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Don Lemon Tonight
Russian Troops Plans To Bomb Civilians Trapped In Mariupol; President Zelenskyy Calls Russia A Source Of Evil; Russian Brigade Awarded For Slaughtering Civilians; Ukrainian Commander Don't Trust Any Word Coming From Russia; Russian Father Looking For His Son; U.S. Can't Track Weapons Sent To Ukraine; Tim Scott Going After CRT. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired April 19, 2022 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LAURA COATES, CNN HOST: Wow, I can't wait to watch Navalny. It's coming up this Sunday at 9 p.m. Jim?
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN HOST: It if frightening but it's inspiring. I was able to meet his wife and daughter. That family is making a brave, brave stand. Thanks so much, Laura. I will be here in Ukraine tomorrow for CNN Tonight again, Laura will be reporting from Washington. Meanwhile, DON LEMON TONIGHT starts right now. Don, good to see. You
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Good to see you, good to see Laura as well. Jim, I want to ask, because one day after these deadly strikes, the deadly strikes in Lviv, what is the feeling there on the ground?
SCIUTTO: Steely, man, steely nerves that people here. I got to tell you. We are on the way to the site of one of those missiles strikes yesterday. And as we arrived there, you know, minutes after the missile had hit, people were out walking the streets, trying to get back to going about their daily lives. You see that walk around Lviv today. I've never seen more places open in the city.
I think there is a defiance, there's a proud defiance, and I know that you saw this while you are here too, a proud defiance among the people, that this is part of their stand against Russia. If they are not fighting, they are trying to live their lives.
LEMON: I've got to ask you if still happens, because every night when I was there, I would see people, they would just stop and watch President Zelenskyy, he comes out, you know, about 11.30 at night, at the nightly address, in tonight's address, he had very strong words about Russia. What did he say?
SCIUTTO: He did. I'm going to quote from him, because they were powerful, and you are right, I see that he is on all the time. People got the TVs on wherever they are, they watch his words, they listen to his words, his words tonight directed at Russia. And they were strong.
He said that Russia will be marked as a source of evil for targeting civilians. And he goes on to say that the Russian military will be written in history as the most barbaric and inhumane army in the world. I mean, what he's talking about here -- that may sound bombastic, it may sound like hyperbole, but what he's siding is what you and I are witnessing every day, and that is the direct and deliberate targeting of civilians.
Not just with, you know, a shell here and missile there, I mean, we are seeing the raising of entire cities. I mean, you've seen those aerial pictures like cities like Mariupol and elsewhere, I mean, it looks like Dresden in World War II. Right?
So, that's what he's talking about there. By the way, there are a lot of Ukrainian officials walking the streets of Bucha and elsewhere to document what they say are war crimes. They are going to be prosecutions to come.
LEMON: It's morning for Jim, but it's time for him to go to bed. Jim, get some rest.
LEMON: We will see you tomorrow. Thank you, sir. Be safe.
SCIUTTO: Thank you.
LEMON: This is DON LEMON TONIGHT.
Eastern Ukraine under attack as Russia launches a new more brutal phase of Vladimir Putin's invasion. And Ukrainian forces in Mariupol make what maybe their last stand. I'm going to explain. The Ukrainian marine commander speaking with CNN, begging for an international evacuation mission and saying that they have just days or hours left.
Hundreds of desperate civilian seeking shelter in the former steel plant, as Ukrainian officials say Russian forces are bombing and shelling it. Thousands more hiding across the besieged city that used to be home.
CNN is not in Mariupol, but Reuters shot this video, take a look.
That as Ukraine releases a chilling alleged communications intercept. They say that this is a Russian ground unit commander saying that Russian planes are planning to, quote, "level everything to the ground at the steel plant," and going on to say this.
(BEGIN VOICE CLIP)
UNKNOWN (through translator): We are expecting surprises from Russia here.
UNKNOWN (through translator): What kind of surprises?
UNKNOWN (through translator): Three- ton ones, from the sky.
(END VOICE CLIP)
LEMON: CNN cannot vouch for the authenticity of their recording, but Ukraine has previously released intercepted radio traffic of Russian soldiers. More on that in just a moment here on this program.
Vladimir Putin -- Volodymyr Zelenskyy, I should say, saying this tonight about Russia's army.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, PRESIDENT OF UKRAINE (through translator): Forever the Russian army will be written in history as the most barbaric and inhumane army in the world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: And if you have any doubt, this says it all. Vladimir Putin awarding an honorary title to the brigade accused of committing war crimes in Bucha. The horrible, disturbing images seared into our memories. Bucha, the town that will forever be synonymous with the brutal slaughter of civilians, where those Russian forces withdrew leaving bodies in the streets, lying there where they died.
And Vladimir Putin honors his forces for what he calls their, quote, "great heroism and courage."
We've got a lot to get to tonight, we're going to begin in Mariupol, the last stand for forces defending that besieged city.
CNN's Matt Rivers.
MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): For the battered and desperate citizens of Mariupol, a chilling new threat has emerged. The security service of Ukraine or SBU, released a purported communications intercept of a Russian ground unit commander who said Russian aircraft were planning to, quote, "level everything to the ground" around Azovstal.
UNKNOWN (through translator): Will there be some kind of explosion?
UNKNOWN (through translator): They said to level everything to the ground.
UNKNOWN (through translator): They are being bombed, and bombed, they are knocking them out.
RIVERS: CNN cannot vouch for the authenticity of the recording, but the SBU has previously released audio from intercepted radio traffic revealing Russian soldiers discussing killing and raping civilians, bolstering allegations of war crimes by Russian troops.
Military observers have also noted a tendency of Russian troops to use unsecured communications in Ukraine. For now, a Ukrainian commander says Russian forces are, quote, "willingly bombing and shelling the plant." A sprawling complex in Mariupol's southeast, that once employed more than 10,000 people. It's unclear how many Ukrainian forces are at the site, but one
commander says the Russians are using a free fall bomb, rockets, bunker buster bombs and other artillery at the facility. Video posted on government social media which CNN cannot verify, shows dozens of women and children who say they have been saying under the facility for weeks, holding out against Russian attacks.
The surrender deadline Russian forces issued to Ukrainian troops has now expired, but the Russian military official in charge of the operation said they will allow the civilians safe passage out of the area.
MIKHAIL MIZINTSEV, DIRECTOR, RUSSIAN NATIONAL AND DEFENSE CONTROL CENTER (through translator): Russian leadership will guarantee safe evacuation of each and every civilian as well as the safety of the humanitarian convoys movement in any direction they choose.
RIVERS: It's unclear if the Ukrainians will take the word of the Russian general who has himself been accused of excesses during the Mariupol campaign. Not all of Mariupol civilians are in the steel factory. Tens of thousands are trying to survive in other parts of the city.
CNN is not in Mariupol, but the Reuters News Agency found these people cooking outside a residential building on Monday. They're chopping wood to make a fire to boil water, some soup, and even cook some pancakes. This woman cutting a boy's hair says, quote, "they need to quickly fix the water supply problem, how can we live without water? It's horrible." And this woman says at the bombardment --
OLGA, MARIUPOL RESIDENT (through translator): To be honest, we are not well. I have mental problems after airstrikes. That's for sure. I'm really scared. When I hear a plane, I just ran away.
RIVERS (on camera): And Don, CNN actually spoke to the commander of the Ukrainian marines that are holdup inside that steel plant complex. He said that the people inside don't trust the Russians when they say they will provide safe passage for the soldiers and the civilians that are inside there.
He's actually calling on a third-party country to provide an evacuation route for all the people that are holdup inside there. That's how much the people there don't trust the Russians. And as he was speaking to us, that commander said this may be my last statement because we only have a few days, or even hours left. Don?
LEMON: Matt Rivers, thank you so much.
I want to bring in now CNN's Ed Lavandera live for us in the capital city of Kyiv. Ed, hello to you.
President Zelenskyy is calling Russia the source of evil for targeting civilians. Russia is now focused on the Donbas region in the east. What can you tell us about the fighting there? ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's been another day of heavy
bombardment, Don, in various cities there in eastern Ukraine from Kharkiv, down south into the Luhansk and the Donbas regions. And it's been intense. There has been three people killed, 16 wounded in Kharkiv.
The bombing intensifies as you get into some of the smaller cities and villages there in eastern central Ukraine. And that is why you're hearing from Ukrainian officials pleading with people to evacuate to safety as quickly as they can. That they are running out of time. And he described in one particular city that had been taken over by Russian forces where there were a number of people left behind, civilians that weren't able to get out in time. Ukrainian officials are describing those people simply as hostages.
So, that bombardment continues, we anticipate to see more of that, as Russian forces really try to soften up Ukrainian military forces there on the ground. And perhaps, in light and anticipating more of a ground incursion in the days ahead. So expect more of the bombardment to continue.
LEMON: Ed, we are learning that Kyiv's deputy mayor requested some 200,000 respirators on the chance that there is a potential chemicals weapons attack. What's up with that?
LAVANDERA: Yes, these respirators are essentially gas masks. There is still a concern and it's backed up by a U.S. intelligence official who says that they do not believe that the risk of Russians using chemical weaponry is still some -- is still something that could very likely happen. And they have to anticipate that.
And there's also an issue with just getting gas masks supplies and respirators in a timely fashion. There is a great deal of demand for this kind of equipment, and so getting it into the country it will be difficult. It will be a logistical challenge. And I believe that that's why, you know, what you are seeing this request for his 200,000 gas masks to get a little bit be ahead of what could be a logistical problem and getting that kind of equipment here into the country.
But the bigger picture here is that they don't really believe that -- they believe that they are still a high risk, that Russia uses chemical weapons here at some point, even here including the area around Kyiv.
LEMON: Yes. Listen, there's one tragic story after another. So many playing out there. You reported today, Ed, on a son looking for his missing father near Kyiv. Tell us about that, please.
LAVANDERA: Yes, this was a 22-year-old man whose father went missing on March 8th, the last text messages this son got from his father was that he was driving into some areas just west of Kyiv to help evacuate a friend in areas that were being taken over by Russian forces. And this has been a saga for this family of trying to track down where the father is. He has disappeared, they have not been able to find him. They've only
really been able to start driving around in the last week. So, they go everywhere, they search looking for his car, description of him and they have had no luck so far. They go to police stations, they go stopping people on the street asking them if they had -- you know, showing pictures of his father, to see if they had any luck.
And this really highlights, Don, the challenge and the overwhelming nature of what is left in the wake of Russian forces evacuating this area around northern Kyiv. Hundreds of people buried in mass graves, unidentified, the conditions of the bodies in indescribable terms.
So just being able to identify these victims of this war is a challenge. And there's really no kind of central way of families like this to be able to figure out and put all the pieces of this puzzle together, so it just remains a mystery. So, for this family, this father has for now simply vanished.
LEMON: Heart wrenching. No other way. And just inexplicable why Vladimir Putin is doing this. Thank you, Ed Lavandera. I appreciate your reporting. Thanks so much.
Russia says it is a new phase in Vladimir Putin's war, but how much worse will things get? And what more can the west do to help Ukraine stay in the fight?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
IHOR ZHOVKVA, DEPUTY HEAD, OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT OF UKRAINE: There is not a single place in town, city, or a village left where it's safe now in Ukraine.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Tonight, sources telling CNN the Biden administration is preparing a new $800 million arms package for Ukraine as Russia declares a new phase of its war and launches a large-scale military assault on cities in the east.
A Ukrainian commander saying the situation in the besieged city of Mariupol is critical that Russia is intensifying and its bombardment of the steel plant in the city where hundreds of civilians are taking shelter.
So, joining me now is Ambassador John Herbst, a former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine. So happy to have you back on. Good evening, sir.
So, let's talk about Mariupol. It seems that the breaking point right now this marine commander tonight pleading for help to evacuate civilians and troops. What do you expect in this new phase of the war in the coming days? JOHN HERBST, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO UKRAINE: Sadly, I expect more
of the same barbary that we've seen. We know that Moscow has not permitted any real humanitarian corridors and has in bad faith established corridors which is unviolated. And that's why that commander is calling to a third country to provide the assurances and the safe passage for civilians out of Mariupol.
But Putin wants to ensure the surrender of Mariupol and in his mind the way to do that is to kill civilians as well as the military. That's a very, very sad situation.
LEMON: I want to talk about this $800 million security assistance package that CNN is hearing about for Ukraine. The exact details are still being discussed by President Biden. It says the U.S. plans to send more artillery. As long as the military aid keeps flowing is Ukraine still in this fight?
HERBST: I don't have any doubt that Ukraine will ultimately win, the only question is how much bloodshed Ukraine will have to suffer. And the more military aid we send, the more powerful military we send, the sooner we send it, the less Ukrainian lives will be lost.
So, today the aid package we're hearing about today is good news. It reflects the fact that the aid package we heard about last week which was also good news, was not good enough news. So last week we decided to send 18 units of -- of 155, that's long-range artillery. Good we're sending it but it was much too little.
Now we are hearing about more long-range artillery, multiple rocket launchers that we should have agreed to send last week, so we are making incremental progress in the right direction.
LEMON: There is also security assistance and sanctions that President Biden discussed on a call with world leaders, a video call with world leaders, what more can the U.S. and the west do at this point ambassador?
HERBST: I would say that on sanctions the administration has been consistently strong, although perhaps not always a strong as I would like. And our weapons are not as strong. We can provide most of the weapons Ukrainians need ourselves and we should be doing that. And we should we change our minds about getting fighter planes and bombers to Ukraine. We should've sent those months ago, we should make this decision now to send them.
But we should also encourage the Germans to send tanks, the Germans are once again being skittish which is unfortunate given their sorry history in accommodating Moscow's aggression. They need to change that. We can encourage them.
And we need to do more work with our allies and partners on additional sanctions. But again, the Biden administration is moving in the right direction just a little bit too slowly.
LEMON: Does -- does the president have anyone in his ear who is speaking truth to power as you are on this program?
HERBST: Well, there are other people like me, people who know Ukraine well are making these points. My understanding --
LEMON: But are the right people hearing them. I mean, you're telling our audience but I'm wondering if the president is hearing them, if the national security adviser is hearing them, if the secretary of defense is hearing this?
HERBST: My sense is the chairman of the joint chiefs, General Milley is hearing this and he is making the right arguments on the inside. That's my understanding.
LEMON: OK. The blatant targeting of civilians just goes on, there's also the news that President Putin is honoring the Russian brigade behind the atrocities in Bucha, what message does that send to his forces and to the world really to honor such atrocity?
HERBST: Well, I think Putin had two reasons for doing that. And of course, it's awful. One, his war is a war against civilians as well as against military, so these guys did exactly what he wanted. So, he wants to encourage other Russian troops to do the same. So, he's rewarding them.
But also, it shows his contempt for the west and for western -- for our values. For humane treatment of civilian populations in war. So, it's a way of demonstrating that contempt, but mainly it's to encourage the shoulders to do more of the same. Which is another reason why I think our policy get stronger over time, our initial reluctance is partly overcome by seeing just how vicious Putin's war is. And how we, in a sense, if we care about the Ukrainian people, we have no choice but to give them the arms to defeat this very evil invasion.
LEMON: Very important voice that we like hearing on this program, Ambassador. Thank you very much. We'll have you back.
HERBST: Thank you.
LEMON: Thank you.
Sources telling CNN the U.S. is having trouble tracking the weapons they're sending into Ukraine. Is there a possibility that they end up in Russian hands? I'm going to ask a former marine commander who is in Kyiv training Ukrainian troops. That is next.
LEMON: Seven more planes full of U.S. military aid to Ukraine on their way in the next 24 hours as part of the latest multi-million- dollar package of security assistance to Ukraine. The Pentagon says the U.S. has so far sent more than $2.6 billion worth of security aid since Putin began his invasion of Ukraine including stinger missiles, Javelins, artillery, armored vehicles, helicopters and over 50 million rounds of ammo.
But sources tell CNN that the U.S. is having issues tracking the equipment once it makes it to Ukraine.
Joining me now to discuss is retired Colonel Andrew Milburn in Kyiv, he is a retired special operations commander in the U.S. Marine Corps who has now set up a training center for Ukrainian troops.
Thank you, Colonel, for joining us. I appreciate what you're doing, and we're more than grateful that you're here on the program.
ANDREW MILBURN, FORMER DEPUTY COMMANDER, U.S. SPECIAL OPERATIONS COMMAND CENTER: Thanks, Don. It's good to be in.
LEMON: So, part of the issue is that the U.S. does not have a troop presence on the ground to distribute, oversee the supplies, to document what's going on. You say too much aid is being piled up in Lviv, so what needs to be done to make sure that this equipment ends up where it needs to go to be?
MILBURN: Yes, 100 percent. So, let we explain the problem, Don. The -- if you do not have control of every node in the logistics supply pipeline you don't have control of that pipeline. I mean, that's the totality, right? A hundred percent true.
So, it is no good United States sending millions and millions of dollars of equipment into the country when not a single, not a single member of the military, and I'm not -- listen, I'm not questioning policy in that regard, not a single member at the military can cross that border. But not only that, not a single contractor. And the coordination frankly is dreadful.
So yes, for a number of reasons the stuff is piling up in Lviv, meanwhile, units on the front line are going short of everything. Don, you don't even have to believe me on this. So, you know, if you guys do some investigative reporting which you do I know, we gladly escort a CNN reporter to a unit on the front line, obviously, you know, we can keep them relatively safe and we show you what we mean.
Now we wouldn't just pick one unit, we pick units right across the front. They are short -- there is having guys bleed out at that casually collection points. OK? This is almost incomprehensible for a western army in the 21st century. Because they lack, they lack sufficient tourniquets, they lack IFAKs, that's the individual first aid kit, they lack traumatic kits. They lack the means to transport casualties to the nearest FRS, to the nearest hospital.
Meanwhile, Lviv is full of NGOs who go to restaurants and bars and having -- you know, kind of living the life of Riley that they end -- who can blame them, they can't -- they're not allowed outside Lviv. Again, you don't have to believe me, send someone in the country and I'll show you this is true.
The problem is that most reporters here are in an echo chamber, they too are in Lviv, they drive around, they see soldiers at checkpoints, so well keep it out because they're right by the warehouses. OK?
What about the hospitals? That the, you know, the NGO hospitals that have come into the country, why the hospitals on the frontline struggling to treat casualties? Why is the Ukrainian military suffering a disproportion amount of guys who are dying from wounds that they would survive? I'll tell you why, because the NGO hospitals that come to the country don't get to be on to Lviv. Again, you don't have to believe me, --
MILBURN: -- ask -- I don't know --
LEMON: OK. Colonel, listen, I respect your passion. I respect your passion.
MILBURN: Let me just say --
LEMON: No, no, I understand -- I want to offer solutions, so I want to help you. So, I'm trying to help you. So then, what -- there is an issue, you said that people are bleeding out in the front lines, all this equipment is piling up in Lviv.
LEMON: I get you. I believe you. OK. So, then what's the solution, what do you need?
MILBURN: You know, one of the -- one of the solutions is to use organizations like mine, this is, we're not for profit. I don't to make money out of this, but at least reach into countries to my knowledge with one of the very few organizations in country with Americans, and it's called the Mozart Group.
I do ask your viewers to check us out www.themozartgroup.com. If you're kind enough to donate that's great, that will help us, that will give us longevity in the country. What we're doing is we're shaking stuff loose from warehouses, but we've also got contacts in Poland, in Germany and we can ensure that this stuff gets into the hands of units that are needed.
And primarily, because you know, we've got limited bandwidth we focus on special operations units who are in the fight. Again, you don't have to believe me, we film stuff, we're happy to document us turning this stuff over. So, it's a no -- it's a no-lose situation. The U.S. government.
Incomprehensibly, it seems as though the U.S. is just pounding its head against the wall by not looking at resources that are available in country to ensure equitable distribution. I just want to add one --
(CROSSTALK) LEMON: Well, I under --
MILBURN: OK, go ahead.
LEMON: yes. I'll let you add, I understand what you're saying because I went -- I spent time with Jose Andres, the same sort of red tape and bureaucracy as far as getting supplies for food, right, and water, and those sorts of things. It existed with that, and his organization is able to cut through that, the government bureaucracy.
LEMON: So again, you are suggesting as far as helping people on the front lines to cut through all the red tape, and the time that it takes the very valuable time for getting the equipment to the people who needed the most.
MILBURN: Yes, that's correct. So, there's other organization that is an NGO, the Mozart Group is not an NGO because we do dreadful things like train Ukrainians to defend themselves, which involved, you know, weapons training which is -- which means that, you know, we cannot be registered.
But the Ukraine Freedom Alliance, I ask your, again, your viewers, is one organization that I know and we work with them to get this stuff into the hands of units that need it.
So, you know, if you -- if you feel a little bit uncomfortable contributing money to an organization that does include weapons training, does include tactical training, or an addition to, you know, combat casualty care and all the other stuff that we do, then by all means, please look up the Ukraine Freedom Alliance, a guy named Phil Anderson heads that -- extraordinary human being.
And I guarantee you that every penny donated to that organization goes to good. And sadly, you cannot say that about across the board. And again, don't believe -- you don't have to believe me, Don, ask Americans first combat casualties they are treating right now.
LEMON: Look, I get it that you guys are on the ground and you know -- you guys are on the ground.
MILBURN: Vehicles stacked up in Lviv. OK.
LEMON: Say again? Repeat that again. Sorry, there's a delay, but go on, repeat what you're saying there, vehicles stuck up in the streets.
MILBURN: Yes, yes. So, you know, these NGO hospitals have resources, they've got vehicle stacked up. Meanwhile, you know, we're begging, borrowing, and stealing to get vehicles to give to units on the front line so they can evacuate their own casualties. You know? It's not like they are doing bad things for this bad cause.
Again, go to Lviv, go and poke around in these NGO hospitals, but if I was a donor to one of those large organizations, I would be a little bit upset that nowhere near the front line.
MILBURN: Nowhere near at all. OK? So, it's not just USG, it's across the board demining. There's 126,000 kilometers, square kilometers of this country that the Ukrainian government has said is uninhabitable from an unexploded ordinance.
Where are the demining NGOs? They fled the country, they all bugged out along with the U.S. embassy on day one or two. Again, you don't have to believe me, start asking around.
LEMON: No, we believe.
MILBURN: Ask --
LEMON: Listen, the reason -- the reason I said earlier --
MILBURN: We are the only organization -- Don, just hear me out one second. We are the only organization right now who are focusing on helping the Ukrainian government with demining. We had a meeting today with MOD, they were very grateful. We have volunteers. An extraordinary organization in South Africa is backing us.
A guy named (Inaudible) Kruger. Face, if you're watching this, thank you so much. You are a true hero. And I wish there were more American organizations like yours providing equipment and EOD technicians, free of charge to the Ukrainian government to help clear this mess.
Ask the Ukrainian government, ask how many casualties they are taking, all right. The civilians, not just military, a lot of civilians --
LEMON: Colonel --
MILBURN: -- in previously occupied areas. Because Russia have -- Russians have littered this area with DPICM with cluster munitions.
LEMON: I understand that. Listen, I respect your passion. The reason I wanted you to get to the solutions sooner is that because I know I do this every night, we have limited time together. So, I'm not being rude, I just know that I have to get to the break at some point. And I want you to get your point across in the time that we have allotted for you.
So, we've got on a long time, but I appreciate it. And what you said I think is very valid and there's a lot of things that need to be done to get the help to where it is needed the most.
I don't know if we have a CNN in Impact Your World full screen that we can put up, but contact the organizations that the colonel just mentioned, also go to cnn.com/impact, and you can find out how you can help contribute as well.
Thank you, Colonel. Be safe. We're going to have you back because we want to hear more about this. Thanks so much, OK?
MILBURN: Hey, thank you very much, Don.
LEMON: And be safe. We'll be right back.
LEMON: Vladimir Putin sending a clear and grim signal about his intentions in Ukraine, awarding an honorary title to the military brigade accused of unspeakable war crimes in the town of Bucha. We've seen horrific images of what Russian forces left in their wake. Here it is. Mass killings, bound body shot in the head, and Putin is praising the soldiers for their, quote, "great heroism and courage," even as his government downplays the sinking of a warship, the Moskva, as CNN's Alex Marquardt reports.
ALEXANDER MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR U.S. SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice over): A humiliating loss for Russia, but a devastating one for the parents of the sailors killed. And anger is growing over the lack of answers. The father of a young conscript, a cook, writing on social media, a tragedy occurred, the truth about which we have yet to find out. Dmitry Shkrebets the story that they're getting, a lie, a blatant and cynical lie.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Let's discuss now. Julia Ioffe is here, founding partner and Washington correspondent at Puck. Hi, Julia. Thanks for joining. I appreciate it. Good evening to you.
While Putin honors the soldiers who held Bucha, this Russian father is pleading for answers about his missing son who was on the Moskva. What does this tell us about how the war is being sold inside Russia?
JULIA IOFFE, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, PUCK: It seems like it's being sold the exact same way it's been sold this entire time which is a very cleaned up sanitized version of what we're all seeing, and so is being sold to people as a victorious war of liberation of Ukraine. And so, you know, on one hand -- they are being shown that there were no massacres, and if there were massacres, there were probably Nazis. And so, these people are worth award -- awarding medals to.
LEMON: No matter how -- no matter the propaganda on TV, how many dead Russian soldiers will it take, Julia, before more parents start demanding accountability from Vladimir Putin?
IOFFE: You know, I really don't think we should count on that for several reasons. One, is that, you know, there was no, for example, no mass movement in the U.S. when the body bags started coming home from Iraq. Right? People, especially parents who have lost children, don't want to think that their children have died in vain.
They want to believe that they are heroes, that they died for something. And that inadvertently feeds into the government message that this war, whatever wars being fought, is necessary. And that was (Inaudible) in the society that is pretty much free. In Russia people are scared.
There are reports that when families are told about their sons being killed, that they are being told and threatened by the Russian military to not speak about their child's death on pain of punishment. And these, you know, these are sons coming from very depressed and economically underserved regions of Russia where this is really the only way up and out for many of these young men.
And between that, the fear, and the propaganda, I think people believe that their sons are dying for something. If they don't think that they died in vain, they are too afraid to speak up. And because the only economic opportunity in these regions, they are all the more reluctant to speak up about it.
So, I wouldn't expect any kind of mass movement of mothers. I think this is also a society that has really come to devalue human life and feel that, you know, their lives aren't worth much of anything.
LEMON: It's just Putin praising this brigade that held Bucha for, quote, "protecting Russia's sovereignty and national interest." Is he sending a signal that these war crimes are happening with his blessing? You just said that it's sort of dehumanizing or they devalue human life. But what is this message, I don't understand it?
IOFFE: Well, the message from the government all along is that what happened in Bucha was a provocation, that it was a false flag operation to humiliate Russia. And that either these things didn't happen or they happened and were -- there were any number of versions of what happened flooding around out there. These were Ukrainians killing Russians, these were Russians killing Nazis, these were fake bodies and kind of dummies scattered around the streets.
But on top of that, I think this is a message of defiance from Putin saying, we don't care what you say about us. If you say they are war criminals, we'll still award the medals. And we'll sow doubt as to what they did over there and we will not bow to your pressure to your moral pressure. And we want our troops to fight ruthlessly and to subjugate the population.
LEMON: Julia, thank you. I'll see you soon. I appreciate it.
IOFFE: Thanks, Don.
LEMON: He's the only black Republican senator, the only one. And tonight, he is railing against critical race theory. What Senator Tim Scott is saying about it. That's next.
[22:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: So, here we go again. Another round of manufactured outrage over critical race theory. GOP Senator Tim Scott speaking out tonight, claiming some kids are being taught their oppressors. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TIM SCOTT (R-SC): Parents have a right to know what their kids are being taught in the classroom, teaching kids that some are oppressors is just as bad as teaching other kids that they're always going to be victims. If my mom cannot read a book in the class, at the school board meeting because it's too vulgar, why in the world we allow our kids to read it in the classroom?
SCOTT: To fix that, we should demand that parents have access to their child's curriculum.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Let's discuss now, CNN's political commentator Ana Navarro and CNN political analyst Natasha Alford are both here. Hi, everyone.
So, Ana, Senator Scott digging in on this manufactured outrage over critical race theory, kids are not being taught that they are oppressors. What do you think about his speech?
ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You know, I actually thought it was very interesting and I thought it was powerful. Because it's hard to argue with Tim Scott. Because Tim Scott is a black man who grew up in the south. So, when he says this is what I live, and you can call me a prop, you can do this and you can do that, it's hard to argue what somebody's lived experience.
That, I also thought it was interesting that he was doing it and what is, or used to be hollow ground for Republicans. He's not doing it in Mar-a-Lago at some fund-raiser, he's not doing it at C-PAC. He's doing it at the Reagan Library. And he kept bringing up Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan. I'm not sure either of them could get past the Republican primary in today's Republican Party.
It sounded to me like a speech of somebody who wanted to go further than the Senate. That being said, I am disappointed that he didn't speak more about the need to read "Beloved" by Toni Morrison, that he didn't speak more about the need to read why the caged bird sings by Maya Angelou.
Learning the history of Emmett Till to be able to put into context the reaction to George Floyd's death. So, I think, look, this idea that people want to make a little white children feel oppressed is a fallacy, it's a manufactured outrage. And it's being used by some to erase the teaching of history. And that's where I think Tim Scott's voice needs to be raised. LEMON: Natasha, Glenn Youngkin won the governor's race in Virginia by
centering his campaign, remember on parental or parent's rights or parental rights. Is the playbook tried and true at this point, what are Democrats doing to fight back here?
NATASHA ALFORD, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, Don, it's a winning strategy. When you look at all of the bills that have been introduced to essentially silence the teaching of real history. They have identical language. These bills are trying to silence any talk of white privilege, and what they do which is really, really strategic as they constantly bring up MLK., Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. which I wish I wish they would stop, right, and to use the line about color blindness.
That is not what Dr. King's necessarily stood for. Ignore -- he did not stand for ignorance, he stands -- he stood for us knowing the truth of what is going on in this country. And in fact, some argue that's why he died, because he was speaking about the truth.
So, you can turn a blind eye to the issue, kids are going to see what's happening in this country, and it's a question on whether we empower them with the historical context to understand it or if we allow them to stay ignorant.
LEMON: Well, there's a whole difference about color blindness and judging someone by the content of the character not by the color of their skin. The two are not synonymous, they do not mean the same thing, Natasha.
ALFORD: Yes, and unfortunately, we have a generation that will not be able to tell the difference if you remove these conversations from the classroom, or if you create legislation that has a chilling effect for teachers. Right? Who fear that if you have certain conversations they will be punished? And that is the entire intent is to chill that conversation and it's unfortunate that it keeps happening. It's history repeating itself which means we never learn from it.
LEMON: Quick response, Ana?
NAVARRO: But you know, I don't know that it's such a tried and true. And we're going to -- it's going to get tested, right? It's going to get tested in November. A tried-and-true formula because it's now actually being implemented. It's just a theory, it's not just a campaign slogan, and we are seeing teachers quit.
We are seeing math books, math, math books be banned because of CRT and offensive content. We are seeing a war against Disney world. And in the meantime, people like me in Florida are sitting here and going, well, we need access to home insurance, we need access to affordable housing, we need something to be done about the condo laws so that buildings don't collapse and kill the people trapped in there.
And our state government is so busy legislating and waging manufactured wars against Mickey Mouse, and against Disney World, and against "Beloved," and against Maya Angelou that all the pressing needs of Floridians aren't being met. So, I'm not sure if five more months of this are going to end up being as good as Republicans think it would.
LEMON: Well, we'll see.
ALFORD: It's always effective because it's personal, right? And it worked during segregation, it is -- it is a tactic that is meant to divide, and it's meant to play to people's fears, that's what they are doing.
LEMON: Thank you, both. I appreciate it. We'll be right back.