Return to Transcripts main page

Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Bucha Prosecutors Shares Photos Of Civilians Killed In Town, Russia Denies War Crimes; Mariupol Mayor Says Three Mass Graves Near City, Claims Locals Forced To Work At Sites; Russia Takes Kherson, Announces Vote Ukraine Calls A Sham; CNN Sees Devastation In Kharkiv After 8 Weeks Of Russian Attacks; Top U.S. General: Russian Talk Of Nuclear War Is "Completely Irresponsible"; Advisory Panel No Longer Recommends Daily Preventive Aspirin Use; Vice President Harris Tests Positive For COVID. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired April 26, 2022 - 20:00   ET


ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: He is due to appear in Court next month on misdemeanor charges of driving with a revoked license. It is the latest in a string of controversial incidents for Cawthorn.

He alleged in an interview that Members of Congress have invited him to orgies and used cocaine in front of him, something he later walked back.

Thanks for joining us, AC 360 starts now.


COOPER: Good evening tonight from Kyiv.

We begin this evening with images unpublished anywhere until now that are being used by a local prosecutor in Bucha in Ukraine, to try to build a war crimes case against the former Russian occupiers of Bucha.

I spent the day in Bucha today where I spoke with the Ukrainian prosecutor who has been collecting the evidence. What he showed me and what we're going to show you is for the first time, these images had been seen publicly.

There are pictures and videos taken by an eyewitness on a street where people were being killed, and they are, to use a familiar word by now, graphic, so is the reality of what happened in Bucha.

These images were taken in early March in the suburb just northwest of Kyiv and what could just as easily had been in American suburb. In these pictures now seen for the first time, a man's body beside his bicycle killed, going about his business.

Another photo shows the same location, these taken in early March, only now with a second body. As you know, some of the dead were left to lie where they'd fallen until Bucha was finally liberated.

Elsewhere, another bike, another body, another civilian killed while simply trying to make the best of the horror that was playing out all around him trying to go to work.

Again, these photos were given to us by the official conducting a war crimes investigation on the ground in Bucha. All except one, this one was taken by a local resident. This one of Russian armor is from a surveillance video. It's from a traffic camera video that is used by investigators right now to try to identify the Russian soldiers who were involved in killings in Bucha, which is a very, very difficult task.

And this comes as CNN obtains other exclusive images placing Russian troops at the scene of some of the killings. They come from new drone video of Bucha taken during Russia's occupation of the town and it is especially timely because today, standing next to U.N. Secretary- General in Moscow, Vladimir Putin said this about the atrocity, which he blamed for scuttling peace talks with Ukraine.


VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): Unfortunately, after reaching agreements and after are clearly demonstrated intentions to create conditions for favorable conditions for the continuation of negotiations, we encountered a provocation in the village of Bucha, to which the Russian army has nothing to do.


COOPER: So that's a lie, and it is clearly a lie, and what is so insulting about it, especially to the families of the victims, is that there is clear evidence, as well as eyewitness accounts, satellite images as well.

Now remember what we just showed you at the top, those images where most of them were taken by one individual on the street where those people were killed and the camera that took them has been handed over to prosecutors, to war crimes prosecutors, and that can be examined for its data to tell the exact date that the photos were taken on, that those photos were taken over the course of several days, March 5th, 6th, and 7th, and it actually shows a progression of killings over the course of several days, and that's why these images are so important.

And then remember the satellite photos showing civilian bodies from March 18th when Russian forces were clearly in control.

Now, the Russian said that those satellite images that some of which you're seeing now are fake. Take a look at the new video dated March 13th obtained exclusively by CNN. A Russian military vehicle at the intersection. And yes, it's small and blurry, but we've identified the three objects just down the street above the vehicle on the screen as bodies, the same bodies seen in the satellite images from the 18th.

Now, in the video taken March 12th, a number of Russian soldiers are seeing around a military vehicle parked outside of a house just down the street from the bodies.

CNN asked the Russian Ministry of Defense for comment, but did not immediately receive a response, but just to remind you of what those officials are not commenting on and what Vladimir Putin is blaming on Ukraine is what Bucha looked like at street level when it was finally liberated.

The bodies of people killed during that occupation while the Russian Army was still there. The news from Bucha comes as the Mayor of Mariupol says a third mass grave has been found near the city. He says that Russian troops forced local residents to work the site in exchange for food and water.

Tonight in the program, we will talk to the International Court of Justice's chief war crimes prosecutor about all of it.

Also news from the various battle areas and retired Army four-star General David Petraeus and Wesley Clark join us on the state of play, as well as the growing stakes with Russia yet again now making veiled references to nuclear weapons being used, and today, Defense Secretary Austin responding.



LLOYD JAMES AUSTIN III, U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: What I think it is, Jen, is it is dangerous that any kind of rhetoric like that, you know, I think is unhelpful. You know, we've said over and over again that a nuclear war cannot be won by either side.

And so, I think saber rattling and rhetoric like that is just unhelpful.

And so, again, hard to say what is motivating Mr. Lavrov, but again, I think that kind of talk should be avoided.


COOPER: Joining our coverage tonight, CNN's Nick Paton Walsh reporting on Russia's new offensive in the South; CNN's Matt Rivers just back from a tour of Chernobyl where he talked to the world's top nuclear watchdog group about how close we came to a second nuclear disaster there during Russia's brief occupation of Chernobyl.

Also with us tonight, CNN chief international correspondent, Clarissa Ward, who has been seeing the battle for Kharkiv up close.

First Nick Paton Walsh's report from the southern front.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR (voice over): The southern fields conjure a piece long past a world away from Ukraine's hell.

It is quickly ruptured by Russia's new offensive sending waves of evacuees fleeing the growing unthinkable world of Russian occupation. Families for whom the shelling over the last two hours was finally too much.

(UNIDENTIFIED MALE speaking in foreign language.)

PATON WALSH (on camera): He is saying grads hit one of the villages further down here. I don't know if the Russians are actually close to them yet, but it's impossible to stay, a woman was injured there.

PATON WALSH (voice over): Antonina was three when the last war ended, but doesn't know when this one will.

Hour by hour, everything changes.

PATON WALSH (on camera): Things are moving fast enough here that just 24 hours ago a village about four kilometers in that direction was the meeting point from which people were getting evacuated. Now, it seems to be on the fire and we just see panicked, locals rushing in to collect their relatives.

PATON WALSH (voice over): Distant tree lines are packed with troops. The blue horizon sometimes pockmarked by smoke.

PATON WALSH (on camera): Here, the rumble of rockets still here and you can see the damage of what they've done before, but somewhere like this has felt to some degree that it had survived the worst of the war. But now in this second phase of the Russian operation, the brutality of those forces is essentially coming straight their way.

PATON WALSH (voice over): A flag flies still in the spot here where Lenin used to stand and it needs an army to hold it in place.

(UNIDENTIFIED MALE speaking in foreign language.)

PATON WALSH (voice over): "People don't want and cannot live under occupation," he says. "We've managed to get 7,000 out across our hundred miles of frontline, some by bicycle, some in wheelbarrows or by foot."

Here is where they are welcomed, in President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's hometown, Kryvyi Rih, talk of a sham referendum on Wednesday, trying to gentrify the Russian occupation and many flee these past days with queues of cars backed up for miles.

This father and son lost a wife and mother, respectively to a bomb and even here do not want their faces shown.

(UNIDENTIFIED MALE speaking in foreign language.)

PATON WALSH (voice over): "If they see us, they'll shoot everyone left there," he says. "We left on foot over the water in the river."

For this family, it was about saving the eldest, fearing their 18- year-old son would be conscripted after the sham vote.

(UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE speaking in foreign language.)

PATON WALSH (voice over): "The first time we tried to leave, they shot at us. The second time, we got out," she says. "We are completely occupied," she says. "There is no food, no money. We have nothing. They'll do a referendum and take our children. My son is 18 and they'll take him as cannon fodder. We ran as fast as we could."

It is jarring among the generosity of donations and offers of new homes to hear of the casual brutality of the occupiers.

Mikhaylo was tortured for days in a basement after Russian troops mistook his rough builder's hands as a sign he had been a soldier.

(MIKHAYLO speaking in foreign language.)

PATON WALSH (voice over): "One got out a gun, a real one," he says. "I saw it was cocked. Two shots, they hit the concrete wall. I think it was a starting pistol. Two other men then came in and talked less. They were drunk. One must have been a boxer as he beat me in the same place on my ribs, breaking six of them, rupturing a lung."

Broken in parts here, but even as Russia closes in, still breathing.



COOPER: And Nick Paton Walsh joins us now along with Clarissa Ward and Matt Rivers.

Nick, you can sense, obviously desperation in all the people that you spoke to in that that piece. Can you just kind of describe the intensity of this new phase of the war in the area that you're in?

PATON WALSH: Yes, I think it's frankly, something that hasn't really been on people's radar. It is extraordinary to think that here in Kryvyi Rih, the hometown of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, 20 to 30 miles from my understanding to the south, there are Russian troops getting pretty close.

In these scattered villages, you see there, obviously marooned at times in these huge open fields, but a concerted push certainly in the last 48 hours to bring the Russian lines much closer to where we are here.

Where are they going? Is the fundamental question. Russia announced its lofty aims to perhaps veer out west towards Odessa, maybe even towards Moldova, it seems unlikely, they have been trying it for two months and had no luck.

Are they aiming at the symbolism of the President's hometown here? Possibly, but it is pretty well-defended as far as we can see or as some are suggesting that they're headed out east to perhaps join other forces there towards the Donbas.

But I have to tell you, it has been remarkable to hear the accounts of the volume of Russian forces on this, the western side of that Dnieper River that splits Ukraine in two -- Anderson. COOPER: Clarissa, you were just coming out of Kharkiv, you've got

absolutely very close to a missile attack when you were with some paramedics. What does the world look like in that area there? Kharkiv is the second largest city.

CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It is just relentless bombardment. I mean, it's nearly nine weeks now that Kharkiv day in and day out has been under fire, cruise missiles into government buildings, shelling. The shelling is now primarily in the northeastern outskirts in an area called Saltivka and that is a very important area strategically for the Russians because they have a supply line moving down from the north from the Russian city of Belgorod down to the Donbas area into the city of Izyum, which is strategically really important for them at the moment.

And so the thing that people in Kharkiv fear is that as Russia tries to neutralize Ukrainian counter offensives that potentially Kharkiv could become the next Mariupol and they see these images, new mass graves, they hear these harrowing reports of people who were forced to take a shovel and dig these graves in exchange for just some water and some food.

And understandably, it gives them, you know, a shiver of fear down their spine because they are so keenly aware of the fact that they are potentially vulnerable to that as well.

I would just say, though, Anderson that it would be a very tall order for Russia to be able to fully encircle Kharkiv.

COOPER: Mariupol had like what -- 440,000 residents before the invasion, Kharkiv was 1.5 or something?

WARD: Yes. It's exactly -- and it has a strong ring of Ukrainian forces who have been launching successful counter offensives. The Russians tried to push in there last month, they weren't successful in doing it.

But because of that relentless bombardment, it sort of instills a sort of vulnerability mentally as well in terms of morale, because the message you're receiving day in and day out is, you will not be allowed to have a normal life in any way, shape, or form, unless you submit.

COOPER: Matt, you were at Chernobyl today. What was that like?

MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, so we were there, because the I.A.E.A. Director was going there. They were calling it a fact-finding mission, they were saying that they were bringing some necessary equipment, and when he came out, he said that they have found significant damage.

Remember, the Russians occupied that facility early on in the war. They were there for several weeks, forcing engineers to work under horrific conditions to keep that defunct power plant, you know, operating essentially. And you know, that happened on the same day, he said that the IAEA

would help them restore and repair that, which is pretty significant. This happens on the same day that cruise missiles were launched at another city in Ukraine called Zaporizhzhia, and what we're hearing from Ukrainian officials is that those cruise missiles actually flew over a power plant in Zaporizhzhia, very low altitude.

And what we're hearing from officials is that that is obviously incredibly dangerous. If one of those missiles hits either on purpose or by accident, and nuclear power plant, there could be a huge catastrophe. And so I asked the director of the I.A.E.A. what his message to Russia is right now.


RAFAEL MARIANO GROSSI, DIRECTOR GENERAL, INTERNATIONAL ATOMIC ENERGY AGENCY: My message to them is that we have to put an end to this situation, we have to restore full safety and security of the nuclear power plants. This is my work, and I'm asking them to cooperate with me.

RIVERS: How close were we here, do you think to a true disaster when the Russians were here?

GROSSI: It's clear that the situation was a dangerous one because you didn't have a normal kind of -- your key lines of command that were not clear. On occasion, we also had interruptions of the external power feeding the plant, which may have led to an interruption of the cooling systems with bad consequences in terms of environment.

So I wouldn't say that we were in the verge of a catastrophe, but we were not in the zone that you would like to be. That is very clear to me.


RIVERS: And so across the country, you're talking about 15 different nuclear reactors across four different facilities. As long as Russia keeps doing what they're doing, those facilities aren't risk, which means Ukraine and frankly, the world also at risk.

COOPER: Nick, you talked about this in your piece, and some of the people you were interviewing had left ahead of this referendum. But this kind of sham referendum that in Kherson, it's as early as Wednesday, try and create a new entity that would be called the Kherson's People's Republic.

According to a Ukrainian official, what they are saying is that the Russians there are actually having trouble finding enough willing participants to even fake a vote. What are you hearing about this?

PATON WALSH: I've got to tell you, Anderson, we just don't know if there's going to be a referendum tomorrow. Everybody you speak to who leaves Kherson says they've been told there was going to be one today. It's Wednesday, already here and it's in leaflets. And many of them left, frankly, because they were concerned that once

that sham referendum had been pushed through, we've seen it in Donetsk and Luhansk, essentially, they ask people to vote and say, do you want to declare a People's Republic? And then that gets recognized in the case of the Donbas by Russia. That would essentially mean that Kherson would become closer sort of legally in their sort of warped vision towards the Russian Federation, and for many families, that might mean that their men will be conscripted to serve the purposes of the Russian military.

That caused one family you saw on that piece there to leave in a hurry, many to be deeply concerned that life is going to take a very dark turn since then. But it does appear at the moment, we're just simply not sure.

I spoke to one senior official here, he simply didn't know if that was going to go ahead or not. As you mentioned, there has been some officials appointed in the local government there, backing Russia that may be the sort of simple way they get to take greater control of a local administration there. But it shows I think, possibly the lack of clarity, perhaps, or the lack of clean control or messaging the Russians have over that most important city, the first that they actually managed to take.

They have seen a lot of protest amongst the local population there and it has been stunning, frankly, to see the volumes of people trying to get out.

I was told of a 30-kilometer or a 20-mile long queue a few days ago of people trying to get out through a Russian-held town, they were not allowed out and they had been snaking their way through the fields out here to Kryvyi Rih, but remarkable volumes of people walking on bicycles, wheelbarrows even simply to get out of Russian control -- Anderson.

COOPER: Just very quickly, Clarissa, do we know -- I mean, has the full force -- has the full onslaught of the Russian offensive begun already in in the east? I mean, it's hard. There's not a lot of pictures, it's hard to know. But that seems to be the big question.

WARD: I just think it's going to look very different from anything that one might have imagined in terms of some sort of shock and awe. This is going to be incremental, this is going to be a war of attrition, this is going to grind on. Russia has thrown a lot of troops at it already, but when Mariupol falls, they can potentially throw even more troops at it.

But every day, what you're seeing is movement back and forth with Russians taking one half of the village then the next day, the Ukrainians taking it back.

And so this is not going to be some kind of a slam dunk victory for the Russians by any stretch of the imagination, which is why I think you've seen a real shift in the tone of the White House and the administration in terms of feeling much more confident about Ukraine's abilities to potentially win this. COOPER: Yes. The question is, how quickly can those Howitzers and

other heavy weaponry get to the Ukrainian forces all the way in the east?

Clarissa and Matt, thanks very much.

We're going to have more from Clarissa, her full report coming up in the next block.

Also in light of the new images that we've obtained of killings in Bucha, a conversation with the Karim Khan, prosecutor for the International Criminal Court at The Hague, he joins us tonight.

And later, Clarissa is reporting from Kharkiv, the city that has been under nonstop siege now for nearly nine weeks.



COOPER: At the top of program tonight, we showed you some new images shared with us by the prosecutor in Bucha of people killed during the Russian occupation of that town. And again, we want to warn you, the images are graphic.

They are being seen publicly for the first time, as I said, given to us by the Ukrainian prosecutor who is trying to build a war crimes case against the Russian troops who were there in Bucha for the month of March. They were taken over the course -- the photos that we're showing you now were taken over the course of several days mostly March 5th, 6th, and 7th while Russian forces were in the area and particularly on this one particular street, where more than half a dozen people were shot to death.

As you can see, the pictures show the bodies of civilians at several locations over the course of several days. The prosecutor told me that those people were out to pick up some supplies, humanitarian aid, or just trying to cross the street. There were people, in some cases who lived on that street or lived nearby just trying to go about their lives.

They are now part of a criminal case that Ukrainian prosecutors are building in the middle of a war, which has certainly been notable for atrocities of nearly every imaginable variety, from gunning down civilians to bombing train station, shelters, and hospitals to laying waste to cities.

I'm joined now by the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court at The Hague, Karim Khan whose work has taken him to places including Rwanda, and the former Yugoslavia. He has been in Bucha.

Mr. Khan, I appreciate you joining us. When I first talked to you in Lviv you were just beginning the investigation, you were still needing to get funding from countries for the investigation.

Where is your investigation now, because I know you've been in Bucha, as well, and you've talked to that prosecutor who speaks very highly of you?


KARIM ASAD AHMAD KHAN, PROSECUTOR OF THE INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT AT THE HAGUE: Well, thank you so much, Anderson for having me, and I think the very chilling pictures that you've shown the world, and really fantastic reporting that you and Clarissa Ward and other colleagues have done have put in a very clear spotlight on some of the reports that are coming out of Ukraine.

The International Criminal Court, my office is there for a reason, to collect evidence, to authenticate evidence and to see what crimes have been committed. And if so, who is responsible?

I think we need to march forward on this. I think the situation is extremely grave. It's not getting better and we need to make sure that we find ways to insist on the rule of law prevailing over brute force, bullying, and the kind of crimes that are within the Court's jurisdiction.

COOPER: I should point out your job is not to side with Ukraine, to side with Russia, your job is to just follow the facts, find the truth and bring cases based on that whether it's cases of prisoners being abused by Ukrainian forces, or allegations of that or investigate allegations of war crimes by Russian forces. Obviously, the bulk of the allegations thus far are against Russian forces.

You visited Bucha a few weeks ago, how important is it to establish -- for prosecutors to establish a timeline of exactly when people were killed and also a chain of command line to understand who gave what order?

KHAN: Well, it is key, and you know, the pictures that are on the screens now of bodies laying in the streets of Bucha and I went to Borodianka as well, and I haven't been as yet, I know Ukrainians have and Clarissa Ward to Kharkiv. I haven't been to Mariupol. So what one is unfortunately, going to see, as the fog of war lifts are unfortunately likely to be other scenes of a desperate nature, that are like those that are on the TV screen.

You know, I was there behind St. Andrew's Church in Bucha, with the Prosecutor General of Ukraine, and we need to get to the bottom of it. Those bodies that are in bags on the screen are not fake. I've seen them, I stood beside them. The issue is how did they die and who is responsible and in what circumstances?

And this is why I think independent investigations are needed, because the families of those that have perished deserve answers, and I think the rest of the world is looking for how vigorous and effective the rule of law can be in these circumstances.

So, we need to go forward in a way that is much more effective perhaps than in the past.

COOPER: Ukrainian prosecutors say that as many as 300 people were killed in Bucha during the time the Russian occupation. You alluded to what Russian officials are saying is, look, these images are fake, these satellite images are fake. These were -- bodies were put here after Russia left to make Russia look bad.

Obviously, the satellite images tell a different story because they show bodies there during the Russian occupation. But Russian officials say well, those are fake, and the company that makes those images has a contract with the Defense Department, which is I believe true.

One of the things that the local prosecutor is saying to us about the photographs that he showed us today is that, that the camera itself, which prosecutors have will have metadata that has the time, what day those photographs were taken. And the fact that there's a progression of you know, bodies appear on one day, on March 5th, there's two bodies and then on March 6th, another body appears and the eyewitness says that is when someone else was killed. He took a photo.

Is that sort of data important to building again a case in Court?

KHAN: It's critically important because we've got, I think, the picture on the screen now is one of the pictures was from somebody's window, perhaps and we've got testimonial evidence. But if you combine that, together with the drone video, cell cite evidence, evidence is recorded that contains metadata. You have then a combination of evidence from different sources that is capable of being forensically examined.

And ultimately, it's not going to be anybody's decision or even my own. We have independent judges that will assess whether or not evidence is fake or authentic. And I think any side of the conflict should not be scared of the truth and we need to trust the rule of law and the independent men and women of my office and then ultimately the independent Judges of the International Criminal Court and work in partnerships with the fantastic Prosecutor General of Ukraine and other national authorities and we are at this critical moment.

Yesterday, I signed an agreement, a historic agreement. It is the first time my office in 20 years of the Court's existence has signed an agreement with a JIT, a Joint Investigation Team along with Lithuania and Poland and Ukraine.


And in addition to those three states, there's nine other states in Europe that are looking at accountability.

And I think between us, we will ultimately get to the truth because there's no place to hide in the courtroom. And whatever are the narratives and the counter narratives and evidence, of course, should properly be tested. Ultimately, we've see in domestically we see internationally, you can't hide from the truth and there will be I think, a case to answer in due course, and we'll wait and see what it is.

COOPER: Yes. Karim Khan, I appreciate your time tonight. Thank you.

KHAN: Thank you. COOPER: Coming up, Clarissa Ward joins us again with her report from the streets of Kharkiv, Ukraine second largest city still standing despite the massive destruction wrought by a Russian forces as an offensive is well underway in the East.


COOPER: An advisor President Zelenskyy today said that Russian troops in the east and south, quote have launched an offensive in all directions, and Ukraine claims that resistance is held despite the stepped up attacks. And separately top Ukrainian military commanders say the Russians are trying to partially block the eastern city of Kharkiv to aid their advancement.


Clarissa Ward is more from inside Kharkiv, Ukraine second largest city.


CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): There's no rest at night for the people of Kharkiv. Players light up the sky as artillery thunders through the air. For nearly nine weeks, Ukraine second largest city has been shelled relentlessly. Only by day, you see the full scale of the destruction. The neighborhood of Pavlo Lopolio (ph) was hit repeatedly last month, as Russian forces tried to push into the city. No site was spared, not even the local nursery school.

(on-camera): So it looks like this was some kind of dormitory. You can see, children's beds here all around. And then in the next door room over there was their classroom.

(voice-over): Their shoes still litter the locker room. Mercifully, the school had been evacuated, so no children were killed in the strikes.

(on-camera): The mayor of Kharkiv says that 67 schools and 54 kindergartens have been hit here since the war began. And what's so striking when you look around is that it's so clearly not a military target. This is a residential neighborhood.

(voice-over): Just a few blocks away the bare skeleton of an apartment building. Authorities say more than 2,000 houses have been hit here. The sounds of war are never far away.

(on-camera): You can see this is what's left of the bedroom here. It's just astonishing.

(voice-over): Two doors down we see a figure peeking out, 73-year-old Larissa (ph) (INAUDIBLE) is still living there alone.

(on-camera): So she's saying that she does have a sister who she could stay with. But she also lives in an area that's being heavily hit and she's living in a shelter at the moment. (FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

WARD (voice-over): It's from all sides, she says. From there, and there they can shell. With her fresh lipstick, Larissa (ph) is a picture of pride and resilience. Much like the city, still standing tall in the face of a ruthless enemy.


COOPER: And Clarissa Ward is back with me now. The -- I mean, the bombardment is so indiscriminate and it I mean, I just am so struck by the Russians continued Russian officials just continually blatantly lie about this saying, we're only using precision weapons, we are not targeting any residential areas or shootings or hitting civilians.

WARD: Yes, it's pretty surprising. And yet, when you look back at the Russian playbook, it makes a lot of sense when you particularly think of this new general or relatively recently appointed General Aleksandr Dvornikov who was known as the Butcher of Syria. And the tactics that we saw in Syria, the targeting of hospitals, the targeting of schools, and that powerful message that that sends to people that you cannot have any sense of normalcy until you submit.

While at the same time officially continuing to spat out the line that these places are only being targeted because they're being used by, you know, in this case, the Nazis to launch attacks and military attacks are being launched from these areas. We walked around these areas. We were there with those paramedics as they came under fire while they were tending to the wounded in a residential building. We did not see any trace of military, what we did see ordinary civilians, people trying to live their lives and coming under a hail of artillery and rockets on an almost daily basis.

COOPER: And people still trying to live their lives and that women the report putting on her makeup.

WARD: Yes, it's really I mean, obviously, we've been traveling a lot around this whole country. The people of Kharkiv kind of astonished me in terms of the level of pride and resilience and defiance in the face of that kind of bombardment to be living on your own or an apartment where the next door building the entire face of it has been sheared off, and you're still getting dressed in the morning. You're putting on your lipstick in the morning. It just speaks to an extraordinary essential quality in people that you don't really see very often.

COOPER: Yes. Clarissa Ward, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

A top U.S. military official is giving a pretty stark warning about the threat that Russia poses to global international security if they aren't held accountable for their crimes. I'll have details on that next.


[20:43:39] COOPER: In an exclusive interview with CNN's Jim Sciutto today, General Mark Milley, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff warned of what he says would be the consequences if Russia is not held accountable for invading Ukraine. Listen.


GEN. MARK MILLEY, CHAIRMAN, JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: What's at stake is the global international security order that was put in place in 1945. That international orders lasted 78 years. It's prevented great power war. There is no answer to this aggression. If Russia gets away with this cost free, then so goes the so called international order. And if that happens, then we're entering into an era of seriously increased instability.


COOPER: His comments came after meeting with allies hosted by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin in Germany, who reiterated his goals as he Russia's military capabilities weakened. General Milley also criticized the Russian Foreign Minister over his recent comments about the danger of a nuclear war, saying it was quote, completely irresponsible, and quote, anytime a senior leader of a nation starts state --starts rattling a nuclear saber, and everyone takes it seriously.

Joining me is former CIA director and former head of the U.S. Central Command, retired General David Petraeus.

General Petraeus, we heard the comments about weakening Russia from Secretary Austin. General Milley said that the global international security order is at stake in this war. I'm wondering if you agree with that and what exactly that does that mean.


GEN. DAVID PETRAEUS (RET.), FMR CIA DIRECTOR: I don't think that's hyperbole. I think there is a reasonable amount at stake here in terms of the global order, the fact that one country can conduct an unprovoked invasion of its neighbor is very, very concerning. It's not something that can be allowed to happen in today's day and age. Of course, it's the first invasion of that sort in Europe since the end of World War II.

So, so again, I think these words are not an overstatement, I think we have to be a bit cautious with anything that could seem to make Vladimir Putin as if he's in, backed into a corner and has nothing left to lose. But I think there's plenty left to lose for him right now. And I think, frankly, the significance of today's meeting at Ramstein Air Base in Germany is enormous. This is the basically the free world, the countries that really matter. So beyond even those of NATO committing to support Ukraine, as if you have not just the arsenal of democracy on your side, if you're Ukraine, you have the Arsenal's of democracy. And it has to cause very significant concern in Russia. And I suspect that's why there was a little rattling of the nuclear saber. Again, today, they have to realize now that any window of opportunity for achieving additional gains on the ground is going to close fairly quickly. As soon as these massive arms flows can get into Ukraine, get into the hands of Ukrainian soldiers together with the ammunition for them. It's going to be very tough for Russia on the battlefield.

COOPER: It's not a coincidence, you're saying that you have Lavrov, you know, mentioning the use of nuclear weapons right after this, this meet on the same day that this meeting is held.

PETRAEUS: I think that's right, Anderson, again, they have nothing left. Again, we are hammering their economy, their financial system, the business community, Putin's inner circle, they're watching over 300,000 of the most talented Russian citizens have now voted with their feet and left the country. They don't want to be in a country anymore. That's a global pariah. They're -- I think they're faced pretty bleak times ahead.

COOPER: What do you make of this phase, this coming phase now of the war?

PETRAEUS: Well, I think the phase that we're actually in now, and perhaps in the days that lie ahead is very, very pivotal for Ukraine, they've been scrambling to move forces down there, just as Russia pulled forces out of the north and reconstituted them and shoved them around to the east without really adequate reconstitution activities. Ukraine has to be doing the same. These are vast distances, as you well know, back in Kyiv. And knowing how long that distance is, from north to south, and east to west.

So the other factor here is that the Russians have been being more precise in targeting certain logistical sites, fuel depots, and other in warehouses and so forth of Ukraine that undoubtedly are important, not just to the day to day logistics of the battlefield, but also to the provision of these additional weapons that are coming into the country in an enormous pace. And just working out, in fact, the details of how to get soldiers who can operate these 90 155 millimeter howitzers, just from the United States alone, these are heavy artillery pieces, way, way over 100,000, I think approaching 200,000 rounds of ammunition for that because of course, the Ukrainians don't have 155 millimeter, they have 152. But getting that in there and getting that in the way that the Ukrainian so skillfully use drones for forward observation, so they can pinpoint the location of Russian forces behind the Russian lines, and then use this heavy artillery to take it out. And we sent in additional of the firefighter radar, so the Russians use their artillery very quickly and very accurately, they'll pinpoint the location and they can very quickly put that information on the guns in response.

So there's a lot of very substantial firepower that is headed to the east. The question is, can the Russians take advantage of the time between now and when that arrives, to get some additional gains in the battlefields of the East and the Southeast that might translate into leverage at the negotiating table? When I thought it was interesting today, I'm sure you will have seen that there's some discussion about negotiations again, and the possible -- possibility of President Zelenskyy agreeing not to discuss Crimea, or the originally occupied areas of Donetsk and Luhansk, Oblast those occupied by the Russian supported separatists prior to the beginning of the invasion.

COOPER: General Petraeus. I really appreciate your time. Thank you so much.

PETRAEUS: Always good to be with you, Anderson. Thanks for what you're doing back in Kyiv.

COOPER: Ahead, we're going to leave Ukraine for just a moment turns some big health news out of the U.S. what might be the final word, finally on whether or not it's a good idea to take a daily aspirin to help prevent heart attack and stroke. We'll have the latest from Sanjay Gupta ahead.



COOPER: We'll return to our coverage of Ukraine in just a moment. But first a pretty, surprising shift and one of America's longest standing health recommendations, an aspirin a day keeps the doctor away has been the conventional wisdom for years with scientists long touting the benefits of taking aspirin or baby aspirin, at least to daily to keep your heart healthy or lower your risk for a stroke. And millions upon millions of Americans have been doing just that. But now federal task force is strongly warning against it especially for those 60 or older, saying you could do more harm than good.

We're going to try to make sense of it now with our chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

So Sanjay, what is the deal? Should we take aspirin? Should we not take aspirin? What is going on?

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think if you look at what the recommendations have been sort of angling toward over the last several years, it's for fewer and fewer people to take aspirin. I think initially the idea was hey, you know, what's the harm it could potentially help prevent problems. But I think as we've seen more and more of the potential risks, risks like bleeding from aspirin, you see that these recommendations are encouraging people to be more cautious.


So what these new recommendations say Anderson, is you're over 60, really, you should not start taking aspirin to prevent a heart attack or stroke, bleeding risk goes up with age and 60 is the age that they sort of determined, there is really no net benefit. If you're between 40 and 59, which you and I are and, you know, think about heart disease, then you should figure out just how significant your risk is, and determine with your doctor whether or not you should be taking aspirin.

But all in all, unless your risk is significantly high, the recommendation from your doctor is probably going to come back that you shouldn't be taking it. And again, it's a risk reward relationship, the bleeding, GI bleeding, bleeding after a trauma, if you're on aspirin can be more significant. That's what this taskforce is sort of trying to balance.

COOPER: Does it still make sense for somebody who's already been taking daily aspirin or if you're not in that category of higher risk than you shouldn't?

GUPTA: Yes, I mean, this part is has always been a little bit lacking, I think, with these recommendations, because they don't address this point. So let's say you're somebody who's already been taking it for what is known as primary prevention. So, meaning that you've not ever had a heart attack or a stroke, you're just doing it to prevent it. And about 30 million people in the country fall into that category. And about 25% of those, incidentally, Anderson are doing it just on their own, it wasn't the -- their doctor necessarily recommended it.

So, you know, the taskforce doesn't get into the business of saying you should stop taking it. But I think their recommendations are pretty clear that you shouldn't start and if you are taking it, probably talk to your doctor to make sure there isn't some other reason that you've been on this. And if there's not, maybe you need to stop it as well. Really any of those ages 40, you know, and older, the again, the risk of the bleeding is the big concern here even more so than what prevention it may provide.

COOPER: In other health news, Vice President Kamala Harris's office, and now she tested positive for COVID today is now isolating at her residence at the Naval Observatory. Do we know anything about how she's feeling?

GUPTA: She says she has no symptoms at all. So this is one of those tests, routine tests that they did. And it was both a PCR test, as well as an antigen test that came back positive. She's -- so I think she was surprised because she said she has no symptoms. Keep in mind, she has been vaccinated, and then she has been boosted has had two boosters, actually. So, those are very protective against developing symptoms, not as protective, as we've seen so many times now, especially with these more contagious variants. These vaccines aren't as protective at keeping you from getting infected in the first place.

But by all accounts, she's doing fine and follow CDC guidelines in terms of isolation.

COOPER: I'm going to ask you this question about her. But it's really curious for myself as well, once she tested negative at what point should she get a booster or whatever the next step is?

GUPTA: Well --

COOPER: I tested, you know, I was positive a couple -- two or three weeks ago. Do I have immunity for a while that I don't need a booster?

GUPTA: Yes, I mean, first of all, in her case, she's actually received both boosters, I'm thinking that you're asking because you've gotten one and now you're sort of considering a second booster. Typically, you know, you wait -- you should have pretty good immunity if you've had this new variant. Now, if you've had a previous variant, what they're finding is it's not offering as much protection against the new variants. But if you've been infected recently, then most likely it was this new variant. And you should have protection for some time.

You know exactly how long it's a little bit hard to say. But some studies have suggested you know, a couple three months at least before you necessarily need another, you know, booster or anything else like that.

COOPER: All right, Sanjay, as always, thanks so much.

GUPTA: Got it. Thank you.

COOPER: Back to Ukraine ahead a report on abductions. Dozens of civilians in the early days of the Russian invasion, told (INAUDIBLE) of a Red Cross volunteer, who was once among those taken captive to Russia have been miraculously made it back alive. What she would -- what he witnessed and what he's doing now to help find the missing, next.