Return to Transcripts main page

Isa Soares Tonight

Prigozhin Reportedly Settles in Belarus; Palestinian-American Who Witnessed Settler Violence at the West Bank Speaks to CNN; CNN Obtains Audio of Trump Discussing Classified Documents; Rise in Violence in Occupied West Bank; Russian Missile Attack Hits Kramatorsk; Russia Drops Rebellion Charges against Wagner; Texas Heat Wave; Tom Cruise's Latest "Impossible" Stunt. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired June 27, 2023 - 14:00   ET



ISA SOARES, HOST, ISA SOARES TONIGHT: A very warm welcome to the show everyone, I'm Isa Soares. Tonight, Putin is in power, and Prigozhin is

reportedly in Belarus. After a long expletive-laden conversation with that country's president, what's next for all the key players?

And U.S. lawmaker on a visit to the West Bank witnesses Israeli settler violence. He will share his story with me this very hour. Plus, will play

the tape. CNN has a recording of Donald Trump talking about the classified documents. All of that in just a moment.

But first, I want to bring you the very latest from the war in Ukraine. We are getting word of a brutal attack that could be deadly, and is on a

civilian location. Reminder that whatever is happening, of course, in the Kremlin, and in Russia, Ukrainians of course, continue to suffer at the

hands of Putin's brutality.

I want to get straight to our reporters, Nick Paton Walsh who is standing by in Kyiv, Nic Robertson is with me here in London. Nick Paton Walsh, to

you first in Kyiv. Give us a sense of what you're hearing following this two-missile strike in Kramatorsk.

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: Yes, at this stage, the focus is on what appears to have been a pizza restaurant in the center

of Kramatorsk, a town often frequented by the military. They all apparently were often seen at this restaurant, as were many locals too. It's unclear,

precisely, how busy that restaurant or the shops nearby were when this was indeed struck.

And I should stress, you know, Kramatorsk regularly hit by Russian heavy weaponry, they're notoriously inaccurate. They sometimes appear to be

aiming for something, but miss. It's unclear if this strike was the result of accuracy or just yet more Russian blundering. But there do appear to

have been possibly some casualties here, emergency services working hard at the scene to move through the rubble.

Local official posting on Facebook simply the word, "tragedy". And so obviously, as they work through the rubble there as fast as they can to try

and retrieve injured or possibly, sadly even, dead. It's another stark reminder of the civilian toll of Russia's invasion. It's persistent

barbarity, away from the high level dramas in Moscow over --

SOARES: Yes --

WALSH: The weekend. And possibly also too, as we see continued pressure by Ukrainian forces on Bakhmut, just down the road, often we've seen Russia

lash out at civilian targets when it's losing on the frontlines. Isa?

SOARES: Stay with us, Nick. I've got Nic Robertson with me here. Nic, this reminds me of what we heard roughly yesterday from John Kirby, that said,

whatever happened in Russia, doesn't change the facts on the ground, the war is still going on. You know Kramatorsk, you've been to that restaurant.

It would have been what, 7:30 local there?

What is the sense that you're getting in terms of, obviously, we don't know casualties at this moment, how do you -- put this in perspective for us,

given everything that we've seen in the past kind of 36 hours?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: It was big. It was popular. It was popular with local civilians, and it was popular with off-

duty military. Imagine Kramatorsk, a town that's pretty close to the frontlines, and you've got a lot of soldiers around on the frontlines and

they're sitting in trenches and bunkers, eating rations and not having, you know, not having a very good time of it.

They get a day or two days off behind lines, and if it's in Kramatorsk, this is a place they'll likely show up to go and get a decent meal, a good

salad, fresh food, a drink. There's a big bar at the back. This is a place that could fit, maybe 100, maybe more than a 100 people. And it would be

busy earlier in the day, there's usually a curfew in the evening, so it will start to empty out later in the evening, and maybe 8 O'clock or so,

that sort of time.

So this time of day, it could have been -- it could have been quite busy with potentially a lot of off-duty soldiers there. So it looks like it

might have been targeted. We do know that the Russians and certainly Ukrainian Intelligence know this, that the Russians intentionally target

specific buildings in Kramatorsk.

We have very hard and firm knowledge of that. So this is the sort of building that potentially could have been a target for the Russians. We

don't know --

SOARES: I'm just looking at this footage, is it -- I'm guessing this is recent footage we're looking here. This is Kramatorsk, this is -- just tell

me that or this is what we have now. This is from the Kramatorsk city center, it's the only thing we have from right now. But just put -- to your

point, just how busy, that's -- you know, how packed that city center is.

Of course, this is just -- happened in the last 20 minutes or so. So we'll trying to get more information.


But two missiles hitting the city of Kramatorsk, one of the restaurants that you're saying you've attended before, Nic. Put this in perspective for

our audience, because in the past two, three days, we've been talking, of course, about this insurrection by Prigozhin and his troops. You know, the

thinking and the questions have been asked about where -- can Ukraine -- how can Ukraine leverage from this unity that we've seen. Is Ukraine making

any gains? Has it made any gains given what's unfolding with Putin?

ROBERTSON: They are saying they're making small gains in many places, but they are small gains. They are incremental. They don't really seem to be

able to leverage directly what's happened over the weekend in Russia. I think it certainly gives a reason to boost morale a little bit, and

Ukrainians do need that. They're on -- this is a very heavy war.

So this will be a glimmer of light that Russia is -- will be, in their view, cracking. But at the frontline itself, the fight is still very

intense, and there doesn't seem to have been any slow through -- slow up of a flow-through of ammunition and et cetera, to the frontlines on the

Russian side.

SOARES: And just to clarify what I said, I said two missiles, one did hit Kramatorsk city center, the other was much broader in terms of the region,

so clarification there. Nic, I appreciate it, thank you very much. Well, as we mentioned, there is new fallout from the rebellion inside Russia.

Yevgeny Prigozhin, the leader of the Wagner Mercenary Group has now arrived in Belarus.

That is according to Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko. It's part of a deal he helped negotiate between Prigozhin and the Russian president on

Saturday, as Wagner fighters were marching, of course, towards Moscow. He also says he's ready to accommodate the mercenary group accused of

committing war crimes in Ukraine and elsewhere on his soil.

Prigozhin was last seen in Russia on Saturday night, after ordering his men to stand down. And Vladimir Putin, for his part, is trying to reassert his

authority in front of a group of Russian security personnel at the Kremlin. Have a listen.


VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT, RUSSIA (through translator): Real defenders of the motherland, who took part in fighting as comrades against this chaos,

results of which, inevitably, would have been chaos. You saved our people, our homeland, virtually, you stopped a civil war. In actual fact, you

stopped a civil war.


SOARES: Well, let's bring in someone who knows the ins and the outs of course, of the Kremlin. Sergei Markov used to be an adviser to President

Vladimir Putin, and represented the United Russia Party in the state Duma. Sergei, thank you very much for joining us here on the show. We've now

heard and we played a little clip there from President Putin several times in the last 24 hours.

I think it's fair to say, he was trying to convey a sense of normalcy, trying to display stability. So is everything hunky-dory now? What is your

assessment, Sergei.

SERGEI MARKOV, DIRECTOR, INSTITUTE OF POLITICAL STUDIES IN MOSCOW: Yes, everybody knows that main -- Vladimir Putin bring to Russia, to Russian

people is stability. But now, of course, the stability is under question. Because stability and military push is something in contradiction. That's

why I think Vladimir Putin could have now some kind of existential crisis.

And at the same time, I heard a lot from international observers that Vladimir Putin now decrease his support from Russian people. It's not true.

On contrary, I would say, because people see Yevgeny Prigozhin not as a politician, but also as a horseman of upper class or some kind of indicator

of chaos, that's why support of Vladimir Putin even increased among the people.

But at the same time, people believe, paradoxically, that country probably is going to the wrong direction, because military push is something, what

should not happen. So, as a result, we can see now, Russian authorities will have to receive their previous years, and maybe to change its

political course, including a war on Ukraine.

SOARES: And, like you say, you mean, you say the stability is under question, and that Putin is facing an existential crisis. For many people,

what we have seen, and although this rebellion was short-lived, it did lay bare the cracks to Putin's authority. He no longer looks infallible. I

think that's a fair point. So how -- just how damaging at home has this been for Putin in your view?


MARKOV: As to the support of the people, this push didn't damage Putin at all. On contrary, this push support Vladimir Putin from the population

because they see him as some force which can stop the chaos and anarchy. But of course, as it would show that Russian government in some kind of

dysfunction situation.

And the Russian government should change something sufficiently, not to allow such approach(ph) happen again.

SOARES: Right --

MARKOV: So it means -- it means that probably Vladimir Putin has a mandate with radical change. But the question is that he wants to have radical

change if he -- around the country almost 25 years.

SOARES: Right, so you don't think that it's affected Putin, but probably, the system itself. So what does Putin need to do now, Sergei, because it's

clear that is a crisis averted, but not a crisis resolved. So, is there a fear in your view that this could happen again? How real is that?

MARKOV: I think it's quite realistic because this military approach has risen not only in psychology of Yevgeny Prigozhin, in psychology as well.

Yevgeny Prigozhin, personally, he's very erratic and tough and unpredictable guy. But nevertheless, social and economic or political

situations also create foundations, and the reasons for such kind of push, which possibly could be repeated. Again, I don't think that any approach

will be successful, but --

SOARES: Yes --

MARKOV: It can destabilize situation. Russia appears to be in two wars right now. First war is on Ukraine -- in Ukraine, it gives part of the

Russian people as really a civil war. And another war is war against 52 countries led by the United States and European Union. In fact, it's a

couple of human minds. So it's a very difficult situation, and the Russian authorities will have to think how they should come out from this difficult


SOARES: Right, I don't know if you've heard, Sergei, that in the last 20 minutes or so, we had some breaking news here on CNN. We now know that a

missile has hit Kramatorsk city center, very busy, we had some footage earlier of a very busy city center. Your reaction, of course, as we

continue to see Putin's brutality play out against civilians across Ukraine?

MARKOV: Well, it is -- maybe, you will fully disagree with me, but I've been in Kramatorsk a few times. Kramatorsk is 100 percent Russian city.

People here in Kramatorsk, one of the most pro-Russian people than people in Donbas. They want to turn a referendum for joining with Russia, with

majority of -- something about 95 percent.

So they are our people. I -- more believe that Volodymyr Zelenskyy gave the order to kill these people in Kramatorsk. How he already made this one-year

war on Kramatorsk railway station before they blame Russia about this. For us, people in Kramatorsk are Russians. For Zelenskyy people in Kramatorsk,

Russians as well.

SOARES: You are quite right, I am going to disagree with you, Sergei, because you know, as we know very well, Kramatorsk is not Russian, it is

Ukrainian. And are you saying that the Ukrainian president would strike his own people? Is that what you're saying?

MARKOV: Exactly, it's what I'm saying. For the -- we know that Zelenskyy has explored Kharkov atomic - Kharkov hydro power station, that Zelenskyy

gives order to shell Zaporizhzhia atomic power station during the year. The year, every day, Zelenskyy shelling the Zaporizhzhia atomic power station,

which have been part of Ukraine.

And we know that Zelenskyy gives order to the neo-Nazi group of Azov to use Romanians(ph) as human shield during the fighting.

SOARES: With all due respect, Mr. Markov, with all due respect, there is no evidence of that, there is no evidence of that. But I'm glad I got your

view --

MARKOV: No, there are a lot of evidence --

SOARES: Your assessment of what exactly is happening. I appreciate you taking the time to speak to us, there's important developments as we've

heard, missile strikes hitting the Ukrainian city of Kramatorsk. Sir, thank you very much for joining us, really appreciate it.


Now, we're also learning more about today, about what the United States knew about the mutiny in advance and what it did with that information.

Sources telling CNN U.S. Intelligence officials gathered an extremely detailed picture about Prigozhin's plans including where and how his troops

would advance.

They kept this information so secret it was showed only with a few select allies and not at the broader NATO level. Helping explain why some senior

western officials were caught off-guard. CNN's Natasha Bertrand has been working her sources on this story and joins me now from the Pentagon. So

Natasha, do we know then why the United States decided to share -- decided not to share this information more widely?

NATASHA BERTRAND, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Isa, so what we're told is that it would have compromised very sensitive sources and methods. And

apparently, the Intelligence was so sensitive, and it came from such a sensitive source that they felt that they simply could not share it outside

of a very small group of U.S. officials, certain members of Congress, as well as very senior British officials.

And some NATO officials expressed frustration to us about that. They of course, wished that they had known a little bit sooner what the U.S. had

been able to pick up, which was extremely accurate we're told. We're told that the picture that U.S. Intelligence officials were able to glean and to

put together of Prigozhin's plans included where he was planning to strike and how, and who he was planning to challenge Russia's military


So U.S. Intelligence agencies had a very good understanding of what Prigozhin was planning to do, but they kept that mostly secret from allies.

Now, of course, when this all went down on Friday and into Saturday morning, they did end up reading the allies into what they knew and to what

they expected Prigozhin to be doing.

Because of course, they all had to get on the same page about how to respond. The U.S. advised everyone to essentially keep quiet about the

situation so that they wouldn't give Vladimir Putin any kind of fodder to be able to say that the West had intervened or had planned or provoked this

kind of insurrection.

But ultimately, this was being described to us as something that U.S. officials deem a success, in terms of their Intelligence apparatus and

their ability to pick up on Prigozhin's plans, Isa.

SOARES: How early did they know this, Natasha, how soon did they know this before this actually unfolded, this insurrection?

BERTRAND: So we're told that this Intelligence was refined within the last two weeks. Because it became very clear that Prigozhin was planning to move

forward with something very dramatic after June 10th, which is when the Russian Ministry of Defense issued that notice to private military

companies, including Wagner Group, that they would be absorbed into the Russian Ministry of Defense.

And that was really the last straw for Prigozhin. So while the temperature had been building between Wagner troops and Russian Ministry of Defense

leaders, that was the point, that was kind of the tipping point where Prigozhin decided we're going to go in and we're going to mount a very

serious challenge to Russia's defense leaders, and that is the moment when U.S. Intelligence officials began picking up the information about the

plot, Isa.

SOARES: Natasha Bertrand for us at the Pentagon this evening, thanks very much, Natasha. And still to come tonight, CNN has the tape. Former

President Trump gloating about classified documents he took from the White House. Listen to him in his own words, next.



SOARES: Former U.S. President Donald Trump is back on the campaign trail today just after CNN obtained audio that undercuts his claims that he did

not keep classified documents after leaving the White House. On the recording from a 2021 meeting at Trump's golf club in New Jersey, you can

hear him discussing highly secret documents, and then he says he knows he has not declassified them. Have a listen to this.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Isn't it amazing? I have a big pile of papers, this thing just came up, look, this was him, he

presented me this -- this is off the record. But they presented me this. This was him. This was the Defense Department and him. We looked at them,

this was him, this wasn't done by me, this was him.

All sorts of stuff, pages long -- wait a minute --


TRUMP: Let's see here --




TRUMP: I just felt -- isn't that amazing? It just totally wins my case, you know. Except it is very highly confidential --



TRUMP: A secret. So as president, I cannot declassify it --


TRUMP: Now, I can't, you know, but this is Isn't --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, probably after you --

TRUMP: Is that interesting? It's so cool. It's so -- look, we heard Ivan(ph), and you probably almost didn't believe me, but now you believe


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, I believed you --

TRUMP: It's incredible, right?



TRUMP: Hey, bring some -- bring some cokes in, please.


SOARES: Wow, joining us now to break down the audiotape is CNN national security reporter Jeremy Herb. And Jeremy, just give us some context here.

Who was he talking to? Who was laughing in that audiotape? And why is this potentially such a powerful piece of evidence?

JEREMY HERB, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER: Yes, you know, Isa, this is so fascinating, because we're really hearing for the first time Donald

Trump in his own words, having this conversation. Now, to set the scene, this happened in Bedminster, his New Jersey resort in 2021. And with him

were two of his aides, and biographers for his former White House Chief of Staff, Mark Meadows.

So, it was a very friendly conversation they were having, and one of the things that really is striking about that tape is just how casual it is.

You know, you hear them laughing as they're talking about this classified information. So what happened here was the president was complaining about

Mark Milley, his former general, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs.

Because there had been an article suggesting that General Milley had to try to stop him from potentially launching a military strike on Iran. And so,

what the president appears to be doing here is going through papers, and having a document to show that in fact -- he's arguing it was Milley who

had these plans and not him. But at the same time, what he is doing, and the reason this is such a powerful piece of evidence for the special

counsel is, he's acknowledging that this document that he appears to be showing is classified, and that he had not declassified it.

Now, what the president has said since this came out in the indictment, and a lot of this transcript was in the indictment. He's argued that these were

just newspaper clippings and articles. But what we learned in this new audio is, there was actually additional detail where Trump says these are

the papers. He and again suggests that in fact, he did have classified documents in front of him.

What we don't know yet is whether that document is one of the documents that has been obtained by the special counsel, and is in the indictment

we're going to see more further details about if this case goes to trial. Isa?

SOARES: So given everything you've just laid out here, Jeremy, how do you see this case taking shape here, given what we have in the audio, et


HERB: Yes, you know, this seems like it's going to be a key piece of evidence for the special counsel. We don't -- the trial is still months

away, there are still going to be a lot of procedural things fought over how classified information is dealt with in the trial, and other sorts of

issues. And we don't know for certain that this tape is going to be one of the --

SOARES: Yes --

HERB: Pieces of evidence that's played at trial. But again, this is the president in his own words. It's hard for him to deny what is on this tape.

SOARES: Indeed, Jeremy Herb, great to have you, thanks very much, Jeremy. And still to come tonight, a firsthand account of the recent settler

rampage that we've seen in the West Bank. We'll talk with a U.S. lawmaker who was visiting with his family, and said he feared for their lives. That

interview is just ahead.



SOARES: If you're just joining us, let me bring you up-to-date with breaking news from eastern Ukraine that we had in the last half hour or so.

Local officials say a missile strike has hit the busy city center of Kramatorsk. An eyewitness says people are being pulled from the rubble

there. A second missile is reported to have struck a village in the region.

So, we have two missiles, one has hit Kramatorsk city center, the other one in the region. Our Ben Wedeman has made it to the city, we'll go live to

him as soon as we can. We'll stay on top of course of this breaking news out of eastern Ukraine. Well, the U.S. government meantime is under

pressure to do more to help prevent settler violence in the West Bank.

After a town with a large population of Palestinian-Americans recently came under attack. Turmus Ayya was one of the villages stormed by armed settlers

who went on a rampage after deadly attack on Israelis. The settlers burned homes and cars, terrorizing families, you can see there. One Palestinian

married to American citizen was shot and killed.

The mayor says at least 12 other people were injured by gunfire. An IDF spokesman acknowledges the army failed to prevent the settler violence.

Israel security agencies have condemned it as nationalist terrorism. Well, our next guest was visiting Turmus Ayya with his family when the settlers

attacked. He says he didn't know if they were going to die.

Abdelnasser Rashid is a lawmaker from the U.S. state of Illinois, he joins us now live from Turmus Ayya. Mr. Rashid, thank you very much for taking

the time to speak to us this evening. I'm keen, first of all, to get a better sense of what you and your family witnessed in that settler attacks.

Just tell us first what you saw.

ABDELNASSER RASHID, ILLINOIS STATE REPRESENTATIVE: Thank you. So I am visiting the village of Turmus Ayya where I lived for six years as a child.

I came here less than two weeks ago with my wife and our three kids to visit family and friends. And on Wednesday, I get a frantic call from my

mom, saying settlers are attacking the village. I was in a nearby -- in the - nearby city of Ramallah at the time and felt incredibly guilty that I

couldn't be here to help my parents.


We got tons of videos, showing cars on fire, homes being torched and people being attacked.

I immediately started calling the State Department and other federal officials. The next day, on Thursday, I was back in the village. And I get

a text message that -- I can't describe how my heart dropped when I saw it.

They said the settlers were back and this time they were in my neighborhood. I immediately started hearing people running outside and


One man came to each of the houses and said, "Flee your homes."

And as we were getting ready to actually leave the house, the gunshots started and they got closer and closer to my house. We went back inside. I

asked for my family members, my kids, my nephews and nieces to come in.

We barricaded doors, we bolted -- we closed windows and started making a safety plan. And it was in that moment that we really did not know whether

we were going to live or die.


And was there anyone there to protect you?

Were there any signs of IDF in the area?

RASHID (PH): No. On Wednesday, the Israeli military didn't come in until well into the attack. And we learned a few days after the attack that the

Israeli settlers had actually advertised their attacks publicly. But the Israeli military did nothing to intervene.

SOARES: And you said you were there with your family. You've got young children. I think your children are roughly the same age as mine, 5 and 7.

How do you explain this to your young children?

What has occurred, what you saw, what you witnessed and they witnessed too, clearly.

RASHID (PH): It's really heart wrenching. My 7-year-old daughter clung on to me and said, "Dad, what do we do if we get shot?"

And I had to have the conversation with my kids that every Palestinian parent has, to explain to them that the Israeli government does not believe

that we deserve equal rights, that the Israeli government thinks that we can be hurt or even killed without accountability or consequences. So we

have to be especially careful.

SOARES: And clearly, what we know and have laid out before coming to you is that what we've seen, the settlers, were avenging the deaths of Israelis

killed by Palestinians in a nearby settlement.

And what is clear, and as we've been reporting here on the show throughout, is that tensions are rising.

How then do we bring down these tensions and stop this cycle of violence?

RASHID (PH): Look, even before the settlers were attacked, settlers were killed, there was an Israeli invasion of Jenin that killed seven

Palestinians before the attack on the Israeli settlers.

And the United States really needs to ask itself, the United States government, how can we remove obstacles to peace and barriers to peace?

And giving Israel $4 billion in military aid every single year, that's not a solution for peace, that doesn't help advance the cause of peace.

SOARES: In the short term, you are a lawmaker.

What do you want to hear from your government in the short term?

What do you want to see from this administration?

RASHID (PH): Well, we need immediate accountability for the state of Israel. We need to see the Leahy law applied, that says that American

support, American aid to Israel cannot be used to conduct -- to aggravate human rights and to abuse human rights.

We need to make sure that the American government is insisting that the state of Israel and its occupation abide by international law.

SOARES: Let me ask you this.

Given everything we have seen in the last year or so, is U.S. diplomacy failing, in your view?


RASHID (PH): I'm sorry, could you repeat the question?

SOARES: Are you still with me?


My question to you is, given everything we have seen or have not seen from the United States, is U.S. diplomacy failing, in your view?

RASHID (PH): U.S. diplomacy is absolutely failing and I believe that the U.S. government has not gathered the courage or the moral compass to do the

right thing and ask Israel to abide by international law, to respect Palestinian human rights.

Look, Palestinians want what everyone else wants. We want freedom, we want to be able to go to work. We want to be able to have our kids play outside,

without fearing for their lives.

SOARES: Yes. It's not much to ask, is, it when you ask for safety, like you said.


SOARES: Look, I want to ask you a final question, if we've got time. And that is, the Israeli government -- we've reported on this in the last few

days. The Israeli government said it expects the country to join the U.S. visa waiver program by October.

But a U.S. embassy spokesman is telling CNN that Israel has, quote, "significant work ahead" if it's to fulfill the requirements. And the

sticking point seems to be the ability of Palestinian Americans to travel in and to and through Israel, to occupied areas.

Has this been a concern?

How real of a concern is this for you?

And what you've experienced.

RASHID (PH): Look, the Israeli government is not to be trusted to enforce any kind of rules of this program. They have flouted all rules of

international law. They have committed human rights violation at will.

And in fact, the Israeli minister of security, Itamar Ben-Gvir, is actively calling on settlers to take up arms against Palestinians. This is not a

government to be trusted.

SOARES: And of course, you are there on holiday with your family. Very quickly, you are leaving, I'm guessing, after your holiday. Of course, your

concern, your fears will continue as you go back home. I'm guessing some of your family is going to stay there. In the meantime, you will be incredibly

fearful for their life and their safety.

Your thoughts?

RASHID (PH): That's right. My vacation will come to an end, our visit will end and we will be back in Chicago. And the reality is, thousands of

Palestinians in my village will still be here. And millions of Palestinians across the region will continue suffering from the daily violence and

trauma of the Israeli military occupation.

SOARES: Abdul Nasser Rashid (ph), really appreciate it. Thank you very much, sir.

RASHID (PH): Thank you. Thank you for having me.

SOARES: And still to come tonight, more from Kramatorsk, Ukraine. The site of a strike on civilians that happened just moments ago. CNN's made it to

Kramatorsk and we'll take you there after this very short break. Do stay right here for that breaking news.




SOARES: If you're just joining, us let me bring up to date. Breaking news from Eastern Ukraine. Local officials say a missile strike has hit the busy

city center of Kramatorsk. These are some of the pictures we're getting in.


SOARES: Search and rescue operations are underway and we're now learning there are casualties. We are waiting to connect with our correspondent, Ben

Wedeman, who is in Kramatorsk. But let me tell you what we are seeing.

These are the images, you can see it was roughly 7:30 at that time. It would've been very busy, dinnertime, our Nic Robertson saying to -- telling

us that he knows the area well. The (INAUDIBLE) would have been packed, it is a city that -- you often see a lot of Ukrainian military.

But what we are hearing is that two people have been killed by Russian strikes in the Kramatorsk region. The Ukrainian minister of internal

affairs is basically saying in the last few minutes that Russia deliberately targeted crowded areas; 22 people injured and that includes

one child.

What we know in terms of damages and you can see a catering business apparently, several private houses, also damaged. An eyewitness telling CNN

that up to a dozen people have been pulled from the rubble.

It is not clear at this stage -- this only happened in the last 30 or 40 minutes -- if these people were dead or alive. The restaurants on the plaza

we showed there in this square that was hit, popular with residents as well as the military.

We will now try to connect with Ben Wedeman, who is in Kramatorsk.

Ben, tell us what you are hearing and seeing?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we understand from local authorities that this strike took place at precisely 7:32 in the

evening, about two hours ago.

Behind me, the ruins of the Leah (ph) restaurant, very popular with soldiers and local residents. And given the time of the strike, in evening,

dinnertime it is likely the restaurant was very full.

In fact, I spoke with an eyewitness, who said the place was full. He saw somewhere up to 12 bodies. We don't know dead or wounded, coming out of the

-- being taken out of the restaurant.

What we see now, there is a huge crane lifting these concrete blocks that were part of the building. I managed to get inside and it is just a scene

of utter destruction. There are dozens of rescue workers trying to look for people.

And by the appearance of things, no question about it, there are people still under the rubble. According to the Ukrainian interior ministry, at

least two people were killed, one of them a child as well as 22 people injured.

One of the worries when the strikes happen is that there could be what's called a double tap. The location is struck, the first responders come;

people gather and then another strike happens. This is always one of the concerns, here.

It has happened in Kramatorsk in the past. And Isa, keep in mind, Kramatorsk is a very important city in terms of administration, in terms of

military presence. And it's relatively close to where some of the most intense fighting is taking place.

Bakhmut is just an hour's drive from here. This obviously is not the first time this sort of thing has happened. But this is a city -- I was a here a

year ago. And it was largely empty. But as the war effort continues, as they bring more military personnel into the area, it has come back to life.

And that is why things like restaurants are very popular with the soldiers.

They are trying to move a truck in here so we may have to shift our location. Isa.

SOARES: So very much, Ben, for the time being a search and rescue operation. We've also heard from Ukraine's minister of internal affairs in

the last few minutes, who said Russia deliberately is targeting crowded areas.

Very much a modus operandi we have seen time and time again from Russia, regardless of what we've been seeing unfolding in Russia in terms of the

risk between Putin and Prigozhin. It's just a reminder, really, that the war is still going on.

WEDEMAN: Indeed, it is. It is on and it's not just going on on the front lines. From what we've seen time and time again, Ukrainian cities, even

faraway from the front line are hit, are targeted on a regular basis. In fact, I hear the air raid siren right now.


WEDEMAN: And this is the soundtrack one hears in the background often in this part of the country. But as I said, despite, that a lot of people have

come back to Kramatorsk. A lot of soldiers here. And obviously a restaurant like this, that is popular and well-known with soldiers, as well, not

unlikely that the Russians would target it, Isa.

SOARES: Yes. Ben Wedeman, we really appreciate it. Thank you very, much do stay safe. We will stay on top of this breaking news as we have heard there

from Ben Wedeman. That strike in the city center there, of Kramatorsk.

I want to move now outside Ukraine to the fallout from the weekend's dramatic rebellion we've been covering. We're getting more details into

what was said and how the deal was brokered between Russian President Putin and the rebellion leader, Prigozhin.

In a presidential address today, Alexander Lukashenko said he negotiated all day on Saturday with the Wagner leader, going through six or seven

rounds of talks. He noted lots of obscene words were used. Lukashenko said he cautioned the Wagner chief that his forces will be destroyed if they

continued to the Russian capital.

Here's what he said, take a listen.


ALEXANDER LUKASHENKO, BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): He says, "But we want justice. They want to strangle us. We will march in Moscow."

And I say, halfway to Moscow, they will squash you like a bug," even though as Putin told me, the troops were busy on a certain front line.


SOARES: They will be crushed like a bug.

Lukashenko also said he personally guaranteed Prigozhin's safety and the safety of his men in order to bring the rebellion to an end.

Joining us more on the Wagner situation in Belarus is Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya. she is the opposition leader in Belarus and a former

presidential candidate there.

You've been raising some red flags about the Wagner mercenaries in Belarus. I want to get your thoughts, Sviatlana. We've heard from Lukashenko today,

that Prigozhin is in Belarus. Your reaction to having the head of this mercenary group and the man leading the insurrection in your country.

SVIATLANA TSIKHANOUSKAYA, BELARUS OPPOSITION LEADER: First of all, deployment of (INAUDIBLE) in Belarus is (INAUDIBLE) to those in prison

first of all (ph) but also to our neighbor. (INAUDIBLE) escalated to our territory.

Wagner presence in Belarus (INAUDIBLE) because (INAUDIBLE) his mercenaries are criminals. (INAUDIBLE) and this is the Russian world that we

(INAUDIBLE) Belarus.

Moreover, we can't exclude provocations against our neighbors, (INAUDIBLE) especially on the (INAUDIBLE) and report the -- this Wagner group can

invade there again from their territory.

SOARES: Sviatlana, I am going to apologize. Unfortunately, the quality of your audio isn't very clear so I can't make out exactly what you're telling

us. We're going to try and reconnect, try to make sure that line is clear so all of us can understand you clearly. It's an important story and we

want to -- will connect with you.

And we will be back after this short break.





SOARES: Well, it is dangerously hot in Texas and it's only getting hotter. Millions of people are under heat alerts, as you can see on that map there,

as parts of Texas approach the state's record high temperatures, that is 120 degrees Fahrenheit, nearly 50 degrees Celsius.

The weather service says this heat wave maybe even more dangerous than usual because it won't get much cooler overnight. Normally that is the

coolest part of the day. With forecasters warning of this new, more dangerous kind of heat wave, I'd like to bring in our chief climate

correspondent Bill Weir, in New York to discuss the risk.

Bill, great to see you. Look, explain to us why these heat waves are getting more dangerous.

BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT: Well, these domes seem to be parked for weeks at a time. What's happening in northern Mexico could be

the worst heat wave in modern history.

And they're feeling it on the edge of that Ring of Fire, up in Texas, where Dallas will go six straight days where the temperature doesn't drop below

80 degrees Fahrenheit at night.

That is crucial because these cement cities that retain all that heat, they don't have time to cool off. It just adds to the stress of the most

vulnerable. When we saw the deadliest heat waves in Chicago, there were overnight temperatures that were really bad.

Houston will have nine of them this month, nine days where it doesn't fall below that safe level there. Shattering last year's record, which was five.

So this seems to be getting worse faster than predicted.

Without climate change, the attribution, scientists say, this would be five times less likely. But this is the new reality that we've become accustomed


And ironically, in Texas, because climate is so politicized there, governor Greg Abbott just lifted a law that would require construction sites to give

their workers water breaks every four hours to cool off for 10 minutes at a time.

And heat is the deadliest killer in more than all other natural disasters combined. They may be rethinking that down in Texas, because the worst of

this isn't expected to hit until mid to late week.

SOARES: Four hour break for water -- it seems to me that you shouldn't even be working outside in these conditions.

What is your advice?

WEIR: People of all ages have to just stay inside as much as they can, find cooling centers, if they don't have the luxury of air conditioning.

And yes, frequent water breaks.

In places like Shreveport, Louisiana, you have the humidity coming off the Gulf. That wet bulb temperature, the heat index, can really be stifling and

deadly. And check on the most vulnerable around you, the old and the young. They could --


SOARES: And Bill, I want to pick your brain now that I've got you here. We have been seeing these extreme conditions, not just in the United States

but they're also a concern also for Europe, where we've seen summers getting hotter and earlier, too. That has been a concern for a lot of

elderly people in Europe.

Is this a pattern that you have been seeing in the last few years?

WEIR: Yes, absolutely. It's undeniable now. You see it on every continent, really. But it's most striking up in the high latitudes, like the U.K. last

year. You had temperatures on par with what we see in Arizona or Nevada.

We had Portland, Oregon, that was hotter than Las Vegas has ever recorded when they had their devastating heat dome of years past. And now we are

seeing lawsuits based on that.

The county around Portland, Oregon, is suing big oil companies for making that heat wave more deadly and worse. So we are seeing more and more

expressions of, this is our new normal.

SOARES: Bill Weir, always great to have you. Thanks, Bill.

WEIR: You bet.

SOARES: Humans' thirst for groundwater is so great, it has actually tipped the Earth's axis. A new study says the extraction of groundwater, drinking

water as well as watering crops, sucks so much liquid that it is basically affecting our planet's tilt.

By you're asking how much?

By about four centimeters per year. One of the scientists said the Earth's rotational pole actually does change a lot. But climate related causes like

this have the largest impact.

Well, the Tom Cruise film, "Mission: Impossible -- Dead Reckoning Part One" opens in just a few weeks. And once again, the movie features Cruise

doing what he does best, a death defying stunt as agent Ethan Hunt. This time, riding a motorcycle off the edge of a cliff before opening his

parachute. The actor was in Abu Dhabi this week.


SOARES: And Becky Anderson spoke with him about the hair raising scene. Take a listen.


BECKY ANDERSON, CNN HOST: Tom Cruise, you just spent an hour with the, fans which is in typical Tom Cruise fashion, absolutely wonderful and they

are in for such a treat when this movie launches, not least seeing you in your biggest stent ever if not one of the biggest cinematic stunts ever.

Look me in the eye and tell me you were not frightened out of your wits.

TOM CRUISE, ACTOR: I can't. The difference is, I just don't mind it. I don't mind that feeling, I kind of like that feeling. I like to see when

you prepare for something and then you're like what's going to happen.

I don't mind that feeling.

ANDERSON: Is there anything you wouldn't do?

CRUISE: I don't know, I don't know. There's a lot of things that I still want to do.


SOARES: Living on the edge of the seat, good on him.

And that does it for this evening, "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" will have much more, in particular that strength that we reported on Kramatorsk. Richard

Quest is up next with the very latest from Eastern Ukraine. In the meantime, I shall see you tomorrow. Have a wonderful evening, goodbye.