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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Disturbing Videos Out Of Bucha Emerge; Russia Claims Ukraine Is Behind Strike On Russian Fuel Depot; Ukrainian Minister Says 6,266 People Evacuated From Ukrainian Cities Friday; Director Of IAEA Headed To Chernobyl After Ukrainian Officials Warn Russians May Have Been Exposed To Radiation; Mariupol Survivor: Recent Escapees Said They Saw Dead Bodies Every Day And Everywhere In Mariupol; White House Diarist Tells Select Committee Of Significant Drop Off In Information On Trump Activities Ahead Of 1/6. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired April 01, 2022 - 20:00   ET


ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Now, I want to say that while today's report is important, it is just one step. There are still nearly a million fewer women working now than in February of 2020 right before the pandemic hit. That's according to the National Women's Law Center. There's a long way to go.

Thanks for joining us. AC 360 starts now.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: Good evening from Ukraine.

We have some new video we want to show you, it is disturbing, but as we point out on this broadcast, these sorts of images are necessary to show in order to emphasize the horror of this war.

This is from the town of Bucha, it's just outside Kyiv, the capital. It was recently liberated, part of Ukrainians counterattack. Now, it's unclear if the bodies you see on the ground there are military or civilians. However, it is clear from the video, one of them was killed while riding a bike. Brutal images.

We're going to discuss Bucha in greater detail a little later in the show.

Also tonight, it is possible we have reached a pivotal moment in a war that until now, and like the image you just saw has been fought exclusively on Ukrainian soil. What is notable even unusual is that the reports of an attack miles within the Russian borders are coming from the Russians themselves.

I'm John Berman in for Anderson.

It is a reversal in roles to be sure, the Russians are suddenly admitting to a surprising and seemingly successful attack against a Russian fuel depot. Meanwhile, the Ukrainians typically vocal about their own successes are relatively quiet, not to mention a bit cryptic about what happened. Beyond this case, there are new examples of apparently successful operations by Ukrainian forces. New satellite photos from Maxar Technologies tonight confirm the Pentagon estimation that the Russian military has likely left an airport outside Kyiv. The capture of this airport back in February was one of the first big victories of the war by the Russians.

These images come to us a day after the mayor of a town also outside the capital says they have been liberated from the Russians. Still, we can't stress enough that the Russian missile strikes continue to exact a deadly toll here.

One official in the northern city of Chernihiv told me a hospital there was hit and the people are suffering.


MAYOR VLADYSLAV ATROSHENKO, CHERNIHIV, UKRAINE: We have no electricity, no water. The Russian forces just shelled a local regional hospital.


BERMAN: That was the Mayor of Chernihiv. This is new video from that area that shows the sheer amount of destruction that occurred before Ukrainians were able to retake it. Also of concern tonight, the humanitarian crisis in the south of the country with the Red Cross unable to get inside the besieged City of Mariupol, and only a few thousand civilians able to get out today.

As we do every night here on CNN, we have reporters across Ukraine, as well as at the White House to bring us all the latest on these stories. We want to start with the humanitarian crisis and Ivan Watson.

Ivan, the Ukrainian government says that about 771 people just from Mariupol arrived in Zaporizhzhia tonight, you were there when they arrived. What was that moment like?

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Right, well, it should have been in normal times, maybe a two and a half hour to three hour trip from the Russian-occupied city of Berdyansk to Zaporizhzhia, which is where I am, controlled by the Ukrainians. Instead, it took closer to 11 to 12 hours for these people to get out, to get here.

Many of these people had fled Mariupol, fled the siege there and found that trying to get out of Russian-occupied territory is not an easy thing to do.


WATSON: The Ukrainian authorities are here waiting, police checking the documents of the new arrivals. There is a war very much underway, a deadly war, and serious National Security threats.

After people are processed here, there is a major volunteer and city government effort to welcome the newly arrived evacuees and to give them temporary shelter, warm meals. People are tired. There are little kids who have been on this bus, I would estimate for at least 11 hours. Little kids who have witnessed a modern-day siege and perhaps the destruction of their homes and explosion, in just a terrible environment.

Now, the International Committee of the Red Cross is trying to reach the City of Mariupol itself and failed, said it was not allowed, permitted to go through. There are still believed to be about a hundred thousand or more citizens, civilians of Mariupol still trapped there in the combat zone, as well as a force of Ukrainian troops that are still holding out against the vastly larger number of Russian military forces that have encircled the city and besieged it for weeks now.


So while this is a glimmer of hope, after many failed attempts to evacuate civilians, there is still a lot of work to be done to protect the people still trapped in the combat zone.

These are some of hundreds, if not thousands of exhausted Ukrainian civilians who have just been evacuated after an incredibly long journey by bus from Russian-occupied territory and from the combat zone around the City of Mariupol.

So you have dozens and dozens of buses, which left the Russian- occupied city of Berdyansk at around noon, and it wasn't until around 11:00 PM that they finally reached Zaporizhzhia, which is supposed to be only about normally two and a half hours drive away.

So what's going on right now is after a very difficult journey, people who have endured weeks of artillery bombardment and airstrikes in their home city, and fled it, had not been allowed to travel further, they have finally been brought here to Ukrainian-controlled territory.

For some people here, this is a family reunion.


BERMAN: Ivan, what a scene. The reunion between that young girl and her grandmother. What's next for that family?

WATSON: Well, number one, they are together because they've been separated for -- the little girl had been stuck in Russian occupied Berdyansk for eight days waiting to try to get out on one of these buses.

The whole family is going to go to Western Ukraine to where you are, to Lviv, and there, the grandmother said that they're going to try to reassess. They may try to go to Germany. Their homes, livelihood, all of that has been destroyed as most of Mariupol.

BERMAN: So many lives. Ivan, stay right there.

I want to bring in Christiane Amanpour, in Kyiv, and at the White House, Kaitlan Collins.

Christiane, I want to start with you in that video, we just got a look at, at the top of the program from Bucha. This is just to the northwest of Kyiv. What do you know about what's happening there?

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Well, look, it is hard to know exactly. I have not been up to Bucha, but I and other colleagues have been up to other towns and cities that had been, you know, fiercely contested and there is a lot of the detritus of war, sorry to say whether it's vehicles, armored vehicles, tanks, or even civilians, even soldiers.

And what we do know from my conversation with the Ukrainian Foreign Minister today, around Kyiv, the Ukrainian forces are gradually pushing the Russians away from some of these areas that they had fiercely contested; in some cases, you know, had controlled most or all of these places, and they are pushing them back.

But he told me, you know, the Russians are not moving back, you know, to regroup because they want to or because of any goodwill as the Kremlin claimed around talks that because the Ukrainians have forced them to regroup and rethink.

Now, on that issue also that you were talking about, the fuel depot. I also talked to the Foreign Minister about it. Here, they have not confirmed or denied it, but this is what the Foreign Minister told me.


DMYTRO KULEBA, UKRAINIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: I saw the video, but the quality is insufficient for me to identify whether it was Ukrainian helicopters or not.

I'm Ukrainian. I have trust in the people of Ukraine and in our Armed Forces, and of course, as Foreign Minister now, diplomacy.

This is a war. They attacked us to destroy us. They reject our right to exist as a nation. So, it means that we will be fighting back by all means available to us within existing law -- the international laws of warfare, of course, because we're a civilized nation, unlike them.


AMANPOUR: And, John, it is likely due to operational security, they won't confirm or deny their part in that attack on the fuel depot just across the border.

BERMAN: Yes, that really did seem intentionally cryptic. You know, Kaitlan, it's obviously still unclear what happened in Belgorod, but how concerned is the White House about the impact it could have on diplomatic efforts?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, you saw this claim from the Russians that this attack which they are alleging, of course, was done by the Ukrainians, which as you just heard from Christiane's interview there, they're not confirming, the White House isn't confirming but the Russians are claiming that this attack could hinder these attempted peace talks that have been ongoing for weeks, sometimes virtual, sometimes in-person, and the Russians seem to suggest that the idea of this attack could maybe thwart those talks.


And the White House is pushing back very strongly on that notion that anything like this, if the Ukrainians did conduct this attack could actually interfere because they are pointing out why this is happening, that Putin is the aggressor here, he is the one who started this invasion, so they are pushing back very aggressively on this notion that it is going to interrupt whether or not these peace talks will ultimately be successful or not.

BERMAN: Yes, I mean, it's worth noting that the Russians have hit fuel depots all over Ukraine, including one right behind me. They hit civilian targets where civilians live all over Ukraine.

Ivan, what did the people you spoke with tell you about what they left behind?

WATSON: Everything, their homes, their communities; their, in some cases, relatives who were not able to escape, and they come with perhaps a bag or two, or a cat or a dog that they managed to escape with. But they've left a life behind.

The grandmother that we talked about before, she said that she dreams of one day going back to Mariupol, that it should be built again, and that there should be monuments to all of the innocent civilians who have been killed there in the last month.

I asked, well, what happens if the Russians take over that city? And she said, I can't go back to live under the Russians.

BERMAN: We have heard awful tales of what's been happening to some people in some areas once the Russians take over.

Christiane, you mentioned your conversation with the Ukrainian Foreign Minister and about the fact that he says that the Russian troops are being moved in some cases. What else did he have to say about the idea of these counteroffensives around the country?

AMANPOUR: Yes, I mean, he said that, you know, they think and he used the word, low hanging fruit, they think, I think a lot like U.S. Intelligence and the Pentagon believes that these forces, if they are moving back and some are going to Belarus, regrouping, maybe being refitted, resupplied and then redirected. And what we're seeing is that certainly the beginnings of a major redirection towards Donbas, which the Foreign Minister confirmed.

Now that, of course, as we all know, is that Eastern part, part of which the Russians invaded in 2014, and occupied ever since, and it looks like that is what they're going to be focusing on, but they are also very likely to keep harassing and trying to pin down any kind of, you know, Ukrainians in other parts, like, even here, there have been some missiles, it wasn't today, but it was yesterday, even as they were conducting these new operations.

So it's not as if the threat to the rest of the country is over, while they try to, you know, to try to get and hold territory on the east and we'll see -- we'll see what happens.

BERMAN: So Kaitlan, according to the regional military governor in Odessa, the region there was struck today by three missiles. What are you learning about how the White House is helping provide the Ukrainians with coastal defense systems? Obviously, Odessa, that beautiful port city on the Black Sea.

COLLINS: Yes, that of course, the Russians want so badly, and this has been something that President Zelenskyy has asked for, they want these coastal defense systems. And the White House didn't bring this up today unprompted, saying that they are working with allies to try to get them those.

So it seems that they are making some progress behind the scenes. So there is no announcement yet that they've actually delivered those. And of course, there was a big conversation happening in the United Kingdom yesterday about getting them these systems. It's not just the United States. They'd be working in tandem with allies to get them the systems.

But we've seen the difficulty that the Ukrainians have faced and being successful in their requests for this, John, just with tanks, with these anti-aircraft systems that President Zelenskyy has asked for, including fighter jets that he says that they still need that have -- those requests have gone unanswered and this is another thing that he has requested.

And so I think that's a big question of the timing here of when they actually get this because, obviously, it's a lot more difficult to get the Ukrainians the assistance that allies including the United States are promising them, though they do say it is still actually going into Ukraine.

And so they don't appear to have gotten these coastal defense systems yet, but the White House says they are working on it with allies, though those requests for those anti-air -- those air defense systems still have gone unanswered so far.

BERMAN: It is interesting, John Kirby told me the other day, no examples of the Russians disrupting the flow of weapons systems coming in to the country at all yet. So once the United States and NATO tries to send stuff in, it does get here.

Ivan, I know you said there's a huge volunteer effort welcoming the refugees and those images of the people arriving there in those buses is just so dramatic, but what happens after that? Do these people know where they're going?


WATSON: Not necessarily because again, people's lives have been ripped out from under them, so there is a kind of adjustment and a reconfiguring. So I've seen -- and also the people that are fleeing these cities that are the battlegrounds, they join this flow of humanity that is surging across Ukraine since the Russians launched their invasion on February 24th, in your direction, John, on the western border there, and then into Europe.

This is this is just more than four million people from Ukraine have fled across the borders, and there are many millions more that are displaced here within Ukraine. Some people will perhaps go to the next city up, it's called Dnipro and I've met some of the Mariupol evacuees that have tried to find apartments and try to start rebuilding their lives while the war is still raging in other parts of the country.

So it's just a massive, massive moment where people who perhaps never dreamt of leaving their hometowns are suddenly having to consider, it is now being forced on them.

BERMAN: And that they might never get back. Christiane, obviously, there's been a fascination with the mindset of Vladimir Putin because it is within that mind that there is all of this suffering. What's the latest on the notion of whether there are people telling him the truth?

AMANPOUR: Well, I did actually speak to the German Foreign Minister as well today, and as you know, the Germans have really stepped up, not only reversing their decades' long Post War Defense Policy, but even today, additionally, they have sent or they've announced they're sending 56 more very sophisticated tanks to Ukraine.

On the issue of Putin, I asked, so is your Chancellor say to him when he talks to him? And how can he be so misinformed about what's going on? And she said, well, he has isolated himself, President Putin, my Chancellor, the President of France, they do talk to him, they do explain to him what's happening on the battlefield, which is why they should, you know, have a speedy negotiated settlement.

But you know, I've also heard from other officials whose leaders have been in touch with Putin that he is still absolutely convinced, or at least that's what he says to them, that places like Mariupol are full of extremists and terrorists. That is what he keeps telling even international interlocutors.

We also understand from the U.S. that -- and you can see it on the ground playing out -- that the rules or rather the commands to the forces on the ground are not necessarily coming from an on-the-ground overall Battle Commander. They have not been able to identify one, the U.S. or the other allied intelligence.

So it seems that all the commands are coming from Moscow Central, which is a very inefficient way of getting, you know, orders to your forces and it does not allow for any thought or adaptation to what you're actually seeing on the ground.

BERMAN: Christiane, Ivan, Kaitlan, thank you so much to all of you and for all of your reporting.

Coming up, we're going to discuss that video from the town of Bucha we showed you earlier in the broadcast. Again, we warn you, it is disturbing.

It is our first look at another town recently liberated, the bodies you see maybe civilians, military, or both. There's just a lot about the story we don't know yet. We'll get perspective from two retired U.S. Generals about what to make of it, as well as the apparent successes of the Ukrainian counterattacks. Plus, more on that fuel depot attack.

And later we'll talk with someone who managed to escape from Mariupol who has previously called the conditions inside that city, "hell."



BERMAN: We want to show you that new video from the town of Bucha outside the capital, it is disturbing. It does show human bodies. We don't know if these bodies are civilians or military, Ukrainian or Russian. We do know that one of the bodies appears to be on a bicycle.

Bucha was recently liberated by Ukrainian forces. It's an example of Ukraine's apparently successful counter attack.

There is also another attack we want to discuss, we mentioned it earlier as well. It's what the Russians are calling an attack on their soil by the Ukrainians, if it was the Ukrainians who attacked this fuel depot, it would mark a dramatic turning point in a war that until now has been fought exclusively on Ukrainian territory.

However, CNN cannot confirm Russia's allegations, and Ukraine is being cryptic saying it will quote, "neither confirm nor deny these accusations." There is of course video of not only these explosions, but of two helicopters flying over the city. It's unknown whether these are Ukrainian helicopters.

I'm joined now by retired Major General Dana Pittard, a CNN military analyst and author of "Hunting the Caliphate: America's War on ISIS in the Dawn of the Strike Cell," and retired Brigadier General Peter Zwack, a former U.S. Defense Attache to Russia, who was in Belgorod, the site of the attack during the first Russian invasion in 2014.

General Pittard, I just want to start with the video, this awful video from Bucha, we see bodies scattered all over the road. What do you see in this as someone familiar with conflict?

MAJ. GEN. DANA PITTARD (RET), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: What I see is, is the face of war, which is, it is ugly, it is terrible. Human lives are taken, whether it's the combatants or civilians. It's awful and that's a depiction of that.

BERMAN: And General Zwack, whack, what does it tell you about the kind of war the Russians are waging?


BRIG. GEN. PETER ZWACK (RET), U.S. ARMY: Well, this is turning into an increasingly savage conflict again that the Russians invaded. They are hazard, but I guess, it looks like if I -- you know, speculation it looks to me like a retreating Russian column vehicles and possibly soldiers or National Guard or ill-disciplined taking potshots at Ukrainians as they're driving. That would be my view looking at it. But it's horrific.

And as General Pittard said, these are the horrors of war, especially really -- you know, this is an inflight and in a horrific way between Slavic nations.

BERMAN: A war no one in this country in Ukraine asked for. This was a country that was invaded. So the horror you're seeing on the streets, they're inflicted on them.

General Pittard, we show the video the Russian say is the strike inside Russian boundaries. They say it was Ukrainian strike on a fuel depot. Do you think it was likely the Ukrainians that did this?

PITTARD: Actually, I think it was likely the Ukrainians who did it with what looks like two Hein aircraft helicopters MI-24 attack helicopters, they use map of the Earth tactics probably to get there to evade Russian radar, and then they attacked.

They attacked a legitimate target. It's a fuel depot. But even more than that, it's really the first attack on Russian soil from another nation since World War Two, you know, outside of terrorist attacks for the first time since World War Two, that's nearly 77 years. So larger than the impact of the raid itself will be the psychological impact on the fact that it was on Russian soil, almost akin to the Doolittle Raid on Tokyo in 1942.

BERMAN: General Zwack, what about that? If this was the Ukrainians, what about the fact that they could pull this off?

ZWACK: And I love the Jimmy Doolittle analogy right after Pearl Harbor and in a micro way, it has that, because this is also about not just sending a message to the Russians, but also motivating the Ukrainians that they can strike back and Belgorod is just over the border. And if Russian troops are either coming in, you know more troops from the east or their shunting from around Kyiv, many of them have got to go through Belgorod to get at Eastern Ukraine, the Donbas.

I was in Belgorod in April or May of 2014 during the first build up to the invasion, and it was a major Russian marshalling yard. I was there as a Defense Attache. And yes, there were a lot of forces there back then. And then we read about how they went in with Eastern Donbas proxies and you had that awful eight-year war as a result that was after the illegal annexation of Crimea.

So, it's all there. Belgorod is a railway. You look at a map it is a railway -- railhead road junction and things could be coming in and the fact that that fuel depot is there makes perfect sense as a military target and when we were there, eight years ago, the place was full of Russian military and aviation shunting through.

BERMAN: I'm glad you pointed out, it is military target. There's no equivalence here. If the Ukrainians did do this, there is just no equivalence. The Russians are hitting civilian targets as well as military targets but civilian targets all over Ukraine -- hospitals, hotels, residences, theaters, where people are sheltering, not to mention fuel depots everywhere.

So like I said, no equivalents, but General Pittard, do you think that the Russians would use this as some predicate for reprisals?

PITTARD: Well, it's difficult to see what the Russians will do as far as even more savagery. The fact that they invaded a sovereign nation, so I am not sure what they would do as far as reprisals. But it's time for not just Ukraine to take the initiative. But for NATO and the U.S. to take the initiative.

What we keep doing is reacting to Putin. We must make Putin react to us and there's a number of things that we could be doing, whether it's having the equivalent of the Berlin Airlift and bringing in more military supplies, ammunition, and weapons or designating Western Ukraine as a humanitarian assistance zone, all the way from west of Kyiv all the way down south to Odessa, which would require NATO troops to enforce that, but there are very few Russian troops there on the ground.

Also for a no-fly zone over Western Ukraine, over that humanitarian assistance zone. And there are other things we can do also, but we need to take the strategic initiative to make Russia and Putin react to us, instead of the opposite.


BERMAN: General Pittard, General Zwack, thank you so much. A pleasure to speak with both of you tonight.

ZWACK: Thank you, John.

BERMAN: The director of Chernobyl Nuclear Plant claims Russian soldiers could have been exposed to radiation when they were near the plant and tanks kicked up thick dust. We're going to speak about this with a nuclear expert and get his take, next.


BERMAN: Another concern tonight here in Ukraine is the status of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant as well as the Russian troops who withdrew from the area.

The Ukrainian director of the plant says it's impossible to determine if the levels of radiation to which the Russians were exposed, they say, it's impossible to tell if they were exposed.

If it were, it may have been due to dust kicked up by passing vehicles. He also suggested they may have received significant exposure when digging into to what is known as the Red Forst nearby.


Again, this is all according to the assessment of the Ukrainians.

The director of the International Atomic Energy Agency said today he will head a mission there as soon as possible.

I'm joined now by Michio Kaku, a nuclear expert and physics professor at the City University of New York.

Professor, thanks so much for being with us.

How likely is it that the Russian soldiers were exposed to dangerous levels of radiation?

MICHIO KAKU, NUCLEAR EXPERT & PHYSICS PROFESSOR, CITY UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK: Well, these are unconfirmed reports from the Ukrainian Defense Ministry and also the Ukrainian power company stating that scores of Russian soldiers, perhaps even hundreds, came down with nausea, vomiting, the first signs of radiation poisoning.

Now realize that the Red Forst is called the Red Forst for a reason. It is highly radioactive, one of the most radioactive hot spots in the Exclusion Zone, which is 18 miles in radius.

And they were digging fortifications. They were digging trenches there. Plenty of opportunity over a month to be exposed to large quantities of radiation, including radioactive dust.

And the soldiers had to be taken out and eventually shipped out to Belarus. So these are unconfirmed reports.

But because of the fact that the soldiers in this area for over a month and getting exposed to radioactive soil, the most heavily contaminated area in the Exclusion Zone, we have to take these charges very seriously.

BERMAN: Yes, I mean, the single thing you don't want to do in a contaminated area is to dig into the ground. That is honestly the most dangerous thing you can do.

What would the timetable be for symptoms for these soldiers if, in fact, they did do that?

KAKU: Well, sometimes we have radiation victims from Hiroshima, Nagasaki and also from the Los Alamos National Laboratory where radiation sickness can occur very rapidly, very soon after an enormous amount of radiation exposure.

But that requires a huge wallop. We're talking hundreds of chest x- rays to even give the faintest signs of radiation poisoning.

So this is not something which you get casually. We're talking a tremendous exposure to radiation if the stories are true.

BERMAN: As we mentioned, the head of the IAEA is going to lead a mission to Chernobyl, he says, as soon as possible.

But is there anything the IAEA or any other international group can actually do at this point to better secure Chernobyl or many of the other plants here in Ukraine?

KAKU: I think so. The troops have left Chernobyl. And realize that there are thousands -- thousands of highly radioactive spent fuel rods on site.

The accident, in some sense, is not over. The radiation is still burrowing into the soil at Chernobyl. The accident is still going on at that reactor site.

And just remember that this is unprecedented that we have not one but several nuclear power complexes in the middle of a major war where the combatants are firing at each other.

One of the largest complexes, six nuclear power plants in the Ukraine, was hit by tank fire. Think about that. A nuclear power plant, its cooling systems hit by tank fire.

This is inconceivable when we first began to design nuclear power plants.

BERMAN: Oh, I think about it a lot as I'm sitting here in Lviv.

Professor Michio Kaku, thank you so much for being with us. Appreciate your insight.

KAKU: Mm-mmm.

BERMAN: Tonight, as buses rescue refugees from Mariupol, my next guest shares how he escaped that battered city with his family.

Our live coverage from Ukraine continues.



BERMAN: All right, I'm John Berman, in Lviv, western Ukraine.

The air raid sirens are going off here in this city. It does happen from time to time here. They go off, warn people to take shelter if they can in the lower levels of their building.

And then, when they get a sense it's clear, they set the sirens off one more time to tell people they believe it's safe. This is something, needless to say, we'll be watching closely over the next few minutes.

In the meantime, as I mentioned earlier, according to a Ukrainian minister, more than 6,000 people were evacuated from Ukrainian city with nearly 800 of them originally coming from the besieged city of Mariupol.

Ivan Watson showed up those buses earlier.

This week, a spokesman for the mayor of that city said nearly 5,000 people, including 210 children, have been killed there since Russia began their assault on the city.

Our next guest is the CEO of a TV station in Mariupol. Before escaping the city two weeks ago, he described the current situations as, quote, "hell," saying that, from his window, he saw the children's hospital bombed.

Nick Osychenko joins us tonight.

Nick, first of all, how are you and your family doing right now?

NICK OSYCHENKO, CEO, MARIUPOLSKOE TV: We feel safe. We have water. We have food. We have -- I don't know, we have everything, which we don't have in Mariupol. So we are fine.

BERMAN: I want to ask you what it was like in Mariupol before you left the city. Can you describe what you saw in the final days that you were there?

OSYCHENKO: Yes. Look, it's -- to describe in one word, it was hell. Just hell.

Look, actually, for a month, right now, and as for me, it was something about two and a half weeks we lived in the Stone Age. Yes. We don't have anything.

But it was not the Stone Age because have had shellings, missiles, mines and so on, so on, so on. We saw dead bodies, saw dead children.

And it's terrible memories. And I think it will be with me for all of my life. With me, my children, with my wife, and so forth.


BERMAN: I'm so sorry that you and your family and your children will have that memory.

What was your escape like?

OSYCHENKO: It was -- ride to Zaporizhzhia is supposedly two and a half hours, but turns out it was about 15 hours, 15 hours is it's too many of Russian checkpoints.

And every checkpoint, these checking your documents, your stuff, checking your phone, your gallery, checking your fingers and so on.

BERMAN: Sounds horrible.

Are you still in touch with anyone inside Mariupol? Do you hear anything about the state of the city right now?

OSYCHENKO: Right now, there's no Internet in the city and nobody can go for the people outside.

So I speaking for people who escape. Every day, I'm meeting them right here in Zaporizhzhia and I'm talking with these people. And every next day, they telling me the biggest stories I hear, yes. So it's bigger plane, I don't know.

They saw dead bodies every day and everywhere, yes. So they saw that the bodies are buried in the yard, in the street, and it's terrible.

As they telling me about the city, about my city, which I love. I am from Donetsk, actually, escaped from Donetsk in 2014 and Mariupol became home, yes. And now I need to start life again a second time.

But people told me that the city -- there's no city, yes. No city, no buildings. There's buildings, but no safe buildings. No windows. Nothing. It's hell. Yes.

BERMAN: It sounds like it's getting worse every day.

There have been people getting out, as you said, including some buses that arrived in Zaporizhzhia, which carried people from Mariupol.

Have you been able to locate everyone who worked for you? Are they safe? Do you still hope to find them?

OSYCHENKO: Look, it's really big pain for me, yes. Before the war, I had 89 people in my TV channel. For now, when I speak with you, I am only now know 44 of my people are alive.

From this 44 people, I know that 21 escape. And before our meeting right now, I was in the hub in Zaporizhzhia and my people, two of my channel workers, yes, I met them.

It was -- I don't know, yes. So I was glad to see them. But I don't recognize them, yes.

So this, this month has really changing for people. People are getting older. People are getting -- you see it in their face, yes, you know.

And the most terrible things, it's the eyes of the kids. Kids, children became older people, yes. A little girl, she has eyes like a grandmother, yes. So she's saw so many pain this month, it really wears on her.

BERMAN: It does sound like hell.

Nick Osychenko, thank you so much for being with us. We wish you the best.

OSYCHENKO: Thank you. Thank you, guys. Thank you.


BERMAN: Coming up, breaking news out of the January 6th investigation. What a White House diarist told the House Select Committee about the former president's activities ahead of the capitol insurrection. That's next.


BERMAN: We have breaking news on the January 6th capitol insurrection investigation.

Our Paula Reid has details on testimony before the House Select Committee regarding the former president's activities leading up to that day.

Paula joins us now.

Paula, what have you learned?

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, CNN learned that just days before the capitol riot, White House officials started providing fewer details about Trump's calls and visits with those involved in White House recordkeeping.

Sources tell CNN that Trump's diarist -- that's the person it is in the National Archives, it's their job it is to collect details about the president's daily activities.

We have learned she was interviewed by the House Select Committee roughly two weeks ago.

During that interview, she described a noticeable drop off in the information provided by the Oval Office in the days leading up to the insurrection.

One source described how the White House recordkeepers appeared to be iced out during this critical time period.

One source familiar with the investigation said the last day that, quote, "normal information was sent out" was January 4th. Then, starting on the 5th, the diarist didn't receive the usual annotated calls and notes that she would have been receiving.

BERMAN: Paula, how unusual is that for a recordkeeper has been iced out, as you say, in that manner? Is there a possibility it was just business as usual for a White House that is known for less than meticulous recordkeeping?


REID: Well, it is very out of the ordinary, John. But sources close to the panel's investigation did not seem to know who, if anyone, directed a change in recordkeeping or what the motivation was behind this change.

And as you noted, as with so many things in the Trump White House, you asked this same question about whether this was intentional or just part of the general chaos and the staffing issues, particularly at that part of the administration.

BERMAN: Those specific days I think are worthy of note at a minimum.

Paula Reid, thank you for the breaking news reporting. Appreciate it.

We'll be right back.


BERMAN: Welcome back. I'm John Berman, in Lviv, in western Ukraine.

As I mentioned, the air raid sirens went off here moments ago warning people to take shelter if they can. It is the wee hours of the morning her so everyone, presumably, is sleeping at home.


The heightened level of concern, given the reports of the Ukrainian attack on Russian soil, the notion that the Russians might launch some kind of reprisal. So people watching very closely.

Stay with CNN for latest from Ukraine.