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Isa Soares Tonight

Alexei Navalny's Mother Says She's Seen Her Son's Body; Ukraine Hits Training Ground For Russian Troops; Foreign Ministers Of G20 Gather In Rio De Janeiro; Russia's War On Ukraine; Women In Ukraine Calling For Demobilization After Nearly Two Years Of War; West Bank Shooting; After A Fatal Incident, Israeli Minister Requests More Settlement Units; As Famine Becomes A Real Issue, Israel Continues Strikes In Gaza; Risk Of Famine In Gaza Gets Worse Every Day; MSF: Delays And Discussions At The U.N. Security Council While Gazan Civilians Die; Biden Met With Wife And Daughter Of Late Russian Opposition Leader, Alexei Navalny, In California; Blinken Speaking At The G20 Meeting Of Foreign Ministers. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired February 22, 2024 - 14:00   ET



ISA SOARES, HOST, ISA SOARES TONIGHT: A very warm welcome to the show, everyone, I'm Isa Soares. Tonight, Alexei Navalny's mother says she's

finally seen her son's body. This is just moments ago, we learned what officials say the cause of death was. We have all the details for you.

Then Moscow claims to have captured another village in the east of Ukraine as Kyiv's forces strike a Russian training ground. We have the very latest

on that battlefield. Plus, with no end in sight for soldiers on the frontlines, I speak to one of the Ukrainian military wives calling for

change. That and much more just ahead.

But first, we are tracking breaking news out of Russia where a spokesperson for Alexei Navalny says his death is being blamed on natural causes

according to Russian officials in a medical report. It has been six days since Navalny died in the Penal Colony north of the Arctic Circle.

And his mother says she's finally seen her son's body. In a video, Lyudmila Navalnaya says she was secretly taken to the morgue on Wednesday, but was

warned by Russian investigators that quote, "time is working against you." She says those investigators are now threatening her into agreeing to a

secret funeral, otherwise, they are vowing to do something with the body. Have a listen.


LYUDMILA NAVALNAYA, ALEXEI NAVALNY'S MOTHER (through translator): Yesterday evening, they secretly took me to the morgue where they showed me

Alexei. The investigators claim that they know the cause of the death, that they have all the medical and legal documents ready, which I saw, and I

signed the medical death certificate.

According to the law, they should have given me Alexei's body right away, but they haven't done it yet. Instead, they blackmailed me and set

conditions for where, when and how Alexei should be buried. It is illegal.


SOARES: Well, the Kremlin critic's death continues to spark defiance in Russia. Protesters are gathering in cities expressing their outrage,

monitoring groups report hundreds have been detained at memorials. Our chief global affairs correspondent Matthew Chance joins me now from Moscow.

And Matthew, some relief, I think it's fair to say for Alexei Navalny's mother, who has finally been able to see her son's body after what? Six

days or so. But this comes I understand with strings attached. What more do you know?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CHIEF GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, I mean like you just said, relief that she's seen the body. She's been up there for the

past five days or so, trying to get access to the remains of her son. But she's also clearly very distressed because the authorities have not

released those remains to her.

And she says they've attached these conditions on the release of the body to the family so that it can be buried. The allegation is and what she's

saying in this video message is that the authorities want her to commit to a secret funeral, which is not going to be public, which people -- well,

she said that we can't say goodbye to Alexei Navalny at that funeral.

And the reason for that, I think is that this is obviously an intensely political event for Russia, for the Russian authorities. Alexei Navalny is

someone who in life was able to attract and draw tens of thousands of people onto the streets because of his anti-corruption campaign. And the

fear of the Russian authorities may well be that if it's a public funeral, that could attract another kind of outpouring of support for Alexei

Navalny, and of criticism to the -- of the authorities.

And it is something that they may well want to avoid. And I've spoken to the Kremlin earlier today about these allegations made by Lyudmila

Navalnaya, Alexei Navalny's mom, and they've said, look, we haven't heard the comments. And so, we -- the remarks and the allegations we can't

comment on them.

Separately, the press spokesperson of the late opposition leader, Kira Yarmysh has tweeted that the death certificate has on it natural causes.

And so, you know, the mother confirms she'd seen the death certificate, the spokesperson of Navalny saying that the cause of death on that death

certificate has been designated as natural causes.

And I expect that's not something that supporters of Alexei Navalny or the election Navalny campaigned and his family are going to necessarily accept

at face value.


SOARES: Matthew Chance for us there in Moscow this hour. Thanks very much, Matthew. Well, U.S. President Joe Biden is sharpening his attacks on

Russian President Vladimir Putin as well as Donald Trump, using some rather spicy language behind closed doors. Last night, at a California fundraiser,

Biden criticized Trump's comments, comparing his legal troubles to the death of Alexei Navalny, telling the attendees, quote, "if I stood here 10

to 15 years ago and said all this, you'd all think I should be committed."

The U.S. president also slammed Mr. Putin, saying, quote, "we have a crazy SOB. That guy, Putin, others, and we always have to be worried about a

nuclear conflict." Here's how the Kremlin responded.


DMITRY PESKOV, SPOKESPERSON, KREMLIN (through translator): Such rude statements from the head of the U.S. state are unlikely to offend in anyway

the head of another country, especially President Putin. But this is a huge disgrace for the country, I mean, for the United States of America.

Clearly, Mr. Biden is demonstrating behavior in the style of a Hollywood cowboy to cater to domestic political interests. He would really like that.


SOARES: Our Kevin Liptak joins me now from San Francisco in the U.S. state of California. And Kevin, President Biden clearly, as we -- as we've just

explained, they're not holding back. You have been traveling with the president. Just walk us through these comments and how they were made.

KEVIN LIPTAK, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yes, and it's striking to hear the president of the United States use these words about a foreign

counterpart. And of course, President Biden has been critical in the past of Vladimir Putin. He's called him a murderous dictator. He's called him a


But I do think it's remarkable just against the backdrop of these highly fraught moment between the U.S. and Russia, as Russia is being thrust into

the center of the American political election to hear how President Biden is describing Putin to Democratic fundraisers, and he was speaking off

camera at a very high-dollar fundraiser here in San Francisco, and it was almost an aside when the president said this.

He was talking about the existential threat of climate change, and he said that we have a crazy SOB like that guy, Putin and others. And the president

went on to say, we always have to worry about nuclear conflict, but the existential threat to humanity is climate.

And you see him kind of slipping that remark in there. And you know, I don't think it's necessarily controversial point of view, certainly among

American officials, I think among European officials as well that Putin is a crazy SOB. But to hear President Biden say that to his donors behind the

scenes, I think is remarkable.

And it does come against this backdrop of all of these items that are piling up between the U.S. and Russia. Whether it's this bid to try and

provide Ukraine with more funding, whether it's the death of Alexei Navalny, and we've seen this back-and-forth between President Biden and

former President Trump over that issue as well.

You also have this issue of what the question of whether Russia is trying to put nuclear weapons in space. And you have this ongoing question of

Russian interference in the election. And just this week, we saw an FBI informant alleged to have met with Russian Intelligence officials, claiming

to have provided false information about the Bidens.

So, you have all of these items that are piling up, and that is the backdrop against which President Biden made this remark. Now, he is known

in the past and certainly will be known in the future for making some of these more unvarnished comments about world leaders behind the scenes in

these fundraisers.

He's among friends, he's among fellow Democrats. These people have paid up to $200,000 to be in these events to hear from him. And I think there's a

sense that he wants to give them their monies' worth in some ways. So --

SOARES: Yes --

LIPTAK: He is talking much more candidly than I think you do see him in public. Now, in the end, I don't think this is going to cause U.S.

restaurant relations to deteriorate any further. They're kind of at rock- bottom already. But certainly, an important moment to hear from President Biden what he's really thinking about the leader in the Kremlin.

SOARES: Yes, and it's not just candid. He's ought to be more forceful, hasn't he? Taking on, not just Putin, but also Trump behind closed doors on

the record. And that these fundraisers -- just talk to the shift that we have been seeing, just as of late here, Kevin.

LIPTAK: Yes, and he's really trying to seize the bully pulpit in a way that an incumbent president always has when they're running for re-

election, and we've seen it just over the last several weeks, particularly on this issue of Russia and on the issue of Alexei Navalny.

You've seen the president very forcefully call out a former president by name for failing to condemn the death of the opposition leader, but also

for some of his comments about NATO, for opposing more funding from -- for Ukraine. And you've seen that from the White House Roosevelt room, and it

is kind of a remarkable shift for a president who had been loathe for the first three years of his presidency, even to utter Trump's name out loud.


Now, he is saying it in almost every time that he's in front of cameras or in front of these donors. I think when he is behind the scenes, there is

more of an impulse to talk about Trump because that is a motivating factor for these people who are writing their checks for President Biden is to

prevent another Trump presidency and certainly, President Biden wants to reinforce that message as the general election gets underway.

SOARES: Kevin, appreciate that for us, thank you very much. Now to Ukraine, because Ukraine is trying to hold ground and fight back after the

key city of Avika(ph) -- I'm going to say that again, Avdiivka fell to Russian troops.

Ukrainian forces say this video posted to Telegram shows a strike on a training ground for Russian forces along the banks of the Dnipro River, a

key dividing line in this bloody conflict. Heavy fighting near the town of Krynky has both sides claiming control of the bridgehead.

Meanwhile, as the war approaches its two-year anniversary, G20 leaders, as you can see them there are confronting Russian officials about this war.

The foreign ministers of Japan and several Western nations, including the U.S., the U.K., France and Germany each condemned the war with their

Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov on hand at the conference.

Our Fred Pleitgen joins us now from Berlin. And Fred, as Ukrainian forces claim a win as we just mentioned there, I mean, a win near Dnipro, Dnipro

River, Russia is claiming has captured this village in the Donetsk region. What more can you tell us about this?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, the village is called Pobeda, Pobeda actually means victory in Russian, and the

Russians have now claimed that they have that village. It's quite an interesting area, actually, it's near a town called Marinka, which the

Russians managed to take a couple of months back from the Ukrainians.

But I was actually in that area say about a month, maybe a little bit less ago at a Ukrainian artillery position that is very close to that, and very

close to Marinka as well. And that's really one of the places where the Ukrainians had told us, Isa, that they were suffering a severe -- from a

severe lack of shortage of ammunition for their artillery.

We were at a position of a U.S. made M-777 Howitzer there, and they told us that, a few months ago, they've been able to fire 50 to 60 shells per day,

but they said since had to curb that to about 20 maximum, 30 shells per day.

And that was one of the reasons why it was almost impossible for them to hold the Russians up. They said that the Russian gains were coming at huge

costs to the Russian army, nevertheless, the fact there were so much manpower on the other side and so few shells on the Ukrainian side made it

very difficult for them to hold that area.

So, it seems as though the Russians have now advanced, if all this is correct, a little bit to the southwest of Marinka. It's not a massive gain,

but it is certainly something where you can see them sort of inching forward in that area.

There was one other thing that I was actually looking at today, which is that the Ukrainians said that several people were killed when a power plant

was struck by artillery shells in a place called Kurakhove, that is sort of the next town after Marinka, and one of the places when we went through

that town was also under heavy shelling.

There's a power plant there that the Russians have been trying to knock out for a while. So, you can see that the frontline still extremely active even

after the Russians have taken that place, Avdiivka, which is also not very far at all, as the Russians are trying to move forward in Donetsk Oblasts

to try and take all of that. Of course, that's one of the declared goals of Vladimir Putin. Isa.

SOARES: Fred Pleitgen for us there, thank you very much, Fred. And while Russia's President presses on with an election around the corner, nearby

Baltic states are upping their defense spending bill for Ukraine, as well as domestic issues.

Just this week, Estonia's Prime Minister told CNN, her country had thwarted a so-called shadow war by Russia. Several individuals were arrested,

accused of carrying out a series of Russia-directed attacks on high profile Estonian targets. I spoke to Estonia's Foreign Minister and asked him about

the operation on his home soil.


MARGUS TSAHKNA, FOREIGN MINISTER, ESTONIA: During the last two months, we have arrested 10 persons who has -- some of them committed already attacks

against the public figures of Estonia, like Minister of Interior, his car, and the main purpose was not to attack the people and their health, but

their assets as cars.

And also, they attacked our monuments and this kind of things. But it is all clear that they are directly connected to the Russian special forces

and the agencies who hired them. Russia, they want to scare our society. They want to show that they are there, but we are not scared.

SOARES: OK, so clearly, as you say Foreign Minister, intention here to spread fear, create tension, but it doesn't seem like it's -- it has

stopped there. Your Prime Minister I have seen has been put on a wanted list by Russian police.


And this intimidation that you speak of, this shadow war if we can call it that, does this suggest to you that Putin is preparing the groundwork here

for future escalation with Estonia?

TSAHKNA: The warrant for our Prime Minister and the State Secretary. And one side is like the recognition that we are doing the right thing. But

actually, this is something very serious. Our Prime Minister office wall is full of names of ex prime ministers and statements from the past, who has

been executed, who has been caught and sent to Siberia.

So, this is not a joke. So, we're raising -- we rose this question as well amongst the EU Foreign Ministers Council, because there is INTERPOL where

Russia is still a member --

SOARES: Yes --

TSAHKNA: So, in the third interests, you know, these people must be careful.

SOARES: How is Estonia preparing crucially here, Foreign Minister?

TSAHKNA: We are preparing very well together with our allies from NATO. We have increased our spending four defense, 3.2 percent of GDP. We increased

taxes, we buy a lot of ammunition. I think that Estonia now, one of the biggest ammunition buyer in Europe at all.

Of course, we are training, we are preparing, and also together with NATO. And it's not only Estonia, it's Baltic states, it's Poland, it's all the --

all the neighboring countries.

SOARES: You said this isn't a joke just a minute ago. Given everything you've just outlined there, and the -- how you're upping, not sure

yourselves, some of the Baltic countries also upping their defense and any sort of preparation. When you hear Foreign Minister, the MAGA, the wing in

the MAGA Republicans, right in the U.S., in the Republican Party, not wanting to release the funding for Ukraine.

When you hear former President Trump said that Russia could do whatever they want to any NATO country that doesn't pay enough. You think what? I

mean, how dangerous are these comments and this political dithering?

TSAHKNA: These comments and this vocabulary is not good for our unity and the meaning of preparing or the next scale of aggression, maybe may come,

may not. So, I will say defense ministers said well, then, Trump was first- time president and we didn't know what to expect, but finally, everything went well. We got more troops, more investments, and the unity in NATO.

So, I don't support this kind of vocabulary, but we have to understand as well that, there is a very active campaign about the president position in

U.S., so, I hope that this is only vocabulary. But the other side of the story is that, there has been years criticism from U.S. side, but also our

side that why all NATO members are not fulfilling their promise of 2 percent of GDP, especially now when we have a full scale war going on --

SOARES: Yes --

TSAHKNA: From Russian side against Ukraine. So, this is a right criticism. Maybe the words are too heavy, but actually, we must put more into our

defense in Europe as well, and this is clear and we do it.

SOARES: You are -- you are putting your money where your mouth is. I know some of the other countries are too, but on the U.S., very quickly, do you

believe that U.S. funding will come through?

TSAHKNA: The case is not that Ukrainians are fighting for their freedom. They are fighting for us, and we can literally say, noted or appointed to

this 120,000 troops which are gone, they are fighting instead of us.

SOARES: Yes --

TSAHKNA: So, this is the most efficient, most cheapest way you and I can say cynically, to support Ukrainians by military ways and not to send our

troops to the fight, because all the democracies now, all the system is now under threat. So, if Putin wins this war -- so, it harms everybody. It

harms all the global democratic world. It harms as well North America, the lifestyle as they have used to live. So, we have to --

SOARES: Yes --

TSAHKNA: Understand that. This is not just in conflict between Russia and Ukraine.


SOARES: And our thanks to the Estonian Foreign Minister. We spoke to the president of the European Council, Charles Michel earlier, he spoke about

the need for further aid for Ukraine and responded to the actions of some U.S. Republicans. Have a little look at this clip.


CHARLES MICHEL, PRESIDENT, EUROPEAN COUNCIL: I commend all the efforts made by Joe Biden and by his team, and I know that they're extremely

sincere and extremely active to try to unblock this situation. And then, remember, a few months ago, we had the bilateral summit in Washington

together with Joe Biden.

And we understood very well on the European Union side it is important for us to show that we are reliable, that we are credible, and it's why we made

those decisions, enlargement to Ukraine, 0.1, but also an additional package showing that I already mentioned, 50 billion euros.


Is that also to give the signal to the public opinion, to the citizens in United States, that we are doing here in Europe what is needed, and we hope

that this decision is helpful for the White House and for all those in United States who are convinced that supporting Ukraine is vital and

fundamental for Ukraine, for Europe, but also for the stability and security in United States.

SOARES: So, do you think it's going to come through because you recently said that the defeat of Ukraine would put European values at risk. What is

your message to that Republican wing -- MAGA wing of the Republican Party, I should say.

MICHEL: The main message is, please, don't be intimidated by Russia, don't be intimidated by the authoritarian regime. This is the main point, and if

you give up, then it means that you accept that tomorrow or the day after tomorrow, the world will be dominated by those regimes. Is it what you want

for your children and for your future?


SOARES: And we will air our full interview with Mr. Michel there, President Michel, in the coming days. And a quick programming note for you,

on Friday right here, we'll have a special 30-minute program on the show to mark the two-year anniversary of Russia's full-scale invasion of


And we'll have the very latest from the ground, high-level interviews with European officials as well as a military expert to bring us up to speed on

those battlefield developments. All of that, plus, a much closer look at how Ukrainians are coping two years into this grinding, and of course, very

desperate war.

Still to come though in the meantime, the G20 Foreign Ministers meeting is underway in Brazil with Russia attacking the U.S. response to Alexei

Navalny's death. We have the very -- all the details for you up ahead. And then later, Israeli police say three Palestinians opened fire on motorists

in the West Bank today, killing one man. And we'll have the full report from the scene after this, you are watching CNN.


SOARES: We are keeping a close eye as you can see there on view of de Janeiro this hour as you expect. The U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken

to speak any moment at the G20 Foreign Ministers meeting, you can see the rooms is filling up, the podium set, and of course, we will be monitoring


Well, not scheduled at the G20 was a meeting between Blinken and Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Alexei Navalny's death, the war in Ukraine

and conflict in the Middle East are overshadowing events in Brazil. Lavrov has even slammed the U.S. reaction to Navalny's death as hysteria while

speaking at a news conference today.


Thinks, well, certainly look hostile. But Blinken and Lavrov actually did meet briefly on the sidelines, if you remember, of last year's event.

Joining us now is journalist Stefano Pozzebon, he's tracking events in Brazil from neighboring Colombia. And Stefano, I mean, putting aside that

friction between Lavrov and Blinken. What exactly, if anything has come out of this G20 meeting and in Rio?

STEFANO POZZEBON, JOURNALIST: Well, Isa, frankly, it's fair to say that, that friction is what's come out, at least for now. Just like you said,

Antony Blinken, he's due to speak at any minute. And one of the questions he will be asked is whether he confronted Lavrov over the death of Alexei

Navalny, of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

It's the first time that the chief diplomat from the U.S. and a chief diplomat from Russia share the same space seeing the death of the Russian

opposition leader Alexei Navalny. We know, for example, that these tension has completely overshadowed the main reason why these summit was called for

in the first place.

Which was organizing another summit at the G20 level, a presidential summit, that Rio is due to host in November this year. We don't have the

picture of 20 nations coming together to sit at the same table and address these issues. Instead, we know, for example, from our team in the ground

that yesterday when they were called to share the same stage for a photo opportunity, the U.S. Secretary of State and the Russian Foreign Minister,

they didn't even look at each other in the face.

So, they didn't even acknowledge each other's presence, even though they were standing less than 20 meters, one from the other. And other aspects,

for example, is that there were rumors that the Russian delegation had issues with refueling its plane, because most of the companies, oil

companies and gas companies in Brazil have business ties with Western oil majors.

And so, they would incur into sanctions should they provide fuel for the plane of the Russian delegation? And so, there is that friction, is really

what is standing out. And it will be interesting to see what's happening in the next half hour or so when Blinken will respond to questions from

reporters and seeing if we have a chance to speak face-to-face to Lavrov and bring him to account over the death of Alexei Navalny.

Looking a little bit at the bigger picture, perhaps. It's fairly to say that it is a missed opportunity for President Lula, who is the host, the

owner of the -- of the house where all of these is happening, because Lula has always projected himself as a king diplomat, a wise figure who was able

to bring different sides at the same table.

And right now, it really seems that tensions in Ukraine, in the Middle East, and since last week in Russia itself, are completely overshadowing

what Lula is trying to do here. And I think it's interesting to point that out. Isa.

SOARES: Indeed, of course, we will continue to monitor that live image if we have it to bring it up of the podium, we are expecting to hear from the

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, of course, to speak in Rio de Janeiro, as you can see there, every one sitting down, the lights are on

the podium, it's ready.

We will continue to monitor that as it gets underway. We will, of course, soon as it gets underway, we will, of course, bring that to you. Our thanks

to Stefano Pozzebon, who -- for that report. In the meantime, U.S. wireless carrier, AT&T reports almost all of its mobile service is back online.

That's after tens of thousands of customers was impacted by a massive cellular network outage, making it difficult to call, text or even use the

internet. The U.S. government's top cyber security agency says it's working closely with AT&T to understand what caused that outage, an industry source

told CNN.

There is no apparent indication it was a result of a cyber attack or other malicious activity. Still to come tonight, a grinding war has some

Ukrainians wondering, will the troops called to defend the country ever be relieved of duty? Our report up next.

Also ahead, new warnings about the fate of children in Gaza, as the threat of famine looms. Both those stories after this very short break.



SOARES: Welcome back, everyone. Returning now to our top story at this hour where the Russia's war on Ukraine now fast approaching the two-year

mark, there doesn't seem to be any end in sight for the soldiers call to fight. Many women in Ukraine are calling for demobilization after nearly

two years of raising their children without their partners. I spoke to one such woman recently. Here's what she told me.


ANASTASIA BULBA, DEMOBILIZATION CAMPAIGNER (through translator): I'm sorry that the phone is ringing, but I don't have the sound off on my husband.

It's always on.

SOARES (voice-over): For 37-year-old Anastasia, it's a rare moment of comfort, a notification from my husband who is fighting on the front lines

in Ukraine.

BULBA (through translator): Relief. The first thing is that there is relief and immediate, phew. A notification came from him.

SOARES (voice-over): It's been two years of this stress, anxious days waiting to hear he's OK.

BULBA (through translator): We have an agreement he has to text me in the morning. He can say good morning, send me a smiley face, whatever. If he

doesn't get in touch by 11:00, I start calling all the phones, looking for him. You understand that the text message may be the last one. The call may

be the last.

SOARES (voice-over): 50-year-old Vitaly (ph) volunteered on the 1st of March 2022, right after Russia invaded. Since then, it's been a grueling

slog for him and his fellow soldiers.

BULBA (through translator): They are not only physically suffering, they are suffering mentally because they do not see the light at the end of the

tunnel. And since the mobilization failed, of course, there can be no demobilization because there is no one to replace them, and the guys need

to be replaced.

SOARES (voice-over): For the past six months, she's been one of dozens of women calling on the government to demobilize their exhausted relatives who

have been on the front lines since day one.

BULBA (through translator): We don't just protest, we make appeals. We have already sent more than a thousand letters to all the higher

authorities that can influence this.


SOARES (voice-over): She's frustrated it's taken so long for the government to start thinking of ways to relieve troops. But a new draft

bill may offer some respite, and President Zelenskyy is weighing up whether to announce a further mobilization, possibly of hundreds of thousands of

new soldiers.

BULBA (through translator): Our most important contribution was that this topic was raised and people started talking about it. Is there any progress

so far? Well, we see that the bill has already been introduced by the government. Unfortunately, it is very sad for us, because it provides for

36 months of service.

SOARES (voice-over): It's all part of Ukraine's plans to try and make mobilization more appealing. If passed, it would allow soldiers to exit the

military after three years of continuous service. But another year for Anastasia and her family is a long time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): He only came to use twice on holiday. And the third time will be in the spring. One the one hand, it's

not long. But for me, it is long.


SOARES (on camera): And our thanks to Anastasia and her boys for speaking to us.

Well, Israel's far-right finance minister says the government should respond to a deadly shooting in the occupied West Bank today with thousands

more settlement units. Another far-right Minister, Itamar Ben-Gvir visited the scene of the attack. Demanding more restrictions on the movement of

Palestinians. Israeli police say three gunmen opened fire on cars, stocking (ph) traffic on a highway east of Jerusalem, killing one man.

The attack comes amid a surge in deadly IDF raids in the West Bank, as well as settler violence against Palestinians. The Palestinian Health Ministry

says, troops and settlers have killed at least 400 Palestinians in the West Bank since October the seventh.

Well, Israeli police have identified the attackers in today's highway shooting as Palestinian men from the Bethlehem area. Our Nic Robertson

visited the scene and brings us the very details.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: This is the vehicle the police say the attackers arrived in. There were three of them. The

traffic was all stopped in a traffic jam as people were coming up this main highway here into Jerusalem early in the morning. Three people, three

attackers got out of this vehicle, according to the police. They dispersed into the traffic and started shooting.

And if we come up here, you can just see one of the vehicles that was shot at, loaded up here, being ready to be taken away. The rear windscreen shot

out, there were bullet casings on the floor over here. From where I'm standing, you can see blood on the ground where some of the victims were


This main highway would have been really busy in the early hours of the day when the attack took place. at least one person killed so far, according to

medical authorities. Another woman seriously injured, as far as we know in the early part of the day. Five people total shot, according to medical

officials. And they say other people in a state of shock. Somebody else got heavy bruising as they were trying to escape the scene.

But what makes this particular attack different from some of the recent shootings we have seen is that there were three attackers arriving

together, and then assaulting people as they were stuck stationary in their vehicles, trying to get to Jerusalem or Tel Aviv beyond to go to work.

Nic Robertson, CNN, in the Occupied West Bank.


SOARES: A White House envoy is visiting Israel today to discuss efforts to secure a hostage deal, as well as temporary truce for Gaza. Israel's

defense minister says, he told Brett McGurk that Israel is expanding the authority of its negotiators to reach an indirect agreement with Hamas.

Israel also keeping up the pressure with deadly airstrikes. Residents in Rafah are describing the heaviest bombing in days. Saying a mosque and

homes were among the buildings flattened. International aid agencies are simply -- well, they're running out of words as they warn again and again

about the catastrophic humanitarian situation in Gaza, including the very real threat of famine.

The heads of Medecins Sans Frontieres or Doctors Without Borders address the U.N. Security Council today. Saying, children as young as five, are

telling their teens they would rather die than endure the trauma of this war. He says, the world has failed them. Have a listen.


CHRISTOPHER LOCKYEAR, SECRETARY GENERAL, MEDECINS SANS FRONTIERES: Meeting after meeting, resolution after resolution, this body has failed to

effectively address this conflict. We have watched members of this council deliberate and delay while civilians die. The consequences of casting

international humanitarian law to the wind will reverberate well beyond Gaza. It will be an enduring burden on our collective conscience. This is

not just political inaction. It has become political complicity.



SOARES: Let's get more now from Jeremy Diamond. He's live for us in Tel Aviv. And Jeremy, let me just pick up on the incredibly dire humanitarian

situation in Gaza. We know that the welfare program announced, I think it was on Tuesday, that it was suspending aid deliveries to Northern Gaza

because of security issues. We've also heard from several NGOs who have been talking about starvation and famine. What are you hearing from your

contacts on the ground on the humanitarian front here?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, there is no question that the situation is growing increasingly desperate, in particular in

Northern Gaza. You referenced the fact that the World Food Programme which has been a lifeline to so many Palestinians now suspending aid deliveries

to Northern Gaza. Citing the looting and the gunfire that has been directed at aid trucks in -- over the last week, making those conditions too

dangerous for aid workers to be able to get that aid in.

But even before they suspended deliveries, they said that Israeli military officials denied about three quarters of their requests over the month of

January to get those trucks into Northern Gaza. So, getting aid there has been so problematic for so long that now when those very few trucks do make

it in, we see these scenes of looting. We see these scenes of people in desperation attacking these trucks to try and get the flour or other aid

that is that is on them.

At the same time, the Red Crescent Society is reporting that there are already reports from Northern Gaza of people actually dying from

starvation, the children and the elderly in particular, though they haven't been able to verify those reports yet. And we know that beyond that, the

medical situation is increasingly dire. Multiple major hospitals in Gaza out of commission. According to the head of Doctors Without Borders,

surgeons are reusing gauze in some hospitals in order to treat the wounded.

And so, really, just you see a picture of desperation being painted in Gaza. And of course, all of this happening as there is the possibility of

it getting so, so much worse because of the possibility of Israeli -- a major Israeli military offensive into Rafah where about one and a half

million Palestinians are currently sheltering. Things could get so much worse if indeed that offensive does move forward without adequate

precautions, and shelter and aid for the civilians to be able to leave that area. So, a desperate situation that could still get worse depending on the

direction that things take.

SOARES: Of course. And aid groups that we've been hearing warning off of a catastrophe if Israel's military does move forward, as you were saying

there, with its plan for ground defense in Rafah. So, I wonder where we are, Jeremy, on securing any, sort of, deal before Ramadan. I'm just seeing

a wise breaking on CNN. The White House says indications are the negotiations in the Middle East are going well. What are you learning?

DIAMOND: Yes, I was told that today, Brett McGurk, President Biden's Middle East coordinator, met with the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin

Netanyahu. He also met with several other top Israeli officials. And following that day of meetings, we are getting some positive indications.

Not only the White House saying that it appears that these negotiations are going well, but we also heard over the last 24 hours from two key members

of Israel's war cabinet.

Yesterday, Benny Gantz, the former member of the opposition, who is now a key partner in that war cabinet, saying that there are initial signs that

indicate the possibility of progress in these talks. Critically, he said that at the end of the day yesterday, when there were meetings in Cairo and

some indications that Hamas may be moving towards a more favorable position.

And today, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant saying that Israel is going to expand the authority of its negotiators in talks going forward. Indicating

that while previously they were really in listen only mode in the last round of negotiations. That Israeli negotiators will now enter this next

round of talks, empower to negotiate, empower to try and strike a deal.

And keep in mind, there are just over two weeks until Ramadan. That is the window for a deal to be able to happen.

SOARES: Indeed. Jeremy Diamond for us there in Tel Aviv. Good to see you, Jeremy. Thank you very much.

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



SOARES: Breaking news to bring you this hour. U.S. President Joe Biden has met with the wife and daughter of late Russian opposition leader, Alexei

Navalny, in California. This is according to a U.S. official. Navalny's widow, Yulia, has been in Europe. We brought you some of those images over

the past week meeting with the E.U. officials and others. Of course, she has been vowing to continue her husband's work after his death in that

Russian penal colony.

We've also heard today from -- he is Alexei Navalny's mother, who has been, finally, after what -- five, six days, been able to see her father -- her

son's body. She, in the video that she put on social media, she said she was secretly taken to the morgue, but was warned by Russian investigators

that time is working against you.

We've also heard, if you joined us at the top of the hour, that a spokesperson for Alexei Navalny says his death is being blamed on natural

causes, is that -- that is according to Russian officials in a medical report. But the last few minutes we have heard from U.S. official that

President Biden has met with Navalny's wife and their daughter in California. We know that Navalny's daughter studying -- is at University in

California. We've seen on social media Navalny's wife also taking photos with her daughter and spending time with her daughter.

And of course, in the last few days, you would have heard that the White House has announced new sanctions against Russia after Navalny's death. And

we know this will have a significant, they say, range of targets. Those sanctions are expected to be announced tomorrow.

I believe our Priscilla Alvarez is with us. Priscilla, what more do you know at this stage about when this meeting happened?

PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, we're just learning that he did meet with the wife and widow while he's in California. He's

there for a fundraising swing in the West Coast and has been there for a few days.

Now, we just received a readout of this meeting where it says, that the president expressed his heartfelt condolences for their terrible loss

following the death of Alexei Navalny in a Russian prison. It goes on to note the president's admiration for the Russian opposition leader. Saying

that he has extraordinary courage and his legacy of fighting against corruption and for a free and democratic Russia in which the rule of law

applies equally to everyone.

Now, I should also note that Vice President Kamala Harris also met with Navalny's widow shortly after we had learned of his death while she was at

the Munich Security Conference.

So, this is an issue that has resonated here at the White House. The death reverberating across the White House when it happened. And since then, the

administration has been preparing forceful sanctions against Russia, those are expected to be announced tomorrow.


I would expect that it is something that came up in this meeting with President Biden and his -- and again, Navalny's widow and his daughter. But

again, this is an issue that the White House has been pursuing. They have condemned Russian President Vladimir Putin, and said that he is solely

responsible for the death of Navalny. And they are now preparing this sanctions package that is again expected to be announced tomorrow as a

response to this. And also, to mark the two-year anniversary of Russia's war against Ukraine.

SOARES: Yes, and not just condemning. Of course, remember those words, make no mistake, Putin is to blame. But also, being much more forceful in

his attacks against Putin. Speak to that, Priscilla.

ALVAREZ: That's right. We heard that last night in a fundraiser that the president had with donors. And it was an off-camera remark, and he is often

quite candid when he is at these fundraisers. And he called the Russian president an SOB.

Now, this was pretty forceful language for the president talking about another world leader. And it just goes to show how emotions and frictions

are running quite high here between the United States and Russia. Not only following the death of Alexei Navalny, but also as this war rages on in


And so, the president, again, in these closed-door remarks, was quite frank. And it's -- it has since become a touchstone. The Russian government

since responding, calling it rude and not taking well to what President Biden had to say about the Russian leader. But again, all of this comes,

again, amid heightened tensions between the U.S. and Russia. And also, at a time where this is starting to really become a core issue in the

presidential election cycle.

SOARES: Priscilla Alvarez there with the very latest there on that breaking news. Thanks very much, Priscilla.

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


SOARES: I want to take you to Rio de Janeiro where U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is speaking at the G20. I want you to listen in.

COURTNEY (PH), REPORTER: Russia. And his mother is complaining that the Russian government is pressuring her into a secret burial. How did the U.S.

and its allies and partners hope to influence or alter Russia's behavior when previous sanctions have not had that effect? And further, is a state

sponsor of terrorism designation a possible way to further influence Russia? Thank you.

ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Great. Thanks, Courtney (ph). So, first, I think -- again, if you were in the room over the last two days,

when it came to, for example, the discussions that we had about the Russian aggression against Ukraine, and not just against Ukraine, against the very

principles at the heart of the international system that we were here to talk about and hopefully to strengthen.

I think if you're in that room, as Foreign Minister Lavrov was, you heard a very strong chorus coming from not -- as I said, not just the G7 countries

within the G20, but from many others as well about the imperative of ending the Russian aggression. Restoring peace. Making sure that Ukrainians are

the ones who decide their own future. Preserving the territorial integrity of the country. That's increasingly clear.

So, I think, in a sense, it's actually quite a useful reminder to Russia about what virtually the entire world thinks of this aggression and the

strong desire to see it end. And again, there are two reasons for that. One is the fact that it's an aggression against the principles at the heart of

the system. The other is that it's had consequences for countries and people around the world. Rising food prices. Rising energy prices that have

afflicted people largely because of this Russian aggression.


Now, we've been able to address that in increasingly effective ways, including Ukraine, by pushing the Russian Navy back and getting access to

the Black Sea again. Exports to the Black Sea from Ukraine now exceed what they were before the Russian aggression in February of 2022. But I think

countries around the world are seeing the impact it's having on them, and it's another reason they want it to stop.

In terms of new measures and additional sanctions, stay tuned. They will be forthcoming. And I just say this about Mr. Navalny, someone truly heroic in

his life, in his work. But the fact that Vladimir Putin saw it necessary to persecute, poison, and imprison one man speaks volumes, not about Russia's

strength under Putin but its weakness.

And I think, again, countries around the world, including in the G20, were very clear about what they thought about what happened to Mr. Navalny.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We'll go to Fernando David (ph) with --

SOARES: Secretary Blinken there talking, giving us an idea very clearly of what the G20 thought following on from Navalny's death.

We will continue to monitor this press briefing there. CNN continues this after this short break.