Return to Transcripts main page

The Lead with Jake Tapper

Ukraine Warns Fighting For Donbas Will Rival World War II; U.N. Votes To Suspend Russia From Human Rights Council; Senate Confirms Ketanji Brown Jackson To Supreme Court; Senate Confirms Ketanji Brown Jackson To Supreme Court; House Passes Ban On Russian Oil, Coal & Gas Imports; The Challenges Of Reporting From A War Zone. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired April 07, 2022 - 16:00   ET



ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: I'm standing on a rooftop looking out on Lviv on day 43 of Russia's brutal invasion of Ukraine. I'm Jake Tapper. And welcome to this special broadcast of THE LEAD, live from western Ukraine.

A warning today from the Ukrainian foreign minister, that the fight for the Donbas region in southeastern Ukraine could be reminiscent of World War II.

Dmytro Kuleba saying that the heaviest fighting is yet to come, predicting thousand of tanks, armored vehicles, planes fighting in major formations for control of the region.

Mr. Kuleba in Brussels today also made this plea to NATO nations, including the United States.


DMYTRO KULEBA, UKRAINIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: Either you help us now, and I'm speaking about days, not weeks, or your help will come too late. And many people will die. Many civilians will lose their homes. Many villages will be destroyed.


TAPPER: One of the many cities already destroyed, Mariupol, which has been under siege for 40 days. The mayor now estimates at least 5,000 people have been killed in his city alone, including more than 200 children. A Ukrainian military commander still there tells CNN that Russian military forces are trying to wipe Mariupol, quote, off the face of the earth.

This was the scene on the ground in eastern Ukraine earlier today. CNN's Ivan Watson witnessing crowds rushing to board an evacuation train heading from there to here, to Lviv, where I am right now. Ukrainian government officials are warning civilians across Eastern Ukraine, from the Donbas region to north to Kharkiv, that the Russians are advancing. In New York today, a largely symbolic but also necessary move, the

United Nations voting to suspend Russia from the Human Rights Council. The council does not have any legal authority and indeed includes other countries that regularly violate human rights, including China. But the panel is conducting its own investigation into alleged Russian war crimes.

CNN chief international anchor, Christiane Amanpour, joins me now live from Kyiv.

And, Christiane, what do you make of this comparison by Ukraine's foreign minister that fighting in the east could soon resemble the major formations and armaments of World War II?

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Well, look, I think he's probably absolutely right because we have seen the retreat and the failure of Russian forces to get any of their strategic objectives anywhere else around the country. So what they have done and what they will continue to do according to all the intelligence and from what they say themselves from Moscow, they are going to be redirecting all their firepower on that eastern part. So when the foreign minister says that, he means tanks, he means heavy artillery, he means aircraft bombing from above like the blitz over London during World War II, that kind of thing.

And that is why they are asking very, very firmly now not for just what they're going to get but when they're going to get it. As he said, we need the help now. In a few days, it could be too late. And that is the crux of the issue, that NATO needs to get the weaponry into the Ukrainian hands to defend themselves within the right period of time and not before it's too late.

So that's what the Ukrainians are really asking for, because it seems, at least according to certain analysts and the like, that what they want to do, the Russians, is to seize and hold and control that territory, expand what they have now along the east, keep the south and then negotiate from there.

Some analysts have suggested that the Kremlin sees sort of a North/South Korea divide where they will have their side is North Korea, I don't know, but in any event have that land and create that situation on a divided country. And so that's the things that obviously Ukraine is incredibly worried about, because they don't want to give up any land and they want to push the Russians back to the Russian border.

TAPPER: Christiane, usually, the Russians lie very easily. They said they weren't going to invade Ukraine, for starters. But in an interview with sky news today, the spokesman for the Kremlin, Dmitry Peskov, admitted they have suffered significant troops in Ukraine.


Russia in general has not been willing to admit that the war is not going according to plan. Is that significant, do you think? AMANPOUR: I do. It's interesting because I think now they have no

choice, right? Because they have seen what's happened in most of the rest of the country, and that body bags are going back to Russia and that Russian families will start, you know, talking about it and when they receive their dead.

And so I think they're trying to get out potentially ahead of that. But interestingly, it was in fact even two weeks ago about that a Russian spokesperson said the same. Actually put the level of casualties somewhere close to where U.S. and other NATO intelligence had put the level of Russian casualties and that was taken down off the publication in which it was published.

So maybe it's just now they're ready to say that because of the obvious nature of what everybody is being able to see on the ground as the Russians retreat. And the interesting part about that is according to U.S. analysis and intelligence, once you lose a certain percentage of your fighting force, then you lose unit cohesion and you lose everything it takes to actually be able to wage a successful campaign.

And we've seen that they were unable to wage a successful campaign in the rest of Ukraine.

TAPPER: CNN's Christiane Amanpour live for us in Kyiv this evening, thank you so much.

To the Southeast now and the key port city of Mykolaiv where nowhere is safe, nowhere from Russian strikes, including the city's cancer hospital, including a market full of civilians.

CNN's Ben Wedeman met some of the victims of Russia's latest brutality there and others desperately trying to get to safer ground.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This has become Mykolaiv's daily routine, picking up the pieces, sweeping away the wreckage from Russian missile attacks. Random shelling throughout the city with what appear to be cluster munitions.

Glass shards and shrapnel tore into Marina. As she lies in the hospital, her thoughts are with her teenage daughter, also injured, now in a children's hospital.

My daughter and I were caught between two bombs, she recalls. It's a miracle we're still alive. It was terrifying.

The hospital where Marina is recovering was hit in the morning. Dirt covers the blood from one of the injured.

Closed circuit television video from the city's cancer hospital captures the moment it was struck.

Earlier this week, a missile barrage killed nine people and wounded more than 40 at this market.

We were able to count 23 impact points in a radius of just 100 meters. Each one of these incoming rounds sprays shrapnel in every direction.

Danilo was working in this store and rushed outside when he heard the blasts. Over there a woman was screaming, "Help me." her leg was shattered, he says. Behind the store, two people were killed. Dried blood and flowers mark the spot where people died.

Last week, a bomb struck the regional governor's office, killing 36 people. Every day in Mykolaiv, this relentless bombardment shatters any semblance of normal life. Mid-afternoon people line up to escape the danger, this bus bound for Poland. Victoria cradles her 1-year-old daughter. Her husband stays behind.

Soon, we'll be back home, says Victoria. Everything will be all right. How soon that will be, nobody knows.


WEDEMAN: And the mayor of Mykolaiv tells us already about a third of the population of this city has fled. Now it looks like more are leaving -- Jake.

TAPPER: CNN's Ben Wedeman live in Mykolaiv, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

Also today, CNN getting a first look at the utter devastation and heartbreak after Russian forces withdrew from the areas around Chernikiv, northeast of the capital of Kyiv.

CNN's Clarissa Ward is there for us right now live.

Clarissa, tell us about the destruction you saw today and how the innocent civilians are coping with their losses there.

CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So, Jake, you can probably see it's completely pitch black behind me and that's because there's still a blackout here, even though Russian forces have withdrawn. No one here believes that this is going to be permanent. They live in fear after just weeks and weeks of a brutal assault from Russian forces. We're just 45 miles from the Belarusian border.


So, this place was very quickly surrounded. It was constantly bombarded. You can see some of the images we were able to capture today from the northern part of the city in particular, which has just been absolutely devastated.

All around, people are still struggling because in addition to the bombardment, Jake, this was a city under siege. There was no food, there was no water, there's no electricity. There's still no water and no electricity in many parts of the city.

And they're just now starting to get a sense of the real scale and scope of the devastation. Not just in terms of the damage to those buildings, but in terms of the number of people who have been killed and the number of people who died not because of the bombardment even but because of the fact that they couldn't even get to the hospital. That is how intensive the shelling, the missiles, the relentless targeting of often civilian structures in this besieged city, Jake.

TAPPER: And, Clarissa, you came across a new cemetery in town. Tell us about that.

WARD: So, first of all, when you arrive at the morgue now, the local authorities are saying that 350 civilians were killed by bombardment alone. Many hundreds of others died often for simple health reasons, pneumonia, diabetes, a heart attack, which might have been treated had they been able to get to the hospital, but of course they weren't because of that bombardment.

And you can see those makeshift caskets that have been built. They basically have run out of coffins. People aren't making coffins anymore. And they can't keep up with the flow of the dead. So they're anticipating that they will find many more dead as they continue to sort of sift through the rubble. As you mentioned, that new cemetery, because of the constant shelling, they weren't able to get to the city's main cemetery. They had to literally clear an entire wooded area and dig huge trenches and put the bodies of the dead in these trenches with these sort of small placards with their names on them.

And what you see when you visit this cemetery, Jake, which is just so heart wrenching to see are people wandering through the cemetery, looking around and trying to find the graves of their loved ones, because for so many of them, they didn't know whether they had been killed, where they had been killed, had their body been taken to the morgue.

There was a complete blackout in terms of communications. They had no way to get in touch with each other. As I said before, they're only starting now to get a sense of where their loved ones might be. And you see them walking through this cemetery looking at every single placard, hoping to be able to find their family members, to be able to say that final good-bye, Jake.

TAPPER: CNN's Clarissa Ward, thank you so much.

History in the making. This afternoon, the U.S. Senate confirmed the very first Black woman to the Supreme Court. How soon-to-be Justice Jackson might influence the high court. We'll take a look at that.

Plus, an eyewitness account of the brutal horrors in Bucha from a Ukrainian parliament member who recently toured the devastation.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: Earlier today, the United Nations General Assembly voted to suspend Russia from its Human Rights Council. The vote was 93 countries in favor of the suspension, 24 opposed, 58 countries abstained. This comes after the horrific images and eyewitness accounts emerging of atrocities allegedly committed by Russian soldiers in places such as Bucha, Ukraine.

My next guest is Oleksandr Merezkho. He's a member of the Ukrainian parliament. He recently toured Bucha after the horrifying mass killings there and he joins us now live from Kyiv.

Thank you so much for joining us. You sent us some photos that you took in Bucha of the mass graves. Before we show them, I want to warn our viewers these are very disturbing before we show them. Let's start with the mass graves. We'll show those images. Tell us what we're looking at and tell us about the mass graves you saw.

OLEKSANDR MEREZKHO, UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT: Yeah, this is a mass grave which is located right next to the building of the church. And the church itself was also shelled and it was obvious. We could see the holes, for example, in the church. According to the priest, we talked to the priest, in this mass grave were around 280 people.

In the beginning, there were 68, if I'm not mistaken, dead bodies brought initially, and later the death toll was growing.

TAPPER: And do we have any idea who those individuals were? And did people witness who did this?

MEREZKHO: These were just civilians, people absolutely peaceful people who lived in Bucha and who became victims of Russian atrocities. They were killed. They were killed by Russian troops.

TAPPER: Let's show the pictures that you took of buildings of cars that have been shelled beyond recognition also in Bucha. Civilians were there when this was happening, when these munition, these bombs were going off.

What did local survivors have to tell you about what happened to the people who lived in these apartments and these homes?

MEREZKHO: Many of those people who were in these apartments in residential buildings were either killed or severely injured. I talked to some people standing in the line to get humanitarian aid.


And they were asking in the horror, in their eyes, they were asking only one question. Are they going to come back? This -- and the question about Russians.

They were absolutely horrified. And I got the impression that they wanted to forget this nightmare as soon as possible. And I got an impression that it was not just indiscriminate shelling. To me, it looked like it was deliberate shelling to target civilian objects, to target civilians.

TAPPER: I understand you're from Kyiv. Your city and its surrounding area, including Bucha, have faced so much shelling in this invasion. How are your family members? How are your friends and neighbors?

MEREZKHO: Well, I stayed with my family, two small children, two small daughters in Kyiv. Since I'm a member of parliament, I think that we should be with our people. We didn't leave Kyiv, even though half of the population of Kyiv had to flee.

One of my colleagues, she used to live in Bucha. I did know about her fate. I got in touch with her later and she described a situation, she said that she has never seen anything like that in her whole life.

And she was lucky enough to escape through the humanitarian corridor. She said that she was lucky because before her escape and after her escape, it was impossible to use this humanitarian corridor because it was deliberately shelled by Russian troops.

TAPPER: And there's obviously this great fear that the crimes that we saw committed in Bucha, the atrocities, are happening all over Ukraine and we just don't yet know about it because so much territory is still under Russian control.

MEREZKHO: Yes, unfortunately we're only discovering these atrocities. We have known recently and some argue that the situation is even worse in terms of a humanitarian catastrophe. It was almost completely ruined, and the most regrettable part, that Russia continues to commit these atrocities. They're continuing.

TAPPER: Oleksandr Merezkho, member of the Ukrainian parliament, thank you so much. Really appreciate your time today. Please stay safe.

Coming up, a moment the United States had never seen before today, the very first black woman ever confirmed to the nation's highest court.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our politics lead, a major and historic day in the United States of America. Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson's first official confirmation as the first Black female United States Supreme Court justice.

Judge Jackson watched the moment from the White House with President Biden and with the first Black female vice president of the United States, Kamala Harris, presiding over the momentous vote.


KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: On this vote, the ayes are 53, the nays are 47, and this nomination is confirmed.



TAPPER: The vice president is, of course, the president and presiding officer of the U.S. Senate.

Joining us now to discuss, CNN legal analyst and Supreme Court biographer, Joan Biskupic.

Joan, explain the historical significance of this confirmation.

JOAN BISKUPIC, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Thanks, Jake, and it's good to see you.

Two hundred and thirty-three years the Supreme Court has existed in America and only today for the first time has a black woman been confirmed to that bench. It's of the same magnitude as 1967 when Thurgood Marshall became the first African American justice, 1981 when Sandra Day O'Connor was confirmed as the first woman justice, and 2009 when Sonia Sotomayor broke a barrier as the first Hispanic justice.

And if Judge Jackson, soon-to-be Justice Jackson, serves as long as Stephen Breyer whom she's succeeding, she will be on the bench until 2050, Jake. So quite a legacy for President Joe Biden. Long after he's gone, she will still be determining the law of the land.

And I know as you're aware, she's not going to change right now the ideological balance on this court with six conservatives controlling and three liberals, because she's succeeding another Democratic appointed liberal. But she's going to bring youthfulness. She's 32 years younger than Justice Breyer. She's got very distinct experience as a federal public defender. They never had someone like that on the bench. We have to go all the way back to Thurgood Marshall as someone who had a record of advocating for criminal defendants and she was a trial judge. Only Justice Sotomayor has that.

So I think that she will impact this court in many ways, even though she will not change the ideological balance right away, Jake.

TAPPER: Yeah, and arguably she's more progressive than Stephen Breyer who when he was appointed was something more in the center-left mold.

Joan Biskupic, thank you so much. Good to see you, as always.

Also in our politics lead -- and even a more lopsided instance of bipartisanship on Capitol Hill. The House of Representatives voting 413-9 in favor of a Senate-passed bill that would ban U.S. imports of Russian oil, coal and natural gas. This comes as Secretary of State Antony Blinken was meeting about more sanctions on Russia and still more military aid for Ukraine.

CNN's Phil Mattingly joins us now from the White House.

And, Phil, the Biden administration today defended its efforts to get help to Ukraine's military.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, you mentioned lawmakers. I was texting with one earlier and said what kind of weapons do you want to see sent to Ukraine? And all he responded was more.

I think the administration hears that, knows that, and is trying to respond to that, not just from Capitol Hill, but from Ukrainian officials. To this point, they have sent $1.7 billion in lethal assistance to Ukraine since the start of the war. And that is continuing every single day.

Even a couple of days ago, Jake, the administration okayed another $100 million in Javelin anti-tank systems at a specific request from Ukrainian officials.

However, I asked White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki about the efforts to get allied systems, particularly S300 surface to air missile systems, armor, how that process was going. She said it was still under way, no final decisions to announce yet but that is a critical component of assistance Ukrainians have requested and thus far not received.

TAPPER: Phil, also today, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi disclosed that she tested positive for COVID. We should note she was with President Biden just yesterday. What does the White House have to say?

MATTINGLY: Yeah, a wave has washed over public officials here in Washington. And President Biden was not just with Speaker Pelosi yesterday, also two days ago, very close quarters. However, the White House says the president is not a close contact with the speaker because it didn't accumulate more than 15 total minutes.

At this point, he is not masking up. We saw the pictures of him with Ketanji Brown Jackson earlier today. There is a public event to celebrate the Supreme Court confirmation tomorrow. He tested negative yesterday. Still keeping a close eye on it but White House officials saying nothing major has changed, Jake.

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

Coming up, bearing witness to a brutal invasion in your own backyard. I'm going to talk to a Ukrainian journalist about covering this war while his own family is in danger.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: Turning back to our world lead, the challenges of reporting from a war zone that also happens to be your home. That's what Ukrainian reporters here are facing every day, many on the front lines trying to bear witness to this brutal war to tell these important stories, reporting on the atrocities committed by Putin's forces, even as this invasion is uprooting the lives of their families.

Joining us now, Ukrainian journalist Romeo Kokriatski live from Vinnytsia, in the center of the country.

Thank you so much for joining us.

Like so many other Ukrainians, this war is greatly impacting you and your family in so many ways. You've been forced to evacuate your home near Kyiv. Just a few days ago, your in-laws home outside Kyiv was shelled by Russian forces. You posted this photo of the destruction on Twitter and you said it's a miracle that your father-in-law survived. Tell us about what happened.

ROMEO KOKRIATSKI, MANAGING EDITOR, NEW VOICE UKRAINE: Yeah, hi, Jake. Thanks for having me on.

Yeah. Well, the rest of the family evacuated a few days before that attack. At the time we had known that the Russians were steadily making their way down from Sumy, which is in the far northeast of the country on the Russian border. They were making their way down the highway towards Kyiv.

Unfortunately, my in-laws' village lay pretty much directly on that highway. So we knew that they were coming. My brother-in-law and his family got out and so did my mother-in-law, but my father-in-law was a little stubborn and decided to stay.

Luckily, the night basically before the actual occupation of the village, he woke up in the middle of the night, went into the cellar, he had a bad premonition. And coming out in the morning, he saw that the house had been shelled. If he hadn't just woken up, then I honestly shudder to think what could have happened to him.

TAPPER: Is everyone in your family safe now? And how are your in-laws dealing with the loss of their home and their possessions?

KOKRIATSKI: Yeah, thank god everyone is safe. But obviously, it's been incredibly difficult. The rest of my family is still outside the village. They haven't come back. The government has not cleared it for re-habitation. The entire area was mined as the Russians were retreating. So, it's incredibly dangerous.

However, my mother and father-in-law, they needed to see what happened. We've known that it had gotten shelled and we had seen some pictures coming in from the village. But they needed to see what happened with their own two eyes.

And at the moment they're struggling, to be honest. It's just absolutely devastating. I mean, half the house is gone. The Russians stole everything that wasn't blown up.


And we're trying to figure out where to move forward from here.

TAPPER: You're an editor for a news organization called the New Voice of Ukraine. Tell us about some of the dangers you and other Ukrainian journalists are facing as you try to report on what's happening here.

KOKRIATSKI: I mean, luckily, my situation has been more or less safe. But a lot of journalists on the front lines have been wounded, they have been killed. A colleague of mine, Max Levin, one of the most talented photojournalists in the country was shot. We found his body just a week ago in the north of Kyiv. Another one of my colleagues was kidnapped and held where she was threatened into making a confession video. But luckily she is unharmed, but still it is incredibly dangerous,

even now that the Russians have retreated from most of the north of the country. There are still land mines everywhere. The Russians booby trapped even the corpses that they shot.

So, coming out to even just document the atrocities that they have made is still incredibly dangerous. Of course, as the Russians are gearing up for a new offensive in the east and south of the country, heading down there will once again be heading into an active war zone.

TAPPER: I don't know if you saw this, but earlier today Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov who was the winner of last year's Nobel Peace Prize said he was attacked with red paint during a train ride in Russia. We're going to put up the pictures.

Muratov says the attackers yelled at him, quote, here's to you for our boys. I guess doesn't think that Muratov was supportive enough of Russian soldiers and this attack came after Muratov announced that he was going to auction off his Nobel Prize in order to raise funds for Ukrainian refugees.

As difficult as it is to be a Ukrainian journalist, I'm sure you'll agree being a Russian journalist right now is just -- must be terrifying.

KOKRIATSKI: I mean, they don't have an independent press anymore. They have implemented such strict censorship in the country that it is more or less comparable to the level of control that Goebbels had in Nazi Germany. Absolutely nothing the government doesn't sign off on gets printed, gets shown, gets run. It is insanely dangerous to be an independent journalist in Russia now.

I mean, it was never very safe before. But at the moment, even the last vestiges of independence have completely disappeared from their media landscape. And so, they're only receiving these propagandized absolutely false narratives that the Putin regime wants to show the Russian people and nothing else. The fact that Muratov survived to be honest is an absolute miracle.

TAPPER: Romeo, thank you so much for your time. Please stay safe. We appreciate it. Stay in touch with our show, we'd love to have you back.

Coming up, a train filled with hope and stories of horror. Ivan Watson riding along with Ukrainians fleeing for their lives. That's next.



TAPPER: In our world lead, a humanitarian catastrophe. That's what one Ukrainian military commander called the situation in Mariupol, warning that Russian military forces are trying to wipe the besieged city, quote, off the face of the Earth.

Ukrainians in the east and south have been desperately fleeing for weeks. And as CNN's Ivan Watson reports for us now, some civilians have managed to escape on evacuation trains and are sharing horror stories of what they have witnessed.


IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Ukrainian families on the run. More than a month after Russia invaded, civilians are still fleeing from the threat of the Russian military, hurrying towards a waiting train. An air raid siren rings out as the train begins to move. This couple just a few minutes too late.

The evacuation train is now leaving the station. There are about 1,100 passengers onboard this train. All of them are evacuees who are traveling for free. They'll be traveling for the next 24 hours. This train carrying this human cargo to safety in Western Ukraine.

The war forced everyone here to flee their homes, including the crew of the train. Head conductor Sergey Hrishenko ran the last train out of the city of Mariupol on February 25th, the day after Russia launched its invasion. There have been no trains from Mariupol since, as a month-long Russian siege has destroyed much of the city.

SERGEY HRISHENKO, HEAD CONDUCTOR (through translator): My whole team, 20 conductors, everybody left with me. Many of them were made homeless, lost their apartments. Some of them lost relatives.

WATSON: Hrishenko says his team spent the next month living and working on the train nonstop, struggling to evacuate crowds are desperate and panicked Ukrainians, especially during the first weeks of the war.


Sergey estimates during the month that he and his team were working, they evacuated around 100,000 people.

WATSON: These days, the crowds have gotten smaller, but strangers are still packed together for this long trip. Everyone seems to be fleeing a different part of eastern Ukraine.

Delina Valderinka (ph) fled her village outside the city of Zaporizhzhia with her 19-year-old son after enduring two weeks of Russian shelling.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I feel outrage, complete outrage, and I feel fear when they are shooting.

WATSON: Some evacuees brought their pets.

The kitten is handling the train ride a little bit better than the puppy.

The two families sharing this compartment met each other on the train for the very first time.

I've been speaking with Katya who is eight months pregnant right now and she is traveling alone with her daughter heading west because they don't know what will happen. I asked, where are you going to give birth to your child? And she said, well, wherever it's safe right now.

And that's -- that's just an example of one family. She's left her husband behind. He's serving in the military right now.

Further down the train, I meet a group of women and children who just escaped southern Ukraine.

How long did you live under Russian military occupation?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: One month. One month from 27 February.

WATSON: How would you describe that experience?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All this time, I went outside only two times, just because I hear a lot of cases of --



WATSON: In addition to hearing unconfirmed stories of rape, the women told me they have seen drunk and filthy Russian soldiers asking residents for supplies like food and toilet paper.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They put flags on our building, main building.

WATSON: Which flags?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Russian flags, just like that.

WATSON: On the police station?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everywhere. They just love this, I think. And they think that flag can change our minds, our Ukrainian minds. But it's not work like this.

I want the Russian people also come back on their land. They have a lot of land, just a lot of land on the map. And I hope it will be enough for them. Just stop, please. It's very painful for everyone here, for everyone in this train and outside. It was very peaceful life without this attacks.

WATSON: I've gotten off after a relatively short journey. This train still has more than 20 hours to go across country. It will end up in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv. But for most of the more than 1,100 evacuees onboard, all forced to flee their homes by this terrible war, their final destination is likely unclear.


WATSON (on camera): Jake, as we speak, that train is still traveling. It still has more than 12 hours to go.

Now, reporting on this, I learned a very interesting detail. Ukraine state railways company, it announced that after Russia invaded Ukraine, that there were more than 15,000 Russian railway cars on Ukrainian territory. And the Ukrainian government is planning to nationalize that property. The state railway company says that there were only 482 Ukrainian cars on Russian territory.

Either when Russia invaded it anticipated it would take over the country quickly and not have to worry about its trains and its railway cars, or they just never took that into consideration when they invaded Ukraine and made it a truly hostile country -- Jake.

TAPPER: Ivan Watson, remarkable report coming to us live from Kryvyi Rih, Ukraine. Thank you so much. Really, really appreciate it.

A source says that Germany has recordings of Russian soldiers describing atrocities that they carried out. How what they said could be used as evidence of war crimes.

Stay with us.



ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

TAPPER: And welcome back to this special broadcast of THE LEAD live from Western Ukraine. I'm Jake Tapper, and I'm standing on a rooftop looking out on Lviv on day 43 of Russia's brutal invasion of Ukraine.

And we begin this hour with major fighting under way in eastern Ukraine and a haunting prediction from the country's top diplomat today in Brussels.


DMYTRO KULEBA, UKRAINIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: The battle for Donbas will remind you of Second World War. Either you help us now, and I'm speaking about days, not weeks, or your help will come too late.


TAPPER: Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba there predicting large operations, major operations with thousands of tanks and armored vehicles, planes and artillery and pleading once again for more weapons from NATO countries, including the U.S.