Return to Transcripts main page
Don Lemon Tonight
Strike On Russian Fuel Depot, Kremlin Blaming Ukraine; Odessa Hit With Russian Missiles; Intelligence In The Ukraine-Russia Conflict. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired April 01, 2022 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Right now, Don, there's a lot going on where you are. Looking forward to your show. It certainly is a -- I know you're going to have all the late breaking developments coming up. One other thing, Don -- let me ask you a quick question before I let you go, because a lot of us are watching. We're all worried not just about you but all of our fellow journalists, photo journalists over where you are. Give us a little sense of how you are all handling this.
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Okay. Hello everyone. Sorry, we're having some transmission issues. Obviously, we are in a war zone so there's a bit of a problem. Hopefully we are on the air now. Sorry about that. Wolf was trying to talk to me but apparently you couldn't see or hear me. So hopefully you can now.
This is Don Lemon -- we're okay by the way, for all of those who are asking. Everything is fine here. It's just a transmission issue. This is Don Lemon in western Ukraine. Thank you so much for joining us. I'm in Lviv.
Our breaking news tonight, there's new video tonight that shows the horror of Vladimir Putin's war on this country. Before I show it to you, I have to warn you that it is difficult to watch. In the Kyiv region, bodies seen in the street and the village of Bucha after five days of intense firefights.
Unclear from that video whether the bodies are of civilians or military. Ukraine says it has recaptured the town, which is about 15 miles from the capitol. And Moscow's assault faltering. That Ukraine attack on Russia was -- on Russia's soil, who did it? Volodymyr Zelenskyy saying this tonight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, PRESIDENT OF UKRAINE (through translation): I do
not discuss any of my orders as commander-in-chief, the leader of the state. You need to understand that on that territory that you mentioned, you have to know that they were placing their shooting systems and firing those missiles themselves.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So Ukraine won't confirm or deny whether it was behind that fiery attack today on a fuel depot inside Russia.
The attack in Belgorod, a highly militarize Russian city near the Ukrainian border. Russia claims it was caused by an airstrike from Ukrainian helicopters, a claim CNN is unable to verify at this time. Ukraine's foreign minister telling CNN's Christiane Amanpour this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DMYTRO KULEBA, FOREIGN MINISTER OF UKRAINE: I saw the video, but the quality is insufficient for me to identify whether it was a Ukrainian helicopters or not. I am Ukrainian. I have trust in the people of Ukraine and in our armed forces. And of course, as foreign minister now, diplomacy.
This is a war. They attacked us to destroy us. They reject our right to exist as a nation. So, it means that we will be fighting back by all means available to us within existing law, international laws of warfare of course because we are a civilized nation, unlike them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Now the Kremlin is claiming that the strike could hurt talks between Ukraine and Russia even though it was Vladimir Putin's unprovoked invasion of Ukraine that started all of this in the first place. And we have new evidence tonight of Russia's waning success in Ukraine. Satellite images from Maxar Technologies confirm Russian forces have suddenly disappeared from Antonov Airport outside of Kyiv. This is the before showing protective earth and burns around military vehicles and artillery positions.
And this is the after. The vehicles are all gone. It is unclear where they went. Russia captured the airfield on the first day of the war.
That as officials say three missiles launched from Russian-annexed Crimea have hit the Odessa region. There are reportedly casualties though we don't know how many.
Meanwhile buses crowded with some 700 residents of the besieged city of Mariupol arriving in Zaporizhzhia tonight. But they are the lucky ones. More than 100,000 people are still trapped in Mariupol. The Red Cross wasn't able to get into the city today. They are going to try again tomorrow.
I want to bring in now CNN's Fred Pleitgen in Kyiv for us. Fred, hello to you. Ukrainian officials aren't confirming or denying whether they hit a fuel depot inside Russian territory. You've reported from Belgorod where this strike occurred. What do you know about this?
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I mean, it really is completely unclear whether or not the Ukrainians are actually behind it. Certainly that is with the Russians say. In fact, in a move that was really remarkable, the Russian defense ministry came out and said that it was MI-24 helicopters that came at 5:00 a.m. this morning to Belgorod and hit that facility and then managed to escape.
Again, the Ukrainians are not saying whether that's true. The video that we are seeing on social media certainly seems to indicate that there were choppers that did hit that place. It would be very difficult for the Ukrainians to actually pull that off. As you said, I was down there on the ground for a very long time reporting from that region.
Belgorod is one of the most fortified cities in all of Russia. It's a military city. And right now, in addition to that, you have a bunch of Russian forces that are in between Belgorod and Kharkiv, obviously trying to press that offensive in Kharkiv. And they also have a lot of anti-aircraft weapons there as well.
So certainly it would have been something difficult to pull off, but if the Ukrainians did manage to pull it off and do it, then it would certainly be a big gut punch to the Russians right in the heart of their military machine, Don.
LEMON: Yes. And that is one of the worst-hit cities. On the besieged city of Mariupol, what is the latest there? More than 100,000 remain trapped there. Is there -- is aid getting to the city?
PLEITGEN: No it's not. And that's one of the things that the officials in Mariupol are saying, other Ukrainian officials are saying as well. They are saying that not only is very little to no aid actually coming into the city, they're also saying that people want to help also can't get into the city either. So, it continues to be an absolutely dire situation.
You know, the Ukrainian officials who came out earlier today and said in total everywhere here, more than 6,000 people have been evacuated from zones that were deemed dangerous. So, only very few of those actually came from Mariupol. Apparently it's still very difficult to enter the city, which is pretty much impossible for any sort of aid, but also for people to get out as well.
And you know, the other thing is, and we've talked about this so much in the past, is that some of those aid convoys that do get out of Mariupol, you know, they're shelled by the Russians. And people have been injured, people have been killed. So certainly, the situation there remains very dangerous.
There is still a lot of people who are trapped inside that city. As that city continues to get decimated, of course, we know from reports on the ground that that shelling from Russian positions into that besieged and encircled city that that is something that really continues without pause, Don?
LEMON: Frederik Pleitgen in Kyiv for us. Fred, thank you.
The Odessa region hit today by three missiles launched from Crimea. CNN's Ed Lavandera live for us in Odessa. And hello to you. Odessa has been bracing for war since the beginning of Russia's invasion. Now, a few rockets have hit that region. Are folks there worried more may come?
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's the concern that still exist here. Even though it is a city Don that had essentially enjoyed several days of quiet, but it's an uneasy quiet because everyone is waiting for what's coming next. They don't really believe that they are out of the clear in any way and that's why they've been watching so closely what is happening in the north around Kyiv.
But now they're really shifting their attention to figure out what's going to be coming from the east of Ukraine and whether or not Russian forces are going to re-deploy after they have re-supplied and again make the push down towards Odessa.
So far, Russian forces have been stalled out about halfway between here and Mariupol. You know, the question is what's coming next?
LEMON: Ed, you know, you caught up with families, families who have been displaced by the war, who have escaped Odessa. What are you hearing from them?
LAVANDERA: Well, you know, this has been really one of the tragic aspect of all of this and getting to Odessa for many families who have been trapped in that -- those southern areas of Ukraine into the southeast areas where they have been trapped in villages, in their homes, trying to escape through humanitarian routes that haven't materialized or they only materialize for a short amount of time.
And we came across a shelter, essentially, that was handing out food and clothes to so many people who have been displaced to Odessa, who have chosen to stay here, you know, and they just described the heartache that they've been through just to get to this point. And you can hear from one woman who we talked to earlier today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OLGA PETKOVICH (through translation): When we came here the volunteers told us to say what we need. But I'm ashamed. I've worked all my life and never asked anyone for anything and now I have to ask.
LAVANDERA (on camera): Her little girl wipes away her mother's tears.
(Voice-over): Mother, why are you crying, the girl asks. Because they were shelling us a lot, Olga tells her.
(END VIDEO CLIP) LAVANDERA: Don, this is a family and mother with her five children
and her husband who had to walk through a forest by their village just to escape the Russians that were firing all around them. Getting to Odessa, even though it's a short distance relatively speaking compared to the size of this country, is really just an incredibly harrowing and treacherous journey for so many of these families. Don?
LEMON: Ed, appreciate your reporting. Please be safe out there. Thank you so much. I want to bring in now CNN military analyst, Major General James Spider Marks. General, good to see you. And I have to tell you and everyone who is watching. We're okay. We had a bit of a transmission issue at the top of the show, but again, everything is fine. We just couldn't -- trying to get to New York and from here and so things just went haywire but we're back now.
Thanks for joining us. So let's talk about this "New York Times" report. That the U.S. is going to Work with allies to transfer Soviet made tanks to Ukraine. How significant is this shift and what will this mean for the next phase of this war, whatever that is?
JAMES SPIDER MARKS, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, it's a significant additive to the Ukrainian forces. These tanks that are coming in, the Ukrainians have used this type of tank, this T72 model which is a Russian-made tank. They've used these before so they are confident. They know what they look like. They know how to engage them. They know how to maintain them.
And they've really done some significant training over the course of a couple of decades where they really worked extremely well in terms of combat maneuver and the synchronization of all the elements of combat. The joint forces we call it, which means you have tanks, you have -- you work in a three dimensional space. You have tanks. You have aircrafts. You have attack helicopters. You have infantry. You have logistics, and you work and synchronize all that together.
So additional tanks at this point, where the Russians are now, and you showed that imagery, where the Russians have now departed the airfield in the vicinity of Kyiv. That is a significant indicator. But they have departed that and they are now back in Belarus or Russia, which again is no longer a sanctuary, if in fact this Hind 24 attack in Belgorod was, but done by the Ukrainians. The Russian's aren't safe in Russia, which is wonderful. So these tanks (inaudible) these tanks will be very, very helpful for the Ukrainians.
LEMON: Hey, I wanted to talk to you about that. Let's talk more, General, about the assessment of the strike against the Russian fuel depot that you just mentioned. The Ukrainians are not confirming or denying it was them. But if Ukrainians carried this out using combat helicopters, how significant would that be?
MARKS: Oh, it's very significant. Again, the Ukrainians have really turned the tide over the course of about a week. The Russians are on their heels. They're flat-footed. They are removing equipment, not because it's their simple choice. It's because the Ukrainians have set the conditions on the ground and are beating the Russians back. So they are making tactical determinations that what they were doing does not make sense. This is wonderful for the Ukrainians now to engage and get across the border. And look, this attack on this oil and fuel depot is not going to have a significant impact tonight on the fight that's taking place tonight.
It will down the road because I severely degrades the Russian ability to conduct logistics operations. It's already been made very clear that they are not doing it very well. You know, you push logistics forward. What the Russians are doing is moving all their stuff back to re-kit and refill and, you know, and get ready for the next initiative if they have any. So it's wonderful for the Ukrainians to take the initiative and push the Russians, keep pushing the Russians and set those conditions.
LEMON: It impacts negatively on their ability to refuel. What about the psychological blow to Russia? I mean, this is 25 miles inside their borders, as Fred Pleitgen reported. It's a heavily defended area, isn't it?
MARKS: You have to imagine that it really is. I mean, at the start of the war, Fred Pleitgen was right there in Belgorod, right? And you saw all the multiple rocket launchers launching from a position of sanctuary, i.e. they were in Russia.
Nobody was shooting at them. And they were launching their missiles in the direction of Ukraine. So, you have to imagine that it's highly protected. It's been -- and Fred has indicated that it's highly protected. And so for the Ukrainians to conduct this operation, number one, it speaks to the professionalism of the Ukrainians, if in fact they did this.
Deep planning, deep strike operations, you have to evade air defenses. You have to jam their radars, et cetera. There is a lot of planning that goes into that. Then you have to fly these aircraft at (inaudible). That means you follow the folds of the terrain, very difficult to do in blackout conditions.
So they demonstrated an incredible level of professionalism and competence. And then for the Russians, to think all along that they have been in some form a sanctuary, well, that's been broken, right? You're no longer safe.
LEMON: Yes. President Zelenskyy was on Fox tonight talking about what happened and he was asked about assassination attempts against him. Here it is,
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRET BAIER, FOX NEWS HOST: Do you know how many assassination attempts you've survived?
ZELENSKYY (through translation): I don't know.
BAIER: But there have been some.
ZELENSKYY: There are things which is difficult for me to count. My intelligence says there were such attempts and we saw information about some arrivals, planes, there were other details. But listen, I am alive. I am not wounded. I am intact. So, it's hard for me to talk about this. So many people have died in our country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: He is under no illusion that Putin would like to take him out. Do you think Putin will ever give up on that?
MARKS: No, not at all. And isn't it remarkable the type of leadership that President Zelenskyy is demonstrating. Unbelievable. When he was elected, everybody thought about this comedian, this television star, was coming in to be the president and they thought what do we have in front of us?
And you look at this, incredibly, inarguably, he has become the George Washington of Ukraine. This is a remarkable man who has demonstrated measured indignation with some support and this calm resolute approach towards this overarching monster of Russia. And he has just stood there, face that down and shot them the bird in the vernacular.
LEMON: Yes. Yes. It sounds like the, you know, the submarine guys, basically --
MARKS: Exactly. Absolutely. God love people with that level of resilience and fortitude and focus. And understanding the risks if they get it wrong.
LEMON: Yes. Listen, it's amazing to watch, to be here on the ground and actually watch in realtime how people respond to him especially we just happen to be in between shows when his nightly address comes out and everyone in the restaurant/bar, wherever we're eating, gets up, they're quiet, they turn the volume up and they listen to him.
And they are really, really inspired by him. The P.R. campaign and the way he is conducting himself really is having an effect on the morale, not only on the soldier, but on the people as well.
Before I let you go, I want to talk to you about this new disturbing video tonight showing bodies on the streets of Bucha, general. It's a village on the outskirts of Kyiv that Ukrainians have retaken. Now Ukrainians maybe retaking cities, but what's left of them, I mean, it is just destroyed, they're decimated.
MARKS: Yes. It's, frankly, it's illogical. The strategy that the Russians have at least purported to have has been completely changed because of the conditions on the ground. And videos like this are incredibly difficult to absorb. I mean, the human cost of this kind of fight is very, very obvious.
And so what you see is with the Russians is that they realize they cannot take on the Ukrainian forces in a ground, combat engagement because they are losing. And so the only success that they have been able to achieve is through terror tactics, the use of dumb weapon systems and they attack civilian targets. This is not warfare. It's criminality.
LEMON: Yes. Yes. Right on. General, thank you. Be well. I'll talk to you soon.
MARKS: Thank you, Don. Be safe.
LEMON: Thank you very much. So for a big picture look at what all this means for the overall conflict, I want to bring in now CNN's Fareed Zakaria, the host of CNN's "Fareed Zakaria GPS." Fareed, I appreciate you joining us. Thanks so much. It's been so -- since I've spoken to you, there's been so many twists and turns in this war.
This fuel supply attack on Belgorod, Russia pulling back forces, multiple reports of low morale among Russian troops, sabotaging their own vehicles.
The U.S. says -- Putin is self -- saying they -- that Putin is self- isolating, possibly firing some of his advisers, not a lot going Russia's way. How do you see this?
FARED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST, FAREED ZAKARIA GPS: Not a lot going Russia's way, Don, but that worries me because what worries me is that the Russians do not still seem serious about negotiating. Zelenskyy, to his credit, has been incredibly brave. He has been incredibly courageous. He has embodied the fighting spirit of the Ukrainians, while at the same time, constantly, continually, holding out the olive branch for peace.
He's talked about how he is willing to meet with Putin if you recall when he was on my program. He talked about how he'd meet with Putin, make painful concessions. He's even outlined the nature of some of those concessions. Ukraine is willing to be neutral, right? The Russians are not biting.
They are not engaging seriously in negotiations and what that makes me worry about is that facing this exactly what you described, this fierce resistance, setbacks on their part. Are they going to get more and more brutal? Because, you know, one of the things you've been pointing out, Don, this is going badly for the Russians, but Ukraine is slowly being destroyed.
And I really worry about how much can the Ukrainians take? They've been so brave and I just wonder whether we need to start thinking about what is it that will get the Russians to the negotiating table? As you know, I've always felt there needs to be greater pressure on them. We need to sanction oil and natural gas.
We need to give the Ukrainians more so that they can fight even harder. Because whatever we're doing right now, if the goal is to get the Russians to the negotiating table, so far, that is not happening.
LEMON: I am glad you said that because I've been thinking that as I've been here and talking to people who have been fleeing the east, right, and coming further west into Lviv and even beyond across the border.
Yes, the Ukrainian troops are pushing the Russian troops back. They are being -- they are stronger than people would have thought. They are more strategic than people would have thought. They are more cunning than people -- they have the will and the good morale and all of that.
But the cities are being decimated. People are losing their lives. People are losing their homes. Families are being separated. So, to what end, right? To what end? And I think you're right. What will bring Russia to the negotiating table because, even with all of that, it doesn't seem like they're going to stop. They use the crude weaponry. They used the missiles. They even, you know, they had a missile strike here in Lviv last week. So, you're right. To what end, Fareed?
ZAKARIA: Yes. You know, Don, we cannot allow Ukraine to be destroyed to be saved. There has to be a better way.
ZAKARIA: And one of the, you know, one of the things I don't think a lot of people understand is that for Russia, this is almost a kind of colonial war. You know, this is not a great power thing between (inaudible) and NATO. Ukraine for a lot of Russians and for Vladimir Putin is basically a kind of colony of Russia.
And just as the French fought bitterly in Algeria and the British fought in places like Kenya, Russia is the last great multinational empire. And we're living in a post-imperial age, but this is the last one. And they are desperately holding on to these possession, in their view, possessions. And they can't stand the fact the Ukrainians want --
ZAKARIA: -- don't want to be colonial subjects. They want to be free.
LEMON: Fareed, let me ask you this. How much of this then, I mean, for me, for Vladimir Putin, this is all about puffery and pride. I feel, and you can tell me if I'm wrong, that he will destroy this country because it's smaller, because he wants to be seen as bigger and mightier and that, you know, he can do whatever he wants to Ukraine. But he will destroy this country in order just to save face.
ZAKARIA: That is my fear as well, Don. And that's one of the reasons why I feel like we need to start thinking about what the potential endgames are. What kind of pressure you need to put on the Russians, both military and non-military. But also what of the kind -- what is the kind of diplomatic pressure? What are the kind of diplomatic off- ramps? Are there ways to get, you know, people like the Chinese involved or the Turks or, you know, Prime Minister Bennett of Israel has a plan.
I say let's try all these things, not letting up on the pressure, but again, let's just keep in mind, the goal cannot be that we have to destroy Ukraine to save it or we have to allow Ukraine to get destroyed by the Russians to save it.
ZAKARIA: There has got to be a better way because, you know, to see these images you're showing, it's heartbreaking, but it could go on. I mean, I think about what happened in Chechnya in the 1990s. The Russians leveled that entire region, 250,000 civilians were killed. We do not want a replay of that.
LEMON: And I keep seeing, you know, tonight, 300 million more dollars. It's not about the money. You know, America is a rich country and I'm sure, you know, we can afford -- we can afford this in many ways. But how much longer do you keep giving weapons, keep giving money, keep doing all of these things to try to support the Ukrainian people, which we should be doing. But then them in the interim, getting decimated in the process. Are we prolonging the inevitable? Do you understand what I am saying? I'm not saying that we shouldn't help them. Of course, we should. But are we prolonging the inevitable?
ZAKARIA: Yes, I do. I do. I mean, look at (inaudible). The longer this drags on, right, the more towns, the more cities get destroyed. Look, you've got to fight aggression and you've got to give them the weapons to fight back. But as I say, we have to keep searching for ways.
We need an endgame. We need off-ramps. We need to be thinking about ways to get this to wind down because, let's face it, there is also the reality that maybe -- I think the United States will stay firm, but will all of Europe stay firm? Will so much of the world stay firm? You know, we need to be thinking about this strategically and asking ourselves, what is the best way to end the war in a way that preserves Ukraine's independence?
ZAKARIA: Those are the two goals. And surely that is the task for American diplomacy. End the war and preserve Ukraine's independence.
LEMON: Very good assessment. So, President Zelenskyy is saying, he said just tonight that he wants peace. He is putting, to what you were saying, he is putting forward a proposal, but it's got to include security guarantees with real muscle to prevent Putin from attacking again the next time he wants a piece of Ukraine here. How is that going to work and if it involves weapons and troops, how is that different than NATO?
ZAKARIA: It's a great point, Don, and I think that's why it's going to be a tough ask on his part. If the United States were to give him a security guarantee, that's essentially the same as you say, as being a member of NATO. I think there is probably ways in which you can provide security
guarantees that do not forego the Article Five, you know, an attack on one is an attack on all. That the United States would assist. You know, there are things like that. Even with Taiwan, for example. Most people don't realize the United States is not committed to go to war in Taiwan's defense. It is committed to help Taiwan.
So maybe there's a way to phrase it where you are making clear that the United States would provide assistance. And if it were not just the United States, with Germany, you know, maybe many of the countries of Europe. The crucial question is, can you get the Russians to respect all of this?
You know, there was a Budapest declaration or agreement that the Russians signed in 1994, which is why Ukraine gave up its nuclear weapons. They didn't abide by that. They didn't abide by it in 2014 when they took Crimea. They're not abiding by it now. So, you know, the real question as always returns back to the
But I think you make a very good point. The nature of the security guarantee to Ukraine is not going to be an Article Five, an attack on Ukraine is the same as an attack on America kind of commitment which exists really only for NATO countries.
LEMON: Fareed, this is why I enjoy this conversation. This is not an inside the beltway conversation. This is a Fareed and Don sitting on the couch conversation, which people are doing at home. So I really appreciate your answers and your candor tonight. So, thank you for appearing. I'll see you soon. I'll be watching this weekend. Thanks, Fareed.
ZAKARIA: Stay safe.
LEMON: Thank you very much. Make sure you watch "Fareed Zakaria GPS," Sunday, 10:00 a.m., 1:00 p.m. right here on CNN.
So her husband is fighting for Ukraine and she reports on it every single day. And I got to sit down with a journalist right here in Lviv who is right at the forefront of the war. That is next.
LEMON: Okay. So, I've been bringing you the stories of people since I've been here. And today I got to meet with someone who does what I do. She is a news anchor covering this war except, Marichka Padalko, is covering her own country being invaded. Now, Marichka anchors on the Ukraine's -- on one of Ukraine's top networks, and has been air doing her job since the invasion started.
Her husband, a former politician, is now fighting for Ukraine. Her children have been evacuated out of their country in an attempt to keep them safe, I should, have been evacuated out of their city to western part of the country. She gets to see them occasionally, she got to see them today. Now, Marichka is determined to do what she can to help her country. She calls it her mission from the anchor desk. Here's our conversation.
LEMON (on camera): How are you?
MARICHKA PADALKO, UKRAINIAN JOURNALIST: I don't even know what the right answer to this question considering who's asking me about this.
PADALKO: I mean, if people from Ukraine is asking me how am I, I would say I'm fine because I am alive, my kids are okay and my husband is alive.
But, I mean, if somebody from the outside is asking me, I still -- I think the comprehension of what is going on will come later because it still feels, even to me, so unreal.
LEMON: I'm sure you could feel the pulse of the nation. I mean, you could feel. What was that like?
PADALKO: For me it was very emotional because I'd probably be in the -- a news anchor. The beginning, the start of the war for me meant that my husband was leaving for the army.
We understood that this war will be in every family in this way, in one way or another way. And that morning, we knew that some of our TV anchors were not able to be at the TV station just because they had to take care of their kids, to take them to safety.
And actually the biggest discussion that I think I had with my husband maybe months before the invasion because he was very -- he was being very responsible about this war. And he said, you have to make me a promise that on the day of the invasion or whenever it starts, you just put your kids in the car and take them to safety and I go to the army.
And I said, would about my job? I mean, I have a mission to go to a TV station. And I don't think it's less important than your mission to go to the army.
LEMON: As you were in the air then, you knew your husband was going to have to go away. Did he go away immediately?
PADALKO: Actually, when I was done with my first broadcast on that day, I rushed back home because he was already back from western Ukraine where he took the kids. He had only 15 minutes to get back his backpack, to put on his uniform and to go and be at the designated place.
LEMON: And what was that like? PADALKO: For me, it was heartbreaking because I didn't know whether,
you know, to tell you the truth, I didn't know whether I was going to see him again I mean, because the guys go to war. What can you expect?
LEMON: How did you decide who goes on the air and when because I notice when I'm here, I'm flipping through channel after channel after channel. It has a different name on the screen.
LEMON: But it's the same --
PADALKO: But same picture.
LEMON: Same picture. Same people on.
PADALKO: Now it's divided very proportionately amongst all TV channels who are in this united use. One day we have a night shift, the next day we have morning shift. Then we have day shift. Then we have this evening shift. And then we repeat. So, it's all equally divided between channels.
But we are also all the time in this (inaudible) studio. So, anytime somebody cannot be on the air, cannot broadcast for whatever reason, they feel bad, I mean, they're sick, or whatever happens with the technical facilities, or they had to go to the bomb shelter. We fill in.
LEMON: There is a backup?
PADALKO: Yes. There's a backup.
LEMON: But I noticed it's just, I think, it's just one camera, straight to camera. There's no different -- it's not fancy.
PADALKO: Yes because --
LEMON: No bells and whistles.
PADALKO: Yes. It's wartime.
LEMON: Is there any understanding for you as a media person that the Russian people are being brainwashed, that they are not seeing the free press and that's why they are, in part doing what they're doing, large part, really, because they're not getting the right information.
PADALKO: You know what, I have a very personal story about this because my husband was born and raised in Russia. His parents are in Russia. And they've been to Ukraine many times. They've seen us. They've seen people. They know what is going on. But still, at this point, they are brainwashed by Russian news and they think that we deserved it.
LEMON: So you don't think you have a relationship with your in-laws?
PADALKO: Not very close relationships. We had some actually break after Crimea was annexed.
LEMON: You had a break
PADALKO: We had a five-year break.
LEMON: You didn't talk to them.
LEMON: Did he talk to them?
PADALKO: Sometimes because, you know, they're their parents, just talking how -- just saying how the kids are.
LEMON: Has he spoken to them?
PADALKO: He asked his mom not to text him because he said that it's very hypocritical of her to be asking how he is or showing some care for him when our children are being bombarded by Russian missiles.
LEMON: Do they believe him?
PADALKO: I don't think so. Because they never (inaudible) back.
LEMON: That's tough.
PADALKO: But you know, having a job now unlike many people in Ukraine, that's what keeps me distracted of all my worries that I have because that's the only time I don't think where my husband is or whether he's alive now or something happened.
LEMON: It's a nice distraction.
LEMON: You said you have a mission. Is that mission to inform people and not have them be like Russians?
PADALKO: This is the first mission that you said that inform people and not be -- to be real news and not propaganda. But now I have special -- I see a special mission for myself as I was the person to announce that the war has started. I have to announce that it has ended. So, I'm waiting for this mission to happen in my life. Hopefully I will see that moment this year.
LEMON: What will you say?
PADALKO: I don't think that I will have words at that point. And maybe I will start saying something about Ukraine and it will be pushing my partner to pick me up and we'll be crying because (inaudible) at that time I will have an excuse for tears.
LEMON: I hope she gets that moment very soon.
There is a physical war and there's the information war. We're going to look at how Putin and the west are fighting for public opinion. Stay with us.
LEMON: Throughout Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the west has been using intelligence to paint a picture of how demoralized the Russian army is. Even before Vladimir Putin invaded, the U.S. was releasing intelligence saying that the invasion was eminent. My next guest says intelligence is now being used as an instrument of power.
He's Doug London and he is a retired senior CIA operations officer and author of "The Recruiter: Spying and the Lost Art of American Intelligence" and he joins us now. Thank you so much for joining us Doug. You say that what we're seeing in this conflict are global powers using intelligence as an instrument of power. Tell me more about that please.
DOUG LONDON, FORMER SENIOR CIA OPERATIONS OFFICER: Well, absolutely. If you just turn the clock back to November, had Russia invaded before the U.S. began this campaign of declassifying intelligence, I am not so certain that Ukraine would be seeing the type of international support that it's received.
I'm particularly dubious that Poland and Germany, who had been fairly problematic NATO partners would have adopted the postures they had today. You look at the mystique that Putin tried to depict as being the (inaudible) master strategist, so much of that has been deflated by exposures of his true designs and by the disinformation that he was putting out.
And if you consider that eight years almost of training and support that Ukrainians receive from U.S. intelligence and Special Operations Forces, I have to think that's contributed significantly to their battlefield success against those numerically superior force.
LEMON: Doug, you worked in intelligence for decades. Give us your assessment of the intel that was released about Putin being misinformed by his own advisers.
LONDON: I think that's a fair assessment based on how we've seen Putin act currently and in the past. He's not really been reckless. He is a former KGB officer himself. He likes to have the plans and he likes to plan several steps ahead.
So, I think it's fair to calculate that his own decision-making was based on flawed intelligence and it's really a system he has created. A power of his sort. How many people are really going to go tell him the bad news, to speak truth to power?
The question I get often is would the U.S. be embellishing? Would it be making up disinformation? Legally, it's actually prohibited and I know there are skeptics and cynics, but U.S. intelligence is not allowed to be used to influence public opinion in the United States, which is where these new stories ultimately land.
LEMON: How dangerous is that?
LONDON: I think it's dangerous when he has been making plans on the type of intelligence which would lead him to make serious mistakes. And clearly his judgment has been flawed. We already see the blame game starting and it may even turn into a full-fledged purge with his apparent arrest of senior FSB officers, particularly the one who led the FSB directorate that was in charge of intelligence for Ukraine and the other Soviet states.
So, I think an insecure Putin is obviously a dangerous Putin, but I also think that his escalation has been tempered by the exposure of his plans by keeping him on the defensive, by keeping him reactive. And I think we see some of that in Russian actions today on the battlefield.
LEMON: Doug, the United Kingdom's intel chief is saying that Russian soldiers are low on morale, refusing to carry out orders. Can releasing that information have an impact on the battlefield?
LONDON: I think we have to accept that a lot what we are putting out is in fact getting to the Russian community. And I understand and having heard your previous segment that particularly the older generation of Russians are rallying around Putin, but I also believe information is getting through.
Most of the younger generation is getting their information digitally. They're also going to face the tangible consequences of lost family members as well as the economic consequences of his actions. So, I'd like to think that by keeping the pressure up, by not sort of slowing down and keeping our foot on the accelerator, we'll continue to cause the type of internal pressure and the real consequences that will ideally make Putin more willing to negotiate.
LEMON: You had a piece out on CNN.com where you talk about how Biden's remark this week that Putin cannot remain in power, which the White House had to backtrack on actually take us further away from our goals in Russia. How so?
LONDON: Well, you know, the history of Russian politics is one of conspiracy and consensus and it transcends contemporary times as well as the days of the Soviet Union and before. The Silovaki (ph), the so- called strongman who are from the former military and intel services who run that government or at least under Putin's direction, they are not necessarily friends of the United States, but they are certainly opportunists.
There are those who latched on with Putin for their own self-interest. We don't want to put them in the limelight where they feel taking any action, even standing up to Putin and suggesting this might not be the best course for Russia would make them appear like American puppets. It sort of plays to Putin's ability to rally the population for him.
So, there is a way to manipulate that and there is a way to facilitate them, covertly even, but I think we just need to be careful and tactful not to make a scene like those who would help us would be considered U.S. allies because that would likely undermine any intention they would have to take a stand against Putin whether it's altering his opinion or something perhaps even more dramatic.
LEMON: Doug, thank you so much. We appreciate you joining us this evening.
LONDON: Thanks for having me on, Don.
LEMON: The Kremlin accusing Ukraine of attacking a fuel depot inside of Russia. Was Ukraine behind the attack or is it an excuse for Russia to escalate the war? Stay with us.