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War Crimes Prosecutor: If Putin Stays In Office, No Guarantee He Will Be Tried For War Crimes; Russia Formally Protests Against U.S. Sending Weapons To Ukraine; Chief Rabbi Of Poland: The Jewish People Have Tremendous Empathy & Sympathy For Ukrainians. Aired 9-10p ET
Aired April 15, 2022 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN HOST: The news, out of Ukraine, tonight, already sobering, took an ominous turn, with Russia issuing a veiled threat, against any additional Western military aid.
And Ukraine's President Zelenskyy, warning the world, to be ready, his words, for the possibility that Russia might use tactical or battlefield nuclear weapons, on and against his country.
But, for now, it is bad enough, what Russian forces, are already doing, to civilians, with conventional weapons.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRESIDENT VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINE (through translator): Maybe somewhere in Russia, cruelty is respected. But, in Ukraine, cruelty is despised, and punished.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: Ukraine's President, just tonight.
And there are reminders, of that cruelty, everywhere, especially, in areas, now liberated, in and around the capital, Kyiv. Liberated, but so deeply wounded, as CNN's Phil Black discovered today.
First, as is so often the case, we need to give you a warning, because what you will see, is just difficult to see.
PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The operation, to recover, and investigate Bucha's dead, is now industrial, in its scale. Teams of people, are working, to empty the town's mass grave, and many smaller ones.
The victims, of Russia's occupation, are being retrieved, from the earth. There are so many bodies. Rarely do those, doing the digging, know the stories, of how each person, lived and died.
Here, two men, are being exhumed, from the grounds, of a small church. The priest, who oversaw their first burial, didn't know them.
ABBOTT MYKOLA VOLOSYANSKIY, VORZEL CHURCH OF TRANSFIGURATION: (FOREIGN LANGUAGE).
BLACK (voice-over): He says, he thinks one was a scientist. The other, a school bus driver. He thinks, they were shot and killed, in the street.
Among the now notorious images, from Bucha's Road of Death, Yablonska Street, was this man, lying beneath his bike. His name was Vladimir Brovchenko. Svetlana is his widow.
SVETLANA BROVCHENKO, WIFE OF BUCHA VICTIM: (FOREIGN LANGUAGE).
BLACK (voice-over): She says, she told her husband, "Don't go. They're shooting. The tanks are already on Yablonska Street." But he insisted on leaving the house. She says, the 68-year-old grandfather was killed, as soon as he reached the road. His bike is still there.
And this building stands near Bucha, in the village of Vorzel. Among those killed here were Julia's parents, Natalia (ph) and Victor Mazzoha (ph). She says her mother was helping a young injured woman, who'd been discarded, by a Russian soldier, when more soldiers suddenly entered their home.
JULIA, DAUGHTER OF BUCHA VICTIMS: (FOREIGN LANGUAGE).
BLACK (voice-over): She says, "They came in. Shot the woman. Shot my mother. And then, my father ran out, when he heard something was wrong. And they shot him."
The young woman was Karina Yershova. She was 23-years-old. Karina's mother says, police told her, her daughter was raped, before she was shot.
It's more than two weeks, since the Russians withdrew. And the operation, to account for all the bodies, they left behind, isn't finished. Mourning each victim, remembering how they lived, understanding why they died, will take much longer.
SCIUTTO: Phil, thank you for that story. Those are difficult stories, to record. Just, to watch them, in-person, has got to be gut- wrenching. And my gratitude, I'm sure, people watching, gratitude, to your team.
The numbers are staggering. Putting faces to those names makes it heartbreaking. The next challenge is identifying them. And I wonder how investigators and local officials do that. Are they asking the public for help?
BLACK: They are, in a way, yes, Jim. And it is a huge logistical challenge. It is a huge personal challenge, for the families, who are searching, for the bodies, of their loved ones.
There are so many that are unidentified that are not yet claimed, the authorities have set up a social media database that people can search. It contains details of the bodies, as much details, as are known, and pictures.
And these pictures, they don't hide, they cannot hide, what has happened--
BLACK: --to these people, what these people have experienced, the suffering, the brutality, in the moments, before they died.
And to scroll through it, is truly harrowing. It's a really distressing experience. And yet, that is what Ukrainian families, have to do, in order to track down the bodies or, in many cases, the remains, of those they've lost.
SCIUTTO: And listen, the sad fact is this is a story playing out, in many, many Ukrainian cities, and towns, and villages. It is a hard fact of this war.
Phil Black, thanks so much, for that reporting.
Well, given what we saw on Bucha, and Borodianka, the leveling of the entire city of Mariupol, direct attacks, deliberate ones, on hospitals, and the use of weapons, designed specifically, to kill people, anti-personnel mines, cluster bombs? It is not hard to make a case that Russian tactics, in Ukraine, amount to war crimes, on a scale, not seen in Europe, since the atrocities, in the former Yugoslavia, or perhaps even going back to World War II.
The question, though, is how realistic is it to expect to hold Vladimir Putin himself, directly accountable? Perspective on that now, from Sir Geoffrey Nice, who led the prosecution of Slobodan Milosevic, at The Hague.
Sir Geoffrey, thanks so much, for joining us, tonight.
One focus of all this, right, is the idea of prosecuting Vladimir Putin himself, for war crimes. What would that look like? And the real question is, how practical, how realistic, is that?
SIR GEOFFREY NICE, LEAD PROSECUTOR IN HAGUE TRIAL OF SLOBODAN MILOSEVIC: The question, divided into two parts. How practical is it to have the evidence sufficient to prosecute Putin? It's very practical. It's very easy. I would have thought completely straightforward in this case.
Whether he'll actually ever be tried depends on whether he'll ever fall in the jurisdiction of one of the courts that can try him. Principally, we are concerned with the International Criminal Court, which could try him, for war crimes, and crimes against humanity, which are very clearly proved, on the evidence, already available.
But, of course, you've got to get him to The Hague for that. And if he stays in office, or if he is succeeded, by somebody, who's happy, to allow him, to stay in Russia, then there's no guarantee that he will be tried. So, there we are. That's the practicalities.
SCIUTTO: How should - how must Ukraine and the international community document, right, these alleged war crimes, build the case, in effect?
NICE: Well, people are, apart from the Prosecutor, Karim Khan, of the International Criminal Court, it's quite well-known that lots and lots of people, are in there, doing their best, to gather evidence, for different organizations, and on behalf of the Ukraine government itself.
Whether all those efforts are properly coordinated, or not, I don't know. But I do know that there's a lot of effort, being put in, to ensuring that the evidence is in admissible form, usable form, in court.
SCIUTTO: Given the difficulty, of successfully prosecuting someone, such as Putin, is it more realistic? Or should this also be part of the investigation, to focus on lower level commanders, some of whom, are in Ukrainian custody, already, as Prisoners of War? Is that a path that's not only necessary, but also more likely to net results?
NICE: Depends what you're seeking. Certainly, lower level people, if they are available for trial, should be tried. But there's a danger, in doing that. Namely, that you overlook the overall criminality of the state, or the leader of the state.
This is one of the problems with the Yugoslav trials. There were too many trials, or in my view, there were many trials, of low-level people, lasting very many years.
And that allowed the underlying issues of the conflict to be continued, and most seriously, allow those individuals, on trial, to advance wholly on merited defenses, and to carry on arguing, thoroughly unpleasant philosophies that supported Milosevic.
What was important, was to get the leadership, and to get the leadership, to a final conclusion, in a short space of time.
NICE: In the Nuremberg trials, after World War II, may be criticized, for some aspects, of their process. It is very important to remember how much good they did, in that. Within a year, the leadership was tried.
NICE: Most were convicted. Many were hanged. And after that, both, the allies, who were counted, as the undoubted moral victors, and Germany, the moral villain, all were able to move forward.
And when Ukraine, escaped from this, what is perhaps more important than trying lower level commanders, is leaving a record that leaves it quite clear that Russia has been, is and will remain forever, the villain of this piece, the moral villain.
SCIUTTO: And you make a great point that the reckoning, perhaps necessary, right, to move on.
SCIUTTO: That's down the road, sadly.
Sir Geoffrey Nice, thanks so much, for the work you've done, and for joining us, tonight.
NICE: No, it's all my pleasure. Thank you.
SCIUTTO: In the midst of the sadness, from Ukraine, the crimes, we're witnessing, there are occasional moments, of good news.
And in our last hour, CNN's Clarissa Ward brought us, the remarkable second chapter, in the story of a woman, named Lidia. 86-years-old, nearly alone.
When we first met her, last night, she was living in a freezing apartment, in a town under siege, confined to a wheelchair, unable to care for herself, or to get anywhere safe. She told Clarissa that, for her, things would probably get worse.
Well, instead tonight, her life probably has gotten better and safer. Here's Clarissa's story.
CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Lidia Mihailuk (ph) thought this day would never come. After weeks of horror, she waits, outside her apartment, to be evacuated.
WARD (on camera): So, we're here, at the Big Heart living facility. And we're just waiting, for Lidia, to arrive. She has been driving for some hours. And we're excited to see her.
Here she is.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (FOREIGN LANGUAGE).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good to see you, man. We got her out!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
WARD (voice-over): Lidia greets cameraman Scottie McWhinnie (ph).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (FOREIGN LANGUAGE). WARD (voice-over): "It's our old friend," she says. "I'm so glad to see you again."
After we left Lidia, Thursday, there was an outpouring, from people, who wanted to help. We managed to connect volunteers, to a care home, in the relative safety of Dnipro.
WARD (on camera): (FOREIGN LANGUAGE).
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (FOREIGN LANGUAGE).
WARD (voice-over): Leaving Lidia, alone, in her apartment, was incredibly tough. To see her safe is a huge relief.
WARD (on camera): (FOREIGN LANGUAGE).
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (FOREIGN LANGUAGE).
WARD (voice-over): "Today, I will finally feel calm," she says. "This is so important. Thank you."
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (FOREIGN LANGUAGE).
WARD (on camera): (FOREIGN LANGUAGE).
WARD (voice-over): Her journey, out of Avdiivka, was far from easy.
WARD (on camera): (FOREIGN LANGUAGE).
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (FOREIGN LANGUAGE).
WARD (on camera): She's saying that there was a lot of shelling, this morning. It was terrifying.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (FOREIGN LANGUAGE).
WARD (voice-over): It took six long hours, to get here. But she made it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (FOREIGN LANGUAGE).
WARD (voice-over): "I'm so lucky," she says. "Safe and comfortable, at long last."
SCIUTTO: CNN's Clarissa Ward, tonight.
Next, for us, the sinking of Russia's flagship, the impact of new American military aid, and what Russia's next moves, might be. Two retired army generals, know a lot about Russia, and its military, will join us.
Also tonight, a closer look at just how sophisticated, some of the new weaponry, heading to Ukraine, from the West, truly is.
SCIUTTO: Tonight, we're addressing the threat, of Russia, using weapons, in Ukraine that have only been used twice before, in the entire history of the planet. And make no mistake, even a nuclear weapon, half, or a quarter, or less, of the size, of the ones dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, 77 years ago, this August, would be devastating.
Joining us now, two CNN Military Analysts. Retired Army General "Spider" Marks.
Also, another retired Army two-star Dana Pittard. He's Author of the new book, "Hunting the Caliphate. America's War on ISIS and the Dawn of the Strike Cell."
Gentlemen, good to have you both on tonight.
General Marks, I wonder if we could discuss, what you might call a low-probability high-impact event, Russia resorting to the use of tactical or battlefield nuclear weapons.
As you look at this, how real a threat is that? And how should you, and I, and the U.S., and Ukraine, prepare for that?
MAJOR. GEN. JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS (RET.), U.S. ARMY, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, that's a real threat. Putin has indicated that he has nuclear weapons. We don't need that type of reminder.
The concern that I have is that the Russians have a different perspective, of the use of nuclear weapons, than the Western powers and, certainly, the United States.
In the United States, the release of whether it's a theater or tactical nuclear weapon, or whether it's a strategic ICBM requires Commander-in-Chief approval, has to be delegated down, has to be validated, in the whole bit.
In Russia, that's not the case. The Theater Commander reserves the right. He has the authority--
MARKS: --to release that weapon, which means it's just another arrow in the quiver.
And, in our case, it's a political, it's a social, it's a strategic issue. And so, my concern is de-escalation. When a nuke is released, I don't know, how you can resist acceleration, and escalation, to the next level.
SCIUTTO: No question. And it is part of their battlefield escalation plan, as many have noted, even in response to a conventional attack. General Pittard, just for folks, at home, so they can understand? A tactical or battlefield nuke, how is it - how big is it, right? How big would the impact area be? And what are the ways they can be deployed?
MAJ. GEN. DANA PITTARD (RET.), U.S. ARMY, CNN MILITARY ANALYST, AUTHOR, "HUNTING THE CALIPHATE. AMERICA'S WAR ON ISIS AND THE DAWN OF THE STRIKE CELL": Well, good evening, Jim.
As General Marks just said, it can be employed, at least by Russian doctrine, by a theater-level commander.
The tactical or battlefield nuclear weapons have a lower yield. But they're still nuclear weapons. So, the U.S. and NATO must send an unequivocal message that any use of nuclear weapons, whether it's tactical, battlefield, or strategic, will start nuclear war. We must send that message loud and clear, so that's not done.
SCIUTTO: Yes. I should note, and I reported this earlier today that the U.S. has been monitoring Russian military forces, and nuclear forces, for any unusual movements, of nuclear weapons that have not to date seen that. Doesn't mean that can't change. But we should note that as we factor into this, to judging the seriousness of the strategy.
General Marks, to another topic here, Russia is taking its protests, of U.S. weapon shipments, to Ukraine, to a higher level. It demarched the U.S., over this, public warnings of unpredictable consequences.
Do you see Russia, as building the case, here, sending warning signs, or warning shots, that they might start taking shots at, targeting U.S. or NATO weapons convoys?
MARKS: Jim, I am surprised they haven't already gone after those conflicts. I think it's more tactical, and a military commander consideration, weighing all the risks, and how do you mitigate those risks?
It makes perfect sense to me that you would want to go after those logistics - logistic tails. They're exposed. They're vulnerable. You have to have a handoff. You have equipment that's going to be visible. And then, you have to move it.
The key is, the Russians have not demonstrated the ability, to precisely target mobile targets.
They're using all manner of weapon systems, to go against stationary targets, schools, hospitals, buildings, et cetera. But they haven't been able to target Ukrainian forces, on the move, and they certainly won't be able to do it, against the logistics efforts.
The key is they can't, they know they can't, go after those assembly areas, where the handoff is taking place--
MARKS: --in places, like Poland or Romania.
SCIUTTO: General Pittard, some Biden administration officials believe that part of the message, from Moscow, on this, is that Russia is hurting, from this. And we know that they've lost tremendous number of personnel, as well as a whole host of hardware. The latest, being the jewel of their Black Sea Fleet.
I suppose, the question is, then, does that lead Russia, to trim down its ambitions? We've seen some of that with the movement to the east, and away from the capital. Or is it more likely that it leads Putin, and the Russian military, to strike back harder?
PITTARD: Well, Russia has definitely been hurt, by the weapons, munitions, being sent by the U.S. and NATO. That is clear. And the Russians aren't doing very well, in this war. So, I think, the last thing that Russia wants to do is take on the U.S., the world's premier military power, and NATO.
So, I don't know if this is a bluff, or the Russians may try to attempt this. But it wouldn't be wise. They barely can handle what's going on, with the Ukrainians, in eastern Ukraine.
But it still speaks to what the U.S. and NATO should be doing, as far as taking the strategic initiative, not being intimidated by Putin, and Russia, making Russia react, to what the U.S. and NATO does, instead of just the opposite, like declaring a humanitarian assistance zone, in western Ukraine.
SCIUTTO: Lot of decisions to come, hard ones. General Marks, General Pittard, thanks so much to both of you.
MARKS: Thank you, Jim.
PITTARD: Thank you, Jim.
SCIUTTO: Coming up next, Russia is demanding the U.S. stop giving weapons, to Ukraine's military, as we noted.
But the Biden administration says it's not listening, announcing this week, it is shipping an additional $800 million, in military aid. That means weapons. We'll take a look at the advanced weaponry, it's sending their way.
SCIUTTO: Russia, not happy, clearly that the U.S. is increasing its weapons shipments, to Ukraine's military, and it wants them to stop, sending a diplomatic message to the State Department, warning of, quote, "Unpredictable consequences," if those shipments continue.
But, this week, the Biden administration announced, it's sending more, an additional $800 million in military aid, to Ukraine. Tonight, CNN's Alex Marquardt, looks at the advanced weapons that are part of that package.
ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): With Russia's war, against Ukraine, about to enter its third month, the battlefield has changed significantly.
The region, around the capital, Kyiv, is quieter, for now. But U.S. and NATO officials warn that a dramatic escalation, by Russia, in eastern Ukraine, is coming.
With that shift, and escalation, Ukraine's needs for weapons, are changing, and growing. This week, the Biden administration announced a weapons package, worth $800 million, with new and more sophisticated systems.
JOHN KIRBY, PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: Some of them are reinforcing capabilities that we have already been providing Ukraine, and some of them are new capabilities that we have not provided to Ukraine.
MARQUARDT (voice-over): Among the bigger items, are Mi-17 helicopters, a 11 of them, which the U.S. redirected, from Afghanistan, to Ukraine.
Small drones, called Switchblades, 300 of them, also called Kamikaze killer drones that can target Russian soldiers and armored vehicles.
And, for the first time, Howitzers, which fire artillery shells, at long range targets. Ukraine is being sent 18, with 40,000 rounds of ammunition.
The list goes on and includes coastal sea drones, to defend against Russia's ships, in the Black Sea, 200 armored personnel carriers, counter-artillery radars, equipment for chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear attacks, and thousands more Javelin and Stinger missiles, to use, against Russian tanks and aircraft.
Countless Russian armored vehicles have been destroyed, by weapons, provided by NATO countries. Ukrainian forces have been able to repel Russian advances, thanks to them.
DMYTRO KULEBA, MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF UKRAINE: I think the deal that Ukraine is offering is fair. You give us weapons. We sacrifice our lives. And the war is contained, in Ukraine.
MARQUARDT (voice-over): But Ukraine says it needs more.
OLEKSIY DANILOV, SECRETARY OF UKRAINE'S NATIONAL SECURITY AND DEFENSE COUNCIL (through translator): We are grateful for what we have already been given. We need helicopters, planes, powerful weapons, Howitzers. We need a lot.
MARQUARDT (voice-over): A point of contention, with U.S., is over fighter jets. Ukraine wants them, while the Biden administration is worried Russia will take that as too much of a provocation. Moscow has warned it would target weapons, heading into Ukraine. And, this week, sent a protest letter, to Washington, over the growing weaponry, being sent.
But the State Department said, Friday that, nothing will dissuade the U.S. from continuing its support.
Alex Marquardt, CNN, Washington.
SCIUTTO: For more, on the big picture, let's bring in Steve Hall. He's the former CIA Chief of Russia Operations. He's now a CNN National Security Analyst.
Steve, good to have you on.
STEVE HALL, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST, FORMER CIA CHIEF OF RUSSIA OPERATIONS: Good to be here, Jim.
SCIUTTO: OK. So, there's a demarche, official diplomatic complaint, warning of unpredictable consequences, for these weapon shipments. You have the continuing nuclear saber rattling by Russia.
You've spent years, studying Russia, analyzing the Intelligence. Is this a bluff?
HALL: Bluff might be too strong of a word, Jim. But I, honestly, don't think, in my assessment, at this point that there is a serious threat of a thermonuclear exchange. We're talking strategic weapons--
HALL: --multiple launch type of stuff, intercontinental missiles. I don't think that's - I don't think that stuff is going to happen.
The tactical nuclear weapons that Russia possesses, quite a bit of, I think, there's a slightly higher likelihood.
But even so, I think, even Putin, in his sort of hour of need? Things aren't going well for him, in the battlefield. I think he does understand that there would be real serious repercussions, to that, perhaps to include China, picking up the phone, and saying, "Look, this can't go on."
So, I think that there's some significant downsides, if they turn, even to tactical nuclear weapons. And the strategic ones, I think, are still way far out. But you got to take it seriously.
SCIUTTO: Let me ask you another question about how Russia views this.
Because if you look at the course of this war, for Russia, it's been devastating. The loss of personnel, if you believe, even the sort of mid-range estimates, they've already lost more than they lost, in nearly a decade, in Afghanistan, which helped bring down the Soviet Union. They've lost tanks, jets. They've lost the flagship of the Black Sea Fleet. I mean, that has enormous significance. And they had to withdraw, from their initial intention, of taking over, if not all of the country, most of it, including the capital.
I mean, do you believe Putin understands that he's losing?
HALL: Well, I think that there was certainly a good deal of hubris going into this, on Putin's part. And that might not just be Putin.
I mean, Putin, obviously, thinks very well of himself, in Russia. But he also might have been getting you know sort of the yes-man syndrome, as we've discussed often. So that's a concern, in terms of what he understands, and what's going on.
But, I think, also, if you look at how the Russians and, specifically, the tradition that Putin comes from, in terms of how they conduct war, in these types of operations? By U.S. military standards, there's a lot of questioning, and a lot of "Wow! That didn't go very well for them." I think we have to be a little careful, though, because those are sort of Western military standards.
The Russians have always waged war, in a way of attrition, not only the enemy, but also their own.
HALL: They're prepared just to throw people at this.
HALL: And throw more weapon systems at this. Even if they're not specifically as efficient as they would hope to be, I think, they're in it for the long-term.
SCIUTTO: We've seen that. I mean, even leaving the bodies of their fallen soldiers behind?
SCIUTTO: It's remarkable to watch.
I do want to talk about the weapons, going in. Because already, the weapons have been killing Russian personnel, right? I mean, these Javelins are blowing up tanks. The Stingers are taking down Russian helicopters and aircraft.
I remember how U.S. commanders viewed Iranian help, for Iraqi insurgents, right? Those armor-piercing IEDs, you've heard about for years, part of the reason you can argue that the U.S. took out Soleimani.
I mean, why wouldn't Russia view these weapons, coming from the U.S., and NATO, as killing Russian personnel, right, as something that they might respond to?
HALL: I would fully expect, and I agree with you, with your previous military commentators, in the previous segment. And that's kind of surprising - I think, "Spider" Marks was saying, it's kind of surprising, they haven't tried to do this already. And it could be that they're not particularly good at it.
There is some reporting, that they're having difficulty, with some of their satellite systems. So, basic Intelligence, with regard to where these - where these handoffs are taking place, and where the weapons are coming in, that the West, and the Americans are supplying them. I think, given the chance, though, they will definitely go at this.
And then, of course, there's always a risk balance going on, in Putin's mind. "What if they tried to hit a bunch of Western tanks that are being sent in, and those tanks haven't crossed the line, from Poland into Ukraine yet? So, they're stuck in a NATO country? Well, what are the repercussions of that?"
HALL: So, Putin is trying to weigh a - just those lots of balls that the Russians have up in the air. And if they drop one of them, there's going to be some real serious repercussions that they need to be careful about.
SCIUTTO: No question. And questions about Article 5, right, if you have a strike on NATO territory?
SCIUTTO: Steve Hall, thanks so much.
SCIUTTO: Coming up next, the Biden administration, and its Western allies, putting the squeeze now, on Russian oligarchs, seizing billions of dollars, in properties, yachts like that one, and other assets.
But is it working? We're going to get answers from an expert.
SCIUTTO: Since Russia invaded Ukraine, nearly two months ago now, the U.S., and its allies, have been seizing the financial assets, of Russian oligarchs, hoping to put the squeeze, not only on them, but on Vladimir Putin, as well.
Just two days ago, Germany seized one oligarch's superyacht that has an estimated value, between $600 million and $750 million, nearly a billion dollars. There it is.
And, on Thursday, Ukraine announced, it had confiscated 154 properties, including dozens of homes, cars, a yacht, from the family, of a Ukrainian mogul, with close ties to Putin.
Question is, is it working? Is the financial pressure working?
I'm joined now by Brooke Harrington. She's Professor of Sociology, at Dartmouth, Author of "Capital Without Borders: Wealth Managers and the One Percent."
Professor Harrington, good to have you on, tonight.
I mean, you see these stories, the images of yachts being seized. And, I think, it gives people some satisfaction, right, I imagine? But how effective do you think these kinds of sanctions have been so far?
BROOKE HARRINGTON, PROFESSOR OF SOCIOLOGY, DARTMOUTH, AUTHOR, "CAPITAL WITHOUT BORDERS: WEALTH MANAGERS AND THE ONE PERCENT": I think that they must have been very effective, in order to get Vladimir Putin, on television, whining about them.
He doesn't get out of bed, for like minor things. So, for him, not only, to get exercised, about this, but to go on television, and be seen, publicly, railing against the sanctions, as a form of cancel culture, I think, is a fantastic fine (ph) that they are working.
SCIUTTO: Are there additional levers, targeting oligarchs, specifically here? I mean, for instance, the idea of liquidating, as opposed to freezing, in other words? I mean, I suppose you could - people have suggested selling the yachts, and other properties, and then financing, for instance, either humanitarian aid, to Ukraine, or the rebuilding of Ukraine.
HARRINGTON: Yes. It sounds like a great idea to me. And it has a certain universally understandable justice to it, doesn't it?
SCIUTTO: Do you think that the oligarchs might matter less now, as Putin tightens his grip? I mean, folks, who follow Russia, very closely, will say, "Yes, Putin has his oligarchs, his friends, and so on." But he views them, their wealth, in effect is coming through him, right, that it's his to give, and to take away? Or does he need their support?
HARRINGTON: It's not that they support him. It's that there has informal ambassadors, to the West. They've been the ones, who've been infiltrating our political, and educational, and cultural institutions, in order to make those institutions work, for them, or rather, for the Russian state, and Putin's agenda, rather than for us.
And by taking away the tools that they use, to do that, which is the tools they use to hobnob, with the Elites, of the West, like the yachts and the luxury properties--
HARRINGTON: --and the jets, that cuts off their influence. And at least that's a big win, all by itself.
[21:45:00] SCIUTTO: Of course, all these transactions are two-way streets. Someone's got to sell the yacht - or the yacht, or the apartment, in London, or the football club, in London. I wonder, has this change - or New York, frankly.
Has this event changed that fundamentally? I mean, are Russian oligarchs - is their money no longer going to be welcome, in western capitals, anymore?
HARRINGTON: Yes. I think that's been one of the primary impacts of the sanctions, and very much intentionally so. To stigmatize the people, who've been Putin's henchmen, and through them, the whole influence agenda that they have been executing, for 20 years, in the West.
SCIUTTO: If the sanctions do not do, what's hoped for, here, right, which is to change the war, get the oligarchs, to pressure Putin, or even Putin, of course, because he's got a lot of his money hidden, with these people, to change course here? Can they still be deemed successful?
HARRINGTON: I think the sanctions have already been successful, in the sense that, first of all, they've pulled the lid off of a whole operation that was only able to function through secrecy. The offshore system protected these oligarchs, and their looting, of the Russian state, for years. And that's over.
HARRINGTON: Offshore financial centers, their intermediaries, won't do business, with Russians, anymore.
There will always be some outlaws, who'll do business with them. But the respectable ones, like the U.K., and Switzerland, Monaco, and the U.S., won't do business with them anymore. And that cuts off their influence, and their access to wealth, and the West, in really significant and lasting ways.
HARRINGTON: And it also cuts off Putin's access to wealth that he's used to prosecute the war.
SCIUTTO: Exactly. Both for the state and, of course, wealth he's hidden around the world, for himself, and people close to him.
Brooke Harrington, thanks so much.
HARRINGTON: Thank you.
SCIUTTO: Well, as Jewish communities, across the world, are now marking the beginning, of Passover, tonight, I spoke with the Chief Rabbi of Poland, on what this holiday means, for the thousands of Ukrainian Jews, who have fled this war. That's coming up.
SCIUTTO: Today marks the beginning of Passover, one of the holiest holidays, for Jewish people, around the world, as they commemorate the biblical story of Exodus.
And, as Jewish communities prepare to spend, the next eight days, celebrating, with family, and telling stories, about liberation? For many Ukrainian Jews, this holiday is taking on a whole new meaning, in their own modern-day Exodus, as refugees, millions of them, from their homeland.
Earlier, I spoke with the Chief Rabbi of Poland, Michael Schudrich.
SCIUTTO: Rabbi, we talked so much about history repeating itself. And here, we have, a 21st Century Exodus, of refugees, many of them Jews, from Ukraine. It has echoes of World War II, certainly. But, on the occasion of Passover, it has biblical echoes.
I just wonder, what's going through your mind, as you see this play out, before your eyes, once again.
RABBI MICHAEL SCHUDRICH, CHIEF RABBI OF POLAND: We're literally, just hours before Passover, and sitting down to the Passover Seder, when we're going to talk about the concept of freedom.
And one of the paragraphs in the Passover Haggadah, the special book that we'll be reading from, is - says, in every generation, you need to imagine that you left Egypt, that leaving Egypt just wasn't just once. It's something that happens again and again.
And then, you look at what's happening in the world. And we, here, in Poland, accepting over 2 million refugees, from the Ukraine, very different story, than the biblical story, of the Exodus from Egypt.
SCHUDRICH: But not that different. People fleeing for their lives? People fleeing from a situation that is dangerous, to their lives, trying to get to somewhere safe? It more than resonates. It overwhelms.
This Passover will be different. One of the famous lines and Passover Seder's, "Why is this night different than all other nights?" And really, this Passover, we can say, "Why is this Passover different than all previous Passovers?"
It's because, this Passover, we are watching something happening that is an exodus. It is a struggle, of the people, to survive. And we, Jews, therefore, have - must have a tremendous empathy and sympathy, for what the Ukrainians are going through.
On the second day of the war, our Jewish community created a crisis management team, to help with the refugees. And if you think about it, for hundreds of years, we, Polish Jews, were, the crisis. Now, we've become the management team. Now it's our chance to give back. Now, it's our chance to help others.
SCIUTTO: That's a - that has to be a proud moment. It's certainly a moment of generosity.
One of the grim ironies of this war is that the man behind it, Vladimir Putin, has claimed, somehow, to be denazifying Ukraine, claiming that it is the Ukrainians, who are the problem, here, when, of course, the facts show differently.
How do you hear that message from him, attempting, really, to claim the mantle, of defending the Jewish people, or defending Europe, even, from Nazis?
SCHUDRICH: We welcome anyone, who wants to defend us.
But bombing maternity hospitals, bombing train stations, destroying cities, is not helping or saving anyone. It is destruction.
SCHUDRICH: And it is evil.
SCIUTTO: You speak to, in your role now, as Shepherd, as it were, to many of these refugees, as they come in to Poland, to many refugees. What do you hear from them, about how their faith is being tested, right?
We all imagine, there's progress, and there's signs of progress. But so much of this war has shown that you can move backwards, right that, humanity can move backwards?
SCHUDRICH: In my experience, when - because I speak to the refugees, often just hours, after they get out of - come out of the Ukraine, maybe some days. They really haven't had yet a time to reflect.
SCHUDRICH: Their first question is, "Where am I sleeping tonight? Where am I eating?"
SCHUDRICH: "How can I take care of my child? What about my elderly parents that I left behind?" These are the more pressing questions.
And so, I don't ask them those tough questions. Because, my responsibility is to create a safe, warm environment. Later, we can deal with the harsh realities. Right now, the challenge is to make them feel safe, and welcome.
SCIUTTO: Yes. The first job is to survive, right?
Thanks so much, sir.
SCHUDRICH: Thank you.
SCIUTTO: Rabbi Michael Schudrich, there.
We'll be right back.
SCIUTTO: The news continues. So, let's things over now, to "CNN TONIGHT," with Laura Coates, who, and I'm really a lucky guy, I get to co-anchor with, all next week.