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Hala Gorani Tonight
U.S. Kills ISIS Leader In Military Raid In Syria; U.S. Warns Of Russia Planning A False Flag Operation In Ukraine; World Health Organization Says Global COVID Cases Top 380 Million; Europe In "Plausible End Game" Of Pandemic; Tensions Between Russian And Ukrainian Athletes; Meta Stock Plunges After Rare Profit Decline; U.K. Prime Minister's Two Top Aides Quit; U.S.S. Harry S. Truman Running Drills In Adriatic. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired February 03, 2022 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Hello everyone, live from CNN in London, I'm HALA GORANI TONIGHT. President Biden tells terrorists around
the world, we will come after you. We are live in the region and the Pentagon with the latest on that American raid on the ISIS leader.
Plus, going public. The U.S. details what it calls a Russian plan to fabricate a pretext for an invasion of Ukraine. I'll be speaking to
Finland's foreign minister about that. Also ahead, the W.H.O. says there now have been 380 million confirmed COVID cases worldwide.
Leaders across Europe today are once again intensifying those diplomatic efforts to resolve the standoff between the west and Russia amid new quite
detailed accusations coming from the United States that Moscow is going to stage what is called a false flag attack, fabricating a pretext to invade
Ukraine. The Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is offering to host peace talks between Ukraine and Russia.
He visited Kyiv today, you see him there with a mask on, and his wife to his right. He met with President Zelensky, France is also stepping up
efforts to take a leading mediation role. The French President Emmanuel Macron is speaking with Vladimir Putin again today, now, this is their
third phone call this week. Russia, meantime, is keeping up its show of force near Ukraine's borders. A Kremlin spokesperson says any measures it
takes to ensure its security are quote, "perfectly understandable".
Let's get to Sam Kiley in Kyiv in a moment, but first, let's start with Natasha Bertrand, who is new reporting on that alleged false flag operation
the Pentagon talked about just a short time ago, and they have also material that accompanies this allegation that Russia is preparing this as
a pretext to invade the country.
NATASHA BERTRAND, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: That's right. So U.S. officials telling us that yet again, they have evidence that Russia has
been preparing some kind of false flag operation in eastern Ukraine. This time using a graphic propaganda video that would depict a potential attack,
military equipment that is destroyed by Ukrainian and allied forces equipment, and also mourners. They say that mourners have even been hired
for this video that Russians would intend to put out to try to undermine western unity, and of course, also make it look like Ukraine and its ally
states did an attack on Russia.
Now, just a short time ago, Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby laid out some of the details of this video that the United States believes Russia
was planning to put out. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN KIRBY, PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: As part of this fake attack, we believe that Russia would produce a very graphic propaganda video which
would include corpses and actors that would be depicting mourners and images of destroyed locations as well as military equipment at the hands of
Ukraine or the west, even to the point where some of this equipment would be made to look like it was western-supplied Ukrainian -- into Ukraine
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERTRAND: So, really remarkable level of detail there. And this is, of course, the latest in a series of disclosures by the U.S. and its allies
about these alleged false flag attacks that Russia has been planning. And officials emphasize to us that this is only one thing that they could be
considering, that there are multiple options that the Russians have been weighing to kind of stage an attack that would then give them a pretext
foreign invasion into eastern Ukraine.
Of course, diplomacy is ongoing, but U.S officials have fading hope that, that will lead anywhere meaningful, Hala?
GORANI: And Sam Kiley in Kyiv, how much concern is there on the Ukrainian side? One of their issues was that the U.S. perhaps was creating some sort
of panic with rhetoric that an attack was imminent. They've dropped that qualifier from their description of what they believe Russia's intentions
might be. Are they reacting at all to the idea that potentially Russia would fabricate a pretext to invade Ukraine?
SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, about two weeks ago, they put out their own Intelligence, alleging that they had
information about a plot involving an attack on Russian troops in Moldova, where there are about 1,500 or so Russian troops stationed there that would
be blamed on the Ukrainians. That was simultaneous almost with the previous allegation of a false flag plot that the Pentagon alluded to a couple of
weeks ago, Hala.
We talked about it back then. This one is a particularly peculiar one even by Russian standards, since it would be very difficult to get international
media coverage from a piece of state-run, state handout video supplied even if it was fed out through social media. And I suppose that's the difference
in today's world. The mainstream media would have ignored it as nonsense or unprovable and unverifiable, but it would have got a lot of play
potentially on social media.
And it is the argument that Russian citizens and Russian -- people of Russian ethnicity in the east are in danger from a neo-fascist or fascist
Ukrainian central government, which is the lead motif that has run through all of the Russian justification for what they've been doing in the year
since 2014. The real worry here is that real people will get really killed allegedly by Russia, as a pretext for more Russian operations. There's
never been a suggestion here that they'd employ filmmakers to conjure one up. But they are very deeply concerned here that false flag operations very
much a part of the Russian playbook, Hala.
GORANI: All right, Sam Kiley, thanks so much, Natasha Bertrand, thank you. Russia's security demands and their aggressions are renewing debate in
Finland and Sweden over whether or not they should join NATO. The alliance says they could be accepted quickly if they so choose. We're now joined by
the Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto, thanks for being with us. First of all, your reaction to the U.S. twice now saying that Russia could
be planning some sort of fake attack against its own troops to justify invading Ukraine. Are you concerned about this?
PEKKA HAAVISTO, FOREIGN MINISTER, FINLAND: Well, of course, in this kind of situation, all kinds of things can happen. Hybrid threats, cyber
threats, of course, flag operations and so forth. But of course, the biggest danger is that the gathering of the armies, troops, on the
Ukrainian border is still continuing, and also on the Belarus side, which is very close to Kyiv and Ukraine.
GORANI: Do you think there's an intention to invade? And if so, what do you believe the timeline might be? Because Vladimir Putin presumably won't
be leaving tens of thousands of troops for a very long extended periods of time if there's no military operation planned, unless you believe, perhaps,
this is putting pressure on the diplomatic track to get what he wants? What is your take?
HAAVISTO: Well, I think this is a combination of opposing of course a military threat against Ukraine or given the possibility of a military
invasion, and at the same time, pressuring on the diplomatic track. But of course, the diplomatic track is still the most important. I think both
U.S.-Russia talks, NATO-Russia talks that has been taking place. But also trying to use the European Security Organization OSE which actually should
be responsible of divider European security. I think all these -- all these ways and parts would now be used.
GORANI: What is your response? Finland's response to the demand, really, by Russia, that NATO, that other organizations not expand the western
sphere of control and influence to include a country like Ukraine. They want ironclad guarantees. What would your response to Russia be to that
type of request?
HAAVISTO: Yes, our answer has been that time is over for spheres of interest or influence in Europe. Those belong to the cold war time. And
now, each and every country is free to choose whether they are allied or not allied in Europe. It's important that NATO keeps the door open for
those countries that want to apply and so forth. I think, this is now a security today.
GORANI: You think Ukraine joining NATO would be -- I mean, obviously, they're a sovereign country and do what they want, but do you think it
would be a good idea? And are you, Finland, tempted to join NATO as well if Russia moves in on Ukraine?
HAAVISTO: Well, of course, in case of Ukraine, I leave it to Ukrainians and NATO, that debate, in the case of Finland, our current security status
that we are outside of NATO, but have been exercising with NATO, have a close partnership with NATO. This has been serving well the Finnish
security. And -- but for us, this is what we call here NATO option, NATO keeping the doors open and Finland keeping the possibility of applying.
If so, always that's an important position from our side. That NATO keeps the doors open.
GORANI: Right, so there's the "still" on the table. I guess my question about Ukraine was more about whether, obviously, western countries and NATO
countries are now going to provide a legally-binding guarantee that Ukraine won't be one day accepted into NATO. But at this stage of the game, would
it be more prudent to just take that off the table temporarily just to avoid full-scale conflict, do you think?
HAAVISTO: Well, it's difficult to say. I think the key demands of Russia and Russia is stating also that they want to discuss about arms control is
about the transparency to which are actually important part of the European security, and where U.S. and NATO has been responding that yes, some of
these topics can be discussed. Not so much the principles of European security, but this kind of practical steps could be taken.
GORANI: Right --
HAAVISTO: I think it's a good answer. And of course, we are now all having the letters from Foreign Minister Lavrov and also coordinating a little bit
our answers both NATO countries but also EU countries like Finland who is not a member of NATO.
GORANI: Are you concerned at all in the same way Ukrainians have said they are, and some Europeans by the way, that Europeans as EU members, that the
U.S. rhetoric, perhaps, was causing panic that didn't need to be necessarily caused by saying a few weeks ago, that the attack was imminent,
that the Russian troops amassing on the border meant that really, it could be a matter of days or weeks. Do you think that, that rhetoric was
HAAVISTO: Well, of course, it's good to be realistic that when this kind of military gathering is happening, many things can happen even suddenly,
and there can happen accidents over the border and so forth, But, for example, Finland and most of the European countries have been keeping their
embassies full staffed in Kyiv and so forth. So this has been our assessment that Kyiv is still a safe place to stay.
GORANI: OK, so that's your assessment. It was similar when I spoke to the Foreign Affairs Commissioner Josep Borrell as well that they didn't feel
like there was a need necessarily to send their diplomats back home, which was not what the U.S. decided was the right thing to do with their staff.
Thank you very much for joining us, Pekka Haavisto; the Finnish foreign minister, still very much a tense time, but talks continue.
China's Xi Jinping is about to welcome leaders from around the world for the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony and Vladimir Putin is at the top of
the guest list. A summit between the two is supposed to happen tomorrow, Friday. Many western leaders are boycotting the event over an alleged human
rights abuses inside China. And others have simply turned down their invitations because of COVID-19 restrictions.
So, it's going to be a very different opening ceremony for an Olympics games. And it's just several hours away and CNN's David Culver is live from
Beijing with more on what to expect both from the ceremony, but also from that Xi-Putin meeting.
DAVID CULVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And Hala, it feels in many ways that that's where a lot of the attention is going, at least here in China from
state media. In fact, before flying in, Putin telling Chinese state media that he and President Xi are good friends who largely hold the same views
on addressing the world's problems. Let's take you through the history of these two leaders' relationship and how they're viewing the many rising
tensions with the west.
CULVER (voice-over): A mesmerizing opening ceremony expected to be attended by two strong leaders. Chinese President Xi Jinping will soon be
hosting his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin. As their countries stand shoulder-to-shoulder in defiance of the west. Despite lingering disputes
over issues such as economic interest in the Middle East, Beijing and Moscow managed to see past those differences and focus instead on one
common adversary, the United States, which has launched a diplomatic boycott of the games over Beijing's human rights record.
And as tensions rise between Russia and NATO over a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine, Beijing has publicly backed the Kremlin. In a recent
phone call with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi stressed that Russia's reasonable security concerns should
be taken seriously and resolved.
(on camera): This will be the 38th time that President Xi and President Putin have met face-to-face since President Xi took power here back in
(voice-over): These frequent interactions, a sign of increasingly close bilateral ties despite how different the two leaders are. The images tell
it all. The pair in 2018 happily sampling together a traditional Chinese pancake, a few months later, they made a Russian version of the dish
complete with Caviar and Vodka.
They visited with China's iconic pandas the following year and took in an ice hockey game. Later, basking in a sunset boat tour. The cozy China-
Russia relationship not stopping the U.S. from trying to sway China on the Ukraine crisis.
VICTORIA NULAND, U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT: We are calling on Beijing to use its influence with Moscow to urge diplomacy.
CULVER: But analysts say Beijing sees little benefit to side with the west.
DANIEL RUSSEL, ASIA SOCIETY POLICY INSTITUTE: What Putin and Xi Jinping have in common here is actually the desire to undercut U.S. credibility to
drive a wedge between Washington and its allies.
CULVER: Other democracies and U.S. allies like Taiwan will be watching closely As China steps up its military activities across the Taiwan strait.
RUSSEL: If the people in Taiwan saw that despite all of Washington's efforts and all of NATO's tough talk that they didn't succeed in deterring
Putin, they're going to ask themselves, can we on Taiwan really count on the United States in a crisis?
CULVER: After the U.S.' disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan, Ukraine presents the latest test on the U.S. capability to maintain global cease
and security. And the outcome may further convince China and Russia of an emerging new world order that both have long sought.
CULVER: Hala, a very busy agenda before these Winter games officially start. Here's what's ahead of the next few hours. The Russian and Chinese
delegations expected to hold high-level negotiations Friday, that would be followed by a one-on-one lunch between President Xi and his guest of honor
President Putin, and later in the day, the two joining several other dignitaries for a banquet and to say again, the open ceremony of the Winter
GORANI: All right, thanks very much. So, definitely a political dimension to these Olympics. David Culver. Still to come tonight, U.S. special forces
carry out an armed raid inside Syria, that leaves the new leader of ISIS dead, but it also took the lives of women and children. We'll have the
latest details and analysis. Plus, as Russia and Ukraine face the threat of war, Russian and Ukrainian athletes will be competing in Beijing. How it's
affecting them, ahead.
GORANI: The U.S. President Joe Biden says a lightning raid in the dark of night has killed the new leader of ISIS. Already, there's controversy over
the operation. Mr. Biden says U.S. special forces attacked this house in northwestern Syria around midnight this morning to try to capture the
terrorist leader, but he says before U.S. forces could get inside, he detonated a suicide bomb, blowing up the top floor and killing himself and
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Knowing that this terrorist had chosen to surround himself with families including children, we made a
choice to pursue a special forces raid at a much greater risk than our -- to our own people rather than targeting him with an air strike. We made
this choice to minimize civilian casualties.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: But as the U.S. president and vice president watched the attack live from the White House situation room, it became clear that some
civilians were not going to escape while the Pentagon says four civilians died, the Syrian White Helmets Civil Defense group says at least six
children and four women were killed. CNN's Arwa Damon has reported extensively from Syria and is with us now from Istanbul with some very
disturbing video from the scene. Correspondent Oren Liebermann is at the Pentagon. Arwa, let's start with you. Talk us through what happened and how
this raid unfolded?
ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, for the civilians who were in the area, Hala, it was a terrifying night, as you can
imagine. And we do have to warn our viewers that some of the images that they are about to see, they may find very disturbing.
DAMON (voice-over): A small body is carried down the dark stairs. The rescue workers speak in thick whispers. Wait, one warns. It's stuck. They
gently coax a tiny child's corpse out from under a large slab of concrete. It's a little girl. Another small body, a boy is carefully wrapped in a
blanket. This is what is left behind after U.S. special forces conducted an overnight raid in Syria. Later, the White House announced they had quote,
"removed the leader of ISIS" Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurashi.
But the reality of what happened is uglier than that simple statement, and the fog of war is filled with questions. The owner of the building says
that two families lived here.
"One man, his wife and three children. And his sister lived upstairs with her daughter", Abu Qutayiba(ph) says. Seven bodies were found here.
President Biden says it was al-Qurashi who detonated a bomb killing himself and his family. But were there more people in the house that night? We
don't know yet, but in all, at least 13 people were dead in the raid's aftermath including six children.
Eyewitnesses described helicopter gunships hovering overhead for hours. Warnings to evacuate the house and surrender. Intense gunfire showing
"Light clashes occurred and then the helicopter struck with machine guns", this man remembers. One of the strikes was here, and the rest were striking
the targeted house. Did the U.S. forces fire on other buildings? Footage from the scene and the surrounding areas show damage to multiple other
buildings as well. This child's body, green socks on tiny feet, was ripped in half. Taking out ISIS' leader may be a win for America.
It may put a temporary damper on ISIS' abilities, but ISIS will rise again and the war on terror will leave more innocents in its wake.
DAMON: And Hala, that is just the utterly tragic reality when it comes to these kinds of military operations, or even warfare in general. But it is
important that we do acknowledge the innocent lives that are lost, and that when things don't necessarily seem to add up, that we do ask for clarity
and for accountability.
GORANI: And Oren Liebermann, you're at the Pentagon. The -- John Kirby; the Pentagon spokesperson was saying that these civilian deaths were caused
by a self-detonated bomb by the ISIS leader, who's now dead, Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurashi, and not American fire power, correct?
OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: So, that was three of the civilian deaths. Let me walk you through the Pentagon explanation of how
this all unfolded. First, it was a two-hour operation, an incredibly long amount of time for Special Operation forces to be on the ground But as you
heard President Joe Biden say part of that planning, part of the plan for a longer operation was because they chose not to go with an air strike, but
instead to go with forces on the ground.
So, according to the Pentagon and Press Secretary John Kirby when forces landed on the ground, they called for civilians to leave the building. And
at that point, they say ten civilians did leave the building including eight children from the first floor and some more from the second floor. At
that point, the Pentagon says that's when the ISIS leader also known as Haji Abdullah detonated some sort of explosive, essentially tearing the
third floor off of the building, and killing three people they count as civilians, his wife and two children.
When special forces moved into the building and went to the second floor, Haji Abdullah's lieutenant and his lieutenant's wife opened fire on U.S.
forces who returned fire. That led to the death of the deputy as well, as the deputy's wife, and the Pentagon says a child who was also on that
floor, but the Pentagon wouldn't detail whose fire it was or what other process may have killed that child.
So that accounts for the ISIS leader, his deputy, his wife, a wife and two kids on the third floor and a child on the second floor. Then towards the
end of the operation, there were a number of people at the Pentagon describe as hostile who approached U.S. forces on the ground, again, this
is towards the end of the two hours.
And there was an exchange of fire there that also involved helicopters that were supporting U.S. forces there, and there were two more killed. So,
according to the Pentagon's numbers here, there were four civilians and a total of five combatants. There's obviously a discrepancy there between
what we're hearing from the White Helmets and what we're hearing from the Pentagon. As Arwa pointed out, there's a problem here and there are
unanswered questions, first of all, who killed the child on the second floor?
Those are the kind of questions we're trying to answer here. It's still less than 24 hours after this operation. So, there are more answers we
certainly hope that will be forthcoming.
GORANI: Right, and I know you'll stay on top of it. Arwa and Oren Liebermann, thanks very much. We'll have an opportunity to discuss as well
what operational impact this death of this Qurashi, who was originally by the way, Iraqi, but was found in Idlib and killed in Idlib inside of Syria.
What impact his death will have on what remains of ISIS and its capabilities to mount attacks.
Still to come tonight, a glimmer of hope and despite surging COVID case numbers, some European countries are dropping restrictions. Why the W.H.O.
says as well that there are some reason to be optimistic. Plus, Facebook stock is losing a lot of value, and I mean a lot -- as in billions a lot.
Why Meta is blaming Apple for its failure to retain users. Ahead.
GORANI: So 380 million is how many confirmed cases of COVID-19 there have been during the pandemic worldwide. And that staggering figure from the
World Health Organization is surely an underestimate.
Meanwhile, a patchwork of restrictions remain in place around the world. This map from Oxford University ranks countries by how stringent their
COVID-19 measures are. The darker the country, the tougher the rules.
Despite the global case number and this patchwork of national restrictions, the World Health Organization says there is now cause for hope.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. HANS KLUGE, WHO EUROPE: I wish to reiterate the firm goal I made last week, which is indeed referring to a plausible end game for the pandemic.
Not to say that it is now all over but to highlight that, in the European region, there is a singular opportunity to take control of transmission.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Let's speak to Oksana Pyzik, a global health expert at University College of London.
So before I get to the graphs comparing deaths in the U.S. versus Europe and also comparing the percentage of people who have gotten boosters in the
U.S. and Europe -- much lower in the U.S. -- I want to ask you about what the WHO is now saying, basically that there's a light end of the tunnel.
Do you share that optimism?
OKSANA PYZIK, GLOBAL HEALTH EXPERT, UNIVERSITY COLLEGE LONDON: Well, since Omicron was first identified just nine weeks ago, more than 80 million
cases have been reported to the WHO. That is more than all of the cases in 2020 alone. So there has been a real explosion.
However, due to the fact that Omicron is less severe than Delta, it hasn't translated into the same surge of deaths, particularly in countries with
higher uptake of vaccinations and boosters.
It's been very effective in muting the most severe symptoms; unfortunately, less effective in preventing transmission. We see breakthrough cases have
happened with the Omicron variant.
But we're seeing less hospitalizations as a result of that. And in the European region, where there have been different policies in place, some
regions with quite strict measures, there have been, over time, a consistent increase in vaccination rates.
GORANI: Let me show our viewers these graphics, because we have a graphic showing total deaths since the beginning of the pandemic, comparing the
United States to certain European countries. So the U.S. far ahead of countries like the U.K., France and Germany.
And then if we superimpose this graphic on a graphic showing the percentage of people who have received a booster shot, we'll see that the U.K. is on
top but that the U.S., which is leading in deaths, is very much trailing on boosters.
My question, are boosters now considered to be really our first line of defense as opposed to other mitigating measures, like hand washing and
social distancing and the like?
PYZIK: Yes, those graphics are powerful. We can see that Americans are dying at a rate of four times more than, let's say, Germans, which is
completely unnecessary. And in those countries at highest uptake of boosters, the U.K., et cetera, we have about 43 percent of those over the
age 65 in the U.S. who have not taken up the booster.
And to your question about, is the booster the answer?
It's always wiser to have a multilayered protection strategy like face masks that are medical grade, particularly for those most vulnerable, to
ensure they're wearing the most protective face mask possible, N-95, FFP2 or 3, in addition to getting their booster shot.
Because we know the vaccine in general is not perfect and, even with a booster, you could still have a breakthrough infection. However, you may
have -- it's far more likely it'll be an asymptomatic case, no disruption - - no hospitalization required.
PYZIK: And also not necessarily going to interfere with working, et cetera, which has knock-on consequences when people are even mildly ill but
not well enough to work. We see that has been a huge problem over the past two years.
GORANI: What I find interesting is, people who have not had their booster -- and this is anecdotally, obviously; I haven't conducted a restudy or
anything but people who are not boosted and catching Omicron, regardless of age, have had it far severe, in my experience.
We all know now dozens who have got COVID and people who've been boosted and older. So it does appear as though this third shot is helping people
experience an infection is a much more benign way.
Is it too early to say this?
PYZIK: No. We see that that is very much the case. Particularly we have the benefit of Omicron being less severe than Delta and people who, it's
also when they receive the booster. So as protection fades over time, we see that the more recent booster shot people have had, have got them
through this most recent winter wave, which has been very tough on many countries.
So certainly I was one of those individuals that caught COVID before a vaccine was available. And, you know, for, it's described as mild but, you
know, for, I still was unable to, get out of bed, for two weeks.
GORANI: Wow, yes.
PYZIK: -- and fully recovered, et cetera but that's not the same thing as the flu. However, with vaccines now, we are able to create something that
isn't going to have, you know, young and healthy people be bed-bound.
It's going to not just reduce hospitalization rates, it also just means people can bounce back faster and it will resemble something like flu in
GORANI: All right.
Very briefly, do you think these European countries, Denmark and others, are lifting restrictions too soon?
Should they keep them in place?
PYZIK: Well, a lot of countries have had some of the most strict rules and measures. In France and in Switzerland, even to enter a restaurant, you had
to show two doses and a booster, you'd be required to wear a face mask. So they have had strict rules for a long time.
And now that hospitalizations are stabilizing, they're lifting it. In the U.K., they lifted it all at once. Other European countries are doing it in
more gradual and tapered ways so that they can control, they better fine- tuning response in terms what they need to potentially bring back in, depending on how their health systems respond.
So dropping all at once is far more risky than a gradual and slow approach.
GORANI: All right, Oksana Pyzik, thanks for joining us.
Now COVID is casting a long shadow over the Beijing Olympics with the enforcement of that country's strict zero COVID policy. But for athletes
from Ukraine and Russia, not about COVID. The political turmoil back home may be also making it quite tough to focus.
CNN's Selina Wang sat down with a Ukrainian bobsledder trying to shut out the noise.
SELINA WANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Olympic Games are meant to unify, build bridges between groups in conflict. But as tensions between
Ukraine and Russia mount, not all Olympic athletes can embrace that message.
Ukraine's sports minister said its athletes should stay away from their Russian rivals at the winter Olympics and that Ukrainian athletes have been
briefed on how to behave in case of provocations.
Lydia Gunko, Ukraine's first bobsledder at the Winter Olympics, is prepared to follow that guidance.
LYDIA GUNKO, UKRAINIAN BOBSLEDDER (through translator): We are clearly not friends with the Russian athletes. We have to train and perform with them.
But because their country wants to violate our integrity, we cannot have easy contact with them.
WANG: Satellite photos and intelligence reports show Russia has amassed about 120,000 troops near the border of Ukraine.
GUNKO: You try to distance yourself from all of those during competitions and training. Of course, in real life, you can't isolate yourself because
many friends and acquaintances have suffered from Russia's actions.
WANG: Gunko has family in Ukraine and Russia.
(on camera): Are your relatives on both sides?
Are they going to be watching and cheer you on?
GUNKO: Of course. We are one family and we must support each other.
ANATOL LIEVEN, QUINCY INSTITUTE FOR RESPONSIBLE STATECRAFT: Many Russians have relatives in Ukraine and being, you know, forced to draw apart in this
way and, you know, engage in frankly, a rather stupid symbolic behavior.
WANG: But embracing a Russian rival has already gotten a Ukrainian athlete in trouble.
WANG (voice-over): At the Tokyo Summer Olympics last year, Ukrainian high jumper, a bronze medalist and junior army sergeant was photographed with
the Russian gold medalist.
Ukraine's deputy defense minister called the embrace careless behavior and even suggested it was a way for Russian intelligence to infiltrate the
Gunko has been training and self isolating as much as possible ahead of the games. Held under the strictest COVID countermeasures in the world. Even
her bobsled had to get COVID tested when it arrived in China.
GUNKO: We have to agree to their terms but it's a bit crazy.
WANG: But Gunko said it was all worth it.
GUNKO: It is an honor for me, this is extremely important for our country and for the development of the sport in Ukraine.
WANG: As Gunko makes a way into Beijing, she plans to block out all the distractions. Something she says she applies to bobsledding and life --
Selina Wang, CNN, Beijing.
GORANI: Meta, the company formerly known as Facebook, is taking a stock market nosedive, yesterday reporting a rare profit decline that continued
in after-hours trading and now the stock is still plummeting 26 percent.
Meta's bad fortune is dragging other tech stocks down, including Amazon, Twitter and Netflix. Spotify stock plunging also following the controversy
over its Joe Rogan podcast. Richard Quest is in New York to break it down.
For the first time ever, Facebook is saying it is losing net (ph) users.
RICHARD QUEST, CNN HOST: Yes.
GORANI: I wonder, is this a turning point?
You have some big, huge companies in the past seemed unmovable, like mountains -- IBM, GE.
Could Facebook be one of those companies now starting to see the downturn affect it?
QUEST: It could, as could all of them. For example, Facebook admitted that TikTok was biting into its business and, therefore, a shift is underway.
It's also spending a small fortune on the metaverse; hence the change of name. And that's unproven.
So when you put all that together, this is the first time that Zuckerberg has said, look, we're doing these things for the future but they're going
to take a short-term hit. And the market is saying, well, hang on a second.
Your share price has been based on our view of your earnings and your performance. And you're now saying that's not the case. And we're seeing
that across the board. You talked about Amazon and you talked about Netflix.
All of these stocks have basically said there's a slowdown underway and, however reasonable, Hala, that is, the price of the shares was based on a
much higher level of earnings.
GORANI: Right. But also blind faith, blind faith that companies that aren't turning profits are going to be forces in the future for many
decades to come.
GORANI: So in other words --
QUEST: Well --
GORANI: -- there comes a time when you look at it, you look at results and promises and if these targets are not met, you say, was I too enthusiastic
about this particular company's forecasts.
QUEST: Exactly. But that's not the same thing as we saw in the 1990s, with the dotcom boom and bust, where there were companies there that had no
realistic chance of making money in the future.
Take Netflix and look at the Netflix fall, about the same thing, 20 percent to 25 percent, another 4 percent today. Netflix has still got millions and
millions of subscribers paying $18, $19, $20 a month. But the streaming wars is hotted up and the market is now saying, hang on. You can't justify
that share price.
Now will that reverse?
I don't know. But for the moment, it's a rout on tech, because tech prices have been higher than the valuations can justify.
GORANI: What's interesting, too, this is interesting to our worldwide viewers, these are American tech giants who now have to look outside of
QUEST: Oh, yes.
GORANI: -- to try to make up for these lagging and lacking subscriber numbers in the United States. They need content from the Middle East, from
China, from India.
GORANI: They're not attracting necessarily as many users as they need to be.
QUEST: So you've got different things going on. Facebook has a problem with trust and worries about its future in that sense. Netflix, it's
saturation in the U.S. and growth in foreign markets. Spotify, it's Rogan and all those other issues as well.
Putting it together, you can see that they're all down heavily. But it is because the previous share price cannot be justified at a lower level of
earnings. There's fundamentals here as much as speculation.
GORANI: Right. They're still expensive in terms of P/E ratios, Alphabet is Google. They're down
QUEST: Ah, that's different. Alphabet's on a frolic of its own at the moment because of its split.
GORANI: Absolutely. Thank you so much, Richard Quest. See you at top of the hour with a lot more on what's going on in the markets. Thank you.
The U.S. and NATO are staging a show of force at sea, trying to send a message against the backdrop of those Ukraine tensions. Details ahead. Stay
GORANI: Well, the British prime minister has even more problems and headaches today. One of his top policy aides has just resigned. Munira
Mirza says Boris Johnson should have apologized for Labour leader Keir Starmer for accusing him of failing to prosecute a sex offender named Jimmy
Mr. Johnson is facing massive backlash for the comment, both from opposition members and from members of his own party. He's now backing down
but he's still not said that he's sorry. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BORIS JOHNSON, U.K. PRIME MINISTER: I want to be very clear about this, because a lot of people have got very hot under the collar. I understand
why. Let's be absolutely clear.
I'm talking not about the leader of the opposition's personal record, when he was -- when he was DPP. And I totally understand that he had nothing to
do personally with those decisions.
I was making a point about the -- his responsibility for the organization as a whole. And I think people can see that. But I just -- I really do want
to clarify that, because it is important.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: All right. For more on this, joining me now, CNN's Bianca Nobilo.
How damaging is this resignation and this latest mishap?
BIANCA NOBILO, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: Today, Hala, it seems the wheels are really coming off the Downing Street operation. We have
resignation of Munira Mirza, the head of policy, over a matter which is serious and has caused a lot of backlash amongst Boris Johnson's own MPs,
making those remarks about the notorious pedophile on Monday.
We should remind viewers, of course, what's said in the House of Commons by the prime minister or by MPs is actually not liable for defamation. If you
say something untrue or slanderous, which is why there are very strict rules about what you are allowed to say.
NOBILO: And as prime minister, you should be responsible for setting that tone, for abiding by those rules.
We've also heard about the resignation of the director of communications. I hear that was expected but it's interesting timing, to occur on the same
Now more British media outlets reporting in the last few minutes that the chief of staff of Downing Street has resigned. That would be Dan
Rosenfield, chief of staff I believe since January 2021.
So three heavyweights in the Downing Street operation, adding, of course, to the fact that the prime minister has had more of his own MPs publicly
declare that they've submitted letters of no confidence yesterday. There was three; more come out saying that the prime minister needs to consider
All of this is really because even though we didn't get the full Sue Gray report into what happened at Downing Street during lockdown, it was enough
that made MPs have to answer to their constituents and pick a side.
They couldn't keep saying, wait until we get the report. They had to decide whether or not to support the prime minister for the interim or to send a
letter and come out and condemn him publicly.
Even though we're not on a surefire course, certainly, toward the prime minister's resignation or a leadership contest, things do look eerily
familiar to me and I'm sure to you, Hala.
For example, it usually starts with public reservations of MPs, then moves to public condemnations, then come the resignations and then the letters
and then the vote of no confidence. We've seen that before. And MPs are on that trajectory.
GORANI: All right, well, we'll see what happens. Thanks very much, Bianca Nobilo. See you later on your program for more on this story.
We'll take a quick break. Stay with us.
GORANI: Russia has repeatedly called on the U.S. to stop stirring up tension in Europe after the Biden administration announced it is deploying
3,000 troops to the region, a symbol of U.S. and NATO military strength is already in the Adriatic.
The admiral leading the U.S.S. Harry S. Truman aircraft carrier won't say what will happen when drills end Friday but its presence is sending a
message. Fred Pleitgen reports.
FRED PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The U.S. and its allies in a united show of force facing aggression from
PLEITGEN (voice-over): The U.S.S. Harry S. Truman is in Europe refining cooperation with NATO allies to make sure the alliance can operate more
coherently, says naval flight officer Jeannette Lazzaro.
LT. CMDR. JEANNETTE LAZZARO, U.S. NAVY: So we just got there and agree to a different NATO partners. Anybody we are working with and we worked to
kind of smooth the communication processes.
PLEITGEN (voice-over): As Russia continues to amass troops near the border with Ukraine, the U.S. says it will help further strengthen the NATO
alliance. This is the first time since the cold war that a full carrier strike group has been placed under NATO command. With ships from various
NATO countries flanking the Truman.
PLEITGEN (on camera): The U.S. kept the Harry S. Truman in depth longer than planned, as the standoff with Russia intensifies. To reassure
America's allies, the U.S. is fully committed to collective defense.
PLEITGEN (voice-over): Russia has pulled together more than 100,000 troops near Ukraine, the U.S. believes. And Moscow could order an attack at any
While President Biden has said he would not send U.S. forces to Ukraine, the Harry S. Truman can effectively fortify NATO's Eastern flank. Despite
Russia's massive naval presence in the Black sea, the carriers F-18 jets can quickly reach the area close to Ukraine.
The Truman's commander says, years of integration with allies are now paying off.
REAR ADMIRAL CURT RENSHAW, U.S. NAVY, CARRIER STRIKE GROUP COMMANDER: We are committed to our alliances, our partnerships. We're able to operate
plug and play anywhere in the world and from adversary point of view, we're agnostic. If we have the strong partnership, then that's stronger than any
individual adversary could ever be.
PLEITGEN (voice-over): The U.S. says Russia would pay a high price for any further invasion of Ukraine. And the Pentagon has just announced it will
deploy additional U.S. troops to Germany, Poland and to Romania.
JOHN KIRBY, PENTAGON SPOKESPERSON: The current situation demands that we reinforce the deterrent and defensive posture on NATO's Eastern flank.
President Biden has been clear that the United States will respond to the growing threat to Europe's security and stability.
PLEITGEN (voice-over): But the U.S. and its allies say they hope diplomacy will prevail, as one of America's strongest deterrent forces remains on
guard -- Fred Pleitgen, CNN, aboard the U.S.S. Harry S. Truman, on the Adriatic Sea.
GORANI: Before we go, a brewery in France has us singing the blues. One beermaker has teamed up with a local algae farm to create a blue beer. The
magic comes from a type of algae that has a protein that creates the color. Beer is obviously usually yellow. And adding a blue tint should turn it
But the beermakers found a way around that, producing 1,500 bottles of that colorful brew and they're ramping up production. It appears as though it's
Thanks for watching tonight. I'm Hala Gorani. "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" is next.