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Isa Soares Tonight
U.S. President To Address Downed Aerial Objects; Russia Fires Dozens Of Missiles Across Ukraine Overnight; Ukraine And Russia Swap 101 In A Prisoners Of War Exchange; Belarus Will Not Send Troops To Ukraine Unless Attacked; WHO Europe Director On One Year Of War In Ukraine; Palestinian Activist Responds To Beating By Israeli Soldier; U.K. Mystery Of Woman Who Vanished On Dog Walk; Train Chemical Spill In Ohio. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired February 16, 2023 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ISA SOARES, HOST, ISA SOARES TONIGHT: A very warm welcome to the show, everyone, I'm Isa Soares. Tonight, we are waiting for the U.S. President to
speak any moment, really, on the Chinese spy balloon controversy as well as the other aerial objects the Air Force, if you remember, shot down. We will
bring you that as soon as it happens, as soon as it gets underway.
But for now, let's get to the other international stories we are focused on this hour. Civilians killed in their beds as they slept, workers injured by
airstrikes as they rushed to repair damaged power lines. That is the grim scene in Ukraine after rather terrible night in Russia's grinding war.
Russian forces fired 36 missiles across the country overnight, from Lviv in the west to Kharkiv in the northeast.
Ukrainian forces say they shot down 16 of those, but many hit their marks. Missiles demolished houses like this one in central Ukraine, a 79-year old
woman died there, her husband survived. We are also hearing that Ukraine and Russia have conducted a prisoner swap with 101 people returning home to
David McKenzie joins me this hour from Kyiv. And David, we are awaiting from President Biden, so if he does appear, I will have to interrupt you.
But let's start first of all on this prisoner swap. What are you learning? What more can you tell us, David?
DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Long, sensitive behind-the-scenes negotiations. And you see these prisoners being released.
The vast majority of them are soldiers. One civilian, he has a very interesting story. He was the deputy mayor in Nodar(ph), the town, the
industrial town attached to the nuclear power plant in Zaporizhzhia.
He was held for more than 330 days. So he was released as well as those soldiers. The majority of them were involved in the defense of Mariupol and
the very intense stand that they took in the Azovstal -- excuse me, steel plant in that area in the early months of the war. So, this will be some
good news, also 101 soldiers from Russia were swapped in a like for like swap.
There is also this new news emerging from Bakhmut and some very intense video coming from Ukrainian forces in very intense firefight with the
Russians that are trying to advance on the edges of that town. And now, the Ukrainian officials speaking on Ukrainian television saying that those
forces for the Russians, which are made up, he said, of private military contractors from Wagner and Russian forces are just doing very intense
attacks on that town.
And they are in the process, according to that commander, of replenishing those forces pretty regularly, because of the heavy losses that they are
taking. They are certainly a -- there's very much a very -- you know, an intense increase in the attacks and the artillery fire on Bakhmut. And you
get the sense, this is a key goal of Vladimir Putin and his generals to try have some kind of a win as we run up to a week to this one year anniversary
of this conflict.
Bakhmut has been the scene of heavy fighting for many months now. And the Russians, according to both Ukrainian and U.S. officials, have taken
extremely high losses in trying to take that area. Isa?
SOARES: David, let's stick to the frontlines and the missiles, in fact, that we've seen, 36 or so missiles we've seen overnight hitting Lviv. What
kind of impact has that had on infrastructure, energy infrastructure here?
MCKENZIE: Well, the Ukrainians are deliberately vague when they describe what is hit. They say it's critical infrastructure, we don't know much
beyond that. But they did manage to bring down at least, half of those missiles that were struck at Ukraine in the overnight hours both from sea-
borne and land-based missile strikes. Now, this has been a regular occurrence at least, since I've been here during this time in Ukraine.
And those air defenses appear to be having some success. It's unclear what impact those missiles having -- are having on military infrastructure, if
at all. But you did see those awful images coming out of the town about an hour's drive east of Dnipro, where that massive crater from a cruise
missile, you know, what appears to be a residential area that one elderly women killed tragically.
And a vast amount of that area, or at least, a significant amount destroyed. So, it continues to seem like Russia is striking at civilian
areas. And this is something that as recently as today, U.S. officials said constitutes potential war crimes. Isa?
SOARES: David McKenzie for us this hour in Kyiv, appreciate it, thanks very much. Well, Turkish news channels are calling her the miracle girl.
Rescuers found a teenager alive in the rubble today, 248 hours after the earthquake. Doctors say she is in surprisingly good condition despite the
lack of food as well as water and heat.
Her story, an increasingly rare bright spot amid utter devastation. More than 42,000 people are now confirmed dead in Turkey and Syria. Neither
country has said how many are still missing. United Nations has just announced a $1 billion appeal for Turkish quake victims. Well, Syrians are
also in dire need of aid, especially in the rebel-held northeast.
One town is having to deal with floods on top of everything after a dam that was damaged in the quake gave way. To France now, protesters have once
again marched across France over the government's pension reform plan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SOARES: And this is the fifth time they took to the streets on this issue. The government is planning to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64,
saying it's the only way to keep the country's generous pension system in the green. But the opposition says the funding gap could be filled by
raising taxes on the rich as well as on businesses.
I want to go to Paris, our Paris correspondent Melissa Bell. So Melissa, good to see you. A fifth day of protests, is it moving the needle at all?
MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, there certainly seems to be momentum. There were fewer people on the streets today than there have been
in previous protests certainly here in Paris, Isa, according to the official figures, the strike action was more limited than it was for
instance on that very first day on January 19th.
But this is kind of on purpose. The trade unions are walking this tightrope, well, of course, they want to keep the pressure on the
government up, but they don't want to get the public on the wrong side of them. And I think what's been so interesting about the opinion polls these
last few weeks is that they show that a majority of French people, more than 70 percent are opposed to this change in the law.
They do not want the retirement age raised from 62 to 64. But perhaps, more than that, what the opinion polls are showing is that, if anything, the
anger about it or the opposition to it is hardening, and people in fact, when you look at the next big protest, which will be the 7th of March, and
that day, Isa, they really are intending to bring France to a standstill.
Private sector, public sector with another big march. It is six out of ten that have been asked in opinion polls whether they support this action or
not, they say that they do. And of course, that gives you an idea of just how unhappy people are about the proposed reform and how prepared they are
either to go on the street and protest or to accept a day and perhaps more over the coming weeks of strikes that will see the country grind to a
standstill. It gives you an idea of how strong the public feels about this particular issue, Isa.
SOARES: And yet, Melissa, Macron has vowed, hasn't he? To really see this bill through. Does he have though enough support in parliament? You're
talking there about opinion polls and what the mood is like. What about inside parliament?
BELL: Inside parliament, he is counting -- the government believes that it can still get a majority. Remember that they lost their parliamentary
majority in the election last year, the Macron's party. They believe that they can cobble together enough votes to push this through on a majority
when the vote comes.
But that is of course, far from certain. There are still a couple of parliamentary procedures that will seek the -- that will see them push this
through if they don't get the majority. But the question will then become, Isa, of course, given what I just said about public opinion, one of
legitimacy. So the government is working really hard to try and get all the parties onside.
There have been some 20,000 amendments already on this bill. This is how contentious and controversial and carefully looked at and picked over it's
been by the political parties. The government believes that it can and will, by the end of March, when a vote will take place, get it through
because Emmanuel Macron's plan is to get us on the books by the Summer so that it can take effect from September.
That was a very short timetable given how unpopular the move is, given that it is such a sensitive subject, pension reform always has been for the
French. And it is that fact that he's taken them on in such a frontal way, they believe, that has led them to even more determined opposition, with
the unions more unified now than they have been since any other time since 2010 when Nicolas Sarkozy had his go at changing the pension age, he raised
it from 60 to 62.
Emmanuel Macron has vowed that he will be the president that sees it to 64. But there's a lot of opposition on the streets, Isa, and a lot of
opposition in parliament and some many more torturous parliamentary debates and votes to go before the government gets its way, if it does.
SOARES: Yes, and we should see that opposition in the streets in March again as they take to the streets. Thanks very much, Melissa, great to see
you. We are also seeing protests in Lebanon, where the lira is hitting new low against the U.S. dollar. The currency has lost more than 98 percent of
its value ever since Lebanon's financial crisis started back in 2019.
Lebanese banks are now closed. They have been since Tuesday. And on Thursday, protesters were seen blocking roads and setting fire to banks as
well as ATMs. The prime minister says efforts are continuing to address the financial situation, but for many protesters, it's too little, too late.
Have a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We can't take it anymore. We want to take what's rightfully ours. We have taken matters into our hands.
Today, it's the banks. Tomorrow, we are going to the banks owners' homes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SOARES: Well, Nigeria's presidential and parliamentary elections are just days away. And we are seeing chaotic scenes at banks across the country.
The central bank decided last year to stop circulating new banknotes, but there weren't enough to go around, and millions of people haven't been able
to buy essentials, including food as well as fuel.
Nigerians have been protesting this roll out for weeks now. On Thursday, the president gave his approval to extend the deadline to turn in old
banknotes by another 60 days, and put some old banknotes back into circulation. We'll stay on top of that story for you.
Well, in heavily-controlled China, frustration is building at the local public health insurance reforms. Just going to interrupt -- I'm just going
to interrupt because President Biden is speaking. Let's listen in.
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our military, through the North American Aerospace Defense Command, so-called NORAD, closely scrutinized
our airspace, including enhancing our radar to pick up more slow-moving objects above our country around the world.
In doing so, they tracked three unidentified objects, one in Alaska, Canada, and over Lake Huron in the Midwest. They acted in accordance with
established parameters to determine how to deal with an unidentified aerial objects in U.S. airspace. At their recommendation, I gave the order to take
down these three objects due to hazards to civilian commercial air traffic and because we could not rule out the surveillance risk of sensitive
We acted in consultation with the Canadian government, I spoke firstly with Prime Minister Trudeau and -- from Canada on Saturday. And just as
critically, we acted out of an abundance of caution and an opportunity that allowed us to take down these objects safely. Our military and the Canadian
military are seeking to recover the debris so we can learn more about these three objects.
Our Intelligence community is still assessing all three incidences. They're reporting to me daily and will continue the urgent efforts to do so, and I
will communicate that to the Congress. We don't yet know exactly what these three objects were, but nothing right now suggests they were related to
China's spy balloon program or that they were surveillance vehicles from other -- any other country.
The Intelligence community's current assessment is that these three objects were most likely balloons tied to private companies, recreation or research
institutions studying weather or conducting other scientific research. When I came into office, I instructed our Intelligence community to take a broad
look at the phenomenon of unidentified aerial objects.
We know that a range of enemies, including countries, companies, and research organizations, operate objects at altitude for purposes that are
not nefarious, including legitimate scientific research. I want to be clear, we don't have any evidence that there has been a sudden increase in
the number of objects in the sky.
We're now just seeing more than partially because the steps we've taken to increase our radars, to narrow our radars. And we have to keep adapting our
approach to delaying -- to dealing with these challenges. That's why I've directed my team to come back to me with sharper rules for how we will deal
with these unidentified objects, moving forward.
Distinguishing between those that are likely to pose safety and security risks that necessitate action, and those that do not. But make no mistake,
if any object presents a threat to the safety, security of the American people, I will take it down.
I will be sharing with Congress these classified policy parameters when they're completed, and they will remain classified, so we don't give our
roadmap to our enemies to try to invade our defenses. Going forward, these parameters will guide what actions we'll take while responding to unmanned
and unidentified aerial objects.
We're going to keep adapting them, as the challenges evolve, if it evolves. In addition, we -- I've directed my National Security adviser to lead a
government-wide effort to make sure we are positioned to deal safely and effectively with the objects in our airspace. First, we will establish a
better inventory of unmanned airborne objects in space, above the United States airspace.
And make sure that inventory is accessible and up-to-date. Second, we will implement further measures to improve our capacity to detect unmanned
objects in our airspace. Third, we'll update the rules and regulations for launching and maintaining unmanned objects in the skies above the United
States of America.
And fourth, my Secretary of State will lead an effort to help establish a global -- a common global norms in this largely unregulated space. These
steps will lead to safer and more secure skies for our air travelers, our military, our scientists, and for people on the ground as well. That's my
job as your president and commander-in-chief.
As the events of the previous days have shown, we'll always act to protect the interests of the American people and the security of the American
people. Since I came to office, we've developed the ability to identify, track, and study high altitude surveillance balloons connected with the
When one of these high altitude surveillance balloons entered our airspace over the continental United States earlier in the month, I gave the order
to shoot it down as soon as it would be safe to do so. The military advised against shooting it down over land because of the sheer size of it. It was
the size of multiple school buses, and had posed a risk to people on the ground if it was shot down where people lived.
Instead, we tracked it closely, we analyzed its capabilities, and we learned more about how it operates. And because we knew its path, we were
able to protect sensitive sites against collection. We waited until it was safely over water, which would not only protect civilians, but also enable
us to recover substantial components for further analysts -- for further analytics.
And then we shot it down, sending a clear message, clear message. The violation of our sovereignty is unacceptable. We'll act to protect our
country, and we did. Now, this past Friday, we put restrictions on six firms that directly support the People's Republic Liberation Army, People's
Liberation Army Aerospace Program that includes airships and balloons, denying them access to U.S. technology.
We've briefed our diplomatic partners and our allies around the world, and we know about China's program and where their balloons have flown. Some of
them have also raised their concerns directly with China. Our exports have lifted components of the Chinese balloons payload off the ocean floor.
We're analyzing them as I speak, and what we learn will strengthen our capabilities. Now, we're also continuing to engage with China, as we have
throughout the past two weeks. As I've said since the beginning of my administration, we seek competition, not conflict with China. We're not
looking for a new cold war, but I make no apologize -- I make no apologies, and we will compete.
And we will responsibly manage that competition, so that it doesn't veer into conflict. This episode underscores the importance of maintaining open
lines of communication between our diplomats and our military professionals. Our diplomats will be engaging further, and I will remain in
communication with President Xi.
I'm grateful for the work of the last several weeks of our Intelligence, diplomatic and military professionals who have proved once again, to be the
most capable in the world. And I want to thank you all. And look, the other thing I want to point out is that we are going to keep our allies and the
Congress contemporaneous, informed of all we know and all we learned.
And I expect to be speaking with President Xi, and I hope we have -- we're going to get to the bottom of this. But I make no apologies for taking down
that balloon. Thank you very much.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sir, there's been criticism, there's been criticism that this was -- there's been criticism that --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: China compromised by your family's business relationships --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sir, Mr. President, Mr. President --
BIDEN: Give me a break, Matt --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you overreact --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, there's been criticism that this was an overreaction, that was done because of political pressure --
BIDEN: OK, you come to my office and ask the question, we'd have more polite people --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, why have you chosen Poland for your trip to mark anniversary of the war, and what's your message? What --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When are you speaking to President Xi, Mr. President?
SOARES: President Biden there, as you heard there, addressing the balloons that we have been discussing here, the ones that have been taken down,
including the Chinese balloon that was taken down a week or so ago. He basically said -- I can give you a brief outline of what he said. He said,
we don't have any evidence of increasing objects in the sky.
He said the military were closely scrutinizing the airspace after that Intelligence balloon from China. They tracked it, they gave order to take
it down, but he said, he acted on an abundance of caution. They are seeking to recover the debris from the other balloons that were taken -- the other
objects, I should say, that were taken down.
And they're assessing all three instances. But he said, we don't know what these three objects were. Most likely said, balloons tied to private
companies or tied to research. He went on to say, make no mistake, if these objects presented a threat to Americans, I will take it down. He did go on
to say, there has been no evidence -- there has been definitely an increase in balloons, in objects in the sky.
But let's get more on all of this and also what this means for U.S.-China relations, because we heard, of course, him saying that he will continue to
engage with China, and he said, I make no apologies. Let's bring in Kevin - - from the White House, reporter Kevin Liptak, and CNN Intelligence security analyst and former CIA operative, Bob Baer.
Bob, great to have you on the show. Kevin, great to have you too. Let's start, Bob, well, what did you make of what we heard from the president
ROBERT BAER, CNN INTELLIGENCE SECURITY ANALYST: Well, it was absolutely logical, and once they see this Chinese weather balloon and NORAD is going
to tweak its radar, and they picked up these three other objects. And it's also very logical that they didn't shoot down the Chinese balloon until it
got over the sea because, frankly, you couldn't -- you couldn't control where it was going to land.
And if it landed on a school, with a lot of children, it would be unacceptable loss. I think the president was right -- and by the way, this
is a military decision, what to shoot down and what's not. I've been in the situation room where you offer the president of the United States a choice,
is -- are these things a danger to American people? And the military response, yes.
And the president right away says, shoot it down. I mean, this is the way these things go. It's not the president's decision whether a threat or not,
it's the military's.
SOARES: And Kevin, some would say this is something the president should have addressed while back. There's been a lot of pressure on him to address
this. Give us a sense of the political pressure on him, given everything that we've seen the past week or so.
KEVIN LIPTAK, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yes, the White House had been kind of weighing the wisdom of the president, weighing in like this for the last
several days. There had been concern that one point, that there just wasn't enough information for the president to speak to -- to speak in a way that
would calm the nation, reiterate what his stance was, and sort of give the American people a view of what he was doing when he decided to shoot these
out of the sky.
As you said, there has been increasing pressure from Republicans, but also from Democrats that he say more about what his decision-making process was.
And the other thing that has changed over the last several days is the Intelligence community has sort of gathered around this consensus that
these three objects that the president shot down last weekend were benign, that they didn't pose any threat to the American people, and that they were
most likely some sort of commercial or research craft.
And so, you saw in the remarks of the president really trying to distinguish between those three objects and the Chinese spy balloon that he
shot down a week before that, really trying to break those two things up so that the American people can feel reassured that they aren't being
surveilled by a Chinese balloon, you know, every day of the week.
What has made it more difficult and what perhaps delayed this set of remarks was the difficulty in finding the debris from those balloons. And
remember, that is lying in the remote areas of the Yukon in the frozen sea ice off of Alaska, and essentially at the bottom of Lake Huron. From what
we can tell, investigators haven't been able to access much of that debris yet, which has hampered their ability to definitively identify what those
And so, when the president came out today, he wasn't definitive, but he did feel confident enough to tell the American people that those crafts, which
he believes are balloons, didn't necessarily pose the kind of risk that the Chinese craft did. And he did lay out sort of a set of parameters that
would go forward, including potentially getting a better read, a better inventory of what exactly is flying above North American airspace going
And so, that they don't have to necessarily shoot down every single object that comes across their radar.
SOARES: And on that point, Bob, what did you make of these parameters, in terms of the policy going forward? Because like the president said, we
don't have an evidence, there's been an increase in drones in the sky, I'm guessing they're looking out for more. That's why they're seeing more. But
what do you think in terms of policy? What should we be expecting here?
BAER: Well, I think at the opening, the discussion with the Chinese and coming to terms what this balloon was. We still don't know what the
forensics are from that balloon, if, in fact, it was sensors related to weather or whatever, and whatever pictures that balloon was taking, and
whether it was encrypted communications.
So, if it was truly a military balloon, once that's established, we need to confront the Chinese, and say, this is a waste of time, get your
Intelligence somewhere else. And let's just sort of back off this escalation right now. As for the other three objects, I think an important
point is, these balloons are supposed to have transponders that the Air Force can pick up, and they know they're civilian balloons.
But nonetheless, as the president said, they are a danger to civil aviation, and they should be shot down. I mean, a plane running into these
on a bad weather, it goes down.
SOARES: Bob Baer and Kevin Liptak, really appreciate you taking the time to speak to me. Thank you very much. And still to come tonight, almost one
year since the outbreak of war, we speak to the World Health Organization's leader in Europe about the critical challenges Ukraine is facing. That is
SOARES: Welcome back. The strongman president of Belarus insists negotiations can end the war in Ukraine. Alexander Lukashenko is a staunch
ally of Russia, and help Russia launched its invasion almost one year ago.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)
SOARES: Today, he held a lengthy press conference in the Belarusian capital, Minsk, saying, he wants the U.S. President to meet there with the
leaders of Ukraine, as well as Russia and talk out their differences.
Mr. Lukashenko told our Fred Pleitgen, right now, the West is taking the wrong side but he promised he won't be sending soldiers to fight. Have a
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALEXANDER LUKASHENKO, BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): This is another rhetorical question.
Why do you support Ukraine, pumping (ph) it with weapons instead of sitting down to negotiate, as I suggest?
You are already discussing sending long-range weapons, missiles, up to 300 kilometers in range, and F-16 fighter jets, state-of-the-art fighter jets,
after hundreds of Leopard tanks have gone there.
Why are you doing this?
You understand this is escalation.
We are peaceful people. We know what war is, we don't want war and there's no way we are going to send our troops into Ukraine, unless you commit
aggression against Belarus from over there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SOARES: Whatever the conversations in the halls of power, the war in Ukraine remains a life or death matter for those on the ground. Let's talk
more about this severe health challenge Ukraine is facing after one year of ongoing warfare. Dr. Hans Kluge, the Europe director for the World Health
Organization, joins me now from Kyiv.
Dr. Kluge, great to have you once again on the show.
DR. HANS KLUGE, WHO EUROPE: Thank you.
SOARES: From what I understand, this is your fifth visit to Ukraine over the past year.
What's your assessment, sir, of what you've seen on the ground, as the war progresses?
KLUGE: Well, to start with an optimistic note, I would say that I had heard one year ago a lot of pessimistic, really, projections, like, for
example, the health system will collapse. We will see an explosion of COVID-19, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS. All of that did not happen.
I'm always amazed every time I come, I see that the health system is still standing, it's resilient, mainly thanks to two factors: one, a heroic
health workforce. The doctors, the nurses, there is no turnover, there's fatigue but continuing.
And second, international support. It's so important that we do not let fatigue win the support of the Ukrainian people.
SOARES: Yes, fatigue is an important point. And of course, like you said, Doctor, it's been a relentless and brutal war. We continue, of course, to
see the physical scars of the war. But you must be worried, too, not just about fatigue but the mental health of so many on the ground.
KLUGE: Absolutely. We had a very interesting discussion with the first lady, Madam Olena Zelenska, this morning to launch the mental health
project across sectors, across society.
And the first lady was telling, well, the issue is so huge that basically we need to create the awareness in the society that everyone can cope with
the stress, the anxiety. There was a story she was mentioning of children having to be underground for more than one month, when the area cops (ph),
again, regained and liberated.
The children were afraid to go, in fact, to the open air, lost their voice (ph). So the mental health effort is huge. And we need the international
community to stand with Ukraine.
SOARES: So what do you want to see on that perspective?
What more can we do, from an international community, to help these children and to focus here on the mental health aspect, Doctor?
KLUGE: I would say, first and foremost, training (ph), it's happening but the efforts need to be doubled, because there is a need for a lot of
training. A lot is happening.
For example, community based training of the primary health care doctors, to move the mental health out of the institutions toward the community, to
take it out of the dark corner and make it debatable.
We have to talk about it. If we have a burnout, there's nothing to be ashamed about. We have to talk about the burnout among the health
workforce. And then, of course, also financing mobile teams to reach the hard-to-reach areas.
SOARES: And Dr. Kluge, your visit has been focused on kind of the vaccination drive. Just talk us through that and whether your teams have
had access to those on the front lines; in particular, I'm thinking of the Donbas.
KLUGE: Indeed, in Lviv yesterday, the WHO did the largest humanitarian donation in its history; 59 buses to reach the unreached children.
To give an example, from the 35 million doses of COVID-19 vaccinations since the start of the pandemic, only 4 million, meaning 11 percent, could
be administered. So there is a need to reach out to the front line, to the liberated areas.
KLUGE: Because we know that vaccines work and vaccines save lives, not only anymore about COVID-19 but the routine immunization, like measles,
diphtheria, polio, myelitis (ph).
And of course, as Ukraine prepares for a new offensive, Russia prepares for a new offensive, that we've been hearing.
What does Ukraine need right now?
KLUGE: Right now it's a very strong signal of solidarity. It's a combination of continuation of humanitarian support, as you rightly say so.
I'm afraid that the impact of the war on the health of the people will not diminish but augment, number one.
Number two is budget support because Ukraine traditionally has very strong public health institutions. So the budget support for the salaries, the
medicines remains crucial. We need to stand with the Ukrainian people in this dark of other times (ph).
SOARES: Dr. Hans Kluge, always wonderful to get you on the show. Thank you very much, sir.
KLUGE: Thank you so much.
SOARES: Still to come tonight, a woman who took her dog on the walk in the U.K. seems to have vanished into thin air. We will have more on the mystery
that's now embroiling police in controversy. That's next.
SOARES: The U.S. government is condemning an Israeli soldier's attack on a Palestinian human rights activist in the West Bank. Issa Amro was given a
tour of Hebron; two U.S. journalists this week. When he was thrown to the ground by the neck and then kicked.
One journalist filmed the assault. Another journalist posted it on Twitter, disputing the army's version of events, saying the activist did nothing to
justify the attack. The IDF jailed the soldier for 10 days.
Israel's national security minister criticized the sentence, saying the soldier deserves full support.
Amro also posted the assault. He says, it's not about him but the Palestinians who are frequently attacked by Israeli soldiers and settlers.
He says, the video, quote, "tells the story of each Palestinian in Palestine."
Issa Amro spoke to CNN today, saying, he's afraid for his life, fearing retribution from the Israeli army for telling his story. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ISSA AMRO, PALESTINIAN ACTIVIST: They try to hide (INAUDIBLE) They try to hide what is going on.
AMRO: Even in our family (ph), the Israeli military, the occupation system (ph), they don't want anyone to know what is happening on the ground.
So the soldier first detained me, threatened me, then he beat me up and threw me to the ground, then hit me again and threatened me again. And then
the army lied. In spite that really everything was on video.
What happened to me was it got attention because of journalists (ph) and because of the international media. And the soldier would not be
accountable or nobody would condemn this without international attention, international media attention.
I want this kind of violence to stop. I want the American State Department and American administration to really put high pressure and make the
occupation and apartheid (INAUDIBLE).
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SOARES: Issa Amro there.
Now a story that's been gripping the U.K., excuse, me for weeks. And it's now embroiling the police in controversy. It is the mysterious
disappearance of 45 year old Nicola Bulley on the 27th of January. She dropped her young daughters off at school before taking her dog for a walk
along the river. At about 9 am, she joined a conference call off camera and on mute as normal.
But by 9:33 am, her phone was found on this bench, still connected to the call, which had ended. Her dog was found wandering alone. Nicola had
Search operations and an intense investigation are ongoing. It was only on Wednesday the police revealed they believed Nicola to be high risk. Have a
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REBECCA SMITH, DETECTIVE SUPERINTENDENT, LANCASHIRE POLICE: As soon as she was reported missing, following the information that was provided to the
place by her partner, Paul, and based on a number of specific vulnerabilities that we were made aware of, Nicola was graded as high risk.
That is normal in a missing person from investigation with the information we were in possession of.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SOARES: Well, following that press conference, police then released this statement, giving exceptionally personal details about Nicola.
They say, quote, "Sadly, it is clear from speaking to Paul and the family that Nicola had, in the past, suffered with some significant issues with
alcohol, which were brought on by her ongoing struggles with menopause and that these struggles had resurfaced over recent months."
MPs and campaigners in the U.K. are slamming the decision by the police to share this information, questioning, really, its relevance. Zoe Billingham,
formerly a lead inspector for a U.K. police watchdog, says, she's deeply troubled. Such sensitive information has been released and she joins me
Zoe, great to have you on the show.
So I mean, I'm surprised they released that.
What were they thinking?
ZOE BILLINGHAM, FORMER LEAD INSPECTOR FOR U.K. POLICE WATCHDOG: It's very confusing, isn't it?
Not only is this information deeply personal, it's not immediately evident that releasing it now is going to help the police to bring Nikki home. And
that's what we all want to see. We want to see a really lovely outcome to this, where she's found safe and well and returns to her family.
But why release this information in the way that we've seen over the last two days?
And if it is relevant to the investigation, to find her as a missing person, why has it taken nearly three weeks of this information to be made
Personally, I'm not sure why this information is relevant. And I think it sets a very dangerous precedent for U.K. policing, because it will no doubt
raise the question in the minds of people whose loved ones do go missing, well, am I going to be subject to this?
And this is really a gross intrusion of a family's privacy.
SOARES: And we have heard, Zoe, from the family, a statement, part of a statement. I want to read it out to our viewers.
"As a family, we were aware beforehand that Lancashire police last night released a statement with some personal details about our Nikki. Although
we know that Nikki would not have wanted this, there are people out there speculating and threatening to sell stories about her. This is appalling
and needs to stop."
So clearly, would this put an end to the speculation, coming out and talking about these vulnerabilities?
Or would this just distract further from the investigation, Zoe?
BILLINGHAM: It's so difficult, isn't it?
In the situation because there is clearly incredibly unimaginable anguish on the part of Nikki's family. And it's absolutely, undoubtedly the case
that the police have been hampered and hindered in their ability to investigate by people trampling all over the riverbank where she
disappeared, you know, quite despicably individuals taking selfies on the bench where she was last seen.
BILLINGHAM: Social influencers using the opportunity to promote and sales of TikTokers coming up with all sorts of incredible scenarios as to where
she might be or what might have happened.
I think now really is the time for the police to get on with the investigation, to listen to the family's wishes, that they're able to get
on with the investigation and I hope bring Nikki home.
But I think the conversation for a later date is, why didn't the police do more to control the messaging to the public, so there weren't these vacuums
created, so that the public and the media did get the information that they needed, to be able to report on this in an appropriate way?
And again, why, at this very late stage, three weeks on from Nikki going missing, was this really sensitive information about her reproductive
status and so on, why was it felt necessary to put this into the public domain now?
SOARES: Absolutely. And the last 20 minutes or so, Zoe, we've heard that the police force have referred themselves to a watchdog as, obviously, the
scrutiny building around the case.
What does that tell you?
I mean, clearly they've been clumsy, to say the least.
What does that tell you about the handling of the case?
BILLINGHAM: I think it's really complicated, that one. I suspect it might be because the police also yesterday revealed that they'd had previous
contact with Nikki a few weeks before she went missing.
So it would be fairly automatic that the police should refer on, then, to the watchdog in similar circumstances. I also understand that our ministers
have been asking for the police force to explain why they've chosen this particular moment to put this information into the public domain.
And, quite frankly, I don't think anyone's yet heard an explanation as to why that might be.
Going back to my point, I feel very conflicted about talking about this case. The family clearly want the attention to be diverted on to finding
Nikki and quite rightly so.
But if the police's action in this case is going to stop other families coming forward when their loved ones go missing because of fear that this
is repeated again, I do think that senior police leaders need to be stepping forward to give the public -- and particularly women who've lost
lots of trust in the police over the last 18 months.
Because there is a series of really catastrophic cases involving serving police officers, that they give the women the assurance that they are safe
to come forward and report crimes relating to them or their loved ones, so that they can be solved.
SOARES: That was going to be my question.
I mean, how much does this further rock women's trust here, Zoe, in the police, given, obviously, the strength of crimes we've seen by police
officers, the murder of Sarah Everard, sexual abuse of women by David Carrack (ph).
I mean, this, no doubt, like you were pointing out, makes women doubt whether they should come forward.
BILLINGHAM: It unfortunately, it sadly, it sadly does. And going by the women that I've spoken to during the course of today, they feel really
bewildered that this type of personal information has been put into the public domain.
Some people have been talking about it smacking of victim blaming even, not a view that I personally subscribe to but I can understand why people feel
that. And it does nothing to restore trust in competence that women have in police, in order to step forward and report their crimes.
That said -- and I would always say this, the vast majority of police officers in England and Wales are absolutely excellent individuals, who do
a very difficult job in tough circumstances and whose only wish every day is to get up and do their very best for the public. We must remember that.
But again, cases like this and judgments like Lancashire police, in terms of this information, not only serve to rock that confidence further, I'm
SOARES: Yes and I do wonder if this was a man with personal issues and alcohol issues, whether police would reveal these personal details also.
Zoe Bellingham, great to have you on the show. Really appreciate it, thank you, Zoe.
And still to come tonight, residents of a small American town fear for their safety and their future, days after a train carrying toxic chemicals
derailed and burned in their backyards. That story, next.
SOARES: Well, it's been almost two weeks since a train carrying hazardous materials derailed in the U.S. state of Ohio and nearby residents are
furious. The wreck sparked a massive days-long fire, evacuations and the controlled release of toxic chemicals.
Those living nearby are worried for their safety and now they are demanding answers. Jason Carroll reports from East Palestine, Ohio.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everybody that came here, we expected a hell of a lot more than what we're getting right now.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's right!
JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Frustration, anger and unanswered questions in East Palestine, Ohio.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are my kids safe?
Are the people safe?
Is the future of this community safe?
CARROLL (voice-over): The mayor, leading the meeting, at times, speaking through a bullhorn to answer questions from distress residents, still
worried about returning to their homes, despite evacuation orders being lifted last week.
MAYOR TRENT CONAWAY, EAST PALESTINE, OHIO: (INAUDIBLE). (INAUDIBLE). But that stuff (ph), I will guarantee you, I will the first one in line to
fight them (ph).
CARROLL (voice-over): Officials trying to answer the community's questions.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) experts based on (INAUDIBLE). (INAUDIBLE).
CARROLL (voice-over): As many residents are demanding more testing of air, water and soil.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE).
CARROLL (voice-over): CARROLL (voice-over): Not present, at this community meeting, Norfolk Southern Railroad.
CONAWAY: The Norfolk Southern did not show up. They didn't feel it was safe.
CARROLL (voice-over): In the 11th hour, the company that owns the train that derailed sent a statement saying, "Unfortunately, after consulting
with community leaders, we have become increasingly concerned about the growing physical threat to our employees. With that in mind, Norfolk
Southern will not be in attendance this evening."
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, if you are afraid that somebody from Palestine is going to hurt your employees, what exactly did you do to us?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can feel the anger and frustration.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm scared for my family. I'm scared for my town. I grew up here. I'm related to 50 percent of them.
CARROLL (voice-over): Cleanup efforts are underway. The governor told residents Wednesday that municipal water is safe to drink. His statement
comes after new test results from the state Environmental Protection Agency found no detection of contaminants.
Officials say the toxic spill was largely contained the day after the derailment and that tests have shown the air quality is safe. They are
still suggesting those with private wells get their water tested.
CONAWAY: I need help and I will do whatever it takes, whatever it takes, to make this right.
CARROLL: In the meantime, cleanup efforts are well underway. The EPA says they will be here as long as it takes. Residents here are not so sure --
Jason Carroll, CNN, East Palestine, Ohio.
SOARES: Of course, we will stay on top of that story for you.
Finally tonight, your mail doesn't always show up on time, right?
But rarely is it this late. More than a century after being written in 1916, this letter here was delivered. Finlay Glen, the current occupant,
thought it was written in 2016. In reality, the letter was sent during World War I, a decade before Queen Elizabeth II was born.
It was written by a London tea merchant's daughter on holiday with her family. Under the Postal Service Act, it is a crime to open mail not
addressed to you but Glen said, if he's committed a crime, quote, "i can only apologize."
Local historians are now researching the letter further for any more details.
That does it for us this hour. Thanks very much for your company. Do stay right here, "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" with Richard Quest is next. Bye-bye.