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Isa Soares Tonight
Putin and Biden Deliver Dueling Ukraine Speeches; CNN Uncovers Iran's Secret Black Sites; Google Faces Supreme Court In Lawsuit Over Section 230; Biden Says Ukraine Will Never Be A Victory For Russia; China's Top Diplomat Arrives In Moscow; February 6 Earthquake Opens Canyon In Turkish Olive Grove; Supreme Court Hears Case Targeting Legal Shield Of Tech Giants; Live Fish Rain Over Australia's Outback. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired February 21, 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, U.S. President Biden and Russian
President Putin delivered diametrically opposed statements on how we got to this point in the war in Ukraine and how it will end. Then a CNN special
report on Iran's black site where police take and allegedly torture protesters.
And then later, we'll explain the U.S. Supreme Court case that could have major implications for the internet, as we know it. But first this hour, on
the eve of the first anniversary of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, we are hearing from the man who started the war. And we're hearing a rallying cry
from one of Ukraine's chief allies.
Today, Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Joe Biden are both promising victory in a speech to lawmakers. Mr. Putin, once again
accuse the West of aggression. He's using that as an excuse to pull out of a key nuclear arms reduction treaty. Have a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT, RUSSIA (through translator): They want to inflict a strategic defeat on us and climb all over our nuclear facilities.
So, I'd like to make the announcement today that Russia is suspending its participation in the START Treaty.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SOARES: Well, speaking in Poland's capital, Mr. Biden posed the war as a test of all democracies against autocracy. He called out Mr. Putin by name
ten times, saying, his craving lust for land and power will fail. And Mr. Biden is also calling out the extraordinary brutality of Russian forces,
which are committing, quote, "crimes against humanity without shame."
The bottom line here, the U.S. President vows Ukraine will not be Russia's victory and he says, Mr. Putin is misplacing blame.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: United States and the nations of Europe do not seek to control or destroy Russia. The West was not
plotting to attack Russia, as Putin said today. And millions of Russian citizens only want to live in peace with their neighbors are not the enemy.
This war was never a necessity.
It's a tragedy. President Putin chose this war. Every day the war continues is his choice. He could end the war with a word. It's simple. If Russia
stopped invading Ukraine, it would end the war.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SOARES: Well, Mr. Biden thanked his Polish allies for their support to Ukraine and for housing nearly 1.6 million Ukrainian refugees. Lukasz
Jasina is a spokesperson for the Polish Foreign Ministry, he joins me now from Warsaw. Lukasz, it's great to have you on the show. So many features
this evening for us to digest.
Let me get your take first of all, Lukasz, from what you heard from President Biden today in Poland.
LUKASZ JASINA, SPOKESPERSON, MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS, POLAND: Good evening, thank you for having me. I was there, Warsaw was very cold and
windy, even Christiane Amanpour who is fighting with this wind in your television, but no matter what was happening around us, Joe Biden was
giving us hope.
Giving us a feeling that United States are behind Ukraine, behind us, behind eastern flank of NATO and European values. And his speech was
completely different than Putin's one. It was very humanitarian speech of the human being, a politician of good and old traditions, without attacking
anyone who doesn't -- was the -- who didn't need that and full of support.
Really American one. All good stereotypes and Miss America was inside Joe Biden's speech today in Warsaw.
SOARES: And Lukasz, you mentioned hope. But we heard at various points President Biden applauding in many ways kind of the global coalition, but
it was also, was it not? About shoring up the alliance. We're a year now, almost a year into this war. How worried are you -- how worried is Poland
at this stage about fatigue or kind of a shifting political winds within the alliance?
JASINA: We're worried every day because history teach us that sometimes, that has happened. But so far, we are not so scared as we've been before.
We've got a big support from the United States, but of course, we need more tanks, more jets, more American troops here in Poland, and in other
countries of the eastern flank.
We are also waiting very much for tomorrow's B-9, Bucharest Nine Summit of eastern flank of NATO with Joe Biden's participation. Maybe there, we'll
hear more about technical support for us to stop us worrying about it.
SOARES: You mentioned jets, you mentioned thanks. You know, you would have heard this before, Lukasz, you know, speed clearly of the essence right
now. This is something we've been hearing from President Zelenskyy. But while the commitment we have seen and the will is there to give Ukraine
what it needs.
The challenges and the practicalities have proven somewhat difficult. Talk to us about the difficulty in getting this to Ukraine, really.
JASINA: That's firstly the agreement of all NATO countries. Not everybody wants this war to be escalated. For us, escalation is everything what comes
from Russia. For some people, escalation is giving more guns to Ukraine, which defend itself. But lately, we've succeeded with Leopards, with
They are not maybe coming to Ukraine, but our German allies support this decision. Maybe now is the time for all of us to support giving Ukrainians
more guns than we did before.
SOARES: Just -- let me just check something with you, Lukasz. Poland, obviously, we know lobbied Berlin to send tanks to Ukraine. From what I --
from what I Understand, looking at the tally that I've got, Poland pledged something like 14 Leopard tanks. When will these arrive in Ukraine?
Because, you know, you were talking about the timing issue, but also there are constraints like supply chain issues. When will these arrive?
JASINA: In the next two, three weeks after I finish with that, and after finishing training of the Ukrainian troops which will lead those tanks.
SOARES: Next two or three weeks for all 14, Lukasz?
JASINA: Yes, exactly, yes, exactly.
SOARES: Fantastic. Thanks for clarifying that. On the question of support for jets, be it F-16s or MiGs is -- where does Poland stand on this? And is
there a growing alliance? Is this likely to happen at this point?
JASINA: We stand on this alliance is growing, but still they're not growing enough to do this. But exactly like it was with the tanks, we hope
that in the next few weeks, this question will be big enough to support Ukrainians more and more. Jets are very useful in Ukrainian war. We'll see
what would happen.
I still am an optimist, and will see tomorrow maybe, there will be some new statements by Secretary General Stoltenberg and other politicians from our
part of Europe about.
SOARES: But Poland stands behind this on the jets front?
JASINA: Yes, we do. But we are a member of the NATO, and we want to reach agreement in all such issues to participate in this together because
alliance is stronger when we are together.
SOARES: Indeed. One concern that we've been hearing, Lukasz, in the last kind of 48 hours in particular from the U.S. perspective and, indeed, from
NATO Chief, Stoltenberg, is China, and whether it could provide support to Russia's war in Ukraine. Your thoughts, if this is happening? And what the
diplomatic efforts that are being done behind the scenes to make sure it doesn't get to that point.
JASINA: Of course, we both cannot talk about all diplomatic affairs because many of them are secrets. But we know about Antony Blinken's
meeting with Chinese officials. My country has a very good relations with Chairman Xi Jinping and with China, and we hope that we -- there will be
much more efforts on China to stop potential alliances, and to stop supporting Russian aggression.
But it's always a decision which will be made in Beijing. We are not so afraid about this, like this is straight Russian aggression we've got close
to us, but still, that's a potential problem.
SOARES: Lukasz Jasina, really appreciate you taking the time to speak to us. Thank you, Lukasz.
JASINA: Thank you.
SOARES: Now Mr. Biden need support for his Ukraine policy back in Washington. Let's go to chief White House correspondent Phil Mattingly, who
is in Warsaw right now. And Phil, we talk about, obviously, how this is being seen in the U.S. In just a moment. But let's talk about this speech.
It was very much as you heard with my guest there talking about democracy versus autocracy. Powerful moment for Biden and a crucial message to
Ukraine in this coalition.
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, there is no question about it. I thought the conversations you just had was so
indicative as to why the president thought this speech needed to be made at this moment, and the sense of, there can never be a moment where attention
is not paid to the necessity of the coalition that's been put together over the course of the last 11 months. The durability of the scale of the
assistance that they've been willing to provide. But it only takes one country to break away.
It only takes some areas to start driving fractures into that coalition for everything to kind of fall apart. And I think the president understood, and
when you talk to his advisors, they made it very clear that while certainly the last 11 months as the president detailed have underscored just how
resilient both the Ukrainian people, but also the western democracies that have been behind them throughout this process have been.
There's a tough road ahead. There's a long road ahead. There's no clear end game right now, and that requires at least, in the views of White House
advisors, the president, to make very clear the stakes here, that this isn't just about Ukraine and Russia, this isn't just about the United
States and the coalition it leads, it's bigger than that.
It's about freedom, it's about democracy, and that was what the president was attempting to lay out in a very detailed manner tonight.
SOARES: Yes, and you heard my guest there talk about hope, and this is exactly what they needed to hear at this very junction. But you know, it
would -- a speech would have been welcome not just in Europe, but particularly in eastern Europe. How will it be received at home, Phil?
MATTINGLY: You know, it's interesting. There's certainly a threat inside American politics right now, driven mostly by kind of a more conservative,
far-right Republicans that have pushed against additional assistance to Ukraine, have pushed against any new packages of assistance of which the
U.S. Is most certainly going to be needing to pass and vote on in the months ahead.
They are not a dominant force right now. They are not controlling the decision-making, they don't run the policy on foreign policy or on funding.
But I think there's a very real concern or at least a recognition, that if that is left unattended, if the message is not continually delivered to the
American people as to the why?
Not just that we're delivering tens -- not just the U.S. is delivering tens of billions of dollars, because they think it's the right thing to do, but
the why? The stakes, how it breaks down and how it applies to the American public, that it only takes a little bit for that to become a more pervasive
element of American society.
And I think that was part of what the president was trying to say today, not just to the world, not just to European leaders or leaders of the
SOARES: Yes --
MATTINGLY: Between the American public as well.
SOARES: Our chief White House correspondent there in Warsaw, thanks very much, Phil. Well, hours ago in Russia, President Vladimir Putin gave his
own speech, as we have mentioned. He tried to blame the West for the situation in Ukraine, claiming that it was -- it was trying to destroy
Russia. Our Fred Pleitgen has the story.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE) Vladimir Putin.
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A determined Russian leader entering center stage. Vladimir Putin showing he
will not back down from the war in Ukraine, calling Kyiv's leadership illegitimate. "The Kyiv regime is essentially alien to the people of
Ukraine", he said. "They are not protecting their own interests, but those of their mind or countries."
Putin squarely blames the West for the conflict, even though it was Russian forces that invaded Ukraine almost a year ago. The Kremlin claims Russia is
under assault from the West, even more so after President Joe Biden went to Kyiv to meet Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, showing the U.S.'
resolve to help Ukraine stand up to Moscow.
"The elite of the West does not conceal their ambitions, which is to strategically defeat Russia", he says. "What does that mean? It means to
finish us off once and for all." While Putin praised his army, he acknowledged they need better gear. As progress has been hard to come by,
and losses mount in the face of stiff Ukrainian resistance.
Still, support among the Russians, both for what Putin calls the special military operation and the Russian leader himself remain rock-solid,
Russia's top independent pollster tells CNN.
DENIS VOLKOV, DIRECTOR, LEVADA CENTER: No, it's about 80 percent, because again, situation come down a little bit by the end of the year, people
accommodate it, get used again, and the rating -- his rating is stabilized.
PLEITGEN: And patriotism is on full display in Moscow, though not everyone wants to talk about it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
PLEITGEN: "The operation is going sluggishly", this man says. "We must strike the centers like Germany, London."
"I think the West will bend and be forced to make concessions", he says.
"What opinion can there be? We shouldn't have barged into where we weren't wanted", this man says. Putin saved arguably his biggest message for last,
announcing Russia is suspending its participation in a new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, after Moscow last year accused Ukraine of striking an air
base for strategic bombers.
PUTIN: We know that NATO is complicit and the attempts by the Kyiv regime to strike our air bases, and now they want to come and inspect our bases?
While Putin says the treaty could be revived if relations between the U.S. and Russia improve, on this day, the gulf between Russia and the West
further widened. Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Moscow.
SOARES: Well, the U.S. and Russian president speaking as more Russian bombs drop in Ukraine. This was the scene in the city of Kherson earlier
after Russian forces fired shells on a market, at least, five people died and 16 were injured.
Struck down in the middle of the street as they shopped. As Russia's president touts his country's aim to win, civilians are paying of course,
as you can see there, the ultimate price. And those same civilians are the ones Ukraine's allies are promising to help defend. Let's go now to Alina
Frolova; she's a former Ukrainian deputy Minister of Defense, and she's a deputy Chair of the Center for Defense Strategy.
Alina, thank you for -- very much for coming on the show. So, we've heard some very powerful words and a very symbolic move by President Putin in the
last two days. Give us a sense of what you made, first of all, today, of Biden's -- President Biden's speech.
ALINA FROLOVA, DEPUTY CHAIR, CENTER FOR DEFENSE STRATEGIES: Well, first of all, let me not agree, I didn't hear any -- like a very substantial words
in what Putin said, nothing new except the announcement of suspension of the participation in the treaty. However, I don't think that it changed
substantial, again, on practice something because Russia is not keeping any treaty, simple(ph), of the year, they didn't have inspections, so no one
knows what's going on, really, inside.
President Biden is like expected the reaction. I mean, for Putin, it's what -- another attempt to let (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE), the western
countries and to show the next deadlines, and the reaction of the President Biden is absolutely clear, that the western countries (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN
LANGUAGE), the western countries didn't make an aggression and they won't use this, like they were quite picky about the treaty itself.
But they won't change their policy and they won't use aggressively weapons against other countries.
SOARES: And what we've heard today, really, and we've heard in the last few days is really a commitment from the allies. At least, that is there.
We've seen pledges of military support, tanks, ammunition. But I wonder, Alina, if there's a frustration inside Ukraine at the pace that this is
happening, because of supply chain issues, production issues.
Give us a sense of the mood or what it's like inside. I know President Biden just was there 24 hours ago, but putting that aside, from a logistics
point of view, how frustrating is this?
FROLOVA: There's no trepidation in Ukraine. And there is no here in Ukraine, and this is like conflict that we don't have, not among the usual
people, not among the government because for Ukraine -- this is an essential fight, and anyway we will fight, and we are happy to have our
partners, and we are happy that the step-by-step, the speed of decision- making is changing.
The scope of decisions is changing. Yes, we spent a lot of time making sure that we need the weapons, that we need support. But now it looks like, it's
like getting bigger and bigger, and faster and faster. Of course, we do understand that there are some limits. But I'm not totally sure if the
tower command(ph) is planning our actions are taking into consideration the limits which our partners have drawn, the number of (INAUDIBLE), they can
provide from the number of support they can provide.
SOARES: Yes, I mean, the pledges are being made, the commitments have been made, but what is clear is that, it's not arriving quickly enough as we
heard from President Zelenskyy. Alina, really appreciate you taking the time to speak to us. Thank you very much.
FROLOVA: Thank you --
SOARES: Still to come tonight, a CNN special report finds dozens of clandestine attention centers in Iran, where forced confessions are
extracted from protesters through torture. That's next.
SOARES: Well, over the past five months, thousands of Iranians have taken to the streets in protests across the country since the death of course of
Mahsa Amini; the young woman was arrested for not correctly wearing her head scarf. In December, a CNN investigation found evidence of a push by
Iranian authorities to condemn and execute protesters using sham trials and forced confessions.
Now, Iranian human rights organizations tell CNN at least, 60 protesters were executed in January alone. In a CNN special report, CNN has found over
three dozen black sites or illegal detention centers that Iran has used to meet out the worst, most barbaric torture. CNN spoke with over two dozen
survivors of black sites.
Their stories corroborated clear methodology of unprecedented torture. Chief international investigative correspondent, Nima Elbagir has this
exclusive report, and we must warn you, it contains graphic descriptions of torture as well as sexual violence.
NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN INTERNATIONAL INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For the last six weeks, Kayvan Samadi has been on the run. Each night, he
moves to a different safe house. Brutally tortured for 21 days at the hands of the Iranian regime, he is terrified they will find him. His crime,
organizing medics to help wounded protesters.
But even with his fear of being tracked down, Samadi still wants to identify himself, he wants to show the regime they didn't break him.
KAYVAN SAMADI, MEDICAL STUDENT (through translator): I set up a group of underground medics, we treated around 700 people. The regime was committing
war crimes, forbidding treatment of the injured. I promised my friends to fight for them.
ELBAGIR: His friends, like so many Iranians, have been on the streets, protesting against the clerical regime that has for so long dictated their
lives. For his defiance, Samadi; a medical student was picked up by Iranian security forces and brought to a black site. A clandestine interrogation
facility outside the rule of law, where many survivors tell CNN forced confessions are extracted through the most brutal of torture methods.
These forced confessions have, at times, been used in court to execute protesters for crimes against the state. Samadi refused to sign what he
believed would be his death warrant.
SAMADI: Why should I have to sign something that I haven't done? I'm not a terrorist, not a murderer or a saboteur, I only saved lives, that's it. My
team and I did nothing more.
ELBAGIR: Unlike so many other victims of torture that CNN interviewed, Samadi was not blindfolded during his detention. Based on his testimony,
CNN commissioned the following images, to take you inside the ordeal that he and so many other Iranian protesters have been subjected to.
SAMADI: I was forced into a building hidden by trees, next to a girl school. On the first day, the two guards kicked me, I vomited blood, each
day, the torture got worse. There was a closet in the corner of the room filled with torture tools, electric cattle prods, different cutters, some
syringes. They drugged me, they wanted me to stay alive longer, to torture me more.
The guards started kissing me and licking my neck. They touched my genitals and my buttocks. On day 16 of my arrest, I descended into hell. They tied
my hands, unshackled my legs.
They wanted to break me, to destroy me. They pulled my trousers down, I thought they were going to give me an electric shock again. I couldn't
believe they were going to do this. He took the baton and went behind me, I was waiting to be beaten up, he kissed my neck and shoved the baton into my
anus. And he said, this is what us, soldiers of the revolution do to gay boys like you.
I was shocked and didn't know what to do. I couldn't even scream. I was dumbstruck and just cried in silence.
ELBAGIR (on camera): I can see the dark circles around your eyes. Do you sleep?
SAMADI: I'm sorry.
ELBAGIR: It's OK, it's OK.
(voice-over): Samadi believes that if he had signed the false confession, as the guards wanted him to, then they would have hung him for treason. He
doesn't know why his torturers released him. He thinks they wanted him to die on the streets. A chilling warning to others. Based on Samadi's
detailed eyewitness testimony across referencing with satellite imagery, CNN has been able to locate the black site where he says he was tortured in
his hometown of Oshnavieh.
These are the trees that hide the unnamed building he was brought into, and this is the girl's school where he heard children playing in the courtyard.
But this is not the only black site, cross-referencing testimony from over two dozen sources with satellite images, CNN found dozens of these black
sites which can be divided into two types.
Undeclared illegal jails inside government facilities such as military bases and intelligence centers, and makeshift clandestine jails that
typically crop up temporarily near protest sites. For instance, in this city, known for its religious pilgrimage sites, they've been using some
mosques as detention centers. According to multiple sources CNN spoke with.
This person can be seen in different cities across the country. In Sanandaj, we found at least six unofficial detention centers, Zahedan,
five, and Tehran, the capital, where CNN was also able to locate eight different pop-up torture sites. After speaking to dozens of eyewitnesses
who were tortured in these different unofficial detention centers, the barbaric treatment used on Samadi was not unique. His experience tallies
with other eyewitness testimony.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Called me a slut.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Rubbed himself against me --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Naked with their hands tied.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Humiliation.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That you've taken --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No choice but to confess.
ELBAGIR: In total, CNN located over three dozen clandestine jails across the country. It paints a picture of a regime meeting out torture on an
industrial scale, designed to crush an uprising that has posed the biggest existential threat to the regime in decades. These are photos of just some
of the protesters that state hospital physician, Dr. Mohsen Sohrabi and his colleagues treated in the city of Sanandaj.
A major flash point in the crackdown of the uprising. It was an illegal act, according to the Iranian regime. For that, he too was brought to a
black site and tortured.
MOHSEN SOHRABI, MEDICAL DOCTOR (through translator): They are a power in and of themselves. They don't follow any kind of human rights, there is no
supervision. What kind of supervision do you have to have when people are being raped? They don't have any moral boundaries, they just want you to
confess so they can prosecute you.
ELBAGIR: Dr. Sohrabi is also now in hiding.
(on camera): You've had to risk so much just to do your job.
SOHRABI: If I cry, it's not because I fear the Islamic Republic, it's not because of what I have lost, it's for the cruelty that people in Iran are
ELBAGIR (voice-over): Even as evidence of torture on an industrial scale points to the desperation of the regime, Iran's young protesters are
equally defiant, even in the face of the unimaginable torture and death. Nima Elbagir, CNN.
SOARES: Powerful report there from Nima Elbagir and team. And CNN reached out to Iranian authorities for comment on our findings, and has not
received a response. Well, just hours ago, Iran sentenced an Iranian-German national to death. Tehran accuses Jamshid Sharmahd of organizing a bomb
attack in 2008, among other attacks.
State media claims these attacks were in coordination with the U.S. and Israel. Amnesty International in Germany is demanding the immediate lifting
of the sentence and the release of Sharmahd. And Germany's foreign minister said Iran's move will, quote, "result in a significant response." We'll
stay on top of that story for you, of course.
And still to come tonight, China's top diplomat arrives in Russia, talking peace, even as his country cozies up to Moscow. We'll discuss their
deepening relationship, that is next.
SOARES: Welcome back, everyone.
In Eastern Europe, as an anniversary of Russia's invasion of Ukraine approaches, two conflicting views, forcefully expressed in two capitals.
U.S. President Joe Biden, a day after his historic visit to Kyiv, spoke two hours ago from the royal castle in Warsaw.
As you can see there, he vowed, quote, "Ukraine will never be a victory for Russia." And he said Vladimir Putin has been wrong on all counts about the
war and the West's resolve. Have a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Appetites of the autocrat cannot be appeased. They must be opposed. Autocrats only understand one
word: no. No. No.
BIDEN: No, you will not take my country. No, you will not take my freedom. No, you will not take my future. And I will repeat tonight what I said last
year in this same place, a dictator betting on rebuilding an empire will never be able to ease the people's love of liberty.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SOARES: But in Moscow, Russian president, Vladimir Putin again blamed the West for escalating the conflict. He described Ukraine's government as a
puppet of NATO and he accused the West of being the aggressor, wanting to, quote, "finish off Russia once and for all."
It comes as China's top diplomat arrives in Moscow, the first visit to Russia by the head of Chinese foreign affairs since Russia invaded Ukraine.
Wang Yi will meet tomorrow with Russia's foreign minister and possibly Mr. Putin himself.
U.S. secretary of state, Antony Blinken, is warning that China is considering supplying lethal weapons to Russia. And as CNN's Marc Stewart
points out, Russia and China's deepening relationship isn't just about the war.
MARC STEWART, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Amid a high-profile visit of China's top diplomat, Wang Yi, to Russia, there are some similarities,
some parallels in the messaging from the two nations.
China is laying the blame on NATO and the U.S. for the conflict in Ukraine. China won't call it a war but rather a special military operation. Take a
listen to some remarks of Chinese foreign minister, Qin Gang, speaking at a security conference.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QIN GANG, CHINA'S AMBASSADOR TO THE U.S. (through translator): We urge certain countries to immediately stop fueling the fire. Stop shifting blame
to China and stop hyping up Ukraine today, Taiwan tomorrow.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEWART: While there is a lot of focus on the political relationship between China and Russia, there is also an economic one, including trade
and energy purchases -- Marc Stewart, CNN, Tokyo.
SOARES: Let's take a deeper dive in all of this. Nathan Hodge is here with me now.
Nathan, thanks very much for taking the time to talk through all of these topics that we have. Let's start off first with your take with what we
heard from President Putin. You've heard many of these speeches.
What stood out to you?
NATHAN HODGE, FORMER CNN MOSCOW BUREAU CHIEF: Well, the first thing that I thought was I've seen this movie before. You know, I've sat through his,
you know, marathon press conferences.
It reminded me a little bit of watching his taped address when he appeared on the day that the invasion in February 24th began. It included these long
lectures about history, all of the grievances -- sort of Putin recycled a lot of this basically this turgid word salad that we've heard from him
All the phrases, you know, "the denazification of Ukraine," that Ukraine's been stuffed with weapons, that Ukraine presented the threat; we had to
attack and use force because we were the ones who were about to be attacked.
And all of these other things that we essentially know to be fictions. So a lot of this really, you know, it wasn't that new. But then you sort of look
at the face of the crowd as sort of the camera panned across and you sort of see these very stony-faced Russian elites sitting there.
And you kind of have to wonder, what is going through their minds?
You know, there may even be --
SOARES: Who is the message directed at?
Clearly those he's speaking to right there.
But what about the Russian people?
Would that be directed at them?
Because you talked about the economy actually doing pretty well. The economy is growing, he said.
How would that be viewed, that speech be viewed back home?
HODGE: Well, he did want to play the good wartime leader there, right?
He did talk about, you know, extra benefits that would be brought in for veterans and you know, the families of soldiers who have been slain in
Ukraine would be taken care of.
But most of this basically is sending a message to the Russian people, this is going to be a long war. There was no talk here about what the way out,
what the light at the end of the tunnel was, when this special military operation may end.
And that is the key thing here because, basically, it was a message that said, you know, buckle up. This is going to be a long ride.
SOARES: A long ride and is there appetite?
I know the Russians historically, you know, are pretty tough. They've seen many wars.
But can they ride this out?
I mean, in terms of the movement in the country. We played one report from Fred Pleitgen, who is in Moscow for us today. And some of the video clips
we heard basically said, you know, Putin should continue. They should attack center of Ukraine, the capital, Kyiv.
Just talk to us about the mood inside Russia, because it's very hard to get a sense of what people are actually thinking.
HODGE: Yes, especially when you've got a camera pointed at them and defaming the military or criticizing the policy of the government can land
you in jail. So, you know, people are going to be very careful about what they say.
We do know that the war in Ukraine has been deeply unsettling for many Russians. Now whether or not that is reflected in polls, whether or not you
would say over a telephone line, well, I disagree with the president, that's another matter.
But we do know that it has been troubling, you know, for a lot of Russians and there was a lot of concern, I think, in the run-up to this speech that
something drastic might be announced, that would be a new wave of mobilization or borders would close.
You know, some other sort of big step, where he would formally declare that this is a special military operation, a war and all that entails.
SOARES: And the ratings, Putin's ratings, it seems, are at 80 percent. But obviously, we don't know whether that can be trusted or not.
Let me ask you for your take first, Nathan, on what we heard from Dmitry Peskov, the spokesperson.
He said, I will quote it for our viewers. "It's impossible to talk about destroying Russia without a nuclear war."
I mean, that kind of comment, it's kind of a left field. No one talked about destroying Russia. No one talked about nuclear war. We didn't hear
that today from President Biden. In fact, the message was directed at Russian people, saying, this isn't against you. So explain the message.
HODGE: There are two things. One, yes, there's a message to sort of the U.S., to a foreign audience, basically. It's a little bit of a brandishing
nuclear threat, basically saying we have, you know, this ultimate vote, you know, we have, which is our nuclear arsenal.
HODGE: But you know, there's something else I think that is at work there. We're getting a little bit of a glimpse into the kind of conspiratorial
mindset that Putin has.
And this speech kind of reflects that. He believes, genuinely, I'm sure, that he is on the receiving end of a deliberate, years-long U.S. campaign
of regime change that's ultimately been directed at him. And this is basically, you know, this is their response.
SOARES: And if China plays into this in some way, because I know they're very strong allies, how worried would-- how concerning should the West be
HODGE: Well, I think that's exactly why you've had the message coming out in advance of Biden's visit to Kyiv as well, as you know, ahead of the year
anniversary of Russia's full-scale invasion, basically signaling to China, you know, that there are lines.
And that we would like to make it eminently clear that there may be the temptation to tiptoe up to the line of providing that lethal aid to Russia.
But it needs to be very seriously thought about, the consequences, what they would be.
SOARES: Nathan Hodge, really appreciate it. Thanks.
And still to come tonight, a terrifying reminder that they're still not safe. Two weeks, of course, after a devastating earthquake, a deadly
aftershock rocks the quake zone in Turkiye and Syria.
SOARES: "The road moved like waves." That's how one man described what happened when a powerful aftershock hit parts of Turkiye and Syria last
night. This dashcam footage captured the moment the ground shook in southern Turkiye, plunging the area into darkness.
At least six people were killed, hundreds more injured. The aftershock just adding to the trauma of quake survivors across the region. Jomana Karadsheh
shows us how their world was literally torn apart two weeks ago.
JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They've all come to witness a sight so extraordinary, some would even say terrifying. The
monstrous 7.8 magnitude earthquake split the land in the village of Tepehan in two.
An olive grove, now divided by this new canyon, roughly 130 feet deep and more than 900 feet long.
KARADSHEH: This area lies on the Eastern Anatolian fault line that shook Turkiye. And you can see how powerful it was. Geologists we have spoken to
say that this is not unusual.
KARADSHEH: They described this as rock mass failure. But they say that this is not something that they have seen in their lifetime.
KARADSHEH (voice-over): These men, from a nearby village, tell us, everyone is scared. They all now sleep outside.
No one was hurt in this village in the mountains, only a short drive from the devastated city of Antakya. Here, like many other villages in the area,
the damage is also limited. But its impact has been overwhelming.
"I thought it was the apocalypse. The sky ruptured, the ground cracked. You have nowhere to run," Ilhan (ph) tells us.
"I have grandchildren. I hugged them and I think, if we are going to die, we should be together."
Ilhan (ph) and his family, more than 40, he said, have been living out here under this makeshift tarp shelter. They need a tent, he tells, us but no
tents or aid have made it to this village.
There are too many hard hit areas in need of urgent aid in one massive earthquake zone. And getting that aid out is a herculean effort.
Incirlik Air Base has become an around the clock hub for these aid deliveries. These Turkish, American and Polish troops work together to get
basic and lifesaving supplies out. Choppers here are constantly on the go.
KARADSHEH: This chopper has just been dispatched through the outskirts of the city of Antakya. They are carrying baby food, warm children's clothes,
blankets, tents and much more of this desperately needed aid.
KARADSHEH (voice-over): It is a quick landing here; people have to rush to grab what they have been waiting for, for days.
"Our house collapsed and we had no tents," this man said. "I lost eight nephews. We asked for a tent, food and underwear. God bless you. You've
made us so happy."
Help can't come soon enough for those who have lost everything, left with nothing in an instant -- Jomana Karadsheh, CNN, Hatay Province, Turkiye.
SOARES: And if you would like to help earthquake survivors, go to cnn.com/impact. It provides a list of verified organizations working on
rescue response relief efforts.
Coming up right here, their daughter was killed in a terror attack. Now they want Google to pay, accusing it of helping ISIS spread its message
online. A long, legal fight reaches the U.S. Supreme Court. We explain, next.
SOARES: The U.S. Supreme Court is hearing two cases this week that could have huge implications for content posted online.
The first involves YouTube's parent company, Google. As Jessica Schneider reports, it's been sued by the parents of a woman killed in a terror
attack, who say YouTube fueled ISIS recruitment.
BEATRIZ GONZALEZ, NOHEMI'S MOTHER: We continue in this fight because we are seeking justice.
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: The Gonzalez family's long legal fight started when their 23-year-old daughter, Nohemi, was killed in
Paris in 2015.
Nohemi Gonzalez was at a bistro when ISIS terrorists unleashed gunfire, part of a coordinated citywide attack of bombings and shootings that killed
129 people. She was the only American.
GONZALEZ: It was a terrible, hurtful moment in my life that I cannot describe the pain.
SCHNEIDER (voice-over): The Gonzalez family now wants YouTube and parent company, Google, to be held liable for Nohemi's death. They've lost in the
lower courts. But the Supreme Court agreed to hear their appeal.
And their lawyers will now try to convince the nine justices that YouTube's algorithms promoted ISIS affiliated videos to certain viewers and that is
how ISIS recruited and enlisted support.
NITSASNA LEITNER, GONZALEZ FAMILY ATTORNEY: Instead of terminating these videos, instead of eliminating them, instead of deleting them, they
SCHNEIDER (voice-over): But Google says they are not responsible, given the broad protections of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.
Congress passed a law in 1996 to shield internet platforms for being sued for harmful content posted by third parties on their sites.
Google argues its algorithms recommending content are what make it possible to find the needles in humanity's largest haystack, warning that if Section
230 does not apply to how websites sort content, the internet would devolve into a disorganized mess and a litigation minefield.
There's no evidence the Paris attackers were specifically radicalized on YouTube. But Nohemi's parents still allege YouTube aided and abetted ISIS
and should not be able to hide behind Section 230.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They should've stopped. They have the power to do it.
SCHNEIDER (voice-over): This will be the first time the Supreme Court has considered the scope of Section 230 and the extent to which it protects
social media companies. The push to reform Section 230 is widespread.
Last month, President Biden penned an op-ed in "The Wall Street Journal," calling for modifications. And Republicans have repeatedly blasted Big Tech
for what they call alleged censorship of conservative ideas.
The Gonzalez family, though, just wants justice for the death of their daughter at the hands of ISIS-linked terrorists.
GONZALEZ: Nothing is going to give me back my daughter. But at least there's something good that's going to be accomplished.
SOARES: And Jessica Schneider joins me now live from Washington with more.
So Jessica, what have we heard so far today?
SCHNEIDER: Well, you know, we actually heard three hours of robust arguments in this case. And the justices, the nine justices of the Supreme
Court, they're really struggling with how to resolve this case.
They repeatedly acknowledged just how consequential overruling in this case would be if they do, in fact, side with the Gonzalez family.
But they also ask, on the flip side, why tech companies should be so shielded from responsibility, as they have been for decades under Section
The justices here also seemed to struggle with whether it's even the court's responsibility to chip away at some of those protections or if,
instead, this might be Congress' role to modify or clarify this law that was enacted in 1996 because, you know, Isa, if this court allows this
family to hold YouTube responsible, it could really open up a flood of lawsuits from people that are in similar situations.
And it would really change the way that social media platforms run. They would have to crack down on an extremely broad array of speech if there
were greater concerns here that they could be held liable.
So Isa, the court really struggled with how to resolve this case here. They will also hear a case tomorrow that deals, more broadly, whether social
media companies should be responsible for terrorist content under an anti- terrorism law here in the U.S.
So they are confronting two big cases, all as Big Tech sort of prepares itself for what could be an adverse ruling once we hit the spring and
summer here. Isa.
SOARES: And like you said, not just lawsuits but actually consequences regardless, right?
Which way it goes.
SOARES: When do we expect a ruling, do you know?
SCHNEIDER: The Supreme Court wraps up its term at the end of June. They usually save the big cases for last. My guess would be the end of June we
will find out on this case.
SOARES: Jessica Schneider, appreciate it. Thank you very much.
Finally tonight, it wasn't rain or snow falling from the sky in Australia's outback but fish.
In a freak weather event that left residents stunned, freshwater fish rained over Lajamanu. Many were still alive. There's a scientific reason
for the phenomenon after updrafts suck fish fresh from rivers.
They move miles in rain clouds. Aboriginal elder Andrew Japanangka witnessed the fish fall, calling it, "a blessing from the Lord."
And that does it for us for tonight, thanks very much for watching. Do stay right here because "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" is next with Richard Quest and he
will be keeping a close eye on the markets.
You can see here, the Dow Jones down more than 642 points, almost 2 percent. It has inched back in the last 13 minutes or so. Earnings, fourth
quarter earnings, somewhat disappointing. Forecasts as well from some big U.S. retailers.
Richard, of course, will have this. Concerns also over inflation, as we look to the Fed. Look for lots for Richard to break down. Richard Quest
will have more in the next few minutes and I shall see you tomorrow, bye- bye.