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More Mariupol Evacuations Planned as Fighting Rages; U.S. Intel Helped Ukraine target Russian Ship; Design Firm Building Housing for Displaced Ukrainians; World Markets React to Wall Street Tumble; Israel Identifies Suspects in Deadly Elad Attack; Chines President Doubles Down on Nation's Zero-COVID Policy. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired May 06, 2022 - 04:00   ET



ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

MAX FOSTER, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and warm welcome to our viewers joining us in the United States and all around the world. I'm Max Foster in London. The U.N. and Red Cross are hoping to get more civilians out of in the besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol today. The head of the Ukrainian president's office is saying the next stage of evacuations from the Azovstal steel plant is underway, but reports of fierce, bloody combat are making things very difficult.

The Donetsk military governor claims about 200 civilians remained trapped inside the plant. The Ukrainian commander accuses Russia of breaking its promise to allow evacuation. Still, Ukraine's president says authorities are doing everything they can to get people out.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): Russian shelling and assault on Azovstal does not stop. But civilians still need to be taken out. Women, children, many children who are still there. Just imagine this hell and they are children. More than two months of constant shelling, bombing and constant death nearby.


FOSTER: Mr. Zelenskyy didn't say how many people left Mariupol on Thursday, only that evacuations from the southern port city are ongoing. The Red Cross says more than 300 people are believed to be from Mariupol and surrounding areas, arrived in Zaporizhzhia on Wednesday.

Sources tell CNN that Ukraine had some help from the U.S. in targeting Russia's flagship destroyer Moskva last month. The warship sink on April 14 after Ukrainian missile strikes. The sources say the Ukrainians spotted the ship, then asked the Americans for confirmation that it was in fact the Moskva. The U.S. then provided intelligence about the ship and its location but was not involved in Ukraine's decision to launch missiles. The Kremlin admits it's well aware that the U.S., U.K., and NATO are sharing intelligence with Ukraine. But the Pentagon press secretary says there are limits.


JOHN KIRBY, PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: We do not provide intelligence of the location of senior military leaders on the battlefield or participate in the targeting decisions of the Ukrainian military. But we do provide them useful intelligence, timely intelligence that allows them to make decisions to better defend themselves against this invasion. And I think the less said about that, honestly, the better.


FOSTER: The White House says the U.S. supplies battlefield intelligence to help Ukraine defend itself but doesn't provide intelligence with the intent to kill Russian generals. That's the upshot here.

Correspondents are across the region covering the conflict from every angle. Clare Sebastian is in London. Nic Robertson is at the Finnish/Russian border. But we begin with Isa Soares in Lviv, in Ukraine with the latest on efforts to get civilians in soldiers out of the steel plant in Mariupol. More now from Isa.


ISA SOARES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Ukrainian soldiers trapped in the Azovstal plant sing the army's battle hymn. It is sweeter for us to die in battle than to live in chains as dumb slaves, they sing in the darkness. A few of the dozens of Ukrainian fighters defending the last patch of Mariupol not in Russian hands.

Above them, the bombardment continues relentlessly. Later, one of the commanders with a message for the world. "It's been the third day that the enemy has broken through the territory of Azovstal. Fierce, bloody combat is ongoing," he says. Accusing the Russians of violating the promise of a truce and preventing the evacuation of civilians who continue to hide deep in bunkers at Azovstal.

The U.N. and Red Cross organized the evacuation of one group of about 100 civilians at the weekend. Since then, none has left. Now, there is hope of another convoy reaching Mariupol.

MARTIN GRIFFITHS, U.N. SPECIAL ENVOY FOR UKRAINE: As we speak, a convoy is proceeding to get to Azovstal by tomorrow morning hopefully to receive those civilians remaining in that bleak hell that they have inhabited for so many weeks and months and take them back to safety.

SOARES (voice-over): Speaking to me earlier, the military governor of Donetsk was much more cautious.


PAVLO KYRYLENKO, DONETSK OBLAST MILITARY ADMINISTRATION (through translator): I would like to be frank that with all due respect to the U.N. and their assistance and the International Committee of the Red Cross, the conditions that are such that they occupier keeps changing them.

SOARES (voice-over): The Russians and their allies, the separatists of the self-styled Donetsk Peoples Republic are showing off their newly won territory, or at least the ruins they fought to seize. This commander points to a massive crater just outside the Azovstal plant. He says the bodies of Ukrainian soldiers are everywhere. We find more and more of them, he adds.

Amid the ruins of Mariupol, once a thriving city of 400,000 people, the new authorities are changing the road signs into Russian. Ukrainian officials expect they will organize a parade on May 9th when Russia celebrates its victory in the Second World War. Whether the Azovstal complex is quiet and empty by then or still being pulverized, no one knows. What's certain are the scars that will remain.

Isa Soares, CNN, Lviv, Ukraine.


FOSTER: Well, it's impossible to know exactly how many Ukrainians have been forced to flee their homes. Millions are displaced internally, while many others are flooding into other countries. The U.N. estimates more than 5.7 million Ukrainians are now refugees with the vast majority of them in Poland.

Joining me now from Lviv, Ukraine, is Anna Pashynska. The co-founder of -- building houses for people displaced by the war. And obviously, so many people have been so generous in trying to support the refugees coming out from Ukraine, also those within Ukraine. But housing is actually the big problem, isn't it?

ANNA PASHYNSKA. CO-FOUNDER OF COHATY.ORG: Hello, hello. I am happy to be here and to speak on behalf of our team Cohaty. This is an initiative in Ivano-Frankivsk. "Co" stands for collective, and "haty" is home in Ukrainian. But when you put these two words together it means "co-haty," to love in Ukrainian.

So, our team is building homes in our region for IDPs. We started one month ago. With our team we got that this is the main issue now, that we need to have a safe housing in the western Ukraine because it saves lives. It saves lives because people who are in Mariupol now, in Donetsk, in Kharkiv who are not safe, they cannot make this decision to go to western Ukraine because they know that cities are overwhelmed with IDPs and there is no housing possibilities for them.

And we are struggling like to deliver a lot of housing opportunities in western cities. So, we've started from Ivano-Frankivsk from the city we are from, and we are able to have a collective of professionals, urbanists, architects, designers, construction teams from all over Ukraine who fled the worst from Kyiv, from Kharkiv, and all together we work on providing decent conditions for IDPs in Ukraine. Yes --

FOSTER: We're seeing pictures of the -- we're seeing pictures of a collective carrying out their work currently. How many people have you manage to get on board to help support the people beneath these homes? PASHYNSKA: So, these are hundreds of people now. So, we have at core

team of 25 people, and the team expands now as we want to scale up. With this model of refurbishment of existing housing in Ivano- Frankivsk and in the western Ukraine, which we can use for housing for IDPs. But those are hundreds of volunteers who helped us. Like, the bigger half IDPs who are volunteering.

Those are professionals, business men and women who have arrived to Ivano-Frankivsk and they really want to help others. They want to work. They come like every day, every day they are there from 10:00 until 7:00 in the evening. And they built, and they eat really fast, and they build, and they built and they work together. So, we've formed construction teams from IDPs who help us. And we also worked with local businesses, local manufacturers. So, I think this is a few hundred people who are working on this project now, altogether.

FOSTER: I mean, what a cohesive effort and it's great to see everyone sort of getting together there. And they're getting a lot of satisfaction from it. But in terms of what you need, are there real shortages.


How are you actually getting all the equipment that you need.

PASHYNSKA: Yes, so basically, we wanted to start fast. So, we couldn't rely on waiting for some money, from some funds or organizations. So, we started a crowd funding campaign. So, people were donating money to our Co-haty project. And we were able to buy the whole equipment, materials and to run this process. So basically, now we need to scale up. To deliver enough -- and I hope that it would be enough. So, this is a huge demand now on housing in western Ukraine.

So, we really need to go to 5, 10, 20 projects simultaneously now. And we need people. We need money. We need equipment. So, we are open to any help you can provide. You can find our details, our story, on our website -- And yes, if you have any -- if you can support us in any way, spread the word, help us financially, help us with some resources. As we also plan to help this community further on with physical, mental health support with basic needs. Yes, so --

FOSTER: Anna Pashynska in Lviv Ukraine. Amazing effort and thank you very much indeed to give this insight. You know, a positive coming out of this horrific situation.

If you'd like to safely and securely help people in Ukraine. You may need help, shelter, food, water. Please go to You'll find several ways you can help there.

Now Wall Street did a complete U-turn on Thursday and saw its worst day of the year. The Dow dropped more than 1000 points, plus the Nasdaq and the S&P 500 also suffered major losses. But the markets scored major gains the day before, which was the best day in two years for the Dow and the S&P.

That's all coming, as a new CNN poll show two thirds of Americans questioned -- disapproved of how President Biden is handling the economy. Then after U.S. Federal Reserve raised its benchmark rate on Wednesday in a bid to control record inflation. But it said it's not considering future hikes larger than 50 basis points.

But Wall Street stumble appears to be creating a domino effect on markets around the world. We're joined by Anna, I mean, to be fair to President Biden, these are extremely usual headwinds that he's having to deal with -- coronavirus, what's happening in China, Russia and the cost of living. But for people trying to make sense of this, it's almost impossible, isn't it?

ANNA STEWART, CNN REPORTER: It is. And I think it's really hard for investors as well actually. And I think that's what we've seen this week. The Federal Reserve made that big decision on Wednesday. We saw a big relief rally as investors thought, great. Not as aggressive a rate hike as we were expecting. But now they're really digesting the economic growth outlook, the inflation outlook. And really moving on every bit of data.

So, yesterday there was negative data looking at U.S. productivity, and we saw this massive sell-off. And as you say that bleeds in to the Asian markets today -- we can bring you those -- all of them down. The Hang Seng leading the way really, and some of that, some comments from Chinese officials saying that they support and reaffirm the zero COVID policy. So, as you say, there's a lot working in to markets right now. And I think we've got choppy days ahead and the U.S. futures pointing down again today.

FOSTER: Yes, and we had an interesting example in the U.K. yesterday. Where they're talking about potential inflation of 10 percent. Which is a frightening number for people trying to afford everyday living with fuel prices going up, food prices going up. And that inevitably means that interest rates will go up which is going to compound problems for ordinary people.

STEWART: Yes, so the Bank of England yesterday, as expected, raise rates the fourth time in a row. But the real shocker I think was on the inflation outlook. As you say, they're expecting that to go over 10 percent this year. And they expect the economy to actually shrink next year. Now as you say, the combination of inflation pushing up prices for businesses, for households, but also an increase in interest rates just means that consumers have much less spending power and that bleeds into corporate profits. That means is going to take a big bite out of that. That is why we're seeing (INAUDIBLE) fall.

So really awful stats in terms of energy, which is really what is pushing up prices here in the U.K., but also in the U.S. and around the world. Energy prices also rose some 50 percent this year. They're expected to rise by a traditional 40 percent.

FOSTER: So, doubling in a year?

STEWART: Everyday Britain waking up being a lot poor.

FOSTER: Yes, OK Anna, thank you. Ahead on CNN NEWSROOM, COVID cases in Beijing are on the rise as

China's leader doubles down on that zero COVID policy.


WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Max, Chinese President Xi Jinping gave his first speech since the brutal lockdown in Shanghai. And after his speech fears are growing that the same thing could happen in the Chinese capital of Beijing.


FOSTER: Israeli police have now identified suspects in an attack that left three people dead and four others wounded. Authorities say two man attacked the victims on the street in the city of Elad, on Thursday. But officials say the attackers managed to flee and a massive manhunt for them is now underway. For more let's go to Elliott Gotkine live for us in Tel Aviv. And this happened on Independence Day.

ELLIOTT GOTKINE, JOURNALIST: Very much so. This clearly isn't the way that Israel hoped that its 74th birthday celebrations would end. But as you say, we have got three killed in this attack and there are three more in hospital. Who have been injured and who are in life- threatening condition. There was an additional person injured as well.

And this man hunt both inside of Israel, and of course, in the West Bank as well are ongoing. Police have named the suspect As'ad Alrafa'ani, age 19 and Sabhi abu Shakir, age 20.


They're believed to be -- they are said by police to be from the Jenin area in the northern West Bank. Which of course, has been a scene of frequent clashes between security forces and Palestinian militants as well. So, that manhunt is ongoing. Prime Minister Naftali Bennett saying, we will get our hands on the terrorists, and ensure they price the price -- Max.

FOSTER: There've been this series of attacks. You know, it's one of the worst periods, hasn't it, for this type of attack in recent years.

GOTKINE: That's right Max. I mean, this way really began March 22nd. Since then, there have been 16 Israelis and to foreign workers killed by Israeli Arabs, or Palestinians in Israel and of course in the West Bank as well. And also, in that period, 31 Palestinians, including three assailants have been killed in clashes with Israeli security forces.

And although, the latest attack was condemned by Mahmoud Abbas, the President of the Palestinian Authority. And was described by the Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, as a horrific terrorist attack. At the same time, you know, we've seen that these attacks have been happening and then there've been clashes between security forces and Palestinians as they've gone to either apprehend suspects or people, they suspect of having collaborated with the suspects or indeed, to try to prevent additional attacks. And then we've just seen further attacks.

And despite the increased security presence, and they've extended the closure of the West Bank through the weekend, now these attacks just still keep on happening, Max. So, it's, you know, it's hard really to see exactly when this current wave is going to end.

FOSTER: OK, Elliott in Tel Aviv, thank you very much.

Now to some troubling news from the World Health Organization. The agency says the global COVID-19 death toll is three times higher than reported. According to new estimates, nearly 15 million people around the world died either directly or indirectly as a result of the virus between the beginning of 2020, and the end of 2021.


SAMIRA ASMA, ASSISTANT DIRECTOR GENERAL, W.H.O. DATA, ANALYTICS AND DELIVERY: It is both a shock, as well as expected. Shock because this is truly a tragic and a staggering number of almost 15 million excess deaths. Direct, and or indirectly associated with the COVID-19 pandemic just over a period of 24 months.


FOSTER: The data is particularly concerning for India. The W.H.O. estimates that the country's true COVID death toll is ten times higher than government figures. On Thursday, the India's government raised multiple objections over the validity of the mathematical models used by the agency.

Meanwhile, Chinese state media is reporting that there are 20 to 22 Asian games set to take place in September have been postponed. It comes as China's president is doubling down on his nation's zero COVID policy. For more on that I'm joined by CNN's Will Ripley in Taiwan. And it's so impossible, isn't it to predict how this is going to end up with this policy currently in place?

RIPLEY: Well, it is interesting because you look at much of the rest of the world, Max, where nations have moved on from zero COVID. Here in Taiwan, there is a process of going on from zero COVID because it takes such an in excruciating economic toll, a mental health toll. There are so many reasons why people want to get out of their homes and resume with normal life.

And the solution for that is vaccines and vaccinations. The problem in China is that they put a lot of effort into these lockdowns. They have almost 200 million people in at least 30 Chinese cities, either in full or partial lockdown right now. And yet they still have a huge portion of their high risk, elderly population that is not been vaccinated. And likely won't be until the end of the year, authorities say, before they can get those people vaccinated.

And so, when you have a country of 1.5 billion people, the rulers, the Communist Party leaders in Beijing have decided that zero COVID is the absolute only way for that country to move forward despite the mounting costs. Both in terms of the economy -- the Chinese economy shrank in April.

In Beijing, they have dozens of new cases reported every single day. A little over 2,000 active cases right now in a city of almost 20 million people. And yet they have close schools, libraries, shopping malls, all public centers. That nearly 20 million residents of Beijing are now undergoing their sixth round of compulsory mass testing. And there is growing fear of a Shanghai-style lockdown in Beijing.

Shanghai's case numbers continue to be significantly higher than anywhere else in the country. Which is why 25 million people, for the last month, have essentially not been able to leave their homes or their districts. It's now down to about 8 million people in Shanghai who cannot leave their apartment compound -- their residential compounds.

In other areas where there hasn't been a new case reported in two weeks, people can at least move about within their district. But still mobility, severely limited. People have been posting on social media that they're having a hard time getting access to enough food, to medical supplies.


And even medical emergencies not COVID related have been turned away from hospitals. And yet despite that growing chorus of criticism, the Chinese President Xi Jinping using languages that remind some analysts of the late Chairman Mao during the Cultural Revolution. Saying things like, if China doesn't advance, they will fall back. And saying that everyone needs to be tested and quarantined and treated, if they are suspected of having any sort of connection to COVID.

Let me read you a portion of what President Xi said about anyone who has a dissenting view about what is happening.

He said: that all levels of government must resolutely adhere to the zero COVID policy and resolutely fight with any word and acts distorting, doubling and denying China's COVID control policy.

Which is if you read between the lines, Max, means that the secret police could be after folks who dare to speak out about this crushing restriction that's being imposed on them. Again, you're talking about almost 200 million people in China for cases that would be considered low almost anywhere else in the world.

FOSTER: And the numbers are extraordinary. Will, thank you very much indeed, for bringing us that.

Now capitals across Europe are watching the Ukrainian war with deep worry about their own security of course. Finland isn't waiting to see if Russian aggression threatened its territory. It's ramping up its own defenses, just in case.

Plus, British voters including the Prime Minister made their choices for a local council membership. And early results didn't look good for the ruling Conservative Party. That's just ahead.


FOSTER: Ukraine's military is reporting fewer Russian ground attacks in the last 24 hours, suggesting relatively static frontlines. In Mariupol, Ukrainian troops continue to hold on to the Azovstal steel plant. The huge factory believed to be in the last remaining stronghold in the strategic port city. And fighting there is said to be bloodied and intense. Dozens were reported wounded.