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Hala Gorani Tonight

World Health Organization Warns Omicron Could Soon Infect Half Of Europe; Novak Djokovic Back In Training After Winning Visa Case; Doctors Successfully Transplant A Pig Heart Into A Human; NATO-Russia Tensions; U.N. Appeals For Record $4.4 Billion For Afghanistan; Ugandan Schools Reopen After World's Longest COVID-19 Shutdown; U.K. Prime Minister's Secretary Invited More Than 100 Staff To Lockdown Party. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired January 11, 2022 - 14:00   ET



HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Hello, everyone, live from CNN in London, I am HALA GORANI TONIGHT. The World Health Organization warns

Europe, brace for half the population catching COVID. Also this hour, Novak Djokovic faces tough questions about his travel history. Were his papers

really in order when he entered Australia?

And a week of diplomacy took a strange turn moments ago when Russia admitted to new live-fire military drills near Ukraine. Plus, this hour, a

medical breakthrough. This man is living with a pig's heart after a landmark operation. As the pandemic continues to engulf Europe in new

cases, hospitalizations and deaths, the World Health Organization has a stark new warning.


HANS KLUGE, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION REGIONAL DIRECTOR FOR EUROPE: At this rate, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation forecasts that

more than 50 percent of the population in the region will be infected with Omicron in the next six to eight weeks.


GORANI: Six to eight weeks, half the population. We know Omicron is sweeping across the continent, causing breakthrough infections and causing

in some cases serious illness, mainly in unvaccinated people. Today, and brace yourself for this number -- France reported over 368,000 new cases,

by far the largest number it has ever reported. Italy also smashed its record with more than 220,000 new cases.

And the W.H.O. says that we have not yet seen Omicron's full impact yet in eastern and central Europe where vaccine skepticism is high and vaccination

rates are low. Poland has one of the lowest rates of double-vaccinated citizens in the European Union, and today, the country's death toll has

just crossed the 100,000 mark. Jim Bittermann joins me live now from Paris with more.

And it's despite all of these measures, the COVID passes and measures, you know, such as limiting interactions, groups, requiring people to get in

some cases three vaccines before they can get a COVID pass, and still the numbers are hitting records. Why is that?

JIM BITTERMANN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Hala. I think it has to do specifically about the Omicron virus, and the way it

has proven to be so infectious. It is so able to -- you can so easily catch it, and one of the things that I think a number of doctors here we've heard

talking about is strengthening the requirements for masks, because the masks that some people are using, cloth masks, are nowhere near as

effective as the more important surgical masks and KN-95 and those things, that -- they are, in fact, very good at stopping down -- stopping airborne


But this Omicron virus is just very infectious, and those numbers that you've repeated there just bears out what the World Health Organization was

saying that the country -- the European continent is very quickly getting engulfed in Omicron cases. And that's certainly the case here in France,


GORANI: And what about hospitalizations in a country like France?

BITTERMANN: Well, the hospitalizations are up, too. The number of people in ICU beds, for example, over 75 percent here. Now, that's not as high as

it has been. It has been -- earlier in the pandemic, it was higher than that, but still, it's really worrisome for the hospital authorities because

basically they're overburdened with the number of COVID patients in those ICU beds and they don't have room for other people that may need them, the

accident victims and people like that. So, it's a very difficult sort of pressure that's being put on the hospitals, but there's also pressure being

put on the schools.

The teachers union here are threatening to strike on Thursday because they're worried about the way that the government has gone about providing

regulations for schools and getting the classes -- keeping the classes open. It's a very difficult problem for everybody. So it's a lot of

pressure in a lot of different directions, Hala.


GORANI: All right, Jim Bittermann, thanks very much -- live in Paris. In the United States, healthcare systems are under more strain than ever.

Nearly 146,000 people across the country are currently in hospital with COVID right now. That figure also accounts for people who go to hospital

for different things, but who end up testing positive for COVID. But it is the highest number of U.S. hospitalizations in the entire pandemic.

We're also seeing a lot of children in the hospital as well. More than 5,000, and that is nearly double the previous peak from Delta back in

September. Let's talk more about the warning from the World Health Organization, Dr. Peter Drobac joins me now live from Oxford. So, when you

hear the W.H.O. say brace yourself in the next six to eight weeks, half the continent will be infected with COVID possibly, that is very scary.

PETER DROBAC, GLOBAL HEALTH PHYSICIAN: It is, Hala, and thank you for having me. These are really stunning projections, but I think very

realistic. You know, when you look at the numbers from the weeks just around new year's, that about 1 percent of the population on the continent

was infected at that time with COVID, and it had doubled over the week prior. So, if we just continue to see that rate of rise for a few more

weeks, it's not very long until you -- until you reach those sorts of numbers.

And the real concern is that, that, you know, tidal wave of cases that appears to be approaching is -- you know, is coming in places where the

rates of vaccination are not as high, of course, as we would like it to be. And while vaccines are a little bit less effective against Omicron, we have

seen them still provide good protection, especially against severe disease.

So in that large, unvaccinated population, I think there's a real risk that we could see, you know, really devastating numbers of hospitalizations. And

remember, as we've seen everywhere, healthcare workers absents are up because everyone is --

GORANI: Yes --

DROBAC: Getting COVID these days, and that puts an additional strain on healthcare systems. So it's going to be a challenging couple of weeks.

GORANI: So, what about masks? Because I've been wearing the N95 now. I was wearing just a pretty standard surgical mask before. What should we be

doing? Should we all be looking at those masks that are better at protecting ourselves and protecting others from potentially our own

infections? Because they're expensive and not everybody can afford, you know, a dollar, $2 for a mask that we can only wear a few times.

DROBAC: Yes, that's right. So masks are still a very important tool, especially in settings when you're going to be in proximity to others, you

know, out at the shops, for those who are still out working, et cetera, in indoor settings. And we know they provide good protection, not only

protecting yourself from infection, but especially at preventing the spread of the virus, which is airborne. So, you know, imagine that everyone around

you is smoking cigarettes and your goal is not to inhale smoke, and that makes you realize how challenging it is.

So, I do think that in a perfect world, you're right, we should all be wearing FFP2 or KN95 masks, the higher grade medical-type mask that

filter out a much higher portion of the particles. They are difficult to get your hands on, and they are more expensive. I think where possible,

that's certainly the case. You know, and I wish we had been doing more to, you know, predict this in terms of scaling up the manufacturing of masks

and making these things more widely available.

So, I think for those who are able to, that is certainly what I recommend, but understand that's not going to be possible for everyone, unfortunately.

GORANI: Yes, well, for a lot of people I encounter, I'm the resident moaner, the mask ninja, because I just want people to be wearing a mask

full stop and I'm happy. Let me ask you though, about that half of Europe potentially becoming infected with COVID in the next six to eight weeks.

Will that mean that half of Europe could become immune, could have enough antibodies against COVID that they are immune for at least a few months

after they catch this illness?

DROBAC: It would mean -- anybody who has been infected and recovered will have some immune protection in the same way that people who have been

vaccinated, and people who have had both their jabs and previously been infected will have even higher levels of immunity. So the answer is yes.

And in places like the U.K. where now an estimated 95 percent of the adult population has an immune protection from either vaccinations or infections,

we are seeing a slightly lower burden of hospitalizations, though they are rising.

Don't get me wrong about that. So, yes, I think that is possible. And hopefully, that will stave off further infection for a while and severe

disease. People who recover from infection should still get their vaccinations if they're available to them, absolutely. But one, I guess,

small silver-lining of what's to come is that, yes, as Omicron rips through our populations, it will increase our overall levels of population


GORANI: Dr. Drobac, thanks so much for joining us live from Oxford, as always, it's great having you on the program.


DROBAC: Thank you, Hala.

GORANI: Well, the tennis star Novak Djokovic is in the middle of yet another controversy ahead of the Australia Open. To recap, he got a medical

exemption to play since he is not vaccinated against COVID. He said he'd recently recovered from coronavirus. Then Australia cancelled his visa when

he arrived, saying he didn't qualify for an exemption. Djokovic appealed and won in court, and here he is, in fact, on Tuesday practicing in

Melbourne Park.

But now border officials are investigating whether his travel entry form contained a false declaration that he had not traveled in the two weeks

ahead of his arrival in Australia. However, here is video of him in both Spain and Serbia in the days before that trip. That contradicts what he

declared on his forms. CNN's Paula Hancocks is in Melbourne with the very latest. So where are we and when will we get a decision from the government

on whether or not Djokovic will be allowed to stay and compete in the Australian Open?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we don't have guidance on that at this point, Hala. It is Wednesday morning here. We were

thinking we'd hear something Tuesday, but we've spoken to his office who says that he is looking into this matter very carefully. And now, of

course, we hear about this Australia border force investigation. According to a source within that investigation, so one would assume that he may even

wait to see what the outcome of that is.

But Novak Djokovic is continuing to train. He is working ahead as though he will be at the Australian Open next week, but we still have to wait and



HANCOCKS (voice-over): The nine-time Australian Open champion back in his natural habitat. This time, no media or fans invited. A "Channel 9 News"

drone catches a glimpse of the world number one, Novak Djokovic focuses on tennis while the visa saga continues to swirl around him. Australia's

immigration minister, he's still considering whether to cancel his visa and ban him from the country for three years.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just because you're rich and famous, why should you be treated different than anybody else?

HANCOCKS: A point the government here has hammered home. Rules are rules. All has to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to come into the country or have

a water-tight medical exemption. Now, the tennis star may have fallen foul of another of Australia's rules. The Australian border force is

investigating whether Djokovic submitted a false travel declaration before his arrival, a source with knowledge of the investigation tells CNN.

In answer to a question whether the visa holder has traveled or will travel during the two-week period ahead of arrival, Djokovic ticked, "no". But

pictures posted to social media appear to show the world number one in both Spain and Serbia during that time. Tennis Australia filled out the forms

for their defending champion. The wrong box checked may be an honest mistake, but with the Australian government smarting from a legal loss,

overturning his visa cancellation, Djokovic's stay here is tenuous.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I probably have an unpopular opinion. I don't mind. I thought it was good for him to be here and good for the spirit of the Open.

HANCOCKS: With the tournament less than a week away, we still don't know whether the defending champion will be returning to center court or

returning home.


HANCOCKS: Now, there's still questions surrounding the fact that he was diagnosed officially on December 16th as being positive for COVID-19. He

was then seen on the 16th and the 17th in public without wearing a mask. And the Prime Minister of Serbia Ana Brnabic was speaking to "Reuters", and

she was asked about this. And she said that if he was aware, then it would be a clear violation of the rules in her country.

Also pointing out that the laws equally apply to all and no one is allowed to breach the isolation rules. So also many questions being asked about

that back in his own home country, if in fact, he was positive on the 16th and he knew about it, why would he be in public maskless on the 17th? Hala.

GORANI: Thank you, Paula Hancocks in Melbourne. It seems like the Australian government is in a lose-lose situation here over whether it

should cancel the tennis star's visa again. Former Australian High Commissioner to the U.K., and former Australian Foreign Minister Alexander

Downer joins me now live. Thanks for being with us.


GORANI: Lose -- do you think the government is in a lose-lose? I mean, they either allow him to compete or they cancel his visa again. How did we

get to this stage, do you think?


DOWNER: Well, I think the problem here is that Novak Djokovic and his team haven't been concentrating on the main game. They have been listening to

Tennis Australia, as perhaps you would expect them to, and to the Victorian state government, whereas it's as in the United States, the federal

government that decides who can come into the country and the terms on which they come into the country.

The federal government wrote to Tennis Australia at the end of November to say that nobody would be able to come into Australia who was unvaccinated

without them spending two weeks in quarantine. And if you had COVID during the past six months, that wouldn't give you an exemption from quarantine.

So, that was what --

GORANI: So what -- yes --

DOWNER: And they're stuck with that position. Djokovic doesn't appear to have adhered to those terms.

GORANI: So then the government has no choice, but to send them back home. Why is he still in the country then do you think?

DOWNER: Well, they have some discretion, of course. They could give him a very special exemption if they wanted to, but the thing about that is that,

that will outrage the public, as you can tell from the clip you heard from Melbourne. I mean people think, well, just because somebody is a tennis

superstar and great as he is at tennis, that doesn't mean I can't go to Australia to see my dying father, and there have been thousands of cases

like that, really sad cases.

So, you know, Australia is a very egalitarian country at the end, if you start treating movie stars and tennis stars better than the general public

are treated, well, then, it enrages people.

GORANI: So what do you think is going to happen?

DOWNER: Well, the breaking news that you've had that I haven't heard before was that there is some suggestion that the application form for his

visa had misleading information on it. So, if that turns out to be true, then I assume the Australian government will ask him to leave. So otherwise

it's a hard decision, because on the one hand, you know, he is the world's greatest male tennis player and everybody hopes that he will contribute

mightily to the Australian Open tennis competition.

GORANI: Yes --

DOWNER: On the other hand, you know, it should be an egalitarian country and people should adhere to the rule of law.

GORANI: So I spoke to the tennis -- the Davis Cup -- Serbian Davis Cup captain who's known -- who's known Djokovic since he was a 10-year-old boy.

He said, you know, this is just because Australia is -- has it out for Djokovic. If this had been Federer, they would have let him in. Obviously,

he's being targeted because of who he is and how outspoken he is. How do you respond to that type of accusation? I mean, Serbians are really upset

with Australia, as you know.

DOWNER: Yes, you're an American. You know, people sometimes get upset with your country. We just move on. I mean, look, most people in the federal

government aren't tennis fanatics and they're probably not overly concerned about Federer or Djokovic or whoever it may be. They're not that

interested. Some are, admittedly, but most probably aren't. And these decisions aren't made in a -- on a -- it's a pure-out way for a government

to make decisions that they might prefer one tennis player over another. Of course, a country like Australia would never behave like that.

GORANI: But can I ask you though, it is a fiasco. It didn't have to be this total fiasco, but that's what it's become. So there has to be --

DOWNER: Yes --

GORANI: Fault here on -- right from the side of the Australian government. They could have handled it differently. Why not on the day that he landed

say, listen, we have a set of rules, they're firm, sorry, you're on the next plane home. Why this whole dragging it out so that it becomes this

international drama?

DOWNER: Well, it's about due process, isn't it? And natural justice. So, the ruling against the Australian government by the court was really in

effect that the Australian government, being the border force, the people at the border hadn't given him due process, hadn't given him enough time

and they detained him without -- in an unreasonable way. So, you know, he's been released subject to the government working out what it's going to do


So, Hala, it is a difficult decision, but here you have somebody who comes to Australia unvaccinated, and the Australian government's policy is, you

must be vaccinated --

GORANI: Yes --

DOWNER: If you want to come to Australia. I mean, you know, he wants to come unvaccinated. He's supposed to spend two weeks in quarantine. He did

spend two weeks in quarantine last year, by the way --

GORANI: Right --


DOWNER: When he came to play in the Australian Open and won. So this year he didn't want to. He wants an exemption. Well, you know, I would say, the

fault lies with Djokovic and his team, not with the Australian government. The Australian government has its rules.

GORANI: All right, Alexander Downer, thank you for joining us this evening. We appreciate it. Still to come tonight, another alleged lockdown

party at Downing Street and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is in hot water yet again. And health news that has nothing to do with COVID. Can you

believe it? But it has to do with a pig's heart now beating in a human chest. We'll be right back.


GORANI: Doctors at the University of Maryland have achieved a remarkable medical feat that could change the way we handle one of the world's leading

killers, heart disease. They successfully transplanted the heart of a pig into a human, and there is the doctor holding, I believe that's the pig

heart. I am -- I am not specializing enough to know which is which. Surgeons have used pig heart valves in humans for many years, but this was

the first time a full pig's heart was used in a transplant.

There were several genetic modifications made to the heart in an effort to prevent the patient's immune system from rejecting it. And doctors say 57-

year-old David Bennett had terminal heart disease and there were few other options to treat him. He was not eligible for a heart pump or human heart

transplant due to other medical conditions.


BARTLEY GRIFFITH, SURGEON WHO TRANSPLANTED A PIG HEART INTO A HUMAN: We've never done this in a human, and I like to think that we have given him a

better option than what continuing his therapy would have been. But whether it's a day, week, months, year, I don't know.


GORANI: Well, so our senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen is here to explain why this is such an important achievement, and also what the

prognosis is, what the outlook is, I should say, for this patient.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Right, Hala. This is so new, it's a first time. We don't know what the outlook is. Of course, we

hope that this patient does well, but we just don't know.


Now, if you take a look at this surgery and these images are a little graphic if you're squeamish, this might not be for you. An important thing

to know is that they genetically modified the heart. There are certain genes that are in a pig's heart that would encourage rejection when put

into a human, so there are other issues as well. So, let's take a listen to one of the surgeons involved with this transplant.


MUHAMMAD MOHIUDDIN, PROFESSOR OF SURGERY, UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: We have modified ten genes in this pig's heart. Four genes were

knocked out, three of them responsible for producing antibodies that causes rejection. So those three genes were knocked out, and then one gene was

knocked out to control the growth of pig and its organs.


COHEN: So, as the first surgeon who we just heard from said, we don't know if this patient will be well for a day, a week, a month, for ten years, we

have no idea. One of the issues is that pig hearts, pigs are very low to the ground. The heart does not need to do a lot of vertical pumping, that

is not the case, of course, with human beings. That's a big difference. Of course, there will be a great interest in seeing how this patient does.


GORANI: And what about the ethics of all of this, of using an animal organ in a human body? How do we -- how do we overcome some of those questions?

COHEN: Right. So, the patient was -- you know, he said on camera before the surgery, it is either -- he essentially said it's either this or I die,

that's my choice. I get a pig's heart or I die. He wasn't able to get a human heart. There wasn't one available to him. He didn't qualify for it.

Organs are in short supply. So, in some ways, it seems like an easy ethical question. Of course, you give him the pig heart. But I think you have to

think about this as well.

What if something unexpected happens? What if he lives, but he lives and it's a very difficult life, if he is in a lot of pain, if terrible things

happen? He may say -- he may have said before the surgery, I want this, but he may change his mind and say, I didn't think I'd have to live like this.

We hope that's not the case, but that's a possibility. And you have to wonder, did they think through that. He may have a quality of life that he

doesn't actually want. Hala?

GORANI: And how is he doing now?

COHEN: We just -- they've just said that he is doing well. He is still in the hospital, it's been about three days, it sounds like. They're really

not giving any details.

GORANI: All right, Elizabeth Cohen, thanks so much. Still to come tonight, NATO and Russia gear up for a tough talk about Ukraine and the future of

eastern Europe. We'll go to Brussels to hear what America's ambassador says NATO's approach will be.




GORANI: Well, NATO wants deescalation but this is sounding like kind of the opposite of that. Russia's defense ministry says 3,000 of its troops

have just started new live-fire drills near the Ukrainian border.

That's in the middle of a week of diplomacy. And America's ambassador to NATO says diplomacy is the only viable path to ease tensions ahead of a

face-to-face tomorrow in Brussels with Russia.

It is set to take place in the Belgian capital and the ambassador to NATO says both sides are coming with a desire to talk out their differences.

NATO says Russia's demand that it not expand to countries farther east, including Ukraine, is a nonstarter.

But Russia has not scaled back its estimated 100,000 troops massed on the Ukrainian border. So these two positions are pretty far apart still. Alex

Marquardt just sat down for an exclusive interview with the U.S. ambassador to NATO and he joins me now live from Brussels. Alex.

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Hala. The U.S. has consistently said that diplomacy cannot happen without

deescalation. And you're absolutely right, there's been no deescalation there, certainly not according to the United States, which still sees

100,000 troops all along that border.

Deescalation for the U.S. would mean those troops returning to their barracks. And a bit more clarity about what the intention of those troops

is. Russia says they're there for an exercise, which is something that NATO doesn't believe.

At the same time, the U.S. ambassador to NATO, Julianne Smith, told me today that she believes that Russia is committed to this series of talks in

Europe this week. Remember, those talks started on Monday in Geneva, direct one-on-one talks between the U.S. and Russia. And they move to NATO

tomorrow and then to the OSCE on Thursday.

But even before these talks get underway here in Brussels tomorrow morning, NATO has already ruled out the main ask that Russia has. And that is to

essentially never allow Ukraine to join NATO.

That is a nonstarter, according to Ambassador Smith. Listen to what she told me earlier today.


JULIANNE SMITH, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO NATO: No one is suggesting that we alter NATO policy on enlargement. The door remains open. No one has the

right to kick the door shut and any decision about enlargement will continue to rest between the NATO alliance and the country in question.

We're all committed to a dialogue with the Russians tomorrow, to hear from them what they want to talk about with NATO allies. We are intent on doing

this with our allies by our side.

You have heard Secretary Blinken say nothing about Europe without Europe, nothing about Ukraine without Ukraine. So, personally, I'm glad that we

will all sit at that table together and have a conversation tomorrow with the Russians.


MARQUARDT: So going into these meetings, the Russians have already said they don't see any reason yet for optimism. And the Americans have said

they don't expect any major breakthroughs this week.

So where can progress be made?

Well, both sides say that it can be done on some smaller subjects, if you will, things like missile systems in Europe, the placement of missiles in

Ukraine, whether they're in Ukraine or elsewhere, more transparency on things like exercises.

So the U.S. is hoping to come out of this at the end of the week with a pathway for more discussions. But that is not a foregone conclusion. Russia

has said that they will decide, after these talks this week, whether it is worth their time, essentially, to keep talking, Hala.

GORANI: Thank you very much, Alex Marquardt.

Ukraine's ambassador to the U.K. favors a tougher approach to dealing with Vladimir Putin, saying his country's very survival is at stake. Vadym

Prystaiko also served as Ukraine's foreign minister and ambassador to NATO.

Thank you for being with us. First off, your reaction to the news that Russia's defense ministry is announcing live fire drills, involving 3,000

of its troops right at your border.

What is your reaction to this?


VADYM PRYSTAIKO, UKRAINIAN AMBASSADOR TO THE U.K.: It is quite expected actually. They promised that they would move some forces; then they brought

them back.

If you may recall, in May, they had much more troops, around 130. So they're playing this game, cranking up, cranking down the fire, just trying

to get as much from the negotiations with the United States as is possible.

GORANI: You think they're doing this deliberately as a negotiating tactic?

Because they're saying that these are basically training exercises.

PRYSTAIKO: Yes, you know how important training exercises can be, especially when you are doing it next to somebody's borders and when you

are bringing so much of the troops next to somebody's border and keep them the whole winter.

Promising that, who knows, the new wave of exercises might come. This is the usual way the nations are dealing when they're trying to threaten

somebody with their might. That's what Putin is showing us all.

GORANI: Are you satisfied with how the United States is approaching this?

Look, we heard from the U.S. ambassador to NATO, telling our Alex Marquardt diplomacy is the only path. We are hearing from Antony Blinken as well,

potentially, that there could be some concessions made on the American side.

Do you think -- are you satisfied with what you are seeing and hearing?

PRYSTAIKO: I'm careful in my assessment. What I have to tell, that I do recognize the importance of these negotiations between the Russians and the

Americans, and I also like when the United States saying that there is nothing to be discussed without Ukrainian presence at the table, at least

without the coordination of the Ukrainians and the Europeans.

I want to see that this idea will prevalent -- prevail right now in the negotiations and all of this that we have been promised will be at least

brought to the next stage of the negotiations in NATO and in OSCE.

GORANI: Are you at a place now, where you are more or less concerned about a possible Russian invasion into your country?

Do these talks, do you think they -- do they push away that possibility?

Or have they made no difference so far?

PRYSTAIKO: Let me bring you even more. You know, having these negotiations right now, we are so happy, always happy that, you know, we are sitting

around the table. We almost forgot that we are having to work for seven years.

Now Russia has made it, and they managed to actually distract us all, the whole international community, from the war they're waging on us for so


And everybody is immediately becoming happy that they are even talking to Russians and Russians might get some of the troops out of our borders,

without talking about troops in Crimea and Eastern Ukraine.

GORANI: So you think they're not being tough enough, clearly, from what I'm understanding here, am I right?


GORANI: What should they do?

PRYSTAIKO: You mean the Russians or the -- the West, from the --


GORANI: No, the West, NATO, the U.S., the E.U.

PRYSTAIKO: I think that they have to, you know, say part of the problem is which Russia's just recently created, by bringing more troops to our

borders, from the problems they created before, because they're given, as a ricture (ph), they're creating problems.

And then they expect everybody to be happy that they allow to be resolved all these problems. We have to bring them to basics, back to stop the war

with Ukraine, get off of Ukrainian territory, let them leave. And then don't do anything stupid, like the new exercises.


What about Russia saying, we want a guarantee?

They want a guarantee that Ukraine will never join NATO.

Does that make you feel as though somehow they don't treat your country's sovereignty with enough respect?

PRYSTAIKO: That's -- at least I can see that they're not treating us at all. They're not expecting us to be at the table. But that's fine. This

sort of behavior will be seen for so long.

What bothers me here, that they want the guarantees, what about our guarantees, guarantees of our survival?

Should we recall with the (INAUDIBLE) memorandums, where we were promised that getting rid of the weapons, we would be guaranteed that our security

is guaranteed?

Where is that all now?

That's the problem we face right now.

GORANI: So we still have NATO tomorrow and then the OSCE on Thursday, so there's still other opportunities, I guess, to address Russia on this.

What would you like to see?

PRYSTAIKO: We've been in NATO, yes, our representative had the Ukrainian- NATO commission, which is having very close to what Russia will have tomorrow.

This time we came to NATO to tell them what we expect of them. We expect that our sovereignty will be guaranteed and respected. We would like them

to stop killing our people. We just lost two soldiers last day.

So that's all the things we itemized for the NATO allies. And I hope that (INAUDIBLE) conversation, the same will be brought to the table, when they

will speak with Russians.

GORANI: Last one, yesterday, the deputy foreign minister for Russia, Sergey Ryabkov, addressed reporters.


He said several times, "There are no plans to attack Ukraine," "Don't worry," this is not something that Ukrainians should worry about.

Do you think he is being -- do you believe him, basically, when he says this?

PRYSTAIKO: I would like to believe Russian diplomats but I'm afraid that all my career I have a different feeling, that we have to believe actions,

not the words of different Russian representatives.

If they -- if they really mean what they say -- I remember that Putin was saying before that there were no Russian agreements in Crimea, just in a

year he recognized, that, yes, actually there were.

So what changed?

Anybody reminding him of this?

No, in short, I don't believe.

GORANI: All right, thank you so much. The Ukrainian ambassador to the United Kingdom, Vadym Prystaiko, for joining us on CNN this evening. Thank


PRYSTAIKO: Thank you.

GORANI: Still ahead, the United Nations is launching its biggest appeal in history for any single country, saying there will be no future for

Afghanistan without aid. We will be right back.




GORANI: I want to take you to Atlanta live now. The U.S. President, Joe Biden, and Vice President Kamala Harris are visiting the southern state of

Georgia. They are laying a wreath at the crypt of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King.

So this is happening live in Atlanta, clear blue skies. He is there, the president, promoting voter rights. And Joe Biden will be delivering a

speech on that very subject later. The president and the vice president there, just laying a wreath at that final resting place of Martin Luther

King Jr. and Coretta Scott King.

And new U.S. quarter coin went into circulation today, this one featuring the late poet and civil rights activist Maya Angelou. She is the first

Black woman to appear on a quarter. It is the first in a series that will be dedicated to prominent women in American history.

The other side of the coin, by the way, will still be George Washington. The U.S. Treasury says Angelou's appearance on the coin represents, quote,

"what we value and how we've progressed as a society."

Now to Afghanistan.


The United Nations is urging the world not to shut the door on the people of Afghanistan, saying millions are at risk of hunger, disease, even death,

without urgent aid.

Today the U.N. launched its biggest-ever appeal for any single country. It says the very future of Afghanistan could depend on more than $4 billion in

aid. So much of it has been frozen since the Taliban takeover. Arwa Damon is following the story tonight from Istanbul.

So how are these U.N. officials and also NGOs saying that this money can go straight to the people who need it, out of Taliban hands?

ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is the argument that they've been making for quite some time, Hala, in an effort

to try to get a lot of humanitarian assistance, as well as other sorts of developmental aid into the country.

They've basically been saying, let us be the ones to handle getting the assistance to the beneficiaries directly, trying to put together this plan

that they have actually put forward today, that goes to illustrate how they intend on distributing the money and ensure that it does not end up in the

hands of the Taliban.

This is money that they would be spending on anything from basic things, like feeding millions of people who are on the brink of starvation,

children who are malnourished and risk dying from malnourishment, to providing medical services, to education, to all sorts of other much-needed

activities that relate to daily life but that the Taliban government obviously is unable to provide to the population.

One of the big issues, when it comes to the way that the U.S., the West and, in fact, the global community have chosen to deal with the Taliban,

when it comes to freezing Afghanistan's assets is that, yes; on the one hand, it does punish the Taliban but, on the other hand, it delivers quite

a brutal, much more brutal punishment to the Afghan people since, at the end of the day, ultimately, they are ones who are suffering.

We have to remember that this is a country that, even before the Taliban takeover, saw about half of its population living below the poverty line, a

country that relied heavily on international assistance for its mere survival. So of course, all of that has now been exacerbated.

GORANI: Arwa, thanks very much.

Still to come tonight, the British prime minister Boris Johnson is facing new criticism over allegations of another lockdown party in 2020, when

people could not even say goodbye to their relatives in hospital. A new poll shows that Britons are very unhappy with their leader.





GORANI: For the first time in nearly two years, schools are open again in Uganda after the world's longest COVID-19 lockdown. Millions of children

are back in the classroom but many seats still remain empty. Authorities estimate up to a third of students may never return at all. Zain Asher has

that story.


ZAIN ASHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A morning routine that begins while it is still dark, packing school bags, saying goodbye to Mom.

It has been nearly two years since parents in Uganda sent their kids off to school in what UNESCO says is the world's longest country-wide school

shutdown because of the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 80 weeks outside of the classroom.

And there are worries not everyone will return. Many children say they're glad to be out of the house and back with their friends.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am happy because I was missing my teachers and my study.

ASHER (voice-over): But Ugandan authorities estimate in August hat about a third of Uganda's 50 million students will never come back. And of those

that do, some may have fallen behind in their studies, especially the ones who come from rural and poor areas, where remote learning was inconsistent

or unavailable.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The schools within the city, within the towns, some of them had the opportunity maybe to get some study materials. And they did

something for some time. But schools up country, some of them did not study anything.

ASHER (voice-over): For others, studying in any form was no longer an option. Many people lost their jobs during the pandemic. And some students,

like 18-year-old Fridah, had to find work to help support the family.

Fridah says she loved biology and chemistry and dreamed of being a doctor. Now she is waiting tables at a restaurant instead of returning to class.

FRIDAH NAMUGANZA, FORMER STUDENT (through translator): I'm worried as a girl. Without being in school, I might be tempted to get married because

life can get very difficult with no solutions to it. And marriage would be the only option.

ASHER (voice-over): Teenage mother Sarah will also not be coming back. She says she was lured into a relationship with an older man while she was at

home. Now she barely leaves her grandmother's house, saying she is embarrassed and angry and would much rather have been in class.

SARAH NAKAFEERO, FORMER STUDENT (through translator): The decision caused me harm because, if schools had been reopened earlier, I would have

returned to school and this would not have happened.

ASHER (voice-over): The school closures and other strict measures helped contain the number of coronavirus cases in the country with so far around

154,000 confirmed cases and about 3,300 deaths.

But Uganda has one of the world's youngest populations and, even before COVID-19, it struggled with high unemployment and poverty. Now many fear

what was lost in the pandemic is much more than time but life-changing opportunities that many of Uganda's children desperately needed -- Zain

Asher, CNN, New York.


GORANI: Now you would be forgiven if you felt you have heard this story before. But damning evidence of yet another party at Number 10 Downing

Street during 2020, when we were all locked down, has emerged.

An email originally published by ITV shows one of Boris Johnson's top officials invited over 100 staff to, quote, "socially distanced drinks" in

the Number 10 garden. This party is reported to have taken place on May 20th, when the country was under strict lockdown rules.

No more than two households could meet, even outdoors, the same day that the culture secretary gave this press conference, reminding the public that

they could only meet in pairs.


OLIVER DOWDEN, THEN-BRITISH CULTURE SECRETARY: You can meet one person outside your household in an outdoor, public place, provided that you stay

two meters apart.


GORANI: Well, here with all of the details is our Scott McLean.

Really, this has just generated so much anger because people in this country remember 2020. It was a very tough year for the entire world.

People couldn't go to their loved one's bedside when they were dying in the hospital.

So learning of this big party at Downing Street, even though it was outdoors, I mean, I've rarely seen this much anger in this country directed

at the political class.


SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, 150,000 people dead because of this pandemic. So many people having to sacrifice all kinds of things in their

lives -- weddings, funerals, not being there when their loved ones were in the hospital, not maybe being there for parts of birth, things like that.

So, yes, the anger is certainly palpable. And, you know, this sounds familiar, as you said, Hala, because, a month ago, we were talking about

another party. This one was held, a Christmas party held December of 2020, when there were also some strict rules related to the pandemic.

Recently, there was also a photo that came out, of a different garden party, also in May of 2020, showing about 17 staff members drinking

outdoors. In both of these cases, though, the prime minister has been able to sort of either pass this off, pass the blame, say that he wasn't there

or say that this was work related.

In this case though, Hala, look, it is pretty difficult to claim something is work related when BYOB is on the invitation. There's a lot of

speculation, a lot of reporting in the British press right now, about whether or not the prime minister and his wife were actually at that event.

He was asked that question point-blank on Monday. He didn't ask -- he didn't answer the question. Instead, he deferred to the ongoing

investigation from the cabinet office. But surely, you don't need a formal investigation to know whether you were at a party in your own backyard.

This latest party, as you mentioned, came at a time when rules were strict and the polls are already showing that it is damaging. Two-thirds of people

in this country, according to a new poll, say that the prime minister ought to resign because of this, including more than 40 percent of people, who

voted Conservative in the last election.

And those numbers are up from the last time this same poll was taken back in December. It seems like this is maybe death by a thousand cuts against

the prime minister.

Of course, there's been plenty of speculation about who might replace him, if and when he is forced to go, because, of course, this is not his first

scandal. There were also questions and investigation into who paid for renovations into his apartment.

There were also questions, a lobbying scandal, that led to the resignation of an MP and, of course, he lost a by-election in the most Conservative

states -- Conservative seats. You have to wonder how long the prime minister can last. Well, he has more than two years to go until the next

election. So he has at least some runway to try to right the ship.

GORANI: All right, Scott McLean, thanks so much, reporting live on Boris Johnson, the anger directed at him, by some people believe the government

is not following the rules necessarily that it is expected of others.

Thanks for joining us tonight. Do stay with CNN. "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" is up next. I'll see you next time.