Return to Transcripts main page

Don Lemon Tonight

Heavy Fighting In Ukraine Continues; Biden: We Would Respond If Putin Uses Chemical Weapons; Klitschko Brothers Lead Battle To Keep Russians Out Of Kyiv; Ukrainian Crew Member Tried To Sink Yacht Tied To Russian Oligarch; Inside A Children's Hospital In Eastern Ukraine. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired March 24, 2022 - 23:00   ET




DON LEMON, CNN HOST (on camera): This is DON LEMON TONIGHT live in the Lviv, Ukraine.

Aerate sirens sounding throughout Kyiv all day amid heavy fighting on the outskirts of the capital. Ukrainian forces appear to have retaken the territory to the east of Kyiv, north the city in the town of Irpin, under heavy Russian shelling, although the mayor says Ukrainian forces control 80% of Irpin.

That as Ukrainian forces score a big hit in the nearby port of Berdyansk, destroying a Russian ship docked in the harbor.

President Joe Biden meeting today in Brussels with his NATO counterparts, warning the U.S. will respond if Vladimir Putin uses chemical weapons in Ukraine and saying Russia's bloody invasion has only made the NATO alliance stronger.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: The single most important thing is for us to stay unified and the world continue to focus on what a brute this guy is, and all the innocent peoples' lives are being lost and ruined in what's going on.


LEMON (on camera): So, I want to bring in CNN's Hala Gorani. She is here in Lviv. Ben Wedeman is in Vinnytsia. So, thank you both for joining us. I appreciate it. Ben, I'm going to start with you. We are getting new video. One of the Russian tanks Ukrainian forces say they destroyed are seized during fighting east of Kyiv today. What is the latest on their counteroffensive, please?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, it seems to be going far better than anybody might have expected if you look back to the fact that we're four weeks and one day into this war now.

We see, for instance, 35 miles east of Kyiv that they've made a progress and they're really seem to be inflicting significant damage on the hardware of the Russian army. And here, we hear from one Ukrainian soldier, who seems to be confident that things are going very well.


UNKNOWN (voice-over): The operation was a complete success. We decisively repelled the enemy. According to preliminary data, there were about 200 Russian troops. Some of them are in the ground, while others escaped. Three tanks and nine BPM. There is one of them here, which is now in hours.


WEDEMAN (on camera): And other than in that area, it seems that the Russian forces are at best starting to dig in, digging trenches. Now, when you start digging defensive positions like that, clearly, you're not moving forward. So, it does appear that at best in the Kyiv area, the Russian advance has come to a halt and has been pushed back.

And if you take into account the fact that the Russian forces, by all accounts, expected to at best encircle and possibly take Kyiv, they are bogged down, and the lack of progress they've made is stunning, Don.

LEMON: Hala, I want to bring this to you because of this new -- we have this new drone video. This new video is around Irpin. This is northwest of Kyiv. The mayor says that -- tells CNN that 80% of the town is now controlled by the Ukrainian army. I mean, clearly, they are making some gains, but the video shows the cost of that. I mean, look at that. It is incredible.

HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: It is incredible because really the street-to-street fights, this urban warfare, causes this type of damage, especially when you have Ukrainian forces as motivated as they are to defend their towns.

There's also a strategic aspect to this. These are areas outside of Kyiv. As Ben would say, the strategic target and goal of Russians was to encircle the city, right? Because it is a city of three million people. You don't occupy and hold that terrain easily. So, one of the strategies you have is to encircle it, cut it off, and then hope for a surrender.

Not only is that not happening, but Ukrainian forces are pushing back, and in some cases, we understand, according to some reports in some suburban areas, cutting off the Russians from their own supply lines.

So, they are doing a lot better than expected on the ground. But as we've been discussing for weeks now, what President Zelenskyy has asked for, what other Ukrainian officials want, is for western countries to help them defend themselves against this in the skies.

LEMON: In the skies.

GORANI: And that is why they're saying, if you're not going to give us a no-fly zone, at least give us the type of weaponry that would allow us to shoot down planes at a high altitude.

LEMON: We're watching Ben's -- you know, Ben had the soundbite of that Russian -- Ukrainian soldier. I mean, it is amazing, what they have been able to do up against this enormous and giant military of an army, the Russians.


GORANI: Absolutely. And I know you'll be speaking with Cedric Leighton and one of the important aspects of warfare, obviously, and they're an expert, I'm not, they're retired generals, but it's morale. I mean, you know, you have here a country that is willing to defend itself, to fight to the end, to defend their land, their homes, their kids. You don't have that kind of morale on the Russian side.

LEMON: Yeah. Ben, this is what the city -- we're going to put up -- of Mariupol looks like now. And you can see, there is a down powerline, shells of apartment buildings, burnt-out cars. Everything is completely destroyed. How much longer can this city stay in Ukrainian hands?

WEDEMAN: That's a good question, Don, because let's not forget, this is a city far to the east, very near Russian forces -- Russian -- the Russian border, I mean, and logistically, it's difficult for Ukrainian forces to provide any sort of possibility of a counteroffensive certainly to resupply Mariupol.

We've had hundreds of thousands of civilians leaving this city. That's a city before the war had a population of 450,000. Now, it's well below 100,000. And what we've seen is the Russians are using what can only be described as medieval-siege tactics. They've cut off the electricity. They cut off the water. It's very difficult to get anything in there and life is barely livable.

And so, we're talking about morale. I mean, morale only goes so far when you have few tens of thousands of people living in a city that is unlivable. Eventually, it may not be able to hold out. This is a very difficult situation.

But this is the tactic that the Russians seemed to have adopted in the absence of a clear-cut lightning victory over Ukrainian forces. They have resorted to a type of warfare that goes back more than a thousand years. Don?

LEMON: You're right. It's hard to live in the city with no infrastructure, right? It's very, very, very tough.

Thank you. We appreciate it, Ben. Hala, we will see you at the top of the hour. She will be leading our coverage here on CNN in just a bit.

GORANI: See you then.

LEMON (on camera): I want to turn now to CNN's Phil Black for the very latest on where this war stands one month after the Russian invasion. But I must warn you, some of what you're about to see is really disturbing. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Russian military says it's in control of this port. That fiercely burning ship suggests otherwise. The landing vessel Orsk began exploding in Berdyansk not long after sunrise. Other boats and warships can be seen scrambling to get away from the fire as debris folds in the water around them.

Ukraine says it destroyed the Orsk and the fire spread to a weapons depot. Ukraine hasn't revealed what weapons it used to carry out the attack.

At Izyum, fiercely (INAUDIBLE) territory in the east, a local man inspects what is left of his city, pointing out bodies when he sees them, while shells continue to fall nearby. Russia's military says all this is in their control now. Ukraine says the fight for Izyum isn't over.

Driving through Mariupol is an apocalyptic experience. Bodies and debris lie on the road. Someone is shooting. The driver slams his foot down to get away. Being outside in this besieged city is dangerous. But after weeks of Russia's blockade and constant bombardment, people in Mariupol have no choice but to line up outside for food.

This video from Kharkiv proves the risk. It's the panicked aftermath of a Russian strike on a parking lot with people were also waiting for aid. The region's governor says six people were killed.

And this tour is through what remains of Chernihiv in the country's north. The city's mayor is driving. He says complete carnage has been unleashed here. Civilians across Ukraine's towns and cities are documenting their devastated communities because they want people everywhere to see and understand.

Phil Black, CNN, Lviv, Ukraine.


LEMON (on camera): It is just unbelievable to see the rubble there.

I want to bring in now CNN military analyst and retired Air Force Colonel Cedric Leighton. Colonel Leighton, thank you so much. You can see this video. I mean, wow, how do you live in a place, even if people come back, that has no infrastructure? It's just blown out. It's gone.



That's something that, you know, as modern people who live in cities and live in urban areas, it is really hard for us to understand that all of that can go away and this is really proof of that. It's quite amazing, actually. LEMON: Uh-hmm. We just had the video up of the sinking Russian

warship. It is extraordinary. An attack -- it's an important Russian asset that was attacked and destroyed.

LEIGHTON: Yeah, absolutely. In fact, let me show you a little bit about that. This is the type of warship that we're talking about here. This is an amphibious warship. It is the alligator class. The actual name of the ship that was hit was called the Orsk. This is courtesy of the Japanese. The same types of ships or the ones we talked about awhile back that went between the islands of Honshu and Hokkaido. And you can see they've got about 15 trucks on each of these ships right here.

And when you play the video, it's very interesting to see something. Here you see the actual destruction of the Orsk right here. But take a look at the other ships that are coming through here. This one here is also on fire.

So, you've got two ships that have been hit, one completely damaged, but another one clearly still can get underway. But that is one of the things that is really key to this kind of situation when you've got either sabotage or a missile strike or something like that.

My suspicion is it might be sabotage. But that was an amazing effort by the Ukrainians to sink one of those ships and that has significant impact on Russia's resupply efforts in this area. In fact, when you go here to the southern part of Ukraine, where that happened is right here, right next to Mariupol, and we of course saw the city, you know, as the mayor took us through the town there with all the destruction, where the Orsk was sunk was right about here.

So, that is a major effort and could very well have some difficulties for the Russians as they try to make that famous land bridge that we've talked about.

LEMON: It is fascinating. I mean, remember in the beginning, we were talking strategy and -- I mean, pretty much Ukrainians have held off a lot of the things that you've talked about. You said, you know, you would show us on the map, this is what the Russians are trying to do and they're trying to get this area, they gain the stronghold. And here we are a month later, colonel, and still they have not made much progress. It is astounding.

Let us talk about what the Ukrainians -- what they are saying they need from the U.S. They are saying that they need 500 stinger missiles, 500 javelins per day. But do you think that's what is needed and can the U.S. and our allies effectively keep that supply up?

LEIGHTON: Well, I think that's part of what is needed. Taking a look at the stinger really quickly, this is the man-portable air-defense system par excellence. This is what you want if you want to shoot down low-flying aircraft. When you look at the javelin, this is what you want to get after if you're going after tanks. And that and similar missiles from other NATO countries, they can be really, really important. But it's not the only thing that Ukraine needs. Ukraine needs not only these kinds of missiles, but they also need to make sure that their resupply lines are taken care of.

And, quite frankly, I think, you know, after looking at and reviewing at the performance of the Ukrainian air force, it might actually be the right thing, to move aircraft into Ukraine, do it clandestinely. Of course, we are talking about it openly now. But in the ideal world, you would move this aircraft in clandestinely and let the Ukrainians fly them to, you know, in effect to create their own air space and their own ability to gain air superiority over their own country.

LEMON: Oh, interesting. NATO is agreeing to place sustainably -- substantially, I should say, more troops on the eastern flank, including establishing four additional battle groups. Where will these troops be going and how do these deployments help secure NATO?

LEIGHTON: So, the additional troops will be going into Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria. That's where they will be going in addition to the ones we already have in Poland and in the Baltic states of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.

So, the idea is to create in essence an iron wall between NATO and anything that the Russians would try to gain because, of course, Belarus is a Russian ally, Belarus may also be part of this war effort pretty soon depending on, you know, whether the reports are true or not. They could join up with Ukrainians and -- excuse me, with the Russians and potentially move into Ukraine.


And that would be not necessarily a game changer. I don't think it would do that, but it would at least add some stress to what the Ukrainians are dealing with. And that's something that, you know, we of course would want to avoid. If you look at it from the Ukrainian point of view, it is also something that they definitely want to prevent if at all possible.

LEMON: Thank you, colonel. I appreciate it.

LEIGHTON: You bet, Don.

LEMON (on camera): President Volodymyr Zelenskyy pleading for help from world leaders as his country suffers a brutal assault by a much larger neighbor. What is keeping him going? I'm going to talk to one of his former advisors, next.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, PRESIDENT OF UKRAINE (through translator): Please, never again tell us that our army does not meet NATO's standards. We have shown what standards we can reach, and we have shown how much we can give to the common security of Europe and the world.




LEMON: All right. Take a look at your screen now. You're looking at images of Kyiv, large buildings. Look at that. Wow. Completely destroyed. Cars blown to pieces.

But Ukrainian forces are fighting back. That as President Biden meets with European allies today for emergency summit on Putin's war in Ukraine.

Joining me now from the Ukrainian capital, Igor Novikov, the former advisor to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. We are so happy to have you back on. How are you doing? Are you safe? Everything good?

IGOR NOVIKOV, FORMER ADVISOR TO UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT ZELENSKYY: Yeah. Thank you for having me. Yeah, we're safe. It's been a relatively quiet night so far. I don't want to jinx it.

LEMON: Well -- yeah, CNN seems to have been hearing these air raid sirens and so forth, but so far, you're okay, right?

NOVIKOV: That's considered quiet. That's considered quiet by our standards, yes.

LEMON: Yeah. Okay. So, as we've discussing, President Biden is in Brussels for an emergency meeting with allies about Putin's war in Ukraine. He says weapons are flowing into your country and promising the U.S. will respond if Russia uses chemical weapons. I mean, it was a big show of force from the west, but does it change anything for Ukrainians fighting on the ground?

NOVIKOV: Well, look, when you're in the middle of a war, you know, there is only so much attention you can pay to rhetoric. So, we're looking at actions. And we're incredibly grateful for what has been done so far for Ukraine.

But, you know, in this situation, look, we have a bad contagious disease. It is the question of whether you want to give us vaccine, whether you want to give us like painkillers to relieve the symptoms, or you want to give us the cure, especially since this disease is contagious.

So, at the moment, I think we are the painkiller stage. So, you know, our army at the very high cost in whole Russia back, we can't do that indefinitely. Plus, you know, we have the economic and humanitarian toll building up, you know, the further down the road we go. So, now I think is the pivotal point for the west to decide where does this go long term.

LEMON (on camera): The Ukrainian president, your president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, had a message for NATO leaders today. Let's listen and then I'll get your response. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ZELENSKYY (through translator): Ukraine has asked for planes so that we don't lose so many people. And you have thousands of warplanes. But we haven't been given any. You have at least 20,000 tanks. Ukraine asked for one percent, one percent of all your tanks.


LEMON (on camera): So, CNN is also learning that Ukraine told the U.S. that it needs, I think, 500 anti-aircraft missiles, 500 anti-tank missiles a day to keep fighting the Russians. What happens if you don't get this equipment?

NOVIKOV: Well, nobody knows for sure. I mean, like, we are in day 30 of, you know, Kyiv is going to fall in three days in the stage of this operation. But, look, let me explain one very important thing to you -- actually two very important things.

First of all, it doesn't end in Ukraine. I keep saying this. The economic side of this hybrid world war is already happening in the west. I mean, globalization, the way we understood it and the way we are used to it is over. Russia destroyed it, just like our infrastructure in Ukraine. So, you know, we can hold Russia back but we kind of need help doing it. And I think if we can't do that, you risk the spread of it to at least Eastern Europe.

And war is a perfect kind of lens to show you an undistorted picture of reality. So, at the moment, we're seeing everyone and everything for what and who they really are. So, Zelenskyy, this comedian, turns out to be a great war leader.

You know, we have some Ukrainian businessmen like Rinat Akhmetov turning out to be great, you know, progressive businessman. At the same time, you know, we have certain western leaders and businesses deliberating on how to make money in Russia during the war. How to make, you know, in a politically correct manner.

So, like, look, I think, you know, the future is being shaped now and, you know, I just hope everyone ends up on the right side of history here.

LEMON: The president also says that Ukraine will not pursue membership in NATO if that will end the war. Do you think that could make a difference in negotiations?

NOVIKOV: Well, to be honest, I keep saying we're doing polling and, you know, the first days of this war, Ukrainian people were desperate to join NATO. Now, there is this stage of disillusionment.


So, you know, there is no miraculous cure. I mean, the bombs are still falling. Kids are still dying. So, it is easy to explain to Ukrainian people why -- if neutrality stops the war, why it's important that we do that. But at the same time, like, look, if, you know, the open door becomes truly open at some point, you know, before this is over and that can stop, you know, the killing of our children, you know, we reconsider once again.

LEMON: Yeah. Here in Lviv, I've seen the power of President Zelenskyy, the power he commands. I was in a restaurant earlier in the week and everyone stood up, you know, and stopped what they were doing. They stopped eating, they stopped drinking just to watch him. As this war heads into the second month, what is keeping your president going?

NOVIKOV: Well, he's just like that. Look, everyone is amazed by President Zelenskyy and the way he's acting, the way he's holding up, especially for the American people.

Let me remind you, he's already been in the line of fire. You know, he's already shown respect, dignity and courage when he refused to meddle in your domestic politics. I was there with him, as well. So, it is not the first time he acts as a true, honest and dignified human being. So, don't be surprised and expect more from him, you know, in that front.

LEMON: Igor, always a pleasure. Hey, be safe because we would like to have you back. Of course, we just want you to be safe, all of you. Thank you so much. Thank you.

NOVIKOV: Thank you.

LEMON (on camera): So, they're former world heavyweight boxing champions. Now, these brothers are fighting to defend Ukraine no matter the cost. It's a CNN exclusive, next.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): You're some of the prime targets for the Russians, you know. They are out to get you. Why do you do it? What motivates you?

VITALI KLITSCHKO, MAYOR OF KYIV: It's our homeland. It's our parents here. We're grown up. It's our country. It's our home.





LEMON: Air raid sirens sounding all day and night in Kyiv as Ukrainian forces battle to keep Russian troops out of their capital city. Two of the biggest defenders of Kyiv, mayor and his brother. Both are former heavyweight boxing champs and they're vowing to protect their city from Russian invaders.

Tonight, CNN's Frederik Pleitgen has an exclusive interview with the Klitschko brothers.


PLEITGEN (voice-over): As Vladimir Putin continues his assault on Ukraine, the U.S. believes taking the capital, Kyiv, remains Russia's main goal.

But the city's mayor, former world boxing champ Vitali Klitschko vows Putin's troops will not enter this town. We met the mayor and his brother, Wladimir Klitschko, himself a former boxing champion, in a secret location in Kyiv.

(On camera): Do you think that you have what it takes to fend them off completely and that this city will not be taken by Russia?

KLITSCHKO: It is our hometown. We fight. We never go to the knee. We don't want to be slaves. We don't want back to U.S. Assad (ph) to live -- a dictator -- to live in our territory. We see our country as modern European democratic country.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): The Klitschkos are on the move 24/7, visiting residential areas shelled by the Russian army, sometimes getting emotional when seeing the aftermath of Russian attacks.

UNKNOWN: Putin says he's only targeting military targets.

KLITSCHKO: Sorry. Where is the military target?

PLEIGEN (voice-over): Comforting those affected by the war and overseeing the effort to train those looking to confront Russian forces.

(On camera): You've really stepped up and really have organized the defense of the city. How did you manage to do that and learn that so quickly, learning on the fly?

KLITSCHKO: We don't need to organize. I meet people in blood bath with very peaceful profession: Artist, musician, doctors. Never ever have idea to take the uniform and take the weapons in the hand. But right now, they are in the street and ready to fight.

Two days ago, apartment building destroyed. One man around 60 years old come to me and asked, what happened? What I have to do right now? I give him proposal. I wait for him to my safe zone to the west of Ukraine. He told me, Mr. Klitschko, my mayor, I don't want to leave from my hometown. Please, give me weapons. I'm ready to defend my family, my lovely Kyiv. Instead of the panic, instead of demilitarization, people motivate so much and have spirit to defend our future.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): But they're up against a strong and better- equipped foe.


(voice-over): As President Biden visits Europe to meet NATO allies, the Klitschkos message is, get tougher on Putin.

(On camera): What are your demands? What do you guys need to continue this fight?

WLADIMIR KLITSCHKO, KYIV BRIGADE OF UKRAINIAN DEFENSE FORCE: Our will is strong and it's stronger than any army and any weapon. But we definitely need to close our sky. Our civilians and our cities are getting destroyed. And it's continuing. While we are giving this interview and speaking about it, the fights are still going on.

We need supply of the defensive weapons. And you guys just need to stop any economic relationship with Russia. This way, we will isolate them, make them weaker, and just show that international law cannot be broken. Oil, obviously, the world needs oil and gas, but it's better to pay higher price than to pay with lives for that oil.

PLEITGEN (on camera): And so, you guys, obviously, you want a no-fly zone, I gather, and aircraft, anti-aircraft systems and the like to beat the Russians in the skies. That's one of the most important things, right?

W. KLITSCHKO: If you supply us with defensive weapons, we're going to close the skies on our own. We have enough men and women to stand that are going to stand for the country and will defend as strong as much as possible. And we going to close the sky on our own. We just need the defense equipment for that.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): Vitali Klitschko knows Joe Biden well. The two met both in Washington, D.C. and in Kyiv when Biden was vice president and the U.S. front man for Ukraine policy in the Obama administration.

(On camera): What's your message to Joe Biden as he comes to Europe?

V. KLITSCHKO: Stand with Ukraine. Thank you very much for your support. Support Ukraine. With our friends, we're much stronger. It's our future. It's our freedom. We are ready to fight for that, but we need support from whole democratic world.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): The Klitschkos are international celebrities with massive fan bases in both the U.S. and in Europe. And yet, they say, for them, there is no other place they want to be than in Kyiv despite the dangers.

(On camera): You're some of the prime targets for the Russians, you know. They are out to get you. Why do you do it? What motivates you?

V. KLITSCHKO: It's our homeland. It's our parents here. We're grown up. It's our country. It's our home. And simple answer, we have to be here.

W. KLITSCHKO: Do you know this expression of roots? Our roots are here. Our father was one of the Chernobyl survivors. He was one of the liquidators that buried in Kyiv and these Ukrainians, it could be. Our relatives, our friends, every single street reminds us on some memories in life. And that's something that gives you so much strength because the truth son our side. This pretty much reminds me of like in the fairytale, the fight between the good and evil.

PLEITGEN (On camera): Some pretty strong words there coming from the Klitschko brothers towards Vladimir Putin and, or course, also towards the Russian military that is still not far from the city center of Kyiv. Of course, big battle is going on towards the northwest of Kyiv, also towards the east as well.

The latest that we have is that the Ukrainian military says it's making some headway, but of course, there are still some tough battles surely ahead, Don.


LEMON (on camera): Fred, thank you. I appreciate that.

A Ukrainian crew member explaining how he tried to sink a yacht used by a Russian oligarch to retaliate for the invasion of Ukraine. Our CNN exclusive is next.




LEMON: Tonight, a CNN exclusive. A Ukrainian crew member on a yacht tied to a Russian oligarch revealing to CNN how he tried to sink the vessel when Vladimir Putin's forces invaded his home country. He tells this story to CNN's senior investigative correspondent Drew Griffin.


DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Taras Ostapchuk, a 55-year-old nautical engineer, says he spent the past 10 years serving on the Lady Anastasia, an aging luxury yacht sailing the Mediterranean.

TARAS OSTAPCHUK, FORMER CHIEF ENGINEER, LADY ANASTASIA (through translator): We had a crew of nine people, including a chef and waiter.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): He says the yacht's current owner and only user is Alexander Mikheev, a sanctioned Putin-connected oligarch and the CEO of a major Russian state-run company that rakes in tens of billions of dollars selling ammunitions, everything from weapons to ammo to aircraft.

Yacht engineer Ostapchuk went from cruising in oligarch luxury to a bunker in Ukraine.

Our interview just began, stopped by an alert of an incoming Russian attack.

OSTAPCHUK: Okay. Sorry. See you next time. Bye, bye.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): His life changed in late February when the yacht was docked in Spain and Russia invaded his home country.


(on camera): Welcome back. Thank you.

OSTAPCHUK: Nice to meet you again.

GRIFFIN (on camera): So good to see you, my friend.

OSTAPCHUK: Yeah. I'm safe.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Safe once again. Ostapchuk explained he was spurred to action when he saw this image of a Russian military strike on an apartment in his hometown of Kyiv.

OSTAPCHUK: My war has started. Yes.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): At that moment, he knew he had to do something to retaliate: sink the Lady Anastasia.

OSTAPCHUK (through translator): Water began to fill up the engine and the crew space. After that, there were three crew members left on board. I announced that the boat was sinking and that they should leave the ship. I did this on my own.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): The other crew members, also Ukrainians, didn't want to risk their own jobs, he said. Instead, they sounded the alarm and called authorities. He was arrested and the Anastasia saved, although damaged. In court, Ostapchuk denied nothing. Instead, declaring he would return to Ukraine, where he picked up arms and joined the military.

OSTAPCHUK (through translator): Now, a war has begun. A total war between Russia and Ukraine. And you have to choose, either you're with Ukraine or not. You have to choose. Will there be Ukraine or will you have a job? I made a choice. I don't need a job if I don't have Ukraine.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Back in Spain, Spain's Ministry of Transport has agreed to the provisional detention of the yacht, Lady Anastasia, while it confirms its real ownership and determines if it falls under European Union sanctions and can be seized. It is one of a long list of suspected Russian oligarch yachts now frozen in European ports in an effort to apply pressure on Putin through his inner circle of oligarchs to stop this war.

Taras Ostapchuk says others working for oligarchs around the world should expose them and their assets. His effort to make the profiters of Vladimir Putin's regime pay for what they're doing.

OSTAPCHUK (through translator): I think what I did is absolutely 100% correct. I tried to sink the boat as a political protest of Russian aggression because its owner is connected to the production of Russian weapons. They should be held responsible because it's they who with their behavior, with their lifestyle, with their greed, they precisely led to this in order to distract the people from the real plunder of Russia by these rulers. They arrange diversionary wars with other countries that are innocent.

GRIFFIN (on camera): Is there message that you would like the people of the United States to know right now?

OSTAPCHUK: Sent guns to Ukraine, please. We must stop it, this war. We must win.

GRIFFIN (on camera): Don, Taras Ostapchuk has no doubt that the military equipment made by the Russian defense firm linked to his former boss is right now killing civilians in Ukraine. It is why he did what he did.

As for that yacht and its likely owner, we got a cynical response from the Russian defense from saying it never comments on the personal lives of its employees or their property. Don?


LEMON (on camera): All right. Drew, thank you very much.

CNN goes inside a children' hospital in Eastern Ukraine besieged by war. That's next.




LEMON: More than 1,000 people, civilians, have been killed in this war. And another 1,600 injured. That is according to the U.N. today. But they warn that the actual numbers are likely much higher.

CNN's Ivan Watson visited a hospital in Zaporizhzhia today where dozens of children from across Ukraine are being treated. Ivan?

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Don, as you well know, everywhere you go in Ukraine, you will see these tank traps, you'll see piles of sandbags. But I wasn't quite prepared to see a children's hospital that had sandbags piled up around its windows. And that -- that is the case here at the hospital here in Zaporizhzhia.

And when the air raid siren went off, we were ushered down into the basement, into the makeshift-bomb shelter. And I watched a parade of nurses and mothers carrying tiny, little newborns into that room. Uh, newborns that have medical complications, which is part of why they're still at the hospital, aged maybe two or just three weeks.

And the nurses told me that they have to do this every day, six or seven times a day, bring these little babies down into this bunker with other children suffering from a variety of different maladies. One of the doctors who takes care of these little babies talked about this daily routine.


IVAN ANRKIN, ZAPORIZHZHIA REGIONAL CLINICAL CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL: Sometime, it's not long time, but we can't give an oxygen for children, for newborns, during transportation from bottom to up. I don't know. I worry all the time because it's abnormal.


WATSON (on camera): Don, the hospital doesn't just take care of -- of kids who have illnesses. They are also treating children who've been wounded on the front lines of this terrible war.


At least nine children have come through in the last two weeks. All of them, with shrapnel wounds and bullet wounds, including a little 11- year-old girl that I met today named Melina, who was basically shot to the neck and face, her mom says, by a Russian soldier as the family was trying to flee the besieged port city of Mariupol.

Little Milena is recovering but she has been gravely, gravely wounded. And some of the other children that have been brought in have actually had to undergo amputations as part of their emergency treatment. Don?

LEMON: Ivan, thank you so much. Appreciate that.

And for more information about how you can help humanitarian efforts in Ukraine, go to

Thank you, everyone, for watching. Our live coverage continues with Hala Gorani in Lviv right after this.