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Don Lemon Tonight
Mariupol An Unrecognizable City Now; Russian Forces Moving Into Eastern Ukraine; U.S. Sanctions Vladimir Putin's Family; Poland Have Been Into Ukraine's Position. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired April 06, 2022 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: I wanted to do one when I was there, but it's kind of tough, right, you got to -- it's hard to coordinate because they don't use to announce them. So, I thought that it was breathtaking and I loved your reporting. What struck that most -- what struck you about -- about it?
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: I guess, two things. First of all, thank you, Don. Two things. One is how similar the traditions are. I mean, they weren't playing taps but it sounded similar. Obviously, prayers sound very similar no matter what church or synagogue or mosque you go to, the kind of chanting, and just the pageantry of it all.
But then also it was interesting. I thought you heard that the city official telling me that they shortened the military proceedings, the funeral, because they didn't want to demoralize troops, which was very telling, the idea that they were already only 42 days in this worried about demoralizing troops.
LEMON: Yes. Well, Jake, as I said, your coverage has been fascinating. I look forward to seeing you tomorrow night on CNN Tonight and also on "THE LEAD." We'll be checking you out. Thank you, sir. Be safe and get some rest.
TAPPER: Thanks, buddy.
LEMON: This is -- absolutely, this is DON LEMON TONIGHT.
These names that, listen, you probably have never in a million years thought that you would recognize these names or you would be talking about them and hearing them so much. Mariupol, Borodyanka, Bucha. They've become synonymous with almost unspeakable atrocities.
And as Bucha buries its dead and the world is horrified by the brutality that we have seen there, newly released drone video shows one of Russia's atrocities in Bucha, and I have to warn you, OK, it is very disturbing, but we have to see it.
Now this is a cyclist. He's highlighted right there on the right rounding the corner when suddenly, a Russian tank on the left side of your screen right there, fires in the direction of the cyclist.
A second video posted to Twitter and geolocated by CNN to the same street shows the result of that -- a body sprawled alongside the bike, others lying among burned-out cars and debris. The realities of war.
A senior U.S. defense official telling CNN the intelligence committee believes it will be able to identify Russian units responsible for the atrocities in Bucha, calling them pre-meditated and very, very deliberate.
That as the Red Cross tells CNN the situation in Mariupol in the southeast is getting worse and worse. Frankly, it's hard to imagine that. Residents have had no light, they had no communication with the outside world , no medicine, no heat or water for weeks.
The mayor of Mariupol saying 40 percent of the city's infrastructure not recoverable. And this is chilling. Mariupol officials that say Russian forces have started operating mobile crematorium to dispose the bodies. I heard those stories as well. I need to tell you that CNN is unable to verify that claim, but it is being told in multiple places. And it tells you why the mayor is comparing his city to a Nazi concentration camp, calling it, and I quote here, "a new Auschwitz."
Horrifying language. But this is a city that was once the home to more than 400,000 people. We have no idea what's happened to many of those people.
The U.S. responding to the atrocities by Vladimir Putin's forces by slapping new sanctions on his daughters and on two of Russia's largest banks. President Joe Biden saying that the sanctions will wipe out 15 years of Russia's economic gains, but warning the fight is far from over.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Today, Kyiv still stands, and that government still presides. This fight is far from over.
BIDEN: Here's the point. This war can continue for a long time, but the United States will continue to stand with Ukraine, the Ukrainian people in the fight for freedom.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: And we have some breaking news to tell you about tonight. Former President Obama speaking out on Putin's invasion of Ukraine saying it is a reminder not to take democracy or the rule of law for granted.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I think it is also fair to say that it is a bracing reminder for democracies that have gotten -- that had gotten flabby and confused and feckless around the stakes of things that we tended to take for granted.
UNKNOWN: Our democracy?
OBAMA: Yes, rule of law. Freedom of press and conscience, independent judiciaries, making elections work in ways that are fair and free.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Straight now to CNN's senior international correspondent Frederik Pleitgen live for us in Kyiv. Fred, hello to you.
Tonight, Russian forces fully withdrawn from the area surrounding Kyiv. And the Ukrainian officials are saying major fighting is underway in the eastern part of the country. What's the latest?
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Don, that's how we can see the focus of the Russians that Vladimir Putin is certainly shifting. As you recall, at the beginning the U.S. believed and the Ukrainians believed as well that Kyiv was the main prize as they put it for the Russian army. Well, they got beat pretty badly here around the Kyiv area and also further up in Chernihiv. They've now withdrawn all those forces.
Quite interesting because I was actually able to speak to the mayor of Chernihiv earlier today. It was the first time he was able to leave that city. And he also confirmed that there are no more Russian forces up in that region near the Belarusian border.
However, more Russians now moving down to that region -- to the east of the country near Donbas, and there is indeed more fighting going on that's close to a town called Izyum. And from there the Russians seem to be trying to move down to another small town called Slovyansk.
And that's a really an important one, because that's one where there's a lot of international experts who believe that if the Ukrainians can hold that town, they're going to make it a lot more difficult for the Russians to advance in that area.
The Russians need to try and take that town, to try and encircle some Ukrainian forces who are down there. But the bottom line is, Don, that this fighting in this war is shifting and it's shifting further towards the east. The Russians have already started some attacks, for instance, on Kharkiv as well where the mayor there was saying about 27 rocket and artillery attacks were happening in the greater region of Kharkiv, and certainly the belief here is among the Ukrainians, among the U.S. and its allies that that's going to escalate. Right?
The next days, the next weeks as the Russians sort of move some of those forces from the Kyiv area down to the southeast of Ukraine and of course the southwest of Russia. Don?
LEMON: Fred, we are getting these horrifying reports out of Mariupol in southern Ukraine where the city's mayor says that 40 percent of the infrastructure has been destroyed beyond recovery. I just mentioned what the mayor said of that town. He said, you know, comparing it -- he compared it to Auschwitz. He said it's the new Auschwitz. What more do we know?
PLEITGEN: Yes, he compared it to Auschwitz precisely because of the pictures that we're seeing on our screen right now with just those absolutely destroyed buildings. And I think the reason why he made that reference is because essentially the people there in Mariupol are locked in. It's under siege by the Russians. People can't get out, and every day people are dying.
And so far, the mayor of Mariupol says that around 5,000 people have been killed in that town. That's a huge number. A lot of children also among those who were killed as well. And I think one of the things that he also said, he said 40 percent of the structures there, as you said, have been destroyed beyond repair.
However, 90 percent of the infrastructure in that town apparently has been damaged. So, a lot of damage, but what's even worse is that the people continue to suffer on a large scale. Again, locked up in that town, surrounded by Russian forces, no water, no heat, no electricity, and certainly also very little still left in the way of food that is a modern-day siege.
And that's certainly why you hear the strong words coming from the mayor of Mariupol. He also was calling on further sanctions against Russia. But the bottom line is the U.S. obviously says that aid needs to get into those towns and people need to get evacuated, Don.
LEMON: Frederik Pleitgen, thank you for reporting once again this evening. Be safe. We'll see you soon.
Now I want to bring in CNN military analyst and retired lieutenant generally Mark Hertling. General, hi. Wow. It's -- I mean, it's just every day the reports just get worse and worse and worse. The U.S. says Russian forces have completely withdrawn from around Kyiv, but the head of NATO says that he has seen, quote, "no indication that Putin has given up on controlling the whole country." What can we expect do you think in the coming weeks here?
MARK HERTLING, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: I think we're going to see an attempt in the east, Don. That's what everyone is saying, that Russia has refocused their efforts on the eastern fight in the Donbas, excuse me, with the two provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk. But it could only be Russia's attempted first step. They may want to go further.
But truthfully, I'm not sure they're going to have much success in the Donbas as well. There's going to be some very hard fighting there. Your reporters Fred Pleitgen has been doing some excellent work in terms of reporting the realities on the ground and naming the cities.
When you take a look at the map you just popped up, the town he just talked about Izyum and then further down, a town that's not on your map, Slovyansk and then to (Inaudible) is behind its to east -- excuse me -- to the west of the Ukrainian forces that have been fighting in the Donbas region. So it is behind their position. And to give the effect of that, if the Russians can get down further
south in those two cities and start a fight to the north from Mariupol, they will attempt to surround Ukrainian forces that have been fighting in this region for the last eight years. It will be a difficult fight.
One of the things that's not shown on your map, though, when you take a look at the city of Izyum, it is a very, it's a relatively small city, a population of about 45,000 people. But it has roads to the north and south, to the east and west, and the Donetsk River, which is a pretty wide river in this area, runs right through the town.
So, if you control that town, if you control the bridges and the roads, you can go in any direction. And that's critically important from a military perspective when you're talking about the type of envelopment moves that the Russians are attempting to execute against Ukrainian forces that are stationary in the Donbas.
LEMON: Ukraine is now claiming, General, that more than 18,000 Russian soldiers have been killed. We can't confirm that number, but we have the battlefield -- we've seen the battlefield littered with and destroyed Russian tanks and armored vehicles. Does Russia have a capability to launch another major offensive or do they have to go back and regroup in order to it? Do they even have the capability?
HERTLING: Yes, I'll say first, Don, that I think those numbers are light. I think Russia has suffered more casualties than that. I mean, I think they're being a little bit conservative in those numbers, and that's an unbelievable amount, 18,500 is what the Ukrainian minister of defense minister said.
When you talk about rejuvenating or what the military term is regenerating a force from those forces that have fought in Kyiv and Kharkiv that have been pulled out, the reason those cities and north of those cities are empty now is because they took what's called the remnants of those units back and attempting to regroup with them.
I personally don't think they have the combat power to reinsert them into the Donbas and use them for fighting forces. I also don't think they have the morale or the training to go through a difficult regeneration process.
When you're talking about regeneration, you're not just replacing personnel that have been lost, the fighting forces, which is a huge percentage of the Russian force that's been lost north of Kyiv. You're also talking about regenerating the equipment. Combat equipment takes a beating in this kind of combat.
So even those elements, the tanks and the BMPs and the artillery pieces that have survived are going to be in terrible shape. And that would have been for a good army. Russia is not a good army. They don't have the sergeants as we've talked about in the past, they don't have the advisers that will -- that will show how to repair those vehicles and get them back on the road.
So, you're going to have a force that has really been mauled, attempting to reinforce some of those elements that are the Russian forces out in the Donbas region. So yes, they're going to continue the fight with what they have, the units that have not been mauled, but it's, in my view it's going to be very difficult, first of all, to generate the combat power.
But secondly, they still don't have the leadership. They have not -- you can't turn that on a dime. I mean, they came into this fight with bad junior leaders, bad senior leaders, very little logistics, horrible command and control. So, you're going to see, I think, more of the same as Russia attempts to execute these very complex envelopment movements in the Donbas.
LEMON: General, thank you so much. We'll see you soon. I appreciate you appearing.
HERTLING: Welcome back, Don.
LEMON: Thank you very much. I really appreciate that. And thanks for your help while I was there. Thank you. I relied on the general a lot for instruction and for guidance and he was very helpful.
CNN getting a new look at the tragedy in the Ukrainian town of Borodyanka. Our Christiane Amanpour went there and witnessed the horrors of Russia's war on Ukraine civilians firsthand.
LEMON: The Russian withdrawal from Towns around Kyiv showing the world the horrific scope of the barbarianism of Russia's war on Ukraine.
CNN's Christiane Amanpour traveled to Borodyanka where the grim telling of the dead is only the beginning.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to Sasha's restaurant, it says, only Sasha no more. Nor any of the apartments in this block above. A dining table and chairs a jacket blowing in the wind still intact. The only visible reminders of the families who lived here.
The crows caw above the city of Borodyanka, perhaps they sense the death here. It is clear that the heavy destruction is mostly along the main street. It appears the Russian armored columns simply opened up with heavy machine guns and artillery as they rumbled through town.
Brick by brick, today the digging starts, trying to find civilians or their bodies buried beneath the rubble when even their basement shelters were turned into graveyards. On this corner, they're looking for at least four missing from this block alone, says Victoria Ruban (Ph), who's with the rescue team.
"We have never seen anything like this, it is very difficult for us," she says, "and not only for us, but for the residents of Borodyanka. It is a great tragedy because of an ill-disciplined force with a license to kill."
So, this is Vladimir Putin's idea of liberating a fraternal brotherly nation. So, either he's doing all this because he loves Ukrainians, or, as many believe, because he's motivated by a rising hatred, an angry at their westward loving democracy, at their resistance, and at their refusal to come under Russian control.
And as an afterthought, a bullet to the head of Ukraine's cultural hero, the great poet Taras Shevchenko. Not even statues are immune. Amid all this destruction, the summary executions, the Ukrainian flag flies proudly in the central square.
For good measure, these Ukrainian soldiers are pulling out a captured Russian tank that was dug in. They say they'll use this and anything else the invaders have left behind to fight them in the villages, in the towns, in the fields, and all the way back to the Russian border.
Christiane Amanpour, CNN, Borodyanka.
LEMON: The Justice Department announcing criminal charges against an Oligarch, the first since Vladimir Putin's unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. Is it a warning to the rest of Russia's elite?
LEMON: The Justice Department unveiling the first criminal charges against an oligarch since Russia invaded Ukraine. The indictment charges that Konstantin Malofeev secretly tried to acquire and run pro-Putin media outlets across Europe. Plus, the Biden administration sanctioning two of Russia's -- Russian President Vladimir Putin's daughters.
So, joining me now is Brooke Harrington, an offshore banking expert and professor of sociology at Dartmouth. We're happy to have you here, professor. Thank you so much. So --
BROOKE HARRINGTON, PROFESSOR OF SOCIOLOGY AT DARTMOUTH COLLEGE: Thank you.
LEMON: The oligarch -- this oligarch is accused of evading sanctions. The FBI says he continues to run a pro-Putin propaganda network and that he describes Russia's invasion of Ukraine as a holy war. How significant are these charges?
HARRINGTON: Very. I mean, he's a good case of what these sanctions are intended to stop in the first place. So, you know, a lot of media focus has been on the seizures of yachts and luxury properties, but the real story is cutting off the ability of these Russian oligarchs who function like informal ambassadors for the Russian state.
Cutting off their ability to influence and infiltrate western institutions in politics and media and the economy and on education.
LEMON: How else what other oligarchs trying to skirt sanctions? You said this isn't just about yachts. How else will they try to skirt sanctions.
HARRINGTON: There are many ways. Most of them involve the use of offshore accounts. It seems like Malofeev did that, which has shell companies. But they also put assets into the names of their proxies who are generally either close family members or childhood friends.
So, we knew from the paradise papers and the Panama papers that Putin himself has done this via his childhood friend, the classical cellist, Sergei Roldugin who was mysteriously discovered to have $2 billion worth of offshore assets, which is not unusual for a classical musician.
LEMON: Wow. I just want to read part of your piece. I'm looking at this. You write, this is for The Atlantic. And you write about the effect of sanctions. Right? And you say, what is an oligarch without ostentation? For many Russian elites, the answer is apparently nothing. The sanctions threaten oligarchs with a kind of annihilation similar to the phenomenon of -- phenomenon that sociologists describe as social death.
Some people are skeptical about this working, but you think it just might? Why is that?
HARRINGTON: Well, for one thing, we know that Putin himself has decided to give this his personal attention. And not just this. He's gone on television complaining about the sanctions. You know the old saying a hit dog will holler.
HARRINGTON: Well, he's evidently a hit dog, and so are many of the oligarchs who are considered his right-hand men. Within days of the sanctions being announced, they were out on social media making public statements saying, jeez, maybe this invasion of Ukraine isn't such a great idea after all. Which sounds pretty mild to westerners, but for a Russian oligarch to cross Putin publicly in that way is -- it's not unprecedented, but the last guy who tried it ended up with about 10 years in prison and losing billions in his personal wealth.
LEMON: Right on. Two of Putin's adult daughters have now been sanctioned by the U.S. But you say that this move actually targets Putin's personal wealth. Explain how.
HARRINGTON: Well, as I mentioned in the case of Sergei Roldugin and what we learned about him from the Panama and the Paradise papers, people like Putin and other oligarchs, like mafia bosses, they're smart, they know that the law may come for them, for them at some point and they don't want their assets to be seized.
So, rather than hold their assets in their own names, they hold them in the names of people they can trust. So, in Putin's case, that would probably include his daughters. So I assume that the sanctions directed at them, just like the sanctions addressed toward the children of like, Sergey Lavrov and other oligarchs are intended to be a direct hit of those men's personal wealth.
LEMON: There's a psychological factor with these sanctions too. How does sanctioning his own daughters affect him?
HARRINGTON: So, Putin is a man who has presented himself as a strong man. I think you've spoken to the historian Ruth Ben-Ghiat and she's written a whole book about this. And to be a strong man, especially one who's maintained an iron grip on the country for 20 odd years like Putin has, you have to project an image of complete invulnerability and an iron grip on all of your lieutenants.
So, what the sanctions have done in general is split Putin's lieutenants from him. For example, by baiting the oligarchs into making public statements against the invasion of Ukraine. But now that they're targeting his daughters, that's an even more personal attack on his strongman status. Because here's a guy who presents himself as the father and protector of the nation, and he's being publicly shown in this humiliating position of not even protecting his own daughters.
LEMON: The U.S. has already sanctioned more than 140 oligarchs and their family members and over 400 Russian government officials. Is there still a need for even more sanctions?
HARRINGTON: I think so. And I think that the reason is that they're working. They're working in, as I mentioned, chipping away at Putin's image of being a strongman. And that's not just entertainment for us in the west. That's a message to people in Russia who could actually bring him down.
It's basically the governments of the United States, the U.K., Switzerland, the E.U., and smaller tax havens like Monaco pulling back the (Inaudible) secrecy that's protected a guy who's essentially the wizard of oz. He comes off all big and strong and blustery, but behind that curtain he's just a fragile, vulnerable old man, and that's intended to put the idea in the heads of Russians who could really do something about it, hey, this guy is not invincible.
LEMON: Professor, thank you so much. We appreciate you joining us. Be well.
HARRINGTON: Thank you.
LEMON: Poland's president saying it is hard to deny Russian forces are committing genocide. He believes Putin's goal is to extinguish the Ukrainian nation and he's horrified his country could be next. CNN's exclusive interview is next.
LEMON: The atrocities of the war in Ukraine are right at NATO's doorstep, and Poland is one of the most critical NATO countries in trying to counter Russia. That's why President Biden visited a few weeks back. Poland has taken in more than two million refugees and its president is vowing to do all he can to help Ukrainians. And while he says Putin needs to be stopped, he's also mindful that Poland was a victim of Soviet aggression in the past.
Tonight, CNN's Dana Bash has an exclusive sit-down interview with Poland's leader Andrzej Duda.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: You have Soviet-era tanks here in Poland, you have Soviet-era airplanes, MiG-29s. Why haven't you been able to work with NATO to get those to Ukraine?
ANDRZEJ DUDA, PRESIDENT OF POLAND (through translator): Madam, I'm smiling because weapons, weapons, and more weapons, this is what Ukrainians need. We have to be clear, the free world, the North Atlantic Alliance also asked that Poles did not expect that Ukrainians, our neighbors would be so decisive and so courageous, exceptionally courageous, and that they will defend their country in this way.
More than one million Ukrainians before the outbreak of the war were in Poland. They had been living here and working here. Of course, they visited their families in Ukraine, but they came back. Here is where they made money in Poland. The vast majority of those men went to Ukraine to fight.
BASH: Can NATO do more to help you help them?
DUDA (through translator): I cannot say everything, Madam, here in this open interview because, well, there are also secrets, NATO secrets. There are also secrets between Poland and the U.S. However, please believe me, I talked to President Joe Biden about this. We consulted and the U.S. administration and the White House, and we are in a close contact with the U.S. administration all the time. So, there is help for Ukraine, it is being provided, it comes from the United States. It is also coming from other places. This was also provided from allies. We tried to help Ukraine as much as we can.
BASH: President Biden was here last month. You said, quote, "Polish- American relations are flourishing." But in 2020 you probably remember when Joe Biden was a candidate, he lumped Poland in with Belarus and Hungary warning about, quote, "the rise of totalitarian regimes in the world." You did wait about a month to congratulate Joe Biden on his win in 2020. But is all of that tension behind you now?
DUDA (through translator): Madam, I am the President of Poland, the country in the heart of Europe, and a country which is very proud of this. But at the same time, our country experienced suffering, war, and occupation many times in its history. Unfortunately, our country has got very bad experiences with our neighbor, with Russia.
The United States is our great ally. The United States is the large majority the guarantor of our security as the biggest NATO country. That's why I mentioned those very important words of Joe Biden, which is said (Inaudible) about article 5 and collective defense.
It is my duty as the President of Poland to do everything I can in order to guarantee the best possible relations with the United States and also with the President of the United States, and I'm delighted, I'm delighted that the president came to Poland. I'm delighted that he gave his speech in a very important place to us, at the Royal Castle in Warsaw.
This is the symbol of the destruction of Poland during the Second World War. Warsaw was all in ruins, it was bombarded and destroyed by the Germans with the permission of Stalin. So we remember vividly in Poland what it means to be enslaved, what it means to be destroyed, what it means to have families murdered and people killed.
The friendship with the United States, this military alliance is of key importance to us. The fact that today we have on our territory the soldiers of the 82nd American Airborne division, extremely experienced in combat, this is an elite unit. This is hugely important to us from the perspective of our security. And I'm really delighted that my cooperation that I have today with the president of the United States is so vivid, it's so good, so fruitful.
BASH: And you personally it sounds like you have a good relationship with President Biden. On that, how do you assess his leadership during this crisis?
DUDA (through translator): I'm delighted that the position of the United States and the United Kingdom is so clear cut. Among others, after the meeting with Joe Biden and after my telephone conversation with Prime Minister Boris Johnson, I'm going to London tomorrow in order to personally talk to Prime Minister Johnson about all these issues because I have a feeling to a certain extent, we are this triangle which supports Ukraine in the strongest way, I think.
BASH: In recent years, Poland has been in trouble with the E.U. for back sliding on democracy. The educational branch, media, civil rights. How do you respond to critics around Europe and also in the U.S. who say your party was pulling Poland away from democracy and towards authoritarianism?
DUDA (through translator): Madam, different voices are heard at different opportunities in Poland. Of course, we also have the opposition, which probably is going to criticize different things till the end of my term, because this is the nature of the opposition. Opposition always criticizes.
Also, in the U.S. the last election, it was also presidential elections were challenged, different decisions are challenged. So please answer me the question, do you believe that if really certain principles were undermined in Poland, if civil rights, certain freedoms were undermined such as media freedom, the freedom of speech, other civil liberties, do you believe that with 70 percent turnout at elections I would have been elected two years ago for the second time as the president of Poland? Poland is intelligent and wise. They know what they're doing. They
know what a country looks like. They know that it is developing, and they know they feel safe here. The fact that I was elected for the second time to the office of the president, second time in a row, we had 70 percent turnout and people voted for me. That was more than 50 percent of the citizens. This is proof that things were going in the right direction in Poland.
BASH: Let me ask you this way. Does Russia's invasion of Ukraine, a vibrant democracy right next door, does it put more of a -- does kit put more of a focus on the importance of democracy here and all of the rights that democracies should entail?
DUDA (through translator): Of course. The fact that it is extremely important that democracy lasts. What happens when there is no democracy? Well, this is best visible if you look at Russia and what's happening there, where there is no democracy, simply said.
Fortunately, we have democracy across all the countries of Central Europe starting from the Baltic states, starting from Estonia and also going up higher, Finland, through Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria. All these countries have got democratic systems where elections are held everywhere. Those elections are fair in all of those countries. They are not challenged in any of those countries and the governments implement the will of the citizens when they are elected.
This is the most natural element of democracy to me. As a result of elections, elections which are -- well, this is the essence of democracy, the most important institution. As a result of elections, representatives are being elected to parliament, or the president is elected, and they implement their electoral commitments, they implemented the policy which was expected by the citizens who elected them. This is a natural action of the authorities. This is what I try to do.
BASH: Let me ask you about the issue of anti-Semitism historically in Poland and how it may relate to what the Polish are doing to for Ukrainian people now.
Poland has very painful memories from World War II. Your country has its own history even before that, pogroms against Jews, concentration camps during World War II banishing Jews in 1968. Do you think that part of the incredible generosity that Pols are showing right now to Ukrainian refugees is somehow a way to make up for some of those wrongs?
DUDA (through translator): We know what death means. We know what the extinction means. And the pictures from Bucha, I'm sure they made a shocking impression on the Pols because they recall the most horrible things, what elderly Pols remember from the Second World War, what Nazi Germany was doing here in territory of Poland against our neighbors, against the Jews, who had been living in our country together with us for hundreds of years, for almost 1,000 years. Because that was the length of the Jewish culture in Poland. So, these
cultures were developing side by side, living together on this land. They were living next to each other. So, our coexistence here with the Jews here in the territory of Poland is many centuries long.
BASH: Will you ever sleep well? Will you sleep soundly while Vladimir Putin is in office? Can you do that?
DUDA (through translator): I don't sleep soundly, Madam, because I know what is happening behind the border. We -- I know what is happening in Ukraine. I know what is happening with the people I see, children. I was on a plane recently going to Italy. We had children on board. We transferred them to Bambino Gesu Hospital. They were traumatized and ill children. Their mothers were terrified. I know what is happening with those people.
Can a leader of a neighboring country sleep well in such a situation? It is very difficult. And indeed, there is a high tension, there is a big stress that I'm under. But precisely because of this, I believe I should be doing this, I should do everything I can in order to help in this situation. I should do whatever I can to make sure that Ukraine defends itself. I should do everything I can to stop Putin.
Today, this is in the interest of Ukraine, but this is also in the interest of my country, of Poland of my compatriots. It is also in the interest of the entire Central Europe which in the past it was under the Soviet sphere of influence, under a Soviet captivity because that is a fact. And which ones to be free and democratic, which ones to have a normal life and to develop in a normal way.
BASH: You said you won't sleep soundly until things are calm in Ukraine, which is understandable. But if and when that happened and Vladimir Putin is still in power and that happens, is that OK with you?
DUDA (through translator): I hope that nobody in the international community after what we have seen in Ukraine will never again talk to Vladimir Putin. I hope that nobody is going to consider him as a decent and fair leader or politician simply.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Dana, fascinating interview. Dana joins me now by the way from Poland, the capital of Warsaw. It's good to see you, Dana. President Duda is worried that Poland could --
BASH: You, too.
LEMON: -- be next in Putin's path. What else did he tell you about those concerns?
BASH: That in fact he said that nobody has any doubt that Poland is potentially threatened by Russian aggression. I mean, the Pols believe that before what the Russians have done and are doing as we speak in Ukraine. And they certainly believe but even more now the very big difference of course between Ukraine and Poland is that Poland is a NATO member country.
And you heard President Duda tell me that he fundamentally and fully believes President Biden and other NATO member countries when they say that if any NATO -- the article 5, which means that if any NATO country is attacked, all countries come to the defense that that will absolutely be invoked in the case of Poland.
One thing that we don't know, Don, is what that means. Does that mean a cyberattack? Does that mean if God forbid there are chemical weapons or nuclear weapons used across the border and there's fallout that comes here in Poland, will that justify article 5 in NATO? Those are so many unanswered questions because it's unchartered territory.
LEMON: You really pushed President Duda on the state of democracy in his own country, media crackdown, civil rights being targeted. Is this war a wake-up call for the importance of democracy?
BASH: It seems to be in some ways. What it has done clearly is galvanized the country in a way and the leadership of the country in a way that not unlike other countries like America where there has been a focus on cultural issues because of the war across the border there is a complete focus on security, national security in Poland.
And it's interesting with President Duda, he is part of a party that is ruling here that has been accused, again, as you heard in the interview, even by then candidate Joe Biden of backsliding on democracy.
This president, who's in his sixth year, coming up in the middle of his second and final term, he doesn't have a lot of power but one thing he does have is the veto pen, and he used it in a way that surprised a lot of people, to veto a piece of legislation just the end of last year that would have banned a free media from coming here, an all-news media, and it would have been a unique situation. And he decided to use that pen.
So, he has broken a bit with other members of his party, but I think that the answer to that question about whether or not what's going on with Russia and Ukraine will really fundamentally in the long term turn the democratic focus back around here in Poland, that is yet to be seen.
LEMON: You know, millions have fled into Poland to escape the war. Does the president have a long-term plan to take care of all these refugees?
BASH: He doesn't, Don. He really doesn't. And it's because it has happened so fast. And you know, you were here in the region. You saw the -- all of the people, the millions of people who were leaving Ukraine coming across the border here to Poland, 2.5 million people.
And so, it has happened in a way that the Pols have said, you know, come with open arms. There are signs all over in Ukrainian that say here you will be safe because they understand that, I think like 95 percent of the people coming here are women and children and they're leaving their husbands, their brothers, their fathers, who have to stay in Ukraine to fight.
The short-term answer is that they're staying in private houses. They are being helped. I was at a refugee center this morning. Or I guess yesterday morning Poland time. And you see that there is formula set out, that there are -- that there are strollers set out.
There was children who are doing remote learning still back in Ukraine, and there are pencils and pens and crayons. So those things are being provided. The question is if this war does last for a lot longer, how are the Ukrainians who are here going to be fully integrated in a much more permanent way into society here. And there is no answer to that yet by the government --
BASH: -- on a national level or even in cities like here in Warsaw.
LEMON: Yes. And dana, you're right about the time. What is it, 4.52 there? When I was there, I felt like I'd live two days in one.
LEMON: This is the time I was doing my show, and then I'd have to wake up and do the afternoons and what have you. But it was all for a very good cause.
LEMON: And great work. Great interview, Dana. Get some rest. Thank you so much.
BASH: Thanks. You too.
LEMON: Thank you.
BASH: Thanks, Don.
LEMON: Fireworks on Capitol Hill as oil executives get grilled on skyrocketing gas prices. One lawmaker accusing them of ripping off the American people.
LEMON: Fireworks on Capitol Hill as lawmakers grill oil company CEOs on why American drivers are not getting any relief from skyrocketing gas prices. The executives blame high prices on inflation, a shortage of workers, and constraints on supplies and equipment.
But lawmakers are pointing fingers at the CEOs, accusing them of putting profits ahead of the needs of American consumers, devoting $45 billion in share buybacks plus another 40 billion in dividends.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNKNOWN: That's a lot of money to shareholders, but it's coming at the expense of the American people who need you to dramatically increase production, not shareholder wealth. For the American people to have relief from high gas prices your companies need to do their part and increase production to meet demand.
REP. RAUL RUIZ (D-CA): While American families are struggling with high gas prices, you and your big oil corporations are making record profits, choosing to keep supply low. During this Russian war you are ripping the American people off, and it must end. Gas prices need to go down. And while the rest of America is trying to make this happen you all are trying to increase your record profits.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: And Congressman Ruiz also saying that gas prices in America cannot continue to be dependent on the whims of autocrats like Putin, who can use oil as a weapon against us.
It is the top of the hour. This is Don Lemon Tonight.
A senior U.S. defense official now saying that the Pentagon believes Russian forces have completely withdrawn from areas near Kyiv and Chernihiv and are increasing their strikes in Kharkiv and Luhansk and eastern Ukraine.
And with the Russian retreat in the Kyiv region Ukrainians are finding more sense -- more scenes of atrocities and complete destruction in Borodyanka and Bucha.
U.S. officials say they believe they'll be able to identify the Russian units that carried out the atrocities.