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Isa Soares Tonight
U.N. Secretary-General Urges Immediate Ceasefire In Gaza; Russia Fires A Barrage Of Missiles Over Ukraine After A 79-Day Pause; Hunter Biden Lashes Out At House Republicans After New Federal Charges; Missile Barrage Over Ukraine After 79-Day Pause; U.S. Politicians Debate Further Military Aid To Ukraine; Russian Pres. Putin Announces 2024 Reelection Bid. Aired 2- 2:45p ET
Aired December 08, 2023 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JULIA CHATTERLEY, HOST, ISA SOARES TONIGHT: A very warm welcome to the show everyone, I'm Julia Chatterley in for Isa Soares. Tonight, Gaza
society is on the brink of full-blown collapse. That's the dire warning coming from the united agency -- United Nations Agency working in the
enclave, as Israel continues its bombardment.
Then Russia fires a barrage of cruise missiles at Ukraine for the first time in weeks. We're live on the ground with the latest. Plus, Hunter Biden
lashing out at house Republicans after being hit with a number of new federal charges. That story, coming up.
The U.N. Agency for Palestinian refugees warns that Gaza is in its darkest hour, quote, "on the brink of full-blown collapse". U.N. officials are
pushing again for an urgent ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war. Security Council members are meeting in an extraordinary session after Secretary-
General Antonio Guterres invoked a rarely used power to convene them.
The council could vote on a ceasefire within hours. But that effort almost certain to fail as the U.S. wields veto power. Guterres warns that Gaza is
staring, quote, "into the abyss".
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANTONIO GUTERRES, SECRETARY-GENERAL, UNITED NATIONS: I deeply regret to inform the council that under current conditions on the ground, the
fulfillment of this mandate has become impossible. The conditions for the effective delivery of humanitarian aid no longer exist.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHATTERLEY: Israel is rejecting a ceasefire, saying it would only prolong the Hamas, quote, "reign of terror". And so, the bombing of Gaza continues.
Israel says it struck 450 targets over the past day. That's the highest number since its short-lived truce with Hamas collapsed. And vast parts of
Gaza are now laid waste.
The Hamas-run Health Ministry says nearly 17,500 people have been killed, mostly women and children. Thousands more I believe buried under the rubble
of crushed buildings and homes. Meanwhile, human rights groups are condemning disturbed images that have emerged of stripped detainees in
The pictures circulating on social media showed mass detentions of men, some kneeling and sitting while blindfolded in the sand. Others crowded
into the back of a truck. The exact dates and circumstances of the detentions are not clear. An Israeli government spokesman says they were
apprehended in Jabalia, in what he called other Hamas strongholds, and will be questioned to determine if they're terrorists or not.
Let's bring in Ben Wedeman now live in Jerusalem for more. Ben, I want to start with the broader message here, well, from the United Nations, which
is that Gaza faces its darkest hour, and yet what we see is Israel stepping up its campaign in the south to devastating effect.
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, devastating effect is the best way to describe it. What we're seeing for instance since
the truce collapsed a week ago, around 2,500 people have been killed, 70 percent of them women and children, according to the Health Ministry in
What we're seeing is that living conditions for the 85 percent of the population that has been displaced are getting worse and worse. And you see
the spread of disease is jumping in ways that nobody had ever -- has ever seen before in Gaza. And therefore, I think this was the impetus behind the
U.N. Secretary-General invoking Article 99 and calling this emergency meeting of the Security Council is that the situation in Gaza is indeed
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
WEDEMAN (voice-over): Isra(ph) was born the day the truce went into effect, seemingly so long ago. She lives with her parents and brother in a
makeshift shelter in Deir al-Balah. "It lacks the basics of life for the cold, for the Winter" says her mother, also named Isra(ph).
This young family is part of the 1.9 million people, 85 percent of Gaza's population that has been displaced. Displaced, but still in danger. Smoke
rises over Rafah, where so many fled too. Wednesday afternoon, this house in Rafah's refugee camp was bombed. Inevitably in such a crowded place,
children were among the dead. "There is no safe place in Gaza", says Eidri Habi(ph). 'Any place can be hit".
The Palestinian Health Ministry says more than 20 people were killed in this strike, including 17 members from the same extended family. "They told
them the south was safe, they came here, the safe place, and they were all killed", says Basama Habi(ph). Death now stalks every corner of this land.
In Khan Yunis, the focus of Israel's current offensive, the hospital is overwhelmed with the injured. And yet, more come. The World Health
Organization's Gaza envoy says they're doing what they can.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But the health infrastructure is on its knees, it's almost collapsing. That is what the reality is. It's almost collapsing.
WEDEMAN: Collapse, chaos, destruction and death. Such is Gaza's last.
WEDEMAN: And I think it's important to keep in mind that one of the reasons why the U.N. is really behind the impetus for a ceasefire. In
addition to the United Arab Emirates is that unlike the Americans or the British or the French, they have -- the U.N. has lots of people on the
They know what's going on. And they are the ones who are seeing close up what is going on in Gaza. And that is why there is this sense of urgency.
CHATTERLEY: Certainly. Ben, and can I just get your take? And we'll show our viewers once again some of the images that have been circulating online
of detainees in Gaza. The IDF is saying they're Hamas fighters or suspected Hamas fighters. What more do we know?
WEDEMAN: Yes, that's what the spokesman for the Israeli military said. He said that they were being stripped down to their underwear just to make
sure they're not carrying explosives. Now, Hamas is responding that these are displaced Palestinian civilians.
Now, what we're hearing is that in fact, the Israelis went around to U.N. shelters and other areas where there's still people and just round it up
all the men and sort of it's given -- it's take -- they take it for granted that everybody is a member of Hamas.
But we know that some people have been recognized by their relatives as civilians, as ordinary Gazan citizens who have no affiliation with any
militant faction. And I can tell you, I've seen similar scenes, I perhaps view -- our viewers don't have long memories, but back in 2002, when Israel
re-invaded the West Bank, I saw our captured camera caught images of all the men and the teenagers and various Palestinian towns and villages in the
West Bank all rounded up, all detained, all held for questioning.
The only difference is most of them got to keep their clothing, unlike these detainees in Gaza, Julia.
CHATTERLEY: Ben Wedeman, thank you for that report for now. Now, Israel's offensive in Gaza is only intensifying since its brief truce with Hamas
ended this week. U.S. officials say they're applying pressure on Israel to do more to protect civilians as they continue that assault. Speaking
alongside British Foreign Secretary David Cameron Thursday, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken says there is still a gap between the quote,
"intent to protect civilians and the actual results that we're seeing on the ground."
Natasha Bertrand joins us now from Washington. Natasha, again, the Israelis have made clear that relative to pass conflicts in other spheres, actually
their efforts are comparable if not better actually than other militaries at times of war. But I think this is the most stringent message that we've
heard from the U.S. Secretary of State so far, this gap between the conversations he was having when he was there and what we're seeing on the
NATASHA BERTRAND, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The tone has absolutely shifted pretty dramatically over the last several weeks of this war, Julia, with
the administration more stridently condemning how the Israelis are carrying out this operation. And privately, telling them that they only want this
ground operation in southern Gaza to go on for another 3 to 4 weeks.
They are hoping that this is going to end by early January. But of course, the Israelis are the ones who are prosecuting this war in Gaza against
Hamas. And the Americans understand, and they say privately, again, that they can only go so far in terms of how much influence they have over the
Many officials have told us that they don't necessarily believe the Israelis always listen to the United States. But the big question that is
going to be asked now, and that has been asked repeatedly over the last several weeks is, are there any actual red lines that the United States is
willing to enforce here against the Israelis when it comes to providing weaponry for example.
The international community considers the U.S. to have so much influence over Israel, of course, because they are the biggest provider of weapons
and other military equipment to the Israelis. So the question that is swirling, particularly among progressive Democrats in Congress here in the
U.S. is whether the U.S. is going to put any conditions on that military aid to the Israelis as this war goes on.
And particularly, as the U.S. clearly is not happy with the steps that Israel has taken to try to protect civilians in Gaza, and with the amount
of aid or lack thereof, that the Israelis have allowed into the Gaza Strip. So right now, among the conversations that the U.S. is having with its
partners in the region, particularly the Arab allies is what happens after this war ends.
Because if it does move into that lower intensity phase by January, where you're not seeing this larger ground operation, then there has to be some
kind of plan in place for a post-war governance of the Gaza Strip. And there seem to be some disagreements really between the U.S. and its Arab
allies over what that looks like.
Some in the U.S. want to see these Arab states including perhaps Jordan for example or Saudi Arabia take on a bigger role in peacekeeping. And for
example, put a multi-national peacekeeping force there. But one Arab ambassador told me that it is simply not going to happen. They do not want
to put troops into Gaza because they don't want to be seen as subjugating the Palestinians, and they want to maintain momentum for a two-state
A Palestinian state, and they don't want to have any discussions about post-war Gaza without that being a major part of it. So, all of these
issues at the core, really of what the Secretary of State is discussing today with those Arab partners, and of course, we're going to have to see
what happens with that big U.N. vote that is expected for later today on condemning all of this and calling for a ceasefire. Julia.
CHATTERLEY: Yes, I fear, it will be a case of the impotency of U.N. on display to your point on that. Natasha, just very quickly, and as you quite
rightly pointed out, a lot of the discussions are about the what next? And what happens beyond, and trying to find some kind of solution and peaceful
solution in the interim.
But what conversations are still being had as we watched the Israeli military operations intensify certainly in the south, about the estimated
138 hostages that still remain in Gaza. If that discussion is still being had about whether or not there is some hope for trying to see some release
of further hostages.
BERTRAND: Well, sadly, Julia, according to the White House, those talks while ongoing, they really have reached a dead-end at this point. And the
U.S. does not feel that it is any closer right now to reaching some kind of deal with Hamas through Qatar to try to get these Israeli and American and
other dual national hostages out.
The families of some of these American hostages have been calling for the U.S. to get creative here and how they negotiate with the terrorist
organization as well as of course, through Qatar to try to get them released, cutting some kind of side deal perhaps in a way that the Russians
did for some of their nationals who have been held by Hamas.
However, as of right now, according to John Kirby who is the spokesperson for National Security Council, he told reporters yesterday that they're
still trying. But at this point, really no progress has been made. Julia.
CHATTERLEY: Yes, we can't lose sight of them -- of those and their families as well. Natasha Bertrand, thank you for now. Now, the death toll
is also rising in the West Bank. The Palestinian Health Ministry say six people were shot and killed by the IDF today including two teenagers at a
refugee camp near Taba. Israel says its troops raided the camp to conduct counterterrorism operations, and they came under attack.
The Health Ministry says more than 260 Palestinians in the West Bank have been killed by Israeli soldiers or settlers since the war in Gaza began.
Now, U.S. President Joe Biden's son has been hit with new federal charges, and now he's speaking out. Hunter Biden says house Republicans are trying
to kill him, and he says they're using an investigation into him to destroy his father's presidency.
His comments come from a podcast interview with musician, Moby. Hunter is accused of scheming to avoid paying more than a million dollars in taxes.
Prosecutors say he instead spent lavishly on things like escorts, drugs and cars. He was already facing gun charges as part of the special counsel
David Weiss' probe.
For more, we're joined by CNN's crime and justice reporter, Katelyn Polantz.
Katelyn, I was looking at what Hunter Biden's attorneys were saying this weekend. They say if he went to Biden, these charges wouldn't have been
brought. And after five years of investigating with no new evidence, in two years after, Hunter paid his taxes in full, quote, "here, we now are". What
do we need to understand about the charges that he faces today and what it could mean for him?
KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME & JUSTICE REPORTER: Well, Hunter Biden's attorneys are talking about the politics around this. But what happened
yesterday in federal court in California is a grand jury approved an indictment charging the president's son, Hunter Biden, with these nine
criminal counts, including three felonies.
So, the types of charges that often do result in significant prison time if the person is convicted. And that is the result of many years of
investigation. But specifically, the work of a special counsel's office that was appointed to give some distance between the Justice Department,
the Biden administration, and the prosecutors working on this case after Hunter Biden had cut a plea deal and it fell apart -- related to tax
These tax charges, these nine charges, they are about not just paying his taxes, the federal government says that he failed to pay $1.4 million in
taxes. But they also are saying that he lied to the IRS about the amount of money that was available to him or what his expenses were, what he was
doing with his money.
They say in this set of allegations, that a part of these criminal charges, it's a 56-page docket --document that goes into great detail about what
Hunter Biden was doing or not doing with his money, not paying his taxes is what the prosecutors say. They're also saying that he had $7 million at his
disposal from various businesses, a personal friend who was helping him out with things.
And he was using much of that money for personal expenses, luxuries, renting a Lamborghini, staying at very expensive hotels, buying things like
a Mobile Spot to come to his home, and also things like online porn. He was paying for exotic dancers, he was paying for an escort for two nights. And
what the prosecutors are looking at is that, those things were paid for, and he said that they were business expenses, that he didn't need to pay
tax on that money because it was a business expense.
Actually, the prosecutors want to say in court that those are personal expenses. That's the meat of the charges here, and Hunter Biden, we do
expect will enter a not-guilty plea and fight these charges going to trial, potentially next year.
CHATTERLEY: Yes, Katelyn Polantz, thank you. OK, still to come here tonight, leaders at some of America's top universities are under pressure
to resign after what they told Congress about anti-Semitism on campuses. Details on threats to pull funding ahead.
CHATTERLEY: Welcome back. Protests over Israel's war against Hamas and campaign in Gaza have broken out on many U.S. college campuses. And now
university leaders are facing fall-out after they testified to U.S. congressional hearing about the anti-Semitism on their campuses.
Some now want the presidents of Harvard, MIT. and UPenn to resign. This, after they didn't explicitly say calling for the genocide of Jews would
necessarily violate their code of conduct on bullying and harassment. The board at MIT says it supports President Sally Kornbluth.
But a major donor is threatening to take back his $100 million donation at UPenn if Elizabeth Magill stays on as president. Miguel Marquez has more.
REP. ELISE STEFANIK (R-NY): Miss Magill, at Penn, does calling for the genocide of Jews violate Penn's rules or code of conduct? Yes or no?
ELIZABETH MAGILL, PRESIDENT, UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA: If the speech turns into conduct, it can be harassment, yes.
STEFANIK: I am asking, specifically calling for the genocide of Jews. Does that constitute bullying or harassment?
MAGILL: If it is directed and severe or pervasive, it is harassment.
STEFANIK: So the answer is yes?
MAGILL: It is a context-dependent decision, congresswoman.
STEFANIK: It's a context-dependent decision, that's your testimony today? Calling for the genocide of Jews is depending upon the context? That is not
bullying or harassment? This is the easiest question to answer yes, Miss Magill.
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Presidents of three of the country's top schools, MIT, Harvard and the University of
Pennsylvania, sharply questioned this week on Capitol Hill over anti- Semitic rhetoric on their campuses now facing massive backlash for not taking a hard-line stance against calls for genocide.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: From the river to the sea!
CROWD: From the river to the sea!
SALLY KORNBLUTH, PRESIDENT, MIT: I have not heard calling for the genocide for Jews on our campus.
STEFANIK: But you've heard chants for intifada?
KORNBLUTH: I've heard chants which can be anti-Semitic depending on the context, when calling for the elimination of the Jewish people.
MARQUEZ: So far, no protesters held accountable.
REP. NATHANIEL MORAN (R-TX): Have any students been expelled or disciplined for bullying, harassment or these actions that you're listing?
CLAUDINE GAY, PRESIDENT, HARVARD UNIVERSITY: I can assure you, we have robust student disciplinary processes --
MORAN: No, I'm not --
GAY: And we use them --
MORAN: I didn't ask you -- I did not ask about your process. I asked if any students have been disciplined or removed from Harvard as a result of
the bullying and the harassment that's taken place based on their anti- Semitic views.
MARQUEZ: After the hearing, University of Pennsylvania President Liz Magill attempted to clarify her remarks, issuing a video statement.
MAGILL: When I was asked if a call for the genocide of Jewish people on our campus would violate our policies, in that moment, I was focused on our
university's long-standing policies aligned with the U.S. constitution, which say that speech alone is not punishable. I was not focused on, but I
should have been --
MARQUEZ: Harvard's President Claudine Gay issued a written statement after the house committee hearing in part, saying, "calls for violence or
genocide against the Jewish community or any religious or ethnic group are vile, they have no place at Harvard, and those who threaten our Jewish
students will be held to account." Pennsylvania's Democratic Governor said UPenn's Magill failed at the most basic level.
GOV. JOSH SHAPIRO (D-PA): It shouldn't be hard. And there should be no nuance to that. She needed to give a one-word answer, and she failed to
meet that test.
MARQUEZ: The White House making clear on calls for genocide, there is no room for nuance.
KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Calls for genocide are unacceptable. It's vile, and it's counter to everything this country stands
for. I can't believe I even have to say that. I can't believe I even have to say that.
MARQUEZ: From the halls of Congress to presidential politics.
NIKKI HALEY, POLITICIAN & FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: It was disgusting to see what happened.
MARQUEZ: Calls for all three university presidents to step aside growing. Some business leaders, and the CEO of the Anti-Defamation League.
JONATHAN GREENBLATT, CEO, ANTI-DEFAMATION LEAGUE: When I watched these presidents flail and feebly with legal-ish answers respond to a simple line
of questioning, I've got to say, we've lost confidence in them.
MARQUEZ: Some Jewish students and their supporters demanding action.
TALIA KHAN, STUDENT, MIT: Jewish students do not believe that the MIT administration has done an adequate job to make students feel safe on
JONATHAN FRIEDEN, STUDENT, HARVARD UNIVERSITY: Do something. Protect Jewish people. Protect your students.
MARQUEZ: Miguel Marquez, CNN, New York.
CHATTERLEY: And just breaking actually in the last 15 minutes, one of those three presidents, the Harvard University President Claudine Gay has
apologized for her comments made during that congressional testimony on Tuesday. She gave an interview with the student newspaper at Harvard, just
some of the quotes, "I'm sorry", she said to the "Harvard Crimson". "Words matter".
One of the other quotes in this one, "words amplify distress and pain, I don't know how you could feel anything, but regret." One of the other
comments, and they were pulled out there, back and forth that she had with their Republican Representative Elise Stefanik of New York.
"I got caught up in what had become at that point an extended combative exchange about policies and procedures, what I should have had the presence
of mind to do in that moment was return to my guiding truth, which is that calls for violence against our Jewish community, threats to our Jewish
students have no place at Harvard and will never go unchallenged."
Let's just bring in Matt Egan now to discuss this. Matt, I know this has just broken in the last ten minutes or so, but that -- what she's saying
now is what she failed to do on a consistent basis during that congressional hearing. I think the question for her and for the other two
presidents is, are the apologies now in hindsight, enough?
MATT EGAN, CNN REPORTER: Yes Claudia, that is -- sorry, Julia, that is the big question here at Claudine Gay, the Harvard president, coming out and
apologizing. She's going further than what we heard from the UPenn President Liz Magill, as Magill tried to clarify her testimony.
But I don't think that she actually came out right with an apology. Claudine Gay is going further here. But these presidents of the
universities, they do remain under significant pressure. This was a four- hour or so hearing in Congress. And it really all boiling down to just a few minutes where the university leaders, they struggle to answer what a
lot of people thought would have been a simple question.
And that's why they're under fire. And you know, the University of Pennsylvania, which is one of the most prestigious schools in America,
there have been a whole series of developments in just the last 36 hours that point to significant pressure building on the leadership there.
We heard from six members of Congress from Pennsylvania, calling on the school to fire Liz Magill. The Warden board of advisors, which is basically
a who-is-who list of power players and business, they called for the school to have an immediate leadership change.
And for the first time, the former U.S. Ambassador, Jon Huntsman, coming out and saying that the school needs a leadership change. Let me read you
what Huntsman told me. He said, and I'm quoting, "we are anchored to the past until the trustees step up and completely cut ties with current
leadership", full stop.
"At this point, it's not even debatable, just a simple IQ test." So, strong words there. Julia, it's clear that the University of Pennsylvania in
particular is in a full-blown crisis right now. What's less clear is whether or not the school will decide that Liz Magill is the person that
they want to lead it out of this crisis.
CHATTERLEY: Yes, Matt Egan. We'll watch this space, but things clearly still fast moving. Will this apology be enough? Matt Egan there, thank you.
OK, still to come tonight, it's been nearly 80 days since the last one, but a new missile attack launched over Ukraine. We have a live report on the
latest there, next.
CHATTERLEY: Welcome back. For the first time in 79 days, a significant barrage of cruise missiles were aimed at Ukraine. It also comes at a moment
when Western allies debate the future of financial aid to the nation. The air raid happened early Friday in the capital city of Kyiv. Military
officials say it lasted almost two hours, but all the missiles were destroyed. Some homes were damaged as a result though of falling debris.
Joining us now is Chief International Security Correspondent Nick Paton Walsh. Nick, it's tough to call this a coincidence, the increase in attacks
versus the challenges of funding and supplies that we know are dwindling for Ukraine.
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes, unclear if there is actually a connection between one and the other, but it
certainly plays, I think, on Ukrainian fears that have been sort of voiced by the White House that if indeed there is an issue with U.S. funding in
the weeks or months ahead, we don't have great transparencies to how much money is basically left in the kitty, but indeed if there is an issue with
the funding, that could impact the air defenses that have often been U.S. supply that protect Ukrainian cities.
At dawn, 19 cruise missiles were fired, that's different to the drones and other missiles that have made up the bulk of the attacks over the past
month. The attacks have been relentless, make no mistake about it, but the cruise missiles, 19 of them, Ukraine says, they took 14 of them down. Five
essentially moving on to hit targets in multiple cities across the east, some dead, some injured, those numbers still really being collated. And
Kharkiv, an eastern city, hit by a separate barrage of S-300 missiles. The fear really being that we might be seeing with these cruise missiles that
some thought Russia had a finite supply, but Russia appears to have got the hands on many more of, they might be heralding another series of attacks
against Ukrainian critical infrastructure. That was a hallmark of last winter, the bitter weather has now set in and potentially this could be
Moscow trying to make civilian life here yet more complex.
The front lines to some degree static, not moving with the ferocity Ukraine had hoped to see over the summer, Russia claiming small, very costly
victories around the eastern town of Avdiivka potentially. But the biggest fear here is to exactly whether or not Western support will continue to be
steadfast during winter.
In which Vladimir Putin seems to be having survived the extraordinary setbacks of the Wagner coup of the summer and some of the military losses
we've seen over the past year, Julia.
CHATTERLEY: Nick Paton Walsh, thank you for now. Now, as Nick was saying, the debate over the future of further military aid to Ukraine has become a
contentious issue in the United States. Joining us now is some insight into the former commanding general of the U.S. Army Europe, Lieutenant General
Ben Hodges. Thank you so much for your time.
This subject has become a political football between the Democrats and the Republicans, in part at least because it's also tied to funding and the
challenges of the border war with Mexico. But it's also only possible to do that surely because Americans don't understand the importance of providing
this funding to Ukraine.
BEN HODGES, FORMER COMMANDING GENERAL OF THE U.S. ARMY EUROPE: Well, Julia, you're right. If the president and the Congress could explain to the
American people why Ukraine feeding Russia is in our best interest, then I think most people would understand this is not an either/or, you know, our
border or Ukraine. This is all about American security and American prosperity. Russia's attack on Ukraine has jacked up food prices and energy
prices. It's disruptively reliable to these flows. And our prosperity is tied to European prosperity. So, this is about us, not some far off
regional border dispute.
CHATTERLEY: Yes, and that's the point that the president and this administration has connected the dots on why this isn't just some far away
border dispute and that ultimately it could mean American soldiers on the ground or involved, if indeed the conflict spreads and NATO becomes
involved. I just don't see that coverage here at all, that understanding.
HODGES: Yes, well, unfortunately you're right. The Russians have made it clear that once they're done with Ukraine, then they're going to continue
on to what they consider their sphere of influence, which are NATO countries Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. And if that happens, then you
will have U.S. troops and other allies involved in a conflict. And it's not going to happen next year, but the Russians are on the path to rebuild
their devastating losses they've suffered so that they could be ready in another three or four years.
But, of course, what's happening here is not isolated, the Hamas attack on Israel was not a coincidence, that attack backed up by Iran, which is
Russia's best and really only ally, is a gift to the Kremlin. Hamas did in one day what Putin could not do in two years, which is to make us forget
about Ukraine. And so I think the West has got to demonstrate that we can get organized, that our combined political will, industrial capacity and
military capability that we can help Ukraine defeat Russia. We can help Israel defeat Hamas. We can deter Iran from escalation. And the Chinese are
watching very closely. If we can't do those things, then I think they could make a terrible miscalculation out and against Taiwan or in the South China
CHATTERLEY: I want to come back to the border point because I do think it's vital, particularly at this moment, but you've also made what I think is a
very important point on social media about the current challenges in Congress over this funding and that even just from a logistical point of
view, there's no quick fix for the challenges that we're seeing on the border, the southern border between Mexico and the United States, unlike
the situation in Ukraine where, if you release this funding, actually, the bang for the buck, for want of a better term will be instantaneous, unlike
the border wall situation, tying them with unfortunate for want of a better word.
HODGES: Yes, this is really a terrible situation. And of course, this sort of political wrangling in our Congress is oxygen for the Kremlin. The
Kremlin knows their only hope is to hold out long enough for the West to lose the will to keep going. So, that's why they continue to send hundreds
of their untrained soldiers to their death every day is just to keep grinding down Ukraine and drag the war out. And so when they say that the
U.S. Congress is unable to deliver the kind of aid that's required, that tells them that they're on the right track, that their strategy is going to
work a long war of attrition and they just have to hang in there a few more months and -- until the West loses the will.
Of course, our borders have to be secured. Of course we've got to have effective immigration policy. I'm originally from Florida. I know that
immigration is a huge issue, but to hold something like aid for Ukraine, which affects us also, a hostage in order to get very complex things done
in system, I think is --
It's unprofessional. It's unhelpful. And it is a gift to the Kremlin.
CHATTERLEY: Do you think the money comes through in the end? Do you think Congress finds a way around its differences and the politicization of this
HODGES: Yes, that's the tragic irony of this. There's actually large support in both Republicans and Democrats in the House in the Senate for
Ukraine, just like majority of Americans support helping Ukraine. Yes, I do think actually eventually this will get done. But the problem is the debate
that's going on right now, the way this is looking, the fact that people are not even sure if it's going to happen before the Congress goes on
recess, the damage is done and it exposes vulnerabilities that the Russians have demonstrated. They will continue to exploit the resources to cause to
the reinforced false narratives out there about what Ukraine is doing with the money, why do we care about them, that sort of thing. It's just really
unfortunate. And the U.S. Congress, I mean, the whole world watches what the U.S. does and right now people are shaking their head.
CHATTERLEY: Yes, that cracks in unity to your point as well as certainly read and perceived by less friendly nations. Lieutenant General Ben Hodges,
sir, thank you for your wisdom this evening.
Now Vladimir Putin will run to retain his seat as Russian President next year. He announced his candidacy at a military ceremony Friday, mentioning
that he'd considered stepping back before deciding he would run for reelection. If he were to win, as is obviously widely assumed, then he
would be in power until at least 2030.
And finally, crowds land the streets of Dublin to bid farewell to the lead singer of the band The Pogues, a horse drawn carriage carried Shane
MacGowan's coffin through Ireland's capital, draped in the Irish flag. Hoards of people celebrated his life, breaking into song throughout the
His funeral mass in County Tipperary was open to the public and attended by famous faces. McGowan died last week at the age of 65, having contended
with several health issues in recent years. He was perhaps best known for co-writing and singing The Christmas hit Fairytale of New York that was
recorded in 1987.
All right. Thanks for watching tonight. Stay with CNN. "CONNECTING AFRICA" is up next.