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Biden and Putin Begin High-Stakes Meeting in Geneva Soon; Israel Launches Airstrikes in Gaza Over "Incendiary Balloons"; China Sends 28 Warplanes Into Taiwan's Defense ID Zone; Biden Projects Western Unity Ahead of Putin Meeting; Putin Wants to Keep Navalny Off Meeting Agenda; Japan Aims for 1 Million Vaccine Shots Per Day by End of June; Athletes May be Disqualified for Breaking COVID Rules; Devastating Cost of Digital Sex Crimes in South Korea; Nicaraguan Crackdown; China to Send Three Astronauts into Space This Week. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired June 16, 2021 - 01:00   ET



JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, again. I'm John Vause, live from CNN's world headquarters in Atlanta.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And I'm Fred Pleitgen, live right here from Geneva, Switzerland, with that summit between Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Joe Biden who said to begin about six hours for now.

Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin have, of course, met before. But this is the first time that they are going to face each other's as equals, both of them a course heads of states of their respective nations.

Now the buildup to the summit has been absolutely tremendous, the U.S. has imposed strict ground rules on the Russians, Putin will arrive first so that the U.S. president will not be kept waiting. Of course, we remember back to the summit in Helsinki, where President Putin kept President Trump waiting for an extended period of time. This will be Mr. Putin's 5th meeting with America's president.

And, of course, President Biden has already met with five leaders of either the Soviet Union or the Russian federation.

VAUSE: Well, the significance of the Senate cannot be overstated. We've said this before and it rings true right now as we wait for these two men to meet face to face.

We get the very latest now what all this means from CNN's Kaitlan Collins.


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Biden arriving in Geneva for the main event. In less than 24 hours, he'll sit down with Russian President Vladimir Putin and the world will be watching. REPORTER: Mr. President, are you ready for tomorrow?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you, thank you so much, thank you.


COLLINS: White House officials already lowering expectations for the outcome, telling reporters they aren't expecting a big set of deliverables. The White House says, that the notoriously late Russian leader will arrive to the venue before Biden, and the two will at first meet with just one staffer each in the room, before being joined by a large delegation.

The venue for the historic summit, an 18 century villa, a reminder of this 1985 meeting also in Geneva, between President Ronald Reagan and Soviet Leader Mikhail Gorbachev.

But if this was Reagan's mantra --

RONALD REAGAN, FORMER PRESIDENT: The maxim is "Doveryai no proveryai." Trust but verify.

COLLINS: Biden is offering his own version.

BIDEN: I verify first and then trust, and otherwise everything would have to be shown to actually be occurring. It's not about, you know, trusting, it's about agreeing.

COLLINS: Although it will be Biden's first meeting with Putin, since taking office, it is far from their first face-to-face.

BIDEN: I have met with him, he's bright, he's tough, and I have found that he is a -- as they say, when we used to play ball, worthy adversary.

COLLINS: Biden has met with at least three Soviet leaders, two Russian presidents in his career. Then Vice President Biden took aim at Putin in Munich in 2015, after Russia illegally seized Crimea from Ukraine.

BIDEN: America and Europe are being tested, President Putin has to understand that he has changed and so are focused.

COLLINS: White House aides are confident of the summit with Putin will be nothing like the last one the world watched with a U.S. president.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: I have President Putin, he just said it's not Russia, I will say this I don't see any reason why would be.

COLLINS: Then President Trump sided with Russia over U.S. intelligence on election interference.

TRUMP: I have great confidence in my intelligence people, but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today. COLLINS: Sources say, Biden plans to confront Putin over election

interference, ransomware attacks, detained Americans and human rights.

BIDEN: I'm going to make clear to President Putin, that there are areas where we can cooperate if he chooses, and if he chooses not to cooperate and acts in a way that he has in the past, relative to cybersecurity, and some other activities, then we will respond.

COLLINS: But in his first interview with a U.S. outlet in three years, Putin is already telegraphing his own response.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): We have been accused of all kinds of things, election interference, cyberattacks and so on and so forth, and not once, not once, not one time did they bother to produce any kind of evidence.


COLLINS (on camera): And the White House says they expect President Biden and President Putin to just meet for about four to five hours tomorrow. Of course, that is subject to change depending on how those meetings are going.

One thing that we know is they say nothing is off the table when it comes to topics. But when it comes to actually what's on the table, they are not gong to be any shared meals between the two delegations, which, of course, does speak to the level of formality that the White House is bringing to these first talks with Putin.


Kaitlan Collins, CNN, traveling with the president in Geneva.

PLEITGEN: And there certainly are a lot of topics that are on the table. One of the interesting things that we've heard from the Russian side for instance, they do believe for instance that Belarus will be one of the topics that is going to be discussed as well.

They also acknowledged that they believe that the U.S. side is going to bring up Alexey Navalny, the opposition politician who is of course in custody in Russia.

Again, we're coming to hear from Geneva, of course very beautiful early this morning. The weather is amazing, and the lake is very quiet right now, very calm.

This is also quite a historical venue as, well this is the first major summit here in Geneva, since President Reagan and then Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev squared off here in 1985. You can see here, a nice beautiful shot of the city early this morning, as once again people are just waking up and getting ready for this a very historic day. As President Biden and Vladimir Putin are said to me at the La Grange villa, right here in the center of Geneva, right on the shore of Lake Geneva.

President Biden has won 38 years of experience in Russian affairs, and I just want to walk you through some of the key moments in that time. After trips to Moscow that begin in 1973, it was 1988 that Biden who was then a senator on the Foreign Relations Committee held negotiations with Soviet officials on a nuclear treaty. After the fall the Soviet Union 1991, Biden and other senators, this was a 1998, approved expanding NATO to include Hungary, Poland, and also the Czech Republic. Now, of course the expansion of NATO is a really touchy subjects for the Russians.

Then in 2009, then Vice President Biden, called for better relations with Russia when he delivered a major foreign policy address at the Munich Security Conference. Of course, a very important anyone comes to relations between Russia and the west. In 2011, Biden met with Vladimir Putin. We've been discussing that a little bit. This was during an official visit to Moscow in an attempt to strengthen economic ties, between the two countries. That was a time when Russia's economy was really taken off.

But after relations soured in 2014, following Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Crimean peninsula, Biden spoke to the Ukrainian parliament and 2015 and praised Ukrainians for their continue to fight against Russian-backed forces. Of course, in the east and the Donbass region of Ukraine, where Russia of course is accused of interfering there and supporting those rebels of pro Russian militias that are fighting against the Ukrainian military there.

President Biden says, European allies support his decision, to meet with the Russian president. He said basically all the leaders that he spoke to the NATO summit were on board the decision, but clearly not everybody is. One of them is for instance, a former chess champion, Garry Kasparov, who was also a pro-democracy Russian campaigner, and he says that Vladimir Biden doesn't deserve this very big platform, as we're talking about right now.

Kasparov accused Mr. Biden of showing weakness, let's listen in.


GARRY KASPAROV, RUSSIAN PRO-DEMOCRACY LEADER: Putin already got what he wanted, a summit, he might get more of course, but the main exchange has already happened. President Biden gave the credibility of the United States to a brutal dictator. Let's not forget, Biden called Putin a killer and rightly so.

And the president of the United States having a summit with a killer who attacked his country, the United States on multiple occasions, it's only a sign of weakness. And it doesn't matter what Biden or the Democrats think about it, it's what Putin and his mafia and their cronies think that matters. And if you care about the results, so we just should separate the global effect, negative effect of the very effect of this meeting and some domestic politics.


PLEITGEN: And joining me now from right here in Geneva is CNN political and national security analyst, David Sanger, who is, of course, also the White House and national security correspondent for "The New York Times".

And, you know, David, I want to -- I want to throw that straight to you. Do you think that President Biden gave up too much to get this summit? And what do you think President Biden wanted this summit so early in his presidency?

DAVID SANGER, CNN POLITICAL AND NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, I think one of it early because he recognizes that Vladimir Putin's only really great superpower is as a disruptor, right? And that he needed early on to be able to establish some guardrails with Putin. Now, we don't know that that's going to be possible.

But we also know that over the years, it's never been possible without actually engaging your adversary.


Usually what you hear from diplomats is it's nice to meet with your friends, you feel good about it, but there's a reason to go meet with your adversaries, because you have to be able to go lay out some ground rules. And I think that that is been very much the traditional view that President Biden has taken from the years, that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

And you know, in many ways it sort of raises the question particularly for the Republicans who are critiquing President Biden for this. Did it enhance President Putin when President Trump met with him? Of course, those all came after the invasion of parts of Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea.

PLEITGEN: And, of course, you know, one of the things that this is been compared to, you probably also one of the reasons why there's no joint press conference going to be happening at the end of the summit, is because so many people remember the summit in Helsinki between then President Trump and Vladimir Putin.

You know, CNN spoke to Fiona Hill, who helped President Biden prepare for the summit and, of course, was also part of the delegation to the summit in Helsinki, to prepare President Biden for the summit, was also part of the delegation in Helsinki at the time.

I want you to listen into what she had to say about the moment that the press conference happened, between President Trump and Vladimir Putin, and what her feelings were back then and then we'll talk about that a little bit.

Let's listen in.


FIONA HILL, FORMER U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL OFFICIAL: First of all, I've looked around to see if there is a fire alarm, in a rather grand building attached to the presidential palace of the Finish president, who limited to us to the occasion. I couldn't see anything that resembled a fire alarm. It was one of those moments where it was mortifying frankly and humiliating for the country. And it was also completely ahead to say, out of step with what it happened in the meeting.


PLEITGEN: Mortifying and humiliating. Do you think that President Biden is in certain ways, also trying to set the record straight a little bit? Do you think there is somewhat of a Helsinki trauma with the United States?

SANGER: Well, certainly, he wants to set the record straight, with President Putin who's feeling a very different kind of president.

But, look, I don't think there was ever going to be a moment where President Biden was going to put himself in the situation of having a joint press conference. First of all, it would have -- that would have truly given Putin the sort of sense of equal status, that they're out there debating it together in person.

The second thing is, that they know that President Putin is entirely capable of turning around and bringing up new issues, that were never discussed in making it sound like there had been discussion of them during the summit.

So I think each I think it was very important to Biden that he control his own narrative. You'll notice that after the summit today, Putin is going to go first with his press conference, and then Biden.

Now, you could argue that that allows Putin to set the narrative but also you could argue that allows Biden to get the last word.

PLEITGEN: Yeah, it certainly does. Now, that's certainly something that we've taken note of as well. You've written a lot about how the whole cyber sphere is going to be a big topic here at this summit. Do you see the two sides moving in any sort of direction to try and cooperate in that sphere, after all the arguments taking place, that's still very much are taking place.

Because in many ways for the Russians, you know, who obviously don't have the economic power the U.S. has, and certainly is also not the military power of its conventional military power. Cyber is a big equalizer, isn't it?

SANGER: It certainly is. It's the one thing that's been embraced by Vladimir Putin as great asymmetric weapon. And he's embraced it for good reasons. You can have a lot of nuclear weapons, but you can't use them, right? You know what happens moments after you did use them.

But cyber is completely different form. It is a short of war weapon that he can make use of each and every day. And I think when the history books look back at this particular summit, what you're going to conclude is it's the first one where cyber became equivalent in status and importance to nuclear weapons which for 70 years early always overshadowed American meetings with Soviet leaders and then with Russian leaders.

And so, I think the big question here again is can Biden lay out some understandings of what the United States will in won't put up with, both with states sponsored attacks like solar winds which was done by Russian intelligence.


And the ransomware attacks which have been done by criminal groups, many of which are operating on Russian territory. Two very different problems, and he's got a sort of lay out some sort of guardrails for each.

I suspect that President Putin will ignore him, saying you've made a bunch of accusations that are really coming from our territory. And I think my guess is that in the end, that's not going to be a very satisfactory part of the conversation.

But clearly, we need to begin to think about some methods of arms control in cyber, the solutions that are going to be very different from what we had in nuclear.

PLEITGEN: Yeah, certainly. Certainly when the big challenges of the future and in many ways the president as well.

David Sanger, thank you very much. Always great to have you.

And so you can see, John, there's a lot that these two leaders are going to be talking about, cyber, of course, one of those big contentious issues. Ukraine also, then possibly the conflicts in Afghanistan as well. So, it's going to be a very, very interesting day and we'll see -- we hear from these two leaders when they hold or separate press conferences at the end of it, John.

VAUSE: Yeah, setting over quite a little while, too, five hours apparently they'll be talking. As you say, lots to talk about.

Still to come this hour, Chinese warplanes breaching Taiwan's air defense ID zone in force. Why Beijing is flexing its military muscle and a not-so subtle message sending to Taiwan and Washington.

Also, Israel's military launches airstrikes in Gaza, first strike under Naftali Bennett's new government. More on that developing news in a moment.

Also, Olympians could be risking everything if they break COVID rules at the Tokyo Games. A look at the new strict guidelines from the organizers which they've laid out. That's next.


VAUSE: Gaza has been rocked by a fresh round of Israeli airstrikes, which the IDF says were in response to so called incendiary balloons which were released by the militant group Hamas in Gaza.

And Israel says, they started a number of fires once they landed in Israeli territory. The IDF released images of the first airstrikes on Gaza since last month's cease fire, which ended 11 days of deadly violence.

Notably, though, for the first time in a dozen years these airstrikes were ordered with an Israeli prime minister not named Netanyahu.

CNN's Hadas Gold joins us now on the line from Jerusalem.

So, Hadas, what are details that we know about this airstrikes so far?

HADAS GOLD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): So, John, from what we understand the IDF striking targets in Gaza overnight, saying in a statement that it's in a response to the incendiary balloons that were launched from Gaza earlier in the day. They've started several fires in southern Israel.

According to Wafa, the official Palestinian news agency, the airstrikes hit Khan Younis, and said material damage occur, they also said there is another site south of Gaza City that was targeted and there were no casualties from those incidents.


And these airstrikes are the first since that cease-fire went into effect, in nearly one month ago. And these balloons were launched throughout the day yesterday and they were launched on the same day that there was a march in Jerusalem by right-wing Jewish groups. It's called the Flag Day march.

It's supposed to take place last month. It celebrates when Israel took control of the Western Wall in East Jerusalem in the 1967 War, and it was supposed to take place last month, it was canceled as a last minute because that was the day when Hamas began rockets toward Jerusalem, helping to triggers to that 11-day bloody war which had a ceasefire that was in effect.

Now, as far as we understand, the cease-fire technically is still in effect. That goes to show you how fragile it is with these recent airstrikes and the balloons. Now, during the pro - during march yesterday, with a very -- a very provocative march because the marchers at one point were in front of the Damascus gate. That is the main entrance for Muslim worshippers to enter the old city of Jerusalem.

And before the march took place, there is a heavy police presence and police pushed out hundreds of Palestinian counter demonstrations, completely clearing the plaza and clearing the streets around it. Thirty-three Palestinian protesters were injured according to the Palestinian Red Crescent society as part of those operations in East Jerusalem. Now, the marchers were mostly dancing, waving Israeli flags and chanting Jerusalem is our home.

But at one point, they also chanting death to Arabs and it goes to show you how tense situation here and goes to show you how volatile, although there is a ceasefire, it goes to show you how volatile the situation with Gaza, with Hamas currently is, John.

VAUSE: Hadas Gold on the line there from Jerusalem with the very latest, thank you. Kim Jong Un has warned of possible food shortages this year and says

North Korean should also brace for extended pandemic restrictions which have already closed the border with China, the north's economic lifeline. Kim's comments came during the opening of a major political conference with the ruling Workers Party to deal with an economy in crisis. Kim called for ways to boost agricultural production, after a typhoon caused widespread destruction.

Now to one appears to be unforeseen violation of Taiwan's air defense zone by China. Twenty-eight warplanes, including nuclear capable bombers, made an incursion on Tuesday. Just a day earlier, NATO leaders warned of the military challenge posed by Beijing.

CNN's Will Ripley live this hour in Taipei.

So, to be clear, this was a breach of Taiwan's air defense identification zone, which is beyond what is normally referred to as a national airspace of a foreign country. But still foreign aircraft identified and monitor in this particular part of the world, in this air space?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Correct, John. International airspace is where this very complex operation occurred. They did not go into Taiwanese airspace, therefore they did not violate Taiwanese sovereignty under international law.

However, it was clearly an intimidating and complex military operation designed to send a message. What message exactly? That depends on which analysts you ask.

There are two events that have occurred over the last week and a half or so that could have been precursors to this latest Chinese act of military intimidation against the island of Taiwan. The island that it has claimed as its sovereign territory for more than 70 years, despite the fact that this island has governed itself during that entire time period. And it is the only example of a Chinese democracy in the entire world, a government that Beijing does not recognize, nor does the United States for that matter because they severed unofficial ties when the normalize relations with Beijing around 40 years ago.

This operation comes after the G7 leaders issued a joint statement, 48 hours after they issued a joint statement schooling China on the issue of Taiwan, as well as the issue of Hong Kong and the suppression of the pro-democracy movement, and also the treatment of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang, John.

All of these things combined with the fact that the United States landed a C17 on June 6th, where 3 U.S. senators came in for a photo op for three hours to announce the donation of U.S. vaccines. So when you have a large U.S. military plane a week and a half ago, followed by this joint statement, analysts believe that this is a clear message not only to Taiwan but also to the United States.

VAUSE: Yeah, so when we're looking at the vaccine sent over in terms of monitoring these incursions, because these incursions have been going on for a while now. We know that the Taiwanese government was releasing details of the last year. So, this is the biggest incursions so far over last 12 months. So, what do we know about previous incursions and how this one relates?

RIPLEY: The previous record was 25 military planes back on April 25th, but what makes this operation unique is that analysts believe it is likely multiple operations, in other words you had two kinds of fighter jets. You had nuclear capable bombers, anti-submarine aircraft, warning aircraft and they all came together.


This could have theoretically been organized analysts say, just over 24 hours. But clearly, these flight plans would've had to get approval for an advance.

Now, was this entire mission greenlight by Chinese President Xi Jinping? John, you know all too well, in a bureaucracy like Beijing, that there is obviously going to be a lot of red tape. And therefore, this might have been a military operation.

Was it triggered politically? These are really unanswered questions because of the fact that Beijing is just so nebulous, there's no transparency in terms of how their military decision-making is made.

RIPLEY: Few people know this story better than you, Will. Thank you. Will Ripley, live in Taipei, appreciate it.

When we come back, we return to Geneva. That's where Fred Pleitgen is leading our coverage of the Biden/Putin summit.


PLEITGEN: And that's where we expect packed a very tense summit between President Biden and Vladimir Putin of Russia. Of course, so many topics to decide, or to talk about.

But one of the main things that the two leaders are going to be trying to do is actually scope out how they're going to react to one another, and how they're going to govern next to another. A lot more coming up, when our special coverage continues after this.


PLEITGEN: Welcome back to our special coverage.

As you see the lovely Lake Geneva early this morning, as that summit between Vladimir Putin and President Biden is only a couple of hours away. Although this meeting between Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin is, of course, highly anticipated, U.S. officials are keeping expectations fairly low. The U.S. president arrived here in Geneva, just a few hours ago. This will be his first face-to-face meeting with the Russian president, after taking office.

And, of course, needless to say, relations are strained and have been strained for very long time between these two superpowers. The two leaders disagree on a wide array of issues, including cyber-

hacking, Ukraine and election interference. And, of course, there will be no joint press conference. Once the meeting is over.

Now, keep in mind, President Biden is fresh off summits with NATO, the G7, the European Union. Meaning he's bringing tremendous momentum and also newfound unity into this meeting with Vladimir Putin and he's projecting a united front against Russian addressing

Our own Phil Mattingly reports.


BIDEN: I've said, we'll focus (INAUDIBLE) that America is back, and which is why we're here in full force.


PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice over): President Biden capping off a week designed to reinvigorate America's closest alliances, delivering a resolute message.

BIDEN: Europe is our natural partner. And the reason is, we are committed to the same democratic principles. And they are increasingly under attack.

MATTINGLY: A message repeated directly in nearly two dozen conversations with key U.S. allies in the G7, NATO and today, the E.U., one carefully calibrated to be carried into the high stakes moment of his first foreign trip -- a sit-down with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

BIDEN: That's how I will prove that democracy and that our alliance can still prevail against the challenges of our time and delivered for the needs, and the needs of our people.

MATTINGLY: Biden, arriving in Geneva for that sit down with relations between the U.S. and Russia at their lowest point since the Cold War. The two leaders set to participate in at least two meetings -- a smaller sit down with Biden, Putin, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov participating, followed by an expanded discussion with five-member delegations. The two leaders will not share a meal, officials say. And the talks are expected to last roughly four to five hours.

They will close with individual press conferences by each leader, an intentional decision by U.S. officials in an effort not to elevate the Russian leader. The U.S. agenda is lengthy and it will be delivered with clear intent, officials say, from firm warnings on cyberattacks, the imprisonment of opposition leaders, and aggression in Ukraine; to areas of potential cooperation, like Afghanistan, arms control, and the Iran nuclear deal.

BIDEN: I'm going to make clear to President Putin that there are areas where we can cooperate if he chooses. And if he chooses not to cooperate and acts in a way that he has in

the past relative to cybersecurity and some other activities, then we will respond.

MATTINGLY: But even those areas of potential cooperation will come with significant skepticism from the U.S. side.

BIDEN: I would verify first and then trust.

MATTINGLY: Even as Biden signals a grudging respect for what Putin, a leader who has confounded U.S. officials for decades, will bring to the room.

BIDEN: He is bright. He's tough. And I have found that he is a worthy adversary.

MATTINGLY (on camera): And it's worth noting that even though the two teams -- U.S. officials, Russian officials have been in intense negotiations over the course of several weeks about how the sit-down would actually be structured, two senior administration officials say both sides agree to kind of include some flexibility in terms of how the schedule will play out.

Now what does that actually mean? It could mean the two leaders may consider having a one-on-one meeting at some point. It doesn't mean it necessarily will but the administration official is making clear they want the two leaders to gauge how the entire process will and should go based on the substance of their conversations, based on progress or lack thereof that is occurring at the time.

It's just something to keep in mind. To some degree, they understand that yes, there are two meetings set on the books. Yes, they think it will be four to five hours. But once the two leaders get in the room, if things are going well, if they believe there is an opportunity to delve deeper into a particular subject area, there is a very real possibility things may move in a different direction.

It is, in fact, real time diplomacy at work.

Phil Mattingly, CNN -- Geneva.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN ANCHOR: Now, one of the topics that the Russians and Vladimir Putin specifically certainly want to keep off the agenda of this very important subject is the topic of jailed Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny. Now, the U.S. of course, has been very vocal in its criticism, not just of the jailing of Alexei Navalny but of course, also his poisoning with the chemical nerve agent Novichok which the U.S. and its allies hold Russia responsible for.

Now, the Russians, they've denied all of these allegations and so far, Vladimir Putin at least in public and certainly in one of his recent interviews made clear that he does not want to talk about this subject. But as our own Clarissa Ward reports, there really isn't any middle ground between these two countries.


CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: President Putin has said that he will not indulge in any discussion about Alexei Navalny, although of course, he will never actually say his name.

That's part of one of his many tactics to diminish his importance. The reality is he sees him as a threat, but he also sees this as a domestic, political, Russian issue. And he has made it very clear that he won't bring it up or discuss it.

President Biden has made it equally clear that he absolutely intends to bring up Alexei Navalny in conversation. There is not going to be any meeting of minds between the two leaders on this topic, and indeed, on many topics.


WARD: But I honestly think that's going to be like the appetizer. And then when they are done saying their pieces, they will sit down for the main course, which will be trying to find those key, albeit maybe small, areas where they can potentially find some common ground, some strategy to cooperate, some further guarantee of dialogue.


PLEITGEN: That's our own chief international correspondent Clarissa Ward reporting there. As she put it there, they are trying to find middle ground on certain topics but another big flash point that is most certainly going to come up is Russia's ongoing conflict with Ukraine.

That's especially true after this tweet that you see now from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky saying "NATO agreed to allow the country into the alliance."

Now, President Biden pushed back on that almost immediately saying a decision has not been made yet. And that Ukraine still has to fulfill a lot of criteria to even get in that direction.

But if Ukraine were allowed in, it certainly would send a very strong message to counter Russian saber-rattling in the region.

Now, I want to take a quick look at the history of this ongoing conflict going back to 2014, when things really kicked off. That's when protests toppled Ukraine's then very pro-Russian government in early 2014 and ran the President Viktor Yanukovych out of office and also out of the country.

Russia then moved -- very quickly moved in and invaded and annexed Crimea in March of that year. The following month, as things unfolded very quickly, Russian-backed separatists took over a large part of Eastern Ukraine known of course, as the Donbas. There were some really heavy fighting going on there at the time.

In July, all recall, Malaysian Airlines flight 17 crashed in rebel- held territory, killing almost 300 people, of course, who were on board. Dutch investigators -- and the flight had taken off from Amsterdam -- Dutch investigators concluded it had been brought down by a Russian-made surface-to-air missile.

Now fighting between the Russian-backed rebels and the Ukrainian military continued for the next few years, killing more than 10,000 people and several ceasefires up to this point have failed or appear to be failing. Finally, on July 20th 2020, both parties reached an agreement for a full ceasefire.

And our special coverage will continue all day, so stay here with CNN, John.

JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Fred, thank you very much for that.

Well, with the days counting down to the Tokyo Olympics, officials in Japan are trying to ramp up nationwide vaccinations. So far only about 5 percent of the population have been fully vaccinated. Even though daily case numbers are now declining, many see here an Olympic surge.

The government is aiming to see a boost in vaccinations by month's end.


TARO KONO, JAPAN'S VACCINE MINISTER: Well, daily I think we are administering about 800,000 doses a day. And it's going up. So hopefully sometime by the end of June, I think we'll reach one million a day.


VAUSE: Organizers of the Tokyo Olympics have issued a stark warning to athletes: violate COVID restrictions at your peril. The latest playbook warns Olympians will face severe consequences for any violation.

CNN's Blake Essig joins me now live from Tokyo. So exactly what's at stake here if they do in fact, not wear a mask or they don't socially distance or anything like that? What happens?

BLAKE ESSIG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I mean they could potentially be booted from competition. Although changes can still be made with 37 days to go before the games begin. Olympic organizers released a third version of the playbooks that outlined rules, regulations and COVID-19 countermeasures to be followed during the games.

What's clear is that looking through the roughly 70-page athletes playbook is that all the participants are going to face major logistical hurdles and a lot of red tape.

Now, perhaps the biggest in the latest version of the playbook mentioned, John, has to do with what happens to athletes that break the rules.

Now, some of those rules outlined include refusing to take a COVID-19 test, going to destinations not outlined in the athlete's activity plan, not wearing a mask, or not respecting social distancing requirements.


PIERRE DUCREY, IOC OLYMPIC GAMES OPERATIONS DIRECTOR: The means to react (ph), it could go from warnings to temporary or permanent exclusion of the games, withdrawal of the accreditation, we also have the opportunity to disqualify with the consequences that are documented in the charter or to impose financial sanctions. So this range of measures are available to the IOC and the IPC as well.


ESSIG: Organizers say the wide range of penalties that could be implemented will be decided on a case by case basis now to protect the health and safety of participants and the Japanese people.


ESSIG: Organizers say testing, testing and more testing is the key to preventing the spread of infection. Athletes entering the country starting July 1st will have to take two separate tests, one within 96 hours of departure and then another within 72 hours.

Athletes will then again be tested at the airport once they arrive in Japan and then tested every single day from that point moving forward.

Now, if there is a positive test, a person will immediately be tested again. And if a second positive is confirmed, that athlete would then be withdrawn from competition and taken to a designated facility outside of the Olympic Village to be isolated or treated.

Now, the IOC does have a contingency plan in place if this happens although each sport will have slightly different rules for some sports like tennis. If an athlete is removed from a final because of COVID- 19, John, they could be awarded a silver medal.

VAUSE: Wow. Blake thank you. Tough days ahead it seems for the Olympians. Appreciate that. Blake Essig there in Tokyo.

Still to come here on the Cable News Network, why digital sex crimes are surging in South Korea and how the government response has failed to protect the growing number of women and girls falling victim to illicit secret filming.

Plus these days in Nicaragua, even old friends of the president are being rounded up and detained. We'll have the very latest on the country's political crackdown when we come back.


VAUSE: In South Korea there are new scandals and allegations from an Air Force dormitory to a woman's restroom in a public high school but authorities have taken no action against the man who either secretly recorded images of women or installed spy cameras in an attempt to do.

These are just some of the latest examples of the years' long surge in so called digital sex crimes. According to data from South Korean police, in 2008 there were just 585 sex crime prosecutions involving illegal filming.

By 2017, the number was up 11-fold, more than 6,500 or 20 percent of all sex crimes prosecutions in that country involving some kind of illicit filming. The following year, they number of laws would change to deal with this high-tech version of an old perverted crime but that came only after tens of thousands of women rallied across the country chanting "my life is not your porn".

And that's the title of a just released report from Human Rights Watch which says beyond tinkering with the law, the government has done little to prevent the damage and harm inflicted on women and girls, finding this.

"At the heart of the government response is a failure to appreciate how deeply infective digital sex crimes is on survivors."

CNN's Paula Hancock is live for us with details on this from Seoul. This story at the beginning of year, you reported on this I think a couple of years ago back in 2018 as well.

And we talk about survivors here because they do survive these crimes. But not all the time do they survive, there are victims here as well. People died from this.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. This John, has been an issue in this country for some years now. It has been highlighted by ourselves, by a number of different groups as well and media giving out these reports showing just how bad the situation is. You have some of the figures there.


HANCOCKS: But this Human Rights Watch report, a 94-page report did speak to 38 or have 38 interviews to try and corroborate some of the facts that they are putting in here. And they are saying that they believe that the government is still not doing enough.

We have seen legal reforms in South Korea last year, in particular, but they simply don't go far enough in order to try and prevent these crimes from taking place in order to punish those who carry out of these crimes. And in order to deal with the victims in an appropriate fashion.

So we did speak to, or you spoke to the researcher of this report last hour. And one thing she said was interesting. It is not just the fact that these are victims but of course, the trauma they go through does go even deeper.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) HEATHER BARR, INTERIM CO-DIRECTOR, HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH: I think the thing that's important understand about these crimes that I'm afraid too many government policy makers are not understanding that this is a crime that never actually ends. Once those images are out there they can appear at any time for the rest of your life.


HANCOCKS: And this is what we heard from many of the victims that we had spoken to as well. They did not know when it was going to resurface. They knew that there were images of them out there somewhere on the Internet and they felt powerless to be able to do anything about it.

Now, just to give an example of one of the victims that Human Rights Watch report talked about. This was a woman called Lee Ye-Rin (ph) and I'll quote from the report. "Lee Ye-Rin's employer made romantic overtures towards her. He was married, and she was not interested. One day he bought her a clock as a gift. Lee Ye-Rin learned that the clock was a spy cam by finding it advertised online where it was described as providing perfect footage even in the dark."

Now, this is just one, as I say, of those 38 interviews that this report talks about, and it is one that we have heard time and time again. Spy cams being used in South Korea. Several years ago, it emerged that many were being used in public restrooms and many women had fallen foul of those images obviously being taken without their consent and then being posted online.

Now, we are seeing things changing. They're changing slowly in this country, legally. Certainly some of the rules have been strengthened but the main complaint that many of the victims have is that they don't feel they are being taken seriously still.

The fact that many of those that they have to deal with within the police are men, the fact that much of the justices system is male dominated. They don't feel that they have the understanding of just how distressing at these kinds of crimes can be and then of course there is the issue that some of these sentences are laughable, that some of these sentences simply don't go far enough, John?

VAUSE: Yes. It is a culmination of a country which is incredibly advanced in high tech, in communication but still has this old mindset of misogyny.

Paula, thank you. Paula Hancocks live for us there in Seoul.

Well, any discussion of homosexuality and gender change will soon be banned in schools of Hungary after new laws were passed by the far- right government led by Viktor Orban. The legislation sparked a mass protest outside parliament, drew harsh criticism from opposition parties and human rights groups including Amnesty International which says this is a dark day for LGBTI rights and for Hungary like the infamous Russian propaganda law.

This new legislation will further stigmatize LGBTI people and their allies. It will expose people already facing a hostile environment to even greater discrimination.

Mr. Orban has ramped up his anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and policies ahead of next year's elections.

The families of two opposition leaders in Nicaragua say they have not heard from their loved ones since their arrest almost a week ago and there's been no evidence of proof of life.

President Daniel Ortega has been rounding up his political critics as he prepares to run for a fourth term in office.

Here's CNN's Rafael Romo.


RAFAEL ROMO, CNN SENIOR LATIN AMERICAN AFFAIRS EDITOR (voice over): One by one -- the crackdown against opposition leaders and activists in Nicaragua since early June has been unrelenting. Many like presidential candidates Cristiana Chamorro (ph) have been called to appear at the attorney general's office in Managua and more than a dozen have been taken in custody.

And over the last week it is become clear than not even former allies of President Daniel Ortega are safe.

Hugo Torres, a former Sandinista guerrilla fighter like Ortega who also served as brigadier general and intelligence chief is among those detained.

"46 years ago I risked my life to get Daniel Ortega out of jail as well as other political prisoners," Torres said. Adding that he never thought he would be fighting against a new dictatorship at the age of 75.


ROMO: Victor Hugo Tinoco, also a former Sandinista guerilla fighter who fought alongside Ortega against the dictatorship of Anastasio Somoza, was detained Sunday night.

The 68-year-old served under Ortega as Nicaraguan ambassador to the U.N. but their relationship soured when Tinoco told Nicaragua's strongman he should no longer run for president.

According to the former diplomat's daughter who told CNN her father is an innocent victim of political persecution.

"We're living in a dictatorship in Nicaragua. A dictatorship that is even worse than that of Anastasio Somoza and we are asking for help," she said.

The U.S. slapped new sanctions on senior members of the Ortega regime including his daughter and the nation's Central Bank president.

In an interview with CNN, Luis Almagro secretary general of the Organization of American States said Nicaragua has evolved into a dictatorship. And on Tuesday, the regional body as a whole condemned the arrest and what it called harassment and arbitrary restrictions placed on candidates, political parties and independent media.

(on camera): And even here in Mexico, a country that during the current administration of president Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has been friendly to Daniel Ortega, the foreign ministry issued a statement saying that it has notified the government of Nicaragua its concern for the well-being and freedom of those detained.

Rafael Romo, CNN -- Mexico city.


VAUSE: When we come back, China's preparing a return to the final frontier, the country's first manned spaceflight in almost five years set to launch this week. But why now?

Details live to Beijing when we come back.


PLEITGEN: Welcome back everybody. I'm Fred Pleitgen right here in Geneva in Switzerland, continuing our special coverage in the run up to that very important summit between U.S. President Joe Biden and Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

Now of course, the stakes are extremely high. And there are a lot of issues that are on the table. Take a look at the summit agenda yesterday, at least as far as the Russians are willing to put it out. And there certainly are a lot of topics on that agenda.

You have, of course, the whole cyber sphere where President Biden has promised that he would be very tough on the Russian leader and not give him a pass on that subject.

Other topics of course, include Ukraine. They also included the fate of opposition politician who is in jail in Russia, Alexei Navalny.

There are some issues where folks believe that there could be some cooperation between the United States and Russia in the future for instance on the topic of Afghanistan. Neither of the two countries want to see Afghanistan descend into a state of chaos.

Of course, as U.S. forces leave that area, interesting nugget is that the Russian president is actually bringing his envoys both to the Middle East and his envoy for Ukraine -- for Ukrainian affairs. So obviously those two issues are going to be very much on the table as well.

Again, very broad agenda and we are looking to see what those two leaders are going to come up with in their separate press conferences, once again at the end of it, John.

VAUSE: Yes. A lot to get to today, a lot happening. Fred, thank you. And to our viewers please continue watching our special coverage around this historic summit right here on CNN.

We will have it all day long and then some.

China about to launch its first manned space flight in five years with the expected launch of the (INAUDIBLE) rocket on Thursday. Three astronauts will spend the next three months in the first launch of what will eventually be China's space station.


VAUSE: All of this expected to launch on Thursday morning. It's a third of nearly a dozen missions which China says are needed to complete the construction of the space station by next year.

Let's go live to Beijing and Steven Jiang so when do they stop calling them Chiconauts (ph) (INAUDIBLE) astronauts, seriously though, this is a big moment for China all on the way to building their space station.

STEVEN JIANG, CNN SENIOR PRODUCER: That's right, John. you know, this is really a major step towards realizing their increasingly ambitious space goals as President Xi Jinping has put it. China will eventually become a great power in space.

And some probably would argue China is already a dominating force in space because this mission comes on the heels of two recent successful launches of rovers to both the moon and Mars.

Now, this mission as you mentioned really marks the third launch of a total of 11 missions aimed at completing the country's first space station. And they have already launched a core module of the space station in late April and then a few weeks ago launched a cargo spacecraft carrying supplies for the three astronauts to dock with the module.

And this latest mission scheduled to take place on Thursday morning, we'll see these three men spend months in space conducting two space walks, very lengthy ones as the Chinese have put it to install equipment on the space station.

Now, these three astronauts, they are veterans in China's space program. The commander (INAUDIBLE) is already 56 years old. And he was part of two previous manned space missions. And really the Chinese are putting their best and the most experienced to -- most experienced to complete this very important and symbolic task.

Now, one of the main reasons the Chinese are building their own space stations also because they have long been excluded from the International Space Station program because the U.S. Congress actually has banned NASA from cooperating with the Chinese since 2011 out of national security concerns.

Many of course have linked the Chinese program to their military ambitions and indeed three astronauts they're all officers and pilots from the Peoples Liberation Army with the commander actually holding the rank of a major general. But of course, John, interestingly, we have interviewed him back in 2015 and he said, one of his favorite movies was "Gravity". Remembering that movie, the American astronaut trapped in the space after an accident was actually eventually able to return to earth with the help of a Chinese. But given the current geopolitical tensions that probably could only happen in movies, John.

VAUSE: Yes, Sandra Bullock, George Clooney, I remember it well.

Steven Jiang, thank you. Live for us there in Beijing with all the details on that.

Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM.

I'm John Vause.

And again, please stay with us. Our special coverage on the Biden- Putin summit continues after a short break.

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