates and anniversaries, key

points in history. We've just been discussing how Ukraine views this conflict. Their prospects, a nation heard six months on. How do the

Russians view the same things?

PLEITGEN: Well, I think one of the ways that the Russian government, and not just Vladimir Putin, but also if you look at for instance, state-

controlled media, you look at a lot of other politicians here in this country as well, and quite frankly, political scientists also here in

Russia, they also do try to frame this as an existential conflict for the Russian nation as they put it.

Of course, the definition for that would be very different than in Ukraine. Because there are a lot of people here in Russia who view Ukraine as being

fundamentally a part of Russia. Now, that of course is something that internationally is very difficult, and it's certainly something that most

probably contributed to this war starting in the first place.


But that is certainly the way that it is framed. The Russians are definitely portraying this as Russia fighting for its future, as Russia

fighting for the values that at least are propagated by the public institutions here in this country. And definitely also something that at

least on a certain level is existential for the Russian nation. And it's quite interesting to actually see the sort of back and forth between that.

Because on the one hand, you do have the Russians talking about the fact that they believe that Ukraine is being overrun by western culture, or that

this is dangerous for the Russian nation, that the West is trying to turn Ukraine against Russia, which many Russians believe should be part of

Russia or at least as a brother state to Russia.

But at the same time, you also have Russian public TV and the Russian -- and politics trying to say, look, this is still just a military operation,

it's not a full-on war, it's definitely something that hasn't drawn in all of Russia into a full-on war. That certainly is something where you do see

that it's -- there's a really interesting sort of suspension between those two factors.

NOBILO: Fred Pleitgen for us in Moscow, thank you. Still to come tonight, the U.S. takes aim at targets in Syria. Why Iran is furious at that. And a

staggering toll in Pakistan as it copes with months of severe flooding. It's asking for the world's help. The details ahead.


NOBILO: Iran is condemning new U.S. airstrikes in Syria. The U.S. military says that the strikes targeted bunkers used by groups linked to Iran's

Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, and were in response to a recent attack on U.S. personnel inside Syria. An activist group says at least 10 people

were killed in the strikes. CNN has not confirmed that, and Iran is denying any ties to the groups targeted.

CNN Pentagon correspondent Oren Liebermann joins me now. Oren, does the U.S. consider this operation successful, and what threat does this group

pose to the U.S. or U.S. forces?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: It does consider this a success. The initial plan was to target 11 bunkers all in a complex in Deir

ez-Zur in northeast Syria. And its surveil is for hundreds of hours beforehand. These bunkers according to the U.S. Central Command and a

spokesman, Colonel Joe Pacino(ph), were used for weapons storage as well as logistics support for Iranian-backed groups to carry out their operations,

and on occasion to carry out attacks against facilities used by the U.S. or by the U.S.-led coalition to defeat ISIS.


So, that was the goal of attacking these. In the hours or the moments before the attack, they waved off two of the bunkers, so in the end, only

nine bunkers were attacked because a spokesman for U.S. Central Command says there were people in the area, and the goal was to target

infrastructure, not personnel using the facilities in the area.

And that's why they attacked nine of these bunkers here. The U.S. says according to their initial assessment, there were no casualties as a result

of this strike. They went after the infrastructure here, we've seen two activist groups give a different account, saying there were some between

six and ten depending on which group you're listening to, casualties in this strike.

So we are waiting for some clarity on that. In terms of the threat to the United States, we've seen this play out over years in Syria. A back and

forth between Iranian-backed proxies and militias in Syria, as Iran tries to exert influence there -- and the U.S. presence, the military presence in


NOBILO: And Oren, how are the Iranians responding to this attack?

LIEBERMANN: Iran has first condemned the strike, the U.S. strike that is in Syria, and had said it wasn't involved in any way. That distance between

Iran itself and the Revolutionary Guard Corps in Iran and the proxies they use in Syria as the militias, the different groups here. They try to use

that as plausible deniability saying, this isn't us.

But for years, if not longer, the U.S. and U.S. allies have viewed those proxies as essentially an arm of Iran run by the Iranian Revolutionary

Guard Corps. We've seen them point the finger many times at attacks like this, whether it's a drone strike, rocket strike or something similar.

We've seen the Pentagon many times point the finger and say, this was an Iran-backed proxy, this is their MO. We've seen it in the past, we've seen

it in the future. So Iran denying involvement, condemning this, that's not a line the U.S. is about to buy.

NOBILO: Oren Liebermann, thanks so much for joining us and for giving us these details. Now, in the U.S., a federal judge has given former President

Donald Trump until Friday to clarify his legal arguments relating to classified materials taken from his home in Florida. Trump wants the court

to appoint a third party attorney to oversee the review of the seized documents.

The new lawsuit marks the first legal filing by Trump's team after the FBI searched his Mar-a-Lago home two weeks ago. And still to come tonight,

economies squeezed and global food supplies strained. How six months of war in Ukraine has impacted the world. And a culture under attack, we look at

how Russia is targeting everything from museums to churches in a bid to erase Ukrainian nation.




NOBILO (voice-over): The last six months of war have had a devastating effect on Ukraine. The conflict is also seeping beyond its borders. Stefano

Pozzebon is in Colombia for us, looking at how regional economies in Latin America are being squeezed.

First I want to go to Nairobi, where Larry Madowo has been witnessing the cost of the world food crisis. For months the war in Ukraine has blocked

the flow of food shipments around the world, including the Horn of Africa, a region facing historic drought and the threat of famine.

But a ship carrying 23,000 tons of Ukrainian wheat is now heading to East Africa.

LARRY MADOWO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Bianca, the first ship to leave Ukraine headed for this region is expected soon in Djibouti. And then that wheat is

going to Ethiopia where it's badly needed. But it will be a drop in the ocean. Let me explain why.

Russian and Ukraine contribute about 40 percent of Africa's entire wheat needs. But there is more. The two countries exported about $7billion worth

of food and agricultural products to Africa. That's how critical it is.

And right now any impact on global food prices affects Africa the most because food contributes about 40 percent of household budgets on the

continent because of low incomes. That's why African candidates (ph) have been reluctant to criticize the Russian invasion of Ukraine, partly because

of self interest. Listen to President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda.


YOWERI MUSEVENI, PRESIDENT OF UGANDA: We want to trade with Russia, we want to trade with all countries of the world. But we don't believe in

being enemies of somebody's enemy; no. We want to make our own enemies, not fight other people's enemies.


MADOWO: The president explained why many African countries have chosen not to take sides in this war. African food supply chains were already badly

hit by the pandemic. They were only beginning to recover when this began.

Here in the Horn of Africa, there's also record drought in Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya and other parts of the region. A lot of people are in need

of humanitarian assistance. They need that food badly. All of these factors have left this catastrophe developing with no end in sight. Bianca.

NOBILO: Thanks, Larry.

Now let's bring in Stefano Pozzebon with the view from Bogota, Colombia.

Stefano, Latin American countries are split into two camps. We have Russia's closest allies, like Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua, and then other

countries which are very much allied with the U.S. Talk to us about what the impact has been across Latin America based on the war in Ukraine.

STEFANO POZZEBON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Bianca. It seems that the war in Ukraine has just made that division even more prominent. Geopolitically

speaking for example, even here where I'm in Colombia, where a left-wing president was elected only a month ago, still the division between

Venezuela, which is the country next door that in studies (INAUDIBLE) the sidelines with Russia, is all too apparent.

But I think that just as Larry was saying about Africa, the biggest consequence of the war in Ukraine here in Latin America has been the

economy. We've seen Latin America particularly hit by the inflationary spiral that has hit all products all around the world. And in particular

what Latin America has shown is the direct link with a growth in prices of fuel, for example, and protests in the street.

We've seen protesters taking to the streets in Panama and in Ecuador, two countries where the price of fuel is heavily regulated and where the

increasing just a few U.S. dollar cents meant that people could no longer afford to fill up the tanks, for their cars. That means they can no longer

go to the market, go to school, move around, go to your workplace. And that leads to protests.

What we're also seeing, Bianca, is the deteriorating living conditions in South America. We see more and more people are heading up the road and

going to find better luck up north, just as Larry was saying Africa, going toward Europe. Here in South America, people are moving toward the United

States. Bianca.


NOBILO: Stefano Pozzebon, thank you.

More than 6.6 million refugees have fled Ukraine since the war began, saying goodbye to their homes and uprooting their lives. Millions have

sought sanctuary in bordering countries like Poland and Moldova. According to the U.N. Refugee Agency, it's the largest human displacement crisis in

the world.

And this number doesn't even include the 7 million people, who have been internally displaced, a stark reminder of the cost of the war.

And Ukraine's cultural heritage is also under threat as Russia purposely targets Ukrainian identity and history. Yet another way of destroying

Ukraine as a distinct and autonomous nation.

From art and antiquities, to entire museums and places of worship. Joining me now to discuss is the former head of intelligence for FBI art crime,

Laura Ballman.

Thank you so much for joining the program, Laura.


NOBILO: In the torrent of Russian violence in this war, striking military and civilian targets, what evidence is there that Putin is systematically,

deliberately trying to destroy sites of Ukrainian cultural heritage?

BALLMAN: Well, historically, we can look back at the Stalinist regime. This is straight out of that playbook. And as recently as a few weeks ago,

the head of the (INAUDIBLE) museum, a world class museum, we all love it, said on the record on Russian state TV that this is part of the offense,

that this cultural objective is part of the way Russia is asserting itself in this war.

He said, quote, "No one can stop us."

So I'd say that's evidence. We also have satellite footage, where we've seen, for example, in Kharkiv, which is the equivalent of (INAUDIBLE)

Bologna, a center of learning, manuscript museums.

We've seen there that the Russians have used long range missiles, precision guided weapons that are usually reserved solely for high priority military

targets. Therefore one can say, these are high priority targets.

NOBILO: And can you explain what the power is of these national symbols, historic buildings and artworks to Ukraine and why Putin would be

threatened by their existence?

BALLMAN: There are a couple of reasons. One, the idea that Ukraine has the right to an independent culture and identity is anathema to what Putin is

saying. He saying, look, we are not doing anything except liberating Russian -- a Russian vassal essentially.

And so, there's two reasons that culture is targeted in times of war. And it's psychological warfare. One, again, to say that you don't have a right

to exist and we're going to dampen any confidence you have or will you have in your ability to exist.

And then we're also going to assert that our culture, in this case Moscow, Russia, our culture is superior. So those are the two reasons.

And you asked about symbols. Imagine if someone, an aggressor, attacked the Tower of London or the Eiffel Towel. These are strong symbols.

NOBILO: Absolutely. And you mentioned at the beginning the echoes of Stalin in these attacks and this targeting of cultural memory, sites of


Do you think that's why Putin thinks this will be effective?

Speak to us about how this has been used historically.

BALLMAN: Well, historically, we've seen Russia do this. Let's take Palmyra. So the Islamic State destroyed Palmyra, an important site to world

civilization. Now Russia is saying, you know what, Palmyra is a sister city with St. Petersburg, because of their powerful cultural importance in the


Therefore, St. Petersburg is going to take the lead in rebuilding Palmyra.

Now I don't think that it is -- and I challenge anyone to say that St. Petersburg and Palmyra are legitimate sister cities.


BALLMAN: But now Vladimir Putin's government is taking the same idea, of this recent history and applying it to Mariupol, and saying Mariupol is now

a sister city of St. Petersburg, Mariupol, where up to 600 civilians were slaughtered by Russians inside a cultural institution, inside a theater. So

we've seen that.

Perhaps the best known and most obviously grotesque example of targeting cultural property and cultural heritage in times of war is the Holocaust,

what Nazi Germany did in terms of systematically deeming arts created by Jews as degenerate.

And then systematically stealing other art, it was a way of oppressing, delegitimizing and trying to extinguish the Jews.

We've seen it in the Balkans. I personally recall, maybe when this issue really hit me as an issue, being in a village or small town called

Jacobitza (ph), Kosovo (ph), about 10 days after NATO liberated it from the Serbs and heard around midnight, heard an explosion.

And of course we didn't go out at night; that was part of staying safe then. But in the morning, we found the site -- it was about a mile away and

it was a house of worship, that one side had blown up as a symbol of their hatred.

That was bad enough but what was really awful -- and this is what happens - - is adults were egging on their children to stone this already desecrated house of worship because it was the wrong side. So this is history

repeating itself.

NOBILO: Laura Ballman, thank you so much for joining us.

BALLMAN: Thanks.

NOBILO: Still to come, a nation underwater. Pakistan pleads for help, dealing with months of endless rainfall. And scenes of desperation,

migrants using pot lids to paddle their makeshift raft to safety. That story later in the show.





NOBILO: Pakistani officials say more than 900 people have died and 50,000 are homeless from relentless floods during monsoon season. The country is

asking other nations for help because it simply doesn't have the resources to handle this crisis.


SHERRY REHMAN, PAKISTANI MINISTER FOR CLIMATE CHANGE: We've never -- I guess we've seen six, seven, and we're right now in the eighth cycles of

relentless monsoon rains.

It barely gives us a gap of half a day or one day. The city of Karachi, for instance, saw 400 millimeters in a few hours. No city is structural, geared

up or that climate resilient that it can cope with this amount of water in such a short time. So it's literally buckets pouring down.


NOBILO: With more on the story, here's CNN's Sophia Saifi reporting from the region, it's found itself underwater.


SOPHIA SAIFI, CNN PRODUCER (voice-over): Catastrophic floods decimating crops, battering homes and leaving hundreds dead since June. Torrential

rains have left paths of destruction across Pakistan and Afghanistan amid a devastating monsoon season.

With unprecedented levels of rainfall, country officials are sounding the alarm. Pakistan's climate change minister warning the climate crisis will

continue to bring extreme weather patterns, that'll hit developing countries hardest.

From July to August, the city of Karachi, Pakistan's largest and its financial hub, recorded its highest level of rainfall in 30 years,

according to the country's disaster management body. Authorities say that diverging all the resources to assist victims who have been left stranded

as transport services came to a halt.


MUHAMMAD SADIQ, STRANDED PASSENGER (through translator): All the train stopped operation because of the floods. The railway station is closed now.

We can do nothing but stand in the water, not knowing where to go.


SAIFI (voice-over): Many have lost everything with nowhere to turn.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We are so worried about this, some of us lost houses, livestock, grain. Some lost everything. You can't even

begin to imagine how they're going to live here in a situation like this.


SAIFI (voice-over): Across the country, relief is ongoing with Pakistan's military assisting in rescue and relief efforts in all four provinces. The

weather crisis is giving way to a humanitarian crisis as floods prevent access to medical services, drinking water, food and pave way for

waterborne diseases.

Floods forces Pakistan's Paulyu (ph) emergency operation center to cancel a five-day antipolio campaign, targeting children in the hardest hit

province, Balochistan. Across the border, neighboring Afghanistan's also reeling from flash flooding, reducing homes to rubble and city streets to

murky rivers, as people carry what is left of their belongings.


GHULAM MOHAMMAD, KHUSHI DISTRICT (through translator): Our houses have been destroyed. Now we're all homeless and have nothing. The flood took

everything, from pillows to mattresses and, even in some houses, children were also lost.


SAIFI (voice-over): Prevention officials in the hardhit province of Ghazni (ph) say food assistance has been sent but it isn't nearly enough.


ZAMAN KHAN, KHUSHI DISTRICT (through translator): As a result of the flood, we've lost everything. We've lost our houses. So far only one loaf

of bread has been brought to us.

What can we do with one loaf of bread?


SAIFI (voice-over): Already in the thick of their own financial and political crisis, fears loom that patterns of extreme weather may be the

new normal for these countries as they bear the brunt of climate change -- Sophia Saifi, CNN, Islamabad.


NOBILO: From floods to drought, extreme weather is impacting many, nations these part marshlands in southern Iraq were said to be by some the fabled

home of the Garden of Eden. Now they're more brown and dust than green and lush.

Iraq has seen temperatures as high as 50 degrees Celsius this summer. And Chinese authorities issued red alert heat warnings for nearly 150 cities

across the country.

On Wednesday, that means the temperature is expected to surpass 40 degrees Celsius on, Tuesday several Chinese ministries issued emergency drought

notices out of concern that grain and sweet potato crops may die without more water.

And a troubling milestone for Brazil's Amazon. On Monday, the forest saw more than 3,300 fire hotspots in a single day, the highest number on record

since 2017.


NOBILO: That's according to a monitoring organization. The amount of burning vegetation created a soot cloud over parts of the country.

Still to come tonight, scenes of desperation: a cruise ship rescues migrants as they use pot lids to paddle their makeshift raft to safety.




NOBILO: A cruise ship has rescued six Cuban migrants stranded at sea on a makeshift raft.


NOBILO (voice-over): This video appears to show them using pot lids to paddle toward the ship, which was bound for Mexico. An eyewitness said that

the raft looked like a piece of furniture, possibly a cabinet. Joining me now, CNN's Patrick Oppmann.

Patrick, what more do we know more about who these migrants may have been and their welfare?

PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A crew passenger said, according to the captain, after the six migrants were rescued, that the captain

announced that they were dehydrated. But otherwise fine and we know from representatives of the cruise lines that they were given food, water and

clothing and that they were then turned over to Mexican officials when the ship arrived in Mexico.

It remains to be seen whether they asked for asylum or would be turned back to Cuba, as so often happens when migrants from Cuba arrive in Mexico.

But it really is, one, just an incredible video but also shows the desperation that many here are feeling, because these are the boats we see

really every day, that people use, just to fish off the coast. They are not meant for crossing the 90 nautical miles to the United States.

And certainly, this group of migrants was so lucky because they were way, way off course, really, incredibly lucky that they were found by the ship,

especially since one of the passengers told us that there was a storm just hours after they were picked up at sea.

We were seeing a surge in Cubans leaving this island. Most go by plane to Central America or Mexico and then try to cross the border into the United

States. More than 175,000 so far this fiscal year. It's about 1 percent of the population of Cuba, really an incredible number when you think about


And the U.S. Coast Guard has been reporting an uptick in people taking small rafts, boats just like this one, that we see in the video to try to

get to the United States from Cuba.


OPPMANN: So people increasingly trying to leave this island however they can.

NOBILO: Patrick Oppmann in Havana, thank you.

Now let's go back to our lead story this hour. Some news just coming into CNN. According to Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy, at least 15

people are dead and some 50 more in wounded after a Russian strike on a train station in central Ukraine.

He told the U.N. Security Council that the number of injured is expected to increase. We're bringing you more details on that as we get them.

Finally, six months to the day since Russia invaded Ukraine, unleashing war. Other nations are showing solidarity for Ukraine today. The European

Parliament building in Brussels lit up in the Ukrainian flag colors of yellow and blue.

The U.N. chief Ursula van der Leyen is wearing yellow and blue. She was at the unrolling of the giant Ukrainian flag in Brussels. Flags are also in

Nice, France, as crowds turned out to support the Ukrainian fight against Russia.

A huge march also in Berlin, people, young and old, turning out to support Ukraine. And in London, bright yellow sunflowers and blue hydrangeas drape

the doors of 10 Downing Street.

Thank you for watching. Do stay with CNN, "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" is coming up in just a few.