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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

U.S. Ambassador: Credible Information That Russian Forces Executed Ukrainians Attempting To Surrender; Putin Vows "Lightning- Fast" Response To Foreign Interference In Ukraine; Leaked Audio: McCarthy Feared Far-Right GOP Lawmakers Put People "In Jeopardy." Aired 9-10p ET

Aired April 27, 2022 - 21:00   ET




ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: If there is a single thread, running through Russia's invasion, of this country, it is brutality. Brutality and inhumanity on a scale really not seen, not in Europe, at least, since the Second World War.

We've certainly seen, with our own eyes, what so many Ukrainians, have endured, over the last two months. And we've seen it in the eyes of too many people here to count.

Tonight, recognition of that reality, in a very specific way, from America's Ambassador-at-Large for Global Criminal Justice.


AMB. BETH VAN SCHAACK, AMBASSADOR-AT-LARGE FOR GLOBAL CRIMINAL JUSTICE: We now have credible information that a Russian military unit operating in the vicinity of Donetsk executed Ukrainians, who were attempting to surrender, rather than take them into custody.

If true, this would be a violation of a core principles of the laws of war: the prohibition against the summary execution of civilians and of combatants who are hors de combat by virtue of surrender, injury, or other forms of incapacitation.

These images and reports suggest that atrocities are not the result of rogue units or individuals. They, rather, reveal a deeply disturbing pattern of systematic abuse, across all areas where Russia's forces are engaged.


COOPER: "Our simple message, to Russia's military and political leadership," she said, is this, "The world is watching," which brings us now to CNN's Nick Paton Walsh. But a warning, first. His story, tonight, is very tough to stomach.

Nick, talk about what you have been seeing and hearing. NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: Well, certainly, to the south of where I'm standing, Kryvyi Rih, there are a number of villages, particularly now in the crosshairs, of a renewed Russian offensive, pushing north, to where I am. Some of them, though, were held, in fact, earlier, by Russia, prior to their liberation, by the Ukrainian military.


And one story, we heard, involves, their behavior, of one particular Russian unit, in a village, not far from where I'm standing.

And, as you pointed out, we should remind people, this is a graphic story, of quite horrifying content, involving the sexual assault of a 16-year-old pregnant girl, by Russian troops, who were only briefly, in the village, where she was living.

Again, I should warn you, this report does contain some disturbing content.


PATON WALSH (voice-over): It's from these gentle shrugs of villages, lazy and clean, in the green expanses, of Kherson region, that some of this war's ugliest crimes are being dragged into the light.

This is Dasha (ph). She's 16, and was six months pregnant, when just over a month ago, Russian forces came to her village here. Her family, were in the basement, sheltering from bombs, the cold, and the Russians shooting, in the air, or at cars and legs, she said.

At dusk, they brought the children out to the kitchen to eat, where there were two soldiers, one drunk.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): He asked how old every one was. There was a girl there who is 12, another one, 14, and I, 16. First he called my mother into another room. He let her go quickly.

Then he called for me and he started to shout. Well, first he started telling me to undress. I told him that I will not, and he started shouting at me. He said that if I don't undress he will kill me.

PATON WALSH (voice-over): His sober colleague, then came in, and told the drunk attacker, to stop, to no avail, and left.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): When I resisted, he was strangling me and he was saying that he'll kill me and he said, "Either you sleep with me now, or I will bring 20 more men."

PATON WALSH (voice-over): By then, night had fallen in the cold house.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I just remember that he had blue eyes. It was dark there and I don't remember more.

PATON WALSH (voice-over): She heard the Russian say her attacker's name was Blue (ph). He was from Donetsk, and had a criminal past. He tried to attack her again, she said, until Russian snipers later came, to help her.

PATON WALSH (on camera): But still some of the Russian soldiers, in that unit, even, were disgusted by what happened, and tried to move her, and part of her family, away to safety, and then began a process, in which Russian soldiers seemed to try to get her, to go back, on the claim, she made.

PATON WALSH (voice-over): Two days later, she was taken to a Russian paratrooper commander, who, she said, began shouting at her, like her attacker had.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): He said he would do to me the same as what the rapist did. I was so frightened I started crying. He said it was a test for him to check whether I was lying or telling the truth.

PATON WALSH (voice-over): It seems, they did believe her. But the fate of her rapist remains unclear.

While we can't independently verify her harrowing story, Ukrainian prosecutors, told us, they have investigated the case, and confirmed this attack, which they said was a war crime. But like so much, here, the question, why, is the one, without a humane, palatable answer.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): If we hadn't gotten out to eat, he wouldn't have seen us, and then maybe he wouldn't have touched me. We were told that he was going around the village looking for someone he could, "A girl of easy virtue" as they said.

PATON WALSH (voice-over): There are lives here that you can see Russia has changed forever. But also those, whose trauma sits beneath the surface, and lives on.


COOPER: Nick joins us now.

It is just a horrifying story. I know you reached out to the Russian Ministry of Defense, about this allegation. What did they say?

PATON WALSH: They have not responded, Anderson. In the past, I think they have suggested such claims are part of a pattern, to try and paint Russian forces, in a bad light.

But frankly, the systematic nature of so many of the claims that we've been hearing, so similar, do suggest their veracity, as does in fact the conversations we've had with the Ukrainian Prosecutors' Offices, here, who say they, through the victim's testimony, and what they refer to as investigative work that they've done have essentially confirmed her story, which they, as you heard in that report, they believe, is a war crime, Anderson


COOPER: Yes, Nick Paton Walsh, just horrifying. Given that report, given everything, we have all seen, and heard, for ourselves, here, and in light of tonight's new American assessment, of Russian culpability, already for war crimes, and potentially genocide, as well, it's, we're taking a step back, and looking at what this all adds up to, which is why we're joined tonight, by Fareed Zakaria, Host of CNN's "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS."

Fareed, I mean, stories, like this one, Nick reported on, I mean, allegations of rape, other alleged war crimes, in places, like Bucha, where we saw just citizens, on the street, day after day, being shot to death? While they all may have the effect of terrorizing the local population, they're also galvanizing much of the world, against Russia.

Is there any reason to think that global outrage will have any sort of impact, on Vladimir Putin's course of action? It certainly hasn't thus far.

FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST, FAREED ZAKARIA GPS: It won't have an impact, on his course of action.

The only thing Putin understands is power. The only thing he would understand is military defeat, in the south, not even economic pressure, not even economic sanctions, particularly, not while we are sending $350 billion, a year, to Vladimir Putin, to pay for oil and gas and coal.

But it does have an effect, Anderson, in setting a kind of moral standard of outrage, bearing witness, holding this testimony, for the possible prosecution, at some point. There have to be standards, there have to be norms, even when they cannot be enforced.

And, I think, the reason this jars all of us, is it reminds us, perhaps something we needed to be reminded, which was, this can happen anywhere. Human beings can be brutal, and venal, and murderous, and barbaric.

There's a sense in which, as you know, a lot of people, outside the West, ask, "Why are you so surprised now? I mean, this has been happening in Yemen, or Syria, or places or Afghanistan."

Well, the reason is, Europe was really founded on the idea that it was - it had overcome these pathologies, this murderous past. And it went through the worst of it, in World War II.

And then, we were reminded that you can have a very advanced, very civilized country, so-called civilized country, like Germany, which in many ways lead the world, in science and industry. And yet, it could commit (ph) murderous acts.

Well, we're seeing it again. Russia is a modern country. It's a relatively wealthy country. It's, in some senses, part of Europe.

But you are seeing a kind of level of brutality, and mayhem, and really just sheer evil that should remind us all that, being rich and powerful doesn't mean that you are somehow absolved from normal, from - you can still be very evil. And, I think, we have lost the language of recognizing this. People often say to me, "Is Putin irrational? Is he ill," because they don't want to confront. He may not be irrational. He may not be ill. He's just evil. And evil still exists in the world.

COOPER: The move, by Russia, today, of cutting off its natural gas, to Poland, to Bulgaria, it's obviously, a warning, to other countries, which are vulnerable to this. Are you surprised this hasn't happened sooner?

ZAKARIA: Actually, no, Anderson, because it's a very, it's a dramatic move. It's a drastic move. And it suggests to me that the Russians are feeling the heat.

Russia has been very careful, through all its turmoils, with 2014 invasion of Ukraine, 2008 invasion of Georgia, they always kept the gas lines running.

Because they understood that their money, what finances Putin's kleptocratic war machine, is the money coming in. And they wanted to always seem, to be a reliable supplier of energy, in return for which they expected to get money.

The fact that they are now, withholding, using energy, as a weapon, tells you that they're in tough shape that they understand that the next stage may be perhaps not a full embargo, on Russian energy, but some reductions. So, they're trying to play - to kind of play by - punish the Poles, send a signal, to the European Union.

But it's not a sign of strength. It's a sign that the pressure is hurting, because they've never done this before. And it tells you that this is the weapon we should be thinking about more and more. We can get at Russia's oil revenues, its gas revenues, its coal revenues. That is what flows directly, to Putin.


Stop taking all these yachts, from Russian billionaires. I mean, I don't care one way or the other why you take them. It has no effect on Putin. Putin doesn't depend on these people, for power. They depend on him.

We have the causal - that we have the causality wrong. Stop the money that is going, directly, to Vladimir Putin, to fund his war machine.

COOPER: Fareed Zakaria, appreciate it. Fareed, thanks.

Coming up next, new reporting, on what went on, behind-the-scenes, in the prisoner swap that brought freedom, for American, Trevor Reed, after more than two and a half years, in Russian captivity. And former Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, on that, and the Cold War chill as a backdrop to it.

Later, also, my conversation, with a photographer, who's captured some of the most indelible images of the war, ahead.



COOPER: After two and a half years, in Russian captivity, two hunger strikes, and apparently in deteriorating health, Trevor Reed, the American Marine vet, is homeward-bound.

How it came about is like something out of a Cold War spy movie. The fact that it happened at all at a moment of such powerful Cold War vibes is a story in itself. We'll talk, in a moment, about that, with former Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper.

But first, CNN's Kylie Atwood, joins us.

So, officials, from both, inside and outside, the U.S. government, had been working, Kylie, to get Reed, released, for years. What details have you learned?

KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER: Yes. This was a problem, for years, because Trevor Reed was detained in 2019. So, it's been a few years that U.S. government officials have been focused on this case.

But, over the last few months, that is really, when the wheels started churning, on this, and when U.S. officials say, they really started working on something that they could see an end, this happening, this, release actually happening.

And, I think, it's significant to note, as you said, Anderson that this comes as the Ukraine war is raging on. So, there wasn't a whole lot of positive momentum, or positive talk, about this release, actually happening. It was quite surprising, when it was announced, this morning.

But, I think, Biden administration officials were very clear, in saying that they pulled this off, because they had limited conversations, with Russia, in a specific channel, about the release of Trevor Reid.

And those conversations didn't also include anything having to do with the war in Ukraine. But this release is not going to change their position, when it comes to being critical of Russia, for that invasion of Ukraine.

And we should also note that Trevor Reed's health is one of the key factors, here. Over the last year or so, he had deteriorating health, as you mentioned. He had COVID-19, last year. His family said that he was experiencing symptoms of tuberculosis. And so, they were quite concerned about that. And the Administration officials say that that is one of the things that drove the urgency, of getting him released.

COOPER: I mean, clearly, his family is overjoyed.

ATWOOD: Overjoyed! They talked about the fact that they got a call, last week, saying that something positive may have - may be coming. And, every time, they got a phone call, they were on pins and needles, that's their words, describing it, just hoping that it was the call that they finally got, this morning.

But one interesting thing here is that there is another American, who is also an ex-Marine, who is also, wrongfully detained, in Russia. And he wasn't released, today. That's Paul Whelan. And the family of Trevor Reed feels really connected, to Paul Whelan, and his family.

Just listen to what Trevor Reed's parents, said, today, about the fact that they were so connected to Paul Whelan, they didn't even know if Trevor Reed would leave, if Paul Whelan wasn't by his side.


PAULA REED, PARENT OF TREVOR REED: We hope that the Whelan family, it's going to be having a reunion, just like ours, soon.

JOEY REED, PARENT OF TREVOR REED: We believed, at one point, before the - before our government started considering, this trade, which I think the Russians had basically been directly or indirectly suggesting, for a year or two that if they were to take our son, and not Paul Whelan that our son might try and refuse to come home. Not wanting to leave another.

P. REED: He doesn't want to leave another Marine there.


ATWOOD: Paul Whelan's family, obviously, welcoming Trevor Reed, coming back to the United States, but concerned about their son.

And also, of course, Brittney Griner, the WNBA star, she is also still wrongfully detained, in Russia.


COOPER: Kylie Atwood, appreciate it. Thank you.

Want to get perspective now, on this, and how it fits into the larger confrontation, now, between the U.S. and Russia, including today, another thinly veiled threat, from Vladimir Putin.

Joining us now, CNN National Security Analyst, and former Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper.

Director Clapper, appreciate you joining us. What significance, if any, should people draw, from the fact that a prisoner exchange, was able to be negotiated, now, when relations, certainly between the Russia and the United States, are at their worst?

LT. GEN. JAMES CLAPPER (RET.), FORMER DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, I think it's quite significant that somehow we can - we - both we and the Russians are able to insulate the animosity, and bad blood that surrounds the Russian invasion, of Ukraine, and still get on with other business.

And it's like the START agreement, which is the one remaining arms control agreement that we have with Russia, which where, both we and they are still in nominal compliance with. So, I think, it's on balance, a good thing. And hopefully, this will, at some point, lead to further releases.


But the Russians, above all, are being pragmatist here. And when they figure it's in their interests, I think, Trevor Reed's declining health probably had a lot to do with their decision to make the trade. So, it's a good thing that we can still get on, with some business, apart from the invasion.

COOPER: Vladimir Putin made another veiled nuclear threat, today, saying, quote, "If someone intends to interfere in what is going on from the outside, they must know that constitutes an unacceptable strategic threat to Russia. They must know that our response to counter strikes will be lightning fast."

I'm wondering what your reaction to that kind of saber rattling is.

CLAPPER: Just to pick up on a point that Fareed Zakaria made, in the previous segment, about - I think, this reflects Russian insecurity. And it's almost like, Putin needs a rhetorical security blanket, of making threats, like this.

And the frequency with which they are occurring, tells me that they're kind of in - they realize they're kind of in a jam. And, I think, it's not in this - it's in the same category, as suspending the gas shipments, to Poland and Bulgaria, because they're in dire straits.

So, to me, more and more, and the frequency of these, whether it's by Putin himself, or Lavrov, or whomever, these threats, which to me are kind of hollow, if that's the red line, then we're exceeding it many times over.

I think it has more to do with the psychology of Putin, and Russia. And he needs to assure his own people, Parliamentarians, he was talking to, and for that matter, himself, that Russia is still a great power. And, of course, remind everyone else of that, specifically the United States.

COOPER: The Russian officials reported this fire, at an ammunition depot, this morning, inside the Russian border, about 50 miles away, from the border, with Ukraine. Blasts were also reported, two other sites, inside Russia, around the same time.

Ukrainian officials, they haven't claimed responsibility, for the incidents, or similar ones, over the past few weeks. One of the Ukrainian official did mention something about karma being tough.

What does it mean, though, for this war, if Ukraine is striking targets, inside Russia?

CLAPPER: Well, I think, the question is, how much of that can Russia tolerate?

I also think it's, why should Russia get a pass just because they have troops, over the border, who are being supplied, particularly from the Belgorod, which is a logistical complex, for the Russians.

Well, the Ukrainians see that, understand that, and understand the impact that - doing that has on, the pressure they're under, along the battle line. So, when you - I thought the kind of whimsical statement, of the Ukrainian official, was actually kind of cool.

COOPER: Director Clapper, I appreciate your time, tonight. Thank you very much.

CLAPPER: Thanks, Anderson.

COOPER: Up next, I'll speak with a photographer, who took this haunting photo, showing the harsh reality that many Ukrainians, now face, in this war.



COOPER: As the war in Ukraine, enters its third month, we're not only reminded deadly attacks, against civilians. We're also reminded of the struggles, Ukrainian troops, face, as they put their lives, on the line, to defend their homeland, their communities, and their families.

For many, that fight comes at a tremendous cost. That is the story of this Ukrainian soldier, whose photo on the front page of the "New York Times," today shows him standing, over his twin brother's open coffin, after he was killed, this month, along with nearly two dozen fellow soldiers, in an artillery strike.

The brothers volunteered to fight, just two weeks, after the invasion began, leaving behind their family. The twins are just 21-years-old.

More now, on this, from Finbarr O'Reilly, the photographer, on assignment, for the "New York Times," who took those images, showing us the reality, of this war.

Finbarr, this photo, you took, is really haunting. These twin, young men, born 15 minutes apart, according to their mom, now one of them is gone. Can you just talk a little bit about what you saw, and how this came about, you being there at the funeral?

FINBARR O'REILLY, PHOTOGRAPHER FOR THE NEW YORK TIMES: Yes, sure. I mean, as this war grinds on, now into its third month, there's a steady flow of funerals, here in Lviv, in western Ukraine, where I am based.

And I've been covering them, for the last couple of weeks, among the other stories that I've been doing. And this one was a little different, from the other ones, in the sense that the family was from a different region. So, it was smaller than the other funerals, which often gather hundreds of people, in one of the large cathedrals here.

This one, there was no church ceremony. It was just straight to the cemetery. And this is a cemetery that has now overflowed. So, they've started burying the soldiers, in a field, adjacent to the cemetery. And the cemetery has really become a place, where parents are burying their children, rather than the other way round.

And, on this occasion, it was an open casket funeral. With the military funerals, you don't always see that. But as the casket was placed, on that pedestal, in front of the open grave, the lid was removed. And, one by one, the family members stepped forward, to pay their final respects, to Ehor Kihitov.

And one of the family members, who did that, was his twin brother, Hlib. And he was very stoic, during the whole thing. He didn't show any emotion. He would just sit there, for a moment, placed his palm, on his brother's forehead, and then stepped away, and kind of moved into the background, of the handful of family members, and other soldiers, who were there.


Quite strikingly, his mum was exactly the opposite. She actually came up to me, in the middle of the funeral, and the burial, and began to talk to me about her son, Ehor, who she said had, during the first two weeks, of the war, hidden and lived, in a metro station, in Kyiv. Eventually followed, to here, to Lviv, in the west.

The whole family was from the Dnipro region, which is kind of central eastern Ukraine. And so, they didn't have a lot of people, here, to mark the death of Ehor.

But it seemed like, by telling me much of his life story, how he'd been a champion marksman, how he'd gone to volunteer, for the army, and initially, they'd said, "No, we only need people with experience," and then he brought up his skill, with a weapon, and they said, "OK, then maybe you can be of use."

And she went on to tell me that when he volunteered, she asked him, "Are you sure?" And his response to her, as she explained was, "Well, if not me, then who?" She just, yes, she just did not want to stop talking, about her son, throughout the funeral. And it was really quite moving.

She actually, she came toward me, and she embraced me. And, as a journalist, you often try to maintain a little bit of distance. But, in this case, I embraced her back, and yes, just let her tears fall on my shoulder, for that moment.

COOPER: You never know how people are going to react. And when a mother loses a son, often, they want the world to know, about their child, about who that person was that they're not just a statistic. They're not just somebody, a casualty of war. That they - they want you to know, they want us all to know, about who they were.

Do you - do you think his brother is - his brother will return to combat?

O'REILLY: I would imagine, yes, that the brother - he didn't want to talk. He was very reticent. And he actually kind of waved me off a little bit, as I was taking pictures. And, as a photographer, you need to respect that distance. So, he didn't want to talk. I didn't have the chance to ask him that question. But I would expect that yes, he will continue - he will continue to fight, and he will do whatever, he can, to contribute to the war effort, on behalf of his country.

COOPER: Well, I'm so glad that his mom, saw you, and wanted you there, and wanted you to know about her son, so that you could tell us about him, as well.

Finbarr O'Reilly, I really appreciate it. Your work for "New York Times," extraordinary. Thank you.

O'REILLY: Thank you as well.

COOPER: Well, there's the stark reality of the war that we can all see. Then there're the conspiracy theories that Vladimir Putin tries to convince people, to see. How much is he starting to buy, his own disinformation?

A Russian media historian, joins me, with his assessment, next.



COOPER: Earlier here, in Kyiv, I spoke with U.N. Secretary General, Antonio Guterres. He met with Vladimir Putin, in Moscow, yesterday, calling that conversation very useful.


ANTONIO GUTERRES, U.N. SECRETARY-GENERAL: Because it was possible to tell President Putin, the same things that, I say, in New York, or I'll be able to say here, in Kyiv, which means that the Russian invasion is against the Charter of the United Nations. It's a violation of the territorial integrity of Ukraine. And that this war must end as quickly as possible. And, at the same time, our concerns about violations, of the international humanitarian law, human rights law, the possibility of war crimes.


COOPER: Vladimir Putin, for his part, has denied Russian troops have committed, any war crimes, in Ukraine.

In an essay, for the "New York Times," Ilya Yablokov, a historian of Russian media, makes the case that since the war began, any gap, between the propaganda, and Kremlin policy, is now at a vanishing point. He's also the Author of "Fortress Russia: Conspiracy Theories in the Post-Soviet World."

I spoke to him, earlier.


COOPER: Ilya, thanks so much, for joining us. I want to talk about your "New York Times" Op-Ed, in just a moment.

But first, Vladimir Putin, just yesterday, said 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, which seems just patently false on the face of it.

Does it come, though, as any surprise to you that Putin, is completely denying responsibility, for what happened, in Bucha?

ILYA YABLOKOV, HISTORIAN OF RUSSIAN MEDIA, AUTHOR, "FORTRESS RUSSIA: CONSPIRACY THEORIES IN THE POST-SOVIET WORLD": Not at all. I think, it is done, specifically, to muddy the waters again. There is a clear war lobby inside Russia that probably pressures Putin, deliver certain reports, and certain information, so he could make a decision.

And two, certainly, the massacres in Bucha, really changed the rules of the game. Well, first of all, because it's pretty hard, to deny, what's been done, by the Russian army, and two, the narratives, what happened in Bucha, on the side of the Kremlin, were constantly changing.

So, if you look what's been said, by the Kremlin, in the first days, after the events, in Bucha, the Kremlin spokesmen were saying, "Look, it's all staged. It's fake. There were bodies that were moving, on the footage." Now, they've changed this narrative, again.

COOPER: Your Op-Ed for the "New York Times," is fascinating, because it examines conspiracies theories that Vladimir Putin has essentially weaponized. That always existed in Russia. But that Putin didn't himself didn't really seem to embrace or promote, that was left to others.

But now, you write, "Conspiratorial thinking has taken complete hold of the country, from top to bottom, and now seems to be the motivating force behind the Kremlin's decisions. And Mr. Putin, who previously kept his distance, from conspiracy theories, leaving their circulation, to state media and second-rank politicians, is their chief promoter."

Can you just talk about these conspiracy theories, which really center on the West, and Russia as a victim of the West?


YABLOKOV: Yes. Well, those started in the 2000s, first of all, the failure, to secure the victory, in Ukraine, in 2004 and 2005. That's the start of Kremlin's conspiracy theories.

They spread to the framing of the Russian opposition, as the main enemy, and the main ally, of the West, of the U.S., first and foremost.

And then, it spreads towards LGBT community that is portrayed as the dangerous other that brainwashes the kids. And we know all these anti- LGBT rhetoric, is coming, in a very conspiratorial way, starting from the Pussy Riot campaign, in 2012.

And again, it comes back, in the period, after the annexation of Crimea, as the main tenet, of the Russian ideology. There is nothing left of the Soviet ideology. There is - Russia is a very capitalist neoliberal country, even.

But there is one tenant that comes from the Soviet ideology, and that's the hate towards the West. And it turns into a paranoid hate, of the West, after 2014 that we see is really creeping into legislation, into the amendments, to the Russian constitution, in 2020.

But also, as Christo Grozev, from Bellingcat, showed into the textbooks of Russian officers, who also say this guide books, they say that Russian officers are defending Russia, and I quote, from the "Satanic New World Order." That phrase should resonate a lot to your American audience. But, in Russia, that's a novelty. But it's been ingrained into the Russian ideology.

COOPER: And these conspiracy theories, I mean, they are believed, by many, in Russia. I mean, I saw some polls, on attitudes, toward gay people--


COOPER: --in Russia--


COOPER: --after Putin started pushing them. And they work.

YABLOKOV: Yes, totally. They have very powerful element of social mobilization. It's not only about the gay people. It is about the hate towards the U.S. It's the hate towards the U.K. It's very kind of - it's a very general enemy. And it's very abstract one.

And, as we can see, for example, today, Putin, again, gave a speech, in front of the MPs. And he said, repeated again and again, "Russia is fighting the global conspiracy. Russians are hated around the world. And we are doing the right thing, by attacking Ukraine, because now we are in war with the West." So, it is the official ideology now.

COOPER: Ilya Yablokov, I appreciate your time. Thank you so much. A really fascinating Op-Ed!

YABLOKOV: Thank you so much, Anderson. Thank you.


COOPER: Coming up, we'll turn to the battle, for the future, of the GOP. How lawmakers are reacting after top House Republican Kevin McCarthy is heard criticizing some of his fellow conservatives, in Congress, following January 6.

The audio, next.



COOPER: Tonight, House Minority Leader, Kevin McCarthy, is facing backlash, from several fringe members, of his caucus, following a new audio leak, first reported by the "New York Times." The recordings reveal that in the wake of the January 6 attack, McCarthy was worried that his far-right colleagues, could incite even more violence.

CNN's Ryan Nobles, tonight, with the GOP's internal struggles, as it tries to focus on the midterms.


RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Critical words, from House Minority Leader, Kevin McCarthy, about Congressman Matt Gaetz, and others, caught on tape.

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): Well, he's putting people in jeopardy, and he doesn't need to be doing this. We saw what people would do in the Capitol, you know? And these people came prepared with rope, with everything else.

I do not want to look back and think we caused something, or we missed something, and someone got hurt.

NOBLES (voice-over): This morning, Republicans, huddled behind closed doors. Sources, in the room, say, McCarthy attempted to explain that he was simply offering up ideas.

MCCARTHY: Can't they take their Twitter accounts away, too?

NOBLES (voice-over): And he never acted on much of what was discussed. His speech led to a standing ovation. And publicly, most members of the Conference, say they are ready to move on.

REP. MARIA ELVIRA SALAZAR (R-FL): I am more concerned at, not about the past, but about the future.

NOBLES (voice-over): Even those, he criticized, including Congressman Mo Brooks.

NOBLES (on camera): Are you going to take it up, with him, sir, or talk to him about it?

REP. MO BROOKS (R-AL): I don't see any need to, no.

NOBLES (voice-over): The party, though is not in universal agreement. Some members of the far-right Freedom Caucus are raising concerns, like Gaetz, who initially refused to weigh in.

REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): I haven't heard the tapes. And I'll probably have a lot to add, when I take a listen to them.

NOBLES (voice-over): But then, unleashed, on McCarthy and GOP Whip, Steve Scalise, on Twitter, saying "This is the behavior of weak men, not leaders."

And Andy Biggs, the former Chair of the Freedom Caucus, who said McCarthy's words, caught on tape, could lead to bigger rifts between various wings of the GOP.

REP. ANDY BIGGS (R-AZ): We have our leader that's basically negotiating with Liz Cheney, on whether he should encourage President Trump to resign or not becomes a huge, huge trust issue for me.

NOBLES (voice-over): And while McCarthy attempts to hold his membership together, Democrats arguing that this whole episode, demonstrates that McCarthy has a problem with the truth.


REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D-NY): It's a five-point playbook. Number one, lie. Number two, lie. Number three, lie. Number four, lie. Number five, lie again.

NOBLES (voice-over): And McCarthy critics, like Republican congressman, Adam Kinzinger, claiming the audio reveals, who the leader really is.

REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL): It's quite obvious that he's failed at that. And he continues to push a narrative that's false. He continues to defend people, pushing false narratives. And that's wrong.


NOBLES: And this audio will once again put McCarthy - bring his attention to the January 6 Select Committee. They've already sent him a letter, asking him to cooperate, with their investigation. He turned them down. The Chairman, Bennie Thompson, telling me, this week, they've not ruled out a subpoena, for Kevin McCarthy.

And one other bit of news, from the January 6 Select Committee, tonight, we have learned that Rudy Giuliani, the former Mayor of New York City, who served as former President Donald Trump's personal lawyer, has agreed to appear, before the committee. That meeting could happen, as soon as next month.


COOPER: Ryan Nobles, appreciate it. Thanks.

We'll be right back.


COOPER: We'll have more, from Kyiv, tomorrow.

The news continues, right now. I want to hand it over to Don, and "DON LEMON TONIGHT."