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Don Lemon Tonight

Russia Is Used To Lying; Russian Forces Destroying Everything In Ukraine; People In Odessa On Full Alert; Red Cross Warehouse Hit By Air Strike; Young Couple Prefer To Serve In The Military; U.S. Gave Additional Aid To Ukraine; Putin's Attack On Ukraine A Huge Mistake; Senator Collins Voting For Biden's SCOTUS Nominee. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired March 30, 2022 - 22:00   ET



DON LEMON, CNN HOST: But this one particularly interesting that Vladimir Putin may not be getting accurate information from his people on the battlefield and his advisors. That is really interesting.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: It certainly is. And the question is, how is he going to react when he really knows what's going on? I assume he's getting more information. Will he look for a way out to end this disaster, or will he doubled down and kill a whole lot more people in Ukraine? And for that, people here in Washington are simply guessing.

LEMON: Yes, I think all over the world they are guessing. Wolf, I'll see you tomorrow night. Thank you very much.

This is DON LEMON TONIGHT. I'm here in western Ukraine, in Lviv.

And our breaking news tonight, Ukrainian forces retaking the town of Sloboda roughly 12 miles from Chernihiv, further chipping away at Ukrainian forces encircling the city.

Meanwhile, CNN teams on the ground in the capital of Kyiv hearing shelling well into the night as the battle rages in the suburbs. That, as Ukraine's president says negotiations with Russia are only words.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, PRESIDENT OF UKRAINE (through translator): Yes, we have negotiations processed but they're only words without anything concrete. There are other words about alleged pull back of Russian troops from Kyiv and Chernihiv and reduction of activities of the occupiers in these territories. This is not a retreat. This is the result of the work of our defenders who pushed them back.


LEMON: A U.S. official saying today that intelligence shows Vladimir Putin is being misinformed by his advisers about how badly the Russian military is doing. The U.K.'s intelligence chief claims that some Russian shoulders have refused to carry out orders even accidentally shooting down their own aircraft. Have you ever heard of something like that? Meanwhile, President Biden weighing releasing a record amount of oil

from U.S. reserves. The price of oil has spiked amid the war in Ukraine.

And with all of that, Moscow rains down bombs just one day after claiming it is scaling back the war.

The Pentagon warning that Russian troops have not only not gone home, they're hitting some places harder than ever. Especially around Kyiv. As heavy fighter rages in the outskirts, and I have to warn you, what you are about to see is really graphic. The suburb of Irpin under fire even as emergency workers are treating the bodies of the dead today.

Graphic images that you are seeing show Irpin has paid a very heavy price. Homes destroyed. Life shattered. Bodies in the streets.

The northern city of Chernihiv under fire from Russian troops with no sign of scaling back, no food, no water, just constant shelling. The mayor says that what he calls a colossal attack on his city contradicts Russian claims of a pull back.

In Mariupol, a city under siege, a Red Cross warehouse in the center hit by at least two military strikes. The giant Red Cross on the roof clearly visible. Remember, Mariupol was the site of the attacks in the maternity hospital and the theater sheltering hundreds of people with the word children clearly written outside.

And the people that I have talked to who have escaped what they call hell on earth and you can see it why that is.

In Mykolaiv, body still being pulled from rubble after a Russian strike blew a hole straight through a government building. The death toll rising to 15 now.

CNN's team are out in the region tonight. Our Frederik Pleitgen is in Kyiv, Ed Lavandera is in Odessa, and Ben Wedeman joins us from Mykolaiv.

I want to bring in now CNN's Fred Pleitgen. He is in Kyiv for us. Fred, hello to you. Russia has been hammering Ukraine over the past 24 hours especially outside of Kyiv. What's happening there tonight?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Once again, the Russians are certainly hammering the positions here outside of Kyiv, and you know, it's something, Don, which you're obviously right. We have been seeing not just for the past 24 hours but really over the past couple of days. With a lot of artillery strikes that we are seeing, also multiple rocket launchers going off, air raid sirens, air alarms, you name it. It's really something that's happening.

And you know, when you hear from the Russians that they say they're going to scale down their military operations around the Kyiv area, we have seen absolutely no sign of that. In fact, I would say from what we've been seeing it's more an escalation, a de-escalation.

And you know, one of those places that we keep talking about is that district of Irpin, which is in the northwest of Kyiv. And that of course is really where the Russians tried to breakthrough into the city. The Ukrainians confronted them. And we got very close to that district today. And you know, I can tell you there was firing going off the entire time. And the people there tell us that the residents can't return because there are still shells landing the whole time.

So, you really can't speak about a de-escalation on the ground here even though the Ukrainians do say they do believe that some Russian forces might be somewhat pulling back but they certainly don't think that that's some sort of goodwill gesture by the Russians.


They simply say that they confronted the Russians, the Russians took losses, and now some of their move -- units have to move out of there. Don.

LEMON: And another day of talks between Russia and Ukraine, Fred, ending with no progress tonight. The Ukrainians think much can come of this?

PLEITGEN: No, I don't think so. In fact, if you listen to President Zelenskyy of Ukraine, he essentially says that what's happening there those negotiations as he put it is just words. And I think one of the things that frustrates the Ukrainians is that they feel that they have a pretty clear agenda. They understand and their negotiators understand what they are willing to commit to and what they are not.

And they just keep thinking that the Russians keep moving the goalposts on all of this. If you look at, for instance, a day ago, one of the Russian negotiators, the deputy defense minister came out and he said that the Russians would pull back some of their forces they would de-escalate here around the Kyiv area.

And you know, President Zelenskyy today said that's absolutely not something that's happening. He is saying, essentially what's happening here is that the Ukrainian forces were just too strong for the Russians to overcome. And that now they are regrouping in other areas because they have to move some of their units back.

And if you listen to some of the comments that the Ukrainians made, the new Ukrainian negotiators, the Ukrainian leadership, they keep saying that they are not sure whether the Russians keep moving the goalposts, whether they really know where their goalpost are supposed to be. Or whether their own position keeps changing.

So, it's clearly quite frustrating for the Ukrainians as they say they're negotiating in good faith, they obviously want some sort of settlement as fast as possible. But they're just not -- or they believe that the Russians just aren't sincere in the way they negotiate or whether the negotiators even have the kind of power that it takes to come to some sort of agreement, Don.

LEMON: Frederik Pleitgen reporting. Thank you very much. We appreciate it. I want to turn now to southern Ukraine where the Kremlin's claim of troop movements has cities along the Black Sea on alert.

CNN's Ed Lavandera is live for us in Odessa. Ed, hello to you.

Odessa has been bracing for a possible Russian attack for weeks now, possibly an amphibious landing. What is the scene there tonight?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we heard from a Ukrainian military officials saying that they have information that there is Russian aircraft over this area flying reconnaissance missions. So, that coupled with the news we are hearing out of northern Ukraine that Russian forces are supposed to be redeploying, perhaps reassessing their strategy here in the war in Ukraine.

It definitely has people anxious as to what is exactly is going to happen. Remember, early on in the war this stretch of the northern coast of the Black Sea in southern Ukraine was an area of focus. There was a belief that the Russians would try to move in along the coastline and essentially make Ukraine a landlocked country.

And so far, you know, we've seen the horrific description that is taking place in Mariupol, they have moved a little bit further west there into Kherson but they haven't made it really beyond that.

And so, for the last several days it has been relatively quiet here, Don, in the Odessa region. But there is concern about what could happen in the coming weeks depending on what the Russians do with their forces and how those forces are re-deployed, perhaps elsewhere into the country here.

LEMON: You mentioned Mariupol, I mean, it's that Red Cross warehouse has been hit and it was unbelievable to see that.


LEMON: Why were they hit a Red Cross warehouse with the cross visible on top, much less like that theater with the, you know, kids outside.

LAVANDERA: Right. The Red Cross saying that it was a warehouse that was hit. We'll be able to confirm that with satellite imagery from that warehouse. The Red Cross also says that they did not have any teams on the ground there. But clearly, what is happening in that city is a humanitarian disaster. A lot of work is being done to try to create humanitarian routes that would allow people, more people to evacuate and supplies to be brought into that city.

So, you know, exactly why a strike like this would be carried out is -- is, you know, the question that so many people have. But it clearly points to just, what a destructive scene and what a dangerous scene and horrific scene that city has been for some time now.

LEMON: Right on, Ed. None of it makes any sense. Ed Lavandera reporting for us. Thank you very much. We appreciate that.

Ukraine cities under assault. The death toll rising tonight in the city of Mykolaiv where at least 15 people were killed in a strike on a government building. CNN's Ben Wedeman has the latest now.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Somewhere in this jumble of concrete bricks and twisted metal are more bodies. Trapped in the ruins of the office of Mykolaiv's regional governor. Tuesday morning a Russian missile struck the building, killing more than a dozen people, wounding many more.

OLEKSANDR SYENKEVYCH, MYKOLAIV MAYOR: They bombarded our city and only civilians are dying here.


WEDEMAN: Mykolaiv Mayor Oleksandr Syenkevych doesn't normally come to city hall like this. But he saw war coming long ago and prepared himself.

SYENKEVYCH: I think from 2014 I felt that the war would be like this. So everything you see on me is bulletproof vest, boots, everything. I bought it a couple years ago. So, I started to learn how to shoot. I was in a special school for that.

WEDEMAN: On the outskirts of his city recently downed Russian tank helicopters suggest that Russian military also saw this war coming. They have managed to stop Russian forces in their tracks regaining territory lost at the start of the war.

Five-year-old Misha (Ph) is recovering form shrapnel wounds to his head in the basement turned bomb shelter in Mykolaiv's Regional Children's Hospital.

His grandfather, Vladimir (Ph) shows me phone video of the bullet riddled car Misha's father was driving with his family to escape the Russian advance. Russian soldiers -- Vladimir calls them bastards -- opened fire on the car killing Misha's grandmother and mother. As we speak, the air raid siren goes on. Taking shelter is an off practiced drill, stay calm and carry on.

Statements from Moscow that Russian forces will pull back from Kyiv are not surprisingly being met with skepticism here. Russian actions speak much louder than Russian words. As the mayor of Mykolaiv told me today, whatever Vladimir Putin says expect the opposite. Don?

LEMON: All right. Ben Wedeman, thank you for that.

I want to bring in now military analyst and retired army Lieutenant General Mark Hertling. General, thanks so much for joining us this evening.

A senior defense official saying tonight that some Russian forces have withdrawn from Chernobyl. That is taken in the earliest days of the Russian attack after Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said today that the troops re -- they were repositioning largely ones that have been fighting north and northwest of Kyiv. What does that tell you about the battlefield? MARK HERTLING, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: It tells me that the Russians

have failed in and around Kyiv. That was their primary objective, Don. It's to take the capital and replace the president. They could not get to the city, they couldn't even get close enough to get their artillery behind it to get artillery and missiles into the center of the city, although, they have been, as you know, have been hitting around the edges.

So, they have lost the initiative and have been beaten soundly by the Ukrainian forces. So, they are shifting their priorities to lesser objectives. There is no other way to say it. They've lost.

And your earlier reports saying that Mr. Putin doesn't even know what's going on tells me that there is a toxic narcissistic leader in charge of Russia, one that not only beats up his cabinet members and his military so that they become so afraid that they don't give him facts.

But also, one that is ordering some of the war crimes that you just talked about with Ed and with Ben. You know, you're talking about a Red Cross facility. If they can't get any lower than that, I don't know what would happen.

There have been 60 hospitals that have been bombed just like the Russians did in Chechnya and Syria. There have been bombs landing in school yards and on school buildings that have been targeted. All of these things tell me that Mr. Putin is just a power-hungry maniac and that unfortunately his forces are losing and he doesn't even know it. That's the thing that concerns me the most.

Then the casualty rates of Russian soldiers who didn't know where they were getting into continues to increase, while the civilian casualties in Ukraine are also unfortunately increasing.

LEMON: Let's talk more about this, quote, unquote, "repositioning." The Pentagon says that they have seen around 20 percent of Russia's forces around Kyiv reposition with some heading into Belarus. But there's been no letup really in the bombing campaign, what do you think those troops are likely to be used for?

HERTLING: Well, first, they have to consider, Don, that they are not coming out as complete units. They have been mauled. In fact, some of the scenes that I've seen of these forces that are repositioning are airborne troops, the BDK. They -- they are forces that were in the initial assault, they've now been in the field in Ukraine for 30 days and in Belarus for four months before that.

So, these guys tired, fatigued. And they have sustained casualties, I would say, that are very high. So, you just don't pull a force out and send it somewhere else that's been mauled by death.


You have to attempt to re-consolidate either build them as part of another unit or fix their wounded, treat their casualties, refix their equipment, military equipment breaks down more than your typical American car, family car.

So, they've got problems across the board with resupply, feeding personal, replacement, and everything. So, you know, I think many Americans think this is sort of like video game where you just pick up and move to another place and suddenly appear somewhere else on the battlefield.

It will take weeks, if not months for these forces to be re- consolidated, regenerated, and repositioned in another area. But having said all that, and I'm sorry for going on so long. There certainly appears to be a move by Mr. Putin and his generals to open up a larger front on the east in the Donetsk and Luhansk area, the Donbas, so-called Donbas.

But I believe he is going to have even some bigger problems there because he hasn't been able to encircle that area. We've been talking about Irpin for a very long time the north of Kyiv. The next cities that we're going to be talking about is Izyum in the northeast of Ukraine, Don.

It hasn't received a lot of attention yet, but that's going to be the next objective for the -- for the Russians. I don't think that they're going to be able to take.

LEMON: You're right. We talked about some of -- what was happening in Izyum a bit earlier last week but not -- we haven't spoken much about it. Can we dig in a little bit more about this moral issue? The chief of U.K. intelligence saying today that Russian soldiers are low on morale.


LEMON: That some even refusing to carry out orders and sabotaging their equipment. I mean, he didn't give any specifics, can the Russian army can sustain that low level morale for long, General?

HERTLING: No, because they went into it with that, Don, and that's the issue. I mean, this -- this is not a force that can just regenerate on the fly because they've been trained and they've got great leadership and they've got junior NCO's standing up. They have none of that. I've been saying that from the very beginning.

So, you don't have the junior officers to take initiative. You don't have any sergeants who are going to drive the force. You don't have anybody that's putting things together at a junior level. One of the reasons why a lot of the generals have been killed. And if you don't have those things, an army falls apart. When you don't have trust between soldiers. When you don't have trust between soldiers and their leaders.

And, as importantly as coming out today that we've talked about several times before. When you don't have trust between the army and the leaders of the country, Mr. Putin, because he doesn't know what's going on, you're going to see an army that's going to collapse within itself. We've already seen parts of that with desertion, with AWOLS, with

people giving up. And I wouldn't bet against the next couple of days seeing long lines of Russian prisoners of war with their hands up marching towards Kyiv or some other place because the Ukrainian forces have not killed them but they've captured them.

LEMON: General Hertling, always appreciate it. Thank you.

HERTLING: Thanks, Don.

LEMON: Vladimir Putin's forces hitting some parts of Ukraine harder than ever just one day after claiming that they are scaling back the war. Next, I just want to bring in a couple that you met on the show. They got married on the first day of the invasion. And they have been fighting to defend their homeland ever since then.


ZELENSKYY (through translator): We will not give anything away and we will fight for every meter of our land.




LEMON: So, last month we introduce you to Sviatoslav Fursin and Yaryna Arieva, a young newlywed Ukrainian couple. The two were originally supposed to get married in May. But instead, they rushed to tie the knot on the first day of the Russian invasion. Hours later, they eagerly took up arms to defend Ukraine.

Sviatoslav and Yaryna join me now from Kyiv. Thank you so much. It's so good to see you, guys. I'm glad to know that you're safe. Because I know that, Sviatoslav, you have been out fighting. So, again, thanks.

I'm going to start with you, Yaryna. It has been a couple of weeks since we've gotten to talk with you and Sviatoslav. So, tell me how are you two doing?

YARYNA ARIEVA, MARRIED ON FIRST DAY OF RUSSIAN INVASION: Right now, we are much better than we were some weeks before just because the front line moved away from the capital of Ukraine, Kyiv for 30, 35 kilometers. And even Irpin city is under Ukrainian control.

There's still a lot of mines in there. But it's really a great sign that the front line moved from the capital. So, I hope they wouldn't try to take it again. The situation and the territorial defense of Kyiv right now is absolutely wonderful because a lot of people with the military experience came there.

And there is a long queue to the old battalions of territorial defense forces. Like three people for one place. And that is a sign of greater nation and the people, all people are ready right now to protect their country. But that was the reason why our commander of the -- our battalion asked us to leave as we don't have military experience to like, that's the place for those who are more professional than us.

So, we came back like, home but we couldn't stand and still and doing nothing while there is war and we have to fight, we have to do something. So, we started to volunteer. Also, this is the situation like we had, we were asked to leave. All of our friends they are like 19, 20 years old just as we are. They also had to leave the territorial defense for those who have -- who are more professional.


So right now, our small company of activists and friends who are working before the war like political activists, right now have reunited just as the Ukrainian nation is united. And we started doing volunteer work. And I think my husband would tell you more about the specific like, what we're doing right now.

LEMON: Let me jump in. I'm having a little bit of trouble hearing you guys. I'm sure the people at home can hear me with the speakers. I have this little ear piece in my ear. But let me just clear up some -- so you guys are, Sviatoslav, as I understand you were on the frontlines but you're not anymore? Is that correct?



LEMON: Yes. So do you wish that you're on the front lines of the war. Are you just happy to help in any way that you can? Go on, please. Sorry.

FURSIN: Yes, I'm just happy to help in any way I can. Because still, I have my arms my rifles and my ammunitions with me and I'm ready to go back on the front line anytime if my country if my people will need me in that case. But still, as (Inaudible) on the frontline I have received many messages from my war (Inaudible) friends as battalion. They are asking for help for ammunitions and bulletproof vests, helmets and some -- some really some ammunitions like calls as boots and something -- and something like that.

ARIEVA: Just think of the bravery of the people in the territorial defense who went there as volunteers. They -- it was their will. They weren't asked to go to the defense. And they just go to fight with no military vests, no bulletproof, helmets, no clothing. Some of them went fighting in jeans and sweaters.

But still took up arms and went fighting. So right now, we have some problems --


ARIEVA: -- especially with the protection. And right now, we are trying to solve it. So, we've got letters from a lot of battalions all around Ukraine right now asking to get them like 300 vests or even more and it's like a great amount of them. FURSIN: Actually, it's already 900 -- 900 vests for every battalion

which was asking me for help. I just opened my PayPal and working with that -- in that case.

LEMON: Let me --


FURSIN: And I hope by trying to contact with some -- with some funds.

LEMON: All right. Let me jump in and ask you something, Sviatoslav. So you're not on the frontlines but you have been out there. You've been -- so what is it like out there? What is it like where people are fighting?

FURSIN: Well, first of all, I didn't scare for my life. I just -- I was scared about my comrades, my family. My wife. It was really not so funny as many people thought from film and other. It's really -- it's really brought us in -- it's really part of hell sometimes. And every time you can -- every time you can be shot -- shot and you can die from rocket or actually on fire. It's on the position it was every hour it was artillery fire above your head just from our side from the enemy side. And just waiting to contact in any minute. It was really, you're really -- you're tired of that. You just don't want to eat --


LEMON: Do you feel -- do you feel like you are beating the Russians? Or that you beat them?

FURSIN: Yes, so my first combat mission we beat them. Because we were waiting Russian enemy tanks who would come with some heavy techniques. But some sabotage groups was detect -- sabotage groups were detecting -- detected us on the time and the Russian tanks go. And after they break through our regular army line, they're just trying to turn around to surround us through the forest.


But our artillery -- our artillery machines were killed them there.

LEMON: Thank you both.

ARIEVA: It was like --


LEMON: You be safe. Yaryna, it's good to see you. Sviatoslav, you as well. You guys be safe and thanks for joining us. We'll see you soon, OK? Hopefully.

ARIEVA: Thank you.

FURSIN: Thank you.

LEMON: Thank you very much. A classified briefing on the Hill tonight about Ukraine. I'm going to

speak with someone who is behind closed doors of that meeting that's next.



LEMON: President Biden speaking nearly an hour today with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy saying that the U.S. will provide Ukraine with another $500 million in aid. That as Russia steps up its shelling of Ukraine's main cities despite claiming it will drastically reduce its attacks.

Tonight, the Biden administration briefing lawmakers on the situation in Ukraine.

And joining me now, Senator Ben Cardin, a senior member of the Senate foreign relations committee. We're so happy that you're here, Senator. Thank you so much.

So, listen, give us some information what can you share from your classified Ukraine briefing because Russia said it would scale back their invasion. They have not. So, what happens now?

SEN. BEN CARDIN (D-MD): Well, Don, one thing is clear. You cannot believe anything that president Putin says or Russia says. We do know that they are certainly not performing the way that they thought their military would. They are using up a lot of their military capacity and we do know that they are now planning to concentrate more of their military efforts in the east and I think the Ukrainians understand that.

So, I think we'll see some repositioning of the Russian troops but once again you can't believe anything. And they are still doing the air attacks which is one of the areas that we know we have to give the Ukrainians everything they need in order to defend their country.

LEMON: Well, they want to close the skies. The president has said no, they're not doing that. The defense secretary has said, no, not at all. Was that part of the discussion at all?

CARDIN: Absolutely we are talking about that. We also know that they need air defense systems that we hope is in the works. They need the short -- the SAM missiles, the short-range missiles they need, all of the above quite frankly in order to defend the skies. We know that there is a limit as to what we can do because we do not want to accelerate the conflict.

But quite frankly, we believe the Ukrainians are capable of defending themselves but they need our help in order to have all the equipment they need to do that.

LEMON: So, $800 million, $500 million, how much more is the U.S. willing to give to continue to support the Ukrainians? CARDIN: We are with the Ukrainians. This is about the third or fourth

trench of funds that we've used to help them with defensive lethal weapons. We are not alone. Our allies are also providing significant support. We've gone through the list as to where the equipment is that they need in which countries have it, and how we can get it to Ukraine as quickly as possible.

So, it's not just the United States, it's our total alliance that are working to help the Ukrainians. But we are in for the long run. We recognize that this is not going to be a short campaign. So, no. This is not the last of this support. We're going to be continuing to give them what they need. So, they're not just defending their sovereignty, they're defending the sovereignty of Europe. And very much our national security interest is to make sure the Ukrainians are able to defend their country.

LEMON: Senator Cardin, how about the Pentagon. The assessment from the Pentagon that Putin isn't being fully informed about what's happening in Ukraine? Can you tell us about that?

CARDIN: Well, we know that Mr. Putin isolates himself from a lot of his close of the elite advisers within Russia itself. So, we don't know how much information he is getting and how reliable that information is. But we know that he is the decision-maker within Russia. He is making the decisions.

So, we're not clear as to if he's getting advice and just not following it or he's getting bad advice or whatever. But this has been a disaster for Russia. Look at their economy. Look at what's happening militarily. Russia -- Mr. Putin made a huge mistake by going into Ukraine. He is paying a heavy price. And I can tell you the global community is going to stand with Ukraine and Ukraine's sovereignty.

LEMON: President Zelenskyy is saying that negotiations with Russia are only words. Can diplomacy work if everything Russia is saying is not true. I mean, you said at the very beginning of that you can't believe anything that Russia is saying?

CARDIN: Well, you know, obviously, we are looking for a way to end this -- this war. So, we have to explore diplomacy. And that's what's Zelenskyy has said. He will explore diplomacy. But he certainly not going to believe what Mr. Putin says. It's going to be actions not words.

And a part of what he's asking for is the protection of the sovereignty of Ukraine and its territory. And that that has the strength of beyond just Ukraine's military.


So, there are lot of areas that will need to be filled in. But you're absolutely correct. Mr. Zelenskyy is not going to take Mr. Putin's word on anything because he -- Mr. Putin lies. He uses misinformation this is an unprovoked attack on a sovereign peaceful nation. He'll do it again and he'll go to the neighbors. You can't believe what he says, it's got to be backed up by action. LEMON: Senator Ben Cardin, we appreciate you joining us this evening.

Thank you very much.

CARDIN: Thank you, Don.

LEMON: In obstructionist. That's what my next guest is calling Vladimir Putin. Saying he has made a profound miscalculation. Stay with us.



LEMON: Tonight, the Biden administration is saying that it believes Vladimir Putin has been misinformed by his defense officials about how poorly the Russian military is doing in Ukraine. Even though Russia's bombs are killing Ukrainians and destroying cities and towns.

Earlier, I spoke with Yaroslav Hrytsak. He's a historian and professor at the Ukrainian Catholic University, who says that Putin has made a profound miscalculation by invading Ukraine. Here's our interview.


LEMON: Professor, thank you very much for joining. I really appreciate it.


LEMON: You wrote a piece in the New York Times where you said, though Mr. Putin may escalate further, he is far from the military victory he sought. A master tactician, but inept -- and inept strategist. He has made his most profound miscalculation. Explain that please.

HRYTSAK: Actually, Putin made two miscalculations. The first of the character of the Ukrainian identity. He doesn't believe that Ukraine identity are based in Ukrainian language. And since most of Ukraine or some parts of Ukraine speak Russian, they must be Russians.

So, by definition, if the Russian army was to enter into Ukraine it will be met with flowers. It never happened.


HRYTSAK: Because Ukrainian identity is not about language, it's about ethnic issues, or (Inaudible) identity.


HRYTSAK: It's about freedom.

LEMON: So there's been another round of peace talks which apparently nothing came from. And President Zelenskyy is putting a lot of stock, I think in peace talks with Putin. But doesn't history show that maybe he's putting too much stock in something that's never going to happen? HRYTSAK: I really don't know, I don't believe that Russia has a good

scenario judging by history, sad to say. But what I'm afraid of, if the victory -- if people have a victory at least some kind of the preliminary -- preliminary armistice so to say, there's also a danger that we will have the same situation in 10 or 20 years.


HRYTSAK: Sad to say.

LEMON: Is there something else that Zelenskyy should be doing because obviously he has a great P.R. campaign. He's on television all the time. He's got the people behind him here in Ukraine. Is there something else he should be doing?

HRYTSAK: I believe he does a great job. I don't really believe he could do something better than he already did. Everything depends on the decision of politicians in the west, particularly on Biden and the United States. We badly need weapons.


HRYTSAK: We need energy sources because basically, I believe I'm afraid we're entering a war of attrition. And the war of attrition the most decisive in fact is they have resources, successful resources.

LEMON: Well, let's talk about that. Because with the president of the United States and Zelenskyy spoke by phone, they said it was under an hour. They talked about the resources that Ukraine needs. What do you make of that? Do you think they need more weapons? The U.S. S=should be giving Ukraine more weapons and is that --

HRYTSAK: Not just weapons but other types of weapons, so to say, to be -- to make the Ukrainian army more efficient specially to cover to cover the attacks from the air. This is, I believe the most urgent attacks nowadays.

LEMON: What does it take to defeat Putin at this point?

HRYTSAK: That's hard to say. I mean, first of all, I believe this is -- it takes a good army and Ukraine has a good army. And there's a political view and there's the will of the people to fight until the very end. We know the end here but the end is supposed their victory. So actually, I believe the only thing we can have good success (Inaudible) is through resources. This is -- this is the main criteria, the main condition of the victory.

LEMON: How long do you think this goes on?

HRYTSAK: It's will for a long time. This is definitely.

LEMON: For a long?

HRYTSAK: For a long time.

LEMON: How long? HRYTSAK: In best case is probably several months.

LEMON: Several months in the best-case.

HRYTSAK: In the best case.

LEMON: Worst-case?

HRYTSAK: Worst-case it will go for several years and then we'll have a Syria scenario. I don't believe that Putin could win war but he could destroy a lot of countries and this is the (Inaudible) to what price are we supposed to pay for their victory.

LEMON: What price will he pay for this do you think?

HRYTSAK: His prices very high basically this is his end. Because when he would be defeat --- would be defeated has no chances. He loses any legitimacy to stay, to stay in power. So, the stakes are very high. And therefore, I don't believe that any kind of armistice as possible. Because basically, this is a war that is waged by one person, and the person is Putin. And his scenario is based not on the unrealistic aims. It's something we should know is part of the physical, so to say. So, I'm afraid it will be war to the very end.

LEMON: Thank you.

HRYTSAK: Thank you.

LEMON: I appreciate it.

HRYTSAK: Thank you so much.


LEMON: One Republican says they'll vote yes to President Biden's pick of the first black female justice. We will tell you who that is right after this.



LEMON: Back in the U.S. Republican Senator Susan Collins says that she will vote to confirm President Biden's Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown-Jackson. Listen to it Collins told CNN tonight.


SEN. SUSAN COLLINS, (R-ME): I came to the conclusion that she clearly had the credentials, the experience, the qualifications and the integrity that I look for in a Supreme Court justice. I am sure that I won't agree with every decision that she casts on the court I haven't agreed with every decision that any of the justices for whom I have voted have cast on the court.

(END VIDEO CLIP) LEMON: Collins is the only GOP senator so far to say that she will

support Judge Jackson's nomination. Only three Republican senators voted in favor of Jackson in 2021 when the Senate confirmed her to the powerful D.C.-based appellate court.

Collins, Lindsey Graham, Murkowski. Murkowski and Graham have not yet said where they stand on Jackson's nomination.


Senator Mitt Romney has also not said whether he'll support Jackson after expressing an openness to vote in favor of her nomination. We'll have all the coverage of this as the vote nears.

Up next, empty promises from the Kremlin. Claims of de-escalation proving false. Enormous attacks ongoing here in Ukraine. We'll continue our live coverage right after this.


LEMON: This is DON LEMON TONIGHT. I'm live in Lviv, the city in western Ukraine.

Breaking news tonight. Ukrainian forces retaking the town of Sloboda roughly 12 miles of Chernihiv chipping away at Russian forces encircling the city. Tonight, the mayor of Irpin outside Kyiv saying 50 percent of his city has been destroyed by Russian bombardment.


The mayor of Chernihiv saying his city has been under, quote, "colossal attacks." So, what happened to Russia's claims that it would drastically reduce its attacks on Kyiv and Chernihiv?