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Don Lemon Tonight

Ukraine Claiming Russian Strike on Warship; Heavy Shelling in Kharkiv and Izium; Russian Forces Appearing in the East Ukraine; Russia's Threat of Tactical Nukes Cannot be Taken Lightly; New U.S. military aid to Ukraine; People Trapped in Mariupol; Ukrainian Refugees Facing Discrimination; Patrick Lyoya's Family Calls for Prosecution; COVID Lockdown in Shanghai, China; CNN Heroes. Aired 11- 12a ET

Aired April 14, 2022 - 23:00:00   ET




DON LEMON, CNN HOST: A major blow to the Russian military in Ukraine. Russia admitting one of its most important warships has sunk in the Black Sea. The Ukrainians it took the ship out with a missile, Russia denies that. But sources tell CNN that U.S. and western intelligence believe the Ukrainians' claim is credible.

Also, tonight, the family of Patrick Lyoya demanding justice in Grand Rapids, Michigan. A 26-year-old -- the 26-year-old black man was shot dead by a police officer during a traffic stop last week. The latest on the investigation coming up.

And CNN's reporter in Shanghai, China giving us an up-close look at life under COVID and the week-long lockdown.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The extent of my freedom is all the way to here, the compound gate. Still double locked. It's been like that for almost a month.


LEMON: Weeks long, I should say.

But I want to start with the war. I want to bring in now Lieutenant General Mark Hertling to help us break all of this down.

General, good to see you again. Thanks for joining.

So, talk about the loss of this Russian warship, the crown jewel of Russian navy. If Ukrainians did take it out, what is the fallout and what does it do to morale?

LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST AND FORMER ARMY COMMANDING GENERAL: If Ukraine did strike this, and truthfully, Don, I believe they did. All indicators are that they actually conducted the operation that did that. It's more than just a missile strike, too, there is a lot of things involved in a hit like this.

What I would say is it shows the Russian navy that Ukraine is capable in striking all targets. And it's -- you know, this is a $750 million warship, a crew of over 500 people. It has the admiral of the Black Sea fleet aboard. It's called a flagship or command and control ship.

I actually had the opportunity to go on a U.S. command and control ship as a JTF commander in an exercise in the Mediterranean, and they are impressive vessels. They not only have self-defense capabilities, but the communications suite that the one I was on is phenomenal.

So, what does it mean? Well, first of all, it's taken out of command and control mode. It's probably killed over 400 Russian sailors. It has gotten either an admiral killed or some reports are saying that he's been arrested now, but those reports aren't confirmed, and it shows the capability of the Ukrainians force, a force, by the way, without a navy striking a naval ship of the Russian federation.

A tactical strike, Don. It's nothing more than that, but it has strategic implications because of the damage and the effects that it has on the Russian military.

LEMON: General, we are learning tonight that Ukraine's second largest city of Kharkiv has come under shelling and they are hitting residential areas. That is according to Ukraine's regional military leader there. What is Russia's goal at this point?

LT. GEN. HERTLING: Well, Don, if you -- as you take a look at the map you have up in front of you, it really is an approach from the north through Kharkiv down to the town of Izium where they're pouring forces -- they're attempting -- the Russians are attempting to pour forces out of Belgorod, which is right across the border and further to the north from Kursk.

So, you've got a couple of key Russian and BelaRussian cities that are supporting these attacks into Northern Ukraine. They are attempting to surround, as we've talked about several times before, the Ukrainian forces that are fighting in the Donbas, and they're attempting to affect the Ukrainian army that is moving toward the Donbas just like the Russian forces are. That's where the big battle is. Because Russia's new strategy is to take off a piece of Ukraine, not only the Donbas but south into the Mariupol through Kherson into potentially Mykolaiv and over Odessa.

So, they're looking for a slice of Ukraine that Mr. Putin can claim as victory after he was so thoroughly defeated to the north of Kyiv in the first couple of strategic objectives that he has. So, they are forcing their Russian army into that area.

What I'd say, as I've told you the other night, they are going to have a problem in terms of -- they, Russia, is going to have a problem reinforcing those attacks, because truthfully, they just don't have the capability or the force to do that. It will be ugly at first. They will push some forces down there. They will certainly begin to attack cities like they're doing right now in Kharkiv and probably a few others in the Donbas region. But they don't have the capability to either occupy or subjugate the Ukrainian army or their cities.

LEMON: General, as Russia focuses on Eastern Ukraine, talk to us more about how this fight is changing and how long Ukraine can last. I guess it depends on the weapons that they get and how much weapons, you know, Russia brings in, but can they win, Ukraine?


LT. GEN. HERTLING: Yes. I've said this before, Don, and I'll keep saying it. Yes. Right now, my assessment is Ukraine will win. Not can they, they will. They have the potential for a flexible force under some very good leaders with good command and control, and they will fight in a very different way in the east than we saw them fight north of Kyiv.

Russia has to do a couple things. They have to regenerate a force. They are not capable of doing that, in my view, they just don't have the manpower. They have to fix their logistics chain from Russia into this area. I don't think they're going to be very successful doing that. And then, the Russian commander, General Dvornikov will have to conduct breakthrough operations. What I mean by that is he will send a force through the frontlines of the Donbas, the trench lines and then try and expand it out. You need a lot of force to do that. You need multiple attack routes and all of that.

The commander of the Ukrainian force will have to ensure his force is flexible and have a reserve force, quick reaction to go after those breakthrough operations and stop them. They key to both of these fights are logistics. The Russians haven't shown a very good method and process of getting logistics to their front-line forces, and what I mean by that, fuel, ammo, food, medical aid. The Ukrainians forces will now be stretched thin because they're depending on a lot of reinforcing logistics from the West to keep this fight going.

We're seeing that happen. It may be tougher. You know, they -- basically, the Ukrainians have basically had one supply line at the early parts of this fight, but now they're having multiple supply lines from multiple NATO countries coming into the area of operations. And I believe that they're going to be able to sustain this fight.

LEMON: All right. General, thank you very much. We appreciate it. Talk to you soon.

LT. GEN. HERTLING: My pleasure, Don. Thank you.

LEMON: Putin's invasion of Ukraine bringing Sweden and Finland closer and closer to joining NATO, which has Russia threatening to place more troops on the western borders and vowing, "It will no longer be possible to talk about any nonnuclear status of the Baltic." The director of the CIA warning today that the threat of Russia resorting to tactical nuclear weapons cannot be taken lightly.


WILLIAMS BURNS, CIA DIRECTOR: Given the potential desperation of President Putin and the Russian leadership, given the setbacks that they've faced so far militarily, none of us can take lightly the threat posed by a potential resort to tactical nuclear weapons or low- yield nuclear weapons.


LEMON: Let's discuss now with former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Steven Pifer.

Ambassador, appreciate you joining us. Thanks so much.

Director Burns is right, anytime the word nuclear weapons pops up, it's a cause for alarm. How should the West respond to such dangerous rhetoric from Russia?

AMB. STEVEN PIFER, FORMER AMBASSADOR TO UKRAINE: Well, we need to understand, Don, that this is a part of Vladimir Putin's playbook. He talks about nuclear weapons a lot and it's designed in large part to make us in the West nervous.

So, as the director of the CIA said, we can't dismiss the threat or the possibility, but I think we also not -- should not be overly concerned about it, because that's exactly what Mr. Putin wants.

LEMON: Ukraine has shown the Russian military to be much less formidable than it was believed to be even just a few months ago. We're seeing it again with the sinking of this warship. Will Putin be increasingly relying on nuclear saber-rattling to try to just look tough?

AMB. PIFER: Well, I think you have a little bit of that saber- rattling, but what Putin is hoping for is that his Russian military can succeed now on the ground in taking part of Eastern Ukraine in the Donbas.

As the general was saying, that's going to be problematic. Thus far, the Russian military has not been particularly successful. They basically had to retreat. They were defeated in their effort to take Kyiv. And it's not clear that they have the manpower, and it's not clear that they have the determination.

I mean, one thing to remember here is that the Ukrainians have determination. They understand this is an existential fight. If they lose, they lose their democracy and they lose their vision at becoming a normal European state. And the question then becomes if the Ukrainians defeat the Russians, then what does Putin do? Usually in a tactical nuclear weapon, this conflict with Ukraine, would be a very big step and potentially, dangerous step, and that might even be the step that breaks the relationship with China. I think even the Chinese would be appalled by that action (ph).

So, my guess is, at the end of the day, he doesn't want to go there.

LEMON: OK. One of Putin's claimed reasons for this violence is because of NATO moving closer to Russia's borders. But isn't he now strengthening NATO precisely because of his own actions in Ukraine?


AMB. PIFER: If you look at Russian policy towards Ukraine over the last eight years, it's been a series of strategic failures. They have pushed Ukraine away from Russia and towards the West. But also, the Russian use of military force has generated concern on the part of its neighbors. And so, you know see Finland and Sweden, two countries that have been neutral for decades, are now coming to a conclusion that their securities are best served if they're a member of NATO and there's a very good chance within the next six to eight weeks, both of those countries will formally apply to join the alliance. And that's the result of Russian actions.

And the threats that the Russians now are making about introducing about nuclear weapons in the Baltic Region are only going to, I think, reinforce that, this Russian tendency to make threats often has the opposite of the impact that the Russians would like.

LEMON: Ambassador, we have seen round after round of heavy sanctions from the U.S. and their allies. Now, there is a new military aid package that the U.S. is sending to Ukraine. What additional pressure is left to put on Putin?

AMB. PIFER: Yes. Well, the good news about the U.S. military aid package is we're now beginning to move beyond weapons that the Ukrainians can learn to use very quickly that will take some training time, but they're beginning to provide some heavier weapons, artillery pieces, armored vehicles that I think will increase the wherewithal of the Ukrainian military to withstand Russian attacks.

On sanctions, the big question remains, the one loophole really on western sanctions is the continued dependence of countries in Europe on oil and gas from Russia. And as -- until we can figure a way to sort of close that, there's going to be a flow of revenues going to Moscow, which will undercut the effort to apply significant economic pressure on the Russian economy.

LEMON: You know, there are these early talks happening about sending a high-ranking U.S. official to Kyiv. The White House says it likely would not be the president or the vice president. And we've seen other European leaders, of course, go, including the British prime minister, Boris Johnson. Is it time for the U.S. to send someone high-profile there, do you think?

AMB. PIFER: I think that would be appropriate. And probably when you're talking about the president or the vice president, I think the president would like to go. The security package that has to go is be pretty big and it may be hard to do that in a covert manner. But certainly, with maybe some other cabinet officials, maybe the secretary of state or the secretary of defense, you know, they could do it in a way that would be a little bit more stealthy. And I think that would be a very good signal to the Ukrainians of continuing American support as they continue to ward off these continuing Russian attacks.

LEMON: All right. Let me jump in here because you say, you know, that's a pretty big -- what did you call it, container or what have you or --

AMB. PIFER: Security, I think.

LEMON: OK. But they do it before Thanksgiving, you know, the president pops when we're at war.

AMB. PIFER: Right.

LEMON: It popped into Iraq or into Afghanistan or to wherever we have troops, in Bagram and what have you. So, I guess, because he's going to a base, that makes a difference?

AMB. PIFER: Yes. I mean, he can fly into a secured American base on an aircraft that can be defended, and it's not necessarily -- I mean, both in the case of when going into Iraq or to Afghanistan you, for example, didn't have the kind of air defense capabilities that the Russians do have positioned around Ukraine. So, for example, if you were trying to fly in to Kyiv, there is a risk. I mean, you would be within coverage of Russian air defense missiles.

Now, that's a big step for the Russians to take. But my guess is, as they weight the risks, you know, people are going to be pretty conservative on that.

LEMON: Yes. Thank you, Ambassador. I appreciate it.

AMB. PIFER: Thank you.

LEMON: I want to turn now the key port city of Mariupol where Ukrainians are still fighting to hold on after several weeks of intense shelling and fighting. The city has been demolished. Officials claim tens of thousands of Ukrainians have been killed.

CNN's Ed Lavandera spoke to one woman who was able to make it out.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When the first bomb struck Mariupol, Katya Erskaya thought her most effective weapon would a gentle smile and the ability to calm terrified families. She lived in an underground shelter coordinating relief supplies for the trapped civilians of this besieged city.

LAVANDERA (on camera): So, you're watching your city get bombed and destroyed, people are being killed. You decide not to leave but to help.

KATYA ERSKAYA, MARIUPOL RESIDENT: It's horrible this animus. Didn't allow even children to go out from the city.

LAVANDERA (voiceover): Day by day, the video Katya captured showed life in Mariupol unraveling. She lost touch with the outside world. None of her friends and family outside the city knew if she was alive or dead. Life here was falling into an abyss.

ERSKAYA: It was like the Middle Ages. LAVANDERA (on camera): It was like the Middle Ages?



LAVANDERA: It's almost like you could feel yourself running out of time. There was only so much longer you could stay in Mariupol.

ERSKAYA: I vowed I would never go from Mariupol until the end.

LAVANDERA (voiceover): On march 16, Katya evacuated. She recorded two short videos on her way out, just before seeing a family walking on the side of the road, a mother, a grandmother and two young girls.

ERSKAYA: So, we had two free places (INAUDIBLE) and we saw this family and we decided to help them.

LAVANDERA (voiceover): At one of the Russian military checkpoints, they stopped in front of a solider.

ERSKAYA: And he show us, go out. And so, we begun to turn on our car. And after that, he began to shoot.

LAVANDERA (voiceover): One of the bullets pierced the car over her head.

LAVANDERA (on camera): But in the backseat was 11-year-old Milena Orolova (ph) shot in the face. The Russians realizing their mistake sent the girl to a hospital. Katya, now separated, travelled on without knowing if the young girl survived. Until CNN found Milena (ph) in the basement of a children's hospital in Eastern Ukraine after surviving life-saving surgery. For Katya, the relief is overwhelmed by the horrors of what she witnessed.

ERSKAYA: I saw a lot of dead people, a lot of common grace on the street, for example in my yard (ph). And I started to believe that they're crazy. Because they -- well, like maniacs.

LAVANDERA: They were like maniacs to you?

ERSKAYA: Yes. They're really crazy. Like Nazis in the Second World War.

LAVANDERA (voiceover): After escaping, Katya remembered the videos she recorded before the Russians ravaged Mariupol, Ukrainians protesting outside the now famous theater that in a manner of weeks would be the site of one of the most grotesque bombings in this wear.

The threaten still intact. The buildings unscathed. She sees the peaceful faces of families and children. The video is hard to watch. Are these people alive or left in makeshift graves around the city? Katya Erskaya doesn't know, and for her there's only one way to deal with this haunting reality.

ERSKAYA: I decided that I will cry only when Ukrainian gets victory. LAVANDERA (voiceover): Ed Lavandera, CNN, Odessa, Ukraine.


LEMON: Ed, thank you so much for that.

More than 4.7 million people have fled Ukraine since Vladimir Putin's invasion 50 days ago. But some from Ukraine's Roma community say that they are facing discrimination as they try to find safety for themselves and their families.

CNN spoke to some of them.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is there a difference with how others are being treated compared to your family?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): A big difference, she says. The help goes to Ukrainians with clothes, food, even when it comes to our children. Roma people are treated like, don't know what, she says.




LEMON: Millions of Ukrainians fleeing to neighboring countries since Russia invaded Ukraine nearly two months ago. More than 2 million of those refugees seeking safety in Poland. But tens of thousands of Ukrainians are also from Roma, member of Europe's largest ethnic minority. They say they are not being warmly welcomed and they are facing discrimination in Poland.

CNN's Kyung Lah has the story from --


KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (through translator): Since late February when fled Ukraine, this has been life for refugees in Poland.

LAH (on camera): You're just moving from shelter to shelter?

Yes, says Masha Gorniak, who fled a town near Lviv, Ukraine where her husband fights in the war. Gorniak says her children have watched as other refugees moved out of shelters into Polish host homes and apartments.

LAH (on camera): Is there a different with how others are being treated compared to your family?

LAH (voiceover): A big difference, she says. The help goes to Ukrainians with clothes, food, even when it comes to our children. Roma people are treated like, I don't know what, she says. To be clear, these families are all Ukrainian, but they're not considered white. They're Roma, Europe's largest ethnic minority. Among the millions of Ukrainians fleeing the war, the European Commission estimates 100,000 are Roma. Most of them say Roma nonprofit groups are in Poland.

LAH (on camera): What do you see happening here when it comes to Roma people?

RAJMUND SIWAK, VOLUNTEER: Big problem, big problem. And people, Polish people, know they -- this gypsy.

LAH (voiceover): Rajmund Siwak who is also Roma is a volunteer for a Roma relief group in Poland. On this day, he is going from shelter to shelter picking up Roma families.

Yes. This is racism. It's a very open racism.

LAH (voiceover): Joanna Telewicz runs the group helping Roma refugees.

JOANNA TELEWICZ, VOLUNTEER LEADER: Nobody wants to take them from different cities, from refugees' shelters, from volunteers.

LAH (on camera): Across Poland?

TELEWICZ: Across Poland. Forget that you are able to rent the apartment for those people. It's impossible. It's impossible Imagine being those people. It is impossible. It is impossible even you have money.


LAH (voiceover): Telewicz's group found three houses in Poland that they can rent for these exhausted families. Matina Hordiva's (ph) daughter, Milana (ph), fell asleep immediately once she was on the bus.

LAH (on camera): How hard has all of this been on all of the children here?

LAH (voiceover): It was hard in the shelter, she says.

Before they finally head to this house, the volunteer stopped at another shelter and picked up, Oresha Tuwa (ph), who escaped Russian missiles in her suburb outside of Kyiv. She has also been in shelters for the last month.

LAH (on camera): With all your children and you're pregnant?

LAH (voiceover): Seven months pregnant traveling with three-year-old twins and her eight-year-old. The Roma volunteers say Roma families are often larger, creating a different housing challenge in this crisis. But these Ukrainians just like their fellow refugees have husbands fighting in the war and children they're trying to protect. TELEWICZ: I thought that during the way, you know, during these terrible circumstances, we need to help all refugees. I never thought that we will have a deal with racism during the war. And it was naive. It was very, very naive.


LAH (on camera): CNN has reached out to the European Commission and multiple levels of the Polish government. We did hear back the local provincial office here in Warsaw that said, it had not received any complaints from the Roma community but that any complaints would be investigated.

Now, E.U. representatives have said that they visited Poland and other border countries in early March and that "it did not witness any incidents of discrimination or racism."

Kyung Lah, CNN, Warsaw, Poland.

LEMON: All right. Kyung, thank you very much for that.

By the way, CNN did hear back from the Polish Interior Ministry after our deadline. They say they are in constant contact with representatives of Roma organizations.

Another traffic stop leading to the death of an unarmed black man. Patrick Lyoya's family reeling and speaking out tonight. That is next.



LEMON: The family of Patrick Lyoya, and unarmed Michigan man who was shot and killed by a police officer earlier this month during a traffic stop, they're calling for a prosecution of the officer who shot him.

CNN's Lucy Kafanov has the latest on the case from Grand Rapids, Michigan.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She said, that was my beloved son. And you know how you love your first-born son.

LUCY KAFANOV, CNN CORRESPONDENT (through translator): A mother grieving 26-year-old Patrick Lyoya, a Congolese refugee who ran from war to save his life.

In the U.S., running led to a struggle that cost him his life, wrestling with a Grand Rapids police officer who shot him.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm surprised and astonished to see that my son, it's here that my son has been killed with bullets. BEN CRUMP, FAMILY ATTORNEY: It was a traffic stop, you all. Think about it. This wasn't a felony offense. This wasn't even a moving violation.

KAFANOV (voiceover): Lyoya was unarmed, though in bodycam videos, he appears to reach for the officer's taser, which deployed and missed Lyoya twice, according to the Grand Rapids police chief. But family attorney Ben Crump claims that would have emptied the taser.

CRUMP: So, there was no reason for him to have any intimate fear of the taser being used against him.

KAFANOV (voiceover): Grand Rapids police say even after the taser was fired it was still capable of producing an electrical charge.

ERIC WINSTROM, CHIEF, GRAND RAPIDS POLICE DEPARTMENT: It would have the potential to cause great bodily harm, but not necessarily, and it's depending on all the facts of the case.

KAFANOV (voiceover): Police say a potential language barrier is part of the investigation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you speak English?


KAFANOV (voiceover): Lyoya did tell the officers he spoke English, but his attorney say he didn't speak it well.

VEN JOHNSON, FAMILY ATTORNEY: English was a second language. Could he speak English? The answer is yes, but it's a second language.

KAFANOV (voiceover): He adds, Lyoya was likely confused and afraid when he ran. Either way, the attorneys say it doesn't justify a deadly escalation.

JOHNSON: Police are trained to engage in this very thing.

KAFANOV (voiceover): The police chief says the officer who shot Lyoya, a seven-year veteran on the force, is on paid leave while Michigan State Police investigate. Whatever the outcome, Patrick Lyoya's father is demanding one thing.

PETER LYOYA, FATHER (through translator): I'm asking for justice. I'm asking for justice.

KAFANOV (voiceover): Lucy Kafanov, CNN, Grand Rapids, Michigan.


LEMON: Joey Jackson is here. He's CNN legal analyst. Joey, how are you doing?

JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST AND CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I'm good, Don. Good evening to you. LEMON: Lyoya's family is demanding answers. They're calling for the officer involved to be prosecuted. What do you see when you look at this footage?

JACKSON: It's horrifying. You know, when they really assess this, it's going to be predicated upon three things. It's going to be predicated upon, number one, was the officer an immediate fear of death or serious bodily harm? Number two, were the actions of the officer in shooting proportionate to the threat that was posed? And number three, did the officer act reasonably?


When you look at this, what's troubling is, you can argue that, of course, Patrick is noncompliant. But with respect to him being physically assaulted, that's another issue, and there's a major distinction between someone who is not complying with you and someone who is actually attacking you. He's not.

And so, to withdraw your weapon and to shoot him in the head at that point is beyond troubling and horrifying. It's just -- you know, you can argue, and again, there's an investigation pending. We'll see where it leads. But from what I see, I mean, you know, this does appear to have criminal element from -- with respect to what the police did. It's just troubling and did not need to happen.

Did you need to take your gun and shoot him in the head at that point? Did you fear that you would be killed yourself? Was that response really appropriate under those circumstances? And would other police officers in your position have done the same. And I would argue those are the questions that will have to be asked, and they're very troubling to me, from what I see, with respect to the investigation as it unfolds, Don.

LEMON: Attorney Crump says that it was the officer escalating the situation. Is there an argument that the officer is responsible for the struggle that led to Lyoya's death?

JACKSON: I think you're going to see a lot of arguments. And, you know, look, you're in a fight. I get it and understand it and it's not even so much a fight, it's a struggle because what I don't see is I don't see the person who is now dead really punching or swinging or attacking. And so, what alternative means could you have used as a police officer, and it's very horrifying, I can only imagine, to be in that situation, I can't imagine. But did you need to shoot and kill someone who is face down?

LEMON: They said he went after the taser. They say he went for the officer's taser.

JACKSON: OK. So, you go for a taser. Could the taser have been deployed at that time? Is a taser a deadly weapon? Did you feel the taser can actually shoot you? Was he in a position that as Patrick, at the time, to kill you with a taser or to injure you with the taser? Could the taser do any of those things? Those are the questions that will have to be asked. LEMON: OK.

JACKSON: Why is he dead? That's the other question that has to be asked. Does he need to -- or could he have done something different so that he was not dead? That's a further question.

LEMON: Joey --

JACKSON: And all of these are troubling.

LEMON: -- not to cut you off but I want to get this in before we run out of time. The officer's body worn camera stops filming during the struggle. The police chief says that he thinks a pressure applied to the camera turned it off. How do you see this playing out in this case?

JACKSON: I see that -- listen, in the event it takes three seconds to turn a body camera off, you'll have to see the relative positions of the parties and whether to see it, the person who was dead could have done that. But at the end of the day, there are other video surveillance footage that captured what happened. We could all see what happened.

So, whether it was the body camera or not, what happened and occurred was memorialized, we can all see it, the investigation is pending, it looks troubling, but I think and I would not be surprised if criminal charges are next.

LEMON: Joey Jackson, thank you very much. We'll follow this and other stories. Joey, we'll see you soon. Appreciate it.

JACKSON: Always. Thank you, Don.

LEMON: Food dwindling, people isolated. So, when some saying high residents get to just step out of their homes, it is a really, really big deal. But the majority are still under lockdown. And CNN is there in the middle of it. So, make sure you stay with us. You got to see this.



LEMON: More than 25 million people in Shanghai have been under a harsh COVID lockdown for weeks, stuck at home and unable to stock up on basics like food or medicine. But now, some residents are getting a little bit of relief. China's governmental allowing them to venture outside to get some fresh air, but only within their apartment compounds.

My colleague -- senior colleague David Culver is one of them. And he is -- this is an up-close look right now at life under weeks of lockdown there.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DAVID CULVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): A few steps of freedom granted to some Shanghai residents, strolling their own neighborhoods as if taking in some strange new world.

CULVER (on camera): But where are you going to go? There's nowhere to go.

CULVER (voiceover): Most shops still closed and public transportation halted. Still this woman can't hold back her joy, recording that she and her neighbors roam the empty streets.

After (INAUDIBLE), 25 plus million people into weeks of harsh lockdown, government officials facing mounting pressure lifted some restrictions. For communities like mine without a positive case in the last seven days, that meant we could actually step outside our apartments.

My neighbors enjoying the taste of relative freedom, and so, too, our pets, eager to stretch their legs, still keeping within the confines of our compound. The extent of my freedom is all the way to here, the compound gate. Still double locked. It's been like that for about a month.

In recent weeks, we had to get community permission to leave our homes, mostly for COVID tests, of which there were many. We could also step outside to pick up the occasional government distribution.

CULVER (on camera): Today's delivery, a bag of rice.

CULVER (voiceover): But even with heavy restrictions still in place, we had it good. For now, at least. The majority of the city remains in hard lockdown, kept to their homes, some hungry and suffering.


This woman heard begging in the middle of the night, pleading for fever medicine for her child. And this man recording his dwindling food supply. Then there were those who have tested positive. Tens of thousands being sent to cramped government quarantine centers, whose residents have described a host of problems, facilities that were quickly, and apparently poorly constructed.

Outside of Shanghai, panic spreading quicker than the virus. The horror stories from China's financial hub have residents and other Chinese cities stocking up from Suzhou to Guangzhou.

Online, sales for prepackaged foods surging. This as the China's National Health Commission warns of more cases and publicly calls out Shanghai for not effectively containing the virus, shifting blame to local officials for allowing it to spread to other places. China's strict zero COVID approach forcing dozens of cities into weeks' long full or partial lockdowns.

Residents in Guilin banging on pots to protest. Most of the 24 million people in the northern Chinese province confined to their homes for more than a month now. Back in Shanghai, the joys of freedom for some might last only a few hours as it takes just one new case nearby to send them back inside, resetting the clock for their community. Another 14-day sentence in lockdown. A seemingly endless cycle.


LEMON: Goodness, talk about cabin fever. There he is. David Culver joins me now live from Shanghai.

David, you got a little bit freedom, but we spoke this week, earlier this week and you were being -- they were taping your doors, right, into the apartments to make sure that, you know, apartment complex -- make sure at night.

CULVER (on camera): Right.

LEMON: To make sure you weren't getting out. You were doing group orders with your neighbors. How is life under lockdown now a few days later?

CULVER: Yes, Don, it's still relatively difficult to get a reliable source of food in my community because we haven't had a new case in the past seven days, it does mean we have a little bit of freedom. We -- in that middle tier of categories that they've created. And so, it's nice to be able to step out that door behind me, if only just to do a walk up and down a couple alleyways.

But the majority of this city, more than 15 million people, still sealed inside their homes. They're still under the harshest level of lockdown. And, Don, they even have now have these apps that they've created for us to search our address and determine what lockdown category we fall into. And you could also see, if there are no new cases nearby, what your release date is. That's how they label it, it's as if it's a prison sentence, Don.

LEMON: It's like which group you're in aboard the airplane.


LEMON: So, you reported there's mounting pressure on the government to lift these lockdowns. What's mounting pressure actually -- what does that look like in China, and will that make any change?

CULVER: So, generally here in the People's Republic of China, there is just social acceptance, right, of government policies that will go mostly unopposed. But that is based on this unspoken deal. An all- powerful central government in exchange for prosperity for all. And with it, plentiful access to basic necessities.

But when the government falls short on providing that, as we've seen with these lockdowns, people get desperate and they start to protesting. They're shouting for food, resisting government quarantine physically and pushing back. And online, they're getting creative to voice their anger in ways that don't immediately get censored but they can still show solidarity. To your point, will it change anything? Not likely, Don. It seems that from the top down, President Xi Jinping is pushing this zero COVID policy and it's not going anywhere.

LEMON: Is it good news about which group you are to get off the plane, to deplane?

CULVER: Yes, I'm in the middle one. So, you know, hopefully, it stays that way. But we could get to day 14 or almost there and think that we're going to have -- be able to walk around our neighborhood. But then, suddenly, a new case surfaces and we reset the clock.

LEMON: Thank you, David. Be well. Be safe. We'll be right back.

CULVER: Thanks, Don.



LEMON: The Russian invasion of Ukraine is creating the world's fastest-growing refugee crisis since World War II. But this week's CNN Heroes is doing all she can to help. Teresa Gray, a paramedic and nurse from Alaska has sent self-sufficient medical teams to natural and humanitarian disasters for the past six years.

Recently, she and her volunteers traveled to Romania where they provided care and comfort to hundreds of Ukrainians in need.


TERESA GRAY, PARAMEDIC AND NURSE: What we were expecting to see was large groups of people housed in tents, cities. And actually, they are housing these refugees in individual dorm rooms. They have got food. They've got shelter. But the trauma is the same.

They've lost almost everything. This is filled with women, children, and elderly. There is a flu outbreak, currently, that obviously affects the children. We also have pre-existing conditions. It isn't just about fixing the broken arm or giving you medicine. It's making that human connection. Sometimes, you need to hold their hand, and walk them down a hallway and listen to them. We try to meet the needs of whatever presents to us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Smile, everybody.

GRAY: Human suffering has no borders. People are people, and love is love.


LEMON: To see Teresa's organization in action and find out how they went the extra mile to help one Ukrainian family, go to Ask while you are there, nominate someone you know to be a CNN hero.

[23:55:00] And in just hours, my new talk show, "The Don Lemon Show," premieres on CNN Plus. Be sure to tune in tomorrow morning to see the first episode. Here is a preview. This week, I spoke to Ukrainian Americans about the war.


LEMON: When I was in Ukraine and even talking to Ukrainians here, the biggest response I get is when I ask about the Russians and Putin. The most passionate ones, whether it's, you know, people break into tears when I ask them about Putin. You're not scared? Your feelings about that?


LEMON: What are your feelings?

SHUBA: My feelings about that, that, you know, he should step down or he should be made down to be stepped down from --

LEMON: What do you think of him?

SHUBA: I think he is anti-Christ, terrorist, and a war criminal.


LEMON: You can watch and learn more about my show at

And thanks for watching, everyone. Our live coverage continues with John Vause in Lviv, Ukraine.