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Isa Soares Tonight

Death Toll Rises In Dnipro Apartment Block Strike; Ukraine's First Lady Speaks At Davos, Warns Of Russia's Aggression; China's Population Shrinks For First Time In Decades; U.K. Sending Heavy Weapons To Ukraine. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired January 17, 2023 - 14:00   ET



CHRISTINA MACFARLANE, HOST, ISA SOARES TONIGHT: Hello, and a very warm welcome to the show, everyone, I'm Christina Macfarlane in for Isa Soares.

Tonight, 45 people dead, five of those children, and many still missing. We will have the latest on that Russian strike in an apartment block in


Then Ukraine's first lady warns Russian aggression won't stop at the Ukrainian border, as she addresses the World Economic Forum. We'll have all

the latest from Davos. Plus, China's population shrinks for the first time in decades. What it means for one of the world's most powerful economies.

Now, many of Ukraine's allies are gathering at the World Economic Forum in Davos, voicing their support while debating on how to give more military

aid. It comes as the horrors of Russia's war are in full display in Dnipro, in central Ukraine. The death toll from a Russian cruise missile strike on

an apartment building there has now risen to 45, 19 people are still missing, and recovery workers have pulled bodies of dead children out of

the rubble.

The leaders of the U.S. and the Netherlands met in Washington today. They say the brutality of the attack is only unifying them all.


MARK RUTTE, PRIME MINISTER, NETHERLANDS: Again, the rockets fired, an apartment building was hit and many people died. These are horrible

pictures, and I think it strengthens even more our resolve to stay with Ukraine.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Europe continues to step up to respond to Russian actions. There's more to do and we have to stay

together. It's really important, you've been there every single step of the way.


MACFARLANE: Our Ben Wedeman is joining me now live from Kramatorsk in eastern Ukraine. And Ben, as we were saying there, the horror of this

attack is still playing out in real-time as people are, hour by hour, pulled from the rubble in Dnipro. What is the latest on those rescue

efforts that have been nonstop since the attack?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, the attack took place midday, Saturday, so they've been going on for more than 72 hours,

Christina. And as we've seen, even today, more bodies were pulled out. Several of them children. Now, there's still 19 people unaccounted for, so

the expectation is that as the digging continues, the chances of anyone still alive are slim at best, the probability is, there will be more bodies

pulled out of the rubble.

Now, as many Ukrainians are watching that tragedy unfold, what's going on in this part of the country is that the fighting continues. In fact, it is

intensifying. We are hearing from soldiers in the Soledar region, some of the villages around that town, are now coming under heavy bombardment from

Russian forces.

And the concern is that if and when Soledar falls completely to Russian forces, they will focus their fire to the south.


WEDEMAN (voice-over): Near Bakhmut's frontlines, lost souls wander the streets. Those who can't leave won't leave or have given up caring. "I put

some food on the fire, I chopped some wood", said Svetlana(ph), and decided to go out for some fresh air. Dmytro(ph) pays no heed to the shelling.

"This is my land", he says. "I won't leave." The fighting echoes through the fog.

(on camera): As the Russians seem to be gaining control of Soledar, north of here in Bakhmut, the fighting seems to be intensifying. One local

resident told us whereas before mortars were flying over their heads, now it's bullets.

(voice-over): Soldiers prepare trenches inside the city, new defensive positions if the Russians push forward. "Sandbags with wood on top", says

Valentine(ph), in three firing positions.


On the ever so slightly safer western side of the city, a makeshift market offers basics. With no electricity or running water, commerce is conducted

in the open. "My two shops were destroyed", says Dennis(ph). "So I'm selling on the streets." But this food is only for those who can afford it.

And Serhiy(ph) isn't one of them. "I'm living like an f-ing animal", he says. Yvonne(ph) returns home after collecting firewood.

The bitter cold is deadly as the shelling. "People have frozen to death in their apartments", he says. On a bluff overlooking Bakhmut, this artillery

officer, nicknamed Pilot, says they're up against troops, many of them convicts with the private military company, Wagner. "We're fighting against

soldiers brought to the slaughter", he says. "These Wagner guys have no choice. They're sentenced to death." And then, the order comes to open



WEDEMAN: And as you saw in that report, they are digging inside the city, but also outside the city. More defenses. We spoke to one officer yesterday

who said, come back in two days, it's going to be even hotter. Christina?

MACFARLANE: Important to have you there, Ben, to give us a sense of how this is playing out on the eastern front. Thank you so much for that

report. Now interestingly, a memorial to the victims of the Dnipro missile strike has popped up in Russia's capital. People have begun laying flowers

in Moscow at the foot of a statue of a Ukrainian writer.

Someone has placed a toy to commemorate the children who died. There's also a famed -- a framed photograph of the destroyed building. It's not clear

who started the memorial. And Ukraine's European allies are urging Berlin to send its German-made Leopard tanks to Ukraine, and to allow other

countries to export theirs.

Germany's government has given its unwavering support to Ukraine, but is facing pressure over the issue of the Leopard tanks. European Commission

President Ursula von der Leyen says it's time to give Ukraine everything it needs.


URSULA VON DER LEYEN, PRESIDENT, EUROPEAN COMMISSION: As you know, the European level -- the European Union does not own any military capability.

But I've said from the onset of this atrocious war, that Ukraine should get all the military equipment it needs, and it can handle. And this also

includes the advanced system.

So, I hope very much that in Ramstein, when the meeting is -- I think it's the 20th of January, that there will be a big move forward and the decision

taken that is all necessary. Overall, Ukraine also says that it has gotten a lot of support, and that is good, so that -- yes, there has -- we need to

step up in that.


MACFARLANE: Well, CNN military analyst Lieutenant General Mark Hertling joining me now live from Florida. General, thank you for joining us. As you

heard there, the debate over the delivery of these German tanks is intensifying especially as we look ahead to that meeting on Friday in

Ramstein. Can you just explain to our viewers why these Leopard 2 tanks are so coveted by Ukrainians? What do they do?

MARK HERTLING, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, they give the capability for firepower and maneuver, Christina. They move very quickly, they're well

protected, they can breakthrough enemy lines. The problem is, as von der Leyen just said, it's not only what Ukraine wants, but it's what they can

handle. And I say that because these are advanced technology pieces of equipment.

And it's certainly important to note that Ukraine has handled all of the equipment they've been given thus far, but this is a different approach.

These are multi-million dollar pieces of equipment. They require a crew training capability that will take weeks to contribute. But it's also a

requirement for repair parts, supplies, and the ability to maintain.

Unlike artillery pieces that have been given to Ukraine in the past, which fire from 25 or 30 kilometers away, these kinds of vehicles are close-in

fighters. They will engage, close in, directly, with Russian forces. In order to do that, it takes a significant amount of training, and more

importantly than that, a logistics trail of repair parts system and a supply system.

And I think what we're talking about, not just giving tanks. I mean, we've got to get away from the just give them the Leopards.


There is going to be a support structure that comes with that which will be significant in nature. And the question is, can Ukraine handle that right

now? I have questions about that. I've worked with the Ukrainian army, they do not have the potential right now to hold multiple layers of equipment

support to their army and maintain the logistics supply and the repair at the same time.

So, it's going to take a while, but I think the Ramstein conference later this week will see continued pressure on countries to give small tranches

of equipment to Ukraine that may be developed into combined arms teams.

MACFARLANE: So, it's interesting you say that, General, because there's a focus on the number of tanks needed, discussions that 14 tanks from the

U.K., 14 tanks from Poland are not nearly enough. I was going to ask, how many tanks would be needed to make a difference on the battlefield?

But from what you're saying, I mean, could Ukraine even handle 100 tanks? You know, the capability, the operation, as you were saying that's needed

around that?

HERTLING: Well, as a former tanker, I will tell you, it will be extremely challenging. Having commanded a tank division in combat, the Ukrainian

General Zaluzhny has asked for 300 tanks and 600 personnel carriers. When you're talking about different nations giving different types of tanks, you

not only exacerbate the potential for logistics challenges, but you also mix and match within Ukraine's army.

And when you're talking that number of tanks, which is what they have asked for, that's a combined two U.S. army tank divisions. I commanded a division

of 18,000 soldiers with about 250 tanks. That's a very tough organization to command and control, especially with the maintenance support. For

everyone one tanker that's in a division, or for every one tank, you have three or four levels of maintenance to make sure those tanks keep running.

And the tanks that we're talking about giving to Ukraine, are very different than the kinds they're used to, the T-72s, which they're --


HERTLING: Used to have is when they were part of the Soviet Union.

MACFARLANE: And I know you don't want to just focus on tanks as you just said, that there are other considerations here, but one last question on

tanks, if I may. We know that the U.S. has the ability to dwarf any tank contributions from Europe. We have seen them escalate some Patriot

missiles, but how much of a leap would it be for the U.S. to send tanks? Do you sense that, that is even in the offing?

HERTLING: It could be in the long term, Christina, but again, this is a logistics problem. Even the difference between the German Leopard tanks,

the Leo 2s as they're called and the Abrams tanks, you're talking about the difference between a diesel engine in the German version and a turban

engine, somewhat like a jet engine in the U.S. Abrams tank.

It's a fuel guzzler. It uses three gallons of fuel for every mile. So you just exacerbate some of the logistics problems when you're talking about

U.S. tanks. I see in the long-term future, however, that there could be a military contribution of U.S. equipment to Ukraine, but it's not going to

be when the war is going on. It's going to be after the war is over.

MACFARLANE: General, it's great to have your perspective especially as a former tank operator as to the challenges that lie ahead for Ukraine's

forces. Thank you very much.

HERTLING: It's a pleasure, Christina, thank you.

MACFARLANE: Now, Ukraine's first lady spoke at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, about that attack in Dnipro. Olena Zelenska told

delegates that Russia's aggression will not stop at Ukraine's border.


OLENA ZELENSKA, FIRST LADY OF UKRAINE (through translator): There is nothing off limits for Russia. As we speak, In our city of Dnipro, people

are still working and sorting through the debris of a residential area, of a house that was destroyed by an anti-ship missile. This missile was built

to destroy aircraft carriers, and was used against the civilian infrastructure. These ordinary people at home on a Saturday, and that's

enough reason for Russia to kill.


MACFARLANE: The leaders in Davos are focusing on the state of the global economy and the climate emergency on top of the war in Ukraine. Our

business editor-at-large Richard Quest is there for us. Richard, yesterday, we spoke about how there was no real imperative for world leaders to be in

Davos this year.

Obviously, the same cannot be said for Ukraine. What impact did Olena Zelenska's message have today, and why is this gathering of elite the right

platform for its delivery?

RICHARD QUEST, CNN BUSINESS EDITOR-AT-LARGE: Oh, it's the right platform, let's start there. Because it's more than just governments. You see, the

governments are the easy bit. If you bear in mind, for example, that the EU is pretty much united on this, and the western alliance is pretty much


So you don't really have to convince prime ministers, it's this next group, corporations, decision-makers, civil society, charity aides, all of these

people that you're trying to continually make the point that Ukraine is going to need assistance.


Because by doing that, the pressure goes up even more towards the world leaders. And that's why it's a full-throated, multipronged -- whatever you

want to say, point of view, and she was very well received. Particularly, when she made the point later that, you know, how do we go from this to

worrying about nuclear war?

How do you go from here to worried about bombs falling in Europe? And that, I think, gets home to people in Davos.


QUEST: Not so much the very top, but that next rundown.

MACFARLANE: Yes, it cuts through. A lot of focus also today, Richard, on China, with those dire figures announced on GDP and population decline. And

we know the Chinese Vice Premier spoke today. How is the world talking about China there, both in terms of the opportunities it presents, but also

the threats from China?

QUEST: Well, we got those numbers on Chinese population, and the dwindling numbers, and that sets a theme for it. From Vice Premier Liu, the real

extraordinary thing was the way he seemed to deny half of what Xi Jinping had said early in the congress a few months ago. He talked about how the

markets will allocate resources, in other words, if the markets don't think something is a good idea, they won't get investment.

He then went on to say, to say this is a command economy. That is not possible. Which is the direct opposite of what we've heard so far from

President Xi in the past. I think what they're doing, very cleverly, is basically telling Davos what Davos wants to hear. They know they're in a

mess, up to their necks and beyond, with COVID, with slowdown, with property prices, the whole lot.

And so they are keeping capitalism on board. But I think the evidence has to be seen, not the "Davosian rhetoric" as Martin Sowell(ph) used to call


MACFARLANE: Richard, great to have your perspective as always. Thank you! Now, actor Idris Elba is using his star power at Davos to call for more

investment in the world's poorest countries. He and his wife, Sabrina Dhowre were honored for their humanitarian efforts today. They are

dedicated conservatives and goodwill ambassadors for the United Nations International Fund for Agricultural Development, or IFAD.

They highlighted though, suffering from the effects of food shortages and climate change and explained why investment is better than aid.


SABRINA DHOWRE, WIFE OF IDRIS ELBA: There's a time and place for aid and everyone needs the support, but it's --


DHOWRE: Generally short-sighted in the sense that once it's gone, it's gone. So investment, helping people have this sense of independence, and

that's really what we're both passionate about.

IDRIS ELBA, ACTOR: And also, we've got to get out of the crisis reaction model --

DHOWRE: Right, yes --

ELBA: You know? We've got to --

DHOWRE: Yes --

ELBA: Start future proofing, and I think that's why we sort of resonate with the practices of IFAD because they come in, offer solutions, and stay

the course. And then go and replicate and -- you know, it's -- you know, each one, teach one model. So for us, yes, Africa is ready for investment

and partnerships, strategic partnerships.

I think for, you know, investors, you know, private sector, it's an incredible opportunity to consider Africa, to consider the youth there, the

growth that's come in as a viable place to invest into.


MACFARLANE: All right, still to come tonight, we'll have more on China's Vice Premier telling Davos how his country can turn around a disappointing

economic showing in 2022. Plus, the search for answers after the latest deadly plane crash in Nepal.



MACFARLANE: Canada is joining the investigation into this week's Nepal plane crash, because that's where the engines of the Yeti Airlines plane

were designed and manufactured. Rescue operations have paused for a second night, with one person still missing. Victims' bodies have been taken for

Kathmandu for identification, and we're starting to learn about some of those who died. CNN's Ivan Watson has this.




Their son, Abu Sheikh Qushuar(ph) was on vacation in Nepal with 3 of his friends, when their plane suddenly crashed on Sunday. "We lost our family's

only breadwinner", says his father in India, "he was an accomplished educated boy." An eyewitness happened to record the doomed Yeti Airlines

plane, abruptly banging seconds before it crashed.

The aircraft slammed into a deep gorge, tearing 72 passengers and crew. A difficult search and rescue operation forcing emergency workers to use

ropes and cranes. Most of those on board were Nepalese, as well as 15 passengers from India, Russia, Korea, Australia, Argentina, Ireland and


Authorities say they lost communication with the plane 18 minutes into what was supposed to be a 25-minute flight from the capital Kathmandu, to

Nepal's second largest city, Pokhara.

GEOFFREY THOMAS, AIRLINERATINGS.COM: In a short flight that the workload is higher on the pilots, you obviously have got to take off the climb,

you're only in cruise really for a minute or two, if that, and then you're descending.

WATSON: Nepal's prime minister announced a national day of mourning on Monday, and formed a five-person committee to investigate the cause of the

crash. Experts say the aircraft itself, a French-Italian made ATR-72 twin- engine turboprop, has a decent track record for safety, unlike the aviation industry in Nepal.

THOMAS: Since 2000, there's been 33 serious incidents in Nepal, of which 21 have been fatal. So the track record is not good.

WATSON: High in the Himalayas, Nepal is home to some of the world's tallest mountains. The country saw deadly plane crashes in 2016 and 2018,

and as recently as May of last year, nearly 10 years ago, concern over safety standards prompted the European Union to ban all Nepali Airlines

from flying to Europe.

Those details, a little concern to family members waiting outside a hospital in Pokhara, waiting for the final return of their loved ones. Ivan

Watson, CNN, Hong Kong.


MACFARLANE: China's vice premier says he expects to see a significant improvement in its country's economy in 2023 after a bleak performance last

year. China's economy expanded by just 3 percent in 2022, far below the government's own target. It was the worst gross rate in nearly half a

century in fact.

Speaking at the Davos Forum, Vice Premier Liu He explained how China can turn it around.



LIU HE, VICE PREMIER, CHINA (through translator): All round, opening up. Opening up as a basic state policy is a catalyst of reform and development

in China, and a key driver of economic progress. China's door to the outside world were only opened wider.


MACFARLANE: Well, China is also struggling with a declining birth rate. A reporting today that its population shrank last year for the first time in

decades. CNN's Marc Stewart tells us why.


MARC STEWART, CNN REPORTER (on camera): The headline is significant, China's population shrank last year, the first time this has happened in

more than 60 years, a decline of about 850,000 people. Let's break this down and look at some of the reasons why. First, priorities are changing,

we're getting married later, and some young people are not having children at all.

In addition, Beijing held a controversial one-child policy until 2015, but it was relaxed because of concerns about the population. In 2021, three

children were then allowed, and a plan was released to strengthen maternity leave and to offer tax deductions. In addition to all of this, the cost of

living in China is high so is education, and then there's just general economic uncertainty.

That can all impact decision-making. So what are the takeaways from this? The United Nations is predicting India will surpass China to become the

most populated country this year. And then there are the economic implications. This means an aging workforce without a pipeline into the


That could impact productivity, and in turn, economic success. Chinese leader, Xi Jinping, has raised these demographic challenges, saying

boosting birth rates and addressing the cost of raising a child, will be part of future policy. Marc Stewart, CNN, Hong Kong.


MACFARLANE: Now, police in Germany have detained high-profile climate activist Greta Thunberg at a demonstration. The video you're seeing now

shows Thunberg being carried away here by policemen. This happened at a protest over the expansion of a coal mine. Police telling CNN that Thunberg

was among a number of activists who broke through a barrier and approached a coal pit.

Thunberg had already been detained once at the protests on Sunday. Now, still to come tonight, the U.S. Is hoping that an arms deal that's facing

congressional review this week will encourage Turkey to approve NATO's expansion. And it's heating up at the Australian Open, as Novak Djokovic

makes his return to the tournament in style.




MACFARLANE: Welcome. Back

Ukraine's European allies agree that Kyiv needs more advanced military support. Not just to help Ukraine defend itself but, as the British foreign

secretary James Cleverly said, as a way to, quote, "send a really clear message to Russian president Vladimir Putin."

The U.K. has vowed to send tanks and heavy weaponry to Ukraine. Cleverly spoke to Kylie Atwood about his government's decision-making process.


JAMES CLEVERLY, U.K. FOREIGN SECRETARY: We have always worked very, very closely with the Ukrainians and of course, our NATO allies and the U.S. in

terms of assessing what the Ukrainians need at various stages of this conflict. This is what they need to get the job done.

This is what we are going to supply. And we are going to supply modern, heavy military equipment and the ammunition to allow them to defend

themselves properly.


MACFARLANE: Kylie Atwood joins me now from Washington.

Kylie, we saw the U.K. foreign minister speaking there, drumming out support for the need for more heavy weaponry in Ukraine; specifically,


Where do the U.S. stand on supplying that specific hardware themselves?

KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, listen, the U.S. and the U.K. have been in pretty lockstep when it comes to supplying

weaponry to Ukraine. I think the big question when it comes to tanks right now is, where is Germany in all of this?

Because they have tanks that the Ukrainians have said they would like. Some of those German made tanks are in Poland. Poland has said they are willing

to give them to Ukraine if Germany signs off.

We heard earlier this morning from foreign Secretary Cleverly, from other other U.K. officials, that now that they have said -- the U.K. has said

they are going to give tanks to Ukraine, they think Germany should follow suit.

So there is some growing pressure amid the allies in NATO for Germany to greenlight that. And the U.S. is a country to watch in terms of what more

they are going to be willing to give to Ukraine, because the foreign secretary said clearly that the type of support that NATO allies have given

to Ukraine has evolved.

And he said it will continue to. So we will continue to watch for what more the U.S. feels they can provide to Ukraine or should provide to Ukraine, as

this drags on.

MACFARLANE: During your discussion, it was interesting to hear Cleverly raise the issue of China's threat and the need for NATO allies to stick by

their commitments to Ukraine. Explain to us what he meant by that.

ATWOOD: I asked him what he believes China's takeaway is, what lessons are they learning from Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

We've heard U.S. officials reflect on that and some things that they have talked about are the need for speed when it comes to Russia's invasion. It

didn't go so well very quickly.

And so they have said they believe that China is taking away a lesson that, if they were going to invade Taiwan, they'd have to do it really

aggressively, really quickly in order for it to be effective.

But one of the things Cleverly highlighted in this conversation is that he believes China is watching NATO allies really act in unison together. And

he thinks that that is sending a very clear signal to China. Listen to what he said.


CLEVERLY: I think it's in our interest in terms of the interest of global peace and security and prosperity that the message we send out is we do

stick by commitments and we are in it for the long term. And when we make a promise, we deliver on that promise. And we are not easily distracted or

easily swayed. And I'm sure China will be looking at that.


ATWOOD: Of course, when he says China will be looking at that, the underlying -- part of what he isn't saying is China will be looking at that

when it's considering if it should or shouldn't invade Taiwan.


ATWOOD: And it's very clear foreign secretary Cleverly believes that the unity of the NATO allies in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine is

somewhat of a deterrent for China as it considers its decision-making over the next decade or so.

MACFARLANE: It's so important to look at the wider issues around Ukraine, especially when we are so laser focused on just them. Great to have your

reporting on this, Kylie Atwood. Thank you.

ATWOOD: Thanks.

MACFARLANE: Turkiye is under pressure from the U.S. to back a NATO expansion. Finland and Sweden applied to join the military alliance after

Russia's invasion of Ukraine. And all 30 member countries have to give their approval.

Turkiye has yet to endorse those two applications but the White House hopes a multibillion dollar arms deal with the Turkish government will tip the

scales. CNN's Jomana Karadsheh is in Istanbul.


JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Turkish officials have been saying they're in no rush to approve Finland and Sweden's membership in NATO. Some

Turkish officials also indicating that they might not take this to the Turkish parliament for a vote before elections that are expected here in

May or June.

Turkiye has accused those two Nordic countries of harboring members of Kurdish separatist groups that Turkiye views as a national security threat.

They did sign a memorandum between Turkiye, Sweden and Finland, in which they said they will be taking steps to address these national security

concerns that Turkiye brought up.

Turkish officials are saying that some steps have been taken but not enough has been done. They say they want to see more concrete steps taken before

they go ahead and approve the membership.

The Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan in recent days saying they will not go ahead with this until Sweden and Finland hand over more than 100

individuals they say were wanted by Turkiye.

It's also very important to keep in mind that what Turkish officials say publicly doesn't necessarily reflect where things are in terms of

negotiations taking place behind closed doors that have continued for months now, especially at a time where Turkiye is headed into elections.

And we've heard from U.S. officials in the past, from the NATO secretary general and others, who believe that Turkiye will eventually come around

and will approve Finland and Sweden's membership.

But some believe that what it's trying to do right now is use this situation and this leverage to try and extract concessions it has been

after for a long time from these countries and others -- Jomana Karadsheh, CNN, Istanbul.


MACFARLANE: Now to a story in the U.S. state of Indiana that you really have to see to believe. Even though we must warn you, it's a little more

than startling.


MACFARLANE (voice-over): Take a look at this video of a toddler waving a handgun. The little boy even pulls the trigger several times. He's not hurt

in this terrifying incident but his father, Shane Osborne, is now under arrest, charged with neglect.

Osborne said that he was sick all day and had assumed his child was inside watching television. He said he did not see the boy leave the apartment and

claimed the gun is not his.


MACFARLANE: Extraordinary.



MACFARLANE: And thank you for watching. Stay with us, "AFRICA AVANT-GARDE" is up next.