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New Day Sunday

10 Dead in Shooting in Buffalo, New York; Shooting in Buffalo Seen as Hate Crime; Interview with the Mayor of Buffalo Byron Brown; Russia's War on Ukraine; Finland Decides to Join NATO; Turkey's Concern Over Finland Joining NATO. Aired 7-8a ET

Aired May 15, 2022 - 07:00   ET




CHRISTI PAUL, CNN NEW DAY ANCHOR: Good morning. Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. We are so grateful to have you with us on this Sunday, May 15th. I am Christi Paul.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, Christi. I am Boris Sanchez. We appreciate you starting your morning and your week with us.

We begin today with a tragic shooting in Buffalo, New York.

PAUL: 10 people were killed when a gunman opened fire at a supermarket in a largely black neighborhood in Buffalo.


GRADY LEWIS, WITNESS: I've seen the guy go in, army style, bent over, just shooting at people. And I heard him shooting at people and then I saw three people laying down.


SANCHEZ: Officials say that Payton Gendron, a white 18-year-old was wearing body armor and military-style clothing when he pulled up yesterday at the Tops Friendly Market and started shooting. He picked that spot specifically for its demographics. Officials say he drove for more than 200 miles to carry out that attack in an area with a significant black population.


MAYOR BYRON BROWN, BUFFALO, NEW YORK: This is a community where people love each other. The shooter was not from this community. In fact, the shooter traveled hours from outside this community to perpetrate this crime on the people of Buffalo. A day, when people were enjoying the sunshine, enjoying family, enjoying friends. All manner of happy activities.

People in a supermarket shopping and bullets raining down on them. People's lives being stuff -- snuffed out in an instant for no reason. I have to say that this particular Tops Supermarket is near and dear to my heart. It's one that I worked years ago to help bring to this community. It's one that I patronize from time to time. My family patronizes from time to time. And some of the victims of this shooter's attack are people that all of us standing up here know. So, this is a day of great pain for our community.


SANCHEZ: The suspect was immediately arraigned on first-degree murder charges. Though more are expected to follow. Federal agencies are now investigating the shooting as a potential hate crime and a case of racially motivated domestic terrorism.

PAUL: CNN's Polo Sandoval is with us from Buffalo this morning. So, Polo, you're there. What else have you learned about this shooting?

POLO SANDOVAL CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, the mayor and other local officials, they have just returned back to what is still a very active crime scene, Christi and Boris. That yellow tape still surrounding this neighborhood grocery store where many people were going about their weekend-grocery shopping when the shooting happened yesterday afternoon. That tape will remain for quite some time given just the broad scope of this investigation. It is an extensive one, too. Particularly, after federal authorities announced that this would be handled as a case of racially-motivated violent extremism.

In fact, it was only hours after the shots rang out in the parking lot, not far from where I'm standing, that for authorities came out and saying that it was hate that was fueling the suspected gunman's massacre that was carried out here yesterday afternoon. It was believed that he specifically targeted this grocery store and what is a predominantly black neighborhood here in Buffalo. Shooting 13 people, 10 of them killed. And we now know that 11 of the victims were black.

I want you to hear directly from New York Governor Kathy Hochul who traveled to the site yesterday. We'll be back out here later today speaking to members of the community as she tries to make at least some sense of what happened yesterday.


GOV. KATHY HOCHUL (D-NY): There is a feeding frenzy on social media platforms where hate festers more hate. That has to stop. These outlets must be more vigilant in monitoring social media content. Those who provide these platforms have a moral and ethical, and I hope to have a legal responsibility to ensure that such hate cannot populate these sites.


SANDOVAL: You know, off of what you just heard the governor mentioned, I actually had an opportunity to speak briefly with New York Attorney General Letitia James last night. And she told me that these social media platforms that perhaps might provide an opportunity for these kinds of individuals to basically spout this kind of hate.


This is something that they will certainly be taking a closer look at to see if more can potentially be done to try to limit this kind of access.

But in the meantime, though, investigators will certainly be pouring over just a mountain of evidence. Among that, of course, that 180-page reported manifesto that investigators are looking through right now. It was written by a person claiming to be the person who's currently in custody right now. And basically, what it was, Christi and Boris, were these just racist ramblings about a dwindling white population. So, it is certainly something that will be considered part of this investigation by authorities here on the ground. But as far as this community, the air is heavy with sorrow as the members of this community, local officials wake up to try to make some sense of what happened.

PAUL: Polo Sandoval, we appreciate it so much. Thank you.

Let's go to CNN White House reporter Jasmine Wright now. Jasmine, we know President Biden's obviously been briefed on the shooting. What is the response from the White House?

JASMINE WRIGHT, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, President Biden is mourning the victims of this tragic shooting, but he's also calling for action here. In a statement released last night, the President said that more needs to be learned about the motivation of this shooting, really making way for a thorough investigation to happen.

Now, also in this statement, he said one thing was clear. And I want to read you this part because it's important. The President said, a racially-motivated hate crime is abhorrent to the very fabric of this nation. Any act of domestic terrorism, including an act perpetrated in the name of a repugnant white national ideology, is antithetical to everything we stand for in America. Now, the President added that we must do everything in our power to end hate, and fuel domestic terrorism at the end of this statement released late last night.

Now, also in the statement, he and the first lady, they thanked the first responders that responded on the scene there. He thanked law enforcement officials that really responded to this call. Now later today, we will see the President leaving his home here into n Wilmington, heading back to D.C. where he and the first lady are expected to attend the National Law Enforcement Officials' Memorial in Washington where he will lay a wreath and also give remarks. But I think one thing that we can expect to see from the president over the course of the hours a few days is him tap back into this role of consoler and chief, especially as this nation mourns this tragedy. Christi. Boris.

SANCHEZ: Jasmine Wright traveling with the President in Wilmington, Delaware. Jasmine, thank you.

We want to head back to Buffalo now for a moment. We're actually joined right now by the mayor, Byron Brown, who we heard from just a few moments ago.

PAUL: We're going to -- we're going to get with him actually in just a moment.

But in the meantime, I want to bring in former-acting police commissioner in Baltimore and CNN Law Enforcement Anthony Barksdale. As well as Areva Martin, a civil rights attorney and CNN legal analyst with us. Thank you both for being here. We certainly appreciate it.

I want to talk, first of all, if I could -- Mr. Barksdale, about the means part of this -- this whole conversation. The engagement of the firefight that ensued. The fact that this happened at 2:30 in the afternoon, and that he drove almost three hours to get to this grocery store and to this community, what does that tell you about his intention for mass violence?

ANTHONY BARKSDALE, FORMER ACTING BALTIMORE POLICE COMMISSIONER AND CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: His mindset was clear. I mean, his actions speak for themselves. We also have to look at -- when you talk about the engagement, the firefight, this -- this officer, former officer, working there did engage. But he goes there to this location full of innocent victims with body armor. He also has a tactical helmet on. So, the mindset was clear. He was there to take black lives and nothing was going to stop him.

PAUL: Anthony, Areva, please just stand by with us here for a moment because we do want to get to the Mayor of Buffalo, Byron Brown. Mr. Mayor, can you hear us?

BROWN: I can't see you but I can hear you.

PAUL: OK. That's fine. Thank you so much for being with us. I have heard you say, we're hurting, we're seething, the depth of the pain we feel cannot be explained. What have you heard from your community? And how is everybody this morning? What do you think they need most from you right now?

BROWN: Shock, anger, heartbreak, a lot of tears. This is unimaginable. I don't think when you wake up in the morning on a beautiful day, sun shining, children riding bicycles, playing little league baseball, people going about their business.


You can't imagine something like this, this kind of horror, this kind of tragedy taking place, 13 people shot in a supermarket, shopping, working, 10 dead. And a shooter with body armor who didn't live in this community, who traveled from three hours away with the express purpose to kill people that he did not know in our community. It's -- it's just unimaginable.

SANCHEZ: Mayor, our hearts go out to your community. We played a clip just a few moments ago of you at a podium surrounded by law enforcement officials talking about the pain that -- that you're all experiencing. And -- and you mentioned that that store is one that you're familiar with, that you frequent, that your family frequents, and that some of the people that were shot are familiar to you. And I'm wondering if you've been able to speak with their families. If you have heard from them. If you could share with us who those folks are and perhaps how they are doing if they were able to make it?

BROWN: Well, the security officer that you mentioned, Boris, he is a former-Buffalo police lieutenant, Lieutenant Aaron Salter. Knew him well. Know his family well. He is someone that is very well respected by members of the Buffalo Police Department. Worked at the Tops Supermarket for several years in retirement as a security officer. And did engage the shooter. Did exchange gunfire with the shooter but the shooter was wearing body armor and a tactical helmet. And was able to withstand that and killed Lieutenant Salter who was a hero, who tried to protect people in the store, tried to save lives, and in the process lost his own life.

Another one of the victims of this terrible act of violence and hate is the mother of our retired Buffalo Fire Commissioner. She had just gone to visit her husband in a nursing home and stopped to pick up just a few items at the supermarket and never got out of that supermarket alive. Very painful. Her son, our Retired Fire Commissioner Garnell Whitfield has served this community for decades. And when we saw him, outside of the store, we thought he had just responded to help out with what was going on, and he was there to look for his mother. Heartbreaking.

PAUL: Mr. Mayor, how are you this morning?

BROWN: You know, didn't get much sleep last night at all. I really was up trying to think about the families, the beautiful lives lost, to process a lot of tears. We are all in pain in this community. We are all hurting all across the community. My phone hasn't stopped ringing from across Buffalo, across the nation. And people that I know internationally. But we are a strong community. Buffalo is known as the city of good neighbors. We're a loving community. We will wrap our arms around the families of those who lost their lives. We will stand together. We will stand strong and we will get through this.

But the message to this country is these mass shootings have to end. There has to be sensible gun control. And we cannot have another incident like this in America where lawmakers in Washington fail to act. Enough is enough. Hate speech on social media, on the internet, that has to be dealt with. That has to come to an end. The Governor of the State of New York, Kathy Hochul, spoke powerfully about that yesterday.


This is -- these have to be things -- two things, that are focused on in the aftermath of this horrible, horrible act of violence and evil that occurred in Buffalo yesterday.

SANCHEZ: Mayor, we also can't ignore the very obvious indications that this was a hate crime. That this was a person who drove from several hundred miles away, specifically to that neighborhood, because of its demographics. You are the first black mayor in Buffalo's history. And I'm wondering how it makes you feel knowing that there are people out there that are targeting others specifically for the color of their skin?

BROWN: There's no place for that type of hate in our country. There is no place for that type of hate anywhere in the world. Again, it is painful. This loss is painful. And the fact that someone has a heart so fill -- filled with hate, has a mind so filled with hate, that they would travel hundreds of miles to target a community, to premeditatively surveil a community with the sole purpose, the sole intent of killing black people. It is jarring. It is unsettling.

But again, with the availability of weapons in this country, this type of mass violence, this mass shooting that we saw here in Buffalo yesterday, it can happen anywhere in this country. It doesn't matter urban, suburban, or rural this type of thing can happen anywhere, and it has happened in many other places in this country.

Sadly, and horribly, in this case, it was a hate crime and it was an act of racial violence. But it was a mass shooting, and it was a shooting that was perpetrated by someone who had access to guns, who had access to tactical equipment and used that access to take the lives of 10 people in the City of Buffalo.

PAUL: Mr. Mayor, you mentioned that lawmakers have failed to act on instant instances like this. That enough is enough. Talk to us about what happens next, where the investigation stands? Because I think one thing that was surprising was how quickly law enforcement came out and established that this was a crime of hate.

BROWN: There is an incredible law enforcement partnership in Buffalo and Western New York. Federal agencies, State agencies, local agencies, Erie County, City of Buffalo, other local-law enforcement worked seamlessly and in a collective and collaborative way immediately pursuing this investigation, processing all of the information that they could. We still have law enforcement at every level that has been working around the clock, and working together to piece all of the information together in this investigation.

So, we are very thankful to law enforcement. Very thankful to the quick response of the Buffalo Police Department. If not for the quick response yesterday, more lives definitely would have been lost. This person had the intent of killing as many people as they possibly could. So, we are very thankful to law enforcement. And law enforcement at every level is pursuing every bit of information and every detail they can to have a better understanding of why this happened. How it happened. And how to stop things like this from occurring in the future.

SANCHEZ: We're always grateful for those who run into danger when others are running away. Mayor, if you could, describe this area of Buffalo for us. What is the community like? And what is it you think that people were experiencing in the moments after this shooting took place? Because it seems like it's going to be hard for things to go back to normal after something like this happens in a community?

BROWN: Well, this is a close-knit community. It is a loving community. This is the Eastside of Buffalo.


This community is about 80 percent African-American. But it is also a very diverse community. People of many different backgrounds living in this community. People will band together. People are hurting. People are angry. But they will band together. This is a growing community. This is a community that is beginning to see significant investment.

And as painful as this is, life must go on. The investment that we're seeing in this community must continue. The progress that people have been waiting for and hoping for must continue to move forward. And we will do all of those things because the victims of this violence deserve nothing less.

PAUL: Mr. Mayor, I know, I think none of us can imagine what it's like for you, considering the fact that you have mentioned that this is a place familiar -- that this grocery store was familiar to you. Obviously, you had been there before, many times. That you know some of these people who have passed on now. And yet you are trying to balance your grief with your job of leading this community. How will you do that?

BROWN: Well, that is the responsibility that I have as mayor. It's a responsibility that I take very seriously. So thankful for the trust and confidence that people in this community have placed in me. This Tops Supermarket is a place I love. Many years ago, as a city council member, I worked hard with others to bring this supermarket to this community which previously was a food desert. People did not have easy and comfortable access to fresh meats, vegetables, fruits. This supermarket provided that. This is a center where people come together in this community.

So, we will stand together. We will stand strong. Buffalo is a hard- working, blue-collar town. We will pull together. And we will not let this tragedy define us. We will not let this tragedy stop this community from moving forward. Prior to the pandemic, Buffalo was experiencing a tremendous renaissance.

And this Eastside community, this largely African-American community has been waiting for investment and wait for job creation and hope and opportunity. And it has been coming to this community. We can't let it stop now. We can't let this hateful tragedy. We can't let someone with hate in their heart stop the progress that we're seeing in this community. So, we will stand strong. I will stand strong. And we will continue to move forward, as a community.

SANCHEZ: Mayor, we spoke to a CNN Law Enforcement Analyst just about an hour or so ago and she was detailing some of the hate speech online. Some of these conspiracy theories about white replacement and white genocide. And she, specifically, mentioned political and media figures that espouse these ideas, perhaps in a coded way. I'm wondering if you think that needs to change? I'm wondering if you feel the same way about that kind of speech? And if so, what is your message to those people who say things like white supremacy is a hoax?

BROWN: We have to condemn all forms of hate speech. We have to condemn all types of speech that can lead to this kind of violence. We have to stop the proliferation of hateful thoughts and hateful manifestos being spread on the internet and in social media.


We have to condemn those media personalities. Those people in political office that perpetuate hate and hate speech and let them know that there is no place for them. There is no room for them. And that this will not be tolerated in our country. That there is just no place that hate should live and hate should exist anywhere in our country. I think the Governor of the State of New York, Governor Hochul, spoke very powerfully to this yesterday.

We have to reign in hate speech. We have to make it impossible for people to spread hate over the internet. It is not free speech. It is not the American way. And we have to legislatively end the ability to proliferate hate -- to indoctrinate people in the ways of hate.

PAUL: Mayor Byron Brown, we so appreciate you taking the time to speak with us today. We know that it is a very, very hard morning to wake up there in Buffalo. But please know that you are being thought of. You are all being prayed for. And you have the support of more people than you can count today. Please, take good care of yourself and of that community.

BROWN: Thank you.

PAUL: We'll be right back.

BROWN: Thank you so much.



PAUL: 7:30 right now. We just spoke with Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown. And in the midst of that, we need to get back to Police Commissioner in Baltimore and CNN Law Enforcement Analyst Anthony Barksdale. As well as Areva Martin, a civil rights attorney, and CNN Legal Analyst.

Both of you, I apologize that we had to take so much time. We certainly had to hear from the mayor. I know you wanted to hear from the mayor as well. Thank you so much for being gracious and staying with us for this.

Areva, one thing that is very interesting in all of this is that we heard it from the mayor, we heard it from the governor, Kathy Hochul, calling for legal -- not just legal repercussion but legal responsibility from some of these sites online where this kind of hate that we're hearing about that was in this 180-page manifesto that was posted online. Where that not only lives but seems to be embraced. And because we know that we're being told from law enforcement that this manifesto, that's 180 pages, that it was posted several days, at least a couple of days before this shooting. And therefore, because it was on a like-minded site, perhaps, nobody raised a red flag to it. What do you think could be done for sites like this from a legal perspective? AREVA MARTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST, ATTORNEY & LEGAL AFFAIRS COMMENTATOR, AND CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY: Yes, Christi, you know, we've been having this conversation in this country about what role government has or should have with respect to regulating social media sites. This is, unfortunately, not the first time that we've been here.

And by that, I mean, been here in a sense that we hear about young white men, like this shooter, who are radicalized online. What we are hearing from the manifesto is that during the pandemic in 2020, he began following sites. He began following individuals who were engaged in these kinds of theories or believed in these theories, replacement theories, these white supremacy theories. And he started planning this attack.

And then we also know that he wanted this attack to be a public lynching. He wore a helmet that had a camera on it so that he could publicize to, not just the people in Buffalo, but to people around the world. This execution was racially motivated execution.

And I listened to the mayor, and you are right, Christi, I wanted to hear from that mayor and my heart just goes out to him as he talked about enough being enough. And this country having to do something about our gun culture, our loose gun laws. The rhetoric that is spewed on conservative media sites that encouraged the kind of conduct that we saw from the shooter.

But I feel like this is deja vu. We've seen this. We've been here before, whether at schools, movie theaters, or malls. These mass shootings. Dylann Roof comes to mind in a church. But yet we don't see the kind of action after the prayers. After the condolences are offered to the families. There was inactivity on the part of our government, at State and federal levels. That -- and I -- as much as I'd like to think and be optimistic, Christi, that something would change because of this horrific act of racial terror, the history suggests something otherwise.

It suggests that we will go about business as usual. We will have these days where we talk about doing something but the action will be limited, if any. And that's the fear. We're creating shooters like the one we were talking about today. The next one -- is being made as we speak. And nothing is being done about it.

PAUL: Commissioner Barksdale, what would you say to somebody in charge who has the power to craft some policy, to pass some policy, that might change what we have seen in the last 24 hours?

BARKSDALE: They have to be accountable. We all have to be accountable. The social media platforms must be held accountable for those that are posting on their sites.


We also have to get serious about the gun laws. Access to weapons. And now we see an individual put on body armor to defeat a typical type of handgun ammunition and get out there. So, from who's supplying body armor? How do these people get the guns? Who is selling them ammo? We have to get to accountability. And it has to be harsh. It has to be enough to make people change because we are not there. And this is going to happen again. And that makes me sick that I can make that statement and know it's going to happen again here.

PAUL: Areva, what do we do with when we talk about social media Twitch? I mean, this is a company that they say they took it down within two minutes. The company that -- where he live-streamed this. Is there any repercussion or any sort of policy you see that can be crafted that could actually pass based on the fact that there were people sitting in front of a computer yesterday and were able to see this live as it happened?

MARTIN: Yes, Christi, I sure hope so. I sure hope that our lawmakers have the will and the courage to stand up to these social media sites. And we know that social media can be both used for good and then can also be used for evil. And this is an example of using social media for evil.

A part of this shooter's plan was to live broadcast it because he wanted to give others encouragement. He wanted to give others a roadmap on how they could carry out the same kind of public lynching that he engaged in. And the fact that it was allowed to be broadcast, even for two minutes, that's two minutes too many. And the social media site's response, we took it down in two minutes or less. That's an inadequate response.

The fact that people were able to see it and there was a viewer that also alerted law enforcement about this vicious attack. We have to have the courage. And again, like the commissioner, as much as I hate saying this, I have no confidence that we are at a point in this country where we are willing to call it out.

Christi, we won't even teach -- or there are states and lawmakers that are banning the teaching of history, black history, in this country. The kind of racial terror acts that we know are historical in this country that have so much to do with and have direct ties with what we are talking about today. So, if we don't acknowledge it, if we don't teach it, if we don't allow young people to understand this history, how can we expect to eliminate it? To eradicate it? We cannot.

I think it's disingenuous. I think it's gaslighting. And this outrage that we express when these acts of terror happen, they are disingenuous. We can expect, we can predict this shooter and more like him to come forward and to perpetuate these kinds of acts given the culture that exists in this country.

PAUL: Commissioner Barksdale, I'm watching you as she's talking. And I feel like I see in you something different than I have seen in the past. Can you explain that -- what that is to me? I know that this is emotional, and I'm sorry, but I think people need to understand what something like this does to communities and to people. Because for a lot of people, they're waking up and they're hearing 10 dead but they don't always translate that to somebody's son or daughter.

BARKSDALE: I -- I'm sorry. I --

PAUL: Please, don't be sorry.

BARKSDALE: -- I had a -- I had a partner that was killed in an ambush. And I'm thinking about that lieutenant, that retired lieutenant who, even though he was no longer on the force, he still stood and took on the challenge of a shooter wearing body armor, carrying an assault rifle that was killing innocent people. And he gave his life for others and this is during police memorial week. And this is going on over and over again in the U.S., and the people are suffering. We are suffering. And this is not CNN race-baiting. This is a real problem in our country.


And we are losing too many black children, women, and men due to gun violence. And it's just -- it's just too much. And these lawmakers have to do more. Enough with the talk. The rhetoric. You know, talk a little, then move along. The mayor, Mayor Brown sounded so sincere. He feels it. We need others to feel it. And listen to the President and he is trying to get things done because we need something done now. Now. I am -- I -- that's -- that's it.

PAUL: Commissioner Barksdale, thank you for talking from your heart so we can really understand what this is doing to you. Thank you to those officers and the people that run in to protect. Those people, like yesterday, who died for no reason. Anthony Barksdale, Areva Martin, we appreciate you both so much. Thank you. We'll be right back.



SANCHEZ: We're going to continue following the tragic shooting in Buffalo, New York, throughout the morning. But we did want to pivot quickly to a major ripple effect from Russia's war against Ukraine. Finland's foreign minister announced a short time ago that the country has decided to apply for NATO membership.

PAUL: Yes, the move comes as NATO foreign ministers are meeting in Germany. So, what happens next? Here is what we know. The Finnish parliament votes on whether to join. All 30 current NATO members must approve new applicants. And NATO diplomats say ratification of new members could take up to a year.

SANCHEZ: We want to take you to Helsinki where we find CNN International Diplomatic Editor Nic Robertson. Nic, give us a sense of the significance. This is exactly the opposite of what Vladimir Putin was intending to do by invading Ukraine. Instead of stemming NATO's influence, it seems to be expanding.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN'S INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, it is contrary to everything that President Putin has been playing for in the region, for years in fact. The prime minister and the president gave a press conference here, just a short time ago. They both spoke about how this was a historic moment. That the country, Finland, is a democratic country. That people have had a chance to discuss this. Politicians have had a chance to discuss this and they've all decided that it's far better to join -- for Finland to join NATO. It makes NATO stronger but they think it makes them stronger, too.

They -- what obviously, hugely concerned when Russia invaded Ukraine. But there were earlier signals than that, going back to late last year when President Putin said that if Finland didn't have a choice about joining NATO. He said that he didn't want to see a NATO expansion. And that really put the Finnish government here on high alert. That there was a problem developing for President Putin.

So, what we have witnessed today, really are the last steps of Finland taking that historical momentous. A geopolitical step of making a request to join NATO. Significantly, however, the Turkish president, who is a member of NATO already, NATO needs to make a unanimous decision to accept Finland, if that's to happen, the Turkish president has said that he's not looking positively toward Finland joining NATO.

So, I asked the Finnish president here in the press conference if he's concerned about what he is hearing from President Erdogan. This is what he told me.


SAULI NIINISTO, PRESIDENT OF FINLAND: So, you can understand that I'm a bit confused. What we heard two days ago was different. Then yesterday, we again, heard that Turkey is open to our membership. But it turned back to no or let's say negative side. I think that what we need now is very clear answer.


ROBERTSON: And that is actually a very strong diplomatic language from the Finnish president there directed at President Erdogan. He said that he is ready to meet with and -- or talk with President Erdogan at any moment that President Erdogan wants to have that conversation. It is perhaps the only potential wrinkle that we've become aware of in recent days that would prevent Finland's membership of NATO. It seems like we're on track. Months, potentially a year, but it's moving that way, momentous and historic today.

SANCHEZ: Yes, despite Turkey's membership in NATO, it appears Erdogan's relationship with Vladimir Putin and Russia, playing an interesting role in all of this. Nic Robertson from Helsinki, thank you so much.

Let's take a deeper look and pose some of these questions to another expert. CNN Political Analyst and "Washington Post" Columnist, Josh Rogin. Josh, good morning. Always grateful to have your insight. Finland, obviously, making it official. They're applying for membership in NATO. Sweden also indicate -- indicated it might soon seek to join the alliance. The Kremlin threatened retaliation for both. How do you anticipate Vladimir Putin is going to respond?


JOSH ROGIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST AND COLUMNIST, WASHINGTON POST: Sure, Boris. While it's hard to overstate the significance of Finland and Sweden moving towards the NATO camp. But remember, Finland established its position of neutrality in 1948 in a deal with Stalin under the principle that its independence would provide it safety from the Soviet Union. And after so many attacks on Ukraine, it became clear that neutrality does not provide safety from Russia or Vladimir Putin.

And so, the people of Finland are making this decision. And they've thought it through, Boris, I'm here to tell you that they are prepared for the coming retaliation, which could come in a number of forms. Russia has promised to cut off their gas supplies. They're already moving to cut off electricity. They're going to station troops probably on Finland's border.

And because Finland is a country that is both ruled by a young technocratic smart leadership and a country that has a long history with Russia, they've anticipated all of this. And they have moved towards energy independence and they're very secure in their plans to keep a watch on their 1,400-kilometer border with Russia. And so, yes, there will be some retaliation, but I agree with the Finnish president. They're safer inside of NATO than outside.

SANCHEZ: It's an interesting point you bring up because once Finland joins NATO, the border of NATO countries with Russia will double. So, that is clearly why Vladimir Putin doesn't like the idea. I'm wondering what you make of Recep Erdogan of Turkey saying he's not so hot on their membership?

ROGIN: It's clear that the Turkish president is bargaining for concessions. His main grievance, publicly, is that he thinks that there are elements that are hostile to his government in these Nordic countries. He's referring to current, especially. But in reality, what he's doing is he's trying to be the squeaky wheel so he gets some grease. And he probably will.

In the end, I think it's understood both in Turkey and in other NATO capitals that Turkey needs to be a NATO, too. They look at Russia and they're not trying to be neutral or independent either. So, in the end, they're going to have to go along to get along. But, you know, Erdogan has made a career out of being a problematic ally. He's always going to be a problematic ally. So, he's going to try to get something for doing the right thing, unfortunately, and he probably will, but then Finland will become a member of NATO, and Turkey won't stand in the way. That's my prediction.

SANCHEZ: Josh, you wrote an op-ed this week in the "Washington Post" focused on the Middle East, and specifically U.S. allies in the Middle East. And you argue that some of them are undermining Western efforts to push Russia out of Ukraine. Make the case, how are they helping Vladimir Putin?

ROGIN: Well, that's right. I mean, we have an international campaign to pressure and punish Putin for the ongoing atrocities and invasion of Ukraine. And part of that is to make sure that he can't abuse the energy markets by driving up prices to fill his own coffers. And in that effort, our effort is being undermined by our supposed Gulf allies, specifically Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, who refuse to increase production.

And if you just think about that for a second, we have tens of thousands of troops and decades of experience protecting the Gulf. And the one time we really need them to do something, so that we can fight Putin and also to keep our economy stable, they just won't do it because they're also aligned with Putin in this sense. And they're not helping Ukraine. And they're not helping the West.

And so, what I argued is, well, if we're paying our money and our treasure to -- and our troops to defend the Gulf countries, and they won't even do the one thing that they're supposed to do, which is to keep the energy market stable and help us out when we really need them then what good are those alliances? I think a lot of people are watching and are thinking about that right now.

SANCHEZ: The Vice President Kamala Harris is headed to the region soon. We'll see what comes of that trip. Josh Rogin, as always, appreciate your analysis. Thanks.

Hey, thank you so much for starting your morning with us. We do appreciate you being with us.

PAUL: We absolutely do. "Inside Politics Sunday with Abby Phillip" is up next. But just a reminder to watch an all-new episode of "Stanley Tucci, Searching for Italy", that's tonight at 9:00. Take a look.


STANLEY TUCCI, STANLEY TUCCI, SEARCHING FOR ITALY HOST: On the menu is (INAUDIBLE), cooked in porchetta style. But instead of the rolled loin of pork, we have a whole piglet. And nothing goes to waste.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A little bit in the mouth. And then, do you like garlic. Put it in. Then we put a couple of sausages inside. All good? When I was a kid, I lived on a farm near Rome, I was always around animals.


So, the love I have for animals dead or alive, it's a journey they grow up, live and then I eat them.



PAUL: You can watch "Stanley Tucci, Searching for Italy" tonight at 9:00 p.m. right here on CNN.

ANNOUNCER: "Stanley Tucci, Searching for Italy" is brought to you by Expedia, Made to Travel. Go to to learn more about Tucci's life-changing travels. And get sought after recipes from all over Italy.