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Taking Back Mosul; Incident that Never Happened; Death of Kim Jong-nam Causing Tensions; China Shuts Off Coal Import; Preparing for an Investigation. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired February 20, 2017 - 03:00   ET



[03:00:00] ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN HOST: ISIS struggling to hold on to its last major piece of Mosul in Iraq as the government offensive grows stronger. A live report just ahead.

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN HOST: The President of the United States defending himself after he seemed to reference an incident in Sweden. An incident, well, it never happened. We'll explain.

CHURCH: Plus, we will show you a new video of the moment Kim Jong- un's half-brother was attacked at a Kuala Lumpur airport. Tensions over the incident are intensifying between Malaysia and North Korea.

Hello and welcome to our news here in the United States and of course all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church.

HOWELL: And I'm George Howell from CNN world headquarters in Atlanta. Newsroom starts right now.

It is good to have you with us. We begin with breaking news this hour.

The U.S. Secretary of Defense, James Mattis is in Iraq as the country's battle to drive ISIS out of western Mosul that rages on. The area is the terror group's last major stronghold in Iraq.

Iraq's military released the video that you see here reportedly showing air strikes on ISIS facilities there. The targets included factories used for booby trapping vehicles.

CHURCH: The city has also been pounded by rockets and artilleries. Humanitarian groups warn civilians could be caught in the crossfire. The U.N. says up to 800,000 still live in western Mosul, saved the children estimates almost half that number are children. HOWELL: Following the story our CNN senior international

correspondent Ben Wedeman, live in Istanbul, Turkey this hour. Ben, thank you for being with us. You have been on the ground in that area to get an idea of what these forces are up against. What will it take for them to succeed; will this be a street by street battle?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: There's no question about it, George that it will be street by street, house by house, almost room by room. What we have in the western Mosul is anywhere between 2 and 3,000 ISIS fighters who is well-known have already dug networks of tunnels.

They will be used taking full advantage of the narrow alleys and streets that are in the older parts of the western part of the city, which will be difficult, for instance, Iraqi tanks and armored personnel carriers to navigate.

In addition to that, of course, ISIS will be using its common tactic of suicide car bombings and what we've seen in recent months is increasingly they are using these armed drones. They started them using them at the beginning of the offensive back in October. But they've been using them to greater effect in recent weeks.

Now the actual explosive charges on these drones are relatively small but they are very disruptive when it comes to an advancing military force. In addition to all of that, yes, there are the civilians inside the city up to 800,000. And they are in the cross fire. It's not a question of will be, maybe, they are.

But however, Iraq for its part has as many as 100,000 troops of various kinds involved in this operation. So, I think what we'll see is a repeat of what happened in the east, just more difficult.

HOWELL: And Ben, the breaking news that we started the show with James Mattis is in Iraq. What can you tell us about the significance of the U.S. secretary of defense making this first trip there?

WEDEMAN: It's important for the head of the Pentagon to go and see reality on the ground. Don't forget, General Mattis or Secretary Mattis is well familiar with Iraq. He served in the first Gulf War, he served in Afghanistan and he served in the second Gulf War as well in the American occupation,

So, he knows the ground well. Now what's interesting about his current tour is that he seems to be contradicting President Trump every step of the way. Yesterday he talked about the fact that no, he doesn't consider the press to be an enemy of the people.

And today, before arriving in Baghdad he mentioned, he contradicted the president yet again recalling of course, that President Trump the day after his inauguration when he went to CIA headquarters said that the United States should have eased Iraqi oil and may have a chance to do so in the future.

Secretary Mattis was having none of it. This is what he said. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAMES MATTIS, UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: All of us here in this room, all of us in America is generally paid for our gas and oil all along. And I'm sure that we will continue to do so in the future. We're not in Iraq to ease anybody's oil.


[03:05:10] WEDEMAN: And of course that is going to be words of reassurance to the Iraqis who were annoyed by that. And later we're also by the executive order banning Iraqi citizens from going to the United States. So, Secretary Mattis smoothing ruffled feathers somewhat in Baghdad this morning.

HOWELL: But another indication of daylight it seems between the President of the United States and many of his cabinet.

CNN's senior international correspondent, Ben Wedeman, live for us in Istanbul, Turkey where it is 3.05 in the morning. Thank you so much, rather different time. Sorry about that. It is 3.05 here.

CHURCH: Well, following a rough week and then a rousing rally among his supporters, U.S President Donald Trump will try to turn things around.

We are waiting for a new executive order on immigration this week. Mr. Trump says the order will be tailored to the court ruling that paused his travel ban.

HOWELL: The Trump administration is also set to release new guidelines allowing for aggressive immigration policies. Mr. Trump also interviewing candidates for key position of national security adviser. He could make the final decision this week.

CHURCH: The president has repeatedly attacked to media. He has questioned the sources that journalist used. But now some are criticizing the source the president himself uses.

HOWELL: This is after Mr. Trump made a comment about Sweden during a rally in Florida.

Our White House correspondent Athena Jones has more for us.

ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The president's comments at that Melbourne rally on Saturday suggesting there may have been some sort of terror incident in Sweden on Friday night left a lot of people all around the world scratching their heads.

The president later Sunday tweeting that he was referring to a Fox News report that aired on Friday night.

Here is somewhat that report had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Perhaps not so many on earth is more committed to accepting foreign migrants and refugees in Sweden. Twenty sixteen alone the country accepted more than 160,000 asylum seekers despite having population of less than 10 million people. Only 500 of these migrants were able to get jobs in Sweden. But if these arrivals aren't able to work they are at least able to commit crimes.


JONES: Now that segment went on to include an interview with a filmmaker, a documentarian who said that the Swedish government was covering up all kind of violent crimes supposedly being committed by refugees.

Now we have no evidence to back that up. But what's clear here is that the president is an avid watcher of cable news. It's where he gets a lot of his information from. And but this lack of precision, the fact that he said something that made it sound like he was referring to a terror incident left a lot of people sratching their heads.

You had the former Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt taking to Twitter to say "Sweden, terror attack? What has he even smoking?" Questions abound. The fact of the matter is that the president often repeats things that he's heard or read without checking. And this has become the problem.

It shows that the president's words matter and that a lot of people all around the world are listening very, very closely to what the president says.

HOWELL: Athena Jones, thank you.

The Vice President of the United States, Mike Pence is currently meeting with European Unions and NATO officials in Brussels. He is hoping to reassure European allies who are worried about the direction of U.S. foreign policy under President Trump.

CHURCH: Pence spoke at the Munich security conference on Saturday and said the U.S. supports NATO and stands with Europe.

So let's go to CNN's Erin McLaughlin. She is live in Brussels. Erin, who exactly will U.S. Vice President Mike Pence be meeting with today?

ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Rosemary, Vice President Mike Pence is going to begin the day meeting with the E.U. foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini. It seems likely that during that meeting two will discuss the Iran nuclear deal.

Mogherini was one of the chief architects of that deals. And one of its main advocate she just returned from a trip from the United States in which she discuss the deal and she said that she was confident out of that trip that the administration would fully implement that agreement.

That confidence, though seeming to be called into question by what the vice president had to say, and in Munich over the weekend at the security conference casting deep skepticism over the deal. Take a listen.


MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Today the leading state sponsored terrorist continues to destabilize the Middle East. And thanks to the end of nuclear related sanctions under the joint comprehensive plan of action Iran now has additional resources to devote to these efforts.


[03:09:56] MCLAUGHLIN: That statement met with silence there in Munich. Many people here in Europe disagreeing with that sentiment with the best interest of all sides is that there still be fully implemented.

The speech also drawing criticism for what the vice president didn't say. He was talking about Europe close relationship with the United States. He was talking about the United States close relationship with NATO. But not once in that speech did he mention the European Union. Something that officials here in Brussels found alarming.

The French foreign minister tweeting out as much they are going to be looking for that reassurance that the United States support the European Union out of this visit with Mike Pence today.

CHURCH: Interesting. And Erin, the subject of Brexit will likely come up in discussions today. Let's listen for a moment to what U.S. president Donald Trump had to say about that very issue and then I'll come back to you for reaction.


TRUMP: It's a movement that is just sweeping. It's sweeping across our country. It's sweeping, frankly, across the globe. Look at Brexit. Look at Brexit. Much smaller example but it is still something you can look. People want to take back control of their countries and they want to take back control of their lives and the lives of their family.


CHURCH: So, Erin, what has been reaction from E.U. members to Mr. trump had to say there, and what's the level of concern?

MCLAUGHLIN: Well, Rosemary, that statement really is not sitting well with the people here that I've been speaking to in Brussels. I spoke to one E.U. diplomat who told me that it was a very bad signal to be hearing that from the President of the United States on the eve of the vice president's visit to Brussels, saying that it put the vice president in a very awkward position going into some of these meetings.

And it's not the first time that we have heard the U.S. president express a support for Brexit which many interpret to be at best sort of an apathy towards the possibility of disintegration of the European Union.

And the fragmentation of the -- or the potential fragmentation of E.U. is something that came up in a dinner last night between the Vice President Mike Pence and the Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel. Out of that dinner the prime minister addressing media saying, quote, "There is no question of allowing the fragmentation of the European Union." That message was given I feel it was heard.

So clearly, Brexit was something that was discussed between the two during that dinner. And it's likely to be discussed during meetings later then.

CHURCH: Yes, no doubt. CNN's Erin McLauglin, joining us there live from Brussels in Belgium where it is 12 minutes past 9 in the morning. Many thanks to you.

HOWELL: Now to the United Kingdom, British lawmakers are set to debate whether to withdraw the U.S. President's invitation for a state visit. The debate was triggered by a petition that drew more than 1.8 signatures.

Also, the House of Lords will be busy debating the bill to trigger article 50. That bill would take the U.K. out of the European Union.

CNN's Max Foster is following the story, live with us in London this hour. Max, pleasure to have you with us. Let's talk about this debate over the petition to withdraw President Trump's invitation.

That petition reads quite frankly, that he should not be invited to make an official state visit because it would cause embarrassment to her majesty, the queen. Pretty direct message there.

MAX FOSTER, CNN HOST: Yes, absolutely. The first thing to say is this is just a debate. There is no vote at the end of it. Nothing binding will come out of it. But you know, just as feelings are running high about Donald Trump in Brussels, so they are here in London as well.

And this is an opportunity really for members of parliament leading politicians to vent. They can say whatever they like. In parliament they're protected by parliamentary privilege. They can't be sued by Donald Trump if they say something he doesn't like.

And I think that's really what we're going to get today, a sense of feeling, a sense of feeling, a sense of venting, a sense of really how Donald Trump is playing in world politics right now, particularly where you consider that Britain is such a close ally to the United States.

But you also got this dilemma that's going to play out a bit today which is that that relationship is fundamentally important to the United Kingdom, and any U.S. president should be welcome within the United Kingdom.

So, can politicians separate the character really from the position? Because when it comes to the position that certainly the red carpets are always rolled out for state visits for presidents of the United States.

HOWELL: All right. Let's also talk, Max, about the Brexit bill. This will obviously be a heated debate. The question here, might it be amended? The time is obviously of the essence given the government's March 31st target to trigger article 50.

FOSTER: That's right. They have got this bill through the House of Commons un-ammended. Now it does get to the House of Lords, and they can amend it. But it seems very unlikely. Simply because the government hasn't got a majority in the House of Lords.

[03:15:04] But if they make any amendments they have to send it back to the House of Commons. So they basically going to clash with the House of Commons over the issue of Brexit, which they won't want to do. They don't want to be the ones that actually block Brexit from happening. That's the view.

So, I think there will be lots of debate and it last a few days. But I think ultimately, the lords will allowed tis bill to go through so that deadline could come in at the end of March, George.

HOWELL: It is 8.15 in London there. Max Foster, live for us. Max, thank you so much for the reporting.

CHURCH: And you are watching CNN Newsroom. The mysterious death of Kim Jong-nam has sparked an international row. And we are announcing video of the moment he was attacked. That's coming up soon.

HOWELL: And China shuts off all imports of coal from North Korea. CNN's Will Ripley is in Pyongyang with a look at why this could actually be a bright spot for North Korea. Stay with us.


PATRICK SNELL, CNN WORLD SPORT REPORTER: Hi, there. I'm Patrick Snell with your CNN World Sport headlines.

Starting off with Sunday action from England's F.A. Cup fifth round. Blackburn Rovers, and English championship club facing 12 time winner. Manchester United that they would park. Another shock for Blackburn might be undercard when the host go ahead.

Thanks to Danny Graham strike, United go back in it when Henrikh Mkhitaryan superb past finding Marcus Rashford and he does the business.

Jose Mourinho threw on his sub, Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The pair combining superbly for the Red Devil 75th minute winner courtesy of the Swede.

Heading to Spain now for the (Inaudible)defending La Liga champions. Barcelona simply loses on Sunday there. Opponents Leganes are fourth from both the standings but they fought hard despite falling behind to Lionel Messi's early opener for the Catalans. But Barsa was given a nasty joke when Leganes leveled things up. The champs grabbing a winner who Messi again, making no mistake from the penalty spot. And it's been another weekend. Remember for the Austrians Skier Marcel

Hirscher who's finished for the world championship in Switzerland in fine style. He'd already won and a gold a giant slalom and a silver in combined before regaining his slalom world crown in St. Moritz. His fourth world title in individual events, so the seventh medal overall.

That's a look at your sports headlines. Stay with CNN.

CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. We have dramatic new video in from Japan's Fuji TV. It apparently shows the moment the half-brother of North Korea's leader, Kim Jong-un, Kim was attacked in the Kuala Lumpur airport.

[03:20:03] HOWELL: If you take a look here, you see the highlighted portion of the surveillance video. A woman apparently placing something over Kim Jong-nam's face from behind. Then walking off. Kim then can be seen in the gray suit approaching the ticket counter to help, to seek help, rather. An ambulance was called to take him to a hospital but he died on the way.

CHURCH: And his mysterious death in Kuala Lumpur is straining relations between North Korea and Malaysia.

Saima Mohsin is monitoring the investigation and joins us now from Kuala Lumpur. Saima, we'll get to diplomatic relations but first, what more are you learning about the murder investigation, the suspect, and of course the circumstances leading up to the death of Kim Jong-nam?

SAIMA MOHSIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right. Rosemary, it's incredibly complicated. As you know, as the net widens across Asia there are more countries getting involved. I'll try to talk you through as clearly as possible.

Four new suspects, North Korean men are now being hunted or wanted by police. In addition to that, police have said that there are three other men that they want to speak to assist with their investigation. Now crucially they say the four new suspects, they have named North Korean men. They have believed they had believed civilian passports. Crucially they say they left the country on the day of the attack.

This of course all in addition to the four suspects in custody. A woman carrying Vietnamese travel documents, an Indonesian woman, a confirmed Indonesian citizen, a Malaysian man, and North Korean citizen as well. Rosemary.

CHURCH: Of course, it's worth pointing out that prior to the death of Kim Jong-nam, Malaysia and North Korea actually enjoyed good diplomatic relations, not so now. So where do things stand and just how bad could this relations get?

MOHSIN: Yes, exactly. I mean, the relationship was so amicable, so much so that they have an embassy in Pyongyang. But now the Malaysian ambassador to North Korea has been recalled.

In the meantime, we have had an extraordinary back and forth over the last few days. Starting, Rosemary, just after midnight, Friday, local time when the North Korean ambassador came to the mortuary where Kim Jong-nam as we believe has been identified.

And he read out a statement criticizing the Malaysian authorities handling of the case. I'm trying to surmise this for you as briefly as I can. That came with a response this morning. That's Monday morning from the Malaysian prime ministry where they called the ambassador for discussion about the situation.

And they also released a statement saying that their handling has been completely trans important. They are working within the laws and the norms of Malaysia. And they are well within their right to carry out a post mortem examination which is what the North Korean had objected to.

And then, just within the last 30 minutes, Rosemary, the North Korean ambassador came out of the embassy here in Kuala Lumpur to read a statement to the awaiting press. Huge press presence here, Rosemary. And I'll try and surmise what he said. Above all and most importantly, he said that the North Koreans have not identified the North Korean man as Kim Jong-nam, the half-brother of Kim Jong-un.

He said that they have identified him purely as Kim Choi, as his passport says, which is what Malaysian police said but not what the deputy prime minister of Malaysia said on a press conference on Thursday. He said that the North Korean embassy officials who had spent the day at the mortuary in front of us actually on Wednesday had to identify him as Kim Jong-nam. This gets more and more intriguing. This is what else the North Korean ambassador had to say earlier right here. Take a listen.


KANG CHOI, NORTH KOREAN AMBASSADOR TO Malaysia: If the death of the difficulties are named to Kim Jong is not a natural one, and he is murdered as alleged by Malaysian side, the latter should be fully responsible for the murder of our citizen in Malaysia.

We have the rights to request for the full investigation result as the victim's aside, particularly there is an allegation that the arrested female suspects murdered him by poison needles, South Korean media or by rubbing chemicals in the face. We demand for the meeting with such female suspect to review the truths.


[03:25:02] MOHSIN: The North Korean ambassador also said that the request for DNA, a DNA sample to identify the body is preposterous and without precedent. He said that the police here are politicizing the issue and colluding with South Korea and said we cannot trust the investigation. Rosemary, George?

CHURCH: All right. It's going to be interesting to see the next stage of this. Saima Mohsin, bringing us up to date on the diplomatic, the souring diplomatic relations there between Malaysia and North Korea.

It is nearly 4.300 in the afternoon there. Many thanks to you, Saima. HOWELL: North Korea also getting some harsh economic news that actually might have a bright spot for that nation. China says that it's cutting off all imports of North Korean coal for the rest of the year. This move keeping with the U.N. Security Council resolution against the North's nuclear program.

CHURCH: CNN's Will Ripley is in North Korea's capital Pyongyang and he tells us what would normally be a grim development for the country might benefit many North Koreans.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The news out of China that they won't be buying anymore North Korean coal for the rest of the year is certainly a blow to this country's government because selling coal to China is one of the main ways that North Korea generates hard cash, currency, currency that pays for things like their nuclear program and their missile program.

But here on the streets of Pyongyang there may be a silver lining to this announcement. Because over the past year, since coal exports have been restricted, people have more electricity. In the morning when they are getting ready for work, in the evening when they're cooking dinner or with their families.

If you look at the Pyongyang skyline now versus a year or two ago you see a lot more lights on than you did before. And so, the fact that there's more coal being kept inside the country may actually be a good thing in regard to the people's living standards here.

I spoke with North Korean economist Ri Gi Song who says China accounts for 70 percent of North Korean trade. But he says the suspension of coal exports will not have a dramatic effect on life here in North Korea.


RI GO SONG, NORTH KOREAN ECONOMIST (through translator): The Sanctions are not slowing down on nuclear and missile developments. We are going faster, we are increasing our national defense with nuclear at the coal.


RIPLEY: Ri and other North Korean economist say this country has lived under heavy sanctions for decades, and yet slow economic growth has continued. You look at the people on the streets of Pyongyang they have new clothing, they're carrying smart phones, their living standards are improving.

The question moving forward, is this growth sustainable as the economic news continues to tighten. But officials here in North Korea says nothing will stop them from developing their missile and their nuclear programs.

Will Ripley, CNN, Pyongyang, North Korea.

HOWELL: Will Ripley, thank you so much. U.S. senators are taking the first steps for an investigation into

Russia's allege role in the U.S. election. How the Trump administration is responding, next.

CHURCH: Plus, how eastern Ukraine is responding to a new ceasefire. It was announced by Russia but some skeptic wonder if it can hold. We'll be back in a moment with that.


CHURCH: A warm welcome back to our viewers here in the United States, and of course, all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church.

HOWELL: And I'm George Howell. You are watching CNN Newsroom. It is good to have you with us.

The headlines we're following for you this hour.

The critics are questioning how U.S. President Donald Trump gets his investigation. Mr. Trump defended his travel ban by falsely claiming that there had been an incident in Sweden Friday night. Trump later clarified he was actually referencing a Fox News TV segment here in the United States. That segment critical of immigrants in Sweden.

CHURCH: U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis is now in Iraq as the battle to drive ISIS from western Mosul rages on. That area is ISIS' last stronghold in the country. Federal police say on day one of the offensive they killed 79 ISIS fighters, destroyed weapon's facilities, and retook 10 villages.

HOWELL: I want to show you some dramatic video here. It shows an explosion near a bullfighting ring in the Columbian capital. At least a dozen suspects are in custody from this. Police in Bogota say 31 people were wounded in Sunday's blast. Ten of them were police officers.

Bull fighting has only returned to Bogota after being effectively banned since 2012.

In the United States, senators are asking the Trump administration to save any records on contacts with Russia. They're hoping to use those documents in a possible investigation.

CHURCH: President Trump denies Russia intervened in the U.S. election on his behalf.

Our Ryan Nobles has more from Washington.

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is a significant development. The Senate intelligence committee sending more than a dozen letters to agencies, organizations, and individuals connected to the Trump administration telling them to preserve related to Russia.

It is among the clearest sign yet that there will be an extensive bipartisan investigation into the Russian government's attempt to interfere in the recent presidential election. The mood comes after a private briefing of republican and democratic members of Congress by FBI Director James Comey.

It was after that meeting which remains a secret that republican Senator Marco Rubio tweeted confidence that there would be a bipartisan probe into the issue.

Now up until now, the Senate intelligence chair Richard Burr of North Carolina has been reluctant to take that step despite being pushed by ranking democrat Mark Warner of Virginia.

The White House did not deny that the letters had been sent but pushed back on the idea that it was a big deal saying that just because the records were requested doesn't mean they will reveal anything.

The president himself has forcefully defended the validity of his election win and has worked hard to downplay any attempt or suggestion that Russia intervened on his behalf.

Ryan Nobles, CNN, Washington.

HOWELL: Ryan Nobles, thank you for the report.

Donald Trump's relationship with Russia may be turning cold now. Some of his -- the people in his administration have spoken out against Russia.

CHURCH: Early on I spoke with the director of the Center of Politics of the University of Virginia about Trump's rocky relationship with Russia.


LARRY SABATO, VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY CENTER FOR POLITICS DIRECTOR: President Trump is right on the edge of having the worst on both worlds. On the one hand that he had been trying apparently for a reset with Russia. And as you point out, Russians have been very concerned by some of the things that not just Mr. Trump but others in his administration have been saying in the firing of General Flynn.

[03:34:57] Well, it's also true that he does want better relations with Russia and yet, because of all these controversies he may not be able to get it.

So, it's a difficult situation. It's hard for Americans to interpret. And there is going to be a major investigation of General Flynn and other contacts that Trump campaign in government may have had with Russia over the past year or so.


CHURCH: Larry Sabato talking to me a little earlier.

Well, a new ceasefire for eastern Ukraine was due to take effect at midnight local time, and as in effect now. The region has seen a spike in violence in recent months between Russian backed separatist and Ukrainian armed forces. And the president of Ukraine has been talking tough about Vladimir Putin's latest moves. CNN's Clare Sebastian is live in Moscow, joins us now. And Clare, we discuss last hour. This ceasefire, ceasefires in the past have failed before on eastern Ukraine. So why should this be any different?

CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Rosemary, this is something we've seen many times over. It was in fact two years ago this month that Russia and Ukraine along with France and Germany the so-called Normandy format of county signed the Minsk peace agreement. And since then they haven't been able to fully implement it.

We've seen a spike in violence constantly. This latest one over the last few weeks was particularly serious. But as to how this currently as far is going we are about 10 and a half hours in there. We heard in the last couple of the hours from the head of the OSCE, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe from them monitoring mission in eastern Ukraine.

This is what he told us about how it's going.


ALEXANDER HUG, SECTION HEAD, OSCE SPECIAL MONITORING MISSION TO UKRAINE: The OSCE special monitoring mission still the large numbers of ceasefire on elections. This weekend alone, in particular to the region we have counted almost 200,000 violations of ceasefire.

And however, it is also to know that since midnight that it has been significant review and we've only seen until now small arms firing on the (Inaudible) about this promising. However, heavy weapons remain on both sides of the complex areas where there shouldn't be in positions of Ukraine armed forces than people on the other side are partly close to one another. Ingredients for further flare up.


SEBASTIAN: Ingredients for further flare up there, Rosemary. And there are ingredients for further flare ups in the political sphere as well. Because on the same day that this ceasefire was agreed President Putin also signed an executive order in Russia ordering the country to recognize the passports and other documents of Ukrainians in the separatist regions, Donetsk and Luhansk.

Now that sparks alarm in Ukraine. President Poroshenko saying this is a violation of international law that it further evidence of Russian occupation in Ukraine, and it also sparks consternation from the U.S. embassy in Kiev.

They tweeted the following, "The recognition of Russia -- by Russia are documents of the separatist republic is alarming and contradicts of the goals of the Minsk agreement.

So, we have a very volatile situation here, Rosemary, as you say where the ceasefire has started that even before that the two sides were blaming each other for violating its terms and spirits. And I think, you know, there is a lot of stakes for those on the ground in eastern Ukraine who have been endured so much violence over the next few years.

CHURCH: Indeed, a lot of concern indeed. And there is some speculation too that the spike in violence in eastern Ukraine and indeed this new ceasefire are believed to be a test for the new U.S. administration of President Trump. Is there any evidence to support that?

SEBASTIAN: Well, I mean, certainly the timing was very interesting the day the spike in violence began the day after the first phone call between Presidents Trump and Putin.

Russia for its part has blamed Ukraine for spiking -- for sparking this latest round of violence in order to carry favor with the new U.S. administration.

But certainly it's been interesting we've seen the stance of this new administration in the U.S. harden towards Russia over the Ukraine issue in the past few weeks. A stark contrast to comment we heard from President Trump on the campaign trail saying, you know, he want a closer ties with Russia. He might even consider recognizing Crimea.

Now we have Vice President Mike Pence at the Munich security conference over the weekend saying Russia needs to be held to account in Ukraine. And we're seeing a level of defiance here in Russia from certain politicians, one in particular, Aleksey Puskov tweeting over the weekend that, you know, the recognition of these documents from Donetsk and Luhansk is Russia letting it be understood that putting pressure on it on the Ukraine issue, for example, with the speech from Mike Pence, will not yield results.

So, this is a key sticking point in that relationship still, in the relationship between Russia and the U.S. And I think there are still some distance between the two sides. Certainly is asserting itself in that area.

CHURCH: All right, 11.40 in the morning there in Moscow. Many thanks to Clare Sebastian for joining us with that live report. I appreciate it.

[03:40:00] And coming up, a ruin in remote Scotland.

HOWELL: It became a hub for human trafficking. We'll have more on that story as CNN Newsroom continues.


HOWELL: All this week the CNN Freedom Project is looking at stories of human trafficking in places that most might not expect to find it. But today's segment shines a light on 12 Bangladeshi men who were traffic to a remote part of Scotland.

CHURCH: They were forced to work 22 hours a day in a hotel with no pay for months on end. Now they're free but don't expect a happy ending here.

Isa Soares explains. ISA SOARES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The snowcapped mountains in up where

Scotland attracts hundreds of tourists every year. Up until a couple of years ago many would have stayed at the 37 bedroom Shiva hotel which now lies in ruins and its former owner Shamsul Arefin serving three-year prison sentence for labor trafficking.

Local charity worker Jim Laird remembers when he first learned the case.


JIM LAIRD, CHARITY WORKER: Interest came to my attention in 2010, then (Inaudible) they had been clearly but offer for a labor exploitation, they clearly been victims of human trafficking. The rocky condition was very poor. They (Inaudible) wanted to come here to the owner of the hotel. They would be paid properly. They would be employed to do the job that they had contracted for.

They were working really long hours, sometimes up to 22 hours a day and were forced to do call of the work that was involved on that hotel and not just be chefs which is what they were order to do.


[03:45:02] SOARES: Abdul Azad was a chef with his family's business back home in Dacca, Bangladesh but was attracted by an advert in the local paper advertising chef work in the U.K.


ABDUL AZAD, HUMAN TRAFFICKING VICTIM: This is my fool way. Why did I fall in this trap? By this is -- I am the greedy man because of the more money. I don't know, actually no. Because I want to do it. You know, the better life. Every human being wants this one. My country condition everybody knows.


SOARES: Once the man realize the reality of the work was very different to what they've been promised, they felt bound to the employer Mr. Arefin having paid him thousands of dollars for sponsorship visas.


AZAD: How can Arefin used us, why and how. Because he has the power, he has the sponsors in place, then he can do anything. And he has always shows us this, if you don't do this I can cancel and you have to work. And even maybe illegal so police will arrest you.

So, we don't shout of, we said nothing. Ok. Because he has a sponsor. Just like a master. He's a master we have to say. No?


SOARES: After a year of labor abuse, Azad and three of the other victims found help at a local charity,(Inaudible) who put the man in charge with the migrant right NGO where Jim laird was working at that time.


LAIRD: And there was probably a dozen men in total involved but there was only four of them who had agreed to come and be supported by Migrant Help and then also to go to the police and have the case prosecuted.


SOARES: The trafficked men said they were able to stay on short-term temporary work visas after agreeing to testify as witnesses in the criminal investigation into Arefin. That they now face deportation back to Bangladesh.

Despite Arefin's imprisonment Azad said he still feel that his life would be under threat if he return home.


AZAD: You can ask me the question.

LAIRD: Why not leave this country and why not go to your home country?

AZAD: Yes, I can go back. Yes, and then I can go back and maybe one or two months you can find my dead body.


SOARES: In response to the story the home office said they do not routinely comment on individual cases and issued the statement on the men's possible deportation. The U.K. has a proud history of providing protection to those who need it. Anyone who feels that they will be at threat by returning to their home country is able to apply for asylum. Each claim is carefully considered on its individual merits.

Azad and his former colleagues are negotiating this appeal to remain in the U.K. and to bring their families over to them.


AZAD: You know that my son is growing up without me. So, this is no life. It's no life. And he had a dream also. He wanted to come with me and join with me, join and play with the snow.


SOARES: Isa Soares, CNN, Scotland.

HOWELL: Isa, thank you. Tuesday the CNN Freedom Project will introduce you to a trafficking victim in Hong Kong and the shocking reality that he and others like him are facing. "My boss has treated me worse than an animal. It was physical torture,

mental torture. I worked for 24 hours a day," he says. He didn't exactly fall through the crack in a system. Civil right attorney Patricia Ho argues here there is no system. Hong Kong has no specific laws criminalizing force labor or human trafficking.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Even Kazakhstan, the Philippines, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan they all have human trafficking enforcing the laws.

CHURCH: To see what's being done to change the system Tuesday on the CNN Freedom Project. CNN is teaming up with young people all around the globe for a unique student-led day of action against modern day slavery with the launch of My Freedom Day on March 14. Driving my Freedom Day is a simple question. What does freedom mean to you?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm Quincy Jones (Ph). And to me the meaning of freedom is the life unhindered by the unfair restrictions that society creates.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For me freedom means that I'm able to provide for my family.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For me freedom means the ability to make you own choices.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Freedom to me means do what is most convenient.


HOWELL: Send your answers via text, photo or video across social media using the My Freedom Day hash tag.

CHURCH: And coming up, Southern California recovers after a deadly storm, how floods could still threaten other parts of the state. That's still to come. Stay with us.


HOWELL: We are following some severe weather playing out in central Texas this hour.

CHURCH: Yes. And our meteorologist Derek Van Dam is keeping a very close eye on this. He joins us now. Derek, what's happening?

DEREK VAN DAM, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes. Rosie and George, this is new information to CNN coming in from the National Weather Service. The potential of a tornado that looks or appears to have damaged 40 homes in and around the Greater San Antonio region.

This is the radar over the past three hours across San Antonio. Certainly a line of thunderstorms progressed eastward across the city. Again, within the past couple of hours, difficult to say exactly the moment when this potential tornado struck. But something we're going to continue to monitor and pass along information to you at home as soon as we know a bit more.

But again, this is coming from the national Weather Service the potential for what was a damage to upwards of 40 homes in and around San Antonio because of a tornado.

Now that is not the only major weather story that we are covering here in the CNN World Weather Center. We are seeing the potential for a major flooding event across central and northern California.

[03:55:00] So, extremely active across the United States to say the least. While the nature turning the top of in southern California letting the rains dry up in Los Angeles, Ventura, in Santa Barbara region.

But turning on the faucet, once again for central and northern California today, and into the day on Tuesday. We have yet another atmospheric river event taking place. This is narrow corridor of highly concentrated moisture in the upper levels of the atmosphere that is just taking aim at central and northern portions of the state. And this is going to produce a significant amount of rainfall and the potential for extensive flooding.

In fact, the National Weather Service using strong wording in their discussions today that residents across central and northern California need to be prepared to evacuate their home within 15 minutes or less. That it has the potential to see flooding that has not occurred in years, if not decades across this area.

So, lots to talk about, lots to cover and lots to monitor going forward over the next several days here, Rosie and George. It's going to be a very active period in California and now in Texas. Back to you.

CHURCH: We appreciate it. Thanks so much, Derek.

HOWELL: Thanks, Derek.

CHURCH: And thank you to you for joining us. I'm Rosemary Church.

HOWELL: And I'm George Howell. Early Start is next for viewers here in the United States.

CHURCH: And for everyone else, stay tuned for more news with our colleague Max Foster, live from outside Abingdon Green in London.

Have a great day.