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Isa Soares Tonight

Ukrainian Forces Claim To Have The Situation In Bakhmut Under Control; U.S. President Joe Biden Speaks Out Against Netanyahu And Israel's Judicial Reforms; King Charles In Germany For First Overseas State Visit; U.S. First Lady Traveling To Nashville For Vigil; Shooter Was Under Psychological Care; South Korea And U.S. Practice Amphibious Invasion; Pope Francis Hospitalized With Respiratory Infection; King Charles III In Germany For First Overseas State Visit. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired March 29, 2023 - 14:00   ET



PAULA NEWTON, HOST, ISA SOARES TONIGHT: Well, a very warm welcome to the show, everyone, I'm Paula Newton in for Isa Soares. Tonight, Ukraine forces

claimed to have the situation in Bakhmut under control. Has Russia lost the momentum in and around that city? Then a strained friendship. President

Biden says publicly that the Israeli prime minister should walk away from his controversial judicial reforms.

We'll tell you how Benjamin Netanyahu is responding. And Britain's King Charles on his very first official state visit. We are live with him in

Berlin. Now, the head of the Wagner mercenary group, admits his forces in Bakhmut have been quote, "pretty battered", but Yevgeny Prigozhin insists

his mercenaries have practically destroyed the Ukrainian army.

Again, those are his claims and continue, he does, saying they will win the battle for the eastern city. Ukrainian officials, of course, dispute that

claim, saying they are the ones that are keeping control of Bakhmut. Now, the U.S. believes there are about 6,000 Wagner mercenaries currently

fighting there.

And they are suffering serious losses. A top U.S. General, saying Ukrainian defense forces are quote, "inflicting a lot of death and destruction on

those guys. Ben Wedeman joins me now from eastern Ukraine. And Ben, really curious to get your insights here. You've been on the ground there for a

few days. What more have you learned about the state of play, especially there in Bakhmut?

And I know that you've heard from both sides in terms of each giving their position and sometimes putting forward disinformation.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean, seriously, the situation is unclear. Back in January, we were almost every

day in Bakhmut, but since the 21st of February, the Ukrainians declared Bakhmut a red zone. So volunteers and journalists simply cannot go there,

so I can't tell you firsthand.

But what we are hearing is that the Ukrainians are still controlling perhaps 40 percent of the city that they have lost some ground over the

last few weeks. But the Ukrainians insist that the lines in their words have stabilized now. Now, what you have ongoing there is really -- it's

been called a meat grinder. We could call it a bloodbath.

There are heavy casualties on both sides. Now the ratio of dead Ukrainians to dead Russians, it's not clear. Some put it as much as five dead Russians

for every one dead Ukrainian. Others say it's more like one dead Russian or rather two dead Russians for one Ukrainian. So the battle is intense, and

certainly, what we've seen is that there are many Ukrainian forces deployed on the outskirts of Bakhmut.

They've dug defensive positions. There's lots of armor in the area. So in the event the Ukrainians can no longer hold Bakhmut, they hold the high

ground to the west of the city, and they certainly would be able to stop a Russian advance there. It's been really battle of quantity versus quality.

The Russians obviously have a huge numerical advantage, and certainly in terms of weaponry, their weaponry may be antiquated, but they have a lot of

ammunition which we've heard from Ukrainian officials.

That they don't seem to be suffering, the Russians that is, from a shortage of artillery shells. But certainly, the situation is more or less

stalemated, but at a high price to both sides, Paula?

NEWTON: To both sides. And we have been hearing that quite clearly. We just went over what U.S. officials had said. I wonder what you make of the

Wagner leader, Prigozhin, he admitted, OK, that they are battered. But what about his claims that he's inflicting great pain on Ukraine, and the fact

that he continually gives it, literally gives it to the Russian defense ministry about what he needs on the ground and what he hasn't gotten on the


WEDEMAN: Well, we've heard him complain quite publicly time and time again about not receiving adequate support from the Russian defense ministry, and

specifically the Russian army. He's got a feud with those people, and at the end of the day, the force that has the resources is the Russian army.


And all reports indicate that Wagner, the Wagner Group has lost thousands of its fighters. Now, I suggest we put that in quotation marks. Many of

them are simply convicts with very little in the way of training and we've been -- we've spoken to Ukrainian soldiers when I was here last January,

who said that they -- the Russians use a very specific tactic.

They will send waves of this basically cannon fodder, convicts and others poorly trained people forward to allow for the Ukrainians to open fire.

They expose their firing positions, and then better trained, better equipped, Russian troops will then focus their fire on the Ukrainians. So

it comes at a very high price to the Wagner group.

And -- but it's also inflicting a hyper cost on the Ukrainians, but Prigozhin. It's hard to say how much longer he can carry on with A, this

feud with the Russian military hierarchy, and how much longer his military force can go on taking these high losses. Paula?

NEWTON: Yes, especially what may be to come in terms of a change to that stalemate as Spring has now sprung in Ukraine. Ben Wedeman for us on the

eastern frontlines, appreciate it. Now, meanwhile, we want to bring you back to the Ukrainian capital as unusual and bloodless standoff is taking

place at a monastery that serves as home to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

Now, Ukrainian officials are ordering monks and other clergy to leave the historic Kyiv Pechersk Lavra Complex. Today, in fact, is the deadline, and

you may be asking yourself why? Well, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church is a branch that has traditionally been loyal to the leader of the Russian

Church. That's patriarch Rio(ph). Rio(ph) is in fact, a close ally of Russia's president and here is the key.

He is a vocal supporter of the war. Last year, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church cut ties with Moscow and declared its own independence. Oleksandr

Tkachenko is Ukraine's Minister of Culture and Information Policy, and he joins me now from Kyiv. You have ordered them out. The deadline is today.

By any measure, your actions could be portrayed as extreme.

So, why are they necessary? Are you saying that the Ukrainian Orthodox Church -- Orthodox Church poses a national security risk to your country?

We seem to be -- we seem to be having some trouble with the audio. We will get back to the minister, let's see if he's actually fixing --


NEWTON: Absolutely, OK --

TKACHENKO: Finally --

NEWTON: And we will -- and the question again, I think believe you heard the question. Why is the Ukrainian Orthodox Church a national security


TKACHENKO: First of all, let's clarify several issues. We're not ordering two monks to leave. It's a monastery. And we canceled the agreement, which

was concluded between Yanukovych government in 2013 and Russian and Ukrainian branch with Russian Church, which we believe is illegal.

So, it doesn't mean that they necessarily need to leave tomorrow or today. It means a process. Legal process, transparent process of canceling

disagreement, which we for sure understand was illegal -- and part is, there were violations of this agreement. So that's first issue. Second

issue, it's not Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

We do have Orthodox Ukrainian Church, which go to Thomas from Patriarch Rahalamils(ph)several years ago. And by his claim, it was any view of Kyiv

metropolis, which was taken off illegally by Russian Church at the end of 17th century.

NEWTON: This has become --

TKACHENKO: Everything will be done very correctly and in legal way.

NEWTON: But even those who the faithful, who support both Ukraine, and in fact the clergy that are in there right now say that, this is too extreme.

I want you to now hear, though, from the church itself that says that they have been guardians of the monastery for nearly a millennia and they

object to this. I want you to take a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): There are no legal grounds for us to leave the monastery and abandon these buildings so that they can be

captured by someone who has no duty to look after it.


There is no legal document binding us to leave the monastery today.


NEWTON: You know, the implication here all along has been that somehow, you believe they are aiding and -- aiding and abetting Russia in this war.

What proof do you have of that?

TKACHENKO: Well, first of all, let's clarify once again, as I claimed from Ukrainian branch of Russian Church. It's not true. They received a legal

document coming from both our museum and the ministry about what are the reasons and that's first. Second, during all time of war, unfortunately,

many representatives of Ukrainian branch of Russian Church supported invasion in Ukraine.

And there are many legal cases which are in the procedure by Ukrainian police. That confirms this attempts and this actions. And the last one

during many years unfortunately, of Ukrainian independence, Ukrainian branch of Russian Church, where supporters of so-called Russian bigweld(ph)

in Ukraine, and only 4 percent according to latest opinion polls support right now Ukrainian bridge of Russian Church.

NEWTON: Right --

TKACHENKO: We also should take it -- this into consideration.

NEWTON: But again, we're talking about history that runs nearly a millennia, and CNN spoke to the faithful outside of the Church. One

Oksana(ph), just say what she told us was, "we are called unpatriotic and pro Russian, and this is not true." She emphatically says all the patriots

here, "if they were not patriots, would not pray for our country and our victory."

Is there a reason that you believe that these kind of religious believers should be caught in the middle of this dispute, given they clearly do not

believe that you're on solid ground here and asking the clergy to leave.

TKACHENKO: First of all, the leaders of Ukrainian branch of Russian church did not call Ukrainians to come to Ukrainian army to defend Ukraine during

this war. There were light statements about that, they condemn this war, but they didn't finish zero relationship with the Russian Church. Kiril(ph)

is true believer of Putin.

And the difference between Ukrainian democratic church and Russian church is very simple. They're follower of Kremlin policy of -- the policy of war.

And they're not a price -- they're like members of Kremlin government?

NEWTON: I have to go. But I want to make it clear, you're saying there is no today deadline. You will not act on trying to remove them on this day --

TKACHENKO: It is -- it is interim period, and we'll be acting according to anyway legal procedures.

NEWTON: OK, I'll have to leave it there for now. But I do want it on the record that you have basically indicated that you believe their activities

there are treasonous. Minister Tkachenko, thanks so much, really appreciate your time. Now friends for decades now in an escalating public dispute over

a bitterly divisive issue.

Benjamin Netanyahu is pushing back against Joe Biden's call for him to quote, "walk away from efforts to weaken the Israeli judiciary. Israeli's

prime minister -- Israel's prime minister says his country makes decisions based on the will of the people, not pressures from abroad. The U.S.

president's approach came after Mr. Netanyahu paused contentious judicial overhaul bills amid strikes and mass protests across Israel. Listen.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Like many strong supporter of Israel, I'm very concerned.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you inviting the Prime Minister Netanyahu to the White House, sir?

BIDEN: No --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Will he be coming to Washington?

BIDEN: Not in the near term.


NEWTON: CNN's Nic Robertson has been following all these developments for us from Jerusalem, and he joins us now. Yes, blunt comments from Biden, and

I'm sure they were striking to you as well. Yet, Netanyahu continues his pushback. Are we seeing signs that despite the groundswell of protests,

BiBi actually thinks he might get a compromise still on these judicial reforms.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, he thinks he might get a compromise. Indeed, a senior Israeli government official today

said that they made good progress in the talks that were held under the auspices of the president yesterday. But the same official also said that

the prime minister has red lines.

So, the prime minister may think he'll get a compromise, but it's not clear that his idea of a compromise matches what the opposition leaders would

view as a compromise, and something that still keeps democracy at the heart of Israel's judiciary, that any changes there would not be so damaging to

threaten Israel's democracy, which is what they're worried about at the moment.


So there's still open ground there. And I think it's that very sense of division in society here that has everyone here talking about what

President Biden has had to say about Prime Minister Netanyahu not being able to get an invite to the White House right now. Because while there's

this internal division, it becomes very concerning that the country's strongest ally is raising questions, and that means people here worry

about, will the enemies of Israel try to take advantage of the situation, but absolutely, this is a big topic here.



ROBERTSON (voice-over): Reaction has been swift, Israeli TV leading with and debating President Joe Biden's rejection of any near-term visit by

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.


ROBERTSON: Consensus it's unprecedented. A clear put-down by Israel's most important ally --

BIDEN: Hopefully, the prime minister will act in a way that he tried to work out some genuine compromise. But that remains to be seen.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you inviting the Prime Minister Netanyahu to the White House, sir?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Will he be coming to Washington?

BIDEN: Not in the near term.

ROBERTSON: Biden's message back off on contentious judicial reforms has touched a raw nerve in the Israeli government.


ROBERTSON: Itamar Ben-Gvir, Netanyahu's hard-right cabinet member firing back on Israeli radio, saying we are an independent country, not another

star on the U.S. flag. And Netanyahu, during a U.S.-hosted virtual Summit for Democracy, also shrugging off Biden's cold shoulder.

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, PRIME MINISTER, ISRAEL: Israel and the United States have had their occasional differences, but I want to assure you that the

alliance between the world's greatest democracy and a strong, proud and independent democracy, Israel, in the heart of the Middle East, is


ROBERTSON: But on the streets, and the many anti-government protests, Biden snub of Netanyahu is exactly what protesters have been calling for.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We need the world to help us, not let him in. Just punish this guy. This guy is a dictator, is very bad for democracy.

ROBERTSON (on camera): So, he'll try to let these calm down --

(voice-over): But among opposition leaders here, concern, the U.S. president isn't tough enough.

AHMAD TIBI, PARLIAMENT MEMBER OF ISRAEL: It's a new and interesting statement by President Biden. Unprecedented. Good one. I am not sure that

this is enough for Netanyahu to stop.

ROBERTSON (on camera): Why not?

TIBI: Because he can -- he loves Washington more than Tel Aviv. Netanyahu. But he can live without visiting the White House for the next year.

NETANYAHU: This alliance is something that President Biden is committed to. I've known him for 40 years. He's a true friend of Israel.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): Not for the first time this year, Netanyahu defending his hard-right government to U.S. officials.

ANTONY BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE, UNITED STATES: The discussion that the prime minister and I had today was no exception.

ROBERTSON: In January, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken came to cool spiking Israeli-Palestinian tensions.

BIDEN: Like many --

ROBERTSON: President Biden's blunt comments Tuesday, signaling growing frustration in the White House, and taking conversations here to a whole

new level.


ROBERTSON: And we're getting a sense from senior Israeli government officials here about how they're trying to interpret this situation right

now. And bottom line, they're trying to play it down. One senior Israeli government official described it as a tempest in a teacup. It seems, at

least, from the White House that it's more than that at the moment, Paula.

NEWTON: I was going to say good luck trying to convince Israeli citizens of that at this point, especially that Joe Biden went on and on several

times. Nic Robertson, good to have you there for us. Appreciate it. Still to come for us, tonight, the small country of Moldova is becoming a flash

point in the war in Ukraine. Moldova's interior minister joins us live to discuss.



NEWTON: Russia is now accused of preparing a coup that could drag yet another country into its war on Ukraine. Moldova is a small country between

Ukraine and Romania. And in the east of Moldova, I want you to concentrate on that, is the separatist region of Transnistria, which is home to about

1,500 Russian troops.

Now, many are concerned that Russia's Vladimir Putin could use this as a pretext to annex the region just like he did with Crimea. Moldova is

currently facing a political crisis, and the country's president accuses the Kremlin of trying to take advantage of the situation. She says Russia

is using saboteurs, in her words, disguised as civilians to add fuel to the fire.

Moldova's Minister of Internal Affairs, Ana Revenco joins us now. I want to say that as CNN reported earlier this month, that there seems to be a plan

by the FSB, Russia's security service to destabilize your country. It includes using pro-Russian groups threatening to cut off energy supplies,

even using the Orthodox Church.

The Kremlin, I will say denies this categorically. So what evidence do you have of their meddling?

ANA REVENCO, INTERIOR MINISTER, MOLDOVA: It is clearly that control of the Republic of Moldova by Russian Federation would generate extra

vulnerability for Ukraine, because it has the potential in opening an extra front. It will bring the war line closer to NATO MS bases, that would give

an extra access to the Black Sea through Danube.

That will give an extra access to the military bases in Transnistria region, that would definitely -- could be used to access the airspace and

much more. But the end finale of that is to gain extra negotiation power with all the capitals of the world and forcing them to come to the

negotiation tables, which will definitely mean an extra advantage, geopolitical and military for Russia.

The arsenal of tools that Russian Federation is using in order to impose that control over Moldova is definitely the energy blackmail, the abuse and

the control over the -- and the blockage of the food security chain, it's a very aggressive and black propaganda and disinformation, very aggressive

campaigns meant to discredit the leaders of the country on social networks.

It's trying to coagulate the categories of people who are -- being also organized and pay to come in the capital of Chisinau, and show off their

dis-appreciation with the global crisis, that this organizers of this so- called protests who are nothing more than the fugitive oligarchs are trying to put on the shoulders of --


NEWTON: But to be --

REVENCO: Our leaders.

NEWTON: But to be clear, there is turmoil within Moldova itself. I mean, how fragile do you think the political situation is, given pro Russian

activists because they continually are mounting a challenge to your government?

REVENCO: Well, definitely their intention is to eliminate the public from the leaders, is to make a fake -- the leaders of the country responsible

for global crisis, to put on their agenda, the responsibility for all this increasing prices is for all this turmoil in the political and the security

situation in the region.

And in the end, meant like I said to all these riots and all these so- called protests. By this means is to demand the change of the government, which makes the situation quite volatile and in current context of regional

security. Its answer -- you know, it increases the fear of the population that, the country could enter even deeper this crisis.

NEWTON: Charles Michel; the EU Council President was in Moldova, you know, a little more than 48 hours ago, he acknowledged that Russia and its

proxies have increasingly tried to destabilize your country. But what can the EU do concretely at this hour to best support your country?

REVENCO: We have been benefiting of important support from countries of the EU, from U.S. from countries in other democratic world, and all this

support was very important for us to get through the very crisis in the energy sector that was imposed by Russia since second part of 2021. The

budgetary support was meant to compensate importantly, the increase in the prices.

We managed to go through this Winter, but definitely the situation remains volatile. The support also that was extended very much helped Moldova to

handle also the refugee crisis. We are further discussing with many EU- member states, different programs and projects meant to revitalize the economy, because that is extremely important now to create the jobs, to

increase the economic capabilities of the country in order to have also additions to the budget.

And that definitely would allow us to go back into the development agenda, and we are seeing that the more we, as a country are firm in our European

course, Democratic course, the more Russia is again imposing sanctions on us. Like, for example, trying to isolate the country by getting also in any

class with, let's say, air companies to draw from this space, which means extra pressure on our land, on our infrastructure, on roads and borders,

and that again creates an extra push for us to --

NEWTON: Right --


NEWTON: Mr. Revenco -- Mrs. Revenco, I have to leave it there, but I only have a few seconds left. But I want to ask, do you fear that a coup is

still possible within the next few weeks or months?

REVENCO: We have definitely need to stay continuously vigilant, and every 24 hours of bringing new changes in the security atmosphere, both in the

region and here in the country will continue as all law enforcement and security agencies stay tuned. We'll continue to exchange information,

valuable information with our partners --


REVENCO: And that's exactly what is helping us to keep the situation under the -- control.

NEWTON: And Miss Revenco, we have to leave it there, thanks so much, really appreciate it. Still to come for us, a vigil is hours away in

Nashville to honor six victims killed in Monday's school shooting. A live report from the city when we come back.




NEWTON: Welcome back to the show. U.S. first lady Jill Biden is set to join mourners in Nashville, Tennessee, later today at a vigil to honor

three children and three adults killed in Monday's mass shooting.

The community has been praying for those slain at the private Christian elementary school. A motive remains unclear. But a number of people who

knew the shooter say they appeared to struggle with mental health.

Despite that, police say the killer was able to buy seven guns legally. Here was the Nashville police chief, speaking to CNN earlier.


CHIEF JOHN DRAKE, NASHVILLE POLICE: What we know is that the suspect was under doctor's care for an emotional disorder of some type. The parents

felt like she should not own any weapons. She did have one weapon that they encouraged her to sell, which she did.

So they thought she didn't have any more. But with the -- being under the care of a doctor, we didn't have any more information other than that was

it. Enforcement was never contacted. She was never committed to an institution. So that's basically that's where we're at right now. And we're

still delving into that as well.


NEWTON: CNN's Dianne Gallagher is in Nashville For us with the latest.

Good to have you on the story. And what more have you learned about Audrey Hale, especially given, you know, we just heard from police. They are

speaking to her parents and yet a motive still elusive.

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Paula. And look, they said that they've interviewed both the shooter's mother and father. They

spoke with the father, we know, of the day of the shooting in the hours afterward.

The shooter lived with their parents. They were 28 years old. We, according to the police, the parent revealed that they had been undergoing -- under a

doctor's care for some sort of emotional disorder, although they have declined to elaborate beyond that.

They also said that the parents had been concerned about, in their knowledge, one gun that the shooter owned and that they had convinced the

shooter to sell that gun, according to the police. And they say that they had no reason not to believe the parents.

They thought that the shooter did not have any more firearms. Well, it turns out, between October 2020 and June of 2022, they amassed a small

arsenal, really, seven different firearms they have found, saying that they were purchased legally by this 28 year old shooter, Paula.


We also are speaking to the former teacher of this shooter, Audrey Hale, saying that, back in 2017, this art teacher had Hale for two semesters. And

they detailed that they were, you know, very artistic. In fact, the teacher said that they believe that perhaps they could have been -- maybe do

children's books or something like that, saying they had whimsical and childlike artwork.

But also said that, on the very first day of class that Hale had an outburst when she couldn't figure out how to get into her account because

of a password situation. They had to make Hale leave the classroom.

The teacher said that was the only type of outburst that they knew of since then. Again, that was back in 2017. But they stayed close. They followed

each other on social media and the teacher said that, over the next few years, especially within the past year, they noticed this was someone who

was suffering.

They said that over the past year that Hale had been posting about a former teammate, being upset about the death of a former basketball teammate of

theirs. And around that same time Hale came out as transgender, saying that they preferred he/him pronouns and wanted to be called Aiden (ph).

NEWTON: You know again, so troubling, so many of the things that you're outlining there. I also want to ask you, though, as people around the world

look at this situation and I know you cover this so closely, right, gun laws.

Gun rights, especially in the South, I'm curious about the local reaction there, especially since the Republican governor has resisted any curbs on

gun rights up to now.

GALLAGHER: You know, Paula, the governor has. And the governor has a very direct connection to this particular shooting. He put out a five minute

video last night, talking about this, saying that his wife and -- was very close friends with one of the people who were killed, the substitute

teacher, Cynthia Nixon (sic), saying that she had actually been scheduled to have dinner with the governor and his wife on Monday night.

But of course, she was killed as a substitute teacher in a school on Monday. The governor sort of took a different tone in this video, saying

that we can all agree on one thing, that every human life has great value. We will act to prevent this from happening again. There is a clear desire

in all of us, whether we agree on the action steps or not that we must work to find ways to protect against evil.

Paula, the key thing there is, he says, whether we agree on the action steps or not. And we have seen Republicans try and say that this is not an

issue of gun control, of any sort of gun action, that it needs to be a mental health discussion or discussion about security, hardening schools,

if -- is another term that they tend to use.

The President of the United States says that his hands are tied. There was nothing left for him to do from an executive position, using executive

power when it comes to gun control in the United States, noting that they have tried to do other measures, including limiting the purchasing of

certain items.

But they can't actually do anything without Congress. And Republicans from the state of Tennessee, including the congressman who represents this exact

area, have not just seemed reticent to talk about any sort of gun legislation; they've seemed defiant, that they will not in this case,

saying instead that it needs to be about some other topic instead of, you know, the guns, on this 130th mass shooting in the United States just this


NEWTON: And even though, as you said, it is a political right. This is striking so many in such tragic ways. Dianne Gallagher for us in Nashville,

appreciate it.

Still to come for us, the U.S. and South Korea staged their largest military drills in years, how North Korea might react.





NEWTON: Disruption to gas and oil supplies have been caught -- have caused energy prices to soar in the past year, I hardly have to remind everyone.

Now in our new series, "Growing Bangladesh," CNN meets one startup that wants to turn Bangladesh's taxis into a virtual power plant. Kristie Lu

Stout shows you how.


KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On the bustling streets of Bangladesh's capital, you can feel and hear the energy.

The constant clamor of Dhaka's horns and traffic almost like a chorus.

Much of it comes from the city's roughly 2.5 million tuk-tuks. Now these ubiquitous three-wheeled taxis could be the source for a different kind of

energy, thanks to a new smart battery designed by a Bangladeshi startup.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The good thing about these smart batteries is that they require 40 percent less energy than the current market driven lead

acid batteries.

Summer Islam (ph) is the head of projects at Soul Share (ph), which says its lithium ion battery is lighter and can connect to its internet enabled


We're able to extract information from the battery.

For example, what is the battery's state of charge?

What is the voltage?

Who's leasing the battery?

How long are they leasing it for?

STOUT (voice-over): Muhammadia Hussein (ph) started using one of Soul Share's (ph) smart batteries in his tuk-tuk over a year ago. He says it has

boosted his monthly earnings by 50 percent as well as cutting his contact with the toxic fumes from the lead acid battery.

There's a bigger benefit for the community too.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When they return to the garage at the end of the night, they come back with like 30 percent of juice in their batteries. So

if they can feed that back into the grid when the demand is really high, that would be amazing.

STOUT (voice-over): Soul Share (ph) plans to transform Bangladesh's tuk- tuks into a virtual power plant that can be plugged into the national grid at any time.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just from the EVs alone, we could feed back about 20 percent of Bangladeshi's peak load.

STOUT (voice-over): Founded in 2015, the startup is a leader in peer to peer micro solar grids. Bangladesh is home to the world's largest off grid

solar power program, according to the World Bank.

Soul Share is connecting households with no solar panels to ones that do so they can buy excess energy from their neighbors, using a pay as you go

mobile, top-up system. To date Soul Share (ph) has raised $6 million in funding, including investment from local venture capital fund, SBK


Looking at the growing network of solar grids, combined with the potential power of the nation's tuk-tuks, Islam (ph) is confident that the frenetic

energy of the city can fuel the future.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The way we see it, if we can do this right here in Bangladesh, then you can actually do it anywhere.


NEWTON: Our thanks to Kristie Lu Stout there.

South Korea and the U.S. are demonstrating their firepower during major military exercises, striking a nerve with North Korea. We're waiting to see

in fact how Pyongyang will react.

Earlier this week, state media claimed North Korea had simulated a tactical nuclear missile launch. CNN's Paula Hancocks has the story from there.


PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The U.S. and South Korean presidents pledged last year to expand joint military drills.


They said to counter the increasing threat from North Korea. And that's exactly what they're doing.

(voice-over): A ship to shore assault, grounding of fighting force and equipment while trying to maintain the element of surprise, this is the

drill that North Korea always reacts to, the idea of American and South Korean Marines storming a beach on the Korean Peninsula.

Pyongyang sees this as a dress rehearsal for an invasion that a South Korean and American line has always been, that this is defensive in nature;

2,500 U.S. Marines and sailors 3,000, South Korean Marines and sailors working together on one large scale joint drill.

The U.S. Landing Craft Air Cushion or LCAC bringing to shore all that's needed for the early stages of battle.

Now we haven't seen this level of drills in the Korean Peninsula for five years multiple tours across the country and South Korea there being held on

land, at sea and in the air.

(voice-over): We gained rare access behind the scenes of this training, flying out to the U.S. amphibious assault ship the USS Makin Island (ph).

On the back of North Korean missile launches and disputed claims of simulated underwater nuclear weapons tests, this is a drill that will be

watched carefully in Pyongyang.

We're about 30 nautical miles from shore at this point. And this is one of the LPACs that is being loaded up right now, ready for an amphibious


The 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit is meant for rapid response to any kind of crisis, military or humanitarian, self sufficient and often the first to

arrive in an emergency. But with the five year gap in training due to COVID 19 and previous diplomatic efforts with North Korea, there is an element of

catching up.

CAPT. TONY CHAVES, U.S.S. MAKIN ISLAND: We've had to start from the basics again. There's some things that we're relearning. The basic as justice

communications between ships, between aircraft and then a partner, an ally here in this region.

HANCOCKS (voice-over): North Korean military moves, it appears, are not the main focus here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's in an area of the world that's significant right now. But it is routine. It has been scheduled. We've done this many times.

So the fact that those things are happening around us, really, our focus is just on the exercise.

HANCOCKS (voice-over): Interoperability is the most used term during this drill, working on smooth American-Korean maneuvers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're used to this now. So if we have to do this for real, we've already done it. We've already worked with the Republican

screen (ph) and we know how to operate with them.

HANCOCKS (voice-over): A U.S. return to large scale drills in a region of both allies and adversaries.

HANCOCKS: And it's not just about North Korea but also Russia. The commander of the USS Makin Island told us that, during this drill, they

actually had a Russian intelligence ship shadowing them at a distance of some 50 nautical miles. He called it, quote, "pretty routine" -- Paula

Hancocks, CNN, Korea.






NEWTON: And this just in to CNN: the Vatican says Pope Francis has a respiratory infection and will need to spend a few days in hospital now, a

statement says. The pope was checked in after complaining of some respiratory difficulties. It goes on to say that he is, of course, touched

by messages of support that he is receiving.

And of course, CNN will continue to follow that story for you.

Now Britain's King Charles is in Germany for his first overseas visit as monarch, together with Camilla, queen consort. He was greeted by -- at

Berlin's Brandenburg Gate by the German president, Frank Walter Steinmeier.

Right now they are guests of honor at a state banquet. Our royal correspondent Max Foster has traveled with the king to Berlin.

Of course, you have -- good to see you there on the ground, Max. And I have to ask you, this is his first official overseas foray and I'm curious about

what tone he's looking to set here.

MAX FOSTER, CNN LONDON CORRESPONDENT: Well, it was decided by the government to send him here. And there's been some tension, as you can

imagine, between Germany and the U.K. since Brexit.

But the Germans really have rolled out the red carpet in an extraordinary way for this visit. But there's not just a relationship between the U.K.

and Germany, also the royal family.

At the banquet tonight that you just mentioned, there are some distant royal relatives of King Charles as well. So it's a family affair as well as

a state affair.


FOSTER (voice-over): The grand entrance fit for a king's first official state visit, King Charles and his wife, Camilla, the queen consort,

welcomed to Germany with a 21 gun salute and a flypast.

In an unprecedented start to his 29th official visit, the royals were escorted by fighter jets, one of the many firsts. Adding to the sense of

history, this was the first full ceremonial welcome for a head of state here at the Brandenburg Gate since the Second World War and the first

chance for the new king to meet German fans.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The atmosphere, it was really, yes. I never experience something like that before.

FOSTER: Is it symbolic, having him here in the shadows of the Brandenburg Gate?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. I think it's -- that's a strong bond between both countries for centuries. And there were two world wars. And it's actually

great to kind of go together. There's a friendship and again.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We all know about him when he was Prince of Wales. He did a lot for the environment, which I think is a good thing. And I think

we'll have to see what will become of it when he's -- now that he's king.

FOSTER (voice-over): King Charles' focus on the environment was on the agenda as usual, with a reception focused on green energy and a tree

planting ceremony, part of the Green Canopy Initiative in memory of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II.

The king's visit and state banquet in Berlin is intended to celebrate the U.K.'s relationship with both Germany and France following the postponement

of his visit to Paris due to protests.

Buckingham Palace says Charles will use this historic trip to highlight the importance of sustainability and community, ideas integral to both nations.


FOSTER: It was interesting, Paula. Just looking up there at the French embassy, there are big crowds there looking down at King Charles as he came

here. He was meant to be in France earlier in the week, had to get it canceled because of the protests.

But that would have been his first foreign state visit. But instead, history has it that Germany will take that title instead.

NEWTON: Yes, but indeed, like you said, the schedule very important right to try and really solidify that bond with the E.U. Max, in your report, we

saw those fighter jets along the wind but -- along the wing of the airplane.

But I want to throw to your social media posts. This is how Max Foster rolls with the king. Look at this.

And there's the fighter jet.

Just as you're having tea, Max.

What is it like traveling with the king?

I know you've done a lot of royal trips but let us know.

FOSTER: Well, there's one advantage. You skip all of the security.


That is amazing. You just go straight up to the airplane and you get an escort as well from the airport down to the Brandenburg Gate. That's all

good. But you have to try to get out of it, because it's very easy to be in this bubble.

As you know, as you've traveled with high profile people, Paula, you've got to get out of the bubble and actually speak to people. Otherwise, you're

just in this bubble, being shoved from pillar to post, which is great because you can get to those events but it's important to get out as well.

I was speaking to some people, there, I always try to do that.

NEWTON: I'm curious about how much behind the scenes you get, though, with the king and the queen consort.

Do you get little, you know, pleasantries from them, small talk?

FOSTER: Well, yes. I mean, I have to say, Camilla, the queen consort, she is now, is one of the most friendly people you could meet. I would say she

is the most approachable member of the royal family. She will come up to us and have a chat.

You know, she's a very personable person. The other members of the family obviously much more formal. But one of the advantages of traveling with

them, it's a bit cheaper. So we save some costs on that.

But also you get to spend some time with him on the flight. And that is the moment when you know you have -- you really understand what they're trying

to achieve from what they're doing, because you're told by their people quite often. But it's really useful to hear it from them.

And then you can really sort of focus in on what they really do think and care about.

NEWTON: Yes, especially momentous, given this is early, obviously, in the king's reign and we have that coronation coming up in really just a few

weeks. Max Foster for us on the ground with King Charles in Berlin, really appreciate it.

And that does it for us tonight. Thanks for watching. I want you to stay with CNN. "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" is up next.