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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Kyiv Attacked While U.N. Chief Still In City; U.S. Official, Russian Forces Making Slow And Uneven Progress In Ukraine; Biden Seeks Powers To Use Russian Oligarchs' Assets To Help Ukraine; U.S. Official: Russian Progress In The East "Slow And Uneven"; Freed American Trevor Reed Reunites With Family In U.S. After Prisoner Swap With Russia; Moderna Seeks Emergency Use Authorization For COVID Vaccine For Children 6 Months Through 5 Years. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired April 28, 2022 - 20:00   ET


ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: This Sunday at 10 o'clock Eastern.

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AC 360 starts now.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST, ANDERSON COOPER 360: Good evening. It has not been a quiet night here in Kyiv. Just a short distance east of our location, we heard two large explosions tonight. According to Ukraine's Foreign Minister they were from Russian cruise missiles.

Russia no longer has troops in the area, but those kinds of missiles can be launched from a distance sometimes from over the border in Belarus.

At least one landed in a residential neighborhood say authorities and appears to have done serious damage to an apartment building. We don't know how many people were hurt there, reports are as many as 10 were injured, but the video does appear to show someone or something being carried away in what looks to be a makeshift stretcher.

Ukraine's Foreign Minister says the attack happened with U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres still in the capital. Earlier in the day, the Secretary-General visited Bucha and Borodyanka both sites of widespread atrocities during the Russian occupation.

Tonight, Ukraine's President Zelenskyy said that investigators have already identified 10 Russian servicemen as suspects in connection with killings and Bucha. President Zelenskyy said their names are known and vowed to find them and anyone else responsible for atrocities in the invasion. Of course, the war goes on.

American Defense officials say that Russian forces have made some progress in the east and they've seen signs they are getting somewhat better at certain operational and logistical skills. That said, Western officials familiar with the latest Intelligence say it's not clear that Moscow will be able to implement changes needed to dominate there.

They are, however trying to impose whatever political and economic control they can in places that they do occupy. In Kherson today, a newly installed Russia-friendly official said the city would begin to use the Russian ruble as the official currency. Russian forces are also threatening local educators and replaced Ukrainian TV channels with Russian counterparts.

Along those lines, but on a larger scale, the American Ambassador to the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe said today that the U.S. has information that Russia's plan to take over Ukraine apparently includes gutting the country's government, setting up a new one and blocking current leaders from holding office again.

Now, back at home, in the meantime with Vladimir Putin's veiled nuclear threats still hanging in the air, President Biden asked Congress for $33 billion in military economic and humanitarian assistance for Ukraine.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're not attacking Russia, we are helping Ukraine defend itself against Russian aggression, and just as Putin chose to launch this brutal invasion, he could make the choice to end this brutal invasion.

Our unity at home, our unity with our allies and partners, and our unity with the Ukrainian people is sending an unmistakable message to Putin, you will never succeed in dominating Ukraine.


COOPER: More than most nights, it's a lot. Reporting for us tonight, CNN's Matt Rivers on the Russian strikes here in Kyiv; in Kramatorsk, CNN's Sam Kiley, and at the White House CNN's M.J. Lee. We begin with Matt here in Kyiv.

What more do we know about these attacks?

MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, so we're still getting information in terms of any potential deaths. We know that at least 10 people have been injured as a result of this latest strike. We don't know exactly what Russia was targeting in this area, but what we do know is that this strike once again, affected a residential building.

We are talking about an apartment building that caught fire, several apartments caught fire, at least 10 people injured. And as we saw in that video, someone being carried out or something being carried out in that stretcher.

And it is just yet another example of, as Russia continues to target areas that are not on the frontlines outside of the east, it is another example of Russia targeting civilian areas, which is something that they've done since the beginning of this war. COOPER: We should also point out that Ukrainian officials are being

very tight with information on this. So they said that there were five missiles. They've only really said that there was one that hit at or in a building, a 25-storey apartment complex, and that's where the injuries took place. They haven't said about the others. And there's -- I don't know if there's a reason for that or not but Ukrainian officials are kind of controlling access to the information.

RIVERS: And they usually do that. I mean, we saw that -- I was in Lviv about 10 days ago, and there were four missiles that day and it was very similar. They withheld a lot of information at first in terms of where those missiles went, what their targets were, and that is probably something we're seeing here.

Also keep in mind, the other possibility is that there are air defense systems that are very active around Kyiv. They've taken down cruise missiles before and so we've seen those explosions that were not far from where we are right now.

Maybe Ukrainian air defense systems have some role in that. But again, as you say, Ukrainian officials very tight lipped about it.

COOPER: You've also been following a story about a young girl. What is it?

RIVERS: Yes, so this young girl is a story that we actually first learned about by watching Russian state propaganda. One of lots and lots of people that have been taken out of Ukraine and sent either to Russian-held areas of Ukraine or to Russia itself.

Russia holds her up as some kind of an example of their humanitarian feelings during this war and we can show you her story.


RIVERS (voice over): For Kira Obedinsky, her new iPad is everything. She's 12 after all. But the shiny screen is also a welcome distraction from an ordeal no 12-year-old should ever have to endure, because just a few weeks ago, the young Ukrainian wasn't safe like she is now in Kyiv, but in a hospital run by Russian-backed separatist, forcibly separated from her family.

When the Russians first invaded Mariupol, Kira's dad, Yemen (ph) was still alive. Her mom had died just after she was born, and when Russian bombs started to fall, they sheltered in a neighbor's basement, she recalls.

(KIRA OBEDINSKY speaking in foreign language.)

RIVERS (voice over): "But they hit the house where we were staying," she says. "We were buried in the cellar, then the rescuers took us out of the wreckage."

Her dad did not emerge, Kira told us.

Now an orphan, she started to walk to try and find safety amidst chaos, and then another explosion from a mine.

(KIRA OBEDINSKY speaking in foreign language.)

RIVERS (voice over): "My friend saw something on the ground," she says, "And she hit it accidentally with her boot. The military came after the explosions and took us to a hospital because we were bleeding."

But in some ways her journey was just beginning.

In the chaos, she was picked up by soldiers she says spoke Russian and eventually brought to a Russian-held area in Donetsk.

(KIRA OBEDINSKY speaking in foreign language.)

RIVERS (voice over): "I was taken there at night," she says. 'They took shrapnel out of me, out of my ear. I screamed and cried a lot." It was shortly after this happened that CNN first learned about and reported Kira's story because Russia paraded it on state TV.

(KIRA OBEDINSKY speaking in foreign language.)

RIVERS (voice over): State propagandists showed images of Kira in a Donetsk hospital and said she was being treated well. Convinced she was being mistreated, her family went public with her story, and it worked. A deal between Russia and Ukraine allowed her grandfather to travel to Russia and bring her back to Kyiv, where she told us what Russian state TV did not.

(KIRA OBEDINSKY speaking in foreign language.)

RIVERS (voice over): "It's a bad hospital there. The food there is bad. The nurses scream at you, the bed is bent like this. There wasn't enough space for all of us inside."

None of that came out on Russian state TV. Her injuries have largely healed now, though, she'll stay in the hospital a little longer. It was there that someone gave her that iPad after a presidential visit came bearing gifts this week.

She didn't love all that attention, though. So for now, she says she just wants to see her cat and spend time with her grandfather recovering from the horrors of war, one game at a time.


COOPER: It's such an extraordinary story that a child has to go through all this.

RIVERS: Yes, I mean, it's horrible, and the idea that she is being somehow held up as something that Russia did well, when we have to remember the only reason she is put in that situation is because Russian troops killed her dad then brought her there because of a war that they started. It's just this twisted narrative that exists.

COOPER: Yes, I'm joined along with now, Sam Kiley, where air raid sirens have been a constant sound this evening, as well as M.J. Lee who is joining us as well.

M.J., President Biden unveiled this proposal for enormous package of aid to Ukraine, $33 billion. Can you talk a little bit about what's in it?

M.J. LEE, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Anderson $33 billion is a huge, huge price tag. So let me just give you a breakdown of what kind of money we are talking about. They are talking about some $20 billion, that would be military and security assistance, another $8.5 billion that would be economic assistance, and then another $3 billion that would hopefully go towards humanitarian assistance.

And just so that our viewers can have a better sense of what kind of things we are talking about what this money would actually translate to, a lot of it would be sort of the weapons and the equipment that Ukrainian officials have been saying for so long, that they need more of and that they need really fast.

So artillery, armored vehicles, or anti-armor systems, things like that. And then we're also actually talking about basic daily necessities for the Ukrainian people like food and water and medicine.

Now, U.S. officials have said that this amount of money is allocated to get to the Ukrainians for about five months, and it just goes to show as much as U.S. officials have been talking for a while now, that they do expect this conflict to be drawn out, to be protracted. It was just one more very stark reminder that this is what U.S. officials are planning for, for the time being that this is going to be a long-term conflict.


COOPER: Sam, a senior U.S. Intelligence officials said today Russia is making what they called slow and uneven progress in the Donbas region and that they are still having issues with logistics and supplies. Does that match up with your reporting and obviously, I hear the air raid sirens there?

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, so these air raid sirens, I'm afraid, a natural part of life now across so many cities here in Kramatorsk, which arguably is one of the great prizes for this new phase in what they are calling phase two of the Russian invasion. It is no stranger to not only the sirens, but also outgoing anti-aircraft missiles and sporadic explosions.

Now, if you look at how the Russians are planning their campaign, in this part of the world, a main thrust is coming at the moment from Izyum, which is only about 20 or 30 miles to the Russian border, it's on the main road to Kharkiv. It's actually outside of this particular province, or oblast, as it is known locally.

They are thrusting south from Izyum, due south in the direction of Mariupol, those many, many miles indeed, all the way to get down there. And then they're also coming southeast down the Donetsk River.

Now we were on the other side of that Donetsk River, we brought you that report yesterday, very heavy shelling, indeed, in the town of Severodonetsk, they have -- the Russians captured a town little bit north of there. But these are incremental gains, not really significant in any kind of permanent way.

The mayor of Kramatorsk here has told me the other day that he believed that the main Russian thrust will be coming next week, and that is going to be very problematic for the Ukrainians, if they haven't got some of these very significant weapons that are being supplied to them by NATO already here.

It is something that they are able to hold the line with what they have been given and what they already have and what they manufactured themselves, but if there is a significant Russian thrust, it's going to be very difficult for them, not least because they've been dug in here since 2014.

So, a lot of these defensive lines are very, very well-established. Now that makes them solid, that makes them difficult to breach, but it makes them very immobile, too, and that is something that the Ukrainians are going to have to factor into their defensive strategies -- Anderson.

COOPER: Matt, this attack that occurred here earlier, it is hard to ignore the fact that it occurred while the U.N. Secretary-General was still on the ground here.

RIVERS: I mean, think about the message that that sends. I mean, the Russians -- you know, the Secretary-General was just in Moscow.

COOPER: Two days ago, he was with Vladimir Putin.

RIVERS: At the long table in Moscow, and his whole goal was to open up humanitarian corridors. That was his mission. That was what the Ukrainians were demanding. So he went there to try and do that and immediately came down here to Kyiv. The Russians knew he was here, and just like they did the other day when U.S. Secretaries of State and Defense left and they went via train and then the Russians hit these train stations.

Well, Guterres, the U.N. Secretary-General is here, and then they send a missile attack here. If you were hoping or thinking that maybe the Secretary-General made a lot of progress with the Russians in terms of changing their behavior, I think it's safe to say based on the fact that they sent a missile to the city where he is in right now that maybe he didn't do very much progress.

COOPER: Yes, M.J. along the aid package to Ukraine, President Biden is going to ask to strengthen U.S. law enforcement capabilities to actually seize property from Russian oligarchs, and I guess, sell that property or if it's money that they're seizing, give it all ultimately to Ukraine. That's a major change in policy. Is that even legal at this point?

LEE: Yes, you know, this was an interesting part of his announcement today that came in addition to that $33 billion funding request. It was a proposal that was put together by a number of different agencies working together, including the Treasury Department, the D.O.J., the State Department, and Commerce and what essentially it would allow the U.S. to do is seize properties, assets from certain Russian oligarchs, so yachts and luxury properties, and then they would be able to liquidate those assets and find a way to get that money that has been liquidated, those assets directly to the Ukrainian people.

Now, as you know very well, the U.S. has rolled out a number of sanctions and punishment, essentially, economic punishment on Russia throughout this crisis, but this is new, and that it creates a pathway basically, for the U.S. to be involved in seizing money and assets from the Russians, and then direct that to actually help the Ukrainians.

Now, when President Biden was asked, with all of these new actions, you know, could that be seen as escalatory? Could that be seen by the Russians as basically the U.S. engaging in a proxy war? And what he said was we are prepared for whatever they do -- Anderson.

COOPER: M.J. Lee, Matt Rivers, Sam Kiley, thanks so much.

Next, Olena Gnes who we have been speaking with throughout the war, today we met her for the first time and her three young children in person. How she and they are holding up and how her kids are coping with life in wartime.

And later, our military experts, two distinguished former Army Generals weigh in on the ongoing threat to Kyiv, this massive new aid package and the race now to rearm Ukraine before Russian forces figure out how to fight.



COOPER: If there is any redemption at all to be had in a country at war, it is in knowing that for every horrifying act of inhumanity imaginable, war and adversity can also at times nurture and foster the very best in people.

Though no amount of evidence to this welcome effect is ever too much or ever quite enough, we have seen plenty already, which is good whether its volunteers bringing food to the elderly trapped by the fighting or railway workers scrambling to repair bombed out track because it's a lifeline to millions of others or providing medical care in hospitals being targeted by the enemy, or raising three children in a basement shelter while their dad is off fighting a war.

That's what a woman named Olena Gnes has been doing while documenting her family's life for the world to see and then talking to us about it on the air and today, for the first time, face-to-face.



COOPER (voice over): After nearly two months of talking with Olena Gnes from the basement where she has been sheltering, today, we finally got to meet in person at her home.

COOPER (on camera): Hey.


COOPER: How are you?

GNES: So nice to meet you.


GNES: She is sleeping.

COOPER (voice over): Her daughter Dureena (ph) is six months old. Katya is seven, and Tarus (ph) five.

GNES: Usually when you come to Ukrainian home, you will be treated with a lot of you know, with borscht and all the national food. I'm so sorry, I didn't do this, for some obvious reasons, but we've got this traditional Easter bread.

COOPER (on camera): Wow. It's lovely.

GNES: Yes, so you can have it with coffee if you feel like it.

COOPER: Well, that's lovely.

GNES: Yes, but for me to do the coffee, I need your help.

COOPER: Okay, sure. Yes. Okay.

GNES: I mean, you take the baby.

COOPER: Oh my God. Wow.

GNES: Do you know how to? Maybe she will be sleeping. Maybe she will wake up. I don't know. You have to know how to do this. Yes. Well done. Well done, Anderson. You're doing great.

COOPER (voice over): Now, that there's only sporadic shelling in Kyiv --

(OLENA GNES speaking in foreign language.)

COOPER (voice over): Olena spends her days with the kids in her apartment. Schools are still closed, but Katya takes some classes online.

GNES: And evening we come back to the shelter for the night, to sleep in the shelter with the kids.

COOPER: Oh, you still sleep there, okay.

GNES: I know that I just won't go to sleep until the morning if I stayed home.

COOPER: Right.

GNES: I will have to stay on high alert listening to the noise, and at least, in the shelter, I'm like, okay, now I close my eyes and that I can relax a little.

(OLENA GNES singing in foreign language.)

COOPER (voice over): Olena has been documenting her family's experience in the shelter throughout the war on her YouTube channel called "What is Ukraine?"

GNES: I am alive. This is Dureena. She is sleeping.

COOPER (voice over): Providing an intimate and often emotional account of what she and her country are going through.

GNES: So urgently help us because our forces, they are not endless, yes, we have our Army, but we need help.

COOPER (voice over): The fighting has for now moved further east, but the war never feels far away.

GNES: What they have done to us, what they have done in Bucha --


GNES: In Mariupol, it's awful and now, I am ready to fight. And this is what we are going to do, our eyes, we have Bucha and Mariupol.

COOPER (voice over): Even children here know the names of cities where atrocities had been committed.

GNES: This is my neighbor --

COOPER (voice over): Olena worries about her husband, Serhiy (ph) serving in the Territorial Defense Force in Kyiv. But today, there is sunshine and time to take the kids at the playground.

How are you feeling now about the future?

GNES: The future? Since, the very first day of the war, I had no doubts that Ukraine will win. The question is only when and how many people will die before this happens.

COOPER: When you -- you were talking about Mariupol and Katya and Tarus both started naming other cities with terrible things has happened, the extent to which your kids have absorbed what is happening here is really noticeable.

GNES: I was not hiding information from them. I want them to know and to remember what has happened to Ukraine credit right now, because what has happened should not be forgotten and should not be forgiven.

I want them to know why this happened, yes. And I want them to be free people. I do not want them to be slaves. Now in the first weeks, I put many phone numbers on their bodies. Like

I put my phone number, my husband's phone number, my sister's phone number --

COOPER: You would actually draw it on their skin.

GNES: Yes, I just wrote this on the bodies, on the hands. Katya and Tarus on the hands. Like okay, if I die, then okay if Serhiy died, have another phone number of my sister, my sister is in Kyiv, so okay so who else can take care of them? Okay I will put like their grandmother. She is in Odessa, maybe she will survive.


COOPER: You had to think about that?

GNES: I -- and this is what many mothers did here.

COOPER: Do you feel safe now?

GNES: No, no, I don't. Of course, I'm not like crying all the time anymore. I can sleep right now at night. I can eat food, which I couldn't in the beginning, but I do not feel safe right now because the sky is not closed and this air attack can help happen at any time at any place of Ukraine, so there is nowhere we are safe in Ukraine.

But of course, the fact that you came, that the American Embassy looks like they're coming, it gives hope that it is becoming safer, but it's a matter of luck.


COOPER: "Matter of luck." We'll have more of my conversation with Olena in the next hour.

Just ahead, two retired U.S. Generals offering their assessments of what today's missile strike on Kyiv may say about Russia's current military strategy.

Also, we'll discuss why one U.S. military officials today called Russia's advance in the East called slow and uneven.


COOPER: Today, President Zelenskyy said that missile strikes on Kyiv that occurred earlier this evening as well as other Ukrainian cities are proof that quote "one cannot relax yet, one cannot think that the war is over," and it certainly is not.


Strikes in Kyiv occurred just as the UN Secretary General is wrapping up a visit to the Ukrainian capital. In the East today, U.S. and NATO officials say that Russian forces have made some progress and as we reported earlier, a senior US official today called that progress, quote, slow and uneven, but progress on the last. One defense official told CNN that as the U.S. assessment that Russia is units are in worse shape than expected.

I'm joined now by retired Brigadier General Peter Zwack, a former U.S. Defense Attache to Russia and retired Lieutenant General Mark Hertling, a CNN military analyst.

General Hertling, first of all, what is your reaction to this missile attack on Kyiv, especially when the Secretary General was still here?

LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Doesn't surprise me Anderson is what Russians have been doing ever since the start of the war. They continue to attack when foreign dignitaries are in the country. It's an attempt to show the force and it truthfully is their again their way of war. They don't care who is in the country what diplomacy is attempted to be played out. They just continue what they're doing as more threats to an end state. They could certainly not do this when visiting dignitaries in the country, but they continue to do it.

COOPER: General Zwack, I want to talk about what's happening in the East. Because you have U.S. officials calling the progress made by Russia slow and uneven. And maybe it's because I'm a catastrophist, but I pay attention more to the fact that they are -- that Russia seems to be making progress even if it is slow and uneven. How concerning is that? And what do you make of what's happening in the East

BRIG. GEN. PETER ZWACK (RET.), FMR U.S. DEFENSE ATTACHE TO RUSSIA: There's several aspects of it. First, there's the direct east west fight along the contact line which is heavy artillery, pretty static pretty World War I-ish, a lot of trenches and probably not a lot of movement. Then as you suggest coming down from the north, down from (INAUDIBLE) and all of that, it's a grind it out in my mind, I'm trying to visualize it, where you got artillery, you got Russian tanks, infantry, but it is a grind. And what it's hard to visualize is the death and destruction and the grinding up of units, including Russians, and certainly Ukrainians. But in the north on that pincer that looks to be trying to come in behind, I believe there will be a defense in depth. And the Ukrainians are probably giving as much as they're taking, and how long will it take before either breaks? And probably it could be the Russian. And then from the south the same grind.

This is bloody. There are a lot of losses. Russian unit sorority battered. I don't know how long they're staying power. And of course, we worry about Ukrainians well, but they've got the will to fight.

COOPER: General Hertling, how do you see it? I mean, one of my concerns is that it's very difficult for reporters to get access to the front lines and without images of what is happening, people around the world stop paying attention and start to see what's, you know, the Kyiv seems relatively safe, though there was a missile attack here today and stop paying attention. Can you talk about how you view the war, the fighting in the east and Russia's chances?

HERTLING: Yes, this is this truthfully, Anderson, this is exactly what I anticipated happening. And we talked about this a few weeks ago. But at the time, because we were still focused on the regeneration of forces that didn't make sense. What Russia likes to do is concentrate artillery in large barrages. Now there's two ways to react to that if you're the Ukrainians. You either can counter fire and shoot artillery back and try and knock out guns, or you get out from under the ammunition that is exploding all around you. Because the Ukrainians do not have as much 152 ammunition for their Russian guns and they haven't yet received in mass, the American and NATO guns that are coming their way as well with the ammunition. The only options Ukrainian has is to pull back away from the defensive line which Peter just talked about.

Then what happens is the Russians will send in reconnaissance in force small units of tanks and BMPs, with infantry to see what is out there. And they will feel their way around the battlefield to say hey, is there a hole here? Can we push larger size forces through? And what's been happening and it's been fascinating to me, because it's what I anticipated, Russia is actually using the artillery to find that hole or to break through that front to develop the holes they send their small unit forces their reconnaissance in, and then Ukrainian forces as Peter just said, having a defense in depth they push them back.

So until the Ukrainians have the massive artillery to counter the Russian artillery and I know what John Kirby said today he said it's getting there, but it takes a long time to feel the equipment in combat. I know because I had to do it once. And it just takes longer than you anticipate.


So until the Ukrainians get that artillery, they're not going to be able to conduct the artillery duel that's required. So it's going to be a back and forth probably for a week or two or three, until the Ukrainians can actually develop the situation and continue to push back the Russian forces.

But the last thing I say, and I'm sorry for this, but we still see as so many people are saying the Russian forces that regenerated force is not as good as the first ones that came through in the north. And that one was pretty bad.

COOPER: Just briefly, General Hertling, what is the difficulty of fielding artillery in combat?

HERTLING: Well, what I'll tell you Anderson in Iraq, I had to feel trucks, EM:RAP (ph) trucks to counter the IED. You just have to train the soldiers and trucks don't have triggers. And you don't have to employ them with computers. And you don't have to link them to counter fire radars, you just have to drive them. The difficulty is, this is a system, the kind of NATO systems coming in are very different than the Russian systems Ukrainians have been using, they will learn it, no doubt in my mind, but to pull the trigger, to get the round where you want it to just become familiar with the fire control mechanisms, to manipulate the gun. All of those things are part of the training that are required. Ukrainians will do it, it just will take time.

Plus, you also have to divvy up the artillery pieces in the ammunition along that 300 mile frontage that Peter was talking about. That's a big distance. You can't just put them all in one spot and say, OK, guys, take your guns in your artillery and go back to your locations and start firing away. It just takes time to distribute, to process to train.

COOPER: General Hertling, General Zwack, I appreciate your expertise. Appreciate it. Thank you.

Coming up, despite U.S. outrage of Vladimir Putin's war, one American is finally free after years in Russian custody. But what does it mean for other U.S. citizens still being held there? (INAUDIBLE) one American detainee joins me next.



COOPER: Tonight after more than two years in Russian custody, American Trevor Reed is back on U.S. soil. He arrived at an Air Force base in Texas early this morning. That's him in the dark shirt and dark pants reuniting with his family. A spokesman says he's getting care from a Defense Department team. Health problems along with the Reed family's activism and the situation here in Ukraine helped convince President Biden to approve a prisoner swap with Russia.

But tonight two other Americans are still detained in Russia, WNBA player Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan. Whelan is serving a 16-year prison sentence after a trial that US officials called the unfair. He was arrested on espionage charges in 2018. But it's always strongly denied the claim saying he's a tourist who went to Russia. In a statement Whelan asked, why was I left behind? While I am pleased Trevor is home with his family. I've been held on a fictitious charge of espionage for 40 months. The world knows this charge was fabricated. Why hasn't more been done to secure my release?

David is Paul's twin brother. He joins me now.

David, thanks so much for being with us. And I'm sorry, we're hearing the circumstances.

I know you and your parents are pleased for the family of Trevor Reed. What answers if any, do you have to your brother's questions about why not him?

DAVID WHELAN, BROTHER OF U.S. CITIZEN DETAINED IN RUSSIA: Unfortunately, we all we have more questions. We don't know why not him? It's not clear to us why the U.S. government when they did have a concession that they were willing to make Mr. Yuschenko. Why they didn't try and bring home more Americans. And there may be a very good reason for that. But we certainly don't have that answer.

COOPER: As you know, Trevor Reed's parents met with President Biden after a very public campaign for his administration to do more to get their son released, particularly because of health concerns. They're the only family of a prisoner detained in Russia to meet with the President. Does your family want or expect him to meet with the President? Is that something you've been trying to do?

WHELAN: Yes, my sister has made numerous requests to the White House to meet with President Biden and none of them have been responded to.

COOPER: Your brother has said the Russian officials from the very beginning of his detention I think this is really fascinating detail that the Russian officials from the moment he was taken, mentioned the names of two Russian prisoners that they plan to swap him for or would swap him for him. One was the Russian prisoner who was swapped out for Trevor Reed. And you can see in the video him actually passing Mr. Reed on the tarmac on the left during the swap. The other is an arms dealer named Viktor Bout, whose nickname is the merchant of death. He's currently serving 25 year sentence.

Do you have hopes that that swap could happen? Is that a swap you think could be done?

WHELAN: I don't think I could see that swap happening. And it underlines a problem, I think that we are facing now, which is that the U.S. government has known pretty much since day one of Paul's detention, which is now 1,200 days, that there were at least two people that the Russian government wanted names that have come up over and over again over the last few years, as well as others that are in the American judicial system in American prisons.

And it's not really clear why it takes three years for the U.S. government, for the White House to make these sorts of decisions, why they aren't moving faster, why they aren't gathering information about the concessions that the Russians want that the U.S. government might be willing to make. It's, again, more questions.

COOPER: What kind of conditions is your brother being held in?

WHELAN: He's in one of the Stalin era labor camps in Mordovia. It's about eight-hour drive from Moscow, a drive that a number of ambassadors have made to go and see Paul because they feel that this is unjust, including Ambassador John Sullivan. He spent six days a week making textiles, some sort of clothing for some sort of purchaser, suffers human rights abuses, suffers corruption, having to make bribes to guards in order to make phone calls to our parents, things like that. It's a very difficult life.


COOPER: How often is he able to talk to your parents?

WHELAN: So far so good, it's been almost daily he has to make a request every day. But so far the certainly the new warden has been approving them. The last warden was removed for corruption, he was arrested in the prison for corruption. And we were able to put money on before the Russian invasion of Ukraine. So, although there are sanctions on the government and difficulties in moving money into Russia, Paul currently has money on his phone card, so he'll be able to call our parents for another couple of months at least.

COOPER: What do you want folks in the White House, people in the United States to know about your brother?

WHELAN: That he is one tough cookie, and that he realizes that, although yesterday was very disappointing, we get the sense already that he is regrouping and that he will continue to focus one day at a time. I think it would be very beneficial for our family and probably families of all of the detainees, not only in Russia, there are maybe three or four dozen American families who have loved ones and a variety of countries around the world being held hostage waiting for the U.S. government to make concessions to secure their release.

That the White House the administration would be upfront with the families and give us information that allows us to manage our own expectations, and the expectations of their loved ones. So that when releases do happen, they aren't taken unawares and aren't left to wonder why not them? Why are they left, while others are free?

COOPER: David Whelan, I appreciate your time tonight. Thank you.

WHELAN: Thank you.

COOPER: We'll continue our Ukraine coverage in a moment. But coming up, a promising outlook in the battle against COVID with Moderna now seeking emergency use authorization for its vaccine for children age five and under. Details on that, next.



COOPER: A potentially significant advance in the fight against COVID today. Moderna is seeking emergency use authorization from the FDA for COVID vaccine for children between six months and five years old. The timeline is potentially promising. According to Moderna officials, the FDA is expected to move fast and said they would release a timeline for advisory committee meetings in the next week. Now, if it's authorized by the FDA, vaccine advisors to the CDC will vote on if it should be recommended.

Joining me now is CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

So Sanjay. I mean, obviously, so many parents have been waiting for this. What in the dirt is trial show? And when do you think kids this age group may actually be able to be vaccinated?

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, so you know, first of all this, this, there have been a lot of parents waiting at Anderson, you know, people who I know who have newly minted two year olds, for example, may have been awaiting this data. You know, when you think about this particular vaccine, you're talking about a much smaller dose, first of all, of the vaccine, its 25 micrograms, the typical dose for adults 100 micrograms, they gave two of those doses. And here's what they found, they found that the kids were developing significant antibodies to the vaccine, similar antibody levels to what adults have. If you look at the overall efficacy, and what this means is how likely were children who got the vaccine to develop an infection that caused any sort of symptoms at all. And they found there was 51% efficacy for six months to two years. And it dropped to 37% for two to five years.

Now, you know, most people I understand have been used to hearing, you know, from the beginning of the these numbers, you know, over 90%, these numbers, obviously a lot smaller, they do sort of track with how these vaccines have been performing with adults against Omicron. So, it's sort of similar to that. There weren't safety concerns, either. So it's a small trial. But it was enough data that Moderna feels, as you pointed out, that they could go ahead and submit to the FDA.

Timeline, it's hard to tell I mean, you know, at one point, they said they weren't going to have one of these meetings until June. But as you as you said, they're probably going to accelerate this advisory committee meeting, and then make a recommendation to the CDC.

COOPER: What do you say to parents? And it's an understandable concern of, well, look, if COVID it's not so bad in kids in --


COOPER: -- this age range, is it worth any potential risk of getting the vaccine? Or is there a risk?

GUPTA: Well, I mean, I think, you know, everything's a risk-reward relationship. But I don't think there's really a significant safety concern here. You know, there was concerns about myocarditis, that's something that we talked about, and people who are older, late teens, early 20s. But we only haven't seen that risk in younger children and not this age group, either. So it's really more a question of the reward. What I would say is that look, when we look into Omicron, it is a very contagious virus. So even if you get 50% efficacy, let me show you what is happening in terms of the overall numbers of children who are becoming infected. If you sort of track it along, you see, that's the red line there I don't know if you can see that, but the red line has really gone up. That's the age group that we're talking about. And it's gone up pretty significantly over the past few months. So there's a lot of kids who are getting infected.

It is true that they are very unlikely to be hospitalized or die. Although over the last 30 months now since we've been talking about this Anderson there have been over 1,000 children who have died at this. It's much smaller than the adults, but it taken by itself. It's still it's still a large number. I mean, 130 kids are so die of flu every year 100 kids before vaccinations used to die of chickenpox, and we made really sure that children got vaccinated for those things. So these are still large numbers small compared to adults, but large numbers.

But it is a balance that I think parents are going to try and address as things stand now about a third of parents say they're going to go do this right away. A third of parents say they won't do it ever really. And there's about a third that are in the middle wait and see.

COOPER: I would absolutely vaccinated my child, my kids. What if your child has had COVID should they get the vaccine when it becomes available or wait?


GUPTA: Yes, and by the way I just got to say Wyatt who, you know, I adore I love these pictures I just turned two years old I know he had COVID, I hope he's doing OK. So I assume here --


GUPTA: -- in part asking.

COOPER: Yes, you know, he was worried.

GUPTA: (INAUDIBLE) as a dad.

COOPER: Yes. Yes, he had it when I got it. And I gave it to him. And, unfortunately, and he was fine. I mean, he had a slight cough. And, you know, kids that age don't know how to blow their nose, which is not something I realized until I had kids, kids that age. So other than having to suck the mucus out of his nose with like a thing. He wish -- he didn't he actually came to enjoy. But it was it was fine for him. But I'm wondering, do you have to wait a long time -- there he is. He's that's actually him when he wouldn't he just tested positive there. Yes, so adorable.

I lost my train of thought because I was looking at him (INAUDIBLE).

GUPTA: Well, in terms of whether --

COOPER: (INAUDIBLE) if you're positive, when do you need to get the vaccine? Yes.

GUPTA: Yes, I mean, you know, I think that the what you'll hear from the pediatric community is that he should still get vaccinated. I think there's some schools of thought that said you could wait, he should have some immunity now for a period of time almost assuredly, he was infected by Omicron, given the timetable here, so he should have some immunity from that. It could be reasonable to wait a bit. But the thing about the immunity from infections is that it's really hard to predict, you know, it's sort of all over the map in terms of how robust it is. I think for someone like him, you know, potentially at least one shot, you know, within a couple of months.

And then you know, there sometimes there's a concern about a fall surge, you know, when the weather gets cooler and drier no matter what, there are an increase in numbers with respiratory viruses. So sometime, you know, before that surge happens, it would probably make a lot of sense for him to get vaccinated.

COOPER: All right. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, appreciated it. Thanks for showing those pictures. It's a nice, a surprise.

More from here in Ukraine, coming up, Russian forces attempted to strengthen their grip on the eastern Ukrainian city of Kherson, making modest progress on the battlefield while also trying to eradicate their -- the Ukrainian government and Ukrainian identity according to U.S. officials. More than that, ahead.