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Don Lemon Tonight

Atrocities In Borodianka Worse Than Ukraine; COVID Cases After Gridiron Dinner; Is Ukraine Getting What They Need To Fight Russia?; Ukrainian Civilians Fight Back Against Russia; Ukrainian Parliament Member Travels To D.C. And Canada To Garner Support For Ukraine; Tiger Woods Returns To Masters. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired April 07, 2022 - 23:00   ET




DON LEMON, CNN HOST (on camera): This is DON LEMON TONIGHT. As heavy fighting and Russian bombardment intensify in Eastern Ukraine, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy warning that the atrocities in Borodianka near Kyiv are much worse than in Bucha. Both towns leveled by Russian forces before they retreated. At least 26 bodies found today, under the rubble of two houses in Borodianka.

Ukraine's foreign minister saying the heaviest fighting is now taking place in the Donbas region in the east. He is warning it will be reminiscent of the battles of World War II. And the commander saying Russian forces are trying to wipe the city of Mariupol off the face of the earth as President Zelenskyy says this.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, PRESIDENT OF UKRAINE (through translator): And what will happen when the world learns the whole truth about what the Russian military did in Mariupol? There, on almost every street, is what the world saw in Bucha and other towns in the Kyiv region after the withdrawal of Russian troops. The same cruelty, the same heinous crimes.


LEMON (on camera): CNN's John Vause is live for us in Lviv tonight. John, hello to you. President Zelenskyy warning tonight the town of Borodianka is even worse than the horrors we see in Bucha. What are you learning?

JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: Well, the reason for that, Don, is that because the destruction in Borodianka compared to Bucha is so much greater than what we have seen in these other areas where the Russian troops have withdrawn from.

One of the areas of greatest concern is the stream (ph) of apartment buildings which have been completely destroyed, some have actually been reduced to rubble, these buildings have totally collapsed. The concern is that this could only have happened, this level of destruction could have only happened by an air strike or some kind of ballistic missile.

As these search teams go out, they're looking for bodies, and they are finding bodies. Right now, in just two homes, the debris of two homes, they pulled 26 bodies of people from under that debris. And officials there -- in this region say that basically there are now still hundreds of residents of Borodianka who are listed as missing.

But what is interesting -- there is one final point here, Don -- is that Ukrainian officials say they have the names, they know the names of the Russian officers who were in command of these military units responsible for the destruction in Borodianka.

LEMON: Also tonight, CNN has geolocated, John, this video from around Kyiv that appears to show Ukrainian forces executing a wounded Russian soldier, the latest. And how are Ukrainian officials responding to this? Are they even responding to it?

VAUSE: Well, they are, but they're not. They're very not committal. What we see on this video is soldiers with Ukrainian patches on their uniforms in the blue arm bands. It appears to be after a firefight.

There are four Russian soldiers who are on the pavement. Three have head wounds. A fourth appears to have blood pooling around his body, and he's gasping for air. And then a voice is heard in Russian, saying, he's still alive, he's still breathing. At that point, one of the Ukrainian soldiers, who appears to be a Ukrainian soldier, shoots the body three times, two quick rounds and then a third.


So, the Ukrainian officials are saying, listen, we haven't seen this video, we don't know if it's true, we'll investigate to find out what happened. If it is, in fact, what happened, if it's true as it appears to be, they'll take the appropriate course of action.

It was interesting, the Ukrainian foreign minister, who is in NATO, meeting with NATO in Brussels on Thursday, he did add that if this is as it appears to be, if this was, in fact, Ukrainian soldiers executing Russian soldiers, he said it would likely a one-off, and the result of these Ukrainian soldiers reacting to the atrocities in places like Bucha.

LEMON (on camera): All right. John Vause, we will see you at the top of the hour. Thank you, sir.

I want to turn now to the key port city of Mykolaiv that has been under intense shelling from the Russians for weeks now.

CNN's Ben Wedeman is on the ground.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This has become Mykolaiv's daily routine: Picking up the pieces, sweeping away the wreckage from Russian missile attacks. Random shelling throughout the city with what appeared to be cluster munitions. Glass shards and shrapnel tore into Marina. As she lies in a hospital, her thoughts are with her teenage daughter, also injured, now at a children's hospital.

My daughter and I were caught between two bombs, she recalls. It is a miracle we are still alive. It was terrifying.

The hospital where Marina is recovering was hit in the morning. Dirt covers the blood from one of the injured. Closed-circuit television video from the city's cancer hospital captures the moment it was struck.

Earlier this week, a missile barrage killed nine people and wounded more than 40 at this market.

(On camera): We were able to count 23 impact points in a radius of just 100 meters. And each one of these incoming rounds sprays shrapnel in every direction.

(Voice-over): Danilo was working in this store and rushed outside when he heard the blast. Over there, a woman was screaming, help me. Her leg was shattered, he says. Behind the store, two people were killed. Dried blood and flowers marked the spot where people died.

Last week, a bomb struck the regional governor's office, killing 36 people.

Every day in Mykolaiv, this relentless bombardment shatters any semblance of normal life.

Mid-afternoon, people lineup to escape the danger. This bus, bound for Poland. Victoria cradles her one-year-old daughter, Ivanna (ph). Her husband stays behind. Soon, we will be back home, says Victoria. Everything will be all right. How soon that will be, nobody knows.

(On camera): The mayor of Mykolaiv tells us this Russian missile strikes serve no military purpose whatsoever. He says the purpose is to terrify the population and to punish a city that stopped Russian forces in their tracks. Don?


LEMON (on camera): Ben Wedeman, thank you so much for that.

Now, to Ukraine's foreign minister pleading with the west for more help.


DMYTRO KULEBA, UKRAINIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: Either you help us now, and I am speaking about days, not weeks, or your help will come too late. And many people will die. Many civilians will lose their homes. Many villages will be destroyed.


LEMON (on camera): Former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine William Taylor, you can see him on your screen, thank you for joining, appreciate it.

Ambassador, Ukraine's foreign minister pleading for help, and fast, he says. He is warning it is at a critical point right now in this fight. If they don't get for help from the west, will they be able to defend the Donbas?

WILLIAM TAYLOR, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO UKRAINE: Don, that is the key. The Donbas is going to be the critical battle. And it is a race. The Russian military is not in good shape, as you've been reporting. It got beaten up around Kyiv, north of Kyiv. It got stopped, sent back into Belarus and into Russia, to come back and head for Donbas, as you said.

So, that is going to be the critical battle there. The Russians are in bad shape, but they've got a lot of soldiers, although they are looking for more soldiers, so they must be short of them.

The Ukrainians, on the other hand, have been defending that area of Donbas for eight years. Eight years, they have been. Some of their best forces are there. They are fighting hard. They need weapons. They need ammunition. They probably need fuel. They need what we can provide. If we can provide it, Don, then they'll win. The Ukrainians will win. They will fight harder. They will fight more fiercely.


They are fighting for what they know, what they believe, what is real for them, which is their freedom. Indeed, their land, their homes, as you've been showing. So, they can win, but they need the help, they need the ammunition, they need the fuel.

LEMON: Russia's foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, is accusing Ukraine of changing its demands as talks continue. But, I mean, we don't know if the Russians are even offering anything in negotiations. Do you think there's still a clear chance for a diplomatic solution or do these -- do these things need to play out further on the battlefield?

TAYLOR: Don, I think they're going to play out further on the battlefield. I think the negotiations are not going to bear fruit until President Putin realizes that he's going lose, that he is losing on the battlefield. He has lost around Kyiv. He has been humiliated up around Kyiv. He's now focusing on Donbas. That, as we just said, that's the critical battle. If he loses there, then there will be likelihood of negotiations.

And then, the negotiations that have taken place so far will come -- will be useful. They will have explored some ideas, both sides. No one is locked in. It's disingenuous for Mr. Lavrov to say that the Ukrainians have changed their mind. There is nothing locked-in at all. They're exploring ideas. And they should explore ideas.

There is nothing for Mr. Lavrov to pocket and say, no, you can't go back. So, that's disingenuous. But, again, those negotiations are not going to bear fruit until Putin decides, realizes, accepts that he has lost on the battlefield, and then he will sit down.

LEMON (on camera): Fascinating moment happened on Sky News today with the Kremlin Spokesperson Dmitry Peskov. Here it is.


DMITRY PESKOV, KREMLIN PRESS SECRETARY: We have significant losses of troops and it's a huge tragedy for us.


LEMON (on camera): Is he admitting to significant losses of troops? I mean, how many deaths are we talking about here?

TAYLOR: The Ukrainians say -- and there's some reason to believe that the Russians have lost 15,000, 16,000, 18,000 troops. Don, this is more than the Soviet lost in Afghanistan if 10 years, and we're talking about six weeks here in this fight. So, whatever it is, for them to admit that they're losing a lot, significant losses, that's a demonstration of what we were just saying. That is the Ukrainians have inflicted grave losses on the Russians.

The Russians have taken a great beating. They are haggard, they are tired, they've been beaten, they need to be regrouped, they've not been well supplied.

So, if the Ukrainians can maintain the fight with our help, with our ammunition, with our weapons, and their fight and their grit, then the Ukrainians can win, Don. The Ukrainians can win.

LEMON: Ambassador Taylor, we appreciate having you on. We will see you soon. Thank you.

TAYLOR: Thank you, Don.

LEMON: So, we have some breaking news out of Washington to tell you about right now. There has been an outbreak of COVID cases after the elite Gridiron Club dinner. At least 37 people have tested positive since attending the event last weekend, including Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, Attorney General Merrick Garland, Vice President Kamala Harris' communications director, several members of Congress, and President Joe Biden's sister.

Senator Susan Collins of Maine also tested positive today after attending the Gridiron event. She was in the Senate chamber today casting her vote to confirm Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court. Everyone who attended had their vaccination status checked, but negative COVID tests were not required.

Senator Raphael Warnock of Georgia also tested positive tonight. It is unclear if he attended the Gridiron dinner, but he was at the Supreme Court confirmation vote today, maskless, near the vice president and other lawmakers.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also tested positive today. She wasn't at the Gridiron event, but was next to President Biden yesterday at a bill signing.

And just moments ago, we learned that Congressman Peter DeFazio of Oregon tested positive.

Luckily, we don't know of anyone experiencing serious symptoms right now. We will keep you updated as we get more information.

In Ukraine, anti-aircraft systems, suicide drones, more than 50 million rounds of ammunition. Just some of what the U.S. is committing to Ukraine. But are they getting what they need and will they get it in time?




LEMON: A long slog. That's what U.S. officials warn is coming in the next phase of Russia's war in Ukraine. And as Russian troops prepare for a broad assault in the east of the country, Ukraine's top diplomat warns there could be fighting not seen in Europe since the battles of World War II.

Joining me to discuss now, CNN military analyst and retired Air Force Colonel Cedric Leighton. Thank you, colonel. Appreciate you joining us this evening.

Fighting is heating up in the east with clashes around the towns of Izyum and Sloviansk. What makes these places so important?

CEDRIC LEIGHTON, CNN MILITARY ANALYST, RETIRED AIR FORCE COLONEL: Well, Don, let's take a look at that. Actually, let's go straight into the map here. This is, as you mentioned, Eastern Ukraine. Town of Izyum is right here. Town of Sloviansk is right here. What's important about these, Don, is that they are major road junctions.


In fact, the MO3 Highway goes from Kharkiv down through here and then back into the east. It connects this part of Ukraine with the east and into Russia. It goes all the way back to the Chinese border actually. And then the other part of this road goes west toward Western Europe.

So, if you capture this road and then another road junction this way, what that does is it gives you the area that you need in order to move your forces around either down to the south, toward the east to go this way into the back of the Ukrainian forces or this way to the west. So, that is why these are really important junctions.

There's one other factor here with these two towns. Izyum especially was the scene of a major battle in World War II. So, to tie in with what the Ukrainian foreign minister said, battles involving lots of tanks occurred right here in the early 1940s, 1942. A major battle. The Soviets lost over 277,000 men, killed or wounded in that battle.

LEMON: General Milley is saying that Ukraine has already received tens of thousands of anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons from the U.S. and NATO countries. We have spoken about how effective these stingers and javelins are. So, we know what they're getting. What do they need, though?

LEIGHTON: Well, that's actually a good question. They need more of the stingers and javelins, but they also need T-72 tanks. T-72 tanks, same types of tanks that the Russians are using, but they are highly effective.

The type of terrain that we're talking about, Don, these are great force-on-force vehicles because what they do is they will be able to counteract the Russians as they move into certain areas, and they can be used for maneuver warfare as well as other things.

Now, beyond that, we also need something called the Switchblade 600. We have seen this before. We have seen the Switchblade 300 version. And yesterday, we started showing the Switchblade 600.

This is a Kamikaze drone. It is so called Kamikaze drone but it does some really amazing things from a weapon standpoint. Not only does it go after these targets and hits them directly but it hits them on impact. It has an anti-armor warhead, encrypted communications, and GPS.

So, it actually can do these things in a secure way and it can also avoid hitting targets that are no-go targets, targets of civilians, for example. It can wave off --it has a wave off capability. So, it can do all of these kinds of things in a way that other systems can't do.

And then the other thing that the Ukrainians would certainly like, and they have talked about this, they're probably not getting this, but we're talking about the MiG-29 Fulcrum. This is the fighter jet that the Poles have.

It's an old Soviet jet, but it is one that is in the NATO inventory of Poland and it could be used to the -- and given to the Ukrainians because they know how to operate these kinds of weapons and it's got enough of a range that it could be very useful in an air-to-air capacity.

And then finally, you have the S-300. This is a mobile surface-to-air missile system that has a missile that has a heavy warhead. It has a range of 46 miles. What's most important about this is the fact that the altitude, 82,000 feet that it can reach, allows it to, in essence, close the air space.

What this does is it gives them a no-fly zone without calling it a no- fly zone and it would be highly effective if they got this. This is the kind of variant that is in Slovakia. That would be exactly what they would need at this point.

LEMON: That's fascinating. What they would need -- the question is, again, can they get all of that on time? Are they getting all of it when they need it?

LEIGHTON: That, I think, the answer is a partial yes. But for many of these systems, especially some of the more sophisticated systems like the MiG-29, you're not going to see those anywhere near the Ukrainian battle space any time soon.

LEMON: Fascinating. I learned so much from you, what you showed us about the weaponries. Again, just fascinating. Thank you, colonel. Appreciate it.

LEIGHTON: You bet, Don.

LEMON: Ukrainian civilians are fighting back against Russia, and in some cases, they're deciding the fight. CNN met a group of them. That story is next.




LEMON (on camera): This next story is just extraordinary. You got to see this. We have seen the way the Ukrainians, civilian, and military alike have taken the fight to the Russian invaders. But what happened in one town just north of Odessa when the Russians tried to take it over? Check this out.

CNN's Ed Lavandera reports.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The sign into town reads, Russian soldier, you will die here. The Russians didn't listen.

This is the story of how this small city of Voznesensk fought off the Russian invasion in early March.

Yevgeniy Velychko is the mayor of the city of 30,000 people. He took us to the bridge, at least, where the bridge used to be, where Ukrainian soldiers, volunteer fighters, and a fearlessly creative cast of civilians stared down the Russians.


(on camera): How close did the Russians get to taking over the city?

You can see over here on the other side of the bridge in the distance there, just on the other side of the bridge, a row of tires, and that is as close as the Russian tanks came.

(Voice-over): The mayor says the Ukrainians blew it up so that the Russians couldn't cross into the heart of the city. That sparked a two-day confrontation. But thousands of residents were trapped on the other side of the bridge, the only section of the city Russian forces invaded.

This man named Ivan (ph) lives in a house along the main road into town. Several homes and cars around him were scorched in the firefight. He hid inside with his elderly mother as the Russian tanks swarmed his neighborhood.

(On camera): He describes how terrifying it was. Several homes blown up around him, a constant barrage of gunfire. But he tells us he actually didn't see it, he had to hide inside his home, but just the sound of it was terrifying.

(Voice-over): Various cameras captured the images of the Russian military vehicles with the letter "Z" emblazoned on the side. The mayor says three columns of Russian soldiers moved into the city. One military official says the Russians invaded with at least 100 tanks and armored personnel carriers and as many as 500 soldiers.

(On camera): So, this is Ghost. He has asked that we not use his full name. And he is the head of a reconnaissance unit here in this town that was instrumental in fighting back the Russians. And this was the spot, this was the spot where you fought the Russians. He says he thinks that's a blood stain there. Wow. The remnants of a Russian meal.

GHOST, COMMANDER OF RECONNAISSANCE UNIT (through translator): When they were advancing towards the bridge, thanks to the Ukrainian military forces, the air assault brigade, territorial defense, and our recon squad, we fought them off. Here, we showered them with artillery and we destroyed them.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): The Ukrainians blew up multiple bridges in the city to keep the Russians from moving into this down that sits at a strategic crossroads in Southern Ukraine and kept Vladimir Putin's army from invading deeper into the country.

(On camera): In this spot just on the edge of the city, multiple Russian tanks were taken out here. We're actually standing in the ashes of one of those tanks. And there were at least two Russian soldiers that were killed in this very spot.

GHOST (through translator): We are strong. Our city is strong. Our spirit is strong. When the enemy came, everyone rose up from kids to the elderly.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): Hiding residents called in the locations of Russian soldiers. Others ran ammunition and supplies wherever it was needed.

(On camera): The Russians had more firepower, had more weapons than you guys had.

GHOST (through translator): They were powerful. They had tanks, they had APCs, a lot of wheeled vehicles. But we're stronger, smarter, and more tactical.

LAVANDERA (on camera): Are you worried that they're going to come back for revenge after you guys embarrassed them?

GHOST (through translator): No. It's them who should be afraid. They should know if they come here, they will remain here (INAUDIBLE). We already have refrigerators for their bodies and we can bring more.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): But the Russian soldiers weren't ready to face the grandmothers of (INAUDIBLE). In a small village on the edge of Voznesensk, 88-year-old Vira walked out armed with her canes and fired off an epic tirade of verbal artillery.

VIRA PARASENYK, RAKOVE RESIDENT (on-screen translation): I come out from the kitchen. And I tell him, sorry for the language, f-k your mother. Has your Putin gone mad, firing at kids? F-k, is he mad? He is a b-tch. He must die.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): They say they were chased out of their homes and robbed. But the women relish telling this story with laughter. I ask if they're worried the Russians will return to seek revenge. They tell me, they're not going anywhere.

(On camera): While the grandmothers of (INAUDIBLE) might be smiling and laughing, inside the city, there is a sense of dread about what is coming next. Many people fully expect to have to do this fight all over again. Don?


LEMON (on camera): Ed Lavandera, thank you so much.

A Ukrainian member of parliament who recently escaped from the outskirts of Kyiv paid a visit to the U.S. Congress, and then went to Canada to meet with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. She is now back in Ukraine. Her story is next.



LEMON: Tonight, Ukraine's president warning that Russian forces committed worse atrocities in Borodianka than they did in Bucha, and we're learning more about these atrocities now that Russian troops have left the Kyiv region.

I want to bring in now, Maria Ionova, a member of Ukraine's parliament who sheltered with her family for more two weeks in another suburb of Kyiv.


She also traveled last week to the U.S. and Canada, meeting with lawmakers to build support for Ukraine. We are so happy to have you. Thank you for joining us, Maria.

MARIA IONOVA, MEMBER, UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT: Thank you. Thank you for inviting.

LEMON: You're in Kyiv right now. Can you tell us how things are in the city now that Russian troops have retreated?

IONOVA: Thank you so much. Yes, I'm in Kyiv. They were pushed out and they were kicked out by our Ukrainian armed forces and our territorial defense. But, of course, as you know, the threats are still on the ground, and we still have civilians. And unfortunately, they are also expecting the very hard attacks on the south of our country and on the east.

LEMON: I want to put up some of the pictures that your family sent to us, you and your family sent to us. They show your family sheltering in a basement in the suburb of Kyiv. I understand that you were in that basement for two weeks. Tell us about that, please. Yes, no?

IONOVA: No, no, no. That's my family, my cousin, my aunt. We are a big family. We are a big family of 18 people. And they were really -- until the 15th of March, they were there. And they happily escaped. I know the car column was shot at also during our evacuation because, as you know, during that time, unfortunately, the green corridors were absolutely shelled by Russian troops.

But I would like to say that my family, my grandmother, she taught us. She -- you know, she experienced starvation in 1953 war. She also taught us to have (INAUDIBLE). I remember it from my childhood. My native town, (INAUDIBLE), has been battered down. You know, it's small towns which are very near each other.

You're right, Borodianka has an even worse situation than we saw in Bucha. Unfortunately, we expect, of course, that Mariupol is much worse. So, it's genocide of Ukrainian nation by Putin. And I can tell you that yesterday, decision that Russia was stopped from humanitarian council of human rights, it's not enough. It's not enough. I think that Russia also has to be kicked out from United Nations organization.

LEMON: Yeah. Your neighbors -- I understand your neighbors tell you that there were more than 30 Russian soldiers in your family home.


LEMON: The home that your grandparents built.


LEMON: Do you have any idea what happened to it?

IONOVA: Our neighbors and our relatives have already checked our house. And it's crushed. I mean, crushed, not the house, but inside. The windows, all the doors. Inside -- we have these heavy machines inside our yard. So, it's, like, you know, we have (INAUDIBLE) walls and roofs. And inside, everything is destroyed.

But people -- of course, now, the challenge, the risk is the mines in the houses of civilian people. And these mines are not only in children's toys, not only in basements. It's possible also to be in the yard, in the yard, for example, where we have trees, where we have some vegetables. Our armed forces checked all the roads. There's still a lot of work of demining our private houses and also people's yards.

LEMON: I want to hear about your trip because you -- last week, you traveled to here in the U.S., meeting with lawmakers on Capitol Hill. Also, went to Canada and met with Prime Minister Trudeau there. All to garner support for Ukraine. What were your goals for this trip? Do you feel that your delegation was successful?

IONOVA: First of all, of course, we appreciate all the support that we have got from America and from Canada. Telling the truth by my heart, we have met a lot of people who recognize us also. And, you know, this support from regular American people was amazing. That was for us really very, very touchful.

But, of course, we met in the Congress, on the Hill, in the Senate. We met in the State Department, a lot of meetings. And the only one humanitarian aid, what we need now, it is really weapon.


More weapon for Ukraine to defend and to unblock such towns as Mariupol, in Kharkiv, Izyum, Luhansk, Vinnytsia, Melitopol, the souls (ph) of Ukraine. We have to unblock such towns. That is why we need to defend our air. We need to have our air protection. We need to defend air. Also, control humanitarian corridors to save these people.

That is why we were asking for weapon, we were asking for sanctions, and financial support. As we see especially also today, you know -- yesterday, in Canada, in budget, we have seen $500 million for financial support and also $1 billion for credit line. So, it's a good result.

And regarding America, of course, sanctions. We are really looking forward for more sanctions. As you know, 333 banks, not all of them are switched off. And, of course, more personal sanctions, yes, to Putin's daughters. Also, Russian duma, all the military people who have confirmed that they are providing this genocide in our country, with our nation.

LEMON: Thank you, Maria. We appreciate you. You be safe, okay? We really appreciate you joining us. Thanks so much.

IONOVA: Thank you so much. Thank you so much. We will defeat Putin and we will win all together.

LEMON: Thank you. We'll be right back.




LEMON: Will it be the comeback story of the year? Tiger Woods teeing off this morning at the Masters, 14 months after the horrific car crash that shattered his right leg. Now, he is not only playing as CNN's Dianne Gallagher reports, he has a shot at winning.


UNKNOWN (voice-over): Tiger Woods. (APPLAUSE)

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A moment more than 14 months in the making.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): Tiger!

GALLAGHER (voice-over): Tiger Woods teeing off Thursday what could be his greatest comeback yet. The crowd roaring for Tiger throughout the first round of the 86th Masters tournament at Augusta National golf course. But it's his gait, not just his game, the world is watching. This time around, it's a Tiger Woods unlike any other.

TIGER WOODS, PRO GOLFER: It's been a tough, tough year. And lot of -- lot of stuff that I had to deal with and, you know, I don't wish on anyone, but, you know, here we are in Masters week.

GALLAGHER (voice-over): Exactly 25 years after slipping on his first green jacket and just over a year since his near-fatal car crash, Woods at one point thought he'd lose his right leg, which is now held together with a metal rod and plates. The 46-year-old called his year- long recovery frustrating as he relearned to walk, which he now does with a noticeable limp.

WOODS: I've had to endure pain before and, this -- this is different. Obviously, this is a lot more traumatic, what has transpired to my leg.

GALLAGHER (voice-over): The five-time Masters champ hasn't played a round of competitive golf in more than 500 days. He cautioned this week that tournament play would be a -- quote -- "game-time decision" based on if his body could handle walking the treacherous course.

WOODS: I can hit it just fine. And I'm -- I don't have any qualms about what I can do physically from a golf standpoint. It's now -- walking is the hard part. You know, this is normally not an easy walk to begin with. Now, given the conditions that, you know, my leg is in, it's more difficult. And, you know, that's -- semi-two holes is -- it's a long run and it's going to be a tough challenge and a challenge that I am up for.

GALLAGHER (voice-over): Fans flocking to Augusta to see it, making it look more like a Sunday at the Masters. His fellow pros, overwhelmingly supportive.

FREDDY COUPLES, 1992 MASTERS WINNER: It is a miraculous thing. You know? Fourteen months ago, bawling like a baby every day. And now, you know, you pair with him and he looks strong. I know the leg is hurt. But he's hitting it plenty far enough to play this course.

UNKNOWN: Place isn't exactly an easy walk, so I understand what he is up against. And it will be difficult. If anybody can do it, it's him.

GALLAGHER (voice-over): On Thursday, the man with 15 majors under his belt proved they might be right. Dressed in an azalea pink mock turtle neck, a little slower but still as exciting, nearly even sunk a hole in one on the sixth. Tiger Woods finished one under par on the day. There is still the matter of how his leg recovers from round one.

WOODS: With all the hardware in my leg, it's -- it's going to be difficult. You know, for the rest of my life.

GALLAGHER (voice-over): And preparing for round two tomorrow.

WOODS: Lots of ice, lots of ice baths and just, you know, basically freezing myself to death.

GALLAGHER (voice-over): Dianne Gallagher, CNN, Augusta, Georgia.


LEMON (on camera): Wow! What a comeback, huh? We'll see. We'll be watching. Thanks, Dianne.

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




UNKNOWN (voice-over): This is "CNN Breaking News."

VAUSE: Hello. I am John Vause live in Lviv, Ukraine. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is now day 44 of Russia's unprovoked war on Ukraine.

We begin with new warnings about Russia's renewed military offensive in the Eastern Ukraine, Donbas region. The Ukrainian foreign minister, Dmitry Kuleba, says the battle still to come will be reminiscent of World War II. The top U.S. general, Joint Chief Chairman Mark Milley, says the war in Ukraine will be a long slog.

But Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin admitting for the first time the U.S. is providing intelligence to Ukrainian forces in the Donbas region.