Return to Transcripts main page

Isa Soares Tonight

Croatia Beat Brazil In World Cup Upset; Brittney Griner Back On U.S. Soil; Putin Floats Preventative Nuclear Strike Strategy; Keystone Pipeline Shuts After 14,000 Barrels Spill; Man Shares Protest Videos China Does Not Want Public To See; Volcano Fans Flock To Hawaii For A Closer Look. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired December 09, 2022 - 14:00   ET



ELENI GIOKOS, HOST, ISA SOARES TONIGHT: Welcome to the show, everyone, I'm Eleni Giokos in Dubai. And tonight, triumph in Croatia, heartbreak in

Brazil as the favorites are knocked out of the World Cup. Then, back on home soil after an ordeal in a Russian prison, Brittney Griner is free, but

a controversy swirls.

Plus, worrying words from Vladimir Putin, floating the idea that Russia may abandon the doctrine of no first use of nuclear weapons. All right, the

World Cup quarterfinals have kicked off with a shocking upset. Five-time winners Brazil are out of the tournament, and underdogs Croatia are through

to the semifinals.




GIOKOS: Well, that is the jubilant sound of Croatian fans in the country's capital, Zagreb, watching their team get one step closer to lifting a World

Cup trophy for the first time ever. Now, as Brazil losses a nerve-racking penalty shootout, and as we speak, Argentina goes head-to-head with the

Netherlands with Argentinian legend Lionel Messi fighting for that elusive World Cup before he retires.

Whoever wins that game will play Croatia for a trip to the finals. CNN's Don Riddell is in Qatar following the latest. Don, what did I tell you an

hour ago? That it is one thing that I know for sure during this World Cup is that --


GIOKOS: It's just full of surprises. It was nail-biting, full of anxiety, but so much excitement. I mean, what does this mean going forward?

RIDDELL: Well, it means I don't know who is going to win the World Cup. I mean, I think we're all clear on that. Huge upset, though, there's no doubt

about it. The Brazilian team arrived here as the favorites to win it. Most pundits believe they had their best chance they've had since their fifth

victory 20 years ago.

Now, it was their best opportunity since then to make it six. And they looked so good in their last game against South Korea, but Croatia were a

completely different proposition for them tonight. And full credit to Croatia for the way they managed this game, and for the way they saw it

through in the end.

Let's run the highlights and show you how it went down. Because the Brazilian team will be absolutely heartbroken. The game went to extra time,

Neymar at the end of the first period scoring his 77th international goal, tying him with the record of Pele for official Brazil goals scored. They

must of thought they were home and dry, but then look at this, Bruno Petkovic equalizing for the Croatians three minutes from time, that meant

we went to penalties.

And once we were into spot-kicks, it was a disaster for the Brazilian side. Rodrygo was saved, and then Marquinhos hit the post on the crucial spot-

kick, meaning that Croatia have done it again. We shouldn't be that surprised by the way. They were in the finals four years ago. They are in

the semis here now.

And they are past masters at these extra time games in the World Cup and how they win them. Have a look at the graphic. Let's look at what they've

done over this tournament and the last one. They've won four penalty shootouts, beating Denmark, the host, Russia four years ago. They knocked

out Japan here on penalties the other day.

And now they've toppled Brazil, that is absolutely extraordinary. You know, I come from a country in England, where, you know, we break out in hives

when it goes to a penalty shootout because it so often goes the wrong way. Croatia are just -- they're just experts. They just -- they just own it.

You know, absolutely fearless --

GIOKOS: Yes --

RIDDELL: And if ever a team is flying under the radar, it's this Croatia side. Amazing.

GIOKOS: Yes, and my anxiety levels go through the roof for these penalty shootouts, but I mean, incredible to watch. And look, Croatia, incredible

defenses, while they've obviously mastered the art of this. Look, now we have Argentina and the Netherlands, and we now know the trend. The trend

is, anything can happen, and the ones that you think are going to do well seem to not have it exactly right.

RIDDELL: Right, I'm not even sure who to pick in this game to be honest. It's happening in the stadium right behind me. As soon as, we're done --

GIOKOS: Yes --

RIDDELL: With this conversation, I'm going to run and join the party. You know, both teams have had an interesting journey to get to this point.


Remember, it was in this stadium that Argentina was stunned by Saudi Arabia, but they've recovered very well from that. Lionel Messi has, you

know, improved along with the team, getting them to this point. And now, it's the Netherlands who like Croatia have kind of flown under the radar,

but you know, a team with great World Cup pedigree.

For both teams, this is the toughest match they've had yet. And honestly, I don't know how it's going to go. The Argentine fans were cheering Brazil's

demise here a short time ago. They better hope that they're not also on the next plane home.

GIOKOS: Don Riddell, thank you so much. Looking forward to our next exciting conversation. Speak soon.

RIDDELL: All right.

GIOKOS: All right, so moving on to other news making headlines today, Brittney Griner has now arrived in the U.S. The American basketball star

landed hours ago in San Antonio, Texas. She had been detained in Russia for ten months and was released on Thursday. The price of her freedom was this

man, Viktor Bout. A convicted Russian arms dealer who was serving a 25-year prison sentence in the U.S.

He has been accused of dealing with al Qaeda and inspired the 2005 movie, "Lord of War". The Pentagon says there is some concern he could now traffic

weapons again. But White House spokesperson, John Kirby defended the U.S. president's decision in an interview with CNN.



the entire team that it was either make this exchange, get one back. And the only one that they were willing to trade was Brittney for Mr. Bout or

get none and leave her there.

And I can think we all would agree that no -- not even one more day in a penal colony for Brittney was a good outcome. We're going to be vigilant,

we're going to watch. He is on the street now. He would have been freed in six years, it's not like he was serving a life sentence.


GIOKOS: All right, let's jump right in with Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr. Barbara, a man convicted of very serious crimes, and now he is free.

And the question becomes, does he pose a threat, a risk, not only to the United States, but also to the markets in which he used to operate?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think that really is a critical question right now. There are indications that the U.S. did an

assessment that he does not pose a risk to the U.S. But that is far from certain, and that is far from the whole potential narrative that needs to

be looked at here, according to some officials.

Bout has long-time ties when he was not in prison to the African weapons trading business. He has stand accused, as you say, of illegal arms

transfers of dealing with terrorists of a whole litany of offenses for which he has been related to that -- for which he's been serving time. So,

the question now is, what is the world that Viktor Bout faces after coming out of U.S. prisons for so many years.

Does he still have ties in Africa? Does he have business ties he will resurrect in Russia and use that potentially to trade weapons in Africa?

Remember, the Russian Wagner Group has grown in strength over the years in Africa, in particular as a paramilitary organization, as an organization

involved in what is widely agreed to be illegal activities.

So, there are other players in Africa since Bout went away to prison. But I think the bottom line is, the U.S. will try and watch very carefully what

he does. He's very expert in covering his tracks. The question is, what does Viktor Bout want now? Does he want back into the business or does he

want to be home in Moscow, potentially with his family, living a quieter life in Russia. And the answer, of course is, we just don't know, Eleni?

GIOKOS: Yes, and importantly, how Russia is going to position him, and that's going to be very telling. But in the meantime, you're having

messaging coming through from Vladimir Putin about the possibility of opening conversations for another exchange. We're talking about Paul

Whelan. And then, you hear conversation coming through from John Kirby, inferring that perhaps it was Russia who held all the cards in terms of

this exchange for Brittney Griner.

And, you know, reading between the lines, it becomes very complex and it shows just the intensity of what it takes to bring people back home.

STARR: Well, it really does. I mean, negotiations that are so sensitive and so complex. It is very clear that Russia wanted Viktor Bout back. He

was a well-known name and someone that they attach value to in getting the U.S. to send him back to Russia. So now, I think the question that most

people agree on is, for the release of Paul Whelan, what do the Russians really want?


What is out there that the U.S. reasonably could trade? Are there other people out there that the U.S. controls that they could trade for Whelan?

And there are people, there are Russians, of course, in U.S. prisons. There are Russians who are in detention in a variety of places in the European

theater. It has to be determined what exactly the Russians want, and really, whether it's in the power of the U.S. government to make such a


GIOKOS: Barbara Starr, thank you so much. Now, Russia is launching heavy attacks on settlements in Donetsk and Kharkiv. That's according to

Ukraine's military, which says Russian forces are holding their lines along the border between Kharkiv and Luhansk. And Ukraine is reporting a

relentless barrage of mortar and tank fire in Donetsk, mainly around the city of Bakhmut, which Russian forces are trying to take over.

Meantime, the U.N. says Ukraine is in a human rights emergency. The agency's human rights chief saying almost 18 million people in the country

need humanitarian assistance right now. We've got Will Ripley on the ground for us, he is in Kyiv. Will, if I reflect back on all the big lines, news

lines out of Ukraine, they have been terrorized by the attacks that we've seen.

The country has lost so much capacity in terms of electricity supply, stories of no water available, and then you see Vladimir Putin on the other

side saying, we're going to continue with this. And in fact, pointing a finger at Ukraine saying, they are to blame.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Which is typical of Vladimir Putin, you know, with his echo chamber of yes men that have enabled his

warped justification for invading Ukraine more than nine months ago, saying that, you know, NATO expansion was the justifiable reason to try to, once

again, steal land from a democratically run sovereign nation.

And remember, it was Putin who illegally annexed Crimea back in 2014, I was here to cover that, and the Russian soldiers essentially kind of, for

better or worse, kind of walked right in. And Putin somehow believed when he started this war, perhaps that the same thing would happen, because he

sent this convoy in through the Belarusian border and thought they just drive right here to Kyiv without any resistance.

Well, of course, we have seen the Ukrainians fiercely fight back. And they were fighting back two months ago in October -- well, they have never

claimed responsibility for the bombing of the Crimean bridge, but it's widely believed, and certainly the Russians believe, that Ukraine was

behind the bombing of that bridge which was a pet project of Putin.

And just two days later, they started this relentless bombing campaign of civilian infrastructure. And they have viciously targeted the power grid to

the point that Ukraine is running out of these Soviet-era replacement parts that are increasingly in short supply. They actually have to ask other

former Soviet nations if they have any spares to make the repairs.

So as a result, you have almost 20 million people in a very difficult position in this country as the temperatures plunge. And the official start

of Winter hasn't even come yet. That's in a matter of days. But it certainly feels like Winter, and it gets colder and colder every day. And

you have millions of people, essentially plunged into the darkness and the cold at a time that, you know, help is really critically needed.

And Vladimir Putin on the other hand at this award ceremony at the Kremlin is, you know, standing with a champagne flute in hand, essentially toasting

the misery of the Ukrainians, and accusing them of starting this, when he started the war. The unnecessary brutal cruel war in the first place.


GIOKOS: And well, something that we have been watching very closely is the narrative, the messaging around the use of nuclear weapons. And this

hitting of course, the news just a short while ago, floating that Putin is floating this idea that Russia may abandon its strategy of no first use of

nuclear weapons.

And it's interesting to hear that he's added this to the plethora of other messaging that has been chilling, frankly, over the past few days.

RIPLEY: It has. And it is -- it's -- you know, it's a tactic that he's used before that analysts had hoped was posturing. But at this stage, given

Putin's frankly bizarre and reckless behavior, people are growing increasingly concerned of what he may have in store. Whether he is the type

of person who, if he feels it -- that he's not going to get a battlefield advantage, because they can't make any headway in Donetsk despite that

relentless shelling that you spoke about at the beginning of this segment.


They haven't been able to gain any ground. The Ukrainians coming under very heavy fire for days, are still holding their own and taking losses, but

they're still holding their own. Vladimir Putin has already been launching nuclear capable weapons towards Ukraine. Now, they haven't had warheads in

them. They've been essentially kind of fired as dummy missiles.

But the Ukrainian officials just within the last week were showing us images of these 1980s nuclear capable missiles that have been fired by

Moscow, and the barrage of missiles that Russia has used to attack the power grid. The missiles themselves without warheads can still cause

considerable damage.

But -- and the Ukrainians had, you know, believed that the Russians are doing this in an attempt to exhaust Ukraine's air defenses. But there is

also kind of a subliminal unspoken and very chilling sign there that these missiles, which were designed to carry nuclear warheads are already being

fired into Ukraine. And then of course, Putin also not just talking about tactical nuclear weapons, but also implying about the use of

intercontinental ballistic missiles, which is certainly a not so subtle threat to the United States.

Even though, of course, he knows that a nuclear war as it's been said repeatedly, nobody wins in that scenario.

GIOKOS: Yes, a shift in messaging, that's for sure. Will Ripley, thank you so much. And still to come tonight, a chilling threat as Iran warns it's

ready to execute more protesters in the coming days. Plus, why the Keystone Pipeline usually responsible for transporting 600,000 barrels of oil is

switched off right now.


GIOKOS: Welcome back. Now, Iranian officials are signaling that more protesters may be executed in the coming days as the regime's brutal

crackdown intensifies. The warning comes a day after Mohsen Shekari was hanged following his participation in the demonstrations. Eleven more

people have also been sentenced to death according to the United Nations.

Shekari's death has sent shockwaves through Iran as Melissa Bell reports. And a caution, some viewers may find parts of this report difficult to




MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The reaction to the news that Mohsen Shekari had been hanged. The howl of a relative as he became

the first protester to be executed in Iran in the three months of demonstrations.


He'd been arrested on September 25th, one of thousands since taken into detention, just 75 days later, he was executed. The first protester hanged,

likely not the last. Tens more face death sentences.

MAHMOOD AMIRY-MOGHADDAM, DIRECTOR, IRAN HUMAN RIGHTS: Why the Iranian authorities choose him as the first victim. I think it has got to do with

the fact that we didn't know so much about him. That his name wasn't so known.

BELL: It was the death and the custody of the morality police of 22-year- old Mahsa Amini that set off the wave of discontent that has only widened and deepened. Posing the greatest challenge to Iran's regime since the 1979

Islamic Revolution swept the Mallahs and their strict Islamic interpretation to power.

AMIRY-MOGHADDAM: And then Mahsa was a young girl who -- a just normal young girl, but also a Kurdish girl. So, in so many aspects, it touched

Iranians by being treated as second class citizens.

BELL: Across Iran this week, a strike called by the protesters, and on Wednesday, known as Student Day in Iran, protests at several universities.

Inside Tehran University, Iran's president blamed the United States for what he described as riots. Outside, the protesters chants echoed in the

grounds. Tehran's response to the popular anger has been predictably violent. Already, human rights groups say 458 protesters have died, many

more now face the death penalty.

AMIRY-MOGHADDAM: The death penalty is the strongest instrument of creating fear. It's more than shooting people on the streets.


BELL: Death to the dictator chanted protesters on Thursday night. For now, at least, and bound by Tehran's campaign of fear. Melissa Bell, CNN, Paris.


GIOKOS: And joining me now is Azadeh Pourzand; an Iranian human rights researcher whose family was forced to leave Iran when she was just 14.

Azadeh, thank you so much for joining us. Hearing the family member of Mohsen Shekari at the top of Melissa Bell's package, you feel the pain, the

trauma. It is chilling to think about what the fate of the other protesters that have been sentenced to death.

I want you to tell me how you see the current situation and the brutality around the killing of Shekari.

AZADEH POURZAND, HUMAN RIGHTS RESEARCHER: Yes, so, I believe that the brutality, while expected by those of us who are monitoring the situation

of human rights in Iran, it's still quite chilling, and unfortunately as your report also stated, this is just, you know, going to be one of many

executions to come. And despite the brutality of the regime, whether it's through the shootings, the thousands of detentions, tortures, and so on.

The protests continue, and I believe that the -- you know, the regime has now resulted to what they know very well, which is the use of the death

penalty and executions as a means to instill fear and intimidation among the protesters. But personally, I don't think that this is going to stop

the protesters this time around. I also can -- you know, I think as you said, like there are many more on the death row.

There are many -- there are thousands of detainees that we don't even know enough about. And this is one of the scariest things. Because just as

Mohsen Shekari's case shows, when a prisoner is not known enough by the international community, by the human rights community, they are at a

greater risk of essentially one day their family waking up and hearing that they have been executed, killed and so on.

And so, there is a lot to unveil beneath the surface of the numbers that we hear in terms of the detentions, the -- you know, the trials that are

absolutely in violations of due process procedures. And with that comes lots of fear of more and more executions to come.

GIOKOS: And it is an absolute scary thought. And as you say, the protesters are galvanized. You say that they don't want to stop right now.


I want to talk about the protesters that have been arrested. Some that have been released, talk about harrowing experiences. As you say, this is a tip

of the iceberg, we don't really know the true scale and the numbers and a system that doesn't have a free judiciary. Is there support or any

resources for people on the ground, or do you believe the international community at some stage should be stepping in. And the question is then,

how? How does the international community help?

POURZAND: Yes, it's -- I believe it's a complicated question. I can tell you that the average person on the ground protesting is not happy with the

-- with the condemnations and the statements that the international community has been making, and does not think that this is adequate or


As much as it actually takes lots of advocacy on our side as human rights defenders are brought to even get these kinds of statements or like let's

say, a U.N. special session and so on. But I think that the people on the ground want to see action by the -- by the international community. They

want a concerted, unanimous effort by the world to consider the Islamic Republic an illegitimate government, an illegitimate regime in the absence

of the possibility of doing any kind of a free form of a referendum.

These protests should be considered as a kind of a referendum against the Islamic Republic's legitimacy. And these need to be hand-in-hand with, you

know, with a variety of means. For example, using universal jurisdiction to hold accountable, you know, various levels of authorities of the country

that take part in persecutions.

Whether it's the judiciary, the security forces, and so on. It's stopping the money from flowing outside. It is rethinking and reconsidering the

continuation of the JCPOA negotiations at this point in time when people and children are being killed on the streets. It is the embassies of

various countries trying to find ways to send high-level observers, you know, into these courts where people are being trialed for two minutes and

then killed afterwards.

So, I think the important piece about the international community, it has - - it sits with the need for coherence with action-oriented and with a more concerted effort beyond merely western countries. It needs to be a truly an

international response to this level of brutality.

GIOKOS: And needs to operate with a sense of urgency as well. Azadeh Pourzand, thank you so much for your time and sharing your insights with


POURZAND: Thank you.

GIOKOS: All right, oil is still not flowing from the Kansas Keystone Pipeline, following its forced shutdown Thursday after 14,000 barrels of

oil spilled. The emergency triggered slight volatility on the energy markets. Propped up sections of the Keystone Pipeline have been a source of

controversy for years over its potential environmental impact.

So far, there's no time estimate for when the pipeline will be fixed. CNN's Matt Egan is standing by. Matt, look, big question is here. You have a

disruption on a pipeline, is the capacity that's now been taken out of the value chain within the oil market going to have a significant impact on


MATT EGAN, CNN REPORTER: Well, Eleni, I think that really depends on how long this pipeline remains down. And we just don't know the answer to that

yet. What we do know is that Keystone Pipeline went into an emergency shutdown yesterday due to this oil spill that was discovered leaking oil

into a creek in Kansas.

Now, Trans-Canada, the Toronto-based company that owns and operates this pipeline, they estimate that 14,000 barrels of oil spilled and they're

still working to try to contain this spill. As you can see, there is a map. The red line is Keystone. You can see it brings oil down from Canada into

the middle of America, into refineries in the Midwest and then along to the Gulf Coast.

This is not to be confused with Keystone XL. That is the dotted line. That was the controversial proposed extension of this pipeline. That project was

killed last year. So this spill takes place on the existing pipeline. And a short while ago, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, he provided an

update. He said that the Transportation Department is monitoring and investigating the Keystone Pipeline leak that was first detected Wednesday


He says that federal regulators have issued a corrective action order requiring a shutdown of the affected segment, analysis of the cause and

other safety measures. Now, oil prices initially spiked on this news, Eleni, yesterday. Oil prices are up by almost 5 percent when this first

came out. But all of those gains quickly vanished. Oil prices closed down on the day yesterday. And look at that, down significantly again today.

This shows that investors are not anticipating a long shutdown that is going to have a dramatic impact on supply.

And in fact, investors seem a little bit more concerned right now about the demand side of things. There's all these recession worries. And right now,

markets are more concerned about how much energy the U.S. economy the world economy needs right now. They're not as worried about the supply


GIOKOS: Yes, interesting, Matt. And then, of course, underscoring the environmental impact and the cleanup that will be required on this as well.

So, multifaceted story there. Matt Egan, thank you so much. And still to come tonight, it's all about the oil. China looks to strengthen its ties

with the Gulf region as President Xi Jinping continues his tour after a stop in Saudi Arabia. We'll tell you what's at stake stay with CNN.


GIOKOS: World number one Brazil may have been the favorites to win the World Cup, but they weren't quite a match for Croatia today. The Balkan

underdog shocked fans around the world by defeating Brazil on penalties. Croatia have never before won a World Cup, but now, they're inching closer

as they prepare for the semi-finals.

Meantime, Brazilian fans are going home devastated and without a trophy, proving anyone can win. As you can see on your screen right now, we've got

two very different pictures, what's happening in Brazil and Croatia. Shasta Darlington is standing by for us in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Shasta, how you all


SHASTA DARLINGTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Eleni, you can imagine the disappointment. Like you said Brazil, was one of the favorites.


There were incredibly high hopes here that this would be the Hexa, that Brazil could actually win the World Cup for the first time in some 20

years. Every time Brazil played a game, though, it was a national holiday. So, the schools closed, the offices, the banks, supermarkets, everything

shut down so Brazilians could watch this game. And every time there was a - - an -- a good move, a good pass, and, of course, a goal, you could just hear the shouts everywhere across all of these cities.

Unfortunately, at the end of this game, what we heard was a very loud silence, a lot of dreams came crashing down. And it was great, because for

a couple of weeks, at least, Brazil had really come together after very polarizing elections when the country was divided. And, in fact, before the

Cup started, many Brazilians said they wouldn't even put on the Brazilian Jersey because it had become associated with one of the political parties

here with the current president, Jair Bolsonaro, who did not win reelection.

Of course, once the World Cup started, all of that discussion was put aside, everyone was wearing the Brazilian Jersey, and there was just a lot

of hope, a lot of excitement. And, again, these hopes that they could -- they can win this Hexa, win this sixth time, and today, it all came

crashing down. And many Brazilians are saying they won't even continue watching the Cup, Eleni.

GIOKOS: You know, my heartbreaks. I always, you know, I get really emotional for the people that lose and then very excited for those that

weren't. So, I'm definitely not a good barometer on this. But I was looking at the images and seeing the emotions of the players crying and the fans in

tears. Shasta, interesting that, you know, sports always brings people together, as you say. It was intertwined with the political environment,

they always get to see you. I'm sure that it's going to be a very somber mood over the next few days.

All right. And I have some news, Argentina, Netherlands, Argentina has scored one goal against the Netherlands. That game is still on the go. And

we'll be bringing you news as it happens.

Right. Moving on now. Chinese President Xi Jinping is meeting with more Gulf leaders today after Thursday's talks with the Saudi Crown Prince. The

two countries released a statement emphasizing the importance of stability in global oil markets. Beijing is the world's largest buyer of oil. So,

what does this meeting mean for the global balance of power? Our International Diplomatic Editor, Nic Robertson, joins me now to discuss.

I love having these macro conversations because you have two powers like China and Saudi Arabia having a lot in common. And then you hear them

talking about, well, how do we circumvent using the world's reserve currency, the U.S. dollar, and using our currencies to trade oil? And then

you look at the relationship with the U.S. right now and then one question is, what is happening with the power axis?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes. It's so complex, isn't it? Because you know, just a couple of months ago, the Saudis and the

U.S. were sort of joined at the hip because there was a threat for -- of Saudi oil infrastructure from Iran. And actually, Xi Jinping, with Crown

Prince Mohammed bin Salman, actually called for an end to that sort of threat.

So, you know, it's very complex. You know, we think in terms of how does -- how do global power plays work, in times of war, the sort of shifts of

balance and influence happen really quickly. This is real sort of slow roll diplomacy, but not so slow that we can't see it changing a lot. Look, what

MBS got here, what Saudi got here was this commitment from China to be a stable secure buyer of oil and to increase their gas -- buying of gas as

well, that's important to the Saudis.

They want to maintain market share. They're concerned that Russia's selling its oil cheap to China, that's a concern for them. They're concerned that

Iran is selling its oil cheap to China. So, you know, there's something for the Saudis there. Plus, look, I mean, MBS has gone from being international

pariah to now sort of global power broker influence over OPEC, plus, you know, throttling back global oil supplies when President Biden wanted more,

and has hosted President Biden and President Xi in six months. I mean, which other country has done that?

So this has all been positive, I think, for MBS and for, you know, for President Xi. Look, he wanted, and wants, to kind of decouple the Gulf

states from the strong U.S. influence they have at the moment. This notion that oil could be purchased through the Shanghai Exchange in Yuan, not in

the dollar. That didn't get traction, but the idea is planted, the future may be there, you know, over time for that to happen.

But he got these commitments, again, recommitments from these Gulf nations that -- of the One China Policy Taiwan part of China of non-interference of

other nations in the internal affairs of countries, China over the Taiwan issue, right?


So he's kind of like positioning himself for what could happen down the road as Western analysts, Western governments fear the potential for a

Chinese invasion of Taiwan. So, I think both leaders get something out of this. That's a long answer. But I think, you know, when you look at the how

these global power plays work, it's complicated and complex.

GIOKOS: Yes. And truly fascinating. And frankly, China has been sort of at the center of trying to gain, you know, a strong grip on the emerging

market space or the global South, so it plays out. What do you think the U.S.'s reaction is going to be? I was looking at some of the MOU's that

were signed, like, for example, Huawei was involved, the U.S. has warned that it doesn't want Huawei to expand in the region. Does that -- is this

relationship going to aggravate, sort of, the sensitivities surrounding Saudi Arabia?

ROBERTSON: For sure. I mean, it's going to put, you know, officials, Brett McGurk, who is the sort of point person, the Saudi whisperer, if you will,

of the White House, at the moment of the Biden administration, you know, was asked precisely that question just a week or so ago. And he said, yes,

that will put a threshold on what we can do with Saudi Arabia. It's not just, you know, a threshold on what can be done with Saudi Arabia, but of

all kind of U.S. partners and allies, because there's this concern that Huawei, for example, will give a backdoor for Chinese intelligence, for the

Chinese government to get national security data from the U.S. and from its allies.

So those are genuine concerns. The U.S. knows that this is happening, but the U.S. is in a position where it -- it's not as engaged in the Gulf as it

was before. It doesn't have the levers that it used to have. It's distracted with other conflicts like the one in Ukraine, and this is to

China's advantage, the world order is changing. The U.S. is not as powerful as it was, China's more powerful and sees these opportunities. And MBS

wants more of that change, and more -- and to be a bigger player in the change in the influence.

So I think the -- in the White House Administration, yes, this will cause concern. Yes, they will look at ways to mitigate it. But there's a

direction of travel here that the U.S. will recognize is going to be a tough one to rollback.

GIOKOS: Nic Robertson, thank you so very much. I think you should go home and watch some football. Lots happening on that branch.


GIOKOS: Put down your Diplomatic Editor hat for just a little. Great to see. All right. And still to come tonight.


SELINA WANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Are you worried about your own safety?


CNN speaks to a man who took a huge risk by tweeting out videos of protests in China. Images that Beijing did not want the world to see.



GIOKOS: Widespread protests gripped China in recent weeks as the public pushed back against the government's strict COVID policies. Videos shared

online have given us a rare glimpse into the harsh reality on the ground.

Now, the man responsible for sharing many of those videos says he's received death threats. He spoke exclusively with CNN's Selina Wang.


WANG: Video after video of historic anti-zero COVID protests in China, broadcast on the world's television screens everywhere but inside China,

where authorities censored all evidence of the protests. So how did these images manage to get beyond China's controlled internet? Newsrooms around

the world, including CNN, have been relying on information from this Twitter account, and there's only one man behind it, Li, a Chinese painter

in Italy, whose identity we're hiding for security reasons.


MR. LI, OWNER OF TWITTER ACCOUNT @WHYYOUTOUZHELE (through translator): This account may become a symbol that Chinese people assume the freedom of

speech. When you post something within China, it will quickly disappear. This account can document all these historical events that cannot be saved

inside the country.


WANG: His account quickly turned into one of the world's key sources for protest information. Li says he received thousands of submissions per day

as the demonstrations unfolded. Apps like Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram are banned in China. But people used virtual private networks, or VPNs,

which are prohibited in China, to access Twitter and send their videos to Li.


WANG: What's the motivation behind all the work you do?

MR. LI (through translator): It's to let people inside of China, climb out of the great firewall, to see what's happening at this very moment.


WANG: But that's exactly what authorities want to prevent. Here's what happens if you search for information about any of the protests on Chinese

social media, you get a notice that says "Sorry, no relevant results are found."

Meanwhile, on Li's Twitter account, he was rapidly uploading videos of demonstrations across China, from Arun Qi, Nanjing, Chengdu to Shanghai,

where protesters chanted for Xi Jinping to step down, calling for freedom and an end to zero COVID. And researchers say the Chinese government is

even trying to bury information about the protests from social media users abroad. Search on Twitter in Chinese characters for cities that had

protests and you get this, a flood of spam and porn advertisements. The spam campaign, researchers say, appears to be the work of Chinese

authorities. Twitter did not respond to a request for comment.


WANG: Are you worried about your own safety?

MR. LI (through translator): Of course, I'm very worried. I get a lot of anonymous harassment saying, "I know who you are, where you live, and I

will kill you."


WANG: His parents frequently call him in fear, he says, and the Chinese authorities have been harassing them, too, making midnight visits to their

home in China.


WANG: What price do you think you have to pay for the work that you do?

MR. LI (through translator): This account is more important than my life. I will not shut it down. I've arranged for someone else to takeover if

something bad happens to me. I'm mentally prepared. Even if authorities won't let me see my parents again.


WANG: Authorities in China try to keep the country in a parallel universe. But Li is playing a pivotal role in breaking that bubble. Li spends hours a

day on the account, only taking breaks to feed his cat and barely slept during the peak of protests. As he sorted and verified the endless stream

of video submissions, each one urgent and historic, he's doing the work that he hopes one day Chinese journalists and Chinese citizens from within

China will be able to do without fear. Selina Wang, CNN, Beijing.


GIOKOS: Well, still to come. Volcano enthusiasts flock to Hawaii's Big Island. We'll hear from the lava watchers up next.



GIOKOS: Welcome back. And on the Big Island of Hawaii, the world's largest active volcano has been spewing fountains of lava and attracting a lot of

attention. CNN's David Culver reports.


DAVID CULVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Seemingly photogenic from every angle, there is a striking beauty to Mauna Loa's eruption, especially as captured

by photographer CJ kale.


CJ KALE, PHOTOGRAPHER: Volcano is different every single day. Every single time you go, it's always different.


CULVER: CJ driving us to his picture perfect spot at 4:00 in the morning. The best view he believes, the rising sun, greeting the glowing lava. Many

hours of sleep sacrificed for just a few minutes of perfect lighting. Weather permitting.


KALE: Yes. That is super thick.


CULVER: We step out into the cold rain, hoping it'll burn off. As we wait, CJ admits to us HE is a particular kind of thrill-seeker.


KALE: A lava junkie, you know, the -- kind of the term out here we all call ourselves lava junkie. It's kind of our fix. We go on out. It's what gives

us our excitement. It's what gives us our adrenaline for the day.


CULVER: This lava junkie has even gone swimming with it, catching these fiery waves in 2018's Kilauea eruption.


CULVER: Is there a range of lava junkie though, those who get a little bit too close and too extreme?

KALE: My group of friends is definitely in the far outer limits of that range. I wouldn't recommend pushing it far for everybody.


CULVER: But some are still pushing it.


CULVER: Well. Good morning, Doug. Yes, you --


CULVER: If you caught our live report Monday for CNN This Morning, you might have noticed this person, headlamp on, returning from a trek to the

lava's edge. Officials have repeatedly warned folks of the dangers getting that close to the flow. Not to mention it's trespassing.


SHERRY GRUMBLES, LAVA JUNKIE: You know, you can live caged up and have a pretty boring life or you can go see for yourself and take the chance.


CULVER: Curtis and Sherry Grumbles, perhaps rookie lava junkies, hiked five hours roundtrip over unstable lava rock out to the edge of the flow. They

recorded this video about 50 yards from the crawling lava.

Then there were those going to the source of the lava, the expert lava junkies, if you will. USGS scientist in protective gear, collecting samples

of the lava and bringing them here.


CHERYL GANSECKI, PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF HAWAII AT HILO: And so we put them in the drying ovens.


CULVER: The University of Hawaii at Hilo is helping run the Rapid Response Lab for the Mauna Loa eruption. We got a rare look inside. These samples

collected since the lava started spewing.


GANSECKI: It was thrown up in the air and landed and was -- they scooped Sit up while it was still molten and quenched it.


And if you look at it, you'll see it's very, very bubbly, soft. You can like, you know, break it in your hands.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Carbon and oxygen.


CULVER: Researchers here quickly churning out data to help the USGS chart where the lava flow might be heading, especially as it's inching closer to

crossing Saddle Road, a major highway connecting the east and west of the Big Island. They warn the slower pace, deceptive at times.


GANSECKI: So, they might just look like a big wall of hot rock. And it doesn't look like it's moving much, but they can really -- they can surge

where something -- so all of a sudden, the front brakes off and lava comes spewing out.


CULVER: Dangerous perhaps, but for CJ Kale, an eruption is never destructive.


CULVER: At what point does it become destruction? When we put a house in the way?

KALE: Yes.

CULVER: You can't do that.

KALE: I lost property during the 2018 eruption. I have many friends that lost properties. My mom lost the house down a couple. We don't view it as

loss, we view it as borrowed time.


CULVER: Speaking of time, sun's up and our view, still this.


CULVER: Does it feel like a washout when you get to this point and suddenly there's nothing? I mean do you feel disappointment?

KALE: You know, it's all part of the journey. If every single time we pulled up, it was absolutely amazing, it wouldn't be as special as it is on

the days that it is amazing.


CULVER: David Culver, CNN, Hawaii.


GIOKOS: It is amazing. But I will watch from where I am. Thanks so very much for watching tonight. Stay with CNN. "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" is up

next. From me, Eleni Giokos, have a fantastic weekend.