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Isa Soares Tonight

Netanyahu Faces Growing Calls for New Elections; Clock Ticking As Ukraine Aid is Stuck in U.S. Funding Fight; Avdivka's Desperate Fight As Russia Changes Tactics; U.S. Pres. Biden Struggles For More Ukraine Aid; NATO Warns West Needs To Be Prepared For War With Russia; Abortion Set To Be Major Issue For Presidential Election; Murder On The Dancefloor Back In The Limelight. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired January 19, 2024 - 14:00   ET



ISA SOARES, HOST, ISA SOARES TONIGHT: A very warm welcome to the show everyone, I'm Isa Soares. Tonight, the pressure builds on Israeli Prime

Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over his handling of the war in Gaza. We are live in Tel Aviv with the very latest for you.

Then the clock is ticking as U.S. aid to Ukraine remains stalled in Congress. Is this the last chance for funding before the 2024 presidential

election? We will explore that. Class and music revival for the 2001 hit, "Murder on the Dancefloor", I speak to Sophie Ellis-Bextor about how the

film "Saltburn" has catapulted her song into the limelight again.

But first this evening, he is under growing pressure both at home and abroad. But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is standing firm on

his handling of the war with Hamas and what might happen after that. He insists he won't settle for anything less than total victory. Those are his


Mr. Biden is also pushing back against the fundamental cornerstone of U.S. efforts to bring peace to the region. That is the establishment of a

Palestinian state. Have a listen.


BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, PRIME MINISTER, ISRAEL: The state of Israel must control the security of all the land, which is west of the Jordan river.

That is a truth that I am saying to our friends, the Americans, and have also blocked an attempt to force upon us a reality which will hurt the

security of Israel. Prime Minister in Israel must be able to say no, even to the closest of our friends.


SOARES: And a prominent member of Israel's war cabinet, says the public no longer has trust in Mr. Netanyahu's leadership. Former IDF Chief of Staff,

Gadi Eisenkot says the absolute defeat of Hamas is unrealistic. He's calling for new elections, so as former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak,

he warns that Mr. Netanyahu's war strategy risks alienating the U.S. and leaving Israel dealing with a quagmire in Gaza.

Let's get more on all these threads there. Our Jeremy Diamond is in Tel Aviv for us. And Jeremy, it's not the first time, is it? That we've heard

Benjamin Netanyahu rejecting the creation of a Palestinian state. Just put this, the timing of these comments into context. Who was he speaking to

there? Who was his audience?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean, his audience is a domestic political audience in Israel, he knows that as he faces the prospects of

re-election, that his poll numbers are way down, and that he's going to need that right-wing coalition in order to stay in power.

But the timing as it relates to the United States and an international audience is also extremely notable. And that's because over the last

several weeks or in particular, as the Secretary of State, Tony Blinken was here in Israel. What he was talking about and what he was pushing for was a

kind of using this war as an opportunity to not only create a Palestinian state, but also to put the state of Israel in a better position in the

region longer term.

Effectively reviving that notion of Israel-Saudi normalization of better integrating Israel into the region, all in the U.S.' views to provide more

security for the state of Israel. And yet, here is the Israeli Prime Minister once again, not for the first time as you noted, effectively

rejecting the creation of a Palestinian state, saying that in his view, it is at odds with the safety and the security of the state of Israel.

SOARES: Right, so what has been the reaction then from the White House? Because you're of course, you're our correspondent there in Tel Aviv, but

you're also being a correspondent at the White House. So you can give us the perspective. What will this mean in terms of relationship there with

President Biden. We know that both have spoken, do we have details of that call? Do we have a readout here, Jeremy?

DIAMOND: We don't yet have a readout, but just note the timing there. I mean, they haven't -- these two leaders haven't spoken in nearly a month,

and their first call since then comes just a couple of days after the Israeli Prime Minister makes these comments. And this call also comes in

the context of growing tensions between the Biden administration and the Israeli Prime Minister.

A growing sense of frustration that the Israeli Prime Minister isn't moving forward with a lot of the things that the United States has asked him to

do, whether that is the next phases of the war in Gaza, post-war governance, or you know, allowing more humanitarian aid into Gaza. There

are just so many things where these two leaders are increasingly at odds, and then you add to that this issue of the future of Gaza, the future

possibility of a Palestinian state.


And it really does put these two leaders on a collision course, but we should also note that the Israeli Prime Minister has more headaches perhaps

here domestically, as he is facing these comments from a member of his war cabinet effectively saying that there should be elections soon in this


Just a sense that those frictions that we know have long existed in this war cabinet, which did bring together members of the opposition with the

Israeli Prime Minister's government, that these tensions are really bubbling to the surface, and it comes at a time where many Israelis are

wondering whether these two goals of rescuing the hostages and destroying Hamas if they aren't perhaps at odds the longer this war goes on.

SOARES: Jeremy Diamond there for us in Tel Aviv. Thanks very much, Jeremy. Let's get more on all these trends. Gideon Levy was an adviser to Shimon

Perez, is a star columnist for "Haaretz", and he joins me now from Tel Aviv. Gideon, welcome to the show, great to have you here.

Let me start off really by getting your reaction to those comments from Prime Minister Netanyahu rejecting, of course, the creation as you heard

there from our correspondent of a two-state solution they have been received and -- by Netanyahu. And I wonder whether you are surprised by

those comments because as you've seen here, it is raising eyebrows in the West, but something we've heard before.

GIDEON LEVY, COLUMNIST, HAARETZ: How can someone be surprised -- this -- when Netanyahu in his last 15 years in office did anything possible to

prevent the possibility of creating a Palestinian state. So now, to wake up and to say, oh, how can he say it? In many ways, it is a slap in the face

of the Biden administration, and Biden personally, and I wonder if the United States will accept also this, because the Biden administration did

so much for Israel in this war.

And the only request was that the day after, we'll be also -- they offer a new beginning of a new thinking of a new trial to get to some kind of new

reality in the Middle East.

SOARES: Yes --

LEVY: And Netanyahu comes and say, forget about it. We will continue with the occupation. We will continue with the apartheid no matter what.

SOARES: So Gideon, help us understand then the timing of these comments. Why make that statement with that clarity now, given that what you have

said, we've heard some -- we've heard this time and time again from Netanyahu. Was this for domestic audience? Was this to appease the far-

right members of his party? Who was he speaking to here?

LEVY: Mainly, domestically, Netanyahu is very concentrated and focused now about keeping his base, keeping his government surviving. One hour later

after his declaration, there was a long interview with one of his rivals, Gadi Eisenkot; the former chief of staff, who really challenged him and he

knew that it's going to happen.

And therefore, he tried to put his cards on the table. Namely, no Palestinian state, no future, no prospects for any kind of new reality.

SOARES: OK, so then, does this vision then that he -- and this position of his rejection of a Palestinian state. Does this chime with the majority of

Israeli public opinion? Give us a sense of what the mood is right now.

LEVY: Unfortunately, the mood is still, and I say still supporting the continuous of the war. Most of the Israelis would like this war to continue

even though the results until now are rather poor. None of the goals was achieved, the bloodshed goes on, don't forget, Isa, that most of the

Israelis are not exposed to what's going on in Gaza, and have no clue what is the price that the people of Gaza, the innocent people of Gaza are


By the time we are talking now, there are more children killed and more women killed and more innocent men killed --

SOARES: Yes --

LEVY: That the Israelis are not exposed to it. So the mood is still to continue to punish Gaza for what happened on the 7th of October.

SOARES: I understand that, Gideon, but does Israeli public believe that the goal of this war is being achieved, or do they think that this

administration ought to be prioritizing that 100-plus hostages were still being held by Hamas.

LEVY: It reminds me of a gambler who goes to the casino and loses and loses. And the only thing that the next -- the next time, it would go

better, so he loses more and more. And that's I think the way that Israelis feel now. There's a very heavy atmosphere in Israel, people understand that

none of the goals were achieved.


But they wouldn't realize that continuing the war will make it even harder. They --

SOARES: Yes --

LEVY: Still believe that if we will hit more and kill more, we will achieve our goals, which in my view is very doubtful.

SOARES: Well, I'm glad you say that because we are starting to see some friction, I don't know if you agree with me, with members of his war

cabinet. A former IDF chief and member of Israel's war cabinet, Gadi Eisenkot says "the absolute defeat of Hamas is unrealistic." And then he

adds, Gideon, "the state of Israel is a democracy and needs to ask itself after such a serious event, how do we go forward with the leadership that

is responsible for such an absolute failure."

I mean, that to me is not resounding vote of confidence in his leadership. Is that something that you're feeling? Are you getting a sense of growing

calls for an election here as we've heard from former prime ministers?

LEVY: So, first of all, let's make things clear. Nobody, but nobody is calling to stop the war. And that's the clue. That's the core --

SOARES: Yes --

LEVY: Issue. You criticize Netanyahu. You think that you should stop the war for a while, just to release the hostages. But nobody from the cabinet

is calling to stop the war totally. Secondly, many -- I think the majority of Israelis and the polls show it, won't like to see this government

continuing. But in the same time, there is no sentiment to go for elections now because we are in the middle of a war and there's no time to go for


So, I don't see yet Netanyahu resigning or the pressure over Netanyahu strong enough to go for elections. He obviously will do anything possible

to prevent the elections because --

SOARES: Yes --

LEVY: In the polls -- in the polls, they show a very clear sentiment, most of the Israelis don't want to see Netanyahu in power, but they don't see

how can we do it now?

SOARES: This is such interesting and such important context and insight that you are providing us, Gideon. Given everything that you've just said,

that you've outlined, where does this put, U.S. and Israeli relations? U.S. is Israel's strongest ally?

How do you see that relationship with President Biden developing, given everything we've heard in the last 24 hours from Prime Minister Netanyahu.

LEVY: The experience stems us from the past that Israel can slap at the face of the administration, and the administration will not take any

measures. You know, Israel was told to believe that it can do almost whatever it was, the Americans will continue to support Israel blindly and

automatically and unconditionally.

I wonder if the Biden administration, which is maybe the most friendly administration that Israel had ever had, will understand that giving aid to

Israel is wonderful. But doing it in an unconditioned way -- Israelis makes me wonder what do you get out of it? Why to spend so much --

SOARES: Very --

LEVY: Money --

SOARES: Yes, and I mean, as we all know, the Trump administration, Gideon, was also very friendly, right? Let's not forget -- let's not forget that.

But it's -- I'm really grateful that you're on, you're the perfect voice for this, Gideon. Thank you very much, and I have a feeling that you and I

will be talking more often, Gideon Levy there for us in Tel Aviv, thank you, Gideon, great to see you.

LEVY: Thank you, Isa. Thank you, Isa.

SOARES: Thank you. Well, it's still very difficult to get information and footage, I should say, out of Gaza because of a near-total communications

blackout that's now lasted more than a week. But fierce fighting is reported around the largest function hospital in Khan Yunis.

A Palestinian news agency says the Nasser Hospital came under heavy bombardment, killing at least 29 people. Also today, the Palestine Red

Crescent said Israeli drones fired on people at different hospital in the city injuring several. The IDF says its forces raided a Hamas military

posting in Khan Yunis without giving a specific location.

Nada Bashir is following developments tonight for us from Beirut. And Nada, what more do we know at this stage about this assault on Khan Yunis? And in

particular, what's happening in the ground around the Nasser Hospital?

NADA BASHIR, CNN REPORTER: Well, just as you mentioned, Isa, it is now incredibly difficult to get information out of Gaza, particularly southern

Gaza, as this communications blackout continues. This is the longest communications blackout that we have seen imposed on Gaza from the outset

of this war.

But of course, we have seen that reporting from Palestinian state media in Gaza, reporting around the situation, facing the Al-Nasser Hospital, as you

said, the largest hospital in the southern region of Khan Yunis. But it is also one of the few remaining, still able to provide treatment for

patients, although they had very limited treatment.


And it is also somewhere -- where the U.N. says some 7,000 Palestinians have been sheltering. Now, earlier in the week, we did see military

vehicles around the Al-Nasser Hospital before withdrawing. We have seen Israeli bombarding and airstrikes edging closer and closer to the vicinity

of the hospital, and that has shown concerns and fears for some time now.

But of course, today, we have heard according to Palestinian state media that the Al-Nasser Hospital in the early hours of this morning came under

heavy bombardment by Israeli military vehicles, and that is said to have stormed the hospital and also local residential buildings in the vicinity

as well, which are said to have come under intense shelling as well.

As you mentioned, at least, 29 people are said to have been killed, it is very likely that, that number could continue to rise, considering the fact

that we often see many are still buried beneath the rubble of those buildings destroyed in both airstrikes and shelling attacks.

So that is a huge point, of course, there. And we have heavy Israeli military issuing a statement earlier today, saying that the Israeli

soldiers on the ground conducted a raid on what they have described as a Hamas military post, a place that was according to the IDF, used as a

training camp and a meeting point for senior Hamas officials, no further details around that or the precise location.

But of course, there is mounting concern, pause, as the Israeli military begins to deepen and shift its focus away from northern Gaza, and now more

specifically on southern Gaza in this next phase of its military operation, considering the fact that as we know, the vast majority of Gaza's 2.3

million civilian population is now displaced, internally displaced.

The vast majority of them now crammed in that southern region, and of course, as we have heard, those repeated warnings from you and officials,

there is simply nowhere else for them to turn.

SOARES: Let me get what you're hearing from this statement that we have seen in the last 14 minutes or so, Nada, from a U.N. Human Rights officials

who says he's met with Palestinian men who were detained by Israeli security forces. You then go on to describe they're being beaten,

blindfolded and held for weeks in Israeli detention. What more are you hearing?

BASHIR: Look, you say late December, CNN, ourselves reported on that video which emerged -- which appeared to show dozens of Palestinians who had been

detained by the Israeli military, stripped, blindfolded, their hands tied, many of them seen in a stadium in central Gaza, places stressed, positions

for an extended period of time.

And that certainly raised concern at the time, the U.N. calling for a clear investigation into those detentions. Now, of course, we are hearing again

from an official from the U.N.'s Human Rights Office around the mistreatment allegedly faced by Palestinians detained by the Israeli


This U.N. official says he met with Palestinian men in Gaza who recounted the stories of ill-treatment of abuse, of being stripped, blindfolded and

detained some of them for multiple weeks under Israeli detention, in conditions which this U.N. official has said could very well amount to


Now, that of course, will be a huge point of concern for the U.N. Human Rights Office as well as others. Of course, we have previously heard from

the Israeli military with regards to the detention of Palestinians in Gaza. Today, the Israeli military has responded to "CNN's" question on this,

says that they detain people in accordance with international law.

These are individuals they believed to have had a connection potentially with Hamas. Previously, the Israeli military has said that it strips

individuals that are detained to ensure that they are not carrying explosives. But of course, as we've seen in the video which emerged --

SOARES: Yes --

BASHIR: In late December, many of these individuals appear to have been stripped for an extended period of time. That is suddenly a huge concern.

We have repeatedly now been hearing from U.N. officials calling for a long-enough humanitarian ceasefire, not only to allow aid in personally, to

allow independent U.N. investigators to get into assess the situation, and of course, carry out this crucial investigations into these allegations.

SOARES: Yes, we all remember seeing those videos very clearly. Nada Bashir for us there in Beirut, great to see you, Nada, thank you very much. Well,

a Houthi spokesman is promising safe passage for Russians as well as Chinese ships in the Red Sea. He told a pro-Kremlin media outlet, rebels

pose no threat to countries that are not western allies.

He says attacks on Israeli ships, all those of its allies will continue in an effort to get Israel to quote, "stop the carnage in Gaza". Well, in

Yemen's capital, a massive demonstration denouncing U.S. for recent airstrikes on Houthi targets. Thousands turned out in Sana'a, have a look

at the images, waving Palestinian flags and holding anti-Israel banners in a second straight day of protests.

The U.S. has carried out six strikes on Houthi targets in Yemen just over the past ten days, including in fact, one today, in the hope of stopping

their attacks on vessels in the Red Sea, something that we know U.S. President Joe Biden admits. We played you that sound yesterday on the show,

hasn't worked so far, but they will continue doing it.


Still to come tonight, the World Economic Forum has wrapped up in Davos, we'll take a look at the issues that dominated discussions. Our Richard

Quest will be here next.


SOARES: The World Economic Forum is wrapping up, two big issues have dominated this year's meetings in Davos. That's the ongoing wars in Gaza

and Ukraine. But the U.S. race for president was also a top of mind for many. The president of the European Central Bank responding to a question

about the possibility of a new term for former President Donald Trump and how Europe should prepare. This was a response. Have a listen.


CHRISTINE LAGARDE, PRESIDENT, EUROPEAN CENTRAL BANK: The best defense, if that's the way you want to look at it, is attack. And to attack properly,

you need to be strong at home.

So being strong means having a strong, deep market, having a real single market, and we should be expecting some suggestions by Enrico Letta; former

prime minister of Italy who is in charge of producing this report on how we can deepen and improve the functioning of that single market, which is a

huge economic zone in the world, but which is not completely a single market yet as many CEOs, I'm sure experience on a daily basis.


SOARES: Well, Richard Quest was in Davos and he's now here with us. Go ahead, you're going to say --

RICHARD QUEST, CNN BUSINESS EDITOR-AT-LARGE: Well, everybody is focused on President Lagarde saying that, you know, it was -- it was -- it was going

to be a bad thing or --

SOARES: Yes --

QUEST: It was a risk to the values, it was a down thing. What she's basically saying, and I heard this again and again and again from people

though, the head of the Bundesbank said --

SOARES: Yes --

QUEST: It's a clarion call. Donald Trump is going to do what he's going to do if he gets elected. And it will not be in accordance with values of

Europe, and Europe needs to prepare with the practicalities --

SOARES: And are they preparing from what you're hearing from CEOs, from business leaders? What are they telling you?

QUEST: They would say, they need to prepare regardless. What President Lagarde is talking about just there, the single market deepening it, the

markets, et cetera, she would say, we have been negligent, not doing it until now. Now, we need to do it because if we don't do it, we'll be in a

worse position.

SOARES: What's Trump talk of the town in Davos this year?

QUEST: It was sort of the elephant in the room. People would say one thing behind your back and another thing to your face. I mean, I have to say

that's not unique at Davos --


QUEST: But it was a lot more prevalent.

SOARES: This was interesting. Jamie Dimon, of course, the CEO of JPMorgan --

QUEST: Absolutely --

SOARES: Him and Trump have had quite a history together said -- but just take a step back and be honest.


He was kind of right about NATO -- talking about Trump. He was kind of right about immigration. "He grew the economy quite well", taxes from --

worked. Trump was also right about some of his criticism of China. I wonder, I mean, if this is what we're hearing from the CEO of JPMorgan, how

do business leaders feel?

QUEST: Yes, but --

SOARES: That was the quote from --

QUEST: Yes, but he was right on what --

SOARES: Take us to -- right about NATO --

QUEST: Right, so NATO --

SOARES: And by immigration --

QUEST: NATO's Sec-Gen said to me --

SOARES: Yes --

QUEST: Yes, Trump was right, and Europe is now paying its largest share. The question is whether Trump has a philosophical thing against -- next


SOARES: Immigration on as well --

QUEST: Look at this, look at the Rwanda fiasco in the United Kingdom, look at the difficulties that people are --

SOARES: The United States, yes --

QUEST: So, there's an element of, he's right on the issue, it is the solution that might be difficult. Is that any worse than Rwanda?


QUEST: Solution --

SOARES: Yes, and what -- you had some U.K., British voices on this.

QUEST: Oh, yes, Luke Cameron(ph).

SOARES: What did he say --

QUEST: Well, he just defended --

SOARES: Do they think they're doing the right thing?

QUEST: Oh, look, I mean, absolutely.

SOARES: Yes --

QUEST: Defense was -- it wasn't --

SOARES: Economy quite well, he grew the economy quite well.

QUEST: Yes, he also had the pandemic and that's all --

SOARES: Tax reform worked, he said --

QUEST: Oh, I disagree on that. I disagree on that --

SOARES: What about China?

QUEST: I mean, his tax reform on corporate taxation --

SOARES: Yes --

QUEST: And he did a very mean-spirited tax reform to pit those states like California and New York, which are of course, primarily democratic in the

way they vote.

SOARES: So, but China. China, they think that he was --

QUEST: Well, he did --

SOARES: Tough enough on China?

QUEST: He was very tough on China, but he introduced sanctions which arguably didn't work because it hit the American consumer more than it hit

the Chinese. But he did set an agenda. I think that you know, you, me, every single person who covers this over the election has to go back to the

square point of the beginning and say, all right, what is it that the American people are seeing in a Donald Trump presidency and candidacy.

SOARES: And I think that's the point he's making.


SOARES: Correct?


SOARES: Why they're voting, why they're backing him, why some are backing him, I should say.

QUEST: Brian Moynihan, Bank of America said to me, look, I've got 66 million customers, 66 million. So you've got to sort of say there are views

that people have, but some others may not agree with, but that they are valid in the context.

SOARES: I'm being told to wrap up, very quickly --

QUEST: Oh --

SOARES: Ukraine. How much --

QUEST: Oh --

SOARES: Space, room, oxygen was there for Ukraine?

QUEST: I can say this in one sentence -- all three. Firstly, the Europeans believe they'll get the money through.

SOARES: Even though Hungary may --

QUEST: Oh, they have -- they have so finagled, shinagled(ph), they are going -- you know, I said to one person at point, I said, listen, you know,

it's like putting the money in the tea pot or down the back of the sofa.

SOARES: Yes --

QUEST: Yes, where are you going to find it from? But they'll find it. President von der Leyen is ready for it, she's got plan B, she doesn't want

to use it, but that's Europe.

SOARES: And what's plan B?

QUEST: Plan B is that each country has to pay it themselves in a very complicated, very convoluted --

SOARES: And that's something they're trying to avoid clearly.

QUEST: Completely. Sorry, have I gone --

SOARES: No, that was not three words or three sentences, but I appreciate it.

QUEST: You bet, I believe so.


SOARES: Nothing has changed, thank you very much, Richard.

QUEST: Good to be back --

SOARES: On the theme of Trump, three of Britain's most senior diplomatic veterans have warned that another Trump presidency will be a major security

risk to the U.K. I'll be exploring this in much more detail, in fact, on the show on Tuesday with Simon McDonald; former Permanent Undersecretary at

the U.K.'s foreign office.

He is one of those warning of the risks. You do not want to miss that interview. Still to come tonight, thousands of anti-abortion protesters are

rallying in Washington D.C. We'll have a live look at the 2024 march for live events. That is next.

Plus, I chat -- I chat with singer, songwriter, Sophie Ellis-Bextor about what's brought a two-decade old single back to the top of the charts,

"Murder on the Dancefloor", if you remember that, that's next.




SOARES: Well, an official in Western Russia is reporting new drone attacks from Ukraine. The governor of Russia's Bryansk region says as a drone was

shot down. Its munitions fell onto a fuel depot, setting all tanks on fire. This comes as Ukraine's defenses continue to fend off multiple Russian


CNN's Frederik Pleitgen has a story. And we have to warn you that some of the images in his report may be disturbing.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): It's a site Ukrainian troops in Avdivka see all too often, a massive Russian

armored assault force coming right at them. The Russian infantry moves with virtually no cover. The Ukrainians call these meat assaults because the

Russian troops have virtually no chance of survival as Ukrainian drones hunt them down.

They assault with a large number of personnel, the head of the drone unit that filmed the videos tells me. Assault after assault, non-stop. If we

kill 40 to 70 of them with drones in the day, the next day they renew their forces and continue to attack.

It's been going on for several months as Russian President Vladimir Putin seems hell-bent on taking Avdivka. Russian vehicles under artillery fire as

they get close to Ukrainian positions. The ground littered with dead and dying Russian soldiers trying to overwhelm the Ukrainian defenses here. The

Ukrainians say they're holding back most of the assaults but are outgunned and outmanned.

We need more people, more military, more equipment. We need more ammunition, more drones, he says. Unfortunately, we don't have the amount

needed to win. We need them a lot.

And the Russians not facing the same shortages are dropping massive amounts of ordinance on the Ukrainians, everything from artillery to heavy guided

aerial bombs. One of the key defense points, a massive Coke plant at the edge of town. And that's where these guys are setting up their defenses.

Under constant fire, elite snipers from Ukraine's Omega Special Forces. Here, they have the cover to hit advancing Russian soldiers. Their anger

visible in the hoodies they wear for our interview.

With the weapons we have at distances up to 1,300 meters, the effectiveness of our work is 90 percent, he says. For that kind of precision, they need

to keep their weapons in pristine condition all the time, he says.


At the beginning, it seemed the Russians could encircle Avdivka very quickly, he says. But as we see, Avdivka has been ours for three months and

we're holding on. Holding Avdivka for now, even as assault after assault eats away at Ukrainian defenses.

Fred Pleitgen, CNN near Avdivka, Ukraine.


SOARES: Meanwhile, U.S. President Joe Biden's fight for more Ukraine aid is still struggling to gain traction. President Biden continues to urge top

lawmakers to approve his $60 billion -- billion-dollar aid request. But we are told the White House is very aware that time is running out for any new

U.S. military funding before the 2024 Presidential Election.

Pentagon officials have not held a single meeting since last month to decide what to send Ukraine because there is no money to fund the aid


CNN's Natasha Bertrand joins us now with more from the Pentagon. And Natasha, only this week we heard that President Biden had met with House

and Senate lawmakers to discuss this really what was at stake here for Ukraine. Has that helped move the needle at all? What are you hearing?

NATASHA BERTRAND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER: It's really unclear at this point just what direction lawmakers are going to take this. It's

totally unclear whether there's even going to be a way to avoid a government shutdown, let alone to fund Ukraine with $60 billion in military

aid. But the president did emphasize to the lawmakers that visited the White House just a few days ago that without this money, the Ukrainians

will probably run out and run out soon of artillery ammunition as well as air defenses, two really key capabilities that the Ukrainians need, of

course, to fend off the Russians.

So, the question now is whether Ukrainians -- whether the lawmakers here are going to be swayed by this. It doesn't appear at this moment that there

is a lot of momentum moving forward in that direction. But you know, the U.S. has emphasized repeatedly, you know, in conversations with us,

officials have said that if they don't get this funding, then that really is going to be to the Russians' advantage, that the Ukrainians likely are

not going to get money beyond this $60 billion, and even if they do get it in that military funding more this year. In other words, before the

election and Donald Trump may be reelected. And he has said many times that he does not believe that the U.S. should be funding the war in Ukraine.

And so there is a fear here that this is really the last chance that the administration has to get this military assistance and funding to the

Ukrainians before the 2024 election and before next year.

SOARES: Natasha Bertrand there for us at the Pentagon. Thanks, Natasha.

And it's not just Ukraine worried about funding. Europe too is warning that the threat posed by Vladimir Putin is serious. Germany's defense minister

saying today that an attack on NATO country could be possible in the next five to eight years, and that Germany can't go all in on aid to Ukraine

because it has to think about itself. A top NATO admiral echoed that sentiment. Have a listen.


ADM. ROB BAUER, CHAIR, MILITARY COMMITTEE OF NATO: Not everything is going to be hunky-dory in the next 20 years. I'm not saying it is going wrong

tomorrow, but we have to realize it's not a given that we are in peace. And that's why we have the plans. That's why we are preparing for a conflict

with Russia and the terror groups. If it comes to it, if they attack us -- we're not seeking any conflict, but if they attack us, we have to be ready.


SOARES: Strong words there. Now, there are just four days to go before the Republican presidential primary in New Hampshire, a contest that are

shaping up to be a pivotal one for Nikki Haley. At a CNN town hall, Haley ramped up her attacks on Donald Trump, tying him to U.S. President Joe

Biden. She tried to frame both as threats to progress as well as national unity.

The three candidates are campaigning across the state today, though Ron DeSantis is already looking ahead to the South Carolina primary that's

happening next month. He shifted his focus there, hoping to jumpstart his campaign.

And this just into CNN, in fact, South Carolina Senator Tim Scott, a former presidential candidate, is expected to endorse Donald Trump tonight. The

endorsement is a blow to Nikki Haley who appointed him, if you remember, to his Senate seat when she was serving as the state's governor. So, U.S.

Senator Tim Scott is expected to endorse former President Trump tonight.

While, abortion rights are said to be a major issue, as you know, for the U.S. presidential election, right now the annual anti-abortion March For

Life event is happening at the U.S. National Mall. Prominent Republican members of Congress are there, including House Speaker Mike Johnson.

And next Tuesday, President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris will attend their first joint campaign event in Virginia. Biden and Harris will

focus the rally on supporting reproductive rights, I should say, including abortion.

Gabe Kohn joins us now live for look at the March For Life rally. And Gabe, I mean, it is kind of -- it looks bitterly cold where you are, but still

there are many large crowds behind you. Give us a sense of the mood.


GABE COHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, as you said, it is a massive crowd here braving the snow and the frigid temperatures here in Washington.

What you're seeing behind me is really the tail end of the March For Life. A huge crowd gathered now outside the Supreme Court, the site of course, of

the Dobbs decision less than two years ago that overturned Roe.

And it's been really interesting listening to the language of the organizers and the speakers that we heard from on the National Mall just a

little while ago, who really seem to change their language this year given the political moment heading into an election where many expect that

abortion is going to be on the ballot now in 2024.

The theme really tells the story. The theme of this year's March For Life was With Every Woman For Every Child, putting the mother first. And that's

what we heard in a lot of the speeches of focus on health care and access to resources for mothers. And a big part of that it seems speaking with

organizers and some of the anti-abortion organizations that took part in this, was that they know that this has been a losing issue here over the

past couple of years.

We have seen several referendums put to voters and go in the favor of abortion access, pro-choice initiatives even in red states like Ohio and

Kansas and Kentucky. Even House Speaker Mike Johnson spoke a little while ago during the program for the March For Life. He had really tempered

language. He didn't talk about restrictions or the possibility of any sort of national abortion ban, federal abortion ban. Instead, the only

legislation that he even referenced was about health care for mothers, access for mothers.

And so again, it speaks to how anti-abortion activists may be framing their messaging heading into this election where as you mentioned, the Biden

administration, the President, Vice President heading out to take this case to the voters traveling around the country to talk about access to women's

reproductive health care. They believe it's going to be a winning issue for them on the Democratic side, Isa.

SOARES: Gabe for us there in Washington, D.C. Thanks very much, Gabe.

And we have some breaking news just coming in, in fact, just to CNN. New court documents show that actor, Alec Baldwin, has been indicted by a grand

jury. That's in connection, if you remember, with a shooting there for on the set of the movie Rust. Now, Baldwin was indicted in the state of New

Mexico on two counts of involuntary manslaughter.

The October 2021 incident on a film set killed cinematographer, Halyna Hutchins, who was struck by a live round of ammunition fired from a prop

gun held by Baldwin. Baldwin's attorney has previously said his client is not guilty. Last year, if you remember, special prosecutors dismissed the

same charges against Baldwin.

So, new documents come in showing that Alec Baldwin has been indicted by a grand jury. Of course, we'll keep across this breaking news. As soon as

there's more developments for you, of course, will bring that to your attention.

Still to come though, tonight.


SOPHIE ELLIS-BEXTOR, SINGER: Well, firstly, what's happened with the song is absolutely -- it's bonkers, but it's really magic.


SOARES: More from our interview with Sophie Ellis-Bextor. We talk all things Saltburn, TikTok and the resurgence of her single Murder On The




SOARES: It was widely dismissed as a silly app for Gen Z and younger, but now the power of TikTok and other social apps are taking the music industry

by storm. TikTok has catapulted a multitude of songs from either retirement or obscurity into the limelight. And younger generations are connecting

with them.

Movies and TV shows are adapting as well. All the songs like Natasha Bedingfield's Unwritten appeared in the new movie Anyone But You and Kate

Bush's Running Up That Hill. Remember that one? Featured in Stranger Things.

The latest in the craze, 2001 hit Murder On The Dancefloor. Have a look at this.



SOARES: After featuring in the movie Saltburn, the track has risen to number 58 on the Billboard 100. I spoke with a song star, Sophie Sophie

Ellis-Bextor, about the resurgence of her pop hit. Here's our conversation.


SOARES: You're single that I grew up with, I remember very well, hit top of the chart back in 2001 right here in the U.K. It was a huge hit here.

You've been with a huge hit in Europe becoming one of Europe's most played songs. But it never really cracked the United States. We're now what? 21

years later, Saltburn has now reintroduced it to a new audience in the U.S. hitting 58 I believe on the top Billboard charts. How does it feel to be

back? This comeback, how does it feel?

ELLIS-BEXTOR: Well, firstly, what's happened with this song is absolutely - - it's bonkers but it's really magic. Every once in a while, you know, something has happened in my -- in my career where I'm aware I'm in the

middle of something really unique. I'm just making sure I'm having the most fun really because it's really special. It's not something that, you know,

happens every day. So, I think it's pretty glorious but also like, it's made me laugh quite a lot which sounds really strange.

But you know, it's a song I've got such a long-standing relationship with. And then to have people now interviewing me from places, countries I

haven't been to for a long time or America is just there. And they're saying, you know, tell us about the songs. And I'm like, it's so strange.

I've answered these questions like a really long time ago. But I'm very happy. It's a good friend of mine, you know. It's a good pal luckily.

SOARES: Just explain to our viewers who may or may not have seen the movie how, Sophie, you were introduced, how you were approached to by the

director of Saltburn, Emerald Fennell. And how -- did you know how your song was going to be used in what scene?

ELLIS-BEXTOR: Yes. So, you know, no spoilers for anyone who hasn't seen it, but I knew very little actually. I knew it was Emerald Fennell written and

directed so I knew it was in safe hands. And I knew the film was called Saltburn and that they wanted to use all of the song for a scene where some

would be dancing to it with nothing on. A bit of naked dancing to Murder on the Dancefloor. And I said yes straight away. I thought that sounds like

fun and I kind of want to see that. So, yes, have the song.

SOARES: And I mean, the successful Saltburn, I think I saw that it became Prime Video's number one film kind of streaming over Christmas, I would

have guess has introduced you a whole new audience over here. I mean, your song in particular has had 1.1 million total creations. That's people using

your song with their video, including I saw a video that you did yourself.


SOARES: Just hot does it feel to introduce -- to have all these new and younger listeners, people who I suspect won't even born when that single

came out?

ELLIS-BEXTOR: The thing is about pop music is when you put a song out into the world, you're starting a conversation. So, every time someone likes one

of the songs I've done, takes it to a party, has an experience with it, it's like you -- you know, the conversation continues. So, I think it's

actually really incredible to have new people having a relationship with it now because it evolves my relationship with the song too.

So, I sort of see more about the song when they reflect it back to me. So, I love all that and I really enjoy watching the TikToks. I mean, it's also,

again, funny to me because I have a nearly 15-year-old who's on TikTok all the time. So, I have to keep reassuring him that this moment will pass.

He's like --

SOARES: I mean, what kind --

ELLIS-BEXTOR: -- very health mix of proud and mortified.


SOARES: It is absolutely wonderful. It is that, you know, you've got a younger generation, obviously, following on like this. We've also seen a

resurgence that you would have seen in terms of older songs. I mean, Kate Bush's Running Up That Hill, right? That was a Stranger Things. And now

there's Natasha Beddingfield, I've been told, Unwritten, that it's going to appear in the movie, Anyone But You.

I mean, this is great. This -- I suppose it's -- this younger generation connecting to these older songs in this very modern app.

ELLIS-BEXTOR: Yes, yes, that's true. But then I think that app and streaming has meant that the record shop is open all hours and it stops

everything. So, you can just choose any song from any era that you think speaks to you for that moment.


ELLIS-BEXTOR: Excuse me. But I think that's what's magic and actually really wonderful about streaming.

SOARESD: Yes, I wonder -- and I wonder, you know, what this uptick, these streams and these views, the million views or so, what that means, Sophie,

in terms of royalties. Are you receiving any royalties of the back of this or new opportunities popping up now?

ELLIS-BEXTOR: As I'm sure you're aware from artists like Taylor Swift and new artists like Ray, the way that these things are set up is not to

benefit the artist. But that's not where my emphasis lies because this is a glorious thing with an old song. I've already had so many adventures with

my own dance floor. I'm already lucky enough to be releasing -- I released my seventh album last year. So, for me, it's about continuing the story.


SOARES: It's so wonderful to speak to Sophie Ellis-Bextor. Our thanks to her and congratulations. It was great to see Murder On The Dancefloor again

at the top of the chart. It was a classic when I was growing up.

We are going to take a short break. We're back after this.



SOARES: Finally tonight, Japan has successfully landed a craft on the moon, but it's losing power. The Moon Sniper robotic explorer successfully landed

on the moon's surface, but the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency says the mission may have to end early. The spacecraft's solar cell is not

generating enough electricity. There is speculation that's because the spacecraft is not facing its intended direction. Still, Japan is now the

fifth country ever to successfully execute a controlled landing on the moon.

And it comes as the first all European private astronaut mission is headed to the International Space Station. SpaceX launched mission AX3 on

Thursday. Four astronauts are on board, including the first person from Turkey to go to space. The team will be on the space -- on the station for

about two weeks to see across all those developments for you.

That does it for me for tonight. Do stay right here. "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" with Richard Quest is up next. Have a wonderful weekend. I shall see you

Monday. Bye-bye.