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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Apocalyptic Scenes Of Barbarity In Bucha Spark Global Outcry; CNN Crew Survives Close Call In Area Under Russian Assault; Biden: "Outrageous" Bucha Scenes Will Prompt More Sanctions; U.S., E.U. Weigh Tougher Russia Sanctions After Bucha Killings; Mass Graves, Bodies Lining Streets as Russians Leave Towns. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired April 04, 2022 - 16:00   ET



ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: All right. THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER live from Ukraine starts right now.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: I'm standing on a traffic top looking out on Lviv on day 40 of Russia's brutal invasion of Ukraine. Welcome to this special broadcast of THE LEAD, live from western Ukraine as the war enters something of a new phase, where the world is being confronted with new images and survivor testimony of the horrors Vladimir Putin and his army are inflicting on the people of this country.

Ukrainian forces were able to liberate the town of Bucha over the weekend, just out of town from Kyiv to the west. Just about 300 or so, 325 miles from where I'm standing, closer than San Francisco is to Los Angeles, closer than Corpus Christi is to Los Angeles. Bucha was once known as a bedroom community outside Kyiv, but it may now be known for something else, something terrible.

CNN is here in Ukraine to bear witness to the world of what Russian soldiers did and are doing to these innocent Ukrainian civilians. And we want to caution viewers. These images that we're going to bring you, they're graphic, they're disturbing, but we need to bring you these facts, because the Kremlin and its propaganda outlets and allies are already claiming images such as this one are, quote, fake.

They are not fake. Bodies littering the streets of Bucha, some of them tossed out from the trash. Some of them with their hands tied behind their backs. This is the scene in the city today as Russia falsely claims that its soldiers do not target civilians.

CNN's Frederik Pleitgen with his own eyes saw these bodies filling a mass grave in Bucha on the grounds of a church. The city's mayor estimates 300 people died here. The bodies piled on top of each other, mostly in black bags. Some limbs stick out from the soil.

Fred also met Vladimir today. Vladimir is a Ukrainian who has been searching for his younger year in Bucha. Vladimir's convinced his brother is one of the bodies inside the mass grave, although to be completely candid, he may never know.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visited Bucha today, calling these horrible acts, quote, war crimes and predicting they will be recognized by the world, ultimately, as genocide.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): We want to you who the world what happened here, what the Russian military did, what the Russian federation did in peaceful Ukraine. It was important for to you see that these were civilians.


TAPPER: For those Ukrainians in these towns who survived these horrors, more dangers potentially await. President Zelenskyy warned today that Russian forces have bobby trapped corpses and planted mines in houses before withdrawing from the city.

If the generals and the bureaucrats in the Kremlin thought inflicting this terror would cause the Ukrainian people to shrink and to surrender, that does not appear to be the case. As we drove into Lviv today this is what we saw, on the right, a sign welcoming us to Lviv. On the left, a massive sign that reads, Russian occupier, go F yourself.

CNN's Phil Black joins me now.

And, Phil, I think it's important to emphasize, these are not the bodies of Ukrainian soldiers filling the mass graves or lining the street of Bucha. These are innocent civilians targeted by the Russian military.

PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: There can be no doubt, Jake. Any more than that, we're not just talking about the indifference to civilian life we've seen throughout this world war, through Russia's continuous bombardment of people's homes and other nonmilitary targets. Everything that we are seeing, the disturbing images we're about to show you from Bucha, it all shows that civilians have been deliberately targeted and killed, sometimes execution style, sometimes tortured as well.

Take a look.


BLACK (voice-over): There's little point closing the back doors of this van. It's stopping frequently, picking up those who didn't survive Russia's brief occupation of Bucha. Each person is photographed. Where possible, ID is checked. And where necessary, bindings are removed. Their clothes, their belongings and in some cases their restraints all indicate these people were a threat to no one in the moments before they were killed.


In normal times, Vladyslav Minchenko is a painter. Now he collects bodies.

This one was carrying potatoes, he says. You can see they're all civilians, and snipers shot them all in the head. This is how they were having fun.

Tatyana Valogravina (ph) weeps beside her husband's shallow grave.

She says he was taken from their home and weeks later found in a basement, tortured, mutilated, shot in the head.

Ukraine's defense ministry released this video of another basement in Bucha. A CNN team visited the site and saw five dead men. Their hands were tied. Most were hot in the head and legs.

President Zelenskyy came to Bucha and walked its streets, saying -- it's very difficult to negotiate with Russia when you see what they have done here.

Ukraine says it will investigate Russia's war crimes. The European Union says it will help. No need, says Russia, because all of this has been staged.

A resident says this equally sincere message was scribbled with lipstick in a Bucha home by a Russian soldier. Thanks for the warm welcome, it says. Sorry about the mess.

Russia's mess, the extraordinary suffering, trauma, and death inflicted in just a few weeks of occupation is only starting to be understood. For those who lived through it, it's unlikely to ever be forgiven.


BLACK (on camera): Now, Jake, Russia isn't just denying this, calling it fake and staged. A Russian prosecutor is threatening to investigate anyone who dares suggest Russian forces were responsible for all of that. The Western view is very clearly no one else would have been responsible for the atrocity because no one else was there.

The concern by Ukraine and other governments as well is what we're seeing in Bucha is just a tiny window into what may have been happening across other areas that have been occupied by Russia since the very beginning of this invasion.

TAPPER: Like the south. We still don't know so much about the south.

Phil Black, thank you so much for that very important reporting.

Let's go to the east now to CNN chief international anchor Christiane Amanpour, who's live in Kharkiv for us. It's about 40 miles from the Russian border.

And, Christiane, the Ukrainian defense minister warned today that Russian forces are preparing to try and seize Kharkiv.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Indeed. That's why we're in a total blackout situation, 8:00 p.m. curfew as per usual. They don't want any lights going out. It's like a ghost town this city, not only during the night. They are afraid. They thwarted the first attempt by Russians to take this town. This was at the end of February.

And now, they hear that the Russian forces of Russia may be regrouping to try to do it again. As you know, we're not far from eastern Ukraine, which is the Donbas area, which Russia has announced is going to be its next focus. So, there's a lot of fear and trepidation here in Kharkiv. And we've spent the day, the last 24 hour of giving you a sense of life in this second largest city.


AMANPOUR (voice-over): Here in Kharkiv, former Ukrainian capital, second biggest city, and one of the most important cultural sites, the great 19th century poet, Taras Shevchenko, is hungering down for the rest of this war. Workers cover him in sandbags against the kind of destruction that's pounded the city since the start.

The most spectacular, this one, a Russian missile slams low into hard straight into the corner of the regional administration building.

The missile struck right here. And the idea of hitting a building like this is to deny the legitimacy of the state. But the terror against civilians continues, playground by playground, mall by mall, park bench by park bench.

Which is what we find in this residential neighborhood, people sitting outside chatting on a Sunday afternoon. Kids were playing. We find the telltale pattern of a mortar that landed right here. Authorities say seven people were killed in this neighborhood. Many more were injured.

Kharkiv sits 40 miles from the Russian border. It is the last major city before Donbas, where Russia is directing its war effort to the east. Just last week, the nearby village of Mala Rohan was liberated from the Russians. This civilian says he was captured and held.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (translated): I was taken hostage and they took me to the officer for interrogation. The officer said: You are saboteur. No, I am a civilian, see all my documents, my registration. I live here, I came just to ask: Don't shoot at our houses.


AMANPOUR: When dusk falls children are outside playing and getting the last bit of fresh air before descending underground into one of the capital's many subway stations. After 40 days of war, they have turned their temporary homes into a neighborhood. Some have even decorated with fresh flowers.

Zena (ph) says she's been living down here since the beginning.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, this is my house. This used to be my house. Now we cannot live here, obviously, because it has been bombed, three times in a row. AMANPOUR: But this is a safe space for you and for the kids?


AMANPOUR: Kids do what kids do -- homework and handicrafts.

Even this is organized. Marina works for an organization that plans ways to keep the children busy, entertained and their minds off the trauma.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The playing grounds, this place for kids where they can play with toys, made puzzles and to do the things they did in their usual life before the war.

AMANPOUR: But the trauma is never far away, as we found in this underground station, where civil defense are teaching kids how to protect themselves, how to recognize weapons and ordnance, and to remember never to touch.

The adults are preparing for a chemical weapons attack.

Even this maternity hospital was damaged in a mortar strike. Now, the basement turn into the a shelter or delivery room if necessary.

Birth, life continues. We met Elena 30 minutes after she delivered baby Yarislava (ph).

How are you feeling?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm well. She is well, too. My first daughter.

AMANPOUR: Your first daughter.


AMANPOUR: Your first child?


AMANPOUR: As we're leaving, she tells us, I love my country, I love my daughter, my family, my husband. In the delirium of new motherhood, she says, everything will be great for us.


AMANPOUR (on camera): Of course, everything is not great right now, but the spirit really is tremendous. All day we have heard -- and of course this persists -- artillery duals between the Ukrainian forces and the Russians. And it is just really, they're hanging on, and they're quite worried by what the ministry of defense has said, even though they did thwart the last attempt by Russians to take this town -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Christiane Amanpour, live in Kharkiv for us. Thank you so much.

Joining us now to discuss is Dmytro Bilotserkovets. He's an adviser to the mayor of Kyiv.

Dmytro, you tour Bucha yesterday, ravaged Bucha. Tell us what you saw, tell us your reaction to seeing these brutalities up close.

DMYTRO BILOTSERKOVETS, ADVISER TO THE MAYOR OF KYIV: It was amazing. I had never seen so many civilians killed like in Bucha yesterday. It's not normal.

Everybody in the whole world can see that in Ukraine, every day, Russian army kills hundreds -- hundreds of civilian people. Because they could not take our cities, they could not take our hearts, our freedom, so they begin as a genocide (ph) of our people. And our people not any nation, only Ukrainians, no. In our country, we have hundred of nations, everybody now fighting for the freedom of Ukraine. Everybody from -- if you are orthodox, Catholic, Islamic, Jewish -- we have everybody of such people and they are fighting for independence of Ukraine.

Russian president cannot mention independent Ukraine, because he thinks that the biggest problem in the 20th century was the destroying and collapse of USSR. He wants to restore Soviet Union to zero (ph). Yesterday, we have a situation in our country. You need to understand -- you need to be, your country, as the West world need to be more active, everything more active, because one day of do nothing it's 100 of civilian kills in our country, and -- is the capital of Ukraine, 10 kilometer from center.

TAPPER: Dmytro, do you think as Russian forces retreat and regroup, more and other Ukrainian cities are liberated that you're going to find more evidence of mass graves, of atrocities such as we witness in the Bucha?


BILOTSERKOVETS: First of all, we -- I could not understand what it's going to do -- the Russian army 100 percent, but understand they don't take what they want, they want Kyiv in three days, they could not see (ph) Kyiv for three days. So today, they're going from Kyiv, but will go east of Ukraine. And it will be halftime for other bigger cities of Ukraine, Kharkiv, Odessa, and Mykolaiv, you know what the situation is in Mariupol also now. Everybody know. The whole world know.

So, of course, the world will continue, we will see thousands -- thousands of kills of civilian, because Russian army could not take by their selves, politically take our cities because people want to be Ukrainians, we want to be free. I know what I'm telling you because --


BILOTSERKOVETS: -- from Crimea. It is second time I have such situation in my life. In 2014, I was living in Sevastopol, and they see such things. Now, we see it in the whole of Ukraine. And so, everybody needs to understand is that Ukrainians stand not only about their country and their freedom. Ukraine stands the shield, the shield of the new Nazi Russian federation and the new Hitler, Putin. Help us to stop them because it's not our war, only our war, it's the world of all, West world, too.

TAPPER: Dmytro Bilotserkovets, thank you so much for your time. We really appreciate it. Please stay safe.

Coming up next, we're going to go live to southern Ukraine where a CNN team could literally feel the power of an artillery strike.

Plus, in the U.S., a Colorado steel mill that owner has Kremlin connections. A CNN investigation is uncovering the company's Russia ties.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: Welcome back to Lviv in western Ukraine.

This depravity that we're seeing on display east of here in the suburbs of Kyiv is not the full story of Vladimir Putin's ruthless invasion of this country. We now turn our attention to southern Ukraine, where the Russian military's assault is ongoing, and no one is safe. Not women, not children, not seniors, not the disabled, not Western journalists.

Here's CNN's Ben Wedeman.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is an area where there's been a fair amount of outgoing as well as incoming artillery. Down the road is a town that has been fought over for several days by Russian and Ukrainian forces.

(voice-over): In these vast open spaces, the Russians seem far away. They're not.

Down here, John, down here. Keep on rolling. You see it over there?

We hug the earth. Two more artillery rounds.

Cameraman John Torigowe (ph) keeps rolling.

All right. So we have had two incoming rounds responding to artillery that's been firing in the Russian directions. Those shells came pretty close to us.

No one has been injured. The officer tells the translator Valaria Dobustka (ph) we beneath need to go now.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Go away. Hit a run.

WEDEMAN: Okay, okay.

And so we run with full body armor to the cars. We're losing petrol. No time to lose. Throw it in the back. Driver Igor razor focused on getting us to safety. His car also hit.

Go, go, go, go, go! Right now we're trying to get out of the air. The other car completely destroyed.

Cram into the small car, we approach safer ground.

Producer Karim Hadar (ph) checks the damage to the car. The soldiers we left behind are still out there. We could leave. They can't.

Ben Wedeman, CNN, outside Mykolaiv, Ukraine.


TAPPER: Ben Wedeman, thank you so much for that.

President Biden calls Vladimir Putin a war criminal and says more sanctions are on the way, but what we're learning about the next move.


That's next.


TAPPER: In our world lead, President Biden was not mincing words this morning after seeing the atrocities in Bucha, Ukraine. Take a listen.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He is a war criminal, but we have to gather the information. We have to continue to provide Ukraine with the weapons they need to continue the fight, and we have to gather all the details so this can be a -- actually have a war crimes trial.



TAPPER: CNN chief White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins joins us now live.

And, Kaitlan, President Biden also said that more sanctions will be coming. What are you hearing about the timing?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake Sullivan, the national security adviser here at the White House, told me those sanctions will be coming this week, Jake. He did not go into the scope of what exactly they're going to look like.

But we do know they're the direct result of these horrific new images that are coming out of Bucha and that is what led to President Biden this morning doubling down on his comments that he does believe President Putin is a war criminal.

But, Jake, one thing he wasn't prepared to say yet is something that President Zelenskyy has said, the Polish prime minister has said, which is that Russia is committing genocide in Ukraine and here's why Jake Sullivan said that.


COLLINS: The administration initially did not call this war crimes. Eventually they can after what they saw on the ground. Do you think that's going to be the case with calling it a genocide?

JAKE SULLIVAN, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: Well, so, first, it's not just that we sit around and debate terms and ultimately decide to apply a term based on static circumstances. We watch as things unfold. We gather evidence. Could we see ourselves reaching a different conclusion? Of course, we could, but it's going to be based on evidence and facts as we gather them along the way.


COLLINS: And Jake, during that briefing, Jake Sullivan also warned that Russia may be moving its forces around which he intentionally said they were retreating by repositioning some of these forces. But he said he warned, this is going to be a protracted battle they believe as Russia is trying to create this narrative of progress that they are making. And all this comes as the president's comments about a war crimes trial. Jake Sullivan said that is something when it come to the specifics, they will have to consult with allies and partners on what it would look like, of course, but that's a big question of how realistic the idea of a war crimes trial for Putin actually be happening could be, Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Kaitlan Collins at the White House for us, thank you so much.

The U.S. has given Ukraine more than $2 billion in security stance. The two veterans in Congress say that's not enough. One is a Democrat. The other is a Republican. And they're going to join us next together, exclusively, with a big ask they just made of President Biden.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our world lead earlier today, an officer in the U.S. military told me that he thinks it's time for the Biden administration to move at the speed of war, not the speed of bureaucracy, when it comes to providing aid to Ukraine. This officer says it's time to flood the country with military assistance, specifically when it comes to providing air defense and simpler protections such as body armor.

Joining to us discuss, Democrat Congressman Jason Crow from Colorado and Republican Congressman Peter Meijer from Michigan. They both served in the U.S. Army in Iraq. They both worked in Afghanistan as well in different capacities. Congressman Crow, let me start with you. You and your Republican

colleague just issued a few minutes ago a bipartisan letter pressing President Biden to provide even more aid to Ukraine. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said this afternoon that more U.S. aid is being delivered every day.

But why hasn't the more than $2.3 billion in security assistance since the start of Biden administration, why hasn't that been enough in your view?

REP. JASON CROW (D-CO): Hi, Jake. First of all, I think the Biden administration has done a very nice job of rallying an international coalition, imposing crippling sanctions. I think they could do more in the sanctions respectful declassifying intelligence, warning the world, warning Ukrainians that this was coming for months before the invasion occurred and providing billions and getting weapons into the hands of Ukrainians. The fact that they've been able to fight and survive the last month and actually win in many cases is because they have the weapons and the equipment we provided, but war evolves.

And without more, without more quicker, they're going to continue to be up against a wall. So what we saw in Bucha, they're fighting brutal war criminals here. The Russians are going to continue to throw tanks and soldiers at the problem. So we're coming together to show the world, to tell the administration that Congress stands united for more and faster aid.

TAPPER: And, Congressman Meijer, let's talk about the faster part of this. That's one of the big problems we continue to hear about. How long it is taking the military assistance to get to the Ukrainians trying to defend their country. What is the hold-up? What do you want to be done about that?

REP. PETER MEIJER (R-MI): Yeah, thank you, Jake.

I think if you look at various tranches -- you know, we saw the issues with the MiG-29s. We're strongly encouraging this administration to fast track that, to act with the sense of hesitancy, but really, as the officer you were talking to earlier put it, to move at the pace of war. There are other things that require a longer lead time. Stinger and Javelin production up to where it needs to be. You know, that is going to require some logistical feats of strength on the back end.

And then, frankly, continue to be creative, scouring the world for other -- especially the Soviet weaponry that the Ukrainian troops are already trained on, right? There is no one single solution but what we are seeing in this letter is that Congress is standing united. We have dozens of bipartisan members form the committees of jurisdiction, foreign affairs, armed services, intelligence, who are all saying we back moving at the speed of war to get the Ukrainians what they need.

TAPPER: Congressman Crow, retired General Mark Hertling says when giving arms to other countries, it's important to remember, quote, one, can the army -- Ukrainian army operate the system now.

[16:40:05] Two, can the army support the system, and is there the ability to repair and sustain it?

Three, will the new weapon system contribute to either short term or long term success on the ballot. And, finally, four, can the receiving nation, in this case, Ukraine, for the system, or this comes as part of the defense aid program.

So, you're an Army Ranger .Are all these considerations part of your request?

CROW: Yeah, they are. And, you know, we developed this letter with a couple things in mind. Number one, what the Ukrainians say they need. Another principle, really important principle of war and combat is that you normally defer to the person closest to the problem. You defer to the field commander who is closest in the fight because they know what their needs are.

In this case, the Ukrainians are fighting. They're actually winning despite overwhelming odds. They've shown they know how to fight. They how to win and we should defer to that in many instances.

But we're not doing so blindly, either. General Hertling is right. The Department of Defense is right. We have to make sure that we're providing smart aid.

And what this letter does is it says there is a time element to this. There are immediate needs that they can field today. We can get them weapons and equipment, Javelins, Stingers, other things that we can just push to the frontlines. They can immediate use it.

But this is going to be a long-term battle. It is increasingly looking like a long-term fight for the Ukrainians against the Russians. So, at some point, we have to start making a transition to modernizing the Ukrainian military, providing them new systems, training them on those new systems and fielding those systems.

MEIJER: Jake, if I can jump in. One thing that is important for the viewers to understand. One thing, the pushback we've seen from the administration is to say, well, there are X number of this vehicle or X number of these systems already out there. But Ukrainians aren't planning to expend every last drop.

They need to be thinking long term as well. It is important that our aid and defense assistance is looking out over the horizon. We're only in the sixth week of this conflict. I pray that it ends tomorrow, but if it doesn't, we need to be prepared for that.

TAPPER: All right. Democratic Congressman Jason Crow, Republican Congressman Peter Meijer, thank you both so much. Really appreciate it. Of course, as always, thank you for your service.

Coming up next, Kremlin connections to the owner of a Colorado steel mill and the workers who feel they could have ties to Putin's brutal on Ukraine.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our money lead, new calls for tougher sanctions against Russia after the atrocities allegedly committed by Russia in Bucha, Ukraine. The European Union says it's urgently working on another round of sanctions and President Biden says he's looking at additional economic pressure on Russia. The impact of these sanctions is growing.

Even in the U.S., CNN's Drew Griffin reports on a steel plant in Colorado. It is owned by a company connected to a powerful Russian oligarch accused of potentially supplying Putin's military.


DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It is an impressive sight. Americans steel being forged by 1,200 proud U.S. workers, in a steel mill that is operated in Pueblo, Colorado, for nearly 150 years.

EVRAZ Steel could not be a better symbol of American industrial resurgence, except for one now gut-wrenching problem. It's Russian.

CHUCK PERKO, PRESIDENT, STEELWORKERS LOCAL 3267: We have that stigma of being a Russian-owned company.

GRIFFIN: Two thirds of all shares are owned by Kremlin connected Russians, and its biggest shareholder is the oligarch Roman Abramovich, who is closely aligned with Vladimir Putin and has been sanctioned by the U.K., E.U., and Canada.

The British claim Abramovich is or has been involved in destabilizing Ukraine, including potentially supplying steel to the Russian military, which may have been used in the production of tanks.

The company denies it. But when Russia invaded Ukraine, U.S. steelworkers here in Pueblo, woke up to a distasteful possibility that somehow they are supporting Vladimir Putin in this.

DANIEL DURAN, UNITED STEELWORKERS LOCAL 3267: Hearing all the stuff, it is heartbreaking. And you know, I have my own kids, and that makes it tough to sit there and see all of the stuff going on.

GRIFFIN: Steelworkers Daniel Duran, Rique Lucero and Chuck Perko are afraid of what might happen if Abramovich is sanctioned by the U.S.

RIQUE LUCERO, UNITED STEELWORKERS LOCAL 3267: The uncertainty is scary. It's so scary.

GRIFFIN: Uncertain for your jobs?

LUCERO: For the jobs, yes.

PERKO: I disdain what is going on over there, but my company is not Abramovich's country in my eyes.

GRIFFIN: David Ferryman is senior vice president of EVRAZ North America.

Do you consider this a Russian-owned company?

DAVID FERRYMAN, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT, EVRAZ NORTH AMERICA: I don't. We are headquartered, independent operation in Chicago. We have our own CEO. We have our own board of directors. We are based in London. Yes, the parent company has a large footprint in Russia.

GRIFFIN: That footprint includes a massive Russian business. EVRAZ 2021 report shows revenue of over $14 billion, and that 16 percent of the parent company's revenue is derived from the North American plants.


Abramovich himself made $522 million from EVRAZ's dividends last year.

Ferryman insists that the revenues generated in EVRAZ steel mills across North America are reinvested in the company in North America.

So your position is that these are completely separate entities?

FERRYMAN: I'm not saying they're completely separate. Those earnings stay here in North America, and they're invested into these facilities.

GRIFFIN: Technically, that may make sense to you.

But when we watch what's happening, there are a lot of people wondering, how a Russian oligarch can invest in a U.S. steel mill, and be making some money here, while also playing footsie with Vladimir Putin?

FERRYMAN: I can't speak to that. But I can tell you is we're about as American a company as it gets here in Pueblo. We have been here longer than Colorado has been a state. We are critical to our nation's infrastructure.

CASEY MICHEL, AUTHOR: The thing to remember is this is all connected.

GRIFFIN: Oligarch expert and author Casey Michel says that there is no doubt that Abramovich's money helps Putin. The EU said Abramovich is providing a substantial source of revenue to the government of the Russian federation.

MICHEL: There is no such thing as an independent or apolitical oligarch. These parasitic figures that extracted wealth in Russia, and they are now extracting wealth in the United States of America, all on behalf of a dictatorship in the Kremlin.

GRIFFIN: Exactly, says Ukrainians for Colorado president Marina Dubrova. MARINA DUBROVA, PRESIDENT, UKRAINIANS OF COLORADO: It doesn't matter

how many -- what's the stakes he owns in that country. Any stakes, half percent, even one tenth of a percent, that portion has to be sold.

GRIFFIN: Union President Chuck Perko agrees, Abramovich should sell. To him, it's personal.

PERKO: I am the grandson of war refugees, the Russians came into my grandparents' farm in 1945 and told them you have one hour to leave. It hurts a little bit, but there is enough of a disconnect for me that I can go to the work, and know that we're not funding that war effort. We're completely separate.

GRIFFIN: Despite UK, EU, and Canadian sanctions against him, so far, the United States has not touched Roman Abramovich.

DUBROVA: The United States is still ignoring the fact that civilians are being killed, look at Mariupol. I mean, how much more evidence does the United States has to have to make a decision?



GRIFFIN: As for why the Biden administration has not sanctioned Abramovich yet, Jake, Phil Mattingly at the White House is reporting the Treasury officials are looking into it but are also trying to figure out how to do that without punishing these EVRAZ U.S. plants and obviously, the jobs and the economy that goes with it -- Jake.

TAPPER: Drew Griffin, thank you so much.

Coming up, how the Russian invasion is taking a visible toll on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

Stay with us.



ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

TAPPER: I'm Jake Tapper and you are watching THE LEAD. And we are live from the Western Ukrainian city of Lviv.

This hour, President Biden today drawing a distinction between genocide and war crimes after revelations of atrocities committed against the Ukrainian people. Coming up, we'll discuss whether Putin and Russian forces are guilty of one or both.

Plus, the American man we met here in Lviv today, he was adopted as a child from Ukraine to the United States. And he explains why he felt compelled to return to his war-torn native land. TAPPER: And leading this hour, international outrage about the

atrocities against the innocent men, women and children here in Ukraine, including a mass grave in Bucha and slaughter in the streets. Western leaders calling for investigations as President Biden confirms new sanctions are on the way.

But is this all just so much fiddling while Rome burns?

About 300 miles of here is CNN's Fred Pleitgen. He's live for us from Kyiv.

And, Fred, you witnessed the site of a mass grave in Bucha on church grounds. Tell us what you saw.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, you're absolutely right, Jake. And, generally, the situation there in Bucha is absolutely devastating. It's a scene of utter destruction. That place was held by Russian forces for round about a month. There was some heavy fighting and apparently also, a lot of civilians, not apparently, definitely, also a lot of civilians who were killed.

Right now, the people there in Bucha after the Russian forces have with drawn from that area, they're trying could come to terms with that. They're still discovering dead bodies in almost all the buildings and all the places that we've seen around that area. We today went to Bucha. We went around that area.

And I want to show you what we saw. We have to warn our viewers, what you're about to see is extremely graphic and very disturbing.


PLEITGEN (voice-over): Ukrainian authorities in Bucha lead us into a basement they call a Russian execution chamber. It is a gruesome scene, five bodies, their hands tied behind their backs, shot.

The bullet casings collected by Ukrainian police. Pockmarks from bullets in the walls.

The Ukrainians say these men were killed when Russian forces used this compound as a military base while occupying Bucha.