Return to Transcripts main page


Evacuations Resume In Aleppo; Gunmen In Jordan Attack Tourist Spot; South Korean President's Friend Arrives In Court; Jordan: 10 Killed In Cowardly Terrorist Attack; Gunmen Entered Karak Castle In Jordan; China And Trump Clash Over Drone Seizure; Senator John McCain Says Russia's Election Hacking Threatens Democracy; U.S. Electors Under Pressure To Change Their Votes; "Limited Evacuations" Resume in Aleppo after Buses Set on Fire; Concerns in Eastern Europe Grow over Moscow Cyber Attacks; Migration Crisis in Central America and Human Trafficking; Wine Detectives Sniff Out Counterfeit Wine. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired December 19, 2016 - 01:00   ET


[01:00:00] NATALIE ALLEN, CNN NEWSROOM ANCHOR: Hundreds of Syrians managed to get out of Aleppo after evacuations resumed, but thousands of others are still trapped.

CYRIL VANIER, CNN NEWSROOM ANCHOR: Authorities in Jordan, is trying to find out more about who carried out a deadly attack in a popular tourist spot.

ALLEN: Plus, the close-friend of South Korea's President appears in court, in a trial that could have wide-ranging implications for Park Geun-hye.

VANIER: Welcome to our viewers around the world. Thank you very much for joining us, I'm Cyril Vanier.

ALLEN: We're live at Atlanta CNN NEWSROOM starts right now, I'm Natalie Allen.

VANIER: It has been an agonizing wait for thousands of people trapped in Eastern Aleppo. For now, limited evacuations have resumed. Hundreds were taken to the Aleppo country-side on Sunday, but those still trapped - and they could number in tens of thousands are trapped in freezing temperature and they're starving. They're also praying that their lives will soon be saved.

ALLEN: Convoys were stopped for hours after attackers tried to sabotage the new evacuation deal, some buses, as you can see, were set on fire while heading to other beseeched areas. There were no passengers on board and no reports of injuries. The wait to be evacuated from Eastern Aleppo was especially excruciating for the wounded.

VANIER: A Simon Israel from ITN reports a make-shift hospital was not sent enough ambulances to evacuate patients. Now, word of warning some viewers might find his report upsetting.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) SIMON ISRAEL, ITN SENIOR HOME AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: They said they needed 50 ambulances for 120 patients, today they were promised only 2, under the renewed evacuation plan. Yes, in every corridor, in every corner, on every inch of floor - lie the injured, the sick and the dying in this make-shift hospital basement.

One who passed our camera will (INAUDIBLE) plead for updates. He's been waiting a week and the bleeding won't stop. As the hour's ticks by, still no news, no ambulances, no buses.

The desperation, the urgency increases. This man wants his friend to be treated as a priority - now they've been told only two ambulances will be coming.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Two cars are only enough four cases, nothing more than that. The rest of the injured people are still in the only field hospital left inside the city. The rest of the injured are all over the streets and no one is listening to our calls.

ISRAEL: And then there are the babies, whose cries are barely heard.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): She's two months old, just arrived here in the hospital. They're at the check point for three hours, the weather was very cold. They couldn't cross, so they came back, she has cramps now and there's no pediatrician and no basic medicines.

ISRAEL: Their release from Aleppo has been hanging on one crucial condition. The freedom of hundreds of others in the beseeched pro- Assad villages of Al Fu'ah and Kafarya, a convoy of buses was laid on.

But then, as soon an extremist faction intervened and set fire to the fleet before it could reach those villages. "We won't let you evacuate, the Shia, in peace," said one attacker. They'll only come out when they are dead.

Back in the rebel enclave of Eastern Aleppo tonight, all hope has been crushed and the sick and the injured have returned to their precarious existence.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Now we are cleaning the hospital, preparing all the rooms to start working again and we are - we will stay here now, and we don't know if we will leave and there no hope to leave.

ISRAEL: But that is not the picture Syrian state TV is broadcasting tonight. It showed half a dozen buses with - it said, militants send their families waiting a check point to cross into the West of the city and to free them. Yet not one person can be seen on the coaches or on the road-side

The injured and the vulnerable are supposed to be their priority in an evacuation from the war zone, where civilians and fighters live alongside each other. Tonight, by any account, they were not.

(END VIDEOTAPE) [01:05:04] VANIER: And we've also seen a glimpse of the hell that Aleppo has become from a seven-year-old girl. Bana Al-Abed and her mother have documented their daily lives on Twitter. Turkey mediated the new evacuation deals so before the evacuations resumed on Sunday, Bana and her Mom directed a tweet to Turkey's President and Foreign Minister -

ALLEN: And they wrote, "Please, please, please make this ceasefire work and get us out now, we are so tired." The foreign minister then replied, "Difficulties on the ground won't deter us sister, rest assured that we are doing all to get you and thousands of others to safety."

Jordan says, a cowardly terrorist attack has left 10 people dead, dozens wounded - four attackers were killed after a stand-off with security forces.

VANIER: Their victims include security members, civilians and a Canadian tourist. CNN's Jomana Karadsheh reports from Amman.


JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It has been described as a terrorist attack by Jordanian officials has come to an end according to a statement from the security services in Jordan. They say, what is on-going right now is clearing and calming operations around the area of the main attack around that castle of in the city of Karak to the South of Jordan. They say that four attackers who they described as terrorist were killed in this operation, they say they found a large number of automatic weapons on them as well as a large amount of ammunition. Also, in the house that these attackers described as terrorists were using in a town near Karak, they say, that they found suicide vest and explosives there.

According to Jordanian authorities, this was multiple shooting incidents that took place in Southern Jordan. To the North of the City of Karak in the town of Gatrana, their security forces came under fire, and also in Karak itself, these two shooting incidents, one where a police patrol came under-fire but the deadliest most serious incident was when a gunman positioned himself in the Karak Castle, that's 12th century crusader castle,one of the main tourist attraction in Southern Jordan and they opened-fire on a nearby police station there. They were surrounded by security forces and gun battles ensued for few hours. This type of attack is rare in this country, Jordan, we - they pride itself with its security and stability in the midst of its turbulent region. But, this key U.S. ally has been a target of terrorist organizations according to officials here who say that they have thwarted several terror plugs over the past year including one by ISIS.

It is still unclear who is behind this attack on Sunday, being blamed on terrorist groups by Jordan who says - where the government says, that it is investigating the identity of the attackers and what affiliations they have. Jomana Karadsheh, CNN Amman. (END VIDEOTAPE)

VANIER: Let's move down to a story that CNN has been following for weeks, a friend of South Korean President Park Geun-hye at the center of her impeachment scandal has appeared at her first court hearing. Her name, Choi Soon-sil, she was indicted last month over a string of corruption accusations. CNN's Saima Mohsin is in Seoul, she joins us now with the latest.

Saima, Choi Soon-sil is the very, very heart of the political scandal that could very well bring down a President, what is she actually accused of in her trial?

SAIMA MOHSIN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, hi Cyril. Exactly, she is at the center of this and that's because she's accused of abusive power, attempted coercion, and attempted fraud that's because she's a very close friend of President Park Gyuen-hye, and Choi Soon-sil - if Choi Soon-sil is actually accused of using that close relationship with the President to accumulate millions of dollars for her foundation. And it's not just her embroiled in this controversy alongside her today in court are two of President Park Geun-hye's secretaries, they chose not to appear in court. Choi Soon- sil did appear in court in those prisons overall stepping down off the prison bus as she arrived in court and there are other major companies as well at the center of this scandal, Cyril.

VANIER: How does this connect back to the President? She's believed to had a great influence of the President.

MOHSIN: Yes, they have been long-term friends. In fact, Choi Soon- sil's father as well has a strong connection to President Park Geun- hye and they - and it said that, that relationship really cemented and enabled Choi Soon-sil to carry out of all of this corruption that she's accused of.

[01:10:05] In fact, there is allegations amidst this which will come out in time in the trial, today is just a preliminary hearing, but says that she had access to Presidential records and documents that she shouldn't have, so all of this will obviously come out in time, and whether it can be proven or not today, they're laying out the evidence and we will soon find out what evidence there is available. But as you say, this puts it right at the center of this corruption scandal, which then has a knock-on effect on South Korean politics.

President Park Geun-hye has been facing extreme opposition for eight weeks, millions of people taking to the streets in central Seoul, calling for her to step down. She didn't do that, but parliament then turns to an impeachment vote and voted for in favor of impeachment, 234 votes against 56, that's now with the constitutional court. There are tremendous changes ahead for the people here in Seoul and the rest of South Korea.

VANIER: Saima Mohsin, reporting live on this trial that undoubtedly many, if not most, South Koreans are watching keenly. Thank you very much.

ALLEN: We have this story, just in from Siberia -- a small plane belonging to the Russian defence ministry has crash landed but, all passengers and crew members have survived.

VANIER: 16 people were severely injured and have been taken to nearby health centers, the Russian defense ministry says the plane had been conducting a planned flight from an airbase.

ALLEN: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM, we'll be right back.


KATE RILEY, CNN SPORT NOW: I'm Kate Riley, with your CNN WORLD SPORT headlines. It's been another fabulous year for Cristiano Ronaldo, it's been also pretty memorable week, too. He picked on the Ballon d'Or Player of the Year Award on Monday and scored his 500th-club goal on Wednesday, and then on Sunday, he won the Club World Cup with Real Madrid in history fashion. Ronaldo scored the first-ever hat trick in the Club World Cup Final, as Real beat Kashima Antlers at 4-2 in extra time, the victory extends Madrid's record unbeaten run to 37 games now.

And the English Premier League where Manchester City are sitting pretty in second after coming from behind to beat Arsenal.

The Gaumonts take an early lead at the Etihad Stadium thanks to Theo Walcott, but that lead would disappear after a pair of second-half goals from the citizens.

Leroy Sane levelled the match before Raheem Sterling will get the win - 2-1 end. This is now Arsenal's second defeat on the spin and top them, and now the team who came from behind to run-out winners at home on Sunday as well three goals in this one against Burnley, Ashley Barnes have put the visitors ahead - after 20 minutes, this goal was seen canceled out by England International Dele Alli. Danny Rose got the win after his first with 20 minutes to go. 2-1, that one would end, at (INAUDIBLE). And that's a look at all your sports headlines, I'm Kate Riley.


[01:15:05] VANIER: Welcome back, China seizure of a U.S. underwater drone has sparked a war of words with U.S. President-elect Donald Trump.

ALLEN: A war of tweets, as another way to put it. The device was snatched by China in international waters last week and Trump responded with angry tweets about it. China now says, it will return the drone but it's taking Trump to tact for his reaction. From Beijing, CNN's Matt Rivers has more.

MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the seizure of this U.S. Navy underwater drone by a Chinese Naval Ship really played out along the entirety of the weekend. We found out about it on Friday, it was on Saturday that the Ministry of Defence here in Beijing confirmed what had happened, and said it would be returning that drone to the United States. And then it was President-elect Donald Trump's turn to weigh-in. He tweeted twice about this issue with the second tweet appearing to be a little bit more aggressive saying that the United States should just let China keep the drone and not worry about getting it back, and then on Sunday, it was the state- run media here in China, it was their turn to weigh-in on all of this. And it was their state-run tabloid newspaper called the Global Times which is known for its very provocative use on issues like this that really stood out to us.

Let me read you some of the editorial that was written about this subject, it read in part quote, "The tone of a bystander fanning flames in Trump's second tweet is particularly worrisome that he might treat the relationship between superpowers as a game. Given that he has not been in the White House, the official Chinese rhetoric about him has so far been measured. But this restraint will not last when he officially becomes president, if he still treats China the way he tweeted today." And that really matters, because state-run newspapers in China are just that, they are state-run nothing gets published here even if it is an editorial without the sign off, of communist party censors. And so, while you might not hear a spokesman with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs getting up and making a provocative statement like that, the fact is, that this is a state-run newspaper expressing state views.

Now, a big question here that's remaining in Beijing is how will this incident affect the U.S. - Chinese relations going forward. If you looked at what has happened over the past couple of weeks, it's just the latest negative incident, frankly, in terms of the relationship between both sides and it all surrounds the incoming Trump administration - Donald Trump taking a call in early December from the President of Taiwan. Then questioning the One China Policy, and then tweeting about this latest incident, and it's drawn the ire of the Chinese government. And so, whether that is part of the Trump administration's plan moving forward, we're still not sure -- this kind of tough take on China. But it is safe to say here at least on the Chinese side of things, that the Chinese government given their statements and what you're seeing in state-media, not really happy so far with the take and the track of the incoming Trump administration. Matt Rivers, CNN Beijing.

ALLEN: That is one famous drone, isn't it now.

Well, Senator John McCain says, Russia's alleged attempt to hack the U.S. Presidential Election threatened democracy.

VANIER: McCain and three other Senators, democrats and republicans, want the special senate committee to look in to the alleged attempts by Moscow to help Donald Trump win the White House. McCain clammed Washington's response so far.


JOHN MCCAIN, UNITED STATES SENATOR: The president has no strategy and no policy as to what to do about these various cyber-attacks that have possibly disrupted an American election. We need a select committee, we need to get to the bottom of this, we need to find out exactly what was done and what the implications of the attacks were, especially if they had an effect on our election. There's no doubt they were interfering, and no doubt it was the cyber-attacks. The question now is, how much and what damage, and what should the United States of America do? And so far, we've been totally paralyzed.

This is serious business if they're able to do - harm the electoral process then they destroy democracy, which is based on free and fair elections.


VANIER: Now, lest our viewers forget Donald Trump hasn't officially won the U.S. Presidency yet. But that is about to change.

ALLEN: Monday, the 538 members of the U.S. Electoral College, perhaps you heard of that because we've been talking about it for quite some time. They will meet in each state and the District of Columbia to finally cast their ballots. Trump won the majority of electoral votes in last month's election even though he lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton by about three million people.

[01:20:14] VANIER: Early next month, congress will count the Electoral Votes and on January 20th, if all goes as expected, Trump will indeed be sworn in.

But Trumps opponents are hoping that a last ditch of their campaign could alter the election's outcome.

ALLEN: As Rosa Flores reports, many of the republican electors are under pressure to change their votes.


MICHAEL BANERIAN, MICHIGAN ELECTOR: So, this one came in a day before the election, "Hey blank head, I'll find you and put a bullet in your fat blanking mouth."

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Death threats fill Michigan elector, Michael Banerian's social media accounts.

BANERIAN: So this is a tweet I received, has a picture of a noose on it.

FLORES: His mailbox packed with demands coming from around the country, 2000 just this week he says.

BANERIAN: Oregon, Oklahoma, Washington States -

FLORES: The mailman, even interrupting our interview to deliver another 600 letters, all calling on him not to vote for Donald Trump. Something Banerian along with Michigan's 15 other electors pledge to do, regardless of the pressures.

BANERIAN: I've had death wishes, people just saying I hope you die. Do society a favor, throw yourself in front of a bus. And just recently, I was reading a blog about me and unfortunately, these people not only called for the burning of myself but my family, which is completely out of line.

FLORES: Banerian has no choice, Michigan state law keeps him from changing his vote. Electors in 27 other states and the District of Columbia also have what are known as "Faithless Elector Laws", but in 22 states, electors can go rogue.

Anti-Trump groups are not letting up posting the names and addresses of 283 electors on the internet. Encouraging people across the country to write the electors asking they vote against Trump.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I believe I must cast my vote for an alternative republican.

FLORES: The group, Hamilton electors, is leading the charge to block Trump from 270 electoral votes. They say at least 20 electors are on board, but they need 37 for the election to go to the House of Representatives.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Republican members of the Electoral College, this message is for you.

FLORES: Hollywood stars are pushing for an alternate ending as well, releasing this video.

RICHARD SCHIFF, ACTOR: By voting, your conscience, you and other brave republican electors can give the House of Representatives the option to select the qualified candidate.

FLORES: But that's never happened before, and Banerian says, his vote won't help this year be the first.

BANERIAN: It's utter hypocrisy, because I don't think that if the roles were reversed most of these people would be OK with electors being faithless and voting for anyone other than Hillary Clinton had she won.

FLORES: Rosa Flores, CNN Chicago.


VANIER: All right. Let's update you on a story we've been tracking over the last couple of days with meteorologist Karen Maginnis, who joins us now live from the CNN International Weather Center. Much of the Northern U.S. has been in a grip of sub-zero temperature of the last few days, Karen.

KAREN MAGINNIS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, they certainly have, and what we are looking at is temperatures moderating a bit. Now, that's a little premature because it's going to take a couple of days. We've had this Arctic blast which is ushered in double digit below zero- degree reading. All the way from the Northern Tier State into the Great Lakes Region and across Deep South as well, but what we're looking at is kind of a moderation of these temperatures of the next several days. But by taking a look at this, are below zero degree freezing temperatures this mark is minus six right now, Sioux Falls is minus 14, minus 16 degrees and the frigged air has really been plummeting well to the South.

But as I mentioned we'll start to see some fairly quiet weather. But the wind shear factor is really what has been, perhaps, the most bitter-pill to swallow and that is because in Minneapolis minus six, but the wind shear factor makes it feel like minus 13.

And just to give you a different illustration - let's show you a different perspective in Barrow, Alaska that's inside the Arctic Circle. They don't see much sunshine there and it's pretty much stays in that frigid of temperatures all winter long. Right now, it's minus 18 degrees but, it's even colder in Chicago, it's minus 22. So, you would think that inside the Arctic Circle, it would be much colder but in fact, no. The Arctic air has really split across the United States rather dramatically, but we'll start to see the frigid air sweep off more towards the North-East and instead get replaced by cold temperatures. Where we, in fact, are looking at readings that are not too unlike what we would typically see for this time of year.

[01:25:07] Take a look at Boston, we'll make it all the way to six degree by Wednesday, but on Monday, minus 4. All right, let's talk about the weather in China, more specifically, the air - the air quality. It is so poor there that until Wednesday, there is a red smog alert for the area, right around Beijing and it closed about 20 cities in the vicinity. There's no mixing in the lower levels of the atmosphere so as long as there's not a weather system to come push all of this out, it's going to remain this very heavy clogged air. But by Wednesday, we think that there is some relief in store, but until then, they put - shut down some factories and they've taken the worse- polluting automobiles and vehicles off the streets. Hopefully, to make a dent in this terrible air quality. Back to you guys.

ALLEN: Yes, so much of the country, too. Thank you, Karen.

Well, hundreds of people have been evacuated from Eastern Aleppo, but thousands more are waiting and waiting, and it's getting tougher for them to survive hunger and freezing temperatures there.

VANIER: Plus, how officials in Central America are trying to stem the risk of human-trafficking in the wake of a migrant influx.


ALLEN: And welcome back to our viewers around the world. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live in Atlanta, I'm Natalie Allen.

VANIER: And I'm Cyril Vanier, and here are the top stories we're following for you this hour.


[01:30:59] NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Hundreds of people got out of Aleppo on Sunday as limited evacuations resumed. Buses transported people out, families and children, the elderly. The convoys were stopped for hours after an attack on buses headed to other besieged areas. Thousands are still trapped and it's freezing out in Aleppo.

CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR: Recent evacuation deals in Aleppo have broken down, the last one just on Friday. And the new agreement is a lot more complicated than those that have already failed. Our Mohammad Lila explains from the Turkish-Syrian border.


MUHAMMAD LILA, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: After a weekend of desperation and disappointment, there finally appears to be a light at the end of the tunnel. The U.N. is referring to these at limited evacuations. We understand about five buses or so are filled with people who are being evacuated from the eastern part of Aleppo to the Aleppo countryside.

This is a bigger plan or transfer or exchange, if you will, of civilians who are trapped. There are some civilians in a couple of pro regime towns that have been encircled by jihadi militants, including elements of al Qaeda. They have been besieged in those towns for more than a year and a half. And as part of this arrangement, people in those towns will be released in batches of 1,000 or so. And concurrently, similar numbers will be released from the eastern part of Aleppo.

The big question mark is, because you're dealing with a transfer, it requires a lot of guarantees on the ground and not just observations from the United Nations and relief organizations. It also requires a certain buy-in from all of the militant groups on the ground as well as the Syria army and pro Assad militias. And we've seen over the weekend there are some elements that don't want this evacuation to take place. And the biggest example were these buses headed to those besieged towns to take those people out, well, some of those buses were set on fire before they could even reach there. No group has officially claimed responsibility for setting those buses on fire but we do know it happened in an area where there is a heavy al Qaeda presence.

And there were rebel commanders in eastern Aleppo not happy with that. They wanted this evacuation plan to go through. What happened was the group that set the buses on fire sabotaged this evacuation plan and left the lives of thousands of people on both sides hanging in the balance, simply because many people are still sleeping out in the cold and they are unsure if they are going to have enough food to eat tomorrow.

Muhammad Lila, from the Turkish-Syrian border, CNN.


VANIER: And staying in the region, ISIS is claiming responsibility for a deadly suicide bombing in southern Yemen. The air attacker targeted a military base on Sunday as soldiers were lining up to get their salaries. 52 soldiers were killed and 34 wounded.

ALLEN: Officials say the bomber was able to enter the base dressed as a soldier. Just one week earlier, at least 48 soldiers were killed in an ISIS attack on the same camp.

Venezuela's president says more than 300 people have been arrested during protests and looting over the country's cash crisis. VANIER: The government pulled the 100 bolivar note from circulation

but the new currency still hasn't arrived at many banks. President Nicolas Maduro says the old note will still be good until January 2. That is his second deadlines. He insists his government isn't to blame for the crisis.


NICOLAS MADURO, VENEZUALAN PRESIDENT (through translation): The two parties of the gringo embassy show up everywhere. The two Gringo parties are in Venezuela. The illegal Free Will terrorist group, which calls itself this, and is responsible for deaths, violence and destruction.


ALLEN: So he is attacking the world over this problem but, again, he has extended the deadline for people to use their bolivars until January 2.

VANIER: Gringo not exactly a term of endearment.

Russia has adamantly denied that it interfered with the U.S. elections.

ALLEN: But the concerns about cyber hacking by Moscow are not just confined to Washington. Ukraine and other Eastern European nations are worried as well.

We get more about that from Ivan Watson.



[01:35:05] IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): War games in the snowy fields of Eastern Europe as U.S. soldiers train in Latvia. 25 years ago, this was part of the Soviet Union. Today, Latvia is part of the European Union and also a U.S. military ally in NATO.

(on camera): Those are live-fire exercises. That's why I've got to wear all this extra protective armor. Military commanders say they're trying to show they are full deterrents. And the number-one potential threat, Latvia's much bigger neighbor to the east.


COL GREGORY ANDERSON, U.S. ARMY: It was really a response to Russian activity in 2014, and when the strategic situation changed.

WATSON: He's talking about Russia's annexation of the Crimea peninsula after Russian forces drove Ukrainian troops out of this corner of Ukraine in 2014.

(SYRIN) WATSON: Russia's land grab threatens people in former Soviet republics like Latvia where there are still bitter memories after half had a century of Soviet occupation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our main aim is to protect our sovereignty and protect our statehood. If Russia is so peaceful and regards us as neighbors, good neighbors, why should you put more force on your borders?

WATSON: But there are two sides to this tension. We traveled from Latvia, across Lithuania to Kaliningrad --


WATSON: -- a Russian enclave in Europe that's cut off from the mainland Russia.

In Soviet times, this was a heavy militarized place, closed off from the outside world. Kaliningrad was recently thrust back into the spotlight after Russia deployed nuclear-capable missiles here.

Russia's top diplomat defended the move arguing it's the U.S. that's threatening Russia.

UNIDENTIFIED RUSSIAN DIPLOMAT: Well, it's our territory. But the plans of the United States, well, they quadrupled the money allocated to -- to support military deployment in Eastern Europe and then they moved NATO infrastructure next to our borders.

WATSON: Kaliningrad is still the headquarters of the Russia Navy's Baltic fleet. And Moscow has been flexing its own muscles, performing military drills in the region.

In 2014, Western governments punished Russia's actions in Ukraine with economic sanctions. They have contributed to a broader economic crisis in Russia that has everyone we talked to worried about the future.

"Of course, I feel bad when they always blame Russia for everything that's gone wrong in the world," says Constantine Spernorf (ph). "This confrontation," he tells me, "is not good for anyone."


WATSON: Rival militaries maneuvering on opposite sides of increasingly tense borders in a land that still bares scares from the last time armies fought here.

(on camera): The countryside around Kaliningrad is dotted with dozens of old German churches like this one, abandoned and in ruins after the Soviet army invaded and conquered this land. Reminders of what happened the last time tensions spun out of control in this part of Europe.

Ivan Watson, CNN, Kaliningrad, Russia.


ALLEN: All this week CNN will have special coverage of Vladimir Putin's Russia. Join us for our reports on Russia flexing its muscle on a global stage, from allegedly interfering in the U.S. election and annexing Crimea and its role in the Syrian conflict, right here on CNN.

VANIER: We'll take a short break. When we come back, on CNN NEWSROOM, thousands of migrants are pouring into Costa Rica as they try to reach the U.S. We'll see what's being done to prevent them from falling victim to human trafficking.


[01:42:15] ALLEN: Welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM. Western Europe is being flooded by refugees from Syria and other troubled countries, as we've reported now for years, but there's another migration story and it's in the Americas.

VANIER: Thousands of migrants are trekking through Central America hoping to reach the U.S., but they also face the threat of human traffickers.

Shasta Darlington has today's CNN Freedom Project report.


SHASTA DARLINGTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This bustling border town, the main crossing between Costa Rica and Panama, long an important trade and tourist route. In recent months, however, the town has seen an unprecedented influx of migrants trekking north from South America, thousands of them, many originally from Africa and the Caribbean, bound for the United States. Posing a logistical and humanitarian nightmare for the government of Costa Rica.

The communications minister is spearheading the effort to process them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At this moment, Costa Rica is absolutely overwhelmed with migration situation. No one were prepared or was thinking the possibility that receive 10,000 people from Haiti or from Africa.

DARLINGTON: Cy Wynter, of the International Organization for Migration, is in charge of border management for North, South, and Central America.

He worries that migrants will lose patience with the bottlenecks and look for another way across the border, putting them at risk for human trafficking.

CY WYNTER, BORDER MANAGEMENT SPECIALIST, INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATION FOR MIGRATION: They can't get through the front door so they go through the window. And by doing that, they end up unknown to the state. So, the country doesn't know the person, and the person doesn't have access to the services of the country, and that's a core vulnerability that can be capitalized on by traffickers.

DARLINGTON: Costa Rican officials say they are trying to process the migrants as quickly as possible. They are admitting 100 to 200 a day but there's a waiting list several weeks long before migrants can receive a document that allows them into the country.

(on camera): Once the migrants finally have the papers in their hand, they are brought here to this warehouse that used to hold fertilizer. Now, it can hold up to 250 people. They get free meals, a roof over their head and a mattress to sleep on.

(voice-over): This shelter is just a few kilometers north. Many here say they were on the road for months before getting stuck on the Costa Rican border.

They are tired, frustrated, and running out of money. And they have heard the situation on Costa Rica's northern border isn't any better.

That's because Nicaragua has closed its border to undocumented migrants, forcing thousands there in deplorable conditions and makeshift shelters and tent villages.

[01:45:44] WYNTER: The Costa Rican authorities are working very hard to -- to accommodate. They have got some 5,000 people and they are expecting that the number will.

DARLINGTON: To stem the growing human trafficking concern in Costa Rica, the government has been cracking down on traffickers. At the same, IOM officials are trying to prevent human trafficking from happening in the first place. They are meeting with migrants and offering counseling and advice as new arrivals continue to pour in.

Like these brothers who just arrived in Costa Rica. Optimistic and unware of the backlog they're about to face.

WYNTER: They, of course, want to go to the United States. And that's all they're talking about. If they proceed as they are, they run the risk of becoming vulnerable. I told them they could easily become victims of labor exploitation.

DARLINGTON: None of the migrants I spoke with had even heard of the term "human trafficking." Wynter says many people in this population are so accustomed to being exploited that they don't recognize it as modern-day slavery. And with tens of thousands of migrants on the move throughout Central and South America, he fears this crisis is not likely to end any time soon.

Shasta Darlington, CNN, in Costa Rica.


VANIER: And on Tuesday, Shasta Darlington will introduce you to Yolanda, a migrant who has landed in Costa Rica, bound for the United States.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translation): I even walked. I was in Colombia and Panama before I arrived in Costa Rica.

DARLINGTON: Yolanda says she arrived four days ago, hoping to quickly receive the document she and her husband need to legally enter Costa Rica and transit north to the next border, only to discover they will have to wait six weeks just for an appointment with Costa Rican immigration officials.


ALLEN: Stay with us for the rest of Yolanda's story. That will occur on Tuesday as party of the Freedom Project series, "Perilous Journeys," right here on CNN.

VANIER: When we come back after the break, wine criminals beware. Top merchants are hiring wine detectives to sniff out counterfeit bottles. See how they do it.




[01:52:13] ALLEN: When you order a fine wine from France, you want it to be a fine wine, right? Well, there's a problem in China. Countries with growing middle classes like China also have a growing taste for fine wine, and that's creating a budding market for counterfeiters and a major headache for wine merchants.

VANIER: And as "CNN Money's" Nina dos Santos shows, sometimes only a wine detective can sniff out a fake.


NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN MONEY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Welcome to Barry Brothers, the U.K.'s oldest wine merchant. A million cases of the best vintages worth over $1 billion all housed under one roof.

And sniffing out the sour grapes is Phillip Moulin, the firm's first wine detectives.

PHILLIP MOULIN, WINE DETECTIVE: We're about to enter the holy of holies. This is where the rarer and the older are.

It's 1875, yeah, 1875. Three magnums. And they were actually bottled by us.

DOS SANTOS: Under his magnifying glass and 20 years of experience, his job is to keep the cellars forgery free. He can spot a wine from a fake.

MOULIN: If you look at a label, if it's from 1945, it's absolutely pristine, there's a chance it might be too good to be true.

DOS SANTOS: Sometimes the wineries tell him what to look for. Often, he relies on instinct.

MOULIN: The label was fabulous. Nothing in this which led us to think that it was anything other than right, except for the glaringly obvious spelling mistake in the bottom left-hand corner. There's an "M" instead of an "N."

DOS SANTOS: But he never takes risks.

MOULIN: It's not worth us risking 300 years of good reputation. If we're uncertain, it doesn't come in.

DOS SANTOS (on camera): Some of this is worth a lot of money. And China is buying more than ever, taking in $1.8 billion of it in the first nine months of the year. And where there's growing market, there's a growing opportunity for forgers.

MOULIN: Those are naive markets that are learning from scratch. They'll buy a book and they see it on television, there's a perception that there's the right one to have in their cellar, and they go out and buy it, but they don't know what to look for or whether or not it's real.

DOS SANTOS (voice-over): Real or replica, not all fakes taste foul.

(on camera): When you open up some of the wines, what are they like?

MOULIN: It's a very good question. Very often, they have been done to a formula, done to a recipe, and that recipe involves using good wine. So, the more expensive the wine purports to be, the better the wine will go into faking it.

[01:55:00] DOS SANTOS: As the old Latin adage goes, "In wine, there is always truth." And that's always the case these days, meaning traders like these have to go the extra mile to look out for the labels that lie.

Nina dos Santos, CNN Money, London.


VANIER: Movies at the box office, it's the "Star Wars" movie "Empire Strikes Again."

ALLEN: "Rogue One," the latest spinoff, made the jump into space with a, cha-ching, $290 million worldwide box office debut, making it the top movie in the world this week, and beyond, of course.

The film's plot takes place right before the event of the original "Star Wars" film, 1977's "Star Wars, A New Hope," the one and only "Star Wars" movie I've seen. I'm so behind.

VANIER: You can buy the boxed set.

ALLEN: I'll eventually catch up.

VANIER: All right, may the force be with you. That wraps up this hour of NEWSROOM. I'm Cyril Vanier.

ALLEN: I'm Natalie Allen.

The continues next with George Howell, right after this.


[02:00:05] GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR: "Show us the proof" -- that is the word now from the Trump team as leading Senators from both sides of the U.S. political divide ask for an independent --