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Russian Missiles Strike Kyiv During UN Chief's Visit; Former U.S. Marine Killed Fighting Alongside Ukraine Forces; Oklahoma Passes 6-Week Abortion Ban Modeled After TX Law. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired April 29, 2022 - 11:00   ET




KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan. After weeks of relative calm in Ukraine's capital city, that relative peace was shattered overnight. Russian missiles striking Kyiv during a visit by the United Nations Secretary General, one U.N. official actually called the proximity of the attack to the U.N. delegation, shocking. Ukraine's President accuses Russia of trying to humiliate the U.N.

We were also just learning that more than 600 people were injured in a recent bombing at a field -- of a field hospital near the Mariupol steel plant which remains of course surrounded by Russian forces. Countless Ukrainian citizens are still sheltering in bunkers at the complex. And another tragic death to report, but this time it is an American. A 22-year-old former U.S. Marine was killed while fighting alongside Ukrainian forces.

His name is Willy Joseph Cancel. His family says that he'd gone over to Ukraine as a private contractor to fight against Russia with an international brigade of soldiers. Let's begin in Kyiv. CNN's Matt Rivers has the very latest on those strikes in the capital city. Matt?

MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, this site right behind me is where Ukrainian officials say those Russian cruise missiles struck yesterday. And we know that at least one person has been killed as a result of that strike, a woman living in this building, she was a journalist, a 54-year-old woman working for a radio station here in Kyiv. Rescuers actually found her body this morning.

We know that she joins multiple other people who are injured, at least six different people, we're told, are now in the hospital with varying injuries, including carbon monoxide poisoning as a result of the fire that took place in this apartment building. Just behind me what Russia's Ministry of Defense is saying is that they were targeting a facility, a factory very close to where we are right now. We can't show you that factory due to Ukrainian law.

But it's very close to where we are right now. That factory, one of if not the top producer here in Ukraine of air-to-air guided missiles as well as aircraft parts. But this yet another example that even though Russia says they're targeting something with I suppose military relevance, this has no military relevance. This is a residential apartment building in which multiple people were injured or killed because of a Russian airstrike.

And keep in mind that where we are right now is not far away from where the U.N. Secretary General was when he was here in Kyiv yesterday meeting with the President of Ukraine. These missile strikes happened while he was in town. What message is that sending from Russia to the U.N. Secretary General after he had just been in Moscow trying to negotiate humanitarian corridors, he came here to Kyiv on the second leg of that trip.

If you were hoping for some sort of major breakthrough between Russia and the United Nations and humanitarian corridors, this is the message that Russia chooses to send while the U.N. Secretary General is in town. Kate?

BOLDUAN: Matt, thank you so much for that.

Now, let's go to the besieged city of Mariupol. President Zelenskyy's office say, an operation to evacuate hundreds of civilians from the steel plant is planned for today. But unfortunately, as we've seen so many times before, a top Mariupol official says Russian troops are blocking part of the complex. A field hospital there is also now destroyed. Ukraine says the plant was hit by 50 airstrikes in just the last 24 hours. CNN Scott McLean is live in Lviv with more on this. Scott, what more are you picking up?

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Kate, yes, you mentioned that operation the President promised to send to get people out from underneath of that sprawling steel plant. I just finished an interview with a deputy Azov regiment commander, who is inside of the plant. And I asked him what kind of help might be on the way and he said that an evacuation convoy was headed toward the plant, though he couldn't say where it was or exactly when it might arrive or how it would actually access the site considering that the city is now controlled by Russians.

He also said that not only has there been heavy bombardment from the sky, but Russian troops have also been trying to storm the complex on the ground, though he says that the Ukrainian troops are firing back and repelling them, at least so far. He couldn't tell how many there worries that there were small groups but likely thousands of troops. Again, we're not in a position to verify this. But this is what he is telling CNN.

I asked him about any situation where they may consider surrendering to the Russians. He says ideally, they would broker some kind of a deal to allow not only the civilians but the soldiers at that site to get out including the injured once the several hundred injured soldiers. But he says they will not surrender to the Russians. They would rather die trying to defend that site and even if they do get evacuated in some kind of a deal, they will only leave the facility with their guns.

[11:05:14] Brianna Keilar earlier today spoke with another military commander who is inside the facility. And she asked about the situation with the civilians sheltering there. Listen.


MAYOR SERHIY VOLYNA, COMMANDER, UKRAINE'S 36TH SEPARATE MARINE BRIGADE (through translator): These are hundreds of people. And they have dozens of children with them. The youngest is four months old, the yesterday was a heavy strike on a direct hit on the field hospital that is situated inside Azov steel plant. And the operating theater was hit directly. And all the surgical equipment, everything that is necessary to perform surgery, has been destroyed. So right now, we cannot treat our wounded.


MCLEAN: Now, I also just now interviewed an advisor to the mayor of Mariupol, Kate, who said that perhaps surrendering to the Russians may be the best-case scenario if those soldiers can't get out of that facility. And if there's no way for them to fight their way out and actually win.

BOLDUAN: Oh, wow. Scott, thank you very much. I really appreciate it.

The dire situation in Ukraine in this moment also marks a true shift in the Biden administration's view of the war, acknowledging that this could go on for a long time, could go on for years. That is what is behind the President's new asks to Congress, an additional $33 billion in funding to help Ukraine defeat Russia. But there are already signs from Capitol Hill that this might not happen quickly. CNN's Lauren Fox is live on the hill, the very latest for us. Lauren, what have you heard since the President rolled this out yesterday?

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Kate House Speaker Nancy Pelosi just address this a few minutes ago, during her press conference, she said that the goal is to pass this legislation as quickly as possible. But here's the catch, as quickly as possible means you have to get Republicans and Democrats in the Senate to agree on what is going to be included in this supplemental.

And yesterday when I talked to many Republicans, they expressed deep concerns about how exactly this money was split up. One of their concerns is whether or not the military funding is sufficient in comparison to what is being included for humanitarian aid. So those are some of the areas that Republicans are saying they want to look more closely at.

Now, there's going to be some time for lawmakers to review this package. But there is a lot of anxiety really about what is moving through the Senate right now. And the question is whether or not lawmakers may drag this out to try to put some other priorities in this package. That's right now, what is holding this process up. Expect that this is going to take several weeks not just be done in a matter of days. Kate?

BOLDUAN: All right, Lauren, keep us updated. Thank you so much for that.

Joining me right now, CNN military analyst retired Major General James "Spider" Marks, and also with us CNN national security analyst, Beth Sanner. She's the former Deputy Director of National Intelligence. General, if I could I want to ask you first about this American killed this week. According to his family, he was working for a private military contractor while fighting alongside Ukrainian forces. And we've also heard just yesterday of a British citizen being killed fighting alongside the Ukrainians, this is a sad reality of any war, these deaths. But do you think these deaths complicate the already tense standoff between Russia and the West in this war?

MAJ. GEN. JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: I really don't, Kate. Truly, it is a humanitarian disaster. It's a tragedy. But here's a young man who raised her hand and said, I want to support my nation. I want to give something back after he was honorably discharged from the Marine Corps. He said, I'm not done. I want to make a difference globally. And he did. But I don't think it has an overarching implication to our efforts, or NATO's and the Western efforts going forward in terms of support to Ukraine. It's simply as you've described, it's a matter of fact, and it's not a complication. It simply is something that we should, we should acknowledge, honor this young man, honor his family for his incredible sacrifice.

BOLDUAN: Yes. And the response Beth, from the State Department and Pentagon about this, as they I think, you know, kind of standard, which is they're not commenting specifically about the circumstances. They've seen the reporting, they said about this former Marine. But they are reiterating, though, that they don't want Americans going to Ukraine, but Ukraine has really asked for any help that they can get. I mean, what do you think of this?

BETH SANNER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I think that the real risk for us isn't so much in sending individual soldiers or allowing individual soldiers to go in. It's more about backing into situations where Russia really does hold us responsible. And I'm looking more right now at the strikes that the Ukrainians are carrying out over the border into Russia itself, blowing up fuel tanks and military facilities and even hitting some civilian areas, according to the Russians.


Now, Secretary of State Blinken and the U.K. have said, Ukraine has the right to strike Russia. And of course, they're going to be using the heavy weapons that we are all sending them. And I think that -- so that is really much more of a concern for me in terms of this escalation.

BOLDUAN: That's a great point. John, I want to also get your take on the fact that President Putin has now accepted an invitation from Indonesia to attend the G20. The Pentagon spokesman, John Kirby, he said very clearly this morning when asked about this, that Putin should not be invited. Let me play what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JOHN KIRBY, PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: No, he absolutely shouldn't be. I mean, he has isolated Russia, by his own actions, and he should continue to be isolated by the international community. Look, I can't speak for President Biden or what, the schedule might offer for the President, for United States attendance. But it's inappropriate, I think, for the entire international community to keep treating Russia as if things are normal, because it's not.


BOLDUAN: Not normal at all, of course, but then, the question quickly is, how should the U.S. and allies respond if this is what happens? Not attend, walk out in the G20?

MARKS: Well, I think they have to participate. Look, we have this -- we've got to have some dialogue, right? There are only so many elements of power, and diplomacy is one of those and it has to be used, you make very difficult, I'm of the camp that Putin clearly is a war criminal, and we need to move down that path. But I'm going to press -- I'm not the President of the United States.

But when you call him a war criminal, you got to put them in a corner. And so what you end up with is someone who sees no way out other than to do what he's doing. The issue really becomes Indonesia is extending this invitation. Look, Indonesia is the world's third largest democracy, India, the United States, and Indonesia. But what is our relationship with Indonesia that would cause them to open the door and say, hey, President Putin, why don't you come to the G20. They might see this as an advantageous offering to, you know, that the carpet is available, the door is open, come down, and let's have some dialogue. But the United States and Indonesia needs to get its act together before we go forward.

BOLDUAN: Beth there's also been a potentially big shift happening in Germany. The Wall Street Journal is now reporting that Germany is dropping its objections to an E.U. embargo against Russian oil, saying that what they really just need now is time to find an alternative supply for the country. If this is real, this is now the stance here? What would this do for this war effort?

SANNER: This is a big deal. You know, in terms of revenue, Russia gets a lot more revenue from oil than from gas, three times as much. So this is a big deal. It's a big shift. Now the devil is in the details here. And one of the things that is being discussed and really needs to be pursued is how do you prevent that oil, that Russian oil from getting into tankers and going other places in the world. So one of the things under consideration is to sanction the insurance companies for those tankers, that would be an excellent way to go because you can sanction the oil, but you've got to shut it down.

And one more point on the G20. The G20 is really about the global south, right? It's about the countries in the world that don't make it up into that top seven G7. The Indonesians are the hosts. And so they are carrying out their duties there. They've also invited Zelenskyy to attend. But if the United States walks out, we're going to be in a minority of the countries that walk out. And so that is the problem with dealing with these kinds of organizations. They are much more democratic. We don't run them.

BOLDUAN: Setting up for very interesting, very tense, maybe potentially a lot at stake if and when this happens. It's good to see you both. Thank you very much.


Coming up for us, another state moving to ban nearly all abortions, what's happening in Oklahoma, and what it means for the rest of the country. That's next.


BOLDUAN: New this morning Oklahoma is now taking another big step closer towards banning abortions. The state legislature yesterday passed a bill prohibiting abortions after about six weeks, effectively a ban on abortions as that is often before many women even know that they are pregnant. CNN's Jessica Schneider is tracking this for us. She joins us now. Jessica, this is really directly modeled after what's now law in Texas. What are you learning about it?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: It is. And really, Kate, Oklahoma has been at the forefront here. They have been passing and proposing a really wide array of anti-abortion measures in recent weeks. So this most recent one the six week ban, it's modeled after Texas law just passed last night. It bans abortions when that fetal heartbeat is detected, typically around six weeks.

And it gives the power to private citizens to sue, to enforce the law. But you know, more significantly is earlier this month. Oklahoma's governor also signed a law that completely outlaws abortion except in a medical emergency. It imposes penalties of up to 10 years in prison, a $100,000 fine for doctors who perform abortions.

So Oklahoma is really restricting abortions are trying to at every turn here. They're passing a number of laws. So the difference is the six week ban, it will go into effect immediately when the governor signs it which he says he will. The complete abortion ban, it isn't set to take effect until August. And this really goes to the larger trend we're seeing in several maybe a Republican led states.


They're increasingly emboldened by the Supreme Court's refusal to first block that Texas law that has effectively stopped abortions in the states since September. And the states also have this widespread belief based on the oral arguments we heard in December, that the Supreme Court is poised to significantly rollback abortion rights, if not completely overturn Roe v. Wade.

And Kate, that would allow states to ban abortion outright. So we've seen a flurry of states enacting abortion restrictions. And again, Kate, they're all doing this because of the signals that they're getting from the Supreme Court. We are waiting on that all important Supreme Court decision that would decide whether that 15 week ban in Mississippi is constitutional. If it is, states will begin rolling back there abortion rights. And the court could go as far as overruling Roe v. Wade, which would then entitle states to completely outlaw abortion. So a lot at stake as we head into the final weeks of the Supreme Court's term here. Kate?

BOLDUAN: Good points. Good to see you, Jessica. Thank you for that.

Joining me now for more on this is Cecile Richards. She's the former president of Planned Parenthood, now the co-chair of American Bridge 21st Century. Cecile, Planned Parenthood actually said when it comes to Oklahoma, that its Oklahoma clinics have seen a nearly 2,500 percent increase in patients coming from Texas after that law took effect. What then is the impact going to be of this bill in Oklahoma?

CECILE RICHARDS, FMR. PRESIDENT, PLANNED PARENTHOOD: Well, I mean the bill or bills, as you say, are -- they are cruel and inhumane and unconstitutional. And it has created this crisis, in that many women were Texas essentially banned most abortions, most illegal abortions last September. And so many women have turned to Oklahoma, Mississippi, Louisiana, it really essentially means we're creating an entire wasteland across certain parts of the country where access to safe and legal abortion is virtually going to be unknown and unavailable.

The cruelty of this too because these are modeled after the Texas Bill means that, you know, young women who need someone to turn to are at risk, not only for their own health, but they cannot talk to a mother, a sister, a friend, a health care provider, and teacher because all of those people under these laws are at risk of being sued personally for assisting anyone in need.

The stories are just beginning to come out, we saw a 26-year-old young woman put in jail in South Texas, over trying to end her pregnancy, we're going to see more and more of these kinds of inhumane stories. And it's frightening.

BOLDUAN: Globally, we've been seeing a trend. Globally, the trend is moving in one direction, which is from Colombia in February to Mexico in September to Argentina, legalizing abortion in 2020. Globally, it seems to be moving one way. And then in the United States, as we've been talking about all of these states, it appears to be moving the other direction. What do you see in that?

RICHARDS: Well, I mean, Kate, that's -- that is the irony here, one, of course, access to safe and legal abortion has been a constitutional for right for women for nearly 50 years in the United States. So this is, this Supreme Court is poised to up and a right that most of us have grown up with having for our entire lifetime. The difference in this country is that the Republican Party, one of our two major parties, has made it their primary issue to end access to safe and legal abortion, for their own political purposes.

Access to illegal abortion is supported by people in America all across the country, all across every party. But the Republican Party has been completely focused on agitating on this issue in order to get a certain wing of their party to be active in politics. And that is what is really unbelievable to see is that, these bills are not being passed, because the people of Oklahoma rose up and said, we don't want access to safe and legal abortion anymore. It's strictly because the Republican Party has made this a priority. And the, you know, what is happening to women in America lies at their feet.

And this is an issue that's going to have to be decided politically. I think this is an issue that is going to animate voters as we head into the midterm elections. It's unthinkable that this country would go back on 50 years of progress for women.

BOLDUAN: And that is definitely a question going forward. It has been animating. It's a potent political issue, motivating Republican voters for decades. Will that change now because it has not been for Democrats for quite a long time? We'll see if what this trend, what that does in terms of it does need to be settled politically at this point for sure. It's good to see you, Cecile, thank you for coming on. I appreciate your time.


Coming up for us, Trevor Reed is back in America after a prisoner exchange with Russia. Up next, I'm going to speak with a family of another American being held overseas, fighting to get their loved one released from Iran.