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Isa Soares Tonight

Biden To Announce U.S. Will Build Port In Gaza For Aid; Biden To Deliver His State Of The Union Address Today; Haiti Extends State Of Emergency Into April; 32nd Member Of NATO Formally Reached By Sweden; Russia's War On Ukraine; Russia Concentrated On Eastern Town Of Avdiivka; Regarding Ukraine Strategy, British Foreign Minister Addresses Leaked Tapes; Next Week, Russia Will Hold Its Presidential Election; In Forthcoming Election, Putin Almost Guaranteed To Win Another Term; Haiti Remains Engulfed In Chaos; One Public Hospital Remains Open In Haiti, According To Haitian Official; U.S. Pushes Transition, Gang Leader Warns Of "Genocide"; New Climate Record Broken For The Hottest February; Ninth Consecutive Month, Global Temperatures Broken. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired March 07, 2024 - 14:00   ET



ISA SOARES, HOST, ISA SOARES TONIGHT: A very warm welcome to the show everyone, I'm Isa Soares. Tonight, President Joe Biden is set to announce

the U.S. will build an emergency port in Gaza to facilitate aid deliveries. We'll have those details, plus the latest on those ceasefire negotiations.

Then, we are just hours away from Mr. Biden's State of the Union address. We'll dig in to what to expect from the high stakes speech and why it could

have major implications of course, for the 2024 race.

Plus, Haiti extends its state of emergency until April. A spiraling gang violence leaves just one hospital operational in the capital. That and much

more ahead this hour. But first tonight, we are just hours away from U.S. President Joe Biden's annual State of the Union address.

And we are learning he will announce a major development tonight aimed at getting more life-saving humanitarian aid into Gaza. Senior administration

officials say Mr. Biden will direct the U.S. military to set up a port on the Gaza coast as well as a temporary pier.

They say he's reached a point where he's not waiting for the Israelis to get in more aid as starvation as we've shown you here on the show in Gaza

reaches crisis levels. Hopes are fading meantime that a ceasefire can be reached before Ramadan.

A Hamas delegation has left negotiations in Cairo and Israel, of course, didn't attend this round at all. International mediators were hoping as you

know to reach a draft agreement this week. But a diplomat telling CNN that, that will not happen. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says his

country must stand together against outside pressure to end the war.

He is vowing to continue the fight against Hamas including, of course, in Rafah, where more than a million Palestinians are seeking shelter. Let's

get more on all these trends for you. We're joined now in -- by Jeremy Diamond in Tel Aviv, Alex Marquardt, as we can see there is in Washington

for us.

And Jeremy, to you first. What more do we know at this stage about this port solution for humanitarian aid that President Biden is expected to

announce later? Do we know where it would be in Gaza and the timeline here critically, because that adds an urgency to this?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN JERUSALEM CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Isa, since really the early days of this war, there has been discussion about creating

some kind of a maritime corridor to bring in humanitarian aid, perhaps with Israeli personnel conducting security checks on that aid in Cyprus.

But one of the hold-ups has been the fact that Gaza does not have a deep sea port. And so, this aims to now address that by creating a temporary, a

floating port off the coast of Gaza that would be built by the U.S. military, would include a temporary pier that would allow for hundreds of

trucks per day to be brought into Gaza.

But as you know, this is not an immediate solution to what has been described as a really catastrophic situation, particularly in northern

Gaza. This is a project that would likely take weeks, if not months, to actually construct. And U.S. officials say that it will not involve U.S.

soldiers on the ground in Gaza.

But what it really is, is it's also an acknowledgement of the fact that the United States has failed so far to convince Israel, to pressure Israel to

allow sufficient humanitarian aid into Gaza, into northern Gaza in particular, with senior administration officials on a briefing call today

saying, basically, we will not wait for the Israelis that they have been waiting, that they have been trying to leverage diplomatic pressure, and

that now they are going to move with this kind of more unilateral action.

I suspect though Israeli officials are not yet commenting on this project that it will involve some level of coordination with Israel in order to

actually get this through. What is clear is that while it won't address the immediate humanitarian needs in Gaza, that humanitarian need in Gaza is

rapidly rising.

Israel only allowed 25 percent of all U.N. planned U.N. aid missions to northern Gaza last month, according to the United Nations. And we're seeing

on the ground, 20 people have now died of malnutrition according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health and at hospitals in northern Gaza like Kamal


Doctors are only able to treat perhaps half of the malnutrition patients, because they have such limited medical supplies, they're only being able to

treat them with saline or sugar drips.


So, the situation is really dire, and the question now is, how quickly can Israel open up another land-crossing directly into northern Gaza, a senior

administration official also saying they've been pressuring Israel to do that, and that Israel will do so in the coming days, although Israel at

this hour isn't providing any details on that, Isa.

And Alex, you know, given everything that Jeremy outlined, I mean, I suppose it speaks to the frustration maybe from the U.S. side, right?

Because administration had been hoping for a ceasefire before the start of Ramadan, and that is looking increasingly here, unlikely. What have you

been hearing from your sources about the major sticking points, whether those conversations is still ongoing?

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, Isa, the ceasefire is essentially a way the administration argues to get more aid

into Gaza. It's not just a matter of stopping the war, even if temporarily to getting those Israeli hostages home, but really getting that aid in and

to where it needs to be.

And because of the sensitivities around Ramadan, the Biden administration had really set that as a deadline and repeatedly, in recent weeks said that

they wanted -- in fact, needed to get that ceasefire -- this ceasefire done by then. And Ramadan is expected to start late Sunday or Monday.

Now, officials who were involved in the talks are acknowledging that, that is not likely. One U.S. official told me that hope is fading, and what

we've seen over the course of the past few days are more of these back-and- forth and rather frenetic talks taking place in the Egyptian capital, Cairo.

A diplomat told me that they were -- that they were quite frantic over the past few days, and that essentially, Hamas had shown up to these talks with

a proposal that didn't sit well with anyone. I think what has really changed in these talks is the fact that last week we saw that horrible

incident around that aid --

SOARES: Yes --

MARQUARDT: Convoy in which more than 100 Palestinians were killed. The IDF opened fire, and so, Hamas has essentially altered some of their demands

I'm told, seeking more assurances, and one of the things that they're looking for is an assurance that in a second phase of this deal, that the

IDF would fully withdraw from the Gaza Strip.

And that is not something that the Israelis are willing to do. Israel for its part did not show up to those talks in Cairo, Israel has been saying,

we need a list of the hostages who are still alive and those who are dead from Hamas, so that we can expect who we can get in a hostage exchange.

The Americans have said that Israel has essentially agreed to the deal, that the ball is in Hamas' court. Hamas said they left Cairo, and they're

essentially going back to Doha and back to discussions amongst their leadership to figure out where things stand.

So, Isa, the talks are not dead, they are still ongoing, but there does appear to be this impasse with the mediators from Egypt, Qatar and the

United States still working feverishly to try to get this deal across the line, something that could now happen during Ramadan, but almost certainly

not at the beginning of Ramadan as they wanted.

SOARES: Alex Marquardt there and Jeremy Diamond, appreciate it, thank you to you both. Well, family members of hostages still held in Gaza are

renewing a plea for their release, saying their loved ones are not just a poster, they are marking five agonizing months since the October the 7th

attacks, demanding the world not forget the hostages plight.

One woman fiercely campaigning for their release was a hostage herself. Chen Almog-Goldstein saw her husband and one daughter killed by Hamas on

October 7th, she and three surviving children were then taken to Gaza and held for 51 excruciating days. Goldstein talked to our Christiane Amanpour

about their terrifying ordeal. Have a listen to this.


CHEN ALMOG GOLDSTEIN, FORMER ISRAELI HOSTAGE ABDUCTED BY HAMAS (through translator): There's incredible bombardment of the Israeli Air Force and

artillery series sphere. We understand that they're mere cogs in the system that the captors -- and we're hoping that they're not going to have

instructions to kill us and that they will do it.

We would ask them, and they told us that they were guarding us, that they hoped that we were going to be OK, and that we were not going to die, that

they were going to die ahead of us or we were going to die together. This was supposed to calm us down.

We were not allowed to cry. They wanted us happy and told us to be OK. If we cried, we had to snap out of it or hide it. It's a kind of emotional

abuse that they didn't let us cry.


SOARES: Absolutely terrifying there. Well, as Israel's war on Hamas stretches on, Palestinian civilians continue to pay the heaviest price with

starvation reaching crisis levels. Today, a U.N. special rapporteur accused Israel of not only denying and restricting the flow of aid, but also

destroying the food system in Gaza as part of a quote, "starvation campaign".


Israel denies restricting aid, but a senior official with medical aid for Palestinians say the shortages are so acute that some parents are

substituting on a mug of coffee a day, rationing what scraps of food they can -- they can find, basically among their children.

Now, the Gaza Health Ministry says at least 20 people have died from starvation so far, and the youngest was just one day old. And for some

perspective on the ground in Gaza, we're joined by U.N. official, an official with the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs,

Georgios Petropoulos is head of Sub-office in Gaza and he is in Rafah for us this evening.

Georgios, really appreciate you taking the time to be with us tonight. We heard in the last what? Ten minutes or so, that President Biden is expected

to announce in his State of the Union address a bit later, the establishment of a port in Gaza.

We're being told that the port is going to include a temporary pier that will provide the capacity for hundreds of additional truckloads of

assistance. What do you make of that news?

GEORGIOS PETROPOULOS, HEAD OF SUBOFFICE, GAZA, UNITED NATIONS OCHA: I think -- first of all, thanks for having me. I think -- I think it's good

news that there's nobody that's thinking around getting more aid into Gaza. We have profound difficulties in getting aid there.

We are -- we are, we are discussing any kind of crossing, any kind of checkpoints from the south parts of Gaza. We are seeing air-drops almost

daily, and of course, you know, any kind of maritime corridor would be good. But I think we have to be clear that roads are going to be the only

solution for the amount in acuteness of hunger that we now have, especially in north Gaza.

SOARES: And on that point, Georgios, I mean, how much aid or access critically has your team had to Gaza? How much food have you been able to

help distribute? Give us a sense of, in terms of population size here.

PETROPOULOS: No, I think it's a very good question. There's 2.2 million people in Gaza, and only 200,000 to 300,000 are inside north Gaza. The rest

of the people in Gaza have access to food. We have enough food to feed people in Gaza outside Gaza. Inside Gaza, at any one time, you find we have

one to three days of food in our stores.

The moment we get it, we distribute it. So, there is access to food. The issue is how much of it is available to the population for example in the

south that is facing a possible operation in Rafah? How much of it is nutritious food? How much of it is fresh food? And how much of it is going

through checkpoints in crossings into north Gaza, whereas you said before, rightly so, we are seeing now deaths from absolutely preventable


SOARES: And you say, I mean, it's clearly not for lack of trying. You say on X, I'm just going to read what you've written on X. "Impediment of

access comes in many ways. Our missions that are not denied to depart, but too often en route, there are simply no wish to assist or support the

movement of aid or aid workers, delays, waste of time and returned missions.

A sad state of affairs for Gaza." Hashtag, access denied. Are you saying there, Georgios, the Israeli authorities are purposefully here slowing down

the process of aid? And if so, what reasons are you being given?

PETROPOULOS: What I think is important to say here is that a facilitated humanitarian mission is one that reaches its objective. That could be a

hospital to deliver medicine, it could be a distribution site within the essentially north Gaza, let's start there, where we have to take food from

the south part through a long Gaza Strip, through battle sites, broken roads, inefficient checkpoints.

And you know, sometimes actual places where we are working very close to where fighting is taking place to reach distribution points. Now, if we are

not enabled and facilitated, I think in a way that shows that there's meaningful wish to cooperate with the humanitarian system, and according to

humanitarian law.

Then I think we have to say that we're reaching a point where we have to find some other solutions to feed people especially in north Gaza. And when

I'm asked whether air-drops are those solutions, for example, I can only say again, sure, let's find more solutions.

But again, the number of people and the type of food that they now need and medicine for the malnutrition and medical equipment to start, you know,

feeding centers for mothers, children that can only come in the volume it needs by road.

SOARES: Yes --

PETROPOULOS: And that means opening crossings into north Gaza.


SOARES: And of course, look, the impacts of this as our viewers would have seen here, you know, in this week from our reporting, from our team is

absolutely huge. We have new data that I want to share with our viewers that shows that all of Gaza's population is now unable to meet their food

needs. This is from the U.N. at levels of -- oh, see now on your screen, levels ranging from crisis to catastrophe.

I mean, already this week, Georgios, we have reported that people are dying result of malnutrition, dehydration. Talk to the urgency of this aid and

what you have seen, your experience on the ground.

PETROPOULOS: You know, two months ago, a month-and-a-half ago, we had no deaths from malnutrition. We had some hospitals that were -- over more for

hospitals that were functioning. Now, we have the deaths from malnutrition. We now also have no access to clean water in North Gaza.

We have non-dependable system to get into north Gaza, and let's be very clear. From the 24th of February to the 3rd of March, we dropped less than

1,000 trucks entering the Gaza Strip, where we were calling for 500 trucks.

Those trucks would have brought the amount, the quantity and the quality of food that the more than 2 million people need, not only to remain alive,

but to be healthy enough not to be malnourished. Malnutrition is a horrible way and a horrible illness.

You can't see it on the streets, the people that are dying with malnutrition are at home, they're weak, they're the most vulnerable,

they're children. And it's a very -- it's a very difficult thing to detect, and it's especially difficult to detect when you essentially have a field

that destroyed health system.

SOARES: Yes, beyond catastrophic, really. Georgios Petropoulos, really appreciate you speaking to us. Thank you Georgios.

PETROPOULOS: Thank you very much.

SOARES: I want to change gears now and take a closer look at President Biden's critical State of the Union address, one in which style may be

scrutinized more than substance. Is a speech that could have a major impact, and of course, of the 2024 presidential election, Biden is expected

to outline his plans for the U.S. economy, which include higher taxes for corporations as well as the wealthy.

He'll also make a direct plea to House Republicans to approve desperately- needed U.S. aid to Ukraine and Israel. The address is a crucial chance for the president to push back against critics who say he's too old to remain

in office.

Donald Trump meantime, well, he's promising his own brand of counter programming, a live play-by-play rebuttal of Biden's remarks. Our Kevin

Liptak joins us now from the White House. And Kevin, look, this is a high stakes moment for President Biden.

This isn't an election year, so a very different State of the Union. What are we likely to hear from him? What is he likely to focus on here?

KEVIN LIPTAK, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yes, and I don't think his aides are naive to the fact that this is a very important speech. They really do

view it as a kickoff moment as they try and make an imprint on voters who haven't necessarily been paying attention to what Biden has been doing for

the last three years.

And as this general election rematch between Biden and Trump kicks off, they really do want to leave those voters with a good impression and really

try and provide an implicit contrast with Republicans and with the former President Trump.

And there are a few big buckets of themes that the president will address in the speech tonight. The first is this idea of economic populism. So,

you'll hear him talk about raising taxes on the wealthy and on corporations, going after what they call corporate greed and price gouging,

talking about his efforts to lower the cost of healthcare and prescription drugs.

All sort of with the idea of making this choice and contrast argument with Republicans and the former president. The other big bucket is this idea of

protecting freedoms both in the United States and abroad. And you will hear him talk about trying to restore some of the protections for abortion that

were stripped away when Roe versus Wade was overturned.

And he'll also talk about this idea of IVF, which has been this big political topic in the United States after a court ruling in the U.S. state

of Alabama and abroad. He'll also touch on this topic as well, and it will be interesting. He has invited as a guest to the speech tonight, the Prime

Minister of Sweden, that country just today became the latest member of NATO.

And he'll talk about the importance of protecting that defense alliance, but also with providing the Ukrainians with further assistance in their

battle against Russia. That too, providing a contrast with Trump. Of course, the war in the Middle East is also a backdrop to this speech

tonight, and we are told that the president will make a new announcement about getting humanitarian aid into Gaza.

He'll say that he's directed the U.S. military on this emergency mission to construct a temporary port on the Mediterranean coast in Gaza, to

increase the capacity of aid going into the Strip. So, those are the sort of topics he'll talk about, just as important is how he talks about them,

how he looks while he's talking about them as these questions about his age and fitness really provide the backdrop to this speech tonight.


SOARES: Kevin Liptak, appreciate it. And be sure to tune in to CNN's special coverage of Biden's State of the Union address that gets underway

at 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, or if you're awake in London, well, it's 1:00 a.m.

Among the guests at the State of the Union address tonight is Elizabeth Carr; the first person in the U.S. born through In Vitro Fertilization.

President Biden will lean into his argument for protecting reproductive rights as you heard there, after Alabama state Supreme Court declared that

frozen embryos are children.

But overnight, Alabama's governor signed a new bill into law allowing IVF clinics to open back up today. The new legislation aims to protect IVF

providers and patients from liability. Lawmakers scramble to get it passed over last month's controversial ruling, which stated that those who destroy

frozen embryos can be held liable for wrongful death.

And still to come tonight, major disruptions at airports in Germany, details ahead on what the ongoing strikes will mean for millions of

passengers. Plus where Ukraine says Russia is now attempting to advance on the war's frontlines. Both those stories after this very short break.


SOARES: Well, in Germany, millions of passengers face travel turmoil due to ongoing aviation and rail strikes. A planned walkout has closed

Frankfurt Airport. Security staff at Hamburg and Dusseldorf airports have also walked off the job. One of Europe's biggest airline groups, that's

Lufthansa says the strikes have cost them around a 100 million euros.

Unions for train conductors are also on strike, which is having, of course, a major impact on the rail service. I want to go to our Fred Pleitgen, who

is live for us this hour in Berlin. And Fred, often these walked outs are about wages as well as working conditions.

So, talk us through what these unions want, and really how receptive, if at all, the government has been to negotiating here.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wages, working hours is the other big thing. At least, as far as the train conductors or

the train drivers are concerned, at least, in this case, it was quite interesting to see today, there certainly was a lot of issues with travel

in Germany with a lot of those big airports not operating.


You just showed that video from Frankfurt. That of course, by far the largest airport here in Germany, which normally is very busy. Lufthansa

saying that only very few of their longer distance flights were able to actually take off for a distance was even more difficult.

And then right here in Berlin, we also saw the effects as well with a lot of a longer-distance trains also not running and no regional trains running

either. So, definitely, very difficult. And if you look at the train drivers, they say -- their union says that they want the working hours to

be decreased from 38 hours right now to 35 hours for shift workers.

Apparently, for a while, they were actually not that far apart with the -- with the company that runs the railway, which is Deutsche Bahn. However, at

this point in sight, it does not seem as though there is any sort of resolution in sight to that.

And it certainly seems as though things are even more difficult at Lufthansa where the union there wants a 12.4 percent pay increase --

SOARES: Wow --

PLEITGEN: Whereas Lufthansa is now at around 4 percent. One of the things that the union is saying though, it happens to be today that Lufthansa

announced the third best yearly profits in the company's history.

So, the union saying look, share some of that wealth, whereas Lufthansa is saying, at least to that extent, it's not going to be possible, Isa.

SOARES: Yes, and Lufthansa at the same time as it posts those profits, saying that the strikes have cost them what? A 100 million euros --


SOARES: And you know, they've had also walkouts, Lufthansa, I believe earlier this year. So, I mean, the fear of course is that this could drag

on. Any sense or how long they're prepared to keep this walkout for?

PLEITGEN: You know, I think right now, it looks as though this could go on for a very long time. And you're absolutely right. I think it's the fifth

time this is already happening this year --

SOARES: Right --

PLEITGEN: Lufthansa is certainly that company, it has been shaken by some of these walkouts that have been going on. And if you look at today, for

instance, it's a double whammy with a ground staff walking out, and then also, some of the security personnel at some of those airports, at least in

Dusseldorf staging an unplanned work walkout as well.

So, certainly, very difficult. Right now, I think both sides are still pretty far apart. I think this could go on for a very long time, certainly

seems that way. And I think with Deutsche Bahn, it could also go on for a while as well with the train drivers, because right now, the union there

has said that it is ready to go the distance.

It is willing to maintain a very hard line, and certainly, all this is definitely not only hurting, obviously, travel here in this country, but

also hurting the economy as well because of course, Germany is one of those countries where there is a lot of travel, there's a lot of industrial

processes here.

There's a lot of people who obviously need to get places. And so, that's definitely something that's really a drag on an economy that is already to

a degree in trouble. Where economic growth has been extremely sluggish over the past year, year-and-a-half.

Right now, there is a feeling that things just aren't going right, and certainly, this seems to be one of the symptoms that Germans are looking

at, where they're saying it really would help the country if they came to some sort of resolution. But it certainly seems in the air and on the rail,

they're still pretty far apart --

SOARES: Yes --


SOARES: I know you'll keep across it for us. Fred Pleitgen, good to see you, Fred. And still to come tonight, how Vladimir Putin is working to

shape his image ahead of next week's presidential election in Russia. Clare Sebastian joins us next.




ANNOUNCER: This is CNN. More people get their news from CNN than any other news source.

SOARES: Welcome back, everyone.

Sweden officially joined NATO today, becoming the alliance's 32nd member. During a visit to Washington, Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson handed

over his country's accession documents to U.S. Secretary of State, you can see there, Antony Blinken. Along with Finland, who joined NATO last April,

Sweden abandoned its decades long policy of non-alignment in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Blinken issued a warm welcome to NATO's newest member. Have a listen.


ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Good things come to those who wait. No better example. But with receipt of this instrument of accession,

let me be the very first to welcome Sweden as a party to the Washington Treaty and the 32nd member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.


SOARES: Let me bring you up to date on the developments in Ukraine now. The commander of Ukraine's land forces says Russia is concentrating its

efforts in the eastern village of Avdiivka, which it took control of last month, as you can see there on your map. He says, Russian forces are now

trying to push towards several towns in the Donetsk region.

Meantime, British Foreign Secretary David Cameron says there is incredible unity, his words, between NATO allies over Ukraine. It comes in response,

if you remember, to a leaked recording that we were talking about just days ago by Fred Pleitgen between top ranking German military officers on the

country's Ukraine war strategy, which included details of British operations. Have a listen.


DAVID CAMERON, BRITISH FOREIGN SECRETARY: To all those in Germany and beyond and around the continent and around the world who want to see an end

to this conflict, who want to see a peaceful settlement, who want to see peace on our continent.

I absolutely agree that you get peace through strength. You get peace by demonstrating that Putin cannot win. You get peace by helping the

Ukrainians deliver what they need on the battlefield because they are fighting for their country which has been illegally invaded.


SOARES: Let's get more on all these strands. Our Clare Sebastian joins me here in London with all the developments. And Clare, it is clear to see, at

least we've seen today, we have been seeing for several weeks, along that kind of long sprawling front line that the Russians are pushing, not just

in the east, but also in the south.

At the same time, we are seeing, and we've seen this on the show, since, of growing unity from European leaders. At least talking now about the

importance of upping the defense mechanism in Europe in case of potentially a U.S. election. Who knows? How do you see the developments that we've been

hearing -- what we've been hearing? Does that match what is happening in terms of what they're putting out in terms of ammunition?

CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Not yet, but there are plans afoot, right? There's a long-term plan which was agreed this week, $1.6 billion

for, sort of, a joint defense industry plan. This is the first time the European Union has got together and come up with a sort of joint division

for its defense industry. That's long term because it doesn't actually kick in until next year.

But in the short term, they are -- they do seem to be coalescing around this Czech-led initiative to get ammunition from third countries, from

outside the European Union, which has been somewhat controversial so far.



SEBASTIAN: France is now signed on to it. Norway today said it would donate $150 million or more than $150 million to that initiative.

So, there seems to be some movement there, and that would be fairly quick if it was to go ahead. But I think there is a sense also that David Cameron

was emphasizing unity today because there have been signs of disunity that Russia has picked up on. So, we're talking about that leaked German phone

call which of course also mentioned British operations.

SOARES: Macron?

SEBASTIAN: Right. Raising questions of trust between allies. Macron's comments on opening the debate on putting boots on the ground in Ukraine

which led to this, sort of, collective --

SOARES: Yes --

SEBASTIAN: -- walk back --

SOARES: -- we saw that here on the show.

SEBASTIAN: -- from all of his allies. Russia -- Russian media was quick to pick up on that. The farmers' protest, they're also picking up on, partly,

over the lifting of trade tariffs on Ukrainian grains.

So, Russia is certainly picking up on all of this. But on the flip side, the rhetoric from Europe, it is stepping up. We do see a contrast between

the, as long as we can from President Biden in December, and the likes of what we're hearing, for example, in a tweet from Ursula von der Leyen after

that close call attack near President Zelenskyy and the Greek Prime Minister yesterday. Just saying, you know, we're now more than ever, we

stand with Ukraine.

So, I think we definitely are getting that sense from European leaders driven. I think, partly by developments on the ground and also by the

deadlock still there in Congress.

SOARES: Yes, because it doesn't look like that Russia is on the offensive.


SOARES: And Putin looks emboldened.


SOARES: And these plays -- well, I mean, the -- this -- the moves and the recapturing of Avdiivka looks well to his -- to the population. He's got

elections coming up. I'm not sure how he plays the unity of NATO, the fact that Sweden's now on board.

You have been looking -- you've lived in Russia. You speak Russian. You know the country well. You have been looking at the propaganda machine



SOARES: What have you seen? How has it differentiated her from over the years?

SEBASTIAN: So, it's -- you know, it's stepping up at the moment because, you know, we're now in the third year of this war which has been incredibly

costly for Russia. And there is, in a way -- there are -- there's nowhere to hide from that at the moment.

So, instead, they're stepping up to sort of anti-Western rhetoric. It's also stepping up ahead of elections. We're seeing a lot of images making

from Putin. This, of course, partly because there's no debates. There's no rallies. There's none of the normal trappings of an election season.

The Kremlin says that's because he's the incumbent. But ultimately what we do see is that a lot of his very powerful propagandists are doing that work

on his behalf on state TV. Take a look.


SEBASTIAN (voice-over): Flying into a fifth term, the war of Putin's nuclear capable strategic bomber almost as loud as the propaganda machine

propelling him forward.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Vladimir Putin on board of the most powerful, the biggest, the fastest strategic bomber.

SEBASTIAN (voice-over): This is Putin's desired pre-election image. Strong, vigorous, calling the shots in his so-called special military

operation, and letting his chief propagandists' campaign on his behalf on state TV.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): He works until late, late at night, starts again in the morning. I just want to say thank you to him, to

our president.

SEBASTIAN: As we get closer to elections in Russia in March, we're seeing more and more of this more obvious propaganda. But there are also slightly

more subtle tactics at play, and the most prominent of those is the constant scapegoating, or even outright trolling of the U.S.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking in a foreign language).

SEBASTIAN (voice-over): One popular talk show played this split screen on a loop. Putin boarding his bomber, Biden tripping up the steps of Air Force

One. News reports on the war in Ukraine regularly showing off the wreckage of Western weapons. There's even a discarded Starlink container.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking in a foreign language).

SEBASTIAN (voice-over): Boris Akunin, one of Russia's most popular modern authors says the West needs to take note of this.

BORIS AKUNIN, RUSSIAN WRITER: Putin benefits from this picture of the outside world as a -- as something hostile so that people would unite

around him. When the war started, a lot of Russians start -- emigrated. Then they met with hostility. A lot of them had to return. And every single

case has been used by Putin's propaganda to strengthen this idea that we are together. We are a besieged camp.

SEBASTIAN (voice-over): Alexei Navalny knew how to get around Putin's propaganda machine and its longstanding policy of ignoring him. From this

cramped Moscow headquarters, which I visited in 2017, he and his colleagues beamed their message to millions of Russians by a YouTube. And yet his

death was something state media temporarily found itself unable to ignore.

First discrediting his legacy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): He was a Nazi.

SEBASTIAN (through translator): Then blaming the west.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): For them, this is excellent timing, we have elections coming up. Support for the president is off the



SEBASTIAN (voice-over): Finally turning on his widow, Yulia.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We looked at the life of the queen of the opposition, during the time he was in prison.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Two hours after the news of the death of her husband, the wife emerges all made up. Listen, the girls will

understand me, even her mascara didn't run. How do you manage that?

SEBASTIAN (voice-over): For Akunin, Navalny's death is more than just a propaganda challenge. It signals propaganda may now be taking a back seat

to a much blunter instrument of control, outright repression.

AKUNIN: By killing Alexei Navalny, they lost the last chance of trying to pretend that they were legal dissent law abiding. Intimidation is now going

to be the main instrument.


SEBASTIAN (on camera): Obviously, the Kremlin has said that any accusations the Russian authorities were behind the death of Alexei

Navalny. They've called those accusations unfounded. His spokesperson says that the medical certificate seen by his mother said the official cause of

death was natural causes.

And I will say that the propaganda machine, having had that burst of interest after his death, trying to discredit him and his widow have gone

back to, basically, ignoring his existence and certainly ignoring the crowds that we saw at his funeral.

SOARES: Clare Sebastian, that fascinating piece. Thank you very much, Clare.

And still to come tonight, the U.S. is pushing for Haiti's Prime Minister to speed up the political transition, while a powerful gang member

threatens civil war. We have the very latest from Haiti, next.


SOARES: While Haiti remains engulfed in chaos, with the country's state of emergency now extended until April the 3rd. Only one public hospital is

still operating in the capital, Port-au-Prince. It's taken in nearly 70 patients with gunshot wounds since last weekend. Several other medical

centers have been burned down in the last 24 hours by gangs.

They are demanding the ouster of Prime Minister Ariel Henry. The U.S. insists it is not pushing for Henry to resign, but it is calling on him to

urgently establish a presidential transitional council, which will clear the way for elections.

Our David Culver, recently returned from Haiti, and he has this story from there.



DAVID CULVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A major escalation of gang violence is taking Haiti hostage. Scenes like this playing out in Port-au-

Prince Wednesday. Banks, looted with ATMs smashed open. People scrambling to gather whatever they can. Several police stations bombed out by powerful

gangs who now freely stroll through the streets.

The rising anger directed towards Prime Minister Ariel Henry.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking in a foreign language).

CULVER (voice-over): One gang leader in the capital threatening that if Henry does not step down, it will mean genocide for the Haitian people, and

it is most often the people who pay the price.

We were in Haiti just before this recent surge in violence, people venting to us their frustrations. Wanting Henry to go, and barricading their

neighborhoods to stop would-be gang kidnappers. Perhaps the biggest indicator of dysfunction comes from the top.

All of this happening while a major mystery looms. Where exactly is Prime Minister Henry? He was last seen last week signing an agreement in Kenya,

securing the deployment of Kenyan police officers to Haiti, expected to arrive any day now.

The "Miami Herald" says, Henry then boarded a flight that went first to the U.S., and then on toward Haiti's island neighbor, the Dominican Republic

for an indefinite stopover. But officials in the DR blocked his arrival.

Instead, Henry's plane went on to Puerto Rico. The "Miami Herald" reporting that Henry was mid-flight when the Biden administration asked him to agree

to a new transitional government and resign. The White House pushing back on that.

KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We are definitely not pushing Prime -- the Prime Minister to resign. That is not what we're

doing. But we have underscored that now is the time to finalize a political accord to help set Haiti on a path to a better future.

CULVER (voice-over): Where Henry is now is not clear, nor is the direction of his country, which is increasingly under the tightening grip of gangs.

David Culver, CNN, New York.


SOARES: Let's get more from the region from our Patrick Oppmann who is in Havana. Patrick, good to see you. It's clear from what we heard there from

our David Culver that we do not know where Henry -- Ariel Henry is. But if we leave the politics for just a moment, just talk to the impact of this

lawlessness, where we have seen the healthcare system is now near collapse.

PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN HAVANA-BASED CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. It's a country that is being held hostage by these well-armed and increasingly

violent gangs. And services like healthcare, like running water, like electricity, just basic security is being increasingly threatened.

And Haitians are desperate. Are having to turn to looting to survive. And, you know, food can't come in by air across the border with the Dominican

Republic if people can evacuate. I talked to one foreign diplomat, you know, understandably is much better off than the Haitians. But she told me

that, you know, they had stocked up with food and water. Perhaps, you know, expecting that this could happen any day now, but of course the supplies

are running low.

So, you know, that's someone who's quite a bit better off than Haitians. Thousands of them have had to flee from their homes as the gang violence

has unfolded here. So, you know, is there a political solution to this? You know, is there -- you know, just by Henry stepping down, is that going to

placate the gangs? It's hard to see how that will happen if the Kenyan soldiers are expected, any time soon, where there's no update, no sign that

they are coming to the rescue here.

So, what will change in the short order? You know, announcing a transitional government in elections doesn't seem like it will do what

these gangs are just marauding and rampaging. We should remind folks, that this is because they want to hold on to a very lucrative, legal trade,

which is, you know, running drugs, kidnapping people. And they are afraid that would be threatened by some, sort of. international force coming in.

So, they are certainly taking the fight to the Haitian government and at this point winning.

SOARES: Yes, and what we've heard from Giles Carr (ph), the renowned photographer here on the show yesterday, who has come face to face with

this gang leader, "Barbecue", it seems they are now working together, all these gangs, as an alliance, trying to unseat Henry. And they want a seat

at the table, but do not want, like you're saying, Patrick, any foreign interference.

We'll be interested to see how exactly this -- what the U.S. is calling for will actually, if anything, will change on the ground. Patrick Oppmann

there for us in Havana. Good to see you, Patrick. Appreciate it.

And still to come tonight, a new climate record has been broken for the hottest February. We'll have the latest data in a live report. That is




SOARES: Welcome back, everyone.

A new record has been set, but it's not one, really, to celebrate. New data shows this past February was the hottest on record. It is the ninth month

in a row that heat records have been shattered. And it's not just temperatures on land, by the way. Ocean temperatures in the North Atlantic

have also broken records each day for a year.

Joining us now more on this report, CNN's Bill Weir. So, Bill, put these milestones here into context for us and for our viewers. Just how

significant are they?

BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Isa, they're enough to, really, just drop the jaws of climate scientists around the world who study

this stuff, obviously, for a living and have predicted this warming as a result of a century of fossil fuels.

But this, it's just incomprehensible how much these numbers are jumping up. It's about 1.77 degrees in February of global warming, the highest hottest

ever. But this is the ninth month in a row. I sound like a broken record because that's all we're doing with heat records, is breaking them again

and again and again.

Those air -- surface temperatures, of course, lead to all kinds of problems, from drought to the melting glaciers, which cause floods, those

sorts of things. But the ocean temperatures, on top of this, which is not as noticeable to the general public out there, are almost statistically


Think about -- it was March 5th of 2023, over a year ago, when the first record was broken for a hot day of ocean temperatures. It has been broken

every day since then, and just keeps going up. And that, not only is horrible for ocean life from the coral reefs, and all of that, but it means

stronger hurricanes and more intense weather for people living on land as well.

And unfortunately, these are also some of the coolest months of the rest of our lives because a lot of these -- the physics are built in to the heating

system right now.

SOARES: And often, you and I have spoken about this, Bill. Often, we hear that, you know, that El Nino plays a role in this kind of unprecedented

heat. How much of this, this data is El Nino or how much of this is us and our greenhouse gas emissions?

WEIR: Well, it's both. It's a little, you know, it's El Nino on top of manmade global overheating. That's definitely happening. But El Nino is,

sort of, winding down now. That happens -- it usually lasts a year and a half or two years. It's winding down. It should be replaced by La Nina,

which is a cooling pattern. But the oceans are already so bathtub warm that as we head into hurricane season in the North Atlantic, you got to wonder

what kind of difference that will make.

And what's an interesting side note of this, Isa, is that global emissions of heat trapping gases have gone up and have hit peaks.


Because hydropower is getting weaker as the planet heats up as there's less moisture in rivers and so they're not spinning the turbines in what are

supposed to be renewable, you know, sustainable sources. The dams, hydroelectric dams. So, it just, sort of, exacerbates the problem on

different levels.

SOARES: And the knock-on effect, just to use that line for industry, that is really interesting, too. I hadn't heard that angle. But -- and, you

look, our viewers will know this because we've covered it in depth in the show. This, you know, we saw the droughts, the devastating fires over

Europe last year. This is pretty uncharted territory. Are we to expect more of this of the same this -- in the coming months of this unstable weather

here, Bill?

WEIR: I believe so, Isa. I mean, there's nothing stopping this. That, you know, the emissions are going at the current rates. There's no massive

organized effort around the world to walk away from fossil fuel reserves and those sorts of things. And so, until Earth can stop, you know, humanity

can stop the heating and figure out a way to pull that excess Co2 from the sky, it's just going to keep going up.

SOARES: I wish we had some good news, Bill, for us --

WEIR: Me too.

SOARES: -- to talk about. I mean --

WEIR: I used to be fun.

SOARES: -- we're always talking about depressive data but --

WEIR: I used to be fun at parties.

SOARES: Next time. Next time. Bill, good to see you.

WEIR: Good to see you.

SOARES: Thanks very much.

That does it for us for tonight. Thank you very much for your company. Do stay right here. "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" is up next. I shall see you

tomorrow. Bye-bye.