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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Top U.S. General: "Global International Security Order" Is At Stake Following Russia's Invasion Of Ukraine; United Nations Says Putin Agrees "In Principle" To Allow Evacuation Of Civilians From Mariupol Steel Plant; Beijing Testing Nearly 20 Million Residents Due To Omicron Outbreak. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired April 26, 2022 - 21:00   ET




ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: In all the new reporting, tonight, the atrocities, in Bucha, another mass grave, outside Mariupol, and all the rest, there's another war crime, playing out, in the shadows. Tens of thousands, of Ukrainians, being taken to Russia, against their will.

CNN's Phil Black has some of their stories.



PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): War creates powerful connections, between people.


BLACK (voice-over): Volodymyr Choprun and Nadia Yarova (ph) didn't know each other, before the Russians came. Now, he's brought her news that inspires pain and hope.

Volodymyr was recently freed, from a military detention center, in Russia. He says Nadia's (ph) grandson, Sasha (ph), was there too. For weeks, Sasha's (ph) family didn't know, if he was still alive. Seized and held, by Russian soldiers, in early March, they heard nothing, about his safety, after the invaders retreated.

Visily (ph) and Helena Hyliyk know the same pain, and uncertainty. Volodymyr has told them, he knows, their son, Dmytro, was recently alive, in the same detention center, in Russia. He says, he heard Dmytro's name, shouted every day, during roll call. There is comfort in that, but not enough, to soothe a mother's anguish.


BLACK (voice-over): "I don't have hope anymore," Helena says. "I know they are beasts. They will kill them, and no one will find them." Ukrainian officials say, dozens of people, were abducted, from around the town of Dema (ph), near Kyiv, during Russia's occupation. And most were initially held here, in a sprawling industrial site, the Russian forces, used as a command post.

BLACK (on camera): This is where they were kept?



BLACK (voice-over): Ukrainian prosecutor, Alexander Zeus (ph), shows me the conditions, those captured people, were forced to endure. A small, dark cold room. People were packed, together, here, he says. Hands bound, eyes taped.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In this place were 22 people. When they're trying to get to toilet, they need to walk, on legs, of somebody else.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because there are too much people.

BLACK (voice-over): He says, people came and went. Some spent weeks, here. Someone tried to keep track of days, by scratching marks, on the wall. He says, all the people, who came through this room, had only one thing in common. They were civilians.

Several people, who were kept here, tell us, they were frequently beaten, and interrogated, for local information. One man says, his hands and fingers were cut to the bone, by Russian soldiers, because he couldn't help them.

BLACK (on camera): Does it make any sense to you that they did this?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, no sense. I don't know exactly what kind of information they could take from these people.

BLACK (voice-over): This drone video, captures the moment, when Ukrainian forces, attack the industrial site, driving out the Russians. A number of those, who were still locked, in the room, at that time, tell us that's when all remaining captives were able to escape.

But others, including Volodymyr Choprun, had already been taken elsewhere.

A long road trip, via Belarus, in the back of a military truck, ended in Russia, where he was given this military identification document. It says, he "Resisted the special operation conducted by the President of the Russian Federation."

In reality, he was detained, while volunteering, with the Red Cross, helping people, escape the fighting.

The Ukrainian government, has confirmed, Volodymyr was returned to Ukraine, as part of a prisoner exchange, with Russia. He believes that explains why Russian forces are abducting Ukrainian civilians.


BLACK (voice-over): He says, "They took us as goods that can be exchanged later, like a mobile phone, or another commodity."

Here, Volodymyr inspects a list of more than 40 names, provided by the local government. A register of people, from the area, who are still missing. He says, he recognizes most of the names, from his time, in the Russian detention center, because he deliberately tried to remember, as much as possible.


BLACK (voice-over): He says, "Sooner or later, one of us had to be the first to be released. And that's why we tried to remember the names, of other people, to let their relatives know, they're alive."

Volodymyr says there were about 200 Ukrainians, in detention, while he was there. He hopes all will get home quickly, so the suffering they, and their families, are enduring, can end, and their healing can begin.

Phil Black, CNN, in the Kyiv region.


COOPER: Yes. Kidnapping people, as bargaining chips!

Whether it's forced deportation, shelling evacuees, and all the other horrors, of this war, goes without saying, this is not the warfare, the way, Americans, or European allies, or for that matter, the Ukrainian Armed Forces try to practice it.

However, both history, and recent events, show that this is certainly the way that Russia has, and does. And that commitment to barbarism, is just one of the reasons, cited by the NATO allies, for supporting Ukraine.

Another, as you heard, General Milley put it, a few minutes ago, is the larger threat aggression, Russian aggression, poses to the post- World War II and post-Cold War global order.

Those notions, and more, give us a lot to talk about, with our two CNN Military Analysts, tonight, retired Army four-star general and former NATO Supreme Allied Commander, Wesley Clark, and retired Army Lieutenant General Mark Hertling.

General Clark, you hear Phil Black's report. Let's just talk about what rules are for armies. I mean, the - obviously terrible things happen in war, on all sides of a conflict. People do terrible things. Militaries that have a respect, for law and order, for the rules of engagement, do punish their own troops, for misbehaving, or for breaking the law.

What do you make of what you have seen, of Russia's actions, on the ground, in occupied territories? And how does that compare to what an army that obeys the rules of war would engage in?

GEN. WESLEY CLARK (RET.), FORMER NATO SUPREME ALLIED COMMANDER, CNN MILITARY ANALYST, SENIOR FELLOW, UCLA BURKLE CENTER: Western armies are - they apply military force. They attack. They defend. They protect.

But the Soviet Army always had a strong political component. It started with the Commissars, to enforce the obedience, out of soldiers, to the Communist Party. But it's carried over into the Russian military. So, they came into this operation, determined to root-out, any potential opposition, from their - from your occupation.


So, when they go in, they're not just taking the territory. They're going in, after the civilian populace, to find out, who might be a potential resistor, who might be related, to someone, in the Ukrainian military, who might be giving information. They want to - they want to just carve-out anybody, who might potentially resist their occupation.

So, it's a political military army. And this is, of course, a war crime. This is what leads to unlawful killings, and other things. So, this is not just soldier misbehavior. That's where I want to be clear about, Anderson.

This is not just Russian soldiers saying, "Hey, there's nothing to do. But let's pick on some Ukrainians, and cut them up." No, no. This was a deliberate effort, to interrogate, to torture, to get information, to find people, to eliminate, so that the Russian occupation couldn't be resisted.

COOPER: And General Hertling, I was in Bucha, today. And on this one street, in which at least half a dozen people, more than half a dozen people, were shot, and their bodies left, to be found later, once Russian forces left.

And the eyewitnesses, I talked to, talked about an Russian APC, at the end of the block that sat there, from the beginning of March, until the end of the Russians' time there, on March 30th, or 31st.

And that people in that APC would shoot people, as they crossed the street, or as they rode their bicycles, and left the bodies out. And anybody, who tried to take the bodies, and retrieve them, to bury them, would get shot, as well.

I mean, in any other, regular army, that, would not be tolerated, obviously, right?

LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING (RET.), U.S. ARMY, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Yes. Anderson, we've been talking about this, for weeks, now. The inhumanity, and the examples of inhumanity, continues to be staggering and jaw-dropping.

For professional soldiers, for those, who are part of the profession of arms, the requirement of leadership, is to control violence. When a nation sends its army, to war, it is sought - it is seeking, to achieve a political end state. But there's morality, and ethics, involved in that.

That's why there's an ethos, in the profession of arms, why soldiers, live by a set of values. And it's inherent on leaders, of those organizations, to ensure that violence is controlled. In fact, we talk a lot about that, as leaders in the military. Our job is to control violence, to not to allow people, to get out of control.

I agree with my friend, General Clark, completely. This is not an army that, number one, has leadership. It has no professional ethos. It has no set of organizational values. And they are tied to a corrupt and inhumane political body. So, that is why they're doing what they're doing.

There are no military objectives, to be achieved in this. In fact, I would contend that it's actually stoking, the desire, of the Ukrainian military, and the population, to resist this kind of thing.

When you read history, when you read, some of the most barbaric - about the most barbarian armies, in the world, these are the kinds of things, they do. And they always lose, in the end.

Because people understand, the value, of human life, the value, of protecting society, in advancing a social system. And the Russians seem to be doing exactly the opposite of that.

COOPER: General Clark, do you believe that the Russians have had, the ability, to reconstitute their forces, to reequip, to bring new forces, to the fight, in the east. I'm wondering what you make of the Russian offensive so far.

CLARK: I think they've had difficulty, reconstituting. I think that soldiers, who've been traumatized, by that kind of defeats that they've had north of Kyiv, from are - it's hard to re-motivate those soldiers.

It's also with the Russian leadership style. The Russian leadership style is "We're going to give you some good equipment, and you go out there, and use it, and you know how to kill people with it."

But they don't really train, at the squad and individual crew level. What they have is, they have pretty well-educated generals. In the case of Kyiv, they were being directed by Putin, of course. So, it didn't look very good, militarily.

But, at the bottom, they've always relied, on artillery fire, and mass, and fear imposed, inspired, on their own soldiers, by the threat of "If you turn around and look backwards, you're going to get shot." So, I think they're going to have a very hard time, doing this.

But I will say this. The Ukrainians did suffer losses. We don't know what those losses are. Their victory hasn't been cost-free, north of Kyiv. And we're seeing some pretty desperate fighting, in the early stages, of the Donbas offensive.

[21:15:00] There's been a lot of premature exultation, by correspondents, and people, in the West, who don't understand, how vicious, this battle is going to be, with heavy artillery barrages.

If the Russians are able to unscramble, their battalion tactical groups, and line-up of 30 tanks, 90 tanks, 40 tubes, 100 tubes of artillery, and pound away, day after day, they will achieve success. They've probably got a three to one superiority, right now, in the number of artillery troops, not necessarily tanks. But Russia has always won with artillery.

And so, we're not seeing a lot about this battle, in the Western media. Reporters, aren't there, or the Ukrainians are not talking to as much about it publicly. But we know, it is a desperate struggle, for survival. And it's in the early stages.

COOPER: Yes. That's important to keep in mind.

General Clark, General Hertling, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

Next, more on the administration's push, to get aid, into Ukraine, and American diplomats, back on the ground, here. We'll get the latest, from the White House, and talk to State Department spokesman, Ned Price.



COOPER: The week began with word that another batch of American military aid, will be heading to Ukraine.

Today, Pentagon officials said that a control center, has been set up, in Stuttgart, Germany, to coordinate aid shipments. In addition to American personnel, the command post includes, from 15 other supporting nations, a sign of the massive international commitment, to Ukraine, as well as the need, to get war supplies, into Ukraine, as quickly as possible.

For more, on the Administration's role, in all this, we're joined, from the White House, by CNN's MJ Lee.

So, MJ, we heard the Defense Secretary, Austin, today, stress the importance of moving quickly, to provide Ukraine, with the military aid, it needs, saying, we've got to "Move at the speed of war."

What more is the White House saying about next steps?

MJ LEE, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Anderson. There is just so much money and aid that is pouring into Ukraine, from the U.S.

Of course, the latest announcement, coming from secretaries Blinken and Austin, announcing $713 million additional dollars that would go towards Ukraine, and other allied countries. Just to step back, for a minute, in the big picture, that means that the U.S. has committed, up until now, around $3.7 billion, to help Ukraine. And along with this, we have seen, in recent weeks, the U.S. being increasingly willing to send heavier-duty equipment, and weaponry. So, we're talking about things like Howitzers, and high-precision drones.

And this has come, as Ukrainian officials, have been very vocal, in saying, "We quite literally cannot receive this kind of help, fast enough." And that is why, we are seeing, in part, the U.S., and its allies, stepping up, and being willing, again, to send this kind of heavy-duty equipment.

COOPER: Joint Chiefs Chairman, General Milley, told Jim Sciutto that the entire global international security order, as he phrased it, put in place, after World War II, is at stake, if Russia gets away, with its actions, in Ukraine.

Has there been a shift, in tone, a broadening-out, of the stakes, from the Administration?

LEE: We are seeing a bit of a shifting in tone. This, of course, comes, on the heels of Defense Secretary, Lloyd Austin, saying, earlier this week that the U.S. would like to see Russia weakened, militarily, essentially that the U.S. wants to see Russia weakened, so much that it can't repeat, what we are seeing, happening, in Ukraine, now, in other areas of the region.

Now, this is a quite the contrast, from the past, when we've seen U.S. officials, showing a real reluctance, to engage in sort of the "Who is winning and who is losing" conversation.

I remember, I sat in, on a White House briefing, not that long ago, where White House Communications Director, Kate Bedingfield, she was asked several times, in the course of just one briefing, "Is Ukraine winning? Could Ukraine win?" And she was very, very careful, again, to not engage, in sort of that narrative, and sort of engaging, in the question, of who is winning this war.

Now, the war, as it has been more protracted, and as we have seen, just the atrocities, the images, of the horrific casualties that we're seeing, from Ukraine, there is a realization, and a growing recognition that it is so important, to try to stop Vladimir Putin, but also, to make sure that the country is weakened, including militarily, so that this kind of thing, cannot be repeated, in the future, Anderson.

COOPER: MJ Lee, appreciate it. Thank you.

More now, on all this, the Secretary of State's trip to Ukraine, and the return of American diplomats, to the country, shortly before airtime, I spoke with State Department spokesman, Ned Price.


COOPER: Ned, thanks for joining us.

When the world hears the Joint Chiefs Chairman, Milley, saying that nothing less than the international order, is at stake, in this war, which comes on the heels of the Defense Secretary Austin, saying that he wants to see Russia weakened, to the point, where they can't launch a war, like this, again, anytime soon? Has there been a shift, as far as the State Department, is concerned, about the stakes of this conflict, what the U.S. would view, as a satisfactory outcome?

NED PRICE, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESPERSON: Well, Anderson, we've been clear about the stakes, this entire time.

It is precisely why, even long before, this invasion began, we started to prepare. We started to provide, our Ukrainian partners, with security assistance. It's why we started to galvanize and to organize the world to oppose it.

And I say that because this conflict is about Russia's decision to attack Ukraine. But, in some ways, the issues are even larger than that. It is about the principle that a large country can attack a small country that a country can dictate the foreign policy, the aspirations, of any other country, around the world.


And so, when you hear the Chairman, make that statement, this morning, he's absolutely right. He's absolutely right. Because, if we don't stand up, to what the Russians are trying, to do, in Ukraine, we will undermine that international system, that international order, not only vis-a-vis, Russia, not only vis-a-vis Ukraine, but the world, over.

COOPER: You've heard the Russia's Foreign Minister Lavrov alleging that NATO is using the conflict as a proxy war against Russia, also warning today that a nuclear World War III is a serious risk.

What does the Biden administration say to that? I mean, is that just saber rattling, in response to the meeting, today?

PRICE: I think what we're seeing here, Anderson, is the Russians engage, in this bravado, in this propaganda, in this bluster, certainly as a means, by which to distract.

To distract from the fact that they're losing the war. To distract from the fact that they've lost the battle of Kyiv. To distract from the fact that their economy and financial system, is in ruins. And to distract from the fact that President Putin is now a pariah, and Russia is more isolated, than it ever has been.

We think the type of propaganda, the type of bluster that we're hearing, from the Kremlin, is deeply irresponsible. We're, of course, watching, very closely. Not only we're listening, closely, of course, to what the Russians say, but we're watching, very closely, to see what they do. And it's that that we care most about.

COOPER: Do you have any sense of what is going on, in Moldova? There was said to be an explosion there, in the Russian-held part, of that country. Is that part of a fault - in Transdniestria? Is that a false- flag operation? Are you concerned about what that might mean? PRICE: Well, we're aware there were a series of explosions, yesterday. We don't yet have all the facts. We're working, very closely, with all our Moldovan partners, and others, to discern exactly what happened.

But, of course, this is a region that has the potential, to escalate tensions, even further. We have encouraged, all sides, not to do anything, to inflame the situation.

And we've also sent a very strong message to our Moldovan partners that the United States stands with them. We stand behind the sovereignty, the independence, the territorial integrity, of our Moldovan partners. We've signaled that, in fact with our very own feet.

I was there with Secretary Blinken, just a few weeks ago. We met with the Moldovan President, and her team, to reinforce the fact that the United States stands by them. We've made significant financial commitments, to Moldova. We had a senior Moldovan delegation, here, at the State Department, just last week.

So, we're doing everything, we can, to send a very clear signal, not only to Moldova, but to anyone else, in the region, who would seek to threaten, to intimidate, to upset, this balance.

COOPER: You announced earlier, some U.S. diplomats, returned to Ukraine, today, specifically, to Lviv. When would the embassy, here, in Kyiv reopen? I mean, it's pretty safe here.

PRICE: The short answer is, as soon as we possibly can. Secretary Blinken told, President Zelenskyy, when they met, on Sunday that our diplomats would very soon be back in Ukraine. That did, in fact, take place, today.

We had our Deputy Chief of Mission, from our embassy, in Kyiv, and a small team, go across the border, to conduct business, in Lviv, Ukraine. They were able to meet with counterparts, from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. And this will continue.

And it's our goal, at the earliest possible opportunity, to have that team, back at our embassy, in Kyiv. We look forward, to reopening our embassy, to using it, as a platform, to engage concertedly, with our Ukrainian partners, and the Ukrainian people.

COOPER: Ned Price, appreciate your time. Thanks.

PRICE: Thanks, Anderson.


COOPER: Just ahead, as Russia makes yet another promise, about letting civilians leave, peacefully, from Mariupol, we're going to take a look, at the battle, for a massive steel plant, there. Fighters and civilians, holding out, and denying Vladimir Putin, a much desired victory. Details, ahead.


COOPER: The United Nations says that after a visit, by the Secretary General, Vladimir Putin has agreed, in principle, to allow the U.N., and Red Cross, to help evacuate civilians, from a massive steel plant, in the besieged port of Mariupol. Now, again, we emphasize this is an agreement, in principle.

Putin, today, also said, it was Ukraine, not letting civilians, go, even though it is his forces, shelling the city, and surrounding the plant, which has these soldiers and civilians.

CNN's Alex Marquardt has the latest, on their struggle.


ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): It's all that stands, in Vladimir Putin's way, from fully conquering Mariupol, a key prize, for the Russians.

The sprawling Azovstal steel plant, operating, on this site, for nearly a century, covering four square miles, 10 square kilometers, right on the Sea of Azov.

It's a towering complex that normally employs 10,000 people, with a maze of tunnels, pipes, and shelters, built to withstand, a nuclear blast, all below ground, and so vast that a pro-Russian commentator called it a city below a city.

It is now a fortress, for Ukrainian fighters, and the civilians they're defending.

YURIV RYZHENKOV, CEO, METINVEST: As far as we know, about 1,000 civilians, still at the shelters, at the plant.

MARQUARDT (voice-over): Since the Russians, launched their assault, on the city, in early March, the noose has tightened.

This informational video, from before the war, shows how difficult, a close-quarters fight, would be, in this huge plant, full of manufacturing facilities, offices and operations rooms.

Putin has ordered, his military, to abandon plans, to take the facility. Instead, telling his Defense Minister, to seal it off, so tightly, he said, that a fly cannot pass through.

KURT VOLKER, FORMER U.S. SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE FOR UKRAINE NEGOTIATIONS: This is a statement of convenience, by President Putin. His forces were unable, to really go in, and take the steel plant, to take all of Mariupol, without suffering even worse casualties, and even more damage, to the force.

MARQUARDT (voice-over): Ukrainian forces, inside, have said there are hundreds, of wounded soldiers and civilians. They have pleaded with the international community, to find them, a way out, sheltering below ground, with no natural light, and little news. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (FOREIGN LANGUAGE).

MARQUARDT (voice-over): "The children here, are crying, all the time. They want to play. They want to live," this woman said. "They haven't even seen daylight, for weeks." She said, supplies are running low.

The CEO of the company that owns the plant said that the underground shelters, which can hold 4,000 people, had been stocked, with two weeks to three weeks of food and water. The war started two months ago.


RYZHENKOV: To be honest, I'm surprised they still have food and water, there, in the shelters. And we couldn't get any help, into Mariupol, because the Russians did not allow us, to do this humanitarian convoys, into the city.

MARQUARDT (voice-over): The prospects, of holding the plant, and Mariupol, look grim. Controlling it means, Putin would control land, stretching all the way, from Crimea, to western Russia, a long-held goal.

VOLKER: Even if Mariupol falls, and these poor people, are killed, and transported away, it doesn't mean that Russia will hold it. The Ukrainians are getting better and better organized, better and better equipped, and they are going to continue fighting.

MARQUARDT (voice-over): Alex Marquardt, CNN, Washington.


COOPER: So, for perspective, on the state of the war, and specifically, about the allegations, of Russia war crimes, we were discussing earlier, in the broadcast, we have Iuliia Mendel, a journalist, and former spokesperson, for Ukraine's President Zelenskyy.

Ms. Mendel, Vladimir Putin said today that Russia and Ukraine had managed to achieve, what he called, a serious breakthrough, during negotiations, back in Istanbul. But that the situation changed, in his words, dramatically, following the allegations, against Russia, of war crimes, in Bucha.

Does that make any sense to you?


Actually, everything that is said, from Russian side, never makes any sense to me. And it's very difficult, to negotiate with Russia, because Russia behaves as a terrorist state, and they are changing their positions, all the time. They are manipulating. And it's really very difficult to come up to some conclusion.

COOPER: Was there progress in Istanbul? And I don't understand how he says that Bucha would have changed any kind of situation. I mean, he's claiming obviously that what happened to Bucha didn't happen in Bucha. He's - it's sticking to the Russian lie that this was all made-up.

MENDEL: Yes, this is absolutely ridiculous, because Russia is a golden champion, in propaganda, and fake news creation.

Of course, they cannot recognize the fact that Russian army that is so much prized by domestic Russian state-controlled propaganda, actually turned into animals that made such atrocities, to ordinary unarmed civilians, who were just living peaceful life.

Right now, we understand that many ambassadors, many mediators, try to influence Putin, and the Head of the U.N., Antonio Guterres, is the only one of many people, who tried to reach him, explaining why it is important, for Ukraine, for Russia, and for the world, to stop this brutal and cynical invasion.

Actually, Ukraine does not see much progress in negotiations, these days. And Russia keeps demanding more and more.

COOPER: How important was the meeting between President Zelenskyy, and the Secretary of State, and Secretary of Defense, from the United States, as well as this meeting of military leaders, from NATO, and elsewhere, today?

MENDEL: Absolutely. This meeting was not important - was important, not only for Volodymyr Zelenskyy. But it was important, for every Ukrainian, here. So many people were following it.

On Sunday, when the Secretary of State, and the Secretary of Defense, came to Ukraine, there were shellings, not only in the east and south of Ukraine, but also in the west and central Ukraine. And still, they took the train, and they went through all Ukraine, to Kyiv.

At that moment, Russia hit five of train stations, in Ukraine, maybe trying to threaten American officials. But that show that American officials came to Ukraine, when the war actually was ongoing, and when they actually were risking, a lot, were putting under risk, their lives, to come here. That meant a lot.

COOPER: Kherson, in southern Ukraine that, is your hometown. Officials, in Ukraine, are saying today that pro-Russian forces, are struggling, to hold a referendum, there, but succeeded in changing the regional government.

I'm wondering, what you're hearing, from people, in the city, about all of that.

MENDEL: I'm in touch with the citizens, and my family, from Kherson, itself, and Kherson region, in general, every day, because I have a lot of relatives there. This is one of the most heartbreaking things that is happening to me.

Russia installs their regime. There are no any freedoms there. There is accumulation of human rights, violation of human rights. And it's carried there. There is this atmosphere of fear. People can be damaged, wounded, killed, raped, and nobody can stand for them, there. People don't want Russia there.


My father is celebrating his 61st birthday, today. And he said, he's not leaving the land, and he's waiting, for the Ukrainian army, to come, to Kherson, to release Kherson.

COOPER: I also understand that your fiance has joined the fight, on the front, in Ukraine. How is he doing?

MENDEL: He returned several days ago. My fiance was staying, in the south of Ukraine. It was important for him to be near Kherson. There was heavy fighting, and shelling. And I was getting this terrible messages, from him.

It's really very difficult, to look into the telephone, to understand that there is no connection. He's somewhere there in the shelling, and you don't know, if he's going to come back, call back, when he's going to come back. But this is even bad, to complain, because I understand that this is the fate, of Ukrainians, now, to fight. And I am proud that he made that decision.

COOPER: Iuliia Mendel, I appreciate your time tonight. Thank you.

MENDEL: Thank you, Anderson.

COOPER: A new January 6 exclusive ahead. CNN has obtained even more text messages that shed light on what some loyalists, to the former President, were saying privately, in the run-up to the insurrection.

You can see how far one GOP member in Congress, particularly went, to try and overturn the election, next.



COOPER: A little-known GOP congressman has so far refused to voluntarily cooperate with the January 6 committee. But the panel has a trove, of his surprising text messages, from the days, after Trump lost the 2020 election. And now, so do we see.

CNN's Ryan Nobles, with the exclusive.



RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Congressman Scott Perry, of Pennsylvania, has been steadfast, in pushing the Big Lie that the 2020 election was stolen.

REP. SCOTT PERRY (R-PA): President's going to win Georgia. The President's going to win North Carolina. It's all going to come down to the Keystone State. NOBLES (voice-over): But a new batch of text messages, obtained by CNN, which have not previously been reported, illuminate how active he was, behind-the-scenes, as well. New messages showing he had a role, at almost every turn, in scheming, to reverse or delay the certification, of the 2020 election.

On November 12th, five days after the election was called, for Joe Biden, Perry texted Chief of Staff, Mark Meadows. "From an Intel friend: DNI needs to task NSA to immediately seize and begin looking for international comms related to Dominion. Was China malware involved?"

This text has never been revealed before. And it shows Perry, encouraging Meadows, to get John Ratcliffe, then the Director of National Intelligence, to look into false conspiracies, about Dominion voting machines, being hacked, by the Chinese.

Perry also claimed, the quote, Brits were behind the plot, and that CIA Director, Gina Haspel was, quote, covering for them. He texted, Meadows, "DNI needs to be tasked to audit their overseas accounts at CIA - and their National Endowment for Democracy."

Despite the push from Perry, a source tells CNN, Meadows did not approach Ratcliffe, about those requests.

Perry also was insistent that Meadows put DOJ official, Jeffrey Clark, in a position, to investigate voter fraud claims. Perry was the one, who introduced Clark, to Trump.

On December 26, Perry texted "Mark, you should call Jeff. I just got off the phone with him and he explained to me why the principal deputy won't work especially with the FBI. They will view it as as not having the authority to enforce what needs to be done."

Meadows responded, "I got it. I think I understand. Let me work on the deputy position."

And Perry replied, "Roger. Just sent you something on Signal."

While, the committee has access to these text messages, they do not have access, to any communication, on encrypted apps, like Signal. That is part of why they've asked Perry to appear before the committee, something he has refused to do.

Meadows handed over these texts to the committee. And more than 2,000 of them have been obtained by CNN. They show Meadows, at the nexus, of a campaign, to prevent the certification, of the election.


NOBLES: And we went in search of Scott Perry, today, to get an explanation, as to exactly what he was looking for, from Mark Meadows, if he had any evidence of these conspiracy theories that he was spouting to the then-Chief of Staff.

His staff ignored all of our requests. So, I found him today at the Capitol, Anderson, asked him to respond. All he would say to me, today, is "Heck no." Scott Perry with no explanation for the very specific effort that he made to try and prevent the certification of the 2020 election. Anderson.

COOPER: Yes. He probably only communicates, on Signal, now!

Ryan Nobles, appreciate it. Thank you.

For nearly one month, Shanghai has been on a strict COVID lockdown, with many residents, now blocked, from leaving their homes. The Chinese capital, Beijing, could be facing a similar situation, as the city's trying to rush to contain a new Omicron outbreak.

We'll have the latest, on that, next.



COOPER: As China battles its biggest COVID waves, yet, since the start of pandemic, panic is growing, around Beijing, as the city is rolling out a mass COVID testing, for nearly 20 million residents, after a total of 80 cases had been reported, since Friday.

The new COVID outbreak is also sparking fears, of a mass lockdown, in Beijing, as one of China's biggest cities, Shanghai is nearly a month, into their strict lockdown, after an outbreak spiraled, into tens of thousands of cases.

Joining me now, in Shanghai, CNN Correspondent, David Culver.

So David, describe what's happening in Shanghai.

DAVID CULVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Bluntly, it is a real mess, right now, Anderson. I mean, you got tensions, rising. Fatigue and frustration, also going up. It's seemingly endless, with this lockdown.

And I was just reading through my neighbors' group chat. That's how we all have to communicate with each other.

And more importantly, that's how we communicate, with our community liaison. Literally, the gatekeeper here. Each community here, is responsible, for the implementation, of China's zero-COVID strategy, receiving orders, from the top.

And, in my own neighborhood, there have been fights, there have been tears, residents asking, just a few hours ago, "Why are you dragging us out to another daily COVID test?"

Mind you, in the past 43 days that my community has been locked down, we've had roughly the same number of PCR and antigen tests, in that time period. And yet, the lockdown, it's tightening, Anderson. You've got fences going up. People in some parts of the city being caged in. More roads being barricaded, this week. There were no real signs of any easing of this lockdown. And even when the government now tries to reassure that there's a roadmap, out of this, people are no longer buying it. Anderson, there is a major credibility issue, with officials, now.

COOPER: So wait, can you leave your house, your apartment?

CULVER: So, I can technically leave, with permission, from the community liaison. I've got to reach out to them. Once they message me back, and give me permission, they'll let me leave.

But they're going to ask me, "Where do you need to go?" If I need to deliver something to the trash, or go get a COVID test, they'll determine whether or not that's allowed. For now, trash is just piling up in the terrace!


COOPER: And in Beijing, mass testing is taking place. How many positive tests have they had? And could there be a lockdown, there?

CULVER: All right. So, we just got the new numbers, from just a short time ago. And officially - these are government figures, we've got to stress. They are at 107 cases, since this outbreak began, last week.

But, for now, it's calm, in the capital city. We've got a team up there too. And, over the weekend, they did notice that there was panic-buying, and people stocking up. But empty shelves were quickly replenished. I mean, that would be a dream here, in Shanghai.

Nearly 20 million residents, in Beijing, now required to get three PCR tests, this week alone. That's essentially the entire population. They do have some targeted lockdowns, Anderson. And officials, while they're calling this urgent and grim, they realize that it could get bad.

However, it's also possible, Anderson that, after what played out here in Shanghai, Beijing may try to get ahold of the outbreak, there, and try to show the world, "See? Zero COVID! It works!"

COOPER: David Culver, man, you get out of there soon!

We'll be right back.


COOPER: Stay with CNN, for the latest, from Ukraine.

The news continues. Want to hand it over to Don Lemon, for "DON LEMON TONIGHT."