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Don Lemon Tonight

Russian Forces Start Battle For Donbas, Hitting West And East Of Ukraine; Confusion At U.S. Airports After Judge Strikes Down Mask Mandate; Ukraine Using New Technology In Fight Against Russia; School Asks Author Not To Read His Children's Book About Being Different; CNN Goes Inside Abandoned Russian Military Camp Outside Kyiv. Aired 11p- 12a ET

Aired April 18, 2022 - 23:00   ET




DON LEMON, CNN HOST (on camera): This is DON LEMON TONIGHT. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announcing tonight Putin's forces have begun their assault on the eastern part of Ukraine.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, PRESIDENT OF UKRAINE (through translator): Russian forces have started the battle for Donbas, for which they've been preparing for a long time, and a considerable amount of the Russian forces are concentrated and focused on that offensive.

No matter how many Russian servicemen they're bringing in into that area, we will keep on fighting and defending, and we will be doing this daily.


LEMON (on camera): Plus, airstrikes hitting Western Ukraine, causing the first wartime deaths inside the city of Lviv since Putin's invasion. At least seven people are killed, several more injured.

And here in the U.S., confusion at airports tonight after the CDC's mask mandate for travelers was struck down by a federal judge. We're going to break down what it means for your next flight.

But first, I want to begin with CNN's Matt Rivers for the latest on Russia's attack on the western city of Lviv.


MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Lviv has largely been spared the horrors of this war, which made the black smoke in Monday skies so unusual here. We chased one such flume until we arrived at its source. Flames shooting out of two as firefighters rain water down from above.

(On camera): Ukrainian officials say at least four missile strikes across Lviv on Monday morning, three of which hit military infrastructure sites, another hitting just across these railroad tracks behind me. Let me show you the impact crater from where Ukrainian officials say that Russian missile struck.

(Voice-over): Military and first responders on the scene quickly thereafter. The explosion destroying an auto repair shop and a dozen or so cars lined up outside. The explosion shockwaves blew out windows, more than 500 feet away. Mariya Holovchak showed us her building's damage.

I got very scared, she says, and I was scared that the whole building was going to fall down. I don't know whether I should stay here in this building or if I should move to Poland and flee for my life.

Overall, the four strikes across the city killed at least seven people and injured about a dozen, including a child. Here, scenes from a hospital, treating victims of the strike who survived. Other victims in body bags outside the repair shop where they worked.

(On camera): The owner says they were just getting ready to open up the business for the day when the missile struck. Four of his employees, he says, were killed and several others were sent to the hospital.

And what appears to be such an obvious nonmilitary target, it begs the question, was this a mistake by the Russian military or was this place targeted on purpose?

(Voice-over): The owner told us the only vague connection his shop had to the military was volunteering time to make sure cars being sent to soldiers at the front were in good shape. For him, this is just another example of Russian military brutality.

He says, they destroy our infrastructure, they kill people, they want to kill and destroy the Ukrainian nation.

Several of those who died have families with young children. So instead of leaving work to go home and see them, their bodies were taken to the morgue. More victims in a needless war.

Matt Rivers, CNN, Lviv, Ukraine.


LEMON (on camera): All right, Matt, thank you very much for that.

I want to turn now to CNN's John Vause. He is in Lviv for us. John, hello to you. President Zelenskyy confirming tonight Russian troops have started their offensive in Eastern Ukraine. Give us the latest.

JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: Well, as Ukrainian and Russian defense officials, Don, report a significant increase in military activities, especially in the east in the past 24 hours. That includes Russian forces taking the town of Kreminna in the Luhansk region. Elsewhere, in the east, Ukrainian officials say Russian advances were forced back in two other locations. At the same time, Monday saw widespread Russian missile strikes across Ukraine, including here in Lviv.

According to Moscow, 16 Ukrainian military installations were hit, five Ukrainian command posts, a fuel storage facility, three ammunition depots as well as personnel and military equipment. We have no way to independently confirm any of those claims by the Russians, but we can confirm the five missile strikes or at least four missile strikes here in Lviv, which left seven people dead.


Again, Russia claims to have destroyed a large consignment of U.S. and European weapons which were being stored here in Lviv. Again, no way to confirm that either, Don.

LEMON: Wow! I mean, that is a lot, John. There is also a new video tonight from the besieged city of Mariupol to show. It shows women and children purportedly are sheltering for weeks in the basement of a plant. What can you tell us about this, John?

VAUSE: This is where the last remaining fighters in Mariupol have been actually holed up. It's the Azovstal iron and steel plant. And from what we can tell by that video, this does look to be as it's genuine. But we do not know when it was recorded. But it does appear that there are these families which are taking cover there, along with these Ukrainian defenders who are making their last final stands at the sprawling iron and steel works.

Now, we've also heard from the chief of the Mariupol police, who confirmed to CNN, that women and children and the elderly are among those who were sheltering inside that steel works.

And Don, this is the steel works which the -- one of the Moscow-backed separatist leaders of the region referred to last week as a possible target for a chemical attack to rid of the last remaining Ukrainian fighters.

LEMON: We're also getting some images, new images, John, of that key Russian warship before it sank in the Black Sea. What are you learning about that?

VAUSE: Yeah, if you take a close look at these images, this is truly stunning. This is the Moskva on fire listening to port. It reveals a couple of things like -- okay, so the weather conditions can change fairly quickly, but there's nothing in these images or that video to confirm what the Kremlin has been saying, that the Moskva sunk during stormy conditions.

We also can see that the ship lifeboats have all been deployed. On the side the ship, there is a jagged, damaged area. If there had been an internal explosion, those jagged edges would be sticking outwards, not inwards, which they are, which is indicative of missile strike. It is not a definitive proof of the claims been made by the Ukrainians but it certainly doesn't disprove what they're saying and it doesn't do a lot for the Russian claims either.

LEMON: Yeah, it certainly brings some questions into this. John Vause from Lviv, Ukraine, we will see you a little bit later on in CNN. Thank you, John. I appreciate it.

So, for more on Russia's new offensive in the east, I want to bring in now retired Major General John Spencer. He is the chair of the Urban Warfare Studies -- of Urban Warfare Studies at Madison Policy Forum and the author of "Connected Soldiers: Life, Leadership, and Social Connections in Modern War." Pleasure to have you again, sir. Good evening.

So, colonel, Zelenskyy says -- President Zelenskyy says that the Russians have been preparing for the battle for Donbas and it's now underway. How do you see this next phase of the war playing out? Because perhaps, you can correct me if I'm wrong, perhaps, though, they have learned from the mistakes they made.

JOHN SPENCER, AUTHOR, CHAIR OF URBAN WARFARE STUDIES AT MADISON POLICY FORUM: Yeah, Don, I think you're right. I mean, of course, there are lessons that they learned from trying to take over all of Ukraine. They failed that war. They started a new war over a much smaller geographic area. So, they learned about how hard it is to project power into a country that you don't own. We call it interior line.

They have a new commander. They learned a lesson about chain of command and needing a theater commander. But some of these are the same old troops. They're going to make the same old mistakes.

Despite the fact that the Pentagon says they've added 10 battalion tactical groups of about 10,000 more soldiers, I see this going just as badly as the first failed attempt going.

LEMON: Our friend, Lieutenant General Mark Hertling says that the next few weeks will be --- is really going to be a battle of logistics. Tell us about the logistics that you think Ukraine has the advantage like General Hertling does.

SPENCER: Yes. I'm a big fan of General Hertling. I really admire him. I agree. We say amateurs talk tactics or fighting and professionals talk logistics. We all saw -- the world saw the power of that when Russia tried to take Kyiv.

Ukraine has, one, they have a more disciplined force. They have more interior lines where they can create redundancies, right? So, we all know where Russia is coming from. The lines are very clear on the map where they need to go and where they need to resupply. So, those are what we call lines of communication. Ukrainians don't have that problem.

You and I talked about this last time, although Lviv clearly is going to be a target because they know it's a place where weapons and supplies come through. But after you get past that, there are multiple lines, multiple roads that the Ukrainians can use to get in.

And oh, by the way, they're getting a whole bunch more helicopters. And what can you do in areas you control? Fly helicopters and get supplies, men, weapons, equipment to the front lines quicker.

I agree, Russia is going to fail in just supplying their people. It's one thing to get them there without them just being broken apart like we are already seeing. And getting demoralized troops to fight anyways. But then you attack their supply lines, exactly.

LEMON: So, the Russians have been fighting in the Donbas for years. This is -- this part of the war -- that part is not new.


The Pentagon says that they know the terrain. How will it impact their tactics in the east?

SPENCER: I understand that they've been fighting there for like eight years. They've had the ability also to resupply from Russia into the forces that are in the east. It matters. The forces they have there are -- some of them are fresh. So, this will be a high attritional -- the worst kind of fighting we've ever seen. That is why we have to (INAUDIBLE).

LEMON: Yeah. I think that is where you're going. It just dawned on me as I asked that question, but they weren't getting the weapons that they were getting from, you know, from NATO and allied countries. And so, therefore, it makes it -- it makes this fight much harder. I think that's where you're going with your answer.

SPENCER: Yeah, absolutely. And I think there is -- you and I agree that there is an urgency here. The 40,000 artillery rounds that we're sending is great. They're going to need 40,000 rounds a day. And 18 artillery howitzers are great. That is one battalion (ph).

They're going to need 10 of those battalions (ph) of artillery in this type of fight because the Russians don't have to go far to start pushing against the lions. This is going to be on the scale of war of two battles. I agree.

LEMON: So, let me ask you, because the U.S. is saying that Russia has had 11 battalion tactical groups to their forces in the east and south. This is just since last week. So, how could that -- I mean, what could the impact of that kind of increase due? Does it tell you how the military leadership thinks things are going, that they're bringing in these kinds of numbers?

SPENCER. No. It shows to me that they're desperate. Again, Don, new commander and I'm sure he has a timeline. Whether that (INAUDIBLE) in the Russian celebration or not, he's being rushed.

Even the Pentagon says we don't know the quality of these additional battalion tactical groups. They could be the exact same forces that they're rushing out of the key Sunni (ph) Kharkiv area and then rushing them in, which would be, you know, the poorest form of fighters you can. We know that they didn't have these troops. They didn't call up their reserves. They didn't do a mobilization of the Russian reserves.

So, these forces are not the best of the best of their fighting forces. These are what they've thrown together and thrown at this because they're desperate to get some type of win.

LEMON: Colonel, I always learn so much. Thank you. It is very good. Thank you. We'll see you soon.

SPENCER: Thank you, Don.

LEMON: Yeah. I got to turn to some important news now for travelers here in the U.S. The Biden administration is saying that the CDC's mask mandate for airplanes and other forms of transportation is not in effect after it was struck down today by a federal judge.

CNN's Stephanie Elam is at the Burbank International Airport for us tonight. Steph, hello to you. So, there is some confusion? I don't know. You're there. What does this really mean for travelers? What is going on?

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Exactly, Don. It's all over the place. So, you've seen some people who have come off very happy that they don't have to wear a mask. There are others who are saying they're still going to wear their mask.

But the confusion was because no one expected this to happen so quickly. So, there wasn't a plan in place already for this. So, it was happening effective immediately, so people were finding out while they were either midflight, as they're boarding their flight, as they were getting off their flight.

I just took a little walk through the Burbank, which is obviously a smaller airport, but I can tell you, about half the people still have their mask on, working and also flying, and the other half don't.

So, you're seeing definitely a change here, but it is definitely getting out as we've gotten here longer into the evening and you can see that people have now learned that they don't have to wear their mask as of now.

LEMON (on camera): All right. Let's hear from them.


DAVITA WRIGHT, AIR TRAVELLER: I'll always wear my mask. I lost my grandmother to COVID a year ago. And so, I'm very particular about the masks.

RICHARD RIPLEY, AIR TRAVELLER: My personal opinion, they don't -- they don't do much. So, yeah, I'm excited. If you want to wear them, wear them. If not, then don't.


LEMON (on camera): All right. Look --

ELAM: You know, the thing is, though, the signs are still up. It's going to take time to take down these signs that say you have to wear your mask, because this was a surprise. So, there still probably going to be some confusion, Don, for the next day or so as people sort this out.

I can tell you, too, that the association behind the flight attendants are saying, let's get a uniform decision here, a plan out there because they don't want to deal with the public. Some people are saying, oh, we don't have to wear a mask on this airline and we do on this one. They want a uniform plan just obviously to make it safer for them.

LEMON: Yeah. We had Sara Nelson on just a little bit ago, Stephanie, saying exactly what you're saying now. This happened to abruptly and there should have been at least some sort of warning so everyone could have been on the same page.

Look, I think people -- no one wants to wear a mask, right? It's not something that you just say, I like -- I prefer to wear a mask all day. But there were reasons. So, we'll see. Stephanie Elam at the airport, Burbank International.

ELAM: Yeah.

LEMON: Steph, come see us. Jump on a plane.


We'll see you soon.

ELAM: I will get on a plane. I'll come to you, Don. Thank you.

LEMON: Thank you. So, let's talk more about Ukraine tonight. Is Ukraine turning into psychological warfare? We are going to tell you about the new tactic that they're using to get into the heads of Russians back home. Stay with us.


LEMON: So, we are getting a new look at the psychological warfare Ukraine is waging against Russia. "The Washington Post" recent piece says that Ukraine is scanning faces of dead Russians, then contacting the mothers. And it shows Ukrainian officials are using face scanning software from U.S. tech company Clearview AI to help I.D. dead Russian soldiers, and then sending the photos of those corpses to their family members.


I want to discuss now with John McLaughlin, the former acting director and former deputy director of the CIA, and Colonel Liam Collins, a former defense advisor to Ukraine. I'm so happy to have both of you on. This is a fascinating story. Good evening. John, we have discussed on this show before that the thing that most resonates -- resonates most with Russians about this war is when their children don't return home. Will the Ukrainians using the special I.D. on these dead Russian soldiers have the effect on those Russian families that they want it to?

JOHN MCLAUGHLIN, FORMER ACTING DIRECTOR AND DEPUTY DIRECTOR, CIA: You know, Don, I understand the emotional reasons for doing this and it's certainly scientifically clever, but I have my doubts about how this play in Russia.

I think it will play fine with some people who will take it, if they are predisposed to not like this war, who will take it as evidence that it's a bad idea, but I think a lot of Russians will find this to be a little over the top in terms of -- a little macabre and it could backfire on the Ukrainians in that sense.

As much as I want them to win and support them and believe in their cause, this might not be a great tactic.

LEMON: Colonel Collins, Clearview technology is able to identify many of these dead soldiers through their profiles and social media platforms like Instagram or Russia's VK. Is this a clear indication that the war isn't just a physical one but a virtual one as well?

LIAM COLLINS, FORMER DEFENSE ADVISER TO UKRAINE: Yeah, that's correct. And really, they took a page out of the Russians' book. I mean, Russians did something, you know, similar types of things earlier in the conflict in the Donbas where they targeted cellphones of Ukrainian members and spoofed family members, sending them a text about their son being killed, which didn't happen.

So, this is a case where the Ukrainians actually learned from the Russians and are leveraging that 21st century technology.

LEMON: Do you think this is a good or bad idea? John says it might not go over so well with some.

COLLINS: Yeah. I mean, I think you got the legal moral aspect to it. Is it a good decision to accomplish what you're trying to do? I think I had (INAUDIBLE) towards John. I think the jury is still out on this one. But it has the potential backfire just like indiscriminate bombing does where it often instead of bombing the population to submission actually galvanizes the population to be more committed to their cause.

So, I think it's too early to tell, but, you know, as a former soldier, I really wouldn't want my family members being targeted. So, I can see how this would have a chance of backfiring.

LEMON: What about retaliation?

COLLINS: Yeah. I mean, I don't know what Russia will do to retaliate in this case. I mean, you know, Russia is going to do indiscriminate bombing as they've done throughout the conflict, and as we saw, you know, hitting targets in Lviv today. So, I don't really see Russia retaliating in any specific way because they don't really seem to be beholden to strike just military targets.

LEMON: John, do you agree with that?

MCLAUGHLIN: But, you know, Don, I think your earlier point is the main one here, that regardless of how this play in Russia, it is very strong evidence that this is a social media war. This is the first war that I recall in which social media of all sorts has played such a powerful role. It has empowered people who otherwise would not have a lot of power.

You know, online, you can look up conversations among Russian soldiers who were talking on open lines. You can find that on YouTube. This is unlike any other war in that respect.

And the facial recognition technology is not a new thing for the Ukrainians. Working with the United States, they did essentially this in Crimea when the Russians took it over. Remember the little green men. They used this kind of technology to identify them as Russian military when the Russians were sailing, nah, they're just loyal locals, you know.

LEMON: Yeah. I mean, just technology in general. I mean, covering a war, I remember, you know, I've covered several wars in my career as a journalist, but to be able to get people live from bunkers, you know, in their homes as they're being bombed, it's fascinating to watch the technological advances when it comes to our coverage of an active war.

John, according to the "Post," a digital rights group, Privacy International, has called on Clearview to stop it work with Ukraine due to concerns over misidentification. Is that a legitimate concern?

MCLAUGHLIN: Well, it is a real concern. This technology is great, but it's not perfect, particularly on people who aren't alive. You know, some forms of it, Americans are very familiar with. We use it on our I-phones. The I-phone measures about 300 points on your face in order to use face I.D. with the I-phone.


But in circumstances where you don't have a lot of control over what you're photographing, there are some issues about its accuracy, although the company claims it's 99% accurate.

The other thing is we've seen use of this technology in identifying some of the January 6 insurrectionists in this country, and that, too, has provoked some calls from civil liberties groups about the appropriate use of that.

To me, it seems fine, but this is something that is propping up a lot in what we call open-source intelligence. That is to say that there are ethical issues that you do not normally encounter in some of these circumstances that arise from the fact that information is so easily available and so easily propagated without much governance of it. So, it is going to be an issue.

LEMON: Colonel Collins, you know the Ukrainian forces well since you've worked with them. Are there other methods of nontraditional warfare that they are using to combat this Russian invasion?

COLLINS: Yeah, I mean, I would say that they are using every tool that they can think of. I mean, like John said, I mean, the use of social media, I mean, Zelenskyy has been phenomenal with communicating to the west and trying to explain the need and why they need various support from the west. So, I think you are seeing that.

And in other times, we are not seeing how they're using technology with volunteers or just Ukrainian citizens identifying where Russian vehicles are located so that Ukrainian forces can take them out. So, I think there is probably more going on than we just haven't seen yet.

LEMON: Colonel Collins, I got to ask you about the U.S. security aid for Ukraine. There are a number of weapons included in this latest $800 million package, including helicopters, Switchblade drones, howitzers, javelins. How quickly do you expect Ukrainians should be trained on this new weaponry?

COLLINS: Most of them are things that they already have or are very similar to weapon systems they already have like javelins. We started providing those in 2018. So, most of the forces probably trained on that.

The helicopters, the MI-17s, those are Russian helicopters. That is the same kind of helicopter that they have, so there is no learning curve involved with that.

Some of the vehicles, you know, they are not complex tank systems, they are armored personnel carriers and really moving troops from point A to point B, not as much a fighting vehicle.

So, fairly low learning curve on that. That is by design, right? We do not want to give them weapon system that is going to take a long time to train on because we have to get them distributed.

Probably the weapon system that requires the most time are those switchblades, the munition drones, and those take a couple days probably to train somebody. That is probably the one that requires the most training time.

By and large, the weapon systems that are giving them are things that they already have or extremely similar to ones they have, so very little learning curve.

LEMON: All right. Colonel, John, thank you both, gentlemen. We will have you back soon. Appreciate it.

MCLAUGHLIN: Thank you, Don.

LEMON: So, back at home, a school district outside Columbus Ohio asking an invited guest author not to read from his own book. The author is here. We will tell you what happened. Stay tuned.



LEMON: Okay, so, you got to listen to this. It's okay to be a unicorn, or is it? A school district just outside of Columbus, Ohio asking a guest author earlier this month not to read his book about being different to elementary school students.

It is the latest example of books becoming controversial in schools without any credible reason and it's certainly not the last, including in Florida where math textbooks are being removed from the curriculum because of alleged references -- alleged references to critical race theory. Seriously. In math books. Okay. Math textbooks.

Jason Tharp is the author of "It's Okay to be a Unicorn." He joins me now. Also with us, CNN political commentator Bakari Sellers. Let us get into this. Good evening, gentlemen.

Jason, I want to start with your experience. You were able to go to the school in the Buckeye Valley School District, but you couldn't talk about or read "It's Okay to be a Unicorn." Why not?

JASON THARP, AUTHOR, "IT'S OKAY TO BE A UNICORN": Well, I was told the day before the visit that the principal was not going to have that conversation with me. They thought that it was not to be on the agenda. There was one parent who was concerned about discussions about the unicorn in the book because they thought it was a book to tell children to be gay.

LEMON: Some parents thought that your book was a tool to recruit children to be gay. Really?

THARP: One parent did. One parent, I was told.

LEMON: And to be clear, so everyone else knows, what exactly is your book about?


THARP: It's actually a story I liked growing up in a small town where I would share my dreams, and then you feel insecure, so I felt I needed to tell the story from a point of view that children can understand.

So, unicorn, it was a horse living in a unicorn kennel. Someone puts on beautiful horns and he is chosen to be the honorary unicorn, and he thought he would reveal that he's not a unicorn. Then he thought what if my friends don't like me, what if this, what if that? Then you realize he doesn't care about what they think, and for the first time he really felt good about being who he was.

LEMON: This is what at the Buckeye Valley superintendent says. Unfortunately, before we were able to gather all the facts, there was some miscommunication between the central office and the building administration that led to the alteration of the author's original plan. Although our students were still able to enjoy the event, I regret that the circumstances played out as they did, which may have led to misunderstanding.

The district says there were some parental concerns here. So, are parents doing the work to understand what exactly is being taught, Jason?

THARP: Well, yeah, what's interesting is I live 12 miles from the school. I would have brought some sketches and we would have discussed all of this. We had bulk sales of this book as parents in this school ordered about 500 copies, but they worried a lot about the unicorn book.

So, yeah, they had all the materials six to eight weeks before I got there, and it was the day before when all this happened. So, I didn't get inquiries about anything from the parents, more the opposite of how excited they were that I was coming.

LEMON: Yeah. Bakari, you've been sitting by patiently waiting. I can't wait to hear you weigh in on this. But we need to say what has happened with Jason is really just a microcosm of what's happening across the country right now. Correct?

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yeah. I mean, I think that what we have to do is a few things. One, realize it's okay to be gay. Two, it's okay to be a unicorn. Three, go out and buy Jason's book so that more young people have an opportunity to feel good about themselves.

But what we're seeing is this wave of anti-intellectualism just sweep the country. Whether it is Ron DeSantis in Florida or Henry McMaster in South Carolina or Gov. Abbott in Texas, you see these Republican governors who don't want people to feel comfortable in their own skin, who don't want people to learn about their history, and who are afraid of growth and development in young people.

It's okay to be a unicorn. I tell Sadie, Don, every single day that she is -- and this is bad English, I know, but I tell her that she is the most beautiful princess, mermaid in the entire world. Those are her two favorite things. And yes, it's okay to be a princess, it's okay to be a mermaid, and it's okay to be a unicorn.

LEMON: Wow! Did you ever watch "Wizard of Oz"? I mean, okay.


SELLERS: I don't know why people are so scared of gay folk, Don. Maybe that's the question. That's what I don't get. I don't know why people are so scared of gay folks in the south.

LEMON: Because it's magic. It's the magic. People are afraid of the magic. You wouldn't have the magic kingdom without gay people. You wouldn't have the magic of just about everything. But, you know, hey, that's a whole other story. Did you want to say something, Jason?

THARP: It's amazing to me, it seems like people have forgotten what it was like to be a kid. For me, I'm writing these books because I'm writing to that one kid who feels different, alone, bad, confused. I write this because I love that we are different.

It's just amazing that we would want to take this outlet away from our children because books entertained me as a kid. This may reach that one kid, and it seems so great because you don't know what book will affect what kid in what way. It's really sad.

LEMON: I was just, like, glancing down at some of these numbers because you mentioned Florida, Bakari. In Florida, the Department of Education rejected more than 50 math textbooks for next year, 71% in grades K5. Some of them alleged references to critical race theory.

Okay, Bakari, critical race theory is not part of the curriculum, and the idea that it's in math textbooks, I mean, seriously?

SELLERS: Wait until they find out that some math is not binary, right?



SELLERS: But, I mean, it makes you laugh about it if it wasn't so sad. I'm not quite sure what exactly we're doing. I mean, if you want to bring it back to the 50,000-foot view, it's Putinesque, it's authoritarianism. It's showing what we don't want the United States of America to be. This is the proverbial book burning minus the smoke and flames.

In school, there should be a place. I'm not for cancel culture on any side. I think that if you want to bring somebody who is a right-wing nut to the campus, you should be able to do that. I think if you want to be able to educate people or whatever, you should be able to do that.

Schools are a place where you should have an opportunity to learn as much as possible about what the world is and what it should be or could be. What we're doing right now is just stifling them in what we believe America is, and unfortunately, I don't think America fits the mold for any of us on this planet.

LEMON: Yeah. Look, I'm going to disagree with you on that. I don't think the right-wing nut job, but I wouldn't want to talk to my kids. A conservative, yes. A rational conservative person, absolutely.

SELLERS: Fair enough.

LEMON: But not a right-wing nut job or a left-wing nut job. A nut job of any wing. I have to run, though. This is not the end of this conversation. Jason, best of luck to you. I appreciate you coming on.

SELLERS: Buy Jason's book. Go buy it, everybody.

LEMON: Just remember, "It's okay to be a Unicorn." Here I am. We always talk about me being a unicorn, Bakari, but that's because I'm the only Black person in primetime on cable.

Bye, all. Thank you very much. Best of luck.

THARP: Thank you.

LEMON: So, Ukraine now. Just outside of Kyiv, CNN goes inside a now abandoned Russian military camp. We're going to take you there. That's next.




LEMON: Now that Russian forces have retreated from outside of Kyiv, we are getting a first look at what they have left behind. We are hearing more about the horrific treatment of Ukrainian civilians.

CNN's Phil Black got an exclusive look at an abandoned Russian military camp, and I have to warn you, some of the images you will see are really disturbing.


PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The sign as a warning, beware, mines. The forest serves as protection, too. A natural spring concealing a vast secret. Here among the trees, about one hour's drive north of Kyiv, are the remains of a sprawling Russian military camp. We are shown around by Ukrainian special forces.

This soldier says that the positions were held by Russian marines. We see a sprawling network of underground fighting positions, command posts, sleeping areas and ammunition storage. While everywhere there is evidence of how the Russians lived, and that evidence suggests their existence here was neither disciplined nor comfortable.

(On camera): It is so quiet here now. Just some bird noise and a light breeze. But recently, there was 60,000 Russian soldiers bedded down through these woods. In a camp that is so large, you cannot see where it begins and where it ends. Living here would have been hard. It was through the coldest of the winter days. Four weeks, stopped here, short of Kyiv, after they failed to take the capital quickly.


(Voice-over): The silence is broken by efforts to deal with some unidentified ordinance. This camp is damning proof of Russia's failures on this front. Poor preparation, desperately wrong assumptions about the numbers and resources needed to conquer Kyiv.

(On camera): What lessons do you take from all of this that will apply to the coming battle for the Donbas in the east?

(Voice-over): He says, we see the volume of forces that invaded this area and we understand that will be two to three times greater in the Donbas. This force was not confined to the forests. Its commanding officers lived a little more comfortably in the nearby village of (INAUDIBLE). Here, civilians tell disturbingly familiar stories.

Vitaliy, a local mechanic, says he was detained and interrogated for almost 24 hours. He says he was beaten, blindfolded, tied up, and subjected to mock executions. He says he has never known fear like it and constantly thought those were his last moments on earth.

Local priest, Vasiliy Benca, describes dealing with the aftermath of even greater cruelty. He says that he found five men tortured and killed in the garden, two more in the forest, and the Russians brought him two dead women and told him to bury them.

Other Russians in this area camped out in fields with their artillery pieces and stole what comforts they could. A mattress, alcohol, the works of Shakespeare.

(On camera): From these firing positions, red (ph) rockets flew through the sky towards (INAUDIBLE), which is relatively a short distance away. When they hit the earth, it was often civilians who felt their power.

UNKNOWN: You can see the result. So many people.

BLACK (on camera): They were hiding in there?



BLACK (voice-over): In Hostomel, resident Dmitry Nikachekov (ph), shows the aftermath of a Russian rocket strike.

UNKNOWN: This is the epicenter of the explosion.

BLACK (voice-over): And where some of its victims were temporarily buried.

UNKNOWN: I feel only hate.

BLACK (voice-over): Only hate?

UNKNOWN: Yes. We can't forgive it for one -- maybe for life.

BLACK (voice-over): For now, the enemies in the forest, fields, and villages have left this part of Ukraine. The fruits of their brief stay, the pain, trauma, and loathing remain.

Phil Black, CNN, Hostomel, Ukraine.


LEMON (on camera): Phil, thank you so much. We'll be right back.



LEMON (on camera): Before we go, here is a look at the unbelievable true story of the man who took on Putin and live to expose the truth. The Sundance award-winning CNN film "Navalny" airs Sunday at 9:00 p.m. on CNN.

Our live coverage from Ukraine continues right after this.



UNKNOWN (voice-over): Hello.

ALEXEI NAVALNY, RUSSIAN OPPOSITION LEADER (through translator): Vladimir Alexandrovich. It's Alexei Navalny calling and I was hoping you could tell me why you wanted to kill me.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): Remarkably, Vladimir Putin faces a legitimate opponent, Alexei Navalny.

NAVALNY: I don't want Putin being president.

I will end war.

If I want to be a leader of a country, I have to organize people.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): The Kremlin hates Navalny so much that they refused to say his name.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): Passengers heard Navalny cry out in agony.

NAVALNY: Come on, poisoned, seriously?

We are creating the coalition to fight this regime.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): If you are killed, what message do you leave behind to the Russian people?

NAVALNY: It's very simple. Never give up.


UNKNOWN (voice-over): Navalny, Sunday at 9:00 on CNN and streaming on CNN Plus.