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One World with Zain Asher
Suspicion And Speculation Surround The Death of Prigozhin And Wagner's Top Elite; Donald Trump Expected To Head To Jail Today For A Very Short Stay; Putin Sends Condolences To Families of Those Killed In The Plane Crash; Japan Requesting China to Overturn Ban On All Aquatic Products. Aired 12-1p ET
Aired August 24, 2023 - 12:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ZAIN ASHER, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Zain Asher in New York, and this is ONE WORLD. There is still no forensic confirmation, and the final
facts still remain unclear, but there is plenty of suspicion and speculation surrounding the presumed death of Wagner boss Yevgeny
Prigozhin. Russian officials say that Prigozhin and his Wagner's top elite were on board a plane that crashed northwest of Moscow on Wednesday. The
human remains found at the crash site have been transported to nearby morgue for DNA analysis.
So far, the Kremlin hasn't said anything. They're remaining silent. But Kyiv has. Vladimir Zelenskyy says Ukraine was not involved, and we haven't
actually heard from the Wagner group itself. The crash comes two months after Prigozhin ordered his mercenaries to march towards Moscow before
calling off the short-lived Russian revolts.
CNN's Fred Pleitgen joins us live now from Berlin. So, Fred, we have heard from a number of U.S. officials that, you know, they believe that Vladimir
Putin's fingerprints are all over this. Do we expect a transparent investigation? What are your thoughts?
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's very difficult to say. The Russians are saying that the investigation has
already, of course, started, as you mentioned. The bodies, they say, have already been brought to that forensic lab in the oblast of Tver, possibly
in the city of Tver, with some of those vans that were at the crash site, as well. And the Russians had said that there would be a special committee
to investigate all of this and that some of them are actually already working on the scene.
Now, whether or not that is going to be transparent by international standards, whether or not, for instance, the company that made that
airplane is going to be part of that investigation, is also, of course, something that at this point in time, is very much up in the air, but it's
also quite telling that, so far, as far as official Russia is concerned, we've really heard very little from anybody.
You've already mentioned that Vladimir Putin so far has said nothing, neither has his spokesman. There wasn't one of those regular conference
calls that we have with Vladimir Putin's spokesman, but the Foreign Ministry of Russia also hasn't said anything either. So, there is, as you
mentioned, a lot of speculation out there, but so far, here's what we know.
PLEITGEN (voice-over): Probably the last moments of Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin. This jet, an Embraer Legacy 600, seen falling from the sky, a
wing appearing to be missing. Russian authorities confirming Prigozhin was on board the aircraft. CNN is unable to confirm the authenticity of this
video, but RIA Novosti claimed it was the moment that an Embraer jet fell from the sky in the Tver region north of Moscow.
Flight data shows the plane traveling from Moscow on a heading to St. Petersburg before it suddenly stops transmitting. Russian media say 10
people were on board, all of them believed dead, and that Prigozhin's name was also on the passenger manifest.
The Wagner mercenary group fought bitterly in Ukraine, notably in Bakhmut, gaining some territory but also incurring heavy losses. Prigozhin ripping
into Russia's defense minister and his top general, accusing them of withholding ammo leading to further deaths of his fighters.
YEVGENY PRIGOZHIN, WAGNER CHIEF (through translator): You think you are the masters of this life? You think you can dispose of other lives? You
think because you have warehouses full of ammunition that you have that right?
In late June, Prigozhin went a step further, launching a rebellion, he said, aimed to unseat the leadership of the Defense Ministry. Prigozhin
finally relented, and Wagner's troops were ordered to Belarus, but days later, Putin took aim at Prigozhin himself.
VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): We will protect our people and our statehood from any threats, including treason from the
inside. What we're facing now is treason. Unreasonable ambitions and personal interests led to treachery, state treason and betrayal of our
PLEITGEN (voice-over): World reaction to the latest news has been swift and blunt.
JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: There is not much that happens in Russia but I don't know enough to answer.
PLEITGEN (voice-over): No comment from the Russian president. Tonight, he held a moment of silence but for Soviet soldiers killed in World War two in
Kursk as the debris of the plane carrying what was one of his most important fighters burns in a field north of Russia's capital.
PLEITGEN (on-camera): Of course, as we heard there, there still is no final confirmation that Yevgeny Prigozhin has indeed been killed. In fact,
there was a senior E.U. official who said that without that, it's very difficult to ascertain whether or not this is actually true. But if it is
true, Zain, and we look at that passenger manifest of the passenger list, then it could be not only Yevgeny Prigozhin, but really the entire senior
leadership of the Wagner private military company that was on board that plane. For instance, Dimitri Utkin, who is a very instrumental figure for
Wagner, was key to them setting up their operations in Syria, in African countries, and also in Ukraine, as well.
So, if that indeed is the case, we could be looking at Wagner being not only under new leadership, but potentially becoming a completely different
organization altogether. Zain.
ASHER: Yeah, so much at stake right now for the Wagner Group. Fred Pleitgen, live for us there. Thank you so much. All right, joining me now
to talk more about this is CNN Political and National Security Analyst David Sanger. He is also the author of "The Perfect Weapon" and joins us
live now from Vermont.
So, David, Prigozhin is someone who had body doubles in the past. He's somebody who had at times other people traveling under his name. There was
a plane crash back in 2019 and Prigozhin was thought to be on it and believed to be dead after that plane crash. But then he later resurfaced
alive and well. How cautious should we be here?
DAVID SANGER, CNN POLITICAL AND NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, I think we've got to still be a little bit cautious. We've got evidence that it was
his airplane and a suggestion he was on it since he was on the manifest. But it also -- there's reason to question whether or not the Wagner Group
would take the huge risk of putting all of its leadership or all of its top leaders on the same plane, knowing that the Russians might well be gunning
for them. And we still don't know entirely how the plane came down.
There are some doubts now in the intelligence community that it was a missile, which had initially been suggested by some of Wagner-affiliated
groups. But most intelligence folks that I've been in contact with seem to think it was some form of sabotage. The planes don't just fall out of the
air at 28,000 feet. So, that suggests that he was certainly the target of an assassination attempt, whether or not he was actually assassinated is
something -- it may take us a while to figure out.
ASHER: So, assuming all sort of presumed details at this point are correct, that it was Yevgeny Prigozhin on this fight, that various members
of the Wagner senior leadership were on this fight, as well, and they were also killed. How will Putin eventually frame this? In what light does he
portray this when he presumably, at some point, does address it?
SANGER: You know, usually in past cases like this, he has not really addressed it at all. He has said that people who were mysteriously killed,
poisoned, whatever, had many enemies. You've already heard some of Putin's allies say, well, maybe the Ukrainians did this, since the Ukrainians have
a lot of reason to hate Prigozhin for what Wagner did in Ukraine.
So, my guess is that he'll simply say this is dangerous business and won't really address the responsibility issues at all. But you know, think about
how this played out, if indeed it is what we think it is. It happened on Russian soil, which means the Russians get to control the investigation.
So, this isn't going to be like the MH17 case or something like that, where international investigators would be part of it.
It was so dramatic and so much in the middle of the day that boy, it really sends a message, intentional or not, we suspect here it was, to other
potential dissidents. Putin here realizes that whatever it was Prigozhin did, created a crack in his wall of invincibility, and that has now
ASHER: Just in terms of what happens next on the battlefield, I mean, you have the war in Ukraine now continuing without Yevgeny Prigozhin.
Obviously, he hasn't been part of it for quite some time, since the sort of failed attempt to march towards the Kremlin, rather. But then you also have
Surovikin sidelined, as well. How does the war in Ukraine continue without Vladimir Putin's most brutal fighters?
SANGER: It may continue as a stalemate. It may continue at a low level. Remember, at this point, having given up the immediate objective of taking
all of Ukraine, Putin's strategy comes down to continue at a low level.
Remember, at this point, having given up the immediate objective of taking all of Ukraine, Putin's strategy comes down to one of delay. He can hope
the Ukrainians run out of ammunition. He can hope the European unity on this begins to crack, that they decide they can't live without his gas and
oil, or they don't wanna keep funding this at the levels they're funding it.
He can hope, and you saw a bit of this in the Republican debate last night, that someone gets elected, Donald Trump or other candidates, who have
opposed the U.S. continuing to support Ukraine. Any of those three options, might get him where he needs to be if he can just hold on for a year or
two. And he's probably thinking, well, we held on a low-level war in -- around Crimea and in Donbas between 2014 and the full invasion that took
place in 2022.
ASHER: So, we just got word from the Kremlin actually. Vladimir Putin is now has now addressed Yevgeny Prigozhin's apparent death in this plane
crash saying that Prigozhin was a man of difficult fate, but talented. If Vladimir Putin was behind this, David, why did he wait so long?
SANGER: He probably was a mystery, we don't know. But he probably is waiting because or was waiting because he needed to sort out how he would
conduct the war without Wagner, whether or not Wagner could operate for him in Africa, where of course Prigozhin was just a few days ago, whether or
not he could get the Wagner group fully disarmed of their heavy weapons, so that they would not raise a new challenge to them.
You know, it was Bill Burns, the CIA Director and former U.S. ambassador to Russia, who said that Putin is really the master of payback and that he
would be perfectly happy to wait for the moment to strike. And if indeed that's what happened here, if it wasn't an accident, the strike came only
two months after the original uprising, to the day.
ASHER: And we're also hearing that Vladimir Putin has been offering condolences to Prigozhin's family members, as well. You know, there were a
lot of Wagner mercenaries who, of course, were extremely loyal to Yevgeny Prigozhin. Of course, a lot of them would be analyzing the situation, and
of course, many of them would believe that Vladimir Putin was behind this as well. Where do their loyalties lie now? What do they do?
It's a great question because as they were dismantling the Wagner Group, a number of fighters were offered a chance to go into the regular Russian
forces. And it looks like some of them did. We don't have any concrete numbers on them. Some of them may have just picked up and gone home. Some
of them were convicts and were trying to figure out whether or not they were returned to jail or whether their service was considered enough to win
And of course, many died. You saw in Prigozhin's own videos what appeared to be piles of his own dead behind him. And that's when he was raging
against the Russian generals who he argued were starving him of ammunition.
ASHER: All right. David Sanger, live for us there. Thank you so much, appreciate it. All right, still to come here, everyone is watching a jail
in Atlanta, Georgia. We'll take you live to the scene as they await the arrival of Donald Trump to be arrested.
ASHER: Technically, Donald Trump is headed to jail today, but it will be a very short stay. He'll be arrested and processed this evening in Atlanta,
Georgia at the Fulton County jail. After that, he will be released and head back to his home in New Jersey. You are looking at live pictures from
outside the jail. A number of protesters are there to show support for the former president, as well as those protesting against Donald Trump. About
half of his co-defendants in the Georgia case have turned themselves in for fingerprinting and for mugshots, so far. The rest face a deadline 24 hours
from now to do the same or they will be arrested.
And while all of this is happening, Trump is shaking up his defense team. Let's bring in CNN's Sara Murray outside the jail. So, this is the fourth
time Donald Trump has had to technically surrender, so far, this year. He is shaking up his Georgia defense team. Just walk us through how the day is
going to be unfolding, Sara.
SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, I mean, this is going to be different from the other arrests you've seen of Donald Trump, because in
the past, we've seen him turn himself in at a courthouse, right? Today, he's actually going to have to show up at the jail here in Fulton County.
And again, as you pointed out, this should be a quick visit by the former president. Normally, it can take hours for defendants to be arrested and
processed here, but a lot of this has been worked out ahead of time. He's negotiated his $200,000 bond ahead of time. He's negotiated with his, now,
former attorney, the conditions of his release.
Normally, when a defendant goes in here, they're going to be searched, they're going to go through a medical screening, they're going to have
their mugshot taken and they're going to be fingerprinted. And we're waiting to see if Donald Trump actually has to go through all of those
steps or if he does get some kind of expedited treatment in order to get him in and out more quickly.
In his previous three arrests, for instance, there has not been a mugshot. So, we're waiting to see if the sheriff sticks to his plan and his
commitment that he's going to treat Trump and the defendants in this case the same way he would treat any other defendants.
Now, as you pointed out, this all comes amid a pretty abrupt shakeup of Donald Trump's legal team. The lawyers who were there with the Fulton
County District Attorney Fani Willis just days ago negotiating the bond, negotiating Donald Trump's terms of release have now been replaced. He now
has a new criminal defense attorney, Steve Sadow, here in Georgia.
We haven't gotten much of an indication of why Donald Trump made this switch, but it's obviously not uncommon to see the former president shaking
up his legal team. We've seen him do that in nearly every case. But again, it's still hours away for when we expect the former president to show up
here, but we're already seeing, as you said, protesters on both sides and this enhanced security presence in anticipation of the former president.
ASHER: All right. Sara Murray, live for us there. We'll be watching closely. Thank you so much. The first Republican presidential debate may
have been packed with fireworks and hot-button topics, but Donald Trump's absence loomed over the rowdy crowd Wednesday night. Without Trump,
political newcomer Vivek Ramaswamy was the clear target of the debate, taking jabs from all sides, from all candidates. CNN's Jessica Dean has
more from Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
UNKNOWN: The race for the White House takes flight.
JESSICA DEAN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Eight Republican presidential hopefuls taking the national stage in Milwaukee in their first
primary debate. In the absence of former President Donald Trump, the party front-runner, the fight for airtime was on.
RON DESANTIS, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We need to send Joe Biden back to his basement.
NIKKI HALEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The truth is that Biden didn't do this to us.
MIKE PENCE, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm the best prepared, the most tested, the most qualified and proven conservative in this race.
VIVEK RAMASWAMY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Do you want a Super PAC puppet or do you want a patriot who speaks the truth?
DEAN: With the debate coming on the eve of Trump's fourth arrest this year, the candidates address the ongoing indictments and possible
BRET BAIER, FOX ANCHOR: Would you still support him as your party's choice? Please raise your hand if you would.
CHRIS CHRISTIE, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Whether or not you believe that the criminal charges are right or wrong, the conduct is beneath the
Office of President of the United States.
DEAN: Former Vice President Mike Pence did not hesitate to attack other party rivals. Former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley drawing from the
HALE: You have Ron DeSantis, you've got Tim Scott, you've got Mike Pence, they all voted to raise the debt and Donald Trump added eight trillion to
our debt and our kids are never going to forgive us for this. And we have to face the fact that Trump is the most disliked politician in America. We
can't win a general election that way.
DEAN: But most flurries of attacks involved first-time candidate Vivek Ramaswamy, with the tech entrepreneur brawling with Pence, Haley and former
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie over experience, foreign policy, Trump, Ukraine, China and more.
PENCE: Now is not the time for on-the-job training. We don't need to bring in a rookie. We don't need to bring in people without experience.
CHRISTIE: The last person we want in these debates, Bret, who stood in the middle of the stage and said, what's a skinny guy with an odd last name
doing up here, was Barack Obama. And I'm afraid we're dealing with the same type of amateur standing in the stage tonight.
HALEY: The problem that Vivek doesn't understand is he wants to hand Ukraine to Russia, he wants to let China eat Taiwan, he wants to go and
stop funding Israel. You don't do that to friends. Under your watch, you make America less safe. You have no foreign policy experience and it shows.
RAMASWAMY: The reality is -- and you know what?
DEAN: On the issue of abortion rights, Pence and Haley clashed over the best way forward.
HALEY: Let's be honest with the American people and say it will take 60 Senate votes, it will take a majority of the House. So, in order to do
that, let's find consensus.
PENCE: To be honest with you, Nikki, you're my friend, but consensus is the opposite of leadership. When the Supreme Court returned this question
to the American people, they didn't just send it to the states only. It's not a states-only issue, it's a moral issue.
ASHER: CNN Senior Political Commentator Scott Jennings joins us live now from New York with his take on the debate. So, we just saw the highlights
there. I mean, does it really matter though? Does it actually matter who won if the number one contender wasn't there and if nobody sort of emerged
as the front runner to challenge him?
SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Fair question. Donald Trump, I think, mad ethe right choice to not showing up and getting down in
the rabble. He wants to portray himself as inevitable. And honestly, I think his choice helped further that aim. And what's protecting him is all
the fragmentation that you saw on the field. This is a field that got bigger than some people thought it would get. Nobody's really dropping out
And if you look at some of the polling in the race nationally, but particularly in the early states, you see that if Trump is bumping along
between 40 and 50 percent, and everybody on that stage is dividing the other 50 percent, mathematically, it would be very difficult to defeat him
because of the way the Republican Party allocates delegates. I didn't see last night any evidence that field is gonna shrink down anytime soon, so if
you're Donald Trump, the continued fragmentation is good for you.
ASHER: Let's talk about Vivek Ramaswamy. I mean, he definitely had fireworks surrounding him. And if people didn't know him before last night,
they certainly know who he is now. I mean, he had certainly some controversial comments. I mean, obviously, he called climate change a hoax.
Earlier this week, he had very controversial comments surrounding 9-11.
You know, there was that moment where he said, I'm the only candidate in this race who isn't bought and paid for. And there were lots of gasps
surrounding that. Did he do well? And by well, I don't just mean, was he good at insulting people? Because obviously just because you're good at
insulting people doesn't necessarily mean you make a good president. But did he actually do well beyond that?
JENNINGS: You know, I thought he came out of the block strong at the beginning of the debate, but I thought his act wore a little thin. And the
trouble with Vivek, in my opinion is it looks great on the surface. He's one of the smoothest talkers on the stage. But when you start to dig into
some of the things he said and then you start to look at what he said maybe two weeks ago or two months ago, you start to ask yourself, well, this guy
just say anything on climate change, which you mentioned.
He called it a hoax last night. Well, just a couple of months ago, he was in an interview talking about how he believed in climate change and how
human activity was causing climate change. He is getting a reputation as someone who is going to say whatever he needs to say to that particular
audience in that moment. And how human activity was causing climate change.
He is getting a reputation as someone who is going to say whatever he needs to say to that particular audience in that moment. That works for a short
period, but it will eventually catch up with you under the bright lights of a presidential campaign. I think he's going to get a big bump from the
burn-it-all-down crowd, but I will be surprised if he gets beyond second or third place in this primary. Also, he's trying to occupy the space that's
already occupied by Donald Trump. And obviously, Trump's not going anywhere.
ASHER: Insults for chief, right? And let's talk about Nikki Haley. So, I thought that, you know, she came across as very measured. You know, she's
willing to take risks. She said, obviously climate change was not a hoax. And she also talked about abortion, this idea that yes, she is pro-life,
but she doesn't believe that women who have abortions should be vilified or alienated or ostracized. Do you think that she is going to see any kind of
bump after last night?
JENNINGS: I do actually. I think Haley, if you wanted to put a gold medal on somebody, Haley might have been the winner of the debate, although all
the candidates had different audiences and different objectives. But she kind of took over, in my opinion, the role of Chris Christie. We thought
Chris Christie was going to come out and really take Donald Trump to the woodshed, but it was actually Nikki Haley who landed the first blows
against Donald Trump.
She attacked him for running up the national debt by eight trillion. She attacked him and said directly to that crowd -- that Fox News crowd, that
he is the most disliked politician in the United States and they all booed. But she is objectively correct. And so, she went out there and actually,
probably made the clearest case about why Donald Trump should not be entrusted with a third nomination.
So, yeah, I do think she's going to get a little bump. But where does it come from? It won't come from Trump. It'll probably come out of DeSantis,
Christie and a few of the others that are obviously in that second tier.
ASHER: Ad speaking of DeSantis, how well did he do last night? He didn't actually receive as much incoming fire as one may have expected. Did he do
well, though? I think he did okay. I don't think he did anything catastrophic. I don't think he did anything to hurt himself. And he did get
off some good rifts on his response as governor of Florida to the COVID emergency.
And his opening riff against Joe Biden and Biden's economy, I thought, was really well-done. But he did not dominate the stage and that was the thing
about this debate. No one really took control of the non-Trump group in this campaign. DeSantis has occupied that role for most of it. There's
obviously blood in the water now. I was also surprised he did not get attacked more than he did. I think he lives to fight another day, but he's
still got a long way to go to consolidate that non-Trump group around him.
So interesting, because all the sort of positive coverage that perhaps Vivek would have gotten or Nikki Haley would have gotten is completely
overshadowed, because everybody's focused on Donald Trump headed to Atlanta, Georgia today for his appearance at Fulton County Jail. So, Scott
Jennings, live for us there. Thank you so much. Appreciate it.
JENNINGS: Thank you.
ASHER: All right, still to come. A big win for Russia and China in the closing hours of the BRICS Summit in South Africa. That story, next.
ASHER: Hello and welcome back to ONE WORLD. An update now in our top story. Russia's president has broken his silence on the plane crash that
presumably killed Wagner boss, Yevgeny Prigozhin. Vladimir Putin has sent his condolences to the families and the Wagner employees. Speaking at the
Kremlin, Putin said Prigozhin was a talented man and a talented businessman. Russian officials say Prigozhin and Wagner's top elite were on
board a plane that crashed northwest of Moscow on Wednesday. Putin also said Russia's investigative committee is investigating the crash.
The BRICS economic bloc has extended membership invitations to six nations. The group wants to strengthen its role as a geopolitical alternative to the
West and reshape global power. Saudi Arabia, the world's largest crude oil exporter, has been invited to join, along with Iran, the UAE, Egypt,
Ethiopia and Argentina. Membership takes effect in January next year.
In a video message, Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulated the new countries and says BRICS global influence will continue to grow. For more
on this let's bring in CNN's David McKenzie. David, your thoughts on the expansion and the six new members in particular.
DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Zain, I think this is definitely a significant moment. And it was a surprise to some of us
that this expansion was announced like this, that there wasn't a process set up for countries to then apply and go through a series of steps. I
think a lot of these discussions have happened behind the scenes over the past few months.
If you look at those countries, Zain, that have been included, it's really something for all of the founding members to be happy about. You look at
Argentina and President Lula was lauding their inclusion. And you look at the Arab states and the oil producing nations, that is important for
possibly expanding the clout of the new development bank, the so-called BRICS Bank. And it's something that China, in particular, will be happy
about. The announcement came from Cyril Ramaphosa, and here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CYRIL RAMAPHOSA, SOUTH AFRICAN PRESIDENT: We have decided to invite the Argentine Republic, the Arab Republic of Egypt, the Federal Democratic
Republic of Ethiopia, the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. To become full members of BRICS, the
membership will take effect from the 1st of January 2024.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MCKENZIE: I wanted to play that song in part because this is a important moment for South Africa's president. Each one of those leaders
congratulated Cyril Ramaphosa. He's a former trade union organizer and negotiator for helping push this over the line. So, it's worth mentioning
that. One potential wrinkle though, the Saudi foreign minister speaking to regional press said they appreciate the invite, but they need to look at
the terms of membership and give an appropriate decision down the line.
We'll see if that has an impact. I think this, politically, is an important moment. There's been a lot of talk about forming an alliance to counteract
the influence of Western powers, whether it has specific concrete actions, we'll have to wait and see. These are very different countries with very
different national aims.
I think of all the nations, perhaps China has come out of this in terms of their needs the best. They certainly want, through Xi Jinping, to have a
bigger voice on the world stage and the money of some of these countries and the regional spread of the expanded group will certainly do that for Xi
ASHER: David McKenzie, live for us there. Thank you so much. All right, time now for The Exchange and a closer look at how the BRICS nations are
pushing hard to expand its global and economic influence. Joining me live now is Rama Yade, a Senior Director at the Atlantic Council and formerly a
consultant for the World Bank. Rama, thank you so much for being with us.
So, the goal behind this expansion in terms of the BRICS Summit sort of adding six more members, the goal is really a more balanced global order.
When you look at some of the new members though, it's -- many countries that have had a lot of friction with the United States. including Iran,
Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia as well. What do you make of this expansion?
RAMA YADE, SENIOR DIRECTOR, ATLANTIC COUNCIL: Obviously, it's a turning point, an important moment, historic. There will be 11 BRICS members, six
new countries, like you said, including two important African countries, Egypt and Ethiopia. And if all the countries agreed on the principle of
expansion, there's also a lot of challenge in this group. And even if they are, they have in common, to have this big ambition of building an
There's also, like I said, a few challenges for them, and they could be weaknesses, too. First, it's the very diverse alliance here of
geographically distant countries and economies with unequal growth. There are also rival interests.
China is 70 percent of the group's GDP, and clearly China was in favor of the expansion, but not all the countries at the very start like India or
Brazil who feared that an expansion would dilute their influence and they were -- don't want to be dragged into a cold war that Russia would like to
have, for example. So -- and not to mention these authoritarian regimes like Iran that will join now this group. It brings a special color to the
ASHER: And one of the other sort of long-term goals is this idea, of course, of de-dollarization, this idea of using local currencies when it
comes to trade, and also perhaps coming up with some kind of joint currency. I mean, how skeptical are you that is really a real potential in
the short term?
YADE: The BRICS is a powerhouse. It's an important group like to present a quarter of the world's wealth. And this group brings together almost 50
percent of the world's population, so it should present something significant. And of course, beyond this alternative multilateralism they
want to build, there is the question of the leadership of the dollar they would like to unseat. The de-dollarization of the global economy is at the
heart of the discussions right now.
Last March, Brazil and China had decided to sign an agreement to do their transactions in their respective currencies for 20, 25 or 23 billion Euros
per year. So, it's a lot and you have this new development bank that is their World Bank or their IMF with the ambition to provide more loans
without conditionality. And that's what Dilma Rousseff, the former president of Brazil and current head of these NDB New Development Bank
announced a few days ago.
So, their goal is to -- the goal of this new bank is to is to provide 30 percent of their loans to be granted in a local currency, which is also
another point that will strengthen their willingness to unseat or challenge the dollar in the global economy.
ASHER: I mean, when you think about it, the BRICS now has three African members. I mean, there are a lot of countries in Africa who would like to
join BRICS, Nigeria and Cuba. But there are three who are now joining. Ethiopia, Egypt, and South Africa. When you think about the dollar's
dominance over the global financial system, how much has that been an impediment to the growth of a lot of African economies?
YADE: That is a major question. And it's not -- it's not new. It has been -- I mean this discussion has been open for decades now. How the
institutions of Bretton Woods can support the African continent in its development. And this question is more relevant than ever. And you can see
that even for the U.S. it's also a question on the table.
A few months ago in January 2023, you remember right after the U.S.-Africa Summit of Washington, Secretary Yellen, the U.S. Secretary of Treasury
Janet Yellen, in a very unusual move, decided to go -- to visit several African countries. And the major topic of discussion was the reform of
Bretton Woods, of the World Bank and the IMF.
And a few days ago, the Biden administration announced at the very opening of the BRICS summit, announced that they would strengthen the financing
capacities of the IMF and the World Bank on the occasion of the next G20 summit to be held in India, a BRICS member, on September 9. So, that means
that the U.S. has the willingness to respond to this BRICS move, to this new development bank, to this new geopolitical shift. And that's why we are
really at a turning point.
ASHER: All right, Rama Yade, thank you so much for joining us. We appreciate it. We'll be right back with more news after this quick break.
ASHER: Voters in Zimbabwe are going to the polls for a second day in presidential elections marred by delays. Zimbabwe's Electoral Commission
says the delays were caused by ballot paper shortages arising from court challenges.
Voters will decide whether the current ruling ZANU-PF party will remain in power as it has for more than 40 years or, create a turning point for the
opposition who have already complained about crackdowns and arrests. Many voters are frustrated by the delay, but say they are determined to cast
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE MURERWA, ZIMBABWEAN VOTER (through translator): I don't know what's happening. I really don't understand. I came in the morning at 7 A.M. and
I'm still here. I have been drinking water since morning, and some were collapsing because of hunger. I still don't understand what is happening
here at all. It's my second time voting and I have never seen such a thing.
BEAUTY TEMBENI, ZIMBABWEAN VOTER: As a good citizen, I love to cast my vote just like everyone else, but it becomes frustrating because, one, I've
used my transport money going back. I will have to hike a taxi. That's 20 to 30 bucks. And I spent money, breakfast, lunch, supper right here. Even
if they say we stay here for three days or a week, I'll just wait until I cast my vote.
ASHER: A winner is expected to be announced within the next five days after voting ends. A runoff election will be held after six weeks if no
candidate gets an absolute majority. The Wagner Group played a key role in Russia's invasion of Ukraine, taking part in some of the fiercest fighting
along the frontlines.
But its mercenaries are synonymous with ruthlessness, bloodshed, brutality and carnage across the world. That is particularly true in Africa where
Wagner's private military force has been repeatedly accused of war crimes.
And just days before the plane crash that presumably killed Yevgeny Prigozhin, the Wagner boss appeared in a video that suggested his troops
were refocusing their efforts on the African content - continent, rather. CNN's Larry Madowo joins us live now from Nairobi. So, without Prigozhin --
without Prigozhin at the helm, what happens to the Wagner group's operations across the continent, Larry?
LARRY MADOWO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That is still the big question here, because it's not clear if there was a succession plan, especially because a
lot of these relationships that Prigozhin had with these military rulers or other governments in Africa were very personal. He was very charming to
these men and their old men, and that's why they were welcome in places like Mali.
Even though the U.S. State Department, the Secretary of State Antony Blinken has warned that everywhere the Wagner group has gone, death,
destruction and exploitation has followed, and they have been accused of many human rights abuses here on the African continent, but I still
believed that there were thousands of Wagner fighters, especially in West Africa here.
And if it is true that Yevgeny Prigozhin died in this air crash, like Vladimir Putin has been signaling in the last hour or so, it's very clear
that Africa was on his mind until near the very end.
MADOWO (voice-over): It's here in an undisclosed location in Africa, that the Wagner boss, Yevgeny Prigozhin recorded what's believed to be his last
undated video message, a recruitment promo for his private mercenary company and its operation in several African countries.
YEVGENY PRIGOZHIN, WAGNER CHIEF (through translator): Wagner PMC is conducting reconnaissance and search operations, making Russia even greater
on all continents and Africa even freer. Justice and happiness for the African peoples. Let's make it a nightmare for ISIS, al-Qaeda and other
MADOWO (voice-over): It was also the first clear video of Prigozhin since his march in Moscow in June. Once known as Putin's chef, Prigozhin largely
disappeared after his failed mutiny. And quickly, Russia sought to assure its allies, especially across Africa, that Wagner's presence in their
countries won't be affected.
In the two months between his mutiny and presumed death in a plane crash, Prigozhin's fleeting messages were mostly focused on Africa. A photo on the
sidelines of a Russia-Africa summit with a visiting African official, an audio recording on a Pan-African channel, and many audio messages on his
Wagner has been expanding in West Africa for years. CNN filmed the mercenaries training security forces in the Central African Republic. They
are also active or have been linked to Libya, Mali, Mozambique and Sudan. Huge countries with vast natural resources, some of which Wagner are
exploiting. Over the past two years, investigations by CNN and human rights groups have established Wagner's involvement and complicity with atrocities
against civilian populations, and the French say the group is also behind a smear campaign against them.
In Niger, supporters of a July military coup were burning French flags and waving Russian flags across the country. Prigozhin was quick to offer his
OLUWOLE OJEWALE, INSTITUTE FOR SECURITY STUDIES: Now that the group itself has become disoriented, there is going to be a lot of fallout, a lot of
consequences in terms of security relapsing.
And then, generally, there is going to be a resurgence of the capability of some of these terrorist groups to strike in those countries.
MADOWO (voice-over): Prigozhin proved valuable beyond bloodied battles in Ukraine. He helped secure lucrative deals and expand Russia's influence
abroad, especially here in Africa, where many are sympathetic to Moscow, because it doesn't have the colonial baggage of the West. Putin could have
avenged the betrayal of an old ally and his top lieutenants, but it will take more than a flurry of diplomatic visits to assure allies reliant on
the notorious mercenary group and worried about the vacuum and disorientation in its command.
MADOWO (on-camera): And those diplomatic visits have mostly been by Sergey Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister. Putin doesn't get out here much. He
hasn't been here in some time. And yet a lot of these relationships were based on Yevgeny Prigozhin's personal relationships with the military
rulers, with the presidents of these specific countries.
So, one big question Mark here, Zain, is in is Niger, where Western officials believe the military junta there has made contact with the Wagner
group. It's not clear if a contract had been signed. But, again, his recent talks have been very directly aimed at reaching out to their junta in this
ASHER: All right, Larry Madowo, live for us there. Thank you so much. We'll be right back with more.
ASHER: Japan is strongly requesting China to overturn the ban on all its aquatic products after Tokyo released treated radioactive wastewater from
the Fukushima nuclear plant into the ocean. The controversial move is sparking protests, anxiety and health concerns in the region. Japan says
it's safe and urgently needed. CNN's Marc Stewart has more from Tokyo.
MARC STEWART, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The release of the treated wastewater is now underway. This will be a lengthy process that could take years to
complete, a move that's prompted controversy. CNN visited the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in April. We saw the tanks that collectively have
been holding enough water to fill 500 Olympic-sized swimming pools. At the center of the controversy, a radioactive isotope called tritium.
For now, there is no technology to remove it, and space is running out in massive storage tanks. But authorities stress the water from Fukushima will
be highly diluted and released slowly over decades, meaning the concentration of tritium being released will be very low and meets
international regulations. Still, many nations are expressing reservations, including China.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WANG WENBIN, CHINESE MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS (through translator): It is unjustified, unreasonable, and unnecessary for Japan to push through the
ocean discharge plan. We urge Japan not to shift the risk of nuclear pollution onto the rest of humanity in pursuit of its selfish interest.
STEWART: The skepticism is also being felt here in Tokyo where some protesters are concerned about the impacts of the move including the
effects on the fishing industry. The discharge won't be without supervision. The local power company has pledged to monitor the discharge
for decades to come. Marc Stewart, CNN, Tokyo.
ASHER: Thank you so much for watching ONE WORLD. I am Zain Asher. "AMANPOUR" is up next. You're watching CNN.