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Isa Soares Tonight
Biden Gives An Impassioned Defense Of America's Support For Ukraine While Addressing The U.N. General Assembly; A Murder Investigation Forces A Diplomatic Rift Between India And Canada; Volodymyr Zelenskyy Addresses U.N. General Assembly; Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy Urges World To Unite Against Russian Aggression; Interview With Finnish President Sauli Niinisto On Aid To Ukraine; India-Canada Tensions; Nagorno-Karabakh Crisis. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired September 19, 2023 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ISA SOARES, HOST, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: A very warm welcome to the show, everyone, I'm Isa Soares. Tonight, President Biden addresses the United
Nations, giving an impassioned defense of America's support for Ukraine. Now, all eyes on Ukraine's President Zelenskyy as he takes to the podium
this very hour.
Then a murder investigation forces a diplomatic rift, Canada says there are credible allegations India was behind the assassination of a Sikh leader.
And then the death of Yevgeny Prigozhin left a power vacuum, so what has taken Wagner's place in parts of Africa? We have a special CNN
But first this evening, it's all eyes on United Nations this hour. I want to show you the live pictures, because we are waiting for Ukrainian
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to address leaders at the General Assembly. Right now, His Excellency Sedar Berdimuhamedow is speaking, he's the
president of Turkmenistan, of course, when that starts -- when we see President Zelenskyy, we shall bring that to you.
U.S. President Joe Biden took the podium just hours ago, he calls for unity and reiterated a familiar message that United States and its allies will
stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes. Have a listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If you allow Ukraine to be carved up, as the independence of any nation secure, I respectfully suggest
the answer is no. We had to stand up to this negative aggression today, and deter other would-be aggressions tomorrow.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SOARES: While missing from the audience though, were the leaders from Russia, from China, the U.K. as well as France, all permanent members, of
course, of the U.N. Security Council. They are staying home this year and sending deputies. We'll stay -- keep a close eye of course, on UNGA for
when we hear from President Zelenskyy.
I want to bring it back home though here to Europe. Italy is calling on the United Nations to help with the migrant crisis unfolding on Lampedusa.
Authorities say the tiny island is becoming overwhelmed after 7,000 people arrived in just two days. The EU has pledged action to help, but Italy's
foreign minister says Europe can't solve the crisis on its own.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANTONIO TAJANI, FOREIGN MINISTER, ITALY (through translator): We are absolutely convinced that the issue of migration is an African issue, but
also, the Middle East issue, must certainly be addressed at not only in Italian level, but at the European level. But we also believe the United
Nations must also play their part, since this is such a vast phenomenon that can't be solved at the European level alone.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SOARES: Let's get the very latest from Ben Wedeman who is following the story from Rome for us this hour. So, Ben, yesterday, when I was speaking
to Barbie Nadeau, we were talking about the fact that there's this 10-point plan. Is there any more clarity on what this plan entails and how it
actually works in practice?
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the question is always in the implementation, and that has really been the challenge
because it involves -- it requires cooperation, active cooperation from those countries like Libya and Tunisia, which are the points from which
many of these migrants live.
And what we've seen for instance last month, rather in July, the EU and Tunisia concluded an agreement to try to deal with the migrant issue, but
there is opposition within the EU to actually providing the funds to make this agreement possible. So, it's simply not working out, and what we're
seeing is that for Italy, which is of course, led by a hard-right government, that while in opposition was talking very hard about things
like Naval blockades to stop migrants from reaching Italian shores.
Now, Italian leaders particularly the Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, are having to deal with reality.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
WEDEMAN (voice-over): From today, Lampedusa says enough, shout a resident of this small Italian island closer to Tunisia than the European mainland.
This year, Lampedusa has been the destination of a dramatic influx of mostly sub-Saharan migrants crossing the Mediterranean from Tunisia.
Prompting European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to fly there with Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, to show Europe's support.
URSULA VON DER LEYEN, PRESIDENT, EUROPEAN COMMISSION: But we will decide who comes to the European Union and under what circumstances, and not the
smugglers and traffickers.
WEDEMAN: The number of migrants reaching Italy so far this year is twice as many as arrived by this time in 2022. In July, the EU --
SOARES: And I want to take you straight to the U.N. where Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is about to address the General Assembly.
Let's listen in.
VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, PRESIDENT, UKRAINE: Thank you very much. I welcome all who stand for common efforts, and I promise being really united, we can
guarantee fair peace for all nations. Once more, unity can prevent wars. Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Secretary-General, Mr. President, fellow leaders,
this whole, so many wars, but not as active defender against the aggressors.
In many cases, the fear of war, the final war were the loudest here, the war after which no one would gather in the General Assembly hall again.
This world war was seen as a nuclear war, a conflict between states on the highway to nukes, other wars seem less scary compared to the threat of the
so-called great powers firing their nuclear stockpiles.
So the 20th century taught the world to restrain from the use of the weapons of mass destruction, not to deploy, not to proliferate, not to
threaten with and not to test, but to promote a complete nuclear disarmament. Frankly, this is a good strategy, but it should not be the
only strategy to protect the world from the final war.
Ukraine gave up its sword(ph), largest nuclear arsenal, the world then decided Russia should become a keeper of such power, yet, history shows it
was Russia who dissolved nuclear disarmament the most, back in 1990s, and Russia dissolves it now. Terrorists have no right to hold nuclear weapons.
No right. But truly, not in use at this scale(ph) now.
While nukes remain in place, the mass destruction is gaining its momentum. The aggressor is weaponizing many other things and those things are used
not only against our country, but against all of yours as well. Fellow leaders, there are many conventions that restrict weapons, but there are no
real restrictions on weaponization. First, let me -- let me give you an example.
The food since the start of the full-scale war, the Ukrainian ports in the Black and Azov Seas have been blocked by Russia. Until now, our ports on
the Danube River remain the target for missiles and drones. And it is a clear Russian attempt to weaponize the food shortage on the global market
in exchange for recognition for some, if not all of the captured territories.
Russia is launching the food prices as weapons. The impact spans from the Atlantic calls of Africa, to the southeast Asia, and this is the threat
scale. And I would like to thank those leaders who supported our Black Sea Grain Initiative and Program Grain from Ukraine. Thank you so much.
United, we made weapons turn back into food again. More than 45 nations saw how important it is to make Ukrainian food products available on the
market. From Algeria to Spain to Indonesia and China.
And even now, when Russia has undermined the Black Sea Grain Initiative, we are working to ensure food stability, and I hope that many of you will join
us in these efforts. We launched a temporary sea export corridor from our ports, and we are working hard to preserve the land routes for grain
exports. And it is alarming to see how some in Europe, some of our friends in Europe, play our solidarity in political theater, making thriller from
And they may seem to play their own role, but in fact, they are helping, helping set the stage to a Moscow actor. Second, weaponization of energy.
Many times, the world has witnessed Russia using energy as a weapon. Kremlin weaponized oil and gas to weaken the leaders of other countries
when they came to the Red Square.
And now, this threat is even greater. Russia is weaponizing nuclear energy. Not only it is -- not only is it spreading its unreliable nuclear power
plant construction technologies, but it is also turning other countries' power plants into real dirty bombs. Look, please, what Russia did to our
Zaporizhzhia power plant. Shelled it, occupied it and now, blackmails others with radiation leaks.
Is there any sense to reduce nuclear weapons when Russia is weaponizing nuclear power plants? Scary question. The global security and architecture
offers no response or protection against such a treacherous radiation threat, and there is no accountability for radiation blackmailers so far.
The sword(ph) example is children.
Unfortunately, various terrorist groups abduct children to put pressure on their families and societies. But never before, the mass kidnapping and
deportation would become a part of the government policy, not until now. We know the names of tens of thousands of children -- I have evidence on
hundreds of thousands of others kidnapped by Russia in the occupied territories of Ukraine and later deported.
The International Criminal Court issued arrest warrant for Putin for this crime. And we are trying to get children back home, but time goes by. What
will happen with them? What will happen to them? Those children in Russia are taught to hate Ukraine and all ties with their families are broken. And
this is clearly a genocide when hatred is weaponized against one nation, it never stops there.
Each decade, Russia starts a new war. Parts of Moldova and Georgia remain occupied. Russia turned Syria into ruins. And if not Russia, the chemical
weapons would have never been used there in Syria. Russia has almost swallowed Belarus. It is obviously threatening Kazakhstan, and now the
Baltic states. And the goal of the present war against Ukraine is to tour our lands, our people, our lives, our resources into a weapon against you,
again, the international rules-based order.
Many seats in the General Assembly hall may become empty, empty if Russia succeeds with its treachery and aggression. Ladies and gentlemen, the
aggressor scatters deaths and brings ruins even without nukes, but the outcomes are alike. We see towns, we see villages in Ukraine wiped out by
Russian artillery, leveled to the ground completely.
We see the war of drones, we know the possible effects of spreading the war into the cyberspace. That artificial intelligence could be trained to
combat well before it would long to help the humanity.
Thank God, people have not yet learned to use climate as a weapon. Even though humanity is failing on his climate policy objectives. This means
that extreme weather will still impart the normal global life, and some evil state will also weaponize its outcomes. And when people in the streets
of New York and other cities of the world went out on climate protest, we all have seen them.
And when people in Morocco and Libya and other countries died as a result of natural disasters, and when islands and countries disappear under water,
and when tornadoes and desert are spreading into new territories, and when all of these is happening, one, a natural disaster in Moscow decided to
launch a big war and kill tens of thousands of people. We have to stop it.
We must act united to defeat the aggressor and focus all our capabilities and energy on addressing these challenges as nukes are restrained.
Likewise, the aggressor must be restrained and all its tools and message of war. Each war now can become final, but it takes our unity to make sure
that aggression will not break in again.
And it is not a dialogue between the so-called great power somewhere behind their closed doors that can guarantee us all the new wars era, but open war
of all nations for peace. Last year, I presented the outlines of the Ukrainian peace formula at the U.N. General Assembly. Later in Indonesia, I
presented the full formula, and over the past year, the peace formula became the basis to obtain the existing security architecture.
Now, we can bring -- now, we can bring back to life the U.N. Charter and guarantee the full power for the rules-based world order. And tomorrow, I
will present the details at a special meeting of the U.N. Security Council. The main thing is that, it is not only about Ukraine. More than 140 states
and international organizations have supported the Ukrainian peace formula fully or in part.
The Ukrainian peace formula is becoming global, it points over solutions and steps that will solve all forms of weaponization that Russia used
against Ukraine and other countries, and may be used by other aggressors. Look, for the first time in modern history, we have real chance to end the
aggression on the terms of the nation which was attacked.
And this is a real chance for every nation to ensure that aggression against your state, if it happens, God forbid, will end not because your
land will be divided, and you will be forced to submit to military or political pressure, but because your territory and sovereignty will be
fully restored. We launched the four-month of meetings between national security advisors and diplomatic representatives, important talks and
consultations were held in Hiroshima, in Copenhagen and in Jeddah on the implementation of the peace formula.
And we are preparing a global peace summit, and please, I know I told all of you, all of you who do not tolerate any aggression, to jointly prepare
the summit. And I am aware of the attempts to make some shady dealings behind the scenes. Evil cannot be trusted. Ask Prigozhin if one bets on
Putin's promises. Please, hear me. Let unity decide everything openly. While Russia is pushing the world to the final war, Ukraine is doing
everything to ensure that after Russian aggression, no one in the world will dare to attack any nation.
Weaponization must be restrained. War crimes must be punished. Deported people must come back home, and occupier must return to their own land.
We must be united to make it and we will do it for Ukraine.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On behalf of the assembly, I wish to thank the president of Ukraine for the statement just made and request for (INAUDIBLE) --
SOARES: Welcome back to our top story, the impassioned plea of Ukraine's president for the world to take a united stand against Russian aggression
before it is too late.
Volodymyr Zelenskyy addressed the U.N. General Assembly just moments ago.
SOARES: He tried to bring the war in Ukraine home to every leader, saying Russia's attack on his country is an attack on the rules-based order of the
entire world. U.S. President Joe Biden addressed the assembly earlier, saying Russia alone bears the responsibility for the war.
He pushed back against suggestions Ukraine could, should see some territory in exchange for a cease-fire, saying that, if it happens, the independence
of no nation would be secure.
Away from the United Nations, there was welcome news for the Ukrainian president when it comes to supplying the country's war efforts in Germany.
The U.S. Defense Secretary led a meeting of countries to talk about providing Kyiv with weapons as well as equipment.
And he promised American M1 Abrams tanks will enter Ukraine soon, adding that Ukraine's ongoing counteroffensive is making, quote, "steady forward
World leaders have been weighing in all throughout the day really on the war in Ukraine but few understand the dynamics quite like Finland. It
shares a land border with Russia on the east but has been a key ally to the West.
Since abandoning a decades-long policy of neutrality, following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, it has donated hundreds of millions in aid as well as
munitions, as well as artillery to Kyiv.
Earlier I spoke to Finnish president Sauli Niinisto, who recently said that Europe shouldn't be complacent with the war in Ukraine or dismiss the risk
of a wider war.
SAULI NIINISTO, PRESIDENT OF FINLAND: I think it is not a big one because it is difficult to see that anybody wants an escalation. But what we have
seen are accidents or so-called accidents. We have seen quite a lot of tensions rising, especially on the Black Sea area.
The latest were those (INAUDIBLE) drones dropping to Romania because, very fast, that one had to say that it seems to be an accident. And if there
would have been damages, that would have been more and more complicated.
SOARES: From where you stand and over a year now into this war, over three months or so into this counteroffensive, do you, sir, see signs of
complacency or fatigue in Europe?
NIINISTO: No, actually, Finland has been very active in supporting Ukraine. We have now 18 aid packages worth of approximately 1.5 million. But surely,
the warfare, it is, in itself -- seems to be a bit stuck, even though Ukraine has now got forward in Bakhmut like they talked.
But nevertheless, altogether, it seems to be very difficult to see when the war ends.
SOARES: And President Zelenskyy in the meantime has continued to make a pitch for more weaponry as those gains are made in the south, in the east.
What do you think allies lack here?
What do you think, what more can be done to keep up this momentum?
NIINISTO: First of all, we have to see that the amount of allotment (ph) which allies have given to Ukraine is enormous. But surely, the quality has
been discussed all the time first whether a document the beginning of this year about (INAUDIBLE) for example, now F-16s, it's developing.
The aid is massive and it is developing both in its quality and amount.
SOARES: And are those promises, those deliveries happening, coming quick enough, in your view?
NIINISTO: We have found out that, actually, the resource -- the reserves of European countries are not that wide. And many times, we haven't heard also
that, well, yes, we have those arms but they are a bit rusty. So this describes also the attitude in Europe, which has been very wake up during
the decades after the Cold War.
SOARES: I want to look ahead if I can --
SOARES: -- keeping this conversation on Ukraine but it's clear from what you said and what we have heard today at the U.N. General Assembly that
there is unity among Ukraine's allies.
And I worry, Mr. President, whether support, whether you worry that support may not be there for Ukraine, should candidate Trump win the next U.S.
What are your thoughts?
NIINISTO: I haven't seen Trump's reactions except the one when he says that he's capable of ending the war in one day. But what his position in the aid
is, that has been a bit open.
I know that there are discussions in the States now. But according to my understanding, there is clear maturity (ph) which understands that
supporting Ukraine is not only supporting just Ukrainians but it's a European and global issue.
SOARES: Our thanks to the president of Finland.
The murder of a Sikh Canadian in British Columbia has ignited a standoff between India and Canada. The Canadian prime minister said publicly there
are credible allegations linking India to the murder. India has fired back, calling the accusations unsubstantiated. CNN's Paula Newton has the
PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In a startling accusation, Canadian officials say the killing of a prominent Canadian Sikh leader in
the province of British Columbia in June may have been an assassination carried out op the orders of the Indian government.
JUSTIN TRUDEAU, CANADIAN PRIME MINISTER: Over the past number of weeks, Canadian security agencies have been actively pursuing credible allegations
of a potential link between agents of the government of India and the killing of a Canadian citizen, Hardeep Singh Nijjar.
NEWTON (voice-over): Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he confronted India's prime minister with the allegations in a face-to-face
meeting just last week as Narendra Modi posted the G20 summit.
TRUDEAU: Canada has declared its deep concerns to the top intelligence and security officials of the Indian government. Last week at the G20, I
brought them personally and directly to Prime Minister Modi in no uncertain terms.
Any involvement of foreign government in the killing of a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil is an unacceptable violation of our sovereignty. It is
contrary to the fundamental roles by which free, open and democratic societies conduct themselves.
NEWTON (voice-over): The killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar remains unresolved. Royal Canadian Mounted Police say Nijjar suffered multiple
gunshot wounds while sitting in a vehicle outside a Sikh temple in Surrey, British Columbia.
Homicide investigators say two masked suspects described as heavier set males fled on foot and then possibly in this 2008 silver Toyota Camry. In
the earliest days after the homicide, protesters demanded justice, saying the killing was politically motivated and chilling retribution for Nijjar's
activism and support for Sikh independence in India.
At the time, RCMP would not comment on a possible motive. But now, Canadian officials are speaking loud and clear about their suspicions.
MELANIE JOLY, CANADIAN FOREIGN AFFAIRS MINISTER: The allegations that a representative of a foreign government may have been involved in the
killing of a Canadian citizen here in Canada, on Canadian soil, is not only troubling but it is completely unacceptable.
If proven true, this would be a grave violation of our sovereignty and of the most basic rule of how countries deal with each other.
NEWTON: That stern rebuke was followed by swift action. Canada expelled the head of India's spy agency in Canada, one of India's top diplomats in the
country. In a statement, the Indian government responded, saying the allegations are unsubstantiated and accused Canada of sheltering
Trudeau considers the intelligence so credible that his foreign minister says he raised the issue with both U.S. President Joe Biden and Britain's
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.
The killing of Nijjar and its fallout is now a potential powder keg in both India and Canada, home to one of the largest Indian diaspora anywhere in
the world. Sikh independence has long been a dangerous fault line in Indian politics.
NEWTON: -- Canada now fears that conflict may have been brought to its shores with deadly consequences -- Paula Newton, CNN.
SOARES: Still to come tonight, Azerbaijan launches a military operation in a breakaway region, raising fears of all-out war. We have that just ahead.
SOARES: Welcome back.
A crisis is unfolding right now in the disputed territory of Nagorno- Karabakh. Armenia is asking the world for help, accusing Azerbaijan of attempted ethnic cleansing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SOARES (voice-over): The sounds of gunfire there as Azerbaijan launched a military operation, demanding the surrender of Armenian separatists in the
breakaway region. Separatist authorities now say 25 people have been killed in the fighting.
Russia, which has peacekeepers there, is calling for a cease-fire. It says it's organizing civilian evacuations.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SOARES: Earlier I spoke with the president of the European Parliament. I asked her for her reaction to what we are seeing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTA METSOLA, PRESIDENT, EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT: The European reaction is absolutely clear, full condemnation of the actions that we saw earlier
today, complete request for cessation of activities.
We call and I've spoken with the high representative and I will speak with the president of the European Council in order to bring Armenia and
Azerbaijan together but also a recognition that this is Russia at play and these are tactics that are being used.
It is, I believe, no coincidence that this happens today when world leaders are in New York, talking about the benefits of multilateralism that we are
seeing, yet another conflict, a one-sided attack, that we absolutely, as a continent, as a world, could do without in terms of making sure that we
have efforts toward peace rather than the opposite.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SOARES: I'm joined now by our international diplomatic editor, Nic Robertson.
Nic, just explain the simmering tension, because this has been going on for some time. Explain how we are getting here, what's unfolding on the ground
from what you understand from your sources.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: The Armenians have been really concerned that the Azerbaijanis --
ROBERTSON: -- would continue to want to push out the 120,000 Armenians remaining in this mostly Armenian enclave. Since the last go-around in
fighting in 2020, the only access to that enclave from Armenia has been one road, the Lachin Corridor.
Russian peacekeepers monitor it; their job was to make sure it was open for humanitarian supplies to get in. Since June this year, the Azerbaijanis
have blocked the road. The Armenian said the people inside are effectively being starved out.
They commissioned a well-respected international lawyer, who wrote a legal opinion on it, saying that he thought this was genocide in preparation
here. As recently as the past couple of weeks, the Armenians say they've been able to see that Azerbaijan is building up ammunition and troops
around the enclave.
They've been fearing a scenario like this, where they would be a military escalation. The Azerbaijanis say they are chasing out terrorists. They say
that they won't be Armenian army in Nagorno-Karabakh to disband and get out.
The Armenians say they don't have an army there. So you get the picture. But what's been happening is, the population there is being squeezed at a
humanitarian level and now, it's being frightened and corralled by a military attack. That's why we had all the appeals for diplomacy.
SOARES: What's happened to the Russian peacekeepers?
What is going on?
ROBERTSON: There are several things in play. One is that the Armenians don't feel the Russians have been fulfilling their role as peacekeepers,
enabling this free flow of goods down the corridor.
They believe that there are reasons behind that. They believe that it is because the Armenians and the Azerbaijanis have been turning to the
European Union and the United States rather than Russia to be a broker on this. There are number of other issues, of course, behind this rising
SOARES: Nic, thank you very much.
That does it for this hour, very busy hour. "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" is next. I'll see you tomorrow, goodbye.