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Pieces Of Chinese Rocket Land In Indian Ocean; Arab League To Discuss Jerusalem Unrest In Special Session Monday; In Afghanistan, 30 Killed, Dozens Wounded In Blasts Near Girls' School; Experts Critical Of Indian Government's Complacency; Chinese Government Workers Monitor Xinjiang Uyghur Homes; U.S. Strengthening Security Partnership With Ukraine; Sadiq Khan Reelected Mayor Of London; Jersey Leader Vows To Resolve Dispute With French Fishermen; Paralympian Willing To Risk Her Life For Games. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired May 9, 2021 - 00:00   ET



MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Welcome to our viewers appreciate your company. I'm Michael Holmes.

Coming up on CNN NEWSROOM, out of control but back on Earth: China says remnants of their Long March launch rocket have plunged into the Indian Ocean.

A second straight day of clashes in Jerusalem, dozens of people injured as tensions rise over the possible eviction of Palestinians.

And CNN's boards a Ukrainian patrol boat as it challenges a Russian ship in a sea of trouble.


HOLMES: And let's get straight to the breaking news. We are hearing the pieces of an out-of-control Chinese rocket have landed, just west of the Maldives in the Indian Ocean. That's according to Chinese officials.

The Long March 5B rocket was roughly the height of a 10-story building and weighed 22 tons. China's national space agency said most of the pieces were destroyed in reentry to the Earth's atmosphere. Will Ripley in Hong Kong on more of the heat that China's taking for this.

I guess that China is getting a lot of flak about poor design, not making it so that it was controlled and not uncontrolled.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It has many decades since the more advanced space agencies in the West have had an uncontrolled reentry. In fact you covered back in 1979 when pieces of the Skylab space station were scattered across parts of western Australia.

It has been that long since something of this size has been allowed to hurtle around the Earth; in this case, at 18,000 miles an hour, and then leave the world with this kind of guessing game as to where it would go down. In the end, this is according to China's manned space engineering

center, it went down in the Indian Ocean. The fact that it came that close to islands with people is certainly not what China had been hoping for and certainly not what space agencies in this modern age aim to do.

When they have anything even close to the size that needs to re-enter into the atmosphere, they try to do a controlled reentry and get it into an area far more remote than this turned out to be.

It was really a game of odds, until the last couple of hours, space agencies in Europe and the United States were not sure where this debris could've gone. It could've been in Europe. There were sightings over the Middle East. There was a possibility it could have hit Australia or New Zealand.

There were even some models that put the United States in the potential zone of impact. We have always known as we've been watching this over the last several days that the chances of impact over land were pretty low, because 70 percent of the Earth is ocean.

Just the fact that everybody had to stay up a little bit later, watch these images on social media that are being reported, this is an image from Japan, you can see the object from a telescope, spiraling overhead.

It's a lot less certainty than what the world is comfortable with. Given the fact that China is planning 10 more launches like this, using the Long March 5B rocket that does not have a design that allows for controlled reentry, this could be something that the world could see again.

There are questions about whether China needs to be held more accountable if this sort of thing were to happen.

HOLMES: Great update, Will. I remember that in 1979, I was extremely young. Thank you, Will Ripley

RIPLEY: 5 years old, right?

HOLMES: Probably less, I think, yes. Thanks, Will.

Now on to other news. The Palestinian Red Crescent says nearly 100 Palestinians have been injured in the latest clashes with Israeli police in Jerusalem. Police firing rubber bullets and stun grenades at protesters on Saturday.

They said they were trying to disperse crowds of people who were throwing stones and rocks. This all happened at several locations around the city where tensions have hit boiling point over possible evictions of Palestinian families from a mainly Palestinian suburb.


HOLMES: And now the Arab League says it will hold an extraordinary session next week to discuss the unrest. Friday nights clashes were the worst violence Jerusalem has seen in

years. Here's more on that.


HADAS GOLD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: One of the most significant evenings of tension that Jerusalem has seen in several years, according to the Palestinian Red Crescent, more than 200 people were injured and 80 of them taken to hospital over clashes at the Al-Aqsa compound, known as the Temple Mount to Jews.

Now some people say that the clashes began when police prevented worshipers from entering the Al-Aqsa mosque. Police say that some of the Palestinians started throwing rocks; they responded with stun grenades and rubber bullets. The Palestinian Red Crescent say that many of those injuries are from the rubber bullets.

The police say that 17 of their officers were injured. The imam of the mosque at one point calling for everybody to calm down. We're seeing some incredible video of stun grenades, one of which landed in the mosque.

This is not happening in a vacuum. Tensions have been boiling in Jerusalem for several weeks. There were clashes at the Damascus gate entrance to the Old City of Jerusalem, where police were preventing Palestinians from congregating.

During one of those evenings of tension, There have been one-off incidents of violence between Palestinians and Israelis, going both ways. There was a march by hundreds of Jewish extremists, who, at one, point were chanting, "Death to Arabs.

But it especially grew tense last night because of the possible evictions of Palestinian families, in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of Jerusalem. Now the Israeli foreign ministry is responding to these events, saying that the Palestinian Authority and care groups are presenting a real estate dispute between private parties as a nationalistic cause in order to incite violence in Jerusalem.

There have been incoming statements of worry from various countries. The U.S. State Department is calling on Israeli and Palestinian officials to act decisively to de-escalate the violence.

There is growing concern that things will only get worse. Monday is known as Jerusalem Day, it's known as the day that Israelis took control of the Western Wall in the Old City. Monday we may see a decision from the supreme court on the possible evictions of the Palestinian families. The city that has already seen tensions boiling over think things could get worse -- Hadas Gold, CNN, Jerusalem.


HOLMES: Let's talk more about all of this. Let's bring in CNN political commentator Peter Beinart, live from New York.

Good to see you. As you well know, Jerusalem is at the core of the broader conflict. Seeing now what is playing out at Al-Aqsa and also these possible evictions of Palestinians, where do you see this headed?

It seems a very serious inflection point.

PETER BEINART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, I agree. It's the Second Intifada which raged from 2004 broke out in Jerusalem, particularly over events that had to do with the Temple Mount, which is a very sensitive area. It's very important to put these evictions into context.

For Palestinians, 700,000 or so Palestinians, who were essentially expelled from Israel in 1948, and there been other large-scale expulsions after the 1967 war and since, the issue of expulsion for Palestinians cuts very deep.

There has been this process going on in East Jerusalem where you had more and more settlers moving in and often Palestinians being forced out. So this is a very combustible issue and I think there's a lot of reason to worry.

HOLMES: East Jerusalem, of course, which Palestinians want as the capital of a future state. There are more holy days for Muslims this week, there is that significant day for Jews and the possible ruling, court ruling on this Sheikh Jarrah eviction.

How do you see those ingredients combining?

And what could the government do to defuse the tension?

One of the things -- Monday is Jerusalem day, which is the day celebrating for Israel, when Israel took control of all of Jerusalem.


BEINART: It has historically been a day when often extremists, Jewish extremists, march through Palestinian areas in Jerusalem, often saying and doing very aggressive things. It's a dangerous day under the best of circumstances.

Given the confluence of forces that are going on here, the most obvious thing is that the police in Jerusalem and in Israel have to make sure that Jewish extremists who yell things like "death to Arabs" and attack to Arabs are not allowed to rampage through Palestinian neighbors in Jerusalem.

The second thing is that it would really be a travesty for the court to rule that these families -- important to remember that these families are not originally from this neighborhood in Jerusalem; they originated from places like Jaffa and Haifa. They were forced out in 1948.

So for these families to be forced out again and to be made homeless again, is something that is really enraging to Palestinians, particularly in a context where Palestinians in East Jerusalem are not citizens of Israel. They don't have the same basic rights that Jewish citizens of

Jerusalem have. There is a lot here that is dry tinder, unless the Israeli government, which is also distracted from that it doesn't have a working government, really focuses and tries to calm the situation down, things can get worse.

HOLMES: Correct me if I'm wrong, but Israeli law is very clear that only Jews are eligible to seek and get land left behind on the other side of the armistice line So while Jews can claim Palestinian land in East Jerusalem, Palestinian cannot claim land in West Jerusalem.

BEINART: The irony of this situation is that this territory had originally been Jewish territory but owned by Jews, who allegedly sold to other Jews and that territory was lost because Jordan controlled this territory until 1967.

Now the people who claim that they had bought it from the original Jewish owners want it back. The irony of making that claim, as you suggest, that is if one applied that principle equally, there are vast numbers of Palestinians who had homes in West Jerusalem all across what is Israel now, who do not have the right to sue to reclaim their land and their homes.

So Palestinians understandably see this just as a very unfair double standard.

HOLMES: It's nothing if not complex in that part of the world. You understand it very well. Peter Beinart, thanks for breaking it down.

BEINART: Thank you.

HOLMES: Well, at least 30 people were killed and dozens more injured outside a high school for girls in Afghanistan Saturday. The majority of the victims reportedly are students. The Taliban denying involvement.

But the attack raises more concerns about the future of Afghanistan once American troops leave. Nick Paton Walsh with more on that.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: This attack occurring in the west of Kabul outside a school, it appears from accounts on the scene that many of the victims were in fact school girls, leaving at the end of the school day. Aftermath pictures showing a vehicle heavily damaged.

It was probably the source of the explosion. And pictures of people picking through the school bags and schoolbooks of the victims. Dozens injured, dozens having lost their lives.

The blast having occurred on the holy holiest day of the Muslim month of Ramadan and in an area pre-predominately occupied by the Shia minority. There could be two possible reasons why this particular target was targeted. Many extremists find the idea of girls going to school to be

abhorrent. In many parts of Afghanistan, the government has control and also, too, the Shia minority are considered a target by many extreme groups.

The Taliban insurgency clearly said that they were not involved in this attack. But their one tweet does not necessarily speak for many different branches of the insurgency. Some increasingly hardline extremists.

This attack does speak to the growing security vacuum that many feel will get worse as the U.S. continue their withdrawal from Afghanistan. It started May 1st, it's already underway and it will be done by September 11th, if not significantly before.

That leaves the Afghan government facing pressure from the insurgency on many different fronts. Kabul will likely be secure for the months ahead but is, of course, vulnerable to attacks like this. Devastating attacks over the past year have been sadly common in other parts of Afghanistan as well.


WALSH (voice-over): But they may be receiving greater attention from the outside international community. Shocking, frankly, scenes that what the U.S. charge d'affaires to Afghanistan, Ross Wilson, called the future of Afghanistan, in what he referred to as this unforgivable attack. Really horrifying scenes of exactly what kind of extremism could be inside Afghanistan and at the insecurity of the months ahead -- Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, London.


HOLMES: Multiple lockdowns set to begin in India and hard-hit Delhi warns it is running out of vaccines in just a few days. The latest on the deepening crisis, live report coming, up after the break. Also, this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Come on, a stranger sleeping at your home, how can we feel safe about that?

HOLMES (voice-over): Ahead, why China is forcing some families to host government officials inside of their own homes. We will be right back.





HOLMES: Numerous states across India are about to impose strict new lockdowns, curfews or other restrictions, as COVID-19 continues out of control. The health ministry now reporting 22 million people have been stricken since the pandemic began.

New cases topping 400,000 for 4 straight days now. Daily deaths, passing 4,000 for the first time on Saturday. Hospitals, desperate for oxygen equipment and basic supplies, are getting help from across the globe.

Austria, Canada, Japan, the Czech Republic just among the latest to send aid. Delhi, of course, one of the worst hit regions; the chief minister, begging for more vaccine, saying Delhi will be out of doses in less than one week.

Remember, India is the world's biggest producer of vaccines. He said the 30 million doses needed and only 4 million are being delivered. CNN's Paula Hancocks, continuing to monitor all of this from Seoul.

There was "The Lancet" medical journal report that came out, that was highly critical of the government's handling of all of this.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Michael. This is not unprecedented for this medical journal to be quite so critical of a government. But certainly, it is rare. It was scathing criticism, pointing out they believe prime minister Modi's government was, at times, more concerned with stifling criticism on Twitter, than actually trying to control the pandemic.

Pointing, out as well, that complacency had played a part in this situation getting so out of hand within India.


HANCOCKS: Saying, the behavior of the government, at times, has been inexcusable. Now they also had a very worrying prediction or projection, of what could happen in the future, saying, there could be 1 million deaths by August.

At this point, there is less than one quarter of that. Certainly, there is a concern that things could get so much worse, before they get better. "The Lancet" also pointing out, if in fact that does happen, Modi's government would be responsible for presiding over its self-inflicted national catastrophe.

One of the things we are seeing as, well suggests that, somehow, they're being taken away from the government or at least, others are stepping in where the government appears to be failing.

The Supreme Court has ruled, there should be a special task force, set up to try and decide where oxygen is distributed. Now this would be a task force of some health ministers, of senior officials and academics as well.

What they will do is look at the bigger picture, figure out exactly where this oxygen is needed, which areas have the biggest concerns and to make sure it is distributed in an equitable fashion.

Now usually, you would assume, that's what the government would be doing. The fact that this has gone to the supreme court shows, once again, there are concerns as to possible inaction within the Modi government.

Also, you can see the states at this point, putting in lockdowns for a week, for 2 weeks and for varying degrees of harsh restriction. This was something the government did back in March. It had a nationwide lockdown.

What we are seeing now is individual states, deciding they need to put these lockdowns in, trying to break the cycle of new cases. Michael?

HOLMES: Thank you for bringing us up to date, Paula Hancocks, in Seoul.

Throughout Ramadan, followers around the world, have been encouraged to take precautions and alter the way they observe certain traditions during the pandemic. Some countries even issuing a number of restrictions to help curb the spread of the virus.

But not everyone seems to be following that guidance. Here is how it looks in parts of South Asia.


HOLMES (voice-over): This was the scene in the Pakistani city of Lahore this week, as thousands of Shia Muslims took part in an annual religious procession. Many people, not wearing masks and gathering close together, despite the risk of contracting COVID-19.

Quite different from what the city looked like more than a week ago, when the country's military was seen patrolling the streets, enforcing COVID restrictions. It's part of the balance between tradition and caution, in some of South Asia's Muslim majority countries.

Sometimes, the balance tipping towards tradition, like these people shopping, ahead of the Eid al-Fitr festival, marking the end of Ramadan in a few days.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Half of the people don't even understand COVID-19, nor do they consider it a pandemic. If they considered it, we wouldn't be going through this situation.

HOLMES (voice-over): Crowded Hindu religious festivals are one factor behind neighboring India's massive second COVID wave. And the fear is that the same could happen with the end of Ramadan, in Pakistan and Bangladesh.

So Pakistan issued a number of restrictions, such as banning intercity travel and shutting down all but essential markets.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): If we don't act on these instructions, you have the example of India right in front of you. What happened there can happen to us. Please, stay home and stay safe.

HOLMES (voice-over): There are long lines of people, waiting to get the vaccine in Karachi in Pakistan, many there, worried the crisis in India could be repeated here. Both Bangladesh and Pakistan, so far, have avoided a massive surge in cases, such as seen in India. Bangladesh is also seeing a steady decline over the past few weeks. A

doctor in the health ministry telling CNN, that is due to a lockdown in effect since early April. There is concern now, some shopping malls have opened up again.

The lockdown has been a challenge for many, during Ramadan. In the capital, a group of volunteers was seen, out feeding the meal that Muslims eat after sundown to break their Ramadan fast. They have managed to feed around 1,000 people per day, many of whom lost their jobs during the pandemic and cannot afford food.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I am fasting, I pull my rickshaw in the sun but I make very little earnings and I'm supported by Iftar. So I come here for free food and park my rickshaw by the road.

HOLMES (voice-over): Across South Asia, so many reasons to get COVID under control.



HOLMES: Now imagine being told you had to host the government official every month, at your house, eating there and sleeping there. That is part of a Chinese government policy, ramped up in the country's Xinjiang region in 2016. Just as the authorities were, allegedly, detaining up to 2 million Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities, into internment camps.

The Chinese government, insisting that these government home stays were popular. CNN's Ivan Watson speaking to several Uyghurs who say the unwanted guests meant they had to live in constant fear.


IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Playing with children, sharing meals, teaching Communist Party thought. These are some of the activities of the more than 1 million people sent by the Chinese government to live with the families of mostly Muslim ethnic minorities in China's Xinjiang region.

A very public policy, Beijing says, is aimed at promoting ethnic unity and battling religious extremism by forcing families to host government officials in their homes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We aren't happy with this.

WATSON: An ethnic Uyghur, living in Sweden, says that her parents in Xinjiang have played host to Chinese officials.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Come on, a stranger, sleeping at your home. How can we feel safe about that?

WATSON (voice-over): The policy has been promoted by state media and careful portrayals show outsiders, enthusiastically welcomed into the homes of ethnic Uyghurs. Strangers, sent by the government to teach their hosts how to wear makeup and even, how to wash their hands.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I brought the concept of modern life into their home, so that they can live a better and more civilized life.

WATSON: Did you have any choice whether or not to keep these people in your home?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): No, we had no choice.

WATSON: This woman is an ethnic Uyghur from Xinjiang, living in the U.S. She said she was forced to host four Chinese officials in her home for 10 days every month. If she resisted, she said she risked being sent to an internment camp.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): We had to pretend we were happy. If we did not, then the government would view that as us being against their policies.

WATSON (voice-over): Ryan Thum (ph), an expert in Uyghur history, says the home state program has a sinister motive.

RYAN THUM (PH), UYGHUR HISTORY EXPERT: It's a combined indoctrination and monitoring project.

WATSON: This is a 2018 memo, produced by the government in Kashgar prefecture. For officials, sent to live with families. It instructs them how to find problems, spotting red flags, that the authorities say, could be signs of religious extremism.

Telling officials to look for religious objects, hanging on the walls and "ask children questions while playing with them, because children never lie."

Thum calls this, the ultimate invasion of privacy.

THUM: There is no private space they can retreat to, where they can act in ways that they are comfortable.

WATSON (voice-over): An Australian born woman says that her in laws had no choice but to host a police officer in their house, for months, in 2018 while her husband languished in an internment camp.

WATSON: Did you ever hear how your family felt about this man living in their house?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They were very scared. They just spoke about, how at night, they couldn't sleep properly, because it was just to know, there was a strange man in the other room, who is also sleeping. Pretty much, they were living in constant fear.

WATSON (voice-over): The Chinese government's rosy portrayal of its home stay program, challenged by Uyghurs in exile, who claim, the hosts are actually hostages -- Ivan Watson, CNN, Hong Kong.

(END VIDEOTAPE) HOLMES: When we come back, life on the front lines of the conflict in Ukraine. We speak with a journalist, just returning from the region, amid heightened tensions between Kiev and Moscow. We will be right back.





HOLMES: Welcome back to our viewers joining us all around the world, you're watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Michael Holmes.

The Biden administration making it clear it supports Ukraine in its ongoing conflict with Russia and Russian-backed separatists. The U.S. secretary of state, Antony Blinken, traveled to Kiev the other day to pledge increased backing.


ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: We are proud of supporting Ukraine in the face of years of Russian aggression and pressure from the invasion of Crimea and the hostilities in the Donbas.

We will continue to strengthen our security partnership and in close collaboration with you to make sure that Ukraine can defend itself against aggression.


HOLMES: Now Blinken also says that while Russia has recently withdrawn some of its troops near the border, significant forces remain. Now Ukraine doesn't just have to worry about fighting forces on land; it also faces the Russian military challenge in the Sea of Azov. CNN's Matthew Chance filed this exclusive report.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is a first glimpse of Putin's latest armada, bristling with weapons in disputed waters between Russia and Ukraine. The Kremlin says these are just naval exercises. But the missiles are real and, for Ukraine, so is the threat. Ukrainian vessels on the strategic Sea of Azov have been warned to steer clear.

CHANCE: Ready on board?

No, I'll do it.

CHANCE (voice-over): But we gained rare access to a Ukrainian coastal patrol setting out in high seas, to challenge what they say is Russia's illegal naval cordon, something Moscow rejects. Recent weeks, Ukrainian navy says its boats have been harassed by Russia, with Moscow shifting its military focus.

So, we've come out here to the very rough sea of Azov, as you can see as Russian forces pull back their troops from the border of Ukraine, there really deploying naval forces here into the Sea of Azov. Raising concerns in Ukraine and around the world that the military pressure they are applying on Ukraine from the land has now moved to the sea.

The commander of the patrol boat tells me how Russian forces are increasingly behaving aggressively. "Blocking access" he says, "to what should be shared even stopping what our routine coastal patrols."

On cue, the Russians make radio contact.

"This is Boat 444," says the message, "reminding you to keep a safe distance, confirming you're receiving," the Russian voice commander.

"Received," a Ukrainian sailor responds, "we are proceeding according to plan."

All right. So, we've come to a stop now, you heard the captain there say there is a Russian ship in horizon. You can just see it over there, it's a Russian coast guard ship.


CHANCE: We are about two nautical miles away, which is just over two regular miles.

And we can't go any closer, because if we do, there could be some interception by the Russians to us. So I think Ukrainian coast guard want to avoid that.

It wouldn't be the first naval clash in the region. This is the extraordinary moment the Russian coast guard rammed a Ukrainian tugboat in the area back in 2018. Russian ships also fired on Ukrainian naval vessels, seizing three and escalating tensions in the seas of Crimea, annexed from Ukraine in 2014.

American ships have been challenged too, this low pass by a Russian warplane witness from the deck of a U.S. Destroyer earlier this year. Now tensions on the seas are ratcheting up once more.

This heightened alert on dry land too, at the Ukrainian port of Mariupol, we saw these marines on force protection drills. Naval officials say new Russian deployments at sea are forcing them to step up security and plan for a Russian attack.

ROMAN GONCHARENKO, CAPTAIN, UKRAINIAN NAVY: In the last two weeks it became more dangerous.

CHANCE: More dangerous?

GONCHARENKO: Yes. Because the Russian Federation sent to the Black Sea.

CHANCE: Yes. GONCHARENKO: -- several landing ships from the Baltics and the North Sea.

CHANCE: So, the Russians have sent landing ships --

GONCHARENKO: Landing ships.

CHANCE: -- into the Sea of Azov and to the Black Sea.


CHANCE: They are saying that that's for exercises though. Yes?

GONCHARENKO: Officially it's for exercises. But these ships are still here --


GONCHARENKO: -- in this area. And in our vision, it can be dangerous for this area.

CHANCE: Back on the coastal patrol boat, we changed course safely away from the Russian fleet.

What happens if we don't turn?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not good. I don't have --

CHANCE: Not good. Not good.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's maybe not good.

CHANCE: Not good at all when Ukraine feel so threatened on this turbulent sea of trouble -- Matthew Chance, CNN, on the Sea of Azov.


HOLMES: Fascinating report.

Now the Russia-Ukraine battle is the common bloodiest conflict in Europe since the wars over the former Yugoslavia back in the early 1990s. More than 14,000 people have died in the fighting, which began in February 2014. Hostilities have ramped up over the last few months.

And according to Ukraine's military, 36 of its soldiers have been killed in the east of the country this year alone.

The fighting has had a devastating impact on a generation of children, many of whom have known nothing but war. Here's how one mother in a town along the front lines of conflict put it.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Speaking foreign language).

(END VIDEO CLIP) HOLMES: Now that clips comes to us from Nolan Peterson, a war correspondent and senior editor of the "Coffee or Die" online magazine. He divides his time between the U.S. and Ukraine, he is also a former U.S. Air Force Special Operations pilot. Delighted to say Nolan joins us now.

Good to see you again. You've had just returned from the front lines in eastern Ukraine. We just saw the mother, who points out her 8- and 5-year old kids have never known peace.

Briefly, what is it like for those people you have met?

Not the soldiers, the civilians trying to live there?

NOLAN PETERSON, WAR CORRESPONDENT AND ONLINE MAGAZINE EDITOR: Right. For 7 years, the civilians living in Ukraine's eastern war zone in the country's Eastern Donbas region, they have lived under the constant threat of shelling, rocket attacks, gun battles, snipers, land mines. It's a very dangerous place to live.


PETERSON: Yet I think, as a journalist coming in from outside, one of the most striking things that you notice being in the war zone is how people go about their normal lives. You see children going to school, mothers pushing strollers, people going to work.

And meanwhile in the background, you can hear the constant pulse of shelling coming from the front lines, which could be just formed a mile from these towns. It's really striking and it's really scary.

I think for the people living out there, they have gotten used to living so close to the war and we could say that the war has become a way of life. But after 7 years, it is striking and it is sad to know that many of them have given up on the possibility of seeing peace in their lives.

HOLMES: It's terrible. Just this weekend, the OSC reported 660-odd cease-fire violations in the Oblast region and 144 in another region. That's in one day, by the way. It's as you described, a stalemate and trench war in the Donbas.

Does either side have momentum militarily?

What's the outlook for those civilians you met?

PETERSON: So a February 2015 cease-fire basically stalemated the war along an entrenched front line. It's a very bizarre conflict, almost like World War I in a sense with the fixed trenches that you see out there.

But fighting is going on daily. The war never ended. And after 7 years, you still have daily exchanges of shelling, rocket attacks and sniper shots. So the notion that the war has ended is false. The fighting is definitely still going on. However, many Ukrainian soldiers and defense officials would say that

there really is no solution to the conflict. And one of the most crazy things about the conflict is that neither side is trying to take new ground from each other. They're just sitting out there, weathering these daily attacks without trying to create any forward momentum to take back --


HOLMES: That Russian pullback of its troops along the border, does that even make a difference to what is happening in the ground in eastern Ukraine?

And when Russians says its soldiers, its regulars are not on Ukrainian soil, what do locals say about that?

PETERSON: The pullback has not affected the ongoing war in Donbas at all. In fact, the pace of fighting escalated significantly in mid January. In fact so far this year, there's been more than 30 Ukrainians killed in combat.

And for the people living out there, they have noticed the fact that the fighting has gone up and it has raised their anxiety levels. But with President Zelensky, Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, said just this week that Russia still has 75,000 troops positioned near Ukraine's borders.

So the threat is constantly there, that if things did escalate in the Donbas, that the war could very rapidly evolve into more of a Russian outright invasion rather than this sort of daily limited exchange of artillery that we're seeing right now.

HOLMES: You are a U.S. military veteran of both the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. We've only got a minute left but, as a former military man, what you make of this war in terms of tactics, as you pointed out, a combination of World War I trenches and high tech drones.

PETERSON: One of the striking things as a veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan is that this is a frontal war. The war is actually a destination. And the effects of the war only go out as far as the range of the weapons used.

But it is, as you said, a very mind-boggling combination of World War I style trench warfare with electronic warfare. So the Ukrainians use their cellphones, the Russian artillery can home in on those signals.

They also use modified small drones to drop grenades on either side. So it's a very bizarre mix of both modern high tech warfare with some of these older tactics of trench warfare. But I think it is a harbinger in some ways of what the United States could face in a potential conflict against a European adversary in the near future.

HOLMES: Unlike Iraq and Afghanistan, there is a front line in this one. Amazing reporting, Nolan Peterson.

Check out his reporting at "Coffee or Die" website. Thanks so much, we really appreciate it.

PETERSON: Thank you for having me.

HOLMES: Quick break now. When we come back, Jersey fishermen say new post Brexit rules could be a nail in the coffin of their industry. So how the diplomatic fishing feud is putting livelihoods at risk on both sides of the English Channel. We'll be right back.





HOLMES: Nicola Sturgeon's party, coming out on top in the Scottish parliamentary elections, even though the Scottish National Party is one seat sort of an outright majority, it picked up an extra one compared to 2016 and together with the Scottish Greens, there is now a pro independence majority, a clear one.

Nicola Sturgeon, promising another independence referendum and warning the British prime minister to not stand in the way.

Also, Sadiq Khan is reelected as mayor of London, defeating his closest rival by more than 200,000 votes after second preferences were taken into account.

The chief minister of Jersey is vowing to resolve an ongoing dispute with French fishermen. A new post Brexit system for fishing permits going into effect for the island last week. That has led to headaches, confusion and anxiety for the fishermen who make their livelihoods on those waters. Nic Robertson, with the latest.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR (voice-over): Back to what they know best. Jersey skipper Adrian and crewman, Harry, hauling the harvest from the sea, undisturbed.

Angry French fishermen, gone.

But the dispute over fishing rights?

Not done. A post Brexit-for-tat, France refusing their catch, after Jersey withheld permits for French boats.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now the markets are closed in France, so we're just going fishing because it's a nice day.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): Among Jersey's tiny fishing fleet, a sense of foreboding: most of what they land goes through France. Many aren't bothering to fish.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We can't sell our fish to France. We can sell a little bit, locally but we catch way more than the local market needs.

ROBERTSON: What does that do to your livelihood?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Destroying it, slowly.

We've had a couple of really hard years and this could just be another nail in the coffin for Jersey's fishing industry.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): Jersey didn't vote on Brexit or get a say on the new U.K.-E.U. trade agreement. But it is bound by its terms, leaving fishermen feeling caught in a Brexit whiplash.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not just us, is it?

The whole of the south coast of England will have trouble exporting their stuff into France.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): The island's chief minister, disagrees. Season end in sight.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For French fishermen, they can demonstrate that they meet the thresholds for the time to fish in their waters and essentially, they'll be going from the old permit to a new permit. All they need to get through is this transitional period.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): Pressure is on him, too. Brexit's torturous birth has his island, with its close historic ties to France, snared in its myriad complexities, leading, he says, to confuse license submissions by some French fishermen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The data we received through the process goes up from France, to Paris, to Brussels, United Kingdom, back down to us.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's incomplete or incorrect in certain instances.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): Back in the harbor, we hope the chief minister is right.

Your politicians good enough to stand up for the French right now?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know, the jury is out. They've been weak, they've rolled over to the French numerous times. But the last couple of days, they seem to be taking a tougher stance, which I think is good, because you can't give in to bullies.

ROBERTSON: The drama of the French fisherman's dispute seems done for now, at least diplomacy is kicking in. But was so much at stake it will still be a rocky ride ahead -- Nic Robertson, CNN, off the coast of Jersey.


HOLMES: The U.S. Navy, seizing thousands of, what it says, are illicit weapons in the North Arabian Sea. It includes Russian made antitank guided missiles, rocket propelled grenade launchers and thousands of Chinese-made assault rifles.

The Navy says it was discovered -- it discovered the cargo among what's known as a, stateless vessel, during routine flag verification boarding in international water, in accordance with international law.

Now the original source and destination of the weapons, under investigation for now and the crew was questioned and, ultimately, released.

A state of emergency, extended in Japan as COVID cases spike. But the Olympics, still planning to go on. We talk to one paralympian, willing to risk her life to compete.




HOLMES: The Olympic torch, heading to Tokyo after completing its journey through Nagasaki on Saturday. But with less than 3 months to the beginning of the Summer Olympics, there are growing calls to cancel the games.

Japan extending a state of emergency in Tokyo, due to a surge in COVID-19 cases. Almost 300,000 people, signing an online position, to have the Olympics canceled. Now despite the growing number of cases, Japan's prime minister says the games are still on. Athletes say they are risking their lives by participating. Selina Wang has the story of a 73 year old paralympian, hoping to compete in her fifth Olympics.


KIMIE BESSHO, PARALYMPIAN: (Speaking foreign language).

SELINA WANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: She is a paralympic legend, known as the Butterfly Lady, 73-year-old Kimie Bessho, donning her trademark hair clips for every match. She is aiming to be in her fifth Summer Games, a competition, she says, she is risking her life for.

WANG: How are you feeling amid the uncertainty of the games and this pandemic?

"I am prepared to die under these circumstances," she tells me. But I don't want to die of COVID. If I die, I want to die in competition, after a winning smash.

Bessho, like the thousands of Olympic hopefuls around the world, is training constantly, despite mounting anxiety. She's been unable to get vaccinated, amid a fourth wave of COVID cases in Japan. She doesn't even know yet if she can be in the Paralympics. Qualifiers are weeks away, in Slovenia.

"Vaccinations are unbelievably slow here," she tells me. "I called the health center and health ministry, many times, asking on what goes on with the vaccines." [00:55:00]

WANG (voice-over): Bessho says she is unable to get vaccinated before her qualifiers and she is scared to go on an international trip. Even though the games are just months away, Japan has only fully vaccinated less than 1 percent of its population, drastically behind other developed countries.

Just 0.1 percent of senior citizens have had a single dose. A key lawmaker said vaccinations for people over 65, which only started this month, may not be finished until end of this year or next. The prime minister has declared another state of emergency in several prefectures, as Japan reports thousands of new cases per day, driven by more contagious variants.

Compare that to last March, when the games were postponed and the country was reporting less than 100 cases per day. Experts say the games could turn into a superspreader event.

Even one of the highest ranking members in Japan's ruling party said this month, cancellation remained an option.

But Bessho is no stranger to adversity. She played sports as a child, volleyball, track and skiing. When she was 38, her husband fell ill and died. She was diagnosed with cancer 2 years after. And the operation to get rid of the cancer left her paralyzed. The doctor said she would only have 3 years to live.

"At the time, I wanted to end my life. I couldn't do anything myself," she tells me. "I became disabled but I was also given a great gift, to play wheelchair table tennis."

She started the sport at age 45 and, by 56, she was in her first Paralympic Games. But after the fourth Paralympics, she suffered another setback. She was injured in two severe car accidents.

"I have been through so many hard times but I am mentally strong and I have a fighting spirit in me," she tells me. "No matter how old I, am I will still beat the younger players."

She says she will fly through the Paralympics just like a butterfly -- Selina Wang, CNN, Tokyo.


HOLMES: What a wonderful story, what a wonderful lady.

Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM, I'm Michael Holmes, appreciate your company. You can follow me on Instagram and Twitter @HolmesCNN. "CONNECTING AFRICA," starting after a short break.