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Isa Soares Tonight

Columbia University Gives Pro-Palestinian Protesters Deadline To Clear Encampment Or Face Suspension; Blinken In Riyadh Saudi Arabia For Israel-Hamas Ceasefire Talks; Conservative Students In Iran Stand With U.S. Protesters; Student Protesters At Columbia Vote To Stay Beyond Deadline; Russian Strikes Hit Ukraine Ahead Of Western Aid Delivery; Transitional Council Works To Stabilize Gang-Ravaged Nation. 2-3p ET

Aired April 29, 2024 - 14:00   ET



ISA SOARES, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: A very warm welcome to the show, everyone, I'm Isa Soares. Tonight, the deadline is here. Columbia

University gives pro-Palestinian protesters until the top of this very hour right now to clear the encampment after talks had failed.

The students say they won't move until their demands are met. We will have, of course, the very latest for you. Then, fresh hope that officials are

edging closer to a ceasefire deal in Gaza. We'll have all the details as the U.S. Secretary of State arrives in the region, hoping of course, to

jump-start negotiations.

Plus, CNN travels deep inside Haiti's gang territory for an exclusive interview with one of the FBI's most wanted. You do not want to miss that

interview with our David Culver. But first, just moments ago, Columbia University's deadline passed, calling for protesters opposed to the war in

Gaza to clear out of encampment on campus or face suspension.

And here, you can see live images we're bringing that to you at Columbia University, is not live, clearly as you can see, these are Getty images.

The protesters in New York show no signs though of slowing down. That is of course, despite the deadline that's just been gone in the last minute and

20 seconds or so.

Now, a short time ago, student protesters voted to stay, and as you can see on this map that we're going to bring you up, you can get the scale of

these protests because this campus protests are happening from coast-to- coast. Many colleges in U.S. are struggling as we've shown you for the last week or so, to really regain control.

And this weekend at UCLA, rival demonstrators clashed when a security barrier was breached.




SOARES: This was at Emory in Atlanta, in Georgia. Police arrested 28 people at Emory University for the protest there last week. In response, faculties

are pushing for no confidence vote on the school's president. And this is not just universities in the U.S., this was outside, this was a scene --

you can see there, at the Sorbonne in Paris.

Protesters gathered in a courtyard at the university earlier, police moved in and cleared the way, the demonstrations following a request from the

university. We saw similar protests, if you remember, Sciences Po also in Paris last week. We are joined now by a student at Columbia University,

Noah Bernstein. He's also the deputy news editor of the "Columbia Daily Spectator".

Noah, I really appreciate you coming back on the show. As you -- as you just heard me outline there for viewers, this deadline has come. People

have to decide, protesters have to decide, students, whether to stay or go or face suspension. What are you hearing? Are people going to heed that


NOAH BERNSTEIN, DEPUTY NEWS EDITOR, COLUMBIA DAILY SPECTATOR: It is unlikely. I think you are right to say that there are no signs of slowing

for these protests, both at Columbia and within New York City as a whole. We don't know exactly what will happen as you've pointed out yourself,

there was a 2:00 p.m. deadline and uncertainty has really emerged as a big theme among many people who we reported with recently.

SOARES: So, Noah, these deadlines come, we're now three minutes in. Do you know how students, how protesters will be moved? Will they call the police

to move these students? What are you being told? What are you hearing?

BERNSTEIN: Right, so, we know a number of things. First of all, many of the demonstrators voted at a meeting a few hours ago to not heed President

Shafik's 2:00 p.m. deadline, number one. Number two, there was a notice sent out by university administrators a few days ago, saying that they are

not considering bringing back the NYPD at this time.

We have not received any further communication on that matter, but it seems unlikely that we will see more arrests in the few, you know, next hour.

However, an e-mail sent earlier this morning by the president herself specified that they will consider using alternative internal options. It's

vague language. We're not sure what --

SOARES: Yes --

BERNSTEIN: That means. So, it remains to be seen.

SOARES: So, clearly, an impasse continues -- and there was also this document, was there not, Noah, that they were asking students to sign, but

some of the protests were asking people not to sign.


What exactly does that document entail? Does it detail?

BERNSTEIN: Right, so, this document is part of a bigger litany of questions about enforcement and self-identification. The thing that you're talking

about being signed essentially serves to self-identify encampment demonstrators, and those who oblige with this university request, with

academic probation, that will last about a year, otherwise, all students in the encampment, risks suspensions, and those have much more extreme

consequences, including the loss of housing, obviously, loss of access to classrooms.

SOARES: Yes --

BERNSTEIN: So, there's a decision that many people have to make and it seems that this encampment remains unified and they decide to risk

suspension however, you know, again, this is all unfolding literally as we speak.

SOARES: Look, we have seen heated protests. We have seen some violence as well across some campuses. Just speak to the mood right now, clearly, very

tense as we -- as we reach this junction, Noah.

BERNSTEIN: Absolutely. I think an important thing to remember here is that many of the people participating in these demonstrations especially on

campus are students. And we have -- it was coming up -- we are in reading week, at least the undergraduates are.

So, that is a stressor sort of the tangential side of these protests and the enforcement of university rules. Around campus, as it pertains to these

issues, there's a lot of fear and there's also a lot of uncertainty from pretty much everybody on all sides of the issue. It is unfolding, you know,

minute by minute. And there's also been a critique we've heard about the enforcement of university policy, which is sort of contributed to this

desire for more certainty and communication from the administration.

SOARES: Are you -- are you referring to -- are you referring that the police being brought here earlier on? Do you think they went too far?

BERNSTEIN: Well, so, it's not my place to say what I think, but I think, you know, we know from our reporting that a number of students and faculty

were upset by this decision.

SOARES: Right.

BERNSTEIN: It's a very big step, especially given the context of Columbia's protests in 1968, that created actually a mechanism in the university

called the University Senate, which is essentially a student and faculty governance organization, which the president has to consult before

authorizing the NYPD onto campus to make --

SOARES: Yes --

BERNSTEIN: These arrests. That was a step that she took previously which resulted in the clearing of the original encampment and 108 demonstrators

were arrested. However, doesn't seem likely, at least, from our reporting now that this will --

SOARES: Yes --

BERNSTEIN: Happen again, at least in the near future.

SOARES: Yes, I mean, the fear is, of course, and many would say that perhaps that inflamed the situation. Noah, really appreciate you bringing

us the very latest. Do stay with us, so we're keeping an eye on all the developments. Noah Bernstein, thank you very much.

I want to turn -- leave Columbia, of course, we're keeping an eye on what's happening in Columbia, we're seven minutes into that deadline, of course,

that's been set. I want to turn now to UCLA where the situation turned violent, if you remember, over the weekend, we showed you a little clip.

Camila Bernal joins us now from Los Angeles with the very latest. Camila, what are you seeing? What is the status of the protesters there?

CAMILA BERNAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Isa, so, it's very calming comparison to yesterday when we did see violent clashes. You had two groups

of protesters. You had the pro-Israeli protesters and you had the pro- Palestinian protesters. And when they came together, that's when you saw the pushing, the shoving, the screaming, the both verbal and physical


And we were here to witness at all despite all of that, the encampment remains in place. So, what you're seeing here behind me is all the people

who have chosen to stay here at UCLA for an undefined period of time. We were told by one of the organizers that they believe at least 50 people are

inside of that camp permanently, and then more come as the day goes on.

So he says, you know, you can reach 100 or more people inside of that encampment. And so, what we're seeing today is more security officers

because that's what UCLA has done as a response to what happened yesterday. I'm going to walk down here -- yesterday, this is where a lot of those

protesters were, the pro-Israeli protesters were on this side.

And so, that's part of why you see the wood. They were trying to block access and block the view from those protesters. And again, the problem

that the university was having was keeping the two sides separate. Just a few minutes ago, I spoke to a student who is part of the encampment and who

is actually a Jewish PHD student here at UCLA.

And what he was telling me was that he has to think about whether or not the university here will give them an ultimatum because I told him, you

know, are you willing to be suspended? And he said, I have to think about it. It's a hard decision.


He also said that in this case, in the UCLA negotiations, he says that they have gone into the university and made their demands, but says that at the

moment, they have not heard an answer from the university. He says that the last thing they heard was that the university was not going to meet their


I reached out to UCLA, and what they're telling me is that they do not have an answer in terms of those negotiations, but they also do not have a

deadline for the students here. And so, the question is, how long are they going to be allowed to stay here?

The university not giving them a deadline just yet. So again, tensions were extremely high yesterday, we saw a lot of confrontations, but things are a

lot more calm today, but you are seeing those security officers. This is the metal barrier that they were trying to keep up yesterday to divide

those protesters.

Eventually, what they had to do was that a lot of the security guards on their bicycles had to make a line to essentially divide the two sides of

the protests. And that's how they were able to essentially bring down those physical encounters. Eventually though, they did push out everybody out of

campus yesterday, and we did see campus police in riot gear, but they did not engage with those protesters. Nobody here at UCLA has been arrested

yet. Isa?

SOARES: Camila, I know you'll stay across as soon as there are anymore developments, of course. I know you'll bring it to us. Thank you very much

Camila Bernal there for us in Los Angeles. We'll stay across, of course -- all the protests across the United States from east, west coast, including

of course, the protests in the state of those negotiations which have clearly failed at Columbia University where students and protesters have to

decide whether to leave campus or face suspension.

Well, support among college students for U.S. President Joe Biden is falling, thanks in part to the Israel-Hamas war. A new CNN poll shows only

28 percent of those polled approve of President Biden's handling of the conflict as you can see there.

Among younger people aged 18 to 34, 81 percent disapprove of his job performance. And we should note, voters and even younger voters listed the

war as lower on their list of priorities. While these pro-Palestinian protests that we've been showing you an American University campuses are

being followed right around the world.

In Gaza, a banner was displayed in support of the demonstrations, thanking students in solidarity with people of the devastated area. In Iran, U.S.

protests in support of Palestinians are being hailed as a unifying moment against Israel. But as you may remember, Iran has cracked down on its own

student protests, not forget that protest movement, which started back in 2022.

Our Fred Pleitgen is in Tehran and he joins us now. So, Fred, what are Iranian leaders saying about these protests across the United States? What

kind of reaction are you hearing on the ground?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think first of all, one of the interesting things that we've been observing

here over the past couple of days that we've been on the ground here in Tehran is how important the protests that are going on at U.S. campuses and

also of course, some of the arrests that have been taking place there, how important that is to Iran's leadership.

In fact, we've already had Iran's president ripping into the United States, of course, ripping into Israel as well, but also the foreign minister

really commenting on various occasions, and then what we've seen here over the weekend, and we were at one of these protests, was actually protests of

what the Iranians say was in support of U.S. pro-Palestinian students. Here's what we witnessed.



PLEITGEN (voice-over): Pro-Palestinian protesters at U.S. colleges getting vocal support from Iran. Conservative students and faculty at Tehran

University staging a demo this weekend, chanting death to America and death to Israel, saying they stand with those occupying U.S. universities.

"We not only support them, we are one united voice", this woman says, "we are like organs of the same body."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: American students also came out. It's great. We didn't - - we didn't think that they would come out. But the fact that they came out shows that, you know, we're fighting for the same thing.

PLEITGEN: "This movement by American students shows that freedom seeking and support of the oppressed has expanded all over the world", this man

says. The Biden administration ripped into Iran over its crackdown of protests that swept the country in the Fall of 2022 after the death and

police custody of Mahsa Amini, who was accused of breaking the country's strict hijab rules.

ANTONY BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE, UNITED STATES: The international community has come together to condemn and confront Iran's brutal

crackdown, and we'll continue to act in support of the right of the Iranian people to speak out for their fundamental freedoms.

PLEITGEN: But now Iran says the U.S.' support of Israel's operation in Gaza, killing tens of thousands of Palestinians and police action against

some of those occupying campuses is tarnishing America's own reputation.


(on camera): Iran's leadership has been extremely vocal about the pro- Palestinian protests going on, on some U.S. campuses. They say the arrests that have been seen undermine America's role as a leading supporter, both

of civil rights and a free-speech.

(voice-over): For decades, Iran has been the U.S. and Israel's strongest adversary in the Middle East. Iran and Israel recently trading direct

military blows for the first time. I went to a press conference of the Iranian Foreign Ministry, the spokesman saying, Tehran believes global

opinion is now shifting their way.

"Public opinion of the world and free thinkers of the world will not tolerate this genocide and their loud voice won't be silenced", he said,

and through police actions and violent crackdown policies, they cannot silence the voice of those that protest against this crime and genocide."

Tehran ripping into the U.S. as the protesters on American campuses demand schools divest from Israel and want the Biden administration to pressure

Israel to stop its attacks.


PLEITGEN: And of course, Isa, the Iranian demands very much in line from what we've seen from some of those college students in the United States.

But it is a really interesting dynamic that we are seeing on the ground here, how involved Iran's leadership is in all of this.

And one of the things that we also heard from that spokesman that we saw -- just saw in our report is, he was accusing the United States of what he

calls a double-standard as far as human rights are concerned, Isa.

SOARES: Fred Pleitgen for us this evening in Tehran in Iran, thank you very much, Fred. And still to come tonight, a new push for ceasefire in Gaza.

Why the U.S. Secretary of State remains hopeful on his visit to the region. That is next.


SOARES: If you're just joining us, let me bring you up-to-date with our top story. Pro-Palestinian demonstrators at Columbia University in New York say

they aren't going anywhere. That's after university deadline for them to leave protest encampments expired.

In fact, expired in the last 20 minutes. I want to bring in Miguel Marquez, he's outside Columbia University for more on the situation there. And

Miguel, that deadline's come and gone. What are you hearing? What are you seeing?

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN SENIOR U.S. NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it was a deadline to tell them that they had to leave the encampment and then they

would face suspension.


So, it sounds like the -- Columbia University is going to take days basically to ratchet up the pressure on the protesters inside. But this has

been action and reaction, as soon as the call went out, that they were meant to leave at 2:00 p.m. Protesters inside called for a protest outside

-- now, I want to show you sort of how what happened there. It's several dozen protesters now, police, NYPD quickly showed up to set up barriers to

keep protesters away from the gates of Columbia.

And we're going to walk around the side here. You could see all those signs, they've been chanting out here for about an hour now, the crowd is

growing. It was -- it was a few dozen when they started. And now, there's several dozen people here. It's not clear how long they will be up here

because it is very hot today.

We haven't had a hot day like this. It almost -- it's probably the hottest day so far this year and it's going to get very hot for protesters out

there. But this is the main gate for Columbia University. The gate where students can get in is all the way down there, where you can see that blue

tent down there.

So, all students have to be checked in by security for the university. They're keeping NYPD out of this right now. The question is, where does

this go? It was two weeks ago that the encampment was cleared out by NYPD. That then set off a massive reaction across the country and around the

world in solidarity with the students that were arrested here, about 108 -- look, it is final time. There are lots of exams happening.

It's also commencement in a couple of weeks, and the area where the encampment is, is where commencement takes place. So, it is not clear how

this is all going to go, but you can see the number of students on the other side there who are lining up, having their IDs checked to get onto


This is the only way into campus on this side. And then on Amsterdam on the other side of campus, there's a way in as well. But it is very disruptive

to students and Columbia officials say it has to end. Back to you.

SOARES: Yes, and New York police said they had not received a formal request to enter Columbia campus. I know we'll stay across it. Miguel,

appreciate it, thank you very much. Miguel Marquez there. Well, there is new hope meantime, that there may be some momentum behind a diplomatic push

for desperately-needed ceasefire in Gaza.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is in Saudi Arabia to try to jump- start talks. He is urging Hamas to accept what he says -- what he's calling extraordinary, generous, his words, proposal from Israel. Hamas officials

are meeting in Egypt to consider the framework of a deal that would see the release of as many as 33 Israeli hostages over several weeks.

And while these talks go on, there is no pause in the devastating violence as well as the suffering the war is leaving behind. Officials in Gaza say

at least 20 people, including an infant and a toddler were killed in an Israeli airstrike in Rafah. It was a heartbreaking scene at one hospital

where victims were brought, loved ones gathering to sit -- to say, as you can see, their final farewells.

We are tracking all the developments with CNN's Kylie Atwood with the State Department and Jeremy Diamond in Jerusalem. Begin with Jeremy, and Jeremy,

correct me if I'm wrong, but there seems -- there seems to be some sort of diplomatic optimism here. Just explain what's in this ceasefire and hostage

framework. What are you hearing?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN JERUSALEM CORRESPONDENT: Well, certainly, there's a sense that things are moving once again, there is a new ambitious proposal

on the table, and one that certainly, the Israeli government seems to be warming to, and now the question is whether Hamas will. This latest

Egyptian framework was submitted to Hamas over the weekend.

And now negotiators are waiting to see what Hamas' response will be. It would see the release of 20 to 33 Israeli hostages released over the course

of several weeks for a first phase of these negotiations, Israel has also agreed under this proposal to allow the unrestricted return of Palestinians

to Northern Gaza, something they have resisted and something that has been a key Hamas sticking point for months now.

So, that is giving some optimism, and then there would be a second phase of the agreement, which they are talking about calling it the restoration of

sustainable calm, effectively diplomatic-speak for a longer-term ceasefire, a one-year ceasefire that would see the withdrawal of Israeli troops, the

return of all Israeli hostages, including the bodies of those deceased Israeli hostages in Gaza, and effectively ending this war in Gaza.

Now, the question is how -- what will the choreography between phases one and phases two, but for the moment, the key question is simply whether or

not this is something that Hamas is willing to actually engage in negotiating in good faith. And whether or not, they will determine whether

or not the Israeli government continues to engage in these negotiations or whether they choose to go another path.


And that is the path of a major Israeli ground offensive in Gaza's southernmost city of Rafah, where more than a million Palestinians are

currently living. Israeli officials making very clear that if these talks do not go well over the coming week, then a Rafah offensive is certainly in

the offing.

SOARES: Yes, and Kylie, as Jeremy just outlined, you know, timing here clearly is of the essence, right to try and avoid a Rafah offensive. You

interviewed Secretary Blinken --


SOARES: I think it was last week. What are you hearing either from the Egyptians and from the U.S. as to whether Hamas -- whether they believe

Hamas will play ball here?

ATWOOD: Well, listen, that is the major question and U.S. officials aren't really giving a clear answer on that front, because there's very little

leverage, frankly, that they have with Hamas. We heard from the Secretary of State this morning, as you said, trying to put more pressure on Hamas,

but the U.S. and other parties have been doing that for some time now.

He said that the offer on the table from the Israelis is extraordinarily generous. He said that, you know, Hamas has to make a decision and they

have to make a decision quickly here, effectively warning them that if they don't go ahead and come to an agreement with, you know, the bits that are

on the table now that the Egyptians have put together, that things could get worse for them.

That the Israelis obviously have been warning as Jeremy was saying here, that they're going to go into Rafah, and it looks like they will do that if

there isn't a ceasefire agreement and release of these hostages come to, in some short time here.

The other part of this that U.S. officials are really focused on right now and trying to finish up is this overall framework that the Biden

administration is hoping would actually bring an end to this ongoing conflict. It would be a historic and very large deal that would include the

normalization of relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia.

A new defense agreement between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia. And then of course, you know, there are other parts such as the two-state solution

between Israel and the Palestinians that would be laid out very clearly in this framework. We know that the Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Saudi Arabia today.

The State Department in the read-out said that they discussed ongoing efforts to achieve lasting regional peace and security. Therefore, hinting

at that overall framework that they're working at. So, we're watching to see when they can finish that up to lay it on the table and try and get all

parties on board, which of course, is going to be a major hurdle.

SOARES: Yes, indeed, and Jeremy, and we know that Secretary Blinken also addressed today the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. What has he said today

about the crossings that he has been -- the U.S. has been calling for to be opened and the volume of aid here?

DIAMOND: Well, he certainly acknowledged that Israel has made some significant progress, major changes in its approach to humanitarian aid in

Gaza over the course of the last few weeks. But he is also making clear that much more still needs to get in. We have seen really a sea change in

Israel's approach to this.

And there's some indication that, that also maybe because they are preparing for this Rafah offensive, because they know that a coming

offensive in Rafah will likely mean the closure of that Rafah border- crossing between Egypt and Gaza where so much of that humanitarian aid has gotten in.

Of course, they've also faced immense pressure from the United States and the international community to get more aid into Gaza. But the fact that

they've kind of turned the spigot on over the course of the last few weeks is really also just a damning indictment of what they were doing before

indicating very strongly that they could have done more and sooner to get more humanitarian aid into Gaza.

We know that the United States is now in the process of building that floating pier off the coast of the Gaza Strip. It's expected to be ready by

early next month for the delivery of some up to 150 trucks of aid that could drive into Gaza. The Israeli military assisting with that project on

the ground right now.

But certainly, we've seen a significant increase, but humanitarian aid officials in the U.S. saying, we still need more.

SOARES: Jeremy Diamond and our Kylie Atwood, thank you to you both. And still to come tonight, he's known as one of the most dangerous men in war-

torn Haiti. In a CNN exclusive, David Culver speaks with a powerful gang leader accused of destabilizing an entire nation. You do not want to miss

the CNN exclusive.



SOARES: If you're just joining us, let me bring you up to date with our top story, the one that's been following for the last 32 minutes or so, pro-

Palestinian demonstrators at New York's Columbia University are vowing to stay in their encampments. This is after a university deadline, which was

32 minutes ago, 2 o'clock local, to leave or face suspension expired. That expired. They say they're not going anywhere.

Student protests, they're going to hold a news conference soon. Of course, we are monitoring that. As soon as we hear from them, we'll bring that to

you. But this is the reality. This is the press conference we're expecting to hear from them. We're actually expecting to hear from the Columbia

University Apartheid Divest. In a statement, they said, we will not move until Columbia meets our demands, and we are moved by force.

So clearly a very tense situation, as we've seen in Columbia, as we've been seeing over the last few weeks or so. Heated protests. We've also seen

similar scenes across the United States of protests, of violence from the east to the west coast. But really, New York, Columbia University, that's

where the epicenter of these demonstrations. This is where it started.

And they are demanding, these protesters are demanding, the school cuts ties with Israeli academic institutions, disinvests from Israel-linked

entities. Of course, as the death toll, as we brought you here, climbs from Israel's bombardment of Gaza. Protesters on other campuses have had similar


We are keeping an eye on those pictures, of course. We'll bring them to you as soon as there are any more developments.

I want to turn our attention to Ukraine, because as Ukraine waits for U.S. military equipment to arrive, Russian troops are making gains on the

eastern front.

Ukrainian officials report more than a dozen settlements have come under fire over the past day. And then on Monday, Ukraine's president, Volodymyr

Zelenskyy, said there's an urgent need for U.S. weapons and ammunition to arrive quickly. Have a listen to what he said.



VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): The Russian army is now trying to take advantage of the situation when we are waiting

for supplies from our partners, especially from the United States of America. And that is exactly why the speed of deliveries means stabilizing

the front. 155mm artillery, long-range weapons, and air defense systems.

First and foremost, Patriots. Our partners have all of these things, and they should be working now here in Ukraine, destroying the Russian

terrorists' ambitions. Russia's army is preparing for further offensive actions.


SOARES: CNN's Nick Paton Walsh has more, of course, on those expected Russian movements and concerns swirling around Ukrainian military



NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: While U.S. Congress delayed, the damage here was already done. This is rare body-

camera footage from Russians, confident in their advances in the east, slow but sure. Adding to a list of nowhere villages, falling to Moscow day by

day, claiming Monday to have taken here Novaya Mikhaylovka, as Ukraine almost always stops short of saying how bad it's got.

No more true of that is the fate of Ocheretyne, another tiny village in Donetsk, also of southern unwanted fame.

Despite the brutal pounding and evacuation you can see here, a military spokesman claims Sunday the Russians only had a partial foothold.

Currently, the part where the enemy is located is under our fire control, and all measures are being taken to knock the enemy out of there, he said.

This after days of Russian soldiers posting videos of them raising flags inside the town.

Ukraine's official statements, as Russian footage showed a continued advance, showing a distance from reality, common when you're trying to win

a war, but uncommonly now angering normally loyal Ukrainian bloggers. So Ukraine's top military commander was forced to set a bleak record straight,

saying the front lines had escalated as Moscow has concentrated its efforts in several directions, creating a significant advantage in forces and in

means. He said the changing situation had led to an ambiguous understanding.

Here is another case in point, Berdychiv, from which Ukraine was posting bullish videos of Russians being hit just before their commander said

they'd withdrawn Sunday. Across the eastern front, the news is bleak. The change since the fall of Avdiivka 10 weeks ago stark on this Ukrainian

blogger's map.

Russia making its most concerted, widespread and consistent advances perhaps since the invasion. This is Zelenskyy's problem to keep now as he

bolsters morale in towns in the Russian crosshairs. He has the money and so soon the weapons, and the less blame he can shift for failure.

"We are cooperating with our partners at all levels," he said, "to achieve the level of efficiency and assistance that is needed not only to maintain

our positions but also to disrupt Russia's war plans. We're still waiting for the supplies that have been promised to Ukraine."

But more is likely coming. Where you just saw Zelenskyy visit, this is what is left of Chasiv Yar, yet another town. Russia has turned into this

smoldering ruin, here with incendiary munitions, in the name of liberating and demilitarizing Ukraine.

Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, London.


SOARES: Now Reuters is reporting the Haiti's transitional council is planning to meet tomorrow to choose an interim president. It's a key step

towards getting the anarchy that's gripping the country under control.

Haiti hasn't had a functioning government in years. It is a nation wracked by violence as well as dysfunction, with armed gangs maintaining a

stranglehold on the capital. But what exactly do they want?

CNN's David Culver travelled inside gang territory to talk to one influential figure who's on the FBI's most-wanted list. Here's his

exclusive report.


DAVID CULVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This war-torn intersection in Port-au-Prince is the blurred boundary signaling we are now in gang


CULVER: This is an area we have never been into before.

CULVER (voice-over): We're told to drive to this road and someone will meet us.

CULVER: He's assured us that he's sending somebody and so we are to just wait for that person. There looks like a vehicle here, a truck.

CULVER (voice-over): The armed men in the front seat motion for us to follow, so we do. Over rocky and flooded streets. We're venturing deeper

into land that for months Haitian security experts have warned, stay away from.

But we've been assured by this gang's leader that we'll be safe. We only hope his messaging reached all the checkpoints.

CULVER: Four guys in the car behind us as well, so they're fully escorting us in.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Now they've added a motorbike with two guys.

CULVER (voice-over): After 45 minutes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're asking us to move.


CULVER (voice-over): Several dozen masked men and women, most carrying guns, direct us towards a driveway.

CULVER: This guy in front of us now seeming to be leading us to some sort of house. Good.

CULVER (voice-over): We're about to step out and meet Vitel'Homme Innocent, considered by both U.S. and Haitian authorities to be a violent criminal

and leader of the Kraze Barye gang.

He's one of the FBI's 10 most wanted with a bounty of up to $2 million, accused in the kidnapping of American missionaries and the death of another

American hostage.

Vitel'Homme rarely seeks media attention, yet given he commands what some US officials say is the largest gang in Port-au-Prince, and his domain

includes the US Embassy, we wanted to better understand his motives.

Vitel'Homme agrees to meet us.

CULVER: Hi there.

CULVER (voice-over): On his turf.

CULVER: I'm David.

CULVER (voice-over): Flanked by his followers, he leads us inside this flashy mansion.

CULVER: And so is this your home?


CULVER (voice-over): In a room filled with gold-rimmed furniture and stuffed animals, I ask him about the crisis engulfing Haiti.

"Our dream is to rid the country of the corrupt oligarchs and politicians who are holding us back," he says. "We need to get rid of the system and

return stability to Haiti." He speaks with intention and calls for greater dialogue.

"But if it's the same system that's been in power, then as armed groups, we will never put down our weapons," he says.

CULVER: And so do you have regular communications with, as you say, the other armed groups?

CULVER (voice-over): "Yes, we're united, he tells me." The gangs have formed a coalition known as Vivre Ensemble, or Living Together, and

collectively they push back on foreign intervention, holding tight their grips over a fractured state, some using terror tactics like kidnapping,

rape, and murder to sustain control.

CULVER: Is that something you've participated in, in ordering your men and women to kidnap?

CULVER (voice-over): He says he hopes to defend himself in court against those allegations. And while not denying his followers have kidnapped

people, he deflects blame to outside forces for creating a state of corruption as he sees it. He's eager to show us other parts of his home and

territory and introduces us to his top commander.

CULVER: So you're his cousin?

CULVER (voice-over): Security experts suggest Kraze Barye has more than 1,000 armed gang members, including recently escaped inmates.

CULVER: As you can see, a lot of his armed soldiers and followers are around us. And he's suggesting that we follow and drive with them.

CULVER (voice-over): He brings us to the edge of his territory. We notice his guards, normally curious and watching us, are instead looking outward,

cautiously, toward another gang's territory, a reminder that the coalition of gangs might be more fragile than portrayed.

In the midst of our tour, a disturbing video starts circulating on WhatsApp. It reportedly shows the devastating and deadly aftermath of an

allied gang attack on a community a few miles from where we are.

CULVER: The destruction, the violence, the deaths that have played out, do you take any responsibility for that?

CULVER (voice-over): He only says he made mistakes and is not perfect. He blames politicians. We're interrupted. Something nearby puts his guards on


We pick up the conversation a short distance away. Senior Editor Caitlin Hu further pressing for an explanation to the horrors we've seen in Haiti.

CAITLIN HU, CNN SENIOR EDITOR: But we have also met in hospitals women, children, innocent people who have been burned, who have been forced to

leave their homes, who have been shot, who have been raped. Why are innocent people suffering in this struggle?

CULVER (voice-over): He does not clearly answer. Instead, he frames the months of deadly street violence as collateral damage. He points the finger

at police, saying they refused to engage in dialogue and instead recklessly opened fire.

Police say they're desperately trying to keep the gangs from gaining more ground. Vitel'Homme claims to be a man of faith, devout in practicing

voodoo, a common religion here in Haiti.

CULVER: I've heard rumors, and I don't know how true they are, so I ask you that you have voodoo protection. Do you feel that protection?

CULVER (voice-over): "Yes," he tells me confidently, adding that he prays daily for his fellow Haitians.

CULVER: Ultimately, what is it going to take to bring stability and a future of calm to this country?

CULVER (voice-over): He says he and the other armed groups need to be included in discussions of Haiti's future. That's the only way he sees

convincing gang members to drop their guns in exchange for a future outside of violence.


As curfew nears, we head back the way we came, Vitel'Homme stopping several times along the way, mingling with locals, handing out food, smiling as

though on a campaign trail.

CULVER: Are we getting out?

CULVER (voice-over): He wants us to meet these two men, blind refugees. They tell us Vitel'Homme took them in, but it leaves us wondering why help

these men and force so many others out of their homes. "Look at actions over words," he tells me. As we near the edge of his territory and the end

of our five-hour visit.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right, let's not hang around here if we have to.

CULVER (voice-over): Vitel'Homme gets out of his motorcade, waves for us to move forward, and strolls to the desolate street corner. He then comes to

our door and shakes each of our hands. His actions, intentional and symbolic.

CULVER: Here we are, just two blocks from the U.S. Embassy, and that's clearly a demonstration of how confident he is and the many he has around

him displaying their show of force.

CULVER (voice-over): A flexing of strength in a lawless nation, where, today at least, gangs hold the power. David Culver, CNN, Port-au-Prince,



SOARES: We are going to take a short break. We'll see you on the other side.


SOARES: Welcome back, everyone. We are monitoring the situation at the University of Texas where police are confronting, of course, protesters

there. Our Josh Campbell is monitoring it all, and I'm seeing Texas police have now moved in, Josh, to confront the protesters.

We've seen, I mean, clearly heightened tension at the moment across U.S. universities and campuses. Just tell us what's happening.

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, so an escalation by law enforcement there on the campus of the University of Texas in Austin. We've seen now

for just about an hour a colleague, Ed Lavandera, reporting on the scene that this small encampment was set up. This was right in the middle of

campus. You see a couple dozen people that were there.

Authorities then gave a warning to that group saying that they needed to disperse. That's the typical escalation cycle that we've seen in so many of

these protests where once it's determined that these are trespassers that are on site and the university wants them removed, they then go to law



Law enforcement will give that warning and then will eventually go in. Now, we're seeing multiple law enforcement agencies here. I can tell you I'm a

U.T. grad. This is an iconic part of that university where you have Austin police, you have the university police, as well as you can see there are

Texas State Troopers that have brought in their crowd control gear moving in just a short time ago.

We saw a couple people that were taken out appear to be detained by law enforcement, but primarily at this point, it looks like the goal of law

enforcement was to try to disassemble these barriers that this group had set up around this makeshift encampment, pulling down those barriers which

were essentially folding tables and it's yet to be seen right now what will happen with the rest of those individuals if there will indeed be any

arrests. But certainly, as I mentioned, an escalation we're seeing there in Austin.

SOARES: Yes, and this is Texas State Police, correct me if I'm wrong. I mean, clearly tensions are escalating. We are seeing that across different

campuses. We were watching as well what was happening at Columbia. These are live pictures that you are watching right now.

You were saying, how does police know who supposed to be who are student protesters, who are outsiders, Josh? How can they differentiate? How can

they remove people from there?

CAMPBELL: Yes, it's a great question. You know, if anyone is on the campus in an unlawful manner, whether that be a student, a member of the faculty,

or someone from outside, again, once the university itself determines that, you know, these people are here unlawfully, they need to be removed, they

are trespassing, that's when law enforcement then moves in. And then if there are indeed arrests that take place, they will work to fully identify

those individuals to try to determine what was their association, if any, to this university.

Now, it's not a crime in and of itself to go on to a university campus and protest if you have no affiliation. But of course, once law enforcement

deems what they call an unlawful assembly, anyone around that area must then depart. And if they don't, they are certainly subject to arrest and


One thing that we've seen across the country is that different police departments have handled this in very different ways. Texas has been very

aggressive. We know last week, there were over 60 people that were arrested on the campus of UT Austin.

The governor, Republican governor of Texas, came out with a statement very forcefully saying these people deserve to be in jail. Obviously, the state

troopers worked for the governor, so it would be interesting to see if he had any role in ordering this. But in other places, we've seen de-


Right now, certainly arrests in Austin.

SOARES: And as you're looking, I'm not sure if you can see it, but as you're talking about arrests, we've just seen the Texas State Police

arresting one individual on the ground. I wonder, Josh, from what you've seen, not just -- can I just listen very quickly to what they're saying?

Let's just listen.

And as we -- and of course, these are images from our Ed Lavandera, who's on the grind, Josh, who you were mentioning. But, I mean, as we look at

these images, one university student was saying at the top of the hour from Columbia was saying that his feeling and from those students that bringing

in the police kind of inflamed the situation. Does this -- does this provoke protesters even more?

CAMPBELL: Yes, that is the calculus that law enforcement has to do, that calculation. Will our very presence here inflame the situation? But I have

to tell you, you know, regardless of how one comes down on this issue, which has obviously resulted in protests across the country, regardless of

how righteous people think that their cause is, again, regardless of what side they're on the issue, there is no First Amendment right in the U.S. to

protest on private property.

If the owners of that property say you have to go, it's the police who enforce that. Of course, what we've seen in law enforcement, they try to

de-escalate whenever they can rather than coming in with full force like we saw recently in the state of Georgia where law enforcement, you know,

slamming people to the ground.

We're not seeing that right now in Austin. Obviously a very intimidating presence there by law enforcement in this crowd control gear, but it looks

like they've been very selective in who they are actually taking into custody.

And for that matter, it appears as though the protesters are remaining peaceful as well. We're not seeing, as we saw on other campuses, protesters

try to antagonize members of law enforcement, throw things at them and the like. So although this seems very chaotic right now, this is certainly the

best that you can hope for where it looks as though there's no violence obviously that's happening, but of course we'll have to wait and see what

happens as they work through this group to try to get these people off the property hoping that it remains peaceful.

SOARES: Yes, and we raised some eyebrows when we saw the scenes out of Emory University, didn't we? For some perhaps heavy-handedness from the

side of police. But also for the police, I'm guessing, is how, you know, how do you put plans in place in the university, I should say, in order to

maintain, Josh, you know, the students' safety? That's paramount here.

CAMPBELL: No, that is the big question. And, you know, we've been focusing on Columbia University, for example, in New York, where there's that

ongoing protest. We've heard members of the Jewish community there on campus saying that they don't feel safe.


A lot of members of the Jewish community, students and faculty, have gone home and departed early prior to the end of the class session. And so that

is the big question that these administrators at colleges are having to grapple with.

On one hand, you have the open, welcome nature of a university, the ability for people to protest, to, you know, demonstrate the beliefs that they

have, but also, if that then crosses a line and other people feel threatened, either verbally, in certain circumstances, we've seen

harassment, we've seen anti-Semitic material spray-painted on different colleges, that is certainly something that it appears that they're not

going to abide, and that's why we see law enforcement coming in on so many of these campuses, not just a presence, but trying to dismantle some of

these makeshift camps.

SOARES: Yes, and they, of course, these are scenes that we continue to keep an eye on. This is Austin, Texas. As you can see, it's 1.55 p.m. there.

Vocal, but not violent, as you -- as you were saying, Josh. We did see one person, one protester being, it seemed like being arrested, handcuffed, I

think, on the ground earlier as you were talking.

But we are keeping an eye across these protests that we are seeing from the east to the west coast. Of course, we saw at the beginning of the show with

the situation in New York, right, where students, protesters have been told to leave the campus or face suspension. They said they're not going


Josh Campbell, appreciate it as always. Thank you very much.

That does it for us. Do stay right here. "NEWSROOM" with Jim Sciutto is up next.