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Don Lemon Tonight

CNN Interviews Ukrainian Refugees; Russia Continues To Attack Ukraine Despite Claims; Kharkiv Resident Documenting Her Life In A War Zone; Misinformation Impacting Russia From The Kremlin To The Battlefield; Pushing Back Against Putin's Revisionist History; Ukrainian Refugees Having Their Babies Far From Home. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired March 31, 2022 - 23:00   ET




OLEG KADATSKIY, ESCAPED MARIUPOL (through translator): Bombs were exploding everywhere. People dove under the field and covered their heads. One person was hit by a shrapnel three cars ahead.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST (on camera): Do they have food?

KADATSKIY (through translator): I didn't have time to gather food. We only had flatbreads and two cans of fish. The whole journey took around five days.

LEMON (on camera): Did you feel like this is hell, like is this ever going to be over, when is this going to be over?

KADATSKIY (through translator): It was like a different reality. Taken out of your normal life. It was new. It was a state of not knowing what was going to happen.

LEMON (on camera): Once you got here, once you saw them, what was your reaction?

UNKNOWN: We were waiting for them. We're glad they're here.

JOE REIMERS, IN-LAWS ESCAPED MARIUPOL: I think in all of human history, there's never been a guy who was more excited to get a call that his in-laws were coming to visit. It doesn't really feel like the crisis is over.


REIMERS: We -- more Dasha (ph) and more them. But we still know people who are there. We know people who are waiting for that reunion that we got who still haven't gotten it and probably --


REIMERS: -- won't ever get it.

LEMON (voice-over): Are you going to be okay? Yeah?


LEMON (voice-over): Are you going to be okay? Are you going to be okay? How do you want this to end?

UNKNOWN (through translator): What exactly?

LEMON (voice-over): The war.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): The war?

LEMON (voice-over): The interview now. The war now. How do you want this to end?

GENNADI KADATSKIY, ESCAPEP MARIUPOL (through translator): As Oleg said before, that Mariupol stays Ukrainian and we can go back. It's the best city in the world.

LEMON (on camera): And you?

O. KADATSKIY (through translator): I can't imagine living in a different city. I dream of returning to a city you can say doesn't exist anymore.


LEMON (on camera): Hmm. So, a couple of things that I want to share with you about that. First, I want to thank the family. And I'm glad that they're okay. One, they said that they were happy for their family, but they also felt guilt that other families were not together and some of the folks were still in Mariupol.

They said when they would read people stories on social media, what have you, who had been reunited with their families, they said they were happy for them, but they also wonder when their family would be together.

The other thing is I thought it was very interesting when they said their interactions with -- when they talked about their interactions with Russian soldiers. They said at one point, their neighborhood was shelled, and they asked -- the people started running out, women and children, confronting the Russian soldiers, and they said, why are you bombing us? Why are you shelling us? And they said the Russian soldiers told them, we were told that the entire area had been evacuated, that the city had been cleared.

And I said, well, that doesn't make sense. If the city had been cleared, if it was evacuated, then there would be no reason to shell it. So, it's not logical. It doesn't make sense.

They said the Russian soldiers said to them that they were clearing the place of Nazis. And they didn't really want to be there. That they were forced to come there.

So, all these stories that you hear about Russian soldiers, many of them, their hearts aren't in it. They feel that they're being ordered to do this. They don't necessarily want to do this.

And then the other part is the checkpoints. The men had to take their shirts off at Russian checkpoints and be checked for tattoos or Nazi insignia. And if they had it, obviously, they would not allow them through. But imagine, they went through 12 different checkpoints. And in many of those checkpoints, they had to be checked for that. They went through their phones and everything.

So, that one family is together, but there are many, many more who are still waiting for other people and actually may not ever be reunited.

And then the last part. When we finished the interview, I was getting ready to leave, and Gennadi, who is the uncle, the one sitting on the end, the one who has kept rubbing the end of the chair because he had so much on his mind, he was the pastor. He grabbed me and it startled me. And he just held on to me for a little bit. And he said, "Thank you. You're so kind. You're so professional."

And then as we were getting in the van, he said he wanted to thank CNN and he said to me, I want you to keep the integrity of CNN, because we were telling their stories to the world. So, I accepted that and I will continue to do that.

Thank you, Gennadi. Thank you, Dasha (ph). Thank you. There it is. One of the hugs.


Incredible people. Incredible stories of survival. CNN will continue to bring it to you.

I want to bring in now my colleague, John Vause. He is here live with me in Lviv. John, we're going to talk about what's happening. But, you know, you've been in war zones before you're here now.


LEMON: Yeah.

VAUSE: You know, it is incredible to be here because it is like a bubble here in Lviv. It is relatively untouched. There are some buildings being sandbagged. The police headquarter is sandbagged with barricades out the front in preparation for something. But being here just seems to be sort of an isolated pocket from the rest of the war. And makes you wonder why.

LEMON: Yeah.

VAUSE: Why is the east being so heavily pounded by Russian forces but here it's not? Why have they cut the supply lines from Poland into this country?

LEMON: Yeah.

VAUSE: The communication lines. That kind of thing. LEMON: Because we know at any moment -- because we had the oil depot or the fuel depot shelled over the weekend several times. You just don't know. You're in a pocket. But I will tell you, it's a false sense of security.

VAUSE: Yeah. There are some legitimate targets --

LEMON: Yeah.

VAUSE: -- military targets which they have it here. But they haven't going after the civilians.

LEMON: Let's talk about what you have been studying and what we have been dealing with. And that is airstrikes are continuing to slam Ukraine and the capital of Kyiv. How many strikes are we talking about now? What's the latest information on that?

VAUSE: According to a senior U.S. defense official, we're looking around 300 air sorties in just the past 24 hours. As you say, they've been focusing on the capital Kyiv, also Chernihiv, also Kharkiv, the second biggest city in Ukraine, and the Donbas region. And this is just in a 24-hour period.

Since this war began 36 days ago, the Russians have fired about 1,400 missiles. So, 300 air sorties in one day is an indication that the air war is wrapping up. What makes it especially egregious, two days ago on Tuesday --

LEMON: Yeah.

VAUSE: -- the Russian deputy defense minister at those peace talks in Turkey said that there would be a scaling back of military activity. And then after those talks, he tried to portray that as some kind of goodwill gesture for future talks. Clearly, this is why the U.S. and NATO officials are all saying, you know, they'll judge the Russians by their actions, because clearly --

LEMON: You can't trust their words. In the beginning of the war, we had the incident that happened in Zaporizhzhia and also this concern about Chernobyl. I understand you're getting some new information about the Chernobyl nuclear power plant.

VAUSE: What we're hearing from the Ukrainian side especially is that the Chernobyl is now back under Ukrainian control, that the Russian troops who took over that plant in the very first week of the invasion have pretty much all left. They've crossed the border back into Belarus. Now, what is up in the air is why. Is this part of the troop deployment?

There's reporting from the Ukrainian side that essentially the Russian troops left because they were suffering from some kind of radiation sickness. They'd been digging trenches in what's known as the red forest, the controlled area around Chernobyl. And, of course, Chernobyl was the scene of the 1986 world's worst nuclear disaster. And that area is highly radioactive. And so, many of them had fallen ill with radioactivity poisoning. That kind of stuff. That is one reason why perhaps they left.

We do know that when the Russians took over, there was a small team on site which was there for safety reasons, monitoring the nuclear reactor which is encased in cement as well as the nuclear fuel rods. They'd been worked to the point of exhaustion. So clearly now they are the ones who will have some relief. They're allowed to go home. And the Ukrainians, they say, at least are back in control.

LEMON: John Vause is our international anchor on CNN International and he will be here leading our coverage in just under an hour.

VAUSE: Yeah.

LEMON: So, John, we'll see you in a little bit.

VAUSE: Thanks.

LEMON: Thank you very much. We really appreciate it.

Now, I want to get to Irpin in the outskirts of Kyiv, which has been a key front line in holding back Russian troops from getting into the capital. But it has paid a really heavy price. About half the city has been destroyed and Russian shells are still falling.

CNN's Frederik Pleitgen gives us a firsthand look at what it's like on the ground there.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): There is no safe way to get into Irpin. The only feasible route is on the back of a police special forces pickup truck on dirt paths. But even here, the earth is scorched after Russian troops shelled the trail.

(On camera): Ukrainian forces are taking us into this area on back roads because they say taking the main roads is simply much too dangerous. They want to show us the damage done when Russian forces tried to enter Kyiv.

(Voice-over): Ukrainian authorities say this is still one of the most dangerous places in this war-torn country. And we immediately see why. We are driving right towards an area engulfed in smoke from artillery shelling.


PLEITGEN (voice-over): This is where Russian forces tried to push into Ukraine's capital but were stopped and beaten back by the underdog Ukrainians. The battles here are fierce. Authorities say 50% of the city has been destroyed. To us, that number seems like an understatement.

(On camera): We have to keep moving quickly because this place can get shelled any time.

(Voice-over): Ukraine's national police now patrols Irpin again, but their forces frequently come under fire, the chief tells me.


ANDRII NEBYTOV, HEAD OF KYIV REGION POLICE (through translator): Just yesterday, our officers who were searching for dead bodies, they were shot at with mortars, he says. They had to lay under the bridge and wait for it to stop.

(Voice-over): But the grim task of finding and taking out the many dead continues. More than two dozen on this day alone. Some have been laying in the streets for weeks and can only now be removed.

When Russian forces invaded Ukraine, they quickly advanced on the capital Kyiv all the way to Irpin. Here, the Ukrainians stood and fought back. Vladimir Putin's army controlled large parts of Irpin and the battle laid waste to much of this formerly wealthy suburb. And this was the epicenter where we find burned-out Russian trucks and armored vehicles.

(On camera): So, this is the area where some of the heaviest fighting took place in Irpin. And as you can see, that there was a Russian- armored vehicle which was completely annihilated. We do have to be very careful around here because there still could be unexploded munitions laying around.

(Voice-over): We meet Volodymir Rudenko, a local resident who says he stayed and took up arms when the Russians invaded.

VOLODYMIR RUDENKO, IRPIN RESIDENT (through translator): Always, there was not a single day when I left town, he says, even during the heaviest fighting. It must have been difficult, I ask. Just so you understand, he says, once, there were 348 impacts in one area in one single hour.

(Voice-over): And battle here is not over. Suddenly, Irpin's mayor shows up with a group of special forces, saying they're looking for Russians possibly still hiding here.

I ask him how it's going. We're working, he says. There's information that there are two Russian soldiers dressed in civilian clothes. With our group, we're going to clean them up.

Ukrainian forces say they will continue the fight and further push Russian forces away from their capital. The deputy interior minister saying they needed U.S.'s support to succeed.

(On camera): What do you need from the United States?

YEVHEN YENIN, UKRAINIAN DEPUTY INTERIOR MINISTER: Everything. Military support, first of all.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): Weapons to help the Ukrainians expel the invading army, they hope, and finally bring this suburb out of the reach of Vladimir Putin's cannons.

(on camera): There you see, Don, Irpin is still an extremely dangerous place. But nevertheless, we were quite surprised to see that the morale of the Ukrainian forces on the ground there is extremely high. You really get a sense that they understand the fact that this battle was extremely important and they, despite the fact that they were outgunned, managed to hold this massive Russian army up. Don?


LEMON (on camera): All right. Frederik Pleitgen, thank you so much.

I want to turn to CNN military analyst and retired Air Force Colonel Cedric Leighton who is at the map for us again tonight. Colonel, thank you so much. Appreciate you joining us once again. Russian strikes are focusing on four key areas. That is according to a U.S. defense official. What's Russia's strategy right now, please?

CEDRIC LEIGHTON, CNN MILITARY ANALYST, RETIRED AIR FORCE COLONEL: So, Don, here's the deal. The main sites are Kyiv, and you have Izyum, and you have Chernihiv, and you have the Donbas. So, these are the four areas right here. So, Kyiv, Chernihiv, Izyum and the Donbas region. And the Russian strategy to do that is to run as much air power as they possibly can.

You heard the talk from John Vause about the different sortie numbers. They increased the sorties from 200 a day to 300 a day. That's a significant increase in Russian air traffic. And it's also apparently a significant increase in Russian artillery fire.

That very fact means that they're doing a lot more with distance weapons than they did initially. They're moving their troops that are in contact with the Ukrainians back and they're continuing to pound the areas with artillery and with a bombing campaign.

LEMON: Colonel, Kharkiv has come under heavy shell fire in the past 24 hours. That's according to Ukraine's military. Forty-seven strikes, as a matter of fact. Is this more proof that Russia plans to ease up are just flat out lies, are untrue?

LEIGHTON: Basically, in a word, Don, yes. Here's what is happening in Kharkiv. This is Ukraine's second largest city. It's really close to the Russian border, about 30 miles or less. Fred Pleitgen used to be up here in Belgorod and he was able to follow all those Russian weapons that were coming down toward Ukraine at the very beginning of this war.

Well, what the Russians are doing here is basically pulling back in this area, and they also -- we now also have Ukrainian elements here in the light yellow that are making a major effort in the second largest city. But there's a lot of damage in Kharkiv and it is one of those areas where there is going to be a lot of continued fighting.


And again, that area is also subject to artillery fire and to airstrikes as well.

LEMON: Colonel, you know, you and I talked a lot about that 40-mile convoy headed to Kyiv. It was fearsome. They were going to resupply troops, help to take Kyiv before they were stalled out. Now, that was early in the early days of this war. Now, the Pentagon is saying that they never accomplished their mission. So, what happened?

LEIGHTON: Well, that is going to be, I think, one of the greatest mysteries of this war, at least of this initial phase of this war, because this convoy was quite -- you know, quite impressive in terms of volume and it was something that we all paid attention to.

But I almost wonder if it was a feint, if it was designed to draw attention away from a Russian move to the northeast. If you remember, when you go back to the look on the major maps here, this part right here was quite close to Kyiv as well. So, you do wonder if they're trying to come in and make a difference that way and show us a completely different scenario than what ended up happening.

But the fact that they stalled out, the fact that they must have dispersed in many respects, some of these elements of this convoy, some of the trucks, some of the armored personnel carriers have probably moved back into Belarus or into Russia. But others that were dispersed and many of them were also destroyed by Ukrainian forces. So, I think the fate of the convoy is mixed and it's something that we're going to have to still study to figure out exactly what happened to it.

LEMON: All right. Colonel, thank you. Appreciate it once again. We'll see you tomorrow.

LEIGHTON: You bet, Don. Absolutely.

LEMON (on camera): She's keeping a war diary in Kharkiv, where Russian troops have struck 47 times in one day with artillery, martyr fire and -- mortar fire, excuse me, and tanks. What she's seen as her city is pounded by Vladimir Putin's forces.


MARIA AVDEEVA, KHARKIV RESIDENT (voice-over): This is a five-story building hit by Russian airstrike. And now, it looks like a dollhouse that was destroyed by some evil force.





LEMON (on camera): Devastation in Kharkiv region. Russian troops carrying out 47 strikes with artillery, mortar fire, and tanks in the area. Three hundred and eighty shellings from rocket artillery recorded. A few weeks ago, on this show, you met a woman who is keeping a war diary in Kharkiv. She's still out there documenting. Watch.


AVDEEVA: Maria Avdeeva from Kharkiv, Ukraine. I'm today in the kindergarten hit by Russian rockets several days ago. This is the sleeping room where children were sleeping. And it was on fire because the Russian rocket hit this exact room right here on this wall. The nearby residential houses are also heavily destroyed.


LEMON (on camera): Maria Avdeeva is a disinformation and security expert and a Kharkiv resident, and she joins me now. Maria, thank you. Your video diaries have been just amazing. So, thank you so much for doing that, the way you're documenting this, and thank you for appearing on the program.

This kindergarten video is just horrific. It is just one of many tragic videos that you've been documenting, which we're going to talk a little bit more about in a second. But how dire is the situation in Kharkiv now with all of this intensified shelling?

AVDEEVA: Thank you for having me. It's a great honor and a pleasure. So, the last days, the shell intensified. And yesterday, for example, the gas pipeline was exploded because of the shelling. And now, 30,000 people are without gas supply. And generally, the shelling is very intensive.

So, no matter what was agreed on in Turkey or what Russia said, they intensified their shelling here in Kharkiv. The military operation on the ground, military operation is stalled, and that's why Russia continues terrorizing civilians.

Because they deliberately target civilian targets and residential areas and also critical infrastructure, that means when the pipelines are broken, people are left without gas supply, weight heat and electricity, water supply, and that makes the situation in the city critical because there are still many people here. Our estimates tell us there are probably between 300,000 and 500,000 people still in the city.

LEMON: Maria, you have seen and you have shared so much destruction in your city. And this video was taken that we have up now in a residential area in Kharkiv where a five-story building was destroyed. I think this is a building that you said looked like a dollhouse that had just been destroyed by some sort of evil happening or something. I mean, how much of your city is just unrecognizable now?

AVDEEVA: A large part of it, especially the city center and the residential areas on the outskirts. I have been to both of the areas.


I live quite close to the city center and have seen that myself. I have connections, personal connections, with all of those historical buildings that are now in ruins. Actually, they survived Nazi occupation during the World War II. Now, they are destroyed.

The city center and then the residential areas, it is very difficult because when one of such buildings is destroyed, it means the whole area becomes deserted because there is no communication, no heat and electricity there, and there is no possibility for people to live there actually.

I have been to one of the residential areas where I was actually living myself for five years before and it's completely empty. It looks like a ghost town with no one there because it's impossible to survive there.

There are no metro stations, which I used as a shelter here and close to the city center. But then on the outskirt, there is no metro, so people have no place where to hide. And many of the buildings are either completely destroyed, burned out or with so heavy destruction that it's not possible to stay there for anyone.

LEMON (on camera): You have the Kharkiv music festival. It was scheduled to start on March 26th. And war didn't stop the music. And you shot video of the festival taking place in a subway station. Here's some of that.



LEMON: So, my colleagues and I have been covering the art -- how art plays so much of a role here, how it's embedded in the culture. How important is it for the people staying behind to still have moments like this?

AVDEEVA: This is immensely important. And I have been to the metro station, to this exact station, several times speaking to the people because there are so many there. It's actually full with people. You see all these train cars on the platform, they are full of people because people live there. And that is very important for them to feel this unity.

And there are many other concerts that happen. Musicians sometimes just come to the metro to play for people. And also, there is, for example, a children art gallery. So, to say art gallery, but still, children are painting their drawings and they are all over there. And then the artists come and try to speak to children because they are really traumatized because of this war experience. Some of them are afraid to go out generally.

So, yesterday, it was already five weeks of this war. And so, some of them are staying there inside, underground, for five weeks because they are so terrified and afraid that the explosions or shelling might happen again, that they do not go outside.

And that is very important because art is like a therapy for them and for their parents as well, because that's why people feel that the normal life is still there and they will be able to come out sometime and get back to their homes, rebuild what was destroyed, and that this is not some kind of non-existent perspective, that it will -- this moment might come soon for them.

LEMON: Maria Avdeeva, thank you. You be safe.

AVDEEVA: Thank you so much.

LEMON: Russian misinformation from the top to the bottom. How everyone from Vladimir Putin to his troops on the ground are being misled about the reality in Ukraine.





JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: There's a lot of speculation. But he seems to be -- I'm not saying this with a certainty. He seems to be self-isolated. And there's some indication that he has fired or put under house arrest some of his advisers.


LEMON (on camera): Interesting. That was President Joe Biden responding to CNN about how badly Vladimir Putin has been misinformed by his advisers about Russia's performance in the war.

And the lack of information isn't just being seen at the top. The mayor of Melitopol, Ivan Fedorov, appearing on France's BFM TV today, talking about the Russian soldiers who kidnapped him earlier this month and said that they didn't appear to have any idea about the reality of the situation in Melitopol or Ukraine.

So, let's bring in now CNN national security analyst and former CIA chief of Russia operations, and that is Steve Hall. Steve, it is good to see you again. Good evening to you. Thanks for joining.

President Biden is saying that Putin seems to be self-isolating, firing some of his advisers. And this latest assessment comes as Russia's military is really facing some serious setbacks on the battlefield. What do you make of the lack of information being delivered to Putin?

STEVE HALL, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST, FORMER CIA CHIEF OF RUSSIA OPERATIONS: Yeah, it's really interesting on both ends of it. On the upper end, when you're talking about what Vladimir Putin's advisers and intelligence guys are telling him.


And then, of course, also what we're seeing, you were referencing the mayor earlier so on the ground.

But on the higher end, on the Putin angle, you know, in U.S. Intelligence Community, it's always about -- the almost cliche way to say it is it's telling truth to power. And I've known a lot of senior analysts who have been responsible for White House briefings. And they almost take a professional -- and I've almost said it's a sadistic pleasure in bearing bad news to the president, bearing, you know, information that he was hoping would be different, and yet they'll tell the truth because that's what it is, the truth.

You do not get that in an authoritarian regime like Vladimir Putin's Russia. What you get is people who are terrified that they're going to end up in jail or they're going to end up dead if they don't tell Putin what he wants to hear. And unfortunately, a leader needs to hear even the unpleasant stuff, and if not, they're going to make the wrong decisions. And that seems to be what we're beginning to see here in Moscow.

LEMON: Melitopol's mayor detailing to French outlet BFM TV. He said just how little his Russian captors knew about his city or about Ukraine at all. I mean, he said that they told him that they were -- they are to liberate the town of Nazis. And then he told them that he's been there 30 years and he's never seen a single Nazi. He says that he told them 95% of Melitopol speaks Russian after they said that they were there to defend the Russian language.

The extent of the propaganda fed to Russia's military seems shocking about a country that is really right next door.

HALL: Yeah. Don, it's really fascinating to see this happening because, of course, the Russians are good at this. We know that they are really good at misinformation, disinformation, propaganda campaigns. We know that they're good -- outside of Russia, we saw what they did to the west and how they have for decades really been spreading misinformation when it suited their goals.

And, of course, they do it inside to stop, you know, dissent and to try to get the message that Vladimir Putin wants to get out to the Russian people. So, we know they know how to do this. They've done it since Lenin's time. But now, we understand what is happening is that, you know, the troops on the ground, before they go out and fight these wars, are being told a whole set of things.

If you see that interview or read the transcript, you see the Russians walking through those propaganda points. You know, we're here to get rid of the Nazis, we're here to stop repression of Russian speakers, we're here to stop you guys beating World War II veterans. And the mayor says none of that is happening. And the Russians are completely confused because they've been told something different.

So, when you start asking questions about how is the morale of the Russian military when they hit the ground, it's basically you're asking the question, how does disinformation survive when it meets reality? And the answer usually in the case -- in this case is not very well. And I think it really does have a bad effect on the morale of Russian troops operating in Ukraine.

LEMON: Yeah. I interviewed a family today who said the same thing that the mayor said. He told the Russian soldiers, I've never seen one Nazi here, and he just looked at him, like, what? What are you talking about? The Russian soldier. He said, I looked in his eyes, and he said that the Russian soldier completely believed what he was saying, and he told him, I've never seen one Nazi here ever before.

Listen -- and we have reported the low morale among Russian soldiers. Some are refusing to carry out orders. Some even accidentally shooting down their own aircraft. Is this a sign that Russia's propaganda is beginning to lose its strength or this is maybe one-offs here?

HALL: No, I don't think it's one-off. I think it's the beginnings, Don, of sort of maybe a perfect storm, if you will, of stuff that might be happening that's going to make it really difficult for the Russians to continue.

So, you've got this sort of dissonance when the misinformation that Russian troops have been told before they invaded Ukraine as to what they were told they were going to be greeted as liberators, you know, fruit pies were going to be waiting for them, and so all of a sudden that's not happening, so that's going to have negative impact on the morale.

You saw the British GCHQ, the NSA equivalent, their signals intelligence people, talking about how the Russians are, you know, in many cases, in some units in disarray because if you take the Chernobyl guys who were responsible there, we had reporting earlier today that all of the sudden, you know, they riot against their commanders because they were afraid that they were actually going to get radiation poisoning and maybe they actually did.

You've got the GCHQ guys also saying we have signals intelligence saying they accidentally shot down some of their own planes.

So, yeah, there is a little bit of fog of war, but there's also just a general lack of organization and morale, which I think is really impacting the effectiveness of Russian forces in Ukraine right now.

LEMON: Steve, thank you. By the way, Steve, the folks we spoke to today speak Russian. They have Russian relatives. They're Ukrainian.


But they believe that Vladimir Putin has finally gone too far and they think this -- that's what they say. Might be the one thing that takes him down. That's what they truly believe. I don't know if that's true.

HALL: Fingers crossed.

LEMON: Thank you, Steve Hall. Yeah. Thank you, Steve. I appreciate it.

Vladimir Putin has long tried to claim that Ukraine doesn't have its own identity, which is completely untrue. My next guest is a Ukrainian from Kyiv doing all she can to fight Putin's revisionist history.



(COMMERCIAL BREAK) LEMON: One Stanford student from Ukraine is using her country's history to help protect it from Russia. Catarina Bucharskiy is the co- founder of The Shadows Project, a cultural organization led by young Ukrainians that focuses on battling Russia's misinformation warfare. She joins me now from here in Lviv. Catarina, hello to you. Thanks for joining us.


LEMON: You were studying at Stanford -- good morning. You saw what was happening in your country and decided to return. So, tell me about that decision and what you've been seeing since you've been here.

BUCHARSKIY: Well, I think that the day that the war started is the day that my life and the day that the lives of millions of Ukrainians changed forever. And, you know, before the war, that day, I went about my normal life. It was Wednesday for me because of the time difference. And at 6:45 p.m., my time, Putin declared war in Ukraine.

And the moment that he did that, anything else in my life stopped mattering, and I became a Ukrainian above anything else, above a Stanford student, above a roommate, above a classmate. And it was a very natural decision for me. I wanted to go instantly.

As soon as I realized what was happening, I called my mother and told her that I needed to go, I needed to leave because I couldn't possibly be continuing any of my normal life when my very identity was at threat. So, it felt like a very personal attack on me and on millions of Ukrainians. So that was a very big responsibility, and I instantly felt drawn to leave Stanford and do whatever I could to help from Ukraine.

LEMON: The cultural research organization you run, The Shadows Project, seeks to fight Russian misinformation and historical revisionism. How do you fight that? How do you do that?

BUCHARSKIY: It's complicated and it's a difficult process because so much of our history has been purposefully erased and suppressed by the Russians. So, a lot of this history of Ukraine we're still discovering and we're still trying to dig up from archives, a lot of it has been destroyed. And so, it's not really there anymore. We're trying to piece everything together from what we have.

But the way we do this is trying to make our history more accessible because we've had a problem with having access to it, especially in younger generations that are just growing up in this new independent Ukraine, and trying to figure out -- for the first time, we have the opportunity to shape our country and to shape our history. And we need to figure out -- in order to do that, we need to figure out what that history is.

And so, what Shadows Project tries to do is bring that history to young Ukrainians so they can decide what to do with it. So, we want to make our history and our culture available and accessible for young Ukrainians to understand their past, and with that, try and shape their future.

So, we have worked with a lot of different cultural organizations all around Ukraine and also some museums around Ukraine as well as online platforms in order to try and make our culture and our history a very immersive experience, something that we can really take part in.

So, one of the things we did over the summer is work with the National Museum of History in Kyiv to try and find what they have there, they have so much material that has not really been brought to light yet, and dig through that and figure out what's really interesting for us, what's relevant for us, what can tell us something new about our history that we don't know before and make that available.

LEMON: Yeah. Well, Catarina, our time is a bit short because we have so much news tonight, but I'm so happy and proud of what you're doing. Continue to do that. The Shadows Project. Co-founded The Shadows Project. Thank you. You be well. Hopefully, I'll get to meet you before I leave. Thank you.

BUCHARSKIY: Thank you.

LEMON: Thank you. So, new life in the midst of war. One hospital in Poland delivering babies for Ukrainian refugees.




LEMON: More than four million refugees have fled Ukraine. Most of them, women and children. CNN's Kyung Lah spoke to Ukrainian women in Poland, who are having their babies far from home.


KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Born just hours ago in Poland, baby Adelina (ph) is already a survivor of the war in Ukraine.

Is it -- is it hard to be happy?

It is, she says. Adelina (ph) is Khrystyna Pavluchenko's first child. You feel guilty? Why?

KHRYSTYNA PAVLUCHENKO, UKRAINIAN REFUGEE (through translator): Because I left, she says, left her home in Western Ukraine.

LAH (voice-over): The war had begun. The bombing neared their city. Pavluchenko escaped by bus, then walked on foot across the border. Paramedics rushed her to the hospital. She delivered Adelina (ph) a month early, separated from her family.

PAVLUCHENKO (through translator): My mother, sister, grandparents, still in Ukraine. He is killing our people, she says, of Vladimir Putin. How could anyone be so cruel? MAGDA DUTSCH, INFLANCKA SPECIALIST HOSPITAL: I am terrified. I'm terrified that something like this can happen.


That you can live your everyday life, and all the sudden, because of decisions that you have no influence upon, there is a war and you have to flee. It's -- it's unbelievable. It's terrifying.

LAH (voice-over): Dr. Magda Dutsch is a psychiatrist at Inflancka Specialist Hospital in Warsaw. The hospital focused on treating women has seen 80 Ukrainian patients this month, delivered 11 babies, and treating cancer patients like 58-year-old Tatiana Mikhailuk.

TATIANA MIKHAILUK, UKRAINIAN REFUGEE (through translator): I ran with my granddaughter in my arms, she says.

LAH (voice-over): Missiles had already blown up the windows in their building. As they fled, something exploded next to their car. Her city is now occupied by Russians. She is grateful for her doctors at the hospital and the free healthcare in Poland that is treating her cervical cancer.

Khrystyna is one of the doctors. We are not using her last name because she, herself, is also a refugee from Ukraine. A mother of a five-year-old and the wife of a Ukrainian military man.

(On camera): Your husband?

KHRYSTYNA, DOCTOR (through translator): My husband has been in the military since 2014. At the moment, he's in Lviv.

LAH (on camera): You had to leave your husband behind?

KHRYSTYNA, DOCTOR (through translator): Yes, she says. Now, in Warsaw, I can't sit and do nothing, she says. I have this opportunity here to help women who fled the country.

LAH (voice-over): With each breath, baby Adelina offers her mother a respite from the war.

(On camera): What will you tell your daughter about her birth?

PAVLUCHENKO (through translator): The truth, she says. We will tell her everything as it was. She should know the truth.


LEMON (on camera): That was CNN's Kyung Lah in Warsaw, Poland. Thank you, Kyung, for that.

And thanks for watching, everyone. Our live coverage continues with John Vause in just a moment.