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Isa Soares Tonight

NATO's Foreign Ministers Discuss The Apparent Escalation Into Russian Territory; NATO And European Leaders Call Out Kosovo For Escalating Tensions In Its Northern Region; Serbia's President Vucic Calls For Calm Amid Unrest In Region; Race To Avert Default Disaster; Indigenous Groups Clash With Riot Police In Sao Paulo; China Defends U.S. Spy Plane Interception; NASA Holds Public Meeting On UFOs; Passengers On Sunken Boat All Tied To Intelligence Work. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired May 31, 2023 - 14:00   ET



ISA SOARES, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: A very warm welcome to the show, everyone, I'm Isa Soares. Tonight, we focus on two conflicts in Europe that

seemed to be intensifying. First, the war may be coming home to Russia as NATO's foreign ministers discuss the apparent escalation into Russian

territory, we'll explain what Ukraine is saying.

Then NATO and European leaders are calling out Kosovo for escalating tensions in its northern region. I'll speak to the Serbian president for

his response after Kosovo's leader blames fascist militia for the violence.

Well, the invasion of Ukraine could be coming home for Russia as officials there blame Kyiv for more attacks and drone strikes deep inside Russian

territory. Officials say two oil refineries in southern Russia were hit earlier today. And that is on top of alleged drone attacks on Moscow and

what's been called massive shelling in the Belgorod region.

Ukraine has largely denied a direct role or not commented at all. But raining in Kyiv or choosing not to is likely on the agenda for NATO foreign

leaders meeting in Norway. Here was the U.K.'s Foreign Secretary in Estonia on Tuesday. Have a listen.


JAMES CLEVERLY, FOREIGN SECRETARY, UNITED KINGDOM: Ukraine does have the legitimate right to defend itself. It has the legitimate right to do so

within its own borders, of course. But it does also have the right to project force beyond its borders to undermine Russia's ability to project

force into Ukraine itself.


SOARES: Well, for the very latest, let's go to CNN's Fred Pleitgen who joins me now from Kyiv. And Fred, I mean, the war coming ever so closer to

Russia as we see more strikes inside the country. You know, we've been seeing several raids in Belgorod now for several weeks now by anti-Putin

Russian nationals. So, what is Ukraine saying this time?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, first of all, you're absolutely right, Isa, that there certainly is an uptick in

those cross-border actions if you will that, it had been happening on to Russian territories. So it's not even going to the border with Russia and

Ukraine, but also across the border as well.

And I think that's something that's certainly significant especially if we look at some of the things that we've been seeing over the past 24 hours.

Now, as far as Ukrainian officials are concerned, most of them are trying to say as little as possible. They're not saying that they're behind all of

this, but they certainly aren't denying it either.

It was quite interesting because an adviser to Ukraine's presidency, he came out earlier today and he also didn't acknowledge that Ukraine was

behind some of the things that have been happening, certainly not behind that drone attack that happened on Moscow yesterday. However, he did say,

and he did believe that things like this were going to happen more often in the future.

And one of the things that he did say is that the Russians need to understand that the war is going to come to them. And that is not a process

that is going to be reversed, but more and more of that is going to happen. And I think one of the regions where you could really see that is the area

around Belgorod.

You know, we've been talking so much about it over the past couple of days, as you've been mentioning, that cross-border raid that happened last week

with those anti-Putin Russian fighters who are fighting on the side of Ukraine, going across the border there. Since then, you've had drone

attacks in that area.

And then that pretty heavy shelling that was apparently going on overnight. We were looking at the area where that was happening. It's a little village

called Shebekino, which is right near the border, but it's also very close to the town of Belgorod where the Russians have a lot of military assets.

Also, of course, they have military assets in that border area as well. So it is significant that the Russians are getting hit there, and certainly

significant also for the local population on the ground, that they are not feeling safe. And for local politicians there, that they are telling the

Kremlin, look, people here are not feeling safe.

So, this is having a big effect, not only on the folks who live there, but certainly, also as far as the Kremlin is concerned, raising concerns of

citizens inside Russia that the war could indeed be coming their way. Isa.

SOARES: And meantime, Fred, the U.S. has been clear with Ukrainians, it doesn't support attacks on Russian soil. But do we know, Fred, at this

stage whether U.S. weaponry or equipment is being used to attack Russia at all. I mean, talk to us about the risks here.


PLEITGEN: Well, certainly, they do seem to be risk. It was quite interesting because the spokesman for the National Security Council of the

U.S., John Kirby, he was on CNN earlier today. And he clearly spoke about the risks that the U.S. sees. He clearly said that the U.S. does not want

under any circumstances for this to become a wider conflict. And the U.S. certainly sees that if U.S. weapons are used, that, that could be the case.

Nevertheless, the U.S. continues to say that once it gives Ukraine weapons, those are the weapons of Ukraine, and Ukraine can use those weapons in the

way that they see fit. Of course, one of the things that we saw last week in that cross-border raid that happened by those Russian fighters fighting

on the side of Ukraine is that they appear to be using both Humvees and Max pro armored vehicles as well.

Those are weapons that were given by the United States to Ukraine. The Ukrainians of course, say they had nothing to do with that attack,

nevertheless, you had American-provided vehicles on Russian territory. So that is something that certainly is a big cause for concern, however, the

U.S. is also saying that none of this has any sort of relevance for the U.S. continuing to provide weapons to Ukraine.

They say that, that is going to continue to happen, and that the Ukrainians are going to get what they need both from the U.S. and from its allies to

be able to defend themselves against the Russians, Isa.

SOARES: Important context there from our Fred Pleitgen for us in Kyiv this evening. Thanks very much, Fred. Well, the United States says this week's

violence in Kosovo was quote, "an unnecessary crisis". Blaming the Kosovo government for escalating tensions that erupted with attacks on NATO

troops. Thirty peacekeepers were injured, if you remember, on Monday by Serbian protesters who tried to block ethnic Albanian mayors from taking

office after disputed elections.

The U.S. says Kosovo should not have deployed security forces to forcibly install these mayors in Serb-majority towns. It is suspending Kosovo from

some military exercises, and says more sanctions may follow if Kosovo's prime minister ignores calls to de-escalate. While French President

Emmanuel Macron is also laying the blame on Pristina. Have a listen to this.


EMMANUEL MACRON, PRESIDENT, FRANCE (through translator): We have very clearly indicated to Kosovo authorities that it was a mistake to proceed

with these elections in this type of context. It's an almost complete non- participation. Kosovan authorities bear responsibility, some for the current situation. And there was a non-respect of an agreement that was

important and that was signed only a couple of weeks ago.


SOARES: Well, the roots of this conflict run deep as Serbs have never recognized Kosovo's independence. I'm joined now by Scott McLean to give us

more context so we can better understand what is happening today. So, just give us and the viewers around the world context here of what has been

unfolding. Scott.

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, so it's 2008 actually that Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia. As you mentioned though, Serbia has

never officially recognized that independence. The other important thing to understand because it's eastern Europe is that so much of the problems here

come down to the ethnicity. Kosovo is more than 90 percent ethnic Albanian with some exceptions of majority Serb areas which are mostly in the north,

including these regions here.

There's a fourth one that's very small that's in this area as well. And the Serbs who live here by and large don't want to be governed by the

authorities in Pristina. And so, this has caused all kinds of problems. So much so that a decade ago, 2013, the Brussels Agreement was actually agreed

upon by Kosovo and Serbia, essentially gives these regions some level of autonomy over things like education and health.

It says that the commander of the police force in that area should be an ethnic Serb, that the force should reflect the ethnic make-up of the local

area. And Serbia and Kosovo agreed not to block each other's path through the years --

SOARES: So both agreed to this --

MCLEAN: Both agreed --

SOARES: Both sides agreed to this --

MCLEAN: The problem though, Isa, is that most of this was never actually implemented. Which brings us to what we're talking about today, which is

this most recent agreement which where Kosovo and Serbia agreed again, not implemented, but agreed to try to implement their core principles --

SOARES: With similar -- similar principles that we saw in the other agreement --

MCLEAN: Precisely, to go back to the Brussels --

SOARES: Yes --

MCLEAN: Agreement. And they did this with the express understanding that if they couldn't figure this out and couldn't implemented -- implement this,

there would be consequences from the European Union.

SOARES: So take us back to the map if you will, because this seem important given what we have seen last week because in the north part of the country

in these three areas here that you've highlighted, this is where the majority of Serbs are. Why have they been up in arms? Why are they so


MCLEAN: Yes, it's because local elections were held in these areas. Again, there's four, one of them is not on the map because it's very small, but

essentially, these local elections went ahead despite the fact that Serbs in this area by and large boycott the vote in part because the things that

Kosovo and Serbia have already agreed to in the Brussels agreement and the more recent agreement haven't actually been implemented.

And so, what they ended up with is, well, almost no Serbs actually voted. Voter turnout in total was only 3.4 percent. And we're talking about this

district in particular, the mayor there was actually elected with only 141 votes, which led to --

SOARES: So that's their mandate?


MCLEAN: Yes, it's -- obviously they have legitimacy issues which everyone seems to acknowledge, and that's why the ethnic Serbs in that area

protested, tried to prevent the mayors from actually getting into their offices. Kosovo police responded with force to make sure they could, and

everything escalated into what we saw in that video of it. On Monday, which is these clashes between NATO peacekeepers -- so there are --

SOARES: That will be brutal as well --

MCLEAN: Very brutal, you know, Serbs Molotov cocktails were thrown, incendiary devices, there were some 30 peacekeepers that were actually

injured, broken bones, burns. That kind of a thing because the Serbs in this area simply were upset, obviously, by the legitimacy of the mayors.

SOARES: We heard from Macron putting the blame on Kosovo. We've heard from also the NATO chief yesterday calling for de-escalation. Where does this --

the U.S. sit in all of this?

MCLEAN: And so, the U.S. ambassador has actually made no secret of their position. And here is what he told journalists. He said that "this was a

crisis that from our perspective was unnecessary. The operation that took place on Friday to obtain access to municipal buildings through forcible

means, he said was not coordinated with the U.S., and when we became aware of it, we advised strongly against it because we anticipated consequences

that we are now seeing."

So, essentially, the U.S. is looking for two things from Kosovo. It is looking for the mayors to work from alternate locations, not the town

halls, somewhere else --

SOARES: Which doesn't seem like that's going to happen from my interview yesterday.

MCLEAN: Correct, it also wants the withdrawal of the Kosovo police from the municipal area --

SOARES: And that also is not going to happen --

MCLEAN: Of course, not going to happen because --

SOARES: According to my interview --

MCLEAN: Exactly because despite pressure from the U.S. and the EU, as you pointed out in your interview. The Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti said

this. Watch.


ALBIN KURTI, PRIME MINISTER, KOSOVO: I'm working closely with international factors, especially with United States and European Union. We consider both

of them indispensable allies, friends and partners. And we will do our best. But I am not surrendering democratic republic to fascist militia.


MCLEAN: It was so interesting, Isa, the U.S. ambassador seemed like he was really at his wits end with the Kosovo prime minister. As you mentioned,

Kosovo is now being left out of military exercises in Romania that are actually currently taking place. So the Kosovo troops are actually having

to go home.

The ambassador also said, look, there is not a lot of enthusiasm within, you know, U.S. delegations to actually lobby or advocate on Kosovo's behalf

to try to get some of the countries that don't recognize their independence to recognize them. And he said there may be more consequences to come

depending on whether or not --

SOARES: And that is the fear. That is indeed the fear, and we've seen NATO also upping up a number of troops, 700, I believe, NATO chief Stoltenberg

announced yesterday. Scott, I appreciated it, a very --

MCLEAN: You bet --

SOARES: Important context indeed. Well, you may remember Scott was saying that we spoke with Kosovo's Prime Minister yesterday right here, roughly at

this time on the show. He told us he will not surrender Kosovo to what he called Serbian fascists. You had a little clip there, accusing Belgrade of

trying to destabilize Kosovo by stirring up violent opposition to the recent elections. Have a listen.


KURTI: The turnout was quite low because of the pressure, blackmail and threats from Belgrade to all Serbian citizens, and in particular, those who

were planning to run.

And now, we have four mayors whose legitimacy is low, but nonetheless, there is no one who is more legitimate than them. On the other hand, we are

facing not peaceful protesters, we're facing a mob of extremists. We're facing ultra-nationalist right-wingers who are being paid and ordered from

Belgrade, and who admire despotic President Putin. This is a fascist militia who attacked our policemen and NATO soldiers.


SOARES: Well, some strong accusation there from Kosovo prime minister. We want to give Serbia's president a chance to respond. Aleksandar Vucic joins

us tonight from Belgrade. Mr. President, thank you very much for taking the time to speak to us here on the show. You heard what the prime minister of

Kosovo said on my show, we played a little clip there for you calling protesters a fascist militia. Your response, sir?

ALEKSANDAR VUCIC, PRESIDENT, SERBIA: Thank you very much first of all for having me tonight. And I just wanted to say that his words, everything that

we heard, it's not just strong accusations, it's a bit of cursing there, it's also speaking more about the man that pronounced that, that was saying

that and about people. And just to make it very clear. There is -- there are just two things that are important.

Your guest was speaking about non-implementation of previous agreements. Serbs implemented everything from the first agreement leading from April



And there was only one obligation on Kosovo side, on Pristina side. And that was creation or formation of ASM, Association of Serbian

Municipalities. And they didn't deliver on that, and they didn't want to do it, and they still don't want to do it. It's a part of new arrangements as

well. And the second issue, where are those elections?

And he said it's a little legitimacy, 3.4 percent. It's a shy on elections. And my question to you is, have you ever heard of any other elections

calling them legitimate, legal, where the turnout of 3.4 percent? And he's actually naming 97 percent of the people in the north as fascist militia,

criminal gangs, ultra-nationalists, bribed people, blackmailed people. Like there is 3 percent of people that you can do that with them, but not 97

percent of people.

And what actually happened? Serbs, what do they look for? They look for security and certainty for their families, for themselves. And since Albin

Kurti came to power, we witnessed 353 attacks based on -- or ethnically- motivated. And it's the biggest number of assaults, biggest number of attacks against Serbs since 2008 when they did self-proclamation of

Kosovo's independence.

And they need to act -- just because it's --

SOARES: Mr. President --

VUCIC: You cannot refute this kind of curses, but you can -- you can -- you can do a factual -- you can do a factual side. Just --

SOARES: Yes --

VUCIC: From the beginning of this year, we faced five shootings against Serb civilians. Six, including the yesterday one.

SOARES: Let me --

VUCIC: Six --

SOARES: Mr. President, let me just -- let me just --

VUCIC: Including two kids that were shot, that were shot --

SOARES: Let me just get a question --

VUCIC: Yes --

SOARES: In here --

VUCIC: Yes --

SOARES: Because I've got quite a lot of questions that I think --

VUCIC: Of course --

SOARES: Our viewers would also want answers to, so important right now. Of course, the tensions arose because the majority like you said of Serbs in

these municipalities refuse to vote in the local election. Kosovo's prime minister told me yesterday on the show the turnout was low because of the

pressure and the blackmail from Belgrade. So, let me put this to you. Did you ask them to boycott this election?

VUCIC: No, that was their decision. But you need to know something else because that's what I -- that's why I wanted -- thank you for this

question. That's why I wanted to explain the factual side of the issue. You need to know, the Serbs before 2013 have never ever participated in Kosovo

or Pristina's organized elections. Then we agreed upon that.

Then Serbs participated four times in those elections. And there has never been any problems. Since Albin Kurti came to power, he was banning Serbs to

participate in a referendum process which was organized by Belgrade. He banned them to participate in Serbia's parliamentarian elections. But more

than that and more importantly, he did not deliver on creating Association of Serb Municipalities, which was a pre-condition for Serbs, even 10 years

ago, 11 years ago, to participate in local and parliamentarian elections --

SOARES: So given this --

VUCIC: In Pristina --

SOARES: So given this, how do we then de-escalate these tensions? How do we stop these protesters from this violence that we've seen. How do we then

de-escalate, Mr. President?

VUCIC: Once again, thanks for this opportunity to say what is our attitude. We were very dedicated in calling Serbs to stay calm and to stay tranquil.

And to do everything to stabilize the situation which was de-stabilized by Pristina's regime. And even after everything that happened two days ago,

and whiles a Serb was shot with two bullets in his back.

And still, it's not certain what's going to happen with him. And you didn't hear it anywhere. And we do regret the fact that there were some major

soldiers injured. And that's what we publicly said immediately after it happened yesterday and today.


SOARES: And you are calling --

VUCIC: We had them to face very peaceful -- we faced very peaceful protests. And there were physicians, nurses, teachers, everybody was

protesting. Were those people blackmailed by someone? No. Those people, they just want to see. Kosovo's special police forces withdrawing from

those premises that has never ever belonged to them --

SOARES: We will talk about that --

VUCIC: And those alleged --

SOARES: But let me ask you, so calling --

VUCIC: Illegitimate and illegal mayors as well.

SOARES: You're calling for calm, Mr. President.

VUCIC: Yes --

SOARES: Is that call for calm also going to those in northern municipalities? Do you have control over those protesters?

VUCIC: I don't have any kind of control. But I believe that most of those people will always show respect to the state of Serbia. And what we can do

with our international interlocutors, with our partners from European Union, United States, all the others from all over the world, is that we

need to have a stable region.

SOARES: Yes --

VUCIC: Why I'm saying this. Because Serbia -- when I say Serbia, it means 50 percent of overall western Balkans economy. It means 63 percent of

attracting foreign direct investments of an entire region. We don't need any kind of escalation. What we need is peace. That's why we propose --

SOARES: And no one wants to see --

VUCIC: An open Balkan initiative, and that's why we need --

SOARES: And no one wants to see -- of course --

VUCIC: To have freedom of movement and everything else. I'm just saying that even --

SOARES: No one wants to see, Mr. President, an escalation here, I don't think anyone is calling for an escalation. But let me just ask you this,

look, our colleague kind of broke down for us what's at the heart of this. And it's the fact that Serbia doesn't recognize Kosovo as an independent

and sovereign nation. What would it take, Mr. President, for Serbia to acknowledge Kosovo's independence?

VUCIC: It's not -- it's not any more. Even a question -- because if you notice what we were speaking about through Franco-German plan. What we were

speaking about in Elkridge(ph), it's about normalization. It's a process of normalization. That's a precondition for Serbia's future progress on its --


Path --

SOARES: Do you acknowledge Kosovo --

VUCIC: And that's the same -- that's the same for Pristina as well --

SOARES: As an independent and sovereign nation, sir?

VUCIC: I didn't hear your last question, sorry about that. I just --

SOARES: My question was, do you acknowledge Kosovo as an independent and sovereign nation?

VUCIC: We do acknowledge the United Nations Charter and U.N. resolution. And that's what we do. But we are always ready to discuss all the

compromising solutions. We have always been ready for that and we'll always do it. The real issue is why someone is trying to escalate the situation?

You mentioned let's say President Putin.

And I can tell you that I heard even in your media and many other media that Serbia under the instruction of President Putin will attack that and

that country, that and that entity. And of course, it did not happen.

SOARES: It never came out of my mouth --

VUCIC: Didn't get any apologies from any one --

SOARES: Any -- none of that has ever come out --

VUCIC: Of course, of course not --

SOARES: Of my mouth. So just to be clear --


SOARES: Let me ask you this, Mister -- let me ask you this --


SOARES: Mr. President --

VUCIC: I understand you only, most probably, yes --

SOARES: The U.S. ambassador to Kosovo had said, and I want to read out, "we have asked Prime Minister Kurti very directly to take immediate steps to

achieve a de-escalation in the north. He has not been responsive to those requests." So let me ask you this. You have put, Mr. President, the Armed

Forces on the highest level of combat readiness. What is then your red line?

VUCIC: We are very much satisfied with a recent statement made by Secretary of State Antony Blinken. We are very much -- we believe that it was very

accurate statement made by French President Emmanuel Macron. And we believe that they said the things in a way that is very substantive to everything

that is ongoing, that is happening in Pristina or in north Kosovo in particular.

Speaking about Serbia's obligations. We act 100 percent in adherence with Kumanovo Agreement, military technical agreement that we made with NATO,

with KFOR resolution 12:44. We did not enter the territory of Kosovo with one single soldier. We did not violate any international regulation. We are

very strict about it.


And we have a good -- very professional cooperation with NATO troops on the field. Yesterday, we had talks with the commanders on the field, but also

with the commander-in-chief in Minsk, in Naples. And so far, I have had thousands of discussions and conversation with Jens Stoltenberg, and I

believe that will be able to maintain that kind of a very professional collaboration and cooperation. Even today, just --


SOARES: Understood -- go ahead.

VUCIC: You had a big -- you had a big statement made by our orthodox brotherhood from very famous monastery Decani, and they were saying very

best things about Italian contingency of NATO troops which were protecting that monastery from Albanian attacks in last 15 years, even more than that,

yes, almost 25 years --

SOARES: Mr. President, very briefly because we're running out of time unfortunately, very busy hour. What is your message to those protesters in

the north of Kosovo? What are you telling them tonight?

VUCIC: I know that those people are very determined. Those people are very decisive to fight in a very peaceful way for their rights, for their basic

rights. They just want to survive on their thresholds. They just want to have their own rights to keep their names and surnames, to keep their

faith, and to live there where they used to live an entire life. And my just small advice and my plea for them is always to do it peacefully.

SOARES: Yes --

VUCIC: To do it peacefully, to do it calmly, and to keep tranquility and stability for all of us. We need to speak to Albanians. We need to create

an arrangement. The real arrangement that would be implemented in the future.

SOARES: President Vucic --

VUCIC: But on the other hand, I call -- I call on international community for a decisive action to be taken against those who are stubborn and who

are actually escalating the situation on the ground, and who are putting in jeopardy peace and stability of all of us of an entire Europe --

SOARES: Mr. Vucic --

VUCIC: I appreciate this --

SOARES: President Vucic, I appreciate you taking the time to speak to us tonight. Thank you very much, sir.

VUCIC: Thank you very much.

SOARES: Thank you. And still to come right here tonight, U.S. house lawmakers are set to vote in a critical debt ceiling bill aimed at

preventing an economic disaster. A look at what's at stake for Wall Street, main street, as well as the global economy. That is next.




SOARES: Well, on Capitol Hill, the U.S. House is set to vote on a critical debt ceiling bill aimed at averting a disastrous default. Speaker McCarthy

and his top allies are confident the bipartisan deal will pass later on today. CNN's Melanie Zanona joins us from Capitol Hill with the very


Melanie, question becomes do they have enough votes to get this across the finish line?

MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: All signs are pointing to yes at this point. Democratic leadership and Republican leadership have been working

around the clock. The number of meetings and calls to try to sell this deal and with this deal with their members.

That doesn't mean there isn't opposition. Republicans, some of them are very upset that this doesn't do enough to cut spending. They also don't

like that it extends the debt limit for two years. They wanted a decrease of one year.

Democrats are worried about the new work requirements for food stamp recipients. They also don't like the cuts on domestic spending. It is going

to come down to a coalition of members in the middle, as is usually the case with these types of big bipartisan deals.

For Kevin McCarthy, another margin he's looking out for is how many of his members do get on board. Even though he doesn't need all of his members to

support this deal, there is expected to be Democratic support, he does need a strong show of support internally in order to maintain his speakership.

And to show strength.

Privately, Republicans have been trying to secure a majority of the Republicans to vote for this privately. They're aiming for a number even

higher, 150 members. The Democrats are expected to make up the rest.

Once this passes later today, it will presumably go over to the Senate, where they are also predicting they'll have the votes for it to pass but it

could take some time over there. They need to have agreements unanimously to be able to speed things along.

They might have to give some senators some amendment votes even if they fail in order to speed things along. But they are expecting confidence

they're going to be able to get this done by the June 5th deadline.

SOARES: Let's hope so. Melanie Zanona, appreciate it, thank you very much.

Still to come tonight, Indigenous groups clashing with riot police in Brazil as they accuse the president of not making good on his campaign

promises. We'll discuss next.





SOARES: Welcome back, everyone.

In Brazil, Indigenous groups are gathering in protest of a controversial piece of legislation. They see it as a threat to them as well as the

environment. I want to show you.


SOARES (voice-over): They faced off yesterday, if you remember, against riot police on the highway in Sao Paulo. On Tuesday, Brazil's lower house

approved a bill that would limit the recognition of ancestral lands that now needs to be approved by the senate. And president Luiz Inacio Lula da

Silva, who had, if you remember, campaigned on Indigenous rights.

Brazil's minister for racial equality Anielle Franco is in the U.S. right now for events with the United Nations. She joins us now live from New


Minister, thank you very much for taking the time to speak to us here on the show. Let me start off if I, may, with those protests we saw yesterday

in Sao Paulo. Demonstrators as you saw clearly angry that lawmakers approve this legislation.

What do you say to those protesters?

ANIELLE FRANCO, BRAZILIAN MINISTER OF RACIAL EQUALITY: Yes, thanks, first of all thank you for being here as well. And President Lula and the

government are really to the best for those people in general. That's why he raised structure and create the ministry of racial equality and also the

Indigenous people.

But it's different saying that our congress is a very conservative congress right now. And we are totally against any type of violence. But at the same

time, we have been working a lot toward federal government so to those people to have their territory legalized (INAUDIBLE).

So unfortunately, violence happening yesterday, like you just said. But we are working toward those people to have their place safely in dignity.

SOARES: Let's talk about the legislation. When president Lula returned to power in January, there was a renewed optimism regarding environmental

protection and respect for Indigenous rights.

What message does this legislation send?

FRANCO: This legislation sent a message that we must continue to work for those people, specifically (INAUDIBLE) the minister (INAUDIBLE), who is an

Indigenous woman and who had been working very closely also together with (INAUDIBLE) da Silva and president Lula and the whole government.

We'll not stop here even though we know congress approved that. But now we (INAUDIBLE) with senators. And we're going to still working in our ministry

and others to have a better place and dignity for these people.

SOARES: So the fight then continues.

Did this perhaps speaks to a divided country, a division that was felt strongly and I think it's fair to say during the Bolsonaro years, where we

saw a rise in extremism, in xenophobia.

Can Brazil come back from this deepened division?

FRANCO: Yes, I hope so. Just like you said, we are leading 60 years of non government, I would say. When the ex president used not to be doing public

policies to Black people, to the Black community, to Indigenous people.

Now we do have a president who is very human and is very concerned with those people, the Black people and (INAUDIBLE) working very hard to have

better days for our country and our population in general.

SOARES: Now that I have you here, I want to ask you about a pretty ugly incident that happened here in Europe. That is the racist abuse that was

directed at the Real Madrid as well as Brazilian national Vinicius Jr.

When you hear what happened to him, in Europe on numerous occasions, may I add, how do you respond?

FRANCO: We went to (INAUDIBLE) twice. And we were talking to the minister there, the prime minister, the minister of equality to have a law against

racism. We immediately, the same day, we answered that we're going to take care of our Brazilian people in every place of the world.

And we are following other complaints against La Liga and everything and everybody who is involved in that and we're not going to be -- you know,

not going to stop --


FRANCO: -- until have a good answer to -- against racism and to take care of (INAUDIBLE).

SOARES: And it's not just La Liga. It's La Liga, it's FIFA, other leagues.

Do you think they're doing enough to rule out racism?

FRANCO: Exactly. No, but we are on the way because since February, we have been working with our minister of sports toward a program, a national

program against racism in sports. And we are going to be launching this soon.

And this unfortunately this case of Vinicius Jr. is one example of what everything we were seeing. And what we saw in that stadium was not

acceptable. Like 500,000 people yelling against a boy who's only 22 years old, because of his skin color.

So that's why it's so important to have in this government public policies to combat this and to assure that no one goes toward what (INAUDIBLE).

SOARES: Let's talk about policy then. Brazil has, for over a decade, implemented affirmative action for university admissions as well as

government positions. But one of the biggest obstacles for people of color is that historical, generational lack of wealth.

How do you fix that?

FRANCO: With publication (ph), with a serious public policies, with concrete actions, we've being working a lot to reforest and to strengthen

affirmative actions in Brazil. We just now relaunched a paper (ph) which is this agreement between United States and Brazil.

We know we have a lot to do. We know we still have a lot to advance. But this is the way and this is the pathway, I would say, a complete way to

make things work. And that's why it's so important for us to be here in New York right now, speaking at the U.N. convention for -- after this kind of


And we're going to continue to work. We only have five months of government but we will do our, job our work to have let people with dignity life.

SOARES: Anielle Franco, really appreciate you taking the time to speak to us from New York. Thanks, great to see you.

Still to come tonight, China's military weighing in after one of its fighter jets cut in front of an American spyplane. We'll have that story





SOARES: Tensions are rising again in the South China Sea, as China defends one of its fighter jets after it intercepted an American spyplane. The U.S.

military says the move was unnecessarily aggressive. Oren Liebermann joins us now from the Pentagon with much more.

The fear is that this confrontation could lead to escalation between both sides.

What is the U.S. saying occurred here?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Isa, the U.S. sees this as part of a pattern of aggressive behavior from Chinese military aircraft

over the South China Sea.


LIEBERMANN: They say this took place in international airspace over the South China Sea on Friday. That's when a U.S. RC-135 Rivet Joint, a type of

friendly large reconnaissance aircraft, was flying what the U.S. says was international airspace when a Chinese fighter jet comes in from the right

side, draws fairly close and then slices in front of the U.S. aircraft, forcing the larger, heavier U.S. jet to fly through the wake turbulence of

that Chinese fighter jet.

You see some shaking in the cockpit as the fighter jet disturbed the air in front of the U.S. aircraft. We've seen similar incidents and encounters

between China and the U.S. before. There was another incident just like this back in December, a different kind of Chinese fighter jet, the same

type of U.S. aircraft, over the same area.

China views much of the South China Sea as its own territorial waters, a position U.S. doesn't accept. And that's the basis for some of the friction

here. The U.S. trying to cut through this and said it will raise this up through the proper diplomatic and military channels.

That's unclear that that will change how China views. It and China believes it has the right to intercept aircraft like this. It rejects the notion of

this with some sort of aggressive intercept here. So this difficult situation could certainly lead to unintended danger and we can expect to

see more of this.

SOARES: China has responded to this. This is what it has to say, take a listen.


MAO NING, SPOKESPERSON, CHINESE FOREIGN MINISTRY (through translator): I want to point out that the U.S. has been repeatedly sending warships and

military aircraft to conduct close-in reconnaissance on China for a long time which seriously jeopardizes China's national sovereignty and security.

Such provocative and dangerous actions are the root cause of maritime security problems.


SOARES: So both sides are trading blame.

Where are, we then?

Where are we on open lines of communication?

Because the tensions do not seem to be escalating on both sides.

LIEBERMANN: Not at all. There are some open lines of communication. For example, at the Defense attache level. But at the higher levels, Defense

Secretary and that level, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs in the U.S. and his Chinese counterpart, there isn't that level of communication.

It's critical because those are the most important players. For example, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is in the Indo-Pacific region right now and

will be attending the Shangri-La dialogue in Singapore.

The Chinese counterpart, minister of national defense, Li Shangfu, will also be there. The U.S. had tried to set up a meeting but Chinese rejected

that, saying that Li has been under U.S. sanctions since 2018 because of arms dealing with Russia.

China wants the sanctions lifted in advance of this meeting in the U.S. They say that we can still have this meeting even with sanctions. But that

gets at the tension in the relationship here and the difficulty of trying to make any breakthrough when it comes to any sort of meeting or critical


President Biden said in mid May that he believes he will eventually meet Chinese president Xi Jinping.

But it will be worth asking under what conditions?

SOARES: Oren Liebermann, thanks very much.

Still to come tonight, what are those mysterious objects flying in the sky?

NASA is holding a hearing to find out. We'll have a live report next.





SOARES: Today, NASA is holding a public meeting about mysterious flying aircraft. You might think of them as UFOs. CNN's Tom Foreman is following

from Washington, D.C.

What can you tell us about this hearing?

This is something that always fascinates our viewers, by the way.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It does. The chief part here is the unidentified part. That hasn't changed. Essentially, this is NASA getting

on board with what the U.S. military and the intelligence community did in recent years, which was quite a change.

For many years, the government denied anything was out there. They just brushed aside all these public sightings and claims. Gradually, they came

around to say, no, there is something we don't understand. And we'd like to know more about it.

Today it was NASA saying, we are looking at these videos. We are trying to collect data. And what we want to do is come up with a scientific approach

to this.

The idea is, you don't want to just a bunch of sketchy videos shot by airplanes or people with iPhones out camping. You actually need to compile

data, get real, scientific research into what people saw, where they saw it, the precise location, the time of day, what it might have been and to

then build a case out of.

That's what they're working. A few videos today of examples that they have out there, where they said look, look at this. You see the little dots, the

bright dots that seem to be moving to the side there. There is one in the middle, you see three of them in a row there.

This was an example where they said this was seen by an aircraft and they said this has to be something strange. Look at the stars in the background

and look at these three dots moving. That must be some kind of UFO. They're trying to catch up to it. They could not catch up to it.

But upon much closer examination, they determined they couldn't catch it because it was 40 miles away. These were three aircraft on a normal flight

pattern, commercial aircraft, and the movement was the movement of the plane taking the pictures, not of the aircraft.

What they're trying to do is a systematic way to analyze this. If it really is something unusual, they will know it and they won't confuse it with

things that are usual or a little uncommon but fully explainable.

SOARES: A scientific approach. That's going to take a while. A lot of questions, we appreciate it. Thank you very much.

FOREMAN: You're very welcome.

SOARES: Now the sinking of a tourist charter boat in Italy has taken a surprising twist that we have been following. It turns out that all the

passengers on the boat hit by a waterspout were connected to intelligence and defense communities. Barbie Nadeau has the story.


BARBIE NADEAU, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A peaceful day on a picturesque Italian lake turns deadly. A deadly accident turns mysterious.

Four people were killed, including two Italian intelligence officers and a retired Israeli defense official, when a chartered houseboat sank in a

storm on a lake Monday.

The captain said a waterspout appeared in a sudden storm. The Italian captain's Russian girlfriend also died. The boat was listed on a boat

chartering website for 2,000 euros a day, with an advertised maximum capacity of 15 passengers.

But on the fatal Sunday, there were 21 passengers plus two crew members on board. All passengers in some way tied to Italian-Israeli intelligence

work. The survivors say they were celebrating a birthday.

Two Italians were active Secret Service agents, the Italian government confirmed. The Israeli citizen was retired. Israel's prime minister's

office called him a dear friend to the country's security forces. The Italian prosecutor said passengers are not under investigation and would

not comment on what they were doing on the boat.


NADEAU (voice-over): The captain is under investigation for culpable manslaughter. Efforts to salvage the boat are being closely watched by

Italian security officials and should provide some clues as to the mysterious Sunday outing turned deadly -- Barbie Latza Nadeau, CNN, Rome.


SOARES: I still have so many questions about that story. We'll stay on top of it of course.

And finally tonight, these breathtaking images. Travel site Capture the Atlas has published their annual Milky Way Photographer of the Year short

list. And these are just some of the winning photographs taken from the countries right around the world.

They are announced at this time of year because the Milky Way is usually most visible in the months of May and June. We want to leave you with one

of our favorite images, it was taken by photographer Uros Fink with the title, "Shapes of Nature."

We thought that was a fitting quote to end the show tonight. A stunning image, too.

That does it for us this evening. Thank you very much for your company. Do stay right here, I'll be anchoring "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS."